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News Bits: 4/14/2014

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Well, I’m back from my travels. But the fact that I’m back from my travels means I was traveling, and I was out for most of last week without the means (or, honestly, inclination) to keep up with stories. While I could write reams and reams about the conference I attended, it’s not board game related. So, here is this week’s paltry sample of NEWS. Next week’s offering will be fuller, I promise:

The Opinionated Gamers report on the Gathering of Friends [LinkAlan Moon’s exclusive annual gathering is usually a place of testing the new Essen releases for October. The Opinionated Gamers website has several writers who regularly attend, and they have been covering the event as is their custom. If you care about being on the cutting edge of information, you’ll find it here.

W. Eric Martin (BGG News) previews Tragedy Looper [LinkI don’t usually link to previews of games that aren’t offered by publishers, but this game looks too interesting to ignore. In the game, players are time travelers trying to stop a mastermind from carrying out his or her plot and changing the course of history. I think time travel is a fascinating concept to explore in a board game, and I can’t wait to check this one out.

 Kevin Nunn (Rolling Freight) reports on Uncertainty in Games [LinkNunn offers this book report examining Greg Costikyan’s book.

Games Precipice looks at what makes a game inviting [LinkIn this column, they talk about familiarity and purpose providing a good bridge for new players. This is worth your time to read.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Andrew’s anniversary reflection, Rampage review, Dawgs of War review, Guide to writing rulebooksSome good stuff this past week, and this week we’ll have more. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Coup: Reformation: Yes, the Catholic vs. Protestant expansion to the original Coup has been rethemed to the Resistance universe, and it is striking. The campaign includes the cards, yes, but the best part of this is a new box that’s larger designed to hold all of the Kickstarter bits from both the original game and the new one. And between the two, it looks like you’ll have enough cards to have two full games, at least if you get in on the Kickstarter (which includes variant art cards). You can get the full game in the KS too, not just the expansion. This is a steal at $15.
  • Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom: This is the tactical superhero board game experience you’ve been waiting for. It’s set in the world of Sentinels of the Multiverse, and it’s smashing its goals. Also, the video is awesome. Various pledge levels ($100 gets you the game and all the minis, which looks like a great deal, but there are also more affordable options).
  • Blind-accessible board games: This Kickstarter is for some hacks (including card sleeves with braille on them) to make board games more accessible to those who are blind. Various pledge levels.
  • 1st & Goal digital: R&R Games is Kickstarting the digital edition of their popular tabletop football game, and it’s coming to iOS AND Android. (I love when Android gets some love.) Here’s our review of the analog game. Various pledge levels available.
  • The Big Time: This is an auction game set in the world of Vaudeville. The art looks beautiful, and the game has previously been available as a PnP, so it looks legit. $45.
  • Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000: How can you not fall in love with a game with a title like that? This is the newest dexterity game from Mayday Games, and if it’s as good as their others (see: CrokinoleClick Clack Lumberjack, and Coconuts), it will be a hit. $32.
  • Custom dice: This Kickstarter is pretty unusual. It’s to buy equipment for a business that will specialize in creating affordable custom engraved dice. It looks legit and pretty awesome. Various pledge levels

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Star Realms: Didn’t you hear when I said I’d been at a conference? Still, before I left, I was finally able to try two three-player games of Star Realms over a lunch hour. We tried the Raid format, which is two on one. I thought it was going to be a slaughter in favor of the two-player team, but I was wrong, both games. The first game I was the boss, and I went with a heavy blue/red strategy and quickly eliminated one player from the game. The other opponent had lots of outposts and full health, so whittling him down wasn’t an easy task. In fact, the only thing that saved me was my blue cards’ regeneration abilities. This game was a bit drawn out (I felt sorry for the player I had eliminated), but I ended it in victory. The second game I passed the boss mantle to the player I had eliminated…and he beat the two of us soundly, and quickly. He went with a heavy blob strategy (possible because there was so. much. blob. stuff. available), and there was nothing we could do to stop him. I like the raid mode, and I’m eager to try it again. It’s certainly a challenge, but I think winning is possible for the team. (FarmerLenny)
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization: My wife and daughter were out of town for the weekend so I was a bachelor for the weekend and took advantage of it with a full day of gaming on Saturday.  I started off with Civilization, a game that I only get to play a couple of times a year but I love.  We played with both the Fame & Fortune and Wisdom & Warfare expansions.  The second expansion was new to all of us.  I’ll note that I like pretty much everything that has been introduced in the expansions, but man, does it ever add way too many options for a group that doesn’t play regularly.  The game took far too long for my taste as a result.  It probably didn’t help that I picked this game to try out the military route which I have never done before.  I was in position to take out a capital but was stopped cold by a culture player and didn’t have enough time to gather more forces.  I’m glad I got a chance to play but I’ll be more cautious when including all the expansions in the future.  (Andrew)
  • Ginkgopolis: I’ve made a pretty flexible goal to play more of my favorite games this year.  The idea of trying the 10×10 challenge from BGG appealed to me but I’m usually at the mercy of what other people are willing to play so I try not to force my agenda too much.  Fortunately someone suggested Ginkgopolis, the only game in my top 10 that I don’t own, so obviously I took them up on it.  I continue to be amazed at how elegant the design is on this one. (Andrew)
  • Galaxy Trucker: As luck would have it, I also got to play Galaxy Trucker at someone else’s suggestion.  Whenever I suggest Galaxy Trucker it is usually met with loathing and strong opposition.  It is a pretty polarizing game so I don’t get to play it often but when I do I have so much fun.  It’s one of those games that doesn’t line up with what I normally like but it’s such a good design that it just works.  I ended up losing a decent sized chunk of my ship to some lasers in the second round and it was enough to cost my the victory.  One of the other players mentioned that it was gaming karma for being so mean in the previous game that we played (Bruges).  I’m pretty sure that Galaxy Trucker is the only game that can beat me up so bad and still remain incredibly fun because of it. (Andrew)
  • Endeavor: This is another one of my favorite games that I don’t own so I try to suggest it whenever I get the chance.  We played a 5-player game and I got absolutely creamed.  Pretty much everything went wrong in this game.  I tried to pursue a crate (card draw) strategy but got attacked twice in the second turn and pretty much grinded to a halt after that.  To add insult to injury I had picked up 2 slavery cards and had to ditch them when one of the players freed the slaves.  Even though I played an absolutely miserable game and ended up in dead last I still really enjoyed my play.  That’s probably the sign of a great game. (Andrew)
  • Koryŏ: I’m a big fan of Moonster Games mostly due to GOSU.  I followed Koryŏ for a while after it was announced but after reading through the rules I cooled a bit on it since it sounded a tad chaotic for my taste.  This was my first time playing it and I can gladly say that my initial assessment was off, the game ended up having more interesting decisions than I had thought it would.  There’s still a decent amount of take-that interaction that can let you mess with your opponents but it seemed pretty nicely balanced with good counters for some of the nasty cards and a steep penalty for using them.  I ended up really enjoying my first play and am looking forward to trying it again. (Andrew)
  • Railways of the Western U.S.: Continuing in my streak of playing my favorite games I got to play my #2 game, Railways of the World.  We ended up 6 players and decided to try out the Western US map to see how well it could handle 6 players.  I had my doubts but it ended up working really well.  In the game we played I ended up going 5th in the first round so I was getting my pick of the scraps after the best spots all got grabbed.  I opted for a Government Land Grant so that I could make it through the first turn without taking any shares and build a longer connection to start out.  Having seen what everyone else did I decided to go in the corner that was being neglected and tried to stay out of the way.  Shortly after that I grabbed a New Industry to help claim the Passenger Lines (3 different colors) and was able to maintain my lead for the rest of the game.  This was my second times playing the Western US map and I’ll be looking to add it to my collection to provide a good 5-6 player alternative to the base game. (Andrew)

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

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