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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Rediscover Team Play, Board the Express Again, and Leave the Circus for the Treasure of the Dwarves

by W. Eric Martin

Treasure of the Dwarves, due out before the end of 2023 from Trick or Treat Studios, is a new edition of Bruno Faidutti‘s 2021 game Dreadful Circus from Portal Games…except not really.

First, a game overview:

Deep in the mountains of the dwarven realm…is where you’ll find the best deals! In Treasure of the Dwarves, you place treasures up for sale, then evaluate secret bids from the other players. Consider their offers carefully because once you look at a new bid, you can’t go back to a previous one. Some treasure is just worth points; others provide special abilities. Only the shrewdest deal-maker will come out on top!

Everyone is involved on every turn of the game as you puzzle over how to collect coins, gems and magical treasures. Knowing what your treasure is worth is important — but so is knowing whose offer to look at first!

In a long article published on his website in June 2023 about “the ambiguities of game ‘development'”, Faidutti details “the benefits, but also the problems encountered when a publisher wants to ‘develop’, that is to change, a game”, and he uses many of his own designs as examples, including Dreadful Circus. An excerpt:

Even when I had agreed with it when proposed by the publisher, the theme change in Dreadful Circus was a miss. The prototype, like the upcoming new version of the game, was about dwarves collecting coins, gems, and magical treasures. It fit perfectly well with the game mechanisms, but it was only slightly more original than German medieval merchants. I was not really surprised when Portal asked to change it, and I was happy they had found an idea. The problem is that the new universe doesn’t really make sense when playing, and the game never feels like the unfolding of a story. It’s hard to say if it’s because of the setting itself, or because it was implemented in a hurry, a few months before publication, without any real feedback to the game elements…

Nothing is most frustrating than getting no news from a publisher and then suddenly finding out that the development has been made and more or less playtested without you, when receiving a link to a new set of rules and cards with hundreds of changes from your last version. That’s what happened with Dreadful Circus and is the reason why I missed some of the most critical and problematic changes. I had long discussions with Ignacy and the team at Portal, we all admitted our errors, and we decided that I will get my rights on the game back. My original game, probably the design I’m most proud of, will be published at the end of 2023 by Trick or Treat Games as Treasure of the Dwarves, with its original setting, its original rules, and its original balance. It’s defintely not the same game as Dreadful Circus.

Calliope Games is working on a new edition of Michael Schacht‘s Patrician, which debuted in 2007, and in mid-June 2023 it started soliciting votes on Facebook as to which cover design looks best:

In the game, players are builders who play cards to contribute to the construction of two towers in various cities, scoring points if they contribute the most — but you replace the played card by the face-up card in the city where you built, so are you working toward a majority in building, looking toward the next build, or (ideally) doing both?

Team Play is a card game from Johannes Schmidauer-König in which teammates draft and pass cards in order to complete open goals as quickly as possible. The game debuted in 2015 from Schmidt Spiele, then was re-issued in 2018 by WizKids, and now CMYK plans to put the game on the market again.

Says CMYK co-owner Alex Hague, “We’ve been obsessed with the game for YEARS and are so excited to give this modern classic the spotlight it deserves. Rules will be completely unchanged, but will have a new name, art, and packaging, of course. Release date TK.”

• Speaking of team play, Steve Jackson Games plans to run a Kickstarter in 2023 for a new edition of the card game Express from Darwin Bromley.

Express is a rummy-style card game in which you build sets of train car cards, each on a different locomotive, which can be any face-down card. The face-down play gives you the chance to hide a card useful only to an opponent, or when playing the team game with four or six players, you can pass a card to your opponent by swapping their locomotive with something from your hand.

When a player has a train with at least five cards, another with at least four cards, and all of their other trains have at least three cards, they can go out to end the round, then all players score for their sets. Rounds continue until a player or team hits a point threshold.

The original


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