Today we’ll be looking at three games with elements that intersect in surprising ways. Two of them are vast in scope, encompassing vast swaths of outer space and unexplored mystical frontiers, while one of them puts the focus squarely on a magical land of a different sort: the dog park. However, two of the games offer cut-throat competition while one is entirely designed around harmonious co-existence. And you might be surprised about which is which.
Voidfall – Sept. 28th
The first game on the docket today has quite the pedigree. From Mindclash games and designer Dávid Turczi, publisher and designer of Anachrony, comes the exciting space opera Voidfall.
While there are many games set in space, Voidfall has the ambitious aim of merging the 4X genre of far-reaching space exploration and development with the elegant and streamlined style of Eurogames.
The game’s operatic story centers around The Voidborn: an otherworldly entity that has cultivated a vast empire, helping it expand until such time that it is large enough to provide a healthy meal for The Voidborn. Oh, and that time? It’s now. Players choose a Great House to take on The Voidborn alone in solo play or with up to 4 players in co-op play. And if you’ve got a competitive streak, you can duke it out with the other players head-to-head to see who will gain control of the empire once the Voidborn threat is past.
One nice thing about Voidborn, as opposed to some other 4X titles, is that it has an estimated run-time of just 60 – 80 minutes. Players will play over just three rounds, with each round including a galaxy-spanning event which affects game play, a new scoring condition, and a finite number of focus cards. Players will have to choose just 2 of a focus card’s 3 possible actions to influence aspects of their Great House like how quickly their faction grows, how much they produce, what technology they learn, and what kind of fleet you amass. As in all Eurogames, careful planning and cultivation of your resources is key.
And speaking of space fleets, combat is one area where the Eurogame aspect really shines through because Voidfall’s combat system leaves nothing to chance. Players simply compare the shields and firepower of the defender’s orbital defenses and fleet against that of their attacker’s. This streamlined system lets both players see how a battle will play out before combat even commences which can lead to some very uncomfortable realizations. And of course there are ship miniatures, ensuring that you can make swooshing noises aplenty as your Dreadnoughts and Corvettes blast around the galaxy.
Mythwind –Oct. 5
The next game in today’s harvest has a similarly lofty concept. Mythwynd from OOMM is a fully cooperative game that casts 1 to 4 players as pioneers called by Sprites to a mysterious frontier to help nurture and develop the valley.
Probably the game’s biggest claim is that it can continue for as long as you want. The designers, Brendan McCaskell (Stars of Akarios) and Nathan Lige, have likened it to both the creative process of playing with Lego and the zen peacefulness of Animal Crossing. Set the game up in just 5 minutes, put it away when you’re done, and your game will be waiting when you come back to it.
Players will choose their role as either a Farmer, tasked with sustaining the population, or a Builder, whose job is to improve the town. Play is asymmetrical, but unlike many asymmetrical games, players are always working towards the same goal of developing their community. The game also has “Legacy” elements to it as well, although McCaskell is adamant that Mythwynd does away with the more wasteful elements of the genre. So while you’ll be changing the town every time you play, nothing gets thrown away. Instead, players will use player boards and trays to lock their state and that of the town into place. So you can box it up and start right back up where you left off.
But outside your town lies the wilds of Mythwynd which are home to all sorts of mysterious sprites. But fear not, as these sprites are here to help! In addition to developing their town directly, players will also be able to explore the surrounding area to discover and record the valley’s more magical inhabitants. Discovering the sprites is provides a number of benefits to your town, so you better catch ’em all! LINK
Dog Park – Launched Sep. 14 – Ending Sep. 30
Our final game has some equally adorable characters but is much more cut-throat. Welcome to the competitive world of professional dog walking!
Dog Park is the first offering from the female-led BirdWood Games, and they are off to a great start. Lead designer and co-founder Lottie Hazell has put together a game that, while smaller in scope than the previous two entries, still creates player choices that are simple yet agonizing.
This competitive game for 1 to 4 players is played over a series of 4 rounds. Over the course of the game, players will try to become the most highly sought-after dog walkers by earning the most reputation.
Each round starts with the players secretly bidding for dogs using their reputation as currency. But be careful which dogs you choose as they each have their own specific needs which you must provide for if you want to walk them. Once they have their dogs, players set out to walk them through the dog park. The tough choices continue here. The faster a player goes, the more likely they are to get through the dog park first. However, slower players are more likely to gather resources they will need to walk their next round of dogs. Maintaining this balance is important because without resources, you can’t walk dogs. And each unwalked dog in your kennel damages your reputation at the end of the round.
At the end of the game players tally up their reputation to determine the winner. In addition to the points earned while walking the dogs, players can earn “Breed Bonuses” for having the most of a certain breed in their kennel, again setting up interesting player choices during the bidding process.
Not only does this game have a tight set of rules, but it also boasts some beautiful water color art. And with several expansions already up for grabs on the Kickstarter campaign, it’s worth mentioning to the dog-lovers in your life.