Here we are once again for my marathon BGG.CON coverage! This year I'm hoping to fit it all into one part, some of the game publishers I had missed at BGG.CON didn't reply to emails asking for information. So less work for me! Yay! This worked in my favor since my husband and I decided to get our diving certification (plus enriched air and advanced certifications) in between the holidays and into the new year, making things extra crazy. (Don't even get me started on our current tax nightmare and having to change accountants.)
BGG.CON 2018 was held November 14-18 at the Hyatt Regency DFW for the last time. It was a little sad as we said goodbye to the wonderful Hyatt staff, who have done such an excellent job over the years.
During the Closing Ceremony, a Hyatt representative was made an honorary geek (games were given to the staff too!)
On a more positive note, BGG.CON is moving to a larger space! The 2019 convention will be at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. The exhibit hall will be in one room, rather than two (woo hoo!). The main ballroom will be larger and there will be more hotel rooms available. The hotel will handle about 5,000 attendees but BGG.CON will not max out in the first year due to extra growth issues and logistics. The number of attendees this year was about 3,200. The new location will be closer to Love Field airport. I highly recommend taking advantage of this. It's especially nice for those who like to fly Southwest (like me). We've actually been flying into Love Field the last few years anyway since we discovered it was a lot less expensive for a direct flight, including Lyft to and from the hotel. Also, the airport is smaller — easier and faster to get in and out.
Good thing BGG.CON is moving to a larger space - doubling up doesn't look too fun.
Fun Fact: This year's theme was the 1980s. Thanks to the hotel staff, there was 80s music in the lobby and bar plus retro candy and decorations. TeamGeek dressed in theme the first day (as usual) and there were themed T-shirts and posters available for sale.
The line this year was similar to last year, averaging less than an hour wait time. (If you waited until the bulk of attendees went through, it was rather short — I think I waited only a few minutes.)
Premium badges were available again this year at a flat fee of $400. There were the same number as last year, 150. The benefits were mostly the same except there were no extra games this year. (Last year it was sponsored by CGE.) This option is planned for 2019 but no word on pricing or how many will be made available (although it will be no more than 5% of badges sold).
Thank you to Jeff Anderson for providing stats and some of the other information in this article.
Attendees received one item in each group (group/game/company):
6,443 games were available for check out in the BGG.CON library. Below are the top ten games checked out of the library, preceded by the number of checkouts. There's a full list available as well. This does not include the games that were available throughout the convention in the Hot Games area. Information provided by Scott Alden.
Okay, this may be the 13th year of the math trade. Last year it was touted as the 10th or possibly the 11th – not really sure what happened to the 12th. Maybe 13 ate it? If you are interested in what games were up for trade or what games people wanted, check out the Math Trade Actual Geeklist or the Hopes and Dreams Request List respectively. Math trades are a super cool way to trade games you no longer play/want for something new to try. If you want to participate, start checking the BGG.CON forum at the beginning of October. There were 297 traded (1010 not traded), with 72 people making at least one trade. Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Virtual Flea Market (VFM)
If you have a lot of games to sell, this is an excellent venue for you (especially if you are a far distance from Dallas). List your games ahead of the convention (details here), then bring only those that sold! Time and space was reserved at BGG.CON for participants to meet up. Since the VFM has grown so much, this year 45 minutes were allotted (instead of the typical 30 minutes). There were a few rules everyone was asked to follow to make things go smoothly.
Board Game Bazaar (Flea Market)
This event fills up with sellers every year so there are plenty of games to barter over. I've gotten some great deals in the past. Below are a few photos of the event, taken during set-up (i.e., before all the craziness started, the hall crowded, and most of the games were sold). If you plan to shop at the Board Game Bazaar, get in line early! It is a long one.
Mystery Meat! Did you take a chance? If you bought one of these, let me know in the comments what it was! I'm very curious (and slightly apprehensive).
Not all the items being sold were games per se, but usually they were game related. Check out these cute meeple bags.
Wow look at the price on this! I'm thinking there may be a sale at our house in the near future. Don't tell my husband. He probably won't miss it, right?
Ooo, candy! Tasty incentives... I think there were games on that table, too.
Stephen Conway: "The 10th Spiel-a-thon at BGG.CON was held in Dallas, Texas on November 16, 2018. It was a tremendous success! We had our largest turnout to-date for a Spiel-a-thon in Dallas. AND we raised the most money ever for this location! $3,500 in less than 3 hours. Each Spiel-a-thon is about more than asking people to pry open their wallets, though. The driving force behind every Spiel-a-thon is to demonstrate how play can be a powerful force for good in the world. Don't get me wrong, we welcome your contributions any day, any time. But if you come to a Spiel-a-thon, you come to pay by playing! You play. Then you pay. And The Spiel Foundation uses this money to assemble bundles of games. Each bundle allows more kids and seniors to play. Each game bundle we send out delivers more fun into the world. It's a perfect circle of fun. And that is priceless. Many many thanks to the people who made this event such a success. Thank you to my new Spiel partner Doug Richardson for all his hard work. Thank you to our intrepid staff of volunteers: Francie Broadie Patty Richardson, Marguerite Cottrell, Jay Bartelt, Erin Green, Veronica Worley, Rachel Lee, Ezra Denney, Jeff Ridpath, Beth Heile John Knoerzer and Debbie Ohi."
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 31, 2018).
Attending BGG.CON for the first time was video game designer and board gamer, Tim Schafer. For example, he directed Grim Fandango, the first LucasArts game to use 3D graphics overlaid on pre-rendered static backgrounds (Wikipedia on Grim Fandango).
Returning again this year were game designers Matt Leacock, Eric Lang, and Rob Daviau. There was a Special Guest Panel on Saturday evening where attendees could listen, chat, and possibly ask questions.
Matt Leacock — look how happy he is to see me! Who needs a puppy when you have awesome friends like this?
Originally Rich Sommer was scheduled as a guest but he was able to get a new TV gig.
Even Isaac Childres was excited: "The first scenario of the new Community-Driven expedition will go live at BGG.CON. So the scenario will be available Wednesday, Nov. 14, and then Thursday night, I will be playing it on a live stream at the con with Jeff Anderson and Scott Alden from BGG, and Tim Schafer (!!!), creator of some of my favorite video games like Monkey Island and Psychonauts."
Fun Fact: This was BGG's first live-streamed event from BGG.CON. There is some Q&A with Isaac at the end of the video.
A special thank you goes out to the staff of volunteers and workers of TeamGeek! They are a big part of BGG.CON's success.
AssassinCon, sponsored by Mayday Games, ran in the shadows of BGG.CON. Participants must pre-register before the convention. Players in this meta-game are given a special ribbon to attach to their badges. Each must find their target and have them sign their card (the target is eliminated and this is their trophy); the player then gains their target's card as their next target. Players had to report in to the Mayday Games to record their trophies (ties were broken by earliest trophy time recorded). The player who gained the most trophies by Saturday afternoon became the Master Assassin.
Prizes: Master Assassin $100.00 Gift Card to Funagain Games 2nd Place $75.00 Gift Card to Funagain Games 3rd Place $50.00 Gift Card to Funagain Games
Funagain Games Booth in the Exhibit Hall
—Catch the Moon
Hosted by Active Player Network. Description from BGG.CON Events page: "Test your balance and stacking skills in the new dexterity game Catch the Moon in an event hosted and sponsored by Active Player Network. Catch the Moon, from Bombyx, is an easy-to-learn game for all ages and skill levels that will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to play over and over to hone your strategy and technique. Event attendees will be taught how to play, and may stay and enjoy for as many plays as they want within the 2-hour block (play time is 20-30 minutes). There will also be a live prize drawing, offering players the chance to leave with a copy of the game!"
—Introduction to Board Wargaming and Board Wargamers Meet & Greet
The Meet & Greet was hosted by Christopher "Doc" Cummins, Publisher at Strategy & Tactics Press and CEO of Decision Games. The purpose was to meet new and returning fellow war-game enthusiasts and discuss games would like to play during the convention including setting up schedules for game play.
The Introduction to Board Wargaming sessions were two 20-30 minute presentations, also given by Doc Cummins, on basic concepts and terms of board wargaming. The presentations were followed by demonstrations using enlarged versions of Decision Games' mini-games such as: Germantown, Caesar's War, Eagle Day, Phobos Rising, Vikings
This year's tournament had 24 teams (48 people). Prizes included Tichu decks for the finalists and badges and guaranteed hotel reservation for winners (reservation does not include the cost of the hotel room).
Attendees could test their flicking skills as they raced their cars (wooden disks) through a custom designed stunt track. And they meant business – check out that crazy track!
There were forty participants in the tournament. For the preliminary races, they had five unique tracks set up, with eight participants per track. There were three preliminary races, with each player getting to race three of the five tracks. Participants were reshuffled so they ended up playing against different people rather than all three races with the same people.
After the three preliminary races, players handed in their scores (i.e. their positions they finished for each of the races added together). The lowest eight scores advanced to the final race, where they tore down the preliminary tracks, and built one mega final track for the finalists. The prize was a big trophy.
The Annual Texas Hold'Em Tournament is a staple for BGG.CON. There were about 225 participants this year. Amateurs were encouraged to play; if they showed up early, they could get a rules summary to help them get started. No money was involved but there were great prizes! It was sponsored by Tasty Minstrel Games, which awarded a stack of games to the winner as well as a game to everyone in the final game. BGG also gave the winner a couple badges and a guaranteed hotel reservation to next year's event (reservation does not include the cost of the hotel room). Hosted by Jeff Anderson.
Treasure Island, a SPIEL '18 release, premiered at BGG.CON as a play-to-win tournament. The tournament was played over two rounds with eleven tables, narrowed down to two tables for the second round. The winner of each of the three tables received a copy of the game (distributed by Asmodee North America).
—R&R Games Information provided by Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games.
Outback was released at SPIEL '18. This is a dice rolling, push-your-luck strategy game where players collect sets of Australian animals to maximize their points. It's super cute too (who doesn't love koalas, platapus, or kangaroos?). This R&R version includes variants as well as an option for team play.
The Table is Lava was released at SPIEL '18. Yep, lava table, card islands, and meeples... throw your card and be sure to attach/touch to another card "island" or you don't get to use the card action. Win by having the most surviving meeples. The Coconuts Edition expansion adds another player, cards, and meeples.
Fun Fact: Really more of a clue... Frank says "it wouldn't hurt to know how to use the Wayback Machine."
—Game Toppers Information provided by Kevin Burahardsmeier.
Game Toppers are portable gaming tops that can convert your home table into a high quality gaming solution. Each Topper has modular parts, such as cup holders, accessory trays, and dice towers. They also sell thematic game mats, Game Topper storage bags (for Topper storage and portability), and Game Totes - insulated totes for game storage and portability. Another Kickstarter is coming Q1 2019 featuring new mats, new accessories, and new topper sizes (they currently have five sizes).
New expansion boxes are coming to Kickstarter November 2018. Because game boxes aren't Tardis' ... Instead having inserts lift the game box lid, this new larger box allows games to be fit in perfectly while using the original lid. For example, all of Small World, Underground, and expansions will fit in one box, with both lids: one on the bottom (held by friction) and one on the top, so that in the shelf, it just looks like two games. Daedalus will also be offering magnetic lid bit boxes, which will be configurable and customizable with smaller boxes inside. Boxes will be available in both black or white.
—Catan Studio Information provided by Morgan Dontanville, Catan Studio
Catan: Rise of the Inkas was released at SPIEL '18 and should be on the shelves of the English-speaking world November 2018. Inkas uses the standard Catan structure and drastically makes changes in the mechanisms to depict the rise and fall of Andean tribes. Each player must play through the rise and decline of three Inkan tribes in order to win. Rise of the Inkas includes three new trade goods, in addition to the five resources, powers added to Longest Trade Route and Most Combat Skills. But the biggest change of all is the ability to build over top of other players' settlements.
Catan Scenario: Crop Trust is an add-on scenario for your base Catan game. Catan worked closely with Crop Trust, an international nonprofit organization who's goal is to protect global food security. They are most famous for their seed vault in the Arctic that safely houses over 4,000 species of seed. The scenario encourages players to be aware of crop diversity and the dangers of monocultures by way of event cards. It also gives new ways to score points through banking crops' seeds into the seed vault. The game can collapse entirely if there is too much of a threat to the food supply. A large portion of the profits and royalties go to supporting the Crop Trust.
Fun Fact: Catan Studios sent a team to Svalbard, home of the northern most civilization in the world as well as the seed vault that houses all of the saved samples for the Crop Trust. While they were there, they played Crop Trust.
—CGE Information provided by Justin Sweigart, Director of North American Operations.
Trapwords released at SPIEL '18; U.S. release at BGG.CON. This is a dungeon-themed word guessing game where two teams are trying to guess the word their respective team member is trying to get them to guess while avoiding words on a list selected by the opposing team. Teams try to work their way through a dungeon with different rooms. Curses are placed on certain rooms making things more difficult (these affect the first team(s) in the room and only hangs around for one round). The goal is the defeat the boss monster (which moves up when both teams fail). A timer is optional.
Through the Ages: Leaders and Wonders (working title) has a planned release of second quarter 2019 (both physical and digital). This expansion for Through the Ages mainly contains more leaders and wonders for each age of the game.
Fun Fact: At SPIEL '18, CGE had a very VERY large helium balloon over their booth. It was so big that it took two tanks to fill it. (Photo, copyright CGE.)
—KOSMOS Information provided by Tom Wetzel, Customer Service Representative.
Mercado was released at Gen Con 2018. This is a bag draw game where players draw colored coins from a bag and place them around tiles in a display, on their designated player color's side (each tile has all four player colors, one on each side). The tiles represent merchants, objects, and perfume, each of which has a cost in some combination of coins. Merchants give players wild coins or privilege tokens. Privilege tokens give players victory points and/or benefits. Objects give the players victory points and/or effects (may be good or bad, e.g. gain a counterfeit coin in your bag), better than privilege tokens. Perfumes also have beneficial effects. The player who makes a complete circuit on the score board triggers the end game; the player with the most points wins.
Ubongo Fun-Size was released December 2018. This is a smaller box (seven inch) game with thinner puzzle card tiles but the number of puzzle cards included is the same as the original Ubongo game (but double-sided) and the pieces are the same size! Game play has been changed to eliminate the die, instead it is a race to finish filling in the puzzle area first (either with three pieces or four pieces, depending on the side played — four pieces being more challenging). First person to finish gets to keep their puzzle card and takes a gem; other players who finish within an allotted time also get to keep their cards. Players play eight rounds (eight cards). Scoring is one point per gem and one per card. The winner is the player with the most points.
Fun Fact: Rüdiger Dorn got his start designing board games early in life when he "got to know the C64-games Donkey Kong and Frogger." Unfortunately he did not have a computer, so he designed his own board game versions of these games. When asked why he decided to design a bag pulling game, he responded "I love the suspense and the feeling of the material in my hand."
—AEG Information from Todd Rowland, Alderac Entertainment Group.
War Chest was released at Gen Con 2018. This is an abstract bag-building war game. High quality poker chips, representing players' units, are drawn each turn; they determine what a player can do on their turn. The goal is to control certain spaces on the board (there are not enough for each player). Each game, players draft four of a possible sixteen units, giving the game a lot of variety and strategy options.
Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto has a planned release of first quarter 2019. This is a "saga" expansion, as opposed to a legacy one, giving a story line to the game but the game may be reset and replayed. Scientists, in the process of trying to invent warp technology, attracted a planet-eating creature to the players' star system. This expansion takes players through the "adventure" of solving this problem.
Fun Fact: About two years ago, for the Thunderstone Quest Kickstarter, the CEO of AEG put a yellow meeple in one of the playtest photos used on the Kickstarter page. There was a note saying "yellow meeple not included." People started asking why the yellow meeple wasn't available. It became a sort of joke over the next couple years. The yellow meeple started showing up in other AEG promotions and advertisements, even sporting anime eyes in the Unicornus Nights advertising. When Thunderstone Quest was released, an actual yellow meeple was included due to its popularity.
Echidna Shuffle was released June 2018. This game is basically an echidna traffic jam where players try to deliver their three bugs to their tree stumps. During setup, players place put pick-up markers out on the game board; this is where the bugs will be picked up. An opponent (to player's left) puts a player's corresponding three stumps on the board. The winner is the player who delivers all three of their bugs.
River Explorers (working title) is planned for release in 2019. The object of game is to make the most money by moving a stack of explores with at least one of your own in it up river along a marked path, dropping explorers (one per space) as you move. The owner of an explorer gains money for being dropped at their trading post (one per disk in the stack next to their matching trading post). At the beginning of your turn you put a trading post next to a space then take your turn: placing an explorer on an empty space or moving a stack of explorers.
Fun Fact: The sequel to Echidna Shuffle will be called Echidna Candy Store, based on the pun.
Meeple Realty makes inserts, and now miniatures, for board games.
Meeple Realty - Terraforming Mars miniatures (seen in photo) coming to Kickstarter early 2019.
—Stronghold Games Information provided by Stephen Buonocore, President Stronghold Games.
AuZtralia was released in November 2018. Thematic spiritual successor to A Study in Emerald. The Old Ones, after being defeated in England, have taken up residence in Australia. Players must now defeat them while building rail systems and mining resources. Mechanisms include resource management, rail building, and combat versus the Old Ones (semi-cooperative element against the Old Ones).
Terraforming Mars: Colonies was out in November 2018. This is the fourth expansion to Terraforming Mars. Players now visit the outer planets' moons and astroids, where players establish colonies and set up trade routes. There is more player interaction via trading and having other players visit your colonies.
Fun Fact: Stephen sent me a couple fun facts. Here's one: Sir Percival (see Stephen's cat photo) was the first "Knight of The Stronghold." Stephen might be a little too attached to his pet. For your entertainment, I thought I'd share an excerpt from our Fun Fact conversation:
—Mayday Games Information provided by Ryan Bruns, President Mayday Games.
The Golden Sails has a planned release of second quarter 2019. This is a set-collection, card-driven game where players are navel merchants trying to acquire sets of goods to meet demand: spices, gems, weapons, animal, and spells.
Bad Doctor was pre-released at Gen Con 2018 and recently released. This is a tile-laying, player action based game where the goal is to treat patients with the hopes of curing them, or at least not letting them die on your turn. If a patient dies on another player's turn or is cured on your turn, any doctor markers you have on the patient come to your score pile. Doctor markers are put on patients through the best use of your two actions per turn. The winner is the first player to collect 8 doctor markers.
Fun Fact: Artist Bill Holbrook did the artwork for Bad Doctor. He also does the word's longest running daily web comic: Kevin and Kell.
Archmage: Ascendant, expansion for Archmage, has a planned release mid-2019. This adds four new modules to the game: Places of Power, New Spells, Prophecies, Cooperative Play (two-player).
King's Forge: Masterworks has a planned release of third quarter 2019. This is the fifth expansion for King's Forge. There are four new types of dice: Borealis ("wild"), Aether Ore (metal/magic), Heartwood (wood/gem), Grimstones (chaotic/variable). The game also includes Ambassadors and a new Royal Decree.
Fun Fact: Tabletop Tycoon has a town, Tabletop Tycoon Town, where their staff has unique character representations (avatars) that they choose. They have an artist create each representation, which goes into the Tabletop Tycoon Town image on their website. The avatars are also used on their reserved parking spaces and business cards.
—Gamelyn Games Information provided by Nathan Hatfield, Chief Sales Officer.
Tiny Epic Zombies was released October 2018. The game features five modes of play: cooperative AI controlled zombie, cooperative with human controlled zombie, competitive with AI controlled zombie, competitive human controlled zombie, and solo. It introduces a whole new set of items for ITEMeeples® (e.g. axe, machetti, chain saw). There are two vehicles (cop car and motorcycle) in which ITEMeeples can ride, allowing them to move further. There are 14 human characters/cards, with zombies on the backs of the cards, for a total of 28 choices. Humans must complete three objectives to win the game; zombies must kill all humans to win. There are different levels of difficulty as well, e.g. one survivor token death ends the game vs. some number of deaths ending the game. Note: players are not eliminated from the game upon token deaths. Game play is under an hour.
Tiny Epic Mechs has a planned release of mid-2019. This is an arena combat game, player vs. player, with action programming (e.g. Robo Rally). The ITEMeeples® in this game actually go inside power armors and mech warriors, which sit on the board. When an ITEMeeple moves to it, it may jump inside.
Fun Fact: Every member of the Gamelyn Games team has bungie jumped and sky dived.
—Grey Fox Games Information provided by Alex Goldsmith, Grey Fox Games.
City of Gears was released at SPIEL '18. This game originally started as a contest entry for Best Steampunk Game on The Game Crafter, a website for creators to build and sell games. This is a resource management, area control and engine building game where you uncover a lost steampunk city and bring it back to life, using robot workers you deploy from your factory. The game includes 21 unique city tiles, 9 of which you use each game, and 40 different development cogs, each of which grant you a special player power.
Reavers of Midgard is the sequel to the worker placement game Champions of Midgard. It was recently funded on Kickstarter and has an expected release date of second quarter 2019. Reavers of Midgard's core mechanism is single worker placement, with each player getting one action and the rest getting weaker and weaker versions of the same action in turn order. You will send your viking crew to do battle with epic monsters, raid fortified keeps, get boat upgrades from villages, and conquer new lands.
Fun Fact: When Reavers of Midgard was initially pitched by J.B. Howell, the game was originally themed to take place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
—Devir Information provided by Adam Growden, Sales Administrator, Devir Games.
Silk pre-released at BGG.CON, with the full release first week of December 2018. In Silk you play a giant silk worm farmer in the Akaishi Mountains. You will be using your silk worms, shepherd, mastiff, and building improvements to control areas of the board. Your worms will graze on the grassy tiles to score points. Each player will determine their actions by rolling two dice at the beginning of their turn, showing what actions they can take. The die results can be modified by players spending their victory points to adjust the result up or down. Actions can be anything from scoring points to bumping an opponent's silk worm to the Ookami, a monster who steals any silk worms he comes in contact with (costing the player points).
Fun Fact: The designer Luis Ranedo is the singer of Spanish Rock band Madera.
Papua will be releasing alongside Silk the first week of December 2018. In Papua, players compete by sending scientists to different board locations allowing them to: discover new plant and animal cards, increase their number of scientists, gain more actions in a turn, gather food and money to supply their expedition, or collect scientific notebooks recording their findings. Players will score points through discovering new species, recording their findings, and resource accumulation. Sets are collected through a mixture of worker placement and secret bidding.
Fun Fact: Papua's title art is based off of an image of the Hewa people. The Hewa were one of the last contacted tribes in Papua, with contact not being made until 1975.
Fleet: The Dice Game was released at the end of 2018. This is a roll-and-write game set in the Fleet universe. Players go fishing by drafting "fish" dice that are used to acquire boats and fishing licenses (special abilities). The object of the game is to gain the most victory points by visiting the market, wharf, and harbor. Players sell fish to gain coins in the market and visit buildings at the wharf for end game victory points or special abilities. The harbor unlocks extra storage, more fishing, and victory points.
Escape Plan, by the designer of The Gallerist and Lisboa, has a planned release at Origins 2019. Players are each members of a gang who pulled a bank heist then hid money around the city. Now that it's safe to retrieve the money (freshly laundered of course), they are all suspicious of each other. Each tries to recover the most money from the various businesses where money was stashed. The game takes place over three days (with rounds of 6 to 8 actions). To win, a player must escape the city with the most money.
Fun Fact: Eagle-Gryphon's CEO, Rick Soued, and his wife, Joanne, just spent the last six months traveling all across Europe for their anniversary.
—Queen Games Information provided by Ian Kissell, Queen Games.
Bastille was released at SPIEL '18; it premiered at BGG.CON in the U.S. This is a light to medium Euro game in which players are trying to gain victory points by acquiring leaders, by completing missions, and through various bonuses. It is a worker placement game where the higher placement (influence number) goes first (or first player in the space if tie). The workers (influence number) may be upgraded through one of the actions.
Luxor: the Mummy's Curse, an expansion to Luxor, is expected to be released first quarter 2019. It includes three expansion modules: The Mummy, Pitfalls, and New Treasures.
Fun Fact: Queen Games started by selling Carrom boards for about the first ten years.
—Surfin' Meeple Information provided by Ian Birdsall, Group Marketing Manager, and Nikki Pontius, Surfin' Meeple.
Treasure Island, released at SPIEL '18, premiered at BGG.CON as a play-to-win tournament. Published by Matagot. In Treasure Island, one person plays Long John Silver. The other players are interrogating him to find out where he buried his treasure. Some information is hidden and some is public knowledge. The game includes a dry erase board map of the island, rulers, and templates. Players use the latter two to draw lines along which they move, and circle their dig area. Clues can include the direction to where the treasure is buried.
In Imagineers, published by Maple Games (below), players are building rides in a theme park to attract customers, represented by colored meeples, e.g. blue like water rides, red like thrill rides, yellow like family rides. Each player may also upgrade their own roller coaster (on their personal player mat), for example, by adding a loop to their roller coaster. The object of the game is to gain the most fame. Players use happiness points to gain fame; money is necessary to build new attractions and upgrade roller coasters. You generally get happiness by having visitors ride attractions (any player may do this) and gain money by having visitors use your attractions. The game has an intuitive Mancala style of play.
Fun Fact: Chris Leder originally designed Imagineers nearly twenty years ago under the title "CoasterCraft."
Fun Fact: Surfing' Meeple got their name from one of the owner's children who loved to surf while living in Californa.
Dragon Boats of the Four Seas is a light euro style game with elements of auction bidding and set collection. Set in a fictional kingdom inspired by Chinese mythology, players take on the roles of leaders of one of the great houses of Zhong-Guo. Over several rounds, players will trade, build farms, and make offerings for the safe passage of their ships to the forgotten lands. Dragon Boats of the Four Seas comes with three-dimensional dragon boats. There are many viable strategies to attain victory.
Fun Fact: The original "Four Seas" metaphorically made up the borders of pre-Han dynasty China.
Western Legends is available now (reprint also in the works due to demand). It is an open world, sandbox game. Assume the role of historical figures of the American West as you carve out your legend in any number of ways. You can gamble, drive cattle, fight bandits, prospect for gold, rob the bank and become an outlaw, or become a marshal and uphold the law. The possibilities are near endless. Very thematic.
Fun Fact: Fans of Western Legends will have the opportunity to Ante Up! this January.
Kami-Sama is an intuitive strategy game set in rural Japan during the Edo period. Assume the role of one of twenty Kami with your own unique powers. Use your asymmetrical abilities to place or remove shrines, build patterns to gain favor, draft villagers for bonuses, and work in balance with Nature to become the chief deity of the land. Kami-Sama will be available for retail release in first quarter 2019.
Fun Fact: The designers of Kami-Sama hid a number of cute cats among the villages in the game.
—Floodgate Games Information provided by Ben Harkins, Owner Floodgate Games.
Sagrada: 5&6 Player Expansion was released at Gen Con 2018. This expands the Sagrada base game to five or six players and introduces new private objectives that are position based, shown on each player's card as shaded areas. It also adds a private dice pool: two dice of each color that are rolled only at the beginning of the game; on their turns players must choose one die from their private pool and one from the public draft pool.
Bosk has a planned release of late Spring 2019. This is an area control game where players, each as a species of tree, play over four seasons. Spring is when players grow trees, Summer is a scoring round (along the park trails), Autumn is when the leaves fall off the trees - covering certain areas, and in Winter players score for area majority per region in the park.
Fun Fact: Bosk was signed by Floodgate Games after Daryl Andrews (co-designer) showed it to them at BGG.CON 2017.
—Indie Boards & Cards Information provided by Nick Little, Vice President of Production and Development.
Exodus: Paris Nouveau was released September 2019. This is a social deduction game with hidden teams (hunters and rescuers), set in the Dystopian Universe. This game is a little heavier than The Resistance. It has an auction system to determine the leader each round. There are multiple ways to win depending on which team a player is on.
Aeon's End: Legacy has a planned release of end of January 2019. This is the first legacy deck-builder game. It is a cooperative game in which players play as mages trying to fight off a big nemesis boss monster. Players start out as a adept mages. At the end of each chapter (e.g. game) players may upgrade their respective mages by choosing their abilities. At the end of the campaign, players will each have a complete mage that may be played with all other Aeon's End games (i.e. it's a character generator!). Unlike other legacy games, over 80% of the content is repayable outside of the legacy campaign. A reset pack will be available upon release that will allow players to replay the campaign and generate new characters.
Bladius, Aeon's End: Legacy
Fun Fact: The designer of Aeon's End: Legacy loves Kpop music.
Warehouse 13: The Board Game will be released first quarter 2019. This is a semi-co-operative (hidden traitor) game where players take on the role of one of the Warehouse agents. The game comes with rules for a fully cooperative variant. Like the television show, the characters go out seeking to retrieve dangerous artifacts: "snag it, bag it, and tag it." Players spend actions to obtain cards, then use the cards to get dice (working the case). Artifacts are retrieved by rolling the right combination on dice to match those on the artifacts. There is a field agent training video available (rules).
Infinite Dreams Gaming has plans to Kickstart an expansion second quarter 2019 featuring H. G. Wells and James MacPhearson as playable characters.
Fun Fact: The designers Michael Aldridge, Russell Rupe, and M. Shawn Smith II, were invited by Eddie McClintock, one of the main actors, to his house to play the game. He played his character, Pete. Eddie also did the voiceover for the Kickstarter video.
—BGG Geek Store
So many cool things to be found at the BGG Geek Store: promos, games from Asia, apparel, and more!
KeyForge: Call of the Archons was released in November 2018. This is a unique deck game by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. Each starter box contains two starter decks (two different decks but these are the same in each starter box) plus two completely unique decks (across all boxes produced) plus all the components to play the game with two players. The goal of the game is to forge three keys. Each player's decks contains cards from three of the seven available houses. On their turn they may play as many cards as they want (no cost) from only one of the houses. The cards allow players to collect aember, attack their opponent's creatures, etc. Aember is needed to forge keys.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game – Mother of Dragons expansion has a planned release of December 2018. This adds House Targaryen (dragon meeples to control!) and House Arryn, the Iron Bank of Bravos option (loans), and a side board of Essos (check spelling of all this). It also expands play to eight.
Fun Fact: The lead developer of KeyForge, Brad Andres, created a character of himself in the game, featuring his image on one of the cards: Quixo the Adventurer (a common house Logos card).
Neon Gods was released November 2018. This is an area control game that takes place in the "futuristic" year of 2009. Each player controls one four brightly colored gangs whose goal it is to rule the city by gaining the most blurp. Players gain blurp by building structures, selling product tokens, and winning fights. Players add cards to their game decks through recruiting, which in turn places more of their own gang figurines on the board.
Comanauts has a planned release of December 2018. This is the successor game to Stuffed Fables but geared more towards adults. It has similar game mechanisms and is more streamlined and stepped up a bit. Dr. Strobal has gone into a coma taking with him the knowledge of how to save the world. Players take on the roles of comanauts and venture into his subconscious to try to wake him up in time to prevent the end of the world.
Wyrmwood makes beautiful game-related things out of gorgeous woods (like purpleheart, zebrawood, and black walnut): dice towers, dice trays, deck boxes, game tables, and more!
—Z-Man Games Information provided by Beth Erikson, Z-Man Games.
The Great City of Rome debuted in Europe at SPIEL '18; the U.S. release is planned for early 2019. Players are trying to rebuild Rome, creating their best plan, by placing cards in a 4x4 grid, to present to the Emperor. The first player (which rotates) places their pawn on an action strip denoting resources. The few resources gained the more choices of city cards the player has, i.e. the strip has five resources (bricks and cogs in various order, over 6 double-sided strips), the further down the player plays on the strip, the more they gain, i.e. they gain all resources from the space they are on and up. The player with the best city plan _ that is, the most points — at the end of the game wins.
Narabi previewed at BGG.CON and has a planned release of early 2019. This is a small, quick co-operative card game in which players are trying to organize stones in a garden. The stones are cards, numbered or blank, that must be put in ascending order either clockwise or counterclockwise. Each stone card has a corresponding restriction card associated with it (before the game starts, each stone card will be randomly paired with a restriction card and put in a card sleeve - this provides variability between games). Each player gets a number of cards, depending on the number of players, giving them limited knowledge of their cards (restrictions). The players' cards are in front of them with stone side up so restrictions are hidden. On their turn, players exchange stones, working towards the correct arrangement one move at at time while following the restrictions.
Fun Fact: Atha Kaanani, the staff illustrator for Z-Man Games, used his girlfriend's image on the cover of Pandemic: Fall of Rome. Since she's his artistic muse, you may see her featured in his other art as well.
Gem Rush Second Edition was released at BGG.CON. This is a 1 to 7 player, competitive or cooperative, fast playing game through a magical gem mine. Skillful hand management and play are key to scoring. The goal is to get the most points by building out rooms in the mine. The new edition added new magical gems and skill cards for individual player skills.
The third printing of the second edition of Nemo's War is due to be released third quarter 2019. This will include two new expansions, Bold and Caring and Dramatis Personae. Bold and Caring includes two new motives: adventure and humanist. Dramatis Personae includes twelve new adventure cards mainly dealing with the crew (old and new).
Fun Fact: "A Christmas Miracle" promo card is in production for Nemo's War (set in 1870) in which Captain Nemo invents nascent light bulbs and illuminates them on deck for the assembled crew on Christmas Eve. The author of "20,000 Leagues Under the Seas," Jules Verne, was no fan of Christianity but a big fan of science, thus the card is a scientific nod on a Christian holiday.
—And now for something completely different...
My friend, Debbie Ohi, and I took a break from all the fun at BGG.CON to do a little shopping at my favorite Japanese "dollar" store, Daiso. Technically, it's a $1.50 store but that doesn't sound as good (and I barely acknowledge the extra $.50 plus tax... although this may have added to my checkout shock). Daiso is located only in a few western states right now, so whenever I visit one I make sure to plan time (and suitcase space) for Daiso. They have the cutest sticky notes! Little polar bears, penguins, colorful pencils, and so many others — it's hard not to buy them all. (They're only a dollar, right?) They also have really smooth paper, comparable to Rhodia writing pads (which are much more expensive). Perfect for pointed pen calligraphy practice.
Below is a photo of our combined haul. Funny how all those dollar items stack up to well over $100 (I'm not saying how much over either, just in case my hubby is reading this... love you baby!).
—Ravensburger Information provided by Mike Mulvihill, Ravensburger.
Carpe Diem was released at SPIEL '18. This is being hailed as a good introduction to Stefan Feld games since it's a bit more forgiving. This is a tile placement game in which players are trying to build up their own districts and gain victory points to win the game. Points are generated in various ways, and gained at the end of each of the four rounds and at the end of the game. In a four player game there is a tableau of 12 cards (reduced for fewer players) between which each player, at the end of a round, must place a marker between two cards (the space must be empty; they are not cleared during the game). The two cards score immediately. If a player does not have the resources or configuration in their district to score points, they get -4 points. The influence track determines the order players place their markers. The district, influence track, and resources will score at the end of the game.
Impact: Battle of Elements was released December 2018. This works similarly to Strike in which player toss dice into an arena (called a cauldron) trying to get matching symbols. In this version, the first die determines the element power that will be active for that game. For example, if the first die tossed has a lightning symbol on it, the Lightning Storm will be active. This means that whenever there are two or more lightning symbols showing in the cauldron, there will be a lightning storm: all players must quickly throw one of their dice into the cauldron at the same time. The active player then receives all dice that show matching symbols. A player who runs out of dice is knocked out of the game. The last player standing is the winner.
Fun Fact: For Halloween, Paula Biemann, Ravensburger's Consumer Marketing Specialist, dressed up as Ursula from their game Villainous. In the photo, she's also holding up the Ursula figure and the Arrogance card (featuring Ursula) from the game.
—WizKids Information provided by Zev Shlasinger, WizKids Games.
Magic the Gathering: Heroes of Dominaria Board Game was released at BGG.CON. This is a Euro-style game set in the plane of Dominaria. Players use mana for various actions, such as building manaliths, leylines, confronting the Cabal, and discovering artifacts. Player characters, Planeswalkers, also go on quests to gain victory points. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of games.
Bumúntú will be released in January 2019. This is a beautiful tile game where players use animal movement powers to collect tiles in order to gain points in various ways, depending on the animal. There is a favor board that determines the value of each animal at the end of the game. The board can be manipulated by players during the game by collecting specially marked animal tiles. There are a few tiles that are marked with symbols that will allow a player to score them at the end of the game as well. For example, animal tiles with masks on them give more and more points per mask collected.
Fun Fact: Almost everyone who worked on Maiden's Quest was female: artist, graphic designer, most playtesters, developer, lead play tester, and editors.
Cult: Choose Your God Wisely was pre-released at BGG.CON and should be in stores now. This is a worker/Priest placement game with a unique take on in-game currency: Followers. Players choose Gods and send their Priests to places in the Eternal City in an attempt to bring their deity victory over the minds and souls of humanity. Followers are gained and sacrificed. Altars are built to the different Gods as they clash in this new take on the genre.
Fun Fact: Cult: Choose Your God Wisely can now be played on Tabletopia (a virtual platform for board games co-founded by Agrology), allowing people to check it out before purchasing the physical game.
Rick and Morty Rickshank: The Rickdemption Deck-Building Game released at BGG.CON. This is a standalone game that is also fully compatible with the original Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game. New features include Access Tokens and Council cards. Access Tokens can be bought, gained, and spent in numerous ways. Many cards reference them in one way or another. They also give you the potential to increase the number of Votes you have when a Council card is played. Each Council card causes a Vote to be taken amongst the players. A Referendum is a Vote amongst the players to decide if they should all perform the listed action, or not. A Sanction is a Vote that players take to decide which player should be punished (with varying effects). Lastly, a Bid is a Vote on who should earn a positive effect. Here, each player Votes only for themselves, and the high bidder earns it.
Fun Fact: The infamous Szechuan Sauce card is in the game. Get it before it's gone!
Coldwater Crown: The Sea is scheduled for release in early 2019. It is the first boxed expansion to Coldwater Crown, the strategic fishing game from designer Brian Suhre. Coldwater Crown: The Sea integrates with the original game by adding a new fishing location (the Sea), five new species of fish, a new type of fishing tackle, punchboard fishing boats, and two variant species challenge tiles. A new Port action in the game allows players to move their fishing boat to "Sea," where they can catch Sea fish (and only Sea fish) with any color of bait. Sea fish are scored according to a special weight scale, with the potential for a lot of points, tempting players to stay "at Sea" longer while forgoing points from the standard fishing challenges.
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf was released in July 2018. It is a dexterity golfing game with a flickable paper "golf ball" that can fly, spin, hook, skip and flop. Players assemble and play-through a course, one hole at a time, from the punchboard obstacles provided in the game. They use standard mini-golf rules with modifications to account for the nuances of flicking a "golf ball" on a table. The rulebook provides diagrams to assemble 54 different holes, including trick-shot holes. Players may also design their own holes.
Fun Fact: During development of Mars Open: Tabletop Golf we conducted innumerable tests of the flight paths of the "golf balls," including distance trials on the floor like the one shown in the photo above.
—SolarFlare Games Information provided by Dave Killingsworth, Owner & CEO SolarFlare Games.
In late August 2018, SolarFlare released its first licensed game property, ROBOTECH: Force of Arms. It is a 1v1 sci-fi card game of fleet movement, area control, and bluffing, which plays in about 20-30 minutes. Everything you need to play comes in a box that fits conveniently in your bag or backpack. Player involvement and card interaction keep the game fresh so it's fun to play over and over. The game is also available online.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth, "ROBOTECH: Force of Arms is based on the 1985 Anime Robotech (The Macross Portion). Since we released ROBOTECH: Force of Arms the fandom has been wildly enthusiastic. We took scenes from the show and had the artists remake them in a modern and high resolution style that people have called 'Art as good as nostalgia remembers.' Since this has been so popular, we are actively working on ROBOTECH: Crisis Point, our early 2019 release (also a 1v1 but with deep strategy) based on the Masters part of the show, followed by ROBOTECH: Invid Invasion late in 2019, which will be a 1-6 player fully cooperative game based on the New Generation. Thus, if you sit and play all 3 games over a 2-3 hour period it will be like you played the show."
—Mercury Games Information by Richard "Doc" Diosi, President of Mercury Games.
Rail Pass will be released in mid-2019. It is a co-operative, modular pick-up and deliver game. The game is not quite like other train delivery games because it is timed. Players work together to deliver goods (colored cubes) from their respective cities to other players' cities, all of which are color coded (the cubes and the cities). There are always six cities in play regardless of the player count. Trains are loaded with cubes and passed to adjacent players sitting at the table. Although dexterity is a component, the main mechanism of the game requires loading and unloading trains of different capacities, and crew that can only deliver to an adjacent city before being sent back to their 'home' city. Logistics are a large part of this game. The game has a ten minute timer; players must deliver as many cubes to the correct colored cities as possible. Players score the two cities with the least cubes of their color delivered. Any dropped cubes (ones that may have fallen off trains as they are passed back and forth) are treated as negative points.
Big City: 20th Anniversary Jumbo Edition will be releasing in mid-2019. This reprint from the late Franz-Benno Delonge is the original modular city-building board game. It features new larger and detailed miniatures and is played on a colorful set of modular neighborhood boards. Utilizing cards for property ownership, players trade and play cards to place buildings and other structures onto the modular boards, scoring points for adjacency to other certain types of buildings, as well as whether the new building is in the "outskirts" (at the edge of the modular board) or "downtown" (encapsulated by other properties within the modular boards). The playing of the City Hall piece unlocks the ability to place many special buildings. A new redevelopment phase has been added to the original game to promote more property card trades among players. Also, a new expansion has been made for the game using pieces approved by the late Mr. Delonge.
Fun Fact: The City Hall piece fashioned for this version of Big City is Toronto's City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square.
Big City Parking Garage, a new piece from the expansion
Lincoln had on the special jersey for Game Night. Be sure to check out the latest episode.
This year there was a rather odd thing happening at the prize drawing. Number after number was called with no claim, and some that were claimed turned out to be incorrect (winning tickets are checked) — the games kept coming back. This was the first time in all the years I have been going that this has happened. I'm not saying it was anyone's fault, although it was guest of honor Tim Schafer's first time announcing. Just sayin'.
Tim Schafer, announcing yet another "winner"
Prizes, prizes, and more prizes!
When Jeff Anderson speaks, everyone listens intently: (Front) W. Eric Martin thinking about his next article, (R) Eric Lang falling asleep on his feet, (L) Michelle Alden and Matt Leacock sharing a private joke.
Finally Eric Lang, a.k.a. Bunny Ears, gets a taste of his own medicine. Way to go special guest Tim Schafer! You might even be invited back!
A very full room and one very happy (bordering on crazy?) looking Debbie Ohi (bottom right)
Special custom graphic posters given away
There were many other things going on at BGG.CON that I didn't get to cover. These included: Puzzle Hunt, Battling Tops, Orphans and First-Timers Meetup, Designer/Publisher Speed Dating, UnPub (Proto Alley), the ever popular Game Show (two times!), and more.
Hope to see y'all next year!!
Ironically, after yelling at Rodney to put his hands down, it was actually the best photo of the bunch.
The 2018 BGG@SEA cruise to Alaska was so popular that BGG decided to run two back-to-back one-week cruises during the dates June 22-June 29, 2018, and June 29-July 6, 2018. My husband Snoozefest and I went on the first week's cruise since we had planned to meet up with our Australian friends Peter Hawes and his S.O. Dominika, whom we had visited and traveled with at the end of 2014. We all signed up for the first week together. (Ironically, I have no photos of them since they were on a different meal plan — more on that below — and were too late in signing up for the BGG excursions; we did manage breakfast, lunch, and a couple of games together, though.) Also, my husband and I had planned to go to the Gulf Games convention in New Orleans, leaving for that trip only a few days after returning from the cruise, so the first week was just better for us. This was our first cruise!
There were 262 BGGers for the first week's cruise and 224 for the second week. The cruise left from the Seattle port with the following planned stops: Juneau, Alaska; Skagway, Alaska; Tracy Arm Fjords/Sawyer Glacier (although we were rerouted; details further below); and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo from plane, flying into Seattle
For gamers who were in Seattle on Thursday, June 21, and stayed at (or stopped by) the Hyatt Place Seattle/Downtown, there was gaming off the hotel lobby. Although we did get into Seattle on Thursday, it was rather late (for us anyway), so we just stopped by for a quick chat, then headed up to our room. We disembarked the next day, Friday, June 22. Before leaving, my husband and I walked to the Pike Place Market area and bought some crumpets and scones at The Crumpet Shop. (Highly recommended, but get there early because they can run out...and expect a long line.)
The cruise ship was Explorer of the Seas by Royal Caribbean, with Captain Mal at the helm (that would be Mal Bardsnes, sadly not Mal Reynolds). Price tiers for double occupancy were as follows:
• Interior cabins from $2,700 • Balconies from $4,500 • Suites starting at $6,300
This included taxes, fees, port expenses of $191.61 per person, pre-paid gratuities of $94.50 per person (or $115.50 for suites), and $100 onboard credit per stateroom.
It also included dining with other BGG@SEA group members every night (if desired), a welcome reception, access to overflow gaming space in the Main Dining Room on days 2, 3, and 6 from 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., access to BGG@SEA exclusive group shore excursions, a farewell reception, a commemorative BGG@SEA 2018 badge (color-coded to participation level) in a neck wallet, and a draw-string bag.
Gaming access prices per person were as follows:
• Adult (12+) game room badge $150 • Child (4-11) game room badge $75
A game room badge allowed a person to get into the traditional BGG@SEA gaming area in the dedicated convention space (located on deck 2). BGG decided to separate this charge in case family members wanted to go on the cruise but did not want to game; this way they didn't have to pay for a badge they weren't going to use. Game badges also included one game request (via traditional GeekList in advance of the cruise) to be added to the BGG@SEA Library from the full BGG Library, as well as the ability to check out one game at a time from the BGG@SEA Library to play elsewhere on the ship. (There was no need to check out games played in the convention space.)
Explorer of the Seas was built in 2000 and last refurbished in 2015. It is scheduled for more refurbishing in 2018 as follows:
On Sports Deck 13, Royal Caribbean's signature waterslides Cyclone and Typhoon will be installed next to the FlowRider simulator and on Spa Deck 12, a new Slashaway Bay kids aqua park will be added. (This is an interactive water play area with cannons and geysers, replacing the Outdoor Youth Area.) Explorer of the Seas is one of the Voyager-class Royal Caribbean ships, which also includes Adventure, Mariner, Navigator and Voyager. Explorer of the Seas has a total of 1,557 staterooms for 3,114 passengers (max capacity is 3,840 guests), served by 1,180 crew/staff. The ship has 14 passenger accessible decks, 15 lounges and bars, 4 swimming pools, 7 jacuzzis, and 14 elevators. Check out the official deck map for an idea of how the ship was laid out.
Passenger elevators were in two areas of the ship. Although 14 may seem like a lot of elevators, not all are available to passengers, and more importantly during high movement times (boarding the ship, disembarking for excursions, meal times, etc.) the elevators were jam-packed. The first time going to our stateroom we tried three times to get on an elevator before deciding to take the stairs up to our tenth deck suite. (We boarded the ship on the second deck, so this was quite the haul.) Unfortunately, once we got to our room, we had trouble with our room keys (note: they had lost our original sea pass/room keys and had to make new ones before we even boarded the ship) – it took two more trips down to the fifth deck to get in line for customer service and back up those stairs again before someone was sent to take apart the entire door mechanism, replace some parts, and get it working. For our trouble, we did receive a bottle of wine and an upgraded dinner for the two of us (more on this later). The upside was that with all the stair climbing, I didn't gain any weight on the cruise! Yay!
The ship is huge, which might be one reason we ended up at further docks at ports. Also, there were other cruise ships at closer docks; possibly they arrived earlier and received a better position. There were shuttles to town at an extra charge, but we just walked (average about a mile each way at each stop).
Ship in port at Juneau - further from the other docks
This was not one of the fancy all-inclusive cruises. However, the price was lower because of this. One of the reasons BGG chose this cruise was so that families and those on a budget might be able to better afford the trip (another consideration being the size of the convention/meeting space). As such, the food was just average/good. There were premium restaurants available at an extra charge (about $5 to $30 per person). We joined a group of friends at the Italian restaurant with our free upgrades — the food there was very good. Ben and Jerry's ice cream was available at an extra charge (but soft serve was free). There were also extra charges for drink packages and internet access. (If you didn't purchase the internet package, you had to buy access per day – I think it was around $15.)
Regarding dinners, there were a couple of options: My Time Dining and Main Dining. Since this was my first cruise, I hadn't realized there was actually a choice. If you went with the default, Main Dining, you were assigned a table for dinner every night with other BGGers (same table and people for the duration). My Time Dining gave you more time flexibility; you just had to make your own arrangements, e.g., if you wanted to sit with other My Time Dining friends. The cruise had two formal dress dinner nights. The food was a bit better than usual on these evenings (for example, one night they had a soufflé for the recommended desert). On our cruise, there were a lot of staff from India. This worked to our advantage since our waiter, finding out that we love Indian food, brought out several dishes from the staff dinners each night for us. The rest of our table was pretty thrilled as well. (Sometimes we even shared with neighboring tables.) This was some of the best food we had on the cruise.
Once everyone was on board the ship, there was a mandatory guest assembly drill. The purpose was to help passengers to familiarize themselves with the safety protocol, i.e., by gathering in their assigned meeting places in the event of an emergency.
Schedule (first week; second week was similar)
Some of the BGG group just before boarding the Explorer of the Seas (pictured in background)
BGG@SEA attendees were invited to a welcome reception on the first day of the cruise. Hot and cold canapés were served and there was an open bar. Jeff Anderson made some announcements, then told everyone that it was his wife Kristine's birthday. He had arranged for a keyboard and mic – and some fancy blue and gold lights – so that he could sing Billy Joel's "She's Got a Way" to her. It was very sweet.
Jeff Anderson sang to his wife Kristine for her birthday
Stronghold Games, as a sponsor, gave one game to every stateroom: a copy of Rogue Agent, given out at the welcome reception. Also, if you signed up for excursions, you received an additional game per excursion, cleverly themed to match:
We signed up for all three BGG excursions, so we received four games! Yay! It was a bit tricky getting them home on the plane, though, as we brought carry-on bags only. We actually gave one to friends in the Seattle area when we met up with them for lunch after the cruise...
One of the best things BGG@SEA has over other cruises is that during the "sea days", you can play games! Although there are plenty of ship activities, nothing beats friends and board games (in my opinion).
There were over five hundred games and expansions in the BGG@SEA library. Some people brought a few games of their own as well. As far as organized events go, Jeff Anderson arranged a Poker tournament and a Duplicate Tichu tournament. Jeff also ran a series of games called "The 504 Experiment". I played in the Duplicate Tichu tournament, a type of tournament that I had never tried before, and I think it lasted about three hours. It was run like a Duplicate Bridge tournament: Each table played with fixed hands that would be scored against other teams playing those same hands. There was a bit too much accounting for my tastes, but I'm glad I tried it. I much prefer regular Tichu tournaments, even though they tend to be much longer. By the way, Jeff and his sister came in first... hmm. (My partner and I came in second.)
Fun Fact (courtesy of Jeff Anderson): During the second cruise week, one of the couples got engaged! If you know the couple, maybe you could post some details in the comments?
There were quite a lot of ship activities, far too many to list, but here are a few: Bingo, ice skating show, open ice skating, rock climbing wall, FlowRider (boogie boarding), mini-golf, comedy shows, movies, dancing, and seminars (although usually combined with selling).
If you wanted to work out, there was a nice fitness center, plus a running area marked on the deck. (I think it was a one-mile track.) There was also a spa but it was quite expensive. I won a $250 gift certificate for the spa by attending one of the many raffle drawings (this one was part of a spa tour). My husband and I signed up for a 75-minute couples massage. It used up the certificate, our $100 ship credit (included with BGG@SEA), plus $100 more! They tacked on a 20% gratuity, which I would not have given since I was quite unhappy with the massage and my masseuse. Not only that, before we could leave, the two masseuses cornered us for a hard sell of their products — as in they trapped us against the back wall of the room, blocking the only exit, made us sit down (they were standing), told us about their products, then when we declined, asked us why we didn't want to buy products that would make us feel better…and I quote, "Don't you want to feel good?" When I told them we were flying home with only carry-on luggage, they told us, "No problem, we can ship the products to you." So kind of them.
We went to only one show, the ice skating show "Spirits of the Seasons". I don't know if it was a particularly bad night, but the skaters fell at least six times (of those I saw – you couldn't watch everyone since they would spread out on the ice). And no, it wasn't because of ship movement – we had a pretty steady ride. Another couple who went at a different time said they saw only three falls. Well, at least it was entertaining.
On three of the nights, we were treated to a cute towel animal, placed on our bed as part of the turndown service. For some reason, I looked forward to these silly things.
Every evening (also with the turndown service) the Cruise Compass newsletter was delivered. It was a good idea to read this pretty carefully. It contained the schedule, including eating times and dinner dress code, for the next day. Below are copies of the Cruise Compass for the first day of the cruise.
Click to enlarge!
After a full day of cruising (and board gaming!), we arrived at our first stop: Juneau, Alaska. Since we had time before our excursion, we decided to walk around town a little, then check out the Alaska State Museum. One thing about this cruise (and probably many other cruises) is that there is a lot of advertising and up-selling (e.g., for future cruises). Mostly this turned us off, but there is one slightly positive note — many of the jewelry stores gave out free charms and other inexpensive jewelry. If you are so inclined, you can stop by the stores listed on a coupon sheet, included in your Cruise Compass, and receive an inexpensive charm, necklace, ring, or other small trinket at each store you visit. The drawback is that you will likely have to listen to some spiel and up-selling; some even make you try on a piece of expensive jewelry before you receive your "free charm". Most were not too bad, but a couple were hard sells where you would basically have to be rude in order to extract yourself from their virtual grip. I did, however, gain quite a collection of souvenirs.
My collection of souvenirs from various jewelry stores in Juneau and Skagway
One interesting type of jewelry that I was slightly tempted to buy was something made with gold quartz. Gold quartz can be found in the Juneau gold belt.
Fun Fact from Wikipedia: "The Juneau gold belt is located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Alaska. This belt is approximately 100 miles (160 km) in length, north/northwest-trending, and extends from Berners Bay southeastward to Windham Bay, 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Juneau, and includes Douglas Island. The belt contains over 200 gold-quartz-vein deposits with production nearing 7,000,000 ounces (200,000,000 g) of gold. More than three-quarters of Alaska's lode gold was mined from the Juneau gold belt."
One of the better places to spend some time in Juneau is at the Alaska State Museum, otherwise known as SLAM (State Library, Archives, and Museum). Rebuilt in 2016, the new $140 million building contains four times the floor space as the old museum, including a gift shop, museum galleries, cafeteria, auditorium, classroom, reading room, research room, historical library, and state archives. It is a great place to learn about Alaska's history and cultures.
Photo taken at the Alaska State Museum
Fun Fact: Woolly Mammoths – this is what the label in the above photo says, "Mammoths came to North America from Asia, over the Bering Land Bridge, when the oceans were lower because water was locked in glacial ice. Alaska Native traditions recount the hunting of mammoths in Alaska, but thus far, no definitive physical evidence has been discovered. At the Swan Point site in Interior Alaska, one of the oldest sites in Alaska, evidence shows that people and mammoths coexisted there 14,000 years ago. Juvenile mammoth ribs were found there together with stone tools. At several sites in interior and northern Alaska, dating from 14,000 to 300 years ago, tools were found made from mammoth ivory and bone — but these materials were gathered from the surrounding landscape long after mammoths became extinct. Mammoths died out of the Alaska mainland around 14,000 years ago, but survived until around 6,500 years ago on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Mammoth tusks Collected by Martin Matuska at Livengood, near Fairbanks, where many specimens of ice-age megafauna were discovered during placer mining"
Next we walked back to the ship dock to meet up with the BGG group for our first excursion: Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Bake. We took buses to the Mendenhall Glacier. They allowed us about an hour, so we took the half-hour trail to the glacier. (It was going to be tight, so we walked fast.) The glacier is retreating so quickly that in a few years they will have to move the visitor center, which is already about a mile from the glacier. Check out the Huffington Post article and time lapse video over the last eight years showing the retreat: "Since installing a camera at Mendenhall in 2007, Extreme Ice Survey says the glacier has retreated more than 1,830 feet — about one-third of a mile. Its abnormally fast retreat and deflation shows the effects of climate change in action..."
The trail was easy to walk and in good condition. It was also very pretty, with a scenic point along the way.
After returning to the buses, we were brought to Gold Creek (rainforest and creek area) for a Salmon Bake. (I actually don't eat seafood, but they had chicken as well.) The food was really good; people seemed to really enjoy the salmon too, go figure. I loved the cheesy scalloped potatoes (had a huge helping!) and corn bread. The blueberry cake was also quite yummy. Here's the description from the Alaska Channel website:
You'll also, no doubt, smell your feast being prepared: Alaskan-caught wild salmon grilling over an open, alder wood fire. The all-you-can-eat meal — served under translucent domes, in case of soft rain — includes baked "cheechako" chicken ("cheechako" is slang for "newcomers"), Gold Rush potatoes, baked beans, wild rice pilaf, fresh salads and corn bread. Wash it down with lemonade, coffee or tea — or pay a few dollars extra for beer and wine, including some locally made ales.
As though blueberry cake weren't enough for dessert, you can finish off your meal with perhaps the greatest, yet simplest, delicacy of outdoor dining: roasted marshmallows, which you can prepare yourself over the crackling campfire. The lush scenery of Southeast Alaska's rain forest is another wonderful after-meal complement, along with the folk music performed by local musicians. After dessert, browse for gold panning kits and other mementos in the trading post.
Making smores at the Salmon Bake
From Juneau, we headed to our next port in Skagway, Alaska. Our excursion, the White Pass Railway Tour, didn't leave until 12:40 p.m., so we had time to walk around (visiting a few more jewelry stores), then pick up something for lunch to bring on the train. Skagway really is a throwback to the past. It looks similar to how it looked one hundred years ago, and in fact many of the original buildings are still standing. Take a look at the following photos of McCabe College (Skagway Museum) and the Arctic Brotherhood Hall, then check out the 100+ year old photos of the same buildings (just do a search) on the Klondike Gold Rush website.
Skagway Museum, Skagway, Alaska
Fun Fact: The Skagway Museum above is one of the best museums in a town filled with museums (not exaggerating). Constructed in 1899 by the Methodist Church, it was originally McCabe College, Alaska's first higher education institution. It was the first building in Alaska to be built of granite. After only a couple of years, the school was closed in 1901 and sold to the federal government to be used as a U.S. district court and jail. In 1956, the building was purchased by the city of Skagway. In 2000, an addition was put on the building. Today it houses the city hall, jail, and museum, the latter of which takes up the entire first floor. The museum contains much of the local history, including native Alaskan baskets, beadwork, and carvings as well as the Klondike Gold rush. One of the main attractions is the small pistol that the famous Gold Rush era con artist Soapy Smith kept up his sleeve.
Arctic Brotherhood Hall (AB Hall), Skagway, Alaska
Fun Fact: The Arctic Brotherhood Hall, or AB Hall, was constructed in the summer of 1899. The facade was added in 1900 using 8,883 pieces of driftwood from Skagway Bay. These were removed over the 2004-2005 winter for restoration, although about 40% had to be replaced as they had rotted. It used to be a fraternal hall for the local chapter of the Brotherhood; it is currently a visitor center and gift shop.
For lunch, we went to an excellent Thai restaurant, Starfire. (Yeah, I too was surprised to find this little gem here.) They are known for their Drunken Noodles dish, but it is usually served only for dinner. After some begging and my best sad face, the chef said he would cook us our two orders to-go. Woo-hoo! It did live up to its reputation — and the serving sizes were pretty huge.
The 3.5 hour ride on the White Pass Railroad was absolutely breathtaking. The train cars we were in had tables, so we could play games; I think I played only one though as there was just too much spectacular scenery to see. Below are a few of the photos I shot along the way.
White Pass Railway Tour, glacier on top of mountain
White Pass Railway Tour, train going around turn
White Pass Railway Tour, stream and a whole lot of pretty
Not the Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier
After leaving Skagway, the ship headed (overnight) to the Tracy Arm Fjord. The original plan was to stop at the Sawyer Glacier down the Tracy Arm Fjord in the morning and do some turns in the water in front of the glacier for an hour or so. However, we were rerouted to the Endicott Arm and the Dawes Glacier. The Cruise Compass, received the night before, noted "that there has been a lot of ice flow at Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm. With this limiting how close we can get to the Glacier in Tracy Arm and the safety of the ship with the floating pieces of ice, Captain Mal will make the decision upon arrival whether to take the option to go to Dawes Glacier at Endicott Arm which is close by. In previous cruises this has been the better option and Captain Mal has navigated the Explorer of the Seas less than half a Nautical mile [.575 miles] to Dawes Glacier giving you a stunning photo opportunity." Hmm. As I told my husband the night before, I had a feeling that we were going to be seeing the latter glacier. In Seattle, I talked with someone who was on another cruise at the same time, different ship, who saw the Sawyer Glacier. My guess is they usually go down to the Dawes Glacier – possibly because of ice flows but also maybe because there are other ships going to that location. (The second week also went to Dawes.)
Here's a pretty spectacular video of the Sawyer glacier on July 6, 2018 (the last day of the second cruise, well after they left the area):
We didn't get to see any spectacular calving, but it was still stunningly beautiful.
Iceburg, glacier ice flow from Dawes Glacier, Endicott Arm, Alaska
Glacier ice flow and the Dawes Glacier, Endicott Arm, Alaska
Near Dawes Glacier, Endicott Arm, Alaska
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
From the glacier, we started towards our next destination: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. There was another full day of cruising before we reached our destination on the seventh day. Around 9:30 a.m. we headed to the meeting place just off the ship, for our 10:00 a.m. excursion (4+ hours). We took buses through the city of Victoria to the Butchart Gardens (our bus driver gave us a sort of tour, pointing out the sights as he drove). The first thing we did was have lunch — a gourmet picnic! Each of us were given a huge basket full of food, which was way too much to eat. It was quite good. (There was seafood in main dish; I didn't eat it but there was so much food that I didn't care.)
Butchart Gardens picnic Victoria, Canada; L to R: Ravindra Prasad, Ken and Robin Hill, Mary W. and Lorna W., Steven and Linda Pedlow
The famous Sunken Garden was a former limestone quarry in Jennie Butchart's backyard. She and her husband, Robert, moved to Vancouver Island in 1904 in order to build a cement plant on a rich limestone deposit. Once the limestone was exhausted (circa 1912), Jennie made plans to transform the giant hole into a beautiful garden. According to the Butchart Gardens website, the Sunken Garden took nine years to build; it contains five acres of gardens with 151 flower beds with 65,000 bulbs planted for Spring. Today the Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada.
Famous Sunken Garden, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada
Flowers, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada
Flowers, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada
Flowers, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, Canada
After the excursion, the bus returned us to town. We asked to be left off across from the Fairmont Empress (an upscale 1908 hotel), near the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. After a quick peek inside the Fairmont Empress, one couple decided to tour the Parliament, another took a pedicab to a shopping area, while others went to the Royal BC Museum. (My husband and I were in the latter group.) The museum had an awesome special exhibition — Egypt: Time of the Pharaohs — that I was particularly interested in. We also took a stroll through some of the regular collections before walking back to the ship.
Sarcophagus, Egypt: Time of the Pharaohs, Royal BC Museum, Victoria, Canada
Ice Skating and Farewell Reception
When the ice isn't being used for performances, they open up the rink for skating. We went on the last day, just before the farewell reception. Because of safety, they make you wear a helmet and you can't do any tricks (i.e., no jumps). I grew up ice skating, so it was fun to relive my ice skating days (minus jumps). We skated for about 45 minutes or so. With the helmet on and all the skating, my hair was soaked by the time I left (plus I think I was a bit dehydrated). We just stopped in at the farewell reception to say goodbye to some people before heading up to our room to pack; we wanted to get off the ship soon after we docked in the morning, around 7:00 a.m.
The farewell reception was similar to the welcome reception, with hot and cold canapés being served and an open bar. Jeff Anderson announced the next BGG@SEA, planned for August 24-31, 2019. The cruise starts in Miami, FL, and will include St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. It will be on the newest and largest cruise ship in the world: the Symphony of the Seas — a sister ship to the Harmony of the Seas from BGG@SEA 2017. BGG will start taking deposits in late August 2018.
Michelle Alden and Jon Theys
with my Duplicate Tichu tournament partner Peter Hendee in the background
For families, this is a fantastic opportunity. There are lots of activities for kids on the ship. The tiered pricing system helps make it affordable. It's also a great way to see other places — the ship is basically your own floating hotel — and to get to know other board gamers (especially if you do the Main Dining). Of course there's plenty of time to play board games, especially on "at sea" days.
A special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing statistics on the 2018 cruise as well as information about next year's cruise.
The Board Game Bazaar was held Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This is a popular event with long lines down the halls. It is well organized, though and (surprisingly) people walk into the room in an orderly manner, which is amazing considering all the games just waiting to be bought (such control!). The seller table spots fill up every year, so you know there will be lots to choose from. Here's a short video showing some of the tables during set-up, plus footage of attendees streaming into the room. At the end of the video there is a particular game featured; I wouldn't buy it, even for the flaming fun — the cover gives me nightmares even in one glance.
MeetMax Games is a new venture. The idea is to take what people love about board games and create a platform on which to run that is viable for groups of 10 to 50 people playing simultaneously and interactively. The games developed could be used for corporate or school entertainment.
All games are real time and played person to person (i.e., not individually against a computer). Shared screens allow players to keep track of game progress. Personal devices are not used. Technology is used only for the administration required for a large group to play in real time. (It's more of a background handler for things like keeping score, keeping track of trades and bids, placing workers, etc.) Games require no prior knowledge or experience. Rules usually take under two minutes to explain, but still allow for different gaming experiences and include some unique game mechanisms possible only with large groups and simultaneous play.
Currently MeetMax Games' clients are mostly tech and finance companies who hire them for a team activity — an alternative to bowling, paintball, or other typical team outings. Eventually the company wants to make this accessible to schools, churches, and more.
MeetMax ran two sessions at BGG.CON, both for fun and as an experiment to get feedback from players, with three or four games in each one-hour session. A prize was given out for the winner of each session. Five games already developed for the platform include:
*Treasure: A short discovery game. Figure out clues in order to find your teammates and a hidden treasure. *Ships: A fast-paced negotiation/press your luck game with a bit of resource management and virtual worker placement. *Settlement: A light civilization development game. Trade resources and collaborate to grow your character and develop the new world. *Potions: Sid Sackson's classic Haggle re-themed. Trade information and ingredients to brew the strongest potion. *Balloons: A light-hearted chaotic movement and coordination game. Launch and keep as many hot-air balloons afloat as possible.
Board Wargamers Meet & Greet, and Introduction to Board Wargaming
A meet-and-greet for wargame enthusiasts was held Wednesday evening. They typically discuss games they would like to play during the convention and organize schedules for game play. The Introduction to Board Wargaming sessions were 20-30 minute presentations, given by Christopher "Doc" Cummins, publisher at Strategy & Tactics Press and CEO of Decision Games, on basic concepts and terms of board wargaming. The presentations were followed by a demonstration using enlarged versions of Decision Games' mini-games.
Decision Games hosted the Wargamer Meet & Greet as well as two Introduction to Wargaming sessions featuring enlarged versions of our mini-games Eagle Day (Battle of Britain, 1940) and Phobos Rising (Rebel Commandos on Mars).
Fun Fact: In 2018, Decision Games is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Strategy & Tactics Press celebrated the 50th anniversary of Strategy & Tactics magazine in 2017. For more information, see the Exhibit Halls section.
Designer/Publisher Speed Dating
As the name implies, this is a quick date between publishers and designers. Will they meet that special someone, get together, and eventually produce offspring? Hopefully by the time the SPIEL rolls around? This annual event is free, but attendees are allowed to present to publishers only if they were pre-approved. (This year’s sign up was open until October 31, 2017.) The event was held Wednesday and Thursday nights for two hours, with 12 tables each night. According to the rules, only nearly complete, fully tested games with a working prototype were acceptable. Games submitted in previous years or games already successfully crowdfunded were not allowed. More rules were posted in a Google document. (Information from James Mathe.)
The name of the hunt was Puzzle Your Way Across the USA. There were 50 puzzles, one for each state, and a 51st meta puzzle, that is, a puzzle that you solve with the answers from the other 50. We had 98 teams of four this year. That's the most number of teams ever for a puzzle hunt. Normally Aaron and I figure out some sort of scoring system so that after the two hours are up we can declare a winner. But this year we didn't do that. This year there were no winners — or rather, there was no first place or anything.
Instead, the answer to the meta puzzle directed you to a penthouse room. You were then allowed to enter that room if you had the correct password. And in that room, on the full size refrigerator, were around one hundred hand-carved fridge magnets. These were made by Aaron and his wife Kate. Everyone on your team got a magnet, so with 100 magnets that meant we could reward 25 teams, though there were some teams of two and three, so I think we ended up giving out magnets to 26 teams. The final answer for the puzzle hunt was the word "Brotherhood", so the magnets we made were hearts. As I said, they were hand carved out of wood, then hand painted; each one was essentially unique since Aaron made them one at a time. They ranged in size, but they were all about the size of, like, a homemade cookie — about 3" by 3", give or take.
We normally run the hunt at exactly two hours from when I stop doing my introduction / instructions, but this year we told people to get there early and surprisingly everybody did, so we were able to give everybody about 2 hours and 20 minutes, which was nice, since we wanted as many teams to get to the end as possible.
Oh, when we ran out of heart magnets, we gave away heart lollipops so that teams would still get something if they made it to the end. No one could check any of their answers with us; if you solved the puzzle, you knew you had solved it, so because there was no... operation or game control Central, you could keep solving if you wanted to after the time was up. Because of that, when the time was up, Aaron and I went to the Final End Game Room and stayed there for another hour, greeting teams that still wanted to play.
We announced up front that when the hunt was officially over, we would keep the final part of it open for another hour in case people wanted to keep solving. These numbers aren't entirely accurate, but we're pretty sure somewhere around 30 to 35 teams solved within the time limit, and another 20 or so teams finished in the extra hour that we gave people afterwards.
Forty-nine of the puzzles were just a single sheet of paper, but we had one dexterity game that was a miniature golf challenge. We had bought a 12' by 7' children's rug that had a map of United States on it. We called it the Golf of Mexico. You had to hit a ball from the Gulf of Mexico to one of six states on the map depending on how you rolled a D6.
Not Really a Fun Fact: Dave: "It's funny, but until you asked me, it didn't strike me that we really had no weird, wild, crazy, funny stories this year. Or rather, if there were any, they never got to me or Aaron."
A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch, by Catan Studio and Fantasy Flight Games was described in Exhibit Halls Part 1, with more photos
A Column of Fire released in the U.S. at BGG.CON. It was released in Germany simultaneously with the book by Ken Follett of the same name. It is a Euro-style game with a strong indirect conflict element. Players each start with a set of six different colored dice. Each turn they roll their free dice. During their turns, players use up to two actions: choose a character and use the rondel. When they choose a character, the die goes on the character and counts down each turn from the number that was originally rolled; when it reaches 0 the character gets discarded and the player gets the die back to use again. To use the rondel, the player moves their player token around to the selected die's color and gets that benefit. When a player selects a character, a token is placed in the religion space track, which can trigger a conflict between the Catholic and Protestant religions. Conflicts create victory points for the winners and reduce benefits for the losers. Victory points are gained in other ways as well (e.g. via resources collected). The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner.
Imhotep: A New Dynasty, an expansion to Imhotep, is due to be released in mid-2018. This will add additional site boards, more market cards, as well as introducing god cards and chariots (pieces).
Fun Fact from Phil Walker-Harding, game designer, and Tom Wetzel, Customer Service: "In true board game expansion form, Phil Walker-Harding did not have an expansion in mind when designing Imhotep (streamlining the game with [all the] best ideas possible). But when KOSMOS asked him to come up with more site boards, he rose to the challenge. Inspired by his own games, the new site boards incorporate ideas from since published games by Phil as well as full prototypes that haven't been published (yet?)"
Mountains of Madness released at SPIEL '17. The game was inspired by the popular novel At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. Players have to cooperate to reach the top of the mountain, then escape safely, but themountain has more than one trick up its sleeve. In horror, you realize that the higher you fly, the crazier your teammates become. Each step you take, the leader must gather the necessary equipment from all other players to keep on flying.
Fairy Tile will be released February 2018. Develop the Kingdom of Fairy Tile by putting new land tiles in play and moving the princess, knight, and dragon across different places such as mountains, forests, and plains. Help them have extraordinary adventures by accomplishing objectives written on the pages of your book. As soon as you complete an objective, develop your story and read the page of your book aloud. Be the first to read all the pages of your book to win the game.
Fun fact: Stephan Brissaud, CEO of IELLO: In spite of the Thomas Fire during Christmas 2017, a 3.8 earthquake in January 2018, and a mudslide that blocked 101, the Santa Barbara office of IELLO is still standing.
Iron Curtain released in October 2017. This is a cold-war era 20-minute card driven, strategic war game based off of Twilight Struggle. It simplifies the board game into two basic game mechanisms: command actions and event actions.
Valerian: The Alpha Missions just released. Based on Luc Besson's movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, it is a mission-based, tile-driven cooperative board game. Players are agents working together to complete missions while evading the aliens. The objective is to get 20 mission points before the aliens get 20 tracking points.
Fun Fact: In two of Ultra PRO Entertainment's cat games they used photos of real cats. For You Gotta Be Kitten Me they had a Facebook contest; people submitted their cat photos and they turned one into a promo card for the game. For Battle Kittens they asked staff and friends to submit their cat photos then selected several for cards in the game.
Card (L) based on cat photo (R) taken by cat's owner Josh Williams, Ultra PRO Entertainment Sales Account Manager
Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was released August 2017. Play is similar to the Marvel Legendary line of games, but set in Sunnydale in the Buffy universe. In this game there is a light track and a dark track that affects heroes and villains differently, depending on where the markers are in the tracks; each are uniquely affected. There are courage tokens, which add flexibility: a plus one to recruiting or attack. Multiple tokens may be used at one time and they may be split between recruiting and attacking on a turn as desired. The cards have actual photos from the TV show.
Dark Legacy: The Rising is planned to be released in Q3 2018. This is a role-playing card game (RPCG) that combines elements of popular trading card games and traditional role-playing games into a chess-like strategic game. Each player is a part of the game as a character who gets to customize their deck to their character. It has a leveling-up system and uses a D20 mechanism. The D20 is both your casting resource as well as your hit accuracy. The playmat is a key component in game; it limits the number of cards you may put down, so you must manage them wisely.
Fun Fact: Dark Legacy was created because the designer Bryan Tillman was challenged by his students at the Art Institute of Washington, who said that it was impossible to create a game with substance in 11 weeks. He said "Challenge accepted!" and created this game. Bryan is a comic book artist by trade; he has even worked for Marvel, DC, Image, and others.
Klondike Rush was released August 2017. This is an economic game in which players invest in mining companies with the goal of making the most money by the end of the game. Each turn a player puts a company card up for bid (once around). Then the player may build any mines from previously won company cards and/or the one they won this turn, earning goods on the mine space(s). Company cards may also have orders that may be fulfilled by goods; they yield some amount of money. Players have a cash out card that may be used during the game to get the current cash value of all their stocks in money. There is also a cash out round at the end of the game. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.
Empires of the Void II has a planned release of Q1 2018. The designer took the basic concept from the original Empires of the Void and added new mechanisms, basically revamping the game. This is a space exploration, civilization game. The board has seven spaces for planets. At the beginning of the game the board is seeded with seven planet tiles (out of nine) according to a some rules. The corresponding cards for each of the planets on the board are shuffled into a draw deck. Cards have multiple uses: battle, technologies, and actions. Players are trying to get the most points through conquering, gaining technologies, allying with plants, and constructing buildings. The deck is the game timer, with one scoring round (card) about halfway through the game and a final scoring round at the end.
Fun Fact: Ryan Laukat, the game designer and artist of both the above games, taught himself 3D modeling in order to design the miniatures included in Klondike Rush and Empires of the Void II.
Information from Isabella Long, Convention and Retail Coordinator.
Divinity Derby was released December 2017. Players take on the role of a mythical god placing bets on the creatures flying around Mount Olympus. Divinity Derby is a fast-playing card-driven game with an original card-sharing mechanism; each player plays with two hands of cards, sharing a cardholder with each neighbor so that limited information is available for each bet made and for the racing rounds.
Hunt for the Ring is an asymmetric hidden movement game releasing January 2018 (with exclusive copies for sale at BGG.CON). One player takes on the role of Frodo Baggins — the Ringbearer — who must bring his hobbit friends from their home in the Shire to the sanctuary of Rivendell, where the fate of the One Ring will be decided. The Ringbearer must escape the chase of the Nazgul, the terrible Ringwraiths, controlled by up to four other players. The Ringwraith players work together to find Frodo and recover the One Ring for their Dark Lord, while the Ringbearer secretly tracks his path first from Hobbiton to Bree, then from Bree to Rivendell, on a double-sided game board.
Fun Fact! Both of the above games' pieces were sculpted by the famed Bob Naismith, along with the rest of the War of the Ring games. This way Hunt for the Ring fits in with the rest of the line for a clean and timeless look.
Information provided by Hunter Shelburne, Community Manager.
Super Kitty Bug Slap released December 2017. This is a dexterity and matching game to prove who has the fastest paws. Players are trying to match the color, shape, or bug on their card with the cards being flipped on the table, then slap them as quickly as possible. It works for kids learning to match colors and shapes, or for adults looking for a chaotic party game.
The Munchkin Collectible Card Game releases February 2018. It combines the world of Munchkin with a brand new design from Eric M. Lang and Kevin Wilson. Choose one of six different heroes: Orc Bard, Human Wizard, Elf Thief, Dwarf Cleric, Centaur Warrior, or Halfling Ranger. Each starter set comes with two unique heroes and is completely playable for two players out of the box. You can expand the game with additional randomized booster packs, each containing 12 cards. While the game is set in the world of Munchkin, the mechanisms are different, e.g., there is bluffing, which can shift the tide of battle. This also gives fans the two-player Munchkin experience they've been asking for.
Fun Fact: Each hero in the Munchkin CCG has a different artist, who also created the art for all of that class' cards. John Kovalic did the art for all of the neutral cards, as well as some alternate art rares!
Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn was released November 2017. Civilization: A New Dawn is a turn-based strategy board game. As leaders of competing nations, players must expand their domains, gain new technologies, and build wonders in order to rise above all others and shape the world to their own vision. By balancing their nation's pursuits, leaders can build a new society greater than any that has come before and guarantee that their people will not only survive, but thrive. Though Fantasy Flight had previously released a game called Sid Meier’s Civilization, this game is a completely new and different design. Both will continue to be supported going forward.
Legacy of Dragonholt was released November 2017. Legacy of Dragonholt is the first narrative adventure game set in the Runebound universe. This game's story turns players into heroes and takes them to the edge of Terrinoth where a mysterious death has occurred. Players have the opportunity to design their heroes, then journey to the far reaches of the realm where they will attend balls, battle goblins, and end the reign of an evil count who threatens to usurp the rightful heir of Dragonholt.
Fun Fact: Legacy of Dragonholt features a number of Easter eggs, some of which cannot be found simply by playing the game as instructed. One of these will even lead players to an entirely new location, featuring characters inspired by members of the development team at Fantasy Flight Games. Players can also find an achievement list on FantasyFlightGames.com, encouraging them to play in unique ways and pursue a variety of in-game goals.
Majesty: For the Realm was released December 2017. Set during the Middle Ages, Majesty: For the Realm is a game of strategically selecting who you want to work your lands. Each game, you recruit characters to perform jobs that generate gold for your kingdom. Some characters work better with others, opening many paths to victory.
SpyNet was released October 2017. This is a card game in which each player takes the role of a spymaster, seeking to recruit agents from different branches of espionage to complete missions and dominate the world of undercover intelligence. The real trick is to strike a balance between recruiting agent and mission and deploying them to the field. For every agent recruited, there are dozens out there working for the enemy, so each spymaster will have to recruit carefully in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Fun Fact: Each of the twelve special agents in SpyNet is named based on a theme, unique to their branch.
Stuffed Fables is due to be released February 2018. This is the first "AdventureBook Game", which features a book that acts as your rules reference, story guide, and game board, all in one. In the game, players take on the roles of stuffies seeking to save the child they love from an evil mastermind. Make daring melee attacks, leap across conveyor belts, or even steer a racing wagon down a peril-filled hill.
Crystal Clans is due to be released in Q1 2018. In Crystal Clans, two players go to battle with unique armies. Leading their squads across the battlefield, players compete to gain crystals that hold the power to dominate their world. Six clans stand ready to battle for dominance, including the adaptable Water Clan, the peaceful Flower Clan, the relentless Skull Clan, the innumerable Blood Clan, the wise Meteor Clan, and the unyielding Stone Clan. Each clan's cards can be used in multiple ways, giving you more options and adding surprise to each battle. The first clan to claim four crystals wins.
Unlock! Escape and Unlock! Mystery Adventures were released in 2017; Unlock! Secret Adventures is coming in Q2 2018. Unlock! is a series of cooperative card-based escape adventures for up to six players. Each Unlock! game consists of sixty cards depicting objects, maps, and puzzles that can be activated, solved, or combined in an effort to access other cards and areas. The free companion app tracks the time allotted to win the game, while also offering hints and unlocking new, and necessary, elements. When the players believe they have figured out the code to escape each adventure, they will input the number into the app and escape the danger, or lose even more time in finding the real sequence.
Fun Fact: There are currently four completely free Unlock! scenarios available to download and print at from here on Asmodee's website.
Some information provided by Elena Christensen, Social Media and Public Relations, Asmodee North America.
Secrets was released August 2017. Your team is in dire need at the beginning of the game, but it's hard to know who your allies are. Each turn, secretly send a character to an opposing agency. That player is free to take them in or to send them back to you. Find your teammates, fool your enemies, and become the most influential agency. But beware the hippies as they could very well save the world.
When I Dream was released November 2017. This is a party game in which the players, in turn, take on
the role of a dreamer. At the beginning of each round, one player takes on the role of the Dreamer and "falls asleep", wearing a cloth mask. The other players are secretly dealt their role cards determining what kind of spirits they are: good, naughty, or tricksters – changing sides as the game goes on. A round lasts 120 seconds in which the spirits are drawing dream cards depicting a specific element of the dream, trying to describe them to the dreamer using one word each. The dreamer can guess what the element of the dream is at any time, placing the card to the good spirits team side if the guess was correct and in the naughty spirits pile if it was not. At the end of the round, the Dreamer and the good spirits get a point for every card in the good spirits pile and the naughty spirits get one point for every card in the naughty spirits pile. The tricksters get points according to how well balanced the two teams were at the end of the round, gaining extra points if they managed to equally balance the two piles. Then the dreamer must use the words they guessed and tell a story about their dream for extra points before they open their eyes.
Fun Fact: Before the game was released, Repos strapped a camera and a large balloon to a copy of When I Dream and sent it into the Earth’s stratosphere. You can watch the video below.
Dome Crushers has a planned release of January 2018. It is the first in Floodgate's line of two-player games. It is a head-to-head, arena battle card game. Players have symmetric decks with multi-modal cards, i.e., they may be used for their abilities or for their attack value. After each battle (four cards) is resolved, players remove their "attackers" (cards) from their deck. The loser turns them face down; the winner turns them face up. At the end of the game, the face-up cards score points for their attack value. The other cards are put back on the bottom of the deck. The game ends when either player cannot refresh up to four cards.
Sagrada was released in May 2017. This is a puzzle/pattern matching game with colorful transparent dice. The boards represent stained glass windows; the players are each building their own with dice. The game uses a snake drafting method for dice selection each round. During the game, players each fill in a patterned board with their selected dice, following rules for placement, such as only a 2 die can be placed on a 2 space, only a red die can be placed on a red space, and dice of the same number or color may never be adjacent.
Fun Fact: According to designer Daryl Andrews, the Sagrada game mechanism is based on the Five Color Theorem from graph theory, used in practice on postal maps.
DC Comics Deck-Building: Confrontations released November 2017. This is a team 2v2 deck-building game featuring Super Heroes vs. Super-Villains. Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Zatanna take on Lex Luther, Black Manta, Circe, and Felix Faust. One innovation is cards with "Assist", which you may play during your teammate's turn to help them. The game is a direct attack game in which you are trying to take down your opponents' characters, each getting progressively more difficult to beat. The game also comes with rules for two- and three-player games.
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Melee at Murdershroom Marsh released November 2017. This spell building standalone/expansion to the Epic line features new keywords and new thrills. "Everlasting" treasures stay in play even after your wizard dies. "Cantrip" cards can be played from your hand at a cost of discarding two cards of a certain type. "Bad Trip" cards resolve twice if your spell contains four or more different glyphs. Half the Deliveries in the set are Creatures while the other half are "Duel-Glyph" Deliveries. Cantrip and Duel-Glyph will help to aid you with your Bad Trips.
Fun Fact: Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Melee at Murdershroom Marsh contains vanity cards featuring the past three Gen Con Champions. Look for the ridiculous trophies in the art to find them.
Twilight of the Gods was released September 2017. This is an expandable card game in which two players control two different deities from the world's many pantheons. The goal of the game is to reduce the other player's deck to zero. Players may summon creatures, cast spells, and use their unique deity power. In order to pay for costs, players need resources. Resources are acquired by trading cards in your hand with your opponent. All resources have a trap on them, which may be activated by an opponent by other card effects.
Chariots of Rome is due to be released in Q1 2018. It is a race game in which players control a charioteer with a unique ability. Players run two to four laps (depending on how long a game the players want). The player who comes in first wins. Each player has a play mat that tracks stress on the chariot, speed (slow, medium, fast), and tactics points (used to perform attacks on opponents or to try to reduce the stress the player's chariot takes). Going faster is more dangerous but lets you move further. There is also a fate deck that affects global play.
Fun Fact: Petra at Victory Point Games: "We actually playtested Chariots of Rome on three different race tracks! In addition to the Circus Maximums that is included with the game, we also made playtest tracks for the Circus Minimus (a smaller, narrower oval) and Talegadus (a sprawling four-corner track with a hazardous back-straight partially consumed by a recent natural disaster). If we ever do a major expansion for this game, we hope to include them."
And now for a break to check out the view from my hotel window… isn't it lovely?
Information provided by Peter Przekop, Gale Force Nine Games.
Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks was released December 2017. The game is a semi-cooperative dice management game. Each player is a different regeneration of the Doctor, all of whom are racing the Daleks (and each other) to Gallifrey. To progress their TARDIS through the web of time, Doctors will go on adventures and face dilemmas. During an adventure, a Doctor may recruit new companions. Companions grant a Doctor more dice for their pool and allow a Doctor to exchange and modify their dice. While each Doctor is trying to reach Gallifrey before the other, no doctor wants to see the Daleks succeed when a Doctor fails to resolve a dilemma, so a bit of cheerful cooperation and assistance is encouraged. Following the release of the core game, GF9 will release a series of expansions, adding more doctors to the game starting with fan-favorites Fifth and Tenth Doctors.
Firefly Adventures: Brigands & Browncoats is due to be released in Q1 2018. It is the first in a series of adventures games from GF9. In Firefly Adventures, players take on the roles of the crew of Serenity, working together to make sure the Job gets done. The Crew will face off against various cowboys and thugs, who stand in their way. A game can be played as a standalone adventure or linked together in a series of heists and misadventures to tell a grand tale of misbehaving in the Verse. Future expansions will add more crew and passengers, as well as additional adventure locations and foes.
Fun Fact: Firefly Adventures: Brigands & Browncoats borrows some iconography as well as the popular paper money from GF9's Firefly: The Game. While two separate games, GF9 is looking forward to mods from the fan community on BGG combining the two games where select jobs from the original game are played out in adventures.
Bob's is a non-landed game shop, i.e., he does not have a storefront nor does he sell online. He carries small publisher games, Kickerstarter projects, out-of-print games, and other games you wouldn't normally find at a game store. Bob Allen, owner, works with brick-and-mortar game stores to throw "gamerware parties" where the store owner/manager chooses a number of games to have demoed at their store over a particular weekend. Game sales are on live consignment.
Fun Fact: Bob Allen has been featured in three games as characters in card art... with more to come.
Fog of Love was just released as a Walmart online exclusive. This two-player game is a romantic comedy in a board game. It is a semi-cooperative game, which may be won by zero to two players. Players play through a set number of chapters, laying down scene cards from their hands, resolving each in turn. Once a specified number has been reached, the next chapter is played. Some cards have 2 to 4 choices; players select a poker chip with the letter corresponding to the choice they want. This usually means players put a token of their player color in the personality dimensions' area, which is made up of six double-sided arrows. Players have trait goal cards that can be met by these tokens. At the end of the game, each trait goal card is worth 5 points if they have been met or -3 if not. There are other elements to the game as well.
Fun Fact from the designer: The designer Jacob Jaskov made Fog of Love for his wife Lotte because he wanted to play more board games with her. Lotte became so involved in evaluating and guiding the development process that she burned out on playing the game with Jacob. Now she wants to play it only with her girlfriends as they don't ask her to evaluate every detail. It's still a game she loves.
Information from Steph Hodge, Marketing Coordinator.
Pie Town was pre-released at BGG.CON and Pax Unplugged, with a retail release in December 2017. This is a dice worker placement game to collect ingredients and make pies for victory points. There is an element of deduction as you try to figure out your opponents secret ingredients. If you do this quickly enough, then there still might be time to start making their secret pies to gain top points. You will spend turns collecting, baking, and training the interns. You have to send your pies to be judged for points, too.
Fun Fact: Pie Town was originally based on Julian's Pies from southern California. Renegade Games spent a whole week testing games and eating Julian's Pies before coming across a Julian's Pies-themed game at an Unpub that next weekend. It was a blast and delicious from the start!
Kepler-3042 was pre-released at BGG.CON and Pax Unplugged, with a retail release in December 2017. This is a space exploration game in which you are moving around the board, landing on planets which you can then colonize. It's a tight game of managing resources and actions to help boost your technology tracks to gain the victory points needed to win. There is no combat in the game, but a fast race to get to the planets you need to help complete your final goals.
Fun Fact: All the characters are real people who helped contribute to the first version of the game. Kwanchai Moriya took the original contributor images and re-imaged them to fit with the new art he created while keeping them true to the original photos. Expertly done!
Information provide by Peter Vaughan, Director of Development at Breaking Games.
Asking for Trobils was re-released October 2017. This edition has a lower price point, new artwork, and a few tweaks.
Rise of Tribes is due to come out Q2 2018. This is an area control, civilization game with a stone age theme. The game comes with custom dice. The action board has four action choices with a row of three die spaces at the top. The spots will always be filled with three dice. On a player's turn, they get two dice to roll, one die for each of their actions. A player may select an action on the board (there are other choices as well) by sliding one of their action dice in on the left, popping one out on the right that gets placed on another space in that action's area to show that the action was done. The design on the dice left in the row dictates the specifics of the action. For example, if a player wants to move on the hexagonal map (where they gather resources, grow their tribe, etc.), they use the move action: two moons showing on the dice allows the player only 2 movement (normal movement is 4), two suns means 6 movement. Players may get cards (Lead action) to help them gain developments (worth one point plus give some advantage) or achievements (2 to 4 points). The winner is the player to get to 15 points first. The game comes with a beginner and an advanced mode (adds asymmetrical powers).
Fun Fact: Peter Vaughan on Rise of Tribes dice: "Evolution of dice! We started with fire. Well, actually, we started with pips, then numbers, and when we got to cave paintings, we were looking for the best symbol to represent a low/neutral/high result. We ended up with the classic moon and sun, and left the middle blank as a contrast to the icons. Alternate fun fact, also about the dice. We wanted to get the etching right away in the prototypes, so we went to a local laser cutter in California who made all of our custom dice. He was so passionate about the dice he eventually offered symbol feedback and became a big backer of the game. (Bob Schremp at Prawn Designs, LLC)."
Information by Jessica Davis, Director of Marketing & Sales at Artana.
Tesla vs. Edison: Duel had a soft release at Gen Con 2017 but saw its first full convention release at BGG.CON 2017 after fulfilling to Kickstarter backers. By drafting three assistant cards over three rounds, players use their actions to impact area control, region availability, and a PR track while using an optional portfolio action each turn to further swing area influence. Variable player win conditions require players to be aware of what each player is working towards for an instant win at the end of each round. If both or neither player reaches their instant win conditions at the end of a round, then play continues to the end of the third round. Ties are broken by the PR track because popularity matters in the War of the Currents, the historical reference for Tesla VS Edison: Duel. Game play is for two players, one AC vs one DC player, and lasts 20 to 30 minutes.
Speakeasy Blues from the designers of Sagrada, Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu, was available for prototype play at the Artana booth while the successful Kickstarter campaign was live during BGG.CON 2017 this year. Speakeasy Blues is a dice-drafting, action selection, tableau builder set in the era of prohibition in which players attempt to run the most prestigious speakeasy in 1920s New York City. Set collection of ostentatious yachts or cars and famous guests add prestige to your personal speakeasy based on actual people and watering holes of the era, but you need illegal hooch to buy your goods and keep your guests happy. Nefarious criminals of the time offer such beneficial actions but will cost you prestige if seen in your club. Balancing these elements is key to winning the game.
Fun Fact: Jess, Marketing and Sales Director for Artana, enjoyed BGG.CON 2017 so much that she plans to keep her viking-themed bracelet on until BGG.CON 2018. So far, it's holding up well...
Information provided by Brooke Schwartzman, Public Relations & Social Media Manager.
Stuff Happens released in Q4 2017. This is a family game, which includes 200 PG-13 friendly event cards. Players will read some really messed up stuff on the cards, then rank them based on how bad they really are. Is a third-degree sunburn better or worse than seeing your father naked? Is it worse than dropping your phone in the toilet? Once you have ranked a card, if our Misery Index agrees with you, you get to keep it. Correctly rank ten cards and you win. Available exclusively at Walmart.
Fun Fact: Stuff Happens was created by former SNL writer Andy Breckman. He actually consulted a team of experts to rank the Misery Index on each card.
Shark Bite released Q3 2017. Get ready to have a REEL-Y good time with Shark Bite! (Author's note: Reel-y sorry, that was not my pun.) Players take turns rolling the die and fishing for sea creatures. With 12 sea creatures, the die indicates how many fish you need to catch. Throughout the game, the anticipation grows as players wait for the shark to jump. The object of the game is to be player who catches the most fish.
Fun Fact: Sharks can detect the electrical impulse emitted by a standard AA battery one mile away.
Rising Sun is due to be released in Q1 2018. This is the spiritual successor to Blood Rage. Eric M. Lang, the designer of both games, began designing Rising Sun even before Blood Rage was finished, so although the games are quite different, they have a similar feel. As he describes it, "two different albums from the same band". This is a political war game, with heavy negotiation, role selection, and a bluff oriented combat system. One thing it shares with Blood Rage is you can rent monsters for the course of the game. Eric's aim was to make the game easy to learn; you should be able to learn it in about ten minutes.
Bloodborne: The Card Game – The Hunter's Nightmare is due to be released in Q1 2018. This expansion to Bloodborne: The Card Game doubles the number of items, bosses, and monsters from the core game and adds two new key mechanisms: death tokens, which further penalized players for dying, and runes, which give players a new starting power. A player's runes give them a direction over the course of the game.
Fun Fact from Eric Lang, Game Designer: "If you die in Canada, you die in real life." (Note: Eric is from Canada, so he knows.) Eric's original intended career path as a teenager was to play guitar in a heavy metal band. He took part in several battle of the bands, one in which he came dead last. Not to be discouraged, he continues to play guitar and drums to this day.
Riverboat was released at SPIEL '17. This game includes many popular game mechanisms, such as set collection, area majority, role selection, and worker placement, blended together for tense play that rewards efficiency. Using coins wisely is a big part of the game.
We will be releasing an update of Al Nofi's Imperium Romanum with full-color graphics and enlarged counters and maps. We will also be releasing D-Day at Iwo Jima, the fourth volume in the D-Day series. A new naval folio series (Dreadnaughts and
Battleships) as well as four new mini-games (Vikings, Rogers’ Rangers, Conquest of Hawaii, and Red Eagles) will be releasing at BGG.Spring in May 2018.
We will be launching a new magazine in February, Strategy & Tactics Quarterly. This magazine has a new format not seen before in military history magazines: a single in-depth subject by one author, 116 pages with about 20-22 maps and diagrams, plus a 26" x 19" map poster. This magazine is a stepping stone for military history magazine readers who are interested in going beyond stories to examine and understand the how and why of military history. We evaluate the strategies, forces and leaders. We analyze the actual operations and maneuvers as well as alternative plans and possibilities. A "Lessons Learned" section summarizes how the topic and outcome influenced later events and why certain principles and techniques are still important today. We also include an annotated bibliography for further reading as well as an overview of other media and games on the topic. The new magazine will be available by subscription as well as at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores, newsstands, and retailers in the U.S. and around the world.
Topics will range across all eras, look at individual commanders as well as famous units, weapons and tools of war, battles and campaigns, etc. The topics for the first four issues are:
Issue Release Date Topic
1 Spring 2018 Julius Caesar 2 Summer 2018 America in WWI 3 Fall 2018 Battle of Stalingrad 4 Winter 2019 World War III What-ifs
Fun Fact: In 2018, Strategy & Tactics Press will publish 22 issues of four magazines. Totaling all the articles, columns, and map posters, that is over 2,000 pages including nearly 500,000 words and over 360 maps.
There's so much more that goes on at BGG.CON! Attend the annual Battling Tops, play some Rock Band, go head to head in Peter Sarrett's team Game Showdown, gather with other newbies at the Orphans and First-Timers Meet-Up (hosted by Team Geek), or participate in the annual Game Show (because it is so popular, there were two time slots; teams of four compete in a massively-multiplayer game show). And finally there's the...
Closing Ceremonies and Prize Giveaway!
Ah, the closing ceremonies... so sad it's almost over. This is a very popular event as you can see by how packed the room gets. (Maybe, possibly, having to be there in person to win games might have something to do with it.)
Included in the registration packet, every attendee received a ticket for the drawing on Saturday night. This year there were about 70 prize packages — many stacks of games were given away!
Check out the racks of stacks (R side). Geek minions in silver jerseys are lined up to help hand out the games as numbers are claimed. Don't come to us, we'll come to you!
Lainie Theys, keeping the Geek minions in line
Jeff Anderson works really hard to get all this coordinated. Good thing he has lots of help from Team Geek! Does anyone know who that Scott guy is standing next to him? I didn't catch his last name.
Eric M. Lang's job is to "digitally" show what numbers are being called; that's why you see him with his hands in the air. He's gotten pretty good at it over the years.
It might be a bit confusing when they are in the same room, what with the glasses, beards, and same names. Here's a side-by-side photo to keep them straight: W. Eric Martin, BGG News; Eric M. Lang, Game Designer. Wow, it's a good thing they wore different shirts.
Matthew Monin (L) always has a smile. W. Eric Martin (R) waiting for the news to happen.
One of the prizes was this collection of game posters — perfect for decorating the game room walls. (Or maybe the living room??)
Not so fun fact: There was no custom Crokinole board this year. The person who painted them in the past has retired. Sadly, there are no plans for future Crokinole boards either. Well, there goes my chance to win a beautifully painted board. I'm sure it would have happened this year. Sigh.
How long do you think they can keep holding those games up like that? I say we find out! Maybe let the winner take home one of the stacks?
Author's Note: Sorry about the delay; I brought home some "con crud" that knocked me out for about two weeks after the con. Of course by then I was also way behind in my other jobs. Some people probably don't realize that my BGG.CON coverage takes a ton of work (a labor of love! but with some hate thrown in when I'm tired). Just editing and loading the images that go into the two parts takes me about five full days!
I'm usually behind the camera! Jeff Ridpath (L) and me (R). Debbie Ohi took the photo; Jeff is her husband
BGG.CON was held November 15-19, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport in Texas. This will be the location for 2018 as well, with the same number of attendees expected, but in 2019, BGG.CON will be moving to the Hyatt Regency Dallas where everything will be about 50% bigger, including the exhibit hall (which will be in one room rather than two), ballroom space, and number of hotel rooms. The hotel will handle about 5,000 attendees but BGG.CON will not max out in the first year due to extra growth issues/logistics. The new location will be closer to Love Field airport — good news for those who fly Southwest (plus a few other airlines). We've actually been flying into Love Field the last couple years since we discovered it was a lot less expensive for a direct flight, including Lyft to and from the hotel. Plus, the airport is smaller — easier and faster to get in and out.
Fun Fact: This year's theme was vikings. Some people really got into it.
Nick Medinger, COO of Funagain Games
There were about 3,000 attendees in 2017 (same as the previous year). The first attendees in line for registration had about a 45-minute wait; at approximately 10:15 a.m. the wait was down to around 25 minutes. The only change this year was the addition of a separate line for premium badge holders.
For the first time BGG.CON offered premium badges. 150 premium badges were sold via a Dutch auction style system that was announced in January and held February 7, 2017. Badges started at $1,000. Each subsequent evening, the price was dropped by $50 for remaining badges. This continued until all 150 badges were sold. The floor price of $300 would have been hit on February 21, but all badges were sold by February 20, bottoming out at $350. Regular badges went on sale March 1. This was a way to get an early badge plus some other cool stuff. Once inside the event, there was no difference between premium badges and regular ones. Premium badges came with the following benefits:
• One badge to BGG.CON • Option to purchase a “Companion Badge” • Guaranteed room reservation at the convention hotel (you still paid for the room) • Premium registration check-in • One library game reserved and pre-checked-out in your name • One complimentary convention T-shirt • Priority when purchasing Premium Badges in future years
Premium badge holders also received a complementary copy of an upcoming summer release from Czech Games Edition. The price breakdown was as follows.
5 sold at $1,000 2 sold at $950 0 sold from $900 to $700 1 sold at $650 1 sold at $600 17 sold at $550 (leaving 124) 12 sold at $500 (leaving 112) 10 sold at $450 (leaving 102) 28 sold at $400 (leaving 74) 74 sold at $350 Sold out*
There were 129 companion badges purchased at $150.
*I added up the numbers and they were off by 1, i.e., 75 at $350… not sure where it was from so I just deducted one off the last.
One of the nice things about the board gaming industry is that many of the publishers and designers are friends. Sean Brown (L), Mr. B Games, with Coleman Charlton (M) and Morgan Dontanville (R), Catan Studio, playing a Catan Studio game in Mr. B Games' booth. See the exhibitor section for info on this new "Game of Thrones."
Every attendee received three door prizes, one in each category:
Fun Fact: BGG.CON had some unexpected but significant media coverage this year. Jeff Anderson was up at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to do a live interview with the local NBC station. Be sure to watch it! Jeff also did a live radio interview that afternoon with their local AM News Radio station KRLD, which you can listen to below:
A special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing much of the information above, as well as details about tournament results, puzzle hunt, etc. I'd also like to give a big shout out to Team Geek 2017. These are the people who make the event run so smoothly. And don't they look sexy in those jerseys? Especially the two in front, woo hoo! (Hahaha)
Team Geek 2017
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 18, 2017).
This year, many of the tables on the Hot Games side of the room had Game Toppers. From their website: "Turn your own kitchen or dining room table into a premium, portable game solution with all the features of a high end gaming table at a fraction of the cost."
We went to the Babe's in Arlington this time. It was much less busy than the other location I've been to (original? they all look quite a lot alike and I never drive). The fried chicken tenders are my favorite — very light and crispy, although the regular fried chicken is pretty awesome, too. It is a family style restaurant. The fixins are also very tasty. They include buttermilk biscuits (especially good with honey), a simple but delicious salad of iceberg lettuce and dressing, green beans (strange wide flat type but yummy — I think they are Italian green beans), sweet corn, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy. I'm sure there are hardly any calories in the meal. Besides you'll wear them off with all the board gaming anyway. After dinner I was too stuffed to eat dessert, but I highly recommend the banana pudding, which I had last year and really enjoyed.
Dan DiLorenzo (L), R&R Games, and Rick Schrand (R), Vile Genius Games/Flying Lemur Games. You must admit, these two look like trouble...
Fun Fact: Dan and Frank DiLorenzo are not exactly shy or quiet, and usually take any opportunity to embarrass either each other or anyone within range. On this trip to Babe's they had a brand new victim: Alex Flagg, Crafty Games, and I must say it was pretty entertaining — for the rest of us anyway. I innocently invited him and Kevin Wilson, game designer, to join us for dinner. Mind you, this is Alex's first acquaintance with the DiLorenzo brothers. Near the end of the meal the waitress had Alex stand up, don a chicken hat and beak, and flap his "wings". Alex: "Dan just very sneakily told them [the wait staff] it was my birthday. It was not, and he wouldn't have known since we had known each other for maybe a half hour. The other detail I recall is that he told the waitress I was 34, and she thought I was 28 (I'm 40). Either way I was very flattered and proud to wear the manky chicken hat and paper-cone beak."
Alex Flagg, Crafty Games, who is one really good sport!
I discovered Shake Shack during a recent trip to Washington DC and fell in love. They have delicious burgers, fries, and concretes (frozen custard!). Each location has a few exclusive specialty items available only at that particular location, usually burgers, shakes, and concretes. I was so delighted when I found out that they have one in Dallas. I split two different burgers with Frank DiLorenzo: the Link burger (a specialty cheeseburger topped with griddled Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheese sausage link, pickles, and ShackSauce) and my current favorite: the SmokeShack burger (cheeseburger with all-natural smoked Niman Ranch bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce). The Link burger was not bad, but the SmokeShack was excellent.
We also split some crinkle cut bacon cheese fries (yum!). For dessert I had their exclusive concrete made as a sundae (i.e., I asked for the toppings on the side, not mixed in). It had vanilla frozen custard, salted caramel, toffee, and pecans. I also had a bite of another of their exclusive concretes, made with chocolate frozen custard, toffee, chocolate sprinkles, and one or two other chocolate items — very decadent. I tried to link the location specific menu but couldn't find it. For some reason they are constantly changing their website. (It's not the easiest to navigate either.)
After our Shake Shack stop, we went to Daiso, a Japanese "dollar store" where most things are $1.50, although some items are $2 to $5. Most of the stores are on the west coast, in California and Washington. I was so excited to discover a couple of locations in the Dallas area. They have awesome but cheap office/art supplies like super cute sticky notes, pens with a light on the tip, paint brushes (5 for $1.50! not the best quality but great for stuff like masking fluid, which tends to ruin brushes), calligraphy inks/brushes, binder pouches, watercolor paints, paint pens, and much more.
Art/Office Supplies from Daiso
For the rest of my meals, I went to the hotel restaurant, Jacob's Spring Grille, or Jett's Coffee Bar, both of which are off the lobby. Jacob's Spring Grille offers a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, plus a set menu for BGG.CON. The food is discounted for the convention ($14.95 – up from last year's $12.95). It was hit or miss — some items were pretty good, others not so much. Unfortunately, the last couple years they have scaled back the buffet (not sure if this is a chain-wide thing or not). They used to be better, e.g., more offerings, better service, and you could easily do special orders, such as any style egg you wanted for breakfast.
Attendees could try out prototypes at Proto Alley, sponsored by Unpub who ran this event at BGG.CON for their fourth year. The event was held over three days (Thursday – Saturday) from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. There were special guests, special games, and a few surprises (does anyone knows what the surprises were? I didn’t go to this event).
Hosts Erik Dewey and Bill Corey, along with Stephen Buonocore and Paul Grogan, provided answers to questions that both listeners and podcasters had about broadcasting in the board gaming hobby. This year they had a panel guiding things, but strongly encouraged questions or comments from the audience. After the panel, Donald Dennis (On Board Games podcast) lead a discussion with publishers about how to make the most of their podcast appearance, how to best record tracks, and what makes an interesting guest.
The Spiel-a-thon is a fund raiser for The Spiel Foundation, a non-profit organization that donates bundles of quality board and card games to children's hospitals and senior centers. The money raised at the event helps bring fun to kids and seniors across the country.
Spiel-a-thon — lots of gaming going on!
This year's Spiel-a-thon was different from previous years. It was a three-hour event where ten or so game stations (with teachers) were set up in the one of the ballrooms. Each game was fun and quick to learn. Here is a list of this year's games:
To participate in the Spiel-a-thon, players received a punch card from the cashier table. No registration or sign up was needed. For each game played, players received a stamp on their punch card. When finished, they paid $3 per stamp on their card. Players could play for as long as they wanted during the event; the longer they played, the more chances they had to win free games in the regular raffles during the event.
If a player scored enough stamps, they could compete in the final round for a chance to win a stack of games. The ultimate winner of this year's Spiel-a-thon at BGG Con was Noel Strickling.
The big winner, Noel Strickling, is one happy guy!
The Virtual Flea Market allows people to pre-sell games before the convention so that they know which games to bring, i.e., they don't have to speculate on which games will be sold. This is especially convenient for people flying to the convention. Participants could sell their games via Fixed Price, Auction, Dutch Auction, etc. — they just needed to list them on BGG according to the instructions. Games could be delivered at the convention one evening, during an hour-and-a-half time slot, in one of the ballrooms. There was a map posted with tables organized by the sellers' BGG user names. Sterling Babcock helped organize the room, which included letters on the tables so usernames could be more easily found. Alternatively, games could be picked up by arrangement between seller and buyer.
For those picking up games at the ballroom, one recommendation for buyers was to bring one envelope for each seller they were buying from. Each envelope would be marked on the outside with the seller's user name plus the items being purchased, with the inside containing exact change.
There was a request list available online before the convention, just to encourage sellers. There was also an option to ship games to the hotel (with extra costs involved, of course). Sales went through BGG Marketplace. Anyone participating in the Math Trade (see information below) were asked to list those games after its completion so as to not list a game in the VFM that would be traded away. This is only good etiquette.
Fun Fact: There were 226 participants with 3,079 games listed this year in the Virtual Flea Market. According to Sterling Babcock about 2270 games were sold. (It's difficult to get an exact count for various reasons.)
This was the 10th year of the BGG.CON math trade (or possibly the 11th — there seems to be some confusion here). There is a bit of a process to a math trade, which might be daunting to new people, but there are a lot of resources available, as well as people to help answer questions. In addition to the actual list of offers (i.e., games to be traded, and a virtual store front!), there was a request list for games people were interested in (basically a wish list!). If you would like to participate next year, look for the math trade announcement on BGG near the beginning of October. The deadline for game offers is usually the end of October. Want lists are then due the first week of November, with the results following on its heels. Trades are completed one evening at BGG.CON, in a specific ballroom.
Math trades pose no risk since traders get to decide their preferred games in the trade – at worst they will keep the game they started with. This year there were 61 users with at least one trade, 1,079 games listed for trade, and 225 games traded (leaving 854 untraded). The results included an alphabetized list of untraded games. There were a lot of duplicates — which might explain why a number didn't trade. For example, there were five copies of the Pathfinder game that was one of BGG.CON 2016's door prizes; it's not surprising that none were traded. You can check out the full list of results, you just have to enter your BGG username to log in (they will send you a link). Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Two Rooms and a Boom is a social deduction game/hidden role party game. It was held most nights of the convention around 10:00 p.m. in the foyer area around the Lower Level elevators. The publisher, Tuesday Knight Games, joined the fun by bringing along expansions plus other games for people to try.
Tichu is defined as the most awesome partnership climbing card game in existence (although there's a possibility I’m prejudiced). This year's tournament had 24 teams (48 participants). The winner was Team Crumblezzz (Melissa Johnson & Shari Stidam). They each won a badge and a guaranteed hotel room reservation for BGG.CON 2018. The runners-up were The Blanks ([firstname.lastname@example.org]Aaron Fuegi[/user] & Richard Irving) who each won a badge for BGG.CON 2018. The event was hosted by Jeff Anderson.
This year's winner was Jonner Purinton, who had his choice between two badges and a guaranteed hotel room reservation for BGG.CON 2018 or a custom set of BGG poker chips. He took the poker chips. The runner up, Pseudo Pserious, got the two badges and hotel room reservation.
Mayday Games ran a Crokinole tournament, but I haven't received their information about it yet, so hopefully in part 2!
Queen Games hosted a tournament for one of their new games, Pioneers, at their booth. The winner received a copy of the game.
In Pioneers, players attempt to populate cities shown on the game board with their pioneers. Each pioneer has a specific profession, and can be settled only in a city where their work is needed. After all pioneers riding in a coach have been deployed on the game board, the player controlling the coach earns money and victory points. Players also construct roads between cities, expanding their own network and earning money from other players who use the roads. At the end of the game, each player is rewarded with additional victory points based on the number of their pioneers in their largest network of connected roads. Pioneers usually plays in around 45 minutes.
Fun Fact: Debbie Ohi, a superstar children's book illustrator and author, loves to take photos. She took many of the Spiel-a-thon images (plus a few others) in this article. She's also an all-around great person.
There are certain areas or rooms in the hotel/convention area that were dedicated for specific games. I really like that spaces are set aside for things like these: quiet games, wargamers HQ, scheduled games, social games (Werewolf, The Resistance, Two Rooms and a Boom, etc.), Artemis (see below for more information), and a card-playing lounge.
Artemis returned once again. Players could sign up for half-hour sessions as captain/engineer/pilot of a starship hurtling through space where they may encounter alien races or battle other starships. For more information, including a training video and 2012 video of an experienced crew playing, see this Artemis thread.
Once again AssassinCon ran in the background at BGG.CON. This is a meta-game in which BGG.CON attendee participants are given a special ribbon to attach to their badges. Each player has a target (card). Players must find their target and have them sign their card (the target is eliminated); the player then gains their target's card as their next target. Players must report in to the Mayday Games booth periodically. The player who gained the most targets by Saturday afternoon became the Master Assassin. Advance sign-up is required to participate; this is usually done a few days before BGG.CON begins. From the information page: "Welcome to AssassinCon at BGG.CON, the time each year when all the cloaks and daggers gather to attend seminars on practical invisibility and browse the latest in ninja hoods. But the real action is in the games, sneaking silently though the shadowed corridors. Pursue as you are pursued! Eliminate your opponents! In this game, skill and strategy mean the difference between success and a truly heinous headache. Good luck! And may the best assassin win!" Sponsored by Mayday Games.
Prizes: Master Assassin $100.00 gift card to Funagain Games 2nd Place $75.00 gift card to Funagain Games 3rd Place $50.00 gift card to Funagain Games Ties broken by date and time of earliest target trophy recorded at Mayday Games
The Palace of Mad King Ludwig was released at SPIEL '17 and will be available in stores January 2018. This is a tile-laying game in which each player builds rooms one at a time in a single gigantic palace. As rooms are completed, a moat slowly forms around the outside. When the ends of the moat connect, the palace is finished. Arrange and complete different room types, while cleverly collecting swans. The player who contributes the most to the palace wins the game. Author's note: Ted Alspach, Bézier Games Publisher, wouldn't say why you want to collect swans. When asked to elaborate he said, "They're swans, everyone wants em. Duh. Add to that the fact that there are Secret Swans in the game, and if we told everyone about them they wouldn't be secret anymore, now would they?" He wasn't being very cooperative, and I was afraid to ask anything more out of fear of being crushed under his giant foot.
Ted Alspach, Bézier Games, is BIG
Fun fact: Ted Alspach, Bézier Games: "This was originally supposed to be 'Castles of Mad King Ludwig: The Card Game' but as development took place, it clearly did not want to be a card game, and it evolved into the tile-laying game it is today."
Werebeasts is due to be released February 2018. In this game, players are bidding to collect particular werebeasts — specific werebeasts that are more valuable to them. Sneaky players may also obtain werebeasts they don't really want in hopes of throwing off their opponents so they don't get caught.
Fun fact: Ted: "Purina was not interested in providing any resources to help us promote the game [Werebeasts], even though each box comes with 80 cans of Werechow (which, as the can says, now has 90% more villager!)."
The newest edition of Antiquity was released at SPIEL '17. This is the third printing, with an updated design of components and a new box size. For example, the pollutions chits have been replaced by clear gray disks so you can see the resource below them.
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time released in November 2017. This is a cooperative game. Players are members of the adventurer's guild working against a game AI. The goal is to rescue four artifacts before the Professor steals four artifacts. On a player's turn, they can choose to unlock doors, disarm traps, or rescue treasures. To rescue treasures, certain traps need to be disarmed. Variable set-up makes each game different. The game difficulty is adjustable, e.g., for younger or newer players.
Fun Fact: Ryan Skinner, Marketing Manager for Passport Game Studio, won the state championships for Star Wars Destiny DDS for Idaho. His co-workers were not impressed since there probably weren't that many players in Idaho.
Space Freaks was recently released. This is a tactical combat game with a big twist. Before you start the game, you create your freak using various heads, arms, and legs (cards on a player board), each of which gives you different powers during the game. This provides much replayability. And it comes is a pink box (you can see boxes in the photos further below)!
Terraforming Mars: Venus Next will be released December 2017. This is the second expansion to Terraforming Mars; you need the base game to play it. It adds a side board for Venus, a new global parameter (the percentage of Venus that has been terraformed), a new milestone, a new award, and about 50 new project cards specific to Venus, including new corporations.
Fun Fact: Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games, was both at BGG.CON 2017 and PAX-Unplugged 2017. How can he be in two places at once you might ask? See photos.
Stephen Buonocore at BGG.CON 2017
Stephen Buonocore at PAX-Unplugged 2017
Everybody loves Stephen (even the photo bomber)... possibly a little too much?
Harvest was released at SPIEL '17. It is a compact worker placement, farming
game. The goal is to have the biggest harvest at the end of the game. Along the way you can build buildings, plant seeds, tend crops, etc. utilizing two worker (actions) per round over five rounds. You also draft initiative cards that determine your turn order for the next round, with better bonuses for going later in the turn order. Worker spots change every round (cards). Variable player powers really differentiate how each player will play.
Pioneer Days was also released at SPIEL '17. It is a dice-drafting game reminiscent
of the old computer game Oregon Trail. There is one die more than the number of players so the die that is left after drafting determines which disaster track marker will advance. Once a disaster track marker has reached the end of a track, all players must deal with its effects. Players collect resources such as equipment, townsfolk, cattle, etc. to gain points and abilities. At the end of four rounds, the player with the most points wins.
Fun Fact: Though Pioneer Days perfectly evokes the old Oregon Trail computer game, which is a surprise to the designers, who are from Great Britain.
And because my life is chaos, I contacted Lock 'n Load Publishing redundantly. So you get two for the price of one! But I get the feeling that working for LnL is crazier than my life... (see "Fun Facts").
Entry one, interview at BGG.CON with Blackwell Hird, Graphic Designer and Associate Producer:
Lock 'n Load Tactical: Solo was released in September 2017. This is a standalone title that works with every standalone boxed Lock 'n Load Tactical game currently released. It lets you play the game solo.
Space Infantry: Resurgence is due to be released Q2 2018. This is the third printing. It was formerly a solo game but now has options for a player vs. player and cooperative play. The chit draw random number generator has been replaced by dice.
Fun Fact: Blackwell Hird: "Falling Stars is a role-playing game. The book was written by Paul Lell. David Heath, CEO of Lock ‘n Load Publishing, decided to turn the game into five more products, including a dungeon crawl-type game, maps, and a campaign book. The challenge was that he wanted it done and published in five days so that it would be released at Gen Con, the next convention. And his team was successful! Although they didn't get much sleep."
Entry two, contacted David Heath, CEO, because I hadn't realized I had already had information for LnL:
Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of North Africa released July 2017. It is a squad-based tactical game. Players use a chit-draw initiative system to take turns moving, shooting, and rallying their units on geomorphic maps in order to achieve set scenario objectives. What distinguishes this system from other tactical systems is the ability for your units to become heroes during the course of your game.
This is the first game in the Lock 'n Load Tactical series that takes players to the Africa Campaign. Players command either the combined forces of the Axis or Allied powers. This includes the German Afrikacorps, Viche French, Italians, British, American and Free French Forces. It's the largest Lock 'n Load Tactical we've published to date, with 18 geomorphic (tiling) maps, over 300 counters, and 6 player aids.
Falling Stars Tactical Role Playing System released at Gen Con 2017. It is a role-playing game for 3-6 players that uses an unique, Opposed D10 system to drive all its mechanisms. Players and DM roll against one another rather than trying to beat a set number, meaning players always have a chance to progress. The game also features a solid tactical system for combat, using action points to perform actions, and reactions. You manage that pool to defend as well as attack on both yours AND your opponent's turn.
The Falling Stars RPG is the first RPG published by Lock 'n Load Publishing. Because of the Gen Con deadline, we literally took four straight, no-sleep days, breaking this product into four separate release items, including a boxed Beginner's Game with counters and maps, a Campaign Module, Map pack, and fully fledged Core Rulebook.
Fun Fact: David Heath: "I wanted you to know we did something not normally done. We went and printed and released 17 games at the same time on Oct 1, 2017. Ten of the games were from one series titled Lock 'n Load Tactical, three were from the Nations At War series, and the rest were all standalone games."
Aviation Tycoon, designed by my bud Ted Cheatham, is due to be released Q1 2018. This is a light economic game, comparable to Ticket to Ride. Players are investors in the aviation market. The game has a pick-up-and-deliver component to it. Cubes represent passengers and their colors correspond to the city they want to go to. For the first half of the game, players may deliver passengers one route distance (one segment). In the second half of the game, passengers can go two. Players start with shares. There are also shares on display, and a player may take one on their turn, then play one. When an airline route is used, that airline gets paid. When dividends are paid, those with shares get paid (they keep getting paid until the airline has no money left). There are also events and special player actions (each player gets dealt a power, which they use once then pass to their neighbor — once that set has made the rounds, a new set is dealt). The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.
Mr. B, a.k.a. Sean Brown, (L) showing Morgan Dontanville (R) Aviation Tycoon
Helionox: Deluxe Edition is due to be released Q1 2018. It plays from 1 to 4 players (the original Helionox game is for two players, you had to buy another copy for 3-4 players). The deluxe version includes the first expansion (which adds pick-up-and-deliver) plus two boxes of the original set. It comes with index cards to help you organize, as well as all wood bits. They added player mats and a double-sided game board (one side is better for solo, the other better for multi-player). They also clarified the rules.
Fun Fact: Sean Brown, Owner Mr. B Games: "One time, on a trip home from a convention in Utah, I ran into Flavor Flav at a TCBY stand in the airport. He was super nice, and on the same flight as me, along with the guys in Public Enemy. Nobody knew who any of them were, and they were all so gracious and kind. Flav insisted we do a selfie, which to this date is my Facebook profile pic!"
A Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch was released November 2017. This game has the basic workings of Catan but with the addition of elements and characters from A Game of Thrones. Players each have a character from A Game of Thrones to help them in some way. The Wall allows players to put knights upon it to help protect the kingdom from the Wildlings. Wildling raids will take out areas (similar to a robber sitting on a tile) but if too many invade, the game will end and the winner will be the player with the most knights upon the wall.
Fun Fact: It's probably a good thing Catan Studio dropped "The Settlers of" from their game names; A Game of Thrones: The Settlers of Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch is just a wee bit too long, unlike it's real name.
Catan: Legend of the Sea Robbers was released September 2017. It is an expansion to Catan: Seafarers. There are four scenarios that are intended to be played as a campaign (although any can be played in isolation). Each scenario has one or more goals that can be achieved by any player. Players may gain characters (cards) by meeting certain objectives. Those characters give minor powers. Characters stay with you through the campaign. The ultimate goal is to earn campaign points. Players earn campaign points by meeting objectives as well as through usual Catan victory points (which convert to campaign points via a chart).
Fun Fact: Morgan Dontanville, Chief Creative Officer, Catan Studio: "Catan Chocolate is the perfect gift for a family member because they will want to play it, and whoever builds their pieces gets to eat them. So no one has to know that you are just using this as an excuse to eat chocolate."
Rajas of the Ganges was released at SPIEL '17. It is a worker-placement game using with dice resources. The dice work as the key resources of the game: the values of the dice determine how much the workers may do at their particular locations. The objective of the game is to get the most points by balancing two tracks: wealth and fame. The game comes with pieces and rules for two advanced variants.
Fun Fact: R&R has sold over four millions copies worldwide of Time's Up!
Pulsar 2849 was just released. This is a dice-drafting game with space exploration and technology development. Players snake draft two dice, then take turns allocating all of their dice on their turns. Dice may be allocated to spaces to construct and activate transmitters (tiles), develop technologies that provide various effects (e.g., immediate, during game, end game scoring), move and explore, claim/purchase/activate gyrodynes, or develop personal technologies (each player has their own unique technology tree tile). There also are various ways to gain a bonus die (action). Careful planning is crucial.
Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Etherweave was just released. This is an expansion for Tash-Kalar that contains a new faction, Etherweave, that introduces a time travel element. The new element allows its controller to summon combatants then pay for them later.
Fun Fact: A squirrel is featured on the cover of That's a Question, and players are squirrels in the game. Squirrels are protected in the Czech Republic. There is even a squirrel sanctuary. People may donate money to it.
Wordsy was released August 2017. This is a word game that, in general, rewards longer words. There is a deck of letter cards, all consonants. Each letter card is designated as common, uncommon (with a one point bonus), and rare (two point bonus). A tableau of eight cards is laid in a 2 x 4 grid (i.e., four columns). Each column is associated with a point value card (at the top). The game is played over seven rounds. Players simultaneously look at the grid of letters and try to come up with the longest word that contains as many letters as possible. The first player to get their word writes it down on the personal score sheet and flips the timer. The other players must finish writing their words down when the timer runs out. After seven rounds, each player crosses out their two lowest scoring words, then the game is scored. The player with the most points wins.
The Networks: Executives is planned to be released mid-2017. It is an expansion to The Networks. The game includes executives, which add asymmetric powers for players. The executives replace the old player boards. It also includes a variable starting set-up for each player via card drafting.
Fun Fact: Gil Hova, owner at Formal Ferret Games, spent a lot of time recording and mixing music in college. One act that he recorded and mixed played covers of the avant-garde jazz/hardcore/speed metal band Naked City. The keyboardist of that cover band went on to be musical director of the plays In the Heights and Hamilton.
Echidna Shuffle is due to be released Q2 2018. This is a family game with really great pieces. The echidnas, bugs, and delivery stumps are all made from a soft, colorful PVC plastic. It is an easy-to-learn pick-up-and-deliver game on a cloverleaf track.
Fun Fact: Kris Gould, Owner of Wattsalpoag: "Wattsalpoag's first three games all had name changes at the last minute. Claim It! was originally "Claim Jumper", but we didn't want to compete with the restaurant. Nomads of Arabia was simply Nomads, but we added "of Arabia" to distinguish it from another game called Nomads. And Fruit Fair was going to be called "Fruit Fight", but my German friends all said it wouldn't sell in Germany with the word "Fight" in the title.”
Pack O Game 2 came out in August. It includes eight new games: SPY, ORC, RUM, DIG, GYM, BOO, BOX, SOW. This set includes a couple of team games. SPY can be played standing in line, e.g., while waiting to get through registration for BGG.CON.
Perplext is planning a new line of roll-and-write games under the brand name of Roland Wright, and the first two should be out by the end of 2018.
Fun Fact: SPY has technically been in development for fifteen years. It was originally planned as a full-sized card game with 28 cards. Chris Handy, President of Perplext, was able to adapt it to this pack of gum-sized format.
Empires was released at SPIEL '17. This is a negotiation game set in 18th century colonial Europe. It has a Euro side backbone with all negotiation. It's a cousin to Sidereal Confluence. Start by drafting a nation, each has a unique set-up and power. (Negotiations may begin here!) During the game, players are trying to gain the most supporters to win.
Who Should We Eat was also released at SPIEL '17. Players are survivors who have crashed on a remote island and resort to cannibalism way too quickly. It is a card game where each player is a character, who is trying to build a raft together with the other players/characters. Along the way, they need to eat, so the question is "Who should we eat?"
Fun Fact: Empires was brought to Zev Shlasinger, Director of Board Games, at BGG.CON in 2016. What drew his attention to the game was the player count and negotiation, along with the streamlining.
Tiny Epic Quest was released August 2017. It features ITEMeeples. The game uses limited movement selection to visit temples, dungeons, and spell obelisks, as well as to slay goblins. Once movement actions have been taken (during the day), the night phase begins where dice are rolled and the actions take place. For example, to move in the temples, you need to roll torches or maps; to fight goblins, you need to roll punch symbols.
Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea is due to be released in March 2018. This is a 4X big box game (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) that contains 80 highly detailed miniatures. It features 3D cardboard constructs. This is an asymmetrical game pitting orc against humans, elves against dwarves. Each player has a player board on which actions may be selected. Actions may be followed by other players, so the game has little down time.
Fun Fact: Nathan Hatfield, Chief Sales Officer at Gamelyn Games: "We have a Gamelyn suit of armor inside of our office."
Fast Food Fear was released September 2017. This is a cooperative real-time, turn-based card game in which players are communicating to trade cards, feed monsters, or flip the timer. It plays in 5-10 minutes.
Michael Strogoff was released October 2017. It is based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name and set in 18th century Russia. This is a racing game that hinges on risk management/resource management. The goal is to move down a track of 12 spaces, all representative of different parts of Russia (based on the book). On a player's turn, they may either advance or rest, i.e., get cards or energy. There is also an assassin track with an assassin meeple, which is rather like having another player. If the assassin gets to the end of its track, the game is almost finished; the further the assassin gets on its track, the more difficult it will be for a player to win, e.g., if it gets to the end, it is more likely the players will all lose.
Fun Fact: Matt Hyland, US Managing Partner: "Many in North America don't know us, but this is Devir's 30th anniversary in the comics and games industry! We started in Brazil in 1987 as distributors of indie comics in English and now have offices in nine countries, selling products in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and English."
The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game was released at BGG.CON 2017. This is a dice game version of The Castles of Burgundy board game. There are five dice, two D6, two six-sided colored dice, and one six-sided timer die. Each round, any player may roll the dice and all players use them to fill in their player sheets. There are four different pads, each with a unique map on them. The maps vary in groupings of hex areas, which are colored purple, silver, blue, orange, green, and yellow (representing monasteries, mines, rivers, cities, castles, and pastures respectively). The goal is to earn the most points by filling in the groupings. If you are first to fill in all of one color, you get the higher number of indicated points, according to the color. There is also a lower number of points for the second person to do the same. Players may get points by filling in groupings of pastures for double points. Bonus moves are available whenever you complete a grouping (only one bonus per turn) — you may earn points in this way for selling goods.
The Quest for El Dorado expansion is planned for Q3 2018. It must be used with the base game. It includes new boards and more market cards.
Fun Fact: Lunch at Ravensburger is very exciting. They line up on their long table and play head-to-head, with a game starting at one end and moving down the table. Winners are tracked; at the end of the week the winner of the week is announced to the office.
Meeple Circus was released in November 2017. This is a party game with a dexterity element. Players earn applause points by fulfilling card objectives over three rounds as well as using three levels of acrobats (blue, yellow, and red meeples). For example, the beginner meeple (blue) just needs to be on the ground to earn one point. Character and animal meeples, planks, barrels, and other wooden pieces are stacked and manipulated into positions. The winner is the player with the most applause points at the end of the game.
Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes was released at SPIEL '17. This is a tile-laying game. Players start with one tile, five goal cards (of which they choose three), and a number of structures of three different types. On a player's turn, they play a tile, then draw a tile from a display of three. Players create enclosed areas, then gain resources (tokens) which they use to meet goals to gain points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Fun Fact: Stefan Brunell, Director Communications & Marketing, Matagot: "We received a complaint about Okanagan, the person wrote he was tired of all the Asian or 'exotic' themes in board games; he proposed making more American-themed games. We still didn't answer back, still don't know if we should explain where Okanagan is or just send a map of the area."
Archmage is due to be released Q1 2018. Players are mages who are competing to become Archmage by collecting resources via area control on the main modular hex board. The map is initially unexplored. A player has five action points for their mage, which allows the player to move the mage, explore hexes, or attack another player's followers. As a player's mage explores the board, it may drop a follower meeple in an empty hex, which allows the player to collect resources. If the hex isn't empty, the mage will have to attack the follower in the space. Each player also has a "tower" board where apprentices battle and learn spells. Two apprentices in adjacent spaces battle be promoted to the next level, after which one is removed. There are three levels of apprentices: fundamental, advanced, and master.
Fun Fact: Tim Heerema, the designer of Archmage, is a family doctor who started designing games as a way to avoid burn out at work — creative head-clearing fun.
Farlight was released at SPIEL '17. This is a blind-bidding game in which players bid on resources, parts for their ship, missions, and scientific knowledge using five cards, 0 through 4, each turn. The goal is to win the most points through missions.
Fun Fact: The staff of Game Salute is really into Pokemon GO. In the last year they have traveled to three continents other than North America and hunted Pokemon: Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion was released July 2017. It is a cooperative card/dice game in which players are trying to clear the forest of an alien invasion before time runs out. The forest is made up of a grid of cards; the size scales for the number of players. Each player has a character card with a unique ability and a pool of dice that may grow through play. They use the dice to fight aliens or search for gear that will help them to fight the aliens. The game is set in the same universe as Nightmare Forest: Dead Run.
Robotech: Force of Arms has a planned release in June 2018. This is a two-player head-to-head card game, with RDF (Robotech Defense Forces) vs. Zentraedi. It is based on the 1980s anime Robotech Macross. The game is a combination of area control and bluffing.
Fun Fact: All of SolarFlare Games has Sofie, the dog from Madness Games & Comics, in every game or on the boxes somewhere.
Sophie (awww!) on Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion Card
Blue Cherry Faerie sells all sorts of fun gaming paraphernalia as well as useful gaming accessories. For example, they have themed clothing (ties with dice images!), dice containers, handmade dice bags that double as dice trays, and dice towers.
Windup War was released in August 2017. This is a simultaneous action programming game of toys in combat. Each player gets a small faction pack of toys. They select the units they want for the battle. Each player programs five actions, then simultaneously reveals and resolves them one card at a time. The winner is the last army standing or the first to score three points. Players can score points by programming a "Charge" card when no other player has.
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf (L) and Windup War (R)
Mars Open: Tabletop Golf is due to be released mid-2018. This is a dexterity game utilizing uniquely folded cards that fly like disks. Players flick through a course of punchboard obstacles and the box, with the goal of flicking the card into the hole in the fewest number of flicks.
Fun fact: Dennis Hoyle, Owner: "Bellwether Games was founded with seed money won through an e-commerce entrepreneurship business plan competition at Mississippi State University."
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 6 – France & Old West recently released. This latest installment in the Map Collection series, an expansion for Ticket to Ride, includes the France Map and the Old West map. France is really specific, as routes on the board are not colored, unlike all previous existing maps. Instead, players must choose colors themselves by placing punchboard tokens on the map.
Fun Fact: The France map was actually hard to put into production as it required a map bigger than usual; the country being almost a square, it was impossible to fit on the usual rectangle format of Ticket to Ride board.
878 Vikings: Invasion of England was released in November 2017. This game is based on the Birth of America Series, which includes the wargame of the year 1775 Rebellion. This is the first game in the Birth of Europe Series. The next game will be based on the Crusades.
Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon will be on Kickstarter at some point. This is the first game in the new division Apollo Games. It is also the first game in the Saints Row Series based on the video games. It is a 3D tactical game where your actions in the game have consequences. It may be played as a campaign or in head-to-head tournament play.
Fun Fact: Uwe Eickert, Academy Games Owner: "We handmade our first hundred games. Cutting and gluing the boxes, stamping out the counter sheets, stapling the rules, and cleaning out the glue vats afterwards!"
Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama was released at BGG.CON 2017. This is the U.S. version of the game Avenue. Each player has a dry erase board with a 6x7 grid. The grid has six shrines labeled A through F (each board is the same) as well as 0 to 4 flower and caterpillar icons in the rest of the spaces. It is roll-and-write game; one player draws one card at a time from a deck of 42 cards and announces it to all the players. Each player draws that shape in one of the grid boxes. 22 of the cards are yellow; after four yellow have been drawn, there is a scoring round. The goal is to connect as many icons on a path to a shrine as possible for scoring. The twist is that during the scoring rounds, you must get more points than you did in the previous scoring round.
Path of Light and Shadow is due to be released at the end of January 2018. This is a big box civilization, area control, and a sort of deck-building game. Players have one leader on the board who they move around trying to conquer provinces, thereby gaining troops who help increase their strength. Troops (cards) may be promoted or murdered as the leader sees fit. (This will affect their morality rating.) Players can research technologies in order to gain special abilities. Points are gained in different ways, e.g. through conquered areas, techs, and promoting troops. This is not a traditional deck-building game as players do not choose the troops they recruit.
Fun Fact: Nick Little, Director of Manufacturing and Product Development, looks a lot like Brian Posehn, comedian, actor, and writer of Deadpool. He has a photo of the the two of them together.
Big Trouble in Little China: The Game will be released soon. This is a very thematic, licensed cooperative game with iconic replicated scenes. It has a double-sided board. The first side is based on the beginning of the movie, including familiar locations. The second side is based on the latter half of the movie, when things get more difficult and the stakes get higher. Each player is a character from the movie with asymmetric abilities and their own unique deck of cards. There are character quests based on the movie (locations, etc.). Other players may help the primary character complete their quest but the primary character must initiate the quest. The object is to defeat Lo Pan and other iconic enemies.
Rambo: The Board Game will be on Kickstarter in January 2018. This is a story-driven, campaign-based tactical cooperative game. The game may be played as a campaign or as single scenarios. Players choose their characters, including Rambo, and weapon and tactics cards. The scenario is also selected or played as dictated by their campaign. Luck is mitigated in this game.
Fun Fact: Delving into the world of art for weapons, Adrienne Ezell, Marketing Manger, has spent well over twelve hours researching time period and location appropriate weaponry for just five characters — and the game will include at least eight characters plus enemies, so she still has a long way to go. She's also worried that she may now be on an NSA watch list due to her research.
Information provided by Michael Mihealsick, Project Manager at Quick Simple Fun:
Noxford was released October 2017. "In Noxford, each player leads a syndicate in a steamwork city, competing against one another for influence over the city's wealthy districts. The game begins with two neutral districts in the center of the play area, and each turn, you play one card to the city. You may play a card from your syndicate deck, which will increase your influence over the adjacent neutral districts. You may also play your syndicate cards atop other players' syndicate cards in the city, effectively 'overwriting' them for scoring purposes. Finally, you may also play new neutral districts to the city, thereby creating new scoring opportunities. The game ends after the first player runs out of syndicate cards in his/her deck. Then, each neutral district is awarded to the player with the greatest amount of influence surrounding it. Each district you control scores one point for each of its icons, plus an additional two points for each time your leader’s 'preferred' icon appears among your scored districts. The player with the most points wins."
Muse will be released in January 2018. This is a team game for teams of two or
more. There is also a cooperative variant for 2 or 3 players. One member of the team will be the muse; the rest will be artists. The opposing team chooses a masterpiece card (from six) and an inspiration card (from two) and gives them to the muse player. Masterpiece cards each contain art, a là Dixit. The inspiration cards each contain an instruction, such as "Name a nonfictional plant or vegetable" or "Name a nonfictional animal". The muse then comes up with a clue to help the artists identify the masterpiece card and tells everyone. The opponents take back the masterpiece card and shuffle it with the rest. The artists must guess which card was selected. If they guess correctly, they get the card (one point), if not the opponents do. Play then passes to the other team and the process is repeated. The game ends immediately when one team gets five points.
Fun Fact: Michael Mihealsick, Project Manger at Quick Simple Fun: "When we first came across Celestia, our CEO found it being demo'd on a window sill at SPIEL in 2015. We sat down to play it, and signed a contract on the spot!"
Montana was recently released at SPIEL '17. Big Kids Games is bringing Montana: Heritage Edition to the U.S. as a deluxe version due to be released by Q2 2018. This is a settlement-building, worker-placement, resource-management game set in old west era Montana. The deluxe edition will include screen printed wooden components, thicker cardboard, linen finishing, and more.
Sweet Mess will be in Kickstarter in February 2018. This is a baking competition game in which the main board is made up of a tile grid of 16 round tiles, representing bowls of different ingredients. The game starts with each bowl containing one ingredient matching the bowl's type (ingredients are wooden disks, each with an ingredient sticker and coordinating paint color), except the wild bowl which starts empty. There is a display of five recipe cards, each with a list of required ingredients and a number of stars (points). Some have a timer icon, event icon, and/or kitchen tool icon. Each player has a player mat "chef card" with a pastry bench at the bottom (five spaces), a master ingredient area, and two ability lists. They also have a stove card with two spaces.
On a turn the player has four choices, one of which may be done, plus two free actions that may be performed. For example, a player might choose to pick up all ingredients from one bowl. This creates a mess, i.e. the bowl type ingredient is spread to all orthogonally adjacent bowls. A bowl can accumulate up to four ingredients before it is considered contaminated, then empties and flips. The flip sides of bowls contain differing ingredients. Once a player has accumulated the necessary ingredients to fulfill a recipe, they may take the card. It may require time to cook it. It also may give the player a kitchen tool — a one-time use bonus of some sort. The first player to 11 points wins
Fun Fact: Jason Moughon, CEO of Big Kid Games, has done some graphic design over the years, including in his own business. He designed the logo for Big Kids Games, which includes his likeness.
Whew! If you made it this far, you have my sincere thanks! I still have a lot of work to do for BGG.CON — Part 2, but I hope you will check it out once I get it together! Happy holidays and best wishes to you in the new year!
The Board Game Bazaar was held Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This is always a frenzied event. The room is usually jam packed with sellers…and once open buyers, too. It's a board gamer's dream. I always find a few gems to purchase (a real accomplishment, considering how many games we already have). This year it was the Fresco: Big Box. Getting it into luggage was an adventure all on its own.
I shot a short video just before the room opened so you can get an idea of what can be found at the Bazaar. By the way, I was very impressed by how calmly everyone walked in once the doors were opened — great job, people!
Attendees may try out prototypes at Proto Alley, sponsored by Unpub, which was running this event at BGG.CON for its third year. The event was held for three days (Thursday – Saturday) from noon to 7:00 p.m. each day. There were special guests, special games, and a few surprises. (If anyone knows what the surprises were, please leave a comment – I'm intrigued.)
This is a very loud but exciting event held in the dexterity games section of the main game room lobby. Luckily they close the main game room doors before the event. Below is a photo from this year's event – that's Tom Vasel, from The Dice Tower, in the striped mask doing the announcing. Sponsored by Mayday Games.
From Thursday through Saturday, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m., Level 99 Games provided attendees with drinks, snacks, and a variety of 1-to-1 games from its Duelist Line series. This year, games included BattleCON, EXCEED, Sellswords, and Pixel Tactics. Attendees were also welcome to bring in and play any two-player games from the BGG.CON library.
There were a few tournaments held during the convention, including Poker (no money involved, amateurs welcome), Risky Adventure (Queen Games), and the most important one of all (although probably the least attended since only the best attendees play): Tichu.
There were 13 teams competing in this year's Tichu tournament. It was a double-elimination format this year, across two days. The winners were Stephanie Bennett and Jorge Montero. Winners took home games from Czech Games Edition (CGE) as well as badges to next year's BGG.CON. (Information provided by Jeff Anders0n.)
Designer/Publisher Speed Dating
With all that's going on in the world, busy schedules, etc., it's difficult to meet that special someone. That's why there's speed dating! Okay, this one isn't so much for finding your next spouse as it is about getting designers and publishers together. The good news is, if there's a spark, a bright, shiny new game may emerge! The event is free, but attendees were allowed to present to publishers only if they were pre-approved. (This year's sign up was open until October 23, 2016.) The event was held over three nights, with twelve tables each night. According to the rules, only nearly complete, fully tested games were acceptable and there had to be a working prototype. Games submitted in previous years or games already having been through successful crowdfunding were not allowed. More rules were posted in a Google document. (Information from James Mathe.)
(Information provided by Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games)
Coin Quest was first released at SPIEL 2016, followed by the U.S. release at BGG.CON. It is a light strategy game that plays in about 30 minutes. It uses blind-bidding auctions in which players attempt to build the finest collection of coins. Akin to deck-building games, in this version you are building a bag of coins. The coins won in bids will bring you increased bidding value and extra actions. Gain control of the gold to help outbid your opponents; build a bag with a multitude of actions and bring more of your coins into play each turn; focus on gaining prestige to jump out in front with victory points. There is a lot to do in this diabolical bidding game.
Pyramid Poker will be released January 31, 2017. Pyramid Poker is an abstract strategy game that brings Poker to you in a two-player format. Players each receive wooden blocks that represent cards from a deck; they then take turns building one pyramid in the center of the table, with their tiles facing themselves. Once the pyramid is built, they then take turns dismantling it, using the blocks to form three poker hands that will go up against the hands built by their opponent. This game is R&R's most anticipated release of 2017.
Fun Fact: In addition to running a game company, Frank DiLorenzo, President of R&R Games, is also part owner and designer of Escape Room Adventures (along with Stephen Buonocore, Stronghold Games, and Zev Shlasinger, WizKids). Escape Room Adventures is located in Ft Myers, Florida.
(Information provided by Kevin Brusky, President of APE Games)
Early copies of The Great Dinosaur Rush were available at Gen Con 2016; it was widely available at BGG.CON. Players take on the role of paleontologists during the Bone Wars of the late 1800s. They collect bones, build dinosaurs and get them into museums to gain fame. Playing dirty gains players notoriety points, which are added to each player's score at the end of the game. But the player with the most notoriety will need to subtract from their score. Players balance taking dirty actions (i.e. dynamiting dig sites), which benefit them in the short term and hinder others against gaining too much notoriety, but could subtract from their score in the end. Building dinosaurs is the heart of The Great Dinosaur Rush. Dinosaur designs are limited only by players' imaginations.
Dark is the Night is an asymmetric two-player game of hunt-or-be-hunted. One player takes the role of the hunter and can move in the lighted spaces surrounding the campfire, while the other player is the monster, secretly moving through the darkness. With only limited tools at their disposal, each player tries to eliminate the other before daybreak. While the goal of each player is to eliminate the other, the means to do it varies for each player, i.e. movement and actions available to the hunter player and monster player are very different.
Fun Fact: Dark is the Night was created by students at Bradley University as part of a game design class project.
(Information provided by Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games)
Great Western Trail pre-released at SPIEL 2016 and BGG.CON, with a general release November 23, 2016. The game takes place in America in the 19th century; you are a rancher, repeatedly herding your cattle from Texas to Kansas City, where you send them off by train. This earns you money and victory points. Each time you arrive in Kansas City, you want to have your most valuable cattle in tow. However, the "Great Western Trail" not only requires that you keep your herd in good shape, but also that you wisely use the various buildings along the trail. It is important to hire capable staff: cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your own buildings, or engineers for the important railroad line. Cleverly manage your herd and navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of Great Western Trail to gain the most victory points and win the game. Great Western Trail is a heavy Euro game, which uniquely combines deck-building, hand management, point to point movement, and tile placement. It is designed by Alexander Pfister, who has won the Kennerspiel des Jahres award two years in a row for Broom Service and Isle of Skye. Great Western Trail is #7 in The Great Designer Series line by Stronghold Games.
Coal Baron: The Great Card Game is due to be released February 22, 2017. The city of Essen, Germany, at the turn of the 20th century was a center for coal mining in Europe. Immerse yourself in the dark world of coal mining as you extract coal from pits, load coal onto wagon trains, then rail your coal off to distant locations in search of fortunes. This is a standalone game based on the board game, Coal Baron. The game features an innovative system of card drafting. Your hand cards represent workers, which must be used in higher numbers to successfully draft cards from the table. Hand management of your workers is crucial to being able to draft any of the key cards that you need, e.g. Lorries, Wagons, Engines, Orders, Shares, and Innovations, which are used to score VPs. With almost 240 cards, Coal Baron: The Great Card Game maintains the feel of the original game but with distinctively different mechanisms. This is a Kramer and Kiesling game.
Fun Fact: Stephen Buonocore, "Not only am I a passionate gamer, an outspoken industry advocate, and the President of Stronghold Games, but my passion extends beyond gaming into an entirely different realm. I am a BJCP.org Certified Beer Judge and home-brewer. Along with associates in the very plainly-named 'Beer Club' in central New Jersey, I travel long distances to seek out obscure craft beers and breweries, particularly in New England, which is where the sub-style of American IPA, the 'East Coast IPA,' was invented and perfected. Seek me out at any major convention if you want to hear me go on for hours about craft brewing in America."
Suspicion (Wonder Forge) was released August 2016 as a Target exclusive. It is a strategy deduction game, with some Clue-like elements but with more depth. Each person has a secret identity (one of ten). The game plays up to six players, so there will always be at least four characters in a pile near the board that players may peek at during the game (as an action on a card). Players will have two cards in hand (play one/draw one), each with two actions on them: one on top and one on the bottom. These actions can allow several action types; examples include allowing a player to take a gem in the room their pawn is in (rooms have different configurations of gems printed on them), moving one pawn to any location, and asking one player if their pawn can see the character pawn depicted on the card (this is done in secret by passing a yes/no card to the requesting player). Players roll two dice at the start of their turn to move two different characters to adjacent rooms, in hopes of setting them up for gaining information with the action cards or to throw off others in an attempt to hide their identity.
Fun Fact: Suspicion is set at the home of Baron Whitetooth. "Whitetooth" is a throwback name that the inventors used for a location-based game called Break In, way back in 1995, when they were creating larger-than-life entertainment experiences for ENTROS, The Intelligent Amusement Park. Similar to a present-day "escape room", Entros games were immersive, multi-sensory experiences. In Break In, Dr. Whitetooth was a sinister archeologist who dealt in stolen antiquities, and players had to infiltrate his mansion and steal back a priceless artifact. The character art for Suspicion was inspired by the work of the great caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld.
Suspicion Launch, L to R: Jay Wheatley, Jessica Aceti, Korby Sears, Bran Kirk
Broom Service: The Card Game (Ravensburger) is due to be released January 2017. It is based on the board game Broom Service. It captures the flavor of the original nicely but in about a third of the time. Each player has a hand of between 14 and 17 cards (depending on the number of players). The cards have an associated witch in a particular color, with 3 potions on one end (two of the color and one multi-colored) and 1 colored potion on the other end. All players choose three cards (the rest will be shuffled with the left over cards to be dealt out the next round). The first player plays a card then every player going around the table must play that color if they have it. They may play it either on the 3 side or the 1 side. If on the 3 side, the player who played the card before them must discard their card. The last player who played on the 3 side will select a card (if they are out of cards it goes to the next player). Continue until all cards have been played out that round. Four rounds are played then the hands are scored. Having more potions in a set gives more points. The player with the most points is the winner. In addition, there are some task cards (goals) that may be filled for points. The game also includes an expansion of 19 cards for the board game.
(Information provided by Danni Loe-Sterphone, Customer Service and Sales Manager at IELLO)
Kanagawa was released November 10, 2016. It is one of IELLO's newest card drafting games designed by the designer duo of Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier. You play as apprentice painters learning techniques from the grand master Hokusai. Learn how to paint different landscapes, create streaks of the same season, feature various subjects, and above all, create a harmonious print.
Rent A Hero was also released November 10, 2016. It is the most recent in the Mini Games line and is a remake of Seventh Hero. You play using cards numbered 1 to 7, each number representing a different hero. During the game, players will pass cards face-down, choosing to gain clues about the nature of the card. When they receive a card, players either recruit the hero or pass. When a player has six different heroes, they immediately win the game.
Fun Fact: Danni Loe-Sterphone says, "Stephan Brissaud [IELLO's COO] is color-blind, which is only one of the reasons he usually plays the yellow pieces in games!"
(Information provided by Todd Rowland, Director at Alderac Entertainment Group)
Treasure Lair is in stores now. Players take turns trying to complete quests by assembling parties of heroes and drawing and drafting for a hand of actions that can achieve victory. Completing quests awards treasure. Once enough treasure has been earned, the player with the most treasure wins the game.
Fun Fact: The game is designed by Arno Maesen and Fréderic Moyersoen. While Fréderic Moyersoen has designed dozens of games, this is Arno Maesen's first published title.
Tipping Cows was pre-released at BGG.CON, with a mini-version of the game being given to every attendee. The full release is planned for Q1 2017. It is a dexterity flicking game about tipping cows, represented by wooden blocks. They are the company that originated wooden blocks in gaming (circa 1972, Québec 1759).
Fun Fact: Grant Dalgliesh says, "Columbia Games is a small family multinational. The company was founded in Vancouver Canada (1983) and relocated to the USA in 1994. There are plans to open a division in Germany in the next year. The same owner has been involved the whole time: Tom Dalgliesh — also multinational — a Scot/Canadian/American like his son Grant."
The Game Crafter is a print-on-demand board game company that allows anyone to turn their game ideas into a real game. They have free templates, a game editor, and parts for your game (pawns, dice, money, and other game pieces).
Gruff: Clash of the Battle Goats pre-released at BGG.CON. This is a tactical combat card game in which players take on the role of a shepherd with their herd of mutated goats called "gruffs". Players shuffle-build decks by combining sets of cards from each of their gruffs, then take part in a positional melee to try to defeat the opposing shepherd. Clash expands the world of Gruff with a standalone two-player game that is fully compatible with Gruff. Clash adds six new shepherd characters and six new monster goat creatures as part of two new starter decks.
Fun Fact: The gruff "Bubbles" got its name from the designer's three-year-old son who could not pronounce the original name "Bulbous".
(Information provided by Stefan Brunelle, Director of Communications & Marketing at Matagot Editions)
Room 25 Ultimate was released at BGG.CON. The game has two game modes: social hidden identity and cooperation. Trapped in a prison in which each room has four doors but apparently no exit, the players must try to find Room 25. But some amongst them might be guardians of the prison, waiting for the right moment to strike. In Room 25, not everyone wants to escape from imprisonment. Each turn, player moves are preprogrammed, requiring discussion, negotiation, and possibly betrayal.
Cyclades: Monuments will be released in early 2017. Attract more favors from the Gods with this mini-expansion for Cyclades that consists of ten monument miniatures and ten associated monument cards. Now you can build temples dedicated to Zeus or Poseidon's glory, a great university to Athena, or a citadel from which Ares will watch down with each of these new buildings giving you a unique power to achieve victory.
Fun Fact: (from Stephan Brunelle) Before BGG.CON, we received an email from a submarine officer asking for games; he's in charge of the lives of 120 people working for a seventy-day duty. The game we will send is Captain Sonar, although they don't yet know what the game will be.
KLASK released in the first half of 2016. It is a dexterity game reminiscent of air hockey but with magnets. Each player's "klask" is magnetic, controlled from under the board (the magnet moves the top piece). There are also three small magnets on the board that may be knocked into the other player's piece (or get stuck to your own if you aren't careful). The object is to get the most points by either getting the plastic ball into the other player's goal (one point per goal) or by one player getting two magnets stuck to their klask (in which case the opponent scores). The board resets after each point.
Flick Wars will be on Kickstarter in mid-2017, with a release later in the year. This is a dexterity game with strategy and tactics in which the flicking combines to create a greater war strategy. A fairly large player mat as well as terrain objects are included in the game to create a 3D battlefield above and below the mat (e.g. an object under the mat will create a slope for pieces to "climb," simulating a mountain).
Fun Fact: The prototype mats for Flick Wars are all real earth terrain images that have been color modified.
(Information provided by Dave Killingsworth, owner and designer of SolarFlare Games)
Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion will be on Kickstarter on January 24, 2017. This is a cooperative, push your luck, dice and card game. Work as a team to defeat the aliens before the timer expires.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth says, "This is the same forest as Nightmare Forest: Dead Run and people who keep close watch might notice some alien friends that bear a resemblance to a few of the zombies from the first game. Alien Invasion is an expansion to the Nightmare Forest Universe but a standalone sequel to Dead Run."
Dawn of the Archmage will be on Kickstarter on August 2, 2017. This is a card and dice, small unit skirmish game. Summon your monsters and use combat dice and spells to defeat your enemies. Be the first to collect eight victory points and become the Archmage.
Fun Fact: Dave Killingsworth, "This will be a small unit skirmish game that will play in an hour or so and that is rare but SolarFlare Games will keep our sense of humor and fun we put into all our games. Also, the Dawn universe is connected to the Nightmare Forest universe via dimensional rift."
(Information provided by Mike Selinker, Designer of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy's Mask)
Released in October 2016, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy's Mask takes a simple principle — explore an ancient tomb — and makes it into a mind-bending ride through a fantasy Egyptian setting. This is a fully cooperative standalone game that allows each player to choose their character's class, build a deck of equipment, magic, and allies, and explore dangerous locations as they journey through an exciting fantasy tale. As the adventures continue, players add unique gear and more powerful magic to their decks as they gain incredible powers, all of which will be needed to defeat increasingly more powerful threats. The game starts with an introductory adventure and leads all the way to curse-filled scenarios that will test the skill of even the most hardcore of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game players.
Fun Fact: Mike Selinker says, "There is a puzzle in the game that the Lone Shark Games design team has told nobody about until today."
(Information provided by Patrick Havert, President of Quick Simple Fun Games)
Hanamikoji was released at SPIEL 2016 and due to be released in the U.S. in December 2016. This is a deep and elegant game for two players in which each player takes the role of a restaurateur in old Japan trying to win the favor and patronage of the local geisha. Sway them to you through strategic offerings of flower cards, which you play through your four different actions each turn. Each action must be taken exactly once each full round. They often allow your opponent to take one or more of the cards you play. Sway four distinct geisha to you or geisha with a combined value of eleven points or more to win.
Similarly, Celestia: A Little Help was released at SPIEL 2016 and due out in the U.S. in December 2016. True to its name, Celestia's first expansion gives players the tools they need to work together when it benefits them. Helper equipment lets passengers contribute to overcome challenges, allowing the crew to explore more of Celestia's magical islands. It also introduces special player powers for each member of the crew, which may be used once per game for different effects. New double equipment cards allow multiple identical threats to be handled at the same time; new hazards allow players that abandon ship too soon to delay or disrupt the voyage.
Fun Fact: From Patrick Havert: "SPIEL 2015: We were going through the media hall, and someone who did not even get a table, but was assigned a window sill, had some games on display. A cute little airship display caught my eye. This game obviously turned out to be Celestia. It was nice stopping by this very strange area, and discovering what turned out to be such a gem."
The Dice Tower (podcast/video reviews) had a booth selling some games and game knickknacks. (I'm guessing there were dice towers.) This photo makes me smile every time I look at it. (I actually had a really cute gif but BGG doesn't like gifs. Boo.)
L to R: Sam Healey, Derek Porter, and Eric Michael Summerer
(Information provided by Brad Talton, President of Level 99 Games)
Witch Hunt was released at BGG.CON. It perfects the social deduction genre by providing skilled players with unique roles and tools that redefine the classic game style found in Werewolf, Mafia, and others. Every player in the game receives a unique special character, separate from their team affiliation. Once players die, they go on to the afterlife as either Angels or Demons and continue to influence the game's outcome.
Tomb Trader is due to be released January 2017. It utilizes negotiation and hidden roles. This is a fast-paced game centered around a group of fake archaeologists. As one of these ne'er-do-wells, your goal is to loot as much as possible from an ancient temple, negotiating the best items for yourself before time runs out.
Fun Fact: From Brad Talton, "Did you know that our fighting board game BattleCON was inspired by Ace of Aces? Ace of Aces and the Lost Words books that followed after it used a pre-defined matrix to determine how combat actions were resolved. I was a big fan of these series and set out to design a combat matrix that would resolve attacks based on arbitrary stats and positioning, rather than hard-coding every possibility in the way these classic combat game-books did."
(Information provided by Elena Christensen, Marketing Writer, Asmodee North America)
Fantasy Flight Games ran demos of Star Wars: Destiny, DOOM: The Board Game, and New Angeles at the convention. Star Wars: Destiny and New Angeles are in stores now, with DOOM: The Board Game being released on December 15, 2016.
Star Wars: Destiny is a collectible dice and card game for two players. In every game of Star Wars: Destiny, you gather your small team of iconic characters and battle to defeat your opponent, using your collection of dice and cards in your deck. The last player with characters left standing wins the game, but to successfully outmaneuver your opponent, you'll need to carefully consider your options and enhance your deck with new dice and cards.
DOOM: The Board Game is a fast-paced board game of tactical combat for 2 to 5 players. You can take on one of two distinct player roles: an elite UAC Marines or the invader player, controlling Hell's most threatening monsters. The game guides players through two cohesive operations, each comprised of six missions. The invader commands their demons to slaughter the soldiers time after time as the marines fight to survive and achieve their unique objectives. The invader's numbers rise throughout the game as they summon more demons, while the marines grow more powerful, picking up weapons and expanding their action deck. Win or lose, DOOM: The Board Game is rich with death and destruction from start to finish.
New Angeles is a board game of corporate greed and machinations for 4 to 6 players set in the Android universe. Players each gain control of one of the world's most powerful mega-corporations, then use their wealth and influence to create more of each. The catch is that while you're doing everything you can to amass greater sums of capital than your rivals, you still have to work with them to keep the city of New Angeles from spiraling into chaos. This leads to a semi-cooperative experience with a more competitive attitude; the heart of the game lies within the tensions you'll navigate as you cut deals and forge temporary alliances, all while you're trying to figure out which player is the Federalist looking to sabotage everyone else.
Fun Fact: From Elena Christensen, "Though the two board games are quite different, this is not the first time Fantasy Flight Games has published a game inspired by id Software's DOOM video game series. Doom: The Boardgame came out in 2004 following the release of Doom 3."
(Information provided by Tony Gullotti, Director of Sales at Arcane Wonders)
Spoils of War has a planned release of June 2017. The game was designed by Bryan Pope, creator of Mage Wars and CEO of Arcane Wonders. In it, players are Vikings splitting up the treasures accumulated after successfully raiding a city. Once strong allies, the Vikings are taken by greed, and soon a heated debate ensues – who will get what spoils? Fortunately, they devised a way to resolve this difficult task many years ago – they will play a game of chance and skill to decide who will claim the best treasures.
In each round of Spoils of War, players roll their dice, and then in turn order, bid a quantity of dice and a value of dice that they believe are in play (e.g. "Seven 5s!"), counting all of the dice rolled by all players in the game. Bidding goes around until a Viking challenges the bid, then all players secretly side with either the Declarer or the Challenger, while making a bet (in gold). The winners of the round get to claim treasures to add to their collection in order of the size of their bet, while those who chose poorly lose their gold and prepare for the next round.
Fun Fact from Tony Gullotti: "Nick Deligaris, when creating the illustrations for the Warrior and Viking characters, used likenesses of Lance Myxter of Undead Viking Videos and Kevin Burkhardsmeier of Board Game Theater. Look forward to a fun promotional video by Lance and Kevin in the future."
(Information provided by Elena Christensen, Marketing Writer, Asmodee North America)
Asmodee featured three titles at BGG.CON: the recently released Inis, Legendary Inventors (released day one of the convention), and Conan, which hit stores at the end of November 2016.
Inis is, at its core, an area control game in which 2 to 4 players struggle to take and maintain control over sanctuaries, territories, and opposing clans. Drafted Action cards come together with territory-based Advantage cards and acquired Epic Tales cards to form a hand that directs every action you are able to take throughout each round. The game also features incredible original art, heroes and legends of Celtic mythology, and an ever-changing game board.
Legendary Inventors combines engine-building and set-collecting mechanisms, giving you numerous paths to take in your reach for victory. Each player has a team of four great minds whose knowledge points they can use to help complete historic inventions. When an invention card is completed, the three players who contributed most to it gain rewards, which will allow them to form collections, improve their inventors' skills, or simply attain straight victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of three ages wins the game.
The Conan board game features an innovative combat system that makes it a novel take on the classic adventure board game genre. One to four heroes push through a variety of scenarios, opposed by the Overlord player and their host of minions. As they do, both sides are able to manipulate their actions by spending or saving their limited supply of energy gems. The game also features seventy-four detailed miniatures and four lavishly illustrated game boards that establish the game's adventures in the sword and sorcery setting of Robert E. Howard's iconic barbarian. Along with the game's combats, the components almost draw your attention away from the clever resource management mechanisms at the heart of the game.
Fun Fact from Elena Christensen: "Inis is often pronounced by players with an 's' sound at the end, though in its native Old Irish, Inis (meaning 'standing in water', or 'island') is actually pronounced with a 'sh' sound, like 'inish'."
(Information provided by Don Lloyd, owner of Knight Works)
Hands in the Sea was released in September, 2016. It is a deck building two-player war game about the struggle between Rome and Carthage during the First Punic War. The actions you can perform in the game are determined by the cards in your hand and in your deck. Each of the major powers has its own set of cards, though certain cards are shared by both players. You may increase your range of available actions by drafting new cards and putting them into your discard pile, from which you will eventually draw. Players can purchase strategy cards that represent semi-permanent abilities giving an Empire a special advantage over the normal rules. There are also random events, which happen at the end of every turn. These represent events that either did occur, or plausibly could have occurred, at the time of this conflict. Your ability to overcome various disasters through the course of the game will be crucial to your success. Each player has a fleet that can move to various sea zones on the board. There are advantages to controlling a sea zone, such as interfering with your opponent's ability to supply or reinforce certain areas. The game ends if one of the game ending conditions occurs, ranging from scoring enough VP, to a sudden death victory by capturing your opponent's capital.
Forged in Steel was released in September, 2016. It is a card-driven city building game that focuses on the local history of a steel town from 1890-1920. Cards are played for either points, which can be used to purchase or seize buildings, or for the card's ability. Certain cards have headlines, which introduce an effect on the game board. Players take the role of an influential family and make decisions on building out the city of Pueblo, Colorado. The game is played over three eras, each with a corresponding deck. Players score points based off various buildings such as factories, mines, commercial buildings, and houses. There is also an unrest track in the game, to which players are forced to add cubes when they take certain underhanded actions. Once the track hits 8, a riot occurs; the player with the most cubes is the target. Players also take on various positions such as mayor, mob boss, mining official, etc. This is a highly strategic game providing many interesting decisions.
Fun Fact from Don Lloyd: "Forged in Steel captures the local history behind Pueblo, Colorado where the designer, Wade Broadhead, served as a city planner for many years. Wade's passion as both a historian and a gamer fueled his long road to design the board game."
(Information provided by Elena Christensen, Marketing Writer, Asmodee North America)
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu was released at Gen Con 2016. The game was designed by Chuck D. Yager and Matt Leacock, based on Leacock's Pandemic system. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is a chance to take on the Old Ones, or at least stop them from entering our world, and thus save humanity once again. You will travel across the towns of Arkham, Innsmouth, Dunwich, and Kingsport to share clues with your team, defeat cultists, risk your sanity by encountering Shoggoths, and unleash your mind with powerful relics. It's not going to be easy; sometimes your sanity will hang by a thread, or a die roll. Should you fail in sealing the gates, Evil will finally awaken from its slumber and humanity will slowly succumb to insanity.
A Feast for Odin was released at SPIEL 2016 in Essen, October 13, 2016. In the game, you lead your own Viking clan. Your object will be to raid, pillage, hunt, trade, explore, and migrate to new lands with the goal of becoming the most prosperous clan. Of course, this being an Uwe Rosenberg game, you need to prepare a feast for Odin at the end of each game round (feed!). The game centers around a worker-placement system mixed with a dose of Patchwork-style tile placements. With your Vikings, you will do actions that give you goods, which you can then allocate to your home board or any island you may have migrated to. By cleverly placing your goods tiles, you can increase our revenue.
Some actions require rolling a die. What is great about this system is that even though you might fail your roll, you are not too penalized and do not completely lose your action; in a way, this simulates your clan learning through trial and error. The game has rules to play from 1 to 4 players.
Fun fact from Elena Christensen: "Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is the first themed Pandemic, but it is not the first spinoff. That honor belongs to Pandemic: Contagion, a majority game in which players control a disease whose goal is to infect as many cities as possible. Reign of Cthulhu brings back the cooperative element, but this time against the Old Ones."
(Information provided by Jana Zemánková, Marketing & PR Specialist at CGE)
Adrenaline, designed by Filip Neduk, released at SPIEL 2016 in Essen. It brings classic first-person shooter video games to your gaming table (a Euro-style board game that's a first-person shooter!). It combines resource management and area control mechanisms for the scoring, with no dice! Players must move around the arena, choosing the right guns for the situation, grabbing the ammo and shooting their opponents. When you get shot, you move faster.
Codenames: Pictures pre-released at Gen Con and was officially released during SPIEL 2016 in Essen. This game is the follow up to Codenames from Vlaada Chvátil. Codenames: Pictures contains mind-twisting images that have taken the place of the words. The rules are still the same: teams give 1-word clues for their team to make guesses. It can even be combined with the original.
Fun fact: Filip Neduk, the designer of Adrenaline is also the illustrator of a few images in Codenames: Pictures. For example, the sombrero with the cactus on the top of it, holé!
(Information provided by Sean Lashgari, Senior Director Entertainment Division, Ultra Pro Entertainment)
Road Hog debuted as a prototype at Gen Con, to be released Jan 2017, with a soft release in December 2016. This game is under the Jolly Roger Games line and caters to all player types, including social and family. Your objective is simple, be the first player to drive your car from the beginning to the end of the highway. Players lay out square tiles, themed like a highway, and put "traffic cars" on them to complete the set-up. On their turn, a player uses cards and dice either to get ahead of traffic and opponent vehicles or to stop opponents from getting ahead.
Flag Dash pre-released at BGG.CON. In Flag Dash, you play as one of several childhood friends who promised to play their favorite pastime game, Capture the Flag, after they "grew up." Flag Dash takes place over multiple rounds until one team returns home with the opposing team's flag or collects a complete set of flags the opposing characters are wearing. In every round, each player plans two moves in advance, and for each move chooses to move either the runner they control — with a unique special ability — or the defender they share with their teammate.
Fun Fact from Sean Lashgari: "Road Hog designers spent hundreds of hours driving many of the highways and road systems across the United States to give the game as much fun and realism with the cards and dice mechanic – Rule the Road!"
(Information provided by Grant Taylor, Public Relations & Marketing, Victory Point Games)
Twilight of the Gods will be on Kickstarter starting December 27, 2016 with an estimated release date of Q4 2017. It is primarily a two-player game but may be played with up to six. It is an expandable card game from designer Chris Kluwe in which each player takes the role of one of four gods: Hera, Mars, Enlil, or Reader of Portents. Players construct decks from different factions to use against their opponent(s), casting spells and summoning mythological monsters with special abilities to attack their opponent's deck. Fortifications and Intrigues can be played to bolster your side with recurring effects. Players can even use their god's single-use ability to affect the battle. The first person to run out of cards in their deck is defeated. Creatures and spells are cast by using resources you put into play. However, these resources are only available by trading the cards in your hand with your opponent at the beginning of your turn. Players will need to be wary, as these traded resources can also be traps with negative effects, which can be sprung on your opponent using other card abilities.
High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel was released November 2016. It is a trial simulation game from designer Alex Berry. The game is set in 1885, with one player playing the defense lawyer of Louis Riel and the other playing as the prosecution. Over the course of five rounds, players learn information about the jurors for the trial, dismiss those that aren't favorable to their side, and use cards to influence the remaining jury's final verdict. Players can influence different aspects of the jurors to be more favorable to them, appealing to their religion, language, or occupation. At the end of the game, you tally all the aspects of the jurors and if the total is 100 or more, the prosecution wins. If it is less than 100, the defense wins.
Fun Fact from Grant Taylor: "Victory Point Games was started eight years ago but it didn't begin in an office space. Its first games were printed right in CEO Alan Emrich's home attic! Using only desktop printers, he printed his student's game projects as a way for them to begin getting experience with publishing. After initial success and requests for more of the titles, VPG was officially established as a company and began publishing games in its own warehouse on an industrial printer."
(Information provided by Andrew Frick, Marketing and Game Development at Red Raven Games)
Islebound: Metropolis Expansion will be released on January 25, 2017. This expansion to Islebound includes one new deck of Metropolis buildings. With this expansion, players can buy buildings from a second card row above the standard building cards. Metropolis buildings are often more powerful than the standard buildings and are worth more points. Players must already own one or more standard building cards for every Metropolis building they wish to add to their city.
Near and Far will be released on May 3, 2017. This is a standalone sequel to Above and Below. Near and Far includes a spiral bound atlas of eleven maps, each of which is a separate game. Players recruit adventures and visit towns, traveling across one map per adventure, and forming a travel campaign through the atlas. The game includes four different game modes and eight unique characters. Each decision you make in the story leads you down a another path providing almost endless replayability.
Fun Fact: Three of the adventurers that can be recruited in Near and Far are modeled after: • Ryan Laukat, co-founder and president of Red Raven Games • Malorie, co-founder and co-owner of Red Raven Games • Brenna Asplund who does PR, writing, editing, conventions, and shipping
L to R: Ryan Laukat, Malorie Laukat, Brenna Asplund as characters in Near and Far
(Information provided by Gil Hova, Game Designer and Owner, Formal Ferret Games)
The Networks sold out at BGG.CON; a reprint is expected in stores in February 2017.
Wordsy is planned to be released in July 2017. It is a game of longer words. Over the seven rounds of the game, you are trying to find the single best word on the board. Unlike other word games, you don't need all the letters in your word to be available, but you'll want to use as many as you can. So go ahead and use those really long words; they may just pay off.
Fun fact from Gil Hova: "Wordsy emerged from my attempt to develop my first game, Prolix, into a mobile app. I was looking for mechanisms to streamline, and I realized I had developed an entirely different game! I can't promise a Wordsy mobile app (turns out mobile apps are hard), but I used a lot of the code I wrote to make @WordsyBot, a Twitter bot that sends out a Wordsy board about every 30 minutes."
Engage your skills at the Puzzle Hunt, play games in the Spiel-a-Thon charity fund raiser (and maybe win prizes), if you are alone or attending for the first time, meet up with others at the Orphans and First-Timers Meet-Up, run the bridge of a star ship with Artemis, play a little Rock Band, see your favorite podcaster at the PodCasters Panel and Q&A, participate in the Game Show (sponsored by USAopoly)…and the list goes on!
BGG.CON was held November 16-20, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport, Texas. This will be the location for the next two years. In 2019, BGG.CON will move to the Hyatt Regency Dallas where everything will be about 50% bigger, including the exhibit hall (one room), ballroom space, hotel rooms, and number of attendees!
Fun Fact: The number of attendees for 2016 was about 2,950.
Check-in was greatly improved this year, thanks to a few changes. The opening line was basically done in one hour, with around 1,000 people checked-in. The main improvements included eight check-in stations rather than 4–6 and raffle tickets being pre-separated (with half added to badges).
Fun fact: The first people in line for registration were there starting around 1:00 a.m., but once registration was opened (a little before 10:00 a.m.) no one stood in line for more than 35-45 minutes.
Once again Rio Grande Games sponsored the Grapevine Shuttle, making trips to local restaurants and stores free to convention attendees.
This year I went with my buds from The Dice Tower (joined by a few other friends) for dinner at Babe's Chicken Dinner House. Just thinking about those chicken fingers is making my mouth water – probably the best I've ever had. The batter is crispy and light, the chicken tender and juicy. The food is served family-style. Everything was tasty – green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttery biscuits (added honey to half – it's good both ways), creamed corn, and the dessert – oh my! I had the banana pudding; it was fantastic!
The Dice Tower and friends at Babe's
Most days I had breakfast at Jacob's Spring Grille, the hotel restaurant. This year the buffet was reduced to $12.95 for attendees (normally $19.95). The only difference is that they don't have the omelet bar, but there's still quite a lot of food from which to choose, including steel-cut oatmeal and toppings, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast/pancakes, a variety of pastries and breads, fruit, cheese, and usually some type of potatoes. (I'm probably forgetting a few things, too.)
Another annual tradition is dinner at Mr. G's Steak House, also in the hotel. The food is usually pretty good, but they always seem to mess up something. This year the waiter had to take the checks back four times (yes, FOUR) before they were done correctly. (My husband and I had dinner with friends Ted and Toni Alspach, Bézier Games: two couples = two checks… we didn't think it would be that challenging.)
This year's special guests were: Matt Leacock, Eric Lang, Rich Sommer, and Rob Daviau. There was a special Q & A panel held Saturday evening with Matt, Eric, and Rob. Maybe someone can leave a comment on how this was… I didn't attend; it was dinnertime for me.
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. The Wiki Geek Buzz page has some information on how it works. Results are posted on the full leaderboard. Here are the top ten (as of December 2, 2016).
The BGG.CON Game Library contains 5409 games, and here's a list of the titles that were added from the SPIEL 2016 convention in October. The full collection is listed here. This year there were 11,815 checkouts of 2,093 unique titles.
Here are the top ten games check out preceded by number of checkouts. It does not include the games in the Hot Games, which were checked out once at the beginning of the convention. Click here for the full list. (Information posted by Scott Alden.)
This year was the 10th anniversary of the BGG.CON Math Trade. A Math Trade is a trade between a many people at once, using an algorithm to decide who gets what. Games are traded 1 to 1. There is no risk as traders get to decide their preferred games in the trade – at worst keeping the game they started with. This year 96 people traded at least one game (more may have participated) and 430 games were traded. Organized by Mischa D. Krilov.
Virtual Flea Market
There were 7,124 games listed this year for the Virtual Flea Market. According to organizer Michael Schwerdtfeger over 3,700 games were sold (it's difficult to get an exact count for various reasons). The nice feature about this is that the games are pre-sold, so you only have to bring the games that sold to the event! No wasted space.
Board Game Bazaar (Formerly the Flea Market)
Stay tuned (BGG.CON 2016 Part 2) for information on the Bazaar, including a video!
In one of the exhibit halls there were four booths that would change each day, differentiated by red curtain backdrops. Mainly, these were reserved for small independent game companies. When at BGG.CON, be sure to stop here every day to see what's new.
AssassinCon was a Gen Con 2016 release. It is a game for 4 to 6 players, although the sweet spot is 5 players (with less than 6 players there are robot players - random movement for those characters). The object of the game is to get the most points. The board shows a convention map layout. Each player is given a target card and a deck of movement cards. The movement is hidden - each player plays a card determining direction of movement, which are shuffled before being displayed and the standing character tokens moved to their new locations. Players move from location to location looking for their target, while trying to avoid being a target themselves. Booths/rooms can give a player special abilities. For example, the sniper booth allows you to target characters in three other booths (i.e. as if they are in the same location). Players get one temporary point for identifying their target (plus they get their target's target card, i.e. a new target), and two points for correctly figuring out who is targeting them plus any temporary points they had. A round ends in the unlikely case where the movement decks run out, if there are only two players left, or if someone attempts to identify their assassin (right or wrong). Temporary points become permanent and a new round begins. When one player gets five permanent points they win.
Fun Fact: At BGG.CON, Mayday ran a live AssassinCon game with about 95 participants who signed up pre-con and were give ribbons. They were randomly assigned a target and given a card that looks like an oversized card from the game. If they found their target, the target signs that card, then they give that player their target card (the target can no longer participate but keeps their score). The person with the highest score at the end was the winner. 1st place received $100 to Fun Again and some Mayday goodies, 2nd place $50, 3rd $35.
Update on the new Mayday Crokinole boards: The new release is expected in February 2017. It will have a wax finish rather than shellac, which allows the wooden disks to glide more easily across the board. The Kickstarter price is $99 plus $15 shipping. MSRP will be $145.
The Crokinole carrying case retails for $50. I highly recommend it; it's a beautiful padded case with carrying strap.
Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, the first full board expansion to be released in the U.S., came out in November 2016. It includes four new legends, continuing the story of the original heroes. It also includes travel by sea. Players can customize their ship during the game. Ship movement is influenced by weather. There is a new character, the bard. The characters are in a new land; they want to spread their fame. Winning depends on how successful they are, as measured by the bard's faith in them. Their success is contingent upon the bard spreading word of their victories (tracked on the newly introduced Hall of Fame section of the board).
Fun Fact: The boards for the Legends of Andor base game and the expansion, Journey to the North, line up perfectly with each other. Included in the Companion Guide rulebook with the game is a link to a free download, a 70-minute atmospheric soundtrack to enhance game play.
Colony was released November 2016. This is an engine-building, dice-as-resources game. It comes with 28 different sets of variable cards, 7 of which are used in a game "making it infinitely re-playable" (according to owner Ted Alspach). There is a free app available for download that helps you customize your game set-up.
New York Slice is due to be released March 2017. It is a reimagining of Jeffery D. Allers' Piece O' Cake using pizza slices instead of pie/cake. A few additional elements give the game more depth than the original. One of those new additions is a set of chalkboard-style "Today's Specials" that provides unique variations on the standard "I cut, you choose" game play of the original, i.e., these are small chalkboards that may be added to a portion of slices. New York Slice also has combo slices (with two types of pizza on one slice), nasty, nasty anchovies, and even a supreme slice.
The images from New York Slice may be prototype images; they could change with final publication
Fun Fact: During development, Ted and Toni Alspach ordered dozens of uncut pizzas of all the types represented in the game in order to use them for the prototype in testing the game — except for anchovy slices because that's just gross.
—Daedalus Productions Inc.
Daedalus makes beautiful wooden inserts for game boxes. The stained wood adds a nice touch. The internal boxes fit perfectly and organize the pieces well.
(Information provided by Andrea Elliott, HABA USA E-Commerce Manager)
Meduris (European release: SPIEL 2016, North American release: BGG.CON 2016) is a medieval-inspired worker placement, resource management game designed by Stefan Dorra & Ralf zue Linde, illustrated by Miguel Coimbra of "7 Wonders". As a medium-weight game, this is HABA's heaviest release to date. Players compete to make offerings to the gods in order to score victory points. You collect resources depending on how high your worker is in each meeple tower. Players also compete to build huts; they do this by paying resources. Each additional adjacent hut adds one of each resource to the cost of newly placed huts. The more and more huts that are built/placed, the more expensive the real estate. Scoring works in a similar manner, as hut construction, by paying the druid resources as he moves around the board. The player who strategically builds their huts and temples, while conserving enough resources to use in the final round of offerings, will win the game.
Picassimo (European release: SPIEL 2016, North American release: January/February 2017), designed by Carlo A. Rossi and illustrated by Christian Fioret, is a crazy twist on the traditional party drawing game. It includes 900 terms to be drawn and 3 levels of playing difficulty. Players simultaneously draw a secret term from their cards; they must use the whole drawing surface to complete their drawing. When only one person still drawing, a 3-2-1 countdown starts; when the countdown ends, they must stop drawing and put down their marker. The player who finished drawing first turns over a "transformation" card, which will show everyone how to re-arrange their drawing board tiles. Once boards have been re-arranged according to the card, in turn order players reveal their artwork to the other players. They are trying to guess the original word drawn before the artwork was re-arranged. If guessed correctly, artist and guesser will receive points. After all drawings have been revealed and guessed upon, a new round begins. After 7 rounds of play, the artist with the most points is the winner.
Fun Facts: HABA has more than 15 game and book designers who develop over 450 new products each year. Their home factory in Germany produces over 1,800,000 dice every year!
Jumbo Jets (Jet Set Expansion 2) was pre-released at SPIEL 2016 and now at BGG.CON; it is expected in stores early in 2017. It includes four expansion modules that add jumbo jets, hotels, charter flights, and city bonuses. It also includes more flight cards — completing the full collection of combinations — as well as both easier and more difficult Final Flight cards (12 of each).
A jet and cute little clear meeples from Jumbo Jets
Fun Fact: Kris Gould, company owner and game designer: "The Wattsalpoag logo used to have a squirrel with a question mark above his head, looking at the name 'Wattsalpoag'. (Wondering what the heck it means.) As a tip of the hat to this original unofficial mascot, we had to include a squirrel as one of the animals on the dice in A Fistful of Penguins."
Pack O Game Set 2 will be released in Q2 2017. As with set 1, this set will include eight new games:
• Spy - a 10-minute table-less deduction/memory game (i.e. it may be played without a table!), great for standing in line. • Rum - a push your luck, set collection bottle game with a twist. • Orc - a 2-player hand management territory battle game that you can play in 5 minutes. • Dig - a dog-themed pick up and deliver game. • Gym - a team game in which players create teams and compete in gym class events. • Boo - a 2-player game with an Othello-like mechanism, crossed with Super Mario Brothers "Boo" character. • Box - an abstract game, optionally playable in teams, in which players try to create the largest squares they can with their secret color (a square is defined by their color being in the four corners). Players score for the number of dots along one edge of each square. • Sow - a gardening game with a Mancala-like mechanism, for two to four players.
Fun Fact: The chocolate brown lab in Dig was inspired by designer and owner Chris Handy's dog Rex. He has been immortalized in the game as a cartoon; his photo dedication can be found in the rules.
Dastardly Dirigibles released in July 2016. It is a steampunk airship building card game where players are trying to build a matching airship to score the most points. Each player has a set of plans, playmat, for their airship with 7 spaces for cards, e.g. lift engine, nose cone, tail. Players try to collect and place like parts for their dirigible; there are 8 varieties plus 2 wild. Whenever a player decides to add a part to their ship, all players must simultaneously play that part if they have one, in that slot, replacing a card if there is one already there. A round ends when one player finishes their dirigible. Players score 2 points for matching parts plus one point per wild (other types of parts do not score). The player with the most points after 3 rounds is the winner.
Castle Panic: Engines of War was released November 23, 2016. This is the third expansion to Castle Panic. It adds an engineer who uses resource cards to build new weapons and defenses, new monsters, and siege engines.
Fun Fact: On the back of the Dastardly Dirigibles there is a Handbook of Victorian Insults: "In anticipation of your rivalry, the Professor has provided this handy reference guide of stinging insults, biting terms, and vengeful sayings. Use them against your adversaries as you will." For example, gormless means lacking any common sense. Justin De Witt, the Chief Creative Officer and designer of Dastardly Dirigibles, came up with the idea and did the research.
878 Vikings - Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in late December 2016. This is the first game in the Birth of Europe series. It has the same game mechanisms as the Birth of America series. There is always about a 5% change in each game, which gives them an individual/unique feel.
Fun Fact: Academy Games newest Conflict of Heroes Q & A is in section 42. There are lots of funny bios on their website – about half true and half false; they leave it to the readers to figure out which is which.
Tiny Epic Quest will be released Q3 2017. This is the fifth installment in the Tiny Epic series. It is a puzzle type game, reminiscent of the old RPG video games e.g. Zelda and Dragon Quest. It features ITEMeeples, which are configurable meeples. You can equip the meeples with items such as swords, staffs, shields, etc. The puzzle aspect comes into play with quest cards, each with some map configuration that players need to meet with their colored ITEMeeples. If successful, the player gains the quest card, which is worth victory points plus an item to equip or some advantage. Points may also be gained from slaying goblins, learning spells, and acquiring legendary items. The player with the most points at the end of five rounds is the winner.
Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea will be launching on Kickstarter on January 26, 2017. This is a 4X game, with elements of area control, resource management, and engine building. It is Gamelyn Games first game with miniatures - lots of miniatures! In some ways it's the "grownup" version of Tiny Epic Kingdoms.
Fun Fact: When CEO and founder Michael Coe had to come up with the name of his company, he knew exactly what he wanted to use. During his junior high/high school years, he was dungeon master for the RPGs he ran, but more than that he loved creating worlds. So he made up his own scenarios, featuring an NPC he named Gamelyn. This became his moniker; as he grew older, he wrote about the character in a screenplay created in film school, and finally used it as the name of his company.
Munchkin: X-Men edition was just announced. It is due to come out in March 2017. Takes place in Marvel's X-Men universe. The game will include 128 cards, 4 role cards with plastic trackers, and a die. Each player will take on the role of a character.
Fun Fact: Their first game, 23 years ago, was La Jolla Monopoly.
Bonus Fun Fact: The Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle game has ages 11+ on the box because that is the age First Year students are allowed to attend Hogwarts.
Broken Token makes lovely wooden organizers for game boxes. The perfectly fitting inserts even hold the upgraded pieces, such as those shown for Scythe below.
Succession! was released October 2016. It is a 10-minute card game that plays up to six people, using a rock-paper-scissors mechanism. It is not a party game, but bluffing and memory are involved. The small size makes it really portable.
Fun Fact: Succession is based on a German game that CEO Dave Ferguson's girlfriend really enjoyed. He considers it his love-letter to her.
Agility was released in May 2016. It is a two-player game about adopting and training dogs to run agility courses. It uses an action rondel. The card you play on your turn moves the action marker on the rondel, landing on the action you perform and giving you a training resource(s) (choice of two types). There is also a drafting element to the game when choosing courses (each player will draft three during the game, out of six). The first player to complete their courses wins the game.
An expansion to Morels, to commentate the fifth anniversary of the game, is being planned for Kickstarter in early 2017 to be released in late 2017. They are planning to add action cards, character cards, and some additional means to manipulate the forest(s).
Fun Fact: One of the cards in Agility features a living room, decorated for Christmas, with a puppy in a gift basket. It was Two Lanterns Games President Brent Povis' unrealized dream gift as a child. He gave the artist a photo of his living room and the scene come to life in the art.
Star Traders will be released early 2017. The game got its start as a Steve Jackson first and only release in their Asimov line. It is a pick up and deliver game, reminiscent of Merchant of Venus, with a streamlined board and duel purpose cards. Anyone can pick up a particular good but the first person to deliver gets extra points for each person they beat. There will be one contract per player available during the game, when one gets filled another replaces it. There are 5 actions on a turn, tracked by dice (which is also what is rolled when you decide to move). There are also Personality cards that give abilities to each player.
Fun Fact: The names of the worlds in Star Traders are creator/company President David Ladyman's favorite sci-fi authors. There are also a lot of other references to sci-fi fiction, including movies and TV. Ryan Archer, the graphic designer, drew images for the back of the money denominations as follows: 1 features a play-tester, Lucas Coyne (also the name of the 1) 2 shows a dragon, honoring Dragon's Lair store in Texas (play-testers) 5 professor Meeple, from the Malted Meeple store in Ohio (play-testers) 10 coin name is Marty, honoring the designer's wife (Martha) 20 Zelda, the graphic designer's dog, is featured Steve Jackson and a few others are featured on the cards as Personalities.
Evolution: Climate was released November 2016. It is a big-box standalone game that introduces climate into the ecosystem. This is a gamer's game, a heavier game in the realm of Terra Mystica or Agricola weight-wise. It is a conflict driven game (predators), very rich in theme. The concept is adaption - staying one step ahead of changes.
A super hero themed version of Wits & Wagers is planned to be on Kickstarter in March 2017. Each player will have a superhero/villain, with two minions and a superpower that affects game play in some way. For example the Wizard of Odds can switch around two odds after everyone has placed their bets.
Concept drawings for Super Hero Wits (working title)
Fun Fact: Evolution is currently being used at the University of Oxford in an evolutionary biology class. Four scientific advisors and nine game developers helped in the design of Climate.
Shadowrift, the updated second edition, was released at BGG.CON. This is a fully updated version including new artwork, streamlined rules, and now a board, which makes setup much easier. Some of the cards have also been tweaked, e.g., rules clarifications and keyword updates.
Black Orchestra was released at BGG.CON. It is a historically accurate cooperative game based on the plot to kill Hitler. Each player character was based on an actual person and member of the conspiracy. The game plays out over seven rounds, each of which has an event deck containing events based on actual occurrences. Players need to monitor their suspicion and motivation levels in order to pull off plots to wipe out the Nazi leader and his deputies by collecting items and cards.
Fun Fact: Cody Jones, Project Manager: "Black Orchestra was called 'Hitler Must Die' until very late in the game's development, becoming 'Black Orchestra' only weeks before the game was officially announced."
Thwarted! is due to be released end of January 2017. It is a card game where players each take on the roll of a super villain whose goal is to take out the superheroes. Each super hero has a box of requirements, in the upper left corner of the card, for capturing them. For example, two fire cards may take out a particular superhero. A superhero may have immunities, e.g. to cold cards. The interesting twist is that if another player plays a block card to stop them from attacking, the attacking player gains the block card, which gains them an advantage in the game.
Tales from the Taverns: Legends of Goblins Past, is currently on Kickstarter, with a planned release of August 2017. Each player gets two actions per turn: play a card on their play mat, draw two cards, pay a gold to get a bardic talent (i.e. extra win conditions for victory points), or beg for gold. Players start with a hand of five cards (they must use an action to acquire more). They are building a tableau grid of four stories, each with three parts (hook, rising action, climax) plus an epic card (this is automatic when a story is completed). Stories may be interrupted by other players. A deck of 10 candle cards is built at the start of the game to track rounds. There are four versions of each card. Candle cards may have good or bad events on them, such as all expenses are doubled this round or no interrupts may be played this round. The game ends after 10 rounds; the player with the highest score wins.
Fun Fact: Lyft and Uber have a group of "prestigious members" (informally named the Rideshare Brotherhood by Stephan Brissaud, Vice President of GAMA and COO of iELLO). It includes Mark Siemens, CEO of Vile Genius Games, and Jeff Bourbeau, freelance developer and designer (a literal Jack-of-All-Trades).
Legends of the Searobbers (working title) is a scenario-based campaign-like expansion containing three modules for Catan: Seafarers. Games evolve as they are played, e.g., characters you acquire in one scenario you can keep with you for the next scenario. Scenarios are heavily objective based and depending on how a scenario evolves may change how the next one is played. Each has a different board set-up for Catan with Seafarers, with new components. The game is due to be released Q2 2017.
Fun Fact: The Crop Trust is an international organization whose goal is to safeguard crop diversity by maintaining a vault of seeds and banks throughout the world. Catan Studio is working with the Crop Trust to create Catan scenario for the base game with "pro-seeds" to go to the Crop Trust.
London Dread had a limited release in August 2016, with a full release November 2016 (the 2nd printing expected December 2016). It is a Victorian era cooperative horror game with elements of real-time programming. The publisher describes it as Arkham Horror meets Space Alert. Each player is an investigator participating in a story where they are attempting to defeat an antagonist. There are four stories in the box, creating one encompassing story arc. The stories are highly re-playable.
Champions of Midgard: Valhalla, an expansion for Champions of Midgard, is due to be released Q1 2017. It adds a new dice type, new cards, new monsters, a new leader, and two new boards, one of which allows players to fight new monsters, the other which allows players to upgrade their Viking clan or Viking leader, creating asymmetry between players.
Fun Fact: In London Dread there is a dread card called The Black Cat. It is more powerful than a cat has any right to be. Initially the difficulty stat was a misprint, but the designer decided to keep it as a way to troll the developer.
Pyramid Arcade released November 2016. It contains 22 games: 20 designed by Andrew Looney, 1 by Kristin Looney, and 1 by John Cooper. The game contains 90 pyramids (3 trios of 10 different colors) - the largest set of pyramids to date. It contains 8 mini game boards, 1 folding game board, 2 deluxe plastic game boards, 9 dice, 3 various decks of cards, 1 drawstring bag, a turn token, and a large colorful rulebook. One of the decks of cards has one card per game, each with a short description, picture, and summary of game attributes - simple/medium/complex, fast/medium/long, number of player, and time to play. It makes it easy to select a game to play.
Better with Bacon, an expansion pack to Just Desserts, has a planned release of January 2017. It is a set collection game. You win by collecting 3 suits (colors) or 5 different colors of "customers" that you attract by fulfilling their orders. Better with Bacon adds a new suit (brown); it is a 10 card pack with both new desserts and new customers.
Fun Fact: Kristin, Andy, Andy's brother Richard, a family friend Gina, and customer service person Alison are all featured on customer cards in Just Desserts. At LooneyCon, their first convention held in July 2016, they had a Just Desserts Cosplay Contest where people were asked to dress as characters from the game. Alison dressed as her character, Nature Girl, but lost to a very young girl also portraying Nature Girl.
(Information provided by Casey Willett, Black Locust Games)
The Opulent was released in November 2016. The Opulent is a 1-4 player cooperative game set during 1920's prohibition. Each player operates a station of the speakeasy that has a separate mini-game and mechanisms from the rest of the stations (Doorman, Band, Bar, Club Manager). Together, these stations try to provide a night of glitz and glamour to visiting patrons in hopes of parting them from their hard earned money, all the while trying to avoid drawing the attention of federal prohibition agents that are tasked with shutting down the club. The goal is to have enough money at the end of the game to pay for operating costs so that you can stay in business. The game includes 10 scenarios spanning 1920-1929, which can be played as individual gaming sessions or linked together as a progressive campaign.
Fun fact: All The Opulent patrons are named after the great grandparents of each model [who posed for the game art] as a way of honoring the family lineages that lived during the highs and lows of the roaring 20's!
Nawakwa is slated for a Q1 2017 Kickstarter launch. It is a 2-4 player game where players are young members of a native American Indian tribe on their first hunt as a trial of manhood. Players turn in a set of cards in exchange for a hunting opportunity card from the various animals that can be hunted in the region. Totems can be found in the hunting region, which grant players additional information about the region or give other abilities. Wild cards make turning in sets easier but also accelerate the progression of winter, which ends the game. Once all the animals have migrated or hibernated out of the region, points are tallied and the player with the highest score wins.
Fun fact: Translated, Nawakwa means "in the middle of the forest."
(Information provided by Mitchell Whittier, Marketing and Sales, 5th Dimension Games, Inc.)
Budō is a mixed martial arts card game that challenges each player to manage a dojo of martial arts skills while striving to knockout their opponent. This side-scrolling turn-based strategic fighting game requires players to adapt their character's mat position and craft a deck of attack and defense skills. Learn to manage a dojo in ten minutes then spend a lifetime mastering the martial way.
The Budō expansion, coming in 2017, will feature Capoeira, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, and Krav Maga. The expansion is designed to play as a stand-alone game or to be integrated with the base game, which contains Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Tae Kwon Do. Whether playing with the expansion, the original or both, Budō provides the opportunity to create a truly mixed martial arts gaming experience. Select your favorite skills from any and all the characters to create a custom mixed martial arts character.
Fun Fact: Karate and Tae Kwon Do feature the images of two of the 5th Dimension Games founders. Andrew Thomasson, game designer, posed for all the Karate skills and Mitchell Whittier, lead play-tester, posed for the Tae Kwon Do moves.
(Information provided by Adam Growden, Administration Assistant, Devir Americas)
Barcelona: The Rose of Fire will release in January 2017. It is a thematic game in which the players take turns constructing buildings and finishing city blocks over five phases. These buildings all have the ability to employ a different number of workers. The player will compare these workers to the current immigration rate and gain a number of striking workers in the Raval. Workers on strike increase the unrest in the city causing problems for the player who places them there, as well as triggering events that affect everyone in the game. At the end of each phase, players will collect special popularity cards depending on their success in the previous round. These popularity cards contain many famous buildings from Barcelona, such as the Sagrada Familia, which will have special abilities not seen on the base cards. Barcelona is a Euro game with many different moving pieces requiring careful management of worker unrest, player prestige, and long term planning to win.
Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft debuted at Origins in 2016. It is a quick set collection, worker placement game for 2 players, easy to learn but with enough depth and re-playability to keep it interesting. Players take on the roles of Sherlock and Mycroft, collecting investigation tokens to get them the most clues. They use characters from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to help them along the way by providing investigation tokens, ways to find clues, or even ways to steal clues from their opponent. After seven days of investigations, the player with the most clues wins the case.
Fun Fact: During the conception of the original idea behind Barcelona, Devir chose neutral Italian designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello in order to avoid letting the political leanings of local Spanish designers influence the game design process.
(Information provided by Randall Ford, Cryptozoic Entertainment)
Poker Assault released just before BGG.CON. There are four factions in the game. Each team has its own custom suit theme and artwork. Play any deck versus any other deck, or even 3- and 4-player variants. Several cards in each deck have bonus abilities that can aid you while assaulting your opponent, or defending against an assault. Additionally, if you can craft a Straight, Flush, Full House, or Four-of-a-Kind, you will earn a Power Card. These unique cards give you new strategies to pursue. With your initial hand of five cards, likely you aren't going to have much of a poker hand. But by playing only one card at a time, and drawing a new card from your deck after each play, you can slowly build up to something great. How great depends upon how risky you want to get. Craft a hand of at least a pair, and your assault is underway. Now your opponent must block your cards using the cards in their hand. The defending player likewise plays only one card at a time and draws a card from their deck after each play. To block an assaulting card, match the value (2 to Ace) or play a card of the same suit (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade), but with a higher value. Each assaulting card that gets through knocks your opponent's hit points down by one. Bring your opponent's health to zero to win.
Spyfall 2 has a planned release of Q1 2017. It is an easy-to-learn card game of bluffing, questions, answers, and suspicion. At the start of each round, players receive a secret card letting them know where they are; except one player receives the Spy card instead of a location. The Spy doesn't know where he is, but wins the round if he can figure it out before he blows his cover. Players then start asking each other questions during the 8-minute rounds. Non-Spy players want to ask questions and give answers that prove to the other players that they know where they are. The Spy will also sometimes be asked questions (just like the other players) and will have to come up with questions without knowing anything about their location. This stand-alone expansion allows for two spies: when one tries to guess their location, the other one takes a guess as well. It also plays up to 12 and includes 20 new locations.
Fun Fact: Randall Ford: "Poker Assault was a game that we had in hand for three years and almost didn't get around to publishing. However when our playtesters kept asking when we were going to publish it, we could tell it had made a big impression on them. So we brought it into the world and based on the response it's been getting, we're glad we did!"
(Information provided by Alex Yeager, Mayfair Games)
The Colonists will be available in early January 2017. It is a "worker movement" game in which players walk their stewards from location to location in order to gather goods or perform actions. Players build their community on a personal board over the course of an Era, with an Era lasting ten game turns. The game can run multiple hours in its full four-Era version, but you can break up the game and only play Era 1, or just Eras 2 and 3, with the rules included in the game.
Oh My Goods: Longsdale in Aufruhr (Longsdale in Revolt) will be available in very limited quantities through Mayfair directly, with a general release later in 2017. It builds on the SPIEL hit Oh My Goods! by adding a five-chapter storyline, with each chapter introducing new building and characters into the game. Cards are persistent from chapter to chapter, so your game set grows with each additional story.
Fun Fact: When the prototype for The Colonists was submitted, rather than the four eras that are in the release, there were eight eras for play.
(Information provided by Jack Poon, Founder of Creative Cove Games)
The Depths of Durangrar is a dungeon crawl board game that is played in the dark. Players take on one of two roles, explorer or monster. Explorers light up to only illuminate what is directly in front of them in a 3D modular maze. Explorers compete against one another to be the first to a thousand gold and out of the maze alive. However, while they are competing against each other, another player, the monster player, will be hunting them all down. The monster player is wearing night vision goggles so they can see the whole maze. The monster remains concealed in the darkness. All players use action points to move around the maze, collect gold and attack one another. Combat works using dice with consecutive attacks becoming increasingly difficult to pull off. Players can also choose how to setup of their unique explorers and monsters' abilities, strength, and health to create different strategies.
The Depths of Durangrar was launched on Kickstarter in May 2016 and is currently planned to be delivered in May 2017.
Fun fact: Jack Poon, "The Depths of Durangrar originally started off as a cooperative horror-movie-like game where the explorers were a group of friends trapped in a horror mansion and had to find their way out. They had to choose to split up to cover more ground and be easy targets for the monster or stay together to better fight the monster but ultimately be worn down by the mansion. Unfortunately, early play tests proved that this wasn't as fun as I pictured and the game quickly evolved into a dungeon crawler."
Aeon's End was pre-released at BGG.CON, with a planned release in December 2016. This is a cooperative fantasy deck building game in which players are mages, the last bastions of society, as the world has been destroyed by monsters. There is a twist to the deck building aspect - the cards do not get shuffled, but rather are flipped back over in their current order to be played.
Fun Fact: The designer of Aeon's End, Kevin Riley, was a professional gamer for Star Craft.
The Highlight of the Convention...
There is so much going on that it's hard to pick a favorite, but I think for me it was playing the Middle Earth CCG with lead designer Coleman Charlton and hubby Ravindra Prasad (a.k.a. Snoozefest). Coleman kindly brought along his cards, maps, dice, and hobbit pawns; he was very patient teaching us the game again (we learned it years ago). It was a privilege to play with him as well as a reminder of how wonderful the game is.
Coleman Charlton (L) and Ravindra Prasad (R) playing Middle Earth CCG
Be sure to stop by again for part two of the BGG.CON 2016 Wrap-Up!
[Ed. note: Head here for the first half of Mary Prasad's report from the 2016 Origins Game Fair. —WEM]
As usual, many trips were made to the North Market. Hot Chicken Takeover was as good this year as I remember from last. The chicken is always hot and fresh. They actually can sell out early (on a chalkboard they have a countdown for number of chicken pieces left) and there is usually a line, but it's worth the wait. I wasn't impressed with my Katzinger's Little Deli Ruben sandwich – too pricey for the little meat/too much bread I received. Market & Boar (Holy Smoke BBQ) has awesome BBQ. I can't resist their Loaded Barrel Chips. From memory (admittedly not my best feature), it has Barrel chips (seasoned, made potato chips), choice of smoked meat (I got pulled pork this time), cheese sauce, jalapeños, tomatoes, and chipotle sour cream! OH YUM! I ended with a double delectable treat: a trip to Taste of Belgium for a waffle to go, on which I put a couple scoops of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Heaven! (I had to split with a friend so that I wouldn't burst.)
This is becoming an annual tradition as well – a trip or two to Moy's Chinese restaurant for some fresh, delicious food. The R&R guys (who are also foodies) introduced me to this wonderful establishment. Afterwards we stopped at Buckeye Donuts, right next door, where we had cronuts. The memory of it is making my mouth water; it was so freaking good!
Dinner at Moy's with (far left) Dan and Frank DiLorenzo, R&R Games, and (far right) Ken Hill and my husband, Snoozefest
Another fairly new favorite is Aab (introduced to us by Ken Hill, CABS and Rio Grande Games rep.). It's a little bit of a hike from the Columbus Convention Center, but they have excellent Indian food and it's right down the street from another Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams location!! I like to walk over from Aab to help burn off some of the guilt.
The Dice Tower Live
The Dice Tower podcast did a live taping at Origins. About 250 people showed up for the event. As somewhat typical at these events, a "gameshow" was held with funny and/or game related questions (and sometimes funny answers) where select audience members were able to win prizes for participating.
They're back! After a four-year hiatus, Hill's is finally back selling many, many TCG and CCGs (among other things)! Unfortunately I bought two boxes I really didn't need (but WANTED!), and yet again I was stopped at airport security for having those dangerous foil cards.
Happy Salmon released in April, 2016. It's a fast-paced game for 3-6 players (with two decks you can play up to 12), which plays in about a minute. Each player starts with a deck of 12 cards held face up in their hands. The idea is to find a person with the matching card by shouting out the name of the action on the card. For example: fist bump and high five are two of the actions. Once this person has been found you both perform the action to discard the card, revealing the next card. The goal is to get rid of all your cards.
Evolution: the Beginning, releasing in August, is a standalone card game (i.e., it is not playable with the base game). This is a simplified (i.e. lighter, faster — about 30 mins) version of Evolution for family and casual gamers. It will be a Target store exclusive.
Fun Fact: Evolution was originally designed by Russian biologists to teach kids about evolution. (The original game was named Evolution: Origin of the Species.) The artwork for the game was done by Catherine Hamilton, a high-school friend of North Star founder Dominic Crapuchettes.
Royals pre-relased at Origins, will release at the end of August. The art was updated for the U.S. market to give it a more medieval English look and add more vivid color. The distribution of cards was also slightly revised. The city in Britain now has two nobles instead of one.
Tony Gullotti, Arcane Wonders
Speechless will be a Gen Con pre-release, to be released soon after, and is designed Mike Elliott (designer of Quarriors, Dice Masters, etc.). This is his first party game and the fourth in the Dice Tower Essentials Line. Talking is not permitted during the game. Players take turns being the "presenter". The presenter has 90 seconds to act out six words (three cards with two words each), trying to get the other players to correctly guess each word. While the presenter is acting out the words, the other players are watching and trying to guess which word is being acted out. If they think they know the word, they write it down on their dry erase marker board. Players score up to 2 points for each correct answer: one person guessing the wrong answer scores 0, multiple people guessing the same wrong answer each get one point. The presenter gets the highest score in correctly guessed words that round. The game is for 3-8 players with two rounds for three players, or once around for four or more.
Fun Fact: Arcane Wonders sent the artist for Royals, Jason Engle, a photo of Kevin Burkhardsmeier (podcaster, Board Game Theatre) as a model, because he does cosplay as a king.
Kevin Burkhardsmeier was used as the model for the King in Royals
Hive Mind, by Richard Garfield, will release in September. Each turn all players secretly answer a question, then answers are revealed. Players get one point for each answer plus one point for each answer matching another player. A die is rolled to determine how many people will move down the hive (printed on game board) for having the lowest score. Sometimes one player may also move up for having the highest score. There is a catch-up mechanism for players reaching the lower levels; a player can remove a barrier rather than moving down. Any players kicked out of the hive lose, then everyone else wins.
Running with the Bulls, by Paul Peterson, releases in September. Each player gets six runner dice at the top of the board. There are six bulls, also across the top of the board. Players try to get their runners to one of the destination cards at the bottom of the board (sort of like a Plinko, disk drop, game). Players get a hand of five cards per round to help them move to the bottom, four of which will be played. There are three (scoring) rounds to the game.
Fun Fact: Board artwork for Running with the Bulls includes Chris Leder, "Director of Fun" at Calliope Games (bottom right), above him and the big red die is the President of Calliope, Ray Wehrs (right), and Paul Peterson, designer (left). Artwork was done by Mike Bocianowski who signed his name on the toilet paper on Chris' foot. There are some puns/Easter eggs about bulls all over the board (e.g., bulldozer, bull horn).
The Networks released at Origins (U.S. debut). This is a tableau-building game using card drafting. Players each run a network. The goal of the game is to get the most viewers by developing shows, signing stars, and landing ads.
An expansion to The Networks is planned for 2017. Currently they plan on offering a modified set-up, new shows and stars set in the 1980s and 1990s, and individual player powers based on their network.
Fun Fact: Gil Hova, owner of Formal Ferret Games, has owned various ferrets for over the course of twenty years: seven in total so far, usually with two at a time.
Naruto Shippuden: the Board Game released June 2016. This is a cooperative board game in which players are trying to stop a network of evil ninjas from taking over the world. Characters and locations are from the show Naruto Shippuden. Each player has their own character with powers, etc. as well as a specialized deck. Highly thematic.
Heart of Crown will be released in September. This is a deck-building card game in which players each take on the role of "campaign manager" for their princesses. Their job is to get their princess elected to the throne by using military tactics, bribery, and witchcraft. The game is split into two eras. During the first era players accumulate wealth in order to back a princess. Once they have a princess, money is not as important; succession points become important for the second era and winning the game.
Fun Fact: The art of Heart of Crown was done by Yuji Himukai, the same artist for the video game Etrian Odyssey.
The Boss Monster: Paper & Pixels mini-expansion released in June 2016. (It was previously only available as a retailer incentive.) This is an expansion for the Boss Monster games (playable with both one or two). It has three new bosses, four new rooms, and one new spell.
The Boss Monster: Crash Landing mini expansion extends the base game, normally for 2-4 players, to 5-6 players. It introduces a new hero class as well as a new related treasure type. For the first time, this will add a sci-fi theme, with aliens landing in the fantasy world of Boss Monster.
Fun Fact: Almost every card in Boss Monster includes an "Easter egg" that parodies classic video games, fantasy and sci fi movies, and fantasy literature.
Fans of classic fantasy/sic-fi movies may recognize this iconic device, guaranteed to leave heroes "mostly dead"
Salem was released at Origins. This is a social deduction game in which you play a family during the Salem witch trials. Three of the members are witches in each family. You are trying to determine who are the witches in the other families while being more accurate in your accusations than the other players. The game sold out at Origins.
Quartz was shown at Origins and will be released at Gen Con. This is a push-your-luck game in which you are a dwarf trying to create the most lucrative mine. As you are mining, you might turn up obsidian, which will make you crash, causing you to lose all the gems you just mined and knocking you out of the round.
Fun fact: In the game Salem, all the family members are historically accurate. A lot of research went into creating the game.
In WarQuest, you take on the role of a warlord; your goal is to reunite a fractured land. Achieve this goal by quest, conquest, and combat! The game is card driven — Quests and Conquests are cards in your hand, and every time you complete one, you get a new card — with variable start locations, hidden endgame victory conditions, and awesome miniatures for your armies (it does have war in the title after all) so each game will unfold with a different story. The world of WarQuest (Myrathia) also has a novel from Don Beyer (Swords of Mercy).
For Q4 Mr. B Games and L4 Studios plan to release the 30th anniversary edition of Liar's Dice. This will be in the mode of the classic Milton Bradley version (six players, with the star replacing the "1"). They are playing around with the cover (below), but this is one of the styles they're considering, with them probably doing some kind of polling on BGG or another media vehicle to get consumer feedback.
Fun Fact: Keith Blume: "My family and I played the Milton Bradley version of Liar's Dice non-stop at our family reunion 28 (or so) years ago and it has remained a family favorite. Thus getting to print the game is a full-circle dream come true."
Mighty Monsters will release in August. Players assume the roles of Trolls, Undead, Aquatic animals, Demons, Insects and Dragons with only one thing on their mind: the Gold in King Edgar's treasury. You have to cooperate to overcome the pesky guards, but the real monster in you still wants a bigger share than your fellow monsters! Have the most gold by the end to win in this fast paced monstrous card game.
World Monuments will release in August. In this game you and your fellow players choose one of four buildings and start constructing it from the ground up: the Capitol in Washington, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, San Pietro's Basilica in Rome, or the Taj Mahal in Agra. Once building has completed, only the most talented master builder among the players who gained the most points will win the game.
Fun Fact: World Monuments already has two more monuments in production. These will be offered only as Queenies (promos) at conventions and at the BoardGameGeek Store, early next year.
Chris Landon, Meeple Source, with prankster Dan DiLorenzo, R&R Games, behind him
The Godfather: A New Don releases in August. This is an area-control game in which players take control of one of the six crime families from The Godfather (books/movies). Players battle over the boroughs of 1950s NY. They claim territories by turning in sets of dice.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past releases in August. This is a scenario-driven campaign game featuring story content from the IDW TMNT comic. Players may take on the role of their favorite turtle or the ultimate villain Shredder through a series of 60-90 minute missions in which they develop their characters' strengths, fighting styles, and equipment creating a story arc. Favorite characters (e.g. Casey Jones, Alopex) appear throughout the missions as the Turtles call on their allies to help battle their deadliest foes.
Fun Fact: There is a secret Easter egg in The X-Files that no one has been able to figure out. Nate Murray, Product Manager for IDW Games, offers a bounty of any free IDW game if you can determine what it is.
Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is the next standalone game in the Conflict of Heroes series. It includes the U.S. army expansion and incorporates the Japanese Bushido code ("saving face").
879: Viking Invasions of England will be on Kickstarter in July, released planned in October. This is a standalone game, next in the series with 1775 Rebellion. It will be an all miniatures historical game.
Fun Fact: Collaboration can be tricky sometimes. Academy Games' French partners complained that Academy Games was as overly picky as Germans, but as pushy as Americans (the worst of both worlds).
Brick Party released July 6th. In the game, teams of two work together to build a pattern on a card (worth 5 to 8 points, varying appropriately in difficulty) with interlocking blocks. The cards depict a silhouette of what will be built. One person is communicating what to build while the other player builds it. Each round there is a rule card making it more difficult to either communicate or build (e.g., no thumbs may be used this round, eyes closed, no talking, etc.). The first team finished gets extra points, then the other teams will have only 30 seconds more to complete building in order to score points. Teams get to decide which card to build after the rule card has been revealed. When a new round starts, there will be new partners, a new rule, and new shapes. Play continues until one player meets a point goal.
Covert will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released in August. This is a tactical game of dice placement and set collection in which players try to complete a designated number of mission cards. The first person to do so is the winner. Players roll a hand of dice each round and may use them in different ways, for example they may be used to select an action by playing in an action area in one of six spaces. A player may use any space if no one has yet played there otherwise the player must play numerically adjacent to another die. A player may use one die to help crack a code to try to match a code behind their player screen. A player also gets to swap two tiles of the code during the code-cracking phase. If a player matches their code, they get a resource and another code. Actions include things like moving on the board, getting more resources, and collecting mission cards.
Fun Fact: Kane Klenko, the designer of FUSE, loves to sneak little hints about his wife Carrie into his rules, including an image of her in the back of the Fuse rulebook: Carrie as the ship's computer in FUSE (hologram).
Darkness Comes Rattling was released September/October 2015. This is their first board game in a couple of years; they are mostly a miniatures company. In the game there is a spirit snake called Darkness who is jealous of the sun, so he swallows it, plunging fantasy world Tallil into darkness. This is a cooperative game in which 2-6 players play warriors from the tribes of man attempting to save the sun. Players travel to different regions of Tallil to find items and spirit weapons needed to defeat Darkness.
Fun Fact: When Through the Breach was developed, the lead designer immortalized one of the playtesters, Aaron Darland, as a non-player character (named Aaron Darlin!). His character is known as the mecha-tyrant of Virginia who burns down Richmond. Flash forward to today, Aaron now works for Wyrd Games on the design team; players sometimes think he wrote himself into the game.
Aaron Darland passage from Through the Breach
Custom Tables for Board Gaming
There were a couple of companies selling board game tables. Boardgametables.com has custom made to order tables; choose from five types of wood and six styles of table. Add-ons include card holders, cup holders, drawers, toppers. Carolina Game Tables had three tables in the Mayfair Games play area so that people could try out one of their tables while playing a game.
Information provided by Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager.
Star Trek: Frontiers released on June 29. Designed by Andrew Parks, Star Trek: Frontiers puts a new spin on the bestselling board game, Mage Knight by Vlaada Chvátil. Command your ship, recruit new crew members, earn experience points, and use your skills to confront the challenges of the Star Trek Universe. Explore and face a variety of challenges on a randomly built Space Map using the Venture Tile System, first introduced in Mage Knight. The game is for 1-4 players with multiple competitive, cooperative and solo scenarios. Work together to defeat hostile ships or compete to explore and uncover hidden mysteries. Players will need to overcome obstacles to expand their knowledge and use their leadership in order to win.
Blank White Dice, designed by Jonathan Leistiko, is a thrilling new take on dice games. Roll the game dice to activate the icons on the dice, and gain enough points to win the game! But that's not all because if a player rolls a blank face, they need to get creative and show their artistic skills by drawing their own icons on the faces of their dice! Some icons will give players points, others may cause opponents to lose points, force competitors to re-roll, and much more! The first player to reach 13 points at the end of a round wins the game. Planned for a SPIEL 2016 release.
Fun Fact: Stephanie Gelband, Marketing Manager: "WizKids held both the 2016 U.S. National and World Championships for HeroClix, Dice Masters, and Attack Wing at Origins Game Fair. For the first time, WizKids gave a Fan Appreciation Presentation at the event. Attendance was so high that we had to change rooms, cut the presentation shorter, and run two sessions!"
Mad Science Foundation pre-released at Origins, to be released in July/August. Each player is a mad scientist trying to build inventions to gain infamy (points). This is a card-driven game in which, each round, one player splits a number of cards into piles equal to the number of players, then the other players choose which pile they would like with the dividing player going last. Cards include resources and inventions. Inventions must be constructed using resources before points are gained. Minions are also in the resource deck; certain advantages may be gained by controlling a minion. Players also have a hidden goal card. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Attack on Titan Deck-Building Game is planned for September/October release. The game theme came from the Attack on Titan popular anime and manga series about monstrous Titans. This fully cooperative game is based on the "Cerberus game system" but with added movement. Players are heroes trying to defeat all Titans in the deck before they destroy the wall that protects civilization (which is representated by five tokens in the middle of the table). There is a board with ten spaces and a wall in the middle, with player heroes moving from space to space. The location of your hero in the game area matters. If you are on a titan space (outside the wall), there will be a fight.
Fun Facts: Dekan Wheeler, Manager of Marketing: "We actually found the designers (Sharang Biswas, Max Seidman) at Gen Con 2015's developer speed-dating event. We loved their game Mad Science Foundation so much we decided to publish it. The Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game is built using our Cerberus engine, but is the first of our deck-builders to be designed with co-operative play from the ground up."
Mega Man: Battle for Power is planned to be released in August. This is a Universal Fighting System (UFS) CCG, compatible with some of their other titles such as Darkstalkers and forthcoming Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Cowboy Bebop. The game features the character Bass.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game has a planned release for October. This is a cooperative horror game for 1-6 players. The goal of the game is to try to keep the Hell Mouth from opening and consuming the city of Sunnydale. Players try to protect the townies from various dangers (e.g. vampires, zombies, etc.) and defeat the monsters of the week (there are thee random mosters of the week in each game) to collect various clues to beat the big bad (boss).
Fun Fact: Jason Hawronsky, founder and CEO of Jasco Games, started in the boardgaming industry when he was really young. He owned a 3,000 sq. ft. retail game store in the Dallas Metroplex when he was 13. (Although he did all the management — working store hours around school hours — he had help from his parents until he could legally take over); he ran it for 11 years. He started publishing in January 2010 at the age of 24.
Arkwright released at Origins. This is a heavy economic game with action selection and a stock market. Players produce and sell goods, build factories and machines, hire workers, etc.
Haspelknecht: The Story of Early Coal Mining will release in September. This is a mediumweight action selection game about discovering coal in 16th century Germany. Players extract coal and obtain unique developments (e.g., to more efficiently extract the coal). This will be part one of a trilogy of games spanning centuries. The complexity will increase across releases.
Fun Fact: It took three months to update and enhance the English version of the three rulebooks in Arkwright.
The Grizzled: At Your Orders! pre-released at Origins, released at the end of June. It adds a solo play mode (not in the original game), a new two-player mode, new missions that replace the original game's set-up difficulty level, character cutouts to help visualize who's on the mission, and Final Assault/Last Stand card (for desperation moves).
Potion Explosion will have an early release at Gen Con, to be released September/October. Player are student wizards and witches learning to brew potions. Each has two potions they are working on at a time. There is an ingredient dispenser, consisting of marbles in vertical lanes in a slightly sloped cardboard holder (so the marbles will slide together), from which players take one marble on their turn. This may trigger a "potion explosion" if two marbles of the same color connect, possibly causing a chain reaction. The player may take all marbles of the same color that touched to form the explosion. Potions are cardboard pieces with holes on which marbles may be placed, color coded for the potion. Once complete, potions may be "drunk" (turned upside down) to provide a one-time special ability. Potions are worth points. Players may gain skill tokens (also worth points) by collecting three of one type of potion or one of each potion (5 total). The game ends when the skill tokens are gone. The player with most points is the winner.
Fun Fact: Designer Eric Lang is obsessed with pandas. He tries to work a panda into each of his games: cover art, character in the game, etc. He even tried to sneak one into the Blood Rage rulebook, but editing found out and removed it before the final print.
Dead Last pre-released at Origins, to be released in July. This is a party "social collusion game" that will appeal to gamers who enjoy casual games and social deduction games, although there are no hidden roles or traitors. Each player has a color identity, shown on a card displayed in a stand in front of them, as well as a hand of cards which includes every player color including their own as an "ambush" card (used if they suspect they will be a target). Targeted players are eliminated (unless they played an ambush card). Also, all players except those in the largest voting group will be eliminated. This forces players to form alliances... although you won't know if they are being truthful. Anything goes as far as communication, including glances, nods, pointing, flashing a card, etc. — just try not to tip off the target. The last player standing receives four gold bars with points ranging from 3 to 5 points. The game ends when one player gets to 24 points. The trick is trying to get others to vote with you without alerting the target. If there are two players left, there is a "final showdown".
J'accuse will be released at Gen Con. This is a blind-voting card game. Like a reverse version of Clue, all players conspired to kill the old miser. Each are trying to pass off the evidence onto the other players. In the end, there will be one loser and a table full of winners who got away with murder.
Fun Fact: Curt Covert, Smirk & Dagger Games: "Cutthroat Caverns was inspired by the transition from my high school D&D group (me and six women) who played very Lawful Good characters to my college group (all guys) who were anything but. I was horrified when I realized the other characters I was traveling with were far more dangerous than anything the DM could throw at me. That feeling of shock and horror was the feeling I wanted to be pervasive in Cutthroat."
12 Realms released in June. This is a game in which players are adventurers trying to accumulate land, gain fame, etc. through questing, purchasing.
Raid & Trade will be released July. This is a post apocalyptic modular board game of negotiation and resource management. From the ashes of a third World War, a few golden cities emerge offering hope to those who struggle for survival in the wastelands. Using action points and a player specific skill, players explore the ruins of the modern world completing quests, honing their skills, and maneuvering for social status in order to claim a spot as a citizen in a Golden City.
The Broken Token
This company makes game boxes, inserts/organizers, and some game pieces. Their newest release, launched during Origins, the Biohazard Containment Unit for Pandemic is a custom box to replace the original box; it holds sleeved cards, the base game, plus all the expansions. See photo below. An "in box" organizer for Codenames will be released at Gen Con. A custom box for Splendor will be available after Gen Con.
The Origins Game Fair was held June 15-19, 2016, in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio. (They finally moved it to a more appealing date! Yay!) The next convention will be held June 14-18, 2017. The Origins Game Fair began in 1975 and is run by the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
This year the registration line was extremely long — longer than I have ever seen it in previous years. Part of this was due to a Microsoft security update that was pushed through Tuesday night, causing some time to be lost Wednesday morning. The other reason was due to increased numbers. In 2016, 9,514 people had registered on Wednesday by noon (compared to 7,634 in the same time period the previous year). Origins had added 20% more people to the registration stations this year, so the delay wasn't as bad as it could have been. John Ward, Executive Director of GAMA, noted that the average wait time was about an hour.
This shows about a third of the line
Attendance was up from 2015 (the numbers they gave me from last year were revised):
• Full Show Badge: Pre Reg $55, Onsite $65 • One-Day Badge: Pre Reg $20, Onsite $25 (up $5 from last year) • Family Day passes were available only for Sunday, June 19, for a family of up to two adults and four children (under 18) with limited access: $20 (up $5 from last year)
Origins and Families
Origins is a family-friendly event. Children 9 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. A child's badge allows entry to Origins for all five days of the show. The back of the child's badge includes a place for parents to include their badge ID number and contact phone number at the show.
There were two new options for kids this year: the Origins Family Room and CritterCare. The Origins Family Room is for parents who want to spend time gaming with their children. Free games were provided by Pokemon, Breaking Games, and Origins. Video games, provided by Final Boss Gaming, cost two generic tickets per hour (generics cost $2 each) unless you had purchased an Electronic Game Room ribbon, which allowed unlimited play.
CritterCare is a place where parents could register their children for kid-friendly fun. Brought to you by KiddieCorp, CritterCare is Origins' new and improved childcare room. Children ages 5-12 could participate in tabletop games, card games, and crafts. Books and toys were also available. Origins offsets the cost of CritterCare at a reduced rate of two generics per hour, per child. Parents' contact information as well as their intended location at the convention is required for check-in. Children are required to stay in CritterCare until their parent or guardian comes to sign them out.
Check out the Family page on the Origins website for hours and information.
By the way, if you have children (or even if you don't!), be sure to check out HABA games (see below, in the Exhibit Hall section). Their games are as much fun for adults as they are for children – and the components are usually super high quality.
Fun Fact: At The Gathering of Friends, I caught Phil Walker-Harding, designer of Imhotep, wearing the same sweater (in Australia they say "jumper") as he did for his designer photo in the rules for Imhotep. He claims he really does change his sweaters/clothes! See Thames & Kosmos later in the article for more information on his game.
Phil Walker-Harding, owner of multiple jumpers
CABS Board Room
Board Room Ribbons were again $20. This year they sold out — 1,600 ribbons! The library received 118+ new games, making the library about one thousand games. (The entire CABS library is brought to the convention, minus some kids games.) There were 592 unique games checked out from the library. Here are the top 20 checkouts (number of checkouts listed after name of game):
Tiffin was released at Origins. This game is about the Indian lunch delivery service, most commonly found in Mumbai. As a service, bicyclists, called dabbawallas, pick up and deliver hot lunches to workers, usually with help from the train system. Typically the pick up is from the worker’s own residence, although some use a meal supplier. There is a really nice movie titled The Lunchbox (available on Netflix) whose story revolves around this very thing. Tiffin is a somewhat light, area majority game that has a bit of luck and strategy. Players use cards to place cubes on tiffin tiles: first as lunch tin(s) — up to 3 — then to fill up the "route" (a block of squares, varying in size for shorter or longer routes). Each player starts with one card for a short cut (makes a route 2 squares shorter) and a flat tire (makes a route 2 squares longer), which may be played during their turn in addition to their action (then it's discarded). Actions are basically taking cards or placing cubes.
Dominion: Empires was just released. It adds a lot of new mechanisms, including split piles for kingdom cards of two different cards; debt tokens that allow players to buy cards with debt, which must be paid off before they can buy another card; more events (first introduced in Adventures); and landmarks, which work similarly to events but generally give players ways to score points during the game or at the end. One or two landmark cards come out at the beginning of the game and apply to everyone.
Fun Fact: Rael Dornfest, one of the designers of Tiffin, went to Mumbai to hang out with the dabbawallas — the people who deliver lunch boxes (called tiffins). The name of the prototype was "Dabbawalla" but it was later changed to Tiffin.
Swipe Out was pre-released at Origins and will be available in July. Each player has a 5x5 grid board with 25 chips on it. A pattern card will be flipped showing a similar 5x5 grid with dots in some of the squares. Players must match the pattern by quickly removing chips on their boards. There is squeaky duck in middle of the table. The first player to finish will grab the duck to stop play, then the player’s grid board is checked for accuracy. If it is wrong, the other players keep going. The winner gets the card. Play is up to five cards (there are variants for three cards and with teams). Designed by Oswald Greene Jr. – from Grand Theft Auto. Wiki: "Oswald Greene, Jr. is a voice actor, associate producer and a game tester who voiced a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. He also worked as a game tester for Grand Theft Auto III and as an associate producer for Grand Theft Auto Advance."
Dan (L) and Frank (R) DiLorenzo, R&R Games Booth
Shiro is being tested for a future release (likely 2017). Designed by Ben Parmentier. The shogun is dying. Warlords are trying to gain control of the provinces of Japan to cement their claim to become shogun. This is an area majority, worker placement game using cards. Everyone has same deck of cards and a hand, from which a few cards will be selected each turn to put on display. Cards have 2 or 3 slots on which samurai may be played. Players may play their colored samurai on their own cards for free or on another player’s at a cost – with the limit of one samurai per color per card. Players may hire ronin, which are temporary workers for one turn, although they may become permanent workers if they pay a higher cost.
Fun Fact: Many of R&R games have treasure hunts hidden inside them. A couple weeks ago, someone solved the Face Chase hidden hunt and won $150 (grand prize). Other prizes may still be won.
I couldn't resist including this: Time's Up Title Recall is my favorite party game (although I love all Time's Up games). Earlier this year R&R released a Time's Up Limited Edition Expansion Set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of R&R Games! At Origins, four full expansion packs were released for Time's Up: Title Recall. Every Time's Up release has about 30% new cards from the previous edition (currently on the fifth release of Title Recall and 7th release of the original). On a related note: Smarty Party, the newest edition will have 100% new content, Gen Con release.
Legends of Andor: Journey to the North is an expansion for Legends of Andor that will be available Q4 2016. This cooperative game includes a new story that picks up from the base game, but moves on to another land (it includes a new map region of the north of Andor) with new challenges (legends), and new powers. This time the theme is water-based; for example, it includes storms, ships, and sea monsters.
Legends of Andor: Journey to the North, Thames & Kosmos
Imhotep was on sale for the first time at Origins. Imhotep was an Egyptian, considered by some to be the earliest known architect. In the game, players are Egyptian builders trying to emulate Imhotep by loading boats with stones (wooden pieces) and moving them to five monuments (board locations). Each area allows players to either take cards or participate in building (placing wooden pieces on the board). On a player's turn, they may do one of four actions: take new stones, load their stones on a boat, move a boat to a monument, or play an action card. Timing is key since other players are vying for their own interests. Nominated for the 2016 Spiel des Jahres award.
Fun Fact: Lili DeSisto, Marketing Coordinator: "The crew at Thames & Kosmos regularly has game nights at their offices so that everyone knows the ins and outs of all of our games (also, it's just fun!). Oftentimes these games nights happen after office hours, but one memorable day this spring, we lost power on the same day that we were undergoing some office renovations. With all the noise, we were happy to be forced to unplug, open the windows to let the light in, and have an impromptu game day. Things got pretty heated, though...one thing we've learned is that we've got some competitive gamers on staff!"
CGE was showing the final prototype of Codenames Pictures at Origins. It will pre-release at Gen Con 2016, with a full release in September. This is a picture version of the award-winning game Codenames. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do. Fun fact: The original Codenames has been published in 17 languages!
CGE was also showing a prototype of Adrenaline, which is being planned for a Spiel 2016 release. This is a Euro-style first-person shooter. Yeah, you heard me right. Euro-style. First-person. Shooter. I played the prototype last year and, I must say, I'm impressed. Somehow they pulled it off. Each player has an area control health bar that tracks damage from other players. When your character dies, whoever did damage will get points accordingly (i.e. most point for first, second most for second, etc.). A marker is put on the highest point value every time your character is killed so the next kill will not be worth as much. There is another area majority for the player who makes the most kills. There is also a resource management component: you need the right type of ammo for the types of weapons you have. Whenever you die, you immediately re-spawn, without losing anything (weapons, ammo). In a nice twist, there is a slight advantage for having damage.
Garbage Day released at Origins. "Players take turns stacking garbage cards one at a time onto the overflowing garbage can, or stashing garbage cards in their rooms. But once a player's room gets too full, they must clean it by stacking all the cards from that room on top of the garbage can, very carefully, one by one. If garbage cards fall off the garbage can during your turn, place them in your overflow pile. If your overflow pile gets too big, you're eliminated from the game. If all other players have been eliminated, you win!"
Dungeon Busters was shown at Origins. "Dungeon Busters release is Gen Con 2016: In Dungeon Busters, the players take the role of heroes exploring dungeons and defeating monsters in search of treasures. In order to defeat a monster, every player simultaneously plays a power card face-down then reveals the values. If two or more players play the same value, they are all ignored. If players are defeated the player who played the lowest value should return some treasures as a penalty. If players succeed to defeat the monster, players can divide rewards but the player who played the lowest value will go first."
Fun Fact: Ryan Bruns: "Gen Con 2014, I was late returning from dinner and I had missed most of the designer speed-dating event (where game designers give a six-minute pitch to publishers). I was just going to skip the event since I was very late and I was walking towards the gaming hall. I ran into Seth Jaffee and Andy Van Zandt of Tasty Minstrel Games. They mentioned they were looking for me and said there was a game at the speed-dating event that Mayday Games is going to publish. They proceeded to tell me about Garbage Day and how much I needed to look at it. I went to the room where the event was being held and was introduced to Shane Willis, designer of Garbage Day. After a playthrough and discussion, we signed the game the next day. I love this industry that we all belong to — where publishers see games that would fit with other publishers and recommend them. I love it. Special thanks to TMG."
Quotes by Dan Dineen, Major Events Manager, Alderac Entertainment Group
Mystic Vale: "In Mystic Vale, 2-4 players use the innovative Card Crafting System to create and personalize their own cards/decks to create a game experience unlike anything they’ve ever played before. Concise rules offer a deep gaming experience with meaningful decisions, along with tremendous replay value with each game being different from beginning to end." Mystic Vale will be released July 14th for brick-and-mortar stores or August 8th for all other retail outlets.
Guildhall Fantasy: (released June 20th): "In Guildhall: Fantasy, 2-4 players compete to create the perfect party by recruiting adventurers into their guildhall chapters. Collect sets of cards with unique abilities to control the table, and complete a full chapter to claim victory cards. Players do this by drawing cards, making their opponents discard cards, switching cards between their collections and others, or a myriad of other card effects." [Note: There are three listings for Guildhall: Fantasy - Fellowship, Alliance, and Coalition.]
Fun Fact: "Mystic Vale was actually created by its designer, John D. Clair, to teach the Card Crafting System for his game Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness will be released by AEG in 2017!"
AEG Major Events Manager Dan Dineen demoing Mystic Vale to attendees
This one is a showstopper for me. I just had to get some photos of their beautiful dice! These ladies are super sweet, too. This company is out of Poland, but the website is really well done so there is no problem for English speakers; in fact three of the four choices – selected by currency on the left side of the home page – take you to websites in English but with the specified currency and adjusted shipping prices. Only the last one is in Polish.
They make incredibly beautiful and intricate dice in a variety of themes and games: Steampunk, Celtic, Tech, Elven, Deadlands, Call of Cthulhu, Kingsburg, Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, Shadowrun, Warmachine, and many more. There are really cool metal dice available in several choices, as well as dice towers, dice bags, and dice cups (e.g. Black Elven Leather Cup with stitched lid and bottom and debossed writing). They even have glow-in-the-dark dice!!
Fun Fact: This one is too good to be true: edible dice! OMG! I want the elven dark chocolate dice! Although, they look so yummy I might eat them before ever playing a game with them (probably just as well since they will likely make a mess on my hands/games). The description says: "Elven dark chocolate dice set: This set of dice is made of dark chocolate with a touch of almond and marzipan. Meticulously finished, the edible dice are D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 and D100." YUM!
They also have white chocolate (with a touch of lemon), milk chocolate, red jelly, and blue candy! Check Candylize for more pics and info.
Dead of Winter: The Long Night was pre-released at Origins, with a planned July/August release. This is a standalone expansion for Dead of Winter, with all new characters, crossroad cards, and three new modules that may be played together or players may pick and choose among them. It's of course compatible with the base game.
SeaFall will pre-release at Gen Con with a general release later in 2016. This is designer Rob Daviau's new "legacy" game. It's a seafaring game of exploration and intrigue, with new things to unlock as you play.
Fun Fact: Artist Fernanda Suarez put several Easter eggs in the new Dead of Winter: The Long Night art. Examples include: the Ashes logo on Elijah's hat, and Emma's backpack has a Charm Die keychain on it.
Catan Geographies: Tenn-Tucky is planned to be released July/August. This is another scenario for the base game, for 3-6 players. This version has horses as a commodity, producing on 7s in the pastures.
Catan: The Big Game is an infinitely expandable game of Catan. They plan to release this at the beginning of 2017. Bob Carty, Catan Studios: "Catan: The Big Game is a special product designed to allow scalable events to be economically executed by people who want to play Catan. These kits form the core of the materials used in 2013 and 2015 to set world records for the most people playing in the same game at the same time: 922 in 2013 at Gen Con, with that record being broken in 2015 with 1,040 people participating in the event at Essen. A kit contains materials for six players. Three maps accommodate two players each, micro-perfed cards form the resource decks, and development decks. Die-cut cardstock player pieces are provided as opposed to wood. A micro-perfed deck of dice is provided to take the place of dice. Every thing you need for six players and all for $20.00. The rules are nearly the same as regular Catan, with the addition of ships providing players the opportunity to create trade routes up to 30 segments long, and slightly different rules for robbers and knights. No monopoly card. Have more people? Just acquire more kits. Support materials for organizers are available, including a document for organizers, a video for rules instruction, and a timer/turn and Number software exists to assist in running larger events. A new way to play Catan, maybe with one thousand of your closest pals."
Fun Fact: Morgan Dontanville, CCO: "We are building a life-size sheep for photo opportunities at conventions. We are playing around with the color; currently we are debating whether we want it to have blue, green, red wool. Right now it is being carved out of Styrofoam and will end up being a fully-painted fiberglass sheep with a secret hatch in her belly for fun costumes."
Costa Rica pre-released at Origins and will be released in July. This is an exploration, set collection, and push-your-luck game. Players explore the rainforest of Costa Rica, looking for animals. There are six explorations starting around a hex tile board with five tiles per side (61 tiles of the 72 available are used per game). Each player has one explorer in each group (pawns in their own color). On a player’s turn they take on the role of expedition leader and may determine which tile to explore next, flipping it. Tiles may have one or two animals on it, and possibly a threat. The leader is first to decide if s/he wants to keep the tile s/he just flipped; if not, the choice moves clockwise to the next explorer. If a player takes tiles, that player also removes their pawn from the exploration. If no one takes the tile, the expedition leader flips another tile, adjacent to the last flipped tile, and can now choose to keep or pass all flipped tiles so far. If one threat is revealed, play continues as normal; if a second threat is revealed, the player’s turn ends and that player must take back their pawn and discard the threat tiles, but may keep any remaining tiles. The more animals collected in one type, the more points the group is worth. Players also gain points for collecting a full set of the six animal types.
Fight for Olympus will be released in July. This is a two-player game co-published with Lookout Games as part of the Lookout two-player line. It's a head-to-head card battle game with six areas of conflict in three different areas of play. One area is a tug-of-war battle with a 7-point swing, i.e. the player who gets to 7 points wins. The second area allows players to win tokens to help pay for cards. The last area allows players to pick up another card at the end of their turn (normally two cards, this bumps it to three). Players play cards on their side of the board, paying costs by discarding cards or tokens, and taking any actions as indicated on the cards, then the cards are evaluated in order. If a card is played across from an opponent's card, it starts a battle. The alternative way to win is to have six cards slots filled at the start of a turn.
Fun Fact: Even though the rights to Catan were sold to Asmodee earlier in 2016, Mayfair continues to manufacture the game and its expansions/extensions for Asmodee. At full speed, more than 1,500 games an hour come off the assembly line in Skokie, Illinois!
SiXeS pre-released at Origins and is set to release in July. It is a party game for 4 to 40 players. There are six rounds; the game lasts about 20 minutes. There are three types of rounds. For two of the rounds there is a card with a category; players write down one or more words and, depending on the round, they may want to match or not match their opponents' answers. The last type of round is a lightning round. The card has six categories, and players write down one item for each category that must match an opponent's answer.
Fun Fact: Ralph Anderson, who currently works for Eagle-Gryphon and is the designer of Chimera (a Tichu-like three-player game) lost the Tichu game against me and my awesome partner Zev Shlasinger (formerly "Z-Man", now working for WizKids). To be fair, his partner Ken Hill (Rio Grande Games) had to leave partway through the game, so Stephan Brissaud (Iello) took over; he wasn't quite as exprienced at Tichu...
Schotten Totten: This reprint/reboot is due to be released at Gen Con. There will be new art and will be fit into the mini games series (small white box). The rules will actually be the Battle Line rules.
Oceanos is slotted for a Gen Con release. This is a new Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders) set-collection game with an original drafting mechanism that may be played in 30 minutes. It is set in the ocean. Players build their environments during three rounds of play: one at the ocean surface, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. Submarine customizations may be purchased each round, providing different strategies, e.g. more periscopes allow the player to draft more cards (increase hand size).
Fun Fact: IELLO licensed King of Tokyo to a mask company called Trick or Treat Studios. They already made Kong (the albino monkey in King of NY) and Pumpkin Jack (from the Halloween expansion, pumpkin face with witch hat).
Quotes are from Sean Brown, (a.k.a. Mr. B), President of Mr. B Games.
Spurs: Legends pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "The final expansion to the Spurs: A Tale in the Old West system. Spurs: Legends adds two female characters and a bunch of new challenge tokens as well as the introduction of the new Bandit Canyon Mini Game and the Train Heist! Fans of Spurs will find these challenges to be much tougher than previous challenges and will add hours of new content to try out!"
Prospectus pre-released at Origins, with a full release July 5th. "In Prospectus, players are apprentice-level mages who earn their tower rent by trading potions in the underground Kriztus potion market. Using their powers, they can peer into their crystal balls to predict prices and make their fortunes. But beware! Their prognostication is not perfect, especially when rival wizards cast spells to advance their own agendas! Meanwhile, the greedy, power-mad High Council demands potions as well. A timely sale will make a recipe fashionable, and raise its price in the market, but if the council does not get what it wants, they will retaliate, by telling the townsfolk that the potion is nothing but fizzwater and newt juice. The mage that is able to earn the most money through cunning investments, shrewd spell-casting, and lucrative sales to the council, will be the most successful potion trader and win the game! Heck, maybe you can even pay off your tab at the Drunken Dragon Inn..."
Fun Fact: "My Fun Fact this time is about Spurs. Originally my niece was going to unveil the first Female Character in a very big way. (She was working on a pilot for HULU set in the world of Spurs!) She has since been accepted to a big film school and that project is on hold, but it was such a cool opportunity for the game. We decided to do the Legends expansion to fill the void of women characters in the game as our last installment of expansions for the game. Never say never though, if my niece ever gets that pilot, it will be hard to stay away..."
The Boss pre-released at Origins, to be released July/August. This is a third in series of games orginally published by Blackrock Games (France), brought over to the North American market by Blue Orange. The most popular game in the Blackrock line of games, it's a mafia-themed bluffing and deduction card game.
Vikings on Board will pre-release at Gen Con, to be released August/September. This is the next game in the Blue Orange Games big-box series, which includes New York 1901. This is a familyweight viking-themed worker placement game by Charles Chevallier (Abyss). The game includes 3D ships (fully assembled) and viking minis. You need area majority to control a ship.
Fun Fact: In New York 1901, the artwork is based on historical postcards of real skyscrapers in New York. Additionally the four legendary skyscrapers were, at one time or another, the tallest buildings in the world. Check out these beautifully illustrated and interesting designer's notes by Chénier La Salle.
Piratoons was released in June. Stephen Buonocore: "Players are trying to build the biggest, baddest, best pirate ship on seven seas." There two major parts of the game. First turning a "chest" of tiles over and, in real time, placing pirate meeples on parts of the ship for an area majority. Players have a minimum of 15 seconds (timer) but they can go until one says stop. Then, after pieces are collected, the remaining pieces either "sink to the bottom" (larger pieces) or are auctioned off in a closed fist blind bid. Players score for sets of pieces, e.g. people, flags, etc. as well as how "pretty" the ship is (i.e. certain pieces are next to each other).
The Dragon & Flagon will be released at Gen Con. Designed by Geoff, Sydney, and Brian Engelstein, the theme is fantasy tavern brawling. You play one of nine fantasy archetypical characters who can throw mugs & chairs (wooden pieces), pull the rug out from under characters (paper rug), swing from chandeliers, cast spells, overturn tables (cardboard), fight with weapons, and roll barrels (wooden)... all in a 3D tavern environment. Players play cards to "program" two turns ahead. Cards contain movement, attacks, and special abilities, which are customized per character. Successful attacks gain reputation points. The player with most points at the end of game is the winner.
Fun Fact: There are at least a dozen Easter eggs hidden on The Dragon & Flagon game board. Examples include some rats looking down at a cat, a cask that has a Stronghold logo, and a wanted sign posted in the tavern, showing a picture of Stephen Buonocore, President (...and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer) Stronghold Games.
Space Planets released April 2016. This is a tactical dexterity game in which players roll a large die, hoping to land it on a planet card in a 3x3 grid of cards. Planet cards each have a star point value and may also have a special effect (positive or negative). The game end is triggered when one player has collected five cards; the round is finished and the player with the most star points on their cards is the winner.
Go Cuckoo! is to be released August/September. It's a dexterity game in which players start the game with the same number of cuckoo eggs. The bottom tin of the game forms the base of the bird's nest. Players take turns drawing up to three bamboo-like sticks, with colors on each end that may or may not be the same color. They must stop if the ends match, in which case they try to use it to build the nest. Once placed, the player may try to put one of their eggs in the nest. If the egg falls in the can they must take an egg from the player with the most eggs; if it falls outside the can they take the egg back, in either case their turn ends. If they successfully play their last egg, they get to try to place the cuckoo bird; if they do so successfully they win the game.
Fun Fact: Lea Culliton, HABA USA, has been invited to attend and exhibit HABA games at the upcoming American Library Association (ALA) annual conference to speak to librarians about incorporating games into educational curriculums.
Artana is selling the "Best Damn Gaming Coins Ever" including seven new sets of coins: two English sets (Anglo-Saxon, Old English Kings) and five Asian sets (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Mongol). They also sell the "Best Damn Gaming Money Ever" including three new sets (US Presidents, SciFi Credits, Fierce Women). All of their monies are interchangeable. These new sets were released at Origins. The cost is $6 per pack of coins, with the jumbo pack including 6 coins, the large 9, medium 12, small 15, and tiny 18.
Corrupted Kingdoms will be a Gen Con release. Players each control a corporation of evil monsters. The objective is to infiltrate the fair senate of the realm in order to pass nonsensical, destructive legislation. The corporation that does this most successfully will be rewarded by their special interests with ridiculous, unnecessary luxury goods that make the destruction of the entire realm well worth it. (Description from Nils Herzmann.)
Fun Fact: Corrupted Kingdoms is a collaboration with a first-time designer, Raymond Chandler III. Raymond has a degree in video game design from Full Sale University.
The Lairs Kickstarter launched during Origins; it's slated for a Q4 2016 release. Patrick Roach, Sean Cutler, Zack Brown are the designers. This is a dungeon crawl with mini card games (encounters) in each chamber. For example, a duel may include a short trick-taking game of a couple rounds. It has asymmetric game play. First there is a build phase to find an artifact then becomes asymmetric dungeon crawl.
Fun Fact: All of the illustrations in Lairs were originally designed for a children's picture book about the end of the world. (There is a reason it's now in the board game.)
Sample artwork from Lairs
Stay tuned for Part 2, including food (yeah, I can't believe I didn't put it in Part 1 either!), The Dice Tower, and more!
This is a no-shipping math trade; all trades are to be completed at BGG.CON. If you are unfamiliar with math trades, they are pretty awesome. It's basically trading on a big scale: lots of people and their lots and lots of games. Your old tired games go in and bright shiny new (to you) games come out! What could be better? The process is a bit complicated but nothing the average geek can't handle. For newbies (or those who need a refresher) there is a wiki page plus info available on the math trade thread itself. Everyone who wants to participate adds their games to the big math trade Geeklist, they look over the list and make up a want list, *magic happens* (this is where some algorithm runs to create the actual trades), results are posted, and finally the happy math traders seek the recipients of their games at the convention, each receiving games in return (not necessarily from the same people).
The math trade starts up early, around the beginning of October, with the Geeklist closing at the beginning of November, followed by want lists, then results around the 10th of November. A trade date/time is listed on the BGG.CON schedule but traders are free to locate people earlier during the con. This year's results were down quite a bit from the previous couple years with 520 total trades...still quite a lot! My husband usually participates, but this year he didn't get his act together on time. (Well, we did go on two trips in October plus had a big Halloween party, so he had good excuses.) Hopefully next year!
The virtual flea market is such a great idea! You can list your to-sell games online, then bring only those that sold to the convention! This is especially helpful for out-of-towners, who have to lug games a long way that possibly may not sell, i.e., at the traditional flea market. You may participate in both the virtual flea market and the math trade but if you do, list them on the math trade first, then once it has concluded add the un-traded games to the virtual flea market. A date/time is on the BGG.CON schedule, but sellers/buyers may meet up beforehand if desired. There is a lot more information on the Virtual Flea Market page.
The flea market is a frenzy of geek selling and buying! Get there early to get the best selection...or later if you don't want as much temptation. I made a few awesome buys, including a copy of the Spiel 2014 limited edition black Lectio (formerly Lexio) for $80 (not so much a "bargain" but a great hard-to-find-at-least-in-the-US addition to my game collection; it's available from South Korea but shipping is costly). This year something went wrong with the cooling system - the room was SO HOT (although that didn't stop me the other throngs from shopping).
BGG had a store set up near the entrance to one of the exhibit halls. Unfortunately for me, there were a lot of games from Asia. I spent almost $300 in that stupid little store! UGH! What are you doing to me?? Such temptation...and on imports that are hard to find in the U.S.! (Note: BGG doesn't make a lot on the games because they are imported.) I'm complaining, but I wouldn't give any of them up. They also had many copies of the giant 2015 Board Game Advent Calendar, which already sold out in the online store. I really wanted one, but it was just too big for the plane (plus my husband rather drew a line after the nearly $300 I already spent). Boo.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Mary Dimercurio Prasad
Check out Part 1 for the illustration of me that Debbie drew on my badge — so cute!
As of this writing, there are 5,781 games in the BGG Library. During the convention, there were 10,821 checkouts of 1996 unique games over the course of five days. The average checkout length was 4.1 hours. Note: This doesn't include the Hot Games that were checked out continuously during the entire convention. (Information provided by Scott Alden.) The top ten are listed below but the full list is available.
Fun Fact: (Eric Summerer) 86% of the silly puns at the end of the Dice Tower Podcast are submitted by listeners on the BGG forums. The rest are Eric's fault.
Once again, The Dice Tower did a live recording, but this time as part of Board Game Breakfast's hundredth show! If you want to skip ahead to the good part, I'm at 31:08. During the show, we discuss Chris Handy's Pack O Game by Perplext. The games are the size of a pack of gum — perfect for travel or just to play while waiting for your food at a restaurant.
L to R: June King, Ravindra Prasad, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jeff Ridpath playing some of the Pack O Game titles by Perplext
L to R: Tom Vasel, Mark Zielinski, Mary Dimercurio Prasad discussing Pack O Game
There are many special events at BGG.CON. Here are just a few of them. Check out the full schedule for more information.
This video tells it all...
(I think I'm glad I went to bed early.)
Ack. I missed out. I didn't plan ahead (no partner) plus spent too much time (money) in the exhibit halls. The event is held over two days, a group stage on the first day then a bracket stage on the second. Two days...it might even be too much Tichu for me. (HA!)
I haven't been to one of these yet but hope to make it one day! There were over a hundred games auctioned off; it looked like a great list! Plus it's for charity, so you can actually feel good about buying more games!
Game Show and Trivia
The Game Show is so popular that they run it twice. Teams of four compete on a massive scale. The "Know Limit Trivia Game" is described as a Poker-Trivia hybrid (no-limit betting). Fifty people play elimination style, betting on their knowledge. Prizes.
A new Wild West room premiered this year. They allowed ten players in the room for up to one hour to solve the room's puzzle. Eight time slots; free to attendees.
Seems to be very popular, but I'm not running around to look for clues. I have enough trouble trying to figure out whatever my husband has done with the clues (i.e. messes) he has left around our house.
Try out prototypes at Unpub's Proto Alley, enter one of the many tournaments, join in the Spiel-a-Thon trivia charity drive, attend a panel with game industry biggies, meet up with other first-timers, learn how to sell your game design, the list goes on!
L to R: Ravindra Prasad, Tom Lehmann, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jeff Ridpath: giving Tom ideas on his new prototype
Exhibit Hall (Part 2)
Here is a video I shot going through both exhibit halls. This is the first time I used this video camera off the tripod — I didn't realize how much motion blur there would be, but I think you can still see quite a few of the games and stuff pretty well. Plus the music is fun. You may want to read the exhibit hall stuff in both parts before watching as much of what is mentioned is in the video.
Bomb Squad – Recently released. Bomb Squad is a highly thematic cooperative game that builds on the Hanabi mechanism (i.e., you cannot see your own hand of cards) to provide a tense new experience: join the Bomb Squad! Help program a robot to navigate a building, rescue hostages, and defuse bombs in real time. Since you cannot see your hand of Command cards, you'll have to help your partners figure out which cards to play. The game is turn-based, but a timer app counts down in real time... Every ten minutes a bomb will go off unless you diffuse it first! Rescue as many hostages as you can, diffuse the bombs, and save the day!
Colosseum – Deluxe reprint upcoming. Colosseum is a classic game of auctions and set collection in which you'll attract spectators to your events to please the Emperor and earn wealth and glory as you seek the title of Grand Impresario. Watch for the TMG reprint with new art, and the "Emperor's Edition" packed with upgraded components, coming to Kickstarter in early 2016.
Fun Facts: Among the TMG staff, languages spoken include English, Tagalog, German, and Serbo-Croatian. Rumors of foam sword fights in the office have NOT been exaggerated. And finally, the Utah team is looking forward to a company outing to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening day (and Seth is looking forward to joining them on that outing!)
I Hate Zombies – To be released in February 2016, 2-12 players. This has a rock-paper-scissors game mechanism with a twist that makes for a fun party game. The humans have different powers, e.g., the Miner can throw dynamite, but if a zombie throws anything but scissors, the Miner deals one wound to all zombies; otherwise the Miner is infected.
Munchkin Marvel Edition – To be released April 2016, coproduction with USAopoly. This all-new Munchkin game fuses the classic card game fun of monster-slaying and role-playing with the most iconic characters from the Marvel universe. Munchkin Marvel Edition comes complete with villains (monsters), heroes (allies) and custom S.H.I.E.L.D. Identification Cards.
Dice City – U.S. release at BGG.CON (released at Spiel). One of the "hot games" at BGG.CON, Dice City allows players to customize their game board by purchasing cards to go in their city, i.e., their grid of cards showing die faces across the top and colors that match the dice down the side. Dice are rolled each turn to determine which actions will trigger. Thus if a four is rolled on the red die, it will be placed in the corresponding row and column, allowing that action to trigger. Default starting cards are printed on each player board. The expansion, Dice City: All That Glitters is scheduled for release April 2016.
Greedy Greedy Goblins – To be released February 2016. Designed by Richard Garfield. Played in rounds, it a real-time game in which players flip tiles with one hand (reminiscent of Galaxy Trucker) and may put them in one of eight mines (cards) around the table. Each player has three goblins in their own player color, which they will place in mine to lock it.
At the end of a round, players collect their mines and start revealing tiles, doing what the tiles dictate, e.g., gems give points, monsters eat gems, minions let you draw cards, torch played face up allows the player to reveal another tile in that mine played face down to not use the effect, or dynamite - tiles have one stick or two sticks: one stick doubles treasure, two sticks triples, three or more blows up the mine. Players may also choose to place a goblin on guild tile to get a card, the tradeoff being that they give up potential mine scoring that round. The first person to 100 (or 60 for four players) points ends game.
Ghostbusters: The Board Game – Premiered at BGG.CON, released November 11, 2015. This is a scenario and campaign driven cooperative game for 1 to 4 players based on the movie. The game includes some cool miniatures, such as Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Characters grow but challenges become greater. Each character has a role to play in the party, e.g., a healer that cleans slime off well, a best runner, etc. Objectives include things like closing gates to prevents spirits from getting out and depositing ghosts in the Ecto-1 to create a buffer between our world and the spirit world. Every scenario has a unique gate effect. There is an online scenario customizer/randomizer. They also have a forum where players can post custom scenarios.
Fun Fact: At their booth, Cryptozoic promoted Ghostbusters: The Board Game with marshmallows. If you beat the scenario, you got one marshmallow; if you didn't you had to eat two.
The Big Book of Madness – To be released mid-December 2015. This is a cooperative deck-building game in which players take on the roles of student wizards who find an ancient book in the basement of their magic school and foolishly open it. Instead of really cool spells they find a book of imprisoned monsters. They must reseal the book page by page while avoiding the "creep of madness".
Fun Fact: IELLO started as a Magic: The Gathering single card reseller. It was called "CARTAGOGO" which would translate into "CARD-A-PALOOZA." Cedric and Patrice, the founders of IELLO, met at a game store, playing Magic in Nancy, France. IELLO USA is partly a virtual company in the cloud; they basically try out every new app or type of technology possible.
Porta Nigra – U.S. premiere at BGG.CON, to be released January 20, 2016. Players are master builders; they move around the board building different sections of the city Porta Nigra. The game includes a rondel action selection mechanism. This is the first game in the "Great Designers Series".
Stronghold 2nd Edition – Release date February 2, 2016. This is a two-player castle defense board game in which one player plays the human defenders in the castle while the other player plays the evil hoards trying to assault the castle. Game mechanisms include card actions (both sides) and random cube draws.
Fun Fact: It took six years of badgering Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games to get Stronghold the board game into the Stronghold Games catalog. It was Stephen's holy grail game.
Wyrmwood Booth, makers of beautiful wood gaming accessories!
Neuroshima: Convoy – This is a two-player standalone asymmetric card game, set in the Neuroshima Hex universe – a post-apocalyptic world in which machines won the war. One player plays the machines and one player plays the humans. The machines have started a convoy traveling to destroy NY. There are five cities along the way. The machines are trying to destroy each, then finally NY for the win, but they cannot advance until they have defeated the humans in each city. The goal of the humans is to delay the machine player until his deck runs out.
My Happy Farm – To be released first quarter 2016. Comparing the new version to the Polish edition: updated the graphics and card layout, revised the rules.
Fun Fact: Eight out of nine people in Portal Games wear glasses and seven out of nine wear beards, "so if a blind dwarf shows up at the door, she's hired".
Far Space Foundry – Released at BGG.CON. Far Space Foundry is a card-driven worker placement game with a rondel element. Space management is important; you want to optimize space in your warehouse and freighters. The unique part of the game is that it plays in two distinct phases. The board and components are double-sided. In the first phase of the game, players are collecting resources and working towards the second phase of the game, which is played on the other side of the board.
Fun Fact: (Justin Schaffer) During the development of Ophir we were making prototypes with some of the final art of the board and the temple pieces, and when I placed the first temple piece on the board, I noticed that part of it spilled off of the board. At first I was really worried and was freaking out because there was no way we could ask or afford our artist to make any changes, but after looking at it closely I discovered that it made the temple pop off of the board and added this very cool 3D effect that has become one of the selling points of the game. (Author's note: To clarify, the stacked temple cardboard pieces are large, part of the temple overhangs the board.)
WWE Superstar Showdown – Released at Gen Con 2015. This was one of the premium giveaway games at BGG.CON. WWE Superstar Showdown is a very thematic, card-driven miniatures game played on a game board. Each team is trying to pin the other through card tactics. Your deck of cards represents your health/stamina.
Star Trek: Ascendency – To be released Q3 2016, for 3+ players, ages 12+, time to play 2+ hours. The game will be released in time for the 50th anniversary of original Star Trek series. Thematic 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) empire building game set in the Star Trek universe. You represent one of the factions, e.g. Federation, Klingons, Romulans. The Federation has just discovered warp 1 technology. There is no physical board per se; the universe is built/grown as you play and explore. The game contains miniatures, cards, dice; it's a free format game on an epic scale. Expansions planned.
Fun Fact: Gale Force Nice started as a game accessories manufacturer in 1998; it was the first in the industry to use a laser cutter/engraver. They actually bought the first one because the founder's wife wanted to build bird houses.
Fuse – Previewed at BGG.CON, release date December 4, 2015. This is a real time cooperative game for 1 to 5 players. The premise: Players are the crew of a spaceship that has been boarded by hostile aliens who have planted bombs throughout the ship. Players must defuse the bombs by solving dice puzzles before ten minutes are up or the ship is destroyed. The game is supported by a free iOS and Adroid app that represents the ship's computer, Anita, which counts down the remaining time using voice cues as well as some random flavor comments.
Apotheca – To be released early 2016, 2-4 players, ages 10+, play time 30-40 minutes. This is a partial hidden information game in which players use apothecary abilities to craft three potions. They do this by hiring apothecaries who give them certain abilities that allow them to manipulate the market board (tiles) in order to create potions (patterns).
Fun Fact: Anita, the ship's computer in Fuse, is named after Renegade Game Studio's vendor liaison to retail stores; the likeness is based on the game designer's wife.
Chronicles: Origins – On Kickstarter February 2016. This is a new 4X legacy civilization game, designed by Dirk Knemeyer (Tesla vs. Edison) and Rob Daviau (Pandemic Legacy). Artana plans to release at least five games in the series, one a year, to create an entire history of a civilization. From one release to the next, players move from era to era evolving their civilization, with Stone Age and Bronze Age games to be released in Chronicles: Origins.
The goal of the Stone Age game is for players to lead a primitive tribe into the next age (and of course survive). It is semi-cooperative in that if the tribe dies, all players lose. The Bronze Age game is a competitive game in which players fight to become the leading city, using military, technology infrastructure, trade, and culture. The tribes created in the Stone Age seed the cities in the Bronze Age.
Apollo XIII – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released January 2016. It is a historical card-driven cooperative game that recreates the tension and stress of the Apollo XIII mission. All event cards are based on real life events.
...and then we held hands. – To be released January 2016. Previously print-and-play, also published by LudiCreations for Spiel; the U.S. release will be by Passport Game Studios. This is a two-player cooperative abstract strategy game about the players' (in the game) relationship. Players cannot talk to each other and must resolve "emotions" of the relationship (cards) in order to come together at the center of the board while in a balanced state (track).
Skyway Robbery – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released December 2015/January 2016. The goal of the game is to acquire the greatest reputation amongst your fellow thieves. Players put together a team of criminal specialists, a la Ocean's Eleven, and visit exotic locales to steel their greatest treasures. Set in the steampunk world of Gaslight Empire. This is a cutthroat, card-driven, programmable action, set collection game. It's a beautiful production with delightful artwork.
Area 1851 – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released December 2015/January 2016. This is a worker placement, set collection game. Players play tinkerers and local inventors in the old west, combining alien, settler, and native American technologies in order to enhance their own wealth and prestige. The goal of the game is to have the highest reputation gained through collecting cards with matching symbols on the edges in order to create unwieldy ludicrous contraptions.
Fun Fact: Game Salute originally started as a news and review support site for the tabletop game industry. Over time they've grown into a true publisher, with titles created from the ground up, e.g., the games listed above. Game Salute has run more successful Kickstarter campaigns than any other tabletop game company, with the folks from Kickstarter bringing that fact to Game Salute founder Dan Yarrington's attention during a meeting. They have had over one hundred successful campaigns on Kickstarter.
Trickerion: Legends of Illusion - Pre-released at BGG.CON, to be released in December 2015. Trickerion is a competitive Euro-style strategy game set in a fictional city inspired by the late 19th century. Players take on the rolls of rival stage illusionists as they strive to become the city’s greatest magician by acquiring the most fame points.
Spirits of the Rice Paddy - Pre-released at BGG.CON, to be released in December 2015. Players compete as rice farmers tending their paddies by using oxen to build walls and remove rocks, ducks to eat harmful pests and fertilize their fields. Weeds must be controlled and water conserved. Produce the most rice to win.
Fun Facts: The art for Arcadia is by Kim Smith, a children's book illustrator at tuckedaway.com. The game came to APE as a fantasy village-building game. They morphed it into a Mars colonization game, then eventually settled on amusement park building. APE's development team worked on Spirits of the Rice Paddy with Philip duBarry for about 2.5 years before considering the game "ready". After playing a Trickerion prototype during the Kickstarter project, APE knew they had to co-publish the game with Mindclash Games.
The closing ceremonies is when you can actually get an idea of just how big BGG.CON is. This year people came from 44 states and 14 countries. This was the same number of states as last year, but a few more countries were represented.
Crowd during closing ceremonies
The big prize drawings are done during the closing ceremonies; stacks of games, donated by publishers and designers, are given away. Every year one lucky attendee gets to go home with a beautiful, hand-painted Crokinole board. Ryan Johnson, illustrator at Ol' River Studios, did the artwork on this year's board. Check out his BoardGameGeek Art.
Ryan Johnson holding up the Crokinole board with his artwork
In the image below, Kevin Wilson is on left (see Part 1, the section on Fantasy Flight Games, for a card with his image). Of course that's Aldie at the mic. Until next year...
BGG.CON was held November 18-22, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport in Texas. The location is super convenient unless you accidentally fly into Love Field Airport (when SOMEONE, cough...snoozefest...cough, makes the wrong flight arrangements).
This year early-bird registration opened in March at $95 per person, with regular registration in April at $120. Attendance this year was about 2,800 (compared to last year's 2,750). This has pretty much maxed out the hotel. There are no plans to expand the convention further, but rather to grow in other ways, e.g., by adding the Spring Con and Cruises.
We weren't able to attend in 2014, so I'm not sure if this is something new: The "_25" room on every floor (e.g., 225, 325) was reserved for board gaming. Along with the quiet gaming rooms and other spaces for gaming, the convention doesn't feel crowded even though there are a lot of people attending. The downside is that you may not run into your friends quite as often, so you may have to make "play dates" in order to get together. Texting was a huge help...except for the couple I got where it listed the phone number but no name. Awkward!
L to R: Tom Lehmann, Ted Alspach, Toni Alspach — Bézier Games Booth
Designer Tom Lehmann was at the Bézier Games booth signing copies of Favor of the Pharaoh. Ted is so tall, his wife Toni has to stand on a chair to match his height. (It also doesn't help that she's rather height challenged.)
A Note About Images...
Once again I decided not to bring my professional camera, instead opting to use the one on my iPhone. This was mainly for convenience since I already lug around a video camera and computer. Ugh. The photographer inside me died a little bit at seeing the above image — and I can't even blame Ted this time! Although this one is probably the worst of the bunch, the lighting in the game rooms and especially in the Exhibit Halls is TERRIBLE. Most images came out too yellow (even after adjusting color), containing both hot spots and overly dark patches. Sigh.
The First Fun Fact!
Fun Fact: (Provided by Jeff Anderson, BGG) "Halfway through the convention (on Friday) we had to go back to my house/hangar to meet a container shipment direct from Essen, containing four pallets of MegaCiv and ten pallets of Advent Calendar (which will soon be available in the Geek Store. The Advent Calendar, not MegaCiv)." Editor's note: Mary submitted this report on Dec. 2, and the Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 has already been made available through the Geek Store and sold out. Sorry! —WEM
Last month on a trip to San Diego, my husband and I used Uber for the first time. It is MUCH less expensive than taking taxis. During BGG.CON, we ended up using Uber for almost all our forays to restaurants (and getting to the right airport). Most rides were excellent, definitely better than many taxi rides I've had...with the exception of one ride where the driver must have had one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator, resulting in much lurching throughout the ride (blah!). If you use a friend's link, both of you get a discount on your next ride (like $15). If you don't have Uber friends and want a link (or if you just want to be nice!), PM me or my husband. We'll get one to you!
In the app, you can click on the type of vehicle you would like. For example, we took the Uber XL with five people so we would have extra space. It costs a bit more than the regular Uber but definitely not as much as taking two smaller vehicles.
All attendees received several free games! The earlier you were in line, the better your choices, of course. Since I didn't want to wait for hours, we played some games then lined up around 3 p.m. when the wait was only five minutes. Some people camped out all night. Many people brought games to play while in line. Check out the video! There's a quick shot of the prize table games in there, too.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi, writer, illustrator, and all around great gal, was kind enough to draw a little sketch of me on my badge. She also drew one for Henning Kröpke...then bombed my photo (below). Henning was helping to promote 504 in the Stronghold Games booth, representing 2F-Spiele.
Illustration by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Debbie illustrating Henning Kröpke
This year we didn't get out as much as in previous years. I didn't even make it to Hard 8 (sigh). I did get to a few places though, including Taco Diner and Babe's. (Mouth is watering just thinking about them!)
We went out to eat with some of the Splotter folk, Jeroen Doumen, Bianca van Duijl, and one of their friends, Ragnar Krempel. The Aldens are foodies (like me!), so I asked Michelle (a.k.a. Mrs. Aldie or simply the "Queen") to recommend something fairly close. She recommended Taco Diner, which happened to be a place they had taken my husband and me (plus others) after one of the conventions a few years ago. I had the special: chicken fried in waffle batter wrapped in a soft corn tortilla with bacon and syrup topping (plus extra syrup on the side). It was interesting... The flavors were good but unfortunately the batter soaked up too much oil, making it very heavy. I couldn't eat much of it. The fresh guacamole and queso blanco dip with brisket were excellent, though (It probably didn't help that I had eaten a lot of the appetizers and loads of chips to start.)
Saturday night I was invited to go to Babe's Chicken Dinner House with some geek buddies. (Thanks Tom McCorry for driving!) This is one of our favorites. We got there around 5:30 p.m., almost peak business time, especially on a weekend. They don't take reservations and won't put you on the wait list unless you are there in person. The wait was going to be 45 minutes to an hour, plus there was a group of 30 ahead of us (ugh!). On top of that, the kitchen was backed up about 40 minutes or so. Part of the reason the food here is so good is because it is made fresh, the trade-off being it can take longer to get your food. We were trying to get back before the 7 p.m. ceremony (raffles!) so we decided to order to-go. We all ordered the chicken fingers, hoping this would simplify things (and they sounded good). Since we had some time, we found a table on which to play Tichu. (The table was outside and a bit cold but it worked.)
When the food was done, we each received a big bag with a large box and smaller bag inside. The small bag had containers with salad and dressing in it, plus honey-mustard dipping sauce for the chicken fingers. The box had 12 to 15 good-sized chicken fingers (!!), along with 8 oz. portions of mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and creamed sweet corn. You definitely needed two hands to get into the box. We hopped in Tom's vehicle and were soon on the road back to BGG.CON.
The food smelled divine, and by now we were all really hungry. None of us could wait to eat. Tom, who had ordered extra biscuits, which came in a separate bag, kindly offered the biscuits to anyone who wanted one, in trade for one once we got back and could break into our boxes. I declined but the others each had one along with Tom. I managed to get a hand in under the box lid to grab a chicken finger. It was sooo good! It didn't need sauce at all. The guy next to me saw me then did the same, followed by the guy in front. Tom, who was driving, was the only one still eating biscuits. Eventually he must have heard us crunching (the car was silent except for the sounds of munching) because he yelled "Are you guys eating the CHICKEN?!" The guy in the front seat had to stop eating to dig out some of Tom's chicken fingers. Heh.
The Hot Games area in the main board gaming room is where you can play the latest releases. The games in this area included:
Every attendee is given a Geek Buzz code with their badge. Geek Buzz is a live meter of what's buzzing during the convention. Attendees may "like" as many games as they want. The top ten are listed below (preceded by the number of "likes" as of November 30, 2015) but the full leaderboard is available as well.
In one of the exhibit halls there were four booths that would change each day. Mainly these were reserved by small independent game companies. When at BGG.CON, be sure to stop here every day to see what's new.
One of the Indie publishers, Vile Genius Games Inc.
Mystery! Motive for Murder – Released at BGG.CON. Mayfair worked with Masterpiece (PBS, out of Boston) to create this game. Edward Gorey did the artwork. Among other things, he's famous for his B&W art in The New Yorker, authoring and illustrating The Gashlycrumb Tinies, illustrating Christmas cards, and illustrating TS Elliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (on which the Broadway show Cats is based). He created promotional artwork for Masterpiece, which was also used in the game.
Mystery! Motive for Murder is not a deduction game. The rulebooks contain several game variations, one of which is an intro game for non-gamers, playable as a full game but more simplified (i.e., a gateway game). The full game rules introduce new elements in layers. It also includes a solo game. In the game, each player is a detective interviewing suspects via tile-laying to try to discover the motive through connections/relationships. Players gain points for interviewing. Usually the most points are gained by interviewing the prime suspect, i.e. for being the "closer". In the full game, players play a generic version of detectives based on PBS mystery series, e.g., Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. Three cases are played. At the end of each case, the murder victim is dead (out of the game) and the prime suspect goes to jail. The player who earns the most motive points wins the game. Bruce Glassco, the game designer, also created Betrayal at House on the Hill.
Grand Austria Hotel – Just released. Produced in conjunction with Lookout Games. Players are hotel owners trying to attract guests. Dice are rolled and placed on action spaces. Players choose an action space and carry it out; the number of dice on the space determines how much the player gets: resources (food for the café), staff for running the hotel, rooms, or money. Customers come into the hotel café looking for certain food, in the form of cubes. Once an order has been filled, the customer can go to a room if one is available; the color of the customer must match the room color. Rooms are in a grid of colored blocks. Fill contiguous blocks of the same color to get money, points, or emperor points (i.e. fame of the hotel to attract the emperor). Best with two or three players.
Fun Fact: The characters pictured in Rickshaw Run (a Catan Geographies Scenario) are real people. They formed a rickshaw team that went across India for charity. Characters from the game and their real life counterparts: The Story Guy/Pete Fenlon, CEO of Mayfair; The Viola Player/Pete's wife Olivia Johnston; The Fixter/Ron Magin; The Jobber/Ron's wife Cathy Doherty; The Instigator/Claus Teuber's son Benjamin. Some of the others are from the KOSMOS game company. The Spark and Puck are good friends of The Instigator. Unfortunately, near the end of the race there was an accident; Ron and Cathy’s rickshaw was hit by a truck; Cathy suffered the worst of the injuries. Fortunately both are doing well now. The overseeing charity Adventurists organized the rickshaw run; Childaid Network was chosen as the partner charity.
The Gallerist – Released in October 2015. This is a worker placement game in which each player is an owner of an art gallery. Players discover artists, purchase their works, promote the artists to raise their artwork values, sell their works for profit, and promote their artists in the international market – all in an effort to gain prestige and money to win the game.
Loop, Inc. – Released at BGG.CON (along with Dexikon and Fleet Warfside). This is a time-travel game by Scott Almes. You work for a time-travel agency called Loop, Inc. and visit historic events. The game is played in three rounds with three actions per round. The actions are used to obtain materials needed to equip your time-travel ship(s) for the specific time period(s) you want to visit. The game is all about planning – programming each day. Each day repeats, so you use the previous day(s) actions plus three new actions to be able to launch your ship(s) to different time periods.
Terra – Released at Spiel 2015; U.S. release end of November 2015. This is a follow up to the SDJ winner Fauna, both by Friedemann Friese. The main difference between the two is that Terra is general knowledge whereas Fauna is specifically about animals. In Terra, some simplifications were made to the rules, e.g., easier point calculations. The game length is always six cards (English version) and it has both imperial and metric measurements (imperial on one side of the board, metric on the other; both measurements on the cards). There are two difficulty levels vs. four in the non-English version. It also deemphasizes some of the Euro-centric questions (e.g., fewer questions about soccer). Party Game.
One Night Ultimate Vampire – Previewing at BGG.CON, releasing in January 2016. What's new: Everyone gets a "mark of clarity". Different characters may exchange these in the night, for example vampires can turn another player into a vampire; that player still retains their original role ability. There are fourteen new characters, which may be combined with the original One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Now you can have games where werewolves fight vampires fight villagers in a three-way battle.
Fun Fact: Each One Night game has been tested over five hundred times.
The Prodigals Club – Released at Spiel 2015. This is a modular game with three modules. Players may choose to play with any two, then once familiar with these play with all three. One of the modules is about losing money, a là Last Will – you may even replace the module with the game itself! Another module is about losing connections in high society. The last is about losing elections – i.e., you want to ruin your political career. Players need to focus on each module because the one that performs the worst is going to be the one who scores. There are seven total combinations.
Next year there should be a release for Alchemists that adds another deduction element to the game. CGE also plans to release new cards for Through the Ages.
Fun Fact: After Vlaada Chvátil designed Through the Ages and Galaxy Trucker, he brought Petr Murmak from CGE three co-op prototypes, one sci-fi and two others. Petr asked him to work on one of the non sci-fi prototypes since they had just released Galaxy Trucker – he didn't want people to think of CGE as specifically a sci-fi game company. This was how well he listened: Vlaada came back with only the sci-fi game fleshed out. It became Space Alert.
Mow Money – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released in December 2015. Mow Money is a card game in which each player owns a landscaping company trying to bid on lawns to mow. Companies each start with a push mower, then invest money to buy newer lawnmowers and bid contracts. The object is to undercut the competition and earn the most reputation points. The game scales well with the number of players (via more or fewer neighborhood cards holding contract cards).
Garbage Day – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released February/March 2016. This is a dexterity balancing game that comes in a cool green plastic garbage can (the type Oscar would love!). Players in the game are roommates. Of course no one likes taking out the garbage; rather the roommates are stacking garbage on the lid. Garbage is represented by cards, each with two small holes near the top. The trick is you must be able to look through the holes and not see another piece of garbage (card). If the garbage falls, that player collects it on their room card. If you get too messy, the other roommates kick you out (i.e., you lose the game). Action cards may allow you to, say, put garbage in another player's room, forcing that player to stack that garbage on the can immediately.
Fun Fact: During a demo of Coconuts at the Mayday Games booth at the Hong Kong Toy Fair, a guy came up, grabbed three or four coconuts, popped them in his mouth, and walked away. The demo came to a complete standstill – a stunned silence with "did that really happen?" looks on their faces.
Castellion – Released at Spiel 2015. This is a new standalone tile-laying game set in the Oniverse. Players try to stave off nightmares by forming various pieces of their castles (walls, keeps, towers).
Fun Fact: Zev (the Z-Man) gets asked to settle "debates" often: He is asked which is correct, "Camel Up" or "Camel Cup". Even when he gives the correct answer, the person for "Cup" doesn't often believe him. The Camel Up: Supercup expansion certainly didn't help.
Mombasa – U.S. premiere at BGG.CON, to be released by early December 2015. This game has a unique card play mechanism and a heavy Euro feel. There is an area control element to the game, plus player interaction involving direct impact on opponents and their decisions. Players are investors trying to manage their acquisitions of various corporations while developing their diamond mine shares and maintaining profitability in their own businesses. It takes place in the late 1800s on the African continent.
Spellcaster Potions – Due to be released first quarter of 2016. The game is for 1-4 players, ages 14+, play time 15-20min. This expansion to Spellcaster adds potions to modify play, e.g., more power plus the ability to create confusion and disrupt player strength.
Fun Fact: It took Dan DiLorenzo only seventeen years (and thousands of attempts) to beat his brother Frank DiLorenzo at his own game, Overthrone. HA! He was finally overthrown. (Of course it took that long for Dan to comprehend the rulebook.)
Helionox: The Last Sunset – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released early December 2015. Helionox is a movement-based deck-building game with varying player powers. Each player has an architect that allows her to flexibly use its powers as she sees fit, e.g., if she needs money, she adds tokens to the card (when empty) to get some money. One token is removed per turn. There is a slight cooperative element in that events occur each turn on center planets. The planets allow players to visit for a bonus, such as deck thinning. While a planet is being affected by an event, the bonus is unavailable. Players on the same planet could agree to defeat the event, splitting the points and making the planet's bonus available again. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game.
Posthuman – Previewed at BGG.CON, to be released early December 2015. Posthuman is a post-apocalyptic survival game in which players compete to be the first to make it to the last human city. Characters may level up their attributes and learn new skills. The game can change mid-stream when any player takes on too many scars, turning them posthuman; this changes their goal in the game to stopping the human players from getting to the fortress. The first human to the fortress wins the game. Posthumans can win if they change all human players into posthumans, in which case the last one changed loses and everyone else wins.
Fun Fact: From Sean Brown (a.k.a. Mr. B): "Three years ago at Gen Con I had the honor of having one of my close friends Aaron with me at the show. This was great because he used to get me into Gen Con for many years prior, and now I could return the favor. He came to the booth to work one morning wearing a sweet Pac-Man lanyard for his badge. I instantly fell in love with it, walked over to him, took it off him, and put it on. I then poked him in the chest, and told him that this was like when we were kids on the schoolyard, and used to get our lunch money taken from us, only now I was the bully and he worked for me and it was my lanyard because I got him into Gen Con. He never asked for it back, and to this day I wear that lanyard at cons, especially ones that Aaron attends with me!"
Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest – Pre-release at Spiel 2015, to be released in the U.S. in December 2015. This is a Dominion-style deck builder. The maids decide to open a beer hall. The goal is to sell and drink as much beer as possible without becoming drunk. There is a push your luck element in that as you drink more (draw cards), you increase the possibility of getting drunk (i.e., drawing a drunk card).
El Alamein – Just finished on Kickstarter, mid-2016 release. This is the sequel to Barbarossa. This version takes place in Africa with anime school girls trying to take over cities in Africa. Players may take cities from each other and re-take them, creating a tug-of-war mechanism.
Fun Fact: Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest is the first game in the Tanto Cuore line that was developed in the U.S., by a U.S. designer (with help from their "professional beer maid", Nadja – who incidentally has a card in the game). The others were done in Japan by Arclight Studios. All the beer maids in the game are actual people from Essen. The promos are photos of them posing like their card characters.
Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania – To be released in December 2015, previewed at BGG.CON. This expansion has a double-sided board with UK on one side and Pennsylvania on the other. The UK side is all about technology cards. Players build rails as usual but have to gain technologies to build, e.g., across water, longer trains, etc. The board has a ten train route worth forty points. Pennsylvania has a stock market element. Routes have symbols; when you build, you choose one symbol stock market share card. At the end of the game the people with majorities get points.
Quadropolis – To be released in the second quarter of 2016. For 2-4 players, takes about 40 min. Each player is a mayor who builds a city. You each have four architects numbered 1 to 4 and a grid for your city. There is a main board with building pieces. Use your architects to move building pieces to your city, following certain building rules. Play four rounds, then score for how high your towers are, adjacency, etc. depending on how the buildings have been activated. Pollution and energy management are part of the game. There are two levels from which to choose: classic and expert.
Fun Fact: The four characters on the Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom box are based on the Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows. The artist likes to illustrate and caricature things from other parts of his life that interest him. The actors on the box are based on: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kelly Reilly, Jeremy Brett, and David Burke.
Jumbo Jets – Q2 2016. Expansion number two for Jet Set. This expansion adds extra cards, jumbo jets that stay on the board as you use them, and hotels. When you get a flight card that goes to/from your hotel location, you add a guest to your hotel. Players start with four hotel cards and may play the cards in front of them to attract guests for points and income. Charter flights give you cash when you complete their paths. City bonuses: each city starts with a disk; the first player to visit that city gets the disk plus a bonus. Bonuses get better as the game goes on.
Echidna Shuffle – Q3/4 2016. 2 to 6 player game, designed by Kris Gould, play time 15 min, ages 6+. This is a family game in which you want the echidnas to pick up your bugs and deliver them to stumps of your color. Each player has three stumps and three of one type of bug they must deliver e.g., butterflies, grasshoppers, ladybugs. Echidnas are not owned by any specific player. The paths are one way on the board; echidnas move via a die roll.
Fun Fact: Kris Gould, designer of Echidna Shuffle, was walking through a store (Archie McPhee's), when he came across a plain cardboard box that had "12 Echidnas $16.95" written in Sharpie on it. He couldn't resist buying it (no game in mind...yet). At a zoo in Wellington, NZ, Kris saw echidnas running around their enclosure along paths, each in one direction; they had overpasses and cross paths, but were in a line following each other nose to tail. This is what gave him the idea for Echidna Shuffle.
Fury of Dracula: Third Edition – Released just before Halloween. Several improvements over the previous version have been made. Combat has been totally re-"vamped" – it used to be dice/card driven, now it is simultaneous card play. The turn structure has changed to day/night/Dracula (formerly day/day/day/night/night/night/Dracula) resulting in a lot less downtime and a shorter game. Encounter cards contain more information (as opposed to the chits that were used in the other editions) resulting in less rules referencing. Train travel has changed; it used to be a die roll, now you take a train token that allows you to know your move in advance, removing some of the randomness from travel. When a hunter is defeated, it is now transported to the nearest hospital (rather than to a specific one). The map and cards were revised to make things more balanced and streamlined. The new edition keeps all the stuff players loved in the game but improved the experience.
Warhammer Quest: the Adventure Card Game – Previewed at BGG.CON, releasing soon. The game was inspired by the original miniatures board game by the same name. It's a fully cooperative card game that may be played as a single mission or in a series as part of a campaign. The game also has RPG elements, for example: upgrade character abilities, get better equipment, use dice to resolve action abilities.
Fun Fact: If you look closely at many Fantasy Flight titles, you might find current and former employees pictured or illustrated. The Whizzard Netrunner card is designer Kevin Wilson. Kevin was a special guest at BGG.CON 2015; you can see him in one of the closing ceremonies photos in Part 2.
7 Wonders Duel – Released at Spiel 2015. This is a standalone two-player game. It contains more decision making and more tension than 7 Wonders. There are three ways to win.
Colt Express: Horses & Stagecoach – To be released early December 2015. The game comes with little wooden horses. The player meeples start with the horses (although horses don't belong to players). This version allows players to decide where to start on the train, giving players a lot more options. A player must take a horse to get to the stage coach. The game also allows players to take hostages, which gives them money but also slows them down.
Fun Fact: The microphone at the center of the main gaming hall was used one evening by a woman announcing "Whoever has had T.I.M.E Stories for over five hours, please bring it back to the library."
Treasure Hunter – Released at Spiel 2015; U.S. release beginning of December 2015. This is a family friendly drafting game by Richard Garfield. Treasures range from 1 to 20 and -3 to -8 in points. There are three locations with two treasure cards each, plus a goblin cave with three goblins to face. The game is played over five rounds. Players draft a hand of nine cards. Draft cards contain Heroes (1 to 12) for specific locations, special action cards (e.g., alter totals, negate cards, double totals of certain color hero cards), guard dogs, and coins (straight points). Try to win the high treasure cards, while avoiding the negative. Succeed against the goblins or lose coins.
Liguria – Q2 2016 release; the German version was shown at BGG.CON. The general idea is to garner the best paint with which to paint a fresco in the cathedral. The object of the game is to get the most points. Liguria, for which the game is named, is part of Italy on the Ligurian Sea. In the first phase, players place buyers on a track to determine player order, number of tiles to collect, and number of coins to receive. Next, in player order, they collect tiles, then collect/draft cards, which contain actions, movement, and cubes to go in front of their harbors (which other players may retrieve). Cards have a red (negative) or green (positive) number. Ideally the numbers need to add to zero at the end of the game. The penalty for each negative is -5 points. Finally, players sail and take actions. Islands may be conquered (using sword tiles); paint cubes may be gained on that island if the player still owns it the next time around. If a player stops at his own harbor, he delivers the cubes he collected; if he stops at another player's harbor, he may drop off scrolls, representing diplomats, for points at the end of the game. Island owners also gain victory points at the end of the game.
Fun Fact: At Spiel 2015, Richard Garfield stopped by the Queen booth to show them his prototypes but the unknowing scheduler sent him away due to a full schedule, asking him to come back the next day. This caused a bit of a stir!
To be continued...
Stay tuned for Part 2: flea markets, library games, The Dice Tower Live at BGG.CON, a video tour of the exhibit halls, more new release information, and more fun facts!
Some of The Dice Tower guys at BGG.CON
Special thanks to Jeff Anderson for providing information and statistics about BGG.CON!