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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Tame Dragons, Fight Dracula, and Make Cows Happy

by W. Eric Martin

I just published the SPIEL ’23 Preview on July 3, and we’ve already added a lot to it as publishers are eager to get info about their new releases out there.

Schmidt Spiele, for example, has passed along word of two games, with Kuhfstein being a tile-laying game for 2-4 players by Rita Modl. An overview:

In Kuhfstein, a game in which cows (“Kühe” in German) have apparently overrun the town of Kufstein in Austria, each player builds an idyllic landscape of blooming fields, crystal clear lakes, and picturesque farms.

Ideally you send your cows to high-scoring pastures again and again, but not all landscapes are equally in demand at all times! In order to have your cow’s snout in front of the scoring track at the end of the game, you not only have to use your animals cleverly, but also bring them back to your farm at the right moment. Farsightedness and good timing are required here! Who will end up with the most points…and the happiest cows?

Passt nicht! is a card game for 2-5 players from Thomas Weber that summarizes the game play in its title and subtitle: “Passt nicht!…macht aber nix”, which means “Doesn’t fit, but doesn’t matter”. In more detail:

As in Mau Mau or UNO, in Passt nicht! — or P4sst n1cht! for the sticklers out there — you place the appropriate cards on the discard pile in the middle of the table.

However, the game is not only about getting rid of your cards as quickly as possible, but also about trying to discard unsuitable cards in front of you at the same time because every card there at the end of the game scores points…and in the end it’s always about having the most of them.

• I’ve already covered 12 Chip Trick (here) and Jekyll & Hyde vs Scotland Yard (here), but Korean publisher Mandoo Games has announced a few other games that will be available at SPIEL ’23.

Non-final cover

The largest of these games is The Vale of Eternity, a drafting and engine-building game for 2-4 players from Eric Hong:

Players are tamers who hunt various monsters and spirits to tame them as minions. In this fantasy world, numerous creatures are living in harmony. Among them, dragons are the most valuable and noble ones, and all tamers dream of taming dragons. The player who manages to tame the most outstanding minions wins.

In each round, a player has three phases:

— Hunting phase: Draft two cards from the game board.

— Action phase: Take various actions, including selling cards, taming, or summoning cards.

— Resolution phase: Use the active effects of cards they have summoned.

Successive rounds are performed until the end of the game is triggered. The game includes cards of seventy creatures from myths all around the world.

• In 2021, Mandoo released the two-player trick-taking game Jekyll vs. Hyde, and for 2023 it has another design in a similar space: Dracula vs Van Helsing from Maxime Rambourg and Théo Rivière.

Dracula’s not even trying to hide…

An overview:

Night has come in London, and the famous vampire hunter Van Helsing is tracking Dracula. Their final fight will take place tonight. Will Van Helsing defeat Dracula before he turns all London’s inhabitants into vampires?

In Dracula vs Van Helsing, each player controls one of the title characters. Van Helsing must remove all of Dracula’s life points to win, but if Dracula turns all four inhabitants of the same district into vampires first, Dracula wins.

The game lasts at most five rounds. Each round, players play in turn (starting with Dracula), drawing a card, then discarding that card or swapping it with one of the five cards on their rack to trigger the discarded card’s ability. Cards come in eight types, each with its own effect. Instead of drawing (and discarding) a card, a player can call for the end of the round. In order to choose this action, at least six cards need to be in the discard pile. After the opponent plays one last turn, the round ends; otherwise, the round ends when the deck is empty.

At the end of a round, players compare the five cards on their rack. Each card corresponds to one of the five districts on the game board. If Dracula has the higher-valued card, one of the humans in this district is converted into a vampire; if Van Helsing is higher, Dracula loses a health point. If one of the game-winning conditions is met, the game ends immediately.

The card effects are detailed in the rules on the BGG game page.


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