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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

Archive for Game Previews

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Game Overview: ButaBabel, or Rising to the Occasion

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Since I'm on my way to Japan at the moment to cover Tokyo Game Market, I thought it appropriate to cover one of the three games that I managed to acquire from the Kobe Game Market that took place in February 2016.

ButaBabel is a card game for 3-5 players from designer Yuo and design circle Kocchiya that consists of only a few rules and plays in only a few minutes. I'm fascinated by Japanese game design minimalism — not that all Japanese game designers exhibit this trait in their creations, mind you, but many do. The games feel like cotton candy in your mouth, almost disappearing as you play them — yet you know something's there, so you try them again and again, curious to find out how the thing works.

I know that a lot of people put an emphasis on playing games for fun, but I lean toward playing games to discover what designers have created. Fun is a good thing, sure, but my concept of fun and yours might not overlap, and in many cases I find fun in the exploration of the game as an artistic object more than an activity. The possibilities of what a game can be are huge, and I love exploring them!

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Mon May 2, 2016 5:00 pm
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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2016: Movie Edition — The Godfather x2, Ghostbusters, Speechless, and Fast & Furious: Full Throttle

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• Both Cool Mini Or Not and designer Eric M. Lang announced many upcoming games at the GAMA Trade Show in mid-March 2016, and one place where those Venn diagrams of game announcements overlapped was The Godfather: The Board Game, which Lang describes as "thugs on a map", with players also having to manage the contents of their hand as anything extra they acquire will end up being handed over to the Godfather as tribute.





• As noted earlier in March 2016, multiple games based on The Godfather films have been announced. The Godfather: An Offer You Can't Refuse from Nate Murray of IDW Games and Nathan McNair of Pandasaurus Games is a Mafia-style hidden role game that sets the Corleone crime family against undercover policemen.





Cryptozoic Entertainment raised more than $1.5 million for Ghostbusters: The Board Game on Kickstarter, so it's not strange at all that they're bringing Ghostbusters: The Board Game II to the neighborhood. At GTS 2016, Cryptozoic's Sara Miguel showed off some of the new gameplay elements to be found in this standalone game.





Fast & Furious: Full Throttle from Jeff and Carla Horger and Game Salute presents players with a street-racing challenge that brings in characters from the movies to provide optional unique powers.





• Okay, I'm cheating here since Speechless the game from Mike Elliott and Arcane Wonders has nothing to do with Speechless the movie, but I posted the overview of the Back to the Future game the other day before realizing that I could pull together this themed post. Oh well.

In any case, Speechless is charades with a twist, with one player performing in silence while everyone else guesses in silence, possibly scoring from others' guesses along the way.

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Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2016: Islebound, City of Iron, Aura, Victory or Death, and Quartermaster General: Alternate Histories

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• Designer Ian Brody has won great acclaim for his self-pulbished Quartermaster General, and now he's taking players into battle in a whole new era in Victory or Death: The Peloponnesian War from The Plastic Soldier Company.





• Speaking of which, France and China join the action in Quartermaster General: Alternate Histories from Brody's Griggling Games. I thought that with the 1980s long behind us, I'd seen the end of misused "Я"s as "R"s, but apparently that graphic element will never go out of style. (I'm not bugged by the graphics in Elysium, but I studied Russian in college, not Greek; sometimes ignorance protects you from outrage.)





• Designer/illustrator/publisher Ryan Laukat of Red Raven Games wanted to paint ships, so he designed a game that would give him that opportunity, with the added bonus that characters in Islebound can also be used as characters in his previous game, Above and Below.





• Laukat also talked about the second edition of City of Iron, which includes some elements of a previously separate expansion, thereby messing with our clean and ordered database listings.





• This overview of Michael Orion's Aura from Breaking Games was the one that most had me going from "I know nothing about this game" to "I really want to try this". I'm a sucker for card games, after all...

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Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2016: Back to the Future, Star Trek: Frontiers, TMNT Dice Masters, Chronicles 1: Origins, and Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up!

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• We're not quite living in the future these days given that our hoverboards don't actually hover, so designers Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback and publisher IDW Games are taking us Back to the Future with a card game that has you jumping back and forth across the decades to complete missions with certain well-known characters.





• Designer Dirk Knemeyer from Artana showed off Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up!, an expansion for Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents that draws more figures from history onto the playing table.





• Knemeyer also talked about the continuing development efforts on Chronicles 1: Origins that Artana plans to release...at some point. As he mentions in the video, despite making release date promises in the past, the development team is in a "It'll be done when it's done" frame of mind right now and just wants to focus on making it as good as they can.





• Yesterday I posted an overview of Star Trek Panic; now we feature another of the fiftieth anniversary games coming out in 2016 — Star Trek: Frontiers from designers Vlaada Chvátil and Andrew Parks and publisher WizKids Games, with this game similarly being a mash-up of the Trek IP with a pre-existing game, in this case Mage Knight Board Game.





• At GTS 2016, WizKids Games also showed off Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dice Masters, the latest iteration in the Dice Masters series from Eric M. Lang and Mike Elliott, with this being a single big box item that includes everything in one go. WizKids' Scot D'Agostino also gives an intro to the TMNT HeroClix Mouser Mayhem! Starter Set. So many turtles! I like turtles!

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Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:49 pm
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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2016: Star Trek Panic, Munchkin Marvel, Mystic Vale, Guildhall Fantasy, and Love Letter Premium

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USAopoly announced Star Trek Panic in Feb. 2016 to much excitement, and one aspect of the announcement that I found interesting was the realization of how many companies have a license to produce Star Trek-related games. In addition to this one, Gale Force Nine plans to release Star Trek: Ascendancy (covering fifty years of ST series) and WizKids Games has Star Trek: Frontiers, in addition to its ongoing Star Trek: Attack Wing series. I keep thinking that one company receives a license and has a lock on the market, but clearly that's not the case, as also evidenced by competing Godfather games.





• Just as Star Trek Panic mashes Castle Panic with USAopoly's game license for Star Trek, Munchkin Marvel mashes Munchkin with that publisher's game license for the Marvel Comics universe. However ubiquitous Munchkin already is in game stores, a license like this will introduce the game to tens of thousands of people who never would have heard of the game otherwise.





• Deck-building games might seem old hat at this point, even though the genre is less than ten years old, but Alderac Entertainment Group is introducing a new iteration of the genre in June 2016 thanks to the card-crafting system at the heart of John D. Clair's Mystic Vale. Instead of building a deck (as your MV deck never grows or shrinks from twenty cards), players now build the cards themselves within their deck.

The video below presents an overview of the game, and while setting up for another game demo, AEG's Todd Rowland mentioned that Clair first brought the publisher a sprawling game design that included card-crafting as one element within a much larger whole. Not wanting to bury the lede, they worked together to extract that element and create a game that featured card-crafting front and center. Thus, Mystic Vale.





• Alderac has a history of taking its own games and reinventing them (Doomtown: Reloaded, Thunderstone, L5R — although that was constant reinvention within the same line), and it's doing this once again with Hope S. Hwang's Guildhall, which debuted in 2012 and had one standalone sequel in 2013. Now that first game is being rejiggered as Guildhall Fantasy: Fellowship in June 2016, with two other standalone games — Guildhall Fantasy: Alliance and Guildhall Fantasy: Coalition — to follow in July and August.





Love Letter Premium is not a reinvention of Seiji Kanai's Love Letter, but an expansion of it — in two ways. First, the components are bigger and fancier. Second, the game includes more cards, allowing for up to eight players to compete at the same time. As AEG's Rowland notes on the video, the components that allow for play with up to eight will also be released for the normal-sized Love Letter. What's more, Kanai will be on hand at Gen Con 2016, where AEG will hold a Kanai-centered Big Game Night event.

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Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:18 pm
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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2016: Crazy Karts, Robinson Crusoe, Fast & Fhtagn, Heart of Crown, and Naruto Shippuden: The BoardGame

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BoardGameGeek broadcast game demos live for sixteen hours over two days at the 2016 GAMA Trade Show, and now we've chopped up those videos into individual segments so that you can more easily find coverage of the games that interest you. I'm starting to publish these videos on BGG's YouTube channel, and they'll also show up on the proper game pages in the BGG database over the next few days. I'll also highlight some of the videos that we recorded in BGG News posts over the next few days, as with the recent post about Eric M. Lang's Bloodborne: The Card Game from Cool Mini Or Not.

• For us, GTS 2016 started with Marcin Ropka from Portal Games introducing us to Charles-Amir Perret's Crazy Karts, a racing game in which players compete in teams of two, with each teammate controlling half of the operations on their kart but not being able to communicate with their teammate when doing so.





• At Spielwarenmesse 2016, I recorded an overview of 51st State: Master Set with designer Ignacy Trzewiczek, talking about what's changed with the core game and how expansions have been integrated into it. At GTS 2016, Ropka showed off the final look for this game, which is moving closer to production.





• Ropka also talked about the new English-language edition of Trzewiczek's Robinson Crusoe that Portal Games will release in September 2016, with this "Game of the Year" edition featuring a new cover by Vincent Dutrait, fancy-shaped wooden bits, the "King Kong" scenario, thicker character sheets, rewritten rules, and other small changes.





• In early March 2016, I posted a written overview of Naruto Shippuden: The Board Game from designers Nicolas Badoux and Cyril Marchiol, but if video is your thing, at GTS 2016 Rich Gain from Japanime Games showed off the design and explained what you'll be doing in this game world with Naruto and the other characters.





• Japanime Games also showed off the deck-building game Heart of Crown, which debuted in Japan in 2011 from FLIPFLOPs to great acclaim, multiple expansions, and a standalone sequel. As in many DBGs, in Heart of Crown players buy new cards to build an engine, but the long-term goal is to claim one of the available princesses — each of whom has a special, unique power — then build up succession points in order to seat that princess on the throne.





• Jeff Tidball from Atlas Games presented the card game Fast & Fhtagn, his Lovecraftian mash-up with elements of the Fast & Furious movie franchise, with players racing through the city streets while encountering (or avoiding!) obstacles from worlds unknown.

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Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:00 pm
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Eric M. Lang Rhapsodizes about Bloodborne: The Card Game from Cool Mini Or Not

W. Eric Martin
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• Many games were announced at the 2016 GAMA Trade Show, with the one causing the most excitement being Bloodborne: The Card Game, a card game coming from Eric M. Lang and Cool Mini Or Not. Lang described the game in some detail on camera while BGG was livestreaming from GTS, and I nodded along as best I could given that I know nothing about video games and had never heard of Bloodborne previously. That video is included below, and for those who prefer the written word, I present this gameplay summary:

Quote:
Based on the Chalice Dungeons in the video game Bloodborne — the expansive sewer and lost city areas that sprawl below the great city of Yharnam, where horrifying creatures reside — players in the card game Bloodborne compete to kill monsters and take their blood.

In general, Bloodborne is a game about risk management with a bit of group think, inventory management/upgrades, and tactical play. Each turn, one monster chosen at random attacks players, who fight back as a team, with everyone playing a card from their hand simultaneously to attempt to kill the monster. Players collect blood from the monster, assuming it dies, based on how much damage they dealt. Monsters can fight back with exploding dice that can potentially deal infinite damage.

Players can fight as long as they want, but if they die in combat, they lose their progress. Players can opt out of fighting to bank their blood and save it permanently. Collected blood counts as victory points.

Says designer Eric M. Lang, "My goal with Bloodborne was to channel the intensity and frustration of the video game into a contest between players. Lots of death."

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Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:23 pm
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Game Preview: Tales & Games: The Pied Piper, or Taking a Spin on the Merry-Go-Rats

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Getting back into news-writing gear following the 2016 GAMA Trade Show is taking a bit of time, but thankfully my audio equipment is working once again, and I've now put together an overview of Agnès Largeaud's The Pied Piper, the sixth game in the Tales & Games series from Purple Brain Creations and IELLO. (My first efforts the week prior to GTS sounded like rats were gnawing on the video frames. Not good.)

When one thinks about trying to create a game out of the legend of "The Pied Piper of Hameln", one might expect a cooperative game in which players fight an ever-growing swarm of rats side-by-side, calling on the piper to strengthen their forces at critical junctures during which all seems lost, or perhaps a game of friendly competition in which players see who can draw more rats out of town — but no, Largeaud and PBC have instead set players against one another with the only goal being to outlast everyone else while staying as rat-free as possible. Sure, you might still come down with the plague, but at least you're better off than those other guys!

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Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:50 pm
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Stronghold Games on Bear Valley, Stellar Conflict, and Working with Publishing Partners

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• Unlike at Spielwarenmesse, at NY Toy Fair I record only a few videos because (1) I'm on my own, which makes it tougher to record things, (2) publishers at the fair tend to focus on mainstream-friendly games rather than hobby games, and (3) publishers with hobby games were recorded at Spielwarenmesse (such as Asmodee and IELLO) or have nothing more than demo boxes to show off (such as Upper Deck).

That said, I did make plans to meet Stephen Buonocore in order to preview a couple of titles coming from Stronghold Games, starting with Carl Chudyk's Bear Valley, a card game in Stronghold's Pocket Line that seems quite unchudykian at first glance — and possibly even at second glance. I'll need to actually play the thing a few times to know for sure, but that will come later. For now, here's an overview of the game:





Bear Valley is due out in the U.S. in April 2016 at the same time as game #3 in Stronghold's Pocket Line: Stellar Conflict, which is a re-imaging of James Ernest's ye olde Light Speed in the Among the Stars universe, with players building a fleet and fighting a battle in minutes.





• While at NY Toy Fair 2016, I also took the time to ask Buonocore to elaborate on Stronghold's "strategic partnership" with eggertspiele, which was announced in Feb. 2016, and the general practice of how and why publishers partner with one another.

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Fri Mar 11, 2016 5:12 pm
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Game Preview: Loot N Run, or Desecrating Pyramids for Fun and Profit

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Explorers entering a pyramid is an adventure trope that appears over and over again in books, movies, and games, and now designer/publisher Christian Lemay of Masked Scorpion has taken his own crack at the trope in Loot N Run, a quick-playing press-your-luck game in which players try not to get caught awakening the guardians of the pyramid's treasure while looting, then subsequently running.

A sidenote: I can think of few characters or tropes in which people are essentially given a license to steal without being seen as doing something wrong. Sure, pirates steal (and plenty of games feature pirates doing this), but they're pirates and stealing goes with the job description, so it doesn't seem wrong. Explorers "find" treasures abandoned by others from long ago, or they "find" objects that are treasures now only because they're relics from ancient times, and while some may object that they're violating the sanctity of a tomb or temple, that's less of a concern if they're "finding" such things for their personal use instead of for profit. What am I overlooking here?

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Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:01 pm
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