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Publisher Diary: The Journal of Discoveries

Anne-Cécile Lefebvre
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Everything started with a call from Cédrick Chaboussit in June 2014 just to have a little chat. (Since our common work on Lewis & Clark, which he designed and we as Ludonaute published, he has become a friend.) During the conversation, he explained that he had the idea of placing the stickered goodies from Lewis & Clark on some dice so that they could then be used to activate the actions of characters. He had already run a few tests and it seemed to work well, with the flow of the dice between players being quite interesting. There was still a lot to do, but he hoped to be able to show us a prototype during the upcoming Gen Con.



Cédrick Chaboussit and Vincent Dutrait at Spiel 2014


A few weeks later in Indianapolis, we tried the prototype together — and as it happened for Lewis & Clark, we fell in love quickly with the game. We think that the way of managing the dice is awesome and never seen before. Sure, the card effects are not yet balanced and there is a lot of work to do, but we're really into the game. It's decided — we're going to publish it.



The moment we decided to publish the game — Gen Con 2014


At this stage, Cédrick's idea for the game is to recount the return of Lewis and Clark's expedition. At first, we wondered whether another theme wouldn't be better because for us this game was a lot more that just a dice version of Lewis & Clark. All things considered, we decided to keep the exploration theme because we are fond of this aspect of scientist discoveries, which is not present in the earlier game.



Prototype dice make me crazy


In September 2014, that choice is confirmed: The game would be based on the Lewis and Clark Expedition from a point of view not too close to the action. It would deal not only with the return of that Expedition, but with the entire adventure, with your goal being to rewrite the Expedition's journals.



The prototype in September 2014



It took up a lot of space


In the meantime, we're working on the mechanisms of the game. We improve the flow during the stage when players retake dice, and we set up three ways to score (through the cartography, the discovery of species, and the knowledge of Indian tribes). Also, we're working on the design of the cards and the personal board. Finally, the Indian tribes' powers and the paths are still not balanced, but I'm not worried because knowing Cédrick, he would set up a little algorithm to balance everything and a few tests would do it.

This work takes more than a month. In the meantime, we create two kinds of tribes and alternative paths in order to create a more flexible game. We're happy because this is still coherent with our setting.



We used Lewis & Clark's pictures in the prototype


At the beginning of December 2014, the game is finished. (We are still discussing some little details, but mostly we're done.) It's time to call Vincent Dutrait, the illustrator whom we have already worked with on Shitenno and Lewis & Clark. We are on the same wavelength, so everything is working well. Vincent seems to be enthusiastic and creates awesome and detailed illustrations. He will tell you more about his work soon.



The prototype before Vincent started working on the game


During this time, we write, proofread, rewrite, and translate the rules so that everything will be perfect.

One of the main questions regarding the contents of the game involved the dice: wood or plastic? Both have their pros and cons, and in the end we went with wooden dice to fit with the game's spirit: exploration and the great outdoors. As dice recognition is crucial for game play, we chose colors easy to distinguish: white, red, yellow, blue and grey, pushing green to the side.



The final dice


By the end of April 2015, we had finally created a wonderful game ready to be produced. (On our website, we wrote about our trip to Ludo Fact to watch Discoveries being produced.)



Punched boards at Ludo Fact


Let's hope that you'll get as much fun playing this game as we got making it!

Anne-Cécile Lefebvre


•••


Editor's note: For an overview of the gameplay in Discoveries, here's a video that I recorded with Lefebvre at Spielwarenmesse in February 2015:

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Mon Jun 29, 2015 6:00 am
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Time Travel, Magic Poker, Nuclear War & More Time Travel

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• Another week, another triumph for designer Scott Almes on Kickstarter, with two games collecting funds right now. Tiny Epic Kingdoms: Heroes' Call from Gamelyn Games expands upon the original TEK by adding heroes, new factions, new regions and a new resource type to the game, making it less tiny in the process but perhaps more epic. (KS link)

• The other Almes title is Loop Inc. from Eagle-Gryphon Games, a time-travel themed game in which players work at a time-travel agency and try to bring customers back in time to certain historical events. In the game, you run through the same day three times, encountering your past self in the process, which in game terms means that the actions you take during your first pass through the day are still with you for passes two and three — and if you don't use these actions, you're punished. I played a prototype in April 2014 and provide more details in that write-up. (KS link)

Gomora: Down Town from Yorgo Manis, Antonio Zax and Storyception Games might have a tough climb through the funding forest as I know the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the name is that it's a new Doomtown: Reloaded spin-off and the second thing is a game about kaiju. Instead you're a detective solving cases in a neo-noir setting. (KS link)

Hocus from designers Joshua Buergel and Grant Rodiek and their Hyperbole Games has been in the works for a while, and I've been following the journey of this magic-themed, spell-driven poker-ish game for a while on their blog as they reworked the game over and over and over again. (KS link)

• Italian publisher Giochix.it typically releases a few involved strategy games each year, but the 45-60 playing time on Stefano Castelli's Bomarzo seems shorter than I'd expect given the look and description of the game, which has players exploring the mystery of the Bomarzo Sacred Grove in 16th century Italy. (KS link) (Giochistarter link)

• Interesting to note that 12 Realms: Bedtime Story, which I included in the June 20, 2015 c.f. round-up for its appearance on Kickstarter, is also funding on Giochistarter and on Spieleschmiede. The Italian publishers cover all the bases!

GAME-O-GAMI hit Kickstarter in early June 2015 with David Luis Sanhueza' Immortal, a strategy game of warring mythologies, but then quickly pulled it and has now relaunched. Warring mythologies-huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing unless this style of game appeals to your tastes. (KS link)

• This post is something of a tease given that nearly all of the available product has been claimed, but saiqlo dice are odd-looing handmade d6 dice from Japan. (KS link)




• Brian Suhre's Paradox from Split Second Games looked fascinating when I saw it at the 2014 Origins Game Fair, and here we are a year later with the game just now hitting Kickstarter. Paradox is another take on the time-travel genre, with players trying to keep worlds' timelines from fracturing through (among other means) a Bejeweled-style manipulation of discs. (KS link)

• Galgor's self-published €uro Crisis is "a satirical board game about the economic and political development in Europe". (Startnext link)

• Patrick Lysaght's Commissioned from Chara Games is a co-op deck-builder in which players are early Christian Apostles who want to strengthen their faith decks. (KS link)

• The third edition of Dawn of the Zeds from Hermann Luttmann and Victory Point Games fulfills the zombie obligation quotient in this post. (KS link)

• Why it seems like only ten years ago that Flying Buffalo, Inc. was releasing a fortieth anniversary edition of Douglas Malewicki's Nuclear War, and that's because it was — which means that FBI must be releasing a fiftieth anniversary edition for 2015, and indeed it is. This edition features full-color cards, a playmat, and 100 rem of glowing tokens. (KS link)

• Brent Ellison Howland's self-published press-your-luck dice and card game Jailbreakers: Plan Your Escape has players trying to do pretty much what it says in the title. (KS link)

Civicus Dice Game from Elree Ellis and Playco Games is "a civilization-themed, strategic area-control game of thoughtful settlement placement and fateful dice rolls" — or so says the publisher. (KS link)

Blood Oath: The Beginning from Imperia Games pitches itself as a three-player conflict between vampires, slayers and lycans. (KS link)

• Did you know about the Japanese crowdfunding site Campfire, which has its own section for game-related projects? The site's not that active, but there it is.

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 Jun 28, 2015 6:00 am
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New Game Round-up: Subs vs. Surface, Goblins vs. Stones & Players vs. The Holiday Spirit

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• In addition to launching its games line with Peer Sylvester's The King Is Dead, a reworking of King of Siam that will debut at Gen Con 2015 ahead of its Sept. 22, 2015 release date, UK publisher Osprey Games has two other titles due out before the end of 2015.

They Come Unseen is an asymmetrical game created by Andrew Benford, a retired Royal Navy Officer and submarine commander. One team must use submarines to sneak troops into enemy ports and destroy vital strategic targets, while the other team deploys a surface fleet to hunt down the subs and protect their crucial supply lines. The game uses two boards: one for action on the surface, seen by both players, and one for movement underwater, seen only by the submarine commanders. The game also comes with specially designed control panels to aid each player in tracking vital information such as fuel, ammunition and current cruising depth.

• The other game is much more lighthearted in nature: Secret Santa from Duncan Molloy. Here's an overview of this title, which like They Come Unseen, is due out on October 20, 2015:

Quote:
At Christmas, it's important to remember that it's better to give gifts than to receive them — but what's better than that is to be the best.

Secret Santa is a festive card game of proving to friends and family that you're a better person than they are. Be the first to give away every gift you've got to win the round. Some gifts trump others but good presents are rare, and a big stack of stuff is always exciting. Mix things up with Santa's Elves and Christmas Carol, give away all of your Gold Rings, and try not to get stuck with the Fruitcake.

"Prove to friends and family that you're a better person than they are" — now that's an inspiring holiday message for all!

GobbleStones is the second title coming from designer Stephen Glenn in 2015, and the short description that I've received from Glenn reminds me of the clever way that your hand size rises and falls in Lumis, his first release in 2015 and one that I really need to cover in more detail soon. As for GobbleStones, which is due out in September 2015 from R&R Games, here's an overview:

Quote:
GobbleStones is a tile-laying game in which players are hungry little goblins who love to eat stones. During play, you gobble up the most valuable stones across the board, and in the end the fattest goblin wins. It's CRUNCH time!!!

In more detail, players set up the game board by laying nine game boards in a 3x3 square; each game board features 25 spaces on it in a 5x5 array, and each space has both a color (one of five) and a number (one of six). Thus, you'll have a game board that measures 15 spaces on each side.

Players start with several 1x1 tiles, with each tile being one of the five colors. On a turn, you take exactly five actions, first playing 0-5 tiles, then drawing 5-0 tiles, e.g., playing three tiles, then drawing two. You play tiles onto the game board akin to playing words in Scrabble, with you covering the appropriate colors with your tiles as a single word and scoring the numbers that you cover. One tile-laying restriction: You can't place tiles so that a 2x2 area of the game board is covered.
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Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:00 am
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New Game Round-up: Peloponnes with a Box, Dice City with a Grid & The Game with New Subtitles

W. Eric Martin
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• It's almost that time of the year when I have two browser tabs open so that I can update convention previews for both Gen Con and Spiel throughout the day, as with the news that designer/publisher Bernd Eisenstein of Irongames has a new expansion for his well-regarded 2009 release Peloponnes titled Peloponnes Box. This item collects seven previously released expansions, while adding a new Victoria expansion that allows each player to take one additional tile during the game.

Eisenstein has stated that once the Peloponnes Box is available on the market, he'll release the art for the Victoria expansion so that those who already own the other seven expansions will be able to create their own copy.

• And here's another release that will be highlighted at Spiel, the October 2015 release Dice City from a partnership between Artipia Games and Alderac Entertainment Group. At first glance, this Vangelis Bagiartakis design seems reminiscent of the 2014 release Doodle City from Aporta Games, with a grid of town spaces being organized by columns topped with dice numbered 1-6, but once you start looking over the Dice City rulebook (PDF), you see that the games have little in common other than dice and a city grid of sorts.

In Dice City, each player has their own grid along with five dice in the colors shown on the left-hand edge of the board. At the start of the game and the end of each of your turns, you roll the dice, then place them in the appropriate spaces in the grid, e.g., a white 1 in the upper left corner. On a turn, you take one action for each of the dice on your board, such as swapping out the location cards available for purchase, moving a different die to an adjacent space in the same row, or (duh) using the location where that die is located.

If you build your army's strength, you can attack bandits or locations on opponents' game boards. If you collect resources, you can export them via trade ships for VPs or purchase new locations that then cover those on your game board, thereby customizing your potential actions in future turns.


IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games have picked up the English-language license for Steffen Benndorf's The Game, giving them two of the 2015 Spiel des Jahres nominees, the other being Machi Koro. This version is due out Sep/Oct 2015. At the same time, Oya has acquired the French license for The Game and released it in June 2015.

It's interesting to see how each publisher puts its own spin on The Game's subtitle, which is the only thing that makes it possible to find The Game in Internet searches. IDW/Pandasaurus went with "Are you ready to play The Game?" while Oya has "Le Jeu n'est pas votre ami!" ("The Game is not your friend!") What would you suggest for a subtitle?

• Speaking of this design, designer Reinhard Staupe — who serves as editor for The Game publisher NSV — is conducting a survey of the tricks players use when they play The Game solo. Why? As he explains on his website, he's created a PC program that's played solitaire The Game thousands of times, always playing two cards with the smallest possible difference and using the plateau jump when possible, and on average this program loses with an average of twenty cards still to be played — a result far worse than most human players have. Thus, Staupe is asking people to submit detailed play records and explain when and why they'll play more than two cards and what else they do to perform better than the computer. (HT: Spielbox)
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Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:00 am
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New Game Round-up: 504 in 6 Languages, Dinosaurs in Battle & Skiers in a Race for Their Life

W. Eric Martin
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• I posted an overview of Friedemann Friese's 504 in April 2015, and here's a short description of the game for those who missed it at the time: Think of a children's flipbook that has the pages divided into thirds, and on each page of this book you have rules showing how to set up, play and score a game. To play a game, flip to three numerically different pages — say, 984 — and discover that you're playing a stock-based, production-driven wargame or perhaps a racing pick-up-and-deliver game with majority scoring. (Each number corresponds to a different game mechanism, and 504 = the number of possible combinations you can play.) Thematically, 2F-Spiele explains the game this way:

Quote:
Scientists in the future are able to build small alternate Earths. Exactly 504 such Earths have thus far been built. The scientists have programmed each of these worlds with an individual set of laws and rules, which the inhabitants strictly follow and consider most important for their lives. These may be exploration, consumption, economics, military, etc., and each is unique. You can visit all of these 504 alternate Earths to experience how the people are living and decide which of these worlds harbors the best civilization. On which world do you want to live? Explore them all and decide!

Friese has now created a FAQ that answers some questions that people have had about the design. What's more, German publisher 2F-Spiele has announced its co-publishers on the project: in French and Spanish Edge Entertainment, in Chinese Swan Panasia, in Korean Korea Boardgames and for the English edition Stronghold Games, which will release 504 as the second title in its "The Great Designer Series". 2F-Spiele and Stronghold Games will debut 504 in October at Spiel 2015, and Stronghold anticipates releasing the game to the U.S. retail market in November 2015.


Green Couch Games has announced two forthcoming titles that fit its small, quick-playing game ideal, with the first of these being JurassAttack! from Ryan Cowler:

Quote:
In JurassAttack!, two players face off in an epic face-to-face dinosaur battle!

In the game, each player chooses a dinosaur or pack of dinosaurs of the same type from their hand, then they reveal them simultaneously to compare Ferocity values. The player with the highest total Ferocity wins the round, taking their rival's dinosaurs into their score pile. Different types of dinosaurs are worth varying amounts of victory points, so it's important to plan well and make sure not to give away too many points in the event of a knockout!

These fierce, prehistoric beasts each have their own special effects as well. Some hunt alone while others may pack with dinos of different types. And sometimes, with a well-placed bluff, players may even be able to sneak some of their precious eggs into their own score pile to protect the future generation.

The second title is from Matt Wolfe, and despite me living in the same town with him, this is the first that I've heard of the game. An overview:

Quote:
It's a race to the finish when some super-smart, yet somehow clueless, engineering students invent rocket-powered skis and decide to test them out at Yeti Mountain!

In Avalanche At Yeti Mountain, players play dual-use cards — the same cards used to make up the ski slopes of Yeti Mountain — to determine their speed in a race down the mountain. If players collectively exceed the speed limit, which is determined by the number of players, the fastest players crash, only moving one space forward towards the goal. Players may also activate rocket jumps to overshoot the competition but at the expense of causing an avalanche to begin chasing them down the mountain. If that's not enough tension, rocket jumps are possible only if the Yeti, awoken from his slumber by all of the rocket-powered racket, doesn't attack and deactivate players' rocket-powered skis! The last skier standing, or the skier who makes it to the bottom of Yeti Mountain, wins the game.
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Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:00 pm
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Gale Force Nine Multiplies Fireflies, Tosses WWE into the Ring, Then Heads to Sea Under Black Sails

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Gale Force Nine has a trio of new expansions for Firefly: The Game, with the biggest of the three being Firefly: The Game – Kalidasa, a "Rim Space Expansion Set" along the lines of 2014's Blue Sun. Here's a short overview of Kalidasa, which GF9 will preview at Gen Con 2015 before its release in Sept. 2015:

Quote:
Kalidasa adds a massive star system to the 'Verse with loads of new opportunities for adventure and profit. No sector of space is safe as the long arm of the Alliance reaches out beyond the central planets with the addition of the Operative's Corvette. Every region of the 'Verse becomes more dangerous with the addition of new Nav Cards for Alliance Space, Border Space and Rim Space. Two new Contacts, including the twin brothers Fanty & Mingo, provide new work opportunities for ambitious crews, especially those willing to get their hands dirty. The bustling port of Beaumonde offers exciting new gear and supplies for captains of all sorts. The bounty of the Rim also flows back to other Supply Planets with new crew, gear and ship upgrades appearing on other worlds. Finally, new Set Up cards, new Story Cards, and a host of surprises await the bold.

The other Firefly items are a pair of "Coachworks game boosters" — Esmeralda and Jetwash — due out in Q3 2015, with each booster containing "a new Firefly Series IV model; ship card; color-coordinated ship dice; new ship upgrades; sheet of game tokens; a new Set Up Card; and a new Story Card".

• Also coming from GF9 in Q3 2015 is WWE Superstar Showdown from the GF9 design trio of Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski and Sean Sweigart. What's going on in this game?

Quote:
WWE Superstar Showdown features six of WWE's greatest superstars — Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Big Show, Randy Orton, and Big E — in a game of miniature combat driven by specialized card decks that highlight the unique style and signature moves for each WWE superstar.

A single match in WWE Superstar Showdown can be played in as little as ten minutes. The game expands with rules linking a series of matches to form an event, creating a longer and more in-depth play experience. With four different match cards, players can play a variety of different matches, further augmented with stipulation cards that introduce special rules to the contest. Players in an event can improve their superstar between matches by earning and adding powerful bonus cards to their superstar decks.

Can you dominate the ring? Will your team go down in history as the greatest phenomenon the world has ever known?

• Rules for WWE Superstar Showdown are available on the GF9 website, and the publisher notes that future expansions for the game will introduce "more WWE Superstars, Divas and Legends".


• As for what else Gale Force Nine has coming in the future, here's a banner that was in the GF9 booth at NY Toy Fair in February 2015. Black Sails: The Board Game — based on the Black Sails Starz television series — is now due out in 2016, according to GF9's John Kovaleski, and the publisher has multiple Family Guy games under development to explore the rich and varied cultural dynamism present in that television series.

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Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:35 pm
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Treefrog Games: Emerald Polished, Ships Incoming, Invaders Printed, Discworld Lost & Brass Attacks

W. Eric Martin
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• While bouncing from one convention to the next (and preparing for the next couple of cons), I often run behind on posting everything that I'd like to post, such as a rundown of the latest from designer Martin Wallace and his Treefrog Games.

In mid-May 2015, Wallace announced details of the second edition of A Study in Emerald, which contains streamlined rules that he hopes will "help those folks who found the first version a tad complicated. Although the game is simpler, it still retains the feeling of paranoia from the first version. What I have done my best to do is remove inconsistencies and reduce the number of available actions to the minimum." The artwork in the second edition is completely new, and says Wallace, "Please note that the game comes without a free poster." A Study in Emerald, for those who aren't aware, is derived from a Neil Gaiman story in which Sherlock Holmes and the creations of H.P. Lovecraft co-exist.

Wallace expects the game to ship from the manufacturer in September 2015, which would make the game a Q4 2015 release. Phalanx, Asterion, Arclight, Ediciones MasQueOca and Schwerkraft will release versions of the game in their respective countries in languages appropriate for those countries.




• At about the same time, Wallace released a detailed overview of Ships, which follows Automobile and Aeroplanes in his transportation trilogy and the game board of which certainly calls Automobile to mind. The Ships page on the Treefrog Games website features an extensive summary of the gameplay, along with images of galley, sail and steamer cards, with those three types of ships representing the three ages in which the game takes place.

In March 2015, Mayfair Games had announced that it would not produce the standard edition of Ships, so now both the standard and the limited edition will be released by Treefrog, with the game currently expected to be manufactured in Q3 2015.

• In mid-June 2015, Wallace announced that the second edition of Moongha Invaders: Mad Scientists and Atomic Monsters Attack the Earth — which was funded via Kickstarter in November 2012 — had been printed and will be shipped to the U.S. and elsewhere within the next two months, after which they'll be sent to KS backers.

• Not everything has been moving toward production for Treefrog, however. Author Terry Pratchett died in March 2015, and in early June 2015 Wallace stated that Treefrog no longer has "the licence to produce Discworld: Ankh-Morpork or The Witches. I'm sorry to disappoint those fans looking forward to the next game, just one of those things."

• Finally, on June 22, 2015, Wallace posted a long note on the Treefrog Games website stating that Eagle-Gryphon Games "no longer have the rights to Brass", despite EGG planning to launch a Kickstarter for a deluxe version of Brass on July 16, 2015. Rick Soued, CEO of EGG, has responded on BGG, stating that "Eagle Games has an entirely valid and up-to-date contract with Martin for the publication rights to Brass and he is well aware of that", to which Wallace has responded with an excerpt of the contract. Much armchair lawyering is underway in this thread should you care to participate.

(Wallace named Soued as "owner of Eagle Gryphon, FRED and Funagain" in his original post. Nick Medinger from Funagain has stated that Soued "no longer owns any part of Funagain. This has been true for almost 2 years now. I say this as the guy who runs the daily operations of Funagain." Thus ends my participation in this discussion.)
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Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:31 am
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New Game Round-up: Terra in English, Steam Works for the English & Zombies Assault Those Who Speak English

W. Eric Martin
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Friedemann Friese's Terra, a sequel to his Spiel des Jahres-nominated Fauna was released by German publisher HUCH! & friends in late 2014, and the cry went up immediately for an English-language version. After all, what good is a text-heavy party game when the text is in a language you don't speak? (Well, it's good for pedagogical purposes, but most people aren't looking for that when they pick up a game.)

In any case, U.S. publisher Bézier Games has now announced that it will release Terra in English, with the game being available for demoing at Gen Con 2015 and debuting at Spiel 2015 in October. As for what the game is, here's an overview:

Quote:
How tall is the Burj Khalifa? How deep is Lake Baikal? When was the Tower Bridge first opened?

In Terra, players are taken on a trip around the globe, visiting all the world's most famous sights, up to the highest mountain tops, onto the smallest islands, and into the depths of the deepest seas. From the equator to the Earth's poles, there's lots to discover! Who knows how long the Amazon River really is? Or where the world's steepest street is? Even if you don't know with certainty, you still have a good chance to become the world's greatest explorer. Points are also awarded if you come close.

Ted Alspach from Bézier says that the scoring has been simplified in this version of the game. It contains three categories of questions with 300 topics, and the game board is double-sided, with the original metric map on one side and an Imperial measurements map on the other.

• Among the many titles that Tasty Minstrel Games plans to release in 2015 is Alex Churchill's Steam Works, which features steamily appropriate artwork by Adam McIver. Here's a rundown of this design:

Quote:
Inventors and tinkerers abound in the Victorian era, harnessing the power of clockwork, steam, and electricks to build machines capable of anything to give glory to Queen Victoria!

In the steampunk worker placement game Steam Works, you'll put your mechanics to work collecting components and power sources, then you'll literally build devices by assembling those sources and components. What's more, those devices in turn become action spaces for other players to use!

Each player takes on an inventor persona with unique starting components or special abilities accessible only to themselves. But the heart of the game is in assembling modular component tiles into a device for other players to use. Sources may provide one or more of the three power types — clockwork, steam, or Tesla-style electrickal power — to the components connected to them, which in turn provide a wide range of effects for gaining resources, prestige points, or more component tiles. Devices start simple with just two components (one source and one component), but devices with three, four or more components will become possible — as soon as the players assemble a device to let it be possible. Because of the modular mix-and-match nature of the components, the available action spaces vary widely from one game to the next, providing great replayability: each game players will create devices never seen before!

• What's more, in a June 16, 2015 newsletter, Michael Mindes from TMG mentions that the publisher will be releasing My Village from Inka and Markus Brand, a title originating from eggertspiele, which also published the Brand's Kennerspiel des Jahres-winning Village in 2011.

• Those darn zombies just won't stop! GreenBrier Games has announced a sequel to Zpocalypse titled Zpocalypse 2: Defend the Burbs with the players now taking refuge in the relatively well-off suburbs before they're inevitably assaulted by zombie hordes. In slightly more detail:

Quote:
Zpocalypse 2: Defend The Burbs is a standalone tower defense-style game, evolved from the original Zpocalypse, a survival board game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Like the original, two to five players each control their own squad of survivors equipped to the teeth with weapons, food, and items. In this game, your actions as squad leader allow the survivors to choose their tasks on the daily action board. Each choice has limited space and will come with benefits (potential for more supplies) and costs (like all things in the Zpocalypse, it's never pleasant!)

With gained experience, your survivors level up on a variety skills. Rather than picking your path for you as in the original game, now you have the ability to carve out your survival scenario for yourself, but be careful what you wish for.
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Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:00 am
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Space, Sports, Spells & A Spot on the Wall of My Gallery

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Okay, Matt Riddle has tackled some of what's undergoing crowdfunding in the world of games right now, and I aim to tackle...more of it in this post. Not all of it, good heavens, no — just enough to clear my inbox and make me feel that I'm finally getting the ground under my feet again.

• Let's start with a pair of titles from Tasty Minstrel GamesEminent Domain: Exotica and Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers. The former, from ED designer Seth Jaffee, adds new, somewhat (shall we say) exotic things to that deck-building game, while the latter from Philip duBarry is a quick-playing battlecruiser firefight set in the ED universe but not integrable with those other games. (KS link)

• Another space-y game being funded via KS is Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis from Stan and Mike Strickland and Outer Limit Games, with this 4X game being suitable for 1-5 players. (KS link)

Dragon War: Riders of Ashara from Timothy Gerritsen and Artisan Games shows that including minis in a game is not a surefire recipe for success if no one ever hears about your game. The BGG forum is vacant, and with less than 10% of funding on a steep goal, those dragons will probably be circling for a while before they find a home in which to land. (KS link)

Scoundrel Society from Action Phase Games and designers Travis R. Chance and Nick Little is a simultaneous action game in which you're trying to outsteal everyone else at the table, preferably stealing the stuff that will net you the most points. (KS link)

Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach from Chris Taylor and Zero Radius Games is based on the Pillars of Eternity computer game and has players going on adventures and attacking their opponents' cities. (KS link)

• I'm at a loss when it comes to football (a.k.a. soccer), so I have zero ability to differentiate Masters of Football from Thinking of a Number and the designing quartet of Natário, Pacheco, Rosario and Silva from any other game about football. Rather than focus only on the game itself, this design goes broader, allowing players to manage a team through an entire season: "This means, beside playing the matches, you will build your squad and control different resources (money and evolution, anti football, strategy and even corruption cards are available) to win the matches and, in the end, be the champion!" Very timely. (KS link)

• To continue in the sports vein (sort of), Fisticuffs! from The Nerdologues is a card-based punching game for 4-6 players. (KS link)

• Also sporty is Papercarz, a racing game for 2-6 players from Davide Ghelfi in which you build papercraft cars and the game board itself. (Indiegogo link)

• Designer Ignacy Trzewiczek has put together a second volume of Board Games That Tell Stories, and as with the first volume, other game designers are promising to contribute stories to the collection as the campaign progresses. This book contains stories from 2013 and 2014 from Trzewiczek's BGG Blog, as well as new stories and photos of past prototypes. (KS link)

Foe Hunters from Larry Lembcke and Spellforge Games is a "co-operative, multiplayer deckbuilding/adventure game set in the realm of high fantasy" with players being responsible for tracking said foes. (KS link)

• Can Patreon work as a funding platform for game development and publication? Designer Charlie Bink is testing this possibility with the deck-building game BuildaBeast. (Patreon link)

• Do you have 10 minutes to kill? If you back a game by Benoit Bannier and La Boite de jeu — a game in which each player has a secret identity among the sixteen characters on the board and wants to off three targets from among that crew — then the answer might be yes. (KS link)

Jolly Roger Games showed off 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis from designers Granerud and Pedersen at the 2015 Origins Game Fair, and two-player card game that's reminiscent of Twilight Struggle has fewer than thirteen days remaining on Kickstarter. To learn more about the game, the designers have posted more than a dozen designer diary entries in "Sidekicking", a BGG blog about 13 Days. (KS link)

Grail Games is trying to fund 101.1, an expansion for David Harding's One Zero One, a two-player game themed on computer programming. (KS link)

Petri Wars from Michel Grenier and Angry Duck Games is, according to the publisher, "an infectious game of deception, devouring and domination", and who doesn't love infections, right? (KS link)

• Finally, we have Vital Lacerda's The Gallerist, which is coming from Eagle-Gryphon Games before the end of 2015 and which features an entrancing cover design. (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 Jun 21, 2015 6:00 am
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Monster Trucks, Dark Lords, Planets Go Kablooie, & ZombicidapocalypseZ (Or Something Like That)

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Con season is here! I love the summer because my lovely wife is a teacher, so she and my girls are home and everything decompresses for a couple of months. More vacation, more hanging out, more fun. I love summer — and I love cons! Origins was a blast and Gen Con is right around the corner. I had a chance to play a few copies of games — or at least witness plays of a few games — that are live on KS right now. Also, I bought Monstertorte at Origins and it's amazeballs. Luckily my daughters like it, too.

• Up first is Monster Truck Mayhem from Dice Hate Me Games and world class designers Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback. (KS link) Yay for shameless self promotion! One of the advantages of writing this thing is that I get to pick the games and so yeah, I mean I am covering my own game but will do so with my normal journalistic, objective detachment... MONSTER TRUCK MAYHEM IS THE BEST GAME EVER DESIGNED OR PLAYED ANYWHERE EVER. Like for reals. Monster Truck Mayhem is real-time, dice-rolling, monster truck madness. It is a true race in which the first person to compete a lap around the SuperMegaDome wins. There are car crushes, bus jumps, mud pits, death chasm, monster truck announcing, and more. I am SUPER happy how this game turned out. The art is from Benjamin Raynal of King of Tokyo, and the bits are great big and chunky and high quality. There is a lot in the box. That does mean the price ended up a bit higher than was expected — $39 + shipping – but it's worth it. MTM is off to a decent start but could use some love, so check it out.

Quote:
In Monster Truck Mayhem, players simultaneously roll their dice to race around the SuperMegaDome track, and the winner is the first player to cross the finish line!

SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! Monster Truck Mayhem is invading the SuperMegaDome! Brought to you by Ridback Pub, 101 The Animal, and Big Al's Sound Emporium, this thrill show spectacular will BLOW YOUR MIND! All your favorite trucks and more will be there...AND SO SHOULD YOU! Car crushing, mud sliding, bus jumping, and general mayhem for only $39! Less than FORTY BUCKS gets you the whole seat...but you will only need the edge Edge EDGE!

It is a TON of fun, I promise. Dice Hate Me went with a "no stretch goals" approach that I think is pretty cool. Any thoughts on that?

• KS vet Nevermore Games is seeking funding for Dark Dealings. (KS link) I did not get a chance to play this, but it was played near me. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. It is For Sale–ish: filler but with good decisions. It is a very well put together package.

Quote:
In Dark Dealings, players take on the roles of Dark Lords. You've managed to annoy the locals just enough for them to muster heroes bent on evicting you from your dark tower. Now you must impress your Dark Masters, beings not meant to be known by ordinary man, by taking on the most fiercest of heroes. Doing so will get you mighty defenses you'll use to hopefully evade eviction. Last longer than your fellow Dark Lords (other players) and you will win Dark Dealings.

Most fiercest? I think that is the most worstest English in this post. Well, except all the barely intelligible crap I wrote. Have fun editing this one, W. Eric! (Editor's note: I'm used to it by now. —WEM)

Cosmic Kaboom is being published by Minion Games and is the second game from them and designer Matt Loomis. (KS link) It was nice of Kit Fisto and Star Fox to agree to be in the game. Good celebrity endorsements! I have played Cosmic Kaboom several times and truly enjoy it. It is flicking, so you can only be as good as your index finger allows, but there are very well done and fun powers and enough strategy and luck to keep everyone – even terrible flickers – engaged.

Having played it, I really expected this game to be doing much better. It is on pace to fund, so it will get out there to backers and that is important. A friend was discussing this game and Monster Truck Mayhem and speculated that it may be difficult to "show the fun" of games like these with an important physical or speed element via the interwebs. These are the kinda games that you play at a con or demo at a store, then buy immediately. I can tell you this game is fun, so check it out. The components are great, the art is well done — if maybe the cover is a bit overdone for what the game is, but better overdone then underdone.

Quote:
Cosmic Kaboom is a dexterity flicking game in which players fly around space collecting energy to power up space bombs which are used to eradicate the planets of their enemies. The dynamic play area allows you to play on any size surface.

Each player controls three planets in their color scattered throughout the board. One of these planets houses an energy crystal that supplies players with an energy cube of that color when their ship is flicked into this planet. After an energy cube of each player color is collected, you may toss the space bomb onto the board in an attempt to blow up the other player's planets. Each planet is worth points (shown on the back of the planet) that you earn when blowing it up.

Advancement cards that provide player powers or bonuses to aid in your conquest are given to players throughout the game. The game continues until either one entire color of planets has been destroyed, or the majority of the planets have been destroyed. Whoever has the most points becomes the ruler of the universe!

The guy with ram horns looks pissed. He must suck at flicking.

• I wouldn't want to miss out on my quota of farm animal related games this month, so here is Zombicide: Black Plague from Cool Mini or Not. (KS link) Well, okay. I kid. It is not actually farm animal related. Honestly, this is probably the first month in a long time there wasn't at least one farm-related game I could find to cover. People love cows, so it is an easy mark. Too bad.

But you know what people love more? Zombies! And minis! Zombicide is KILLING it. It has already made a bajillion dollars and seeking more. Zombies and minis are both pretty far off my gaming radar, but I know this is the preeminent zombie minis game series going right now. Based on their backer total, you have already checked it out!

Quote:
Zombicide: Black Plague is a standalone cooperative boardgame for 1-6 players that brings the relentless zombie-killing action of Zombicide into a brand new fantasy setting! Players control a party of survivors as they fight to rid the land of an invasion of zombies controlled by the game itself. Survivors find weapons, learn spells, battle zombies, and gain experience. The more experienced they get, the more powerful they become, but the more zombies rise to face them!

Are all Zombicides co-op? I feel like I should play one just so that I can say I have. I used to get it mixed up with Zpocalypse.

Quick Hits

HOPE from Morning Players is a very attractive looking game. I HOPE they get more backers. (KS link)

Quote:
HOPE features a multi-dimensional board (an optical illusion) with an ever-shifting frame of reference, asymmetric player powers, and semi-cooperation between players. (Only one player will win, but if the universe collapses, all players lose.) As an elite member of the Human Organization to Preserve Existence (H.O.P.E), you are tasked with saving the universe by jumping to the far reaches of space, terraforming hostile planets into habitable worlds, and seeding new civilizations with life.

• Hold on! I found my farm animal themed game: Sheep Happens. It's about sheep and goats. Sheep Happens? Get it, you know cause instead of the other s-h word it is sheep! Hey-o! People must love goats. They are the new zombies. (KS link)

Quote:
Sheep happens is a brand new card game about the endless war between sheep and goats. The game is quite simple, but despite the simplicity of the game rules, the strategies that can be used to beat your enemy are really varied.

MONSTROUS is a card-throwing game with good art. (KS link)

Quote:
MONSTROUS is a tactical dexterity game. Every turn you need to choose the best monster card to throw and combine with location powers — and the monstrous mayhem on the table. Can you spot the best combinations? Do you go for that long shot worth more points, or play it safe with an easy throw? Do you lay a Gorgon as a trap in the thick of the action or punch through a scrum of monsters with your Hydra to reach the mortals beneath? Then you hurl your mythic monster down at the mortals. The fate of the Pantheon is in your hands.

Mare Nostrum from Academy Games is a grail game that is killing it on KS with a reprint. Sometimes grail games are not reprinted for a reason, but clearly there was a demand for this one as it is raking it in. (KS link)

Quote:
Mare Nostrum is all about the expansion of one's lands, the construction of new cities, and the dispatching of caravans to take advantage of rare commodities that can either be traded or exploited to build constructions and eventually wonders of the world.

Diplomacy and trade are but one path to greatness. The expansion of your navy and armies can take what should be rightfully yours. Hiring great leaders will further expand your boundaries in quick time.

Controlling a combined total of four Wonders and/or Leaders or being the first to build the Pyramids will assure victory — but there are many hurdles to overcome to achieve such heights.

Epic from White Wizard Games was already covered in detail by W. Eric Martin. Not my bag, but it IS pretty and has a good pedigree. (KS link)

• Last but not least is Apotheca from Andrew Federspiel and Knapsack Games. (KS link) This is another great looking production. It looks abstracty in a good way. When I started writing these things about two years ago, not every project looked good. There were plenty that were shaky. I am sure there still are plenty that are awful to look at, but overall KS creators have really stepped up their game.

Quote:
Apotheca is a 30-minute, potion-crafting strategy game for 2-4 players ages 14 and up.

Devise your plans by hiding ingredients in the marketplace. Reveal secrets to collect precious gems. Recruit powerful apothecaries to do your bidding. The first apprentice to make three potions becomes a member of the secret potion society!

Only clever folk can navigate this mysterious market. Can you master the world of Apotheca?

Going, Going, Gone

12 Realms: Bedtime Story from MAGE Company is the newest game in the 12 Realms series: a family-oriented storytelling game with top notch production values. (KS link)

Quote:
12 Realms is a co-op adventure game, letting whole families determine the fate of imaginative worlds where anything is possible. 12 Realms offers players the chance to act as fairy tale heroes—everyone from Sinbad and King Arthur to Red Riding Hood, Nutcracker, Robin Hood and beyond.

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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22 Comments
Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:48 pm
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