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BoardGameGeek News

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

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SPIEL 2016 XIII: Barcelona: The Rose of Fire, Crisis, Pax Renaissance, Bios: Genesis, Russian Railroads: American Railroads, and First Class: Unterwegs im Orient Express

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• This overview video of Barcelona: The Rose of Fire that BGG recorded at SPIEL 2016 is under eight minutes long, but co-designer Francesco Nepitello runs through a lot of information and detail in that time, such as Devir's commissioning of the game from him and Marco Maggi, the huge amount of time spent on the game's graphic design, and the inherent gameability of Barcelona itself.





• A country in Crisis — can you use your workers to rebuild businesses and get the economy moving again? LudiCreations Kickstarted this design by Pantelis Bouboulis and Sotirios Tsantilas, and it ran out of copies before SPIEL 2016 ended.





Phil and Matt Eklund invite you to take the role of an influential European banker who will finance kings, sponsor travel, and otherwise try to influence the future of Europe in Pax Renaissance from Sierra Madre Games.





• A second new title from SMG at SPIEL 2016 was Phil Eklund's Bios: Genesis, a game that attempts to recreate the dawn of organic life in its most basic forms, with players representing proteins and worrying about how to absorb and store energy.





• Helmut Ohley, co-designer of Russian Railroads, and Hans im Glück, publisher of same, have combined once again to release a new train-based game: First Class: Unterwegs im Orient Express, a card game in which players use the base cards and two of the five modules included in order to build a rail network on a quest for fame points.





• Speaking of Russian Railroads, new player boards await in Russian Railroads: American Railroads to provide new strategies for a familiar game.

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New Game Round-up: CMON Welcomes Lorenzo and Council of 4, Antiquity Returns Anew, and Richard Breese Announces a Keyper

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Time for a break from the continuing wave of SPIEL 2016 game demo videos — only ninety more to go! — to post about other things:

Cool Mini Or Not, now using the handle "CMON Limited", has announced that it will release Lorenzo il Magnifico — which debuted at SPIEL 2016 from Italian publisher Cranio Creations and designers Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, and Simone Luciani — in English in Q2 2017 with no changes to the packaging or gameplay.

At the same time, CMON Limited will also release an updated version of Council of 4 from Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, with the gameplay being identical to the original 2015 release from Cranio Creations, but with new graphics and plastic miniatures to give the game a snazzier, more-CMON feel.



• Dutch publisher Splotter Spellen has confirmed that it will reprint the long-out-of-print Antiquity in 2017. Says co-designer Joris Wiersinga, "We do not yet know anything more and are not taking orders yet, as we would first like to get all the Indonesia and Zimbabwe boxes out of the door", those two titles having been reprinted in 2016.

• SPIEL 2016 darling Round House will "be quickly to the U.S.", according to Taiwanese publisher EmperorS4 Games, but no details yet of a distribution plan or co-publisher.

• An English-language version of Junta: Las Cartas "will probably be released in 2017" according to Pegasus Spiele editor Andre Bronswijk.

• The next title coming from ADC Blackfire Entertainment GmbH is King's Will from Hans-Peter Stoll, with this title due out in February 2017 according to editor Uli Blennemann. Here's a one-line description of the design, followed by a prototype pic from December 2015: "In King's Will, players must discover the victory point conditions over the course of the game, while also deciding on their own individual scoring."



• Getting a jump on SPIEL 2017 — yes, already! — designer Richard Breese of R&D Games has announced that he will release Keyper in late 2017. Breese has published a GeekList explaining some aspects of the gameplay, the history of the Key-series of games, and his plans to Kickstart a special edition of this game starting in November 2016, but here's an overview of the gameplay for those who want the summarized version:

Quote:
In the worker placement game Keyper, when one player places a keyple on their country board, another player can join them with a matching colored keyple on the first player's turn to the benefit of both players. In this way some players are likely to have played all their keyples before others. All keyples have the potential to work twice. If a player has played all of their keyples, but another player still has some, then on their turn the player with no remaining keyples can lay down one or more keyples on the country board they have claimed or in their village board to secure additional resources or actions. It can therefore be doubly beneficial to co-operate with your fellow players, although Keyper is not a co-operative game in the usual sense of the term.

The country boards are also noteworthy in that they can be manipulated and folded at the beginning of summer, autumn and winter to show one of four different permutations of fields for that season. A player will chose the one to suit their strategy, often hoping that another player will complement their choice. Certain fields on the country boards are available only in certain seasons, e.g., raw materials can be upgraded to finished goods only in spring and summer after which you can only convert using tiles in your own village. Gem mining occurs only in autumn and winter.

A player's strategy is likely to be influenced by which (seeded) spring country tiles they acquire and by the particular colored keyples they have available in the later seasons. Different combinations will encourage a player to develop their farm or village, help with their shipping or mining activities, and prepare for the seasonal fairs. Players constantly need to evaluate whether or not to join other players, when to claim a country board, whether to play on their own or another player's country board, when to use their own village, and whether to create a large or small team of keyples for the following season. The winner is the player to gain the most points, usually through pursuing at least a couple of the different strategies.

Breese has also worked with Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules! to produce an overview video that shows the game boards in action:

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SPIEL 2016 XII: IELLO Yarns — Kanagawa, The Mysterious Forest, Around the World in 80 Days, Welcome Back to the Dungeon, and Tales & Games: Aladdin & the Magic Lamp

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Kanagawa from Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier highlights French publisher IELLO's strength as a publisher: Doing whatever it takes to make a game as beautiful as possible. The game board isn't really needed for play assuming you can memorize which cards to lay out face down based on the number of players, but the use of bamboo in the creation of this board — which rolls up to fit in the box — makes it something that you want to have on the table and adds to the thematic nature of this game, which asks you to be an artist and create something beautiful yourself.





• Carlo A. Rossi's The Mysterious Forest transforms Daniel Lieske's Wormworld Saga into a cooperative game in which young explorers need to collect the right equipment so that they can make their way through said forest.





Welcome Back to the Dungeon sees Antoine Bauza recreating Masato Uesugi's Welcome to the Dungeon, keeping the gameplay the same while introducing four new adventurers with new equipment to test players' bravery in a new way.





• Tiago Damey's Aladdin & the Magic Lamp is the newest title in Purple Brain Creations' Tales & Games series, with IELLO distributing the title in Europe and the U.S. Each round, players decide how much risk they want to take when searching for treasure in the cave that holds the lamp, with players racing to rub the lamp when they conflict on what they want to do.





• In addition to its Tales & Games line for players of all ages, Purple Brain Creations is launching a literature line for slightly older players, with the first title being Around the World in 80 Days, which takes David Parlett's Hare & Tortoise and adapts it to Phileas Fogg's journey from and to London, with players now needing to manage a supply of pounds instead of carrots.

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SPIEL 2016 XI: The Oracle of Delphi, Istanbul: Letters & Seals, HOP!, Argo, and SHOOT Card Game

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Stefan Feld blanketed the game market with four titles from four publishers in 2013, followed by a light 2014 with only two releases before taking off 2015 altogether. Well, that's how it seems from the outside, but Feld and developer Ralph Bruhn from Hall Games were working on The Oracle of Delphi throughout 2015, with the game debuting from Pegasus Spiele at SPIEL 2016 (and due out in the U.S. from Tasty Minstrel Games in November 2016).

Unlike most Feld designs, The Oracle of Delphi is effectively a race game, with players competing to be the first to complete the twelve tasks of Zeus.





Istanbul: Letters & Seals is the second expansion for Rüdiger Dorn's Istanbul from Pegasus Spiele, with AEG releasing the game in the U.S. in November 2016. This expansion, which can also be combined with the first one, allows you to pick up sealed letters, then upgrade those seals by visiting a particular location. You can then use the seals to take a second turn or earn a gem from one of the existing locations.





• The most visually delightful booth presentation at SPIEL 2016 had to be for Funforge's HOP! from Marie Cardouat and Ludovic Maublanc, a family game in which players try to complete dares to ascend the clouds and score points. I've included a pic of the booth that I took during set-up day, which unfortunately doesn't include the game presenters as they wore rainbow socks and unicorn horns to complete the festive look of the booth. As for the gameplay, well, that's what the video is for...






Argo has been in the works from Bruno Faidutti and Serge Laget for at least a decade, with the game having been promised from Fantasy Flight Games back in the mid-2000s before being released to find another publisher. Flatlined Games took on the project in 2013, and now the game — one in which you're trying to survive an alien attack in space and make it to the shuttles before everyone else, but with more points than the aliens so that you can win — finally exists in a manufactured form.





• One good and bad thing about broadcasting game demonstrations at SPIEL 2016 is that we make a complete schedule starting roughly one month prior to the show. We contact publishers listed on the SPIEL Preview that I create, then fill out five days of presentations, with a new game being presented roughly every ten minutes for the forty or so hours that we plan to broadcast. Creating that schedule helps me realize who I need to track down for coverage in the preview, and that preview keeps me chasing those publishers and designers who we know people want to see.

The drawback to that full schedule is that we have a hard time fitting in anyone else that we might run across at SPIEL, and hoo boy, do we have a lot of people approach us who want to be on camera! Sometimes, though, we actually get ahead of schedule for ten minutes, and when that rare event happens we grab someone near us who seems interesting and shove them in front of the camera — which is how Erik Atzen of Game Absorber came to present SHOOT, a first-person shooter card game that can be played in any environment, in the BGG booth.

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SPIEL 2016 X: Portal Games Portfolio — First Martians, Alien Artifacts, Imperial Settlers: Aztecs, Robinson Crusoe, Stronghold: Undead, Cry Havoc: Aftermath, and Neuroshima Hex! Death Breath

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Portal Games had a phenomenal booth at SPIEL 2016 that was probably three times the size of its booth the previous year, and in addition to celebrating the opening of a division in Germany that will now release its own titles in German (instead of licensing them to other publishers), Portal Games also had plenty to share about what's coming in 2017.

In the seven videos below, none longer than 2:35, Ignacy Trzewiczek displays master "elevator pitch" skills for both the newly released and the newly anticipated titles in Portal's catalog, starting with Imperial Settlers: Aztecs, which debuted at SPIEL 2016.




• The other new expansion debuting at the fair was Neuroshima Hex! Death Breath, which features a faction that you might think twice about killing.





• The second edition of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island also debuted in Essen at SPIEL 2016, with the gameplay being the same as in the original game while everything else had been revised.




Stronghold: Undead is also getting a second edition, following on the heels of the second edition of the Stronghold base game in early 2016.




Cry Havoc: Aftermath, an expansion for Gen Con 2016 darling Cry Havoc, brings new skills and buildings to the table for each faction to provide mroe variety of play.




First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet, which I first previewed in February 2016, is nearing completion in terms of the design and should be released in the first half of 2017.





Alien Artifacts from Marcin Ropka and Viola Kijowska is a 4X-style game that Portal Games will demo at BGG.CON 2016 in November to start the buzz machine ahead of the game's release at Gen Con 2017.

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Crowdfunding Round-up: Spell Deities Smartly to Win Your Day in Court

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• You know what probably doesn't need any attention in this space? Mythic Battles: Pantheon, the new version of Benoit Vogt's Mythic Battles from Monolith and Mythic Games that has already racked up more than $500,000 in backing within a few days on the strength of the game itself and a huge backer list from Monolith's Conan KS.

That said, I interviewed Mythic Games at SPIEL 2016 after seeing a bit of the game and artwork at a press event at Gen Con 2016, and I'm impressed at the package they've put together. We got to play at Gen Con for only 15 minutes as their presentation ran long, but the gameplay elements seem smooth before you start complicating it and blowing up the possibilities with all the expansions. (KS link)

• Believe it or not, an even bigger haul is going on with Flying Frog Productions' Shadows of Brimstone: Forbidden Fortress, with this title being a standalone expansion to Jason C. Hill's other Shadows of Brimstone games that's set in feudal Japan. (KS link)

Beer Empire from Filip Głowacz, Ireneusz Huszcza, and Board&Dice is an evolved version of their 2013 release Piwne Imperium with players trying to create recipes for new brews. (KS link)

• A similarly reworked design is Gil Hova's Wordsy, first released as Prolix in 2010 by Z-Man Games and now being published by Hova's own Formal Ferret Games. I played a few rounds with Hova and others during NY Toy Fair in February 2016, and the game seemed far smoother than I recalled Prolix being, with players being rewarded for using the letters on the table to come up with the largest word possible and not just for coming up with any word quickly — although being fast can be worth points as well as long as you find a better word than most other players. (KS link)

Level 99 Games, in partnership with Jasco Games, has two new Pixel Tactics games on tap for mid-2017: Mega Man Blue and Proto Man Red, with each standalone game featuring 28 different characters from the Mega Man titles that can be combined with each other or any other Pixel Tactics title. (KS link)

• The summary of Matthew Austin's Guild Masters from Mirror Box Games on its crowdfunding project pretty much says all that you need to know about whether you want to learn more or move along: "Expand your guild hall, hire unique workers, and craft magic items to build a legendary guild of heroes in this strategy board game." (KS link)

• Hunt down alien creatures and capture them while stymieing opponents from doing the same. That's the short version of Liz Gattra's Xenofera. (KS link)

Einstein: His Amazing Life and Incomparable Science from Dirk Knemeyer of Artana presents players with an amazing concept: You are each taking on the role of Albert Einstein at a different time in his life, and your goal is to complete your theories before all those other Einsteins. Bonus for those who care: This game includes Penrose tiles! (KS link)

• Richard Boreham's MetRum: London is mostly a standard rummy game in which you meld sets and runs, but the cards feature stations from the London underground, with the iconography being based on Harry Beck's London Underground Tube map. (KS link)

• Designer Clayton Grey of Laboratory Games is back on Kickstarter with two new versions of his deck-building dungeon-crawling 100 Swords: The Gold King's Dungeon and The Silver Queen's Dungeon. Each game challenges one or two players to use a small hand of cards in the best way possible, then to do it again and again until you finally beat the boss. For those who want to play with up to four, a Multi-User Dungeon Expansion Pack is also available through this campaign. (KS link)

• Jason Morningstar's Ghost Court from Bully Pulpit Games is a party game that pits ghosts against the living who are suing them. Lots of role-playing going on here with the judge and court officers hearing multiple cases from plaintiffs and defendants. (KS link)

• Is it possible to design a 4X game with only seventeen cards? Well, how about a 4X-style game? That's what Chip Beauvais promises with Universal Rule from publisher of tiny games Button Shy, although the stretch goals threaten to grossly inflate this game to twenty cards. Horrors! (KS link)

• I'm not even sure what to think of the GameSlate, "a PC peripheral [that] uses a multi-touch grid to enable multiple, simultaneous players around an interactive digital game board". The creator is looking for $190k in backing for a product that sells for $1,600 and comes with three games of a mostly unknown nature, and as of this moment (Nov. 3) the project has, um, $0 in support. An item like this probably needs a year or two of support at all of the major conventions (and many of the minor ones) in order to create awareness of its existence and a desire for it to be a reality. (KS link)

Gavin Birnbaum keeps making interesting, handmade all-wood designs through his own Cubiko Games, and Q.E. — presumably standing for "quantitative easing", although I don't see that term listed anwhere — pits four players against one another in the role of central banks that are bailing out sixteen companies that are "too big to fail", as the saying goes. (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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SPIEL 2016 IX: Railroad Revolution, Rhein: River Trade, The Flow of History, Fold-it, and Legends of Andor: The Last Hope

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• One of the most anticipated titles at SPIEL 2016 was Marco Canetta and Stefania Niccolini's Railroad Revolution from What's Your Game?. This German-Italian publisher typically releases one or more highly involved strategy games each year, and in this design players compete to build railroads and stations, expand telegraph networks, and increase the value of their companies as the railroad lines spread across the United States in the 19th century.





• The design team of Niccolini and Canetta are also responsible for Rhein: River Trade, which I added to the BGG database in December 2011, which was available for demo at SPIEL 2016, and which should finally be released before the end of 2016 from Giochi Uniti.





• Designer Jesse Li debuted with Guns & Steel, a condensed retelling of civilization, and his latest title — The Flow of History from Moaideas Game Design — covers the same thematic ground, but with a new game system.





• Every year brings the release of dozens of new real-time pattern-matching or pattern-recognition games, but every so often one stands out from the crowd, with my choice for SPIEL 2016 being Taeyun Goh's Fold-it from Happy Baobab. I love Jérôme Morin-Drouin's Manifold puzzles — originally self-published and now available from Brainwright — and Fold-it seems to hit the same spot in terms of difficulty and tactile pleasure.





• Michael Menzel's Andor game series at KOSMOS ends with Die Legenden von Andor: Die Letzte Hoffnung, a.k.a., Legends of Andor: The Last Hope, with this title being both expansion and standalone game. The title is out only in Germany for now, but I've pinged Thames & Kosmos about a date for release in English and will post an update when I know more.

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SPIEL 2016 VIII: Cottage Garden, Quartermaster General: 1914, Raise Your Goblets, Steam Park: Play Dirty/Robots, and Colt Express: Marshal & Prisoners

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• If you're going to launch a game company, you could hardly do better than to launch with a new Uwe Rosenberg title, which is just what Edition Spielwiese has done with Cottage Garden, which superficially resembles Rosenberg's Patchwork but which plays completely differently.





• Prisoners, a new bandit, a new train car, and a playable marshal that plays against all of the bandits on the train are what you'll find in Colt Express: Marshal & Prisoners, the second expansion for the Spiel des Jahres-winning Colt Express from Christophe Raimbault and Ludonaute.





• In this demo video, designer Ian Brody reveals the secret origin of the Quartermaster General series, including the latest release: Quartermaster General: 1914, which PSC Games debuted at SPIEL 2016.





• At Gen Con 2016, I got a preview of Tim Page's Raise Your Goblets from Cool Mini Or Not, which is releasing the title in the U.S. in partnership with original publisher Horrible Games. The short description of the game is a special-powered Princess Bride-style Battle of Wits, with all players trying not to die of poison while trying to ensure that their target for the round does take a long nap





• Publishers need to channel Goldilocks when determining the proper amount of time to wait before publishing an expansion for a game: not too soon or you look rapacious, and not too late or no one will care. Three years isn't that long of a wait in the real world, but we'll see how gamers feel about the release of Steam Park: Play Dirty and Steam Park: Robots, two expansions — one large and one small — that add multiple new elements to the original Steam Park game from Federico Latini, Lorenzo Silva, and Horrible Games.



While searching for a Steam Park logo to use in the thumbnail image of that video (before I decided to do what's currently in place), I ran across this pic of Beth and Lorenzo conducting a game demo at SPIEL 2013. Time flies like a banana!

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SPIEL 2016 VII: Ave Roma, Armageddon, Glüx, Deus: Egypt, & 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon

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• One of the interesting challenges about pulling together these SPIEL 2016 game demonstration video round-ups is deciding what makes the cut. In my first years of publishing such things, I'd include every video in a BGG News post, which took a crazy long amount of time, especially since I felt the need to comment on every video, which entailed watching most of them in detail.

Now I skim the videos to a much higher degree, post them all on the individual game pages, tweet most of them, and include a select few in these posts. Which few? Whichever ones seemed to attract the most buzz or positive feedback, whether before, at, or after the show. I know that Attila Szőgyi's Ave Roma from A-games received dozens of thumbs on our SPIEL 2016 Preview, but beyond that I knew nothing about the game. Thanks to this video, I now know more.





• For the past several years, Queen Games has been launching titles via Kickstarter before debuting them at game conventions such as Gen Con and SPIEL. For the second half of 2016, Queen went old school by debuting two titles that had received almost no advance publicity before their release at the fair, with one of those titles being Chris Marling and David Thompson's Armageddon, which challenges you to rebuild parts of society while trying to keep marauders from wrecking your stuff.





• Queen's other surprise title for SPIEL 2016 was Jakob Andrusch's Glüx, this being a light strategy game in which players try to fill areas on the game board with tokens that determine where they can place additional tokens in the future, while also scoring should they dominate the areas with their tokens.





• The biggest autobuy at SPIEL 2016 might have been 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon from Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala and Repos Production. The game ranks in the top ten here on BGG, and pretty much all most people needed to know was that this thing existed before deciding that they needed it in their lives.





• Another skinny box expansion at SPIEL 2016 was Deus: Egypt from Sébastien Dujardin and his company Pearl Games. This expansion includes 96 cards — as many as in the base game — with the cards being split across six colors, with players being able to swap all the blue cards from the base game with those in the expansion to create a new experience from familiar materials. Yes, you can use only the new cards, but Dujardin has vowed to track you down to make you regret that decision.

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SPIEL 2016 VI: Codenames: Pictures, Adrenaline, Alchemists: The King's Golem, Lorenzo il Magnifico, & Martians: A Story of Civilization

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• We've already featured Czech Games Edition's Codenames: Pictures in this space a number of times, but when designer Vlaada Chvátil from Czech Games Edition is coming to your booth at SPIEL 2016 to talk about the game, you set aside a few minutes to host him — and here he is!





• CGE also presented Filip Neduk's Adrenaline, a first-person shooter that plays completely like a Eurogame — except for all the shooting.





Alchemists: The King's Golem from Matúš Kotry and CGE gives you four new parts to mix and match for the Alchemists base game, with some bits providing simple variety and the final part, "The Golem Project", challenging you to bring a clay creature to life.





• "Whoever hasn't prayed enough will suffer hard penalties." That's one of the promises presented to players of Lorenzo il Magnifico, a worker placement game from designers Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, and Simone Luciani and publisher Cranio Creations set during the Italian Renaissance.





Martians: A Story of Civilization from Grzegorz Okliński, Krzysztof Wolicki, and REDIMP GAMES was the other Mars game at SPIEL 2016, Terraforming Mars being the first, of course. (Yes, a third Mars game was also at the fair, but I didn't see or hear much of it.) No matter which way you choose to play the game — and you have four choices available to you — the game is all about surviving and building a better future for all who occupy the red planet both now and in the years ahead.

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