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BoardGameGeek News

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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Preview of the 2016 Previews: Origins, Gen Con, Dice Con and Spiel

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With May more than halfway over, here's a look ahead at the summer and autumn convention schedule to let you know when to expect convention previews that highlight the new games that will be shown, sold or demoed at each of these shows. In chronological order:

BGG.CON Spring, May 27-30, 2016: Surprise! I'm not posting a preview for this con, partly because I don't know what to expect (having missed the first such convention in 2015) and partly because I'm planning to hang out and actually play games instead of doing news stuff, although inevitably I'll still spend some time talking with publishers about upcoming titles. After all, we have just over a month before...

Origins Game Fair, June 15-19, 2016: I've already contacted several dozen game publishers about this convention to both assemble an Origins 2016 Preview — which will go live Monday, May 30 — and schedule livestream game demos. Yes, BGG will be at Origins for all five days of Origins, and the current plan is to livestream from 10:00 to 16:00 each day. This will be an interesting experiment since at Gen Con and Spiel we have no time to spare and typically rush through a new game on camera every few minutes. Given the smaller number of new releases at Origins, I expect we'll include more prototypes than usual and have time to engage in designer and publisher chit-chat. Different!

Gen Con, August 4-7, 2016: As we've done the past couple of years, BGG will livestream game demonstrations from Indianapolis over the four days of Gen Con, and the Gen Con 2016 Preview goes live Monday, June 20 — the day after Origins ends. I just hope that the Gen Con organizers turn on the air conditioning on Wednesday. Set-up was brutal in 2015!

Dice Con, August 27-28, 2016: Most of you have probably not heard of Dice Con, but this event launched in Beijing in 2015 to bring media attention to board and card game publishers in China, while also welcoming other publishers to China and encouraging designers to present new works to publishers for licensing. I met with the Dice Con organizers in Beijing in May 2016, and since I'm largely unaware of the Chinese game market and want to learn more, I offered to pull together a Dice Con 2016 Preview to both educate myself and encourage Chinese producers to put their information on BGG. I plan to publish this convention preview on Monday, July 25, 2016.

Spiel, October 13-16, 2016: BGG will livestream game demos from Essen, Germany once again, and the monstrous Spiel 2016 Preview — which I started before Spiel 2015 opened — goes live Monday, August 8, the day after Gen Con ends. That preview boasted nearly eight hundred titles in 2015, and I'm sure that it'll surpass that total in 2016 given the ever-increasing number of publishers who show up at Spiel from around the world.

•••

If you're a designer or publisher who plans to present new games at one or more of these shows, feel free to email me the information now to ensure that you're included in the convention previews later. My email address is in the BGG News header at the top of this page, and you can learn how to submit game listings to the BGG database here. Please send a separate email for each convention and include the name of the con — e.g., "New titles for Gen Con 2016" — in the header. I'll also poke publishers with info requests, but feel free to act now! Avoid the rush!
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Wed May 18, 2016 1:00 pm
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New nestorgames Round-up: Melting Chess, Ouroboros, Iqishiqi, Ni-Ju, and Fano330-R-Morris

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• I haven't covered titles from Spanish publisher nestorgames in a while, yet owner Néstor Romeral Andrés keeps kicking out one interesting title after another, so let's check out a bunch of them at once, starting with Markus Hagenauer's Melting Chess. As I noted in a Jan. 2016 overview of All Queens Chess, "chess" in the title of a game sometimes makes gamers groan, either because they view chess as old and lame or because they view chess as the greatest game ever and not something that should be messed with or "improved".

That said, some designers have re-used elements of chess to create something familiar yet new, and Melting Chess seems like a good example of this. After creating an 8x6 game board of 48 tiles that show a dozen knights, bishops, rooks, and kings, the two players take turns moving their tokens on the board. To move, a player chooses a face-up tile orthogonally adjacent to their token, moves their token in the style of the chess piece depicted on that tile to another face-up tile, then flips face down the tile that their token previously occupied. If you can't move on your turn, you lose.



• A similar winning (i.e. losing) condition is at works in Fano330-R-Morris from Masahiro Nakajima, curator of The Museum of Abstract Strategy Games in Japan. The game board shows a geometric plane of seven points and seven lines, with each line having three points on it. Players (black vs. white) first take turns placing their pieces (two triangles and two circles each) on the board, with at most two non-identical pieces on a point, then take take turns moving one of their pieces from the top of a stack to an adjacent space. If you can't move or if you create a line of three pieces of identical shape or color, you lose.

Losing situation for black, which can't move without creating a line


• The gist of Ira Fay's Ouroboros is that you want to stuff the opponent with as many colored discs as possible — but to do so, you must risk giving them opportunities to rid themselves of discs.

In more detail, you fill the board with discs in four colors, then on a turn you (1) place a black stone, collect the colored disc you covered, then give the opponent all discs either diagonally or orthogonally adjacent to the stone; (2) remove a pair of stones from the board by discarding the appropriate set of discs: four-of-a-kind, full house, etc.; or (3) discard a disc from your collection. Whoever has no discs in front of them after the first turn wins.



• You can think "football" (a.k.a. soccer) when hearing how to win Iqishiqi from João Pedro Neto and Bill Taylor — get the ball to one of your goal lines — but since you're airdropping highly precise kickers from the sky and can also win by stymieing the opponent, the comparison isn't that apt.

The ball starts at the center of a hexagonal field, and on a turn you place one stone somewhere on the playing field, either alone or as part of a group. At least one stone in the group must be in line with the ball, and the ball then moves along that line away from the group a number of spaces equal to the number of stones in the group. If you move the ball off the field or the ball can't move that many spaces, you lose; if you land the ball precisely on one of your goal lines, you win. This movement is hard to picture at first, and the number of options available to you during a game seems immense.



• Finally, we have Ni-Ju from Romeral Andrés himself. In this tile-placement game, the tiles count as both winning conditions and the things that will satisfy those conditions.

Each player has twenty tiles, with each tile showing four squares on it. Players take turns placing tiles onto the playing area, with each placed tile being adjacent to at least one other tile. If one of your tiles is ever surrounded by tiles of your color in a pattern that matches that central tile, then you win (as with the white player in the image below). If both players have placed all of their tiles with no one winning, then you take turns moving a tile with at least one free edge to a new location.

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Mon May 16, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Overview: Brix, or Complementary Colors Fight for Dominance

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I posted an overview video of Brix from Charles Chevallier, Thierry Denoual, and Blue Orange Games in late March 2016, then I headed off on vacation without posting it in this space.

Now that I am on vacation once again, I can rectify that error, instructing one and all on the minor challenge of creating a row of four blocks in your color or symbol without helping your opponent too much in the process. Why would you help your opponent? Because you're participating in a competitive three-legged race, with you and your opponent sharing space on the same bricks and therefore always placing both colors in the wall each time you build.

This concept isn't unique as Néstor Romeral Andrés published the similar, but more free-form TAIJI through Blue Panther in 2007, but I'd like to see more of it, if possible. Silly party games like Happy Salmon and Hands have something along these lines in that you score only when you help an opponent score at the same time (while still having only a single winner), but if you can suggest other competitive games with a three-legged element, I'm curious to hear about them!

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Sat May 14, 2016 1:00 pm
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"Full Distributor Support" for Privateer Press' "Free Rider Policy"

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At the end of March 2016, Privateer Press announced a new sales policy aimed at eliminating "free riders", the company's term for deep discount online retailers. From an ICv2 article on the announcement:

Quote:
"Over the last eleven years...online retailers with nearly no overhead and very little meaningful contact with our audience have been undermining the stability of the market by selling product at discounts well below retail value, depending solely on the efforts of our brick and mortar partners who offer services that nurture our audience and grow the market to move their product," [Privateer Press President Sherry Yeary] wrote. "This model of business is widely recognized by experts and the justice system as 'free riding.' While this can be a viable business model for many mainstream products, it is common knowledge that in our industry it's crippling and anticompetitive."

Privateer plans to create a list of retailers that it views as "free riders," which it defines as "retailers...offering Privateer Press products at an unsustainable deep discount and offer[ing] very little or nothing in the way of services" and will impose sanctions on distributors that sell to those retailers. The list will be updated by adding or deleting retailers as needed. Distributors that sell to retailers on Privateer's "free rider" list will have their shipments of Privateer product, including new releases, delayed. The new policy goes into effect on April 4 [2016].

"We do not condone the free riders' parasitic business model and elect to both continue and enhance our partnerships with those distributors that share our point of view and actively work in the best interests of the brick-and-mortar retailers," Yeary continued. "While we cannot and would not dictate to our distributor partners who they can or cannot sell to, we believe free riders are eroding the foundation of our industry and hurting our business; only with the cooperation of our distribution partners can we prevent that."

Now Privateer Press has followed up that announcement to champion "full distributor support" for this sales policy change. Here's the text of its May 11, 2016 press release:

Quote:
Privateer Press Announces Full Distributor Support for Free Rider Policy

Privateer Press is pleased to announce that all of its North American distribution partners have signed Privateer's new distribution contract and agreed to support the company's new free rider policy, which seeks to discourage high-volume online retailers that do not offer meaningful services from undermining the growth and sustainability of the industry.

Privateer's free rider policy discourages the sale of products to a category of online retailers recognized as harmful to the industry. Thanks to the universal support of Privateer's North American distribution partners, the policy will help ensure that honest, hard-working retailers — including online retailers that are not in violation of the policy — will be able to compete fairly and without the predations of crippling and anticompetitive practices. In doing so, the policy also safeguards the brick-and-mortar retailers' role in providing players with access to the worldwide community of players who enjoy the friendly competition, hobby experiences, and casual and competitive organized play for which Privateer Press is a recognized industry leader.

Privateer's North American Distributors consist of ACD, Aladdin, Alliance, E-Figures, Gamus (GTS), Golden, Lion Rampant, Peachstate Hobby (PHD), Southern Hobby, and Universal.

"We greatly appreciate the support and commitment to the health of brick-and-mortar retailers shown by our North American distribution partners," said Sherry Yeary, president of Privateer Press. "Change won't happen overnight, and eliminating free rider practices will be an ongoing issue that will take time and a united effort between publishers and distributors to overcome, but we have already seen the positive effect of instituting this policy, and we remain committed to its success, no matter what it takes."

Since Privateer announced its new free rider policy, over 200 brick-and-mortar stores who do not currently stock WARMACHINE and HORDES have committed to carrying the new editions of the games because of the policy. All launch kits for the new editions of WARMACHINE and HORDES are sold out at the manufacturer level through presales to distributors.

This sales policy change works along the same lines as that of Asmodee North America — something I've described in detail on BGG News: Reduce the ability of online sellers to move product at prices nearly equal to the distributors' costs so that brick-and-mortar stores will more readily champion and promote that publisher's games. Why? Because these publishers believe that over the long term they will benefit more from the promotion of their games to new audiences through B&M outlets than through immediate sales to existing buyers through online outlets.
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Thu May 12, 2016 4:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Revisiting the Renaissance, and Assassinating Hitler (But Not in the Same Game)

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Sierra Madre Games has already placed an October 2016 release date on Bios: Genesis, as noted on BGG News in April 2016, and now SMG has two other titles due out in time for Spiel 2016 in October, with Phil and Matt Eklund's Pax Renaissance being a new version of 1996's Lords of the Renaissance. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
As a Renaissance banker, you will finance kings or republics, sponsor voyages of discovery, join secret cabals, or unleash jihads and inquisitions. Your choices determine whether Europe is elevated into the bright modern era or remains festering in dark feudalism.

In Pax Renaissance, you have two actions each turn. As in other Pax games, you can acquire cards in a market, sell them out of the game, or play them into your tableau. You can also stimulate the economy by running trade fairs and trading voyages for Oriental goods. A map of Europe with trade routes from Portugal to Crimea is included, and discovering new trade routes can radically alter the importance and wealth of empires, ten of which are in the game.

Four victories determine the future course of Western Society: Will it be towards imperialism, trade globalization, religious totalitarianism, or enlightened art and science?

Pax Pamir: Khyber Knives from Cole Wehrle boosts the variety of gameplay of 2015's Pax Pamir through the addition of six Wazir cards and 54 new games cards. To quote the publisher's description:

Quote:
Now players can attempt to use their political acumen to secure game-changing capabilities. Imprison your opponent's spies in your dungeon or rely on piracy in the Punjab to fund your ambitions. Battle for influence over the six regional governments or attempt to do your own dynasty building. Players have never had this many routes to dominance. The fight for a new Afghan future has just begun.

• For an adventurous topic being tackled in game terms, I present Philip duBarry's Black Orchestra, for which publisher Game Salute will be running a straight-up pre-order campaign instead of a Kickstarter. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay, with much more detail on the BGG game page itself:

Quote:
As Hitler's grasp on Germany tightens and his maniacal fervor is unmasked, men from the highest levels of the Reich begin to plot his assassination. As the clock ticks and Hitler's ambitions grow, these daring few must build their strength and prepare for the perfect moment to strike. The Gestapo hound their trail, calling these conspirators "Schwarze Kapelle", the Black Orchestra. Will this band of daring patriots save their country from utter ruin before it is too late?

Black Orchestra begins with each player choosing an historic figure involved in the conspiracy against Hitler. In this dark and dangerous pursuit, motivation is perhaps your greatest weapon. If you can stay true to your convictions in the face of overwhelming threat and inspire your comrades, then you will be able to use your special ability, attempt plots, and even become zealous (necessary for some extremely daring plots).

But every move you make may also increase the suspicion of the authorities. The Gestapo will make routine sweeps, and any players with high suspicion will be arrested and interrogated (possibly resulting in other players being arrested). If you are all arrested or if the Gestapo finds your secret papers, you lose. And the suspicion placed on each conspirator will increase the chances their plots are detected.

• Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games has signed on as the U.S. publisher of Tobias Gohrbandt and Heiko Günther's Peak Oil, with development of the game continuing ahead of a planned Kickstarter funding campaign in October 2016.

• Developer Ralph Bruhn has posted a draft cover of Stefan Feld's The Oracle of Delphi, which is currently expected out from Hall Games and Pegasus Spiele at Spiel 2016 in October, according to Bruhn.

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Thu May 12, 2016 1:00 pm
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Stronghold Games Offers a New Kraftwagen Model, Deploys The Fog of War

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Stronghold Games has now provided more details on two titles previously teased in April 2016.

Matthias Cramer's Kraftwagen: V6 Edition is an updated version of his 2015 release Kraftwagen from ADC Blackfire Entertainment that now includes a new set of tiles that feature the next technology available at
the time, the V6 engine. Kraftwagen: V6 Edition, dubbed title #3 in Stronghold's "Great Designer Series" is due out in August 2016 and carries a $60 MSRP.

August will also see the release of The Dragon & Flagon from Brian, Geoff, and Sydney Engelstein, with that game also having a $60 MSRP. I presented an overview of that title in a March 2016 BGG News post.

Geoff Engelstein stands on his own for The Fog of War, due out from Stronghold in September 2016. Here's an overview of that title:

Quote:
The Fog of War is a two-player grand strategic game covering the European theater of World War II from 1940-1945. One player plays the Axis forces, and the other the Allies.

The game doesn't have units that move around a map; instead the game focuses on the planning and intelligence aspects of the war. Each player has a deck of cards that represent the army, navy, and other assets of their nations. A map shows the 28 land and sea provinces over which the players are battling.

You defend a province by placing cards face down on the map. If you wish to attack a province, you must plan an "Operation" to do so by creating one on your Operation Wheel. The Wheel is a unique way of forcing players to commit to operations in advance, while giving opportunities for intelligence gathering and bluffing.

An operation consists of a Province card that shows the target of the operation, plus one or more cards to conduct the attack. All of these cards are placed face down, so your opponent does not know the target of the operation, or the actual strength of the cards that are taking part.

Each turn the dial on the Operation Wheel is rotated by one position. This controls when an operation can be launched and any attack or defense bonuses that apply.

In addition to combat forces for attack or defense, you may also play Intel cards, allowing you to look at your opponent's operations and defenses.

The Fog of War is title #4 in the "Great Designer Series", with the previously announced JÓRVÍK from Stefan Feld, which is due out October 2016, being title #5.

Non-final cover
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Tue May 10, 2016 2:00 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Post-Apocalyptic Fundraising for Fun and Profit

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Editor's note: Due to my travel plans, I'm writing this crowdfunding round-up far in advance of its May 8, 2016 publication date. Thus, some of the projects mentioned below might have been cancelled in the interim. If so, c'est la vie. —WEM

• Post-apocalyptic board games are all the rage, and the latest in that genre (for the next few hours at least) is Antler Games' Saltlands from designers András Drozdy, Gombos Gergely, and Gergely Kruppa. In the game, players use land sails with wheels to skim across the salt flats, trying to outrun — or kill — the Horde chasing them on gas-guzzling machines. (KS link)

(As a side note on the connectivity that can result from a Kickstarter campaign, Drozdy sent me the following note: "I was amazed when just two hours after launch, the first translator contacted us, then even more. It's great to see that these enthusiastic people offered their help to make Saltlands available in their mother tongue." Thus, in addition to having English rules in the box and German and Hungarian rules available for download, rules will also be available in Italian, French, Finnish, Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese.)

Bloodstone Frontier sounds like an equally dire place to visit, but the setting is "pioneer-punk" rather than post-apocalyptic, with players of this tabletop skirmish design from Julian Glover and Soulspryte Studios fighting over the stashes that they need to survive. (KS link)

• As every artist (writer, musician, etc.) knows, creating art isn't enough; you need to sell it as well, or else you won't have the funds to keep doing what you want to do. (Alternatively, find a sponsor, but that's a different game.) Mike Wokasch's Starving Artists from Fairway 3 Games challenges you to get the paint cubes you need to finish classic works of art, but if you bring that art to the market at the wrong time, you might find the supplies gone before you can refill your palette. (KS link)

• Speaking of writers, Mayday Games' Twist of Fate from Keith Rentz transforms Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist into a micro card game, with players using double-sided cards to attack opponents' luck or shillings while boosting their own in the search for long-term sanctuary. (KS link)

• Beau Langston's self-published Loot Quest pretty much lays out what it's offering in the title and with the cover artwork: fantasy characters go on quests to acquire loot. (KS link)

• Less straightforward fantasy is present in Legends of the Mist from Chris Peach and Kid Loves Tiger Games, which is not about the most awesome shower in all of creation, but an otherworldly mist that transports clans to a new land, after which they proceed to beat one another up via plot tiles and dice rolls to complete objectives for the Emperor (or Empress — the description swaps genders at one point). (KS link)

• Another far-out world comes from John Clowdus of Small Box Games with a pair of games — GearSeed and SYNOD — set in a world in which "seasons shift sporadically and the strange folk that call this world home do their best to adapt to its ever changing landscape". If anyone exhibits the doujin spirit of Tokyo Game Market, it's Clowdus, who keeps turning out small card games one after another. (KS link)

• Perhaps I'm underestimating the appeal of gnarly goat gums among gamers, but the cover of Clash of the Battle Goats isn't one I'd be highlighting on my shelves. This "tactical card game of brutal goat combat" can be integrated with Gruff, a 2015 release also from Brent Critchfield and Studio Woe, to create exactly the right combination of mutated monster goats. (KS link)

• "Avoid the void" seems like sensible advice no matter what that void might be: a crevice in the roadway, a sinkhole in Florida, or the gaping maw of a battle goat. Avoid the Void from Tim Mierzejewski and Geek Fever Games offers a more traditional take on a void, with 3-7 players trying to avoid being sucked into black holes longer than anyone else. (KS link)

• Another space-based trope is present in Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy from James J. Campbell and the improbably named I Will Never Grow Up Gaming, with the player pirates working together to reach the bridge of a federal starship before getting busted by those selfsame feds. (Publisher's website)

• Another co-op coming down the production chute in 2016 is Virus from Michele Quondam and his publishing house Giochix.it, with players infiltrating a secret military lab in order to discover the antidote for Virus Q, which is transforming people and animals into hideous monsters who are naturally inside the lab trying to thwart your efforts. Virus can also be played semi-cooperatively and competitively in case you fight for dibs over who saved humanity while rocking the government-issued skintight leather uniform. (Giochistarter link)

• And the co-ops continue in Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game from Rocket Lee, Tim Simons, and Out of Order Games, with each player controlling a faction of revolutionaries who are trying to take down the authorities and occupy state districts before the military arrives and time runs out. To win, though, each faction needs to not only oust the state, but complete its secret agenda as well. (KS link)

• You have another chance to topple the state in Coup. This Rikki Tahta design was first self-published in 2012, then picked up Indie Boards & Cards and brought to a far wider audience, with versions having been released in Germany, Russia, Spain, and many other countries, including Brazil in a stylish version with art by Weberson Santiago. Now IBC has licensed the art from that Brazilian version for the release of Coup Deluxe Edition: Brazil Art, which will include the Coup base game and some of the elements from Coup: Reformation. Yet another composite item to further entangle our database listings... (KS link)

• If overturning the government isn't your thing, you can try to run it instead in Jim McCollum's Ameritocracy, a 2-3 player design with dual-use cards that can be played either one way as teams or actions or the other way as staff members who join teams (to activate those abilities) or claim headlines. (KS link)

• If nothing else catches your eye in this post, I hope you'll at least be inspired by what was also the inspiration for Xavier Faure's Guédelon: Le Jeu from ASYNCRON games. Since 1997, Michel Guyot — who is owner of Saint-Fargeau Castle in Saint-Fargeau, France — has been leading a construction project in nearby Treigny to build a castle using only techniques and materials available during the Middle Ages. The project has an estimated completion date of 2020 and attracts more than 300,000 visitors annually.

Guédelon: Le Jeu is an attempt to gamify this long-term building project, with 2-4 players working cooperatively (yes, another one!) to build a castle before unforeseen events and an ever-increasing number of visitors hamstring your efforts to complete the project in time. (KS link)

Guédelon in progress in August 2015; image from Wikipedia

Oversized prototype

Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun May 8, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Preview: Animals on Board, or Every Living Thing of All Flesh, You Shall Bring One or At Minimum Three of Every Kind into the Ark

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Ralf zur Linde and Wolfgang Sentker's Animals on Board is built on a cheeky premise: You and others are populating an ark with animals during the time of Noah, but due to Noah's previously agreed contracts, you are prohibited from having pairs of animals once it comes time to launch.

The game doesn't need this premise to exist as the design works well on its own, but the concept gives you a package, a framework in which to think about the game. And as eggertspiele did with Camel Up and its unnecessarily awesome pyramid, the publisher has used simple cardboard to provide players with well-designed bits, specifically four cardboard arks that players use to hold their animal tiles during the game. When you first open the box, you see a few punchboards floating in air and think, "That's it?!" Then you punch out and assemble everything, and suddenly you barely have room in the box to fit it all!

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Fri May 6, 2016 1:00 pm
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Links: Wizards of the Coast Gets Sued, Refugees Get Games, and Carcassonne Gets Tabled

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• Four judges of Magic: The Gathering tournaments have sued Magic publisher Wizards of the Coast in United States District Court as they claim that they have been employed as judges by WotC but not fairly compensated for their work. From the lawsuit (PDF):

Quote:
Plaintiffs and the putative class hereby seek compensation for unpaid minimum and overtime wages, missed meal and rest breaks, failure to timely pay wages, failure to furnish timely and accurate wage statements, failure to maintain accurate payroll records, unreimbursed business expenses, for interest and penalties thereon, and for reasonable attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938...

Wizards of the Coast has responded by stating that "These lawsuits are meritless." More fully:

Quote:
With the exception of the Pro Tour, the World Magic Cup, and the Magic World Championship, Magic events are run by tournament organizers and local game stores who directly engage judges. But these lawsuits claim that Wizards runs all events and that the people judging those events are Wizards employees. Anyone who has played at their local store knows this simply is not true.

Magic: The Gathering is fortunate to have the greatest community in gaming. Fans choose to become judges out of a sincere love of the game and as a way to enjoy their favorite hobby. They ensure events are fair and fun, and we appreciate everything they do.

On the "Legal Solutions" blog run by Thomson Reuters, Jeremy Byellin writes that "It's difficult to envision a scenario wherein a federal judge...somehow determines that these judges aren't employees of Wizards of the Coast" given a 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. (BFI) ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Writes Byellin:

Quote:
Wizards undoubtedly controls the terms and conditions of the employment of these judges – even through the intermediaries of local tournament organizers – such that it would be considered an employer of Magic judges under BFI. Trying to redirect employment responsibilities onto local gaming stores simply won't work in court...

The problem for Wizards is that there is no way that judges would ever be legally considered "volunteers." There is a lot of regulatory guidance on this matter. Volunteers are those "who perform[] hours of service for a public agency for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered." Neither Wizards nor its local tournament organizers are public or non-profit organizations. And judges usually expect some kind of compensation for judging at events (although it's usually in the form of Magic products).

Kniziathons have been a thing for a while now, including a big one in 2015 for Reiner Knizia's 30th anniversary as a published game designer, and now Ward Batty has decided to do something similar for designer Wolfgang Kramer, with the first Kramerthon! taking place at Batty's Game-o-Rama event in Atlanta, Georgia on May 26-30, 2016. Lots of Kramer designs will be on hand for attendees, and prizes await both the person who plays the most different Kramer titles and the person who wins the most different games.

• Voting is open for the 2016 Deutscher Spiele Preis and all gamers are welcome to submit their votes here. You can vote for five games in the adult game category (with your #1 game receiving 5 points, your #2 game 4 points, etc.) and one game in the children's category. Whichever game receives the most points wins, with the winner being announced during Spiel 2016 in October. Voters can receive prizes based on being correct or through random draw.

• Germany has accepted more than a million refugees from Syria since 2014, and while the political fallout from this immigration is still ongoing (and beyond the scope of this blog), I can mention two game-related developments. First, designer/publisher Steffen Mühlhäuser of Steffen-Spiele has successfully crowdfunded a games project titled FIVE! (or Give Me FIVE!) to the tune of €38,000, with this being a collection of five games that can be played with the two sets of included tokens, with rules in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Tigrinya (in addition to German and English). The crowdfunded games will be given away to refugees and refugee centers — not sent to backers — and the sale of a copy through the Steffen-Spiele website funds the giving of another copy.

• For its part, AMIGO Spiel says that in response to a growing number of requests, it has created rulesheets in Arabic for a number of its games — such as Halli Galli, Klack!, and Ring L Ding.

• In late April 2015, German publisher Hans im Glück celebrated a world record game of Carcassonne in which three gamers from Sweden laid out 10,007 tiles in 25 hours. Here's a shot of the full layout, followed by a pan-and-scan video for those who prefer the eroticism of a slow reveal:


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Thieves Join Five Tribes, and SeaFall Prepares to Set Sail

W. Eric Martin
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Bruno Cathala's Five Tribes debuted at Gen Con 2014, then The Artisans of Naqala expansion joined the game at Gen Con 2015.

For Gen Con 2016, publisher Days of Wonder will debut a mini-expansion for the game — Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala — with Europe seeing the release of this $6/€5 item in June 2016. Here's an overview of how these thieves get involved in the game:

Quote:
Naqala is now a prosperous place. Gaining the favors of the different tribes was not easy, and your rivals have not been discouraged by your success. In fact, some tribes have now abandoned your cause and rallied to your rivals instead, and you'll soon discover that these tribes follow influential leaders that your rivals hired against you. Every man has his price, though, so perhaps you can return the favor to your rivals — should you have what it takes to recruit the thieves of Naqala.

Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala is a mini-expansion of six thief cards and one new djinn that introduces a new element the base game to create a real thorn in your opponents' side. The djinn is shuffled into the deck with the other djinns and protects you from the effects of thieves. One thief card is revealed at random at the start of the game, and whenever someone would buy a djinn, they can purchase the thief card for the same price as the djinn. Each thief is associated with one of the tribes, and whenever you take an action with that tribe, you can choose to activate and discard the thief. If you do, everyone else must get rid of something — two resource cards, one tile they control, even a djinn or palace — after which you get to choose to keep something from all the discarded things.

For Gen Con 2017, the Five Tribes expansion will consist of a single word that Cathala whispers in your ear. No spoilers!

Three-sevenths of the components


Plaid Hat Games has opened preorders for the long-awaited SeaFall from designer Rob Daviau, with the game to be released in 2-5 months as it's "currently being assembled by our manufacturer".

PHG notes that some copies of SeaFall will be available at Gen Con 2016 in August, most likely ahead of the preorders being shipped, but those copies cannot be preordered and they won't include a package of metal coins that will be included with preorders and otherwise sold separately.

Sample captain and leader cards


Sample treasure and damage cards


Not nearly everything in the box
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