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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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Origins 2015 Round-up: News and Pictures from the Convention Floor

W. Eric Martin
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I've posted previews of a few upcoming titles that I saw and played at the 2015 Origins Game FairEpic, Tides of Time, and Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot — and I have more games to preview in the near future, but for now let's round up my news-related tweets from the convention so that I can call it a wrap on 2015 Origins coverage. (I can also update the database with release dates, images, etc. So much gets thrown into the ether, never to be seen again!)













Ian Estrin at Stone Blade Entertainment mentioned that the company will likely produce retail versions of various Ascension promo cards in the future, but instead of releasing individual theme packs, as with Ascension: Rat King, it will release a larger boxed set, perhaps in the realm of fifty-ish cards. This format will be easier for retailers to handle and keep in inventory.













Why release a less-expensive version of the same game? First, if this version of Flick 'em Up! does appear, it probably won't be released for at least a year, which is why I referred to it as a paperback edition. Second, Pretzel Games and parent company F2Z Entertainment aren't sure which potential licensors, if any, are interested in carrying their own version of a $70 MSRP all-wood game. Thus, F2Z is considering a more affordable version of the game, feeling that might be more attractive to some potential partners.

(In June 2015, F2Z brand Filosofia Édition did something similar with Tragedy Looper, polling users as to whether they wanted the original manga cover or a more Western-looking cover. The original version won.)















































































































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Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:00 pm
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Warriors Come to Middle-earth to Expand War of the Ring

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Just a few days after the announcement of an expansion for the highly ranked Eclipse, Italian publisher Ares Games has announced an expansion for the nearly equally highly ranked War of the Ring, with the design trio of Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello using War of the Ring: Warriors of Middle-earth to expand on elements included in the base game, in addition to adding new material. Artist John Howe also returns to provide artwork for this expansion.

War of the Ring: Warriors of Middle-earth is due out November 2015, and reprints of the currently out-of-stock War of the Ring (second edition) and War of the Ring: Lords of Middle-earth are both due out in August 2015.

As for what's in this expansion, here's an overview from the publisher:

Quote:
War of the Ring: Warriors of Middle-earth includes Ents, Dead Men of Dunharrow, Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Corsairs of Umbar, Wild Hilmen from Dunland, and Giant Spiders, and with this new expansion for War of the Ring (second edition), these warriors and creatures of Middle-earth – previously featured only as special Event Cards – will become an essential part of the game, with unique figures and specific abilities.

Warriors of Middle-earth also presents new mechanisms to enhance the game. Faction Dice and Faction Events, used together with the new figures, open up new and exciting strategies and make the War of the Ring (second edition) even more challenging and fun.

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Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:31 am
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Game Preview: Epic, or Fantasy Gaming with Impact

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If you play Magic: The Gathering, you'd probably give anything to be able to cast a first-turn 10/15 flying dragon with protection that pumps all of your other dragons in play. In Epic, you can do that:




My short description of Epic — a forthcoming design from Star Realms creators Robert Dougherty, Darwin Kastle and White Wizard Games — is all of the broken cards from MTG with almost none of the mana restrictions.

Let's break that description down a bit: Cards in Epic — at least the base game of Epic, which I've played seven times now on a prototype review copy that I can't post images of since WWG is still unveiling cards one by one on its Kickstarter project — consist solely of champions (i.e., creatures) and events (spells). Cards come in four factions (colors), with each faction having a central characteristic: yellow is good, blue sage, green wild, and red evil.

Each card has a casting cost of either zero or one, and at the start of each turn, each player receives one coin that can be spent that turn. That's it! The elaborate mana system from Magic, something that makes that game what it is, that allows players to scale up from small effects to large, has been pancaked to a far simpler two-level system: On your turn, cast all of the 0-cost cards that you want along with a single 1-cost card; on your opponent's turn, cast all of the allowable 0-cost cards that you want along with a single allowable 1-cost card, but only at three specific points during that opponent's turn.




Nearly everything in Epic can be viewed in terms of Magic, and if you've played Magic, then you're already most of the way toward understanding and playing this game. At the start of a turn, each player receives a single coin to spend or lose. The active player can play cards, attack, or use the powers of cards in play in whatever order they want. The player can attack multiple times during their turn, attacking with single champions each time, with multiple champions individually, with multiple champions grouped together (thereby possibly taking down a large blocker should the opponent block), etc. You can attack, play a card, attack again, use a power, attack still again, and so on. (Like Magic, champions can't attack or tap the turn they are played.) Everything is more free form than Magic with the main limitation being that single coin that you can spend each turn.

On defense, you can play cards only (1) after the active player has declared attackers then (optionally) played cards, (2) after you've declared blockers (or not) and the active player has (optionally) played cards, and (3) at the end of the active player's turn, after which the active player can decide to play more cards or use powers or attack, if desired.

When you block, you flip the blocking champion 180º to show that it's blocked for the turn.




Many of the champion powers and keywords in Epic have corresponding Magic terms, and you'll find yourself slipping into them easily: Airborne = Flying; Blitz = Haste, with such champions being able to attack and use powers the turn they come into play; Ambush = Flash, with such champions being playable during the active player's turn; Prepare = Untap; Tribute = a comes-into-play ability; Breakthrough = Trample; and so on.

Some champion keywords are unique to Epic, or at least common enough to require a keyword. The Forcemage Apprentice above, for example, has an Ally Ability, which is represented by the colored circle; whenever you play a 1-cost sage card, you can untap this card. Other ally abilities include dealing damage to a target or returning a card from your discard pile to your hand. Other such keywords:

-----• When you Banish something, you place it on the bottom of its owner's deck.
-----• When you Break something, you place it in that owner's discard pile.
-----• To Recall a card, you pay one coin, then move that card from the discard pile to your hand.
-----Loyalty is a comes-into-play ability like Tribute, but it works only if you reveal the indicated number of cards from your hand of the same faction as the card you just played.
-----• To Recycle, you banish two cards from your discard pile, then draw a card.

Wait a minute — doesn't recycling sound like total upside? Replenish my deck and draw a card? Well, things are a tiny bit different in Epic in that you have two possible victory conditions. To win, you can either (1) reduce your opponent from thirty to zero health or (2) try to draw a card from an empty deck. Yes, in Epic you win the game if you run out your deck; you're rewarded for efficiently playing all of your stuff and keeping it dead instead of recycling it.




Another key difference in Epic from Magic is that you can't immediately react to anything that the other player does. You have no instants, no counterspells to stop a person from doing something. If you aim a "Flame Strike" at a champion that has eight or less defense, then it's broken; if you aim it at my face, then I've been flame struck. You can't tap a champion in response to use it before it dies; it just dies.

The Epic base game comes with 120 cards, with thirty different cards in each faction. I don't have the complete rules, but what I've gathered from talking with Dougherty and those demoing the game at the 2015 Origins Game Fair is that you can play with those cards in multiple ways. You can pit all the cards of one faction against another, with those factions supposedly being balanced. You can each take thirty random cards, then shuffle and play, which is what I've been doing. You can draft cards in some manner not yet specified, although I imagine that you can concoct whatever method you like given that you can also just deal each player thirty cards at random!

If you want to compete with constructed decks, then you can have up to three copies of a card in that deck, which means three copies of the game covers you in all circumstances (including their Epic cube format, whatever that might be), although you certainly don't need three copies in order to play.

As I mentioned above, I've played seven times, and the games have been all over the place in terms of speed and back-and-forth interaction, with one victory by decking when I was paying more attention with trying to push through damage instead of getting cards into my opponent's deck. Sometimes that dragon gets in for a few hits, and sometimes it's removed from play before it can even bat its wings. Epic feels like old-school Magic from back when I had no idea what I was doing and shuffled all of my cards — yes, even my Black Lotus — together into a giant 120-card deck and was surprised by whatever came off the top. Part of that, of course, is that I didn't look through the Epic cards before playing; I just shuffled, dealt thirty cards to each of us, then started. You look at what you draw and think, "Can this card really do that?!" — then your opponent drops an 18/18 trampling wurm into play, and you realize that you're holding the perfect solution in hand...
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Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:52 pm
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FTC Brings Legal Action Against Failed Kickstarter Game Project

W. Eric Martin
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In somewhat surprising news, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has taken legal action in its first (but probably not last) case involving crowdfunding, with the target of this action being Erik Chevalier, who raised more than $122,000 in 2012 on a Kickstarter project to publish The Doom That Came To Atlantic City under the publishing name The Forking Path Co.

In a press release about the action, the FTC notes that Chevalier spent most of the money on personal expenses, leaving backers of the KS project with nothing but excuses. Here's an excerpt from that press release:

Quote:
According to the FTC's complaint, Chevalier represented in his Doom campaign on Kickstarter.com that if he raised $35,000, backers would get certain rewards, such as a copy of the game or specially designed pewter game figurines. He raised more than $122,000 from 1,246 backers, most of whom pledged $75 or more in the hopes of getting the highly prized figurines. He represented in a number of updates that he was making progress on the game. But after 14 months, Chevalier announced that he was cancelling the project and refunding his backers' money.

Despite Chevalier's promises he did not provide the rewards, nor did he provide refunds to his backers. In fact, according to the FTC's complaint, Chevalier spent most of the money on unrelated personal expenses such as rent, moving himself to Oregon, personal equipment, and licenses for a different project.

Under the settlement order, Chevalier is prohibited from making misrepresentations about any crowdfunding campaign and from failing to honor stated refund policies. He is also barred from disclosing or otherwise benefiting from customers' personal information, and failing to dispose of such information properly. The order imposes a $111,793.71 judgment that will be suspended due to Chevalier's inability to pay. The full amount will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

I'm always tickled to read about games when they're presented in something mainstream like a government press release: "highly prized figurines" indeed.

It's a shame that backers won't receive a refund — although Cryptozoic Entertainment did make good on the promise of a game by producing and delivering The Doom That Came To Atlantic City to more than 1,200 backers in mid-2013 — but if nothing else, this FTC announcement might give a cheer to backers of other failed Kickstarter campaigns.
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Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:37 am
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Game Preview: Tides of Time, or Plucking Points from Shifting Waters

W. Eric Martin
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This post serves as both coverage of the 2015 Origins Game Fair and a preview of Gen Con 2015. Double duty!

At Origins, Chevee Dodd was showing off three titles from Portal Games that will debut at Gen Con 2015: Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot (previewed here), Imperial Settlers: Atlanteans (which I'll talk about another time), and Tides of Time.

This latter game from Kristian Čurla is a marvel in minimalist design, creating tons of tension from only eighteen cards in a game that lasts no more than twenty minutes. In short, Tides of Time is a two-player-only card-drafting game that lasts three rounds, with each player trying to assemble in each round combinations of cards that work together to net them more points than the opponent.

You start with five cards, then draft, reveal and pass the remaining cards. After scoring at the end of each of the first two rounds, you remove one card in your tableau from the game and set another aside to be part of your permanent hand, then you draw two new cards and draft again. After three rounds, the player with the most points wins.

To see this game in action, or discover some of the cards included, watch this video:

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Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:57 am
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Eclipse Gets Larger Thanks to Shadow of the Rift

W. Eric Martin
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Sampo Sikiö teased Eclipse fans with a dexterity-based expansion on April 1, 2015, but news of the expansion is real, with Eclipse: Shadow of the Rift due out from Touko Tahkokallio and Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi in Q4 2015 with a €45 MSRP. Here's an overview of what you'll find in this expansion, which is the same size as Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients:

Quote:
The Ancient Uprising has been put down, and a fragile peace again holds in the galaxy...but suddenly, everything changes. Several new factions rise to disturb the status quo. The Unity nanomachines bend energy and matter to their will. The Shaper ships tear the spacetime fabric apart, while insignificant Octantis factions take a developmental leap after leap forward. It almost seems like the base laws of the universe no longer apply.

Eclipse: Shadow of the Rift introduces several new mechanisms to Eclipse, including Time Distortion, Evolution and Anomalies, as well as several new Rare Technologies, Developments and Discoveries. It includes two new player boards with three new different alien species from which to choose. Due to its modular design, you can use all of these additions or just some of them in any game of Eclipse according to your preferences and play style. The expansion does not require the Rise of the Ancients expansion, but is fully compatible with it.

As the shadows unfold from the rifts of spacetime, can your civilization stand unbroken?

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Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:31 pm
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Game Preview: Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot

W. Eric Martin
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At the 2015 Origins Game Fair, I tried a number of games that debuted at the show or will be released in the near future, including Ignacy Trzewiczek's Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot, which will debut from Portal Games at Gen Con 2015.

In the game, players control a small fleet of ships, and because they're pirates — friendly cartoon pirates, mind you — they're going to sail the seas sinking ships and stealing loot. Players choose one of the scenarios in the box, and each scenario contains a number of quests, with each quest being comprised of one or more adventures. After you complete all of the adventures in a quest, you sail to Tortuga to spend your loot for ship upgrades, new sailors, or gold (also known as victory points).

Adventures are divided into easy, hard and crazy, and for each adventure you reveal a card from the appropriate deck to see what you're facing. In general, easy and hard adventures challenge you to take out various merchant and naval ships (which are represented by dice, just as your ships are), while crazy adventures are mini dice games that you play directly against opponents. For the easy and hard adventures, you see what you face, then decide how many of your ship dice to send against these targets. The active player drops all of the dice into a box, then players take turns moving or firing cannons before finally resolving battles in order based on which ships are closest to one another.

Thus, you have the luck of the die rolls affecting everything in two ways — which numbers or symbols land on top and where everything lands in the box — with you trying to mitigate that luck by using sails to move strong ships into better position or weak ships to safety, by using cannon to take out targets before a closer ship can beat you to it, and by grabbing sailors and specialized upgrades to let you do things that no one else can do.

For more on the gameplay in Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot, and a view of the components — with the dice and artwork being final and everything else being prototype quality — here's an overview video of Chevee Dodd at Origins 2015:

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Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:45 pm
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Looking Ahead to Gen Con 2015 — Send Me Your Info!

W. Eric Martin
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The 2015 Origins Game Fair is over. I've tweeted lots of pics and notes from the show on BGG's Twitter account, and I'll round up the most newsworthy of them in a separate post.

For now, though, I'm looking ahead to Gen Con 2015, which runs July 30 to August 2, which means the con opens in just over seven weeks, which means it's time for designers and publishers to submit details of what they'll have. I've already been compiling BGG's Gen Con 2015 Preview, but it's far from complete at this point. If you're a designer or publisher who will be selling or demonstrating new or upcoming games at Gen Con 2015, please email me (wericmartin AT gmail.com) the following details:

• Your booth number
• Games that you will debut at Gen Con 2015
• Games released since April 2015 that will be available at Gen Con 2015
• Games that you will preview ahead of a future release date (and their anticipated release dates)

Please include "Gen Con 2015" in the subject line, and note that the convention is titled "Gen Con" with a space. If possible, please return this list to me by the end of Thursday, June 12 so that your games will be included in the Gen Con 2015 Preview when it goes live on Monday, June 15. You're welcome to include prices (and discounted convention prices) in your list.

If your games aren't already listed on BGG, details on how to submit them, designers and publishers to the BGG database are here. After all, if the games aren't listed in the BGG database, I can't link to them in the Gen Con 2015 Preview!

I already have copies of a few titles that will officially debut at Gen Con 2015 — Tides of Time, Flick 'em Up!, Bad Beets, Cthulhu Realms (which I need to enter in the db) — and will be previewing those games in this space in the weeks ahead. You're welcome to contact me about previewing your Gen Con 2015 debut, and I'll see what's possible in the time that remains before tens of thousands of people descend on Indianapolis for the self-described "best four days in gaming".
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Mon Jun 8, 2015 2:26 pm
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Coverage of Origins Game Fair 2015

W. Eric Martin
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If you're reading this post, then the 2015 Origins Game Fair has opened on Thursday, June 4, and I'm on site to investigate newly released and upcoming games for coverage on BGG News.

To start with, I'll be tweeting news, notes and images through BGG's Twitter account on Thursday and Friday, after which I'll compile those posts into one of those tweet round-ups that some people hate with a passion. If you're one of those people, sorry! If you're not one of those people, try to convince those other guys not to get so riled up!
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Thu Jun 4, 2015 3:00 pm
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WizKids Readies Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Games for 2015

W. Eric Martin
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Early news from the 2015 Origins Game Fair (with me arriving in Columbus, Ohio soon to find out more things firsthand) has WizKids Games announcing a deal with Nickelodeon to release "multiple tabletop games based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise".

In what might not be surprising news to those familiar with WizKids, the first two TMNT games planned for release by WizKids are a "special series" of TMNT HeroClix figures and a TMNT Dice Masters game, with both of those scheduled to appear in 2015.




If you're curious as to which versions of the turtles you might see in these games, the answer seems to be "all of them". In a press release announcing the partnership, a representative of WizKids Games writes that the company "is very excited to bring fan-favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters, spanning all iterations of the comics from classic to present day as well as the classic cartoon and current hit CG-animated series on Nickelodeon, to both games. "

Completely by chance, my 6yo son and I had started to assemble this LEGO set on Wednesday morning before this announcement had been made:




He discovered the Nickelodeon cartoon show while we were on a trip in late May 2015, and I suspect that my wallet will be saddened once he finds out that these games are on the way...
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Thu Jun 4, 2015 5:19 am
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