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Ludoteca Ideale 2011 – Recognizing Italy's Best

Andrea Ligabue
Italy
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I'm proud to announce the list of games nominated for Ludoteca Ideale 2011, a project developed by Club TreEmme and La Tana dei Goblin that aims to celebrate the ten best games released during the year from Italian publishers in the Italian language. The nominating committee is comprised of ten members, nine of whom are Italian game experts, reviewers and journalists, with the tenth member being the sum of the votes of all members of Club TreEmme and La Tana dei Goblin.

These games are:

Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and The Lion (Giochi Uniti / NG International)
Caos nel vecchio mondo (Giochi Uniti / Stratelibri)
Dixit (Asterionpress)
Finca [Giochi Uniti)
Florenza (Placentia Games)
Le Havre (Giochi Uniti / Stratelibri)
Mondo senza fine (Giochi Uniti)
Olympus (Giochi Uniti / Stratelibri)
Pandemia (Giochi Uniti / Stratelibri)
Small World (Giochi Uniti)
Tinner's Trail (La Tana dei Goblin)
Vinhos (Red Glove)

And yes, that list includes twelve titles, not ten; we had a three-way tie for tenth position. All of the games will have a special demo table reserved March 26-27, 2011 during PLAY: The Games Festival.

Good play,
Liga
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Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:40 am
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Looney Labs in 2011: Pyramids, Dragons...but No Rabbits

Jeff Wolfe
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With Pirate Fluxx hitting stores on Feb. 11, 2011, Looney Labs started to give people a look into the future by releasing information about its summer 2011 releases.

The Pyramids Are Back!

In November 2010, Looney Labs stopped selling Treehouse, its flagship pyramid product. On June 24, 2011, the company will release a new version of Treehouse with appropriately pyramidal packaging, as well as a new pyramid product called IceDice.

Treehouse - As with the previous version of this game, the new Treehouse includes 15 pyramids in five colors, rules, and a special Treehouse die. It also includes a regular die and rules to a second game called Pharaoh. Pharaoh had been previously released as a free rules download during the 2010 holiday season as the company's holiday gift to fans. Instead of the familiar plastic tube, the new version of Treehouse comes in a pyramid-shaped cloth bag with a zipper on the side and will retail for $14.

IceDice - The IceDice product includes 30 pyramids in five colors and a pair of special dice, also called IceDice. It also includes rules for two brand new games: IceDice and Launchpad 23. IceDice will come in a cloth bag similar to, but larger than, the Treehouse bag and will retail for $20.



Along with the new packaging comes a new brand name. The pyramid products are now being marketed under the name "Looney Pyramids". Previously, they were called Icehouse Pyramids, after the first game that was invented for the pyramids.

New-ish card game: Seven Dragons

Also on June 24, 2011, the company plans to release a card game called Seven Dragons, which is based on Aquarius, with dragon artwork by fantasy artist Larry Elmore. The game will retail for $12. There is no indication that the company plans to stop selling Aquarius, which has been rethemed once previously with a Mormon theme by Covenant Communications under the name Search, Ponder, & Play. (That version is still sold under license.)



Looney Labs Fan Club web site

In December (post-BoardgameNews.com and pre-BoardGameGeek News), Looney Labs unveiled a new web site for fans, The Looney Labs Fan Club. At least as far back as 1999, the company has reached out to fans, instituting its Mad Lab Rabbits program in November of that year. The program encouraged fans to spread the word of Looney Labs games to friends, in game stores, and at conventions. Until June 2007, the program included incentives for demoing games and directing new customers to the company's web site. Up to now, these activities had been coordinated through a series of email lists maintained by the company.

The new site has a public forum for general discussion of the company's various product lines, and a series of private forums dedicated to individual interest areas. Among the featured private groups are one for fans of the pyramid games (now dubbed Starship Captains), one to coordinate demo activities, and one for volunteers at the company's annual "Big Experiment" activites at the Origins Game Fair. The company says that it will offer "discounts and special deals" to fans who sign up for the web site, but there is no formal program as there was before.

With the new web site, the Mad Labs Rabbits program has been discontinued. The company had been gradually downplaying the rabbit theme over the last year, and actively looking for a new name since May 2010. In an open letter to fans on the new web site, company President Kristin Looney asked fans to stop calling themselves "rabbits", citing confusion the term has caused in the general public about the company and its games.

Fluxx: BoardGameGeek Expansion

In February 2011, Chad Krizan posted a message here on BoardGameGeek that a BoardGameGeek expansion to Fluxx is coming soon. The expansion will consist of eight cards: three Goals (including the BoardGameGeek.com Goal), three Keepers, an Action, and a New Rule, and should be available by mid-February 2011 in the BoardGameGeek store.
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Wed Feb 9, 2011 6:38 pm
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Links: Dominion Dominates, Cheapass Gets Cheaper & More

W. Eric Martin
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Here are today's game news bites:

• In newsletter #106 (PDF), Rio Grande Games' Jay Tummelson mentions that Dominion and its expansions have collectively sold more than one million copies when summing sales across all languages. In addition to the already announced Cornucopia, another Dominion expansion will be released in 2011 as well as another promo card.

Boardgames Australia has announced the winners of its three awards. They are:

Best International Game 2010 - Dice Town (all nominees here)
Best Australian Game 2010 - Make 'n' Break Compact (all nominees here)
Best Children's Game 2010 - The Kids of Carcassonne (all nominees here)

• Designer Michael Schacht has posted a Nürnberg 2011 report in German and English on his blog.

• Designer James Ernest has updated the Cheapass Games website after many years of dormancy. As part of the site's overhaul, he plans to make a number of games available as free downloadable PDFs, with you, the user, paying whatever amount you feel is appropriate. For now only Agora is available on the site's "Games" page.

Dixit, the 2010 Spiel des Jahres winner, is coming to the iPhone, and French publisher Libellud has pics of the prototype in a Facebook album. Libellud notes on its website that attendees to the Cannes game festival (Feb. 25-27, 2011) will be able to test the app.

• Doug Sartori has released a free iOS app of Robert Kraus' Neutron, a decades-old design from Games and Puzzles magazine.

• Kevin Tostado, director of Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story, is holding a Kickstarter fundraiser to raise funds and bring this movie to additional theaters. Seems like the reverse of what normally happens with movies and theaters, but I don't claim to be an expert on the film industry. (Disclosure: Kevin interviewed me for the movie, but I've yet to steel myself to watch the DVD a friend lent me. Someday...)
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Tue Feb 8, 2011 8:39 pm
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Links: Reports from Nürnberg 2011, Saint Petersburg in Slate & More

W. Eric Martin
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Time for another round-up of game news from across the webs, starting with that giant toy and game show taking place in Nürnberg, Germany:

• Photos from the Nürnberg 2011 Spielwarenmesse have started to appear; check out the 60-ish photos from German retailer Milan-Spiele, which includes a taste of what's coming from Amigo for Spiel 2011 and other surprises.

Matt Leacock's Pandemic has won MinD Spielepreis 2011 – the annual gaming award from Mensa in Deutschland (aka, MinD) – beating out (in order) Dominion, Agricola, Galaxy Trucker and Blokus.

• Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker and The Big Short, is interviewed by Tim Harford for an article in Financial Times (and reprinted on Slate) while playing a learning game of Saint Petersburg. Says Lewis, "This game is all about trade-offs ... it's made for the Anglo-Saxon Protestant work ethic. The Greeks would never appreciate it."

Sid Sackson's classic book A Gamut of Games is returning to print in late March 2011 from Dover Publications.

Fantasy Flight Games is hiring an Associate Media Producer. Head to the link for details on how to apply.

Cubo Magazine is a new Spanish-language site devoted to game news.

• Designer Jeffrey D. Allers has sent his latest Postcard from Berlin on Opinionated Gamers, this time talking about limits in life and in game design, with designers needing to keep the limits natural and (ideally) invisible during play. Props for working in a reference to Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea.

In a January 2011 post on Berlin Game Design, Allers noted that after receiving a royalty check he realized that his published designs have collectively sold more than 20,000 copies since 2008. While a nice milestone, Allers adds this warning note to prospective designers:

Quote:
To put this into perspective, even if I would have sold four times the number of games since 2008, my income would still put me below the poverty level in the United States. It's a good thing I'm not trying to support my family with my game design hobby, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else trying to do this, either, unless he or she is already milking an established hit.

• And finally some Wall Street employee named Derk Solko is quoted on why Monopoly is unpleasant to play in an article for Cracked.com on "5 Classic Board Games With Disturbing Origin Stories." Cracked doesn't spend time fact-checking its articles and verifying source info? Who knew?
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Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:50 pm
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Links: Three Spiel des Jahres for 2011, Win a Trip to Carcassonne & More

W. Eric Martin
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Here's the latest from around the web relating to these games we play:

• The Spiel des Jahres committee has announced that for the 2011 award ceremony, three games will be named "game of the year" instead of only two, which has been the case since 2001 when the Kinderspiel des Jahres award began. According to the committee (in my translation):

Quote:
The third prize is meant for players who have a lot of experience playing board games and are searching for more of a challenge....

The committee is responding to changes in the board game market. Supply and demand have grown for rule-intensive games in the past few years. The critics want to reward originality and innovation, while giving authors and publishers an incentive to continue their creative work in this segment of the market.


As for the Spiel des Jahres itself, that award will still go to a game aimed at all players. The three game of the year awards will be announced June 27, 2011 in Berlin.

• To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Carcassonne and its utter domination of game shelves around the world, Dutch publisher 999 Games is sponsoring a contest in which you must guess the number of games sold worldwide in the entire Carcassonne family. The winner gets a weekend for two in Carcassonne (the city, not the game box), and those who sign up for the 999 Games newsletter have a chance to win a game package worth €250. Deadline for entry is May 1, 2011.

• In an excellent example of how to introduce a game to potential players, GMT Games will host a live online demonstration of Volko Ruhnke's forthcoming game Andean Abyss on February 10, 2011 at 7:30 EST (GMT -5). Head to the GMT website for details on how to access the GMT Ventrilo Voice Server.
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Sun Feb 6, 2011 6:38 am
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You Know You Make Me Wanna Link

W. Eric Martin
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Another round-up of links from around the gaming world, most new and some only sorta new as I continue to clear bookmarks from my two-month hiatus:

• The nominees for the As d'Or for 2010 – France's Game of the Year award – have been announced and the titles up for consideration are:

* 7 Wonders by Antoine Bauza (Repos Production)
* Cyclades by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc (Matagot)
* Djam by William Attia (Asmodee)
* Fresko by Marco Ruskowski and Marcel Süßelbeck (Queen Games)
* Qwirkle by Susan McKinley Ross (Iello)
* Razzo Raketo by Steffen Bogen (Selecta Spiel)
* S.O.S. Octopus by Oliver Igelhaut (Filosofia)
* Skull & Roses by Hervé Marly (Editions Lui-Même)
* Troyes by Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges & Alain Orban (Pearl Games)
* Water Lily by Dominique Ehrhard (GameWorks)

As always, an interesting mix of games among the nominees, with two pure kids' games (S.O.S. Octopus and Razzo Raketo) and a couple of family games (Qwirkle and Water Lily) among more complex fare. (I have no inside knowledge, but I've already predicted that 7 Wonders will win every award for which it's nominated, including Spiel des Jahres and DSP. We'll see how that prediction pans out.) The winner will be announced Feb. 24, 2011 during the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes.

• Purple Pawn has surveyed more than 7,000 companies worldwide that are involved with the analog games industry and posted the results of its 2010 Game Industry Survey as a downloadable PDF, which summarizes the methodology PP's Yehuda Berlinger used to contact these companies. I'm not sure what to make of this partial summary: "Of the companies surveyed, those that did not close reported good results, with 85% reporting that they had done at least as well or better in 2010 than they had done in 2009." So in general the companies are doing great, other than those that are no longer in business.
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Thu Feb 3, 2011 8:02 pm
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Links to Lead into February 2011

W. Eric Martin
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A news summary for the day with lots of links to check out:

• Abacusspiele employee Matthias Wagner has posted an Airlines Europe geeklist that records the path of this Alan R. Moon game design from prototype to production. Lots of fun details in this write-up, as long as you don't mind seeing how the sausage gets made.

• In other Abacusspiele news, the publisher has posted rules on its site in four languages – German, English, French and Italian – for its early 2011 releases: Airlines Europe, Gold!, and its new version of Tichu.

Rules for Serge Laget's Cargo Noir, coming from Days of Wonder, are also available in English, French and German.

• Stefan Brück at alea announced on the alea forum that rules for Stefan Feld's Die Burgen von Burgund will be posted on the alea site within a week.

• On Feb. 15, 2011, following NY Toy Fair, Mayfair Games will visit the gaming retail mecca known as The Compleat Strategist and other spots in NYC to give away four-day passes to Gen Con 2011. Details on the Mayfair Games website.

• Designer Andrew Looney has revealed that a new brand of Fluxx is in the works: Star Fluxx. Nothing more than a name and the obligatory spaceship at this point.

• Alderac Entertainment Group is offering free Thunderstone promo packs, with only 4,000 sets being available. (Additional packs cost $2, plus shipping.) Four thousand sounds like a huge amount given that BGG lists only 3,400-ish owners of the game, but believe it or not not every gamer visits BGG. It's true!

• The new version of Eric B. Vogel's Cambria from Closet Nerd Games has a March 2011 release date.

• TricTrac.net has posted a first look at the next title from Ystari Games, due out March 2011: Philippe Keyaerts' Olympos. Who knew Zeus was that buff? Yowza!

• Portal Publishing is releasing a new version of the 2003 card game Zombiaki in February 2011, a version that will be compatible with Zombiaki II: Attack on Moscow.

• In other Portal news, solo rules are available for Ignacy Trzewiczek's 51st State, but only in Polish as far as I can tell. (BGG user ethidium has translated the solo rules to English.) To tie into the release of these rules, Portal is holding a contest in which players are challenged to score 125 points or more. The first player to do so wins Trzewiczek's Prêt-à-Porter and the forthcoming 51st State expansion, due out in late 2011.
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Tue Feb 1, 2011 4:13 pm
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Links to Love, Links to Leave Behind

W. Eric Martin
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Over the past two months I haven't posted much game news due to the Boardgame News implosion of 2010, but that doesn't mean I've been goofing off completely. Mostly goofing off, yes, but not full-bodied, 100% loafing.

No, I've been bookmarking material for publication once the gates opened and I would have a forum to start type, type, typing once again. Some of this material might be familiar to you, but maybe you'll run across a few things of interest. Let's take a look:

• German manufacturer Scheer Spiele GmbH & Co. KG failed to deliver a number of game titles to publishers on the eve of the Spiel 2010 game convention last October, with Queen Games being especially hard hit. In January 2011 in its 50th year of business, Scheer – manufacturer of Spiel des Jahres-winning titles like Carcassonne, El Grande and The Settlers of Catan – filed for insolvency, according to the Main Post. The article notes that financial irregularities in early 2010 led to a financial loss "in the high six figures".

• Michael Schacht was interviewed in English by Jeux'n'Co. One forthcoming title he mentioned, Mondo, will be featured in a designer diary from Schacht this coming Monday, Jan. 31.

• In other Schacht news, his card game Gold! will debut on February 3, 2011 from German publisher Abacusspiele to coincide with the opening of the Nürnberg Toy and Game Fair. On that same date, a digital version of Gold! will debut from Skotos Tech for iDevices. For a detailed summary of game play, head to the Gold! page and check out my game description.



• Mayfair Games is holding weekly giveaways of Catanimals – plush versions of the building components in The Settlers of Catan – on its Facebook page. To enter, you must visit this photo album on the Tuesday that a new image is posted and "like" that image. One random "liker" will be chosen as the winner.
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Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:25 am
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