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Rock Hard in 1977, Ride a Caterpillar Through Sand, and Exploit the Land in Daitoshi

by W. Eric Martin

I’m still working through SPIEL Essen 23 info and images, and today’s haul will cover Devir‘s 2024 release calendar, starting with a chronological look at larger games, followed by an overview of smaller titles. Not all of the game boxes and components shown below are final, and most of the images have odd reflections since they were in a glass case.

• February 2024 brings a new edition of Antonio Catalán‘s España 1936, which debuted in 2007. Gameplay remains the same in this two-player asymmetrical design set during the Spanish Civil War, but the graphics and components have been overhauled.

On display at SPIEL Essen 23

David Bernal‘s Salton Sea follows in March 2024, and it’s a 1-4 player game based on a location just east of San Diego:

Salton Sea is a unique place located in California, very close to the border with Mexico. The characteristics of this salty lake make it a unique location to generate geothermal energy, which takes advantage of the heat from the planet. In this area of intense geothermal activity, you will drill the ground and extract the steam and hot water to obtain lithium and sell it as part of a modern industry, far from fossil fuels, that will allow you to lead the energy transition towards a completely renewable future.

In Salton Sea, players must manage their geothermal lithium extraction companies to obtain the greatest number of points. The extraction of this material and its subsequent processing will be the driving force of your companies.

Two too many Erics are reflected in this image

On your turn, place one of your four engineers on one of the available spaces to take an action. There are three different groups of actions: industrial actions (which allow you to obtain an exploration license, drill, extract, process or repair machinery), commercial actions (sell, acquire contract and execute contract), and management actions (research, buy shares, develop the business project or finance itself). It is up to you to manage the engineers at each point of the game to get the most out of your company.

However, there is no single path to success. The game will reward you for exhausted land, executed contracts, short-term objectives, company development, or research advances. Will you master the power of the Salton Sea to create the most efficient geothermal company?

Speaking of “exhausted land”, the non-profit Water Education Foundation notes that “Although the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) [a publicly-owned irrigation district that serves the Coachella Valley north of the Salton Sea and the Imperial Valley south of it] believed royalties from geothermal energy production could be used for Salton Sea restoration projects, the district discovered that would price geothermal out of the market, especially with California utilities having access to low-cost solar and wind energy. The district has pledged royalties for any land it leases to renewable energy companies. There have yet to be any new ones developed.”

The Water Education Foundation notes that much effort has been made to keep Salton Sea, which is 50% saltier than the Pacific Ocean, from drying up, partly due to “concerns about dust-borne emissions”, given that the sea contains agriculture runoff that doesn’t do great things to your body once it’s airborne.

Sorry for the aside, but I lived in California decades ago, know that water access is a constant concern there, and was curious to learn more about this place.

• In Q2 2024, Devir will release Sand, a design for 1-4 players from Ariel Di Constanzo and Javier Pelizzari that plays in 120 minutes and that’s part of the company’s “Kemushi Saga“, taking place a thousand years after the events of Bitoku. An overview:

People refer to this vast place only as the desert since no one remembers what was here before. The golden age of human beings has long passed. Now there is only sand, and the only hope is in the humidity.

Travelers cross the desert that stretches from the slopes of the Akaishi Mountains to the cliffs of Seaclaw. Half-ruined ancient cities are home to the last human communities struggling to survive by foraging for what little green remains standing. These desert travelers transport goods on the backs of their caterpillars. Although their only goal is to make as much money as they can, at the same time and in a more or less deliberate way, they are helping to bring life back to the desert by carrying small plants from the artificial greenhouses of the cities to the most remote corners of this ocean of sand.

More on Daitoshi below…

In Sand, players have to earn as much gold as possible after six rounds (five in a four-player game) to win. To do so, put yourselves in the shoes of these intrepid desert travelers who travel the paths of the board and visit the different towns. Collect goods to take you to other places and thus earn gold for the transport service. Cross the dunes on the backs of your faithful caterpillars, which, cared for, will grow and help you complete tasks more effectively. Along the way you will be joined by helpful companions and be entrusted with missions that, if completed, will bring good benefits at the end of the journey. Help the plants take root again, and perhaps there is still some hope for this desolate place…

• At Gen Con 2024, Devir will debut Rock Hard: 1977, the first published design from Jackie Fox, who played bass guitar in the rock band The Runaways in the 1970s.

Non-final cover at SPIEL Essen 23

Here’s an overview of this 2-5 player game:

It’s 1977. You’re an up-and-coming musician, dreaming of making it big with your band. Over the next few months you’ll rehearse, play gigs, write songs, and promote your band. With careful planning and a little luck, you’ll earn the most fame and become the best new artist of the year.

Rock Hard: 1977 is played over a maximum of nine rounds, each representing a typical day of one month in 1977, from April to December. You win the game by accruing the most fame. How? Increasing reputation, chops and songs; achieving production, performance, and publicity bonuses; getting record deals and earning royalties; playing concerts; and hanging out at the hottest after-hours spot. Ready to live like a rock star?

Devir’s Matt Hyland told me that you’ll need to balance day and night activities, ideally not burning out along the way — although consuming candy might give you the energy needed to keep rocking. He added that Fox insisted on including the dials on the player boards, and to answer the question that might immediately come to mind, yes, they go to 11:

Cities is a 2-4 player tile-drafting, city-building game from Steve Finn and Phil Walker-Harding that will be released in September 2024. An overview:

You’ve been tasked by the city council to put together a plan to transform a whole neighborhood in the city. You have the opportunity to build new housing, office buildings, parks, and leisure areas near the waterfront. It is in your hands to make the city a better place.

The game is played over eight rounds (or four rounds in a two-player game). Each round, players use their workers to collect 1 scoring card, 1 city tile, 1-2 feature tiles, and 2-4 building pieces. City tiles are made up of park spaces, water spaces, and building spaces. Building pieces are placed on building spaces of the same color to form buildings, which can be 1-4 stories high. Whenever a player fulfills an achievement, they place one of their discs on the achievement board. At the end of the game, players add up the points they have gained from all of their scoring cards and achievements.

Cities gives you the opportunity to build eight cities: Sydney, London, New York, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires. Can you design the most magnificent neighborhood?

The display at SPIEL Essen 23 didn’t include much to go on regarding the game components, but ideally you can extrapolate from what’s depicted below:

• Looking ahead to SPIEL Essen 24, Devir will release Dani Garcia‘s Daitoshi in October, with this 1-4 player game falling after Silk on the “Kemushi Saga” timeline and with Hyland describing it as a “meaty, heavy Euro”:

We have finally perfected the power of steam, and we can now use it to our advantage! We live in an unprecedented era of progress, and new steam-powered inventions are developed faster than ever. Cities are growing, trade is flourishing, and we are developing our most ambitious machine ever: a giant contraption that will bring even more progress to the city. Yes, some trees are being cut down, and the river doesn’t flow as plentifully as before, but there’s still an abundance of trees and water, and we can use the extra space to expand our city — and it’s not like the old creatures on those forests can do anything about it.

On display at SPIEL Essen 23 (image: rascozion)

On your turn in Daitoshi, you either produce or move your magnate to a new district in which you will be able to send your workers to work, command the exploit of forest or river hexes to fuel your endless need for steam, and perform an action to expand and show your greatness to the city.

These actions not only help you in your search for acknowledgement, but help all the inhabitants of the big city. You will expand the city and electrify its districts, discover and develop new steam-powered inventions, and trade with faraway cities. You may even help the city build its gargantuan project: the mega-machine. Some forests might be cut down, and some rivers may be dried up, but in your generosity, you will help the displaced workers from those areas by giving them new jobs at your service.

Old legends suggest the forests and rivers are guarded by Yôkai, but progress can’t be stopped because of some old fairy tales. Just in case, though, it could be wise to participate on some reforestation projects and hide your participation in the abuse of the natural resources…

• The titles to be added to Devir’s “pocket games” line have far more succinct descriptions for now:

— The January 2024 release Autumn from Maria Blasco Arnandis and Enrique Blasco — the designer’s of the 2022 pocket game Winter — challenges you to make patterns.

— Also due out in January 2024 is Wolfgang Kramer‘s Flash 10, a new edition of the 2013 release from AMIGO, a real-time Rack-O-style game in which you need to get your cards in numerical order.

— In Paco Yanez‘s All Aboard!, due out in Q2 2024, you attempt to place animals in boats to get them to safety. In each of the four rounds, each player places one of their animals face up on a boat, then they place one face down on a boat, then they place another face up. Pair up animals to make a love match that scores, but if you have three-of-a-kind, they fight and sink the boat. Animal powers can affect who gets to safety…and who gets eaten.

Fritos, a game for 2-7 players from José Luchoro and Rafael Miralles, puts you in the role of various foods — onions rings, potatoes — that are trying not to end up in the fryer. The game includes three modes: free for all, team, and one vs. all, with the chef attempting to fry everyone.

— Two new Mazescape designs from Pablo Céspedes and Víctor Hugo Cisternas are due out in Q4 2024, along with the Spoons-like Tinco from Gustavo Nascimento Barreto.

—Finally, Alberto Millán has a card game coming called Moirai, the Greek name of what in English we call the Fates — the sisters Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos who measured a person’s life and shaped it with the thread they spun.

With this cut, we end this post

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