News Bits: 4/8/2013


This week’s NEWS:

Steve Jackson asks, “Would you like to be acquired?” [LinkSteve Jackson Games, probably best known for their wildly successful Munchkin franchise (but also for their also wildly successful Ogre Kickstarter campaign), is extending an invitation to established game publishers who might like a little more support and backbone. While I don’t much care for Steve Jackson’s games (Revolution! excepted), there’s no denying their success and know-how. Seems like it could be a golden opportunity for partnership.

Origins Awards nominees announced [LinkThe Origins awards usually favor more thematic (and especially D&D) titles, but there are some choices on this list that seem to deviate a bit from what is expected. Not many, mind you, but some. And I don’t expect they will win.

Tigris & Euphrates conquers Android [LinkIt looks like the popular Reiner Knizia and iOS port has made its way to Android. There’s still no support for online multiplayer (which this page says is coming), but this is a step in the right direction. Next step: more board games on Android.

Jeffrey Allers tosses the “point salad” [Link] This is an interesting take on scoring victory points in Euro games. Allers mentions the benefits of having an “everything scores you points” approach but wonders if there isn’t a better way, a clearer, “meat and potatoes” method. I find the “point salad” approach very helpful in introducing new players to games. It’s discouraging to sit for most of a game and score few points while someone else is running the table. It’s also reassuring to players when I tell them, as in 7 Wonders, for example, “Don’t worry: everything you do can score you points.” Still, games with clear goals often make more sense. The race aspect of The Manhattan Project, for example, while still points based, gives each player an indication of where they stand compared to other players, and games are usually tight anyway.

The Cardboard Republic talks to Bryan Johnson about Island Fortress [Link] It’s a shame this one has taken so long to get moving, but Island Fortress should be out soon from Game Salute. In the meantime, check out this profile of Bryan Johnson.

A mechanical breakdown of Board Game Geek’s top 100 [Link] This is interesting. I would have thought there was more worker placement, but I guess that’s just perception. (Seems like just about every game coming out is either deck-building or worker placement, or as in the case of Copycat, both.) Regardless, this is an interesting list. As one of the commenters shows, there are some unfavored mechanics listed here. It’s not just the mechanism but the use it’s put to that matters.

Jason Tagmire describes the origin of Maximum Throwdown [Link] I’m very excited about this game (if you couldn’t already tell). Here the designer talks about how he came up with the idea.

North Star Games gears up to release Clubs [Link] This is Dominic Crapuchettes’s designer diary for Clubs. It’s a good read and makes me very interested in the game.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Shadows over Camelot review, The Resistance: Avalon review, Battlestar Galactica review, Guide to Gaming: Learning a new game] Last week was Traitor Week, and @Futurewolfie reviewed three semi-cooperative games with a heavy dose of backstabbery. We also posted another entry in our Guide to Gaming series. This week we have two more reviews coming your way as well as another Guide to Gaming article.

Last week on iheartprintandplay [iheart Presents: Ticket to Ride: CenturiesCheck in this week for the next pre-built D&D Player Character as well as a our upcoming Gallery page.

Kickstarters of Note
Still time to get in on a lot of great games:

  • Small World 2: Days of Wonder is porting their popular Small World game to Android devices! Various pledge levels here (including some sweet a la carte add-ons). $15 gets you the digital game on a platform of your choice.
  • Family Vacation: Designer Phillip duBarry has been waiting a long time for this project to go live. The game is a family board game of putting together the best family vacation. It looks like a great family game, and duBarry (designer of Revolution! and Kingdom of Solomon) has a great track record. $30 gets you the game.
  • Eminent Domain: Escalation: Tasty Minstrel Games is Kickstarting the expansion to their popular role-selection/deck-building game Eminent Domain. Eminent Domain got stale for me quickly, but the core was very fun, and I thought expansions would really improve on the replayability. This seems to fit that bill. $25 gets the expansion/$50 gets the game and expansion. (Here’s our review of the base game.)
  • Valta: The Unofficial Dominion Card Case: Kickstarter projects for gaming totes haven’t done too well in the past, but this Dominion card case (with room for all expansions, sleeved or unsleeved) is approaching its goal. The price is a bit steep at $105/$130, but a case that can carry and sort everything is admittedly attractive.
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue: Extreme Danger expansion: Flash Point is a popular Kickstarter title, and its expansion passed its funding goal in the first day. It’s already near $100,000, and progress does not seem to be slowing. There are lots of promos and rewards. $40 gets you the expansion with all the promos.
  • Area 1851: Cowboys and aliens: the game! This one looks cool. $50 gets you the game.
  • Rocket Dice: Game Salute has launched a game accessory campaign for rocket dice–which are exactly what they sound like. Designed primarily for Alien Frontiers, these dice can be used in any game that require six-sided dice. There are various pledge levels, and the campaign has already reached 6x its initial funding goal.
  • Werewolf: There have been a million different Werewolf implementations it seems. Do we need another one? Max Temkin thinks so, and after seeing the design on the cards, I’m inclined to agree (if you like Werewolf, that is–I don’t). $10 gets you the game.
  • Dragon Clash: This card game was previously released, but the Kickstarter is meant to update the game and launch it in new directions. We should have a review up soon. $20 gets you a deck.
  • Legendary Monsters: This game is based on various urban legends and has detailed miniatures included. This one does not look like my cup of tea (I’m not much one for horror stuff), but it might be yours. It’s already funded, and $25/piece gets you the miniatures to play the game.

What I’ve Been Playing

This week was busy, but I did get some gaming in:
  • Piñata: This is a reprint of the classic (and now hard to find) Balloon Cup by Stephen Glenn. It’s a two-player-only game with super simple rules. The goal is to be the first to get three of five medals, and you do this by collecting candy from a piñata. My wife and I played two games back to back. The first game was tense and exciting. We both had two medals, and we were fighting over the final piñata for the last piece of candy that we needed to give either of us the medal. I wasn’t able to play, and I was luckily able to draw a new hand that gave me the card I needed. The game was so good that we played again, and this time, I claimed three medals before she was able to get any. The game is fun, but this second, lopsided victory left a bad taste in her mouth (and a little in mine). Still, I enjoyed my plays of this and look forward to more.
  • Ticket to Ride: Europe: My wife wanted to play Ticket to Ride as well, so we pulled it out. Now, my wife used to play all the time when she had an i-device (we’re still waiting on the Android app…), so she is very practiced at this game. Still, I thought I had her. I kept drawing and being able to score tickets. The end of the game came suddenly, though, as my wife played her last train. I was able to complete all my tickets, but somehow I wasn’t paying much attention to what she was doing. She won the European Express card handily, and while she had far fewer destination tickets than I did, hers were worth more points. She beat me soundly, 151 to 116. Payback for my second Piñata victory.
  • 7 Wonders + Cities: 7 Wonders is one of my favorite games, but really, I might as well have not bought the expansions. First of all, it took me 30 or so games to feel the urge to expand, and I still don’t get to use the expansions much because there’s usually one new person playing. Well, for my Friday lunch games group, we played 7 Wonders, and all four of us had played before, so we mixed in Cities (which I think is the easier expansion to grasp). It was a bit tough–one of the players had only played once before–but fun. We all played using our B-sides, and I was Byzantium, so I was given the opportunity to sit out of two military conflicts (which I did) and effectively ignore red cards. Petra was in the game, and the player playing Petra tried to make an attractive resource market so people would buy his wares and build his 14-coin wonder stage. The game was close on all sides, but the winner was Giza, who was able to be the warlord and build all of his pyramids.
  • Carcassonne: We visited family this weekend, and I was able to play Carcassonne with my niece and nephew, six and eight. They had some trouble initially with getting the pieces to fit, but in the end, my niece beat me by one point and my nephew by eight! I’d like to say that some of this was due to my helping them, but they’ve done a great job grasping this game. (I also got to teach them the word anachronism when my niece moved a toy car onto the Carcassonne board.)

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

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