News Bits: 5/19/2014


Here it is. This week’s NEWS:

Z-Man Games announces that Zooloretto will return to print [LinkAnd this right after I track down a copy of the first edition… This new edition will include the lion tiles that were later added to Abacus Spiele’s edition. The projected “date” is Q3 2014.

Pandemic: Legacy prototype is in the works [LinkI don’t usually report the same things W. Eric Martin of BGG News does (because, really, you should already be reading his column), but this one deserves an underscore: there is a prototype in the wild that uses the Legacy-style game-changing properties of Risk: Legacy applied to the cooperative game Pandemic. Color me intrigued.

Stonemaier Games writes an open letter to (potential) board game reviewers [LinkAnd I’d like to sign my name to the bottom.

Through the Ages, asynchronous play come to Board Game Arena [LinkThe announcement is here. Since the announcement was made, the “like” threshold on the Czech Games Editions Facebook page has been crossed, so this is happening. I’m excited for this. I was never able to get the physical game to the table. Will the digital version be different?

Grant Rodiek (Farmageddon) interviews Jerry Hawthorne (Mice & Mystics) [LinkMice & Mystics has never really excited me because it hasn’t looked like my cup of tea, but I greatly enjoyed this interview with its designer. A good look at a story-based design philosophy.

Cult of Game adds bling to Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [LinkThese bits are nothing short of incredible.

Help a master’s degree candidate with her thesis on German board games [LinkI’ve linked to the survey if you’d like to help out.

Opinion article blasts Ottawa for $21,000 Sorry! board [LinkThe opinion piece isn’t particularly well written, nor am I usually one to gripe about “frivolous” spending on the arts (what are we without art?), but this really does seem kind of frivolous. (Perhaps our foreign correspondent Andrew can weigh in on this?)

Ignacy Trzewik hates card sleeves [LinkHere’s why. I, on the other hand, love them, since my collection is a spinning one. Card sleeves ensure resale value.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Interview with Alex Argyropoulos, Coconuts review, Journey Stones review, Why, Why, Why open information is badLots of good stuff last week, with more to come this week, including the debut of our new web series. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Pull!: A trick-taking card game about trap shooting? Looks like a decent game, and this is the kind of project Kickstarter was made for. $16.
  • Yardmaster: The hype train has been going full-steam on this 2014 Ion Award winner, and I can’t sort out whether it would be fun or too simple. In any case, if you’re looking for a family card game, you could probably do worse than this, and I love the art. $15.
  • Thebes: I’ve been looking for a copy of Thebes for a while. I’m not sure whether I’ll jump in on this Kickstarter, but I’d be a fool not to: Thebes, Thebes the card game, and Maharani, all for one low price. ~$50.
  • I Say, Holmes!: This is Victory Point Games’ first Kickstarter project, and the game looks really cool–a storytelling deduction game set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. The game comes with some neat upgrades, including an across-the-board increase in card quality. $35.
  • 12 Realms: Ancestors Legacy: This is for the expansion and reprint of 12 Realms, a cooperative game set in a storybook world. (We interviewed Alex Argyropoulos of Mage Company here, and we reviewed the first edition of 12 Realms here.) $45.
  • Evolution: This campaign is for North Star Games’ first strategy game for gamers, and it’s a revamp of an older design. (We reviewed the old version, but the new one looks nothing like it.) The art looks great, and the gameplay looks interesting. $50.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Star Realms (FarmerLenny): After I gushed and gushed about Star Realms in my review, I bit the bullet and bought a second deck so more people could play. And since that time, I’ve played four three-player games. And four of them were incredibly disappointing. I’m not sure if the game gets better with four players, but with three, it’s pretty boring. You see, each mode has player elimination–that is, someone is likely to be out before the action is over. In Thursday’s two games, I was such a player. In the first game, we played a three-player raid. The boss had the idea that it’s better to take out one full opponent than attack two opponents piecemeal (a sound strategy). He decided to gun from me, right from the beginning. So I was out with more than half of the game in front of me. As much as I’d like to say I was invested in my teammate’s effort, I really wasn’t. I wasn’t in the game long enough to care, and I found myself wishing we were playing something else. Still, I thought, maybe it’s just the competitive mode. We played the second game cooperatively. Yet the “boss” the three of us fought attacked two of us with more firepower, so we were out quickly. The other player eventually won, but two of us sat idly by while he did it. After my review, I upped my Star Realms rating to a 10 on BGG–I’ve played over 50 games, and yes, it is that good (with one or two players). But I’ve decided to choose something else to play if we have more than two at the table. (FarmerLenny)
  • Star Realms (futurewolfie): I don’t own a copy of the game yet but this weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a free tournament at my local gaming store. I won the first round handily – despite my lack of experience with Star Realms, my dominion/general deckbuilding skills carried over, but in the second round I lost by one turn – always a disappointment to draw the cards you need to finish off your opponent, only to have him pull out a slammin’ combo to kill off your remaining Authority. It was fun, though, and the guy I lost to was clearly more experienced and won the overall tournament.  My first impression of the game weeks earlier was that it was fun but not spectacular… further plays revealed the depth and variety of strategy and I like the game more as I play more.After the tournament ended, some of us still had some time so we tried out a 4-player team version of the game. Unlike Lenny’s bad experience with 3, I thought team play with 4 was a blast. No elimination – both players on a team play at the same time and pool attack value and money value, while keeping faction combinations and other effects – like scrapping or card draws – separate.  When you pool your cash, you can buy some really powerful cards right from the start which is exciting -but there’s still plenty of strategy to be had in deciding who will focus on which factions, which player gets which cards, and whether to go for the awesome card or if each player gets a slightly-less-awesome card.  My partner and I decided to  stock up on outposts as much as possible while constantly putting the hurt on our opponents.  The other team – both players of which were much more experienced at the game to the point of knowing exactly which cards they were looking for – went for a longer-term strategy.  For a while, my team’s plan seemed to be paying off – we constantly weeded our enemies authority down while protecting ourselves.  In the last turn, our opponents had a measly 7 authority while we had 41 remaining, with a 5-power outpost defending us. Unfortunately, our opponents long-term strategy paid out with a bit of luck on their side – they managed to do EXACTLY 46 damage to us with a ridiculous combination of ships, bases, lucky draws, and scraps.  If we had a single additional outpost or 1 more Authority, we would have finished them off handily on our turn.  If only I had used the healing power instead of cash a few turns earlier! Alas, so it goes, but it was very enjoyable. (futurewolfie)
  • 6 Nimmt!: After I wrote my top ten filler games list, Andrew suggested that 6 Nimmt! belonged on the list. I admitted I’d never played it, but I immediately sought a copy. Six months later, I played for the first time. In 6 Nimmt!, players have a hand of ten cards, and in each round, players choose cards secretly and simultaneously. Cards are played from lowest to highest to four central rows. Cards pile onto rows until a row reaches six cards. When the sixth card is played, the player who played that sixth card claims the other five and scores negative points. The game is so simple, yet it was utterly compelling. Simply put, I had a blast. This really is ideal filler territory, since the rules can be described in a minute or less, yet the gameplay is tense and satisfying. It’s too soon to add it to the list, but don’t worry: I’ll be playing more, and I might have to revise my top ten. (FarmerLenny)
  • Parade: Another game that I’ll need to add to my top ten filler list is Parade. Parade is a simple game of, once again, point dodging, but while the rules are simple, it’s a little brain burny. My wife and I had energy one night this week (an increasingly rare circumstance with a newborn and an an active toddler in the house), so we decided to break out this Alice in Wonderland-themed card game. My wife has utterly trounced me in almost every game to this point, but I enjoy the game, so my spirit hasn’t been completely cowed. We played three games this week, and I won my dignity back. In the first game, my wife would have won had she anticipated my sneak attack in the final move. (In Parade, after you’ve finished your moves on the board, you add two secret cards to your play area from your hand.) The second and third games were won by similar devious means, although the revelation wasn’t the tipping point. All told, Parade is fantastic. I’ll try to post a review sometime. (FarmerLenny)
  • Can’t Stop: Despite our lack of energy, my wife and I decided to play Can’t Stop this weekend. It was a strange game in that each of us was playing conservatively, yet we kept going bust. We finally got some pieces on the board, and I was able to take the lead by claiming the five column. But my wife, in one of the luckiest runs I’ve seen, claimed the 6 and 8 columns in a single turn, and had climbed the 9 column with only one roll from victory. I knew there was only one thing for me to do, so I went for broke and won the 9s from under her nose. The game was tense, but my wife emerged victorious by claiming the 7s just before I could claim the 3s. Can’t Stop is so simple, but it is a blast. It’s amazing to me the compelling game Sid Sackson made from, essentially, four six-sided dice. (FarmerLenny)
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: It’s been too long so I pulled out Sentinels this weekend with Infernal Relics included. A team of 4 – Visionary, Legacy, Fanatic, and Argent Adept took on Gloomweaver in the Realm of Discord. We had a rough start and all took damage pretty quickly, but as players figured out their powers we managed to pull together as a team. Legacy kept our damage boosted a few points for most of the game, and kept the environments negative effects in check along with a few healthy counters to the Villain.  Fanatic prevented a lot of enemies from dealing damage while sacrificing herself and her cards to pile on the damage to Gloomweaver himself. Argent Adept struggled for a while but when she realized she had misunderstood one of her cards and started using it correctly, she started dealing out damage with a few boosts and plenty of healing for the rest of the team. And Visionary poured out the psychic damage while helping the team get powerful cards back on the table and setting up the environment deck to not overwhelm us. In the end we wiped Gloomweaver out with pure HP destruction instead of crushing his 3 relics.  We made neat work of him.
  • Cosmic Encounter: It’s been a long time coming but I finally got the Cosmic Storm expansion out on the table. We played a 4-player game with Space Stations. It took a while for colonies to get out there with defensive win after defensive win, and then competition heated up.  Unfortunately one player ended up on the low end of things (I think he failed to use his Space Station effectively though) as the Porcupine who could discard cards to boost his attack power. He got stuck with a few cards in his hand but couldn’t get rid of them to get a new hand, so that was unfortunate. I enjoyed my power, though – as the Wormhole, I could not only bring my own ships from the warp into an encounter (thus freeing them from the warp, yay!) I could also allow my allies to do the same, which encouraged a lot of people to help me out. Unfortunately my opponent gained the upper hand and managed to get his last encounter in my system just when I had no useful encounter cards to fend him off. It was good to get this game back on the table and it needs to happen more often, especially so players don’t get screwed because of their inexperience. Also, Space Stations were a lot of fun and I highly recommend their inclusion. (futurewolfie)
  • Quantum: I’ve mentioned before I love Quantum and will take any opportunity to get it out there. I played a 3-player game with some formidable opponents. For a while I thought I was going to be dead last as one player targeted me and I couldn’t get my ships lined up long enough to place cubes on the table.  Then, I shifted my focus to all-out combat, and started destroying every ship I could find. I managed to place 2 cubes with Dominance alone, and then got my machine running – free re-rolls on my turn, plus every turn I destroyed an enemy ship I got +3 to my research. That meant I was gaining new cards every other turn and could stay in the game with a few small ships. I managed to place most of my cubes by Dominance victories and for my last cube got everything into place for a standard Cube construction. It was a noble, if destructive victory and a close fight with my opponents. I still love this game. (futurewolfie)

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

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