Author's Note: Sorry about the delay; I brought home some "con crud" that knocked me out for about two weeks after the con. Of course by then I was also way behind in my other jobs. Some people probably don't realize that my BGG.CON coverage takes a ton of work (a labor of love! but with some hate thrown in when I'm tired). Just editing and loading the images that go into the two parts takes me about five full days!
I'm usually behind the camera! Jeff Ridpath (L) and me (R). Debbie Ohi took the photo; Jeff is her husband
BGG.CON was held November 15-19, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport in Texas. This will be the location for 2018 as well, with the same number of attendees expected, but in 2019, BGG.CON will be moving to the Hyatt Regency Dallas where everything will be about 50% bigger, including the exhibit hall (which will be in one room rather than two), ballroom space, and number of hotel rooms. The hotel will handle about 5,000 attendees but BGG.CON will not max out in the first year due to extra growth issues/logistics. The new location will be closer to Love Field airport — good news for those who fly Southwest (plus a few other airlines). We've actually been flying into Love Field the last couple years since we discovered it was a lot less expensive for a direct flight, including Lyft to and from the hotel. Plus, the airport is smaller — easier and faster to get in and out.
Fun Fact: This year's theme was vikings. Some people really got into it.
Nick Medinger, COO of Funagain Games
There were about 3,000 attendees in 2017 (same as the previous year). The first attendees in line for registration had about a 45-minute wait; at approximately 10:15 a.m. the wait was down to around 25 minutes. The only change this year was the addition of a separate line for premium badge holders.
For the first time BGG.CON offered premium badges. 150 premium badges were sold via a Dutch auction style system that was announced in January and held February 7, 2017. Badges started at $1,000. Each subsequent evening, the price was dropped by $50 for remaining badges. This continued until all 150 badges were sold. The floor price of $300 would have been hit on February 21, but all badges were sold by February 20, bottoming out at $350. Regular badges went on sale March 1. This was a way to get an early badge plus some other cool stuff. Once inside the event, there was no difference between premium badges and regular ones. Premium badges came with the following benefits:
• One badge to BGG.CON • Option to purchase a “Companion Badge” • Guaranteed room reservation at the convention hotel (you still paid for the room) • Premium registration check-in • One library game reserved and pre-checked-out in your name • One complimentary convention T-shirt • Priority when purchasing Premium Badges in future years
Premium badge holders also received a complementary copy of an upcoming summer release from Czech Games Edition. The price breakdown was as follows.
5 sold at $1,000 2 sold at $950 0 sold from $900 to $700 1 sold at $650 1 sold at $600 17 sold at $550 (leaving 124) 12 sold at $500 (leaving 112) 10 sold at $450 (leaving 102) 28 sold at $400 (leaving 74) 74 sold at $350 Sold out*
There were 129 companion badges purchased at $150.
*I added up the numbers and they were off by 1, i.e., 75 at $350… not sure where it was from so I just deducted one off the last.
One of the nice things about the board gaming industry is that many of the publishers and designers are friends. Sean Brown (L), Mr. B Games, with Coleman Charlton (M) and Morgan Dontanville (R), Catan Studio, playing a Catan Studio game in Mr. B Games' booth. See the exhibitor section for info on this new "Game of Thrones."
Every attendee received three door prizes, one in each category:
Fun Fact: BGG.CON had some unexpected but significant media coverage this year. Jeff Anderson was up at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to do a live interview with the local NBC station. Be sure to watch it! Jeff also did a live radio interview that afternoon with their local AM News Radio station KRLD, which you can listen to below:
A special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing much of the information above, as well as details about tournament results, puzzle hunt, etc. I'd also like to give a big shout out to Team Geek 2017. These are the people who make the event run so smoothly. And don't they look sexy in those jerseys? Especially the two in front, woo hoo! (Hahaha)
Team Geek 2017
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 18, 2017).
This year, many of the tables on the Hot Games side of the room had Game Toppers. From their website: "Turn your own kitchen or dining room table into a premium, portable game solution with all the features of a high end gaming table at a fraction of the cost."
We went to the Babe's in Arlington this time. It was much less busy than the other location I've been to (original? they all look quite a lot alike and I never drive). The fried chicken tenders are my favorite — very light and crispy, although the regular fried chicken is pretty awesome, too. It is a family style restaurant. The fixins are also very tasty. They include buttermilk biscuits (especially good with honey), a simple but delicious salad of iceberg lettuce and dressing, green beans (strange wide flat type but yummy — I think they are Italian green beans), sweet corn, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy. I'm sure there are hardly any calories in the meal. Besides you'll wear them off with all the board gaming anyway. After dinner I was too stuffed to eat dessert, but I highly recommend the banana pudding, which I had last year and really enjoyed.
Dan DiLorenzo (L), R&R Games, and Rick Schrand (R), Vile Genius Games/Flying Lemur Games. You must admit, these two look like trouble...
Fun Fact: Dan and Frank DiLorenzo are not exactly shy or quiet, and usually take any opportunity to embarrass either each other or anyone within range. On this trip to Babe's they had a brand new victim: Alex Flagg, Crafty Games, and I must say it was pretty entertaining — for the rest of us anyway. I innocently invited him and Kevin Wilson, game designer, to join us for dinner. Mind you, this is Alex's first acquaintance with the DiLorenzo brothers. Near the end of the meal the waitress had Alex stand up, don a chicken hat and beak, and flap his "wings". Alex: "Dan just very sneakily told them [the wait staff] it was my birthday. It was not, and he wouldn't have known since we had known each other for maybe a half hour. The other detail I recall is that he told the waitress I was 34, and she thought I was 28 (I'm 40). Either way I was very flattered and proud to wear the manky chicken hat and paper-cone beak."
Alex Flagg, Crafty Games, who is one really good sport!
I discovered Shake Shack during a recent trip to Washington DC and fell in love. They have delicious burgers, fries, and concretes (frozen custard!). Each location has a few exclusive specialty items available only at that particular location, usually burgers, shakes, and concretes. I was so delighted when I found out that they have one in Dallas. I split two different burgers with Frank DiLorenzo: the Link burger (a specialty cheeseburger topped with griddled Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheese sausage link, pickles, and ShackSauce) and my current favorite: the SmokeShack burger (cheeseburger with all-natural smoked Niman Ranch bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce). The Link burger was not bad, but the SmokeShack was excellent.
We also split some crinkle cut bacon cheese fries (yum!). For dessert I had their exclusive concrete made as a sundae (i.e., I asked for the toppings on the side, not mixed in). It had vanilla frozen custard, salted caramel, toffee, and pecans. I also had a bite of another of their exclusive concretes, made with chocolate frozen custard, toffee, chocolate sprinkles, and one or two other chocolate items — very decadent. I tried to link the location specific menu but couldn't find it. For some reason they are constantly changing their website. (It's not the easiest to navigate either.)
After our Shake Shack stop, we went to Daiso, a Japanese "dollar store" where most things are $1.50, although some items are $2 to $5. Most of the stores are on the west coast, in California and Washington. I was so excited to discover a couple of locations in the Dallas area. They have awesome but cheap office/art supplies like super cute sticky notes, pens with a light on the tip, paint brushes (5 for $1.50! not the best quality but great for stuff like masking fluid, which tends to ruin brushes), calligraphy inks/brushes, binder pouches, watercolor paints, paint pens, and much more.
Art/Office Supplies from Daiso
For the rest of my meals, I went to the hotel restaurant, Jacob's Spring Grille, or Jett's Coffee Bar, both of which are off the lobby. Jacob's Spring Grille offers a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, plus a set menu for BGG.CON. The food is discounted for the convention ($14.95 – up from last year's $12.95). It was hit or miss — some items were pretty good, others not so much. Unfortunately, the last couple years they have scaled back the buffet (not sure if this is a chain-wide thing or not). They used to be better, e.g., more offerings, better service, and you could easily do special orders, such as any style egg you wanted for breakfast.
Attendees could try out prototypes at Proto Alley, sponsored by Unpub who ran this event at BGG.CON for their fourth year. The event was held over three days (Thursday – Saturday) from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. There were special guests, special games, and a few surprises (does anyone knows what the surprises were? I didn’t go to this event).
Hosts Erik Dewey and Bill Corey, along with Stephen Buonocore and Paul Grogan, provided answers to questions that both listeners and podcasters had about broadcasting in the board gaming hobby. This year they had a panel guiding things, but strongly encouraged questions or comments from the audience. After the panel, Donald Dennis (On Board Games podcast) lead a discussion with publishers about how to make the most of their podcast appearance, how to best record tracks, and what makes an interesting guest.
The Spiel-a-thon is a fund raiser for The Spiel Foundation, a non-profit organization that donates bundles of quality board and card games to children's hospitals and senior centers. The money raised at the event helps bring fun to kids and seniors across the country.
Spiel-a-thon — lots of gaming going on!
This year's Spiel-a-thon was different from previous years. It was a three-hour event where ten or so game stations (with teachers) were set up in the one of the ballrooms. Each game was fun and quick to learn. Here is a list of this year's games:
To participate in the Spiel-a-thon, players received a punch card from the cashier table. No registration or sign up was needed. For each game played, players received a stamp on their punch card. When finished, they paid $3 per stamp on their card. Players could play for as long as they wanted during the event; the longer they played, the more chances they had to win free games in the regular raffles during the event.
If a player scored enough stamps, they could compete in the final round for a chance to win a stack of games. The ultimate winner of this year's Spiel-a-thon at BGG Con was Noel Strickling.
The big winner, Noel Strickling, is one happy guy!
The Virtual Flea Market allows people to pre-sell games before the convention so that they know which games to bring, i.e., they don't have to speculate on which games will be sold. This is especially convenient for people flying to the convention. Participants could sell their games via Fixed Price, Auction, Dutch Auction, etc. — they just needed to list them on BGG according to the instructions. Games could be delivered at the convention one evening, during an hour-and-a-half time slot, in one of the ballrooms. There was a map posted with tables organized by the sellers' BGG user names. Sterling Babcock helped organize the room, which included letters on the tables so usernames could be more easily found. Alternatively, games could be picked up by arrangement between seller and buyer.
For those picking up games at the ballroom, one recommendation for buyers was to bring one envelope for each seller they were buying from. Each envelope would be marked on the outside with the seller's user name plus the items being purchased, with the inside containing exact change.
There was a request list available online before the convention, just to encourage sellers. There was also an option to ship games to the hotel (with extra costs involved, of course). Sales went through BGG Marketplace. Anyone participating in the Math Trade (see information below) were asked to list those games after its completion so as to not list a game in the VFM that would be traded away. This is only good etiquette.
Fun Fact: There were 226 participants with 3,079 games listed this year in the Virtual Flea Market. According to Sterling Babcock about 2270 games were sold. (It's difficult to get an exact count for various reasons.)
This was the 10th year of the BGG.CON math trade (or possibly the 11th — there seems to be some confusion here). There is a bit of a process to a math trade, which might be daunting to new people, but there are a lot of resources available, as well as people to help answer questions. In addition to the actual list of offers (i.e., games to be traded, and a virtual store front!), there was a request list for games people were interested in (basically a wish list!). If you would like to participate next year, look for the math trade announcement on BGG near the beginning of October. The deadline for game offers is usually the end of October. Want lists are then due the first week of November, with the results following on its heels. Trades are completed one evening at BGG.CON, in a specific ballroom.
Math trades pose no risk since traders get to decide their preferred games in the trade – at worst they will keep the game they started with. This year there were 61 users with at least one trade, 1,079 games listed for trade, and 225 games traded (leaving 854 untraded). The results included an alphabetized list of untraded games. There were a lot of duplicates — which might explain why a number didn't trade. For example, there were five copies of the Pathfinder game that was one of BGG.CON 2016's door prizes; it's not surprising that none were traded. You can check out the full list of results, you just have to enter your BGG username to log in (they will send you a link). Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Two Rooms and a Boom is a social deduction game/hidden role party game. It was held most nights of the convention around 10:00 p.m. in the foyer area around the Lower Level elevators. The publisher, Tuesday Knight Games, joined the fun by bringing along expansions plus other games for people to try.
Tichu is defined as the most awesome partnership climbing card game in existence (although there's a possibility I’m prejudiced). This year's tournament had 24 teams (48 participants). The winner was Team Crumblezzz (Melissa Johnson & Shari Stidam). They each won a badge and a guaranteed hotel room reservation for BGG.CON 2018. The runners-up were The Blanks ([firstname.lastname@example.org]Aaron Fuegi[/user] & Richard Irving) who each won a badge for BGG.CON 2018. The event was hosted by Jeff Anderson.
This year's winner was Jonner Purinton, who had his choice between two badges and a guaranteed hotel room reservation for BGG.CON 2018 or a custom set of BGG poker chips. He took the poker chips. The runner up, Pseudo Pserious, got the two badges and hotel room reservation.
Mayday Games ran a Crokinole tournament, but I haven't received their information about it yet, so hopefully in part 2!
Queen Games hosted a tournament for one of their new games, Pioneers, at their booth. The winner received a copy of the game.
In Pioneers, players attempt to populate cities shown on the game board with their pioneers. Each pioneer has a specific profession, and can be settled only in a city where their work is needed. After all pioneers riding in a coach have been deployed on the game board, the player controlling the coach earns money and victory points. Players also construct roads between cities, expanding their own network and earning money from other players who use the roads. At the end of the game, each player is rewarded with additional victory points based on the number of their pioneers in their largest network of connected roads. Pioneers usually plays in around 45 minutes.
Fun Fact: Debbie Ohi, a superstar children's book illustrator and author, loves to take photos. She took many of the Spiel-a-thon images (plus a few others) in this article. She's also an all-around great person.
There are certain areas or rooms in the hotel/convention area that were dedicated for specific games. I really like that spaces are set aside for things like these: quiet games, wargamers HQ, scheduled games, social games (Werewolf, The Resistance, Two Rooms and a Boom, etc.), Artemis (see below for more information), and a card-playing lounge.
Artemis returned once again. Players could sign up for half-hour sessions as captain/engineer/pilot of a starship hurtling through space where they may encounter alien races or battle other starships. For more information, including a training video and 2012 video of an experienced crew playing, see this Artemis thread.
Once again AssassinCon ran in the background at BGG.CON. This is a meta-game in which BGG.CON attendee participants are given a special ribbon to attach to their badges. Each player has a target (card). Players must find their target and have them sign their card (the target is eliminated); the player then gains their target's card as their next target. Players must report in to the Mayday Games booth periodically. The player who gained the most targets by Saturday afternoon became the Master Assassin. Advance sign-up is required to participate; this is usually done a few days before BGG.CON begins. From the information page: "Welcome to AssassinCon at BGG.CON, the time each year when all the cloaks and daggers gather to attend seminars on practical invisibility and browse the latest in ninja hoods. But the real action is in the games, sneaking silently though the shadowed corridors. Pursue as you are pursued! Eliminate your opponents! In this game, skill and strategy mean the difference between success and a truly heinous headache. Good luck! And may the best assassin win!" Sponsored by Mayday Games.
Prizes: Master Assassin $100.00 gift card to Funagain Games 2nd Place $75.00 gift card to Funagain Games 3rd Place $50.00 gift card to Funagain Games Ties broken by date and time of earliest target trophy recorded at Mayday Games
The Palace of Mad King Ludwig was released at SPIEL '17 and will be available in stores January 2018. This is a tile-laying game in which each player builds rooms one at a time in a single gigantic palace. As rooms are completed, a moat slowly forms around the outside. When the ends of the moat connect, the palace is finished. Arrange and complete different room types, while cleverly collecting swans. The player who contributes the most to the palace wins the game. Author's note: Ted Alspach, Bézier Games Publisher, wouldn't say why you want to collect swans. When asked to elaborate he said, "They're swans, everyone wants em. Duh. Add to that the fact that there are Secret Swans in the game, and if we told everyone about them they wouldn't be secret anymore, now would they?" He wasn't being very cooperative, and I was afraid to ask anything more out of fear of being crushed under his giant foot.
Ted Alspach, Bézier Games, is BIG
Fun fact: Ted Alspach, Bézier Games: "This was originally supposed to be 'Castles of Mad King Ludwig: The Card Game' but as development took place, it clearly did not want to be a card game, and it evolved into the tile-laying game it is today."
Werebeasts is due to be released February 2018. In this game, players are bidding to collect particular werebeasts — specific werebeasts that are more valuable to them. Sneaky players may also obtain werebeasts they don't really want in hopes of throwing off their opponents so they don't get caught.
Fun fact: Ted: "Purina was not interested in providing any resources to help us promote the game [Werebeasts], even though each box comes with 80 cans of Werechow (which, as the can says, now has 90% more villager!)."
The newest edition of Antiquity was released at SPIEL '17. This is the third printing, with an updated design of components and a new box size. For example, the pollutions chits have been replaced by clear gray disks so you can see the resource below them.
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time released in November 2017. This is a cooperative game. Players are members of the adventurer's guild working against a game AI. The goal is to rescue four artifacts before the Professor steals four artifacts. On a player's turn, they can choose to unlock doors, disarm traps, or rescue treasures. To rescue treasures, certain traps need to be disarmed. Variable set-up makes each game different. The game difficulty is adjustable, e.g., for younger or newer players.
Fun Fact: Ryan Skinner, Marketing Manager for Passport Game Studio, won the state championships for Star Wars Destiny DDS for Idaho. His co-workers were not impressed since there probably weren't that many players in Idaho.
Space Freaks was recently released. This is a tactical combat game with a big twist. Before you start the game, you create your freak using various heads, arms, and legs (cards on a player board), each of which gives you different powers during the game. This provides much replayability. And it comes is a pink box (you can see boxes in the photos further below)!
Terraforming Mars: Venus Next will be released December 2017. This is the second expansion to Terraforming Mars; you need the base game to play it. It adds a side board for Venus, a new global parameter (the percentage of Venus that has been terraformed), a new milestone, a new award, and about 50 new project cards specific to Venus, including new corporations.
Fun Fact: Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games, was both at BGG.CON 2017 and PAX-Unplugged 2017. How can he be in two places at once you might ask? See photos.
Stephen Buonocore at BGG.CON 2017
Stephen Buonocore at PAX-Unplugged 2017
Everybody loves Stephen (even the photo bomber)... possibly a little too much?
Harvest was released at SPIEL '17. It is a compact worker placement, farming
game. The goal is to have the biggest harvest at the end of the game. Along the way you can build buildings, plant seeds, tend crops, etc. utilizing two worker (actions) per round over five rounds. You also draft initiative cards that determine your turn order for the next round, with better bonuses for going later in the turn order. Worker spots change every round (cards). Variable player powers really differentiate how each player will play.
Pioneer Days was also released at SPIEL '17. It is a dice-drafting game reminiscent
of the old computer game Oregon Trail. There is one die more than the number of players so the die that is left after drafting determines which disaster track marker will advance. Once a disaster track marker has reached the end of a track, all players must deal with its effects. Players collect resources such as equipment, townsfolk, cattle, etc. to gain points and abilities. At the end of four rounds, the player with the most points wins.
Fun Fact: Though Pioneer Days perfectly evokes the old Oregon Trail computer game, which is a surprise to the designers, who are from Great Britain.
And because my life is chaos, I contacted Lock 'n Load Publishing redundantly. So you get two for the price of one! But I get the feeling that working for LnL is crazier than my life... (see "Fun Facts").
Entry one, interview at BGG.CON with Blackwell Hird, Graphic Designer and Associate Producer:
Lock 'n Load Tactical: Solo was released in September 2017. This is a standalone title that works with every standalone boxed Lock 'n Load Tactical game currently released. It lets you play the game solo.
Space Infantry: Resurgence is due to be released Q2 2018. This is the third printing. It was formerly a solo game but now has options for a player vs. player and cooperative play. The chit draw random number generator has been replaced by dice.
Fun Fact: Blackwell Hird: "Falling Stars is a role-playing game. The book was written by Paul Lell. David Heath, CEO of Lock ‘n Load Publishing, decided to turn the game into five more products, including a dungeon crawl-type game, maps, and a campaign book. The challenge was that he wanted it done and published in five days so that it would be released at Gen Con, the next convention. And his team was successful! Although they didn't get much sleep."
Entry two, contacted David Heath, CEO, because I hadn't realized I had already had information for LnL:
Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of North Africa released July 2017. It is a squad-based tactical game. Players use a chit-draw initiative system to take turns moving, shooting, and rallying their units on geomorphic maps in order to achieve set scenario objectives. What distinguishes this system from other tactical systems is the ability for your units to become heroes during the course of your game.
This is the first game in the Lock 'n Load Tactical series that takes players to the Africa Campaign. Players command either the combined forces of the Axis or Allied powers. This includes the German Afrikacorps, Viche French, Italians, British, American and Free French Forces. It's the largest Lock 'n Load Tactical we've published to date, with 18 geomorphic (tiling) maps, over 300 counters, and 6 player aids.
Falling Stars Tactical Role Playing System released at Gen Con 2017. It is a role-playing game for 3-6 players that uses an unique, Opposed D10 system to drive all its mechanisms. Players and DM roll against one another rather than trying to beat a set number, meaning players always have a chance to progress. The game also features a solid tactical system for combat, using action points to perform actions, and reactions. You manage that pool to defend as well as attack on both yours AND your opponent's turn.
The Falling Stars RPG is the first RPG published by Lock 'n Load Publishing. Because of the Gen Con deadline, we literally took four straight, no-sleep days, breaking this product into four separate release items, including a boxed Beginner's Game with counters and maps, a Campaign Module, Map pack, and fully fledged Core Rulebook.
Fun Fact: David Heath: "I wanted you to know we did something not normally done. We went and printed and released 17 games at the same time on Oct 1, 2017. Ten of the games were from one series titled Lock 'n Load Tactical, three were from the Nations At War series, and the rest were all standalone games."
Aviation Tycoon, designed by my bud Ted Cheatham, is due to be released Q1 2018. This is a light economic game, comparable to Ticket to Ride. Players are investors in the aviation market. The game has a pick-up-and-deliver component to it. Cubes represent passengers and their colors correspond to the city they want to go to. For the first half of the game, players may deliver passengers one route distance (one segment). In the second half of the game, passengers can go two. Players start with shares. There are also shares on display, and a player may take one on their turn, then play one. When an airline route is used, that airline gets paid. When dividends are paid, those with shares get paid (they keep getting paid until the airline has no money left). There are also events and special player actions (each player gets dealt a power, which they use once then pass to their neighbor — once that set has made the rounds, a new set is dealt). The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.
Mr. B, a.k.a. Sean Brown, (L) showing Morgan Dontanville (R) Aviation Tycoon
Helionox: Deluxe Edition is due to be released Q1 2018. It plays from 1 to 4 players (the original Helionox game is for two players, you had to buy another copy for 3-4 players). The deluxe version includes the first expansion (which adds pick-up-and-deliver) plus two boxes of the original set. It comes with index cards to help you organize, as well as all wood bits. They added player mats and a double-sided game board (one side is better for solo, the other better for multi-player). They also clarified the rules.
Fun Fact: Sean Brown, Owner Mr. B Games: "One time, on a trip home from a convention in Utah, I ran into Flavor Flav at a TCBY stand in the airport. He was super nice, and on the same flight as me, along with the guys in Public Enemy. Nobody knew who any of them were, and they were all so gracious and kind. Flav insisted we do a selfie, which to this date is my Facebook profile pic!"
A Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch was released November 2017. This game has the basic workings of Catan but with the addition of elements and characters from A Game of Thrones. Players each have a character from A Game of Thrones to help them in some way. The Wall allows players to put knights upon it to help protect the kingdom from the Wildlings. Wildling raids will take out areas (similar to a robber sitting on a tile) but if too many invade, the game will end and the winner will be the player with the most knights upon the wall.
Fun Fact: It's probably a good thing Catan Studio dropped "The Settlers of" from their game names; A Game of Thrones: The Settlers of Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch is just a wee bit too long, unlike it's real name.
Catan: Legend of the Sea Robbers was released September 2017. It is an expansion to Catan: Seafarers. There are four scenarios that are intended to be played as a campaign (although any can be played in isolation). Each scenario has one or more goals that can be achieved by any player. Players may gain characters (cards) by meeting certain objectives. Those characters give minor powers. Characters stay with you through the campaign. The ultimate goal is to earn campaign points. Players earn campaign points by meeting objectives as well as through usual Catan victory points (which convert to campaign points via a chart).
Fun Fact: Morgan Dontanville, Chief Creative Officer, Catan Studio: "Catan Chocolate is the perfect gift for a family member because they will want to play it, and whoever builds their pieces gets to eat them. So no one has to know that you are just using this as an excuse to eat chocolate."
Rajas of the Ganges was released at SPIEL '17. It is a worker-placement game using with dice resources. The dice work as the key resources of the game: the values of the dice determine how much the workers may do at their particular locations. The objective of the game is to get the most points by balancing two tracks: wealth and fame. The game comes with pieces and rules for two advanced variants.
Fun Fact: R&R has sold over four millions copies worldwide of Time's Up!
Pulsar 2849 was just released. This is a dice-drafting game with space exploration and technology development. Players snake draft two dice, then take turns allocating all of their dice on their turns. Dice may be allocated to spaces to construct and activate transmitters (tiles), develop technologies that provide various effects (e.g., immediate, during game, end game scoring), move and explore, claim/purchase/activate gyrodynes, or develop personal technologies (each player has their own unique technology tree tile). There also are various ways to gain a bonus die (action). Careful planning is crucial.
Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Etherweave was just released. This is an expansion for Tash-Kalar that contains a new faction, Etherweave, that introduces a time travel element. The new element allows its controller to summon combatants then pay for them later.
Fun Fact: A squirrel is featured on the cover of That's a Question, and players are squirrels in the game. Squirrels are protected in the Czech Republic. There is even a squirrel sanctuary. People may donate money to it.
Wordsy was released August 2017. This is a word game that, in general, rewards longer words. There is a deck of letter cards, all consonants. Each letter card is designated as common, uncommon (with a one point bonus), and rare (two point bonus). A tableau of eight cards is laid in a 2 x 4 grid (i.e., four columns). Each column is associated with a point value card (at the top). The game is played over seven rounds. Players simultaneously look at the grid of letters and try to come up with the longest word that contains as many letters as possible. The first player to get their word writes it down on the personal score sheet and flips the timer. The other players must finish writing their words down when the timer runs out. After seven rounds, each player crosses out their two lowest scoring words, then the game is scored. The player with the most points wins.
The Networks: Executives is planned to be released mid-2017. It is an expansion to The Networks. The game includes executives, which add asymmetric powers for players. The executives replace the old player boards. It also includes a variable starting set-up for each player via card drafting.
Fun Fact: Gil Hova, owner at Formal Ferret Games, spent a lot of time recording and mixing music in college. One act that he recorded and mixed played covers of the avant-garde jazz/hardcore/speed metal band Naked City. The keyboardist of that cover band went on to be musical director of the plays In the Heights and Hamilton.
Echidna Shuffle is due to be released Q2 2018. This is a family game with really great pieces. The echidnas, bugs, and delivery stumps are all made from a soft, colorful PVC plastic. It is an easy-to-learn pick-up-and-deliver game on a cloverleaf track.
Fun Fact: Kris Gould, Owner of Wattsalpoag: "Wattsalpoag's first three games all had name changes at the last minute. Claim It! was originally "Claim Jumper", but we didn't want to compete with the restaurant. Nomads of Arabia was simply Nomads, but we added "of Arabia" to distinguish it from another game called Nomads. And Fruit Fair was going to be called "Fruit Fight", but my German friends all said it wouldn't sell in Germany with the word "Fight" in the title.”
Pack O Game 2 came out in August. It includes eight new games: SPY, ORC, RUM, DIG, GYM, BOO, BOX, SOW. This set includes a couple of team games. SPY can be played standing in line, e.g., while waiting to get through registration for BGG.CON.
Perplext is planning a new line of roll-and-write games under the brand name of Roland Wright, and the first two should be out by the end of 2018.
Fun Fact: SPY has technically been in development for fifteen years. It was originally planned as a full-sized card game with 28 cards. Chris Handy, President of Perplext, was able to adapt it to this pack of gum-sized format.
Empires was released at SPIEL '17. This is a negotiation game set in 18th century colonial Europe. It has a Euro side backbone with all negotiation. It's a cousin to Sidereal Confluence. Start by drafting a nation, each has a unique set-up and power. (Negotiations may begin here!) During the game, players are trying to gain the most supporters to win.
Who Should We Eat was also released at SPIEL '17. Players are survivors who have crashed on a remote island and resort to cannibalism way too quickly. It is a card game where each player is a character, who is trying to build a raft together with the other players/characters. Along the way, they need to eat, so the question is "Who should we eat?"
Fun Fact: Empires was brought to Zev Shlasinger, Director of Board Games, at BGG.CON in 2016. What drew his attention to the game was the player count and negotiation, along with the streamlining.
Tiny Epic Quest was released August 2017. It features ITEMeeples. The game uses limited movement selection to visit temples, dungeons, and spell obelisks, as well as to slay goblins. Once movement actions have been taken (during the day), the night phase begins where dice are rolled and the actions take place. For example, to move in the temples, you need to roll torches or maps; to fight goblins, you need to roll punch symbols.
Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea is due to be released in March 2018. This is a 4X big box game (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) that contains 80 highly detailed miniatures. It features 3D cardboard constructs. This is an asymmetrical game pitting orc against humans, elves against dwarves. Each player has a player board on which actions may be selected. Actions may be followed by other players, so the game has little down time.
Fun Fact: Nathan Hatfield, Chief Sales Officer at Gamelyn Games: "We have a Gamelyn suit of armor inside of our office."
Fast Food Fear was released September 2017. This is a cooperative real-time, turn-based card game in which players are communicating to trade cards, feed monsters, or flip the timer. It plays in 5-10 minutes.
Michael Strogoff was released October 2017. It is based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name and set in 18th century Russia. This is a racing game that hinges on risk management/resource management. The goal is to move down a track of 12 spaces, all representative of different parts of Russia (based on the book). On a player's turn, they may either advance or rest, i.e., get cards or energy. There is also an assassin track with an assassin meeple, which is rather like having another player. If the assassin gets to the end of its track, the game is almost finished; the further the assassin gets on its track, the more difficult it will be for a player to win, e.g., if it gets to the end, it is more likely the players will all lose.
Fun Fact: Matt Hyland, US Managing Partner: "Many in North America don't know us, but this is Devir's 30th anniversary in the comics and games industry! We started in Brazil in 1987 as distributors of indie comics in English and now have offices in nine countries, selling products in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and English."
The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game was released at BGG.CON 2017. This is a dice game version of The Castles of Burgundy board game. There are five dice, two D6, two six-sided colored dice, and one six-sided timer die. Each round, any player may roll the dice and all players use them to fill in their player sheets. There are four different pads, each with a unique map on them. The maps vary in groupings of hex areas, which are colored purple, silver, blue, orange, green, and yellow (representing monasteries, mines, rivers, cities, castles, and pastures respectively). The goal is to earn the most points by filling in the groupings. If you are first to fill in all of one color, you get the higher number of indicated points, according to the color. There is also a lower number of points for the second person to do the same. Players may get points by filling in groupings of pastures for double points. Bonus moves are available whenever you complete a grouping (only one bonus per turn) — you may earn points in this way for selling goods.
The Quest for El Dorado expansion is planned for Q3 2018. It must be used with the base game. It includes new boards and more market cards.
Fun Fact: Lunch at Ravensburger is very exciting. They line up on their long table and play head-to-head, with a game starting at one end and moving down the table. Winners are tracked; at the end of the week the winner of the week is announced to the office.
Meeple Circus was released in November 2017. This is a party game with a dexterity element. Players earn applause points by fulfilling card objectives over three rounds as well as using three levels of acrobats (blue, yellow, and red meeples). For example, the beginner meeple (blue) just needs to be on the ground to earn one point. Character and animal meeples, planks, barrels, and other wooden pieces are stacked and manipulated into positions. The winner is the player with the most applause points at the end of the game.
Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes was released at SPIEL '17. This is a tile-laying game. Players start with one tile, five goal cards (of which they choose three), and a number of structures of three different types. On a player's turn, they play a tile, then draw a tile from a display of three. Players create enclosed areas, then gain resources (tokens) which they use to meet goals to gain points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Fun Fact: Stefan Brunell, Director Communications & Marketing, Matagot: "We received a complaint about Okanagan, the person wrote he was tired of all the Asian or 'exotic' themes in board games; he proposed making more American-themed games. We still didn't answer back, still don't know if we should explain where Okanagan is or just send a map of the area."
Archmage is due to be released Q1 2018. Players are mages who are competing to become Archmage by collecting resources via area control on the main modular hex board. The map is initially unexplored. A player has five action points for their mage, which allows the player to move the mage, explore hexes, or attack another player's followers. As a player's mage explores the board, it may drop a follower meeple in an empty hex, which allows the player to collect resources. If the hex isn't empty, the mage will have to attack the follower in the space. Each player also has a "tower" board where apprentices battle and learn spells. Two apprentices in adjacent spaces battle be promoted to the next level, after which one is removed. There are three levels of apprentices: fundamental, advanced, and master.
Fun Fact: Tim Heerema, the designer of Archmage, is a family doctor who started designing games as a way to avoid burn out at work — creative head-clearing fun.
Farlight was released at SPIEL '17. This is a blind-bidding game in which players bid on resources, parts for their ship, missions, and scientific knowledge using five cards, 0 through 4, each turn. The goal is to win the most points through missions.
Fun Fact: The staff of Game Salute is really into Pokemon GO. In the last year they have traveled to three continents other than North America and hunted Pokemon: Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion was released July 2017. It is a cooperative card/dice game in which players are trying to clear the forest of an alien invasion before time runs out. The forest is made up of a grid of cards; the size scales for the number of players. Each player has a character card with a unique ability and a pool of dice that may grow through play. They use the dice to fight aliens or search for gear that will help them to fight the aliens. The game is set in the same universe as Nightmare Forest: Dead Run.
Robotech: Force of Arms has a planned release in June 2018. This is a two-player head-to-head card game, with RDF (Robotech Defense Forces) vs. Zentraedi. It is based on the 1980s anime Robotech Macross. The game is a combination of area control and bluffing.
Fun Fact: All of SolarFlare Games has Sofie, the dog from Madness Games & Comics, in every game or on the boxes somewhere.
Sophie (awww!) on Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion Card
Blue Cherry Faerie sells all sorts of fun gaming paraphernalia as well as useful gaming accessories. For example, they have themed clothing (ties with dice images!), dice containers, handmade dice bags that double as dice trays, and dice towers.
Windup War was released in August 2017. This is a simultaneous action programming game of toys in combat. Each player gets a small faction pack of toys. They select the units they want for the battle. Each player programs five actions, then simultaneously reveals and resolves them one card at a time. The winner is the last army standing or the first to score three points. Players can score points by programming a "Charge" card when no other player has.
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf (L) and Windup War (R)
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf is due to be released mid-2018. This is a dexterity game utilizing uniquely folded cards that fly like disks. Players flick through a course of punchboard obstacles and the box, with the goal of flicking the card into the hole in the fewest number of flicks.
Fun fact: Dennis Hoyle, Owner: "Bellwether Games was founded with seed money won through an e-commerce entrepreneurship business plan competition at Mississippi State University."
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 6 – France & Old West recently released. This latest installment in the Map Collection series, an expansion for Ticket to Ride, includes the France Map and the Old West map. France is really specific, as routes on the board are not colored, unlike all previous existing maps. Instead, players must choose colors themselves by placing punchboard tokens on the map.
Fun Fact: The France map was actually hard to put into production as it required a map bigger than usual; the country being almost a square, it was impossible to fit on the usual rectangle format of Ticket to Ride board.
878 Vikings: Invasion of England was released in November 2017. This game is based on the Birth of America Series, which includes the wargame of the year 1775 Rebellion. This is the first game in the Birth of Europe Series. The next game will be based on the Crusades.
Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon will be on Kickstarter at some point. This is the first game in the new division Apollo Games. It is also the first game in the Saints Row Series based on the video games. It is a 3D tactical game where your actions in the game have consequences. It may be played as a campaign or in head-to-head tournament play.
Fun Fact: Uwe Eickert, Academy Games Owner: "We handmade our first hundred games. Cutting and gluing the boxes, stamping out the counter sheets, stapling the rules, and cleaning out the glue vats afterwards!"
Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama was released at BGG.CON 2017. This is the U.S. version of the game Avenue. Each player has a dry erase board with a 6x7 grid. The grid has six shrines labeled A through F (each board is the same) as well as 0 to 4 flower and caterpillar icons in the rest of the spaces. It is roll-and-write game; one player draws one card at a time from a deck of 42 cards and announces it to all the players. Each player draws that shape in one of the grid boxes. 22 of the cards are yellow; after four yellow have been drawn, there is a scoring round. The goal is to connect as many icons on a path to a shrine as possible for scoring. The twist is that during the scoring rounds, you must get more points than you did in the previous scoring round.
Path of Light and Shadow is due to be released at the end of January 2018. This is a big box civilization, area control, and a sort of deck-building game. Players have one leader on the board who they move around trying to conquer provinces, thereby gaining troops who help increase their strength. Troops (cards) may be promoted or murdered as the leader sees fit. (This will affect their morality rating.) Players can research technologies in order to gain special abilities. Points are gained in different ways, e.g. through conquered areas, techs, and promoting troops. This is not a traditional deck-building game as players do not choose the troops they recruit.
Fun Fact: Nick Little, Director of Manufacturing and Product Development, looks a lot like Brian Posehn, comedian, actor, and writer of Deadpool. He has a photo of the the two of them together.
Big Trouble in Little China: The Game will be released soon. This is a very thematic, licensed cooperative game with iconic replicated scenes. It has a double-sided board. The first side is based on the beginning of the movie, including familiar locations. The second side is based on the latter half of the movie, when things get more difficult and the stakes get higher. Each player is a character from the movie with asymmetric abilities and their own unique deck of cards. There are character quests based on the movie (locations, etc.). Other players may help the primary character complete their quest but the primary character must initiate the quest. The object is to defeat Lo Pan and other iconic enemies.
Rambo: The Board Game will be on Kickstarter in January 2018. This is a story-driven, campaign-based tactical cooperative game. The game may be played as a campaign or as single scenarios. Players choose their characters, including Rambo, and weapon and tactics cards. The scenario is also selected or played as dictated by their campaign. Luck is mitigated in this game.
Fun Fact: Delving into the world of art for weapons, Adrienne Ezell, Marketing Manger, has spent well over twelve hours researching time period and location appropriate weaponry for just five characters — and the game will include at least eight characters plus enemies, so she still has a long way to go. She's also worried that she may now be on an NSA watch list due to her research.
Information provided by Michael Mihealsick, Project Manager at Quick Simple Fun:
Noxford was released October 2017. "In Noxford, each player leads a syndicate in a steamwork city, competing against one another for influence over the city's wealthy districts. The game begins with two neutral districts in the center of the play area, and each turn, you play one card to the city. You may play a card from your syndicate deck, which will increase your influence over the adjacent neutral districts. You may also play your syndicate cards atop other players' syndicate cards in the city, effectively 'overwriting' them for scoring purposes. Finally, you may also play new neutral districts to the city, thereby creating new scoring opportunities. The game ends after the first player runs out of syndicate cards in his/her deck. Then, each neutral district is awarded to the player with the greatest amount of influence surrounding it. Each district you control scores one point for each of its icons, plus an additional two points for each time your leader’s 'preferred' icon appears among your scored districts. The player with the most points wins."
Muse will be released in January 2018. This is a team game for teams of two or
more. There is also a cooperative variant for 2 or 3 players. One member of the team will be the muse; the rest will be artists. The opposing team chooses a masterpiece card (from six) and an inspiration card (from two) and gives them to the muse player. Masterpiece cards each contain art, a là Dixit. The inspiration cards each contain an instruction, such as "Name a nonfictional plant or vegetable" or "Name a nonfictional animal". The muse then comes up with a clue to help the artists identify the masterpiece card and tells everyone. The opponents take back the masterpiece card and shuffle it with the rest. The artists must guess which card was selected. If they guess correctly, they get the card (one point), if not the opponents do. Play then passes to the other team and the process is repeated. The game ends immediately when one team gets five points.
Fun Fact: Michael Mihealsick, Project Manger at Quick Simple Fun: "When we first came across Celestia, our CEO found it being demo'd on a window sill at SPIEL in 2015. We sat down to play it, and signed a contract on the spot!"
Montana was recently released at SPIEL '17. Big Kids Games is bringing Montana: Heritage Edition to the U.S. as a deluxe version due to be released by Q2 2018. This is a settlement-building, worker-placement, resource-management game set in old west era Montana. The deluxe edition will include screen printed wooden components, thicker cardboard, linen finishing, and more.
Sweet Mess will be in Kickstarter in February 2018. This is a baking competition game in which the main board is made up of a tile grid of 16 round tiles, representing bowls of different ingredients. The game starts with each bowl containing one ingredient matching the bowl's type (ingredients are wooden disks, each with an ingredient sticker and coordinating paint color), except the wild bowl which starts empty. There is a display of five recipe cards, each with a list of required ingredients and a number of stars (points). Some have a timer icon, event icon, and/or kitchen tool icon. Each player has a player mat "chef card" with a pastry bench at the bottom (five spaces), a master ingredient area, and two ability lists. They also have a stove card with two spaces.
On a turn the player has four choices, one of which may be done, plus two free actions that may be performed. For example, a player might choose to pick up all ingredients from one bowl. This creates a mess, i.e. the bowl type ingredient is spread to all orthogonally adjacent bowls. A bowl can accumulate up to four ingredients before it is considered contaminated, then empties and flips. The flip sides of bowls contain differing ingredients. Once a player has accumulated the necessary ingredients to fulfill a recipe, they may take the card. It may require time to cook it. It also may give the player a kitchen tool — a one-time use bonus of some sort. The first player to 11 points wins
Fun Fact: Jason Moughon, CEO of Big Kid Games, has done some graphic design over the years, including in his own business. He designed the logo for Big Kids Games, which includes his likeness.
Whew! If you made it this far, you have my sincere thanks! I still have a lot of work to do for BGG.CON — Part 2, but I hope you will check it out once I get it together! Happy holidays and best wishes to you in the new year!