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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Find a Murderer, Traffic in Illegal Nuts, and Fight for Dominance at the Watering Hole

by W. Eric Martin

• Designer John Clowdus of Small Box Games is running a quick Kickstarter campaign for the two-player card game ExoFauna/Duo, which features one part area control, one part tile-laying, and one part combo building.

In more detail:

Each player has a deck of 24 organisms (three copies each of eight unique organisms), and each organism has its own instinct status (scavenger, predator, or swarming) and an adaptation power unique to it. Two watering holes start in play.

During a player’s turn, they play two organisms from their hand next to either watering hole, each of which can have eight organism cards around it. When an organism is played next to a watering hole, its instinct is always used, granting the player a special ability. Then, if the played organism is the only organism of that name at that watering hole, the player may use its adaptation power, which can trigger a number of combos and additional effects.

After playing an organism and carrying out its effects, any watering hole surrounded by eight organisms is resolved and awarded to one of the players.

The first player to claim two watering holes wins.

• Animals are also at the center of the card game Nutty Business from designer Alain Rivollet and publisher Studio H.

Here’s an overview of this 2-5 player game, which debuted in France in May 2023:

Central Park, 1925: As part of a squirrel gang, you must smuggle in your illegal nut cargo, hide from customs officers, protect your loot, and prepare for potential police raids!

In Nutty Business, players start with symmetrical hands of cards. Each round, they add a card on one of the two piles in front of them and activate the effect on top of each pile. Card effects involve hoarding nuts, stealing from opponents, and disturbing their plans. Once someone has played out their whole hand, the player with the most nuts wins.

Four of a player’s eight cards

Even with only eight action cards, the game is surprisingly complex thanks to the variety of combinations and table dynamics to analyze.

• Italian publisher DV Games is adding new titles to its two deduction game lines from designers Martino Chiacchiera and Silvano Sorrentino, with Deckscape: Tokyo Blackout challenging players to confront a hacker attack that has plunged Tokyo into darkness…along with another monstrous problem.

In Decktective: Secrets in the Sand, three grave robbers have raided an archaeological dig to steal precious artifacts, then they fled into the Egyptian desert. A lifeless body is found nearby in the sand. Who are the thieves? And how did the victim die?

• Aside from those titles, DV Games has a standalone game from Antonello Lotronto called Alibi for 4-7 that’s similar in spirit to murder mystery party games.

The game contains three cases; in each case, every player takes the role of a suspect (and all suspects are in play no matter the player count), and you want to determine the identity of the murderer — which might be you!


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