Archive for W. Eric Martin
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W. Eric Martin
• With 2015 just underway, it's already time to look past it to the future. Uli Blennemann from Spielworxx has signed a contract for Jeff Warrender's civilization game tentatively titled The Sands of Time. This design, which is due out in 2016, seems to date back to at least 2004 based on this BGDF discussion about the game, and Warrender provides an overview of the design in a GeekList comparing civilization games:
Objective/Scoring: Players use "Chronicle cards" to proclaim their accomplishments in one of six categories. [If you don't write about your achievements for posterity, your civ will be forgotten!] The more grandiose your achievements, the more points you'll get, but the greater your "heritage" must be. Chronicles you score in this round lead to heritage, representing your "legacy".
Many more details about the game — which is still under development, mind you — in that GeekList link above and Warrender's blog devoted to the design.
• Designer of The Golden Ages Luigi Ferrini notes that a small promo not finished in time for release at Spiel 2014 is being prepared and a large expansion is always in the works.
• Designer Alban Viard expects to have Small City — in which players are simultaneously all Mayor and trying to get re-elected on a solo basis — ready between mid-2015 and Spiel 2015 in October.
• The fourth title in the "Tales & Games" series from French publishers Purple Brain Creations and IELLO is The Grasshopper & the Ant from Yoann Levet of Myrmes renown, and he will undoubtedly now be tagged as a designer who specializes in ants, ants having appeared in 100% of his published designs. Sorry to contribute to such tagging, Yoann! As for the game, here's a rundown of how to play:
The Grasshopper & the Ant is the fourth title in Purple Brain Games' "Tales & Games" series, each of which comes packaged in a book-shaped box. In this game, players take turns playing the part of the industrious ants and the grasshopper content to sponge off the labor of the ants.
The Grasshopper & the Ant includes two ways to play, but the heart of both is the same. At the start of the game, lay out 16 (of the 48) path cards in a 4x4 grid; each path card shows one of four types of landscapes. The ant player places six ants on these cards, one ant per card, with the ants forming a chain (as in real life), then secretly chooses one type of terrain on which at least one ant stands. The grasshopper player then stands with one of the ants, and if the grasshopper chose the same landscape as the ant player, the grasshopper takes all the path cards of this type on which an ant stands; if the grasshopper chose incorrectly, then the ant player takes these path cards. Either way, you then refill the 4x4 grid. The ant player keeps playing until she finally wins path cards, then the next player in clockwise order controls the ants. (In winter mode, the third and fourth players control red ants and receive a random path card if they match the choice of the ant player.)
In autumn mode, players score path cards immediately, with each type being tracked independently; path cards that feature insects are saved for a endgame bonus. As soon as a player maxes out two scoring tracks, the game ends and whoever has the most points wins.
In winter mode, players keep the path cards they collect in order to buy provision cards (worth one victory point), which cost particular combinations of path types. In this mode, when you win a path card that features an insect, you can claim another card in the grid that features the same insect. Collect both provision cards of the same type, and you score a bonus VP. The first player to collect 4 VPs wins.
• On Swiss gaming site Gus and Co, Gus highlights his twenty most anticipated games for 2015, and while I've heard of most of the titles, two are new to me (and possibly also you). One of the games is The World of Smog: On Her Majesty's Service from Yohan Lemonnier and Cool Mini Or Not, with CMON having run a Kickstarter campaign for the game in late 2014 and me having never seen that. The rules are posted on the BGG page, but here's an overview for now:
Set in the fantastic steampunk The World of Smog created by Panache Animation, On Her Majesty's Service is a stylish board game for two to four competing players. You'll need to navigate the rotating tiles that make up the game board, trading Ethers and Artefacts in order to fulfill the quest set by Queen Victoria, all the while dealing with the Agents of the Shadow Master.
• The other game mentioned in Gus' preview is Starfighter from Ystari Games and designer Stéphane Boudin, with this title being a two-player-only space combat card game (with no miniatures) that's due out in the first half of 2015. (Bonus Geekgold awaits those who don't do the thing they perhaps feel compelled to do.)
I know nothing else at the moment, but rules in French for Boudin's "Space Squadron" prototype are available online (PDF). Ideally I can check out the game at Spielwarenmesse at the end of January, then let you know more about its final version. For now, here's the cover artwork as shown on artist Arnaud Demaegd's blog:
W. Eric Martin
• Designer Roberto Fraga has announced a few — wait, a half-dozen?! — pending publications in 2015, starting with Spinderella from Zoch Verlag (and to be released as Gare à la toile by Gigamic), which is a children's game in which you try to move your three ants across the forest floor while avoiding the spiders that opponents can drop on you to pick up your ant and toss it back to the starting line. The nifty 3D set-up of the forest and swooping spiders seems pure Fraga.
• Even more Fraga is Polaris, coming from Matagot and co-designed with Yohan Lemonnier, which pits two teams against one another in submarine combat. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
All the members of a team sit on one side of the table, and they each take a particular role on the submarine, with the division of labor for these roles being dependent on the number of players in the game: One player might be the captain, who is responsible for moving the submarine and announcing some details of this movement; another player is manning the sonar in order to listen to the opposing captain's orders and try to decipher where that sub might be in the water; a third player might be working in the munitions room to prepare torpedoes, mines and other devices that will allow for combat.
Polaris takes place in real time, with all the members of a team taking their actions simultaneously while trying to track what the opponents are doing, too. When a captain is ready to launch an attack, the action pauses for a moment to see whether a hit has been recorded — then play resumes with the target having snuck away while the attacker paused or with bits of metal now scattered across the ocean floor.
I played the Polaris prototype three times in early 2014, and it was exciting, hectic fun — which seems to be the number one ingredient for a Fraga design. The publisher then considering the game (which was not Matagot) was concerned with how exactly to get across the nature of the game when the buyer has only a box and rules, and while a convention setting is perfect for jumping into play, it seems like a tough challenge for those at home as I can imagine you needing to read a lot before you dive into play. Ideally Matagot will seek to mirror the demo videos of this game that Fraga and Lemonnier have posted, as with the one below from early 2013 when the game was called U-Boat, in order to ease players into the water. (Note that the version in the video differs from what I played in early 2014, and that version differs from the latest shots posted on the Polaris Facebook page. Don't count on the specifics of anything until you're opening the box!)
• In March 2014, I posted an overview of Panicobloc, which Repos Production plans to release in 2015. This game, like Polaris, is real-time action, but with players working together as members of a medical team in order to keep an emergency room patient alive for twelve minutes. In his history of the game, Fraga says that the idea for the game came to him while he was recovering from a broken leg, thereby giving him a positive way of thinking about the months of recovery time needed for his medical issue.
I played a few minutes of this game as part of a press event, and it was a fantastically odd experience as you didn't need to know anything about the rules of the game. All you needed to do was pay attention to the medical coordinator and the commands he was giving to you. As with Polaris, part of the challenge of selling Panicobloc is figuring out how to present the spirit of the game in the rulebook and inject whoever is playing the medical coordinator with a peppy presentation and good ringmaster skills to get everyone else involved.
• Yet another title coming from Fraga in 2015 is Pingo Pingo, a reimplementation from IELLO of his game Squad Seven. The short description of this game is real-time action (detecting a trend here!) driven by a soundtrack during which players try to find as much treasure as possible; for the long description, I offer the following:
Your pirate ship has dropped anchor at the terrible island of Pingo Pingo. Legend says that the island is full of treasure, including the famous Golden Pineapple, but it also says that treasure is fiercely guarded by hordes of cannibal penguins, some of which ride giant polar bears. That potential danger is why you're alone in your boat, on your own but eager to take a run on the island and try your luck.
For now, only the sound of the waves and the cries of the gulls disturb the peace of this seemingly idyllic island...but as soon as you set foot in the jungle bordering the beach, the drums of war start sounding and you realize that you've suddenly gained the status of prey!
Pingo Pingo is a hyper-frenetic action game punctuated by a soundtrack in which you have to react quickly, run, shoot a gun, in which you must be precise, brave, fast, and focused because if not, well, you might not leave the island in one piece...
• Taiwanese publisher Kanga Games has the memory-based movement game Polar Rush! coming from Fraga, a design previously released only through the Indian publisher Pegasus ToyKraft (which is a new discovery for me, and if someone wants to mine Geekgold here's a list of the company's games, which are mostly not in the BGG database). As for Polar Rush!, here's a rundown of how to play:
A fierce blizzard is fast approaching, but young Kaya and his friends are still fishing out on the ice far from their igloos! The little Inuit need to pack up and rush home as quickly as they can. However, their journey back is fraught with many dangers. Heavy snow and strong winds make it difficult for them to find the shortest route back, the ice beneath them could break apart at any time, and hungry polar bears are lurking nearby! Using clever planning and a keen memory, can you be the first to navigate your Inuit across the ice floes and back to the safety of their igloo?
In Polar Rush!, seven ice floe tiles are placed together on the table to form the game board. On each ice floe are seven different animals or items found in the arctic. Movement tiles are spread out face down on the table. On a turn, a player reveals a number of movement tiles one at a time based on the number rolled on the die. If he reveals a "seal" and a seal is adjacent to his current position, he must move his Inuit to the "seal" (even if it means he must move backwards); if a seal isn't nearby, he doesn't move.
The floes also feature special characters that can help (or hamper) a player's movement, so with clever planning your movement can be quite successful. For example, if you move to a sled, your next move doesn't need to be to an adjacent tile — but if you reveal a "crack" tile, you can separate the game board to create a water gap between the floes. The only way to cross this is to reveal a kayak tile. The first person to get his Inuit home wins!
Polar Rush! includes simplified rules for Inuit as young as five as well as more complex rules for older Inuit.
• The final(?) release from Fraga in 2015 is a new version of the HABA title At Full Throttle, with Canadian publisher Le Scorpion Masqué releasing À la Bouffe! (To the Food!) and Kanga Games releasing The Amazing Race — one idea, but two presentations.
The gist of the game is that players are presented with some number of cards, with the exact number dependent on how challenging you want to make the game, and each card shows pairs of items that are connected by lines. To start a round, players are given one item on the leftmost card, say by rolling a die, then they simultaneously race (yes, again!) to see which item is connected to that first item, then they find this second item on the next card, trace the connecting line to the third item, etc.
Eventually you reach the final item — or items, perhaps, if you have two end cards as shown in this example from Fraga's website — and if you're the first to get there, you win the round. Maybe. In At Full Throttle, you had to then grab the proper car off the table to be the winner. Perhaps in these new versions you'll grab other objects or run into an adjacent room to draw the proper image on a transparency taped to a cat. Who knows?!
Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:58 pm
W. Eric Martin
• Let's dash through another Kickstarter minefield of fun with single sentence descriptions of as many projects as I can muster, starting with Funforge's ZNA, a co-op zombie survival game from Florian Desforges with the *NA coming in through bio-hacker labs that let you create special concoctions to defeat the regenerating, mutating and possibly teleporting zombies in this post-apocalyptic world. (KS link)
• Radomir Mirchev's Bright Future also drops you into a post-apocalyptic world — this one triggered by nuclear war, mind you — with players, whether human or mutant, trying to survive in a semi-safe underground environment. (KS link)
• Jonathan Pac Cantin's Hangtown sounds as much fun to visit as Whipville or Noogieburg, but at least in Hangtown you'll have the chance to participate in the California gold rush and scoop up a few nuggets before the noose lands around your neck. (KS link)
• Designer/publisher D. Brad Talton Jr. of Level 99 Games is not content to offer people only one way to play his designs, so with Pixel Tactics Deluxe he's adding yet another 25 heroes to the Pixel Tactics universe, along with multiple new game modes, a bunch of promo hero cards (some new, some not), and multiple other hero minipaks as its funding level keeps leveling up. (KS link)
• German publisher Spieltrieb is on Spieleschmiede once again with another title in its Little 'n' Nice series, this being a nine-card game titled Upstairs in which players are secret agents who need to reach a roof in order to avoid being blown to bits by a bomb. (Spieleschmiede link)
• Heroes in the fairy world of 12 Realms have a new place to get into trouble with MAGE Company's 12 Realms: Ghost Town, which is in fact a town trapped by dark lords in another realm from which you must find certain items in time in order to rescue it. (KS link) (Spieleschmiede link)
• Unlike the post-apocalyptic worlds presented in the first two games listed above, Mark H. Walker's Night of Man from Flying Pig Games posits an Earth destroyed by an alien invasion, with the players trying to arm and armor themselves to prevent the metaphorical "night of man". (KS link)
• Queen Games is continuing to supersize its offerings with the Lancaster: Big Box that collects Matthias Cramer's Lancaster base game as well as the two existing expansions, a new game board and an unneeded apostrophe in the word "gets". (KS link)
• On Korean funding site Tumblbug, Justin Oh and Harrison Kwon are trying to get support for their party game Touch Stone in which players each roll a die, then race to find the appropriate rune stone in their bag and toss it into the pit in the center of the board, with winners being able to set up blocking cards to make things tougher for opponents. (Tumblbug link)
• German publisher franjos is in the "gathering interest" stage of a Startnext project for a coffee table edition of Eric Solomon's Hyle 7, which is a super-clever two-player game in which Chaos tries to prevent Order from creating color palindromes with wood tokens on a tiny playing field. (Startnext link)
• Story War: Sentinel Conflict takes the Sentinels of the Multiverse universe and challenges players to create stories that involve the heroes, villains, devices, and equipment they assemble in order to defeat those with lesser-storytelling abilities. (KS link)
• FreeSpace Tactics is a space combat miniatures game from video game designer Chris Taylor that's inspired by the FreeSpace digital games, about which I know nothing as I almost never play computer or video games; I'm not into space games or miniature games either, so let's just say this game probably isn't in my wheelhouse. (KS link)
• Eagle-Gryphon Games is powering on in its E•G•G Series of games, with title #3 — King's Kilt from Gordon Hamilton — offering backers the chance to both claim a position as Kng of Scotland and vote on the tartans to be used in the game. (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
Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:23 pm
W. Eric Martin
• British publisher Modiphius Entertainment is primarily involved with RPGs, which means that I rarely look at its output since RPGs aren't my bag, but six months after it announced a Matt Leacock-designed Thunderbirds co-op game due out in 2015, it's now brought forth news of another co-op design in the works: Achtung! Cthulhu: The Secret War from designer Kevin Wilson, with the game due out in Q4 2015. With the game's release being a year away, all we have right now is a general overview of the game:
Europe is ablaze with the final conflicts of World War Two. As the Allies are caught unaware by a German assault in the misty Ardennes forests, the Black Sun unleashes mythos evil from ancient sites, hoping to overwhelm the Allies forces, whilst the Nachtwolfe attempt to power up a vast war machine that will bring about a thousand-year Reich. All the while the dreams of Cthulhu inspire cultists to rise up in preparation for his return!
As the heroes of Section M and Majestic in Achtung! Cthulhu: The Secret War, you must race across Europe on vital missions facing ancient terrors, recovering strange artefacts, and learning unspeakable knowledge to help defeat the forces of the Third Reich and the Cultists of the Old Gods. To aid the heroes' desperate endeavors, the players must learn to command the powerful but over-extended Allied forces to help halt the tide of evil!
And since this game won't be out until the end of 2015, the holiday image below from Modiphius will still be appropriate at that time:
• As noted in Sept. 2014, Czech Games Edition is no longer licensing titles to U.S. publishers, but working out distribution plans of its own, and ACD Distribution notes that the Czech Games line — Alchemists, Tash-Kalar, Tash-Kalar: Everfrost, Dungeon Lords: Happy Anniversary, and much more from CGE — should be available in the U.S. "soon", with me interpreting "soon" as "by the end of Q1 2015". "Soon" is probably sooner than that, but you never know with the slowdown at U.S. west coast ports due to the continued standoff between union dockworkers and shipping companies.
• In similar news, Passport Game Studios handles U.S. distribution for a number of European publishers, and it's announced a Jan. 23, 2015 release date in the U.S. for Versailles and Progress: Evolution of Technology from NSKN Games and for [redacted] from LudiCreations; a Feb. 13, 2015 release date for Hansa Teutonica, Yunnan and El Gaucho from Argentum Verlag; and a release sometime by the end of Feb. 2015 for Gear & Piston and Byzantio from LudiCreations. I've asked whether Hansa Teutonica: Britannia will also be receiving a Passport and U.S. release.
• And still more upcoming release dates, with Rio Grande Games expecting to have the Mac Gerdts titles Concordia: Britannia & Germania and Antike II out in January 2015. Coming in February 2015 from Rio Grande is Bohnanza: Ladies & Gangsters, an English language collection of Ladybohn: Manche mögen's heiss! and Al Cabohne, which are two standalone games in Uwe Rosenberg's Bohnanza universe, as well as Bohnanza: Princes & Pirates, which is an English language collection of two Bohnanza expansions previously available only in German: Bohnröschen and La Isla Bohnitâ.
• And yet more along the same lines, with Z-Man Games announcing a new edition of Greg Daigle's Hawaii due out in February 2015. Man, hard to believe that more than three years has passed since that game's first release. Time flies like a banana...
• GMT Games expects to release Jim Krohn's Space Empires: Replicators, the second expansion for Space Empires: 4X, in Q2/Q3 2015. What's more, GMT has published an article from Krohn detailing his design philosophy for the game and how Replicators fit that philosophy.
W. Eric Martin
Some of the articles in this series will be relevant to designers and publishers whether or not they're active on BGG, such as the introductory article on how to write a press release; other articles, however, will pertain solely to the ins-and-outs of BGG, but a side benefit of such omphaloskepsic posts is that they should also be useful to BGG users at large, such as today's article about how to submit items to the BGG database.
I've heard from more than one user that they found the submission process confusing. I can't argue with that. As with many parts of BGG, the submission process has changed over time, with bits being added or removed as the needs of the site and requests of the users change over time. If this submission process changes greatly in the future, I'll write another article to address those changes; for now, though, this should cover what you need to know. If it doesn't, ask questions in the comments section and I'll answer them and update this article.
Before we get to the how, let's start with the what?
What's the mission of BoardGameGeek? And what is this database I'm referencing?
The short answer: "BoardGameGeek is a database and social community that's centered around board games, and its mission is to be the definitive resource on every board game ever created."
When you look at the BGG front page, you see tons of posts and reviews and questions about this-or-that game, and by clicking around you'll find yourself on some part of the database: a game listing, a video highlighting how to play a game, etc.
To get a sense of the entire database, you need to scroll over "Browse" (circled in the image below) in the upper menu bar, then click on one of the items listed under "Database"; doing so brings up a list of the 74,000+ games in the database (organized by rank with Twilight Struggle at #1 and Tic-Tac-Toe at #10453, followed by more than six hundred pages of unranked games; a game needs at least thirty ratings in order to become ranked), or the 20,000+ designers (organized alphabetically), or the 14,000+ publishers (ditto).
Definitive resource? We're not 100% there since new games are being published every day and thousands of older games remain uncatalogued, but with sites like Luding.org listing 25k games and TricTrac.net listing 16k, BGG has a better claim to that title than anyone else.
To keep that database growing and to try to reach the unobtainable 100% completeness bar, we input some game information ourselves — primarily through me adding titles in advance of game conventions like Spielwarenmesse, Gen Con, and Spiel — while getting most of that information via user submissions, which leads us to the following question and our true starting point:
How does one submit items to the BGG database?
To start, you need to scroll over another term in the upper menu bar: "Misc", which encompasses a whole mess of topics and information as you might expect a term like miscellaneous to do. Scrolling over "Misc" shows you the following:
I've boxed the important stuff for this topic: the links for how to submit games, publishers, and people (i.e., designers and artists) to the database. I'll skip how to submit accessories, podcasts and families (with a family being a group of games related in some manner) to focus on these other things. Clicking on "Board Game" brings up this crazy-long form:
Whoa. Lots to absorb there, but thankfully we can start with something simpler, namely how to add people and publishers to the database. What's more, if a designer or artist or publisher isn't already in the database, we suggest that you submit listings for them first. In practice, you can submit games first and the other stuff later or vice versa, but by submitting people and publishers first, you should ideally then be able to submit a more complete game listing — and since game listings are the raison d'être of the database, better to have them be as polished as possible.
Before you submit anything, though, I'll point out the following pages that you might find of interest:
• Pending game submissions
• Pending people submissions
• Pending publisher submissions
These pages show the pending submissions that BGG users have already submitted. If you search these lists and find the game, person or publisher that you had planned to submit, you can relax as someone else has already done the job for you. If, however, you are the publisher or designer in question, feel free to continue with this process and point out in the "Note to Admin" section on each page that you are the publisher or designer in question, or you are responsible for the game in question.
With that out of the way, we'll now jump to...
How to submit a publisher listing
Click on "Publisher" under "Misc / Add to Database", and you'll see the following screen (but without the red numbers in place):
You didn't realize it was that easy to create a publisher, did you? Fill out this form, and *poof* you've got yourself a publisher! Well, okay, to be technical you have created a submission for a publisher listing in the approval queue, but it's something.
To complete this form, add the following information:
1. Primary Name: Type the publisher's name as it appears on the publisher's website, perhaps in the "Contact us" or "About us" sections as those should give you the precise way that the name is spelled. Why is that important? Because you can't always grasp a publisher's name from its logo. Look at the publisher's logo at right for example. Is the name "Fun Forge", "FunForge", "Funforge", "FUNFORGE" or something else entirely? A quick look at the publisher's "About us" page reveals that the name is "Funforge", which is how we list it in our database.
In some cases, as with Chinese, Japanese and Korean publishers, a publisher has more than one name, say a name in its original language ("カナイ製作所") and a translated name in English ("Kanai Factory"). I suggest using the English name as the primary name since that is easier for the majority of BGG users to search for and to type on their keyboards; in the "Note to Admin" section, write something like "Alternate name: カナイ製作所" and whichever admin approves the submission will ideally add this alternate name to the publisher listing.
2. Description: Feel free in this section to quote from the publisher's "About us" — preferably first writing "Description from the publisher:" — but if you know something about the publisher firsthand, write the description in your own words. If you know nothing else about the publisher, simply write "Japanese publisher" or something similar and cross your fingers that someone else will fill in the details later.
3. Board Game Credits: Given that the publisher is not listed in the database — and it's not listed, is it? you did search for it first before heading to this form? — the name of any games published by this entity will likely not be listed in the database either.
Or will they? New publishers sometimes come into being in order to release a new version of an out-of-print game or a game published only in some other part of the world. Stronghold Games is one such example, with its first release being a new version of Robert Abbott's Confusion, which had appeared only in a tiny edition from German publisher franjos in 1992. Thus, when you're submitting the publisher listing, click "Add Board Game Credits", enter the game's name, and see whether a game listing for this title is already in the database; if it is, click on the game name. When this publisher listing is approved, the publisher's name will then appear on the game listing and the publisher listing will show a credit for this game.
If the game's name doesn't come up (or a matching name is for a different game), leave this section blank as you'll submit the game listing later.
4. Note to Admin: Use this section to include information about alternate names, to list the URL of the publisher's website or its Facebook page (to provide proof of its existence), or to tell us whatever else seems relevant to this submission.
5. Click the "Save" button.
Okay, that was relatively easy, so let's move on to...
How to submit a designer or artist listing
Click on "Person" under "Misc / Add to Database", and you'll see the following screen (but without the red numbers in place):
Create Person?! My, what promises from such an inviting header! This form allows you to submit the name of either a designer or artist to the database, and it works much like the publisher submission form:
1. Name: As with the publisher listing, you want to submit a name that represents how that designer or artist wants it to appear in print. "Eric M. Lang", for example, is how that designer's name appears on games, so that's how it should be listed in the BGG database.
Also as with publisher listings, please use the English transliteration of a person's name as the primary name ("Seiji Kanai") while adding in the "Note to Admin" box something like "Alternate name: カナイセイジ". Please submit names in the order of (given name) (family name) to ensure consistency across the database. With Kanai's name, for example, his Japanese name is in the order used by that country — (family name) (given name) — but for his primary name we use (given name) (family name), which is also how it appears on most game boxes.
2. Description: As with publisher listings, you might be able to pull a biography of the person from a personal website, but you might be limited to "Japanese designer", "French artist", or something similarly lame. So be it.
3. Board Game Designer (Artist) Credits: As with publisher listings, the game which this person has created (or illustrated) may or may not already be in the BGG database. Sometimes a person finds out about a game without knowing the creator or artist and submits it. Thus, you can search for the game name and click it if the game is already in the system; if not, don't click anything and move on.
4. Note to Admin: Feel free to include alternate names, links to personal websites, and other details that help prove your case that the person in the submission is the correct person. Proof is always better than your say-so, but often your say-so is good enough for us until proven otherwise.
5. Click the "Save" button.
That was also simple, yes? Once you've submitted the designer, artist and publisher listings, feel free to get yourself a fresh cup of coffee in order for the BGG cache to record your submissions. From experience, I'd guess this takes one to several minutes, after which you'll be able to choose this designer or publisher when submitting a game listing — even though these earlier submissions have not yet been approved.
Okay, now it's time to move to the big challenge:
How to submit a game listing
Click on "Board Game" under "Misc / Add to Database", and you'll see the following screen (but without the red numbers in place):
Note that I've broken the game submission page into three pieces in order to provide interludes and cover stuff in related groups. With that said, let's get started, examining each of the numbered sections in turn:
0. Guide to Game Submissions: Note that BGG already has a "Guide to Game Submissions" in its wiki, and to some degree I'm duplicating that effort through this post. Perhaps I should have merely updated and expanded that page, but it's been there forever and is somewhat invisible, whereas people can comment on this post, ask questions, and perhaps better figure out all of the details to this process. Perhaps in the future, I can transfer this material to that wiki. Duplication of effort — it's the American way!
1. Primary Name: This is the title of the game, with the ideal format being "Title: Subtitle – Additional Subtitle", with a colon separating the title from subtitle and an en dash separating the subtitle from additional subtitle. (We have a program that automatically compiles titles not in this format so that we can standardize them, but if you want to do that up front, we'd love you just a little bit more.)
Once again, as with publisher and person submissions, we prefer to have a title in English for games released with non-Arabic letter titles. If the title is in, say, German, then leave it in German and don't use an English title because we can type "Die enorme Fuß und die winzigen Toe" without much trouble. Typing "ラブレター", on the other hand, is more challenging, so rather than require almost everyone to cut and paste, we allow an English title even if an English-language version of the game doesn't exist. As before, use the "Note to Admin" section to write "Alternate title: ラブレター".
2. Description: Ideally in this section you can submit a 1-4 paragraph description of the game written in a neutral voice that covers the game's setting, goal and gameplay. I have a lot more to write about game descriptions and will cover the topic in a future article.
In general, though, your goal is to describe the game in enough detail that the description wouldn't fit another game while not going into so much detail that you're describing the entirety of the game. By covering the setting, you tell us our role in the game world; by explaining the goal, you tell us what we're trying to do in this world; by describing the gameplay, you tell us how to move toward achieving that goal. That sounds abstract and clinical, but your description doesn't have to come across that way. Feel free to include personality in the description, but keep away from marketing talk — "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master", "fun for the whole family" — and other nonsense like that.
If nothing else is handy, go ahead and use the description from the publisher, but please include a "''Game description from the publisher:''" header (with the double apostrophes creating italic text in the wiki) and remove fluff sentences that relate more to selling the game than describing it.
3. Year published: In which year was the game first available for purchase through retail outlets? That year counts as the game's debut, so that's what we want to list.
4. Minimum and maximum players: In general, these fields are easy to complete because you can look at the box or publisher's website or retailer listing and see this information.
That said, the question isn't always clear because sometimes that information changes from one version to another, or from one publisher to another. When Uberplay released its version of For Sale, it added more components so that up to six people could play whereas the original edition maxed out at five players. Some versions of Puerto Rico include rules for playing with two, whereas the earliest editions allowed for only 3-5 players. What to do, what to do? We tend to allow for the widest range of players possible because even if your particular copy of PR doesn't have two-player rules, you can probably find rules to make it happen. Perhaps we should list a player count for each version of the game, but that way lies madness.
5. Minimum age: Again, this field seems easy, but different publishers have different standards. Many publishers in the U.S., for example, adopt a minimum age of 13+ so that they don't have to undergo expensive CPSIA tests required for children's products when of course a game labeled for ages 10+ is by no means a children's product! In these cases, we again tend to go for whatever the widest range is, working under the assumption that kids in Europe and Asia aren't that much smarter than kids in the U.S.
6. Playing time: When BGG was set up, someone decided to make this field accept only a single numeral instead of a range of numerals, so when confronted with a playing time of 30-60 minutes, we tend to split the difference and list the playing time as 45 minutes. Ideally we could split this into two fields so that games at the extreme such as Caverna (for 1-7 players and playing in 30-210 minutes) would be more accurately represented, but I'm not a tech guy and have been warned that it would be hard to do this now, especially since such a change could invite 70,000 game corrections, with different versions of games having different playing times in addition to different suggested ages. Fun!
7. Category and mechanism: For these two areas, you click on the link and choose whatever is appropriate on the lists presented to you. I understand the arguments that BGG blurs categories and mechanisms in these lists and not everything is represented, but righting these "wrongs" is outside my area of expertise.
8. Family: I mentioned families above when I talked about submission types that I won't cover. For many games you can search for reasonable sounding families and often find ones that already exist in the database: families related to countries and cities, families related to animals and professions, families related to media properties and authors, and on and on and on.
9. Expands: Use this field if the item you're submitting is an expansion for an existing game and not itself a standalone game. This last bit is important because when something is categorized as an expansion, then it cannot be ranked in the BGG system, no matter how many ratings it has. (We removed expansions from the rankings some years ago because expansions are nearly always rated higher than the base games. After all, if you hate the base game or are even indifferent to it, you'll likely avoid the expansion, which means that it's played mostly by those who are more prone to like it.)
Thus, for items like the next Ascension set (which is both a standalone item and an expansion for all other Ascension sets) or a Smash Up set that functions in the same way, please don't use the "expands" link because the item can also function as a standalone game and we want to classify it in that manner. For now we use an "Integrates with:" list to get around this pothole, as can be seen in the description of this Ascension game, but I'd like to see a dedicated "Integrates with:" two-way linking system added to a game's main info box in the future. I've lobbied for this, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm not the tech guy, so I ask for all sorts of things without having any idea of how complicated they'd be to implement.
10. Contains: This field is relatively new, and we added it for items like Puerto Rico: Limited Anniversary Edition, which differs from the Puerto Rico base game in that it includes some of the existing expansions and tons of juicy components and would likely be bought and rated by folks who already love the base game, thus skewing it higher in the rankings and giving PR two spots in the BGG ranking list even though at heart it's the same thing. If you're submitting something like a twentieth anniversary edition of Bohnanza (coming in 2017!) that includes multiple expansions, then you'd use this field to link to all of the items already listed in the database that it contains.
This set-up isn't perfect, as with the 2014 release Lords of Xidit, which is packaged with two bonus cards for Seasons, a separate game set in the same world. Technically Lords of Xidit contains these expansion cards for Seasons, but if we use that "contains" link, then Xidit won't be ranked, even though it should be. We know about the problem, but lack a solution for now. It's such a corner case that we'll probably see something like this at most a half-dozen times a year, yet you still want a way to list this cleanly. Well, at least I do anyway...
11. Reimplements: Is the game that you're submitting a new version of a previously released game and (this is the important part) the designer or publisher has stated this directly? The 2014 release Rattlebones plays very much like a Dominion with dice, and Rattlebones designer Stephen Glenn has stated that he was inspired by Dominion for this design, but in no way would we list Rattlebones as a reimplementation of Dominion.
12. Designer/Artist: Click on the links in these fields, find the appropriate people, then click on those names to add them to this game listing. You did add them to the BGG database earlier, yes?
13. Publisher: As with the above section, search for the publisher or publishers responsible for this game and click on them.
14. Version Information: Versions were added to the BGG database in 2009, and the goal behind listing them was to allow people to track exactly which version of a game they own, to indicate which version you're selling in the marketplace (although doing so is optional), and to compare the images for this or that version that's been released over the years.
What's the difference between a version and a new game? It's a fine line, and something that's tough to define, although some BGG admins have tried to do so in lengthy detail. As I mentioned earlier, Uberplay's For Sale that allows up to six players is listed as a new version of the original Ravensburger For Sale, even though the component counts differ, but Game of Thrones: Westeros Intrigue is listed as a separate game than Penguin even though they're arguably more similar than the two For Sales. I'll accept that we're inconsistent — and will stay that way, as I noted in a February 2014 BGGN post — but I also apologize for the confusion. We do what we can.
That said, sometimes multiple versions of a game are announced at the same time, say, a German version from Hans im Glück and an English one from Z-Man Games. That's where the "Clone This" link comes in. You can first add whatever information is the same for both versions of the game (box size, year of release, artist, etc.), then click "Clone This" to create a second version listing with all the info that you've already entered, then you can finish off the version listings with the unique information for each version (publisher, language, release date, etc.) "Add Another" works similarly, but copies none of the information that you've entered.
15. Version nickname: We have guidelines for how to name versions (and do many other things), but nicknames tend to be all over the place.
In general, we prefer a format of "(language) first edition" or "(language)/(second language) first edition" or "Multilingual first edition" when more than two languages are involved, but that still leaves many questions unanswered. What happens if you're submitting a version with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish rules as well as one with French, German and Italian rules? Do you have two "Multilingual first editions"? Do you summarize an edition with "FR/DE/IT first edition"? What about Libellud's Mysterium, which will be a new version of Tajemnicze Domostwo? Will this be the English first edition, even though it's really more of a second edition since the art will differ? How many editions of Love Letter and is this the same as the number of versions we list?
In some ways, I'd love to do away with the version nickname as the information is typically included elsewhere in the listing — the languages are listed, the years of publication are (probably) listed — or it's material to start an argument. What does the nickname add? I'm not sure, but we're using it for now, so I try to be as consistent as I can be.
16. & 17. Version publisher and Version artist: Search for and click on the appropriate names for these fields based on whatever version you are currently entering.
18. Year published: Again, this is meant to be the year in which this version of the game can be acquired, whether from the publisher directly, a print-and-play copy through the designer's website (in which case this is a "Print-and-play edition"), or through a retail outlet.
19. Product code: Most publishers use a code — a series of numbers or letters or combination of both — to designate each title they release. They do this because manufacturers, distributors and retailers want to use standardized codes to prefer to product instead of names that sometimes have to be parsed to determine exactly what one is talking about. Do you mean Risk: The Lord of the Rings or Risk: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition? Which Chapter Pack for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game did a customer order: A Time of Trials or A Time for Wolves?
20. Dimensions: Some people like to know this information, especially if they plan to ship the game or have someone else ship it to them. How much will will USPS soak me for? We have a few preset sizes that are commonly used by publishers, but if you have the exact dimensions feel free to enter them, with the largest dimension as the length, the next largest as the width, and the smallest dimension being the depth. Yes, one box might have a portrait view and another a landscape view, but (1) you can see how the art looks from the box cover image and (2) if you consistently list dimensions from large to small, you can more easily imagine how one box size compares to another.
21. Weight: Not sure what to say here. Some folks want to know this stat so that they can build their bookshelves accordingly or plan mailing costs to the dime.
22. Languages: Click on the languages to match the rules to be included in the game. Don't see the language you need? Include a note to the admin with your suggestion. In the past couple of years, we've added Bulgarian, Vietnamese and Esperanto to the database to accommodate game submissions.
23. Release date: The idea behind the release date is that we want to list the date when this game was or will be first available to the public at large and not available to a select few who show up at a convention months before the game is available to everyone else. Yes, Five Tribes debuted at Gen Con 2014, but does the availability of two hundred copies count as a release? Not in our eyes, which is why we list the release date as September 2014.
For the release date, if you have only the year, use the pulldown menu to put in the proper year; if you know the month as well, use that pulldown menu; if you know the precise day, add that detail, too. If instead you know only a range of months — say, "Jul/Aug 2015" — or the quarter — e.g., "Q3 2015" — that a game is due out, then use the "custom override" box and put that date information in place.
One thing you shouldn't do — and I'm surprised that publishers still do this — is use a season in the release date, such as "Spring 2015". For me, that term means sometime between late March and late June 2015; for someone in the southern hemisphere, however, that term means late September to late December 2015 — which is probably not what the publisher had in mind. If I've learned one thing in the eight years that I've been doing this, it's that if a gamer knows of a game that sounds interesting, that gamer will often make an effort to acquire, no matter where that game originates. Thus, publishers should make clear to all of their potential customers — that is, everyone on Earth — when their games will be available, and that means avoiding release dates based on seasons.
24. Release comment: Use this section to note extra details about a game's release, such as "Debuting at Gen Con 2015" or "Releasing in Europe in Aug 2015 & in North America in Oct 2015", to help other users know when they might be able to play the game in question or get their hands on it.
25. Release status: Is a game available to the public at large? If so, it's "released"; if not, it's "unreleased".
26. Pre-order type: Typically this section is for publishers who are taking pre-orders through their own websites prior to a game's release or for a publisher who is running a crowdfunding campaign. If someone completes this field and the next three pre-order fields, then a pre-order link will show in the information box at the top of the game page; if one of the fields is left incomplete, then no such link will appear.
27. Pre-order URL: This would be the URL of the crowdfunding project or the publisher's website where pre-orders are being taken. (And in case you haven't already noticed, we treat crowdfunding projects the same as pre-orders because from our point of view they function the same way: You pay money in advance of the game being available with the expectation of receiving the game at a later date.)
28. Pre-order start date and Pre-order end date: As I just mentioned, both of these fields need to be completed — all six pulldown menus — in order for the pre-order link to appear on the game page itself.
29. Note to admin: So much stuff could go in this space: URLs to an announcement on a publisher's website or a designer's Twitter feed or a retailer's game page, alternate names in different languages since you can submit only one name for the game, additional details about the release date, notes that you've submitted the designer or publisher details separately, and so on.
30. Click the "Save" button. Yes, we're finally there. Click that button already.
So are we done yet? Well, you're done — or at least you might be done. Once you submit something, the name of that submission will appear in one of the pending queues that I linked to earlier. At some point a BGG admin will review the submission, then ask questions of you to clarify information that's unclear; approve the submission as is; skip over the submission because he has only a few minutes between other tasks and isn't clear whether he can approve this or not; add information based on what he's seen somewhere; or some combination of these.
In most cases, the game listing is approved first, then the designer/artist/publisher listings are approved later by a separate admin who has handled these things for a while and has kind of adopted these sections of the site. Once a game listing is approved, users can then submit images, files, web links, forum posts, and so on. That listing joins 74,000 others, and in most cases it's barely seen again, at least by the majority of the people who use the site. For some, though, they carefully monitor the page, subscribe to it even so that they can answer rules questions or see what reviewers have to say. Every game is somebody's baby...
W. Eric Martin
• Okay, these first three game demonstration videos from Spiel 2014 are coming out particularly late given that these titles from Stronghold Games have been picking up tons of buzz, but in case you haven't yet heard of them — and with them being only two months old, they're still new to most people — you can now get a taste of these titles, starting with Panamax from Gil d'Orey, Nuno Sentieiro, and Paulo Soledade, with MESAboardgames being the originating publisher and Stronghold Games being the English-language licensor. Amazingly, we got all three designers in the BGG booth to talk about the game.
• A few days prior to BGG.CON 2014, someone called me out for a game of Mike Fitzgerald's Diamonds at the con, and since I love trick-taking games and Mike and I share similar gaming tastes — such as our mutual adoration of Innovation and Impulse — I accepted the challenge.
Then I showed up in Dallas and promptly forgot all about it. Sorry! If nothing else, you (like me) can now watch Fitzgerald describe the game firsthand. It's almost like being there.
• Sandwiching the only new card game from Stronghold is the other beefy title that the publisher debuted at Spiel 2014: Kanban: Automotive Revolution from Vital Lacerda, who Stronghold's Stephen Buonocore briefly unchained from the demo tables so that he could talk about his creation on camera. I love staring at this cover and trying to imagine what's written on the paper that this woman is about to check off: "Blue laser? Check!"
• I got the chance to play Jun'ichi Sato's Click & Crack a few times prior to Spiel 2014 and enjoyed the game, finding it a clever mini-programming game that takes a few plays before you get a handle on the threats that other players can present.
• The Little Witches and the Mysterious House from designers Sayaka and Takahiro and publisher KogeKogeDo features a great gimmick for the pieces in the game, namely each player has two pieces that are tied together, with the string connecting them limiting their movement during play. As for the game itself, it sadly sits on my yet-to-be-played shelf along with far too many others. I am myself restricted with many strings, keeping me from the game table...
• Nanahoshi co-designer Madoka Kitao is a professional Shogi player, and this new design — "Ladybirds" — retains some elements of Shogi in terms of the movement of the pieces, although the game itself is designed for a younger audience, similar to Kitao's Let's Catch the Lion!
W. Eric Martin
• My initial plan of posting all of the game demonstration videos that BGG recorded at Spiel 2014 by BGG.CON 2014 seems ever more laughable given that we're nearly out of December at this point, but never mind! The end is in sight, and we'll push through.
German publisher Lookout Games offered a range of titles at Spiel 2014, with the biggest one being Murano by Inka and Markus Brand. This video starts with a short history of glass manufacturing in Italy, which is relevant as Murano is the place where that manufacturing took place, and since Murano is a series of islands just north of Venice, you bring gondolas into the picture, and the game emerges from there.
• I previewed Murano in September 2014 after getting a look at the game at Gen Con 2014, but that preview also covered Uwe Rosenberg's two-player Patchwork, which I actually played at that con. Based on that single playing, I thought Patchwork was an excellent design and found it reminiscent of the best of the KOSMOS two-player game series, with this being an open information design with no random elements.
• Instead of pushing out everything about Spiel in 2014, Lookout Games released a pair of titles earlier at Gen Con 2014, with its U.S. partner Mayfair Games debuting the designs. Carlo Lavezzi's Johari comes across like a typical Lookout design in how players need to manage the actions available to them each day in order to get things done.
• Speakeasy from designers Aurélien Bidaud and Henri Redici and newcomer Capsicum Games was immediately tagged with "Is this Stratego?" questions as soon as it was announced, and yes, the publisher says that the design is based on Lu Zhan Qi, an earlier Chinese design that Stratego also derived from. In Speakeasy, players have more freedom of movement while also having safe houses on the board where their pieces can't be attacked.
• Capsicum Games also featured a very different type of game at Spiel 2014: Fleet Commander from the design team of Bergerat, Charpentier, Redici and Schindler. This two-player space combat game relies on dice to determine which actions are available on a turn — but players choose which dice they want to roll each turn, therefore giving them the chance to play the odds and possibly take many actions or play it safe and be assured of getting to do what they want.
• BGG recorded an overview of 1944: Race to the Rhine at Spielwarenmesse in early 2014 when the game bore the preliminary title 1944: Monty vs. Patton. That title makes the design sound like a two-player game, in addition to having other unwanted associations, so PHALANX and designers Andruszkiewicz and Gumienny made the right choice with the current handle.
W. Eric Martin
The year 2014 is nearly over, and before too long I'll be on the convention circuit once again: Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg in January, NY Toy Fair in Manhattan in February, and so on until we close with the monstrous Spiel in Essen and the post-convention aperitif of BGG.CON.
Before that happens, though, I wanted to hit pause on the game announcements in order to (1) publish all of the pending videos from Spiel 2014 and other conventions on BGG's YouTube channel (subscribe!), (2) finish a few other outstanding projects, (3) organize my work process for the coming twelve months, and (4) follow through on a series of articles that I've been meaning to write for years, starting with this one.
In my position as news editor of BoardGameGeek (and prior to that editor of Boardgame News), I receive many questions from designers and publishers, and while I have canned answers for some questions in TextExpander, I'd be better off posting articles to answer these questions in detail. After all, I've learned a lot since I started writing full-time in 1999 and full-time about games in 2006. Sharing that info will ideally help people in need, while also giving me links to use in the future when I receive such questions once again.
With that in mind, let's get started...
How to Write a Press Release
Designers and publishers often ask what's the best way to get information to me for coverage on BGG News. Other than sending me their game in advance of its release with twenties stuffed around it to serve as insulation, I suggest that they email me a press release — but not everyone knows what I have in mind when I suggest a press release, so let's look at an example from one of the masters of the form: Days of Wonder.
DoW posted this press release on its website on June 19, 2014, but I received it in my inbox on June 18, one day ahead of that time with this announcement plastered at the top of the email:
This information is embargoed until Thursday, June 19 at 8am Eastern/5am Pacific time. Please do not post or mention online until that time.
An embargo date allows a publisher to send out information in advance of when it wants to make something public. In an ideal world, that advance warning gives a news outlet time to write something, ask questions of the publisher, download and prep images, etc. in order to have an article ready to publish at the end of that embargo period, as with this BGGN post.
Most publishers don't send out press releases, and while that's baffling on its own, even the ones who do rarely use embargo dates. As a publisher, the goal behind using a press release is to get your game covered so that as many people as possible find out about it, and an embargo date can help make that happen. Yes, if you send out a non-embargoed press release, BGG News might cover it on one day and ICv2 on another day and Dice Tower News some other day, but ideally you want everyone to cover it all at once; you want a blizzard of coverage all on the same day so that no matter which site (or sites) someone visits, that person will learn about your game. You want people to be talking and tweeting about your game, and the more that you can get people talking about it at the same time, the greater your chances of having that signal echo into fresh ears.
The other reason to use an embargo date is for what I mentioned above: Giving writers time to write something about your game. When I receive press releases without embargo dates, which is most of the time, I may or may not rush to include the mentioned game in a BGGN post depending on what else I have scheduled that day and in the near future, how big the news is, what size hole I have to fill in a pending post, and so on. If the press release has an embargo date, on the other hand, I know that I have a little breathing room in order to prep something about the game and be among the first to write about it and I appreciate having that advance warning, that combined red-green signal light that tells you it's almost time to go. (Those who have driven in Germany will know what I'm talking about!)
Enough about the embargo date. Let's see what else you should put in your press release:
1. Identify your company. This might not seem needed since you'll be emailing your press release and will include your company identity in your sig line (right?), but since your press release might be forwarded or become detached from your email, include that information anyway.
After all, you shouldn't limit your press releases to game-only media sources. You should also contact local newspapers and television stations to report on what a company in the community is doing, on how you're contributing to the well-being and economic vitality of your region. If the designer of your game is located elsewhere, you should also contact media in his or her vicinity, possibly rewriting the press release to emphasize that local connection.
2. Include contact information. To reiterate, you want whoever is holding that press release, however that person obtained it, to be able to contact you with questions or orders or requests for more information.
3. Write a clear, informative headline, while saving your hook for the subhed. Don't assume that the person reading your press release understands gaming jargon. That release might end up in front of the editor of the entertainment section of your local newspaper, and references to "worker placement" will mean doodlysquat to that person. If that person can't decipher the headline, she might never make it to the next line. Assuming that she does, though, entice her to read further by giving her a reason to do so: "Yes, I understand that you're publishing a game, but why should I care? Oh, I'll have a chance to win a giraffe? Tell me more..." More importantly, try to give her a reason that her readers will care.
4. Include a dateline. One of the worst sins that I see when reading press releases or online news articles is the lack of a date. (Yes, it's a sin. Writers care that much about such things.) Is this article recent? Is it covering something that's already been written about elsewhere? By attaching a date to your press release, you're telling the reader that the information included is new and relevant (assuming, of course, that you're not writing about something that happened last year). By including the location of your company, you're again giving local news outlets a reason to care about the information in front of them.
5. Write your press release in reverse pyramid style in clear, declarative statements. What I mean by "reverse pyramid style" is that you should include the most important information first, followed by the secondmost important information, then the thirdmost, etc.
Newspapers and syndicated news outlets regularly use this format because the point of a news story is to relay information to readers. I can read the first paragraph of a newspaper story and understand the importance of what I'm reading, why this event is newsworthy. If I'm curious, I can read the next couple of paragraphs to learn more: the impact of the event, suggestions of what might happen next, etc. The more that I read, the more detail that I learn, but the less important that detail is.
A press release is a sales tool, not a literary form. Don't use a mysterious opening to try to entice people to read further; use informative sentences that get the information across as clearly as you can. Give the reader a reason to care about what you're saying by stating facts and not being obscure.
Include quotes from yourself or the designer or both to bring a personal touch to the information, to add life to the factual data included elsewhere.
If your press release is well-written, some news outlets will publish your release with little to no editing. If they do, the amount of your release that they'll publish will depend on the space available. By writing in reverse pyramid style, you give them the option of publishing only the first paragraph or the first two or three or four or the whole thing. Read the Days of Wonder release above; it's five paragraphs long, and the final sentence in each paragraph after the first sounds like an appropriate ending point. (You might think about writing a narrative that makes it difficult to print only the first few paragraphs; that's a narrative begging to be ignored completely.)
6. Talk about your company. If the reader already knows about your company, he'll likely ignore this section; if not, this section might provide something that convinces him that your company is one to be covered in his media outlet: "Wow, I can't believe this is the first game company run by someone with two left legs!"
Okay, you have a press release. Now you need to send it out to...somebody. Possibly me since I'm kind of prodding you to do so through this article, but ideally you have more than just me in mind. Ideally you have a press list for such announcements, and you can send them the press release (either within the email or as an attachment) with an embargo date and with images that can be used in the announcement. If you don't send images directly, you should include a link to an image source or press section on your website so that people can get images themselves. (Days of Wonder, for example, has a dedicated image page for the press that includes images in all sizes and languages and formats. I'll write more about images in a future post.) You might think that people would ask for such things, and sometimes they will, but they might also just ignore your release in favor of someone else who does supply everything.
Even if you do all of the above — provide a well-written description of your brilliant publication complete with images and an embargo date — don't expect everyone to write about your game, whether on the embargo date itself or at any other time. My inbox is a firehose, and I'm sure the same is true for many other people. At convention time in particular, I'll receive 50-100 messages a day, and they pile up like compost, with new news becoming old far too quickly. I hate to admit that, but it's true. With hundreds of games released each year, I hold no hope of writing about all of them on BGG News. I write about what I think BGG users will want to read and about what I want to write about, and there's never enough time to cover everything — but if I don't see your announcement in the first place, the chance of me writing about your game is even smaller. You need to do your part, and I'll endeavor to do mine...
Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:21 am
W. Eric Martin
• U.S. publisher Stronghold Games has announced two upcoming releases for 2015, in association with German publisher Spielworxx, that should make a number of gamers quite happy. First, Stronghold will release a new edition of La Granja from designers Michael Keller and Andreas Odendahl, a game that sold out its initial thousand copy print run in no time and has been selling for $120-180 on the secondhand market in late 2014. For an overview of the game, I'll direct you to an explanatory video that I recorded with Spielworxx' Uli Blennemann.
Second, Stronghold will release an English-language version of Martin Wallace's Zeitalter der Vernunft, which is a revamping of his 2004 title Struggle of Empires that Spielworxx first released in 2011. This title, named Age of Reason, makes players take on the role of regents for Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Prussia, Austria and Russia who want to increase their home country's power in Europe while simultaneously establishing colonial empires in Africa, India and the Western Hemisphere. Stronghold notes that Age of Reason is the first title in its new "Great Designer Series", with additional titles to be announced later.
Stronghold Games has set June 2015 as a tentative release date for both titles and notes that copies might be available for demo or purchase at Origins Game Fair in early June. Finally, a teaser about future releases from the Stronghold press release: "Stronghold Games and Spielworxx expect to collaborate on future projects, thus creating a strategic partnership to co-publish additional games in the future. Further products and timelines will be announced as the information becomes available."
• This probably won't come as a surprise seeing as how Istanbul won Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2014, but a BGG user reports that designer Rüdiger Dorn states that he's planned two expansions for the game, with the first one due out Q2 2015. No confirmation from Pegasus Spiele yet, but I'll be in Nürnberg soon enough for the 2015 Spielwarenmesse and news on this and many other titles.
• At Gen Con 2014, Upper Deck Entertainment announced the return of the VS System and sold a collection of sample decks containing previously released cards in order to show off what a non-collectible version of the game might be like. A newsletter from Gen Con confirms what was stated as a possibility during that earlier convention, namely that Upper Deck plans to launch its new version of VS System at Gen Con 2015 in August. In addition, according to the newsletter, "[t]he company also will release another new and exciting game at Gen Con 2015" with details about this release to follow in a subsequent newsletter.
• I've had a particular image (reprinted below) open in a browser tab for a few weeks and have been waiting to find out more about this title that popped up at Tokyo Game Market in November 2014. Well, a game listing now exists in the BGG database, and I can share with you the details of Flatten out Monsters from designer/artist Chen Zhifan and Taiwanese publisher Homosapiens Labs:
Monsters invade! Heroes are ready to defend in groups of two, but these heroes are out of control and need an intelligent leader to lead them to victory. Can you do it?
Flatten out Monsters is a new type of memory game in which you need to memorize only six cards! Can you effectively lead the heroes and flatten out the monsters?
To set up, monster cards are placed in a 3x7 grid and double-sided hero cards are placed in a 3x2 grid in front of the monsters. Heroes in the same line — that is, a line of two hero cards — will fight the seven monsters lined in front of them. On a player's turn, he must swap two hero cards, then flip them to the reverse sides. These two cards activate the cards in the same line with them and become the attacking groups, then you resolve the attack on the monsters one by one in each activated line. If the two hero cards show the icons needed to defeat the first monster in line, they win the fight and score the monster card. Then they fight against the second monster, and so on until they fail. Play continues in clockwise order until at least two lines of monsters are all defeated, and whoever has the most monster cards wins!
W. Eric Martin
• Catch Up Games is a new French publisher that plans to release its debut title — Sapiens from designer Cyrille Leroy — in March 2015. Here's an overview of the game:
The time has come for the tribe to leave its shelter and head for new lands. As the chief of your clan, it's up to you to guide your prehistoric people through the valley: Take advantage of the environment, pick and hunt for food, discover big and safe caverns for the upcoming winter, gather your tribe and discover the valley!
Sapiens is a short and easy-to-learn tile-placement game that can prove much deeper then it seems for gamers. Each player has a personal game board that represents the valley on which they will play tiles to determine the journey of their tribe through several prehistoric life scenes. Their aim is to gather food points on the plains and in the forests of the valley and to get shelter points for reaching caves in the mountains. A player's turn consists of two steps:
• Connect one new tile from the four in his personal pool to the tiles already in play on his board, with connected scenes needing to match. These placements earn food points when a connection is made, earns shelter points when a cave is reached, and sometimes provides a special ability based on the connected scenes.
• Choose a new tile from the five available in a common pool to re-fill his personal pool to four tiles.
Players score both food and shelter points during the game, but only their lower score counts when determining who wins. Here's a prototype version of an individual player board to help you visualize how the game is played:
• Clearly Eagle-Gryphon Games had more in mind than brand clarity when it recently announced a change in name. No, it chose that specific name so that it could inflict a world of horrible puns on us, puns that originate from the company's new acronym: EGG.
Okay, perhaps you're a fan of puns or a fan of eggs. Whatever the case, EGG has announced a new series of games in small boxes (5.75" by 4.25") with this series being dubbed The E•G•G Series. The first title in The E•G•G Series will be, most appropriately, Eggs and Empires, although it won't receive its #1 designation and E•G•G logo until it's reprinted at some point down the road. E•G•G #2 is 12 Days of Christmas from Dr. Gord Hamilton, which is on Kickstarter for the holidays but not due out until July — strange. (KS link) Here's a rundown of this rolling trick-taking game:
To play 12 Days of Christmas, deal out twelve cards to each player; the deck consists of 78 cards: one 1, two 2s, and so on up to twelve 12s. By following the lead established by the first player, each player attempts to give away all of her cards before the other players can. The first player can lead a single card, a set of at least two cards of the same value, or a straight of at least two cards. The next players either pass or play a similar combination of cards (although not necessarily the same number of cards) that includes at least one card that's as low or lower than the lead player's low card. Whoever has played the lowest card once everyone has passed becomes the new lead player.
Whoever runs out of cards first claims one of the available gift cards; whoever has the most cards left in hand must give a gift card to this round's winner! Whoever has the most gifts when the gifts run out wins.
Other titles to come in The E•G•G Series include King's Kilt (#3, Gord Hamilton, with players trying to place their clan members on positions of power), Krakatoa (#4, a new version of a Joli Quentin Kansil dice game), Dexicon (#5, a deck-building word game by Andrew Rowse), and Seven 7s (#7, a quick-playing card game designed around collections of 7 by Jason Tagmire).
• I thought that I had already posted something about Tajemnicze Domostwo, the surprise hit of BGG.CON 2014 from Portal Games and designers Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, but apparently I've only tweeted news about the game on BGG's Twitter feed — follow for fun links and occasional news! — so let's bring everyone up to date, starting with how to pronounce the game's name courtesy of Portal's Ignacy Trzewiczek: "'Tie-em-neetch-A' like in 'A-nything', 'DO-most-vo' with 'DO' like it 'DOts'."
Tajemnicze Domostwo was released in Poland in 2013, and versions have also been released in Italy, Ukraine and Russia. Designer Bruno Faidutti noted in April 2014 that the game was the hit of his annual game gathering, and the title was also available at Spiel 2014. It was known, at least by some, but not widely known. On the tables in front of 2,500 gamers in Dallas, though, everyone was playing the game and talking about it; Portal Games blew through their copies in no time, then held a special sale to try to satisfy demand from eager U.S. gamers.
Items at top, then locations and characters
So what's the game? Tajemnicze Domostwo plays somewhat like a co-operative version of Clue crossed with Dixit. One player represents a ghost, a spirit that's been trapped in a mansion after being unfairly punished for a murder. The ghost now understands who the real killer is and must try to transmit that information to the 1-6 investigators — the other players — now staying in the house and it has only seven days in which to do this, first by relaying information about everyone who was present at the time of the murder, then by identifying the murderer himself.
To set up, a number of item, location and character cards are laid on the table; the ghost then secretly selects one item, location and character for each player, and the identity of these cards is what the ghost must transmit to the players — but the ghost can do so only through dreams each night, with these dreams being represented by Dixit-style cards that include lots of details but very little in the way of concrete matches between the information that you actually want to transmit! Players talk about their dreams in order to help one another try to interpret the information, and if someone identifies her particular item, then the ghost tries to send her info about the location, then about her character. Once everyone has identified their characters, the ghost must send clues about one of them and the team of investigators must identify this culprit in order to win. All of this in only seven days time — that is, seven rounds!
Portal Games appears to be out of copies of Tajemnicze Domostwo for now, although Ukrainian and Italian copies might be available, but for those who can (or must) wait French publisher Libellud is working on a new edition of the game titled Mysterium with some new artwork and a new cover by Xavier Collette (Seasons, Dixit, Abyss). Stephanie at Libellud notes that the publisher is making different versions of the game for different countries that don't already have a licensed version. She adds, "We will also make some improvements, like adding some components such as a screen for the ghost." Libellud plans to release the game worldwide at Spiel 2015 in October, but Asmodee — Libellud's distributor in North America — has noted that it expects to have copies for release at Gen Con 2015 in August.
I've included sketches from Collette below, and while I'm sure that some people will freak out at the idea of changing the artwork from what already exists, I imagine that the Libellud version will function somewhat like an expansion for those who already own Tajemnicze Domostwo. Every publisher has its own sense of what sells best in its market, and given that Libellud is the original publisher of Dixit, which feels like an ancestor of this design, I'm sure that it will make fine choices for the final look of Mysterium, too.
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