News Bits: 2/3/2014


Lots happened for us last week (including new avatars on the site–mine has me glowering in front of a castle). Here is this week’s NEWS:

La Isla coming from Stefan Feld and Alea in September [LinkFor more details (and in English) W. Eric Martin of Board Game Geek News posted a picture of game, and a description is up on the game’s BGG page. This looks like another take from Feld on the cards that do multiple things mechanism. And speaking of cards doing multiple things, there’s an expansion for Bruges coming as well. 

Fantasy Flight Games previews capital ships for X-Wing [LinkOkay, I’ll admit that I’m not the target audience for X-Wing, but really? I guess it’s cool to have the model on the table, but including a transport vessel in a game that’s supposed to be a dogfight? And at that pricetag? No thanks.

The Opinionated Gamers interview Jeffrey Allers (Alea Iacta Est) [LinkI’m embarrassed to say that I don’t think I’ve played any of Allers’s designs. No matter–this is a fascinating interview on game design from the perspective of an architect.

Hyperbole Games interviews David Chott about Lagoon [LinkI didn’t know much about Lagoon before Friday, but when it debuted on Kickstarter, my Twitter feed went crazy. Anyway, after reading this interview, I can see why. Chott seems like a passionate designer, and he talks about his design, his plans as a new publisher, and giving art direction for a game. (And, indeed, Lagoon’s art is outstanding.) This is worth a read.

 Mechanics and Meeples discusses expansions [LinkWhat is the best way to expand a board game? Shannon Applecline suggests that the best ways are through added variability and increased difficulty (preferably without adding length or complexity). His example of a bad expansion, though, is 7 Wonders: Cities, which I absolutely disagree with.

Couple vs. Cardboard takes an extended look at Marvel Legendary [LinkConfession: I didn’t read the whole thing, and I was wary about posting this before I had. However, I didn’t want to deprive you all of the opportunity to read it. So: here it is, with the caveat that it’s long and I’ve not made my way through all of it yet.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, 12 Realms review, Going, Going, GONE! review, Nature of the Beast: Prairie vs. Polar review, oddball Aeronauts preview, My Year in Games 2013Some good stuff this week. Stay tuned for another week of reviews, plus the next in our series of Why, Why, WHY?! articles. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Spurs: This is a game set in the Wild West. The production looks nice. $45.
  • Tiny Epic Kingdoms: A 4x game that plays in less than an hour? Sounds good to me. I read through the rules on this one, and it looks pretty solid (if a bit mechanical). Still, the artwork is great, and it’s hitting stretch goals like crazy. And it’s hard to beat the price: $16.
  • City of Iron: Experts and Engines: This is the expansion to Red Raven Games’ successful City of Iron. $20.
  • Zombie 15: This is a new zombie game from Iello that looks great (if you like zombie stuff) and plays in fifteen minutes. A hefty price tag at $70.
  • Tortuga: This is a new pirate-themed game from the Bamboozle Brothers (Belfort). Looks like Queen’s typical high production values, though the crazed pirate on the cover is a bit of a turn-off. $50.
  • Zeppeldrome: Another zeppelin race? Yes, but this one is programmed movement. It also looks nice and has a low price tag. (Here’s our preview.) $29.
  • Eternal Dynasty: This is described as similar to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which was a console strategy game I really enjoyed. The pieces look great as well. $50.
  • Scoville: I’ve been watching this project develop with great interest, and now it’s here! This is a farming game about cross-breeding peppers and fulfilling orders from Tasty Minstrel. $40.
  • Lagoon: I don’t know much about this game, but it is a much-lauded product of the Unpub program. The art is gorgeous, and the price isn’t too bad. $35.
  • oddball Aeornauts: Perhaps the most portable card game ever? Quick playing and fun for two players.  (Here’s our preview.) $25.
  • Mob Town: This looks like a nice, lighthearted family game…about animal mobsters. $25.
  • Lineage: The Martial Arts Strategy Game: This one looks very nice. You’re a martial arts master trying to pass on your knowledge to your student to preserve your lineage. $39.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Ginkgopolis: I’ve been somewhat smitten with this design ever since Andrew encouraged me to try it. It’s so simple and elegant, but with lots of room for clever play. But remember that simple and elegant piece? That’s after you learn how to play the game. I played Ginkgopolis twice this week, both with new groups. The first group took to the game fairly quickly, and we only went a little over the lunch hour with four players (and that was with a rules explanation)–a good sign for a game. I won that game by six points, but it was very close all around the table. On Friday I played again with a new group. This play was still fun, but way longer than it needed to be. The game took 90 minutes with the rules explanation, and my friends, that is too long. (It was a close game, though: two players tied at 60, I had 59, and the last player had 49.) Still, I have high hopes for this one to be a regular in the lunch games rotation. (FarmerLenny)
  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: I got in another solitaire play of this this week. I tried the second scenario where players are exorcists delivering the island from its curse. I was the Explorer, and I saw from the beginning that my only hope in the scenario was to build things and explore as quickly as possible. Of course, when you have to do a lot of things at once, you have to spread yourself pretty thin to do it. And that means rolling the success dice. Because of this, I went on many adventures and failed almost every single build. By turn 5, an event’s mandatory hunt against the Chamois did me in. I had a great time, and it looks like I might be lingering in this scenario a little while longer. (FarmerLenny)
  • Space Cadets: Dice Duels: After a false start last week, I finally got Dice Duels to the table with a decent group of people. Our first play was a little rough as we worked through the rules and figured out the steps/requirements.  We had a lot of bad “fires” and let a lot of rules slide (if you yell “Fire!” according to the strict rules, you have to fire, even if you realize you can’t hit anything). My team got hit early, and despite our scramble to recover, we didn’t score too many hits and soon were destroyed.  The second game we all had a better idea of what was happening and we were more strict on the rules. My team managed to pull everything together, my helmsman was flying us around the board beautifully, and my weapons officer focused on getting good, powerful shots up in our enemies’ faces. The match was much more even, and it was close, but we managed to destroy our opponents decisively! This game is incredible amounts of fun.  I love the teamwork required to coordinate your ship and make things happen; no player can “take over” another player’s role because of the hectic real-time nature of the game, and the fact that you’re playing against another team ups the stakes versus a countdown timer or soundtrack. More plays, please! (Futurewolfie)
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill: After the hectic, crazy game of Dice Duels, we pulled out this gem.  After a somewhat extended exploration phase, the haunt was revealed… and as it turned out, I needed to protect my family’s [false]claim to a rich inheritance… by taking out the true heir, one of the other players.  My character was weak in combat, but I had the advantage of a small army of hidden assassins. This army took out one player fairly quickly, but the heir made it safely to the statuary corridor, where my assassins could not go (and where the ritual to claim the rightful inheritance needed to be performed).  Fortunately, they still needed to get her another item, and decided she should meet up halfway to get it.  A foolish choice, as she stepped into a room with my assassins and was killed. My inheritance was protected! (Futurewolfie)
  • Flash Point: Urban Structures: There are a lot of expansions to Flash Point.  Most of them add new maps; I’ve been trying out these maps and having a lot of fun with it. We got a group together to take on the tightly packed condo map, which features 2 condos that share a wall (but no doors between the wall), and no access from the sides of either building.  We kept the fire under control for a good half of the game, but after 4 false alarms, the fire started catching up to us.  In the end we needed 1 more rescue to win, but half of the map was on fire; it was a close match, but one player heroically cut out just enough fire to keep the house from collapsing and we one with 2 damage cubes left! PHEW! I also got to try out a new role – the Structural Engineer – who could repair damaged walls and remove hot spots but could not remove fire or smoke.  It was definitely an interesting challenge – I had to make sure to stick with another firefighter or I would get totally stuck, but it was a lot of fun! (Futurewolfie)

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

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