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Spiel des Jahres Nominations for 2022: Cascadia, Scout, and Top Ten

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The nominees for the 2022 Spiel des Jahres — Germany's "game of the year" award — have been announced, along with nominees for the Kinderspiel des Jahres (KidJ) for children's game of the year and the Kennerspiel des Jahres (KedJ) for enthusiast's game of the year, that is, for those already comfortable with learning and playing new games.

Spiel des Jahres jury chairman Harald Schrapers and Kinderspiel des Jahres chairman Christoph Schlewinski announced the nominees, along with other recommended titles, during a live broadcast on YouTube, with these three titles being nominated for Spiel des Jahres 2022:

Cascadia, from Randy Flynn and Flatout Games (and in Germany from KOSMOS)
Scout, from Kei Kajino and Oink Games (and originally from One More Game!)
Top Ten, from Aurélien Picolet and Cocktail Games

Aside from these nominations, the SdJ jury recommended the following six titles: 7 Wonders: Architects, echoes: The Dancer, Magic Rabbit, My Gold Mine, So Clover!, and Trek 12: Himalaya.

Note that the Spiel des Jahres award is primarily aimed at family gamers, i.e., those who play games but aren't heavily into the gaming scene.

Board Game: Cascadia
Board Game: SCOUT
Board Game: Top Ten

Nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2022 went to:

Cryptid, from Hal Duncan, Ruth Veevers, and Osprey Games (and in Germany from Skelling Games)
Dune: Imperium, from Paul Dennen and Dire Wolf
Living Forest, from Aske Christiansen and Ludonaute (and in Germany from Pegasus Spiele)

The SdJ jury recommended three other titles at the Kennerspiel level: Ark Nova, Khôra: Rise of an Empire, and Witchstone.

The winners of the Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres will be announced in Berlin, Germany on July 16, 2022.

Board Game: Cryptid
Board Game: Dune: Imperium
Board Game: Living Forest

The titles nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres 2022 are:

Auch schon clever, from Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele
Mit Quacks & Co. nach Quedlinburg, from Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele
Zauberberg, a.k.a. Magic Mountain, from Jens-Peter Schliemann, Bernhard Weber, and AMIGO

The Kinderspiel des Jahres jury, which differs from the SdJ/KedJ jury, also recommended four other titles: Fröschis, Golden Ei, Honey, and Die Villa der Vampire.

The winner will be announced on June 20, 2022, roughly one month prior to the winners of the other awards.

Board Game: Auch schon clever
Board Game: Mit Quacks & Co. nach Quedlinburg
Board Game: Magic Mountain

Congratulations to all the nominated designers and publishers!
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Mon May 23, 2022 10:25 am
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Greater Than Games and Dice Hate Me Games Split; Compounded Gets Remixed

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• In February 2015, publisher Dice Hate Me Games merged with Greater Than Games, becoming one of three imprints in a newly reorganized line-up at GTG along with Sentinel Comics and Fabled Nexus.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

As of May 16, 2022, the two organizations have announced that they're going separate ways. Here's an excerpt from a press release announcing the split:
Quote:
Of the separation, Dice Hate Me Games President Chris Kirkman said, "Our merger in 2015 was a bold experiment to unite the brands, hoping to maintain the health and prosperity of both. Over time, the size and scope of Greater Than Games changed, and many games that fit the original vision of the Dice Hate Me brand no longer seem to fit that scope. Our experiment may be at an end, but both companies can and will make great games, even if apart. I look forward to returning Dice Hate Me Games to its roots."
The size and scope of Greater Than Games has changed thanks to both the acquisition of other studios — Nevermore Games in 2018, Cheapass Games in 2019 — and GTG's acquisition by Flat River Group in late 2021.

Under their separation agreement, Greater Than Games will keep the DHMG titles Compounded, Bottom of the 9th, and Legends of Sleepy Hollow. Dice Hate Me Games will have both the rights and the remaining stock of all other former Dice Hate Me Games titles, Nevermore Games' Dark Dealings and Spires, and Fate of the Elder Gods from GTG's Fabled Nexus imprint.

Board Game: Compounded
Board Game: Bottom of the 9th
Board Game: Spires
Board Game: Fate of the Elder Gods

• Speaking of Compounded, a Darrell Louder design that debuted in 2013, Greater Than Games has announced a June 14, 2022 launch date for Compounded: The Peer Reviewed Edition as well as Lab Notes: The Chem Lab Roll-and-Write.

Louder, who is currently creative director for Greater Than Games, shared these prototype pics on Twitter:

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Mon May 16, 2022 3:00 pm
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Links: Czech Designers, Thor's Hammer, and Our Family Plays Games on Social Media

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Mik and Starla Fitch of Our Family Plays Games were featured in the documentary film The First Twenty: Social from Dehanza Rogers, a film on activism and Black cultural identity that debuted on May 10, 2022 and that explores "the role of social media as a source of joy, pain, and transformation".

The title "The First Twenty" refers to the first twenty years of the 21st century, and this film series is hosted by ALL ARTS. You can watch a 30-second preview of the show or a minute-long excerpt of Mik and Starla's interview or of course the entire film via the ALL ARTS app.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Screenshot from the preview

• On April 28, 2022, the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, a publication of the U.S. Army installation at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, published an article titled "Board-based wargame used for CGSC elective". Here's an excerpt from that article:
Quote:
Sustainment students from the Command and General Staff College used a board-based wargame to practice principles of sustainment in their elective class April 22 at the Lewis and Clark Center.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Image: Dan Neal/Army University Public Affairs

The game, Thor's Hammer, (not related to the commercial e-game of the same name), set in Norway and Sweden, was designed by game-design students at Georgetown University in cooperation with the Department of Sustainment and Force Management at CGSC. CGSC's Department of Simulation Education assisted in the design and development of the game...

During the after-action review, students pointed out some game issues such as the game favoring defense over offense and allowing for regeneration of units that could not be regenerated in the field. They were also able to see how the game reinforced the principles of sustainment, principally anticipation, survivability and integration, and how during the game they changed the priority of supply or priority of support to adjust for game events.
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In a column on ICv2, Paul Alexander Butler, owner of Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie, Maryland, wrote about the rising price of miniatures and how not all price increases are the same. An excerpt:
Quote:
My store Games and Stuff is fairly miniatures-heavy; minis and related paints and accessories account for over 25% of my overall sales. We carry a lot of miniatures lines and probably too many paint lines. However, those customers that are the traditional wargamer/hobbyist types (i.e. competitive players and serious modelers and painters) probably spend on average more money than any other category of customer. It's highly unlikely a new gamer is going to come into your store and want to dip their toes into something like The Horus Heresy. That's a hobby product for a hobby customer. In some respects, that end of the minis market has a fair amount of tolerance with regards to price increases. Games Workshop has been raising prices near yearly for ages, and I only see more units moved each year.

What's more complicated is the matter of WizKids. I don't even think of my average D&D Nolzur's or Pathfinder Deep Cuts customer as a "miniatures" customer, but as an "RPG" customer. And as such, they're looking for different things from a miniature product. Usually, it's price, convenience, and a certain grab-and-go functionality.

So far, those latter two points are winning against rising prices, but they won't forever.
Czech Games Edition hired Eleni Papadopoulou from Cardboard Rhino as an in-house content creator, and during a CGE retreat she interviewed Vlaada Chvátil, Tomáš Uhlíř, Adam Španěl, Ondra Skoupý, and Elwen & Mín to get them to answer frequently asked questions, starting with how to pronounce their names:

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Sat May 14, 2022 1:00 pm
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Links: The 2022 Deutscher Spielepreis, Spiel des Jahres Support, and Sid Sackson in "Fields of Play"

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• Voting for the 2022 Deutscher Spielepreis is now open. Click on that link to submit your top five games of the past twelve months, then confirm your vote by clicking on the link sent to you. You can also list a single children's game.

Details on the voting process are here in German, with no deadline listed, but with the organizers noting that more than one hundred games will be awarded among those with confirmed entries.

• In April 2022, the Spiel des Jahres committee announced that it plans to spend €69,000 on 122 projects in 2022, with many of those projects involving the placement of modern board games in after-school care centers and all-day elementary schools. Here's a translated excerpt from the announcement: "...both after-school care centers and open all-day elementary schools will be significantly expanded over the next few years and will thus reach more children. From 2026 there will be a legal entitlement to all-day education, which will be gradually introduced from the first grade. This opens up new opportunities to actively accompany children in discovering the latest board games."

In total, over ten years the Spiel des Jahres funding program has supported 517 projects with €550,000.

Board Game: That's Pretty Clever!
• In an April 2022 blog post, Bruno Faidutti laments the rise of "indirect interaction" in games, the notion that players are each doing their own thing, typically on their own game board, and interfering with one another only in passing, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. An excerpt:
Quote:
Indirect interaction is therefore a versatile double-sided euphemism, meaning sometimes effective randomness with fake interaction and sometimes direct interaction but, shh, we should not say it. The strange success of this expression is a consequence of a very worrying trend, the idea that we should respect in games the same moral rules we should — and often don't — respect in real life. Or if we don't, we should at least make some effort and use a few long and empty words to fake it. Randomness is unfair in the real world, so there should be no randomness in games. Hitting one's neighbour is bad in the real world, so we should not do it in games.

This strange idea is mostly a way not to deal with the issues of the real world, and derives from a total misunderstanding of what a game is. We play games for the fun of being carried away by the crazy randomness we are carefully avoiding in the real world. We play games for the fun of backstabbing our best friends, something we usually don't do in the real world. It is the exact opposite. If you remove randomness, violence, and intrigue from games, there will be very little left — may be just indirect interaction.
• An old link I just uncovered: In February 2021, Charles Curtis of USA Today profiled NFL linebacker Cassius Marsh about his love for Magic: The Gathering and the opening of his card and collectables shop Cash Cards Unlimited in Westlake Village, California.

• In April 2022, the BBC noted the 40th anniversary of its coverage of tabletop games in its "Fields of Play" documentary series with this clip focusing on designer Sid Sackson:


And here's the 12-minute clip from which this bit was excerpted:

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Sat May 7, 2022 1:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2022 Preview Is Live; Masks No Longer Required at the Show

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With conventions scheduled to take place somewhat as normal in 2022, I've started assembling convention previews once again, with the Origins Game Fair 2022 Preview now live on BGG.

The preview lists barely more than a dozen titles right now, but it will fill out more as we get closer to Origins, which runs June 8-12, and as we work our way through publisher surveys about games that they will sell or demo at Origins, Gen Con 2022, and SPIEL '22. Yes, I'm working on all three of those previews at once, and I'll have assistance from Stephen Cordell in doing so, which should be a huge help in staying up-to-date once we move into June and publishers started flooding out announcements.

Speaking of Origins, on April 29, 2022, organizers announced an update to its "covid safety plan to reflect that mask usage is highly recommended, but not required to attend". An excerpt from the announcement:
Quote:
Please be aware that we have not made this decision lightly and believe that it is the prudent course of action to reflect where we currently are with the goal of having a safe and productive show for our exhibitors and sponsors.

Please be aware that we will continue our policy that all attendees and partners who are eligible to be vaccinated, do so and provide proof of vaccination to attend the convention. Photo or the actual card are acceptable. You will need to have received you second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine or the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine by May 24, 2022, to be admitted to enter.
John Stacy, Executive Director of GAMA, explained the reason for this change in a series of tweets, noting that "This decision was made by me as executive director of GAMA in consultation with other large-scale conventions, both inside and outside our industry, and a review of our local health requirements in Columbus Ohio." Here are excerpts from those tweets in a paragraph format:
Quote:
Most of the attendees at Origins drive to the show from the states around Ohio. And it was becoming clear that the mask mandate was discouraging many of them to attend. I prefer masks and will wear mine, as least to keep the con crud down if nothing else. But in this part of the Midwest, people are not wearing masks in everyday life. Many of our past attendees have been very vocal about why it didn’t make sense to require masks if none of the hotels, restaurants or shops around the convention were doing likewise. And to be honest I cannot fault their logic.

My primary job with Origins is to make sure our exhibitors, many of whom are our members, have a safe, productive and profitable show. They spend a lot of money to attend the show and I want to make it a good investment of their time, energy, and money by having as many attendees as possible to discover and buy their products... Therefore I believe that requiring proof of vaccination is a more effective safety measure than masks, which are often worn improperly or not at all. I agreed that wearing N95/KN95 masks and vaccines are the best way forward for a B2B show like GAMA EXPO, but for a consumer show like Origins I have to meet our attendees where they are, and by and large that is not wearing masks.

[B]ecause we understand that some exhibitors would not be comfortable with this decision, we extended the roll-over period for exhibitors till May 11, which is two weeks after we notified them and three weeks prior to the show. We have had a few exhibitors elect to rollover and that we support that as its [sic] what is best for their teams. However, at the end of the day I have do what I believe is the best for the other exhibitors to make sure I can get at many attendees as possible to at the show.

Will this change make some people decide to stay home? Yes, I am sure it will. I also believe that it is the best course forward to make sure those who decide to come at the last minute have one less reason to stay away.
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Sun May 1, 2022 3:00 pm
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Links: Sales in the City of Games, Cheating for Charizard, and Neolithic History Explored

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Board Game Publisher: The City of Games
• In mid-April 2022, designer Frank West of The City of Games published a five-year summary of revenue received by the company (£5,648,209.36 before costs), number of games and other products sold (530,786), and other statistics that make for fascinating reading should you be a small publisher or be considering a step in that direction.

West writes:
Quote:
I think the most important lesson from the years has been how much of a community this industry is. I started as an unknown designer and publisher, and over the years I have built up a successful company. I've learned by reading freely available content online and chatting with other people in the industry.

This isn't a competitive industry, everyone wants to grow together, I've made hundreds of friends over the years and look forward to every new encounter. If you're just starting on your own journey, then I recommend you reach out to people, start conversations on social media, say hello at conventions, and become an active member of the community.
Board Game Publisher: Grey Gnome Games
• For more advice from small publishers, let's turn to designer Jason Glover of Grey Gnome Games, who details in a post on his website why he left Kickstarter after a dozen successful crowdfunding campaigns for the "Crowd Sales" service on The Game Crafter. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Quote:
What makes the Crowd Sale unique is that the entire process is handled by a single company, the Game Crafter. They host the actual crowd-funding platform, they manufacture the entire game here in the United States, and they fulfill all the orders! All I have to do is upload the files and build the page and launch. They do the rest.

Board Game: Doom Realm
Board Game: Desolate
Board Game: Stew

One more very important difference needs to be mentioned. Crowd Sales do not have stretch goals. I hated having to come up with crazy stretch goals to entice backers on Kickstarter. Now I can simply design a complete game that has everything you need to play on day one. You might not think that sounds like too much fun for the backers. Well, Crowd Sales do something quite different that I absolutely love, and it is one of the major reasons I run Crowd Sales. Instead of stretch goals, the price of the game drops with every ten backers up to 100 backers and then again at 500 and 1000 backers! We are talking anywhere from 30-40% off the game. Now that is an incentive to back a project. It should be noted that all backers get the final, and lowest, price.
Quote:
My second Crowd Sale was for the expansion to Desolate, and it did well with 144 backers and $3,186 in funding. I also sold quite a few other games in my library because you can link other games, so backers can add them on during checkout. I ended up making about thousand bucks in profits on that one. This is when I knew this Crowd Sale thing could work and I have not looked back. A thousand dollars may not seem like much, but remember I was only making a few thousand dollars on my Kickstarters and they required ten times the work.
Board Game: Iron Helm
Board Game: Gate
From gallery of W Eric Martin

Grover's most recent Crowd Sale campaigns for Tin Helm and Iron Chest, the final expansion for his Iron Helm line, netted him $11,000 and $13,000 respectively. Writes Glover, "Yes, I am sure many Kickstarters and Gamefound campaigns are crushing these figures, and I applaud folks that can stomach that level of commitment, but I am not one of those people. That is why I will continue to use this platform and enjoy my free time."

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• On Space-Biff!, Dan Thurot has posted an excellent essay about a trilogy of card games — Neolithic, Bronze Age, and The Middle Ages — from designer John Clowdus of Small Box Games. Here's an excerpt from "Talking About Games: Excavating Memory":
Quote:
In each of Clowdus's history games, you play as someone trying to elevate your culture. It's the stepladder theory of history. Whether you're the chief of a stone age tribe, the king of a mercantile power on the cusp of ironworking, or a petty lord desperate to escape the squalor of the 14th century, your goal is the same...

Board Game: Neolithic
Board Game: Bronze Age
Board Game: The Middle Ages

In the study of history, one of the first things you learn is that when you read a history book you're really reading two histories: the history the book is about, and the history of whomever wrote the book. The same is true here. When we play Neolithic, we glimpse our past. We remember that for the vast majority of human history, we wandered from place to place, gathering calories and living according to cycles of day and night, summer and monsoon, birth and death. It's also true, though, that we view all that time — hundreds of thousands of years, millions of years — through the lens of Enlightenment thinkers who offered particular opinions about our "innate natures". That we were warlike or peaceful. Socialist or market-oriented. Edenic or barbaric. Shrewd or simpleton. Settler or migrant. Those opinions were also loaded, informed by the rhetorical needs and goals of those thinkers. Because we haven't quite broken free of those arguments, we still think about prehistory on their terms. Even all the doublets I offered a moment ago are loaded in ways I can't see, so thick is the water I swim in. Instead, the more we learn about prehistory, the more we discover that the people we once were are much like the people we currently are. They experimented with a wide range of governments, trade styles, innovations, values, religions, civilizations. Some of them settled, some migrated, and some switched from settlements to migration or the other way around. There were doubters and followers and leaders and schemers, in all their variety. There was no singular trajectory.

TL;DR: When we look at Neolithic, we see a particular understanding of neolithic history, one which necessarily exempts a wide range of other interpretations.
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Game reviewer Wieland Herold passed away on Thursday, April 21, 2022 at age 71. Herold started reviewing games in the 1980s, co-founded the magazine Spiel & Autor, co-organized the annual Göttingen game designer event, blogged game reviews regularly at Mit 80 Spiele durch das Jahr, and was a member of the Spiel des Jahres association from 1995 to 2019. You can find an obituary on the SdJ website.

• In March 2022, Neil Vigdor wrote in The New York Times about an unusual property seizure case taking place in the state of Georgia in the U.S. An excerpt:
Quote:
The man, Vinath Oudomsine, 31, of Dublin, Ga., was sentenced to three years in federal prison on Friday, according to prosecutors, who said that he pleaded guilty last October to defrauding a loan program operated by the Small Business Administration.

In January 2021, Mr. Oudomsine spent $57,789 of loan proceeds from the program on the [rare Pokémon trading] card, a first-edition Charizard released in 1999 that features a dragon-like creature from the Pokémon franchise, court documents show.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Five months earlier, he had received an $85,000 loan from the program for his small "entertainment services" business, which prosecutors said that he had claimed had 10 employees and gross revenues of $235,000 during the 12 months before the coronavirus pandemic. However, prosecutors said, there was no such business.
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Links: Game Donations from The Spiel Foundation, and Advice for Aspiring Publishers

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In March 2022, Eric Hanuise of Flatlined Games released his book Board Game Publisher, which is subtitled "Better than a real job", which may or may not be sarcastic. Perhaps both.

Here's the pitch for this book, which can be purchased either digitally or in a softcover format at DriveThruRPG or at Lulu.com:
Quote:
The tabletop games market has never been as large and diversified as today, yet there are few books that focus on the business aspects of publishing tabletop games. In this book Eric Hanuise, founder of boardgames publisher Flatlined Games, shares his experience learned from years of publishing:

—The whole publication process, from the author's prototype to the finished game on the retailer's shelves
—The different jobs available in the industry
—Setting up your publishing company
—Contracts with authors and artists
—Manufacturing board games
—Safety and legal obligations
—Distribution and logistics
—Retail, direct sales and crowdfunding
—Fairs, conventions and events
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In March 2022, The Spiel Foundation completed a long-term charity project by delivering 2,036 board game bundles — more than 10,000 games total — to a variety of organizations. From the press release:
Quote:
Every bundle contains five quality board and card games and is provided to each organization for free. The bundles are sent to a wide range of organizations that serve the community: Boys & Girls Clubs, hospitals, libraries, shelters, senior centers, and schools. Each game in a bundle is prepped for play; its components are assembled and bagged, so pieces are less likely to be lost.

Game bundles were delivered to five different countries and two U.S. territories: Nigeria, The Philippines, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.

Twenty-eight different game titles were donated or purchased from ten different publishers: Ravensburger, Bézier Games, HABA, Tabletop Tycoon, IBM Research, Mind the Gap, Fort Circle Games, Laboratory H, Treecer, and 25th Century Games.
Board Game: Francis Drake
• In March 2022, game designer Peter Hawes was featured in the Daily Mail Australia for purchasing "a large parcel of property on the Sovereign Islands, on Queensland's Gold Coast, for $7.8 million". While the article's headline describes him as a "Board game mogul", the article notes that Hawes is a "doctor and former athlete", in case you thought he was living high on Francis Drake money.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• As I wrote about in February 2022, Toy Fair New York is shifting away from its traditional third-week-in-February timeslot, with the 2023 show now scheduled for September 30 to October 3 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. From the press release announcing this show:
Quote:
The Toy Association's Board of Directors, comprised of executives from companies of all sizes, made the decision to shift the tradeshow's timing to fall from February based on a number of factors, many of which were accelerated by the pandemic. These factors include, but are not limited to, extended lead-times in production supply chain and sourcing and evolved retailer purchasing cycles. The findings were gleaned from multiple member surveys and research work done by consulting firm mdg as part of a multi-year long process to "reimagine" the future of Toy Fair.
In addition, following the cancellation of the 2022 TFNY, a one-time "2023 Preview & 2022 Holiday Market" will be held in Dallas, Texas on September 20-22, 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• The American Tabletop Awards have been awarded for 2022, and the winners (and their categories) are:

Happy City, by Toshiki and Airu Sato (early gamers)
Cubitos, by John D. Clair (casual games)
Cascadia, by Randy Flynn (strategy games)
Lost Ruins of Arnak, by Elwen and Mín (complex games)

Board Game: Happy City
Board Game: Cubitos
Board Game: Cascadia
Board Game: Lost Ruins of Arnak
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Support for Ukraine from Publishers and Game Industry Professionals

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
With Russia's invasion of Ukraine still ongoing at this point, many game publishers are taking action to support the citizens of Ukraine, either through direct donations or through the release of special items intended to raise funds.

• In early March 2022, for example, Mattel announced that it will "contribute $1M in toys and cash to support organizations on the front lines aiding refugee children and families from Ukraine. These include Save the Children and Polish local charities SOS Children's Villages and Caritas Polska." Beyond that:
Quote:
Mattel is also matching 100% of all employee donations globally to Save the Children for their work in Ukraine. We have witnessed inspiring volunteer efforts from Mattel employees, such as assembling and delivering kits filled with necessities and toys to local organizations, offering their own homes as shelter and delivering food to those impacted.

Over the coming weeks, Mattel will launch a special retailer sales program in Europe, with 100% of the proceeds of key products to be donated to other charities in neighboring countries including Poland and Czech Republic.
• On March 10, 2022, Asmodee announced that it "is donating €500,000 in addition to organizing first needs goods logistics on the ground, thanks to our local organizations in Poland and Germany. We're sending large numbers of board games to refugee camps in neighboring Ukranian countries, via various humanitarian organizations." (Asmodee's parent company, Embracer Group, plans to "dedicate at least USD 5 million into humanitarian aid across the group during the quarter ending March 31", with CEO Lars Wingefors noting that "By the end of 2021 we engaged approximately 250 people in Ukraine, 1,000 in Russia, and 250 in Belarus. We have been working hard to support the relocation and safety of many of our employees and family members who are willing to leave.")

• U.S. publisher Gamewright has published a special card for its 2021 title Happy City:
Quote:
[In 2021], our Ukrainian publishing partner chose to localize Happy City in their country. However, they had one significant request: replace the "bonus building" card that features Moscow's Red Square with a Ukraine-centric landmark. Honoring their wishes, our partner reached out to the game's artist who illustrated a vibrant scene that incorporates the iconic Golden Gate of Kyiv along with a monument of Yaroslav the Wise (one of the most famous princes of Kyiv). But just as production was about to start, the conflict escalated, leading up to the tragic situation we now know. As a result, Happy City cannot be released in Ukraine.
Even so, you can acquire the "Golden Gate of Kyiv" card for Happy City by purchasing it from the Gamewright website, with all proceeds being donated to Global Giving's Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Should you wish to purchase the card in French, you can do so from originating publisher Cocktail Games, which will donate funds to the "Crisis in Ukraine" effort of The International Committee of the Red Cross.

• Along similar lines, Andrii Pertsov, who is the owner of publisher Fun Games Shop in Kyiv, Ukraine is holding a Kickstarter campaign in partnership with publisher Vesuvius Media for the Ukranian edition of Catapult Feud. Here's part of a press release from Vesuvius Media:
Quote:
All was going great, the games were produced in January, and on their way to Ukraine. Then, on February 24, war broke out, leaving the games in limbo and a country in ruins.

"From the first days of the war, we converted our warehouse into a community shelter for families to use. After several days, we managed to get our families to the city of Lviv, leaving a dire situation behind," said Pertsoy. "We have no idea when we will be able to return."

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Together with Vesuvius Media, Fun Games Shop launched the Kickstarter campaign for the Ukrainian edition of Catapult Feud on Sunday, March 13. The funds raised will go towards regaining the costs of production and to help rebuild some of what was lost during the war.
The pledge manager will include an option in which you can "[d]onate pledge rewards to a child in Ukraine".

Ares Games sold its final nine copies of The Battle of Five Armies Collector's Edition for $1,200 each, with all funds going to Red Cross International and MSF, a.k.a., Doctors Without Borders.

Board Game: The Battle of Five Armies Collector's Edition

Why did Ares still have numbered copies 1,492 to 1,500 on hand? From the press release:
Quote:
These nine copies have a special story. They were left unfinished at the factory for several months, as there was a shortage of a small component (the standard combat dice) at the end of production. Later on, Ares managed to find very similar dice in a different color and completed the manufacturing. This small difference is acknowledged by a special signed letter included in the copies and signed by Ares' director of production and co-author of the game, Roberto Di Meglio. Now, these copies will be even more special, as the proceeds of their sales are devolved to a cause we deem worthy.
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Wargame publisher Avalanche Press is releasing a short book from designer and company co-founder Mike Benninghof titled Steppe and Sky: A Brief History of Ukraine, with all funds of the $15 book aside from credit card fees going to "Catholic Relief Services' mission assisting Ukrainian refugees in Poland".

• UK publisher Modiphius Entertainment held a PDF charity drive that raised £10,000 for Ukraine-relief charities.

Additionally, on March 23, 2022, Chris and Rita Birch from Modiphius are launching RollVsEvil, a not-for-profit limited company "to give our gaming community a way to support small groups and charities working directly on the ground where we can see verifiable immediate results and know that we are changing lives", with the organization's first campaign being "in support of people suffering from the invasion of Ukraine".

Munchkin artist John Kovalic has drawn a special print — Ukraine: A Very Hard Stare — with profits from sales going to World Central Kitchen, and Munchkin publisher Steve Jackson Games is doing something similar with its Munchkin Ukraine Charity T-shirt.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

This list is certainly not comprehensive, and I invite you to comment with other efforts and donations of which you know.
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Wed Mar 23, 2022 1:00 pm
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Flat River Group Acquires Luma Imports and Synapses Games

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In December 2021, distributor, consolidator, and retail partner Flat River Group acquired U.S. publisher Greater Than Games.

On March 14, 2022, on the first day of GAMA Expo 2022, Flat River Group has announced the acquisition of distributor (and one-time publisher) Luma Imports and Canadian publisher Synapses Games. Here's most of the press release announcing this deal:
Quote:
Founded in 2018 and based in Delaware, Luma Imports represents the English-language catalogues for a roster of European publishers such as Horrible Guild, Bombyx Studios, Sit Down!, Holy Grail Games, and many others. They also distribute Synapses Games, which was founded in 2018 and is based in Montréal, Canada. They publish the award-winning Cóatl, as well as the upcoming Betta and Draw the Line, and are distributed in more than 40 countries.

"My relationships with Matt and Carl go back through many organizations and many years," said Jules Vautour, president and founder of Luma Imports. "FRG has been a key partner in Luma's success. The synergy that already exists between the Luma, FRG, and Synapses teams promises a smooth transition and ensures the continuation of growth between our teams and the publishers we represent."

"My team and I are thrilled to join the Flat River Group and continue working with the Luma Imports team," said Carl Brière, publisher and founder of Synapses Games. "The board game industry has been expanding rapidly over the past few years and this marriage of companies will allow us to achieve even greater heights thanks to our complementary strengths."

Jules and Carl have worked together previously at both Asmodee USA and CMON and have collaborated extensively with their existing companies. Both are very excited to bring their respective companies into Flat River Group and resume their long-standing working relationship.

"We've worked with Jules and Carl for almost a decade, and we place a great value on their skills and relationships in the industry," said Matt Stahlin, president of Flat River Group. "We are excited about what this means for our ability to find great games earlier in their life cycle and get them into the hands of consumers through both hobby and mass retail channels. This fits in well with our recent acquisition of Greater than Games."
Here's a short description of Flat River Group, the nature of which will continue to be difficult to summarize in the future:
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Established in 2011, Flat River Group has over a decade of experience as a leading 1st party ecommerce partner. They take their vendors' businesses to the next level by owning their inventory and accelerating rapid sales growth, all while maintaining vendors' brand integrity and elevating reputation. Flat River Group buys inventory, warehouses it, sells it to 15+ major ecommerce retailers, manages product listings and inventory, and fulfills dropship and distribution center orders. They are truly a unique partner, with 1st Party Seller (1P) status and best-in-class dropship capability. They specialize in partnering with consumer goods manufacturers including toys & games, pets, baby, outdoor sporting goods and more. The company is based in Belding, Michigan, U.S. and has three other locations in Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri. Flat River Group has earned the honor of being listed as one of Inc. Magazine's Inc. 5000 fastest growing private companies in America three times, in 2016, 2017 and 2021.
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Tue Mar 15, 2022 1:00 pm
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Gamefound Teases Andromeda's Edge, Thorgal, Ra, Oak, and Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies

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On March 7, 2022, crowdfunding site Gamefound launched Gamefound Feast — teasers for upcoming games that will be (if all goes as intended) funded by backers and delivered to them down the road.

One of these titles — Thorgal: The Board Game from designers Joanna Kijanka, Jan Maurycy Święcicki, and Rafał Szyma — will likely not be a surprise given that publisher Portal Games announced the game in early March 2022, and has already used Gamefound to fund projects such as Robinson Crusoe: Collector's Edition (GF link), Eleven (GF link), and 51st State: Ultimate Edition (GF link, which is still open until March 8, 2022). Here's a link to the draft of the Thorgal Gamefound campaign.

Similarly, Belgian publisher Game Brewer plans to launch a Gamefound campaign for Wim Goossens' Oak on March 14, 2022 on the heels of its campaign for a new edition of The Palaces of Carrara. Here's an overview of this 1-4 player game:
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In the center of a vast, but secret forest stands the Arch-Oak — a majestic tree that was already a sapling when the world was still young. It is even said that from its wood, the Gods crafted the first humans and animals.

Druidic orders from far and wide flock together around its roots to bathe in its glory. Arch-druids sanctify sacred places and erect rune-etched monoliths, while bards tell the tallest tales to recruit a greater following. Ovates read the omens to gain a glimpse of the things to come, while sacrificers use force to defend their Order's beliefs.

Board Game: Oak

Oak puts you in the role of the leader of one of four different druid orders, with you attempting to establish that your order deserves to be chosen by the Arch-Oak's spirit to stay and learn its secrets. Your order starts out small and insignificant, but if you choose your actions wisely and use your druids efficiently, you will see it grow in power and stature. You will gain the friendship and help of otherworldly creatures like the mischievous brownie, the terrible merrow, and the magical pixies. You will learn powerful spells of the wild and uncover mighty artifacts. You might even risk upsetting the natural balance by creating new sacred places in the forest to house your growing flock of druids.

Will you be able to prove to the Arch-Oak that your order is worthy? Will you be able to unlock the secrets of the ancients?
The other projects, however, will be a surprise, whether because the game is being newly announced or because the publisher has not used Gamefound previously. One of the upcoming projects, for example, is Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies, a standalone sequel to Ryan Laukat's Sleeping Gods from Red Raven Games. Here's an overview of this title:
Quote:
San Francisco, 1937: Your cargo plane flies through a portal in the sky, transporting you to a rugged landscape filled with bizarre creatures, scheming gods, and untold dangers. But can you find your way back before the portal closes?

From gallery of W Eric Martin

As in the original Sleeping Gods, in Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies you and your friends trek through a vast landscape as you read branching storylines and meet vivid characters, but in this game you interact with the atlas on a deeper level — camping, exploring, overcoming obstacles, and searching for lost relics. The new action system allows you even greater agency while you travel and explore.

In addition to the exploration and quest system from the original game, Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies features a fresh spin on combat. Players now build a combat deck from which they draw a varied hand of cards to play, making each combat encounter a fresh and dynamic puzzle.

Although Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies builds on story elements in the first game, you do not need to play Sleeping Gods to enjoy this sequel. The game features new characters and storylines, explaining concepts from the original game as you encounter them.
I've already mentioned twice that U.S. publisher 25th Century Games is releasing a new edition of Reiner Knizia's Ra, but what's news here is that after ten successful campaigns at Kickstarter, Chad Elkins of 25th Century Games is launching the crowdfunding campaign for Ra on Gamefound.

Similarly, after two wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns for Joking Hazard (KS link) and Trial by Trolley (KS link), the creators of webcomic Cyanide & Happiness are bringing their next project to Gamefound — although they have not yet revealed what that project will be.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Finally we come to Andromeda's Edge, a design from Luke Laurie (Dwellings of Eldervale) and Cardboard Alchemy for 1-5 players. Here's a teaser about the game from the publisher's campaign draft:
Quote:
Behold, Andromeda's Edge: A dazzling, uncharted region of space on the edge of the Andromeda galaxy. Littered with the modular debris of the precursor civilization, patrolled by malicious extragalactic raiders, and bordered by dense nebulae, The Edge is a last resort for the brave and foolhardy who seek a new life beyond the oppressive reach of the Lords of Unity.

Board Game: Andromeda's Edge

In Andromeda's Edge, a game that features individual player powers, worker placement, area control, tableau-engine building, hand management, and dice battles, you lead a desperate faction seeking to build a new civilization on Andromeda's Edge. You begin with only a space station, a few ships, and a handful of resources. By carefully placing your ships, you gather resources, claim moons, acquire modules to add to your station, populate planets, and build developments on them. You battle opponents and compete with others in science, industry, commerce, government, and supremacy.
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Mon Mar 7, 2022 5:09 pm
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