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W. Eric Martin
• U.S. publisher Mayfair Games has announced a new title for its FunFair line of family games, a tile-matching game from H. Jean Vanaise titled Zen Garden that bears a $15 price tag and a February 21, 2013 release date. Here's an overview of the game:
Create a beautiful zen garden with friends or family. Craft a unique landscape using tiles representing meadows, mountains, forests, and water. Illuminate it all with magical lanterns that let you transform tiles and perfect patterns. Win by being first to create your secret pattern twice!
Zen Garden is an artful struggle and two games in one. The basic game is a fast and simple tile-matching game in which you attempt to form patterns on the board before your fellow players can do the same. The first player to form her signature pattern on the board twice without wilds and with her special symbol scores maximum points.
Players seeking more of a challenge can compete in "Rock Garden", in which players receive twelve "rock" cubes and play them on sets of tiles matching their pattern tiles. Place all of your rocks first to win.
• Portal Publishing has announced forthcoming Russian and Chinese editions of Ignacy Trzewiczek's Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island from, respectively, Hobby World and MYBG Co., Ltd. with these editions being released in 2013.
• Atlas Games has released a third edition of Once Upon a Time, a storytelling game by Richard Lambert, Andrew Rilstone and James Wallis in which players plays Story cards to try to bend a communally-created story in a particular direction in order to play their Ending card. This new edition features artwork by Omar Rayyan and includes cards from the previous Dark Tales expansion. Atlas Games' John Nephew has noted on BGG that in addition to releasing a new edition of Once Upon a Time: Create-Your-Own Storytelling Cards with matching border artwork, Atlas plans to release two new expansions for OUaT in 2013: Enchanting Tales and Seafaring Tales.
• New North American publisher Mercury Games, which in late November 2012 announced Quarantine as its first release, has teased a wargame-related announcement the week of December 10, 2012.
• In the rumor mill department, designer Bernd Eisenstein has posted about a trick-taking game titled Ebbes from Klaus Geis in which the trump and point cards are resolved only during play and in which the gameplay is somewhat chaotic. Eisenstein doesn't seem won over by the game, but he notes that Geis seems on the path to self-publication of the game in 2013. Images of the prototype and a short description are included in this overview of a November 2012 event in Mannheim, Germany. I love strange (and not-so-strange) trick-taking games, so I'm curious to hear more...
• Italian publisher What's Your Game? has posted a teaser card image on Facebook from a card game that as yet has no final name, according to WYG's Mariano Iannelli. I can't hazard a guess at a name, but the game had best include spiritually-aware pandas doing kung fu!