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To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

Archive for W. Eric Martin

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Spiel 2015 Preview: The Bloody Inn, or Know Where the Bodies Are Buried

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"Each card represents a guest. The front of the card depicts the guest alive; the back depicts the guest dead."

The sentence above is not one you'll often see in a published game, but you will find it in the rules for The Bloody Inn, a Nicolas Robert design which features stark artwork from Weberson Santiago that Belgian publisher Pearl Games plans to debut at Spiel 2015. The setting of the game comes from events that date to 1831, a murder trial in the department of Ardèche in southeastern France related to events at L'Auberge de Peyrebeille (The Inn of Peyrebeille). A summary from Wikipedia:

Quote:
The owners of the inn, Pierre and Marie Martin, and their employee Jean Rochette were arrested in 1831 after a customer, Jean-Antoine Enjolras, was found dead by a nearby river, his skull smashed in. They were later charged with his murder. During the subsequent trial, numerous witnesses testified to other crimes committed by the accused, including up to fifty murders at the inn, and to aggravating circumstances of rape and cannibalism. There were rumors that the owners used to serve their intended victims meals containing cooked body parts of previous victims. The accused were only convicted of the murder of Enjolras, and were sentenced to death. They were executed by guillotine in front of the inn, with a crowd of 30,000 on-lookers.

In The Bloody Inn, players represent innkeepers who are not quite that unsavory, but who are willing to do more than fit a cot with clean sheets in order to earn money. Over the two seasons of the game, players see numerous guests pass through their shared inn, with some of them exiting the door to visit once again, some of them not being so lucky, and some of them being co-opted to take part in your nefarious affairs.




Guests come in six types — merchants, artisans, nobles, religious, police and peasants — with each type having their own color and each guest having a rank from 0 to 3, with all peasants being 0. Many guests have specialties related to their backgrounds: the merchants, for example, handle money well, so they're willing to help you bribe other guests, while the artisans can assist in building annexes to store the guests who "decide" to stay for a while.

Each player starts with two peasants in hand, and each round starts with guests arriving at the inn, with each open room — some controlled by players and some simply open — receiving one guest. Players then each take two actions, one at a time, with the actions being as follows:

Bribe a traveler, whether guest or peasant, placing that card in your hand for later use
Build an annex, using a guest in hand to represent an annex behind the inn (i.e. placing that card on the table)
Bludgeon a traveler, whether guest or peasant, flipping the card face down
Bury a corpse in an annex, at which time their wallet mysteriously ends up in your possession — or split between you and the owner of the annex
Launder money, since there's a 40 franc limit to the amount of cash you want to keep on hand at any one time

For each of the first four actions, you must discard cards in hand in order to carry them out, with you discarding as many cards as the rank (0-3) of the target in question. Want to bribe a 0-rank baron? You can sweet-talk such a gullible fool on your own? A 3-rank prince, on the other hand, will need a few more mouths to convince him that he's doing the right thing. When the specialty of a guest matches your action — bribe/build/bludgeon/bury — that guest returns to your hand at the end of your turn.



Prepublication copy shown at Gen Con 2015 during a press event


After each player has taken two actions, if any police officers are still checked into a room, everyone with unburied corpses must pay 10 francs per corpse as hush money, then discard the corpses, thereby preventing their purses from being collected. If you have any guests in rooms that you manage, you collect a rental fee from them in the morning and send them on their way, perhaps to see them again on their way home. Finally, you pay wages for those in your employ (i.e. for cards in hand).

The higher a guest's rank, the more money that individual carries, but the more effort it requires to do anything with that person. Not every guest can assist you with building an annex, but those that do each provide a special power for that building, say, additional money for guests of the same type who manage to escape alive after two seasons or the ability to bribe, bludgeon or bury as many travelers as you can afford to in a single action.

Once all of the guests — what remains of them, that is — have passed through your inn a second time, you tally the funds from the annexes and add them to your checks and francs in hand to see which innkeeper runs the most profitable outfit.

As for the rumors of cannibalism, well, perhaps we'll see a The Bloody Inn: Sweetmeats annex in the future...

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Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:08 pm
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Gen Con 2015 XIV: The 7th Continent, Nefarious, Risk: Game of Thrones, Lift it! Deluxe, Garbage Day, Hoplomachus: Origins & Fantasy Fantasy Baseball

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• Jamie Johnson showed up at Gen Con 2015 to represent French publisher Serious Poulp, which has an immense "choose your own adventure" style of board game in the works from Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter titled The 7th Continent. This video gives a taste of what will undoubtedly be an immense undertaking.





• Mainstream U.S. game publisher USAopoly is branching out a bit in its catalog with its licensed versions of BANG! and now with its reprint of Donald X. Vaccarino's Nefarious, which features artwork from the Russian version of the game. I've said multiple times that a Despicable Me license would have been a great way to attract mainstream gamers, but given the ho-hum ratings for Minions, perhaps it's better that this design wasn't entangled that way.





• Speaking of entangling licenses, USAopoly has also published Risk: Game of Thrones, which places the Risk gameplay in Westeros with many fancy plastic pieces and a double-sided game board.





Lift it! Deluxe from Per Gauding was first released by a couple of European game publishers, and now those in the U.S. can also enjoy the feeling of strapping a crane to their forehead and trying to assemble something fragile and fleeting.





• Strangely enough, Shane Willis' forthcoming Garbage Day from Mayday Games is not the first game about stacking things precariously on a garbage can as the 2013 design Ab in die Tonne from Carlo Rossi covered the same ground, but if we can have hundreds of games about elves in a fantasy world, then we can find the room for two garbage can games in our lives.





Hoplomachus: Origins from designers Adam and Josh Carlson and publisher Chip Theory Games makes good use of the fancy materials included in the box for this 1-2 player dueling game.





• Finally for now, designers Daryl Andrews and JR Honeycutt snuck into the booth to preview Fantasy Fantasy Baseball, a card game coming from CSE Games in 2016. So many preview videos...

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Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:13 pm
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Gen Con 2015 XIII: Favor of the Pharaoh, Suburbia 5★, One Night Ultimate Vampire, Noble Treachery, Crowns and Axes, & The King's Armory

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• While we intended to focus on newly released games while broadcasting game demonstrations at Gen Con 2015, Ted Alspach of Bézier Games apparently did not get the message — or he did receive it, then crumbled it up and did what he wanted to anyway. In either case, here's an overview of Tom Lehmann's Favor of the Pharaoh, a reworking of To Court the King that Bézier will debut at Spiel 2015 in October.





• Alspach also shilled heavily for his One Night Ultimate Vampire, co-designed with Akihisa Okui. That guy is absolutely shameless.





• Thankfully Alspach did have one new Gen Con release to feature on the BGG cameras, thereby somewhat justifying our time in Indianapolis. Here's a ninety-second rundown of Suburbia 5★, the second expansion for the tile-laying game Suburbia.





• Garrick Shurts from Great Northern Games presented a nice overview of Jay Meyer's Noble Treachery: The Last Alliance, which was released at the end of 2014 and therefore new by our standards of not previously being available at Gen Con.





• That said, Shurts also explained the basics of the forthcoming Crowns and Axes, which Great Northern Games plans to Kickstart for a 2016 release. We have only ourselves to blame for such violations of our rules.





• One of the things that we all noticed at Gen Con 2015 was the lack of long games. Everything seemed to top out at sixty minutes — ninety minutes, tops! — and while that's perfect for my tastes, not everyone feels the same way. Thus, The King's Armory from John Wrot! and Gate Keeper Games was a standout with its 120-minute playing time, while also having a solo play option for those who want the option of solitaire play.

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Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:00 pm
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Ticket to Ride Keeps Rolling to the United Kingdom and Pennsylvania

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At Gen Con 2015, the North American branch of Asmodee held its annual press event to highlight a number of forthcoming releases from the publishers that it distributes: Doctor Panic from Repos Production, Kemet: Ta-Seti from Matagot, T.I.M.E Stories (sigh...) from Space Cowboys, and many others. Being the in-touch news guy that I am, I had heard of nearly everything on display at the event — except for the one thing that we could not take pictures of because the artwork was not yet finished. So frustrating! Thankfully, I could still write a bit about it:




Today, Days of Wonder has officially unveiled (taking a breath) Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania, a double-sided game board from designer Alan R. Moon that works as an expansion for either Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe. Some details about the gameplay in this item:

Quote:
The United Kingdom half of this map collection introduces the concept of technology to TtR. At the start of the game, players can build only one- and two-train routes and only in England. By spending locomotives (i.e., wild cards), players gain the ability to build routes three trains long or longer, in addition to being able to build ferries across water or build train routes in Scotland, Wales and elsewhere. Players can also buy bonus cards that allow them to score extra points for taking certain actions during play.


In a press release for this collection, Adrien Martinot, General Manager at Days of Wonder, said, "You need Locomotives to buy Technologies, but you also need them to claim vital routes on the map. Finding the proper balance between your Technologies and the expansion of your railroad network is the key to victory!" With locomotives being so key for this map, the expansion includes a new set of 116 train cards for use with the UK map with a slightly different ratio of trains to locomotives compared to the base game. The UK map, designed for 2-4 players, also has 57 tickets and 47 technology cards.




Quote:
The Pennsylvania half of this map collection adds a share mechanism to the basic TtR game. Each time that a player completes a route, they claim a share of one of the companies depicted next to that route. At the end of the game, whoever holds more shares of a company than all other players receives points as a reward.

Yes, those who have wanted a touch of Union Pacific in their Ticket to Ride can finally have their wish, with the PA map — designed for 2-5 players — having 50 tickets and 60 share cards.

Oh, and before anyone complains about the spelling on Pittsburgh on the PA map, be sure to check out this history of how the city's name has changed over time. For the years in which Ticket to Ride is set, the names are spot on. As for the placement of the cities, well, I'll let you figure that out for yourself.

Ticket to Ride: UK/PA, which carries a $40/€35 MSRP, debuts at Spiel 2015 in October, with a European release shortly thereafter and a release elsewhere in the world by the end of November 2015.



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Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Convoy Rides Again, Colosseum Reborn & Revolver Reloaded

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Portal Games plans to release a second edition of Ignacy Trzewiczek's The Convoy in Q4 2015, with this new edition being titled Neuroshima: Convoy to emphasize its place in the world of Neuroshima Hex. For this new edition of the game, "confusing icons were replaced with clear text describing the card action, and gameplay was streamlined by removing the special abilities of individual city boards", according to a press release from Portal. As for what the game's about, here's a summary:

Quote:
Neuroshima: Convoy is an asymmetric two-player card game set in the post-apocalyptic world of Neuroshima. One player commands the convoy of powerful robots, and his goal is to reach New York and turn it into ashes. The player has a deck of 35 cards: robots of Moloch (such as the Gauss Cannon, Clown, or Juggernaut), modules to attach to the robots (Network module, Kasparov module), and special cards (such as Push back, or Move). He plays those cards in the cities he passes while moving toward NY, trying to turn human settlements into dust while preparing for the final battle.

The other player commands the Outpost troops, attacking the convoy and trying to slow it down. The Outpost deck also contains 35 cards: soldiers (such as Runner or HG), buildings (such as Bunker or EMP Cannon), and many special cards (Move, Retreat, Medic). The Outpost has to win a few battles, slow down the march of Moloch as much as possible, and prepare to welcome robots in New York City.

• I thought that I had posted about this item already, but apparently my immersion in Gen Con 2015 only made me think that I did. What am I talking about? U.S. publisher Tasty Minstrel Games has obtained the rights to Wolfgang Kramer and Markus Lübke's Colosseum, and it plans to release an "Emperor's Edition" of the game. In the words of TMG's Michael Mindes, "This will be something like a collector's edition at a higher price and with higher quality components. With the cost of manufacturing being so high on such a game, we will be Kickstarting the game", with that Kickstarter launching on Oct. 27, 2015.

• Rob Daviau's V-Wars from IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games is due out Dec. 18, 2015, according to ACD Distribution.

• I wrote about J. Alex Kevern's Daxu from White Goblin Games in May 2015, and the Dutch publisher has a number of other releases in the works — twenty in all for the Benelux market — with most of those being Dutch versions of games from other publishers.

As for games in which it controls the look of the finished product, here are four games on the horizon from WGG, starting with a new edition of Néstor Romeral Andrés' tile-laying game Hong, previously self-published through nestorgames. A short description: "Two players – MORE and LESS – share a common pool of identical squared pieces depicting two dragon heads and one dragon segment. A hong is a straight line of one or more segments with a dragon head on each end. The MORE player must create as many hongs as possible, while the LESS player must prevent that many hongs from being created." This edition of Hong features new artwork, a double-sided game board (Castle and Garden), and a mini-expansion (Lair of the Seven Great Dragons).

White Goblin Games also plans to release a new version of Bruno Faidutti and Serge Laget's Kheops, which first appeared in 2008 in an edition from Tilsit that few people probably ever saw. This new edition incorporates several rule revisions while featuring new art from Josh Cappel. An overview of the game:

Quote:
In Kheops, players are rival architects taking part in the building of the great pyramid. In turn, player place tiles (rooms and corridors) and pawns (workers, priests, mummy, and even pharaoh) on the pyramid building site. Of course, some tiles have special features, like sarcophagi or curses. There are even rumors of rotating corridors and secret networks.

When the pyramid is built, the player controlling the longest networks is named Pharaoh's architect, while his rival is fed to the crocodiles.

Two other items coming from WGG in 2016 are expansions for Mark Chaplin's Invaders and Revolver 2: Last Stand at Malpaso, this latter title being co-designed by Leigh Caple. More specifically, Revolver Expansion 2.1: The Savage Guns is now due out in early 2016.
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Gen Con 2015 XII: The Village Crone, Dragon Tides, Bears! Trail Mix'd, Castle Panic: The Dark Titan & Evolution Base Game, Flight and Climate

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• The big release from Fireside Games at Gen Con 2015 was The Village Crone from designer/publisher co-owner Anne-Marie De Witt, with copies of the game being available in advance of its September 2015 release date.





• The other half of Fireside Games — Justin De Witt — talked about Castle Panic: The Dark Titan, which adds a new big baddie to the castle defense game, along with support tokens for both the titanic Agranok and the beleaguered defenders who would probably prefer to be having lunch or reading a book instead of fighting off monsters. Makes sense to me.





• The final new item from Fireside Games was Bears! Trail Mix'd, an expansion for the dice game Bears! that consists of a single die that shakes up the players' goal for the round, thereby affecting everything that they might do as that round plays out.





• At Gen Con 2015, designer Kevin G. Nunn was incredibly excited to talk about Dragon Tides, co-designed with Luther Bell Hendricks V and published by Artistic Justice Games. You get to play as Bruce Lee during the game — well, one of you does — so who wouldn't be excited about that?





• Dominic Crapuchettes from North Star Games overhauled the Russian game Evolution for release in 2014, and now the company has released a second edition of the game that includes modified artwork and changes to a few of the games. NSG's Nick Bentley talked about the game in our booth during Gen Con 2015:





• Bentley then stuck around to present an overview of Evolution: Flight, an expansion for Evolution that allows players to take to the air with their creatures, evading certain predators while upping the amount of food they need to eat, thanks to how tough it is to keep that body airborne.





• I later chased down Bentley in the North Star Games booth to find out a few details about Evolution: Climate, which NSG plans to release in September 2016. The prototype is rough stuff right now, but this video presents the gist of what you'll find in the expansion more than a year from now. (My mouth seems to be undergoing some kind of strange evolution in the screenshot below.)

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Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:00 am
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Spiel 2015 Preview: Antarctica, or A Shipping Rondel on Ice

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You know what gamers love? Rondels. Since the debut of Mac Gerdts' Antike in 2005, a certain type of gamer has been enamored with the concept of going around in circles choosing actions, and while that might sound strange to those not familiar with such games, for those in the know the design of the rondel can create great tension, with everyone seeing what everyone else can possibly do and trying to stay one step ahead with their plans.

Charles Chevallier's Antarctica, which debuts from German publisher Argentum Verlag at Spiel 2015, puts the rondel into a natural context: the continent of Antarctica itself, with the action trigger for the spaces around this land being the sun. As you can see in the image below, the sun occupies one of eight action spaces (with only six spaces being used in the two-player game), and the warmth of the sun melts the ice around the ship closest to it, allowing the owner of that ship to move it to any other space and take one action available there. What about the other ships on the same space? They'll move up in line to wait for the sun's next pass over the horizon, although the owner of the second ship has the option of playing an "Icebreaker" card to free that ship and take an action sooner.




What you're doing in these spaces depends on the buildings and research centers available in them and on the building cards present on top of three decks of varying difficulty. In broad terms, you can:

• Move your ship to a camp, then welcome new scientists from your reserve to your supply
• Move to a shipyard, then receive a new ship (while all other players receive a one-shot shipyard action card)
• Move to a space with empty plots of land, then construct a building there, placing your scientists in the space as a record of your efforts
• Move to a research center, then advance along one of 3-5 research tracks based on the number of your ships and scientists in that area

As you advance on the research tracks, you might trigger a one-time bonus for yourself or an action that all players can perform.

Constructing new buildings is tricky as you need to move to a space where that building doesn't already exist, while also having ships in spaces where the required structures are located. Constructing a headquarters, for example, might require you to have one ship in a space with derricks and another in a space with a wind turbine (or one ship in a space with both), and you'll also need a scientist to man this new building.

The game of Antarctica ends when one player has placed all of their scientists on the board or all of the buildings have been constructed. Players then score points based on their scientists on the board, their placement on the research tracks, the buildings they've constructed, and the resources and ships that they've discarded. Scoring is done along the lines of Web of Power/China, with the player in the lead in an area scoring based on the strength of everyone in that area, then the second-place person in that area scoring based on the strength of the leader, and so on.

Update, Sept. 2, 2015: Passport Game Studios has confirmed that it will distribute Antarctica in North America.


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Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:30 pm
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Spiel 2015 Preview: BANG! The Duel, or Shooting Outlaws by the Handful

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More often than I am comfortable with, we record a video in advance of a game being announced, then when the game is finally made public, I can't find the video or it no longer encapsulates what the game is about, thereby making it useless.

Not this time, though! At Spielwarenmesse 2015, we filmed an overview of BANG! The Duel with dV Giochi founder and CEO Roberto Corelli, and this Emiliano Sciarra design will now debut at Spiel 2015 in October, with the game due out in European and North American stores by the end of 2015.

As you might expect from the BANG! The Duel title, this game is for two players, with each controlling a number of characters and having their own deck of cards. Each player has two characters in play, with one designated as being in front of the other, and the players compete to wipe out the other player's team first.

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Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:12 pm
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Gen Con 2015 XI: Attack on Titan, Quest for Arete, Badass Zombie Killers, Civicus Dice Game, Hostage Negotiator & Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game

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• In addition to filming 100+ videos at the BGG booth during Gen Con 2015, we also recorded game demonstrations elsewhere in the convention center, sometimes because the games were available only in prototype form and sometimes because our demo schedule was already packed.

One title I was happy to put on camera was Attack on Titan from designers Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc, which Cryptozoic plans to release in 2016. The design isn't finished, so this presentation is more overviewy than others that we've shown, but you can still grasp the garlic as to how this game works.





• Another forthcoming release from Cryptozoic Entertainment is Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game, which they've given a 1970s, "we just discovered this behind a filing cabinet" vibe. As for the gameplay in this title inspired by the Valve video game, you're fighting against the other players and the system itself to keep hold of your cake.





• Aside from the on-site game demos, we also recorded short overview videos at the side tables of our booth, sometimes with a designer who had reached out to me beforehand and sometimes with a designer who just walked up to the booth and caught me tweeting photos or somesuch. That's how we recorded something about Badass Zombie Killers with designer Lee Garvin from Reality Cheque LLC.





• One bonus thing about designer encounters at Gen Con and other conventions is that I can then spur them in follow-up messages to update their game pages on BGG. I believe that Jason Kirkpatrick's Quest for Arete was not self-published in 2013, as stated on the BGG page, but rather is still in the works for the future, and I've encouraged him to submit corrections, upload more images, etc. So many little details to think about when you're developing and publishing a game on your own, including all the marketing efforts that don't relate to the game itself.





Civicus Dice Game from Playco Games was funded on Kickstarter in July 2015 with an expected release date of November 2015, and for those who missed the campaign co-publisher Will Hilburn presents an overview of the game.





• Another title that recently ended a Kickstarter campaign is Hostage Negotiator from designer/publisher A. J. Porfirio from Van Ryder Games. Lots of add-ons for this game should you feel compelled to take on an alarming number of abductors...

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Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:45 pm
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Gen Con 2015 X: Tasty Minstrel Games — Gold West, Steam Works, Flip City, Cthulhu Realms & Dungeon of Fortune

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• What's the best way to have a sellout game at Gen Con? Don't bring a lot of copies. Tasty Minstrel Games airshipped a few dozen copies of three upcoming game releases to Indianapolis in order to put them in the hands of reviewers and a few lucky buyers, with one of those new offerings being J. Alex Kevern's Gold West.

Of course, having those early copies on hand at Gen Con 2015 allowed us to record an overview of the game for those wanting to play along at home...





• Alex Churchill's Steam Works is another title that's been in the works a while for Tasty Minstrel, with this prototype pic from developer Seth Jaffee dating to January 2014. I'm always fascinated by development shots like this, imagining every change large and small that's been spurred by playtester comments or games that went off the rails or simply the desire to create something that challenges players in a particular way.





• Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir's Dungeon Fortune, another preview title, mimics the levelling-up, press-your-luck gameplay and setting from TMG's Dungeon Roll, but with the game using cards instead of dice and with developer Seth Jaffee noting that it's a "step up in terms of complexity". He explains here:





• I've played Chen Zhifan's Design Town a few times and thought it a clever deck-builder, with players constructing a personal deck of double-sided cards, trying to flip them over to use special powers while also wondering when to press their luck in order to get more coins at the risk of increasing their town's unhappiness (and ending their turn). Now TMG has released a new version of the game with a new title — Flip City — and ten copies of a card from the expansion. Bonus!





Cthulhu Realms is an interesting title in that TMG's Michael Mindes liked Darwin Kastle's hit card game Star Realms, but wanted to change a few things about it to make the design better match his tastes. After much tinkering, a change in theme, and a license from White Wizard Games to use the design, voilà — Cthulhu Realms.

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