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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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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2017 IV: Custom Heroes, Lovecraft Letter, Sorcerer, Stronghold Games, and The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

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Time for more game overview videos shot in the BoardGameGeek booth at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, starting with a title that we previewed at GTS 2016 ahead of its Kickstarter campaign and which is now in the hands of backers ahead of a U.S. retail release in June 2017. That game is Eric Vogel's The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game from Evil Hat Productions, and it pits characters from the first five novels in the "Dresden Files" series from Jim Butcher against a scenario based on one of those novels.





• Some publishers brought only a game or two to feature in their time on camera at GAMA, and some brought everything and the kitchen sink. Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games is an example in the later category, with him running through nine games in less than thirteen minutes. Three of the titles were released at SPIEL 2016 — Flamme Rouge, Cottage Garden, Not Alone — so you might already know something about them, with the main takeaway from this video being that Stronghold will release this titles in the U.S.





White Wizard Games has released three successful card games — Star Realms, Epic, Hero Realms — and its next release, Sorcerer from Peter Scholtz, sticks to its card game roots while combining an RPG-type element as you create a character in the game by shuffling together different decks that will combo together in varying ways.





• The latest iteration of Seiji Kanai's Love Letter coming from Alderac Entertainment Group — their annual premium version, as it were — is Lovecraft Letter, which gives you an opportunity(?) to go insane during a round in order to make use of special "insanity" powers but at the risk of being booted out for being too mad for the table.





• AEG seems to specialize in spinoff games or games that can be iterated in multiple ways, and this specialization is evident in Custom Heroes, which takes the transparent cards from John D. Clair's Mystic Vale and uses them in a trick-taking game that allows you to level up cards during play, with those changes persisting in future rounds, thereby altering the nature of the deck from which everyone is receiving their cards.

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New Game Round-up: Whistling to the West Coast, Shopping for Accuracy, and Reliving the Wars of the Roses

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• While at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, I noticed a second new title for 2017 from Bézier Games (aside from the recently announced The Palace of Mad King Ludwig), but we had no slots in our broadcast schedule, so I took a pic and made a note to look into it later — only to find out that Bézier's Ted Aslpach had sent me a press release weeks ago. Ha ha, so much for my tidy inbox!

In any case, Scott Caputo's tile-laying game Whistle Stop is set to debut from Bézier at Gen Con 2017 in August. Here's a rundown of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
With the driving of the golden spike in 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States — but really it was only the beginning of a rapid expansion of railways that would crisscross the entire country.

In Whistle Stop, you make your way west across the country, using your fledgling railroad company to build routes, pick up valuable cargo, and deliver needed goods to growing towns, creating a network of whistle stops that you and your competitors can leverage as you continue to expand your networks. Along the way, you gain shares in other railroads and watch your reputation soar with each successful delivery before making a final push to complete long hauls to the boom towns of the West.

This design is a new twist on pick-up-and-deliver games. As players move their trains west and pick up goods, they can deliver those goods to small towns to gain shares in railroads, or hold on to them for a bigger payout when they reach the west coast. At the same time, they try to optimize their actions (and gain extra ones), lay down new track tiles, block the other players, gather and use valuable whistles for special moves and abilities, and carefully manage their coal resources.

• Another title that's been lurking in my inbox is Shop 'N Time from Daryl Andrews and Mercury Games, with this design featuring an app that allows for a The Price Is Right-style "guess the price of this stuff without going over" game that avoids any calculation. Here's an overview of the gameplay:

Quote:
How about some nice aftershave from 1949? Or maybe you're looking for a fancy fly swatter from 2014? You just found a magical store that has all of these products and more! All it takes is a good eye and a fast hand, and these bargains can be yours!

Shop 'N Time is a real-time, app-assisted card game with simple rules. In the basic game mode, "Price Target", each player is given the same budget, then dealt a hand of seven cards. You pick one to purchase, pass the rest, possibly pick another, then pass, etc., and you keep going until you have at least three cards but think the price of those items is still within your budget. Once everyone passes, each player scans the items they've purchased to see who's come closest to spending the budget without going over.

Shop 'N Time includes four different games to play with two different playing modes: real-time and strategic.

• UK publisher Surprised Stare Games has announced a new release for the 2017 UK Games Expo, which opens June 2, with The Cousins' War from David J. Mortimer being a two-player game on a big topic that clocks in at thirty minutes. Klemenz Franz supplies the artwork.

Quote:
The Wars of the Roses were fought between the Houses of York and Lancaster for over three decades during the 15th century in England. The houses were both branches of the royal family, therefore the Wars were originally known as "The Cousins' War". Each player represents one of the houses as they fight battles and gain influence to control England.

The Cousins' War is played over a maximum of five rounds, with each round representing between five and ten years of the conflict. Each round involves gaining influence across England and preparing for a climactic battle.

In each round, the players decide where the current battlefield will be, playing action cards to deploy troops to the battlefield, while also increasing or decreasing their influence in the regions, after which they fight. Players resolve the battle by engaging in bluff and counter-bluff, using three dice, until only one side has troops remaining on the field. Winning the battle helps to consolidate your house's influence on the board.

You win The Cousins' War either by dominating all the regions of England or by controlling the most regions at the end of the fifth round.



White Wizard Games has something new in the works for its well-loved card game Star Realms. Star Realms: Scenarios is a pack of twenty scenario cards, with each card changing one or more rules — or introducing new rules — for that particular game. WWG has posted an overview of different ways you can put the scenario cards into play should you not want to opt for the simple option of shuffling the deck and revealing the top card. We talked with Star Realms co-designer Rob Dougherty about the scenarios pack at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show.

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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2017 III: Munchkin: Rick and Morty, Evil Dead 2, The Terminator, Nefarious: Becoming a Monster, and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters

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Let's continue with more preview videos from the 2017 GAMA Trade Show. We have 32 videos in our GTS 2017 playlist on YouTube, and I haven't even finished publishing everything from day one. We sliced nine hours of video on day one into 52 videos, which seems a bit crazy, to be honest, especially since a number of the videos feature multiple games. We just jammed out as much as possible, which barely left us time for eating at the end of the day. Such is convention life.

One new title I'm happy to see announced is Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion from USAopoly as my son and I have had a ball playing the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle base game. We haven't lost yet through five games — and we've come close to losing only once — but we're playing with only two players, so the dark arts events don't hit us the same way they hit people in a four-player game, which seems like a developmental miss.

I can overlook that uneven player count scaling, though, as he's a Potter fan who's enjoying himself greatly and I get to do all my silly voices while playing. Maybe after we finish, we can go through the game again with three players to up the challenge — or we can jump into this instead the material another way.





• USAopoly showed both HP:HB–TMBOME and the Munchkin: Rick and Morty standalone game (and many other things) at NY Toy Fair in February 2017, but I couldn't take photos in their booth. Such are the restrictions that come from working with licensors to transform their stuff into games. At GTS 2017, Andrew Wolf from USAopoly could now talk about Munchkin: Rick and Morty — as well as a Munchkin: Deadpool expansion — while still not revealing any of the cards themselves.





• USAopoly also teased Donald X. Vaccarino's Nefarious: Becoming a Monster, an expansion for Nefarious that existed in prototype form when the Ascora Games version of Nefarious went to market in 2011, but which never previously saw print.





• Let's make a licensing sandwich with a creamy Nefarious middle by taking a look at Evil Dead 2: The Official Board Game from Space Goat Productions. Some people have looked at this release and the next one and wondered how this company they never heard of landed these licenses (as well as one for The Howling), and the secret is that this "new" company has existed for a decade, having been founded in 2006 as a "talent management agency and production studio" for the comic book industry.





• SGP collected more than $200,000 for The Terminator: The Official Board Game on Kickstarter in March 2017, and the ideas in the game sound like what you'd want to see in an adaption of The Terminator, but we won't see what the final result is until the game hits the U.S. market at the end of 2017.

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Crowdfunding Round-up: Powering Through Space for Honorable and Tasty Mutant Queens

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• Designer Corné van Moorsel of Cwali is hitting Kickstarter once again to fund his annual SPIEL release, this being Powerships, a new version of his (in my opinion) excellent racing game Powerboats that keeps the same dice-driven, press-your-luck system but moves the action into outer space. As with other recent Cwali titles, this game will be available solely through crowdfunding or at conventions. (KS link)

• A more traditional "build spaceships and launch them" design on KS right now is Farlight from Nick Sibicky and Game Salute. (KS link)

• You can also build in Castle Dukes from Dominic Michael H. and Medieval Lords as you buy room cards, pillars, tables, and so on, then use those to assemble a three-dimensional castle which will ideally (1) attract guests that start showing up during the game and (2) withstand assaults from a dragon who will also pop up to say hello. If you knock things over while building or otherwise suffer structural damage, you take crumble tokens that reduce your score at game's end. (KS link)

• If you'd prefer to build low instead, Julien Charbonnier's DIG from Mangrove Games is a press-your-luck card game in which you want to dig tunnels in a hill to collect ten gems before anyone else. (KS link)

• "Will you become a hero or an evil scum?" I suppose that you could ask yourself that question at any time, but in this case the question is prompted by Crossroads of Heroes, self-published by Pat Piper. In the game, you represent a virtuous character from one of the five most venerated sects of Chinese Wuxia, and you can train and fight in duels — but if you take too many actions of a questionable nature, you turn evil and must take the dark path to victory. (KS link)

• From the title of 878: Vikings – Invasions of England, you might be inspired to take on the role of said invading vikings, seeing as they get top billing, but in this design from Beau Beckett, Dave Kimmel, Jeph Stahl, and Academy Games — which uses mechanisms similar to those in Academy's "Birth of America" game series — you can also try your hand as the English nobles to, as the press copy goes, "defend your Kingdom and Christendom from the pagan hordes". Top billing doesn't always equal respect, mind you. Despite the focus on the English, versions of the game are available in English, French, German, and Spanish. (KS link)

Nations co-designer Rustan Håkansson is taking you back a bit further in time with Tribes: Early Civilization from Tea Time Productions, with 2-4 players reliving the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages for the safety of their dining room table. Even at the dawn of time, though, man knew all about the 4Xs of gameplay, which you'll find in this game. (KS link)

• We can then slingshot back to the present for Richard Gurley's self-published Urban Tribes, with players representing hipsters, soccer moms, and another modern faction that wants to win City Council seats so that it can build the city as it deems best for itself. (KS link)

LudiCreations is releasing not one, but two new editions of Long Live the Queen, first released in 2014 by Japanese publisher Circle 3D6. In this game, two players compete to place their princess on the throne, either by collecting enough prestige of multiple types or by removing the competition — possibly even through assassination. LudiCreations is offering a version of the game with the original artwork for those who want that as well as a "dieselpunk" edition with new artwork because, as the LudiCreations owner told me at SPIEL 2016, "I like the way it looks." (KS link)

• Sebastian Koziner's Mutant Crops, first released in Argentina as Cultivos Mutantes by El Dragón Azul and OK Ediciones, is a worker-placement, resource-management design from Atheris Games in which all the foodstuff has bizarre powers that you'll try to use to make as much money as possible. (KS link)

• The cooperative deck-building game Aeon's End was a big hit for Indie Boards & Cards and Action Phase Games in 2016, and now those publishers and designer Kevin Riley are back on Kickstarter with Aeon's End: War Eternal, a standalone game that also serves as an expansion for the original release. (KS link)

Grimslingers from Stephen Gibson and Greenbrier Games has the more traditional "just an expansion" expansion in Grimslingers: The Northern Territory, which somewhat nebulously "refines and redefines all aspects of the game, while adding more of what players love", according to the BGG description. (KS link)

• Nicolas Sato's Tiki from Ôz Editions is a quick-playing battle for pineapples — that's right, pineapples — on a 3x3 grid. I recorded an overview of the game while at FIJ 2017 in Cannes, France should you want to see it in action. (KS link)

• In Greg Scratchley and Luke Wilkinson's card game 5ive: King's Court from GameStax, you need to play a card that has a certain action on it in order to take that action and you want all five actions in your court in order to win, but other players' actions might keep that from happening. (KS link)

• Thomas Eliot's Murder Most Foul from Sixpence Games is described as an "infinitely replayable murder mystery dinner party game", which is a switch since those are usually one-and-done. (KS link)

Somme: Life in the Saps is a two-player, quick-playing card game of World War I trench warfare from Aditya Gaggar and reCreatives. (Indiegogo link)

Mission Selfie London from Jacky Declerck and JP Declerck is an odd duck of a game, with its goal being to help young players learn and use English better while playing a game about traveling around London and seeing things during the journey. (Ulule link)

Omen Quest from newcomer Relephor is a trick-taking game of some sort, the description of which isn't entirely clear to me. I get something about managing coins and needing to burn havens to draw more cards or manipulate your hand, but it's a fuzzy cloud of rules that I'm unwilling to wade through. (KS link)

• Let's end with a project that I'm even fuzzier-headed about: Tasty Minstrel Games is on equity crowdfunding investment platform MicroVentures looking for investment in the company itself. Why? Well, I can understand why a company might want people to give it money, but I'm not sure what those giver receive in return. Here's the statement under the "Use of Proceeds and Product Roadmap" header:

Quote:
TMG plans to use the proceeds from this raise for marketing to build up the brand of TMG, manufacturing, and new hires. TMG has a number of different games in its pipeline. There are three games currently in development, including the title Trading on the Tigris. There are 15 games currently in artwork production including Downfall, Exodus Fleet, Samara, Orléans: 5th Player, Okey Dokey, Eminent Domain: Oblivion, Harvest, Crusaders, Pioneer Days, and Homesteaders: New Beginnings, among others.

Okay, sure, but what's in it for me as an investor? TMG owner Michael Mindes is answering questions on the project page, but I'm ignorant of most things related to shares and company ownership, so I'll decline to summarize anything here other than to say I don't get it. (MicroVentures 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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Links: Gamer Fatigue, Exploring Badness, and Undercover Design at the CIA

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• CNN has a short article on how the CIA uses board games to train staffers, based on a presentation at the 2017 South by Southwest festival, with quotes from both senior collection analyst David Clopper and intelligence educator (and freelance game designer) Volko Ruhnke. An excerpt:

Quote:
In "Collection," Clopper's first CIA game, teams of analysts work together to solve international crises against a ticking clock. His second title, "Collection Deck," is a Pokémon-like card game in which where each card represents either an intelligence collection strategy or a hurdle like red tape or bureaucracy.

For instance, a player could lay out a card to collect intelligence via satellite photos, but an opponent could block them by playing a "ground station failure" card. It's meant to mimic situations analysts might run into in their actual work.

• In La Lettura, Michela Lazzaroni attempts to summarize and visualize board game data in a new way:

Quote:
Each game is arranged from left to right by the score, and from bottom to top by year of production. The height of the pieces specifies the maximum number of players allowed, the black triangles identifies the games that can be played solo, whereas the color shows the game’s setting (Ancient History, Middle Ages, Modern History, Industrial Revolution, Contemporary Period, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Abstract).


• Designer Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games writes about "gamer fatigue" and how it might impact the long-term health of the game industry. An excerpt:

Quote:
When people first enter the hobby, they buy games aggressively. If they like something, they'll purchase it right away.

This "honeymoon" period lasts for about 1-3 years. But at some point, a gamer realizes that they can't sustain that pace. They run out of space to store their collection. They realize, via a life event or other need for frugality, that they can't spend so much money on games. They realize that half their collection is still unplayed. Many times, they even start to find new games bland. They pine for a time when games were "better," which tends to align with the exact moment they entered the hobby...

[In] terms of pure buying power, it's the people new to the hobby who are driving the industry's growth. As long as we have more people entering this "honeymoon" period than leaving it, we will see industry revenue grow.

If, for some reason, the flow of new gamers slows, we'll see it in the bottom line. We'll see convention attendance level out and revenue flatten out. It could be for a number of reasons, like the global economy suddenly tanking. Or the hobby hitting a point where board games get so mainstream that the only people discovering it are teenagers who are getting their first disposable income. Or the number of new games per year growing so huge that discovery becomes impossible for all but the biggest game companies and brands.

I get what Gil is saying here, but I'm not sure the numbers would work out that way because it depends on the size of the gamer base that already exists. If that base is large enough, then even if those people buy only a few games annually, collectively that translates into a huge number of games sold. Heck, that's probably what already happens given that most people buy only a couple of games each year, yet mainstream companies stay in business and sell tens or hundreds of thousands of games.

And I don't think that "discovery becomes impossible for all but the biggest game companies and brands" rings true either given the number of folks who search the spaces away from the spotlight for the many, many creations that would never make it to market from the biggest game companies. Heck, almost the entirety of the hobby game industry qualifies as being not by produced by "the biggest game companies and brands"!

• Matt at Creaking Shelves attempts to answer the question "Can games be bad?" by first detailing various qualities that make a game good, then finding quantifiable measures that go against these qualities. An excerpt:

Quote:
To my mind the most important factor is the presence of Quality Decisions, which as noted above draws in a lot of other factors. How do you spot a Quality Decision? I would describe it as one where you sit and think about it, are unsure of the correct choice, and are tempted by multiple (2+) options. These decisions should matter and have some affect on the outcome of the game. Note you don’t have to be thinking about it on your turn, and the best games let you do your thinking during the time between turns.

If a game offered you zero decisions then it would be a bad game. Hell, it would be a film or a book, not a game. But how many decisions are enough? How many decisions are too much? That will depend on the player, and on what sort of game you are playing. In an hour long game, you would want more than one quality decision. That suggests the idea of a “quality decision density”: the number of quality decisions per unit time.

So a bad game would be one where the quality decision density is “too low”. That’s still a little vague, so I would say a game needs at least 1 quality decision per player turn, on average. That ensures you always have something to think about. I’ll allow some flexibility here but it’s a solid starting point. In addition to this, those decisions should vary over the course of the game (if the game is long enough for this to matter).

• On Polygon, Adam Saltsman gives a nice overview of games that have succeeded with his four- and six-year-old children, highlighting one of the key differences to keep in mind when choosing games for this type of audience:

Quote:
The three- and four-year-old players, in our experience, can play tactically but cannot play strategically. What I mean by this is, there is a difference between taking your turn correctly and planning out a series of turns to accomplish a goal. We’re finding our four year-old can engage in a surprisingly complex single turn, but just doesn’t plan over multiple turns. Which is totally fine! But it means that games where opportunistic local play can keep up with long-term strategic play have a broader age range where we can all really play together.

River Dragons, Machi Koro, and Tokaido all get nice shout-outs, and I learned of a new game myself in Latice!

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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2017 II: Codenames Duet, The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, and A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game

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Time for another round-up of upcoming games that were on display in the BoardGameGeek booth at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, starting with an overview of Codenames Duet, a cooperative version of Vlaada Chvátil's massive party game hit from 2015. Now two players — or more should you want to play in teams — work together to try to identify all their spies in the field. You think these guys would keep better notes by this point!

I played Codenames Duet once at PAX East 2017 with CGE's Joshua Githens, and the game presents an interesting challenge, especially since three of the spies are shared among the pair of you. This makes it impossible for you to guess only those words that don't show on your side of the card, yet you don't know which three are shared, so you're then considering everything on the board when given a clue — which is as it should be. (One word of advice: Just try to remember when you do identify a spy that's also part of your "half" of the team since that will help you narrow down choices in the future.)

During play, you're both staring at the board and either of you can yell out a clue and a number, but since each of you has spies unique to your side, you can't only throw or receive; you need to do both. Sometimes, though, you're happy for the other player to give a clue as the answers might eliminate something troublesome with a clue that you wanted to give — which mimics the nature of the original Codenames.

As Josh mentions in the video, CGE is still working on the timing mechanism at this stage of their development. We played with a stack of green "found spy" tiles, along with a row of individual spy tiles. When you gave a clue, you'd pick up the stack, cover any spies guessed correctly, then place the rest of the stack on the first individual tile of the row (thus increasing the size of the stack by one). If you need to place the stack back down but no individual spies remain, then you've run out of time and you lose; if you ever place the final tile in the stack and have nothing to put back down, then you win immediately (as the gamemakers presume that you're smart enough to guess any remaining spies on a 1-1 basis at worst).





• At GTS 2017, CMON Limited announced that it had brought on designer Eric M. Lang full-time as Director of Game Design as of April 1, 2017, and we spoke with him at the show about his responsibilities for the publisher and what this entails for future designs from him. Rising Sun was on the table, so we talked about that a bit as well.





• Lang then stuck around in the BGG booth to preview The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, which will be released in July 2017, presumably to avoid the money crunch that gamers will experience at Gen Con 2017. We actually recorded an overview of this game at GTS 2016, but now the design and components are final, so you can see the game as it will hit the market.





• And there was still more from CMON Limited as Lang and Jared Miller stuck around to present an overview of plans for Michael Shinall's A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game, part of which will launch on Kickstarter in Q3 2017 and much of which will unwind in monthly batches once the initial starter set hits the market in 2018.

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Game Previews from GAMA Trade Show 2017 I: Dice Forge, Pyramid Poker, Dinosaur Island, Wasteland Express Delivery Service, and Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game

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BoardGameGeek was at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show for two days in mid-March 2017, and we streamed game demos over both YouTube and Twitch for nine hours one day and eight hours the next. Since you possibly don't want to sit through more than seventeen hours of video to find the overviews that interest you, I've started posting the individual game demos on YouTube (in this GTS 2017 playlist) and on the individual game pages here on BGG.

Most of the videos highlight games due for release later in 2017, and while some don't contain much more than a teaser, as with this short clip on Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game





—many of the videos show off the finished look of a game, as with this pre-production proof of Wasteland Express Delivery Service from Pandasaurus Games—





—while others sometimes show the entire game being played, as with this nine-minute video of Pyramid Poker from R&R Games.





Some folks had mentioned that the Dice Forge overview that I shot at FIJ 2017 in Cannes was unclear or didn't give them enough information about the game, so here's another take from GAMA.





As might be expected, many games currently on Kickstarter or scheduled to be funded via Kickstarter showed up at GAMA, as with Pandasaurus' Dinosaur Island. They do have a pandasuarus promo as part of the KS campaign, right? Right?!





We tried a new microphone set-up at GAMA. Instead of having wireless mics that attached to the collars of host and guest — a mic that needed to be placed onto, then removed from each guest — we instead had wireless microphones on tripods that projected over the demo table, yet out of view of the cameras. I feel the guests sound great, while I sound like I'm speaking from inside a large vase, but maybe that's just me hearing my voice outside my head.
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Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:05 pm
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Blast Centipedes, Chase Cats, Fight Creeps, and Rebel Against Damned Dirty Apes

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While in the BGG booth at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, Bryan Merlonghi from IDW Games sprang a huge number of upcoming releases on us. You can watch a runthrough of those games around hour eight of our nine-hour broadcast from day 1 of GAMA, or you can wait until we parse that video into individual game and publisher segments, or you can check out the minimal details presented below.

The splashiest announcement from IDW Games came with perhaps the fewest details, this being a trio of games — Centipede, Asteroids, and Missile Command — based on beloved Atari video games. All three of the games are credited to the design trio of Jonathan Gilmour, Nicole Kline, and Anthony Amato, and all carry the same stats — 2-4 players aged 12+ with a 30-45 minute playing time — but beyond that we have only the claim of them being "fun, intense and fast-paced".



Game display at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show


• In addition to the trio above, Merlonghi gave an overview of Stephen Sauer's pun-filled Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail, a June 2017 release that features this relatively comprehensive description:

Quote:
Furriarty is terrorizing London, and it's up to Purrrlock Holmes to stop him before he completes his plans and escapes! However, Purrrlock cannot do it alone and you, as a newly inducted Inspector at Scotland Pound, must help bust members of Furriarty's gang in order to help Purrrlock get closer to the bewhiskered baddie that's been bullying all of Baker Street.

In more detail, each player in Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail draws a hidden suspect card. Players take turns making guesses using a "clock" mechanism about their unknown suspect’s identity. The other players (who can see every suspect but their own) will tell you whether you've got a lead on your suspect; if not, it's a dead-end. Figure out enough leads to deduce the suspect's identity, and you get to snag a clue that leads to Furriarty. Each clue is labeled with a variable number of victory points. Every round, Furriarty pads his way closer to escape, putting tension on the players to guess — quickly! — to solve the case. If you can deduce enough suspects and collect enough paw print tokens, you may be able to overtake Furriarty before he scrams.

Get ready, Inspector, as the game is officially afoot — or a-paw, if you will...

• Another title previewed was Jon Cohn's arena-battle game King of the Creepies, which was originally announced as a Keyhole Games production and which will now be a co-publication between IDW and Cohn's Keyhole Games. This title is also due out in June 2017, and it plays as follows:

Quote:
In King of the Creepies, up to six players try to build their ultimate teams by collecting creepie cards and outfitting them with gear and special abilities to fight in fast-paced battles. Players bet their hard-earned monies in the hope of buying the perfect cards to crush their enemies, but goblins are always hiding just out of sight to cause all sorts of mischief! Bet, bribe, and battle your way through the marketplace and the arena to become the King of the Creepies!

Each round of the game is played in three phases. In the market phase, players buy and sell cards to try to assemble a team of well-equipped creepies. In the match phase, players reveal their chosen combatants, then bet their monies on the outcome; after bets have been placed, a mischief card is drawn, which affects the battle in an unpredictable way. The battle phase is where the majority of the game takes place. Players battle each other using one of thirty unique creepies, using gear, items, and special abilities to help their cause. The winner earns a victory crystal, and whoever collects five crystals first wins!

The game includes a variant ruleset for "poker mode". In this version of the game, players draw an entirely new hand each round and go through a series of rounds of betting before battle, with the combat winner gaining the pot. Players then draw a whole new hand and try again until one player has all the monies!

• Other titles coming from IDW Games include Random Encounter: Seas of the Sea Chicken, a co-publication with Jamie Keddie of Joyride Games; Matt Loomis and Isaac Shalev's tile-laying game Seikatsu, of which we had filmed an overview at Origins in 2016 before the game had been announced; a cooperative Planet of the Apes game for 1-4 players from Richard Launius; and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Showdown from Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu. Merlonghi might have slipped in a few more titles as well, but I think that's enough for now.


Game display at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show
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Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:00 pm
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Flight Slack as Scott Pilgrim, Flip Ships to Defend the Earth, and Fend Off the Fox in the Forest

W. Eric Martin
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Renegade Game Studios announced a trio of new titles ahead of the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, with the most media-friendly one being Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game, a deck-building game from Gloom designer Keith Baker based on the graphic novel series from Bryan Lee O'Malley, which has also been transformed into a film, video game, and animated series. Here's an overview of the game, due out Q3 2017:

Quote:
Being a grown-up is HARD and maybe not worth it? You might rather spend time tweaking your band's set list until it's guaranteed to get you that big gig opening for legit rockstars. Perhaps you're better off dating someone a bit younger than chasing a fairytale romance with the age-appropriate girl (or boy) you met at a party. Maybe the drama constantly engulfing your pals feeds you, even if it is bringing your friends down. And don't adults just sit at desks all day worrying about how bread makes you fat? Do adults ever even get attacked by random robot ruffians determined to pick a fight? Huh. Maybe there is something to getting it together…

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game is a deck-building game that challenges you to grow up and prepare for your finest hour. Players assume the roles of their favorite characters in the Scott Pilgrim universe, each of whom comes with a unique starting deck.

Innovative double-sided cards let you decide whether to solve your problems with hard work and empathy, or whether to embrace the unpredictable world of gratuitous video game violence. Players will face hard choices about whether to fight or upgrade their life with each card placed into the plot line. Defeating the Evil Ex and collecting Power-Ups will help players inch their way towards victory.

• The most eye-catching title among the trio is Flip Ships, with groovalicious artwork by Kwanchai Moriya in full-on Ace Science Fiction Special mode. Flip Ships comes from frequent Renegade design partner Kane Klenko (Covert, FUSE, and the upcoming Flatline), and here's a hint of what you'll find in this cooperative dexterity game:

Quote:
"It was an ambush. That’s the only way to describe it. The mother ship appeared out of nowhere, creating a massive shadow over the city. Within seconds, wave after wave of fighters poured out of it, filling the sky."

"We're launching the ships we have ready, but they aren't much. Our pilots must fight bravely to defend the planet while we ready the rest of the fleet. Explosions fill the sky, and we've taken some hits, but we won't give up. Will you?"

In Flip Ships, players take on the roles of brave pilots defending their planet from an onslaught of firepower. Flip your ships to take out the encroaching enemies and to take down the powerful mother ship before it's too late.

I think we need more details to get a sense of what's really going on, but the demo box at GAMA was empty! Renegade was focusing on the newly released Castles of Caladale and Clank! Sunken Treasures at GAMA, so maybe we'll see more at Origins.

• Rounding out the trio of announcements is The Fox in the Forest from designer Joshua Buergel, with co-publication credit for frequent Renegade partner Foxtrot Games (World's Fair 1893, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival). Two-player trick-taking games aren't common, so it will be interesting to see how this game holds together:

Quote:
Aside from the normal ranked- and suited-cards used to win tricks, in The Fox in the Forest fairy characters such as the Fox and the Witch have special abilities that let you change the trump suit, lead even after you lose a trick, and more.

You score points by winning more tricks than your opponent, but don't get greedy! Win too many tricks, and you will fall like the villain in so many fairy tales...
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Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:00 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Tricking Kings and Dinosaurs to Rebuild Ad-Heavy Hives

W. Eric Martin
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I've attended five conventions in the past six weeks, and plenty of crowdfunding projects have come and gone in the interim. I'd apologize for missing all of them, but in some ways you just have to think of dipping into a stream to sample here and there because you're never going to see them all anyway — not if you want to do anything else, that is. With that in mind, here's what I've scooped up this time:

• In Solstice from Grant Rodiek and Hyperbole Games, a drafting and blind-bidding card game inspired by Frank Herbert's Dune, players vie for control of the throne, while optionally dressing up their game with wooden tokens. (KS link)

• Blind-bidding of a different sort awaits in King's Road from Reiner Knizia and Grail Games, this being a revised version of Knizia's Imperium. In each round, each player chooses three of their eleven cards in hand along with the order in which they want to play them, trying to use these cards to gain influence in the king's many provinces. (KS link)

• Another remake is Divinity Derby from Carlo A. Rossi and Ares Games, with this game featuring the "shared hand" mechanism of Rossi's Hab & Gut. Players bet on which mythological creatures will win a race, with each of them sharing information on the movement cards they hold with their left-and right-hand neighbors. (KS link)

• The revisions continue with Thunderstone Quest, the latest iteration of the Thunderstone deck-building game from Mike Elliott and Alderac Entertainment Group. (KS link)

• A remake of a different sort is Dinosaur Island from Jonathan Gilmour, Brian Lewis, and Pandasaurus Games, with this not officially being a Jurassic Park board game while still being a 1990s-inspired game in which everyone combines ancient DNA to create dinosaurs that populate their own theme park of sorts. (KS link)

Weta Workshop is normally associated with movies, not games, but the design studio had a game world that it wanted to bring to life and it partnered with Cryptozoic Entertainment to make it happen. The world of GKR: Heavy Hitters! features giant, advertising-sponsored robots battling in a post-apocalyptic world in which you're either trying to destroy the opponent or tag enough buildings to make your brand come out on top. (KS link)

• I played a few rounds of Dubai: Rebuild the Ruins from Chris Zinsli, Suzanne Zinsli, and Greater Than Games at PAX East 2017, and despite making horrible choices, I appreciated the challenge of the design. At the start of the game, players take turns placing their workers on three wheels, and on a turn whoever was at the end of the worker chain on the wheel of the current action removes that worker from the chain and places it at the nose of the chain of their choice, with each player then taking actions related to that wheel. Thus, within the confines of a familiar "collect resources and money to build stuff" design, you're challenged to get things working in the right order so that you can build better and faster. The current project is foundering, but I'm sure GTG will bring it back to market in the future. (KS link)

Ladder 29 from Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle and Green Couch Games is a firefighting-themed, (ladder) climbing/hand-shedding game in which players choose a "Hot Spot" card each round that places some kind of condition on them (e.g., runs must be of a single color) and indicates the points they'll score based on when they go out in the round. (KS link)

• Trick-taking of a more traditional sort awaits in Half-Pint Heroes from Roland Goslar, Johannes Goslar, Søren Schaffstein, and Corax Games, with players trying to predict how many tricks they'll win while betting against the predictions of others. (Spieleschmiede link)

• Shin Wong's mafia-themed, dice-placement game Lawless Empire has you trying to meet more of your hidden victory conditions after five rounds than any other player. (KS link)

• To continue with the dice-based section of this post, we have Cara Heacock and Marcus Ross' BEEEEES! from Action Phase Games, a real-time game in which you place dice on hive tiles to grab them from stacks and build a sweet hive for yourself. (KS link)

Cosmic Run: Rapid Fire is a roll-and-write game by Steve Finn of Dr. Finn's Games in which 1-2 players roll dice to move through space, take special actions, and attack one another — unless you're playing a solo game, in which case you're not likely to be firing on yourself. (KS link)

• Another trip to space is offered by MARS WARS from Grant Wylie, Mike Wylie, and Worthington Publishing, with 2-6 players representing Chinese and U.S. space forces who compete for space on Mars, with Martians also laying claim to their own land. (KS link)

• John Wrot! of Gate Keeper Games has new sets of "halfsies" dice — sets of seven dual-color dice — with pledge levels ranging from one to thirty sets. (KS link)

• Another non-game-yet-game-related thing are orc and goblin miniatures from 3dArtDigital. Minis are hot on Kickstarter, right? Not necessarily as this project is solely for the minis and it barely has a presence on KS. (KS link)

• Also in the "that's not a game" category, logical puzzle publisher ThinkFun has hit Kickstarter with its first project: Roller Coaster Challenge. This item fits the model of many of its logic puzzles, with players being presented with a challenge card, then trying to assemble the components into the one correct pattern. In this case, players construct pillars, then add track in order to finish a roller coaster, finding out whether they succeeded by rolling a car down the track to see whether it crashes or not. (KS link)

Prototype components shown at NY Toy Fair 2017


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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Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:37 pm
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