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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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Gen Con 2015 XIX: Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, WWE Superstar Showdown, Helionox: The Last Sunset, Ninja Camp & Heroes Wanted: The Stuff of Legend

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• Isaac Vega's Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn from Plaid Hat Games is a thing of beauty, and it was one of a handful of titles that had people salivating in anticipation prior to Gen Con 2015. How does the game play? Vega visited the BGG booth to give us (and you) and overview.





• Gale Force Nine has made a name for itself with licensed game releases that lice up to the spirit of the license, and its latest offering along these lines is WWE Superstar Showdown, with Matt Maggitti almost yelling himself hoarse as the ringside announcer in this presentation of the gameplay.





Heroes Wanted: The Stuff of Legend from designers Chance and Little and publisher Action Phase Games adds more of what you found in the base game — two-part adjectival & noun hero and villain cards that come together in strange ways — as well as new scenarios in which to start the action.





• Adam E. Daulton's Ninja Camp from Action Phase Games brings together gameplay reminiscent of Hey, That's My Fish! with animal karate masters that pick up movement cards which determine which actions they can possibly perform on future turns.





Helionox: The Last Sunset from designer Taran Lewis Kratz of Zeroic Games was something I missed seeing on Kickstarter, but man, does this game have eye-catching graphic design!






Sean Brown of Mr. B Games is providing fulfillment for the KS, and he came by the BGG booth at Gen Con 2015 to explain this movement-based deck-builder.

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Gen Con 2015 XVIII: Thunderbirds, Pocket Imperium, Warehouse 51, Attila, Heavy Steam & Yashima: Legend of the Kami Masters

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• Designer Matt Leacock and cooperative games go hand-in-hand, it seems, and he's cementing that relationship in late 2015 with the release of Thunderbirds from UK publisher Modiphius Entertainment. At Gen Con 2015, Modiphius had a final production copy on hand, and Leacock visited the BGG booth to explain what's going on in the game.





• Of all the 100+ Gen Con 2015 game videos that I've packaged with final graphics for publication on the BGG YouTube channel, this is my favorite, with the cropping of the cover working perfectly in the space allowed. As for the game — Pocket Imperium from David Mortimer and LudiCreations — well, I haven't played this mini-4X-in-space yet, but I was hired by LudiCreations to do a final edit on the rules prior to publication. Just wanted to mention that!





• LudiCreations shared space in the Passport Game Studios booth at Gen Con 2015, and Passport is co-publisher with Funforge of Warehouse 51, a bidding game from Bruno Faidutti, Sérgio Halaban and André Zatz in which billionaire players try to acquire items from the famed Warehouse 51, where the U.S. government keeps all of our most precious treasures.





• Another Faidutti title on hand in Indy was Attila, a tiny two-player design published by Blue Orange Games that plays out like a mini battle between chess knights on a modular game board. I've played this game a handful of times, and it's a neat





• GreenBrier Games showed off two miniatures-based games at Gen Con 2015, the first being Heavy Steam from Scott Kimball, with players controlling mechs constructed from turn-of-the-20th-century technology that doesn't work as well as you might hope.





• The other miniatures title from GreenBrier was Yashima: Legend of the Kami Masters from designers Tony Gullotti and Joshua Sprung, with the former showing up at our booth to present and overview of gameplay

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Spiel 2015 Preview: Dungeon Busters, or Sloughing Your Way to Success

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Tomohiro Enoki's Dungeon Busters from Divedice is a quick-playing, sort of simultaneous bidding game in which 3-5 players try to do as little work as possible fighting monsters so that they can instead focus on scooping up the gems that monster protects — but if everyone's trying to get the goods, then the monster applies a judicious smackdown on whoever's acting greediest.

Can you find the proper balance between fighting and foraging to become the richest dungeon buster?

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Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:00 pm
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Hasbro Partners with Indiegogo to Find a New Party Game

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I never thought that I would use the terms "Hasbro" and "crowdfunding" in the same sentence, but here we go: U.S. toy and game publisher Hasbro is partnering with crowdfunding site Indiegogo on a game design challenge to "find the next hit face-to-face party game". From a press release accompanying the announcement:

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"More people are gaming than ever before and the category has grown tremendously with the emergence of a passionate and talented community of game designers," said Brian Chapman, head of design and development at Hasbro. "We believe big game ideas can come from anywhere and the challenge with Indiegogo will be a new way for Hasbro to connect with the gaming community and discover a big new idea that we can hopefully help cultivate and bring to market."

The gist of the challenge is that game designers can submit their ideas through the Hasbro Gaming Lab until September 30, 2015. (The Hasbro Gaming Lab is described as "a team at Hasbro dedicated to connecting with the growing gaming community to discover and develop great new games".)




A team of judges selected by Hasbro will evaluate these submissions based on gameplay, viability, story/theme, and "potential for fun-ness", with the top five submissions being announced on October 30, 2015 and groomed in coordination with Hasbro for crowdfunding and fan-building projects on Indiegogo. These campaigns will end Dec. 1, 2015, with the designers keeping all of the funds raised, then Hasbro will announce a winner on Dec. 3, 2015. From the press release: "The grand prize winner selected by Hasbro will receive $10,000 and a trip to Hasbro headquarters to meet with and work with the game development team to help make his or her party game a reality." Woo, Pawtucket!

As you might expect the terms of submission include a lot of legal detail that make it clear that you still own the idea — "You retain ownership of all intellectual property rights in the Submission (as defined below) including any associated copyrights, trademarks, and/or patents that you may hold." — while covering Hasbro from any possible legal challenges in the future. An excerpt:

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You acknowledge and agree that each Submission will be made voluntarily and not in confidence. That means that neither your Submission nor anything in these Terms shall or may be deemed to place Hasbro in any relationship (including any confidential relationship) with you that is different from that of the general public with respect to the Submission. With respect to any characters, music, scripts, screenplays, storylines, and/or plot outlines (referenced herein collectively or separately as "Entertainment Materials"), you hereby waive any claim, action, and/or suit (collectively, "Claims") against Hasbro, and/or Hasbro’s affiliates, distributors, customers, vendors, promotional partners, and/or licensees, and/or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, and/or assigns, relating to any alleged use or misappropriation by Hasbro of any Submission. With respect to any aspects of any Submission other than Entertainment Materials, including but not limited to any toy, game, puzzle, or other product concepts, ideas, innovations, modifications, or improvements disclosed to Hasbro as part of the Submission, you hereby waive and forever discharge and release Hasbro, its affiliates, vendors, promotional partners, distributors, customers, and licensees, and their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, and assigns, from and against, any and all Claims relating to any alleged use or misappropriation by Hasbro of such aspects of any Submission.

Independent Development. Without limiting Hasbro's rights to utilize nonconfidential materials, except insofar as that use may constitute an actionable violation of intellectual property rights, you also acknowledge and understand that Hasbro may receive information or concepts from others that may be similar to the Submission, or may itself be developing or in the future develop information or concepts similar to the Submission, without reference to or use of the Submission. Nothing in these Terms shall be construed as a representation or inference that Hasbro will refrain from such separate concept development.

Warranty. By entering the Challenge, you warrant and represent that the your Submission is your own original work created by you, has not been previously published, has not won a previous prize or award, that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the entry and that the entry submitted by you does not violate any law, regulation or third-party right, including but not limited to copyright, trademark right, or rights of, publicity and/or privacy. Please understand that submitting an entry that is copyrighted by another individual, or otherwise subject to the rights of another individual, will make you responsible for any legal action the legal rights holder might take against you. Likewise, you agree to indemnify Hasbro against any Claims made by individuals claiming ownership of or rights in the entry who may contest Hasbro's right to use the entry in accordance with the terms of these Terms.
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Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:00 pm
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Gen Con 2015 XVII: Level 99 Games — BattleCON: War of Indines, Pixel Tactics 5, RESISTOR_, Dragon Punch, and the Exceed Fighting System

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• Designer D. Brad Talton, Jr. of Level 99 Games loves head-to-head fighting games, especially if they feature individualized characters that each put a spin on how the battle plays out. He's designed and published other types of games as well, but when you look at the title with which he launched his company — BattleCON: War of Indines, now out in a new "remastered" edition for 2015 — you'll get a good taste of his design style.





Pixel Tactics is a series of head-to-head tactical combat games from Level 99 Games' Brad Talton. Each set is a standalone game of two 25-card decks, with each player choosing a leader from one of the 25 characters included in their deck, then using the other cards as attackers or supporters or orders — with each card being able to fulfill all of these roles in different ways.

At Gen Con 2015, Talton presented an overview of the Pixel Tactics system, while also showing off the forthcoming Pixel Tactics 5.





RESISTOR_ was not initially a Level 99 Games. Designers Anthony Amato and Nicole Kline from Cardboard Fortress Games ran a Kickstarter project for the game, then subsequently partnered with Level 99 to make RESISTOR_ part of that publisher's "Duelist" series of two-player games, thereby allowing the more experienced Level 99 to get involved with fulfillment and distribution.





• This video covers two forthcoming releases from Level 99 Games: Dragon Punch and Exceed. The story with Dragon Punch is similar to that of RESISTOR_; designer Koen Hendrix started a Kickstarter project to fund Dragon Punch, then decided to partner with Level 99 Games in the middle of funding, which increased interest in this two-player fighting-based microgame, but also delayed production since more backers came in and the game went from being a hand-assembled job by Hendrix to an actual published game.

Exceed is a new two-player fighting system from Talton, and if you like the short description of it at the end of this video, you can download the rules and cards from the Level 99 Games website to try it for yourself right now.

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Spiel 2015 Preview: TimeBomb, or Do Not Ask for Whom the Bomb Tolls

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I've already written about Yusuke Sato's TimeBomb from New Board Game Party — a hidden role game in which 2-4 SWAT team members try to find all of the "Success" cards in play before the end of four rounds or the detonation of the single bomb in play, while 1-2 terrorists try to befuddle them — but here I am talking about it again, this time with a video overview of the game ahead of its international debut at Spiel 2015.

Why show TimeBomb off once again? Well, some individuals really prefer videos over written descriptions, and I thought it might be nice to cater to their tastes. Also, we have only six weeks remaining before the Spiel convention opens in Essen, Germany, so I'm trying to knock out as many previews as possible of games that will debut there or be widely available for the first time.

Thus, you can expect many more such previews in the weeks ahead, sometimes on video, sometimes in text, sometimes in a photo gallery, and perhaps once via fortune cookie.


Components in the game


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Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:00 am
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Gen Con 2015 XVI: Artifacts, Inc., Above and Below, The Last Spike, Arcadia, Chaos Cove, The Great Dinosaur Rush & Spirits of the Rice Paddy

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• One of the many sellout titles at Gen Con 2015 was Ryan Laukat's Artifacts, Inc., published by his own Red Raven Games, and I believe that a second small batch of games was rushed in for the weekend to ensure that as many folks as possible could go home with a copy. Thankfully Laukat stepped away from folks wanting to hand him money long enough to talk about the game in the BGG booth.





• The second title that Laukat presented to us at Gen Con 2015 was Above and Below, which is due out before the end of 2015. This storytelling/town-building game has a sweet look to it, with the storytelling being something along the lines of Tales of the Arabian Nights.





• Tom Dalgliesh's The Last Spike from Columbia Games is a new edition of a game first released nearly four decades earlier from Gamma Two Games. You never know when something's going to return to print...





Arcadia from designers Greg Bush and Phil R. Chase and publisher APE Games is one of several amusement park-themed games to hit the market in recent years. What's going to be the next setting to sweep through the game design community? I'm guessing soft serve ice cream shops.





• And now we enter the preview section of this post, with Spirits of the Rice Paddy from Philip duBarry scheduled to hit stores in September 2015, with players trying to be the best rice farmer they can be.





• Designer Scott Almes has been placing designs all over the place, with The Great Dinosaur Rush due out from APE Games at the end of 2015, giving players the chance to dig up (wooden) bones and assemble dinosaurs from their finds.





• Finally from APE Games is Chaos Cove, a 2016 release from Andrew Federspiel with player mercenaries using special gadgets and their unique skills to complete missions.

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Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:00 pm
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Odin's Ravens Flies Again, Courtesy of Osprey Games

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Let's set the WABAC machine to 2013: A new edition of the long out-of-print two-player game Odin's Ravens from Thorsten Gimmler was announced, and many huzzahs were heard. A funding campaign was launched on Kickstarter and fulfilled to the tune of $22,559 — then project founder Seth Nemec from Works, Ltd. disappeared and no one ever received a thing.

Now UK publisher Osprey Games has picked up the license, announcing a new edition of Odin's Ravens (MSRP $24/£17) with art from Swedish fantasy artist Johan Egerkrans. In a press release announcing the title, Gimmler says, "I am very proud that my game will once again be available, and excited by the opportunity to present a reworked version of the rules that I think old and new fans will enjoy. I love the artwork from Johan Egerkrans." I agree — the new look of the game is far more professional and attractive that what was shown from Works, Ltd.

As for those who previously backed the KS from Works, Ltd., Osprey Games' Games Manager Philip Smith says, "While we have no connection to the Odin's Ravens Kickstarter, the simple fact is that a lot of people who supported the game had been stung. Right from the start of our discussions, we knew that we wanted to do the right thing by those backers, and I am very pleased to be able to say that we are going to be offering a free copy of the game to anyone who backed the Kickstarter. Regrettably, we do have to charge shipping, but we're delighted the backers can finally get the game they deserve."

Osprey's Joseph McCullough adds, "We felt that by taking on the game, we took on a bit of the responsibility of its history." Osprey plans to announce how backers can receive their copy closer to the game's February 2016 release date.

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Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:30 pm
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Gen Con 2015 XV: Asmadi Games — Mottainai, Meow, Adorable Pandaring, One Deck Dungeon, The Phoenix Syndicate, Consequential & Innovation

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• Carl Chudyk's Mottainai from Asmadi Games debuted at Gen Con 2015, and this involved card game is a successor (in gameplay terms) to Chudyk's Glory to Rome, with cards moving from one gameplay zone to another, changing their role in the game in the process.





• About as far as you can get from Mottainai in terms of complexity is Meow, a party game from Alanna Cervenak and Asmadi owner Chris Cieslik that challenges you to question whether or not other people are cats.





Adorable Pandaring is another simple design from Cieslik and Asmadi Games, with players trying to get pandas into play that match the current law of adorableness so that they can score bamboo.





• And now we get to the preview section of this Asmadi Games-centered post, starting with an overview of Cieslik's roguelike card game One Deck Dungeon.





• Cieslik's Consequential has been in the works a long time, as Brad Cummings notes in this overview, and here we are again for another look at how the game works.

This digital/analog combination won't be to everyone's tastes, just as XCOM: The Board Game turned off some due to the required app, but I don't fault designers and publishers for taking whatever approaches seem best to them for the material in hand. I might not like their choices, mind you, but my money's not at risk on their publication and they know what they're trying to do better than I do, so I'll see what emerges from the vat, then evaluate things from there.





The Phoenix Syndicate from Rebecca and Ted Vessenes is another Asmadi project that's been in the works for a while, but in case you've missed it before, you can learn something about this network-building, contract-fulfilling game now.





• Finally, we close with another Chudyk design — the deluxe edition of the greatest game of all time, as judged by me, Innovation. This new edition of the game will include two new expansions while incorporating a graphic design overhaul to make the cards easier to read and use during play. Stoked!

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Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:00 am
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Spiel 2015 Preview: The Bloody Inn, or Know Where the Bodies Are Buried

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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



Prepublication copy shown at Gen Con 2015 during a press event


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

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

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

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

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Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:08 pm
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