Dragomino from designers Bruno Cathala, Marie Fort, and Wilfried Fort and publisher Blue Orange Games won the 2021 Kinderspiel des Jahres, Germany's children's game of the year award, beating out Storytailors and Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels.
Commenting on the winner, the Kinderspiel des Jahres jury notes that Dragomino "shows in an impressive way how to transform a family game into a children's game", with "luck and deliberation being kept in an exciting balance".
• Need an excuse to acquire more games? Perhaps you'll be inspired by Anne-Laure Le Cunff's essay "Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books". An excerpt, which can apply to games as easily as books:Quote:The goal of an antilibrary is not to collect books you have read so you can proudly display them on your shelf; instead, it is to curate a highly personal collection of resources around themes you are curious about. Instead of a celebration of everything you know, an antilibrary is an ode to everything you want to explore.• Sam March created his own electronic game board for Catan that rolls the dice, then highlights the spaces that pay out in resources. Man, you have to really love a game to devote that much time to creating something like this!
The vastness of the unknown can feel terrifying, which is why many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of accumulating books they haven't read. But embracing the unknown is what drives discovery. As Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell once said: "Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science." An antilibrary is a reminder of everything we don't know.
• In an essay titled "Review Drift" on The Splintered Mind, C. Thi Nguyen (BGG user rorschah) argues that game reviewers are failing to do justice to the material they cover. An excerpt:Quote:Boardgames are, one might hope, made for hundreds and thousands of plays. One of the reason boardgames are such a good value proposition is that you can slowly discover the depths of the game over years of repeat play. But the community is now getting driven by popular reviewers, often on YouTube, and getting popular requires putting out frequent and regular content — multiple reviews a week. Which means the most dominant voices, which drive the market, are playing each game a couple of times and then reviewing. And that drives the market in a particular direction. It drives it away from deep rich games that take a few plays to wrap your mind around. The current landscape of popular reviewers seems to be driving the market towards games which are immediately comprehensible, fun for a handful of plays, and then collapse into boring sameness.One could counter that the reviewers Nguyen describes probably do match the "standard use-context" of their audience, which tends to play games only a few times before moving on to another new game — which means that the experience of the reviewer is the same as that of those players, so they're doing a job that's for their audience.
So: the structure of the online environment right now seems to demand that superstar reviewers put up frequent updates. Which means reviewing lots of products in rapid succession. But if you're reviewing the kind of thing that is subtle, that takes a long time to really get to know, then the context of review has drifted really far from the context of use. So we're evolving this perverse ecosystem centered around influential reviewers — but, where, to become influential, their review-context must be really far from the standard use-context.
I'll include my standard comment about reviewers: If they don't tell you how many times they've played the game in question, they're doing you, the reader or viewer, a disservice. I'm not saying that a reviewer must play a game X times before talking about it — but they should tell how many times they've played so that their audience can decide how much to trust their judgment.
Archive for Industry News
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Z-Man Games' Head of Studio Steve Kimball announced the end of the company's "Euro Classics" game line that (to date) consisted of new editions of Reiner Knizia designs.
On May 28, 2021, Kimball did another lap on the same course, announcing a final (small?) English-language printing of Tales of the Arabian Nights that will mostly be sold only through the publisher's online store, with Kimball's reminiscing and announcement sandwiching designer Eric Goldberg's history of the game in a suitably Arabian Nights-like fashion.
Kimball notes that this edition of the game is happening only thanks to a bump in the road to a rebooted version of the game with another publisher, with Goldberg hinting that perhaps this new edition will be based on the Arthurian legends. Check out the post for yourself if you want to try to read those tea leaves.
• In July 2020, designer Isaac Childres was profiled in the "news" section of Purdue University's website, Childres having gotten his degree there in physics and astronomy. An excerpt: "Isaac Childres graduated with a doctorate in physics in 2014 but his career route took an unusual turn. While working on his doctoral thesis, 'Effects of energetic irradiation on materials and devices based on graphene and topological insulators,' Childres was also working on a side project."
Another game-related excerpt:Quote:When asked if Childres plans to work with physics in the future, he says, "this chapter in my life has ended." But when asked if there may ever be a physics based board game, the story is just beginning.• In March 2021, Ian Williams at VICE interviewed designer Francesco Nepitello about the second edition of The One Ring RPG, which Swedish publisher Free League funded on Kickstarter and which is due out near the end of 2021.
"Last year, I started working on an independent project to publish that was loosely based on physics," says Childres. "It has a more sci-fi premise where lab workers work together to open a parallel universe. In this game, you'd work with your mirror self to close the rift and then write an academic paper. It is in the works but there's not a lot of time to put into it right now. I plan to revisit it next year."
reported that the Hasbro board game Risk "will be getting a TV adaptation as part of a multi-year television deal between the board game, toys and media behemoth's entertainment studio and Beau Willimon and Jordan Tappis' Westward."
• Australian game blog Next Player has interviewed four publishers — FryxGames, Pandasaurus Games, Steve Jackson Games, and Bézier Games — for two articles about counterfeit games, with the first on the impact of counterfeit games on the hobby and the second on what individuals can do about them.
I've spoken with a few publishers about this topic over the past few years, and their comments mirror the ones in this article. The main problems related to counterfeit games are twofold and intertwined: lost sales and loss of buyer confidence. The problem with lost sales is direct and obvious — money that would have gone to the legitimate publisher of a game instead goes to someone else.
The loss of buyer confidence relates to someone receiving a poorly produced version of a game, then swearing off items from the publisher and slamming the game in reviews, while not realizing that they have a counterfeit. This problem is more nebulous, yet possibly more damaging long term because a review like this one of Splendor on Amazon will stick around for years, making every single reader of it question whether they should purchase the game at all.
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Dominion from Donald X. Vaccarino and Rio Grande Games? A game in which you start with a tiny deck of cards and use those cards to acquire more cards?
You probably have given that the game has been quite popular since its debut in 2008. Many people want to play Dominion online, whether they don't have others nearby or they're still trying to isolate, but multiple online set-ups for Dominion have come and gone over the years for one reason or another. I can't say much about those reasons as I've never tried to play the game online and I don't follow digital game news in general, but since I know that folks would like to play it, I thought I'd dip my toe into digital game news this one time to post the following:
Temple Gates Games — which has previously released digital versions of Race for the Galaxy, Roll for the Galaxy, and Shards of Infinity — is working with Rio Grande Games to release a digital version of the game that I've already referenced multiple times in this post, i.e., Dominion, on Steam, iOS, and Android.Promo screenshot of the base game cards
Here are excerpts from Temple Gates as to what you can expect from this adaptation:Quote:The app is a true adaptation of the board game, offering players the deck-building card play they love in a digital form. There are a few perks to this app that make playing digitally a snap:Temple Gates Games notes that its digital version of Dominion is currently in beta for all platforms, and you can ask to be added to the beta testing, although spaces are limited. Notes the publisher, "This beta will open to a wider audience incrementally. The beta is free."
• Automated score-keeping, setup & rules enforcement
• Jumbo mode for larger text
• Turbo mode to zoom through games quickly
• Neural net AI for solo play
• Async and real-time multiplayer
• Pass and play
• Cross platform compatible: Start on your phone, finish on your PCAnother promo screenshot
Dominion is now entering a closed beta. It will launch as a free to play title. Players can play with the "Base" set of cards including 26 unique Kingdom cards, three basic Victory sets, and three basic Treasure sets. All expansions will be available for purchase at launch for five to ten USD dollars each...
The Dominion app will represent a new milestone for AI in gaming as the first commercial implementation of the techniques behind AlphaZero. Temple Gates built on the AI from Race for the Galaxy, but added a much deeper lookahead, which is important for Dominion's emphasis on over-arching strategy. This deeper lookahead is only possible to compute by using a neural network to guide the growth of the search tree. By including an embedding layer for the first time to our neural network, our AI now learns the value of components of each card, rather than the cards themselves, meaning that it can master not just the 500+ cards in existence, but also cards which have yet to be designed. We hope you enjoy this new AI, designed by Keldon Jones, renowned for the Race for the Galaxy AI.
No release date for the app is included in the press release, but I believe that's generally the case for such things, yes?Wow, look at all those cards I don't recognize!
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All Together Now — Spiel des Jahres Nominations for 2021: The Adventures of Robin Hood, MicroMacro: Crime City, and Zombie Teenz Evolution
Spiel des Jahres jury chairman Harald Schrapers and Kinderspiel des Jahres chairman Christoph Schlewinski announced the nominees and other recommended titles during a live broadcast on Facebook, with these three titles being nominated for Spiel des Jahres 2021:
• The Adventures of Robin Hood, by Michael Menzel and KOSMOS
• MicroMacro: Crime City, by Johannes Sich and Edition Spielwiese (written and video overview)
• Zombie Teenz Evolution, by Annick Lobet and Le Scorpion Masqué (video overview)
Aside from these nominations, the SdJ jury recommended the following five titles: Biss 20, Chakra, Point Salad, Switch & Signal, and The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land, the latter two of which also happen to be co-operative.
Note that the Spiel des Jahres award is primarily aimed at family gamers, i.e., those who play games but aren't heavily into the gaming scene.
Nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres went to:
• Fantasy Realms, by Bruce Glassco and WizKids (and in Germany from Strohmann Games) (video overview)
• Lost Ruins of Arnak, by Mín, Elwen, and Czech Games Edition (video overview)
• Paleo, by Peter Rustemeyer and Hans im Glück (video overview)
The SdJ jury recommended four other titles at the Kennerspiel level: Aeon's End, Barrage, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, and Riftforce. The winners of the Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres will be announced in Berlin, Germany on July 19, 2021.
The titles nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres 2020 are:
• Dragomino, by Bruno Cathala, Marie Fort, Wilfried Fort, and Blue Orange Games (video overview)
• Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels, by Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, and Le Scorpion Masqué (video overview)
• Storytailors, by Marie Fort, Wilfried Fort, and Lifestyle Boardgames (video overview)
The Kinderspiel des Jahres jury, which differs from the SdJ/KedJ jury, also recommended seven other titles: Dream Catcher, Hipp Hopp Hippo, Inspektor Nase, Käpt'n Kuller, Memo Friends, Swip'Sheep, and Tapikékoi.
The winner will be announced on June 14, 2021, roughly one month prior to the winners of the other awards.
Aside from the overwhelming presence of co-operative games among the nominees and recommended titles — and perhaps this trend shouldn't be a surprise given the events of 2020 — Schrapers and Schlewinski highlighted the strong showing by French designers and French and French-Canadian publishers, with the husband-and-wife team of Marie and Wilfried Fort picking up two nominations in the Kinderspiel category and Le Scorpion Masqué having a nomination for both Spiel des Jahres and Kinderspiel des Jahres. Schlewinski noted that the French seem to be more adventurous in their themes, their mechanisms, and their approach to art and graphics.
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Beneeta Kaur livestreams game demos and playthroughs on Twitch, and on Sunday, May 2, 2021, she's running a charity event to raise funds for COVID-19 relief for India. Here's a reposting of info from her initial posting on BGG:Quote:For the past month or so, my co-host, AnnaMaria [Jackson-Phelps], and I have been going through the BGG Top 100 and discussing them. It's been a lot of fun whilst often fostering serious discussions. This Sunday, we will also be raising money to benefit India's Covid situation. For those unaware, the situation in India is dire and there is a lack of oxygen and hospital beds.
The board game community has come together and I am excited to announce that over 50 companies have pledged a free board game or accessory. Any donation over $3 will be entered into the giveaway. Any donation over $25 will be entered into the big ticket item giveaways (ie. Tidal Blades Deluxe, Too Many Bones, etc). If you donate $35, AnnaMaria will send you an original watercolor piece of art, and those over 100$ have the option of appearing in a future stream with us to play a game. Please join us for a lively discussion and to help raise funds and awareness for this important cause
The stream will be on Sunday, May 2nd at 7pm ET, 4pm PT, and 11pm GMT. Join us here.
And here's a more detailed list of companies and individuals who have donated items for this event:
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Repos Production introduced something titled "7 Wonders Mystery" with the following minimalistic tweet:
🗝 7 Wonders Mystery— Repos Production (@ReposProduction) April 12, 2021
📆 Beginning of the adventure: April 26th, 2021 pic.twitter.com/7g2FZ3tOzD
Over the subsequent week, Repos has been tweeting more teasers about...whatever this is, and things are now starting to come into focus with this announcement from April 19, 2021:
🗝Discover the treasures behind the #7Wonders of the Ancient world…— Repos Production (@ReposProduction) April 19, 2021
🎁 Among the various prizes, you could be the next to win:
• €500 voucher to buy board games
• A statuette representing the Wonder of the week
• One or more games from the #7Wonders range
• And even more! pic.twitter.com/iGxdSBhDFN
Yes, in fact 7 Wonders Mystery is not an expansion for Antoine Bauza's card-drafting, civilization-building game 7 Wonders, but instead a series of puzzle-based challenges based on the seven wonders in the game. Here's an overview from the publisher's press release of what's going to happen:Quote:Starting on April 26, 2021, Repos Production, the studio behind 7 Wonders, the board game with more awards than any other game in the world, will offer everyone a brand-new adventure themed around the 7 Wonders of the World.For eight weeks from April 26 to June 20, 2021, a new puzzle will be released at the 7 Wonders Mystery website, with these puzzles being created by various game industry professionals under the supervision of Cyril Demaegd, creator of the Unlock! series of escape room games from Space Cowboys. The puzzles will have multiple difficulty levels, and you can play them with or without clues depending on how much of a challenge you want.
Each week, for two whole months, a new puzzle will be introduced, with prize sets offered for the cleverest among you. This great investigation game will allow both curious and hardcore fans to test their sense of observation and thought to solve the mysteries of the 7 Wonders. This is a chance to while away the time, alone or with your family, all while furthering your general culture knowledge.
A Repos representative mentioned to me that while the puzzles can be solved by anyone, the prizes will be available only to participants in France, Germany, Belgium, and the U.S., presumably for legal reasons. Another announcement I received notes that "Everyone has a chance to win!", so perhaps we'll have to wait until April 26, 2021 to know for sure.Purposefully blurry teaser image
Note: I don't normally post about contests in this space, but I saw many people speculating that "7 Wonders Mystery" would be a new game release, so I wanted to pass along clarifying information.
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editorial following the close of a Kickstarter campaign for a new edition of Franz-Benno Delonge's game Fjords, Grail Games' David Harding gives a recap of the publisher's history and talks a bit about a new direction.
Grail Games was founded in 2014, and Harding released a handful of titles annually until he found himself burning out in 2018/2019. To excerpt his post:Quote:This has been my downfall: I know what games I love and I want everyone to have a chance to love them, so I kept churning them out. On average, I released 5 titles a year — mostly working on my own at nights and on weekends. If a Kickstarter campaign allowed me to print 2000-3000 copies I was excited as I was able to fulfil my dreams. Unfortunately, printing that number of copies each time does not offer a publisher the best cost-per-copy rates, nor will it give a publisher enough profits to make a living. Short of striking lightning in a bottle, a small publisher will almost never make enough to pay the bills. Grail had no marketing department, no advertising budget. Being in Australia there’s almost no conventions to attend, and flying to Essen or Indy is SO freaking expensive.announced a partnership with publisher/distributor Surfin' Meeple that would be "focused on facilitating manufacturing and distribution services with the goal of introducing Grail Games classics to more homes around the world", then in 2020 Grail Games officially joined the Matagot family of companies run by Arnaud Charpentier, with Harding overseeing all editorial decisions, while Matagot would handle marketing, finances, distribution, and production issues.
This support will allow Harding to focus on Grail Games on a full-time basis for the first time in the company's seven-year history starting in June 2021 — but it also entails a change in focus, one that mirrors a March 2021 announcement by Z-Man Games that it was ending its "Euro Classics" game line that consisted (at that point) solely of new editions of five classic titles by designer Reiner Knizia. Here's another excerpt from Harding's post:Quote:I am immensely proud of Grail's editions of Yellow & Yangtze, Medici and Stephenson's Rocket, but these reprints and revisions, while great at getting BGGers to notice what one is doing, just...haven't sold well. And not only are we not going to take over any of the games Asmodee [i.e., Z-Man Games] let go, but our Medici Reformation project (although it was almost ready to go) is now cancelled. The 10 games by Renier Knizia that Grail released (Criss Cross, Medici, Medici: The Card Game, Medici: The Dice Game, Yellow & Yangtze, Circus Flohcati, King's Road, Stephenson's Rocket, Whale Riders, and Whale Riders: The Card Game) will not be printed again by us and will be leaving our catalogue at the end of 2021. Allow me to say it: Grab those leftover copies while you can.Given what a huge fan I am of his designs, I feel let down by the dual announcements of Knizia titles not being strong enough on the market to maintain a presence there, but maybe this is simply another way of recognizing that the market sees hundreds of new releases annually, so it can be tough to gain traction given all the competition. Alternatively, perhaps my taste in games is somewhat old-fashioned given that I got into hobby games in the early 2000s during an era of regular releases from Schacht, Colovini, and Knizia.
I personally hope that Reiner Knizia will find publishers for these games that suit him better and sell more copies.
What comes next for Grail? Well, that path has already been started, as is evident in the company's two most recent Kickstarter projects: Hibachi, this being a new — and far more light-hearted — version of Marco Teubner's 2010 release Safranito and the aforementioned Fjords, which was given an expanded player count, five new expansion modules by Harding's brother Phil Walker-Harding, and a modern look by Beth Sobel. In Harding's words:Quote:We still want to reprint classics and games that feel like classics, but these two games (and the ones coming up) are all games that I have been able to put a ton of myself into. We were free to make these games according to my vision. In this new chapter that is about to open for Grail, I will be moving forwards by selecting games that I both love personally, and that I can work on freely. I'll always have my Palastgeflüster, my Finca, my Thurn and Taxis, and my scuffed copies of Carcassonne and Catan. But as a publisher, while I've loved giving older games a fresh coat of paint, I have learned that I enjoy even more when the canvas is bare, or can be stripped bare before I get to work.
Moving forward, with the support of a team of helpers, you will see me have a hand in games more like Hibachi where (dare I say it) a dry game about trading spices with an amazingly fun dexterity element may actually end up on a game table down the road from your house. I mean, just look at that cat chef.
Other non-Knizia titles coming from Grail Games were covered in this October 2020 BGG News post that highlighted announcements from Harding during SPIEL '20. (I will confess that Harding's taste in games aligns with mine, so I pay attention to all that he's doing.) These titles include:
• Tom Lehmann's two-player game ChuHan that I first wrote about in 2019.
• Scott Almes' Silicon Valley, in which 1-4 players hire staff for their start-up company to put out new products, with the nature of the products being determined by patterns that you build with polyominoes.
• Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert's The Gardens, which Harding described to me as "my magnum opus" in terms of how he's been able to shape the entire package. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:Quote:Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden holds a special place in the hearts of locals. World renowned for its location, beauty, and historical and scientific significance, each of its 29 hectares are not only stunning, but a calming retreat from the city's streets.Finally, Harding closed with a final teaser about future plans:Non-final cover
In The Gardens, players draft cards depicting different features of the Gardens, using them to build their own portion of it in front of themselves. Players then score points based on what their visitors see as they walk past the Gardens' various flower beds, ponds, native trees, and statues. The tableau you build will have three rows — waterside, grass, and cityside — and you add one card a turn until the area is filled.Non-final player tableau
The game is accessible and simple to learn, yet offers strategic choices. Its included modules add variability and depth for experienced players, with landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge that players can gain for extra points or special abilities, so join the picnickers, joggers, lorikeets, and bin chickens, and enjoy your day in the beautiful Botanic gardens.Quote:Thanks to all my experiences and hardships running a publishing house, I felt the urge to give back to the community and we'll soon share news about how Grail will be helping another small publisher's beloved titles to carry on... It will be a fantastic project.
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full credits for Lost Ruins of Arnak, for example, you'll see this:
Obviously most of these credit fields will be blank on most game listings until folks start submitting corrections for past work, but in the spirit of highlighting extended credits, I thought this post could highlight some of the folks in new positions behind the scenes.
Arcane Wonders hired Nicole Cutler as its Director of Projects — a title that is admittedly not on our list of credits, but "Editor" might be the equivalent. Hmm, maybe we need one more credit, something we've been saying to ourselves internally while working this out.
Thankfully, Arcane Wonders has its own job description:Quote:Nicole will be responsible for developing and implementing new systems for tracking and communication between Arcane Wonders' partners both internally and externally. With her breadth of experience in different roles within the industry, Nicole will work interdepartmentally to expedite projects, resolve problems, and help make our games the best they can be. Additionally she will assist the sales & manufacturing directors in the acquisition, execution, and logistics of our international partnerships.Cutler previously worked as Operations Manager for Jellybean Games and Production Manager for Pandasaurus Games, and not too long before this pandemic started she and her husband moved to my neck of the woods, so with vaccines now rather plentiful in the U.S. perhaps we can finally play a game together before too many more months pass. We'll see...
hiring of Elisa Teague in October 2020 to serve as Senior Producer for Renegade's role-playing line-up, which will include titles set in the Power Rangers, My Little Pony, GI Joe, and Transformers universes following a September 2020 deal with Hasbro. (Teague designed Renegade's D&D 5E-compatible Wardlings Campaign Guide, which was released in 2020.)
In January 2021, Renegade hired Matt Holland as Sales & Marketing Program Manager to "oversee new community oriented projects". Holland was previously Community Coordinator at Fantasy Flight Games, where he helped manage organized play for games such as X-Wing, Star Wars: Destiny, and Legend of the Five Rings.
Along those lines, in February 2021, Renegade announced an organized play program for its Vampire: The Masquerade – Rivals Expandable Card Game, with small kits for stores and in-home use and community kits "slated to begin in late 2021 or early 2022".From left: Holland, Fox, and Le
Also in February 2021, Renegade brought on Trivia Fox as Associate Producer: Roleplaying Games and Jimmy Le as Associate Producer: Board & Card Games.
• In February 2021, U.S. publisher Pandasaurus Games brought on Anne Kinner, formerly with Asmodee North America, as Production Coordinator and Mike Young, previously in charge of communications with Plan B Games, as Project Manager.From left: Kinner and Young
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Ares Games has signed a deal to publish and distribute original games from Italian publisher Ergo Ludo Editions in English, starting with the Q4 2021 release of the co-operative game Ensemble from Luigi Ferrini and Daniele Ursini. Here's an overview of that title:Quote:All players must vote — without communicating — on one of the cards on display that they think best matches a card in the middle of the table. Communication is allowed only once all the players' votes have been revealed, and if all players have voted the same way (with a small, variable tolerance depending on the number of players), the group moves on to the next level. Otherwise, they lose a life.Following that, Ares will publish an English language version of Ergo Ludo Editions' Cangaceiros, with this game being "inspired by the outlaw gangs of Brazil's Northeast in the late 19th and early 20th centuries".
The goal of the game is to win level 9 — and once the game is won for the first time, the first scenario deck (of three) is unlocked, with new rules and cards being available for future games.
Here's more on this late 2021/early 2022 release from the press release:Quote:To counter the overwhelming power of the large landowners called "Coronéis", armed gangs were created to oppose these despots and the government, fighting for survival, freedom, and revenge. Players are bandits trying to become the most famous gang of the Cangaço, surviving in the impervious hinterland, hunted by military units sent by government to capture or kill them.Luma Games, has signed a deal with Belgian publisher Sit Down! for "exclusive English-language distribution" of its game catalog, starting with the upcoming releases Dive (covered here) and Rush Out! (covered here) in the first half of 2021 and continuing with reprints of Magic Maze and Magic Maze Kids. Here's an excerpt from the press release announcing the deal:Quote:Didier Delhez, co-owner of Sit Down!, said, "We are very happy with this new partnership with Luma Imports. Our games will now be able to largely reach the American public, thus responding to the many requests that we have received. We know the effectiveness of Luma Imports and are excited to start this new partnership!"• Eric Hanuise of Flatlined Games has started a YouTube channel titled "Board Game Publisher" in which he promises to "publish videos about all aspects of the board game publishing trade: sourcing, development, manufacturing, logistics, marketing, regulations, DTP and Pre-press, the list goes on." If you've thought of taking the plunge — or have already plunged — perhaps these videos will be of interest to you. Here's one to get you started, focusing on why you might not want to do this:
announced that the next fair will be held February 2-6, 2022.
• To increase availability of its games in Canada, Looney Labs has signed a deal with Universal Distribution that goes into effect as of April 14, 2021. An excerpt from the press release: "Universal Distribution has been a long-time industry friend and brings strong insights into the game and hobby market in Canada. With three shipping locations across Canada, they are more convenient for some retailers. This addition of Universal as a distributor does not replace any existing channels for obtaining Looney Lab games but rather adds opportunity for specialty retailers to get our games at their convenience."
Speaking of which, Wonderland Fluxx is a short-run release from Looney Labs for which retail preorders end on April 16, 2021. The short story behind this title: U.S. retailer Books-A-Million was interested in an "Alice in Wonderland" themed Fluxx, and designer Andy Looney had one on hand, so it's now going into production primarily for BAM!, while also being available to other retailers who want to carry copies.
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Z-Man Games' Head of Studio Steve Kimball posted an article titled "An Ode to the Euro Classics", which simultaneously announced the end of the "Euro Classics" game line that (to date) consisted of new editions of Reiner Knizia's Tigris & Euphrates, Ra, Taj Mahal, Through the Desert, and Samurai; teased a new edition of The Princes of Florence from Wolfgang Kramer and Richard Ulrich (cover art at right) that will now not be released; and expressed a few sour grapes about the current state of the industry. An excerpt:Quote:Third, the industry had massively changed — even in the short 5 years since the new version of Tigris launched the line. Crowdfunding is a force to be reckoned with, and it is the ideal place to relaunch new versions of beloved classics. The gorgeous reimaginings done by Roxley, Grail Games, Restoration Games, and Burnt Island Games are all living testaments of that truth!Bruno Faidutti reflects on game sales in 2020. An excerpt:
Alternatively, if you do attempt to re-release a game via traditional distribution channels, then you need to pray that any number of witty UK board game influencers take notice and give you coverage. Those folks hold massive sway over the current industry's focus, and without a ringing endorsement poshly articulated in the Queen's English ("Best Euro Ever" anyone?), your revised labor of love is headed for a Miniature Market fire sale.
I honestly wonder that, if Princes had launched in today's environment, would it have ever cracked BGG's Top 10? I'm not convinced that it would; not because the game isn't excellent — it truly is — but because today's conditions are so different. It made an impact at a time when only a handful of established publishers released far fewer games. Nowadays there is so much noise that it is nearly impossible to ensure that your wares are seen, heard, and given a fair chance to succeed in the market.Quote:Old staples sold as well as usual, if not better, in 2020. The sales of Citadels, Incan Gold, Mascarade and The Dwarf King, which together make more than three quarters of my income, were good. It's really surprising since, except for The Dwarf King, they all play best with a large group of players, which is not always easy to gather in these epidemic times.reflects on his 35-year history in the boardgame industry, writing about how both games and game designers have become more diverse in modern times, with the games themselves being harder to categorize and far better than in the 1980s. An excerpt:
On the other hand, most new games went under radar. The sales of Poisons, Vintage, Maracas, Ménestrels and Stolen Paintings are modest, if not disappointing, even when they all got good reviews. I can understand it for Poisons, which is at its best with five or more players, or with Maracas, which looks much more fun once you've held and shaken the actual gizmo. Stolen Paintings, Vintage and Ménestrels, on the other hand, are very classic euro style card games, play really well even with only three or four players, and I thought they would be well fitted for the times. Only one of my new games, Vampire – Vendetta, seems to sell really well, and it might be in part, paradoxically, because the action takes place in a decades old fantasy universe.Quote:In the eighties, the gaming world was extremely divided. Some people played party games, other played simulation games, other german games (soon to be renamed eurogames). It was also the beginning of role playing games. Even for the few people who, like me and my friends, were interested in all of these, they were still distinct genres and styles. The charm and richness of todays gaming world comes from the fact that everything has been mixed, that designers and publishers are always crossing borders. The same designer, Vlaada Chvátil, can design Through the Ages, which I find boring but is certainly a great game in its style, and Codenames, which I could play for days. This incredible culture broth also generated new genres like collectible card games, deck-building games, co-operative games, legacy games. They all made the gaming culture more rich and interesting.• At the end of 2020 on WIRED, Matthew Gault wrote about racial stereotypes in Dungeons & Dragons, highlighting issues both within the game and with publisher Wizards of the Coast. The opening paragraph:Quote:Dungeons & Dragons is the oldest and most popular tabletop role-playing game in the world. As its popularity has soared, so has its player base. It's a game that was dominated by white dudes for decades and, because of that, it's got some baggage. Some of its concepts — evil races, descriptions of orcs and half-orcs that mirror racist stereotypes, and the concept of racial disadvantages — don't make sense anymore in a modern context. The game's publisher, Wizards of the Coast (WotC), knows that and is trying to move Dungeons & Dragons into the future. But many of its efforts seem half-hearted, and a lot of the work of making Dungeons & Dragons more inclusive has fallen to its fans.
- [+] Dice rolls