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Coverage of NY Toy Fair 2018

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NY Toy Fair 2018 opens on Saturday, February 17, which might be today for you depending on when you're reading these words — and if it is today, then I'm at the Javits Center taking pictures and notes about the new and upcoming games on display at the show and posting them on BoardGameGeek's Twitter feed.

That's all you'll get from me for the weekend as I had to leave my laptop at home to upload video files to Dropbox before Lincoln heads to Cannes, France to set up for our livestream from the Festival International des Jeux, with that coverage starting on Thursday, February 22, which is one day before that game fair opens. Lots going on, and little time in which to do it! (If any of you can convince Google to spread fiber across the RDU triangle faster, I'd appreciate it...)
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Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:05 pm
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AMIGO Heads to the U.S.; Gamewright Yells Zoinx at Trash Pandas

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• German publisher AMIGO Spiel has long had a presence on the U.S. gaming market, but only through games licensed by others. In 2018, though, AMIGO is finally opening a U.S. gaming division of its own: AMIGO Games, which is headquartered near Austin, Texas, and which was founded in December 2017 ahead of the closing of AMIGO's frequent U.S. publishing partner Mayfair Games, a closing detailed here.

AMIGO Games will launch in 2018 with twenty titles(!) in the U.S., all of which have been released previously in Europe and many of which have had prior release in the U.S., but senior product manager Ashley Ross tells me that the company is going for a different look with much of its line-up compared to what's released in Germany. The strategy games in the line-up — Tom Lehmann's Ciúb, Johannes Schmidauer-König's Portal of Heroes, and Fréderic Moyersoen's Saboteur, Saboteur 2, and Saboteur: The Duel, all of which are due out in Q2 2018 — will keep their familiar look because they're aimed at an audience that's already "in the know" about such games.

(Adds Ross, "we bought back all the product Mayfair had in stock. Until that sells out, the English version in stores will have the Mayfair logo. On our next production run, the boxes will have the Amigo logo as shown in the images.")




By contrast, AMIGO's family line-up of games — which includes Rudi Hoffmann's Café International, Wolfgang Kramer's Escape from the Hidden Castle (a.k.a. Midnight Party) and Heimlich & Co., Haim Shafir's Eye Sea (first released in 2016 as Brain Storm), Heinz Meister's Déjà Vu, Thomas Pauli's Double Down (a.k.a. Lobo 77), and Thorsten Gimmler's No Thanks!, all of which are scheduled for release in August 2018 — have a retro look that recalls the U.S. game industry of the 1960s.




Of particular interest to BGGers might be Take Five & Take A Number, which combines Wolfgang Kramer's 6 nimmt! and Kramer and Reinhard Staupe's X nimmt! in a single package. Why not since they have so much overlap in their components?

The rest of AMIGO's line-up is children's games, or perhaps a more descriptive term would be "games by Haim Shafir", since he's responsible for designing or co-designing most of them, including CLACK!, Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Connect the Thoughts (a.k.a. Huddelmuddel), and Fruit Punch, which is what AMIGO is now calling Halli Galli in the U.S. This latter box bears the tagline "Spot five and bop the banana!" because the box contains a squeaky banana instead of the traditional bell. Sacrilege!

Another title in the children's line is Bob Lindner's Engine, Engine No. 9, which debuted in 2010 in Germany as Voll in Fahrt.




• U.S. publisher Gamewright has released a list of the game it plans to release in 2018, but right now the description of each item is brief, which doesn't give much in the way of flavor, and the images are teensy as well. Matt Leacock's Forbidden Sky — already teased in this late January 2018 post — is the highlight of the bunch for gamers, but folks might also want to check out Zoinx!, a dice game in which you bet on what you think others will roll, with those players being able to press their luck at the risk of failing and rewarding your instead.

• Gamewright has also picked up Michael and Lisa Eskue's Trash Pandas for publication in Q3 2018, with this title having first appeared through the Eskues' own Red Rook Games with funding via Indiegogo. In the game, player raccoons dig through trash cans (via a die roll) to score food and shiny objects, but you need to balance your greed for more each round against the risk of crashing and coming away with empty paws.

• Another Gamewright title possibly of interest to gamers is Cahoots, a cooperative game due out Q2 2018 in which players need to play cards onto 1-4 piles by matching color or number to complete a series of goals without communicating what they hold in hand. Asks the publisher: "Can you make all piles purple or green? Every card lower than four? All cards add up to ten?" Answers the writer: I do not know. More details, please.

• Gamewright's Long Cow falls into the familiar family game genre that requires you to manipulate farm animals. In more detail:

Quote:
Build cows by collecting heads, tails, and middles from the deck. The longer the cow, the more points you score. Bolster your barn with holy cows, robot cows, and even a cross-bred Franken-cow — but make hay before your herd is hit by a tornado, or worse, an alien abduction! Round up the biggest bovines and party like the cows came home!
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Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:34 pm
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New Game Round-up: Martin Wallace and Osprey Head into the Wildlands, and Renegade Challenges You to Prowl Carefully

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• UK publisher Osprey Games released a swanky new version of Martin Wallace's London in late 2017, and now they're embarking on a new, larger project together — a miniatures-filled board game titled Wildlands that's due out in Q4 2018. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
The great evil has fallen, taking the capital with it. Where once there was a kingdom, there is now only the Wildlands. In this lawless fantasy world, gangs must battle it out for survival, treasure, or maybe even glory. Players control rival factions, each with a unique deck of cards dictating their abilities across the battlefield. Some focus on ranged prowess, some on raw strength, and others on the tactical synergy between characters, offering a wide range of playing styles to explore.

Wildlands contains everything you need to dive straight into the frenetic fantasy world of Wildlands. Each skirmish sees players attempt to outwit, outmaneuver, and overpower their opponents as they fight for riches and glory, scoring points by defeating enemy characters and collecting treasure. Familiarity with your favored faction will help, but adaptability is the key to victory, as a semi-randomized set-up and double-sided board means that no two battles will tell the same tale.

To quote from the press release:

Quote:
This is one of our most exciting projects to date, and the release of Wildlands is only the beginning. Ongoing support will see the fantasy world expanded through additional factions, maps, and mechanics, offering players new challenges to face and environments to explore.

"I've been designing games for a few years now and sometimes you wonder if you are just revisiting old designs and themes", said award-winning designer Martin Wallace. "Wildlands was an opportunity for me to do something off the beaten track: a fast-moving, tactical combat game with asymmetric special powers. I was very pleased when the design found a home with Osprey Games, who have done an amazing job of developing and refining the system, as well as applying an engaging thematic background. They did fantastic work with London, so I'm expecting this to be simply awesome when it finally hits the shelves."

• Game site nicegamehub reports in a Spielwarenmesse 2018 round-up that Queen Games will release a new edition of Shun's The King of Frontier from Studio GG. I've asked Queen for verification of this news, and the publisher said that it would have a press release about this in the near future.

• Renegade Game Studios has been lining up game releases left and right, with Aaron Vanderbeek's Castell bearing a Feb. 21, 2018 U.S. street date. In this game, players relive the Catalan tradition of building human towers over a year of festivals in different cities.

Shem Phillips' Explorers of the North Sea: Rocks of Ruin, co-published with Garphill Games and due out in April 2018, allows you to add a fifth player to the game, while also giving you new captains and building types, along with cargo to salvage.

J. Alex Kevern is no stranger on the Renegade roster, and his fourth title with he publisher is Prowler's Passage, a two-player game due out in May 2018. Here's an overview from the publisher:

Quote:
In the heart of the sleeping city lies incredible wealth. While the gates to the city are well guarded, no one is watching what's under their feet. The dead of night provides just enough cover for you to tunnel towards untold riches to plunder the city from within. Act quickly, as a rival thief has the same plan...

In Prowler's Passage, you and a competing thief burrow into the city through a network of underground passages to grab valuable items while attempting to gain control of key districts. Steal the best items, create the longest tunnels, and control districts to become the premier prowler!
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Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:05 pm
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New Game Round-up: Race for the Galaxy Expands, Memoir '44 Goes Higher, and Munchkin Gains Turtle Power

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• Designer Tom Lehmann has noted on BGG that Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Counter Strike — the second title in the Race for the Galaxy arc that began with Xeno Invasion in 2015 — has been green-lit by publisher Rio Grande Games, with this expansion having no anticipated release date at the moment since the design is not finished. To quote Lehmann:

Quote:
XI's sequel, XCS, has been green-lit and we've tested some of its many parts, but it has been bumped back by 5 other RGG projects -- not all of them Race-related -- two of which (Roll: Rivalry and [SECRET]) are mostly done. I *hope* to return to XCS late this year. When I write the XCS secret history and designer preview sometime in 2019? 2020?, I'll try and finish the XI secret history then.

Stronghold Games has announced an updated release date of July 2018 for the "Driver's Edition" of Vital Lacerda's 2014 release Kanban. This edition of the game, which Stronghold states will not be reprinted past 2018, includes forty wooden cars to dress up the game, along with a double-sided game board that is meant to help newcomers pick up the flow of the game more easily.

• Designer Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games will release The Networks: Telly Time, an expansion for The Networks that features UK-based shows, nine genres, and a new "noughts-and-crosses" way to get a genre bonus, will debut at the UK Games Expo in June 2018.

• Are you a Memoir '44 fan who's still hoping after all these years to get a copy of Memoir '44: Air Pack? Well, you can just keep hoping for now, but designer Richard Borg has noted in the Days of Wonder forums that something new related to air support is in the works for the game:

Quote:
...a new Air Sortie expansion is scheduled for sometime soon, well maybe not that soon, but it is on the near Horizon.

It will be and most certainly will be a seamlessly fit into all our Memoir '44 game scenarios. This is in fact is how I originally imagined it would always be. Air rules that were simple and yet they would be a very interesting and fun way to add another very cool feature into our Memoir '44 games.

IDW Games and Steve Jackson Games have joined forces and licensing power to bring about Munchkin: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a design by Jon Cohn that will debut in June 2018 in three editions, with two of those editions being funded via Kickstarter since they contain extra bits with which some folks won't concern themselves.

The only gameplay description released so far covers pretty much exactly what you might expect from Munchkin: TMNT: "Players take on the roles of the turtles and their friends to fight monsters and grab treasure."

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Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:00 pm
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Video Previews of Lookout Games' Patchwork Express, Caverna: Lost Peoples, Neom, Little Songbirds, and Isle of Skye's Second Expansion

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I posted a overview of titles coming from Lookout Games in 2018 shortly after the Spielwarenmesse 2018 fair ended, and now that we've started publishing the game overview videos on YouTube — twenty in the playlist so far! — I can show those titles to you in slightly more detail, although not too much as the games are still being developed, they have little to no art, and we stuck to the basics of gameplay.

• Let's start with Patchwork Express, a reimplementation of Uwe Rosenberg's Patchwork that is both easier and faster. Why would you need that, you might ask? Because Lookout wants to make the game accessible to far younger (and far older) players. The game board is only 7x7 instead of 9x9, and the pieces are larger and less complex, with some small pieces being added to play near the end of the game so that you can patch holes in your quilt and try to achieve perfection.





Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister's Isle of Skye will receive a second as-yet-unnamed expansion in 2018, with this focusing on the "dead ends" that players create during the game as they run roads into mountains, grasslands, or lakes. When you create a dead end, you can take or buy a special tile that gives you bonus points during the game at the end of each round or a special ability.

The components are rough in this overview, and as the developer mentions, this expansion is still being designed and developed right now, but this gives you a taste of what's coming.





Little Songbirds is a card game from Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle in which you need to play the right bird cards from hand in order to scare birds from the feeder, collect seed, avoid crows and squirrels, and land bird couples in your collection. Lots of stuff going on in a small card game!





Neom is a futuristic city-building game from Paul Sottosanti in which players draft commercial, residential, industrial, resource, and other tiles over three eras, assembling those tiles into a personal city. Each tile that you draft requires money or resources in order to play it, and you can possibly acquire resources from other players as long as you can afford to pay for them.

At the start of the game, players draft cornerstone tiles — valuable tiles that have specific building requirements that can affect everything else you do in the game.





• Finally, we have Caverna: Lost Peoples, which began life as a fan project on BGG and which Lookout is developing for a planned debut at SPIEL '18 in October. This expansion for Uwe Rosenberg's Caverna will consist of eight species packs, with each species having four unique buildings. Each species has unique advantages and disadvantages in play, with some introducing new resources, and by adding their buildings to the game — replacing some of the original buildings and thereby adding variety to the starting set-up — other players can gain the ability of these new species as well. Want to eat dogs as trolls do? Now you can!

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Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:00 pm
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Video Coverage of Spielwarenmesse 2018, Starting with Coimbra

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Lincoln Damerst and I shot many dozens of game overview videos at Spielwarenmesse 2018, the annual toy and game fair in Nürnberg, Germany, and now we've started publishing those videos on YouTube and on the individual game pages.

I don't plan to post every video on this blog, but I will post some of them when they're relevant to something else in the news, when I have more to say about a particular game, or when I expect that many folks are eager to learn more about a game, as is the case with Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli's Coimbra, which eggertspiele will debut at Gen Con 2018 in August.

To watch this video or anything else related to Spielwarenmesse 2018, head to the YouTube playlist for this convention and see what else has been posted.


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Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:01 pm
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New Game Round-up: NY Toy Fair 2018 — Licenses Galore, with Star Trek Fluxx, A Wrinkle in Time, and Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game

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• At NY Toy Fair 2018, which opens on Saturday, February 17, U.S. publisher Looney Labs will showcase several upcoming titles that demonstrate its continued ability to merge its existing titles with the works of others to spread awareness of their games.

First, Looney Labs has partnered with Gale Force Nine in order to create Star Trek Fluxx and Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx, both of which will be on display at NYTF ahead of their August 2, 2018 U.S. street date, which coincides with the opening day of Gen Con 2018.

Second, another pair of games coming from Looney Labs results from a partnership with folk artist Mary Engelbreit, whose work you would undoubtedly recognize, even if you don't know her name. Details on these games will be available at NY Toy Fair, but for now we know that the publisher will release some kind of Mary Engelbreit-related Fluxx as well as a version of Loonacy featuring her artwork. This deal isn't something that will rock the hobby industry, but given how well-known Engelbreit is across the United States, this is a brilliant way for Looney Labs to introduce itself to a new audience.

• I already wrote about a handful of 2018 releases from Cryptozoic Entertainment in late December 2017, and now the publisher has revealed even more upcoming releases that it will have on display at NY Toy Fair 2018, including two more titles based on a pair of Rick and Morty episodes.

Rick and Morty: The Rickshank Rickdemption Deck-Building Game, a sequel of sorts to 2017's Rick and Morty: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game, features a set of council cards that cause players to vote to enact new rules, dramatic one-time effects, and other mysterious situations. Access tokens give players votes and chances to devalue the Galactic Federation currency from 1 to 0.

Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game is based on the "Pickle Rick" episode, comes packaged in something that looks like a pickle, and bears this description:

Quote:
One player plays as Pickle Rick as he tries to escape a heavily armed compound, while the other player takes on the roles of both the Russians and Jaguar as they try to stop him. The Pickle Rick player uses weapons cards to dole out damage and Air Vents to get out of jams as they try to get to the rooftop. The game includes both Pickle Rick and Jaguar miniatures that are moved across a dynamic board made up of tiles that are constantly being added, rotated, and flipped.

Non-final Rebirth art
• Cryptozoic's DC Deck-Building Game will see two releases as well in 2018, with Rebirth introducing movement as element of the game design through eight "Mighty Meeples" wooden figures, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman. What's more:

Quote:
The game features both competitive and cooperative modes, offering two distinctive ways to play. In both modes, villains do not go into a player's deck when defeated, but instead grant a one-time reward. In competitive play, defeated villains give players victory points, then go under their superhero cards. They can even be used to bribe rivals for various favors.

DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 is another small expansion that can be used with any of the DCDBG base games. As for what it does, here's an overview:

Quote:
This expansion introduces the keyword "Unity" for ongoing cards that get better as more teammates have them in play. The pack focuses on the Teen Titans and includes six superheroes from the Titans, original members of the group who are now all grown up and have something to prove.

Another fresh twist to gameplay comes in the form of personal crisis cards, which may directly affect only one character, but can still take down the whole team if players don't work together to solve the problem.

• To continue the theme of "licensed IPs at NY Toy Fair", which is not an unfamiliar theme by any means, I present A Wrinkle In Time: A Daring Adventure Game from Kami Mandell of USAopoly — which, I think, is the only game in our database based on A Wrinkle in Time other than Lloyd Krassner's unlicensed Wrinkles in Time, and he has released hundreds of free, online-only games, so he kind of doesn't count.

This game is based not on the Madeleine L'Engle book, but on the Disney movie due out March 9, which of course is based on the book. As for the gameplay, here's what we know for now about this 1-3 player game:

Quote:
In the game, players take on the role of the story's main characters — Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin — and work together to solve mathematical puzzles, decode secret messages, and tesser to new locations to rescue Mr. Murray and get home. The engineering of a hexaflexagon is behind the "Flex Enfolders", which when used in conjunction with dice rolls must sum up to progress through five movie-based locations, or levels.

A coding portion of each round relies on players' abilities to communicate and lay out an "operation chain" that aims to generate a successful result, after which they will use the color filtration of Mrs. Who's "Quizzing Glasses" to reveal Mr. Murry's hidden whereabouts.
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Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:34 pm
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Spielwarenmesse 2018 Round-up VI: Quest Anew to El Dorado, Bounce Like a Kangaroo, and Find Catalysts to Score

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Following yesterday's unexpected excitement, I think it's time for my final tweet round-up for Spielwarenmesse 2018, the annual toy and game fair in Nürnberg, Germany. I still have random pics on my phone that I haven't tweeted yet, along with notes about this or that, but I have plenty of other new things to write about as well next week ahead of NY Toy Fair, so let's get to this!

• I've already covered a number of Ravensburger titles in these round-ups — Carpe Diem, The Rise of Queensdale, Impact, TransAmerica — but the publisher had still more to show around every corner in their booth, and that booth was quite wind-y indeed. At SPIEL '17, Ravensburger and designer Reiner Knizia had already announced that an expansion for The Quest for El Dorado would be released in 2018, and here's the first look at that Heroes & Demons expansion which was otherwise not on display on the demo tables.



• Yet another title in the "scurrying cockroach" line from Inka and Markus Brand is being prepared for release by Ravensburger in 2018, and it's neat to think about this game and The Rise of Queensdale originating from the same sources. One game is an involved campaign series that will require players to devote dozens of hours to playing it, while the other is likely a 5-10 minute affair with skittering HEXBUG toys. Quite the range!



Catalyst, which is scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2018 from dV Giochi, is a drafting combo game in which you purchase characters as they appear from the deck, then use their one-time powers to do different things, which includes purchasing buildings in which to place future characters you purchase as those buildings can be used repeatedly to zoom your way toward the finish line.

We recorded an overview video of this game, along with several dozen others, while in Nürnberg. I'm not sure what the final video count was, but I do know that Lincoln has been working on getting them out in the near future since another convention — FIJ in Cannes — is just over the horizon.



• The next title in IELLO's mini-games line is Nessos, a new version of Comet's Bakudan Takarabako from Takaaki Sayama and Toshiki Arao.

The original game name translates to "Bomb & Treasures", and the deck consists of cards containing those two types of items, with the treasures being numbered 1-10 and the bombs not being numbered because honestly it's going to kill you no matter which number it might say. On a turn, you give another player a card face down; if the card is a treasure, you must state truthfully the number on it, and if it's a bomb, you make up whatever number you want. The other player can accept the card, send it back to you, or add a card to it (following the same rules) and give it to someone else.

Your goal is to collect cards worth a certain number of points, but if you collect three bombs, you're out of the game. Boom. Thus, Nessos is almost a pure bluffing game, with you also playing the odds and trying to get sets since having a 1, 2 and 3 is worth 10 points instead of 6.



Claude Leroy's classic strategy game Gyges, first published in 1985, is being released in a new themed edition from Blue Orange Games, with players now trying to bounce a kangaroo into the opponent's back line three times to win. The challenge is that you can bounce off of other pieces already in play in order to keep moving a token, but you can move only a token that is off the board on your side or (if everything is on the board) closest to you on the game board.

Side note: With his son Timothée, Claude Leroy started the small publishing firm Jactalea, and Jactalea is what became the European division of Blue Orange Games, which Timothée now manages.

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Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:00 pm
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Asmodee Acquires Lookout Games and Mayfair Games

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The news that some gamers have been anticipating — and possibly dreading — has arrived: Asmodee has acquired German publisher Lookout Games.

This news shouldn't be a surprise. In November 2017, Mayfair Games — which had purchased a controlling interest in Lookout Games in 2013parted ways with employees Alex Yeager, Julie Yeager, Chuck Rice and Dan Decker, all of whom worked on marketing, public relations, and distribution. As I noted on Dec. 1, 2017, this left most of the Mayfair development team — which was essentially the Lookout Games development team — intact, which suggested that games were still being signed and developed, with the distribution of those games to be left in the hands of someone else.

In this same time period, Lookout Games owner Hanno Girke identified multiple projects that were still underway, such as a revised version of Agricola: Farmers of the Moor, a new German version of 1830: Railways & Robber Barons, and multiple new Agricola card decks. Heck, I just returned from the 2018 Spielwarenmesse trade fair where Lookout had a huge number of titles on display that are scheduled for release in 2018 and 2019.




While Lookout Games was doing its thing, owner Mayfair Games apparently wasn't. Lookout's SPIEL '17 releases — including Nusfjord, Riverboat, Isle of Skye: Journeyman, and the Agricola: Artifex Deck — were sold at that show in English and German editions, but only the German copies made it into widespread distribution, but the English-language games didn't make it to retail outlets in North America. (At BGG.CON 2017 in November, Alex Yeager had told me that English-language versions of these games wouldn't be shipped to North America until January 2018 — a date that has now passed, in case you hadn't noticed.)

Asked about this, Girke says, "Well, the games should have been on the ship to the U.S. pre-Essen. For reasons out of my reach, it didn't happen, so most of the games slated for the U.S. have now been sold to the UK and other EN-language buying European markets. But we managed to schedule early reprints to be ready to ship games as soon as this deal was done."

As for that deal, here's the first part of the press release issued today by Asmodee:

Quote:
Lookout GmbH, Publisher of Cult Classic Agricola, to Join the Asmodee Group

Asmodee Group, a leading international games publisher and distributor, is pleased to announce today the acquisition of German based board and card game publisher Lookout GmbH.

Founded in 2000 by Hanno Girke, Lookout GmbH are well known for series such as the cult classic Agricola, a Euro style board game created by the celebrated designer Uwe Rosenberg, which launched in 2007 and Caverna, an update and new take on the former, that went on to garner critical acclaim.

Most recently, Lookout GmbH published 'Isle of Skye', a tile laying game that won numerous awards throughout 2015 and 2016, including the coveted 2016 Kennerspiel des Jahres.

Lookout GmbH will remain an independent studio within Asmodee and ASS Altenburger GmbH will continue to handle German language distribution. In North America, distribution duties will now be handled by Asmodee North America following on from the great platform that Mayfair Games helped establish. European distribution for English language products will be handled by Asmodee European distribution business units whilst the remaining territories will fall under the responsibility of Asmodee Group situated in Paris.

An Asmodee North America (ANA) spokesperson confirms that many of the Lookout titles from SPIEL '17, as well as out-of-stock items like Bärenpark, are on their way to the U.S. "Details about North American release dates will be made public shortly."

You might notice something missing from that headline and the first few paragraphs of the press release, namely the fate of Mayfair Games itself. All of the fanfare in this announcement is for Lookout Games, and that's understandable given that (1) Asmodee had already acquired the English-language rights to Catan from Mayfair in early 2016, with Catan being the biggest part of Mayfair's business at that time and (2) since its sale of Catan, Mayfair had largely transformed itself into a publisher of games from Lookout. If you look over the list of games that Mayfair released in 2017—




—all but three of those titles originated at Lookout, with the three exceptions being a revamped edition of Iron Dragon (first released by Mayfair in 1994), as well as two titles licensed from German publisher AMIGO: Portal of Heroes and Saboteur: The Duel. (Side note: In December 2017, AMIGO established a U.S. division in Austin, Texas for the release of its own games in English. AMIGO plans to debut these titles at the NY Toy Fair in mid-February 2018, and I'll have details on its initial U.S. line-up in the near future.) In 2016, Mayfair's only new non-Lookout title was Steam: Expansion #5, which was designed by Morgan Dontanville, who had left Mayfair in 2016 to join the newly formed Catan Studio.

So what's happening with Mayfair?

Quote:
Mayfair Games Inc., a long-standing game publisher based out of Skokie, Illinois, is withdrawing from games publishing and have entered into an agreement with Asmodee to assume all their current IP. "Mayfair Games has a 36-year history for publishing great games," said Larry Roznai, President of Mayfair Games. "In Asmodee we have found a partner who will provide a platform for the continuation of our best games."

Will the Mayfair Games brand continue to exist? "That, sir, is up to them," Roznai told me, adding that "[t]hey will own all of our trademarks and copyrights, and what they choose to do with it is still undetermined. I am retiring." Girke confirms that all English-language releases of Lookout designs will now bear the Lookout Games logo.

The ANA spokesperson says, "We have yet to make any decisions about how we manage the Mayfair brand in the future, but Asmodee is proud to be able to bring Mayfair's games into our portfolio. We recognize the heritage behind some of the best known titles (such as the 18xx series) and we are looking at the best way to develop these IPs in the future." ANA is also talking with Gen Con about floor plans for 2018 since Mayfair Games had a long history at that convention, and whether that highly-prized floor space comes with the purchase of Mayfair itself is unclear.

Why didn't Asmodee just purchase all of Mayfair in early 2016 instead of solely the rights to Catan? In December 2017, I speculated as follows: "Lookout Games' releases in 2016 and 2017 have been hit after hit after hit, so perhaps Asmodee has decided that it acted hastily at the end of 2015 when it acquired only the English-language rights to Catan from Mayfair and left the rest of the company alone. I'd wager we'll find out what's happening once the calendar flips over to 2018 just one month from now..."

I put that question to the parties involved, with the ANA spokesperson saying, "It wasn't for sale then", and Girke confirming this: "Back in 2016, there were no talks about an acquisition of Lookout." Roznai paints a slightly different picture, saying, "That is because they didn't want the rest at that time."

As for how this deal came about now, Girke says, "Asmodee offered an opportunity to grow, especially on the U.S. market. Talks started last fall, and we've been in great discussions since... I'm not at all involved in the Mayfair-Asmodee deal. All I can confirm is that Asmodee took over the 74% of Lookout that Mayfair held, as well as the 26% that were still in my possession." The ANA spokesperson confirms this arrangement, stating that "Asmodee has paid separately for both Mayfair's shares in Lookout & Mayfair's inventory and IP assets. Our understanding is that Mayfair have cleared all their debts themselves."

To finish the press release:

Quote:
"It's an exciting task to run Lookout as a studio, and I'm grateful to have been selected for it. It is good to be back." said Hanno Girke, Lookout GmbH. "I'm also proud to announce that Lookout bolsters their ranks by adding Ralph Bienert (who was running Games' Up) and Atelier 198's Andrea Kattnig to their crew."

"We're thrilled to welcome Lookout GmbH to the Asmodee Group," said Stephane Carville, President of Asmodee. "With a great pedigree of Euro games in their portfolio, their spectacular range of Euro classics are sure to enchant generations of players to come."

For context to the statement above, after Mayfair had acquired a controlling interest in Lookout, Girke had stepped aside from the company, focusing on his primary job as a teacher with his wife Doris Girke-Meßmer acting as managing director of Lookout. That has changed with the company's acquisition by Asmodee. "I quit my teacher's job to take over as the Head of Studio, focusing on the creative side. Doris is still with the company, helping me with the non-creative side of the job."

As for what's coming from Lookout, Girke relates this about the line-up shown above: "We had some great releases in the last years, so one of our main foci will be to give them time to grow, supporting them with expansions, promos, and other fancy things. Still, we're proud that we found another set of great gems that we'll publish along with them. Expect Lookout to do what Lookout does best. Yes, I'm also more than excited about the new Patchwork versions. Klemens is working on a set of new fabrics at the moment, to give him a break from all the Agricola cards he still has on his list. There'll be a bunch of new promos…2018 will be an exciting year. And I can promise you a very special, Lookout-like Easter Egg. Oh wait, it's just six weeks until Easter…"

Asked for a final status, Roznai says, "Lookout sold, Mayfair Europe closed, Mayfair USA closed, Twilight [Creations] back with Kerry" — with this latter development having been covered by BGG News here. At the GAMA Trade Show, which he regularly attended, he said he would be "Doing a seminar, maybe a few panels, helping GAMA with hall monitor service. And I will be going to Gen Con for the fun..."
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Fri Feb 9, 2018 4:45 pm
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Episode #3 of The BoardGameGeek Show — Kōtahi, DDoS, Kingdom: Death Monster, and Spielwarenmesse 2018

W. Eric Martin
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Another two weeks have passed, so it's time for episode #3 of The BoardGameGeek Show, with Scott, Lincoln, and me talking about what we've been playing, things in the news, what's happening on BGG itself, and our time at the Spielwarenmessee 2018 trade fair, which just ended on Sunday, February 4. Lincoln and I were on site for three days shooting game overview videos, and this was Lincoln's first trip to the Messe in Nürnberg, so he talked about that experience while I said things like, "Shucks, young'un, 'taint nothin' a man ain't seen before on a thousand other worlds."

Here's a rundown of what we talk about on the show, with start times for those who want to jump ahead:

00:52 Happy Salmon - Ken Gruhl, Quentin Weir - North Star Games
02:38 Stellium - Rémi Saunier - Ankama
03:11 Finished! - Friedemann Friese - 2F-Spiele & Stronghold Games
05:18 Micropolis - Bruno Cathala, Charles Chevalier - Matagot & Surfin' Meeple
05:41 Kerala - Kristen Hiese - Thames & Kosmos
06:21 Kingdom: Death Monster - Adam Poots - Kingdom Death
12:18 Spielwarenmesse 2018 early announcements
12:44 Great Western Trail: Rails to the North - eggertspiele
13:33 Forbidden Sky: Height of Danger - Gamewright
14:33 Jurassic Park: Danger! Adventure Strategy Game
15:27 Forrest-Pruzan Creative
15:50 Counter Magazine ceasing publication
22:45 Toys"R"Us Closing 182 brick-and-mortar locations
24:54 UBOOT: The Board Game Kickstarter
27:15 Rising Sun - "Kōtahi" character controversy
29:45 DDoS on BoardGameGeek
32:02 What's Coming Up on GameNight!
32:58 Nürnberg coverage wrap-up with Eric & Lincoln


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Thu Feb 8, 2018 7:05 pm
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