Kickstarter Interesting Projects #3 (13th Mar ’14) – Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture & MERCS: Recon

Wow, March is an expensive month! 2 High interest (to me) epic games launched within a day of each other! I’ve backed games from both of these creators before, and while I’ve not yet received Myth it’s expected in a month or so and is shaping up to be very interesting (If apparently a bit in need of an FAQ ^^).

Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture

Stonemaier games, a company/pair of individuals I consider to be the most communicative, friendly creators on the platform, who also find ways to bring great value, are bringing an absolute stunner here, which takes their first game Viticulture to new levels with this Expansion pack. Viticulture is one of my absolute favourite games despite not even being a theme that would normally draw me in, and with these extra modules come something greater than the sum of it’s parts, that is absolute worth looking into. The pack is split into 3 tiers of modules, with the expectation being you unlock a module every 1-3 plays and unlock all of a tier before moving to the next.

The first tier has small impact additions, which work together to smooth out and refine the original game. Mamas & Papas adds variable starting conditions for players, which give people a focus from the start of a game & for me will never be excluded from a game again. Patronage adds a special wine order for each player, which they can fill for a couple of points, and if they fulfill a given condition, a few bonus points on top. Advanced visitors are a new set of cards which are balanced to help out through all stages of the game (Whereas some of the original ones may have had bigger impact earlier or alter). Property cards allow you to sell off fields for money, trading off the space for growing to build up other areas of your vineyard. These come together brilliantly, adding unique player powers & strategy and vastly improving the replayability of the game.

In the second tier are a few heavier impact changes which greatly change the feel of the game. First up is the extended game board, which takes the 2 season play to 4 seasons and adds some new action spaces. The extra seasons make being 1st stronger, but this is balanced by bigger bonuses for going later in player order, a very interesting thing to think about indeed. Special workers are new unique workers that cost a little bit extra but each provide a unique power to the player, 2 are used per game and make for even more unique plays. Finally there are an additional set of visitors, which have more complex interactions than before making for tougher chocies for those you want it.

Finally comes the third tier, which consists of ‘one-at-a-time’ expansions which add to the player boards and bring new elements to the game to consider alongside the making of wine. Arboriculture (Which was also available in the original kickstarter) adds ‘arbors’, which is to say lets you grow tomato’s, apples & olives to add to orders, which also introducing the concept of worker morale, which should be kept high to ensure success. Formaggio, the ‘cheese’ expansion, gives players cows to milk and process into cheese, which can be added to orders or sold individually, but has a management aspect to consider that it may go off if kept around too long!

This is just what’s available so far, with stretch goals adding yet more content to this awesome looking expansion to a great game. If you are at all into worker-placement games, I consider this a must have, and if you love wine on top you should certainly consider giving it a look! The game is scheduled to ship to backers for November, and I fully expect it to have aged wonderfully in that time ^^.

MERCS: Recon

Going a little bit up on the price scale is this intriguing looking miniatures game from Megacon Games. I first heard of these guys when I discovered (and subsequently backed) their campaign for their cooperative fantasy dungeon crawl Myth last year, and was drawn in by the quality and care they take to their products. While I won’t have Myth myself for another month or two, shipping has begun for American backers and it sounds like the game is as excellent a quality as I’d hoped if with perhaps a few shortcomings on rules clarity. Throughout that time they’ve been communicative and friendly, and that’s let me to looking into this new project from them.

In MERCS: Recon, players act as mercenaries infiltrating a ‘megacon’, where they must fight through narrow hallways to capture & interrogate employee’s or find and secure objectives. The game is set in their MERCS universe, an interesting near-future scifi setting with advanced weapons and technology.

The map for each game is created with a variety of tiles which fit together in a variety of ways to create a different layout each time you play. These different layouts will lead to the need for differing tactics as you fight your way through the office, as well as setting up situations where you might want to damage the environment  (Yes, destructive environments!) to open up new routes or even pass between floors to make your way to the objective of that particular scenario.

The endpoint of each game seems to result in what the Megacon guys are referring to as a ‘Breach and Clear’ situation. It’s not really clear to me what the point of this is, but you have an expanded tile to ‘zoom in’ on the action and play out the finale in some epic way (I hope it’s epic anyway ^^). Presumably some scenario’s change this up, with talk of civilian capture scenarios and more.

I’m not quite 100% on my interest in this one, but one backers comment summed up what I want from this nicely – a futuristic style board game that plays out like the popular video game Counter Strike (In fact, I’m hoping for some outdoor tiles that might help me to recreate cs_office ^^. If that sounds like the kind of thing you might be interested in I encourage you to browse on over to the kickstarter page and see what you think!

Ok I’ll shush in a moment. These are some pretty expensive kickstarters and they’re going to be putting me out of budget for games for a while, but I hope of some interest to you as the reader of this post! Again, if you’re interesting in Tuscany and in the area, come along to halesowen board games next week and I’ll show you how it plays, and if you back Recon and want to see their other project then come along to try out Myth when that arrives in a month or two! Till then, byeeee! ^^.

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