News, news, newsworthy news:
Mayfair Games sponsors GenCon guest of honor Walter Koenig [Link] Presumably so you’ll buy Star Trek Catan. Still, who doesn’t love Chekov?
Fantasy Flight Games announces new play modes for the Lord of the Rings LCG [Link] I greatly enjoyed the LOTR card game when I owned it, but since I usually played solo, some of the scenarios were a tough slog (if not impossible). I might have kept my cards had the new game modes been available sooner. This seems like a great idea. (New modes, by the way, are easy and nightmare.)
Stonemaier Games launches Euphoria on Kickstarter [Link] Usually launching a Kickstarter campaign isn’t particularly newsworthy. Then again, it’s not often that I back Kickstarter campaigns, but I’ve chosen to back this one. And I’m not alone in this. In fact, the game raised its initial funding goal within hours, and has since quadrupled that goal to add lots of other extras. It’s a bit unusual when story more than mechanics catches my interest, but I love the theme and ideas behind this one (and Stonemaier’s blog allowing readers to choose the apocalypse).
Stronghold Games opens preorders for Voluspa and Vampire Empire [Link] Later today, that is. Preorder price is 30% off, so if you’re looking to get these games, this is a great price.
Jeffrey Allers writes about “the beautiful dilemma” in game design [Link] This hits home with me, perhaps because this is what I appreciate most in a game. I like simple systems (easier to teach) that offer grueling choices: you can only do one thing from among a list of good things–which will it be? Allers mentions many designers who do this, but Reiner Knizia is the one I see as the master here. Sometimes boiling the game down to this dilemma doesn’t work, but it often does for me.
Hyperbole Games interviews Jamey Stegmaier [Part 1, Part 2] Coinciding with the launch of Stonemaier Games’ new project Euphoria on Kickstarter, Jamey Stegmaier has been giving interviews left and right. (Here are some other examples, and we’ll have our own posted tomorrow.)
Board game designers create “Freestarter,” give away games [Link] Grant Rodiek (Farmageddon) alerted me that he, Matt Worden (Jump Gate), Chevee Dodd (Scallywags), and AJ Porfirio (If I’m Going Down…) will launch a contest this week to win one game from each designer. I’ve not played all of the games up for grabs, but the ones I’ve played I’ve liked. And following these guys on Twitter should be mandatory for board game hobbyists anyway, so the price for entry is low.
Painted Wooden Cubes discusses “the player as mechanism” [Link] Mark Taylor of Painted Wooden Cubes encourages players not to view the others at the table simply as a “mechanism,” something that simply changes the game state, but to interact with them.
Board Game Reviews by Josh reviews Terra Mystica [Link] Friend of this site @BGJosh reviews the current hotness! Check out his review.
Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Cavemen: The Quest for Fire review, Guildhall review, Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 review] Three new reviews in addition to the news last week (sorry, the review was late, which put off the guide). This week we have an interview, two reviews (Arctic Scavengers and the enhanced edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse), and another guide. Keep slaying!
Kickstarters of Note
I know I say this every week, but there’s a lot of noteworthy stuff here (Kickstart now for Essen releases perhaps?):
- Alien Frontiers: 4th Edition: This is a game that just can’t stay in print! Of course, with all of the lavish praise that’s been heaped upon it, it’s understandable. Game Salute is funding the fourth printing of this game now, and there are lots of great extras for current and new owners alike. Various pledges available.
- Sum Wars: This looks like Bananagrams for math people. I, personally, love Bananagrams (and math), so this looks kind of cool. $20.
- Moby Dick: The Card Game: It’s not often that my coworkers are privy to new board games sooner than I am, but one of them recently read and loved Moby Dick and the stars aligned for him to find this. It’s already very much overfunded. It looks a little too thematic (and thus fiddly) for me, and my eyes glaze over when boats are in books, but you may revel in this one. $30.
- Monster Moos: This is a game of intergalactic cowboys and wrangling various different kinds of cows. The game itself looks very simple and straightforward, and the buy-in is low. $25.
- Canterbury: This one looks pretty heavy, but I love the theme and art. $60.
- Railways Express: All those 18xx games are daunting before I even reach the XX, but this one might be more my speed. Then again, it might be too simple. Who knows? Worth checking out at $40.
- Adventure Maximus: This family-friendly RPG comes highly recommended by Jason. $35 gets you the core set.
- Archon: This new game from Artipia games looks very involved…but also very cool. $55 gets you the game in the USA.
- Snowdonia: This worker placement game was released last year at Essen, but it has yet to see wide US distribution. Indie Boards & Cards (publisher of The Resistance) is seeking to change this and is adding minis to boot. $54 for the base game.
- Amerigo: Judging by the publisher, the designer, and how quickly this funded, I’m not sure this needed a Kickstarter to fund. (Seems like anything with Stefan Feld’s name on the front is a license to print money.) All that aside, this is a new game by Stefan Feld. $65 for the game.
- Storyteller Cards: This is a normal deck of playing cards but with various options to encourage storytelling. $10.
- Promised Land: 1250-587 BC: The theme of this one appeals to me as it seeks to retell the history of ancient Israel from the time of the Exodus to the time of the Exile. 45 GBP for US backers.
- Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia: This is a worker placement game where dice represent players’ workers. Lots of interesting concepts here, but the story and art are what appeal to me most about this one. It’s already blown through its funding and several stretch goals (including custom steampunk dice). $49.
- Eight-Minute Empire: Legends: This is a stand-alone sequel to Red Raven Games’ Kickstarter release Eight-Minute Empire. $25 for the game.
What We’ve Been Playing
- Innovation: This game gets played a decent amount at work, but I seem to get left out a lot. (Okay, it’s my fault: I usually teach games to those who are new to our group, and there’s usually someone new to something.) It was refreshing to try my hand at this one again, and against experienced players. In our three-player game, I was pushed out of castles fairly early, but I was able to get Metalworking on the table after the 1s were gone and near the bottom of the 2 stack. One of my opponents had far more castles than I did, so I used his following my dogma to clear out the lower piles, letting me increase my score pile early to claim the first two achievements. After this, I was pushed out of castles entirely, so I opted to move to the advanced ages as quickly as possible. I landed Astronomy, which draws a 6 and melds it if it’s green or blue, as well as grants a special achievement if all your non-purple top cards are 6 or higher. Since I had only blue and green top cards (besides Astronomy), I emptied the 6 pile looking to claim the special achievement. After four turns or so, I finally got it, and I was able to place some high cards in my score pile to claim the last achievement I needed for victory. I love this game. (FarmerLenny)
- 7 Wonders: It’s not often that I play this game with all experienced players, so it was a treat when our lunch game on Friday included four seasoned veterans. This gave me the opportunity to bust out the Leaders and Cities expansions, along with the new Wonder Pack. I played as Rome, and the leaders I drafted at the beginning of the game pushed me into heavy science territory. (And I drafted Caesar because, c’mon, I’m Rome!) Caesar’s two shields gave me a narrow military edge over one of my neighbors, which I retained through the whole game (but still lost each age on the other side). I didn’t tip my science hand until I drafted my second leader, and by then, the wheels were already in motion. One of the guys at the table scored 37 points in civic (blue) cards; I came close to this (36 pts) in science. I won narrowly over Byzantium, 78-70. The other two scores were a little farther behind, in the fifties. I had a blast playing the full game, but I think I’m done buying expansions for this game. Adding anything else will make it more complex than it needs to be, and I don’t get to use the expansions much as it is. But I love the game with the expansions. (FarmerLenny)
- Airlines Europe: I got this one in trade recently, and I was eager to get it to the table. Some friends came over for dinner on Friday, and the four of us played. It took a while to get off the ground (!), but we really enjoyed ourselves once we understood what we were doing. The game combines route building with stocks, and similar to Alan Moon’s more popular game Ticket to Ride, turns were zippy (only one action per turn). There was a lot of subtle playing, even for four newbies, and my wife edged me out of a company I built from scratch in the last few turns of the game. I barely beat her to take first in the end: 101 to 98. This game was everything I’d hoped it would be, and I can’t wait to play again. (FarmerLenny)
- 7 Wonders: I’ve been teaching my parents 7 Wonders. I say “been teaching” and not “have taught” because they are old and have trouble remembering all the different elements and what they do, so each time we play is like a refresher course. My mom is a pretty savvy player at anything I’ve thrown at her, and she’s definitely become a fighting force at 7 Wonders. I watched her piling on the science, and I thought I was doomed, especially when I had to toss three cards for money, which definitely pushed me behind. But I stuck to my military strategy, and in the last round managed to play two guilds (using the money I’d earned to pay my neighbors for the goods), which scored me 15 last-minute points, and I won by 3. The lesson: never let the points-per-wonder guild pass you up. (Futurewolfie)
- Flash Point: Fire Rescue: I haven’t been able to try this out but saturday my wife and I didn’t feel like cleaning, so we decided to pull this guy out instead. We tried the simplified “family game” first, and enjoyed it, so we immediately played another full “experienced” game right afterwards. Though there were a few clunky moments as I had to check rules, this game was as good as I heard. Thematic, difficult, and fun. It’s a little more luck-powered than Pandemic, and fire erupts completely randomly, making it difficult to plan ahead (and I can’t tell you how many times I tried to use the fire truck to put out big chunks of fire… and managed to roll the only space that literally did nothing to put out any fires at all…), but it’s still all about making good decisions and keeping the fire under control long-term while tackling the short term problems of rescuing victims. We lost both games, but we had a blast, and I’m looking forward to exploring this game further. (Futurewolfie)