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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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Friedemann Friese, 2F-Spiele and Stronghold Games Feature Fabled Fruit and Fuji Flush

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German publisher 2F-Spiele and U.S. publisher Stronghold Games, who cooperated on the publication of Friedemann Friese's 504 in English in 2015, have announced a "Strategic Partnership" that will result in Stronghold Games co-publishing "all new future 2F-Spiele tiles in English globally effective immediately". The titles will be printed together at Ludo Fact in Germany, so according to Stronghold Games' press release about this announcement "this will also enable a virtually simultaneous worldwide release of the titles".

To go hand-in-hand with this announcement, 2F-Spiele and Stronghold Games have released info about two new Friese titles that will debut at Spiel 2016 in October: Fabled Fruit and Fuji Flush. Let's start with the larger of the two, called Fabelsaft in German:

Quote:
Once upon a time there was a marvelous forest full of gorgeous fruits. These fruits came in vivid colors with the sweetest tastes, and the best part was that the fruits could be squeezed and mixed into the most delicious juices.

You are animals living in this forest, searching for the most savory fruits. You find them with the help of friendly forest-dwellers. They give you fruits, trade them with you, or help you in other ways. It is most advantageous to be the first at these locations. If you are already at a location, you get a fruit from the animals arriving after you.

You are greedy and thirsty. Who will be the first to satisfy their appetite for fabled juices?

2F-Spiele describes Fabled Fruit as a "Fable game", noting that a Fable game "is one where the gameplay changes over time", and while that sounds like a Rob Daviau-style Legacy game at first the longer description reveals differences:

Quote:
The first time you play, the game starts in its initial state, which is a relatively simple state. But as you explore deeper into the game system, the mechanisms and gameplay experience will evolve. You play the game many times, and each play changes the game slightly. However, the game is never permanently changed. At any time you may easily restart a Fable game from the beginning, either after you have run through the entire game system, or at any time during the multiple plays you will get from this game system. The Fable game will remain just as playable on the twentieth play as it was on the first play of the game.




The other title — Fuji Flush, a.k.a. Futschikato — has an interesting history, despite it not yet being released on the market.

In March 2016, copies of a game titled Doppelt und Dreifach started showing up in the mailboxes of well-connected gamers in Germany, with the designer being listed only as "Der Bruder von Christian Anders" (the brother of Christian Anders). Then copies showed up at the Gathering of Friends convention as well. One recipient created the BGG listing, but the game didn't create a huge splash given that it was a simple card game, had no marketing, and was seen by only a few hundred people.

I skipped the Gathering in 2016 (as I'm already committed to nearly a dozen conventions for work this year, so the "just for fun" one takes a backseat), which means that I hadn't heard of the game until Chris Schreiber told me about it at Origins 2016, describing it in terms of Abluxxen (*little starbursts*) and thereby making me want it immediately.

As it turns out, Friese was pulling a Richard Bachman and trying to see what kind of reaction this unknown game from an unknown designer would get from gamers in the know. (Friese tells the complete story in a BGG GeekList.) The answer so far is "very little", but now that the Friese name is attachd to it, we'll see what happens from here. The BGG description, however, is scant:

Quote:
Be the first player to get rid of all of your cards!

Join forces with fellow players to beat cards played by other players...or independently play the highest card to outdo all your opponents together, flushing their cards down the drain!

Fuji Flush is a fast, fun, easy-to-learn card game that will have you shouting as your cards are sent down the drain!




...so let's turn to the Doppelt und Dreifach description instead:

Quote:
Doppelt und Dreifach is an abstract card game by an anonymous author. It consists of cards numbered 2-15, with higher numbers being rarer. Each player holds six cards at the beginning. In clockwise order, players play one card each. If it is higher than any other card currently on the table, the lower card is discarded and the player who had played it has to draw a new card. However, if two or more players play the same number, the card values are cumulated. When it's a player's turn and their card is still in front of them, they can discard it without redrawing. First player(s) to get rid of their cards wins.




The press release concludes by announcing that "Additional titles will be announced at a future date", but I will circle back to an earlier line in the announcement, one that clarifies the "all new" phrase in the partnership for "all new future 2F-Spiele tiles". This line: "This arrangement does not include existing 2F-Spiele game lines currently published with other partners"; the only existing 2F-Spiele game line that I can think of is Power Grid, so if anything is coming along those circuits, we might have to wait a little longer to find out.
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Wed Jul 6, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Spiel 2016 — KOSMOS Expands Andor, Invites Cunning, Revisits Luther, and Asks You to Leave the Room

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Spiel 2016 is still more than three months away at this point, but some companies have started to reveal their late 2016 titles, so expect more such round-ups like these from now through mid-October. (The Spiel 2016 Preview will go live August 8, 2016, the day after Gen Con 2016 ends. One con at a time!) That said, we can still take an early look at what KOSMOS will release:

• While Die Legenden von Andor: Die Letzte Hoffnung has been announced as the final title in Michael Menzel's Andor trilogy, this September 2016 release from KOSMOS is actually a standalone title (instead of simply an expansion) and it will be followed in February 2017 by Die Legenden von Andor: Dunkle Helden, a five- & six-player expansion that adds four new heroes to the game.

• The description of Martin and Erika Schlegel's Luther: Das Spiel is brief for now, so it's not clear what the nature of gameplay is like. KOSMOS does mention that an enclosed brochure includes background information on Luther's work, but other than that detail we have only the following for now:

Quote:
For the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's Ninety-five Theses of 1517, players can now live as Luther's contemporaries, following in his footsteps, traveling the cities where he worked, and encountering important companions of the Reformer.

Michael Rieneck's Mit List und Tücke is billed as having "twenty cards with which to cut and thrust" and other than 52 influence crests that's it for game components. Here's an overview:

Quote:
The King is dead; long live the Queen! Or vice versa, really, as in the intriguing game Mit List und Tücke it's hard to tell what everyone is up to and who will have the greatest impact until it all ends. Yes, the bishop's poison has been touched, but has it been administered to the abbot or is it still waiting to be used? What's happening with the witch? And the executioner is waiting for his next job...

At the beginning of a round, each player has four character cards in hand. On your turn, you play a card in front of you and follow its instructions. With some cards, you can carry out actions on your opponent and bring an end to the round's influence — but only if you don't fall victim to your opponent in the process.

• Four years after the release of the base game, Andreas Steiger's Targi gets an expansion in the plainly titled Targi: Die Erweiterung, which like the item above is due out September 2016. An overview:

Quote:
The expansion of the tribe goes on in Targi: Die Erweiterung. With water as a new element, the tribe has more flexibility in how it will extend itself. To send a Targi to a drifting sand dune can be an advantage at the right moment, and whoever searches near the Tuareg woman — the Targia — will be rewarded.

Word Slam from the team of Inka and Markus Brand will likely be a hard pass for English speakers, but for those learning or already speaking German, I present the following:

Quote:
In the communication game Word Slam, two teams compete against one another simultaneously.

In each round, one player on each team tries to get their teammates to guess a hidden word or phrase using only the 105 explanatory cards available in the box — no words! A player can use as many explanatory cards as desired, and whichever team guesses correctly first scores a point.

• The Brands are also responsible for a trio of "escape room" games from KOSMOS — EXIT: Das Spiel – Das geheime Labor, Die Grabkammer des Pharao, and Die verlassene Hütte — with each of them being a single-play experience for €13 that puts 1-6 players in a sticky situation with nothing more than a notebook and a spinning code dial of some sort to get them started on the path to freedom.

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Tue Jul 5, 2016 6:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Sail an Angry Ocean, Prepare to Go Backstage, and Ascend Above and Below

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Okay, I've posted all of our 2016 Origins Game Fair coverage — 162 videos in all — in one week (and less than two weeks after Origins ended!), with only the five uncut, day-long livestream videos still to be posted. (They're ~15GB each, and YouTube is taking forever to process them.)

What next? The Gen Con 2016 Preview bears 228 listings, and while I have another 10-20 messages in the inbox about Gen Con right now, I feel mostly caught up, so let's use this round-up to kick out a bunch of short notes about this and that.

• As mentioned in April 2016, Portal Games will release a scenario expansion pack for Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot at Gen Con 2016. Angry Ocean contains two unique dice, a character card for each, and 28 other cards. In "Angry Ocean", the ocean fights back with krakens, rocks, wrecks, and whirlpools, while in "Old Dogs" the players start with fully-equipped galleons and focus solely on the treasure.

• Canadian company Lion Rampant Imports will release two Schmidt Spiele titles — Wolfgang Kramer's Vampire Queen and Guido Hoffmann's Castle Flutterstone — in North America, with the former due out in August 2016 and the latter in Q3 2016 in a new English/French edition.

Stone Blade Entertainment has opened preorders for Ascension X: War of Shadows, with copies bearing a Chaos Rider promo and due out in July 2016.

Shakespeare: Backstage, an expansion for Hervé Rigal's Shakespeare from Ystari Games, adds new actors, new objectives, and new costumes to the game, along with backstage cards that allow players to place unwagered cylinders on the deck and spend them on special abilities, "such as placing fewer rest tokens, adding hats to actors, or increasing ambiance".

Catan Studio plans to re-release Klaus Teuber's Struggle for Catan in August 2016 in a tuckbox edition for $13.

• On Facebook, artist Pascal Quidault has shared cover artwork for "the new edition of game Sherlock Holmes, published soon by Space Cowboys". Ystari's Cyril Demaegd is a member of Space Cowboys, so the transition of this title from one publisher to the other is not surprising.

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Fri Jul 1, 2016 3:05 pm
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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

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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

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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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Origins Game Fair 2016 VIII: Wasteland Express Delivery Service, ManaSurge, Herbaceous, Salem, and Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis

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• I keep hoping that we'll get a wave of post-nonapocalyptic games — you know, games in which people do fun things and enjoy decades of a satisfied existence among neighbors who are equally filled with the joys and frustrations that result from modern-day life, but apparently I'll have to wait a bit longer for such things as right now we are previewing Wasteland Express Delivery Service from the design trio of Matt Riddle, Ben Pinchback and Jonathan Gilmour and the publishing duo IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games.





• "A game of hot potato with fireballs" — that's the short description of Frank Sronce's ManaSurge from Daily Magic Games' Isaias Vallejo.





Herbaceous is a press-your-luck set collection game from Steve Finn and Eduardo Baraf of Pencil First Games with great looking art from Beth Sobel in which you're trying to score different sets of herbs by mooching from the communal supply in addition to collecting your own plants.





Joshua Balvin's Salem has been in the works for years, having funded on Kickstarter in 2012 but making it into the public for the first time at the 2016 Origins Game Fair, with Passport Game Studios having come on board as a production partner.





Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis from Stan and Mike Strickland and Outer Limit Games aims to give you a 4X experience in space.

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Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 VII: Defenders of the Last Stand, Fate of the Elder Gods, Shark Island, Superhero Solitaire, and Gloomhaven

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• Designer Richard Launius turned up at the BGG booth three times during the 2016 Origins Game Fair to talk about upcoming titles, including his take on the post-apocalyptic genre with Defenders of the Last Stand from 8th Summit.





Fate of the Elder Gods — another Launius design, put together with Chris Kirkman and Darrell Louder of Greater Than Games — has you trying to bring about the end of the world by summoning your Elder God before anyone else can summon theirs.





• Our Launius trilogy ends with an overview of Shark Island, a co-design with Pete Shirey from Upper Deck that pits one shark player against everyone else in the water and on the shore. Can the shark create enough terror in time to win?





• Are you ready to fight crime and defend the forces of good while putting red cards on black cards? If so, then have a peek at Superhero Solitaire from Robert Kouba and 8th Summit's Jason Maxwell, which transforms the solitaire game Klondike into a special-powered bash-up.





Isaac Childres' Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games takes the prize for "longest demo video" at Origins 2016, but the game has a lot to show off and is hugely anticipated, so it was good to bank that time at the show. (Lesson learned for Gen Con since it's good not to feel too stressed to shove in every game possible when you want to highlight something people really want to see.)

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Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 VI: Tyrants of the Underdark, Imperial Settlers: 3 Is a Magic Number, Catacombs & Castles, Sausage Party, and Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk

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• My lack of knowledge about Dungeons & Dragons is on full display in this overview of Tyrants of the Underdark, the first D&D board game from Wizards of the Coast publishing partner Gale Force Nine — although as Jean-Paul Brisigotti explained at Origins Game Fair 2016, much of the design came to GF9 via Lords of Waterdeep designers Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson.





• Ignacy Trzewiczek' Imperial Settlers from Portal Games had a new faction announced for it during Origins 2016 — Aztecs, with this announcement by way of Poland — but at Origins itself one day prior to that announcement we took a look at the 3 Is a Magic Number Empire Pack.





Aron West from Elzra showed off the disc-flicking game Catacombs & Castles and explained how it compares to their similar-but-not-that-similar Catacombs.





• I love real-time games, but I've found few people in my area who dig them as much as I do, so it was with great relish that we welcomed Mike Selinker to the BGG booth to give us a taste of Sausage Party from Lone Shark Games. Click on the link below for a spicy preview.





• Selinker also presented the much anticipated Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk, which Avalon Hill will release in October 2016 in time for holiday spooking and playing.

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Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:30 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 V: Arkwright, Haspelknecht, Salvation Road, The Fog of War, and The Dragon & Flagon

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Sydney and Brian Engelstein — two-thirds of the design team of The Dragon & Flagon from Stronghold Games along with father Geoff — visited the BGG during Origins Game Fair 2016 to jump on tables, swing from the chandelier, and explain how to play the game.





• Brian Engelstein then stuck around to explain The Fog of War, a Stronghold Games title credited to Geoff E. on which Brian E. apparently did much playtesting and development work. I'm not sure what constitutes a "credit threshold" in the Engelstein household; perhaps the family can explore that topic in a future Ludology episode.





Peter Gousis, co-designer of Salvation Road with Michael D. Kelley, thanked me for publishing this video the day that copies started arriving to Kickstarter backers from Van Ryder Games, but I think that coincidence is solely on them. In any case, here's how you're trying to survive the post-apocalyptic wasteland this time.





Capstone Games is debuting on the U.S. market with a new edition of Stefan Risthaus' Arkwright, a title first released by Spielworxx that then vanished as its short print run was snatched up by gamers. Capstone has made a few additions to the design to provide more play variety in the long run.





• The next project coming from Capstone Games is a new edition of Thomas Spitzer's Haspelknecht, which was the third title in his coal trilogy, but the first from Capstone since it serves as an introductory experience compared to the other two designs.

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:00 pm
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Origins Game Fair 2016 IV: Mystic Vale, Dominion: Empires, Clout, Morocco, and Heir to the Pharaoh

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• The Dominion empire that Donald X. Vaccarino and Rio Grande Games has constructed over the past decade is impressive, and it expands still further with, um, Dominion: Empires, which RGG's Jay Tummelson took the time to introduce to us at the 2016 Origins Game Fair.





• At Origins 2016, Patrick Nickell of Crash of Games announced a license for a new version of Clout from Jesper Myrfors and Paul Peterson, with this new version being non-collectible and possibly having myriad other changes before its anticipated Q4 2017 release.





• After watching this overview of Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback's Morocco from Eagle-Gryphon Games, I am once again curious as to why they have a vendetta against juice vendors. What's the story here?





• Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! That's (sort of — okay, not really) what you're getting in Alf Seegert's two-player game Heir to the Pharaoh from Eagle-Gryphon Games.





• John D. Clair's Mystic Vale from Alderac Entertainment Group ended up topping the GeekBuzz chart at Origins 2016. Find out what's going on in this non-deck-building game that feels exactly like a deck-building game...

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Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:00 pm
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