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Origins Game Fair 2016 — Part 2

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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[Ed. note: Head here for the first half of Mary Prasad's report from the 2016 Origins Game Fair. —WEM]

Food!

As usual, many trips were made to the North Market. Hot Chicken Takeover was as good this year as I remember from last. The chicken is always hot and fresh. They actually can sell out early (on a chalkboard they have a countdown for number of chicken pieces left) and there is usually a line, but it's worth the wait. I wasn't impressed with my Katzinger's Little Deli Ruben sandwich – too pricey for the little meat/too much bread I received. Market & Boar (Holy Smoke BBQ) has awesome BBQ. I can't resist their Loaded Barrel Chips. From memory (admittedly not my best feature), it has Barrel chips (seasoned, made potato chips), choice of smoked meat (I got pulled pork this time), cheese sauce, jalapeños, tomatoes, and chipotle sour cream! OH YUM! I ended with a double delectable treat: a trip to Taste of Belgium for a waffle to go, on which I put a couple scoops of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Heaven! (I had to split with a friend so that I wouldn't burst.)

This is becoming an annual tradition as well – a trip or two to Moy's Chinese restaurant for some fresh, delicious food. The R&R guys (who are also foodies) introduced me to this wonderful establishment. Afterwards we stopped at Buckeye Donuts, right next door, where we had cronuts. The memory of it is making my mouth water; it was so freaking good!


Dinner at Moy's with (far left) Dan and Frank DiLorenzo, R&R Games, and (far right) Ken Hill and my husband, Snoozefest


Another fairly new favorite is Aab (introduced to us by Ken Hill, CABS and Rio Grande Games rep.). It's a little bit of a hike from the Columbus Convention Center, but they have excellent Indian food and it's right down the street from another Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams location!! I like to walk over from Aab to help burn off some of the guilt.

The Dice Tower Live

The Dice Tower podcast did a live taping at Origins. About 250 people showed up for the event. As somewhat typical at these events, a "gameshow" was held with funny and/or game related questions (and sometimes funny answers) where select audience members were able to win prizes for participating.


The Dice Tower Live, Origins Show


Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers Part 2

Hill's Wholesale Gaming

They're back! After a four-year hiatus, Hill's is finally back selling many, many TCG and CCGs (among other things)! Unfortunately I bought two boxes I really didn't need (but WANTED!), and yet again I was stopped at airport security for having those dangerous foil cards.


Nathan Hill (R), Hill's Wholesale Gaming


North Star Games

Happy Salmon released in April, 2016. It's a fast-paced game for 3-6 players (with two decks you can play up to 12), which plays in about a minute. Each player starts with a deck of 12 cards held face up in their hands. The idea is to find a person with the matching card by shouting out the name of the action on the card. For example: fist bump and high five are two of the actions. Once this person has been found you both perform the action to discard the card, revealing the next card. The goal is to get rid of all your cards.

Evolution: the Beginning, releasing in August, is a standalone card game (i.e., it is not playable with the base game). This is a simplified (i.e. lighter, faster — about 30 mins) version of Evolution for family and casual gamers. It will be a Target store exclusive.

Fun Fact: Evolution was originally designed by Russian biologists to teach kids about evolution. (The original game was named Evolution: Origin of the Species.) The artwork for the game was done by Catherine Hamilton, a high-school friend of North Star founder Dominic Crapuchettes.

Tasty Minstrel Games

Guilds of London pre-release at Origins, to be released in August. They had one hundred copies available, which sold out in sixteen minutes. This is a card driven area majority game.

Orléans: Invasion will release in August/September. This is a modular expansion to Orléans with several scenarios that enhance the game.

Fun Fact: In Guilds of London, three of the coat of arms are actual historical representations of the real Guilds of London crests; you may see them on the shields on the tiles.




Arcane Wonders

Royals pre-relased at Origins, will release at the end of August. The art was updated for the U.S. market to give it a more medieval English look and add more vivid color. The distribution of cards was also slightly revised. The city in Britain now has two nobles instead of one.


Tony Gullotti, Arcane Wonders


Speechless will be a Gen Con pre-release, to be released soon after, and is designed Mike Elliott (designer of Quarriors, Dice Masters, etc.). This is his first party game and the fourth in the Dice Tower Essentials Line. Talking is not permitted during the game. Players take turns being the "presenter". The presenter has 90 seconds to act out six words (three cards with two words each), trying to get the other players to correctly guess each word. While the presenter is acting out the words, the other players are watching and trying to guess which word is being acted out. If they think they know the word, they write it down on their dry erase marker board. Players score up to 2 points for each correct answer: one person guessing the wrong answer scores 0, multiple people guessing the same wrong answer each get one point. The presenter gets the highest score in correctly guessed words that round. The game is for 3-8 players with two rounds for three players, or once around for four or more.

Fun Fact: Arcane Wonders sent the artist for Royals, Jason Engle, a photo of Kevin Burkhardsmeier (podcaster, Board Game Theatre) as a model, because he does cosplay as a king.


Kevin Burkhardsmeier was used as the model for the King in Royals


Calliope Games

Hive Mind, by Richard Garfield, will release in September. Each turn all players secretly answer a question, then answers are revealed. Players get one point for each answer plus one point for each answer matching another player. A die is rolled to determine how many people will move down the hive (printed on game board) for having the lowest score. Sometimes one player may also move up for having the highest score. There is a catch-up mechanism for players reaching the lower levels; a player can remove a barrier rather than moving down. Any players kicked out of the hive lose, then everyone else wins.

Running with the Bulls, by Paul Peterson, releases in September. Each player gets six runner dice at the top of the board. There are six bulls, also across the top of the board. Players try to get their runners to one of the destination cards at the bottom of the board (sort of like a Plinko, disk drop, game). Players get a hand of five cards per round to help them move to the bottom, four of which will be played. There are three (scoring) rounds to the game.

Fun Fact: Board artwork for Running with the Bulls includes Chris Leder, "Director of Fun" at Calliope Games (bottom right), above him and the big red die is the President of Calliope, Ray Wehrs (right), and Paul Peterson, designer (left). Artwork was done by Mike Bocianowski who signed his name on the toilet paper on Chris' foot. There are some puns/Easter eggs about bulls all over the board (e.g., bulldozer, bull horn).




Formal Ferret Games

The Networks released at Origins (U.S. debut). This is a tableau-building game using card drafting. Players each run a network. The goal of the game is to get the most viewers by developing shows, signing stars, and landing ads.

An expansion to The Networks is planned for 2017. Currently they plan on offering a modified set-up, new shows and stars set in the 1980s and 1990s, and individual player powers based on their network.

Fun Fact: Gil Hova, owner of Formal Ferret Games, has owned various ferrets for over the course of twenty years: seven in total so far, usually with two at a time.

Japanime Games

Naruto Shippuden: the Board Game released June 2016. This is a cooperative board game in which players are trying to stop a network of evil ninjas from taking over the world. Characters and locations are from the show Naruto Shippuden. Each player has their own character with powers, etc. as well as a specialized deck. Highly thematic.

Heart of Crown will be released in September. This is a deck-building card game in which players each take on the role of "campaign manager" for their princesses. Their job is to get their princess elected to the throne by using military tactics, bribery, and witchcraft. The game is split into two eras. During the first era players accumulate wealth in order to back a princess. Once they have a princess, money is not as important; succession points become important for the second era and winning the game.

Fun Fact: The art of Heart of Crown was done by Yuji Himukai, the same artist for the video game Etrian Odyssey.

Brotherwise Games

The Boss Monster: Paper & Pixels mini-expansion released in June 2016. (It was previously only available as a retailer incentive.) This is an expansion for the Boss Monster games (playable with both one or two). It has three new bosses, four new rooms, and one new spell.

The Boss Monster: Crash Landing mini expansion extends the base game, normally for 2-4 players, to 5-6 players. It introduces a new hero class as well as a new related treasure type. For the first time, this will add a sci-fi theme, with aliens landing in the fantasy world of Boss Monster.

Fun Fact: Almost every card in Boss Monster includes an "Easter egg" that parodies classic video games, fantasy and sci fi movies, and fantasy literature.


Fans of classic fantasy/sic-fi movies may recognize this iconic device, guaranteed to leave heroes "mostly dead"


Passport Game Studios

Salem was released at Origins. This is a social deduction game in which you play a family during the Salem witch trials. Three of the members are witches in each family. You are trying to determine who are the witches in the other families while being more accurate in your accusations than the other players. The game sold out at Origins.

Quartz was shown at Origins and will be released at Gen Con. This is a push-your-luck game in which you are a dwarf trying to create the most lucrative mine. As you are mining, you might turn up obsidian, which will make you crash, causing you to lose all the gems you just mined and knocking you out of the round.

Fun fact: In the game Salem, all the family members are historically accurate. A lot of research went into creating the game.

L4 Studios

Information provided by Keith Blume, President, L4 Studios.

WarQuest, co-published with Mr. B Games, was pre-released at Origins. WarQuest was designed by Glenn Drover (Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery, Railways of the World, among others) and developed by the same team behind Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery.

In WarQuest, you take on the role of a warlord; your goal is to reunite a fractured land. Achieve this goal by quest, conquest, and combat! The game is card driven — Quests and Conquests are cards in your hand, and every time you complete one, you get a new card — with variable start locations, hidden endgame victory conditions, and awesome miniatures for your armies (it does have war in the title after all) so each game will unfold with a different story. The world of WarQuest (Myrathia) also has a novel from Don Beyer (Swords of Mercy).

For Q4 Mr. B Games and L4 Studios plan to release the 30th anniversary edition of Liar's Dice. This will be in the mode of the classic Milton Bradley version (six players, with the star replacing the "1"). They are playing around with the cover (below), but this is one of the styles they're considering, with them probably doing some kind of polling on BGG or another media vehicle to get consumer feedback.




Fun Fact: Keith Blume: "My family and I played the Milton Bradley version of Liar's Dice non-stop at our family reunion 28 (or so) years ago and it has remained a family favorite. Thus getting to print the game is a full-circle dream come true."

Queen Games

Mighty Monsters will release in August. Players assume the roles of Trolls, Undead, Aquatic animals, Demons, Insects and Dragons with only one thing on their mind: the Gold in King Edgar's treasury. You have to cooperate to overcome the pesky guards, but the real monster in you still wants a bigger share than your fellow monsters! Have the most gold by the end to win in this fast paced monstrous card game.

World Monuments will release in August. In this game you and your fellow players choose one of four buildings and start constructing it from the ground up: the Capitol in Washington, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, San Pietro's Basilica in Rome, or the Taj Mahal in Agra. Once building has completed, only the most talented master builder among the players who gained the most points will win the game.

Fun Fact: World Monuments already has two more monuments in production. These will be offered only as Queenies (promos) at conventions and at the BoardGameGeek Store, early next year.


Chris Landon, Meeple Source, with prankster Dan DiLorenzo, R&R Games, behind him


IDW Games

The Godfather: A New Don releases in August. This is an area-control game in which players take control of one of the six crime families from The Godfather (books/movies). Players battle over the boroughs of 1950s NY. They claim territories by turning in sets of dice.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past releases in August. This is a scenario-driven campaign game featuring story content from the IDW TMNT comic. Players may take on the role of their favorite turtle or the ultimate villain Shredder through a series of 60-90 minute missions in which they develop their characters' strengths, fighting styles, and equipment creating a story arc. Favorite characters (e.g. Casey Jones, Alopex) appear throughout the missions as the Turtles call on their allies to help battle their deadliest foes.

Fun Fact: There is a secret Easter egg in The X-Files that no one has been able to figure out. Nate Murray, Product Manager for IDW Games, offers a bounty of any free IDW game if you can determine what it is.

Academy Games

Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is the next standalone game in the Conflict of Heroes series. It includes the U.S. army expansion and incorporates the Japanese Bushido code ("saving face").

879: Viking Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in July, released planned in October. This is a standalone game, next in the series with 1775 Rebellion. It will be an all miniatures historical game.

Fun Fact: Collaboration can be tricky sometimes. Academy Games' French partners complained that Academy Games was as overly picky as Germans, but as pushy as Americans (the worst of both worlds).

Renegade Game Studios

Brick Party released July 6th. In the game, teams of two work together to build a pattern on a card (worth 5 to 8 points, varying appropriately in difficulty) with interlocking blocks. The cards depict a silhouette of what will be built. One person is communicating what to build while the other player builds it. Each round there is a rule card making it more difficult to either communicate or build (e.g., no thumbs may be used this round, eyes closed, no talking, etc.). The first team finished gets extra points, then the other teams will have only 30 seconds more to complete building in order to score points. Teams get to decide which card to build after the rule card has been revealed. When a new round starts, there will be new partners, a new rule, and new shapes. Play continues until one player meets a point goal.

Covert will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released in August. This is a tactical game of dice placement and set collection in which players try to complete a designated number of mission cards. The first person to do so is the winner. Players roll a hand of dice each round and may use them in different ways, for example they may be used to select an action by playing in an action area in one of six spaces. A player may use any space if no one has yet played there otherwise the player must play numerically adjacent to another die. A player may use one die to help crack a code to try to match a code behind their player screen. A player also gets to swap two tiles of the code during the code-cracking phase. If a player matches their code, they get a resource and another code. Actions include things like moving on the board, getting more resources, and collecting mission cards.




Fun Fact: Kane Klenko, the designer of FUSE, loves to sneak little hints about his wife Carrie into his rules, including an image of her in the back of the Fuse rulebook: Carrie as the ship's computer in FUSE (hologram).




Wyrd Games

Darkness Comes Rattling was released September/October 2015. This is their first board game in a couple of years; they are mostly a miniatures company. In the game there is a spirit snake called Darkness who is jealous of the sun, so he swallows it, plunging fantasy world Tallil into darkness. This is a cooperative game in which 2-6 players play warriors from the tribes of man attempting to save the sun. Players travel to different regions of Tallil to find items and spirit weapons needed to defeat Darkness.

Fun Fact: When Through the Breach was developed, the lead designer immortalized one of the playtesters, Aaron Darland, as a non-player character (named Aaron Darlin!). His character is known as the mecha-tyrant of Virginia who burns down Richmond. Flash forward to today, Aaron now works for Wyrd Games on the design team; players sometimes think he wrote himself into the game.


Aaron Darland passage from Through the Breach


Custom Tables for Board Gaming

There were a couple of companies selling board game tables. Boardgametables.com has custom made to order tables; choose from five types of wood and six styles of table. Add-ons include card holders, cup holders, drawers, toppers. Carolina Game Tables had three tables in the Mayfair Games play area so that people could try out one of their tables while playing a game.


Carolina Game Tables, carolinagametables.com


WizKids

Information provided by Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager.

Star Trek: Frontiers released on June 29. Designed by Andrew Parks, Star Trek: Frontiers puts a new spin on the bestselling board game, Mage Knight by Vlaada Chvátil. Command your ship, recruit new crew members, earn experience points, and use your skills to confront the challenges of the Star Trek Universe. Explore and face a variety of challenges on a randomly built Space Map using the Venture Tile System, first introduced in Mage Knight. The game is for 1-4 players with multiple competitive, cooperative and solo scenarios. Work together to defeat hostile ships or compete to explore and uncover hidden mysteries. Players will need to overcome obstacles to expand their knowledge and use their leadership in order to win.




Blank White Dice, designed by Jonathan Leistiko, is a thrilling new take on dice games. Roll the game dice to activate the icons on the dice, and gain enough points to win the game! But that's not all because if a player rolls a blank face, they need to get creative and show their artistic skills by drawing their own icons on the faces of their dice! Some icons will give players points, others may cause opponents to lose points, force competitors to re-roll, and much more! The first player to reach 13 points at the end of a round wins the game. Planned for a SPIEL 2016 release.

Fun Fact: Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager: "WizKids held both the 2016 U.S. National and World Championships for HeroClix, Dice Masters, and Attack Wing at Origins Game Fair. For the first time, WizKids gave a Fan Appreciation Presentation at the event. Attendance was so high that we had to change rooms, cut the presentation shorter, and run two sessions!"

Cryptozoic Entertainment

Mad Science Foundation pre-released at Origins, to be released in July/August. Each player is a mad scientist trying to build inventions to gain infamy (points). This is a card-driven game in which, each round, one player splits a number of cards into piles equal to the number of players, then the other players choose which pile they would like with the dividing player going last. Cards include resources and inventions. Inventions must be constructed using resources before points are gained. Minions are also in the resource deck; certain advantages may be gained by controlling a minion. Players also have a hidden goal card. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Attack on Titan Deck-Building Game is planned for September/October release. The game theme came from the Attack on Titan popular anime and manga series about monstrous Titans.
This fully cooperative game is based on the "Cerberus game system" but with added movement. Players are heroes trying to defeat all Titans in the deck before they destroy the wall that protects civilization (which is representated by five tokens in the middle of the table). There is a board with ten spaces and a wall in the middle, with player heroes moving from space to space. The location of your hero in the game area matters. If you are on a titan space (outside the wall), there will be a fight.

Fun Facts: Dekan Wheeler, Manager of Marketing: "We actually found the designers (Sharang Biswas, Max Seidman) at Gen Con 2015's developer speed-dating event. We loved their game Mad Science Foundation so much we decided to publish it. The Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game is built using our Cerberus engine, but is the first of our deck-builders to be designed with co-operative play from the ground up."




Jasco Games

Mega Man: Battle for Power is planned to be released in August. This is a Universal Fighting System (UFS) CCG, compatible with some of their other titles such as Darkstalkers and forthcoming Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Cowboy Bebop. The game features the character Bass.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game has a planned release for October. This is a cooperative horror game for 1-6 players. The goal of the game is to try to keep the Hell Mouth from opening and consuming the city of Sunnydale. Players try to protect the townies from various dangers (e.g. vampires, zombies, etc.) and defeat the monsters of the week (there are thee random mosters of the week in each game) to collect various clues to beat the big bad (boss).




Fun Fact: Jason Hawronsky, founder and CEO of Jasco Games, started in the boardgaming industry when he was really young. He owned a 3,000 sq. ft. retail game store in the Dallas Metroplex when he was 13. (Although he did all the management — working store hours around school hours — he had help from his parents until he could legally take over); he ran it for 11 years. He started publishing in January 2010 at the age of 24.

Capstone Games

Arkwright released at Origins. This is a heavy economic game with action selection and a stock market. Players produce and sell goods, build factories and machines, hire workers, etc.

Haspelknecht: The Story of Early Coal Mining will release in September. This is a mediumweight action selection game about discovering coal in 16th century Germany. Players extract coal and obtain unique developments (e.g., to more efficiently extract the coal). This will be part one of a trilogy of games spanning centuries. The complexity will increase across releases.

Fun Fact: It took three months to update and enhance the English version of the three rulebooks in Arkwright.

Cool Mini Or Not (CMON)

The Grizzled: At Your Orders! pre-released at Origins, released at the end of June. It adds a solo play mode (not in the original game), a new two-player mode, new missions that replace the original game's set-up difficulty level, character cutouts to help visualize who's on the mission, and Final Assault/Last Stand card (for desperation moves).

Potion Explosion will have an early release at Gen Con, to be released September/October. Player are student wizards and witches learning to brew potions. Each has two potions they are working on at a time. There is an ingredient dispenser, consisting of marbles in vertical lanes in a slightly sloped cardboard holder (so the marbles will slide together), from which players take one marble on their turn. This may trigger a "potion explosion" if two marbles of the same color connect, possibly causing a chain reaction. The player may take all marbles of the same color that touched to form the explosion. Potions are cardboard pieces with holes on which marbles may be placed, color coded for the potion. Once complete, potions may be "drunk" (turned upside down) to provide a one-time special ability. Potions are worth points. Players may gain skill tokens (also worth points) by collecting three of one type of potion or one of each potion (5 total). The game ends when the skill tokens are gone. The player with most points is the winner.

Fun Fact: Designer Eric Lang is obsessed with pandas. He tries to work a panda into each of his games: cover art, character in the game, etc. He even tried to sneak one into the Blood Rage rulebook, but editing found out and removed it before the final print.


Designer Eric Lang, obsessed with pandas


Smirk & Dagger Games

Dead Last pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is a party "social collusion game" that will appeal to gamers who enjoy casual games and social deduction games, although there are no hidden roles or traitors. Each player has a color identity, shown on a card displayed in a stand in front of them, as well as a hand of cards which includes every player color including their own as an "ambush" card (used if they suspect they will be a target). Targeted players are eliminated (unless they played an ambush card). Also, all players except those in the largest voting group will be eliminated. This forces players to form alliances... although you won't know if they are being truthful. Anything goes as far as communication, including glances, nods, pointing, flashing a card, etc. — just try not to tip off the target. The last player standing receives four gold bars with points ranging from 3 to 5 points. The game ends when one player gets to 24 points. The trick is trying to get others to vote with you without alerting the target. If there are two players left, there is a "final showdown".

J'accuse will be released at Gen Con. This is a blind-voting card game. Like a reverse version of Clue, all players conspired to kill the old miser. Each are trying to pass off the evidence onto the other players. In the end, there will be one loser and a table full of winners who got away with murder.

Fun Fact: Curt Covert, Smirk & Dagger Games: "Cutthroat Caverns was inspired by the transition from my high school D&D group (me and six women) who played very Lawful Good characters to my college group (all guys) who were anything but. I was horrified when I realized the other characters I was traveling with were far more dangerous than anything the DM could throw at me. That feeling of shock and horror was the feeling I wanted to be pervasive in Cutthroat."

Ninja Division Publishing

12 Realms released in June. This is a game in which players are adventurers trying to accumulate land, gain fame, etc. through questing, purchasing.

Raid & Trade will be released July. This is a post apocalyptic modular board game of negotiation and resource management. From the ashes of a third World War, a few golden cities emerge offering hope to those who struggle for survival in the wastelands. Using action points and a player specific skill, players explore the ruins of the modern world completing quests, honing their skills, and maneuvering for social status in order to claim a spot as a citizen in a Golden City.

The Broken Token

This company makes game boxes, inserts/organizers, and some game pieces. Their newest release, launched during Origins, the Biohazard Containment Unit for Pandemic is a custom box to replace the original box; it holds sleeved cards, the base game, plus all the expansions. See photo below. An "in box" organizer for Codenames will be released at Gen Con. A custom box for Splendor will be available after Gen Con.


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Origins Game Fair 2016 — Part 1

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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The Origins Game Fair was held June 15-19, 2016, in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio. (They finally moved it to a more appealing date! Yay!) The next convention will be held June 14-18, 2017. The Origins Game Fair began in 1975 and is run by the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

This year the registration line was extremely long — longer than I have ever seen it in previous years. Part of this was due to a Microsoft security update that was pushed through Tuesday night, causing some time to be lost Wednesday morning. The other reason was due to increased numbers. In 2016, 9,514 people had registered on Wednesday by noon (compared to 7,634 in the same time period the previous year). Origins had added 20% more people to the registration stations this year, so the delay wasn't as bad as it could have been. John Ward, Executive Director of GAMA, noted that the average wait time was about an hour.


This shows about a third of the line


Attendance was up from 2015 (the numbers they gave me from last year were revised):

• 2014: 11,424 unique badges
• 2015: 12,912 unique badges (43,791 turnstile)
• 2016: 15,480 unique badges (52,561 turnstile) or 19.8% above last year's attendance

This year’s prices:

• Full Show Badge: Pre Reg $55, Onsite $65
• One-Day Badge: Pre Reg $20, Onsite $25 (up $5 from last year)
• Family Day passes were available only for Sunday, June 19, for a family of up to two adults and four children (under 18) with limited access: $20 (up $5 from last year)

Origins and Families

Origins is a family-friendly event. Children 9 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. A child's badge allows entry to Origins for all five days of the show. The back of the child's badge includes a place for parents to include their badge ID number and contact phone number at the show.

There were two new options for kids this year: the Origins Family Room and CritterCare. The Origins Family Room is for parents who want to spend time gaming with their children. Free games were provided by Pokemon, Breaking Games, and Origins. Video games, provided by Final Boss Gaming, cost two generic tickets per hour (generics cost $2 each) unless you had purchased an Electronic Game Room ribbon, which allowed unlimited play.

CritterCare is a place where parents could register their children for kid-friendly fun. Brought to you by KiddieCorp, CritterCare is Origins' new and improved childcare room. Children ages 5-12 could participate in tabletop games, card games, and crafts. Books and toys were also available. Origins offsets the cost of CritterCare at a reduced rate of two generics per hour, per child. Parents' contact information as well as their intended location at the convention is required for check-in. Children are required to stay in CritterCare until their parent or guardian comes to sign them out.

Check out the Family page on the Origins website for hours and information.

By the way, if you have children (or even if you don't!), be sure to check out HABA games (see below, in the Exhibit Hall section). Their games are as much fun for adults as they are for children – and the components are usually super high quality.

Fun Fact: At The Gathering of Friends, I caught Phil Walker-Harding, designer of Imhotep, wearing the same sweater (in Australia they say "jumper") as he did for his designer photo in the rules for Imhotep. He claims he really does change his sweaters/clothes! See Thames & Kosmos later in the article for more information on his game.


Phil Walker-Harding, owner of multiple jumpers


CABS Board Room

Board Room Ribbons were again $20. This year they sold out — 1,600 ribbons! The library received 118+ new games, making the library about one thousand games. (The entire CABS library is brought to the convention, minus some kids games.) There were 592 unique games checked out from the library. Here are the top 20 checkouts (number of checkouts listed after name of game):

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 37
Splendor 36
New York 1901 35
Codenames 35
Imhotep 32
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game 30
7 Wonders: Duel 29
Royals 28
The Networks 25
Quadropolis 24
World's Fair 1893 23
Valeria: Card Kingdoms 20
Animals On Board 19
51st State: Master Set 19
The Game: Are you ready to play The Game? 18
Odin's Ravens 18
Automobiles 18
Kitty Paw 18
Roll for the Galaxy 17

Fun Fact: Likely the only reason Tichu isn't right there at the top of the list is because real Tichu players bring their own decks!

Thanks to CABS member Ken Hill for providing the above information.

Origins Award Winners 2016

The Origins awards were held Saturday, June 18. The board gaming related category winners are below.

Game of the Year
Codenames (Czech Games Edition) Designed by Vlaada Chvátil

Best Board Game
Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games) Designed by Justin Kemppainen, Corey Konieczka, Jonathan Ying
Fan Favorite: Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Best Card Game
7 Wonders: Duel (Repos Productions) Designed by Antoine Bauza , Bruno Cathala
Fan Favorite: 7 Wonders: Duel

Best Family Game
Codenames (Czech Games Edition) Designed by Vlaada Chvatil
Fan Favorite: Codenames

Best Collectible Game
DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light (WizKids) Designed by Mike Elliott, Eric M. Lang
Fan Favorite: DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light

Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers Part 1

Exhibit Hall hours for attendees were: Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Here is your list for Gen Con shopping!!

Rio Grande Games

Tiffin was released at Origins. This game is about the Indian lunch delivery service, most commonly found in Mumbai. As a service, bicyclists, called dabbawallas, pick up and deliver hot lunches to workers, usually with help from the train system. Typically the pick up is from the worker’s own residence, although some use a meal supplier. There is a really nice movie titled The Lunchbox (available on Netflix) whose story revolves around this very thing. Tiffin is a somewhat light, area majority game that has a bit of luck and strategy. Players use cards to place cubes on tiffin tiles: first as lunch tin(s) — up to 3 — then to fill up the "route" (a block of squares, varying in size for shorter or longer routes). Each player starts with one card for a short cut (makes a route 2 squares shorter) and a flat tire (makes a route 2 squares longer), which may be played during their turn in addition to their action (then it's discarded). Actions are basically taking cards or placing cubes.

Dominion: Empires was just released. It adds a lot of new mechanisms, including split piles for kingdom cards of two different cards; debt tokens that allow players to buy cards with debt, which must be paid off before they can buy another card; more events (first introduced in Adventures); and landmarks, which work similarly to events but generally give players ways to score points during the game or at the end. One or two landmark cards come out at the beginning of the game and apply to everyone.

Fun Fact: Rael Dornfest, one of the designers of Tiffin, went to Mumbai to hang out with the dabbawallas — the people who deliver lunch boxes (called tiffins). The name of the prototype was "Dabbawalla" but it was later changed to Tiffin.

R&R Games

Swipe Out was pre-released at Origins and will be available in July. Each player has a 5x5 grid board with 25 chips on it. A pattern card will be flipped showing a similar 5x5 grid with dots in some of the squares. Players must match the pattern by quickly removing chips on their boards. There is squeaky duck in middle of the table. The first player to finish will grab the duck to stop play, then the player’s grid board is checked for accuracy. If it is wrong, the other players keep going. The winner gets the card. Play is up to five cards (there are variants for three cards and with teams). Designed by Oswald Greene Jr. – from Grand Theft Auto. Wiki: "Oswald Greene, Jr. is a voice actor, associate producer and a game tester who voiced a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. He also worked as a game tester for Grand Theft Auto III and as an associate producer for Grand Theft Auto Advance."


Dan (L) and Frank (R) DiLorenzo, R&R Games Booth


Shiro is being tested for a future release (likely 2017). Designed by Ben Parmentier. The shogun is dying. Warlords are trying to gain control of the provinces of Japan to cement their claim to become shogun. This is an area majority, worker placement game using cards. Everyone has same deck of cards and a hand, from which a few cards will be selected each turn to put on display. Cards have 2 or 3 slots on which samurai may be played. Players may play their colored samurai on their own cards for free or on another player’s at a cost – with the limit of one samurai per color per card. Players may hire ronin, which are temporary workers for one turn, although they may become permanent workers if they pay a higher cost.

Fun Fact: Many of R&R games have treasure hunts hidden inside them. A couple weeks ago, someone solved the Face Chase hidden hunt and won $150 (grand prize). Other prizes may still be won.

I couldn't resist including this: Time's Up Title Recall is my favorite party game (although I love all Time's Up games). Earlier this year R&R released a Time's Up Limited Edition Expansion Set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of R&R Games! At Origins, four full expansion packs were released for Time's Up: Title Recall. Every Time's Up release has about 30% new cards from the previous edition (currently on the fifth release of Title Recall and 7th release of the original). On a related note: Smarty Party, the newest edition will have 100% new content, Gen Con release.

Thames & Kosmos

Legends of Andor: Journey to the North is an expansion for Legends of Andor that will be available Q4 2016. This cooperative game includes a new story that picks up from the base game, but moves on to another land (it includes a new map region of the north of Andor) with new challenges (legends), and new powers. This time the theme is water-based; for example, it includes storms, ships, and sea monsters.


Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, Thames & Kosmos


Imhotep was on sale for the first time at Origins. Imhotep was an Egyptian, considered by some to be the earliest known architect. In the game, players are Egyptian builders trying to emulate Imhotep by loading boats with stones (wooden pieces) and moving them to five monuments (board locations). Each area allows players to either take cards or participate in building (placing wooden pieces on the board). On a player's turn, they may do one of four actions: take new stones, load their stones on a boat, move a boat to a monument, or play an action card. Timing is key since other players are vying for their own interests. Nominated for the 2016 Spiel des Jahres award.

Fun Fact: Lili DeSisto, Marketing Coordinator: "The crew at Thames & Kosmos regularly has game nights at their offices so that everyone knows the ins and outs of all of our games (also, it's just fun!). Oftentimes these games nights happen after office hours, but one memorable day this spring, we lost power on the same day that we were undergoing some office renovations. With all the noise, we were happy to be forced to unplug, open the windows to let the light in, and have an impromptu game day. Things got pretty heated, though...one thing we've learned is that we've got some competitive gamers on staff!"

CGE - Czech Games Edition

CGE was showing the final prototype of Codenames Pictures at Origins. It will pre-release at Gen Con 2016, with a full release in September. This is a picture version of the award-winning game Codenames. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do. Fun fact: The original Codenames has been published in 17 languages!

CGE was also showing a prototype of Adrenaline, which is being planned for a Spiel 2016 release. This is a Euro-style first-person shooter. Yeah, you heard me right. Euro-style. First-person. Shooter. I played the prototype last year and, I must say, I'm impressed. Somehow they pulled it off. Each player has an area control health bar that tracks damage from other players. When your character dies, whoever did damage will get points accordingly (i.e. most point for first, second most for second, etc.). A marker is put on the highest point value every time your character is killed so the next kill will not be worth as much. There is another area majority for the player who makes the most kills. There is also a resource management component: you need the right type of ammo for the types of weapons you have. Whenever you die, you immediately re-spawn, without losing anything (weapons, ammo). In a nice twist, there is a slight advantage for having damage.

Mayday Games

Quotes by Ryan Bruns, President Mayday Games

Garbage Day released at Origins. "Players take turns stacking garbage cards one at a time onto the overflowing garbage can, or stashing garbage cards in their rooms. But once a player's room gets too full, they must clean it by stacking all the cards from that room on top of the garbage can, very carefully, one by one. If garbage cards fall off the garbage can during your turn, place them in your overflow pile. If your overflow pile gets too big, you're eliminated from the game. If all other players have been eliminated, you win!"

Dungeon Busters was shown at Origins. "Dungeon Busters release is Gen Con 2016: In Dungeon Busters, the players take the role of heroes exploring dungeons and defeating monsters in search of treasures. In order to defeat a monster, every player simultaneously plays a power card face-down then reveals the values. If two or more players play the same value, they are all ignored. If players are defeated the player who played the lowest value should return some treasures as a penalty. If players succeed to defeat the monster, players can divide rewards but the player who played the lowest value will go first."

Fun Fact: Ryan Bruns: "Gen Con 2014, I was late returning from dinner and I had missed most of the designer speed-dating event (where game designers give a six-minute pitch to publishers). I was just going to skip the event since I was very late and I was walking towards the gaming hall. I ran into Seth Jaffee and Andy Van Zandt of Tasty Minstrel Games. They mentioned they were looking for me and said there was a game at the speed-dating event that Mayday Games is going to publish. They proceeded to tell me about Garbage Day and how much I needed to look at it. I went to the room where the event was being held and was introduced to Shane Willis, designer of Garbage Day. After a playthrough and discussion, we signed the game the next day. I love this industry that we all belong to — where publishers see games that would fit with other publishers and recommend them. I love it. Special thanks to TMG."

AEG (Alderac Entertainment Group)

Quotes by Dan Dineen, Major Events Manager, Alderac Entertainment Group

Mystic Vale: "In Mystic Vale, 2-4 players use the innovative Card Crafting System to create and personalize their own cards/decks to create a game experience unlike anything they’ve ever played before. Concise rules offer a deep gaming experience with meaningful decisions, along with tremendous replay value with each game being different from beginning to end." Mystic Vale will be released July 14th for brick-and-mortar stores or August 8th for all other retail outlets.

Guildhall Fantasy: (released June 20th): "In Guildhall: Fantasy, 2-4 players compete to create the perfect party by recruiting adventurers into their guildhall chapters. Collect sets of cards with unique abilities to control the table, and complete a full chapter to claim victory cards. Players do this by drawing cards, making their opponents discard cards, switching cards between their collections and others, or a myriad of other card effects." [Note: There are three listings for Guildhall: Fantasy - Fellowship, Alliance, and Coalition.]

Fun Fact: "Mystic Vale was actually created by its designer, John D. Clair, to teach the Card Crafting System for his game Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness will be released by AEG in 2017!"


AEG Major Events Manager Dan Dineen demoing Mystic Vale to attendees


Q Workshop

This one is a showstopper for me. I just had to get some photos of their beautiful dice! These ladies are super sweet, too. This company is out of Poland, but the website is really well done so there is no problem for English speakers; in fact three of the four choices – selected by currency on the left side of the home page – take you to websites in English but with the specified currency and adjusted shipping prices. Only the last one is in Polish.




They make incredibly beautiful and intricate dice in a variety of themes and games: Steampunk, Celtic, Tech, Elven, Deadlands, Call of Cthulhu, Kingsburg, Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, Shadowrun, Warmachine, and many more. There are really cool metal dice available in several choices, as well as dice towers, dice bags, and dice cups (e.g. Black Elven Leather Cup with stitched lid and bottom and debossed writing). They even have glow-in-the-dark dice!!





Fun Fact: This one is too good to be true: edible dice! OMG! I want the elven dark chocolate dice! Although, they look so yummy I might eat them before ever playing a game with them (probably just as well since they will likely make a mess on my hands/games). The description says: "Elven dark chocolate dice set: This set of dice is made of dark chocolate with a touch of almond and marzipan. Meticulously finished, the edible dice are D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 and D100." YUM!

They also have white chocolate (with a touch of lemon), milk chocolate, red jelly, and blue candy! Check Candylize for more pics and info.

Plaid Hat Games

Dead of Winter: The Long Night was pre-released at Origins, with a planned July/August release. This is a standalone expansion for Dead of Winter, with all new characters, crossroad cards, and three new modules that may be played together or players may pick and choose among them. It's of course compatible with the base game.

SeaFall will pre-release at Gen Con with a general release later in 2016. This is designer Rob Daviau's new "legacy" game. It's a seafaring game of exploration and intrigue, with new things to unlock as you play.

Fun Fact: Artist Fernanda Suarez put several Easter eggs in the new Dead of Winter: The Long Night art. Examples include: the Ashes logo on Elijah's hat, and Emma's backpack has a Charm Die keychain on it.

Catan Studio

Catan Geographies: Tenn-Tucky is planned to be released July/August. This is another scenario for the base game, for 3-6 players. This version has horses as a commodity, producing on 7s in the pastures.

Catan: The Big Game is an infinitely expandable game of Catan. They plan to release this at the beginning of 2017. Bob Carty, Catan Studios: "Catan: The Big Game is a special product designed to allow scalable events to be economically executed by people who want to play Catan. These kits form the core of the materials used in 2013 and 2015 to set world records for the most people playing in the same game at the same time: 922 in 2013 at Gen Con, with that record being broken in 2015 with 1,040 people participating in the event at Essen. A kit contains materials for six players. Three maps accommodate two players each, micro-perfed cards form the resource decks, and development decks. Die-cut cardstock player pieces are provided as opposed to wood. A micro-perfed deck of dice is provided to take the place of dice. Every thing you need for six players and all for $20.00. The rules are nearly the same as regular Catan, with the addition of ships providing players the opportunity to create trade routes up to 30 segments long, and slightly different rules for robbers and knights. No monopoly card. Have more people? Just acquire more kits. Support materials for organizers are available, including a document for organizers, a video for rules instruction, and a timer/turn and Number software exists to assist in running larger events. A new way to play Catan, maybe with one thousand of your closest pals."

Fun Fact: Morgan Dontanville, CCO: "We are building a life-size sheep for photo opportunities at conventions. We are playing around with the color; currently we are debating whether we want it to have blue, green, red wool. Right now it is being carved out of Styrofoam and will end up being a fully-painted fiberglass sheep with a secret hatch in her belly for fun costumes."

Mayfair Games

Costa Rica pre-released at Origins and will be released in July. This is an exploration, set collection, and push-your-luck game. Players explore the rainforest of Costa Rica, looking for animals. There are six explorations starting around a hex tile board with five tiles per side (61 tiles of the 72 available are used per game). Each player has one explorer in each group (pawns in their own color). On a player’s turn they take on the role of expedition leader and may determine which tile to explore next, flipping it. Tiles may have one or two animals on it, and possibly a threat. The leader is first to decide if s/he wants to keep the tile s/he just flipped; if not, the choice moves clockwise to the next explorer. If a player takes tiles, that player also removes their pawn from the exploration. If no one takes the tile, the expedition leader flips another tile, adjacent to the last flipped tile, and can now choose to keep or pass all flipped tiles so far. If one threat is revealed, play continues as normal; if a second threat is revealed, the player’s turn ends and that player must take back their pawn and discard the threat tiles, but may keep any remaining tiles. The more animals collected in one type, the more points the group is worth. Players also gain points for collecting a full set of the six animal types.

Fight for Olympus will be released in July. This is a two-player game co-published with Lookout Games as part of the Lookout two-player line. It's a head-to-head card battle game with six areas of conflict in three different areas of play. One area is a tug-of-war battle with a 7-point swing, i.e. the player who gets to 7 points wins. The second area allows players to win tokens to help pay for cards. The last area allows players to pick up another card at the end of their turn (normally two cards, this bumps it to three). Players play cards on their side of the board, paying costs by discarding cards or tokens, and taking any actions as indicated on the cards, then the cards are evaluated in order. If a card is played across from an opponent's card, it starts a battle. The alternative way to win is to have six cards slots filled at the start of a turn.

Fun Fact: Even though the rights to Catan were sold to Asmodee earlier in 2016, Mayfair continues to manufacture the game and its expansions/extensions for Asmodee. At full speed, more than 1,500 games an hour come off the assembly line in Skokie, Illinois!

Eagle-Gryphon Games

SiXeS pre-released at Origins and is set to release in July. It is a party game for 4 to 40 players. There are six rounds; the game lasts about 20 minutes. There are three types of rounds. For two of the rounds there is a card with a category; players write down one or more words and, depending on the round, they may want to match or not match their opponents' answers. The last type of round is a lightning round. The card has six categories, and players write down one item for each category that must match an opponent's answer.

Vinhos Deluxe is a reprint of Vinhos, with a new box, art, and components.

Fun Fact: Ralph Anderson, who currently works for Eagle-Gryphon and is the designer of Chimera (a Tichu-like three-player game) lost the Tichu game against me and my awesome partner Zev Shlasinger (formerly "Z-Man", now working for WizKids). To be fair, his partner Ken Hill (Rio Grande Games) had to leave partway through the game, so Stephan Brissaud (Iello) took over; he wasn't quite as exprienced at Tichu...


Alex Soued, Eagle-Gryphon Games Booth


IELLO

Schotten Totten: This reprint/reboot is due to be released at Gen Con. There will be new art and will be fit into the mini games series (small white box). The rules will actually be the Battle Line rules.

Oceanos is slotted for a Gen Con release. This is a new Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders) set-collection game with an original drafting mechanism that may be played in 30 minutes. It is set in the ocean. Players build their environments during three rounds of play: one at the ocean surface, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. Submarine customizations may be purchased each round, providing different strategies, e.g. more periscopes allow the player to draft more cards (increase hand size).

Fun Fact: IELLO licensed King of Tokyo to a mask company called Trick or Treat Studios. They already made Kong (the albino monkey in King of NY) and Pumpkin Jack (from the Halloween expansion, pumpkin face with witch hat).


Tom Vasel (L) and Kong (R)


Mr. B Games

Quotes are from Sean Brown, (a.k.a. Mr. B), President of Mr. B Games.

Spurs: Legends pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "The final expansion to the Spurs: A Tale in the Old West system. Spurs: Legends adds two female characters and a bunch of new challenge tokens as well as the introduction of the new Bandit Canyon Mini Game and the Train Heist! Fans of Spurs will find these challenges to be much tougher than previous challenges and will add hours of new content to try out!"

Prospectus pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "In Prospectus, players are apprentice-level mages who earn their tower rent by trading potions in the underground Kriztus potion market. Using their powers, they can peer into their crystal balls to predict prices and make their fortunes. But beware! Their prognostication is not perfect, especially when rival wizards cast spells to advance their own agendas! Meanwhile, the greedy, power-mad High Council demands potions as well. A timely sale will make a recipe fashionable, and raise its price in the market, but if the council does not get what it wants, they will retaliate, by telling the townsfolk that the potion is nothing but fizzwater and newt juice. The mage that is able to earn the most money through cunning investments, shrewd spell-casting, and lucrative sales to the council, will be the most successful potion trader and win the game! Heck, maybe you can even pay off your tab at the Drunken Dragon Inn..."

Fun Fact: "My Fun Fact this time is about Spurs. Originally my niece was going to unveil the first Female Character in a very big way. (She was working on a pilot for HULU set in the world of Spurs!) She has since been accepted to a big film school and that project is on hold, but it was such a cool opportunity for the game. We decided to do the Legends expansion to fill the void of women characters in the game as our last installment of expansions for the game. Never say never though, if my niece ever gets that pilot, it will be hard to stay away..."

Meeple Source

Meeple Source is the place to find awesome high-quality game replacements. If you have a favorite game (or two, or ten), you might want to upgrade the components to these beautiful pieces.


Cynthia Landon, Meeple Source


Blue Orange Games

The Boss pre-released at Origins, to be released July/August. This is a third in series of games orginally published by Blackrock Games (France), brought over to the North American market by Blue Orange. The most popular game in the Blackrock line of games, it's a mafia-themed bluffing and deduction card game.

Vikings on Board will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released August/September. This is the next game in the Blue Orange Games big-box series, which includes New York 1901. This is a familyweight viking-themed worker placement game by Charles Chevallier (Abyss). The game includes 3D ships (fully assembled) and viking minis. You need area majority to control a ship.

Fun Fact: In New York 1901, the artwork is based on historical postcards of real skyscrapers in New York. Additionally the four legendary skyscrapers were, at one time or another, the tallest buildings in the world. Check out these beautifully illustrated and interesting designer's notes by Chénier La Salle.


Vikings on Board


Stronghold Games

Piratoons was released in June. Stephen Buonocore: "Players are trying to build the biggest, baddest, best pirate ship on seven seas." There two major parts of the game. First turning a "chest" of tiles over and, in real time, placing pirate meeples on parts of the ship for an area majority. Players have a minimum of 15 seconds (timer) but they can go until one says stop. Then, after pieces are collected, the remaining pieces either "sink to the bottom" (larger pieces) or are auctioned off in a closed fist blind bid. Players score for sets of pieces, e.g. people, flags, etc. as well as how "pretty" the ship is (i.e. certain pieces are next to each other).

The Dragon & Flagon will be released at Gen Con. Designed by Geoff, Sydney, and Brian Engelstein, the theme is fantasy tavern brawling. You play one of nine fantasy archetypical characters who can throw mugs & chairs (wooden pieces), pull the rug out from under characters (paper rug), swing from chandeliers, cast spells, overturn tables (cardboard), fight with weapons, and roll barrels (wooden)... all in a 3D tavern environment. Players play cards to "program" two turns ahead. Cards contain movement, attacks, and special abilities, which are customized per character. Successful attacks gain reputation points. The player with most points at the end of game is the winner.

Fun Fact: There are at least a dozen Easter eggs hidden on The Dragon & Flagon game board. Examples include some rats looking down at a cat, a cask that has a Stronghold logo, and a wanted sign posted in the tavern, showing a picture of Stephen Buonocore, President (...and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer) Stronghold Games.


The Dragon & Flagon


HABA USA

Space Planets released April 2016. This is a tactical dexterity game in which players roll a large die, hoping to land it on a planet card in a 3x3 grid of cards. Planet cards each have a star point value and may also have a special effect (positive or negative). The game end is triggered when one player has collected five cards; the round is finished and the player with the most star points on their cards is the winner.

Go Cuckoo! is to be released August/September. It's a dexterity game in which players start the game with the same number of cuckoo eggs. The bottom tin of the game forms the base of the bird's nest. Players take turns drawing up to three bamboo-like sticks, with colors on each end that may or may not be the same color. They must stop if the ends match, in which case they try to use it to build the nest. Once placed, the player may try to put one of their eggs in the nest. If the egg falls in the can they must take an egg from the player with the most eggs; if it falls outside the can they take the egg back, in either case their turn ends. If they successfully play their last egg, they get to try to place the cuckoo bird; if they do so successfully they win the game.

Fun Fact: Lea Culliton, HABA USA, has been invited to attend and exhibit HABA games at the upcoming American Library Association (ALA) annual conference to speak to librarians about incorporating games into educational curriculums.


Space Planets


Artana

Artana is selling the "Best Damn Gaming Coins Ever" including seven new sets of coins: two English sets (Anglo-Saxon, Old English Kings) and five Asian sets (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Mongol). They also sell the "Best Damn Gaming Money Ever" including three new sets (US Presidents, SciFi Credits, Fierce Women). All of their monies are interchangeable. These new sets were released at Origins. The cost is $6 per pack of coins, with the jumbo pack including 6 coins, the large 9, medium 12, small 15, and tiny 18.

Corrupted Kingdoms will be a Gen Con release. Players each control a corporation of evil monsters. The objective is to infiltrate the fair senate of the realm in order to pass nonsensical, destructive legislation. The corporation that does this most successfully will be rewarded by their special interests with ridiculous, unnecessary luxury goods that make the destruction of the entire realm well worth it. (Description from Nils Herzmann.)

Fun Fact: Corrupted Kingdoms is a collaboration with a first-time designer, Raymond Chandler III. Raymond has a degree in video game design from Full Sale University.


Nils Herzmann (R), Artana


Naturalist Games

The Lairs Kickstarter launched during Origins; it's slated for a Q4 2016 release. Patrick Roach, Sean Cutler, Zack Brown are the designers. This is a dungeon crawl with mini card games (encounters) in each chamber. For example, a duel may include a short trick-taking game of a couple rounds. It has asymmetric game play. First there is a build phase to find an artifact then becomes asymmetric dungeon crawl.

Fun Fact: All of the illustrations in Lairs were originally designed for a children's picture book about the end of the world. (There is a reason it's now in the board game.)


Sample artwork from Lairs


Stay tuned for Part 2, including food (yeah, I can't believe I didn't put it in Part 1 either!), The Dice Tower, and more!
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BGG.CON 2015 II: Fun Facts and More!

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Welcome to Part 2 of BGG.CON 2015! Be sure to check out Part 1 as well for food, registration/door prizes, hot games, Geek Buzz, and more!



Hack and Slash Games, producers of Ophidian 2350, one of this year's door prizes — see Part 1 for the full list


Let's start out with one of my favorite parts of the convention...

Shopping!

There are several shopping — and selling — opportunities at BGG.CON! Yay!

Math Trade

This is a no-shipping math trade; all trades are to be completed at BGG.CON. If you are unfamiliar with math trades, they are pretty awesome. It's basically trading on a big scale: lots of people and their lots and lots of games. Your old tired games go in and bright shiny new (to you) games come out! What could be better? The process is a bit complicated but nothing the average geek can't handle. For newbies (or those who need a refresher) there is a wiki page plus info available on the math trade thread itself. Everyone who wants to participate adds their games to the big math trade Geeklist, they look over the list and make up a want list, *magic happens* (this is where some algorithm runs to create the actual trades), results are posted, and finally the happy math traders seek the recipients of their games at the convention, each receiving games in return (not necessarily from the same people).

The math trade starts up early, around the beginning of October, with the Geeklist closing at the beginning of November, followed by want lists, then results around the 10th of November. A trade date/time is listed on the BGG.CON schedule but traders are free to locate people earlier during the con. This year's results were down quite a bit from the previous couple years with 520 total trades...still quite a lot! My husband usually participates, but this year he didn't get his act together on time. (Well, we did go on two trips in October plus had a big Halloween party, so he had good excuses.) Hopefully next year!

Virtual Flea Market

The virtual flea market is such a great idea! You can list your to-sell games online, then bring only those that sold to the convention! This is especially helpful for out-of-towners, who have to lug games a long way that possibly may not sell, i.e., at the traditional flea market. You may participate in both the virtual flea market and the math trade but if you do, list them on the math trade first, then once it has concluded add the un-traded games to the virtual flea market. A date/time is on the BGG.CON schedule, but sellers/buyers may meet up beforehand if desired. There is a lot more information on the Virtual Flea Market page.

Flea Market

The flea market is a frenzy of geek selling and buying! Get there early to get the best selection...or later if you don't want as much temptation. I made a few awesome buys, including a copy of the Spiel 2014 limited edition black Lectio (formerly Lexio) for $80 (not so much a "bargain" but a great hard-to-find-at-least-in-the-US addition to my game collection; it's available from South Korea but shipping is costly). This year something went wrong with the cooling system - the room was SO HOT (although that didn't stop me the other throngs from shopping).

BGG Store

BGG had a store set up near the entrance to one of the exhibit halls. Unfortunately for me, there were a lot of games from Asia. I spent almost $300 in that stupid little store! UGH! What are you doing to me?? Such temptation...and on imports that are hard to find in the U.S.! (Note: BGG doesn't make a lot on the games because they are imported.) I'm complaining, but I wouldn't give any of them up. They also had many copies of the giant 2015 Board Game Advent Calendar, which already sold out in the online store. I really wanted one, but it was just too big for the plane (plus my husband rather drew a line after the nearly $300 I already spent). Boo.



Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Mary Dimercurio Prasad
Check out Part 1 for the illustration of me that Debbie drew on my badge — so cute!


BGG Library

As of this writing, there are 5,781 games in the BGG Library. During the convention, there were 10,821 checkouts of 1996 unique games over the course of five days. The average checkout length was 4.1 hours. Note: This doesn't include the Hot Games that were checked out continuously during the entire convention. (Information provided by Scott Alden.) The top ten are listed below but the full list is available.

Qty/Title/Checkout Length (hours)
228 Codenames 3.47
90 Dimension 2.97
70 Between Two Cities 2.83
68 Mysterium 3.61
66 Treasure Hunter 3.01
66 Dr. Eureka 2.34
63 504 6.86
61 Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King 3.38
58 Spyfall 4.67
58 Shakespeare 5.66
...
7 Tichu 4.36 ... WHAT???



The Dice Tower Live!

Fun Fact: (Eric Summerer) 86% of the silly puns at the end of the Dice Tower Podcast are submitted by listeners on the BGG forums. The rest are Eric's fault.

Once again, The Dice Tower did a live recording, but this time as part of Board Game Breakfast's hundredth show! If you want to skip ahead to the good part, I'm at 31:08. During the show, we discuss Chris Handy's Pack O Game by Perplext. The games are the size of a pack of gum — perfect for travel or just to play while waiting for your food at a restaurant.




L to R: June King, Ravindra Prasad, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jeff Ridpath playing some of the Pack O Game titles by Perplext



L to R: Tom Vasel, Mark Zielinski, Mary Dimercurio Prasad discussing Pack O Game


Special Events

There are many special events at BGG.CON. Here are just a few of them. Check out the full schedule for more information.

Battling Tops

This video tells it all...



(I think I'm glad I went to bed early.)

Tichu Tournament

Ack. I missed out. I didn't plan ahead (no partner) plus spent too much time (money) in the exhibit halls. The event is held over two days, a group stage on the first day then a bracket stage on the second. Two days...it might even be too much Tichu for me. (HA!)

Charity Auction

I haven't been to one of these yet but hope to make it one day! There were over a hundred games auctioned off; it looked like a great list! Plus it's for charity, so you can actually feel good about buying more games!

Game Show and Trivia

The Game Show is so popular that they run it twice. Teams of four compete on a massive scale. The "Know Limit Trivia Game" is described as a Poker-Trivia hybrid (no-limit betting). Fifty people play elimination style, betting on their knowledge. Prizes.

Puzzle Room

A new Wild West room premiered this year. They allowed ten players in the room for up to one hour to solve the room's puzzle. Eight time slots; free to attendees.

Puzzle Hunt

Seems to be very popular, but I'm not running around to look for clues. I have enough trouble trying to figure out whatever my husband has done with the clues (i.e. messes) he has left around our house.

And More...

Try out prototypes at Unpub's Proto Alley, enter one of the many tournaments, join in the Spiel-a-Thon trivia charity drive, attend a panel with game industry biggies, meet up with other first-timers, learn how to sell your game design, the list goes on!


L to R: Ravindra Prasad, Tom Lehmann, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jeff Ridpath: giving Tom ideas on his new prototype


Exhibit Hall (Part 2)

Here is a video I shot going through both exhibit halls. This is the first time I used this video camera off the tripod — I didn't realize how much motion blur there would be, but I think you can still see quite a few of the games and stuff pretty well. Plus the music is fun. You may want to read the exhibit hall stuff in both parts before watching as much of what is mentioned is in the video.




Tasty Minstrel Games

Bomb Squad – Recently released. Bomb Squad is a highly thematic cooperative game that builds on the Hanabi mechanism (i.e., you cannot see your own hand of cards) to provide a tense new experience: join the Bomb Squad! Help program a robot to navigate a building, rescue hostages, and defuse bombs in real time. Since you cannot see your hand of Command cards, you'll have to help your partners figure out which cards to play. The game is turn-based, but a timer app counts down in real time... Every ten minutes a bomb will go off unless you diffuse it first! Rescue as many hostages as you can, diffuse the bombs, and save the day!

Colosseum – Deluxe reprint upcoming. Colosseum is a classic game of auctions and set collection in which you'll attract spectators to your events to please the Emperor and earn wealth and glory as you seek the title of Grand Impresario. Watch for the TMG reprint with new art, and the "Emperor's Edition" packed with upgraded components, coming to Kickstarter in early 2016.

Fun Facts: Among the TMG staff, languages spoken include English, Tagalog, German, and Serbo-Croatian. Rumors of foam sword fights in the office have NOT been exaggerated. And finally, the Utah team is looking forward to a company outing to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening day (and Seth is looking forward to joining them on that outing!)


Steve Jackson Games

I Hate Zombies – To be released in February 2016, 2-12 players. This has a rock-paper-scissors game mechanism with a twist that makes for a fun party game. The humans have different powers, e.g., the Miner can throw dynamite, but if a zombie throws anything but scissors, the Miner deals one wound to all zombies; otherwise the Miner is infected.

Munchkin Marvel Edition – To be released April 2016, coproduction with USAopoly. This all-new Munchkin game fuses the classic card game fun of monster-slaying and role-playing with the most iconic characters from the Marvel universe. Munchkin Marvel Edition comes complete with villains (monsters), heroes (allies) and custom S.H.I.E.L.D. Identification Cards.


AEG

Dice City – U.S. release at BGG.CON (released at Spiel). One of the "hot games" at BGG.CON, Dice City allows players to customize their game board by purchasing cards to go in their city, i.e., their grid of cards showing die faces across the top and colors that match the dice down the side. Dice are rolled each turn to determine which actions will trigger. Thus if a four is rolled on the red die, it will be placed in the corresponding row and column, allowing that action to trigger. Default starting cards are printed on each player board. The expansion, Dice City: All That Glitters is scheduled for release April 2016.

Greedy Greedy Goblins – To be released February 2016. Designed by Richard Garfield. Played in rounds, it a real-time game in which players flip tiles with one hand (reminiscent of Galaxy Trucker) and may put them in one of eight mines (cards) around the table. Each player has three goblins in their own player color, which they will place in mine to lock it.

At the end of a round, players collect their mines and start revealing tiles, doing what the tiles dictate, e.g., gems give points, monsters eat gems, minions let you draw cards, torch played face up allows the player to reveal another tile in that mine played face down to not use the effect, or dynamite - tiles have one stick or two sticks: one stick doubles treasure, two sticks triples, three or more blows up the mine. Players may also choose to place a goblin on guild tile to get a card, the tradeoff being that they give up potential mine scoring that round. The first person to 100 (or 60 for four players) points ends game.


Cryptozoic Entertainment

Watchmen: Crossover Pack 4 – Pre-released at BGG.CON, to be released in December. This is an expansion that may be added to any DC deck-building base set. It turns the game on its head, making it a hidden roles game in which one player is a traitor.

Ghostbusters: The Board Game – Premiered at BGG.CON, released November 11, 2015. This is a scenario and campaign driven cooperative game for 1 to 4 players based on the movie. The game includes some cool miniatures, such as Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Characters grow but challenges become greater. Each character has a role to play in the party, e.g., a healer that cleans slime off well, a best runner, etc. Objectives include things like closing gates to prevents spirits from getting out and depositing ghosts in the Ecto-1 to create a buffer between our world and the spirit world. Every scenario has a unique gate effect. There is an online scenario customizer/randomizer. They also have a forum where players can post custom scenarios.

Fun Fact: At their booth, Cryptozoic promoted Ghostbusters: The Board Game with marshmallows. If you beat the scenario, you got one marshmallow; if you didn't you had to eat two.


IELLO

The Big Book of Madness – To be released mid-December 2015. This is a cooperative deck-building game in which players take on the roles of student wizards who find an ancient book in the basement of their magic school and foolishly open it. Instead of really cool spells they find a book of imprisoned monsters. They must reseal the book page by page while avoiding the "creep of madness".

Shadows over Normandie[/i] – Released at BGG.CON. Part of the "heroes system" (Heroes of Normandie is the first game) but in the Achtung! Cthulhu setting (partnered with Modiphius Entertainment). Think WW2 plus Cthulhu and all that comes with it (spells, terror, madness).

Fun Fact: IELLO started as a Magic: The Gathering single card reseller. It was called "CARTAGOGO" which would translate into "CARD-A-PALOOZA." Cedric and Patrice, the founders of IELLO, met at a game store, playing Magic in Nancy, France. IELLO USA is partly a virtual company in the cloud; they basically try out every new app or type of technology possible.


Stronghold Games

Porta Nigra – U.S. premiere at BGG.CON, to be released January 20, 2016. Players are master builders; they move around the board building different sections of the city Porta Nigra. The game includes a rondel action selection mechanism. This is the first game in the "Great Designers Series".

Stronghold 2nd Edition – Release date February 2, 2016. This is a two-player castle defense board game in which one player plays the human defenders in the castle while the other player plays the evil hoards trying to assault the castle. Game mechanisms include card actions (both sides) and random cube draws.

Fun Fact: It took six years of badgering Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games to get Stronghold the board game into the Stronghold Games catalog. It was Stephen's holy grail game.



Wyrmwood Booth, makers of beautiful wood gaming accessories!


Portal Games

Neuroshima: Convoy – This is a two-player standalone asymmetric card game, set in the Neuroshima Hex universe – a post-apocalyptic world in which machines won the war. One player plays the machines and one player plays the humans. The machines have started a convoy traveling to destroy NY. There are five cities along the way. The machines are trying to destroy each, then finally NY for the win, but they cannot advance until they have defeated the humans in each city. The goal of the humans is to delay the machine player until his deck runs out.

My Happy Farm – To be released first quarter 2016. Comparing the new version to the Polish edition: updated the graphics and card layout, revised the rules.

Fun Fact: Eight out of nine people in Portal Games wear glasses and seven out of nine wear beards, "so if a blind dwarf shows up at the door, she's hired".


Terra Nova Games

Far Space Foundry – Released at BGG.CON. Far Space Foundry is a card-driven worker placement game with a rondel element. Space management is important; you want to optimize space in your warehouse and freighters. The unique part of the game is that it plays in two distinct phases. The board and components are double-sided. In the first phase of the game, players are collecting resources and working towards the second phase of the game, which is played on the other side of the board.

Fun Fact: (Justin Schaffer) During the development of Ophir we were making prototypes with some of the final art of the board and the temple pieces, and when I placed the first temple piece on the board, I noticed that part of it spilled off of the board. At first I was really worried and was freaking out because there was no way we could ask or afford our artist to make any changes, but after looking at it closely I discovered that it made the temple pop off of the board and added this very cool 3D effect that has become one of the selling points of the game. (Author's note: To clarify, the stacked temple cardboard pieces are large, part of the temple overhangs the board.)


Ravensburger

Broom Service – Released June 2015, won the Kennerspiel des Jahres. This is a remake of Witch's Brew but with some new features.



Broom Service


The Castles of Burgundy card game is planned to be released second quarter 2016. Game play should be similar to the board game but implemented with cards.

Fun Fact: The 30th anniversary of the game Labyrinth is in 2016. They are planning a Q3 release of a glow-in-the dark version of the game.


Gale Force Nine

WWE Superstar Showdown – Released at Gen Con 2015. This was one of the premium giveaway games at BGG.CON. WWE Superstar Showdown is a very thematic, card-driven miniatures game played on a game board. Each team is trying to pin the other through card tactics. Your deck of cards represents your health/stamina.

Star Trek: Ascendency – To be released Q3 2016, for 3+ players, ages 12+, time to play 2+ hours. The game will be released in time for the 50th anniversary of original Star Trek series. Thematic 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) empire building game set in the Star Trek universe. You represent one of the factions, e.g. Federation, Klingons, Romulans. The Federation has just discovered warp 1 technology. There is no physical board per se; the universe is built/grown as you play and explore. The game contains miniatures, cards, dice; it's a free format game on an epic scale. Expansions planned.

Fun Fact: Gale Force Nice started as a game accessories manufacturer in 1998; it was the first in the industry to use a laser cutter/engraver. They actually bought the first one because the founder's wife wanted to build bird houses.



The Broken Token Booth


Renegade Game Studios

Fuse – Previewed at BGG.CON, release date December 4, 2015. This is a real time cooperative game for 1 to 5 players. The premise: Players are the crew of a spaceship that has been boarded by hostile aliens who have planted bombs throughout the ship. Players must defuse the bombs by solving dice puzzles before ten minutes are up or the ship is destroyed. The game is supported by a free iOS and Adroid app that represents the ship's computer, Anita, which counts down the remaining time using voice cues as well as some random flavor comments.

Apotheca – To be released early 2016, 2-4 players, ages 10+, play time 30-40 minutes. This is a partial hidden information game in which players use apothecary abilities to craft three potions. They do this by hiring apothecaries who give them certain abilities that allow them to manipulate the market board (tiles) in order to create potions (patterns).

Fun Fact: Anita, the ship's computer in Fuse, is named after Renegade Game Studio's vendor liaison to retail stores; the likeness is based on the game designer's wife.


Artana

Chronicles: Origins – On Kickstarter February 2016. This is a new 4X legacy civilization game, designed by Dirk Knemeyer (Tesla vs. Edison) and Rob Daviau (Pandemic Legacy). Artana plans to release at least five games in the series, one a year, to create an entire history of a civilization. From one release to the next, players move from era to era evolving their civilization, with Stone Age and Bronze Age games to be released in Chronicles: Origins.

The goal of the Stone Age game is for players to lead a primitive tribe into the next age (and of course survive). It is semi-cooperative in that if the tribe dies, all players lose. The Bronze Age game is a competitive game in which players fight to become the leading city, using military, technology infrastructure, trade, and culture. The tribes created in the Stone Age seed the cities in the Bronze Age.



Nils Herzmann


Passport Game Studios

Apollo XIII – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released January 2016. It is a historical card-driven cooperative game that recreates the tension and stress of the Apollo XIII mission. All event cards are based on real life events.

...and then we held hands. – To be released January 2016. Previously print-and-play, also published by LudiCreations for Spiel; the U.S. release will be by Passport Game Studios. This is a two-player cooperative abstract strategy game about the players' (in the game) relationship. Players cannot talk to each other and must resolve "emotions" of the relationship (cards) in order to come together at the center of the board while in a balanced state (track).


Game Salute

Skyway Robbery – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released December 2015/January 2016. The goal of the game is to acquire the greatest reputation amongst your fellow thieves. Players put together a team of criminal specialists, a la Ocean's Eleven, and visit exotic locales to steel their greatest treasures. Set in the steampunk world of Gaslight Empire. This is a cutthroat, card-driven, programmable action, set collection game. It's a beautiful production with delightful artwork.

Area 1851 – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released December 2015/January 2016. This is a worker placement, set collection game. Players play tinkerers and local inventors in the old west, combining alien, settler, and native American technologies in order to enhance their own wealth and prestige. The goal of the game is to have the highest reputation gained through collecting cards with matching symbols on the edges in order to create unwieldy ludicrous contraptions.

Fun Fact: Game Salute originally started as a news and review support site for the tabletop game industry. Over time they've grown into a true publisher, with titles created from the ground up, e.g., the games listed above. Game Salute has run more successful Kickstarter campaigns than any other tabletop game company, with the folks from Kickstarter bringing that fact to Game Salute founder Dan Yarrington's attention during a meeting. They have had over one hundred successful campaigns on Kickstarter.



Funagain Games booth


APE Games

Trickerion: Legends of Illusion - Pre-released at BGG.CON, to be released in December 2015. Trickerion is a competitive Euro-style strategy game set in a fictional city inspired by the late 19th century. Players take on the rolls of rival stage illusionists as they strive to become the city’s greatest magician by acquiring the most fame points.

Spirits of the Rice Paddy - Pre-released at BGG.CON, to be released in December 2015. Players compete as rice farmers tending their paddies by using oxen to build walls and remove rocks, ducks to eat harmful pests and fertilize their fields. Weeds must be controlled and water conserved. Produce the most rice to win.

Fun Facts: The art for Arcadia is by Kim Smith, a children's book illustrator at tuckedaway.com. The game came to APE as a fantasy village-building game. They morphed it into a Mars colonization game, then eventually settled on amusement park building. APE's development team worked on Spirits of the Rice Paddy with Philip duBarry for about 2.5 years before considering the game "ready". After playing a Trickerion prototype during the Kickstarter project, APE knew they had to co-publish the game with Mindclash Games.


Closing Ceremonies

The closing ceremonies is when you can actually get an idea of just how big BGG.CON is. This year people came from 44 states and 14 countries. This was the same number of states as last year, but a few more countries were represented.



Crowd during closing ceremonies


The big prize drawings are done during the closing ceremonies; stacks of games, donated by publishers and designers, are given away. Every year one lucky attendee gets to go home with a beautiful, hand-painted Crokinole board. Ryan Johnson, illustrator at Ol' River Studios, did the artwork on this year's board. Check out his BoardGameGeek Art.



Ryan Johnson holding up the Crokinole board with his artwork


In the image below, Kevin Wilson is on left (see Part 1, the section on Fantasy Flight Games, for a card with his image). Of course that's Aldie at the mic. Until next year...



Closing Ceremonies
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BGG.CON 2015 I: Fun Facts and More!

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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BGG.CON was held November 18-22, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport in Texas. The location is super convenient unless you accidentally fly into Love Field Airport (when SOMEONE, cough...snoozefest...cough, makes the wrong flight arrangements).

This year early-bird registration opened in March at $95 per person, with regular registration in April at $120. Attendance this year was about 2,800 (compared to last year's 2,750). This has pretty much maxed out the hotel. There are no plans to expand the convention further, but rather to grow in other ways, e.g., by adding the Spring Con and Cruises.

We weren't able to attend in 2014, so I'm not sure if this is something new: The "_25" room on every floor (e.g., 225, 325) was reserved for board gaming. Along with the quiet gaming rooms and other spaces for gaming, the convention doesn't feel crowded even though there are a lot of people attending. The downside is that you may not run into your friends quite as often, so you may have to make "play dates" in order to get together. Texting was a huge help...except for the couple I got where it listed the phone number but no name. Awkward!



L to R: Tom Lehmann, Ted Alspach, Toni Alspach — Bézier Games Booth


Designer Tom Lehmann was at the Bézier Games booth signing copies of Favor of the Pharaoh. Ted is so tall, his wife Toni has to stand on a chair to match his height. (It also doesn't help that she's rather height challenged.)

A Note About Images...

Once again I decided not to bring my professional camera, instead opting to use the one on my iPhone. This was mainly for convenience since I already lug around a video camera and computer. Ugh. The photographer inside me died a little bit at seeing the above image — and I can't even blame Ted this time! Although this one is probably the worst of the bunch, the lighting in the game rooms and especially in the Exhibit Halls is TERRIBLE. Most images came out too yellow (even after adjusting color), containing both hot spots and overly dark patches. Sigh.

The First Fun Fact!

Fun Fact: (Provided by Jeff Anderson, BGG) "Halfway through the convention (on Friday) we had to go back to my house/hangar to meet a container shipment direct from Essen, containing four pallets of MegaCiv and ten pallets of Advent Calendar (which will soon be available in the Geek Store. The Advent Calendar, not MegaCiv)."
Editor's note: Mary submitted this report on Dec. 2, and the Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 has already been made available through the Geek Store and sold out. Sorry! —WEM




Uber

Last month on a trip to San Diego, my husband and I used Uber for the first time. It is MUCH less expensive than taking taxis. During BGG.CON, we ended up using Uber for almost all our forays to restaurants (and getting to the right airport). Most rides were excellent, definitely better than many taxi rides I've had...with the exception of one ride where the driver must have had one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator, resulting in much lurching throughout the ride (blah!). If you use a friend's link, both of you get a discount on your next ride (like $15). If you don't have Uber friends and want a link (or if you just want to be nice!), PM me or my husband. We'll get one to you!

In the app, you can click on the type of vehicle you would like. For example, we took the Uber XL with five people so we would have extra space. It costs a bit more than the regular Uber but definitely not as much as taking two smaller vehicles.

Registration Check-In

All attendees received several free games! The earlier you were in line, the better your choices, of course. Since I didn't want to wait for hours, we played some games then lined up around 3 p.m. when the wait was only five minutes. Some people camped out all night. Many people brought games to play while in line. Check out the video! There's a quick shot of the prize table games in there, too.




Each attendee received one game from each table. (Most of the lists below came from Evan Dorn's spreadsheet), plus a deck of Ophidian 2350 and a copy of a custom Dragon Master: BGG Convention Promo, published just for BGG.CON.

Table 1
Neuroshima Hex
Wits and Wagers
Monster Derby
Bring Out Yer Dead
Legacy: the Testament of Duke de Crecy
Kings of Artifice
The Club
Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem
Homeland: The Game
WWE Superstar Showdown
Subdivision

Table 2
Dead Drop
Birds on a Wire
Cornucopia
Modern Art: The Card Game
For the Win
Warehouse 51
Tales & Games: Little Red Riding Hood
The Spoils
Ultra Pro Life Counter

Table 3
Neuroshima Convoy
Three Cheers for Master
Bacchus
Schlock Mercenary: Capital Offensive

Table 4
Tic Talk
Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, & Zombies
Munchkin Stocking Stuffers
Munchkin Loot Letter
Yardmaster Express
Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion
Worm Up!
Bad Beets
TacDex: Pirates
Grandpa Beck's Cover Your A$$ets
Grandpa Beck's Golf
Mars Attacks Ten-Minute Takedown
Number Please!
Game of Thrones: Westeros Intrigue
Force of Will

Debbie Ridpath Ohi, writer, illustrator, and all around great gal, was kind enough to draw a little sketch of me on my badge. She also drew one for Henning Kröpke...then bombed my photo (below). Henning was helping to promote 504 in the Stronghold Games booth, representing 2F-Spiele.



Illustration by Debbie Ridpath Ohi



Debbie illustrating Henning Kröpke



Photo Bomb!


Food!

This year we didn't get out as much as in previous years. I didn't even make it to Hard 8 (sigh). I did get to a few places though, including Taco Diner and Babe's. (Mouth is watering just thinking about them!)

We went out to eat with some of the Splotter folk, Jeroen Doumen, Bianca van Duijl, and one of their friends, Ragnar Krempel. The Aldens are foodies (like me!), so I asked Michelle (a.k.a. Mrs. Aldie or simply the "Queen") to recommend something fairly close. She recommended Taco Diner, which happened to be a place they had taken my husband and me (plus others) after one of the conventions a few years ago. I had the special: chicken fried in waffle batter wrapped in a soft corn tortilla with bacon and syrup topping (plus extra syrup on the side). It was interesting... The flavors were good but unfortunately the batter soaked up too much oil, making it very heavy. I couldn't eat much of it. The fresh guacamole and queso blanco dip with brisket were excellent, though (It probably didn't help that I had eaten a lot of the appetizers and loads of chips to start.)

Saturday night I was invited to go to Babe's Chicken Dinner House with some geek buddies. (Thanks Tom McCorry for driving!) This is one of our favorites. We got there around 5:30 p.m., almost peak business time, especially on a weekend. They don't take reservations and won't put you on the wait list unless you are there in person. The wait was going to be 45 minutes to an hour, plus there was a group of 30 ahead of us (ugh!). On top of that, the kitchen was backed up about 40 minutes or so. Part of the reason the food here is so good is because it is made fresh, the trade-off being it can take longer to get your food. We were trying to get back before the 7 p.m. ceremony (raffles!) so we decided to order to-go. We all ordered the chicken fingers, hoping this would simplify things (and they sounded good). Since we had some time, we found a table on which to play Tichu. (The table was outside and a bit cold but it worked.)

When the food was done, we each received a big bag with a large box and smaller bag inside. The small bag had containers with salad and dressing in it, plus honey-mustard dipping sauce for the chicken fingers. The box had 12 to 15 good-sized chicken fingers (!!), along with 8 oz. portions of mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and creamed sweet corn. You definitely needed two hands to get into the box. We hopped in Tom's vehicle and were soon on the road back to BGG.CON.

The food smelled divine, and by now we were all really hungry. None of us could wait to eat. Tom, who had ordered extra biscuits, which came in a separate bag, kindly offered the biscuits to anyone who wanted one, in trade for one once we got back and could break into our boxes. I declined but the others each had one along with Tom. I managed to get a hand in under the box lid to grab a chicken finger. It was sooo good! It didn't need sauce at all. The guy next to me saw me then did the same, followed by the guy in front. Tom, who was driving, was the only one still eating biscuits. Eventually he must have heard us crunching (the car was silent except for the sounds of munching) because he yelled "Are you guys eating the CHICKEN?!" The guy in the front seat had to stop eating to dig out some of Tom's chicken fingers. Heh.

Hot Games!

The Hot Games area in the main board gaming room is where you can play the latest releases. The games in this area included:

504 (one table of 1-2-3 and one table of 1-6-3)
7 Wonders: Duel
Between Two Cities
Blood Rage
The Bloody Inn
CVlizations
Dice City
Favor of the Pharaoh
Food Chain Magnate
The Gallerist
Grand Austria Hotel
Inhabit the Earth
Mombasa
M.U.L.E. The Board Game
My Village
Nippon
Ponzi Scheme
Porta Nigra
Shakespeare
Tail Feathers
Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
T.I.M.E Stories
Trickerion: Legends of Illusion

Geek Buzz

Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. Geek Buzz is a live meter of what's buzzing during the convention. Attendees may "like" as many games as they want. The top ten are listed below (preceded by the number of "likes" as of November 30, 2015) but the full leaderboard is available as well.

121 Codenames
109 Evil Genius: Deathray
52 Mysterium
46 7 Wonders Duel
45 Dimension
43 The Gallerist
42 Conquest At Kismet
40 Mombasa
38 Favor of the Pharaoh
36 Orléans

Exhibit Halls

IndieLand

In one of the exhibit halls there were four booths that would change each day. Mainly these were reserved by small independent game companies. When at BGG.CON, be sure to stop here every day to see what's new.



One of the Indie publishers, Vile Genius Games Inc.


Mayfair Games

Mystery! Motive for Murder – Released at BGG.CON. Mayfair worked with Masterpiece (PBS, out of Boston) to create this game. Edward Gorey did the artwork. Among other things, he's famous for his B&W art in The New Yorker, authoring and illustrating The Gashlycrumb Tinies, illustrating Christmas cards, and illustrating TS Elliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (on which the Broadway show Cats is based). He created promotional artwork for Masterpiece, which was also used in the game.

Mystery! Motive for Murder is not a deduction game. The rulebooks contain several game variations, one of which is an intro game for non-gamers, playable as a full game but more simplified (i.e., a gateway game). The full game rules introduce new elements in layers. It also includes a solo game. In the game, each player is a detective interviewing suspects via tile-laying to try to discover the motive through connections/relationships. Players gain points for interviewing. Usually the most points are gained by interviewing the prime suspect, i.e. for being the "closer". In the full game, players play a generic version of detectives based on PBS mystery series, e.g., Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. Three cases are played. At the end of each case, the murder victim is dead (out of the game) and the prime suspect goes to jail. The player who earns the most motive points wins the game. Bruce Glassco, the game designer, also created Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Grand Austria Hotel – Just released. Produced in conjunction with Lookout Games. Players are hotel owners trying to attract guests. Dice are rolled and placed on action spaces. Players choose an action space and carry it out; the number of dice on the space determines how much the player gets: resources (food for the café), staff for running the hotel, rooms, or money. Customers come into the hotel café looking for certain food, in the form of cubes. Once an order has been filled, the customer can go to a room if one is available; the color of the customer must match the room color. Rooms are in a grid of colored blocks. Fill contiguous blocks of the same color to get money, points, or emperor points (i.e. fame of the hotel to attract the emperor). Best with two or three players.

Fun Fact: The characters pictured in Rickshaw Run (a Catan Geographies Scenario) are real people. They formed a rickshaw team that went across India for charity. Characters from the game and their real life counterparts: The Story Guy/Pete Fenlon, CEO of Mayfair; The Viola Player/Pete's wife Olivia Johnston; The Fixter/Ron Magin; The Jobber/Ron's wife Cathy Doherty; The Instigator/Claus Teuber's son Benjamin. Some of the others are from the KOSMOS game company. The Spark and Puck are good friends of The Instigator. Unfortunately, near the end of the race there was an accident; Ron and Cathy’s rickshaw was hit by a truck; Cathy suffered the worst of the injuries. Fortunately both are doing well now. The overseeing charity Adventurists organized the rickshaw run; Childaid Network was chosen as the partner charity.



Catan Rickshaw Run for Charity



Catan Rickshaw Run Team


Eagle-Gryphon Games

The Gallerist – Released in October 2015. This is a worker placement game in which each player is an owner of an art gallery. Players discover artists, purchase their works, promote the artists to raise their artwork values, sell their works for profit, and promote their artists in the international market – all in an effort to gain prestige and money to win the game.

Loop, Inc. – Released at BGG.CON (along with Dexikon and Fleet Warfside). This is a time-travel game by Scott Almes. You work for a time-travel agency called Loop, Inc. and visit historic events. The game is played in three rounds with three actions per round. The actions are used to obtain materials needed to equip your time-travel ship(s) for the specific time period(s) you want to visit. The game is all about planning – programming each day. Each day repeats, so you use the previous day(s) actions plus three new actions to be able to launch your ship(s) to different time periods.

Fun Fact: The setting of the game Floating Market is based on the floating markets of Thailand.



Mike Fitzgerald holding up Baseball Highlights: 2045 at the Eagle-Gryphon booth


Bézier Games

Terra – Released at Spiel 2015; U.S. release end of November 2015. This is a follow up to the SDJ winner Fauna, both by Friedemann Friese. The main difference between the two is that Terra is general knowledge whereas Fauna is specifically about animals. In Terra, some simplifications were made to the rules, e.g., easier point calculations. The game length is always six cards (English version) and it has both imperial and metric measurements (imperial on one side of the board, metric on the other; both measurements on the cards). There are two difficulty levels vs. four in the non-English version. It also deemphasizes some of the Euro-centric questions (e.g., fewer questions about soccer). Party Game.

One Night Ultimate Vampire – Previewing at BGG.CON, releasing in January 2016. What's new: Everyone gets a "mark of clarity". Different characters may exchange these in the night, for example vampires can turn another player into a vampire; that player still retains their original role ability. There are fourteen new characters, which may be combined with the original One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Now you can have games where werewolves fight vampires fight villagers in a three-way battle.

Fun Fact: Each One Night game has been tested over five hundred times.

CGE

The Prodigals Club – Released at Spiel 2015. This is a modular game with three modules. Players may choose to play with any two, then once familiar with these play with all three. One of the modules is about losing money, a là Last Will – you may even replace the module with the game itself! Another module is about losing connections in high society. The last is about losing elections – i.e., you want to ruin your political career. Players need to focus on each module because the one that performs the worst is going to be the one who scores. There are seven total combinations.

Next year there should be a release for Alchemists that adds another deduction element to the game. CGE also plans to release new cards for Through the Ages.

Fun Fact: After Vlaada Chvátil designed Through the Ages and Galaxy Trucker, he brought Petr Murmak from CGE three co-op prototypes, one sci-fi and two others. Petr asked him to work on one of the non sci-fi prototypes since they had just released Galaxy Trucker – he didn't want people to think of CGE as specifically a sci-fi game company. This was how well he listened: Vlaada came back with only the sci-fi game fleshed out. It became Space Alert.

Mayday Games

Mow Money – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released in December 2015. Mow Money is a card game in which each player owns a landscaping company trying to bid on lawns to mow. Companies each start with a push mower, then invest money to buy newer lawnmowers and bid contracts. The object is to undercut the competition and earn the most reputation points. The game scales well with the number of players (via more or fewer neighborhood cards holding contract cards).

Garbage Day – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released February/March 2016. This is a dexterity balancing game that comes in a cool green plastic garbage can (the type Oscar would love!). Players in the game are roommates. Of course no one likes taking out the garbage; rather the roommates are stacking garbage on the lid. Garbage is represented by cards, each with two small holes near the top. The trick is you must be able to look through the holes and not see another piece of garbage (card). If the garbage falls, that player collects it on their room card. If you get too messy, the other roommates kick you out (i.e., you lose the game). Action cards may allow you to, say, put garbage in another player's room, forcing that player to stack that garbage on the can immediately.

Fun Fact: During a demo of Coconuts at the Mayday Games booth at the Hong Kong Toy Fair, a guy came up, grabbed three or four coconuts, popped them in his mouth, and walked away. The demo came to a complete standstill – a stunned silence with "did that really happen?" looks on their faces.



Academy Games Booth


Z-Man Games

Castellion – Released at Spiel 2015. This is a new standalone tile-laying game set in the Oniverse. Players try to stave off nightmares by forming various pieces of their castles (walls, keeps, towers).

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 is planned to be released in 2017.

Fun Fact: Zev (the Z-Man) gets asked to settle "debates" often: He is asked which is correct, "Camel Up" or "Camel Cup". Even when he gives the correct answer, the person for "Cup" doesn't often believe him. The Camel Up: Supercup expansion certainly didn't help.

R&R Games

Mombasa – U.S. premiere at BGG.CON, to be released by early December 2015. This game has a unique card play mechanism and a heavy Euro feel. There is an area control element to the game, plus player interaction involving direct impact on opponents and their decisions. Players are investors trying to manage their acquisitions of various corporations while developing their diamond mine shares and maintaining profitability in their own businesses. It takes place in the late 1800s on the African continent.

Spellcaster Potions – Due to be released first quarter of 2016. The game is for 1-4 players, ages 14+, play time 15-20min. This expansion to Spellcaster adds potions to modify play, e.g., more power plus the ability to create confusion and disrupt player strength.

Fun Fact: It took Dan DiLorenzo only seventeen years (and thousands of attempts) to beat his brother Frank DiLorenzo at his own game, Overthrone. HA! He was finally overthrown. (Of course it took that long for Dan to comprehend the rulebook.)

Mr. B Games

Helionox: The Last Sunset – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released early December 2015. Helionox is a movement-based deck-building game with varying player powers. Each player has an architect that allows her to flexibly use its powers as she sees fit, e.g., if she needs money, she adds tokens to the card (when empty) to get some money. One token is removed per turn. There is a slight cooperative element in that events occur each turn on center planets. The planets allow players to visit for a bonus, such as deck thinning. While a planet is being affected by an event, the bonus is unavailable. Players on the same planet could agree to defeat the event, splitting the points and making the planet's bonus available again. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game.

Posthuman – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released early December 2015. Posthuman is a post-apocalyptic survival game in which players compete to be the first to make it to the last human city. Characters may level up their attributes and learn new skills. The game can change mid-stream when any player takes on too many scars, turning them posthuman; this changes their goal in the game to stopping the human players from getting to the fortress. The first human to the fortress wins the game. Posthumans can win if they change all human players into posthumans, in which case the last one changed loses and everyone else wins.

Fun Fact: From Sean Brown (a.k.a. Mr. B): "Three years ago at Gen Con I had the honor of having one of my close friends Aaron with me at the show. This was great because he used to get me into Gen Con for many years prior, and now I could return the favor. He came to the booth to work one morning wearing a sweet Pac-Man lanyard for his badge. I instantly fell in love with it, walked over to him, took it off him, and put it on. I then poked him in the chest, and told him that this was like when we were kids on the schoolyard, and used to get our lunch money taken from us, only now I was the bully and he worked for me and it was my lanyard because I got him into Gen Con. He never asked for it back, and to this day I wear that lanyard at cons, especially ones that Aaron attends with me!"



North Star Games Booth


Japanime Games

Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest – Pre-release at Spiel 2015, to be released in the U.S. in December 2015. This is a Dominion-style deck builder. The maids decide to open a beer hall. The goal is to sell and drink as much beer as possible without becoming drunk. There is a push your luck element in that as you drink more (draw cards), you increase the possibility of getting drunk (i.e., drawing a drunk card).

El Alamein – Just finished on Kickstarter, mid-2016 release. This is the sequel to Barbarossa. This version takes place in Africa with anime school girls trying to take over cities in Africa. Players may take cities from each other and re-take them, creating a tug-of-war mechanism.

Fun Fact: Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest is the first game in the Tanto Cuore line that was developed in the U.S., by a U.S. designer (with help from their "professional beer maid", Nadja – who incidentally has a card in the game). The others were done in Japan by Arclight Studios. All the beer maids in the game are actual people from Essen. The promos are photos of them posing like their card characters.

Days of Wonder

Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania – To be released in December 2015, previewed at BGG.CON. This expansion has a double-sided board with UK on one side and Pennsylvania on the other. The UK side is all about technology cards. Players build rails as usual but have to gain technologies to build, e.g., across water, longer trains, etc. The board has a ten train route worth forty points. Pennsylvania has a stock market element. Routes have symbols; when you build, you choose one symbol stock market share card. At the end of the game the people with majorities get points.

Quadropolis – To be released in the second quarter of 2016. For 2-4 players, takes about 40 min. Each player is a mayor who builds a city. You each have four architects numbered 1 to 4 and a grid for your city. There is a main board with building pieces. Use your architects to move building pieces to your city, following certain building rules. Play four rounds, then score for how high your towers are, adjacency, etc. depending on how the buildings have been activated. Pollution and energy management are part of the game. There are two levels from which to choose: classic and expert.

Fun Fact: The four characters on the Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom box are based on the Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows. The artist likes to illustrate and caricature things from other parts of his life that interest him. The actors on the box are based on: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kelly Reilly, Jeremy Brett, and David Burke.

Wattsalpoag Games

Jumbo Jets – Q2 2016. Expansion number two for Jet Set. This expansion adds extra cards, jumbo jets that stay on the board as you use them, and hotels. When you get a flight card that goes to/from your hotel location, you add a guest to your hotel. Players start with four hotel cards and may play the cards in front of them to attract guests for points and income. Charter flights give you cash when you complete their paths. City bonuses: each city starts with a disk; the first player to visit that city gets the disk plus a bonus. Bonuses get better as the game goes on.

Echidna Shuffle – Q3/4 2016. 2 to 6 player game, designed by Kris Gould, play time 15 min, ages 6+. This is a family game in which you want the echidnas to pick up your bugs and deliver them to stumps of your color. Each player has three stumps and three of one type of bug they must deliver e.g., butterflies, grasshoppers, ladybugs. Echidnas are not owned by any specific player. The paths are one way on the board; echidnas move via a die roll.

Fun Fact: Kris Gould, designer of Echidna Shuffle, was walking through a store (Archie McPhee's), when he came across a plain cardboard box that had "12 Echidnas $16.95" written in Sharpie on it. He couldn't resist buying it (no game in mind...yet). At a zoo in Wellington, NZ, Kris saw echidnas running around their enclosure along paths, each in one direction; they had overpasses and cross paths, but were in a line following each other nose to tail. This is what gave him the idea for Echidna Shuffle.

Fantasy Flight Games

Fury of Dracula: Third Edition – Released just before Halloween. Several improvements over the previous version have been made. Combat has been totally re-"vamped" – it used to be dice/card driven, now it is simultaneous card play. The turn structure has changed to day/night/Dracula (formerly day/day/day/night/night/night/Dracula) resulting in a lot less downtime and a shorter game. Encounter cards contain more information (as opposed to the chits that were used in the other editions) resulting in less rules referencing. Train travel has changed; it used to be a die roll, now you take a train token that allows you to know your move in advance, removing some of the randomness from travel. When a hunter is defeated, it is now transported to the nearest hospital (rather than to a specific one). The map and cards were revised to make things more balanced and streamlined. The new edition keeps all the stuff players loved in the game but improved the experience.

Warhammer Quest: the Adventure Card Game – Previewed at BGG.CON, releasing soon. The game was inspired by the original miniatures board game by the same name. It's a fully cooperative card game that may be played as a single mission or in a series as part of a campaign. The game also has RPG elements, for example: upgrade character abilities, get better equipment, use dice to resolve action abilities.

Fun Fact: If you look closely at many Fantasy Flight titles, you might find current and former employees pictured or illustrated. The Whizzard Netrunner card is designer Kevin Wilson. Kevin was a special guest at BGG.CON 2015; you can see him in one of the closing ceremonies photos in Part 2.



Kevin Wilson as the Whizzard


Asmodee

7 Wonders Duel – Released at Spiel 2015. This is a standalone two-player game. It contains more decision making and more tension than 7 Wonders. There are three ways to win.

Colt Express: Horses & Stagecoach – To be released early December 2015. The game comes with little wooden horses. The player meeples start with the horses (although horses don't belong to players). This version allows players to decide where to start on the train, giving players a lot more options. A player must take a horse to get to the stage coach. The game also allows players to take hostages, which gives them money but also slows them down.

Fun Fact: The microphone at the center of the main gaming hall was used one evening by a woman announcing "Whoever has had T.I.M.E Stories for over five hours, please bring it back to the library."

Queen Games

Treasure Hunter – Released at Spiel 2015; U.S. release beginning of December 2015. This is a family friendly drafting game by Richard Garfield. Treasures range from 1 to 20 and -3 to -8 in points. There are three locations with two treasure cards each, plus a goblin cave with three goblins to face. The game is played over five rounds. Players draft a hand of nine cards. Draft cards contain Heroes (1 to 12) for specific locations, special action cards (e.g., alter totals, negate cards, double totals of certain color hero cards), guard dogs, and coins (straight points). Try to win the high treasure cards, while avoiding the negative. Succeed against the goblins or lose coins.

Liguria – Q2 2016 release; the German version was shown at BGG.CON. The general idea is to garner the best paint with which to paint a fresco in the cathedral. The object of the game is to get the most points. Liguria, for which the game is named, is part of Italy on the Ligurian Sea. In the first phase, players place buyers on a track to determine player order, number of tiles to collect, and number of coins to receive. Next, in player order, they collect tiles, then collect/draft cards, which contain actions, movement, and cubes to go in front of their harbors (which other players may retrieve). Cards have a red (negative) or green (positive) number. Ideally the numbers need to add to zero at the end of the game. The penalty for each negative is -5 points. Finally, players sail and take actions. Islands may be conquered (using sword tiles); paint cubes may be gained on that island if the player still owns it the next time around. If a player stops at his own harbor, he delivers the cubes he collected; if he stops at another player's harbor, he may drop off scrolls, representing diplomats, for points at the end of the game. Island owners also gain victory points at the end of the game.

Fun Fact: At Spiel 2015, Richard Garfield stopped by the Queen booth to show them his prototypes but the unknowing scheduler sent him away due to a full schedule, asking him to come back the next day. This caused a bit of a stir!

To be continued...

Stay tuned for Part 2: flea markets, library games, The Dice Tower Live at BGG.CON, a video tour of the exhibit halls, more new release information, and more fun facts!


Some of The Dice Tower guys at BGG.CON


Special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing information and statistics about BGG.CON!
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BGG.CON 2013: What More Could a Gamer Want?

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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BGG.CON took place November 20-24, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport in Dallas, Texas. The location is super convenient as you could actually walk from the terminal, but the free shuttle takes only a couple minutes. It's a wonderful hotel, with nice rooms and friendly service. The rooms must be pretty well sound-proofed because you don't hear the jets taking off.

For some, this year's trip was cut a bit short due to an ice storm making its way into Dallas. I, like many others, opted for an earlier flight. Sadly this meant I couldn't say goodbye to many of my friends or get in one last game (not sure which hurt the most).

Early-bird registration was $85; regular registration was $110 after May 31, 2013. The convention does sell out, so if you would like to attend in 2014, be sure to register as early as possible. (Note: No one under 12 is permitted; children under 18 must be escorted by an adult.) If you flew American Airlines, you could have used a promo code for a 5% discount, which was posted on the BGG.CON webpage. (I wish I had known this BEFORE booking my flight!) Also posted was a discount for Budget car rental.

Attendance for 2013 topped 2,300; last year's attendance was just under 2,000. Even with this many people, tables were fairly easy to find – although you may have had to wonder down to the smaller rooms reserved for the con. Many of these were quieter, although some were designated for louder games such as party games or Werewolf. Attendees came from 46 states and 19 countries! The only states not represented were West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Alaska. I know some gamers from West Virginia – they even run the gaming convention CharCon. Charlie Davis is one of the organizers and was at this year's BGG.CON, but he moved out-of-state, so he no longer represents WV. Where are your buds, Charlie? Bunch of slackers. There was quite a large number of newbies, maybe 25% or more.

NOTE: A big thank you to Jeff Anderson for providing statistics and some of the other information included in this article.

Wristbands

This is probably my least favorite "feature" of the convention: having to wear a wristband throughout the whole thing (and the same one at that, which means sleeping and showering with it on). I've even scraped myself with it (sharp-ish edges). You certainly won't catch me doing what this guy did. Be sure to scroll down to see the altered sock photo.

FOOD

Once again Rio Grande Games sponsored free shuttle service to nearby restaurants and shopping throughout the convention. Unfortunately Hard 8 and Babe's were not on the routes, but they were on friends' "to eat" lists. It was the first time for me at both of these restaurants. I think trips to them will need to be annual events though. To get to Hard 8, twelve of us rented two SUV taxies and split the tabs. It was rather pricey at about $17 each, but I was glad to have experienced Hard 8! Seems we'll have to either rent a car next year or find new friends (with cars).


Waiting in line at the Hard 8: Mark Kaufmann (DoW), Madison Sites (DoW), Zev Shlasinger (Z-Man), Peter Hawes (designer), Stefen Brunell (Asmodee), Ravindra Prasad, some guy, Ted and Toni Alspach (Bézier Games), others

A note about my photography: sorry the photography in this article isn't up to my usual standards. I decided to try iPhone-ing it to play with the Pano feature. Regrettably, the images are incredibly noisy, difficult to color balance, and distorted. Also, if anyone moved during the pan, they'll look a bit like a mismatched puzzle. I'm going to just say the photos have a lot of character and bring my 35mm next year.

Hard 8 is a meat lover's paradise (although that probably could just as well be said about Texas in general). You order it by the pound, right off the grill, served in front of you. Don't go there too hungry or you may end up with many (many!) pounds of meat to bring home. I must also mention that meat slapped down on a tray lined with paper looks much smaller than on a plate, but trust me – there is more there than seems. My favorites were the jalapenos stuffed with chicken and wrapped in bacon (I believe these were the chicken poppers), followed by the ribs, the ham (surprised me too!), the jalapeno sausages, and the brisket. Yeah, that was a lot of meat – and I didn't even mention all of it (so embarrassed).


A grill full of meaty yumminess!

To get to Babe's, a friend of ours (thanks, Tom McCorry!) "volunteered" to drive (slight maneuvering involved, no violence, though — do threats count?). I highly recommend the fried chicken and the smoked chicken (best to bring friends and split – there's a lot of chicken there). I also tried the chicken tenders and chicken fried steak, both were okay but not nearly as good as the aforementioned. Dinners come with family style sides. Loved the mashed potatoes & gravy and the creamed corn.

Hotel Restaurants

The first night we tried the steak house, Mister G's, in the hotel. We were really disappointed. The worst part was that the restaurant was so cold that we had to wear our winter coats (literally cold blowing wind! I thought the door was left open). The food got cold quickly as well. There were some other issues but the manager gave us free dessert to make up for them. I heard from others later that they had better experiences than we did, including a normal temperature in the restaurant.

The larger restaurant, Jacob's Spring Grill, was pretty good. The staff really tried hard to accommodate us. We also received a 10% discount for being part of BGG.CON. The only thing that really annoyed me was that at breakfast we couldn't order off the menu; we could order only the buffet. I didn't really want a big meal for breakfast; I was just looking for a piece of toast and an egg. I ended up ordering the steel cut oatmeal from Jett's Coffee Bar (it was good) but also a sweet coffee drink that I didn't need!

EVENTS AND CON HAPPENINGS

Orphans and First-Timers Meet-Up

Those new to BGG.CON could meet with other first-timers at the convention on Wednesday evening. The event was hosted by Team Geek (the volunteers in the white football jerseys). They gave an overview of BGG.CON. At the end, there was a challenge to pair up, check out a game from the library, plant a "players wanted" sign on their table to find two other players, and start a game.

Open Board Gaming

The game library has over 5,000 games in it, including some of the latest releases from the Spiel convention in Germany. If you are interested, there is a full list on BGG. You use your badge to check out games; there is a bar code on the back. The game is checked out, using the barcode. It's under your name so you need to be sure to return games in a timely manner and in good condition. Games have barcodes in either white or blue. The blue bar-coded games are new to the library and are found in a different section than the white; they have a maximum check out time limit of four hours. Only one game plus expansion may be checked out per person (although you may also check out game accessories, such as poker chips, clear Plexiglas, or dice). Note: Before entering the game library, you must check your bags/backpacks or oversized purses.

Here's a list of the most checked-out games. (The number listed is the number of times it was checked out, although there may have been a problem with the counts; see the comments.)

78 Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends
63 Bora Bora
53 Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords - Base Set
49 La Boca
44 CV
43 Relic Runners
43 Steam Park
42 Rokoko
40 Prosperity
40 Amerigo
39 Firefly: The Game
38 Tokaido

Guests

This year's guests included Alan Moon (Mr. Ticket to Ride), Eric M. Lang (co-designer of Quarriors!), and Rich Sommer, game enthusiast, and actor from Mad Men).
Rich Sommer
United States
North Hollywood
California
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From L to R: Rick Thornquist, Alan Moon, Matthew Frederick, and Tom Lehmann

Game Show

Here's a description of the game show, sponsored by USAopoly, from a post by designer Peter Sarett:

Quote:
This year's game show will be Pointless, a format which debuted at BGG.CON 2010 to rave reviews and is inspired by the British game show of the same name. The content, as usual, is all-new.

In Pointless, 100 respondents have been given 100 seconds to list as many things as possible in a category. Your team must give three answers in that category that you believe were the least common. You score 1 point for every respondent that listed your answer, and you're going for the lowest score. An invalid answer (e.g. "Gandalf" for "Harry Potter Characters") scores 100. A perfect, "pointless" answer is valid but listed by no respondents, scoring your team a perfect 0.

Pointless is for teams of four players, and as with all the game shows I run, there are no turns – all teams play all the time. We're running it twice (same content each time, so only sign up once!), but slots fill up very quickly, so please be sure to get to the sign-up sheet early if you want to play.

Puzzle Hunt

This year's puzzle hunt was hosted by Dave Arnott and Aaron Weissblum. Four-person teams competed for two hours in a variety of puzzles and challenges. Sign-up was unlimited, although you had to sign up a bit ahead so that they knew how many puzzle packets to print. This event was sponsored by USAopoly and Blue Panther Games.

Flea Market

"I'm not going to buy anything; I'm just going to look." My last words to my husband before coming back with three games and a roll of (pink!) vinyl tape (for holding card decks and game boxes together). The flea market is one of my favorite events of BGG.CON. There are some awesome deals to be had and even some hard-to-find games. Near the end, the prices really come down; it's totally worth another pass! The flea market is usually held Saturday morning for one crazy, frantic hour. By the way, for those selling, sign up early – it does fill up.

Virtual Flea Market

Well over 3,600 games were listed in the virtual flea market this year! Wow!! This is a blurb from the original post describing the virtual flea market:

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Here is the concept — while the BGG.CON Flea Market is great, for some of us who are traveling to the convention, carrying games to the convention that you may or may not be able to sell is a hassle at the very least, so use the "Virtual Flea Market" instead. If you have items that you'd like to sell at BGG.CON, list them here with the condition of your items, and the price or terms you'd like to sell for. With any luck, the deals will be done ahead of the convention and you can just do the physical swap in Dallas.

The type of listing, fixed price, auction, Dutch auction, etc., was left up to the seller. The swap was done during a designated hour on Thursday.

Math Trade

I noted over 1,400 games listed in this year's math trade! This is a no-ship, low risk trade. Transactions are completed in person unless otherwise arranged. One hour was reserved on Saturday for this purpose. From what I heard, this year's math trade went very smoothly.


Learning Madeira: Mo Cassidy (left), Rick Thornquist (middle), Ravindra Prasad (right)

Hot Games

Ooooh how I love the Hot Games Room! People like Rick Thornquist and Jennifer Geske patiently teach the "correct" rules to the newest game releases. This year's games included:

Caverna: the Cave Farmers
Russian Railroads
A Study in Emerald
Patchistory
Madeira
Rampage
Nations
Concordia
Glass Road
Lewis & Clark
Bruxelles 1893
Machi Koro
Nauticus


Unfortunately, I didn't have nearly enough time to play even half of these, but I did manage to play Russian Railroads, Madeira, Glass Road, Machi Koro, and Caverna: the Cave Farmers. I played Bruxelles 1893 as a prototype at The Dice Tower Con, but didn't get to play the final version. Sigh.


Learning Glass Road: Ravindra Prasad (left), very kind woman who taught us (middle), Bay Chang (Right)

GeekBuzz

You may view the full list, comments, and a simple graph (performance throughout the con) for each game from the overview page. Here's the top ten:

Rank/Name/Number of Votes
1 Francis Drake 104
2 Amerigo 79
3 Triassic Terror 73
4 Rokoko 57
5 Caverna: the Cave Farmers 52
6 Russian Railroads 47
7 Concordia 43
8 Love Letter 41
9 Rampage 40
10 Nations 37

Prizes

Each attendee received three or four games to take home, plus a couple of meeples from MeepleSource. There was a big prize drawing on Saturday night during the closing ceremonies that included stacks of games from most exhibitors, two beautiful Crokinole boards, $1,200 worth of dice from Artisan Dice, and a Queen Games Escape Experience (see below, under tournaments).

The Dice Tower Recording

On Friday, The Dice Tower held a two-hour live recording. Each guest was given two minutes to speak, although there may have been some extra time given to Aldie and Jeff from BoardGameGeek (cough, favoritism, cough). They also took some time out to banter with Rich Sommer at the top of the show and talk briefly about the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund in the middle. Notable guests included Alan Moon, Eric Lang, Tom Lehmann, Ted Alspach (more big than notable), Paul Petersen, Mike Selenker, Mike Fitzgerald, Diceychic, and Matt Leacock, among others. They also had the casts of some podcasts drop by, including Flip the Table and Plaid Hat, as well as the cast from YouTube video series, Board with Life. (Thanks to Eric Summerer for the details!)


Eric Summerer at Babe's; he just loved the wait staff's pen (maybe a little too much...)

Spiel-a-Thon

The Spiel-a-Thon was a fun-filled board game event held to raise money for The Spiel Foundation. Prize bundles were given away. Two-player teams played for 25-30 minutes in a trivia game specifically designed for this event. Sign-up was allowed both before and during the convention (up to 24 hours prior to the event). Each person was asked to donate $15 to help The Spiel Foundation provide games to children's hospitals and senior citizen's centers. The event was held over three hours on Friday. They had 108 participants and raised $2,100! The winning team this year was podcasters Flip The Table: Flip Florey, Chris Michaud, and Matt Saunders, with celebrity guest team member Scott Alden. Sponsored by The Spiel, i.e. those meeple jacket guys, Stephen Conway and David Coleson.

ProtoZone

ProtoZone, formerly known as Proto Alley, was where game designers could go to have attendees playtest their games and give feedback. Attendees could try out the newest up-and-coming games — or at least the hopefuls. A list of many of the games demonstrated is available on Unpub's website. This event was held all day on Friday.

Designer/Publisher Speed Dating

Ahh, a match made in Heaven — or not? Two separate times on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, eight designers and their games each sat at a table, awaiting a publisher to woo them. Every six minutes a new publisher visited the table to hear their six-minute pitch of the game. Later in the evening, designers and publishers (if interested) could play full sessions of the games at the provided tables. Signups were requested in advance.

TOURNAMENTS

Texas Hold'Em Tournament

This seems to be a popular event, but it doesn't really appeal to me. Note: It is open to newbies – they teach the rules if you show up 15 minutes early. The winner was John Krieg (Johnny K) from Fort Worth, TX. The runner-up was Jason Hinkley (deitied) from Irving, TX. No money was involved but prizes were awarded to the winner.

Tichu Tournament

Oh yeah, THERE WASN'T ONE! Jeff Anderson: what are you doing to me??


Playing Tichu, not in the tournament, L to R: Ravindra Prasad, Ted Alspach (my partner – it's a wonder we EVER win...), Toni Alspach


...this certainly doesn't help me

Ticket to Ride Regional Qualifier

Hosted by Days of Wonder, the Ticket to Ride tournament included a three-game preliminary round (Thursday afternoon), followed by semi-final and finals (Friday afternoon) to determine the Regional Qualifier for the North American Championship. The winner received an invitation to the North American Championship at Gen Con (plus a four-day Gen Con pass), a special Ticket to Ride championship medal, complete set (five colors) of limited edition translucent Ticket to Ride trains, and their choice of one of the Ticket to Ride Map Collection expansions. Each participant received a single set of 45 limited edition translucent trains (one color only).

Forty-eight players participated in the tournament. Response to the event was overwhelming as sign-ups lasted less than 15 minutes before all the slots were filled. The winner of the Ticket to Ride tournament was Alex Johannigman from Denver, Colorado, who took two out of three games in a very close final match from runner-up Ryan Lynn from Wichita, Kansas. Thanks to Mark Kaufmann for the preceding information and following photo.


Alan Moon (L) and Alex Johannigman (R)

Going, Going, GONE! Tournament

Hosted by Stronghold Games and Professor Scott Nicholson, the Going, Going, GONE! tournament was fast and frenzied as players tried to stay in control during the very short game play.

In Going, Going, GONE!, the new game by Scott Nicholson, players bid on five auctions carried out simultaneously over about ten seconds (which one player counts out). Players try to build sets of similar items to sell for more "money" (cubes), so they can ramp up and bid increasingly more. At the start of the tournament, Scott taught everyone the game. Players then competed in multiple rounds (some with rule variants) to attempt to reach the finals. All participants received a coupon for $5 off a purchase at the Stronghold booth at BGG.CON 2013. Prizes included copies of Stronghold Games products and a badge for next year's BGG.CON. Scott created an oversized version of the game for use at the final table. The winner was Bhavin Shah. Thanks to Stephen Buonocore for the preceding information and following video links.

At some point in the tournament, Scott recorded the "Harlem Shake", started by himself alone, then joined by the everyone in the room. Watch this crazy dance below:


Video by Scott Nicholson, "Harlem Shake"

There is a modification to the previously published version of Going, Going, GONE! due to the paddles bending over time. I thought this was amusing (near end).


Pandemic: The Cure Tournament

Pandemic: The Cure prototypes were used for six teams of five players each. Matt Leacock, the designer, taught the game and officiated the tournament. The tournament ran for two rounds, then the top two teams played in a final for a $50 gift certificate for each team member. The winning team players were Seth Jaffee, David Short, Mike Tunison, Dan Keitner, and Ryan Metzler. Everyone seemed to really enjoy playing this new take on Pandemic. Thanks to Zev Shlasinger from co-host Z-Man Games for the information provided above.

Annual Battlin' Tops Tournament

This was a two-team race between defending champions "A-Nation" versus "Players of Pain" (POP). "A-Nation" were the "good guys" in red, white, and blue costumes. POP were the "bad" guys; of course they were dressed in dark, sinister costumes. The "Chief of Pain" made it to the final round for the "Players of Pain" and was up 2-0-0-0 but was finally defeated by one of the players from "A-Nation" for the win. Thanks to Stephen Buonocore for the preceding information.

A few friends of mine participated and were a bit too enthusiastic about it. One even asked me about joining them next year. (They had me until they mentioned the costumes.) The event was held late Friday night (past my bedtime really) in the convention lobby and was hosted by Chad Krizan (BGG Advertising Manager) and Matthew Monin (BGG Community Manager). Sponsored by Looney Labs.

Amerigo Tournament

The Amerigo tournament was hosted by Queen Games. The highest scoring player won a copy of the game and all four mini-Expansions (Queenies). Second- and third-highest score won a copy of Amerigo.

The Escape Experience

This event was hosted by Queen Games. Attendees could play Escape: The Curse of the Temple to be entered into drawings, including one for the big (GIANT!) prize: a trip to Essen with airfare, hotel, and free entry to the Spiel convention. The winner of the trip was announced Saturday night at the Closing Ceremonies. It was won by a first-time BGG.CON attendee! Other lucky players won Escape packages that included Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Escape: Illusions, and Escape: Quest.


Closing ceremonies, my pano around the room

EXHIBITOR HALL/GAMES!

Days of Wonder

Ticket to Ride Nederland made its North American debut at BGG.CON. From DoW:

Quote:
The fourth in the series of Ticket to Ride Map Collection expansions is set in the Netherlands low-country - a region filled with hundreds of canals and rivers, and just as many bridges that cross them. Along with the new map, this expansion introduces bridge tolls. Double-routes now have a cost, which players must pay for with Bridge Toll Tokens. When taking the first route of a Double-route the player pays tokens directly to the bank; but when a second route is claimed, the tokens due are paid to the player who claimed the first route instead. Players score bonus points based on the total value of Bridge Toll Tokens they still own at game's end...

Ticket to Ride Nederland includes a single-sided map; 44 Destination Tickets; new Bridge Toll Tokens and multi-lingual rules booklet. Designed for 2 to 5 players, ages 8+, this expansion requires train cards and trains from either Ticket to Ride® or Ticket to Ride Europe.


Box art


Game components

Days of Wonder also debuted these beautiful four Small World figures - Skeleton, Spiderine, Wizard, and Amazon:


Small World figures

Eagle Games

Rococo, released at Spiel 2013, was running almost continuously near the Hot Games area throughout the convention. Most of the time an expert, Ralph Anderson, was available to teach it. I enjoyed my first play of the game (even more so since I WON!). Rococo is a board game with some deck-building (players may purchase cards during their turn to give them more options; cards usually have more than one use), hand management, and a lot of area control. The theme is all about making dresses and coats during the reign of Louis XV with a grand ball at the end of the game for final scoring. I love the theme!

The reprint of I'm the Boss! is due to be released in January.

Gryphon Games

Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age (IA) is expected to be released during the second quarter of 2014. It is a standalone game with similar mechanisms to Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (BA) but it is a different game: different buildings, developments, monuments, and peg-board. Resources include armies and navies. According to Tom Lehmann, the designer, the difference between Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age (LBA, a more advanced game of BA) and Iron Age is that in LBA high scoring empires look fairly similar:

Quote:
By contrast, high scoring IA empires often look totally different. One might have 6 ports, lots of monuments, several pricey developments, and 0 points in Tribute. Another might have 6 provinces, one large monument, just a few cheap developments, and over 50 points in Tribute. A third might be "lean and mean", with just 4 empire dice from 4 ports and 4 provinces, lots of middling developments, almost no disaster points, and about 20 points in Tribute. A fourth might have 6 ports, a large navy, no monuments (having invested population in armies), and will zip from 0 to 40+ Tribute in the final rounds. And so on.

This strategic diversity is what many players cited as their favorite aspect of IA when they tested it.

If you prefer swapping goods to buy large developments to exploring strategic diversity, then you'll probably prefer LBA over IA. If you prefer the cut and thrust of different strategies and jockeying for military power, then you'll probably prefer IA.

IA does have a short and a long game, but the IA short game is mostly just an intro game, as it tends to pit Port players trying to get their economies up and running before a Province player wins on Tribute. If you're looking for a fast die rolling game, you'll probably prefer the BA to the IA short game.

The Mediterranean expansion adds another dimension and set of trade-offs to IA. Now, do you use your population for provinces, armies, monuments, or colonies? Do you use your ships to build a Navy or to found colonies? This further increases the IA "strategy space".

The Med. expansion also gives the game a different "feel". One player at BGGCon — we played an IA short game without the expansion and then an IA long game with it — commented that this different feel is what moved IA from "play" to "buy" in his opinion (given that he already owns BA and LBA). How important the Med's central play focus and increased interaction is for you is another factor to consider, along with IA's greater strategic variety.

Stronghold Games

Going, Going, GONE!, designed by Scott Nicholson, was pre-released at both Spiel and BGG.CON. It was made available to the public at the end of November 2013. See the tournament entry above for Going, Going, GONE! for more information.

Space Sheep!, by Anthony Rubbo was pre-released at both Spiel and BGG.CON and made generally available at the end of November 2013. It is a cooperative puzzle game, with a parody theme of Star Wars. Players start with four cards in hand. During their turn they play a card then draw a card. One person is the Supreme Flock Commander (SFC) who controls the timer and wolf. The goal is to get the "shepherd class ship" (or just shepherd) and sheep both to their matching colored system. The wolf token will be on one of the systems. During the game, the timer needs to be kept going. One player will have to play the same color card as the wolf's system in order to knock over (attack) him. When the timer gets close to running out, the SFC turns over the timer and rolls an eight-sided die to determine where the wolf will go next. If the timer runs out before a player can attack the wolf, the wolf attacks instead and the players lose four cards. When the cards run out, the players lose the game.

For replayability and increased difficulty the game was made to scale up in the number of systems (4-8). There is also variability in instruction tiles (one set for each system). These tiles are actions that allow players to move the pieces about the board according to the instructions on them. There is also an advanced play variant that allows for player roles.

Z-Man Games

Z-Man's hot Spiel 2013 game releases included Bruxelles 1893, Tash-Kalar, Glass Road, and one of my new favorites, Russian Railroads.


Blueprints box

In Blueprints, players try to earn the most victory points (VP) by building structures of dice over three rounds. Players start each round with a blueprint card. At the beginning of each round, dice are rolled and made available as a central pool. The dice represent building materials, wood (orange), stone (black), glass (clear), and recycled material (green). Players take turns choosing dice from the pool and placing them on their blueprint cards. Players may alternatively choose to build their own designs. A completed design will earn the player 6 bonus points. At the end of a round, players score their building materials depending on their type. For example, glass will score the top facing pips as points and stone will score based on its height (position) in the structure. The player with the most points is awarded the 1st place prize (3 VP), the next most is awarded 2nd place (2 VP), followed by 3rd place (1 VP). The player with the least points will always score zero, thus the number of prizes awarded is dependent on the number of players (e.g. in a 3 player game, only 1st and 2nd place prizes will be awarded).

Players also score for design patterns, 2 VP each. There are four available, including a straight (having each die face value in their building) and a skyscraper (having a building of height 5 or more).


A sample of cards

Carcassonne: South Seas, the first in the "Carcassonne Around the World" series, is a new twist on the classic. Players place meeples on tiles to collect bananas, shells, and fish, then sell these goods to traders via ships (drawn tiles) in exchange for points. Since points are printed on each ship, a scoreboard is no longer necessary. Yay!

Czech Games Edition

CGE was showing the Rubik's Futuro Cube in its booth. It enhances games designed by CGE, e.g., it generates missions for Space Alert. They also had several digital devices running the pre-release of Galaxy Trucker and the developer version of Through the Ages.

Mayfair Games

Asgard's Chosen can be a one-player solo game, two-player co-op, or a 2-4 player conflict game. It was released about two months ago. Asgard's Chosen is a deck-building, conflict game set in the early years of the Vikings. Players build armies, take over territory, and use special powers in their quest to appease gods (cards). What is unique about this game is that players start by constructing their decks, then they will deconstruct them later in the game to score victory points. Each god card gives a player a particular power; this is more necessary at the beginning of the game but less so as the game progresses. Players give up resources to appease the gods, allowing them to score. The game ends when a certain number of gods have been appeased; the winner is the player who appeased the most gods.

The Witches: A Discworld Game is Martin Wallace's game set in the Discworld universe conceived by author Terry Pratchett. It is a light card and dice driven adventure game. Players are fledgling witches who must build up their characters by solving "problems" such as healing a sick pig, mending a broken limb, or curing someone of death. Players gain points for solving these problems. The object of the game is to have the most points at the end. Movement is done with actions, although there are cards that let you teleport. In the competitive game, there is a co-op element – not to let the crises get out of control or every one will lose – but there is only one winner of the game. The game also may be played as a coop or solo.

The expansion maps for Star Trek CatanStar Trek Catan: Federation Space — were released before Spiel in Essen. The designers used the background from Star Trek to create this expansion, i.e. the "Explored Galaxy" map seen in Kirk's quarters itself. These two maps allow players to settle the famous worlds of Federation "known" space using pieces from the base game. Players gain victory points by building to locations. They can also establish trading posts (harbors in Catan) by building. Trading posts are not limited to the edges of the board; they are scattered throughout. Although there is competition, this game is more about exploration, as you would expect in a Star Trek game.

Mad City is due to be released in the first quarter of 2014 as part of Mayfair's FunFair line of family games. It is a real-time competitive tile-laying game with one-minute rounds. Everyone has nine tiles, each with some mixed of territories: residential, industrial, and urban. Tiles might also have parks and lakes on them. Roads divide many of the tiles. Each player must arrange their tiles in a 3x3 grid to try to get the best score by wisely using the territories and number of elements in them. During the first part of the game, players may grab a scoring marker if they finish their grid and it is still available. The scoring marker gives that player extra points their parks and lakes. One player will also score for the longest road.

Villainy by Nicholas Trahan is planned to be released Q22014. It is a 2-4 player, 120-minute card-driven game. Players are up-and-coming villains who are given tasks to complete. They choose cards with evil deeds and henchmen (via Ticket to Ride-style card drafting) and get involved in fights. Evil deeds are fairly tongue-in-cheek, such as spray painting their name on city hall or putting a kitten in a tree. They evolve into more serious deeds though the game, e.g., stealing caffeine from the world's coffee supply. Characters build up attributes, gain weapons, and gather henchmen. They also have alter egos with "day jobs" to help support their evil misdoings. Players start with Evil Plan number 1, progress to Evil Plan number two (draw 2, choose 1), then finally must accomplish the Magnum Opus (card) to win as hero Fantastiman tries to foil their evil plans.

Hot Tin Roof, by Leo Colovini, is planned to be released Q2 2014. It's for 2-4 players and playable in 60 minutes. The game board has action spaces (represented as dumpsters) as follows: 3 cat placement tiles, 1 catwalk (bridge), 1 shelter. Each player has their own colored cats as well as tokens for catwalks and shelters. At the start of a turn, a player will put 5 sardine tokens (i.e. cat money) out on the dumpsters, one on each, then will choose a dumpster and take the associated action. The longer a dumpster is unused, the more sardines will accumulate. The idea is to get your cat couple to meet at a deck to gain a big fish (worth ten points). During the game, players place catwalks for cats to move as well as shelters on decks (to claim ownership – cats may meet at decks without shelters). When you use another player’s catwalk or shelter, you pay that player in sardines. Once a certain number of big fish are claimed, the game ends. Sardines and big fish are totaled; the winner is the player with the most points.

Bedpans and Broomsticks, by Fredrick Moyerson, has a planned release in Q2 2014. It is a game for 2-5 players, 60 to 90 minutes. Bedpans and Broomsticks is an asymmetrical semi-cooperative game that takes place in a two-story old folks' home. One player represents the staff (e.g. nurses); the other players are the old folks trying to escape the home. The old folks will start in a particular room on the second floor of the house, and they must explore their way out. If they encounter a nurse or doctor, that character will come into play. It takes two nurses or one doctor to catch one old folk. If the staff player catches a certain number of old folk, she wins the game. Each of the old folks has a doppelgänger decoy to throw the staff off track. Players trying to escape must first find the elevator, then the door to the outside to escape and win the game.

Due to be released Q1 2014 is the new Steam expansion double-sided board Southern Africa (3-6 p) and Poland (3-5 players with a two-player variant). Southern Africa has mining and an off-board market. Players have to do prospecting for goods; when they deliver, they have the option to buy then sell goods in the off board market for victory points. Poland has two gage tracks. Partway through the game players will be able to build outside Poland, but it requires upgraded track. Players may not deliver across two types of track so they must upgrade existing track to move goods.

Wattsalpoag Games

At its booth was the U.S. premier of Buccaneer Bones, due to be released in a few weeks. Each player starts with six ships at the top of her player mat. The player mats each have six rows of ports, sea spaces, and islands. Ships will move down their own numbered column, from their port, out to sea, and to their island. Column numbers match pips on a six-sided die. Players roll four dice on a turn and are allowed one reroll. Islands give players extra advantages, such as rolling an extra die, adding/subtracting one from a rolled die, or rerolling any number of dice once. There are two of each type of island available, thus if a player's ships are on both islands that give an extra die, the player will roll six dice instead of four. If a player rolls two of a kind, she may move one space. If a player rolls three of a kind, he may move two spaces OR if he has a ship on an island he can claim a treasure token, in which case the ship goes back to port and any advantage it had goes away. Once a player collects three treasure tokens, the game ends; the player with the most treasure wins. There is also a first mate token that allows a player who rolled poorly to use an empty island one time for its advantage. Game rules include play variants, including rules for a solo game.

Queen Games

Escape from Zombie City, designed by Kristian Amundsen Østby, is due to be released Q1 2014. It is a real-time game like the original Escape but lasting fifteen minutes instead of ten. It includes a soundtrack (DVD or mp3 download). Instead of temple tiles as in Escape, Escape from Zombie City includes parts of a city (e.g. streets and buildings). There are five custom dice, like Escape but with different symbols. Zombies spawn in certain areas and attack nearby characters. They come out with a combination of dice; different combinations produce different zombies. To win, players must get on a bus, with one player as a driver and one as a navigator. Direction is controlled by rolling dice, thus the bus may end up going in the wrong direction and even be attacked by zombies.

Amerigo, the new action point allowance game by Stefan Feld, was recently released at Spiel in Essen. Player actions are determined by putting cubes through a specialized tower, reminiscent of Wallenstein. It ended up as number two on the GeekBuzz listing.

APE Games

Island Siege is a two-player game, although two sets can be combined to play up to four. The anticipated release date is January 2014. Island Siege is a fast-playing game of fort-building and colonization in the Caribbean Sea. Players build shore-side forts to defend their colonists from attack and to score points. Forts allow you to put colonists in play, which in turn can safely build ships and buildings that provide abilities and points. Attacking allows you to chip away at your opponent's fort while gaining cubes, to be used to build forts of your own. Your goal is to score 20 coins or get all of your colonists in play.

Asmodee

Asmodee has a number of new releases/reprints; click on their names to see Asmodee's game information: Nations,
Expedition Northwest Passage, Dixit Origins, Skull, C3K, Eclipse Ship Pack One, Jungle Speed Safari, Prosperity. Here are the BGG links: Nations, Expedition: Northwest Passage, Dixit Origins, C3K, Eclipse Ship Pack One, Jungle Speed Safari.

IELLO

Heroes of Normandie (Prototype – included here with permission; to be released by the end of 2013) MSRP $70. This is a two-player World War II game, Germans vs. Americans, with platoon level play. It is scenario-based, with a template to set up player units. Players use hidden activation tokens to determine initiative and bluff. A die is used for combat, along with action cards.

Guardians' Chronicles (Prototype – included here with permission; to be released by the end of 2013) MSRP $70. This is a superhero themed semi-cooperative miniatures game with one player posing as the archnemesis: Professor Skarov. The Skarov player will have his lair in the center of a 3x3 tile grid board (the tiles are double-sided). Each player receives a character and a certain number of cards. Characters enter the board on one of the side tiles and will advance around the outside, meeting objectives on each tile. For example, an objective might be to stop a nuke or save the president's daughter. Minions and traps will be encountered along the way. As players try to complete objectives, success (blue) or fail (red) newspaper headline cards will be placed. Players lose if there are more red than blue. To win they must defeat Professor Skarov and maintain more blue headline cards than red.

Zombie 15 (Prototype, to be released in 2014; included here with permission) MSRP $65. With a 15-minute play time, players may choose to run the 15-scenario progressive campaign. Zombie 15 is a scenario-based, cooperative game with a soundtrack and miniatures! When a zombie is heard growling, players must flip a card to reveal how many zombies come out. Players can search the board for items and weapons. Players must quickly make decisions or be overwhelmed with zombies. Shudder!

The English version of Think Again! has a planned release date of December 2013. MSRP about $20. This is a party/trivia game playable in about twenty minutes. Players take turns reading questions off cards. Once a question has been read, the player flips over the next question card, showing the back. It will be either green or red. Green is straightforward – the players need to answer the question correctly. Red is trickier – the players need to answer the questions incorrectly but the answer must remain in the same category as the correct answer. For example, if the question was "What's the capital of the U.S.?" for green the answer would be Washington DC, but for red it would have to be any CITY but Washington DC.

Columbia Games

This was Columbia Games' second BGG.CON. ITS biggest releases are Hammer of the Scots and Slapshot. There is an iOS version of Slapshot available (Barnard Enterprises Technology, LLC, version), which will be updated soon with a drop in price. It will have a multiplayer option (through Game Center) and will be a free upgrade for current owners. Napoléon: The Waterloo Campaigne, 1815, fourth edition was its first Kickstarter. Its second Kickstarter, Bobby Lee (third edition), was funded November 10, 2013, with an expected release in December 2013. It covers the American Civil War around the Virginia area from 1861 to 1865. The new edition is an upgrade with a larger map (physically), almost twice the size of the original map.

Steve Jackson Games

Chupacabra: Survive the Night (re-release) was released by SJG on November 18, 2013, MSRP $19.95. From the manufacturer:

Quote:
Can you survive the night? Night falls, and the bloodsucking Chupacabra stalks its prey. Its red eyes mean doom... Divide up the 24 glow-in-the dark dice. When you roll a Chupacabra, you can take dice from your opponents – but they can do the same to you. Claim all the dice, and be the only one to survive the night!


On November 14, 2013, SJG released a Zombie Dice Brain Case (accessory for Zombie Dice) with an MSRP of $9.95. The new case is a "stylish, noisy dice cup with a screw-on lid ringed with 13 braaaaaaaiiiins". It also includes a score pad.

Ogre Designer's Edition was just released on December 6, 2013, MSRP $100.00. From the manufacturer:

Quote:
The giant tank rumbles toward its target. Its guns are destroyed, its movement crippled, but only a few defenders are left. Will they stop the robot juggernaut, or will it crush the Command Post beneath its gigantic treads?

In 2085, the battlefield is deadlier than ever. Hovercraft, tanks, and infantry slug it out with tacnukes. But the most feared weapon of all needs no human guidance. It’s the giant cybernetic tank called the Ogre!

In the gigantic new Designer's Edition, five giant-sized mapboards provide the battlefields. Extra overlays let you change the maps a little...or a lot. Regular armor and infantry are represented by oversized, full-color counters for regular units...and the Ogres and buildings are huge 3-D constructible models!

The rules have been completely revised and reorganized into a rulebook, a separate scenario book, and a handy player reference sheet.

Ravensburger/alea

This German publisher was showing its hot title Bora Bora. Made available for the first time was expansion pack number 4 for Castles of Burgundy (which sold out at the show) and the first expansion pack for Bora Bora. Its highly anticipated game Sanssouci will be available in the U.S. around May/June 2014.

MeepleSource

Your source for custom bits! That's the company's tagline, but also its product. Some of its items include money disks, T-shirts, cubes, and meeples – now featuring characters. Go crazy collecting Storm Troopers, Pirates, Ninja, Aliens, and many more to add to your game collection. You know you want 'em!

FINAL WORDS

I'll leave you with this little anecdote. I was interviewing a publisher for this article when someone walked up. The publisher said to him something like "I'm in the middle of an interview; I'll be with you in a few minutes." To which the guy said, "I'm here to talk to Diceychic" and proceeded to tell me how he liked my Dice Tower segments! It made my whole day! Thank you, sir!
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Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:38 pm
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Illustrated Report from Gen Con 2012

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Gen Con Indy was held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 16-19, 2012. This marked the 45th anniversary of the nation's largest annual consumer hobby, fantasy/sci-fi, and adventure gaming convention, as well as its tenth anniversary in the city of Indianapolis. With record-breaking numbers, the convention recorded a turnstile attendance of 134,775, including more than 41,000 unique attendees. Show turnstile attendance rose more than 12% above last year's record of over 120,000. Gen Con will return to the Indianapolis Convention Center for next year's show, August 15-18, 2013.

Quote:
Fun Facts: (taken from Ten Fun Facts and Figure from Gen Con Indy 2012)
• Gen Con raised more than $14,000 for the Stars Youth Foundation charity this year.
• Nearly 9,000 events were run as part of Gen Con Indy.
• Gen Con Indy hosted the first-ever World
Magic Cup with players from 71 different countries participating.
• Notable media guests of honor included Wil Wheaton, Nichelle Nichols, and Wes Bentley.
• Press attendance topped the record at over 500, including five television crews.
• There were over 300 exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall, premiering more than 45 games.
• The Gen Con Indy Facebook page topped more than 780,000 during the convention week.

Family Fun Pavilion

The Family Fun Pavilion has been running for six years. It is an area dedicated to family gaming for all ages and includes exhibits, demonstrations, activities and more. Some features: face painting, music and activities by Radio Disney, demonstrations from a list of exhibitors over the entire four days, craft events, and dress parades. Mayfair had many of its giant games in this area.



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Origins 2011 – Part 2

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Note: Since this report comes several months after Origins, I've updated the game information to be as current as possible. As mentioned in Part 1, the dates for Origins are changing in 2012; check the end of this article for details. (Editor's note: My apologies to Mary for not posting this report weeks ago when she submitted it. Holidays! —WEM)

Exhibit Hall

In the exhibit hall, which sold out for the second year in a row, a section was reserved for the Library, which allowed Origins' guest authors a place to interact with attendees: selling books, signing autographs, and socializing. Another space (at the top of the stairs in the Seminar Hall) was reserved as a reading room, with authors such as Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, Aaron Allston, Walter Hunt, and Jean Rabe conducting readings from about 6-9 p.m.

Mayfair custom hotel key card

Mayfair Games

Mayfair really expanded its presence at Origins, with custom hotel key cards for some nearby hotels as well as custom street signs in the Exhibit hall. (You can see one in the photo below in the upper-left, but the light caught one face, so it is pretty blown out.)

Some of the beautiful custom tables for Catan games

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Sat Jan 7, 2012 6:30 am
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Origins 2011 – Part 1

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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The 36th Origins Game Fair was held in Columbus, Ohio, June 22-26, 2011. Attendance increased from 2010 by 7.8%, going from 10,669 attendees to 11,502, while the number of full show badges ($75 onsite) went from 6,444 in 2010 to 6,545 in 2011. The number of day passes went from 4,225 to 4,957. (Statistics are from the Origins Game Fair website.)

NB: For 2012 and 2013, the dates for Origins are changing to May, specifically May 30 – June 3, 2012 and May 29 – June 2, 2013. These dates land in the school year for many people, possibly causing problems for people with children, university students, and teachers. If you would like to voice a concern, be sure to fill out the 2012 Date Change Survey. Scroll down to the bottom for the survey. More on this in Origins 2011 - Part 2.

Ribbons

Since my 2010 Origins article went down with Boardgame News (Whoops! —WEM), I'm going to repeat a little of what was written, plus I'm sure there are some "newbies" here who may not have seen the article at all. Such a shame! It was awesome. (Insert winking, grinning smiley here.) Okay, so what are ribbons and how do they work? They are actual physical ribbons in various colors that are stuck on badges, usually along the bottom. They typically have foil lettering on the front identifying the type.

The cost of event ribbons went up, from $16 last year to $20 this year. These ribbons allow access to all events covered by the corresponding ribbon. These should not be confused by the "fun" ribbons given out or sold at the convention, or the ribbons used for participating in the Mayfair Ribbon Quest. Nor should they be confused with the ones given to Guests, Press, Educators, and any number of other special attendees. All-in-all, there are quite a lot of ribbons. I have seen kids walking around with ribbons hanging from their badges down to the floor. Likely a tripping hazard, but what do I know – I don't have kids.

Here is a list of the event type ribbons:

1. Amtgard – unlimited play in the Amtgard boffer combat area (I have no idea what that means)
2. Big Experiment – access to all Looney Labs events (except in 2012 they are adding a separate "Are You a Werewolf" ribbon)
3. Board Room – access to the Board [Game] Room (The "must have" ribbon!)
4. HOT – access to all historical miniature events
5. Mayfair – access to the Mayfair Games room, including all scheduled events and tournaments
6. Origins After Dark – access to the Origins After Dark events. Events began at 6 p.m. each evening; geared towards the 18-and-over crowd
7. Puffing Billy – access to Puffing Billy train game events and tournament qualifiers
8. War College – access to the War College seminars
9. War Room (Ending 2011) – same as the Board Room except for war games. Starting in 2012, this ribbon will be merged into the Board Room ribbon, i.e., war games will be available in the Board Room
10. Werewolf (Beginning 2012) – $10, access to Looney Labs "Are You a Werewolf" events

Board Room

Started in 2006, the Board [Game] Room continues to be very popular. CABS (Columbus Area Boardgaming Society) is the host. For 2011 it was moved to Exhibit Hall F, behind Exhibit Hall E, with access from Exhibit Hall D (the open gaming, board games, and miniatures hall). I can't say I'm enamored with the location; it's quite a hike to get back there. Good thing I brought my Skechers Shape-ups(TM). At least the added exercise helped me to wear off the overabundance of yummy food I ate while attending Origins (see the "Food" section below). It may be all hype, but I'm willing to believe.

My Skechers Shape-ups, like walking on a cloud (Photo from Skechers website)

The Board Room ribbon ($20) gives attendees access to the huge CABS library of games. This year's library contained 1,018 games. Over the course of five days, there were 1,720 checkouts: Wednesday 328, Thursday 373, Friday 449, Saturday 491, Sunday 79. A total of 479 different games were checked out.

Top fifteen breakdown:
Dominion (checked out more than twice as often as second place!)
Innovation
Agricola
Dominion: Prosperity
Dominion: Intrigue
• Tie between Small World and Can't Stop
• Tie between The Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne
• Tie between 7 Wonders and Alien Frontiers
• Tie between Power Grid and Tichu
Code 777
Twilight Struggle

I'm sure the only reason Tichu was not at the top was because most players bring their own decks! For comparison, the top thirteen games checked out in 2010, starting with most popular, were: Dominion, Dominion: Intrigue, Innovation, a tie between Stone Age and Carson City, a tie between Lost Cities and Power Grid Factory Manager, a tie between Power Grid and Small World, and a tie between Fresco, Race for the Galaxy, Agricola, and Founding Fathers.

Quarriors! in the Board Room, slightly over-acted

Again this year, every ribbon holder received a free game. I am not sure how many companies donated; I couldn't get a list this time. I did see the following games go by though: The Heavens of Olympus, Chicago Express expansion, Mousquetaires du Roy, Asteroyds, Black Friday, and Priests of Ra.

There was some snafu regarding the ribbons. CABS was not selling them this year, and they were available only at registration. For some reason, Origins ran out of ribbons fairly early. I'm not sure why this happened; they sold out last year so they should have been ready. Some other ribbon was substituted but I heard that there were issues with these such as the guard for the room didn't recognize them as valid and neither did the CABS people giving out the games. Hopefully next year things will run more smoothly.

Board Games Room and Origins Awards Games

The Board Games room in Exhibit Hall D (not to be confused with the Board Room, run by CABS) usually has lots of stuff going on with a large space for open gaming. Some companies run demos in there, for example, this year WizKids was showing Star Trek: Expeditions. Table Top gaming events are run in there; these are ticketed events generally run by a GM (Game Master) and listed in the Origins Event Guide. Note: You may download an Excel spread sheet of Table Top events from the Origins website. You might also find a few giant games to play as well.


In an unprecedented move, this year GAMA made available all the games to be voted upon, during Origins, for the 37th Annual Origins Awards. The games were available for checkout in the open gaming area of the Board Games room. Voting was also moved to the front of this hall. In the past the games were simply displayed in a glass showcase. Attendees still received one vote. I am not sure whether this solved one of the biggest problems, in my opinion, with voting in the past: Vendors who had a game nominated would hand out ballots in their booths in the exhibit hall and ask attendees to fill them out, voting for their game. I saw this happen successfully three times. At least this is a step in the right direction.

Rio Grande Games Room

Another ribbon was required here, but this one was FREE! Actually they ran out of ribbons but no one was turned away. Over 1,000 attendees visited the room. The Rio Grande Games room was upstairs, across from the Exhibit Hall D. It was a little tricky to find but they put banners around to direct attendees. It was very well organized, with several friendly representatives available to teach a variety of Rio Grande games. (Over 20 different games were available.) The room held about 25 to 30 tables and was open roughly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Snacks were available a couple times a day. The room did fill up – there was even a line Saturday evening.

For 2012 the Rio Grande Games room will be on the first floor across from the exhibit halls so it should be easier to find. Likely it will be the former location of the Big Experiment. Looney Labs told me it would be canceling the Big Experiment in 2012 due to the date change as the publisher lost most of its student volunteers.

Auction

This year GAMA (Game Manufacturers Association) ran the auction. In the past it had been run by Troll and Toad. It was done in two parts: a silent auction and a live auction. Bidding was free, although bidders had to register for the live auction in order to participate. Sellers were charged a registration fee of $1 per item for each type of auction. The website listed a 15% commission on the sale price as well, but it is unclear whether it was on all auction items or just on the live auction items.

Unfortunately there was no consignment shop this year. This was my favorite part of the auction area. The regular auction takes too much time to sit through, so I rarely go to it. (There's no set schedule for items.) I emailed John Ward, the Executive Director for GAMA, about why it was discontinued but did not receive a reply. Hopefully he'll read this and reply in the comments. My only guess is that GAMA sees the silent auction as a replacement. If anyone participated in the silent auction, please leave a comment and let us know how it went!

Food

One of my favorite topics: FOOD! If you aren't already acquainted with the North Market, located about a block from the convention center, it is the place to eat lunch during Origins. The second floor has seating all round the open middle, which looks down on the main floor. There are picnic tables out front. If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending), there may be live music outside.

View from the second floor of the North Market

There is also a room with a studio kitchen, called The Dispatch Kitchen, where food editor Robin Davis' weekly cooking segments are filmed for WBNS-10TV Columbus. This is also where they hold their School of Cooking Series classes.

Sadly, my favorite stop for lunch, Barry's New York Deli, has closed. It had been sold (over a year ago) and was no longer run by Barry's family. This year I ended up at Tom Vasel's favorite deli, Heil's Family Deli instead.

Heil's Family Deli – you can just barely see the owner, Alex, peeking out from above the large display case near the customer

The Reuben sandwich is huge and quite tasty, although I wish they could grill it. (It is served warm, but I don't think they have a grill.) Check out the photo below. I don't drink Mtn Dew – a friend put it there as a size reference. Another friend (Bob!) put the red bull in front; it's especially helpful I'm sure. You can see a photo of Bob playing Quarriors! earlier in the article – he's the one on the far right.

Heil's Family Deli Rueben and farm fresh deviled eggs

This year a friend helped me to "branch out" by trying the big dogs at Best of the Wurst. The hot dog was pretty darn good. I even went back later in the week for another. I also tried the pork and beef BBQ at Holy Smoke. The portions are huge. (Good thing I had someone with whom to share it!) They offer a variety of sauces, from mild to super hot.

I love love love Taste of Belgium – not only for their deliciously sweet Belgian waffles but also for their crêpes. (At rush hour it may take a while to get your crêpe since they make them up fresh.) The waffles are thick and almost as sweet as a cookie, chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. They are best when served still warm off the griddle. You may add chocolate, strawberries and/or whipped cream toppings too! Mmmmmmmmm waffles.

Taste of Belgium waffles <wipes up drool>

If you want to be really decadent, try a scoop of ice cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams on top of your Belgian waffle. My favorite is the Dark Chocolate. I took some video while walking around, both from above and on the main floor. Warning: You may want to eat something before watching.

Here's a quick tour of the North Market with a few stops at my favorite places

The Dice Tower Annual Dinner

Once again, listeners, hosts, co-hosts, and contributors of The Dice Tower podcast converged upon Max & Erma's restaurant for dinner. We pretty much take over the downstairs dining room every year. Of course I had one of my favorites, the Tortilla Soup (an excuse to eat lots of cheese in bowl; hey, there are a few veggies and some chicken thrown in). Of course we ordered the literally hot-off-the-cookie-sheet macadamia nut cookies. Um. Where's the cookie sheet? And the cookies were cold! We asked our waiter to explain and learned that someone either burned themselves on the hot cookies or the hot cookie sheet. Why do stupi… uh, certain people have to spoil things for others? Our waiter brought out replacement plate of cookies hot-off-the-cookie-sheet (minus the cookie sheet). He got a big tip.

Stay tuned for more Origins in Part Deux!
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Sun Dec 4, 2011 6:30 am
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Ludo Fact Tour: How Games Are Made

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Editor's note: This article first ran on BoardgameNews.com on Feb. 11, 2009. —WEM

Have you ever wondered how board games are made? This article will give you a glimpse into the making of many popular board games, including the products of Rio Grande Games, Kosmos, Abacusspiele, and Amigo Spiel.

After attending the Spiel game convention in Essen, Germany in October 2008, my husband Snoozefest (a.k.a. Ravindra Prasad) and I stayed in Germany to travel around. A friend of ours, Tom Hilgert, kindly arranged for us to tour Ludo Fact GmbH and Ludo Packt GmbH – those being, respectively, a game production company and a logistics firm that manages the inventory and shipping of games. The tour took place on November 7, 2008. Our tour guide, Gertrud Geiger, sales leader at Ludo Fact, did a fantastic job explaining how the factory works.


Facts, Facts and More Facts

Ludo Fact is located in Jettingen-Scheppach, Germany about 25 miles from Augsburg, a city you may remember seeing on the game board of Thurn and Taxis – a game which was likely made at Ludo Fact. Owner and President Mr. Horst Walz started the company in 1995, taking the name from Latin: Ludo from "ludere" (play) and Fact from "facere" (make). Mr. Walz wanted the name to reflect his main business, the production of game boxes and playing material.

Assembly line, boxing up the game inserts and pieces

Today Ludo Fact can produce 2,500 game boxes per hour, per assembly line, with some variability depending on the number of components in the games. This production rate results in an average of 40-50,000 units per day, and over the course of a year, the company produces somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million games and puzzles. Its busiest season is from August to February when employees often work six days a week. The company employs about 170 staff members, with 30 or so in the offices (sales, purchasing, planning, etc.) and around 140 in production. Those numbers may fluctuate depending on the season. Currently, approximately 100 publishers from roughly 20 countries put their trust in Ludo Fact, and Ludo Fact plans to increase these numbers in 2009. (Whew! I was running out of ways to say "approximately.")

Fun Fact: When a game wins the Spiel des Jahres (Germany's "Game of the Year" award), the publisher must be able to quickly produce hundreds of thousands of games. Ludo Fact has been able to meet these requirements to the satisfaction of their clients.

Ludo Fact is a full-service company, producing game boxes, game boards, puzzles, and die-cut punchboards, in addition to purchasing game components (e.g., wooden cubes, pawns, cards) from all over the world to be included in games as needed by its clients. This gives customers "one-stop" shopping convenience and the ease of one point of contact for everything from determining prices to nailing down a delivery schedule.

Once the games or puzzles have been boxed up, they are handed over to Ludo Packt, a logistics company established in 2000. The Ludo Packt warehouse can store as many as 15,000 pallets and fills about 20 trucks a day. During its peak season, the company ships at least two containers a week just to the USA; a 40 ft. (12.19 m.) container can hold about 26 pallets (6.56 ft. high/2 m.), or if filled only with game boxes (i.e. with no wooden pallets), about 40 pallets. (More on pallets later.)

Ludo Packt offers clients state-of-the-art web access from which they may generate dispatch orders, as well as view their stock availability and dispatch information. The company also provides special services such as supplying shop-floor ready displays directly to the client's retail customers or adding promotional material, display holders, and other items to their shipments for trade fairs.

Fun Fact: Rio Grande Games alone ships 30-35 containers a year with about 40 pallets in each container.

The Process

Ludo Fact receives printed paper and cardboard from outside sources. These are fed into machines specifically made for gluing and will eventually become box tops, box bottoms, game boards, puzzles, or game pieces.

Stacks of cardboard and printed papers await gluing

Large customized dies are used to cut cardboard – after it has been glued – into game pieces or puzzles.

Dies for cutting cardboard pieces

Close-up of the die used for cutting Elfengold

Some of the boards will be partially or fully punched out in order to fit into game boxes. Below you can see Ubongo boards as they come off the die-cutting machine. Of course the game boxes are not that big!

Stacks of Ubongo boards, off the die-cutting machine

Different machines are used for making boxes, depending on their size. I've included a shot of the small game box production machine with some of the cases of papers in the background. The machines for making box tops and bottoms do both the gluing and assembling so that a full box top or bottom comes out of the machine.

Small box production machine; can you spot Bohnanza, No Thanks, Rage, Hornochsen, and Hick Hack in Gackelwack?

Empty boxes are stacked until they can be assembled with game pieces, inserts, and rules. Note the workers assembling a game in the photo near the beginning of the article.

Empty boxes of Zicke Zacke Hühnerkacke, Giants, Metro and other games

Once the games have been put together, and the lids put on, they are shrink-wrapped. Here is the same game from the assembly line going into shrink. Can anyone identify the game?

Into the shrink-wrap machine!

Next the games are stacked and placed into corrugated cardboard boxes. Here's that same mystery game.

Placing games into the corrugated cardboard boxes

The corrugated boxes are in turn stacked on a pallet (the wooden base) and put into another machine that wraps them for shipping. Pallets vary in size from about 4.27 to 6.56 feet (1.3 to 2 meters) for UK and the U.S.

Pallets of boxes, ready to go out

Some pallets are loaded onto trucks while others are placed into temporary storage racks. Note the worker in the truck, near the bottom right of the photo – this will give you an idea of just how tall those racks are!

Pallets in temporary storage, waiting to be shipped

Ludo Packt will ship all sizes of boxes, even single games. You can see some of the smaller items in storage at the bottom of the racks in this next photo.

Rows of boxes and pallets in storage. Can I just have one box? As a souvenir??

I want to thank Tom Hilgert for arranging the tour, Gertrud Geiger for being our tour guide and for providing most of the information in this article, and Jay Tummelson for providing additional information when my memory failed me!

My husband Ravindra Prasad and our friend Tom Hilgert outside Ludo Fact, empty-handed...
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Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:30 am
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Highlights of BGG.Con 2010

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Note: This report was delayed first due to the demise of Boardgame News, then due to personal issues – still, I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures at BGG.Con 2010!

2010 was the sixth year of the BoardGameGeek Convention or BGG.Con, which was held once again at the Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport hotel, November 17-21, 2010, now five days long instead of four! Attendance was about 1100, up from the previous year's 925. This pretty much maxed out the current space. BGG.Con is set to move to the Hyatt Regency in 2012, allowing them to expand membership once again. In 2011, though, it will be held at the same hotel, the aforementioned Westin, November 16-20. Unfortunately for those of you who want a ticket for 2011 but have not yet purchased one, BGG.Con 2011 sold out in only five days! There is a waiting list for tickets.

Typically there is a long line for registration but it moves fairly quickly. Well, technically there are two lines, dividing the alphabet by last name. Check out my short video of BGG.Con registration, which although less than five minutes long, took me around ten hours to put it together (thanks to having to reinstall/upgrade iMovie and having to relearn the interface, ugh).



This year attendees were required to wear wristbands. There is a shot of one in the video above; look for Michelle Alden as the lovely model. These were not a fan favorite. Some people were able to talk registration volunteers into allowing them to attach their wristbands to their badges or lanyards but this will not be allowed in the future.

John Boone posted this humorous photo on BGG

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Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:30 am
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