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Links: Reports from Nürnberg 2011, Saint Petersburg in Slate & More

W. Eric Martin
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Time for another round-up of game news from across the webs, starting with that giant toy and game show taking place in Nürnberg, Germany:

• Photos from the Nürnberg 2011 Spielwarenmesse have started to appear; check out the 60-ish photos from German retailer Milan-Spiele, which includes a taste of what's coming from Amigo for Spiel 2011 and other surprises.

Matt Leacock's Pandemic has won MinD Spielepreis 2011 – the annual gaming award from Mensa in Deutschland (aka, MinD) – beating out (in order) Dominion, Agricola, Galaxy Trucker and Blokus.

• Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker and The Big Short, is interviewed by Tim Harford for an article in Financial Times (and reprinted on Slate) while playing a learning game of Saint Petersburg. Says Lewis, "This game is all about trade-offs ... it's made for the Anglo-Saxon Protestant work ethic. The Greeks would never appreciate it."

Sid Sackson's classic book A Gamut of Games is returning to print in late March 2011 from Dover Publications.

Fantasy Flight Games is hiring an Associate Media Producer. Head to the link for details on how to apply.

Cubo Magazine is a new Spanish-language site devoted to game news.

• Designer Jeffrey D. Allers has sent his latest Postcard from Berlin on Opinionated Gamers, this time talking about limits in life and in game design, with designers needing to keep the limits natural and (ideally) invisible during play. Props for working in a reference to Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea.

In a January 2011 post on Berlin Game Design, Allers noted that after receiving a royalty check he realized that his published designs have collectively sold more than 20,000 copies since 2008. While a nice milestone, Allers adds this warning note to prospective designers:

Quote:
To put this into perspective, even if I would have sold four times the number of games since 2008, my income would still put me below the poverty level in the United States. It's a good thing I'm not trying to support my family with my game design hobby, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else trying to do this, either, unless he or she is already milking an established hit.

• And finally some Wall Street employee named Derk Solko is quoted on why Monopoly is unpleasant to play in an article for Cracked.com on "5 Classic Board Games With Disturbing Origin Stories." Cracked doesn't spend time fact-checking its articles and verifying source info? Who knew?
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Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:50 pm
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Serge Laget Talks about Cargo Noir, Game Design & How to Design for Days of Wonder

W. Eric Martin
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U.S./French publisher Days of Wonder releases only one or two standalone games annually, and given the company's track record of hits – Mystery of the Abbey, Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44, Shadows over Camelot, BattleLore, Colosseum, Small World – each new release commands attention from gamers wondering whether the company can please both casual and intense gamers yet again.

Looking at Days of Wonder's publishing record to see who's designing all these hits, three names stand out more frequently than others: Alan R. Moon (Ticket to Ride), Richard Borg (Memoir '44, BattleLore) and Serge Laget, co-designer of Mystery of the Abbey, Shadows over Camelot and Mystery Express and solo designer of DoW's forthcoming Cargo Noir, which hits stores in March 2011.

Cargo Noir puts players in the role of "families" – i.e., gangsters – who want to profit from goods they acquire for a price from ports around the world. The more goods of the same type they can assemble – or conversely the wider variety of goods – the more they'll earn, which is profit they can put toward buying yachts, night clubs, a bank or even their own principality. Some purchases – collectively dubbed "the smuggler's edge" – provide protection from others who want to intrude on your turf, an additional action, or additional warehouse space to hold the ill-gotten gains. All of these purchases are worth victory points, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Game play is simplicity itself. At the end of each turn, you place your ships in one of three types of locations: the casino, the black market, or a port that holds 1-4 randomly drawn goods. If you travel to a port, you need to make an offer for the goods by placing money under your ship. At the start of a turn, you earn two money for each ship at the casino, draw a random good or swap goods at the black market, and collect goods (or not) in the port, paying the money you offered. The exception in a port is if another player has placed a ship and offered more money; in this case, you either take back your ship and money or put more funds in the offer, pushing the "stay-or-go" decision back on the opponent. You then have an opportunity to sell goods and buy things.
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Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:12 am
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New Game Round-up: 7 Wonders: Leaders, Dixit: The Odyssey, Shogun & More

W. Eric Martin
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At this point I'm still feeling my way around the BGG News stage and figuring out the best way to do things. Let me know in the comments whether you prefer posts that include short descriptions of many new items (such as this post) or separate posts for each item. The goal, of course, is for everyone to find out about the games they might want to find out about, while not being burdened to read every fool thing I might post.

And now, on to a few tidbits about new or forthcoming games!

• Designer Antoine Bauza has posted info about 7 Wonders: Leaders, on display at the Nürnberg 2011 Toy Fair. The white-backed Leader cards are played at the start of each of the game's three ages, not mixed with the other cards, and they cost money to be played, not resources. The expansion will likely include 35 cards along with a new double-sided wonder.

Bauza also notes that in response to comments from buyers, the next print run of 7 Wonders will have a plastic insert instead of a cardboard one, and cardboard coins instead of wooden ones.

• In more news from Nürnberg 2011, French website Jedisjeux reports that Dixit has sold 350,000 copies so far and will be followed by a new standalone game from designer Jean-Louis Roubira titled Dixit: l'Odyssée. While the game will include new rule variants, including a team option that allows for up to ten players, the cards – once again bearing art from Mary Cardouat – can also be mixed with those in the base game and expansion.

• To confirm an earlier report of a new edition of Samurai Swords/Shogun coming down the pike, yes, the game will once again be available, this time from Avalon Hill. A January 27, 2011 press release announcing Pegasus Spiele as the distributor of Avalon Hill titles in Germany and Austria includes the game in a list of games to be distributed, albeit with the name Ikusa (and the clarifying note "formerly Shogun"). The game is listed at €65 with a publish date of June 26, 2011. Other titles forthcoming from the deal include Risk: 2210 A.D. (due April 2011) and Acquire (in late 2011).
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Sun Feb 6, 2011 7:12 am
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Links: Three Spiel des Jahres for 2011, Win a Trip to Carcassonne & More

W. Eric Martin
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Here's the latest from around the web relating to these games we play:

• The Spiel des Jahres committee has announced that for the 2011 award ceremony, three games will be named "game of the year" instead of only two, which has been the case since 2001 when the Kinderspiel des Jahres award began. According to the committee (in my translation):

Quote:
The third prize is meant for players who have a lot of experience playing board games and are searching for more of a challenge....

The committee is responding to changes in the board game market. Supply and demand have grown for rule-intensive games in the past few years. The critics want to reward originality and innovation, while giving authors and publishers an incentive to continue their creative work in this segment of the market.


As for the Spiel des Jahres itself, that award will still go to a game aimed at all players. The three game of the year awards will be announced June 27, 2011 in Berlin.

• To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Carcassonne and its utter domination of game shelves around the world, Dutch publisher 999 Games is sponsoring a contest in which you must guess the number of games sold worldwide in the entire Carcassonne family. The winner gets a weekend for two in Carcassonne (the city, not the game box), and those who sign up for the 999 Games newsletter have a chance to win a game package worth €250. Deadline for entry is May 1, 2011.

• In an excellent example of how to introduce a game to potential players, GMT Games will host a live online demonstration of Volko Ruhnke's forthcoming game Andean Abyss on February 10, 2011 at 7:30 EST (GMT -5). Head to the GMT website for details on how to access the GMT Ventrilo Voice Server.
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Sun Feb 6, 2011 6:38 am
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Publisher Diary: How to Run a Game Company Out of Your Closet

Greg Lam
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It's not my day job, but I run a game publishing company. Pair-of-Dice Games was started in 2001 by me and a couple of my friends. My friends moved on after a few years while I kept the business going, and in the ten years I've been running Pair-of-Dice, I've self-published 12 games that run the gamut from simple abstract games (Knockabout, Warp 6) to a dexterity game involving chopsticks (Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000) to a Euro game with the game board housed in a restaurant's menu cover (Restaurant Row).

The common thread between all of these games is that I make them by myself. When someone orders a game, I go into the Ikea storage bench which houses most of my game bits and dig out the right combination of dice, dyed wooden bits, screenprinted handkerchiefs, bowls, sauce dishes, and eating utensils that comprise one of the seven games that I currently offer.

Every once in a while, I realize that I'm running low on restaurant menu covers (which I order from a restaurant supply company), little wooden stars and spools (which I order from a company in Maine), or plastic bowls and sauce dishes (Dollar Store and Super 88 Asian Grocery store, respectively) and have to get more. How many games I sell is pretty much directly proportional to the effort I put into promoting them. Have I sent reviewers, podcasters and other board game cognoscenti review copies? Should I go to this or that convention to do game demos? Orders trickle in by ones and twos off my web site, or by one or two dozen if Boards and Bits or FunAgain calls. It's not the most efficient way to build a brand, I know, but it's one that lets me concentrate on the part of game design that I enjoy most: Making new games.

Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000 – game pieces drying after being dyed

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Sun Feb 6, 2011 6:30 am
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Dragon*Con 2010

Mary Prasad
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Dragon*Con is usually held in Atlanta, Georgia, over Labor Day weekend; for 2010 that was September 3-6. They hail themselves as the "largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe." Wow, that's a big tagline – not to mention possibly offensive to certain aliens.

Memberships usually do not sell out so you may wait to register at the convention. In fact, this year the line was so incredibly long for preregistration that it might even be faster to wait (although next year may see a switch as all those who were in the prereg. line figure this out). I will say that the badges for preregistration are larger and possibly valuable (to those who collect them). On the other hand, hosting hotels sell out very quickly. If you want to book a room in a Dragon*Con block, you should sign up as soon as they open. If you do not get one in a block, you can try to reserve a room anyway. I advise that you do not tell them you are attending the convention since some hotels will not allow you to book a room if they know you are attending the convention. Yes, this actually happened to me. If you belong to an organization like AAA, you can try to get a discount that way, or just ask what specials they have running. Once in a while I get a rate that is better than the convention rate (this may involve paying ahead). You should ask about refund policies before booking.

Fun Facts: (from the Media Relations Handbook) approximate number of attendees 35,000; volunteers 1,700; guests 400; years 24; hotels 5; days 4.


Three of the many Lara Croft/Tomb Raiders at Dragon Con. Note the preregistration size badges.

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Sat Feb 5, 2011 6:30 am
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Nürnberg 2011: Pics of the Queen Games line-up

Rob Harris
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(In this Nürnberg 2011 report from Feb. 3, 2011, Rob Harris ran down what to expect from Queen Games in 2011. Rob has now sent photos from the show, so I'm reprinting that section below with photos in place a few extra details gleaned from the images to give you a better idea of what to expect in the months ahead. —WEM)

These are all 2011 releases from Queen Games without specific release dates, and yes, the descriptions are sketchy for many of these. The titles are:

Castelli, by Günter Burkhardt – nothing else known at this time.


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Sat Feb 5, 2011 4:35 am
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Toronto Toy Show Report 2011

Chris Kovac
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The last weekend in January means my annual trip to the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair in Toronto. This is a small trade show featuring toys and games for the Canadian market. Since this show is geared towards the kids market, many of the board games shown are also geared towards that market, though there are exceptions. As usual I found a few games which might interest us hobbyist gamers. Unlike in previous years, I am going to group games by distributor, then in an "Innovators" section for independent designers.

Îlot 307 inc.

This game distributor out of Quebec had a selection of Euro-style games at the show, the most interesting of which were Sultans of Karaya, Water Lily and Vizia.

Sultans of Karaya, by Alex Weldon (MJ Games) – This is an interesting Werewolf-like small box game themed around an evil assassin who is trying to kill the Sultan. The game ends when the Sultan is killed by the assassin, the Sultan kills the assassin, or three slaves sit side-by-side, thereby starting a revolution.

At the start of the game, each person is dealt a hidden character; during the game, they can either exchange their character with another player or a neutral card in the middle of the table, or use their special power, revealing their card in the process. Other characters include the seductive dancing girl, the stalwart bodyguards, a seer (who bets on who is going to win), and the slave. This looks to be a fun party game for those who would like a change from Werewolf.


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Fri Feb 4, 2011 9:18 pm
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Nürnberg 2011: Queen Games & Hans im Glück's Pantheon

W. Eric Martin
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All credit for the following Nürnberg 2011 report goes to

Rob Harris
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who contacted me prior to Nürnberg 2011 to see which companies I'd be interested in hearing more about while he was at the show. I said Queen Games and HiG's Pantheon, and that's what Rob sent me. Kudos, Rob! Now, on to the report, which I've edited due to Rob having typed on a phone while being sleep-deprived...


First, let's take a look at the Queen Games line-up for 2011. These are all 2011 releases without specific release dates, and yes, the descriptions are sketchy for many of these. This is a start, though, and we'll build from here. The titles are:

Fresco: The Glaziers, which was released in January 2011 in North America and is also available in Europe. This expansion box consists of modules 4-6 for the Spiel des Jahres-nominated Fresco, with players being able to mix-and-match these modules with any in the base game, in addition to using them individually. (2-4 players, 10+, 60-90 minutes)

German Railways (1832-1872), a new edition of Winsome Games' Preußische Ostbahn, a railway game through German history. (3-5 players, 12+, 60 minutes)

Kairo, in which players build a stall in Cairo's bustling marketplace in order to attract customers and sell wares. (2-4 players, 10+, 60 minutes) (Interesting to think that this game is still on display given all that's happening in Egypt generally, and Cairo in particular, this past week. —WEM)

Lancaster, with players as English lords who are supporting the King during his conflict with France, while simultaneously trying to build castles for themselves nad increase their influence in Parliament. (2-5 players, 10+, 60 minutes)
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Fri Feb 4, 2011 4:32 am
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Philippe Keyaerts Takes Another Crack at Civilization with Olympos

W. Eric Martin
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Philippe Keyaerts scored gold with Small World, a new version of his Vinci that was released by Days of Wonder in 2009 to great acclaim and numerous awards. With Olympos, coming from French publisher Ystari Games, Keyaerts has another go at the simplified civilization game. The playing time for Olympos is only 60-90 minutes for 3-5 players, but says Ystari's Cyril Demaegd, "Even if it's a short game, it's a gamer's game."

Players take actions based on their position on a time track, along the lines of Peter Prinz' Thebes. (Says Demaegd, "This is mainly a coincidence because Philippe designed this game years ago.") By spending time, players take actions, with the choices being expansion or development. Expanding brings new settlers onto the game board, which depicts Greece and Atlantis, which lets you conquer territories and thereby acquire resources.


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Thu Feb 3, 2011 9:26 pm
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