W. Eric Martin
• At a recent gaming event, I ran into Christian Lemay of Le Scorpion Masqué, and while I suppose we could have, you know, actually played games, instead we talked about art, French literature, and one forthcoming game release: Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance's Decrypto, which Lemay anticipates releasing in early 2018 (although there's an outside shot of the game seeing publication in late 2017). Note that the cover artwork shown isn't final.
On later days at this event, I did see others playing Decrypto over and over again, with some saying it was their favorite game of the show. Here's what I missed out on and what we all can now anticipate:
Players compete in two teams in Decrypto, with each trying to correctly interpret the coded messages presented to them by their teammates while cracking the codes they intercept from the opposing team.
In more detail, each team has their own screen, and in this screen they tuck four cards in pockets numbered 1-4, letting everyone on the same team see the words on these cards while hiding them from the opposing team. In the first round, each team does the following: One team member takes a code card that shows three of the digits 1-4 in some order, e.g. 4-2-1. They then give a coded message that their teammates must use to guess this code. For example, if the team's four words are "pig", "candy", "tent", and "son", then I might say "child-mouth-tail" and hope that my teammates can correctly map those words to 4-2-1. If they guess correctly, great; if not, we receive a black mark of failure.
Starting in the second round, a member of each team must again give a clue about their words to match a numbered code. If I get 2-4-3, I might now say, "sucker-finger-grass". The other team then attempts to guess our numbered code — not the hidden words themselves, only the numbers! If they're correct, they receive a white mark of success; if not, then my team must guess the number correctly or take a black mark of failure. (Guessing correctly does nothing except avoid failure while giving the opposing team information about what our hidden words might be.)
The rounds continue until a team collects either its second white mark (winning the game) or its second black mark (losing the game). Games typically last between 4-7 rounds.
• U.S. game publisher and manufacturer of other things Mattel will be at Gen Con 2017 in August. Yes, Mattel! "As you know, the hobby market has really begun to grow recently", game designer Nick Hayes, who develops titles for Mattel, told me. "It's an exciting time for the gaming community, and we'd like to be a part of that." Mattel will debut Hayes' Wizards Wanted at Gen Con, while also featuring Marc André's Sail Away (which debuted in German at SPIEL 2016) and Brian Yu's Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters, with a new mini-expansion for GFTH being available at the show. Yu also designed this mini-expansion, which consists of four new gameplay variants that can be added to the base game.
• On May 25, 2017, Fully Baked Ideas — the adults-only imprint of Looney Labs — will release Stoner Loonacy, a marijuana-themed version of Andy Looney's real-time card game Loonacy. In the game, everyone has a hand of cards with two images on them. One or more face-up discard piles are started based on the number of players, then everyone free fires cards from their hand onto a discard pile as long as one of the images on their played card matches one of the images on the card on top of the discard pile. The first player out of cards wins.
Obviously the particular images in Loonacy don't affect the gameplay, so you could make a version of the game with anything you like on the cards. On its website, Looney Labs has a page for what it calls "Game Store Loonacy", with game stores being able to order custom copies of Loonacy that feature the game store logo as one of the 22 images in the game, with the other images being somewhat generic game bits. These games could be used as giveaways during an event or a freebie if someone spends $X in the store. I'm confident that if you approached Looney Labs with 22 custom images, you could probably get them to manufacture an entirely custom version for you. Create your own wedding favors!
• Late news here, but in February 2017 Pegasus Spiele announced that it would release select titles from Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi in German in addition to now handling all distribution of Lautapelit.fi titles in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Rustan Håkansson's Nations: The Dice Game will be the first such release — as Nations: Das Würfelspiel naturally — in June 2017, with German-language versions of Eclipse and Nations due out before the end of 2017.
• In vaguely game-related news, in August 2017 Oni Press will debut the first issue of Dead of Winter, a comic book based on the Plaid Hat Games title, with the comic featuring the exploits of Sparky the Stunt Dog. From the press release:
In the pantheon of heroes, none are more lovable and loyal than everyone's beloved good ol' dog, Sparky. Surviving in the wintery apocalypse of the undead, this former TV star turned zombie killing machine just wants to make friends and be a good boy. As his fellow survivors scavenge for supplies in the frigid wasteland, will Sparky be able to protect his companions from threats both undead and not yet undead?