While concern for our environment is not new, it’s been a while since it was such a part of the global zeitgeist. But now, whole nations are now taking global warming very seriously when for years it was an issue that many had placed on the back burner. I heard something about a heatwave or two this year. Maybe that has had something to do with it?
Fortunately, world leaders will soon need to look no further than the game shelves of their FLGS for ideas on combatting environmental catastrophe.
Powerline – Gamefound
Queen Games is kicking off a new line of games under their “Green Planet” initiative with a focus on sustainability and promoting visions of a more eco-friendly planet. Powerline is the first game in this series. Designed by Dirk Henn (Shogun, Alhambra),Powerline is a game for 1 – 6 players in which each person tries to connect cities to a power grid and complete transmission lines.
At the beginning of each turn, 6 differently colored dice are rolled and arranged by color. Players will use the dice to add to their power lines, and can choose to use the dice from left to right or right to left. Each space on an electric line has a corresponding die facing that is required to build a section of powerline there. Players may spend each of their colored die to build, but to keep things interesting there are a few exceptions. Players may not build on more than 3 lines at a time, each section of powerline must connect to a previous one, and you can only build certain configurations a finite number of times. For example, if I laid down 5 workers on one turn, then I have to take a token away from my “5 Workers” configuration track. That means that I only have 2 more opportunities to lay down 5 workers in one turn. There are also “mini quests” which players can achieve for extra points, making the placement of those workers that much more critical.
This game is a classic Euro-style game and incredibly easy to learn, but the few, cleverly designed player restraints make it still feel highly strategic. The artwork, featuring pristine skies and lots of greenery, also fits into the Green Planet mission statement of “Imagin[ing] a bright future.”
Endeavor: Deep Sea – Gamefound (January 2023)
As far as ecosystems go, the ocean is kinda important. It covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, provides 50% of our planet’s oxygen, not to mention all of the food, money, and medicine harvested from it each year. But sure, let’s dump a ton or two of Starbucks lids in there every day. Why not?
Well, that’s actually what the latest project from Age of Gaming, a partnership of Burnt Island Games and Grand Gamer’s Guild, aims to address. If the Endeavor portion of the title sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve playeda little game called Endeavor: Age of Sail. Designed by Jarrat Gray and Carl De Visser, Age of Sail is the popular game of exploration and conquest by European empires. Players send explorers to other continents to colonize land and harvest resources while trying to defend their newly gained territory from other players.
In this latest Endeavor chapter, Gray and De Visser are back and using Deep Sea to improve upon Age of Sail. For starters, the imperialistic themes of Deep Sea’s predecessor have been scrapped. Instead of exploring already settled lands and conquering indigenous people, players will explore underwater habitats and attempt to preserve fragile ecosystems, an altogether more noble goal. Age of Sails’ complex rules, featuring elements of area control, engine building, worker placement, and resource gathering, have also been streamlined in this latest edition while still keeping the core mechanics and depth of complex choices that made the original a favorite. According to the Gen Con hype, this second entry in the Endeavor line is every bit as good as the first.
The Druid Master – Kickstarter
One of the things that tabletop gamers like to boast about are the many intellectual benefits of the hobby. Improvements in reading, long-term planning, and social skills are just a few of the areas which improve with regular tabletop game sessions. But more and more, designers have been using board games to teach about specific subjects and processes. But to the best of my knowledge, no game before has taught players which part of their backyard to eat when they have a stomach ache.
While you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe The Druid Master might teach about ancient Celtic priests or maybe nature at large, it’s got a much more specific aim. This fast-and-easy card game for 1 – 4 players is designed to teach players the medicinal properties of real plants.
Each turn, the players-turned-druids will be presented with a sick patient exhibiting specific symptoms. Players have hands of cards each featuring a plant with information on the potency of its curative powers. Using up to 3 of these plant cards, each player creates a secret remedy to cure the patient, and the player whose combination is most effective wins points for that round. To keep things interesting, each patient card also comes with an event card which will affect the types and number of cards you can play that round. Don’t think you have a chance of winning a round? Players can also sacrifice 2 of their cards in exchange for a boon they can play later on.
Now, normally I would be the first to tell you that eating unfamiliar plants at the urging of a stranger is a terrible idea. Thankfully, this game was developed in collaboration with one Dr. Ermes Trapanese, so Druid Masters does come with some professional pedigree.
by Zane Messina