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News Bits: 2/10/2014

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Here’s hoping the groundhog’s wrong (doesn’t seem to be so far). Here, also, is this week’s NEWS:

An extended preview of 7 Wonders: Babel [LinkOkay, this looks awesome. Babel is actually two expansions in one and adds interaction to the game through players working together to achieve something good or avoid something awful. Looks like it adds to the decision space while still keeping the game simple. I can’t wait to get a copy.

Repos Productions nears completion of 7 Wonders app for iOS [LinkIn case the imminent release of Babel wasn’t good enough news for you, Repos is nearing completion of the new 7 Wonders app for iOS. According to this story, estimates are that it will be in the app store in April or May. This isn’t that exciting for me (an Android user), but one can hope that the game will come to Android soon after (or someday?).

Golden Geek nominee Pocket Imperium under development at LudiCreations [LinkIt seems that getting 4x down to a manageable playtime is a thing now. First there’s Impulse (an excellent game I don’t get to play often enough, sadly). And really, given the overwhelming success of Tiny Epic Kingdoms on Kickstarter, I get it. Pocket Imperium seems more my style than TEK (whose name and fantasy setting are, unfortunately, a slight turn-off despite the rules seeming solid). This will appear on Kickstarter this summer and be available at Spiel (presumably, if all goes well).

Ares Games previews Battle of Five Armies [LinkWith the success of the War of the Ring board game and with The Hobbit movies nearing completion (commercial successes but artistic failures?), the next inevitable step is to recreate the major battle from The Hobbit book. Ares previews what the game will be like in this extended post.

Spirit Airlines CEO viewed through a game of Power Grid [LinkThis is a neat piece in a major outlet. I like it because it doesn’t treat board games like they’re new or foreign. Rather, it uses them as a lens to view the CEO of Spirit Airlines. An interesting article. And look at the guy’s collection! Also, I had no idea this was the business model of Spirit Airlines. Then again, I’ve been on an airplane for two trips in my life, I believe.

Jeffrey Allers (Alea Iacta Est) discusses rhythm in board games [LinkThis is an interesting post on managing the flow of a game, particularly in design.

Rich Sommer lists games played on the Mad Men set [LinkTwilight Struggle? Srsly?

Japan Times features Seiji Kanai (Love Letter, Chronicle) [LinkAnother instance of a newspaper taking notice of board games. Again, this article is notable for its not condescending tone. Also, it’s interesting to read about Seiji Kanai. His design philosophy of more with less is fascinating, but I didn’t care for Love Letter. (I do love Chronicle, though.)

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Ricochet Robots review, The Resistance: Coup review, Flash Point: 2nd Story review, Alchemy preview, Why, Why, WHY?! games need randomnessLots of good stuff last week. (I’m especially excited about Jason’s new series, Why, Why, WHY?!, the second column of which appeared last Friday.) This week we’ve got lots more good stuff coming, namely, reviews. Keep slaying!

 Kickstarters of Note

  • 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.
  • This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us: Another pay-what-you-want microgame from Tasty Minstrel? Yes. One might cry “market saturation,” but they have assured backers this is their last Kickstarter for a while. In any case, it looks interesting, and it’s by the Bamboozle Brothers (Belfort), so it’s worth a look. $3 minimum.
  • Tortuga: This is a new pirate-themed game from the Bamboozle Brothers (Belfort). Looks like Queen’s typical high production values, though the crazed pirate on the cover is a bit of a turn-off. $50.
  • 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.
  • Masters of the Gridiron: This is a football-themed card game with real player and team names. (I don’t know how that works, legally, but that’s not my job.) $25.
  • CMYK playing cards: I’m no graphic designer, but as someone involved in the publishing industry, I can appreciate this deck of cards. I love how the suits are gradients, gradually getting darker. 9 GBP.
  • Scoville: I’ve been watching this project develop with great interest, and now it’s here! Also, Tasty Minstrel has responded to gamer outcry and has incorporated the 5-6 player stretch goals into the base funding. (The stretch goals are now for pepper meeples and a depressed board. Erm. There’s gotta be a better way to put that.) $40.
  • Lagoon: I don’t know much about this game, but it is a much-lauded product of the Unpub program. The art is gorgeous, and the price isn’t too bad. $35.
  • Alchemy: This is a game about making potions and being a cool alchemist. (We also previewed it here.) $25.
  • Games of Art, Fantastiqa, Petite Pastiche: Eagle Games is running a Kickstarter (preorder?) for three rerelease games. These all look like decent new editions. Various pledge levels available.
  • oddball Aeornauts: Perhaps the most portable card game ever? Quick playing and fun for two players.  (Here’s our preview.) $25.
  • Mob Town: This looks like a nice, lighthearted family game…about animal mobsters. $25.
  • Lineage: The Martial Arts Strategy Game: This one looks very nice. You’re a martial arts master trying to pass on your knowledge to your student to preserve your lineage. $39.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Star Realms: Star Realms is a two-player deck-building game with player-vs.-player combat. It most closely mimics the Ascension system (which makes sense–one of the developers also worked on Ascension). I’ve had this game for about a month, but opportunities to play have been scarce since it’s a 2p-only game and my wife hates any game that takes place in space. However, in the middle of the week, an opportunity arose to play the game, and I jumped on it. The first thing to note about the game is that it’s fast. Seriously. The game involves depleting the other player’s authority (life, in Magic: The Gathering parlance) before they can deplete yours. The game definitely feels in some ways like Ascension (a game I didn’t care for), but in most ways, it feels superior. For example, I like how players seem to be rewarded for building a deck rather than just buying cards. (I know my simple depiction of Ascension is probably lacking; this is just how it has felt to me.) Anyway, I played two games over a lunch hour, and I loved it. I tried to play again on Friday’s lunch hour, but instead I was pulled into a game of Ginkgopolis. I really can’t wait to try this one again…and again and again. It has a very addictive quality to it, one I’ve not encountered since I first played Dominion. (FarmerLenny)
  • Ginkgopolis: If I had to choose the game I’m most smitten with at the moment, it would be Ginkgopolis hands down. Ginkgopolis is such a slick design. My goal for this 4p game was to finish within the lunch hour…and we succeeded with minimal prodding from me. All four players knew more or less what they were doing, and we were all building over each other and rearranging districts like old pros. But it was another player who took home the gold prize this week, besting me by 20 points (and the other players by close to 40). He also won this week’s game of Innovation on a special win condition. He is on a roll! (I’ll have to put a stop to it next week.) (FarmerLenny)
  • Kingdom Builder: I found a copy of this for waaaaaay on the cheap on Amazon.de. The only downside is that it’s in German. Nothing paste-ups can’t solve! I modded my copy and coaxed my wife into trying it out on Friday night. I thought it was a pleasant abstract–not too thinky, but interesting enough to keep me engaged. My wife felt…otherwise. She thought it was just plain boring and wasn’t sad when I put it away. I enjoyed this one, and I’m planning to keep it around for the moment. But it’d have a better chance of staying in my collection if it came in a smaller box. Seriously: the amount of game to box ratio is way out of whack for this one. (FarmerLenny)
  • Race for the Galaxy: I really like this game, but I sold my copy a while ago because none of my friends were that interested in playing. (I can understand: you look at the box, and you think, We’re conquering space empires! You play the game, and you realize it feels like nothing of the sort. It’s a “bland” Euro with fancy space artwork. Still–I like it.) I tracked down a copy recently, with the Gathering Storm expansion, because I’ve had more space in my schedule recently for solo gaming than anything. I played four games this weekend against the robot, and I really like the solo play. The rules are kind of confusing at first, but it’s really not too difficult once you sit down to play. The robot feels like a real opponent (except for its sometimes baffling choices–the result of die rolls). Yet despite its often (to me) stupid decisions, I think I only managed to win two of my games. I lost another by a single point, and I lost the fourth by a landslide. (The experienced difficulty level may be a bit beyond my grasp.) I look forward to playing more of this game again–with or without physical opponents. (FarmerLenny)

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

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