Archive for Convention Reports
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W. Eric Martin
As I've mentioned already, I'm attending the trade shows in both Nürnberg and New York City in February 2017, but I'm also hitting the show in Cannes for the first time, so I've converted our early year convention preview to cover games that will be shown at all three events.
Note that Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg and the NY Toy Fair are both trade shows, which means that publishers are showing games to retailers, distributors, licensors, and other buyers without the product being available for purchase. Heck, the general public isn't allowed into either show, so there's no point in having copies for sale anyway. In most cases, the games shown will be released in the first half of 2017, so think of this preview as a guide for what's to come. Note that most of the games listed on this preview will be from larger publishers (relatively speaking, mind you, given the size of the hobby industry), so not all games forthcoming in 2017 will be included.
Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, on the other hand, is open to the public, with French publishers both demoing upcoming releases and debuting titles at the show. I have no idea exactly what I'll find there, but I've reached out to many publishers that I expect will be there and will keep my eye out for announcements wherever I can.
With that preamble out of the way, I encourage you to visit BGG's Nürnberg/NYC/Cannes 2017 Preview, where you will see the huge SF game Seeders, Series 1: Exodus from Sweet November that will be the first in a series, the transformation of yet another board game to a card game in Scotland Yard: Das Kartenspiel from Ravensburger, the newest iteration of Grzegorz Rejchtman's creation with Ubongo Junior 3-D from KOSMOS, two new editions of old Feld games from alea, and (most exciting to me) the newest game from Kris Burm, LYNGK, which HUCH! & friends won't debut until SPIEL 2017. The preview is relatively short right now, but the 2016 edition topped two hundred games by the time I finished, so it will be sure to grow substantially by the end of February!
W. Eric Martin
Time for another round-up of photos from the December 11, 2016 Tokyo Game Market, courtesy of Jon Power, who attended the show with a press pass on behalf of BGG.
For those who don't know, Jon has worked with translators to create Japanese-language submission forms for game, designer and publisher listings on BGG to encourage more participation by JP designers and publishers on this site, and I greatly appreciate those efforts. I know that I couldn't do much of anything on a Japanese game site, so it's been great to see his efforts since mid-2015 bring about more game listings and activities. In some ways, this effort reminds me of when I first immersed myself in hobby games in the early 2000s, with user translations needed in order to play the German games I was ordering (blindly in many cases) from Adam Spielt and other online retailers. Exploring this new (to me) world is exciting, partly because I have no idea what to expect and mostly because I love the exploration process itself. So much to discover!
FLIPFLOPs publishes the wildly successful Heart of Crown deck-building game series, which debuted in Japan in 2011 and which will see the base game released in English in early 2017 from Japanime Games. At TGM in December 2016, FLIPFLOPs was showing off a new battle-type TCG titled Legions! (the logo of which I keep reading as "Legtons!"), with visitors able to get a deck sheet and a quick start guide, with the sheet needing to be cut and sleeved in order to try out the game.
Sunset Games had both original titles and imports from U.S. publishers such as Columbia Games and...Out of the Box Publishing? Must be old stock given that OotB is no longer in business. My knowledge of wargames is minimal, much less my knowledge of Japanese wargames, so I don't have much to offer here.
Gamifi Japan started in 2013 and has more than two dozen games in its catalog, but it has a BGG listing only because I just threw up a page for The Queen and Shoe Makers. Progress?
The relationship between Group SNE and cosaic is unclear to me, but they're almost always listed together on the Game Market website and their logos often appear together on games, whether for original titles or games originally published in Germany or elsewhere. So many mysteries in this market...
From left to right, booths for トイドロップ (Toy Drop), 温泉駅伝/水滸伝マラソン=ブダ・カフェ=, and Saashi & Saashi. Note that these are double-wide booths (e.g., C05-06), and a single booth would be half the length of one of these tables.
An assortment of role-playing games, with some of the Cthluhu-based games having a far different look than those in the U.S. Note also that many of these RPG books are cheap, with ¥500 equalling US$4.25.
The Taikikennai Games booth demonstrates one of the problems of TGM that will be familiar to any convention goer. Those six games on display would cost ¥10,500 to purchase, or about US$90. Even if the total were $10, though, you multiply that by 550 exhibitors and you're looking at five grand to pick up everything on display, never mind actually having time to play everything.
You're in the midst of a swirling whirlwind of more potential good things than you can possibly imagine, and at a certain point your mind starts to shut down. You can't even begin to contemplate what the actual size of the Japanese gaming market is, let alone the worldwide gaming market. Hundreds of thousands of colorful boxes end up in new hands each year, and at a certain point you just sit back and think, man, I hope everyone's having fun out there.
W. Eric Martin
I missed out on the Tokyo Game Market that took place December 11, 2016 due to family obligations, but BGG adminion Jon Power — who has been overseeing the addition of Japanese games to the BGG database for the past eighteen months — did attend the show, taking hundreds of pics in the eight hours that he was there. The show itself lasts only seven hours, mind you, seven hours in which you can barely acknowledge the more than 550 exhibitors present never mind actually seeing the games and figuring out what they might be, but BGG was able to get a press badge for Jon, thereby granting him 14% more time in which to race around snapping pictures. Here are a few shots from among the hundreds that he took, with more to come in the week ahead.
As usual, Tokyo Game Market took place at Tokyo Big Sight, the largest convention and exhibition center in Japan, which is located on the northwest shore of Tokyo Bay. Multiple events take place here during each TGM (and probably most other days as well, but I haven't visited outside of fair days), and each show occupies more and more space inside Big Sight given the constant increase in exhibitors.
Most exhibitors have a small selling area approximately five feet wide on a long table that's shared by multiple exhibitors, and you can see one such table in the middle of this image. Many of them decorate their space with cloths and signs, then use racks to give them vertical space in which to display games or a poster that gives the basics of gameplay.
Separately, these exhibitors might have a demo table, and these tables are in the foreground of the image. Even with the short duration of the game fair, these tables see a fair amount of use, but because most games exhibited at TGM last thirty minutes or less, turnover is quick. You don't have time for a two-hour game when that would consume almost a third of the entire show!
Companies on the periphery of the exhibit halls tend to have a larger demo space, as with Yamato Games, which debuted Sweets! (I bought Yamato's intro-level deck-builder Bird of Happiness in May 2016 and have played it solo a few times. Need to play it with others, then film an overview. So much to do!)
Here's an experience you encounter again and again at TGM: A relatively new publisher (グランドアゲームズ / Grand Door Games, which I believe first released a title in May 2016) with a professional-looking game that draws you in closer until, alas, you see Japanese text on the cards with no English rulebook in sight. What could this be? What's happening in Captain Dice? No time — move on, move on!
Booth displays at TGM are mostly non-existent, even for an established publisher such as New Games Order. Again, the show lasts only seven hours on a single day, so for the most part you think of this as a pop-up convention, dropping the cloth on the table, fitting as many games as possible on the available surface area, then filling holes from the boxes behind the table until it's time to pack up and come home.
New Games Order had new versions of both Basari and Can't Stop, with the latter having a foldable board that allows for a small box size. Shelf space seems to be precious in Japanese homes, so everyone aims to have the smallest box possible.
More to come...
Be sure to check out BGG.CON 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 1 if you haven't already done so!
Board Game Bazaar (Formerly the Flea Market)
The Board Game Bazaar was held Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This is always a frenzied event. The room is usually jam packed with sellers…and once open buyers, too. It's a board gamer's dream. I always find a few gems to purchase (a real accomplishment, considering how many games we already have). This year it was the Fresco: Big Box. Getting it into luggage was an adventure all on its own.
I shot a short video just before the room opened so you can get an idea of what can be found at the Bazaar. By the way, I was very impressed by how calmly everyone walked in once the doors were opened — great job, people!
Attendees may try out prototypes at Proto Alley, sponsored by Unpub, which was running this event at BGG.CON for its third year. The event was held for three days (Thursday – Saturday) from noon to 7:00 p.m. each day. There were special guests, special games, and a few surprises. (If anyone knows what the surprises were, please leave a comment – I'm intrigued.)
This year's charity auction proceeds went to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas. A list of items can be found in this GeekList.
This is a very loud but exciting event held in the dexterity games section of the main game room lobby. Luckily they close the main game room doors before the event. Below is a photo from this year's event – that's Tom Vasel, from The Dice Tower, in the striped mask doing the announcing. Sponsored by Mayday Games.
From Thursday through Saturday, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m., Level 99 Games provided attendees with drinks, snacks, and a variety of 1-to-1 games from its Duelist Line series. This year, games included BattleCON, EXCEED, Sellswords, and Pixel Tactics. Attendees were also welcome to bring in and play any two-player games from the BGG.CON library.
There were a few tournaments held during the convention, including Poker (no money involved, amateurs welcome), Risky Adventure (Queen Games), and the most important one of all (although probably the least attended since only the best attendees play): Tichu.
There were 13 teams competing in this year's Tichu tournament. It was a double-elimination format this year, across two days. The winners were Stephanie Bennett and Jorge Montero. Winners took home games from Czech Games Edition (CGE) as well as badges to next year's BGG.CON. (Information provided by Jeff Anders0n.)
Designer/Publisher Speed Dating
With all that's going on in the world, busy schedules, etc., it's difficult to meet that special someone. That's why there's speed dating! Okay, this one isn't so much for finding your next spouse as it is about getting designers and publishers together. The good news is, if there's a spark, a bright, shiny new game may emerge! The event is free, but attendees were allowed to present to publishers only if they were pre-approved. (This year's sign up was open until October 23, 2016.) The event was held over three nights, with twelve tables each night. According to the rules, only nearly complete, fully tested games were acceptable and there had to be a working prototype. Games submitted in previous years or games already having been through successful crowdfunding were not allowed. More rules were posted in a Google document. (Information from James Mathe.)
(Information provided by Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games)
Coin Quest was first released at SPIEL 2016, followed by the U.S. release at BGG.CON. It is a light strategy game that plays in about 30 minutes. It uses blind-bidding auctions in which players attempt to build the finest collection of coins. Akin to deck-building games, in this version you are building a bag of coins. The coins won in bids will bring you increased bidding value and extra actions. Gain control of the gold to help outbid your opponents; build a bag with a multitude of actions and bring more of your coins into play each turn; focus on gaining prestige to jump out in front with victory points. There is a lot to do in this diabolical bidding game.
Pyramid Poker will be released January 31, 2017. Pyramid Poker is an abstract strategy game that brings Poker to you in a two-player format. Players each receive wooden blocks that represent cards from a deck; they then take turns building one pyramid in the center of the table, with their tiles facing themselves. Once the pyramid is built, they then take turns dismantling it, using the blocks to form three poker hands that will go up against the hands built by their opponent. This game is R&R's most anticipated release of 2017.
Fun Fact: In addition to running a game company, Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games, is also part owner and designer of Escape Room Adventures (along with Stephen Buonocore, Stronghold Games, and Zev Shlasinger, WizKids). Escape Room Adventures is located in Ft Myers, Florida.
(Information provided by Kevin Brusky, President of APE Games)
Early copies of The Great Dinosaur Rush were available at Gen Con 2016; it was widely available at BGG.CON. Players take on the role of paleontologists during the Bone Wars of the late 1800s. They collect bones, build dinosaurs and get them into museums to gain fame. Playing dirty gains players notoriety points, which are added to each player's score at the end of the game. But the player with the most notoriety will need to subtract from their score. Players balance taking dirty actions (i.e. dynamiting dig sites), which benefit them in the short term and hinder others against gaining too much notoriety, but could subtract from their score in the end. Building dinosaurs is the heart of The Great Dinosaur Rush. Dinosaur designs are limited only by players' imaginations.
Dark is the Night is an asymmetric two-player game of hunt-or-be-hunted. One player takes the role of the hunter and can move in the lighted spaces surrounding the campfire, while the other player is the monster, secretly moving through the darkness. With only limited tools at their disposal, each player tries to eliminate the other before daybreak. While the goal of each player is to eliminate the other, the means to do it varies for each player, i.e. movement and actions available to the hunter player and monster player are very different.
Fun Fact: Dark is the Night was created by students at Bradley University as part of a game design class project.
(Information provided by Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games)
Great Western Trail pre-released at SPIEL 2016 and BGG.CON, with a general release November 23, 2016. The game takes place in America in the 19th century; you are a rancher, repeatedly herding your cattle from Texas to Kansas City, where you send them off by train. This earns you money and victory points. Each time you arrive in Kansas City, you want to have your most valuable cattle in tow. However, the "Great Western Trail" not only requires that you keep your herd in good shape, but also that you wisely use the various buildings along the trail. It is important to hire capable staff: cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your own buildings, or engineers for the important railroad line. Cleverly manage your herd and navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of Great Western Trail to gain the most victory points and win the game. Great Western Trail is a heavy Euro game, which uniquely combines deck-building, hand management, point to point movement, and tile placement. It is designed by Alexander Pfister, who has won the Kennerspiel des Jahres award two years in a row for Broom Service and Isle of Skye. Great Western Trail is #7 in The Great Designer Series line by Stronghold Games.
Coal Baron: The Great Card Game is due to be released February 22, 2017. The city of Essen, Germany, at the turn of the 20th century was a center for coal mining in Europe. Immerse yourself in the dark world of coal mining as you extract coal from pits, load coal onto wagon trains, then rail your coal off to distant locations in search of fortunes. This is a standalone game based on the board game, Coal Baron. The game features an innovative system of card drafting. Your hand cards represent workers, which must be used in higher numbers to successfully draft cards from the table. Hand management of your workers is crucial to being able to draft any of the key cards that you need, e.g. Lorries, Wagons, Engines, Orders, Shares, and Innovations, which are used to score VPs. With almost 240 cards, Coal Baron: The Great Card Game maintains the feel of the original game but with distinctively different mechanisms. This is a Kramer and Kiesling game.
Fun Fact: Stephen Buonocore, "Not only am I a passionate gamer, an outspoken industry advocate, and the President of Stronghold Games, but my passion extends beyond gaming into an entirely different realm. I am a BJCP.org Certified Beer Judge and home-brewer. Along with associates in the very plainly-named 'Beer Club' in central New Jersey, I travel long distances to seek out obscure craft beers and breweries, particularly in New England, which is where the sub-style of American IPA, the 'East Coast IPA,' was invented and perfected. Seek me out at any major convention if you want to hear me go on for hours about craft brewing in America."
Suspicion (Wonder Forge) was released August 2016 as a Target exclusive. It is a strategy deduction game, with some Clue-like elements but with more depth. Each person has a secret identity (one of ten). The game plays up to six players, so there will always be at least four characters in a pile near the board that players may peek at during the game (as an action on a card). Players will have two cards in hand (play one/draw one), each with two actions on them: one on top and one on the bottom. These actions can allow several action types; examples include allowing a player to take a gem in the room their pawn is in (rooms have different configurations of gems printed on them), moving one pawn to any location, and asking one player if their pawn can see the character pawn depicted on the card (this is done in secret by passing a yes/no card to the requesting player). Players roll two dice at the start of their turn to move two different characters to adjacent rooms, in hopes of setting them up for gaining information with the action cards or to throw off others in an attempt to hide their identity.
Fun Fact: Suspicion is set at the home of Baron Whitetooth. "Whitetooth" is a throwback name that the inventors used for a location-based game called Break In, way back in 1995, when they were creating larger-than-life entertainment experiences for ENTROS, The Intelligent Amusement Park. Similar to a present-day "escape room", Entros games were immersive, multi-sensory experiences. In Break In, Dr. Whitetooth was a sinister archeologist who dealt in stolen antiquities, and players had to infiltrate his mansion and steal back a priceless artifact. The character art for Suspicion was inspired by the work of the great caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld.
Suspicion Launch, L to R: Jay Wheatley, Jessica Aceti, Korby Sears, Bran Kirk
Broom Service: The Card Game (Ravensburger) is due to be released January 2017. It is based on the board game Broom Service. It captures the flavor of the original nicely but in about a third of the time. Each player has a hand of between 14 and 17 cards (depending on the number of players). The cards have an associated witch in a particular color, with 3 potions on one end (two of the color and one multi-colored) and 1 colored potion on the other end. All players choose three cards (the rest will be shuffled with the left over cards to be dealt out the next round). The first player plays a card then every player going around the table must play that color if they have it. They may play it either on the 3 side or the 1 side. If on the 3 side, the player who played the card before them must discard their card. The last player who played on the 3 side will select a card (if they are out of cards it goes to the next player). Continue until all cards have been played out that round. Four rounds are played then the hands are scored. Having more potions in a set gives more points. The player with the most points is the winner. In addition, there are some task cards (goals) that may be filled for points. The game also includes an expansion of 19 cards for the board game.
(Information provided by Danni Loe-Sterphone, Customer Service and Sales Manager at IELLO)
Kanagawa was released November 10, 2016. It is one of IELLO's newest card drafting games designed by the designer duo of Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier. You play as apprentice painters learning techniques from the grand master Hokusai. Learn how to paint different landscapes, create streaks of the same season, feature various subjects, and above all, create a harmonious print.
Rent A Hero was also released November 10, 2016. It is the most recent in the Mini Games line and is a remake of Seventh Hero. You play using cards numbered 1 to 7, each number representing a different hero. During the game, players will pass cards face-down, choosing to gain clues about the nature of the card. When they receive a card, players either recruit the hero or pass. When a player has six different heroes, they immediately win the game.
Fun Fact: Danni Loe-Sterphone says, "Stephan Brissaud [IELLO's COO] is color-blind, which is only one of the reasons he usually plays the yellow pieces in games!"
—Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
(Information provided by Todd Rowland, Director at Alderac Entertainment Group)
Treasure Lair is in stores now. Players take turns trying to complete quests by assembling parties of heroes and drawing and drafting for a hand of actions that can achieve victory. Completing quests awards treasure. Once enough treasure has been earned, the player with the most treasure wins the game.
Fun Fact: The game is designed by Arno Maesen and Fréderic Moyersoen. While Fréderic Moyersoen has designed dozens of games, this is Arno Maesen's first published title.
Tipping Cows was pre-released at BGG.CON, with a mini-version of the game being given to every attendee. The full release is planned for Q1 2017. It is a dexterity flicking game about tipping cows, represented by wooden blocks. They are the company that originated wooden blocks in gaming (circa 1972, Québec 1759).
Fun Fact: Grant Dalgliesh says, "Columbia Games is a small family multinational. The company was founded in Vancouver Canada (1983) and relocated to the USA in 1994. There are plans to open a division in Germany in the next year. The same owner has been involved the whole time: Tom Dalgliesh — also multinational — a Scot/Canadian/American like his son Grant."
—The Game Crafter
The Game Crafter is a print-on-demand board game company that allows anyone to turn their game ideas into a real game. They have free templates, a game editor, and parts for your game (pawns, dice, money, and other game pieces).
Gruff: Clash of the Battle Goats pre-released at BGG.CON. This is a tactical combat card game in which players take on the role of a shepherd with their herd of mutated goats called "gruffs". Players shuffle-build decks by combining sets of cards from each of their gruffs, then take part in a positional melee to try to defeat the opposing shepherd. Clash expands the world of Gruff with a standalone two-player game that is fully compatible with Gruff. Clash adds six new shepherd characters and six new monster goat creatures as part of two new starter decks.
Fun Fact: The gruff "Bubbles" got its name from the designer's three-year-old son who could not pronounce the original name "Bulbous".
(Information provided by Stefan Brunelle, Director of Communications & Marketing at Matagot Editions)
Room 25 Ultimate was released at BGG.CON. The game has two game modes: social hidden identity and cooperation. Trapped in a prison in which each room has four doors but apparently no exit, the players must try to find Room 25. But some amongst them might be guardians of the prison, waiting for the right moment to strike. In Room 25, not everyone wants to escape from imprisonment. Each turn, player moves are preprogrammed, requiring discussion, negotiation, and possibly betrayal.
Cyclades: Monuments will be released in early 2017. Attract more favors from the Gods with this mini-expansion for Cyclades that consists of ten monument miniatures and ten associated monument cards. Now you can build temples dedicated to Zeus or Poseidon's glory, a great university to Athena, or a citadel from which Ares will watch down with each of these new buildings giving you a unique power to achieve victory.
Fun Fact: (from Stephan Brunelle) Before BGG.CON, we received an email from a submarine officer asking for games; he's in charge of the lives of 120 people working for a seventy-day duty. The game we will send is Captain Sonar, although they don't yet know what the game will be.
—AdMagic — Print and Play Division
KLASK released in the first half of 2016. It is a dexterity game reminiscent of air hockey but with magnets. Each player's "klask" is magnetic, controlled from under the board (the magnet moves the top piece). There are also three small magnets on the board that may be knocked into the other player's piece (or get stuck to your own if you aren't careful). The object is to get the most points by either getting the plastic ball into the other player's goal (one point per goal) or by one player getting two magnets stuck to their klask (in which case the opponent scores). The board resets after each point.
Flick Wars will be on Kickstarter in mid-2017, with a release later in the year. This is a dexterity game with strategy and tactics in which the flicking combines to create a greater war strategy. A fairly large player mat as well as terrain objects are included in the game to create a 3D battlefield above and below the mat (e.g. an object under the mat will create a slope for pieces to "climb," simulating a mountain).
Fun Fact: The prototype mats for Flick Wars are all real earth terrain images that have been color modified.
(Information provided by Dave Killingsworth, owner and designer of SolarFlare Games)
Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion will be on Kickstarter on January 24, 2017. This is a cooperative, push your luck, dice and card game. Work as a team to defeat the aliens before the timer expires.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth says, "This is the same forest as Nightmare Forest: Dead Run and people who keep close watch might notice some alien friends that bear a resemblance to a few of the zombies from the first game. Alien Invasion is an expansion to the Nightmare Forest Universe but a standalone sequel to Dead Run."
Dawn of the Archmage will be on Kickstarter on August 2, 2017. This is a card and dice, small unit skirmish game. Summon your monsters and use combat dice and spells to defeat your enemies. Be the first to collect eight victory points and become the Archmage.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth, "This will be a small unit skirmish game that will play in an hour or so and that is rare but SolarFlare Games will keep our sense of humor and fun we put into all our games. Also, the Dawn universe is connected to the Nightmare Forest universe via dimensional rift."
—Firefly Lasers & Blue Cherry Faerie
Blue Cherry Faerie sells specialty and custom drawstring/dice bags, among other things. Firefly Lasers sells laser cut dice towers.
(Information provided by Mike Selinker, Designer of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy's Mask)
Released in October 2016, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy's Mask takes a simple principle — explore an ancient tomb — and makes it into a mind-bending ride through a fantasy Egyptian setting. This is a fully cooperative standalone game that allows each player to choose their character's class, build a deck of equipment, magic, and allies, and explore dangerous locations as they journey through an exciting fantasy tale. As the adventures continue, players add unique gear and more powerful magic to their decks as they gain incredible powers, all of which will be needed to defeat increasingly more powerful threats. The game starts with an introductory adventure and leads all the way to curse-filled scenarios that will test the skill of even the most hardcore of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game players.
Fun Fact: Mike Selinker says, "There is a puzzle in the game that the Lone Shark Games design team has told nobody about until today."
—Quick Simple Fun Games
(Information provided by Patrick Havert, President of Quick Simple Fun Games)
Hanamikoji was released at SPIEL 2016 and due to be released in the U.S. in December 2016. This is a deep and elegant game for two players in which each player takes the role of a restaurateur in old Japan trying to win the favor and patronage of the local geisha. Sway them to you through strategic offerings of flower cards, which you play through your four different actions each turn. Each action must be taken exactly once each full round. They often allow your opponent to take one or more of the cards you play. Sway four distinct geisha to you or geisha with a combined value of eleven points or more to win.
Similarly, Celestia: A Little Help was released at SPIEL 2016 and due out in the U.S. in December 2016. True to its name, Celestia's first expansion gives players the tools they need to work together when it benefits them. Helper equipment lets passengers contribute to overcome challenges, allowing the crew to explore more of Celestia's magical islands. It also introduces special player powers for each member of the crew, which may be used once per game for different effects. New double equipment cards allow multiple identical threats to be handled at the same time; new hazards allow players that abandon ship too soon to delay or disrupt the voyage.
Fun Fact: From Patrick Havert: "SPIEL 2015: We were going through the media hall, and someone who did not even get a table, but was assigned a window sill, had some games on display. A cute little airship display caught my eye. This game obviously turned out to be Celestia. It was nice stopping by this very strange area, and discovering what turned out to be such a gem."
—The Dice Tower
The Dice Tower (podcast/video reviews) had a booth selling some games and game knickknacks. (I'm guessing there were dice towers.) This photo makes me smile every time I look at it. (I actually had a really cute gif but BGG doesn't like gifs. Boo.)
L to R: Sam Healey, Derek Porter, and Eric Michael Summerer
—Level 99 Games
(Information provided by Brad Talton, President of Level 99 Games)
Witch Hunt was released at BGG.CON. It perfects the social deduction genre by providing skilled players with unique roles and tools that redefine the classic game style found in Werewolf, Mafia, and others. Every player in the game receives a unique special character, separate from their team affiliation. Once players die, they go on to the afterlife as either Angels or Demons and continue to influence the game's outcome.
Tomb Trader is due to be released January 2017. It utilizes negotiation and hidden roles. This is a fast-paced game centered around a group of fake archaeologists. As one of these ne'er-do-wells, your goal is to loot as much as possible from an ancient temple, negotiating the best items for yourself before time runs out.
Fun Fact: From Brad Talton, "Did you know that our fighting board game BattleCON was inspired by Ace of Aces? Ace of Aces and the Lost Words books that followed after it used a pre-defined matrix to determine how combat actions were resolved. I was a big fan of these series and set out to design a combat matrix that would resolve attacks based on arbitrary stats and positioning, rather than hard-coding every possibility in the way these classic combat game-books did."
Key illustration for BattleCON
—Fantasy Flight Games
(Information provided by Elena Christensen, Marketing Writer, Asmodee North America)
Fantasy Flight Games ran demos of Star Wars: Destiny, DOOM: The Board Game, and New Angeles at the convention. Star Wars: Destiny and New Angeles are in stores now, with DOOM: The Board Game being released on December 15, 2016.
Star Wars: Destiny is a collectible dice and card game for two players. In every game of Star Wars: Destiny, you gather your small team of iconic characters and battle to defeat your opponent, using your collection of dice and cards in your deck. The last player with characters left standing wins the game, but to successfully outmaneuver your opponent, you'll need to carefully consider your options and enhance your deck with new dice and cards.
DOOM: The Board Game is a fast-paced board game of tactical combat for 2 to 5 players. You can take on one of two distinct player roles: an elite UAC Marines or the invader player, controlling Hell's most threatening monsters. The game guides players through two cohesive operations, each comprised of six missions. The invader commands their demons to slaughter the soldiers time after time as the marines fight to survive and achieve their unique objectives. The invader's numbers rise throughout the game as they summon more demons, while the marines grow more powerful, picking up weapons and expanding their action deck. Win or lose, DOOM: The Board Game is rich with death and destruction from start to finish.
New Angeles is a board game of corporate greed and machinations for 4 to 6 players set in the Android universe. Players each gain control of one of the world's most powerful mega-corporations, then use their wealth and influence to create more of each. The catch is that while you're doing everything you can to amass greater sums of capital than your rivals, you still have to work with them to keep the city of New Angeles from spiraling into chaos. This leads to a semi-cooperative experience with a more competitive attitude; the heart of the game lies within the tensions you'll navigate as you cut deals and forge temporary alliances, all while you're trying to figure out which player is the Federalist looking to sabotage everyone else.
Fun Fact: From Elena Christensen, "Though the two board games are quite different, this is not the first time Fantasy Flight Games has published a game inspired by id Software's DOOM video game series. Doom: The Boardgame came out in 2004 following the release of Doom 3."
(Information provided by Tony Gullotti, Director of Sales at Arcane Wonders)
Spoils of War has a planned release of June 2017. The game was designed by Bryan Pope, creator of Mage Wars and CEO of Arcane Wonders. In it, players are Vikings splitting up the treasures accumulated after successfully raiding a city. Once strong allies, the Vikings are taken by greed, and soon a heated debate ensues – who will get what spoils? Fortunately, they devised a way to resolve this difficult task many years ago – they will play a game of chance and skill to decide who will claim the best treasures.
In each round of Spoils of War, players roll their dice, and then in turn order, bid a quantity of dice and a value of dice that they believe are in play (e.g. "Seven 5s!"), counting all of the dice rolled by all players in the game. Bidding goes around until a Viking challenges the bid, then all players secretly side with either the Declarer or the Challenger, while making a bet (in gold). The winners of the round get to claim treasures to add to their collection in order of the size of their bet, while those who chose poorly lose their gold and prepare for the next round.
Fun Fact from Tony Gullotti: "Nick Deligaris, when creating the illustrations for the Warrior and Viking characters, used likenesses of Lance Myxter of Undead Viking Videos and Kevin Burkhardsmeier of Board Game Theater. Look forward to a fun promotional video by Lance and Kevin in the future."
(Information provided by Elena Christensen, Marketing Writer, Asmodee North America)
Asmodee featured three titles at BGG.CON: the recently released Inis, Legendary Inventors (released day one of the convention), and Conan, which hit stores at the end of November 2016.
Inis is, at its core, an area control game in which 2 to 4 players struggle to take and maintain control over sanctuaries, territories, and opposing clans. Drafted Action cards come together with territory-based Advantage cards and acquired Epic Tales cards to form a hand that directs every action you are able to take throughout each round. The game also features incredible original art, heroes and legends of Celtic mythology, and an ever-changing game board.
Legendary Inventors combines engine-building and set-collecting mechanisms, giving you numerous paths to take in your reach for victory. Each player has a team of four great minds whose knowledge points they can use to help complete historic inventions. When an invention card is completed, the three players who contributed most to it gain rewards, which will allow them to form collections, improve their inventors' skills, or simply attain straight victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of three ages wins the game.
The Conan board game features an innovative combat system that makes it a novel take on the classic adventure board game genre. One to four heroes push through a variety of scenarios, opposed by the Overlord player and their host of minions. As they do, both sides are able to manipulate their actions by spending or saving their limited supply of energy gems. The game also features seventy-four detailed miniatures and four lavishly illustrated game boards that establish the game's adventures in the sword and sorcery setting of Robert E. Howard's iconic barbarian. Along with the game's combats, the components almost draw your attention away from the clever resource management mechanisms at the heart of the game.
Fun Fact from Elena Christensen: "Inis is often pronounced by players with an 's' sound at the end, though in its native Old Irish, Inis (meaning 'standing in water', or 'island') is actually pronounced with a 'sh' sound, like 'inish'."
—Knight Works, LLC
(Information provided by Don Lloyd, owner of Knight Works)
Hands in the Sea was released in September, 2016. It is a deck building two-player war game about the struggle between Rome and Carthage during the First Punic War. The actions you can perform in the game are determined by the cards in your hand and in your deck. Each of the major powers has its own set of cards, though certain cards are shared by both players. You may increase your range of available actions by drafting new cards and putting them into your discard pile, from which you will eventually draw. Players can purchase strategy cards that represent semi-permanent abilities giving an Empire a special advantage over the normal rules. There are also random events, which happen at the end of every turn. These represent events that either did occur, or plausibly could have occurred, at the time of this conflict. Your ability to overcome various disasters through the course of the game will be crucial to your success. Each player has a fleet that can move to various sea zones on the board. There are advantages to controlling a sea zone, such as interfering with your opponent's ability to supply or reinforce certain areas. The game ends if one of the game ending conditions occurs, ranging from scoring enough VP, to a sudden death victory by capturing your opponent's capital.
Forged in Steel was released in September, 2016. It is a card-driven city building game that focuses on the local history of a steel town from 1890-1920. Cards are played for either points, which can be used to purchase or seize buildings, or for the card's ability. Certain cards have headlines, which introduce an effect on the game board. Players take the role of an influential family and make decisions on building out the city of Pueblo, Colorado. The game is played over three eras, each with a corresponding deck. Players score points based off various buildings such as factories, mines, commercial buildings, and houses. There is also an unrest track in the game, to which players are forced to add cubes when they take certain underhanded actions. Once the track hits 8, a riot occurs; the player with the most cubes is the target. Players also take on various positions such as mayor, mob boss, mining official, etc. This is a highly strategic game providing many interesting decisions.
Fun Fact from Don Lloyd: "Forged in Steel captures the local history behind Pueblo, Colorado where the designer, Wade Broadhead, served as a city planner for many years. Wade's passion as both a historian and a gamer fueled his long road to design the board game."
(Information provided by Elena Christensen, Marketing Writer, Asmodee North America)
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu was released at Gen Con 2016. The game was designed by Chuck D. Yager and Matt Leacock, based on Leacock's Pandemic system. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is a chance to take on the Old Ones, or at least stop them from entering our world, and thus save humanity once again. You will travel across the towns of Arkham, Innsmouth, Dunwich, and Kingsport to share clues with your team, defeat cultists, risk your sanity by encountering Shoggoths, and unleash your mind with powerful relics. It's not going to be easy; sometimes your sanity will hang by a thread, or a die roll. Should you fail in sealing the gates, Evil will finally awaken from its slumber and humanity will slowly succumb to insanity.
A Feast for Odin was released at SPIEL 2016 in Essen, October 13, 2016. In the game, you lead your own Viking clan. Your object will be to raid, pillage, hunt, trade, explore, and migrate to new lands with the goal of becoming the most prosperous clan. Of course, this being an Uwe Rosenberg game, you need to prepare a feast for Odin at the end of each game round (feed!). The game centers around a worker-placement system mixed with a dose of Patchwork-style tile placements. With your Vikings, you will do actions that give you goods, which you can then allocate to your home board or any island you may have migrated to. By cleverly placing your goods tiles, you can increase our revenue.
Some actions require rolling a die. What is great about this system is that even though you might fail your roll, you are not too penalized and do not completely lose your action; in a way, this simulates your clan learning through trial and error. The game has rules to play from 1 to 4 players.
Fun fact from Elena Christensen: "Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is the first themed Pandemic, but it is not the first spinoff. That honor belongs to Pandemic: Contagion, a majority game in which players control a disease whose goal is to infect as many cities as possible. Reign of Cthulhu brings back the cooperative element, but this time against the Old Ones."
—Czech Games Edition (CGE)
(Information provided by Jana Zemánková, Marketing & PR Specialist at CGE)
Adrenaline, designed by Filip Neduk, released at SPIEL 2016 in Essen. It brings classic first-person shooter video games to your gaming table (a Euro-style board game that's a first-person shooter!). It combines resource management and area control mechanisms for the scoring, with no dice! Players must move around the arena, choosing the right guns for the situation, grabbing the ammo and shooting their opponents. When you get shot, you move faster.
Codenames: Pictures pre-released at Gen Con and was officially released during SPIEL 2016 in Essen. This game is the follow up to Codenames from Vlaada Chvátil. Codenames: Pictures contains mind-twisting images that have taken the place of the words. The rules are still the same: teams give 1-word clues for their team to make guesses. It can even be combined with the original.
Fun fact: Filip Neduk, the designer of Adrenaline is also the illustrator of a few images in Codenames: Pictures. For example, the sombrero with the cactus on the top of it, holé!
—Ultra Pro Entertainment, with Jolly Roger Games & PieceKeeper Games
(Information provided by Sean Lashgari, Senior Director Entertainment Division, Ultra Pro Entertainment)
Road Hog debuted as a prototype at Gen Con, to be released Jan 2017, with a soft release in December 2016. This game is under the Jolly Roger Games line and caters to all player types, including social and family. Your objective is simple, be the first player to drive your car from the beginning to the end of the highway. Players lay out square tiles, themed like a highway, and put "traffic cars" on them to complete the set-up. On their turn, a player uses cards and dice either to get ahead of traffic and opponent vehicles or to stop opponents from getting ahead.
Flag Dash pre-released at BGG.CON. In Flag Dash, you play as one of several childhood friends who promised to play their favorite pastime game, Capture the Flag, after they "grew up." Flag Dash takes place over multiple rounds until one team returns home with the opposing team's flag or collects a complete set of flags the opposing characters are wearing. In every round, each player plans two moves in advance, and for each move chooses to move either the runner they control — with a unique special ability — or the defender they share with their teammate.
Fun Fact from Sean Lashgari: "Road Hog designers spent hundreds of hours driving many of the highways and road systems across the United States to give the game as much fun and realism with the cards and dice mechanic – Rule the Road!"
—Victory Point Games
(Information provided by Grant Taylor, Public Relations & Marketing, Victory Point Games)
Twilight of the Gods will be on Kickstarter starting December 27, 2016 with an estimated release date of Q4 2017. It is primarily a two-player game but may be played with up to six. It is an expandable card game from designer Chris Kluwe in which each player takes the role of one of four gods: Hera, Mars, Enlil, or Reader of Portents. Players construct decks from different factions to use against their opponent(s), casting spells and summoning mythological monsters with special abilities to attack their opponent's deck. Fortifications and Intrigues can be played to bolster your side with recurring effects. Players can even use their god's single-use ability to affect the battle. The first person to run out of cards in their deck is defeated. Creatures and spells are cast by using resources you put into play. However, these resources are only available by trading the cards in your hand with your opponent at the beginning of your turn. Players will need to be wary, as these traded resources can also be traps with negative effects, which can be sprung on your opponent using other card abilities.
High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel was released November 2016. It is a trial simulation game from designer Alex Berry. The game is set in 1885, with one player playing the defense lawyer of Louis Riel and the other playing as the prosecution. Over the course of five rounds, players learn information about the jurors for the trial, dismiss those that aren't favorable to their side, and use cards to influence the remaining jury's final verdict. Players can influence different aspects of the jurors to be more favorable to them, appealing to their religion, language, or occupation. At the end of the game, you tally all the aspects of the jurors and if the total is 100 or more, the prosecution wins. If it is less than 100, the defense wins.
Fun Fact from Grant Taylor: "Victory Point Games was started eight years ago but it didn't begin in an office space. Its first games were printed right in CEO Alan Emrich's home attic! Using only desktop printers, he printed his student's game projects as a way for them to begin getting experience with publishing. After initial success and requests for more of the titles, VPG was officially established as a company and began publishing games in its own warehouse on an industrial printer."
–Red Raven Games
(Information provided by Andrew Frick, Marketing and Game Development at Red Raven Games)
Islebound: Metropolis Expansion will be released on January 25, 2017. This expansion to Islebound includes one new deck of Metropolis buildings. With this expansion, players can buy buildings from a second card row above the standard building cards. Metropolis buildings are often more powerful than the standard buildings and are worth more points. Players must already own one or more standard building cards for every Metropolis building they wish to add to their city.
Near and Far will be released on May 3, 2017. This is a standalone sequel to Above and Below. Near and Far includes a spiral bound atlas of eleven maps, each of which is a separate game. Players recruit adventures and visit towns, traveling across one map per adventure, and forming a travel campaign through the atlas. The game includes four different game modes and eight unique characters. Each decision you make in the story leads you down a another path providing almost endless replayability.
Fun Fact: Three of the adventurers that can be recruited in Near and Far are modeled after:
• Ryan Laukat, co-founder and president of Red Raven Games
• Malorie, co-founder and co-owner of Red Raven Games
• Brenna Asplund who does PR, writing, editing, conventions, and shipping
L to R: Ryan Laukat, Malorie Laukat, Brenna Asplund as characters in Near and Far
—Formal Ferret Games
(Information provided by Gil Hova, Game Designer and Owner, Formal Ferret Games)
The Networks sold out at BGG.CON; a reprint is expected in stores in February 2017.
Wordsy is planned to be released in July 2017. It is a game of longer words. Over the seven rounds of the game, you are trying to find the single best word on the board. Unlike other word games, you don't need all the letters in your word to be available, but you'll want to use as many as you can. So go ahead and use those really long words; they may just pay off.
Fun fact from Gil Hova: "Wordsy emerged from my attempt to develop my first game, Prolix, into a mobile app. I was looking for mechanisms to streamline, and I realized I had developed an entirely different game! I can't promise a Wordsy mobile app (turns out mobile apps are hard), but I used a lot of the code I wrote to make @WordsyBot, a Twitter bot that sends out a Wordsy board about every 30 minutes."
Engage your skills at the Puzzle Hunt, play games in the Spiel-a-Thon charity fund raiser (and maybe win prizes), if you are alone or attending for the first time, meet up with others at the Orphans and First-Timers Meet-Up, run the bridge of a star ship with Artemis, play a little Rock Band, see your favorite podcaster at the PodCasters Panel and Q&A, participate in the Game Show (sponsored by USAopoly)…and the list goes on!
You never know what you'll find roaming the halls
W. Eric Martin
• Yes, I have still a few more game overview videos from SPIEL 2016, such as this one in which designer Steffen Benndorf explains The Game: Extreme from Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag. What's more, he talks about his design philosophy in general and how practically every publisher in Germany refused to publish Qwixx.
• Setting up interviews at SPIEL 2016 can be an interesting challenge. I didn't have many open slots remaining when Giochi Uniti contacted me about interviewing designer Christian Giove about Guilds, and Giove was arriving by train in the middle of the fair, so in the end I caught pretty much right when he arrived at the show and he had to jump on camera immediately. No rest for the creative!
• French publisher/distributor Morning (né Morning Players) had a few recently released and upcoming games on display at SPIEL 2016, two of which I actually recorded previews for at Gen Con 2016. Still need to post those, too! Here, though, is an overview of IKAN, in which one player builds a labyrinth while others watch, after which the labyrinth is hidden and players have a limited amount of time to find the items they need, locate the treasure, and slay the monster that awaits...somewhere.
• In a world filled with pattern-recognition+slapping games, Gobbit Angry Birds from Morning is another one. I need to do an overview of these types of games at some point as I tend to love them, but other players fit them hit or miss and examining their differences might prove interesting.
• Orhan Ertughrul's Creature College from his own Happy Otter Games was listed on the SPIEL 2015 Preview as an item being, well, previewed at that show, but I didn't know it would be present at SPIEL 2016. Turns out that I saw Orhan looking friendly and inviting in the HOG booth after I filmed something else nearby, so I took a seat with him to get an overview of this game. Being friendly and inviting will do that for you sometimes!
W. Eric Martin
So I was cranking along with the game overview videos from SPIEL 2016, publishing them at a decent clip right up to the point that I left for BGG.CON 2016 in mid-November, then I fell through a hole and forgot about the dozen or so that still remained. Thankfully, most of these videos are for titles that haven't yet been released, which means they still qualify as preview videos. Yay!
Today we have a quartet of previews for games coming from LudiCreations, two of which originated as self-published designs from Todd Sanders' Air and Nothingness Press, as was the case with They Who Were 8, which LudiCreations released in a new version at SPIEL 2016. Sanders' Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden Game is a solitaire game that mimics the look of a 19th century Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog.
• The other Sanders title coming from LudiCreations is IUNU, with "Iunu" being the original name of one of the oldest cities in ancient Egypt, a city that the Greeks renamed Heliopolis. In this set-collection game, 2-4 players return to those ancient times when everyone worried about collecting the right cards to make a name for themselves.
• Alexandria from Babis Giannios has an entrancing setting: Players are characters in the Royal Library of Alexandria at the moment that it's started to burn, and each character is concerned about different things that will drive their actions during the subsequent game. One might try to help the others, whether they want help or not, while another wants to save particular rooms. The library burns over the course of the game, and when you all perish in the final room, whoever has done the best job will win (but still be dead).
• Long Live the Queen, first released in Japan by Circle 3D6 in 2014 as Save the Queen, is a two-player game in which you are neither saving the queen nor helping her live a long time, but are instead trying to place your own butt on the throne as her successor. To do this, you need to collect might, wisdom, and wealth tokens — three of each — or else assassinate the other candidate, who happens to be your sister and a fellow princess. Them's the breaks, sis!
Long Live the Queen will be released in two versions, one using the original Japanese art and another using dieselpunk art and a setting to match. Why two versions? Because the LudiCreations team likes dieselpunk and wanted to place this game in that setting, while also acknowledging that some percentage of the audience would want the original look. Which one will prove more popular? Give us twelve months for publication and sales, and then we'll have the data on hand.
BGG.CON was held November 16-20, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport, Texas. This will be the location for the next two years. In 2019, BGG.CON will move to the Hyatt Regency Dallas where everything will be about 50% bigger, including the exhibit hall (one room), ballroom space, hotel rooms, and number of attendees!
Fun Fact: The number of attendees for 2016 was about 2,950.
Check-in was greatly improved this year, thanks to a few changes. The opening line was basically done in one hour, with around 1,000 people checked-in. The main improvements included eight check-in stations rather than 4–6 and raffle tickets being pre-separated (with half added to badges).
Fun fact: The first people in line for registration were there starting around 1:00 a.m., but once registration was opened (a little before 10:00 a.m.) no one stood in line for more than 35-45 minutes.
Everyone received a copy of Dragon Punch from Level 99 Games as well as promos for Tipping Cows (Columbia Games) and Abandon Planet (Orange Machine Games). Everyone also received one game from each of the following:
Large game choice:
• Mage Wars Academy (Arcane Wonders)
• Terra (Bézier Games)
• Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles or Wrath of the Righteous (Paizo Publishing)
• City Hall, Captains of Industry, or AquaSphere (Tasty Minstrel Games)
Medium game choice:
• Space Sheep (Stronghold Games)
• Strategy & Tactics Press Magazine Wargames (Decision Games)
• Valdora (Funagain Games)
• Hold Your Breath, Get Bit, Walk the Plank bundle (Mayday Games)
• Bookmaker or Kragmortha or The Big Idea (Passport Game Studios)
Small game choice:
• Airships or Robber Knights (Funagain Games)
• Mini Meteor or White Elephant or Lemonade Stand (Mayday Games)
• Tapple (USAopoly)
• HEX CASTERS (Hasbro)
A special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing much of the information above.
I'd like to give a shout out to Team Geek 2016. You may read about all the wonderful things they do in this thread.
Once again Rio Grande Games sponsored the Grapevine Shuttle, making trips to local restaurants and stores free to convention attendees.
This year I went with my buds from The Dice Tower (joined by a few other friends) for dinner at Babe's Chicken Dinner House. Just thinking about those chicken fingers is making my mouth water – probably the best I've ever had. The batter is crispy and light, the chicken tender and juicy. The food is served family-style. Everything was tasty – green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttery biscuits (added honey to half – it's good both ways), creamed corn, and the dessert – oh my! I had the banana pudding; it was fantastic!
The Dice Tower and friends at Babe's
Most days I had breakfast at Jacob's Spring Grille, the hotel restaurant. This year the buffet was reduced to $12.95 for attendees (normally $19.95). The only difference is that they don't have the omelet bar, but there's still quite a lot of food from which to choose, including steel-cut oatmeal and toppings, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast/pancakes, a variety of pastries and breads, fruit, cheese, and usually some type of potatoes. (I'm probably forgetting a few things, too.)
Another annual tradition is dinner at Mr. G's Steak House, also in the hotel. The food is usually pretty good, but they always seem to mess up something. This year the waiter had to take the checks back four times (yes, FOUR) before they were done correctly. (My husband and I had dinner with friends Ted and Toni Alspach, Bézier Games: two couples = two checks… we didn't think it would be that challenging.)
This year's special guests were: Matt Leacock, Eric Lang, Rich Sommer, and Rob Daviau. There was a special Q & A panel held Saturday evening with Matt, Eric, and Rob. Maybe someone can leave a comment on how this was… I didn't attend; it was dinnertime for me.
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has some information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 2, 2016).
1. Flag Dash
2. Terraforming Mars
3. Captain Sonar
4. Nightmare Forest: Dead Run
5. No Respect: Rodney Dangerfield's Game
6. Fabled Fruit
8. Cottage Garden
9. Aeon's End
10. Kodama: The Tree Spirits
The following is a list of games that were available in the Hot Games area, including the number of copies. Information provided by John Mellby.
2 - A Feast for Odin
2 - Great Western Trail
2 - Terraforming Mars
2 - Cottage Garden
1 - Inis
2 - Oracle of Delphi
1 - Captain Sonar
2 - The Colonists
2 - Railroad Revolution
2 - Adrenaline
2 - Fabled Fruit
1 - Key to the City - London
1 - Mechs vs. Minions
1 - Power Grid: The Card Game
1 - Lorenzo il Magnifico
1 - La Granja: No Siesta
1 - Cry Havoc
1 - Fields of Green
1 - Dream Home
1 - First Class: Unterwegs im Orient Express
1 - Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
The BGG.CON Game Library contains 5409 games, and here's a list of the titles that were added from the SPIEL 2016 convention in October. The full collection is listed here. This year there were 11,815 checkouts of 2,093 unique titles.
Here are the top ten games check out preceded by number of checkouts. It does not include the games in the Hot Games, which were checked out once at the beginning of the convention. Click here for the full list. (Information posted by Scott Alden.)
120 Fabled Fruit
86 Dream Home
80 Potion Explosion
71 Mystic Vale
71 Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic
69 Ice Cool
66 7 Wonders Duel
65 Pandemic Iberia
This year was the 10th anniversary of the BGG.CON Math Trade. A Math Trade is a trade between a many people at once, using an algorithm to decide who gets what. Games are traded 1 to 1. There is no risk as traders get to decide their preferred games in the trade – at worst keeping the game they started with. This year 96 people traded at least one game (more may have participated) and 430 games were traded. Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Virtual Flea Market
There were 7,124 games listed this year for the Virtual Flea Market. According to organizer Michael Schwerdtfeger over 3,700 games were sold (it's difficult to get an exact count for various reasons). The nice feature about this is that the games are pre-sold, so you only have to bring the games that sold to the event! No wasted space.
Board Game Bazaar (Formerly the Flea Market)
Stay tuned (BGG.CON 2016 Part 2) for information on the Bazaar, including a video!
In one of the exhibit halls there were four booths that would change each day, differentiated by red curtain backdrops. Mainly, these were reserved for small independent game companies. When at BGG.CON, be sure to stop here every day to see what's new.
AssassinCon was a Gen Con 2016 release. It is a game for 4 to 6 players, although the sweet spot is 5 players (with less than 6 players there are robot players - random movement for those characters). The object of the game is to get the most points. The board shows a convention map layout. Each player is given a target card and a deck of movement cards. The movement is hidden - each player plays a card determining direction of movement, which are shuffled before being displayed and the standing character tokens moved to their new locations. Players move from location to location looking for their target, while trying to avoid being a target themselves. Booths/rooms can give a player special abilities. For example, the sniper booth allows you to target characters in three other booths (i.e. as if they are in the same location). Players get one temporary point for identifying their target (plus they get their target's target card, i.e. a new target), and two points for correctly figuring out who is targeting them plus any temporary points they had. A round ends in the unlikely case where the movement decks run out, if there are only two players left, or if someone attempts to identify their assassin (right or wrong). Temporary points become permanent and a new round begins. When one player gets five permanent points they win.
Fun Fact: At BGG.CON, Mayday ran a live AssassinCon game with about 95 participants who signed up pre-con and were give ribbons. They were randomly assigned a target and given a card that looks like an oversized card from the game. If they found their target, the target signs that card, then they give that player their target card (the target can no longer participate but keeps their score). The person with the highest score at the end was the winner. 1st place received $100 to Fun Again and some Mayday goodies, 2nd place $50, 3rd $35.
Update on the new Mayday Crokinole boards: The new release is expected in February 2017. It will have a wax finish rather than shellac, which allows the wooden disks to glide more easily across the board. The Kickstarter price is $99 plus $15 shipping. MSRP will be $145.
The Crokinole carrying case retails for $50. I highly recommend it; it's a beautiful padded case with carrying strap.
—Thames & Kosmos
Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, the first full board expansion to be released in the U.S., came out in November 2016. It includes four new legends, continuing the story of the original heroes. It also includes travel by sea. Players can customize their ship during the game. Ship movement is influenced by weather. There is a new character, the bard. The characters are in a new land; they want to spread their fame. Winning depends on how successful they are, as measured by the bard's faith in them. Their success is contingent upon the bard spreading word of their victories (tracked on the newly introduced Hall of Fame section of the board).
Fun Fact: The boards for the Legends of Andor base game and the expansion, Journey to the North, line up perfectly with each other. Included in the Companion Guide rulebook with the game is a link to a free download, a 70-minute atmospheric soundtrack to enhance game play.
Colony was released November 2016. This is an engine-building, dice-as-resources game. It comes with 28 different sets of variable cards, 7 of which are used in a game "making it infinitely re-playable" (according to owner Ted Alspach). There is a free app available for download that helps you customize your game set-up.
New York Slice is due to be released March 2017. It is a reimagining of Jeffery D. Allers' Piece O' Cake using pizza slices instead of pie/cake. A few additional elements give the game more depth than the original. One of those new additions is a set of chalkboard-style "Today's Specials" that provides unique variations on the standard "I cut, you choose" game play of the original, i.e., these are small chalkboards that may be added to a portion of slices. New York Slice also has combo slices (with two types of pizza on one slice), nasty, nasty anchovies, and even a supreme slice.
The images from New York Slice may be prototype images; they could change with final publication
Fun Fact: During development, Ted and Toni Alspach ordered dozens of uncut pizzas of all the types represented in the game in order to use them for the prototype in testing the game — except for anchovy slices because that's just gross.
—Daedalus Productions Inc.
Daedalus makes beautiful wooden inserts for game boxes. The stained wood adds a nice touch. The internal boxes fit perfectly and organize the pieces well.
Ben Hillyard, Daedalus Productions, Inc.
(Information provided by Andrea Elliott, HABA USA E-Commerce Manager)
Meduris (European release: SPIEL 2016, North American release: BGG.CON 2016) is a medieval-inspired worker placement, resource management game designed by Stefan Dorra & Ralf zue Linde, illustrated by Miguel Coimbra of "7 Wonders". As a medium-weight game, this is HABA's heaviest release to date. Players compete to make offerings to the gods in order to score victory points. You collect resources depending on how high your worker is in each meeple tower. Players also compete to build huts; they do this by paying resources. Each additional adjacent hut adds one of each resource to the cost of newly placed huts. The more and more huts that are built/placed, the more expensive the real estate. Scoring works in a similar manner, as hut construction, by paying the druid resources as he moves around the board. The player who strategically builds their huts and temples, while conserving enough resources to use in the final round of offerings, will win the game.
Picassimo (European release: SPIEL 2016, North American release: January/February 2017), designed by Carlo A. Rossi and illustrated by Christian Fioret, is a crazy twist on the traditional party drawing game. It includes 900 terms to be drawn and 3 levels of playing difficulty. Players simultaneously draw a secret term from their cards; they must use the whole drawing surface to complete their drawing. When only one person still drawing, a 3-2-1 countdown starts; when the countdown ends, they must stop drawing and put down their marker. The player who finished drawing first turns over a "transformation" card, which will show everyone how to re-arrange their drawing board tiles. Once boards have been re-arranged according to the card, in turn order players reveal their artwork to the other players. They are trying to guess the original word drawn before the artwork was re-arranged. If guessed correctly, artist and guesser will receive points. After all drawings have been revealed and guessed upon, a new round begins. After 7 rounds of play, the artist with the most points is the winner.
Fun Facts: HABA has more than 15 game and book designers who develop over 450 new products each year. Their home factory in Germany produces over 1,800,000 dice every year!
Jumbo Jets (Jet Set Expansion 2) was pre-released at SPIEL 2016 and now at BGG.CON; it is expected in stores early in 2017. It includes four expansion modules that add jumbo jets, hotels, charter flights, and city bonuses. It also includes more flight cards — completing the full collection of combinations — as well as both easier and more difficult Final Flight cards (12 of each).
A jet and cute little clear meeples from Jumbo Jets
Fun Fact: Kris Gould, company owner and game designer: "The Wattsalpoag logo used to have a squirrel with a question mark above his head, looking at the name 'Wattsalpoag'. (Wondering what the heck it means.) As a tip of the hat to this original unofficial mascot, we had to include a squirrel as one of the animals on the dice in A Fistful of Penguins."
Pack O Game Set 2 will be released in Q2 2017. As with set 1, this set will include eight new games:
• Spy - a 10-minute table-less deduction/memory game (i.e. it may be played without a table!), great for standing in line.
• Rum - a push your luck, set collection bottle game with a twist.
• Orc - a 2-player hand management territory battle game that you can play in 5 minutes.
• Dig - a dog-themed pick up and deliver game.
• Gym - a team game in which players create teams and compete in gym class events.
• Boo - a 2-player game with an Othello-like mechanism, crossed with Super Mario Brothers "Boo" character.
• Box - an abstract game, optionally playable in teams, in which players try to create the largest squares they can with their secret color (a square is defined by their color being in the four corners). Players score for the number of dots along one edge of each square.
• Sow - a gardening game with a Mancala-like mechanism, for two to four players.
Fun Fact: The chocolate brown lab in Dig was inspired by designer and owner Chris Handy's dog Rex. He has been immortalized in the game as a cartoon; his photo dedication can be found in the rules.
Dastardly Dirigibles released in July 2016. It is a steampunk airship building card game where players are trying to build a matching airship to score the most points. Each player has a set of plans, playmat, for their airship with 7 spaces for cards, e.g. lift engine, nose cone, tail. Players try to collect and place like parts for their dirigible; there are 8 varieties plus 2 wild. Whenever a player decides to add a part to their ship, all players must simultaneously play that part if they have one, in that slot, replacing a card if there is one already there. A round ends when one player finishes their dirigible. Players score 2 points for matching parts plus one point per wild (other types of parts do not score). The player with the most points after 3 rounds is the winner.
Castle Panic: Engines of War was released November 23, 2016. This is the third expansion to Castle Panic. It adds an engineer who uses resource cards to build new weapons and defenses, new monsters, and siege engines.
Fun Fact: On the back of the Dastardly Dirigibles there is a Handbook of Victorian Insults: "In anticipation of your rivalry, the Professor has provided this handy reference guide of stinging insults, biting terms, and vengeful sayings. Use them against your adversaries as you will." For example, gormless means lacking any common sense. Justin De Witt, the Chief Creative Officer and designer of Dastardly Dirigibles, came up with the idea and did the research.
1754 Conquest: The French and Indian War is due to be released in December for preorders, in stores May 2017. It completes the Birth of America trilogy, which includes 1775 Rebellion: The American Revolution and 1812: Invasion of Canada. These strategy games are easy to learn, educational (some included teaching books), and fun to play.
878 Vikings - Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in late December 2016. This is the first game in the Birth of Europe series. It has the same game mechanisms as the Birth of America series. There is always about a 5% change in each game, which gives them an individual/unique feel.
Fun Fact: Academy Games newest Conflict of Heroes Q & A is in section 42. There are lots of funny bios on their website – about half true and half false; they leave it to the readers to figure out which is which.
Tiny Epic Quest will be released Q3 2017. This is the fifth installment in the Tiny Epic series. It is a puzzle type game, reminiscent of the old RPG video games e.g. Zelda and Dragon Quest. It features ITEMeeples, which are configurable meeples. You can equip the meeples with items such as swords, staffs, shields, etc. The puzzle aspect comes into play with quest cards, each with some map configuration that players need to meet with their colored ITEMeeples. If successful, the player gains the quest card, which is worth victory points plus an item to equip or some advantage. Points may also be gained from slaying goblins, learning spells, and acquiring legendary items. The player with the most points at the end of five rounds is the winner.
Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea will be launching on Kickstarter on January 26, 2017. This is a 4X game, with elements of area control, resource management, and engine building. It is Gamelyn Games first game with miniatures - lots of miniatures! In some ways it's the "grownup" version of Tiny Epic Kingdoms.
Fun Fact: When CEO and founder Michael Coe had to come up with the name of his company, he knew exactly what he wanted to use. During his junior high/high school years, he was dungeon master for the RPGs he ran, but more than that he loved creating worlds. So he made up his own scenarios, featuring an NPC he named Gamelyn. This became his moniker; as he grew older, he wrote about the character in a screenplay created in film school, and finally used it as the name of his company.
USAopoly is mainly a licensing company.
Munchkin: X-Men edition was just announced. It is due to come out in March 2017. Takes place in Marvel's X-Men universe. The game will include 128 cards, 4 role cards with plastic trackers, and a die. Each player will take on the role of a character.
Fun Fact: Their first game, 23 years ago, was La Jolla Monopoly.
Bonus Fun Fact: The Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle game has ages 11+ on the box because that is the age First Year students are allowed to attend Hogwarts.
Broken Token makes lovely wooden organizers for game boxes. The perfectly fitting inserts even hold the upgraded pieces, such as those shown for Scythe below.
Greg Spence, Broken Token, showing Scythe box organizer
Succession! was released October 2016. It is a 10-minute card game that plays up to six people, using a rock-paper-scissors mechanism. It is not a party game, but bluffing and memory are involved. The small size makes it really portable.
Fun Fact: Succession is based on a German game that CEO Dave Ferguson's girlfriend really enjoyed. He considers it his love-letter to her.
—Two Lanterns Games
Agility was released in May 2016. It is a two-player game about adopting and training dogs to run agility courses. It uses an action rondel. The card you play on your turn moves the action marker on the rondel, landing on the action you perform and giving you a training resource(s) (choice of two types). There is also a drafting element to the game when choosing courses (each player will draft three during the game, out of six). The first player to complete their courses wins the game.
An expansion to Morels, to commentate the fifth anniversary of the game, is being planned for Kickstarter in early 2017 to be released in late 2017. They are planning to add action cards, character cards, and some additional means to manipulate the forest(s).
Fun Fact: One of the cards in Agility features a living room, decorated for Christmas, with a puppy in a gift basket. It was Two Lanterns Games President Brent Povis' unrealized dream gift as a child. He gave the artist a photo of his living room and the scene come to life in the art.
—Trader's Luck Games
Star Traders will be released early 2017. The game got its start as a Steve Jackson first and only release in their Asimov line. It is a pick up and deliver game, reminiscent of Merchant of Venus, with a streamlined board and duel purpose cards. Anyone can pick up a particular good but the first person to deliver gets extra points for each person they beat. There will be one contract per player available during the game, when one gets filled another replaces it. There are 5 actions on a turn, tracked by dice (which is also what is rolled when you decide to move). There are also Personality cards that give abilities to each player.
Fun Fact: The names of the worlds in Star Traders are creator/company President David Ladyman's favorite sci-fi authors. There are also a lot of other references to sci-fi fiction, including movies and TV. Ryan Archer, the graphic designer, drew images for the back of the money denominations as follows:
1 features a play-tester, Lucas Coyne (also the name of the 1)
2 shows a dragon, honoring Dragon's Lair store in Texas (play-testers)
5 professor Meeple, from the Malted Meeple store in Ohio (play-testers)
10 coin name is Marty, honoring the designer's wife (Martha)
20 Zelda, the graphic designer's dog, is featured
Steve Jackson and a few others are featured on the cards as Personalities.
—North Star Games
Evolution: Climate was released November 2016. It is a big-box standalone game that introduces climate into the ecosystem. This is a gamer's game, a heavier game in the realm of Terra Mystica or Agricola weight-wise. It is a conflict driven game (predators), very rich in theme. The concept is adaption - staying one step ahead of changes.
A super hero themed version of Wits & Wagers is planned to be on Kickstarter in March 2017. Each player will have a superhero/villain, with two minions and a superpower that affects game play in some way. For example the Wizard of Odds can switch around two odds after everyone has placed their bets.
Concept drawings for Super Hero Wits (working title)
Fun Fact: Evolution is currently being used at the University of Oxford in an evolutionary biology class. Four scientific advisors and nine game developers helped in the design of Climate.
Shadowrift, the updated second edition, was released at BGG.CON. This is a fully updated version including new artwork, streamlined rules, and now a board, which makes setup much easier. Some of the cards have also been tweaked, e.g., rules clarifications and keyword updates.
Black Orchestra was released at BGG.CON. It is a historically accurate cooperative game based on the plot to kill Hitler. Each player character was based on an actual person and member of the conspiracy. The game plays out over seven rounds, each of which has an event deck containing events based on actual occurrences. Players need to monitor their suspicion and motivation levels in order to pull off plots to wipe out the Nazi leader and his deputies by collecting items and cards.
Fun Fact: Cody Jones, Project Manager: "Black Orchestra was called 'Hitler Must Die' until very late in the game's development, becoming 'Black Orchestra' only weeks before the game was officially announced."
—Vile Genius Games
Thwarted! is due to be released end of January 2017. It is a card game where players each take on the roll of a super villain whose goal is to take out the superheroes. Each super hero has a box of requirements, in the upper left corner of the card, for capturing them. For example, two fire cards may take out a particular superhero. A superhero may have immunities, e.g. to cold cards. The interesting twist is that if another player plays a block card to stop them from attacking, the attacking player gains the block card, which gains them an advantage in the game.
Tales from the Taverns: Legends of Goblins Past, is currently on Kickstarter, with a planned release of August 2017. Each player gets two actions per turn: play a card on their play mat, draw two cards, pay a gold to get a bardic talent (i.e. extra win conditions for victory points), or beg for gold. Players start with a hand of five cards (they must use an action to acquire more). They are building a tableau grid of four stories, each with three parts (hook, rising action, climax) plus an epic card (this is automatic when a story is completed). Stories may be interrupted by other players. A deck of 10 candle cards is built at the start of the game to track rounds. There are four versions of each card. Candle cards may have good or bad events on them, such as all expenses are doubled this round or no interrupts may be played this round. The game ends after 10 rounds; the player with the highest score wins.
Fun Fact: Lyft and Uber have a group of "prestigious members" (informally named the Rideshare Brotherhood by Stephan Brissaud, Vice President of GAMA and COO of iELLO). It includes Mark Siemens, CEO of Vile Genius Games, and Jeff Bourbeau, freelance developer and designer (a literal Jack-of-All-Trades).
Mark Sierens, Uber driver on Halloween
Legends of the Searobbers (working title) is a scenario-based campaign-like expansion containing three modules for Catan: Seafarers. Games evolve as they are played, e.g., characters you acquire in one scenario you can keep with you for the next scenario. Scenarios are heavily objective based and depending on how a scenario evolves may change how the next one is played. Each has a different board set-up for Catan with Seafarers, with new components. The game is due to be released Q2 2017.
Fun Fact: The Crop Trust is an international organization whose goal is to safeguard crop diversity by maintaining a vault of seeds and banks throughout the world. Catan Studio is working with the Crop Trust to create Catan scenario for the base game with "pro-seeds" to go to the Crop Trust.
—Grey Fox Games
London Dread had a limited release in August 2016, with a full release November 2016 (the 2nd printing expected December 2016). It is a Victorian era cooperative horror game with elements of real-time programming. The publisher describes it as Arkham Horror meets Space Alert. Each player is an investigator participating in a story where they are attempting to defeat an antagonist. There are four stories in the box, creating one encompassing story arc. The stories are highly re-playable.
Champions of Midgard: Valhalla, an expansion for Champions of Midgard, is due to be released Q1 2017. It adds a new dice type, new cards, new monsters, a new leader, and two new boards, one of which allows players to fight new monsters, the other which allows players to upgrade their Viking clan or Viking leader, creating asymmetry between players.
Fun Fact: In London Dread there is a dread card called The Black Cat. It is more powerful than a cat has any right to be. Initially the difficulty stat was a misprint, but the designer decided to keep it as a way to troll the developer.
Pyramid Arcade released November 2016. It contains 22 games: 20 designed by Andrew Looney, 1 by Kristin Looney, and 1 by John Cooper. The game contains 90 pyramids (3 trios of 10 different colors) - the largest set of pyramids to date. It contains 8 mini game boards, 1 folding game board, 2 deluxe plastic game boards, 9 dice, 3 various decks of cards, 1 drawstring bag, a turn token, and a large colorful rulebook. One of the decks of cards has one card per game, each with a short description, picture, and summary of game attributes - simple/medium/complex, fast/medium/long, number of player, and time to play. It makes it easy to select a game to play.
Better with Bacon, an expansion pack to Just Desserts, has a planned release of January 2017. It is a set collection game. You win by collecting 3 suits (colors) or 5 different colors of "customers" that you attract by fulfilling their orders. Better with Bacon adds a new suit (brown); it is a 10 card pack with both new desserts and new customers.
Fun Fact: Kristin, Andy, Andy's brother Richard, a family friend Gina, and customer service person Alison are all featured on customer cards in Just Desserts. At LooneyCon, their first convention held in July 2016, they had a Just Desserts Cosplay Contest where people were asked to dress as characters from the game. Alison dressed as her character, Nature Girl, but lost to a very young girl also portraying Nature Girl.
—Black Locust Games
(Information provided by Casey Willett, Black Locust Games)
The Opulent was released in November 2016. The Opulent is a 1-4 player cooperative game set during 1920's prohibition. Each player operates a station of the speakeasy that has a separate mini-game and mechanisms from the rest of the stations (Doorman, Band, Bar, Club Manager). Together, these stations try to provide a night of glitz and glamour to visiting patrons in hopes of parting them from their hard earned money, all the while trying to avoid drawing the attention of federal prohibition agents that are tasked with shutting down the club. The goal is to have enough money at the end of the game to pay for operating costs so that you can stay in business. The game includes 10 scenarios spanning 1920-1929, which can be played as individual gaming sessions or linked together as a progressive campaign.
Fun fact: All The Opulent patrons are named after the great grandparents of each model [who posed for the game art] as a way of honoring the family lineages that lived during the highs and lows of the roaring 20's!
Nawakwa is slated for a Q1 2017 Kickstarter launch. It is a 2-4 player game where players are young members of a native American Indian tribe on their first hunt as a trial of manhood. Players turn in a set of cards in exchange for a hunting opportunity card from the various animals that can be hunted in the region. Totems can be found in the hunting region, which grant players additional information about the region or give other abilities. Wild cards make turning in sets easier but also accelerate the progression of winter, which ends the game. Once all the animals have migrated or hibernated out of the region, points are tallied and the player with the highest score wins.
Fun fact: Translated, Nawakwa means "in the middle of the forest."
—5th Dimension Games, Inc.
(Information provided by Mitchell Whittier, Marketing and Sales, 5th Dimension Games, Inc.)
Budō is a mixed martial arts card game that challenges each player to manage a dojo of martial arts skills while striving to knockout their opponent. This side-scrolling turn-based strategic fighting game requires players to adapt their character's mat position and craft a deck of attack and defense skills. Learn to manage a dojo in ten minutes then spend a lifetime mastering the martial way.
The Budō expansion, coming in 2017, will feature Capoeira, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, and Krav Maga. The expansion is designed to play as a stand-alone game or to be integrated with the base game, which contains Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Tae Kwon Do. Whether playing with the expansion, the original or both, Budō provides the opportunity to create a truly mixed martial arts gaming experience. Select your favorite skills from any and all the characters to create a custom mixed martial arts character.
Fun Fact: Karate and Tae Kwon Do feature the images of two of the 5th Dimension Games founders. Andrew Thomasson, game designer, posed for all the Karate skills and Mitchell Whittier, lead play-tester, posed for the Tae Kwon Do moves.
(Information provided by Adam Growden, Administration Assistant, Devir Americas)
Barcelona: The Rose of Fire will release in January 2017. It is a thematic game in which the players take turns constructing buildings and finishing city blocks over five phases. These buildings all have the ability to employ a different number of workers. The player will compare these workers to the current immigration rate and gain a number of striking workers in the Raval. Workers on strike increase the unrest in the city causing problems for the player who places them there, as well as triggering events that affect everyone in the game. At the end of each phase, players will collect special popularity cards depending on their success in the previous round. These popularity cards contain many famous buildings from Barcelona, such as the Sagrada Familia, which will have special abilities not seen on the base cards. Barcelona is a Euro game with many different moving pieces requiring careful management of worker unrest, player prestige, and long term planning to win.
Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft debuted at Origins in 2016. It is a quick set collection, worker placement game for 2 players, easy to learn but with enough depth and re-playability to keep it interesting. Players take on the roles of Sherlock and Mycroft, collecting investigation tokens to get them the most clues. They use characters from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to help them along the way by providing investigation tokens, ways to find clues, or even ways to steal clues from their opponent. After seven days of investigations, the player with the most clues wins the case.
Fun Fact: During the conception of the original idea behind Barcelona, Devir chose neutral Italian designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello in order to avoid letting the political leanings of local Spanish designers influence the game design process.
(Information provided by Randall Ford, Cryptozoic Entertainment)
Poker Assault released just before BGG.CON. There are four factions in the game. Each team has its own custom suit theme and artwork. Play any deck versus any other deck, or even 3- and 4-player variants. Several cards in each deck have bonus abilities that can aid you while assaulting your opponent, or defending against an assault. Additionally, if you can craft a Straight, Flush, Full House, or Four-of-a-Kind, you will earn a Power Card. These unique cards give you new strategies to pursue. With your initial hand of five cards, likely you aren't going to have much of a poker hand. But by playing only one card at a time, and drawing a new card from your deck after each play, you can slowly build up to something great. How great depends upon how risky you want to get. Craft a hand of at least a pair, and your assault is underway. Now your opponent must block your cards using the cards in their hand. The defending player likewise plays only one card at a time and draws a card from their deck after each play. To block an assaulting card, match the value (2 to Ace) or play a card of the same suit (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade), but with a higher value. Each assaulting card that gets through knocks your opponent's hit points down by one. Bring your opponent's health to zero to win.
Spyfall 2 has a planned release of Q1 2017. It is an easy-to-learn card game of bluffing, questions, answers, and suspicion. At the start of each round, players receive a secret card letting them know where they are; except one player receives the Spy card instead of a location. The Spy doesn't know where he is, but wins the round if he can figure it out before he blows his cover. Players then start asking each other questions during the 8-minute rounds. Non-Spy players want to ask questions and give answers that prove to the other players that they know where they are. The Spy will also sometimes be asked questions (just like the other players) and will have to come up with questions without knowing anything about their location. This stand-alone expansion allows for two spies: when one tries to guess their location, the other one takes a guess as well. It also plays up to 12 and includes 20 new locations.
Fun Fact: Randall Ford: "Poker Assault was a game that we had in hand for three years and almost didn't get around to publishing. However when our playtesters kept asking when we were going to publish it, we could tell it had made a big impression on them. So we brought it into the world and based on the response it's been getting, we're glad we did!"
(Information provided by Alex Yeager, Mayfair Games)
The Colonists will be available in early January 2017. It is a "worker movement" game in which players walk their stewards from location to location in order to gather goods or perform actions. Players build their community on a personal board over the course of an Era, with an Era lasting ten game turns. The game can run multiple hours in its full four-Era version, but you can break up the game and only play Era 1, or just Eras 2 and 3, with the rules included in the game.
Oh My Goods: Longsdale in Aufruhr (Longsdale in Revolt) will be available in very limited quantities through Mayfair directly, with a general release later in 2017. It builds on the SPIEL hit Oh My Goods! by adding a five-chapter storyline, with each chapter introducing new building and characters into the game. Cards are persistent from chapter to chapter, so your game set grows with each additional story.
Fun Fact: When the prototype for The Colonists was submitted, rather than the four eras that are in the release, there were eight eras for play.
—Creative Cove Games
(Information provided by Jack Poon, Founder of Creative Cove Games)
The Depths of Durangrar is a dungeon crawl board game that is played in the dark. Players take on one of two roles, explorer or monster. Explorers light up to only illuminate what is directly in front of them in a 3D modular maze. Explorers compete against one another to be the first to a thousand gold and out of the maze alive. However, while they are competing against each other, another player, the monster player, will be hunting them all down. The monster player is wearing night vision goggles so they can see the whole maze. The monster remains concealed in the darkness. All players use action points to move around the maze, collect gold and attack one another. Combat works using dice with consecutive attacks becoming increasingly difficult to pull off. Players can also choose how to setup of their unique explorers and monsters' abilities, strength, and health to create different strategies.
The Depths of Durangrar was launched on Kickstarter in May 2016 and is currently planned to be delivered in May 2017.
Fun fact: Jack Poon, "The Depths of Durangrar originally started off as a cooperative horror-movie-like game where the explorers were a group of friends trapped in a horror mansion and had to find their way out. They had to choose to split up to cover more ground and be easy targets for the monster or stay together to better fight the monster but ultimately be worn down by the mansion. Unfortunately, early play tests proved that this wasn't as fun as I pictured and the game quickly evolved into a dungeon crawler."
—Indie Boards & Cards
Aeon's End was pre-released at BGG.CON, with a planned release in December 2016. This is a cooperative fantasy deck building game in which players are mages, the last bastions of society, as the world has been destroyed by monsters. There is a twist to the deck building aspect - the cards do not get shuffled, but rather are flipped back over in their current order to be played.
Kodama: The Tree Spirits, 2nd edition is due to be released in December 2016.
Fun Fact: The designer of Aeon's End, Kevin Riley, was a professional gamer for Star Craft.
The Highlight of the Convention...
There is so much going on that it's hard to pick a favorite, but I think for me it was playing the Middle Earth CCG with lead designer Coleman Charlton and hubby Ravindra Prasad (a.k.a. Snoozefest). Coleman kindly brought along his cards, maps, dice, and hobbit pawns; he was very patient teaching us the game again (we learned it years ago). It was a privilege to play with him as well as a reminder of how wonderful the game is.
Coleman Charlton (L) and Ravindra Prasad (R) playing Middle Earth CCG
Be sure to stop by again for part two of the BGG.CON 2016 Wrap-Up!
W. Eric Martin
After SPIEL 2015, I posted a video that showed how I had nested boxes inside one another to save space when shipping them back to the U.S. I had shipped games home that year since I was traveling in Europe after the convention, but following SPIEL 2016 I brought (almost) everything home with me, which meant that I needed to nest and nest again in order to make them fit. I did ship a few games to Dallas for pick-up at BGG.CON 2016 as I still couldn't fit everything into two suitcases and one backpack, but I did a decent job of it, so I thought I'd share a few pics in case you want advice for your future convention trips.
To start, here's the initial stack of games that I took out of my suitcases and backpack:
Some publishers make it easy for you to pack because they're also making it easy for themselves. What I mean by that is that larger publishers typically use standard box sizes for their game titles: all card games come in this box, all €10 games come in this box, all €20 games in this box, and so on. They standardize their packaging for multiple reasons, such as making it easier for retailers to display certain games together.
One benefit of this, as shown here, is that the small rectangular Pegasus Spiele box fills exactly half the space of a medium rectangular Pegasus Spiele box. Once I punched the components of Chariot Race — thereby lightening that game's weight — I had plenty of space to fit those two smaller Pegasus games inside.
Dicetree Games' new version of Winner's Circle features a perfectly organized insert (as shown at right) that holds every item in a separate space to keep stuff locked into place during shipping and later travel.
Naturally I threw it out. When I can either pay €100 to ship an extra bag home or throw out an insert, the insert is finding a new home in the plastic-recycling bins that are ever-present in Germany. I'll manage just fine with baggies later, thank you very much.
You have a few basic tenets when Tetrising games following a convention:
• Punch out and baggie all components. You might not save much weight with each individual game, but when you have several dozen games, you'll reduce the weight by a non-negligible amount — and should you be bringing home something like A Feast for Odin, you might knock a kilogram out of your bag via that box alone!
Aside from the weight, you also regain volume; four punchboards might be reduced to a couple of bags that will fit on the side of other games in the available space, as seen here with the bits from Pecunia non olet nestled up against at least three other games.
• Large square boxes, a.k.a. your typical KOSMOS box, can be a bane or blessing. Zoch Verlag's Kilt Castle requires a large box due to the game board, components, and retail price, but once you punch the tokens and ditch the insert you have a lot of space in which to nest other games. The only problem is that sometimes you'll find yourself with a half-dozen large square boxes, and you can't do anything about fitting them inside one another.
• Organize your games by size, then start with the smallest games: punch bits, pitch catalogs, throw out rules in languages that you don't need. Yes, that might make it more difficult to resell your games in 2021 to that Finnish guy who's desperately seeking an out-of-print and quite pricey Honshu, but so be it. I'm not thinking of resale value when I bring games home; I'm thinking of how they'll play, not to mention not spending more money now to get those games home!
Once you've prepared the smallest games, start with the next smallest ones, tucking the small ones inside where possible. As you fill these medium-ish boxes, set them aside in a "full" pile; place any other medium-ish boxes in an "empty" pile. Maybe you'll pick up a tiny filler tomorrow that will fit perfectly inside that Justice League: Hero Dice – Flash box.
Keep working from small to large until each box is as dense as possible. In my experience, volume is typically more of a problem than weight (although you do want to be mindful of weight at the same time), so maximizing the density of a game will allow you to pack more games in the same space.
Oh, hey, here's another larger square box. What's inside this time?
A Korean game, another Japanese game, and the ship/bowl goodie for The Oracle of Delphi. (Are those bowls even useful? I've played Delphi twice, and I'm not sure why I would need them or how I would use them. I typically just pile stuff on the table and don't worry about sorting everything out. At right, for example, is how the contents of Delphi currently look in my box.)
But wait — there's more!
Yes, another Justice League: Hero Dice game awaits inside Animal Auction, with MathTornado inside that. Gameception!
And once everything was unboxed, I had twice the volume of the earlier stacks. Yes, you can rail against publishers being wasteful and using boxes that are too big, and I won't fault you for doing so, but most publishers do so for specific reasons and aren't likely to change in the future. At best, you can rebox games in your own containers or stack expansions inside the base game or cut down boxes to the size that works for you or, you know, get fewer games.
Thanks to all of these weight- and space-saving efforts, I had plenty of room to bring home from Germany the most important things available there...
W. Eric Martin
• Let's continue a run-through of some of the forthcoming games available for a look-see at BGG.CON 2016, starting with one looked at and seen only by the press, this being Steve Jackson Games' Munchkin Collectible Card Game from Eric M. Lang and Kevin Wilson.
Lang presented the game in the BGG booth during the 2016 GAMA Trade Show, but here's my take for those who want it in writing: The Munchkin CCG is a 2-4 player battle that leans heavily on bluffing. The game will be sold in three starter packs — each with two pre-set decks of cards that feature a different hero, such as warrior vs. bard or thief vs. cleric — with booster packs of randomized cards being sold separately.
Each hero has a health value and a special ability; the warrior, for example, can zap a hero or monster for 1 damage. A la Hearthstone, players start at level 1 and advance one level a turn to a maximum of ten, although a SJG rep assures me that few games last that long.
Preparing for my turn at BGG.CON 2016
At the start of a turn, you get money from the bank up to whatever your current level is, untap everything, draw a card, place any cards in your stash into your hand, then start doing stuff.
On a turn, you can have at most one location in play, with any new one played replacing your existing one; you can have loot in play with star power up to your current level; you can play hirelings for defense; and you can play monsters to attack the opposing hero, but when you play a monster, you play it face down, placing zero or more coins on it. If the opponent wants to run away, which they can do once per turn, you get the coins back and place the monster face down in your stash. If they want to face the monster, you flip it over; if you didn't pay enough, you take one damage and lose the monster; if you did, the opponent can use hirelings, loot, or both to defend themselves against the monster; the opponent can also play mischief cards from hand to surprise you. If the monster lives, it goes to your stash, while any opposing hirelings and loot are tapped and unavailable for use later in the turn.
And this is where all the bluffing comes in, as with morphing creatures in Magic: The Gathering. Which monster do you want to play in which order? Once an opponent sees you have something, they get to guess whether you're attacking with that or something else. Can you psych them out to waste loot on Blandy McBlanderson so that you can punch through with something else? Can you do it again?
Sample cards from the bard deck; art not finished
If the opponent puts up no defense or you hit with more damage than the loot absorbs, you damage the hero, with the damage points piling up over time until one of you is dead.
Due to the constantly increasing levels, everything in the game scales up over time, but because of the nature of combat — one creature at a time, please — the board doesn't bog down with creature standoffs. The game is all about the solitary face-off and trying to prepare for it so that you don't get hurt too badly if you guess wrong. (You do get a mulligan at the start of play, allowing you to ditch high-cost cards to redraw so that you're not a punching bag for the first few rounds.)
The bard's power — tap to return a card from the stash to your hand — seemed odd given the nature of the game. If the bard bluffs and I run away, the bard gets the money back and can simply return the card to hand to play it out once again, which makes my running seem pointless, but I've played the game only once and don't know everything in the decks, so I could be talking through my hat here.
Sample cards from the thief deck; art not finished
• I also tried Batman: The Animated Series Dice Game, which debuted at BGG.CON 2016. This game is a reimplementation of Steve Jackson's Zombie Dice, with the players representing villains who are trying to swipe as much loot as possible without getting caught by Batman.
On a turn, a player takes three dice from the cup and rolls them. Set aside dice showing loot and Batman, then decide whether to reroll alarms. If you do reroll, first draw dice from the cup so that you again have three dice. Keep playing until you either have three or more Batman symbols — which means you were caught and score nothing — or you decide to stop; if you stop, score one point for each loot.
The villain powers provide some variety and push players in different directions during the game. Poison Ivy can ignore one blue Batman, Catwoman doubles blue bills, Joker scores extra for each set of dice on the table, and Riddler rolls four dice on the first turn, then decides what to keep and what to return to the cup. No heavy decisions here, with this being a press-your-luck affair in a race to collect thirty loot first.
• In one of the exhibitor halls, Matagot showed off Room 25 Ultimate, which takes the Room 25 base game and Room 25: Season 2 expansion and shoves them in a single box.
Some small changes were made to details of the game, but the gameplay remains the same, with everyone trapped and looking for a way out through Room 25 — assuming they can find it in time.
Couldn't avoid glare with this shiny box and multiple spot lights!
• Tim Fowers ran a Kickstarter for his two-player cat-and-mouse chase game Fugitive in mid-2016 — collecting more than $200K in the process — but I was oblivious to this design until I ran across the final product on display at BGG.CON 2016. So many games to see!
In the game, one player is the fugitive and is trying to play cards to reach #42 and escape, while the other player hunts for the first, revealing cards along the way, which then provides clues toward which other cards might be in play.
Some of the cards in the game, showing the final art
• One Card Wonder is a Nathaniel Levan design that existed only as a box and a framed piece of art in the APE Games booth as the components were currently residing somewhere else, but APE's Kevin Brusky conveyed an overview of the game to me, and now I share one with you:
In One Card Wonder, each player receives a card that shows a wonder of the ancient world and a set of support buildings. The multiple stages of the wonder must be built from the ground up, while the buildings may be built in any order. Players have four worker meeples and a personal supply of resources, and a general supply of resources also exists. The resource supply bag moves from player to player to indicate who is the active player.
On a turn, you take one of four actions. You may draw three cubes from the cloth supply bag, then add one to your personal supply, placing the other two in the general supply. You may take all resources of one type from the general supply. (You may hold only eight resources at a time in your supply, so if after drawing or taking you have more than eight resources, you must return some to the general supply.) You may build a level of the wonder or a building by paying its resource cost from your supply; your workers mark individual buildings as you build them, unlocking abilities. Finally, you may sell pairs of matching goods to the supply in exchange for coins. Coins can be used as a wild resource, but they also appear in the cost of some wonders. Resources sold or used to build are returned to the supply bag.
In games of four or more players, players may also trade. Trading occurs off-turn, that is, it can involve anyone except the active player. You may negotiate and trade freely with other players, but you must stop negotiating once you receive the supply bag and become the active player. The longer you spend on your turn, the more opportunity your opponents have to make deals.
The first player to complete their wonder wins!
• Other upcoming games on display or available for demo at BGG.CON included:
due out from APE Games at SPIEL 2017 in October
Dark is the Night from APE Games pits hunter in firelight against monster in the dark on a board much smaller than their convention demo
W. Eric Martin
I played a number of forthcoming games at BGG.CON 2016, some of which cannot yet be revealed and others of which have been announced loud and proud by the publishers in question, with one of the latter being Alien Artifacts from Portal Games.
The pitch for Alien Artifacts is crystal clear — a 4X-style gaming experience in sixty minutes or less — and the trick to making that short playing time possible is that everything you do in the game is on cards: planets you explore, technology you exploit, resources you expend, and spaceships you use for attacking. (Extermination is too strong a word for what happens in this game, at least in its current iteration, but Portal Games is still developing this Marcin Senior Ropka and Viola Kijowska design ahead of a planned Gen Con 2017 release, so note that the final game might differ from what's described and depicted below.)
At the start of the game, you can produce (draw) two cards each turn, store two cards, and assemble (use) one. Cards have a number from 1-4 on them as well as 1-3 colored squares on each end. The squares represent currencies, with blue building technology, green exploring planets, red fueling military growth, and yellow (seemingly always a single square) being a joker than can apply toward anything.
Approx. seven turns in; storage should be one higher since I explored a planet
Each turn, you take one action. You might store two cards to be used as money to buy something later, or work toward discovering a planet (with each additional planet requiring more effort than earlier ones), or use a special, single-use action acquired on a planet previously discovered, or buy a technology card (with these cards being color-coded for expand, explore, exterminate, and exploit categories), or complete a technology previously purchased. If you spend money from storage or take a planet action, then you keep your cards in hand for use next turn; otherwise you assemble what you can, then throw away the rest.
As you increase your holdings, your abilities increase. More military leads to more production, giving you more cards in hand each turn. More technology allows you to assemble more, letting you tuck more cards each turn to find planets and complete technology faster. More planets gives you more storage, letting you bank more money toward future purchases, such as a dreadnought or a mothership, which will then allow further military growth, which gets you more cards, which lets you buy more technology, etc.
Details on the possible actions and their costs
Alternatively, you can use money to buy more production, storage, and assembly, but ideally you want to build tech, military, and planetary holdings since those things will help with everything else you're doing.
You play twice through the giant money stack with two players and three times through with three or four players. (Shades of Bohnanza here, to pull out an unlikely comparison, since the stack shrinks due to cards being in storage or assembly, causing the second and third passes through the deck to go more quickly than the first.) Once the game ends, players tally points for each type of technology, each set of all four tech cards, each planet explored, each maximum reached in production, storage and assembly, and possibly other things as well.
Almost through round one, w/ one planet used up, three techs in place, and zero military
Greg from Portal Games gave me a quick overview, then we dove in, with us completing more than half of a two-player game in fifteen minutes. (I had an appointment to get to, so I didn't experience the humiliation of point-counting.) I kept initially thinking, "I'm not doing very much", but at some point I realized that we were flying through the deck and I had explored three planets and completed one of each technology and was powering up a mothership for future Greg-threatening and was grabbing four cards each turn, which was jetting me through everything else that I was trying to do.
Mind you I'm not saying that I played well, but I felt like I did a lot. Alien Artifacts is one of those designs that I approach with blinders, initially seeing only my own board and not even all of that. I completed multiple technology items, but I don't think I used one of them. I used one planet power without knowing what I was trying to do with it; I ignored another planet power that I should have used. I knew that Greg was doing stuff, but I never once considered what his cards might be or why I might want to take a planet that would help him (if they would have). I bought a mothership before him, without realizing that he had been storing money to buy it.
No, I was just doing stuff to do things, with that first play being all about feeling out the system and seeing how things work — and the short take is that they work amazingly well, with the game having a Splendor-like feel in how the micro actions each turn pile up into exponential growth, but with many more choices for what to do and lots of details that I didn't even begin to examine.
Next time, I can play for real and actually try to think about what I'm doing!
Thanks to Grzegorz Polewka for teaching the game at BGG.CON 2016!
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