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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Outfox Evil Cogs, Outwit Corps on Mars, and Outbadger the Devil

by W. Eric Martin

• In May 2023, publisher FryxGames announced Terraforming Mars: Prelude 2, noting that the title would be coming to Kickstarter along with “some secret new additions”.

One of those additions has now been revealed: Terraforming Mars: Automa from designers Nick Shaw and Dávid Turczi, although the game’s subtitle might end up being “MarsBot”.

On Facebook, Enoch Fryxelius explained that instead of racing against the clock, the Automa lets you compete against corporations run by algorithms and special cards, while also making it possible for you to add any expansions to create the challenge you desire.

Lock & Spell: A Game of Fortunes is the first title from Sam Kennedy of Jupiter Valley Studios. Here’s an overview of this solitaire game:

Destiny awaits you within the chests of fate! Open three chests, and the treasure is yours — but only keys enchanted with the correct spells can unlock your fortune. You must summon the cards and cast your hand upon the keys. If you can’t draw the right spells, offer a token of fate and try again. Get caught unable to enchant a key, and you lose a fate token. Run out of fate tokens, and you lose the game.

Lock & Spell is a single player card game of luck and tactics. To begin, reveal a set of keys and draw a hand of five spell cards. Each key shows the required hand needed to enchant it, with some keys being more difficult to obtain than others.

Spell cards come in four suits valued 1-10. If the player has a hand of cards that matches a key’s spell, they may cast their magic and gain that key. If not, the player must use a token of fate to discard any number of spell cards and draw back up to five. Fate tokens are placed upon keys, and for the remainder of the current turn that key may not be gained. If during the turn a player’s hand matches the spell shown upon a tokened key card, a penalty occurs and both the key and fate token are discarded.

Gameplay continues until the player unlocks three chests and gains the treasures within. If the player should run out of fate tokens or keys, they lose.

Currently the game is available solely through the JVS website, with retail availability coming later in 2023.

Shadi Torbey of inPatience has announced the next title in his Oniverse game line: Cyberion, which like all of the Oniverse titles it for 1-2 players.

Here’s an overview of this SPIEL ’23 release:

The factory of the world of dreams is on the brink of destruction! The Evil Cogs have sabotaged all the machines, and it is only a matter of minutes before everything implodes. At the head of a robot squad, will you manage to repair the factory before all the failsafes have collapsed?

Cyberion is a game of hand-management, and you must use your robot cards wisely, either to repair the machine cards or to trigger powerful effects. The machines get harder to repair throughout the game, but you’ll also have opportunities to increase the magnitude of the effects your robot can trigger.

• In Q2 2023, inPatience released its first title from someone other than owner Shadi Torbey: Skoventyr, a 1-4 player game from Morten Monrad Pedersen, who has created many solitaire implementations for titles from Stonemaier Games and others.

Pedersen is Danish, and Skoventyr draws on Danish folklore for its setting:

Gamle Erik, which is what people called the Devil in Denmark in past centuries, is pursuing the badger Vogter, the embodiment of the soul of the forest. Help Vogter gather enough allies to defeat all the evil minions Gamle Erik has brought on this hunt. But beware! All of Vogter’s potential allies have (as often described in Danish folktales) a dark connection to the Devil, and recruiting an ally may have dire consequences…

Demo at SPIEL ’22

Each turn in Skoventyr, you either play an ally (to increase the strength of your party in order to defeat a minion), discard an ally (to benefit from its special power), or add an ally to your hand. Since this last action is “paid” by weakening your position on the board, managing how and when to pay the cost of your allies will be crucial!

You must defeat all of Erik’s minions before he catches Vogter.

I demoed Skoventyr at SPIEL ’22 and can provide a bit more detail. Each turn, the active player chooses one of the Vogter actions shown in the middle row above. Vogter’s Call lets you choose a card from the Future (top row), carry out the effect on the left, then add it to your hand — but if Gamle Erik is the first card in the future, you must choose that one, which moves the figure clockwise in the forest toward Vogter, after which the card is placed on the bottom of the deck.

Demo at SPIEL ’22

With Vogter’s Command, you can place an ally on an empty tree in the forest, with all allies needing to be of the same type, although one type is a joker. Allies are hidden behind the tree except if an effect exposes them, and if exposed, they are discarded should Gamle Erik move to that tree. Alternatively, you can discard an ally in hand for the effect on its right.

Vogter’s Wrath lets you discard allies from the forest to take down one of Gamle Erik’s six minions, after which you choose one of three special effects, then all of those allies are discarded. Note that encountered Gamle Erik cards go back into the deck, whereas allies do not, increasing your chances of encountering the Devil in the future Future.

Vogter’s Gambit lets you place any number of cards from the Future under the deck, but you must damage a tree to do so, with trees flipping first to their withered side, then being removed, which shrinks the forest, giving you fewer spots for allies and less distance between Gamle Erik and Vogter, who you must keep moving to stay out of the Devil’s clutches.

You can adjust the difficulty of Skoventyr by starting with more or fewer trees, and the game includes two expansion modules.


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