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News Bits: 11/25/2013

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“It’s the holiday season…” Or at least it’s coming. And that’s probably why this was a slow week. (That, or everyone was at BGG.Con.) In any case, here’s this week’s NEWS:

Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts coming soon [LinkThe news has to be legit this time, since the designer diary was posted on Board Game Geek. Also, Tom Lehman comments that it is in transit now to the Rio Grande warehouses. Alien Artifacts takes Race for the Galaxy in a new direction, beginning a new arc for the game. It may be time to jump back in…

GameWright picks up Adventureland Games’ Sushi Go! [Link] I just heard about (and ordered…) a copy of this game last week, and as soon as I joined the company’s mailing list, I get this news. GameWright does excellent work, so this is sure to be a production to look out for.

Stonemaier Games interviews Brotherwise Games about post-Kickstarter retail success [Link] I had no idea Boss Monster was this successful after Kickstarter (though I do know some people who bought it off the shelf), but there you have it. This is an interesting success story well worth your attention if you’re planning a crowd-funding venture.

Starlit Citadel posts game buyer’s guide flowchart [Link] In case you thought board gaming doesn’t have enough cool infographics, here you go. This is a pretty cool list, too.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon.com [News Bits, Can’t Stop review, Forbidden Island review, Forbidden Desert review, Ten reasons why the best gaming console has four legs] This will be a short week because of the holiday, but we’ll still have two reviews. And this Friday our annual holiday gift guide will appear. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Kings of Israel: This is a cooperative game set in the northern kingdom of ancient Israel. It looks Pandemic-like, and the theme is interesting. $45.
  • DarkStar: This is a space civilization game that looks pretty cool, albeit a bit pricey. $75.
  • Two Rooms and a Boom: This social game smashed its funding goal and has tripled it in the short time it has been on Kickstarter. It looks like a game in the vein of The Resistance and Werewolf. $20.
  • Dreaming Spires: The theme of this one will sound boring to some, but I think it sounds awesome. This game is all about building your college of Oxford and attracting famous scholars. $49.
  • The Manhattan Project: Digital Edition: The Manhattan Project is one of the best worker placement games I’ve played (see my review), and now it’s on its way to iPad and Android tablets. $10.
  • Dark Horse: Rebels and Rogues: This Kickstarter is for the expansion to Dark Horse (reviewed here). Looks to add some interesting bits with reputation. $25.
  • Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age: Tom Lehman’s sequel to Matt Leacock’s Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age is here. It’s very pricey, but might be worth it if you liked the original. (I liked the original, but if this is on a similar difficulty level, I find the price tag prohibitive.) $50.
  • Elevenses: This is a card game about morning tea. I like the offbeat theme and the matching illustrations, though the price for the game is prohibitive to me (one price for worldwide shipping, methinks). 20 AUD for the game.
  • Stak Bots expansion: On Kickstarter is an expansion to Stak Bots. I’ve not played the game, but it looks cool, and if you have the original game, this will add more to it. 12 GBP.
  • Privateer: It seems in vogue these days to cancel, retool, and relaunch Kickstarter campaigns. I’m not a fan of this practice, but it seems to have worked for this pirate game, and the game does indeed look pretty cool. $55 gets the game.
  • Hold Your Breath: Another pirate game, but this time the pirates are silly. Yes, these are the same pirates from Walk the Plank and Get Bit. This time they’re trying to hold their breath the longest in the water. Looks fun and light, and the price is right. $18.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Innovation: I’ve been pretty busy these last couple of weeks (both sides of my family are celebrating Christmas early–like, this past weekend and next week), so I haven’t had much opportunity for gaming, even over the lunch hour. But Friday game day is Friday game day, and this past Friday, my coworker chose Innovation. Only three of us showed up, but it was the best game of Innovation I’ve played. I took an early lead, lucking into a good scoring card. But I had all level-1 cards, and I wasn’t able to advance in ages as quickly as my two opponents. One opponent advanced quickly but wasn’t able to piece together a good strategy from his cards. So the other guy took a commanding lead in the midgame, claiming four of the five needed achievements before he stalled out. In the meantime, I was piecing together a strategy to quickly climb through the ages and take the last four achievements in a sweep. I took three and…the other opponent claimed the other. The only way for me to win, I saw, was to end the game quickly, while my score pile was highest. I had Evolution and Education as top cards on my board which no one else could follow. I filled my score pile with several 8s and then 9s with Evolution, and then I used Education to return a 9 to draw an 11, thus ending the game. It was a close but very satisfying game. It was also the first time I’ve won using the “technical” win. I still love this game. (FarmerLenny)
  • Click Clack Lumberjack: This weekend I celebrated Christmas with my wife’s family. All of her relatives descended on our house–including the nieces and nephews. They were starting to get a little bored in our no-readily-available-TV household, so I suggested we play Click Clack Lumberjack. They took to it right away and were playing like champs–until they got too cocky and collapsed the tree. Still, this was great fun, and confirmed what I had thought earlier about the game: it makes an excellent game for kids. (FarmerLenny)
  • Incan Gold: This has been a favorite of my older niece and nephew’s, and after they kept felling the tree in Click Clack Lumberjack, they requested our traditional game. My youngest nephew (4) also wanted to play, which I was nervous about, but decided to include him as best we could. With some coaching, he did very well, and was even far ahead after the first two rounds. (He turned tail and left, allowing the temple to collapse on the three of us Greedy Guses.) In the third round, both nephews bowed out early, allowing my niece and I to rake in a pile of sweet, sweet gems. I fled a little earlier than she did, and she got a huge payday all to herself before she headed out. And that was enough to seal the victory. I enjoy this simple press-your-luck game, but I’m not sure how often I’d play it with adults anymore. I think this has become a kids-only game for me. But for that age group, it is perfect. (FarmerLenny)
  • Pandemic: In the Lab: My wife loves pandemic, so for my birthday I picked up In The Lab to see what extra challenge and variety the game has to offer. The Lab addition is an interesting twist on the normal lab challenge, although it does add a few finnicky (although extremely useful) rules that can be easy to forget. It shifts focus off of meeting up to trade cards, but it adds a lot more work to accomplish to discover cures in the meantime. We played as 2 roles that were great at managing disease cubes, but we just couldn’t process the cures fast enough. Still, we were only about 2 actions away from victory; so it was close. In retrospect, I just realized we forgot a rule that would have helped speed things up and could have made the difference. So… a little finnicky. But very fun. (Futurewolfie)
  • Dominion: I’ve been making sure to start my monthly game nights with a round of Dominion. This time around I picked up ambassador while my opponent went for the Baron. I did my best to fill his deck with terrible terrible cards, even using Throne Room on Ambassador to pack his deck as quickly as possible. For a while I thought my plan worked; his deck was fat with copper and estates and he couldn’t get the last few provinces while I caught up. Unfortunately all those extra estates were enough to give him 4 points up on me in the final totals. It’s crazy how different sets have completely different strategies. (Futurewolfie)
  • Cosmic Encounter: Have I mentioned I love Cosmic Encounter? In this 6-player game with 3 newbies, things escalated quickly and players basically sorted into 2 teams of alliances. Everyone trudged upward on the colony track, and there were some intense rounds of back-and-forth reinforcements and close ship totals. In the end there was a 3-way victory, although one new player realised after the fact that she could have saved her reinforcements for her own turn, which was next, and claimed solo victory for herself. Still, the new players had a lot of fun, and I love more chances to get this game on the table for its zany, unpredictable fun. (Futurewolfie)
  • Ascending Empires: Our game of the year from 2011 has been away from the table for far too long. It was a 3 player game and 2 of the players were newbies, and used to more conflict-centric games. It turned into the most aggressive game of Ascending Empires I’ve ever played. Unfortunately for the new players, their early aggression tore themselves down while I stayed back and built up my research. When you build up your planets, defense is a lot easier than offense, so my planets were pretty strong and then I snagged the Battleship. Since the other players had spent a lot of time in conflict they had fewer ships and planetary defenses, and I systematically destroyed their fleets and planets for an accelerated victory. Inexperience and some minor rules confusion made the victory a hollow one, but the others still had a lot of fun and are eager to try again. (Futurewolfie)

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

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