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News Bits: 5/6/2013

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Did anything happen in the real world last week? Because there is a ton of board game NEWS this week:

Fantasy Flight reveals X-wing wave 3 ships [LinkStar Wars: X-wing is a game I’m definitely on the outside about, but I know many of our readers care about it, so here’s a link to the new ships soon to come.

Z-Man Games gives info about Pandemic compatibility kits [LinkIt looks like they will be released to coincide with expansion releases and will cost $10 and $5 (for the base and On the Brink kits, respectively). Not a bad price.

Mechanics and Meeples interviews Matt Leacock (Pandemic) [LinkThis interview, primarily about cooperative games, is one of the most interesting I’ve read. I especially liked this bit:

It’s hard to overemphasize this: don’t tell the player how to win. I roll my eyes when I see “helpful hints” in rules. You’re stealing the game from the player! That’s a good tip for teaching too. Present an environment where the player or student is able to succeed or learn given the environment you’ve constructed for them. Telling a player how to win a cooperative game is like telling a student how to solve a problem and then telling them to solve it for you. (Is it any wonder why students find math dull given the way it’s taught?)

Board game pieces are more than their component parts [LinkThis essay, by Quinns of Shut Up and Sit Down, is excellent. He writes about moving from video games to board games and what board games provide. Very good reflection.

H. G. Wells, Game Designer [Link] And he was a wargamer with a penchant for minis. So…he would’ve gotten along great with Jason and Wolfie.

Critical Board Gamer examines setup time [LinkI agree: setup time is very important when considering a game to get or play. I am a huge advocate for lunch games, so I highly value games that set up and tear down quickly but that maximize a play experience within easy setup. My wife and I had quit playing Agricola for a while just because it took so dang long to set up. (We played our first game during a blizzard, and work was canceled for us the next day, so we played eight more times–just because it took so long to set up that we thought we should take advantage of it.)

Theology of Games interviews Kyle Gabhart (Arctic Scavengers) [LinkI’ve really been enjoying Arctic Scavengers lately, so I appreciated this interview with the designer

Go Forth and Game interviews Alan Stone and Jamey Stegmaier [LinkI’ve found the guys at Stonemaier Games to be very helpful in their own blog posts, and this interview offers more good insight into game design, publishing, and Kickstarter.

Jason Tagmire shares lessons learned from Kickstarter [Link] Some good wisdom here, especially about knowing your audience.

New math trade posted on Board Game Geek [Link] I’m sitting this one out, but I do love a math trade…

Top ten two-player-only games [Link] @BGJosh (of Board Game Reviews by Josh fame) recently posted his list of the top two-player-only games. Our lists differ quite a bit, but this might be a good starting point if you are looking into two-player games.

Two Gathering of Friends reports [Mark Jackson, Larry Levy] I wasn’t there, but these reports helped me get a handle on some of the cool games coming up.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Monster Moos preview, The Great Heartland Hauling Co. review, Western Town review, Guide to tableau building] We had a completely full week last week with the news, a preview, two reviews, and the first in our new series of guides looking at individual game mechanics. This week is “Couples Week,” when we’ll be talking about all things two-player games, with three reviews of games designed for two and a guide to good multiplayer games that play well with two. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
Lots of interesting projects this week:

  • Belfort: The Expansion Expansion: Belfort is a fantastic game, and Tasty Minstrel is now Kickstarting the expansion. You can get the game and expansion for $65; the expansion itself is $20.
  • Paradise Fallen: This is a new game from Crash Games.$25 buy-in.
  • Twin Tin Bots: This is the relaunch of a campaign from the designer of Small World. Lots of great miniatures are included, and the game looks fun (RoboRallyish, if you like that). $55 for the game.
  • The Resistance: Coup: I’ve written elsewhere about this excellent game. If you live in the United States, $15 is an excellent price for this game, shipped straight to your door. And it’s already hit several stretch goals. (My review is here.)
  • Creekos: This is a trick-taking game with a Greek mythology bent. The art looks great, and the game looks fun. $30 gets the game.
  • Francis Drake: This game looks really cool, though probably a bit more involved than my typical play groups would allow. The price is a bit steep, but it looks like there are definitely enough components to justify the price. $65 for the game.
  • Galactic Strike Force: This is the new game from Sentinels of the Multiverse creators Greater Than Games. There aren’t many details yet on this cooperative deck-building game, but I’m sure it’s worth following. $50 for the game, $80 for the game with minis.
  • Sum Wars: This looks like Bananagrams for math people. I, personally, love Bananagrams (and math), so this looks kind of cool. $20.
  • Moby Dick: The Card Game: It’s not often that my coworkers are privy to new board games sooner than I am, but one of them recently read and loved Moby Dick and the stars aligned for him to find this. It’s already very much overfunded. It looks a little too thematic (and thus fiddly) for me, and my eyes glaze over when boats are in books, but you may revel in this one. $30.
  • Monster Moos: This is a game of intergalactic cowboys and wrangling various different kinds of cows. The game itself looks very simple and straightforward, and the buy-in is low. $25.
  • Canterbury: This one looks pretty heavy, but I love the theme and art. $60.
  • Railways Express: All those 18xx games are daunting before I even reach the XX, but this one might be more my speed. Then again, it might be too simple. Who knows? Worth checking out at $40.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Ticket to Ride: Switzerland: I got this expansion in a trade recently, and my wife and I played several games this week. The first game she creamed me; I won by a similar margin in the second game. The third game was a much closer contest, and we both ended the game with over 160 points. Switzerland is a tight map with many short routes and lots of opportunities to upset your opponent’s plans. Look for a review this Thursday. (@FarmerLenny)
  • The Resistance: I don’t know why, but I had never played The Resistance with my lunch games group. When I described it to this week’s game chooser as Battlestar Galactica in fifteen minutes, he chose it for our Friday lunch game. The first game there were five of us, and the spies sowed enough confusion to destroy the resistance. In the second and third games (with six players), the resistance rallied and won both times (the third game was very close: it came down to the fifth mission). This game was ideal for this group, and I imagine it will be chosen more in the future. (@FarmerLenny)
  • Nexus Ops: My buddy picked up the new FFG version of Nexus Ops a while back when it first released, but we played it only once and for some reason it hasn’t come back to the table… at least not until now. And that’s not because it’s a bad game; it’s actually pretty enjoyable. It plays a lot like the fleet-building and combat aspect of Twilight Imperium, with certain hexes that produce resources when controlled, and those resources can be used to build more units, and those units can go attack other players to control more resources or complete objectives. There’re a lot of minis, a lot of dice rolling, and it’s pretty chaotic but fun. I pulled out with 3 objectives completed in a single attack, and Bryan kept up with me on a more gradual pace. I went for more of a “large number of weaker units” while Bryan broke out the biggest guns. Blake managed to catch up and things were head to head for the last round, but Mary, our resident gamer girl, managed a come-from-behind victory at the last second. I love the chaotic nature of the game, how everyone is pretty much forced to fight everyone, and how it’s possible to stay in the game even if you fall behind early on. (@Futurewolfie)
  • Smash Up: Smash-Up is always easy to get to the table since it plays quickly, and we threw in the Awesome Level 9000 factions. I still enjoy playing this game and trying out new combinations and new strategies, and so far everything seems pretty balanced. There are combinations that are more directly and obviously powerful, but seemingly weaker combinations can pull out pretty tricky stunts. I tried using both Pirates and Steampunk, both factions excellent at moving around. I had a few great maneuvers, such as when I zepplin’d a Buccaneer over to a base with heavy enemy population and self-destructed him (killing all minions there with power equal to or less than him, which was all other minions), which then sent the Buccaneer back to the base he came from… well, it was awesome. I had some other manuevers set up which would have won me the game, except that the Plants played a card that prevented movement right when I needed to move. But it was a close finish on all sides. (@Futurewolfie)
  • Legends of Andor: I bought this from my FLGS on valentines day as a new co-op to play with my Wife. It’s an epic fantasy story-base co-op with 5 different “legends” to play through and conquer as a team. We took on Legend 3, which we’ve tried before and failed. Our first attempt of the day went sour quickly, and we perhaps made mistakes but also had a lot of bad luck and the castle was overrun by the second turn. With that quick loss, we re-set the game (no small task, given the number of pieces in this game) and made another run. We had a much better set-up at the start and were able to complete our individual tasks before being overrun. Finally, we teamed up to destroy the evil dark mage Varkur, freeing the land from his corruption! After the frustrating losses, it was a very satisfying victory. (@Futurewolfie)

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

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