At Gen Con 2021, Candice Harris and I usually met publishers independently, but sometimes we joined forces — and during those times we often ending up playing the game being featured in order to get a better understanding of it. I’ve already covered our 3/4 game of Azul: Queen’s Garden, and now it’s time to cover The Mirroring of Mary King, a 2022 release from Jim Felli of Devious Weasel Games.
Candice already summarized the game, but I want to take a whack at it, too. In this two-player game, one player represents the mortal Mary King and the other player represents a ghost of one of her ancestors, and the two of you are fighting over her psyche, which is represented by a tableau of 4×3 cards that looks like this at the start of play:
Each player has a deck of cards, which represents your mind, and one way to lose the game is to lose your mind before the other player does. Individual cards are a mixture of CONTROL cards that highlight 1-3 areas of the tableau and ACTION cards, some of which are unique to a player and some of which are common in each deck. Each player also has three stacks of cards next to the tableau that represent ideas, with these twelve cards being split between randomized CONTROL and ACTION cards.
The game lasts five rounds — Monday through Friday — and the number of CONTROL cards you can play decreases each day from 5 to 1, whereas the number of ideas that you can buy from the stacks increases from 1 to 5.
Sample ACTION cards, with you choosing one of the two effects
The ghost goes first, then players alternate turns. On a turn, you reveal the top card of each of your idea stacks, then in any order you wish play CONTROL cards (up to the limit), play ACTION cards in any quantity you wish, and buy ideas (up to the limit). To buy ideas, you pay by discarding cards at random from your deck, moving those cards to your memory. When you play a CONTROL card, in the vertical orientation of your choice, you flip all of the highlighted cards in the tableau to their opposite side. At the end of the day, refill your hand from your mind to five cards.
Each side has a unique special ability, and to use it, you must first flip one of the prerogative cards to the opposing side. If you can’t, then you can’t use your ability.
How the board looked on Wednesday, with some spaces being locked
Your goal each day is to create a contiguous block of cards showing your side of the mortal/ghost conflict to force the other player to discard cards from their mind to their memory. With ten mortal cards connected in the image above, the ghost would discard three cards. If you manage to flip all of the cards to your side, you win instantly. If no one wins by the end of Friday, you count the cards remaining in your mind, then add a bonus if you control more of the tableau than the opponent, with the higher score winning.
The Mirroring of Mary King had a great back-and-forth flow to it along the line of many two-player games, with the ghost needing to hit as hard as possible in the morning since the mortal would then have the chance to respond, including with the final plays of the game if no one wins instantly. You’re wary of playing as many cards as you possibly can since you must refill your hand, which means you’re burning through your mind, but ideally more choices will enable you to do more damage to the opponent along the way. Felli noted that all of the components were non final, and the current targeted release date is Gen Con 2022.
• At the Floodgate Games booth, Candice and I received an overview of Vivid Memories, a Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert design that is in transit from the manufacturer with an anticipated late November/early December 2021 release date.
In the game, 2-4 players take turns drafting memory fragments — three different, two identical, or one + a bonus action — from moment tiles and placing them in an empty hex on your “brain” board. (The bonus action allows you to “rewire” your brain by moving fragments into or out of a single hex.) If you take the last fragment from a tile, you take the tile.
After all the fragments and tiles have been drafted, players take up to four actions, whether from those printed on the board or those on moment tiles, to manipulate the fragments in their brain. When you use a moment tile, you then flip it to its scoring side and (ideally) score points for particular fragment arrangements at the end of the round. Additionally, you want to create chains of fragments that link colored spaces on the brain board as you score points for those, then fill “core memory” spaces with fragments from the chains — and if you complete core memories, which require 1-3 fragments, then you score additional points at game’s end.
Floodgate also previewed two upcoming releases, one of which is Décorum, a co-operative game from Harry Mackin, Charlie Mackin, and Drew Tenenbaum that is subtitled “A passive aggressive game of cohabitation”.
The gist of the game is that the 2-4 players are redecorating their living space, and each player has goals that they want to achieve, with everyone needing to satisfy all the goals in order to win — except that players cannot state their goals directly. Instead they must act like my mother-in-law, who responds to changes with comments like “I love it!”, “It’s fine”, or the dreaded “It’s not for me.” (Technically, my MIL would never say “It’s not for me”; she would instead say “It’s fine”, but with a tone in her voice as if she was just struck in the face with a salmon, and that tone is what registers in our brains as “It’s not for me”.)
In the game, you will place wall hangings, curios, and lamps in various rooms, with these items coming in four styles (modern, antique, retro, or unusual), or you’ll remove these items from rooms, or you’ll paint the rooms, with others undoubtedly turning up their nose at your efforts, but ideally everything will come together before you run out of time. Décorum, which is due out in January 2022, includes thirty scenarios that set up the goals for each player and undoubtedly introduce new elements over their progression.
Kites is a 2-6 player co-operative game due out in Q1/Q2 2022 in which players take turns playing cards to flip color-coded sand timers that represent the kites. If a sand timer runs out, then that kite has crashed, and you’ve lost the game. To win, you must play your way through the entire deck, which includes storm cards and other complications.
Additionally, Floodgate Games expects to have Fog of Love and the Love on Lockdown expansion — which the company acquired in mid-2021 — on the U.S. market by the end of January 2022. Sagrada: The Great Facades – Glory should be available in Q1/Q2 2022, with Sagrada Legacy debuting at Gen Con 2022.
• Atlas Games didn’t announce any new titles at Gen Con 2021, but it was running through the stock of its newest release: Dice Miner, which hit the retail market in August 2021. As sales manager Travis Winter told me, in statement that mirror others I’ve heard, a quick sell-through is a mixed blessing because you have no idea how to gauge future demand. Atlas president John Nephew mirrored that sentiment in a Sept. 29, 2021 tweet:
Wish I knew how many Dice Miner we should reprint.
— John Nephew, SPIKEVAXinated (@JohnNephew) September 29, 2021
He then elaborated, “It is more complicated than usual because of the FUBAR supply chain issues and extraordinary shipping costs. I don’t want to play today’s shipping for a 5 year supply. But I don’t know how many that would be anyway.”
Winter says that with an evergreen title like Gloom, which debuted in 2005, they know how many sell annually and use that info to ensure (as much as possible) that they never run out of stock. For Dice Miner, you’re shooting in the dark as to what people might want 6-12 months from now. Will buzz and demand grow, level out, or disappear?
Almost mined out!
As for other titles, in November 2021 Atlas Games expects to release both the card game Gloomier: A Night at Hemlock Hall — a standalone twist on Keith Baker‘s Gloom that can also serve as an expansion for that game — and the role-playing game Magical Kitties Save the Day.
• Molly Zeff from Flying Leap Games was running through story after story in non-stop demos of Wing It: The Game of Extreme Storytelling, the title that launched the company in 2017. The game has the familiar structure of a judge awarding one player each round, with players being given random objects with which they must try to resolve a situation.
Flying Leap Games had two other titles at Gen Con 2021, with 2020’s The Million Dollar Doodle splitting the creativity over multiple players. In the game, you receive two logo components, then combine them to create a logo that you then pass on to the next person. When you receive a logo, you then create a name for the company that bears that logo. Pass the creations, then create a slogan for the company you were handed, then pass once more to create a review for a company based on the slogan that you see. Everyone then votes on which company should be funded, so all players involved with the creative aspects of that company win.
The next title from FLG is Just Tell Me What To Do, with someone each round playing a dilemma card, after which everyone else plays one of the four advice cards in their hand, then explains why the dilemma would be best solved with their approach, after which the original player chooses a winner for the round.
Sample dilemmas and advice
• Made another new friend at Gen Con 2021, then the security guard yelled at me to get my hand off the alien as apparently the oils on my skin would be corrosive. Irony!