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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

Archive for W. Eric Martin

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Spiel 2015 Preview: BANG! The Duel, or Shooting Outlaws by the Handful

W. Eric Martin
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More often than I am comfortable with, we record a video in advance of a game being announced, then when the game is finally made public, I can't find the video or it no longer encapsulates what the game is about, thereby making it useless.

Not this time, though! At Spielwarenmesse 2015, we filmed an overview of BANG! The Duel with dV Giochi founder and CEO Roberto Corelli, and this Emiliano Sciarra design will now debut at Spiel 2015 in October, with the game due out in European and North American stores by the end of 2015.

As you might expect from the BANG! The Duel title, this game is for two players, with each controlling a number of characters and having their own deck of cards. Each player has two characters in play, with one designated as being in front of the other, and the players compete to wipe out the other player's team first.

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Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:12 pm
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Gen Con 2015 XI: Attack on Titan, Quest for Arete, Badass Zombie Killers, Civicus Dice Game, Hostage Negotiator & Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game

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• In addition to filming 100+ videos at the BGG booth during Gen Con 2015, we also recorded game demonstrations elsewhere in the convention center, sometimes because the games were available only in prototype form and sometimes because our demo schedule was already packed.

One title I was happy to put on camera was Attack on Titan from designers Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc, which Cryptozoic plans to release in 2016. The design isn't finished, so this presentation is more overviewy than others that we've shown, but you can still grasp the garlic as to how this game works.





• Another forthcoming release from Cryptozoic Entertainment is Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game, which they've given a 1970s, "we just discovered this behind a filing cabinet" vibe. As for the gameplay in this title inspired by the Valve video game, you're fighting against the other players and the system itself to keep hold of your cake.





• Aside from the on-site game demos, we also recorded short overview videos at the side tables of our booth, sometimes with a designer who had reached out to me beforehand and sometimes with a designer who just walked up to the booth and caught me tweeting photos or somesuch. That's how we recorded something about Badass Zombie Killers with designer Lee Garvin from Skortched Urf' Studios.





• One bonus thing about designer encounters at Gen Con and other conventions is that I can then spur them in follow-up messages to update their game pages on BGG. I believe that Jason Kirkpatrick's Quest for Arete was not self-published in 2013, as stated on the BGG page, but rather is still in the works for the future, and I've encouraged him to submit corrections, upload more images, etc. So many little details to think about when you're developing and publishing a game on your own, including all the marketing efforts that don't relate to the game itself.





Civicus Dice Game from Playco Games was funded on Kickstarter in July 2015 with an expected release date of November 2015, and for those who missed the campaign co-publisher Will Hilburn presents an overview of the game.





• Another title that recently ended a Kickstarter campaign is Hostage Negotiator from designer/publisher A. J. Porfirio from Van Ryder Games. Lots of add-ons for this game should you feel compelled to take on an alarming number of abductors...

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Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:45 pm
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Gen Con 2015 X: Tasty Minstrel Games — Gold West, Steam Works, Flip City, Cthulhu Realms & Dungeon of Fortune

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• What's the best way to have a sellout game at Gen Con? Don't bring a lot of copies. Tasty Minstrel Games airshipped a few dozen copies of three upcoming game releases to Indianapolis in order to put them in the hands of reviewers and a few lucky buyers, with one of those new offerings being J. Alex Kevern's Gold West.

Of course, having those early copies on hand at Gen Con 2015 allowed us to record an overview of the game for those wanting to play along at home...





• Alex Churchill's Steam Works is another title that's been in the works a while for Tasty Minstrel, with this prototype pic from developer Seth Jaffee dating to January 2014. I'm always fascinated by development shots like this, imagining every change large and small that's been spurred by playtester comments or games that went off the rails or simply the desire to create something that challenges players in a particular way.





• Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir's Dungeon Fortune, another preview title, mimics the levelling-up, press-your-luck gameplay and setting from TMG's Dungeon Roll, but with the game using cards instead of dice and with developer Seth Jaffee noting that it's a "step up in terms of complexity". He explains here:





• I've played Chen Zhifan's Design Town a few times and thought it a clever deck-builder, with players constructing a personal deck of double-sided cards, trying to flip them over to use special powers while also wondering when to press their luck in order to get more coins at the risk of increasing their town's unhappiness (and ending their turn). Now TMG has released a new version of the game with a new title — Flip City — and ten copies of a card from the expansion. Bonus!





Cthulhu Realms is an interesting title in that TMG's Michael Mindes liked Darwin Kastle's hit card game Star Realms, but wanted to change a few things about it to make the design better match his tastes. After much tinkering, a change in theme, and a license from White Wizard Games to use the design, voilà — Cthulhu Realms.

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Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:00 pm
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Links: Modern Fog, Busted Asylum & Kickstarting Success

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• On statistics site FiveThirtyEight, Oliver Roeder presented an overview of Kickstarter's effect on the board game industry, with the title leading the conclusion: "Crowdfunding Is Driving A $196 Million Board Game Renaissance". An excerpt:

Quote:
And now there are more games being made than ever. The crowdfunding website Kickstarter has become the go-to place to finance a passion board game project. "The barrier to entry is much lower, especially with board games," Mach said. "All you need is a pencil and paper."

• Christopher Chabris continues to write about games in The Wall Street Journal, with his latest article discussing modern war games and their efforts to "capture the 'fog of war'". As with earlier WSJ articles, this article is behind a paywall, so you'll need to pay, read it a library, or wait for it to turn up in Google searches (although I might now have a legit read-through link in place).

• The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, which oversees the Origins Awards at the annual Origins Game Fair, has streamlined its award categories from nine to seven: Board Games; Card Games (includes dice and deck-building games); Collectibles (all games with a collectible component); Role-Playing Games; Family Games; Game Accessories; and Miniatures. An excerpt from the press release announcing this change:

Quote:
"Three years ago we set out on a path to enhance the Origins Awards process," said John Ward, Executive Director of GAMA and the AAGAD Chair, "Now we are at the end of that process and we will begin an annual review of the Awards. This step moves the awards forward and the new categories better reflect today's market and the industry as a whole."

• The nominees for the International Gamers Awards were announced in mid-August 2015, with a dozen games making the initial cut in the multi-player category. The nominees are:

General Strategy Games: Multi-Player Category

AquaSphere
Deus
Elysium
Five Tribes
Hyperborea
Kraftwagen
La Granja
Orléans
Panamax
Quartermaster General
Roll for the Galaxy
The Voyages of Marco Polo

General Strategy Games: Two-Player Category

Baseball Highlights: 2045
Fields of Arle
Patchwork
Star Realms
Star Wars: Armada
Wir Sind das Volk!

The IGA members, located throughout Europe and North America, plan to announce the winners in the September/October time frame. (Annual disclosure: I'm a member of the IGA, but do not vote.)

• In Washington state in the U.S., King County Superior Court Commissioner Henry Judson has ordered (PDF) that Altius Management — which ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 for Asylum playing cards and collected more than $25,000 — to pay $54,851 in penalties, court costs, and restitution to KS backers in Washington due to Altius not following through on its promises. Here's part of a press release about the order from the Washington State Attorney General:

Quote:
The court ordered a total of $668 in restitution for the 31 Washington state backers, $31,000 in civil penalties for violating the state Consumer Protection Act ($1,000 per violation), and $23,183 to cover the costs and fees involved in bringing the case.

"Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft," said Ferguson. "If you accept money from consumers, and don't follow through on your obligations, my office will hold you accountable."


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Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:00 pm
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Gen Con 2015 IX: Blood Rage, Rum & Bones, Snow Tails, FUSE, Co-Mix & Car Wars: The Card Game

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• If you were looking for giant boxes with lots of stuff inside of them at Gen Con 2015, Cool Mini Or Not might have been one of your destinations, mostly because you could have checked out Eric Lang's Blood Rage, which carries an October 1, 2015 U.S. street date for those who weren't at the show or didn't back the game on Kickstarter.





• CMON also showed of its giant pirate game Rum & Bones from Michael Shinall, with this being a giant game with pirates, not a game with giant pirates. Perhaps that one will come in the future...





Snow Tails was first published by designers Gordon and Fraser Lamont, and now it's returning in a new edition from Renegade Game Studios that keeps pretty much everything the same as in the original design.





• Renegade Game Studios also highlighted one of its forthcoming games at Gen Con 2015, Kane Klenko's FUSE — a real-time cooperative dice-rolling-and-splitting game that plays in ten minutes.





• Everything old is new again, as the saying goes, and Steve Jackson Games has revamped Creede and Sharleen Lambard's Car Wars: The Card Game for a new edition, its third since 1991.





• Didn't we record a game demostration of Lorenzo Silva's Co-Mix from Horrible Games at Spiel 2014? Yes, yes we did. In any case, Ares Games is now co-publishing the game and making it available in North America, so we included the game in our broadcast special. In case you're not familiar with the game already, here is your final chance to become acquainted.

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Sat Aug 22, 2015 3:35 am
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Gen Con 2015 VIII: Stronghold Games — Space Cadets: Away Missions, Dark Moon & La Granja

W. Eric Martin
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Stronghold Games had its usual stronghold of games at Gen Con 2015, with walls of thick boxes surrounding its playing space and gamers eroding those walls bit by bit as the weekend progresed. The big debut from Stronghold was Space Cadets: Away Missions, a giant minis-filled game that functions as a prequel of sorts for Space Cadets.





• Stronghold Games brought a small quantity of Evan Derrick's Dark Moon to the 2015 Origins Game Fair, but the game's official debut was Gen Con 2015 — or was it July 8, 2015, which was the U.S. street date? In any case, here's an overview of the game:





La Granja was a second Origins sneak peek by Stronghold, with the new edition of this Michael Keller and Andreas Odendahl design (which was first published by Spielworxx) also appearing in Spanish, Dutch, French, and German (again). It's neat to see a niche release proliferate in that way. Sometimes a Spielworxx title does one thousand copies and is done — and sometimes it spreads and spreads again.





• Stronghold's Stephen Buonocore also spoke with BGG's Brad Cummings about a couple of digital releases in the works: a digital version of Core Worlds and an Android version of Survive: Escape from Atlantis!

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Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:45 pm
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M.U.L.E. The Board Game Debuting from Lautapelit.fi at Spiel 2015

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Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi has a smashing reputation, with Nations ranked in the top 50 on BGG and Eclipse in the top 10, and now that reputation will be put to the test with its latest release — a board game adaptation of the much beloved video game M.U.L.E.

M.U.L.E. The Board Game from designer Heikki Harju debuts at Spiel 2015 in October and is scheduled for a worldwide launch in November 2015. Here's a summary of the setting and gameplay from the publisher:

Quote:
M.U.L.E. was first published as a computer game in 1983. Inspired by board games, it became a breakthrough, then a classic. Now this warm-hearted game of cut-throat capitalism is finally available as a board game!

In M.U.L.E. The Board Game, you are one of the pioneering and industrious species of a Galactic Federation. Together with your fellow colonists, you attempt to settle the distant Planet Irata with the so-called help of a mule-like machine you all learn to hate. But for now, he's all you've got. Well, him and your fellow colonists. I wouldn't count on their help, though — not unless there's profit. Good luck. You'll need it.

In more detail, on Irata you claim plots of land, fit M.U.L.E.s (Multiple Use Labor Elements) for harvesting of food, energy, and smith ore as well as the exclusive and elusive crystite. The most cunning settler and trader receives fame, fortune, and the honorary title of first colonist!

In its press release, Lautapelit.fi notes that it has "licensed rights from Ozark Softscape to publish Heikki Harju's board game adaptation of Dan Bunten's legendary M.U.L.E."


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Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:47 pm
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New Game Round-up: Portal Unleashes Hunters and Steel Police, Lion Games Delivers Heroes and Aliens, & Sit Down Mashes Goths with Royalty

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• Portal Games is expanding its offerings at Spiel 2015 with an expansion for Theseus: The Dark Orbit, a new faction titled Hunters from Theseus base game designer Michał Oracz and Andrzej Sosnowski, a fan of the game who had an idea that Portal liked and wanted to develop. Here's a summary of how the Hunters work:

Quote:
Theseus: The Dark Orbit – Hunters, the second faction expansion for Theseus, contains a faction that employs trickery and subterfuge to their advantage. Hiding in the shadows, the Hunters can steal bonus cards and upgrade tokens, use enemy cards through hacking, and remotely trigger their own action cards. The Hunters also have the unique ability of leaving Theseus by hiding in their capsule just outside the space station.

Theseus: The Dark Orbit – Hunters debuts at Spiel 2015 in October and is due out in the U.S. in late November 2015 with a $19 MSRP.

• Portal Games also plans to release the 3.0 version of Neuroshima Hex! Steel Police — the same army as released in 2012, but with new graphics to match the current version of Neuroshima Hex! — in October 2015.

• At Spiel 2015, Belgian publisher Sit Down! will have Ekö, an abstract strategy game from Henri Kermarrec in which 2-4 players construct towers and villages and try to take out one another's Emperor.

• Sit Down! will follow this design with the decidedly less serious Goths Save The Queen, a team-based game in which players try to match their orders with those of their teammate in order to advance, load artillery, etc. so that they can save the Queen first.

Adam Kwapiński's Heroes from Lion Games and REBEL.pl was released in mid-2015, with this title being the first fantasy-based game from Fabryka Gier Historycznych (which created the Lion Games imprint to distinguish their offerings). The generic Heroes name represents the legendary approach to the subject matter, with the players inhabiting a fantasy world and using classic elemental powers to confront classic fantasy creatures.

• The next title from Kwapiński and Lion Games, Nemesis, presents players with another classic genre situation:

Quote:
You are a part of a crew sent to explore distant planets and find valuable minerals. Your ship is heading back towards Earth, but suddenly the system wakes you all from hibernation. You soon find out that you are not alone on board Nemesis... You enter a deadly game.

In Nemesis, you take a role of a spaceship crew member (navigator, mechanic, medic, etc.), exploring the rooms on the vessel called the Nemesis (drawn and located randomly on the board) and aim to complete your secret goal. However, all the players share the main goal: Return to Earth safely, avoiding or fighting various forms of alien life appearing on the ship each round. You must work together, but if a character dies, they are not eliminated from the game; instead they join the alien side and start playing against the rest of the team. The game combines cooperation with bluffing, backstabbing and typical elements of an s-f survival horror adventure.
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Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:21 pm
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Gen Con 2015 VII: New York 1901, Letter Tycoon, Boomtown Bandits, Maze Racers, Catacombs, Stockpile & Tesla vs Edison

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• One of the other hits of Gen Con 2015 was Chénier La Salle's New York 1901 from Blue Orange Games, the first strategy game from a publisher normally known for speed-based reaction games and other mainstream-friendly designs. Since its merger with French publisher Jactalea in 2013, BOG has started to import some of that company's games, titles still relatively light in gameplay but more involved and thinky than its earlier releases. With New York 1901, BOG is trying to have its breakout Ticket to Ride moment, but only time will tell how successful this game will be.





• The graphic design on Brad Brooks' Letter Tycoon from Squirmy Beast is an eye-catcher, and even if you normally shun word games, this design might catch your eye anyway. Good design does that, and I heartily approve the design as a great way to step outside the normal look of games and attract new players.





Boomtown Bandits from Isaac Epp and Squirmy Beast was one of two Western-themed titles at the Breaking Games booth at Gen Con 2015 — Slap .45 being the other — and Breaking Games' Shari Spiro said that thematic hook gave them the idea of transforming their booth into a mini-saloon (although they could not serve drinks, of course, due to the nature of Gen Con's regulations).

Talking about how Breaking Games works, Spiro explained that she's a rock-and-roll fan from way back, and she wanted to create the spirit of a music jamboree with their presentations at conventions. Thus, she publishes and co-publishes many designs from small publishers and independent designers, and these people then present their works to potential buyers at small tables during shows like Gen Con and NY Toy Fair. They have each other's backs, she says. I learn your game, you learn mine. I'll teach while you're having lunch; you'll teach mine while I'm walking the hall for a break. Then let's get together and jam!





• Andy Geremia showed up at Gen Con 2015 with a handful of copies of Maze Racers from FoxMind, running a few events to show off the game (and missing one of them, ahem). The concept of competitive maze-building is a great one, and I'm curious to see whether anything else will be done with this idea in the years ahead, although if you're not able to actually pick up the maze and interact with it, you might find it lacking.





• Speaking of great graphic design, I know that many people are not fans of Kwanchai Moriya's new look for Catacombs from Amos, Kelsey, West and Elzra Games, but I find it incredibly appealing, especially when set against the wall of generic fantasy artwork borne by many games on the market. Whereas the first edition aimed for moody and serious, this version seems like a better match for the nature of gameplay and thus more harmonious overall.





• Brett Sobol and Seth Van Orden's Stockpile from Nauvoo Games has picked up a fair amount of praise for what initially sounds like a familiar game: Work the stock market to make as much money as possible. Sobol dropped by the BGG booth to tell us more about the game.






• Dirk Knemeyer from Artana Games was the first guest in the BGG booth at Gen Con 2015, and we'll close out this round-up with his overview of Tesla vs Edison: War of Currents, a title that I misspell every time that I type it because I'm so used to typing "edition" from all the game listings that I create in the BGG database. The strange tics that one picks up from their jobs...

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Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:00 am
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Spiel 2015 Preview: Two Titles from R&R Games: Mombasa and Rome: City of Marble

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• I'm cheating a bit in the title since Mombasa actually originates from eggertspiele, with Pegasus Spiele serving as German co-publisher and R&R Games as the North American licensee, but so be it! R&R Games was the publisher on hand at Gen Con 2015, so that's who I spoke with about this Alexander Pfister design, which debuts at Spiel 2015.

Pfister is co-designer, with Andreas Pelikan , of the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres Broom Service and (the as yet well-regarded) Gen Con 2015 release Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. Will Mombasa be his third hit game of 2015?





• I first encountered Rome: City of Marble by chance at ACD Games Day 2014, an annual event for retailers sponsored by ACD Distribution in Madison, Wisconsin. Designer Brett Myers lives in that city, and he was (I think) volunteering at the event, and we had some time during the evening get-together, so we played his prototype. The game featured rhombuses, so naturally it was great. (My alter ego on many sites is Henry Rhombus.)

Now, sixteen months later, I remember liking the game and celebrating the rhombuses, but not remembering details of how to play. ("The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time." ―Friedrich Nietzsche) At Gen Con 2015, R&R Games' Frank DiLorenzo tried to jog my memory...

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Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:00 am
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