News Bits: 10/7/2013



GAMES magazine announces 2013 award winners [Link] GAMES is known (to me at least) for choosing off-the-beaten-path games for their awards, and this year is no exception. The top honors this year go to Garden Dice (our review here). Congratulations to the winners.

Zev Shlasinger responds to complaints about Z-Man Games [LinkZ-Man has become more and more of a powerhouse in hobby games, yet since their sale to Filosofia (it seems), gamers have been complaining about Z-Man’s ability to address customer service requests, order enough stock for hot games, and produce games in timely fashion. Zev responds to all three of these complaints in this thread…and because it’s BGG, there’s a lot more commentary from users, some of it nasty.

Game Salute to publish Chris Norwood’s Acute Care [LinkChris Norwood, known around these parts as GamerChris, has been working on his cooperative game Acute Care for a while, and it looks like Game Salute will be making it a reality. Funding will take place on Kickstarter (and I’m sure you’ll have full details when I have them).

Minion Games teases The Manhattan Project for iPad [Link] From the looks of it, a November Kickstarter will launch for this game. Android development will be a stretch goal (grrrr…). I obviously can’t speak for the digital implementation, but the board game is very good. (You can read my review here.)

Rokoko designers discuss the development of the game [Link] I don’t often link to “designer diaries,” but I thoughtt his one was interesting, and Rokoko is a game I am very much interested in.

Stone Blade Entertainment to release Ascension: Apprentice Edition October 9 [No link] I received a press release from Stone Blade Entertainment about their new low cost Ascension option. This $10 set features enough cards for two players (110) and a playmat. The game also features a new look for the game and some new or retouched art. Seems like a good way for new players to sample the game. (And you can read our reviews of the game and expansions here.)

Online collaborative design platform launches [Link] I received a press release from Inventure Cloud about their new platform for pitching, testing, and launching tabletop game designs. It looks like this Spanish start-up is similar to Game Salute (in that they also want to branch into publishing), but for some designers, this might be an interesting path. Anyway, check out the link.

“Board game publishers are doing it wrong!” [LinkAh, provocatively titled articles! Why is it so hard to resist them? This is an interesting take on the board game industry from an (admitted) outsider. But I think it’s the outsider perspective that makes his argument (which might make sense from a business standpoint) fall flat with me. While it’s nice whenever a small publisher can cross over into the mainstream for sales, it’s not necessarily everyone’s ambition to be selling to the mainstream (or, at least, first ambition). In every area I can think of, bestsellers are not always (or even often) the best, most representative works of the genre (which the article’s author admits). Think mainstream music, books, movies. These are not often “high art,” and hobbyists would feel the same about many mainstream board games. And while the “best” may not generate as much revenue, there is satisfaction in creating something that is recognized as the best by those in the know. In other words, there’s satisfaction in artistry. And every once in a while, the “best” (even from small publishers) crosses over, though this is usually a by-product of the slow investment in making good things. (Settlers of Catan is an example in board games; several years ago Tinkers, a book from a small literary press, won the Pulitzer Prize; some indie bands that I like occasionally have a smash hit on radio. And then, of course, in the aftermath you have the accusations of money grabs or selling out from indie purists. Is there no way to win?) I don’t think board game publishers are doing it wrong; I think they measure success differently than this author might. And I’m okay with that.

Some guy on BGG says new version of Through the Ages is under development [Link] I usually don’t report stuff like this (I like to, you know, have credible sources), but this game is in the top 3, and the idea seems plausible enough. I’ll do what I can to track down the story.
Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, The Battle of Red Cliffs review, Ascension: Darkness Unleashed review, Innovation review, Guide to math trades]

Last week on iheartprintandplay [Leprechaun Mob Gangsters, PC of the Week: Tiefling Warlock] Be sure to check in everyFriday at iheartprintandplay for a new print and play RPG player character miniature.

Kickstarters of Note

  • 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.
  • Captains of Industry/City Hall: It looks like third time’s a charm for Michael Keller’s City Hall. Tasty Minstrel is offering a double feature Kickstarter campaign for Keller’s Captains of Industry (a very meaty economic Euro, from the look of it) and City Hall. City Hall is $40, Captains is $50, or both are $70. (Yes, TMG knows how to set competitive prices in their KS campaigns…)
  • Shadows over the Empire: A new game from Artipia Games. As usual, the artwork is stunning. This one doesn’t look like a crowd-funding project as much as a preorder system (the game will be at this year’s Spiel). $32 gets the game shipped.
  • Stack & Attack: This caveman deck-building game looks interesting (and Jason interviewed the designer here). $25.
  • Drive Thru Review Gen Con 2014 coverage: Joel Eddy of Drive Thru Review is one of a very few video reviewers I watch. He does great work, and he’s raising money now to prepare for Gen Con 2014. Various pledge levels.
  • Marrying Mr. Darcy: I’m a sucker for games set in literary themes. This one (as the name implies) takes place in Pride & Prejudice, and it has charming artwork to match. $30.
  • King of Clubs: This looks like a simple card game, but it involves actual dancing. And it’s cheap: $12.
  • Allegiance: A Realm Divided: I don’t usually like fantasy artwork, but this game is excellent. Looks like it’s definitely one for the CCG crowd, as the cards have lots of words on them. $60.
  • The Uncommons board game cafe: This is to help a board game cafe get going in New York City. Various.
  • Castle Rising: This looks like an interesting economic game that’s seeking funding on Kickstarter. The art style is a little dark for my style, but that’s okay. 26 GBP.
  • Ninja Dice: Just about every theme has its own dice game. Well, now ninjas will. Really cool packaging on this one. $25.
  • Keep the Crown: This looks like a fun abstract (and Jason previewed it here). $40.
  • Star Realms: This is a deck-builder with player vs. player combat (think a deck-builder that’s similar to Magic: The Gathering). It’s also by one of the designers of Ascension, and it has gorgeous art. $25 for a two-player set.
What We’ve Been Playing
  • Bruges: I played this newish Stefan Feld game this week over lunch. It’s a cards-with-multiple-uses game, and it’s very tense because you don’t know the availability of the cards. I assumed the game would play slowly because each card can be used in six ways, but the game flowed incredibly fast over the lunch hour, and even with the rules explanation we only went five minutes over our time. The game involves a lot of unfavorable options that balance in tension, and it never felt like any choice I was making was ideal. True to Feld games, I lost, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I can’t wait to play again. (FarmerLenny)
  • Medici: I’m not sure why this one has caught on in my lunchtime games group, but I’m not disappointed it has. Medici is one third of Reiner Knizia’s auction trilogy, and it’s a much simpler and straightforward game than either Ra or Modern Art, though it’s tough to know exactly how much to bid. In this game, I stayed with the pack in the early game, but toward the end, I was sidetracked by an offer that seemed too good to refuse, one that would put me toward the top of the fur pyramid. I lost all ship bonuses for two rounds in a row, and I ended in last place (only three points behind the next lowest, and five points behind the next lowest after that). The top two players were within one point of each other. This was a lively game, with lots of loud feedback with almost every lot, and lots of groans and laughter at the final outcome. It’s hard to believe that so much enjoyment emanated from such a simple ruleset, but there you have it. I’m a huge fan of this game. (FarmerLenny)
  • Carcassonne: It’s been a long time since my wife and I played this one, but it called to me from the shelf this last Friday. I’ve played fairly recently with children, but I had forgotten what a tense back-and-forth the game can be with another experienced player. I invested early in farms, which kept my wife from investing much at all. She, alternatively, claimed lots and lots of cities. What won her the game, though, was a small monastery complex she built (wait, aren’t these brothers supposed to be hermetic?). She scored five monasteries all by herself, in addition to her other points. She won by a 25-point margin, even after I got the points from my mega farm. Kudos to her! (FarmerLenny)

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

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