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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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New Game Round-up: Build a New World for Yourself in Beta Colony, and Hit the Tracks Anew in Downforce: Danger Circuit

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• U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games has mostly focused on releasing original games the past few years, and in Q1 2018 it will debut Beta Colony from the design team of Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game that plays in 60-90 minutes:

Quote:
It all started when the Imperium seized control of Earth and declared martial law, sentencing those who opposed their will to immediate death or worse fates. It seemed as if all hope was lost, but before their edict could be carried out, a group of defectors managed to wrest control of the Ridback, a Class–II jumpship, and flee with as many of the condemned as they could save.

It has been close to seven years that these refugees from Earth have called the Ridback home, and finally the crew has found a planet with promise. They have managed to establish outposts around it, and now the great burden falls on you to expand these small “alphas” into a full-fledged Beta Colony. Success will mean that your people will be able to begin life anew on exoplanet 14 Bos c, or, as they have renamed it, "Victus" — Latin for "way of life".

In Beta Colony, you play as one of five Directors working to create prosperous colonies. If you earn the most Confidence Points (CP), you will be elected as the first leader of Victus. Players will collect the needed building materials to produce and erect colonization pods – Defense Stations, Science and Tech Towers, Living Quarters, Agriculture Pods, and Water Treatment Centers – on the varied terrain of Victus.

Using a unique "rolldell" mechanism (dice + rondel), Beta Colony is a mid-weight strategic game for players of all levels. Each round, the start player rolls their set of four colored dice. All other players duplicate that roll with their own dice. Players take two actions each round, one action at a time in turn order, with each action using two dice. Players will use one die to move and one die to activate the location to which they moved. Die color and value affect how each of the seven unique locations are used. Players will build colonization pods at each of three colonies to gain the confidence of the settlers and lead them to glory!

• Aside from Beta Colony, Rio Grande Games plans a Q1 2018 release for Broadhorns: Early Trade on the Mississippi, which designer Jim Harmon was showing to publishers as far back as Origins 2013. I recall seeing it at some point over the years, perhaps at that very show, but now this 2-4 player game that plays in 60-90 minutes will be moving to game tables, offering players this experience:

Quote:
In Broadhorns: Early Trade on the Mississippi players take the role of merchants based in St. Louis, financing cargo expeditions down the Mississippi River during the early part of the 19th century. The game is played over the course of a year through the varying seasons, each presenting its own challenge. During the game, the players will finance a number of trips. With each one they will need to obtain a boat (known as a broadhorn or flatboat) and purchase cargo. The player receives a higher return for their cargo the farther down the Mississippi they travel. Some of the cargo is perishable so time is of the essence. In addition, there are travelers willing to pay for passage down the Mississippi.

The players begin the game in St. Louis with a small amount of gold. They will be able to afford only the smallest of three sizes of broadhorns for their first expedition; when they have earned more gold they will choose between smaller faster broadhorns and larger broadhorns with more cargo room. They will load their broadhorns with cargo from five available types: apples, flour, pork, fur and whiskey. Apples, flour and pork are perishable and the players have a limited time to deliver them before they spoil. The players may stop at any town along the way and deliver their cargo and purchase more, the farther down the river they sell their cargo the greater the return. Players may also pick up travelers at various towns to earn additional gold by taking them to their destination.

• In Q1 2018, Rio Grande Games also plans to release the SPIEL '17 titles Transatlantic and Rob 'n Run from PD-Verlag and the Power Grid: Fabled Expansion from 2F-Spiele.

Restoration Games has announced a 2018 release for Downforce: Danger Circuit, an expansion for Wolfgang Kramer's Downforce that consists of two new tracks on a double-sided game board as well as six new racer powers to shuffle with those in the base game.

Restoration Games has also announced a licensing deal with IELLO for release of Downforce outside the U.S.

• Deep Water Games & Distribution is a new company formed by Jacob Way, Nolan Nasser, and Travis McIntire that will launch in March 2018 with four licensed titles from Taiwanese publisher EmperorS4: Herbalism, Shadows in Kyoto, Hànzi, and Crows Overkill, the first three of which debuted in 2017 and the last of which originated from designer Roy Nambu's Pen and Dice brand in 2014.

In a press release announcing the titles, Deep Water Games said that at least two more games were scheduled for release in North America in late 2018, with "in-house" developments taking place as well. From the announcement:

Quote:
According to Chief Operations Officer, Jacob Way: "We're going to have a full line of products by the end of 2018 through the partnership with EmperorS4 and what we're going to create in-house. What's got me really excited is that this is a two way street. We're going to be signing a variety of North American properties and handling localization into the Asian market!"

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First Hints of Alderac's Game Line-up for 2018

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In a December 2017 newsletter, Alderac Entertainment Group highlighted how it had scaled back its game releases in 2017 — with only a dozen new titles being released, three of them exclusively in the Big Game Night package at Gen Con 50 — compared to sixteen new games appearing in 2016. (These totals do not include Smash Up expansions and other game line extensions.) It's not clear right now where 2018 will fall in the rankings of "number of new titles released" for AEG, but the publisher has revealed some of what's coming:

Rüdiger Dorn's Istanbul: The Dice Game, which Pegasus Spiele debuted at SPIEL '17 in October, will hit North American markets in an AEG version in April 2018. For a taste of the game right now, you can watch this overview that BGG recorded with Pegasus Spiele in Essen.

John D. Clair's huge card-crafting, city-controlling game Edge of Darkness has already been previewed at conventions throughout 2017, such as our video coverage at the 2017 Origins Game Fair, and this title should be out sometime in 2018.

• Clair also has a new Mystic Vale expansion heading to market — Conclave — with this item consisting of new cards for use with the base game as well as a storage box to hold everything Vale in one place.

• AEG will release a second new game from Clair in 2018: Space Base, which bears this minimalist description: "Roll 2D6 to built the ultimate space base!" Both Conclave and Space Base are due out in March/April 2018.

• In May 2018, The Captain Is Dead space saga gets a new episode in Lockdown, with the crew finding themselves imprisoned on their own ship. Hostile aliens have taken control, and the crew must work together and remain hidden while attempting to regain control of the ship.

Smash Up: That '70s Expansion, another expansion for the vast Smash Up line that can be played as a two-player game on its own, features factions of truckers, vigilantes, disco dancers, and kung fu fighters.

• Finally, we have Lost Atlantis, a design by Jani and Tero Moliis due out in Q4 2018 that AEG describes only as a "3X game under the sea".


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Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:05 pm
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Lang and Bauza to Unleash Victorian Masterminds in 2018

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Let's set the WABAC Machine to November 2015. Game designer Eric M. Lang showed up as a special guest at BGG.CON, and while at the show, he recorded an overview of Victorian Masterminds with our own Beth Heile, this game being a co-design with Antoine Bauza that was signed with Space Cowboys "possibly for publication in late 2016, as Lang notes in the video below, but possibly later".

Turns out that "possibly later" was the operative phrase.

After much delay, the game is now due for release in 2018, but with CMON Limited releasing the game instead of Space Cowboys. CMON hired Lang as Director of Game Design in March 2017, and a press release announcing the game states that "CMON is pleased to have worked with Space Cowboys to add Victorian Masterminds to its library of games."

Here's a summary of the gameplay, followed by that overview video shot back in Nov. 2015. Note that components and other things in the final will differ from what's shown below, but you'll get a taste of the game from one of the guys who knows it best:

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Sherlock Holmes is dead! And with London's greatest detective out of the way, those with villainous minds decide to wreak as much terror as possible on the populace — and you are one of those dastardly no-goodniks!

While Europe sits unprotected in Victorian Masterminds, you and other players send your henchmen to different cities to use their varied abilities, collect material for your steampunk-inspired contraptions, destroy buildings, and complete missions. At the same time, the Secret Service follows your path of destruction. Every contraption is unique and allows you to take different actions, leading to highly strategic, asymmetric gameplay.

In more detail, during the game, players take turns placing one of their five agent tokens — Henchman, Machine, Saboteur, Pilot, Number 2 — face down on one of the five action spaces. As soon as three tokens are on a space, those tokens are flipped and activated, first in first out, with each agent carrying out its individual action in addition to whatever takes place in that space. When an evil mastermind completes their contraption or the Secret Service brings this villainy to a halt, the game ends, and whoever has generated the most victory points wins.


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Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:40 pm
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Explore and Escape, Writhe and Spy, Quest and Kill in Eight WizKids Releases in Early 2018

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• In 2018, U.S. publisher WizKids plans to continue its policy of releasing a new game every time we have a third quarter moon, thanks to the efforts of game finder Zev Shlasinger.

In addition to a miniature line and board games based on Magic: The Gathering (as covered here) and the Q1 2018 titles Kung Fu Zoo, Team Play, Dark.net, and Blade Runner 2049: Nexus Protocol (covered here), WizKids plans to release many more titles in Q2 2018, such as Fungeon Party, due out June 2018 from the designer quartet of Tom Jones, Brian Lewis, David McGregor, and Marissa Misura. You can already get a sense of the game straight from the cover, not to mention the title's portmanteau, but in more detail:

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Stack dice on your forehead, bounce dice into the box, knock down a meeple surrounded by dice, balance a meeple on a stick — these and many more wacky quests await a traditional dungeon party in the nontraditional dungeon crawler Fungeon Party. Each quest adds 30 seconds to the game, and an average game uses six quests, making this a quick, easy, and fun game to learn and play!

• Another WizKids title that has snuck into Q1 is Letter GO!, a Marcus Ross and Cara Ryan title due out in March 2018:

Quote:
Each round, players write words on their whiteboards using the available letter cards, but they score points only for the cards they are able to claim before their opponents — and words score only if the player follows the ever-changing rules.

The player who scores the most points at the end of five rounds wins.

• May 2018 will see Maiden's Quest, which I believe bears a player count of 1+, although we might need to wait for final cover design to know for sure. As for the gameplay:

Quote:
In Maiden's Quest, a maiden — tired of waiting to be rescued — takes it upon herself to fight her enemies and escape.

Maidens use cards from their hands to attempt to defeat an enemy or obstacle. As you play, the game's difficulty grows as enemies of increasing ferocity become active! An innovative turn-and-flip mechanism allows each card to represent up to four items, encounters, or allies.

This fun and easy-to-learn game takes 10–30 minutes if you play non-stop. However, since each encounter is resolved separately, you can stop and stow away the deck at any time, returning to play when and where you left off at a later time! Since no surface is required, you can play while standing in line to get your morning coffee, while you wait for an appointment, or while sitting on the couch at home! Contents include enough for true solo play, co-op, or competitive two-player games, and, with multiple copies, more players can join in!




• Also due out in May 2018 is Curio: The Lost Temple, a 10- to 15-minute real-time game for 2-5 players from designer Ian Zang that presents a new replayable take on escape room games:

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A sinkhole formed west of the Tigris river in the heart of Mesopotamia, revealing a large stone door with curious, unknown markings. A special team of archaeologists, from all over the world, ventured to the site to solve its puzzle, allowing them inside. Therein, a massive man-made cavern, stretching for what seemed to be a mile straight down, could be seen. But just as the team decided to leave, the door slammed shut, sand slowly started filling the room, and the team was faced with new puzzles to solve. Can they do it in time?

In the real-time cooperative game Curio: The Lost Temple, players take the role of the archaeological team as they try to escape the Lost Temple. To do this, they need to communicate and collaborate to solve an unending slew of puzzles.

Unlike other games in this genre, Curio: The Lost Temple is endlessly replayable, even by the same players. Using a unique module-based system, players manipulate, sort, rotate, and search puzzle components to arrive at a distinct answer.

Endless Pass from newcomer Núria Casellas is due out in April 2018, and it checks off the "viking" theme box for the year:

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Enter the Endless Pass, survive the never-ending horde of the Endless, and compete with other vikings to claim the title of Conqueror of the Pass!

In Endless Pass, players fight the scaly Endless to gain glory. The pass is also filled with weapons and runes to aid in defeating Endless, while allowing you to heal yourself. Combined with your action cards like attack, defend, evade, steal, and hide, you have more ways to defeat, evade, or defend against the Endless. However, whatever Endless are not defeated continue to plague the other vikings as they walk the Pass! You may also battle the other vikings. After all, you are fighting for glory and a place in Valhalla.

The last viking standing or the first to acquire ten glory, while surviving the turn, wins the game. If none of the players survive, then the player with most glory is declared the Conqueror in Valhalla.

• And where vikings lead, surely Lovecraftian beings are sure to follow, as is the case with another April 2018 release: A'Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions, a design by Jay Treat that bears this description:

Quote:
Summon the Great Old Ones by having them align their bodies over Arkham.

In the game A'Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions, players gather in teams of two. Each team consists of a cultist player and a Great Old One player. The cultist is assisting the Great Old One and attempting to summon them to our plane. To do this, the cultist instructs their deity, with great veneration, to place an appendage on top of an Arkham landmark to complete a specific pattern. The problem is that it is nigh impossible to have one Great Old One form this pattern by itself; that's why if another deity is touching any parts of your pattern, you can use that appendage to complete your own pattern!

Up to three teams of two can play in this contortionist battle of positioning.




• Another May 2018 release is Doppelgänger from Stephen Avery and Robert Burke, which is a hidden role game for 4-8 players that's described as akin to a "co-operative dungeon delve":

Quote:
Each player takes the role of an intrepid adventurer who will help the group overcome great perils. However some among them are conniving doppelgängers who work against the party to bring their downfall.

Each turn the players confront a challenge requiring a combination of cards. The party leader selects which adventurers will help him win the encounter. Everyone selected contributes a card to the pool and others are added from the draw pile. Success brings rewards and moves the party closer to uncovering the hidden truth. Failure brings pain and moves the doppelgängers one step closer to victory.

• Finally — for now at least — is Susumu Kawasaki's Spy Tricks, which first appeared in 2016 from the designer's own Kawasaki Factory brand. Shlasinger published a trio of Kawasaki titles — Traders of Carthage, Stack Market, and the ingenious R-Eco — in the mid-2000s when he ran Z-Man Games, and now he has another clever Kawasaki design.

Spy Tricks is a trick-taking game, but the tricks are merely a tool as your real goal is figuring out which card has been removed from the deck, and winning tricks gives you more control in your guesses. Here's an overview of the game that I recorded in 2016 after the game debuted at Tokyo Game Market:

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Frosted Games Teases Uwe Rosenberg's Reykholt for SPIEL '18

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SPIEL '17 ended six weeks ago, so it's time to start looking ahead to what's debuting at SPIEL '18, right? Nusfjord is old news, yes? So let's move on to what's next from designer Uwe Rosenberg, specifically Reykholt from German publisher Frosted Games.

The game description is meager for now, but we have a few months ahead of the game's release to find out more. For now, we have this:

Quote:
In Reykholt, players run vegetable farmhouses on an island while trying to attract the most tourists.

Let the speculation begin!


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Remember SPIEL '17? We're Still Posting Videos From That Show

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Yes, six weeks after SPIEL '17 ended, we're still posting game demonstration videos that we recorded during that convention. Our SPIEL '17 playlist on YouTube boasts more than 170 videos so far, and I still have at least sixty more to post.

In 2015 and 2016, we ended up with more than three hundred videos in each SPIEL playlist, so we probably have even more than sixty in the pipeline. I have several on my camcorder, for example, and someone else is processing all the day-long feeds that we recorded at SPIEL '17 and chopping them into individual game segments, feeding the parts to me bit by bit on our YouTube channel so that I can add thumbnails and publish them. We ran into a slight delay ahead of BGG.CON due to hard drive backup issues that made it tough to pull off files, but now we're hobbled only by the massive quantity of videos.

I'm still not sure whether this publication schedule makes more sense than dumping a few hundred videos on BGG and YouTube all at once, but in any case ideally we'll finish everything before Christmas to give us (and you) a break before we head to the Spielwarenmesse fair in Nürnberg, Germany at the end of January 2018 to start the convention cycle all over again...
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Links: Tokyo Game Market Attendance, Games in the Media, and a Neurosis-Inducing Neural Network

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• Tokyo Game Market took place on Dec. 2-3, 2017, and this was the first time that the event lasted two days. Some exhibitors rented booth space on both days, and some were present only on one day and not the other, which isn't surprising given that many exhibitors come with a small quantity of games and sell out within hours of the show opening.

Arclight, the Japanese publisher that owns Game Market, reports a visitor count of 10,000 on Sat. Dec. 2 and 8,500 on Sun. Dec. 3. To put those numbers in context, Japanese publisher Kocchiya has posted the following summary of attendance numbers from 2012 to present:




The fourth column from left shows the attendance figure for each show. The light green highlights the early year shows in Osaka or Kobe, the pink highlights the spring shows in May, and the blue highlights the autumn shows in November or December. The column at right shows the percentage increase over the same show from the previous year.

The third column from left shows the total number of exhibitors at a show: 572 on the first day of the most recent Game Market, and 497 on the second day. Each Game Market day lasts only seven hours, so seeing even a small percentage of games on hand is tough to do in that time. Nevertheless, I plan to return to TGM in 2018, with the next Tokyo show taking place on May 5-6, 2018.

1843 is a bimonthly magazine about ideas, culture, and lifestyle published by The Economist, and in November 2017 it featured "Table-Top Generals", an article by Tim Cross that serves as an excellent introduction to modern games. An excerpt:

Quote:
One reason for the tabletop-gaming boom is simply that the products have improved. The best modern games are sociable, engaging and easy to learn, but also cerebral, intriguing and difficult to master. The slow triumph of what used to be called "nerd culture" – think smartphone gaming and "Game of Thrones" on television – has given adults permission to engage openly in pastimes that were previously looked down on as juvenile. And the increasing ubiquity of screens has, paradoxically, fuelled a demand for in-person socialising. Board gaming is another example of an old-style, analogue pastime that, far from being killed by technology, has been reinvigorated by it.

The revival began in the 1990s, says Matt Leacock, an American game designer responsible for Pandemic, as the internet began spreading into people's homes. Leacock was a programmer at Yahoo! at the time. Germany, he says, is the spiritual home of board-gaming. "For whatever reason there has always been a culture there of playing these things, of families sitting around the table at a weekend," he says. The internet helped that culture spread: "I remember we used to rely on these little hobbyist websites that would do amateur translations into English of all the new German games that were coming out," says Leacock. As with everything from Japanese cartoons to Jane Austen fandom, the internet helped bring together like-minded people all over the world.

• In October 2017, The New Yorker published an article by Neima Jahromi titled "The Uncanny Resurrection of Dungeons & Dragons" that summarizes the forty-year history of the game and its 5th Edition rebirth in a way that is 100% New Yorker. An excerpt:

Quote:
When mainstream American culture was largely about standing in a factory line, or crowding into smoke-stained boardrooms for meetings, or even dropping acid and collapsing in a field for your hundred-person "be-in," the idea of retiring to a dimly lit table to make up stories with three or four friends seemed fruitless and antisocial. Now that being American often means being alone or interacting distantly—fidgeting with Instagram in a crosswalk, or lying prone beneath the heat of a laptop with Netflix streaming over you—three or four people gathering in the flesh to look each other in the eye and sketch out a world without pixels can feel slightly rebellious, or at least pleasantly out of place.

Thirty or forty years ago, people reached through the dice-rolling mathematics of Dungeons & Dragons for a thrilling order that video games, and the world at large, couldn't yet provide. Today, the chaos of physical dice is reassuringly clunky and slow compared to the speed with which you nervously tally the likes under a Facebook post. Rejecting your feed for an evening isn't like rejecting the God-fearing community that reared you, but something heretical lingers in this lo-fi entertainment.

• Marcus Beard at UK site Best Play fed more than 80,000 games in the BoardGameGeek database into a neural network, then shared the results in an article illustrated with images seemingly shot through a Monopoly filter. An excerpt:

Quote:
[A neural network] takes a huge chunk of text and then attempts to figure out what the next character should probably be. It can then infinitely generate text that looks a lot like huge chunk you gave it — but completely original.

Of course, the ground-breaking technology was crying out to be used on the ground-breaking medium of board games. We've combed through the BBG.com database many times before, so we've got a bank of over 80,000 board game titles, ratings, details and release dates to feed into the neural network.

After six hours of training on this 4mb text file (!), here's what the brain-simulating model was able to generate:

Quote:
Park Glorie (2000) 2-4 players Rating:6
Onth & Gean (1981) 2-2 players Rating:7
Minos's Brin-Mini (2006) 2-4 players Rating:6
Munchkin Park Kings (2008) 2-4 players Rating:6
Flip' El Gays (1964) 1-7 players Rating:4
Power Grid: Fordia (2010) 2-4 players Rating:8
The Besterin Landing: Sentinels of the Alest Tente in the Dark 2 (2001) 4-10 players Rating:5
Secrets! Hall (1988) 2-4 players Rating:6

And another:

Quote:
We can make the output even more boring if we want. When the randomness is turned down all the way, the neural network chooses only the most probable set of characters to insert in the title.

Quote:
Star Wars Miniatures (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
The Game (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
Carcassonne: The Card Game (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
The Card Game (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
The Game (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
The Game of Heroes: The Card Game The Card Game (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
Carcassonne: The Card Game (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6
Star Wars Miniatures (2009) 2-4 players Rating:6


…and the list goes on and on in this manner. I like to imagine a world where there are only three games to choose from: The Game, The Card Card and Star Wars Miniatures. All are mechanically identical and decidedly mediocre.


#1 on the charts, baby!
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New Game Round-up: Steal Buttons, Assemble Cats, Compile Pages, and Color Pyramids

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• In addition to the Viking-themed game Raids, which I covered in mid-November 2017, designers Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan have a second title coming in 2018 from IELLO: the tile-laying game Fairy Tile, which id due out in February 2018. Focusing on the tile-placement is somewhat secondary to your goal, though, as this description makes clear:

Quote:
Welcome to Fairy Tile, a kingdom of magical lands where a daring Princess, a devoted Knight, and a dreadful Dragon roam looking for adventure. They need your help to discover the kingdom! Help them move further and further to fulfill their destiny and tell their story, page after page.

Develop the kingdom of Fairy Tile by putting new land tiles in play and moving the Princess, Knight, and Dragon across different places such as mountains, forests, and plains. Help them have extraordinary adventures by accomplishing objectives written on the pages of your book. As soon as you complete an objective, develop your story and read the page of your book aloud.

Be the first to read all the pages of your book to win the game.

• Two other titles coming from IELLO in 2018 are Sentai Cats, a 15-minute game for 3-6 players from Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, Nicolas Oury, and Théo Rivière due out March 2018 in which you need to transform your kittens into a team of Sentai Cats to defeat Meka Dog and save the world. Silliness in a small box from the "Tokyo Boys", as they are dubbed on the box.

• The other IELLO title is 8-Bit Box, a 2-6 player game that bears this meager description:

Quote:
8-Bit Box is a board game that will remind you the golden age of video games as each player has a gamepad to program their actions, using three wheels: direction, symbol, and value.

The base game contains three different games influenced by classic old-school video games.

Something to look forward to seeing more of at the Spielwarenmesse fair in Nürnberg, Germany in February 2018...

War of the Buttons, due out from ADC Blackfire Entertainment in March 2018, is the first published design from Andreas Steding since The Staufer Dynasty in 2014. The game was inspired by the 1912 novel La Guerre des Boutons by Louis Pergaud, in which gangs from rival villages compete with one another to collect as many buttons as possible from the clothing of the opposing gang members. Strip them of their buttons and laces, then send them home to face punishment from their parents!

The game has only a short description for now: "In War of the Buttons, 2-4 players lead a 'gang' of kids who try to build their own hut. To do this, they use both their own dice and "neutral" dice, while hoping for help from their 'big brother' and for no one to tattle on them at school."

• I know that CAPcolor: Les Pyramides d'Émeraude (The Emerald Pyramids) from Charles Chevallier, Laurent Escoffier, and ilinx éditions is a combination coloring book+game of some sort, but beyond that, I know nothing. Perhaps you score points by doing your best Vincent Dutrait impersonation on the interior pages...


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Fri Dec 8, 2017 1:00 pm
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In 2018, Bruno Cathala Brings Giants to Kingdomino, Leviathans to Abyss, and Sweet Dreams to Imaginarium

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Not the cover!
You will likely see Bruno Cathala's welcoming smile at many conventions and on many videos in 2018 as he once again has a huge number of releases in the pipeline from multiple publishers. It's almost like he's a professional game designer or something. While I don't know the entirety of his release schedule, I can preview six(!) titles coming from Cathala in 2018.

• Let's start with Kingdomino: Age of Giants, which publisher Blue Orange Games dubs the first expansion for the 2017 Spiel des Jahres-winning Kingdomino. No release date is given beyond 2018, but I'm sure we'll find out more details once the early year conventions (Spielwarenmesse, NY Toy Fair) take place. For now, we have this short description:

Quote:
You might fear the giants who will crush your precious buildings, or you could make them move smartly on your opponent's kingdoms.

In Kingdomino: Age of Giants, new royal challenge tiles allow you to score more victory points in many different ways. This expansion also includes a tile dispenser tower as well as a castle and king for a fifth player.

• I've already talked about Micropolis from Matagot, so let's move from tiny to tremendous on the scale of living bodies and present Jurassic Snack, a two-player title from French publisher The Flying Games that smacks of the two-player Cathala titles of old. An overview:

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Young Diplodocuses (Diplos) are fond of the tasty leaves offered by the neighboring pastures. To win, your Diplo team has to eat more leaves than your opponent's team…unless one of you decides to call the ferocious T. Rex to get rid of all his opponent's Diplos!

To set up Jurassic Snack, create a square at random with the four playing boards, place four Diplos of your color on the matching egg spaces, then shuffle the grass tokens and place them face down on the 28 empty spaces. Two actions are available on a turn: moving a Diplo of your color or moving a T. Rex. The players take turns performing two actions each, which can be the same or different, and which can involve the same Dino or T. Rex, or not.

A Diplo has one single goal: eating grass tokens. It moves in a straight line as many spaces as it wishes until it's blocked by another Diplo, a T. Rex, the edge of the playing area, or a grass token. In this last case, the Diplo takes the grass token to eat it and immediately applies one of the six effects: birth, T. Rex appearance, Diplo move, etc.

The T. Rex has one single goal: scaring the Diplos away. The movement rules for the T. Rex are the same as for the Diplos'. When it meets a Diplo, the T. Rex is placed on the Diplo's space, and the Diplo is placed back into its owner's pool.

The game ends when no grass tokens remain in the playing area. The player who has eaten the most grass wins. A game can also end when a player has no Diplo of their color in the playing area.

• Speaking of old-school Cathala games, French Swiss publisher Ôz Editions is releasing a new edition of Drôles de Zèbres under the name Kiwara, with the title likely to debut during the fair in Cannes in late February 2018. In the game, players take turns placing animal tokens in six territories on the 6x5 board. Lions eat zebras and chase away gazelles, while elephants stand around taking up space and crocodiles sneak across rivers to change places with gazelles. You can place a token only in the row or column indicated by the opponent. When the game ends, whoever has the most tokens in a territory scores points equal to the value of all animals in that territory, whether yours or the opponent's.

Kiwara includes a double-sided game board that lets you create your own territories before play begins, thereby giving you new spaces in which to fight. The game also now includes ten reinforcement cards to give bonus powers to less experienced players.

Purple Brain Creations debuted Oliver Twist, co-designed by Cathala and Sébastien Pauchon, at SPIEL '17, but only in a French edition. PBC's Benoît Forget says that he'll have info on distribution of the English-language edition at the start of 2018, with the game likely to be available in the U.S. in mid-2018. For now, you can enjoy this presentation of the game by Cathala and Pauchon in the BGG booth during SPIEL '17:




• In mid-November 2017, Bombyx published this teaser image on Facebook:




Clearly something new is coming for Abyss, which Cathala co-designed with Charles Chevallier. More searching revealed this in my inbox of all places:


I send myself notes all the time, but many of them end up buried due to the huge number of games I see that could be researched. Thus, I overlooked news of Abyss: Leviathan, which Bombyx says will be released in French in March 2018 and in English sometime during 2018. Here's an overview of what changes in the base game thanks to this expansion:

Quote:
News from the outpost is worrying. The Leviathans, these terrifying sea monsters, are converging towards the border and threatening the Kingdom. Will the Allies and the conscripts, mandated by each of the Guilds, contain them? Exploring is now dangerous: fighting is not easy, and fleeing can be even more dangerous — but the opportunity is unique to prove your worth and use this influence to gain access to the throne.

In Abyss: Leviathan, the threat track is replaced by the border board on which Leviathan cards will be placed. When you explore the depths, if the revealed card is a monster, you can fight a Leviathan on the border. Some new lords and some allies will help you fight, using their power. The player who has killed the greatest number of sea monsters takes the statue and wins 5 extra points at the end of the game — and if you do not fight, you may get injured...

• Finally — for now — we have Imaginarium, a co-design with Florian Sirieix that Bombyx first demoed at the Cannes game fair in Feb. 2017. At that time, I filmed an overview of the game, which then bore the unfortunate title of "Steamers", but the final look of the game wasn't yet in place, a look for which I want to give thanks to Felideus Bubastis:




Holy smokes, this game is gorgeous! And the miniatures!




I'm not a minis guy normally, but these are incredibly detailed and rich with personality. They're like the figure pieces in Eric Solomon's Conspiracy but one thousand times more interesting.

As for the gameplay, you're assembling machines to create dreams, with you needing to pick the right machines to make things happen for you in terms of producing goods, working in harmony with the rest of your factory, and shooting you toward the long-term goals that you're racing against other players to claim. For more detail, here's an updated overview video that we recorded at SPIEL '17:


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New Game Round-up: Contests, Capers, Civilizations, and Crooks

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Upper Deck Entertainment has already released two games that make use of the myriad characters in the Marvel Comics universe, and come mid-2018 that number will increase by one thanks to the debut of Carmen Bellaire's Marvel Contest of Champions: Battlerealms, a 3-6 player game that bears this description:

Quote:
Marvel Contest of Champions: Battlerealms is a brand new, unique game set in the "Contest of Champions" universe. In Battlerealms, players take control of a character, roll dice to activate powers, and zoom across different locations to gain points or take points from other players.

I guess that description refers to the 2014 mobile game Marvel: Contest of Champions, but it could mean the comic series that started in 2015 or even the Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions trilogy from 1982 that I still regret buying, although it led to me discovering non-superhero comics, so that was a plus.

• Also due out in mid-2018 is The Mansky Caper from Ken Franklin and Calliope Games, with this being a Prohibition-era game in which 2-6 player gangsters are ransacking the home of mob boss Al Mansky. You might have to split the take several ways as you break into safes throughout the house, but you might also run into traps that can blow your hopes sky-high. Whatever happens, the player who makes it out of the house with the most money wins.

• Little has been made public right now about CIV: Carta Impera Victoria from newcomer Rémi Amy and French publisher Ludonaute other than that it's a deck-building game bearing this brief description:

Quote:
Carta Impera Victoria is a game of CIVilization and diplomacy in which you develop your own nation. Be the first to reach hegemony in one domain to make history, but keep an eye on your opponents. Forming a temporary alliance might be the best way to prevent a player to triumph…and remember that offense is sometimes the best defense!

CIV is due out in February 2018, most likely debuting at the FIJ fair in Cannes, which BGG plans to attend.

Hassan Lopez's Infamous from Eagle-Gryphon Games, due out in late 2018, challenges 2-5 players to be good at being bad, specifically by choosing a role as one of five supervillains, building a secret lair from the seventy rooms included in the game, recruiting henchmen attracted by your lair, then trying to complete contracts of evil actions around the world.
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