News Bits: 5/27/2014


Spiel des Jahres nominees announced [LinkIt’s the awards season, and the jury has announced the nominees for the Spiel des Jahres, the industry’s most important board game award. (See my take on this here.) I haven’t played many of the nominees, but I did review Splendor. Looks like a decent crop, especially since Love Letter didn’t make the final cut (…). I think Splendor and Istanbul will take the victory. (Feel free to disagree in the comments.) The winners will be announced July 14. Stay tuned! 

Fantasy Flight Games announces Cosmic Dominion expansion for Cosmic Encounter [LinkThis interests me not a bit (my opinion of Cosmic Encounter is no secret around these parts), but hey, Futurewolfie loves it, and he’s even contributed to the forum discussions. Yes, Cosmic Dominion is a fan-inspired expansion, so player powers might be even more unbalanced than before! [/rant]

Crash Games’ Patrick Nickell enumerates why he loves microgames [LinkFirst on the list? Box size. And that is a reason I can totally accept. Box size has become more and more important to me as my collection has grown and my room for storing board games has shrunk.

Kevin Wilson reveals some details of new X-Files game [LinkWilson responds throughout the thread with some lengthy information about X-Files, specifically about agents in the game.

iSlaytheDragon launches new web series [Link] Yeah, yeah, self-serving and all that, but it’s my news post and I’ll cry if I want to. Also, since I’m not really involved with this, I can talk about it all I like. Futurewolfie has put his considerable video skills to work in this new comedy web series called Under the Table. New episodes coming soon!

Kevin G. Nunn discusses mitigating the first player advantage in games [LinkIt looks like this is the first in a projected series. This is an interesting topic to me (which might explain why I love Power Grid).

Games Precipice continues its discussion of approachability in games [Link] In this installment, they talk about how parsimony (streamlining and simplifying) and organization of information can impact a game’s welcome to new players. This is a good read.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Eldritch Horror review, Under the Table: Episode 1, Cuba: The Splendid Little War review, Spiel des Jahres: Is it still relevant?Lots of good (and somewhat unconventional) stuff last week with more coming this week. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • 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.
  • Heat: Asmadi Games has a new Kickstarter for Heat, and it looks awesome. The game is from designer Dave Chalker (Get Bit!), and it involves simultaneous action selection as players try to make heists and avoid the police. The art is fantastic, and Asmadi makes great games (and delivers Kickstarter campaigns on time). $19.
  • 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

  • Ginkgopolis: This week my Friday games group chose Ginkgopolis for our lunch game. We had four players, and we had all played before, so we got right into it. My starting characters weren’t great, and it was hard to get a good engine going, but I was able to keep pace with the other players for the most part (although drawing tiles was especially difficult). Through some fortuitous builds, I was able to secure some end-game scoring cards that had just what I needed, and a timely overbuild bested my opponent in the largest district on the board. This maneuver won me the game, and the final scores were all within 10 points of one another. I cannot emphasize this enough: Ginkgopolis is an incredible game. It’s completely unlike anything I’ve ever played, and that’s a good thing. There’s a learning curve, for sure, and you have to teach yourself a new way to think about it, but there is a wealth of strategy in each game, and it’s still playable (more or less) within an hour. Did I mention this one has joined the ranks of my top 10 of all time? (FarmerLenny)
  • Coconuts: My sister and brother-in-law came in for the long weekend, and we played lots of games. Most of them were dexterity games, and the one we played most was Coconuts, playing around 20 times (!) in the weekend. My sister proved to be the premier monkey catapulter in the four-player mode, but I proved my skills in three-player, winning every game we played. Two player is still a mixed bag. If you’ve not tried this one, you are missing out. This is fantastic. (Oh, and here’s my review.) (FarmerLenny)
  • Animal upon Animal: Animal upon Animal is a game for children, or so the box would have you believe. But that is not the case. In fact, I have no idea how the children on the back of the box assembled the animal tower they did, but I’m guessing adult help was involved. Animal upon Animal is a stacking game with simple rules, so there’s no doubt that kids can play it, but with adults the game is awesome. And intense. (It gets a five-smiley intensity rating on the back of the box. #legit) Basically, on each turn the player rolls the die and does what the die says. The die tells the player to either place one or two animals on top of the pyramid, play a new animal touching the alligator base, give an animal to another player to place, or ask the other players which animal you have to place. Simple. But the animal designs are perfect, and despite there only being seven different shapes, the pyramids in each game looked completely different. This is a game I’m not very good at, but I had a blast playing it with four players. (Two was a little too uneventful for my tastes, by the way.) I highly recommend this one, and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good for children as it is for adults. (FarmerLenny)

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

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