W. Eric Martin
• While many game publishers were showing off their upcoming titles at GAMA Trade Show, U.S. publisher Asmadi Games held a "not at GAMA" YouTube press conference to show off its upcoming titles, with the biggest splash coming from Carl Chudyk's Mottainai, a spiritual successor to his Glory to Rome. Here's a quick description to start:
"Mottainai" means "Don't waste", or "Every little thing has a soul". In the game Mottainai, you use your cards for many purposes. Each player is a monk in a temple who performs tasks, collects materials, and sells or completes works for visitors. Every card can be each of these three things.
You choose tasks to allow you to perform actions, keeping in mind that other players will get to follow up on your task on their next turn. Clever planning and combining of your works' special abilities is key, as is managing which materials you sell.
Mottainai is a deep, but quick, game experience.
Mottainai is for 2-3 players, but you can combine two decks to play with 4-5 players, should you feel compelled to punish yourself in that manner. The card design is not finished, but here's a sample of what they look like now, and Asmadi plans to release a print-and-play version on Monday, March 23, 2015 to aid the final testing, get feedback on the design, etc.
If you know anything about Glory to Rome, then you'll see connections to it in the cards above, although they have "only" type of material, type of assistant, type of finished work, and special power. Mottainai also has a touch of Chudyk's Impulse to it in that when you play a card as a task, that card stays on your player aid until your next turn and on each opponent's turn, that player has the option of using each task played by others before using the task they play. (You can get more details of the gameplay by watching the press conference video starting at 15:00.) I'm a huge Chudyk fan — Innovation for life! — so I'm looking forward to this one.
• Speaking of Innovation, Asmadi plans to release not one, but two expansions for this game in 2015, with Cities and Artifacts (names not final) being available either separately for those who already own the base game or as part of an Innovation Deluxe package that uses revised graphics on the base set and all four expansions. Other titles coming from Asmadi include:
—Two Impulse expansions that will be released together.
—Adorable Pandaring, a quick-playing card game currently on Kickstarter
—Card-like Dungeon, a 1-2 player roguelike dungeon exploring card game.
—Consequential, a co-operative board game with a storytelling app (which also serves as a timer for the real-time section of each act) that's been in the works by Chudyk and Asmadi's Chris Cieslik for years; Asmadi plans to bring Consequential to Kickstarter in mid-2015.
—1001 Space Odysseys, which Cieslik describes as "a digital/board game hybrid that follows up on games like Arabian Nights with lots of fantastic crazy small stories that form an adventure. Each game is self contained, and the stories come from the app instead of a book."
—Jinro: The Next Windmaster, a free iOS app that covers the adventures of a triangle.
Okay, I think that I can stop fanboying now...
• In mid-March 2015, I posted about the return of Mexica from French publisher Super Meeple (and in France at least, the return of Java and Tikal). Super Meeple's publishing plan is to return out-of-print titles to print, and in an interview with Super Meeple at Cannes 2015, Reiner Knizia's Amun-Re is mentioned as another forthcoming release, while El Grande and Full Metal Planète were mentioned as titles that Super Meeple couldn't get the rights to. Very ambitious! (Thanks to Eric Faby for correcting my shoddy understanding of French.)
• On its retail site, Repos Production now offers published versions of two Ghost Stories: White Moon scenarios — Green Roots and The Cursed Children — that I believe were available previously only as downloads.
• The co-operative game Les Poilus from designers Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez and French publisher Sweet November has been picked up by Cool Mini Or Not and co-publisher Sweet Games for release in English under the name The Grizzled. In the game, players try to survive in the trenches during the first World War. Artist Tignous was among those killed in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015.
• On its Facebook page Flying Frog Productions revealed four(!) upcoming expansions that were on display at GAMA Trade Show for its Shadows of Brimstone line: Caverns of Cynder and three enemy sets (Masters of the Void, Guardian of the Targa Plateau and Serpentmen of Jargond).
• In other teases, Spielworxx has shown off the game board for Wolfgang Heidenheim and Andreas Molter's Haithabu, a Viking trading game set in the early Middle Ages and due out in mid-2015:
• Designer Aaron Weissblum has had many games published since 1999 — San Marco, the 10 Days series, Smarty Party, the 2014 release Spellcaster, and more — but I'll think of him first and foremost as the designer of Spinball, a crazy dexterity game that has you trying to put enough English onto a ping pong ball that you can land it in a hole behind a barrier on the opponent's side of the game board. When you score, though, the opponent sets up a barrier around his goal, making it harder for you to score and forcing you to learn how to make lots of different shots. If you can manage to shoot a ball past the long-distance line, then return to score, it counts for two points. The first player to five points wins.
I first played Spinball in 2004 and fell in love with it, but I heard from others that Weissblum had stopped making them. Apparently each Spinball board was created by hand, required many coats of paint, and was hugely expensive, so I could understand this decision while also lamenting it.
Turns out though that Weissblum has created another two dozen or so Spinball sets recently, and while some have already sold last I heard he has around a dozen available for the price of $350, with shipping included to the lower 48 states in the U.S. If you're interested, write to him for details (weissblum AT gmail DOT com).
I feel like I should record a video to show off the gameplay better, but it might just come across as teasing...