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BoardGameGeek News

To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

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Links: Making a Fortune While Going Broke, Crowdfunding as Art, and the 2016 Dice Tower Award Nominees

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• The old joke goes: How do you make a small fortune in the game industry? Start with a large fortune, then try to publish a game. Note that this same joke is told about the wine industry, real estate, book publishing, football clubs, and any number of other businesses in which people can burn through piles of money with little to show for it, which includes every business ever — but despite the joke's chestnutty woodiness, it still contains a nugget of truth, especially when you sabotage yourself on your way to that large fortune.

On Geek & Sundry, Ben Riggs catalogs the fortunes of Chaosium Inc., which collected more than a half-million dollars on a Kickstarter project for the seventh edition of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game — only to discover after the fact that the very success of that KS would lead to a disastrous outcome for the company. After all, when you lose money on each customer, runaway success only heightens those losses.

The problems started with an earlier KS for a new edition of the Call of Cthulhu campaign Horror on the Orient Express, which brought in ten times the $20k goal that Chaosium had established, but without covering the costs required to fulfill what was promised to backers. From the article: "The previous management only charged international backers $20 to ship a ten pound game. The actual cost of shipping was vastly higher, sometimes as much as $150 for backers in Japan. [Current Chaosium president Rick] Meints said that this Kickstarter alone likely lost Chaosium $170,000." What's more:

Quote:
The Call of Cthulhu Kickstarter compounded these problems...

The magnitude of the error can be seen in a simple glance at the shipping. At the "Nictitating Nyarlathotep" level of pledge, backers would end up having eight books shipped to them. International backers had to pay a total of $355 for all their rewards plus shipping, which sounds like a lot, until you consider that's only $15 more than customers in the continental US were paying. The idea that shipping eight books to Japan would cost a mere $15 more is a madness not even Lovecraft could have conceived.

As described in the article, in June 2015 Chaosium founder Greg Stafford and Call of Cthulhu creator Sandy Petersen took over from the former owners and preceded to shell out a bunch of their own money in order to make things right.

Bottom line: If you plan to run a crowdfunding campaign, do your homework, figure out what shipping will cost you, and account for that cost in what you charge. Don't promise the moon and a ham sandwich when you've budgeted solely for the sandwich.

• For another perspective on crowdfunding, Byron Collins of Collins Epic Wargames invites you to consider "4 Reasons Why Every Kickstarter Project Is a Work of Art". To do this, Collins applies four statements about art to the crowdfunding projects themselves — that is, the presentation of the project, not the product itself. The statements in question:

—Art ignites emotion.
—"Good" art is well thought out.
—Any piece of art has a limited time to make an impression.
—Every piece of art invites judgment.

Quote:
I've visited a lot of big name galleries — most recently The Met and The Guggenheim in NYC — and seen countless works of art by artists across many centuries in many different styles. But, I can honestly say I probably spent no more than 1 minute on each piece of art, if that... Some of these artists spent years creating whatever you're looking at for 1 minute.

The same is true with any Kickstarter project. Someone who clicks a link to your project page has no idea how much time went into that presentation, that work of art, but, they know within 30 seconds if they are interested enough to read more or watch your video.

• The Dice Tower has announced the nominees for its eponymous Dice Tower Gaming Awards in fourteen categories, including best game from a new designer, best artwork, best game reprint, best game theming, and best small publisher. Each category has five nominees, as chosen by a jury of Dice Tower staff and prominent bloggers and reviewers, except for the "game of the year" category, which features these ten nominees: 7 Wonders: Duel, Blood Rage, Codenames, Elysium, The Gallerist, Mysterium, Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, Roll for the Galaxy, T.I.M.E Stories, and The Voyages of Marco Polo. The winners will be announced at the Dice Tower Convention in July 2016.

• In The New Yorker, Siobhan Roberts profiles "The Dice You Never Knew You Needed", i.e., the d120, which was created by Robert Fathauer and Henry Segerman of The Dice Lab and which debuted at the 2016 Gathering for Gardner. An excerpt: "The d120 is a polyhedron, more specifically a disdyakis triacontahedron, a geometric creature first described by the French-Belgian mathematician Eugène Catalan in 1865..." Ignoring the technical name, the d120 looks like a dodecahedron that has had each face replaced with an object created by ten skinny triangles that meet at a single point. A longer excerpt from The New Yorker article:

Quote:
The die's most winning property lies in its being numerically balanced: the face numbers are spread out evenly, such that any two opposing sides sum to a hundred and twenty-one. Each of the die's sixty-two corners boasts equanimity, too. (A vertex at which ten triangles meet, for instance, sums to six hundred and five, which is ten times the average of all the numbers on the die.) All this fine-tuning was courtesy of Robert Bosch, a professor at Oberlin College who uses mathematical optimization techniques to create art. Bosch spent nearly two months running various accelerated brute-force computations (a process called integer programming), trying to get everything in sync. He almost abandoned two especially tricky vertices, which couldn't be made to coöperate, but past his deadline he made one last-ditch effort. He coded a script, let the program run, and came back a few hours later to discover that his computer had stopped. "It had either crashed or found a perfect solution," Bosch said. Lucky day, it was the latter. "It was a great feeling. And it was kind of ridiculous how good a feeling it was, because it's not practical. It's just a cool object, a beautiful object. I really love it, but it's not Earth-changing."


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Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:00 pm
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Stonemaier Games Founds a Village with Charterstone

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For the most part, legacy games have presented players with extreme situations — global warfare, global pandemics, the dawning of civilization, a shortage of furry costumes — but designer Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games is taking a different approach with a legacy design of his own, one that isn't so doomy and gloomy.

In Charterstone — which carries a 20-60 playing time for 1-6 players — players compete to populate a village, a village that starts off with almost nothing, but which becomes larger, with more options available, in subsequent games. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King in the increasingly overpopulated capital city, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. For those who heed the call, the king has sent thousands of scouts into the wilderness to pick the best areas and claim each one with an iconic Charterstone. It is to one such new village that you arrive with your friends and competitors, each of you hoping to create the greatest legacy for your guild.

In Charterstone, a competitive legacy village-building game, you construct buildings and populate a village shared by all players and their workers. Buildings are permanently added to the game board and become action spaces for any player to use both in the current game and during subsequent playings. Thus, you start off with simple choices and few workers in the first couple of games, but soon you have a bustling village with dozens of possible actions.

Before each game, one advancement will be revealed, unlocking a new rule, card type, or component for all subsequent games. These advancements are grouped into chronological eras but are randomized within each era, creating a unique storyline for your copy of Charterstone. Random events within each era require players to make group decisions that will later haunt or help the village.

A game of Charterstone ends when players have placed all of their workers, at which point end-game victory points (VP) are scored. The player with the most VPs wins.

A copy of Charterstone will net players a total of 24 games within a campaign, though the village you create remains functional for subsequent plays.

Stegmaier notes that Charterstone is still under development (so perhaps that gloom will show up after all), but the game will likely have a preorder or Kickstarter campaign before the end of 2016 for release in 2017.

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Fri Apr 29, 2016 4:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Agricola Unwrapped, From Stars to Heroes, and a Double Dose of Adventure Time

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• I'm late to the party on this announcement, but White Wizard Games plans to launch a Kickstarter project "soon" for Hero Realms, a fantasy-themed deck-building game that's based on their own Star Realms game from Darwin Kastle and Rob Dougherty. Hero Realms will have character-specific expansion packs and a way to play against the game in campaign mode in order to level up your character.

Adventure Time Card Wars: Doubles Tournament, due out June 2016 from Cryptozoic Entertainment, is a team version of Adventure Time Card Wars as Jake and Charlie face off against Grand Prix and Moniker with new decks and special Teamwork cards that can give you and your partner a benefit turn after turn.

• Designer MJE Hendriks, known for Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy, is founding his own publishing house. While he's commissioned artwork for his initial release, he hasn't yet revealed details about it, mostly because he's still trying to nail down what he should name the publishing house. He invites your suggestions here.

• After tweeting the message below, designer Antoine Bauza noted later that Takenokids will be a standalone game for young players, not a second expansion for Takenoko. Adorable tiny pandas incoming!


• UK publisher Backspindle Games is printing a new multilingual version of Leonard Boyd and David Brashaw's Codinca to debut at the UK Games Expo in June 2016, with new publishing partner Ninja Division picking up the titles for U.S. distribution.

Agricola fanboi Tony Boydell received an advance production copy of Mayfair Games' new version of Uwe Rosenberg's industry-changing game design courtesy of artist Klemens Franz, with whom Boydell has worked on his own Snowdonia, and Boydell promptly posted many, many pictures of this new version of Agricola on his BGG blog.

Clearly this version will need a separate listing in the database after all, despite it being the same game at heart. Frustrating! We still need to figure out a way to list such new editions in a separate but equal way, despite history showing that "separate but equal" is a terrible policy that's unworkable in the long run. Its use probably isn't comparable to a situation in which you're cataloguing items in a database, but the phrase came to mind anyway. Okay, I should probably stop now.


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Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:30 am
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New Game Round-up: Scott Almes Prepares Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, and Strawberry Studio Offers Three Wishes

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Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games have created recurrent tiny, epic waves in the game industry that swell higher and higher each year, but the newest project by this pair fits only one of those adjectives. Here's an overview of Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, a 4X fantasy game that will head to Kickstarter in January 2017 ahead of a planned 2017 release date:

Quote:
Heroes of Land, Air & Sea is a 4X-style board game with miniatures that tells the epic tale of orcs vs. humans, dwarves vs. elves, battling kingdoms, and the individuals who turn the tides of war.

Players control one of these classic factions, competing to expand their kingdom into new territory. Even the greatest kingdoms begin as small townships, therefore players begin with only a basic town hall, a couple of peons, and a single warrior. From there, players must explore the territory around them, build up their work force, fortify their army, and develop their kingdom — all through careful action selection, exploitation, war, and resource management.

As players reach milestones in the development of their kingdom, they gain access to many advantages. Peons become warriors, warriors become powerful heroes, and town halls eventually become castles. Players gain access to water, and even air, vessels and creatures. Boarding these vessels and creatures with your units allows for faster travel across the vast game board and for positioning armies for powerful attacks.

War in Heroes of Land, Air & Sea features a cost/reward system carefully detailed on tactics cards from which players must secretly choose. The availability of these tactics cards depends on the units participating in the war. It is here that players wage their wits and legacy in an attempt to exterminate one another. For as we all know, "history is written by the victors".

Heroes of Land, Air & Sea also boasts two economic systems, one being the risky acquisition and careful management of the resources (food, ore and mana), while the other is a twist on worker placement that requires the leveraging of peons to construct buildings, peons that could otherwise be exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating! Finding this balance is crucial to victory!


Promotional artwork


Terra Nova Games has picked up Hisashi Hayashi's Trick of the Rails — an 18XX-like card game in which players collect stock certificates of railway companies and expand their networks to increase their value — for release on the U.S. market with new art and graphic design.

Strawberry Studio is a new publishing brand for NSKN Games that will release microgames suitable for families and friends, and its release in August 2016 is Chris Castagnetto's 3 Wishes, a 3-5 minute card game in which players need to balance their wishes — by peaking at wish cards and swapping cards with opponents or the table — between super powers, benefits for the world, and selfish gifts in order for the genie to dub you the winner. No actual wishes will be fulfilled.

• The second title coming from Strawberry Studio is Crazy 5 from Dennis Kirps and Christian Kruchten, with this being a dice-rolling game in which you first try to collect more than five pips on three dice before rolling other dice to match the difference between five and your sum. If you can't break the five threshold, however, an opponent can possibly strip you of points depending on how well they roll.

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Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:04 pm
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New Game Round-up: Rise from Amino Acids in Bios: Genesis, Flick Others to Death in Catacombs and Castles, & Prepare to Save Andor

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Phil Eklund's Bios: Genesis from Sierra Madre Games has been listed in the BGG database since the start of 2012, but only now does the game have a release date attached to it — October 2016 — along with a final cover that succinctly summarizes the nature of gameplay and drives the point home with the "Molecular Arms Race" tagline. Here's an overview:

Quote:
One to four players start as organic compounds shortly after Earth's formation, represented by up to three Biont tokens. The Amino Acids command Metabolism, the lipids create cells, the pigments control energy absorption and storage, and the nucleic acids control templated replication. Their goal is a double origin of life: first as Autocatalytic Life (a metabolic cycle reproducing, yet not replicating, its own constituents), and the second as Darwinian Life (an Organism using a template to replicate in an RNA world). Players can play cooperative, competitive, or solitaire.

Notes designer Phil Eklund, "This subject is the most difficult and ambitious I have ever attempted, and it has taken many years to get it to work right." With Bios: Genesis, Bios: Megafauna, and Origins: How We Became Human, Eklund takes players through almost the whole breadth and scope of life on Earth.

• Joshua Githens from Czech Games Edition posted an image of the Codenames: Pictures prototype on his Facebook feed recently, and with his permission I present it here. Adds Githens, "I'll have it on the ITTD steam this Saturday", i.e., Saturday, April 30, 2016, which is International TableTop Day.


Non-final prototype


• Canadian publisher Elzra Corp. plans to run a Kickstarter in 2016 for Catacombs and Castles, a standalone game in the Catacombs universe that pits two teams of heroes against one another. The expansion also serves as an expansion for the third edition of Catacombs thanks to the new game board included.

• Clever or crazy? In May 2016, Steve Jackson Games will release Munchkin: Sketch Edition, a art-free special version of the Munchkin base game that allows you to draw your own munchkins on the cards and make the game look exactly like you want, depending on your artistic abilities, of course...

Level 99 Games reports that Millennium Blades is sold out at the publisher level. Says designer/publisher D. Brad Talton, Jr., "We do not have immediate plans for a reprint, so players who want to guarantee their copy of the game should seek it out as soon as possible." Gas on the fire, Brad, gas on the fire!

KOSMOS has released a teaser trailer for Die Legenden von Andor: Die letzte Hoffnung, part three of Michael Menzel's Legends of Andor, which is due out in Q4 2016. Here's a short description from the publisher:

Quote:
On returning from the far north, the heroes find a devastated Andor. Conquered by the Krahder from the south and their skeleton army, many Andori were enslaved and abducted by them. The heroes are the last hope for the kingdom.

Die Legenden von Andor: Die letzte Hoffnung, the last large expansion for Legends of Andor, includes a new map of the southern regions of Andor, new legends, and more.

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Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:07 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Ancient Games with Modern Funding

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• For star power in a crowdfunded game this week, let's start with Tak, an abstract strategy game that novelist Patrick Rothfuss introduced as an ancient design in the book The Wise Man's Fear and which James Ernest of Cheapass Games has now transformed into an actual "ancient" game — that is, a game that feels like it could have been around forever given that you use three simple types of pieces on a board that measures anywhere from 3x3 to 8x8 with the goal of creating a path that connects opposite edges of the board. I'm reminded of Daniel Solis' Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge from 2011 and suitably impressed that such things can still be created. (KS link)

• I suppose an argument could have been made for placing Steamforged Games' Dark Souls: The Board Game in the top spot given that it is a miniatures game based on the extremely popular Dark Souls videogame series that has collected nearly $2 million in funding within a couple of days, but we don't have a flat front cover image of the game in the database, so no can do. I hope that blow to their crowdfunding efforts won't be too harsh. Also, I keep thinking the name is Dead Souls and am curious to see how they've adapted the Nikolai Gogol novel. That college education is only getting in my way at this point... (KS link)

• Another game that actually is novel-based and blowing up on KS is The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game from Eric B. Vogel and Evil Hat Productions. We met with Vogel at the GAMA Trade Show in March 2016 and recorded this overview of what the game is like, what you might expect from the design in the future, and how many times Vogel read the books to pull out everything that he wanted from them. (KS link)




• Todd Sanders' Aether Captains from MAGE Company is back on KS for another flight, and this time the steampunky sky pirate battle game has more than doubled its slightly lowered goal. When at first you don't succeed, fly, fly again. (KS link)

• If steampunk isn't your thing, you can step up to 20th century dieselpunk in André Schillo's Xibalba from Voodoo Games and raid opponents in a fight for resources in order to raid an ark from an intergalactic civilization. At least I think that's what you're doing — whatever it is, though, you'll have fantastic hair and cleavage when doing it. (KS link)

• Diesel-powered fists are also on display in Battle for Sularia: Blood, Profit, and Glory, an expansion for the BoS base game from Jesse Bergman, John Kimmel, and Punch-It Entertainment that adds new mercenary allies to the game with three new ability keywords that are (despite the promise of the title) not blood, profit, and glory. (KS link)

• Designer Stefan Risthaus of OSTIA Spiele is back with another minigame along the lines of 2015's Visby. In Tallinn, named after the Estonian capital, each player has the same set of ten cards, with each card having two actions on it. All players simultaneously reveal a card — with their thumb on the half of the card they want to use — then they stack it on the other cards they've played, with scoring occurring both between rounds and at the end of the game. (Spieleschmiede link)

Exposed from designers Brian Henk and Clayton Skancke and publisher Overworld Games has you trying to steal wallets from passengers aboard a cruise ship while not being revealed as a thief in the process. (KS link)

• Draft card, create inventions, and win bonus points for alliteration in David J. Clarke's Great Scott! from Sinister Fish Games. All approve alliteration! (KS link)

• The cover of Bucks, Bullets and Flowers — a game from Cristian Mungherli and Apokalypse Inc in which you use mobsters to try to rule 1920s Chicago — is glorious, but apparently other people don't think it's $57K worth of glorious. (KS link)




• At the halfway point in this long c.f. post, we'll hit the ancient world once again with Eliot Hochberg's ILIOS: The Battle of Troy, which was released by Playford Games in 2015 as part of the Ancient Conflict Treasure Chest. In this game, players take turns placing tiles with arrows onto a board that measures anywhere from 4x4 to 10x10. You claim ownership of the tiles being pointed at by your newly placed tile, and if you surround or fence off tiles, you claim the tiles themselves as points. (KS link)

• War of a very different sort takes place in Warfighter: The WWII Tactical Combat Card Game from Dan Verssen and his DVG, with 1-6 players working together to complete World War II squad-level combat missions. (KS link)

• Stepping back even further in time we come to Hold the Line: The American Revolution, a project from Worthington Games and PSC Games that combines two prior Worthington games — Clash for a Continent and Hold the Line, both from Matt Burchfield, Grant Wylie, and Mike Wylie — along with eighteen new scenarios, two hundred miniatures, and a separate expansion for The French & Indian War. (KS link)

Stonemaier Games is avoiding the c.f. route for its Token Treasury, a three-set collection of fancy resin and metal tokens that can replace the prosaic wood and cardboard bits in the games on your shelves. Instead the publisher is taking money from people directly on the basis that it's producing a minimum of 1,500 sets no matter what and the contents of those sets won't change no matter how many people back it. Stonemaier is also reproducing the metal coins from Viticulture/Tuscany and Scythe should the metallic bling be more of your thing. (Stonemaier Games link)

• The Cthulhu portion of this crowdfunding post comes to you courtesy of Miskatonic School for Boys, a reverse deduction game from Garrett Herdter and Fun to 11 in which players are fifth dimensional beasts who know what creature everyone else is possessing but not who they're possessing. Maybe they're born with it, maybe it's Miskatonic. (KS link)

• Andy Breckman's Shit Happens — available with or without a G-rated decoy cover — from AdMagic Games plays like a filth-covered Timeline with you trying to place events in your row of miserable events based on how you think an event ranks on the 1-100 Misery Index. How does a lost pet compare to a ketchup bottle being stick in your butt? Now you finally answer this conundrum that has puzzled philosophers for centuries. (KS link)

• Bijhan Valibeigi's Time Wars: Supreme Command bills itself as the world's first "deck stacking" game as players place each discarded or used card on the bottom of someone's deck, thereby trying to set up (or foil) combinations that allow players to set up and collapse the Timeline in a way that's most favorable to them. (KS link)

• Let's end where we began this week, with a minimalist abstract strategy game that seems like it could have been designed at any point in the past thousand years. King's Valley, from Mitsuo Yamamoto and his own Logy Games, presents players with five pieces each on a 5x5 board, with each piece moving as far as it can in any direction, stopping only when it hits another piece or the edges of the playing area. Your goal is to land your king piece in the central square before your opponent does this first. As with Yamamoto's earlier KS project for e-SOLO-e, many designs of board and pieces are available because he apparently creates everything by hand. (KS link)




Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:17 pm
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Links: Tabletop Season 4, Gaming in the Bookstore, and More Hasbro-Inspired Crowdfunding

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• Wil Wheaton has announced the game line-up for the fourth season of Tabletop, an online series showing games being played by Wheaton and others. The titles being featured include Eldritch Horror, Codenames, Mysterium, Flash Point, Star Realms, Champions of Midgard, Steam Park, and Star Trek: Five-Year Mission. I'd expect a bit of role-playing in that last one, assuming they use The Next Generation role cards, which seems like a must. Filming begins before the end of April, and Wheaton expects to start publishing episodes in June or July 2016.

• As I noted in March 2016, U.S. bookstore chain Barnes & Noble held "Casual Game Gatherings" in 56 B&N stores each Thursday night during March 2016 to introduce one "light strategy game" to newcomers and established gamers. Now B&N has announced that it will hold a "Tabletop Gaming Meet Up" at all 640 of its stores in the U.S. on Saturday, April 30, starting at 4 p.m., with these events featuring the following five games: Machi Koro, Munchkin, Qwirkle, Superfight, and Ticket to Ride. (April 30 is International TableTop Day, so many brick and mortar game stores will be holding their own events that same day.)

The press release notes that "Participants will have the chance to play against each other to win prizes, including a Machi Koro Diamine Promo Card Pack, a Qwirkle Brainteaser Book, Superfight Promo Card Sets, and more. Customers should contact their local store to find out the full list of prizes available." A further excerpt from the press release:

Quote:
"Seeing our customers respond so positively to the game gatherings we hosted at select stores was not only rewarding, but it crystalized what we believed all along: customers in local communities are looking for an alternative evening out. For so many, Barnes & Noble is already a place to meet up, socialize and spend quality time together. Our Tabletop Gaming Meet Up is designed to do all that and more," said Kathleen Campisano, Vice President, Toys & Games at Barnes & Noble. "We will feature a unique array of games that celebrate collaboration, encourage strategic thinking and even provide a little healthy competition."

"The tabletop gaming industry has always had a wide appeal to Americans as a fun, engaging pastime, but we see Barnes & Noble's entry into events and gatherings as a game changer," said Andrew Lupp of the gaming industry organization, PSI. "Few retailers can offer a store environment that's already tailor-made for gaming. Barnes & Noble has always had a fantastically curated selection of games. Now they're creating the social experience and building new communities to bring these games to many more gamers around the country."

For those who don't know, PSI helps game "manufacturers to optimize their presence in the mass market, book trade, and specialty retail channels", including Barnes & Noble.

• In 2015, Z-Man Games hosted multiple "Pandemic Survival" events that culminated in a World Championship at Spiel 2015. For 2016, the publisher has helped organize Pandemic Survival tournaments in 25 countries — with these tournaments being listed on the Z-Man events page — with the 2016 Pandemic Survival World Championship to be held in Barcelona, Spain in November 2016. The winning team can take a trip to any city that appears on the Pandemic board. For those not in the know, here's an overview of Pandemic Survival:

Quote:
Pandemic Survival is an extreme version of Pandemic in which teams of two players compete simultaneously with the same objective in mind: Be the first team to find all four cures or be the sole survivor at the end of the game. During this unique experience, each team faces the same starting situation: identical roles, infected cities, and the same player cards in the same order. Only your strategic choices will differentiate you and prove to be a winning or losing strategy! 12 teams maximum.

• While Hasbro reported strong sales and earnings for Q1 2016 — $831.2 million in revenues (up 16% from 2015) and $48.8 million in earnings (up 83% from 2015) — the games category stayed the course from the previous year. (HT: Dan Bray) From Seeking Alpha:

Quote:
Games category revenues declined 2% for the quarter to $231.1 million. Pie Face continued to be a strong contributor to growth, along with growth in Yahtzee and Duel Masters. Growth in these brands was more than offset by declines in other gaming brands for the quarter. The Games category was flat absent the impact of foreign exchange.

• Speaking of Hasbro, the company has launched its second crowdfunding-based game design competition, following on its first such campaign in 2015 which will lead to the publication of The Mr Toast Game in 2016 (as detailed here). This time Hasbro is searching for "face-to-face games" (as opposed to face-to-butt games?), and it's accepting submissions through the Hasbro Gaming Lab website from designers in the U.S., the UK, Canada, France and Germany through May 15, 2016.

• Gift site Vat19 has posted the following educative missive, which prompts the question: Which other games might be enhanced by a showering of devil's blood?

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Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:00 pm
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Widow's Walk Brings More Betrayal to the House on the Hill

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Avalon Hill delivered a shock to many gamers on April 20, 2016 by announcing Widow's Walk, a huge expansion for Bruce Glassco's Betrayal at House on the Hill that will hit stores on October 14, 2016. Here's an overview of the expansion from the publisher:

Quote:
The house on the hill has a wicked reputation. Those who dare to darken its door often leave steeped in madness and despair — if they leave at all.

Now the horror reaches new heights with Widow's Walk, the first-ever expansion for the critically acclaimed board game Betrayal at House on the Hill. The house is expanded with the addition of twenty new rooms, including the roof, a previously unexplored floor. Also in its halls you will find new monsters, items, omens, events, and fifty brand-new haunts, penned by lead developer Mike Selinker's all-star cast of contributors from the world of gaming and entertainment. In Widow's Walk, terror and panic are taken to a whole new level.

Enter if you dare. Exit if you can...

Get it? Widow's Walk includes a roof for the house and "terror and panic are taken to a whole new level"? Good multi-level wordplay there; perhaps Selinker wrote that text himself...

The Avalon Hill announcement lists more than forty people who are credited with contributing to the haunts included in Widow's Walk, and the list includes names that you'd expect to see from the base game (Glassco, Selinker, Rob Daviau), names of other board and card game designers (e.g., Paul Peterson, Justin Gary, Liz Spain, Christopher Badell, Jonathan Gilmour, Elisa Teague), and names that you probably wouldn't have expected (e.g., Adventure Time's Pendleton Ward, Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian, Cards Against Humanity's Max Temkin, Depression Quest's Zoë Quinn, The Doubleclicks' Angela Webber).

As for the compatibility of Widow's Walk with the existing editions of Betrayal at House on the Hill — both the original from 2004 and the 2010 second edition — Michael Robles, Community Manager at developer Lone Shark Games, has noted on Reddit that the expansion "is compatible with all editions".
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Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: A Gathering of Games, Cathala's Archipelago, and Old Favorites in New Boxes

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• I've already posted about a few of the prototypes that were played at The Gathering of Friends convention held in mid-April 2016: Codenames Pictures (here), a Quadropolis mini-expansion (here), and Dark Moon: Shadow Corporation (here).

Sean Jacquemain of The Daily Worker Placement has covered a handful of his favorite prototypes from the Gathering, including a 7 Wonders: Duel expansion that "deals with ancient Gods and how you can win their favour", Bézier Games' Colony (which I previewed in March 2016), Pretzel Games' Junk Art (which will debut at Gen Con 2016 after a sneak peek at Origins), Adrenaline (a first-person shooter from Czech Games Edition that was included in my 2015 Gathering round-up, and Bruno Cathala's Yamataï.

This last game — Yamataï, which possibly isn't the final title — is tentatively a 2017 release from Days of Wonder, something Cathala relayed to me when I had the chance to play the prototype at Gen Con 2015. (Yes, Cathala and Days of Wonder both spend a lot of time honing and testing and retesting!) Here's a short description from Jacquemain:

Quote:
Yamataï has players exploring an archipelago, picking up resources, and constructing buildings and temples.

Actions are determined by selecting tiles that come with a supply of boats and a special ability and they determine your turn order for the next round. The stronger the tile you select, the later you'll go in turn order. As you sail throughout the islands, you must decide between picking up resources or constructing buildings. Resources can help you in a number of different ways, but as you take them you free up space for other players to lay claim to the land.

You also have the ability to hire characters with unique powers associated with them. Some are only worth points, but others will give you an advantage during play.

This write-up of Yamataï on a French gamer's blog includes more pics of the prototype, with the pics showing the beginning and ending of a game. The cards at the bottom of the game board are for selecting turn order and determining your action for the round, the cards are top are the characters you can hire, and the cards at right are the buildings that can be constructed to any player.

This design already felt pretty polished at Gen Con 2015 — although the wheels did come off at one point as we couldn't seem to end the game — so I'm curious to see what's changed in the months since then.

• Designer Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games has confirmed that a rethemed edition of Prêt-à-Porter is due out in 2017.

• Along the same lines, Thomas Ewert — co-designer of Container along with Franz-Benno Delonge — has posted an update on the status of the game: "The contract for Container has been expired for several years already, and all rights have reverted back to their respective designers/heirs. We are discussing the possibility of a reprint of the game with a new publisher and will keep you all informed if there is any news."

• On April 7, 2016, I mentioned a couple of items that Stronghold Games had teased when announcing its demo program: Kraftwagen: V6 Edition and The Fog of War. Now Stronghold has teased a few more items: an upgrade kit for the first edition of Stronghold by Ignacy Trzewiczek (him again!), as well as an Undead expansion for the second edition of Stronghold, which Portal Games and Stronghold jointly released at Spiel 2015 and in 2016. New editions for all!
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Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Shooting Zombies on Route 666, and Bringing Kaleidos to the U.S.

W. Eric Martin
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• I first wrote about Martin Wallace's Route 666 in April 2015, and now here we are again one year later with the game getting an official release date from publisher Space Cowboys of Q3 2016, with the game also being available at Gen Con 2016 in August. Here's a more detailed overview of the game compared to what we knew before:

Quote:
In the fast-paced and morbidly kitschy game Route 666, you and your fellow players embark on a road trip going south from Chicago along America's famous Route 66 — now infested by zombies. As you travel though a deck of adventure cards rife with dangers, you battle zombie hordes, drive abandoned school buses, scavenge for gas and bullets, and explore a darkened, tainted American countryside full of shambling undead, haunted carnivals, and plumes of toxic gas. Your goal is to stay alive until you reach the safe, sandy beaches of the California coast.

Three different stages of adventure cards create an experience of increasing difficulty and ensure that each playthrough is unique. Each round begins with an auction that determines both player order and which cards you will encounter. Since the resources used for bidding are the same as those used to battle the oncoming zombie hordes, your survival depends as much on your resource management as it does upon winning those bidding wars. The player who either accumulates the most points or survives the longest wins.

Zombies of all types await, with cannibals, anti-personnel mines and radioactive wastes also being among the hazards awaiting the players. Who will survive the zombie onslaught?

A press release announcing the game included this quote about the design from Wallace: "My objective was to create an adventure style game with connectivity between actions and encounters, where there are unforeseen consequences to what might seem to be rather mundane events. I am becoming increasingly drawn to designing games that have a stronger 'narrative'. I think it is an interesting challenge to create ways to tell a story within a game but in a way that the game can be played repeatedly. I also have to congratulate Space Cowboys on amazing development work. They have created a game that looks as if it is part of the world that the story is set in."

It might be hard to tell from the thumbnail image at top, but Route 666's box is made to look like a repurposed family game from decades past. Space Cowboys' distributor, Asmodee, doesn't show the back cover in its press material, but the mock-up I saw at Spielwarenmesse really sold this look. If only they can distress each game prior to shipping it. (The comics anthology Raw did this back in 1985, and I still recall the impact this had on my comics-bagging self.)


• Etienne Espreman's Bruxelles 1893 will return to print again in the U.S. in Q3 2016, according to Asmodee, which distributes titles from Pearl Games in North America.

• Designer Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games has announced plans for Bad Medicine: Second Opinion, an expansion for Bad Medicine that will add 100-150 new cards and "a new mechanism that can add 'surprise' cards to your pitch".

• German publisher AMIGO Spiel has announced that the recently published Wizard: Jubiläumsedition is being pulled from the market as the card backs show "strong signs of wear on the card backs after a short time". If you have such a copy, write to hotline@amigo-spiele.de for a replacement.

Cool Mini Or Not has signed a deal with Spartaco Albertarelli of KaleidosGames to release his party game Kaleidos in the U.S. in Q3 2016, more than twenty years after the game debuted in Germany and was recommended by the Spiel des Jahres jury.

How do you play Kaleidos? Either individually or in teams, players all look at the same image and has sixty seconds to write down as many things they see in the imagine as possible that begin with a randomly chosen letter. Once time is up, players reveal their answers, scoring 1 point if someone else named the same thing and 3 points for an answer uniquely their own. After playing on and scoring a predetermined number of images, whichever player or team has the highest score wins.

Image from one of the Kaleidos expansions
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:00 pm
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