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

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Tweets from NY Toy Fair on Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, Firefly Adventures, Dice Forge, Ashes Deluxe Expansions, DC Spyfall, The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31, and More

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I jetted into NY Toy Fair this past weekend for 1.5 days of exploration, note-taking, pics, and even a couple of videos. I've been sharing those images and notes on BGG's Twitter account for the past two days, and here are a few highlights from that feed, with more pics and notes to come over the next day or two.

Why repost tweets instead of uploading images and writing things out anew? Well, I will in time, but I have only two days before heading to Cannes, France to record game preview videos at the Festival International des Jeux, so I'm opting for fast and seemingly lazy over slow and non-existent. Priorities!




I believe that Gale Force Nine actually anticipates having Firefly Adventures out by the end of June 2017, but my notes are messy, so let's go with Gen Con as a "sell by" date to cushion that expectation.


To add a bit more detail, the Borg are run by an AI and can appear all over the place. They weaken other players as they attack, and you might view that as a good thing, leaving them to ravage someone else's planet while you do things to improve your position, but as some point a damaged player can become the Borg, which then lets them take control of the race and give them a chance to win the game a different way.

Oh, and the Cardassian Union and Ferengi Alliance expansions for Star Trek: Ascendancy are on their way to retail. I'll poke GF9 again for a more precise release date.









No pics were allowed in the USAopoly booth — a restriction that's often in place because publishers are waiting for approval from license holders for the use of artwork and design — so I have nothing to show for this title. Andrew Wolf at USAopoly described the game as a Battlestar Galactica-style hidden traitor game in that initially everyone is trying to protect the outpost from an alien incursion, but someone might become infected and turn against everyone else. Wolf noted that the game has a sixty-minute playing time.



This title was the one exception to the "no photos" rule by USAopoly as the box was available for public viewing at the PSI booth.
















And here's a nice way to end this post:

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Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:30 pm
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse IV: T.I.M.E Stories, Unlock! & More from Space Cowboys; Teasers from IELLO; Messe Walkthrough

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• Some publishers had little to show at Spielwarenmesse 2017, but a lot to talk about, as with French publisher Space Cowboys, which had these mock-ups to show as a teaser:




Yes, in addition to the Expedition: Endurance scenario for T.I.M.E Stories — which became a 2017 release due to delays — Space Cowboys has three other scenarios on their release calendar for 2017. Lumen Fidei from Ulric Maes already has an established BGG page, noting that the scenario "involves moral choices, a powerful opponent and new mechanisms", whereas I've just created pages for the Estrella Drive and Frères de la Côte scenarios, about which I know little more than what's printed above.

Oh, wait, there's also a shot of their back covers, noting again that these are mock-up covers and not final:




Vincent Goyat from Space Cowboys noted that the plan for T.I.M.E Stories, now that they're over the delay, is to release three new scenarios each year, with one of the scenarios planed for 2018 coming through a public submission.

Aside from the scenarios, Space Cowboys plans to revamp the base game or repackage its components in some manner. Goyat explained that they've heard from many people who have played the Asylum scenario included in the base game on someone else's copy of TS, but who then felt bummed by the idea of buying their own copy of the base game and getting with it a scenario they've already played. Maybe one of the 2017 scenarios will be packaged on its own as well as with the base game, or perhaps the base game components will be delivered on their own by drone. Something will be decided at some point, then Space Cowboys will announce that decision.

• Aside from T.I.M.E Stories, Space Cowboys talked about a few other upcoming releases. Cities of Splendor, for which I posted an overview video recently, is scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2017, as is Victorian Masterminds from Eric M. Lang and Antoine Bauza; we recorded an overview video of that game in Nov. 2015, which gives you an idea of how long some of these game projects take to come to print.

Unlock! bears the tagline "Escape Adventures", and this is Space Cowboys' take on the "escape room as a tabletop game" trend, with each Unlock! scenario consisting of a deck of cards. The box at right contains three scenarios and is due out Q1 2017 in Germany and elsewhere in Europe; in the U.S., each scenario will be packaged on its own at the request of Asmodee North America.

Space Cowboys has a second trio of Unlock! scenario in the works for release before the end of 2017, with these scenarios involving a haunted mansion, pirates, and a deep sea vessel titled "Nautilus". Before the release of that trio, another print-and-play Unlock! scenario will be released to help introduce new players to the genre.

• Finally, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures — title #1 in Space Cowboys' Sherlock Holmes game series — was just released in U.S. stores in mid-February 2017. Title #3 in the series, the original (and newly revised) Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, is due out in Q2 2017. Title #2 is an updated version of Jesús Torres Castro's Watson & Holmes, first released in 2015 by Ludonova, and that's due out Q1/Q2 2017.

Following all of these will be Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Carlton House & Queen's Park, which will consist of the cases in The Queen's Park Affair and The Mansion Murders — two of the original SHCD supplements from the 1980s, with both being revised and updated — as well as two individual cases released by Ystari Games in 2012: La Rançon du Diable and La Piste Tordue.

• I've been posting dozens of game overview videos from Spielwarenmesse 2017 on BGG's YouTube channel, with those videos being posted to the individual game pages as well, but in addition to the videos, I brought home catalogs from many publishers, and those catalogs sometimes bring revelations that went unmentioned on camera or during conversations.

IELLO, for example, mentions that a Halloween-themed expansion for the King of... line is in the works, so I'd presume that we'll see an updated version of Richard Garfield's King of Tokyo: Halloween since those exact words are on the blank box in the catalog. (IELLO also notes that more than 750,000 copies of King of Tokyo have sold worldwide.)

• A first expansion for Maxime Rambourg's The Big Book of Madness is in the works, with a new element being introduced to the game.

• IELLO also depicts four titles in a "Coming soon" spread:

Sticky Chameleons, by Théo Rivière
Fairy Tile, by Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan
Sentaï Cats, by Bauza, Maublanc, Rivière, Lebrat, and Oury
Hito Hira

I know nothing more than what's shown in the images below, but I now share that information with you as well:





• Let's close this post with a walkthrough of the top floor of Hall 10 at Spielwarenmesse. Halls 10 and 11 are the only two halls at the fair that consist of two floors, and Hall 10 is where most of the game publishers are located. As you'll see after the short introduction with Reiner Knizia, the environment at this fair is a far cry from Origins, Gen Con or SPIEL. Even NY Toy Fair, which I'll be hitting the weekend of Feb. 18-19, isn't as polished as this show, but maybe I'm just under the spell of the yellow floor coverings...

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Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:00 pm
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Codenames to Get Disney/Pixar and Marvel Comics Editions in Q4 2017

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In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, licensed versions of Vlaada Chvátil's Codenames have been announced, specifically Codenames Disney Family Edition, which will include characters and locations from a variety of Disney and Pixar films, and Codenames Marvel Edition, which will feature Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and characters from Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other Marvel Comics properties.

These new versions of Codenames are coming solely to the North American market in Q4 2017, each with a $25 MSRP, thanks to an exclusive global licensing agreement that Czech Games Edition has signed with USAopoly, which has published a wide range of licensed games for more than two decades and which also has licenses with Nintendo, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, HBO, FOX and CBS. In other words, feel free to dream up other versions of Codenames because those might be coming, too.


Possibly not the final cover
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Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:49 pm
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse III: IELLO Welcomes New Kings, Arena Fights, Mad Mountains, Land-Hungry Bunnies, and Celebrations of Your Own Death

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• The atmosphere of the Spielwarenmesse toy fair in Nürnberg, Germany is nothing like that of Gen Con or SPIEL. I booked nearly every moment that I had available for the three days that John K. and I planned to record game overview videos, but I often don't know exactly what someone will have to show, so sometimes I booked too much time and (more rarely) too little. IELLO was one of the companies that had a skimpy reservation time as I could choose only a thirty-minute slot in its automated reservation system — despite IELLO often having more than a half-dozen games to show off!

No matter, though, as John and I recorded a couple of overviews with Romain François, then went elsewhere, then came back to IELLO, then went elsewhere, then returned to IELLO yet again to finish them off. You don't have the leisure time at consumer shows — mostly because it's impossible to get anywhere quickly! At Spielwarenmesse, the aisles are wide and empty, something I'll demonstrate in a walkthrough video at some point.

For now, let's check out the Cthulhu Monster Pack from Richard Garfield, with this item serving as an expansion for either King of... title. We need to find a good shorthand for this in the BGG database. Any suggestions?





 
• If you're looking for different ways to beat upon your fellow players, IELLO would like to suggest Arena: For the Gods! from Maxime Rambourg, a game that draws inspiration from multiple mythologies for weapons, equipment and mounts that you'll bid for in order to smite one another most effectively.





• In 2016, IELLO went a bit overboard with the number of card-drafting games that it released. Well, that might have been the opinion of some, but folks at this French company apparently think that wasn't enough as they have a new drafting game in Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan's Pyramids. I've played this 2- to 5-player game twice with two players and need to play with more to see how it compares, but at heart this is a quick-playing set-collection game in which you want to maximize the value of your pyramid, tomb, and obelisk. Glory in death...





• One of those aforementioned card-drafting games that IELLO announced in early 2016 — Richard Garfield's Bunny Kingdom — never made it to production that year as the publisher kept working and reworking the components and parts of the graphic design to try to make all the moving parts work smoothly. The game is on the release docket for 2017, though, so if you haven't seen it before, you can now hear the word "bunny" multiple times in quick succession while learning how to claim and enrich your land.





• And to close out this post — not that this is all that's coming from IELLO, of course — we have an early look at Rob Daviau's Mountains of Madness, due out at SPIEL 2017 in October. This co-op design design attempts to inject the madness into the players themselves, possibly making you think they're not all there during the course of the game...

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Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:05 pm
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Game Preview from Spielwarenmesse II: Cities of Splendor, or New Gems to Admire

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After a hiatus caused by terrible internet service in the Martin household, the preview videos from Spielwarenmesse 2017 are flowing once again. You can see them all as they're posted if you subscribe to BGG's YouTube channel, or you can look at just the Spielwarenmesse 2017 playlist, or you can watch for highly-anticipated titles in this space, or you can run across them randomly on individual game pages, or you can ignore them all and eat pudding. The choice is yours.

To kick things off once again, here's an overview of Cities of Splendor, a work-in-progress by Marc André and Space Cowboys that contains four expansions for Splendor that can be used independently or in combination. I'm hitting the game fair in Cannes at the end of February, so perhaps I'll be able to bring back more details then, but for now we have this teaser:

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Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:31 pm
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New Game Round-up: Leaving Terra Mystica for Space, and Welcoming Sentinels to Earth-Prime

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• If all goes well for Feuerland Spiele, at SPIEL 2017 we'll see the ludic debut of PIGS...IN...SPACE!!!!! Okay, perhaps the game won't actually contain extraterrestrial porkers, but Jens Drögemüllerand Helge Ostertag's Terra Mystica: Gaia Project will feature fourteen different factions, as in its predecessor Terra Mystica, with some mix of those factions competing each game to terraform planets into new homelands they can occupy. In more detail:

Quote:
Gaia Project is a new game in the line of Terra Mystica. Fourteen different factions live on seven different kinds of planets, and each faction is bound to their own home planets, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring planets into their home environments in competition with the other groups. In addition, Gaia planets can be used by all factions for colonization, and Transdimensional planets can be changed into Gaia planets.

All factions can improve their skills in six different areas of development — Terraforming, Navigation, Artificial Intelligence, Gaiaforming, Economy, Research — leading to advanced technology and special bonuses. To do all of that, each group has special skills and abilities.

The playing area is made of ten sectors, allowing a variable set-up and thus an even bigger replay value than its predecessor Terra Mystica. A two-player game is hosted on seven sectors.



Green Ronin Publishing, publisher of the comic-based Mutants & Masterminds RPG, and Greater Than Games, publisher of the Sentinels of the Multiverse line of comic-based card games, are joining forces on Sentinels of Earth-Prime, a card game set in the Earth-Prime location of Mutants & Masterminds. SotM's Christopher Badell is designing Sentinels of Earth-Prime, which will be both a standalone game and something that can be played with the decks and characters from Sentinels of the Multiverse, will hit Kickstarter in April 2017 for a planned release in 2018.

• Another "green" company with a title headed to Kickstarter is Green Couch Games, which will crowdfund Ladder 29 from Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle in March 2017 ahead of a planned Q4 2017 release. Here's an overview of this trick-taker:

Quote:
Ladder 29 is a hot game of ladder-climbing firefighters. As experts in the time-honored business of firefighting, players attempt to extinguish their hand of cards while facing difficult challenges that hinder their abilities and choices. Players must decide when to play it safe and when to put it all on the line in this easy-to-learn game that is sure to turn up the heat around the gaming table!

Ladder 29 is played over several rounds in which players are dealt 13 cards each, pass three cards to the player on the left, then in reverse scoring order select a Hot Spot Card; this card details the number of points awarded depending on the position the player goes out and a challenge that applies only to that player for the round. A player may choose to only lead singles, end runs in even numbers, or even limit the types of suits played in sets. The bigger the risk taken, the bigger the potential reward.

The first player to extinguish their hand by playing all thirteen cards wins the round and earns the most points possible on their Hot Spot Card. Play continues until additional players go out, with all except the one who goes out last earning points for their finishing position.

• At SPIEL 2017 in October, Osprey Games will release a new edition of Martin Wallace's London. As for what might be updated in this version of the game, Christian Waters from Osprey Games tells me, "We are indeed giving London the 'Osprey treatment', a là Odin's Ravens, Escape from Colditz, and Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. It will have freshened artwork and tweaked up rules, although I'm not at liberty to say just how much."

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Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:47 pm
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New Game Round-up: Guess Werewords After Dark, Then Build a Tiny Caverna for Two

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• Unless I've misjudged the guy, Ted Alspach of Bézier Games seems determined to introduce werewolves into every game genre possible. Witness the announcement of Werewords, a party game due out June 14, 2017 at the Origins Game Fair in which players must collectively guess a secret word using only yes/no questions, while a werewolf hidden amongst the group who knows the word tries to mislead them. I'm puzzled as to the werewolf's motives, but perhaps failure makes humans tastier.

The humans can still win if they identify the werewolf following failure, but the Vizzinian twist is that (as in One Night Ultimate Werewolf) one of the humans is a Seer, and this Seer also knows the hidden word; if the werewolf can identify the Seer, then the beast still wins in the end. Adds Alspach:
Quote:
As each question is guessed, the word-knowing Mayor (who may not speak) must answer every question by giving the asker a token: one of the limited double-sided "Yes/No" tokens (with the appropriate side up), a "Maybe" token (in case the question can't easily be answered with a Yes or No), the coveted "So Close" token, and finally, when the word is guessed correctly, the "Correct" token — but if the Mayor runs out of Yes/No tokens, the village team has to stop guessing and must identify the werewolf (or werewolves) in order to salvage a victory. Additional roles such as the helpful Beholder and the not-so-helpful Minion provide additional, optional variety for players.

Naturally the Mayor can be werewolf as well, giving them the opportunity of lying when answering questions, but they must do so in a non-obvious way in order not to be called out. As with ONUW, Werewords includes an app, with thousands of words in the categories easy, medium, hard, and ridiculous. Players can upload their own word lists as well.

The Creativity Hub, publishers of Rory's Story Cubes, has announced that Patrick Nickell, formerly of Crash Games, and Michael Fox of the Little Metal Dog Show podcast have joined the company to oversee game development, with two releases scheduled to debut at SPIEL 2017. These titles will be available for previewing at NY Toy Fair 2017, so I'll be able to write something about them after that show. As for what they might be, I'll quote from the press release: "[W]e have set ourselves a design challenge for 2017, to build upon what we've done in the past and push our mission further. We plan to develop game titles that bring people together, challenge assumptions and encourage players to view themselves and the world around them in new ways."

• In a comment on his designer diary about Flamme Rouge, designer Asger Granerud notes that publisher Lautapelit.fi has agreed to release an expansion for the game at SPIEL 2017.

• Just as Agricola and Le Havre have yielded smaller two-player versions, now Uwe Rosenberg's Caverna is being similarly downsized in Caverna: Höhle gegen HöhleCaverna: Cave Against Cave — which German publisher Lookout Games plans to release in Q2 2017, with an English version to follow from Mayfair Games.

Note that the title is still a work-in-progress and no art exists for the game yet, but the gameplay is finished aside from tweaks to small details. Here's a written overview of the game, followed by a video overview that BGG recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2017:

Quote:
In the two-player game Caverna: Höhle gegen Höhle, each player starts the game with only two dwarves and a small excavation in the side of a mountain. Over the course of eight rounds, they'll double their workforce, open up new living space in the mountain, construct new buildings and rooms in which to live, and dig for precious metals.

In more detail, each player starts the game with an individual player board that's covered with a random assortment of face-down building/room tiles and only one space. Some tiles are face up and available for purchase at the start of play. Four action tiles lie face up as well. At the start of each of the eight rounds, one new action tile is revealed, then players alternate taking actions, with the number of actions increasing from two up to four over the course of the game. As players excavate their mountainous player board, new building and room tiles are added to the pool; some rooms can be used immediately when acquired, whereas others require the use of an action tile.

After eight rounds, players tally their points for buildings constructed and gold collected to see who wins.

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Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:05 pm
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New Game Round-up: Take a Train to Ride the Empyreals, and Fluxx Your Way Through School

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• Designer Trey Chambers and artist Nokomento worked together on Level 99 Games' Argent: the Consortium in 2015, and now the pair has a new game in the offing for release in 2018, a game that transports Argent's technomancy into an unexpected environment. Here's an overview Empyreal: Spells & Steam, a 2-5 player game that plays in 30-75 minutes and that will head to Kickstarter for funding in mid-2017:

Quote:
The industrial age has come at last to the World of Indines! Use your ingenuity and the skill of your team of technomancers to cross the continent of Indines while connecting towns and building a vibrant trade network. Research new spells as you carve a path through the many treacherous terrains of the continent, using your company's unique advantages to outbuild the competition and secure supply lines for rare resources.

In Empyreal: Spells & Steam, technomancers use mana to build rails, and the amount of mana crystals required to cast a spell varies by terrain and by the potency of the spell. Mana crystals must recharge after being used, so your choice of when and where to use each spell will be critical to determining the efficiency of your construction engine.

The towns you choose to connect to your network will provide critical resources, and the value of these resources changes over time. Some become more valuable as they become more connected, while others become less valuable as their abundance increases. Thus, you need to be wary of what your competitors are building into their trade networks and adapt your strategies accordingly to maximize the value of your stock portfolio.

Reaching new cities first gives you additional benefits, and being the first to bridge the continent provides you with a sizable commission from your backers. However, those who build first are more at the mercy of changing markets. Time your construction projects to maximize your profits and the flow of mana.

Looney Labs has three new versions of Andy Looney's Fluxx coming in 2017, with Math Fluxx (due out March 9, 2017) challenging you to use whole numbers to achieve goals, while also including the Plan B Meta Rule that gives special victory conditions should you be able to use your numbers the right way. Chemistry Fluxx (due May 25) gives you elements and molecules that need to be combined into compounds to match the current goal, and it's hard to imagine a more natural fit for the Fluxx engine. (Drinking Fluxx, due July 24, is the third Fluxx title, and officially it's being released by Fully Baked Ideas, an imprint Looney Labs uses for adult-themed games.)

• Looney Labs has also announced one title for release in 2018: Andy Looney's Time Breaker. Here's an overview of the game's setting:

Quote:
In Time Breaker, you work for the security division of the Time Repair Agency. A Time Breaker has gotten loose, and you must apprehend them before they do any serious damage to the space-time continuum. Soon they will begin closing down the time doorways we need to use to pursue them. The agent who brings in this perp will get a promotion, and thus win. Quick everybody, into the time machine!

Looney released the time-traveling based Chrononauts in 2000, so it will be interesting to see what he does differently this time around. Maybe it will be exactly the same, which seems appropriate for a time-travel game. As the saying goes, everything old is new again...

• News that slipped by me while I was in Germany: Quined Games has signed a deal with Capstone Games in which Capstone will "distribute all new and future Quined Games products throughout North America". Quined titles to be released in North America in 2017 under this deal are Carson City: Big Box, American Rails, Vanuatu, Papa Paolo, and La Cosa Nostra. Exact release dates have not yet been announced.

• Japanese anime series Sword Art Online gets a game adaptation released by Kadokawa and Arclight on June 29, 2017, with the game design coming from Seiji Kanai. ソードアート・オンライン ボードゲーム: ソード・オブ・フェローズ , which translates as something like Sword Art Online Board Game: Sword of Fellows, is a 1-4 player cooperative game played with dice in which players must defeat monsters to survive. That description, meager as it is, sounds similar to Kanai's Eight Epics, but the game components include six character cards, ten scenario cards, eight item cards, one support card, four main dice, four support dice, six character dice, and a bunch of tokens, so perhaps the concept is similar but developed along different lines.

In any case, an international version of the game will also be produced and details of that will be forthcoming from the publisher when the time is right.


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Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:05 pm
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Game Preview: LYNGK, or Bringing Everything Together for Success

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I first played Kris Burm's games in 2000 during the Mensa Mind Games in Atlanta, Georgia. My parents lived in the area, so I visited them to put in filial face-time (and save money) and traveled to the event each day with my brother, who is also a gamer.

On one of the mornings we ran through a bunch of two-player games together, with ZÈRTZ being the highlight of the pack (and of the entire event), while TAMSK was a strong second and the game I grabbed during the giveaway following the competition (as all copies of ZÈRTZ had already been claimed). I found GIPF shortly afterward, then DVONN was released in 2001, and that was when I bought my official membership in the Kris Burm fanclub.

Burm released a few more designs in the years following, with YINSH nearly equalling the excellence of DVONN in my eyes and PÜNCT completing the GIPF project in 2005, then TZAAR completing it again in 2007 when TAMSK got the boot.

Then that was it. I would see Burm at the SPIEL game convention most years, sometimes playing designs from others and once showing off a new version of Flix, but nothing else seemed to be coming from him — and then in early 2016 German publisher HUCH! & friends announced a new edition of the GIPF line, with a new GIPF project title being teased late that year. The months have rushed past, and now HUCH! & friends has released information about LYNGK, with the new game being scheduled to hit the market in March 2017. Even better, I had the chance to interview Burm about the new game and its place in the GIPF project during Spielwarenmesse 2017.



Even better than that, if possible, is that I convinced HUCH! & friends to let me take one of the three demo copies of LYNGK home with me after the fair. The pieces are identical to those used in the final production (and identical to the material used in earlier versions of GIPF project titles), while the box, game board and rules are items handmade solely for use at the fair. No matter!

Burm noted during Spielwarenmesse 2017 that the release of LYNGK is a test of sorts, a personal challenge given that he feels the game meets the standards of the GIPF project, but not knowing how it will measure up in the eyes of others. Admittedly I'm a fanboy, but after four playings of the game I'll say that Burm needn't worry. LYNGK is an incredibly strong design, one that calls to mind DVONN and TZAAR in the best ways. While I was playing with a friend over lunch, two women sat at the table next to us, one joking, "I'll take the next game", and I suddenly realized — fingers pressed against my temples, thumbs massaging my chin — that the rest of restaurant was still there. It hadn't disappeared after all. I had just forgotten it was there, my mind spinning in the universe that we were creating one move at a time.




After set-up — the pieces thrown out at random, then carefully arranged on the intersections — you're confronted with a tangled mass of possibilities, dozens of moves that could be made. The universe is a thick soup of elements, and you start clumping them together, your holy finger providing the initial push from which everything else happens.

At the start, all colors are neutral; you're experimenting with each move, seeding future actions or possibly baiting the opponent into claiming a color that you can ideally submerge in the soup, drowning them through your initiative. Neutral colors — but not the three jokers, mind you — can move only to conquer stacks of the same height or shorter, whereas a color owned by a player can capture stacks of any height (as long as that stack won't contain pieces of the same color) and cannot be moved by the opponent. This rule sets up a great deal of tension from the get-go, with each of you eyeing the board to imagine what will disappear from your world of movement possibilities should the opponent claim this color or that — and which attacks can come out of nowhere should you be the one to claim a color?

In the image below, red and white are still unclaimed by my opponent, so the red-and-white field on the right of the board is transformed into a vast Schrödingerian minefield, with me unable to elevate any of those pieces without strengthening my opponent's hand retroactively. Even if I subsume one of those colors by another, I risk aiding him, giving him a stronger base from which to attack.




One special rule in LYNGK — dubbed the "LYNGK rule" — is that if you move a stack topped with one of your colors, you can move it to a space occupied by a piece of the same color, then make an immediate move again with the same stack, continuing to link until you land on something valid. This rule gives you an additional incentive to claim a color because it instantly gives you attack options that don't exist otherwise. Seeing all of those possibilities is a problem, both as an attacker and defender, but that's all a matter of experience. You're going to lose when starting out because it's impossible to see everything, to have bulwarks in all directions because it's hard to contemplate exactly what's at risk.

As soon as you create a stack with all five colors — with a joker being able to serve as a color of your choice — you remove that stack from the field, counting it as a point at the end of the game. Whoever has the most points wins, with ties broken by whoever owns the most stacks of four pieces, then three pieces, etc. When I first read the rules, I had imagined high-scoring games, but you have only eight pieces of each color and many of those end up stuck in standoffs, say, with a black-blue stack facing a red-blue-green one — neither of them being able to take the other due to their shared blueness. Once you notice this, you start creating stacks defensively to protect yourself, and these actions lead to games in which scores of 2-1 will likely be common. Points on their own are meaningless, after all; it's only the comparison between the scores that's important.

Even after you each claim two colors, the fifth color remains neutral, those discs being weapons on the walls that you grab for in the hope of inflicting bonus damage, shields to deflect an attack, islands that you remove from the stream to prevent movement.

The shrinking field of play, an element common to DVONN and other GIPF titles as well, drives gameplay in LYNGK. By moving, you both attack and defend, stranding an opponent's stack and neutering its power. The universe coalesces, planets collide, everything moves toward an end, a final reckoning. The results of small actions become apparent, their effects rippling through all.


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Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Garden Gnomes Finally Start Invading, Lang Readies More Bloodborne, and Alderac Keeps Smashing Up

W. Eric Martin
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• Sometimes announced games vanish into the mists never to be seen again — and sometimes they re-emerge in unexpected places, as with the announcement by Asmadi Games that in mid-2017 it will release Reiner Knizia's Invasion of the Garden Gnomes, a reimplementation of his card game Vampire that was first released in 2000. Cambridge Games Factory had originally announced IGG in 2011, but it ended up being one of a handful of titles that disappeared following CGF's overly costly rollout of the Glory to Rome black box edition. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
The gnomes are fighting for dominance of the gardens. Gnomes from the lawn, hedge, veggie garden, orchard, flower garden, and herb garden can be recruited to build a ceramic empire.

In Invasion of the Garden Gnomes, players form melds (sets of gnomes from the same part of the garden), each representing a columns of garden gnomes armed to the teeth. The smallest set of each color will be squished and not score, and larger sets score more points. Whenever a new column is formed, a special effect is triggered (usually good). Between games, twelve different special powers are randomly allocated between the six type of gnomes, making for very different games and necessitating different tactics.

This game's core mechanisms are based on Knizia's card game Vampire. Invasion of the Garden Gnomes introduces special powers for each color and more vicious competition within each color of meld. The game includes "junior rules" that allow you to play a simpler game, more similar to Vampire, and the "full rules" are notably different from the the game's predecessor and involve deeper strategy.

• In other news from Asmadi, an expansion for Carl Chudyk's Mottainai is due out before the end of 2017. Mottainai: Wutai Mountain, which you need only one copy of regardless of the number of players, is a deck of "Om" works, and each such work can gather its own set of helpers, materials, and sales tucked underneath it, with a special ability that grants benefits based on those cards.

• Finally, Asmadi Games can now distribute its third edition of Cark Chudyk's Innovation in Europe, where previously only the IELLO edition of the game was distributed. What's more, Innovation Deluxe will also be available in Europe. Says Asmadi's Chris Cieslik, "We have a non-exclusive deal in place, so other translations and versions will be unaffected. The box set will be going to print soon, and we'll have pricing and official release date details in the coming weeks."

• Designer Eric M. Lang notes that he's working on an expansion for Bloodborne: The Card Game with Lanterns' Christopher Chung with Q4 2017 being the targeted release date.

Alderac Entertainment Group has unveiled a wave of Smash Up releases in the works for 2017, starting with the addition to the game of teddy bears, rock stars, grannies, and explorers Smash Up: What Were We Thinking? in March 2017. For mid-2017, AEG has the Smash Up: All-Stars Event Kit, which is not a standalone item, but a product to help retailers hold Smash Up events and tournaments in their stores. A special "All Stars" faction is included to be handed out as prizes during these events, and the faction consists of a "mix of existing Smash Up minions and actions" now bearing a new "All Star" icon.

In Q3 2017, AEG celebrates its own "Big in Japan" line with Smash Up: Big in Japan, which features factions based on anime fighting girls, cute collectible critters that are totally not Pokémon, colorful fighters that are in no way Power Rangers, and Godzilla.

Finally, AEG is offering a free sheep faction — to be delivered in Q4 2017 — to anyone who completes a survey about Smash Up, hands over their email address and mailing information, and promises to play no other games until the end of time.

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Wed Feb 8, 2017 3:07 pm
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