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News Bits: 6/10/2013

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Here’s this week’s NEWS:

Donald X. Vaccarino previews Dominion: Guilds [Preview 1, 2, 3, 4, 5I’m becoming very interested in this set…as I always am when the previews begin.

Alderac hosts Smash Up contest [Link] Smash Up will be featured on this week’s episode of Wil Wheaton’s TableTop. If you can guess the player who will win, you could win a copy of Smash Up and the Awesome Level 9000 and upcoming Cthulhu expansions. (Here are our reviews of Smash Up and Awesome Level 9000.)

Ticket to Ride arrives on the Android platform…FINALLY [Link] It’s about time, is all I can say. Now to do my duty and buy it, just to encourage more developers to follow suit. (For more on Days of Wonder’s rationale of developing for Android tablets, see this Penny Arcade report.)

The Dice Tower launches Board Game University [Stronghold GamesJay LittleZ-Man GamesLaunches…with three episodes right out of the gate! This seems like a great resource. I don’t really listen to podcasts, so I probably won’t report on this too frequently, but The Dice Tower promises new episodes every Thursday.

R&R ships Hanabi [No link] Hot on the heels of Hanabi’s Spiel des Jahres nomination, R&R Games has received their shipment of games from the printer. I heard from them through e-mail last week that they began shipping games on June 5, and games are already selling fast. I was told that a second shipment will arrive in late summer, so eager players might want to move quickly on this one.

Sprocket Games picks up FrogFlip [LinkJason Kotarski’s (The Great Heartland Hauling Co.) dexterity game will see wider distribution through Sprocket if the early-July Kickstarter campaign is successful. Looks interesting to me.

Bruno Faidutti talks cooperative games [LinkHe doesn’t sound too complimentary toward co-op games to start with, but merely because he’s debunking the idea that they serve a better educational end than cooperative games. His bottom line? A game should focus on giving pleasure/entertainment to the player without feeling educational.

Online retailer Thought Hammer to close its doors this month [LinkThought Hammer announced on its website that at the end of June the store will go out of business. Any customers with unfilled orders at that time will receive a refund. This is sad news to me, as I’ve ordered from them in the past.

Conquest of the Empire comes to Game Table Online [LinkAn old game from the designer of Axis & Allies makes its way online. You can find out more info in the linked press release.

Mechanics & Meeples discusses gaming and loss aversion [LinkThis is a fascinating topic. I know I’ve fallen into the camp of hating to lose points (and, even in his example, overbidding for civ tiles in Ra). I’ve not played In the Year of the Dragon, but I have played Agricola: juggling losses in a loss-heavy environment is tough and tense (which is why my wife will only play Agricola when she is in a specific kind of mood–read: not often). The military in 7 Wonders, interestingly enough, does not cause me to be loss averse very often. Perhaps because it is a direct competitive struggle, where I know one player will win and one will lose in this specific battle, I am fine diverting my efforts elsewhere. Anyway, fascinating food for thought.

Hyperbole Games discusses the great game molecules [Link] What building blocks make up a great game? I especially like the first block, “make the players feel clever.” Any game that has a good combo to be discovered will make the game’s coolness skyrocket–even if I’m not the one to discover it. If I’m honest with myself, I think this is why I loved CCGs many moons ago.

The Spiel des Jahres and the Kramer Exception [Link] Tom Rosen of the Opinionated Gamers posted an interesting article about the Spiel des Jahres and its inability to honor designers for their best games, serving almost as a “lifetime achievement” award. Well, at least in the instances he spotlights. He says Wolfgang Kramer is the exception. I think his beef is more the exception than the rule, though I think we can all agree that Puerto Rico should have at least received a special award.

Ten life lessons you can teach your child by stacking the deck in Candyland [Link] The title of this McSweeney’s piece says it all.

Recently on iheartprintandplay [Giant & Titan MiniaturesWhite Dragon MiniaturesWe’ve added giants, titans, and white dragons of all sizes to the growing mix of free printable D&D miniatures.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Interview with Doug Morse, Cinque Terre review, London review, Guide to area control games] Full weeks seem to be more normal around here now that we have four writers, and there was a lot of great stuff last week. This week you can look forward to another interview as well as an extended look at cooperative games through our reviews and guide. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
Here’s what I’ve found of interest on Kickstarter:

  • Promised Land: 1250-587 BC: The theme of this one appeals to me as it seeks to retell the history of ancient Israel from the time of the Exodus to the time of the Exile. 45 GBP for US backers.
  • Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia: This is a worker placement game where dice represent players’ workers. Lots of interesting concepts here, but the story and art are what appeal to me most about this one. It’s already blown through its funding and several stretch goals (including custom steampunk dice). $49.
  • Eight-Minute Empire: Legends: This is a stand-alone sequel to Red Raven Games’ Kickstarter release Eight-Minute Empire. $25 for the game.
  • GameTable Online: Supercharged: Online games service GameTable Online is seeking additional funds to improve their website. Various pledge levels available
  • Giant Dice: Minion Games is Kickstarting giant foam dice. Cheap buy-in and customizable dice and colors.
  • Hunters of Arcfall: This is a new sci-fi bounty hunting dice game. It looks pretty cool. $25 gets the game.
  • Among the Stars: Ambassadors: Artipia Games’ 7 Wondersish game receives a 7 Wondersish expansion. $26 gets you the game shipped in the US.
  • Adventures on the Tabletop: Adventures on the Tabletop is a new board game documentary focusing on board game design. It will look at the design process from pitching to production and already features interviewers with designers like Alan Moon. $15 gets you a digital download/$25 gets a DVD.
  • Council of Verona: This one really excites me. It’s a small-box game (which already have a special place in my heart), and it’s set in the world of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I like the theme, I like the look, I like the price. $12.
  • Princes of the Dragon Throne: I’ve been hearing lots about this game over the past year, and it’s now on Kickstarter. And oh man, is it a beast of a game. Tons of components. This is the rebooted version, with wooden components, a money-back guarantee, and a friendlier, $79 pricetag.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Glory to Rome: I was on vacation for a week (which sickness made a bit longer), so when I was back in the office, we celebrated with a game of Glory to Rome. It was a three-player game, and the start was a little strange: we all had lots of high-cost material in our hands. The player to my left built his Sewer almost immediately. I was dealt some stuff that supported the Legionary role (and I got a Legionary client early), so I pursued a strategy that relied on Legionary. My main goal during the game was not to let the guy with the Sewer get a Merchant client. Merchants are incredibly powerful with a large stockpile, which is what the Sewer allows. By preventing his Merchants, I had a few of my own. It was a close game, but my Legionary/Merchant combos barely paid off. (The neighbor on my right would have won had he ended the game a turn earlier.) I love Glory to Rome. Every time I play it a new strategy seems to open up. (FarmerLenny)
  • HomeStretch: HomeStretch is a horse racing game. It’s an interesting blend of economics and press your luck. In the game players make money by a combination of owning stock in winning horses and betting on winning horses. This was a three-player game, and two of us took the diversification strategy, owning stock in lots of different horses. One guy decided to go deep, owning all the stock in two horses. This made him less likely to get a payout, but ensured he’d get a big payout when his horses won. This was definitely a learning game, not without hiccups, but it was pretty fun. The eggs-in-one-basket approach ended up winning, and I came in third, but it was a good time. I was amazed at how invested I was during the races, which are a combination of luck and choices. All in all, I enjoyed this game and look forward to playing with more people around the table. (FarmerLenny)
  • Ticket to Ride: Asia: I picked this up at my FLGS on vacation, and this was my first time to try it out. My wife and I tried the Legendary Asia side of the board (since we didn’t have anyone to play teams with), and it was a hectic race. The game moves incredibly fast because players must occasionally discard their train pieces, which triggers the end game more quickly. A lucky draw with my last train card gave me the five points I needed for the win. Otherwise we would have been tied. As bummed as I am that we didn’t win with our entry in the map design contest, Legendary Asia was a lot of fun. (FarmerLenny)
  • Cooperative games: It’s been a hefty week-or-so of cooperative games, with Pandemic and Flash point hitting the table. The fires burned twice, with one epic six-player game of Flash Point in which we managed to scrape together our teamwork and pull out a victory, and another two-player game with flames a-flarin’ and no shortage of success. We’re still on Rookie, people, but it might be time to move upward. And despite my insane work week, I managed to squeeze in a game of Pandemic with my wife, using On the Brink of course, with both the Virulent Strain epidemic card option and the Mutation option in play, and this on HARD MODE. It was a tough match that had us jumping all over the world to keep everything under control, and I’m pretty sure almost every city on the board except maybe three or four got hit with a disease cube at least once. In the end we lost, but I was only one turn away from curing the last disease when we ran out of cards. Alas!  (Futurewolfie)
  • Android: Netrunner: I’m always happy to get more Netrunner in, and though my buddy was supposed to land his own core set so we could spend the evening deckbuilding and then testing our builds against each other… his set didn’t come, so we just played. I did get a chance to use my Runner deck I customized (core set only), which I was pretty happy with. Progress slowed for me when I had a number of viruses to install but not enough memory to do so… all my bonus memory resources managed to end up at the bottom of my stack. Fortunately, I was still able to keep making runs against my opponents R&D and score a few points there, and got a big score from the Archives after sneakily trashing a few R&D cards. Watch out friends, HERE I COME. Looking forward to adding in data packs to my build, and going up against a custom deck of my opponents’. (Futurewolfie)
  • Battlestar Galactica: After recently completing my viewing of the show itself, I finally managed to get this game back to the table with five players. It was a long and tough battle, but even with a Cylon Leader in play, everyone seemed to be helping the humans the first half of the game, which meant humans were in a really strong position at the Sleeper Phase. I ended up being the Cylon at that point, and though I managed to stay undetected while failing some key skill checks and then revealing myself at the most damaging moment, it turned out that the Cylon Leader had a rather human-friendly objective. Since five-player was originally designed for two Cylons vs three Humans, I found myself essentially alone, one vs four, with the odds heavily stacked against me. Apparently that happens sometimes, even though in general things tend to go easily against the Humans. One vs four is not great odds, and the humans made their final jump from Kobol with plenty of resources left, a landslide victory. Looking forward to adding in more expansions, and, oh yes, after that 3.5hr game, making this a Saturday afternoon game with a decent break halfway through. (Futurewolfie)

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

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