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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Take Tricks to Make Pies, Collect Mushrooms, Go on Pilgrimages, and More

by W. Eric Martin

Are we going through a trick-taking revolution? Or am I just hearing lots of excitement from a small crowd of fans? Time will tell, I suppose, along with sales figures for the titles mentioned below, along with plenty of other recent releases.

• In February 2023, U.S. publisher Allplay ran a Kickstarter for four small games (covered in this post), and in May 2023 it will crowdfund once again, this time for a quartet of trick-taking (and ladder-climbing) games:

Sean RossBacon is a team game for four or six players in which the first team that goes out is the only one that scores that round, with the score being based on when the rest of the team goes out. (A non-team variant, Applewood, is playable by 3-6 people, with your score based on when you go out.)

Masato Uesugi‘s Lunar is a revised version of his 2022 release Ortrick. In that game, each player on the two teams plays half a card — if your partner plays a number, you play the suit and vice versa — with a team scoring points only by collecting certain cards and the right number of tricks. More is not necessarily better!

Mori is a 3-5 player design from Daniel Newman in which you play tricks and use dice to manipulate your hand of cards.

Pies is a new version of Matthias Cramer‘s Plums, with each player in a trick collecting one card in order to acquire ingredients that will be scored as pies.

• Speaking of Daniel Newman, he is co-owner of publisher New Mill Industries, and in addition to Kickstarting Tall Tales by Rand. in April 2023 — game overview from January 2023 here — New Mill has several other titles on its release schedule:

Taiki Shinzawa‘s Zimbabweee Trick and Dois will be re-released as, respectively, Inflation! and Charms with a crowdfunding campaign in September 2023.

In the former game, you play each card on top of previously played cards to create ever-increasing numbers, e.g. 7, then 57, then 857, then 8857, etc., with the goal of not winning the most tricks and making the number of tricks bid. In the latter game, you have both number and suit cards in hand, playing one of each in the first trick and only one thereafter, changing one element of your played card while keeping the other.

— In January 2024, New Mill will crowdfund Daniel Kenel‘s Gnaughty Gnomes, albeit possibly not under that title. In this team game for four players, you win actions on a game board based on your position in a trick, with players trying to gather mushrooms and control parts of the forest.

— Finally, April 2024 will bring new editions of Hinata Origuchi‘s Seven Prophecies and Hugame‘s Backhander (as The Icarus Club).

In the former game, you know what the lead suit will be in each trick of the hand, and you attempt to predict exactly how many times you’ll be first in a trick as well as second, third, and fourth. In the latter, players are gambling in a casino and trying to win the secondmost money because the big winner will be picked up by the police. The lead suit of each trick is dictated, as in Seven Prophecies, but players can use bribes to alter the line-up, which can change the result of tricks played.

Mike Hutton‘s Pilgrims is a self-published trick-taking game that has been in development since 2004 according to the BGG description. In this game, 2-5 players collect villagers to go on pilgrimages and gain prestige from the bishop. In more detail:

Each round, two (or sometimes one) sites of pilgrimage are on offer, and players try to build the most impressive band of pilgrims by playing cards of the same suit. Lower-value cards may be used to provide relics or manuscripts to add to the prestige gained from visiting a particular holy site. You may even be able to go on pilgrimage on your own as the hermit!

When you go on pilgrimage, you receive a scoring card and discard all the cards you played. Players going home discard only one of the cards they played. Scoring cards give you 5-10 victory points, and there are chances to add to these using lower-value cards you play.

The more you go on pilgrimage, the smaller your band of followers becomes, making it more difficult to compete against opponents, so you need to choose when to admit defeat and go home early in the hope of attracting more impressive followers to your cause.

The game is over when thirty pilgrimages have taken place, which typically means 16-20 rounds of play.

Hutton tells me that he produced “a very short print run” of the game that is no longer available, and he’s trying to judge interest in another printing, so if this sounds like your type of thing, let Hutton know on the BGG game page.

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