W. Eric MartinUnited States
Dark Ages, a pair of games from designers Adam Kwapiński and Andrei Novac and publisher Board&Dice that are playable by 1-4 players (with solo mode by Dávid Turczi) and are due out in 2020. Here's an overview of the settings and gameplay:Quote:Dark Ages is a historically-based civilization-building game that features an innovative action selection mechanism. As long as your action markers remain on the board, you may be able to gain secondary bonus actions whenever you or another player repeat the action.So is this one game or two?!
While Dark Ages features objectives commonly found in 4X games — encouraging you to explore nearby regions, expand your territory, exploit the resources, and exterminate your opponents — it does so featuring several Euro-centric mechanisms. Collect resources from lands under your control, using them to build up your cities and fortifications. Some building types provide several ways for you to gain important in-game advantages, while others enhance your military strength or simply score you victory points. As you expand your territory, you will lay claim to noble titles, acquire new technologies, and train your military units. Each region and leader offer asymmetrical choices with their unique abilities.
Dark Ages comes in two versions: Western Europe (subtitled Heritage of Charlemagne) and Central Europe (subtitled Holy Roman Empire). While both versions feature identical gameplay, each focuses its attention on a specific part of Europe during the Dark Ages (Western and Central, respectively). As a result, the game board maps differ between the two versions, as do the lands in which players vie for control over along with the flavor of the inhabitants and leaders of those lands. However, by combining both versions, you can enlarge the map into an epic battle for superiority for five or more players!
Mantic Games' League of Infamy from designers James M. Hewitt and Sophie Williams nearly a month after funding was achieved (KS link). On the assumption that the answer to that question is "Yes", here's an overview of this November 2020 release:Quote:League of Infamy is an occasionally co-operative dungeon crawler for 2-5 players in which it pays to commit dastardly deeds and partake in foul thievery — often against your own party.interviewed designer Jeffrey D. Allers about his card game Rolnicy that had been released by Polish publisher Nasza Księgarnia. That game design will now have an English-language release, although with a quite different look and setting thanks to publisher Renegade Game Studios. Here's an overview of what you'll find in the Q1 2020 release Gloomy Graves:
Join a rogue's gallery of misfits, ne'er-do-wells, and miscreants on a disgraceful mission to kidnap cute little baby drakons, steal their eggs, and viciously wipe out any irritating, goody-goody elves who try to stop your nefarious schemes.
But it's not just the elves you need to keep a wary eye on. Your fellow (mis)adventurers are just as likely to betray you and steal your loot, shove you into harm's way, or just leave you in a dungeon full of unbeatable foes. As they like to say in the League of Infamy, "keep your enemies close, but keep your friends at knifepoint".Quote:In Gloomy Graves, you work as a gravedigger in a dark fantasy world in which epic battles rage continuously. The corpses of pixies, goblins, unicorns, cyclops, and dragons have begun to pile up, so you've got your work cut out for you. Manage your private crypt and the communal graveyard, each with different placement rules. Keep the place organized as you bury corpses in different areas of the graveyard, or it's your own grave you'll be digging!• Portal Games has announced a Q1 2020 release for Empires of the North – Roman Banners from Joanna Kijanka, this being the second expansion for Empires of the North with two new Roman decks and additional island cards being added to the base game.
You earn points based on how well-organized you keep your private crypt and the communal graveyard, grouping corpse types together. You also earn points at the end of the game for the number of different corpse types you've scored on during the game. Whoever collects the most points wins!
To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, contact us at email@example.com.
11 Dec 2019
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10 Dec 2019
Kirsten du Preez(kirstdup)
Bloom Town is a tile-drafting and -laying, city-building game by Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen that debuted at SPIEL '19, a game for which I, Kirsten, am the developer.
My relationship with Bloom Town has been a dramatic but thrilling one! Asger and I met (virtually) late in 2018 when I sent my portfolio to him for writing work. While I didn't get that job, I enjoyed the process and appreciated the way Asger and Daniel worked, so in early March 2019 when I saw a tweet from Asger looking for a developer for an upcoming game, I jumped at the chance to participate (and learn from) that process once again. In late March, Asger messaged me with details about the game and the next steps towards making a decision. I replied with lots of enthusiasm and excitement — then, literally three hours later, I was driving home from my game night and got T-boned by a speeding car.
I told you it was dramatic!
Luckily for me, Asger's message said that things were going to be paused for a few weeks while they waited for confirmation on a few issues, so I had that time to recover from a major concussion and get my memory back before I heard the incredible news — I got the job!
Doing the development for Bloom Town was my first time working on a published game. It was my job to make sure the game worked, that it made sense. Ultimately a developer makes sure the nitty gritty of the game is resolved — everything from point values to choosing the perfect word with the rules editor — so that the designers' vision shines. I had so much fun and learned so much during the process!One of my first playtests with an early prototype
The first thing I did was read through the current rules and outline of the game, generating questions and highlighting key dynamics. It was clear from my first read of the rules that the core dynamic (and most interesting part of the game) is the push/pull of where best to place your building tiles for maximum scoring opportunities vs. where to place to get the next tile you want from the market. It was important that everything else in the game serve this core dynamic, either by heightening it or by not getting in its way.
While I always had various game elements in the back of my head, a few major areas demanded the most attention: scoring during the endgame, balancing points (for different building tiles), and streamlining the game for ease of learning and play.
We tested a lot of different rules for endgame scoring, rules that ranged from the generous to the downright nasty. The endgame scoring needed to make sense in the context of the rest of the game. How did the players score normally? What was the interaction between the players at different moments of the game? How do we balance risk vs. reward? Can endgame scoring help new players by giving them a strategy to work towards? Hopefully the endgame scoring works in the context of the rest of the game — I think it does!
Because the five building types all score differently, there was lots and lots (and lots!) of testing to balance those points. To be frank, the subways are probably the strongest tile — and you'll have to play the game to figure out why that might be — but that's all right. Meaningful and interesting decisions arise when elements of games have varying value at different moments during play. In this way, Bloom Town reminds me of Kingdomino as both games will see a runaway leader if you let people draft the strongest tile for their strategy.One of (many) attempts at a shops rescoring example for the rulebook
Lessons I learned/knew but was reminded of:
1. Who/what do players blame if they lose? Who/what gets the credit when a player wins? The answers to those questions will tell you important things about your game.
2. Interesting ideas come from thorough questions. Both the community scoring tiles that are shuffled into the tile stacks and the bonus token that can activate community scoring came from me asking Daniel and Asger whether the empty spaces on the town board were going to mean anything at the end of the game. That question gave Asger the idea for blank tiles that would be shuffled into the stacks. No blank tiles exist in the stacks in the final version of the game, but a large part of how the game works today came from testing and iterating the blank tile idea.
3. Sometimes the thing you love and is wonderful and works just doesn't belong in this game. Sometimes that'll happen three times in a week. Mourn the loss, and move on.
4. Sometimes when you give players a choice that they all love and use often, that choice needs to be removed. The choice was easy, a no-brainer, uninteresting.
5. The hardest part of designing a game is the last 10%. I think my notes for the last seven weeks of the development progress started with "It feels like we're really close". And every week it really did feel that way! And every week it wasn't.
That's not all, of course. I learned lots of other things about playtesting, design, the board game industry, and about how and why people play games. Every time I playtested Bloom Town, every time I smacked my head against the wall trying to solve a problem, every time I explained the rules, I learned something. As much as I was developing a game, I was learning — and that for me is the most interesting and satisfying part of design.Components in the published game
Developing this game not only let me get my name on a box for the first time — what a surreal experience that is! — but Daniel and Asger also arranged for me to go to SPIEL '19 to demo the game at Sidekick Games' booth. This was the trip of a lifetime! I'm South African, and we don't have any board game conventions here. Not only was it my first ever convention, but I was there to teach people a game I had developed! Every moment was thrilling. Teaching Bloom Town and watching people play it, then buy it was truly humbling. I was also privileged to learn from Daniel, Asger, and Dan (our fantastic project manager) as they conducted meetings with distributors, manufacturers, publishers, and reviewers. I learned more about the board game industry in those four days than through years of listening to podcasts and reading articles.
Developing this game has been deeply rewarding and inspiring, and I'm grateful to Asger and Daniel for trusting and guiding me. Bloom Town is available exclusively through Walmart in the U.S. and will be available in Europe by the end of Q1 2020.
Kirsten du PreezFrom left: the author, Kieran Reid, Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Dan Halstad
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overview of The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine in late November 2019 after finally playing the game on the eve of BGG.CON 2019 and finding myself enraptured by the design. At that show, I played The Crew almost exclusively with group after group, happy to teach the game to as many people as possible in order to play it more often.
Given the experience of those 58 plays on a purchased copy of the game, I thought it time to present a video overview of this design by Thomas Sing and KOSMOS, while adding a few written notes beyond the simple "do this, then do that" rules explanation that I included in my earlier post.
The short take of The Crew is that it's a co-operative trick-taking game in which each hand of cards constitutes a game, specifically a mission with one or more tasks that the players need to complete in order to complete the mission and win. Fail any of the tasks, and you lose the mission. The game includes fifty missions that escalate in difficulty, and you can play them in any order — but if you're new to the game, you should absolutely not play them in any order, but instead start at mission #1. More on that later...
To some degree, the challenge of The Crew is the same as in other trick-taking games, with you needing to manage your hand strength, void suits, assess the hands of others based on how they play, and so on — but all of those skills are put to different use since you're not assessing how many tricks you can take, trying to score points, or do any of the normal TT goals. All that matters is you — that is, all of you — completing the tasks and therefore the mission, and the particulars of that round's mission change how you assess your hand, thereby providing more variety than the relatively straightforward goals of taking the most points or making a successful bid on tricks taken.
Don't get me wrong; I love "normal" trick-taking games with those types of goals because each hand of cards is a new challenge for you, yet a challenge that draws on the experience of every other TT game you've played. The Crew just twists how you need to assess that hand, and even though I've now played the early missions more than a dozen times each, I've not tired of playing them.
What's more, I would encourage you to start from mission #1, no matter what skill you have with TT games. Two of the lovely people shown above had played The Crew previously and disliked it, and (not coincidentally) both of them had been introduced to the game (in different groups!) by launching them on a mission in the 20s. One person was, in fact, commander of the mission with three tasks to resolve on their own, and they just froze: "What am I supposed to do here?"
As simple as mission #1 might seem — with the commander needing to capture a card determined at random, a challenge that can often be achieved with only one or two tricks being played — play it anyway! Play through those early missions because they teach you through experience how The Crew differs from other TT games. Sure, you're smart and can probably figure it out for yourself and would totally be fine jumping into missions in the 20s, but as a favor to everyone else, start with #1. I did so with the group above, and they came around to appreciating the game instead of writing it off.
The only drawback I've found to The Crew is that the card quality is not good. The game was produced with a price point of €13, and the cards suffer as a result of that, with mine getting gummy after only a couple dozen plays. At BGG.CON 2019, I spoke with Tom Wetzel from Thames & Kosmos — the North American branch of KOSMOS — about this, and he informed me later that the card quality would be increased in the English-language version of the game due out in the first half of 2020. (Wetzel thinks the game will be available in Q1 2020, but he can't guarantee this.)
My guess is that KOSMOS has determined the audience for this game is broader than anticipated, so it's willing to boost the card quality since the quantity produced will also be increased, thereby keeping the costs about the same. I've heard others declare that The Crew will be nominated for Spiel des Jahres in 2020, if not win it outright, but as I explain in the video below, while I love the game, I'm not certain it will be picked up by a mainstream audience as quickly as it's been adopted by hobby gamers. We'll see whether others take up that mission in mid-2020...
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08 Dec 2019
いろかるた (Color Karuta), a 2-5 player game from publisher Kino.Q in which players stack transparent cards in five colors (CMYK and white) in order to recreate a color presented to them by an opponent or a color on an object in real life. The order in which you stack the cards matters, so build with care!
The publisher, which specializes in items related to stationery, has an English-language website should you care to order a copy.
空中都市アーレア (The Sky City of ALEA) is a dice-rolling game for 3-5 players from designers Kujiradama Zero and Nagisa Kujira and publisher KUJIRADAMA that debuted at Tokyo Game Market in November 2019. An overview of the game's setting:Quote:Several hundreds years have passed since the skycity of ALEA, a place that used to be known as "the center of Civilization", perished with countless hidden treasures and booby traps. Seeking unknown treasures, many reckless adventurers still make attempts to visit ALEA these days.Each player has five dice, and at the start of each round a booby trap card is declared, then all players simultaneously declare how many dice they want to roll, with them trying to avoid setting off the trap. Whichever player (or players) declared the lowest number rolls that many dice, and if they don't set off the trap by rolling whatever they shouldn't, e.g. two pairs or dice that sum to at least 20, then they score points equal to the number of dice they rolled and their dice stay in play; those die results are considered when the next person rolls, thereby increasing the likelihood of a player triggering the trap.
If someone does set off the trap, they re-roll all the dice on the table and either they set it off again, ending the round, or they don't, in which case they score points equal to however many dice they rolled originally. As soon as someone hits a point threshold, the game ends after the next round.
Nice Egg! (ナイスエッグ!) by Naotaka Shimamoto and itten, with the game concept coming from Hideki Tanaka at ASOBI.dept.
Here's a short description from the publisher: "Nice Egg! is a yolk-dropping action game in which players are challenged to drop yolks one by one each round, with a feeling of play reminiscent of curling. Can you be a fried egg master?"
Kappa Bros! (カッパ兄弟), with Naotaka Shimamoto reworking Itsuka Tanaka's KAPPA-TAN.
The quick take on the game: "Depending on the roll of the fish dice, each turn in Kappa Bros!, you either add more water to the plate, move the plate to another Kappa, or do both! Whoever breaks the surface tension and spills any water loses."
• This game provoked a brief "Wait, what?" response before I shifted into "Sure, why not?" mode:
どうぶつのおしりCARD, a.k.a. Animal Tail Cards is from Banana Moon Studio, and it's a simple hand-shedding game for players aged 4 and up. The game itself doesn't look too interesting, but where else will you find heart-butt cards featuring fluffy animal posteriors explained over blippy earworms? Where?!
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07 Dec 2019
Mensa Mind Games. (I was a freelance writer at the time and had pitched coverage of the event to some publication I don't recall at this time, which meant that my attendance would be tax deductible.) My brother joined me on the trip, and both of us being abstract strategy game fans, we were enamored of Mensa Select winners ZÈRTZ and 3 Stones.
As was my habit then (and now), I did way more research on the event and these games than I needed to, with me eventually finding other games to explore, sites like The Games Journal to read, and magazines like Abstract Games to read, albeit only in excerpts online as I had no money to spare, my wife and I having purchased our first house around that time. (I ogled the Kadon Enterprises website constantly for its huge catalog of gorgeous abstract games!)
online-only venture. Issue #17 features designer David Parlett laying out the history of his 2017 game Katarenga and its predecessors, a look at games like R. A. Frederickson's Zhadu that are part of a fictional universe, an introduction to Alex Randolph's largely unknown game Universe from 1966, the previously unpublished game Ley Lines from Eric Solomon, and an extremely-detailed annotated game of Kris Burm's TZAAR. Great stuff!
What's more, all previous issues are now available on the Abstract Games website as PDFs. I need to clone myself so that one of me can focus solely on titles like these...
announced by The Toy Association on Nov. 11, 2019, and the nominees in the game of the year category are, well, here:
—Funkoverse Strategy Game, by Funko Games
—Heist by Megableu USA
—Ms. Monopoly, by Hasbro, Inc.
—Orangutwang, by PlayMonster
—Pictionary Air, by Mattel, Inc.
—Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared, by Ravensburger
—Throw Throw Burrito, by Exploding Kittens
—UNO Braille, by Mattel, Inc.
"How much can you hang before he goes twaaang?!" That's a question I often ask myself.
Feel free to vote for the nominee of your choice!
Kane Klenko won the 2019 TAGIE (Toy & Game Innovation Award) for "Game Innovator of the Year" for his work on Pandemic: Rapid Response, Cosmic Factory, Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Kraken, Proving Grounds, and Slap It!
Designer Ellie Skalla won the 2019 TAGIE for "Young Innovator of the Year" for Galactiquest from Pressman, while Urtis Šulinskas won "Rising Star Innovator of the Year" for Planet and Pigasus.
Italo Calvino makes me want to play impossible games":Quote:Reading Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, I have a craving to design a game about creating cities in a few paragraphs, developing a map of urban worlds. Which means I'm completely missing the point of the book....Ravensburger North America was highlighted in a Dec. 2, 2019 article in The Seattle Times that covered the game-rich nature of that U.S. city. An excerpt:
[P]erhaps the city that you dream of must fit onto a postcard. And after you have written your city into existence on your postcard, you must put a stamp on it and send it to the next player, letting them know it is their turn to bring a city to life on a postcard. And at the end, everyone has a physical artifact of a city that has only come to be due to the game.Quote:"Nowadays there are so many sources around town for game designers," [designer Shanon] Lyon said. "There's play-testing groups and online Facebook groups that are specifically Seattle game-designer groups. There's people supporting each other on Twitter. There's a Women in Toys chapter. All these different things are available. And I'll say, when we were starting out in 2012, none of that existed." ...I love how this line compares the scale of the North American branch with Ravensburger as a whole: "Ravensburger has about 20 full-time employees working out of the Oddfellows' former concert hall space (out of about 2,000 employees total in the company)."
Ravensburger North America has been thriving in Seattle since the 2017 acquisition of Wonder Forge.... Ravensburger NA sold about 3 million copies of games developed in the Seattle office in 2018. Its biggest recent success has been Disney Villainous, a game that draws on the Mouse's rich history of baddies.
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06 Dec 2019
That said, I can now point to one useful or meaningfully productive AFD joke, that being Fantasy Flight Games' announcement on April 1, 2019 of Barkham Horror: The Card Game – The Dogwich Legacy. Turns out that so many people responded positively to this gag that FFG has decided to release an actual dog-based scenario for Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Here's an overview of what's coming in the 2020 release Barkham Horror: The Card Game – The Meddling of Meowlathotep:Quote:Barkham Horror is an alternate universe in which the conflict between humanity and the eldritch forces of the Mythos takes a back seat, and the conflict between dogs and cats takes center stage. In The Meddling of Meowlathotep, a 78-card standalone scenario pack, the investigators must stop Meowlathotep, the Prowling Chaos, Meowsenger of the Outer Feline Gods, who is terrorizing the city of Barkham. Only a few precious pups can defeat the various Meowsks of Meowlathotep and prevent them from destroying Barkham and the world!Red Outpost, a game from Raman Hryhoryk and Lifestyle Boardgames that is being released in English via Imperial Publishing, a new publisher imprint founded by Seth Hiatt of Mayday Games. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game due out in Q2 2020 following fulfillment of its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign (KS link):
When this adventure kicks off, you are hot on the trail of a cat conspiracy. A catspiracy, if you will. Dogs all across town report seeing strange, unnatural cats prowling the streets of Barkham, and each day more and more pigeons are going missing. You've picked up the scent of something big, and once you sink your teeth into a story, you just can't let go. A little wet fur has never stopped you from finding the truth. Perhaps if you investigate the areas of Arkham most plagued by these sightings, you can root out the cat‐monsters that dwell within.Quote:A top secret Soviet space mission set out to colonize a planet in a remote galaxy, far away from home. The settlers built there a small communist heaven which exists to this day. As one of the leaders, your goal is to guide the settlers on this new, yet strangely familiar terrain.Yes, it's a worker placement game in which you can place any worker since they are under the collectivist control of all players. Notes Hiatt, "This is our first game, but we have two more planned for early next year  (both original titles, not licenses)."
In Red Outpost, players get to control all of the settlers, each time a different one. You must expertly manage the resources and choose the jobs carefully so as not to upset the settlers: Keeping up morale is of utmost importance if you want to become the most prolific leader!
Antoine Bauza's Hanabi, French publisher Cocktail Games is releasing a new version of the game in December 2019 titled Hanabi: Grands Feux that contains the game itself, card stands, and three expansions: "Avalanche of Colors" (ten multicolored cards), "Black Powder" (ten black cards), and five flamboyants (which come on six bonus tiles).
• At SPIEL '19, Belgian publisher Game Brewer showed off a prototype of Paris, a game due out in 2020 from the famed design team of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. Here's the short take on the game for now:Quote:Explore Paris in the 19th century. Discover its renowned architecture, and obtain the most eminent buildings in the right districts to achieve victory.
Paris is a typical medium-weight Kramer and Kiesling Eurostyle-game with straightforward gameplay, short player turns, and an ingenious point-salad mechanism. You mainly score points by obtaining the right buildings and collecting the right bonus cards.Preliminary graphics from SPIEL '19
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Isaac Childres of Cephalofair Games announced a scaled-down, mainstream-friendly version of his monstrously large game Gloomhaven, a game later given the specific title of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.
Just ahead of PAX Unplugged 2019, Childres has now announced a non-scaled-down, equally monstrously large game in the same vein as Gloomhaven, a game due to hit Kickstarter in March 2020 ahead of an as-yet-unannounced release date. Here's an overview of Frosthaven:Quote:Frosthaven is the story of a small outpost far to the north of the capital city of White Oak, an outpost barely surviving the harsh weather as well as invasions from forces both known and unknown. There, a group of mercenaries at the end of their rope will help bring back this settlement from the edge of destruction.
Not only will they have to deal with the harsh elements, but there are other, far more dangerous threats out in the unforgiving cold as well. There are Algox, the bigger, more yeti-like cousins of the Inox, attacking from the mountains; Lurkers flooding in from the northern sea; and rumors of machines that wander the frozen wastes of their own free will. The party of mercenaries must face all of these perils, and perhaps in doing so, make peace with these new races so they can work together against even more sinister forces.Quote:Frosthaven is a standalone adventure that features sixteen new characters, three new races, more than twenty new enemies, more than one hundred new items, and an a new, 100-scenario campaign.Childres will take part in a Q&A announcement panel for the game while at PAXU 2019 on Saturday, Dec. 7, starting at 10:00 a.m., with the panel being streamed on Twitch.tv.
In addition to having the well-known combat mechanisms of Gloomhaven, Frosthaven will feature much more to do outside of combat, such as numerous mysteries to solve, a seasonal event system to live through, and player control over how this ramshackle village expands, with each new building offering new ways to progress.Let me snuggle you with my icy mitts!
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New Game Round-up: Escaping from Alcatraz, Excelling as The Beheaded, and Erasing Minds in Dungeon Mayhem
05 Dec 2019
Lookout Games reports that the long-awaited reprint of Uwe Rosenberg's Ora et Labora has been produced, with English, German, and Korean editions of the game due to hit stores whenever copies make their way to distribution outlets.
• All I know about video games, I learn through their adaptation into tabletop games, as with Level 99 Games' introduction of The Beheaded into its Exceed Fighting System. The Beheaded comes from the video game Dead Cells from Motion Twin, and as that character, you "adventure through an ever-changing castle of monstrous foes as you endeavor to solve the mystery of your own death and the mysterious illness that plagues the kingdom".
Exceed: The Beheaded is a solo character available only directly from Level 99 Games online or at conventions, with this character able to be pitted against any other in the Exceed game system.
yesterday's news of KOSMOS' ever-expanding Exit line of games, Italian publisher dV Giochi has announced two new titles in its Deckscape line of escape room games, a series that has sold 600,000 copies of its six titles to date.
In 2020, dV Giochi will release title #7 in this series designed by Martino Chiacchiera and Silvano Sorrentino: Deckscape: Escape from Alcatraz, with the imprisoned players getting to choose whether to release other prisoners in exchange for help — assuming you can trust those crooked souls, that is.
Deckscape Duel: Pirates' Island, another 2020 release, twists the Deckscape formula by adding a competitive element to the game. Players split into two teams and try to correctly solve the puzzles before the other team does, with the puzzle-based mini-games being specially designed for a competitive experience.
• Another game line being extended in 2020 is Dungeon Mayhem from Wizards of the Coast, with Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness including rules for playing the game with up to six players as well as six decks that allow you to take the role of six D&D monsters, from Dr. Tentaculous the mind flayer and Mimi LeChaise the mimic to owlbear Hoots McGoots and beholder Delilah Deathray. This game, which can be played on its own or combined with earlier Dungeon Mayhem decks, is due out February 14, 2020.
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KOSMOS 2020: Save Dodos, Build a City Worthy of Legacy, Explore Andor with Kids, and Exit from Even More Terrible Situations
04 Dec 2019
KOSMOS reports that it's sold 4.5 million titles in its Exit: The Game series of escape room games since their debut in 2016, so as you might anticipate, more are on the way in 2020.
The basic line will be expanded with EXIT: Das Spiel – Der verwunschene Wald ("The
DespisedEnchanted Forest"), a title aimed at beginners set in "a fairytale world full of surprises", and EXIT: Das Spiel – Der Friedhof der Finsternis ("The Graveyard of Darkness"), with advanced puzzle solvers needing to banish the mystery from an eerie crypt.
In Q2 2020, fans can look for EXIT: Das Spiel + Puzzle, which offers players "four challenging and surprising puzzles and an exciting adventure story, in addition to the tried-and-true EXIT puzzles"; two different EXIT: Das Spiel + Puzzle titles will be released, one for beginners and one for advanced players.
While we're still on the north side of Christmas in 2019, you can look ahead to Christmas 2020 for the release of EXIT: Das Spiel – Der Adventskalender and EXIT: Das Buch – Der Adventskalender, with the former including 24 original puzzles at a beginner's level that lead the solver through an adventure story and the latter allowing the reader to puzzle their way through a juvenile detective story.
Inka and Markus Brand are also behind Andor Junior, a standalone game aimed at players aged seven and up. A short description:Quote:In Andor Junior, you slip into the roles of warrior, mage, dwarf, and ranger to move across the land and save the lost wolf cubs. You can win the game only if you work hand in hand and make wise decisions.announced a Q1 2020 release date for My City from Reiner Knizia, this being a competitive legacy game in which you develop a city on your own playing board through the ages. From the publisher: "Over 24 game levels, you experience new challenges again and again. Innovative, simple and, due to the short playing time, super suitable for families!"
Each game offers new challenges, which you must master together before the dragon reaches Rietburg.
• KOSMOS has also released info on the co-operative game Dodo from Frank Bebenroth and Marco Teubner, a design for players aged 6+. I imagine that the video overview we'll record at Spielwarenmesse in February 2020 will be ideal for demonstrating gameplay, but for now we have this write-up:Quote:Speed is of the essence in the co-operative game Dodo as the bird has laid its egg on the highest mountain peak, but then unobservantly let it fall out of the nest and towards the cliff...
By using teamwork, you can bring the rolling egg safely to the foot of the mountain! Quickly roll the building material you need, collect hammers and nails, and attach bridges to the sides of the mountain. If you manage to steer the egg safely into the lifeboat, you've won together.
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Now that you know me as the food drunk narrator behind this, let me formally introduce myself. My name is Banana Chan. I'm the owner of a small box board/card game publishing company called Game and a Curry. I also write RPGs (larps and tabletop), flavor text for board games, and short stories. I'm a Capricorn, and that should tell you a lot about me.
It's Honestly All About the Lasers
I got my start in board games about seven years ago. My partner Herb and I wrote reviews of games and restaurants. (Hence the name "Game and a Curry"; we spent a lot of time in Japanese curry houses back in the day.) During that time, we also met many people in the board game industry.
One of those people was Tam. He showed us his game, Lair, which was (and I quote) "a big game in a little box". It's a worker placement game that's easy to understand and set up. Players are super villains who are trying to keep their super villain boss happy by building out this underground (wait for it) lair. You have minions who will do all the heavy lifting for you, building rooms with both laser sharks and regular lasers. As you burrow deeper and deeper into the ground, you also get closer to the end of the scoretrack. The person who reaches the end first wins. The game looked great and played great, and I was really impressed.
Getting to Know Yourself
Back then, I was also struggling with my mental health. Anxiety is one hell of a state to be in. Things were slow to start, and I was no stranger to the occasional nervous breakdown. Coming from a studio art background, I felt my world was caving in; I wasn't creating as much as I used to in art school. When I got my graduate degree in management, I got even worse.
But I didn't stop going to conventions. I found myself getting closer to RPG and storygaming folx. I started writing and creating again after a couple of years of creative neglect. I also discovered something called therapy...which was hit and miss the first, say, seven therapists I saw. But when I finally found the right match, I got focused.
Around this time, I also discovered that I wanted to get into publishing. Not for the money because, let's face it, it's hard to make money in this industry as a small indie, but to get my designer friends' games into people's hands. I wanted to provide people with interesting experiences through games, whether through board games or roleplaying games.
Yeah! Diamonds by Dave Beever and Bryan Soriano, was small and easy for kids and new gamers to pick up. Our second game, Judge Dredd: Block War by Herb Ferman, was for an older audience, and it got us to a place where we felt comfortable with moving forward with more games — and that's where Lair came back in. It had been six years when we realized the game still hadn't been picked up yet. We played the latest iteration, and we realized, hey, maybe we have the funds to do this. And we did. This introductory worker placement game has honestly been in the works for years. (Heck, the New York gaming group will tell you.) And that's when we finally said enough was enough and signed a contract with Tam to get the game onto shelves.
I won't bore you with all the details, but think of it like a heist movie. You have your team: Tam, the designer himself, the strategic one with the brains, who's a bit of a mad scientist himself. You've got Udara Chinthaka, the artist, focused, yet flexible with different styles. Hayley Birch, the editor — detail-oriented, wise, and in need of more screen time in this movie. Next you have Herb Ferman, the graphic designer, the guy who talks to printers, think of him as the muscle. And then you have me. Think of me as George Clooney.
Like any good heist movie, this is the part where Clooney tells you the plan. After multiple rounds of playtesting, developing, and iterating, the game finally got to a good place. The art was ready, the editing was all set, and then it was sent to the printers. Now we've got our first few units ready for PAX Unplugged 2019, with the rest of the games on their way over, but the movie's not over yet. Now we see whether our hard work pays off.
I could say that the publishing journey is simple, but it isn't. It's time-consuming, it's energy-draining, and you never know what will happen — but it's incredibly rewarding because this isn't just a business; it's building a community and sharing the things that you enjoy, kind of like how you can't have just one Nicolas Cage sequin pillow. You need to cover your couch with them, so visitors can thoroughly enjoy the Nic Cage...
- [+] Dice rolls