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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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New Game Round-up: Martin Wallace Visits Via Nebula, Libellud Reveals Hidden Signs for Mysterium & Witches Fly Again in Broom Service: The Card Game

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• What's this? A fantasy-based Martin Wallace design from Space Cowboys? Yes, at first glance Via Nebula — a 2-4 player design due in Q2 2016 — isn't something I would have expected from Wallace, but once you get into the meat of the gameplay below, it's easier to imagine:

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Crafters, builders and carriers — your help is needed to dispel the mists of Nebula! The people of the valley will reward you handsomely if you harvest and exploit our many resources, open paths through the mists, and help our settlers build new structures. Cooperate temporarily with other builders in order to create paths and share goods, but do not forget your own objectives. Will you have a statue erected in your honor on the Nebula City plaza?

A game of Via Nebula starts with a board showing a hexagonal grid, some production sites with a few available resources on them (wood, stone, wheat, and pigs), building sites in various areas scattered over the whole board, and a lot of mist.

Turn after turn, players have two actions at their disposal from these options: They may clear the mist of a hex to create new paths of transportation, open new production sites, open a building site in a city, carry resources from any production site to their own building sites, and, of course, achieve a construction. Resources and paths through the mist may be used by all the players. This initially induces a kind of cooperation, but eventually other players will take advantage of your actions!

To achieve a construction, you fulfill a contract on one of your cards. You start the game with two contracts, and four more contracts are available for all players to see and use on a first come, first served basis — and that's where the cooperation abruptly stops. Additionally, most contracts have special powers that are triggered on completion.

The game ends when a player finishes a fifth building. Opponents each take two final actions, then players score based on the number of cleared hexes and opened production sites and the point value of their contracts, with a bonus for the player who ended the game.

What about Route 666, another Wallace/Space Cowboys design that was originally announced as a 2015 release? I'll see whether I can get an update on this while attending the Spielwarenmesse fair in Nürnberg, Germany this week.

• Hey, speaking of Spielwarenmesse, here's a short summary of Broom Service: The Card Game, coming from designers Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister and publisher alea, with this title due out in April 2016 in Europe and in June in the U.S. This design is not Witch's Brew, the precursor to the Broom Service board game, but something else entirely:

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Broom Service: The Card Game focuses on the brave/cowardly mechanism used in the Broom Service board game.

Okay, not much to go on there. The game consists of 160 cards (witches, goals, victory point tables) and takes five minutes per player. What's more, alea developer Stefan Brück notes that Broom Service: The Card Game includes "some separate expansion cards for the board game". Exactly what those cards are and how this game works is something I hope to find out in the next week!


• Another Spielwarenmesse preview item will be Mysterium: Hidden Signs, from Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko, and Libellud. Here's all the info I have for now:

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They thought the secret of Warwick mansion had been solved and the spirit had found peace, but now new signs have emerged that were previously hidden. New suspects, places, and objects that do not fit into the picture — and the presence of the ghost is strong once again.

In Mysterium: Hidden Signs, the spiritualists must return to the old mansion and investigate these disturbing visions. Will they understand all the instructions this time and give the ghost its final rest?

• In non-Toy Fair news, in 2016 Stronghold Games will release an English-language version of City of Spies: Estoril 1942 from designers Gil d'Orey and Antonio Sousa Lara. To learn how to play this hidden placement game, check out this overview video that I recorded with d'Orey at Spiel 2015:

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Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Bézier Games Sells America, Libellud Visits More Loonies & NSV Invites Existential Despair

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• Like Fauna or Terra? America from Bézier Games reworks the game system at the heart of those Friedemann Friese designs to, according to co-designer Ted Alspach, "make it more accessible and fun than its more serious lineage". Here's an overview of gameplay for those not familiar with the game system:

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• In which year was Close Encounters first in theaters?
• Which state gets the most snow each year?
• How many albums has Madonna sold?

It's likely that you don't know any of these facts, but you might have a rough idea, and that's good enough because America is a party game in which being close counts. And what if you have absolutely no idea what the answer is? Take advantage of your friends who do know. And if you realize that no one (including you) seems to know what the answer is, you can bet against everyone!

In America, which includes almost one thousand questions covering more than three hundred topics, each player uses their knowledge of pop culture, food, products, games, sports, and United States history to score more points than their opponents. If your opponents know something that you don't, you can leverage their knowledge to your advantage, scoring more than them with clever play. The cards have full color clues to help you, as well as interesting factoids for every question in the game.

As for changes to the system, Alspach says that the length/distance bar has been removed, with each "region" now being exactly one U.S. state. and no ocean or non-USA regions being part of the game. The title and picture on a card relate to the year, number and state on that card, although Alspach adds that "the state isn't tied as closely to the topic as it was in Terra". All answers are singular, that is, the number or year are not a range but only a single numeral. The game board is double-sided, with the reverse side having unlabeled U.S. states.

As for the scoring, America features new "No Exact" and "No Exact or Adjacent" squares for the two bars and the "states" section. As Alspach explains, "Players get 3 points if there are no cubes on the correct answer ('No Exact') and/or 7 points if there are no cubes on the correct or adjacent answers ('No Exact or Adjacent')."


• German publisher Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag has only one new title for the first half of 2016: the somewhat tragic-looking Life Is Life from Lorenz Kutschke. Here's an overview, which I've summarized from the rules:

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Every player starts Life Is Life with five life cards, and things only go downhill from there.

To set up a round, shuffle the sixty-card deck, deal ten cards face down to each player, then place ten cards face up on the table in four rows, with the rows holding 1-4 cards. The deck consists of animal cards, with nine giraffe cards, eight bear cards, seven each mole and goat, and so on down to three mouse cards.

On a turn, a player either swaps 1-4 cards in hand with the face-up row that contains the same number of cards or knocks on the table to signal the end of the round; when a player knocks, each other player can make one final swap or also knock. Players then compare cards in hand to see who holds a majority of each type of animal. If a player holds more giraffe cards than each other player, for example, then that player keeps one giraffe card (worth 9 points as nine such cards are in the game) while all other giraffe cards are discarded. (A player can hold a majority by having one card and no one else having any cards.) After all animal types are compared, whoever has the most points loses no life cards; whoever has the fewest points loses two life cards; and whoever has a total between these extremes loses one life card.

Alternatively, if during a round a player collects all four cats or all five rabbits or pigs in hand, that player can end the round immediately, with all other players losing one life card.

If a player runs out of life cards, they're out of the game. At the end of a round, shuffle the cards and play again. Whoever last clings to life wins!

• With the Spielwarenmesse fair opening in just two days, I'm still adding titles to BGG's Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview, such as Libellud's Loony Quest: The Lost City, which adds more complications to the already involved (by comparison to Doodle Quest) design from Laurent Escoffier and David Franck. Here's a sneak peek at what you'll find inside:

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The Arkadia tournament is now over, but the king's exiled evil brother Vadoor has caught the five adventurers and is sending them far away. To save the kingdom, our heroes must begin by fleeing a pirate ship. During their escape, they will find the legendary sunken city of Spectra, inhabited by a hitherto-unknown, ancient tribe of Loonies who appear to have come from another galaxy. Where will this new quest lead our adventurers?

In Loony Quest: The Lost City, the first expansion for Loony Quest, players discover five new worlds and strive to master the previously unseen challenges of this 32-level content pack! Travel through secret passages that let you reappear in another location on the level. A 3D-pyramid spaceship turns up the fun factor of the new levels and brings a new angle to the original Loony Quest game, boosting replayability.

New special stages and more bonus and penalty tokens add up to even more fun with the players around the table!

What does this pyramid look like, by chance? Well, like this:

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Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:02 pm
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New Game Round-up: SeaFall Lands at Plaid Hat, Days of Wonder Establishes Monuments & Indonesia Returns to Print

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• Designer Rob Daviau says that he has delivered the final version of SeaFall to publisher Plaid Hat Games. As for when the game will actually be released, well, I'll be visiting the F2Z Entertainment booth at Spielwarenmesse this week in Nürnberg, Germany (F2Z being Plaid Hat's owner), so I'll let you know what I find out.

• For the release of Quadropolis in March/April 2016, Days of Wonder plans to celebrate with the publication of several promotional monument tiles. Monuments — which are used only in the game's expert mode — are rare buildings that earn you victory points when placed next to parks, shops, or public services in the city that you build, but cost you points when placed next to harbors or factories. To use one of these tiles, replace the monument tile in the base game that bears the same ID number as the promo tile. (Monuments with the same ID number cannot coexist in the game, even if they have different final letters.)

The four tiles below — Monuments of the World — will be available as part of the prerelease program in the U.S. and through retail stores in Europe. What's more, each market in which the game debuts (Korea, Spain, Belgium, etc.) will have a unique promo tile of its own featuring a real-world monument from that country.


• Dutch publisher Splotter Spellen has opened preorders for new editions of Indonesia (first released in 2005) and The Great Zimbabwe (from 2012), with those titles due for release at some point prior to Spiel 2016 in October. Indonesia co-designer Joris Wiersinga has clarified some of the changes to this new edition in a BGG thread; for The Great Zimbabwe, the publishers state that "We will include thicker wooden pieces. Other changes are not yet confirmed."

• Along the same lines, Asmadi Games is taking preorders for Mottainai, Red7, and Innovation, games that are already on the market, but Asmadi is judging the market for versions of its games that include "100% plastic cards", versions that generally cost twice as much as the far-less-hip paper versions.

Blue Orange Games co-owner Thierry Denoual notes that BOG will release a new edition of Claude Leroy's Gyges in 2017.

• To continue the stream of Antoine Bauza tweets, here's a small mention of an expansion being in the works for 7 Wonders: Duel:

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Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:03 pm
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Portal Games Cries Havoc, Revives 51st State & Takes You to Mars

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• Polish publisher Portal Games is hosting Portalcon 7 on Jan. 23, 2016, and as part of that event designer Ignacy Trzewiczek is announcing titles that you can expect to see from Portal in 2016, with three of these titles being 51st State: Master Set, Cry Havoc, and First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet.

Details about these games are minimal right now. First Martians, for example, is based on Trzewiczek's Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, but set on the planet Mars, with players facing "the hostile Martian environment and a whole host of new adventures and challenges".

Cry Havoc — from designers Grant Rodiek, Michał Oracz, and Michał Walczak — is "a card-driven, asymmetric war game set in a brutal, science fiction setting". (Cry Havoc was born as Battle for York, and Rodiek has an overview of the design on his Hyperbole Games website.)

51st State: Master Set is likely a collection of all things 51st State, but exactly which things will have to wait until later — possible when Trzewiczek runs through his announcements at Portalcon 7, which he plans to share via Periscope. For now (and always), though, you can experience this teaser video. (More teaser videos below.)





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Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:03 pm
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New Game Round-up: Journey North in Andor, Create Stories of Doctor Who and Bugs Bunny & Learn About Matt Leacock, Knit Wit

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• Thames & Kosmos, the North American branch of German publisher KOSMOS, has announced its new releases for 2016, and as with its 2015 line-up, the list includes titles both old and new.

To start with the new, two German releases — Klaus and Benjamin Teuber's Smugglers and Phil Walker-Harding's Imhotep — will be released in the U.S. in, respectively, June and August 2016.

Michael Menzel's Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, first released in German in 2014, is also due out in August 2016 in English. This title will be preceded by English-language editions of Rudi Hoffmann's Tally Ho! and Dirk Henn's The Rose King, the first ever English edition of this title that first appeared in Germany in 1997.

Maybe we'll even see Flowerpower reappear in the future at this rate...



• Following the introduction of Batman and Moomin themed dice sets in 2015, in 2016 The Creativity Hub plans to release three new themed sets of Rory's Story Cubes, this tie with images from Doctor Who, Looney Tunes, and Scooby Doo.

In addition to these larger sets, The Creativity Hub has three mini-sets for 2016: Powers, Medieval and Rescue. All of these sets can be combined with one another or with existing Story Cubes sets.



• On Jan. 18, 2016, I posted a teaser image of Matt Leacock's Knit Wit, due out March 2016 from Z-Man Games, and now I can explain how the game is played, which will reduce the cryptic nature of that initial image.

Knit Wit is a word game along the lines of Scattergories, with players trying to think up unique answers to particular categories in order to score points, but players (kind of) generate their own categories while playing the game.

To set up, each player takes numbered spools and looped strings based on the number of players, along with an answer sheet. A number of bonus buttons, which have 1-4 holes, are stacked on the table, again based on the number of players. Going clockwise around the table, each player (after the first) places one loop on the table so that it surrounds exactly one spool, then draws a word tag from the box and attaches it to this loop, then places one spool in one section of loop(s) that has no spool in it. (Think of a Venn diagram; two overlapping circles form three sections, with one section having both circles in common and two sections being part of only one circle. I believe the playtest name for this design was "Venntertainment".)


Once all of the spools have been placed, everyone races to think of words, names, or phrases for each spool based on the word tags associated with that spool. If a spool has three loops around it, for example, it has three words associated with it, and your answer must relate to those words in some manner.

As soon as someone has finished or can't think of more answers, they grab the topmost button on the stack (the one with the most holes). Once the final button is grabbed, players can't write more answers. Players then compare answers, crossing out those they have in common with someone else, then scoring points for the remaining answers; each answer is worth as many points as the number of loops around the spool with the same number. Buttons are worth as many points as the number of holes they have, and whoever has the highest score wins.

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Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:21 pm
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New Game Round-up: Noshing on Sushi, Building Walls, and Fighting for Treasure

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• Time for another look at some of the titles coming in 2016, with these being only a few of the dozens of games on BGG's Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview.

Designer Phil Walker-Harding appears to be having a banner year as in addition to Imhotep from KOSMOS, the Cacao: Chocolatl expansion from ABACUSSPIELE and Archaeology: The New Expedition from Z-Man Games, U.S. publisher Gamewright plans to release Sushi Go Party!, a supersized version of his much-loved Sushi Go! card game. Here's an overview from Gamewright:

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Sushi Go Party! is a party platter of mega maki, super sashimi, and endless edamame. You still earn points by picking winning sushi combos, but now you can customize each game by choosing à la carte from a menu of more than twenty delectable dishes. What's more, up to eight players can join in on the sushi-feast. Let the good times roll!

I'll be at NY Toy Fair in mid-February 2016 to take pics, record video, and find out more about this game and many others.

• Another title that will be on display at NY Toy Fair is Brix from designers Charles Chevallier and Blue Orange Games' Thierry Denoual, with this game exhibiting all that you expect from BOG in the way of minimal rules that invite immediate playability:

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Brix brings a new dimension to tic-tac-toe, with players building a wall of X and O bricks by stacking their pieces on top of each other. The first player to align four of their symbol or color in a row wins the game.

In more detail, the bricks are effectively two cubes pushed together, with half the brick being orange and the other half blue; when an orange face shows an X, the blue face shows an O and vice versa. Each turn the active player adds one brick to the wall either vertically or horizontally, with each new brick connecting to existing bricks on at least one face and at most eight symbols in a horizontal row. If no one has won by the time that all bricks are in the wall, then on their turn players remove one brick and place it in a new location; if you knock the wall over on your turn, you lose.

The winning condition can be changed depending on how challenging you want the game to be: (1) Connecting four squares of your color OR four of your symbol; (2) Connecting four squares of your color AND four of your symbol; or (3) Connecting four squares of any color AND four of any symbol.

• French publisher Catch Up Games debuted in 2015 with Sapiens, which I covered on video here, and for its sophomore release Catch Up will have an exploration/racing/fighting game from Pierre Buty titled SOL, with artwork from Naïade. Here's an overview of gameplay:

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Land your crew on the island of SOL, a highly colorful but forgotten island in the Atlantic Ocean, then pit your skills against another team to find and (more importantly) leave the island with the treasure of the God of the Sun.

In SOL, players divide into two teams: adventurers vs. conquistadors, with each team having three or four characters. Each character has movement, fighting, and search skills; inventory for two or three items; and a unique special ability for use in the advanced game.

On a turn, all of the characters on one team act first, one after another, then the opposite team goes. During your turn, use your action points to move your character and search on the island. If you meet someone from the other team, you can fight them, whether to steal the treasure or simply to set them back. When you search, you might find move and fight tokens to save for the future; flags that let you claim a dock on the island to make it easier to leave; or clues to the treasure. The clue tokens let you play cards, and those cards determine where the treasure will be found — ideally in a spot more advantageous for you than the other team.

Once the final clue has been found, the treasure is up for grabs, with a team needing to having one of its characters possess it on a dock to which they have access at the start of their turn. Thus, holding it isn't enough as the other team can possibly steal it away on their turn.

In addition to the NY Toy Fair, I'll be at Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg in late January 2016 — next week! — to record video overviews of this design and dozens of others.

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Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:10 pm
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New Game Round-up: Gods Reborn in Thunder & Lightning, Unexpected Meals from a Magician & Knot What You Expect from Matt Leacock

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Matt Leacock and cooperative games go together like oxygen and more oxygen, but his next release is (surprisingly) a party game. Here's an overview of Knit Wit, which Z-Man Games plans to release in March 2016:

Quote:
In Knit Wit, you craft your own word categories using loops and spools, then find playful answers that match as many categories as possible. The more categories you match, the more points you score! Who will be quick enough to grab the bonus buttons? Every point counts when victory hangs by a thread!

Okay, that description doesn't tell you much. Perhaps this image helps? If not, Z-Man Games says that it will release rules for Knit Wit the week of January 25, 2016.



• In 2016, Z-Man Games also plans to release Richard Borg's Thunder & Lightning in 2016, with this game being a new version of 2000's Hera and Zeus that has larger decks and a different distribution of cards. Gameplay remains the same, though, with players laying out cards face down on a battlefield, using cards for their (now Norse instead of Greek) mythological powers, or challenging an opponent's card in their front line. If you remove all of the opponent's cards, prevent them from using their action points, or capture Odin's Crown or Ring (as appropriate), you win.


• In an interview on Tabletop Together, designer Andreas Steiger has confirmed that German publisher KOSMOS has signed a contract for a Targi expansion. An excerpt:

Quote:
I have worked on that expansion for quite a while now and always thought, like I did with Targi: "If Kosmos don't want to publish it, my wife and I have an awesome expansion just for the two of us." But the long development time really improved the expansion, from just a bunch of new tribe cards, to some great new gameplay elements.

My latest change in the game convinced Kosmos at last. Shortly beforehand my editor told me that they would not publish the expansion for an expansion's sake, but only if the test players never wanted to play without it again. After a prototype weekend this spring, my editor contacted me and said: "The play testers told me they never want to play without the expansion again, so now we have to publish it!"

Whether other publishers of the base game will want to license the expansion is still in the works.

Artana and designer Dirk Knemeyer have an expansion coming for Tesla vs. Edison titled Powering Up that allows players to build headquarters, hire female entrepreneurs, respond to (then) current events, and have up to six players at the table.

• "Harry Houdini is throwing a dinner party for the world's greatest magicians." Not a description I expected to see, but I'm at least intrigued enough to keep reading, especially when combined with the title Houdini's Poutini, this being the debut title from Molly Cooper and Andrew Stengele at Forced Perspective Entertainment. Here's more about the game:

Quote:
To make this evening more special, he has prepared a unique delicacy — poutine! Unfortunately for everyone at the party, Houdini is a terrible cook. Each player must use their skills in magic to escape from the party without hurting Houdini's feelings.

Houdini's Poutini is a competitive game in which each player represents a group of five magicians. They must collect a combination of item cards with which they can perform magical escapes from the party. The Houdini card will mingle about the party, making it more difficult to escape the party without hurting his feelings. You must use your skills as a magician to get your entire group free from the party before time runs out and the poutine is served. When only one player remains or time runs out, anyone who was unable to escape must politely choke-down Houdini's ill-prepared Franken-dish.

A variation on rummy with a splash of Old Maid with lots of screwing over your opponents, Houdini's Poutini is a fast-paced and exciting card game for any with a strong mind and stronger stomach.

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Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:00 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Second Chances and New Editions

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• Let's start this crowdfunding round-up with a complaint about database issues and clarity: French publisher Capsicum Games has already funded Fleet Commander: Genesis nearly twice over, yet a glance at the BGG database doesn't find the game and swipe down the Kickstarter project page doesn't tell me how this game relates to 2014's Fleet Commander: 1 – Ignition from Capsicum. Sequel? Reimplementation? Standalone expansion? Hmm.

A post from a French BGG user states that "Genesis is NOT a new version of Fleet Commander, it's a starter set for 4 players (Ignition is the starter set for 2 players). Rules are the same.", but why do I need to trust Joe Random Gamer instead of hearing all of this from the publisher directly? If I had any interest in space combat games, perhaps I would already have researched such things and know the answers, and the project does have more than $100K in support, so hundreds of people are cool with the info they have, but still this seems like an opportunity lost. (KS link)

• To contrast that project, let's look at The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction from James Mathe at Minion Games. After two paragraphs and images describing the game, we have this: "MP: Chain Reaction is a stand alone game based on the popular Manhattan Project board game by Minion Games, this is a simpler card-only game using dual-purpose cards in a quick and exciting race to completion." Now that gets the job done! (KS link)

• Similarly, Mayday Games has a new edition of Dead Man's Draw on KS, and after we wade through the (typical for Mayday) "back this now for a limited edition sticker" nonsense at the top of the page, we come to a section headlined "Differences From Prior Version" which nicely details what those who already know about the game will know about this version. I'm not sure why this section comes prior to the section that describes what the game is actually about, but I'm hardly a KS expert, so what do I know? (KS link)

• Speaking of new editions, two Spiel 2015 releases — or prereleases, if you will — are funding new editions via Kickstarter, both of them bearing new looks: Alessandro Zucchini's Liguria from Queen Games has replaced the claustrophobic "bags on a ship" cover with one featuring burros (or some kind of pack animal), which makes the whole thing more approachable. (KS link)

Artipia Games, together with Stronghold Games, is taking a less idyllic, more lively approach for the new edition of The Pursuit of Happiness from Adrian Abela, Vangelis Bagiartakis, and David Chircop. Neither approach outshines the other, in my opinion, but I have to detract points from the current representative image since it's available solely in 3D. Upload flat cover images, please! (KS link)

• In the department of second chances, we find Luca Vince Caltabiano's racing game Street Kings from Board to Death on KS for a second run (KS link), while Nova Aetas — a tactical battle game from Ludus Magnus Studio set in an alternative Italian Renaissance timeline — has now passed the finish line on its third go. (KS link) Andrew Sallwasser of Steamboat Gothic Studio is also toasting the success of his tile-laying game Biergarten on its second sitting at the funding table. (KS link)

• Mitsuo Yamamoto of Logy Games released the two-player abstract strategy game Moon-Sun-Angel at Tokyo Game Market in November 2015, and now he's offering the game on a larger scale through Kickstarter, with multiple designs being available but the goal still being the same: Get four of your pieces in a row, four of the same symbol in a row, or two sets of three symbols in a row. (KS link)

• Each year needs at least one chemistry-based game of atom-combining, and for 2016 we have Chemical Spill from Jason Goudie and Chemisode, which has players drafting chemicals round by round to create meth(anol) and other compounds. (KS link)

• Tim Page's Toast! from MadeUp Games recreates the spirit of the confrontation between Vizzini and the man in black in The Princess Bride, but with up to a dozen players competing in this game of misdirection. (KS link)

• Based on the title, I was sure that Get Adler!, a hidden-identity social deduction game from Randy Thompson and Caper Games, was based on a true story. Why else choose the odd and difficult to say name "Adler"? And yes, Wikipedia does catalog suspicions about Solomon Adler, who was an economist in the U.S. Treasury Department who supposedly passed information to the American Communist party in the 1930s and 1940s — but no, "Get Adler! was inspired by Sherlock Holmes and other detective stories". (KS link)

• The Card Caddy holds a deck of cards and converts to a combined deck-holder and discard tray once opened. Chris Nichols ran a KS for this item once, and now he's back on KS with caddies that hold thicker decks of cards and have optional dice trays. (KS link)

• And then, of course, there's Scott Almes' Tiny Epic Western from Gamelyn Games — but given that the project has racked up more than $200K in support in less than a week, I suspect that many of you already know about it. (KS link)


Editor’s note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:12 pm
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Links: Car Wars Revs Up, Toronto Cafés Serve Even More Games & Cards Against Humanity Gives People Time Off Work

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• For the last three years, the people behind Cards Against Humanity have run one or more holiday promotions in which they sell...something (or sometimes nothing), then use the money to do all sorts of unexpected things. For 2015, they used part of the money raised from sales of Eight Sensible Gifts for Hannukah to give the employees at its printer a week's paid vacation:

Quote:
Our printer in China has grown with us from a small business to a huge operation, and it's important to us to go above and beyond our obligation to the workers who make our game. While our factory provides excellent wages and working conditions, Chinese working conditions are generally more strict. This year, we used the money from one day of our holiday promotion to give our workers something very uncommon in China: a paid vacation.

The printer didn't have any formal procedures for paid vacations, so we bought 100% of the factory's capacity and paid them to produce nothing for a week, giving the people who make Cards Against Humanity an unexpected chance to visit family or do whatever they pleased.

CAH posted pics and notes from the employees that show what some of them did with their time off.

(While not holiday related, CAH's Max Temkin has also sent a small gift to the militia group occupying the wildlife refuge in Oregon: a 55-gallon drum of lubricant.)

• Seven employees of television station WTOL in Toledo, Ohio also find themselves with time on their hands courtesy of Cards Against Humanity, but that's because they were fired for playing CAH "while at the station on New Year's weekend". As for why they were fired:

Quote:
Station officials declined to comment on the firings other than to release this statement from station vice-president and general manager Brian Lorenzen:

"WTOL takes seriously its employment policies and our obligation to provide an environment in which all employees are treated with respect and dignity. As a result, WTOL had to take personnel actions this week related to several employees. Due to personnel matters being involved, we cannot comment further."

Steve Jackson Games has published its 2015 stakeholders report, and it's always an interesting read, given the inside look at one of the largest hobby game publishers in the U.S., and this time it also provides hints of future releases, namely the intention to ship Car Wars Sixth Edition "to distributors before Black Friday" (a.k.a. the Friday following Thanksgiving in the U.S.), "which means the game must go to print before July 2", which means that if all goes according to plan the Car Wars Kickstarter project won't be too far in the future. (SJG's Phil Reed has been posting sneak peeks at the new Car Wars in his BGG blog.)

• Designer Evan Derrick has joined Van Ryder Games in the role of Vice President and Creative Director. Derrick has already overseen the graphic design of two 2016 releases from Van Ryder — Salvation Road and Saloon Tycoon — and his next design will be announced by Van Ryder later in 2016.

• Dice & Mystics — a board game group in Bochum, Germany (next to Essen) that has a BGG guild — plans to open its gaming room in Bochum on Saturday, October 15, 2016 for those who want dedicated space to play since Spiel is more of a looking convention than a playing convention. Says Alexander Urbanek, "We can provide 18 tables with 8 seats per table. There are delivery services and takeaways and a kiosk nearby." Space is free, but appointments should be made given the limited space available. Details are in the "more information" section of the BGG guild. Start planning for Spiel 2016 now!

• Dagmar and Ferdinand de Cassan, editors of WIN The Games Journal, have released issue 485 — its October 2015 issue covering all the games of Spiel 2015 — and this 164-page beast contains "1338 new games by 929 designers from 448 publishers, illustrated with 1308 pictures"! This PDF from the Austrian Games Museum is free for all. (Ferdinand de Cassan has been ill, so the editors have been playing catch up with WIN for some time. I have no such excuse.)

• If you attended BGG.CON 2015, note that Hyatt has now disclosed that approximately 250 of its properties were infected with malware, and "[t]he investigation identified signs of unauthorized access to payment card data from cards used onsite at certain Hyatt-managed locations, primarily at restaurants, between August 13, 2015 and December 8, 2015". The Hyatt Regency at the DFW International Airport, where BGG.CON takes place, is one of the hotels affected by the malware. Check your credit card statements!

The Toronto Star highlights the city's role as "king of board-game café culture in North America". An excerpt:

Quote:
Soon after it opened in 2010, Snakes & Lattes began hosting monthly gatherings — often into the a.m. — for designers to sound-board ideas and test-play their fledgling games. It became a hive of ingenuity for hobbyists.

Designers such as Stephen Sauer and Daryl Andrews workshop their products in bull sessions that have helped yield two games now on the market, The Walled City and Caffeine Rush. The duo expects the release of half a dozen more in the next couple of years.

"You're seeing a lot more Canadian-designed games on shelves," says Sauer, who lives around the corner with his partner and two children.

More than anything, it's Toronto's cafés — none more than six years old — that incubate fresh ideas, sow innovation and feed the creativity mill for board-game designers, says designer Sen Foong-Lim.

"There's this critical mass of hardcore gamers, casual players and designers there, and now they have all these dynamic venues," says Foong-Lim, who is based in London, Ont., but is a frequent TO gamer.
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Sat Jan 16, 2016 4:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Castles of Burgundy Gets Carded, Hans im Glück Builds Dynasties, & The GIPF Project Is Rejiggered

W. Eric Martin
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• Another day brings more announcements of titles being shown at the toy fairs in Nürnberg and New York, such as confirmation and first pics of The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game from Stefan Feld and alea/Ravensburger, which bears an April 2016 release date for the English/French edition in the U.S. (I assume the German edition will hit Europe sooner, but don't have more info right now.) Here's an overview of the game:

Quote:
The Hundred Years' War is over and the Renaissance is looming. Conditions are perfect for the princes of the Loire Valley to propel their estates to prosperity and prominence. Through strategic trading and building, clever planning, and careful thought in The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game, players add settlements and castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, farm livestock and more.



• And from German publisher Hans im Glück comes Dynasties, about which I know no other information at the moment: designer, player count, release date — nothing!

Quote:
Renaissance Europe is coming together, and people have realized that even the most powerful dynasties can achieve more together, so members of those dynasties are marrying, trading and sharing with one another — but who will end with the biggest piece of the pie?

In Dynasties, players must make many compromises, whether acting on their own or reacting to the behavior of their fellow players. In addition to these tactical and strategic decisions, luck also plays something of a role as not every marriage brings the windfall expected. Perhaps then another marriage will bring more success and influence?

• Four titles from Kris Burm's GIPF Project return to print in 2016, courtesy of German publisher HUCH! & friends, with GIPF and YINSH due out in March 2016 and TZAAR and ZÉRTZ to follow in the second half of 2016. (These cover images are corrected from ones that the publisher supplied earlier.)

Good to see these wonderful games headed back to store shelves, and I can't believe that nearly a decade has passed since the final game in the Project, TZAAR, appeared in 2007! Where has the time gone...?

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