W. Eric Martin
• In a departure from its normal fare, the next standalone game from Stone Blade Entertainment and CEO/designer Justin Gary is a 2-5 player card game called Bad Beets. Here's a rundown of the gameplay:
Bad Beets is a fast-paced bluffing card game in which players must eat their vegetables — well, get rid of their vegetables through any means that they can.
Each player starts the game with eight beet cards that they must finish before they can leave the dinner table. On a turn, a player takes one of the two cards in hand, places it facedown on the table, then takes an action — from feeding the dog, sharing with another player, tattling on someone, or actually eating a beet — and the other players decide whether to allow the action or call the player on it. If the player is called out, they take the action only if they have the proper card in hand and the tattletale gets punished with an extra beet.
A "bad beat" is when your seemingly strong hand of cards gets taken out unexpectedly; this term is used in both poker and Magic: The Gathering, and it's cute to see former professional M:TG player Gary adopt the term for his design.
I tried the Bad Beets prototype with Gary at NY Toy Fair, and while I think two players is not the ideal count for this game, I still got a good taste of the gameplay, with you passing a card — i.e., information — to the next player in line each turn, then taking some action that either matches your card in hand or what you think you can get away with, as in Coup. The game includes defense cards that backfire an attack, and you can follow an action of another player in certain circumstances. After playing, Gary said that he'd been entranced by Love Letter and the amazing things that seem possible with small card designs, so he stepped away from Ascension embiggening duties for a while and tried his hand at something different.
• Z-Man Games has announced a Q2 2015 release date for The Voyages of Marco Polo from Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini (which is due out in Germany at the end of March 2015) and a Q3 2015 release date for the renamed Stone Age: The Expansion (previously known in English as Stone Age: Style is the Goal).
• Darkness Comes Rattling is from Kevin Wilson and Wyrd Miniatures, and all that I know of it is that the game is due out Q3 2015 and it bears this short description:
Darkness Comes Rattling is a co-operative board game for 2-6 players that follows the story of the Tribes of Man in their quest to save the world from corruption and Darkness. Each player guides a mighty warrior and traverses a world of shadows, spirits and other dangers as they combat the coming night. Will you make the ultimate sacrifice? Will you become a mighty warrior, able to fight off corruption? Do you have what it takes to face the Darkness?
• In episode 6 of his Gaming Rules! podcast, Paul Grogan reveals (starting at 15:10) the new character for the next Mage Knight expansion — a storm druid — and three of his skills.
• Funforge has been teasing its next game on Facebook: Titan Race from Julian Allain, with each player in control of a titan on a toroidal racing track that allows you to shoot at other players while being fairly easily shot at in return. After all, a quick stroll around the torus puts you behind an attacker. To move, you roll dice, then choose the movement showing on one of the dice; if that die matches the color of your jockey, then you get to use your special power. Effect cards allow for protection abilities and other trickery. I've included one of the promo pics below, and TricTrac has run a game overview that includes work-in-progress shots of the miniatures.