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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Make New Wasabi, Lay More Track in South Africa, and Teach a Dog New Tricks

by W. Eric Martin

Another week, another round-up of older games coming back to market with new looks and refreshed rules:

• In October 2023, Kids Table BG will crowdfund Wasabi: A Game of Raw Skill, an updated version of 2008’s Wasabi! from Josh Cappel and Adam Gertzbein with streamlined rules, new mechanisms, and fresh art. An overview:

As a master sushi chef, you’ve studied your craft for years. It took diligent training to perfect specialty maki like your All-Day Breakfast, Octopus’s Garden, and Squid Salad Sandwich, but now you face your toughest challenge yet: Friday night dinner rush!

In Wasabi: A Game of Raw Skill, you compete with your fellow chefs to complete the most valuable orders. You can concentrate on short and simple orders to get bonuses quickly or take your time to make complicated masterpieces for big rewards!

Each turn, add a new ingredient to the shrinking kitchen space and try to arrange them for the orders you’re working on. Complete a scrumptious recipe for points or take an action card like Chop!, Stack!, or Switch! to help with future turns. Don’t forget to collect spicy wasabi to complete orders with style!

At the end of the night, the chef who has earned the most points by completing their recipes wins!

• In July 2023, Korean publisher BoardM Factory will release HUND, a new version of Klaus Geis‘ trick-taking game ebbes, the debut title from Geis’ Palatia Spiele in 2013.

Here’s the rundown of this 2-5 player game:

The smartest dogs in the world are getting together for game night! Now you have to keep an eye on which dogs will play which roles and make the right choices. Who will be the best dog?

In HUND, players try to collect as many points as possible, but initially no one knows which suit will generate positive or negative points! To start a round, shuffle the deck of cards, which has five suits, and deal players their hand. Next, reveal a number designation card from a separate deck. Let’s say it’s 3.

Gameplay is similar to traditional trick-taking games. The lead player for a trick plays one card, and the other players must follow suit if possible, while throwing any other card if they can’t. The highest card of the color led wins the trick, unless one or more trump cards were played, in which case the highest trump wins the trick — but at the start of the round, trump is undetermined! The first time a 3 is played, the color of that card becomes trump for the rest of the round. What’s more…

Scoreboard and color tracker

— The color of the second 3 played determines which color is worth 1 point per card at the end of the round.

— The color of the third 3 determines the “hund” color; at round’s end, the player(s) who don’t have the most or fewest cards of this color each earn 3 points.

— The color of the fourth 3 determines which color is worth -1 point per card.

— The color of the fifth 3, which is evident as soon as the fourth 3 is played, allows the player who collects the most of these cards to determine the start player of the subsequent round after cards for that round have been dealt.

The game includes color markers to track this information. After five rounds, whoever has the highest score wins.

• In July 2023, Capstone Games will run a Kickstarter campaign for Age of Rail: South Africa, the fourth title in its “Iron Rail” series.

This game is a new version of 2011’s South African Railroads from Winsome Games that includes additional game maps based on Pampas Railroads and Pennsylvania Railroad with art and design by Ian O’Toole. An overview:

Your goal is to have more money than anyone else, and you earn money by holding shares and getting dividend payments from railroad companies.

After an initial auction for the first shares of these companies, players take turns, choosing from one of four different actions: build track, develop settlement, offer stock, and pay dividends. These actions are limited; only one dividend action exists, for example, so when a player chooses this, the action remains blocked until that player’s next turn, at which time they must choose a different action. Two “offer stock” actions are available, and three “develop settlement” actions; “build track” is an unlimited action and can be repeated on the next turn.

When players buy stock, the spent funds go into the company’s treasury and can be used to build track. By developing settlements, you increase the value of stations, and a railroad’s income increases when it links to stations. When dividends are paid, the company’s income is divided by five (the number of shares) and paid to the owner of those shares, which might be the company if not all the shares have been offered.

After the sixth dividend, the game ends — but that final divided includes bonuses based on the number of company links and is paid out solely based on the number of shares issued, not all of the shares in existence.

The crowdfunding campaign will include an option to purchase custom metal trains for use with the “Iron Rail” series should you not appreciate the wee beauty of teensy wooden trains.

Gone, but not forgotten


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