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BGG.CON 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 1

Mary Prasad
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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BGG.CON was held November 16-20, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport, Texas. This will be the location for the next two years. In 2019, BGG.CON will move to the Hyatt Regency Dallas where everything will be about 50% bigger, including the exhibit hall (one room), ballroom space, hotel rooms, and number of attendees!

Fun Fact: The number of attendees for 2016 was about 2,950.

Check-in was greatly improved this year, thanks to a few changes. The opening line was basically done in one hour, with around 1,000 people checked-in. The main improvements included eight check-in stations rather than 4–6 and raffle tickets being pre-separated (with half added to badges).

Fun fact: The first people in line for registration were there starting around 1:00 a.m., but once registration was opened (a little before 10:00 a.m.) no one stood in line for more than 35-45 minutes.

Door Prizes!!

Everyone received a copy of Dragon Punch from Level 99 Games as well as promos for Tipping Cows (Columbia Games) and Abandon Planet (Orange Machine Games). Everyone also received one game from each of the following:

Large game choice:
Mage Wars Academy (Arcane Wonders)
Terra (Bézier Games)
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles or Wrath of the Righteous (Paizo Publishing)
City Hall, Captains of Industry, or AquaSphere (Tasty Minstrel Games)

Medium game choice:
Space Sheep (Stronghold Games)
Strategy & Tactics Press Magazine Wargames (Decision Games)
Valdora (Funagain Games)
Hold Your Breath, Get Bit, Walk the Plank bundle (Mayday Games)
Bookmaker or Kragmortha or The Big Idea (Passport Game Studios)

Small game choice:
Airships or Robber Knights (Funagain Games)
Mini Meteor or White Elephant or Lemonade Stand (Mayday Games)
Tapple (USAopoly)
HEX CASTERS (Hasbro)

A special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing much of the information above.

I'd like to give a shout out to Team Geek 2016. You may read about all the wonderful things they do in this thread.


Photo posted by Lainie Theys


Food!

Once again Rio Grande Games sponsored the Grapevine Shuttle, making trips to local restaurants and stores free to convention attendees.

This year I went with my buds from The Dice Tower (joined by a few other friends) for dinner at Babe's Chicken Dinner House. Just thinking about those chicken fingers is making my mouth water – probably the best I've ever had. The batter is crispy and light, the chicken tender and juicy. The food is served family-style. Everything was tasty – green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttery biscuits (added honey to half – it's good both ways), creamed corn, and the dessert – oh my! I had the banana pudding; it was fantastic!


The Dice Tower and friends at Babe's


Most days I had breakfast at Jacob's Spring Grille, the hotel restaurant. This year the buffet was reduced to $12.95 for attendees (normally $19.95). The only difference is that they don't have the omelet bar, but there's still quite a lot of food from which to choose, including steel-cut oatmeal and toppings, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast/pancakes, a variety of pastries and breads, fruit, cheese, and usually some type of potatoes. (I'm probably forgetting a few things, too.)

Another annual tradition is dinner at Mr. G's Steak House, also in the hotel. The food is usually pretty good, but they always seem to mess up something. This year the waiter had to take the checks back four times (yes, FOUR) before they were done correctly. (My husband and I had dinner with friends Ted and Toni Alspach, Bézier Games: two couples = two checks… we didn't think it would be that challenging.)

Special Guests

This year's special guests were: Matt Leacock, Eric Lang, Rich Sommer, and Rob Daviau. There was a special Q & A panel held Saturday evening with Matt, Eric, and Rob. Maybe someone can leave a comment on how this was… I didn't attend; it was dinnertime for me.

Geek Buzz

Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has some information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 2, 2016).

1. Flag Dash
2. Terraforming Mars
3. Captain Sonar
4. Nightmare Forest: Dead Run
5. No Respect: Rodney Dangerfield's Game
6. Fabled Fruit
7. Adrenaline
8. Cottage Garden
9. Aeon's End
10. Kodama: The Tree Spirits

Hot Games

The following is a list of games that were available in the Hot Games area, including the number of copies. Information provided by John Mellby.

2 - A Feast for Odin
2 - Great Western Trail
2 - Terraforming Mars
2 - Cottage Garden
1 - Inis
2 - Oracle of Delphi
1 - Captain Sonar
2 - The Colonists
2 - Railroad Revolution
2 - Adrenaline
2 - Fabled Fruit
1 - Key to the City - London
1 - Mechs vs. Minions
1 - Power Grid: The Card Game
1 - Lorenzo il Magnifico
1 - La Granja: No Siesta
1 - Cry Havoc
1 - Fields of Green
1 - Dream Home
1 - First Class: Unterwegs im Orient Express
1 - Manhattan Project: Energy Empire

Game Library

The BGG.CON Game Library contains 5409 games, and here's a list of the titles that were added from the SPIEL 2016 convention in October. The full collection is listed here. This year there were 11,815 checkouts of 2,093 unique titles.

Here are the top ten games check out preceded by number of checkouts. It does not include the games in the Hot Games, which were checked out once at the beginning of the convention. Click here for the full list. (Information posted by Scott Alden.)

120 Fabled Fruit
114 Colony
86 Dream Home
80 Potion Explosion
78 Kanagawa
71 Mystic Vale
71 Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic
69 Ice Cool
66 7 Wonders Duel
65 Pandemic Iberia

Math Trade

This year was the 10th anniversary of the BGG.CON Math Trade. A Math Trade is a trade between a many people at once, using an algorithm to decide who gets what. Games are traded 1 to 1. There is no risk as traders get to decide their preferred games in the trade – at worst keeping the game they started with. This year 96 people traded at least one game (more may have participated) and 430 games were traded. Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.

Virtual Flea Market

There were 7,124 games listed this year for the Virtual Flea Market. According to organizer Michael Schwerdtfeger over 3,700 games were sold (it's difficult to get an exact count for various reasons). The nice feature about this is that the games are pre-sold, so you only have to bring the games that sold to the event! No wasted space.

Board Game Bazaar (Formerly the Flea Market)

Stay tuned (BGG.CON 2016 Part 2) for information on the Bazaar, including a video!

Exhibit Halls

—IndieLand

In one of the exhibit halls there were four booths that would change each day, differentiated by red curtain backdrops. Mainly, these were reserved for small independent game companies. When at BGG.CON, be sure to stop here every day to see what's new.

Mayday Games

AssassinCon was a Gen Con 2016 release. It is a game for 4 to 6 players, although the sweet spot is 5 players (with less than 6 players there are robot players - random movement for those characters). The object of the game is to get the most points. The board shows a convention map layout. Each player is given a target card and a deck of movement cards. The movement is hidden - each player plays a card determining direction of movement, which are shuffled before being displayed and the standing character tokens moved to their new locations. Players move from location to location looking for their target, while trying to avoid being a target themselves. Booths/rooms can give a player special abilities. For example, the sniper booth allows you to target characters in three other booths (i.e. as if they are in the same location). Players get one temporary point for identifying their target (plus they get their target's target card, i.e. a new target), and two points for correctly figuring out who is targeting them plus any temporary points they had. A round ends in the unlikely case where the movement decks run out, if there are only two players left, or if someone attempts to identify their assassin (right or wrong). Temporary points become permanent and a new round begins. When one player gets five permanent points they win.

Fun Fact: At BGG.CON, Mayday ran a live AssassinCon game with about 95 participants who signed up pre-con and were give ribbons. They were randomly assigned a target and given a card that looks like an oversized card from the game. If they found their target, the target signs that card, then they give that player their target card (the target can no longer participate but keeps their score). The person with the highest score at the end was the winner. 1st place received $100 to Fun Again and some Mayday goodies, 2nd place $50, 3rd $35.



Update on the new Mayday Crokinole boards: The new release is expected in February 2017. It will have a wax finish rather than shellac, which allows the wooden disks to glide more easily across the board. The Kickstarter price is $99 plus $15 shipping. MSRP will be $145.

The Crokinole carrying case retails for $50. I highly recommend it; it's a beautiful padded case with carrying strap.

Thames & Kosmos

Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, the first full board expansion to be released in the U.S., came out in November 2016. It includes four new legends, continuing the story of the original heroes. It also includes travel by sea. Players can customize their ship during the game. Ship movement is influenced by weather. There is a new character, the bard. The characters are in a new land; they want to spread their fame. Winning depends on how successful they are, as measured by the bard's faith in them. Their success is contingent upon the bard spreading word of their victories (tracked on the newly introduced Hall of Fame section of the board).

Fun Fact: The boards for the Legends of Andor base game and the expansion, Journey to the North, line up perfectly with each other. Included in the Companion Guide rulebook with the game is a link to a free download, a 70-minute atmospheric soundtrack to enhance game play.



Bézier Games

Colony was released November 2016. This is an engine-building, dice-as-resources game. It comes with 28 different sets of variable cards, 7 of which are used in a game "making it infinitely re-playable" (according to owner Ted Alspach). There is a free app available for download that helps you customize your game set-up.


New York Slice is due to be released March 2017. It is a reimagining of Jeffery D. Allers' Piece O' Cake using pizza slices instead of pie/cake. A few additional elements give the game more depth than the original. One of those new additions is a set of chalkboard-style "Today's Specials" that provides unique variations on the standard "I cut, you choose" game play of the original, i.e., these are small chalkboards that may be added to a portion of slices. New York Slice also has combo slices (with two types of pizza on one slice), nasty, nasty anchovies, and even a supreme slice.

The images from New York Slice may be prototype images; they could change with final publication



Fun Fact: During development, Ted and Toni Alspach ordered dozens of uncut pizzas of all the types represented in the game in order to use them for the prototype in testing the game — except for anchovy slices because that's just gross.

—Daedalus Productions Inc.

Daedalus makes beautiful wooden inserts for game boxes. The stained wood adds a nice touch. The internal boxes fit perfectly and organize the pieces well.


Ben Hillyard, Daedalus Productions, Inc.




HABA USA

(Information provided by Andrea Elliott, HABA USA E-Commerce Manager)

Meduris (European release: SPIEL 2016, North American release: BGG.CON 2016) is a medieval-inspired worker placement, resource management game designed by Stefan Dorra & Ralf zue Linde, illustrated by Miguel Coimbra of "7 Wonders". As a medium-weight game, this is HABA's heaviest release to date. Players compete to make offerings to the gods in order to score victory points. You collect resources depending on how high your worker is in each meeple tower. Players also compete to build huts; they do this by paying resources. Each additional adjacent hut adds one of each resource to the cost of newly placed huts. The more and more huts that are built/placed, the more expensive the real estate. Scoring works in a similar manner, as hut construction, by paying the druid resources as he moves around the board. The player who strategically builds their huts and temples, while conserving enough resources to use in the final round of offerings, will win the game.



Picassimo (European release: SPIEL 2016, North American release: January/February 2017), designed by Carlo A. Rossi and illustrated by Christian Fioret, is a crazy twist on the traditional party drawing game. It includes 900 terms to be drawn and 3 levels of playing difficulty. Players simultaneously draw a secret term from their cards; they must use the whole drawing surface to complete their drawing. When only one person still drawing, a 3-2-1 countdown starts; when the countdown ends, they must stop drawing and put down their marker. The player who finished drawing first turns over a "transformation" card, which will show everyone how to re-arrange their drawing board tiles. Once boards have been re-arranged according to the card, in turn order players reveal their artwork to the other players. They are trying to guess the original word drawn before the artwork was re-arranged. If guessed correctly, artist and guesser will receive points. After all drawings have been revealed and guessed upon, a new round begins. After 7 rounds of play, the artist with the most points is the winner.



Fun Facts: HABA has more than 15 game and book designers who develop over 450 new products each year. Their home factory in Germany produces over 1,800,000 dice every year!

Wattsalpoag Games


Jumbo Jets
(Jet Set Expansion 2) was pre-released at SPIEL 2016 and now at BGG.CON; it is expected in stores early in 2017. It includes four expansion modules that add jumbo jets, hotels, charter flights, and city bonuses. It also includes more flight cards — completing the full collection of combinations — as well as both easier and more difficult Final Flight cards (12 of each).




A jet and cute little clear meeples from Jumbo Jets


Fun Fact: Kris Gould, company owner and game designer: "The Wattsalpoag logo used to have a squirrel with a question mark above his head, looking at the name 'Wattsalpoag'. (Wondering what the heck it means.) As a tip of the hat to this original unofficial mascot, we had to include a squirrel as one of the animals on the dice in A Fistful of Penguins."



Perplext

Pack O Game Set 2 will be released in Q2 2017. As with set 1, this set will include eight new games:

Spy - a 10-minute table-less deduction/memory game (i.e. it may be played without a table!), great for standing in line.
Rum - a push your luck, set collection bottle game with a twist.
Orc - a 2-player hand management territory battle game that you can play in 5 minutes.
Dig - a dog-themed pick up and deliver game.
Gym - a team game in which players create teams and compete in gym class events.
Boo - a 2-player game with an Othello-like mechanism, crossed with Super Mario Brothers "Boo" character.
Box - an abstract game, optionally playable in teams, in which players try to create the largest squares they can with their secret color (a square is defined by their color being in the four corners). Players score for the number of dots along one edge of each square.
Sow - a gardening game with a Mancala-like mechanism, for two to four players.



Fun Fact: The chocolate brown lab in Dig was inspired by designer and owner Chris Handy's dog Rex. He has been immortalized in the game as a cartoon; his photo dedication can be found in the rules.

Fireside Games

Dastardly Dirigibles released in July 2016. It is a steampunk airship building card game where players are trying to build a matching airship to score the most points. Each player has a set of plans, playmat, for their airship with 7 spaces for cards, e.g. lift engine, nose cone, tail. Players try to collect and place like parts for their dirigible; there are 8 varieties plus 2 wild. Whenever a player decides to add a part to their ship, all players must simultaneously play that part if they have one, in that slot, replacing a card if there is one already there. A round ends when one player finishes their dirigible. Players score 2 points for matching parts plus one point per wild (other types of parts do not score). The player with the most points after 3 rounds is the winner.



Castle Panic: Engines of War was released November 23, 2016. This is the third expansion to Castle Panic. It adds an engineer who uses resource cards to build new weapons and defenses, new monsters, and siege engines.



Fun Fact: On the back of the Dastardly Dirigibles there is a Handbook of Victorian Insults: "In anticipation of your rivalry, the Professor has provided this handy reference guide of stinging insults, biting terms, and vengeful sayings. Use them against your adversaries as you will." For example, gormless means lacking any common sense. Justin De Witt, the Chief Creative Officer and designer of Dastardly Dirigibles, came up with the idea and did the research.

Academy Games

1754 Conquest: The French and Indian War is due to be released in December for preorders, in stores May 2017. It completes the Birth of America trilogy, which includes 1775 Rebellion: The American Revolution and 1812: Invasion of Canada. These strategy games are easy to learn, educational (some included teaching books), and fun to play.



878 Vikings - Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in late December 2016. This is the first game in the Birth of Europe series. It has the same game mechanisms as the Birth of America series. There is always about a 5% change in each game, which gives them an individual/unique feel.

Fun Fact: Academy Games newest Conflict of Heroes Q & A is in section 42. There are lots of funny bios on their website – about half true and half false; they leave it to the readers to figure out which is which.

Gamelyn Games

Tiny Epic Quest will be released Q3 2017. This is the fifth installment in the Tiny Epic series. It is a puzzle type game, reminiscent of the old RPG video games e.g. Zelda and Dragon Quest. It features ITEMeeples, which are configurable meeples. You can equip the meeples with items such as swords, staffs, shields, etc. The puzzle aspect comes into play with quest cards, each with some map configuration that players need to meet with their colored ITEMeeples. If successful, the player gains the quest card, which is worth victory points plus an item to equip or some advantage. Points may also be gained from slaying goblins, learning spells, and acquiring legendary items. The player with the most points at the end of five rounds is the winner.



Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea will be launching on Kickstarter on January 26, 2017. This is a 4X game, with elements of area control, resource management, and engine building. It is Gamelyn Games first game with miniatures - lots of miniatures! In some ways it's the "grownup" version of Tiny Epic Kingdoms.

Fun Fact: When CEO and founder Michael Coe had to come up with the name of his company, he knew exactly what he wanted to use. During his junior high/high school years, he was dungeon master for the RPGs he ran, but more than that he loved creating worlds. So he made up his own scenarios, featuring an NPC he named Gamelyn. This became his moniker; as he grew older, he wrote about the character in a screenplay created in film school, and finally used it as the name of his company.

USAopoly

USAopoly is mainly a licensing company.

Munchkin: X-Men edition was just announced. It is due to come out in March 2017. Takes place in Marvel's X-Men universe. The game will include 128 cards, 4 role cards with plastic trackers, and a die. Each player will take on the role of a character.

Fun Fact: Their first game, 23 years ago, was La Jolla Monopoly.

Bonus Fun Fact: The Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle game has ages 11+ on the box because that is the age First Year students are allowed to attend Hogwarts.

—Broken Token

Broken Token makes lovely wooden organizers for game boxes. The perfectly fitting inserts even hold the upgraded pieces, such as those shown for Scythe below.


Greg Spence, Broken Token, showing Scythe box organizer


Castle Productions

Succession! was released October 2016. It is a 10-minute card game that plays up to six people, using a rock-paper-scissors mechanism. It is not a party game, but bluffing and memory are involved. The small size makes it really portable.

Fun Fact: Succession is based on a German game that CEO Dave Ferguson's girlfriend really enjoyed. He considers it his love-letter to her.

Two Lanterns Games

Agility was released in May 2016. It is a two-player game about adopting and training dogs to run agility courses. It uses an action rondel. The card you play on your turn moves the action marker on the rondel, landing on the action you perform and giving you a training resource(s) (choice of two types). There is also a drafting element to the game when choosing courses (each player will draft three during the game, out of six). The first player to complete their courses wins the game.

An expansion to Morels, to commentate the fifth anniversary of the game, is being planned for Kickstarter in early 2017 to be released in late 2017. They are planning to add action cards, character cards, and some additional means to manipulate the forest(s).

Fun Fact: One of the cards in Agility features a living room, decorated for Christmas, with a puppy in a gift basket. It was Two Lanterns Games President Brent Povis' unrealized dream gift as a child. He gave the artist a photo of his living room and the scene come to life in the art.



Trader's Luck Games

Star Traders will be released early 2017. The game got its start as a Steve Jackson first and only release in their Asimov line. It is a pick up and deliver game, reminiscent of Merchant of Venus, with a streamlined board and duel purpose cards. Anyone can pick up a particular good but the first person to deliver gets extra points for each person they beat. There will be one contract per player available during the game, when one gets filled another replaces it. There are 5 actions on a turn, tracked by dice (which is also what is rolled when you decide to move). There are also Personality cards that give abilities to each player.

Fun Fact: The names of the worlds in Star Traders are creator/company President David Ladyman's favorite sci-fi authors. There are also a lot of other references to sci-fi fiction, including movies and TV. Ryan Archer, the graphic designer, drew images for the back of the money denominations as follows:
1 features a play-tester, Lucas Coyne (also the name of the 1)
2 shows a dragon, honoring Dragon's Lair store in Texas (play-testers)
5 professor Meeple, from the Malted Meeple store in Ohio (play-testers)
10 coin name is Marty, honoring the designer's wife (Martha)
20 Zelda, the graphic designer's dog, is featured
Steve Jackson and a few others are featured on the cards as Personalities.


North Star Games

Evolution: Climate was released November 2016. It is a big-box standalone game that introduces climate into the ecosystem. This is a gamer's game, a heavier game in the realm of Terra Mystica or Agricola weight-wise. It is a conflict driven game (predators), very rich in theme. The concept is adaption - staying one step ahead of changes.

A super hero themed version of Wits & Wagers is planned to be on Kickstarter in March 2017. Each player will have a superhero/villain, with two minions and a superpower that affects game play in some way. For example the Wizard of Odds can switch around two odds after everyone has placed their bets.



Concept drawings for Super Hero Wits (working title)


Fun Fact: Evolution is currently being used at the University of Oxford in an evolutionary biology class. Four scientific advisors and nine game developers helped in the design of Climate.

Game Salute

Shadowrift, the updated second edition, was released at BGG.CON. This is a fully updated version including new artwork, streamlined rules, and now a board, which makes setup much easier. Some of the cards have also been tweaked, e.g., rules clarifications and keyword updates.

Black Orchestra was released at BGG.CON. It is a historically accurate cooperative game based on the plot to kill Hitler. Each player character was based on an actual person and member of the conspiracy. The game plays out over seven rounds, each of which has an event deck containing events based on actual occurrences. Players need to monitor their suspicion and motivation levels in order to pull off plots to wipe out the Nazi leader and his deputies by collecting items and cards.



Fun Fact: Cody Jones, Project Manager: "Black Orchestra was called 'Hitler Must Die' until very late in the game's development, becoming 'Black Orchestra' only weeks before the game was officially announced."

Vile Genius Games

Thwarted! is due to be released end of January 2017. It is a card game where players each take on the roll of a super villain whose goal is to take out the superheroes. Each super hero has a box of requirements, in the upper left corner of the card, for capturing them. For example, two fire cards may take out a particular superhero. A superhero may have immunities, e.g. to cold cards. The interesting twist is that if another player plays a block card to stop them from attacking, the attacking player gains the block card, which gains them an advantage in the game.

Tales from the Taverns: Legends of Goblins Past, is currently on Kickstarter, with a planned release of August 2017. Each player gets two actions per turn: play a card on their play mat, draw two cards, pay a gold to get a bardic talent (i.e. extra win conditions for victory points), or beg for gold. Players start with a hand of five cards (they must use an action to acquire more). They are building a tableau grid of four stories, each with three parts (hook, rising action, climax) plus an epic card (this is automatic when a story is completed). Stories may be interrupted by other players. A deck of 10 candle cards is built at the start of the game to track rounds. There are four versions of each card. Candle cards may have good or bad events on them, such as all expenses are doubled this round or no interrupts may be played this round. The game ends after 10 rounds; the player with the highest score wins.

Fun Fact: Lyft and Uber have a group of "prestigious members" (informally named the Rideshare Brotherhood by Stephan Brissaud, Vice President of GAMA and COO of iELLO). It includes Mark Siemens, CEO of Vile Genius Games, and Jeff Bourbeau, freelance developer and designer (a literal Jack-of-All-Trades).


Mark Sierens, Uber driver on Halloween


Catan Studio

Legends of the Searobbers (working title) is a scenario-based campaign-like expansion containing three modules for Catan: Seafarers. Games evolve as they are played, e.g., characters you acquire in one scenario you can keep with you for the next scenario. Scenarios are heavily objective based and depending on how a scenario evolves may change how the next one is played. Each has a different board set-up for Catan with Seafarers, with new components. The game is due to be released Q2 2017.

Fun Fact: The Crop Trust is an international organization whose goal is to safeguard crop diversity by maintaining a vault of seeds and banks throughout the world. Catan Studio is working with the Crop Trust to create Catan scenario for the base game with "pro-seeds" to go to the Crop Trust.



Grey Fox Games

London Dread had a limited release in August 2016, with a full release November 2016 (the 2nd printing expected December 2016). It is a Victorian era cooperative horror game with elements of real-time programming. The publisher describes it as Arkham Horror meets Space Alert. Each player is an investigator participating in a story where they are attempting to defeat an antagonist. There are four stories in the box, creating one encompassing story arc. The stories are highly re-playable.

Champions of Midgard: Valhalla, an expansion for Champions of Midgard, is due to be released Q1 2017. It adds a new dice type, new cards, new monsters, a new leader, and two new boards, one of which allows players to fight new monsters, the other which allows players to upgrade their Viking clan or Viking leader, creating asymmetry between players.

Fun Fact: In London Dread there is a dread card called The Black Cat. It is more powerful than a cat has any right to be. Initially the difficulty stat was a misprint, but the designer decided to keep it as a way to troll the developer.



Looney Labs

Pyramid Arcade released November 2016. It contains 22 games: 20 designed by Andrew Looney, 1 by Kristin Looney, and 1 by John Cooper. The game contains 90 pyramids (3 trios of 10 different colors) - the largest set of pyramids to date. It contains 8 mini game boards, 1 folding game board, 2 deluxe plastic game boards, 9 dice, 3 various decks of cards, 1 drawstring bag, a turn token, and a large colorful rulebook. One of the decks of cards has one card per game, each with a short description, picture, and summary of game attributes - simple/medium/complex, fast/medium/long, number of player, and time to play. It makes it easy to select a game to play.



Better with Bacon, an expansion pack to Just Desserts, has a planned release of January 2017. It is a set collection game. You win by collecting 3 suits (colors) or 5 different colors of "customers" that you attract by fulfilling their orders. Better with Bacon adds a new suit (brown); it is a 10 card pack with both new desserts and new customers.

Fun Fact: Kristin, Andy, Andy's brother Richard, a family friend Gina, and customer service person Alison are all featured on customer cards in Just Desserts. At LooneyCon, their first convention held in July 2016, they had a Just Desserts Cosplay Contest where people were asked to dress as characters from the game. Alison dressed as her character, Nature Girl, but lost to a very young girl also portraying Nature Girl.

Black Locust Games

(Information provided by Casey Willett, Black Locust Games)

The Opulent was released in November 2016. The Opulent is a 1-4 player cooperative game set during 1920's prohibition. Each player operates a station of the speakeasy that has a separate mini-game and mechanisms from the rest of the stations (Doorman, Band, Bar, Club Manager). Together, these stations try to provide a night of glitz and glamour to visiting patrons in hopes of parting them from their hard earned money, all the while trying to avoid drawing the attention of federal prohibition agents that are tasked with shutting down the club. The goal is to have enough money at the end of the game to pay for operating costs so that you can stay in business. The game includes 10 scenarios spanning 1920-1929, which can be played as individual gaming sessions or linked together as a progressive campaign.

Fun fact: All The Opulent patrons are named after the great grandparents of each model [who posed for the game art] as a way of honoring the family lineages that lived during the highs and lows of the roaring 20's!

Nawakwa is slated for a Q1 2017 Kickstarter launch. It is a 2-4 player game where players are young members of a native American Indian tribe on their first hunt as a trial of manhood. Players turn in a set of cards in exchange for a hunting opportunity card from the various animals that can be hunted in the region. Totems can be found in the hunting region, which grant players additional information about the region or give other abilities. Wild cards make turning in sets easier but also accelerate the progression of winter, which ends the game. Once all the animals have migrated or hibernated out of the region, points are tallied and the player with the highest score wins.

Fun fact: Translated, Nawakwa means "in the middle of the forest."

5th Dimension Games, Inc.

(Information provided by Mitchell Whittier, Marketing and Sales, 5th Dimension Games, Inc.)

Budō is a mixed martial arts card game that challenges each player to manage a dojo of martial arts skills while striving to knockout their opponent. This side-scrolling turn-based strategic fighting game requires players to adapt their character's mat position and craft a deck of attack and defense skills. Learn to manage a dojo in ten minutes then spend a lifetime mastering the martial way.

The Budō expansion, coming in 2017, will feature Capoeira, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, and Krav Maga. The expansion is designed to play as a stand-alone game or to be integrated with the base game, which contains Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Tae Kwon Do. Whether playing with the expansion, the original or both, Budō provides the opportunity to create a truly mixed martial arts gaming experience. Select your favorite skills from any and all the characters to create a custom mixed martial arts character.

Fun Fact: Karate and Tae Kwon Do feature the images of two of the 5th Dimension Games founders. Andrew Thomasson, game designer, posed for all the Karate skills and Mitchell Whittier, lead play-tester, posed for the Tae Kwon Do moves.

Devir Americas

(Information provided by Adam Growden, Administration Assistant, Devir Americas)

Barcelona: The Rose of Fire will release in January 2017. It is a thematic game in which the players take turns constructing buildings and finishing city blocks over five phases. These buildings all have the ability to employ a different number of workers. The player will compare these workers to the current immigration rate and gain a number of striking workers in the Raval. Workers on strike increase the unrest in the city causing problems for the player who places them there, as well as triggering events that affect everyone in the game. At the end of each phase, players will collect special popularity cards depending on their success in the previous round. These popularity cards contain many famous buildings from Barcelona, such as the Sagrada Familia, which will have special abilities not seen on the base cards. Barcelona is a Euro game with many different moving pieces requiring careful management of worker unrest, player prestige, and long term planning to win.



Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft debuted at Origins in 2016. It is a quick set collection, worker placement game for 2 players, easy to learn but with enough depth and re-playability to keep it interesting. Players take on the roles of Sherlock and Mycroft, collecting investigation tokens to get them the most clues. They use characters from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to help them along the way by providing investigation tokens, ways to find clues, or even ways to steal clues from their opponent. After seven days of investigations, the player with the most clues wins the case.

Fun Fact: During the conception of the original idea behind Barcelona, Devir chose neutral Italian designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello in order to avoid letting the political leanings of local Spanish designers influence the game design process.

Cryptozoic Entertainment

(Information provided by Randall Ford, Cryptozoic Entertainment)

Poker Assault released just before BGG.CON. There are four factions in the game. Each team has its own custom suit theme and artwork. Play any deck versus any other deck, or even 3- and 4-player variants. Several cards in each deck have bonus abilities that can aid you while assaulting your opponent, or defending against an assault. Additionally, if you can craft a Straight, Flush, Full House, or Four-of-a-Kind, you will earn a Power Card. These unique cards give you new strategies to pursue. With your initial hand of five cards, likely you aren't going to have much of a poker hand. But by playing only one card at a time, and drawing a new card from your deck after each play, you can slowly build up to something great. How great depends upon how risky you want to get. Craft a hand of at least a pair, and your assault is underway. Now your opponent must block your cards using the cards in their hand. The defending player likewise plays only one card at a time and draws a card from their deck after each play. To block an assaulting card, match the value (2 to Ace) or play a card of the same suit (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade), but with a higher value. Each assaulting card that gets through knocks your opponent's hit points down by one. Bring your opponent's health to zero to win.



Spyfall 2 has a planned release of Q1 2017. It is an easy-to-learn card game of bluffing, questions, answers, and suspicion. At the start of each round, players receive a secret card letting them know where they are; except one player receives the Spy card instead of a location. The Spy doesn't know where he is, but wins the round if he can figure it out before he blows his cover. Players then start asking each other questions during the 8-minute rounds. Non-Spy players want to ask questions and give answers that prove to the other players that they know where they are. The Spy will also sometimes be asked questions (just like the other players) and will have to come up with questions without knowing anything about their location. This stand-alone expansion allows for two spies: when one tries to guess their location, the other one takes a guess as well. It also plays up to 12 and includes 20 new locations.



Fun Fact: Randall Ford: "Poker Assault was a game that we had in hand for three years and almost didn't get around to publishing. However when our playtesters kept asking when we were going to publish it, we could tell it had made a big impression on them. So we brought it into the world and based on the response it's been getting, we're glad we did!"

Mayfair Games

(Information provided by Alex Yeager, Mayfair Games)

The Colonists will be available in early January 2017. It is a "worker movement" game in which players walk their stewards from location to location in order to gather goods or perform actions. Players build their community on a personal board over the course of an Era, with an Era lasting ten game turns. The game can run multiple hours in its full four-Era version, but you can break up the game and only play Era 1, or just Eras 2 and 3, with the rules included in the game.

Oh My Goods: Longsdale in Aufruhr (Longsdale in Revolt) will be available in very limited quantities through Mayfair directly, with a general release later in 2017. It builds on the SPIEL hit Oh My Goods! by adding a five-chapter storyline, with each chapter introducing new building and characters into the game. Cards are persistent from chapter to chapter, so your game set grows with each additional story.

Fun Fact: When the prototype for The Colonists was submitted, rather than the four eras that are in the release, there were eight eras for play.

Creative Cove Games

(Information provided by Jack Poon, Founder of Creative Cove Games)

The Depths of Durangrar is a dungeon crawl board game that is played in the dark. Players take on one of two roles, explorer or monster. Explorers light up to only illuminate what is directly in front of them in a 3D modular maze. Explorers compete against one another to be the first to a thousand gold and out of the maze alive. However, while they are competing against each other, another player, the monster player, will be hunting them all down. The monster player is wearing night vision goggles so they can see the whole maze. The monster remains concealed in the darkness. All players use action points to move around the maze, collect gold and attack one another. Combat works using dice with consecutive attacks becoming increasingly difficult to pull off. Players can also choose how to setup of their unique explorers and monsters' abilities, strength, and health to create different strategies.

The Depths of Durangrar was launched on Kickstarter in May 2016 and is currently planned to be delivered in May 2017.



Fun fact: Jack Poon, "The Depths of Durangrar originally started off as a cooperative horror-movie-like game where the explorers were a group of friends trapped in a horror mansion and had to find their way out. They had to choose to split up to cover more ground and be easy targets for the monster or stay together to better fight the monster but ultimately be worn down by the mansion. Unfortunately, early play tests proved that this wasn't as fun as I pictured and the game quickly evolved into a dungeon crawler."

Indie Boards & Cards

Aeon's End was pre-released at BGG.CON, with a planned release in December 2016. This is a cooperative fantasy deck building game in which players are mages, the last bastions of society, as the world has been destroyed by monsters. There is a twist to the deck building aspect - the cards do not get shuffled, but rather are flipped back over in their current order to be played.

Kodama: The Tree Spirits, 2nd edition is due to be released in December 2016.

Fun Fact: The designer of Aeon's End, Kevin Riley, was a professional gamer for Star Craft.

The Highlight of the Convention...

There is so much going on that it's hard to pick a favorite, but I think for me it was playing the Middle Earth CCG with lead designer Coleman Charlton and hubby Ravindra Prasad (a.k.a. Snoozefest). Coleman kindly brought along his cards, maps, dice, and hobbit pawns; he was very patient teaching us the game again (we learned it years ago). It was a privilege to play with him as well as a reminder of how wonderful the game is.


Coleman Charlton (L) and Ravindra Prasad (R) playing Middle Earth CCG


Be sure to stop by again for part two of the BGG.CON 2016 Wrap-Up!
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New Game Round-up: Fighting Aliens, Adventurers and Freaks, Then Waking in a Coma Ward

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Andrew Parks, designer of Core Worlds and co-designer of Star Trek: Attack Wing, has a new title coming from his own Quixotic Games in 2017, a big game for 1-4 players that takes 1-3 hours to play. Here's a rundown of Dungeon Alliance, which Parks plans to launch on Kickstarter in January 2017:

Quote:
In the days before the Void consumed much of the Old World, there were stalwart humans, elves, dwarves, and gnomes who banded together to invade the deep places of the earth. These heroes forged unbreakable alliances in search of knowledge, treasure, and glory. Rival adventuring parties would often descend into the same dungeon, and these companies fought one another as fiercely as they battled the monsters that lurked behind every dark corner. 'These were daring times, when nothing in the world was considered more sacred than the oath that bound those who shared the dangers of the pit together. This was the age of the Dungeon Alliance.

Dungeon Alliance is a deck-building, dungeon-crawling miniatures adventure game that allows players to send 1-4 different teams of adventurers into perilous dungeons in search of experience and treasure. At the start of the game, each player drafts their own team of four heroes (from the 17 included in the game) and uses tactical movement and card play to overcome the dungeon's monsters and treasures. Each player starts with a unique twelve-card starting deck that includes the starting cards from all four of their heroes.

Rival teams may compete with one another to slay monsters, or even battle one another for complete domination. As each team of heroes overcomes monsters and challenges, they earn experience point (XP) tokens that they can spend to purchase new cards for their alliance decks. Once spent, XP tokens are flipped face down and kept until the end of the game. When the sun greets those who emerge from the pit, the alliance that has accrued the most XP claims the mantle of victory.

• Another title hitting Kickstarter in the first half of 2017 is Danny Lott's Coma Ward from Everything Epic Games, with this design taking you into unexplored spaces that you would be happy never to contemplate in real life:

Quote:
Sterile, blinding whiteness — coupled with deafening, repetitious beeps — shocks you awake. Your heart rate slows and your breathing steadies as you realize you are in a hospital. You glance around, finding your room empty. You read your identifying armband to see a name you don't recognize. As your bare feet smack to the cold tile floor and you steady your wobbling body, you feel the foreign presence of absence. You are alone…

In Coma Ward, players are patients who have awoken in an abandoned, yet still functioning hospital with no memory and no idea of what is happening. Patients must search the hospital for clues and necessities. In their search, patients may find unspeakably terrifying things.

Each time you play, you explore an ever-changing hospital as you search for the clues to your identity and the cause of the environment's unsettling emptiness. Balance your ever worsening terror and neurosis while monitoring your health and physical attributes. Remember to stay close to those who awoke with you because the shadows of the empty hospital can destroy your already fragile psyche. Once all the clues have been discovered, the true horror begins. Players discover what is actually happening and find out who they can trust — if anyone — and how to win.

Each playing is a unique phenomenon that introduces diverse and dynamic rules. Coma Ward is a mature game with themes of violence, absolution, distrust, gore, and traumatic incidence. Player discretion is advised.

• Getting a jump on its planning for SPIEL 2017, Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi has announced three titles with Q4 2017 release dates, starting with the "competitive urban tactical combat board game" Invasion: Free State from Teemu Vilén. In this modular game, 2-4 players compete as alien and resistance factions that head to combat in the suburbs of Annapolis.

Nations: The Dice Game – Unrest by Nina and Rustan Håkansson includes eight new nations and 36 new progress cards for use with the base game, as well as four modules that add new elements to gameplay, such as bonus tiles that are available only in one round, "pass first" tiles that provide more benefits, and green "unrest" dice that can make rolling more hazardous.

Max Wikström's Space Freaks has you compete against up to three other players in arena combat with a team that you've assembled on your own, possibly one body part at a time. An overview:

Quote:
In Space Freaks, you are team manager of one of the fighting teams sponsored by powerful megacorporations. Your task is to combine different body parts to design the perfect freak, then lead your team of freaks to victory. The arena is controlled by the arena master, who each turn changes the conditions in the arena. To succeed, you need to complete tasks given to you by the viewers — or just destroy the other freaks and their base. But don't worry because in Space Freaks everyone wins, either by managing the winning team or by becoming a (body)part of the next winning team!

In more detail, during the game you build your own freaks, one body part at a time, in addition to building turrets, bunkers and droids to aid your team. Your team sponsor might also aid you in the form of items, special actions, or even alien marauders. You score points during play by fulfilling tasks given to your team by the viewers, killing competing freaks, destroying an opposing base, or controlling the center of the arena.


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Fri Dec 9, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Constructing Highways, Erecting Pyramids, Snapping Pics, and ReCURRRing Cards

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I have failed in my attempt to create a convention preview for the Tokyo Game Market on December 11, 2016, starting the list in late October following SPIEL 2016 but then getting busy with coverage of that convention and other things. That said, I have added a few titles to the TGM Preview — and to the BGG database in general — so let's look at them:

• The designers at Saien, a.k.a., Team Saien, have what they described to me at TGM in May 2016 as a somewhat more intricate and involved Abluxxen — and given my love of Abluxxen — I was intrigued. We played a couple of rounds on the prototype at TGM, and it was like learning Abluxxen all over again as I had no concept of what I was doing and which cards were going where and what I might be playing into and how to close the deal when I had only a few cards left in hand. In short, I loved it and am bummed to be missing out on TGM this time, but them's the breaks.

In any case, here's a rough overview of the gameplay in ReCURRRing:

Quote:
In ReCURRRing, players try to get rid of cards in hand. The deck consists of 57 cards: one 1, two 2s, etc. up to nine 9s, along with a dozen Rs; with fewer then five players, some of these cards are removed from play. A 1 is the strongest single card, but any pair beats a single with two 2s being the highest pair; Rs are the weakest cards.

After dealing out the deck, the starting player lays out a single card. The next player can pass (in which case they're out for the remainder of the round) or they can play one or two cards that rank higher than what was played; if they do, they take the previously played card(s) in hand. Each subsequent player can either pass or play a higher set of cards of cards, but a set that includes at most one card more than what was played most recently. Once all players pass, the cards in the center are removed from play, and whoever played most recently leads in the new round.

When a player runs out of cards, the round ends. Players play multiple rounds until a player reaches the target score.




• Speaking of Saien, an older game of theirs — Dazzle — will be published in a new edition in Q2/Q3 2017 by Pegasus Spiele, which in 2016 republished Saien's Khmer as Elements. In the two-player game Dazzle, players each receive a deck of 18 cards, with the cards each having value 1-3 in one of four suits. On a turn, a player picks two cards from their hand and shows them to their opponent. The opponent keeps one of these cards for themself, while the other cards is placed in a points pile for that suit. When players run out of cards in their decks — and not all cards are used in each game — whoever has the highest score in a suit collects all of the points for that suit. Whoever has the highest score wins.

• Not reading Japanese doesn't stop me from gamely trying to figure out what might be going on in a design, as with Tokyo Highway from designers Naotaka Shimamoto and Yoshiaki Tomioka and their new publishing brand itten. Here's what I've got:

Quote:
In Tokyo Highway, players compete to place all of their cars on the road — but to do that they will first have to build the roadways!

Over the course of the game, players will construct columns of varying heights by using the 66 squat cylinders in the box, then connect those columns with sticks that serve as roadways, with the columns not necessarily being the same height when connected. Once you have a highway, you can possibly place one of your ten cars on it.




Wind the Film! from designer Saashi of publisher Saashi & Saashi has chosen a great base on which to build a game, something specific to history that I can't recall seeing used before, yet also something that ties together well with the mechanisms of the game — at least as far as I can tell given what I've been able to figure out. Here are the basics:

Quote:
Time to walk about town and take some pictures! It's the 1960s in Japan, and you have a half-size camera that lets you take half-size vertical pictures. Let's see whether you can put together good shots...

In Wind the Film!, you're trying to organize pictures on your roll so that they appear in the right order. Each player has a hand of cards, and on a turn, you'll add 1-3 cards to the front of your hand (without changing their order), move one card in your hand closer to the front, then discard as many cards from the back of your hand as the number of cards that you added. When the sunset card comes out, you can take no more pictures, and everyone scores for what's on their camera.

The cards all have numbers and colors on them, and you try to line them up in hand to score the most points possible.




• Given the release of Insider at SPIEL 2016, I hadn't expected another title from Oink Games in time for TGM, but Oink's own Jun Sasaki has delivered The Pyramid's Deadline, which like every other title in this section has an abbreviated description:

Quote:
In ancient Egypt, the king has ordered architects to his side. "Construct a glorious tomb for this eagle, and I will give a reward to whoever has created the largest tomb. Fail to complete the tomb by the time that the eagle dies, however, and it's the death penalty for you on the spot."

Your challenge in The Pyramid's Deadline is to create a tomb larger than any other player's without getting so greedy that you'll be rewarded with death instead. This game combines puzzles, bargaining, and pieces rolled on die that you'll use to build pyramids.


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Thu Dec 8, 2016 1:00 pm
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Restoration Games to Release New Versions of Stop Thief, Top Race and Dragonmaster

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In mid-2016, designer Rob Daviau and attorney/designer Justin D. Jacobson joined forces to create Restoration Games, a publisher dedicated to taking games released from the 1960s through the 1990s, updating them to match modern game design standards, and re-releasing the games on today's market.

On Dec. 7, 2016, Restoration Games announced the first three titles that have been buffed up for gamers both nostalgic and new, with these titles scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2017. The highlight, at least in my eyes, is a new version of Robert Doyle's Stop Thief, first released by Parker Brothers in 1979 when I was eleven years old, a tween in spirit if not in actuality since the word didn't exist at that time.

The gist of the game is that you are all detectives who must catch a thief, but initially you know of the thief's presence only through the sounds emitted by an included electronic device. You hear alarms go off, glass breaking, footsteps across the floor: boop, boop, boop. You roll dice to move across the game board to try to catch sight of the thief, which is determined by you indicating your location in the device and the device giving you some kind of feedback. If you catch the thief, who will keep robbing as long as possible, you collect a reward; be the first to collect enough money and you win.

I ran into Daviau playtesting the updated version of Stop Thief at BGG.CON 2016, and he showed off some features of the app that they're using in place of the electronic device. This version of the game will include new modes of play, variable suspect effects, and individual movement decks to replace the dice that you used to curse when you failed to catch the thief over and over again due to poor rolls. Yes, poor rolls — that's my excuse.


Cover of the original release and logo for the new version


When a game designer discovers a solid game system, they tend to rework it again and again to deliver twists on a familiar design or to create something better based on what they've learned. Wolfgang Kramer's Tempo — his first published design in 1974 — is one such example. In that game, players were presented with six colored columns and a matching pawn at the base of each column; players also had a hand of cards, with each card showing some of the colors and a number or symbol by each color. During the game, a player would play a card and advance all of the pawns that matched the colors on that card by the indicated number of spaces. Before play started, however, players placed secret bets on which colors they thought would reach the top of the columns first, and players won money based on how well those bets paid off.

Hardly anyone knows Tempo given that the game is more than forty years old and, shall we say, less than aesthetically appealing, but Kramer has reworked this system multiple times, starting with the release of Niki Lauda's Formel 1 in 1980. Yes, a game that used racing as a mechanism wisely became a game themed around racing. More importantly players now bid for ownership of the cars that would participate in the race. No longer were you simply moving a pawn; you became a race car driver and put your own money at stake to express confidence in how you'd do. What's more, thanks to the evolution of the game board from six separate tracks to a race track that narrowed and widened, players could use their movement points to choke out others from moving, thereby wasting movement for a race car that had ended up in someone else's hands. Good stuff! Formel 1 Nürburgring, Daytona 500, Top Race, and Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix are all evolutions of that card-based racing system.

Restoration Games' version of the system — Downforce, a racing term that indicates a vehicle's negative lift, i.e., the force pushing it onto the ground to create better traction — has been created by Daviau going through all of the different variants over the years to create what the press release dubs "the most fun version possible". Players are also promised "component quality befitting its pedigree".




The final game in Restoration's intro trilogy is game #2 in the BGG database: G. W. D'Arcey's Dragonmaster, a trick-taking card game from 1981in which the dealer each round would declare what the contract was for that particular hand, e.g., "Dragonlords" in which you wanted to take no Dragonlords cards or "First and Last" in which you were penalized for taking those two tricks. Five different contracts existed in the game, and once you chose a contract as dealer, you couldn't choose it again when next you dealt.

Dragonmaster was based on the French game Barbu from the 1930s, and the new version titled Indulgence will be a game of "papal intrigue" set during the Italian Renaissance with twenty different contracts being included.


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Wed Dec 7, 2016 7:00 pm
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Game Overview: Tintas, or Five Easy Pieces (and Two That Are Much Harder to Get)

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Abstract strategy games don't get a great deal of coverage in this space, not because I dislike them — this is true only in Bizarro World — but because it's hard to talk about them in any detail. They typically have no story, no setting, no world in which the action takes place, which means that the "action" all boils down to the movement of this piece or that over a (usually quite attractive) game board. Sure, you can say the same for all kinds of non-abstract strategy games, but it's easier to riff on diseases and zombies and fairies that collect bugs in atriums and pineapple slices being placed on ham sandwiches so that's what I spend most of my time doing.

That said, here I am now talking about Dieter Stein's Tintas, which debuted from German publisher Clemens Gerhards at SPIEL 2016. The publisher, also known as Gerhards Spiel und Design, releases nothing other than wooden games and puzzles, with these items having a fairly high price tag on them. Under one such title on BGG's SPIEL 2016 Preview, a user wrote, "Maybe the picture doesn't show all components, but 20 cones and a board for 45€? Is that correct?" Yes, indeed it is. Their titles aren't for everyone — honestly, which game is? — but the market for such specialty items definitely exists, something I learned in the early 1990s when I worked in a game store selling exquisite chess sets and beautiful wooden backgammon sets that retailed for hundreds of dollars. The game market is a diverse beast, and one should not assume that one's tastes (and budget) are universally applicable.

Tintas has a straightforward goal — collect all seven pieces of one color to win — but naturally this goal is complicated by your opponent doing the exact same thing. Each piece or set of pieces that you take allows the other player to respond in kind, and if you're stopping them from collecting the final pieces they need, well, then you're probably not collecting what you want. Lots to ponder in this quick-playing game!


In the week since I recorded this video, I realized that I had forgotten to cover one topic, namely the breakdown of how someone won the game. If no one collects all seven pieces of one color, then the winner is the player who collects at least four pieces of each of at least four colors. The game includes seven pieces of seven colors, so if all of the pieces are removed from the board — that is, if no one wins instantly by bogarting a color — then someone will win through majorities, and this secondary goal is always present in your mind.

In practice, over a dozen games the breakdown of wins has been about even between collecting all and collecting most. The threat of an opponent grabbing the last couple of tokens they need for the instant win is always forefront in mind. Those locations become hot spots on the game board, glowing in your mind with giant Xs across them as you try to figure out how to use the opponent's desire for those tokens against them. Can you lure that player to do something that looks helpful to them while actually setting you up for a better position in the long run? The answer to that question partly depends on what you've already collected since the opponent has a few glowing Xs of their own, and those intersecting landmine maps light up the tension on the board, driving you to avoid disaster and aim for the security of most, but sometimes you take the wrong step and everything ends with a bang...
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Wed Dec 7, 2016 2:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Gloom Beyond Earth, Balloons Beyond Their Capacity, and Grossness Beyond Belief

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• Time and space mean nothing to the power of gloom as is evidenced by Atlas Games' plan to release the latest addition to Keith Baker's Gloom empire — Gloom in Space — in January 2017. Yes, with Gloom in Space, which is both a standalone game and an expansion to any other Gloom title, now you can take familiar SF characters to the stars where they will suffer and perish just like everyone else in life.

• Tim Puls' The Colonists, which debuted at SPIEL 2016 in October from Lookout Games, will be available in the U.S. on January 12, 2017, according to co-publisher Mayfair Games.

Mercury Games expects to have the new version of Martin Wallace's Princes of the Renaissance out in U.S. stores by December 21, 2016, but notes Mercury's Kevin Nesbitt, "Because of an under-production error at the factory, we ended up with only half as many copies as we expected for retail." Nesbitt says that more copies of the game should be available in early 2017, but if you want one now, you had best preorder to reserve one.

Board&Dice plans to release a deck-building, area-control card game from Tides of Time's Kristian Čurla at SPIEL 2017. No other details announced right now.

Balloon Pop! from Andy Van Zandt and Tasty Minstrel Games is a press your luck dice-roller due out in early 2017. Here's how to play:

Quote:
In Balloon Pop!, each player has a scoresheet with six columns on it. On a turn, you roll three dice, with each die face showing a balloon color and a shape, then record the results by circling numbers from the bottom of the column, going up. The highest number you circle in a column equals the points that you score.

Not happy with your results? Then roll again with any number of dice — but you have to roll an additional die as well, which means you'll circle more results on your scoresheet. You can reroll a second time as well to add a fifth die to your results. This (possibly) gives you better control over the results, while helping you ascend the columns more quickly to higher potential scores.

However, at the top of each column is a different colored number that's much lower than the numbers immediately below it. Hit this number, and your balloon's popped because it went too high. What's more, this popping triggers a scoring break that occurs at the end of the round, with everyone scoring based on their current heights in the columns. You want to go high, but don't trigger the break or else your points will plummet right before scoring.

After three breaks, players total their scores to see who wins.

• Tasty Minstrel Games has announced December 7, 2016 release dates for four titles that it debuted in its line at BGG.CON 2016: The Oracle of Delphi, At the Gates of Loyang, Ponzi Scheme, and Ars Alchimia. The TMG version of Reiner Knizia's Amun-Re is due out in early 2017, with Kramer and Lübke's Colosseum due to hit retail in Q1 2017.

• What's the hottest and most repulsive trend in the game industry? Games in which players stick in a mouthguard, then attempt to say things and have others guess what they're saying. As a long-time opponent of advertising that features people with food in their mouths — for goodness' sake, people, chew with your mouth closed! — I must register my disappointment, although I expect the lifespan of these titles won't last three weeks beyond the 2016 holiday season, so they should vanish from shelves before too long.

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Tue Dec 6, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Overview: Jeju Island, or Walking the Beach and Picking Up Souvenirs

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I first saw Jeju Island, then called only Jeju, in 2014 in a crowdfunding campaign on Korean site Tumblbug, with designers Gary Kim, Yeon-Min Jung, and Jun-Hyup Kim trying to fund the publication of this game and two others — Bigside and Alice's Mad Burger Party — at the same time.

I wanted to back the project, partly because I love Gary Kim's Koryŏ and partly because I love getting something that's a mystery to me when I open the box. I almost never want to pick up games set in space or in fantasy worlds or in the Wild West, for example, because I already have a pretty good idea of what those games will feature. Sure, those fulfilled expectations are a plus for most people, but I like being surprised. When a new movie is announced by a director I enjoy, I avoid previews and read nothing about the movie because I know that I'm going to see it and I want to experience the newness of the movie in the theater itself rather than seeing bits of film repeated over and over again, then seeing them in context and going, "Oh, yeah, that bit."

But I wasn't sure whether the games would include English rules or how to pay in won, so inertia won out and the project ended and that was that — until Happy Baobab picked up the now-titled Play Jeju and released it at SPIEL 2015, where I recorded an overview video. Australian publisher Grail Games then picked it up for wider release in English, and now Jeju Island is everywhere, while of course still being in Korea as an actual place that folks can visit to carry out this game's actions in real life.

My Korean exchange student was quite surprised when I showed her the game as she had not expected to see Korean games or games showcasing parts of Korean life while visiting the U.S. It's nice to think about such things making their way around the world, giving us all a taste at home of places we might never see otherwise.

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Mon Dec 5, 2016 1:00 pm
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Plans for 2017 — What Do You Want to See?

W. Eric Martin
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I had originally intended to publish my SPIEL 2016 unpacking pictorial today, but I forgot to move its publication date when I queued the recent links round-up, so instead I double-posted on Saturday and have nothing for today. Helaas, pindakaas.

Rather than leave this calendar slot empty, however, let's make something out of nothing, specifically by looking ahead to 2017. December has no gaming events (as far as BGG coverage is concerned), so I'm using this month to clear out still-unpublished pictures and videos from the 2016 conventions I attended (assuming these items are still relevant), stockpile new game overview videos (while trying to improve my presentation and editing skills), plan for convention coverage in 2017, and figure out how to cover what needs to be covered without going loopy.

These latter two items are the hardest since the number of games keeps escalating each year. Chad Krizan and I have been pondering since at least 2014 when the bubble will break, but that's a conversation for another time — and even if the number of new titles were cut in half, I still couldn't cover all of the games that I'd want to feature. We live in an age of rich gaming choices, with more to play than we can get to the table, and while that's good for us as players, I can't just work faster to cover more games in the same amount of time. Instead I need to determine what deserves the most attention from me, while trying to enlist help to make sure that the database entries and convention previews are still taken care of.

We're already planning our usual trip to Spielwarenmesse at the start of February in order to film 80-100 game preview videos. Two weeks after that I'll hit NY Toy Fair for 1.5 days to fly through the Javits Center and pick out titles from the mainstream offerings. One week after that, I plan to visit Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, France to see what that show is like. We've never been to Cannes, so I have no idea what to expect, making this a scouting expedition to discover what's there and see whether we should bring more BGG bodies in the future. Two weeks after that is the GAMA Trade Show, and by that point we'll be starting to think about Origins, Gen Con, and SPIEL in more detail.

With that in mind, what do you want to see more of in this space? What can you do without? What would you want to see from our convention coverage that we don't do now? What can you tell me about Cannes? What do you want to see from me?

I already have a long list of suggestions for the convention preview format, both from users and from my own experience in creating the previews, so I don't need much to think about along those lines. That said, if anyone is interested in helping to assemble convention previews or submit material for this space, please let me know — preferably via email at the address in the BGG News header. Otherwise comment below and help to shape the future!
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Sun Dec 4, 2016 1:00 pm
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Links: Taking Stock of CMON Limited, Flattening Cards, and Reviewing the Women, er, Woman of Conan

W. Eric Martin
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Wow, I haven't done one of these in a long time! Too many games swirling around us, each pecking our eyes for attention and keeping us from looking at other things — until now, that is...

• As of December 2, 2016, CMON Limited is now trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange's Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) with stock code “08278” on Dec. 2, 2016. From the press release announcing this development:

Quote:
Current employees, decision making, and management at the company remains unchanged. The controlling shareholders of CMON also remain the same and are steadfastly committed to the company. Chern Ann Ng, CEO of CMON Limited, explains, "We began laying the groundwork for this to happen in 2014, and this monumental achievement would not have been possible without the herculean efforts of the CMON family and outstanding support from the tabletop gaming community at large."

CMON remains dedicated to giving fans the highest-quality gaming experiences through its retail and distribution partners, as well as Kickstarter. The increased capital from the Public Listing will allow CMON to grow an already amazing team, expand into new geographic markets, and acquire new titles, licenses, and properties that fit into CMON’s growing catalogue.

• Former Asmodee North America employee Cynthia Hornbeck's essay about the Conan board game and the election of Donald Trump — "Grab 'Em by the Board Game" — made waves on Kotaku in an article titled "Former Conan Rep Calls Out Hit Board Game's Depiction Of Women", in which author Cecilia D'Anastasio interviewed Hornbeck and representatives from publisher Monolith. From Hornbeck's essay:

Quote:
This cover, I believe, represents a scene from one of the game's scenarios, in which Conan and his friends must rescue a princess who is about to be sacrificed by the Picts. In that scenario, the princess token/figure is treated exactly as if she were an object. She has no abilities. You can even toss her across the board.

But there's a playable female character in the Conan core set, you say. There’s Belit! Well, her mechanical function is to make the men better. That's literally all she does is follow Conan around and boost his abilities. Because that's what women are good for in this world: being fucked by men and making those men feel good. That's the world that you're choosing to have fun in.

• In an article about overfishing in The National Interest, author Claude Berube uses Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback's Fleet from Eagle-Gryphon Games in his lede:

Quote:
The game ends when there are either no more fishing licenses to distribute or no more tokens of fish to extract from the ocean. Whomever has the most points from licenses, ships and fish, wins. The lost message in the end game is that, contrary to the adage, there are not plenty of fish in the sea. Fleet demonstrates the issue global overfishing, the potential for conflict over diminishing resources, and how non-state navies may have the answer to this security issue.

Minus points, though, for the use of "whomever" and the comma before "wins".

Gavan Brown and Roxley Games are featured in city lifestyle magazine Avenue Calgary:

Quote:
Together with a small team of like-minded board game enthusiasts, Brown and Roxley Games have so far created three high-quality, engaging games, spawning a loyal fan base that put their money where their "meeples" (pieces that represent the player in-game) are. Through Kickstarter, Roxley's second game, Steampunk Rally, raised $237,215 on a $42,000 goal, and their latest, Santorini, raised more than $700,000 on an $85,000 goal...

Santorini, a strategy game where gods compete to get their followers first atop their temple, is set to launch in early 2017, and has already caught the eye of major retailers. Roxley's Steampunk Rally, a machine-building tile and dice game, is now sold in more than 600 Barnes and Nobles stores in the U.S.

• What happens when you apply 90,000 pounds of pressure to a deck of cards? You cut the deck — into tiny, tiny pieces.

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Sat Dec 3, 2016 1:00 pm
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Unpacking from SPIEL: How to Double Your Games in Minutes!

W. Eric Martin
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After SPIEL 2015, I posted a video that showed how I had nested boxes inside one another to save space when shipping them back to the U.S. I had shipped games home that year since I was traveling in Europe after the convention, but following SPIEL 2016 I brought (almost) everything home with me, which meant that I needed to nest and nest again in order to make them fit. I did ship a few games to Dallas for pick-up at BGG.CON 2016 as I still couldn't fit everything into two suitcases and one backpack, but I did a decent job of it, so I thought I'd share a few pics in case you want advice for your future convention trips.

To start, here's the initial stack of games that I took out of my suitcases and backpack:




Some publishers make it easy for you to pack because they're also making it easy for themselves. What I mean by that is that larger publishers typically use standard box sizes for their game titles: all card games come in this box, all €10 games come in this box, all €20 games in this box, and so on. They standardize their packaging for multiple reasons, such as making it easier for retailers to display certain games together.

One benefit of this, as shown here, is that the small rectangular Pegasus Spiele box fills exactly half the space of a medium rectangular Pegasus Spiele box. Once I punched the components of Chariot Race — thereby lightening that game's weight — I had plenty of space to fit those two smaller Pegasus games inside.




Dicetree Games' new version of Winner's Circle features a perfectly organized insert (as shown at right) that holds every item in a separate space to keep stuff locked into place during shipping and later travel.

Naturally I threw it out. When I can either pay €100 to ship an extra bag home or throw out an insert, the insert is finding a new home in the plastic-recycling bins that are ever-present in Germany. I'll manage just fine with baggies later, thank you very much.




You have a few basic tenets when Tetrising games following a convention:

• Punch out and baggie all components. You might not save much weight with each individual game, but when you have several dozen games, you'll reduce the weight by a non-negligible amount — and should you be bringing home something like A Feast for Odin, you might knock a kilogram out of your bag via that box alone!

Aside from the weight, you also regain volume; four punchboards might be reduced to a couple of bags that will fit on the side of other games in the available space, as seen here with the bits from Pecunia non olet nestled up against at least three other games.




• Large square boxes, a.k.a. your typical KOSMOS box, can be a bane or blessing. Zoch Verlag's Kilt Castle requires a large box due to the game board, components, and retail price, but once you punch the tokens and ditch the insert you have a lot of space in which to nest other games. The only problem is that sometimes you'll find yourself with a half-dozen large square boxes, and you can't do anything about fitting them inside one another.




• Organize your games by size, then start with the smallest games: punch bits, pitch catalogs, throw out rules in languages that you don't need. Yes, that might make it more difficult to resell your games in 2021 to that Finnish guy who's desperately seeking an out-of-print and quite pricey Honshu, but so be it. I'm not thinking of resale value when I bring games home; I'm thinking of how they'll play, not to mention not spending more money now to get those games home!

Once you've prepared the smallest games, start with the next smallest ones, tucking the small ones inside where possible. As you fill these medium-ish boxes, set them aside in a "full" pile; place any other medium-ish boxes in an "empty" pile. Maybe you'll pick up a tiny filler tomorrow that will fit perfectly inside that Justice League: Hero Dice – Flash box.

Keep working from small to large until each box is as dense as possible. In my experience, volume is typically more of a problem than weight (although you do want to be mindful of weight at the same time), so maximizing the density of a game will allow you to pack more games in the same space.




Oh, hey, here's another larger square box. What's inside this time?




A Korean game, another Japanese game, and the ship/bowl goodie for The Oracle of Delphi. (Are those bowls even useful? I've played Delphi twice, and I'm not sure why I would need them or how I would use them. I typically just pile stuff on the table and don't worry about sorting everything out. At right, for example, is how the contents of Delphi currently look in my box.)

But wait — there's more!




Yes, another Justice League: Hero Dice game awaits inside Animal Auction, with MathTornado inside that. Gameception!




And once everything was unboxed, I had twice the volume of the earlier stacks. Yes, you can rail against publishers being wasteful and using boxes that are too big, and I won't fault you for doing so, but most publishers do so for specific reasons and aren't likely to change in the future. At best, you can rebox games in your own containers or stack expansions inside the base game or cut down boxes to the size that works for you or, you know, get fewer games.




Thanks to all of these weight- and space-saving efforts, I had plenty of room to bring home from Germany the most important things available there...


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Sat Dec 3, 2016 1:00 pm
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