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Game Previews from GAMA Expo 2020 II: Crazy Tower, Color It!, 5er Finden, Aqualin, and Flash 8

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
I've been posting more game overview videos from GAMA Expo 2020 on our BGG Express YouTube channel, with those videos popping up on their respective BGG game pages as well, but let me highlight a few of those titles in this space, specifically five titles that each play in twenty minutes or less. Why? Because when possible I find it more interesting to make a connection between all the titles I'm writing about, and we have a decent number of videos already published in our GAMA Expo 2020 playlist, so I can make it happen in this case.

• We already recorded an overview of Aqualin from Marcello Bertocchi and KOSMOS at Spielwarenmesse 2020, but at GAMA we have a three-camera set-up that lets us do an overhead shot, which seems like a better way to present this type of game.





• Similarly, we had shot an overview of Color It! from Lena and Günter Burkhardt and HABA in Nürnberg, but the set-up at that publisher's booth during Spielwarenmesse was not ideal, so I wanted a do-over — and since I'm the one who booked the livestream schedule, I made it happen.





Color It! is one of two roll-and-write games that HABA USA plans to release at Gen Con 2020, with the other being 5er Finden from Jürgen P. Grunau. Color It! is aimed at players as young as four, while 5er Finden is for (somewhat) older players, with everyone racing to spot patterns on their individual game board depending on what's rolled on the dice.





Crazy Tower has four credited designers — Alexis Harvey, Félix Leblanc, Manuel-Lucas Bergeron Duhamel, and Mathieu Auger — and is for up to four players. Coincidence?! (Yes, probably.)

I demoed the game on camera with Carl from Synapses Games, and I can imagine that the four-player game would become quite intense given how quickly our two-player demo ratcheted up the tension.





• After seeing this overview of Flash 8, Christian Lemay of publisher Scorpion Masque asked whether this was the shortest overview video we ever recorded. We have had shorter ones, but I think those were teaser vids that didn't cover the gameplay. Here we cover everything you need to know in just over two minutes, thanks partly to my habit of talking possibly too quickly when recording overview videos...

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Solitaire Sunday: Lunar Landing and Gecko

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
From gallery of W Eric Martin
I don't normally cover logic puzzles in this space — logic puzzles not being games and all that — but with folks spending more time in their residences these days and not able to gather with others in one location for games, I thought I'd start covering a logic puzzle now and then in case you're looking for other ways to challenge your mind.

The first two videos in my "Solitaire Sunday" series are now live, with the first covering a puzzle, Lunar Landing, that I've owned and solved and shared many times since I first bought it in 2000 and the second covering a plane-worthy title, Gecko, that you're not likely to be solving in a plane any time soon.



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Links: Leacock on Pandemic in Today's World, Tales of Tricks Taken, and Nominees for the 2020 Origins Awards

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Pandemic
• To follow up on my post of March 14, 2020, Pandemic was in the news again thanks to an opinion column by designer Matt Leacock in the March 25, 2020 New York Times titled "No Single Player Can Win This Board Game. It's Called Pandemic." Here's an excerpt:
Quote:
My hope is that Pandemic can provide a model for us in this time of crisis. We don't all have to be globe-trotting heroes to do our part. We each have special skills and should use them to make the city and statewide lockdowns safer and easier to bear. We need to communicate effectively, reach out to our friends and loved ones — as well as ensure that whatever we share on social media is based on facts.

We need to cooperate, look after our older neighbors and find ways to work from home wherever possible. And we need to coordinate and share ideas for keeping the kids entertained, for helping others obtain hard-to-get supplies and for supporting health care workers on the front lines. It's going to take serious collective action and sacrifice to slow the spread of the virus. It's heartening to see organizations, individuals and some government leaders step up.
• This headline from a February 7, 2020 article in the Wisconsin State Journal tells you almost everything you need to know: "GOP state senator wants legislative pages to stop playing 'Secret Hitler' at work".

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Due to all the hubbub that's followed GAMA Expo 2020, I've only just now realized that I never posted the nominees for the 2020 Origins Awards, nominees that were revealed during that show. Titles released between Nov. 15, 2018 and Nov. 14, 2019 were eligible for consideration, with a jury of forty industry professionals determining the nominees, which are:

Board Game Category
Cloudspire, Chip Theory Games
Colors of Paris, Super Meeple
Guardian's Call, Druid City Games / Skybound Games
PARKS, Keymaster Games
Prêt-à-Porter, Portal Games
Red Alert: Space Fleet Warfare, PSC Games
Tonari, IDW Games
Tricky Tides, Gold Seal Games / Zafty Games

Card Game Category
Cogs and Comissars, Atlas Games
DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth, Cryptozoic Entertainment
Embers of Memory: A Throne of Glass Game, Osprey Games
Kamigami Battles: River of Souls, Japanime Games
Lockup: A Roll Player Tale, Thunderworks Games
Shuffle Grand Prix, Bicycle
UNDO: Cherry Blossom Festival, Pegasus Spiele

Family Games Category
ClipCut Parks, Renegade Game Studios
Code Stack! , AMIGO Games
Dirty Pig, North Star Games
Draftosaurus, Ankama Boardgames
Finger Guns at High Noon, Indie Boards and Cards

Historical Game Category
Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel (3rd edition), Academy Games
Pandemic: Fall of Rome, Z-Man Games
U-BOOT: The Board Game, Ares Games
Watergate, Capstone Games

Miniatures Game Category
Gaslands: Refuelled, Osprey Games
Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, Renegade Game Studios
Reality's Edge: Cyberpunk Skirmish Rules, Osprey Games
Riot Quest, Privateer Press
Warcry, Games Workshop

These nominees can be viewed and demoed during Origins Game Fair 2020 — assuming that the show takes place, of course — with the winner of each category being determined by The Academy of Adventure Gaming and Arts and announced on June 20, 2020. Origins attendees can vote for their "fan favorite" in each category through the Origins Game Fair app during the show, and GAMA members will vote upon the "Game of the Year" via a digital survey.

Board Game: Monster Trick
• In January 2020 on Opinionated Gamers, James Nathan recounted the events (from his perspective) of T6, a.k.a. "That Terrific Trick-Taking Thing Two", during which he played dozens of trick-taking games, including many Japanese releases and older titles that few people will have on their "must play" lists. An excerpt:
Quote:
One of the categories I got to add [to my spreadsheet of trick-taking games] was "may have more than 1 unresolved trick". What a category! I had only known of 1 game that would fit such a category, but am not letting myself add a column until at least 2 games necessitate it. Now this category has 6!

That's how I knew I wanted to try Stichling. The game is played over 3 rounds, and in each round the players get 3 cards each that will grant points based on the modulus of how many tricks they win. That is, you arrange the cards in a certain order, and when you win one trick, you flip over the first card. If you win a second, you flip over the second card, and the first goes face down. The same process happens with the third trick, but for the fourth, you'll flip the third card face down, and the first will be face up again.

The game can have up to 4 simultaneous tricks, and for much of the game, you cannot not follow suit. That is, if you don't have a purple card, you can't play a green card to a purple trick if there is another trick available to play it to, or you have room to start a new one. Players use a wooden disc in their color to mark tricks they're winning, but otherwise don't track who played which card. Tricks resolve when 4 cards have been played, and as there's no bookkeeping of who played which card, it may be that one player contributed more than one or even all of the cards to a single trick.
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Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:00 pm
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Duel Anew in Bohnanza to Celebrate Uwe Rosenberg's Birthday

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Bohnanza: The Duel
To celebrate designer Uwe Rosenberg's fiftieth birthday, German publisher AMIGO has released a deluxe edition of Bohnanza: Das Duell. Here's an excerpt from the press release announcing this item:
Quote:
In autumn 1995, Uwe Rosenberg presented the idea for the Bohnanza card game to AMIGO for the first time. Twenty-five years and numerous extensions later, Bohnanza is still an integral part of the AMIGO program. Thus, Uwe Rosenberg not only made his breakthrough as a game designer with Bohnanza in the 1990s, the bean game has accompanied him for half his life.

With this birthday edition of its two-player version of Bohnanza, the game publisher is fulfilling a very special birthday wish for Uwe Rosenberg.
Board Game: Bohnanza: The Duel

In case you're not already familiar with the game, here's how it works:
Quote:
Give as good as you get in Bohnanza: The Duel!

What was that thing about the gift horse? In this two-player variant of Bohnanza, both bean farmers give each other gifts of beans they can't use themselves — to make life harder for their opponent, if possible. Trying to fulfill their secret "bo(h)nus" requirements, they both need to keep a vigilant eye on the other player's bean fields.

In more detail, both duelists have bean field mats in front of themselves on which to plant their beans. Between them is a row of eight gift cards. Each player holds five hand cards and three "bo(h)nus cards" with secret objectives. In this game, you have the option of planting more than one type of bean in the same field, but when you plant a different bean than the one you've planted previously, this new bean type must be the next highest number. When harvesting your beans, the beanometer of the card you've most recently planted is what counts.

Board Game: Bohnanza: The Duel

At the start of each turn, the active player plants two beans from their hand, then reveals bean cards from the deck as usual. Instead of trading, however, they offer their opponent one bean as a gift by pushing this bean type's gift card in their direction. The other player can accept the gift or decline it, but if they don't take it, they have to offer a gift in return. You are allowed to bluff, but it may cost you if your bluff is called! Important: Only the first player to accept a gift actually receives the bean card in question. After this exchange, plant all beans you have received and turned over, then draw new cards. "Bo(h)nus" cards can be fulfilled at any time when the required combination of beans printed on the card can be found in any bean field. Fulfilling an objective earns you bean dollars and the brand new bean cents. When the draw pile is used up, the player with the most bean dollars wins.
This deluxe edition of Bohnanza: The Duel replaces the gift cards with a game board and gift tokens. This edition also contains newly designed bean fields and bonus cards.
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Fri Mar 27, 2020 4:32 pm
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New Game Round-up: Bounce on a Trampoline, Answer Questions About Food, and Command the Gates of Mara

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Gates of Mara
I'm not sure what's going to happen in terms of release dates for announced games — probably no one does is at this point — but I have info on several games on open tabs, so let's write them up to unburden that browser.

WizKids has announced an October 2020 release date for Gates of Mara from J.B. Howell, designer and co-designer respectively of the 2019 releases Reavers of Midgard and Flotilla. Gates of Mara is for 2-4 players with a playing time of 90-180 minutes and a US$70 MSRP. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
Quote:
Lead your tribe to the Gates of Mara, portals to realms of pure elemental energy. Encounter powerful elemental lords, manipulate intricate economies, and summon colorful magic. Vie for the most influence in each realm so you can establish your tribal claims.

Gates of Mara blends upgradeable worker placement with layered area-control mechanisms, all brought to life by the art of Nastya Lehn. You can lead reptilian dragonkin, the amphibious goblins, the insectoid antids, or the arboreal elves.

Strategically position your tribe members around the realms and gates. Enchant your tribe members to give them new abilities. Compete for short-term objectives, but keep your eyes on your influence. Only the player with the most influence can lay claim to the Gates of Mara!
Board Game: Match Up! Food
Board Game: Match Up! Travel
Match Up! Food and Match Up! Travel are a pair of party games from designers Joël Gagnon and M.eve and Canadian publisher Randolph, which first released these titles in French in 2018 as Links Cuisine and Links Voyage. ("Randolph" is the publishing brand of the Randolph Gaming Pub, which opened in Montréal in 2012.)

Both games play as follows, with only the topics of the cards differing:
Quote:
Match Up! Food is a co-operative trivia game in which players team up to find the key amongst the 50 cards that feature unique food art.

Together, players link all 49 clue cards to the 50 word cards. They then discover whether the remaining, unlinked word card is the key to their victory, validating its code with the answer card to know whether they've won the game!

Board Game: Match Up! Food

Match Up! Food offers five levels of difficulty in the game as well as a competitive mode for those who want it.
Match Up! Food and Match Up! Travel will be distributed in the U.S. by Asmodee North America at some point in 2020.

Board Game: Trampoline Park
• I'm not sure how I first became aware of Trampoline Park from Hassan Hekmat and Iranian publisher Soren Game Studio — a title that's held a tab open since January 2020 — but I would guess that I saw the cover image pass through GeekMod, and said, "Hmm, I should find out what else that company has done", and now it's late March. Hmm.

I see that Soren's 2018 release Color Match is also in the BGG database, but not Conqueror or Business Intelligence. (A note from the publisher to one of the BGG admins mentions that a second edition of Color Match will be released at SPIEL '20, which suggests optimism on the visa front since many Iranian publishers were denied entry to Germany ahead of SPIEL '19 — not to mention optimism on the medical front. Anyway...)

Here's a rough overview of the game, which the back cover helps to make clearer in both visuals and text:
Quote:
Trampoline Park is played over several rounds. At the beginning of each round, the top playing tokens from the piles go to the jumping points placed around the game board. The youngest player starts the game, then players take turns in clockwise order. From the jumping point, a playing token moves based on how much energy the player puts into the jump; land on a space with another player's token, and you bounce them elsewhere.

After all players have had a turn, the referee token goes to the next jumping point in clockwise order, then the top playing tokens again go to the jumping points and players take their turns in order again. If a playing token remains at a jumping point, the new token is placed behind the previous one to create an entrance line.

Board Game: Trampoline Park

As soon as a player manages to be on three tiles of the same colors or the same letter, they reveal their card and win. Since you don't know the other players' colors, you might do something which accidentally helps another player win, so bounce with care!
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Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:00 pm
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COVID-19 at the Gaming Table IV: Delayed Releases, Free Games, and a Print-and-Play Design Contest

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
• U.S. publisher Renegade Game Studios has announced that it "will be suspending shipments of website and wholesale orders" as of March 24, 2020. More from the announcement:
Quote:
Renegade's future release calendar is being reevaluated and we will be delaying new releases until our retail partners are back and able to open safely. Our distribution partners have informed us that they will also be ceasing operation for a time. We feel this is absolutely the right call for everyone involved. The sooner we can come together and take these difficult steps the sooner we can move forward together.

During this time Renegade will continue to work on new games. We will continue to engage with you, our fans, through our various social media channels. We're exploring new ways to have fun together online and make the most of the situation. Most of the Renegade staff works remotely so for most of us this is not a major change to our routine.

Many of our staff have families and added responsibilities now that schools are closed. I would ask that you keep that in mind when contacting us thru customer service or any other channels of communication. Rest assured that we are working and will attend to your needs as quickly as possible.
Those last two paragraphs apply to the BGG staff as well since we pretty much all work independently at home, yet many of us now have youngsters sharing that space, which increases the time required for most tasks by 50%.

• Similarly Fireside Games is delaying the release of the party game Stringamajig — a smart choice given that you need 4-10 players as explained in this demo video from GAMA Expo 2020 — and delaying the launch of its Kickstarter campaign for Castle Panic Deluxe.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
• The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has an online document that catalogs (mostly U.S.-based) game publishers that are offering to share a portion of each online sale through their own websites with a brick-and-mortar store named by the buyer at the time of purchase.

(Some vendors on that list mention that they are honoring a "GAMA Expo show special". What this refers to is a special offer from that publisher to both brick-and-mortar retailers who attended GAMA Expo 2020 and those who cancelled their trips and failed to attend. Publishers don't want to punish retailers for worrying about the safety of their staff, so they're offering these special deals regardless. As for whether those stores are open and can take advantage of such offers, well, that's another story...)

Board Game: Fou Fou Fou !
Board Game: Mr Lister's Quiz Shootout
• If you're looking for games to play at home, French publisher KYF Edition has released an English-language print-and-play version (link) of Fou Fou Fou!, a game by Corentin Lebrat and Théo Rivière in which you just have to follow the rules on the cards in order not to lose points, with more and more rules entering play over the course of the game and with you being ejected should you lose your third point.

Pierô, who is co-owner of KYF Edition, says that more than ten thousand copies of the game have been sold in France since September 2019, but no English-language edition is forthcoming and folks have been asking for one, so they decided to release this file for now: "The only purpose here is to bring 10-15 minutes of laughs and good times in family when people can't go out."

• Similarly, UK publisher Big Potato has released a print-and-play version (PDF) of its 2015 party game Mr Lister's Quiz Shootout, which is currently out of print.

Board Game: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
Board Game: Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North
• Polish publisher Portal Games is also going the "stay at home" route by offering a Detective: Suburbia scenario (PDF) that provides everything you need to play the game, regardless of whether you own the Detective base game, and three solo scenarios for Empires of the North that you can play with any clan (PDF).

This is only the start of free goodies from Portal Games during this time: "Check out this page tomorrow! We're preparing even more awesome content to entertain you. Take care and stay safe! #stayathome"

• Eduardo Baraf of Pencil First Games is sponsoring a "stay at home" game design contest, with the games having at most four pages of rules, embodying a positive theme, and being available as a print-and-play release so that folks practicing social distancing can make the game for themselves. Submissions can sent from April 15-30, 2020. Details in this video and the notes below the video:

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Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:00 pm
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Battling Overlords and Exploring Coral Reefs at GAMA Expo 2020

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
While I love me some heavy games that I can get lost in for several hours, I also love games that I can play in under an hour. At the game nights during GAMA Expo 2020, I kept stumbling upon games that played in 30-45 minutes. This was awesome because I could squeeze more games in before they turned the lights out on us at midnight. If only we had candles or broke out our cell phone flashlights to keep playing... (Noted for next year!)

Here are two more games I played (on top of Fort, Festo!, and Downforce: Wild Ride, which I covered here) that are worth sharing:

Coralia is a deep sea dice-placement game for 2-4 players from designer Michael Rieneck that's published by HUCH! and R&R Games. In Coralia, players compete to score the most victory points by placing custom dice representing diving robots into thriving coral reefs to collect different sets of cards, tiles, and victory points.

Board Game: Coralia

At first glance, I couldn't help but notice the sea of the vibrant colored dice and ocean-themed game board featuring beautiful art by Miguel Coimbra. Coimbra's art is no stranger to the board game community as it's recognizable from such hits as 7 Wonders, Small World, and Cyclades.

In Coralia, each player starts their turn by drafting a die from the main dice pool to add to the three existing dice from the previous player's turn; then they'll roll all four dice and choose one to place for their action. (The game comes with a nifty research station dice roller that adds to the theme, but also helps keep the dice contained and not rolling all over the place.) The player chooses a die and places it on an open space matching the symbol in the matching colored coral reef. There's also an island you can place dice on if all spots are blocked or if you choose to, so you're never stuck without options even as spaces on the board fill up. Here's a summary of the actions and how each scores:

(1) If you place a pearl, draw two cards from the pearl card deck and place them face down in front of you. At the end of the game, you score 1-4 of your pearl cards depending on how many cards you've collected compared to your opponents.

(2) If you place a fish, draw two cards from the fish card deck and keep one placed face down in front of you. At the end of the game, you score points for sets of different types of fish.

From gallery of candidrum

(3) If you place a starfish, draw three cards from the starfish card deck and keep one placed face down in front of you. At the end of the game, starfish cards give you victory points or other bonuses depending on the outcome of the game.

(4) If you place an octopus, place your octopus meeple on top of the die. Then for each die placed on this reef, you score 1 victory point. During the game, the owner of an already-placed octopus earns additional points each time an additional octopus is placed on a different reef. This is one of the only ways to score points during the game as most scoring happens at game's end.

(5) If you place a turtle, take the corresponding turtle tile, which gives you an immediate bonus. Then flip the turtle tile on its die storage side, which allows you to lock in a die result before rolling all four dice at the start of future turns.

(6) If you place a diver, place your diver on the board or on top of the corresponding die; if your diver has already been placed on a reef, you can relocate it to a different reef and pick up a treasure tile (if available). At the end of the game, each die placed on the diver's reef gives the owner of the diver victory points.

I was pleasantly surprised with the number of decisions Coralia packs compared to it being a lightweight in terms of complexity. Yes, Coralia is a dice game and yes, you will be rolling dice, but the overall luck factor felt considerably low considering how many different paths you have for scoring points. In the game I played, there were no "bad" dice rolls; everyone generally had plenty of different choices each turn.

I also like the fact that the fish, pearl and starfish cards all have the same back so it's not obvious how many pearl cards each player has; you have to pay attention and decide whether that majority is worth fighting for. Overall, Coralia is a fun, light game with a slew of decisions and a 30-35 minute average playtime. You can easily break it out with family, non-gamers, or even heavier gamers looking for something lighter to play with a decent number of decisions.

Board Game: Enchanters: Overlords
• I also checked out Rafał Cywicki's Enchanters: Overlords by GIndie, which is a standalone expansion for the fantasy card-drafting game Enchanters.

In Enchanters: Overlords, 2-4 players are heroes crafting a magical artifact to aid in battling monsters, dragons, and powerful overlords to defend the village and gain the most glory points!

I was able to quickly jump into an Enchanters: Overlords game due to the fast set-up and teach time, with us questing within five minutes of sitting down at the table with three new players. Enchanters has a ton of content and a variable set-up in which you choose a village card, an overlord card, and a kingdom deck per player, with those cards then shuffled to form the adventure deck for each game. Enchanters: Overlords includes six kingdom decks, six villages, and six overlords, so plenty of different combinations are available for play. If you have the base game or any other expansions, you can mix those cards in for even more variety.

The "journey track", i.e., the card market where most of the action happens, is filled with six cards from the adventure deck. On your turn, you're going to either journey or rest. When you take the journey action, you can acquire item and enchantment cards to upgrade your artifact or fight monsters or dragons. The first card on the journey track is free, but additional spaces have an increased crystal cost.

From gallery of candidrum

Each player starts with a "fist" item card and an "of enchanting" enchantment card that forms your weak starting artifact. When you acquire an item or enchantment card, you stack it on your existing cards, in most cases revealing some attack or defense values which you'll need to build up to combat monsters and dragons to score glory points. The visible attack and defense icons determine the current strength of your artifact. As a fun and clever bonus, each time you upgrade your artifact with new item and enchantment cards, you create new combos that each have a little description you're encouraged to read aloud. As an example, the description of my "Short Sword of Fire" combo in the photo below reads, "Still a sword, but almost a dagger that...burns in a fiery ring of fire." (You may need to zoom in to see the small italicized text.)

From gallery of candidrum

Combat with monsters and dragons is pretty straightforward when you choose a monster/dragon card from the journey track. Each monster/dragon has a strength value and health points. First, the enemy attacks you, giving wounds if their strength is greater than your defense level. There's no limit to the number of wounds a player can take, but each is worth a negative point at game's end. Then the player attacks the enemy and must have an attack value that equals or exceeds its health points to successfully defeat it. Assuming you defeat it, you create a stack of monsters/dragons to the right of your artifact cards for final scoring.

If a player can't or doesn't want to journey, they can rest. The rest action varies depending on which village card you're playing with, but generally it offers players a way to heal wounds or collect crystals. When you rest in Enchanters: Overlords, the first card on the journey track is discarded, but if it's a monster, it triggers the overlord to attack. Therefore the timing of taking the rest action can get tricky, especially if you're trying to avoid getting attacked by the overlord.

Players continue taking turns and embarking on quests until all cards from the adventure deck and the journey track have been taken or discarded. Then players score points as described on the village card and for their acquired cards — items, enchantments, monsters, and dragons — minus 1 point per wound. The hero with the most glory points wins.

Having no prior experience or knowledge of the Enchanters series, I felt Enchanters: Overlords was different in a good way. Obviously, the fantasy theme is nothing new, but I thought it was pretty clever how you level up your items and enchantments to continuously build your magical artifact engine. There's also some mixed player interaction sprinkled in as well. The "Sun Tower" village we played with allowed us to take two crystals when resting...or we could take four crystals but had to allow an opponent to heal one wound. A lot of the cards also have effects on them that can impact you or your opponents, positively or negatively. Beyond the short set-up, teach and playtime, Enchanters: Overlords has a ton of content that will present fresh and interesting challenges each game you play.
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Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:00 pm
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COVID-19 at the Gaming Table III: Asmodee and Alliance Stop Shipments; Tokyo Game Market Cancels Its Spring Show

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Alliance Game Distributors is closing its active warehouses in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Austin, Texas at the end of the workday on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 "in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments", says Steve Geppi, CEO of Alliance owner Geppi Family Enterprises. (Warehouses in New York, California, and Pennsylvania had already closed.) "Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice. Your dedicated sales team will still be working remotely and help you with any orders you'd like to place today or questions you may have."

Along similar lines, Diamond Comic Distributors, which is also owned and run by Geppi Family Enterprises, will not ship any comics with an "on sale" date of April 1, 2020 or later to stores. What's more, as reported on Bleeding Cool, "Diamond Comic Distributors is requesting that no more product be shipped to any of its warehouses until further notice." Here's an excerpt from a ComicBook.com article on this topic:
Quote:
This is a significant signal towards the future for comics shops around the country. Diamond is the exclusive distributor of new releases from all of the comics direct market's biggest publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, and IDW Publishing, as well as many of the smaller publishers. Diamond controls such a significant portion of the direct market that the system cannot function as is without the distributor.
Board Game Publisher: Asmodee
• Alliance doesn't have the dominance in the U.S. game industry that Diamond does in the comic industry, but it does have exclusive distribution rights in the U.S. to titles from Asmodee North America, and sometime during the week of March 16, Asmodee sent the following note to its customers:
Quote:
Dear valued retailers,

We hope this finds you all safe and healthy. As the U.S. continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, we see changes occurring on a daily, sometimes, hourly basis. Due to shelter-in-place orders or other limitations, we understand that stores are closing or adapting to a shopping experience that respects social distancing.

Asmodee USA Distribution has decided that through April 2020, there will be no new releases beyond today's TIME Stories Revolution and Spot it! Frozen 2 next Friday, March 27. We believe revisiting these delayed titles will be beneficial to stores and the industry when people can begin shopping at their stores again.

However, our warehouse remains open at this time. We are committed to fulfilling orders on our full catalog of currently released games for stores that can continue servicing their community. We have found that as households prepare for quarantine, many of the Best Sellers titles have performed well along with games families can enjoy together, so we want to make sure you have that stock if needed.

We are monitoring the situation as it develops, and we want to protect the health and safety of our employees and their families. We will send a weekly update on the status of the warehouse and any other changes that occur.

Asmodee USA wishes you, your families, and your stores the best during these times. If you have questions, please contact your sales representative.
Given the announcement from Alliance, Asmodee's warehouse may or may not be open given that buyers can purchase from Asmodee directly. In any case, even those March 27 releases seem iffy unless (1) they've already been shipped to retail stores and (2) those stores are still open for business.

A representative from a game café in Canada notes that Asmodee has also stopped distribution in that country "because Quebec is closing non-essentials".

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Tied in with the news above, Wisconsin has issued a "safe at home" order that took effect Tuesday, March 24, which means that the ACD Distribution warehouse in Middleton, Wisconsin is likely now closed as well. (Update, March 25: I've heard that while other ACD warehouses have closed, the one in Wisconsin will remain open as it's been deemed an essential service, a status that product distributors have received in some states but not others.)

One publisher told me that most distributor warehouses have stopped accepting product, "many quite abruptly, with shipments in transit with now nowhere to go". They added, "We have no nationally coordinated plan from the government, so there's going to be a ton of freight in limbo all across the country — not just games, but other consumer goods." (Out with "E pluribus unum" as the United States motto; in with "no nationally coordinated plan"!)

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• The Tokyo Game Market event scheduled for April 25-26, 2020 has been cancelled, and here's an excerpt from that announcement, which combines a Google translation with my editing:
Quote:
Assuming that the event would have been held, the Game Market Secretariat knows that masks must be worn, that temperature checks must be taken at the entry points, that disinfecting alcohol must be installed at various locations in the venue, that handwashing areas must be available in the venue, that the shutters must be open. We were considering various measures such as thorough ventilation, the introduction of a fast pass to eliminate the queue that occurs in the morning, entrance restrictions every thirty minutes, and cancellation of trial play. Under these conditions, even if the event were held, it was already thought that it could not be called a game market with the philosophy of "I want to be an event that allows everyone to have fun and naturally care for others."

Most worrisome was the potential reputational damage to board games. If an infection explosion occured in Tokyo and various parts of Japan after the Game Market 2020 spring season, criticism from the surroundings would be inevitable, even if there were no direct causal relationship. If a company is criticized, you can accept it, but if the image of the entire board game community deteriorates, it will not be undone. The purpose of the Game Market, which is to contribute to the development and promotion of board games, should not be a factor in reducing the image of board games.

The pain of self-restraint in the Game Market can be immeasurable, but the potential damage is even more immeasurable. The Secretariat said that at this time, we have to endure a lack of Game Market so that everyone could have fun playing at Game Market in five and ten years.
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Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:00 pm
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COVID-19 at the Gaming Table II: More Delays, Cancellations, and Publisher Support for Brick-and-Mortar Stores

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game Publisher: WizKids
• U.S. publisher WizKids is preemptively cancelling its appearances at both Origins Game Fair 2020 and UK Games Expo 2020, noting that it is "currently discussing options for the status for our WizKids U.S. National Championships". An excerpt from this announcement:
Quote:
We understand that things are changing rapidly all the time, and should it make sense and is safe to do so, we will consider attending events during the Q2-Q3 timeframe but with a smaller footprint than you are normally used to seeing from us. If so, we will post when and where these events may be held.
At this time, we are still planning to attend our regularly attended Q4 events. This includes The WizKids World Championships at Graceland, PAX Unplugged, BGG.CON, and more.
Board Game Publisher: Fireside Games
• Like several other publishers in my first post along these lines, Fireside Games is offering a "Play-at-Home" sale in which buyers receive a 25% discount on all orders placed through its online store, with 25% of each payment going to the brick-and-mortar store you list in the "Order Notes" section of the purchase.

• In that previous post, I mentioned that IELLO plans to release King of Tokyo: Dark Edition early since it can't do the simultaneous worldwide launch that it had originally planned. On top of that, if you place an online order for the game in the U.S. through IELLO, the publisher will split the funds with whichever brick-and-mortar retailer you name.

Board Game Publisher: Burnt Island Games
• As of April 1, 2020, Burnt Island Games and Kids Table BG will donate 20% of net funds from online orders through its websites to the brick-and-mortar retailer of your choice.

Deep Water Games is offering 25% of sales to named b&m stores, whereas Game Brewer is asking retailers to contact them (retailersupport@gamebrewer.com) for a coupon code that users can use when purchasing online that will then send 30% of the sale to the linked retailer. Forbidden Games is handing over 50% of online sales to the b&m retailer you name.

Expect to see more such profit-sharing plans from publishers in the weeks ahead, assuming that "stay at home" rules don't keep people from shipping out games. Japanime Games, for example, which was part of my previous post on this topic, has announced that its warehouse in Indiana will close from the end of March 24 until at least April 7. Greater Than Games has ended parcel shipments until approximately April 22.

Board Game: Fruit Picking
• In mid-March 2020, I reached out to publishers with questions about how they might be changing plans for the year, and Leon Scheuber at Korea Boardgames said that after production delays in China due to factory shutdowns, Fruit Picking and Four Gardens are both now being manufactured. The games will be for sale in Korea soon, and the plan is to sell them at both Gen Con 2020 — which the publisher will appear at for the first time in Entrepreneurs' Avenue — and SPIEL '20. Showdown Tactics, which BGG previewed at Spielwarenmesse 2020, will receive "aesthetic updates" ahead of its debut at Gen Con 2020 alongside the "murder mystery" game Suspects.

Notes Scheuber, "Monster Dentist and four yet unannounced games will be released at SPIEL '20", which means that Korea Boardgames will have nine new releases at that show compared to what its catalog contained at SPIEL '19.

Scheuber added that the Seoul Boardgame Festa — "the biggest board game event in the country" — scheduled for May 2-3, 2020 has been cancelled. The Festa scheduled for November 14-15 is still on for now.

Board Game Publisher: Mandoo Games
• I also heard from Kevin Kim at Korean publisher Mandoo Games, who noted the following:
Quote:
—The Korea government is doing quite well. We have total 8,961 cases, and the daily new cases have been under 100 since last week. However, we're still worrying about the group infection cases such as at church or in a hospital.
—As most of our distribution partners are in the EU and they are working at home, our new release schedules should also be delayed. We just hope SPIEL will be held as planned.
Along those lines, I thought that I had finished publishing all of the Spielwarenmesse 2020 overview videos that we had recorded in late January and early February, but Kim pointed out that we had not published the one for Gabriele Bubola's Merchant of Dunhuang, a late 2020 release from Mandoo. Lincoln quickly find that file, and now it's live, letting us finally close our coverage on that show for good.

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Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:00 pm
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Game Previews from GAMA Expo 2020 I: Maglev Metro, Ducks in Tow, Big Easy Busking, Downforce: Wild Ride, and Teotihuacan: Shadow of Xitle

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Less than two weeks after we conducted 20+ hours of interviews with game designers and publishers at GAMA Expo 2020, we've started posting the edited versions of those overviews on our BGG Express YouTube channel. (We also have a specific GAMA Expo 2020 playlist should you care to see only that.)

Here are the first five videos live on that playlist, with one hundred or so videos likely to be published once we've wrapped our coverage of this show for a second time. Note that any release dates mentioned in these videos have asterisks by them given what's going on in the world these days — except for Downforce: Wild Ride and Teotihuacan: Shadow of Xitle, of course, since those two expansions have already hit the market.









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Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:05 pm
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