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BoardGameGeek News

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

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Crowdfunding Round-up: Exploring the Past in All Eras, and Adventuring in Lands Old and New

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• Let's start this round of crowdfunding projects with a glance toward Evolution: Climate, a standalone design from North Star Games that features a mammoth(?) standing alone. BGG recorded an overview of this item at Gen Con 2015, but it's now evolved from the expansion-only format shown then to the standalone game of today — although you can still pick up just the new bits if you already have Evolution. If only evolution itself worked so cleanly... (KS link)

• Jeff Siadek's Battlestations from his own Gorilla Games is another established title that's being reborn in a new edition, with one player serving as the enemy while everyone else works together to control different locations within a starship and coordinate their efforts to complete whatever mission they're currently facing. (KS link)

Privateer Press has something similar on Kickstarter as Widower's Wood, a co-op adventure game from David Carl and Will Schoonover, is the second board game set in the company's Iron Kingdoms fantasy world. Given all of the miniatures included in the box, Plastic Kingdoms might be a more appropriate setting, but perhaps that's coming in another few years. (KS link)

In the Name of Odin is another KS project from an established publisher, NSKN Games, while also being the debut design from Krzysztof Zięba. While at Spielwarenmesse 2016, BGG met with NSKN Games and recorded an overview of gameplay. As you might expect from the name, Vikings are involved. (KS link)

• Staying in the same part of the world, we run across Shem Phillips' Explorers of the North Sea from his Garphill Games, with this being the third title in a North Sea trilogy — and should you have all three such titles you can then make use of The North Sea Runesaga expansion that will have you sailing, raiding, and exploring for hours. (KS link)

• If you're familiar with Van Ryder Games only from the 2015 release Hostage Negotiator, you might not have expected to see Robert Couch's Saloon Tycoon — a tile-laying game in which you develop a town in three dimensions — with the VRG logo, but owner A.J. Porfirio's goal is to bring "immersive board and card games" to market so that's the connective thread between one release and the next. (KS link)

• The connective tissue that links Artana titles is the gorgeous graphic design work of Heiko Günther, seen this time on Corrupted Kingdoms from Raymond Chandler III and Artana's Dirk Knemeyer. These kingdoms, although run by fantasy creatures, function like corporations, and players need to use their minions to complete deals that work toward their secret agenda. (KS link)

• To turn to less established companies, we have the RPS-based Heartcatchers from Emma Larkins and Brooklyn Indie Games, with each of the two players trying to catch hearts from the other while playing Secrets to determine what those hearts will be worth later. (KS link)

• Simon Junker's self-published Heldentaufe is an adventure game in which players move their heroes through both an upper world and a netherworld, while also controlling the monsters of the netherworld that threaten other players. One amazing thing about this project is an online demo tutorial set up by the designer that includes a gameplay overview in eleven languages. The design team is Swiss, though, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by the multilanguage efficiency. (KS link)

Overlords of Infamy from David Zuckman and Obscure Reference Games features a different take on the adventure game genre as the overlord players want their subjects to be as miserable as possible, which will require efforts against adventuring heroes (not to mention other overlords) who want to clean up your realm. (KS link)

• John Clowdus of Small Box Games regularly kicks out small, interesting-sounding games that are almost entirely card-based, as is the case with the two-player Neolithic, which has players using multi-function cards to perform one of five tasks (thereby acquiring new cards) or returning played cards to hand in order to add cards to their village to score at the end of the game. (KS link)

Villages of Valeria from designers Rick Holzgrafe and Isaias Vallejo and publisher Daily Magic Games is set in the same world as 2015's Valeria: Card Kingdoms, but the focus here isn't to explore the world. Instead you're building in it, with players using a Puerto Rico-style action system in which someone chooses an action and others can follow with the same action at a higher cost or less powerful result. (KS link)

• The Arsenal: Arena Combat – Centauri Belle expansion from Shane Butler adds a new mech of that name to the existing choices in Arsenal: Arena Combat. (KS link)

Victoriana from newcomers Benjamin Gailey and Brad Lawrence has players working together in Victorian London to uncover the three elements of a conspiracy before time runs out. (KS link)



Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:35 pm
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2016: Bunny Kingdom, Oceanos, Cry Havoc, Dynasties, Cacao: Chocolatl, Costa Rica, Fight for Olympus, and the Future of Mayfair Games

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• Time for the final round-up of videos from Spielwarenmesse 2016, which means that we have processed and published everything in less than three weeks from when the show ended. Whoa, that's a first. As I've noted in other such round-ups, I'm not posting every video in this section, but each video does appear on its respective game page and all 118(!) of them can be found in a Spielwarenmesse 2016 playlist on YouTube.

First in this round-up is Richard Garfield's Bunny Kingdom from IELLO, which will debut at Spiel 2016. As IELLO's Matthieu Bonin notes, this is a card-drafting game with a difference as players draft locations on the game board in which to place their bunnies, draft city cards to build on the board, draft resources to provide more goods for their bunnies, and draft scoring cards for the end game.

As an aside, I love the way Matthieu pronounces "bunnies". I think I need to make that my ringtone...





• IELLO has another drafting game in Antoine Bauza's Oceanos, due out in August 2016. The twist in this game is that the cards you draft over three rounds represent your findings in the ocean at different depths.





• I've already posted two videos highlighting upcoming titles from Portal Games, and now here's an overview of Cry Havoc from Grant Rodiek, Michał Oracz, and Michał Walczak, which features a simple, yet wildly ingenious battle resolution system, along with (would you expect otherwise?) four unique factions that players can control.





Hans im Glück wasn't quite sure whether to talk about Matthias Cramer's Dynasties on camera as the game is still under development, but in the end they decided to go for it, and now you can get a taste for what's coming in this game that has you pairing up in order to (ideally) get the better of your partner down the road.





• Phil Walker-Harding's Cacao from ABACUSSPIELE received an overwhelmingly positive response from players, and for 2016 the designer and publisher offer Cacao: Chocolatl, an expansion of four modules that can be added to the game individually or in any combination.





• The non-final cover at right showcases Costa Rica, the title of which is also not final but the design of which is. This Brett Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan design, to be published by Lookout Games in Europe and Mayfair Games in the U.S.,





• Matthias Cramer appears a second time on this list with Fight for Olympus, the next title in Lookout Games' two-player line, in which players spend cards to play cards in order to punch damage through to their opponent.





• As is the custom for these conventions, the final three videos posted are the first three that we shot. That's a bit of "good news bad news", I suppose, as I am clearly more awake and perky in this interview than I am in clips from day three.

In any case, Alex Yeager from Mayfair Games spent a good chunk of time at Spielwarenmesse 2016 talking with me about the future of Mayfair post-Catan: how the company will function, what you might see in the future, and why the loss of one game line — even one as large as Catan — doesn't signal their end of days.

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Sun Feb 21, 2016 4:35 am
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2016: First Martians, 51st State: Master Set, Stone Age Junior, West of Africa, Imagine, Ice Cult, Ice Cool, and In the Name of Odin

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• After pausing for a quick trip to NY Toy Fair and some technical help with videos (since some of the ones that I processed picked up popping noises along the way), I've started posting the final 30-40 game previews videos from Spielwarenmesse 2016 on BGG's YouTube channel. I won't link to all of them in this section, but each video will also appear on its respective game page in the database.

That said, here's a handful that I thought you'd want to see, starting with First Martians from Ignacy Trzewiczek and Portal Games. Ignacy doesn't talk much about the general game design — and doesn't show off anything — but he does explain how this game design integrates an app into gameplay and why the app is important for what he wants to do as a designer.





• Trzewiczek also presented an overview of 51st State: Master Set, which relaunches that game system in the wake of Imperial Settlers, which was something of a relaunch itself. Here you can learn what's coming in the base set and what to expect in the future.





Kraftwagen was the first new title from German publisher ADC Blackfire, with Spielworxx' Uli Blennemann in charge of the game's development. Now Blennemann is preparing Martin Schlegel's West of Africa for release from ADC in 2016, with players in this game effectively bidding with the actions that they want to take each turn.





• Krzysztof Zięba's In the Name of Odin from NSKN Games invites you to take off to the great white north in Europe.





• Marco Teubner's Stone Age Junior from Hans im Glück, which Z-Man Games will publisher as My First Stone Age, presents a boiled-down version of the original game, with players focusing solely on building huts — and no, not that hut.





• I love the sound of Imagine, which comes across as a more freeform version of Concept, and am bummed that I missed out on picking up the game at Tokyo Game Market in 2015. At least Cocktail Games is bringing the game to a wider audience, and I believe that an English-language version is in the works, although the publisher for that has yet to be announced.





• Given how polished its releases normally look, Zoch Verlag was surprisingly unprepared with the final graphics for many of its designs, including Joe Wetherell's Ice Cult. As a rep explained to me, Zoch moved its headquarters shortly after Spiel, so it was offline for three weeks, and I can only imagine how many headaches that created.

In any case, this design looks like a fascinating abstract strategy game, one that can puzzle over quite a bit as you try to figure out how to do exactly what you want to do.





• Finally, at least for this round-up, is Ice Cool, a flicking game from Brian Gomez and Brain Games, with those two names seeming like a natural pairing. In this game, all players are penguins, with one trying to catch all of the others, and unlike in most other flicking games, you can launch yourself through the air and do wild curves as you spin along on your round little body. The nesting game board trays is just another neat touch in the design.

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Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:00 pm
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Tweets from NY Toy Fair 2016: Legendary, Colony, Sushi Go Party, Deadpool, TMNT Dice Masters, Pyramid Arcade, Back to the Future, and Much More

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I zipped into NY Toy Fair 2016 this past weekend to check out the upcoming games being shown there, leaving home at 4:30 on Saturday and returning at 22:30 on Sunday, taking home a few hundred pictures, a few videos, and roses for my wife since it was Valentine's Day. Gotta cover all the bases, right?

Anyway, I tweeted dozens of pics from the Javits Convention Center during the fair, tweeted even more since returning home, and still have a few dozen more images to share at this point. Snapping a pic is easy, especially when you're as unschooled and low-tech as me, but posting takes a bit more time. If you want to see everything that I've posted about NY Toy Fair 2016 or see what else is still to come, follow BGG on Twitter. If you don't like Twitter, I apologize, but them's the breaks as I also need to do my regular work, and finish posting the remaining 30-40 videos from Spielwarenmesse 2016, and work on some other projects, and...

For now, here are some of the highlights from NY Toy Fair 2016, with additional comments when I have more to say than I could tweet. If you have questions, please ask and I'll answer as best I can, with the caveat that for many titles (especially for Upper Deck) little was available beyond a box that featured a single illustration:



• That's right, Pie Face spinoffs, with some being simply a new frame and paint job on the existing model. Pie Face Showdown, on the other hand, is a two-player model in which each player slaps a button repeatedly as quickly as possible; doing so moves the arm that holds the cream pie (or whatever dirty object you're using) closer to your opponent's side of the playing area, and if you move the arm far enough, it then splats in their face.

Personally I don't see the appeal of humiliation-based games (or humiliation-based humor in general), but having watched my teenage exchange student and a dozen of her friends gush with excitement over the BeanBoozled Spinner Jelly Bean Gift Box and "play" it for at least an hour, I know that I'm just not the target audience for such things.




• At BGG.CON 2015, we recorded a teaser video of a Star Trek 4X game from Gale Force Nine, but at that time we didn't even have a name to use for a game listing, so it was somewhat buried in the publisher listing. Here it is:




• Following the announcement of distribution changes for Asmodee North America in Dec. 2015, many people have questioned what ANA is doing to support brick-and-mortar stores beyond simply lowering the discount at which online retailers can purchase games.

Here's one such answer: Asmodee NA is continuing the AsmoPlay demo program for B&M stores that it started in 2015, a program in which stores demo particular games in particular time periods and in return get custom swag to hand out to customers who participate in such events or win tournaments of the games being featured. Elysium, for example, received a custom playmat and full-art family cards through AsmoPlay, while these items would also be available from Asmodee directly at conventions.

Now Colt Express will be getting a similarly nice playmat, and the Asmodee rep told me that since publisher Ludonaute is working on additional expansions for Colt Express right now, the idea is that the playmat will be able to accommodate everything that's coming, at least in the near future.



• Those numbers add up to only seven as you use nigiri, not pictured above, in each game of Sushi Go Party!


• It's hard to convey how excited designer Andy Looney was about Pyramid Arcade, a 22-game compilation that represents decades of work in a fantastic-looking, retro-futuristic package designed by Eileen Tjan.








• Yes, this next caption should read "a small Deadpool expansion will join..." since Deadpool is already included in the Legendary base game, but character limits demand shortcuts.


























• And here's the promised video of one of the Boogie Dice in action, courtesy creator Nimrod Back who demonstrated this to me at NY Toy Fair. In short, Boogie Dice is a pair of sound-activated, self-rolling dice that can also serve as timers thanks to the internal programming, and you can adjust the timers in the dice, the color of the lights, etc. via an app. At least one game exists for the dice, which will retail for about $45 from Breaking Games




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Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:16 pm
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New Game Round-up: Terraform Mars, Run Through a Bank, and Smash Doors the Mighty Marvel Way

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Jacob Fryxelius' Terraforming Mars — an involved strategy game for 1-5 players — was originally going to be released by FryxGames, a company run by Jacob and three of his brothers, but now FryxGames has signed a deal with Stronghold Games for worldwide availability of the game in English, with REBEL.pl carrying a Polish edition and a yet-to-be-announced publisher releasing the game in German.

Here's an overview of Terraforming Mars, which Stronghold Games hopes to debut at Gen Con 2016:

Quote:
In the 2400s, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. In Terraforming Mars, you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete for getting victory points that are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.

The players acquire unique project cards (from over two hundred different ones) by buying them to their hand. The projects (cards) can represent anything from introducing plant life or animals, hurling asteroids at the surface, building cities, to mining the moons of Jupiter and establish greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. The cards can give you immediate bonuses, as well as increasing your production of different resources. Many cards also have requirements and they become playable when the temperature, oxygen, or ocean coverage increases enough. Buying cards is costly, so there is a balance between buying cards (3 megacredits per card) and actually playing them (which can cost anything between 0 to 41 megacredits, depending on the project). Standard Projects are always available to complement your cards.

Your basic income, as well as your basic score, is based on your Terraform Rating (starting at 20), which increases every time you raise one of the three global parameters. However, your income is complemented with your production, and you also get VPs from many other sources.

Each player keeps track of their production and resources on their player boards, and the game uses six types of resources: MegaCredits, Steel, Titanium, Plants, Energy, and Heat. On the game board, you compete for the best places for your city tiles, ocean tiles, and greenery tiles. You also compete for different Milestones and Awards worth many VPs. Each round is called a generation (guess why) and consists of the following phases:

1) Player order shifts clockwise.
2) Research phase: All players buy cards from four privately drawn.
3) Action phase: Players take turns doing 1-2 actions from these options: Playing a card, claiming a Milestone, funding an Award, using a Standard project, converting plant into greenery tiles (and raising oxygen), converting heat into a temperature raise, and using the action of a card in play. The turn continues around the table until all players pass.
4) Production phase: Players get resources according to their terraform rating and production parameters.

When the three global parameters (temperature, oxygen, ocean) have all reached their goal, the terraforming is complete, and the game ends after that generation. Count your Terraform Rating and other VPs to determine the winning corporation!

For more details on the gameplay, you can download the English rules from the BGG game page.




Munchkin is a game brand that's been popping up in designs from a variety of publishers, whereas Marvel is a comics brand that's expanded into a huge movie universe and subsequently appeared in every product line in existence. Thus, Munchkin Marvel might have seemed inevitable, and publishers Steve Jackson Games and USAopoly have combined to make it happen, with this base game that features new monsters (villains), allies (heroes), and custom S.H.I.E.L.D. Identification Cards debuting in April 2016.

Two expansions for this base game — Munchkin Marvel 2: Mystic Mayhem and Munchkin Marvel 3: Cosmic Chaos, each of which contain ninety new Door and Treasure cards and a dozen new Dungeon cards — will be released in August and October, respectively.

Funforge and Lookout Games have agreed to a partnership in which Funforge will release Isle of Skye, Grand Austria Hotel, Oh My Goods!, Trambahn, and the new editions of Agricola in French for distribution in all French-speaking countries. (For an overview of how Agricola is being re-released in 2016, head to this Feb. 10, 2016 BGG News post.)

Jordi Gené and Gregorio Morales' Bauhaus, first released in 2013 by Edge Entertainment, is being reborn in Q2 2016 by Fantasy Flight Games as Android: Mainframe. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
Run fast, score big! Android: Mainframe is a fast-paced strategy game set in the not-too-distant future of the Android universe!

In the game, you and up to three opponents are elite cybercriminals known as runners who are competing for control of a vulnerable bank's various accounts. At the beginning of the game, you mark your arrival by the placement of your first access point. Then, each turn, you get to take a single action: establish another access point, execute a program, or pass. Your goal is to use the programs at your disposal to secure your access points so that they control as many of Titan's vulnerable accounts as possible.

Most of the generic programs write pathways between Titan's various nodes, allowing you to place a blue partition between the nodes on the board. Whenever your partitions seal off a section of the board containing only your access point or access points, they are "secured" and flipped face down. They are no longer vulnerable to your opponents' programs, and you will score the accounts they control at the end of the game.

Android: Mainframe differs from its predecessor Bauhaus in a number of ways, such as each player having a hand of cards and the game including six runners who each have five distinctive programs.


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Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:30 pm
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New Game Round-up: Protect the Enterprise in Star Trek Panic, and Prepare for Viking Life with Stefan Feld

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• In a merging of IP rights with existing game design, U.S. publisher USAopoly has announced a May 2016 release date for Star Trek Panic, which is based on Justin De Witt's Castle Panic from Fireside Games. Here's an overview of the game:

Quote:
Star Trek Panic is a cooperative light strategy game that challenges players to defend the U.S.S. Enterprise from enemy attacks.

In addition, the game features mission cards that have unique challenges based on the original Star Trek series as well as character cards so that players can assume the roles of Star Trek icons like Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

• In March 2015, Queen Games announced that ACD Distribution would no longer have an exclusive distribution deal for its titles in the U.S. as of April 2015, with Asmodee instead distributing Queen titles through its distribution channels.

Now in late January 2016 at Spielwarenmesse 2016, Queen owner Rajive Gupta told me that Queen Games will no longer be partnered with Asmodee in the U.S., preferring to work independently and supply games directly to various U.S. distributors. Added Gupta via email: "After twenty years, for the first time in the company's history, we are pleased to announce that our games will be available to all distributors in North America directly from us." This change takes effect immediately.

• German publisher eggertspiele and U.S. publisher Stronghold Games have worked together on a number of releases, with the former developing the titles and the latter releasing them on the North American market (whereas Pegasus Spiele releases them in Germany). In November 2015, for example, Stronghold announced that it would release the Village series of games and expansions from Inka and Markus Brand and eggertspiele in the U.S., with Village and Village Inn due out in April 2016 and Village Port and My Village to follow in June.

Now Stronghold and eggertspiele have agreed to a "strategic partnership" in which Stronghold will release all future eggertspiele titles in North America. Thus, Wolfgang Sentker and Ralf zur Linde's Animals on Board — for which I posted a preview video recently — will also be available in North America from Stronghold in April 2016.

Looking ahead, Stronghold plans to release two other eggertspiele titles in Q4 2016. One of those is Great Western Trail, of which I know only the following description:

Quote:
You are rival cattlemen in 19th century America, herding cattle in a circular trail from the south of Texas to Houston, where your cattle are then shipped by train, earning you money and victory points. Hire capable staff, such as cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your cattle posts, or engineers for the railroad line. Upon each arrival in Houston, have your most valuable cattle in tow. The winner is the player who manages their herd best and exhibits good timing in mastering the opportunities and pitfalls of the circular trail.


Non-final artwork


The other title, also due out Q4 2016, will likely be both welcomed and cursed by many people. Here's an overview of JÓRVÍK from Stefan Feld:

Quote:
You are a Viking Jarl gaining prestige by trading goods, holding big feasts, funding pillages, commissioning craftsmen, and hiring soldiers to defend the city against recurring invasions.

Why will that excite/annoy people? Because JÓRVÍK is a reimagining of Feld's Die Speicherstadt, which was first published by eggertspiele in 2010. What's more, JÓRVÍK will include two versions: a streamlined base game and an advanced game that incorporates game elements previously seen in the Die Speicherstadt expansion Kaispeicher.


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Sat Feb 13, 2016 1:00 pm
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Matagot Prepares Monuments, Meeples, Cattle, Escape Rooms, Panicky Submarine Operators and More

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French publisher Matagot has been in business for more than a decade, and in addition to releasing a tall stack of new games for 2016, the company is also reorganizing its catalog to present its games with a clearer identity: Titles for hardcore gamers will go in the XL format used for Kemet or the large square format used for Barony and will be targeted at players aged 14 and up; gateway games for ages 10+ and family games for 8+ will fit in certain sized boxes with a color identifier and with each box size having a specific price range; and a kids' line that is currently available only in France will expand in 2017 and be available on the larger market.

• All of those details are more relevant for its distributors and retailers, though, so let's start seeing what info is available about Matagot's upcoming games, leading off with Cyclades: Monuments, a small expansion for Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc's Cyclades that consists of ten monument miniatures and ten associated monument cards, with each of these new buildings giving you a unique power.

Christian Martinez's Inis has been under development for five years, according to Matagot, and the game will finally debut in 2016. I recorded a video overview of the game at Spielwarenmesse 2014 on the most hideous table ever used by man when the game was being called "Brenn". While the specifics of the game have likely changed since then, the goal remains the same: Fulfill one of the three victory conditions (leadership, land, religion) before anyone else.




• The Cathala/Maublanc design team is also responsible for Dice Stars, a pocket-sized release for 1-4 players in which they add a certain number of dice to a dice pool, then take either all dice of the same color or all dice of the same value in order to score in various ways.

Millions of Dollars from relative newcomer Jeremie Kletzkine is a hidden role game with no elimination and non-random distribution of roles in which you try to negotiate with (and trick) others into giving you the biggest share of the available loot.

Dice Town, another Cathala/Maublanc design, receives an expansion of its own with Dice Town Cowboy, which adds three new cards to the base game along with a game board and fifteen cows. Now players can use Aces that they roll to retrieve cattle from the great outdoors, but if you don't protect them, opponents can steal them away from you.




Room 25: Escape Room from designers Guilaine Didier, Gabriel Durnerin, and François Rouzé adds new room tiles and a VIP character who needs escorting to the Room 25 base game, but in addition it features a new "Escape room" mode that functions as escape rooms do in the real world as players must solve riddles in order to find the exit within a limited time.

Cédric Millet's Meeple Circus takes an act common to gamers the world over — piling up your meeples and making them perform unusual acts while everyone else is setting up the game — and turns it into a game of its own.

• Finally, we come to the wackiest title of the bunch, and wouldn't you know it, Roberto Fraga is co-designer. What a surprise! The game is Captain S.O.N.A.R, and together with Yohan Lemonnier, Fraga has created an engaging team experience. Here's an overview:

Quote:
At the bottom of the ocean, no one will hear you scream!

Get on board a state-of-the-art submarine and team-up against another underwater team. Every role is important, and the confrontation is merciless. Be organized and communicate because a captain is nothing without his crew: the Chief Mate, the Radio Operator, and the Engineer.

Captain S.O.N.A.R is a cooperative game in which two teams fight each other and try to destroy the opposing submarine. The game can be played in two modes: turn-by-turn or simultaneous. Each captain sets the course of their submarine, while the other crew members ready the weapons, make sure the engines are up and running, and spy on the opposing team. By launching a torpedo in the right spot or making a mine blow at the right time, you can deal damages to the opposing ship. Multiple maps are included with varying levels of difficulty.

I've played the prototype twice when it was titled "Polaris", both times as captain when we had three players on each team, and had great fun. Like Fraga's Doctor Panic — which is now due out February 2016 in Europe and similarly soon in the U.S. — Captain S.O.N.A.R feels like an event game, something that you want to break out at a convention.

The video below of the prototype being shown at a French convention gives you some idea of what's going on in the game, with the captain calling out directions as their submarine moves through the water; the radio operator paying attention to the opposing captain to try to track down where that sub might be; the first mate powering up your radar, torpedoes, and other equipment; and the engineer doing something I can't fathom since I played with only three on a team!



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Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2016: Imhotep, Kerala, Smugglers, Glupschgeister, 90 Grad, and BANG! The Dice Game – Old Saloon

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Let's check out a few more game overview videos that BGG recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2016 in late January, noting while doing so that you can find all 59 (and counting!) of these videos on the Spielwarenmesse 2016 playlist on BGG's YouTube channel and on the individual game pages in the database.

• Designer Phil Walker-Harding has a number of releases hitting shelves in 2016, including the Egyptian-themed building game Imhotep from KOSMOS, with players serving as architects who are also tasked with loading materials on transport boats and getting those boats to the building sites. Sounds like Egypt's unions weren't strong as those employee responsibilities should be better delineated...





• When I first looked at the components image for Smugglers from Klaus and Benjamin Teuber, I didn't get how it worked, figuring that I'd need to see the game in action to really understand it. Mission accomplished!





• Kirsten Hiese's Kerala: Der Weg der Elefanten is a tile-placement game in which the elephants themselves tell you where to place the tiles — well, sort of.





• Whatever you feel about the game, I'm excited to have learned about Glupschgeister because it led to interesting discussions about translation issues, both with Katarina from KOSMOS and with Sabine and Emily from AMIGO, the latter of whom was born in Canada, so she drew on her native English language background to pull out "bug-eyed" as a decent translation of "glupsch", although she said that term still wasn't ideal. Even so, I invite everyone to now welcome one another by yelling "Glupschgeister!"





• Gunnar Kuhlencord's 90 Grad has been released in a few editions since its debut in 2000, and now Clemens Gerhards has released a beautiful wood version of the design, but "beautiful wood version" is pretty much synonymous with Clemens Gerhards so that shouldn't be a surprise.





• Italian publisher dV Giochi plans to release an expansion for Michael Palm and Lukas Zach's BANG! The Dice Game in 2016, and as with many expansions these days, BANG! The Dice Game – Old Saloon consists of multiple modules that can be combined with the base game individually or in any combination.

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Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:00 pm
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Details on the 2016 Models of Agricola

W. Eric Martin
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As I noted in early 2015, designer Uwe Rosenberg and publisher Lookout Games have been revamping their 2007 release Agricola, a game that is arguably one of the two most important releases in the past decade (the other one being Dominion). As Lookout's Hanno Girke wrote in Feb. 2015:

Quote:
Agricola is 8 years old now. There are many cards in the original edition that are never played. Cards that sit on your hand like a lame duck and block that spot for an exciting card.

There are lots of cards that define your strategy in a negative way, as you'll never play them. Which leads to a "real" hand size of approx 2-4 cards each.

We don't like that. Uwe wants the game to be open for all players, to reduce the luck in the card draw. Therefore, his idea is to eliminate weak cards and to replace them with power cards from expansions. We need a tournament standard that's good for the next decade.

Now Lookout's parent company, Mayfair Games, has revealed some details of what you'll find when the new version of Agricola is released on May 20, 2016:

• To start, the game includes wooden components for 1-4 players, instead of 1-5. At Spielwarenmesse 2016, Mayfair's Larry Roznai said that the primary reason for this change (as well as for some of the other changes made) is to hit a $60 MSRP in order to make the game more accessible on the market. (The previous edition of Agricola from Z-Man Games retailed for $70.)

• The Agricola base game will include, to quote from a Mayfair Games press release, "a 'greatest hits' collection of cards from the original game and its expansions, newly revised and updated for this edition". This change addresses the problem that Girke described above. Hundreds of cards have been added to the Agricola system since the game's debut, so it makes sense to revisit the introductory set of cards that new players first encounter. Exactly which cards will be included from which sets has not been detailed.

• The Agricola base game will no longer include the "Family Variant" that removes the Minor Improvement and Occupation cards from gameplay and instead has players using only the actions on the game boards. Instead Mayfair and Lookout will release the Agricola Family Edition, which once again has components for 1-4 players. Roznai said that by removing the cards, Mayfair could present a far more affordable, introductory version of Agricola for the mainstream market, similar to what Mayfair did with the Catan: Family Edition. Agricola Family Edition will be released in 2016 at some point following the new version of the Agricola base game.

• In Q4 2016, Mayfair and Lookout will release the Agricola 5-6 Player Extension, which includes wooden components for two additional players as well as "even more cards handpicked and revised by Uwe Rosenberg".

• As Girke has promised in the past, Mayfair and Lookout will sell the new and revised Agricola cards on their own so that those who already own the game can get the updated material without needing to buy the base game once again.

•••


Somewhat related to this announcement is a question for you:

Poll
Should the 2016 edition of the Agricola base game receive its own listing in the BGG database?
Yes
No
I'm not sure
Bacon!
      2612 answers
Poll created by W Eric Martin


I ask this question because based on BGG's current guidelines, this new edition of Agricola should receive its own listing. It has a different player count with different cards and no family game. This isn't a question of whether one new card or tile qualifies something as a different game. Clearly the components differ from what's been available in the past!

Yet this is still Agricola. If you know how to play any of the earlier releases, then you'll be able to jump into this one with nothing new to encounter other than the text of the cards, which might have been new to you anyway given how many cards are included in the base game. It's the same, yet different.

The current BGG listing for Agricola includes editions that contain the Z-deck and the X-deck, and using current guidelines, those editions should have been broken out on their own as well (although one of those editions predates the versions system in the BGG database).

So what to do, what to do? Any suggestions that might encompass this release and all the strange Kickstarter titles that include a half-dozen bonus doodads and fancy upgraded editions that may or may not include additional game material and whatever else publishers might dream up in the years ahead? Publishers have the ability to change every aspect of a release large and small, and ideally we want to provide users with all of that information in usable and useful way, so I welcome your ideas on how to do this.
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Wed Feb 10, 2016 3:25 pm
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2016: Happy Pigs, Sea of Clouds, SOL, World Monuments, Risky Adventure & Mighty Monsters

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• Time for another round-up of some of the game preview videos that BGG recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2016, starting with Kuraki Mura's Happy Pigs from IELLO. I've played the original Swan Panasia release a few times and will confess that after reading the rules I initially didn't expect much from the game, but in practice I found it grossly entertaining. I guess that's why we need to actually play the games before rating or reviewing them...





• Théo Rivière's Sea of Clouds, also from IELLO, is a quasi-card-drafting game of air pirates who want to get what all pirates want to get: A renewed annual contract with the Starz network that guarantees 3% on the back end for DVD sales and merchandise.





Queen Games was showing a half-dozen titles that it plans to release in 2016, including Piero Cioni's World Monuments, which from the description seems to fall into that midweight family game category that Queen targets with many of its releases.





Risky Adventure from Anthony Rubbo and Queen Games takes a familiar setting — adventures exploring for stuff in the jungle and desert — and forces you to take more risks during the gameplay itself.





• Designer Desnet Amane first released Dungeon Guilds through his own Moaideas Game Design studio in 2013, and now Queen Games has picked up the title design and has upped the monster quotient 100% in Mighty Monsters.





• I previewed Pierre Buty's SOL from Catch Up Games after taking an early look at the rulebook, and now you can see (a prototype of) the game board for yourself to imagine how characters will be scrambling over the terrain in search of the treasure of the God of the Sun.

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Tue Feb 9, 2016 6:33 pm
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