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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Tile Animals in Nimalia, Grab Tentacles in Cosmoctopus, and Slice Enemies in Senjutsu: Battle for Japan

by W. Eric Martin

One topic that keeps coming up in conversations at GAMA Expo 2023 is how the number of games being released outstrips the ability of anyone to keep track of them all, much less play them or (in the case of retailers) sell them.

This latter problem is exacerbated by the number of creators who run crowdfunding campaigns with no apparent plan for retail distribution. Maybe they just wanted to create something, then say, “Look, I did this thing!”, which is entirely a reasonable goal — but sometimes others see potential in what they’ve created and want to make it available to a wider audience.

A recent partnership between Lucky Duck Games and Stone Sword Games is one example of this trend, with LD announcing that it will bring SSG’s Senjutsu: Battle for Japan to retail outlets following fulfillment of the game’s crowdfunding campaign.

Senjutsu is a 1-4 player game from Paul D. Allen and James Faulkner in which players can use pre-constructed decks for their character or construct one of their own, then fight in duels to inflict wounds on others, with five wounds knocking someone out of the game. Cards allow to move around the battlefield, reorienting yourself and adjusting your stance in order to facilitate particular strikes and defensive maneuvers.

You can also stun enemies, gunking their hands with useless cards, or inflict bleeding wounds that slowly drain their deck, which is not replenished.

You can see the Senjutsu battlefield on the back of the Ukrainian version of the game above — and as a side note, I’ll mention that a couple of publishers at GAMA have talked about the surprising strength of the Ukrainian game market given Russia’s continued attacks upon that country. Stock being shipped to Ukraine has been held up due to unreliable train service; bank payments are held up because the electricity goes out, so transfers are unavailable — yet Ukrainian publishers continue to due what they can to get games to people who probably want a distraction from the outside world.

Senjutsu: Battle for Japan includes a solo campaign book, and six expansion modules will be available directly from Lucky Duck Games.

• LD has also picked up Henry Audubon’s Cosmoctopus from Paper Fort Games for retail distribution following fulfillment of its crowdfunding campaign in June 2023, with the game scheduled to be available at Gen Con 2023 in August.

On a turn, you move Cosmoctopus in a 3×3 grid in order to gain resources or cards, using those resources to fulfill cards and build a Splendor-style engine to ramp up to more powerful cards that allow you to pull tentacles from Cosmoctopus’ realm to our own. Be the first player to surround yourself with eight tentacles to win, i.e. lose.

Nimalia is a 2-4 player card-drafting game from William Liévin and La Boîte de Jeu that Lucky Duck is localizing for the U.S. and Poland and expects to release in May 2023.

The game lasts five rounds, and you score at the end of each round based on the combination of scoring cards revealed at the start of play.

At the start of each round, you take three random cards that show a 2×2 pattern of animals and objects on landscapes, play one of those cards, pass the others to a neighbor, play one of the two cards you receive (which must overlap at least one space in your display), then pass and play the final card, then score for the indicated scoring cards.

Keep playing rounds, with your card area never growing beyond a 6×6 space, and whoever scores the most after five rounds wins.


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