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BoardGameGeek News

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

Archive for W. Eric Martin

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New Game Round-up: Fighting Aliens, Adventurers and Freaks, Then Waking in a Coma Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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




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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Cover of the original release and logo for the new version


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

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

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




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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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




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

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




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

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

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




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




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

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

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




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




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

But wait — there's more!




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




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




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


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Sat Dec 3, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Preview: Pandemic Iberia, or Riding the Rails to Research Disease

W. Eric Martin
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Apex
North Carolina
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Matt Leacock's Pandemic is one of the four cornerstones of the modern game industry, the others being Catan, Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride.

While the original Pandemic design might not have been thought of as a formula or framework for future designs, Leacock and others have transformed it into one, with the heart of each Pandemic game being the brilliant use of the infection deck. Whenever an epidemic strikes, you inject a new location on the game board with something terrible, then you shuffle all of the revealed location cards and place them back on top of the infection deck, ready to be revealed again to escalate your current woes. You know where bad things will happen; you just don't know when and in which order. That simple mechanism mimics the behavior of actual epidemics, not to mention other catastrophes, to present players with a challenge that's simultaneously frightening and manageable.

Pandemic Iberia, co-designed with Jesús Torres Castro and published by Z-Man Games, uses this familiar formula, while adding historic twists appropriate to the game's setting in the mid-19th century. Air travel is out, while travel by train is in — assuming that you build the rails first, that is. You're not able to cure diseases outright, but you can at least research these diseases and lay the groundwork for future creative efforts by others, similar to how the original Pandemic has laid the groundwork for this creation, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, and other titles still to come.

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Fri Dec 2, 2016 1:00 pm
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