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Zev Shlasinger Suing Dan Yarrington for Fraud and Breach of Contract

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On June 29, 2016, Zev Shlasinger and Paul Gerardi filed suit against Dan Yarrington and Myriad Games, Yarrington's game retail operation in New Hampshire, alleging that Yarrington committed "Fraud and Breach of Contract". (Shlasinger and Gerardi both formerly worked for Z-Man Games, with Shlasinger having founded Z-Man Games before selling it to Filosofia's Sophie Gravel in 2011; Shlasinger is currently employed by WizKids, and Yarrington owns Game Salute, but none of the game publishers listed here are involved with this lawsuit.) Here is Shlasinger's summary of the case:

Quote:
ZaP’D Games LLC was formed by Zev Shlasinger, Paul Gerardi, and Dan Yarrington/Myriad Games LLC in order to open a retail game store on Staten Island, NY. The store opened in January 2013, but closed 15 months later.

ZaP’D Games, LLC alleges that the store closed due to its partner, Dan Yarrington, committing Fraud and Breach of Contract.

Yarrington is being sued in US District Court in the District of New Hampshire.

Here are two news articles from January 2013 about the opening of the game store in Staten Island — one from DNAinfo and the other from SILive, with both referring to the store as "Myriad Games", as does the Yelp listing.

Here is the amended complaint filed in US District Court on July 8, 2016. (The initial complaint listed only Shlasinger and Gerardi as plaintiffs and Yarrington as defendant, but the complaint was amended to include ZaP'D Games as plaintiff and Myriad Games as defendant.)















Dan Yarrington has issued the following response to Shlasinger's publicizing of the lawsuit, noting: "We are unable to comment further at this time as this is ongoing litigation."



[Disclosure: I know all parties involved and have emailed Shlasinger and Yarrington multiple times to request information about games and publishing. I used to shop at Myriad Games when I lived in New Hampshire, and Yarrington approached me with an employment opportunity in 2010 after BoardgameNews.com, the site I formerly edited, imploded. Game Salute, Z-Man Games, and WizKids all have business relationships with BoardGameGeek, but I'm not involved with those relationships in any way and try to know as little about such activities as possible. —WEM]
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Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:00 pm
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Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop Parting Ways

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In early September 2016, PDF files for titles like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay disappeared from DriveThruRPG, leading some to speculate that Fantasy Flight Games had lost the license to material from Games Workshop. (In June 2016, game news site Bell of Lost Souls reported that Games Workshop had attended the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas and was looking for licensees for video games, entertainment, apparel, collectables, publishing, and toys for such brands as Talisman, Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, Warhammer 40,000, and Warhammer Fantasy Battle.)

Today, Fantasy Flight Games has stated that no new Games Workshop-related titles will be announced and that all GW-related titles that it has published will disappear from its catalog on February 28, 2017. Here's the press release announcing this separation:

Quote:
In 2008, Fantasy Flight Games first began publishing great games set in the amazing Games Workshop universes. From the earliest days of the partnership, Games Workshop played a key role in the Fantasy Flight Games library, helping us further develop roleplaying games like Dark Heresy and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, while creating and establishing new board games like Chaos in the Old World and Forbidden Stars, and Living Card Games such as Warhammer 40,000: Conquest and Warhammer: Invasion.

Games Workshop has been a fantastic partner for the past eight years, and we're thrilled that we had the opportunity to work together and bring so many new and exciting games into the world. As much as we have enjoyed creating these games, our current licensing term is coming to an end.

Beginning February 28th, 2017, Fantasy Flight Games will no longer offer for sale any games in conjunction with Games Workshop, including Talisman and all games taking place in the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 universes.

We're extremely grateful to our friends at Games Workshop for giving us the opportunity to play in the worlds that they created, and we wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.

Fantasy Flight Games included the following FAQ in its press release that details exactly which games and game lines are leaving its catalog:

Quote:
What is the timeframe for the conclusion of the business relationship?

All upcoming products for Games Workshop-licensed games have already been announced and will be released in upcoming months. All Games Workshop-licensed product lines will leave the Fantasy Flight Games catalog on February 28th, 2017.

What does this mean for Fantasy Flight Games products created from Games Workshop properties?

As stated above, after February 28th, 2017, product lines dealing with Games Workshop properties will end and will no longer be offered for sale by Fantasy Flight Games.

All upcoming products for these product lines have already been announced — there will be no new announcements of additional Games Workshop-licensed products. All announced, currently unreleased products will be released before the conclusion of the business relationship between Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop.

The full list of product lines leaving the Fantasy Flight Games catalog is:

Black Crusade
Blood Bowl: Team Manager
Chaos in the Old World
Chaos Marauders
Dark Heresy
Dark Heresy Second Edition
Deathwatch
Forbidden Stars
Fury of Dracula
Only War
Relic
Rogue Trader
Space Hulk: Death Angel
Talisman
Warhammer: Diskwars
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Warhammer: Invasion The Card Game
Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game
Warhammer 40,000: Conquest
• All Fantasy Flight Supply products showing imagery licensed to Games Workshop

What does this mean for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest Organized Play?

Organized Play support for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest will conclude this year at the Fantasy Flight Games World Championships. After the 2016 World Championships, there will be no Organized Play support for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest.

Retailers: All pre-orders for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest Store Championship Kits and Quarter 1 Tournament Kits have been canceled. These kits have been discontinued and will not be released. Retailers will not be charged for these kits.
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Fri Sep 9, 2016 3:08 pm
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Links: CMON and Ultra PRO Acquire, Portal Expands, and Hanjin Stops

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• A lot of announcements (and other things) piled up in the inbox during Gen Con, and I'm only now clearing them out, such as the news that Cool Mini Or Not (technically CMON Limited) "acquired all branding and intellectual property rights for the successful Zombicide franchise from Guillotine Games". David Preti, Director of Guillotine Games, has become Creative Director of CMON Limited, and Guillotine Games will continue to work exclusively with CMON.

• CMON also signed a deal with Good Games Publishing to "co-brand, market and distribute the new Australian publisher's board games in all French and English territories outside of Australia and New Zealand", with GGP's Monstrous due out in Q3 2016 and Unfair planned for release in Q4 2016.

• Similarly, CMON announced that it would co-publish John Hawkins and Michelle Menard's Gateway: Uprising with FishWizard Press, which had developed the game and run an unsuccessful Kickstarter for it in 2015. Here's an overview of the game, now due out in Q1 2017:

Quote:
Players of the deck-building card game Gateway: Uprising take on the roles of insurgent wizards determined to reclaim the Great City of Gateway.

Each player begins with the game with the same starter resources of basic insurgent wizards, merchants, and a magical Runestone — but from there the similarities end. Players will draft new wizards, heroes, and magical creatures into their ranks, building up an army to defeat and defend the different districts of Gateway.

After successfully liberating a district, the player gains access to its unusual power, such as cheaper resources, additional defenses, or even the ability to magically damage foes from afar. Be warned: Not only will other rebel insurgents attempt to steal your districts away from you, but you'll also have to battle against the forces of Chancellor Gideon and an invading onslaught of terrible monsters called the Drueggar.

To aid you in this are Runestones: powerful one-time-use spells that can turn the tide of battle instantly or provide the player with a temporary boost to his coffers. However, once used, Runestones become empty shells and are discarded for the remainder of the game.

To win the game, players must collect victory points by defeating the city guard and Drueggar Horde, controlling important districts, or through special insurgent abilities they draft into their ranks. Don't delay and play the waiting game; if the Drueggar manage to take all the city districts, it’s game over for both the insurgents and the innocent citizens of Gateway!

Perhaps Cool Mini Or Not needs a new tagline to go with its hew logo: "We Try Harder".




Ultra PRO announced a deal in which it will "acquire the rights to Stone Blade Entertainment's tabletop games portfolio", which primarily consists of the Ascension deck-building games. To quote from the press release:

Quote:
Under the completion of the transition, Ultra PRO will handle tabletop publishing, marketing and promotion, engaging its extensive presence in the gaming market to bring Stone Blade Entertainment games to new audiences, while allowing Stone Blade Entertainment to focus on designing new quality games.

I asked Stone Blade for clarification about this statement and was told that "SBE will still exist as a separate company, and Justin Gary will still design future Ascension releases that will be handled by Ultra PRO."

• In May 2016, GTS Distribution announced that it had agreed to purchase New York-based distributor Global Enterprises, with all existing staff of Global Enterprises coming to work for GTS Distribution.

Portal Games has opened a new division in Germany — Portal Games Deutschland — that will debut in October 2016 at SPIEL 2016. This division is being run by Benjamin Schönheiter, who used to work for Pegasus Spiele on the localization of games such as Portal's own Robinson Crusoe. At SPIEL 2016, Portal Games plans to debut the new version of 51st State, the third edition of Neuroshima Hex!, and an as yet unannounced new army for that game. Cry Havoc will debut in Germany shortly afterwards.

• Finally, in a bit of news not about acquisition or expansion, the Korean-based Hanjin Shipping Co. has filed for bankruptcy. From an article in The Wall Street Journal:

Quote:
Hanjin, one of the world’s largest shipping lines, stopped taking new shipments in the wake of the filing, according to a customer advisory sent to freight brokers in Asia. The carrier faced the possible detention of its ships under threats of seizure by creditors.

The filing with the Seoul Central District Court came just a day after the company’s creditors cut off a lifeline, as financial assistance of more than 1 trillion won ($896 million) failed to keep it afloat. It is the latest domino to fall as shipping companies world-wide grapple with overcapacity amid a slump in global trade.

The news sent freight brokers and shippers scrambling to find space with other carriers as Hanjin was immobilized in the midst of the busiest season for exports out of Asia. Asia-based freight brokers estimate Hanjin’s daily capacity at 25,000 shipping containers.

The article notes that Hanjin vessels are being denied entry into ports since it's not clear whether they can pay the necessary fees. An additional worry is that ships in port might have legal claims filed against them, which would prohibit them from moving, thereby tying up the space and not allowing it to be used by others.

While this news isn't related to games directly, if publishers are moving games out of China, there's a good chance that their shipping plans will be disrupted due to this development, whether directly or indirectly.
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Sat Sep 3, 2016 4:39 pm
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Asmodee in Negotiations to Acquire F2Z Entertainment

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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:

Quote:
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/Spot-It!, 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."
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Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:00 am
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Codenames Wins the 2016 Spiel des Jahres; Isle of Skye Claims Kennerspiel

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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!
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Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:17 am
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Links: Leacock in Time, Awards in Passing, and Women Not in View

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• 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:

Quote:
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.
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Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:00 pm
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Indie Boards and Cards Acquires Action Phase Games

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Travises unite! Oakland-based Indie Boards and Cards — which started in 2009 with a one hundred-copy release of owner Travis Worthington's Triumvirate and has now sold more than one million copies of its titles — has announced a merger with Indianapolis-based Action Phase Games, which debuted in 2014 with Heroes Wanted from owners Travis R. Chance and Nick Little.

After the merger, the combined company will retain the Indie Boards and Cards name, with the Action Phase Games brand being used as an imprint for the Heroes Wanted line and, to quote the press release, "other select projects". No changes will occur with retailer terms since both companies use PSI (Publisher Services International) for distribution beyond the reach of their multitude of Kickstarter-funded projects.

Excerpts from the press release announcing this deal:

Quote:
"Having experienced tremendous growth over the past seven years, Indie Boards and Cards was at a critical point," said Travis Worthington, CEO of Indie Boards and Cards. "I just couldn’t keep up with our existing business and continue to grow the company without bringing on a very talented group of game designers and developers. Travis R. Chance and Nick Little are excellent additions, with a proven track record of making great games and providing great convention coverage and customer support. Together we are going to be unstoppable!"

"I am very excited to be working within Indie Boards and Cards," said Travis R. Chance, Director of Product Development & Marketing at Indie Boards and Cards. "We now have access to financial resources and market reach that we never had before and are looking to expand the number and quality of games we release each year. Ever since the news of merger discussions started to spread, we've been seeing a lot more game designs from both established and first-time game designers."

"There are a lot of games and design concepts that have been sitting on the back burner at both Indie Boards and Cards and Action Phase Games that we'll be able to work on now that I am able to focus on board game development full time," said Nick Little, Director of Product Development & Manufacturing at Indie Boards and Cards. "I also look forward to working the convention circuit with Travis & Travis to find the gaming world's next big blockbuster hit."

Due to the merger, Indie Boards and Cards will now have a presence at the 2016 Origins Game Fair (since Action Phase Games already had a stand there) as well as at Gen Con and Spiel later in 2016.
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Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:00 pm
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Links: DaVinci's BANG! Lawsuit Shot Down, Gender in Munchkin & Mark Rosewater on Twenty Years of Magic

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• In 2014, DaVinci Editrice — which publishes games as dV Giochi — filed suit against Yoka Games and ZiKo Games. DaVinci, which has published Emiliano Sciarra's BANG! (along with many expansions and spinoffs) since 2002, alleged copyright infringement based on the publication of 三国杀 (San Guo Sha) in English as Legends of the Three Kingdoms (LOTK) in 2012 by ZiKo Games, with Yoka Games having been the publisher of that game in Chinese since 2007.

As noted by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas in 2014, "The parties agree that Bang! and LOTK have nearly identical rules for playing the game." What differs is that BANG! is set in the U.S. wild west of the 1800s and features characters and artwork typical for that locale, while LOTK has artwork and characters based on the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which dates to the 14th century. The court denied Davinci's request for preliminary injunction, which would have prevented ZiKo Games from further distribution of Legends of the Three Kingdoms, but it allowed DaVinci to pursue its claim that ZiKo and Yoka "improperly copied protected features" of BANG!

In late April 2016, the court ruled against DaVinci, noting in its summary that "Bang!'s characters, roles, and interactions are not substantially similar to those in LOTK. The aspects of the roles, characters, and interactions that are similar are not expressive, and aspects that are expressive are not substantially similar. ZiKo and Yoka are entitled to summary judgment of noninfringement."

The ruling makes for fascinating reading, and you can download a PDF of the ruling here. Some excerpts:

Quote:
Unlike a book or movie plot, the rules and procedures, including the winning conditions, that make up a card-game system of play do not themselves produce the artistic or literary content that is the hallmark of protectable expression. See Boyden, 18 GEO. MASON L. REV. at 466. Instead, the game rules, procedures, and winning conditions create the environment for expression. Id.; see also Nat'l Basketball Ass'n, 105 F.3d at 846 ("Unlike movies, plays, television programs, or operas, athletic events are competitive and have no underlying script.").

This general rule is consistent with the decision in Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879), in which the Supreme Court ruled that a particular bookkeeping system was not copyrightable. The language and illustrations that the plaintiff had used to explain his system were copyrightable, but they did not protect the system itself from use by other parties. The Copyright Office has applied the rule that copyright does not protect a system's operation method to games. The December 2011 fact sheet for Copyright Registration of Games states:
Quote:
Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

Quote:
In Bang!, the Sheriff and Deputies are pitted against the Outlaws and the Renegade. Other than these alignments, the events in a Bang! game are not predetermined because the interactions between the roles have no underlying script or detail and are not fixed. Making certain roles aligned and others opposed is part of the game's winning conditions, but these determine little about how players will progress through the game. See Boyden, 18 GEO. MASON L. REV. at 466 (copyright does not protect systems that set the stage for expression to occur). Like basketball, Bang! has created a number of roles, defined their alignment with and opposition to other roles, and created rules for their interaction, but has not created a scripted or detailed performance for each game. Using Spry Fox's example of Gone with the Wind, Bang! identifies characters analogous to Scarlett O'Hara's two romantic interests, Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler, giving them names and appearances consistent with their setting. Unlike Gone with the Wind, however, Bang! has no specific plot or detailed information about the characters that tells us what these characters will do or how they will interact with other characters.

Quote:
The character content found protectable in Capcom is distinguishable from the character content in Bang! The Bang! characters' abilities are largely drawn from stock-character abilities. Like a punch or kick in a karate game, Bang! characters' abilities are common in games in which the object is to kill the other players, such as enhanced attack ranges and strength. These abilities are neither original to DaVinci nor as imaginative as the moves found protectable in Capcom. The other similar characteristic between Bang! and LOTK is the characters' life points. The court in Capcom specifically held measures of player viability to be commonplace and not protectable, and this court agrees.

Even if the Bang! characters' abilities were not stock, they are still not expressive because they are essentially rules of game play. The character of Rose Doolan, for example, has the ability to strike opponents from a longer distance than other characters. (Docket Entry No. 61, Ex. 6 at 110:6-10). This ability is no more expressive than the ability of a rook in a chess game to take an opposing piece from all the way across the board, as opposed to a pawn that may attack only from the next square. The rook's ability affects other characters or roles in the game because the attack range increases the queen's and king's exposure. But this special ability is neither literary nor artistic. It is an aspect of game play, a subset of the rules that make up the game system.

Quote:
DaVinci argues that because each Bang! player is assigned a character and a role, the alignment of the roles combines with the expressive elements of the characters to create protectable expressive content. This argument fails because any character can be assigned to any role. In one game, Rose Doolan could be the Sheriff who works with one of the Deputies, Slab the Killer, to kill the Outlaws and Renegade. In the next game, Rose Doolan may be the Outlaw who must kill Slab the Killer, who is the Sheriff in that game. The characters' interactions change from game to game. See Nat'l Basketball Ass'n, 105 F.3d at 846 (basketball is not protected because the action is not "scripted"); Boyden,18 GEO. MASON L. REV. at 466 (copyright does not protect systems that set the stage for expression to occur). The combination of roles and characters also adds little to the overall expressive content of the game, given that the content of the game itself is not fixed. It is the equivalent of casting actors to roles in a movie that has no detailed script, no specific plot, and no detailed information about the characters.

• In May 2016, Steve Jackson Games surveyed Munchkin fans about their personal background and experience with the game line. Now SJG's Andrew Hackard has posted findings from the survey on Medium, including an overview of why the survey asked about users' genders in the way that it did:

Quote:
Gender is a specific mechanic in most Munchkin games. Some treasures are better or worse (or completely unusable) depending on your gender, and some monsters get bonuses or penalties when fighting a character of a specific gender. The Munchkin rules say that gender is dual; a character is either male or female, no other options (with a very few cards that cause exceptions, often by removing a character's gender altogether). Starting in the very first Munchkin game in 2001, changing gender resulted in a one-time combat penalty "due to distraction." This idea comes from early fantasy roleplaying games, many of which had effects that would involuntarily and permanently change a character's gender. Munchkin was originally designed as a parody of D&D and similar games, and this was one of the tropes that was brought over for the sake of that parody.

It's not 2001 anymore, and we now have thousands of people who play Munchkin and have never seen games such as D&D, much less explored the history of those games. We occasionally get social media comments, emails, and even physical letters taking us to task for belittling transgender players. Some of them are heartbreaking.

Speaking on behalf of the entire Munchkin team, it is not and never has been our intent to poke fun at the struggles faced by people who don't match society's gender norms. It has always been our view that the penalty for changing gender in Munchkin derived from its involuntary nature, not the gender change itself, and we have encouraged people to remove the penalty  —  or the entire effect  —  if their group found it problematic.

Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater appeared at the Game Developers Conference in March 2016 and gave an hour-long talk titled "Twenty Years, Twenty Lessons Learned" that provides a ton of material for designers of all types of games to consider. (For those who don't like video, Rosewater has started to post the material from his talk in his weeky column on the M:TG website.)

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Sun Jun 5, 2016 1:00 pm
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Mayfair Games Acquires Twilight Creations

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In January 2016, Asmodee announced that it had acquired the worldwide English-language rights to Catan from U.S. publisher Mayfair Games, leaving some to speculate that Mayfair would die off soon without its cash cow.

If Mayfair has died, however, it's at least chosen a suitably undead partner for the future. Five months after the Catan deal, Mayfair Games has announced that it's purchased "a controlling interest" in Kentucky-based Twilight Creations, best known for its endlessly-shambling game series Zombies!!! and other horror-themed games.

Twilight Creations was founded in 2002 by Kerry and Todd Breitenstein, the latter of whom died in 2013; Kerry Breitenstein has continued to lead the company since that time, and she will "remain an integral part of Twilight Creations, overseeing the creative side of the company as the Vice President of Design and Production", according to a press release accompanying the announcement. Mayfair Games's Loren Roznai will serve as President of Twilight Creations and run the company's day-to-day operations.

A further excerpt from the press release:

Quote:
All logistical operations for Twilight Creations are being moved to Mayfair Games in Skokie [Illinois]. All sales and distribution inquires will be handled by our Sales team in Plant City, FL. All distributors will remain the same.

Twilight Creations wasn't scheduled to have a presence at the 2016 Origins Game Fair, which opens June 15, but thanks to this acquisition Mayfair Games will now feature the Zombies!!! line at that show. Mayfair and Twilight Creations will each have their own booths as scheduled at Gen Con 2016 (since those spaces were already paid for), with them sharing a combined space at conventions in 2017.

The press release ends as follows: "We are both excited about the possibilities ahead of us and we hope you'll join us in this Zombie adventure. Stay tuned for BIG Zombies!!! announcements in the coming months!" In April 2016, I posted about the forthcoming Zombies!!! Ultimate Collector Set, Zombies!!! Ultimate Upgrade Kit, and Zombies!!! soundtrack being created by Midnight Syndicate; Twilight Creations had posted about those items solely on Facebook as far as I can tell, so I don't know whether those items are what's hinted at or perhaps other things. Either way, no word yet on when Agrizombies!!! might be released...
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Fri Jun 3, 2016 2:00 pm
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Spiel des Jahres Nominations for 2016: Codenames, Imhotep and Karuba

W. Eric Martin
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In Germany, the Spiel des Jahres and Kinderspiel des Jahres juries have announced their nominations for the largest awards in gaming in terms of publicity and generated sales, and as usual the Spiel des Jahres nominations are a combination of the expected and "Really? That one?" The nominees for Spiel des Jahres, Germany's "game of the year" award, are

Codenames, by Vlaada Chvátil and Czech Games Edition (overview video with the designer on BGG)
Imhotep, by Phil Walker-Harding and KOSMOS (overview video)
Karuba, by Rüdiger Dorn and HABA (overview video)

Codenames was on every list of SdJ nominations that I saw, and given the way that this game has taken the hobby by storm — especially how players have created their own variations for the design using Dixit cards, Cards Against Humanity cards, other game boxes, and so forth — I have a hard time imagining how it won't win. Just yesterday during a game session, a single fellow and a couple told me how they had each introduced Codenames to new people within the past week, with those converts wanting to play again and again and again. The gameplay is as easy or as involved as the players make it; the design invites creativity from the players; and people can join (or drop out) of the game as needed, making it something that goes on the table while you're waiting for guests, only to absorb those guests into the game when they arrive. That said, who knows what will happen as "surefire" winners have failed to take home the red poppel in previous years...

The SdJ jury has also issued a recommended list of five titles, with those titles being:

Agent Undercover (a.k.a. Spyfall)
Animals on Board
Die fiesen 7
Krazy WORDZ
Qwinto



Nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres — the enthusiast's game of the year — have likewise been announced by the SdJ jury:

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, by Andreas Pelikan, Alexander Pfister and Lookout Games
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, by Matt Leacock, Rob Daviau and Z-Man Games
T.I.M.E Stories, by Manuel Rozoy and Space Cowboys

Pandemic Legacy has to be the odds-on favorite to win given how the game has dominated the mindspace of those who play it. The game is a story created by you and your fellow players, a world that you both travel through and affect with your actions, leaving you in the end with an incredibly personal experience that feels more like an event than a game. I've been a huge fan of T.I.M.E Stories since 2012 when I first played the prototype, and that game took years to come together — both in terms of assembling scenarios and figuring out how to package the experience into something that players could do easily at home — only to find itself overshadowed by Pandemic Legacy once it finally hit the market.

The recommended list for the KedJ is a bit shorter, but it contains probably the three most expected titles by the BGG audience:

7 Wonders: Duel
Blood Rage
Mombasa



Finally, the separate Kinderspiel des Jahres jury has its own list of nominations for the children's game of the year, and those are:

Leo muss zum Friseur (Leo Goes to the Barber), by Leo Colovini and ABACUSSPIELE
Mmm!, by Reiner Knizia and Pegasus Spiele
Stone Age Junior, by Marco Teubner and Hans im Glück

Hans im Glück with a Kinderspiel nom and HABA with the SdJ nom — things have flipped on their head in Germany! I've played both Leo and Mmm! a fair amount, so it's time to get to work on overview videos for those games. Mmm! already won the Spiel der Spiele in Austria in 2015, and I thought that its absence from the Kinderspiel nominations in 2015 was surprising given how well the game introduces kids to the concept of pressing their luck in games (not that they have any aversion to pressing their luck in real life, mind you), but perhaps it absence was merely a fluke of the calendar, with it being released too late for consideration.

The recommendation list for KidJ consists of the following:

Burg Flatterstein (a.k.a. Flutterstone Castle)
Burg Schlummerschatz (a.k.a. Sleepy Castle)
Die geheimnisvolle Drachenhöhle (a.k.a. The Mysterious Dragon Cave)
Dschungelbande
Harry Hopper
Mein Schatz
Sag's mir! Junior (a.k.a. Time's Up! Kids)



The Kinderspiel des Jahres winner will be announced on June 20, 2016, while the SdJ and KedJ winners will be revealed on July 18, 2016. Should you be at BGG.CON Spring on Memorial Day weekend (May 27-30, 2016), four members of the SdJ jury will be on hand with all of the nominees so that you can try them out. How this will work for Pandemic Legacy will be interesting to discover!
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Mon May 23, 2016 10:34 am
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