W. Eric Martin
• Games come and go for any number of reasons, but sometimes they come back, whether through deep love for an out-of-print classic or through the fortunate juxtaposition of design and marketing, the latter of which is the case for Super Mario: Level Up! Board Game. USAopoly has taken Stefano Luperto's King Me! — first published in 2004 by dV Giochi, which was called "daVinci Games" at that time — and married it with the world of Super Mario, which makes perfect sense given that players each have secret candidates that they're trying to move up the charts, and these characters level up during the game in order to score you more points. When a character reaches the top of the charts, everyone votes on whether that character can stay or not; if it does, the round ends and players score points based on where their characters stand.
Interesting to see a game more than a decade old that will be new for most people who play it, but that's pretty much the case for all hobby games that reach the mass market...
• In a mid-April 2017 post, I mentioned a forthcoming expansion for The Voyages of Marco Polo that Hans im Glück intends to debut at SPIEL 2017 in October. Folks asked in the comments about availability of the base game (and other HiG titles) in English, so I reached out to Steve Kimball, head of the Z-Man Games studio within Asmodee North America. Kimball says that a reprint of the Marco Polo base game has been ordered and it should be available no later than October 2017 when the expansion is scheduled to debut.
As for other titles, Kimball says, "Stone Age is reprinted fairly regularly, and it looks like the next print run should arrive in Q3 ." For Russian Railroads, the news is not so good, and Kimball provides back-up detail to explain the situation: "In order to obtain the volume necessary to make a reprint viable, Hans im Glück obtains interest from their publishing partners about which titles are selling well enough to warrant a reprint. Once there is sufficient demand from enough territories, HiG schedules a reprint. At the moment, there is no reprint scheduled for Russian Railroads."
This explanation matches what Sophie Gravel, former owner of Z-Man Games, told me years ago about why The Palaces of Carrara never went back to print in English. Copies were plentiful in other languages, which would mean that Z-Man Games would be paying on its own for a tiny print run (with a resulting higher per copy cost), which would mean that Z-Man would need to sell a higher percentage than usual just to make back its costs — so rather than risk seeing inventory pile up in the warehouse, you express regrets to potential buyers and move on to the next thing. Witch's Brew suffered the same fate, with English-language copies selling for a mint and people begging Rio Grande Games to publish more while German-language copies were hitting clearance bins. Game publishers tend to be conservative, and the ever-increasing number of titles hitting the market will only make them more so, given that the spotlight window for new titles seems increasingly flighty.
• Speaking of flighty, I tweeted cover pics of these games at NY Toy Fair, but never covered them here in more detail. As it did in 2016, Cryptozoic Entertainment plans to release two licensed Rick & Morty games in 2017, with each game being inspired by a particular episode in the series. Matt Hyra's Rick and Morty: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game uses the Cerebus deck-building engine seen in other Cryptozoic titles, but the hook for the game is that each player is a different version of Rick, and you'll face off against one another as in the episode. In more detail:
Each player's deck starts with the following cards: seven Genius Waves cards that give you Power, one Beth, one Jerry, and one Summer. The Beth, Jerry, and Summer cards do nothing, but can activate other cards. The "Kick" stack in other Cerberus games is now the Portal Gun stack. The Portal Gun activates the Portal deck, which transports a player's hero to a random location from the episode or other popular places from the series. That player may then utilize that location during their turn and has the option of paying the cost of the location to put it into their deck.
The other title, due out July 12, 2017, is Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park, a tile-laying game with the following description:
Based on the hilarious "Anatomy Park" episode, each player in Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park attempts to construct the world's greatest theme park inside of a homeless guy named Reuben. Players build while battling both monstrous diseases and fellow park-builders with creative differences concerning how the park should be laid out. The object of the game is to score points by placing your park tiles into the best spots within the body. Move your character pawn around the park to scout out the best locations and stay away from (or shoot) the monster diseases that will pop up and cause chaos. Whoever has the most victory points wins and is the master builder of Anatomy Park!
BGG shot an overview of this game at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show if you want to get a taste for it in action: