News Bits: 4/7/2014


This past Saturday was the made-up holiday TableTop Day. Did you play anything fun? Here’s the NEWS:

Board gamers participate in April Fool’s jokes [Board Game GeekCheapass GamesI’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of April Fool’s jokes (bah humbug!). Still, I appreciated these attempts last week. (And Jason’s fake News Bits on our site.) 

Game Trade Magazine reflects on ten years of Ticket to Ride [LinkThis is a more traditional news item. Ticket to Ride is one of my favorites. I’m always glad to see it talked about in the media. 

Christian T. Petersen (Fantasy Flight Games) remembers two industry colleagues [LinkWe often think of Fantasy Flight as a board gaming behemoth, but they weren’t always so. CEO Christian Petersen posted this moving remembrance of two early colleagues, donating money to cancer research in their memory. I appreciate the candid warmth of this. It’s another reminder why ours is a great hobby.

Bruno Faidutti likes direct player interaction [LinkWhich surprises no one who has played a Bruno Faidutti game. What gave rise to this post by Faidutti is his recent experience playing Splendor, an engine-building game that, in his words, “fell flat for me.” (For a dissenting opinion, check out our “What We’ve Been Playing” section, below.) I can appreciate what he’s saying, but for me, I much prefer indirect interaction to direct nastiness. (Jason and I debated this topic in a recent Why, Why, WHY?! article if you want to read our thoughts more in depth.)

Bryan Fischer’s (Chicken Caesar) small games bag [LinkThis is a good list of small games that travel well and pack a punch. For my part, here’s my similar list.

Push Your Luck podcast asks if games are getting less interesting [Link] These are good times to be a board gamer, with new games being released weekly. Yet have we reached the saturation point? Are games getting less exciting, or are we less excitable? (Perhaps the “we” here is misleading.) I can’t speak for the author of the article, but for me, I know that being a reviewer, I have to play games broadly, which means I ache for playing deeply. If I were playing deeply, I’d probably want a broader variety. I think, for me, it’s a case of the meeple being greener on the other side.

Gil Hova (Prolix, Battle Merchants) defends “lazy” theming [LinkThis. A thousand times this. If I’m playing an obviously mechanics-first game, I don’t want to have to sell the theme to other players or have the theme intrude on the game. Ginkgopolis, for all its virtues, plays dangerously close to the edge on this line. I love the game (one of the few games I’ve rated above a 9.0 on BGG), but the theme is so ridiculous (ginkgo biloba trees are a symbol of hope?) that it is a turn-off to new players. I know I wrote it off at first because of the theme (thanks to Andrew for recommending I give it another look). The point is, I’d rather have a comfortable theme than a jarring theme when it comes to novel mechanics. Otherwise it feels like too much disorientation at once.

Go Forth and Game interviews Michael Mindes and Seth Jaffee of Tasty Minstrel Games [LinkTasty Minstrel has been around for five years. This interview commemorates that achievement with a look back and a look forward. This is an interesting look behind the curtain into one of the big players in the indie board gaming scene.

Games Precipice discusses approachability in games [LinkHow does a game’s package affect its perception? How approachable is it to new players? This article begins the discussion by addressing some of the questions that new players have. (It also acknowledges that not every design should have approachability as its goal.)

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Iraklis Grous interview, April Fool’s news, Euphoria review, Dominion: Guilds reviewOur week played out a little differently than I had announced at the start of last week (newborns will do that to your best-laid plans), but it was still a good week with some great stuff. I handled both reviews last week. This week will see more reviews and perhaps now my article on the Knizia auction trilogy will be posted. We shall see. Keep slaying!


Kickstarters of Note

  • Tuscany: I received word about this one from the Stonemaier Games e-mail list. When I clicked over to the Kickstarter page, I watched it crossing the finish line–sixteen minutes after launch! This game has been crushing all its goals, and it looks fantastic. The base game is very good (our review), so I suspect this one is worth getting as well. $45.
  • Pay Dirt: The new game from the designer of Alien Frontiers, Pay Dirt has players mining for gold in the Klondike. Looks interesting. $50.
  • Coup: Reformation: Yes, the Catholic vs. Protestant expansion to the original Coup has been rethemed to the Resistance universe, and it is striking. The campaign includes the cards, yes, but the best part of this is a new box that’s larger designed to hold all of the Kickstarter bits from both the original game and the new one. And between the two, it looks like you’ll have enough cards to have two full games, at least if you get in on the Kickstarter (which includes variant art cards). You can get the full game in the KS too, not just the expansion. This is a steal at $15.
  • Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom: This is the tactical superhero board game experience you’ve been waiting for. It’s set in the world of Sentinels of the Multiverse, and it’s smashing its goals. Also, the video is awesome. Various pledge levels ($100 gets you the game and all the minis, which looks like a great deal, but there are also more affordable options).
  • Blind-accessible board games: This Kickstarter is for some hacks (including card sleeves with braille on them) to make board games more accessible to those who are blind. Various pledge levels.
  • 1st & Goal digital: R&R Games is Kickstarting the digital edition of their popular tabletop football game, and it’s coming to iOS AND Android. (I love when Android gets some love.) Here’s our review of the analog game. Various pledge levels available.
  • The Big Time: This is an auction game set in the world of Vaudeville. The art looks beautiful, and the game has previously been available as a PnP, so it looks legit. $45.
  • Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000: How can you not fall in love with a game with a title like that? This is the newest dexterity game from Mayday Games, and if it’s as good as their others (see: CrokinoleClick Clack Lumberjack, and Coconuts), it will be a hit. $32.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Star Realms: This week I had the opportunity to play lots of Star Realms, with two separate opponents and as a solo game. Let me just reiterate: this game is awesome. I lost more than I won this week, but I stand by my opinion that this is the second best deck-builder on the market (second, of course, to Dominion). Check it out if you haven’t yet. (Here’s my review, by the way. FarmerLenny)
  • Splendor: I received Splendor in the mail this week, and the rules were so simple (only four pages) that I was able to give it a try the next day at lunch. In Splendor, players are Medieval merchants (*yawn* although see the article linked above) trying to attract prestigious nobles. Turns are simple and quick: either take chips, reserve a card, or buy a card. I explained the game successfully to three different groups in under five minutes each time, and it was readily understood–so much so that I only won once. The game is a tense back-and-forth battle, and the decisions are quick and exciting. I love this so far. (FarmerLenny)
  • Paperback: My wife, rejuvenated by the unexpected drowsiness of our newborn daughter, suggested on Friday that we play a game, and her choice was Paperback. Paperback is a deck-building word game. My editorial skills came through in this one. The first game was a huge win. The second one was a little closer. All told, I think Paperback is decent, but I’m not completely sold on it. Unlike other deck builders, I feel like I’m just adding cards to my deck to add them. There’s very little direction. (I felt similar in Salmon Run: what makes one direction/letter more desirable than another?) My wife, for what it’s worth, loves it, even when she loses. (FarmerLenny)
  • Coconuts: I met Wolfie at a FLGS this Saturday for TableTop Day. While we waited for the 7 Wonders game we signed up for, I taught him Coconuts (since we couldn’t rope anyone into Coup). Coconuts is a ridiculous dexterity game with monkey catapults wherein players fling coconuts to land in cups. The first player to claim six wins. Let’s just say that the monkeys were not kind to Mr. Wolf. Either that, or I’m a world-class coconut flinger. On second thought, let’s go with that. (FarmerLenny)
  • 7 Wonders: I’ll admit it: I signed up for this game just for a chance at the promos. I’ll also admit that I’m a little rusty, and that I was stuck with Giza, and that I had probably the harshest seat at the table. But enough excuses. I played poorly, and my score reflected it. It was still fun to play this game, but clearly, I need more practice before being allowed to play in the wild. Kudos to Wolfie, who took third. (I wasn’t that far behind, in fourth place.) It was nice to get to play something on TableTop Day, and to enjoy it with friends. (FarmerLenny)


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

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