designed by Seth Jaffee, published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Players: 2-4; Playing Time: 45 min.; Good for: Deckbuilder AND engine building fans, future galactic overlords.
Become the pre-eminent force in the galaxy in this space-themed deckbuilding game. Survey new planets, peacefully colonize them or attack by through force of arms, build resources on those planets, and then sell those resources to gain influence in the galaxy. Most influence at the end of the game wins. You begin each round by choosing to play one card for its action that only you can do. Then you choose a Role from the common stacks: Survey, Colonize, Warfare, Research, or Produce/Trade. You get to perform this action with a bonus, while other players will have the option to perform the same action, which players can boost by playing additional cards from their hand. The chosen card is then added to your discard pile, thus building your deck for later rounds. As your survey and settle planets, you will not only get the chance to generate resources, you can also Research more powerful cards to add to your deck. Once the influence points are distributed or one or two of the common stacks are used up, the game ends and the person with the highest influence from points previously earned, settled planets, and researched tech cards, wins the game and rules the galaxy in peace and prosperity. Unless you chose Warfare. Then you can pretend to rule the galaxy with an iron fist.
Clever combination of deckbuilding, action selection, and tableau/engine building. Depending on what you focus on, you can find numerous paths of victory: build up your armada to invade planets? Sure. Research new technologies to earn points? Okay. Generate resources and trade them in for points? You got it!
One Line Verdict: With numerous paths to victory and an elegant combination of various mechanics, definitely sign up to explore this distant star.
“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.
designed by Reiner Stockhausen, published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Raise your power and prestige in the Medieval French city of Orleans! In this “bag-building” game, randomly draw up to four different workers from your bag: knights, craftsmen, monks, farmers, and boatsmen. Assign them in groups of two or three to different actions on your player board. Advance on different progress tracks to collect resources or build buildings (which provide more spots to place workers), or to travel through France building trading houses and collecting resources. Collect citizens from the progress tracks to earn extra points. And then stare at the workers you drew and realize you are only one worker away from a MONSTER turn.
Easily the most Euro game you will every play: so many decisions with multiple paths to victory. The blind worker draw adds just right amount of randomness. But so many decisions…