W. Eric Martin
• "Kniffel" is German publisher Schmidt Spiele's brand name for the Yahtzee dice game, and just as Yahtzee has seen a wide number of spin-off titles in the U.S., Kniffel has similarly propagated in Germany, with the latest such title being Kniffel: Das Kartenspiel from designer Ted Alspach, with the game apparently being a modified version of Alspach's self-published Perpetual-Motion Machine. Here's a short game description:
In Kniffel: Das Kartenspiel, players try to create card combinations – straights, flushes, full houses, triples and pairs – in order to place cubes from their supply on their personal playing board. By doing this, they get to draw more cards each turn, hold more cards in their hand, and spend cards more efficiently to add cubes to their supply. The first player to place all of her cubes on her board wins.
The difference between the two games is twofold. First, Kniffel: Das Kartenspiel includes double-sided playing boards (with a blue beginner/family side and a tougher red pro/gamer side) whereas PMM had only a single-sided playing board (the tougher one). Second, in place of the standard 52-card deck, KDK has a special five-color deck with each color having cards from 1 to 13. Alspach notes that Kniffel: Das Kartenspiel will be shown at the Nürnberg trade fair in February 2013 and should be on sale about the same time.
• In other Alspach-related news, he notes that Suburbia is now shipping to customers who preordered the game, while "resellers should be seeing copies show up in the next few weeks". News on his Mutant Meeples is not so good, with Alspach noting in a Kickstarter update that "somehow the boat that MM is on is more than two weeks delayed", which pushes the U.S. release date for the game to January 2013.
• Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games noted on Facebook on Dec. 18, 2012 that "We have started shipping Monster Factory, Spin Monkeys, The Doge Ship, CopyCat, Unexpected Treasures, Power Grid: UK&N Europe, Antike Duellum, Myrmes, Tzolk'in, A Fool's Fortune, Cavemen, and Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion. They will be in stores starting at the end of this week. Due to the holidays, some stores may not have them until next week or later. He noted in a follow-up post that Goblins, Inc. will be released in the U.S. at the same time.
• After years of development, Guadalcanal: Pacific Ocean 1942 – part of Academy Games' "Conflict of Heroes" line of games – now bears a March 2013 release date and is available for preorder on the Academy Games website.
• Days of Wonder's Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 3 - The Heart of Africa from designer Alan R. Moon was released in Europe in early December 2012 and is just reaching stores in the U.S. this week.
• U.S. publisher Funnybone Toys, which launched in 2012 with the arty card game trio of Array, Cubu and Spectrix, has two new titles in the offing for 2013, with the titles first being shown at NY Toy Fair in February 2013. Both releases – Disruptus and Arrazzles – take the same approach as the first releases, combining artistic thinking with light gameplay. Arrazzles, for example, is both a sculpting toy and a game as the metallic-colored cards have varying slot patterns that allow players to assemble them in a variety of ways. Disruptus comes across as a combination of The Big Idea and Apples to Apples. Here's an overview of the game:
Disruptus challenges players to think of new ways to use familiar objects or devices. During the game you'll roll the die, choose the appropriate card or cards, then take one of four actions: Create2, Improve, Transform or Disrupt.
With "Transform", for example, players reveal the top card of the deck, then take one minute to think of ways to "transform" and repurpose that object. If the card depicts, say, a high-heeled shoe, you might imagine nailing that shoe to a door so that people can use the heel of the shoe as a door knocker. If the judge likes your answer the best, you win the round.
For "Create2", players look at two cards, then take elements from each card to create something new, such as combining the two wheels of a motorcycle with a rope to create a double-decker tire swing.