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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

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Spiel 2015 Preview: An Apology

W. Eric Martin
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I have promised multiple times to publish BGG's Spiel 2015 Preview on August 3, 2015, but I must delay publication until next Monday, August 10, 2015. I apologize for this and feel terrible for not following through as planned. As for why I'm delaying publication, (1) I was sick for about ten days in late July and it was hard to work during that time and (2) despite me having attended multiple Gen Cons and knowing better, I thought that I'd be able to finish work on the Spiel 2015 Preview in the "off hours" at Gen Con 2015. What a fool I am.

This coming week I'll knock out the messages from the forty or so publishers still sitting in my inbox, set up new game pages, upload images, etc., in addition to doing a few other things on the to-do list, and we'll go live with the Spiel 2015 Preview in seven days' time. Sorry!

Edited to add: In case you are a publisher or designer who will have games at Spiel 2015 and you have not previously sent me information about what you'll have at the show, I invite you to add to my workload. Please send me the following information by email to the address in the BGG News header just above:

• Your booth number at Spiel 2015 (e.g., 2-M112)
• Games that you will debut at that show
• Other games released in the months prior to Spiel 2015 that will be available there
• Games that you will preview at Spiel 2015 ahead of a future release date (along with the anticipated release dates of those games)
• Prices (and discounted convention prices if any) for the games you will sell

If your games aren't already listed on BGG, please check out these details on how to submit them, designers and publishers to the BGG database. If the games aren't listed in the BGG database, I can't link to them in the Spiel 2015 Preview — and if you're not listed in the Preview, then we can't schedule time with you in the BGG booth to broadcast and record demonstrations of your games! (Note: Not all publishers are promised spots in the BGG booth due to the overwhelming number of games due to be released, but showing up on the Spiel 2015 Preview is the first step.)

With Spiel 2015 opening on Oct. 8, I'd like to finish updating the list by September 30, so submissions after that date aren't guaranteed a spot on the list. Sooner is better!
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Mon Aug 3, 2015 8:03 am
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Plaid Hat Games Bought by F2Z Entertainment

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During set-up day at Gen Con 2015, Canadian company F2Z Entertainment — parent company of Z-Man Games, Filosofia Éditions and Pretzel Games — announced that it had purchased U.S. publisher Plaid Hat Games.

Plaid Hat Games will continue to operate as a design and development studio, with the newly formed F2Z USA Corp. managing logistics, sales and marketing. In a press release announcing the deal, PHG studio manager Colby Dauch wrote, "Plaid Hat Games has always put a strong focus on the design and development process of making board games and the skill set of the team at Plaid Hat Games reflects that focus. As Plaid Hat Games has grown, the other aspects of the board game publishing business have devoured more and more of the team’s time and attention. This acquisition by F2Z Entertainment allows the Plaid Hat Games’ team to turn their attention back to what they do best..."

The press release noted that "[s]ome titles currently in the Plaid Hat Games catalog will also be gradually integrated into the F2Z Digital Media branch". F2Z Entertainment has an in-house digital media division responsible for its Pandemic iOS app, and at Gen Con 2015 F2Z marketing and communication manager Lyne Bouthillette told me that the digital media group is involved with additional work on Pandemic right now — more news on that from the iOS Board Games blog at a future date — but after that certain PHG titles might be good candidates for a digital transformation.

Starting in 2016, all titles from Plaid Hat Games will be released in French by Filosofia. (Summoner Wars and Mice and Mystics have previously appeared in French editions from Filosofia, but no other PHG titles have done so.) Bouthillette told me that F2Z is also working directly in-house to create simultaneous releases in both German and Dutch for titles from Z-Man Games and Plaid Hat Games, based on the strength of those two markets worldwide compared to other countries.
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Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:31 am
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Vampires Prepare for Their Ultimate One Night

W. Eric Martin
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Designer Ted Alspach has a long history with werewolves, dating back to 2007's Ultimate Werewolf: Whitebox Edition in which he took the familiar party game Werewolf, a.k.a. Mafia, added new roles, and gussied up the system in a fancier package. UW:WE was succeeded by Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition in 2008, then Ultimate Werewolf: Deluxe Edition in 2014 — and along the way he branched out from werewolves to include other classic monsters from the night, including the Blob, Frankenstein's Monster, and (of course) The Count.

In 2014, Alspach also released One Night Ultimate Werewolf, a licensed and revamped version of Akihisa Okui's One Night Werewolf that boiled down the Werewolf experience to lots of nighttime activity followed by a single vote that determined the fate of the village. This was followed by the standalone expansion One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak in 2015, and for 2016 Alspach is stretching out from werewolves to vampires once again, this time with One Night Ultimate Vampire. Here's the story background:

Quote:
Your sleepy little town has a problem, and this time it's not the furry kind. Vampires are roaming the streets looking to add to their numbers, while the village braces itself against the fanged assault. Some of those vampires have special powers, like the Master who can't be killed if a fellow vampire protects him, and the Count who prevents other villagers from waking to do their night actions. A lone Assassin carefully chooses a target and attempts to coerce the village into doing his dirty work for him.

But things aren't quite so desperate for the village, for they have several residents with special abilities: A Priest can remove vampirism from anyone who is attacked (and is himself immune). The Marksman can uncover information about two different residents in a single night. The Pickpocket steals, the Gremlin switches things around, and Cupid causes two people to fall madly in love...all things that somehow manage to help the village.

One Night Ultimate Vampire plays along the lines of ONUW and ONUWD, with each player taking a hidden role card, taking some action at night, then strongarming one another to try to get people to vote the "right" way — but in addition to the role cards, players now have "Marks" and these Marks move around during play. In more detail from Alspach:

Quote:
At the beginning of each game, each player receives a Mark of Clarity, which is placed face down near your role card. During the game, many of the roles have the ability to exchange your Mark for another one: The Vampires give a player the Mark of the Vampire, adding them to the Vampire team but leaving their original ability intact. The Assassin gives a player the Mark of the Assassin, which identifies their target. The Diseased gives one of the players adjacent to her a Mark of Disease, which will cause anyone voting for that player to lose.

All of this takes place as soon as the sun goes down...at dusk. Just before night, players get to examine their Marks to see if they have changed. Then other roles like the Marksman, Pickpocket, and Gremlin do their night actions (some of which involve viewing and switching marks).

ONUV can be combined with ONUW or ONUWD or both, and the app assistant that runs through the roles and serves as an automated moderator will be updated to facilitate play this way.

Alspach notes that while ONUV is due out at retail stores in January 2016, backers of the forthcoming Kickstarter campaign will have their copy shipped to them months earlier.

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Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:00 am
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Munchkin Consumes Oz, Kittens, Christmas, Hipsters and More

W. Eric Martin
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More is coming for Munchkin from Steve Jackson Games, but you probably already knew that, didn't you? Munchkin is like oxygen, constituting 21% of the gaming atmosphere and providing the means to start fires in gaming forums whenever it's raised as a topic.

Whatever your feelings, though, lots of people love Munchkin and SJG is only too happy to introduce new titles to that universe, such as Munchkin Oz, which allows players to travel with — or become — characters from the L. Frank Baum books, and Munchkin Hipsters, which is a thirty-card booster of non-hip hipster things that can be added to any standalone Munchkin game.

Strangely (or not), both titles are exclusives with particular retail partners. Munchkin Oz is available solely through the Target retail chain in the U.S., with some stores carrying the game now and August 2015 being the chainwide release date, and Munchkin Hipsters is with online retailer ThinkGeek. SJG has done such exclusives previously, with Munchkin Legends debuting in Target in 2013, then becoming available to the entire market in 2014.

Additional Munchkin titles in the offing include Munchkin Christmas Lite, a scaled-down standalone introductory game for 3-4 players that retails for $10; Munchkin Kittens, a thirty-card booster pack for any standalone Munchkin game; and Star Munchkin Cosmic Demo, which is both a 17-card booster for Star Munchkin and a rigged demo to lead others through how to play the game.

Finally, in May 2015 folk rock band The Decemberists handed out a promo card for Munchkin titled "Hireling: Cavalry Captain", the design of which is based on a song on one of their albums. As SJG's Brian Engard explains, band member Chris Funk is a fan of Munchkin, so he contacted the publisher and this promotional card, which the band handed out at concerts, is the result of their collaboration.

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Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Gen Con 2015 Last-Minute Edition – Attack on Titan, King of Tokyo: Draccus & Fury of Dracula?

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• Wow, how did I miss this item from nearly three weeks ago? I'll blame Gen Con 2015 prep work as that's probably the cause. What am I talking about? In early July 2015, Cryptozoic Entertainment and French publisher Don't Panic Games announced the acquisition of the Attack on Titan anime license to create board games. (Attack on Titan started as a manga series, and anime, novels and live-action films have been developed subsequently; Cryptozoic specifically mentions "anime" in its press release.)

Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc are the designers of the first Attack on Titan board game, scheduled for release in 2016 and (as I discovered today) available for demo games during Gen Con 2015. I've scheduled time at the show to record an overview with Bauza, but for now here's a short description of the game from Cryptozoic:

Quote:
In the game, one player takes on the role of a Titan while the others represent the human heroes fighting it. The game features a revolutionary game mechanic, the Titan piece is a vertical game board element and the hero game pieces climb in an effort to take him down.

• At Gen Con 2015, IELLO will release a new monster character that can be used in either King of Tokyo or King of New York. Draccus comes from Patrick Rothfuss's book The Name of the Wind, and all proceeds raised from the sales of this character go toward Rothfuss's charity Worldbuilders, which as a press release from IELLO notes "has to date raised over $3.5 million for Heifer International to help end hunger and bring families and communities out of poverty". (After the show, this promo character can be purchased from Rothfuss's online store, The Tinker's Packs, again with all funds going to Worldbuilders.)




Fantasy Flight Games' Fury of Dracula has been out of print and selling on the secondhand markets at prices that make one contemplate self-staking. Early in the a.m. U.S. time on July 23, FFG posted the following game page on its website:



Thanks to Jason Paterson for the screen grab!


That page is no longer present on the FFG site, but speculation is now rampant among some gamers that a new edition of Fury of Dracula will spring to light at Gen Con 2015. (I've asked FFG about this and will update the post when I receive a reply.) Update, July 23: FFG has now announced that this new edition of Fury of Dracula will be released in Q4 2015 and can be demoed at Gen Con 2015.

For those who disdain squinting, here's the text from that page:

Quote:
The most notorious vampire of all rises again in this third edition of Fury of Dracula, a board game of deduction and gothic horror based on Bram Stoker's classic novel. One player takes control of the legendary Count Dracula as he stealthily crosses Victorian-era Europe, spreading his diabolical vampirism everywhere he goes. Up to four other players govern Mina Harker and her determined companions as they try to locate and destroy the fiendish Count before he plunges Europe into horrific darkness. But in this heated game of cat and mouse, the hunted prey may also be preying on his hunters. Any day's travel might bring the hunters to Dracula's location. On any night the Count may attack.

This edition features all-new art and graphic design crafted to complement the game's intuitive, thematic mechanics. Rounds are now broken into day and night: hunters take actions during both, but Dracula can only act at night. Combat is now more streamlined and decisive, and new rumor tokens allow Dracula to mislead hunters and extend the terrible reach of his influence. Count Dracula triumphs if he advances his influence track to thirteen; if the hunters can defeat him before then, they save the continent of Europe and win the game.
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Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:49 pm
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New Game Round-up: Experience Wrath of the Dragons, Explore Labyrinth, Expand Nations & Englishify 6 Nimmt

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• At just over a week until Gen Con 2015 opens, I'm still running across news of games that will debut at the show and adding them to BGG's Gen Con 2015 Preview. The latest entrant is Wrath of the Dragons from Keith Rentz and Catalyst Game Labs, and I have little information about this self-described "resource destruction" game other than the following:

Quote:
In Wrath of Dragons, each player assumes the role of a dragon that, over the course of many centuries, flies into different regions of the Old World to lay waste to settlements, scorch fields, snatch livestock, take gold, and capture nobles. After six centuries have passed, the devastation, destruction, and fear that the dragons have caused is scored, and the dragon that earns the most victory points wins!

• Another surprise Gen Con 2015 appearance comes courtesy of Mayfair Games, which has signed a deal with German publisher AMIGO Spiel for the release of four titles in English: 6 nimmt!, No Thanks!, Saboteur, and Saboteur 2.

Charles Rice with Mayfair says that these editions are identical to the AMIGO versions, other than the rules being in English and the boxes bearing the Mayfair logo. (I'm not sure whether this will be the anniversary edition of 6 nimmt! or the regular one; in either case it's keeping the 6 nimmt! name.) Mayfair says it will have a few hundred copies of each title at Gen Con 2015, with the games reaching U.S. stores not long after the convention.

• Via the Muppet fan site Tough Pigs comes word of a game license for Jim Henson's 1986 film Labyrinth, which is remembered mostly for the scenes of David Bowie in tight pants — or at least that's what my wife tells me. The publisher in question, River Horse, offers this statement about the game license: "We can't, at time of writing, tell you much more about it at the moment, but rest assured that the film is a firm favorite here at River Horse and we are very excited to be making the game."

Lautapelit.fi and designers Håkansson x2 and Rosén x2 are working on Nations: Dynasties, a large expansion for Nations that adds twelve new Nations with Dynasties to the base game while including Dynasties for the B-sides of the base game Nations. Furthermore:

Quote:
Two additional new concepts are included: Turmoil (which makes Stability more dynamic) and Natural Wonders (which creates very hard choices and new types of interaction). Together with the new, more advanced Progress cards, the replayability is increased significantly. This expansion is recommended when you are experienced with the Expert cards of the base game.

Co-designer Rustan Håkansson has posted rules and card texts for Nations: Dynasties on BGG and invites feedback and proofreading. Says Håkansson, "When I did the same for the rules of Nations: The Dice Game, the quality of the rules were greatly increased. My hope is that with help on this we can get it ready for Essen; it is starting to get tight." He notes that this expansion fits inside the base game box, so it will be sold shrinkwrapped instead of in a box to keep the cost down.

• And speaking of Nations: The Dice Game, Håkansson notes that an expansion for this game has been making the rounds of blind playtesting. "It makes the game a lot harder and increases variation significantly", he says.
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Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:15 am
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Mercury Games to Deliver Princes of the Renaissance

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Well, well, well. After years of rumors and false starts, Martin Wallace's Princes of the Renaissance will appear in a new edition from Mercury Games, with the publisher planning to launch a Kickstarter funding campaign for it before the end of 2015.

Princes of the Renaissance first appeared from Wallace's own Warfrog Games in 2003, and like many Warfrog releases, the game had a single print run, then vanished from the market. Mercury Games has obtained worldwide rights to the design, and notes that it "has further refined the game with gameplay improvements, new tiles, and other items sure to appeal to fans of the game or those who will get to experience the Wallace-classic for the first time".

Details of those "improvements, new tiles", et al. will be released by Mercury at a later time. In a press release announcing this new edition, Richard Diosi of Mercury Games said, "We know how important it is to treat the product with the respect it deserves, while ensuring that the game benefits from the many thousands of plays over the past few years."



Near-final cover artwork


For those not familiar with the design, here's an overview:

Quote:
In Princes of the Renaissance, players take on the role of a Condottiere and attempt to influence the major cities of Italy. Using money and power, players take a stake in one or more cities and use their resources to ensure that their chosen city gains prestige at the expense of others. Each city attempts to attack or defend itself by hiring the players to lead their armies, but the outcome is not always as important to the Condottiere as gaining wealth or influence. Players will discover that even the Pope can be swayed...for the right price, of course!

The cover artwork shown above and the image below are "near final", according to Mercury's Kevin Nesbitt, "There could still be changes, but it definitely gives your readers a real sense of the direction we're taking with it."

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Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:15 pm
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Flying Frog to Bury Gen Con in Dark Gothic Shadows of Brimstone

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When I prepare the Gen Con Preview each year, one company that surprises me annually is Flying Frog Productions — not because they deviate from history in the type of games they create, but because they function something like a black box, springing all this stuff on me at once out of nowhere.

FFP did not disappoint my expectations in 2015, starting with the announcement of Dark Gothic: Colonial Horror, which both serves as an expansion for its 2014 Dark Gothic deck-building game and as a standalone game for 2-3 players. Here's an overview of the game:

Quote:
In Dark Gothic: Colonial Horror, each player takes on the role of a unique monster-hunting hero who collects allies and gear to aid them in their journeys while they root out evil and hunt supernatural creatures back to their lairs. Players must hunt down a series of increasingly difficult villains that are terrorizing the countryside before the land is consumed in shadows. Though the heroes must generally work cooperatively as a group to stop the villains from overwhelming the land, there can be only one top monster hunter amongst them when the dust clears and the final victory total is gathered.

In addition to this larger standalone game, FFP has two Dark Gothic mini-expansions: Curse of the Werewolf Game Supplement and Smuggler's Den Game Supplement. This latter title is nothing more than a name and image at this point in terms of available information, but I do have a short description of the former title:

Quote:
Dark Gothic: Curse of the Werewolf Game Supplement is a 15-card expansion for Dark Gothic that introduces a new "Werewolf's Curse" Secret card, which is similar to the Dark Secret cards from the main game but acquired in new ways. You can contract the new curse from a totem or a deadly face-off with a lycanthrope.




FFP's Jack Scott Hill notes that the company is flying in the titles mentioned above — in limited quantities, of course, although such quantities are always limited since the number of protons in the universe is finite, not to mention the available space in the Indiana Convention Center, but I think you know what I mean — but in addition to that trio of Dark Gothic titles, Flying Frog plans to have fifteen expansions and add-ons available (in limited quantities) for Shadows of Brimstone. Here's the list of those titles:

-----Shadows of Brimstone: Caverns of Cynder Expansion
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Caverns of Cynder Artifacts #1 Game Supplement
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Doorways into Darkness
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Badlands Expedition Game Supplement
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Serpentmen of Jargono Deluxe Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Masters of the Void Deluxe Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Guardian of Targa XL Enemy (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Scourge Rats / Rats Nest Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: DarkStone Brutes Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Trun Hunters Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Harvesters From Beyond Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Trederran Raiders Enemy Set (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: Burrower XXL Enemy (Gen Con Preview Version)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: SECRET Enemy Set #1 (Revealed at Gen Con)
-----Shadows of Brimstone: SECRET Enemy Set #2 (Revealed at Gen Con)

Whoa. So many things not listed in the BGG database or pictured or described in any way. Still, they're on their way to Indy!

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Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:57 am
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New Game Round-up: Steal on a Double Mission, Serve at Café International & Set Up Fun at Alan's Adventureland

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Double Mission: Beyond the Object is one of two titles coming to Spiel 2015 from Korean publisher Deinko Games, and I'm not sure why you're going "beyond the object" since you're all thieves who are trying to steal objects, but perhaps that's a subtle reminder that you're after more than the objects themselves; you want fame and glory and victory and the most awesome brokeback pose ever. Here's an overview of the design from Evan Song:

Quote:
Double Mission: Beyond the Object is a light game with a heist movie theme, à la Ocean's Eleven. It is basically a competitive game, but with a dose of semi-cooperative element.

Each player personifies a "professional thief" who attempts to retrieve valuable objects (tokens) from various cities of the world. Each city has its own security level, which is represented by the number of dice a player has to roll. The special d6 die has one "fail" side and five "success" sides. For instance, if a player wants to penetrate a level 4 city, they roll four dice and all four dice must show "success" sides.

There is a unique semi-cooperative aspect here. If a player wants to penetrate a city, they can ask for other players to join the heist. If they do, each player rolls the dice, and the theft succeeds if any one of them rolls all "success". The main player takes the valuable object from the city while the collaborator receives points for compensation. If the heist doesn't succeed, the main player and the collaborator(s) receive investigation tokens (potential penalty points).

Players continue to gather valuable objects, which can be sold for immediate points or displayed to claim "fame titles". Whoever earns the most points wins the game and is declared the greatest thief of the world.


• The other title from Deinko Games is Chronicler, and admittedly the game is something of a blank slate right now with the only description I have being that it's a card-based civilization game. In fact, the game was first shown under the title Cardvilization, which left nothing to hide. Obviously more details will come to light in the 2.5 months we have left before Spiel 2015 opens.


• U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games has posted information about two upcoming releases, one of which is a new edition of Rudi Hoffmann's Café International, which won the Spiel des Jahres in 1989. In this tile-laying game, players try to seat customers at tables that match their nationalities, but most tables are shared by two nationalities and you must keep the number of males and females at each as equal as possible!

• The other Rio Grande Games release is from Alan D. Ernstein, who has published much of his own material in the past under his Hangman Games label. This new design, Alan's Adventureland, is another take on the amusement park theme that has been showing up in recent years, e.g., Steam Park, Arcadia, and Parkies. Here's a rundown of this design:

Quote:
In Alan's Adventureland, players are a part of the design team for a new amusement park. There are four themed neighborhoods within the facility, and each player is responsible for constructing the attractions in one of those neighborhoods: Animal Kingdom, Tour America, Sky World, and Foreign Lands. Each turn represents the passage of one week.

During the game, players draw cards representing purchase orders (POs) for different types of attractions. These cards have two uses: first, as POs approved by the finance office to expedite construction of specific types of attractions each turn, and second, as the actual financing to construct the attraction represented on the card. At the end of each month, the review board meets, evaluates the progress of each neighborhood, and awards bonuses for meeting a set of predetermined preferences. These preferences relate to how attractions in a park are arranged. Points are awarded to the players who meet the review board's preferences.

At the end of the game, the owners of the facility come in and award points to the finished themed neighborhoods. These points are awarded based on four criteria:

1. Excitement Level — size of the rides
2. Parking Lot View — curb appeal to visitors upon arrival
3. Main Entrance View — attractiveness to patrons waiting in line for their tickets
4. Themed Attractions — number of matched types of attractions in a neighborhood

The player who earns the most points wins the design contract for the owners' next project.

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Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:46 pm
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Ares Games Offers a Colorful War of the Ring for 2016

W. Eric Martin
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Has it been five years already since the release of the second edition of War of the Ring? Well, not quite as the second edition of that game debuted in December 2011, but it's close enough for publisher Ares Games, which has announced that in Q2 2016 it will publish an Anniversary Release of War of the Ring (Second Edition) to tie into the game's fifth anniversary and (perhaps more importantly) the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King.

Details on this edition of the game from Ares' press release:

Quote:
This new edition of the game will feature a set of 205 figures, hand painted in a high quality style; a hot-foil stamped game board, about 20% larger than the board included in Second Edition; a unique hardcover strategy guide, the War of the Ring Companion, written by Kristofer Bengttson and featuring beautiful artwork by John Howe. The game board, cards and rules will be updated to reflect all the changes introduced by the Second Edition and to incorporate the latest rulings and frequently asked questions.

The Anniversary Release of War of the Ring Second Edition is scheduled to release in Spring, 2016, with a print run of 2000 copies in its English version. Due to the limited print run, it will be sold by preorder only, at a price of $369.00 (about €330) plus postage and packing. Preorders will open on the Ares Games web site on July, 20th 2015 and will be serviced on a first come-first served basis, with a strict limit of one copy per customer's address.


Update, July 20, 2015: Preorders have opened for the Anniversary Release of War of the Ring Second Edition and will remain open until July 22nd at 6:00 p.m. UTC.
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Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:27 pm
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