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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Meet the New Boss, Create Paths Through the Garden, and Take Inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci

by W. Eric Martin

Eagle-Gryphon Games plans to release a new edition of Sid Sackson‘s I’m the Boss! before the end of 2023.

While the cover at right appears to depict a millennial meet-up at the café in a metropolitan bookstore, I’m the Boss! tends to be a raucous negotiation game in which 3-6 players represent business investors who are trying to participate in deals, take control of deals, push others out of deals by bringing in proxy investors, and end up with as much loot as possible.

I’ve played the game a dozen times and love how interactive and free-flowing the game is. I have no idea whether I’ve won any of those games; what sticks with me is the feeling of the games, how everyone gets involved by playing card after card, then once a deal is finally closed — or off the table because investors are forcibly sent on vacation or just can’t agree on how to split the money — people take turns re-loading their hands for the next deal. You’re trying to win, yes, but who you’re playing with has a huge impact on how deals are made. Good stuff!

Stephen Glenn‘s game Garden Guests was listed as a demo item on the Gen Con 2023 Preview, but I forgot to check it out while I was at that show, which is a shame for two reasons:

1. I’ve generally liked what I’ve played from Glenn’s oeuvre: Balloon Cup, Butterfly, Rattlebones, and Lumis: Der Pfad des Feuers.

2. Garden Guests is a new edition of that latter title, which was released only in a German edition by KOSMOS in 2015 and which seemed to be largely ignored.

Here’s an overview of this Q4 2023 release that debuted at SPIEL Essen 23:

In Garden Guests, players compete to form a continuous path across a garden board that features beautiful paper cut art.

Image: Candice Harris

On a turn, each player on a team — a team can be one or multiple players — can draw cards, give cards to a teammate, or use their cards to build a tower or extend their path. Towers are necessary in order to create a path between your base and a tower, or from one tower to another — but if you haven’t yet connected a tower to your path, your opponents can take it if they have cards to make a larger tower.

To make a path, a player must play cards that match the colors of each space in the path. Once a path is made, it is permanent, and your opponent may have to wind their own path around yours.

The first team to make a path all the way across the board wins!

Julie Ahern with publisher Van Ryder Games tells me that the rules in Garden Guests mostly match those from Lumis, but the new game plays with 2-6 players instead of only 2-4, and the new rules address how to play in teams with the higher player counts.

One clear change is the approach to the game’s graphics, with Garden Guests adopting a whimsical, nature-filled look that will forever remind later generations of the early 2020s, whereas Lumis’ game board looks far older than something released in 2015. (The game board has changed shape as well, I presume to adjust for the higher player count and the need to allow three teams to compete fairly.)

Image: Papa Cron

• Another SPIEL Essen 23 debut was Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, the newest release from Korean publisher DiceTree Games, which has created beautiful editions of Winner’s Circle, Modern Art, Code 777, Ave Caesar, and other designs in a book-like format.

Codex Leicester is a reimplementation of 2006’s Leonardo da Vinci from the Acchittocca design team of Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, Stefano Luperto, and Antonio Tinto, with Changhyun Baek, the founder of DiceTree Games, being involved in the new design. Here’s an overview of this 1-5 player game:

Players find themselves as inventors trying to breathe life into their designs, all of which draw their inspiration from the notes of the master himself: the Codex Leicester of Leonardo da Vinci. Ranging from relatively simple to epic, all these inventions require materials and time to bring them to fruition.

Of course, genius alone won’t get the job done. Get support from the Council and sponsors. You need to expand your workshops and procure automata designed by Leonardo himself to increase your work efficiency. Hire apprentices straight out of the academy to nab highly coveted materials from the market before your rivals.

On display at SPIEL Essen 23

Time is of the essence. Race to be the foremost in completing inventions. You will unlock rewards and special abilities if you are the first player to complete inventions, otherwise, you will get fewer rewards without special abilities.

After seven rounds, the player who has amassed the largest fortune wins.

For reference, here is DiceTree’s edition of Modern Art:

I marvel at this edition each time I see it — then remember that I already own two editions of Modern Art and don’t need a third. I probably don’t need the second one either, but I picked it up more than ten years ago when I had the foolish notion of collecting lots of Knizia editions. Now I leave that business to my pal Ken Shoda, who had folks bringing him obscure Knizia titles from Poland and Brazil to SPIEL Essen 23. Know your limits, and set reasonable goals!

Older editions

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