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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 W. Eric Martin

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New Game Round-up: More Mythic Battles and More Marvel Games from Upper Deck and WizKids

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• Wow, I've missed a lot during my post-Spiel recovery period, such as the announcement of a reboot of Benoit Vogt's Mythic Battles, a two-player combat game between armies in mythic Greece first published by IELLO and Vogt's Play & Win in 2012. The reboot — Mythic Battles: Pantheon from French publisher Monolith — takes inspiration from this game and its setting, but goes further with the storyline and takes the action down to a more individual level, which entails replacing the army tokens with miniatures. Here's an overview of the setting from Monolith's Jamie Johnson:

Quote:
Hera, tired of Zeus' infidelity, decides to take her revenge and releases the Titans on Mount Olympus. In the ensuing battle, the power liberated by the combatants ignites in a combustion that shatters the Earth. In the ensuing deflagration, the weakest gods are obliterated, rendered down into the small fragments of power that constituted their being. The stronger ones were able to resist total annihilation but even their prodigious power could not save them entirely. As the survivors fell from the broken mountain, the shards of their divinity and the remnants of those that did not survive were scattered to the four corners of a now broken world.

Hades, having lost the majority of his power, no longer holds sway over the Underworld. The gates of hell are open and even though the River Styx prevents the weakest souls from regaining the mortal world, the strongest warriors, the mightiest heroes and the most vicious monsters have managed to claw their way back up the Styx and back to the surface.

As a new power struggle breaks out, Gods summon mortal survivors, returned heroes and reborn monsters to their side in their hunt for the shards of their lost power.

In Mythic Battles: Pantheon, it is these clashes between warbands, in the midst of a post-apocalyptic ancient Greece, that are the focal point of the game. Choose your God, draft your warband and take the fight to your enemies with the might of the most powerful beings from Greek mythology at your back.

Monolith plans to launch a Kickstarter for Mythic Battles: Pantheon in early 2016 once it starts delivering material for its massive Conan KS from early 2015.

Prototype materials for Mythic Battles: Pantheon

• What else have I missed? How about Legendary: Captain America 75th Anniversary from Upper Deck Entertainment, a small box expansion for its Marvel Comics version of Legendary due out in February 2016, with Captain America having debuted in March 1941 with its iconic "Cap punching Hitler" cover. (Interesting to note that issue sold nearly one million copies, while the All-New Captain America in Nov. 2014 sold an estimated 120,000 copies, despite a U.S. population 2.5 times the size of what it was in 1941. The influence of comics is everywhere; the comics themselves...not so much.)

• Speaking of Cap, WizKids Games will release Marvel Dice Masters: Civil War in May 2016, with this release coinciding with the movie Captain America: Civil War, both of which are based on the Marvel Comics storyline that pits Captain America against Iron Man.

Cool Mini Or Not picked up Potion Explosion from Horrible Games and the design team of Castelli, Crespi and Silva for release in the U.S. in Q1 2016. For an overview of this board game version of a "match-three" app, here's a video demo that BGG recorded with Horrible Games at Spiel 2015.

Calliope Games is the new publisher of the Christmas-themed card game 12 Days from James Ernest and Mike Selinker and plans to release its upgraded version of the game — better cardstock and box, streamlined rules — in early December 2015.
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Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Pyramids Rebuilt, Zombies Return & Cold War Covertly Revisited

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Looney Labs will release Pyramid Arcade, a new "Looney Pyramids" compilation of games, in 2016. This collection of 22 games, most of them from Pyramids creator Andy Looney, will include ninety pyramids (three sets of three in each of ten colors) as well as several game boards, nine dice, and a comprehensive rulebook. (Zendo will not be among the games included in this collection as that game "needs more pieces of fewer colors and too many other elements to be squeezed in", notes the publisher, which promises that it will get to Zendo 2.0 eventually.)

Looney Labs notes that the pyramids in this set will have rounder tips than previous ones, while still being compatible with old pyramids, so that they can sell the collection in Europe. (Previous pyramids failed the "Protruding Parts test in EN71-1:2005+A9 Mechanical and Physical Properties".) Groovy 1970s cover, man...

• I tweeted about this announcement in Sept. 2015, but never posted anything about it: In the first half of 2016, Looney Labs also plans to release Firefly Fluxx, with this version of Fluxx including all the characters and other elements from that television show that one would expect to see.

• In the Department of Nepotism Dept., Steve Jackson Games has licensed Kevin Wilson's I Hate Zombies from BoardGameGeek for publication on a wider scale, with this version still using the original art by Robb Mommaerts.

• Universal Distribution in Canada has posted a page for a late 2016 Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers set titled "Tears and Fears Exp." with this description: "Stand-alone and expandable play with characters & figures from FALL '16 Magic: The Gathering card set!" The box size matches the size of the original Magic: Arena set, and the placeholder images shown at left was originally posted on that page, but has now been removed.

Renegade Game Studios is bringing Kane Klenko's FUSE to the U.S. market any day now, having debuted it at a U.S. convention in early Nov. 2015, and now Renegade has announced a new title from the pairing for release in 2016: Covert.

Quote:
Control your network of spies, gather intel, and break codes in Covert, a game of tactical dice placement, set collection, and timing set in Cold War Europe. Players race to complete high risk Missions by deploying their agents and acquiring the necessary equipment, all while keeping an eye on the needs of future missions and the advances of rival agencies.

Each round, players roll their hand of dice and in turn allocate them to different actions, like moving their Agents, acquiring Agency Cards, completing and acquiring new Missions, and more. Dice are placed on action circles that require players to place their dice numerically adjacent to dice that have already been placed, allowing for rival agencies to thwart their plans — but a good Agent always has a backup plan, and there are ways around everything that stands in your way.

Covert offers a relatively light ruleset for the depth of play that it offers by allowing players the freedom to combine special abilities and card combos to complete their Missions and overcome obstacles. Utilize your assets. Make your move. Don't let anyone stand in your way.


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Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:08 pm
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Spiel 2015: Reiner Knizia on Thirty Years of Game Design

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BGG recorded more than two hundred game demonstration videos at Spiel 2015, and while I'm glad that we were able to cover so many different titles in so little time — with dozens of videos still to be published, mind you! — I'm most satisfied that I was able to record the video below, a nearly hour-long interview with designer Reiner Knizia, who is celebrating his thirtieth year as a game designer in 2015.

We met in a hotel near the Messe in Essen, and while avoiding the hackneyed "theme vs. mechanism" question that seems to plague every designer interview, I tried to take a broader approach to the topic of game design, how Knizia's approach to it has changed over time, what constitutes failure in a design, and what might come from him in the future.

I've watched only part of the edited interview due to my aversion to watching myself, but that experience has already provided me learning material for future interviews. Ideally this video provides something worthwhile for you, too!

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Mon Nov 9, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 XXII: Watson & Holmes, Big Brain Bang, Midmoon, Evolution, Ekö, & Swords and Bagpipes

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• The deduction game Watson & Holmes from Jesús Torres Castro and Ludonova was a quiet sell-out at Spiel 2015; I didn't hear that many people mentioning the game, but those who did seemed really excited about it, and copies vanished from the shelves a couple of days into the con. Now you can find out what you missed, assuming of course that you missed it.





• "We are all Scottish nobles," says designer Yan Egorov in a Russian accent that belies the truth of that statement, but make-believe is a part of games playing, and Swords and Bagpipes from Rightgames retells the First War of Scottish Independence, with players trying to support both England and Scotland based on how they'll profit from the war's outcome.





• Danila Goryunov's Big Brain Bang from Rightgames is a combination party game/area control game, which sounds like something I've never seen before, but perhaps I've just had my memory neurons that remember that combination wiped.





• This video on the Evolution: Origin of the Species "Fatality" variant rules from Rightgames and the Variation mini-expansion for Evolution from Dmitry Knorre and Sergey Machin will take less time to watch than the time you've just spent reading this paragraph. Well, almost less time. Depends on how long I keep extending this paragraph, I suppose...





• In Midmoon: The City of Guilds from Pandora's Box and Rightgames, players try to build up said city to a larger hub of business activity. One odd thing about this game is that I approved the game listing in early October, the publisher uploaded images, then at some point it was sent back to the revision queue, thereby making it invisible for anyone who isn't an admin. Curious, although stranger bugs have happened in the database before...





• Designer Henri Kermarrec has already written a designer diary on his strategy game Ekö from Sit Down! for BGG News, and now you can hear him describe the game in person, giving you a voice in which to read the diary should your brain work along those lines.

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Sat Nov 7, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 XXI: Tales from Taiwan — Joraku, Burano, Dadaocheng, Kitty Paw, Falling Coin, and Runes & Ruin

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• Taiwan Boardgame Design (TBD) works along the lines of Japon Brand by representing a number of self-publishers and helping them to have more of a presence than if everyone went off on their own. For Spiel 2015, TBD had a nice layout in Hall 7 with many new games on display, and we featured several of them in the BGG booth, including Iori Tsukinami's Joraku from Moaideas Game Design, which is a combination of trick-taking and area control, with players trying to use their daimyo to march their loyal samurai to Kyoto.





• Like Murano from Lookout Games, Burano from Yu-Chen Tseng, Eros Lin, and EmperorS4 Games is set in the Venetian Lagoon, and in this game players want to fish, make lace, and do other activities to earn themselves points.





• Dadaocheng is an area in Taipei that was an active trading port in the 19th century, and Soso Studio's Dadaocheng from Eason Kao and Tsai Huei-Chiang has players collecting goods through a "match three" puzzle mechanism, then using those goods for bigger and better things.





• Designer/artist Aza Chen is responsible for a waterfall of cuteness in Cat Tower, Cat Box, Doggy GO! and other titles, and the cuteness continues in Kitty Paw from his own Li-He Studio, with players scrambling to grab the cats that they need and arrange them in just the right way.





Shen-Hao Chang's Runes & Ruins from Homosapiens Lab pits heroes versus shadow followers, with the heroes trying to collect enough runes to seal the shadows and keep the Shadow Lord at bay while the shadow followers walk side-by-side with the heroes in secrecy without revealing themselves.





Falling Coin from Ying-Tan Liu and Homosapiens Lab is a microgame with a simple premise: Don't let the coin fall. If you do, you lose the game. I've played this microgame a handful of times, with restaurants being a great play space for it since the playing time is a couple of minutes and you need no table space!

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Fri Nov 6, 2015 1:00 pm
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The Ravens of Thri Sahashri to Return from Osprey Games

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Osprey Games has announced that it will release a new edition of Kuro's self-published two-player cooperative game The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, with this item being scheduled for a May 2016 release and a $22/£15 MSRP. The backstory of the game has changed somewhat, and the Osprey Games edition has one new element. Some details:

Quote:
This co-operative card game for two players tells the story of a young woman trapped in a coma, her devoted friend who can share her dreams, and the soul-destroying ravens that are trying to devour her memories.

Duncan Molloy, Osprey's Games Developer, had this to say: "What makes this game special is the fusion of a truly heart-rending story and extremely elegant and nuanced game mechanics. It is a game like no other I've ever played, combining hidden information with a deteriorating deck, as the Ravens destroy memory cards between rounds. Only one player has access to the deck of memories, while only the other player knows which cards they need. We've also added an element unique to this edition: three sealed envelopes, to be opened upon completing the game, but only if certain conditions have been met."

For more details on the gameplay, here's an overview of the original edition from Manifest Destiny at Spiel 2014 from Simon Lundström, who translated the rules into English for the Japon Brand release that year:

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Thu Nov 5, 2015 7:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 XX: Not-So-Ancient Greece Edition — Project: ELITE, Amphipolis, Crazy Bullets, Mess Machine, OMG, Sing it!, Oath of the Brotherhood & The Pursuit of Happiness

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• "We begin each round by spawning aliens on the board." That phrase tells you a lot about Project: ELITE from Konstantinos Kokkinis and Sotirios Tsantilas, which was co-published by Artipia Games and Drawlab Entertainment. In slightly more detail, Earth has been invaded, and you need to work with your fellow players to fend off the invaders.





• Each time I see the cover of The Pursuit of Happiness, a design by Adrian Abela, David Chircop and Artipia Games, I'm surprised by it. Not so much by the cover itself, but rather with the idea that this game is from Artipia as I associate that publisher with more graphically intricate and high-impact covers such as those on Archon, Briefcase and Drum Roll.





• I've heard the same quick description of Reiner Knizia's Amphipolis from Desyllas Games from more than one person, that description being "Ra without the auctions". For more detail than that, here's a video overview:





• Christopher Vasiliou's Crazy Bullets from Desyllas Games has you in the Wild West slapping not the holster by your side, but the card pile that grows in front of you — ideally beating other players in the process so that you can fire off your cards and win first.





Mess Machine from Nikolaos Chondropoulos and Desyllas presents players with a semi-cooperative puzzle that they want to reassemble, but more than mere reassembling you want other players to take the action that you've secretly chosen in order to score points from their efforts, but you also score when placing the right piece in the right location.





• Desyllas' Oath of the Brotherhood from Vangelis Bagiartakis and Tony Cimino is one of the hundred or so games that we recorded a demo of at Spielwarenmesse at the start of 2015, but now we have one of the co-designers on site to talk about the game, so here it is again.





• The card game OMG from George Christofidis and Desyllas challenges you to dump your god cards before anyone else, but you need to match them to do so, in addition to drawing on the gods for their help (and special powers).





• Vangelis Bagiartakis is also the designer of the party game Sing it!, in which you try to call lyrics to mind that feature certain words of phrases in them, and I can tell you right now that anyone looking to crush me in a game has a fine choice with this title unless the cards feature only the words "eat", "sleep", "rave" and "repeat".

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Thu Nov 5, 2015 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: 7th Sea Sails to New Owner, Tak Comes to Life & New Battles in the Horus Heresy

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• U.S. publisher Alderac Entertainment Group has sold the publication rights for its 7th Sea game line to John Wick Presents, John Wick being "part of the original AEG development crew", according to a press release about the deal. An excerpt from that announcement:

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[W]e created some awesome worlds together during our first 5 years of business but 7th Sea was his personal passion project and while it benefited from being published at AEG, it was his baby. This deal puts the game the world he loves back in his hands and gives AEG an opportunity to adventure once again on the high seas in one of the most beloved gaming worlds of the last 20 years.

AEG notes that it will retain rights to "publish a number of products" — card and board games, as noted later in the press release — within the 7th Sea line over the next few years, although it has nothing specific to announce now. In the press release, AEG CEO John Zinser says, "We are excited that we get to keep the part of the playground we do best and let JWP start to grow the brand again from the ground up."

• Thames & Kosmos, the U.S. branch of KOSMOS, has received Michael Menzel's Legends of Andor at its warehouse, along with the New Heroes and The Star Shield expansions, and plans to start shipping them to retailers by Nov. 6, 2015.

Mega Civilization doesn't have a U.S. release date, but retailer Funagain.com will have copies for sale at BGG.CON 2015. Bring an empty suitcase if you plan to take one home!

• Designer James Ernest has posted beta rules for Tak, an abstract strategy game that appeared in the novel The Wise Man's Fear from Patrick Rothfuss, but without being described other than "an abstract strategy game that lies somewhere on the continuum between chess and go". Ernest plans to run tests of this game until February 2016, then launch a Kickstarter to pay for publication — assuming that someone doesn't break the game prior to then.

• Ernest and his Cheapass Games also have more Pairs decks in the works — six of them right now, with each having original art and rules for a new game that can be played with the Pairs deck. (The Pairs Companion (PDF) already has twenty ways to play games using this deck. As I've told Ernest, I'm amazed by how many iterations Pairs has had and how new games keep branching off from it like Jesus breaking bread for thousands, yet still being able to supply more with the same loaves. I'm not religious, but that's the imagery that came to me — someone discovering new games endlessly from the same source while the source itself is never diminished.)

The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth is a new Games Workshop release that has had little information released, but several details leaked, such as this component list and these images on Bell of Lost Souls and more images and some rule scans via Beasts of War. I've seen notices of the game being available for preorder on Nov. 7, 2015, but copies of the game are already in the hands of some, so who knows?


Image courtesy Bell of Lost Souls
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Wed Nov 4, 2015 7:34 pm
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Conquer the Galaxy — Or Liberate It — in Star Wars: Rebellion

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U.S. publisher Fantasy Flight Games has already given gamers plenty of options for playing in the Star Wars universe, from card games (Star Wars: The Card Game) to miniature games (Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game and Star Wars: Armada) to role-playing games (with three families of Star Wars titles) to ground-based combat in a board game (Star Wars: Imperial Assault, the publication of which suggested that FFG's license for Star Wars was no longer limited to "card, roleplaying, and miniatures games", as was the case in 2011 when the license was first announced).

But now FFG plans to add yet one more way to experience George Lucas's creation on your game table — Star Wars: Rebellion from Corey Konieczka, with this design pitting the Galactic Empire versus the Rebel Alliance in a board game of intergalactic combat and intrigue. Here's an overview of the game from the publisher:

Quote:
Experience the Galactic Civil War like never before. In Star Wars: Rebellion, you control the entire Galactic Empire or the fledgling Rebel Alliance. You must command starships, account for troop movements, and rally systems to your cause. Given the differences between the Empire and Rebel Alliance, each side has different win conditions, and you'll need to adjust your play style depending on who you represent:

• As the Imperial player, you can command legions of Stormtroopers, swarms of TIEs, Star Destroyers, and even the Death Star. You rule the galaxy by fear, relying on the power of your massive military to enforce your will. To win the game, you need to snuff out the budding Rebel Alliance by finding its base and obliterating it. Along the way, you can subjugate worlds or even destroy them.

• As the Rebel player, you can command dozens of troopers, T-47 airspeeders, Corellian corvettes, and fighter squadrons. However, these forces are no match for the Imperial military. In terms of raw strength, you'll find yourself clearly overmatched from the very outset, so you'll need to rally the planets to join your cause and execute targeted military strikes to sabotage Imperial build yards and steal valuable intelligence. To win the Galactic Civil War, you'll need to sway the galaxy's citizens to your cause. If you survive long enough and strengthen your reputation, you inspire the galaxy to a full-scale revolt, and you win.


Quote:
Featuring more than 150 plastic miniatures and two game boards that account for thirty-two of the Star Wars galaxy's most notable systems, Rebellion features a scope that is as large and sweeping as any Star Wars game before it.

Yet for all its grandiosity, Rebellion remains intensely personal, cinematic, and heroic. As much as your success depends upon the strength of your starships, vehicles, and troops, it depends upon the individual efforts of such notable characters as Leia Organa, Mon Mothma, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Emperor Palpatine. As civil war spreads throughout the galaxy, these leaders are invaluable to your efforts, and the secret missions they attempt will evoke many of the most inspiring moments from the classic trilogy. You might send Luke Skywalker to receive Jedi training on Dagobah or have Darth Vader spring a trap that freezes Han Solo in carbonite!

Star Wars: Rebellion is for 2-4 players, with a playing time of 180-240 minutes, a $100 MSRP, and an anticipated Q1 2016 release date. In its announcement of the game, FFG provides more details of the game play, highlighting how the different sides of this combat might view the many worlds available to them.

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Wed Nov 4, 2015 1:00 pm
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Spiel 2015 XIX: Food Chain Magnate, Poseidon's Kingdom, Area 1851, Crabz, Dr. Eureka, Poulettes & King's Forge: Apprentices

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• A new title from Splotter Spellen at Spiel is always a highly anticipated event, and Food Chain Magnate from Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga was teased in advance at the Gathering of Friends in April 2015. Would it make the show? Is it still under development?

Turns out that Splotter delivered to Essen, and as usual Splotter sold out well before the end of Spiel, leaving plenty of gamers still hungry to try out their latest release.





• The Lamont brothers produce a single print run of their titles under the Fragor Games brand, then they let them die unless someone wants to bring them back to life in a new edition, as is the case with their 2011 release Poseidon's Kingdom, which Game Salute ran a crowdfunding campaign for in the latter half of 2014.





• I'm probably wrong, but I can imagine Area 1851 from Justin Blaske and Game Salute originating from a conversation taking place far too late at night at a doughnut shop, everyone tired from the concert they just attended — too tired to go home really but not so tired they can't engage in wordplay and bantering — and someone starts mashing together game titles with whatever comes to mind and after running through Barcassonne and Croissantinole and many other creations lost to time, Blaske paused to wipe the cruller crumbs from his face, then said, "Area 1851".

Like I said, I'm probably wrong.





• Game Salute also unveiled King's Forge: Apprentices from Nick Sibicky, an expansion that mirrors the nature of many expansions these days in that it includes multiple modules (apprentices you can hire, new crafts, components for a fifth player) that can be added in whole or part.





Dr. Eureka is another interactive Roberto Fraga experience from Blue Orange Games, with players racing to complete formulas first in order to score.





• Henri Kermarrec's Crab Stack from BOG is a quick-playing strategy game reminiscent of DVONN in the way that the game board shrinks and a player's movement options vanish over time.





Poulettes from Lionel Borg and Blue Orange (EU) is a real-time competition for earthworms

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Tue Nov 3, 2015 1:00 pm
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