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News Bits: 1/27/2014

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Lots of NEWS this week:

International TableTop Day returns April 5, 2014 [Link] I didn’t participate last year because of its proximity to the Easter holiday, but this year the date is bolstered by a few weeks. The International TableTop Day website has a lot of cool resources for organizing meetups and such. Are you doing anything to participate?

Z-Man Games to rerelease Fairy Tale this March [LinkI’ve been interested in this game for a while, but it has been out of print, and I’m unwilling to pay what some on Amazon and in the BGG marketplace are charging. This is welcome news to me, especially because it looks like it will be joining Z-Man’s beautiful (albeit more pricey) new small-box line. I have the new edition of Parade, and it’s gorgeous. Of course, I don’t know if I’ll have need for this one anymore after Sushi Go!, but you might.

Stonemaier Games discusses the aftermath of offering cheap worldwide shipping [LinkThey admit to some mistakes, but really, this looks to have been a mostly pain-free process (unlike, say, the Glory to Rome debacle). This is a good resource if you’re looking to distribute your game worldwide after a Kickstarter campaign.

Kevin Nunn talks about core engagement in game design [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3] This is a good way to filter feedback on your design: what are you trying to accomplish? What experience are you trying to give the player? That’s a good way to judge whether a player’s feedback is helpful.

Couple vs. Cardboard on board game sorrow [LinkI can certainly relate to this. The time I can spend with people over board games is diminishing with the birth of our second child, meaning purchase decisions have to become even more stringent. Is it worth it to spend precious gaming time on bad games? But more than this, I learned at my family Christmas celebration this year that there is some interaction–better interaction–that I don’t think it’s possible to have around a gaming table. Yes, relationships formed during gaming can go deeper, but depth is fostered in other environments. Board games aren’t everything.

Greater Than Games posts update on Sentinels Vengeance and Galactic Strike Force [LinkLooks like Vengeance is arriving soon, with Galactic Strike Force hitting delays. However, GTG in a classy move is upgrading their backers’ orders with a free expansion.

MeepleTown on family games [LinkKevin Nunn posted three criteria on his blog for family games: rules can be distilled to three sentences, components teach the rules, and a dexterity or social component. When these were posted on BGG, there was a good amount of pushback. This post is a response to the pushback, showing that there are some good family games that fit the criteria.

The six types of board gamers [Link] Which are you? What’s missing?

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Zeppeldrome preview, The New Science review, Mars Needs Mechanics review, Why, Why, WHY?! does theme matterLast week we had some reviews and launched a new article series on hot-button gaming issues. This week we’ll have even more reviews, and I’ll review another year of tracking plays on BGG. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Coconuts: I didn’t think it was so, but it turns out I love dexterity games. Click Clack Lumberjack was my most played game last year, and FlowerFall is a continual favorite. This looks like it’s in the vein of those other silly games. Players launch coconuts with monkey catapults. $30.
  • Fresco: Big Box: Fresco was a game I…thought was just okay. But I know a lot of people like it. Queen Games has the Big Box currently on Kickstarter, and it comes with a ton of expansion modules (maybe ones that will help it suit your taste?). It’s a beast of a box with a beast of a price: $70.
  • Space Junk: This project relaunched, but it looks interesting (although maybe similar to Galaxy Trucker?). 39 CAD.
  • Chaosmos: This game looks pretty cool, and I like the theme. $60. (And check out our interview with the designer here.)
  • Spurs: This is a game set in the Wild West. The production looks nice. $45.
  • Tiny Epic Kingdoms: A 4x game that plays in less than an hour? Sounds good to me. I read through the rules on this one, and it looks pretty solid (if a bit mechanical). Still, the artwork is great, and it’s hitting stretch goals like crazy. And it’s hard to beat the price: $16.
  • City of Iron: Experts and Engines: This is the expansion to Red Raven Games’ successful City of Iron. $20.
  • Zombie 15: This is a new zombie game from Iello that looks great (if you like zombie stuff) and plays in fifteen minutes. A hefty price tag at $70.
  • Zeppeldrome: Another zeppelin race? Yes, but this one is programmed movement. It also looks nice and has a low price tag. (Here’s our preview.) $29.
  • Eternal Dynasty: This is described as similar to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which was a console strategy game I really enjoyed. The pieces look great as well. $50.
  • Scoville: I’ve been watching this project develop with great interest, and now it’s here! This is a farming game about cross-breeding peppers and fulfilling orders from Tasty Minstrel. $40.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Innovation: Last week was my first week back to work after the baby, and to celebrate we played a few games of Innovation. In the first game, I won handily–and by achievements, no less. The second game appeared to be going the same way–I had three achievements while the other players had none–when one opponent’s move dismantled my board for a bit. That was the beginning of the end. What sealed the deal was a rookie move of passing a card to my opponent that served to be my undoing. The card let him draw two cards for every two leaves on his board. He also had Reformation, which allowed him to tuck a card for every two leaves on his board. Doesn’t sound that bad–until he splayed. Icons everywhere. He won by achievements, and there wasn’t much we could do to slow him down. This game continues to impress because of the sheer number of possibilities in every game. (FarmerLenny)
  • Coup: I also played several games of Coup last week with the new Resistance-themed deck. I had forgotten how good this game is–with more than three. We played a few games with three, and they were fast, but also not very satisfying. Later in the week we played with six, and it was bluffing goodness on full display. I wasn’t initially sold on the new artwork for the game, but I kind of love it now. (FarmerLenny)
  • Animal upon Animal: I bought this game to play with nieces and nephews, but my wife and I played several games this weekend. It’s a stacking (thus dexterity) game where you’re trying to get the animals to stay on top of each other. The beginner rules are a little too forgiving (my wife knocked the whole tower down, only took two animals back, and then won, which seemed against the spirit of the game), so we played by the advanced two player rules, with all the animals and requiring players to take up to five animals back if any fell. This was much better. I think this would be fun with kids or adults. (FarmerLenny)
  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: I gave this another solo go, and the game went much better this time (even without cheating!). I kept the Castaways scenario goals in mind, built lots of roof, and I was able to beat the scenario with minimal squirming by round 10 or 11. Not too shabby. I’m looking forward to trying the other scenarios. (FarmerLenny)
  • The Ancient World: I’ve always wanted to help playtest a game so when Ryan Laukat (Eight-Minute Empire, City of Iron) asked for volunteers on BGG I jumped at the opportunity.  I didn’t know much about it when I signed up but fortunately it’s turned out to be an excellent game so far.  The Ancient World is a worker placement game that plays in an hour and has placement mechanics that work vaguely similar to Bora Bora but with predetermined worker values instead of dice.  During the game you’re attempting to build up a city and army to go fight terrifying Titans.  Each new building and defeated Titan will attract the surrounding tribes and the player to garner the most favor from these tribes will win.  As with a lot of my favorite worker placement games you don’t have enough actions to do everything you want and are up against constraints making it challenging to build and fight.  There are six short rounds so you have to make the most of every action.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share more in the coming months as the game nears completion.  There’s already the beautiful art that you’ve come to expect from Ryan’s games and early testing is making me exciting for its eventual release. (Andrew)
  • Oddball Aeronauts: I wasn’t able to playtest this one but I did receive an advanced copy so I still feel pretty special.  It falls into a fairly unique category of games that can be played in 15 minutes and don’t require a playing surface.  There aren’t any others that spring to mind at the moment but I’m sure there are some out there.  Either way, oddball Aeronauts is an excellent light and quick 2-player card game where the players use a deck of cards which they hold in their hand for the entire game.  I’ve been able to play it while standing around at the office, waiting between games at my game group, and really any time that I’ve got 10-15 minutes with a willing opponent.  All you need is the two decks which fit nicely in your pocket so you can take it just about anywhere you go and have the possibility of getting a game in.  I love quick fillers with nice decisions and this one fills that role nicely for 2 players.  Look for a preview later this week and the Kickstarter on Sunday, Feb 2. (Andrew)
  • Keyflower: I’ve been on a roll with getting Keyflower to the table, and this time someone else suggested it!  I had a winter tile that scored for having lots of skills so I went after tiles that gave out skills and some other tiles that I could easily upgrade just for the points.  Turns out my town ended up being super popular so I had a lot of people using my tiles in fall and winter.  I was more annoyed at having to pay more to use my own tiles than I was thankful for the extra guys.  I did end up getting a tile in winter that scored guys so at least that helped out a bit.  It was close between me and another guy that moved a ton of Wood on a tile that scored 3 points per wood but my 30 points from 3 sets of skills was enough to put me a couple of points ahead.  I’m finally starting to feel like I have a decent grasp on the strategy but there’s certainly a lot more to explore with this one. (Andrew)
  • Ricochet Robots: This game is more of a competitive puzzle than a strategic board game, but when I finally got it out on the table I found it to be a lot more fun than I expected it to be. It’s quite a challenge to find a path home, and since changing a robot’s starting position by 1 space can drastically alter the best solution, you always have to be on your toes.  While this fact combined with the various double-sided boards means you’ll never “solve” Ricochet Robots, it’ll definitely appeal to a certain type of mind; others may find it too difficult or frustrating to find good solutions quickly. (Futurewolfie)
  • Resistance: Avalon: At my monthly game night we had quite a large number of people; too many for Space Cadets: Dice Duels, unfortunately, but Avalon got a chance to show its face again. In the first round, a struggling Merlin tried to beat back an enemy that scored 2 failed missions, but unfortunately was unable to convince everyone and a bad team went through for a  Minion victory; even if he had succeeded, though, the effort required clearly highlighted him as Merlin.  The second round was much more even, and the Loyalists scored an early win with a clean team.  We managed to figure out enough of the minions and win in the 4th round… even better, Merlin went undetected thanks to the efforts of his wife who convinced the evildoers that SHE knew what was going on. I suppose it helps to study psychology and know a bit about lying.  As for me, I’m learning to teach the game better, to encourage accusation and interrogation early on, and also to encourage voting AGAINST a team when you’re uncertain rather than just passing it through. Fun times. (Futurewolfie)
  • Gravwell: While part of the group split off to play Killer Bunnies, I took a few players upstairs to try out Gravwell. This time around, everyone stayed pretty even for most of the game; I managed to set myself up near the end so that I could play an early card that sent me into the warp gate. A good thing too because 2 others could have won that round and another would have pulled me out of position, depending on card order.  The game continues to hold up after multiple plays, and the more rounds I play the more intentional I find I’m able to be about strategy and positioning. It’s a surprising amount of depth for such a simple, lite, and quick game. And my winning streak continues. (Futurewolfie)
  • Hanabi: The Killer Bunnies game was still running so 3 of us picked up Hanabi.  Only one of us was a new player so we jumped right in, but I hadn’t really played with either of the guys before.  It’s a different experience with different players; they aren’t used to the way you give clues and they interpret your timing differently.  Not to mention different strategies of when to hold on to cards and which cards to discard. We made a couple mistakes but actually did really well; unfortunately, an early discard of a red 1 resulted in an unexpected delay, and a few 2’s didn’t show up til the very end of the deck.  The end result? A measly 18 points. (Futurewolfie)
  • Rampage: Have you heard of Rampage? No? Well, let me break it down: 4 players are dragons in a city built out of cardboard squares stacked on the heads of meeples, 3 levels high. Players flick their dragons around to move, drop their dragons on buildings, pick up and toss vehicles around, and breathe their mighty breath, all for the purpose of destroying the city. And yes, all of these actions are literal. This game simply puts a scoring method to the childhood joy of destroying a thing you’ve built, and it’s a blast. Late at night, the remaining players after everyone else had gone home pulled out this game and set out to destroy the city. The biggest difference between this version and the giant Gencon version I played before: “breath” is a much more viable, and often the most destructive, action you can choose, and saw a lot more table time. The drawback of Breathing is it tends to send meeples flying off the board, which is a bad thing – they have “escaped” and when too many get out of the city, bad stuff happens. Unless, of course, your power is “vacuum” and you can suck all the meeples that fall off the board into your neighborhood when you breath, in which case, let the meeples fly!  It was wild fun and the destruction was fast and furious, as it should be. While the final score wasn’t extremely close (37 to a second place of around 20), the line between points awarded for various things was VERY close and it could have gone any way. The point is: this game is FUN, in the right time and place.  (Futurewolfie)

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

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