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Archive for Convention Reports

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Gen Con 2016: Video Round-Up IV — Thornwatch overview and playthrough

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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We scheduled dozens of game overview demos in the BGG booth at Gen Con 2016, but I also scheduled some in other locations, including one with Lone Shark Games — and unbeknownst to me LSG had scheduled a full playthrough of Thornwatch with co-designers Mike Selinker, Chad Brown and Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik, from whom the game idea had originated.

Thus, we ended up recording a 56-minute video that starts with an overview of the game's origin and ongoing development process — ongoing in that the game design isn't final and no publication date has been announced as of yet — then we play through a scenario. For those who prefer words, let's start with the game description in the database, after which we can move to our poorly-lit, recorded-on-site video:

Thornwatch is an adventure-based card game for 2-4 players and a Game Master. Players are Icons of the Thornwatch: scarred veterans of the Eyrewood who now live as ghosts that are summoned by the ancient ritual of tying a knot of thorns around a birch tree. The Icons summoned to a particular tree do not necessarily know each other or the true nature of the problem they've been called to resolve; all they know is that they've answered the call, and they're bound to see it through.

In game terms, through the play of Attack, Ability, Tactic, and Synergy cards, the Icons engage foes to resolve the "knot" that summoned them, with the knot giving players clues as to what their mission might be. Each player represents a character who fits in one of four classes — Guard, Blade, Sage, Greenheart — and each character has a deck that features moves and abilities specific to your character.

During the game, which lasts 2-4 hours depending on whether you're playing a single adventure or a campaign, you'll move characters on a map specific to the adventure and (most likely) encounter others that you must defeat in combat. When you suffer damage, you shuffle wound cards into your deck. Those cards stay in your hand once you draw them, and if you hold more wounds than your character's wound threshold, you die. You're a ghost, though, so death isn't permanent; instead you add a random Scar card to your deck, with each Scar having some negative effect on you.

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Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:00 pm
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Gen Con 2016: Video Round-Up III — Rising Sun, Bloodborne: The Card Game, Mansions of Madness, Hit Z Road and Joking Hazard

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• The most talked about game at Gen Con 2016 wasn't even known publicly before the fair opened, this being Eric M. Lang's Rising Sun, which Cool Mini Or Not announced on Friday during the fair. I knew that CMON was announcing something by Lang as the publisher had asked whether they could reserve a spot in the BGG booth late on Friday, but beyond "something" I knew nothing. Now we know a little more thanks to Lang himself...

• One of the first day sellouts at Gen Con 2016 was Lang's Bloodborne: The Card Game, most likely because publisher Cool Mini Or Not had shipped in advance copies for the show to create buzz in advance of the game's September 2016 release date. Buzz buzz buzz!

• One of the biggest splashes of Gen Con 2016 took place a few days before the fair opened, when Fantasy Flight Games announced that the second edition of Mansions of Madness would debut both at the convention and at retail stores on August 4. Retailers complain about being shut out of titles that debut at Gen Con, or of having their customers poached by publishers for the aforementioned buzz, but at least in this one case they could buzz along just like everyone else.

• Gen Con 2016 a high percentage of Australian publishers in attendance, including honorary potential Australian designer Martin Wallace, who had traveled a long way to see two of his releases from Space Cowboys on sale during the show: Via Nebula and (the title shown here) Hit Z Road.

• The fastest turnaround time from knowing that someone would be available for a demo in the BGG booth to said demo taking place might belong to Noel and Rob from Cyanide & Happiness as Scott and I ran into them and Shari Spiro from Breaking Games in the aisle behind the B.G. booth, heard they were available, walked back to the BGG booth, then found out we were ahead on schedule, so *boom* your time on camera has arrived. Sometimes things just work out that way...

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Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:16 pm
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Gen Con 2016: Video Round-Up II — Captain Sonar, Covert, The Goonies, Eight Epics, Love Letter: Premium Edition & Thunderstone: Third Edition

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• Let's start another round-up of game overview videos from Gen Con 2016 with one title that might be the definition of "convention game", by which I mean a game that excels in a public environment because the crowd around you can pick up on the game immediately and follow along while you play.

I've now taught Captain Sonar from Fraga and Lemonnier more times than I've played, yet I'm still not sure that I'm teaching the game optimally as each of four players on a team have individual roles that all need to be taught separately, yet everyone plays at the same time and the roles themselves are simple. Let's see whether Fabien from Matagot can give me any teaching advice...

• Let's transition on the color palette from blue to orange, this being for good or ill a fairly popular color combination. Kane Klenko's Covert was one of many titles debuting from Renegade Game Studios at Gen Con 2016.

• And we'll roll from blue and orange to orange and blue with The Goonies: Adventure Card Game from Riddle and Pinchback. I'm amused by how Erik Dahlman from Albino Dragon opens with "I guess I don't have to say anything about The Goonies..." while of course my knowledge of The Goonies begins and ends with it being a 1980s movie that features kids. I'm probably not missing anything, right?

• Designer Seiji Kanai was a guest of honor at the AEG booth at Gen Con 2016 as the publisher had multiple titles from him debuting or available for purchase, with one in the former category being Love Letter: Premium Edition. I'm continually stunned (in a good way) by how influential this game has been, and it makes me think about all of the other hundreds of tiny games that have appeared at places like Tokyo Game Market, then vanished from public view. What treasures have we missed amongst those titles?

• AEG also featured its version of Kanai's Eight Epics, which he originally self-published through his own Kanai Factory, then expanded, then licensed to another designer who wanted to create his own version. As with Love Letter, Eight Epics is a simple concept that can be reinterpreted in any number of settings and times.

• Todd Rowland of AEG also talked briefly about the third edition of Thunderstone that the publisher plans to bring to Kickstarter in late 2016. Rowland focused mostly on their plans to incorporate retailers into the KS rather than any changes to the game design itself, but this talk is a starting point for what's to come.

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Sat Aug 20, 2016 3:17 pm
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Gen Con 2016: Video Round-Up I — SeaFall, Vast: The Crystal Caverns, Clank!, Terraforming Mars, and Ice Cool

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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We're ten days past Gen Con 2016, and by this point Aldie has processed most of the game overview videos that we recorded over the four days of the convention, and we've been posting them regularly on the BGG YouTube channel. (Brad and Dave at iOS News have long since posted everything they recorded off-site, making us look like pikers, but that's mostly my fault for working on nothing other than the SPIEL 2016 Preview last week.)

In any case, here are a few highlight videos of games demoed and sold at Gen Con 2016, starting with the fastest sellout of the convention: Rob Daviau's SeaFall from Plaid Hat Games. The line of VIP buyers on Thursday morning wrapped clear around the PHG booth, leaving copies available for only two "normal" people at the end of the line, so if you want to know what the price of a VIP ticket gets you, it gets you access to buy SeaFall. If you missed out on SeaFall — as most people did — you have the consolation of listening to Daviau sum up several years of design work in less than eight minutes.

• We didn't feature SeaFall in the BGG Hot Games room — partly because we didn't have a copy and mostly because it wouldn't make sense to have a legacy game in that environment — but we did have two copies of Vast: The Crystal Caverns from Leder Games, and those copies were in constant use, thanks in part to co-designer Patrick Leder pretty much always having someone on hand to teach the game to newcomers. Given the nature of the game — that is, five asymmetric roles — a teacher seems like a great thing to have on hand to get you started, and Leder takes on that role in this overview.

• Dungeon delve meets deck-builder in Paul Dennen's Clank!, which Renegade Game Studios plans to release in October 2016 and which snuck through our "no preview" filter that largely worked to keep us focused on games debuting at Gen Con 2016 or newly released prior to the show.

Stronghold Games donated one of everything new to Gen Con 2016 to the BGG Hot Games room, and while prepping Terraforming Mars on Wednesday night before the start of the con, I kept saying to myself, "Self, who's really going to dive into Terraforming Mars on their own from the rulebook? Stephen was a sweetheart to donate this along with his other titles, but maybe he just needed the tax write-off because no one's going to play this." So of course when I visited the Hot Games room on Thursday night practically the first game that I see on the table is four players in the midst of Terraforming Mars. Shows what I know about con behavior...

Ice Cool from Brain Games was one of the three games that I played at Gen Con 2016, mostly because I wanted to teach others in the Hot Games room. The overview video doesn't really capture the joy of flicking the penguins all over the place, with one person trying to catch the others before they can shoot through the doorways and grab their fish. I've played with kids as young as three — although it was "played" more than played — and it's been a blast each time.

• Let's close this post with our wrap-up video for day 1 of Gen Con 2016, which mostly consists of me being really tired, yet simultaneously energetic enough to talk over Stephanie as she tries to lead me to more fertile areas of conversation. Watching yourself on video can be quite educational!

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Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:01 pm
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Say Hello to the SPIEL 2016 Preview

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Gen Con 2016 has ended, so let's move on to what's next with the launching of the SPIEL 2016 Preview. Yes, already!

While I'm happy to kick off this preview, I regret to say that it contains barely more than one hundred titles at this point. Why the regrets? Because I wrote to dozens of publishers two weeks prior to Gen Con 2016 and I had anticipated being able to add all of the information that they sent me to the SPIEL 2016 Preview before it went live. Alas, info on Gen Con kept pouring in, too, so I focused on that (as well as regular BGG News posts) instead and filtered everything related to SPIEL into an increasingly jam-packed inbox folder.

Now I've switched gears, though, and other than a few Gen Con round-ups and the publication of individual game overview videos once Aldie edits the four days of livestream game demonstrations that we recorded in Indianapolis, I'll be kicking out SPIEL 2016 info right and left until I hit my final update deadline of Friday, October 7.

If you have info about new games being released or demoed at SPIEL — and yes, the convention's name is spelled in all caps, as confirmed by the event organizer — and that info isn't already on the SPIEL 2016 Preview, feel free to email me at the address in the BGG News header at the top of the page. We hit 774 listings in the SPIEL 2015 Preview, and I'm excited/terrified to see what the final tally will be this year.

With that said, dig in!
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Mon Aug 8, 2016 7:43 am
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Final Pre-Gen Con 2016 Preparations

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Gen Con 2016 starts on August 4, and I'll be in Indianapolis with the BoardGameGeek crew starting on Wednesday, August 3 — i.e., tomorrow (yikes!) — to help set up our booth (#1949) and to take pics from the show floor. What might you need to know before that happens?

If you're going: The BGG Hot Games room will now feature donations from 59 publishers, giving up to 120 gamers at a time the chance to play or fondle the newest releases from Gen Con 2016. We'll post a final list of games once we collect everything from the publishers (or see what they drop off), then prep, punch, and bag everything to be ready for the opening bell on Thursday.

If you're not going: BGG's Gen Con 2016 broadcast schedule is now live! Yes, for all four days of Gen Con 2016, BoardGameGeek will be livestreaming interviews with designers and publishers about their creations.

In addition to watching us for four days, you can follow our posts on Twitter as I'll be snapping pics throughout the show and trying not to fall too far behind in posting them.

Whether you fall into either category: BGG's Gen Con 2016 Preview is now (almost) complete, with its 411 listings being just a smidge more than we saw on the 2015 Preview. That said, I threw in the "almost" caveat because a couple of publishers sent me info on August 1, which I had set as my cutoff date; if I have the time, I'll add them to the Preview, but I might not have time since I'll be jamming on the SPIEL 2016 Preview, which will launch on Monday, August 8.

Yes, we'll slingshot our way straight from the ashes of Gen Con to the fevered beginnings of SPIEL, which opens October 13. I already have eighty titles on that preview and a stuffed inbox folder to which all my requests for information have been routed. Time to crack that open and get to work...again!
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Tue Aug 2, 2016 1:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 — Part 2

Mary Prasad
United States
North Carolina
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[Ed. note: Head here for the first half of Mary Prasad's report from the 2016 Origins Game Fair. —WEM]


As usual, many trips were made to the North Market. Hot Chicken Takeover was as good this year as I remember from last. The chicken is always hot and fresh. They actually can sell out early (on a chalkboard they have a countdown for number of chicken pieces left) and there is usually a line, but it's worth the wait. I wasn't impressed with my Katzinger's Little Deli Ruben sandwich – too pricey for the little meat/too much bread I received. Market & Boar (Holy Smoke BBQ) has awesome BBQ. I can't resist their Loaded Barrel Chips. From memory (admittedly not my best feature), it has Barrel chips (seasoned, made potato chips), choice of smoked meat (I got pulled pork this time), cheese sauce, jalapeños, tomatoes, and chipotle sour cream! OH YUM! I ended with a double delectable treat: a trip to Taste of Belgium for a waffle to go, on which I put a couple scoops of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Heaven! (I had to split with a friend so that I wouldn't burst.)

This is becoming an annual tradition as well – a trip or two to Moy's Chinese restaurant for some fresh, delicious food. The R&R guys (who are also foodies) introduced me to this wonderful establishment. Afterwards we stopped at Buckeye Donuts, right next door, where we had cronuts. The memory of it is making my mouth water; it was so freaking good!

Dinner at Moy's with (far left) Dan and Frank DiLorenzo, R&R Games, and (far right) Ken Hill and my husband, Snoozefest

Another fairly new favorite is Aab (introduced to us by Ken Hill, CABS and Rio Grande Games rep.). It's a little bit of a hike from the Columbus Convention Center, but they have excellent Indian food and it's right down the street from another Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams location!! I like to walk over from Aab to help burn off some of the guilt.

The Dice Tower Live

The Dice Tower podcast did a live taping at Origins. About 250 people showed up for the event. As somewhat typical at these events, a "gameshow" was held with funny and/or game related questions (and sometimes funny answers) where select audience members were able to win prizes for participating.

The Dice Tower Live, Origins Show

Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers Part 2

Hill's Wholesale Gaming

They're back! After a four-year hiatus, Hill's is finally back selling many, many TCG and CCGs (among other things)! Unfortunately I bought two boxes I really didn't need (but WANTED!), and yet again I was stopped at airport security for having those dangerous foil cards.

Nathan Hill (R), Hill's Wholesale Gaming

North Star Games

Happy Salmon released in April, 2016. It's a fast-paced game for 3-6 players (with two decks you can play up to 12), which plays in about a minute. Each player starts with a deck of 12 cards held face up in their hands. The idea is to find a person with the matching card by shouting out the name of the action on the card. For example: fist bump and high five are two of the actions. Once this person has been found you both perform the action to discard the card, revealing the next card. The goal is to get rid of all your cards.

Evolution: the Beginning, releasing in August, is a standalone card game (i.e., it is not playable with the base game). This is a simplified (i.e. lighter, faster — about 30 mins) version of Evolution for family and casual gamers. It will be a Target store exclusive.

Fun Fact: Evolution was originally designed by Russian biologists to teach kids about evolution. (The original game was named Evolution: Origin of the Species.) The artwork for the game was done by Catherine Hamilton, a high-school friend of North Star founder Dominic Crapuchettes.

Tasty Minstrel Games

Guilds of London pre-release at Origins, to be released in August. They had one hundred copies available, which sold out in sixteen minutes. This is a card driven area majority game.

Orléans: Invasion will release in August/September. This is a modular expansion to Orléans with several scenarios that enhance the game.

Fun Fact: In Guilds of London, three of the coat of arms are actual historical representations of the real Guilds of London crests; you may see them on the shields on the tiles.

Arcane Wonders

Royals pre-relased at Origins, will release at the end of August. The art was updated for the U.S. market to give it a more medieval English look and add more vivid color. The distribution of cards was also slightly revised. The city in Britain now has two nobles instead of one.

Tony Gullotti, Arcane Wonders

Speechless will be a Gen Con pre-release, to be released soon after, and is designed Mike Elliott (designer of Quarriors, Dice Masters, etc.). This is his first party game and the fourth in the Dice Tower Essentials Line. Talking is not permitted during the game. Players take turns being the "presenter". The presenter has 90 seconds to act out six words (three cards with two words each), trying to get the other players to correctly guess each word. While the presenter is acting out the words, the other players are watching and trying to guess which word is being acted out. If they think they know the word, they write it down on their dry erase marker board. Players score up to 2 points for each correct answer: one person guessing the wrong answer scores 0, multiple people guessing the same wrong answer each get one point. The presenter gets the highest score in correctly guessed words that round. The game is for 3-8 players with two rounds for three players, or once around for four or more.

Fun Fact: Arcane Wonders sent the artist for Royals, Jason Engle, a photo of Kevin Burkhardsmeier (podcaster, Board Game Theatre) as a model, because he does cosplay as a king.

Kevin Burkhardsmeier was used as the model for the King in Royals

Calliope Games

Hive Mind, by Richard Garfield, will release in September. Each turn all players secretly answer a question, then answers are revealed. Players get one point for each answer plus one point for each answer matching another player. A die is rolled to determine how many people will move down the hive (printed on game board) for having the lowest score. Sometimes one player may also move up for having the highest score. There is a catch-up mechanism for players reaching the lower levels; a player can remove a barrier rather than moving down. Any players kicked out of the hive lose, then everyone else wins.

Running with the Bulls, by Paul Peterson, releases in September. Each player gets six runner dice at the top of the board. There are six bulls, also across the top of the board. Players try to get their runners to one of the destination cards at the bottom of the board (sort of like a Plinko, disk drop, game). Players get a hand of five cards per round to help them move to the bottom, four of which will be played. There are three (scoring) rounds to the game.

Fun Fact: Board artwork for Running with the Bulls includes Chris Leder, "Director of Fun" at Calliope Games (bottom right), above him and the big red die is the President of Calliope, Ray Wehrs (right), and Paul Peterson, designer (left). Artwork was done by Mike Bocianowski who signed his name on the toilet paper on Chris' foot. There are some puns/Easter eggs about bulls all over the board (e.g., bulldozer, bull horn).

Formal Ferret Games

The Networks released at Origins (U.S. debut). This is a tableau-building game using card drafting. Players each run a network. The goal of the game is to get the most viewers by developing shows, signing stars, and landing ads.

An expansion to The Networks is planned for 2017. Currently they plan on offering a modified set-up, new shows and stars set in the 1980s and 1990s, and individual player powers based on their network.

Fun Fact: Gil Hova, owner of Formal Ferret Games, has owned various ferrets for over the course of twenty years: seven in total so far, usually with two at a time.

Japanime Games

Naruto Shippuden: the Board Game released June 2016. This is a cooperative board game in which players are trying to stop a network of evil ninjas from taking over the world. Characters and locations are from the show Naruto Shippuden. Each player has their own character with powers, etc. as well as a specialized deck. Highly thematic.

Heart of Crown will be released in September. This is a deck-building card game in which players each take on the role of "campaign manager" for their princesses. Their job is to get their princess elected to the throne by using military tactics, bribery, and witchcraft. The game is split into two eras. During the first era players accumulate wealth in order to back a princess. Once they have a princess, money is not as important; succession points become important for the second era and winning the game.

Fun Fact: The art of Heart of Crown was done by Yuji Himukai, the same artist for the video game Etrian Odyssey.

Brotherwise Games

The Boss Monster: Paper & Pixels mini-expansion released in June 2016. (It was previously only available as a retailer incentive.) This is an expansion for the Boss Monster games (playable with both one or two). It has three new bosses, four new rooms, and one new spell.

The Boss Monster: Crash Landing mini expansion extends the base game, normally for 2-4 players, to 5-6 players. It introduces a new hero class as well as a new related treasure type. For the first time, this will add a sci-fi theme, with aliens landing in the fantasy world of Boss Monster.

Fun Fact: Almost every card in Boss Monster includes an "Easter egg" that parodies classic video games, fantasy and sci fi movies, and fantasy literature.

Fans of classic fantasy/sic-fi movies may recognize this iconic device, guaranteed to leave heroes "mostly dead"

Passport Game Studios

Salem was released at Origins. This is a social deduction game in which you play a family during the Salem witch trials. Three of the members are witches in each family. You are trying to determine who are the witches in the other families while being more accurate in your accusations than the other players. The game sold out at Origins.

Quartz was shown at Origins and will be released at Gen Con. This is a push-your-luck game in which you are a dwarf trying to create the most lucrative mine. As you are mining, you might turn up obsidian, which will make you crash, causing you to lose all the gems you just mined and knocking you out of the round.

Fun fact: In the game Salem, all the family members are historically accurate. A lot of research went into creating the game.

L4 Studios

Information provided by Keith Blume, President, L4 Studios.

WarQuest, co-published with Mr. B Games, was pre-released at Origins. WarQuest was designed by Glenn Drover (Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery, Railways of the World, among others) and developed by the same team behind Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery.

In WarQuest, you take on the role of a warlord; your goal is to reunite a fractured land. Achieve this goal by quest, conquest, and combat! The game is card driven — Quests and Conquests are cards in your hand, and every time you complete one, you get a new card — with variable start locations, hidden endgame victory conditions, and awesome miniatures for your armies (it does have war in the title after all) so each game will unfold with a different story. The world of WarQuest (Myrathia) also has a novel from Don Beyer (Swords of Mercy).

For Q4 Mr. B Games and L4 Studios plan to release the 30th anniversary edition of Liar's Dice. This will be in the mode of the classic Milton Bradley version (six players, with the star replacing the "1"). They are playing around with the cover (below), but this is one of the styles they're considering, with them probably doing some kind of polling on BGG or another media vehicle to get consumer feedback.

Fun Fact: Keith Blume: "My family and I played the Milton Bradley version of Liar's Dice non-stop at our family reunion 28 (or so) years ago and it has remained a family favorite. Thus getting to print the game is a full-circle dream come true."

Queen Games

Mighty Monsters will release in August. Players assume the roles of Trolls, Undead, Aquatic animals, Demons, Insects and Dragons with only one thing on their mind: the Gold in King Edgar's treasury. You have to cooperate to overcome the pesky guards, but the real monster in you still wants a bigger share than your fellow monsters! Have the most gold by the end to win in this fast paced monstrous card game.

World Monuments will release in August. In this game you and your fellow players choose one of four buildings and start constructing it from the ground up: the Capitol in Washington, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, San Pietro's Basilica in Rome, or the Taj Mahal in Agra. Once building has completed, only the most talented master builder among the players who gained the most points will win the game.

Fun Fact: World Monuments already has two more monuments in production. These will be offered only as Queenies (promos) at conventions and at the BoardGameGeek Store, early next year.

Chris Landon, Meeple Source, with prankster Dan DiLorenzo, R&R Games, behind him

IDW Games

The Godfather: A New Don releases in August. This is an area-control game in which players take control of one of the six crime families from The Godfather (books/movies). Players battle over the boroughs of 1950s NY. They claim territories by turning in sets of dice.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past releases in August. This is a scenario-driven campaign game featuring story content from the IDW TMNT comic. Players may take on the role of their favorite turtle or the ultimate villain Shredder through a series of 60-90 minute missions in which they develop their characters' strengths, fighting styles, and equipment creating a story arc. Favorite characters (e.g. Casey Jones, Alopex) appear throughout the missions as the Turtles call on their allies to help battle their deadliest foes.

Fun Fact: There is a secret Easter egg in The X-Files that no one has been able to figure out. Nate Murray, Product Manager for IDW Games, offers a bounty of any free IDW game if you can determine what it is.

Academy Games

Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is the next standalone game in the Conflict of Heroes series. It includes the U.S. army expansion and incorporates the Japanese Bushido code ("saving face").

879: Viking Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in July, released planned in October. This is a standalone game, next in the series with 1775 Rebellion. It will be an all miniatures historical game.

Fun Fact: Collaboration can be tricky sometimes. Academy Games' French partners complained that Academy Games was as overly picky as Germans, but as pushy as Americans (the worst of both worlds).

Renegade Game Studios

Brick Party released July 6th. In the game, teams of two work together to build a pattern on a card (worth 5 to 8 points, varying appropriately in difficulty) with interlocking blocks. The cards depict a silhouette of what will be built. One person is communicating what to build while the other player builds it. Each round there is a rule card making it more difficult to either communicate or build (e.g., no thumbs may be used this round, eyes closed, no talking, etc.). The first team finished gets extra points, then the other teams will have only 30 seconds more to complete building in order to score points. Teams get to decide which card to build after the rule card has been revealed. When a new round starts, there will be new partners, a new rule, and new shapes. Play continues until one player meets a point goal.

Covert will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released in August. This is a tactical game of dice placement and set collection in which players try to complete a designated number of mission cards. The first person to do so is the winner. Players roll a hand of dice each round and may use them in different ways, for example they may be used to select an action by playing in an action area in one of six spaces. A player may use any space if no one has yet played there otherwise the player must play numerically adjacent to another die. A player may use one die to help crack a code to try to match a code behind their player screen. A player also gets to swap two tiles of the code during the code-cracking phase. If a player matches their code, they get a resource and another code. Actions include things like moving on the board, getting more resources, and collecting mission cards.

Fun Fact: Kane Klenko, the designer of FUSE, loves to sneak little hints about his wife Carrie into his rules, including an image of her in the back of the Fuse rulebook: Carrie as the ship's computer in FUSE (hologram).

Wyrd Games

Darkness Comes Rattling was released September/October 2015. This is their first board game in a couple of years; they are mostly a miniatures company. In the game there is a spirit snake called Darkness who is jealous of the sun, so he swallows it, plunging fantasy world Tallil into darkness. This is a cooperative game in which 2-6 players play warriors from the tribes of man attempting to save the sun. Players travel to different regions of Tallil to find items and spirit weapons needed to defeat Darkness.

Fun Fact: When Through the Breach was developed, the lead designer immortalized one of the playtesters, Aaron Darland, as a non-player character (named Aaron Darlin!). His character is known as the mecha-tyrant of Virginia who burns down Richmond. Flash forward to today, Aaron now works for Wyrd Games on the design team; players sometimes think he wrote himself into the game.

Aaron Darland passage from Through the Breach

Custom Tables for Board Gaming

There were a couple of companies selling board game tables. Boardgametables.com has custom made to order tables; choose from five types of wood and six styles of table. Add-ons include card holders, cup holders, drawers, toppers. Carolina Game Tables had three tables in the Mayfair Games play area so that people could try out one of their tables while playing a game.

Carolina Game Tables, carolinagametables.com


Information provided by Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager.

Star Trek: Frontiers released on June 29. Designed by Andrew Parks, Star Trek: Frontiers puts a new spin on the bestselling board game, Mage Knight by Vlaada Chvátil. Command your ship, recruit new crew members, earn experience points, and use your skills to confront the challenges of the Star Trek Universe. Explore and face a variety of challenges on a randomly built Space Map using the Venture Tile System, first introduced in Mage Knight. The game is for 1-4 players with multiple competitive, cooperative and solo scenarios. Work together to defeat hostile ships or compete to explore and uncover hidden mysteries. Players will need to overcome obstacles to expand their knowledge and use their leadership in order to win.

Blank White Dice, designed by Jonathan Leistiko, is a thrilling new take on dice games. Roll the game dice to activate the icons on the dice, and gain enough points to win the game! But that's not all because if a player rolls a blank face, they need to get creative and show their artistic skills by drawing their own icons on the faces of their dice! Some icons will give players points, others may cause opponents to lose points, force competitors to re-roll, and much more! The first player to reach 13 points at the end of a round wins the game. Planned for a SPIEL 2016 release.

Fun Fact: Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager: "WizKids held both the 2016 U.S. National and World Championships for HeroClix, Dice Masters, and Attack Wing at Origins Game Fair. For the first time, WizKids gave a Fan Appreciation Presentation at the event. Attendance was so high that we had to change rooms, cut the presentation shorter, and run two sessions!"

Cryptozoic Entertainment

Mad Science Foundation pre-released at Origins, to be released in July/August. Each player is a mad scientist trying to build inventions to gain infamy (points). This is a card-driven game in which, each round, one player splits a number of cards into piles equal to the number of players, then the other players choose which pile they would like with the dividing player going last. Cards include resources and inventions. Inventions must be constructed using resources before points are gained. Minions are also in the resource deck; certain advantages may be gained by controlling a minion. Players also have a hidden goal card. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Attack on Titan Deck-Building Game is planned for September/October release. The game theme came from the Attack on Titan popular anime and manga series about monstrous Titans.
This fully cooperative game is based on the "Cerberus game system" but with added movement. Players are heroes trying to defeat all Titans in the deck before they destroy the wall that protects civilization (which is representated by five tokens in the middle of the table). There is a board with ten spaces and a wall in the middle, with player heroes moving from space to space. The location of your hero in the game area matters. If you are on a titan space (outside the wall), there will be a fight.

Fun Facts: Dekan Wheeler, Manager of Marketing: "We actually found the designers (Sharang Biswas, Max Seidman) at Gen Con 2015's developer speed-dating event. We loved their game Mad Science Foundation so much we decided to publish it. The Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game is built using our Cerberus engine, but is the first of our deck-builders to be designed with co-operative play from the ground up."

Jasco Games

Mega Man: Battle for Power is planned to be released in August. This is a Universal Fighting System (UFS) CCG, compatible with some of their other titles such as Darkstalkers and forthcoming Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Cowboy Bebop. The game features the character Bass.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game has a planned release for October. This is a cooperative horror game for 1-6 players. The goal of the game is to try to keep the Hell Mouth from opening and consuming the city of Sunnydale. Players try to protect the townies from various dangers (e.g. vampires, zombies, etc.) and defeat the monsters of the week (there are thee random mosters of the week in each game) to collect various clues to beat the big bad (boss).

Fun Fact: Jason Hawronsky, founder and CEO of Jasco Games, started in the boardgaming industry when he was really young. He owned a 3,000 sq. ft. retail game store in the Dallas Metroplex when he was 13. (Although he did all the management — working store hours around school hours — he had help from his parents until he could legally take over); he ran it for 11 years. He started publishing in January 2010 at the age of 24.

Capstone Games

Arkwright released at Origins. This is a heavy economic game with action selection and a stock market. Players produce and sell goods, build factories and machines, hire workers, etc.

Haspelknecht: The Story of Early Coal Mining will release in September. This is a mediumweight action selection game about discovering coal in 16th century Germany. Players extract coal and obtain unique developments (e.g., to more efficiently extract the coal). This will be part one of a trilogy of games spanning centuries. The complexity will increase across releases.

Fun Fact: It took three months to update and enhance the English version of the three rulebooks in Arkwright.

Cool Mini Or Not (CMON)

The Grizzled: At Your Orders! pre-released at Origins, released at the end of June. It adds a solo play mode (not in the original game), a new two-player mode, new missions that replace the original game's set-up difficulty level, character cutouts to help visualize who's on the mission, and Final Assault/Last Stand card (for desperation moves).

Potion Explosion will have an early release at Gen Con, to be released September/October. Player are student wizards and witches learning to brew potions. Each has two potions they are working on at a time. There is an ingredient dispenser, consisting of marbles in vertical lanes in a slightly sloped cardboard holder (so the marbles will slide together), from which players take one marble on their turn. This may trigger a "potion explosion" if two marbles of the same color connect, possibly causing a chain reaction. The player may take all marbles of the same color that touched to form the explosion. Potions are cardboard pieces with holes on which marbles may be placed, color coded for the potion. Once complete, potions may be "drunk" (turned upside down) to provide a one-time special ability. Potions are worth points. Players may gain skill tokens (also worth points) by collecting three of one type of potion or one of each potion (5 total). The game ends when the skill tokens are gone. The player with most points is the winner.

Fun Fact: Designer Eric Lang is obsessed with pandas. He tries to work a panda into each of his games: cover art, character in the game, etc. He even tried to sneak one into the Blood Rage rulebook, but editing found out and removed it before the final print.

Designer Eric Lang, obsessed with pandas

Smirk & Dagger Games

Dead Last pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is a party "social collusion game" that will appeal to gamers who enjoy casual games and social deduction games, although there are no hidden roles or traitors. Each player has a color identity, shown on a card displayed in a stand in front of them, as well as a hand of cards which includes every player color including their own as an "ambush" card (used if they suspect they will be a target). Targeted players are eliminated (unless they played an ambush card). Also, all players except those in the largest voting group will be eliminated. This forces players to form alliances... although you won't know if they are being truthful. Anything goes as far as communication, including glances, nods, pointing, flashing a card, etc. — just try not to tip off the target. The last player standing receives four gold bars with points ranging from 3 to 5 points. The game ends when one player gets to 24 points. The trick is trying to get others to vote with you without alerting the target. If there are two players left, there is a "final showdown".

J'accuse will be released at Gen Con. This is a blind-voting card game. Like a reverse version of Clue, all players conspired to kill the old miser. Each are trying to pass off the evidence onto the other players. In the end, there will be one loser and a table full of winners who got away with murder.

Fun Fact: Curt Covert, Smirk & Dagger Games: "Cutthroat Caverns was inspired by the transition from my high school D&D group (me and six women) who played very Lawful Good characters to my college group (all guys) who were anything but. I was horrified when I realized the other characters I was traveling with were far more dangerous than anything the DM could throw at me. That feeling of shock and horror was the feeling I wanted to be pervasive in Cutthroat."

Ninja Division Publishing

12 Realms released in June. This is a game in which players are adventurers trying to accumulate land, gain fame, etc. through questing, purchasing.

Raid & Trade will be released July. This is a post apocalyptic modular board game of negotiation and resource management. From the ashes of a third World War, a few golden cities emerge offering hope to those who struggle for survival in the wastelands. Using action points and a player specific skill, players explore the ruins of the modern world completing quests, honing their skills, and maneuvering for social status in order to claim a spot as a citizen in a Golden City.

The Broken Token

This company makes game boxes, inserts/organizers, and some game pieces. Their newest release, launched during Origins, the Biohazard Containment Unit for Pandemic is a custom box to replace the original box; it holds sleeved cards, the base game, plus all the expansions. See photo below. An "in box" organizer for Codenames will be released at Gen Con. A custom box for Splendor will be available after Gen Con.

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Wed Jul 27, 2016 3:38 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 — Part 1

Mary Prasad
United States
North Carolina
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The Origins Game Fair was held June 15-19, 2016, in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio. (They finally moved it to a more appealing date! Yay!) The next convention will be held June 14-18, 2017. The Origins Game Fair began in 1975 and is run by the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

This year the registration line was extremely long — longer than I have ever seen it in previous years. Part of this was due to a Microsoft security update that was pushed through Tuesday night, causing some time to be lost Wednesday morning. The other reason was due to increased numbers. In 2016, 9,514 people had registered on Wednesday by noon (compared to 7,634 in the same time period the previous year). Origins had added 20% more people to the registration stations this year, so the delay wasn't as bad as it could have been. John Ward, Executive Director of GAMA, noted that the average wait time was about an hour.

This shows about a third of the line

Attendance was up from 2015 (the numbers they gave me from last year were revised):

• 2014: 11,424 unique badges
• 2015: 12,912 unique badges (43,791 turnstile)
• 2016: 15,480 unique badges (52,561 turnstile) or 19.8% above last year's attendance

This year’s prices:

• Full Show Badge: Pre Reg $55, Onsite $65
• One-Day Badge: Pre Reg $20, Onsite $25 (up $5 from last year)
• Family Day passes were available only for Sunday, June 19, for a family of up to two adults and four children (under 18) with limited access: $20 (up $5 from last year)

Origins and Families

Origins is a family-friendly event. Children 9 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. A child's badge allows entry to Origins for all five days of the show. The back of the child's badge includes a place for parents to include their badge ID number and contact phone number at the show.

There were two new options for kids this year: the Origins Family Room and CritterCare. The Origins Family Room is for parents who want to spend time gaming with their children. Free games were provided by Pokemon, Breaking Games, and Origins. Video games, provided by Final Boss Gaming, cost two generic tickets per hour (generics cost $2 each) unless you had purchased an Electronic Game Room ribbon, which allowed unlimited play.

CritterCare is a place where parents could register their children for kid-friendly fun. Brought to you by KiddieCorp, CritterCare is Origins' new and improved childcare room. Children ages 5-12 could participate in tabletop games, card games, and crafts. Books and toys were also available. Origins offsets the cost of CritterCare at a reduced rate of two generics per hour, per child. Parents' contact information as well as their intended location at the convention is required for check-in. Children are required to stay in CritterCare until their parent or guardian comes to sign them out.

Check out the Family page on the Origins website for hours and information.

By the way, if you have children (or even if you don't!), be sure to check out HABA games (see below, in the Exhibit Hall section). Their games are as much fun for adults as they are for children – and the components are usually super high quality.

Fun Fact: At The Gathering of Friends, I caught Phil Walker-Harding, designer of Imhotep, wearing the same sweater (in Australia they say "jumper") as he did for his designer photo in the rules for Imhotep. He claims he really does change his sweaters/clothes! See Thames & Kosmos later in the article for more information on his game.

Phil Walker-Harding, owner of multiple jumpers

CABS Board Room

Board Room Ribbons were again $20. This year they sold out — 1,600 ribbons! The library received 118+ new games, making the library about one thousand games. (The entire CABS library is brought to the convention, minus some kids games.) There were 592 unique games checked out from the library. Here are the top 20 checkouts (number of checkouts listed after name of game):

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 37
Splendor 36
New York 1901 35
Codenames 35
Imhotep 32
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game 30
7 Wonders: Duel 29
Royals 28
The Networks 25
Quadropolis 24
World's Fair 1893 23
Valeria: Card Kingdoms 20
Animals On Board 19
51st State: Master Set 19
The Game: Are you ready to play The Game? 18
Odin's Ravens 18
Automobiles 18
Kitty Paw 18
Roll for the Galaxy 17

Fun Fact: Likely the only reason Tichu isn't right there at the top of the list is because real Tichu players bring their own decks!

Thanks to CABS member Ken Hill for providing the above information.

Origins Award Winners 2016

The Origins awards were held Saturday, June 18. The board gaming related category winners are below.

Game of the Year
Codenames (Czech Games Edition) Designed by Vlaada Chvátil

Best Board Game
Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games) Designed by Justin Kemppainen, Corey Konieczka, Jonathan Ying
Fan Favorite: Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Best Card Game
7 Wonders: Duel (Repos Productions) Designed by Antoine Bauza , Bruno Cathala
Fan Favorite: 7 Wonders: Duel

Best Family Game
Codenames (Czech Games Edition) Designed by Vlaada Chvatil
Fan Favorite: Codenames

Best Collectible Game
DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light (WizKids) Designed by Mike Elliott, Eric M. Lang
Fan Favorite: DC Comics Dice Masters: War of Light

Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers Part 1

Exhibit Hall hours for attendees were: Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Here is your list for Gen Con shopping!!

Rio Grande Games

Tiffin was released at Origins. This game is about the Indian lunch delivery service, most commonly found in Mumbai. As a service, bicyclists, called dabbawallas, pick up and deliver hot lunches to workers, usually with help from the train system. Typically the pick up is from the worker’s own residence, although some use a meal supplier. There is a really nice movie titled The Lunchbox (available on Netflix) whose story revolves around this very thing. Tiffin is a somewhat light, area majority game that has a bit of luck and strategy. Players use cards to place cubes on tiffin tiles: first as lunch tin(s) — up to 3 — then to fill up the "route" (a block of squares, varying in size for shorter or longer routes). Each player starts with one card for a short cut (makes a route 2 squares shorter) and a flat tire (makes a route 2 squares longer), which may be played during their turn in addition to their action (then it's discarded). Actions are basically taking cards or placing cubes.

Dominion: Empires was just released. It adds a lot of new mechanisms, including split piles for kingdom cards of two different cards; debt tokens that allow players to buy cards with debt, which must be paid off before they can buy another card; more events (first introduced in Adventures); and landmarks, which work similarly to events but generally give players ways to score points during the game or at the end. One or two landmark cards come out at the beginning of the game and apply to everyone.

Fun Fact: Rael Dornfest, one of the designers of Tiffin, went to Mumbai to hang out with the dabbawallas — the people who deliver lunch boxes (called tiffins). The name of the prototype was "Dabbawalla" but it was later changed to Tiffin.

R&R Games

Swipe Out was pre-released at Origins and will be available in July. Each player has a 5x5 grid board with 25 chips on it. A pattern card will be flipped showing a similar 5x5 grid with dots in some of the squares. Players must match the pattern by quickly removing chips on their boards. There is squeaky duck in middle of the table. The first player to finish will grab the duck to stop play, then the player’s grid board is checked for accuracy. If it is wrong, the other players keep going. The winner gets the card. Play is up to five cards (there are variants for three cards and with teams). Designed by Oswald Greene Jr. – from Grand Theft Auto. Wiki: "Oswald Greene, Jr. is a voice actor, associate producer and a game tester who voiced a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. He also worked as a game tester for Grand Theft Auto III and as an associate producer for Grand Theft Auto Advance."

Dan (L) and Frank (R) DiLorenzo, R&R Games Booth

Shiro is being tested for a future release (likely 2017). Designed by Ben Parmentier. The shogun is dying. Warlords are trying to gain control of the provinces of Japan to cement their claim to become shogun. This is an area majority, worker placement game using cards. Everyone has same deck of cards and a hand, from which a few cards will be selected each turn to put on display. Cards have 2 or 3 slots on which samurai may be played. Players may play their colored samurai on their own cards for free or on another player’s at a cost – with the limit of one samurai per color per card. Players may hire ronin, which are temporary workers for one turn, although they may become permanent workers if they pay a higher cost.

Fun Fact: Many of R&R games have treasure hunts hidden inside them. A couple weeks ago, someone solved the Face Chase hidden hunt and won $150 (grand prize). Other prizes may still be won.

I couldn't resist including this: Time's Up Title Recall is my favorite party game (although I love all Time's Up games). Earlier this year R&R released a Time's Up Limited Edition Expansion Set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of R&R Games! At Origins, four full expansion packs were released for Time's Up: Title Recall. Every Time's Up release has about 30% new cards from the previous edition (currently on the fifth release of Title Recall and 7th release of the original). On a related note: Smarty Party, the newest edition will have 100% new content, Gen Con release.

Thames & Kosmos

Legends of Andor: Journey to the North is an expansion for Legends of Andor that will be available Q4 2016. This cooperative game includes a new story that picks up from the base game, but moves on to another land (it includes a new map region of the north of Andor) with new challenges (legends), and new powers. This time the theme is water-based; for example, it includes storms, ships, and sea monsters.

Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, Thames & Kosmos

Imhotep was on sale for the first time at Origins. Imhotep was an Egyptian, considered by some to be the earliest known architect. In the game, players are Egyptian builders trying to emulate Imhotep by loading boats with stones (wooden pieces) and moving them to five monuments (board locations). Each area allows players to either take cards or participate in building (placing wooden pieces on the board). On a player's turn, they may do one of four actions: take new stones, load their stones on a boat, move a boat to a monument, or play an action card. Timing is key since other players are vying for their own interests. Nominated for the 2016 Spiel des Jahres award.

Fun Fact: Lili DeSisto, Marketing Coordinator: "The crew at Thames & Kosmos regularly has game nights at their offices so that everyone knows the ins and outs of all of our games (also, it's just fun!). Oftentimes these games nights happen after office hours, but one memorable day this spring, we lost power on the same day that we were undergoing some office renovations. With all the noise, we were happy to be forced to unplug, open the windows to let the light in, and have an impromptu game day. Things got pretty heated, though...one thing we've learned is that we've got some competitive gamers on staff!"

CGE - Czech Games Edition

CGE was showing the final prototype of Codenames Pictures at Origins. It will pre-release at Gen Con 2016, with a full release in September. This is a picture version of the award-winning game Codenames. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do. Fun fact: The original Codenames has been published in 17 languages!

CGE was also showing a prototype of Adrenaline, which is being planned for a Spiel 2016 release. This is a Euro-style first-person shooter. Yeah, you heard me right. Euro-style. First-person. Shooter. I played the prototype last year and, I must say, I'm impressed. Somehow they pulled it off. Each player has an area control health bar that tracks damage from other players. When your character dies, whoever did damage will get points accordingly (i.e. most point for first, second most for second, etc.). A marker is put on the highest point value every time your character is killed so the next kill will not be worth as much. There is another area majority for the player who makes the most kills. There is also a resource management component: you need the right type of ammo for the types of weapons you have. Whenever you die, you immediately re-spawn, without losing anything (weapons, ammo). In a nice twist, there is a slight advantage for having damage.

Mayday Games

Quotes by Ryan Bruns, President Mayday Games

Garbage Day released at Origins. "Players take turns stacking garbage cards one at a time onto the overflowing garbage can, or stashing garbage cards in their rooms. But once a player's room gets too full, they must clean it by stacking all the cards from that room on top of the garbage can, very carefully, one by one. If garbage cards fall off the garbage can during your turn, place them in your overflow pile. If your overflow pile gets too big, you're eliminated from the game. If all other players have been eliminated, you win!"

Dungeon Busters was shown at Origins. "Dungeon Busters release is Gen Con 2016: In Dungeon Busters, the players take the role of heroes exploring dungeons and defeating monsters in search of treasures. In order to defeat a monster, every player simultaneously plays a power card face-down then reveals the values. If two or more players play the same value, they are all ignored. If players are defeated the player who played the lowest value should return some treasures as a penalty. If players succeed to defeat the monster, players can divide rewards but the player who played the lowest value will go first."

Fun Fact: Ryan Bruns: "Gen Con 2014, I was late returning from dinner and I had missed most of the designer speed-dating event (where game designers give a six-minute pitch to publishers). I was just going to skip the event since I was very late and I was walking towards the gaming hall. I ran into Seth Jaffee and Andy Van Zandt of Tasty Minstrel Games. They mentioned they were looking for me and said there was a game at the speed-dating event that Mayday Games is going to publish. They proceeded to tell me about Garbage Day and how much I needed to look at it. I went to the room where the event was being held and was introduced to Shane Willis, designer of Garbage Day. After a playthrough and discussion, we signed the game the next day. I love this industry that we all belong to — where publishers see games that would fit with other publishers and recommend them. I love it. Special thanks to TMG."

AEG (Alderac Entertainment Group)

Quotes by Dan Dineen, Major Events Manager, Alderac Entertainment Group

Mystic Vale: "In Mystic Vale, 2-4 players use the innovative Card Crafting System to create and personalize their own cards/decks to create a game experience unlike anything they’ve ever played before. Concise rules offer a deep gaming experience with meaningful decisions, along with tremendous replay value with each game being different from beginning to end." Mystic Vale will be released July 14th for brick-and-mortar stores or August 8th for all other retail outlets.

Guildhall Fantasy: (released June 20th): "In Guildhall: Fantasy, 2-4 players compete to create the perfect party by recruiting adventurers into their guildhall chapters. Collect sets of cards with unique abilities to control the table, and complete a full chapter to claim victory cards. Players do this by drawing cards, making their opponents discard cards, switching cards between their collections and others, or a myriad of other card effects." [Note: There are three listings for Guildhall: Fantasy - Fellowship, Alliance, and Coalition.]

Fun Fact: "Mystic Vale was actually created by its designer, John D. Clair, to teach the Card Crafting System for his game Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness will be released by AEG in 2017!"

AEG Major Events Manager Dan Dineen demoing Mystic Vale to attendees

Q Workshop

This one is a showstopper for me. I just had to get some photos of their beautiful dice! These ladies are super sweet, too. This company is out of Poland, but the website is really well done so there is no problem for English speakers; in fact three of the four choices – selected by currency on the left side of the home page – take you to websites in English but with the specified currency and adjusted shipping prices. Only the last one is in Polish.

They make incredibly beautiful and intricate dice in a variety of themes and games: Steampunk, Celtic, Tech, Elven, Deadlands, Call of Cthulhu, Kingsburg, Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, Shadowrun, Warmachine, and many more. There are really cool metal dice available in several choices, as well as dice towers, dice bags, and dice cups (e.g. Black Elven Leather Cup with stitched lid and bottom and debossed writing). They even have glow-in-the-dark dice!!

Fun Fact: This one is too good to be true: edible dice! OMG! I want the elven dark chocolate dice! Although, they look so yummy I might eat them before ever playing a game with them (probably just as well since they will likely make a mess on my hands/games). The description says: "Elven dark chocolate dice set: This set of dice is made of dark chocolate with a touch of almond and marzipan. Meticulously finished, the edible dice are D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 and D100." YUM!

They also have white chocolate (with a touch of lemon), milk chocolate, red jelly, and blue candy! Check Candylize for more pics and info.

Plaid Hat Games

Dead of Winter: The Long Night was pre-released at Origins, with a planned July/August release. This is a standalone expansion for Dead of Winter, with all new characters, crossroad cards, and three new modules that may be played together or players may pick and choose among them. It's of course compatible with the base game.

SeaFall will pre-release at Gen Con with a general release later in 2016. This is designer Rob Daviau's new "legacy" game. It's a seafaring game of exploration and intrigue, with new things to unlock as you play.

Fun Fact: Artist Fernanda Suarez put several Easter eggs in the new Dead of Winter: The Long Night art. Examples include: the Ashes logo on Elijah's hat, and Emma's backpack has a Charm Die keychain on it.

Catan Studio

Catan Geographies: Tenn-Tucky is planned to be released July/August. This is another scenario for the base game, for 3-6 players. This version has horses as a commodity, producing on 7s in the pastures.

Catan: The Big Game is an infinitely expandable game of Catan. They plan to release this at the beginning of 2017. Bob Carty, Catan Studios: "Catan: The Big Game is a special product designed to allow scalable events to be economically executed by people who want to play Catan. These kits form the core of the materials used in 2013 and 2015 to set world records for the most people playing in the same game at the same time: 922 in 2013 at Gen Con, with that record being broken in 2015 with 1,040 people participating in the event at Essen. A kit contains materials for six players. Three maps accommodate two players each, micro-perfed cards form the resource decks, and development decks. Die-cut cardstock player pieces are provided as opposed to wood. A micro-perfed deck of dice is provided to take the place of dice. Every thing you need for six players and all for $20.00. The rules are nearly the same as regular Catan, with the addition of ships providing players the opportunity to create trade routes up to 30 segments long, and slightly different rules for robbers and knights. No monopoly card. Have more people? Just acquire more kits. Support materials for organizers are available, including a document for organizers, a video for rules instruction, and a timer/turn and Number software exists to assist in running larger events. A new way to play Catan, maybe with one thousand of your closest pals."

Fun Fact: Morgan Dontanville, CCO: "We are building a life-size sheep for photo opportunities at conventions. We are playing around with the color; currently we are debating whether we want it to have blue, green, red wool. Right now it is being carved out of Styrofoam and will end up being a fully-painted fiberglass sheep with a secret hatch in her belly for fun costumes."

Mayfair Games

Costa Rica pre-released at Origins and will be released in July. This is an exploration, set collection, and push-your-luck game. Players explore the rainforest of Costa Rica, looking for animals. There are six explorations starting around a hex tile board with five tiles per side (61 tiles of the 72 available are used per game). Each player has one explorer in each group (pawns in their own color). On a player’s turn they take on the role of expedition leader and may determine which tile to explore next, flipping it. Tiles may have one or two animals on it, and possibly a threat. The leader is first to decide if s/he wants to keep the tile s/he just flipped; if not, the choice moves clockwise to the next explorer. If a player takes tiles, that player also removes their pawn from the exploration. If no one takes the tile, the expedition leader flips another tile, adjacent to the last flipped tile, and can now choose to keep or pass all flipped tiles so far. If one threat is revealed, play continues as normal; if a second threat is revealed, the player’s turn ends and that player must take back their pawn and discard the threat tiles, but may keep any remaining tiles. The more animals collected in one type, the more points the group is worth. Players also gain points for collecting a full set of the six animal types.

Fight for Olympus will be released in July. This is a two-player game co-published with Lookout Games as part of the Lookout two-player line. It's a head-to-head card battle game with six areas of conflict in three different areas of play. One area is a tug-of-war battle with a 7-point swing, i.e. the player who gets to 7 points wins. The second area allows players to win tokens to help pay for cards. The last area allows players to pick up another card at the end of their turn (normally two cards, this bumps it to three). Players play cards on their side of the board, paying costs by discarding cards or tokens, and taking any actions as indicated on the cards, then the cards are evaluated in order. If a card is played across from an opponent's card, it starts a battle. The alternative way to win is to have six cards slots filled at the start of a turn.

Fun Fact: Even though the rights to Catan were sold to Asmodee earlier in 2016, Mayfair continues to manufacture the game and its expansions/extensions for Asmodee. At full speed, more than 1,500 games an hour come off the assembly line in Skokie, Illinois!

Eagle-Gryphon Games

SiXeS pre-released at Origins and is set to release in July. It is a party game for 4 to 40 players. There are six rounds; the game lasts about 20 minutes. There are three types of rounds. For two of the rounds there is a card with a category; players write down one or more words and, depending on the round, they may want to match or not match their opponents' answers. The last type of round is a lightning round. The card has six categories, and players write down one item for each category that must match an opponent's answer.

Vinhos Deluxe is a reprint of Vinhos, with a new box, art, and components.

Fun Fact: Ralph Anderson, who currently works for Eagle-Gryphon and is the designer of Chimera (a Tichu-like three-player game) lost the Tichu game against me and my awesome partner Zev Shlasinger (formerly "Z-Man", now working for WizKids). To be fair, his partner Ken Hill (Rio Grande Games) had to leave partway through the game, so Stephan Brissaud (Iello) took over; he wasn't quite as exprienced at Tichu...

Alex Soued, Eagle-Gryphon Games Booth


Schotten Totten: This reprint/reboot is due to be released at Gen Con. There will be new art and will be fit into the mini games series (small white box). The rules will actually be the Battle Line rules.

Oceanos is slotted for a Gen Con release. This is a new Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders) set-collection game with an original drafting mechanism that may be played in 30 minutes. It is set in the ocean. Players build their environments during three rounds of play: one at the ocean surface, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. Submarine customizations may be purchased each round, providing different strategies, e.g. more periscopes allow the player to draft more cards (increase hand size).

Fun Fact: IELLO licensed King of Tokyo to a mask company called Trick or Treat Studios. They already made Kong (the albino monkey in King of NY) and Pumpkin Jack (from the Halloween expansion, pumpkin face with witch hat).

Tom Vasel (L) and Kong (R)

Mr. B Games

Quotes are from Sean Brown, (a.k.a. Mr. B), President of Mr. B Games.

Spurs: Legends pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "The final expansion to the Spurs: A Tale in the Old West system. Spurs: Legends adds two female characters and a bunch of new challenge tokens as well as the introduction of the new Bandit Canyon Mini Game and the Train Heist! Fans of Spurs will find these challenges to be much tougher than previous challenges and will add hours of new content to try out!"

Prospectus pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "In Prospectus, players are apprentice-level mages who earn their tower rent by trading potions in the underground Kriztus potion market. Using their powers, they can peer into their crystal balls to predict prices and make their fortunes. But beware! Their prognostication is not perfect, especially when rival wizards cast spells to advance their own agendas! Meanwhile, the greedy, power-mad High Council demands potions as well. A timely sale will make a recipe fashionable, and raise its price in the market, but if the council does not get what it wants, they will retaliate, by telling the townsfolk that the potion is nothing but fizzwater and newt juice. The mage that is able to earn the most money through cunning investments, shrewd spell-casting, and lucrative sales to the council, will be the most successful potion trader and win the game! Heck, maybe you can even pay off your tab at the Drunken Dragon Inn..."

Fun Fact: "My Fun Fact this time is about Spurs. Originally my niece was going to unveil the first Female Character in a very big way. (She was working on a pilot for HULU set in the world of Spurs!) She has since been accepted to a big film school and that project is on hold, but it was such a cool opportunity for the game. We decided to do the Legends expansion to fill the void of women characters in the game as our last installment of expansions for the game. Never say never though, if my niece ever gets that pilot, it will be hard to stay away..."

Meeple Source

Meeple Source is the place to find awesome high-quality game replacements. If you have a favorite game (or two, or ten), you might want to upgrade the components to these beautiful pieces.

Cynthia Landon, Meeple Source

Blue Orange Games

The Boss pre-released at Origins, to be released July/August. This is a third in series of games orginally published by Blackrock Games (France), brought over to the North American market by Blue Orange. The most popular game in the Blackrock line of games, it's a mafia-themed bluffing and deduction card game.

Vikings on Board will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released August/September. This is the next game in the Blue Orange Games big-box series, which includes New York 1901. This is a familyweight viking-themed worker placement game by Charles Chevallier (Abyss). The game includes 3D ships (fully assembled) and viking minis. You need area majority to control a ship.

Fun Fact: In New York 1901, the artwork is based on historical postcards of real skyscrapers in New York. Additionally the four legendary skyscrapers were, at one time or another, the tallest buildings in the world. Check out these beautifully illustrated and interesting designer's notes by Chénier La Salle.

Vikings on Board

Stronghold Games

Piratoons was released in June. Stephen Buonocore: "Players are trying to build the biggest, baddest, best pirate ship on seven seas." There two major parts of the game. First turning a "chest" of tiles over and, in real time, placing pirate meeples on parts of the ship for an area majority. Players have a minimum of 15 seconds (timer) but they can go until one says stop. Then, after pieces are collected, the remaining pieces either "sink to the bottom" (larger pieces) or are auctioned off in a closed fist blind bid. Players score for sets of pieces, e.g. people, flags, etc. as well as how "pretty" the ship is (i.e. certain pieces are next to each other).

The Dragon & Flagon will be released at Gen Con. Designed by Geoff, Sydney, and Brian Engelstein, the theme is fantasy tavern brawling. You play one of nine fantasy archetypical characters who can throw mugs & chairs (wooden pieces), pull the rug out from under characters (paper rug), swing from chandeliers, cast spells, overturn tables (cardboard), fight with weapons, and roll barrels (wooden)... all in a 3D tavern environment. Players play cards to "program" two turns ahead. Cards contain movement, attacks, and special abilities, which are customized per character. Successful attacks gain reputation points. The player with most points at the end of game is the winner.

Fun Fact: There are at least a dozen Easter eggs hidden on The Dragon & Flagon game board. Examples include some rats looking down at a cat, a cask that has a Stronghold logo, and a wanted sign posted in the tavern, showing a picture of Stephen Buonocore, President (...and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer) Stronghold Games.

The Dragon & Flagon


Space Planets released April 2016. This is a tactical dexterity game in which players roll a large die, hoping to land it on a planet card in a 3x3 grid of cards. Planet cards each have a star point value and may also have a special effect (positive or negative). The game end is triggered when one player has collected five cards; the round is finished and the player with the most star points on their cards is the winner.

Go Cuckoo! is to be released August/September. It's a dexterity game in which players start the game with the same number of cuckoo eggs. The bottom tin of the game forms the base of the bird's nest. Players take turns drawing up to three bamboo-like sticks, with colors on each end that may or may not be the same color. They must stop if the ends match, in which case they try to use it to build the nest. Once placed, the player may try to put one of their eggs in the nest. If the egg falls in the can they must take an egg from the player with the most eggs; if it falls outside the can they take the egg back, in either case their turn ends. If they successfully play their last egg, they get to try to place the cuckoo bird; if they do so successfully they win the game.

Fun Fact: Lea Culliton, HABA USA, has been invited to attend and exhibit HABA games at the upcoming American Library Association (ALA) annual conference to speak to librarians about incorporating games into educational curriculums.

Space Planets


Artana is selling the "Best Damn Gaming Coins Ever" including seven new sets of coins: two English sets (Anglo-Saxon, Old English Kings) and five Asian sets (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Mongol). They also sell the "Best Damn Gaming Money Ever" including three new sets (US Presidents, SciFi Credits, Fierce Women). All of their monies are interchangeable. These new sets were released at Origins. The cost is $6 per pack of coins, with the jumbo pack including 6 coins, the large 9, medium 12, small 15, and tiny 18.

Corrupted Kingdoms will be a Gen Con release. Players each control a corporation of evil monsters. The objective is to infiltrate the fair senate of the realm in order to pass nonsensical, destructive legislation. The corporation that does this most successfully will be rewarded by their special interests with ridiculous, unnecessary luxury goods that make the destruction of the entire realm well worth it. (Description from Nils Herzmann.)

Fun Fact: Corrupted Kingdoms is a collaboration with a first-time designer, Raymond Chandler III. Raymond has a degree in video game design from Full Sale University.

Nils Herzmann (R), Artana

Naturalist Games

The Lairs Kickstarter launched during Origins; it's slated for a Q4 2016 release. Patrick Roach, Sean Cutler, Zack Brown are the designers. This is a dungeon crawl with mini card games (encounters) in each chamber. For example, a duel may include a short trick-taking game of a couple rounds. It has asymmetric game play. First there is a build phase to find an artifact then becomes asymmetric dungeon crawl.

Fun Fact: All of the illustrations in Lairs were originally designed for a children's picture book about the end of the world. (There is a reason it's now in the board game.)

Sample artwork from Lairs

Stay tuned for Part 2, including food (yeah, I can't believe I didn't put it in Part 1 either!), The Dice Tower, and more!
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Origins Game Fair 2016 X: Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea, Seikatsu, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game, and Love Will Tear Us Apart

W. Eric Martin
United States
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• We featured many games on our 2016 Origins Game Fair livestream, and the one that excited me the most was Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea from designer Nicholas Fortugno and publisher Killer Snails. I'm not saying this is the best game shown in our booth, but it was the most unexpected in both subject matter and the publisher's approach in bringing the game to market.

And whatever you think of the game, you really should watch the video of these killer snails. Amazing!

• Everything old comes back again, right? That's probably why zombies resonate so well in the public culture; you inherently understand the principle of zombies because you see someone wearing wide-flared bell bottoms or hear about a remake of some movie that struck you as ghastly even as an undiscriminating teenager and wonder, "Why is everyone into this stuff once again?"

Admittedly pop-culture zombieism is sometimes a plus, and the return of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to game tables after more than a decade's absence will likely excite some percentage of former and current fans. Here's an overview of this title, which Jasco Games will release on October 28, 2016.

• We had a fair amount of unscheduled time at Origins, but thankfully the hall is filled with exhibitors and designers, so we were often able to pull people on camera to talk about something other than the game release most immediately on their mind. Here, for example, Ryan Bruns of Mayday Games talks about his experience of game conventions as an exhibitor and how little of a show he actually sees, especially at Gen Con — which opens five weeks from today!

• We also found time to demo a few games that hadn't even been signed, such as the tile-laying game Seikatsu from Isaac Shalev and Matt Loomis — although from the whispering voices that I heard at Origins 2016, you'll probably be seeing this title on tables sooner rather than later.

• You might have noticed pummeling sounds in the background of our Origins 2016 videos. Directly across from the BGG booth was a fenced area in which people beat on one another with foam swords and other weapons. To explain the pummeling in more detail, Stephanie invited someone from the Belegarth Medieval Combat Society on camera to talk about what they do, both at Origins and at other events.

• We closed Origins 2016 with a mammoth conversation with designer/publisher Matt Fantastic of Prettiest Princess Games, who explained Love Will Tear Us Apart in the first couple of minutes of this 48-minute video (!) and I finally played the game on camera in the final few minutes when Stephanie Straw arrived back in the booth after touring the convention hall. Probably NSFW, but I will humbly suggest that this video is well worth your time.

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Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 IX: Kung Fu Zoo, Kreo, Battlestations, Dark Souls: The Board Game, and Heroes of Land, Air & Sea

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Charlie Price's demo of Kung Fu Zoo — a dice-flicking game of caging animals and using special powers — in the BGG booth at Origins Game Fair 2016 ended with Aldie saying, "I want to back that for two copies" — but Aldie backs a ton of games on Kickstarter so that might not mean anything to you.

• As with The Grizzled, Julien Prothière's Kreo is a cooperative game that was first released in France by Sweet November, but has now been picked up by Cool Mini Or Not for release in English. Other than those similarities, however, the games play nothing alike, with players in Kreo serving as Titans who are trying to assemble a world.

• Designer Jeff Siadek of Gorilla Games explains what's changed in the second edition of Battlestations, which is being released twelve years after the original. In the game, players are still trying to keep their spaceship intact and moving through space, gaining experience as they do in this RPG-like board game.

• Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games are giving "tiny epic" a brief rest and instead focusing on a giant 4X fantasy experience in Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, which won't be out until 2017 but which you can get a taste of right now.

Dark Souls: The Board Game was a smash hit on Kickstarter, but what is the game itself about? Co-designer Richard Loxam from Steamforged Games visited the BGG booth at Origins 2016 to demo some of those details.

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Thu Jun 30, 2016 4:26 am
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