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GAMA Expo 2022: Eric's Scrapbook

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
This post finally wraps my coverage of GAMA Expo 2022, and while much of what's included below has no relation to games, I thought it might be nice to convey elements of the con experience that most of us have been passing over the past two years.

Yes, I attended Gen Con 2021 and BGG.CON 2021, but those shows didn't feel normal — as much as any convention can feel "normal", mind you — whereas GAMA Expo 2022 felt like the traditional coming together of like-minded folks who are abuzz with excitement over what they've created and are bringing to others.

Anyway, here's my non-gaming scrapbook from GAMA Expo 2022:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I know that hotels in the U.S. typically don't have a 13th floor, and some airlines follow this practice by not having a row #13, but what's with United Airlines' missing row #33?!

I've searched for details, and the only partial answer I can find is that when United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged in 2010, United adopted the numbering system of Continental, which left out row #33. (In the years prior, row #33 existed on at least some United flights as I found a detailed report about the happenings on United Flight 93, which mentions the rows in which people were seated.) This 2011 article from CNN details some of the oddness in United's then new numbering system, but fails to mention row #33. Here's an excerpt:
Quote:
First class will continue to start at row 1, but now every domestic airplane will have coach starting at row 7 for consistency. And the exit row will now start at row 20, regardless of what row was before it. That means in the new configuration on an A319, for example, there will be a jump from row 12 to row 20.

Consistency can make a big difference in a case like this, especially when airplanes have to be swapped at the last minute. The exit row seats are saved for the airline's most-valued customers because of the extra legroom. So, one of the most important frequent fliers may be booked in that prime exit row window seat, 12A, on one of United's A320 aircraft. But United has two seating configurations on its A320s, so what if the airline needs to change the airplane? Not only is row 12 not an exit row, but it's not even in Economy Plus anymore. That is going to be one unhappy traveler.

Going forward, if that traveler was booked in row 20 in an exit row, he will continue to be in an exit row even if the airplane is swapped. And now anyone sitting in rows 7 through 21 will be in Economy Plus, the rows that provide extra legroom for an additional cost, regardless of the airplane. This will make it a lot easier to please customers when the inevitable aircraft swap happens.
History lives on in barely noticed details.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Here's how my suitcase came off the plane, which I didn't notice until after I had blued my hands and pants. Strange, but handwipes eventually returned the suitcase to its pristine silver plastic.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I played a prototype in the lobby from Forever Stoked Creative while waiting for the exhibit hall to open. No details since the designers are still trying to place the game, but I invite you to ponder what might be going on here...

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Taking photos through glass can lead to nicely trippy images like these, with the sitting area of my room bleeding into the pool or the "Hand of God" appearing over the parking lot.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

If you want to capture the ridiculousness of Reno and Las Vegas in a single image, this might do it. Instead of providing hotel guests with one decent showerhead, the Peppermill Resort Hotel provides them with two weak showerheads. Everything in excess, even mediocrity!

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

For a couple of hours on Wednesday while I wandered the exhibit hall, I kept receiving images like the ones above. I eventually decided that the sender would not realize that they were sending pics to the wrong person, so I had to let them know:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Twenty minutes later, I received all of the images again! "This is still Eric receiving the photos", I wrote. "Sorry again. I really don't know what I'm doing (senior moments)". A few minutes later: "I got it now. Thanks for your patience!"

Future GAMA Expos will henceforth be known as Joanie's birthday bash.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Ceaco, parent company of publisher Gamewright, publishes jigsaw puzzles under its own name, and I could not stop goggling at this all-American oddity on display: a jigsaw puzzle of a painting of Superman fighting Doomsday from Thomas Kinkade Studios. I mean what the what?

If I ever again need to define "cheesy" for a foreign exchange student — something I've had to do in the past — I can now point to this puzzle as Exhibit A. Yes, I can literally point to it as the Ceaco representative kindly let me take this puzzle home. I'll treasure it always.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

If you are an editor, whether for game rulebooks or other written material, you can probably guess why this sign irked me. Sure, the random capital "G" is one prick, but that's not the main grammatical failure here. Let me make the problem clearer:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Whenever you create a list of actions, e.g., when you tell someone how to set up components in a game, you should use parallel construction throughout that list. Don't create a list in which eleven of the items start with an imperative — wash, apply, rub, lather, etc. — then end with a sentence in a different format. Either break from parallel construction multiple times so that you're not signaling a particular format to the reader or — and this would be the better approach — stick with the parallel construction all the way through! Say something like "Marvel at your clean hands" or "Show off your sparkling mitts" or "Get ready for hygienic high fives" or anything else, so long as it starts with an imperative. Come on!

From gallery of W Eric Martin

After the exhibit hall had closed for the final time on Thursday, Timm Metivier and I found an empty room and played two games of Innovation, splitting them and thereby positioning us for a rematch at some later convention.

Innovation remains my favorite game of all time, and I posted an overview of my evolutionary thinking about the game in this 2012 post. I often feel I'd be happy to play only Innovation, but that would make it hard to do my job, so I'll hold off on that for now.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

No trip to Reno, Nevada would be complete without Joey Gilbert greeting you at the airport. Goodbye, Joey Gilbert! See you in 2023!
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Mon Apr 18, 2022 4:00 pm
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Snatch Coins, Avoid Dinosaurs, Fight Mutants, and Use Fire for Light

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Okay, this is the next-to-last post about GAMA Expo 2022, and as often happens with convention coverage, I'm moving back in time with my coverage, ending with what I saw first — in this case, games on display in the media room.

Fireside Games had mock-up versions of Castle Panic: Deluxe and Castle Panic: Crowns and Quests, which are (as of March 2022) expected to be produced in October 2022 for possible delivery in December 2022.

In its Kickstarter campaign for these items and the larger Castle Panic: Deluxe Collection, Fireside Games had anticipated a May 2022 delivery date, but release delays have been a running theme throughout news from GAMA Expo 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Speaking of which, Wise Wizard Games expects to release Robot Quest Arena — a deck-building game of robot combat from Paul Waite and co-publisher Perfect Day Games — in Q4 2022, whereas the Kickstarter campaign had anticipated a May 2022 delivery to backers.

Wise Wizard's edition of KAPOW! — a dice-based superhero combat game from Larry Bogucki, Douglas Hettrick, and Carl Van Ostrand that was funded on Kickstarter in December 2020 — is also expected out in Q4 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Sunlight through adjacent windows washed out many colors

A Royal Will from Marlon Fussell of MEGA MINT Games is all about quick bluffing. Each player has a hand of two cards at the start of a round, and you play one card face up for its action and another face down for the coins. All of the hidden coin cards are then revealed, and if players are collectively grabbing more than what's in the pot, the players get nothing and whoever wanted the most coins has to pay two coins to the pot; otherwise, players then receive the coins they wanted. Keep playing rounds until someone hits ten coins.

A Royal Will was released in Q1 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Darkridge Reunion, from U.S. publisher Starlux Games, is a murder mystery-style party game in which you are also apparently at risk of being the one murdered.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Goryō is a January 2022 release from Andrea Candiani and GateOnGames in which one player embodies a goryō — that is, a spirit of vengeance — that is trying to smash five objects before the other player can determine which object in which room the goryō's spirit is bound to.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Another sun-drenched image for you

Fire for Light is a campaign adventure game from Will Sobel and Greenbrier Games in which players have multiple objectives in any one particular story, objectives that might be difficult to achieve due to bandits, the weather, and available tools, among other things. You can craft new tools for various effects and find ways to withstand the weather, with all of your actions having both near-term and long-term effects on how the campaign plays out.

Greenbrier Games stopped its initial Kickstarter campaign for this title and plans to relaunch in May 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
A small sampling of mock-up components

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns from Daryl Andrews, Morgan Dontanville, and Cryptozoic Entertainment should reach retail outlets before the end of April 2022. This game for 1-2 players allows you to play through the four chapters of Frank Miller's groundbreaking comic series, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Aside from visiting the media room, I met with Adam Minton from Funko Games for a playthrough of the tutorial level on Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, the Kickstarter campaign for which ended on April 11, 2022, so possibly I should have written about this session earlier, but here we are.

The gist of the game is that you're arriving fresh on Isla Nublar, which has nothing more than a helicopter landing pad, plans for a visitor center and a genetics lab, and four dinosaurs that are already roaming on the six regions of the island. Each player controls a character, some of which are from one of the Jurassic films and some of which have been created for this game, and during each of the five rounds you will collectively take nine actions, with your character having a bonus effect or action and supplies you discover also giving bonus actions. In our four-player game, each player had two actions, with the ninth action being available to whoever wanted it.

Board Game: Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

Each round has an event card — sometimes fixed, sometimes random — and at the start of the round you place a random sector card on each of the board's six sectors. If a character starts in a sector or moves into it, you reveal that card, which lets you know how any dinosaurs in that region will move at round's end, and that's important because carnivores will attack humans and herbivores. (I think herbivores might step on humans, too, but I don't recall.)

Among other actions, you can heal dinosaurs, and this is essential because the death of a dinosaur, not to mention one of the humans, causes consequences, by which I mean the revelation of one or more tokens in the upper right of the board. These consequence tokens are valued 0-2, and if the sum of them ever reaches 5, you lose the game. Thus, you need to build barriers, lure herbivores away from carnivores, heal wounded dinosaurs, and otherwise keep the peace, all while also trying to figure out how you can build the visitor center and a genetics lab, then use the tools in these locations to complete some of your objectives.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

We got lucky with many things large and small in our game, such as revealing a token that allowed us to set up the genetics lab early, with the player who can move efficiently through the lab being the one who set it up. The objectives for the genetics lab and visitor center involved token manipulation, and we didn't need that many turns to put things in the right order. The dice used for dinosaur attacks weren't quite as friendly, but they could have gone worse for us, with only one dino perishing during play.

The other two players, whose names I forgot to write down, were far more into the game than I was, but I think that's mostly because I have no nostalgia for Jurassic Park, the only one of the Jurassic films that I've seen. More generally, as much as I have enjoyed something, say, Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, I have almost no interest in experiencing it in a different medium. Miller's comic series had such an impact because it took everything you knew about the character and transformed it into a one-off story that actually had a resolution. I have no interest in pretending to be Batman and taking on the mutants, especially since it's been 30+ years since I first read that story. I'm happy to let the comics be comics and the movies be movies, and play a game that's not meant to be anything other than a game.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
That's right. Turn your backs on me because I'm done with you!
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Sun Apr 17, 2022 1:00 pm
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Embrace a King, Cause Anxiety in Others, and Make Way for Japanime

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Paco Ŝako
Okay, the end of GAMA Expo 2022 coverage is in sight, with perhaps only two more posts coming to wrap up happenings in Reno, Nevada.

Felix Albers' excellent chess-variant Paco Ŝako has been picked up for distribution on the U.S. market by Sullivans Distribution and Brands, a company that I had not heard of previously, but one that appears to function along the lines of Flat River Group, with Sullivans providing assistance with marketing, production, and distribution to get self-published titles greater exposure on the market.

If you're not familiar with Paco Ŝako, the short take is that you play the game similarly to chess, except that "captured" pieces are never removed from the board. Instead capturer and captured are combined into a single piece that each player can move. Your long-term goal is to create a union between one of your pieces and the opponent's king, thereby neutralizing that piece and ending the conflict. You can chain moves together by landing a piece on a union of pieces, thereby dislodging your piece, which must make another move immediately. For more details, check out my written and video overview from 2018.

Board Game: Paco Ŝako

Sullivans is also carrying titles such as Kids Against Maturity, which is a PG-rated version of Cards Against Humanity; Joke King, which allows you to create comic strips of a sort using individual comic panel cards; and Nick Seluk's Anxiety Attack!, among other games from the creator of The Awkward Yeti. In that latter game, you're trying to move others into "Anxiety Spiral" at the center of the board, after which they will attempt to burden others with anxiety until only one player remains unafflicted.

Board Game: Anxiety Attack!

• In one of my first GAMA Expo 2022 round-ups, I mentioned that TOKYO SIDEKICK from designer Yusuke Emi had just launched on the U.S. market from Japanime Games. Here's another pic of that monster design:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Turns out that a huge backlog of releases from Japanime Games will be hitting the U.S. market throughout 2022, assuming of course that pandemic-related matters don't further thwart manufacturing and shipping. Here's an overview of all that's coming:

Sailor Moon Crystal: Imposterous, from Richard Garfield and co-publisher Dyskami Publishing Company, with this design reimplementing Hive Mind to challenge players on their knowledge of the Sailor Moon Crystal anime. (out now)
Momiji from Dario Massarenti, Francesco Testini, and co-publisher Deer Games, with players trying to collect valuable autumn leaves. (out now)
ZU Tiles: Hime Starter Set 1, a tile-placement game that Joshua Bakken previously self-published through ZU Studios and that Japanime Games will now distribute (Q2 2022)

Board Game: Sailor Moon Crystal: Imposterous
Board Game: Momiji
Board Game: ZU Tiles: Hime Starter Set 1

Heiki Strike Alternative, from Afong Lee, Jesse Li, and co-publisher Moaideas Game Design, with players deploying "princesses and anthropomorphized weapons" to occupy battlefields. (Q2 2022)
Kamigami Battles: Rise of the Old Ones, from Rich Gain, with you playing a god that must defend your realm against others. (Q2 2022)
Kamigami Battles: The Stars Are Right and Kamigami Battles: Into the Dreamlands, each of which adds six gods to a Kamigami Battles standalone game. (Q3 2022)

Board Game: Heiki Strike Alternative
Board Game: Kamigami Battles: Rise of the Old Ones
Board Game: Kamigami Battles: The Stars Are Right
Board Game: Kamigami Battles: Into the Dreamlands

Latria, a simultaneous bidding game from Y. Ohashi and co-publisher Domina Games. (Q2 2022)
Night Clan, also from Y. Ohashi and Domina Games, challenges 2-4 players to outguess who will play which cards where while trying to eliminate others. (Q2 2022)
Margot: La fée, from EINO and Domina Games, with you trying to rescue more of your faerie kin than anyone else. (Q2 2022)

Board Game: Latria
Board Game: Night Clan
Board Game: Margot: La fée

CHAINsomnia, a co-operative game from 青山奨 (Shou Aoyama), 下見幸穂 (Yukio Shimami), 田谷由壮 (Yuso Taya), and co-publisher DELiGHTWORKS in which you attempt to escape from a castle and an eternity of sleep (Q3 2022)
Tokyo Ghoul: Bloody Masquerade, a secret role game from designer Florian Grenier and co-publisher Don't Panic Games in which players pass cards to one another to gain information bit by bit. (Q3 2022)

Board Game: CHAINsomnia
Board Game: Tokyo Ghoul: Bloody Masquerade
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Thu Apr 14, 2022 1:00 pm
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Conquer Northgard, Match Up Clues to Food, and Decipher Codes with Turing Machine

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Turing Machine
Can I finally finish off my GAMA Expo 2022 coverage in this post? No! The game pics and info were just too plentiful, and my notebook continues to spill forth for a bit longer.

Hachette Boardgames had a relatively large booth in the exhibit hall, with this being its first appearance at GAMA Expo. Some of the Hachette brands have a long-established place on the U.S. market, such as Canadian publisher Scorpion Masqué, which was previously distributed by IELLO and which was acquired by Hachette in 2021.

In February 2022, Scorpion Masqué had announced the deduction game Turing Machine from Fabien Gridel and Yoann Levet, and I was able to play a couple of sample problems. The game rules will include a relatively small number of problems for players to solve, with thousands of other problems available online.

Board Game: Turing Machine

I will paraphrase the rules while admitting that I only skimmed them because I was more interested in seeing how the system works than actually competing against others. To set up a problem, you lay out a specified number of situation cards (the exact name of which I do not recall) along with corresponding "verifier" cards; a verifier card consists of more than a hundred checks and crosses in a grid.

In a round, all players choose three numeral cards — with numerals ranging from 1-5 and with these cards being visible in a holder at the upper left of the image above — in order to create a three-digit number, say 451. Each of these numeral cards has many squarish holes on it, but when you overlay three numeral cards, only a single hole will remain. You then take the verifier card for the situation card you've chosen and place your number cards on it, thereby revealing a single check or cross. This result gives you some information about the three-digital code that is the solution to this particular problem.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Let's look at the image above for a particular example. If I choose the situation card on the left — which reads "The verifier verifies the [yellow / middle] number compared to 4" — and place the cards for 451 on that verifier card, I will see either a check or a cross. If I see a check, then because my number has 5 in the middle, then I know that the middle numeral of the answer code is also a 5; if I see a cross, then I know that middle numeral is something else.

Similarly, if I place 451 on the verifier card for the situation card reading "The verifier verifies the number of 1s in the code", then a check tells me that the code has a single 1 in it and a cross tells me that the code has zero, two, or three 1s. In effect, the verifier "reads" your input and judges it, which gives you some information. In this case, a check would not tell me the location of the 1 within the code, so I would need information from the other verifiers to determine where that 1 is and what the other numerals are.

The challenge of the game is to make smart choices over which numbers to test with which verifiers and to use a good note-taking system in order to deduce the code first. The workings of the game might be hard to understand from a description, but once the materials are in hand, you should find it easier to grasp — although not necessarily easier to solve. We sort of played one game, then I just played the second problem on my own because I was fascinated by how the system works and how it hides information in plain sight. As a fan of deduction games, I'm looking forward to playing Turing Machine for real once it's available, with SPIEL '22 being the currently anticipated debut date.

Board Game: Olé Guacamolé
• Other titles coming to the U.S. from Scorpion Masqué include Guillaume Sandance's Olé Guacamolé, which debuted in French in mid-2021. In this real-time party game, you create word chains in which the word that you say must relate to the word that the previous person said, with my word then relating to your word, and so on — except that when you start your turn, you must turn over a random letter card from the deck, and the word that you give must contain none of the letters that have been revealed. When you fail to give a word in time, you collect all of the revealed letter cards, and once all the cards have been claimed, whoever has the fewest cards wins.

Zero to 100 from Antonin Boccara is a team-based party trivia game that plays as follows:
Quote:
In Zero to 100, your challenge is not to be too far off target when answering trivia questions. Divide players into three teams and give each team six question cards at random. Each question has a numerical answer from 0 to 100 on its reverse side, but you can never look at the back of a question card until after you play it!

Board Game: Zero to 100

For the first round, place the 50 number card in the center of play. Each team chooses a question card in front of them that they think will be as close to 50 as possible. Once each team has chosen, reveal the numbers on the back of the cards. Whichever team was farthest away from 50 draws a new question card from the deck — while the other teams discard their question cards — then the number on the back of the losing team's question card becomes the new target number for the next round. Each team has three power cards, and you can play a power card with your question card to raise or lower your number by 50; raise or lower it by 20; or allow you to discard an extra question card should your answer be within 5 of the target number.

The first team to have only question card in front of them wins! If multiple teams go down to one question card at the same time, they each must guess the answer on their own question card, and whichever team is closest wins.
Both Olé Guacamolé and Zero to 100 are due out in the U.S. in September 2022.

Board Game: Suspects
Board Game: In the Palm of Your Hand
• The deduction game Suspects from Guillaume Montiage and Studio H sees release in the U.S. on April 15, 2022 following its release in France one year earlier.

In the Palm of Your Hand from Timothée Decroix and La Boîte de Jeu has taken an even longer time to reach the U.S., arriving in May 2022 after first appearing in France in November 2020. In this Dixit-style game, one player uses physical objects like a string, a coin, or a plastic ring to "draw" an image on the palm of another player who has their eyes closed. Each other player in the game sees only this "drawing", and they place a card from their hand on top of the card that the artist is trying to represent. The person drawn upon then tries to identify the correct image among the fakes.

• Another Hachette acquisition was Gigamic in 2019, and the company expects to debut Jules Messaud's tile-laying game Akropolis at Origins Game Fair 2022 in June, with the game available at retail in July.

Board Game: Akropolis

• The Hachette team had received a mock-up copy of Northgard: Uncharted Lands from Adrian Dinu and Studio H only the day prior to GAMA Expo 2022, so I'll can only quote the description on the BGG game page to give info on this Gen Con 2022 release:
Quote:
Based on the universe of the Northgard video game, Northgard: Uncharted Lands is a game of conquest and exploration set in the age of vikings. Each player controls a Viking clan, looking to achieve victory by reaping glory in various ways or controlling the most prized territories of this new continent.

The game focus is on streamlined rules and mechanisms, allowing for a fast-paced and smooth rhythm of play. Each turn, players alternate their actions to adapt their strategies to their opponents' moves and the expansion of the board. Fame (i.e., points) can be earned by exploring, fighting, and controlling and developing territories. The various corresponding actions are played through the cards that the players have in hand. At the end of each turn, they have to choose a new card to improve their personal deck as their clans develop new tactics and technologies.

Board Game: Northgard: Uncharted Lands
Playtest during FIJ 2020 (Image: Caroline Imbert)

The conquest of Northgard also requires clever management of resources to build new buildings, improve your warriors' effectiveness, better your hand of cards, and upgrade your clan's specificities. The winter phase makes this management more difficult as you have to feed your units to keep them healthy and happy.

The pace of the game is set by the players as the game ends after seven turns, but can also be cut short at any time if one of them is in control of three closed territories hosting certain types of buildings.
• Let's end where we began: party games from a Québec publisher. The Randolph Gaming Pub opened in 2012, but aside from being a place to play and eat, Randolph is also a game publisher, with the name being an homage to designer Alex Randolph. Québec has an intensely strong game-playing culture, and to some degree that culture has been cultivated by Randolph, both as a source of games and a place to play them.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

One of Randolph's gaming lines debuted as "Links", then changed to "Linkto" in French and "Match Up!" in English. Games in this line are designed by Marie-Ève Lupien and Randolph co-founded Joël Gagnon, and they all work the same way:

You have fifty cards showing names and pictures from a specific category, which to date are animals, food, Earth, and travel. Lay these cards face up on the table.

Board Game: Match Up! Travel

Next, take the 49 clue cards and choose a level of difficulty from 1-5. Then individually or collectively players read the clue of the appropriate level on each card and decide which picture card to cover with that clue card. One picture card will remain uncovered, and to check whether you have done everything correctly, you compare a code on the back of this card with a code corresponding to the difficulty level. You will win or lose — there's no in between!

My understanding is that while two titles in the line — Match Up! Travel (seen above) and Match Up! Food — have been released in English, they have not previously been distributed in the U.S., something Hachette plans to change in 2022.
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Wed Apr 13, 2022 1:00 pm
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Remix Fluxx, Become King of the Dice, and Sparkle in Equestria with My Little Pony

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: My Little Pony: Adventures in Equestria Deck-Building Game
I'm nearing the end of my coverage of GAMA Expo 2022, with nearly all the game pics and announcements now in this shared digital space instead of being stored less usefully on my phone and in my notebook.

• When you look over the display cases of U.S. publisher Renegade Game Studios, you might think it's become a division of Hasbro at this point thanks to titles like My Little Pony: Adventures in Equestria Deck-Building Game, a co-operative game due out in June 2022; Transformers Deck-Building Game: A Rising Darkness, a standalone expansion also due out in June 2022; Transformers Deck-Building Game: Infiltration Protocol, an expansion due out in July 2022; G.I. JOE Mission Critical, a co-operative miniatures board game due out in 2022; and at least a half-dozen new items for Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, which debuted in 2019.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Why doesn't Hasbro release such games on its own? Retailer and buyer expectations. Almost any game coming from Hasbro needs to sell for $20 or less, and it must be supported by huge amounts of marketing in order for retailers to want to carry it. I say "almost" because Hasbro sold a new edition of HeroQuest directly to buyers for $100 each through its Pulse pre-order system, but that's a case of nostalgia driving sales and Hasbro risking nothing since the game already existed. For these new games, Renegade takes the risk and Hasbro earns a license fee, which is essentially found money.

Renegade has non-Hasbro titles coming as well, such as Birdwatcher, designed by Zakir Jafry and co-published with Oni Games. This 1-5 player game is due out in December 2022 and bears this short description:
Quote:
Birdwatcher is a fast, competitive game in which players are rival wildlife photographers on a hunt to snap photos of the elusive and illustrious birds of paradise.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Each player has three actions on their turn, with which they can call birds to their tree from the central clearing and jungle, snap photos of birds in their tree, or run into the jungle to flush new birds to the clearing. Players can also use their actions to set up a zoom lens to capture a bird from another player's tree, or to publish a paper. Photos and publications are assembled from left to right in a player's photo journal where they will score points at game's end.
• In May 2022, HABA will release Nils Nilsson's King of the Dice: The Board Game, which debuted in Germany in October 2021. This game uses the same dice mechanism as 2017's King of the Dice, which I previewed here, but with players now competing to win cards with dice rolls to thereby claim and steal territory on a shared game board. At game's end, you score based on the land and gems you hold, with a bonus for whoever holds the most dragonfire.

Board Game: King of the Dice: The Board Game

HABA has released three titles in The Key series of deduction games from Thomas Sing — you can check out my overview of The Key: Murder at the Oakdale Club here — and HABA national sales manager Phil Wrzesinski tells me that you'll see more of The Key in 2023, including games at the highest level of difficulty. (The first three titles have two "starter" level games and one of "medium" difficulty.)

Board Game: Olympus Fluxx
Board Game: Olympus Loonacy
• On May 5, 2022, Looney Labs will release both Olympus Fluxx and Olympus Loonacy, which seems like a good way to use Echo Chernik artwork multiple times. In Loonacy, you're trying to play all cards from your hand before anyone else does — more details in my 2014 review — and in Fluxx you're trying to satisfy whatever goal is currently in play, but that goal and the rules of the game will change constantly.

Speaking of Fluxx, on March 3, 2022 Looney Labs released Fluxx Remixx with this version of the Andy Looney design keeping all the Keepers from the current edition of Fluxx, but changing all of the Goals so that the Keeper combinations you might be familiar with are no longer winning combinations. The game also includes new rules, actions, and surprises, many of them music-themed to tie into the "Remixx" name.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Aside from those standalone games, on July 7, 2022, Looney Labs will release More Surprises, More Actions, and More Rules, with these expansion packs being suitable for use with any Fluxx game.

• Asmodee North America has picked up the card game Canvas from Jeff Chin, Andrew Nerger, and Road To Infamy Games for distribution in the U.S., with the game expected to be available by the end of Q2 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• After many delays, three titles from Belgian publisher Game BrewerHippocrates, Stroganov, and Rulebenders — are now available in U.S. stores. Game Brewer had flown in small quantities of these titles to SPIEL '21 in October to seed the market and build buzz, but then shipping complications, which every publisher has stories about these days, delayed the general release of the games.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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Mon Apr 11, 2022 1:00 pm
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Solve Cases like Sherlock, Prepare for a Maglev Future, and Drink the Tears of Unsuspecting Chefs

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Board Game: Sherlock: Case Connection
The game pics and announcements from GAMA Expo 2022 continue. Yes, nearly a month has passed since the show ended, but all of these games are still in the future, and it's taken a long time to unpack all that I wrote and photographed.

• Polish publisher Lucky Duck Games has grown tremendously since it started business in 2016, and it featured a number of upcoming releases, including Sherlock: Case Connection from Radosław Ignatów, with this due to hit U.S. retailers in June 2022. Here's a quick take on the game:
Quote:
Sherlock: Case Connection is a competitive puzzle game of investigation and deduction that pits players against Sherlock's foes in an effort to become the greatest detective in the world. Two to four players will visit familiar locations from the show to gather evidence and reconstruct their theory of the crime.
Lucky Duck Games notes that this is the first title in a multi-game agreement with BBC Studios for games based on the Sherlock television series, and the game will be released in English, French, Italian, and Polish.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Given Lucky Duck's success with the Chronicles of Crime series, it's no surprise to see the publisher releasing more deduction-based games, such as the pocket-sized Crime Zoom series (licensed from French publisher Aurora) in late 2021 and the upcoming Pocket Detective: Series 1, which is licensed from co-publishers Jet Games Studio and Lavka Games and due out in July 2022. Presumably this design from Yury Yamshchikov is an edition of 2019's Pocket Detective, but we'll have to wait to know for sure.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Board Game: Flamecraft
Lucky Duck Games is the co-publisher for Manny Vega's Flamecraft, for which Cardboard Alchemy ran a US$2 million Kickstarter campaign in Q3 2021, and the publisher expects that title to hit retail in September 2022.

Speaking of Kickstarter, on April 12, 2022, Lucky Duck and publishing partner Van Ryder Games will launch a crowdfunding campaign for Evan Derrick's The Dark Quarter, a 1-4 player game that plays in 2-3 hours and bears this description:
Quote:
Welcome to New Orleans, Louisiana, circa 1980: a vibrant city of music, food, and magic. Neon lights flicker in dirty puddles up and down Bourbon street; the innovations of the modern world clash with ancient and terrible traditions; and murder is never simple. The Beaumont Agency, staffed with a roster of brilliant, colorful, and ultimately flawed private investigators, specializes in solving cases that no one else can crack.

Board Game: The Dark Quarter

In The Dark Quarter, a co-operative app-driven adventure game set in a dark, fantastical vision of 1980s New Orleans, players each take control of a Beaumont agent and work alongside one another to solve the worst crimes that New Orleans has to offer. It's a world full of magic, where hexing curses are sold on every street, where voodoo priestesses and creatures of the night are lurking around every corner, and where even the most mundane crimes have a tinge of the supernatural to them.

Through multi-scenario campaigns, the game tells a rich, dynamic story and invites players to make critical decisions that will not only affect their characters, but change the direction and course of the story. The characters are not simply avatars, easily replaceable from scenario to scenario; instead, they are woven into the very fabric of the story itself. Their destiny and the destiny of New Orleans are inextricably linked together.
• U.S. publisher Bézier Games was highlighting some of the expansion boards for 2021's Maglev Metro from co-owner Ted Alspach.

These expansions — London & Paris, Mechs & Monorails, and Moonbases & Mars, with the former being designed by Dale Yu — are currently in the BGG database as separate items, but Bézier is marketing them as Maglev Maps: Expansion Volume 1 in a Kickstarter project that will ideally hit the retail market in Q2 2023.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Bézier showed off two other upcoming releases as well, with one of them being the co-operative card game Sync or Swim from Lucas and Divya Hedgren. This title was funded on Kickstarter in February 2022 and expected out in September 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I've already talked about the second edition of Muneyuki Yokouchi's engrossing trick-taking game Cat in the Box, and you can find a description of this game in that earlier post, but I took another pic of the game at GAMA Expo 2022, so here it is, with cat eyes just peeking over the edge of the box.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Anoba Interactives is a new publisher that has yet to register its games in the BGG database despite my encouragement at the show, but I can share info on their two current projects and ideally add links later.

In Boiling Point, a game for 2-6 players, you play as crustaceous spirits that have come back to rescue your descendants and carry out sweet revenge on some unsuspecting chefs. You take control of crabs, lobsters, and shrimp, powering them to climb, fight, and escape the pot, fueled by the tears of their enemies!

Yes, "chef tears" are actual components in the game, with Anoba Interactives' website listing 75 of them as being included. You can only imagine what the Kickstarter stretch goals might be for this title...

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The other title, Mate Munchers, features insects that kill or dismember their mate after copulation — although as Wikipedia informs me: "For primitive insects, the male deposits spermatozoa on the substrate, sometimes stored within a special structure; courtship involves inducing the female to take up the sperm package into her genital opening, but there is no actual copulation." Okay, the game description needs some work, but I'll let Anoba worry about that.

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Sun Apr 10, 2022 1:00 pm
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Unbag Your Guardians, Build a Venn Diagram, and Pass Dinosaurs to Others

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Board Game: Les Gardiens de Havresac
The GAMA Expo 2022 coverage continues will still more game pics and announcements. Amazing how I can see so much in such a short time!

• French publisher Catch Up Games had a few upcoming releases on hand to show to potential publishing partners, starting with Frédéric Guérard's Les Gardiens de Havresac, a competitive game for 1-4 players in which you each have a player board on which guardians will rebuild castles, collect fairies, open treasure chests, and defeat monsters.

In each of the five rounds, you pull guardians from your bag one by one; each guardian has their own movement and ability. The first guardian starts at the castle in the center of the board, then the next guardian starts from wherever that first one moved to, and so on. As you rebuild castles, you gain additional starting places for future rounds, which is good since monsters and fairies pop up at random locations and you can't reach everywhere from the center of your board. At the end of a round, you can acquire new guardians, who then get added to your bag to give you a larger group for the future.

Both the player boards and the guardians are double-sided to give you more variety of gameplay. Les Gardiens de Havresac debuted in France on March 25, 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Each player also their own player board in Orichalque, a design for 2-4 players by Bruno Cathala and Johannes Goupy, the team behind 2019's Queenz: To Bee or Not to Bee (which I previewed here).

Each turn, you choose an action card and a land tile from the display, with the four actions allowing you to recruit hoplites, produce orichalcum (a legendary metal from Greek mythology), construct temples that grant powerful bonuses, or fight monsters infesting your island (and preventing you from placing temples where you want).

You can win favors from titans by creating an area of their favorite landscape; each titan has a bonus ability, but more importantly it also counts as a point while you still have it. Temples occupy four spaces — one of each landscape type — and also grant a point, as do the orichalcum tokens you can forge. Whoever first has 5 points and no monsters on their island wins.

Orichalque is scheduled to debut at SPIEL '22.

Board Game: Orichalque

Fabien Tanguy's Cubosaurs seems similar to 2018's CuBirds, but aside from both of them being card games with playful graphics from Kristiaan der Nederlanden, they are not related.

In Cubosaurs, you will build up a collection of dinosaurs, each with their own scoring rules showing positive or negative points based on how many you've collected. On a turn, you have to keep the hand of cards given to you and add those cards to your collection, or you pass them along to your neighbor, but to do so you must add to that hand a card from your collection that doesn't match any of the cards already included. Maybe you'll get rid of a negative card, but will that card be positive for your opponent? Maybe you can pass them a poison hand that they can't pass on since their collection has only the cards already included in the hand?

Cubosaurs is due out in Q3 2022 in France.

Board Game: Cubosaurs

Board Game: Paper Tales
• Other titles coming from Catch Up Games include a definitive edition of Masato Uesugi's Paper Tales that includes the base game and two expansions. Yes, two! The second expansion will also be available separately for those who already own everything else for the game.

Les Trésors du Pharaon ("The Pharaoh's Treasures") is an expansion for Sobek: 2 Players from Cathala and Sébastien Pauchon, which debuted in 2021 in France and is due out on May 25, 2022 in the U.S. from Pandasaurus Games.

At the end of 2022, Catch Up Games will release a new character pack for The LOOP from Maxime Rambourg and Théo Rivière, with that pack containing its own deck of cards.

French editions of Brew and Dinosaur Island: Rawr 'n Write are due out from Catch Up Games on, respectively, May 6, 2022 and June 2022.

• I've already covered Smash Up: Disney Edition and Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances Core Set, two splashy IP-based games from The Op, but the company also previewed the lower-profile party game Venn that's playable by two or more people and due out in Q2 2022. My summary of the game:
Quote:
Your goal in Venn is to get your teammates to guess a secret code first. Twelve word cards will be laid out at random, and the code that the cluegivers see has three numbers on it from 1-12.

Board Game: Venn

Three large plastic circular overlays in yellow, blue, and pink are laid out on the table, with the circles overlapping to create a large Venn diagram. Each cluegiver has a hand of cards showing absurdist imagery, and they'll take turns placing cards into various sections of the Venn diagram to try to give clues to their teammates about the words indicated by the code.
I probably don't need to say this, but obviously this game could be played with Dixit cards and Dixit could probably be played with cards from this game. (Someone has created a GeekList for all such games, yes?)

Should you want even more IP-based games, The Op will oblige with Monopoly: The Dragon Prince, Monopoly: David Bowie, and Monopoly: Britney Spears, among other releases.

Board Game: Magnefix
• In addition to highlighting Uwe Rosenberg's Bohnanza: 25th Anniversary Edition, which was released in the U.S. in March 2022, AMIGO gave a few teasers for future releases, such as the English release of Roberto Fraga's Magnefix in late 2022. (AMIGO released this game in Germany in 2020.)

AMIGO plans to introduce a line of "My First AMIGO" games, presumably including My First Bohnanza, which first appeared in 2015, and it will have a new Saboteur game in which you are once again trying to collect gold, then escape from a situation.

Finally, AMIGO will have a new game from Richard Garfield that the representative described as "King of Tokyo-style" in that you're trying to directly defeat the other players.
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Sat Apr 9, 2022 1:00 pm
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Live the Life of the Mother of Frankenstein, and Relive the Siege of Vienna in Fire & Stone

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Board Game Publisher: Arcane Wonders
Let's continue rolling out game pics and announcements from GAMA Expo 2022. Sure, the show might have ended weeks ago, but I've learned to spend my time at shows sleeping so that I feel like a decent human being the next day and that impedes the publication process. Thankfully I have notes to reference due to the power of WRITING, one of humanity's greatest inventions.

• U.S. publisher Arcane Wonders had a handful of upcoming releases to talk about, with Emerson Matsuuchi's city-building game Foundations of Rome demonstrating what one cubic foot of game looks like. The game started shipping to backers of the Kickstarter at the end of March 2022.

From gallery of W Eric Martin


Jon Perry's Air, Land, and Sea: Spies, Lies & Supplies is a standalone game that can also be integrated with 2019's Air, Land, and Sea, and Arcane Wonders expects to debut the new title at Origins Game Fair in June 2022.

Ivan Lashin's Mobile Markets: A Smartphone Inc. Game debuted in late 2021 for the European market, and it should hit U.S. retailers in Q3 2022.

In Dice Manor from Garrett Herdter, which should debut at SPIEL '22 in October, you use dice placement and bidding to build homes.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In October 2020, designers Terry Pettigrew-Rolapp and Tommy Wallach of Hatch Escapes ran a Kickstarter campaign for Mother of Frankenstein, an escape room-style game built around letters from Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. Here's how the publisher describes it:
Quote:
Mother of Frankenstein challenges you to solve a series of puzzles in order to learn the truth behind Shelley's infamous monster. While challenging enough for serious puzzlers, it also features a rich, emotional narrative composed by New York Times bestselling YA novelist Tommy Wallach, which will have you and your loved ones feeling all the feelings.

The game is divided up into three acts, each of which is presented in a separate "volume" (i.e., a hollowed-out book). Each volume contains a trove of documents and objects, all of them beautifully crafted and cunningly designed (ostensibly by Mary Shelley herself) in order to reveal a great secret she left to her only surviving child. Included in every box is also a full copy of the 1818 edition of Frankenstein (both for puzzle necessity and general enjoyment).

You'll build a three-dimensional castle, manipulate locks and secret compartments, and even harness the power of electricity!
Arcane Wonders has signed on as the retail partner for the release of this game, which should be available in Q2 2023. Owner Director of Sales/Marketing Robert Geistlinger says that the three volumes should be tackled in order as they are not independent, and each volume will take about 10-15 hours to do whatever it is you need to do.

Board Game: Unmatched: Redemption Row
Board Game: Unmatched: Hell's Kitchen
• Justin Jacobson from Restoration Games says that Unmatched: Redemption Row and Unmatched: Hell's Kitchen will be available at U.S. retail outlets starting on April 20, 2022.

• Clay Ross at Capstone Games had a tableful of stuff that is already on the market or due for release in the near future such as Ark Nova and Clinic: Deluxe Edition, but he also had teasers for two items:

— The next "Iron Rail" title will be set in South Africa.
—Capstone plans to launch a wargame line similar to the "Iron Rail" line in titles are fairly streamlined. The first release in this line will be Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna from designer Robert DeLeskie, who shared this in February 2022:

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Transform a Planet Unknown, Defend Yourself from Curses, and Boop Cats

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Board Game: Dune: House Secrets
The game pics and announcements from GAMA Expo 2022 are still dammed up in my phone and notebook, so let me open the gates to relieve some of the pressure:

Portal Games will follow 2021's Dune: House Secrets with a second title, which might not be a surprise to anyone given that the 2021 Dune film is itself only half the story.

Ignacy Trzewiczek and Weronika Spyra's Batman: Everybody Lies, which like Dune: House Secrets is built on the Detective Investigative System, is due out on May 19, 2022.

Portal expects to have Gutenberg from designers Katarzyna Cioch and Wojciech Wiśniewski on the U.S. market in June 2022. This edition of the game will have revised colors and icons from the original Granna release in 2021.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• The quick take on Planet Unknown from Ryan Lambert, Adam Rehberg, and Adam's Apple Games is that the game is Patchwork in space. Here's a longer take:
Quote:
Our planet has run out of resources, and we are forced to move. We have discovered a series of planets and sent our rovers to test their environment with the hope of colonization. Our rovers have confirmed 1-6 viable colonization options.

Planet Unknown is a competitive game for 1-6 players in which players attempt to develop the best planet. Each round, each player places one polyomino-shaped, dual-resource tile on their planet. Each resource represents the infrastructure needed to support life on the planet. Every tile placement is important to cover your planet efficiently and also to build up your planet's engine. After placing the tile, players do two actions associated with the two infrastructure types on the tile. Some tile placements trigger "meteors" that make all planets harder to develop and prevent them from scoring points in the meteor's row and column.

Board Game: Planet Unknown

Planet Unknown innovates on the popular polyomino trend by allowing simultaneous, yet strategic turn-based play via the Lazy S.U.S.A.N. space station in the center of the table.
Adam's Apple Games funded this game on Kickstarter in May 2020, which is possibly the worst time to have done so, and the company is shipping the game to KS backers as of the end of March 2022 with an anticipated retail debut at Gen Con 2022.

• At GAMA Expo 2022, Smirk & Dagger Games was promoting two wildly different games, with one of them being Behext, a deck-building game of wizard combat from Curt Covert, Greg Millikin, Jonathan Lavallee, and Melodee Smith that reinvents the gameplay of Smirk & Dagger's first release, 2003's Hex Hex. Behext was crowdfunded on Kickstarter in March 2022 and due out before the end of the year.

The gist of the game is that you're one of six unique battlemages with a specialized deck of curses, counter-curses, and defenses. One player will attack another with a curse, and this gives the attacked player the opportunity to buy a new card, which goes into their hand immediately, but to purchase it they have to spend cards that they might use for defense. If they do ward off the attack, they direct it to someone else, with players suffering damage along the way, which allows others to score.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The other title is boop. from Scott Brady, with this being a two-player game of cats and kittens jumping on a bed. The game board will be quilted fabric, and each player has eight kittens and eight cats in their color.

On a turn, you can jump on the bed with a kitten, and any kittens in adjacent spaces are booped one space away from the new arrival. If they're on the edge of the bed, they get booped onto the floor because kittens are like that sometimes. If you manage to get three of your kittens in a row, you get to add a cat to the household, and a cat will boop both cats and kittens, but a cat is resistant to kitten-booping because they weigh so much more. Get three of your cats in a row to win.

Board Game: boop.
Mock-up components at GAMA Expo 2022
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Wed Apr 6, 2022 1:00 pm
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Fight Wonderland's War on Maul Peak, Then Explore Wildlife in Parks

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Board Game: Caper: Europe
Board Game: Old Bill
The game pics and announcements from GAMA Expo 2022 demand to be seen, so I'll keep publishing them until the well is dry:

Caper: Europe from designer Unai Rubio and publisher Keymaster Games hit U.S. retail outlets in early March 2022. In the game, you compete against another criminal mastermind to try to do a better job of thieving with your team than they do with theirs.

The Kickstarter campaign for Caper: Europe had included an unrelated bluffing-based card game from Mattox Shuler called Old Bill, and I feel compelled to mention this release mostly due to my delight at saying "Old Bill" over and over. It's no "cellar door", but the phrase still hits nicely.

At GAMA Expo 2022, Keymaster Games also showed off PARKS: Wildlife, an expansion for PARKS from Henry Audubon and Mattox Shuler that's due out in Q3 2022 and that features, in the words of Keymaster's Jennifer Graham-Macht, "lots of little things". In more detail, you'll find new trail sites, new gear, fresh canteens, more season cards, and "a large wandering bison that moves along the park cards and grants bonuses to the players who visit those parks". Clearly that bison should be named "Old Bill".

Board Game: PARKS: Wildlife

Board Game Publisher: Pencil First Games, LLC
• U.S. publisher Pencil First Games showed off Maul Peak, a two-player asymmetrical tactical combat game from designers Eduardo Baraf and Keith Matejka that is a standalone sequel to 2019's Skulk Hollow, with which it can be integrated. This game will launch on Kickstarter on April 5, 2022 ahead of a planned retail release in Q1 2023, and in slightly more detail:
Quote:
In Maul Peak, one player controls a tribe of bears and the other a towering behemoth of a guardian that must withstand the bear attack. Action takes place on a shared kingdom board as well as on a game board that represents the guardian, with the bears traversing the guardian for weak spots. Players use dual-purpose cards for movement and abilities, and the foxen heroes of Skulk Hollow can be pitted against any of the guardians in Maul Peak and vice versa.
Board Game: Maul Peak

Board Game: Delicious
Pencil First's flip-and-write game Delicious from Baraf and Steve Finn is due out in June/July 2022, and I foolishly forgot to take a pic of the game stack of Delicious, Floriferous, Herbaceous, Herbaceous Sprouts, and The Whatnot Cabinet, which is possibly the most chill game stack you could ever hope to see. I suppose that I was so chill that my mind dissolved until I moved on to the next table and got punched in the eyes by more traditional game graphics.

Board Game: Wonderland's War
Wonderland's War from designers Tim Eisner, Ben Eisner, and Ian Moss and publishers Druid City Games and Skybound Games is due to hit retail outlets in April 2022.

In this 2-5 player game, you travel around the table at the Mad Hatter's tea party drafting cards to gather forces, build towers, upgrade your leader, and recruit Wonderlandians to your cause, and once the plates are empty, the battle begins, with players competing to earn points over three rounds by claiming region bonuses or winning in battle.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Isaac Childres' Frosthaven from Cephalofair Games should be a candidate in a "guess my weight" contest. The box is giant, yes, but it seems to be filled with sand because it was unexpectedly weighty.

A Cephalofair representative whose name I forgot to note said that printing is imminent, with shipping scheduled for mid-May 2022 and Kickstarter fulfillment ideally happening in September 2022. As always, anticipate that dates for all things might change due to a piece of the Moon falling into the ocean or some other unexpected event.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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Tue Apr 5, 2022 4:00 pm
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