News Bits: 7/16/2012


This is the first week of delivering the news. See below for the top stories for last week. And if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. Now to the news:

Spiel des Jahres Awards Announced

The big news of the last week is the announcement of the 2012 Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres winners. This award produces simultaneous cheers and groans in the board gaming hobby. Some scorn it as a pedestrian award for simple games; others laud it as a signature of broad appeal. Whatever your views, the award’s status and influence are unquestionable, and this year, Kingdom Builder (the Donald X. Vaccarino game with a limp title) and Village (from Markus and Inka Brand) join the ranks of the winners. I’ve not played either, so I can’t comment on their merits. But I can offer my congratulations to the winners!

Dice Tower Awards Announced

Wait, Eclipse won best game?!?!?! The Dice Tower also released its list of 2011 award winners last week. There aren’t lots of surprises on the list (except maybe A Few Acres of Snow winning Best War Game after all the hubbub surrounding its being “broken”), but it seems like a pretty good indication of what gaming types thought was good last year.

Reviewer Controversy! Again!

Yes, another controversy erupted last week regarding board game reviews, this one instigated, it seems, by SuperFly Circus’s announcement that they will no longer solicit or accept publisher review copies in order to remain more “objective.” Responses have come out of all corners, but I think the best one is this preemptive one: reviewers overestimate their own importance. What would the consumer do without our valuable service?! Um…the same thing they did before the Internet. Now, I like spouting my opinion as much as the next guy, so I’m not about to stop (and I know I read reviews to help me determine the best places to invest my money), but I think there is a lot of wisdom in Drake’s response. In other words, let’s all lighten up, okay? This is supposed to be fun.

To Boldly Settle…

Mayfair Games has announced that Star Trek Catan—which features characters from the classic Star Trek series—will be unveiled at GenCon 2012 (with Uhura on the scene, no less!), with an exclusive release to Target stores in the fall. It seems that this will continue Target’s foray into the hobby game market, giving them a monopoly on dilithium crystal. No news yet on Carcassonne Catan or Catan: The Musical.

Sid Sackson on Kickstarter

Sid Sackson passed away a number of years ago, but his legacy lives on. One of my favorite games of all time, Acquire, is a Sid Sackson design, so these projects from Eagle/Gryphon Games are exciting to me. There’s not much time to get in on Sleuth, Monad, and Venture. Check out the campaign and pledge if you are so inclined. Unfortunately, Eagle/Gryphon canceled their campaign for I’m the Boss!, another Sid Sackson design, because of seeming backer indifference. That’s a shame, and I hope the game makes its way back into print. (It surely will.)

Divide and Conquer

The trend these days is to split popular books into two movies. Why not do the same with board games?  Reiner Knizia has announced via Twitter not one, but two new Hobbit board games, and judging by their titles, they are tied in to the new Peter Jackson movie (which looks amazing, by the way—and I didn’t even like that book).

Return to the Abbey

No, this is not about a Downton Abbey-themed board game (though do you realize how popular that would be among a certain set? Oh, if Scene It had not gone bankrupt!). Rather, Days of Wonder has announced that after several years of being out of print, Mystery of the Abbey will be returning to store shelves. I’ve considered this game a number of times, and there are a number of copies available for trade and private sale; it’s hard to remember sometimes that a game has gone out of print until an announcement like this arrives.

Kickstarters of Note

Here are some live Kickstarter campaigns that I am actively interested in (in order of campaign end time):

  • Flowerfall: A dexterity area control game involving falling cards. $15 buy-in.
  • Sleuth/Venture/Monad: Once again, with feeling! Sid Sackson classics repackaged. $20 each or $55 for the set in an attractive slipcase.
  • The Lost Dutchman: A gold-digging game based on a local Arizonan legend. The components look pretty cool, and I love the concept. $35 gets you the game.
  • Pirate Dice: A dice game of exploration and pre-programming. Looks like a blast, and already has some cool stretch rewards. $45 seems like the best level to buy at.
Unfortunately, I’m too late to report Pixel Lincoln— another I was interested in—which has far exceeded its goal. Congratulations!

Completely Unrelated Awesomeness of the Week

I realize this will attract a niche audience, but the thing from last week that I derived the most joy from is the new Twitter account @INDIEAUTHORHULK. And really, since self-publishing is taking the board game world by storm, perhaps there is something in this for all of us.

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

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