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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 W. Eric Martin

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Spiel 2015 VII: Antarctica, CVlizations, Motto, KLASK, Game of Trains, Sly Dice and Voilà!

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• German publisher Argentum Verlag releases one game — usually something largely tactical — annually, and for Spiel 2015 that title is Antarctica from designer Charles Chevallier, who dropped by the BGG booth to present an overview of the game. (Should you prefer a written version of this overview, check out this Aug. 2015 post from BGG News.)





• Designer Jan Zalewski wrote a nice designer diary about the origins of CVlizations from Granna, a game modeled on the look of Granna's earlier CV with players trying to choose actions not chosen by other players in order to do well.





• Each time I looked at the cover of Motto in the run up to Spiel 2015, I thought it was a party game, despite it being from Reiner Knizia. Turns out that it's a quick-playing, set-building card game, which Granna also released in Essen this year. Okay, something for me to look for next year, I suppose, in addition to whatever dozens of other new games will be on hand.





• The "Trehgrannik" attribution on the cover of Game of Trains from Brain Games means "trihedron" in English, and that title is used by designers Alexey Konnov, Alexey Paltsev and Anatoliy Shklyarov for their collective work.

The short description of Game of Trains is "special power Rack-O", and I'm sorry to learn of this description only weeks after Spiel is over as this also sounds like something up my alley. In case it isn't already apparent, I can spend lots of time working on the Spiel 2015 Preview, yet have little idea of what the games actually are — even when I edit their descriptions, as I did in this case! Maybe next year?





• Dice games are often about creating combinations of numbers, and Jerry Haerle's Sly Dice from Brain Games sort of works along those lines — except that you can also lie about which combinations you've created.





• A Roberto Fraga design will almost always feature some kind of physical interaction — pieces can't just lie flat on the table! — and Voilà! from Brain Games lives up to my expectations, with players being challenged to stack acrobat blocks to complete tasks but without knowing how much time they have to do so!





• I wouldn't call this a demo of Mikkel Bertelsen's KLASK so much as a meandering through the game with some idea of what you're trying to do. What happened is that we got ahead of schedule several times during Spiel 2015, so we'd pull in a random designer from Hall 7 or open up something that one of us had picked up just to show it off to folks at home.

In the case of KLASK, apparently Aldie had purchased a copy to include in the dexterity game hall at BGG.CON 2015, so Beth and Katherine broke it open and sort of made up their own rules before the next scheduled game demo.

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Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:00 pm
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Gale Force Nine to Release Multiple Doctor Who Games Starting in 2016

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Gale Force Nine has a reputation for strong game designs built to take advantage of an existing media property, as with its games based on Spartacus, Sons of Anarchy and Firefly.

Now GF9 has announced a partnership with BBC Worldwide North America that will allow it to release a series of board games based on Doctor Who, starting with Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks in the first half of 2016. Details on the gameplay are sketchy right now:

Quote:
"Exterminate!" They muttered about their sacred hatred, the Oncoming Storm. Their creator had a plan, a plan to make the Daleks great again. A plan to turn all their defeats into victories. A plan to remove the one variable that has always interfered with the master plan. The Doctor must be erased from time itself!

Ever wanted to be the Doctor? Travel in time and space, meet companions and have adventures? In Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks you do just that, with every player picking a Doctor and trying to thwart the Daleks' master plan of erasing the Doctor from history. Do you have what it takes to fill a Time Lord's Shoes? Join us on an adventure in space and time with a game that is bigger on the inside...

An excerpt from the press release accompanying the announcement: "We are very excited to be able to immerse ourselves into this iconic material and make the game for a show that has shaped generations of viewers," said John-Paul Brisigotti, CEO of the Battlefront Group [of which Gale Force Nine is a wholly-owned subsidiary]. "Having a serious love of the property is how we make our games, and the Whovians in our design teams are creating something truly unique with this new series."

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Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:21 am
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Spiel 2015 VI: Ships, Sifaka, Insekten Hotel, Operation: Kindergarten, [microfilms], Pocket Imperium & KUNE v LAKIA

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• In addition to having the second edition of A Study in Emerald at Spiel 2015, designer/publisher Martin Wallace of Treefrog Games had the new game Ships, and while we strongly encouraged all presenters at the BGG booth to try to keep their overviews to five minutes, it's hard to present a Wallace design in five minutes and feel like you've gotten a good sense of the game. Thus, this one runs a bit longer than most of the other game demo videos we recorded.





• I'll confess that some games develop a reputation among the BGG crew for reasons far removed from the actual playing of the game, and such is the case with Sifaka from designers Christian Kruchten and Jean-Claude Pellin and publisher AzaoGames. Whenever one of us mentioned the game to anyone else, it was almost impossible not to say "Sifaka" in the same tone of voice used by the hyenas in The Lion King. Now you'll be doing it, too. You're welcome!





Dennis Kirps was representing AzaoGames in the previous clip, but he's also a designer, and he stuck around the BGG booth to present Insekten Hotel, a game co-designed with Christian Kruchten and published by LOGIS.





• Who knows how to keep little kids in line (at least some of the time)? Kindergarten teachers, that's who! And in Operation: Kindergarten from Harry-Pekka Kuusela and LudiCreations you get to try your hand at rounding up younglings on the playground and shooing them back to your classroom before any of your fellow teachers can do the same. (Disclosure: I was hired by LudiCreations to edit the English rules for all four of the games included in this post.)





Dávid Turczi, co-designer of [microfilms] with David J. Mortimer and LudiCreations, talks about this semi-sequel to [redacted] that's not quite small enough to be a microgame.





• Mortimer is also the designer of Pocket Imperium, another LudiCreations release, and while we covered this game at Gen Con 2015 where it debuted, the game made its way onto the BGG cameras yet again in Essen, so here's an overview for those who missed it the first time.





• Designer Babis Giannios delivers a tiny card game that comes with one of the best titles ever — KUNE v LAKIA: A Chronicle Of A Royal Lapine Divorce Foretold. Not everyone will be a fan of the name, of course, but it tells you a lot about the game from the get-go. What it doesn't tell you is that the game includes little carrot tokens.

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Sat Oct 24, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 V: A Game of Gnomes, G.Nome, Coup: Guatemala 1954 – Anarchy, Mysterium Expansion, Tiny Epic Galaxies & Stronghold Games

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• Each year since 2004 Gordon and Fraser Lamont have released one title through their Fragor Games brand, either selling out and washing their hands of the title or licensing the design and letting someone else carry on with the effort of marketing it.

For Spiel 2015, the Lamonts published A Game of Gnomes, and in the run-up to the show all of the talk (including this designer diary from Fraser) seemed to center on this thing being the largest game in Essen. Surprisingly this turned out to be only the second-largest game at Spiel 2015, with Mega Civilization taking first. Who knew?

For the Lamonts' BGG presentation, their costumes were somewhat subdued compared to those of past Spiels, but they were probably exhausted from moving mountains...





• Wait a sec! There was a second gnome-themed game at Spiel 2015: G.Nome from James Dickinson and La Mame Games, and the pun in the name deserves heavy praise/groans depending on your predilection for such things.





• La Mame Games also had Coup: Guatemala 1954 – Anarchy, an expansion for Rikki Tahta's Coup: Guatemala 1954 that adds seven new roles to the game. I'll admit that Ernie looks a tad out of place on the thumbnail image for this video.





Mysterium co-designer Oleksandr Nevskiy showed off parts of a Mysterium expansion due out from Ukranian publisher IGames in early 2016. We weren't featuring many previews at the BGG booth, but we had a five-minute hole in the broadcast (due to being ahead of schedule!) and IGames was nearby in Hall 7, so we grabbed them to fill the hole and that was that.










• Thanks to the success of the Tiny Epic empire of games from Scott Almes, U.S. publisher Gamelyn Games was making its first appearance in Essen at Spiel 2015 with Tiny Epic Galaxies, which was also available in German through Schwerkraft-Verlag.





• This video is something of a mish-mash as U.S. publisher Stronghold Games had many new releases at Spiel 2015, but most of those releases originated from other publishers and were scheduled to be presented by those publishers on their own in the BGG booth. Thus, Stronghold's Stephen Buonocore showed up to present an overview of his entire line-up and take time away from his busy booth to breathe the cooler air found in Hall 7. (I'm pleased that the cropped SG logo resembles a pumpkin, with the video adding the whipped cream triangle of a nose. Quite appropriate for this time of year!)

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Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 IV: Simurgh, Mistfall, KUMO Hogosha, Los Aprendices, Terra & Favor of the Pharaoh

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• Pierluca Zizzi's Simurgh from NSKN Games spent time atop The Hotness on BGG, and I think that relates to a contest being run for the game during that time — it's hard to keep track of what's happening on the site when you're in Essen amidst all of the real games — but Simurgh also has the distinction of being the first title that I added to the Spiel 2015 Preview, with that listing being created on, holy smokes, June 8, 2014!

I didn't recall it being in place so far in advance, but apparently Andrei at NSKN had mentioned something about the title being bumped from Spiel 2014 and I took note of the change. (I've already started the Spiel 2016 Preview, by the way. Don't wait! Send me info now!)





Mistfall was the other new release from NSKN Games at Spiel 2015, and far more has already been written and shown about that game thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign in April 2015. Designer Błażej Kubacki visited the BGG booth to give an overview of the game firsthand.





• Again I bow down before the awesome graphic presentation of a French game, this time KUMO Hogosha from designers Patrick Gere and Nico Pirard and publisher Morning Players. (And I should have fit this game in an earlier post with the other MP title, but I overlooked it at the time. So many videos!)





• Alas, I have nothing to say about Los Aprendices from Alberto Corazón Arambarri and Zacatrus. I try to know everything that I can about everything related to games at Spiel 2015 — and games in general — but my knowledge of games from Spain is practically non-existent. Perhaps I need to get another exchange student from that area, one who plays games somewhat fanatically this time.





• Didn't we already feature Tom Lehmann's Favor of the Pharaoh from Bézier Games once on BGG TV? Yes, at Gen Con 2015, but now the game is actually released and apparently Ted Alspach found his way in front of our cameras yet again to give the 30,000 foot overview of the game and show off the final look.





• To close this post we'll complete the sandwich of the first game on the Spiel 2015 Preview with the first game on camera at Spiel 2015 itself: Friedemann Friese's Terra, a sequel to his Spiel des Jahres-nominated Fauna that HUCH! & friends released in 2014. Now Bézier Games has released the game in English with Imperial measurements on one side of the game board and metric measurements on the other. Good idea, Ted, since the Lincoln Chafee nomination process doesn't seem to be picking up steam...

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Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 III: Inhabit the Earth, AYA, Dino Twist, Celestia, Thrash'n Roll & Between Two Cities

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• Designer/publisher Richard Breese of R&D Games is one of a few independent publishers who set up a stand each Spiel, then sit behind a wall of boxes not so much demoing his latest release as simply playing it while eager fans come to drop coin.

His latest release, Inhabit the Earth, features a cover homage to Wildlife Adventure (as explained here) and contains twice as many cards as you need to play, unless you want to carry out two separate games in both English and German on the same set of game boards.





AYA, from designers Olivier Grégoire and Thibaut Quintens and publisher Act in games, was one of a handful of no-shows at Spiel 2015, with the domino-like pieces supposedly being shipped from the manufacturer to Europe (based on the delivery records) but never actually making their way onto the train. Quintens believes that the finished game will be available by the end of November 2015.





• I saw Dino Twist from designer Betrand Arpino and new publisher Bankiiiz Editions in the hands of more people than I had anticipated (given what little I knew about the card game), meant to find out more info about the game during Spiel 15, then of course forgot about that intention almost immediately afterward as I was on to the next thing on my schedule. Bzz bzz bzz!





• Aaron Weissblum's Celestia from French publisher BLAM ! is a new version of his 1999 release Cloud 9 with 100% more awesome artwork than in the original game.





• I know next to nothing about Thrash'n Roll from designers Aleksander Biela and Krzysztof Matusik, but I do appreciate the look of the game considering that Game Fabrica's 2014 release was the mod-looking Cargotrain.





Ben Rosset, co-designer of Between Two Cities with Matthew O'Malley, showed up at Spiel 2015 to demo his design to as many people as possible in the Morning Players booth, in addition to talking about it in the BGG booth. What's more, I finally have an answer for why those who purchased the game in Essen received a second set of tiles, courtesy of Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games!

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Thu Oct 22, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 II: My Village, Porta Nigra, Mombasa, Rome: City of Marble, Face Chase, GobbleStones & Panda Head

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• Designers Inka and Markus Brand and publisher eggertspiele won the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2012 for Village, a game in which your playing pieces aged and died over the course of the game — ideally dying in a place that would net you legacy points at the end of the game. For 2015, the Brands and eggertspiele have released My Village, which resembles the original game in some ways while also standing on its own.





• Designers Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling have worked together on a number of well-regarded designs, including the 2000 Spiel des Jahres winner Torres. The plastic pieces from Torres have now been incorporated into a new large design from the K&K team: Porta Nigra, with eggertspiele and Stronghold Games debuting the design at Spiel 2015.





• Not content to release two involved strategy games at a single con, eggertspiele — in association with U.S. publisher partner R&R Games — released Alexander Pfister's Mombasa. I had previously recorded an overview of Mombasa at Gen Con 2015, but somehow R&R Games' Frank DiLorenzo snuck onto our camera once again to talk about the game.





• Brett Myers' Rome: City of Marble was another title from R&R Games that we previewed at Gen Con 2015, yet still allowed on camera at Spiel. In general, we told publishers to aim for a five-minute presentation for each individual game since (1) we wanted to feature as many games as possible and (2) people tend to watch short videos far more than long ones.

If nothing else, this video at least shows the final look of the rhombus tiles, now in fully playable form!





• A game publisher told me in early 2015 that designer Martin Nedergaard Andersen has licensed close to one hundred game designs in the past couple of years, and after seeing his name on many titles released in 2015 — including the quick-playing, face-matching card game Face Chase from R&R Games — I'm finding that claim easier and easier to believe.





• Stephen Glenn's fantastic abstract game Lumis: Der Pfad des Feuers appeared from KOSMOS in the first half of 2015, and now his GobbleStones has appeared from R&R Games in the second half of the year. This one's still a mystery to me for now...





Cucumber is a public domain card game in which players try not to take the last trick. Friedemann Friese published his own version of the game — Fünf Gurken — through 2F-Spiele in 2013, and now R&R Games has published a version from Aaron Weissblum and Norman Woods with a few special cards as Panda Head.

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Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 I: 504, Automania, Cornwall, Completto, Team Play & Power Grid: The Stock Companies

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• Let's start the individual game demonstration videos from Spiel 2015 with one of the most anticipated titles out there: 504 from designer Friedemann Friese and his own 2F-Spiele.

One game publisher I spoke with at Spiel 2015 dismissed the design as being 504 mediocre games and wondered why anyone would pay attention to what seems more like an experiment than a finished design — but I'd argue that the experimental nature of the design is one reason why people are paying attention to 504 in the first place. Creating a game from what's akin to a child's flipbook each time you play is a cool concept, akin to the cut-up writing technique of dadaists and William Burroughs in that you're never sure what the output is going to be until you're experiencing it firsthand. Such work isn't going to be to everyone's tastes, sure, but I've enjoyed my first encounter with the game and am eager for more.





• Friese and 2F-Spiele also had the far more conventional Power Grid: The Stock Companies at Spiel 2015, with this expansion adding three new ways to play Power Grid or Power Grid Deluxe, all of which involve shares.





• Each year at Spiel we vacillate between having a strict policy of reminding publishers of their demo appointments in the BGG booth shortly before they're due to appear and assuming that they'll remember to appear given that it's a nice bit of publicity for their publication. We vacillate not because we think reminders are bad, but because we're often short of runners at the time that we'd want to send someone.

In this case, however, I was headed to the press conference early on Wednesday during the final set-up day, so I stopped at the booths of the first half-dozen speakers on the way in order to remind them of their demo slots — which was a good thing for Aporta Games with its Automania title from Kenneth Minde and Kristian Amundsen Østby as Østby was already in the press demo room since he thought his demo time was later in the day. Crisis averted!





• As happens all to often at Spiel, I recall a game that I wanted to investigate further only after the fair is long over and I'm posting a video about it, the game in question this time being Completto from Heinz Meister and Schmidt Spiele as it sounds like a good intro game for casual players and unsuspecting parents of children who come for playdates with my son. Oh well...





• Designer Johannes Schmidauer-König debuted in 2012 with Dog Royal, a new take on Schmidt Spiele's Dog, and he and Schmidt have since published a few other titles, including the decently received Vienna in 2014 and now Cornwall in 2015.





• Oh, hey, here's Schmidauer-König again with another Schmidt title: Team Play. You might begin to think that "Johannes Schmidauer-König" is a pseudonym for one or more editors at Schmidt, but he also had Die Portale von Molthar released by AMIGO Spiel at Spiel 2015 so that seems unlikely.

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Sun Oct 18, 2015 4:00 pm
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Spiel 2015: Hall 7 Walkthrough

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Spiel 2015 featured four halls of stands from game publishers and other vendors, and our fourth walkthrough video samples those vendors in hall 7, which was newly added to Spiel in 2015 — albeit used to some degree prior to 2014.

In 2014, fair organizer Merz Verlag filled only half of hall 4, with the area being poorly visited compared to halls 1, 2 and 3; for 2015, more than one hundred exhibitors filled every available meter of hall 7, with many of them being newcomers to the Spiel experience. If nothing else, this experience might be a good lesson for other con organizers: If you're going to spill out into previously unused territory, don't do so in a minor way, but do so on a large enough scale that people will have to pay attention to what's being featured there.

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Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:12 pm
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Spiel 2015: Hall 3 Walkthrough

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Hall 3 at Spiel 2015 features the largest game publishers and the largest booths, with the space occupied by Asmodee and its Days of Wonder brand on its own being roughly half the size of Halls 1, 2 or 7 in their entirety.

In this video, Beth and Katherine take a run through hall 3, starting with a glimpse at the crowd waiting outside the doors. (Each day at Spiel, the doors opened at 9:45 instead of a 10:00. This was understandable on Thursday as rain was falling and they probably didn't want too many people crowding inside the entrance area before the doors opened, but I'm not sure what happened the other days.)

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Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:00 pm
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