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BoardGameGeek News

To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

Archive for Industry News

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Links: Tabletop Season 4, Gaming in the Bookstore, and More Hasbro-Inspired Crowdfunding

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• Wil Wheaton has announced the game line-up for the fourth season of Tabletop, an online series showing games being played by Wheaton and others. The titles being featured include Eldritch Horror, Codenames, Mysterium, Flash Point, Star Realms, Champions of Midgard, Steam Park, and Star Trek: Five-Year Mission. I'd expect a bit of role-playing in that last one, assuming they use The Next Generation role cards, which seems like a must. Filming begins before the end of April, and Wheaton expects to start publishing episodes in June or July 2016.

• As I noted in March 2016, U.S. bookstore chain Barnes & Noble held "Casual Game Gatherings" in 56 B&N stores each Thursday night during March 2016 to introduce one "light strategy game" to newcomers and established gamers. Now B&N has announced that it will hold a "Tabletop Gaming Meet Up" at all 640 of its stores in the U.S. on Saturday, April 30, starting at 4 p.m., with these events featuring the following five games: Machi Koro, Munchkin, Qwirkle, Superfight, and Ticket to Ride. (April 30 is International TableTop Day, so many brick and mortar game stores will be holding their own events that same day.)

The press release notes that "Participants will have the chance to play against each other to win prizes, including a Machi Koro Diamine Promo Card Pack, a Qwirkle Brainteaser Book, Superfight Promo Card Sets, and more. Customers should contact their local store to find out the full list of prizes available." A further excerpt from the press release:

Quote:
"Seeing our customers respond so positively to the game gatherings we hosted at select stores was not only rewarding, but it crystalized what we believed all along: customers in local communities are looking for an alternative evening out. For so many, Barnes & Noble is already a place to meet up, socialize and spend quality time together. Our Tabletop Gaming Meet Up is designed to do all that and more," said Kathleen Campisano, Vice President, Toys & Games at Barnes & Noble. "We will feature a unique array of games that celebrate collaboration, encourage strategic thinking and even provide a little healthy competition."

"The tabletop gaming industry has always had a wide appeal to Americans as a fun, engaging pastime, but we see Barnes & Noble's entry into events and gatherings as a game changer," said Andrew Lupp of the gaming industry organization, PSI. "Few retailers can offer a store environment that's already tailor-made for gaming. Barnes & Noble has always had a fantastically curated selection of games. Now they're creating the social experience and building new communities to bring these games to many more gamers around the country."

For those who don't know, PSI helps game "manufacturers to optimize their presence in the mass market, book trade, and specialty retail channels", including Barnes & Noble.

• In 2015, Z-Man Games hosted multiple "Pandemic Survival" events that culminated in a World Championship at Spiel 2015. For 2016, the publisher has helped organize Pandemic Survival tournaments in 25 countries — with these tournaments being listed on the Z-Man events page — with the 2016 Pandemic Survival World Championship to be held in Barcelona, Spain in November 2016. The winning team can take a trip to any city that appears on the Pandemic board. For those not in the know, here's an overview of Pandemic Survival:

Quote:
Pandemic Survival is an extreme version of Pandemic in which teams of two players compete simultaneously with the same objective in mind: Be the first team to find all four cures or be the sole survivor at the end of the game. During this unique experience, each team faces the same starting situation: identical roles, infected cities, and the same player cards in the same order. Only your strategic choices will differentiate you and prove to be a winning or losing strategy! 12 teams maximum.

• While Hasbro reported strong sales and earnings for Q1 2016 — $831.2 million in revenues (up 16% from 2015) and $48.8 million in earnings (up 83% from 2015) — the games category stayed the course from the previous year. (HT: Dan Bray) From Seeking Alpha:

Quote:
Games category revenues declined 2% for the quarter to $231.1 million. Pie Face continued to be a strong contributor to growth, along with growth in Yahtzee and Duel Masters. Growth in these brands was more than offset by declines in other gaming brands for the quarter. The Games category was flat absent the impact of foreign exchange.

• Speaking of Hasbro, the company has launched its second crowdfunding-based game design competition, following on its first such campaign in 2015 which will lead to the publication of The Mr Toast Game in 2016 (as detailed here). This time Hasbro is searching for "face-to-face games" (as opposed to face-to-butt games?), and it's accepting submissions through the Hasbro Gaming Lab website from designers in the U.S., the UK, Canada, France and Germany through May 15, 2016.

• Gift site Vat19 has posted the following educative missive, which prompts the question: Which other games might be enhanced by a showering of devil's blood?

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Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:00 pm
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Links: Nominees for the 2016 Origins Awards, Mensa Select for 2016, and Ernest and Peterson's Game Golem

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• On April 15, 2016, the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design announced the nominees for the 2016 Origins Awards, the winners of which will be revealed at the 2016 Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio in June. Attendees at that convention can vote on the nominees as well to determine a fan favorite in each category. The nominees are:

—Board Games: Champions of Midgard, La Granja, New York 1901, Orléans, and Star Wars: Imperial Assault
—Card Games: 7 Wonders: Duel, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, The Grizzled, Medieval Academy, and Welcome to the Dungeon
—Collectible Games: DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light, Force of Will, and Yugi's Legendary Decks (in case you're as baffled about that as I am, it's three TCG-exclusive sets released to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh!)
—Family Games: Codenames, Co-Mix, Dohdles!, Fuse, and Me Want Cookies!
—Miniatures Games: Frostgrave, Guild Ball, Star Wars: Armada, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and Wrath of Kings

• The Mensa Select winners of 2016 have been determined by the attendees of the annual Mensa Mind Games event, which was held April 15-17, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The winners are:

Circular Reasoning
Favor of the Pharaoh
The Last Spike
New York 1901
World's Fair 1893

Image: American Mensa

• The U.S. branch of IELLO has announced a new release policy in which preorders of their games by brick-and-mortar stores will be shipped to those stores two weeks before online retailers and mass market stores receive their copies. This policy starts with its release of Sea of Clouds, Candy Chaser, and Kenjin, although due to shipping delays those titles will have an April 21, 2016 street date at B&M stores, only one week prior to their release at other locations.

• Television station KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota shared the "board games are booming" trend with a story of a British family that traveled to the Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, Minnesota instead of Walt Disney World. (The TV host goofed, though, as the games are designed, not manufactured, in that part of the world. Anyone who shows up at the Games Center expected to see X-Wings rolling off the production line like Krispy Kreme donuts will be extremely disappointed.)

• Designers James Ernest and Paul Peterson showed up on Twitch channel Hyper RPG!'s show "Grab Bag" to take parts from Tsuro, Loot, and Mage Knight Board Game, then design a new game with them. What did they come up with? A co-op game called Mr. Dragon Bro!

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Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:22 pm
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Links: Delivery Troubles, Narrative Games, and Animals on Stage

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• Designer Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games offers advice to first-time publishers — well, all publishers really — on the costs and trouble spots involved with shipping your games to backers of your Kickstarter project. An excerpt:

Quote:
The plan was to ship a few cases of the games to SFC for Asia/Australia/New Zealand fulfillment, and put the rest on the boat to go directly to the Amazon Fulfillment Center (FC). Additionally, there were two cases of promotional cards (blank Drug Cards) that were supposed to have been sent directly to me.

I didn't think this was a complex shipping plan. I now know it is. The plant put everything on the boat: games for U.S. backers, games for Asian backers, and my two cases of blank Drug Cards. As a result, any game going to backers in Asia had to circle the planet; they had to go from Asia to the U.S., and then to the UK, and then back to Asia.

In the future, for any shipping plan more complex than "put it all on the boat", I will request that the plant not ship anything until they confirm the shipping plan with me. That will hopefully prevent this sort of issue from recurring.

• Old news from the inbox: Joshua Kosman at San Francisco Chronicle weighs in with 2015's best board games for that paper's annual holiday buying guide. Which games get the "jumpy man" this year? Mysterium, Colt Express, Elysium, Mogul, Trambahn, and Isle of Skye.

• In The Wall Street Journal, Christopher Chabris delivers "The Inside Story on Narrative Games", highlighting what separates Pandemic Legacy and T.I.M.E Stories from other games:

Quote:
The legacy and narrative formats violate two familiar premises of most games: The rules never change, and you can play as many times as you want. Traditionally, a game is defined by its rules. If you don't let pawns turn into queens, you aren't playing chess, and if you make captures optional, you aren't playing checkers. The success of Pandemic Legacy and T.I.M.E. Stories shows that this rule itself was made to be broken.

• In The Seattle Times, an article by Tracey Lien is headlined "Artificial intelligence has mastered board games; what's the next test?" One answer: different types of games, namely those with incomplete information. From the article:

Quote:
"The game of two-player-limit Texas Hold 'em poker has almost been solved," said [Tuomas Sandholm, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studies artificial intelligence], who described "solving" a game as finding the optimal way of playing it. "In the larger game of two-player no-limit Texas Hold 'em poker, we're right at the cusp of it. We currently have the world's best computer program, but we are still not better than the very best dozen or so humans."

• Carlo A. Rossi's Zoowaboo from Pegasus Spiele was featured on the German television show "Das Spiel beginnt!" in March 2016. In the game, animal cards are revealed one at a time after players have been presented with a raft. As long as everyone thinks that the animals can fit on the raft, another animal card is revealed. As soon as someone votes "No", then all those who voted "Yes" have a limited amount of time to make those animals fit.

On the show, kids competed against adults in eleven games, with one of them being a giant-sized version of Zoowaboo.


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Sat Apr 2, 2016 1:00 pm
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Links: Funding, Broadcasting, and Designing Tabletop Games

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• In old news that I forgot to link to months ago, tabletop games raised nearly twice as much financial support on Kickstarter in 2015 as video games ($88 million to $46 million), according to SiliconANGLE, with ten percent of the tabletop funding coming from the Exploding Kittens campaign. An excerpt from the article:

Quote:
Perhaps one of the most interesting statistics to come Kickstarter’s report is the fact while tabletop games raised twice as much money as video games and were nearly three times as likely to be funded, the total number of backers was not significantly different between the two. Tabletop campaigns were backed by 522,061 people, whereas video game campaigns were backed by 480,382 people, a difference of only around 8 percent.

• MCM Central, organizer of MCM London Comic Con, plans to broadcast the 24-hour-a-day show Strategy: The Table Top Gaming Event from the Telford International Centre starting Thursday, August 25 and ending Sunday, August 28. From the press release: "Positioned after Gen Con Indy, Strategy provides an ideal opportunity for a European platform to showcase upcoming games and new releases. The show will feature board games, card games, miniatures games and roleplaying games — plus dedicated tournament and playing space." The show will be hosted by Rob Hooley, former organized play manager for Upper Deck International and former events manager for Konami Europe's Yu-Gi-Oh! card game.

• The River Falls Journal in Wisconsin profiled Booty designer Alexander Cobian in Dec. 2015, and it's the type of local press that designers should always seek out as it introduces the idea of modern games to people who aren't already in the know, in turn creating an audience for the very thing being featured.

• I ran across a post on Facebook in February 2016 that announced a new service for Spiel 2016 that will package and ship your games so that you can avoid playing luggage Tetris or make travel easier on yourself should you be wandering around Europe — but the link that I sent myself no longer works, so we'll just have to keep our eyes out for news of this service in the future.

• I've linked to many posts from designer Grant Rodiek recently, but he keeps writing things that stick with me, so here's another article from him, one that separates flavor from theme and boils theme down into two principles:

-----—The experience has a narrative arc.
-----—Player actions are indicative of the theme, and you do things in character.

(This article is #9 of Rodiek's The 54 Card Guild series in which he writes about creating a game that consists of at most 54 cards, while inviting readers to join the process and create something themselves, too.)

• Speaking of thematic, in Feb. 2016 the Israeli game blog Pundak published a long interview with Roberto Di Meglio of Ares Games. Di Meglio details the fall of Nexus, discusses the focus of Ares Games ("create beautiful thematic games"), and tells a few great stories, such as this detail about the design of War of the Ring:

Quote:
Another key feature of the game — the original system used to move the Fellowship — started as a "crazy idea" in one of the earliest brainstorming sessions, which was immediately embraced by all the three designers. We had a very tough challenge to achieve to provide a "realistic" experience. In the books, Sauron has no clue about the fact that the Free Peoples want to destroy the Ring; in the game, the Sauron player knows this perfectly well! How to deal with such a contradiction, and at the same time create a good simulation of the books?

This was achieved through the combination of the Hunt system, the Fellowship movement system, and the action dice system in general. Sauron cannot "attack" the Fellowship; he can just "hunt for the Ring" and decide how much attention is given to that, and how much attention to the war — allocating Hunt dice. But he is obsessed by the Ring — so he does not have perfect control of this choice. And the hidden movement system (somebody says it's the Schrödinger's Fellowship — you never know where it is, until you find it) makes the Fellowship somewhat "out of sight" for both players.

And regarding the tenth anniversary edition of War of the Ring, Di Meglio says, "Warriors of Middle-earth is going to have a painted edition. And we are planning a third — and final — expansion after that, and we want it to have a painted version, too. After that, I like the idea of getting everything together in one box — but maybe such a 'monster edition' will be impossible to create and sell, so that's far from a sure thing."

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Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:00 pm
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Links: Balancing Designs, Testing Art, and Staying True to Your Work

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• On League of Gamemakers, designer/publisher Jeff Siadek offers advice on the topic of balance in game design: "Our first task is to recognize that balance is unattainable. Our second task is to obtain it. (All right, we'll approximate it)." He then goes on to offer suggestions on how to do this.

ToyNews deputy editor Billy Langsworthy writes about designer credits on toys and games, highlighting the discrepancy that occurs between mainstream and hobby games:

Quote:
Pandemic, Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride all list their creators on the box, and sometimes even the title's artist, and it makes sense. The games are closer aligned to literature in detail and the audience for these sorts of games are passionate fans who, and I'm generalising here, are more invested in these titles than casual gamers are for something like Hungry Hungry Hippos.

• I love reading Brian Bankler's thoughts on games, such as his write-up/non-review of Food Chain Magnate. His write-ups are always engaging and personal, especially since he's not racing to cover everything in the world but instead simply digging into whatever hooks him the most.

• Designer James Ernest reminds game publishers to test their final art:

Quote:
This sounds obvious, but I think a lot of publishers don't do it. There are too many games out there where the art seems to interfere with playing the game. And sometimes you just can't see the problem on the computer screen.

• Designer Grant Rodiek explores how to go from that important first step — figuring out the core gist of your game concept — to staying true to that concept as the design progresses toward completion:

Quote:
Firstly, you need to understand what your game is trying to accomplish. I think far too many designers are hyper focused erroneously on mechanism or theme. Noting you wish to make a worker placement game isn't sufficient. This is a well-established formula. A far superior goal would be to focus on a unique worker placement experience, and to hypothesize how that will come about...

Many years ago, I was trying to make a deck-building game. That was my goal. Guess what? I accomplished precisely that, and relatively quickly, too! But I also realized I had made a lousy version of Ascension.

He details this process with his current work-in-progress Gaia:

Quote:
For Gaia, I wanted to make a game about pre-constructed decks that felt satisfying in a limited card pool. I wanted a head to head experience that had a strong spatial component, particularly leaning towards tiles...

For Gaia, I needed to slowly verify the following elements:

• A limited card pool can support a variety of play styles.
• The spatial element is integral to the experience.
• There is sufficient complexity to provide legs, but not so much that people cannot dig through the pieces.
• The victory condition drives interaction.
• As a player's deck is limited (9 cards), how you play your cards is compelling.
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Links: Hippodice Winners for 2016, Stinging Criticism & Escape Room History

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• The winners of the 2016 Hippodice game design competition have been announced, with Fabio Lopiano taking first place for Calimala, Veli-Matti Saarinen second for Sapa Inca, and Sean Rumble third for The Ritual. While these names aren't household names, many of the designers who made it to the finals or the recommendations list are, such as Steding, Schlegel, Keller, Racky, Odendahl, Dan Keltner, and Wolfgang Lehmann. Overviews and pictures of the winning and finalist games are on the Hippodice website (PDF). Given that the judges all work for German game publishers, you will likely see one or more of these designs in print in the years ahead...

• Designer Scott Caputo encourages other game designers to remember that "your games are not you":

Quote:
[O]n some level, your worse critics are absolutely right. Unless they are insane, their anger was triggered by some real concern. If you dare, dive through the harsh language and polemic tone, and try to understand the root complaint.

In the case of my Secret Game X, I realized the players at the table didn't feel like they had enough strategic control in the game and they didn't like the lack of interaction with other players. If I thought back to my other playtests, I heard some of those same concerns before, though with nicer words. As the game wasn't published yet, I took on the challenge to answer these concerns and one year later, I can say I've made major changes to the game, adding new strategic choices I never considered. I will freely admit the current version is definitely better in every way.

• On the One Thousand XP blog, Chris Rowlands encourages game designers "to be shamelessly inspired", relaying his experience of re-using the dice-placement mechanism from Stefan Feld's Bora Bora in a design of his own:

Quote:
Whether or not Cordelia ends up using the Bora Bora dice mechanic, it was undoubtedly influenced by the mechanic. It was built to embrace the mechanic but will take those influences and become something unique on its own. I could never recreate Bora Bora. Even if I set out with the expressed purpose of remaking the game, there is a good chance I would simply fail at doing so. In the same way, I could have never created this version of Cordelia without being inspired by Bora Bora.

Scott Nicholson was one of the pioneers of using video to present board game reviews and rule explanations, and he's currently Professor of Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario and the director of the Brantford Game Network game lab (BGNlab). Over the past couple of years he's spent a lot of time researching escape rooms, and in March 2016 for Analog Game Studies, Nicholson compiled an overview of six precursors of escape rooms — such as point-and-click adventure games, adventure game shows, and live-action role-playing — that have fed the recent growth of escape rooms as mainstream entertainment.
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Links: Researching the Past, Sabotaging the Present, and Pricing Games for a Successful Future

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Randy Hoyt from Foxtrot Games details why a game's MSRP should be five times the cost of the game and why violating this rule could jeopardize the future of your publishing efforts. An excerpt:

Quote:
If you have been around the publishing side of the board game industry for any time at all, you've probably heard that a game's MSRP should be five times (5×) its cost. Yes, five times! I heard this when I first started, but I couldn't really understand how that could be necessary. ("I'm not making board games to get rich or anything!") I still hear from many Kickstarter project creators who question this multiplier, but I finally have a good enough understanding of all the numbers to explain it. Here's how I would state the advice:

If you plan to sell your game through distribution and if you hope to sell out of your first printing and do a second one, your MSRP must be at least 5× your total landed costs.

In a second post, Hoyt examines this question from the point of view of someone running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first printing of a design.

• If you want to risk burning hours at a time looking at games of the past — and you might given that you're on BoardGameGeek right now — I suggest you head to The GAmes Research Database (GARD), or even more specifically the publication database, then start checking out the gamenames to see what wacky stuff you can find. The Infants' Cabinet of Fishes, anyone? Credit for this find goes to designer Tony Boydell, who wrote in his BGG blog about an exhibition of vintage board games that subsequently led to this discovery.

• The more I look at sales numbers for games, the more I realize that most of the activity in the market takes place invisibly, far away from the watchful eyes of geeks. As another example of this, I point to Fréderic Moyersoen's Jan. 2016 post (which I've edited slightly) about sales in the Saboteur line:

Quote:
The past year 2015 was amazing for Saboteur. The annual sales have reached 300,000 copies per year, which is an increase of 50%. The total sales are now 1,400,000 copies. Saboteur Duel, the lastest version, is also selling good with 40,000 sold copies. The game is now also available in the Turkish language.

• I'm late to the party on covering this, but U.S. bookstore chain Barnes & Noble will hold "Casual Game Gatherings" each Thursday night in March 2016 in 56 B&N stores to introduce one "light strategy game" to newcomers and established gamers. From the press release: "Barnes & Noble store employees will be running demos for new players and providing a place for fans to play as well. Promotional items for four of the featured games will be given to those that participate in a demo of the featured game (while supplies last)." The remaining games to be featured in March are Splendor (March 17, with a playmat for participants), Codenames (March 24), and Lanterns: The Harvest Festival (March 31, with four promo tiles).

Which stores will be featuring these events? You can see the list in the press release for this event, which you can download from the Splendor: Playmat page.

• Designer Christian Strain suggests how "to put the right type of fun in your game" by detailing the pros and cons of things like the gamble, the sacrifice, the character, and so on. This assumes, of course, that you want to create a game strictly for fun, something Strain doesn't question in his opening lines: "Game designers approach games in their own way. The goal, however, is essentially the same: make something fun." Not necessarily, says I.
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Links: Publisher Get-Togethers, Games in Mainstream News, and Bandsaw Catan

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• Okay, this is old news — something that took place while I was in Germany — but worth noting anyway: On January 29, 2016, Cool Mini Or Not announced that it had "secured US$5.3 million for its Series A Financing Round, in order to continue meteoric growth in the tabletop games space". To quote from the press release:

Quote:
CMON pioneered the use of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to generate funding while creating demand for its games. With over US$20 million funded via Kickstarter thus far, CMON is one of the fastest growing companies in the industry.

"CMON's goal is to create great games," says Chern Ann Ng, CEO of CMON. "This capital gives us the ability to expand quickly by bringing in more talent, acquire established titles from other publishers, as well as pursuing licenses that have mass market appeal."

Further financial terms of this deal have not been disclosed.

The press release includes a short profile of Quantum Asset Management, a Singapore-based Registered Fund Management Company that "manages the fund investing in CMON".

• More old news, but let's keep working through the inbox: In December 2015, MAGE Company signed a deal with Ninja Division for the latter to be the North American publisher of the former's line of games, including 12 Realms, Raid & Trade​​, and Aether Captains​ (which had an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign in Feb. 2016 and which will likely be relaunched in April 2016).

• Another end-of-2015 item: Eye-Level Entertainment has closed its doors and is moving its remaining stock at closeout prices. ELE's Mark Anticole notes that by dropping the work involved with running a company, he and his brother Matthew hope to have more time to focus on game designs that they'll try to place with other publishers.

• Ontario-based toy and game manufacturer Spin Master has agreed to "purchase the library of board games owned by Editrice Giochi SRL, one of the oldest privately-held toy game companies in Italy", according to a press release via PR Newswire. An excerpt from the press release:

Quote:
The strategic acquisition enables Spin Master to expand its award-winning selection of games and licensed products in the Italian market with such well known games as Risiko, Italy's most popular strategic game, and Scarabeo, the leading word game in Italy...

With a rich legacy in the games category, the Editrice Giochi brand compliments Spin Master's recent acquisition of Cardinal Games , a US-based company whose large library of games and puzzles Spin Master has commenced marketing and selling across Europe.

• Jak Hutchcraft at VICE invites everyone to relax since "It's Official, Everyone: Board Games Are Cool Now". Phew! I was starting to get worried that someone would mock me for having fun in a socially unacceptable manner.

• As a counterpoint to all the kudos that modern games receive in mainstream publications, such as the item directly above, I present "The Five Board Games You Should Definitely Play as an Adult" from The Daily Utah Chronicle, which seems like a random list of game names pulled out of a hat.

• Can you make a Catan base game from a single 2x4? Yes, you can!

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Sat Mar 5, 2016 6:00 pm
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Links: The "Z" in WizKids Now Stands for Zev, and Hasbro and Mattel Talk Merger

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• On Feb. 3, 2016, WizKids Games announced that Zev Shlasinger will "head up its expanded Board Game operations".

Shlasinger, for those who don't know, founded Z-Man Games in 1999, and as noted in the WizKids press release he had an "eclectic publishing philosophy" that led to Z-Man releasing a wide variety of material over the years, from widely-regarded titles like Pandemic and Tales of the Arabian Nights to more obscure releases such as Castle Merchants, Gheos, and (one of my favorite light card games of all time) Escalation. He was willing to take chances by throwing lots of titles at store shelves all at once to see what stuck, and while that led to many titles disappearing under the waters with little fanfare, he also gets credit for introducing the classic Japanese games Fairy Tale and R-Eco to the U.S. market.

Shlasinger sold Z-Man Games to Sophie Gravel, owner of Filosofia Editions, in 2011, but he continued to work for Z-Man — which over time became a brand within the larger F2Z Entertainment — as someone who would acquire and develop new titles. Shlasinger left F2Z in early 2016.

At Spielwarenmesse 2016, I spoke with Gravel about Shlasinger and F2Z Entertainment parting ways. In general, as the years progressed his desire to publish all types of games all at once all the time contrasted with her more reserved approach to long-term development of individual games and game lines. Shlasinger wanted to do more along the lines of what he had done in the past, so in the end they decided to part ways. To quote from the press release:

Quote:
"I plan to continue to bring original and unique ideas to market with the help of the WizKids team," said Shlasinger. "They are very serious about building a board game business and are not afraid of good, fun, original ideas. In addition, WizKids has an amazing portfolio of licensed properties to enhance their board game presence in the industry. I think our combined qualities make a formidable team."

BloombergBusiness reports that Hasbro and Mattel "have held talks about merging". In more detail: "Hasbro approached Mattel about a potential transaction late last year [2015], and the companies have held on-and-off-again talks about a deal, the people said, asking not to be identified as the situation isn’t public."

Okay, that's still not much detail. Any deal might be subject to antitrust review given that "If combined, the companies would have probably about one-quarter of the market in the U.S." There's no truth to the rumor that I just started that the combined company would be called HazMat.

• Following the (possible) ruling of chess being forbidden by Islam, we have a report of 32 "foreigners" being busted for playing bridge in Bangkok. As noted by the Bangkok Post:

Quote:
Finding score books, but no money, police initially speculated that the foreigners were gambling, but transferring cash later between bank accounts. Bridge club officials tried in vain to explain bridge is played only for points...

While they found no financial evidence of gambling, police charged the group with possessing more than 120 playing cards that were not produced by the Excise Department, in violation of Section 8 of the Playing Cards Act of 1943.
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Sat Feb 6, 2016 8:38 pm
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Links: Selling Yourself to Gamers and Publishers, and Knowing When to Kill a Game Design

W. Eric Martin
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• On his Hyperbole! blog, designer Grant Rodiek suggests how game designers can sell themselves — and by extension their games — at conventions:

Quote:
When I play my games with people at a convention, I do my best to break down walls as quickly as possible. I immediately start playfully talking shit (pardon my crudeness), I poke fun at people, I crack jokes, and I highlight the cool things happening in the game.

Many publishers say you should let the demoers win, and there's value to this, but I've often found value in executing high level strategies or subtle combos, then explaining it so that people could see how cool the game CAN be beyond that learner's game.

• Designer/publisher Jason Kotarski of Green Couch Games tackles the same topic from the reverse angle, that of designers trying to sell a game — and by extension themselves — to a publisher:

Quote:
As an independent publisher in the tabletop gaming space, I'd much rather work with calm, collected people that I feel like I can be friends with than needy, draining, smelly geniuses. I want to spend time making something I love with people I actually like being around.

Andrei Novac of NSKN Games lists reasons why he killed "one of my beloved projects", W: The Board Game, which includes this gem: "Asking our play-testers if they'd buy the game, less than half said yes while 90% said they'd love to play it." Seems like a decent question to ask all playtesters, although what would move the needle from "play" to "buy" will likely differ from person to person.

• Following Gen Con 2015, Eric Teo from Push Your Luck Podcast had a nice write-up of "Five New Board Games You Should Play" on Kotaku, and I'm only linking to that article just now.

• More recently, Teo has presented Pandemic Legacy to the Kotaku audience: "Pandemic Legacy is all about the decisions that you have made during the game. Etching the results of these decisions into the game reminds you of what you have done. It will feel like you are crafting a game experience that is uniquely yours."

• At Spiel 2015, German podcasters/reviewers Hunter & Cron invited me to appear on their round-up of designers, publishers and ne'er-do-wells, and thankfully they did not require me to speak in German or else I would have been restricted to saying things like "Ich bin eine Ente" or "Die Wasser braucht eine Tasse". What did I say instead? Hopefully things more intelligible than that...

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Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:00 pm
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