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New Releases from F2Z Entertainment: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu from Z-Man, Dead of Winter: The Long Night from Plaid Hat, Junk Art from Pretzel & More

W. Eric Martin
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• The biggest news for hobby gamers from Spielwarenmesse 2016 is the soft announcement of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu from designer Chuck D. Yager and publisher Z-Man Games.

Sophie Gravel of F2Z Entertainment, owner of Z-Man Games, told me that Yager based the design on the gameplay at the heart of Pandemic, with Pandemic designer Matt Leacock then working with Yager to provide development and polishing. In short, players are investigators who want to seal four portals before creatures of unspeakable horror are unleashed or the investigators themselves go insane.

I describe this as a "soft announcement" because this is all the information available for now, with Z-Man Games planning to officially announce the game on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2016.




• As noted in late January 2016, designer Rob Daviau has delivered SeaFall to publisher Plaid Hat Games. A new look for the box was on display at Spielwarenmesse, but the box itself was empty and even the back cover was blank, revealing nothing that isn't already known. (I previewed SeaFall in Nov. 2014 after playing one game on the prototype and interviewed Daviau about the design.)

Gravel from F2Z Entertainment did state that SeaFall will debut at Gen Con 2016, so you can start marking off the calendar if you wish.




• Before PHG gets to SeaFall, though, it will first release Dead of Winter: The Long Night at Origins Game Fair 2016. This title is a standalone expansion to Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game from designers Jonathan Gilmour and Isaac Vega. Again, this title hasn't been officially announced, so that's all the info I have for now.

The cover shown below is a non-final mock-up that probably won't be used, according to Gravel, since at first glance it appears to be a black-and-white version of the DoW cover and therefore doesn't stand enough on its own.




• The F2Z Entertainment label Pretzel Games debuted in 2015 with the beefy (as in massively heavy) Flick 'Em Up!, with that title having a soft launch at Origins 2015 and officially debuting at Gen Con 2015.

In March 2016, Z-Man Games will release a version of Flick 'em Up! with plastic components — with the figures and houses being the same size as in the original game. This version is aimed more at the broad market thanks to its $35 price tag compared to the $70 MSRP on the original, but note that the original version will still be available for those who want to knock wood.

As for the feel of the plastic versus the wood, I can't report on that as we had a lot to cover in our one-hour meeting. Co-designer Gaëtan Beaujannot took one shot, blowing away an innocent cactus, but then he had to split so that I could start said meeting.




• As for what's new from Pretzel Games, that would be Junk Art from Sen-Foong Lim and Jay Cormier, with this title scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2016 in a separate Pretzel Games booth. Gravel says that as with Flick 'em Up! in 2015, Pretzel will feature a giant-sized version of Junk Art at Gen Con 2016. As for what the game is about, here's an overview:

Quote:
In Junk Art, players are presented with junk from which they must create art. Thus the name.

Junk Art contains multiple ways to play. In one version of the game, players pile all of the wooden parts in the center of the table, then are dealt a number of cards, with each card depicting one of these parts. On a turn, a player presents their left-hand neighbor with two cards from their hand. This neighbor takes one card in hand, then takes the part shown on the other card and places it on their base or on other parts that they've already placed. If something falls, it stays on the table and the player continues to build on whatever still stands. Once players have finished playing cards, whoever has the tallest work of art wins.
Gravel says that her original intention for Pretzel Games was to release high quality, all-wood games — one title per year — that would bear whatever MSRP was appropriate given the costs of the material. She says she's been somewhat surprised by the success of Flick 'em Up!, but perhaps some of its success is due to precisely what others might view as a drawback — its craft-like appearance that looks nothing like a standard game.




• Speaking of being crafty, the reception that Flick 'em Up! received inspired Gravel and the Z-Man team to go even further with Matt Leacock's Knit Wit, the packaging and components of which were on display at Spielwarenmesse 2016. Having the Leacock name on the box no doubt makes it easier to experiment with the graphic design and presentation...




• Another graphic design experiment will be seen in Caravan, an Emerson Matsuuchi design due out at Spiel 2016 that will be presented with two completely independent looks. The Spice Road edition and Crystal Golem edition will feature the same gameplay — that is, they're the same game — while having different covers, component artwork, and settings. As for details of the gameplay, I've got nothing as the official announcement will come later.

Having two different covers on Pandemic Legacy was Gravel's idea as she wanted to allow players to be able to run independent games with different groups and better track which game was which. For Caravan, she wanted to go even further, with one game receiving a Eurogame gloss while the other has a somewhat anime-inspired fantasy setting.

Caravan was originally intended to be a release from Plaid Hat Games, but both the PHG crew and Gravel agreed that it fit better as part of the Z-Man line so that's how the game will be released.


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