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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: Building a New Community, Leaving Earth, Then Starting a New Five Year Mission

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• U.S. publisher Mayfair Games runs a number of tournaments and events each Gen Con, and for Gen Con 2015 it has two big events planned.

First, Mayfair is hosting "The Big Game", a sequel to its Big Game event from Gen Con 2013 in which more than nine hundred people participated in the same game of Catan. The 2015 Big Game takes place Friday, July 31 at 7:00 p.m. in the White River Ballroom in the J.W. Marriott hotel (event: BGM1576923), with all proceeds raised during the event going to The Julian Center, the official Gen Con charity.

Second, also benefitting The Julian Center, is a "Warp Speed" tournament featuring Five Year Mission, a new cooperative Star Trek-based dice game. Mayfair held a similar charity event at Gen Con 2013 with the finalists competing in a game of Catan with actor Wil Wheaton. For 2015, the guest of honor is actor Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As for the game you'll be playing, here's a short description:

Quote:
Five Year Mission is a cooperative dice game for 3-7 players who take the roles of crew members of either the USS Enterprise (from the original Star Trek series) or the USS Enterprise-D (from Star Trek: The Next Generation).

In these roles, players try to cooperatively solve a series of Green, Yellow and Red alerts before failing five such alerts, or getting the Enterprise destroyed. Crew members have different abilities, and both the crew and the alert encounters differ depending on the era in which the game takes place.

Mayfair has yet to release artwork, the name of the designer(s), a release date, and other details for this game. All in good time...

• Designer J. Alex Kevern got a nod in yesterday's round-up of TMG releases, and he has a second title coming in 2015 from Dutch publisher White Goblin Games. Here's an overview of Daxu:

Quote:
In Daxu, players collect sets of cards of six different types of shops: bakery, rice wine shop, wood cutter, basket maker, silk dealer, and tea house.

Each round, several cards are flipped and players decide whether they want the cards for themselves or they want to give the cards to their opponent. Obtained cards go into your personal collection, and some of these cards provide (or make you lose) reputation points. If you focus too much on one type of shop, your customers will be dissatisfied and your opponent will gain points instead of you!

At the end of the game, players score points based on who holds majorities in which shops. Holding a majority by only a few cards earns points for you, but from a certain point on, that majority provides points for your opponent instead! Whoever collects the most points from majorities and reputation points wins.

• Designer Chad Jensen and publisher GMT Games have paired frequently on lengthy titles such as Combat Commander: Europe, Dominant Species and Urban Sprawl, but their next release is the more streamlined Centerville, which bears this gameplay summary:

Quote:
Centerville is a relatively light board game for 2-4 players. Centerville abstractly models the growth and management of a small city — perhaps not unlike the one you're in right now.

Players act as entrepreneurs, tycoons, politicians, and other local movers and shakers working to develop a modern urban area. Fortunes will be made and fame will rise. As time goes by, personal milestones will enrich the players even further.

Throughout the game, players will roll six dice, keeping some and rerolling others, then implementing the various die faces on the game board. This will result in political offices being gained and lost, new vocations learned, new land acquired, or new buildings constructed. The end result is a vibrant community revered near and wide — but only the player who has best balanced their wealth and prestige will emerge the final victor.

Playing time is 15-20 minutes per player.

Centerville is available for preorder through GMT's P500 program, and a more detailed game description is available on that page.

Joe Fatula has released a number of games through The Lumenaris Group, which appears to be a family business or collective that sells felt kits, sewing tools and jigsaw puzzles in addition to games. Browsing through the Lumenaris product offerings is weirdly charming! Fatula's next release is Leaving Earth, which seems like a departure from all he's done before, but that also seems standard for his releases! An overview:

Quote:
The year is 1956. Mankind stands at the dawn of a new age, the Space Age, when the flying bombs of yesteryear will become the rocket ships of tomorrow. As the director of a national space program, your country is depending on you for success in this great contest. You may be the first to create an artificial satellite, send a probe to another planet, or even put a man on the moon.

Leaving Earth is a game about planning and about managing risk. With even a single grand journey into outer space, you might claim victory in the game. Consequently, it is your job to plan each journey carefully, finding the cheapest, quickest, and safest ways to reach your objective — but do not spend too long preparing, or another nation might reach their goal before you.

On your turn, you will be conducting research, building spacecraft, and directing journeys into outer space. To conduct research, you buy an advancement that begins with certain flaws, then you test the advancement to find and eliminate those flaws. To build a spacecraft, you purchase components and assemble them into a whole. To travel to outer space, you expend rockets to maneuver from one location to another.

• Matt Hyra from Cryptozoic Entertainment has notified BGG of two previously announced titles that will not be released — Mystic Warlords of Ka'a, written up in a March 2013 BGG News post, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Expandable Card Game, covered in a different March 2013 BGGN post — so I've removed these game listings from the database, merging the entries with our "unpublished prototype" listing reserved for such abandoned projects.
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Fri May 29, 2015 3:48 pm
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Game 411: Elysium

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Space Cowboys' Elysium, designed by Brett Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan, hits the general U.S. market today, May 28, 2015, and while I've already previewed the game once in November 2014 after playing the prototype — and by chance I had scheduled designer and developer diaries about the game ahead of its nomination for Kennerspiel des Jahres — I've now played a few more times on a preview copy from Asmodee and thought I'd write a bit more.

In general, Elysium is a set collection game, with players drafting fifteen cards over the course of five rounds, then trying to assemble those cards into legends (sets of cards organized by rank or family) before the game ends. More flavorfully, players compete to claim and use characters and objects from Greek mythology into legends, with these characters and objects being grouped into eight families: Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, Ares, Athena, Hades, Hephaestus and Poseidon.

In slightly more detail, each round starts with players having columns in four colors, and they're presented with cards and order tiles, with each of these items having a cost in one or two colors. Players take turns drafting three cards and one order tile, in whatever order they like, but to claim something they need to have the required column colors in front of them. After each item they claim, they must set aside any one color out of play, thereby reducing their options on future turns.




What provides the juice in the game, aside from the competition, is the special powers on the cards: cards affiliated with Zeus grant you ways to score points during the game; those with Hades help you bring more cards into the afterlife, the Elysian Fields where legends are worth VPs at game's end; Hephaestus helps you earn money, which you need to bring cards to the afterlife; Poseidon attacks the opponents' holdings; and so on. Some cards provide an immediate benefit, some a one-shot power, some a power you can use every turn, and so on — but you can use these powers only so long as the cards are still in your active area and haven't been transferred to the afterlife (although Hermes' cards sometimes let you evade this restriction).

You're making and breaking card combinations over the course of the game, and with only five of the eight families in play each game, the nature of the gameplay differs depending on which cards are in the mix:

• Without Hades, transferring cards to the afterlife is much more dependent on the order tile (which determines turn order for the next round, in addition to giving you some amount of money, VPs, and allowable transfers)
• Without Athena, you can't rely on abilities shared by opponents
• Without Hephaestus, you'll have a harder time collecting money
• With Ares, you'll also be fighting for a majority of prestige points, in addition to everything else you're doing
• With Apollo, you can see some of the cards coming in the subsequent round and possibly even use those cards during the current round



Hyperspecialization in two families in a two-player game


Everything changes depending on which families are in play as well as what comes out each round. Since you put out 3N+1 cards each round (with N = number of players), with fewer players you see fewer cards, and thus you have to learn to make do with what's available to you. For this and a few other reasons, Elysium reminds me of a streamlined Seasons. You develop a plan based on what's initially available to you, then you keep modifying that plan based on what comes available each round. Sometimes a player gets lucky by being the first player in a round and having first crack at something super beneficial to whatever their plan is, but that's life. If you think that's a real issue in Elysium, then you can go out of your way to claim the first player tile each round, but that's probably not a great idea since you're then ceding first shot at the cards to everyone else. As in most games, you can't have everything, so you make do the best you can.

Why Elysium feels more streamlined than Seasons is that players don't have to muck about with resources, worrying about getting that one fire token so that you can cast this spell, which you definitely want to cast before this other spell, which you want to make sure is in play before the end of the year, and so on. No, you have only the four columns available to you, and as players spend their columns, you track who can acquire which things and make guesses as to what they might want to acquire, balancing all of this against what might be best for you.

What's more, since you must transfer cards to your Elysian Fields over the course of the game — well, you don't have to, but you can't transfer everything in the final round, so if you want a shot at winning, you had best transfer things there bit by bit in order to compile decent legends by game's end — you're not overwhelmed by choices from the cards in front of you. You see something fruitful, squeeze it for a few turns to bathe in its rich juices, then move it on to make room for something else. (This description might also apply to those of us who play games a few times, then move on to something else. It's a coincidence, I swear!)

This whittling away at your holdings might be why most of my Elysium games have finished in under an hour while games of Seasons typically stretch to two hours. This difference could be part of why Elysium got the nod for Kennerspiel, with the design packing lots of decisions in a tighter timeframe. The gorgeous art on the cover and cards is a nice plus, too.


Hermes and Apollo facilitate more combos thanks to power reuse and look ahead to future cards
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Thu May 28, 2015 10:27 pm
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Tasty Minstrel Games Brings Back Luna, Flips Design Town, Expands the EmDo Universe & Mines for Gold

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• I posted something about this on BGG's Twitter account, but not here. Alas, you think you've covered something, but you've done so only for some of the people reading you.

In any case, Tasty Minstrel Games has acquired the rights to Stefan Feld's Luna, and this new edition of the game, which has no changes other than the insertion of the TMG logo, is due out Oct/Nov 2015. TMG posted an image of the pre-press copy — that is, what's presented to publishers as representative of how the final product will look — for those who want visual proof.

• Another upcoming TMG release, due out sometime in Q3 2015, is Chen Chih-Fan's Flip City, originally released by Taiwanese publisher Homosapiens Lab as Design Town. This design is a super clever deck-building game in which the cards are double-sided with different abilities on each side. You can play as many cards as you like from your deck — getting a peek at what's coming since you know what's on top! — but if you collect three unhappy faces on a turn, you can't do anything. If you stop in time, you use the coins and powers of the cards you've played to acquire new cards or flip the cards already in your deck. If you manage to reveal 8 VP in a single turn, you win.

• Other titles coming from TMG include Seth Jaffee's Eminent Domain: Exotica — an expansion for Eminent Domain that adds exotic worlds, alien cultures, and asteroids that await mining to the base game — as well as Philip duBarry's Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers, a 3-5 player, thirty-minute standalone game set in the EmDo universe. Here's an overview of that title:

Quote:
Captain a mighty battlecruiser in the middle of a firefight as you try to gather 15 units of precious ore and get out — or die trying.

In Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers, you want to be the first to escape with 15 victory points, or be the last ship standing. Each round you and your opponents each play a card from your identical hands. If you play the same card as an opponent, you'll clash and bad things will happen! But if you manage to sneak a card through unhindered, then you'll reap the benefits.

Collect points or knock cards out of your opponents' hands. If you lose all of your cards, then you're out of the running. At the end of each round, check to see whether any player has won; if not, prepare to play another card!

In late May 2015, Jaffee noted that a Kickstarter for both EmDo titles will likely start by the end of the month.

• What else is coming from TMG? In a March 2015 newsletter, TMG's Michael Mindes noted that printing has begun on J. Alex Kevern's Gold West. Here's a description of that game, followed by an overview video that we recorded with the designer at Gen Con 2014:

Quote:
In Gold West, players compete as prospectors building their mining empires while vying over the precious metals of the frontier. In a delicate balance of resource management and area control, players must plan their building strategies while carefully managing their supply tracks to refine the right resources at the most opportune times. Stay a step ahead of the competition and you could lead the West into the Golden Age.

The goal of Gold West is to accumulate the most victory points through clever management of your growing mining empire. There are five resources in the game: the metals Copper, Silver, and Gold are used to acquire victory points in a variety of ways, while Timber and Stone are building materials used to build camps and settlements on the board to collect more resources and influence the landscape.

Each hex contains either two or three resources. Gold generally earns players the most points, with silver and copper yielding slightly less. In addition, each terrain type scores points for the player with the most influence therein at the end of the game. Copper terrains are the most valuable, with Silver, Gold, and Forest Terrains earning slightly fewer points.

When gaining new metals and materials, players place them in their "supply track", a mancala-style track in which you will manage your resources. You get points to further back in the track you place them, as this creates a more refined product, but it will take longer to get these resources to the front of the supply track where they can be used. Shipping, investments, and Boomtown offices often reward players who fulfill them earlier, so it's a careful balance of risk and reward.



• Oh, and there's also this little number, which has only the artwork and short description tease for now:

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Thu May 28, 2015 4:20 pm
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New Game Round-up: Building Circuses, Trading in Haithabu & Opening Expansions During the Holidays

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IDW Games has announced an October 30, 2015 street date for Little Circuses, a tile-laying worker placement game for 2-7 players from Kevin Wilson in which players recruit sword swallowers, daredevils, and mesmerizing mystics in order to build a big top with attractions that'll wow the crowd.

Spielworxx has released a few more details about Haithabu from designers Wolfgang Heidenheim and Andreas Molter, noting that this July 2015 release is not a mechanical heavyweight with lots of victory point chains and nested processes. In the game, players take turns performing individual actions on an action rondel, and what's most critical in the game is the timing of the actions because in each round each color of action can be selected only once. Players must react to market price changes and event dice that can cause complications.

Stronghold Games has confirmed that it will release Luigi Ferrini's The Golden Ages in September 2015 with "no material changes".

• Along similar lines, Alderac Entertainment Group will release Simon Havard's Why First? in September 2015 after debuting the game in the U.S. at Gen Con 2015 in August. I've played this game a few times and will preview it soon in this space.

• German gamer Matthias Nagy has founded Frosted Games in order to publish a special holiday treat for gamers around the world: an advent calendar that contains 24(!) small game expansions from 21 different publishers. Matthias mentioned this idea to me at Spielwarenmesse 2015 when I ran into him at that trade show, and I was blown away by the idea, amazed that no one had ever published such a thing previously.

Several Spiel des Jahres winners and nominees, as yet unnamed, as well as award winners from countries other than Germany have expansions included in this advent calendar. In a press release, Nagy notes that "[m]ost expansions are exclusive for this advent calendar up to Spiel '16 in Essen". Artwork for the advent calendar is by Klemens Franz, and €4 from the sale of each unit will be donated to charity. The board game advent calendar will debut on October 8 at Spiel 2015 in Essen, and it will be distributed in Europe through Spiel Direkt and available in the U.S. in a small quantity through BoardGameGeek (which is news to me).

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Wed May 27, 2015 3:00 pm
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Game 411: Rights

W. Eric Martin
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Japanese publisher Oink Games has produced many titles with tiny footprints, with some of those titles being picked up by other publishers (Kobayakawa and Dungeon of Mandom) and some being available solely through Oink.

The newest title from Oink and designer Jun Sasaki, who has designed or co-designed most releases from Oink, is Rights, which debuted at the Tokyo Game Market in May 2015. Rights is reminiscent of Parade or Reibach & Co., card games in which players build collections of cards in the hope of scoring points (or not scoring points — it's all the same when you flip a scoring system on its head).


Super tiny cards to fit in the box with the 46 point tokens


The deck in Rights consists of 45 cards numbered 5-10, with five 5s, six 6s, etc. Each number corresponds to a particular pattern. Each player starts with a hand of three cards and tokens worth 10 points. On a turn, you draw a card, then you either:

• Play a card in front of you to add it to your holdings, or
• Pass a card face-up to your left-hand neighbor.

In the former case, the player to your left takes the next turn. In the latter case, this neighbor either keeps the card (adding it to their collection and taking the next turn) or places 1 point on it and passes the card left. The player who receives this card now has the same options as before.

Why would you want to pass a card or not keep something handed to you? Because it's poison, of course, point poison. The game ends when a player has 7-10 cards on the table — and since players can pass cards during the game, not everyone will have the same number of cards (since you lose your turn if you choose to pay and pass). As someone nears the game-ending threshold, you sometimes wonder whether to pass something as that could trigger the end of the game.


Endgame holdings and all the points I won!


Once the game ends, players add the three cards in their hand to their holdings, then you determine who has the rights to each pattern/number. for each number, you see whether one player has more of that number than each other player; if so, then each other player must pay 2 points for each such card to whoever holds the rights to this pattern. (You might not have guessed, but you're all fashion designers fighting for monopolistic rights to particular patterns. Yes, in this game you can own the rights to stripes and force others to pay you to stripe something on their own.) If two or more players tie for the ownership of a pattern, then no one pays anything for this pattern since the rights to it are clearly in dispute. After all of the payouts, whoever has the most points wins.

I've played Rights six times on a copy I purchased at TGM, thrice with five players and thrice with four, and in some ways the game feels 20% too short. You want a few more turns to dump the cards that have suddenly become poison because someone else has stacked up several on their own turf. You want more turns to lay out cards of your own to fight for majorities. You want more time!

But that's the nature of most good games, starting small with one holding, then two; feeling out who might be going into which patterns; fighting the tide of time and opposing forces who don't know enough to leave you alone. Adding more turns might just move the goalposts without adding more to the story arc of the game, to the quick rise and fall of your hopes as you wonder whether an investment will pay out once everyone drops their secret holdings onto the table. After all, we played six times in one sitting — "just one more time" we all said, eager to try our luck once again...


Stack o' Oinks


(In the U.S. and Canada, you can call 411 to help you find a person or business, so 411 is sometimes used as a shorthand for information. In "Game 411" posts, I present an overview of a newly released or obscure game to you, the BGG News reader. —WEM)
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Wed May 27, 2015 2:00 am
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Re-explore Mare Nostrum, Relish Mottainai, Revisit an Early Epoch & Recoil from My Confession

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Flat >>>> 3D
• Another Sunday, another round-up of publishers passing the plate to find funding for their projects, starting with a project that's been in the works for years: a new version of Mare Nostrum from designer Serge Laget and publishers Asyncron Games and Acadamy Games "with updated rules, counters, and map board". Word on the street is the Mythology Expansion that made the original game so much better has been incorporated into the base game, along with a rejiggering of many other things. (KS link)

One Hit Kill, to be self-published by designers John August and Ryan Nelson, bears a description that will likely convert some percentage of onlookers to backers without needing additional info: "a card game of ridiculously overpowered weapons and monsters and cuddly rabbits". (KS link)

Beautiful Disaster Games has already racked up piles of funding for a second edition of Assault on Doomrock as well as a new expansion, Assault on Doomrock: Doompocalypse. I predict more doom. (KS link)

• The miniatures portion of this write-up comes courtesy of Middara, a 1-4 player cooperative storytelling game that's sporting rainbow-flavored anime art. (KS link)



• The biggest KS project for me is Carl Chudyk's Mottainai from Asmadi Games, mostly because I love all of the Chudyk games that I've played. I've refrained from playing the print-and-play of this design, which takes the spirit of Glory to Rome and puts it into a new package, but I have faith what will come. That's the mantra of KS backers, yes? (KS link)

Skull Tales from David Illescas and 4Moon Studio has a surprising number of "10" ratings from new BGG users, but perhaps all of these Spanish supporters have played the prototype of this miniatures-based pirate game. I'm sure that spending lots of time discussing how to discourage such ratings in the future will be fruitful, so let's all get right to that, okay? (KS link)

• Artem Safarov's Cauldron from Altema Games is another take on a familiar game setting: Collect a whole bunch of ingredients, then mix them into potions while also casting spells at one another. You will have to investigate this project yourself if you want to see how it differs from other such designs. (KS link)

Mayday Games has a new version of Justin Oh's Click Clack Lumberjack on KS, with this version combining the plastic woodiness of the original with the three-color sparkle of Bling Bling Gemstone, with the golden axe and other sweeteners drawing additional dollars from your wallet one by one as you pimp out your wood. (KS link)

Please fund me...
• German publisher franjos is having a second go at funding Domus Domini from Heinz-Georg Thiemann. This monkish game is 180º in aesthetics from Thiemann's first release — Planet Steam — and the contrast makes me curious to see them combined. (Startnext link)

• Also having second run for the funds is WarQuest from Glenn Drover, L4 Studios and Mr. B Games, although as Drover points out, many of the stretch goals have been converted to automatic rewards for backers, so apparently these guys are content to make nothing on this project in order to make folks happy and ensure long-term support. (KS link)

• Yet another two-timer on KS is the "resurrected edition" of Stephen Tassie's Grave Robbers From Outer Space, which was part of Z-Man Games' "B-Movie Series" when it first appeared in 2001 and will perhaps now reappear from Tassie on his own. (KS link)

• When you see a project with a $50k goal sitting at $640 in support, as with Mitsuo Yamamoto's Sky Scrapers from Logy Games, you can't help but wonder, "Will they try again after this first contact with reality?" (KS link)

• Dutch designer/publisher Martyn F. of Emma Games is attempting to fund his Spiel 2015 release Epoch: Early Inventors, with the low-key cover embodying the setting of this game, with players going back to the dawn of civilized time when early man took actions on a hexagonal landscape and developed society through the use of small pieces of cardboard. (KS link)

Cunning Folk from Jay E. Treat, III and Button Shy is a microgame with people pretending to be other people. (KS link)

• In early May 2015, I noted that the designers of Crysis Analogue Edition — Sebastian Kreutz and Dominik Lau — had recovered the license and were going to publish it on their own through the publishing brand Frame6, and a KS project for that effort is now live. (KS link)

• Former Crysis partner Queen Games is on KS with Shogun Big Box, which adds three new mini-expansions to the base game and one other expansion, because...why not? (KS link)

• I'm not exactly sure what's going on in Mika Rosendahl's Cabals: The Board Game from KYY Games, a deck-building board game based on the Cabals: Magic & Battle Cards video that features underground secret societies of spies, witches, faeries and magicians battling for world domination after World War I, but I want to have sex with this cover. (KS link)


Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun May 24, 2015 6:00 am
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New Game Round-up: Batman and Adventure Time Get Fluxxed, Blue Orange Imports Blackrock & Ora et Labora Returns

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Looney Labs continues onward with its plan to Fluxx the world with the introduction of two branded standalone games in mid-2015: Adventure Time Fluxx, which hits retail on July 24, and Batman Fluxx two weeks later on August 7.

Adventure Time Fluxx inserts the familiar characters and events into the familiar Fluxx game, while Batman Fluxx adds a twist to play as no one can win while a Villain is on the table, so you'll need to cart them to Arkham Asylum before you can claim victory and celebrate in the only way that Batman ever should.



Blue Orange Games has had enough success in the U.S. with its versions of Battle Sheep, Longhorn and Niya — titles first published by sister company Blue Orange in Europe under the name Jactalea — that BOG has decided to add eight additional titles to its European line in 2015. I covered most of these titles — Attila, Dragon Run, Armadöra, etc. — in a January 2015 BGG News post, but now BOG has announced that it will debut Marc Brunnenkant's smuggling game Prohis at Origins 2015, with forty copies shipped in ahead of a retail release later in 2015. Prohis first appeared at Spiel 2014 from French publisher Blackrock Editions, and no changes have been made to the game other than a change in logo and a re-writing of the rules.

What's more, in 2016 Blue Orange Games plans to release another Blackrock Editions title in the U.S.: Alain Ollier's The Boss.

• Designer Uwe Rosenberg noted on Facebook in mid-May 2015 that Ora et Labora will return to print "in a few weeks". He thinks that Z-Man Games will again handle the English-language edition, but I'm checking with Z-Man to see whether this is indeed the case. (Update, May 21: I just received confirmation from Z-Man, which expects to have Ora et Labora available again in Q3 2015.)

In the BGG forums, Hanno Girke from original publisher Lookout Games — which will re-release the game in German — notes that "We upped the quality of those components everybody was complaining about. Everything that used to be thin cardboard is now sturdy cardboard."

• German publisher Clicker Spiele has now released Old Town Robbery from Günter Cornett and Peer Sylvester, a title initially announced for Spiel 2014 but delayed from that show. Here's an overview of this communication-based game:

Quote:
In the first part of Old Town Robbery, the robber wanders through the city, and the players construct a story based on the places he visits. In the second part, players take turns playing the sheriff who is trying to retrace the steps of the robber, visiting the same places as the robber has before. The story element helps players do just that, and they earn points by correctly guessing the next building.
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Thu May 21, 2015 6:00 am
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Quined Games Returns to Carson City, Picks Up Haspelknecht & Discovers Xanadú

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• Dutch publisher Quined Games celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2015, so it's lined up a quartet of releases for the year, with more possibly coming.

The biggest release is undoubtedly Carson City: Big Box, a new version of the 2009 design Carson City from Xavier Georges that includes the base game, the 2012 Carson City: Gold & Guns expansion (which already included the 2010 Carson City: Indian promo), and the new 2015 Carson City: Horses & Heroes expansion. Here's a rundown of the game and its expansions:

Quote:
Carson City is a strategic game played in four rounds, and in each one of them, the players choose a character from the seven available that gives certain advantages.

After selecting characters, your cowboys are placed on action track locations that allow you to construct buildings, houses, or roads; claim ground; earn money; or score victory points. When more than one player is on the same location, get ready, it is time for a duel! Roll the dice and see if you are the last one standing and lay claim to the goods!

During the game, you can take various actions that earn you victory points for your plots, pistols (the hired help), and buildings. At the end of the game, your buildings, houses, mountains, and money contribute to your victory points, and the person with the most points wins. So go round up your posse of gunslingers and get ready for some Wild West action in Carson City!

Carson City: Gold & Guns contains updated buildings and houses, new buildings, new double-sided characters, the "Indian" character, and a separate expansion called "The Outlaws".

In Carson City: Horses & Heroes, players can visit the rodeo to claim additional victory points and use horses to unlock special actions. Three new characters are also added to the game. Finally, all the material needed to play with a sixth player are included in this expansion.

Quined Games plans to run a Kickstarter campaign for both Big Box and Horses & Heroes in June 2015, with the game debuting at Spiel 2015 in October. In a press release announcing the title, Paul Mulders from Quined writes, "Depending on the success of this Kickstarter campaign, the game will see more upgraded parts. If the stretch goals are met, you will receive added wooden components for horses, guns, mountains and houses, alongside a notepad of 'A New Beginning' mini-expansion and luxurious player boards." Carson City: Horses & Heroes will be labeled "5B" in the Quined Games Master Print Series.

• As noted in January 2015, German publisher Spielworxx decided not to publish Thomas Spitzer's Haspelknecht, the third title in Spitzer's coal trilogy following Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890 and Kohle & Kolonie. Quined Games has picked up the title, and Haspelknecht will now appear as title #15 in in the Quined Games Master Print Series. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay, with Haspelknecht scheduled to debut in October 2015 at Spiel:

Quote:
In Haspelknecht, the third title in Thomas Spitzer's coal trilogy of games, the players take upon the role of farmers with opportunities to exploit the presence of coal in their lands in the southern part of the Ruhr region of Germany.

The game is set during the time when the lands were mostly flocked with forests and roads were rare. Coal was found here, nearly at the surface. During the game, the players obtain knowledge about this material, extend the farm, and dig deeper in the ground to get more coal. The game has many ways that lead to victory.

Haspelknecht has an innovative action selection mechanism. The player has to pick the right tasks, and he has also to take care of the ground water which will spoil opportunities to get coal.


The game offers a lot of variation and replayability as the knowledge tiles offer countless possible set-ups.

• Finally, or perhaps fourthly, Quined Games has picked up Javier Velásquez's Xanadú, first released by Colombian publisher Azahar Juegos in 2012. This game is also due out in October 2015, and here's an overview:

Quote:
The year is 1252 and the great Kublai Khan has decided to build his summer palace. He has searched for the best architects who are looking to win fame and prestige — and sometimes you have to harm other architects' prestige to step forward...

Xanadú is a highly interactive card game for 2 to 5 players. Cards can be buildings with four squares of available resources that can be used by any player (including the owner of the card). To be able to retrieve and use those resources, the players assign workers, which are also cards.
 The players compete to earn the most "tong baos", the money in the game, by selling the constructions to the Khan.

Xanadú is a strategy game of building and sabotage, for casual and experienced players.

Xanadú is the first title in Quined's new Master Print Pocket series, and this artwork is sharp, with only the logo seeming out of place, a bit too bright on the well-worn cover:

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Origins Game Fair 2015 Preview — Now Live

W. Eric Martin
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The Origins Game Fair 2015 Preview is now live on BoardGameGeek, just over two weeks before the convention itself opens on June 3, 2015. Close timing!

The preview currently lists just over one hundred items, with other items being hidden in the publisher listings for one reason or another. You'll note that many of the game listings are for prototypes that will be crowdfunded at some point, and that's not surprising given that Origins is far cheaper than Gen Con for the aspiring publisher-to-be, so if you want to put something new in front of gamers, you're risking less by showing up in Columbus, Ohio ahead of the rush of gamers to Gen Con in Indy.

If you plan to attend the convention to sell or demonstrate a new game that's not listed in this preview, please contact me via email through the address in the BGG News header. I'll be at the show for a couple of days to take pics, check out new and upcoming games, record a video or two, and otherwise make a nuisance of myself.
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Spiel des Jahres Nominees for 2015: Colt Express, Machi Koro, The Game

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The Spiel des Jahres juries have announced their nominees for the German game of the year (Spiel des Jahres), enthusiast game of the year (Kennerspiel), and children's game of the year (Kinderspiel), and without further ado let's start with the nominees for the big prize, with the SdJ award typically leading to hundreds of thousands of additional sales from German families picking up something fun for vacation and the holidays. The nominees are:

Colt Express, from Christophe Raimbault and Ludonaute
Machi Koro, from Masao Suganuma and KOSMOS
The Game: Spiel...so lange du kannst!, from Steffen Benndorf and NSV



I've highlighted each of these titles in BGG News posts, and I've included links below for those not familiar with the nominees. Overall, I can understand why each title was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres: Colt Express is a viciously chaotic game that's been a blast of fun every time it gets to the table. Players typically need one game to see the results of their moves unfold, to understand what can happen when everyone is doing things at roughly the same time. You're playing the other players and not just playing the game, so it helps to know what they're like and how eager they are to shoot you. The train play set seemed like a gimmick when I first learned about the game, but it's a gimmick that works, a gimmick that adds to the playing experience, and the upcoming expansion for Spiel 2015 seems to add even more to that staged interaction.



Machi Koro is the "old man" of this group, dating to 2012 for its initial release in Japan. In my overview from October 2013 before this game set the world on fire at Spiel 2013 and cemented the influence of Japanese game design on the larger industry, I dubbed the design "Catan writ small", and perhaps Machi Koro will follow that title down the path to a SdJ on Catan's twentieth anniversary.

As with Colt Express, Machi Koro is another design in which you can't go off in the corner and do your own thing; you must pay attention to the cards everyone else is acquiring to try to break up combos — but you're also at the mercy of the dice because despite whatever smart plans you might put into play, fate might be stacked against you.

The Game: Spiel...so lange du kannst! seems like the oddball in this group, the second coming of 2013 SdJ winner Hanabi in that it's a cooperative card game in a tiny box that places restrictions on what you can say during the game. At first glance the nomination doesn't fit with the earlier two because it sounds like a retread with a quiet spirit — but then I consider my play stats and realize that while I've played Colt Express and Machi Koro roughly a half-dozen times each, I'm closing in on sixty plays of The Game because my wife loves it and I love it and we take it everywhere with us and it works well as a solitaire design and yes, okay, I can see this winning, too.

The only drawback to The Game — aside from its thematic emptiness and quiet gameplay that will turn off some percentage of the potential audience — is the generic name that makes it tough to find. On BGG, search for "kannst" and the game, i.e. The Game, will be the first hit.



Other titles recommended by the SdJ jury in this game weight are Abraca...what?, Cacao, Loony Quest, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Patchwork, and UGO! — fine choices all, with UGO! being the only question mark for me as I've played only once, liking the game but having a dickens of a time getting anything resembling a trick-taking game in front of local gamers.

The nominees for Kennerspiel des Jahres, the award intended for enthusiasts who want something a bit more challenging than the SdJ candidates, are:

Broom Service, from Andreas Pelikan, Alexander Pfister and alea
Elysium, from Brett Gilbert, Matthew Dunstan and Space Cowboys
Orléans, from Reiner Stockhausen and dlp games



My biggest surprise on this list is that Broom Service is available for purchase! We recorded an overview video at Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg, but I had heard nothing about the game since then, perhaps due to the game being available right now only in Germany with German text on the cards. Apparently the English/French version of the game is due out in North America in mid-2015.

Recommended titles by the SdJ jury in the Kennerspiel weight are Deus, Fields of Arle and The Voyages of Marco Polo.

Nominees for the Kinderspiel des Jahres are:

Push a Monster, from Wolfgang Dirscherl, Manfred Reindl and Queen Games
Schatz-Rabatz, from Karin Hetling and Noris
Spinderella, from Roberto Fraga and Zoch



Schatz-Rabatz is a complete mystery to me, and we didn't even have it in the BGG database until a Noris representative submitted a listing this morning after the nominations were announced. Honestly, children's games are not the focus for many BGG users, so we tend to let those slide compared to getting other games in the DB. Sorry!

I edited the rules for Push a Monster from Queen, and it sounds like a fun little game that would tickle the dexterity game lover in me. Whether I'll actually play it at some point, well, who knows?

We did record an overview of Spinderella at Spielwarenmesse given that the title is from Zoch, and BGG users often want to know what's coming from them. Seems like a great gimmicky game along the lines of what Fraga has done previously:



Recommended titles from the Kinderspiel des Jahres jury are Chef Alfredo, Fliegenschmaus, Fröschlein aufgepasst!, Honigbienchen, Joe's Zoo, Schau mal! Was ist anders? and Der verdrehte Sprachzoo.

The Kinderspiel des Jahres winner will be announced on Monday, June 8, 2015 while the Sdj and KedJ winners will be announced on Monday, July 6, 2015. Congratulations to all the nominees!
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