What is “trepanation”, you ask? The practice of drilling or scraping a hole in a human skull. If you’re curious about trepanning, I recommend reading this article from the MIT Press, which includes the five common methods by which someone who produce such a hole as well as explanations for why. As for the game, here’s an overview:
In Trepanation, players take the role of fraudulent doctors in this era who are performing medical shows for the gullible public and vying to become the most famous medical performer.
No holes on the game board? That’s a missed opportunity…
The game takes place over six days (rounds). At the start of each day, players prepare their schedules by booking time slots at locations around town, then the day’s events happen according to these schedules. Players will gather medicine and equipment, employ accomplices, bribe the police, and perform shows — but not all plans run smoothly. Other players will create stock shortages, steal your audience, and snatch up those essential time slots! Performing shows in related sets grants fame bonuses, as does getting your name in the local newspapers. Grave-robbing in the night damages your reputation, but earns cash! At the end of a busy week, the player who has earned the most fame wins.
This worker placement game features lots of action spaces because the emphasis is on timing your actions correctly to make the most of your limited resources.
• Trepanation has been in the BGG database since 2019, but I think this is the first actual release of the design. Given the fallout from Covid, however, it’s easy to find designs that have been long delayed from their initial announcement.
In December 2020, for example, I wrote about the plans by Ares Games to release a new version of Carlo A. Rossi‘s Hab & Gut. That version was announced with a 2021 release date, but it looks like the game will finally be released — under the new title The Rich and the Good — in May 2023.
Strangely the cover and other artwork appears the same as the original 2008 release, something that almost never happens with a new edition. Perhaps Michael Menzel keeps meticulous files and negotiates for artist-friendly contracts. In any case, here’s a summary of the gameplay:
The goal of the game is to win level 9 — and once the game is won for the first time, the first scenario deck (of three) is unlocked, with new rules and cards being available for future games.
Yes yes yes, I love to see non-communicative co-operation in a game, possibly because I fail completely when I’m trying to actively bluff in something like Werewolf, so I appreciate the idea of being part of an intuitive wave and flowing with others.
• Similarly delayed from late 2021 is Cangaceiros, a 2-5 player game from Roberto Pestrin and Ergo Ludo Editions that Ares Games has now given a May 2023 release date for the English-language edition. An overview:
Cangaceiros is a strategic competitive game in which each player plays a gang that tries to survive in hostile desert territories while being hunted by the Volantes, the state police trained to kill them. Each band has a chief chosen from the twenty available, each with its own unique abilities and characteristics.
The management of each seven-card deck is fundamental, with players using cards to collect resources, place bandits to guard a region, attack the Volantes, assault the prison of the city of Recife, convert accumulated resources into fame, train their leader, and recruit new members for the gang.
You win by accumulating fame points, which are obtained by attacking the Volantes, but also by training your boss to solve his life goal and help him retire in glory. You also gain fame points in several other ways, and whoever collects the most fame wins.