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Let's Start 2019 with Previews of Spielwarenmesse, FIJ, and NY Toy Fair

W. Eric Martin
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With the dawn of a new year comes the dawning of a new convention preview on BGG, specifically a preview of games that will be demoed at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in Nürnberg, Germany; at NY Toy Fair in Manhattan; and at Festival International des Jeux (FIJ) in Cannes, France. FIJ is the only one of these shows where games will be sold (as it's the only one open to the public), so I've also listed new games that will be for sale in Cannes, some of which debuted at SPIEL '18 but are still new in my eyes.

BoardGameGeek will be present at all three of these events, recording game overviews in Nürnberg, snapping pics and taking notes in New York, and livestreaming game demonstrations in Cannes. In late December 2018, I reached out to nearly six hundred publishers to find out which shows they'll attend in 2019, so I have a good foundation from which to build when scheduling interviews and appointments for these three shows and the many more still to come.

This preview lacks a snappy name as I've mushed these three shows into a single list — and I did this because multiple publishers will show the same game at one, two, or all three of these shows, so it doesn't make sense to keep them separate.

The SNYFIJ 2019 Preview — oof, maybe you have a better suggestion? — is launching with four dozen listings for now, and I'll keep adding to it through mid-February 2019. I know of other new titles from KOSMOS, Moses, and Zoch, but since I have only titles or the briefest of descriptions, I'm content waiting to add them later. Plenty of time, right? No need to freak out yet. Let's save that for July once preparations for both Gen Con and SPIEL start crashing in at the same time...
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Tue Jan 1, 2019 1:00 pm
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PAX Unplugged 2018 IV: Pics from the Show — The Stuff of Legend, Quantified, Battlestations: Dirtside, In the Hall of the Mountain King, and More

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Let's close out my PAX Unplugged 2018 coverage with a round-up of random pics from the show, which took place Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Well, not truly random since I chose what to aim the camera at in the first place and I've deleted dozens of duplicate images and sat on embargoed pics and otherwise made authorial choices as to why I'd want to feature this over that, but sure, random.



Richard Garfield's Keyforge was the buzziest title at PAXU, with a line three deep at practically all hours in front of the Fantasy Flight Games booth, which was directly in front of one of the main entryways to the exhibitor space, which was in the sam hall as the "freeplay" area that included both the First Look tables and tables reserved for games taken out of the PAXU library.




James A. Wilson's Everdell was the second buzziest title based on my unscientific "crowd measurement" scale that consisted of me looking at crowds each time I passed a booth. Publisher Starling Games had several dozen copies of the collector's edition of Everdell for sale at PAXU, but all of the regular editions had been shipped to distributors by that point. All of them! Starling Games has no more copies in reserve, and a Starling representative at the show said it would be many months before the next printing of the game would be available.




While I've grown tired of the "Purr-ocessing" sign in the Exploding Kittens booth, I can appreciate how successful that booth is at every single convention where it's present. People love the mini-plays that ensue when someone approaches the wall to press buttons and order games or expansions, and these performances creates stories that others share, both in person and via social media, spreading awareness of the EK brand and making the effort involved in running this booth well worth it.

I wouldn't suggest that other publishers do the exact same thing, but they should consider that when they're selling games to players, they can sell more than just the game. Yes, the game will create its own experience that can be shared, but maybe that experience could begin before they even leave the booth...




Here's the hole in the exhibit floor where White Wolf Publishing was meant to be. In mid-November 2018, the company announced changes in which WWP would focus solely on brand management while parent company Paradox Initiative would, um, own White Wolf Publishing. It's not clear what Paradox will do since from now on White Wolf will "develop the guiding principles for its vision of the World of Darkness, and give licensees the tools they need to create new, excellent products in this story world. White Wolf will no longer develop and publish these products internally."




Jason Tagmire's Button Shy Games has a clear vision for the games it releases: Each release is a tiny game with a small price point that comes in a wallet-size package. The problem with this type of catalog, though, is how to market it to passersby when the games themselves as tiny and not likely to catch the eye.

Button Shy solved this problem by creating a booth that looked more like a clothing store than a game publisher's booth, with the games tucked into shirt pockets and the vital statistics of the games posted on boxes next to those shirts. Not blending in is a great way to get folks to give you a first look, and getting people to pause in their movement past your booth is a vital step toward introducing them to your games.




I realize that I'm focusing a lot on marketing in this round-up, but that's because I've already covered games played in my previous two round-ups from PAXU. I didn't play Ryan Courtney's Pipeline, for example, but this lit-up sign in the Capstone Games booth caught my eye and was unlike anything else I saw while walking the floor, so I stopped and looked. (I'm not the Capstone Games customer, though, so I moved on after checking out the sign for this game and others on display.)




Archon Games took something of the opposite approach to Button Shy and Capstone, with its booth being a colorless dimension that sucked you in due to it being weirdly and intriguingly monotone, more art gallery than sales stage.




A PAXU attendee shakes the final ten-or-so $50 mystery boxes, perhaps to see which one feels the heaviest. Not sure what other guideline you might have when spending money for a box that "may contain fun". I guess if the fun doesn't pan out, you'll at least have a greater quantity of kindling on hand.




Lone Shark Games' lead designer Mike Selinker was leading players through demo games of Apocrypha Adventure Card Game: Box Two – The Flesh and Apocrypha Adventure Card Game: Box Three – The Devil, which both debuted at PAXU. Again, I need to poke publishers far in advance of this show in 2019 in order to put together a convention preview and highlight debuts like these. It's hard to make plans for a show when you're not even sure what will be available there!




Battlestations: Dirtside is a standalone game from Jeff Siadek of Gorilla Games, and whereas Battlestations: Second Edition focused on what's required to keep a spaceship running in space, Dirtside lands that ship on the ground and confronts you with unexpected happenings on multiple worlds.




Gamewright has licensed the real-time reaction game Twin It! from designers Nathalie Saunier, Rémi Saunier, and Thomas Vuarchex and publisher Cocktail Games and debuted it at PAXU ahead of the game's "official" introduction to the market at NY Toy Fair in February 2019.




Asmodee demoed Black Mirror: NOSEDIVE, which debuted at the U.S. retail chain Target in late November 2018. I know some folks still protest the use of electronic devices in board and card games, but you might as well protest co-operative games. Given the number of titles hitting the market each year, you can be assured that (1) more designers will experiment with app-integration in their creations and (2) most designers and publishers will release app-free games, giving you more titles to explore than you can possibly absorb in a lifetime without other commitments.




In addition to selling the newly released Endeavor: Age of Sail, Burnt Island Games engaged in one of this era's most common convention activities: Showing off a game ahead of a crowdfunding project intended to bring said game to print. The practice makes sense, though, as I got a far better idea of how Jay Cormier and Graeme Jahns' In the Hall of the Mountain King works from three minutes of face-time than from fifteen minutes of reading and rewriting the description on the BGG game page.




The Stuff of Legend is a comic book series from Mike Raicht, Brian Smith, and Charles Paul Wilson III from Th3rd World Studios that started in 2009, and that series is now being transformed into a co-operative board game from designer Kevin Wilson. Here's an overview of the game:

Quote:
As Allied forces fight the enemy on Europe's war-torn beaches, another battle begins in a child's bedroom in Brooklyn when the nightmarish Boogeyman snatches a boy and takes him to the realm of the Dark. The child's playthings, led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel, band together to stage a daring rescue. On their perilous mission, they will confront the boy's bitter and forgotten toys, as well as betrayal in their own ranks.

In The Stuff of Legend, each player takes on the role of one of the boy's loyal toys, each with their own unique abilities. Players work co-operatively, scouring the Dark in search of the Boy before the Boogeyman can escape with him. Players beware, through the course of the game your allegiance may change, and at any point one of your fellow players could be secretly working against you for the wicked Boogeyman.





Planetoid will be a 2019 release from Jon Mietling and Portal Dragon, with this game being a memory-based, set-collection game.

The production of the game board is smart, with a double-layering of cardboard that allows you to place tokens in the holes, then press on the edge of a token to lift it up in order to grab it and flip it.




The Stars Align is a two-player game from Sean Fenemore and Matt Radcliffe that (I believe) Breaking Games debuted at PAXU.

In the first half of the game, players take turns revealing patterns on cards, then placing stars in their color on the 7x7 board. Once the second half begins, you can start overlaying the pattern on spaces that are already filled, flipping up to three of the opponent's stars to your color while placing your own stars in empty spaces. When you fill a row or column with stars in your color, you score a point, then remove those stars from the board. Whoever scores five points first wins!




Deblockle is the first board game from Project Genius, a Texas-based publisher of brainteasers and logic puzzles. The company already has a presence in the Barnes & Noble U.S. retail chain, so its debut title will also have a presence there — which is a nice way to put your game in front of a bunch of potential customers.

In the short game, you flip a block to an adjacent space on your turn, then move the block based on the symbol now showing on its face. Move a block to the opponent's star space, and you remove it from the board. Remove three blocks first to win the game — or four blocks once you've moved past the introductory game.




One of the games I most excited about checking out at PAXU was Janna Ulrich's Quantified, which is due out in 2019 from Quality Beast.

Unfortunately, my to-do list was only in my head and not something that was driving me around the show floor to actually, you know, do, so I didn't see Quantified until late on Saturday night when it was too late to play. Thankfully my mistake turned out not to matter as the PAX representative overseeing that section of the First Look area said that Quantified is still very much in development for now. For background, here's the game overview in the BGG database:

Quote:
Quantified is a co-operative board game set in a world in which everyone's behavior is constantly surveilled and analyzed. A player's behavior results in a social credit score, determining their position on the social ladder. Players start from different positions on the social ladder, as refugee, unemployed or employed, with unequal access to human rights. The goal of the game is to make all rights accessible to all players and to fight the implementation of totalitarian policies.

During a typical turn, players can move around the city, add non-player-characters to their network, attempt to solve so-called rally cards (initiatives that support human equality), attempt to prevent so-called threat cards (automatic, constantly approaching negative effects, such as invasive amendments, correction camps or totalitarian laws), or even simply work an official or illegal job. The trick is that not every action can be taken by every player. For example, those without the right to movement take longer to cross the city, while those without the right to free speech can't share their rally cards with others — and even the actions you can take must be taken with care as all actions leak personal data. If too much data is leaked, the players may have to face behavior analysis cards that negatively impact their collective game state!

Ultimately, by solving enough rally cards or working their way up the social ladder, every player should have access to all four human rights. Once this is done, the players win! But if three totalitarian laws come into effect before then or the threat deck runs out, the players collectively lose.

I love games that tackle subject matter not previously explored, whether silly or serious, and this design is taking on issues relevant to billions of people around the world. I have no idea whether the game works or not, but I'm curious to try it out once it clears development and is heading to market.

And with this post, my PAXU coverage is at an end. I actually finished posting about a show before the next one took place. Only in December!

Sample cards from Quantified
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Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:00 pm
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Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn: Report from Table Games in the World

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Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on November 24-25, 2018, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated reports about this event (day one and day two) that were written by Takuya Ono, who runs the Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has given permission to reprint the photos from his post. Many thanks to Saigo! —WEM



Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn took place at Tokyo Big Sight (West Halls 3 and 4) for two days starting on November 24, 2018. Here is my report on its first day.

Approximately three thousand people were queuing before the opening of the show at 10:00 a.m. (according to Rael-san's report). The total attendance over the two days is expected to be 22,000 by the Game Market Management Office and approximately 23,000 by Rael-san.


Caption: "Game Market has opened."


Shortly after the opening, a greater number of booths than normal had many people queuing in front of them. This is likely due to an increase in the number of both participants and attendees. As a result, the aisles were congested here and there, requiring more time to move in the venue.




At the BakaFire Party booth, in addition to the people queuing to buy the games, fans crowded around the stage.




The Little Future booth also had many people queuing for the second edition of Tokyo Sidekick and its expansion. Different cosplay characters appeared there each day.




Antoine Bauza, who now visits Tokyo Game Market quite regularly, was seen visiting booths and actively trying out games. Furthermore, his autograph session took place to celebrate the release of the Japanese edition of Attack on Titan: The Last Stand. [Editor's note: Cocktail Games' Matthieu d'Epenoux is seen at right. —WEM]

Here are some games that attracted people's attention:




SINGULARITY is a tower defense and worker placement game from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club, whose previous game Improvement of POLIS released last autumn, is one of the finalists for the Game Market Award. It sold out quickly.




Duetti Pantiino (from UNiCORN) is a card game about placing one's ideal panties in line according to the player's fetish. It sold out quickly.




Mamey (from Hoy Games) is a card game about collecting cards from bean fields and selling them in sets to the market. There are three fields where cards accumulate if they are not selected. There is an upper limit to the number of cards you can keep in your hand, requiring tactical handling.



TOKYO✖CROSSING, released on trial from Hanayama, is a game about making your way through the busy pedestrian scramble of Shibuya, Tokyo. The character pieces move differently according to their types: ninja, otaku, and high school girl.




Jelly Jelly Games released the Japanese edition of Shifty Eyed Spies, in which you wink at the player indicated on the card and try to determine the location on the table where that player is casting their glance. Meanwhile, you can challenge other players if you catch them winking.




Nage×Nage Portside YOKOHAMA (from KenBill) is a game in which you take turns playing cards. As soon as the icons on the cards played meet the criteria, throw your record disc into the turntable box in the center of the table. You need to throw in your record disc quickly without missing the box.




Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town (from One Draw) is a game that involves taking notes to deduce the positions of the pawns moved behind the screen by the game master.




Masala Magic (from natriumlamp games) uses scents of various spices for the gameplay. Nice scents were wafting around their table.




Saashi & Saashi had arranged with the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau to produce and release the Kyoto City Bus 90th Anniversary Edition of Let's Make a Bus Route. This edition has been sold at various stores in Kyoto, such as Yellow Submarine, Tokyu Hands, and Bricks, as well as at the Kyoto City Train and Bus Fan Fair.

I see more and more board game accessories at recent Game Markets. Here are some notable new items on display. They are reasonably priced and quite alluring.




Rasen Works brought a rich variety of dice trays of diverse sizes and patterns.




Hot Games, using a 3D printer, produced board game accessories, such as poo tokens for Who Did It? and tile holders for The Castles of Burgundy.




Colon Yuran's accessories and card cases included meeples lying in the field.




Nicobodo had a magnet label saying "Board Gamer in Car" and a 2019 calendar with beautiful photos of board games.




In this board game workbook from Dilettante, you can keep a log of the board games you have played.




Itayama Shoukai had a variety of wooden pieces.

BakaFire Party was not the only one to hold lively events in their block booth.


Sugorokuya invited guests to hold a participatory event to play pen-and-paper games and the giant-sized edition of Rhino Hero.




Masashi Kawaguchi of DEAR SPIELE, Azumi Date of Asobi Cafe, and Sho Shirasaka of Jelly Jelly Cafe speak during the board game café owner panel session hosted by Jelly Jelly Cafe.




Kengo Otsuka, Yoshihiko Koriyama, and Kazunari Yoshimitsu talk at the board game designer panel session hosted by Jelly Jelly Cafe.

I am looking forward to seeing many more events tomorrow.




•••


Here is my report on the second day of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn. The number of people queuing before the opening amounted to 1,700, almost half of that from yesterday (according to Rael-san's report), but the board game flea market, which opened one hour later, was much more crowded.




More than 1,300 items were brought to this flea market managed by the Asakusa Board Game Flea Market Management Office, and the congestion was handled by issuing numbered tickets to the visitors.

On the second day, I had to check only the new games not present on the previous day, so I had relatively more time to spare, which I spent visiting demo tables and chatting with people. Such time to spare reminds me of the earlier days of Game Market when it was held in Asakusa. As the booths grew in number, our time to spare decreased and that led to the demand to expand Tokyo Game Market to a two-day event. Among the people I met, there were people I met for the first time, friends of friends, friends to meet after a long time, friends from my local region... It is always fun to meet and chat with such people at the Game Market.

It is worth noting that at this Game Market, there were more block booths where they held panel sessions and mini-game events on both days. Along with this, I witnessed many people watching not only such events but also many demo tables without playing the games. Thus, starting from an event to buy games, Game Market has expanded to new dimensions, to an event to play games and further to an event also to watch games.




At the Jelly Jelly Cafe booth, rakugo storyteller Sanyutei Rakuten performed his TRPG-themed rakugo story titled "Innsmouth Nagaya" ("Innsmouth Tenement House") in front of an audience of more than one hundred people, who enjoyed the performance with laughter.

At 1:00 p.m., the ceremony for the Game Market Award took place for the designers of the five finalists (and winners of the Award of Excellence), namely Improvement of the POLIS, Instant Propose, Tenka Meidou, Tokyo Sidekick, and Tricks and the Phantom. The award ceremony was held in front of a large audience.


The designers of the five games that won the Award of Excellence stand in line


First, the Expert Game of the Year, which was won by The Founders of ENDE in 2017, was won this year by Improvement of the POLIS (from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club). Improvement of the POLIS is a gamer's game in which you develop the city-states of ancient Greece by utilizing the characteristics of each city-state. It is presently out of stock, but it has been announced that this game will be published and distributed widely.



Improvement of the POLIS (from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club)


After it was announced that there was no game to receive this year's Kids' Game of the Year, the Best Game of the Year was announced. With the sound of a drum roll, a decorated paper ball was broke in a traditional style to reveal the name of the winner, which was Tenka Meidou (from 77spiele). Tenka Meidou (which means "World Rumbling") is themed on the battles during the Sengoku period (the period of warring states). The chief juror Jun Kusaba commented that the game's flow to conquer small castles, then send reinforcement to larger castles reminded him of the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga, while the system to choose the areas to move one's troops by combining three dice rolls has a beauty like that of Reiner Knizia's games. There was also a comment mentioning that this third game from 77spiele is made with minimal components, such as the board being printed in black and white while the pieces were bought from 100-yen shops, demonstrating that the game's appeal can come through even without a fascinating appearance.

The game designer Shinichi Yogi, upon receiving the award, commented that he adores the works of Sid Sackson and Reiner Knizia and was very pleased that such designer's name was mentioned by the chief juror Jun Kusaba. He has not released any game after this third game, but I hope that receiving the award will prompt him to design more new games.


Tenka Meidou (from 77spiele) [Editor's note: This article's author, Takuya Ono, stands at right. —WEM]

The award ceremony venue was then transformed into an area to demo and try out the award winners: Improvement of the POLIS and Tenka Meidou. I noticed some staff members there teaching with remarkable skills how to play the games. I became curious and asked about them, and found out they were members of an organization called Analog Game Eventers, who were there by the request of the Game Market Management Office to teach how to play a number of board games as well as to work as game masters of some TRPG. In addition to their love for the games, they had studied in advance the rules of the games they were to teach in addition to making other efforts to prepare, such as devising short-game variants to demo long games. Game Market is being supported by such labor in the background.

Here are some board games I played and some that gathered attention on the second day:




A new edition of Tricks and the Phantom, which received the Game Market Award of Excellence, was published from Oink Games with renewed artwork for wide distribution.




5×5 City (from OKAZU Brand) is a tile-placement game to develop your city in accordance with the effects of building and blocks.




Candiabury (from Northgame) is a game to determine the whereabouts of the candy marbles dropped from the top of the board (which represents the night sky). Players choose one of the pockets to collect their marbles. Northgame has consistently released games with beautiful hand-made components in a small number of copies.




Noblesse Wallet (from ChagaChaga Games) is a game in which you draw coins from a bag and use them to shop, whereby you can increase usable special effects and the source of scoring. The players all share one bag, and this makes the game quite interactive and lively, prompting the players to shout things like, "Try to go for one more coin!" on another's turn.




No Hand (from 758 Board Game Circle) has the subtitle "trick-taker without cards in your hand". After partly sharing the available information about the trump, how to follow suit, and ranks, some cards are placed in line and the players bid for the card they wish to play. Later, the players' applied rules are disclosed, then they check which color has won the trick.




I Don't Wanna Leave Kotatsu (from Shime Shime Games) is a game about choosing whether or not to stay under the warm kotatsu-blanketed table on a cold day. The players secretly check their household chore cards and place orange tokens on the kotatsu table. Then they simultaneously choose to stay in the kotatsu or to move out of it to do their chore. Lastly, the oranges are divided among the people in the applicable groups according to the choices they made.




Donou no Kai, which specializes in two-player abstract strategy games, was joined by the president of the publisher nestorgames (as shown) from Spain. They sold 33 games at their booth. Ken Shoda, who usually accompanies some guests as their interpreter/guide at Game Market, was also at the Donou no Kai booth as one of nestorgames' game designers.

Game Market Management Office has started the questionnaire surveys on the show and newly-released games. Your responses will be appreciated.

The upcoming events are Osaka Game Market 2019, which will be held on March 10 (Sun) at Intex Osaka, Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring in May 25 (Sat) and 26 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight (Aumi), and Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn in November 23 (Sat) and 24 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight (Aumi). The maximum capacity of the Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Hall is twice as large as the present West Halls 3 and 4, so it is expected to sufficiently accommodate the increasing number of participants.

•••


Follow-up article: Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn: Attendance of 22,000 over Two Days (original post)

Game Market Management Office has announced that a total of 20,000 people attended Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn, Japan's largest analog game event, which was held on November 24 (Sat) and 25 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight. The attendance was 12,000 on the first day and 10,000 on the second day. In total, it was 2,000 people more and 10% larger than that of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring (May 2018).

Since Game Market expanded to a two-day event, the attendance has steadily increased from 18,500 to 20,000 to 22,000. Over the past three Game Markets, the number of exhibitors has changed from 730 to 692 to 779 and the number of newly-released games from Japan has changed from 495 to 301 to 564. Thus, both of them have reached the highest number at this Game Market.

The questionnaire survey on newly-released games, including original games, imported games, Japanese editions, TRPG and SLG, has started. An autocomplete widget, which displays the applicable game names after you enter the first few characters, has been newly adopted for higher ease of rating. If you have played any of these games, please submit your rating on them.
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Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:00 pm
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PAX Unplugged 2018 III: Previews of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, Tiny Towns, and Stonehenge and the Sun

W. Eric Martin
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Yesterday I covered a few games that appeared at PAX Unplugged with little to no advance notice from publishers, so now let's look at a few that were on my radar thanks to some degree of marketing push ahead of the show.

Such pushes are encouraged if you want people to know that your game exists or will exist at some point in the future, and I can already see that ahead of PAX Unplugged 2019, I need to lean hard on publishers for info more directly so that I can create a convention preview for that show. On Saturday, for example, designer Daryl Andrews told me that Renegade Game Studios was selling Ghostbusters: The Card Game, which he had co-designed with Erica Bouyouris and which he had not known would be available until he arrived at the booth and they gave him copies. Designers tend to shout about their releases to the world, so if publishers aren't even telling them about the games that will be on hand, it's going to be harder for those titles to find a footing in this flooded marketplace.

• One company that had promoted the PAXU appearance of an upcoming release was Calliope Games, which had announced that Tom McMurchie's Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, the third title in its Tsuro game series, would be available for a sneak peek. I caught company president Ray Wehrs at the end of Friday for a sample two-player game — the title handles up to eight players, as with the other two Tsuro titles — and he was happy to play and is fine with me talking about the game, although he allowed only the (unfortunately) blurry image below of the prototype bits.

Gameplay in Tsuro: Phoenix Rising resembles that of Tsuro in that each player is moving their pawn over paths on the tiled gaming area and you want everyone else to have their paths cut short so that only you remain in play. If you're the only player with a piece on the board, you win. Where the game differs from earlier releases, though, is that the tiles are placed in troughs in a plastic game board and only the perimeter of the board is empty at the start of play. The center spaces each start with a double-sided tile on them, and instead of each tile having two connections along each edge, sometimes the tiles have looping connections that take you to the corner of a tile — perhaps even where no connection exists! Many of these center tiles have lanterns on them, and place a red, blue or yellow token on these lanterns at the start of play.

Each player begins with one life token, representing the ability of your phoenix to arise again and have a second life if travels off the board. On a turn, if your phoenix is off the board or facing a blank space, you place your tile in hand on an empty space of the playing area; if your phoenix is at a dead end in front of a tile already in play, you pick up that tile and reorient it so that you can move along the path just built. If you move completely through a lantern space on your turn, then you collect a star token, and you can pick up multiple stars on a turn. At the end of your turn, move all such lanterns to different tiles in play, ideally setting up scoring opportunities on future turns.

If a player manages to collect seven stars, their phoenix has gained immortality and they win the game immediately.


Expect the final pieces to be in focus


Alderac Entertainment Group and designer Peter McPherson were showing off Tiny Towns, a game for 2-4 1-6 players that's scheduled for release on April 26, 2019.

What's more, they were demoing the game in what was nearly an ideal manner for a convention. McPherson and other AEG folks were behind a table on the edge of their booth, greeting everyone who passed and inviting them to play, with the possible reward of a $100 Home Depot gift card being dangled as an incentive. I passed the table multiple times and nearly always saw people playing, with empty seats being filled within a minute. Instead of you needing to mess around with the game components, the seven different building combinations were printed on the tablecloth, which allowed onlookers to play along and kibitz about what the actual players were doing. (The length of the table was the only downside as it was difficult from one end of it to clearly see the other end.)

Everyone played on a sheet of paper that contained the details of the giveaway, space for you to build, room to write down your points (with these spaces indicating additional gameplay elements that would come packaged in the box), and space for your name and email. AEG needed this info to contact you about the prize, of course, but more importantly you were signing up to be on its mailing list, giving them a way to reach out in the future and let you know when this game (or other titles) hit the market.

Whatever you think of AEG's games, this set-up is a model for other publishers who want to tease a game ahead of its release: make it easy to jump into a game or watch, tease other elements in the box while keeping the current demo streamlined, and get contact info so that you can connect with the player later since they're unlikely to remember everything they've played.

So what is Tiny Towns anyway? You might think of it as a town-building take on the awesome Threes! puzzle app. During the game, players build cottages, taverns, farms, factories, and three other types of buildings on a personal 4x4 grid. Each game starts with players laying out one card for each of these types of buildings, with the card specifying which building blocks you need in which combination in order to create that building.

On a turn, the active player calls out one of the five types of building blocks, then each player takes one of these blocks and places it in an empty space in their 4x4 grid. The next player in clockwise order calls out a block, and so on. After placing a block, if a player has an arrangement of blocks that matches one of that game's building patterns, then they can remove those blocks from their grid and place the appropriate wooden building on one of the spaces previously occupied. You don't have to remove them, and sometimes you want to leave your options open to take advantage of what an opponent might call — or keep them from being able to call something that will hurt you. Eventually, though, you need to convert blocks to buildings as that clears space in your grid and gives you more room to build.

Once you can't place a block, you're done and can tally your points, with you no longer calling our block types since you'd solely be trying to mess up others instead of building something yourself. The last player with room in their grid can place whatever they want block by block. Each building scores in a different way, with some buildings not scoring at all and with you losing a point for each remaining block. Farms feed up to four cottages, for example, and if you don't feed cottages, then you don't score points for them. When you complete a factory, you choose a type of good, and whenever someone calls that good, you can place whatever block you want in your grid.

Tiny Towns is my style of game, but I played like a dimwit and quickly had nothing to do but block up my town and pretend that I was sleep deprived and not really this bad of a player. In addition to having different block set-ups for the seven building types, the game includes a deck of block cards; if you want to focus solely on building in a learning game — or you want to deny mean players the chance to block you — you can flip the block cards at random to determine what everyone has to place.


My terrible tiny town


• Japanese publisher itten appeared at PAXU for its first U.S. convention, and in addition to selling past releases such as HATSUDEN, Here Comes the Dog, and the new version of Tokyo Highway that Asmodee is distributing, designer Naotaka Shimamoto was demonstrating Stonehenge and the Sun, a 2-4 player dexterity game that hits Kickstarter in mid-December 2018.

Many dexterity games feel like one another, especially those in which you stack or build things, and while Stonehenge and the Sun has a building element, that's not the focus of the gameplay. You and your fellow (perhaps godlike) players are building Stonehenge one block at a time on a circular base, but each time you build, you must then represent the passing of time by swinging a heavy metal ball — the stand-in for the sun — through the building area. If you knock over any blocks, you take them as penalty points, and whoever knocks over the fewest blocks wins.


Shimamoto preps the sun for launching


In more detail, each player starts with a marker evenly spaced around the base. On a turn, you take a block from the reserve and add it to the perimeter of the base or stack it on another block, with stacks being at most two blocks tall. Alternatively, you can take a block that's already on the base and lay it across two pillars already in play to create a gate. If you add a block, you must move your marker to either side of this new block, and the area where your marker is located is the target through which you must swing the sun. If you create a gate, then you don't move your marker. You can't share an area with another player, and you might be forced to move depending on how others place blocks.

After you build, you then launch the sun — and the question that nearly every observer had about the game is "How do you set that up at home?" At PAXU, itten had build a wooden frame over the table and attached the ball via fishing wire to this frame. In the First Look area, they suspended the ball from a mic stand. They were soliciting advice from players as to what they should include in the final box: a suction cup? a carabiner? a screw hook? Stonehenge and the Sun might be the only game that requires you to screw something into your ceiling in order to play.

The game includes rules for a second game called "Orbit", with this being a real-time game. You place the blocks around the base evenly, and each player places two markers next the base and opposite one another. Someone launches the ball in orbit around the base, and once it's circled three times, everyone start building simultaneously, placing blocks only next to their markers. You can't touch the ball or string or else play stops and you lose a point. Whoever places ten blocks by their markers first wins the round and scores a point; whoever scores three points first wins.

For a sample of what the game looks like in action, check out the video I tweeted from PAXU, a video that shows both success and failure:

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Fri Dec 7, 2018 1:00 pm
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PAX Unplugged 2018 II: Previews of Godsforge, Wavelength, Ubongo! Fun-Size, and Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

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Following BGG.CON 2018, I had thought that I was through with con coverage for the year, but then I asked Scott about attending PAX Unplugged, which took place in Philadelphia from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, and he said sure, so off I went.

I hadn't attended PAX Unplugged when it debuted in 2017 as it took place the same weekend as BGG.CON 2017, so this was new to me — and new to many other people as well based on the size of the crowd. The exhibitor space had roughly doubled in size from 2017, but the crowd seemingly hadn't — or at least that's what some publishers told me, with them estimating that the increased competition for attendee dollars hadn't been matched by a corresponding increase in attendees. Of course maybe the other exhibitors just had better things for sale. So many factors play into such things that it's hard to know for sure, and PAX has not released attendee figures as of this writing.

When can be said for sure is that publishers both announced new titles at the show and had upcoming games available for previewing, but they had done little in the way of marketing them ahead of the show — or perhaps I'm just no longer hep enough to track all of the social media platforms on which publishers do things these days. (Using the word "hep" is probably a good indicator of this.)

For example, the first sign of Godsforge on Atlas Games' social media accounts that I see is a tweet that was posted on the second day of PAXU only twenty minutes prior to me tweeting about the game after having played it. Weird.

In any case, Godsforge is a 2-4 player game from Brendan Stern with hypnotic otherworldly art by Diego L. Rodriguez that would ideally be on a six-foot-tall banner in order to attracts the eyes of passersby. Each player starts with 20-30 life depending on the number of players, with everyone attacking left and defending right in order to be the last one still in the game.

On a turn, everyone simultaneously rolls four dice up to three times using standard Yahtzee rules, then each player lays one of their four cards face down in front of them. In any order you want, players reveal those cards, paying the cost of them via specific numbers on rolled dice, the sum of rolled dice, veilstones, or a combination of the above. On the dice, 1s can be any number you wish, while an unused 6 can be spent to acquire a veilstone. Spells provide one-shot effects, while creations go into play in front of you, with some of them providing one-shot "enter play" abilities in addition to possible attack and defense values and sacrifice abilities.

Once all the cards have been resolved, players assess damage comparing their attack value against their target's defense. You then ditch any cards you don't want, then refill your hand to four. Once a player is eliminated, everyone still in the game starts taking damage from them each round in order to hasten the endgame.

I played a shortened two-player game with an Atlas representative and enjoyed the back-and-forth of play, the call-and-response of cards as my opponent attempted to chain out multiple creations in order to take advantage of special abilities, while I tried to keep him in check, boosting my health through spells, then digging for veilstones in order to put out a powerful creation that required the sacrifice of veilstones or one of my creations each turn. This style of gameplay is familiar from other games, but the art and graphic design is not, and Atlas would do well to highlight this as much as possible.


Sample cards in Godsforge


• Designer Elisa Teague was in the Ultra PRO booth for much of PAXU to demo her new dice game Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!, which debuted at the show from UP's Playroom Entertainment brand.

The game includes 25 dice, and each of the 2-5 players in the game start with the same number of dice, which show a lion on one side, a blank on the opposite side, and a bear and a tiger twice each on the other four faces.

All players play simultaneously within a round, starting by rolling all of their dice on the table. Each player then chooses one of the three animals from among their rolled dice, with lions being worth four points each, tigers three points, and bears two. After choosing an animal, the player sets aside all of the matching dice, then decides whether to roll again. If they roll the right animal, they'll score more points, with non-matching animals being irrelevant; roll any blank sides, though, and those dice are returned to the box. As soon as all players stop rolling in a round, whether voluntarily or due to them having no more dice to roll, they score points for their chosen animal, then a new round begins.

As soon as a player loses their final die, they're finished, and once all players have lost all of their dice, the game ends, and whoever has scored the most points wins.


Earring dice not included in the box!


• Thames & Kosmos, the North American branch of KOSMOS, debuted Grzegorz Rejchtman's Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition, which is yet another take on the Ubongo family of games that debuted in 2003 and that has sold more than five million games according to the cover of this particular item.

As in Ubongo, players of Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition compete to solve individual puzzles as quickly as they can. Each player has a set of eight polyomino pieces, each a different color. Players decide before the game begins whether they'll use the A- or B-side of the puzzle cards, with the A-side puzzles requiring exactly three pieces to complete and the B-side puzzles requiring exactly four. Which pieces? Well, you have to figure that out for yourself, with each puzzle having at least three different solutions.

At the start of a round, each player receives a new puzzle card and must race to fill in the blank spaces as quickly as possible. As soon as one player has done this, they start counting down to zero and everyone else must complete their puzzle before time is up. Whoever completes their puzzle card in time keeps the card for a point; the player who started the countdown both keeps their card and earns a gemstone worth one point. After eight rounds, the player with the most points wins.

To even the playing field between adults and children in Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition, the adults can play without the yellow piece — a straight line that covers three spaces. All of the puzzles can be solved without this piece, but doing so will be more difficult than normal...




Wavelength is the creation of designers Alex Hague, Justin Vickers, and Wolfgang Warsch, and a prototype of this 2019 release from Palm Court was available for playing in PAXU's First Look area beside the exhibitor space.

Wavelength is a party game in which you try to get your teammates to correctly guess where to place a dial along a spectrum, the endpoints of which are defined for the round by two bipolar concepts, such as "mysterious — expected", "round — square", or "useless emoji — useful emoji".

In more detail, the cluegiver looks at a card that shows two pairs of bipolar concepts, then chooses one of them and places the card in the device's holder. They close the window on the device, then spin the wheel to randomly determine where the target will be — all the way at one end of the spectrum, in the middle, or somewhere between the middle and an end. They close the window and give a clue to their teammates, who then move the red dial to where they hope the yellow bullseye target is located. The other team then guesses whether they think the first team is on target or to the left or right of the target.

Teams score points depending on how well they do, but as with many party games, the points are kind of beside the, um, point. Ideally everyone is giving clever and amusing clues, and the table gets to feel what it would be like to have hung out with Oscar Wilde.




We had only three players, so we fudged teams and did round-robin sessions of clue-giving, guessing, and counter-guessing. Overall the game delivers on what it's trying to do — assuming that the cluegivers can do their part, of course — but the turns in which the bullseye falls at the far end of a spectrum are disappointing because there's no mystery about them, nothing to discuss or puzzle out. If you have a spectrum of "evil — good" and the cluegiver says "Adolf Hitler", then you dunk for the round, shrug, and move on. The middle 80% of the spectrum is the interesting part because that gives everyone trickier challenges, and I'd prefer the device be reworked so that you can have a bullseye only in that range.

The game is still in prototype form at this point with a somewhat wonky device, so we'll see what it all looks like some months from now when it's actually coming to market. (By the by, bipolar concepts like "ugly — beautiful" are used in semantic differential questions to measure how individuals evaluate words and phrases. Psychologist Charles E. Osgood started this line of research in the 1950s, and people still use such studies today because they're sometimes viewed as less loaded or more meaningful than questions that pose more of a agree/disagree option. This latter style of question is the Likert scale, and you might see a statement such as "This game is challenging", then you're asked to fill in a circle: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree. By contrast, a semantic differential question might have a direction such as "Please rate this game", then confront you with something like "challenging ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ easy", giving you something to bounce off the word "challenging" rather than you considering it in a vacuum. More on Wikipedia...)
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Thu Dec 6, 2018 1:00 pm
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Game Announcements at PAX Unplugged 2018: Metal Gear Solid, Medium, Clank! Legacy, and TMNT: Change Is Constant and City Fall

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• PAX Unplugged took place in Philadelphia from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, and several publishers quietly announced games at the show or through one or more social media outlets, with IDW Games' announcement of Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game from Emerson Matsuuchi being the buzziest reveal:




I saw only this banner when I visited the IDW booth, neither Matsuuchi nor anything about the game, but he has confirmed via email that Metal Gear Solid is "not a retheme of Specter Ops", so you'll have to speculate along new lines as to what this new game might be.

Update, Dec. 5, 2018: Matsuuchi has passed along a few more details about the game: "Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game is a co-operative 'tactical espionage action' game for 1-4 players that's scenario based, with each scenario having its own playing time, but with most of them in the 60-90 minute range. The game will includes miniatures, but I wouldn't classify it as a miniatures game."

• IDW Games also announced a new pair of titles in its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game universe that started in 2016 with Kevin Wilson's TMNT: Shadows of the Past. TMNT: Change Is Constant and TMNT: City Fall are both standalone games containing five unique heroes and more than forty miniatures in total, while also being compatible with one another. Change Is Constant follows the first two story arcs of IDW's TMNT comic universe series, while City Fall focuses on the story of one turtle's unexpected recruitment into the Foot Clan. Wilson is overseeing development of these titles, with the design being led by Daniel Lansdown and Pete Walsh.

IDW Games plans to Kickstart this pair of games in January 2019, the same month that fifty thousand other games will also hit the crowdfunding site.



• At the 2018 Origins Game Fair, I played a single round of Medium from designers Danielle Deley, Lindsey Sherwood, and Nathan Thornton. Playing only one round is kind of lame seeing as it took at most two minutes to learn the rules and play, but it was late — and as it turns out, sometimes the smallest bites are the best ones, that nibble of something delectable that outshines everything else you gorged on during the day.

Medium is a quick-playing party game for 2-8 players that challenges you to think like your teammate. Each player has a hand of six cards, and on a turn one player lays down a card, then their teammate lays down a card. On the count of three, these two people need to call out a word or phrase that connects the words revealed on those two cards.

In my sample round, the words were "football" and "moon" (on cards revealed at random, mind you), so I called out "waterboys". (The football link should be obvious, and the moon link comes via this 1985 song from the band The Waterboys.) If my teammate Dan had also said "waterboys", we would have scored points. He didn't, though, so we then had to take what we had just said — let's go with "waterboys" and "half" since "half" works for both of the previous words — and on the count of three call out a word or phrase that connected those words. If teammates match on the second round, they score fewer points, and if they match on round three, they score even less. If you don't match after three rounds or if you freeze and don't call out anything at all, then your team scores nothing and refills its hands before the next team goes. Whichever team scores the most points wins.

Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me Games had showed me Medium at Origins, and now Greater Than Games (Dice Hate Me's parent company) has picked up Medium for release, most likely going straight to retail in 2019. If you want to try out the game for yourself before it hits the shelves, you can download the rules and sample card packs from the BGG game page.

• Finally, we have this brief video announcement from Dire Wolf Digital, co-publisher of Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure with Renegade Game Studios:



For those not interested in a video, you can cut to the chase via this image:




Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated, due out in Q4 2019, appears to be a co-publication between Dire Wolf and Penny Arcade, and the game bears this brief description for now:

Quote:
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated extends the deck-building fun of Clank! with legacy-style gameplay! Found your own franchise of the legendary adventuring company Acquisitions Incorporated, and shepherd your fledgling treasure-hunters to immortal corporate glory over the course of multiple games. Your game board, your deck, and your world change as you play to create a unique campaign tailored to your adventuring party. Be cunning, be bold, and most importantly be ready...

I have no history with Penny Arcade, so I didn't realize that "Acquisitions Incorporated" was anything other than an in-joke until I saw this press release on the Dire Wolf website that provided background info:

Quote:
Acquisitions Incorporated is the show that kicked off an entire genre based on a simple premise: "Friends having fun playing Dungeons & Dragons". Starting as a simple podcast in 2008, "Acq Inc." has grown into a beloved franchise encompassing sell-out live shows, video game appearances, and weekly streamed spin-off show, Acquisitions Incorporated: The "C" Team.

So many geek things that I haven't a clue about...
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Wed Dec 5, 2018 1:00 pm
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Game Demo Videos Resume from SPIEL '18

W. Eric Martin
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We got off to a good start in mid-November with the posting of individual game demonstration videos from day one of SPIEL '18, then we headed into BGG.CON 2018 and the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and everything got put on hold.

Now the video spigot is open once again, with the first two videos from day two of SPIEL '18 now live on BGG's YouTube channel and with 62 videos live so far on our complete SPIEL '18 playlist, with Lift Off from German publisher Hans im Glück being the most recent publication. A new video is scheduled to go live each hour between 8:00 and 20:00 EST (UTC-5) through Thursday, Nov. 29. If all goes well, then the day three videos will jump in line starting Friday, Nov. 30. Ideally we'll cruise through all 300-ish videos before we hit the end of 2018!


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Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:15 pm
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Time for the SPIEL '18 Re-Broadcast with Game Demo Videos Galore!

W. Eric Martin
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For five days at SPIEL '18 in late October, the BGG crew interviewed designers and publishers for more than eight hours a day, with a new game or expansion featured roughly every ten minutes. In case you missed our livestream on the BGG Twitch channel — or don't feel the need to watch every item covered — we've now started to post the individual game demo videos on the BGG YouTube channel, with each of those videos also appearing on the appropriate game or publisher page in the BGG database.

More specifically, you can head to the SPIEL '18 playlist to see the fifteen videos posted so far — most recently an overview of Dice Settlers — and I plan to post a new video each hour from 8:00 to 20:00 EST (GMT-5) each weekday until the video spigot runs dry. (That schedule depends on others doing the actual editing, and BGG.CON 2018 might interrupt that timing, but right now even with only the videos from day 1, I'm set through Friday, Nov. 16 at 9:00. Fifty-four videos just from day 1 coverage! And if the timing works out, we'll be done with SPIEL '18 coverage in five weeks. We'll see...

Aside from the videos shot in the BGG booth, this playlist will include those I recorded elsewhere during SPIEL '18, such as this overview of the forthcoming Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage from Babis Giannios and Nice Game Publishing.

I didn't record too many videos on my own as I was also taking pics in the press room, recording notes about upcoming games in 2019 (such as those from Portal Games [link], Lookout Games [link], and IELLO [link] that I've posted about already), and running around like a maniac for a wide variety of reasons. I vow to do whatever it takes to get through all of this material before the pressure of the 2019 Spielwarenmesse and FIJ conventions starts building — although I have started assembling that preview, along with ones for Gen Con 2019 and SPIEL '19. No time to waste!


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Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:41 pm
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Lucca Comics & Games 2018 I: Cleopatra Returns, The Dutch Prevail, and Costumes Abound

W. Eric Martin
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As in 2017, the annual SPIEL convention in Essen, Germany took place on the final weekend of October and the Lucca Comics & Games fair in Lucca, Italy started only three days after SPIEL ended, so I made the short hop from Düsseldorf to northern Italy to take in this fair once again.

The experience differed greatly from what I encountered in 2017 — covered in three reports here, here, and here — partly because I had already encountered the show once and knew what to expect (reminiscent of why I think it's so important to play games more than once prior to reviewing them!) and mostly because rain on the first three days of the fair kept me and my family saying, "We'll go the next day" repeatedly until we finally did attend on Saturday, and hoo boy, was the show ever crowded!


I believe this chart shows ticket sales each day of the show


The train from Florence was jam-packed before we even left the station, with me harassing people to move their bags from the seat so that my mother- and father-in-law could sit. Did you pay for a ticket for your bag? I don't think so, signore, so move it and make way for Nana!

My son Traver and I found seats after the third stop when some folks departed, but from that point on the train got only more crowded, filled with jedi, anime heroes, alien creatures, and Hogwarts students from every house. If J.K. Rowling gets a cut of every wand, scarf, and robe sold, then the HP books could disappear from store shelves and she'd still be set for life. When I attended Lucca in 2017, I went on my own, so I didn't recognize many of the anime characters around me, but now my son could point out everyone from Naruto, One Piece, Fairy Tale, and many other manga and anime series. As he said later, he didn't care about missing Halloween in the U.S. because it was way more fun watching adults dress up in far better costumes at Lucca.



The view ahead and behind while climbing over the railroad tracks into Lucca


Once off the train, you shuffled through the streets following the cosplay crowd, several people wearing costume-style onesies, and many more people wearing "normal" clothes to the fair's main entrance. You didn't have to buy a ticket to enter the Lucca Comics & Games fair because the event takes place across the entire city center of Lucca, which is surrounded by the remnants of walls from Renaissance times. If you wish, you can walk the city for free people-watching, but to enter the fenced-off locations of the fair that contain Japantown, the games hall, and the other specialized exhibits, you needed to buy a ticket (€19-21 for those ten and over, free for younger attendees).


Bare bones map that doesn't highlight all the fenced-off areas


Inside the game hall, I found a layout reminiscent of what I saw in 2017: game publishers occupying roughly three-fifths of the hall, with role-playing publishers, fantasy artists, retailers, video game publishers, and tchotchke sellers splitting the rest of the space.

Two new booths stood out from everything else: Z-Man Games was hosting the 2018 Pandemic Survival World Championship during the Lucca fair, and game designer Matt Leacock was on hand to observe. (Leacock noted that the challenges during these events are designed in-house by Z-Man and not by him as they used to be, mostly because Z-Man wants to give him the opportunity to focus on designing new games instead of one-off scenarios.)

I was on hand for the start of the third round of play, with eight teams of two being introduced to applause from the crowd (with cheers on behalf of the Italian home team). One interesting holdover from the previous ownership of Z-Man Games by Canadian Sophie Gravel is that Canada holds separate events for English speakers and French speakers — and the winners of each of those events were still in competition for the grand prize at this stage of the tournament. Perhaps someday the tournament will end with an all-Canada finalé, leading players from other countries to protest for an equal shot at winning, but in 2018 the Dutch team prevailed, following near disaster in the second round as Leacock watched them on the verge of elimination for turn after turn after turn until they turned things around.


Roles now revealed, teams prepare to squash a few diseases while facing six epidemics


The other new booth that proved to be a huge draw was an area reserved for artists to create new works in front of an audience, with those works then scheduled to be auctioned for charity. I walked by the booth several times, and at least a half-dozen artists seemed to be at work each time, a crowd around them admiring the work. Plenty of artists had separate booths where they sold prints and books of their work, but this booth stood out as a way to watch someone exhibit their skill in real time — which is not something that game designers could do in a similar way.






As for the new games being sold and demoed at Lucca, many of them had just debuted at SPIEL '18 the week beforehand, but now they were being sold in Italian by Italian publishers who had far larger stands at Lucca than they had at SPIEL. In Essen, for example, Giochi Uniti had two new games — Gnomeland and Monstrite — that were a focal point of their booth, but in Lucca they had those two titles, along with Italian versions of many other new games, not to mention an extensive back catalog of games as well as a separate shed filled with games at clearance prices.

In Essen, dV Giochi is always located within the ABACUSSPIELE booth and practically invisible if you aren't looking for it, whereas in Lucca dV Giochi had an enormous stand with many more titles than the Catalyst and new Deckscape game seen in Essen. You want new SPIEL '18 releases Forum Trajanum, Cuzco, U.S. Telegraph, and more in Italian? Then you'll find them waiting in the dV Giochi booth.




In terms of announcements of forthcoming games, I didn't see much that was new to me. CMON Limited, for example, was promoting several titles hitting the Italian market in late 2018 and throughout 2019, but I had already seen these games — Narcos, Wacky Races, Trudvang Legends, Sugar Blast — at the press event during Gen Con 2018 and some titles, such as Kick-Ass: The Board Game, were being touted as future releases despite being out in the U.S. While some parts of the international game market have moved toward simultaneous release, as with the dV Giochi titles mentioned above, other companies still roll out games in bits and pieces based on the specific demands of each potential marketplace.

One interesting aspect of the CMON booth is that it wasn't a CMON booth at all, but rather an Asmodee booth that featured titles from CMON Limited. In the U.S., CMON delivers its own games to a variety of distributors, whereas everywhere else (to the best of my knowledge) CMON partners with Asmodee for distribution, possibly due to Asmodee having purchased the main distributors in locations such as the UK, Germany, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries. Gamers in the U.S. might think of Asmodee and CMON as adversaries for market share and mindshare among gamers, but elsewhere the two work hand-in-hand as increasing sales of CMON titles outside the U.S. benefits Asmodee through the distribution side of its business.


CMON game on an Asmodee table cover

An upcoming board game based on the Trudvang Chronicles RPG


One announcement that was new for me, and possibly for you as well, is that Italian publisher uplay.it edizioni is founding a new brand — Mojito Studios — for the publication of a new version of Cleopatra and the Society of Architects, a Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc design that first appeared from Days of Wonder in 2006.

This new version will feature artwork by Miguel Coimbra, and instead of using the box top for the base of the palace, players will build a 3D palace over the course of the game, adding elements to it to make it more complete. Creative director of uplay.it Giovanni Messina says that Cathala and Maublanc have been redesigning parts of the game based upon more than a decade's worth of feedback and additional design experience, and the company will start talking about the game in more detail at the Spielwarenmesse and FIJ conventions in early 2019 ahead of a mid-2019 Kickstarter campaign.




Two games that uplay.it edizioni was featuring at Lucca might also be of interest to those located outside Italy, one of those being The Long Road, a new design by Stefania Niccolini and Marco Canetta, who are well-known for the far more involved Railroad Revolution and ZhanGuo. Here's an overview of this game:

Quote:
In the old west of The Long Road, players have the difficult task of leading large herds of beef through prairies and highlands to the livestock markets. In the course of the journey, players try to guide the long caravan according to the most favorable route. Once they finally get to the destination, they split the proceeds from the sale. This division, however, doesn't happen fairly, but according to the rules of the far west: The best armed (or the smartest) takes most of the booty.

A player's turn takes place as follows:

• You MAY change your caravan cards.
• You MUST play one caravan card on a destination.
• You MAY play a character card if you didn't before on this destination.
• You MAY apply the effect of the caravan card.
• You MAY buy one weapon.
• You MAY assign weapons to one character.
• You MUST draw cards to refill your hand of three caravan cards.

When a destination is full, the sale takes place and the players get proceeds from the caravan cards based on the effects and values of the characters they've played, a value that could be increased by weapons. Then character cards are split as well.

The game continues until the fourth sale triggers the end. At that point, the richest player wins.

Messina told me that uplay.it has been in contact with multiple possible publishing partners for an English-language edition of The Long Road, but for now the game is available only in Italian. I'm taking a copy home with me from the show and hope to get a translation from the publisher in order to play at BGG.CON or elsewhere...

The other item from uplay.it edizioni is a new edition of Kramer and Ulrich's The Princes of Florence that appeared only in Italian at the end of 2017 with new art from Mirco Paganessi, metal coins, and a new look with the graphic design.





I have more to post about the games and publishers at Lucca 2018, but let's save that for the next post and wrap this report with a tiny sampling of the cosplay on display during the fair. The most audacious costume by perhaps only one was this:




Why do I label this the most audacious cosplay? Because this woman had an entire bed as part of her costume, and she was rolling it with her down the street!




There's a weird dissonance with many of these cosplayers, though, and that's the reaction of those who admire the work and want to post with the person. Here's the uncropped image of what's shown above:




Dude, you look awful happy to be posing with a demon-possessed little girl. What gives? This experience is repeated over and over again during Lucca as with these women who also posed with the faux-Regan. Note also the anime character behind the priest, the other anime character with green hair across the canal, the costumed man tending to his companion's sore feet behind the first anime character, and the woman with a dog in the stroller. That's the spirit of Lucca in one shot!




These two had a nice set-up, but I'm baffled by the heads floating above the hands instead of laying in them or in the crook of the arm. Am I missing a pop culture reference here?




I saw fewer Game of Thrones characters than I would have expected, but perhaps that's my fault since I've actually watched GoT and seen barely any anime relative to what's been released. Saw a few other Daenerys Targaryens around, including in line at the Il Trono di Spade booth, but no pics of them, alas.




My son seems indifferent to being turned by the Night King. Oh well.




The best way to attend such a fair in cosplay seems to be as part of a group. These folks memorialized their experience in Japantown prior to walking the streets.




More to come!
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Steph's Photo Guide to SPIEL '18!

Steph Hodge
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Steph's Awesome SPIEL Photo Guide for 2018!








IGA Awards!



Neom


Tribes: Aufbruch Der Menschheit


Scrabble


Crazy Eggz


Tokyo Highway (four-player edition)


Orbis


Pandemic: Fall of Rome


Nyctophobia


Rising Sun: Kami Unbound


Gingerbread House


Forbidden City


Caverna: Cave vs Cave – Era II & Patchwork Express


BATTALIA: The Stormgates


Shikoku


Macbeth


Smartphone Inc.


First Contact


Strange Vending Machine


Discovery: The Era of Voyage


Realm of Sand


A Pleasant Journey to Neko


Paleolithic


Sailblazer


UBOOT: The Board Game



Atlantis: Island of Gods


Wangdo


Cerebria: The Inside World


Gùgōng


Cupcake Empire


Bears&Bees


Treasure Island


Raiatea


Tudor


Magnificent Flying Machines


Claim Kingdoms


Gorus Maximus


Founders of Gloomhaven


Walls of York


Newton


Pandoria


Trapwords


Adrenaline: Team Play DLC


Staka & Team UP!


Do Eat!


Scientia


Roll & Wall


Atlandice


The Great City of Rome


Lighthouse Run


X-Code


7 Wonders: Armada


Planet


Rolling Bandits & Once Upon a Castle


Slide Quest (Blue Orange Games 2019)



Key Flow


Solenia


Globe Twister


Jurassic Snack


My First Adventure Book: Finding the Dragon (Game Flow)


Fertility


CuBirds


Huns


Cerberus


Nemeton


Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra


Japon Brand


Here Comes the Dog


Monster Lands


Key Flow


Señor Pepper


Claim Kingdoms


The Boldest


Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy


Hokkaido


Gobi


7 Wonders: Armada


Kero


Mr. Jack


The River


Tokyo Highway (four-player edition)


Skylands


ICECOOL2


Trool Park


Krosmaster: Blast


Tales of Glory


Ocean Crisis


A Feast for Odin Aldie: The Norwegians


A Thief's Fortune


Kemet


First Contact


7 Wonders: Armada


Crossroads of Heroes


The Tales of Ki-pataw


Rebel Nox


Taiwan


The Frog Kiss


Glisse Glace


On Mars


Orbital


Chocobo Party Up!


Monster Empire


Magic Fold


Layers


Tang Garden


Robin Hood and the Merry Men


Reykholt


Gunkimono


Architects of the West Kingdom


Passing Through Petra


KLASK


Gnomeland


Outback


Costa Ruana


Codenames: Pictures


Trapwords


Patchwork Express


Manitoba


KeyForge: Call of the Archons


Solenia


VOLT


Monumental


Lift Off


Catch the Moon


Tag City


Architectura


Festo!


Gùgōng


Age of Civilization


Big Dig


Trellis


DIG IT UP


Takla


Random assortment of con photos!







Always a line @ Feuerland Spiele











Thanks for joining me!
-Steph
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Mon Nov 5, 2018 9:13 pm
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