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New Game Round-up: Drafting Garfield's Monsters, Reissuing Clowdus' Small Boxes, and Importing European Dojos

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• To encourage retail stores to sign up for CMON Play and hold gaming events for its titles, CMON Limited has put together two new "game night" kits that each contain exclusive material for the games featured. The Zombicide: Black Plague game night kit, which becomes available on July 28, 2017, contains a three-part mini-campaign called "Nightmares", 14 figures and ID cards of a new hero named "Bruce" (?!), and 26 custom dice. The Blood Rage game night kit, due out September 29, 2017, includes upgraded Clan, Age, and Valhalla game boards, first player horn tokens, and plastic clan tokens that replace the card tokens in the base game. Retailers are free to distribute these materials as they choose.

• In addition to these titles, CMON Limited plans to release a new edition of Roberto Pestrin's Dojo Kun, which first appeared in 2015 from Italian publisher Yemaia. In this game, due out Q3 2017, players manage a personal dojo and train their athletes to prepare for combat with those from competing dojos.

• Along the same lines and also in Q3 2017, CMON Limited will release a new edition of Max Valembois's Meeple War, which French publisher Blue Cocker Games released in 2016.



• In 2017, Spanish publisher Meridiano 6 plans to release Bedouin from Fernando Chavarria and Judit Hurtado, with the action in this game apparently taking place on some alternate Earth:

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The discovery of the Z10 gas put the planet's spotlight on all the corporations of Earth. The treasure that hides under the sand changed the peaceful lives of the bedouin tribes that inhabited the planet. Used to the hard life of the desert, these tribes soon became the most valuable allies in the gas-extraction business. You are the new leader of your tribe and must guide your people to find the gas wells and to build extraction ducts that will reshape the landscape forever. Use your people wisely to control the most strategic places on the map and keep an eye on the movements of rival tribes. Don't forget that the powerful and greedy corporations of Earth pull the strings in the shadows and are capable of helping you...or making your tribe disappear between the dunes.

Bedouin is a strategic game whose main mechanisms are area control and hand management. There is a high interaction between players as they collect the tokens of the gas fields that their tribe controls; these tokens are worth different amounts of victory points, and their value can be modified by different actions during the game. The modular construction of the desert guarantees that you will not find two games the same. Every action counts under the burning sun of the bedouin's planet!

Carnival of Monsters is a new card-drafting game from Richard Garfield and (unexpectedly) German publisher AMIGO Spiel. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

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Carnival of Monsters is a card-drafting game in which players collect sets of land cards that allow them to capture and display strange and exotic creatures, hire talented staff to help run their enterprise, and pursue their own secret goals.

Okay, not much to go on for now, but I got a chance to play a round at the 2017 Origins Game Fair, and it was intriguing to know that this design is coming from AMIGO, which typically publishes quick-playing games with few rules. In the game, you need to manage your money in order to pay for new land cards of various types, with these land cards then supporting various creatures that give you points or powers in various ways. You see what everyone else drafts each turn (assuming that they play the card instead of holding on to it), which gives you information for future turns since you're all drafting from packs of cards that are passed among one another each turn

What's especially odd about this project is that AMIGO Spiel is taking Carnival of Monsters to Kickstarter before the end of 2017, with the goal of funding additional art for the game. The more funding the project receives, the more individual pieces of art will be used for the landscapes and creatures, with a different artist handling each environment.

Kolossal Games is a new U.S. publisher launched in 2017 with Travis R. Chance, formerly of Action Phase Games and Indie Boards & Cards, in charge of finding and developing titles. At least I think that's what Chance is doing. We spoke with him briefly about the founding of the new company at the 2017 Origins Game Fair, and I've included that video below.

What I do know about Kolossal Games is that the company has hired John Clowdus of Small Box Games to be a contract designer. To quote from Clowdus' announcement of the deal:

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Kolossal Games now owns all of Small Box Games' back catalog of games. This is amazing news for me, and for you as a Small Box Games fan. But what does all of this actually mean?

Kolossal Games will likely be releasing some of my previous designs under a broader release, with updated and upgraded components, themes, graphics, and rules. This is extremely exciting, and I can't wait to see what Kolossal does with some of my designs. Small Box Games, as a company and publisher, will continue to exist, with a focus on card-only games.

Additionally, I will be designing bigger games for possible publication through Kolossal, something I couldn't have reasonably done through SBG — but I will also continue designing card only games as well.

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:05 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Legendary Ascended Cats of the Serengeti Realms: Thy Will Be Done

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White Wizard Games debuted in 2013 with Star Realms, and it's been making small, addictive, quick-playing card games ever since. Now it's launched a new standalone expansion for that game line — Star Realms: Frontiers — that allows for play with up to four players at once, along with eight expansions that can be used with this new release, the original Star Realms, or Star Realms: Colony Wars.

Six of these new expansions — The Alignment, The Alliance, The Coalition, The Pact, The Union, and The Unity — are command decks that include a custom twelve-card starting deck that uses cards from two of the four factions so that you can take on the role of a legendary commander. The final two expansions are another command deck (The Lost Fleet) and a multi-faction expansion pack (Stellar Allies), both of which are sort of Kickstarter exclusive, although excess stock will be available at conventions and they'll be reprinted later with different art. So many realms in which to star! (KS link)

• Svavar Björgvinsson's Ancient Aliens: Creators of Civilizations from Gamia Games gamifies Erich von Däniken's theories of aliens from the stars shaping the future of mankind on Earth — and now you get to be one of those alien races. Funqqqwick!, as they might say. Each player has their own power and deck of cards, and you're trying to advance humans enough that they can build monuments to your awesomeness. (KS link)

• Each round in Legendary Creatures, from Eduardo Baraf, Christopher Hamm and Pencil First Games, players draw four creatures from their individual decks, send one on an expedition, then use the other three in one of the realms on the game board to generate resources, cast spells, and more. (KS link) BGG recorded an overview of the game with Baraf when it was titled "Fantastic Creatures":




Seth Jaffee's Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done is the latest "deluxified" title from Tasty Minstrel Games, this being a Kickstarted version of a game that includes fancy metal bits and fancy wood pieces and fancy gold trim on the box and other fancy things in a fancified format. As for the game, you are not crusading in the Middle East, but rather running an order of Templar knights and trying to train troops and construct buildings to gain influence. (KS link)

Steve Jackson Games is running a short KS campaign for Munchkin Special Delivery, which might instead be called Munchkin Warehouse 23 Clearance as this mystery box contains "a core Munchkin game, a combination of expansions and/or boosters, and cool accessories and swag". (KS link)

Action News: The Game of Television News from John Teasdale and Justin Robert Young is a set-collection game in which you assemble news stories from different cards, possibly using sources on the original story in new ways to provide further commentary. (KS link)

Firelight: The Questing Card Game from HobbyHorse Games is a card-based tabletop role-playing game that allows 2-4 players to "tell complete, five-act stories with only five minutes of set-up time", according to the publisher, and its introductory nature made it seem like something appropriate for a round-up like this on BGG. (KS link)

• Nemo Rathwald's Overworld from Magic Meeple Games is self-described as "heavily inspired by the 16-bit era of role-playing and adventure video games of the 1990s". Players place double-sided tiles to create the world, with land not able to touch water except for coast spaces, and as empty spaces are create, players compete to occupy them with dungeon doors. In the end, whoever has doors that are the farthest apart wins. (KS link)

Action Cats! is a storytelling game from Keith Baker and Twogether Studios that's "made with 100% crowdsourced cats". Thankfully the game itself is not made from processed cats, but rather it contains crowdsourced images of cats, with players in the game being presented with one of these images, then challenged to create a story about it from cards in their hand, after which a judge determines which story is best. (KS link)

• Rogue Marechal's Serengeti: A Race for Life from GCT Studios is a head-to-head deck-building competition to save life in the African savannah, with players needing to manage their resources and threats to wildlife to gain majority control of the land. (KS link)

Spookre (think Euchre) from David Sheppard and Twitch Factory is a trick-taking game with players trying to grab ghosts from the graveyard, and when any played ghost has the same aura as the target ghost, then their abilities trigger. (KS link)

The Stonebound Saga, previously known as Land of Zion, has funded on its third go on Kickstarter, showing the value of persistence, branding, marketing, and who knows what else. Maybe it doesn't show the value of anything; I should let others worry about such things. In any case, this game by Eric Bittermann and Sky Kingdom Games has each player control and train three characters on their way through a valley to a final battle against an alien force. (KS link)

Ascended Kings from Jason M. Allen, Dylan Pierpont, and Incarnate Games is another KS reboot, with the 2-4 players in this game fighting one another again and again, even after death, to gain four bloodstones, then attempt to claim the Omega Stone. (KS link)

• Still another second run feature on KS is Illuminatus from Nick Crones and Dark Mushroom Games, with this title seeming like a 1980s-style game in which 2-6 players go after one another with all the conspiracies they can muster in order to complete their hidden agendas first. (KS link)

Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:56 pm
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New Game Round-up: Campaign for The Grizzled, Lay Palace Tiles in Azul, and Speak English in Kashgar

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• Australian publisher Grail Games has announced that it will release an English-language version of Gerhard Hecht's Kashgar: Händler der Seidenstraße in Q1 2018 under the name Kashgar: Merchants of the Silk Road. Kashgar was first released in 2013 by KOSMOS in a German edition, and while the game received a fair amount of praise, the cards contain a lot of German text, so folks in other countries decided to wait for a release of the game in their language — after which no one else released the game. *sad trombone*

Now Grail Games is stepping up to the plate, licensing a game that one might have expected to appear in English from Thames & Kosmos, the U.S. branch of KOSMOS, but representatives of T&K have told me (in the past and not related to this announcement) that they have a huge number of titles available to them in the KOSMOS catalog, and they can't possibly do everything. As for the gameplay in Kashgar, here's an overview:

Quote:
Kashgar is a deck-building game in which players build three, "open" decks at the same time. The card at the front of each deck (or caravan) determines which actions are currently available for the players. Cards let you acquire spices or mules, make deliveries for points, or acquire new cards for your caravans.

CMON Limited was already publisher of the English-language version of The Grizzled from Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez, but in late June 2017 it bought all rights to the game from original publisher Sweet Games.

So what's next for the World War I game? The Grizzled: Armistice Edition, which includes a campaign mechanism to give "more structure to the story of friends surviving World War I", to quote from CMON Limited's press release. I tweeted a pic of this game's prototype in February 2017 after meeting Riffaud and Rodriquez at the Festival International des Jeux, but apparently I forgot to also mention this item in this space until now. Oops.

The press release describes The Grizzled: Armistice Edition as an expansion, but Riffaud and Rodriquez had told me this would be a standalone game, something that essentially starts with everyone meeting at training camps, then learning how to rely on one another to survive all the travails of war. The game is still under development, of course, so things might have changed from that earlier description. They also mentioned that this would be the final Grizzled title since original artist Tignous died in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015, the year that the original game debuted, and no more art from him exists for the game.



• At SPIEL 2017, Plan B Games will release its second title following Century: Spice Road, a tile-laying game from Michael Kiesling titled Azul. According to Plan B's Mike Young, "It's a fantastic follow-up to Century (easy to learn, full of clever strategic decisions, and addictively fun!) and helps confirm Plan B's line." Here's a short description:

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Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, Azul brings you to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora.

In the game, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player's score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

• In 2018, Alderac Entertainment Group plans to release a second Smash Up expansion that contains factions submitted by and voted upon by fans of the game — but to do that, AEG first needs to receive your submissions, so they invite you to submit faction ideas for "Oops, You Did It Again!" before the end of July 2017. Voting on these nominees will open August 1, 2017.

• At San Diego Comic Con, which runs July 20-23, 2017, Renegade Game Studios will debut Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game, a Keith Baker deck-building design that features artwork by Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley. What's more, copies at that show — which are limited to fifty per day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday — feature a convention exclusive variant cover. After all, what's a San Diego Comic Con release with some exclusive element?

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Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:04 pm
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New Game Round-up: Donning the Mask of the Pharaoh, Investigating Arkham Noir, and Exploring Cosmogenesis

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• In April 2017, I wrote about the Hasbro Gaming Crate, a quarterly release from Hasbro that would contain three party or family-themed games (depending on which you choose) for $50. My write-up included this line: "Hasbro Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner referred to the Hasbro Gaming Crate as 'profitable experimentation' since those who buy the Crates are encouraged to give feedback on the titles, which might then make it into general distribution depending on the results."

Given the recent emphasis by Hasbro on viral video-inspired releases such as Pie Face, Egged On, Flip Challenge, and Speak Out, I didn't expect much, but some details on the first two crates have now been released, and some of the items are completely unexpected. To begin with, the main title of the Family Crate is an English-language version of Takashi Hamada and Kenji Shimojima's Mask of Anubis, which debuted in 2016 from GIFT10INDUSTRY before being brought to SPIEL 2016 by Japon Brand. This new version is renamed Mask of the Pharaoh and will reach subscribers in August 2017.

For those not familiar with the game, here's a short description:

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Mask of Anubis is a mixture of "VR (virtual reality)" and a board game, with a free application included that converts your smartphone into VR goggles!

The purpose of the game is for players to cooperate to create a map of the maze. On a turn, one player lands on one point of the maze and gets a 360º view of the maze by wearing VR goggles with a smartphone inserted. This player explains to the team members what they see and their teammates attempt to use this description to create part of the map of the maze.

Each player gets one minute to explain what they see, then the play passes to the next player (who will be presented a different view of the maze). Repeat this seven times, then players win the game if the complete map is connected from the entrance to the goal correctly!



Another title in the Family Crate is Leo Colovini's Leo Goes to the Barber, this being an English-only version of the Kinderspiel des Jahres nominee that ABACUSSPIELE released in 2016. The third title is Tricky Wishes, which sounds from the description like a repackaged version of Chris Castagnetto's 3 Wishes from Strawberry Studio: "To win this card game, players will need to find three kinds of wishes: one Superpower, one Gift, and one World Harmony. Players can take turns swapping, shuffling, and peeking at card wishes to collect the highest-scoring set." Amazing to see these three titles that originally appeared from publishers in Japan, Germany, and Romania be aimed at mainstream gamers this way!

As for the Party Crate, well, that one appears to be more typical as it contains Speak Out: Joe Santagato (with Joe Santagato apparently being a YouTube celebrity of some sort), Box of Rocks (this being a new edition of the Joe and Dave Herbert design released by Haywire Group in 2016), and Judgmental, which sounds familiar in a Who Would Win kind of way:

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Historical figures, fictional characters, and celebrities go head-to-head in this crazy "judgmental" tournament-style game. Choose a contender but keep it a secret, then have fun arguing who should win ridiculous contests before passing judgement! Get your contender all the way to the final round to win!

• Spanish publisher Ludonova has unveiled a pair of titles that it will feature at SPIEL 2017 in October. At first glance, Yves Tourigny's Cosmogenesis sounds and looks somewhat like Exoplanets from Przemysław Świerczyński, but the complete rules are available for download on BGG for those who want to go beyond this overview:

Quote:
In a game of Cosmogenesis, each player creates their own planet system, starting from a star and an asteroid belt. To do this, they use the elements available on the different sections of the central board. In each round, players obtain one element from each of the four sections over four turns and with these elements players form planets and moons. These then collide with each other, causing them to increase in size, develop rings, form atmospheres, and of course create life. Players do all of this in order to fulfill their own objectives, which like the rest of the elements of the game, are obtained from the central board; at the end of the game, these provide the victory points that determine the overall winner.

• The other Ludonova title is also an Yves Tourigny design, this being the solitaire card game Arkham Noir — more specifically, Arkham Noir — Case File 1: The Witch Cult Murders, which bears this description:

Quote:
Walpurgis Night, May’s Eve, is always a nightmare in witch-haunted Arkham. There are bad doings, and a child or two frequently goes missing. This year, Miskatonic University students engaged in occult studies have been turning up dead. Arkham Police, in deference to your unusual expertise, have asked for your help to get to the root of the matter. Time is of the essence because after Walpurgis Night, the trail will grow cold and the culprits will retreat to the shadows until the next Witches' Sabbat, when the next cycle of deaths will begin.

As private investigator Howard Lovecraft, you will investigate events based on the stories "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1933), "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1933), and "The Unnamable" (1923).

Arkham Noir is inspired by the interconnected stories of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors, re-imagined as noir detective stories. Each case stands alone. Gameplay consists of adding cards to open cases, creating lines of investigation in an effort to solve them. The ultimate goal is to score five "puzzle" clue cards in order to piece together the big picture before running out of time or mental stability. Each newly shuffled deck is the start of a unique challenge, with adjustable difficulty levels to accommodate all level of players.

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Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:38 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Casually Trash Lucidity in a Green Box with Short Love

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As often happens during convention time, I've neglected to post crowdfunding round-ups for a couple of weeks, so the number of current c.f. projects not previously mentioned in this space is staggering. Perhaps I should stop being amazed by the amount of dollars being handed over to designers and publishers this way, but as long as I keep being amazed, I'll know that I'm still alive. In any case, let's look at some of these current projects:

• Designer Corné van Moorsel used to release one new title each year at SPIEL from his Cwali brand, and that was that, but over the past couple of years van Moorsel has migrated to using Kickstarter to sell games in advance to those who won't make it to the game fair in Essen, Germany (or to sell a title that otherwise might not make it to market, e.g., Factory Funner), and now he's using KS to make an out-of-print title available once again, with a second edition of his SPIEL 2016 Habitats on its way to funding right now. (KS link)

In Habitats, each player lays down tiles to build up their own animal park, ideally giving each animal the environment it prefers to make them happy and receive points in return.

• For a title coming at SPIEL in 2017, we can turn to Wendake from Danilo Sabia, Placentia Games, and Post Scriptum, with players representing the Wyandot People who lived in the Great Lakes region in the U.S. and Canada. The game is set in the mid-18th century, and players must manage all aspects of tribal life by choosing rows of action tiles in a grid, just as the Wyandot did at that time. (KS link)

• Till Engel's self-publisher Adellos is another potential SPIEL 2017 release, with players needing to manage their gold to hire twelve types of units to attack opponents and gain influence. (Startnext link)

Wibbell++ is a game system that originated with the title Wibbell from designer Behrooz Shahriari and was then expanded upon by others creating their own games from this deck with cards that each depict two letters on them along with one of six border designs. Shahriari is funding a new edition of Wibbell++ through her Stuff By Bez brand, and one of the rewards is for her to create a game with you. (KS link) For a sampling of the games playable with the deck, here's an overview video I recorded with Shahriari at SPIEL 2016:



• Similar to Wibbell++, Green Box of Games is a game system, with designer Jørgen Brunborg-Næss including 16 designs that make use of a boxed set of components that are designed to be "as versatile and flexible as a standard deck of cards", according to the designer. (KS link)

• To continue with a section devoted to solitaire-friendly games, Pepper & Carrot: The Potion Contest from Guillermo H. Nuñez amd Loyalist Games challenges 1-4 players — or more if you have additional sets — to use orders to manipulate the 18 ingredients in their 3x6 grid to complete recipes quickly. (KS link)

• Shannon Kelly's Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares from Fox Tale Games is a press-your-luck game in which dice drawn represent your entry point into a world of nightmares. You can discard two dice to guide yourself down a dream path, but then you're at the mercy of the whatever awaits on the die faces — ideally the power symbols that you need to collect before you transform into a nightmare. (KS link)

• While this next project isn't a game, I would be remiss not to highlight Geoff Engelstein's GameTek: The Math and Science of Gaming, this being a written collection of more than seventy GameTek podcast segments from the past ten years, with the book totaling more than three hundred pages. You'll just have to imagine Geoff reading them to you. (KS link)

• Year six of Casual Game Insider magazine, which is meant to promote casual gaming in mainstream outlets, is also looking for funding. (KS link)

• Also not a game is designer Kenechukwu Ogbuagu's efforts to fund a second African Boardgame Convention "to introduce people to boardgaming and break the stereotypes about general tabletop gaming in Nigeria and other parts of Africa". A 12-hour game convention that's free to the public is what's at stake in this project. (Indiegogo link)

Triplock from Adam and Josh J. Carlson and their Chip Theory Games sounds like an escape room game at first, but instead the players represent characters who are trying to manipulate tokens that collectively represent a lock box. The steampunk artwork is out of this world, and I wouldn't be surprised to find someone dressing as these characters at a future Gen Con. (KS link)



• Designer Yukinori Ohashi originally self-published Night Clan in Japan in 2014 through his Domina Games, and now new publisher Gamephilia aims to bring the game to market in a multilingual edition. In this bluffing game, players each have the same deck of thirteen cards, with which they try to use their trolls to capture the daughters and riches of the other players. (KS link)

• Similar sabotage efforts are required for Love Formula from Gwin Games and Japanime Games, with players in the role of matchmakers who want to couple up their customers to perfection while ruining the potential dates arranged by their competitors. (KS link)

• Yet more sabotage is the order of the day in Philip Loyer's Short Order Hero from Wyvern Gaming as you're working at a greasy diner with other hash-slingers and are determined to look better than them, whether through actually providing dishes that customers want or befouling the offerings of others. (KS link)

Damn the Man, Save the Music! by Hannah Shaffer is described as a "tabletop roleplaying game", but I think that's simply because you'll be playing it on a horizontal surface. No matter — this project struck a chord with me, so I'm including it anyway. The short description: "Damn the Man is a single-session game inspired by movies like Empire Records and Clerks, and by a love for bygone '90s music" in which you make "a last-ditch effort to save something you love. Play a ragtag group of underachievers, overachievers, street philosophers, and lovestruck artists united by one cause: to rescue your record store from the oppressive hand of The Man… and to keep the music playing." (KS link)

• In Rival Realms, Alf Seegert and Eagle-Gryphon Games return to the land of Fantastiqa for a head-to-head match of magicians who must summon lands, creatures, artifacts and more in order to complete quests and explore regions of the world. (KS link)

• Kwanchai Moriya has presented us with his spin on how raccoons like to party in Trash Pandas, coming from Michael and Lisa Eskue through their Red Rook Games studio. In the game, you need to tip over trash cans to try to acquire food and other things that raccoons adore, then stash them in a safe place so that no one else finds them. (KS link)



Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun Jul 9, 2017 1:05 pm
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New Game Round-up: Feld Summons Merlin, Atlas Holds Court, and Carcassonne Gets Big Boxed...Again

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• In mid-June 2017, Queen Games posted an announcement on French gaming site Tric Trac that it was returning to the French market, with Atalia and Oya serving as distributors of their games for that market. Kingdom Builder and Alhambra would be the first titles available, given that they're both Spiel des Jahres winners and well-known, to be followed by French versions of the newer titles Treasure Hunter, Captain Silver, Glüx, and two new big games: Immortals and Merlin.

We've already covered Immortals somewhat — for example, posting a game overview recorded at the 2017 Origins Game Fair with co-designer Mike Elliott — but Merlin wasn't on my radar previously, which is a shame since this will be a large game from Stefan Feld. Beyond largeness, however, nothing else was noted about the game — until Friday, June 7, that is, when Queen's Ulrich Fonrobert tweeted the following:



Okay, still not much to go on for now, but could this game look any Feldier?! People will be able to find out more at Gen Con 2017 in August, where this game will be demoed ahead of its release at SPIEL 2017.

In a separate tweet, Fonrobert mentions that Queen Games will also have an Emanuele Ornella design at SPIEL 2017, which is funny since this will be the second new Ornella title on the market this year — Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes from Matagot being the other — after an absence of five years. The Tric Trac article mentions another upcoming title — Pioneers, a "strategy game about the conquest of the Far West" — but Ornella's name isn't attached to it.

• In October 2017, Atlas Games will release Cursed Court from Andrew Hanson, a 2-6 player game in which you need to watch others to determine what you should do. In more detail:

Quote:
The intrigues and scandals of the realm's greater nobility are a subject of fixation, and even obsession, for the entire kingdom. Most especially for the minor nobility, whose fortunes can be elevated — or shattered — by what happens at court.

In Cursed Court, you must consider both public and hidden information, some of the latter shared among different pairs of players, when wagering your limited influence in each season of the year. As the machinations of the nine key nobles are progressively revealed, your fortunes rise and fall. After three years, a winner is crowned.

MAGE Company has picked up the 2-6 player dice-roller Goblin Dice from Russian publisher GaGa Games for re-release in English in Q2 2018. Your goal in the game is to reach the finish line first or avoid the giant rolling stone that will crush slow players, ideally leaving you as the lone player still fit to move.

• The sixth edition of Carcassonne Big Box hits stores in September 2017 — at least in Germany and the Czech Republic as the game has been announced in those locations so far — and this version of the game includes the Carcassonne base game, the Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders expansions, the mini-expansions The River and The Abbot now included with the base game, and the six mini-expansions from 2012: The Flying Machines, The Messengers, The Ferries, The Gold Mines, Mage & Witch, and The Robbers (which collectively include the tiles for the Corn Circles II mini-expansion).

Hans im Glück also plans to release Carcassonne für 2 in September 2017, this being a small-sized version of the famed tile-laying game with only 48 tiles and 12 tokens in a travel tin.

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Westeros Meets Catan in A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch

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Fantasy Flight Games has a long history with author George R. R. Martin, having launched A Game of Thrones: Collectible Card Game in 2002 and published the A Game of Thrones board game in 2003.

In the fifteen years since that first title, FFG has released numerous games that represent various parts of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and now they're leveraging the power of their Asmodee parent company to do so once again, this time merging the tales of Westeros with the development of Catan, a fictional land that debuted in Klaus Teuber's Die Siedler von Catan in 1995, one year before the release of A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch, co-designed by Teuber's son Benjamin and co-published by KOSMOS in Germany, takes the familiar elements of Catan and transports them to Westeros, with players doing the things that one would expect players to do in Catan — but now they face additional challenges in the game as well.

Here's an overview of A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch, which is scheduled for release in Q4 2017, with demos due to take place during Gen Con 2017 in August:

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The Brothers of the Night's Watch seek a new leader from among their ranks. Jeor Mormont wishes to promote one who can improve the infrastructure of the Gift, the bountiful and undeveloped area south of the Wall bestowed to the Watch by the Starks thousands of years ago. Drawing sustenance from the unforgiving landscape of the north offers enough challenges, but whomever takes up this task must also man and defend the Wall against the onslaught of Wildlings fighting their way into Westeros. Many brothers now compete to build, defend, and do what they can to protect Westeros, but only one shall rise above their brothers to become the new Lord Commander. But be wary — the north holds many dangers, and winter is coming.

In A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch, each area in the Gift supplies one of five resources: lumber, brick, wool, grain, and ore. The barren Ice Fields, however, produce nothing. Players take on the role of Brothers of the Night's Watch and use these resources to strengthen their hold on the north by building roads, settlements, and keeps; recruiting guards for their patrol; or buying development cards. Each of these acts bring players increased power and recognition through the awarding of victory points. The objective will be familiar to players of the original Catan; the first player to achieve ten victory points wins the game and becomes the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

But this is not as easy as it sounds as the area surrounding the Gift can be treacherous. Wildings from north of the Wall have crossed over and follow their own rules of honor, which often conflict with the laws of Westeros. One of their ranks, Tormund Giantsbane, does not respect the Watch's claim to the land as he moves throughout the Gift, robbing resources from the Brothers sent to provide for their Order. While Tormund runs amok south of the Wall, Wildling forces gather in the Frostfangs, awaiting an opportune moment of weakness to breach the Watch's defenses and spread throughout the fruitful lands of Westeros. In addition to building within the Gift, players must strategically balance their resources to defend the Realm from Wildling raiders.

Each player may recruit up to seven brothers from the prisons of Westeros to don their specific color and man their section of the Wall. When the Wildings attack, each player must use their guards to fend off the onslaught. If there are more guards than Wildings, the Wall stands. If there are not, the Wildings invade the Gift and pillage the settlements and keeps therein. Yet loyalty only goes so far — guards are useless defending the Wall from Climbers who slip past them, and if they encounter a Giant, at least one guard is bound to desert his post.

Each player also has a hero to aide in their toil, based on the order of play. The first player will utilize the talents of the Lord Commander himself, Jeor Mormont, while the second player will enjoy the company of Samwell Tarly, the third will work with Bowen Marsh, and the fourth will employ the services of Master Builder Othell Yarwyck. Each hero offers a unique ability to each player which they can use up to twice during the game. Once a hero's ability has been used, players have a choice to keep that hero or choose another of the eleven heroes to aide them. Players should factor the heroes' abilities into their strategy to quickly earn victory points and gain renown within the Watch.

The Wildling invasion marks the truest test of the Brothers of the Watch and your own competency as a commander. A failure at the Wall has a devastating impact on the Gift, even if it does not destroy the players. A Game of Throne Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch has two forms of victory, though one may feel hollower than the other. Victory occurs when a player has both improved the infrastructure of the Gift and successfully kept it safe from invaders. This is shown when a player has achieved ten victory points by any combination of building keeps, roads, and settlements; hiring three or more guards to keep the Wall safe; and buying development cards to increase their prestige, all while safeguarding the Gift.

However, if the Wildlings breach the wall three times throughout the game, an alternate victory takes place. If this occurs, the game ends immediately as the Brotherhood of the Night's Watch can no longer delay their decision. The player commanding the most guards holding their posts on the Wall gains the title of Lord Commander and wins the game.

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Wed Jul 5, 2017 1:05 pm
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New Game Round-up: Superheroes Battle Debt, Pirates Battle Poor Memory, and A.R.K. Agents Battle Raxxon

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Debtzilla from designer Xeo Lye and Singapore-based publisher Capital Gains seems like an inspired mash-up of familiar game tropes, with superheroes fighting villains while also needing to manage their finances. Here's an overview of this design, which hits Kickstarter on September 19, 2017:

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In the fictional nation of Banana Republic, the incompetent government has caused a wave of financial crime. Players take on the role of heroes fighting the villains that scam ordinary citizens. However, the heroes are human beings just like anyone else, with jobs to perform, daily expenses to pay and crime-fighting gadgets to buy. Little do they know that their credit card bills are only feeding the ultimate monster of mass destruction: Debtzilla!

Debtzilla is a cooperative deck-building game with escalation mechanisms based on financial related concepts such as compounding interest and inflation. If the players are too stingy with their finances, they will find their heroes too weak to be any good in a fight. On the other hand, purchasing too many expensive gadgets will rack up debt, causing the final boss to become too powerful to possibly defeat. The players must work together to make smart financial decisions in order to save the citizens of Banana Republic.

• Designer Emerson Matsuuchi made a splash at the Origins Game Fair with the release of Century: Spice Road, and now he has another title debuting at Gen Con 2017 in August: Crossfire, a game for 5-10 players that plays in 5-10 minutes. How is that possible? Here's an overview of the setting:

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The Intel is solid. Raxxon will be transporting a VIP through a sector heavy with civilian traffic. This makes the mission a tricky one. You'll be working alone as they try to throw you off their tail. Don't be fooled. You need to get in and get the job done before the chance passes by. Just be sure to not get caught in the crossfire. Deception and negotiation are your greatest tools. Complete your mission, no matter the costs.

Introducing Crossfire, a game in the world of Specter Ops that takes players back into the dystopian struggle between Raxxon and A.R.K. This time, players compete in two teams to either protect or assassinate a Raxxon VIP, while trying to determine whether other players at the table are who they really claim to be. The clock is ticking...

Chris Leder's City of Gears first appeared in a self-published edition in 2012 via The Game Crafter, then in 2015 Arcane Wonders announced that the game would be part of its "Dice Tower Essentials" — only to part ways in 2016. Now Leder has announced that Grey Fox Games has picked up the game for release in 2018, with designer Daryl Andrews collaborating on the final design.

Memoarrr! is a very different game from Edition Spielwiese's first release (Cottage Garden in 2016), with this quick-playing game from newcomer Carlo Bortolini debuting at the Berlin Brettspiel Con in July 2017. What do you get when you combine pirates with a memory game? This:

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To play the match-and-memory game Memoarrr!, 2 to 4 players need the power of recollection and the luck of pirates. Only then can they make their escape from the island of Captain Goldfish, their pockets lined with rubies, before the lava swallows them up.

In turn order, players reveal locations that are connected via the animal or the landscape to the most recently revealed location. If someone reveals a location without any connection, that player is out of the round. The last remaining pirate grabs one of the valuable treasures. Then, all revealed locations are turned face down before the search can start afresh.

As the cards do not change position during a game, players collect more and more information each round, enabling them to reveal new connections — but sometimes a little bit of luck is all it takes to get that treasure.

For advanced players, each animal comes with an additional special action that is triggered when a connected location is revealed — and they make Memoarrr! even more exciting and fun to play.

Publisher Michael Schmitt notes that artist Pablo Fontagnier is "a very famous German graffiti artist", and his Instagram account has more than eighty thousand followers, which indeed qualifies as "very famous" in my ranking of all the German graffiti artists that I know.
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New Game Round-up: Preparing More Escape Rooms, Revisiting Ground Floor, and Reading a Column of Fire

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• English rules are now available (PDF) from Thames & Kosmos for Michael Rieneck's A Column of Fire, the third game in the Ken Follett series that started with The Pillars of the Earth. Thames & Kosmos has confirmed that A Column of Fire is due out in Q4 2017, with a reprint of The Pillars of the Earth due in mid-November 2017.

Thames & Kosmos has also confirmed a Q4 2017 release date for Legends of Andor: The Last Hope while noting that an English-language version of Legends of Andor: Dark Heroes will not appear until 2018.

The next three titles in the EXIT: The Game series of escape room games from Inka and Markus Brand — The Forgotten Island, The Polar Station, and The Forbidden Castle — will be released in the U.S. in mid-October 2017.

• Speaking of escape room games, Space Cowboys will release its second series of them — Unlock! Mystery Adventures — in France in July 2017, with distributor Asmodee stating that they'll be available in the U.S. in Q4 2017, with each scenario being sold separately (as was the case with the first three Unlock! scenarios).

• Italian publisher dV Giochi has already released its first escape room game — Deckscape: Test Time from Martino Chiacchiera and Silvano Sorrentino — and it will have both this title and the newer Deckscape: The Fate of London for sale at Gen Con 2017 in August.

• Developer Ulli Blennemann with Spielworxx is working on a new edition of David Short's Ground Floor, first released in 2012 by Tasty Minstrel Games, for release in 2018.



• New Zealand publisher SchilMil Games has posted the following teaser image on Facebook, noting that this game "does involve Martin Wallace and has links to A Study in Emerald".




More generally, SchilMil announced in May 2017 that it had "entered into a two-year contracting agreement with internationally renowned board game designer Martin Wallace". In more detail:

Quote:
Martin's expertise and experience will be invaluable to us and we are really pleased to have him on board. Initially he will be helping us refine a prototype we have under development and we're planning to publish and re-launch some of Martin's older designs under the SchilMil Games brand.

We've brain-stormed a number of other concepts together in the last few months, so we are both excited that more new games will appear as a result of this collaboration.
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WizKids Offers New Gaming Fronts in Cannibalism, Dungeon Acquisition, Time Management and Time Management

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• You can tell that Zev Shlasinger is indeed now Director of Board Games at U.S. publisher WizKids because the company feels like the Z-Man Games of old, releasing a ridiculous number of games in a short period of time with many more still to come before the year ends and with those titles ranging all over the map in terms of setting, style, and gameplay.

Who Should We Eat? by newcomers Mike Harrison-Wood and Chris MacLennan is a 4-10 player semi-cooperative game due out in 2017 in which you're all trying to survive on a desert island while also being fully aware that you might have to resort to cannibalism at some point in order to both survive and keep yourself off the table. From the game description: "You know that not all of you will make it off the island, which means that only the strong will survive, but deep down you also feel something supernatural about this place — that the veil between the spirit world and this mortal existence is pa­per thin. If you succumb to the hunger and are forced to eat another survivor, you will be driven deeper into madness and awake to find a new, vengeful, ghostly presence intent on ensuring that you never, ever leave the island."

• Another future WizKids release, this one for October 2017, is Time Barons, which designers Jon Perry and Derek Yu first self-published in 2014 via the Game Crafter under the brand Quibble Games. I played the game once or twice that year on a demo copy sent to me by the designers and loved it, meaning to play more so that I could do a proper overview video, then it was buried under a bunch of other games. Bad Eric. Here's a game summary:

Quote:
You are one of the time barons, shadowy figures who have shaped mankind's destiny since the dawn of time. People are simply pawns in your quest to defeat the other barons and become the ruler of a unified human race. War, religion, technology - all will be used in this ultimate battle.

Time Barons is a fast-paced card game that pits two players in a struggle across the ages. "Freedom" is the operating word here! Each turn you can spend your actions however you see fit: to draw and play cards, gain followers, and advance your civilization through four distinct time periods: medieval, industrial, modern, and futuristic. Do you want to rush through the ages, hoping to obtain that technological edge, or punish such a folly with primitive weapons and fanatical attacks? Will you be relentless in your aggression or build an economic advantage? A variety of strategies are available to you at every turn.

The unique blend of actions, followers, and cards offers quick games where turns can be simple, like drawing three cards, or complex, involving every option available to you. And in the process, you'll find yourself doing things like putting a Plague on your opponent's Robotics Lab to slowly kill off the workers there, or attaching a Computer Network to a Church to automate the conversion of new followers. Or what about Martyring a follower you just sacrificed on your Temple so that you can draw a Doomsday Laser and fire it on the same turn? Whew!

• While passing along info about titles that WizKids would have at Gen Con 2017, Shlasinger included a brand new one, the 2-4 player game Dungeon Hustle from Tim and Ben Eisner. Here's an overview:

Quote:
Players are archetypal fantasy characters running through a dungeon picking up swords, keys, shields, scrolls and potions. Each item comes in different colors, and to pick them up, you must hustle through a path of dungeon tiles of matching color; once you step on a new color (or a corner space), you pick up the tiles that you had stepped on. If, for example, you start on a red key and move on a path that consists of a red sword, another red key, a red shield, and finally a white sword, you stop on the white sword, then pick up all of the red items, including the one where you started movement. You use these items to fight monsters, fulfill quests, and purchase other items.

Dungeon Hustle includes a few semi-cooperative elements. A character can help give a power to another character, for example, and is then rewarded for doing so. More importantly, you must all work together to stop monsters from escaping the dungeon. After a certain number of monsters escapes, the game ends, and whoever has the most victory points at that time wins.

• Still another title forthcoming from WizKids, also debuting at Gen Con 2017, is WarTime: The Battle of Valyance Vale by Brad Lackey and Joshua Tempkin, a ten-minute, two-player game in which sand timers determine the limits of what you can do when. In more detail:

Quote:
When a unit moves, attacks, cast spells, or uses a special ability in Wartime, a sand timer is flipped. The unit cannot be used again until the sand timer is drained, then that sand timer (or another one) can be used to activate the unit again. Manage your sand timers, as well as your unit actions, wisely. Sand timers come in different times: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds. Scenarios use other timers in time-sensitive missions.

Wartime features scenario-based play, with branching missions depending on the outcome of the previous mission. Configure your own units to fight in player-designed missions or mix up the unit configurations when playing the game's missions.


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