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News Bits: September 15, 2014

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Since I took over the News Bits from FarmerLenny it has been my goal to continue bringing you the varied and insightful look at what’s going on in the board gaming world that you’re accustom to.  People are still reading the news so that must mean the changing of the guard has gone over relatively well.  I’ve stuck pretty closely to the original format but in the coming weeks I’m planning to shift the focus of this section ever so slightly to bring you even more board gaming news!  The most exciting change is the introduction of a brand new weekly series called “Game Outlook” (title change pending if I feel like it) which will show up on Fridays starting this week.  Observant readers might ask, “isn’t that already part of New Bits?”  Excellent observation!  In order to really dig into the world of upcoming releases it’s going to leave the News Bits and expand greatly.  So where does that leave New Bits?  Things should look pretty similar but the focus here will center on the board gaming community: interesting stories, thoughtful articles, funny pictures of people with dice in their mouth, and what we’re up to here at iSlayTheDragon.

In possibly more exciting news (for the winners) we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone that participated in our Gen Con Spectacular Giveaway, joined us on all that social media stuff, retweeted our announcements, and were generally supportive and great!  We’ll announce the winners shortly and we may, just maybe, have something else up our sleeves down the road.  Well, unless I’m talking about Star Realms it may be more appropriate to say up our shirts.  Actually, scratch that, we don’t put the games that we give away up our sleeves, shirts, or anywhere else.  Right Wolfie?

Some Interesting Stuff

Czech Games Edition Starts Handling Their Own English Distirbution

Some sensed a disturbance in the board gaming force after Asmodee acquired Days of Wonder last week.  So to help bring balance back to the force Czech Games Edition has announced that the will start doing their own distribution for their English games (formerly through Z-Man Games and Rio Grande Games).  This includes a highly desired new (and cheaper) edition of Tash-Kalar along with the upcoming expansion and a whole back catalog of great games.  Really great games.

NSKN Games Looks at the Main Two Types of Deckbuilders

Think all deck builders are the same?  You’re wrong!  Over on the NSKN Games blog there’s a really great analysis of the history and current state of deck builders.  I’d agree that it appears “centre row” deck builders seem to be more prevalent recently (and I love some Ascension) but despite all the innovations in the genre I’d say nothing beats the original masterpiece that is Dominion.

Maybe Theme vs Mechanics isn’t so Black & White After All

We may have differing opinions or whether theme matters here at iSlayTheDragon but Games Precipice challenges the whole premise of theme vs mechanics by viewing it as a spectrum rather than the common binary assumption.  The article is directed at designers but the slew of great examples and lessons to be learned make it a great read for designers and gamers alike.

Overcoming Cult of the New Dropoff

Grant from Hyperbole discusses designing a game that will stand the test of time (or at least make it past the cult of the new).  Reading the article reminded me of the qualities in some of my favorite games.  It’s almost like my ideal game checklist.  The only point that I might disagree on is how designing with an expandable core shouldn’t really be necessary.  On the other hand I love expansions so maybe it’s a great quality after all.

Club Fantasci Continues Women In Board Games Interview Series

I’ve been happy to see a trend towards more awareness and attention to women in the gaming community.  Club Fantasci has an excellent series of interviews with various women involved in the board gaming world and the latest is with Amanda Milne of SchilMil Games.  It’s an excellent read for those interested in hearing about board game design from a women’s perspective as well as hearing about Amanda’s insightful experiences.

Game Lookout

Essen is coming which means lots of juicy details about upcoming games.  As I mentioned above, rather than bloat the News Bits we’re going to move the entire Game Lookout section into its own post which will show up on Fridays starting this week.  But don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you empty handed!  Here’s one last entry of Game Lookout before it moves to its new time slot.  Make sure to check back on Friday for a more extensive look at many of the exciting new games on the horizon!

Deus - LogoDeus BGG - Link Icon
Pearl Games
Sébastien Dujardin

I previewed this game during our Gen Con recap but W. Eric Martin and Dale Yu give much more detailed previews with fancy new graphics for those wanting to know more.  At the moment this is one of the games that I’m looking forward to most at Essen (not that I’m going or anything).


Galaxy of Trian - Logo

Galaxy of Trian BGG - Link Icon Kickstarter - Link Icon
CreativeMaker
Grzegorz Kalarus, Sebastian Oliwa, Seweryn Piotrowski

This absolutely beautiful looking space exploration tile-laying game hit Kickstarter last month and has gone on to double its funding goal.  There weren’t any rules that I could find but the board looks incredible as triangle shaped pieces of the galaxy are elegantly pieced together.  I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about this one once more details become available but if I had money to spend I would maybe take a chance with what looks like a fairly innovative game.  $39 gets you a copy to US/Canada/Europe.


Gold West - Logo

Gold West BGG - Link Icon
Tasty Minstrel Games
J. Alex Kevern

During Gen Con, Tasty Minstrel gave a first peak at their upcoming euro resource management/area control game.  BoardGameGeek TV has a video overview for those that missed it.  The mechanics seem very interesting and use a bit of a mancala resource dumping along a track that lets you place resources further down the track for more points with the trade off that they will take longer to be made available.  At the moment they are planning to release it via traditional means and possibly skipping Kickstarter altogether!


Quintessential - Logo

Quintessential: The Fifth Element BGG - Link Icon
Gamer Nation Studios
Shawn Storie

Another preview video that caught my eye from Gen Con was for this dice based alchemy game.  Now alchemy is a theme that seems like it would lend itself brilliantly to board games but I haven’t quite found a game that has really worked for me.  This one uses five different colored dice, 4 basic materials and the rare fifth element that can only be crafted.  It’s on my radar for now until more details start rolling in.


Roll for the Galaxy - Logo

Roll For The Galaxy  BGG - Link Icon
(Rio Grande Games)
Tom Lehmann

And speaking of rolling, Tom Lehman put up the second teaser from Roll For The Galaxy.  This time showing us the box back.  You can glean from it what deatils you want but there isn’t a lot of new details for those that have been following the game closely but it is nice nonetheless.  He does mention that it will come in a Dominion sized box which was new to me.

Last Week on iSlayTheDragon

Lots of great reviews and an interview last week.  Stayed tuned this week for more reviews including the first follow-up on our Gen Con first impressions.  Which one will it be?  Check out our Gen Con coverage while you wait and make sure to come visit us on Friday for the official unveiling of our expanded Game Lookout section.

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What We’ve Been Playing

Portrait - Andrew Andrew’s Plays

We’ve all had those weeks where you simply don’t get to play anything.  I could say it’s a sad reality when real life gets in the way of board games but I’ve got a wonderful wife and daughter so don’t feel bad for me, it’s not actually that sad.  But what good would an empty list and a frowny face be for you, the faithful reader?  Instead I’ve got a brief list of games that I’m excited to play.  In actuality this list is much longer, way way longer.

Play 2014-Sep-15 - Abyss

Abyss – There was a lot of hype around Abyss before Gen Con because of the breathtaking artwork.  It seemed like a lot of people got their expectations a little too high and when it finally surfaced quite a few initial impressions voiced disappointment.  My experience so far has been drastically different and I’m very excited to continue exploring Abyss.  Not only is the artwork beautiful but the mechanics present an interesting premise that in order to give yourself more choices you provide additional choices to everyone too.  It’s almost push-your-luck in execution but not quite as random in nature.  That’s my copy in the picture with signatures from both Charles and Bruno!

Play 2014-Sep-15 - Gold AhoyGold Ahoy! – I tend to prefer euros but also enjoy their equally theme-light brethren, abstracts.  This new one from Mayfair is a pretty straightforward 2-player tile laying game with both creating a 6-by-6 grid of tiles depicting a group of islands with plenty of treasure on them.  Each player will be seeking to connect as many treasures as possible to their side of the board by playing tiles that connect them through the water paths.  I really enjoy games that are made specifically for 2 players and this one looks like a friendly and fast game of (abstract) adventure!

Play 2014-Sep-15 - PraetorPraetor – I really like the trend towards implementing dice in clever new ways and Praetor uses them to simulate your aging workforce.  As your workers (dice) get used more they become more experienced and useful but also get that much closer to retirement.  This concept seems vaguely similar to Village in that you can permanently give up workers for points but it is handled in a really natural and interesting way.  I love worker placement games with a twist and have been really looking forward to playing Praetor since a first heard about it.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get it to the table and give my first impressions soon.

Portrait - Jason Jason’s Plays

Marvel Dice Masters - ThumbMarvel Dice Masters – Still exploring this one. Still no new booster packs. Oh, well, we have enough variety to have fun with it, even though the completionist in me is a little sad. I will say we’re already finding ourselves anchoring teams with the same characters game after game. Like many other collection games, you soon find cards that are pretty much “required” to be competitive. Beast: Mutate 666 is one. Plus we find that one of the versions of Storm is almost necessary to counter really powerful attackers.  And you really need an assassin to knock out defenders before they can counter you; or worse, chump block you. My favorite thus far is Punisher: McRook, although he’s pricey.  That’s another element to MDM – you need mostly cheaper characters. If you have 3+ that cost 5 or more energy, you generally can’t even get to them before the game’s over.

Steam Park - ThumbSteam Park – My daughter wanted to hit this one. We don’t break it out often, because it takes a while to dump, sort out, and set up. But it’s a perfect family game with a wonderful, whimsical amusement park building theme. She’s in 1st grade, and the only rule we modify is the fast-paced rolling. Instead of racing against each other to get our rolls first, we go in simultaneous rounds, and the first one satisfied after whatever number of re-rolls gets the first player bonus token and so on.

Card Game Oz - ThumbCard Game of Oz – This is a very unique design. Based on the Frank Baum novels, not the Judy Garland movie, players use cards to place characters, objects, effects, and events along various locations famous in the iconic story – the main goal being to get characters in different locations where they’ll be worth “vitality” points. Instead of a collectible model, living card game design, or deck-builder, the game comes with four pre-constructed “story packs” and then encourages players to experiment with creating their own pack after they’re familiar with the game play and the card abilities. I’ll have more on this innovative design later in a full review.

I love optimization and engine games with tableau builders and card driven ones being my favorite. This usually means medium-heavy euros and medium-light card games.

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