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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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New Game Round-up: Pandasaurus and IDW Present Godfathers, Clones, Zombies, Thieves & More Machi Koro

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• In what's possibly the most unexpected licensing deal in recent months, IDW Games has announced a deal with Paramount Pictures that will allow it to release "a line of The Godfather tabletop games ranging from quick-to-play card and dice games to big box strategic board games".

The first title in the series is The Godfather Card Game, due out in August 2015, but no details of the gameplay, designer, etc. have been announced. As for other games in the series, a press release from IDW Games notes that "[t]he games will range in length and complexity, and take place in a variety of locations and timelines spanning the trilogy of films. Gamers can look forward to rising to power and doing everything they can to stay on top in a cutthroat world. These games will truly be an offer The Godfather fans can't refuse." They had to get that last line in there or it would void the licensing contract.

• In somewhat more expected licensing news, IDW Games has announced a similar deal with Temple Street Productions for a line of games based on the Orphan Black television series. (Parent company IDW Publishing moved nearly a half-million copies of the first issue of an Orphan Black comic in February 2015, although an unknown number of those copies sold via a LootCrate exclusive so that number isn't indicative of how many readers the comic might have.) Here's a short description of the first title in this series, due out July 2015:

Quote:
In Orphan Black: The Card Game, you are secretly assigned to one of three teams: the Proletheans, Neolutionists, or the Bird Watchers. The goal of the game is to influence as many clones into joining your faction as possible, while also keeping your opponents guessing as to which of the three factions you're really working for. If you can keep other players in the dark while secretly exerting influence on your targets, you'll come out on top.


• IDW Games and publishing partner Pandasaurus Games are releasing a new edition of the Antoine Bauza and Corentin Lebrat title Ali, first released by Libellud in 2012, under the name Open Sesame in June 2015. Here's a rundown of that game:

Quote:
In Ali, players re-enact the story of "Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves" – but as a push-your-luck memory game. Each round, one player takes the role of Ali while the other players are all thieves. These thieves must repeat, in turn and without error, an ever-growing list of objects – these objects being the treasures that Ali Baba covets and wants to steal. The question for Ali is whether to stop or not before he covets too much and ends up stuck in the cave, with the treasures falling into the hands of the thieves.

• IDW/Pandasaurus describes Trap! Zany Zombies — artwork from which is depicted below, as a "fast-paced, creature-hunting card game". Beyond that, I know nothing.


Machi Koro: Millionaire's Row, the English version of the Machi Koro: Sharp expansion for Machi Koro, is also due out in June 2015 from IDW/Pandasaurus.

• Finally from IDW/Pandasaurus comes Machi Koro: Deluxe Edition, as depicted in the following tweet from Rodney Smith of Watch It Played, who's checking out upcoming games being shown at the GAMA Trade Show:

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Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:43 pm
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Game Overview: Diamonsters, or Bluffing Made Small and Cutting Made It Even Smaller

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Seiji Kanai's Love Letter blew the doors off the game industry in 2012, demonstrating that (a) good games can come in smaller-than-expected packages and (b) everyone should start paying more attention to Japanese game releases. In 2013, Masao Suganuma's Machi Koro proved to be the next title from Japan that created a huge groundswell of interest, with editions now out in nine languages other than Japanese.

Suganuma has designed other games as well, such as the clever real-time treasure-finding game Sukimono that I covered on BGG News in October 2013 and Diamonsters, which debuted from Japanese publisher Grounding in 2013 and which IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games have released in an English-language version in early 2015.

As with Machi Koro, IDW/Pandasaurus kept the Noboru Hotta art of the Japanese Diamonsters, retaining the friendly charm of the original game, which features friendly tussles among the five monsters in the game as to who will run off each round with the new monster that shows up to play. I'm not sure what the actual setting of the game might be, but that's what the setting has become in my mind since you're trying to collect three monsters of the same type or five diamonds across all of your collected monsters to win a round. After each round, everyone resets their hand to the original five monsters, then you go at it again. Win enough rounds, and you win the game.

Should you care to learn details of how to play Diamonsters, don't let the 23-minute count on the video below scare you off as I show all of the components and explain how to play in the first three minutes, then spend the next four minutes talking more about the game, how it differs from the Japanese version, and what it feels like to play. All the rest of the time is spent demonstrating how to chop that monstrous Diamonsters box down to a friendly made-in-Japan sized box that will easily fit on your game shelf. For those who want to skip the video, here's the summary shot:

Old size (left) vs. new size (right)


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Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:13 am
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New Game Round-up: Explore Forbidden Stars, Climb Hills in Ogre: Operation 218 & Drive Recklessly in Car Wars Arenas

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• For various reasons I'm not at the GAMA Trade Show taking place this week in Law Vegas, but I can report on some of the titles that have been announced at the event, starting with yet another huge box from Fantasy Flight Games in the form of Forbidden Stars, a Warhammer 40K board game from designer Corey Konieczka that calls to mind StarCraft: The Board Game for many people. Here's an overview of the game's setting:

Quote:
The shifting Warp Storms that surround the long lost Herakon Cluster have finally abated, leaving the ancient treasures and planets within this sector open to the rest of the galaxy. Now, the great factions of the galaxy mobilize their fleets and race to establish a foothold. The reward for successful domination surpasses all other concerns, and the price for conquering this sector will be paid in lives.

Forbidden Stars challenges you and up to three other players to take command of a mighty fighting force: the Ultramarines chapter of Space Marines, the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden, the Evil Sunz Ork clan, or the World Eaters Warband of the Chaos Space Marines. Each faction offers unique armies and play styles, but your goal remains the same – to claim the key objectives selected for your faction. These objective tokens are scattered throughout the Herakon Cluster, but your opponents are sure to defend your objectives against you. You need to build massive armies and command them in unending war to best your enemies and claim your objectives. The fight for the Herakon Cluster is brutal and bloody, and you will either stride triumphant over the bodies of your fallen foes, or they will do the same to you.

For more details on the gameplay, head to the game announcement on the FFG website.

Steve Jackson Games is involved in many announcements with an entangled web of publishers. First, on its own, SJG plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign on March 31, 2015 for Car Wars Arenas, a reprinting at full Car Wars Classic scale of five arena maps from older CW releases, along with a booklet that details the special features of each arena while also covering revised versions of popular variants like corporate team dueling, an AADA pro circuit, and more. One more step toward its giant, yet not-Ogre-sized Car Wars Kickstarter project that looms on the horizon.

• Speaking of Ogre, in partnership with Your Move Games, SJG will release Ogre: Operation 218, a rethemed version of YMG's The Battle of Hill 218 that drops an Ogre into the gameplay. (The cover shown at left is not final.)

• And it wouldn't be a news post about SJG if it didn't include something Munchkin-related. Specifically, Renegade Game Studios has signed a licensing partnership with SJG in which it will produce collectible trading cards, dog tags, and "treasure packs" based on Munchkin, starting at the end of 2015. From the press release:

Quote:
The first release in the line will be Munchkin Trading Cards. This traditional card set will feature a base set, original hand drawn sketch cards, stickers, autograph cards, and unique playtest cards that you can use in your Munchkin games at home...

Boxes will consist of 24 random packs and at least one sketch card or autograph card can be found, on average, in every box. Additional content including special inserts, redemptions, guest artist, and more surprises will be announced in the coming months.
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Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:43 pm
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New Game Round-up: Another Run for Snow Tails, Credited Apocrypha & New Characters for Adventure Time Card Wars

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Cryptozoic Entertainment has two new additions for its Adventure Time Card Wars series of two-player card games, with Ice King vs. Marceline due out in June 2015 and Lemongrab vs. Gunter due in Q4 2015. Ice King vs. Marceline introduces a new type of landscape — IcyLands — along with frozen tokens that shut down your opponent's lanes, keeping their creatures out of play.

• U.S. publisher Renegade Game Studios plans to release a new edition of Gordon and Fraser Lamont's Snow Tails in August 2015, with new art from Beth Sobel.

• Designer Gil Hova is putting together a small expansion deck of Kingdom Cards for Battle Merchants, with some cards being new and some replacing existing cards. Writes Hova, who hopes to have this expansion ready by June 2015, "It hasn't been decided yet whether this will be only the new cards, a completely new deck of Kingdom Cards, or both; I want to provide an option so players will not have to worry about card backs matching."

• Designer Mike Selinker is teasing the Apocrypha Adventure Card Game, described as a combined card game and role-playing game, with this video, which features music from The Doubleclicks. I love how adorable the words "torture and demise" sound when they sing it!


• The always interesting publisher Games by Play Date has released a published version of Bad Habit, which is also available in a print-and-play format. Here's an overview of the game from the publisher:

Quote:
Bad Habit is a co-operative game for 2-5 players in which you must work together to learn the patience and empathy necessary to help those who suffer from Non-Suicidal Self Injury. It is our hope that this game can provide a unique perspective on the subtle challenges involved with this taboo subject.

• In early March 2015, ACD Distribution announced that Imperial Settlers: Why Can't We Be Friends, Theseus: The Dark Orbit – Bots, and Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 are "coming soon" to U.S. retailers.

• Shimpei Sato's Onitama has been signed by Arcane Wonders as game #3 in its Dice Tower Essentials line. I've played Onitama a half-dozen times and found it an engaging two-player, sort of perfect information strategy game. In September 2014, I created a video explaining how to play:

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Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:19 pm
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Game Preview: Pandemic Legacy, or Goodbye, Mumbai

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On March 12, 2015, Z-Man Games announced that as of that date it had received preorders for 52,000 copies of Pandemic Legacy, its Spiel 2015 release from designers Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau that will debut in ten languages around the world on October 8, 2015.

As chance would have it (or planning — your call), on that same day I was playing Pandemic Legacy with Daviau, Z-Man Games owner Sophie Gravel, and PSI employee Megan Hinterman Kanous in a Raleigh, North Carolina hotel. Kanous was on hand as PSI distributes Z-Man titles to retail accounts such as Target, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, and it would be good for her to know what she's marketing to them. Gravel was on hand because she organized the event. Daviau was on hand to lead us through the first few months of the game. I was on hand so that I could write about Pandemic Legacy in this space and share (some of) the experience with all of you.


Can you make out anything secret in this pic? No? Okay, publish it.

Pandemic Legacy, for those of you unfamiliar with the game, is a mash-up of Matt Leacock's co-operative game Pandemic, which debuted in 2007 and has blown up over time to have multiple expansions and spinoffs while also serving as a common entry point to modern non-Hasbro games, and Rob Daviau's Risk Legacy, which transformed the decades-old Risk wargame into a quasi-role-playing experience in which the world reflected the actions of the players.

I first posted something about Pandemic Legacy in May 2014, and the concept of the game was clear from the get-go: Take the familiar Pandemic gameplay, and have the results of one game carry over into the next. I had no idea what the details of the game might be, but the concept was juicy with possibility. In July 2014, Z-Man revealed an overview of the game:

Quote:
One year. One team. One hope.

Pandemic Legacy starts what will be one of the worst years in human history. Whether it is the worst year is up to the players, who must band together to save the world. Unlike in Pandemic, actions taken in one game of Pandemic Legacy affect all future games. Characters will change. Some may be lost. Heroes will emerge. And, of course, there are the diseases, which start under control, but soon...

Can you save humanity? Will you be ready for the challenges that await in Pandemic Legacy?

That's the framework for the game. You start in January, and play the Pandemic game pretty much like normal. Heck, if you've never played Pandemic — or have Pandemic virgins at the table — you can use the components of Pandemic Legacy to play (almost) original Pandemic to learn the nature of the gameplay, how to share cards, the pace of the epidemics, and so on. (The gameplay isn't identical due to the Pandemic Legacy game board having more connections between cities, which is important for new elements in this later design.) Once you've got the basics of Pandemic gameplay, you can dive into "one of the worst years in human history". Fun!


Other parts of the game board look different, too

While the basics of gameplay are familiar, you notice differences right away. Each city on the game board features a chart next to it, and each time an outbreak occurs in a city, you mark the lowest unmarked number. Marking 1 doesn't result in gameplay changes; it merely indicates unrest in the city against the apparently useless medical workers who sometimes pass through. Marking a 2, however, signals the start of rioting in the city against those same medical workers, with flights into and out of the city no longer being allowed. Research stations in the city are destroyed, and no new ones can be built. (Yes, they're acting out against those not responsible for their situation, but I think we can all find one or a dozen examples of the same type of behavior in real life.) Marking a 4 or 5 indicates further levels of devastation in a city, but I'll leave those details a mystery for now, mostly because I don't remember them.


Mumbai proved a trouble spot in January, with Delhi close behind

One other obvious change from Pandemic is the presence of the Legacy deck: a deck of cards that bears a huge warning label as a glance through it might spoil much of what's to come in future games. (The numbers in the bottom corner allow for someone to reorganize the deck should you drop it. Find someone who's not playing to do this!) The top card tells you when to draw it, then you read the back — possibly drawing other cards as well — until you hit the next stop sign, which also has an indication of when you might look at that. Sometimes these cards are helpful, but that doesn't happen often.


Top card of the Legacy deck; no spoilers!

Pandemic Legacy presents you with a handful of familiar characters, but in this game they are actual characters and not merely roles. You name your character at the start of play, and as the games progress they can be granted upgrades (when you win), scars (when you're in a city that outbreaks), and relationships (which link you to other characters in various ways). Scars are richly thematic, with you perhaps unable to enter the city where you were scarred or paying an additional cost when traveling in certain regions of the world. Collect three scars, though, and you're forcibly retired from the game — because you're dead.

One non-thematic element is that you can choose which scar you take, and some scars are definitely better — as in "less worse" — for some characters than for others. While talking about this, Daviau mentioned that he and Leacock had tested randomly distributed scars but found that players didn't like having a character nuked with a devastating scar. In general, Daviau said that in the design of this game he typically leaned toward storytelling while Leacock leaned toward control — that is, allowing for players to have some measure of control over what happens to them or around them. Thus, count scar distribution as a victory for Leacock.


Violet wanted to be a rock star when young, but now she's merely a single moniker researcher

As in Risk Legacy, some of the permanent changes in the game require you to sticker one thing or another, as with rioting Mumbai or scarred Violet (who was indeed scarred in our first game). The game includes a sheet of stickers that show some of the possible rewards and scars and that allow you to tag cities as needed, while other stickers — and other things — are hidden in multiple dossiers that you'll reveal as needed and as directed by the Legacy deck at various times.


An additional change from Pandemic is that Pandemic Legacy adjusts to your level of success or failure. To start the game, you have a government funding level of 4, which means that you're allowed to add four event cards of your choice (from the eight available) to the location deck before you start play.

In a Leacockian touch of benevolence, you're allowed to see which cubes are in which cities at the start of play before you decide which events to use. If you lose the game, your funding level rises by two for the next game, giving you more events to use and a bit of extra padding between epidemics; if you win, though, your funding drops by two. Get good enough, and you'll have a nice trim deck with zero events in it — well, sort of. One of the possible rewards that you can take for winning a game is an "unfunded event" sticker that you can apply to any location card in the deck. When someone holds that card in the future, the player can use it for the location like normal or use it for the event without spending an action.


Osaka now has an additional use in the game — well, at least in this game

As in Pandemic itself, sometimes everything goes swimmingly in Pandemic Legacy and sometimes it doesn't. The situation seems stable, or at least nearly enough, then you hit an epidemic card, pull Delhi from the bottom of the deck, then splash more cubes in southern Asia to see outbreaks spring up everywhere. Game #1 seemed relatively in control — until it wasn't.

Things might happen between games, such as your funding being reduced or expanded, but no matter how you do in your second attempt at battling diseases in January — whether good or bad — for your next game you'll move on to February and whatever it entails. I asked Daviau about this, and aside from the thematic nature of time passing he brought up the time-honored excuse of needing to keep the game on the rails.

In short, if you win every game of Pandemic Legacy, you'll play twelve times; if you lose every time, you'll play twenty-four times. Those two numbers place a minimum and maximum on the number of times that certain things happen, which is important for all sorts of events and activities, much of which I didn't see. As Daviau pointed out, if you repeated February a half-dozen times a là Phil Connors, you'd possibly devastate a huge number of cities on the game board, hampering your efforts at ever seeing March, much less the closing months of the year.


On the verge of defeat

In the end, our group played Pandemic Legacy four times, with the first game loss being our only setback. After the first quarter of the year, I was ready to be made a fool in April, but certain parties — i.e., everyone other than me — had planes to catch, so we had to stop there. Daviau said was a good place to stop anyway — the end of the first act, as it were — and I'll have to take him at his word as I didn't paw through the Legacy deck to see what was coming.

Gravel said that Z-Man Games plans to hold Pandemic Legacy teaser events at Gen Con 2015, with players doing much the same as what we did, going through three months of the year. The game itself is being released October 8, 2015 in all locations at the same time in order to avoid gameplay being spoiled too early, although it's no doubt true that some number of groups will run through everything in the first day and broadcast their games live via YouTube. As for the different box colors, that's simply a marketing effort by Z-Man to allow you to play one game with friends and another with family and not get them mixed up. All of the components will be the same no matter the cover, and we'll just have to wait until Season 2 to find out what other tricks Leacock and Daviau might have for us...


"We can be heroes, just for one day"
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Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:52 pm
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New Game Round-up: Mexica Returns, Zombies Recess & King Ludwig Reveals Secrets

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• New French publisher Super Meeple was established to reissue out-of-print masterpiece games, and for its first release in April 2015 it will publish a new version of Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer's Mexica, with new versions of Java and Tikal to follow in 2016 and 2017. IELLO is partnering with Super Meeple to publish this new version of Mexica in English; rights to Java in English have not been announced, and Rio Grande Games currently has Tikal in its catalog.

The Super Meeple website notes that two other titles are due out in the middle of 2015 and in October 2015, but those titles haven't been announced yet.

• Does every game need a Cthulhu expansion? Perhaps not, but Tony Boydell has created one for Snowdonia just in case...

• In the wake of Leonard Nimoy's death, Twilight Creations announced that by chance its next Zombies!!! release will be titled Zombies!!! Space Bites! with an (ironically titled?) card named "Live Long and Prosper!"

• Twilight Creations has also teased one image (at left) from an upcoming release titled Zombies!!! Jr.

• One last bit about Twilight Creations: As of March 6, 2015, the publisher has chosen Alliance Game Distributors as its exclusive distributor for the U.S. hobby retail channel.

• Steve Jackson Games has a new printing of The Awful Green Things From Outer Space due out in June 2015.

• In addition to the previously announced titles Favor of the Pharaoh and Suburbia 5★, U.S. publisher Bezier Games has one other offering for 2015: Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets, which like Favor of the Pharoah will debut at Spiel 2015 in October. Here's an overview of the expansion:

Quote:
What secrets are lurking in the shadows of King Ludwig's castle? Dozens of hidden swans are scattered throughout thirty new rooms in Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets. Ludwig is particularly fond of these swans, which provide both much-needed cash at any time or can be collected for big bonuses at the end of the game. Surrounding and protecting your castle are new moats, making every room inside it even more valuable. The King has come up with more favors, including one for creating courtyards. Finally, secret passages enhance connections and muffle sound from activity rooms.

In a speculation thread on BGG, some people had guessed that the initial "S" stood for swans, and while that turns out not to be correct, swans definitely deserve a place in the castle, as designer Ted Alspach explained in a press release: "King Ludwig II of Bavaria was known for his eccentric castle-building, having created some of the most iconic castles in the world during his short reign. He is known as the 'Swan king' as his signature castle, Neuschwanstein, translates roughly to 'New Swan Stone'."

As for the other elements in Secrets, Alspach says that they all relate to the historic castle and Ludwig's desires: "One of the elements of a castle that Ludwig didn't get to build during his short lifetime was a moat, something he longed for as a moat separated two of the castles he frequented as a young boy. But he did get to indulge in another of his architectural desires: Neuschwanstein has several secret passages added specifically at Ludwig's request.

Continues Alspach, "Barbicans and Moats change the way you construct your castle, upping the spacial element that so many people enjoy in the original Castles game. The new rooms provide immense replayability, and coupled with placing Secret Passages and collecting Swans for money and/or points, it really broadens the overall game experience without increasing complexity."

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Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:00 am
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Normal Posting to Resume in the Near Future

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My apologies for the radio silence this past week. My wife got back surgery this past Tuesday, and my son has gone through two illnesses sandwiching that operation, which led to much time out of school and in our hair, when I was supposed to be tending to ol' whatshername. During all of that chaos, I was also forced to endure four games of Pandemic Legacy with co-designer Rob Daviau at my side. Okay, that doesn't sound so bad, I'll admit.

With all of this mostly out of the way, I'll kick off Monday with a new game round-up that highlights the return of an out-of-print classic and a madly anticipated expansion, then follow that later in the day with a non-spoilery overview of Pandemic Legacy. I plan to finally film an overview of Hot Tin Roof after far too long, and I'll see what else awaits in my overgrown mailbox.

If nothing else, some of the other admins and I have processed hundreds of corrections to games in the database the past few days — it's a great task to do when you can barely focus on anything and might need to stop working at any second — so that's something done. Next up, doing more!
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Sun Mar 15, 2015 6:24 pm
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Game Overview: Träxx, or I'm Walking a Line, Visiting Hexes in Order

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At Spielwarenmesse 2015, German publisher Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag took a few moments from adding additional syllables to its name to present me with an overview of its two new titles for the first half of 2015: Steffen Benndorf's The Game (which I recently previewed in this space) and Benndorf and Reinhard Staupe's Träxx, which I'm explaining now (so to speak) since I didn't record anything at the fair, but NSV did give me a review copy to take home.

Träxx fits the style of Qwixx — another Benndorf creation — and Christof Tisch's Mosaix in that some random thing is presented to all players, then they use it the best way they can in their individual playing areas. Mosaix gives one player each turn the ability to arrange the rolled dice, but then everyone must place this dice arrangement in their grid (if possible), while Qwixx gives a whiff of a race in that you can close out a scoring column before someone else, thereby potentially causing them to be pantsed in later rounds when they can't tick off a number.

Träxx boosts the competition for this style of game as players can cut the scores of their opponents by hitting targets before they do — but naturally you can't hit everything first, and in your race to kneecap opponents, you can end up doing more harm to yourself than them.

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Sun Mar 8, 2015 6:01 am
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Blood Rage, Thunderbirds, Between Two Cities, Above and Below & Far Too Much More

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Maybe I'm late to the party with this line of thinking, but more and more Kickstarter feels to me like the new normal for game publication. Eric M. Lang's Viking-themed combat game Blood Rage from Cool Mini Or Not and Guillotine Games hit its $50,000 funding goal within three minutes of it going live on Kickstarter. (KS link) Sure, both designer and publishers have solid reputations and games with sweet miniatures always perform well on KS, but still.

Matt Leacock's co-operative game Thunderbirds from Modiphius Entertainment is another case of a seemingly surefire winner blowing it out on Kickstarter, although I can understand why Modiphius is using crowdfunding for the game since this is both its first board game and a game (with multiple expansions) that includes lots of miniatures, which adds big up-front costs for molds. (KS link)

What else is bubbling in the crowdfunding pot, stewing for the next six or twelve or eighteen months until it's ready to be served?

• Daniel Berger's Hands in the Sea from Knight Works is a two-player, deck-building wargame set during the First Punic War with players trying to capture the opposing capital or just score a bunch of points. (KS link)

Renaissance Wars from Karen Boginski, Jody Boginski-Barbessi and U.S. Games Systems is a trick-taking game in which players represent a "Renaissance Luminary", that is "someone whose influence and fame has transcended his own time" with William Shakespeare and Fillipo Brunelleschi being two such examples. Players use their cards to gain wealth and power, along with populace cards that grant special powers to you while they remain in play. (KS link)

• Dan Manfredini's Far Space Foundry from Terra Nova Games, publisher of the soon-to-be-released Ophir, features the somewhat trendy theme of interstellar mining, with the gameplay being divided into distinct halves of extraction and processing. (KS link)

Find It & Bind It is not, despite what you might first think, a Fifty Shades of Grey tie-in for which I'm sure we are all thankful; instead this design from Phil Cartagena, Josh DeGregorio and Cray Cray Games is a spellcasting-themed deduction game in which you're trying to locate The Book of Shadows, get your witches to it, and (with the book's permission and a safe word established) bind it. (KS link)

• Baltic publisher Brain Games is on Spieleschmiede to fund two expansions for Meelis Looveer's Om Nom Nom, a dice-based game in which players try to feed their critters, preferably with critters owned by the other players. These expansions add the possibility of poisoned food as well as different colored dice that make some food more valuable than others each round. (Spieleschmiede link)

Empires: Age of Discovery from Eagle-Gryphon Games is a new version of Glenn Drover's Age of Empires III, and all the talk about this item seems to be about the nature of the Kickstarter itself rather than the game in question. After all, the game itself remains mostly the same (I think?) while lots of other things have been revised or upgraded or rewritten or incorporated from an expansion. I could try to parse out all that's being added or changed, but instead I'll just move on. (KS link)

• EGG is also funding Jason Tagmire's Seven7s, title #7 in the publisher's E•G•G Series of tiny card games, with this game revolving around special powers on seven groups of seven cards — with the groups being famous sevens such as seas or deadly sins — and players trying to manipulate which cards, groups and colors will be worth the most points at game's end. (KS link)

• As has been his habit recently, Asmadi Games owner Chris Cieslik has produced a short, sample run of the company's latest release — his own card game Adorable Pandaring — in order to debut the game at a convention (PAX East) ahead of its actual release, assuming that it does get published of course. In the game, players take turns laying down panda cards, trying to have lots of adorable pandas according to the current rule for adorableness so that they can score bamboo to win. (KS link)


• "Halfsies Dice" is the fancy name for polyhedral dice from Gate Keeper Games that are half one color and half a different color. The possibilities are endless! But not all possibilities can be purchased — because they're endless! (KS link)

Stonemaier Games is once again doing a smash-up job on Kickstarter, racing to $130k in support for Matthew O'Malley and Ben Rosset's Between Two Cities, which has players drafting two city tiles each round in order to build a city with both left- and right-hand neighbors. A player's score is the lowest of the two cities around him. (KS link)

• Another KS regular, Ryan Laukat of Red Raven Games, is at it again with Above and Below, a town-building/storytelling game that appears to akin to Tales of the Arabian Nights in terms of how players are confronted with different situations during the game. (KS link)

Plague: Land of the Dead, a potentially self-published co-operative game for 2-5 players from Iain Fletcher, bears this short description: "Survive an undead apocalypse and deliver the cure to eliminate the pandemic." Maybe I'm crazy, but I seem to recall one or two other games that bear that same description. (KS link)

Fujian Trader from designers Robert Batchelor and Sari Gilbert and publisher Thinking Past is a network-building and delivery game based on a Chinese maritime merchant map that dates to the 17th century. (KS link)

• Andreas Katelanos' The 5th Land from Prime Alien Watch Squad has players competing for land in a world where the ice caps have melted, food shortages abound, and those who survive have conveniently divided themselves into five alliances, with each having a unique power relevant to the current world situation. (KS link)

Okay, this is way too games to absorb all at once, so it's time for an interlude of an octopus learning how to open a tricky box by watching another octopus that already knows how to do so:



Space Dandy: Galactic Deck-Building Game from newcomer Seven Seas Games, a division of manga publisher Seven Seas Entertainment, with this game being based on the Space Dandy anime from ADULT SWIM. I think you build a deck of cards in this game. (KS link)

Project Dreamscape from Sarah and Will Reed and Undine Studios bears an appropriately dreamscapey cover, and in this card game players try to chain dreams together to use the special powers of those dreams to drive the other players mad — and to score points. (KS link)

Vault Wars from Jonathan Gilmour and Ben Harkins and Floodgate Games takes the premise of A&E television's Storage Wars and wraps it in a medieval setting, with players competing in auctions to claim goods left behind in vaults by adventurers who failed a saving throw. (KS link)

• Spring training started in early March 2015 for Major League Baseball in the U.S., and to coincide with the launch of every baseball fans hopes and unrealistic dreams, Dice Hate Me Games launched a Kickstarter for Bottom of the 9th from Darrell Louder and Michael Mullins, a quick-playing dice-and-card game in which one pitcher squares off against a team in its last at-bats. Allow one run and you lose the game; prevent any runs from scoring, and you'll have to wait for Louder and Mullins Extra Innings follow-up game to continue playing. (KS link)

• Are you ready to explore the world searching for rare books in order to satisfy the odd demands of a sultan? No? Well, would you care to pick up Sultan's Library from Ryno Lourens and newcomer Photon Games in order to do something akin to that without leaving the comfort of your own home? (KS link)

IF Association, a Swiss non-profit that attempts to bring creative projects to reality while simultaneously funding other associations, is attempting to fund a new edition of David Kalmes and Daniel Quodbach's Pitch'n Dunk, a disc-flicking game that simulates basketball by having two players use five player discs to flick the disc ball through the hoop. (Ulule link)

First edition of Pitch'n Dunk

• Calvin Nelson first released the goblin-bashing adventure game Character Quest: Heroes TCG through The Game Crafter and is now attempting to fund a new edition of the game, along with a second standalone/expansion game, through Kickstarter. Despite the name, this is not a collectible card game, but rather a card game that bears the appearance of being collectible. (KS link)

• Newcomer U.S. publisher Happy Mitten Games is attempting to launch its publishing dynasty — okay, publish at least one game — with Aether Magic from Matt Worden, a game in which player magicians attempt to transform aether in order to collect runes and cast spells. (KS link)

How to Serve Man from Gateway Games has you working as an intergalactic chef to create tasty human-based dishes. (KS link)

Cardboard Fortress Games has launched its first title on Kickstarter, the unfortunately named RESISTOR_ from Anthony Amato and Nicole Kline, and I say "unfortunately" because if you look for "resistor" on KS you won't find this game; you need to include the underscore in order to hit this game about supercomputers trying to egg one another on to DEFCON 5 in order to end the world and win the game. (KS link)

• I recorded an overview video of Aaron Lauster's solitaire card game Airborne Commander from StrataMax Games at Gen Con 2013, then a limited edition of the game debuted at Spiel 2014, and now StrataMax is gunning for a larger print run via Kickstarter. (KS link)

• Dominic Huang's Hitman Holiday from Medieval Lords puts 2-10 players in the role of assassins who have gathered at a paradisiacal resort to off one another and prove who's the best at doing said offing. (KS link)

• Meeple Source is raising funds for — no, taking preorders for — no, selling upgraded component kits through Kickstarter for games such as Lords of Waterdeep, Pandemic, Robinson Crusoe, and Imperial Settlers. (KS link)

Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents bears the Conquistador Games logo (for now), but apparently the game will be released by newcomer Artana, which was founded due to changes as to who was involved with Conquistador Games. This design from Dirk Knemeyer puts players in the role of inventors from the 1880s, with them both inventing things and trying to run companies, which can sell stock to raise funds — but those stocks will be purchased by other inventors, possibly enriching them in the process. (KS link)

Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. I mean, this isn't enough for you?! 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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New Game Round-up: Glenn Drover Returns with WarQuest, Expansions for Abyss and Five Tribes & An Overhaul for Agricola?

W. Eric Martin
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Glenn Drover hasn't released a game design since 2007's Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery, which was the first — and last — title from his own company Tropical Games, but 2015 will likely see the release of his WarQuest from Mr. B Games and L4 Studios. This release reunites Drover with Sean Brown (owner of Mr. B Games) and Keith Blume (owner of L4 Studios), with Brown and Blume both having worked at Eagle Games — which Drover founded — and all three having collaborated on the design, development and production of Railroad Tycoon, Conquest of the Empire, and the aforementioned Age of Empires III.

As for WarQuest, the game description doesn't tell you much now, but Brown says that a Kickstarter project for the title will go live in mid-April, so expect more details then. For now, here's what I've got:

Quote:
WarQuest is a game of grand strategy, conquest, and heroic quests in the fantasy world of Myrathia. Immerse yourself in this chaotic and mystical world! Take on the role of a warlord who seeks to reunite the fractured land under your banner. Recruit wood elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs and beast-men to fill the ranks of your armies and engage in epic battles. Travel across the tormented lands in an effort to drive back chaos by completing desperate quests. Conquer and control strategic cities and regions, and if successful, declare yourself ruler of all Myrathia!

• In a post summarizing his response to the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, France, designer Bruno Cathala gave a few details of future projects, such as an Abyss expansion (most likely debuting at Gen Con 2015 in August and co-designed with Charles Chevallier) that contains a new smugglers guild, new locations featuring wrecked vessels, multicolored allies, and black pearls (representing dirty money) that can cost you points at the end of the game.

An expansion for Cathala's Five Tribes, likely also debuting at Gen Con 2015, adds new location tiles to the game (expanding the board to 6x6), impassable mountain ranges, and a sixth(!) tribe of artisans that make valuable items and magical objects.

• As of March 2015, R&R Games is working on expansions for both Time's Up! and Spellcaster.

• Anders and Olle Tyrland have started a BGG blog of single-player scenarios for The Battle at Kemble's Cascade, which Z-Man Games released in late 2014.

• In a departure from its well-known Mystery Rummy releases, U.S. Games Systems plans to release Dave Stawar's Backstab: A Macabre Card Game in March 2015. Here's a short description:

Quote:
In Backstab: A Macabre Card Game, players battle the demented, disgusting and deranged from macabre characters to diabolical traps! Using action cards, players try to beat each encounter they face. If successful, they get a coin; if not, they lose a card. Players may also confiscate coins from their opponents by attacking them with backstab moves. The first player to rack up 25 cents wins!

• In the old news department, Chris, an admin at Play-Agricola.com, posted the following in December 2014:

Quote:
Exciting news!

In 2016, the new published Agricola basic game will include seven 168 card decks in the box: A,B,C,D,J,K,L

Decks A,B,C = 504 cards will be previously published cards by Uwe (from E,I,K, NL, FL, WA, Bi, Cz, O, Z = 645 cards)
Deck D = 168 cards will be new cards by Uwe (I will upload them to the CAC soon. We need to play test them for Uwe)
Deck J,K = 336 cards will be previously published cards by Play-Agricola.com (from G, Wm, Fr, Pi = 378 cards)
Deck L = 168 cards will be new cards by Play-Agricola.com (from G4, G5 = 240 cards)

Now don't take this list as gospel! This statement doesn't match what might actually be in a supposedly revised 2016 edition of Agricola as Lookout Games' Hanno Girke noted on BGG when he explained that Agricola designer Uwe Rosenberg "is currently taking a look how to reorganize the decks. Some cards might rotate out, some from out-of-print expansions might rotate in. This is currently tested at play-agricola.com." Girke went on to note that any new content released with a new edition of the game would also be "available for all players in some way". As for why Lookout might be contemplating changes in the first place, Girke said:

Quote:
Agricola is 8 years old now. There are many cards in the original edition that are never played. Cards that sit on your hand like a lame duck and block that spot for an exiting card.

There are lots of cards that define your strategy in a negativ way, as you'll never play them. Which leads to a "real" hand size of approx 2-4 cards each.

We don't like that. Uwe wants the game to be open for all players, to reduce the luck in the card draw. Therefore, his idea is to eliminate weak cards and to replace them with power cards from expansions. We need a tournament standard that's good for the next decade.

Still, everything right now is being tested. We won't release anything that Uwe is not 100% sure of. That's why there's a 2016 tag on this. It might be 2017 if the tests take longer than expected.
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Fri Mar 6, 2015 5:17 pm
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