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News Bits: 7/15/2013

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Exactly one year ago I started writing a weekly news post for iSlaytheDragon. When Futurewolfie initially suggested that I write a news column for our blog, my thought was, Isn’t this what W. Eric Martin is for? And I continue to ask myself that same question now, albeit much less frequently, thanks to all of you. It’s been exciting to see our weekly news post grow from a tumbleweed witnessed by a few faithful readers into one of our most-read and discussed posts of the week.

So, to all of you who have been with me since the beginning (and those who are just joining us), thank you. Your energy and enthusiasm has kept me going despite the frequent questions of identity and utility.

But enough of this. The NEWS:

>Board Game Geek posts Spiel 2013 preview [Link] My mouth is already watering at some of the dishes soon to be served. Did I mention that my birthday is in October? (…)

Gen Con no-ship math trade open for submissions
[Link] What happens when thousands of gamers descend on a town? Why, a math trade, of course! For those of you not in the know, the Gen Con math trade is one of the highlights of the trip. I strongly encourage your participation if you will be at Gen Con. Besides, more games in the trade means more options for the rest of us… (A math trade, by the way, is a computer-assisted trade by algorithm. It’s kind of like a gamer version of white elephant and speed dating, though if you play your cards right, with better results. You can find a tutorial here.)

The Dice Tower announces its 2012 awards [LinkThere’s not a lot that’s surprising here. The top winners are the X-Wing minis game, Mice & Mystics, Space Cadets, and Love Letter, each taking two awards. You can hear the awards podcast here.

Antoine Bauza talks about Hanabi [LinkThis interview took place after Hanabi won the Spiel des Jahres. Bauza talks about the origins of the game as well as his surprise at winning the top gaming award. (Honestly, I’m a bit surprised Hanabi won, too, though I think it was an excellent choice.)

James Mathe reviews the reviewers [Link] This is a great resource for game designers and publishers alike. Want to get your game into the hands of reviewers? This will give you the information you need to know. (We’re on the list, too!)

Across the Board discusses board game copyright [Link] This wasn’t very interesting to me (my eyes glaze over at legal discussions), but I thought our readers would be interested in this. If not, move along: nothing to see here.

Milton Bradley, Kindergarten crusader [Link] A coworker passed along this profile of Milton Bradley. Perhaps I’m late to the party, but I did not know he was such a staunch advocate for kindergarten. Unfortunately, his company (now owned by Hasbro) is no longer known for their German imports.

Bruno Faidutti (Citadels) on games and education [Link] This was interesting, but I especially liked this bit:

My games are designed to divert, to bring fun or intellectual challenge, but not to teach anything. Of course, one can learn some maths, especially divisions and prime numbers, playing Incan Gold, one can learn collaboration and the danger of alcohol playing Red November, one can learn to lie playing Mascarade, but that’s not the point, that’s not the goal of the game. Terra is the only exception, the only deliberately pedagogic (and political) game I ever designed…. It’s the game that granted me the most invitations to symposiums and conferences – but it didn’t sell that good.

The gambler’s fallacy [Link] I liked this post on The Cardboard Republic. I’m not much of a gambler myself, but in games I’m trying to train myself to rely more on the odds, especially in games like Can’t Stop. It’s hard to shake the feeling, though, that climbing the 7 column in a single turn is bound to end in heartbreak.

Next 7 Wonders release will be Babel [Link] In the newest Asmodee newsletter, they said that Babel will be at GenCon (to demo or look at, I would imagine, not purchase). The hook seems interesting: a common wonder whose benefits all the players share. I will keep my eyes open for more information.

Ares Games previews new edition of Inkognito [Link] I don’t know enough about the original to know whether these changes are good, but the game looks stunning.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Red November review, Merchants & Marauders review, Kingdom Builder review, Guide to role-selection games] The news, three reviews, and a guide last week. This week we’ll have an interview, two reviews, and a guide. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
Lots of stuff launched this week. Here’s what looks interesting to me:

  • Paperback: This is another game I think looks great. It’s a deckbuilding word game set in the world of publishing (a world I know and love). $25 for the game.
  • Wok Star: This was originally to be a Z-Man game, but apparently it’s not anymore. It’s coming to you via Game Salute and looks fantastic. This is another real-time cooperative game (in the vein of, but really preceding, Escape). $39.
  • VivaJava: The Dice Game: TC Petty III is back with a new coffee game, this time for 2-4 (instead of 3-8) players. VivaJava missed its niche for me, but this one looks interesting. $30 gets the game, with other levels available for additional swag.
  • The Realmsound Project: This project is seeking funding to provide atmospheric sounds for RPGs. $15 buy-in.
  • Frontier Skies: Are airships and zeppelins the new Cthulhu and zombies? Maybe it just seems that way. Anyway, this one is another in that vein. $39 looks like a decent price.
  • FrogFlip: This is a micro dexterity game from Jason Kotarski (The Great Heartland Hauling Co.) and his daughter. Looks interesting, albeit simple. ~$14 for the game (funding is in GBP).
  • Battle Merchants: This looks like an interesting premise, and I’ve greatly enjoyed the games from Minion Games that I’ve played so far. $50 for the game.
  • Scopa: Gamer’s Edition: The Spiel podcast is printing its own Scopa deck with the customary suits replaced with gamer icons. $12 for the custom deck.
  • Casual Game Insider: The first year of the magazine was Kickstarted last year; now it’s seeking funding for its second year. It seems like a good resource particularly for publishers and retailers. Various pledge levels
  • Codename: Oracle: I love the premise of this one, of CIA and KGB agents waging a psychic battle to win the Cold War. (Reminds me a little of The Men Who Stare at Goats.) This two-player card game looks interesting. $23 for the game.
  • Daft Dice: Custom dice and other gaming supplies (including dice business cards–very cool). These look awesome. Various pledge levels.
  • The Agents: This one has been getting a lot of buzz (everyone, it seems, is talking about it), and after looking at it, I can see why. The game uses a pretty cool mechanic where players play double-benefit cards, keeping one benefit for themselves but granting the other one to all other players. I’m intrigued, and the game has already way, way surpassed its funding. $18 for the base game.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Hanabi: It was fitting that, after Hanabi won the most influential award in gaming, it found its way to my gaming table once again. My lunch gaming group was smaller this week, so the three of us jumped in, one player completely new. The game went a little slower, so we only fit one (instead of our customary two) in over the lunch hour. But we tied the highest score we’ve achieved so far–21. What was baffling is that 1) we made several mistakes, and 2) one firework was at 1. I continue to love this game. (FarmerLenny)
  • Toc Toc Woodman: My wife suggested we try this new acquisition because she wasn’t in the mood for a heavier game. Toc Toc Woodman is a dexterity game where players stack tree slices and bark Jenga-style and try to make the bark fall from the tree without getting the rings. Players do this with a tiny and slightly unwieldy axe. The game itself is a little stupid, but that’s the charm. We loved the game, and we ended up playing five games right in a row. We laughed at our boneheaded plays and cheered even when the other did something right for once. This game was a surprise hit in our household, and I can’t wait to break it out with larger groups. (FarmerLenny)
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I’ll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

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