While the momentum is still with me, let's continue rolling through pics and notes from NY Toy Fair 2019, which took place Feb. 16-19.
That's just over two weeks ago as I write this, yet it feels like forever. My perspective is an odd one sometimes as I start to feel that all this stuff in my notebook and image files is old news, whereas most of it hasn't been seen by anyone who wasn't also at NY Toy Fair. Given that this post features games coming from Hasbro — that is, titles that might not appeal to much of the BGG audience — you might wish that I had forgotten to write about them, but I find it instructive to cover Hasbro for two reasons:
1. Hasbro sells a lot of games. If you are a designer and aspire to have a game in hundreds of thousands of homes, you should be aware of what Hasbro releases. You won't have the marketing funds to achieve that level of success on your own, but maybe you can place something with an agent and things will roll on from there. If nothing else, you can be aware that these games exist and represent probably the largest segment of the game-buying audience.
2. For the most part, Hasbro releases games that are so minimalistic, each of them can be described with a single sentence. I don't mean to suggest that such minimalism should always be a designer's goal, but I appreciate the aesthetic purity of the game and game-like experiences Hasbro is putting onto the market. The games essentially package a concept — a way for people to interact with one another — and that's what you're buying. You'll bring one of these designs out at a family event, and possibly without even realizing it, other people will suddenly find themselves in a game, similar to how some people will sit around a table after dinner and spontaneously create a dexterity game with the remaining food stuff. To quote the Seinfeld episode "The Pitch":
GEORGE: What'd you do today? RUSSELL: I got up and came to work. GEORGE: There's a show. That's a show.
The games seemingly arise out of nothing — and of course for many people they consist of nothing as well, but that's a matter of taste, not a question of whether or not something is a game. Some people want games to mimic an interactive stage play experience — an improvisatory show in which you're the star and the playing is akin to performing — and many of these designs deliver just that.
Let's move on to a few examples of what I'm talking about, leading off with Porcupine Pop:
In this Pie Face-like game, players take turns rolling the die, then pressing the porcupine's nose a number of times equal to the number rolled, hoping that its Nerf dart quills aren't shot into their face while doing so.
In the vein of Don't Wake Daddy, Plumber Pants challenges players to hang stuff on the plumber's belt without joggling him too much and causing his head to shoot up through the sink to yell at them.
Reach into the bowl in Blowfish Blowup and try to grab stuff out of the bowl without touching the blowfish and having it blow up.
Connect 4: Shots was a hit, so let's try Battleship Shots, which has you bouncing "missile" balls over a barrier to attempt to sink the opponent's ships. (Name and component design not final.)
Star Wars: Escape From Death Star Game! Man, did my brother and I play that a ton in our youth! Not sure I'd want to play it today, though, even with the exclusive Grand Moff Tarkin figure. What am I going to do with that? Seat him at the game table and pretend that he's playing against me?
Bop It! Chewie seems like the logical next step from Bop It! R2-D2. Each of those figures seems to be somewhat divorced from the Star Wars canon these days and more product than anything else — as with Loopin' Chewie, for example — but maybe that's my cynical adult self talking.
Tiny Pong is a one-player dexterity challenge coming from @Hasbro in 2019. In basic mode, you can bounce anywhere on the board; in advanced, you need to hit on opposite sides of the net. The device tracks the number of hits, so you can compare your score with others. —WEM pic.twitter.com/w8No6nDYZE
I don't have much more to say about Tiny Pong than what I wrote above, and I'm not even sure it qualifies for a listing on BGG at this point. Depends on the scoring system, I think, as that's what would make it a game rather than an activity — as meaningless as that difference is at times...
"Headbands buzz when you go too fast!" You don't even need a description for The Slow-Motion Race Game as the caption on the box gives it all away. Not stated: Create an experience that others will film and share on social media to advertise this game.
The Lie Detector Game falls into the "embarrass yourself for the amusement of others" genre seen in other recent adult party games from Hasbro. Many of the questions have blanks that you fill in, which allows you to increase or decrease the level of embarrassment suffered by all. If you answer a question truthfully — and they all have a yes/no format — you claim the card, and whoever first collects ten cards wins a trip to therapy.
Raising Hell, due out Q2 2019, plays like What Do You Meme?, but with players playing images that relate to kids and parenthood and captions that relate to same in order to create humorous combinations of the two and score points.
Monopoly: Cats vs. Dogs is one of many Monopoly titles coming out in 2019, with this one hitting the market on August 1. The hook of this 2-6 player game is that players will split into opposing teams, with one of those teams winning at the end of the game, so presumably you'll want to trade solely with teammates in order to maximize the benefits of that trade.
Even more Monopoly is coming in 2019, as if you had any doubt. Monopoly Gamer: Overwatch follows Monopoly Gamer in 2017 and Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart in 2018, and like those two titles, I'm sure that multiple Power Packs will be available so that people can collect all the characters and line them up on a windowsill in their office.
The new version of Monopoly: Fortnite includes 27 new characters as collecting skins is one of the attractions of that online game.
Monopoly: L.O.L. Surprise! introduced me to the world of L.O.L. Surprise!, which seems to have a toy line, clothing line, a home furnishing line, and much more. The toy line features wide-eyed Keane girl figures from the Betty Boop school of design (oversized head that can be seen solely from the front), and the tokens in Monopoly: L.O.L. Surprise! are accessories for these toys, with those accessories being in a blind box so that you don't know what you're getting when you buy the game. Collectible toyetic play discovery — so synergistic!
Monopoly: Game of Thrones has a player count of 2-6, which seems wrong from the get-go. You need to go to seven, yes? Also, the selling point for this edition is the "Iron Throne card holder that plays the iconic theme song throughout gameplay, the first time that a music component has been incorporated into a Monopoly board", but as much as I love the Game of Thrones intro music, I don't think I'd want to hear it for every minute of an episode. The first bite is always the best, yes, with each subsequent one diluting your enjoyment.
We close our tour of Hasbro's NY Toy Fair 2019 game wing with three Stranger Things-related items, one of those being a Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set that includes the campaign created by series character Mike Wheeler, along with two demogorgon figures. This marketing tie-in is an ideal way to attract potential new players: You've seen the show, now play the game! You too can become encased in a portal to another dimension!
Trivial Pursuit: Back to the 80's asks how well I know the 1980s. I lived through that decade, so I have some recollection of things, but I don't recall this "Upside Down" at all. I think it's made up.
Finally, we have a tiny mock arcade that includes four classic arcade games from the 1980s, along with sixteen mock arcade games from that same time period. Mash those buttons, using only your mind...
Hasbro didn't have any swag to take home, but on my walk from its media center back to the Javits Center, I did run across this upright piano on the street free for the taking. Fitting it in my carry-on was a struggle, but you don't turn down free stuff, right?
• Thames & Kosmos, which releases games from KOSMOS in English in the U.S., will have the new edition of Reiner Knizia's Lost Cities on the market in April 2019. This version incorporates the sixth expedition expansion that debuted in 2016, and now you can play ye olde Lost Cities with five expeditions on one side of the game board as grandpappy used to play it and the new six-expedition version on the other side of the game board.
Brainwaves is a trilogy of tiny games developed by game designers and neuroscientists in which players challenge their episodic memory. In Reiner Knizia's The Astute Goose, for example, you look at six cards that show a man wearing one of five types of clothing in one of five colors with one of five animals on his shoulders, then you lay those cards face down. On a turn, the active player rolls two dice to determine what they must name (color/clothing/animal) on which card. If they name this item correctly, they claim the card and replace it with a new one; otherwise, they return it. Whoever collects the most cards wins.
In Jaws, one player controls the shark and attacks Amity Beach, growing stronger for the second half of the game. Everyone else tries to keep the beach safe so that they can better defend the Orca in that second half. BGG game page: https://t.co/kV6KJJFRZh —WEM pic.twitter.com/SsaIGkUhiX
• At the Ravensburger booth, I received confirmation that Las Vegas Royale and the new edition of The Castles of Burgundy — both covered in this preview video from Spielwarenmesse 2019 — are scheduled to debut in the U.S. at Gen Con 2019 in August. Carlo A. Rossi's co-operative game Red Peak — previewed here — is due out in the U.S. in October 2019. Ravensburger's English-language edition of the trivia game kNOW! will not come packaged with Google Assistant, something that was an option with the German edition. Apparently market penetration for Google Assistant is much higher in the U.S., so Ravensburger can assume buyers will have it already and sell this version for less.
Unicorn Glitterluck: Cloud Stacking plays similarly to Animal Upon Animal (a.k.a. Tier auf Tier), w/ players trying to stack the unicorns and clouds together to collect the crystals. Coming to the U.S. from @HABA_usa possibly in time for Origins; otherwise for Gen Con 2019. —WEM pic.twitter.com/TyMIajc86x
• In addition to the title shown above, the U.S. branch of HABA is bringing in Snail Sprint!, a Marie and Wilfried Fort that comes across like a combination of Camel Up and Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise. At the start of play, each player receives a goal card that shows the colors of snails that they'll score points for at the end of the game should those snails finish first, second, or third.
On a turn, you roll the two color dice. Let's say you roll yellow and blue. You then move the yellow snail to the next blue space on the path or the blue snail to the next yellow space. A snail on the path counts as a space of that color, so if the blue snail is in front of the yellow snail, you would move the yellow snail on top of the blue one, which will then keep the blue one from moving until the yellow one advances. A stack can be only two snails high, and stacking isn't possible when the magnet-bottomed snails are crawling up and down the sides of the metal box, which is part of the path. Seems super cute, with just enough going on that adults would be fine playing as well.
Each turn consists of two parts. First, you take a passive move on one of the boards on your side of the rope, moving one of your pieces up to two spaces in any direction. You can't pass through or attack the opponent with this move (which is why it's called "passive"). Second, you take an aggressive move on an opposite colored board with one of your pieces that mirrors your passive move in direction and distance; with this move, you can push an opponent off the board, and if you remove all of the opponents' pieces from one board, you win. I dig abstract strategy games, and this one seemed like a novel combination, akin to you making a small move in person, then having it replicated by a giant robot that will destroy your enemy.
Woolly Mammoth is due from Smirk & Laughter in June 2019, and in this game you're trying to be the first to collect six meat or to be the last player standing. Each round, all players play a card simultaneously, trying to collectively push a mammoth off a cliff while also trying to be closest to that cliff so that you can claim the meat. Mammoths can charge, though, and that's not going to be a good thing for people standing in the way.
In the party game We Need to Talk from Bryan Merlonghi, Michael Dunsmore, and Jordan Nichols, one player each round is suffering from an unusual condition and the other players give clues about this condition that might lead that player to guess what it is. The afflicted wants to guess the condition as quickly as possible, while the cluegivers want the answer given in later rounds in order to score more points.
I'm still decompressing from having attended three conventions in February 2019, with lots of pics and tweets posted of what I saw during that time, but much more is likely still waiting to be seen on my phone and in my notebook. With that in mind, here's a sampling of my NY Toy Fair 2019 experience, all thirteen hours of it spread over two days:
Monster Fight Club is a new publisher co-founded by John Kovaleski, and its presence at NY Toy Fair 2019 consisted of this game on a table in the Alliance Game Distributors booth. I didn't see anyone around, so I took pics, then moved on. Here's an overview of Tentacle Town from the BGG page, which went live the week after NYTF:
In Tentacle Town, each player is an adventurer who's arrived on unsettled land to found a new town — but the waters surrounding your new home are infested with giant tentacles!
The goal of the game is to become the new town's most famous resident and appointed as its first mayor. Players earn fame by recruiting the town's citizens to complete tasks, construct new buildings, and hunt tentacles!
You and the other players take turns recruiting citizens to build the town, all while defending your new home from the tentacle threat. New citizens can complete a task or build a building for you. The more buildings you have in a district, the more profitable some tasks become — AND the player with the most buildings in each district earns extra fame when the game ends.
Tentacle Town is divided into three districts: the market, the foundry, and the docks. Each district has its own tasks to be completed, from forging harpoons in the foundry to butchering food at the docks. The rewards for some tasks get better when there are more citizens are in the district, which means the new citizen you just recruited will benefit the other players, too! Likewise, the rewards for some tasks improve when there are more buildings to the district — but for these tasks, only you benefit from your own buildings. You may also pay the citizens of Tentacle Town overtime to complete additional tasks, assuming you have coins to spend.
At the end of a player's turn, they roll the danger die to see if the tentacles attack, stay quiet, or if more tentacles emerge from the depths. The more citizens in a district, the more likely the tentacles are to attack! When tentacles attack, they may destroy buildings, kill citizens, or cause the workers to flee to a safer district! This is your chance to be a hero and defend the district, provided you have some harpoons handy! Defeat a tentacle, and you'll not only earn a bit of fame and haul in some fresh calamari, too!
When the influx of new citizens runs out, the game is over and the person with the most fame becomes the mayor of Tentacle Town and wins the game!
As is its custom, Cryptozoic Entertainment — nestled in the "action figures / pop stop" aisles — showed off its range of collectible figures (of which I didn't take pics) along with a few upcoming IP-related games, such as DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth, which it first showed at NY Toy Fair 2018. This game uses the standard deck-building elements of its other DC deck-building games, except that each player takes control of a specific character and moves cards between five locations over eight connected scenarios, with the characters progressing over the course of this campaign. The game includes a scenario #0 as well so that players can get a handle on things before they dive into the campaign itself.
...the latest entry in the Epic Spell Wars universe, which is (deep breath) Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: ANNIHILAGEDDON! – The Deck-Building Game. Each player represents a wizard and goes to battle against one another to bash their hit points. Says Cryptozoic's Adam Sblendorio, "You'll probably die 2-4 times during the game." As Nick Cave sang, "Just remember that death is not the end."
WizKids, down the aisle from Cryptozoic, showed off a few upcoming titles in addition to lots of licensed products from its NECA parent, but it didn't have much information for what was being shown aside from the price and release date info shown above. So I can show a few discs from Mike Elliott's Star Trek: Conflick in the Neutral Zone, due out in July 2019, but aside from that I suppose we'll need to wait until GAMA Trade Show 2019 or later for more details. (GTS 2019 is next week, though. Time is rushing by!)
Rob Heinsoo's Three-Dragon Ante is coming back in a new edition from WizKids, but I'm not sure how this "Legendary Edition" relates to the original game from 2005 or the Emperor's Gambit edition from 2010. More details to come...
I'm always jazzed to see these new Dice Masters sets, such as this Marvel Dice Masters: X-Men Forever Campaign Box due out in March 2019, then I remember that my son loves only manga and anime, not U.S. comics, so I'd never be able to play this. X-Men for-never.
• Okay, two more conventions are in the books — NY Toy Fair 2019 and Festival International des Jeux 2019 in Cannes — which means it's time to get back to all of the overview videos that we recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2019. It's hard to keep up with all of these, but I've now published on our new BGG Express YouTube channel two-thirds of the videos that we recorded in Nürnberg.
Here are a few highlights from these videos, starting with an overview of alea's plans for its twentieth anniversary, which begins with Rüdiger Dorn's Las Vegas Royale and an expansion-filled version of Stefan Feld's The Castles of Burgundy:
• Mini Garden from MOZI Game is a real-time puzzle-solving game in which you rearrange your garden cards as quickly as possible — flipping them, overlapping them, etc. — to have your garden match the roll of the dice. Mostly I'm charmed by how brazenly Livia demonstrated victory by cheating....
• Speaking of Quacks, we got a peek at the Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg: Die Kräuterhexen expansion for that game, which adds new spells and components for a fifth player, introduces a new herb, and welcomes herbal witches. A representative for North Star Games, which released an English-language edition of Quacks in the U.S., told me at NY Toy Fair that it aims to release this expansion in English at Gen Con 2019.
This two-player game features backgammon-like gameplay in which players roll dice to enter their monkeys in the bamboo forest or move through the forest. You can move up bamboo to get higher, and that's good since the higher you are when you reach the opposite side of the game board, the more points you score — and players are racing to score twelve points first to win. When you move sideways across the board, though, you slide down the bamboo, so you need to rise and fall repeatedly, while also watching out for coconuts. Each player has a coconut die, and this die shows the exact distance which you can throw a coconut to knock an opponent off its bamboo. Knock someone off the bottom of the board, and you score a point while that monkey must start from the opposite side of the board once again.
The gameplay is all straightforward; the weird part comes from the packaging of this game with a Donald Trump vs. Kim Jong-un image, along with the marketing of "Make Jungle Great Again" caps on its Kickstarter campaign (link). The teaser video for the game is equally bizarre.
Lincoln Damerst and I recorded about one hundred game preview videos at Spielwarenmesse 2019 — the annual toy fair in Nürnberg, Germany — and more than twenty of those videos are live for you now on our new BGG Express YouTube channel.
The most recent videos highlight several anticipated titles from Germany publisher Lookout Spiele, titles that you might not even have known were coming, such as Alexander Pfister's Newdale, which is a board game set in the world of Pfister's Oh My Goods! card game. This game is still in development, so it's hardly a thing of beauty right now, but you can at least learn the basics of the game (then update the placeholder game listing that I created in the BGG database earlier today):
The Spielwarenmesse toy fair in Nürnberg, Germany turned 70 in 2019, and after four days of recording game overview videos at the fair Lincoln Damerst and I felt seventy years old ourselves. So much walking! So little sleep! So many games seen and so few remembered!
Since we're already prepping for coverage of the Festival International des Jeux (FIJ) in Cannes, France — our livestream starts on Thursday, Feb. 21! — we're trying to publish the videos from Spielwarenmesse 2019 as quickly as possible in order to avoid getting backed up. What's more, for 2019 and beyond we plan to publish the convention overview videos on a new YouTube channel: BoardGameGeek Express. By doing so, we can present produced material such as GameNight! and The BGG Show on the existing BGG TV YouTube channel without flooding the zone with a hundred convention videos all at once, something we've done in the past to subscribers' regret. (When I tried to avoid flooding subscribers, I would end up spacing out the publication of videos for months, making that coverage less useful since it sometimes wouldn't appear until after a game was released.)
The first video on BGG Express is an overview of Era: Medieval Age, a game from Matt Leacock and eggertspiele that reworks the gameplay of Roll Through the Ages in a new 3D format. This title is the first in a trilogy, and company owner Sophie Gravel showed off a pre-production sample of the game ahead of its debut at Gen Con 2019:
We recorded about a hundred videos at Spielwarenmesse 2019, and I'll publish as many of them as I can in the next few days before heading to NY Toy Fair 2019. Yes, that's yet another show on the schedule!
While Knizia's The Quest for El Dorado is a deck-building racing game in which players try to be the first to reach the legendary golden city, The Golden Temples is a game that takes place inside the city, with players now hunting for other things. The Golden Temples can be played as a standalone game, or it can be combined with The Quest for El Dorado, with you playing roughly half of the first game along with roughly half of the second game, according to Ravensburger editor André Maack.
The Golden Temples is due out in the second half of 2019, with the game's U.S. debut being BGG.CON 2019 in November.
• Ravensburger also teased the 2019 release Minecraft Board Game, but had nothing on display beyond the most minimally detailed box related to Minecraft that you could possibly imagine. The publisher's description of the game is similarly minimal: "The video game phenomenon Minecraft comes to your table as a board game experience filled with epic adventures! More info coming soon."
The purpose of such previews? This thing will exist! Look forward to this thing!
Box shown at left on a huge booth banner
• Ravensburger plans to introduce the trivia game kNOW! into the U.S. market in 2019 following its debut in Germany in 2018. Here's an overview of the game:
Thanks to the Google Assistant, the quiz game kNOW! asks questions that would never have been possible before in a tabletop game. The answers to many of the 1,500+ questions change daily and vary depending on where you play: "When will the sun rise tomorrow?", "How far is it from here to Honululu?", or "What time is it in Sydney now?" Google's free digital voice assistant has the answers to these and many other questions. Players might also be challenged by tongue twisters and other odd phrases. For additional variety, new questions and theme specials will be added "in the box" for free.
We demoed this game at Spielwarenmesse for a few rounds, and I exhibited my lack of familiarity with Google Assistant multiple times by stating questions and answers poorly. I don't use Siri or Alexa or other things like that, so I was at sea with this device. Games like this make me feel old.
Mister X is back to make London unsafe once again! In Scotland Yard: Das Würfelspiel, you engage in the fast-paced chase for Mister X with the help of dice. Will you travel by taxi, underground, or bus? The dice are moody, so sometimes you get the ticket you need, but sometimes you don't. As in other Scotland Yard games, you need to work together to ensure that Mister X can't get away!
• On our third pass to the Ravensburger booth, we also caught more details for Carlo A. Rossi's Red Peak, which debuts in March 2019 in Europe and which will debut at Gen Con 2019 in the U.S.
The short take on this 2-6 player game is that it seems reminiscent of Cartagena — get the right stuff to advance along a path, although this path is built by the players during the game, with players taking risks that everyone will be able to cough up all the supplies that you might suspect they have — crossed with 2018's Fuji as all players need to escape from a lava-spewing volcano in order to win the game. Players move as a single party, though, so no one is at risk of being left behind. You'll live or die together, which might be a comfort for you.
You're also racing against the clock as you need to take actions within the limits of the sand timer. If you need to flip the timer and don't have any more time tiles remaining, then you're frozen in indecision and overcome by the sweet relief from uncertainty that a lava bath will provide. You can gain more time tiles during play, along with bonus cards and other goodies; these rewards are shown on the path tiles that you'll add to the map, with these map tiles also showing the components you'll need to enter that tile along with how far the lava will travel.
We recorded a video overview of Red Peak and a teaser for The Golden Temples while at Spielwarenmesse 2019, and those videos will be posted on the BoardGameGeek Express YouTube channel once they're processed. Since we're attending the FIJ fair in Cannes in late February to broadcast game demos on a livestream, we aim to get all the Spielwarenmesse 2019 footage published as soon as possible. Don't want to get backed up and have the lava overwhelm us...
At the 2019 Spielwarenmesse toy fair, I spent a fair amount of time talking with François Doucet from Space Cowboys about the multiple projects coming from this French publisher in 2019.
• The biggest news is the rebooting of the T.I.M.E Stories franchise. T.I.M.E Stories: Madame, due out in Q1 2019, is the final title in the "white cycle" of T.I.M.E Stories, and it brings the current overarching storyline to a resolution of sorts. This will be succeeded by the "blue cycle", which (like the "white cycle") will consist of nine scenarios. Aside from that, however, the "blue cycle" will differ vastly from the game's initial incarnation.
First, no base game will exist for what's been re-dubbed TIME Stories Revolution. Each scenario will be a standalone item that can be played in any order relative to other titles in the "blue cycle". Says Doucet, instead of starting each scenario in the time agents' base with Bob scowling and sniping at you while giving you an info dump, you'll jump straight into the scenario. While the "white cycle" tended to focus on items — as indicated by the cover of each scenario in it — the "blue cycle" will focus on characters, and the covers of these scenarios, such as that of TIME Stories Revolution: A Midsummer Night at right, will reflect that.
What's more, each receptacle in a scenario — that is, the body of the being you'll inhabit when you move forward, backward, or sideways in time — will have its own deck of cards, with the nature of these characters having more importance during gameplay. When you meet someone in a scenario, for example, that individual will likely respond to player A differently than they will for player B. In one case, you might get information from a source; in another case, the source might run away or attack you or lie. In addition to the personality of the receptacles, the characters within a scenario — the agents represented by the 2-4 players — will have backgrounds of their own that might interact or interfere with missions in different ways.
Doucet says that in response to feedback from players and market surveys, the "blue cycle" scenarios will do away with the time track and have playing times under three hours, making them single evening events rather than something that might last multiple playing sessions as you start over and over again — and despite the scenarios being standalone titles playable in any order, Space Cowboys will also release an Experience expansion that players can run between scenarios to explore the overall story that connects everything in the "blue cycle" and provides background for what happens before a scenario begins. I'm curious to see how this all plays out, but I can imagine this working because creators have done similar things in the past. Poo-tee-weet?
For those unfamiliar with T.I.M.E Stories, Space Cowboys will release a demo scenario along the lines of 2017's Santo Tomás de Aquino so that people can test the waters in an inexpensive way, whether at a convention or in stores. A Midsummer Night from Antonin Merieux and T.I.M.E Stories creator Manuel Rozoy and The Hadal Project from Kevin and Melissa Delp will be the first two releases in the TIME Stories Revolution, with both hitting the market in Q3 2019.
• Sébastien Pauchon's Jaipur debuted in 2009 from GameWorks, and it's returning to print in a new edition in 2019 as the first title in a new two-player game line from Space Cowboys. First, let's present an overview of this game for those not familiar with it:
You are one of the two most powerful traders in the city of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, but that's not enough for you because only the merchant with two "seals of excellence" will have the privilege of being invited to the Maharaja's court. You are therefore going to have to do better than your direct competitor by buying, exchanging, and selling at better prices, all while keeping an eye on both your camel herds.
Jaipur is a fast-paced card game, a blend of tactics, risk and luck. On your turn, you can either take or sell cards. If you take cards, you have to choose between taking all the camels, taking one card from the market, or swapping 2-5 cards between the market and your cards. If you sell cards, you get to sell only one type of good, and you receive as many chips for that good as the number of cards you sold. The chips' values decrease as the game progresses, so you'd better hurry! On the other hand, you receive increasingly high rewards for selling three, four, or five cards of the same good at a time, so you'd better wait!
You can't sell camels, but they're paramount for trading and they're also worth a little something at the end of the round, enough sometimes to secure the win, so you have to use them smartly.
François Doucet says that the gameplay in Jaipur — straightforward and easy to learn, with non-aggressive player conflict — is the model for the company's two-player game line.
• Jodhpur, which comes from the design team of Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey, and Pauchon, is a tile-laying game in which players each create their own city, trying to collect lots of elephants, create long roads, and connect tiles of the same color together. The game includes a small board, and five tiles are placed on the center of the board.
As I recall it — and my notes are hazy here, along with my memory as I blitzed through 100+ game descriptions in a few days — on a turn, a player places two tiles on this board, either both on the opponents' side, both on your side, or split between the two. If you place a tile that doesn't match either in color or road layout (curved, straight, T, or +), then the player on whose side you placed the tile must add it to their city; if the placed tile does match one of those characteristics, then the tile remains in reserve on that player's side of the board until it's bumped out by another tile later. Whoever collects tiles on a turn must immediately place them in their city.
Mock-up of Jodhpur at Spielwarenmesse 2019; fingers for scale
• Ankhor, by the same trio of designers, is a quick-playing resource management game in which each player on their turn either collects three types of tokens (with an ankh being a supplemental resource) or buys a tile from a marketplace and adds this tile to their structure, trying to connect tiles of the same color or bearing the same scarab while doing so. By spending an ankh, you can shift tiles in the marketplace and change the cost and type of goods needed to purchase them.
Each player's structure will have at most thirteen tiles, so don't wait too long to start building!
Mock-ups of Jaipur and Ankhor at Spielwarenmesse 2019; Jodhpur had no back cover
• When I arrived at Spielwarenmesse on Wednesday, I had only a few minutes to snap pics, without getting an explanation for anything I saw. The pic below was one such image. Turns out, Doucet tells me, that the German branch of Asmodee asked for a different cover of Splendor for marketing purposes.
• Finally, in February 2018, I tweeted the following from the FIJ fair in Cannes:
Designer William Attia is working with @SpaceCowboys1 & Ystari developers on an updated edition of Caylus with new graphics. —WEM
Doucet says that this new edition of Caylus is still being developed and might be possibly be ready by SPIEL '19. As is often the case with Space Cowboys, if the game isn't ready, it won't be rushed to market. After all, plenty of other titles are already there waiting for you...
No post today as I chose to sleep over writing something last night — apparently I have gained wisdom with age — but I've posted a few pics from the Spielwarenmesse 2019 toy fair on the BGG Twitter feed, and I plan to post more today when time allows between interviews at publisher booths.
Here's all I've posted from the first day, which was only a meeting with someone to go out to dinner before crashing early:
You know it's time for the @Spielwarenmesse toy fair when you're staring at giant LEGO figures in the baggage claim area (which is when you're in Nürnberg, of course). I took only a few pictures today as I had only twenty minutes at the show before dinner. More on Thursday! —WEM pic.twitter.com/yFlDsYKO6B
Checked out Nürnberg's @UltraComix before dinner. Fantastically comprehensive game store, in addition to having all the comics you might want along with amazing window presence. pic.twitter.com/6HgoVIhotW
Here we are once again for my marathon BGG.CON coverage! This year I'm hoping to fit it all into one part, some of the game publishers I had missed at BGG.CON didn't reply to emails asking for information. So less work for me! Yay! This worked in my favor since my husband and I decided to get our diving certification (plus enriched air and advanced certifications) in between the holidays and into the new year, making things extra crazy. (Don't even get me started on our current tax nightmare and having to change accountants.)
BGG.CON 2018 was held November 14-18 at the Hyatt Regency DFW for the last time. It was a little sad as we said goodbye to the wonderful Hyatt staff, who have done such an excellent job over the years.
During the Closing Ceremony, a Hyatt representative was made an honorary geek (games were given to the staff too!)
On a more positive note, BGG.CON is moving to a larger space! The 2019 convention will be at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. The exhibit hall will be in one room, rather than two (woo hoo!). The main ballroom will be larger and there will be more hotel rooms available. The hotel will handle about 5,000 attendees but BGG.CON will not max out in the first year due to extra growth issues and logistics. The number of attendees this year was about 3,200. The new location will be closer to Love Field airport. I highly recommend taking advantage of this. It's especially nice for those who like to fly Southwest (like me). We've actually been flying into Love Field the last few years anyway since we discovered it was a lot less expensive for a direct flight, including Lyft to and from the hotel. Also, the airport is smaller — easier and faster to get in and out.
Good thing BGG.CON is moving to a larger space - doubling up doesn't look too fun.
Fun Fact: This year's theme was the 1980s. Thanks to the hotel staff, there was 80s music in the lobby and bar plus retro candy and decorations. TeamGeek dressed in theme the first day (as usual) and there were themed T-shirts and posters available for sale.
The line this year was similar to last year, averaging less than an hour wait time. (If you waited until the bulk of attendees went through, it was rather short — I think I waited only a few minutes.)
Premium badges were available again this year at a flat fee of $400. There were the same number as last year, 150. The benefits were mostly the same except there were no extra games this year. (Last year it was sponsored by CGE.) This option is planned for 2019 but no word on pricing or how many will be made available (although it will be no more than 5% of badges sold).
Thank you to Jeff Anderson for providing stats and some of the other information in this article.
Attendees received one item in each group (group/game/company):
6,443 games were available for check out in the BGG.CON library. Below are the top ten games checked out of the library, preceded by the number of checkouts. There's a full list available as well. This does not include the games that were available throughout the convention in the Hot Games area. Information provided by Scott Alden.
Okay, this may be the 13th year of the math trade. Last year it was touted as the 10th or possibly the 11th – not really sure what happened to the 12th. Maybe 13 ate it? If you are interested in what games were up for trade or what games people wanted, check out the Math Trade Actual Geeklist or the Hopes and Dreams Request List respectively. Math trades are a super cool way to trade games you no longer play/want for something new to try. If you want to participate, start checking the BGG.CON forum at the beginning of October. There were 297 traded (1010 not traded), with 72 people making at least one trade. Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Virtual Flea Market (VFM)
If you have a lot of games to sell, this is an excellent venue for you (especially if you are a far distance from Dallas). List your games ahead of the convention (details here), then bring only those that sold! Time and space was reserved at BGG.CON for participants to meet up. Since the VFM has grown so much, this year 45 minutes were allotted (instead of the typical 30 minutes). There were a few rules everyone was asked to follow to make things go smoothly.
Board Game Bazaar (Flea Market)
This event fills up with sellers every year so there are plenty of games to barter over. I've gotten some great deals in the past. Below are a few photos of the event, taken during set-up (i.e., before all the craziness started, the hall crowded, and most of the games were sold). If you plan to shop at the Board Game Bazaar, get in line early! It is a long one.
Mystery Meat! Did you take a chance? If you bought one of these, let me know in the comments what it was! I'm very curious (and slightly apprehensive).
Not all the items being sold were games per se, but usually they were game related. Check out these cute meeple bags.
Wow look at the price on this! I'm thinking there may be a sale at our house in the near future. Don't tell my husband. He probably won't miss it, right?
Ooo, candy! Tasty incentives... I think there were games on that table, too.
Stephen Conway: "The 10th Spiel-a-thon at BGG.CON was held in Dallas, Texas on November 16, 2018. It was a tremendous success! We had our largest turnout to-date for a Spiel-a-thon in Dallas. AND we raised the most money ever for this location! $3,500 in less than 3 hours. Each Spiel-a-thon is about more than asking people to pry open their wallets, though. The driving force behind every Spiel-a-thon is to demonstrate how play can be a powerful force for good in the world. Don't get me wrong, we welcome your contributions any day, any time. But if you come to a Spiel-a-thon, you come to pay by playing! You play. Then you pay. And The Spiel Foundation uses this money to assemble bundles of games. Each bundle allows more kids and seniors to play. Each game bundle we send out delivers more fun into the world. It's a perfect circle of fun. And that is priceless. Many many thanks to the people who made this event such a success. Thank you to my new Spiel partner Doug Richardson for all his hard work. Thank you to our intrepid staff of volunteers: Francie Broadie Patty Richardson, Marguerite Cottrell, Jay Bartelt, Erin Green, Veronica Worley, Rachel Lee, Ezra Denney, Jeff Ridpath, Beth Heile John Knoerzer and Debbie Ohi."
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 31, 2018).
Attending BGG.CON for the first time was video game designer and board gamer, Tim Schafer. For example, he directed Grim Fandango, the first LucasArts game to use 3D graphics overlaid on pre-rendered static backgrounds (Wikipedia on Grim Fandango).
Returning again this year were game designers Matt Leacock, Eric Lang, and Rob Daviau. There was a Special Guest Panel on Saturday evening where attendees could listen, chat, and possibly ask questions.
Matt Leacock — look how happy he is to see me! Who needs a puppy when you have awesome friends like this?
Originally Rich Sommer was scheduled as a guest but he was able to get a new TV gig.
Even Isaac Childres was excited: "The first scenario of the new Community-Driven expedition will go live at BGG.CON. So the scenario will be available Wednesday, Nov. 14, and then Thursday night, I will be playing it on a live stream at the con with Jeff Anderson and Scott Alden from BGG, and Tim Schafer (!!!), creator of some of my favorite video games like Monkey Island and Psychonauts."
Fun Fact: This was BGG's first live-streamed event from BGG.CON. There is some Q&A with Isaac at the end of the video.
A special thank you goes out to the staff of volunteers and workers of TeamGeek! They are a big part of BGG.CON's success.
AssassinCon, sponsored by Mayday Games, ran in the shadows of BGG.CON. Participants must pre-register before the convention. Players in this meta-game are given a special ribbon to attach to their badges. Each must find their target and have them sign their card (the target is eliminated and this is their trophy); the player then gains their target's card as their next target. Players had to report in to the Mayday Games to record their trophies (ties were broken by earliest trophy time recorded). The player who gained the most trophies by Saturday afternoon became the Master Assassin.
Prizes: Master Assassin $100.00 Gift Card to Funagain Games 2nd Place $75.00 Gift Card to Funagain Games 3rd Place $50.00 Gift Card to Funagain Games
Funagain Games Booth in the Exhibit Hall
—Catch the Moon
Hosted by Active Player Network. Description from BGG.CON Events page: "Test your balance and stacking skills in the new dexterity game Catch the Moon in an event hosted and sponsored by Active Player Network. Catch the Moon, from Bombyx, is an easy-to-learn game for all ages and skill levels that will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to play over and over to hone your strategy and technique. Event attendees will be taught how to play, and may stay and enjoy for as many plays as they want within the 2-hour block (play time is 20-30 minutes). There will also be a live prize drawing, offering players the chance to leave with a copy of the game!"
—Introduction to Board Wargaming and Board Wargamers Meet & Greet
The Meet & Greet was hosted by Christopher "Doc" Cummins, Publisher at Strategy & Tactics Press and CEO of Decision Games. The purpose was to meet new and returning fellow war-game enthusiasts and discuss games would like to play during the convention including setting up schedules for game play.
The Introduction to Board Wargaming sessions were two 20-30 minute presentations, also given by Doc Cummins, on basic concepts and terms of board wargaming. The presentations were followed by demonstrations using enlarged versions of Decision Games' mini-games such as: Germantown, Caesar's War, Eagle Day, Phobos Rising, Vikings
This year's tournament had 24 teams (48 people). Prizes included Tichu decks for the finalists and badges and guaranteed hotel reservation for winners (reservation does not include the cost of the hotel room).
Attendees could test their flicking skills as they raced their cars (wooden disks) through a custom designed stunt track. And they meant business – check out that crazy track!
There were forty participants in the tournament. For the preliminary races, they had five unique tracks set up, with eight participants per track. There were three preliminary races, with each player getting to race three of the five tracks. Participants were reshuffled so they ended up playing against different people rather than all three races with the same people.
After the three preliminary races, players handed in their scores (i.e. their positions they finished for each of the races added together). The lowest eight scores advanced to the final race, where they tore down the preliminary tracks, and built one mega final track for the finalists. The prize was a big trophy.
The Annual Texas Hold'Em Tournament is a staple for BGG.CON. There were about 225 participants this year. Amateurs were encouraged to play; if they showed up early, they could get a rules summary to help them get started. No money was involved but there were great prizes! It was sponsored by Tasty Minstrel Games, which awarded a stack of games to the winner as well as a game to everyone in the final game. BGG also gave the winner a couple badges and a guaranteed hotel reservation to next year's event (reservation does not include the cost of the hotel room). Hosted by Jeff Anderson.
Treasure Island, a SPIEL '18 release, premiered at BGG.CON as a play-to-win tournament. The tournament was played over two rounds with eleven tables, narrowed down to two tables for the second round. The winner of each of the three tables received a copy of the game (distributed by Asmodee North America).
—R&R Games Information provided by Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games.
Outback was released at SPIEL '18. This is a dice rolling, push-your-luck strategy game where players collect sets of Australian animals to maximize their points. It's super cute too (who doesn't love koalas, platapus, or kangaroos?). This R&R version includes variants as well as an option for team play.
The Table is Lava was released at SPIEL '18. Yep, lava table, card islands, and meeples... throw your card and be sure to attach/touch to another card "island" or you don't get to use the card action. Win by having the most surviving meeples. The Coconuts Edition expansion adds another player, cards, and meeples.
Fun Fact: Really more of a clue... Frank says "it wouldn't hurt to know how to use the Wayback Machine."
—Game Toppers Information provided by Kevin Burahardsmeier.
Game Toppers are portable gaming tops that can convert your home table into a high quality gaming solution. Each Topper has modular parts, such as cup holders, accessory trays, and dice towers. They also sell thematic game mats, Game Topper storage bags (for Topper storage and portability), and Game Totes - insulated totes for game storage and portability. Another Kickstarter is coming Q1 2019 featuring new mats, new accessories, and new topper sizes (they currently have five sizes).
New expansion boxes are coming to Kickstarter November 2018. Because game boxes aren't Tardis' ... Instead having inserts lift the game box lid, this new larger box allows games to be fit in perfectly while using the original lid. For example, all of Small World, Underground, and expansions will fit in one box, with both lids: one on the bottom (held by friction) and one on the top, so that in the shelf, it just looks like two games. Daedalus will also be offering magnetic lid bit boxes, which will be configurable and customizable with smaller boxes inside. Boxes will be available in both black or white.
—Catan Studio Information provided by Morgan Dontanville, Catan Studio
Catan: Rise of the Inkas was released at SPIEL '18 and should be on the shelves of the English-speaking world November 2018. Inkas uses the standard Catan structure and drastically makes changes in the mechanisms to depict the rise and fall of Andean tribes. Each player must play through the rise and decline of three Inkan tribes in order to win. Rise of the Inkas includes three new trade goods, in addition to the five resources, powers added to Longest Trade Route and Most Combat Skills. But the biggest change of all is the ability to build over top of other players' settlements.
Catan Scenario: Crop Trust is an add-on scenario for your base Catan game. Catan worked closely with Crop Trust, an international nonprofit organization who's goal is to protect global food security. They are most famous for their seed vault in the Arctic that safely houses over 4,000 species of seed. The scenario encourages players to be aware of crop diversity and the dangers of monocultures by way of event cards. It also gives new ways to score points through banking crops' seeds into the seed vault. The game can collapse entirely if there is too much of a threat to the food supply. A large portion of the profits and royalties go to supporting the Crop Trust.
Fun Fact: Catan Studios sent a team to Svalbard, home of the northern most civilization in the world as well as the seed vault that houses all of the saved samples for the Crop Trust. While they were there, they played Crop Trust.
—CGE Information provided by Justin Sweigart, Director of North American Operations.
Trapwords released at SPIEL '18; U.S. release at BGG.CON. This is a dungeon-themed word guessing game where two teams are trying to guess the word their respective team member is trying to get them to guess while avoiding words on a list selected by the opposing team. Teams try to work their way through a dungeon with different rooms. Curses are placed on certain rooms making things more difficult (these affect the first team(s) in the room and only hangs around for one round). The goal is the defeat the boss monster (which moves up when both teams fail). A timer is optional.
Through the Ages: Leaders and Wonders (working title) has a planned release of second quarter 2019 (both physical and digital). This expansion for Through the Ages mainly contains more leaders and wonders for each age of the game.
Fun Fact: At SPIEL '18, CGE had a very VERY large helium balloon over their booth. It was so big that it took two tanks to fill it. (Photo, copyright CGE.)
—KOSMOS Information provided by Tom Wetzel, Customer Service Representative.
Mercado was released at Gen Con 2018. This is a bag draw game where players draw colored coins from a bag and place them around tiles in a display, on their designated player color's side (each tile has all four player colors, one on each side). The tiles represent merchants, objects, and perfume, each of which has a cost in some combination of coins. Merchants give players wild coins or privilege tokens. Privilege tokens give players victory points and/or benefits. Objects give the players victory points and/or effects (may be good or bad, e.g. gain a counterfeit coin in your bag), better than privilege tokens. Perfumes also have beneficial effects. The player who makes a complete circuit on the score board triggers the end game; the player with the most points wins.
Ubongo Fun-Size was released December 2018. This is a smaller box (seven inch) game with thinner puzzle card tiles but the number of puzzle cards included is the same as the original Ubongo game (but double-sided) and the pieces are the same size! Game play has been changed to eliminate the die, instead it is a race to finish filling in the puzzle area first (either with three pieces or four pieces, depending on the side played — four pieces being more challenging). First person to finish gets to keep their puzzle card and takes a gem; other players who finish within an allotted time also get to keep their cards. Players play eight rounds (eight cards). Scoring is one point per gem and one per card. The winner is the player with the most points.
Fun Fact: Rüdiger Dorn got his start designing board games early in life when he "got to know the C64-games Donkey Kong and Frogger." Unfortunately he did not have a computer, so he designed his own board game versions of these games. When asked why he decided to design a bag pulling game, he responded "I love the suspense and the feeling of the material in my hand."
—AEG Information from Todd Rowland, Alderac Entertainment Group.
War Chest was released at Gen Con 2018. This is an abstract bag-building war game. High quality poker chips, representing players' units, are drawn each turn; they determine what a player can do on their turn. The goal is to control certain spaces on the board (there are not enough for each player). Each game, players draft four of a possible sixteen units, giving the game a lot of variety and strategy options.
Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto has a planned release of first quarter 2019. This is a "saga" expansion, as opposed to a legacy one, giving a story line to the game but the game may be reset and replayed. Scientists, in the process of trying to invent warp technology, attracted a planet-eating creature to the players' star system. This expansion takes players through the "adventure" of solving this problem.
Fun Fact: About two years ago, for the Thunderstone Quest Kickstarter, the CEO of AEG put a yellow meeple in one of the playtest photos used on the Kickstarter page. There was a note saying "yellow meeple not included." People started asking why the yellow meeple wasn't available. It became a sort of joke over the next couple years. The yellow meeple started showing up in other AEG promotions and advertisements, even sporting anime eyes in the Unicornus Nights advertising. When Thunderstone Quest was released, an actual yellow meeple was included due to its popularity.
Echidna Shuffle was released June 2018. This game is basically an echidna traffic jam where players try to deliver their three bugs to their tree stumps. During setup, players place put pick-up markers out on the game board; this is where the bugs will be picked up. An opponent (to player's left) puts a player's corresponding three stumps on the board. The winner is the player who delivers all three of their bugs.
River Explorers (working title) is planned for release in 2019. The object of game is to make the most money by moving a stack of explores with at least one of your own in it up river along a marked path, dropping explorers (one per space) as you move. The owner of an explorer gains money for being dropped at their trading post (one per disk in the stack next to their matching trading post). At the beginning of your turn you put a trading post next to a space then take your turn: placing an explorer on an empty space or moving a stack of explorers.
Fun Fact: The sequel to Echidna Shuffle will be called Echidna Candy Store, based on the pun.
Meeple Realty makes inserts, and now miniatures, for board games.
Meeple Realty - Terraforming Mars miniatures (seen in photo) coming to Kickstarter early 2019.
—Stronghold Games Information provided by Stephen Buonocore, President Stronghold Games.
AuZtralia was released in November 2018. Thematic spiritual successor to A Study in Emerald. The Old Ones, after being defeated in England, have taken up residence in Australia. Players must now defeat them while building rail systems and mining resources. Mechanisms include resource management, rail building, and combat versus the Old Ones (semi-cooperative element against the Old Ones).
Terraforming Mars: Colonies was out in November 2018. This is the fourth expansion to Terraforming Mars. Players now visit the outer planets' moons and astroids, where players establish colonies and set up trade routes. There is more player interaction via trading and having other players visit your colonies.
Fun Fact: Stephen sent me a couple fun facts. Here's one: Sir Percival (see Stephen's cat photo) was the first "Knight of The Stronghold." Stephen might be a little too attached to his pet. For your entertainment, I thought I'd share an excerpt from our Fun Fact conversation:
—Mayday Games Information provided by Ryan Bruns, President Mayday Games.
The Golden Sails has a planned release of second quarter 2019. This is a set-collection, card-driven game where players are navel merchants trying to acquire sets of goods to meet demand: spices, gems, weapons, animal, and spells.
Bad Doctor was pre-released at Gen Con 2018 and recently released. This is a tile-laying, player action based game where the goal is to treat patients with the hopes of curing them, or at least not letting them die on your turn. If a patient dies on another player's turn or is cured on your turn, any doctor markers you have on the patient come to your score pile. Doctor markers are put on patients through the best use of your two actions per turn. The winner is the first player to collect 8 doctor markers.
Fun Fact: Artist Bill Holbrook did the artwork for Bad Doctor. He also does the word's longest running daily web comic: Kevin and Kell.
Archmage: Ascendant, expansion for Archmage, has a planned release mid-2019. This adds four new modules to the game: Places of Power, New Spells, Prophecies, Cooperative Play (two-player).
King's Forge: Masterworks has a planned release of third quarter 2019. This is the fifth expansion for King's Forge. There are four new types of dice: Borealis ("wild"), Aether Ore (metal/magic), Heartwood (wood/gem), Grimstones (chaotic/variable). The game also includes Ambassadors and a new Royal Decree.
Fun Fact: Tabletop Tycoon has a town, Tabletop Tycoon Town, where their staff has unique character representations (avatars) that they choose. They have an artist create each representation, which goes into the Tabletop Tycoon Town image on their website. The avatars are also used on their reserved parking spaces and business cards.
—Gamelyn Games Information provided by Nathan Hatfield, Chief Sales Officer.
Tiny Epic Zombies was released October 2018. The game features five modes of play: cooperative AI controlled zombie, cooperative with human controlled zombie, competitive with AI controlled zombie, competitive human controlled zombie, and solo. It introduces a whole new set of items for ITEMeeples® (e.g. axe, machetti, chain saw). There are two vehicles (cop car and motorcycle) in which ITEMeeples can ride, allowing them to move further. There are 14 human characters/cards, with zombies on the backs of the cards, for a total of 28 choices. Humans must complete three objectives to win the game; zombies must kill all humans to win. There are different levels of difficulty as well, e.g. one survivor token death ends the game vs. some number of deaths ending the game. Note: players are not eliminated from the game upon token deaths. Game play is under an hour.
Tiny Epic Mechs has a planned release of mid-2019. This is an arena combat game, player vs. player, with action programming (e.g. Robo Rally). The ITEMeeples® in this game actually go inside power armors and mech warriors, which sit on the board. When an ITEMeeple moves to it, it may jump inside.
Fun Fact: Every member of the Gamelyn Games team has bungie jumped and sky dived.
—Grey Fox Games Information provided by Alex Goldsmith, Grey Fox Games.
City of Gears was released at SPIEL '18. This game originally started as a contest entry for Best Steampunk Game on The Game Crafter, a website for creators to build and sell games. This is a resource management, area control and engine building game where you uncover a lost steampunk city and bring it back to life, using robot workers you deploy from your factory. The game includes 21 unique city tiles, 9 of which you use each game, and 40 different development cogs, each of which grant you a special player power.
Reavers of Midgard is the sequel to the worker placement game Champions of Midgard. It was recently funded on Kickstarter and has an expected release date of second quarter 2019. Reavers of Midgard's core mechanism is single worker placement, with each player getting one action and the rest getting weaker and weaker versions of the same action in turn order. You will send your viking crew to do battle with epic monsters, raid fortified keeps, get boat upgrades from villages, and conquer new lands.
Fun Fact: When Reavers of Midgard was initially pitched by J.B. Howell, the game was originally themed to take place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
—Devir Information provided by Adam Growden, Sales Administrator, Devir Games.
Silk pre-released at BGG.CON, with the full release first week of December 2018. In Silk you play a giant silk worm farmer in the Akaishi Mountains. You will be using your silk worms, shepherd, mastiff, and building improvements to control areas of the board. Your worms will graze on the grassy tiles to score points. Each player will determine their actions by rolling two dice at the beginning of their turn, showing what actions they can take. The die results can be modified by players spending their victory points to adjust the result up or down. Actions can be anything from scoring points to bumping an opponent's silk worm to the Ookami, a monster who steals any silk worms he comes in contact with (costing the player points).
Fun Fact: The designer Luis Ranedo is the singer of Spanish Rock band Madera.
Papua will be releasing alongside Silk the first week of December 2018. In Papua, players compete by sending scientists to different board locations allowing them to: discover new plant and animal cards, increase their number of scientists, gain more actions in a turn, gather food and money to supply their expedition, or collect scientific notebooks recording their findings. Players will score points through discovering new species, recording their findings, and resource accumulation. Sets are collected through a mixture of worker placement and secret bidding.
Fun Fact: Papua's title art is based off of an image of the Hewa people. The Hewa were one of the last contacted tribes in Papua, with contact not being made until 1975.
Fleet: The Dice Game was released at the end of 2018. This is a roll-and-write game set in the Fleet universe. Players go fishing by drafting "fish" dice that are used to acquire boats and fishing licenses (special abilities). The object of the game is to gain the most victory points by visiting the market, wharf, and harbor. Players sell fish to gain coins in the market and visit buildings at the wharf for end game victory points or special abilities. The harbor unlocks extra storage, more fishing, and victory points.
Escape Plan, by the designer of The Gallerist and Lisboa, has a planned release at Origins 2019. Players are each members of a gang who pulled a bank heist then hid money around the city. Now that it's safe to retrieve the money (freshly laundered of course), they are all suspicious of each other. Each tries to recover the most money from the various businesses where money was stashed. The game takes place over three days (with rounds of 6 to 8 actions). To win, a player must escape the city with the most money.
Fun Fact: Eagle-Gryphon's CEO, Rick Soued, and his wife, Joanne, just spent the last six months traveling all across Europe for their anniversary.
—Queen Games Information provided by Ian Kissell, Queen Games.
Bastille was released at SPIEL '18; it premiered at BGG.CON in the U.S. This is a light to medium Euro game in which players are trying to gain victory points by acquiring leaders, by completing missions, and through various bonuses. It is a worker placement game where the higher placement (influence number) goes first (or first player in the space if tie). The workers (influence number) may be upgraded through one of the actions.
Luxor: the Mummy's Curse, an expansion to Luxor, is expected to be released first quarter 2019. It includes three expansion modules: The Mummy, Pitfalls, and New Treasures.
Fun Fact: Queen Games started by selling Carrom boards for about the first ten years.
—Surfin' Meeple Information provided by Ian Birdsall, Group Marketing Manager, and Nikki Pontius, Surfin' Meeple.
Treasure Island, released at SPIEL '18, premiered at BGG.CON as a play-to-win tournament. Published by Matagot. In Treasure Island, one person plays Long John Silver. The other players are interrogating him to find out where he buried his treasure. Some information is hidden and some is public knowledge. The game includes a dry erase board map of the island, rulers, and templates. Players use the latter two to draw lines along which they move, and circle their dig area. Clues can include the direction to where the treasure is buried.
In Imagineers, published by Maple Games (below), players are building rides in a theme park to attract customers, represented by colored meeples, e.g. blue like water rides, red like thrill rides, yellow like family rides. Each player may also upgrade their own roller coaster (on their personal player mat), for example, by adding a loop to their roller coaster. The object of the game is to gain the most fame. Players use happiness points to gain fame; money is necessary to build new attractions and upgrade roller coasters. You generally get happiness by having visitors ride attractions (any player may do this) and gain money by having visitors use your attractions. The game has an intuitive Mancala style of play.
Fun Fact: Chris Leder originally designed Imagineers nearly twenty years ago under the title "CoasterCraft."
Fun Fact: Surfing' Meeple got their name from one of the owner's children who loved to surf while living in Californa.
Dragon Boats of the Four Seas is a light euro style game with elements of auction bidding and set collection. Set in a fictional kingdom inspired by Chinese mythology, players take on the roles of leaders of one of the great houses of Zhong-Guo. Over several rounds, players will trade, build farms, and make offerings for the safe passage of their ships to the forgotten lands. Dragon Boats of the Four Seas comes with three-dimensional dragon boats. There are many viable strategies to attain victory.
Fun Fact: The original "Four Seas" metaphorically made up the borders of pre-Han dynasty China.
Western Legends is available now (reprint also in the works due to demand). It is an open world, sandbox game. Assume the role of historical figures of the American West as you carve out your legend in any number of ways. You can gamble, drive cattle, fight bandits, prospect for gold, rob the bank and become an outlaw, or become a marshal and uphold the law. The possibilities are near endless. Very thematic.
Fun Fact: Fans of Western Legends will have the opportunity to Ante Up! this January.
Kami-Sama is an intuitive strategy game set in rural Japan during the Edo period. Assume the role of one of twenty Kami with your own unique powers. Use your asymmetrical abilities to place or remove shrines, build patterns to gain favor, draft villagers for bonuses, and work in balance with Nature to become the chief deity of the land. Kami-Sama will be available for retail release in first quarter 2019.
Fun Fact: The designers of Kami-Sama hid a number of cute cats among the villages in the game.
—Floodgate Games Information provided by Ben Harkins, Owner Floodgate Games.
Sagrada: 5&6 Player Expansion was released at Gen Con 2018. This expands the Sagrada base game to five or six players and introduces new private objectives that are position based, shown on each player's card as shaded areas. It also adds a private dice pool: two dice of each color that are rolled only at the beginning of the game; on their turns players must choose one die from their private pool and one from the public draft pool.
Bosk has a planned release of late Spring 2019. This is an area control game where players, each as a species of tree, play over four seasons. Spring is when players grow trees, Summer is a scoring round (along the park trails), Autumn is when the leaves fall off the trees - covering certain areas, and in Winter players score for area majority per region in the park.
Fun Fact: Bosk was signed by Floodgate Games after Daryl Andrews (co-designer) showed it to them at BGG.CON 2017.
—Indie Boards & Cards Information provided by Nick Little, Vice President of Production and Development.
Exodus: Paris Nouveau was released September 2019. This is a social deduction game with hidden teams (hunters and rescuers), set in the Dystopian Universe. This game is a little heavier than The Resistance. It has an auction system to determine the leader each round. There are multiple ways to win depending on which team a player is on.
Aeon's End: Legacy has a planned release of end of January 2019. This is the first legacy deck-builder game. It is a cooperative game in which players play as mages trying to fight off a big nemesis boss monster. Players start out as a adept mages. At the end of each chapter (e.g. game) players may upgrade their respective mages by choosing their abilities. At the end of the campaign, players will each have a complete mage that may be played with all other Aeon's End games (i.e. it's a character generator!). Unlike other legacy games, over 80% of the content is repayable outside of the legacy campaign. A reset pack will be available upon release that will allow players to replay the campaign and generate new characters.
Bladius, Aeon's End: Legacy
Fun Fact: The designer of Aeon's End: Legacy loves Kpop music.
Warehouse 13: The Board Game will be released first quarter 2019. This is a semi-co-operative (hidden traitor) game where players take on the role of one of the Warehouse agents. The game comes with rules for a fully cooperative variant. Like the television show, the characters go out seeking to retrieve dangerous artifacts: "snag it, bag it, and tag it." Players spend actions to obtain cards, then use the cards to get dice (working the case). Artifacts are retrieved by rolling the right combination on dice to match those on the artifacts. There is a field agent training video available (rules).
Infinite Dreams Gaming has plans to Kickstart an expansion second quarter 2019 featuring H. G. Wells and James MacPhearson as playable characters.
Fun Fact: The designers Michael Aldridge, Russell Rupe, and M. Shawn Smith II, were invited by Eddie McClintock, one of the main actors, to his house to play the game. He played his character, Pete. Eddie also did the voiceover for the Kickstarter video.
—BGG Geek Store
So many cool things to be found at the BGG Geek Store: promos, games from Asia, apparel, and more!
KeyForge: Call of the Archons was released in November 2018. This is a unique deck game by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. Each starter box contains two starter decks (two different decks but these are the same in each starter box) plus two completely unique decks (across all boxes produced) plus all the components to play the game with two players. The goal of the game is to forge three keys. Each player's decks contains cards from three of the seven available houses. On their turn they may play as many cards as they want (no cost) from only one of the houses. The cards allow players to collect aember, attack their opponent's creatures, etc. Aember is needed to forge keys.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game – Mother of Dragons expansion has a planned release of December 2018. This adds House Targaryen (dragon meeples to control!) and House Arryn, the Iron Bank of Bravos option (loans), and a side board of Essos (check spelling of all this). It also expands play to eight.
Fun Fact: The lead developer of KeyForge, Brad Andres, created a character of himself in the game, featuring his image on one of the cards: Quixo the Adventurer (a common house Logos card).
Neon Gods was released November 2018. This is an area control game that takes place in the "futuristic" year of 2009. Each player controls one four brightly colored gangs whose goal it is to rule the city by gaining the most blurp. Players gain blurp by building structures, selling product tokens, and winning fights. Players add cards to their game decks through recruiting, which in turn places more of their own gang figurines on the board.
Comanauts has a planned release of December 2018. This is the successor game to Stuffed Fables but geared more towards adults. It has similar game mechanisms and is more streamlined and stepped up a bit. Dr. Strobal has gone into a coma taking with him the knowledge of how to save the world. Players take on the roles of comanauts and venture into his subconscious to try to wake him up in time to prevent the end of the world.
Wyrmwood makes beautiful game-related things out of gorgeous woods (like purpleheart, zebrawood, and black walnut): dice towers, dice trays, deck boxes, game tables, and more!
—Z-Man Games Information provided by Beth Erikson, Z-Man Games.
The Great City of Rome debuted in Europe at SPIEL '18; the U.S. release is planned for early 2019. Players are trying to rebuild Rome, creating their best plan, by placing cards in a 4x4 grid, to present to the Emperor. The first player (which rotates) places their pawn on an action strip denoting resources. The few resources gained the more choices of city cards the player has, i.e. the strip has five resources (bricks and cogs in various order, over 6 double-sided strips), the further down the player plays on the strip, the more they gain, i.e. they gain all resources from the space they are on and up. The player with the best city plan _ that is, the most points — at the end of the game wins.
Narabi previewed at BGG.CON and has a planned release of early 2019. This is a small, quick co-operative card game in which players are trying to organize stones in a garden. The stones are cards, numbered or blank, that must be put in ascending order either clockwise or counterclockwise. Each stone card has a corresponding restriction card associated with it (before the game starts, each stone card will be randomly paired with a restriction card and put in a card sleeve - this provides variability between games). Each player gets a number of cards, depending on the number of players, giving them limited knowledge of their cards (restrictions). The players' cards are in front of them with stone side up so restrictions are hidden. On their turn, players exchange stones, working towards the correct arrangement one move at at time while following the restrictions.
Fun Fact: Atha Kaanani, the staff illustrator for Z-Man Games, used his girlfriend's image on the cover of Pandemic: Fall of Rome. Since she's his artistic muse, you may see her featured in his other art as well.
Gem Rush Second Edition was released at BGG.CON. This is a 1 to 7 player, competitive or cooperative, fast playing game through a magical gem mine. Skillful hand management and play are key to scoring. The goal is to get the most points by building out rooms in the mine. The new edition added new magical gems and skill cards for individual player skills.
The third printing of the second edition of Nemo's War is due to be released third quarter 2019. This will include two new expansions, Bold and Caring and Dramatis Personae. Bold and Caring includes two new motives: adventure and humanist. Dramatis Personae includes twelve new adventure cards mainly dealing with the crew (old and new).
Fun Fact: "A Christmas Miracle" promo card is in production for Nemo's War (set in 1870) in which Captain Nemo invents nascent light bulbs and illuminates them on deck for the assembled crew on Christmas Eve. The author of "20,000 Leagues Under the Seas," Jules Verne, was no fan of Christianity but a big fan of science, thus the card is a scientific nod on a Christian holiday.
—And now for something completely different...
My friend, Debbie Ohi, and I took a break from all the fun at BGG.CON to do a little shopping at my favorite Japanese "dollar" store, Daiso. Technically, it's a $1.50 store but that doesn't sound as good (and I barely acknowledge the extra $.50 plus tax... although this may have added to my checkout shock). Daiso is located only in a few western states right now, so whenever I visit one I make sure to plan time (and suitcase space) for Daiso. They have the cutest sticky notes! Little polar bears, penguins, colorful pencils, and so many others — it's hard not to buy them all. (They're only a dollar, right?) They also have really smooth paper, comparable to Rhodia writing pads (which are much more expensive). Perfect for pointed pen calligraphy practice.
Below is a photo of our combined haul. Funny how all those dollar items stack up to well over $100 (I'm not saying how much over either, just in case my hubby is reading this... love you baby!).
—Ravensburger Information provided by Mike Mulvihill, Ravensburger.
Carpe Diem was released at SPIEL '18. This is being hailed as a good introduction to Stefan Feld games since it's a bit more forgiving. This is a tile placement game in which players are trying to build up their own districts and gain victory points to win the game. Points are generated in various ways, and gained at the end of each of the four rounds and at the end of the game. In a four player game there is a tableau of 12 cards (reduced for fewer players) between which each player, at the end of a round, must place a marker between two cards (the space must be empty; they are not cleared during the game). The two cards score immediately. If a player does not have the resources or configuration in their district to score points, they get -4 points. The influence track determines the order players place their markers. The district, influence track, and resources will score at the end of the game.
Impact: Battle of Elements was released December 2018. This works similarly to Strike in which player toss dice into an arena (called a cauldron) trying to get matching symbols. In this version, the first die determines the element power that will be active for that game. For example, if the first die tossed has a lightning symbol on it, the Lightning Storm will be active. This means that whenever there are two or more lightning symbols showing in the cauldron, there will be a lightning storm: all players must quickly throw one of their dice into the cauldron at the same time. The active player then receives all dice that show matching symbols. A player who runs out of dice is knocked out of the game. The last player standing is the winner.
Fun Fact: For Halloween, Paula Biemann, Ravensburger's Consumer Marketing Specialist, dressed up as Ursula from their game Villainous. In the photo, she's also holding up the Ursula figure and the Arrogance card (featuring Ursula) from the game.
—WizKids Information provided by Zev Shlasinger, WizKids Games.
Magic the Gathering: Heroes of Dominaria Board Game was released at BGG.CON. This is a Euro-style game set in the plane of Dominaria. Players use mana for various actions, such as building manaliths, leylines, confronting the Cabal, and discovering artifacts. Player characters, Planeswalkers, also go on quests to gain victory points. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of games.
Bumúntú will be released in January 2019. This is a beautiful tile game where players use animal movement powers to collect tiles in order to gain points in various ways, depending on the animal. There is a favor board that determines the value of each animal at the end of the game. The board can be manipulated by players during the game by collecting specially marked animal tiles. There are a few tiles that are marked with symbols that will allow a player to score them at the end of the game as well. For example, animal tiles with masks on them give more and more points per mask collected.
Fun Fact: Almost everyone who worked on Maiden's Quest was female: artist, graphic designer, most playtesters, developer, lead play tester, and editors.
Cult: Choose Your God Wisely was pre-released at BGG.CON and should be in stores now. This is a worker/Priest placement game with a unique take on in-game currency: Followers. Players choose Gods and send their Priests to places in the Eternal City in an attempt to bring their deity victory over the minds and souls of humanity. Followers are gained and sacrificed. Altars are built to the different Gods as they clash in this new take on the genre.
Fun Fact: Cult: Choose Your God Wisely can now be played on Tabletopia (a virtual platform for board games co-founded by Agrology), allowing people to check it out before purchasing the physical game.
Rick and Morty Rickshank: The Rickdemption Deck-Building Game released at BGG.CON. This is a standalone game that is also fully compatible with the original Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game. New features include Access Tokens and Council cards. Access Tokens can be bought, gained, and spent in numerous ways. Many cards reference them in one way or another. They also give you the potential to increase the number of Votes you have when a Council card is played. Each Council card causes a Vote to be taken amongst the players. A Referendum is a Vote amongst the players to decide if they should all perform the listed action, or not. A Sanction is a Vote that players take to decide which player should be punished (with varying effects). Lastly, a Bid is a Vote on who should earn a positive effect. Here, each player Votes only for themselves, and the high bidder earns it.
Fun Fact: The infamous Szechuan Sauce card is in the game. Get it before it's gone!
Coldwater Crown: The Sea is scheduled for release in early 2019. It is the first boxed expansion to Coldwater Crown, the strategic fishing game from designer Brian Suhre. Coldwater Crown: The Sea integrates with the original game by adding a new fishing location (the Sea), five new species of fish, a new type of fishing tackle, punchboard fishing boats, and two variant species challenge tiles. A new Port action in the game allows players to move their fishing boat to "Sea," where they can catch Sea fish (and only Sea fish) with any color of bait. Sea fish are scored according to a special weight scale, with the potential for a lot of points, tempting players to stay "at Sea" longer while forgoing points from the standard fishing challenges.
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf was released in July 2018. It is a dexterity golfing game with a flickable paper "golf ball" that can fly, spin, hook, skip and flop. Players assemble and play-through a course, one hole at a time, from the punchboard obstacles provided in the game. They use standard mini-golf rules with modifications to account for the nuances of flicking a "golf ball" on a table. The rulebook provides diagrams to assemble 54 different holes, including trick-shot holes. Players may also design their own holes.
Fun Fact: During development of Mars Open: Tabletop Golf we conducted innumerable tests of the flight paths of the "golf balls," including distance trials on the floor like the one shown in the photo above.
—SolarFlare Games Information provided by Dave Killingsworth, Owner & CEO SolarFlare Games.
In late August 2018, SolarFlare released its first licensed game property, ROBOTECH: Force of Arms. It is a 1v1 sci-fi card game of fleet movement, area control, and bluffing, which plays in about 20-30 minutes. Everything you need to play comes in a box that fits conveniently in your bag or backpack. Player involvement and card interaction keep the game fresh so it's fun to play over and over. The game is also available online.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth, "ROBOTECH: Force of Arms is based on the 1985 Anime Robotech (The Macross Portion). Since we released ROBOTECH: Force of Arms the fandom has been wildly enthusiastic. We took scenes from the show and had the artists remake them in a modern and high resolution style that people have called 'Art as good as nostalgia remembers.' Since this has been so popular, we are actively working on ROBOTECH: Crisis Point, our early 2019 release (also a 1v1 but with deep strategy) based on the Masters part of the show, followed by ROBOTECH: Invid Invasion late in 2019, which will be a 1-6 player fully cooperative game based on the New Generation. Thus, if you sit and play all 3 games over a 2-3 hour period it will be like you played the show."
—Mercury Games Information by Richard "Doc" Diosi, President of Mercury Games.
Rail Pass will be released in mid-2019. It is a co-operative, modular pick-up and deliver game. The game is not quite like other train delivery games because it is timed. Players work together to deliver goods (colored cubes) from their respective cities to other players' cities, all of which are color coded (the cubes and the cities). There are always six cities in play regardless of the player count. Trains are loaded with cubes and passed to adjacent players sitting at the table. Although dexterity is a component, the main mechanism of the game requires loading and unloading trains of different capacities, and crew that can only deliver to an adjacent city before being sent back to their 'home' city. Logistics are a large part of this game. The game has a ten minute timer; players must deliver as many cubes to the correct colored cities as possible. Players score the two cities with the least cubes of their color delivered. Any dropped cubes (ones that may have fallen off trains as they are passed back and forth) are treated as negative points.
Big City: 20th Anniversary Jumbo Edition will be releasing in mid-2019. This reprint from the late Franz-Benno Delonge is the original modular city-building board game. It features new larger and detailed miniatures and is played on a colorful set of modular neighborhood boards. Utilizing cards for property ownership, players trade and play cards to place buildings and other structures onto the modular boards, scoring points for adjacency to other certain types of buildings, as well as whether the new building is in the "outskirts" (at the edge of the modular board) or "downtown" (encapsulated by other properties within the modular boards). The playing of the City Hall piece unlocks the ability to place many special buildings. A new redevelopment phase has been added to the original game to promote more property card trades among players. Also, a new expansion has been made for the game using pieces approved by the late Mr. Delonge.
Fun Fact: The City Hall piece fashioned for this version of Big City is Toronto's City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square.
Big City Parking Garage, a new piece from the expansion
Lincoln had on the special jersey for Game Night. Be sure to check out the latest episode.
This year there was a rather odd thing happening at the prize drawing. Number after number was called with no claim, and some that were claimed turned out to be incorrect (winning tickets are checked) — the games kept coming back. This was the first time in all the years I have been going that this has happened. I'm not saying it was anyone's fault, although it was guest of honor Tim Schafer's first time announcing. Just sayin'.
Tim Schafer, announcing yet another "winner"
Prizes, prizes, and more prizes!
When Jeff Anderson speaks, everyone listens intently: (Front) W. Eric Martin thinking about his next article, (R) Eric Lang falling asleep on his feet, (L) Michelle Alden and Matt Leacock sharing a private joke.
Finally Eric Lang, a.k.a. Bunny Ears, gets a taste of his own medicine. Way to go special guest Tim Schafer! You might even be invited back!
A very full room and one very happy (bordering on crazy?) looking Debbie Ohi (bottom right)
Special custom graphic posters given away
There were many other things going on at BGG.CON that I didn't get to cover. These included: Puzzle Hunt, Battling Tops, Orphans and First-Timers Meetup, Designer/Publisher Speed Dating, UnPub (Proto Alley), the ever popular Game Show (two times!), and more.
Hope to see y'all next year!!
Ironically, after yelling at Rodney to put his hands down, it was actually the best photo of the bunch.