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Prepare for Xeno Counterstrike, Take Part in a Blob Party, and Return to Florence

by W. Eric Martin

• In its March 2023 newsletter, Rio Grande Games mentions that its 2023 line-up includes New Frontiers: Starry Rift (which BGG had recorded a preview of at Gen Con 2019), Dice Realms: Trade Expansion, and Xeno Counterstrike, an expansion for Race for the Galaxy that designer Tom Lehmann described as follows in a BGG thread:

Xeno Counterstrike is the sequel to Xeno Invasion, together forming the 3rd arc of RFTG expansions.

It expands Race for the Galaxy into the starry rift frontier and border zone that lies between the galactic empires and the Xeno hive worlds, with more than 40 frontier worlds (in separate decks) and a different risk/reward method of settling them.

The resulting greater empire sizes extends the game end conditions to 15+ tableau cards and 15 VPs/player in the common pool. This makes Xeno Counterstrike the version for those players who have wanted RFTG to be just a bit longer (typically, 1-2 rounds more), as the lead now frequently changes near the end as those final large frontier worlds are settled, the larger economic engines hit their stride, and the last 6-devs hit the table.

Xeno Counterstrike can be played by itself with just the base game, though its fifth player and optional counterstrike game require Xeno Invasion.

The counterstrike game begins as a Xeno invasion which, once the Xenos are repulsed, turns the tables as the galactic empires then strike back at the Xeno home systems across the starry rift frontier and border zone.

In this version, tableau size no longer ends the game: the counterstrike game continues until either an economic victory (VP chips in the pool of 30 VPs/player run out) or a military victory over the Xenos occurs. This is the epic conquest version of Race for the Galaxy; final tableau sizes of 25 cards are not uncommon. Enjoy!

• Other titles coming from Rio Grande Games not covered in previous posts include two other titles from Tom Lehmann — Holly Oak and the two-player game Winter Court — and two titles from Donald X. Vaccarino: Moon Colony Bloodbath and Zoobreak.

WizKids has licensed the new version of Wolfgang Kramer and Richard Ulrich‘s The Princes of Florence from Korea Boardgames for release in the U.S. in July 2023.

This version features new art from Lukas Siegmon, solitaire rules, and two expansions: The Muse and the Princess and Cooperative Building.

• Another title on the WizKids line-up for July 2023 is Blob Party, a co-operative game from Pam Walls for 4-8 players:

In Blob Party, players start as individuals and try to become one big blob by giving all the same answers! This description isn’t just metaphorical. Each player starts with a small blob of dough and a googly eye. As you match with more and more other players, you merge blobs, growing larger and adding more googly eyes!

Let’s say the group starts with the category of “Music” and the word is “Lightning”. All players write an answer on a dry erase card matching their googly eye, maybe “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “David Bowie”, or “Grease”. Everyone reveals their answer, and anyone who wrote the same thing becomes a blob and works together for the rest of the game!

A new category and word are revealed each round, with players and blobs again coming up with answers that ideally match with others. As the game continues, blobs and individuals merge until (hopefully!) everyone gives the same answer, becoming a Mega Blob and winning the game!

To borrow a tagline from The Mind, which is never far from my mind, let’s become one…

• WizKids has a far different type of game due out in August 2023: Dan Manfredini‘s Americana, a 2-4 player game that takes 90-120 minutes to play:

Pack your bag and grab your journal — it’s time to trek through 1930s American wilderness! Wander the rural landscape and discover opportunities and threats unknown: friend and foe, cute and dangerous wildlife, and the mysteries of unexplored terrain, ominous abandoned buildings, and even the supernatural. You’ll look back at these experiences and grow from them, gaining new skills, as well as inspiration from the lands you’ve visited. You’ll record these memories in your journal as a testament to your grand adventure, until next time!

In Americana, you travel to new locations, collecting stories and constructing havens along the way. A hungry cougar, a lost lumberjack, an ancient burial ground, a foggy swamp – there are many things in the wilderness, and you decide how to interact with them. Use memories and inspiration to record story cards in your journal to document your adventures and score points.

The object of Americana is to collect the most points by establishing havens across the land and writing about your travels. Will you have the most exciting story to tell after your adventures?

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