Pre-order Highlights - June 2019

With approximately 300 titles now available for pre-order on our site, customers are now spoilt for choice when shopping for upcoming games. But this mountain of new games that become available for pre-order every month can sometimes be hard to parse, especially for those who have limited time or a light wallet.

This monthly column aims to take some of the stress out of your shopping experience by showcasing a smattering of the upcoming games that have us the most excited here at Mission: Fun & Games. Have a read and see if any of them pique your interest as well…

Jaws: The Board Game

Price: $23.54
Players: 2-4
Ages: 10+
Playtime: 50 min.
Estimated Release Date: August 2019

[Jaws Theme] Duunnn dunnn... duuuunnnn duun... duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun DUNNNNNNNNN DUUNNNNNNN!

In 1975, Steven Spielberg ushered in the era of the Hollywood Blockbuster with a monster movie like no other - Jaws. In the film, the idyllic vacation spot of Amity Island, New England is beset by a series of killer shark attacks. With a local government that is only concerned with keeping the beaches open, and no help coming from the mainland, Chief Brody, shark hunter Quint, and shark researcher Hooper, must embark on a tiny fishing vessel into the surrounding waters to hunt down the beast. It’s the stuff that suspense is made of.

So how does this classic tale translate to the table? Ravensberger’s (the publisher’s) answer was to design a unique double-sided board that captures the horror and the tension of both the initial shark attacks around Amity Island during the first half of the film and the harrowing journey aboard the cramped fishing boat in the second. Jaws: The Board Game embraces an asymmetrical design philosophy that pits the shark (Fun Fact: During production, the cast and crew gave the animatronic shark the nickname “Bruce”) played by one player, against Quint, Brody, and Hooper, played by 1-3 of their friends.

In the first phase of the game, the player taking the role of Bruce the Shark attempts to gobble up the tourists swimming in the waters around Amity island, while the three heroes try and predict their movement and save as many people as they can. Are three minds better than one?

But even after this tense game of cat and mouse on Amity, the fun continues. Players flip over the board to the Orca (Quint’s ship) side, as the hunter becomes the hunted out on the open waves. But as prepared as you think you are, you’ll likely soon find yourselves saying “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” as the shark player begins to attack the Orca, taking off chunks of the dinky little fishing vessel and reducing the amount of space human characters have to move around the deck. Can you kill the shark, or will you end up in its belly?

This is the kind of slick marriage of theme and mechanics that represents board gaming at its best, replicating the tone, pacing, and suspense of the movie on the tabletop. We can’t wait to take this one for a spin.

Catlantis

Price: $26.43
Players: 2-4
Ages: 8+
Playtime: 15 min.
Estimated Release Date: August 2019

Meow. We’re gonna be honest. The thing that made us want to check out this game the most was its adorable aesthetic. Little cat mermaids, colourful jewels, and beautifully quaint art on the cards? Sign us up!

But looking into this game further reveals a title that fills an interesting niche when compared to the other recommendations in this article. In Catlantis, players vie for the top spot in the kitty kingdom, trying to become its new leader. They do this by trying to bribe other players with those shiny jewels, hoping that in doing so they will be able to amass the resources needed to win, while denying their opponents the same.

This makes for an interesting tactical puzzle. While it’s not a full-on social game like Resistance, or Coup, reading the other players and trying to find the best way forward among competing egos adds depth to what is otherwise a game that is simple to learn and - with an estimated play time of 15 minutes - fast to play. 

Because, as much as we love big, sprawling games aiming for epic experiences, a proper board games night also needs a palate cleanser now and again. And based on what we know about Catlantis so far, this just might be the perfect game to slip in between the cardboard monsters that take up the majority of the playtime on those Friday games nights. This delightful looking game has our interests piqued.

And look at the little kitty mermaids! SOOOO CUTE!

Ecos: First Continent

Price: $41.72
Players: 2-6
Ages: 14+
Playtime: 45-75 min.
Estimated Release Date: October 2019

There was a time when the Earth was young. A time of untouched forests, open savannahs, and azure oceans, all teeming with life. In Ecos: First Continent, you get to take on the role of the raw, natural forces of creation, as you use the elements to give shape to a new Earth.

Players construct a tableau of cards before themselves using element tokens drawn out of a bag. Completing a card gives a player the opportunity to shape the new landscape into their preference (and to their advantage), by adding tiles to the central board. Unused elements can be converted into energy cubes or additional cards, giving you more options in the future.

However, the thing that takes this from just a cool tile-laying game to something a little different is the fact that all players take their turns simultaneously. As the planet grows, players will score victory points that they need to win.

The interlocking mechanics, as well as the mix of chance and strategy makes Ecos: First Continent a game to watch for those of us who’ve been into tile-laying games since the old days of Carcossonne

Onimaru

Price: $50.74
Players: 1-4
Ages: 13+ 
Playtime: 45-60 min.
Estimated Release Date: October 2019

What’s better than fighting demons in ancient Japan? How about fighting demons in ancient Japan with up to three of your friends?

In Onimaru, the gates of hell have opened on the outskirts of an isolated rural village, pouring forth hordelings onto its unsuspecting inhabitants. As heroes, you must band together to defeat the Oni leaders using your special techniques and skills.

What has us excited about this game? Onimaru boasts a unique dice drafting mechanic where players must roll their dice pools and then decide - cooperatively - how to allocate, reroll, and sequence the results. You’ll need certain combinations of results to unleash your best techniques, but there never seems to be enough dice to go around. Meanwhile, the Oni will be rolling their own dice, summoning new hordelings and attacking the players. Players will need to work together and use every trick at their disposal to survive the onslaught and save the village.

If they’re looking to jump right in, new players can pick from premade characters. But after they’ve played a couple of games, Onimaru gives experienced players the opportunity to build their own characters, each with their own unique combination of skills and techniques. According to the publisher “[o]ut of the box, over 1.9 million different combinations are possible!”.

Here at Mission: Fun & Games, we’re huge on replayability, so you can see why this game has our attention. A strong theme combined with a novel implementation of dice mechanics is something that will probably have us coming back to the table night after night. 

And who doesn’t like rolling handfuls of dice?

And feel free to check out the rest of our available pre-orders here.

(Note: The prices listed in this article reflect the price of each pre-order at the time of publishing, and may be subject to change. All release dates are estimates based on publisher information.)

Alex, Editor Errant