New Game Round-up: From Mountains to Oceans, and From Galactic Emperor to Empire of the Stars

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by W. Eric Martin

• In 2008, designer Adam West released Galactic Emperor through CrossCut Games, which he co-owns. More than a decade later, he’s revisited and reworked the design, with Empire of the Stars due to hit Kickstarter in 2019 ahead of a planned 2020 release. Here’s an overview of the game, which sounds similar to the original at this high level:

Empire of the Stars is a fast-paced empire-building game of exploration, conflict, and struggle for dominance. The last galactic emperor has met with a sudden and quite fatal accident. Now there is a power vacuum in the galaxy, and you’re one of the Planetary Dukes who wants to fill it.

Each of the 2-4 players takes one of 30 asymmetric powers and controls their own throne and sector of the galaxy. Using a unique action selection system, the game plays over several rounds, and within each round, the roles players choose determine what happens next. There are seven different roles: Explorer, Merchant, Steward, Engineer, Scientist, Warlord, and Regent. All players get a turn to act during each role, so the game is fast paced and everyone is always playing. Combat is thrilling and daring using a unique card combat system. There are 75 unique technologies impacting all parts of the game from industry and culture, engineering and the economy, and (of course) military might. Once the galactic throne is taken, every round after the game ticks down automatically, adding to the tension and excitement! Finally a 4x sci-fi game that guarantees a fast play time while arcing through an epic experience!

The player who uses all of this to their best advantage by exploring new worlds, expanding their empire, exploiting their precious resources and income, and exterminating their opponents to score the most galaxy tokens wins the game!
In this BGG thread, West details the changes from Galactic Emperor (which was for 3-6 players) to Empire of the Stars.

• Polish publisher Nasza Księgarnia has released new versions of two old-school two-player games: Głębia, which is Polish for “deep”, is a new take on Stephen Glenn‘s Balloon Cup, with players now trying to sink in the ocean instead of floating high over mountains.

Kruki (“ravens”) is a Polish version of the second edition of Odin’s Ravens from Thorsten Gimmler, with the game’s setting remaining the same and the otherworldly artwork being brand new courtesy of Marcin Minor.

Nasza Księgarnia has also released its own version of Zachary Eagle‘s Go Nuts for Donuts under the name Niezłe ciacho, which translates as “Pretty nice”.

And the reprints continue with Fabryka czekolady (“The Chocolate Factory”), a new version of Nao Shimamura‘s Throne and the Grail, a two-player-only design that first appeared in 2016 from Taikikennai Games. In this game, over three rounds players either add a card from their hand to the river of cards or they take the most recent five cards from the river and add those cards to their collection. Collect majorities to score points, or collect all three grail cards to win instantly. The new version lacks a grail, of course, so you can try to collect the three bits of white chocolate instead.

Finally, we have Magazynier (“Shopkeeper”), a new version of Jog Kung‘s Small Warehouse that is for 2-4 players instead of only two. Each player builds their own collection of goods from cards that depict 3-5 types of merchandise on them. You can overlap the cards to create larger blocks of merchandise, and after you have eight cards, you score for each type of merchandise by multiplying the number of goods in that largest block by the number of different blocks you created.

Player cards in Kruki

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