W. Eric Martin
In July 2016, the Asmodee Group announced that it was discussing an acquisition of F2Z Entertainment, which at the time owned the publishing brands Z-Man Games, Filosofia Éditions, Pretzel Games, and Plaid Hat Games.
At SPIEL 2016, I heard from an informed source that an announcement of the completed deal would come in late October 2016, but instead business partners of F2Z Entertainment simply received letters noting that the company name was now Asmodée Canada, with nothing stated publicly about the acquisition.
Some details of that deal are now coming to light with the public debut of Plan B Games, led by CEO Sophie Gravel, who was formerly President of F2Z Entertainment. Pretzel Games was not sold with the remainder of the F2Z studios and is now a studio within Plan B Games, as confirmed by Lyne Bouthillette, also formerly of F2Z Entertainment and now Lead Communications officer with Plan B, so expect to see Flick 'em Up!: Dead of Winter from Pretzel Games as originally announced at Gen Con 2016.
The first title to debut from Plan B Games is Emerson Matsuuchi's Century: Spice Road, which bears this summary of gameplay:
Century: Spice Road is the first in a series of games that explores the history of each century with spice-trading as the theme for the first installment. In Century: Spice Road, players are caravan leaders who travel the famed silk road to deliver spices to the far reaches of the continent for fame and glory. Each turn, players perform one of four actions:
• Establish a trade route (by taking a market card)
• Make a trade or harvest spices (by playing a card from hand)
• Fulfill a demand (by meeting a victory point card's requirements and claiming it)
• Rest (by taking back into your hand all of the cards you've played)
The last round is triggered once a player has claimed their fifth victory point card, then whoever has the most victory points wins.
If that description rings a bell, you might be thinking of Caravan, which Z-Man Games announced in early 2016 as an Emerson Matsuuchi design that would be released in two boxes with two settings, with the gameplay itself being identical in both cases. Bouthillette tells me that the concept of what Caravan used to be has changed a lot. "It's now a trilogy that we'll release one game per year. The games will all be related to one another theme-wise, and they can all be mixed together, but they're also playable as standalone games."
Plan B Games will debut Century: Spice Road at the 2017 Origins Game Fair on June 14, and the game carries a $40 MSRP with rules in English and French. Editions of the game will also be available from publishing partners in German, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch. Plan B Games, which will be distributed exclusively by GTS Distribution in the U.S., says that it will announce additional titles in its catalog in the "next few weeks", with Matt Leacock being one designer on its roster.