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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Group Animals, Make Poker Hands, and Travel in Colorado and Moominvalley

by W. Eric Martin

If recent announcements are any indication, the wave of XXX-and-write games is still coming on strong, with designers trying to put their own twists on a genre that is typically filled with lightly competitive games. You get to write, and I get to write, and that person over there gets to write, too. Did I write better than you? We’ll find out only at game’s end…

Walter Obert‘s Stampfarm, which publisher DV Games released on the U.S. market in early February 2023, is actually a roll-and-stamp game. The design is aimed at players aged 6 and up, and youngsters often don’t have the best writing skills, so let’s give them stamps instead!

On a player’s turn, they roll three dice, choose one, then take the associated stamp and stamp an empty space on their sheet. Each other player chooses one of the two remaining dice and stamps that. When your board is filled, count your largest group for each type of animal (with hay bales being wild), scoring 1 point for each animal.

Demo at Gen Con 2022

Advanced rules introduce request cards that challenge you to create specific combinations of symbols.

• Another roll-and-write title aimed at young players and families is StegegetS Moomin, coming in Q1 2023 from Jon Manker and Ion Game Design.

Here’s an overview of this 2-6 player design:

In the roll-and-write game StegegetS Moomin, you will find many characters from the Moominvalley. As a player, you travel around Moominvalley to visit them on picnics in nature and to collect treasures — jam, marmalade, and such — given to you by them from their earth cellars.

Moomin is a globally famous and loved story world. The plot in these stories often includes excursions and trips in their valley, and this idea was used as inspiration for the story behind the mechanisms in StegegetS Moomin, which centers around a map of the Moominvalley, as depicted in the stories from the 1950s and 1960s.

Pierpaolo Paoletti‘s All In is subtitled “A Flip&Write Showdown”, and the intent of this design is to allow for poker-style play in a flip-and-write game played with a regular deck of cards.

Each turn, two cards from the deck are revealed, and you use either one of the revealed cards or a combination of the two cards, specifically the rank of one and the suit of the other. You must add this card to your player sheet adjacent to another filled space. If you’re the first player to complete a hand — that is, a row or column — you receive poker chips that allow you to adjust future cards.

Paoletti ran a Kickstarter for print-and-play files of multiple player sheet designs, and ideally he’ll make the files available for purchase at a later date — or perhaps a publisher will pick up the design.

• Designer Joachim Thôme got a lot of attention at SPIEL ’22 for Tribes of the Wind, but like many designers he has a XXX-and-write game as well, with Colorado from French publisher Sylex actually being a call-and-write — although go-fish-and-write might be a more appropriate name. Let me explain:

To explore Colorado, you will be armed with a marker and your map.

Each player has a personal map, and they start in one of two locations, opening that region for future exploration. Each player also has a hand of cards, and the cards in the deck come in six colors, with each color having cards numbered 1-3. On a turn, you ask another player to give you a card, e.g., a red 3. If they have one in hand, they must give it to you. If not, they must give you either a red card or a 3 — their choice. If they have no reds or 3s, they give you a card of their choice.

If you already have the card you received in your play area, discard it and take a gold nugget; if not, place it in your play area. All players then take one of the two actions listed on this card:

— Red and green cards either give you a nugget or let you pay 1-3 nuggets to play a card of value 1-3 from your hand; when you play a card from your hand, it can’t already be in your play area, and you immediately take one of the two actions listed.

— Gray and purple cards either let you draw three cards from the deck or discard two cards of the same suit to play a card from your hand into your play area.

— Blue and orange cards either let you check off a space on your map in a region you’ve already opened or check off the next space on your railroad; if the space you checked has a reward, gain it immediately.

At the end of your turn, if you have all three cards of a color in your play area, discard them, then check the flag on a map region that is adjacent to a region that you have already opened. Finally, if you have fewer than three cards in hand, draw until you have three cards.

The purpose for all of this activity is to claim medals, which earn you points. You earn points for each region you open, and if you’re the first player to open all regions of a color, you gain a medal worth bonus points. If you check all the spaces in a region, you earn a medal. If your railroad reaches the end of the line, you earn a medal. If you check all spaces with a certain symbol on your map, you earn a medal. Once a player has collected, the game ends at the end of that turn, then you tally all points to see who wins.

Use shrewdness and discernment when calling or giving cards that you can take advantage of without helping your opponents too much. Ideally, you will be able to earn the points of the many medals scattered on your individual sheet route, as well as on the common bounty board.

Colorado debuted in France in February 2023 and to date only this French edition is available.


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