As the Table Turns: Tapestry, Camp Pinetop, and Board Game News From September
From games like Tapestry and Camp Pinetop to the next game from the makers of Dinosaur Island, here is September's biggest board game news.
Welcome to our new monthly feature delving into the biggest stories from the analog world of board and tabletop gaming. In this space, expect to find gaming news items both big and small, a selection of Kickstarters you might want to keep an eye on, and a few other bits and bobs.
Of course, with this being a new column, things can (and likely will) change. So, sound off in the comments if you have any ideas of where you’d like this column to go.
Board Game News for September 2019
Tapestry Pre-orders Go Live and Sell Out in 32 Hours
Tapestry is the latest game from Jamey Stegmaier and Stonemaier Games. Stonemaier is, of course, the company behind hits like Scythe, Wingspan, and Viticulture. Personally, I have yet to play a Stonemaier game that I didn’t love, so when they announced Tapestry would be going on a pre-order sale at the start of September, I was very excited.
Unfortunately, the number of games they allocated for consumer preorders turned out to be not nearly enough to last through the four-day preorder window. Instead, it was over in just 32 hours. In some ways, this is a good problem to have; the game is popular. It’s a giant civilization game, which is a genre that tends to do well amongst board gamers.
However, ticking off a huge slice of your audience because you didn’t have enough copies available is always going to be a headache. Stegmaier actually has a good blog post about the whole ordeal that I would recommend reading. For me, I’m not too worried about not getting in the preorder. If a game is great it will get reprinted, and Tapestry is already set for a 2nd run this December.
Paris: New Eden Puts Other Dice-Drafting Games on Notice
Roll Player is one of my favorite games that doesn’t get to my table much largely because my regular playgroup just isn’t that into medieval fantasy. What they do like are post-apocalyptic themes and great art. Lucky for me, Paris: New Eden fills both those slots.
Like Roll Player, Paris: New Eden uses dice-drafting as its main mechanism. You’ll use the dice you roll to recruit survivors to your shelter in post-apocalyptic Paris. It might sound contradictory to the theme, but the art is adorable. As far as I’m aware, this is the artist’s first game, though you could have fooled me. The game launches later this year and I’m eager to see more.
Camp Pinetop is So Beautiful, I’m Buying Regardless of How it Plays
Another game with great art? We’re getting a bit of a theme here. Camp Pinetop‘s art is some of my favorite I’ve ever seen in board games. That makes it an easy sell for game groups of nearly every level. The actual game is a mix of hand management and clever grid-movement, mixed with some light area control. An easy comparison might be a lighter version of Istanbul (a Top 100 game on Board Game Geek). Truthfully, I spent 11 summers working as a camp counselor, so this game was basically made for me. Note: This game is currently on Kickstarter, but I wanted to give it a special shoutout here because of how much I love the art.
Paranormal Detectives Might Be Your Mysterium-Killer
Mysterium is a great game that has one player undertaking the role of a ghost trying to pass knowledge from beyond the grave to everyone else who have become spirit mediums. However, the only way to pass that info along is through the use of beautifully illustrated cards that you pass to the mediums. It’s all silly fun that’s been a hit with every group I’ve ever tried it with. Paranormal Detectives takes a similar concept but gives the ghost several new options for communication.
Basically, each non-ghost player gets an opportunity to ask the ghost an open-ended question. They then give the ghost an interaction card that dictates how the ghost communicates to them. Options include playing a tarot card, drawing by holding the hand of a detective or creating a word puzzle. I’ll have to wait until the game releases, but it sounds like this game might take Mysterium to the next level.
Chrono Corsairs Has You Play as Pirates Stuck in a Time Loop and I’m Sold
Chrono Corsairs is a game with a great theme that I missed in my Gen Con write up from earlier in the year. You play as pirates stranded on Ouroboros Island, which is stuck in a time loop. Each player uses cards to pre-select their actions each time the game loops. So, as you discover more about the island, you’ll be able to better choose which actions you take and when. As you progress through the game, time anomalies will begin to happen, forcing you to switch up tactics as new scoring opportunities arise. It’s just a really cool concept that has tons of potential.
Kickstarters to Check Out This Month
Detective: City of Angels Reprint and New Expansion
Detective: City of Angels is a Kickstarter game I greatly regretting not getting in its original run. Now, the game is back with a sizable new expansion. City of Angels is a narrative-driven game set in 1940s Los Angeles. All players except for one play as LAPD detectives who are trying to solve the many cases included in the game. One player is “The Chisel,” whose goal is to mislead the detectives in any way possible. It’s a fun switch for a genre that is usually dominated by cooperative titles. The game’s new expansion has six days left on Kickstarter (as of this writing), so get it now if it sounds up your alley.
I wanted to mention the Root: RPG Kickstarter because I think it’s neat when a designer takes popular board games and turn them into tabletop role-playing games. I don’t usually play many tabletop RPGs, but I wish I had the time and group for them. Root is a fun, asymmetrical board game with great art and feels like the perfect setting for an RPG, especially for someone looking to play with a family. The Kickstarter still has about three weeks left if you’re interested.
The Kickstarter section ends with the next game from Pandasaurus Games, the team behind the wildly successful Dinosaur Island. Their next effort, Godspeed, is a worker placement game set in a universe where the Earth’s space programs used the moon landing as a spectacle to cover up the fact that they were sending astronauts to other planets. You play as one nation’s group of astronauts that have arrived on another world and are trying to claim the planet for your country. Pandasaurus promises the game will be full of player-interaction and unique worker-placement: two things that I’m very fond of.
Board Games in the Video Game World
Gloomhaven‘s First Major Update
Gloomhaven, the top-rated game on Board Game Geek, recently launched a digital version into early access on Steam. The analog version of the game is absolutely massive and astoundingly innovative. At launch, the digital version lacked most of what makes Gloomhaven special. That is slowly changing, as the team just put out their first major update for the Steam version.
The biggest addition is a new class, the Tinkerer, bringing the total available to five. That’s still way less than the analog game, but it’s a step in the right direction. They’ve also added a tutorial and taken away weapon durability, which are both much-needed additions for the game. Next up is the final starting class and several new enemy types and bosses. It’s taking time to get to the state it needs to be in, but, as a huge Gloomhaven fan, I’m happy with the progress they’ve made thus far.
Top of My Table
Machi Koro: Legacy
I’ll end this column with a quick look at what I’ve been playing most lately. I recently picked up Machi Koro: Legacy, as the original version is my wife’s favorite game and we both like Legacy games. For reference, the original game is one where you buy cards that have different abilities written on them. They each also have a number across the top which tells you when that number is rolled, the card activates. So, if you get a bunch of cards with a three on them, you want to roll as many threes as possible to get more money to buy more cards. We’re about five games in with at least as many more to play, and I have to say that I don’t see why anyone would buy normal Machi Koro after this.
Maybe you love how simplistic Machi Koro is, but I’m really digging all the new mechanics they add to the game. Now, you have to manage several other things besides just rolling dice and buying cards. The original version makes it so easy to build a machine that consistently churns out cards. I happen to be much better than my wife at quickly calculating probabilities and usually win the game because of it. With Legacy, there are other things for me to focus on, so I can’t be so single-minded. This has resulted in her winning more in our five games of Legacy than she probably has in our last 20 original Machi Koro games. I plan to have a more in-depth review of this on the site in the next week or so, but for now, know that Machi Koro: Legacy is the Machi Koro to get (Amazon).