W. Eric Martin
• Dutch publisher The Game Master has unveiled the cover artwork for Countdown: Special Ops, its Spiel 2012 release from designers Hans van Tol (who is also the company owner) and Gert-Jan Oomis. Artwork is by George Patsouras, who also did Flash Point: Fire Rescue.
As previously noted on BGGN, players in Countdown: Special Ops are working together (possibly) to defuse time bombs, with the game play being modular in terms of level of difficulty, arrangement of game boards, length of play and play mode: cooperative, competitive, team play or traitor. Van Tol notes that playing time might become modular as well: "Since time is a major factor in the game, we are even testing real-time game play in which the players have limited time to decide in critical situations."
• German publisher Pegasus Spiele has acquired the worldwide rights to Vlaada Chvátil's Pictomania, first released by Czech Games Edition at Spiel 2011. In a press release announcing the deal, Pegasus says that it's revised the game components based on feedback from players and retailers, with a deeper insert, plastic card holders, revised, easier-to-understand rules, and other small changes.
• Small Box Games will release a new version of Hemloch in the first half of 2012. Notes designer/publisher John Clowdus in an Omen: A Reign of War Kickstarter update: "This new edition of Hemloch includes higher quality cards, upgraded wood-composite markers, updated rulebook, and premium box (similar to the new Omen box, but shorter in length)." Here's a short description for those unfamiliar with the game:
In Hemloch, each player has access to his own deck of minions belonging to five different factions: The Courtesans, The Darkened, The Ghouls, The Alchemists, and The Geared. Each turn, players place these minions into one of four locations in the city. Minions grant the players special abilities on their own, but playing Minions of certain factions into certain cities grants the player additional abilities.
Players score points by acquiring Potions and Trinkets (which may also be used for additional abilities at the cost of points) and by placing Influence markers in the various Locations.
• Studio Bombyx will release a French pirate-themed version of Dave Chalker's Get Bit! in Q3 2012 titled Croc!, with the game coming in a fancy-shmancy tin box. Seth Hiatt at Mayday Games, which released the second edition of Get Bit! in English in 2011, says that "Mayday is working with Bombyx to bring a limited tin-release to the U.S. market as well, possibly later this year."
• In other news from Mayday Games, Hiatt says that Lemonade Stand is shipping from the manufacturer the week of March 30, 2012 and should be available in late April or early May.
• Tournay, the second title from designers Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges and Alain Orban – with Troyes being the first – should be available in North America from Z-Man Games in June 2012.