Fresh off the announcement of several expansions, Fantasy Flight Games has continued to reveal new products. This time around, they're showing off two brand new board game properties: Ventura and Deadwood.
The Deadwood board game (which bears no relation to the HBO series of the same name) puts a new spin on railway building games by introducing a lawless western setting. The focus of the game seems to be on area control across a city with up to 26 possible buildings. Each player has command over a ranch full of cowboys, and must decide how to spread them out to control the most valuable properties. Is there a player already holed up in a building you'd like to claim? Engage in direct combat by instigating a shootout. Alternatively, players can extend railroad tracks to increase the value of properties they already hold.
Ventura, on the other hand, takes players to 14th century Italy where several noble families war against each other for control over land. As a war game, the twist here is that the battlefields are built through the placement of modular board tiles. Money plays a large role, as it serves not only as the game's victory points but also as the currency for purchasing additional troops. Ventura will force players to walk a tightrope as they must expand their military might only to the extent that it achieves their goals while not becoming prohibitively expensive.
From these early previews, both look to be solid games. Deadwood advertises multiple paths to victory with three different possible ways the game could end, while Ventura can be resolved through either economic or military victories. The strength of theme and quality of components is never in question with a Fantasy Flight game, but the depth of strategic gameplay is sometimes suspect. However, these two titles look to be games not easily solved, and should keep players busy trying to work out their optimal moves. With such a heavy focus on licenses properties, these games could be the fresh original ideas that Fantasy Flight needs to take a seat atop the industry.