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BGG Will Livestream Game Demos and Interviews during SPIEL.digital 2020

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BoardGameGeek to Broadcast Game Demos Galore for SPIEL.digital

Travel to Essen online to check out new board and card games


Dallas, Texas, July 1, 2020 — Tabletop gaming site BoardGameGeek (BGG) will partner with Friedhelm Merz Verlag — which runs the annual SPIEL game convention in Essen, Germany — to livestream demonstrations of dozens of new board and card games from publishers around the world during SPIEL.digital on October 22-25, 2020.

Each year, tens of thousands of gamers travel to Essen to check out the 1,500 or so new tabletop games that debut at that fair, and each year since 2009 BGG has been livestreaming interviews with designers and publishers about the games they're debuting at SPIEL.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

For 2020, however, the worldwide COVID-19 situation has made it impossible for gamers to gather at Essen like normal, so Merz Verlag is instead hosting SPIEL.digital, an online event that will feature hundreds of exhibitors showing off their new releases. As part of SPIEL.digital, BGG will once again livestream game demos and interviews, bringing together designers and publishers to show off their new games to all players worldwide.

Expect more than thirty hours of game demos from BGG, with details to be announced as to with which games and which publishers that will be taking part in SPIEL.digital. You will be able to check out the broadcast schedule — not to mention watch and comment on the livestream — on BGG here. Get ready to bring the world of games to your home on October 22-25, 2020!

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Wed Jul 1, 2020 6:00 pm
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Stephen Buonocore to Retire from Stronghold Games; Sydney Engelstein to Become Stronghold's Director of Game Development

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Board Game Publisher: Stronghold Games
Stephen Buonocore, founder and president of Stronghold Games, has announced that as of August 1, 2020 he will exit that role and take on a new role with far different challenges: retirement.

Here's the publisher's press release on this change:
Quote:
Hobby game entrepreneur, game media personality, and game industry veteran Stephen Buonocore will be stepping down from his role as President of Stronghold Games, effective on August 1, 2020. Buonocore, 59, founded Stronghold Games in 2009 and served as its President for most of that time.

Board Game Designer: Stephen Buonocore
Buonocore in 2011
Stronghold Games and Indie Boards & Cards merged in mid-2018 to form Indie Game Studios, where Buonocore continued in his role as President of Stronghold Games, as well as in the role of Spokesperson for the merged company.

Stephen Buonocore is also the cohost of Board Games Insider, one of the most popular hobby game podcasts, and he has appeared in interviews on television, radio, and numerous game media outlets to promote both the company and the game industry. Buonocore also serves on the Board of Directors for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, the purpose of which is to provide financial assistance to members of the gaming community who have suffered personal hardship.

"After over ten years with Stronghold Games and the merged company of Indie Game Studios, I have seen incredible growth and change in this fantastic industry", said Stephen Buonocore. "Even through the adversity that has been this year, our small industry remains strong. Let us all focus, both from within the industry as well as through the grassroots of gamers, on the growth of an inclusive, diverse community. This must be the future of gaming for us all."

Board Game Designer: Stephen Buonocore
Buonocore in 2020
"It is now time for me to hand the reins of the Stronghold Games brand to a new generation of amazing people within Indie Game Studios. I look forward to playing the games that are made by these great people as they manage the brands of Stronghold Games and Indie Boards & Cards."

"Please make no mistake, my retirement has been in the making for years as I worked through a smooth transition with the CEO of Indie Game Studios, and my good friend, Travis Worthington. Under his guidance, the company will continue to achieve great things in the future."

"I leave to focus on family, friends, interests, and the enjoyment of life. I will continue to produce the Board Games Insider podcast, where I share my knowledge, views, and love of the hobby game industry. I plan to be involved in additional game media outlets as well in the future."

Board Game Designer: Sydney Engelstein
Sydney Engelstein
"I cherish the wonderful relationships that I have forged through Stronghold Games, both with industry people and fans of the company. Rest assured that you all will most definitely see me at many future game conventions and shows. I greatly look forward to that for years to come."

While President of Stronghold Games, Stephen Buonocore provided vision and guidance for hundreds of game titles, both developed within the company and in partnership with publishers around the world. Indie Game Studios CEO Travis Worthington will continue to direct the merged company. Sydney Engelstein will become Director of Game Development for Stronghold Games.
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Wed Jul 1, 2020 5:00 pm
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COVID-19 at the Gaming Table X: New Ways to Play Carcassonne, Space Base, and Ticket to Ride

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Board Game: Carcassonne
• In the previous COVID-19 round-up, I included a link to a free Carcassonne expansion — The Land Surveyors — that you could download, print, and play.

Almost immediately after that post went live, German publisher Hans im Glück released solitaire rules for Carcassonne in German and English that you can download from its retail site Cundco.de. (Note: The product is listed as unavailable, but that's because you cannot purchase it. Scroll down to the "Available downloads:" section to find download links there.)

These rules are for use only with the base game, although the publisher encourages you to try whatever combinations of expansions you want, and it can't stop you from doing so anyway. The gist of the solitaire rules is that you'll play with three colors of meeples, with four meeples of each color. Divide the tiles into three piles, and place one pile by each color. You play for each color in turn, and if you can't place a meeple on a turn, the game ends immediately. Features can score for multiple colors if the color with the fewest points is one of the scoring colors, and at the end of the game your score is equal to the lowest-scoring color.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Board Game: Space Base
• Working along similar lines, AEG has released rules for "Space Base at Home", a way to play John D. Clair's engine- and tableau-building game with any number of people who own a copy of the game.

In brief, one player is designated as the host and takes the role of both the first player and the third player, while everyone else takes the role of second player. The gist of the set-up, as far as I understand it, seems to be that the host is indeed hosting and not actually playing the game, but instead providing an AI of sorts for everyone else to play against.

Board Game: T-Rex's Holiday
• The roll-and-write game T-Rex's Holiday from Yu Wang and Blue Magpie Games was a SPIEL '19 release, and now the publisher has uploaded the game sheet on BGG, which means that you can download both the rules and this sheet, grab three dice, then start playing.

The twist of this roll-and-write is that the active player rolls three dice, reveals two of them for all players to use, then reveals the one die they hid, which players may or may not be able to use depending on what they thought the active player had rolled.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Download the complete player sheet on BGG

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Stay at Home
Days of Wonder has released a print-and-play version of Ticket to Ride titled Ticket to Ride: Stay at Home, with players now trying to complete "routes" between different parts of the house. You need one of the Ticket to Ride base games for train pieces and cards, then you can visit the Asmodee website to download the components in A4 or U.S. letter format in up to thirteen languages.

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Stay at Home
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Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:00 pm
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Links: Distinguishing Between Red and Anthrocite, and Choosing Games for a Pandemic

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
• Following the May 18 announcement of the 2020 Spiel des Jahres nominees, jury member Udo Bartsch has written an article that explains why certain games are nominated for the Spiel des Jahres award, which is aimed at families, while other titles are nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres, which is aimed at enthusiasts or connaisseurs. Here are two translated excerpts:
Quote:
Which game is a game for everyone and which is not cannot be determined by generally applicable and precisely measurable characteristics, but only by playing with as many different people as possible — and even then, the results are not always crystal clear.
Quote:
In the current year we see The Crew and The Cartographers as connoisseur games. Why? The Crew is a trick-taking game. Many people play trick games; Skat, Schafkopf, Doppelkopf, and also more modern representatives like Wizard are quite popular.

But in contrast to the usual competitive trick games, the co-operative The Crew demands more: If you want to play sensibly, you have to develop a notion for the whole story beyond your own hand and without seeing the cards of the other participants, you need to anticipate processes such as "stinging" or throwing off. The Crew requires an unusual thinking process to make it run smoothly. It's like a logic puzzle with cards. Several times I sat at the table with people who knew Wizard or Doppelkopf, but still had no idea what The Crew was now asking of them.
Board Game: SpyNet
• In mid-March 2020, Matt Jarvis at Dicebreaker profiled designer Richard Garfield, with the interview highlighting which game of his has been overlooked (SpyNet, a 2017 release from Z-Man Games) and what he values about KeyForge compared to Magic: The Gathering: "A game like KeyForge makes it tough for a 'one size fits all' strategy guide to emerge; every deck has its strengths, weaknesses and peculiarities. Weirdly, there is noticeably more variety in decks even though in a TCG technically a larger variety of decks could be played — because in practice they aren't played."

I also appreciate these comments from Garfield given how they mirror my own thoughts:
Quote:
"One of my current concerns in board game culture is how fast players draw conclusions about games," he says. "My favorite thing about games has always been that the best ones get better with time and go to unexpected places."

"Skim the comments and reviews on [BoardGameGeek] and they are littered with people talking about imbalances after far too little time. It often seems players pick a strategy the first time they play and if something unforeseen happens the game has a problem that should have been designed around."

Garfield says that games with a large amount of gameplay variety such as 1970s classic Cosmic Encounter, often cited as one of the best board games ever made and a key influence on Magic: The Gathering, have become "dangerous to make" as a result.

"Recently I have begun to suspect that this culture may excessively narrow the sort of games that are made," he says. "Designers are encouraged by this to create games that are tightly constrained so that players get what they expect and are not surprised except perhaps in the minimal amount required to make it feel like a new game."
Board Game: Jaipur
• Thanks to folks looking for things to do while at home, mainstream media outlets continue to introduce new board games to their readers, as in this April 30, 2020 article by Alexis Soloski in The New York Times that leads with this introduction:
Quote:
If you, like me, grew up with a battered box of Sorry and a Battleship missing at least two of its boats, you should know that board games have improved. With a large number released each year, the variety of games and the mechanics that govern them are almost infinite.

My library books remain unread, a stack of untouched New Yorker issues has become a household obstacle, and I can't make it through a movie, or even a 23-minute sitcom, without reaching for my phone. So why can I spend a focused hour-and-a-half bartering for camels in an Indian marketplace playing Jaipur or simulating quilt-making in Patchwork?
Board Game: Sanssouci
• On Ars Technica, Nate Anderson does something similar in an article titled "6 board games I’m playing during the pandemic", with this assortment of titles ranging from the "oh, of course" to the "wait, really?" Here's an excerpt that highlights the out-of-print title shown at left, although a new edition is coming in 2020 from Chilean publisher Fractal Juegos:
Quote:
A terrific tile-layer, this Michael Kiesling design has been criminally overlooked. No dungeon crawls here, D&D lovers—this is a game about building a European formal garden while moving your nobles down the garden path so they can smell the roses (and earn you points). It's fast, it's fun, and it's extremely relaxing. The rules are simple to teach, turns are fast, and everything looks great. The game even includes a small expansion module in the box for slightly more complex play. The biggest downside? It might be hard to find new right now.
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Wed May 27, 2020 1:00 pm
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BGG.CONline Goes Live Today, May 20, 2020; Check Out the Guest List

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Gen Con and SPIEL have cancelled their events for 2020, with both organizations promising to hold online conventions during the days when their shows would have taken place. BGG is doing something similar, but we got a jump on them since we cancelled our BGG.Spring show in early April, giving us several weeks to organize BGG.CONline — which debuts today, Wednesday, May 20!

You can visit the landing page for BGG.CONline — with this being our landing page in the future for all live events — to see the list of guests scheduled for airtime on May 20-21, as well as the games they will feature. (The listed time on the schedule matches your own time zone, so you don't need to adjust anything.)

From gallery of W Eric Martin
We're starting with two of the Spiel des Jahres jury members, who are joining us from Germany to talk about the recently announced nominees for the Spiel, Kennerspiel, and Kinderspiel des Jahres awards, then we'll be joined by publishers who will give an overview of recently released games.

You can watch the Twitch broadcast from the BGG.CONline landing page, and if you're already logged into Twitch, you can comment on that page.

Hope you'll join us for the first of what will likely be many such online events!
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Wed May 20, 2020 4:57 pm
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Gen Con 2020 Cancelled

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
One day after the cancellation of SPIEL '20, Gen Con has announced that it, too, will not take place in 2020.

Convention co-owner Peter Adkison writes about the decision on the Gen Con blog and announces Gen Con Online on the same dates — July 30 - August 2, 2020 — as the original show. An excerpt:
Quote:
This will be the first time in the 50+ year history of Gen Con that we will miss the chance to see each other in person, and it hurts, but nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our attendees and the communities they hail from.

I have a conviction about the power of people being together in the same space. Things will have to change as we learn how to adapt to this crisis, but one day we'll join together in rolling real dice onto the same tabletop.

Until then, we adapt and we keep going. For us, that means working on Gen Con Online and planning for our triumphant return to Indianapolis for Gen Con 2021. If you've already bought your badge for Gen Con 2020 and you're willing to roll it forward to next year, it would be a huge help in keeping us operational as we work towards the future.
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Tue May 19, 2020 5:37 pm
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Spiel des Jahres Nominations for 2020: My City, Nova Luna, and Pictures; Cartographers, The Crew, and The King's Dilemma Are Kennerspiel Nominees

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
The nominees for the 2020 Spiel des Jahres — Germany's "game of the year" award — have been announced, along with nominees for two accompanying awards: the Kinderspiel des Jahres (KidJ) for children's game of the year, and the Kennerspiel des Jahres (KedJ) for enthusiast's game of the year, that is, for those already comfortable with learning and playing new games.

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 2020:

• My City, by Reiner Knizia from KOSMOS (video overview)
• Nova Luna, by Uwe Rosenberg and Corné van Moorsel from Edition Spielwiese (video overview)
• Pictures, by Daniela and Christian Stöhr from PD-Verlag (video overview)

Aside from these nominations, the SdJ jury recommended the following six titles: Color Brain, Draftosaurus, The Fox in the Forest, Kitchen Rush, Little Town, and Spicy.

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.

Board Game: My City
Board Game: Nova Luna
Board Game: Pictures

Nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres went to:

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale, by Jordy Adan from Thunderworks Games (and in Germany from Pegasus Spiele) (video overview)
The Crew, by Thomas Sing and KOSMOS (video overview)
The King's Dilemma, by Hjalmar Hach and Lorenzo Silva from Horrible Guild (and in Germany from HeidelBÄR Games) (video overview)

The SdJ jury recommended three other titles at the Kennerspiel level: Paladins of the West Kingdom, Res Arcana, and Underwater Cities. The winners of the Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres will be announced in Berlin, Germany on July 20, 2020.

Board Game: Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Board Game: The King's Dilemma

The titles nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres 2020 are:

Hedgehog Roll, a.k.a. Speedy Roll, by Urtis Šulinskas and Lifestyle Boardgames (and in Germany from Piatnik) (video overview)
Foto Fish, by Michael Kallauch and LOGIS (video overview)
Wir sind die Roboter, by Reinhard Staupe and Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag

The Kinderspiel des Jahres jury, which differs from the SdJ/KedJ jury, also recommended seven other titles: Go Slow!, Hans im Glück, Magic School, Puzzle-Memo, Slide Quest, Zombie Kidz Evolution, and Zoo Run.

The winner will be announced on June 15, 2020, roughly one month prior to the winners of the other awards.

Board Game: Hedgehog Roll
Board Game: Foto Fish
Board Game: Wir sind die Roboter
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Mon May 18, 2020 10:48 am
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SPIEL '20 Cancelled

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
The news that many people had been anticipating has now been made official: Convention organizer Friedhelm Merz Verlag has cancelled SPIEL '20, which was scheduled to take place October 22-25, 2020. Here's the full text of this announcement:
Quote:
Dear SPIELers,

With great regret we have to announce today that we have to postpone this year's SPIEL, which was planned for 22nd to 25th of October 2020, to the date 14th to 17th of October 2021.

The health of our exhibitors, visitors, guests and employees is very important to us.

We have been observing the very dynamic national and international development regarding Covid-19 very closely over the last weeks and months and have explored all possibilities for the implementation of SPIEL '20, also in coordination with the authorities. Unfortunately, this has led to the conclusion that due to force majeure, we will not be able to run SPIEL '20 on the intended date, either factually or technically. After a long time of consideration we have come to the painful conclusion that SPIEL will have to be postponed by one year.

However, we are already looking ahead to SPIEL '21 and can't wait to welcome you next year again.

Until then, please stay safe and healthy.

Your SPIEL-Team
Despite the vast size of the Messe in Essen where SPIEL takes place, the huge number of people in those halls would have made it possible for one sick person to infect a thousand or more attendees, with those attendees then spreading their illness all over the globe, so it's no surprise to me that this event has been removed from the calendar.

Publishers around the world will still release new games in Q4 2020, of course, but the launching pad for those titles won't be SPIEL '20. Time for everyone to adjust to "The Great Pause of 2020", to use terminology from Looney Labs, and figure out which games to announce when, whether to delay titles to 2021 when retail markets might be fully operational or whether to launch earlier when people are looking for more home-based activities, and how to create buzz and licensing deals for a title when the buzziest event of the game industry isn't taking place. We all have a lot of adjusting to do in the weeks and months ahead...

Update: After I went back to bed following the announcement of the 2020 SdJ nominations, Friedhelm Merz Verlag sent the following note to members of the press, a note that suggests more directly why the event was cancelled:
Quote:
Faced with an unchanged dynamic situation and the resulting lack of planning security, the world's largest and most-visited public fair for board games SPIEL, which last year welcomed more than 200,000 visitors and 1,200 exhibitors from all over the world, will not take place this year and will be postponed until next year.

"We have observed the very dynamic national and international development with regard to Covid-19 very closely over the past weeks and months and have evaluated all possibilities for holding SPIEL '20", explains Dominique Metzler, Managing Director of the organizing Friedhelm Merz Verlag. "Unfortunately, this has led to the conclusion that we will not be able to hold SPIEL '20 at the planned date due to a lack of planning security. A solid and responsible fair preparation is not possible under the given circumstances. For this reason and after a long period of consideration, we have come to the result, which is certainly very painful for everyone, that we will have to postpone SPIEL by one year."
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Mon May 18, 2020 9:45 am
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COVID-19 at the Gaming Table IX: Expansions for Carcassonne, Hadara, and Deep Blue; UK Games Expo 2020 Is Off

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Board Game: Deep Blue
• Not all of the material covered in posts like these was made specifically in response to the COVID-19 virus, but since many people are not able to meet with their regular game groups, this feels like a good place to highlight such material, such as "The Captain Returns" scenario that designers Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Asger Harding Granerud have created for their 2019 Days of Wonder release Deep Blue.

Pedersen tells me that the goal was to make this scenario playable without the need for additional components: "We have been working on the scenario since last December, so that decision is not related to Covid-19, but I am the more happier with it now that a lot of people are stuck at home without access to printing facilities."

"The Captain Returns" is a scenario for 1-3 players that you can download from the BGG game page. Says Pedersen, "I have taken a lot of inspiration from my fellow Dane Morten Monrad Pedersen and his team's Automa work over the years. Morten always talks about creating bots that push up against you in key interaction points. In Deep Blue, those interactions are happening on the market row of cards where the Captain will remove cards from play and add gems to the bag, and they are happening racing for scouting spots on dive sites and the initiative to dive."

Board Game: Oriflamme
Board Game: WineIQ
• Somewhat similarly, Studio H has released two-player rules for the 2020 French game of the year Oriflamme that you can download from the BGG game page in English and French.

• Swiss publisher Helvetiq has followed its COVID-19 version of Bandido (covered here) with a print-and-play version of its 2016 trivia game Wine IQ.

Board Game: Carcassonne
• German publisher Hans im Glück has released print-and-play expansions for two games.

In Carcassonne: The Land Surveyors, available for download here in English and German, surveyors roam the land, changing the value of roads, cities, and monasteries when they're scored.

More specifically, you'll create a stack of surveyor tiles for each of these three landscape features, with one tile being active for each feature and one tile being the next in line. When at least one feature scores points for any player, you resolve everything based on the currently active tiles, then you place those tiles on the bottom of their stacks, making the next-in-tile of each type the active tile. Some tiles give you bonuses, others penalties, so time the scoring carefully while the surveyors are on your side!

Board Game: Carcassonne: The Land Surveyors

Board Game: Hadara
• With the timely Hadara: The Plague Doctors, downloadable in English and German here, each player gets access to two doctors who bring things both good and bad to your world.

After the "carving of a statue" action in phase A, you can choose to take the doctor of the matching Epoch, I or II, and place it on a color of your choice on your game board, regardless of whether you have cards of that color or not. For the remainder of the game, you cannot add cards of the plague-stricken color to your board. The plague doctor in Epoch I is worth 12 VP, while the one in Epoch II is worth 8 VP on its own or 13 VP if you have both doctors.

Board Game Event: UK Games Expo 2020
• In late March 2020, UK Games Expo moved its 2020 show from May 29-31 to August 21-23 — but now the 2020 show has been cancelled for good, with the next UKGE taking place in 2021. Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
Quote:
Since making that announcement we have been monitoring the situation with regard to the current Covid-19 virus pandemic. After long deliberation and with great reluctance, the directors of UK Games Expo have decided to cancel the 2020 UK Games Expo. This decision has been made after considering national advice and government directives with regard to the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the expected closure of large venues and the probable duration of the infection. We reached our conclusions following consultation with sponsors, show partners and our venues.

We consider that a cancellation at this stage maximises the chances to both protect the health and well-being of all our attendees but also the financial viability of our exhibitors and the UK Games Expo itself and gives the best opportunity for attendees to recover any secondary costs. This allows us the best opportunity to hold a successful show in 2021.
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Fri May 1, 2020 9:13 pm
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COVID-19 at the Gaming Table VIII: Play at Home Thanks to Czech Games, Helvetiq, Big Potato, and Space Cowboys

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From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Should you be looking for another party game to play via camera, albeit with one person giving all the clues, UK publisher Big Potato would like to present you with Goat on a Boat, a rhyming- and celebrity-based charades game in which you need to make others guess phrases like "Jessica Biel wrestling an eel". You can download the PDF here.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Swiss publisher Helvetiq has released a special COVID-19 branded version of its co-operative game Bandido from designer Martin Nedergaard Andersen. In the original version of the game, you collectively place tunnel cards to try to shut of avenues of escape for a bandit; in this new version, available on PDF and containing fewer cards than the original game, you need to cut off the virus' tunnels of access to other people.

Czech Games Edition is releasing a new edition of Tomáš Uhlíř's Under Falling Skies in 2020, a game that won several categories in a nine-card nanogame design contest on BGG in its original version, including best overall game.

You can watch an overview of the game in this video that BGG recorded at GAMA Expo 2020, and if you want to try it out for yourself, CGE has posted an updated (yet not final) version of the game on its blog that you can download and play. If you downloaded the game previously, you can focus on the changes made to the game in the final section of that blog post.

Board Game: Under Falling Skies: A 9-Card Print-and-Play Game


Board Game: TIME Stories Revolution: Damien 1958 NT
Space Cowboys has released downloadable files of TIME Stories Revolution: Damien 1958 NT, a demo scenario by Manuel Rozoy and Vincent Goyat for the second cycle of TIME Stories that won't be used at conventions anytime soon. For those files, along with info on other titles in the TIME Stories Revolution series, head to the Space Cowboys website.

Catalyst Game Labs is offering a free downloadable novel or anthology set in its BattleTech and Shadowrun universes through its webstore. Use the one-time-per-person, case-sensitive code Catalst-C19 by May 15, 2020.

• In a Yahoo! News article from early April 2020 titled "3D printing enthusiasts join fight against coronavirus", BGG user Oscar Valera (username: Usual21) got a callout in the text and video for printing and distributing "200 face shields to medical professionals across the country". Valera was spotted by a BGG user who recognized several modern hobby games on the shelf behind him during the clip.
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