Saturday Read: The Twist in the Merchants’ Guild

Every year in September, a new army for the Neuroshima Hex is released. Unchangingly since 2012, year after year, ever since the Steel Police expansion hit the market and Neuroshima Hex fans said: “Perfect format”. In 2023, eleven years later, another army will be released – Merchants’ Guild designed by the well-known Neuroshima fan, Joanna Kijanka.

Traditional Twist

For over a decade, successive creators of new armies for Neuroshima Hex choose one element of gameplay, tinker with it, make a slight change, and forge a completely new army, an expansion that makes players rethink strategies in the game, change their style of play, and learn new tricks.

In 2022, the Pirates used external spaces of the board, changing the entire geometry of the battle. Released in 2021, the Beasts introduced the well-known “Friendly Fire” rule from war games, attacking both the enemy and themselves. Released in 2012, the most famous of the twist expansions, Dancer, had three HQ instead of one.

This year, Joanna Kijanka, the author of the Guild, took the token drawing rules to the workshop and once again crafted something incredibly original!

Draw three, discard the weakest

Michał Oracz, the creator of Neuroshima Hex, borrowed the token drawing rule from the old, long-forgotten game Zombiaki. Draw three cards, discard the weakest, play the remaining two.

Players have been playing Neuroshima this way for years. They drew three tokens, looked at the situation on the battlefield, judged which of the tokens was least useful to them, the weakest, the most absurd, and discarded it. From the remaining two, they built their strategy for that turn.

Joanna Kijanka deemed this boring. Repetitive. In each round, we discard the weakest token, and in a fact the drawing phase is, in many cases, a no-brainer, a phase in which the player should make an interesting choice but often ends up being an autoplay – you draw three tokens and immediately know which one is the least useful. No excitement. No choice.

Let’s fix that, said Joanna.

Cash, honey

The Merchants’ Guild needs cash. It’s an army that sells, buys, hires mercenaries, and uses its budget to balance resources, striving to achieve the best combat capabilities.

During the drawing phase, when you discard one of the tokens, you’ll receive $. You receive as much as the discarded token’s Initiative.

Discard that crappy one for $1. Or discard this awesome power beast with an Initiative of three and grab $3 from it. Discard crap for crap, or discard gold for gold, huh?

Do you like having difficult choices in the drawing phase? Are there emotions now? Did Joanna Kijanka add some spices to the dish we’ve all known for years?

Budget balancing

In the Merchants’ Guild army there are mercenary tokens – tokens with their basic combat abilities, melee or ranged attacks, their initiative. But they also have their additional special abilities like Push, Movement, Net, and more.

But for those additional services, you need to pay extra, right?

By placing a mercenary token on the board, the player either discards $ or, unfortunately, covers the additional ability with a special marker. Not available. An unpaid mercenary won’t give their all on the battlefield.

Playing the Guild of Merchants is walking a thin line. In the drawing phase, you’re discarding valuable tokens for a pile of cash, only to spend that pile of cash on paying mercenaries later. It’s discarding a weak token and whining that it hardly brings any money. It’s counting money and planning expenses for the next turns.

It’s a drawing phase full of emotions and tough choices. It’s a twist that, with a simple move, added a whole lot of excitement to the gameplay. It’s another brilliant addition from the super-talented Joanna Kijanka.

I hope you will like it. And the next week, we’ll present you with the concrete tokens and discuss their abilities!

ATTENTION: The Guild of Merchants is already available for pre-sale at Essen Spiel for our fans in Europe. Pre-sale for fans in the USA will begin next week! Link:

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