Here we are once again for my marathon BGG.CON coverage! This year I'm hoping to fit it all into one part, some of the game publishers I had missed at BGG.CON didn't reply to emails asking for information. So less work for me! Yay! This worked in my favor since my husband and I decided to get our diving certification (plus enriched air and advanced certifications) in between the holidays and into the new year, making things extra crazy. (Don't even get me started on our current tax nightmare and having to change accountants.)
BGG.CON 2018 was held November 14-18 at the Hyatt Regency DFW for the last time. It was a little sad as we said goodbye to the wonderful Hyatt staff, who have done such an excellent job over the years.
During the Closing Ceremony, a Hyatt representative was made an honorary geek (games were given to the staff too!)
On a more positive note, BGG.CON is moving to a larger space! The 2019 convention will be at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. The exhibit hall will be in one room, rather than two (woo hoo!). The main ballroom will be larger and there will be more hotel rooms available. The hotel will handle about 5,000 attendees but BGG.CON will not max out in the first year due to extra growth issues and logistics. The number of attendees this year was about 3,200. The new location will be closer to Love Field airport. I highly recommend taking advantage of this. It's especially nice for those who like to fly Southwest (like me). We've actually been flying into Love Field the last few years anyway since we discovered it was a lot less expensive for a direct flight, including Lyft to and from the hotel. Also, the airport is smaller — easier and faster to get in and out.
Good thing BGG.CON is moving to a larger space - doubling up doesn't look too fun.
Fun Fact: This year's theme was the 1980s. Thanks to the hotel staff, there was 80s music in the lobby and bar plus retro candy and decorations. TeamGeek dressed in theme the first day (as usual) and there were themed T-shirts and posters available for sale.
The line this year was similar to last year, averaging less than an hour wait time. (If you waited until the bulk of attendees went through, it was rather short — I think I waited only a few minutes.)
Premium badges were available again this year at a flat fee of $400. There were the same number as last year, 150. The benefits were mostly the same except there were no extra games this year. (Last year it was sponsored by CGE.) This option is planned for 2019 but no word on pricing or how many will be made available (although it will be no more than 5% of badges sold).
Thank you to Jeff Anderson for providing stats and some of the other information in this article.
Attendees received one item in each group (group/game/company):
6,443 games were available for check out in the BGG.CON library. Below are the top ten games checked out of the library, preceded by the number of checkouts. There's a full list available as well. This does not include the games that were available throughout the convention in the Hot Games area. Information provided by Scott Alden.
Okay, this may be the 13th year of the math trade. Last year it was touted as the 10th or possibly the 11th – not really sure what happened to the 12th. Maybe 13 ate it? If you are interested in what games were up for trade or what games people wanted, check out the Math Trade Actual Geeklist or the Hopes and Dreams Request List respectively. Math trades are a super cool way to trade games you no longer play/want for something new to try. If you want to participate, start checking the BGG.CON forum at the beginning of October. There were 297 traded (1010 not traded), with 72 people making at least one trade. Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Virtual Flea Market (VFM)
If you have a lot of games to sell, this is an excellent venue for you (especially if you are a far distance from Dallas). List your games ahead of the convention (details here), then bring only those that sold! Time and space was reserved at BGG.CON for participants to meet up. Since the VFM has grown so much, this year 45 minutes were allotted (instead of the typical 30 minutes). There were a few rules everyone was asked to follow to make things go smoothly.
Board Game Bazaar (Flea Market)
This event fills up with sellers every year so there are plenty of games to barter over. I've gotten some great deals in the past. Below are a few photos of the event, taken during set-up (i.e., before all the craziness started, the hall crowded, and most of the games were sold). If you plan to shop at the Board Game Bazaar, get in line early! It is a long one.
Mystery Meat! Did you take a chance? If you bought one of these, let me know in the comments what it was! I'm very curious (and slightly apprehensive).
Not all the items being sold were games per se, but usually they were game related. Check out these cute meeple bags.
Wow look at the price on this! I'm thinking there may be a sale at our house in the near future. Don't tell my husband. He probably won't miss it, right?
Ooo, candy! Tasty incentives... I think there were games on that table, too.
Stephen Conway: "The 10th Spiel-a-thon at BGG.CON was held in Dallas, Texas on November 16, 2018. It was a tremendous success! We had our largest turnout to-date for a Spiel-a-thon in Dallas. AND we raised the most money ever for this location! $3,500 in less than 3 hours. Each Spiel-a-thon is about more than asking people to pry open their wallets, though. The driving force behind every Spiel-a-thon is to demonstrate how play can be a powerful force for good in the world. Don't get me wrong, we welcome your contributions any day, any time. But if you come to a Spiel-a-thon, you come to pay by playing! You play. Then you pay. And The Spiel Foundation uses this money to assemble bundles of games. Each bundle allows more kids and seniors to play. Each game bundle we send out delivers more fun into the world. It's a perfect circle of fun. And that is priceless. Many many thanks to the people who made this event such a success. Thank you to my new Spiel partner Doug Richardson for all his hard work. Thank you to our intrepid staff of volunteers: Francie Broadie Patty Richardson, Marguerite Cottrell, Jay Bartelt, Erin Green, Veronica Worley, Rachel Lee, Ezra Denney, Jeff Ridpath, Beth Heile John Knoerzer and Debbie Ohi."
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 31, 2018).
Attending BGG.CON for the first time was video game designer and board gamer, Tim Schafer. For example, he directed Grim Fandango, the first LucasArts game to use 3D graphics overlaid on pre-rendered static backgrounds (Wikipedia on Grim Fandango).
Returning again this year were game designers Matt Leacock, Eric Lang, and Rob Daviau. There was a Special Guest Panel on Saturday evening where attendees could listen, chat, and possibly ask questions.
Matt Leacock — look how happy he is to see me! Who needs a puppy when you have awesome friends like this?
Originally Rich Sommer was scheduled as a guest but he was able to get a new TV gig.
Even Isaac Childres was excited: "The first scenario of the new Community-Driven expedition will go live at BGG.CON. So the scenario will be available Wednesday, Nov. 14, and then Thursday night, I will be playing it on a live stream at the con with Jeff Anderson and Scott Alden from BGG, and Tim Schafer (!!!), creator of some of my favorite video games like Monkey Island and Psychonauts."
Fun Fact: This was BGG's first live-streamed event from BGG.CON. There is some Q&A with Isaac at the end of the video.
A special thank you goes out to the staff of volunteers and workers of TeamGeek! They are a big part of BGG.CON's success.
AssassinCon, sponsored by Mayday Games, ran in the shadows of BGG.CON. Participants must pre-register before the convention. Players in this meta-game are given a special ribbon to attach to their badges. Each must find their target and have them sign their card (the target is eliminated and this is their trophy); the player then gains their target's card as their next target. Players had to report in to the Mayday Games to record their trophies (ties were broken by earliest trophy time recorded). The player who gained the most trophies by Saturday afternoon became the Master Assassin.
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
Funagain Games Booth in the Exhibit Hall
—Catch the Moon
Hosted by Active Player Network. Description from BGG.CON Events page: "Test your balance and stacking skills in the new dexterity game Catch the Moon in an event hosted and sponsored by Active Player Network. Catch the Moon, from Bombyx, is an easy-to-learn game for all ages and skill levels that will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to play over and over to hone your strategy and technique. Event attendees will be taught how to play, and may stay and enjoy for as many plays as they want within the 2-hour block (play time is 20-30 minutes). There will also be a live prize drawing, offering players the chance to leave with a copy of the game!"
—Introduction to Board Wargaming and Board Wargamers Meet & Greet
The Meet & Greet was hosted by Christopher "Doc" Cummins, Publisher at Strategy & Tactics Press and CEO of Decision Games. The purpose was to meet new and returning fellow war-game enthusiasts and discuss games would like to play during the convention including setting up schedules for game play.
The Introduction to Board Wargaming sessions were two 20-30 minute presentations, also given by Doc Cummins, on basic concepts and terms of board wargaming. The presentations were followed by demonstrations using enlarged versions of Decision Games' mini-games such as: Germantown, Caesar's War, Eagle Day, Phobos Rising, Vikings
This year's tournament had 24 teams (48 people). Prizes included Tichu decks for the finalists and badges and guaranteed hotel reservation for winners (reservation does not include the cost of the hotel room).
Attendees could test their flicking skills as they raced their cars (wooden disks) through a custom designed stunt track. And they meant business – check out that crazy track!
There were forty participants in the tournament. For the preliminary races, they had five unique tracks set up, with eight participants per track. There were three preliminary races, with each player getting to race three of the five tracks. Participants were reshuffled so they ended up playing against different people rather than all three races with the same people.
After the three preliminary races, players handed in their scores (i.e. their positions they finished for each of the races added together). The lowest eight scores advanced to the final race, where they tore down the preliminary tracks, and built one mega final track for the finalists. The prize was a big trophy.
The Annual Texas Hold'Em Tournament is a staple for BGG.CON. There were about 225 participants this year. Amateurs were encouraged to play; if they showed up early, they could get a rules summary to help them get started. No money was involved but there were great prizes! It was sponsored by Tasty Minstrel Games, which awarded a stack of games to the winner as well as a game to everyone in the final game. BGG also gave the winner a couple badges and a guaranteed hotel reservation to next year's event (reservation does not include the cost of the hotel room). Hosted by Jeff Anderson.
Treasure Island, a SPIEL '18 release, premiered at BGG.CON as a play-to-win tournament. The tournament was played over two rounds with eleven tables, narrowed down to two tables for the second round. The winner of each of the three tables received a copy of the game (distributed by Asmodee North America).
—R&R Games Information provided by Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games.
Outback was released at SPIEL '18. This is a dice rolling, push-your-luck strategy game where players collect sets of Australian animals to maximize their points. It's super cute too (who doesn't love koalas, platapus, or kangaroos?). This R&R version includes variants as well as an option for team play.
The Table is Lava was released at SPIEL '18. Yep, lava table, card islands, and meeples... throw your card and be sure to attach/touch to another card "island" or you don't get to use the card action. Win by having the most surviving meeples. The Coconuts Edition expansion adds another player, cards, and meeples.
Fun Fact: Really more of a clue... Frank says "it wouldn't hurt to know how to use the Wayback Machine."
—Game Toppers Information provided by Kevin Burahardsmeier.
Game Toppers are portable gaming tops that can convert your home table into a high quality gaming solution. Each Topper has modular parts, such as cup holders, accessory trays, and dice towers. They also sell thematic game mats, Game Topper storage bags (for Topper storage and portability), and Game Totes - insulated totes for game storage and portability. Another Kickstarter is coming Q1 2019 featuring new mats, new accessories, and new topper sizes (they currently have five sizes).
New expansion boxes are coming to Kickstarter November 2018. Because game boxes aren't Tardis' ... Instead having inserts lift the game box lid, this new larger box allows games to be fit in perfectly while using the original lid. For example, all of Small World, Underground, and expansions will fit in one box, with both lids: one on the bottom (held by friction) and one on the top, so that in the shelf, it just looks like two games. Daedalus will also be offering magnetic lid bit boxes, which will be configurable and customizable with smaller boxes inside. Boxes will be available in both black or white.
—Catan Studio Information provided by Morgan Dontanville, Catan Studio
Catan: Rise of the Inkas was released at SPIEL '18 and should be on the shelves of the English-speaking world November 2018. Inkas uses the standard Catan structure and drastically makes changes in the mechanisms to depict the rise and fall of Andean tribes. Each player must play through the rise and decline of three Inkan tribes in order to win. Rise of the Inkas includes three new trade goods, in addition to the five resources, powers added to Longest Trade Route and Most Combat Skills. But the biggest change of all is the ability to build over top of other players' settlements.
Catan Scenario: Crop Trust is an add-on scenario for your base Catan game. Catan worked closely with Crop Trust, an international nonprofit organization who's goal is to protect global food security. They are most famous for their seed vault in the Arctic that safely houses over 4,000 species of seed. The scenario encourages players to be aware of crop diversity and the dangers of monocultures by way of event cards. It also gives new ways to score points through banking crops' seeds into the seed vault. The game can collapse entirely if there is too much of a threat to the food supply. A large portion of the profits and royalties go to supporting the Crop Trust.
Fun Fact: Catan Studios sent a team to Svalbard, home of the northern most civilization in the world as well as the seed vault that houses all of the saved samples for the Crop Trust. While they were there, they played Crop Trust.
—CGE Information provided by Justin Sweigart, Director of North American Operations.
Trapwords released at SPIEL '18; U.S. release at BGG.CON. This is a dungeon-themed word guessing game where two teams are trying to guess the word their respective team member is trying to get them to guess while avoiding words on a list selected by the opposing team. Teams try to work their way through a dungeon with different rooms. Curses are placed on certain rooms making things more difficult (these affect the first team(s) in the room and only hangs around for one round). The goal is the defeat the boss monster (which moves up when both teams fail). A timer is optional.
Through the Ages: Leaders and Wonders (working title) has a planned release of second quarter 2019 (both physical and digital). This expansion for Through the Ages mainly contains more leaders and wonders for each age of the game.
Fun Fact: At SPIEL '18, CGE had a very VERY large helium balloon over their booth. It was so big that it took two tanks to fill it. (Photo, copyright CGE.)
—KOSMOS Information provided by Tom Wetzel, Customer Service Representative.
Mercado was released at Gen Con 2018. This is a bag draw game where players draw colored coins from a bag and place them around tiles in a display, on their designated player color's side (each tile has all four player colors, one on each side). The tiles represent merchants, objects, and perfume, each of which has a cost in some combination of coins. Merchants give players wild coins or privilege tokens. Privilege tokens give players victory points and/or benefits. Objects give the players victory points and/or effects (may be good or bad, e.g. gain a counterfeit coin in your bag), better than privilege tokens. Perfumes also have beneficial effects. The player who makes a complete circuit on the score board triggers the end game; the player with the most points wins.
Ubongo Fun-Size was released December 2018. This is a smaller box (seven inch) game with thinner puzzle card tiles but the number of puzzle cards included is the same as the original Ubongo game (but double-sided) and the pieces are the same size! Game play has been changed to eliminate the die, instead it is a race to finish filling in the puzzle area first (either with three pieces or four pieces, depending on the side played — four pieces being more challenging). First person to finish gets to keep their puzzle card and takes a gem; other players who finish within an allotted time also get to keep their cards. Players play eight rounds (eight cards). Scoring is one point per gem and one per card. The winner is the player with the most points.
Fun Fact: Rüdiger Dorn got his start designing board games early in life when he "got to know the C64-games Donkey Kong and Frogger." Unfortunately he did not have a computer, so he designed his own board game versions of these games. When asked why he decided to design a bag pulling game, he responded "I love the suspense and the feeling of the material in my hand."
—AEG Information from Todd Rowland, Alderac Entertainment Group.
War Chest was released at Gen Con 2018. This is an abstract bag-building war game. High quality poker chips, representing players' units, are drawn each turn; they determine what a player can do on their turn. The goal is to control certain spaces on the board (there are not enough for each player). Each game, players draft four of a possible sixteen units, giving the game a lot of variety and strategy options.
Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto has a planned release of first quarter 2019. This is a "saga" expansion, as opposed to a legacy one, giving a story line to the game but the game may be reset and replayed. Scientists, in the process of trying to invent warp technology, attracted a planet-eating creature to the players' star system. This expansion takes players through the "adventure" of solving this problem.
Fun Fact: About two years ago, for the Thunderstone Quest Kickstarter, the CEO of AEG put a yellow meeple in one of the playtest photos used on the Kickstarter page. There was a note saying "yellow meeple not included." People started asking why the yellow meeple wasn't available. It became a sort of joke over the next couple years. The yellow meeple started showing up in other AEG promotions and advertisements, even sporting anime eyes in the Unicornus Nights advertising. When Thunderstone Quest was released, an actual yellow meeple was included due to its popularity.
Echidna Shuffle was released June 2018. This game is basically an echidna traffic jam where players try to deliver their three bugs to their tree stumps. During setup, players place put pick-up markers out on the game board; this is where the bugs will be picked up. An opponent (to player's left) puts a player's corresponding three stumps on the board. The winner is the player who delivers all three of their bugs.
River Explorers (working title) is planned for release in 2019. The object of game is to make the most money by moving a stack of explores with at least one of your own in it up river along a marked path, dropping explorers (one per space) as you move. The owner of an explorer gains money for being dropped at their trading post (one per disk in the stack next to their matching trading post). At the beginning of your turn you put a trading post next to a space then take your turn: placing an explorer on an empty space or moving a stack of explorers.
Fun Fact: The sequel to Echidna Shuffle will be called Echidna Candy Store, based on the pun.
Meeple Realty makes inserts, and now miniatures, for board games.
Meeple Realty - Terraforming Mars miniatures (seen in photo) coming to Kickstarter early 2019.
—Stronghold Games Information provided by Stephen Buonocore, President Stronghold Games.
AuZtralia was released in November 2018. Thematic spiritual successor to A Study in Emerald. The Old Ones, after being defeated in England, have taken up residence in Australia. Players must now defeat them while building rail systems and mining resources. Mechanisms include resource management, rail building, and combat versus the Old Ones (semi-cooperative element against the Old Ones).
Terraforming Mars: Colonies was out in November 2018. This is the fourth expansion to Terraforming Mars. Players now visit the outer planets' moons and astroids, where players establish colonies and set up trade routes. There is more player interaction via trading and having other players visit your colonies.
Fun Fact: Stephen sent me a couple fun facts. Here's one: Sir Percival (see Stephen's cat photo) was the first "Knight of The Stronghold." Stephen might be a little too attached to his pet. For your entertainment, I thought I'd share an excerpt from our Fun Fact conversation:
—Mayday Games Information provided by Ryan Bruns, President Mayday Games.
The Golden Sails has a planned release of second quarter 2019. This is a set-collection, card-driven game where players are navel merchants trying to acquire sets of goods to meet demand: spices, gems, weapons, animal, and spells.
Bad Doctor was pre-released at Gen Con 2018 and recently released. This is a tile-laying, player action based game where the goal is to treat patients with the hopes of curing them, or at least not letting them die on your turn. If a patient dies on another player's turn or is cured on your turn, any doctor markers you have on the patient come to your score pile. Doctor markers are put on patients through the best use of your two actions per turn. The winner is the first player to collect 8 doctor markers.
Fun Fact: Artist Bill Holbrook did the artwork for Bad Doctor. He also does the word's longest running daily web comic: Kevin and Kell.
Archmage: Ascendant, expansion for Archmage, has a planned release mid-2019. This adds four new modules to the game: Places of Power, New Spells, Prophecies, Cooperative Play (two-player).
King's Forge: Masterworks has a planned release of third quarter 2019. This is the fifth expansion for King's Forge. There are four new types of dice: Borealis ("wild"), Aether Ore (metal/magic), Heartwood (wood/gem), Grimstones (chaotic/variable). The game also includes Ambassadors and a new Royal Decree.
Fun Fact: Tabletop Tycoon has a town, Tabletop Tycoon Town, where their staff has unique character representations (avatars) that they choose. They have an artist create each representation, which goes into the Tabletop Tycoon Town image on their website. The avatars are also used on their reserved parking spaces and business cards.
—Gamelyn Games Information provided by Nathan Hatfield, Chief Sales Officer.
Tiny Epic Zombies was released October 2018. The game features five modes of play: cooperative AI controlled zombie, cooperative with human controlled zombie, competitive with AI controlled zombie, competitive human controlled zombie, and solo. It introduces a whole new set of items for ITEMeeples® (e.g. axe, machetti, chain saw). There are two vehicles (cop car and motorcycle) in which ITEMeeples can ride, allowing them to move further. There are 14 human characters/cards, with zombies on the backs of the cards, for a total of 28 choices. Humans must complete three objectives to win the game; zombies must kill all humans to win. There are different levels of difficulty as well, e.g. one survivor token death ends the game vs. some number of deaths ending the game. Note: players are not eliminated from the game upon token deaths. Game play is under an hour.
Tiny Epic Mechs has a planned release of mid-2019. This is an arena combat game, player vs. player, with action programming (e.g. Robo Rally). The ITEMeeples® in this game actually go inside power armors and mech warriors, which sit on the board. When an ITEMeeple moves to it, it may jump inside.
Fun Fact: Every member of the Gamelyn Games team has bungie jumped and sky dived.
—Grey Fox Games Information provided by Alex Goldsmith, Grey Fox Games.
City of Gears was released at SPIEL '18. This game originally started as a contest entry for Best Steampunk Game on The Game Crafter, a website for creators to build and sell games. This is a resource management, area control and engine building game where you uncover a lost steampunk city and bring it back to life, using robot workers you deploy from your factory. The game includes 21 unique city tiles, 9 of which you use each game, and 40 different development cogs, each of which grant you a special player power.
Reavers of Midgard is the sequel to the worker placement game Champions of Midgard. It was recently funded on Kickstarter and has an expected release date of second quarter 2019. Reavers of Midgard's core mechanism is single worker placement, with each player getting one action and the rest getting weaker and weaker versions of the same action in turn order. You will send your viking crew to do battle with epic monsters, raid fortified keeps, get boat upgrades from villages, and conquer new lands.
Fun Fact: When Reavers of Midgard was initially pitched by J.B. Howell, the game was originally themed to take place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
—Devir Information provided by Adam Growden, Sales Administrator, Devir Games.
Silk pre-released at BGG.CON, with the full release first week of December 2018. In Silk you play a giant silk worm farmer in the Akaishi Mountains. You will be using your silk worms, shepherd, mastiff, and building improvements to control areas of the board. Your worms will graze on the grassy tiles to score points. Each player will determine their actions by rolling two dice at the beginning of their turn, showing what actions they can take. The die results can be modified by players spending their victory points to adjust the result up or down. Actions can be anything from scoring points to bumping an opponent's silk worm to the Ookami, a monster who steals any silk worms he comes in contact with (costing the player points).
Fun Fact: The designer Luis Ranedo is the singer of Spanish Rock band Madera.
Papua will be releasing alongside Silk the first week of December 2018. In Papua, players compete by sending scientists to different board locations allowing them to: discover new plant and animal cards, increase their number of scientists, gain more actions in a turn, gather food and money to supply their expedition, or collect scientific notebooks recording their findings. Players will score points through discovering new species, recording their findings, and resource accumulation. Sets are collected through a mixture of worker placement and secret bidding.
Fun Fact: Papua's title art is based off of an image of the Hewa people. The Hewa were one of the last contacted tribes in Papua, with contact not being made until 1975.
Fleet: The Dice Game was released at the end of 2018. This is a roll-and-write game set in the Fleet universe. Players go fishing by drafting "fish" dice that are used to acquire boats and fishing licenses (special abilities). The object of the game is to gain the most victory points by visiting the market, wharf, and harbor. Players sell fish to gain coins in the market and visit buildings at the wharf for end game victory points or special abilities. The harbor unlocks extra storage, more fishing, and victory points.
Escape Plan, by the designer of The Gallerist and Lisboa, has a planned release at Origins 2019. Players are each members of a gang who pulled a bank heist then hid money around the city. Now that it's safe to retrieve the money (freshly laundered of course), they are all suspicious of each other. Each tries to recover the most money from the various businesses where money was stashed. The game takes place over three days (with rounds of 6 to 8 actions). To win, a player must escape the city with the most money.
Fun Fact: Eagle-Gryphon's CEO, Rick Soued, and his wife, Joanne, just spent the last six months traveling all across Europe for their anniversary.
—Queen Games Information provided by Ian Kissell, Queen Games.
Bastille was released at SPIEL '18; it premiered at BGG.CON in the U.S. This is a light to medium Euro game in which players are trying to gain victory points by acquiring leaders, by completing missions, and through various bonuses. It is a worker placement game where the higher placement (influence number) goes first (or first player in the space if tie). The workers (influence number) may be upgraded through one of the actions.
Luxor: the Mummy's Curse, an expansion to Luxor, is expected to be released first quarter 2019. It includes three expansion modules: The Mummy, Pitfalls, and New Treasures.
Fun Fact: Queen Games started by selling Carrom boards for about the first ten years.
—Surfin' Meeple Information provided by Ian Birdsall, Group Marketing Manager, and Nikki Pontius, Surfin' Meeple.
Treasure Island, released at SPIEL '18, premiered at BGG.CON as a play-to-win tournament. Published by Matagot. In Treasure Island, one person plays Long John Silver. The other players are interrogating him to find out where he buried his treasure. Some information is hidden and some is public knowledge. The game includes a dry erase board map of the island, rulers, and templates. Players use the latter two to draw lines along which they move, and circle their dig area. Clues can include the direction to where the treasure is buried.
In Imagineers, published by Maple Games (below), players are building rides in a theme park to attract customers, represented by colored meeples, e.g. blue like water rides, red like thrill rides, yellow like family rides. Each player may also upgrade their own roller coaster (on their personal player mat), for example, by adding a loop to their roller coaster. The object of the game is to gain the most fame. Players use happiness points to gain fame; money is necessary to build new attractions and upgrade roller coasters. You generally get happiness by having visitors ride attractions (any player may do this) and gain money by having visitors use your attractions. The game has an intuitive Mancala style of play.
Fun Fact: Chris Leder originally designed Imagineers nearly twenty years ago under the title "CoasterCraft."
Fun Fact: Surfing' Meeple got their name from one of the owner's children who loved to surf while living in Californa.
Dragon Boats of the Four Seas is a light euro style game with elements of auction bidding and set collection. Set in a fictional kingdom inspired by Chinese mythology, players take on the roles of leaders of one of the great houses of Zhong-Guo. Over several rounds, players will trade, build farms, and make offerings for the safe passage of their ships to the forgotten lands. Dragon Boats of the Four Seas comes with three-dimensional dragon boats. There are many viable strategies to attain victory.
Fun Fact: The original "Four Seas" metaphorically made up the borders of pre-Han dynasty China.
Western Legends is available now (reprint also in the works due to demand). It is an open world, sandbox game. Assume the role of historical figures of the American West as you carve out your legend in any number of ways. You can gamble, drive cattle, fight bandits, prospect for gold, rob the bank and become an outlaw, or become a marshal and uphold the law. The possibilities are near endless. Very thematic.
Fun Fact: Fans of Western Legends will have the opportunity to Ante Up! this January.
Kami-Sama is an intuitive strategy game set in rural Japan during the Edo period. Assume the role of one of twenty Kami with your own unique powers. Use your asymmetrical abilities to place or remove shrines, build patterns to gain favor, draft villagers for bonuses, and work in balance with Nature to become the chief deity of the land. Kami-Sama will be available for retail release in first quarter 2019.
Fun Fact: The designers of Kami-Sama hid a number of cute cats among the villages in the game.
—Floodgate Games Information provided by Ben Harkins, Owner Floodgate Games.
Sagrada: 5&6 Player Expansion was released at Gen Con 2018. This expands the Sagrada base game to five or six players and introduces new private objectives that are position based, shown on each player's card as shaded areas. It also adds a private dice pool: two dice of each color that are rolled only at the beginning of the game; on their turns players must choose one die from their private pool and one from the public draft pool.
Bosk has a planned release of late Spring 2019. This is an area control game where players, each as a species of tree, play over four seasons. Spring is when players grow trees, Summer is a scoring round (along the park trails), Autumn is when the leaves fall off the trees - covering certain areas, and in Winter players score for area majority per region in the park.
Fun Fact: Bosk was signed by Floodgate Games after Daryl Andrews (co-designer) showed it to them at BGG.CON 2017.
—Indie Boards & Cards Information provided by Nick Little, Vice President of Production and Development.
Exodus: Paris Nouveau was released September 2019. This is a social deduction game with hidden teams (hunters and rescuers), set in the Dystopian Universe. This game is a little heavier than The Resistance. It has an auction system to determine the leader each round. There are multiple ways to win depending on which team a player is on.
Aeon's End: Legacy has a planned release of end of January 2019. This is the first legacy deck-builder game. It is a cooperative game in which players play as mages trying to fight off a big nemesis boss monster. Players start out as a adept mages. At the end of each chapter (e.g. game) players may upgrade their respective mages by choosing their abilities. At the end of the campaign, players will each have a complete mage that may be played with all other Aeon's End games (i.e. it's a character generator!). Unlike other legacy games, over 80% of the content is repayable outside of the legacy campaign. A reset pack will be available upon release that will allow players to replay the campaign and generate new characters.
Bladius, Aeon's End: Legacy
Fun Fact: The designer of Aeon's End: Legacy loves Kpop music.
Warehouse 13: The Board Game will be released first quarter 2019. This is a semi-co-operative (hidden traitor) game where players take on the role of one of the Warehouse agents. The game comes with rules for a fully cooperative variant. Like the television show, the characters go out seeking to retrieve dangerous artifacts: "snag it, bag it, and tag it." Players spend actions to obtain cards, then use the cards to get dice (working the case). Artifacts are retrieved by rolling the right combination on dice to match those on the artifacts. There is a field agent training video available (rules).
Infinite Dreams Gaming has plans to Kickstart an expansion second quarter 2019 featuring H. G. Wells and James MacPhearson as playable characters.
Fun Fact: The designers Michael Aldridge, Russell Rupe, and M. Shawn Smith II, were invited by Eddie McClintock, one of the main actors, to his house to play the game. He played his character, Pete. Eddie also did the voiceover for the Kickstarter video.
—BGG Geek Store
So many cool things to be found at the BGG Geek Store: promos, games from Asia, apparel, and more!
KeyForge: Call of the Archons was released in November 2018. This is a unique deck game by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. Each starter box contains two starter decks (two different decks but these are the same in each starter box) plus two completely unique decks (across all boxes produced) plus all the components to play the game with two players. The goal of the game is to forge three keys. Each player's decks contains cards from three of the seven available houses. On their turn they may play as many cards as they want (no cost) from only one of the houses. The cards allow players to collect aember, attack their opponent's creatures, etc. Aember is needed to forge keys.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game – Mother of Dragons expansion has a planned release of December 2018. This adds House Targaryen (dragon meeples to control!) and House Arryn, the Iron Bank of Bravos option (loans), and a side board of Essos (check spelling of all this). It also expands play to eight.
Fun Fact: The lead developer of KeyForge, Brad Andres, created a character of himself in the game, featuring his image on one of the cards: Quixo the Adventurer (a common house Logos card).
Neon Gods was released November 2018. This is an area control game that takes place in the "futuristic" year of 2009. Each player controls one four brightly colored gangs whose goal it is to rule the city by gaining the most blurp. Players gain blurp by building structures, selling product tokens, and winning fights. Players add cards to their game decks through recruiting, which in turn places more of their own gang figurines on the board.
Comanauts has a planned release of December 2018. This is the successor game to Stuffed Fables but geared more towards adults. It has similar game mechanisms and is more streamlined and stepped up a bit. Dr. Strobal has gone into a coma taking with him the knowledge of how to save the world. Players take on the roles of comanauts and venture into his subconscious to try to wake him up in time to prevent the end of the world.
Wyrmwood makes beautiful game-related things out of gorgeous woods (like purpleheart, zebrawood, and black walnut): dice towers, dice trays, deck boxes, game tables, and more!
—Z-Man Games Information provided by Beth Erikson, Z-Man Games.
The Great City of Rome debuted in Europe at SPIEL '18; the U.S. release is planned for early 2019. Players are trying to rebuild Rome, creating their best plan, by placing cards in a 4x4 grid, to present to the Emperor. The first player (which rotates) places their pawn on an action strip denoting resources. The few resources gained the more choices of city cards the player has, i.e. the strip has five resources (bricks and cogs in various order, over 6 double-sided strips), the further down the player plays on the strip, the more they gain, i.e. they gain all resources from the space they are on and up. The player with the best city plan _ that is, the most points — at the end of the game wins.
Narabi previewed at BGG.CON and has a planned release of early 2019. This is a small, quick co-operative card game in which players are trying to organize stones in a garden. The stones are cards, numbered or blank, that must be put in ascending order either clockwise or counterclockwise. Each stone card has a corresponding restriction card associated with it (before the game starts, each stone card will be randomly paired with a restriction card and put in a card sleeve - this provides variability between games). Each player gets a number of cards, depending on the number of players, giving them limited knowledge of their cards (restrictions). The players' cards are in front of them with stone side up so restrictions are hidden. On their turn, players exchange stones, working towards the correct arrangement one move at at time while following the restrictions.
Fun Fact: Atha Kaanani, the staff illustrator for Z-Man Games, used his girlfriend's image on the cover of Pandemic: Fall of Rome. Since she's his artistic muse, you may see her featured in his other art as well.
Gem Rush Second Edition was released at BGG.CON. This is a 1 to 7 player, competitive or cooperative, fast playing game through a magical gem mine. Skillful hand management and play are key to scoring. The goal is to get the most points by building out rooms in the mine. The new edition added new magical gems and skill cards for individual player skills.
The third printing of the second edition of Nemo's War is due to be released third quarter 2019. This will include two new expansions, Bold and Caring and Dramatis Personae. Bold and Caring includes two new motives: adventure and humanist. Dramatis Personae includes twelve new adventure cards mainly dealing with the crew (old and new).
Fun Fact: "A Christmas Miracle" promo card is in production for Nemo's War (set in 1870) in which Captain Nemo invents nascent light bulbs and illuminates them on deck for the assembled crew on Christmas Eve. The author of "20,000 Leagues Under the Seas," Jules Verne, was no fan of Christianity but a big fan of science, thus the card is a scientific nod on a Christian holiday.
—And now for something completely different...
My friend, Debbie Ohi, and I took a break from all the fun at BGG.CON to do a little shopping at my favorite Japanese "dollar" store, Daiso. Technically, it's a $1.50 store but that doesn't sound as good (and I barely acknowledge the extra $.50 plus tax... although this may have added to my checkout shock). Daiso is located only in a few western states right now, so whenever I visit one I make sure to plan time (and suitcase space) for Daiso. They have the cutest sticky notes! Little polar bears, penguins, colorful pencils, and so many others — it's hard not to buy them all. (They're only a dollar, right?) They also have really smooth paper, comparable to Rhodia writing pads (which are much more expensive). Perfect for pointed pen calligraphy practice.
Below is a photo of our combined haul. Funny how all those dollar items stack up to well over $100 (I'm not saying how much over either, just in case my hubby is reading this... love you baby!).
—Ravensburger Information provided by Mike Mulvihill, Ravensburger.
Carpe Diem was released at SPIEL '18. This is being hailed as a good introduction to Stefan Feld games since it's a bit more forgiving. This is a tile placement game in which players are trying to build up their own districts and gain victory points to win the game. Points are generated in various ways, and gained at the end of each of the four rounds and at the end of the game. In a four player game there is a tableau of 12 cards (reduced for fewer players) between which each player, at the end of a round, must place a marker between two cards (the space must be empty; they are not cleared during the game). The two cards score immediately. If a player does not have the resources or configuration in their district to score points, they get -4 points. The influence track determines the order players place their markers. The district, influence track, and resources will score at the end of the game.
Impact: Battle of Elements was released December 2018. This works similarly to Strike in which player toss dice into an arena (called a cauldron) trying to get matching symbols. In this version, the first die determines the element power that will be active for that game. For example, if the first die tossed has a lightning symbol on it, the Lightning Storm will be active. This means that whenever there are two or more lightning symbols showing in the cauldron, there will be a lightning storm: all players must quickly throw one of their dice into the cauldron at the same time. The active player then receives all dice that show matching symbols. A player who runs out of dice is knocked out of the game. The last player standing is the winner.
Fun Fact: For Halloween, Paula Biemann, Ravensburger's Consumer Marketing Specialist, dressed up as Ursula from their game Villainous. In the photo, she's also holding up the Ursula figure and the Arrogance card (featuring Ursula) from the game.
—WizKids Information provided by Zev Shlasinger, WizKids Games.
Magic the Gathering: Heroes of Dominaria Board Game was released at BGG.CON. This is a Euro-style game set in the plane of Dominaria. Players use mana for various actions, such as building manaliths, leylines, confronting the Cabal, and discovering artifacts. Player characters, Planeswalkers, also go on quests to gain victory points. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of games.
Bumúntú will be released in January 2019. This is a beautiful tile game where players use animal movement powers to collect tiles in order to gain points in various ways, depending on the animal. There is a favor board that determines the value of each animal at the end of the game. The board can be manipulated by players during the game by collecting specially marked animal tiles. There are a few tiles that are marked with symbols that will allow a player to score them at the end of the game as well. For example, animal tiles with masks on them give more and more points per mask collected.
Fun Fact: Almost everyone who worked on Maiden's Quest was female: artist, graphic designer, most playtesters, developer, lead play tester, and editors.
Cult: Choose Your God Wisely was pre-released at BGG.CON and should be in stores now. This is a worker/Priest placement game with a unique take on in-game currency: Followers. Players choose Gods and send their Priests to places in the Eternal City in an attempt to bring their deity victory over the minds and souls of humanity. Followers are gained and sacrificed. Altars are built to the different Gods as they clash in this new take on the genre.
Fun Fact: Cult: Choose Your God Wisely can now be played on Tabletopia (a virtual platform for board games co-founded by Agrology), allowing people to check it out before purchasing the physical game.
Rick and Morty Rickshank: The Rickdemption Deck-Building Game released at BGG.CON. This is a standalone game that is also fully compatible with the original Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game. New features include Access Tokens and Council cards. Access Tokens can be bought, gained, and spent in numerous ways. Many cards reference them in one way or another. They also give you the potential to increase the number of Votes you have when a Council card is played. Each Council card causes a Vote to be taken amongst the players. A Referendum is a Vote amongst the players to decide if they should all perform the listed action, or not. A Sanction is a Vote that players take to decide which player should be punished (with varying effects). Lastly, a Bid is a Vote on who should earn a positive effect. Here, each player Votes only for themselves, and the high bidder earns it.
Fun Fact: The infamous Szechuan Sauce card is in the game. Get it before it's gone!
Coldwater Crown: The Sea is scheduled for release in early 2019. It is the first boxed expansion to Coldwater Crown, the strategic fishing game from designer Brian Suhre. Coldwater Crown: The Sea integrates with the original game by adding a new fishing location (the Sea), five new species of fish, a new type of fishing tackle, punchboard fishing boats, and two variant species challenge tiles. A new Port action in the game allows players to move their fishing boat to "Sea," where they can catch Sea fish (and only Sea fish) with any color of bait. Sea fish are scored according to a special weight scale, with the potential for a lot of points, tempting players to stay "at Sea" longer while forgoing points from the standard fishing challenges.
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf was released in July 2018. It is a dexterity golfing game with a flickable paper "golf ball" that can fly, spin, hook, skip and flop. Players assemble and play-through a course, one hole at a time, from the punchboard obstacles provided in the game. They use standard mini-golf rules with modifications to account for the nuances of flicking a "golf ball" on a table. The rulebook provides diagrams to assemble 54 different holes, including trick-shot holes. Players may also design their own holes.
Fun Fact: During development of Mars Open: Tabletop Golf we conducted innumerable tests of the flight paths of the "golf balls," including distance trials on the floor like the one shown in the photo above.
—SolarFlare Games Information provided by Dave Killingsworth, Owner & CEO SolarFlare Games.
In late August 2018, SolarFlare released its first licensed game property, ROBOTECH: Force of Arms. It is a 1v1 sci-fi card game of fleet movement, area control, and bluffing, which plays in about 20-30 minutes. Everything you need to play comes in a box that fits conveniently in your bag or backpack. Player involvement and card interaction keep the game fresh so it's fun to play over and over. The game is also available online.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth, "ROBOTECH: Force of Arms is based on the 1985 Anime Robotech (The Macross Portion). Since we released ROBOTECH: Force of Arms the fandom has been wildly enthusiastic. We took scenes from the show and had the artists remake them in a modern and high resolution style that people have called 'Art as good as nostalgia remembers.' Since this has been so popular, we are actively working on ROBOTECH: Crisis Point, our early 2019 release (also a 1v1 but with deep strategy) based on the Masters part of the show, followed by ROBOTECH: Invid Invasion late in 2019, which will be a 1-6 player fully cooperative game based on the New Generation. Thus, if you sit and play all 3 games over a 2-3 hour period it will be like you played the show."
—Mercury Games Information by Richard "Doc" Diosi, President of Mercury Games.
Rail Pass will be released in mid-2019. It is a co-operative, modular pick-up and deliver game. The game is not quite like other train delivery games because it is timed. Players work together to deliver goods (colored cubes) from their respective cities to other players' cities, all of which are color coded (the cubes and the cities). There are always six cities in play regardless of the player count. Trains are loaded with cubes and passed to adjacent players sitting at the table. Although dexterity is a component, the main mechanism of the game requires loading and unloading trains of different capacities, and crew that can only deliver to an adjacent city before being sent back to their 'home' city. Logistics are a large part of this game. The game has a ten minute timer; players must deliver as many cubes to the correct colored cities as possible. Players score the two cities with the least cubes of their color delivered. Any dropped cubes (ones that may have fallen off trains as they are passed back and forth) are treated as negative points.
Big City: 20th Anniversary Jumbo Edition will be releasing in mid-2019. This reprint from the late Franz-Benno Delonge is the original modular city-building board game. It features new larger and detailed miniatures and is played on a colorful set of modular neighborhood boards. Utilizing cards for property ownership, players trade and play cards to place buildings and other structures onto the modular boards, scoring points for adjacency to other certain types of buildings, as well as whether the new building is in the "outskirts" (at the edge of the modular board) or "downtown" (encapsulated by other properties within the modular boards). The playing of the City Hall piece unlocks the ability to place many special buildings. A new redevelopment phase has been added to the original game to promote more property card trades among players. Also, a new expansion has been made for the game using pieces approved by the late Mr. Delonge.
Fun Fact: The City Hall piece fashioned for this version of Big City is Toronto's City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square.
Big City Parking Garage, a new piece from the expansion
Lincoln had on the special jersey for Game Night. Be sure to check out the latest episode.
This year there was a rather odd thing happening at the prize drawing. Number after number was called with no claim, and some that were claimed turned out to be incorrect (winning tickets are checked) — the games kept coming back. This was the first time in all the years I have been going that this has happened. I'm not saying it was anyone's fault, although it was guest of honor Tim Schafer's first time announcing. Just sayin'.
Tim Schafer, announcing yet another "winner"
Prizes, prizes, and more prizes!
When Jeff Anderson speaks, everyone listens intently: (Front) W. Eric Martin thinking about his next article, (R) Eric Lang falling asleep on his feet, (L) Michelle Alden and Matt Leacock sharing a private joke.
Finally Eric Lang, a.k.a. Bunny Ears, gets a taste of his own medicine. Way to go special guest Tim Schafer! You might even be invited back!
A very full room and one very happy (bordering on crazy?) looking Debbie Ohi (bottom right)
Special custom graphic posters given away
There were many other things going on at BGG.CON that I didn't get to cover. These included: Puzzle Hunt, Battling Tops, Orphans and First-Timers Meetup, Designer/Publisher Speed Dating, UnPub (Proto Alley), the ever popular Game Show (two times!), and more.
Hope to see y'all next year!!
Ironically, after yelling at Rodney to put his hands down, it was actually the best photo of the bunch.