“The Oracle of Delphi”
designed by Stefan Feld, published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Race around the Mediterranean to be the first to complete the tasks assigned to you by the gods! Build your course with a wonky modular board and that still oddly creates a challenging course for you to navigate your ships. Be the first to complete the myriad tasks set before you: pick up some statues or other material and move it to another place or erect each of your temples on designated items. You will have different randomly determined objectives each game. To accomplish these tasks, each round you roll your three action dice. The color of dice determine the types of actions you take: maybe you can move to a green space (up to three) with your green die, or pick up a green statue or investigate a green space. Or you can you use favor tokens to advance the die to a different color on your action rondel. Earn god powers along the way and recruit heroes to give you some game-breaking power to be the first to complete all your tasks and race back to Zeus and be crowned winner! Or come in a close second in a race of inches as much as feet.
At last, a Stefan Feld game that ISN’T a point salad. Clever use of a dice color system that is both random enough and elegant enough that even new players catch on quickly after a turn or two. Lots of components and a daunting set-up, but a game that plays silky smooth and moves quickly from turn to turn.
One Line Verdict: Not quite the future of gaming, but drop in on the Oracle for a quick spin.
“Xia: Legends of a Drift System”
designed by Cody Miller, published by Far Off Games
Outfit your spaceship with engines, shields, and guns and go exploring the galaxy tile by tile. Roll dice to move, attack others, do pick up and deliver missions, mine, and make money to upgrade your spaceship to earn fame points! Earn fame points by doing almost anything: including rolling a natural 20. Lots of choices, but subject to a kind of wonky randomness as you depend on dice for moving, defending, shooting, mining, traveling through space barriers, and blowing up on your second turn after a bad roll.
Almost a sandbox game with great-looking components. Seems complicated, but flows smoothly and quickly, but that gosh-durned randomness…
Designed by Sebastian Bleasdale, published by Asmodee Games and Space Cowboys
Sail the seas as merchants, pirates, and the navy at the same time! Each player controls a merchant ship to deliver goods, a pirate ship to sack other players, and one of two navy ships to thwart the pirates. One card allows you to move each separate vessel as you deliver goods to earn coins, raid the other players’ merchants, and use the navy to sink those pesky pirates. Use the coins you earn to unlock upgrades that feature different game-breaking powers for each player.. Also get fortune cards to deploy extra powers to your vessels. Only players who unlock the last upgrade are counted to win the game: the most coins wins. And you can have a ton of coins, but don’t forget to unlock those upgrades, because timing is a factor! As I learned the hard way.
There is a lot of strategy and cutthroat action, but oddly enough, minor stakes. Good pirate-y fun all-around.