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

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New Game Round-up: Spielworxx Invites Reformation, Bauza Revisits Armada, and Alderac Blames You

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• Uli Blennemann from Spielworxx says that the publisher will release "a Reformation/Luther game" from designers Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard in late 2016. Asked how "heavy" the game will be, Blennemann answered, "As light as possible but the topic means it will be a complex game — complex and elegant with lots of flair."

• Designer Antoine Bauza has worked on and off on the 7 Wonders: Armada expansion for years. Here's a BGG News note about the "second" 7 Wonders expansion from July 2011 — man, were my posts different back then! — and again from September 2012. Well, apparently work is now continuing once again:


• Bauza also mentions this project:



• I've already covered a few upcoming 2016 releases from Alderac Entertainment Group, and now AEG has another trio of offerings, starting with the ninth Smash Up title — Smash Up: It's Your Fault!, featuring the player-chosen factions of Sharks, Superheroes, Greek Myth, and Dragons, and due out in March 2016.

• Also due in March 2016 from AEG is Jason Tagmire's Pretense, which the designer previously released through his own Button Shy brand. Here's an overview of that title:

Quote:
Pretense is a game night social metagame, essentially a game that you play DURING other games. You have a secret role and a secret objective, and if you accomplish it, you gain a point AND you steal someone's role. With that role you can try to gain more points and more roles. The game plays from 2-12 and is great on a good-sized game night with about 5-6 people.

• For April 2016, AEG continues its trend of jokey titles a là Game of Crowns with Twilight Squabble, a quick-playing two-player card game from Flock's David J. Mortimer. A summary:

Quote:
Relive the entire Cold War in ten minutes with Twilight Squabble!

In 1947, the superpowers of the United States of America and the Soviet Union began a new sort of conflict, a struggle in the twilight of World War II. This war centered on the increasing development of nuclear weapons, and as the years passed it seemed like the war would never end — but no one wants to play a card game for decades. Thus, this game presents an abridged version of the Cold War — less of a twilight struggle and more of a twilight squabble...



• AEG has also teased...something...for Gen Con 2016 that features artwork by J Hause:

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Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:34 pm
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KOSMOS Expands Catan, Encourages Smugglers, Paints Elephants, Punches Buckets, and Builds in Egypt

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• With only two weeks to go until the Spielwarenmesse toy fair opens in Nürnberg, Germany, I've added many more titles to BGG's Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview, including a vast line-up from KOSMOS. New Catan releases are on that list, of course, but they're more "new" than new, with one item being Catan: Das Duell, a revamped 20th anniversary edition of the Catan two-player card game, now with four card holders to keep your table more organized.

In 2015, Dutch publisher 999 Games released Catan: Big Box, a collection that packaged the Catan base game with the Traders & Barbarians expansion and other items. Now KOSMOS has a Catan: Big Box of its own that features a different assortment of items: Helpers, Frenemies, the Mallorca Deutschland scenarios (with the former having a paper board and the latter chip board), and the 5/6-player extension. Maybe every country will get its own version of a Catan: Big Box given enough time. It's confusing these days...

• Aside from the Catan packages, designer Klaus Teuber has a new title coming in 2016, Schmuggler, designed with son Benjamin Teuber. The picture helps a lot in making sense of the description, but I think the video overview we record at Spielwarenmesse 2016 will be an even better demonstration. For now, we have this:

Quote:
To bring the best youngsters into the business, the smuggler boss is holding a contest, with the candidates being challenged to move a sack filled with contraband through an opening in the fence.

More specifically, in Schmuggler players form the "sacks" used for smuggling out of modeling clay and hide their contraband within. The sacks are then rolled down a 3D path, with a die roll determining which hole in the fence the player needs to try to squeeze through. The player whose bag fits through the hole and who has the largest sack now checks the smaller bags, possibly taking the contraband hidden within. Who will prove to be the best smuggler?



• In the abstract strategy category (I think), KOSMOS has Kerala: Der Weg der Elefanten from Kirsten Hiese, and as with the game above, the description provided by the publisher only hints at what one actually does in the game:

Quote:
Welcome to the elephant festival in the Indian province of Kerala! Colorfully decorated elephants roam everywhere, and naturally players want to participate and make the most magnificent fairground with as many elephants as possible.

In Kerala: Der Weg der Elefanten, each player wants to take at least one tile of each color, and all tiles of one color should be joined together, but of course the players are constantly getting in the way of one another and grabbing the tiles that someone else wants.



• In addition to having an expansion for Cacao coming from ABACUSSPIELE, designer Phil Walker-Harding has the 2-4 player Imhotep due from KOSMOS in March 2016. Looks big and blocky!

Quote:
In Imhotep, the players become builders in Egypt who want to emulate the first and best-known architect there, namely Imhotep.

Over six rounds, they move wooden stones by boat to create five seminal monuments, and on a turn, a player chooses one of four actions: Procure new stones, load stones on a boat, bring a boat to a monument, or play an action card. While this sounds easy, naturally the other players constantly thwart your building plans by carrying out plans of their own. Only those with the best timing — and the stones to back up their plans — will prove to be Egypt's best builder.



• If you had asked me months ago whether a game would feature a hamster punching a bucket, I likely would have said no, but thankfully I didn't place any money behind that statement as KOSMOS is re-releasing Stefan Dorra's Alles im Eimer. This design was first released by KOSMOS in 2002, then upgraded by Hong Kong-based Jolly Thinkers to make the physical element more important for gameplay, and now it's headed back to Germany. As for the gameplay, here's an overview:

Quote:
In Bucket King 3D, players lay down sets of animal cards to try to knock over every other's pyramids of buckets. Cards in hand can be used to defend your own buckets and attack those of others — and if you knock out a bucket low in someone's pyramid, you might cause a cascade that takes out even more!

Each turn, the active player either plays cards or loses buckets; the game is played in rounds with a new round starting after anyone loses one or more buckets. At the start of each round, the active player chooses 1-3 cards in hand of the same color/animal, lays them face up in front of himself, announces their sum, then draws one card to add to his hand (regardless of how many he played). Each subsequent player must lay down 1-3 cards of the same suit as the initial player with a higher sum than previously announced or else lose a bucket. (If play circles the table to the round's start player, he can add 1-3 new cards to those previously played, then announce the sum of all cards in front of him.)

When a player cannot or chooses not to defend his pyramid by playing cards, he removes one bucket of that card color from his pyramid by pushing, flicking or poking it with only one finger. (If he doesn't have a bucket of the required color, he removes a bucket of his choice.) This player then starts a new round after everyone has cleared their played cards.

In a two- to four-player game, the game ends when a player loses his last bucket; in a five- to six-player game, a player who loses his last bucket is out of the game, and the game ends when only three players have buckets still in play. Whoever has the most buckets remaining in his pyramid wins.


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Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:34 pm
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New Game Round-up: Days of Wonder Flexes Quads, Stronghold Unleashes Bears & Frosted Games Lays Eggs

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• After months of teasing and somewhat public demonstrations, Days of Wonder has now officially announced the upcoming release of Quadropolis from first-time designer François Gandon, with the game due for release in Europe in early March 2016 and in the U.S. in April. Versions will appear with rules in English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Czech and Polish, and the game retails for $50/€45.

I played the prototype of Quadropolis, then called City Mania, at Spielwarenmesse in early 2015 and wrote about the gameplay and its background in April 2015. Phoebe Wild also recorded a video overview of the game at BGG.CON 2015 in case you don't care to read the summary below:

Quote:
Each player builds their own metropolis in Quadropolis, but they're competing with one another for the shops, parks, public services and other structures to be placed in them.

The game lasts four rounds, and in each round players first lay out tiles for the appropriate round at random on a 5x5 grid. Each player has four architects numbered 1-4 and on a turn, a player places an architect next to a row or column in the grid, claims the tile that's as far in as the number of the architect placed (e.g., the fourth tile in for architect #4), places that tile in the appropriately numbered row or column on the player's 4x4 city board, then claims any resources associated with the tile (inhabitants or energy).

When a player takes a tile, a figure is placed in this now-empty space and the next player cannot place an architect in the same row or column where this tile was located. In addition, you can't place one architect on top of another, so each placement cuts off play options for you and everyone else later in the round. After all players have placed all four architects, the round ends, all remaining tiles are removed, and the tiles for the next round laid out.

After four rounds, the game ends. Players can move the inhabitants and energy among their tiles at any point during the game to see how to maximize their score. At game end, they then score for each of the six types of buildings depending on how well they build their city — as long as they have activated the buildings with inhabitants or energy as required.

Stronghold Games has started announcing release plans for 2016, starting with Bear Valley, a 15-30 minute card game for 2-6 players aged eight and up from Carl Chudyk.

Wait a minute — a Chudyk game in fifteen minutes for players ages eight and up? I can't imagine it, but perhaps this design doesn't fit the Innovation/Impulse/Glory to Rome model of Chudyks past. Here's an overview of the gameplay:

Quote:
In Bear Valley, you must be the first to survive the treacherous wilderness and escape to the safety of the camp at the end of the valley. Players start as 2-6 campers along the Bear River and must navigate the wilderness, avoiding bears and trying to not get lost.

The map of trails and challenges is built by the players as they explore the wilderness. These wilderness cards feature beautifully illustrated realistic art and have between three and six exit points along with a variety of features, both made-made and natural in origin. No two games will ever play the same.

Gameplay is structured around a clever movement mechanism in which the first player moves one card, the second player moves up to two cards, the third player three, and so on. Each of the six player characters has both advantages and disadvantages that can be used across a variety of play options — short or long play, regular or advanced.

Dive into caves, row canoes, cross bridges, climb mountains, and cut through treacherous underbrush as you stop at nothing — except bears — to be the first to reach base camp. Can you survive and escape Bear Valley?

• When something succeeds, you do it all over again, right? I imagine that's the theory behind Brettspiel Easter Basket 2016, a collection of mini-expansions for popular games from Frosted Games that mirrors its Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015.

Brettspiel Easter Basket 2016, due out in March 2016 with rules in English and German, consists of eight new expansions for eight games from eight publishers, with the games being Antarctica, Colt Express, Dream Islands, Haleakala, My Village, Imperial Settlers, Snowdonia, and T.I.M.E Stories. (T.I.M.E Stories? Really? I'm curious as to what this item might possibly be.) Brettspiel Easter Basket 2016 also contains the microgame WH1CH GAM3 from Jürgen Karla and Oliver Grimm that can be played in order to determine which game should be played next.

Notes Frosted Games in its press release: "It can easily be hidden in the garden as a whole. Or it can be opened and each of the included nine bags can be hidden separately." The publisher notes that this item will be distributed in Europe by Spiel Direkt and in the U.S. by Funagain Games and BoardGameGeek, which is news to me.

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Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:34 pm
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ABACUSSPIELE Invites Players to Deliver Chocolate, Haircuts and Robots

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• BGG's Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview already has more than fifty titles on it since debuting at the start of 2016, and while I won't post about all of those titles in this space (or all of those I add in the weeks to come), I will highlight those that I anticipate as being more likely to be anticipated by you, faithful reader.

For example, Phil Walker-Harding's Cacao was a well-received family game in 2015, picking up a Spiel des Jahres recommendation along the way, and now German publisher ABACUSPIELE has announced a first expansion for the game — Cacao: Chocolatl. Here's an overview of what you'll find in the box:

Quote:
Cacao: Chocolatl features four modules for the Cacao base game, and these modules can be used individually or in any combination with the other modules.

1. The chocolate module includes three chocolate maker tiles, three chocolate markets and twenty wooden chocolate markers. Chocolate is made out of cacao at the chocolate maker tiles and can be sold at a high price but only on special markets.

2. The huts module includes twelve double-sided huts you can acquire during the game. They give their owner special powers during the game or extra points when fulfilling specific conditions.

3. The irrigation module includes three special plantations where you can harvest a lot of cacao fruits but must pay with water.

4. The maps module includes a preview board for two more tiles that are visible near the draw pile. Each player receives two map tiles at the beginning of the game, and for each tile spent he can also choose from the preview board when filling up spaces on the board.

• The first question that comes to mind when I see the cover of Leo is, "How many other designers have had a game named after them?" I don't recall playing Reiner, Kevin, or Seiji at any point in the past, but perhaps I've simply forgotten those designs. Leo, a coooperative design for kids from Leo Colovini, has players trying to get a lion to the barber shop on time. To feed on the barber? No, silly — to make him look his best!

Quote:
Leo the lion's mane is far too long and he risks looking shaggy and losing the respect of his fellow animals — but those same animals keep stopping him to chit-chat while on the way to a haircut. Can you get this king of the jungle to the barber shop in time?

In Leo, players need to help Leo reach the barber shop before it closes for the day. To set up, place all of the animal tiles face down, shuffle them, then create a track that leads from Leo's bed to Bobo's Barber Shop. Set the clock to 8:00 a.m. Each player starts a number of cards in hand.

On a turn, a player plays one card to move Leo ahead 1-4 spaces on the track, then reveals the animal tile on which Leo landed. If the tile is the same color as the card just played, the clock remains at the same time as it was at the start of the turn; if the tile has a different color, however, the clock moves ahead 1-5 hours depending on the animal depicted. Poor Leo! If the clock reaches 8:00 p.m. before Leo arrives at the barber shop, the round ends and Leo must return home in order to try again the next day. Turn all face-up tiles face down again.

If the players manage to get Leo to the barber shop within five days to get him a trim, they win!

• "Inspired by Alex Randolph's classic Ricochet Robots" — I don't know whether that phrase does anything for you, but it perks up my ears as I'm a huge fan of the simultaneous puzzle-solving action in that game, "action" being a relative term, of course, since you're simply staring at the board thinking. Andreas Kuhnekath's Micro Robots features similar, but different game play on a smaller scale:

Quote:
Micro Robots challenges players to quickly determine how a robot can move from one spot on the grid to another.

To set up, choose to use the black or copper side of the four game boards, then arrange them in a 2x2 square. Each game board shows nine dice, and once arranged the completed grid shows 36 dice, with the dice being numbered 1-6 and showing six colors, with each combination of number and color appearing exactly once. Roll the color die and number die to determine the starting location for the transparent robot, then mark this space with the transparent starting token.

In a round, roll the two dice to determine the target space; you can mark this space with a transparent victory token or simply have everyone remember which space they're trying to reach. Everyone simultaneously tries to figure out how to move the robot to the target space, and to move the robot, it must move orthogonally to a space that shares either the color or number of its current location. If the robot starts on "3-green", for example, it can move orthogonally to any space that shows either a 3 or is green; if you'd move it to "5-green", it can now once again move orthogonally to any space that shows either a 5 or is green; and so on.

As soon as a player has a solution, they yell out the number of moves, then take the robot and demonstrate the solution. If the solution takes exactly the number of moves claimed, the player earns a victory token; if not, the player gives one of their victory tokens (if they have any) to the player with the fewest tokens. In either case, the former target space becomes the new starting space for the next round.

If any player possesses five victory tokens, they win! If the 25 victory tokens are distributed before someone collects five, then whoever holds the most tokens wins, with ties being possible.

Expert Micro Robots players can increase the challenge of the game by placing the target victory token on the board, then rolling the two dice once again. The players must now determine a solution that first moves the robot to the space showing on the dice, then to the final destination.

The transparent robot in Micro Robots can also be used in Ricochet Robots. This robot moves like any other robot in that game except that for an additional move it can pass through a wall instead of stopping at it. It cannot move through the central barrier or the exterior walls, and the only target space on which it can land is the colored vortex.

• In addition to these titles, in 2016 ABACUSSPIELE will release Michael Schacht's Zooloretto Junior, which is a revamped version of Zooloretto Mini that features a few changes to lower the MSRP, and Game of Trains, a card game that Latvian-based Brain Games debuted at Spiel 2015. In that game, players try to reverse the order of the train car(d)s behind their engine, either replacing them directly through card draws or by using the special powers on the numbered cards.

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Sat Jan 9, 2016 6:15 pm
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Asmodee Acquires English-Language Rights to Catan; Mayfair Games to Continue on Its Own

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Since Asmodee's acquisitions of Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games in 2014 (covered here and here), many people have joked about what Asmodee will acquire next.

Today we have that answer: Catan — more specifically, "worldwide English-language publishing, commercial and brand rights to Catan", with Asmodee acquiring those rights from U.S. publisher Mayfair Games. (Steve Horvath, CMO at Asmodee North America (ANA), has stated to me that this deal does not affect the license for Catan in any other language or with any other publisher.) Mayfair Games will continue to distribute Catan during an as-yet-publicly-undefined transitional period, after which Asmodee North America (ANA) will take over distribution of Catan within the U.S. while its partners will handle distribution outside of that country.

The English-language rights to Catan will be handled by the newly created Catan Studio, which Asmodee North America describes as an "independent, flexible and creative unit within the Asmodee Group [that] is dedicated to the development of a broad array of Catan content as well as growing, supporting, and nurturing the Catan community". To quote from the press release: "Led by Peter C. Fenlon, former CEO of Mayfair Games, this experienced and talented studio team will work closely with Catan GmbH and their partners to grow a vibrant global brand." (Catan GmbH, based in Germany, "specializes in the development and licensing of entertainment concepts", with Catan designer Klaus Teuber and his sons Guido and Benjamin Teuber all serving as Managing Directors.)

Why does the Asmodee Group want to acquire the rights to Catan? For anyone familiar with modern games, the answer should be obvious, but let's quote from the press release to put some numbers into the conversation:

Quote:
The award-winning Catan board game, invented in 1995 by Klaus Teuber, has sold more than 23 million copies (including expansions) and is translated into 35 languages. For 20 years, this game has been bringing modernity to the classic gameplays through developing innovative game experiences and social interactions. This long-lasting success enables Catan to be recognized as an internationally established brand, with English-language today representing over 50% of the worldwide yearly sales.

In line with the recent acquisitions of Dobble/Spot-It! and the board game publishers Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games, this acquisition is a principal part of Asmodee's strategy of expanding its intellectual property portfolio and international presence to continuously offer the most innovative and leading games to the international gaming community and broaden access to games to the largest possible audience. Over the last two years, the Asmodee Group has accelerated its international growth, now representing 67% of the group sales (of which more than 30% in the US), versus 48% in 2013.

Mayfair's first edition
To get a better understanding of how this deal came about, I asked Peter Fenlon, now CEO of Catan Studio, about Catan's standing within Mayfair Games, specifically whether a Catan team operated independently within Mayfair or whether it was integrated with all other aspects of the company. "Catan was the best-selling brand in the Mayfair portfolio, but it didn't become especially distinct until 2007", he wrote. "It was then that I took over as CEO; we reorganized, Larry Roznai [currently Mayfair's President and COO], Bob Carty [Vice President of Sales and Marketing], and Coleman Charlton [game developer and editor] became empowered, and we refocused. Soon, we released the fourth English-language edition and began devoting dedicated resources and programs to Catan brand development. The brand gradually took off, and we remained focused on its success. Our Virginia-based game development team, our Florida-based sales and marketing staff, and our Illinois-based operations crew all came to understand Catan's special standing and value. Everyone helped build the brand as they labored to strengthen Mayfair. Nonetheless, Catan was never fully independent."

As for how Catan came to be part of the Asmodee Group and who approached whom, Fenlon wrote: "Many larger firms sought Catan, especially in recent years. All made multiple inquiries. Many friends sought us out. Still, we felt the brand needed careful and steady development, for we always felt Catan could become an enduring global brand. We believed that it would ultimately become the world's preeminent analog game brand. Once we focused on Catan, that became even more evident. It also became clear that a traditional toy company or brand development house, despite great resources, might not understand Catan's special value. They might not act with the patience and care necessary to build and nurture Catan's great community. Nor would they understand the need to treat it as a 'premium brand', not just a mass market fad."

He continued: "Stéphane Carville, Asmodee's CEO, understood these challenges. He approached us in 2014, learned what we wanted, and came back to us last spring [2015] with a very creative and serious offer. His mission to build the world's strongest 'game company' — as opposed to toy company — excited us. With an opening from our mutual friend, Luc Mertens, Stéphane flew to Charlottesville, Virginia on short notice in late spring 2015. There, he sold Coleman Charlton (Mayfair's Product Director) and I on his vision. His vision complemented and underpinned ours. Soon, our other partners at Mayfair (Larry, Bob et al) and Catan GmbH bought into the proposal."

Many Mayfair employees will transition into new positions at Catan Studio: Charlton will become Catan Studio's Managing Editor, Mayfair Art Director Morgan Dontanville will be Catan Studio's Chief Creative Officer, former Catan brand manager Ron Magin is now Chief Operating Officer for the Catan Studio, and Bob Carty will serve as special marketing and merchandise counsel.

In a separate press release, Mayfair Games (MGI) noted that Larry Roznai will remain as President while also assuming the CEO position held by Fenlon, while Alex Yeager will become Vice President of Acquisition and Development to handle the former responsibilities of Charlton. In addition to distributing Catan during its transition to ANA, Mayfair Games will continue to promote "the Catan brand including but not limited to the continued coordination of the 2016 Catan tournament schedule, Catan Day 2016 and the 2016 Catan World Championship". To add more details from the Mayfair press release:

Quote:
MGI continues to retain a controlling interest in Lookout GmbH and Mayfair GmbH, providing a wide range of games worldwide, and distribution to the European marketplace. These efforts will be expanded with a new focus on multi-language and international products.

MGI is also pleased to announce the acquisition of several Martin Wallace games as permanent additions to the Mayfair game library. Those titles include Steam, Aeroplanes, Automobile, Test of Fire and Clash of Wills.

More from Fenlon about why Catan is leaving Mayfair Games: "Asmodee could never have sold us on the idea of joining Catan to their portfolio if we didn't believe that: (1) they were a content-driven company determined to create and support truly great games; (2) they understood and supported the diverse and growing game community; (3) they understood that event- and story-based marketing need not be cynical, and in fact should offer its own substantive entertainment value; (4) they embraced all levels of the game community and game trade as game consumers; (5) they understood that service-oriented brick-and-mortar retailers had a special value as forums, community centers, etc.; and (6) that each game, each line, each brand offered unique value. This balanced perspective, this diverse perspective, this commitment to great content is a very healthy philosophy. It will help us build and support a healthier and happier game community — and thus market."

As for what will change with Catan as a result of this deal, Fenlon stressed that people will continue to see all that they've seen in the past, but in all likelihood more people will be seeing it: "The Asmodee Group provides Catan with a host of additional resources. In addition to the capital necessary to carefully and deliberately grow the Catan content portfolio and reach new markets in a steady, deliberate, and fair fashion, Asmodee offers Catan access to a strong, diverse, and global operations program and a very talented international team. While we will operate as an independent studio, we'll be able to tap into a lot of new perspectives, thoughtful experiences, and diverse perspectives. Most importantly, we'll be part of a group that understands that we need to think globally and act locally." (As mentioned above, Asmodee North America will take over distribution of Catan at some point. Mayfair Games currently has an exclusive distribution deal with Alliance Game Distributors. I asked whether distribution will expand to ANA's five authorized U.S. distributors, as detailed in this BGG News post, and Horvath said that no distribution details are being made public during the transition period.)

As for the look of the game itself, Mayfair Games has historically done its own thing regarding the Catan games, whereas many of the other licensees have adopted the look and design of the KOSMOS edition, but with the local language replacing the German text. Will this practice continue with the formation of Catan Studio? Wrote Fenlon: "First, please understand that, especially in recent years, Catan GmbH, Mayfair, and Kosmos have worked as a team to develop the Catan brand and its products. Mayfair and Kosmos varied components and presentation to suit their markets. As we developed the latest 'global' edition of Catan — the fifth English-language edition — we worked to improve and synergize the brand. This team approach will continue and no doubt improve as we move forward. All partners within the Catan family should participate more, not less. Like the whole Catan team, Catan Studios' approach to product creation, manufacturing, etc. will remain rooted in the idea that we won't make any change unless it is a substantive improvement. We will also remain committed to the fact that Catan is a values-based brand. Those values — curiosity, cooperation through trade, indirect competition, creative building, and fun — are anything but destructive. We'll never manufacture in a way that harms our environment or the people that labor within it." (Mayfair Games currently manufactures its titles within the U.S.)

Fenlon added: "Catan Studio carries Mayfair's entire mandate, especially content, into the Asmodee Group. In fact, our mandate grows. We'll be working with Catan GmbH, our fellow Catan licensees like Kosmos and USM, to carefully create a host of great new game, merchandise, and story programs. We'll continue to support the Catan World Championship, other tournaments, the Big Game, and other event-based programs that are as much fun products as they are entertaining marketing. There will be new games, scenarios, variants, and special editions, but we'll continue to take great care to avoid diluting the Catan experience. Every Catan game, every product, every event should be substantively fun and worthy."
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Thu Jan 7, 2016 12:01 pm
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New Game Round-up: Caveman Capers for Kids, Searching Egypt Again, and The Inevitable Return of Those Walkers

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• Well, well, well — it appears that all that time spent in the mating hut didn't go to waste as German publisher Hans im Glück has announced that Stone Age Junior, a Marco Teubner design based on the original Stone Age strategy game, is due out in February 2016.

Info is minimal right now, with HiG promising more details later in January 2016. BGG will be at Spielwarenmesse 2016, and we'll record an overview then. For now, here's a pic of some components and a brief description:

Quote:
Travel to the past with Jonon and Jada, two stone age children, to rediscover how the first humans settled the world around them.

In Stone Age Junior, a children's version of the Stone Age family game, the players collect goods and build their own settlement.

HiG's English-language partner Z-Man Games will release this title under the name My First Stone Age in 2016.


• In January 2016, Z-Man Games will release Archaeology: The New Expedition, a new version of Phil Walker-Harding's Archaeology: The Card Game that includes tent cards to protect players from sandstorms, adds new treasure types and additional cards to allow for five players, adjusts some treasure values, and includes six monuments instead of one to have more variety when exploring.

• As noted in a comment on a recent BGG News post, Pearl Games has announced that it expects to reprint Troyes in 2016 in addition to releasing a first expansion for Deus. Pearl's Sébastien Dujardin says that if the Troyes reprint is well-received, then a reprint of The Ladies of Troyes expansion will follow. Dujardin adds that Pearl Games is working on "several 'large' releases" for 2017.

Mantic Games has announced a license with Skybound Entertainment for the creation of miniatures games based on The Walking Dead, with The Walking Dead Miniatures Game coming out in Q4 2016 and expansion sets featuring characters such as Shane, Michonne and Glenn to follow. Here's an overview of what to expect:

Quote:
The Walking Dead Miniatures Game is a tactical, two-player game set in the walker-strewn Atlanta cityscape, with each player controlling a small band of human survivors vying to achieve dominance. The game can also be played solo through a custom AI system that ensures walker behavior is menacingly authentic.

The Walking Dead Miniatures Game features Rick, Carl and other heroes and villains featured in the original Walking Dead comic book, plus a host of walkers, a selection of scenarios and everything else needed to play.


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Wed Jan 6, 2016 4:00 pm
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Game Overview: Hot Tin Roof, or While The Cat's Away, The Other Cat Is Lonely and Desperate

W. Eric Martin
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In October 2015, I posted about a Seth Jaffee article about designing responsibly, that is, about designing a game so that poor choices on the part of a player won't ruin that player's enjoyment of a game (and presumably the enjoyment of all other players, too).

I disagreed with the idea of this being a goal that game designers should shoot for and mentioned Leo Colovini's Hot Tin Roof from Mayfair Games as one such example of a game that allows you to nail your foot in the ground so that you move only in circles. Said past Eric: "I still need to record a video about Hot Tin Roof, so perhaps I can dig into the topic more at that time." Well, that guy has finally done the job he promised months ago, but he forgot to mention in that video several odd details about the game:

• He forgot to cover the way that the cat colors (black, white, gray, orange) don't match the token colors (brown, purple, blue, orange), leading to some confusing moments during the game when you're not sure who owns which catwalks and shelters.

• He forgot to point out that the nicely detailed game board highlights the precise spot on the ground where the pipe over which the cats will walk is missing, thereby obscuring the important detail that the pipe is missing and this gap needs to be closed by the placement of a catwalk.

• He forgot to finger the oddness of using a can of sardines as one unit of food/currency and a fish for ten units of food/currency, despite the can of sardines having fish inside of it, which suggests that the can should be more valuable.

• He failed to note that the name "Hot Tin Roof" probably doesn't resonate with anyone under a certain age, making it a curious choice for this design, but in retrospect he acknowledges that choice as superior to "Hot Bakestone".

He's still learning how to do this. Give him another year, and he might finally remember to say all the stuff that he intended to say.

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Tue Jan 5, 2016 4:00 am
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New Game Round-up: Wallace Polishes Brass, Schlegel Heads West of Africa, and McKinley Ross Gets Blockier

W. Eric Martin
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• In December 2015, Eagle-Gryphon Games cut ties with Martin Wallace's Brass. In early January 2016, Gavan Brown of Roxley Games announced that Wallace had signed with Roxley for a new version of Brass that includes the original game board, a two-player map, and a new map (with that map possibly providing the two-player experience). To quote Roxley: "[W]e are currently assisting Martin Wallace with the development of a new map. This map is themed around the area of Birmingham. While nothing about this new map is finalized, so far it features two new industries, including breweries. It also features a few new mechanisms and rules. So far, it feels like Brass, but it feels very fresh, and provides a feeling different enough from the original to absolutely justify its existence." At this time Brown anticipates running a Kickstarter campaign for Brass in mid-2016, but he notes that the new map is still under development, so plans could change.

• In related news, since EGG is no longer involved with Brass, I reached out to Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games to see whether Age of Reason might be joining its release schedule once again. (In a June 22, 2015 note on the Treefrog Games website, Wallace stated that Stronghold had cancelled Age of Reason due to EGG's claims on Brass and related designs; Wallace later removed this remark from the website, but it remains part of a post on Facebook.) Buonocore responded with a "how's your weather"-type of non-response, so we'll have to wait until later to know for sure.

• Developer Uli Blennemann has dropped news of a title he's working on for ADC Blackfire Entertainment: West of Africa from designer Martin Schlegel. BGG will record a game overview at Spielwarenmesse in late January 2016, so for now you'll have to make do with this description:

Quote:
In the late Middle Ages, the Canary Islands had faded into obscurity from a European point of view. There was neither gold nor silver, and the islands did not play a role as a trading post because the north-south trade of that time went through the Sahara.

In 1312, the Genoese merchant and seafarer Lancelotto Malocello effectively "rediscovered" the Canary Islands. During the 15th century, the archipelago was conquered by the Spanish. Spanish masters pushed agriculture, cultivating sugar cane, wine and grain, which quickly gave the islands a certain economic value and importance.

In West of Africa, the players cultivate goods, try to sell them profitably, and build settlements. Each player has their own deck of cards. Each turn the players select cards from their decks to conduct successful actions, always keeping the actions of the other players in mind.

• With 2016 upon us, I've started putting together a convention preview for the toy fairs that take place in Nürnberg and New York City in January and February 2016. The Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview lists only 34 titles as of the publication of this post, and many of the listings are brief. We know that Schmidt Spiele will release Qwirkle Erweiterung 2 from Susan McKinley Ross, for example, but beyond the "six small expansions in a single box" summary, we don't have much to go on yet.

That said, throughout January 2016 the list will grow, images will be added, and descriptions puffed with details of what one actually does in the games in question. As noted above, BGG will be at Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg to record game overviews, so watch for those videos in February 2016.
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Mon Jan 4, 2016 5:09 pm
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Game Overview: All Queens Chess, or I Can't Believe It's Not Chess

W. Eric Martin
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I don't know about you, but I tend to groan when I see "chess" in the name of a new game release. From past talks with chess fans, I know that they rarely want to play anything other than chess — especially chess-byproducts such as designs on a 10x10 board with new pieces or the introduction of special power cards that "shake up" traditional chess play — and from my perspective as a barely competent visitor to the world of chess, I find such designs uninspiring.

Thankfully All Queens Chess from Rudell Design and ThinkFun is chess in name only, something to get grandma to pick it up off the shelf on its way to the birthday table. Yes, your pieces move like queens, but your goal is simply to place four of them in a row — and with the board being only 25 squares, the elbowing for space starts immediately.

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Sun Jan 3, 2016 10:30 pm
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Game Overview: 10 Down, or Getting Racked Over Tea

W. Eric Martin
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Designer Odd Hackwelder seems to have a pattern for how he names games: 8 the Liar, M80, and Monster Deck 55. Okay, not all of his games fit this pattern — e.g., Ninja Bowling and counterfeit — but his designs do include a lot of "cards with numbers", with 10 Down from CSE Games being the latest such release.

This review copy arrived at my doorstep at just the right time as several of my holiday visitors comprised the perfect audience for this sequence-creating card game that felt just right on a café table surrounded by drinks and snacks...

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Sat Jan 2, 2016 1:00 pm
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