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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

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Game Previews at BGG.CON 2014: Love Letter Gets Rewritten with The Batman and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

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• My goal at BGG.CON 2014 was to speak with a few publishers and designers about upcoming games, ideally on camera, while also trying out said games so that I could write about them in more detail.

One of my targets, strange as it might sound, was Love Letter: Batman from Seiji Kanai and Alderac Entertainment Group. Why Love Letter: Batman, you might ask yourself, given how well Love Letter is already known and how light the game itself is. That lightness, though, is precisely one of the reasons why I wanted to focus on this game. The number of Batman fans far outnumbers the people who know about Love Letter — or who even know about modern board games for that matter — and that fanaticism for Batman was on display at BGG.CON 2014 where several people passing by the table during our demo shouted "Yeah, Batman!" or something similar.

The low cost of Love Letter: Batman will undoubtedly encourage many of them to pick up the game, just as that cost has made comic book retailers excited to carry the game in the first place, and some percentage of those buyers will go on to discover a fine little game that they otherwise would have never encountered. That's one way that new game players are created, and since I'd love to see more people playing games, I'm excited by the prospect.

Gamers joke about Love Letter becoming like Munchkin — which, of course, it literally already has — but they say that as if it were a bad thing, as if giving people something fun to play or introducing new people to a world that you enjoy is somehow bad. Me, I'm all about hoping that people find something that they love to do, whether or not I'm doing the same thing as them. Sure, I might prefer that everyone like the same games that I do so that they sell well and ensure the designers and publishers a revenue stream that will support their future creative endeavors, but I'll be satisfied with more people gaming no matter what they play.

(Why do I care whether more people are playing games? Because I enjoy playing games and want to share that joy with others, because I want people to discover new concepts in games beyond what they've seen in toy stores for decades, and because I want the possibility of more players with whom to play games. I'm selfish that way. Also, job security.)

Anyway, I played a couple of rounds of Love Letter: Batman at BGG.CON 2014, and it does exactly what's promised: Put a twist on the original game that makes you play it just a little bit differently. You can read the game description on the BGG if you want to know details, or you watch the video below in which I talk with AEG's Todd Rowland about this version of the game, the origins of Love Letter, and other versions of the game coming down the pike, namely Love Letter: Adventure Time and Love Letter: Archer.


In the video above, Todd and I also cover the twists in Love Letter: The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies, another version of the game that's also due out March 2015, but if you haven't watched that video you can catch it all in the shorter video below or read the description on the linked game page that's now live in the BGG database.

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Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:28 pm
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Videos from Spiel 2014 XXVI: Tash Kalar: Everfrost, Dungeon Lords Anniversary, Astro Jam, Kryptos & Family Bingo

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• After a couple of off days (uh oh), it's time to continue with the game demonstrations recorded in the BGG booth during Spiel 2014.

At that convention, Czech Games Edition unveiled a new edition of Vlaada Chvátil's Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends — an edition that CGE will be handing off to distributors in the U.S. as it's now publishing English-language editions of its own titles instead of licensing them to others — and in addition it released a new faction for use with that game: Everfrost. Paul Grogan lets you know what you'll find inside the box:





• For the fifth anniversary of Vlaada Chvátil's Dungeon Lords, CGE stepped onto Kickstarter to offer a supersized edition complete with the expansion and other bits, and 2,300 people backed one version or another (or just the new bits) of Dungeon Lords: Happy Anniversary, which is something of a shelf hog in its final form.





• The basic description of Trefl's Astro Jam from designers Michal Kolos and Wojciech Rzadek will be reminiscent of Space Alert — you and your fellow players are on a damaged space station and must repair all the damaged systems before time runs out — but of course that's the nature of basic descriptions: You leave out all the details that make things not the same. That's what video game demonstrations are for...





• For the best Spiel experience, one should probably not wait until a month after the convention to read the descriptions of games being presented there, especially when the games are being presented by non-U.S. publishers that might be more difficult than usual to acquire (me being in the U.S., that is), but such is the case with Piotr Siłka's Kryptos from Trefl, this being a deduction game in which you're trying to figure out which cards the other players are holding based on color clues and some revealed information. Ah, well, given that we included Kryptos in our Spiel line-up, the BGG library should have a copy on hand that I can check out — although I'll remember to do that in December when it's also far, far too late.





• As a German-only or Polish-only family party game, I can see why Reiner Knizia's Family Bingo from Trefl has not made waves on BGG (other than the lone 1 hate rating), but the game itself seems fine for what it's trying to do: Mesh the victory condition of Bingo, i.e., make a line of chips on a grid, by accomplishing party game-type feats, such as guessing what image someone is creating out of sticks.

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Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:32 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Snake Oil, Losers, Dead Family Members & Much More

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As a personal challenge for this crowdfunding round-up, I'm going to see whether I can restrict my description for each game to a single sentence. Why? Just because.

• Conveniently enough, Out of the Box Publishing has launched its first Kickstarter project for the appropriately named Snake Oil: Elixir, a new version of its Snake Oil party game in which people put together randomly drawn words to pitch a new product to a customer. (KS link)

• In Andy Van Zandt's Zero Day from Jolly Roger Games, players are hackers trying to sneak exploits into the corrupt and oppressive Mainframe. (KS link)

• Another Jolly Roger game in the same KS project is Patrick Lysaght's Glory & Riches, which has players trying to earn a seat on the throne through either economic or military expansion. (KS link)

Don't Be a Loser is a betting party game (as if you couldn't tell) from Matthew Leitz and All Over the Board Games in which a playtester is quoted as almost peeing her pants, which seems like a positive thing even though the game itself is not pee-related and peeing does not help you win, at least as far as I can tell. (KS link)

• Ryan Laukat's Artifacts, Inc. through his own Red Raven Games is all about dealing in ancient goods (a.k.a. swag) to pick up reputation points (a.k.a. swag) faster than anyone else. (KS link)

Spell Saga is a one-player "tabletop novel" card game from Todd Michael Rogers that has far too many backer levels for me to make sense of it, but thankfully I'm sticking to single sentence descriptions here, so I can just stop at the period. (KS link)

• Shane Butler's Paper Toss has you tossing metaphorical papers in your role as newspaper delivery boy — so it's a fantasy game, yes? (KS link)

• The fantasy football (soccer) game Helvetia Cup from Crittin, Largey and Helvetia Games is doing far better in its second go on KS, which includes new expansion teams and a KS exclusive team and lots of other things that drive a project to Kickstarter success. (KS link)

• In contrast, the non-fantasy football game Soccer City from Lisandro Nembrini and Gonzalo Rodrigo, which debuted in Spain in 2013, goes for intense simulation and sweaty, ball-clutching realism as is evident on the cover — wait, that doesn't sound right, does it? (KS link)


Crop Cycle: The Game of Competitive Farming from Trevor Lehmann pretty much gives the gameplay away in the title, but I will note that the game features manipulated photographs of agriculture local to Manitoba and Lehmann has posted eleven designer diary segments to date on the Convergent Games website. (KS link)

• Rob Daviau of IronWall Games has launched a KS for his first release, a new version of Anthony Conta's Funemployed! in which players try to convince others that their oddball skills and possessions would make them the perfect choice for a job as, say, astronaut or priest. (KS link)

• You want to stuff your recently deceased family members in the most ideal plots in the cemetery in Arron Watts' Bring Out Yer Dead, but you're not actually stuffing them in, mind you, not physically stuffing them in; this isn't a dexterity game, after all, although now I'm curious to see what such a game would look like. (KS link)

• Every time I see Jamie Wallis' Lone Wolf: The Battle for Magnamund from Greywood Publishing, I'm thinking it's Lone Wolf and Cub because I'm not familiar with the choose-your-own-adventure style Lone Wolf books from Joe Dever, but the game is based on those and not the manga, so try not to make the same mistake as me, despite me now surreptitiously implanting that false idea. (KS link)

Robots Love Ice Cream: The Card Game is, duh, a card game that's based on a video game of the same name, but you're not one of the robots, no, you're in charge of a weaponized ice cream truck and must protect your precious creamy treat from those ever-clanking metallic maws. (KS link)

• IELLO's World of Yo-Ho has you use your smartphone as a pirate ship, sailing that phone through the waters while cannonballs fly across the screen, ideally destroying someone else and not you. (KS link)

• Toystorian Enterprises is running a KS campaign in which you can get your custom designs engraved in 16mm dice, and while I'm not sure why this is a KS campaign as opposed to just something you can purchase, I'm writing about the project in this BGGN post instead of ignoring it so that 10% commission to KS and Amazon might be money well spent! (KS link)

• Minion Miniatures has a "monsters of the underdeep" KS campaign, but I think it's just for minis, not a game — and what's an "underdeep" anyway? (KS link)

• Al Caynes is looking to self-publish El Luchador Fantastico Grande, his first design and one about dog-grooming, I think —no, macramé conventions? rare book hoarding? I forget... (KS link)

V-Commandos is a co-operative WWII game from Thibaud de la Touanne and Triton Noir in which players can run through pre-set missions or generate their own combining the included objective cards. (KS link)

• Myles O'Neill's Dragon Racer has you and up to three other players — or seven, if you combine two sets — doing just that, albeit with no Monstrous Nightmares in sight. (KS link)

Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:35 pm
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Asmodee to Acquire Fantasy Flight Games

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Three months after the merger of Days of Wonder into the Asmodee Group, another big deal in the games industry is going down, namely the merging of U.S. publisher Fantasy Flight Games into that very same Asmodee Group.

As announced today by FFG, Asmodee and Fantasy Flight Games have a "pending merger of the two companies", and while the terms of the deal weren't disclosed in the announcement, the press release does mention that FFG CEO Christian T. Petersen "will continue as the CEO of Fantasy Flight Games while also becoming a significant shareholder of the combined entity". Petersen explained the nature of the merge in a bit more detail via email: "All existing shareholders of FFG will be selling their shares to the Asmodee Group. I will be reinvesting the majority of my personal proceeds into Asmodee, taking a significant position in the group."

While this announcement will undoubtedly come as a surprise to most in the games industry, FFG and Asmodee have been talking about this possibility on and off since 2010, according to Petersen. "It was very important to me that such an event be a win for FFG's shareholders, for our staff, for our partners, and for the customers — the gamers without whom FFG never would have been," he wrote. "Last February [2014], at the New York Toy Fair, Stéphane Carville (Asmodee's CEO) approached me with a very compelling vision for how to positively merge the two companies that achieved these goals."

That vision works along the same lines as the Asmodee/Days of Wonder deal, with Fantasy Flight Games operating as an independent brand and publishing entity within the Asmodee Group. According to Petersen, "None of FFG's product plans are affected by the merger, and we anticipate that none of our licensing partnerships will be affected. I'm hugely excited for customers to get their hands on games like Star Wars: Imperial Assault, XCOM: The Board Game, Star Wars: Armada, The Witcher, and Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness (not to speak of the future releases we're developing for X-Wing, our LCGs, etc.). We've worked hard on these games, and I'm really proud of the FFG teams and of the product."

"The merger will allow FFG's design and development staff to continue work on games that are true to FFG's unique vision for hobby games," Petersen continued. "In fact, it will allow us to dedicate more resources and focus on the 'large and ambitious' games that are the core of our DNA. Other companies in the Asmodee Group will explore games aimed at the mass [market] and other game categories (such as abstract games), allowing FFG to concentrate on what we do best. This is quite liberating."

As for what might be different under the FFG label in the future, Petersen noted, "You'll probably see a few suitable games from FFG's catalog find their way to other publishers in the Asmodee Group, and vice versa."

So if FFG is going to remain independent, aside from small changes like, say, Ingenious bearing the Asmodee label or Claustrophobia migrating to FFG — and I'm just gassing here, not identifying changes that will actually happen — why make the deal in the first place? What benefits will emerge from the merge?

The press release notes that the "Asmodee Group of game companies will gain access to Fantasy Flight Games' strong sales, operational, and marketing infrastructure in North America, as well Fantasy Flight Games' almost-20 years of expertise in game development and multi-language game manufacturing". What does that mean in more practical terms? "After the merger, I believe that FFG will be the largest, oldest, and most experienced game publisher in the Asmodee Group," Petersen explained. "FFG produces hundred of new SKUs every year, and we coordinate manufacturing and localization across dozens of languages. Over the years FFG has developed and invested in many processes, manufacturing techniques, and propriety software applications to handle and oversee operations unique to the business of global games publishing.  We hope to make many of these tools, processes, and know-how available to the other companies in the group, which in turn should enable them to pass more value along to gamers."

And speaking of other languages, the press release notes that FFG will benefit from Asmodee's "distribution and marketing reach in Europe, greatly improving its product placement and organized play initiatives across the Continent." As Petersen explained, "We are able to do a great deal of support in English for our games (especially our LCGs). This merger will allow us to invest more in European organized play (OP) so there's more, and faster, tournament support (via localized tournament and game night kits), judges, and special events. Our hope is, sometime in the future, to have dedicated Asmodee staff in Europe that can provide great OP experiences for players across the Continent."

But what about FFG's products in other languages? Right now Fantasy Flight Games licenses titles to Edge Entertainment for release in French and Spanish; to Heidelberger Entertainment for release in German; and to Wargames Club, Game Harbor and Swan Panasia for release in Chinese. The Asmodee Group has multiple subsidiaries around the world — Asmodee GmbH in Germany, Asmodee France, Asmodee China, Asmodee Ibérica in Spain, Asmodee US, etc. — with those subsidiaries releasing titles in those very languages, so what's the future of those existing relationships? Petersen says that Heidelberger and Edge Entertainment "will continue to localize and represent FFG" for those markets and "will work with the respective Asmodee divisions to increase marketing and organized play support for those countries". Heidelberger, for example, will "work hand-in-hand with Asmodee to increase FFG's marketing presence in Germany, such as greatly expanding FFG's visibility at shows like Spiel in Essen". (Asmodee had already enlarged its presence at Spiel 2014 to occupy approximately one-quarter of Hall 3, thanks in part to the Days of Wonder acquisition, so perhaps it'll have one-third in 2015 — or, why not, all of Hall 1?)

Petersen added this note about these publishing companies: "The questions regarding partners like Edge and Heidelberger are actually very pertinent. FFG could not have been the company we are today without the work, support, collaboration, and friendship of people like Harald, Heiko, Gilles, and Jose. It was vital to me that those partners find a positive place and future in the context of this merger. I believe we've achieved this." (My translation: Don't be surprised should Asmodee acquire Edge and Heidelberger in the near future. Again, speculation, but I will point to this line in a January 2014 Reuters article about Eurazeo's acquisition of Asmodee at that time: "The acquisition debt was provided by European Capital and Tikehau, which have also made a dedicated debt facility available to the company to finance its external growth." That said, I put the question to Asmodee and company rep Kevin Brown reported the following answer: "For the foreseeable future, it is anticipated that current and upcoming FFG products will continue to be localized and sold by FFG's existing international partners. Asmodee intends to work with those same distributors to broaden product availability, marketing presence, and organized play support where possible.")

As for China, Petersen wrote, "Only a few of our products are available in Chinese — legally anyway." While FFG will continue to partner with Wargames Club, Game Harbor and Swan Panasia "on those products that make sense for them", wrote Petersen, "Asmodee's China offices will allow significantly more FFG games to be localized and available in China which will be a great thing."

What's more, added Petersen, "other than publishing, Asmodee's China office should allow us to do an even better job in our compliance monitoring of product and workplace safety/ethics of factories, a point that is very important to FFG and its licensing partners, and increasingly to gamers."

Asked for closing thoughts on the deal — why this partner, why now — Petersen wrote: "From time to time over the last twenty years, we have experienced interest from outside parties — some very cursory, and some serious. None have balanced all the considerations as carefully and positively as Asmodee's offer. I believe the merger will be a tremendous positive for our staff, our partners, and most importantly, the players who want to see FFG's brand of game products prosper into the future."
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Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:00 pm
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Videos from Spiel 2014 XXV: Ars Alchimia, Villannex, Jushimatsu, Aristo-Maze & Colors of Kasane

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• With Tokyo Game Market taking place — well, already having taken place — today, November 16, 2014, I thought I'd roll out another handful of game demonstration videos from Spiel 2014 that feature titles from Japon Brand and its minimalGames spinoff, starting with Kuro's Ars Alchimia from his Manifest Destiny, which debuted in June 2014 at Tokyo Game Market. I managed to buy a copy of this worker placement from someone who attended TGM, then never managed to get it to the table as I either had too few or too many players or something else was requested or game night was cancelled or my house caught on fire or my guests spoke only Swedish and I could no longer communicate with them. It's always something...





Villannex from Takahiro and KogeKogeDo exemplifies the WTF spirit of some Japanese game designs because when you hear the description, you're not sure that should even work as a game. What's more, after playing it, you still might not be sure that it works as a game — even though, of course, it is a game, just something far different than anything you might have encountered previously.





• I posted an overview video of Hinata Origuchi's Colors of Kasane in September 2014 and think it's an incredibly clever game that challenges you to read others and take chances with which cards might be available as you try to put together scoring sets in twelve turns that fly by far more quickly than you think they will.





• Madoka Kitao's Jushimatsu, a.k.a. 10 Sisters, fits a pattern that I've seen in a few other Japanese releases: an abstract strategy game with a high dose of luck that plays out in five minutes or less. Each player has only ten pieces and draws them one at a time at random while trying to group the finches on those pieces. It's a smartly designed game that does exactly what I think the designer intended: Give players the opportunity to play the odds and fight chance while sometimes allowing for upsets out of the blue.





• Designer BakaFire, who like many Japanese designers publishes under his own brand (BakaFire Party), has found success in the U.S. market with Tragedy Looper, a 2011 release picked up by Z-Man Games. Aristo-Maze, which debuted in Japan in March 2014, is a dungeon crawler of sorts, with player aristocrats trying to get as much loot as possible.

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Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:31 pm
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Videos from Spiel 2014 XXIV: The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, Onitama, Rolling Japan, Secret Moon & One Night Werewolf: Super Powers

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• Another day, another handful of game demonstration videos from Spiel 2014, specifically another batch from the Japon Brand marathon that took place on Saturday when frequent translator Simon Lundström and JB's Tak dove into twenty or so designs over the span of ninety minutes.

With that many games to tackle, the pace needed to be brisk, but when Simon hit Kuro's The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, originally self-published through Kuro's Manifest Destiny and a game that he clearly is infatuated with, he couldn't help himself and gushed over the game for three times the length of anything else covered in the block.





• Seiji Kanai of Love Letter fame released a new team game at Spiel 2014: Secret Moon, with players split between the Princess team that wants to stay hidden for three rounds in the game and the Minister team that wants to hunt them out.





• I've played Shinpei Sato's Onitama a half-dozen times and as I noted in a video on BGG News, I think it's a fantastically designed two-player abstract strategy that offers a lot in a short playing time. I know of at least one party in the U.S. that really wants to bring this title to the U.S. market; we'll see whether or not that happens in the months ahead...





• Hisashi Hayashi's Rolling Japan from his own OKAZU Brand is a quick-playing dice-based game in which you're trying to fill in as much of Japan as possible with the numbers rolled, and as long as you have enough writing devices on hand, you can play with any number of people at the same time.





• Akihisa Okui introduced One Night Werewolf in 2012, then Ted Alspach licensed the game, repackaged it, and released his own expansion for it — and now Okui is back with his own twist on the game: One Night Werewolf: Super Powers, which keeps the gameplay focused on werewolves trying not to be found and killed by those pesky humans in the game, but now each player has a special power that adds new twists to gameplay.

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Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:50 am
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Videos from Spiel 2014 XXIII: Antike II, Concordia: Britannia & Germania, Takamatsu, Lunte, Dawn: Rise of the Occulites & Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age

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• Designer Mac Gerdts has an amazing reputation, with his lowest rated game on BGG out of nine releases being 6.99. For Spiel 2014, he brought two items to the fair, one being the Britannia & Germania expansion for the Kennerspiel des Jahres-nominated Concordia and the other being Antike II, a revamped version of his first release from 2005, Antike.

In this video recorded in the BGG booth during Spiel 2014, Gerdts presents an overview of both items in a few minutes:





• I never imagined samurai as being colorful, but the figures in Martin Schlegel's Takamatsu from Mücke Spiele have a good look to them and certainly make the case for Benetton-inspired outfits for those who are considering a career as a samurai.





• Bruce Whitehill's Lunte from Mücke Spiele puts players in the role of bomb throwers who want to collect lots of fuse cards during play, presumably so that they have sufficient time to get away from the scene of the explosion in order to save their own hides!





• Tom Lehmann's Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age from Gryphon Games builds on Matt Leacock's RTTA: The Bronze Age, transforming the game system to a new era and new lands.





• Typically you see a game's cover image on BGG or a publisher's website, then realize only later when you finally see the game that you thought the box was far larger because of all the detail that you could see in the image. Such is not the case with Dawn: Rise of the Occulites from designer Ben Boersma, Darwin Games and Eagle Games, which comes in one of the largest boxes that I've seen. It's not Planet Steam-size, mind you, but it's not far off.

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Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:47 pm
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Videos from Spiel 2014 XXII: Wir sind das Volk!, 7 Steps, Drecksause, Co-Mix & Dungeon Fighter: Stormy Winds

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• With the news that IELLO has picked up the [thing=102548]Dungeon Fighter[/thing] license for release on the U.S. market, let's start this round-up of game demonstration videos from Spiel 2014 with an overview of Dungeon Fighter: Stormy Winds (get it? nudge nudge), the third expansion for this game, now coming from the newly founded Horrible Games and designer Lorenzo Silva:





• Silva also launched Horrible Games with the party game Co-Mix, a design of his own in which players need to use comic panels — artwork on tiny cards — in order to create a story on the fly.





• I really should have posted this video this past Sunday, given the artistic, 25th anniversary recreation of the Berlin Wall that was set aloft that day, but alas, I wasn't on the ball in terms of co-ordinating that publication. In any case, here now is a presentation of Richard Sivél and Peer Sylvester's Wir sind das Volk!, which was published by Sivél's Histogames.





• German publisher KOSMOS publishes one nifty-looking abstract strategy game every six months, and for the latter half of 2014 that game is 7 Steps from designers Michael Kiesling and Reinhard Staupe. Looking at the box cover, I expected the game to include a multitude of tiny tokens, but the wooden chips turned out to be far larger than I thought — which is a good thing since you're building towers from them over the course of the game.





• If it's time for Spiel, then it's time for a new German game featuring animals that are making a mess of themselves. You just need to ask yourself: "How will they soil themselves this time?" In Gunter Baars' Drecksause from KOSMOS, they're going to need your help, specifically a push from your broom as they're so rotund that they apparently can't move on their own.

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Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:08 am
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New Game Round-up: Discover New Friends for Imperial Settlers, New Villains in Fear Itself & New/Old Solar Cycles in Sky Tango

W. Eric Martin
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• Well, how about that? BGG.CON has apparently become a "release" con, at least to some degree — that is, a convention at which publishers feel its worth their time to debut new items. To wit, designer Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games has announced that Imperial Settlers: Why Can't We Be Friends, the first Empire Pack for Imperial Settlers, will debut at BGG.CON 2014 before being released in Europe in December 2014 and in the U.S. in January 2015.

As for the contents of this expansion, it includes new common cards for the central deck, new cards for each of the base game's four factions, and two new cards for use in the solo game with some factions. One new effect found on the cards is "open production", an ability that allows an opponent to visit your building for the resource produced there while giving you the worker who made that trek. Hope you can put him to use once again!

Upper Deck Entertainment's next expansion for its Legendary deck-building game system is Legendary Villains: Fear Itself, due out in February 2015. This 100-card expansion is based on the "Fear Itself" storyline from Marvel Comics, and it consists of one new adversary group; one new commander; three new plots; and six new allies from The Worthy: Kuurth, Mul, Skirn, Nerkkod, Greithoth and Skadi. No, I don't know who they are either. For the most part, my knowledge of Marvel Comics history stopped in the mid-1980s.

IELLO has picked up the license for Dungeon Fighter and plans to bring the base game and its expansions back to print in early 2015.

• This announcement is a mystery item as Looney Labs releases a holiday gift each year — sometimes a rules PDF of a new game, sometimes promo cards for existing games, and sometimes something weeeeeird. For 2014, the item is something physical, and you can sign up for that free something on the Looney Labs website. Last day to sign up is today, Nov. 13, 2014!

• F2Z Entertainment, owner of the Z-Man Games and Filosofia brands, has announced that those publishers will release English and French versions of Jacques Zeimet's Sonne und Mond — first released in 2012 by Drei Hasen in der Abendsonne — on the North American market in 2015 under the name Sky Tango. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
In Sky Tango, you trace the cycles of the moon and the sun by creating series of cards that illustrate the passing of time. Eclipses can appear and ruin your paths, but don't let them discourage you for the sun and moon will always reappear. Will your solar and lunar cycles lead you to victory?

In game terms, the deck of cards consists of numbered sun and moon cards (some of which feature animals) as well as eclipse cards. Players place the cards in stacks in ascending order, either in front of themselves or in front of others. When a stack is five cards high, it can be removed and scored for points. Stacks can be interrupted by eclipse cards, which in turn can be covered by the appropriate sun or moon cards. Playing a card with an animal allows a player to play again, which is sometimes advantageous, but sometimes not. The player who removes the most cards from play wins!

• As noted in May 2014, Z-Man Games picked up Holger Bösch's Black Stories — a game consisting of murder mysteries that players try to reconstruct by asking questions that allow only "yes" or "no" answers — for release in a new English edition, and now the company is surveying Facebook users to determine the game's final name.

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Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:38 pm
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Videos from Spiel 2014 XXI: Lost Legacy II & III, Isaribi, Ninja Taisen, See-Know-Buzz & The Edict of King Budeaunia

W. Eric Martin
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• For this game demonstration round-up from Spiel 2014, I thought that I'd start tackling the pile of videos featuring titles from Japon Brand and its minimalGames spinoff brand. Translator Simon Lundström and Japon Brand's Tak presented 15-20 games in a 90-minute block on Saturday at Spiel, and the blitz was somewhat spellbinding.

To start with, Lost Legacy from Seiji Kanai and Hayato Kisaragi is a game, a pair of games, and a game system all in one. The initial Japanese release included two separate games in one box, with the cards being both interchangeable and combinable, and a third Lost Legacy game was given at Game Market as a promo item that you'd cut apart yourself.

The designers and publisher One Draw have released two subsequent Lost Legacy games — Lost Legacy: Hyakunen Senso to Ryu no Miko and Lost Legacy: Binbo Tantei to Inbo no Shiro — with each consisting of two standalone (but combinable) games. (Lost Legacy Legend, which will debut at Tokyo Game Market on Nov. 16, is a set of eight(!) games from designers who are riffing on the LL format, but that set is Japanese-only, unlike the previous LL releases.)





• As is the case with many releases from Japon Brand, Hisashi Hayashi's Isaribi debuted at Tokyo Game Market in the middle of the year, then was later brought to the larger market at Spiel in Essen — although the game sold out via preorders long before Spiel even started, so it's not like the game even received a full debut. Maybe someday...





• KogeKogeDo's The Edict of King Budeaunia from designers Sayaka and Takahiro mimics Thebes in that players dig through dirt in order to find things, but in this case players can find monsters and hot springs as well as treasures. Okay, finding monsters might not be so good for you...





• I've played Katsumasa Tomioka's Ninja Taisen four times now on a press copy from Japon Brand and found it a great little take on RPS, with each player having the same forces and trying to plan for advances and attacks as well as is possible given your reliance on the die rolls each turn.





• Masanofu's See-Know-Buzz from Yū-gen Roman is a supremely odd minimalist card game in which you're trying to overpower the other players, but you're not exactly sure (at least some of the time) what your power might be, with bluffing and deduction both coming into play as you figure out when to duck and when to attack.

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Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:12 pm
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