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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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BGG.CON 2015: Game Previews — Apollo XIII, Titan Race, Bottom of the 9th, Skyway Robbery & Battle Merchants: New Kingdoms

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• At Spielwarenmesse 2015 in January, we recorded an overview of Andrea Crespi's Apollo XIII from Pendragon Game Studio, but the game was still in development, so the publisher asked us to hold off on the video until they were closer to nailing everything down.

Many months have passed, and now we have a different overview video courtesy of BGG News correspondent Phoebe Wild, who stopped by the Passport Games Studios booth at BGG.CON 2015. Passport will distribute Apollo XIII in the U.S. starting in early 2016, and it showed off the game thusly:





• Passport will also distribute Julian Allain's Titan Race from Funforge in the U.S., with this title having been a stealth release at Spiel 2015 as Funforge hadn't been sure whether it would arrive in time even days before that event started.





• For those who complain about baseball being boring, designers Darrell Louder and Mike Mullins have a solution for you: Bottom of the 9th, a two-player game from Dice Hate Me that boils everything down to a single half-inning of play. (It was either this or baseball players alternating whacks at a piñata, and this won out.)





• I love the look of Philip duBarry's Skyway Robbery from Game Salute, partly because the cover on its own is so attractively done and partly because it reminds me of K. W. Jeter's excellent science-fiction novel Farewell Horizontal — who, coincidentally, is credited with coining the term "steampunk".





• Designer Gil Hova has created Battle Merchants: New Kingdoms, a small expansion for his weapon-dealing game Battle Merchants from Minion Games that adds new cards, new rules, and an updated Kingdom card deck.

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Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:00 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Game Previews — Wings for the Baron, Nemo's War & Hunt: The Unknown Quarry

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• If Alan Emrich at Victory Point Games needs a second career, he should give lessons on how to deliver an elevator pitch as he does one to perfection for the second edition of Wings for the Baron, a game about manufacturing German airplanes during WWI from Dave Townsend.





Jeremy Lennert's Hunt: The Unknown Quarry from VPG is a one vs. many design, with the many being human bounty hunters who want to capture a monster before it can cripple them and escape from the mansion in which it is currently cornered.





Michael Huven-Moore and Kyle Van Winkle's Bountytown from VPG challenges players to move about Bountytown collecting bad guys and building up their personal renown. I'm dubious of the intellectual capacity of anyone who has a bounty on them living in Bountytown. You think they'd know better, yes?





• This is more of a teaser than a gameplay overview, but Alan Emrich from VPG shares info on the second edition of the solitaire game Nemo's War from Chris Taylor, a Kickstarter for which is coming in 2016. The graphics are indeed a beautiful upgrade from the first edition.

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Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:09 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Game Previews — Tiny Epic Western, The Opulent, Gruff & Castle Assault

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• Let's call this round-up of demo videos from BGG.CON 2015 the Kickstarter edition since it includes titles that will be coming to that crowdfunding site in 2016 or titles that have already made that journey and are now headed to retail shelves.

The biggest player in this field (for this round-up) might be Gamelyn Games, which found more than 12,000 backers who provided over $400,000 worth of funding for Tiny Epic Galaxies in early 2015. Now Gamelyn is preparing for a January 2016 launch of Scott Almes' Tiny Epic Western, and Gamelyn's Michael Coe blazes an explanatory trail through the design without taking a breath.





The Opulent from designers Casey Willett and Aaron Yung and publisher Black Locust Games is a 1-4 player co-op game set during Prohibition in the U.S., with players trying to keep their speakeasy profitable year after year on a decade-long campaign. The cover art isn't final, but it nicely echoes the style of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.





• Brent Critchfield's Gruff from Studio Woe is an expandable card game about "mutated monster goats", and I'm tickled that when told this, Phoebe gives a slight nod and mutters "Yep" as if she hears such things all the time. Sure, sure, mutated monster goats, walking walls, sandwiches that eat their makers — I've heard it all before...





• "Not for people who like to sit around and eat sandwiches." That's the warning offered by MomentumVolsk for TJ Dunbar's Castle Assault, which is probably sensible given how hard it would be to climb a ladder or operate a catapult while wielding a hoagie.

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Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:00 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Game Previews from Days of Wonder — Quadropolis & Ticket to Ride: UK and Pennsylvania

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Days of Wonder used to be a black box in terms of revealing information about a game prior to its official announcement, but that policy came to an end in early 2014 when it started publicizing Five Tribes at conventions months prior to its release at Gen Con 2014.

Along the same lines, I played a prototype of François Gandon's Quadropolis at Spielwarenmesse and previewed the game (under an interim title of "City Mania") in April 2015. Now BGG News correspondent Phoebe Wild has visited the DoW booth at BGG.CON 2015 to give you a sampling of this 2016 release.





• If you're curious about Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania, designer Alan R. Moon has written a designer diary for BGG News that details how the expansion came to be and how it evolved into its final state. If you want to see the final result more directly, Days of Wonder's Adrien Martinot shows it off in the video below.

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Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:00 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Previews from Eagle-Gryphon Games — The Gallerist, Loop Inc. & Fleet Wharfside

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• Vital Lacerda's The Gallerist from Eagle-Gryphon Games was one of the highlights of Spiel 2015 for many gamers, and now the title is available in North America — or at least it will be soon as EGG's Rick Soued notes that a new printing of the game should be available by February 2016.





• Games about time travel have become a thing in the past couple of years, which means that Scott Almes' Loop Inc. is perfectly timed for today's market, with players representing a business owner who lives through the same day three times while trying to satisfy customer desires to see certain events of the past.





• Following Fleet and Fleet: Arctic Bounty, Matt Riddle, Ben Pinchback, and Eagle-Gryphon Games have taken another trip on the waters, this time landing on the Fleet Wharfside in order to see what they can make of their catch.

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Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:00 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Previews from Mayfair Games — King Chocolate, Booty, Grand Austria Hotel & Mystery! Motive for Murder

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Mayfair Games had several new releases on display and available for purchase at BGG.CON 2015, including Stefan Alexander's King Chocolate, which is one of the nicest-looking original games from Mayfair in years. Very window-friendly, as I might have said in my retail days.

BGG News correspondent Phoebe Wild was in Dallas, and she got Mayfair's Morgan Dontanville to run her through how the game works:





• Pirates are a staple subject in games, with designers constantly finding new ways to use them as a means to "explore" new lands and "reallocate" goods, as is the case with Alexander Cobain's Booty, which Ron Magin from Mayfair Games explains in the video below.





• At BGG.CON 2015, Mayfair Games also presented Bruce Glassco's Mystery! Motive for Murder, which draws on the long-lived PBS television series Mystery! (now Masterpiece Mystery!) for inspiration, with players in this non-deduction game trying to determine why someone would kill the victim.





• Virginio Gigli and Simone Luciani's Grand Austria Hotel debuted at Spiel 2015, and the English-language copies from Mayfair Games hit the U.S. market at the beginning of December 2015. I'm amused by Morgan Dontanville's description of the hotel guests as having superpowers that can benefit you once you can convince them to bunk at your place.

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Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Ashes to Ashes, To Russia With Love & Return We Will to Old Brazil

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• After selling more than 18,000 copies of Isaac Vega's Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, Plaid Hat Games has announced ambitious plans for expansions and organized play that reach into 2017.

To start with, two expansion decks — the mono natural magic deck The Frostdale Giants and the mono ceremonial magic deck The Children of Blackcloud — will be released in April 2016, with illusion and charm magic decks to follow in August at Gen Con 2016. From the press release: "Following that, a box set with four decks and two new types of dice — Sympathy and Divine magic — will arrive in November. That will be followed in 2017 by going back to releasing two decks every three months, each of which will feature decks that explore combining the old and new dice."

PHG will open preorders for these first two decks — as well as an exclusive Lulu Firststone Phoenixborn promotional card — in February 2016. The Ashes base game and these two expansions will also be released in French, German, Italian, and Polish in April 2016, with other languages to follow later.

In 2016, Ashes tournaments will take place at the Origins Game Fair and Gen Con, and should you need encouragement to practice for those events Plaid Hat Games will release an Organized Play Kit in April 2016 to coincide with the debut of the first expansions, with this OP Kit containing "twelve alternate art Conjuration Cards for all participants, two alternate art Phoenixborn cards, one playmat, and instructions on how to access the current Tournament Rules, FAQ, and other downloadable content to help organized your events". Vega writes, "Depending on the popularity of the first OP kit, we plan to keep releasing new kits alongside expansions to the games every three months, depending on demand."

• Designers Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade and Italian publisher What's Your Game? have already worked together on Madeira and Nippon, and they're partnering again on Brasil, although the title doesn't have a release date yet. An overview:

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Brasil is a game about gold-mining in 18th-century Brazil when Bandeirantes (explorers) started to travel through the country and discovered a new region of "black gold" along the way. The "sugar rush" was coming to an end in the northeast part of the country and near the city-to-be of Vila Rica, a whole new region of precious metal was suddenly one of the most important suppliers of the old world. Hundreds of thousands of men came from everywhere once word spread, and a number of small but relevant locations started to grow near Vila Rica.

Most of the wealth in Europe had its origins in the colonies of that time. Brazil, for example, was the number one provider of gold, and Portugal lived a prosperous long time from it. Some people maintain that the industrial revolution was in part financed by the metal that came from Brazil.

The game of Brasil is played with cards. More than a simple game about mining, it requires that players combine actions to develop the region by building essential infrastructures like houses, stores, farms, churches and roads. Players build their path to wealth by keeping in mind the changing characteristics of the region, the moves and needs of other players, and the common good of the vibrant and prosperous Vila Rica.

• Here's a shot of Solarius Mission (which bore the interim title "Solar 3X" for a short while), a co-design between Odendahl and Michael Keller than Spielworxx plans to release in late 2016.



Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn't open in the U.S. until December 18, 2015, but it's nigh impossible to avoid seeing Star Wars products everywhere you look — Star Wars limited edition Colorlicious Lipstick anyone? — including some that you might actually want to purchase but likely cannot, such as this Star Wars-themed Russian version of Seiji Kanai's Love Letter.

AEG's Todd Rowland posted the pic on Facebook, noting that "it can only be sold in Russia due to licensing reasons". Who will successfully deliver the plans for the Death Star to Princess Leia? If a Russian BGGer wants to make some cash from U.S. gamers, you know what to do...

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Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:32 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Previews from Lone Shark Games — Apocrypha Adventure Card Game and The Ninth World: A Skillbuilding Game for Numenera

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• You might have already heard of the Apocrypha Adventure Card Game from Lone Shark Games, given that it funded to the tune of $330k in mid-2015 on Kickstarter, but did you know that it's the precursor to what became the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game? Yes, co-designer Liz Spain reveals this detail while presenting an overview of the game to BGG News correspondent Phoebe Wild at BGG.CON 2015.

Another tidbit of information is that Spain mentions the currently targeted retail release date for the Apocrypha Adventure Card Game is Gen Con 2016 in August. Update, Dec. 10, 2015: Lone Shark Games has clarified that KS backers of Apocrypha should still expect to receive the game in Q2 2016, and the August 2016 date mentioned by Spain in the video corresponds to its availability through retail outlets.





• In early December 2015 I included Lone Shark Games' The Ninth World: A Skillbuilding Game for Numenera in a BGG News post, little realizing that Phoebe had interviewed co-designer Paul Peterson at BGG.CON 2015 about the game. Lucky you, now you can learn a bit more about living and playing in Numenera.





• Speaking of PACG, the third branch of that game series — Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous — launched in May 2015 from Paizo Publishing, and in case you're not aware of it, Peterson and Spain collaborated on an overview of the explosively demonic world that awaits adventurers this time.

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Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:00 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Game Preview — Chronicles: Origins

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Many games were previewed at BGG.CON 2015, and one of the biggest was Chronicles: Origins, a co-design between Rob Daviau and Artana's Dirk Knemeyer that is scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2016. Here's an overview of the game, which is due to hit Kickstarter in February 2016:

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Players build a new version of the world in the Chronicles Series, starting with the first game: Chronicles: Origins.

First, players take the role of leaders of a small and emerging tribe in the early Stone Age, collaborating to avoid threats, exploit opportunities, and build the tribe to a position of growth and stability. Then, once a variety of tribes have been created, players take leadership of a city-state that evolved from an original tribe and contest the region with their opponents who are the leaders of city-states of their own. Using Legacy mechanisms, the world evolves as the city-states use exploration, conquest, culture, and religion to out-compete their opponents and try to establish the most enduring enterprise. Not every tribe created in this game will survive to the next...

Each game in the Chronicles Series uses Rob Daviau's Legacy System within the game itself, but will use the new Echo System to allow the world you create in Chronicles: Origins to be continued in the second game of the Chronicles Series due out in 2017.

Yes, Daviau's Legacy System has the results of one game affecting elements in future games, while Knemeyer's Echo System has the results of Chronicles: Origins carrying over into game #2 in the series. As he explains in the video, you won't need to play Chronicles: Origins to play game #2 as that title will give you the ability to start from scratch, but if you have played Chronicles: Origins, then you can carry over results from that title to customize the experience of game #2, in effect creating your own history of the world.

At BGG.CON 2015, Phoebe Wild spoke with Knemeyer and Daviau about Chronicles: Origins and the Chronicle Series in general:

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Wed Dec 9, 2015 4:15 pm
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New Game Round-up: Conjure Spirits, Examine Human Behavior, and Push People to Their Doom

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Brett Picotte self-published the abstract strategy game Push Fight in 2008, registered the game on BGG in 2009, then nothing was posted in the page's forum until Penny Arcade wrote up the game ("the best board game you've never heard of") in 2012.

Now Penny Arcade has published its own deluxe, all-wood version of Push Fight, the description of which I've rewritten below:

Quote:
The object of Push Fight is to push one of your opponent's game pieces off the board.

Players take turns placing their five pieces (three with square tops, two with sphere tops) on their half of the board, with white placing first. White then takes the first turn, and players alternate turns after that. A turn consists of 0-2 moves, then a push of one space; a player can move any of their pieces orthogonally — changing direction if desired — any number of spaces as long as those spaces are empty. A player can push only with one of their square top pieces, and they push both friendly and opposing pieces one space. After pushing, the player places the red anchor piece on the piece that pushed; this piece cannot be pushed on the opponent's next turn.

Players continue taking turns until someone pushes an opponent's piece off either end of the board. (The sides are ridged, and pieces cannot be pushed over them.)


Sweet November, French publisher of The Grizzled, has a title with a very different feel due out in February 2016: Bruno Faidutti's Waka Tanka, which seems an example of his minimalist designs that are 20% about the components and rules and 80% about reading other players and getting in their heads. A summary:

Quote:
Waka Tanka is a very light bluffing card game in the Bullshit family. Players are Native American shamans who want to impress the tribe by conjuring various animal spirits and having long discussions with them. The problem is that the shaman doesn't always remember the right incantation and somewhat calls the wrong spirit — hoping no one will notice.

Each player in turn plays an incantation card face down in front of an animal totem. Other players can call the bluff if they think it's not the right animal. A player can also try a full ceremony if he thinks enough incantations have been made to a given animal spirit. A player wins by getting rid of all their incantation cards or fulfilling two ceremonies.

As with The Grizzled, U.S. publisher Cool Mini Or Not plans to release Waka Tanka in English, with the game hitting the markets in Q1 2016 following a debut at the Cannes game festival in February.

Dan Ariely is not a game designer, but a professor of behavioral economics and author of books such as Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, which falls into the Malcolm Gladwell school of surprising you with facets of human behavior that are counter-intuitive while also being perfect for demonstrating whatever it is the author is trying to explain to you.

That said, in case you couldn't guess from the link in the first sentence, Ariely actually is a game designer after all, with his Irrational Game collecting $280k on Kickstarter. Irrational Game presents players with human behavioral experiments similar to those in his books, with them trying to both predict the results and win power cards to challenge opponents directly.

Ascension: Dreamscape, the next title in the line of deck-building games from Stone Blade Entertainment, has a U.S. release date of Dec. 18, 2015, and since nothing else is happening on that date, I'm sure that it will be the talk of the town.

• Has anyone already discovered how to create the hundreds of images possible with a tangram and clamored for something new along the same lines? If so, you're in luck as Néstor Romeral Andrés of nestorgames has taken the Rub el Hizb, a.k.a. the Gadeiro (an octagonal star superimposed on another octagonal star) and divided it into ten pieces to create, well, Gadeiro, which is not a game admittedly, but I post about puzzles as well sometimes, so here it is.

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Tue Dec 8, 2015 1:00 pm
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