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News Bits: 1/21/2013

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Another week jam-packed with news. Here it is:

Z-Man Games announces new version of Pandemic [Link] Well, this video is Matt Leacock, the designer, doing the announcing, but it coincides with the release of a Pandemic Facebook page. Leacock mentioned two new roles and a new board with big pawns. I assume (or, rather, hope) that this means a bigger game board, reflective of how awesome Pandemic is. Z-Man Games reports that they are also overhauling the On the Brink expansion and will sell an upgrade kit to make the new version compatible with the old Pandemic. (The upgrade kit will also contain the two new roles. Huzzah!) There is a new expansion coming this year as well: In the Lab. The new edition of Pandemic will be available in February.Days of Wonder joins the Kickstarter parade with Small World 2 [Link] Smaller publishers worried about bigger publishers entering the Kickstarter ring have one more to worry about. This project seems to fall more in line with Ogre, though: a large, exuberant homage to a great game that would be impossible to produce without accurately gauging interest. I, for one, am hoping for Small World (and, really, any good board game) on Android (which has been announced as a stretch goal for $300,000). If you have questions about the campaign, Derek Thompson of MeepleTown has a good interview up with the pertinent people at Days of Wonder.

7 Wonders: Wonder Pack images released [Link] You can see the Great Wall and Stonehenge at this link; there are a few other images buried in the thread on BGG here. The Great Wall looks versatile and awesome, but…no points! That really changes the strategy up. I’m getting really excited for this one.

WizKids previews The Lord of the Rings dice-building game [Link] I’m still not sure about this one. I really didn’t like Quarriors, but for some reason, this one looks better. Maybe more thematic? (Especially as you “progress”: the preview page says more dice are available as you quest, and the elves give you gifts, and so on.) I’m also usually not a big fan of movie tie-in games, especially where Lord of the Rings is concerned. (The movies are decent, but I think they get the tone and emphasis of the books wrong.) Time will tell if this is any good.

How to make an awesome prototype gameboard [Link] Phillip duBarry (Revolution!, Kingdom of Solomon) details his experience in creating a good-quality prototype game board for his upcoming Kickstarter game Family Vacation. I may have to try this with our own Ticket to Ride variant board

Seventeen artistic takes on classic board games [Link] Some of these are really cool looking, but many of them don’t seem very user-friendly. Oh well. Cool looking is often enough.

GamerChris posts his best of 2012 [Link] Another hat in the ring for best of 2012. I like the categories he uses and his explanations of his choices. (You can see our best-of list here.)

GeekInsight of Giant Fire Breathing Robot discusses the “cult of the old” [Link] Many gamers–and bloggers are especially guilty–get caught up in what’s been called “the cult of the new,” favoring the new, hot games over older ones. GeekInsight cautions against going in the opposite direction, of being a board game hipster. I can see both sides here. In writing for this website, I’m often pushed into playing new games, and for that reason, I sometimes want to play older games more times before moving on. But ultimately, I agree with GI’s point: it doesn’t matter whether a game is new or old but whether it is any good. Age isn’t a guarantee of quality.

Matt Thrower of Fortress Ameritrash writes about board game writing [LinkHe says that after reading video game criticism, news, and reviews, the sorry state of board game writing is clearer than ever. And to a certain extent, it’s hard to dispute what he says. I work with words for my day job, and it’s hard some days to navigate the waters and find the good stuff. I’ve tried, in my own modest way, to improve things through my reviews, but I know I don’t always succeed. (Deadlines are deadlines, after all, and I sometimes settle for “good enough” rather than taking the time necessary to write something that’s good.) In any case, this is worth a read. I’d love to get your take on the piece as well.

Reviews in review [Elk Fest, Dominare, Tenka: All Under Heaven, Munchkin] Some good reviews I found this week. I was completely unaware of Elk Fest before the review, and now I’d like to track down a copy. Dominare looks interesting as well. Tenka and Munchkin (both on our site) are older games with new reviews.

Kickstarters of Note
We’re hitting another wave of lots of good stuff on Kickstarter:

  • Hegemonic: Another epic space game. This one looks pretty good, and I’ve liked Minion’s track record in the past. The buy-in is high at $69, but this includes the print-and-play files early. This has already been funded.
  • Formula E: An elephant racing game from Bruno Faidutti and Clever Mojo Games. This has beautiful art and really looks like a great production. The Kickstarter window on this one is short, so you should act soon. $45 buy-in ($20 if you just want the elepheeples).
  • Crokinole: Wait, hasn’t that game been around for ages? Well, yes, but Mayday Games is Kickstarting their newest line of Crokinole boards. (You can read my review of their last line here, which looks much the same.) Mayday is also offering several accessories, like a carrying case and a clock (for when the board is hanging on your wall, obviously). $95-100 gets you a board; $150 gets you the whole package.
  • The Dice Tower: Season 9: The Dice Tower is looking to up its coverage of board games this year. They have some sweet swag for contributors, mostly promos and, you guessed it, dice/dice towers, but also some dinners with the hosts. Various pledge levels.
  • Small World 2: There are some sweet rewards here to get the new iPad (and hopefully Android–at $300,000!) version of this game going, including a designer version of the board game and expansions. $15 gets you a digital download of the game (starting out only on iPad).
  • Compounded: This is the fourth game from Dice Hate Me Games, this one about combining elements into chemical compounds. The look, feel, and theme is appealing to me. $42 gets you the game.
What I’m Playing
I hope to make this a regular segment of the news posts, but we shall see how successful I am. In any case, here’s what I’m playing:

  • Lost Cities: I picked this up for next to nothing in a trade in December and thought I’d give it a try. Some friends of mine had recommended it to me, so there was that. And since that time, my wife and I have been playing this game quite a bit. I’ll try to write up a full review sometime in the future, but for now, I’ll say that I was caught off guard by the tenseness of the play.
  • Qin: A review of this game will definitely be coming soon. It’s a new game from Dr. Knizia, a pretty tile-laying abstract (think Acquire but with less theme and without stocks). The gameplay in this game is super simple (it can be explained in two minutes or less), but it offers tense choices. I’m really enjoying this one. Did I mention it’s beautiful?
  • Chronicle: This is one of the smallbox Z-Man card games. Chronicle is a trick-taking game with three suits where each card has a special ability. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s chaotic. It’s awesome. I don’t win often, but I enjoy the experience each time it makes it out. But I also don’t fault @Futurewolfie for hating it…

Completely Unrelated Awesomeness of the Week
One of the BGG admins detailed the process of tiling his game room floor…with medallions. The final result is a little much to take in, but it’s also awesome.

Also, as a bonus, I give you this story of the return line at Target. Designer games aren’t for everyone, it would seem. Though really, in this woman’s defense, some of the designer game rulebooks are hard to parse–even for those of us who have lots of experience doing so. And I don’t think it’s a lack-of-intelligence issue (as some of the comments have trended in the discussion on BGG). A lot of it is a matter of engagement and investment: some people are willing to engage more in board games while others prefer different forms of entertainment. And that’s okay. Also, games are on clearance at Target, apparently. (Mine was cleaned out, though. I’ve never had luck with their board game clearances.)

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

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