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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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Videos from Gen Con 2014: Subdivision, Epic Resort, The Game of 49, Bring Out Yer Dead & 1750: Britain vs. France

W. Eric Martin
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• Amazingly enough, I can finally see an end to these game demonstration videos that we recorded in the BGG booth at Gen Con 2014 — and it's about time given that a month has passed since that convention. In 2013, we dumped all the videos into BGG's YouTube channel at once, which seemed overwhelming. Who's going to watch 100+ videos in one sitting?! In 2014, I've set them loose at roughly five per day, which has brought us to the current situation of posting about Gen Con at the end of September. For 2015, I guess we'll shoot for twice the publication speed to get everything out faster. I'm sure that all of the game publishers with news of Spiel releases will co-operate by not talking about their games too soon, right?

In any case, we'll lead with designer (and BGG volunteer admin) Lucas Hedgren and his Subdivision from Bezier Games. If you want to know more about the game's background, either before or after this demonstration, head to Hedgren's designer diary on BGG News, which includes early impressions from yours truly after two playings:





• I'll confess to knowing nothing about Jason Huffman's 1750: Britain vs. France from Battle Hardened Games other than what I've seen in passing while assembling this post. Darned lack of omniscience!





• As with that video of 1750: Britain vs. France, this demonstration of Arron Watts' Bring Out Yer Dead from Ginger Ale Games' Max Holliday is a preview of a forthcoming title, albeit one with a giant honkin' coffin that proves to be an eye-catcher when sported at a game convention.





The Game of 49 is the debut release from Mark Corsey and his Markee Games. I used to live near Mark, and he attended my game sessions in Concord, NH many times, almost always with a treat in hand, upstaging me as host as the most I ever offered guests were chairs and oxygen and things like that.

I recall playing a prototype of The Game of 49 at some point during my years in Concord, but beyond that I recall nothing. Still, I backed the game on Kickstarter if only to say thanks to Mark for all the cookies. Being nice to others is sometimes its own reward, but sometimes you're thanked in others ways as well.





• Ben Harkins' Epic Resort from his Floodgate Games was another of the many sellouts at Gen Con 2014, and with his booth being adjacent to BGG's, it was easy to see the many people circling around waiting for a chance to demo the game.

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Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:24 am
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Game Preview: Colors of Kasane, or Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamgame

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Among the many games that I purchased (through surrogates) at Tokyo Game Market in June 2014 was Hinata Origuchi's Colors of Kasane from Ouyuuan. I can't recall the exact description that I saw of the game prior to the show, but it was something along the lines of "you draft cards and try to score particular card combinations without changing the order of the cards you draft".

That's a fair description as far as it goes, despite invitations for comparison to Bohnanza when they really don't apply. In Bohnanza, the restriction on changing the order of cards in your hand provides an incentive for everyone to trade and maximize the value of their hand. You don't have to trade, of course, but if you don't, you're going to end the game with tons of dead beans in your hand and no gold in your pocket.

In Colors of Kasane the restriction comes into play with you trying to push your luck while also deducing what you think the other players might do and which cards might still be in play. Do you score the pair now, or hope that the third card you want/need will be available on your next turn? Plus, since you can reuse one card from a previously played set, you do have some options for messing with card order — not that it makes things any easier for you...

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Sun Sep 21, 2014 3:23 pm
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Game Preview: Bucket King 3D, or Noooo, They Be Stealin’ My Bucket

W. Eric Martin
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Stefan Dorra's card game The Bucket King was released in 2002 by German publisher KOSMOS, then later by Rio Grande Games. While not a trick-taking game, the design feels something like one in that you need to evaluate the strength of your hand after the deal, then build a bucket pyramid with the buckets matching the colors of the cards in the deck.

What's the connection between cards and buckets? During the game that follows you'll be challenged to play cards in a particular suit, and you can't do so (or choose not to), you must knock out a bucket of that color from your pyramid, thereby also toppling any buckets that it supported.

Bucket King 3D from Jolly Thinkers takes the pyramid concept and brings it to life, replacing the flat cardboard buckets of the original with plastic buckets — a reverse Penguin to Pinguin-Party, if you will. While this might seem like a gimmicky change, poking out the plastic buckets and trying not to knock down extra buckets — or just poking super slowly and attempting to maintain pyramidal structural integrity — adds a goofy bit of fun to the game, mirroring the new, more expressive art of this edition.

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Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:27 am
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Videos from Gen Con 2014: The Battle of Five Armies, Battle Merchants, King's Forge, A Duel Betwixt Us & Epic Death!

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• We're back for another handful of game demonstrations recorded in the BGG booth at Gen Con 2014, starting with yet another giant game that debuted at the show: The Battle of Five Armies from Ares Games, which co-designer Roberto Di Meglio talked about for me and you:





• At a convention in April 2014 I recorded a game demonstration video with designer Gil Hova that showed off an advance production copy of his Battle Merchants, which publisher Minion Games had rushed to him in time for the show — but I didn't broadcast the video at the time, figuring that I'd wait until the game was closer to release. So I waited and waited, then suddenly I was swamped with Gen Con and Spiel announcements, then Gen Con happened, and suddenly we have a game demonstration video with designer Gil Hova showing off a finished version of the game without the earlier one ever being aired. Poor planning on my part — sorry, Gil!





• Let's follow a game about crafting weapons for battle with one about crafting weapons for show. Well, I think the weapons are for show as in King's Forge from Nick Sibicky you're trying to impress the king with your weapon-making skills, but what happens with the weapons afterward remains unclear. Perhaps they're just for show in the living room above the couch...





• Three battle-and-weapon-making games need to be followed by Epic Death!, right? This design from Beth Hughes and Sam Lamont and publisher Game Salute has players fighting to achieve the most glorious and legendary death possible.





• To end the fighting and bloodshed for today, we close with A Duel Betwixt Us from Rob Fitzpatrick and Game Salute. Wait a minute, what's this line from the game description: "In A Duel Betwixt Us, weapons are not bought. They are FORGED." More forging of weapons?! Outrageous, sir! Good day!

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Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:56 pm
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Game Preview: Onitama, or Five Actions, No Waiting

W. Eric Martin
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Designer Simpei Sato of conception released the marvelously simple three-player-only Eggs of Ostrich in 2013 (which I previewed on BGG News, and for the 2014 Tokyo Game Market he had another dead simple game: the two-player Onitama.

Based on the short description of Onitama I saw prior to Game Market, I asked someone to pick me up a copy (as part of a larger order I placed via a pair of helpful gamers in Japan) and the game has proved as interesting as I thought it would, with many hard decisions on a fuzzy tree of actions. Only problem: I'm completely terrible at it! I get so focused on picking off the opponent's pawns that I lose track of the goal of the game and end up allowing my opponent an easy victory while I'm off chasing butterflies in the field.

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Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:58 pm
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Game Preview: Boom: Runaway, or I Was Made for Lovin' Bombs, Baby

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I went through a big Dada phase in junior high, absorbing the oddball creations of Tristan Tzara, Schwitters, Duchamp, Grosz and many other artists, finding meaning in the non-meaning as kids in junior high often do. That appeal of the absurd has stayed with me, and I can still appreciate something like Duchamp's "Fountain", which is more about the drive and mindset of the artist than about whatever it is the artist has produced — or "produced", in this case. Sometimes you do something just to see what's possible, to find out whether you can convince the world to inhabit, even if only for a short time, from your point of view.

Thus, one thing that attracts me to games is an absurd theme that's fun to explain to others, whether I'm teaching them the rules prior to playing or just shooting the breeze about what's new on the market. And with that, I present Christwart Conrad's Boom: Runaway from Korea Boardgames, in which players attempt to help bombs escape their own destruction:

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:29 pm
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Videos from Gen Con 2014: Dead of Winter, Munchkin Panic, Knightmare Chess, Car Wars & Mars Attacks: The Dice Game

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• Do people still not know about Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, the sellout title from designers Jonathan Gilmour and Isaac Vega and Plaid Hat Games that blew through the Gen Con 2014 exhibit hall like a tornado? If those people exist — and they probably do — they can find out about the game thanks to PHG's Colby Dauch, who stopped by the BGG booth during that convention to talk about the game.





• Convention sell-outs come both large and small, noisy and not-so-noisy, with an example of the latter being Mars Attacks: The Dice Game, a quick-playing design from Sam Mitschke and Steve Jackson Games' Phil Reed that like so many other titles arrived in advance at Gen Con 2014 only to vanish into the hands of curious gamers.





Knightmare Chess is an ooooold title relative to most everything else that I post about on BGG News, but after being out of print for many years, Steve Jackson Games has produced a new edition of this design from Pierre Cléquin and Bruno Faidutti on its twentieth anniversary. Yes, twenty years!





• What's even older than Knightmare Chess but also returning to print? Steve Jackson's Car Wars, out in a sixth edition for 2014 ahead of a promised large revamping of the Car Wars world that emerged during SJG's monstrous Ogre Kickstarter project.





• While Munchkin Panic is not actually a Steve Jackson Games release, you could be forgiven for thinking it were, given the large Munchkin head on the cover and, well, the Munchkin name. No, this game is a blending of Munchkin-style gameplay with Fireside Games' Castle Panic, as designer Ane-Marie De Witt explains in this presentation:

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:00 am
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Game Preview: Click & Crack, or Hey, That's Not Hey, That's My Fish!

W. Eric Martin
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It's interesting how some games seem to claim ownership of certain concepts. For those versed in modern games, if you see pieces of ice and penguins, Hey, That's My Fish! is probably going to spring to mind, even if said pieces of ice and said penguins aren't from that game.

Such is the case with Jun'ichi Sato's Click & Crack, which debuted from Junias at the Tokyo Game Market in late 2013 and is being released in a new multilingual version in time for Spiel 2014. In this quick-playing game for 3-4 players, you're not trying to eat more fish than the other birds but are instead trying to dominate more space by claiming bits of ice as your own.

And now that designers have covered penguins fighting for both food and land, I hope that someone will work on a design about penguins fighting for air or control of nuclear launch codes. One of those.

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Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:50 pm
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Videos from Gen Con 2014: Doomtown: Reloaded, Wakanda, Cypher, Lost Legacy: The Starship & The Walled City: Londonderry & Borderlands

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• For many of the game demonstration videos that I've been posting from Gen Con 2014, the game has still not been released in the general retail market, so despite a few hundred copies finding their way into gamers' hands at the convention, the video serves as a preview for everyone else.

That's not so much the case here as it really would have been great to run this on September 8, 2014, the street date for Doomtown: Reloaded from designers Dave Williams and Mark Wootton and publisher Alderac Entertainment Group. Ah, well. You can't win 'em all...





• Following the rabid success of Love Letter, AEG has added many small, quick-playing card games to its line-up, with one surprise entry being David Short's Cypher, which showed up at Gen Con 2014 somewhat unexpectedly. I try to stay on top of everything in the convention previews, but sometimes you just can't know.





• And speaking of Love Letter, AEG has released the first title in a sequel of sorts to that game: Lost Legacy: The Starship, which was co-designed by Seiji Kanai and Hayato Kisaragi. More titles will appear in the Lost Legacy line from AEG, and the original Japanese releases of Lost Legacy now number three boxed sets, each with two games, as well as bonus LL games on uncut sheets sold only at conventions.





• In a preview of a Spiel 2014 release, designer Charles Chevallier showed off Wakanda from Blue Orange Games. Very sneaky, Charles!





• Another title that sneaked into the BGG booth at Gen Con 2014 despite copies not being available anywhere was The Walled City: Londonderry & Borderlands from designers Daryl Andrews and Stephen Sauer and publisher Mercury Games. Leaky borders on our part, I suppose, but this video now serves as a preview for you:

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Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:06 am
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Spiel 2014 Preview Update, Plus — Open Thread!

W. Eric Martin
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On Monday, September 8, BGG's Spiel 2014 Preview had 276 game listings on it; today it has 406 listings, i.e. roughly 50% more than it did the week before. I've been busy. (Or lazy, if you consider that I had some of this information prior to last week but hadn't yet entered it on the preview.)

I still have more games to add to the Spiel 2014 Preview — email to act upon; leads to follow; images, prices and booth numbers to request; publishers to poke; and designers to dun — but I thought I'd post a general update to explain why BGG News has not run many game round-ups in the past few days. All of that game info is being chunked into the BGG database and added to the preview, so you'll find it all there!

Perhaps to help others in their search for new stuff to explore or research, you could pull out one title added to the Preview in the past week and write something about it below, preferably linking to the BGG game page so that peeps can easily click for more info. Me, I'm going to go lie down for a few minutes...
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Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:51 pm
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