This year is particularly exciting, as most portuguese designers and publishers have at least one sci-fi / fantasy title on their predicted pipeline. Please bear in mind that these are not the ONLY titles being published – but here we tend to focus on the sci-fi and fantasy-themed board games.
So let’s have a quick look on what’s on the menu for 2019:
On Mars (Vital Lacerda/Ian O’Toole) – Eagle Gryphon Games
Vital Lacerda is one of most prolific portuguese designers, already with a bunch of internationally acclaimed games published. His designs tend to be heavy both in complexity and in theme – which is something usually hard to achieve. Most of previous designs have serious themes, such as wine production (Vinhos), factory optimization (Kanban), environment crisis management (CO2) and city (re-)building (Lisboa). This year he is colonizing the Red Planet with On Mars – successfully funded on KS this April. As with most of his previous games of late, he is partnering-up with Ian O’Toole, so expect an amazing game with insane production value and components. Please visit the Kickstarter page for more info – and if you want to jump in, try to find someone who backed it. Pledge Managers were just sent this week, so you might still have time for some good ol’ Kickstarter piggybacking.
Adamastor: The Sea Monster (António Sousa Lara / MEBO Games)
Mebo Games, one of the largest portuguese publishers that gave us Arraial (a game that sold out in Essen last year), has been doing demos and playtests of Adamastor in some of the national cons. In Adamastor, we are thrown back in time once more and revisit the Portuguese Discoveries – much like they did in the past with Caravelas. But here the traditional longing for the glory of times past is thrown out of the window. This time there are monsters roaming the seas and they have their eyes set on the delicious ships of the Portuguese fleet. In this game you are not playing the heroic sailors – this is not your run-of-the-mill history sim. Instead you are controlling an hungry and angry monster – and you’ll get points by sinking ships and by punching other monsters in the face. It has some vibes of King of Tokyo (minus the Yahtzee dice) and it is a refreshing (and in my view fictional) take on the Discoveries.
2491 Planetship (António Sousa Lara / Manuel Morgado) – MEBO Games
There are not a lot of titles that I would buy twice. A few years ago, part of my collection was lost due to a freak natural disaster and at the time I vowed I wouldn’t re-buy any of the titles – mostly out of spite due to the circumstances. Later that year, I had to break that vow to buy City of Spies: Estoril 1942 again. To put it simple terms, Estoril is an area control game with some deckbuilding elements thrown in. You have to use a hand of spies to bid and control areas on the map – that in turn would allow you to recruit new, stronger spies to your team. The problem is that you have a limited hand size, so you will need to decide which spies do you keep in your hand for the final scoring. Also bear in mind there several randomly assigned scoring objectives that will force you to make clever choices on which agents to bid on and keep for the final tally.
Now the game will have a newer sci-fi inspired version, that seems to be a little more than a re-skin. In 2491 Planetship, instead of agents you will have a team of astronauts that you will send on a rescue mission to make sure you rescue the most valuable crew members out of a Planetship – a massive space juggernaut that is broadcasting distress signals.
Judging from his predecessor – I am expecting great things. City of Spies: Estoril 1942 is one of my favourites and a little bird told me this new sci-fi version will have a rich, deep lore that is still being developed.
The predicted release date is late 2019 release / early 2020. If you aren’t willing to wait until then – there will be a Estoril 1942 Big Box re-release this year that I strongly encourage you to check.
Artificial Intelligence (Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro / Paulo Soledade) – What’s Your Game
One of the most cryptic games on our list is coming from an heavy-weight designer duo. Over the years Nuno and Paulo have given us a plethora of amazing games – from the colourful Arraial to heavier economic simulators such as Nippon and Madeira, as well as the criminaly-underrated Panamax.
One of their upcoming games had a surprising theme – a dystopic future where A.I.-controlled machines do all the work and Humanity has become all but redundant.
So far not a lot is known about it – apart from the setting and some cool looking androids. They are bringing the Cyberpunk back into your gaming table.
They are planning a Kickstarter campaign to run on 2020, and considering their portfolio you should save the date.
Confront (Miguel Ribeiro) – Self Published
Recently, on one of the largest portuguese board game Cons in Leiria, I was browsing the available prototypes for testing and I found Confront.
Coming from a skirmish tabletop game background – I was intrigued. The game is played on a very cool-looking mdf laser-cut board. Here stylized laser-cut pieces will move across a grid, depending on their class and stats, and engage in battle.
The objective is to control the area in the centre of the battlefield for 3 turns without its occupant suffering any damage. Or you can just kill the opposing team completely – whatever tickles your fancy.
The game features a class system and will have some degree of army building, with a points system in place to try to keep things balanced. It is looking very promising and I look forward to see it hit the market.
The game looks amazing and it has a very cool table presence. Being a Miniature fan, I never thought these laser cut minimalist designs would… cut it (oh look – a pun!) but they do!
It is also amazing to see a game being self-published. Confront will be looking for backers on Kickstarter in a couple of months, so stay tuned!
Parting words – The Future looks Great!
As you can see – the Sci-fi and Fantasy board game scene in Portugal is getting better and better – and the same can be said of its designers and publishers. It is amazing to see people taking risks with unconventional themes. Our designers are being more daring than ever and they are being supported by an ever-increasing portuguese community.
Some are already well-known abroad – others will soon be – we are sure of it!