Even though the holidays are getting closer and closer we keep seeing more and more great Kickstarter projects appear on the platform. Today we have a treat for fans of more thinky, strategy board games that can keep you occupied for many game nights. Let’s check out 3 of them.
Aqua Garden by a Japanese board game designer Totsuca Chuo makes players become aquarists working on creating aquariums in their own town. You will all be competing to become the best and most visited local tourist attraction.
The game mixes worker placement with a set collection mechanic. The main catch is that you have only one worker available. The gameplay area consists of 2 shared boards. The first, called the Fair Board, shows local fishermen with the fish they’re offering and some marketing opportunities. Meanwhile the circular Sea Board is filled with seaweed and coral tokens. Additionally each player has their own aquarium board with 6 spaces for placing sea life and areas to host their worker.
Each round consists of 2 steps. First: you move your “owner meeple” by any number of spaces (at least 1) through the track surrounding the Fair Board. Next, you resolve an action available at the place where you’ve landed on, or pass.
There are two types of spaces where you can end up in. The first one is a location with a fish token. You take it, move your employee 1 to 3 spaces on your aquarium board and place the fish in one of the nearby tanks. A feeding event may occur here and grant you some bonus money if the worker moves past one of the marked locations. There’s much more depth here as fish need to be paired properly (e.g. sharks might not be too friendly to others), you need certain oxygen levels etc.
The second situation occurs when you land on an advertising space. This makes you get funds according to amounts of certain types of fish and other sea life you have. The final situation is moving to a standby track which means taking no action, but gives you a chance to be the first player next round. The game lasts a set amount of rounds depending on the player count. Whoever has the most VPs for tokens, money, milestones and sets collected at the end of the final round – ends up as the winner and becomes the best aquarist in town.
Aqua Garden feels like a highly enjoyable euro game, and the art style is beautiful, especially the painted meeples. Backers can also get an expansion featuring more creatures and an outdoor aquarium.
And now something for fans of trains, railways and complex euro style games. The Transcontinental takes us to 1871 when the Canadian Prime Minister decided to connect western and eastern parts of the entire country including its newest province. This vital part of the history of Canada sounds like a perfect setting for an industry themed strategy board game.
The Transcontinental is a 1-4 player game and can take up to 2,5 hours, depending on the player count and familiarity with the rules. Each round players start by sending telegrams, which mark places where the passing train will have to stop and allow various actions. There are 2 rows of action tiles above and beyond the track so you can choose one of 2 or perform them both. Actions tend to be related to loading and unloading various cargo. Since every player has a secret goal card that awards many VPs, you will likely want to stop at areas related to fulfilling it.
Allies are another way to aid you in your efforts. Various (mostly historical) characters appear on cards and offer one time actions that can turn the tides of the entire game in your favor. Also: the train itself may be expanded each turn with new cars ready to be filled with your resources. Picking the most effective actions and manipulating telegraphs to outplay your opponents are the key to victory.
The Pursuit of Happiness – Big Box and Nostalgia expansion
The Pursuit of Happiness is one of the most successful titles by Artipia Games and keeps getting new content after almost 5 years since the original release. The game lets each player control a single human: from their childhood, through adulthood and their elderly years. The game offers various ways to develop your character by choosing jobs, establishing relationships and doing tons of other things to become as happy as possible. The main time management mechanic is based on the classic worker placement idea.
Expansions released so far include: “Community” about local people and problems, “Experiences” tackling dreams and tourism and a smaller expansion “Thug Life” released on board game related events.
The fourth campaign dedicated to The Pursuit of Happiness has recently launched and offers something for avid fans as well as collectors. The former will likely enjoy the new expansion called “Nostalgia” devoted to memories and childhood dreams. These are given to players near the beginning of their characters’ lives and motivate them to plan their futures even more than in the core game.
It’s also possible to get a Big Box able to host all of the expansions released so far, a plenty of promos, deluxe components, and every single item from the franchise.