October 31, 2021 – Wayfarers, Scholars and Inventors of the South Tigris announced as next Garphill Games trilogy. Meaning it focuses on the Tigris River. Designers Shem Phillips and Sam Macdonald announced the new lineup, timeline and some gameplay details via a live stream today.
Wayfarers of the South Tigris will release in 2022 (March-ish maybe)
Scholars of the South Tigris will release in 2023
Inventors of the South Tigris will release in 2024
All three games, as well as their expansions, are planned for release via a Kickstarter launch. They noted that they tried to get away from that, but feel the hype really helps everyone make sure they don’t miss the release. Something that catches people’s eyes. It is a great marketing tool and people like looking at the profiles to decide if they want to back. It still makes sense as a business for now. And they will keep doing special promos as reasons for people to participate.
One of the top artists working in board games today, The Mico (Mihajlo Dimitrievski) is returning. He designed all the covers (Inventors is Shem’s favorite) and is at least on board to do the art for all the games. They hope he is part of the next “East” (Byzantine area) series as well.
Timings and content strategies will follow along the lines of the past trilogies, while also having some improvements based on things they have learned along the way (like having dice that work for those with color blindness). In case you are not familiar, the past two trilogies were THE NORTH SEA (Shipwrights, Raiders and Explorers) followed by THE WEST KINGDOMS (Architects, Paladins and Viscounts). Bonus, they confirmed that characters from past games will in fact be showing up in this game.
All games will have solo modes. They will most likely use a kind of rondel mechanism for how the AI focuses. There may be a little asymmetry in starting powers but not really in gameplay because of different engine building tracks. There will all be 60 – 90 minutes for 1 – 4 players. There are going to be doing lots of playtesting on Tabletop Simulator, so if you are interested they recommend you join their Discord server.
The box size will most likely change since the last trilogies. This is because there is a shipping crisis and paper shortage, Renegade has requested a larger box to justify the larger price point. That being said, these are planned to be the size of the West Kingdom collector’s box.
These past games were huge hits, so this announcement was hugely anticipated. The hour-long stream got up to just under 300 people at its peak. You can watch the full stream via this video, but you can also scroll below to get a snapshot of what we know about each game so far.
Wayfarers of the South Tigris
This is the second game they designed for the trilogy. They decided to start with this one because it is a little more approachable and less of a brain burner than Scholars. In each trilogy, they try to use an element that ties all the games together, but then each one that does it in a unique way. So for this series, that element is that they want to use dice in different ways that are unique and interesting.
For Wayfarers, it is kind of dice placement but you are using them in a different way. You are only doing dice placement on your own player board. Think Paladins where you are only doing this in your own area. But what you have is this upgrade board with six columns, one for each pip value on a standard D6 die.
What you are doing is equipping these different instruments and vehicles (like camels, ships and telescopes) onto the pips. So when you get those values of dice, they can do different things. You might put your telescope under value “1” which means all your “1” rolls come equipped with that piece of equipment so they can do astronomy-type actions. So players have a lot of agency how they want to use their dice.
There is a lot of randomness, but they have added a lot of mitigation to that randomness. There are little things you can put on your player board like you can increase your pip values so you can start using your “2” rolls as “1” rolls and then you can load up your “1” rolls with all sorts of engine building things.
As well as the dice placement, there is also worker placement. On your turn you are going to place a die or place a worker. Then the workers are going to go out into shared spots. Instead of sitting on locations, they are going to sit on cards so it is this shared resource. You don’t have your colored workers, you just have generic workers that anyone can gather. Then if you collect one of those cards, that will be yours and you might end up with most of the workers in the game (another resource you have to manage).
One of the big things they are trying to push in this trilogy (besides dice) is more player interaction. Shem and Sam like how interaction is done in games like brass, where there is more shared space that players interact on. So one other key ideas for the South trilogy is this idea of “influence”. This is something you can put in places, mainly cards, that kind of reserves it for you but if someone else wants it, they have to pay you for it.
You are collecting these cards into your tableau to build this panorama of landscape and skyspace above. Kind of a Santa Monica vibe, with the cards spreading out by size, but there are no workers moving around. So it should be this beautiful collection of what you have seen and discovered.
This is set in Baghdad centered around the Abbasids. They were really interested in sciences and research, and just expanding their knowledge. Their caliph, or leader, the king at the time, he wanted to know the circumference of the Earth. They knew the globe was a sphere and knew there was 360 degrees in a sphere, so they sent out these explorers (wayfarers) traveling one degree in a direction (using the stars, sun, etc) to navigate to measure the globe. With that, they knew they could figure out the circumference of the globe. This expands on that theme that you are going to be seeing things along this journey and navigating the night sky.
They liked that it was this Euro game set in the 800s, historic theme, but you had all this artwork of space as well. Just this interesting contrast of medieval areas and then the stars and the planets.
This has a similar complexity to Viscounts. There are a lot of different paths, but once you know how they work, it runs quite smoothly and turns don’t run very long. Not as heavy as Paladins in terms of AP.
There will be over 130 cards in this game and all of them are unique.
Scholars of the South Tigris
This is the first game they designed for the trilogy and the one that sparked the theme. At this time Sam went out and bought a bunch of books to read up on this particular time period.
This is set during “The Translation Movement” where the caliph of the time sent out all these scholars to receive these scrolls and manuscripts from China, India, Greece and everywhere else to bring back all this wisdom and knowledge to the “House of Wisdom” so they could be translated back into Arabic. This would allow them to learn and then share their knowledge with the rest of the world.
This was a very fascinating event through all of history. The caliph really wanted to know about Greek philosophy, Indian mathematics, Chinese culture and all these different things. They sent out all these emissaries and built this “House of Wisdom” which was basically a massive library/university where all these scholars would gather. It was a very communal and global thing. It was very inclusive, people of all skin colors and languages were welcome. Unfortunately, the Mongols eventually burnt it down a few hundred years later. This felt like such an important event and a great thing to build the overall theme around.
What is happening mechanically are two different things. First, this is a dice bag builder. You are collecting different dice you are trying to add to your bag while you get rid of your weaker dice, using the colors of your dice to fuel your actions. Second, there is scroll translating. You gather these things and bring them back then either you or someone else is going to be translating them. You can hire translators to work for you or you can also use someone else’s translators.
How this works is that you are trying to get everything to arabic. It might be a Greek scroll and you have someone who speaks Greek and Syriac, but you need to get it into Arabic so you then might need to use a different translator to get it from Syriac into Arabic. So you are forging these interesting paths through all the available translators that are out and available. You can see the gaps and go hire the people that others are going to want to use, or you can just hire your own people and translate your own scrolls.
You can choose where you want to jump in – delivering, translating, research and hiring. It is a super sandbox-y game that is really crunchy and fun. It is a little like Paladins but you have the extra bag building component. It is definitely a heavier game.
This was the second game for two reasons – it is harder with more depth than the first and chronologically it happened a bit after the wayfarers. This is about the same game length as Wayfarers (which is shorter than Paladins after receiving feedback that is long) but is definitely more exhausting.
Inventors of the South Tigris
This game has not been designed yet. They have gone through 2 or 3 different prototypes, testing different ideas here and there. The biggest challenge is that most games are feeling abstract and not that meaty South Tigris game they want.
They just recently came into something they are liking, but anything right now could change completely over the coming years. They wanted to lock in the name and that they knew what they were making. They have this historic timeline and this was the perfect thing that fit in after the wayfarers and the scholars.
They had thought about Doctors, because there were so many with different trades. And they went into more of combat, but that didn’t feel right because they did so much of that with the Vikings in the West. But the idea of inventors felt so right. There were these three brothers in Baghdad in 850 AD that came up with these 1001 interesting devices and they published them in a book and this was before modern technology and electricity. That felt so spot on to what they were trying to do.
Currently (subject to change) it is a dice drafting, rondel game. They were thinking about how else they could use dice and this felt like a good option. There are three different colors of dice. Each turn you draft a die and then do a few things with that die. The idea, thematically, is that you are building these little devices to then demonstrate and hopefully have published in the house of wisdom. They still have the “influence” system to work on and make it that 60 – 90 minute euro style game for 1 – 4 players like the others.