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News Bits: 9/9/2013

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Another week that begins with the NEWS:

Spielbox teases deluxe edition of Hanabi [LinkWell, this looks awesome…though nearly $80 is more than I’d be willing to pay, considering the basic version is $10. (Of course, the problem is finding a copy, with the initial print run sold out.) But still: stylish.

Nebraska teens host life-size Arkham Horror game [Link] Because, really, what else do you do in Nebraska? (My sister lives there, so I’m allowed to say this…maybe.) Still, this is pretty cool, and a huge commitment on the part of the library. Next year, life-size El Grande!

GeekInsight (Giant Fire Breathing Robot) interviews Vlaada Chvatil [Link] I don’t usually get around to listening to things…and unfortunately, this is no exception. However, I’m guessing that readers will be interested in this regardless of my endorsement.

Project Game announces first release, Gold West [Link] I’ve been hearing a lot about this game since Gen Con. I’m sure more information will be available soon.

Boards & Barley sources card components for prototypes [Link] This is a good resource if you’re looking to make a game that involves cards.

Painted Wooden Cubes reviews Carcassonne: The Discovery [Link] Stop the presses! Okay, okay: I know this isn’t really news, but this is a very good review. In fact, it’s less a review than an argument that less is sometimes more, substantiated through a game that is often overlooked. I’ve not played The Discovery, but I appreciated this review. I’ve also come to see his point in 7 Wonders: is it better for its expansions? Arguably, but it’s the base game that really keeps me coming back.

Last week on iheartprintandplay [Announcing “PC of the Week”Starting next week, iheartprintandplay will begin a new feature called “PC of the Week”. Check out the post for details.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Contest winners, Farmageddon review, Jason’s anniversary reflection, The Name on the Box Top: Carl Chudyk] We managed to make the short week last week a full week, and this one will be overfull, with the news, three reviews, two interviews, and a guide. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • We Didn’t Playtest This Pasted-On Theme At All: I’ve not played the “We Didn’t Playtest This” games, but I love the other games that Asmadi produces (and have been impressed by their “deliver before deadline” Kickstarter record). The expansion is $13 by itself, or you can get the full set of We Didn’t Playtest This for $45.
  • Infamy: This is a cool-looking cyberpunk auction game with a great start player token. $45.
  • Conquest of Orion: I have a soft spot for card games, and this one looks good. $19.
  • Belle of the Ball: It’s always an event when Dice Hate Me Games launches a new Kickstarter, and this is no exception. The art looks great, as usual. $25.
  • Havok and Hijinks: Cute dragons and a great tagline–“Don’t slay a dragon; be one”–make this worth checking out, even if we take issue with the tagline. $15.
  • Smash Monster Rampage: No, this is not the Antoine Bauza game Rampage (coming soon from Asmodee), but this is definitely within the genre. This is a cooperative game of trying to bring down the monster. $35.
  • Fantasy Frontier: Steam airships are the new Cthulhu? Okay, maybe not. This one looks cool anyway. The artwork is phenomenal, and Gamelyn has successfully delivered other Kickstarter rewards. $45.
  • Rarrr: Are Kaiju monsters the new Cthulhu and zombies? Seriously, so many games with this theme popping up. Oh well. This one has a cool hook, with players building monsters by syllables, each syllable granting special abilities. Love the concept, and $20 is fairly cheap.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Medici: I’ve played Medici a few times before this, but each game had been on the ugly and barely functional first-edition board. (Seriously, I’ve never seen a good game hampered by such terrible graphic design.) I picked up the second edition on the cheap at Gen Con, and this week was the first opportunity my coworkers and I had to give it a spin. Let me say this: the second edition is fantastic, especially when compared against the first edition. It’s better to the point where I’d say it’s worth upgrading in almost every case. On to the game: this time, we played a four-player game, which introduces a lot of uncertainty (players remove tiles at random from the bag before the round with fewer than six players). The game worked quite well–at least for me. This was my first win at the game, and I was able to win by a large margin. An early lead in a commodity no one else tried for gave me easy points every round, and I was always in the running for most valuable ship. I think I’m starting to grasp more of the give-and-take of the game. I enjoy this one quite a bit, and I’m glad I paid for the upgrade. (FarmerLenny)
  • Lost Cities: Before my sister went home last weekend, we played a few rounds of Lost Cities. My sister had played the board game before, but the card game was new to her. I explained how it worked and gave her my homemade cheat sheet. I beat her by a small margin the first round, she beat me by a large margin the second round. And then I don’t know what happened to her. Perhaps sleep was finally catching up with her, but she kept throwing me every card I needed, when I needed it. I had my best round of Lost Cities ever. And we promptly decided it was time for bed. (FarmerLenny)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Deck-building Game: My wife and I are big Star Trek fans, which means we have a lot of star trek games, for better or worse. We’ve had this guy on our shelf for a few months, after trying the Borg cooperative scenario (which was… less than stellar). We tried the standard play mode this time around, which I would say is sort of like a mix of Thunderstone and Ascension. It was fun for a while, but there’s a strange disconnect between the deckbuilding and the “exploration” where you encounter enemy ships and other strange star-treky things, and how you score points. We’ll try it again before a full review, but it felt a little clunky and unimpressive. But at least we got to recruit Captain Picard and Data. (Futurewolfie)
  • Lords of Waterdeep: This game has been lauded in many game circles as a thematic but streamlined euro-game based in the D&D universe of “Forgotten Realms.” It certainly fits that bill – taking the core of Worker Placement and basically stopping there. The theme – that players are rich and powerful Lords using their wealth and influence to recruit adventurers to accomplish various quests in order to further exert their control over the city – adds a lot to the game. We played with 3 players, but even with a small player count, it felt tight and competitive – the placements you wanted to send your Agents to weren’t always readily available, and sometimes you had to go through a lot of backdoors to accomplish your goals. I managed to pull off a close victory with a series of quest completions and Intrigue cards that let me pull back my agents multiple times, giving me 2 extra placements over everyone else and the ability to use certain buildings twice. The extra quest I completed made the difference. (Futurewolfie)
  • Gravwell: Does this game ever stop getting played? Since Gencon Gravell has hit the table repeatedly and never left a sour taste. Zany and unpredictable as ever, I’ve noticed that new players will see someone shoot ahead early (and usually shoot backwards themselves) and start to feel frustrated… only to see in the next turn or two how the game naturally balances itself, forcing players to move forward as a group. The runaway leader doesn’t keep pulling ahead, because they’ve got nothing to latch on to. As the initial Gencon excitement wears off, the quality of Gravwell seems to be holding up. It’s definitely a “filler” – a transitional game, not going to be the focus of the night, but what a filler it is. Expect a full review closer to the public release of the game (which is yet unknown). (Futurewolfie)
  • Battlestar Galactica: I managed to pick up the Exodus expansion at Gencon, so we mixed in a few options from both Exodus and Pegasus, set aside the afternoon, and played a nice full game of BSG. We used the New Caprica destination with the Cylon Fleet and Personal Goal/Final 5 loyalties, which give human players damaging or suspicious tasks to perform or face worse consequences. First of all, I love the Cylon Fleet option. It adds a huge level of excitement and tension. While games not using this option often have “quiet” turns with nothing specific to do, this keeps the attacking fleet constantly in view as it continuously builds and no longer completely wipes after a Jump (instead it is maintained on a new side board that will jump back to the main board after a certain amount of time). It gave purpose and planning to many actions and kept us all on our toes, and it was a whole lot of fun. Overall, this was probably the best game of BSG I’ve ever played, which exciting tension ramping up, lots of tough decisions, some role-playing, exciting space battles, and culminating in a tense competition on New Caprica. Unfortunately, New Caprica is a little clunky and possibly broken. Humans would have actually had a chance of Galactica had returned (it leaves for a short time as part of the New Caprica phase), but unlucky card draws slowed its return and while we had all the civilian ships prepared, we couldn’t evacuate them, and the occupation forces destroyed enough of them and reduced our population to 0. Still, we had a lot of fun, and we know which options to use next time we play. (Futurewolfie)

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

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