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Race Cats to a Raft, Color a Bamboo Garden, and Build The Alhambra Palace…Again

by W. Eric Martin

Do you like a thing? If so, here is more of that thing! At least for some of the things in existence you might like:

• I had mentioned Frank West‘s Race to the Raft in a July 2022 post, and now West has revealed details of this sequel to The Isle of Cats that is being crowdfunded by The City of Games ahead of a late 2023 release:

In the game, you play the role of the disorientated island cats who are lost on the smoke-filled island. Nothing seems to be where it once was, and you must find a safe route to the raft by placing pathway cards.

As you build pathways, fire — which is represented by different shaped tiles — will spread across the island, limiting your options. You need to find the balance between creating long pathways and keeping the cats ahead of the flames as you move towards the raft.

The game includes 81 scenarios from which to choose, including a simple tutorial that gradually introduces you to new rules and an advanced tutorial for when you’re ready for a far greater challenge.

• French publisher Space Cow has a second Unlock! Kids title on the way, with Histoires d’Époques allowing players to travel through prehistory, ancient Egypt, and the U.S. Wild West.

Tanto Cuore: Memento Mori – Twilight Manor is the sixth standalone set of the Tanto Cuore deck-building game series from Japanime Games, and within the haunted house setting of this release you must restore dilapidated rooms, avoid ghosts, and perform seances to help meet your goals.

Alhambra: The Red Palace is a standalone game from Dirk Henn and Queen Games that will be crowdfunded for release in 2023 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Henn’s tile-laying game Alhambra.

Alhambra: The Red Palace features elements familiar from Alhambra, with players drafting money cards that they then use to purchase tiles from a market, with the tiles featuring an arrangement of walls and the building type being determined by a random chip draw (which I believe takes place when the tile is placed in the market). The game includes three scoring rounds, with players scoring for their longest connected wall segment and for majorities in each building type.

Some tiles now have guard icons on the walls, and when you acquire such a tile, you place a guard figure on each icon. These guards give you extra points during a scoring, but you can also discard them for extra actions during your turn.

• French publisher Bombyx has announced a Takenoko spinoff game from Antoine Bauza and Corentin Lebrat called Takenokolor that puts a different spin on the roll-and-write genre

In Takenokolor, you make your debut as a gardener. You must develop your bamboo grove, create watering places, and attract fish and ladybugs to make your garden a little piece of paradise resplendent with color.

Each turn, one player throws four pencils — green, yellow, pink, and blue — then chooses one. The other players choose one of the remaining pencils in turn, then all players simultaneously color on their sheet, one bamboo section corresponding to the same color and to the same symbol as the pencil ring they chose: circle, square, or triangle.

Prototype with markers

Who will finish their bamboo grove first? Who will be the best gardener?

Believe it or not, this isn’t the only design I’ve seen with randomizing writing implements. I guess a few of those will be released in 2023, with a wave to follow in 2024/2025.


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