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To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

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Pics from Tokyo Game Market, December 2016 II

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Time for another round-up of photos from the December 11, 2016 Tokyo Game Market, courtesy of Jon Power, who attended the show with a press pass on behalf of BGG.

For those who don't know, Jon has worked with translators to create Japanese-language submission forms for game, designer and publisher listings on BGG to encourage more participation by JP designers and publishers on this site, and I greatly appreciate those efforts. I know that I couldn't do much of anything on a Japanese game site, so it's been great to see his efforts since mid-2015 bring about more game listings and activities. In some ways, this effort reminds me of when I first immersed myself in hobby games in the early 2000s, with user translations needed in order to play the German games I was ordering (blindly in many cases) from Adam Spielt and other online retailers. Exploring this new (to me) world is exciting, partly because I have no idea what to expect and mostly because I love the exploration process itself. So much to discover!




FLIPFLOPs publishes the wildly successful Heart of Crown deck-building game series, which debuted in Japan in 2011 and which will see the base game released in English in early 2017 from Japanime Games. At TGM in December 2016, FLIPFLOPs was showing off a new battle-type TCG titled Legions! (the logo of which I keep reading as "Legtons!"), with visitors able to get a deck sheet and a quick start guide, with the sheet needing to be cut and sleeved in order to try out the game.





Sunset Games had both original titles and imports from U.S. publishers such as Columbia Games and...Out of the Box Publishing? Must be old stock given that OotB is no longer in business. My knowledge of wargames is minimal, much less my knowledge of Japanese wargames, so I don't have much to offer here.





Gamifi Japan started in 2013 and has more than two dozen games in its catalog, but it has a BGG listing only because I just threw up a page for The Queen and Shoe Makers. Progress?




The relationship between Group SNE and cosaic is unclear to me, but they're almost always listed together on the Game Market website and their logos often appear together on games, whether for original titles or games originally published in Germany or elsewhere. So many mysteries in this market...




From left to right, booths for トイドロップ (Toy Drop), 温泉駅伝/水滸伝マラソン=ブダ・カフェ=, and Saashi & Saashi. Note that these are double-wide booths (e.g., C05-06), and a single booth would be half the length of one of these tables.










An assortment of role-playing games, with some of the Cthluhu-based games having a far different look than those in the U.S. Note also that many of these RPG books are cheap, with ¥500 equalling US$4.25.




The Taikikennai Games booth demonstrates one of the problems of TGM that will be familiar to any convention goer. Those six games on display would cost ¥10,500 to purchase, or about US$90. Even if the total were $10, though, you multiply that by 550 exhibitors and you're looking at five grand to pick up everything on display, never mind actually having time to play everything.

You're in the midst of a swirling whirlwind of more potential good things than you can possibly imagine, and at a certain point your mind starts to shut down. You can't even begin to contemplate what the actual size of the Japanese gaming market is, let alone the worldwide gaming market. Hundreds of thousands of colorful boxes end up in new hands each year, and at a certain point you just sit back and think, man, I hope everyone's having fun out there.
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Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: WizKids Brings You Farmers, Ravens, Knights, Robots, Giants, and Undead Creatures of an Unspecified Nature

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• In October 2016, I published an item about WizKids partnering with Lookout Games to create upgrade kits for the revised edition of Agricola.

These kits, which are due out May 2017 and carry a $25 MSRP, have now been revealed in more detail, with each Agricola Game Expansion (name possibly not final) including five pre-painted miniatures that can replace a player's wooden bits in the base game and twenty new cards designed by Agricola creator Uwe Rosenberg, with some number of the cards being exclusive to each of the six expansions. The miniatures are the same in each upgrade kit, with the color highlights (blue, red, yellow, green, tan, purple) changing from kit to kit.




• Other titles coming from WizKids in 2017 include The Banishing from new designer Sean Rumble, which is due out in March. I know nothing other than this brief game description:

Quote:
A dark void has opened, and undead creatures are attempting to enter our world. You have come together as guardians who must work together to force the undead back through the void. However, the longer it takes, the stronger the undead become, threatening to overwhelm all.

In The Banishing, players collect cards from the Void to form melds to cast unique spells and effects in an effort to complete the ritual of Banishing, which will hurl the undead back through the Void. Players must work together to create those melds, as well as to protect and heal each other from attacks by the undead in order to succeed.

Daryl Andrews and Stephen Sauer, who have worked together previously on Caffeine Rush and The Walled City: Londonderry & Borderlands, are the designers behind Tower of London, a 3-5 player game expected out in April 2017, the cover of which may or may not be complete as it seems dark and unfinished to my marketing eye. Here's what you're doing in the game:

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In Tower of London, players fight for control of the tower using their influence to occupy different buildings and gather ravens. Each turn, players play two cards: the first card determines which building their Beefeater (guard) goes into, and the second card has a special power that triggers from the perspective of the Beefeater just placed.

At the end of a round, certain areas of the tower are scored based on who controls the majority of buildings by having the most Beefeaters in each. The game ends at the end of three rounds or when a player collects seven ravens, in which case the game ends immediately.

Tournament at Camelot is the second title from Karen Boginski and Jody Barbessi, who previously created the gorgeous Renaissance Wars for U.S. Games Systems (a game I don't recall previously but which I included in a crowdfunding round-up in March 2015). They're joined by Ken Shannon on this 3-6 player trick-taking game due out in May 2017. A summary:

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In the time of King Arthur, knights displayed their skill and prowess at tournaments held throughout the land.

In Tournament at Camelot, you play as a legendary character who is battling opponents with weapon cards: arrows, swords, deception, sorcery, and even alchemy. The more you injure your opponents, the better you fare in the tournament. However, even the most injured characters can make a complete comeback with the grace of Godsend cards and the aid of their special companions.

This trick-taking game ends when one opponent has been injured to the point of death. The player with the most health is then declared the tournament victor!

• I feel like I've posted a lot of robot combat games in the near past — possibly the distant past as well — and it's not clear from the description of Dicebot Megafun, due out June 2017, how it might differ from any of those other ones, but we have six months in which to await more details than this:

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In the future, robots battle it out to the amusement of humans, and in Dicebot Megafun players are the robots who must reach into the junkyard to grab dice displaying various parts and place them on their robot sheet. Each player places six parts dice onto their sheet: five in the body area and one in the head.

Then players simultaneously choose weapon cards to play, which require the parts retrieved from the junkyard. Each weapon card has a cost in parts to pay as well as speed, direction of fire and damage, and an occasional special text ability. Some weapon cards include uzis, lasers, rifles, bombs, jammers, viruses, blue shells, shields, etc. Be the first robot to win three combats!

For advanced play, each player is given a special ability activated by kill points, which are acquired by dealing the final blows to robots in combat.

• Finally, in the category of old news not covered here previously: The Dungeons & Dragons-based Assault of the Giants board game, which WizKids announced in June 2016, will be released in two versions instead of one. At the time of announcement, the game was listed with a $100 MSRP, but it turns out that the regular edition of the game — one with the twelve giants miniatures in a single color — will retail for $80, while the premium edition will include fully painted miniatures for a $120 MSRP. Whichever version you get, the miniatures range in size from 60 mm to more than 90 mm.

WizKids lists a February 2017 release date for Assault of the Giants.


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Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:00 pm
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Pics from Tokyo Game Market, December 2016 I

W. Eric Martin
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I missed out on the Tokyo Game Market that took place December 11, 2016 due to family obligations, but BGG adminion Jon Power — who has been overseeing the addition of Japanese games to the BGG database for the past eighteen months — did attend the show, taking hundreds of pics in the eight hours that he was there. The show itself lasts only seven hours, mind you, seven hours in which you can barely acknowledge the more than 550 exhibitors present never mind actually seeing the games and figuring out what they might be, but BGG was able to get a press badge for Jon, thereby granting him 14% more time in which to race around snapping pictures. Here are a few shots from among the hundreds that he took, with more to come in the week ahead.





As usual, Tokyo Game Market took place at Tokyo Big Sight, the largest convention and exhibition center in Japan, which is located on the northwest shore of Tokyo Bay. Multiple events take place here during each TGM (and probably most other days as well, but I haven't visited outside of fair days), and each show occupies more and more space inside Big Sight given the constant increase in exhibitors.




Most exhibitors have a small selling area approximately five feet wide on a long table that's shared by multiple exhibitors, and you can see one such table in the middle of this image. Many of them decorate their space with cloths and signs, then use racks to give them vertical space in which to display games or a poster that gives the basics of gameplay.

Separately, these exhibitors might have a demo table, and these tables are in the foreground of the image. Even with the short duration of the game fair, these tables see a fair amount of use, but because most games exhibited at TGM last thirty minutes or less, turnover is quick. You don't have time for a two-hour game when that would consume almost a third of the entire show!




Companies on the periphery of the exhibit halls tend to have a larger demo space, as with Yamato Games, which debuted Sweets! (I bought Yamato's intro-level deck-builder Bird of Happiness in May 2016 and have played it solo a few times. Need to play it with others, then film an overview. So much to do!)




Here's an experience you encounter again and again at TGM: A relatively new publisher (グランドアゲームズ / Grand Door Games, which I believe first released a title in May 2016) with a professional-looking game that draws you in closer until, alas, you see Japanese text on the cards with no English rulebook in sight. What could this be? What's happening in Captain Dice? No time — move on, move on!





Booth displays at TGM are mostly non-existent, even for an established publisher such as New Games Order. Again, the show lasts only seven hours on a single day, so for the most part you think of this as a pop-up convention, dropping the cloth on the table, fitting as many games as possible on the available surface area, then filling holes from the boxes behind the table until it's time to pack up and come home.




New Games Order had new versions of both Basari and Can't Stop, with the latter having a foldable board that allows for a small box size. Shelf space seems to be precious in Japanese homes, so everyone aims to have the smallest box possible.

More to come...
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Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:00 pm
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Fleeting Flickers of a Flick 'Em Up: Dead of Winter Trailer

W. Eric Martin
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Is everybody filled with the holiday spirit? If not, perhaps this teaser video from Pretzel Games for Flick 'Em Up: Dead of Winter will help you embrace the spirit of the season, that is, one of unending hunger and gnawing on bones.

That said, Flick 'Em Up: Dead of Winter will be released in mid-2017, so the only winter in sight will be in the southern hemisphere. Whatever — I suppose "dead of winter" is more of a state of mind than a physical condition, and with the proper outlook we can enjoy being dead of winter no matter the time of year.




For those who want something more solid on which to attach thoughts of games, here's a shot from SPIEL 2016 of some prototype components from the game, which is still being developed:


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Sat Dec 24, 2016 6:14 pm
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New Game Round-up: Renegade Game Studios — Avoiding Flatline, Slapping Monsters, Building Doghouses, and Collecting Books

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Renegade Game Studios and designer Kane Klenko have worked together previously on FUSE and Covert, and in April 2017 they will partner again for Flatline, a cooperative dice game set in the same universe as FUSE. Details are brief for now:

Quote:
In Flatline, players must roll their dice and work to combine them with other players in order to properly treat arriving patients. Every round, players race against a one-minute timer and must deal with the needs of wounded crew members as well as other emergencies within the ER. Time is running out!

• Another Klenko/Renegade item due out in 2017 is Slap It!, a quick-playing game for 2-8 players who try to slap monsters as they come out of a portal — but only the right ones! — based on the roll of dice, which can change the rules for who needs to be slapped.

• As noted in November 2016, RGS has signed Kalle Malmioja's Honshu for release in North America, with the game due out in March 2017.

• Renegade has already released two titles from Aza ChenKitty Paw and Doggy Go! — and in March 2017 those will be joined by Shiba Inu House, a real-time game in which players race to assemble cards that show a doghouse roof and left and right sides into complete doghouses that match the 1-3 doghouses showing on their goal cards.

• The publisher is also has a title coming from Adam P. McIver, with him wearing a designer hat this time. This title is currently listed in the BGG database as Ex Libris, but Renegade's Sara Erickson says that they're still working on the game and will have an official name later, with the game due to be released in 2017. Here's the current description on BGG:

Quote:
In Ex Libris, you are a collector of rare and valuable books in a thriving gnomish village. Recently, the Mayor and Village Council have announced an opening for a Grand Librarian: a prestigious (and lucrative) position they intend to award to the most qualified villager! Unfortunately, several of your book collector colleagues (more like acquaintances, really) are also candidates.

To outshine your competition, you need to expand your personal library by sending your trusty assistants out into the village to find the most impressive tomes. Sources for the finest books are scarce, so you need to beat your opponents to them when they pop up.

You have only a week before the Mayor's Official Inspector comes to judge your library, so be sure your assistants have all your books shelved! The Inspector is a tough cookie and will use her Official Checklist to grade your library on several criteria including shelf stability, alphabetical order, and variety — and don't think she'll turn a blind eye to books the Council has banned! You need shrewd planning and cunning tactics (and perhaps a little magic) to surpass your opponents and become Grand Librarian!
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Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Going Crazy over Lovecraft Letter and Miscolored Letters

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• In April 2016, Arclight Games released a new version of Seiji Kanai's Love Letter — yes, another one! — titled Lovecraft Letter, thereby tying together two of the most common trends in the game industry over the past five years. Alderac Entertainment Group now plans to release Lovecraft Letter in English, featuring new artwork by Vincent Dutrait, in July 2017. Here's an overview of how to play:

Quote:
It is the 1920s, and the world is in a state of confusion following WWI. During this time, you and your friends find yourselves amongst mysterious events. You are surrounded by strange figures, letters with unreadable texts, as well as sudden appearances of being unknown. By relying on your connections, you set out to investigate these incidents. Unknown to you are the frightful truths that lie in wait ahead of you...

Lovecraft Letter is a card game that combines the Love Letter system with the world of H.P. Lovecraft. In addition to the standard sixteen cards in the Love Letter game are new versions of the cards that include special "insanity" powers. If you have one of these cards in your discard pile, then you are insane (at least for the current round) and on future turns can play insanity cards for their regular power or their special power, giving you more options during play. The risk, however, is that you must undergo a sanity check at the start of each of your turns, drawing as many cards from the deck as the number of insanity cards in front of you; draw one or more insanity cards, and you're out for the round.

If you win the game, whether by being the last person standing or the player with the highest single card after the deck runs out, you win a token colored to reflect whether you were sane or insane. Win enough tokens of the right type, and you win the game. Cthluhu can also help you win the game if you release it at the right time...


Seiji is now one of the investigators who we'll never see again. Sayōnara, Seiji!


Tasty Minstrel Games, which released Kuro's Ars Alchimia in a new edition in 2016, plans to release his Seikoku no Lemuria — originally released in 2014 through his own brand Manifest Destiny — as Lemuria.

FoxMind has signed Sam-goo and Evan Song's tile-laying, waterpark-creating Slide Blast — which debuted at SPIEL 2016 from Mandoo Games — for release in North America in Q2 2017. We recorded a video overview of the game at that convention should you care to see the game in action.

Jonathan Chaffer's Stroop, coming in June 2017 from Grand Gamers Guild, is named after John Ridley Stroop, who first wrote about the interference that people encounter when reading color words (e.g., black) printed in a color that doesn't match the word itself (black). Players get a hand of cards, each showing a single word with 3-6 letters in one of several colors (white, red, blue, and yellow), sizes (big and little), and styles (hollow and solid). In the first round, everyone simultaneously tries to play a card from their hand that matches what's described on the central card on the table, with this card constantly changing of course. In the second round, you can play a card that describes the central card, with everyone trying to dump their cards as quickly as possible.

IELLO will release Katsumasa Tomioka's Ninja Taisen as part of its Mini Games line in April 2017. In this two-player game with rock/paper/scissors-style combat, each player tries to eliminate all of the opposing forces or get one of their ninja to the opposing village while it's empty. For an more detailed overview of the game, here's a video I shot ahead of the game's availability at SPIEL 2014:

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Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:00 pm
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Throwback Thursday: Splicing Past to Present in Gene Pool

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In November 2016, designer Mark Goadrich announced that a new edition of his card game Gene Pool was available through The Game Crafter, with new artwork by Ariel Seoane. Goadrich first released Gene Pool in a 200-copy edition in 2006 through his own Goadrich Games, followed by two hundred more copies in a second printing in 2009.

When I saw this announcement, Alec Guinness' voice immediately popped to mind: "Now, that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time." You see, before I started writing for BoardGameGeek in January 2011, I ran my own site — BoardgameNews.com — for four years, starting in November 2006 when BGN founder Rick Thornquist decided he wanted to move on to other things. At that time, I had contributed a handful of articles to BGN, these being company profiles combined with game reviews, with one of those articles profiling Goadrich and Gene Pool.

To celebrate this new edition, I thought I'd reprint that profile, first published on BGN on Nov. 1, 2006. It's fascinating to see how much work I put into this profile, which mirrors the many articles that I wrote for trade publications throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. I haven't done something like this in a long time...

•••


Company profile—Goadrich Games / Review—Gene Pool

If you wanted to create an encyclopedia of the types of game players, you're unlikely to find a better example of the "new Eurogame fan to game designer" archetype than Mark Goadrich.

Goadrich grew up playing chess, cribbage, euchre, and the standard assortment of abstract and party games with his family. "It wasn't until graduate school when a friend showed me Ricochet Robots, quickly followed by Settlers, that I was hooked on the Euro game craze," he says.

Like most newcomers to the world of designer games, Goadrich started with the classic gateway games, then moved on to more involved titles. Gateway games are sometimes derided as being "dumbed down" for stupid people, but Goadrich — who received his Ph.D. in computer science in 2006 — has a hard time buying that argument. "By working up from light to heavy games," he says, "I'm trying to follow the way most fields of education are hierarchically organized, starting with the fundamentals and then building to the more complex advanced material."

"Games like No Thanks, Bohnanza, For Sale, and King Me! are great introductory games," he explains. "They deal with one major mechanic per game and are very quick and elegant, like a powerful short story. It's helpful to have some experience with these one-shot mechanics before mixing them together and jumping into Power Grid, Reef Encounter, or Scepter of Zavandor — great novel-length epics, but very intimidating if you have little gaming context. Of course, you can stop anywhere you like. I love the simple and elegant 30-minute fillers, but I'm also learning there's a lot to offer with a well-designed two-hour game that I never would have had the patience for had I not played the earlier fillers and Spiel des Jahres winners."

After playing Carcassonne in 2003, Goadrich awoke the following morning with a new game erupting from his head like Athena, and game design has been his hobby ever since. "I took a risk and went to Protospiel 2004 with a friend and a few prototypes in hand, not knowing what to expect," he says. "I've been back ever since because of the people I've met and the amount of knowledge about game design you can gain just by playing other prototypes."

Given his educational background, hearing Goadrich talk about game design won't come as a surprise. "In my mind, designing games is a lot like computer programming," he says. "There's iteration, game states, inputs and outputs, although compilation time is much longer... Seeing a game come to life is fascinating for me, where playtesting is an evolutionary process full of punctuated equilibrium, and the driving force of the game evolution are the elusive goals of fun and game balance. None of my games have stayed the same once they jumped out of my head and into a prototype form, and that's a good thing."

2016 logo
"The goal for Goadrich Games is to put out high-quality, small print-runs for my game designs while staying on a small budget; any game I publish in this format will probably have no more than 200 copies total," he says.

Gene Pool, his first published title, sold out its 200-copy print run in October 2006, and Goadrich is now hoping to find a publisher to pick up the game and deliver it to a broader audience. "While taking a game from idea to actually assembling 200 copies made me very proud, I find the game design side much more intriguing," he says.

As for future plans, Goadrich says, "I do have a few other prototypes nearing completion: one about elections on a small island (which some playtesters have called "Die Macher in half-an-hour"), and a set-collecting resource-management game about the black market antiquity trade (which used to be about collecting African violets). I hope to have both wrapped up by 2007 and either make the rounds with publishers or have them come out in another small edition from Goadrich Games; both prototypes have around 100 cards, a few plastic cubes and a scoreboard, making them very suitable for a small print-run."

Gene Pool

Mark Goadrich's first self-published game, Gene Pool, is a simple and clever two-player card game in which you try to manipulate a sequence of genes to match combinations on your scoring cards.

"Gene Pool isn't the first game I've designed, but it is the first one which felt ready to be published," says Goadrich. "The idea for Gene Pool came on an afternoon drive from Minneapolis to Madison from my wife's suggestion to design a game about viruses. While thinking about a larger virus game with CDC, biohazards, etc, what struck me was the way that viruses can take over cells and rewrite your DNA while your body tries to fight back. This was the inspiration for having two players both modify a common sequence of DNA, which turned out to be a great little puzzle on its own and became Gene Pool."

The DNA sequence in Gene Pool mimics the one in the human body. The game includes two types of Base Pair cards: one with Adenine/Thymine and the other with Guanine/Cytosine. The cards have giant letters (A or T, G or C) in opposite corners. You start the game by shuffling and inverting three of each type of Base Pair, then laying them out in a row. Reading the row from left to right creates a gene sequence, say, GCAGTT; reading the row upside-down inverts that sequence: AACTGC.

During the game, players take actions to alter this gene sequence. You can insert a Base Pair card from your hand into the middle of the sequence and snip a gene off either end; you can add a Base Pair to either end and delete from the middle; you can mutate one Base Pair card into another by playing one from your hand; or you can invert a section of the sequence, rotating one to five cards around an axis. "The insertion, deletion, mutation and inversion actions are taken directly from how DNA really changes and mutates in our cells over time," says Goadrich.


Ready to begin play (2006 edition)


Each player starts with one of each Base Pair in hand, along with a Gene Research card worth one year. Gene Research cards have a sequence of four or five genes associated with a particular disease; cards with four genes are worth one year, cards with five genes worth two years. If at the end of your turn, part of the gene sequence in either direction matches a Gene Research card you hold, you can claim that claim; whoever claims nine years' worth of cards first wins the game.

Two other actions available to players are drawing a Base Pair card, which allows you to prepare for future turns, and drawing a Gene Research card, which seems like a desperation move because you automatically draw one if you have none in hand at the end of your turn.

Gene Pool is easy to learn and play; the listed playing time is 30 minutes, but my games rarely took more than 10. Luck of the draw can be a factor, especially when you're playing for the first time and don't know the Gene Research deck. Once you've played a few times, you can sometimes guess what your opponent is trying to create and thwart him while simultaneously working toward your own goals. You can try to hoard one type of Base Pairs, but this tactic usually doesn't frustrate an opponent for long.

Aside from the appealing game play, Gene Pool also raises the bar for what buyers can expect from a self-published game. While the tuckbox is clearly a cut-and-glue job, the cards and rules are full-color and extremely attractive. "Gene Pool is all hand-assembled by myself and my wife, without whom this game could never have been made," says Goadrich. "We decided that if we were going to make some copies, we'd make them as professional-looking as possible but at the same time not go into debt doing so, thus the appeal of the postcard printing and die-press punching option."

Goadrich has detailed his game production experience on the Board Games Designer's Forum, and his posts are recommended for anyone interested in self-publication. [Editor's note: These posts don't seem to be available any longer.] "It's much more work that I thought it would be when I started getting serious about self-publishing, and I've made mistakes and learned lessons from this that will make the next attempt much easier, such as to never use the die-press machine again," he says. "Over the 200 games, we'll have made over 2,600 punches. Next time it's off to a card-finishing place that will cut out the cards for us."

Ideally, another publisher will pick up Gene Pool and republish it for a wider audience. The game has a built-in educational appeal, but unlike many games designed for didactic purposes, Gene Pool is actually fun. Who knew such a thing was possible?

Designer Mark Goadrich with copy #1/200 in 2006
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Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Cutting Throats for Thrones, Bamboo for Pandas, and Jungle Trails for Survival

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The inbox is filled
With messages about games;
Not too old, I hope


I've been paring my inbox down to almost nothing in order to prepare for 2017 and respond to certain people — you know who you are! — in a more timely manner. While doing that, I've run across many links to games that I sent myself throughout the past year, some of which are still relevant as the games have been released only recently or are still forthcoming, such as:

Bryan Merlonghi's Cutthroat Kingdoms from Alderac Entertainment Group is a 90-150 minute game for 3-6 players who all want to vie for a place on the throne, as one often does in games. An overview:

Quote:
In Cutthroat Kingdoms, you take on the role of a leading lord or lady of one of the six eminent Houses in the Kingdom of Aurum — a grim fantasy world fraught with danger, intrigue, and plague. You must use your armies to claim territories, gather wealth, recruit hirelings, and hire mercenaries as you pursue your nefarious plots and jockey for power. Political intrigue and assassinations abound, and powerful strategic alliances are offset by bloody conflicts. Most importantly, will you strive for domination alone, or tie your fortunes to another house through a well-placed political marriage?

Cutthroat Kingdoms is a competitive game that features marriage-alliance team mechanisms in which strategic planning and decisive military moves can swing the course of the Kingdom. Changing territories and events make each game unique. Open negotiation, deal-making, and tabletalk are all encouraged — nay, necessary to win!

Osprey Games has already released two games from Peer SylvesterThe King Is Dead in 2015 and Let Them Eat Cake in 2016 — and the streak will continue in May 2017 with The Lost Expedition, which puts players on the trail of Lt. Colonel Percival Harrison Fawcett, who disappeared in South America in 1925 while on the search for El Dorado. Now you and your fellow players are entering the jungle, either playing cooperatively (or in solitaire mode) to survive the expedition or competitively to see who can exit the jungle first.

Shadow Games is set in the world of Steamforged Games' Guild Ball, with 2-6 players acting as team representatives will do anything possible in order to recruit a new star player to their guild.

• In the 2017 release Panda Pursuit from Matt Loomis, Isaac Shalev, and Grey Fox Games, players use their custom dice to move an escaped panda, their zookeeper, or a shared photographer around in order to get pics of the panda, collect food, or give it bamboo to keep it happy. Pandas — an audience favorite in the game industry since 2007.

• Shalev and Loomis also have Seikatsu coming from IDW Games, as noted on Facebook in August 2016 but only now added to the BGG database. By chance we recorded an overview of Seikatsu at the 2016 Origins Game Fair when the game had not yet been signed, so you can learn about this tile-laying perspective game straight from the sources:

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Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Hand of Fate Comes to the Table, and Le Havre Returns in 2017

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• Australian publisher Rule & Make has signed a deal with Defiant Development to make a tabletop version of Defiant's multi-platform, storytelling deck-builder Hand of Fate. The game, currently titled Hand of Fate: Ordeals of Kallas, uses elements from both the original game and the Hand of Fate 2 sequel due out in early 2017.

No gameplay details or release date have been revealed, but Rule & Make did post pics of the prototype on Instagram in early December 2016 and in mid-December 2016, shown below.




Lookout Games plans to release a new version of Uwe Rosenberg's Le Havre in 2017, with this version including the base game, all promotional cards released to date, and the Le Grand Hameau expansion, according to frequent Lookout rules editor Grzegorz Kobiela.

• In other news of new editions, in May 2016 Hansa Teutonica designer Andreas Steding surveyed BGG users about the type of setting they might want to see in a possible new version of the game, with the mobsters and the Roaring '20s narrowly beating out a science fiction version. I've followed up with Steding about this item, and he says there's nothing else to say about this right now and nothing to expect in 2017.

• German publisher dlp games will release a German-language version of Hisashi Hayashi's Yokohama in March 2017.

• In a deal announced Dec. 9, 2016, Ninja Division will become the publisher of both Onami and Cthulhu: A Deck Building Game, two titles released by Wyvern Gaming in 2016. The latter title will receive a retail release in Q1 2017, with Onami following in Q2 2017.

Alderac Entertainment Group has picked up The Captain Is Dead, first released by designers Joe Price and JT Smith via The Game Crafter in 2014, with this new edition due out in April 2017. In this game, 2-7 spaceship crew members have realized that much like the title says, their captain is dead. Now they need to work together to get the ship's engines back online, which is easier said than done since aliens are attacking and keep damaging your ship further.

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Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Hunting Anew for the Ring, Folding Around the World, and Rebuilding Thanos

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• Old news to some, but this has been in my inbox for three months and is only now coming to light: Ares Games is working with designers Marco Maggi, Francesco Nepitello, and Gabriele Mari on a hidden movement game titled The Hunt for the Ring that pits the Nazgûl against Frodo and his companions as the latter try to move from the Shire to Rivendell. Yes, Lord of the Rings gaming experts Maggi and Nepitello have joined forces with hidden movement master Mari for what sounds like a match made in, well, Middle-earth.

Italian gaming site Gioconomicon published an illustrated overview of the game in both English and Italian in September 2016, but here's the summary for those who want it:

Quote:
In The Hunt for the Ring, one player takes the role of Frodo and his companions, who are journeying from the Shire to Rivendell, while up to four other players represent the Nazgûl who are trying to hunt down the hobbits. While traveling, Frodo and others must resist being corrupted by the Ring that he wears.

The Hunt for the Ring is a hidden movement game played in two chapters, with each chapter being played on a different game board. In the first chapter, the Frodo player attempts to move from the Shire to Bree, gaining corruption points if they fail to do so after sixteen turns. If the Frodo player succeeds, they can either record their exit point (and other game details) to play the second chapter at a later time, or they can continue immediately, with the second chapter having the Frodo player move from Bree to Rivendell. In this chapter, the Frodo player doesn't control the hobbits directly, but instead draws cards from a journey deck, with each card showing one of many paths to Rivendell.

Space Goat Productions, which has board game adaptations of both Evil Dead 2 and The Terminator already on the way, has announced its will release a board game based on the 1981 film The Howling. No details other than that a deal was made.

Heidelberger Spieleverlag will release A. J. Porfirio's Hostage Negotiator in German in Q1 2017 under the title Der Unterhändler.

• Game agent Kevin Kim says that Happy Baobab's Fold-it — a real-time game in which players try to fold a cloth to recreate the menu shown on a card revealed at the start of the round — will be released in Czech, Russian, Chinese and Scandinavian versions, and he's been talking to possible licensing partners in the U.S. as well.

Pegasus Spiele will release German-language versions of the Matagot titles Inis and Captain Sonar in Q2 2017.

Upper Deck Entertainment has announced plans for the Vs System 2PCG game line for 2017, starting with the release of Vs System 2PCG: Legacy in March 2017, with this being a two hundred card set that includes characters such as Captain Britain, Psylocke, Mister Sinister, Taskmaster, Squirrel Girl, and Elektra, along with revised Thanos main character cards (as shown below) since the original one from The Marvel Battles set was having a negative effect on tournament play.

Over the rest of 2017, UDE plans to release at least three more Vs System 2PCG sets, two based on the Marvel Comics universe (with one of those containing four hundred cards) and one based on a different license.

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Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:00 pm
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