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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Games Seen at Gen Con 2023 VI: Nocturne, Quickshot, Holiday in Rome, and Don’t Skip Leg Day

by W. Eric Martin

• At Gen Con 2022, Flatout Games had a small display for Peter McPherson‘s Fit to Print, in addition to running demos for that design, and at Gen Con 2023 it was now selling that game and highlighting its 2024 release Nocturne from David Iezzi:

In Nocturne, you play as a fox mystic casting magic spells to collect an assortment of enchanted items. You compete against rival mystics, each of you deciding when to cast the most powerful spells to move through the forest most cunningly to secure the best collection. Each turn you decide which items are most valuable to you and when to hold the other mystics back.

Through two rounds (twilight and moonlight), players compete to collect the strongest sets of magical items like firebird feathers, creature skulls, glowing mushrooms, mysterious eggs, and rare herbs. These items have value when collected in specific sets, but can also be combined to fulfill recipes needed for concoctions, scoring you even more prestige.

Thing invites you to scan the QR code

Each round you begin with a set of numbered tokens that represent your spell strengths. These tokens are used to cast spells and bid on a grid of items (and special actions) on the forest floor. Once you cast a spell, your rival mystics will have an opportunity to cast a more powerful spell onto an adjacent item, hoping to compel it towards them and prevent you from collecting what you need! As the forest is explored, different conditions of magical control will restrict pathways, leading to strategic situations in which players can “corner cast” and secure multiple items with less powerful spells. If your spell casting comes up short, you can always make an offering to the forest sprites, magical mice that have their own cache of treasures they may share with you, giving you further options to expand your collection.

The set-up of the forest grid and twilight and moonlight goals, along with concoction cards and special player abilities in each game, provide great variability so that no two games of Nocturne will play out the same. Different spatial goals and situations will necessitate different strategies and tactics to outwit your opponents in this highly interactive and unique spatial bidding game.

• In 2022, Japanese publisher Arclight Games released クイックショット from Seiji Kanai, and in September 2023 French publisher Bankiiiz Editions will release that same design as Quickshot…which is an unsurprising name if you can read the Japanese name, which is “Quickshot”.

Quick aside: I’ve been using Duolingo for years to learn German and feel mildly comfortable in some aspects of that language, but in the past few months I also started using it for Japanese, and the most valuable part so far has been learning the hiragana alphabet — used for native Japanese words — and the katakana alphabet — used for imported or loan words. I can (slowly) read the katakana in the クイックショット title, and it’s literally “Ku-i-kku-sh-o-tto”. (The character ッ effectively doubles the subsequent consonant, although it also has other uses.) I doubt I’ll ever be familiar with the Japanese language, but being able to read the characters — and occasionally grasp meaning, usually for a loan word — is small-scale satisfying on a somewhat regular basis.

As for the game, here’s an overview of this rapid-fire design:

Quickshot is a game for 1-7 players that takes places over a series of hands. In each hand, players are dealt five cards. One player plays a card face up, then others play one card each face down. After everyone has played, the cards are revealed and their effects are activated, but first, any cards of the same rank are turned face down again.

Mock-up of the Bankiiiz Editions edition

The card effects may reverse the ranks, cause another player to discard a card, or cause certain players to be eliminated. After all effects are resolved, the person with the strongest card begins the next round by playing a card face up.

The leader after the fourth round wins the game. The game ends earlier if only one player remains.

• I visited the First Exposure Playtest Hall only once during Gen Con 2023 in order to demo Kelp (as described here), but I walked through the hall for ten minutes before that demo and saw dozens of designs being demoed in various stages of completion, including Galactic Cruise from T.K. King, Dennis Northcott, Koltin Thompson, and Kinson Key Games, a game that looks solidly for the BGG heavy game crowd.

• Another game with a sprawling table presence was Roy Cannaday‘s Last Light, for which Grey Fox Games had brought a tiny number of games to sell, with demos running in its booth.

• I like my pic of the thematic World Wonders monument that Arcane Wonders built in its booth.

• A similarly monumental structure was present in the Everything Epic Games booth for Agents of SMERSH: Epic Edition designed by Stephen Cooper and EEG president Christopher Batarlis.

This game is a giant re-imagining of Jason Maxwell‘s original Agents of SMERSH from 2012, and Batarlis plans to run another crowdfunding campaign for the game in 2024 to introduce a new expansion and new way to play.

EEG is taking a similar approach for Batarlis’ Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Epic Edition, which will have the base game and two expansions available in a crowdfunding campaign in Q4 2023, with this item being a giant re-imagining of 2015’s Secrets of the Lost Tomb from Batarlis and Jim Samartino.

Mock-up at Gen Con 2023…

…with the green overtone being provided by this tent, not the components themselves

EEG also carries a line of pop-up terrain elements under the brand Upzone, the idea being that you can set up and put away a playable environment quickly.

• A somewhat less monumental structure was found in the Flat River Group booth with a teaser shipment of Rémi Mathieu‘s card-based, combo-driven civilization-building game Ancient Knowledge, which IELLO will officially debut at SPIEL ’23.

• We’ll end with a couple of teaser shots as I have almost no info beyond these images. First, Holiday in Rome is a game from Cory Andalora that is coming from Pandasaurus Games, with Seth Jaffee doing development on the design.

Second, we have another Pandasaurus release: Don’t Skip Leg Day, a card game by Alex Cutler, who is the publisher’s head of development.


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