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W. Eric Martin
• The sixth season of the Game of Thrones television series has ended, but before too long players will have a new way to re-enact all the struggles of that show thanks to Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, a Q4 2016 release from Fantasy Flight Games credited to Bill Eberle, Peter Olotka, Greg Olotka, and Justin Kemppainen that takes the game systems from Cosmic Encounter and transports them to the world of Westeros.
FFG plans to demo Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne at Gen Con 2016, with the game scheduled for a Q4 2016 release. Here's a preview of how CE has been transformed:
In Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, which uses the game systems from Cosmic Encounter, you and your friends each command one of the Great Houses of Westeros, pitting iconic characters against each other in epic battles and schemes. Negotiate, bluff, forge alliances, threaten your rivals — use every tool at your disposal to spread your influence, establish supremacy, and claim the ultimate prize: the Iron Throne!
In more detail, each turn centers around the resolution of an encounter between two players. These encounters can result in hostilities, startling conquests, and the spread of influence, or they can result in the formation of temporary alliances. And though only two players in any encounter will be the "active" players, your friends might offer you their support — or turn around and offer it to someone else.
Win enough of these encounters, though — and find the right ones to lose — and you might find yourself in position to seize the Iron Throne. The goal of the game is to spread five of your influence to your opponents' House cards and take the crown for yourself.
• I just highlighted the fab 1960s art of Ta-Da! in early July 2016, and here's another title bearing the same retro look: Suspicion from the design team of Forrest-Pruzan Creative and publisher Wonder Forge, with this title being available for demo games at Gen Con 2016. An overview:
You are a jewel thief, and you've been invited to the mansion of someone who doesn't know that you engage in such nefarious doings. While at that mansion, you're going to try to nick as many jewels as possible, but *gadzooks* the mansion turns out to be filled with jewel thieves who are all trying to do the same thing. Can you out them publicly, while staying unknown yourself and bagging a nice collection of gems?
In Suspicion, ten characters start on the perimeter of the game board, and each player is secretly one of these characters. On a turn, you roll two dice, then move the two characters shown (or characters of your choice if you roll a joker). After this, you play one of the two action cards in your hand, and carry out one of the actions on that card: stealing a type of gem in the space where your character is located, moving any character, asking someone else whether their character can be seen by someone on the board, and so on.
Gems come in three types, and when one of the piles is empty, the game ends. Everyone guesses who is which character, then all identities are revealed. For each player you've guessed correctly, you score 7 points; for each set of three different gems, you score 6 points; and for each individual gem aside from the sets, you score 1 point. Whoever has the most points wins!
• To continue with the theme of the past returning in new forms, I present The Arrival, which new German publisher Game's Up describes as a revamped version of Martin Wallace's Mordred, which was first released in 1999 by Wallace's Warfrog Games. (Note that the cover image shown is not final.) This title will debut at SPIEL 2016 in October, with rules in English and German. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
In a time long forgotten, the cruel Fomori rule over Érin, the green island. They praise their king Balor, who reigns from his fortifications in the north with an iron fist. Old paths and ruins spread over the island's face, which will be called Ireland many generations from now. But new tribes arrive at the island striving for permanent presence. Who will control Érin's fate over the next centuries to come?
Each player in The Arrival represents a tribe leader who tries to gain predominance over the mythical island of Érin while pushing back the demon-like Fomori. But the players are facing a dilemma, for spreading too quickly means becoming more and more corrupt and strengthening the Fomori in their power...
Over 4-6 rounds, the players determine their resources by means of a unique game mechanism, which will be used later on profitably. During a first phase (Earning Phase), players draw four cards, each showing three sections of different resources. Two of these sections are gradually blocked by the player, thus leaving one section. The resources shown on this section are the ones the player gets. During this phase, they have to decide which section is the best one; while the upper section of the cards offers many resources, it also results in unwanted Corruption Points. The middle and the lower sections offer fewer resources, but also less Corruption.
After that, the Action Phase takes place and the players must use their resources wisely while having the choice from different kinds of actions in order to get Fame Points.
The game ends when a certain number of rounds have been played or somebody reaches the corruption limit.
The winner is either the one with the highest amount of Fame Points or the one with the fewest Corruption Points. This depends on the scene of the board at the end: Do the tribes (players) control more locations on Érin than the Fomori do — or is it the other way around?
W. Eric Martin
Following Asmodee's acquisitions of Days of Wonder (BGG News story) and Fantasy Flight Games (story) in 2014 and the worldwide English rights to Catan (story) in 2016, many people have wondered which domino in the hobby game industry would fall next.
The answer turns out to be F2Z Entertainment, the Canadian publisher/distributor that owns the Z-Man Games, Filosofia Éditions, Pretzel Games, and Plaid Hat Games studios. Asmodee and F2Z Entertainment aren't strangers, having worked with one another over the years, with Asmodee distributing F2Z titles in France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, while F2Z has distributed Asmodee titles in Canada. (This is the basis for the "partnership" referred to in the quotes from the press release below.)
Asmodee has issued the following press release about the deal, and Asmodee North America VP of Marketing Aaron Elliott told me that it can give no other comment at this time since the discussions are still under way. (The "exclusiveness" referred to in the first line of the press release means only that no one else is competing with Asmodee to acquire this company.) Here's what has been made public to date:
The Asmodee Group has announced today that it has entered into exclusive discussions to acquire F2Z Entertainment Inc.
In line with the acquisitions of the worldwide rights to Dobble
, Days of Wonder, and Fantasy Flight Games publishers, and more recently the set-up of Catan Studio
, these exclusive discussions with F2Z Entertainment Inc. emphasize Asmodee's strategy to strengthen its intellectual property portfolio and international presence. Closing of this acquisition is expected to take place in the coming months.
Created in Canada in 2002 by Sophie Gravel, F2Z Entertainment Inc. has become, over the years, one of the most worldwide renowned publisher & distributor of modern board games, with key owned brands such as Pandemic
(over 1 million units sold), Dead of Winter
, and also publishing rights for evergreen games (Carcassonne
for French and English version, Catan
for French version).
Stéphane Carville, CEO of Asmodee Group said: "I am delighted to enter into these exclusive discussions with F2Z Entertainment, which is, for us, the natural next step of a strong and long-lasting partnership built over the years with Sophie Gravel and her teams. Through this acquisition, we will continue expanding our IP portfolio with fantastic games and incredibly innovative studios such as Z-Man Games, Plaid Hat Games and Filosofia. This will also enable us to increase our presence on the global game market."
Sophie Gravel, CEO of F2Z Entertainment added: "As we are close to celebrating 15 years of success with F2Z, we are proud to announce these exclusive discussions with Asmodee Group, a key partner since the beginning of our adventure. This deal is in the direct continuation of our close business partnership and will provide the best environment for our iconic games to reach their full potential and help our studios to continue publishing amazing games."
W. Eric Martin
• I've mostly been working on the Gen Con 2016 Preview the past couple of days — 340 game listings and counting! — and in the process of doing so, I've added a few new game listings to the BGG database, such as The Crow: Fire It Up!, which Upper Deck Entertainment will debut at Gen Con 2016 ahead of its retail release. Here's an overview of the gameplay:
In a world without justice, one man was chosen to protect the innocent! On Devil's Night in the Motor City, play as Eric Draven as he dishes out revenge against the gang that took his life and the life of his fiance, Shelly, in The Crow: Fire It Up!
As Eric Draven, the player uses the aid of Officer Albrecht, Sarah, and the mysterious Crow to track down the Motor City Gang and stave off their reign of terror, while the opposing players portray members of the vicious gang consisting of Tin-Tin, Funboy, T-Bird, Grange, Myca, and Top Dollar spreading fires and mayhem throughout the city as they seek to lure the undead avenger out of the shadows and take him out!
• Victory Point Games plans to release the Reiner Knizia design Planet Rush in 2016, and while the game description is brief, the title is tagged as a reimplementation of Knizia's Tower of Babel, a 2005 release that I just happened to play again this year after a decade's absence from the gaming table. This design fits the Knizia model of seeming like not a lot is going on, while in fact everything is intricately linked. Here's the short description from VPG:
It's the age of the next great space race and you are competing to see who will control the newest earth-like planet. Can you build the greatest planet structures and prove you have technological mastery over the planet?
Planet Rush is a fun euro game of bidding and building. You take control of one of five corporate factions, each bidding to contribute the most to the colonization of the planet. The one who builds the most on the planet wins and gets to claim majority ownership of the world itself!
• On a related note, VPG announced in July 2016 that it will relocate from California sometime in 2017, and at that time it will cease in-house production of its print-on-demand titles, moving instead to full production in China and external warehousing. Some of its titles have already made the jump to full production, but not all of them will, so act now or risk having to scour for used copies later.
• Wonder Forge will debut three new games at Gen Con 2016, with these titles being available exclusively from the Target retail chain in the U.S., and I have details on two of them for now, starting with Really Bad Art:
Really Bad Art is what you're making in this party game, but not because you're a terrible drawer, no — only because you have exactly six seconds to see what you're supposed to draw, then draw it!
Each round, each player secretly takes a card with two phrases like "lack of confidence", "quality of life", "constructive criticism", or "yikes!", then draws a representation of one of those phrases based on whichever color was chosen. Those cards are then shuffled with a dummy card and laid out next to the game board, after which everyone secretly votes on which piece of art corresponds to which card. Guess correctly, and you score two points; have others guess your phrase correctly, and you score one point.
Rounds continue until someone has scored thirty or more points and won the game!
Stick Stack from Brad Ross and Jim Winslow is another incarnation of players needing to place things on top of other things, which really should be the title of a GeekList, if it isn't already:
You don't want to be stuck with sticks in Stick Stack, so try to place them as carefully as you can on the wobble tower in the center of the playing area.
Each turn, you either draw a stick from the bag or choose one of the sticks in front of you (in case you had collected any on an earlier turn), then you place that stick onto the tower — but when you place it, the colors on that stack can touch only matching colors on the crow's nest or on other sticks that have already been placed. (If a stick slides onto other colors later as the tower tilts and wobbles, that's okay, but you need to match when placing!)
If any sticks fall off the tower on your turn, collect them and place them in front of you. When all the sticks have been placed onto the tower or when the tower falls over, the game ends immediately. If you caused the tower to fall, you don't collect any of the sticks, but you do score five points (which isn't good). Every player scores one point for each stick in front of them.
If anyone has eleven or more points, the game ends and the player with the lowest score wins. If not, play another round!
W. Eric Martin
Codenames from designer Vlaada Chvátil and publisher Czech Games Edition has won the 2016 Spiel des Jahres, Germany's game of the year award, which is intended to highlight an outstanding design that would be ideal for German families — and if you happen to belong to a family of some other nationality, there's a good chance that you'll enjoy the game as well.
The 2016 Kennerspiel des Jahres — an award aimed at game enthusiasts who are ready for something more challenging or involved — goes to Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King from designers Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister and publishers Lookout Games and Mayfair Games.
Congratulations to both winners!
Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:17 am
W. Eric Martin
Following the release of The Pied Piper in Q2 2016, Purple Brain Creations will publish its next Tales & Games series in September 2016: Tiago Damey's Aladdin & The Magic Lamp, a 2-5 player game that IELLO will release in the U.S. Here's an overview:
The sorcerer has sent you, a street urchin like Aladdin, into a cave to look for a magic lamp that lets you call upon a genie's favors. However, the cave also encloses fabulous treasures sorted into three chests. If you're not too greedy, this could be your chance to become rich!
In Tales & Games: Aladdin & The Magic Lamp, a turn has three phases during which everyone plays simultaneously. First, choose how many chest cards you want to draw and from which chest. Then, call out to the genie by being the fastest. Finally, if you haven't been too greedy, draw chest cards while avoiding the scorpions.
The game ends when a player draws one of the three sorcerer cards and closes the cave.
• Harald Mücke of Mücke Spiele says that he's releasing another five hundred copies of Alexander Huemer's Lignum in July 2016 ahead of a new edition of the game that will be released in Q2 2017 in German and a language to be announced later by Mücke Spiele and in English by Capstone Games. This new edition will have "minor adaptions and rule optimizations", and an expansion will be available, with this item being sold separately for those who already own the original game.
• Habitats is the next release from Cwali's Corné van Moorsel, and in this tile-laying game players each build their own wildlife park without cages and fences, with each animal wanting to have certain habitats around it, but with those habitats naturally having a tendency to conflict with the desires of other animals nearby. Van Moorsel has stated that he plans to Kickstart Habitats in July 2016.
• At UK Games Expo 2016, designer Peter Burley released a new edition of his long-lived, million-selling game Take it Easy! through his own Burley Games. This new "Daffodil" edition of one thousand copies includes double-sided game boards with the original Take it Easy! design on one side and a daffodil pattern on the other. For this side of the game board, each player has four additional tiles that include wild card stripes, allowing for (potentially) more matches when they're drawn during play.
Picture a game jam. A month-long game jam. With three hundred designers. Under the age of 12.
That's what we do at Brooklyn Game Lab every day.
One of our endeavors in a recent semester was to homebrew an expansion for the hit game New York 1901. By the end, our kids — with the help of our friends at Blue Orange Games — had made their first foray into game publishing!
Each day in our after-school program (and summer camp), we guide students through something we call "lab". During this two-hour session, a group of fifty kids learn, play, and deconstruct a popular board game together.
After gameplay, each child provides structured notes on winning tactics, losing lessons, and ideas for new elements and mechanisms — then the students stand and present these thoughts, after which they vote for their favorites — all with the goal of reinventing the game.
In the case of New York 1901, after two weeks of work we had whittled five hundred submissions down to 98 distinct ideas for modifying the game. These included things like airports, day and night phases, taxes, eminent domain, and of course zombies. The heavy-hitting classics made the cut, too: Godzilla, King Kong, and a "gigantic worm".
At this point in the process, our stellar creative team stepped in to review, consider, and sort the top hundred ideas. After working to surface common threads, three leading visions emerged:
• The first proposal was "King of New York 1901" in which we co-opted the monsters from King of Tokyo/King of New York and added them as NPCs. These forces-of-nature were designed to stomp the city to bits as players built around them. I'll note that "monsters stomping things" is a permanent fixture on our mod shortlist.
• The second was "Into the 20th Century". In this version, the scoring track was treated as a literal timeline of the city of New York. The 1 spot on the scoring track signified the year 1901, while the 20 spot signified 1920 and the start of Prohibition! The Great Depression, World War I and II, The World's Fair of 1939 — all of these dates were given some in-game significance and tied to the timely progression of the game (as denoted by the leading-most player).
• The third was "Gangs of New York" or its softer-sounding cousin, "Rise of the Kingpins". In this model, dozens of PvP ideas were packaged together in a way that conveyed the feel of NYC in the 1920s and 1930s — grit and all. We loved designer Chénier La Salle's attention to historical detail in the original game, and this vision doubled down on his commitment to the time period.
As our creative team discussed more broadly how each of these visions might play, I sat turning one of the game's plastic "worker" tokens over and over in my hand, appreciating the detail. One of my only criticisms of the base game is that these fantastic pieces tended to spend as much time off the game board as they did on it. They commuted in and out of the city, but didn't live there.
We asked ourselves: What if the opposite were true? What if they cluttered the board with old-timey hustle and bustle? Oppressive! Territorial! For us, the idea of turning the workers into "goons" immediately changed the feel of the city, creating a downtown that felt alive, occupied, seedy, imposing — and we knew that we'd chosen the best direction.
The other core concept that emerged to round out this vision was the idea of more distinct districts in the city, something emblematic of NYC, such as Chinatown or Little Italy — a sense of turf. We wanted the districts to have not just color, but flavor.
And so idea #33 of our 98 top ideas was selected as the keystone submission! It was simple: "You hire gangs to take over other companies' buildings, destroy them, and get rid of the reserved buildings." We arranged dozens of ideas related to PvP interference, all spiraling out from this hub...
We researched mafia history and drew up generic gangs (long live "the blue barbers"), laying out all of the lab-generated mechanisms that allowed players to use worker tokens underhandedly.
With the overarching goal of changing the feel of the city, we introduced five "dives", including a casino, a prison, and of course a speakeasy. These pre-placed buildings fit nicely over the parks and other unused decorative spaces on the original board.
Ultimately, the mod's general framework was simple: Control the most turf in a district, and you control its gang. Each turn you could deploy one worker as a knuckle-dragging goon or detour a rival goon into one of your dives.
Over time, a colorful boss emerged as the patron saint of each of our gangs:
The dives also took on lives of their own as our kids included mini-games to make visiting them even more immersive:
As we prepared to go to print, many of our beloved elements were put on ice — but as we teach our young game designers, the most important part of your design is the part you love, but leave out.
As we handed this document off to the Blue Orange team, we wiped our collective brow. My staff, my kids, and myself — all proud to have our work recognized and taken seriously, and to give some little thing back to the world of gaming that has been so incredibly good to us.
Editor's note: Here's a little more detail about how Goons of New York 1901 works: Once all players in the game have reached the Silver Age, you look to see who controls the most territory of each color on the game board (with pink being excluded in two-player games).
Whoever controls the most of a color takes control of that boss, and at the start of each of your subsequent turns, you can use the "goon power" of one of your bosses to place a goon in a particular location, such as on a street or on a specific Bronze Age skyscraper. You'll score points for this goon based on certain conditions, but if someone ever controls more territory of this color than you, that player takes control of the boss and you have to say goodbye to those goons. —WEM
W. Eric Martin
• Designer Matt Leacock was featured in a June 30, 2016 write-up in TIME in the magazine's "American Genius" section. The article gets a few details wrong — Leacock self-funded the publication of his 2000 title Lunatix Loop, not Pandemic — but it's a nice summary of Leacock's career arc to date.
The really strange thing is that the article doesn't include a picture of either Leacock or Pandemic. What's up with that?! We'll just have to settle for the old-school game references in the article title...
• In May 2016, Nicolas Ricketts — curator of The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York — highlighted the breadth of Sid Sackson's works, unpublished prototypes, and correspondence held by the museum.
• On The Cardboard Republic, Erin Ryan surveyed the cover art of new releases in the top one hundred games on BGG from 2009 to 2016 and concluded that "You are more likely to see a sheep on the cover of a board game box than you are to see a group of women". An excerpt:
On average, only 5.1% of games released within a year of making it onto the BGG Top 100 featured women alone. No games featured a group of characters made up primarily of women. Groups of predominantly men or men alone (i.e. without women) made up 74.4% of the sample. Groups containing an equal number of men and women came in at 20.5%.
But okay, like above, that’s an average. A more telling (and, thankfully, more hopeful) picture shows how representation has changed from 2009 to 2016.
• The 14th annual Japan Boardgame Prizes have been announced, with the seven-member jury selecting Alex Randolph's Mahé — a modern edition of his Die heisse Schlacht am kalten Buffet — for the U-more Award aimed at beginning and family gamers.
In the Voters' Selection category, Libellud's edition of Mysterium took first place, edging out The Voyages of Marco Polo, Karesansui, Deep Sea Adventure, and Patchwork in close voting.
• In older award news, the nominees for the 2016 GRAF LUDO were announced in early June 2016. This award is intended to highlight aesthetically pleasing design in games, and the nominees for 2016 in the family category are The Bloody Inn, Celestia, Game of Trains, Gum Gum Machine, Mysterium, and Die Wände haben Ohren, with the last title being a complete mystery to me and something lacking from the BGG database.
GRAF LUDO nominees in the children's category for 2016 are BauBoom, Die Drachenzähne, Die Helden von Kaskaria, Insekten Hotel, My First Stone Age, and Spookies.
It's not surprising that Conspiracy! has an origin that is not only not straightforward, but is as shrouded in mystery as the Reptilian Overlords. It begins with my first game, Legends and Lies, which was all about cryptozoology in a rummy-based game. Legends and Lies had successfully been Kickstarted and even already had a mini-expansion called "The Skeptic" that had been a Kickstarter stretch goal for the main game. I was working on the first full expansion, Mysterious Locations, which would add a location for each player that would grant them some special cool ability — in short, a player power expansion with a theme that encompassed places like The Bermuda Triangle, The Roswell Crash Site, The Lost City of Atlantis, etc.
While creating Mysterious Locations, I had come up with about twenty locations I wanted to test. For me, as in all design, it is critical that pieces in my games not only make sense and work mechanically, but that whenever possible the theme they represent is tightly tied to how they work. For example, whoever controls The Bermuda Triangle in Mysterious Locations can make one card disappear, removing it from play for the hand. One of the twenty test locations was Chichen Itza, which for those not in the know is where the most famous of the crystal skulls were found. The way I envisioned the location working was the following: When Chichen Itza was in the game, a number of Crystal Skull artifact cards were added to the deck based on the number of players. The person drawing a Crystal Skull would be able to get any card they wanted out of the draw deck by playing it, but after they used it, they would hand the card to the owner of Chichen Itza, who could then use it on a later turn.
While playtesting, I fell in love with Chichen Itza and its Crystal Skull artifacts. This lead me down the path of brainstorming what other strange artifacts I come up with and what powers I would associate with them, things not that well known like the Kecksburg Object or the Voynich Manuscript as well as more commonly known strange/cursed artifacts such as the Hope Diamond. This spiraled out of control to the point where I removed Chichen Itza because I felt the entire artifact idea could easily be its own expansion. Mysterious Locations was successful, and though I did not immediately return to the artifacts, I instead did a direct sale expansion that added a fifth player to Legends and Lies called Headlines and Hoaxes.
It's not unusual for me to have several game ideas going at once, so I started developing another expansion for Legends and Lies along with the artifacts expansion idea. As with all my games, I spent a good deal of time researching, so this meant reading up on all the various strange artifacts — both real and imagined — that I thought would work well for the expansion I had envisioned. This is always a fun part of the design process and not surprisingly this little project spiraled even further off course to the point where it was clear that what I was working on was more than an expansion; it was its own game.
Once it was decided to make the strange artifacts their own game, I needed a theme that would work with it. My husband Nick (author of Looting Atlantis) and I brainstormed a bit, and it was not too long before I suggested and we settled on the world of conspiracy theories. As a theme, conspiracy theories are not often seen, and this choice not only fit, but it also allowed me to carry over what I think is the coolest mechanism from Legends and Lies: discrediting.
Discrediting, as far as I know, is a mechanism that I actually came up with. The way it works in both games is that at the end of each hand, the person who went out picks up the discard pile — the "Tabloids" in this game because it represents old tabloid newspapers such as Weekly World News — and "reads" the tabloids. Every "story" (card) in the tabloids that matches a conspiracy that a player is trying to "prove" discredits that conspiracy, thereby causing the person with the most cards in that conspiracy to lose a card from it. Discrediting is important because after the tabloids have been read, any conspiracy that still has ten or more points revealed scores double for any player that has it in front of them. Discrediting is, if I do say so myself, an interesting mechanism that gives both games a unique way to interact with the other players.
With a plan in place, Nick looked at a way to change and streamline how the suits were going to be laid out in Conspiracy! as opposed to Legends and Lies. In L&L, suits could have different numbers of cards in them, which made explaining the game more difficult than it should have been and in hindsight added an unneeded level of complication. We agreed on five cards for every conspiracy, along with one "Proof!" card.
While Nick was working on the deck layout, I was working on the conspiracies. In Legends and Lies, I had experimented with two of the expansion suits doing something when they were played, and each expansion added one such suit like this (with none being in the base game). I thought that a good way to bring the game engine to the next level was to have every conspiracy have an effect associated with it. This would add a whole other strategic dimension to the game in that the order you played conspiracies — which is called "revealing" in Conspiracy! — would often matter.
To keep it simple and streamlined, I limited the abilities that a given conspiracy could have to three categories: one-shot effects that would happen only when a conspiracy was revealed or strengthened (added to), continuous effects that grant you something as long as you have them in play, and scoring effects that matter only during the scoring phase.
Once the conspiracies were done and the action cards added, the artifacts were mixed in and we were ready to go. Since the original concept for the artifacts involved a player location, that was not going to work. These artifacts were built to be extremely powerful game-changing type cards, so I did not want them as random deck draws for the obvious reason. They had powers such as allowing a player an additional turn at the end of the round or having them reveal a conspiracy with two cards rather than three.
What was settled on was an auction mechanism, but I didn't want to add another element to the game as some form of currency, so instead I proposed that when an artifact was drawn, players could bid how many cards they would be willing to draw in addition to taking the artifact card. Since cards in your hand count against you at the end of the hand and you're restricted in how much you can play on a given turn, my thinking was that people would shy away from bidding too many cards. In practice, however, this turned out not to be true; no matter what kind of restrictions were placed on bidding or how the bidding worked, it turned out more often than not to result in large bids. Even though the cards counted against the player at the end of the hand and they always ended up with cards left, what they could get out of the artifact more than made up for this penalty.
While the conspiracy effects, action cards and game mechanisms were refined, we STILL were trying to make the artifacts work. This went on for about two months until I finally decided to try the game without the artifacts. This was not an easy decision as the artifacts were the original reason for the game's design. After playing just a few games on my own, I was 100% convinced that the artifacts had to go. I knew Nick would not want to remove them, so I prepared to present my case. If he was not on board, Conspiracy! would be dead. It took about thirty minutes for me to get him to very begrudgingly play a game with me without the artifacts. To his credit, after just two hands he agreed that I was right. I had to get up and hug him.
Once the artifacts were removed, the game worked flawlessly, which was confirmed by our various playtesters. It was amazing how perfectly the game worked at that point, and it was clearly our desire to insert artifacts into the game that had been holding us back. (Don't worry about the artifacts, though. We haven't totally given up on them yet and will soon be testing another game designed to work with a new bidding mechanism.)
That is the official story of how Conspiracy! came to be. I could go on and on about the selection process and mechanisms of each conspiracy, my love for inserting Easter eggs into my games, and how the Reptilian Overlords were indispensable in the design process — All Hail the Reptilian Overlords — but I'll save that for another day.
W. Eric Martin
• Time for another look ahead at late 2016 releases from a German publisher that will be highlighted at Spiel 2016, this time showing off a few of the items from HUCH! & friends, starting with Skibe from Viking-lookalike Arve D. Fühler:
In Skibe, players assume the role of a tribal chief in the days of Erik the Red.
Erik has ordered the building of ships for the purpose of sending the bravest Vikings to Greenland. The players build longboats, supply them with provisions and equipment, and try to bring as many Vikings of their own tribe as possible on board. Will the ship stand up to inspection by all tribal chiefs? And which tribe will be best represented on the ships in the end?
• Adrian Adamescu's Rival Kings — the cover of which is not final — presents us with a setting, but no gameplay details:
In Rival Kings, two royal families compete for the country and its people. High-ranking personalities prevent the members of the opposing family from using their subjects for their own purposes and from erecting valuable buildings — but everything comes at a price. Who will lead his family to fame and honor?
• I'm not sure whether Cards: Die Partie deines Lebens from Renè Haustein and Mathias Spaan qualifies as a game or not, but it's close enough from the description to merit entry, possibly simply from something that pushes the envelope of what a game might be. An overview:
Cards: Die Partie deines Lebens is an unusual card game, one in which you have to master crazy tasks and tricky riddles. You play on your own, and the game can take weeks, months, or even years to complete. Each card provides a new challenge that works its way into the player's life. Only when you fulfill the condition on a card may you reveal the next one.
Cards: Die Partie deines Lebens contains fifty cards, and as soon as you have fulfilled the last card, you have completed the game.
• Continuing in that vein of games about which we know v. little, let's look at all we know of Touria from Inka and Markus Brand and Michael Rieneck:
In Touria, Princess Tara has decided to marry – but not just anyone, of course. She expects a lot from her husband-to-be: Heroic deeds and precious gifts are a must.
A group of bold adventurers set out to pit themselves against dragons, dig up gems from the haunted mines of the country – and make a good deal from time to time, since the father of the bride demands an appropriate price for his daughter's hand. Touria's dancing towers show the heroes the way, so the brave men and women go from one adventure to the next. Brave women? Of course – or have we forgotten to mention that Tara's handsome brother, Prince Talan, is also of marriageable age?
Günter Burkhardt's Ulm offers even fewer peanuts with which to build a gameplay trail:
Ulm is at its heyday. The construction of the Ulm cathedral has not yet been completed, but the city is already wealthy and prestigious.
In Ulm, players try to expand their spheres of influence and to make optimal use of the hustle and bustle on the marketplace around the cathedral.
• The description for Dave Grigger's Ankh leaves much to the imagination, but it does posit a strange theory about gender politics in the afterlife:
The key to immortality: When the female pharaoh holds court in the dark chamber, even the toughest mummies become unhinged. The petulant ruler distributes her favor and, at the same time, also the prospect of new life energy. But even if you've just been highly esteemed by the old Egyptian monarch in Ankh, you might fall into disgrace in the next moment.
• Danger of a different sort awaits in Michael Xuereb's Clonk!, which once again defines dwarves almost entirely by a desire to get dirty:
The dwarves are loose in Clonk!, with many valuable crystals to dig up from the cursed mine, but a sinister danger is lurking in the dark corners. Who will manage to collect the most valuable load in their wagon and exit the mine unscathed?
• Tatsu, which will also be released by designer John Yianni's own Gen42 Games, features backgammon-style dice rolling and piece movement with each player trying to eliminate all of one type of the opponent's pieces from the game or knock all of the opponent's dragons off the board. Amazingly enough, we have video overview of this game thanks to Yianni showing it in advance at Spiel 2015:
The Origins Game Fair was held June 15-19, 2016, in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio. (They finally moved it to a more appealing date! Yay!) The next convention will be held June 14-18, 2017. The Origins Game Fair began in 1975 and is run by the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
This year the registration line was extremely long — longer than I have ever seen it in previous years. Part of this was due to a Microsoft security update that was pushed through Tuesday night, causing some time to be lost Wednesday morning. The other reason was due to increased numbers. In 2016, 9,514 people had registered on Wednesday by noon (compared to 7,634 in the same time period the previous year). Origins had added 20% more people to the registration stations this year, so the delay wasn't as bad as it could have been. John Ward, Executive Director of GAMA, noted that the average wait time was about an hour.
This shows about a third of the line
Attendance was up from 2015 (the numbers they gave me from last year were revised):
• 2014: 11,424 unique badges
• 2015: 12,912 unique badges (43,791 turnstile)
• 2016: 15,480 unique badges (52,561 turnstile) or 19.8% above last year's attendance
This year’s prices:
• Full Show Badge: Pre Reg $55, Onsite $65
• One-Day Badge: Pre Reg $20, Onsite $25 (up $5 from last year)
• Family Day passes were available only for Sunday, June 19, for a family of up to two adults and four children (under 18) with limited access: $20 (up $5 from last year)
Origins and Families
Origins is a family-friendly event. Children 9 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. A child's badge allows entry to Origins for all five days of the show. The back of the child's badge includes a place for parents to include their badge ID number and contact phone number at the show.
There were two new options for kids this year: the Origins Family Room and CritterCare. The Origins Family Room is for parents who want to spend time gaming with their children. Free games were provided by Pokemon, Breaking Games, and Origins. Video games, provided by Final Boss Gaming, cost two generic tickets per hour (generics cost $2 each) unless you had purchased an Electronic Game Room ribbon, which allowed unlimited play.
CritterCare is a place where parents could register their children for kid-friendly fun. Brought to you by KiddieCorp, CritterCare is Origins' new and improved childcare room. Children ages 5-12 could participate in tabletop games, card games, and crafts. Books and toys were also available. Origins offsets the cost of CritterCare at a reduced rate of two generics per hour, per child. Parents' contact information as well as their intended location at the convention is required for check-in. Children are required to stay in CritterCare until their parent or guardian comes to sign them out.
Check out the Family page on the Origins website for hours and information.
By the way, if you have children (or even if you don't!), be sure to check out HABA games (see below, in the Exhibit Hall section). Their games are as much fun for adults as they are for children – and the components are usually super high quality.
Fun Fact: At The Gathering of Friends, I caught Phil Walker-Harding, designer of Imhotep, wearing the same sweater (in Australia they say "jumper") as he did for his designer photo in the rules for Imhotep. He claims he really does change his sweaters/clothes! See Thames & Kosmos later in the article for more information on his game.
Phil Walker-Harding, owner of multiple jumpers
CABS Board Room
Board Room Ribbons were again $20. This year they sold out — 1,600 ribbons! The library received 118+ new games, making the library about one thousand games. (The entire CABS library is brought to the convention, minus some kids games.) There were 592 unique games checked out from the library. Here are the top 20 checkouts (number of checkouts listed after name of game):
• Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 37
• Splendor 36
• New York 1901 35
• Codenames 35
• Imhotep 32
• Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game 30
• 7 Wonders: Duel 29
• Royals 28
• The Networks 25
• Quadropolis 24
• World's Fair 1893 23
• Valeria: Card Kingdoms 20
• Animals On Board 19
• 51st State: Master Set 19
• The Game: Are you ready to play The Game? 18
• Odin's Ravens 18
• Automobiles 18
• Kitty Paw 18
• Roll for the Galaxy 17
Fun Fact: Likely the only reason Tichu isn't right there at the top of the list is because real Tichu players bring their own decks!
Thanks to CABS member Ken Hill for providing the above information.
Origins Award Winners 2016
The Origins awards were held Saturday, June 18. The board gaming related category winners are below.
Game of the Year
Codenames (Czech Games Edition) Designed by Vlaada Chvátil
Best Board Game
Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games) Designed by Justin Kemppainen, Corey Konieczka, Jonathan Ying
Fan Favorite: Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Best Card Game
7 Wonders: Duel (Repos Productions) Designed by Antoine Bauza , Bruno Cathala
Fan Favorite: 7 Wonders: Duel
Best Family Game
Codenames (Czech Games Edition) Designed by Vlaada Chvatil
Fan Favorite: Codenames
Best Collectible Game
DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light (WizKids) Designed by Mike Elliott, Eric M. Lang
Fan Favorite: DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light
Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers Part 1
Exhibit Hall hours for attendees were: Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Here is your list for Gen Con shopping!!
Rio Grande Games
Tiffin was released at Origins. This game is about the Indian lunch delivery service, most commonly found in Mumbai. As a service, bicyclists, called dabbawallas, pick up and deliver hot lunches to workers, usually with help from the train system. Typically the pick up is from the worker’s own residence, although some use a meal supplier. There is a really nice movie titled The Lunchbox (available on Netflix) whose story revolves around this very thing. Tiffin is a somewhat light, area majority game that has a bit of luck and strategy. Players use cards to place cubes on tiffin tiles: first as lunch tin(s) — up to 3 — then to fill up the "route" (a block of squares, varying in size for shorter or longer routes). Each player starts with one card for a short cut (makes a route 2 squares shorter) and a flat tire (makes a route 2 squares longer), which may be played during their turn in addition to their action (then it's discarded). Actions are basically taking cards or placing cubes.
Dominion: Empires was just released. It adds a lot of new mechanisms, including split piles for kingdom cards of two different cards; debt tokens that allow players to buy cards with debt, which must be paid off before they can buy another card; more events (first introduced in Adventures); and landmarks, which work similarly to events but generally give players ways to score points during the game or at the end. One or two landmark cards come out at the beginning of the game and apply to everyone.
Fun Fact: Rael Dornfest, one of the designers of Tiffin, went to Mumbai to hang out with the dabbawallas — the people who deliver lunch boxes (called tiffins). The name of the prototype was "Dabbawalla" but it was later changed to Tiffin.
Swipe Out was pre-released at Origins and will be available in July. Each player has a 5x5 grid board with 25 chips on it. A pattern card will be flipped showing a similar 5x5 grid with dots in some of the squares. Players must match the pattern by quickly removing chips on their boards. There is squeaky duck in middle of the table. The first player to finish will grab the duck to stop play, then the player’s grid board is checked for accuracy. If it is wrong, the other players keep going. The winner gets the card. Play is up to five cards (there are variants for three cards and with teams). Designed by Oswald Greene Jr. – from Grand Theft Auto. Wiki: "Oswald Greene, Jr. is a voice actor, associate producer and a game tester who voiced a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. He also worked as a game tester for Grand Theft Auto III and as an associate producer for Grand Theft Auto Advance."
Dan (L) and Frank (R) DiLorenzo, R&R Games Booth
Shiro is being tested for a future release (likely 2017). Designed by Ben Parmentier. The shogun is dying. Warlords are trying to gain control of the provinces of Japan to cement their claim to become shogun. This is an area majority, worker placement game using cards. Everyone has same deck of cards and a hand, from which a few cards will be selected each turn to put on display. Cards have 2 or 3 slots on which samurai may be played. Players may play their colored samurai on their own cards for free or on another player’s at a cost – with the limit of one samurai per color per card. Players may hire ronin, which are temporary workers for one turn, although they may become permanent workers if they pay a higher cost.
Fun Fact: Many of R&R games have treasure hunts hidden inside them. A couple weeks ago, someone solved the Face Chase hidden hunt and won $150 (grand prize). Other prizes may still be won.
I couldn't resist including this: Time's Up Title Recall is my favorite party game (although I love all Time's Up games). Earlier this year R&R released a Time's Up Limited Edition Expansion Set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of R&R Games! At Origins, four full expansion packs were released for Time's Up: Title Recall. Every Time's Up release has about 30% new cards from the previous edition (currently on the fifth release of Title Recall and 7th release of the original). On a related note: Smarty Party, the newest edition will have 100% new content, Gen Con release.
Thames & Kosmos
Legends of Andor: Journey to the North is an expansion for Legends of Andor that will be available Q4 2016. This cooperative game includes a new story that picks up from the base game, but moves on to another land (it includes a new map region of the north of Andor) with new challenges (legends), and new powers. This time the theme is water-based; for example, it includes storms, ships, and sea monsters.
Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, Thames & Kosmos
Imhotep was on sale for the first time at Origins. Imhotep was an Egyptian, considered by some to be the earliest known architect. In the game, players are Egyptian builders trying to emulate Imhotep by loading boats with stones (wooden pieces) and moving them to five monuments (board locations). Each area allows players to either take cards or participate in building (placing wooden pieces on the board). On a player's turn, they may do one of four actions: take new stones, load their stones on a boat, move a boat to a monument, or play an action card. Timing is key since other players are vying for their own interests. Nominated for the 2016 Spiel des Jahres award.
Fun Fact: Lili DeSisto, Marketing Coordinator: "The crew at Thames & Kosmos regularly has game nights at their offices so that everyone knows the ins and outs of all of our games (also, it's just fun!). Oftentimes these games nights happen after office hours, but one memorable day this spring, we lost power on the same day that we were undergoing some office renovations. With all the noise, we were happy to be forced to unplug, open the windows to let the light in, and have an impromptu game day. Things got pretty heated, though...one thing we've learned is that we've got some competitive gamers on staff!"
CGE - Czech Games Edition
CGE was showing the final prototype of Codenames Pictures at Origins. It will pre-release at Gen Con 2016, with a full release in September. This is a picture version of the award-winning game Codenames. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do. Fun fact: The original Codenames has been published in 17 languages!
CGE was also showing a prototype of Adrenaline, which is being planned for a Spiel 2016 release. This is a Euro-style first-person shooter. Yeah, you heard me right. Euro-style. First-person. Shooter. I played the prototype last year and, I must say, I'm impressed. Somehow they pulled it off. Each player has an area control health bar that tracks damage from other players. When your character dies, whoever did damage will get points accordingly (i.e. most point for first, second most for second, etc.). A marker is put on the highest point value every time your character is killed so the next kill will not be worth as much. There is another area majority for the player who makes the most kills. There is also a resource management component: you need the right type of ammo for the types of weapons you have. Whenever you die, you immediately re-spawn, without losing anything (weapons, ammo). In a nice twist, there is a slight advantage for having damage.
Quotes by Ryan Bruns, President Mayday Games
Garbage Day released at Origins. "Players take turns stacking garbage cards one at a time onto the overflowing garbage can, or stashing garbage cards in their rooms. But once a player's room gets too full, they must clean it by stacking all the cards from that room on top of the garbage can, very carefully, one by one. If garbage cards fall off the garbage can during your turn, place them in your overflow pile. If your overflow pile gets too big, you're eliminated from the game. If all other players have been eliminated, you win!"
Dungeon Busters was shown at Origins. "Dungeon Busters release is Gen Con 2016: In Dungeon Busters, the players take the role of heroes exploring dungeons and defeating monsters in search of treasures. In order to defeat a monster, every player simultaneously plays a power card face-down then reveals the values. If two or more players play the same value, they are all ignored. If players are defeated the player who played the lowest value should return some treasures as a penalty. If players succeed to defeat the monster, players can divide rewards but the player who played the lowest value will go first."
Fun Fact: Ryan Bruns: "Gen Con 2014, I was late returning from dinner and I had missed most of the designer speed-dating event (where game designers give a six-minute pitch to publishers). I was just going to skip the event since I was very late and I was walking towards the gaming hall. I ran into Seth Jaffee and Andy Van Zandt of Tasty Minstrel Games. They mentioned they were looking for me and said there was a game at the speed-dating event that Mayday Games is going to publish. They proceeded to tell me about Garbage Day and how much I needed to look at it. I went to the room where the event was being held and was introduced to Shane Willis, designer of Garbage Day. After a playthrough and discussion, we signed the game the next day. I love this industry that we all belong to — where publishers see games that would fit with other publishers and recommend them. I love it. Special thanks to TMG."
AEG (Alderac Entertainment Group)
Quotes by Dan Dineen, Major Events Manager, Alderac Entertainment Group
Mystic Vale: "In Mystic Vale, 2-4 players use the innovative Card Crafting System to create and personalize their own cards/decks to create a game experience unlike anything they’ve ever played before. Concise rules offer a deep gaming experience with meaningful decisions, along with tremendous replay value with each game being different from beginning to end." Mystic Vale will be released July 14th for brick-and-mortar stores or August 8th for all other retail outlets.
Guildhall Fantasy: (released June 20th): "In Guildhall: Fantasy, 2-4 players compete to create the perfect party by recruiting adventurers into their guildhall chapters. Collect sets of cards with unique abilities to control the table, and complete a full chapter to claim victory cards. Players do this by drawing cards, making their opponents discard cards, switching cards between their collections and others, or a myriad of other card effects." [Note: There are three listings for Guildhall: Fantasy - Fellowship, Alliance, and Coalition.]
Fun Fact: "Mystic Vale was actually created by its designer, John D. Clair, to teach the Card Crafting System for his game Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness will be released by AEG in 2017!"
AEG Major Events Manager Dan Dineen demoing Mystic Vale to attendees
This one is a showstopper for me. I just had to get some photos of their beautiful dice! These ladies are super sweet, too. This company is out of Poland, but the website is really well done so there is no problem for English speakers; in fact three of the four choices – selected by currency on the left side of the home page – take you to websites in English but with the specified currency and adjusted shipping prices. Only the last one is in Polish.
They make incredibly beautiful and intricate dice in a variety of themes and games: Steampunk, Celtic, Tech, Elven, Deadlands, Call of Cthulhu, Kingsburg, Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, Shadowrun, Warmachine, and many more. There are really cool metal dice available in several choices, as well as dice towers, dice bags, and dice cups (e.g. Black Elven Leather Cup with stitched lid and bottom and debossed writing). They even have glow-in-the-dark dice!!
Fun Fact: This one is too good to be true: edible dice! OMG! I want the elven dark chocolate dice! Although, they look so yummy I might eat them before ever playing a game with them (probably just as well since they will likely make a mess on my hands/games). The description says: "Elven dark chocolate dice set: This set of dice is made of dark chocolate with a touch of almond and marzipan. Meticulously finished, the edible dice are D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 and D100." YUM!
They also have white chocolate (with a touch of lemon), milk chocolate, red jelly, and blue candy! Check Candylize for more pics and info.
Plaid Hat Games
Dead of Winter: The Long Night was pre-released at Origins, with a planned July/August release. This is a standalone expansion for Dead of Winter, with all new characters, crossroad cards, and three new modules that may be played together or players may pick and choose among them. It's of course compatible with the base game.
SeaFall will pre-release at Gen Con with a general release later in 2016. This is designer Rob Daviau's new "legacy" game. It's a seafaring game of exploration and intrigue, with new things to unlock as you play.
Fun Fact: Artist Fernanda Suarez put several Easter eggs in the new Dead of Winter: The Long Night art. Examples include: the Ashes logo on Elijah's hat, and Emma's backpack has a Charm Die keychain on it.
Catan Geographies: Tenn-Tucky is planned to be released July/August. This is another scenario for the base game, for 3-6 players. This version has horses as a commodity, producing on 7s in the pastures.
Catan: The Big Game is an infinitely expandable game of Catan. They plan to release this at the beginning of 2017. Bob Carty, Catan Studios: "Catan: The Big Game is a special product designed to allow scalable events to be economically executed by people who want to play Catan. These kits form the core of the materials used in 2013 and 2015 to set world records for the most people playing in the same game at the same time: 922 in 2013 at Gen Con, with that record being broken in 2015 with 1,040 people participating in the event at Essen. A kit contains materials for six players. Three maps accommodate two players each, micro-perfed cards form the resource decks, and development decks. Die-cut cardstock player pieces are provided as opposed to wood. A micro-perfed deck of dice is provided to take the place of dice. Every thing you need for six players and all for $20.00. The rules are nearly the same as regular Catan, with the addition of ships providing players the opportunity to create trade routes up to 30 segments long, and slightly different rules for robbers and knights. No monopoly card. Have more people? Just acquire more kits. Support materials for organizers are available, including a document for organizers, a video for rules instruction, and a timer/turn and Number software exists to assist in running larger events. A new way to play Catan, maybe with one thousand of your closest pals."
Fun Fact: Morgan Dontanville, CCO: "We are building a life-size sheep for photo opportunities at conventions. We are playing around with the color; currently we are debating whether we want it to have blue, green, red wool. Right now it is being carved out of Styrofoam and will end up being a fully-painted fiberglass sheep with a secret hatch in her belly for fun costumes."
Costa Rica pre-released at Origins and will be released in July. This is an exploration, set collection, and push-your-luck game. Players explore the rainforest of Costa Rica, looking for animals. There are six explorations starting around a hex tile board with five tiles per side (61 tiles of the 72 available are used per game). Each player has one explorer in each group (pawns in their own color). On a player’s turn they take on the role of expedition leader and may determine which tile to explore next, flipping it. Tiles may have one or two animals on it, and possibly a threat. The leader is first to decide if s/he wants to keep the tile s/he just flipped; if not, the choice moves clockwise to the next explorer. If a player takes tiles, that player also removes their pawn from the exploration. If no one takes the tile, the expedition leader flips another tile, adjacent to the last flipped tile, and can now choose to keep or pass all flipped tiles so far. If one threat is revealed, play continues as normal; if a second threat is revealed, the player’s turn ends and that player must take back their pawn and discard the threat tiles, but may keep any remaining tiles. The more animals collected in one type, the more points the group is worth. Players also gain points for collecting a full set of the six animal types.
Fight for Olympus will be released in July. This is a two-player game co-published with Lookout Games as part of the Lookout two-player line. It's a head-to-head card battle game with six areas of conflict in three different areas of play. One area is a tug-of-war battle with a 7-point swing, i.e. the player who gets to 7 points wins. The second area allows players to win tokens to help pay for cards. The last area allows players to pick up another card at the end of their turn (normally two cards, this bumps it to three). Players play cards on their side of the board, paying costs by discarding cards or tokens, and taking any actions as indicated on the cards, then the cards are evaluated in order. If a card is played across from an opponent's card, it starts a battle. The alternative way to win is to have six cards slots filled at the start of a turn.
Fun Fact: Even though the rights to Catan were sold to Asmodee earlier in 2016, Mayfair continues to manufacture the game and its expansions/extensions for Asmodee. At full speed, more than 1,500 games an hour come off the assembly line in Skokie, Illinois!
SiXeS pre-released at Origins and is set to release in July. It is a party game for 4 to 40 players. There are six rounds; the game lasts about 20 minutes. There are three types of rounds. For two of the rounds there is a card with a category; players write down one or more words and, depending on the round, they may want to match or not match their opponents' answers. The last type of round is a lightning round. The card has six categories, and players write down one item for each category that must match an opponent's answer.
Vinhos Deluxe is a reprint of Vinhos, with a new box, art, and components.
Fun Fact: Ralph Anderson, who currently works for Eagle-Gryphon and is the designer of Chimera (a Tichu-like three-player game) lost the Tichu game against me and my awesome partner Zev Shlasinger (formerly "Z-Man", now working for WizKids). To be fair, his partner Ken Hill (Rio Grande Games) had to leave partway through the game, so Stephan Brissaud (Iello) took over; he wasn't quite as exprienced at Tichu...
Alex Soued, Eagle-Gryphon Games Booth
Schotten Totten: This reprint/reboot is due to be released at Gen Con. There will be new art and will be fit into the mini games series (small white box). The rules will actually be the Battle Line rules.
Oceanos is slotted for a Gen Con release. This is a new Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders) set-collection game with an original drafting mechanism that may be played in 30 minutes. It is set in the ocean. Players build their environments during three rounds of play: one at the ocean surface, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. Submarine customizations may be purchased each round, providing different strategies, e.g. more periscopes allow the player to draft more cards (increase hand size).
Fun Fact: IELLO licensed King of Tokyo to a mask company called Trick or Treat Studios. They already made Kong (the albino monkey in King of NY) and Pumpkin Jack (from the Halloween expansion, pumpkin face with witch hat).
Tom Vasel (L) and Kong (R)
Mr. B Games
Quotes are from Sean Brown, (a.k.a. Mr. B), President of Mr. B Games.
Spurs: Legends pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "The final expansion to the Spurs: A Tale in the Old West system. Spurs: Legends adds two female characters and a bunch of new challenge tokens as well as the introduction of the new Bandit Canyon Mini Game and the Train Heist! Fans of Spurs will find these challenges to be much tougher than previous challenges and will add hours of new content to try out!"
Prospectus pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "In Prospectus, players are apprentice-level mages who earn their tower rent by trading potions in the underground Kriztus potion market. Using their powers, they can peer into their crystal balls to predict prices and make their fortunes. But beware! Their prognostication is not perfect, especially when rival wizards cast spells to advance their own agendas! Meanwhile, the greedy, power-mad High Council demands potions as well. A timely sale will make a recipe fashionable, and raise its price in the market, but if the council does not get what it wants, they will retaliate, by telling the townsfolk that the potion is nothing but fizzwater and newt juice. The mage that is able to earn the most money through cunning investments, shrewd spell-casting, and lucrative sales to the council, will be the most successful potion trader and win the game! Heck, maybe you can even pay off your tab at the Drunken Dragon Inn..."
Fun Fact: "My Fun Fact this time is about Spurs. Originally my niece was going to unveil the first Female Character in a very big way. (She was working on a pilot for HULU set in the world of Spurs!) She has since been accepted to a big film school and that project is on hold, but it was such a cool opportunity for the game. We decided to do the Legends expansion to fill the void of women characters in the game as our last installment of expansions for the game. Never say never though, if my niece ever gets that pilot, it will be hard to stay away..."
Meeple Source is the place to find awesome high-quality game replacements. If you have a favorite game (or two, or ten), you might want to upgrade the components to these beautiful pieces.
Cynthia Landon, Meeple Source
Blue Orange Games
The Boss pre-released at Origins, to be released July/August. This is a third in series of games orginally published by Blackrock Games (France), brought over to the North American market by Blue Orange. The most popular game in the Blackrock line of games, it's a mafia-themed bluffing and deduction card game.
Vikings on Board will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released August/September. This is the next game in the Blue Orange Games big-box series, which includes New York 1901. This is a familyweight viking-themed worker placement game by Charles Chevallier (Abyss). The game includes 3D ships (fully assembled) and viking minis. You need area majority to control a ship.
Fun Fact: In New York 1901, the artwork is based on historical postcards of real skyscrapers in New York. Additionally the four legendary skyscrapers were, at one time or another, the tallest buildings in the world. Check out these beautifully illustrated and interesting designer's notes by Chénier La Salle.
Vikings on Board
Piratoons was released in June. Stephen Buonocore: "Players are trying to build the biggest, baddest, best pirate ship on seven seas." There two major parts of the game. First turning a "chest" of tiles over and, in real time, placing pirate meeples on parts of the ship for an area majority. Players have a minimum of 15 seconds (timer) but they can go until one says stop. Then, after pieces are collected, the remaining pieces either "sink to the bottom" (larger pieces) or are auctioned off in a closed fist blind bid. Players score for sets of pieces, e.g. people, flags, etc. as well as how "pretty" the ship is (i.e. certain pieces are next to each other).
The Dragon & Flagon will be released at Gen Con. Designed by Geoff, Sydney, and Brian Engelstein, the theme is fantasy tavern brawling. You play one of nine fantasy archetypical characters who can throw mugs & chairs (wooden pieces), pull the rug out from under characters (paper rug), swing from chandeliers, cast spells, overturn tables (cardboard), fight with weapons, and roll barrels (wooden)... all in a 3D tavern environment. Players play cards to "program" two turns ahead. Cards contain movement, attacks, and special abilities, which are customized per character. Successful attacks gain reputation points. The player with most points at the end of game is the winner.
Fun Fact: There are at least a dozen Easter eggs hidden on The Dragon & Flagon game board. Examples include some rats looking down at a cat, a cask that has a Stronghold logo, and a wanted sign posted in the tavern, showing a picture of Stephen Buonocore, President (...and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer) Stronghold Games.
The Dragon & Flagon
Space Planets released April 2016. This is a tactical dexterity game in which players roll a large die, hoping to land it on a planet card in a 3x3 grid of cards. Planet cards each have a star point value and may also have a special effect (positive or negative). The game end is triggered when one player has collected five cards; the round is finished and the player with the most star points on their cards is the winner.
Go Cuckoo! is to be released August/September. It's a dexterity game in which players start the game with the same number of cuckoo eggs. The bottom tin of the game forms the base of the bird's nest. Players take turns drawing up to three bamboo-like sticks, with colors on each end that may or may not be the same color. They must stop if the ends match, in which case they try to use it to build the nest. Once placed, the player may try to put one of their eggs in the nest. If the egg falls in the can they must take an egg from the player with the most eggs; if it falls outside the can they take the egg back, in either case their turn ends. If they successfully play their last egg, they get to try to place the cuckoo bird; if they do so successfully they win the game.
Fun Fact: Lea Culliton, HABA USA, has been invited to attend and exhibit HABA games at the upcoming American Library Association (ALA) annual conference to speak to librarians about incorporating games into educational curriculums.
Artana is selling the "Best Damn Gaming Coins Ever" including seven new sets of coins: two English sets (Anglo-Saxon, Old English Kings) and five Asian sets (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Mongol). They also sell the "Best Damn Gaming Money Ever" including three new sets (US Presidents, SciFi Credits, Fierce Women). All of their monies are interchangeable. These new sets were released at Origins. The cost is $6 per pack of coins, with the jumbo pack including 6 coins, the large 9, medium 12, small 15, and tiny 18.
Corrupted Kingdoms will be a Gen Con release. Players each control a corporation of evil monsters. The objective is to infiltrate the fair senate of the realm in order to pass nonsensical, destructive legislation. The corporation that does this most successfully will be rewarded by their special interests with ridiculous, unnecessary luxury goods that make the destruction of the entire realm well worth it. (Description from Nils Herzmann.)
Fun Fact: Corrupted Kingdoms is a collaboration with a first-time designer, Raymond Chandler III. Raymond has a degree in video game design from Full Sale University.
Nils Herzmann (R), Artana
The Lairs Kickstarter launched during Origins; it's slated for a Q4 2016 release. Patrick Roach, Sean Cutler, Zack Brown are the designers. This is a dungeon crawl with mini card games (encounters) in each chamber. For example, a duel may include a short trick-taking game of a couple rounds. It has asymmetric game play. First there is a build phase to find an artifact then becomes asymmetric dungeon crawl.
Fun Fact: All of the illustrations in Lairs were originally designed for a children's picture book about the end of the world. (There is a reason it's now in the board game.)
Sample artwork from Lairs
Stay tuned for Part 2, including food (yeah, I can't believe I didn't put it in Part 1 either!), The Dice Tower, and more!
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