BoardGameGeek News

To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

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Designer Diary: Creating a Row – Fighting for Your Domain in Principato

Touko Tahkokallio
Finland
Espoo
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First, there was a mechanism.

The core mechanism, the backbone, for almost all types of board games is some kind of action selection mechanism. These days, many board games can be classified as worker placement games. In these games, players take actions from a common action pool, all players usually have equal access to the action pool, and each action taken usually benefits only that player who took the action.

One of my all-time favorite games, Puerto Rico, does things a bit differently. The backbone of the game in this case is a role-selection mechanism, in which the roles are chosen from a common pool. Unlike most worker placement games, the action dictated by the role is taken by all players. What Puerto Rico's role-selection mechanism does have in common with many worker placement games, however, is that the action pool stays more or less the same during the whole game.

In Spring 2008 I was thinking of different ways to implement action selection in board games. After some pondering, I wanted to try the following idea: Each player has a personal action pool – with the actions being represented by action cards – that no other player can access. In addition, all players share a common action card pool and can swap one of their personal action cards with one of these shared cards. An action card can be activated only from your personal pool, and a player's hand size is limited to two action cards. As a result, the common action card pool will change constantly, and players will have to think carefully which cards to hang onto and which to pick up.
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Wed Feb 2, 2011 6:30 am
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Links to Lead into February 2011

W. Eric Martin
United States
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A news summary for the day with lots of links to check out:

• Abacusspiele employee Matthias Wagner has posted an Airlines Europe geeklist that records the path of this Alan R. Moon game design from prototype to production. Lots of fun details in this write-up, as long as you don't mind seeing how the sausage gets made.

• In other Abacusspiele news, the publisher has posted rules on its site in four languages – German, English, French and Italian – for its early 2011 releases: Airlines Europe, Gold!, and its new version of Tichu.

Rules for Serge Laget's Cargo Noir, coming from Days of Wonder, are also available in English, French and German.

• Stefan Brück at alea announced on the alea forum that rules for Stefan Feld's Die Burgen von Burgund will be posted on the alea site within a week.

• On Feb. 15, 2011, following NY Toy Fair, Mayfair Games will visit the gaming retail mecca known as The Compleat Strategist and other spots in NYC to give away four-day passes to Gen Con 2011. Details on the Mayfair Games website.

• Designer Andrew Looney has revealed that a new brand of Fluxx is in the works: Star Fluxx. Nothing more than a name and the obligatory spaceship at this point.

• Alderac Entertainment Group is offering free Thunderstone promo packs, with only 4,000 sets being available. (Additional packs cost $2, plus shipping.) Four thousand sounds like a huge amount given that BGG lists only 3,400-ish owners of the game, but believe it or not not every gamer visits BGG. It's true!

• The new version of Eric B. Vogel's Cambria from Closet Nerd Games has a March 2011 release date.

• TricTrac.net has posted a first look at the next title from Ystari Games, due out March 2011: Philippe Keyaerts' Olympos. Who knew Zeus was that buff? Yowza!

• Portal Publishing is releasing a new version of the 2003 card game Zombiaki in February 2011, a version that will be compatible with Zombiaki II: Attack on Moscow.

• In other Portal news, solo rules are available for Ignacy Trzewiczek's 51st State, but only in Polish as far as I can tell. (BGG user ethidium has translated the solo rules to English.) To tie into the release of these rules, Portal is holding a contest in which players are challenged to score 125 points or more. The first player to do so wins Trzewiczek's Prêt-à-Porter and the forthcoming 51st State expansion, due out in late 2011.
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Tue Feb 1, 2011 4:13 pm
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Move to Victory in a Hop, Jump and Skippity

W. Eric Martin
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If Susan McKinley Ross' Qwirkle can be described as a simplified Scrabble – with colors and shapes replacing letters – then her 2010 release from MindWare – Skippity – might be dubbed "checkers for the Timothy Leary set".

On a blazingly colored 10x10 game board, players randomly lay out one hundred tokens in five colors, then remove the tokens from the four central squares. On a turn, a player takes a single token and jumps orthogonally over an adjacent token to an empty space, capturing the token jumped. Multiple jumps are possible, with the player capturing each token jumped.

The game ends when no more jumps are possible. Players then compare their stacks of tokens, with each set of five differently-colored tokens counting as a set. The player with the most sets wins, with the tiebreaker being the number of tokens captured but not in sets. (2-4 players, 5+, 30 minutes, $20)

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Tue Feb 1, 2011 6:30 am
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Mayfair's Funfair Debuts with Got 'Em

W. Eric Martin
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In 2010, Mayfair Games announced the formation of an imprint titled FunFair that would release family-friendly games, such as Tom McMurchie's Tsuro, which was released in a new edition in 2009 from Calliope Games – the company that Mayfair absorbed and remade into FunFair.

Turns out that the first new release from FunFair will likely be Got 'Em from designer Zach Weisman. Here's how Mayfair describes the game in a press release:

Quote:
Seize and capture your friends' pawns in this delightful game with two unique ways to play!

Brainy Got 'Em! offers the strategic challenge of outsmarting and cornering your opponents with deliberately placed walls, while the tricky yet fun-for-all-ages Bright Got 'Em! has the same goal of trapping your opponents, plus colorful surprises that will keep you on your toes!

Surround yourself with friends and family and get ready to enjoy two great games that hold more fun than any four walls can contain!

So! Many! Exclamation! Points! A bit more detail: In the "Bright" version of Got 'Em, players have a hand of three cards that tell you where you can place a wall, how far you can move your pawn and whether you have the ability to remove or pass through a wall already on the board.

Got 'Em is for 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, with a 15-30 minute playing time. The game retails for $30 and has a street date of May 19, 2011.
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Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:02 pm
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Pegasus Spiele Features Feld in Strasbourg and More

W. Eric Martin
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German publisher Pegasus Spiele has unveiled the first half of its 2011 line-up and in keeping with recent tradition much of its product line will be familiar to those who follow the U.S. market as the games are German editions of titles previously released (or already announced) in English. Those games are:

From Z-Man Games:
Korsaren der Karibik (Merchants & Marauders), from Christian Marcussen and Kasper Aagaard (Apr. 2011)
Pocket Battles: Kelten vs. Römer, from Paolo Mori and Francesco Sirocchi (Jan. 2011)
Pocket Battles: Orks vs. Elfen, from the same pair as above (Mar. 2011)
Onirim, from Shadi Torbey, packaged in a metal box (May 2011)

From Alderac Entertainment Group:
Thunderstone: Zorn der Elemente, from Mike Elliott (Jan. 2011)
Thunderstone: Die Wächter von Doomgate, from Mike Elliott (Mar. 2011)
Thunderstone: Drachenturm, from Mike Elliott (June 2011)

From Steve Jackson Games:
Munchkin: Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann, from Steve Jackson (Jan. 2011)
Munchkin: Munchkinomicon, again from Steve Jackson (Feb. 2011)
Munchkin Zombies, from SJ (May 2011)
Zombie Würfel, once more from Steve Jackson (Mar. 2011)
Munchkin Reloaded, from yes, Steve Jackson (June 2011)
Star Munchkin: Raumschiffe, from Andrew Hackard (June 2011)

From Twilight Creations:
Zombies!!! 4: Höllenhunde, second edition, from Kerry and Todd Breitenstein (no date)
Zombies!!! 8: Todesurteil, from Kerry and Todd Breitenstein (Apr. 2011)
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Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:48 pm
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Designer Diary: The Making of Mondo

Michael Schacht
Germany
Frankfurt
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After many recent difficult productions, it's nice to have an easy one for a change – and that's what happened with my new board game Mondo, which will appear from Pegasus Spiele in German and Z-Man Games in English. After a movie wraps, the director does press tours praising the actors and vice versa. I'd like to take this opportunity to do the same, but not just to be polite.
 
This time the game started with a visual idea: an empty playing area that would be covered with matching tiles. This "key visual," as you say in advertising, is an image of the globe, which is depicted on the game board of each player. This defines where you can legally place your tiles, which means that the most important rules are already given to players from the start.
 
Game play takes place simultaneously, with everyone drawing from the same stock of landscape tiles. You earn positive points for animals collected and landscapes completed, while losing points for mistakes or an abundance of volcanoes.

Early and final versions of the player board

A timer determines how long you have to arrange and place the most valuable combination of tiles. Beginners have seven minutes available to them, and while that might sound like a lot, it's not. If you do manage to finish early though, you can score extra points while the other players continue until time runs out. The advanced and professional game settings, as well as multiple variants, provide increased thrills and a lot of variety. This last feature was already clear during development, namely that the game system is incredibly flexible. Elaborating on these possibilities was a central goal for me.
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Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:57 am
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Links to Love, Links to Leave Behind

W. Eric Martin
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Over the past two months I haven't posted much game news due to the Boardgame News implosion of 2010, but that doesn't mean I've been goofing off completely. Mostly goofing off, yes, but not full-bodied, 100% loafing.

No, I've been bookmarking material for publication once the gates opened and I would have a forum to start type, type, typing once again. Some of this material might be familiar to you, but maybe you'll run across a few things of interest. Let's take a look:

• German manufacturer Scheer Spiele GmbH & Co. KG failed to deliver a number of game titles to publishers on the eve of the Spiel 2010 game convention last October, with Queen Games being especially hard hit. In January 2011 in its 50th year of business, Scheer – manufacturer of Spiel des Jahres-winning titles like Carcassonne, El Grande and The Settlers of Catan – filed for insolvency, according to the Main Post. The article notes that financial irregularities in early 2010 led to a financial loss "in the high six figures".

• Michael Schacht was interviewed in English by Jeux'n'Co. One forthcoming title he mentioned, Mondo, will be featured in a designer diary from Schacht this coming Monday, Jan. 31.

• In other Schacht news, his card game Gold! will debut on February 3, 2011 from German publisher Abacusspiele to coincide with the opening of the Nürnberg Toy and Game Fair. On that same date, a digital version of Gold! will debut from Skotos Tech for iDevices. For a detailed summary of game play, head to the Gold! page and check out my game description.



• Mayfair Games is holding weekly giveaways of Catanimals – plush versions of the building components in The Settlers of Catan – on its Facebook page. To enter, you must visit this photo album on the Tuesday that a new image is posted and "like" that image. One random "liker" will be chosen as the winner.
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Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:25 am
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Designer Diary: Time to Square Off in City Square Off

Ted Cheatham
United States
Charleston
West Virginia
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I am pleased to announce that my latest game, City Square Off, will be published by Gamewright in April 2011. I am extremely excited both about this game and about working with Gamewright again!

How did this game come about? Let's turn the clock way back, all the way to 2004/2005 when I had three different game designs in progress that all used the same basic pieces: One game was about roller coaster parks, another about metropolitan development, and the third an economic bidding game. Funny thing, though, City Square Off was not one of those three games!

To create all of those shapes, I had used graph paper to design them, then cut them out. As best as I can remember, one afternoon I was working on the roller coaster game, in which players acquired various rides of different shapes and built them into a theme park with lakes and forests. I was working on the building rules and how players needed to maintain paths to various rides. While trying to determine the rules and the size of the board, the idea for City Square Off just hit me. I immediately made up a prototype and began to playtest the design, realizing quickly that I had come up with a very elegant tile-placement game.
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:56 am
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Welcome to BGG News!

W. Eric Martin
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Howdy, y'all! I'm the former editor of BoardgameNews.com, and I'll be running the show here at BGG News, with assistance and support from a team of reporters, researchers and ne'er-do-wells. (I'll let you decide who falls into which category.)

BGG News will publish game announcements, industry news, previews of upcoming games, game design diaries from the designers themselves, and interviews with folks from around the game world. (For the past several weeks, I've been posting info about forthcoming games in a Nürnberg 2011 geeklist; check it out if you haven't seen it already!) Guest authors will pop up from time to time with articles that merit your attention, and I'll post link round-ups for other game-related posts to check out should you feel like venturing away from the cozy confines of BGG.

BGG News should feel familiar to those who have been on BGG for a while. The comment system is the same; you can thumb, tip or flag posts; you can subscribe to future posts through BGG's internal subscription system or through RSS; an author's avatar is visible on each post, so you can check out that person's profile or contact him or her privately.

What's new? Clicking on a name in the contributor list in the right sidebar will show all items published on this blog from that user (and not take you to that person's profile); similarly, clicking a category will show only those items tagged as belonging to that category. At the bottom of a post, you will often find linked items: a game, publisher, designer, and so on. Clicking on a linked item will bring you to that item's page on BGG. (In the future, posts included in blogs will appear on a game page, publisher's page, etc., so you'll be able to reach everything from anywhere.)

Gone Cardboard – BGN's list of forthcoming and recently released titles – will reappear on BGG down the road. Integrating Gone Cardboard with BGG involves more trickery and work than what I did on BGN, but thankfully people far more experienced with site design than me will be figuring out how to make everything function. In other words, when Gone Cardboard does reappear, it will work as intended!

Designer diaries, game previews and other articles previously published on Boardgame News – whether on the first or second version of that site – will be republished in BGG News in the future, making that material available once again.

Finally, if you want to contribute to BGG News – whether as a designer or publisher with info to share or a design story to tell, as a reporter or researcher who wants to cover particular companies or game genres, or as a ne'er-do-well who, um, never does well – contact me via email (wericmartin @ gmail . com) or through BGG. I want to hear from you, as do BGG readers, who want to stay on top of all that's coming in this great hobby of ours. I'll do my best to keep you informed, and I hope you'll keep reading!
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:12 am
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Mayfair's Automobile Makes It Off the Factory Floor

W. Eric Martin
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Mayfair Games has announced that its version of Martin Wallace's Automobile – first released by Wallace's own Warfrog Games through its Treefrog imprint – has finally arrived in house and will soon begin shipping to North American distributors. Automobile has a February 17, 2011 street date in North America, so don't expect to see it on store shelves before then.
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:10 am
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