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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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Crowdfunding Round-up: Groping in the Dark for Vikings, Wizards, Animals & More

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This might be hard to believe, but in the BGG News post that went live just a few days ago I didn't exhaust the list of games undergoing crowdfunding. I know, right? In fact, I heard from quite a few people that I had missed this game or that, such as Shem Phillips' Raiders of the North Sea, a Viking design from his own Garphill Games (KS link) or the completely different Viking game Norsaga from Kevin Bishop and Meromorph Games in which players are Viking poets who try to create sagas from their cards in hand (KS link)

• Travis Hancock's card game Salem has no relation to Joshua Gerald Balvin's crowdfunded-in-2012-but-still-not-released card game Salem — other than the setting, of course, and the nature of witches being hidden among the players in the game — but man, you probably want to avoid such coincidences when you're running a c.f. campaign. (KS link)

Earth Encounters from Taylor Walker and Lawrence Walker bills itself as an anti-trivia game because the questions you need to answer are about meaningful topics, not trivial ones — but you're still answering questions to advance, so...trivia? (KS link)

• Despite what you think when you first hear the name, Matthew O'Malley's Knot Dice are indeed dice, with these homophonically-challenged Celtic-inspired dice can be used in multiple games. (KS link)

• Andrew Rouse's Dexikon from Eagle-Gryphon Games is a deck-building word-spelling game that's accompanied by a detailed four-part designer diary blog on BGG that includes an overview of how Dexikon is not like Paperback. (KS link)

• Isaias Vallejo's Valeria: Card Kingdoms from Daily Magic Productions is a deck-buildingish, tableau-building game in which your cards on the table can be activated by die rolls on both your turn and opponents' turns. (KS link)

• After building a kingdom, perhaps you'd like to take one down in TJ Dunbar's Castle Assault, a tower defense card game with a cover that perpetuates the notion that the finest fighting gear for ladies keeps the midriff exposed to ensure that nothing inhibits their ability to swing a sword. (KS link)

Arcasam: Beat the Dragon from Lukas Litvaj is the first KS project I've seen from Slovakia, which probably means just as much to you as that one from Denmark that I mentioned last time, but there it is. Slovakia representin'! In the game, you're trying to collect stuff and beat the dragon, as advertised. (KS link)

• You'll find friendlier critters to play with in Push a Monster from Wolfgang Dirscherl, Manfred Reindl and Queen Games, a game in which players try to ease monsters onto a platform without knocking anything off while making it likely that others will push off something on their turn. Michael Schacht's memory game Chef Alfredo is part of the same KS campaign. (KS link) (Disclosure: Queen Games hired me to edit the rules for these two games. —WEM)

Paws: Devious Dogs versus Crafty Cats from Steven Fields and 2GeeksGaming is an old school card-shedding game. (KS link)

• Yet another animal-based game thing on KS is Pixel Glory: Pets, a Kickstarter-only expansion for Frank Alberts and Russell Ng's dungeon-crawling card game Pixel Glory. (KS link)

• A more souped-up animal battle can be found in Wizards of the Wild from Dan Schnake, Adam West and CrossCut Games, with players as animal wizards who use custom dice to acquire and cast spells. (KS link)

• And we can move from animal wizards to plain ol' human wizards in Wizard's Academy from Gregory Carslaw and 3DTotal Games, a cooperative scenario-driven game of "magical experimentation". Oh, wait — some of those wizards are also animals. Nevermind! (KS link)

• Kory Jordan's Touchy Feely from Eleventy Games is a party game that you play in the dark — but it's not that type of party game so getcher mind outta the gutter. People receive cards with tasks on them, the lights go out, they try to do the tasks, then lights on for scoring. (KS link)

Neon Sanctum from Grenade Punch Games is a card-based RPG that a user described to me as "a cross-over between role-playing and card game because almost all the player actions are in some way tied to the cards they have in their deck". Continues this user: "I think the mechanism is really creative and novel and the game deserves more attention than it's currently getting, in particular from board gamers who would not play pure pen-and-paper RPGs, but who enjoy story-driven thematic games." The game is listed on RPG Geek, but it does seem appropriate enough to include here. (KS link)

Deadzone: Infestation is the latest iteration? expansion? spin-off? of the Deadzone miniatures title from Mantic Games, but looking over the project I'm not even sure what Deadzone: Infestation is. Just a mission pack? What are all these figures? Are they separate expansions? Pick and choose add-on items? I'll confess that the BGG database is sorely challenged by such games and could use a bit of RPG Geekness in terms of how it handles such game systems. (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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Mon Apr 6, 2015 6:00 am
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New Game Round-up: Science for Humanity, Churches for Carcassonne & Fluxx for the TableTop

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• In April 2015, U.S. publisher Atlas Games plans to release Three Cheers for Master from Daniel Windfeld Schmidt, and the game description gives you a feel for the setting, if not the gameplay:

Quote:
Master has been blue lately. It's just not the same now that all lands known to evil have been conquered — and when Master's blue, it's the minions who suffer.

As a lieutenant in Master's army — a foreminion — it falls to you to cheer him up. Not the easiest task, even in the best of times. But then it hit you: What better way to cheer Master up than a cheerleading competition?

Whichever foreminion builds and scales the most impressive tower of war-hungry minions in Three Cheers for Master will surely win Master's heart. What could possibly go wrong?


• On Facebook, Horrible Games has teased Dungeon Fighter: Rock and Roll, offering only this image and an April 2015 date (for release? for more information?).


• In late 2014, Cards Against Humanity released a 30-card Science Pack expansion for the 2014 Bay Area Science Festival, and now that pack is available through the CAH online store, with proceeds from sales funding a Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador Scholarship for women who are pursuing college degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. On Think Progress, Jessica Goldstein describes the development of the Science Pack and the origins of the scholarship program.

• Another expansion pack being released for a long-lived best-seller is the Fluxx: International TableTop Day Expansion, which will debut on April 11, 2015, which happens to be International TableTop Day. What are the odds! This pack consists of five Keepers, four Goals, and one Action, and it's one of many promo things in the TableTop Day retail kit available to participating retailers.


Carcassonne: Burgen in Deutschland is a mini-expansion for Carcassonne from German publisher Hans im Glück. Yes, another one! It's almost like people really like Carcassonne and keep buying lots of extra stuff for the game, which then encourages HiG to make even more. Almost. Here's an overview of this expansion, which is available through HiG's online shop only through April 11, 2015, with the expansion not available again until Spiel 2015 in October:

Quote:
At the start of the game, each player receives one (with 4-6 players) or two (with 2-3 players) of the double-sized castle tiles. During the game, a player can choose to place on their castle tiles instead of the regular tile in hand, with tile parts needing to match as usual; when the player places it, they can place a meeple somewhere on the tile. If the meeple is in the main castle, the tile counts as a cloister and is worth 12 points when completely surrounded. If a castle or road is completed during the game and part of that structure is on a castle tile, then the castle or road is worth 3 additional points, no matter who placed the tile.

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Sat Apr 4, 2015 10:14 pm
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Friedemann Friese Floods the Market with 504

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Each year at Spiel, the annual game convention in Essen, Germany, designers and publishers present hundreds of new games to thousands of fairgoers. At Spiel 2014, for example, convention organizer Friedhelm Merz Verlag estimates that more than 850 new games were on hand.

Believe it or not, the number of new games at Spiel 2015 will probably soar to at least 1,300, with more than five hundred of those games packed into a single giant box at the 2F-Spiele stand. Yes, with the release of 504 in October 2015, designer Friedemann Friese will give you 504 games in one box. Here's his overview of the game:

Quote:
504 is a game that creates 504 different games out of one box. The game consists of nine modules: Wargame, Pick-up & Deliver, Production, Streets, Exploration, Racing, Majority, Add-Ons, and Stocks.

In each single game, you take three different modules from the nine available and assemble them in any order you like to create a new game.

• This can be a Wargame with an economy based on Pick-up & Deliver with bonus scoring from Majorities.
• This can be a Racing game on a board that starts small and grows through Exploration together with some tech-cards to be acquired as Add-Ons for better racing or exploration.
• This can be an 18XX-style stock game — the player colors are companies with stocks — with network building (Streets) for the income and building Production sites to produce the workers for the street building.

Each single game takes from 30 to 120 minutes to play.

How does the 504 concept work in reality? Picture a children's book that's divided so that the pages can be flipped independently in different sections — something along the lines of this:



I played the game — well, one of the games — in early 2014 in prototype form, and to determine what to play Friese flipped through his handmade game manual to 743, with 7 being exploration, 4 being streets, and 3 being majority. (I don't recall the actual number, but I think those were the mechanisms that comprised our game.) By flipping the manual, you turn to the specific rules for each type of mechanism and the aspect of the game in which that mechanism if being used. The last number, at least in the prototype, corresponds to special details of play, which means that 743 and 473 will have these same details, but the set-up and gameplay and scoring differ because you're reversing the mechanisms used for them.

This concept blew me away when Friese first told me about it, and I'm still astounded by the audacity of it, by what's effectively another go at Copycat in the sense of him mixing multiple game mechanisms into a single design — but with 504 going even bigger.

At Spiel 2014, Friese explained that in addition to conducting playtests in real life, he had created a digital version of 504 in order to test all 504 games to ensure that they all worked, that no corner cases in the rules weren't answered, and that he could experience all that he had created through his madness. Okay, he didn't put it that way, but that's my interpretation.

For more details on 504 game system, what the modules are like, and where you can first try out the game (assuming you're near Toronto, Canada), head to Friese's "My 1x504 Challenge" GeekList.

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Thu Apr 2, 2015 10:11 pm
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Links: Planning Your Game Design, Surviving in Pandemic & Settling in Brooklyn

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• I haven't played Magic: The Gathering in a long time, but I still read head designer Mark Rosewater's "Making Magic" column each week because I enjoy reading about Magic design and because Rosewater often talks about game design in general — or at least about Magic design in a way that can be translated to game design in general. His March 30, 2015 column "Nuts & Bolts: The Three Stages of Design" is one such piece, explaining how Magic sets go through "three distinctly different yet equal-sized stages — what we have since named the vision stage, the integration stage, and the refinement stage". An excerpt:

Quote:
The Vision Stage

This first stage is about creating a vision for the set. What exactly is the set about? What are its themes? What are its mechanics? What emotional impact is the set supposed to create? What story does the set have to reinforce? This first stage is about defining what the set is up to, crafting its structure, and building its foundation.

Now, before design begins, we have something we call exploratory design... The role of exploratory design is not about finding answers but rather asking questions. It is important for us to walk into a design with a good understanding of all the constraints being put before us. Exploratory design allows us the luxury of scoping out problems we're going to have to solve before we have to actually solve those problems. The exploratory design team also comes up with a lot of ideas of mechanical directions we could explore. Thus, when we start design we're not starting from ground zero...

Pandemic and POX: Save the People show up in a MindShift article by Matthew Farber titled "Three Games About Viruses That Teach Interconnectedness".

• Speaking of Pandemic, publisher Z-Man Games has announced hosting sites for "Pandemic Survival" events on TableTop Day as well as the location of some national events. If you win a preliminary round, you make it through to the National Championship and the winners of those events can participate in the World Championship at Spiel 2015 in October. The prize? "The winning team will be able to use the ability of the Airlift card and fly to the city of their choice – that appears on the Pandemic board – limit of $ 5,000 per winner, 1 week vacation. The city chosen by each winner may be different."

When I spoke with Z-Man owner Sophie Gravel about this competition, she noted that visa clearance, valid passports, and other details are the responsibility of the winners — and she seemed hesitant about the idea of signing off on a trip to Baghdad, but I'd assume the winners would probably head to another location.



• On Slate, Chris Berdik writes about MIT Education Arcade director, Eric Klopfer and creative director Scot Osterweil and why they promote the use of games — but not gamification — in schools.

• Can you get ants to solve a knight's tour on a chessboard? How about ant-based algorithms? Now you're talking! (HT: Graham Kendall)

• Are you ready to play — no, live — The Settlers of Brooklyn, courtesy of Above Average?

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Thu Apr 2, 2015 7:08 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: No Pranks Included — Only Honest-to-Goodness Projects That You Still Might Not Believe Are Real

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We've barely cleared the edge of March, but the crowdfunding projects announced during that month have nearly clogged the internet pipes leading to my house. Time to clear them out before the next wave of enthusiastic publishers and would-be publishers, and once again I'll be zipping through these games as quickly as I can. Let's see how minimalist I can get!

• You already know whether or not you want Car Wars Arenas, yes? (KS link)

• Gordon Calleja's Posthuman from Mr. B Games is not about a lone mail carrier in an apocalyptic wasteland, but rather about other types of humans in a sort of non-apocalyptic wasteland. (KS link)

• Stephen Finn's Cosmic Run from his own Dr. Finn's Games is, as the title suggests, a race through space. It has dice and artwork. (KS link)

Among Nobles from Danish publisher Among Meeples and a team of five designers is the first Kickstarter that I'm aware of from a publisher in Denmark. Not sure whether that should affect your decision to look into this game one way or 'tother, but now I've directed the conversation in that direction. Hmm. (KS link)

Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics! from Jason Thompson and Mock Man Press tells you what it is in the subtitle. (KS link)

• The best thing about Mark McLaughlin's Holy Roman Empire: The Thirty-Years War from One Small Step being on Kickstarter is the huge label near the top of the page that reads "Holy Roman Empire is EU-friendly". Some might argue with that statement. Some might also argue that it's not the best thing. (KS link)

• I was not aware that Poland had its own crowdfunding site, but why not? Perhaps it has several even. I know little about Poland. The game being focused on here is Warsaw Rising Up 1945-1980 from Piotr Grzymisławski, Łukasz Szopka and Fabryka Gier Historycznych, with players working to rebuild Warsaw in the aftermath of World War II. (Wspieram link)

• Teale Fristoe's Birds of a Feather from Nothing Sacred Games has you trying to spot birds in various habitats, but the birds that show up are determined by and your fellow players. (KS link)

• Let's pair birds with bears and follow that listing with Pandánte: Light & Dark from David Sirlin at Sirlin Games is an expansion for the gambling game Pandánte, coming out in a second edition at the same time, that adds new powers to the game, casinos that each have a different effect on play, panda champions, and other items. (KS link)

Ninja All-Stars is from Soda Pop Miniatures and features chibi ninja characters and the possibility of lots of add-on purchases. (KS link)

• Shire Post Mint has been making metal coins under license from George R.R. Martin since 2003, and it's currently featuring a KS campaign for replacement coins that can be used in board and card games featuring A Game of Thrones. (KS link)

Mahou Shojo: Fight Like a Girl! from DeerFox Games needs to have a publisher listing in the BGG database. Also, a designer listing. As for the game, it's a two-player fighting game. Is that enough to let you know whether to look at it further or not? I hope so because I'm moving on to the next thing. (KS link)

• Simon McGregor's Ancient Terrible Things: The Lost Charter from Pleasant Company Games feels like it should be released by a different publisher — unless PCG is going for irony, I suppose. This expansion expands the game with expansive items. (KS link)

Calliope Games has launched The Titan Series, which features nine — no, twelve — no, possibly even more games delivered to you in batches all the way to 2019. Not much detail about the games, but that's sometimes one of the attractions of Kickstarter, yes? Low price point now vs. perfect information later? (KS link)



• John Clowdus of Small Box Games is pitching Soulfall on KS, with fantastic (in the literal sense) art by Sandro Rybak. I've enjoyed the few games that I've played from Clowdus, and it's nice to see him plugging along with his designs. (KS link)

• Tim Fowers' self-published "cooperative heist" game Burgle Bros. looks swanky as all get-out. (KS link)

• For April Fool's Day, instead of pranking people Dice Hate Me Games has put out a quick run KS that takes a meta apporoach to gaming with two small card games: Deck Building: The Deck Building Game from Christopher Badell and Unpub: The Unpublished Card Game from JR Honeycutt and Doug Levandowski. Mo' meta. (KS link)

Ares Games is offering many "giants of the sky" for Wings of Glory, and every time I see that game, I wish that we had a more organized system for putting together all of the Wings of Glory material, but I'm not sure what that might be — most likely because I know jack all about air combat, so I have no clue how to organize such a thing. (KS link)

Wake up, Cthulhu! from Miguel Bruque and GDM Games is the obligatory Cthulhu title for this post. (Verkami link)

• In addition to being on Kickstarter (link) Dirk Knemeyer's Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents from Artana is being funded on both Giochistarter in Italy (link) and Spieleschmiede in Germany (link). Poland probably feels left out.

• Giochistarter also has an Italian version of Tiny Epic Galaxies (GS link), while Spieleschmiede is featuring campaigns for a new version of Heike Risthaus' bluffing game Blindes Huhn (SS link) and Krzysztof Wolicki's Der Herr des Eisgartens (SS link), which is the German version of the second edition of The Lord of the Ice Garden from REDIMP GAMES, the first of which debuted at Spiel 2014 and the second edition of which is on Kickstarter. (KS link) Oh my, I'm going to go lie down now...

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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Wed Apr 1, 2015 7:06 pm
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BGG Roundtable: Women & Gaming

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I'm hosting a livestream roundtable on the topic of women and gaming tonight, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, with guests Anne-Marie De Witt (Fireside Games), Brittanie Boe (GameWire/GTS Distribution), Stephanie Straw (personal account/Red Pants Games), Phoebe Wild (Cardboard Vault), and Andrew Christopher Enriquez (The Nerd Nighters).

The link for this BGG Roundtable will go live shortly before the broadcast time of 10:00 p.m. EDT / 7:00 p.m. PDT / GMT+4, and I'll embed the broadcast in this post once it's complete. This is my first time trying something like this, so ideally things will all work out and no one will end up with egg on their face — unless they like an egged face, of course, but let's allow everyone to egg themselves or not as desired and oh, dear, this might already be going off the rails...

Come join us!

Updated: All done now! You can watch the video below, and since I accidentally left it marked private on YouTube until a fair distance through the presentation — newwwwwwwwb! — you might have missed some of the discussion. Sorry about that!

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Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:22 pm
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Links: Hippodice 2015, How to Shuffle & Eggert and Allers on Design and Publication

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Man, it's been a while since I last ran a links round-up since I started posting most of them on BGG's Twitter feed, but here are several that either don't work well in that format or are otherwise hanging out in an open tab on my browser.

• The results of the 2015 Hippodice game design competition were announced in late March 2015 with the three standout titles being:

Lancelotto Malocello, by Martin Schlegel, DE
Das geht schief, by Timo Diegel, DE
Kallipolis, by Bjoern Ebeling, DE

Descriptions and prototype images of these three games, along with other recommended games, are available on the Hippodice website, and with contest winners having a somewhat decent chance of advancing to publication, you might even see them on game tables in the years ahead.

• On his Failnaut blog, in response to the logo of the digital game TAPHOBOS Christos Reid explains that "Greek is not a font".

• Do you want to see coverage of modern games on a Norwegian television program? Now you can.

• F2Z Entertainment, owner of Filosofia Édition and Z-Man Games, is looking for an English-to-Dutch translator. Notes communications contact Kalinda Patton, "We are looking for someone who would accept a mix of money and games as remuneration for their work. People can send their information over to communications@f2zentertainment.com."

• On March 5, 2015, Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany held a board game workshop in its Gamification Lab that included talks from Peter Eggert of eggertspiele, (HT: Sebastian Wenzel at Spielbox) and designers Christoph Cantzler, Jeffrey D. Allers, Bruce Whitehill and Uwe Rosenberg. The video starts in German with Cantzler, then Eggert presents in English starting at 46:00, followed by Allers, then the video cuts off. Sorry, Uwe fans!

Persi Diaconis, Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University, is also a former magician, and in this video from Numberphile, he explains the best and worst ways to shuffle cards. He has a very professorial style that works great on video in my opinion.

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Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Roll in an Expanded Galaxy, Mogul in an Expanded Setting & Rule in the Same Old Egypt

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Rio Grande Games owner Jay Tummelson has stated that "Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition, the first expansion to Roll for the Galaxy, will be coming this fall [i.e., Q4 2015]. New factions, new dice, new tiles, and more! Further details to be revealed this summer [Q3 2015]." Speculation on its contents has already commenced!

• Rio Grande Games has also announced reprints of Caylus, TransAmerica, TransEuropa and Temporum listed as future releases on its website, with Temporum designer Donald X. Vaccarino noting that the second printing of that game will include larger arrows in a neutral color to make them more visible on the game board.

• Designer Michael Schacht has posted English and German rules for Mogul, a revised and (somewhat) expanded version of his self-published Mogul from 2002. Here's a rundown of the gameplay, which adds a network scoring system to the design, something you definitely expect to find in a Schacht design!

Quote:
In the 1920s, the U.S. stock exchange experienced a period of growth previously unknown. Everyone speculated, and many become millionaires overnight.

In Mogul — a revised and expanded version of the 2002 game of the same name — players buy and sell railway stock, trying to outsmart both the opponents and the market. Each of the five railroad companies has five to eight shares, and in addition to being a share of the company, each share card has a box on it that indicates another company. Players start with particular stock holdings based on the number of players in the game and their position in turn order.

Each turn, one stock card is revealed from the deck. Players earn $1 for each share of this color that they own, then an auction ensues. Turn by turn, players must drop one of their bidding chips into a bowl in order to stay in the auction. When a player passes, whether by necessity or choice, they take all of the chips from the bowl, thereby earning bidding power for future auctions.

When all but one player has passed, this last player wins the auction and has the right to either keep the share or sell stock matching the color of the company depicted on the bottom of the share; the player who dropped out of the auction last takes the action that the winner didn't take. If a player sells stock, they either sell all shares of this color that they own, earning as much for each share as the number of those stock cards face up on the table or they sell none of them; in the latter case, the player places a station depot in their color on an empty space of the appropriate color on the game board. This game board has multiple networks in the five colors of the game, and at game's end each depot has a dollar value equal to the number of that player's depots in the same network.

When the crash card is revealed from the deck, the game ends. Players earn $1 for each share still in front of them and each five bidding chips they hold, in addition to the value of their depots. Whoever has the most money wins!

• I'd previously noted that French publisher Super Meeple will be reprinting Reiner Knizia's Amun-Re in Q3 2015. I've now confirmed with the publisher that its game license is only for publication in French, but it will be partnering with a "well-known American publisher" — but not its Mexica partner IELLO — on an English-language version of Amun-Re that will be released at the same time.

• For the end of 2015, Super Meeple will release a new version of Le Gang des Traction-Avant, a design from Serge Laget and Alain Munoz first released in 1984 and only ever publisher in French. The publisher describes the game as "made of alliance and treason" with no random elements.

• Following the 2015 GAMA Trade Show, U.S. retailer Uncle's Games tweeted the following:



I asked Steve Jackson Games for details on this, and SJG's Rhea Friesen said, "There is nothing we are ready to release at the moment." So expect to learn something about this in a future moment...
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Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:09 pm
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Game Preview: Thunderbirds, or It's Another Matt Leacock Cooperative Game Go!

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It's hard to think about co-operative games without designer Matt Leacock coming to mind. His game Pandemic ran through multiple print runs in 2007 as quickly as Z-Man Games could get copies from the manufacturer. Later he released the simplified (but far from easy) Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert with Gamewright. Now 2015 will see the release of his co-op games Pandemic Legacy, co-designed with Rob Daviau and previewed on BGG News, and Thunderbirds, the first board game from UK publisher Modiphius Entertainment.

I'll confess to never having watched Thunderbirds, so I have no nostalgic connection to the show and can consider this design only from the gameplay elements. I did get a preview of the Thunderbirds prototype at Spiel 2014, though, and the UK gamers who played then were practically giddy as each newly revealed disaster card allowed them to relive yet another episode.

Gameplay in Thunderbirds recalls that of Pandemic and the Forbidden games in that one of the players takes a number of actions associated with their character, then bad stuff happens. Where the game differs from those designs is in two ways: First, as with Leacock's Pandemic: The Cure, Thunderbirds forces players to roll dice to see whether they resolve a situation during the game, and as in Pandemic: The Cure, the dice rolls in Thunderbirds can allow the game — that is, the players' AI opponent — to take a step closer to victory, which means that the more players roll, the more likely they are to take themselves down the path to loserville. Sure, in Thunderbirds you can use bonus tokens to mitigate bad rolls, adding two to the sum you rolled or rerolling one die to try to keep the enemy from advancing, but you often need those tokens to actually win the game, so you don't want to throw them away foolishly.

The other main difference in Thunderbirds compared to other Leacock designs is the amount of fiddly detail hidden in the larger parts, all in the service of thematic fidelity. Each character has a special power or two unique to themselves, which is in line with Pandemic and the Forbidden series, but in addition to that the bonus tokens that you collect to take out the enemy's schemes can also be spent for small special actions. On top of that, each disaster card has one or more modifiers on it, with those modifiers (1) aiding your chance of avoiding the disaster and (2) recalling details of a particular Thunderbirds episode. As you see more and more disasters laid out on the board, your head starts spinning with the possibilities on everyone's turn. How can you best move each character, each vehicle, and each pod? What percentage for success do you want to give yourself on each die roll? Do you really need to move FAB 1 again?!

As with almost any other game, the more you play, the better you'll do as you learn how to string together moves and plan ahead. (I've heard near mythical tales of Pandemic players who can string together multiple turns and plan ahead for nearly any turn of the cards.) In my two games of Thunderbirds, though, I found myself behind the curve again and again, trying to play catch up and only finding more disasters crashing on top of us. You hate to let the world burn, but sometimes things just get out of hand...

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Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:02 am
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Star Wars: Armada — Unboxing and Playtime

W. Eric Martin
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The long-awaited and (thanks to a cargo-unloading wage dispute on the U.S. west coast) somewhat delayed Star Wars: Armada from James Kniffen and Fantasy Flight Games CEO Christian T. Petersen has reached retail outlets in the U.S., and to celebrate I purchased a copy, opened it up, and played.

Well, played with it. You'll see...

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Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:31 am
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