Archive for Convention Reports
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W. Eric Martin
At SPIEL 2016, at least two publishers had their cashbox swiped near the end of the day on Saturday, the busiest day of the fair.
Frank DiLorenzo from R&R Games, located in Hall 1 of the Messe Essen, told me that while he was sitting in his booth — with his right hand practically over the cashbox — he was asked a question from over his left shoulder, turned to answer the question, heard a crash on his right, turned back, and discovered the cashbox gone. "I thought one of my employees had grabbed it to make change, but then I realized that didn't make any sense, then I realized what had happened."
LudiCreations, also located in Hall 1 not too far from R&R Games, had a similar story, with a representative being asked for a game, going into the back room to grab it, and returning within ten seconds to find the cashbox missing. In response to this theft of €3,500, designer Dávid Turczi — who has had his designs [microfilms] and [redacted] published by LudiCreations — designed a postcard game that evening, and representatives from the publisher stayed up all night testing it, designing graphics for it, then launching a Kickstarter for it on Sunday. To date, the KS campaign for Steal This Game — a two-player design in which one player is a game publisher who is trying to keep their cashbox from being nicked by the other player — has received more than $25,000 in backing.
I heard reports of other publishers having thefts attempted against them at SPIEL 2016. Everyone is sure that some games were lifted during the event, but the loss of a few games pales against the loss of an entire day's worth of sales. Asked about preventative measures, some publishers specified that they kept their cashbox in an area inaccessible by visitors or chained to a fixed object in their booth or both. Such measures can sometimes be difficult at SPIEL given the small nature of the booths, but ideally everyone can be aware of the need for such security measures at future conventions.
W. Eric Martin
• I'm sometimes amazed by how much material I write and record but don't publish —not intentionally, mind you. I certainly didn't mean to record a bunch of videos at Tokyo Game Market in May 2016, then sit on them until practically the very last moment in which they could still serve as previews ahead of the games' world release at SPIEL 2016 in Essen, Germany. No, not intentional at all. Projects ram into one another constantly, so few of them end properly but are instead steamrollered by whatever is coming next on the schedule. (Origins Game Fair was three weeks out when I published my third report from TGM May 2016, so I was probably antsy to work on that.)
In any case, here's an overview of Jesse Li's Guns & Steel: Renaissance, this being a standalone expansion to the original Guns & Steel, with Moaideas Game Design doing the development and first release and Grail Games providing distribution of the English-language version.
• Moaideas Game Design debuted a second title at TGM in May 2016, once again releasing a Japanese-only version of a game to be released later (i.e., now) in English, this game being Crabs! by shane007, whose name I suspect of being a pseudonym. Yes, I'm not slow all the time...
• As Smoox notes at the start of this video, PaiMiahhh from Beta Ma and Chih-Fan Chen of Homosapiens Lab is a customized version of Contract Bridge, with a five-suited deck, bonus point tokens to be gained when playing off-suit, and an assortment of special action cards that can be dropped into the deck for variety of play each round.
W. Eric Martin
I've been sick the past five days, so I've worked far less than I would have liked (boo!), but the SPIEL 2016 Preview now totals 735 titles (with more still to be added) and the broadcast schedule for game demonstrations in the BGG booth at SPIEL 2016 is now live. Five days of game demonstrations, with eight-and-a-half hours of broadcasting on four of those days! So much to watch!
I'll continue with the game previews and SPIEL 2016 Preview updating and designer diary posting as soon as I can. As always, the clock is ticking...
W. Eric Martin
We scheduled dozens of game overview demos in the BGG booth at Gen Con 2016, but I also scheduled some in other locations, including one with Lone Shark Games — and unbeknownst to me LSG had scheduled a full playthrough of Thornwatch with co-designers Mike Selinker, Chad Brown and Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik, from whom the game idea had originated.
Thus, we ended up recording a 56-minute video that starts with an overview of the game's origin and ongoing development process — ongoing in that the game design isn't final and no publication date has been announced as of yet — then we play through a scenario. For those who prefer words, let's start with the game description in the database, after which we can move to our poorly-lit, recorded-on-site video:
Thornwatch is an adventure-based card game for 2-4 players and a Game Master. Players are Icons of the Thornwatch: scarred veterans of the Eyrewood who now live as ghosts that are summoned by the ancient ritual of tying a knot of thorns around a birch tree. The Icons summoned to a particular tree do not necessarily know each other or the true nature of the problem they've been called to resolve; all they know is that they've answered the call, and they're bound to see it through.
In game terms, through the play of Attack, Ability, Tactic, and Synergy cards, the Icons engage foes to resolve the "knot" that summoned them, with the knot giving players clues as to what their mission might be. Each player represents a character who fits in one of four classes — Guard, Blade, Sage, Greenheart — and each character has a deck that features moves and abilities specific to your character.
During the game, which lasts 2-4 hours depending on whether you're playing a single adventure or a campaign, you'll move characters on a map specific to the adventure and (most likely) encounter others that you must defeat in combat. When you suffer damage, you shuffle wound cards into your deck. Those cards stay in your hand once you draw them, and if you hold more wounds than your character's wound threshold, you die. You're a ghost, though, so death isn't permanent; instead you add a random Scar card to your deck, with each Scar having some negative effect on you.
W. Eric Martin
• The most talked about game at Gen Con 2016 wasn't even known publicly before the fair opened, this being Eric M. Lang's Rising Sun, which Cool Mini Or Not announced on Friday during the fair. I knew that CMON was announcing something by Lang as the publisher had asked whether they could reserve a spot in the BGG booth late on Friday, but beyond "something" I knew nothing. Now we know a little more thanks to Lang himself...
• One of the first day sellouts at Gen Con 2016 was Lang's Bloodborne: The Card Game, most likely because publisher Cool Mini Or Not had shipped in advance copies for the show to create buzz in advance of the game's September 2016 release date. Buzz buzz buzz!
• One of the biggest splashes of Gen Con 2016 took place a few days before the fair opened, when Fantasy Flight Games announced that the second edition of Mansions of Madness would debut both at the convention and at retail stores on August 4. Retailers complain about being shut out of titles that debut at Gen Con, or of having their customers poached by publishers for the aforementioned buzz, but at least in this one case they could buzz along just like everyone else.
• Gen Con 2016 a high percentage of Australian publishers in attendance, including honorary potential Australian designer Martin Wallace, who had traveled a long way to see two of his releases from Space Cowboys on sale during the show: Via Nebula and (the title shown here) Hit Z Road.
• The fastest turnaround time from knowing that someone would be available for a demo in the BGG booth to said demo taking place might belong to Noel and Rob from Cyanide & Happiness as Scott and I ran into them and Shari Spiro from Breaking Games in the aisle behind the B.G. booth, heard they were available, walked back to the BGG booth, then found out we were ahead on schedule, so *boom* your time on camera has arrived. Sometimes things just work out that way...
W. Eric Martin
• Let's start another round-up of game overview videos from Gen Con 2016 with one title that might be the definition of "convention game", by which I mean a game that excels in a public environment because the crowd around you can pick up on the game immediately and follow along while you play.
I've now taught Captain Sonar from Fraga and Lemonnier more times than I've played, yet I'm still not sure that I'm teaching the game optimally as each of four players on a team have individual roles that all need to be taught separately, yet everyone plays at the same time and the roles themselves are simple. Let's see whether Fabien from Matagot can give me any teaching advice...
• Let's transition on the color palette from blue to orange, this being for good or ill a fairly popular color combination. Kane Klenko's Covert was one of many titles debuting from Renegade Game Studios at Gen Con 2016.
• And we'll roll from blue and orange to orange and blue with The Goonies: Adventure Card Game from Riddle and Pinchback. I'm amused by how Erik Dahlman from Albino Dragon opens with "I guess I don't have to say anything about The Goonies..." while of course my knowledge of The Goonies begins and ends with it being a 1980s movie that features kids. I'm probably not missing anything, right?
• Designer Seiji Kanai was a guest of honor at the AEG booth at Gen Con 2016 as the publisher had multiple titles from him debuting or available for purchase, with one in the former category being Love Letter: Premium Edition. I'm continually stunned (in a good way) by how influential this game has been, and it makes me think about all of the other hundreds of tiny games that have appeared at places like Tokyo Game Market, then vanished from public view. What treasures have we missed amongst those titles?
• AEG also featured its version of Kanai's Eight Epics, which he originally self-published through his own Kanai Factory, then expanded, then licensed to another designer who wanted to create his own version. As with Love Letter, Eight Epics is a simple concept that can be reinterpreted in any number of settings and times.
• Todd Rowland of AEG also talked briefly about the third edition of Thunderstone that the publisher plans to bring to Kickstarter in late 2016. Rowland focused mostly on their plans to incorporate retailers into the KS rather than any changes to the game design itself, but this talk is a starting point for what's to come.
W. Eric Martin
We're ten days past Gen Con 2016, and by this point Aldie has processed most of the game overview videos that we recorded over the four days of the convention, and we've been posting them regularly on the BGG YouTube channel. (Brad and Dave at iOS News have long since posted everything they recorded off-site, making us look like pikers, but that's mostly my fault for working on nothing other than the SPIEL 2016 Preview last week.)
In any case, here are a few highlight videos of games demoed and sold at Gen Con 2016, starting with the fastest sellout of the convention: Rob Daviau's SeaFall from Plaid Hat Games. The line of VIP buyers on Thursday morning wrapped clear around the PHG booth, leaving copies available for only two "normal" people at the end of the line, so if you want to know what the price of a VIP ticket gets you, it gets you access to buy SeaFall. If you missed out on SeaFall — as most people did — you have the consolation of listening to Daviau sum up several years of design work in less than eight minutes.
• We didn't feature SeaFall in the BGG Hot Games room — partly because we didn't have a copy and mostly because it wouldn't make sense to have a legacy game in that environment — but we did have two copies of Vast: The Crystal Caverns from Leder Games, and those copies were in constant use, thanks in part to co-designer Patrick Leder pretty much always having someone on hand to teach the game to newcomers. Given the nature of the game — that is, five asymmetric roles — a teacher seems like a great thing to have on hand to get you started, and Leder takes on that role in this overview.
• Dungeon delve meets deck-builder in Paul Dennen's Clank!, which Renegade Game Studios plans to release in October 2016 and which snuck through our "no preview" filter that largely worked to keep us focused on games debuting at Gen Con 2016 or newly released prior to the show.
• Stronghold Games donated one of everything new to Gen Con 2016 to the BGG Hot Games room, and while prepping Terraforming Mars on Wednesday night before the start of the con, I kept saying to myself, "Self, who's really going to dive into Terraforming Mars on their own from the rulebook? Stephen was a sweetheart to donate this along with his other titles, but maybe he just needed the tax write-off because no one's going to play this." So of course when I visited the Hot Games room on Thursday night practically the first game that I see on the table is four players in the midst of Terraforming Mars. Shows what I know about con behavior...
• Ice Cool from Brain Games was one of the three games that I played at Gen Con 2016, mostly because I wanted to teach others in the Hot Games room. The overview video doesn't really capture the joy of flicking the penguins all over the place, with one person trying to catch the others before they can shoot through the doorways and grab their fish. I've played with kids as young as three — although it was "played" more than played — and it's been a blast each time.
• Let's close this post with our wrap-up video for day 1 of Gen Con 2016, which mostly consists of me being really tired, yet simultaneously energetic enough to talk over Stephanie as she tries to lead me to more fertile areas of conversation. Watching yourself on video can be quite educational!
W. Eric Martin
Gen Con 2016 has ended, so let's move on to what's next with the launching of the SPIEL 2016 Preview. Yes, already!
While I'm happy to kick off this preview, I regret to say that it contains barely more than one hundred titles at this point. Why the regrets? Because I wrote to dozens of publishers two weeks prior to Gen Con 2016 and I had anticipated being able to add all of the information that they sent me to the SPIEL 2016 Preview before it went live. Alas, info on Gen Con kept pouring in, too, so I focused on that (as well as regular BGG News posts) instead and filtered everything related to SPIEL into an increasingly jam-packed inbox folder.
Now I've switched gears, though, and other than a few Gen Con round-ups and the publication of individual game overview videos once Aldie edits the four days of livestream game demonstrations that we recorded in Indianapolis, I'll be kicking out SPIEL 2016 info right and left until I hit my final update deadline of Friday, October 7.
If you have info about new games being released or demoed at SPIEL — and yes, the convention's name is spelled in all caps, as confirmed by the event organizer — and that info isn't already on the SPIEL 2016 Preview, feel free to email me at the address in the BGG News header at the top of the page. We hit 774 listings in the SPIEL 2015 Preview, and I'm excited/terrified to see what the final tally will be this year.
With that said, dig in!
W. Eric Martin
Gen Con 2016 starts on August 4, and I'll be in Indianapolis with the BoardGameGeek crew starting on Wednesday, August 3 — i.e., tomorrow (yikes!) — to help set up our booth (#1949) and to take pics from the show floor. What might you need to know before that happens?
• If you're going: The BGG Hot Games room will now feature donations from 59 publishers, giving up to 120 gamers at a time the chance to play or fondle the newest releases from Gen Con 2016. We'll post a final list of games once we collect everything from the publishers (or see what they drop off), then prep, punch, and bag everything to be ready for the opening bell on Thursday.
• If you're not going: BGG's Gen Con 2016 broadcast schedule is now live! Yes, for all four days of Gen Con 2016, BoardGameGeek will be livestreaming interviews with designers and publishers about their creations.
In addition to watching us for four days, you can follow our posts on Twitter as I'll be snapping pics throughout the show and trying not to fall too far behind in posting them.
• Whether you fall into either category: BGG's Gen Con 2016 Preview is now (almost) complete, with its 411 listings being just a smidge more than we saw on the 2015 Preview. That said, I threw in the "almost" caveat because a couple of publishers sent me info on August 1, which I had set as my cutoff date; if I have the time, I'll add them to the Preview, but I might not have time since I'll be jamming on the SPIEL 2016 Preview, which will launch on Monday, August 8.
Yes, we'll slingshot our way straight from the ashes of Gen Con to the fevered beginnings of SPIEL, which opens October 13. I already have eighty titles on that preview and a stuffed inbox folder to which all my requests for information have been routed. Time to crack that open and get to work...again!
[Ed. note: Head here for the first half of Mary Prasad's report from the 2016 Origins Game Fair. —WEM]
As usual, many trips were made to the North Market. Hot Chicken Takeover was as good this year as I remember from last. The chicken is always hot and fresh. They actually can sell out early (on a chalkboard they have a countdown for number of chicken pieces left) and there is usually a line, but it's worth the wait. I wasn't impressed with my Katzinger's Little Deli Ruben sandwich – too pricey for the little meat/too much bread I received. Market & Boar (Holy Smoke BBQ) has awesome BBQ. I can't resist their Loaded Barrel Chips. From memory (admittedly not my best feature), it has Barrel chips (seasoned, made potato chips), choice of smoked meat (I got pulled pork this time), cheese sauce, jalapeños, tomatoes, and chipotle sour cream! OH YUM! I ended with a double delectable treat: a trip to Taste of Belgium for a waffle to go, on which I put a couple scoops of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Heaven! (I had to split with a friend so that I wouldn't burst.)
This is becoming an annual tradition as well – a trip or two to Moy's Chinese restaurant for some fresh, delicious food. The R&R guys (who are also foodies) introduced me to this wonderful establishment. Afterwards we stopped at Buckeye Donuts, right next door, where we had cronuts. The memory of it is making my mouth water; it was so freaking good!
Dinner at Moy's with (far left) Dan and Frank DiLorenzo, R&R Games, and (far right) Ken Hill and my husband, Snoozefest
Another fairly new favorite is Aab (introduced to us by Ken Hill, CABS and Rio Grande Games rep.). It's a little bit of a hike from the Columbus Convention Center, but they have excellent Indian food and it's right down the street from another Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams location!! I like to walk over from Aab to help burn off some of the guilt.
The Dice Tower Live
The Dice Tower podcast did a live taping at Origins. About 250 people showed up for the event. As somewhat typical at these events, a "gameshow" was held with funny and/or game related questions (and sometimes funny answers) where select audience members were able to win prizes for participating.
The Dice Tower Live, Origins Show
Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers Part 2
Hill's Wholesale Gaming
They're back! After a four-year hiatus, Hill's is finally back selling many, many TCG and CCGs (among other things)! Unfortunately I bought two boxes I really didn't need (but WANTED!), and yet again I was stopped at airport security for having those dangerous foil cards.
Nathan Hill (R), Hill's Wholesale Gaming
North Star Games
Happy Salmon released in April, 2016. It's a fast-paced game for 3-6 players (with two decks you can play up to 12), which plays in about a minute. Each player starts with a deck of 12 cards held face up in their hands. The idea is to find a person with the matching card by shouting out the name of the action on the card. For example: fist bump and high five are two of the actions. Once this person has been found you both perform the action to discard the card, revealing the next card. The goal is to get rid of all your cards.
Evolution: the Beginning, releasing in August, is a standalone card game (i.e., it is not playable with the base game). This is a simplified (i.e. lighter, faster — about 30 mins) version of Evolution for family and casual gamers. It will be a Target store exclusive.
Fun Fact: Evolution was originally designed by Russian biologists to teach kids about evolution. (The original game was named Evolution: Origin of the Species.) The artwork for the game was done by Catherine Hamilton, a high-school friend of North Star founder Dominic Crapuchettes.
Tasty Minstrel Games
Guilds of London pre-release at Origins, to be released in August. They had one hundred copies available, which sold out in sixteen minutes. This is a card driven area majority game.
Orléans: Invasion will release in August/September. This is a modular expansion to Orléans with several scenarios that enhance the game.
Fun Fact: In Guilds of London, three of the coat of arms are actual historical representations of the real Guilds of London crests; you may see them on the shields on the tiles.
Royals pre-relased at Origins, will release at the end of August. The art was updated for the U.S. market to give it a more medieval English look and add more vivid color. The distribution of cards was also slightly revised. The city in Britain now has two nobles instead of one.
Tony Gullotti, Arcane Wonders
Speechless will be a Gen Con pre-release, to be released soon after, and is designed Mike Elliott (designer of Quarriors, Dice Masters, etc.). This is his first party game and the fourth in the Dice Tower Essentials Line. Talking is not permitted during the game. Players take turns being the "presenter". The presenter has 90 seconds to act out six words (three cards with two words each), trying to get the other players to correctly guess each word. While the presenter is acting out the words, the other players are watching and trying to guess which word is being acted out. If they think they know the word, they write it down on their dry erase marker board. Players score up to 2 points for each correct answer: one person guessing the wrong answer scores 0, multiple people guessing the same wrong answer each get one point. The presenter gets the highest score in correctly guessed words that round. The game is for 3-8 players with two rounds for three players, or once around for four or more.
Fun Fact: Arcane Wonders sent the artist for Royals, Jason Engle, a photo of Kevin Burkhardsmeier (podcaster, Board Game Theatre) as a model, because he does cosplay as a king.
Kevin Burkhardsmeier was used as the model for the King in Royals
Hive Mind, by Richard Garfield, will release in September. Each turn all players secretly answer a question, then answers are revealed. Players get one point for each answer plus one point for each answer matching another player. A die is rolled to determine how many people will move down the hive (printed on game board) for having the lowest score. Sometimes one player may also move up for having the highest score. There is a catch-up mechanism for players reaching the lower levels; a player can remove a barrier rather than moving down. Any players kicked out of the hive lose, then everyone else wins.
Running with the Bulls, by Paul Peterson, releases in September. Each player gets six runner dice at the top of the board. There are six bulls, also across the top of the board. Players try to get their runners to one of the destination cards at the bottom of the board (sort of like a Plinko, disk drop, game). Players get a hand of five cards per round to help them move to the bottom, four of which will be played. There are three (scoring) rounds to the game.
Fun Fact: Board artwork for Running with the Bulls includes Chris Leder, "Director of Fun" at Calliope Games (bottom right), above him and the big red die is the President of Calliope, Ray Wehrs (right), and Paul Peterson, designer (left). Artwork was done by Mike Bocianowski who signed his name on the toilet paper on Chris' foot. There are some puns/Easter eggs about bulls all over the board (e.g., bulldozer, bull horn).
Formal Ferret Games
The Networks released at Origins (U.S. debut). This is a tableau-building game using card drafting. Players each run a network. The goal of the game is to get the most viewers by developing shows, signing stars, and landing ads.
An expansion to The Networks is planned for 2017. Currently they plan on offering a modified set-up, new shows and stars set in the 1980s and 1990s, and individual player powers based on their network.
Fun Fact: Gil Hova, owner of Formal Ferret Games, has owned various ferrets for over the course of twenty years: seven in total so far, usually with two at a time.
Naruto Shippuden: the Board Game released June 2016. This is a cooperative board game in which players are trying to stop a network of evil ninjas from taking over the world. Characters and locations are from the show Naruto Shippuden. Each player has their own character with powers, etc. as well as a specialized deck. Highly thematic.
Heart of Crown will be released in September. This is a deck-building card game in which players each take on the role of "campaign manager" for their princesses. Their job is to get their princess elected to the throne by using military tactics, bribery, and witchcraft. The game is split into two eras. During the first era players accumulate wealth in order to back a princess. Once they have a princess, money is not as important; succession points become important for the second era and winning the game.
Fun Fact: The art of Heart of Crown was done by Yuji Himukai, the same artist for the video game Etrian Odyssey.
The Boss Monster: Paper & Pixels mini-expansion released in June 2016. (It was previously only available as a retailer incentive.) This is an expansion for the Boss Monster games (playable with both one or two). It has three new bosses, four new rooms, and one new spell.
The Boss Monster: Crash Landing mini expansion extends the base game, normally for 2-4 players, to 5-6 players. It introduces a new hero class as well as a new related treasure type. For the first time, this will add a sci-fi theme, with aliens landing in the fantasy world of Boss Monster.
Fun Fact: Almost every card in Boss Monster includes an "Easter egg" that parodies classic video games, fantasy and sci fi movies, and fantasy literature.
Fans of classic fantasy/sic-fi movies may recognize this iconic device, guaranteed to leave heroes "mostly dead"
Passport Game Studios
Salem was released at Origins. This is a social deduction game in which you play a family during the Salem witch trials. Three of the members are witches in each family. You are trying to determine who are the witches in the other families while being more accurate in your accusations than the other players. The game sold out at Origins.
Quartz was shown at Origins and will be released at Gen Con. This is a push-your-luck game in which you are a dwarf trying to create the most lucrative mine. As you are mining, you might turn up obsidian, which will make you crash, causing you to lose all the gems you just mined and knocking you out of the round.
Fun fact: In the game Salem, all the family members are historically accurate. A lot of research went into creating the game.
Information provided by Keith Blume, President, L4 Studios.
WarQuest, co-published with Mr. B Games, was pre-released at Origins. WarQuest was designed by Glenn Drover (Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery, Railways of the World, among others) and developed by the same team behind Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery.
In WarQuest, you take on the role of a warlord; your goal is to reunite a fractured land. Achieve this goal by quest, conquest, and combat! The game is card driven — Quests and Conquests are cards in your hand, and every time you complete one, you get a new card — with variable start locations, hidden endgame victory conditions, and awesome miniatures for your armies (it does have war in the title after all) so each game will unfold with a different story. The world of WarQuest (Myrathia) also has a novel from Don Beyer (Swords of Mercy).
For Q4 Mr. B Games and L4 Studios plan to release the 30th anniversary edition of Liar's Dice. This will be in the mode of the classic Milton Bradley version (six players, with the star replacing the "1"). They are playing around with the cover (below), but this is one of the styles they're considering, with them probably doing some kind of polling on BGG or another media vehicle to get consumer feedback.
Fun Fact: Keith Blume: "My family and I played the Milton Bradley version of Liar's Dice non-stop at our family reunion 28 (or so) years ago and it has remained a family favorite. Thus getting to print the game is a full-circle dream come true."
Mighty Monsters will release in August. Players assume the roles of Trolls, Undead, Aquatic animals, Demons, Insects and Dragons with only one thing on their mind: the Gold in King Edgar's treasury. You have to cooperate to overcome the pesky guards, but the real monster in you still wants a bigger share than your fellow monsters! Have the most gold by the end to win in this fast paced monstrous card game.
World Monuments will release in August. In this game you and your fellow players choose one of four buildings and start constructing it from the ground up: the Capitol in Washington, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, San Pietro's Basilica in Rome, or the Taj Mahal in Agra. Once building has completed, only the most talented master builder among the players who gained the most points will win the game.
Fun Fact: World Monuments already has two more monuments in production. These will be offered only as Queenies (promos) at conventions and at the BoardGameGeek Store, early next year.
Chris Landon, Meeple Source, with prankster Dan DiLorenzo, R&R Games, behind him
The Godfather: A New Don releases in August. This is an area-control game in which players take control of one of the six crime families from The Godfather (books/movies). Players battle over the boroughs of 1950s NY. They claim territories by turning in sets of dice.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past releases in August. This is a scenario-driven campaign game featuring story content from the IDW TMNT comic. Players may take on the role of their favorite turtle or the ultimate villain Shredder through a series of 60-90 minute missions in which they develop their characters' strengths, fighting styles, and equipment creating a story arc. Favorite characters (e.g. Casey Jones, Alopex) appear throughout the missions as the Turtles call on their allies to help battle their deadliest foes.
Fun Fact: There is a secret Easter egg in The X-Files that no one has been able to figure out. Nate Murray, Product Manager for IDW Games, offers a bounty of any free IDW game if you can determine what it is.
Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is the next standalone game in the Conflict of Heroes series. It includes the U.S. army expansion and incorporates the Japanese Bushido code ("saving face").
879: Viking Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in July, released planned in October. This is a standalone game, next in the series with 1775 Rebellion. It will be an all miniatures historical game.
Fun Fact: Collaboration can be tricky sometimes. Academy Games' French partners complained that Academy Games was as overly picky as Germans, but as pushy as Americans (the worst of both worlds).
Renegade Game Studios
Brick Party released July 6th. In the game, teams of two work together to build a pattern on a card (worth 5 to 8 points, varying appropriately in difficulty) with interlocking blocks. The cards depict a silhouette of what will be built. One person is communicating what to build while the other player builds it. Each round there is a rule card making it more difficult to either communicate or build (e.g., no thumbs may be used this round, eyes closed, no talking, etc.). The first team finished gets extra points, then the other teams will have only 30 seconds more to complete building in order to score points. Teams get to decide which card to build after the rule card has been revealed. When a new round starts, there will be new partners, a new rule, and new shapes. Play continues until one player meets a point goal.
Covert will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released in August. This is a tactical game of dice placement and set collection in which players try to complete a designated number of mission cards. The first person to do so is the winner. Players roll a hand of dice each round and may use them in different ways, for example they may be used to select an action by playing in an action area in one of six spaces. A player may use any space if no one has yet played there otherwise the player must play numerically adjacent to another die. A player may use one die to help crack a code to try to match a code behind their player screen. A player also gets to swap two tiles of the code during the code-cracking phase. If a player matches their code, they get a resource and another code. Actions include things like moving on the board, getting more resources, and collecting mission cards.
Fun Fact: Kane Klenko, the designer of FUSE, loves to sneak little hints about his wife Carrie into his rules, including an image of her in the back of the Fuse rulebook: Carrie as the ship's computer in FUSE (hologram).
Darkness Comes Rattling was released September/October 2015. This is their first board game in a couple of years; they are mostly a miniatures company. In the game there is a spirit snake called Darkness who is jealous of the sun, so he swallows it, plunging fantasy world Tallil into darkness. This is a cooperative game in which 2-6 players play warriors from the tribes of man attempting to save the sun. Players travel to different regions of Tallil to find items and spirit weapons needed to defeat Darkness.
Fun Fact: When Through the Breach was developed, the lead designer immortalized one of the playtesters, Aaron Darland, as a non-player character (named Aaron Darlin!). His character is known as the mecha-tyrant of Virginia who burns down Richmond. Flash forward to today, Aaron now works for Wyrd Games on the design team; players sometimes think he wrote himself into the game.
Aaron Darland passage from Through the Breach
Custom Tables for Board Gaming
There were a couple of companies selling board game tables. Boardgametables.com has custom made to order tables; choose from five types of wood and six styles of table. Add-ons include card holders, cup holders, drawers, toppers. Carolina Game Tables had three tables in the Mayfair Games play area so that people could try out one of their tables while playing a game.
Carolina Game Tables, carolinagametables.com
Information provided by Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager.
Star Trek: Frontiers released on June 29. Designed by Andrew Parks, Star Trek: Frontiers puts a new spin on the bestselling board game, Mage Knight by Vlaada Chvátil. Command your ship, recruit new crew members, earn experience points, and use your skills to confront the challenges of the Star Trek Universe. Explore and face a variety of challenges on a randomly built Space Map using the Venture Tile System, first introduced in Mage Knight. The game is for 1-4 players with multiple competitive, cooperative and solo scenarios. Work together to defeat hostile ships or compete to explore and uncover hidden mysteries. Players will need to overcome obstacles to expand their knowledge and use their leadership in order to win.
Blank White Dice, designed by Jonathan Leistiko, is a thrilling new take on dice games. Roll the game dice to activate the icons on the dice, and gain enough points to win the game! But that's not all because if a player rolls a blank face, they need to get creative and show their artistic skills by drawing their own icons on the faces of their dice! Some icons will give players points, others may cause opponents to lose points, force competitors to re-roll, and much more! The first player to reach 13 points at the end of a round wins the game. Planned for a SPIEL 2016 release.
Fun Fact: Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager: "WizKids held both the 2016 U.S. National and World Championships for HeroClix, Dice Masters, and Attack Wing at Origins Game Fair. For the first time, WizKids gave a Fan Appreciation Presentation at the event. Attendance was so high that we had to change rooms, cut the presentation shorter, and run two sessions!"
Mad Science Foundation pre-released at Origins, to be released in July/August. Each player is a mad scientist trying to build inventions to gain infamy (points). This is a card-driven game in which, each round, one player splits a number of cards into piles equal to the number of players, then the other players choose which pile they would like with the dividing player going last. Cards include resources and inventions. Inventions must be constructed using resources before points are gained. Minions are also in the resource deck; certain advantages may be gained by controlling a minion. Players also have a hidden goal card. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Attack on Titan Deck-Building Game is planned for September/October release. The game theme came from the Attack on Titan popular anime and manga series about monstrous Titans.
This fully cooperative game is based on the "Cerberus game system" but with added movement. Players are heroes trying to defeat all Titans in the deck before they destroy the wall that protects civilization (which is representated by five tokens in the middle of the table). There is a board with ten spaces and a wall in the middle, with player heroes moving from space to space. The location of your hero in the game area matters. If you are on a titan space (outside the wall), there will be a fight.
Fun Facts: Dekan Wheeler, Manager of Marketing: "We actually found the designers (Sharang Biswas, Max Seidman) at Gen Con 2015's developer speed-dating event. We loved their game Mad Science Foundation so much we decided to publish it. The Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game is built using our Cerberus engine, but is the first of our deck-builders to be designed with co-operative play from the ground up."
Mega Man: Battle for Power is planned to be released in August. This is a Universal Fighting System (UFS) CCG, compatible with some of their other titles such as Darkstalkers and forthcoming Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Cowboy Bebop. The game features the character Bass.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game has a planned release for October. This is a cooperative horror game for 1-6 players. The goal of the game is to try to keep the Hell Mouth from opening and consuming the city of Sunnydale. Players try to protect the townies from various dangers (e.g. vampires, zombies, etc.) and defeat the monsters of the week (there are thee random mosters of the week in each game) to collect various clues to beat the big bad (boss).
Fun Fact: Jason Hawronsky, founder and CEO of Jasco Games, started in the boardgaming industry when he was really young. He owned a 3,000 sq. ft. retail game store in the Dallas Metroplex when he was 13. (Although he did all the management — working store hours around school hours — he had help from his parents until he could legally take over); he ran it for 11 years. He started publishing in January 2010 at the age of 24.
Arkwright released at Origins. This is a heavy economic game with action selection and a stock market. Players produce and sell goods, build factories and machines, hire workers, etc.
Haspelknecht: The Story of Early Coal Mining will release in September. This is a mediumweight action selection game about discovering coal in 16th century Germany. Players extract coal and obtain unique developments (e.g., to more efficiently extract the coal). This will be part one of a trilogy of games spanning centuries. The complexity will increase across releases.
Fun Fact: It took three months to update and enhance the English version of the three rulebooks in Arkwright.
Cool Mini Or Not (CMON)
The Grizzled: At Your Orders! pre-released at Origins, released at the end of June. It adds a solo play mode (not in the original game), a new two-player mode, new missions that replace the original game's set-up difficulty level, character cutouts to help visualize who's on the mission, and Final Assault/Last Stand card (for desperation moves).
Potion Explosion will have an early release at Gen Con, to be released September/October. Player are student wizards and witches learning to brew potions. Each has two potions they are working on at a time. There is an ingredient dispenser, consisting of marbles in vertical lanes in a slightly sloped cardboard holder (so the marbles will slide together), from which players take one marble on their turn. This may trigger a "potion explosion" if two marbles of the same color connect, possibly causing a chain reaction. The player may take all marbles of the same color that touched to form the explosion. Potions are cardboard pieces with holes on which marbles may be placed, color coded for the potion. Once complete, potions may be "drunk" (turned upside down) to provide a one-time special ability. Potions are worth points. Players may gain skill tokens (also worth points) by collecting three of one type of potion or one of each potion (5 total). The game ends when the skill tokens are gone. The player with most points is the winner.
Fun Fact: Designer Eric Lang is obsessed with pandas. He tries to work a panda into each of his games: cover art, character in the game, etc. He even tried to sneak one into the Blood Rage rulebook, but editing found out and removed it before the final print.
Designer Eric Lang, obsessed with pandas
Smirk & Dagger Games
Dead Last pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is a party "social collusion game" that will appeal to gamers who enjoy casual games and social deduction games, although there are no hidden roles or traitors. Each player has a color identity, shown on a card displayed in a stand in front of them, as well as a hand of cards which includes every player color including their own as an "ambush" card (used if they suspect they will be a target). Targeted players are eliminated (unless they played an ambush card). Also, all players except those in the largest voting group will be eliminated. This forces players to form alliances... although you won't know if they are being truthful. Anything goes as far as communication, including glances, nods, pointing, flashing a card, etc. — just try not to tip off the target. The last player standing receives four gold bars with points ranging from 3 to 5 points. The game ends when one player gets to 24 points. The trick is trying to get others to vote with you without alerting the target. If there are two players left, there is a "final showdown".
J'accuse will be released at Gen Con. This is a blind-voting card game. Like a reverse version of Clue, all players conspired to kill the old miser. Each are trying to pass off the evidence onto the other players. In the end, there will be one loser and a table full of winners who got away with murder.
Fun Fact: Curt Covert, Smirk & Dagger Games: "Cutthroat Caverns was inspired by the transition from my high school D&D group (me and six women) who played very Lawful Good characters to my college group (all guys) who were anything but. I was horrified when I realized the other characters I was traveling with were far more dangerous than anything the DM could throw at me. That feeling of shock and horror was the feeling I wanted to be pervasive in Cutthroat."
Ninja Division Publishing
12 Realms released in June. This is a game in which players are adventurers trying to accumulate land, gain fame, etc. through questing, purchasing.
Raid & Trade will be released July. This is a post apocalyptic modular board game of negotiation and resource management. From the ashes of a third World War, a few golden cities emerge offering hope to those who struggle for survival in the wastelands. Using action points and a player specific skill, players explore the ruins of the modern world completing quests, honing their skills, and maneuvering for social status in order to claim a spot as a citizen in a Golden City.
The Broken Token
This company makes game boxes, inserts/organizers, and some game pieces. Their newest release, launched during Origins, the Biohazard Containment Unit for Pandemic is a custom box to replace the original box; it holds sleeved cards, the base game, plus all the expansions. See photo below. An "in box" organizer for Codenames will be released at Gen Con. A custom box for Splendor will be available after Gen Con.
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