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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Go from Catacombs to Battlefields, Punch Tickets in Paris, and Found Flat Metropolises

by W. Eric Martin

• How deep do catacombs run? As deep as their creator wants them to be…barring geological restrictions and a lack of excavation staff.

Publisher Elzra has had no such difficulties to date, and in 2024 they will expand further with the release of Catacombs: Fortress of Nazemoor from designer Aron West. Here’s what to expect:

Catacombs: Fortress of Nazemoor is a core, standalone dungeon crawler that uses the same rules and dexterity game system as Catacombs Third Edition (3E). As a result, this game both re-implements and expands Catacombs 3E, with all 3E expansions being compatible with Fortress.

In the game, players must skillfully flick wooden discs that represent one of the characters under their control. Usually this is a hero or a monster, if playing as the Dungeon Master or “Overseer”. Flicking a disc represents a “shot”. The basic shots are rush (for moving) and melee (for both moving and attacking). When performing a ranged shot, a separate disc is used instead of a hero or monster’s disc. Ranged shots include fireballs, ice boulders, missiles and hook shots. Some shots inflict damage while others enable special effects. When all of the monsters in a room have been cleared, the heroes can advance further up the fortress.

New features: Crates (treasure chests) that contain both rewards and traps appear on runes during the Battle Phase. Assistants can be rescued that will help the heroes in their quest through the Fortress. Items may be purchased during the Battle Phase.

This is expected to be the last entry in the Catacombs 3E series of games.

• Ahead of that release, however, Elzra plans to crowdfund Battlefields, a game co-designed by Iván Burgos and Aron West:

Battlefields is a tactical combat game between two armies of heroes from the Catacombs universe. First, players spend points to draft their army of heroes, then they place their chosen heroes on the hex-based neoprene playmat. Different heroes have different movement rates and attacks. Combat is resolved by either dexterity (dice flicking) or non-dexterity mechanisms.

The game provides a variety of units for both the Heroic and Lich Lord forces and supports two players. It also features a solo mode.

• In November 2023, I wrote about Arcane Wonders‘ plan to re-release Emerson Matsuuchi‘s Foundations of Rome as Foundations of Metropolis, and now the publisher has revealed the final cover for that latter release.

Gameplay is the same in the two titles, but Foundations of Metropolis is scaled down to use 2D polyominoes instead of 3D buildings that make the Rome box a cube. I mean, the polyominoes still have a third dimension to them. If they were strictly 2D, then no one could ever pick them up. They’d lie on a table, and you could never get your fingernail under them. Maybe you’d slide one off the edge of the table to grab it, but then its one-molecule thickness would slice through your fingers, putting your mind more on medical care than metropolises.

Foundations of Metropolis is due out in Q3 2024.

• In an October 2023 post, I mentioned that Ticket to Ride: Paris would be the next release in the “Cities” series from Days of Wonder. The publisher has now announced a March 29, 2024 release date for this Alan R. Moon design, with the twist in this edition being that whenever you claim a blue, white, or red route, you keep a played transportation card of that color in front of you, assuming you don’t already have one. When you have one card of each color, you sing the French national anthem to celebrate the creation of the French flag, discard those cards, and score 4 points.

The game board makes it possible for you to gain this bonus multiple times thanks to the prevalence of these colors on short routes, but you have only fifteen buses to place, so ne tarde pas.

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