News Bits: 7/8/2013


Another week, another NEWS:

UPDATE: Spiel des Jahres awarded to Hanabi, Kennerspiel des Jahres to Legends of Andor
[Link] These choices are a surprise (especially Hanabi, a small-box game), but not an unwelcome one. Also, we have reviewed both Hanabi and Legends of Andor if you’d like to see our thoughts on the games.

Board Game Geek launches GenCon 2013 preview [LinkGenCon is the big gaming convention in the States, and this preview is a must for convention goers. There are a number of games on the list that I plan to investigate further at the convention.

Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont speaks at Google [Link] Hautemont addresses a tech context about board games. The video is long (around 50 minutes) but fascinating.

Stonemaier Games announces Viticulture expansion design contest [Link] Viticulture, Stonemaier Games’ first release, was successful on Kickstarter and has been receiving good reviews afterward. (Our own review is forthcoming.) To celebrate its good reception, Stonemaier is soliciting expansion ideas. Love Viticulture? Have an idea for an add-on? You could win $2000.

Xanadu goes on sale for July [Link] If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, Um…what? Yeah, I didn’t know what Xanadu was either. I did some exploration, and Xanadu is a worker placement game…that is just cards. Weird, huh? It uses one of my favorite game elements (cards that can be used for multiple purposes), and the backstory for the game really got me interested. (The tl;dr version: it’s hard to publish games in Colombia, but these guys are trying.) I’ve not played, but this one might be worth checking out. (In fact, I ordered a copy.)

Small Box Games offers two games for $10 [Link] I don’t know how long this deal will last, but Small Box Games is moving warehouses and is offering two of its games–The Valkyrie Incident and Stone & Relic–for $10. The catch is that the games do not come with instructions (can be printed online) or boxes. There is only one review for each game on BGG, but this deal might be worth it nonetheless.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Genegrafter review, Hanabi review, Guide to hand management games] We took a day off for the Independence Day holiday last week, but we joined the fireworks festivities with a review of the Spiel des Jahres-winning Hanabi. This week we’ll have three reviews of some older games as well as another article in our Guide to Gaming series. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
Here’s what I’ve found of interest on Kickstarter:

  • Princes of the Dragon Throne: I’ve been hearing lots about this game over the past year, and it’s now on Kickstarter. And oh man, is it a beast of a game. Tons of components. This is the rebooted version, with wooden components, a money-back guarantee, and a friendlier, $79 pricetag.
  • Kremlin: This is a campaign I’m very excited about (and hope to contribute to before it ends). Jolly Roger Games is Kickstarting the reprint of this satirical political game set in the world of Russian politics. $25 gets the game (and seems a very reasonable price).
  • Paperback: This is another game I think looks great. It’s a deckbuilding word game set in the world of publishing (a world I know and love). $25 for the game.
  • Wok Star: This was originally to be a Z-Man game, but apparently it’s not anymore. It’s coming to you via Game Salute and looks fantastic. This is another real-time cooperative game (in the vein of, but really preceding, Escape). $39.
  • VivaJava: The Dice Game: TC Petty III is back with a new coffee game, this time for 2-4 (instead of 3-8) players. VivaJava missed its niche for me, but this one looks interesting. $30 gets the game, with other levels available for additional swag.
  • The Realmsound Project: This project is seeking funding to provide atmospheric sounds for RPGs. $15 buy-in.
  • Frontier Skies: Are airships and zeppelins the new Cthulhu and zombies? Maybe it just seems that way. Anyway, this one is another in that vein. $39 looks like a decent price.
  • Battle Merchants: This looks like an interesting premise, and I’ve greatly enjoyed the games from Minion Games that I’ve played so far. $50 for the game.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Airlines: Europe: I don’t get to play this one at home very much since most of my friends aren’t into stock games. Thankfully, after playing at our last visit, my sister requested that I bring this game this weekend. We played twice. My wife has been a close competitor each game we’ve played, but in the first game, she managed to edge me out through strong diversification. (I was caught in an escalating war for Air Abacus.) She sat out the second game, but my sisters and I, all having a few games under our belts, had a good contest. An early lead in the most valuable company on the board helped propel me to victory. I become more enamored of this design after each play. Look for a review of it soon. (FarmerLenny)
  • New York: The Card Game: This is a reskin of the Alhambra card game, but really, it seems to have nothing to do with Alhambra, New York, or buildings in general. Rather, it seems much more suited to its original theme–stocks. No matter. I brought this to my family visit as well, and it was a hit. My sisters liked that the game still had good choices but didn’t share the complexity of Airlines or some other stock games. I think this game is quite good, though it might last a hair longer than it should. Still, I enjoy this one, even with the lack of theme. (FarmerLenny)
  • Hanabi: My sister only requested that I bring two games (Airlines and 7 Wonders), but Hanabi is so easy to stash, I sneaked this one in as well. I introduced the game to great skepticism, but this game was a hit with at least two of my sisters. We played five or six games over the course of the visit but never got higher than 20 points. Still, it was fun to try to beat our scores. (FarmerLenny)
  • Samurai Swords: 4th of  July was a “day of unfinished games” with a game of Netrunner cut off due to the fireworks but the day started off with Samurai Swords (cut off because a player had to leave).  It’s truly an epic war game with, you know, Samurai, and of course, swords.  The goal is to control the majority of Japan, which you do by invading and conquering various regions across the board.  Like RISK the combat is dice-based but the strategy is much deeper.  You really have to plan ahead to build up your armies, because you can’t just place a boatload of reinforcements in one zone, which makes strategy very important in addition to the tactical nature of war-games.  While I’m good at expanding quickly, the mechanisms for building a long-lasting defense are tougher to grasp.  The game ended just at the start of my downward slope, and even though I controlled 30 of the 79 provinces at one point, we ended on a technical tie of 23 to 23 and had we finished, I definitely would have been wiped out.  At least my last remaining army made one epic stand against two invading armies.  It’s a little long, and the singular focus on combat is less entertaining to me than, say, Twilight Imperium which mixes combat with empire building, negotiation, politics, and technology.  Still, it’s fun to play and it’s nice to pit ones tactical abilities against a worthy opponent. (@futurewolfie)
  • Galaxy Trucker
    It’s been a while since a normal game night (normal apparently meaning “everyone leaves at 9:15”), and after a heated game of X-Wing with my buddy Blake and the other players showed up, we pulled out  Galaxy Trucker.  Two players were new and so we used the “training” first round, and things started off pretty well.  In fact, the second round barely any “bad stuff” happened and everybody had some goods to sell (and a ship).
    The final round, though, was classic Galaxy Trucker, and started off well with one player leaving an entire wing of his ship on the ground at takeoff.  The round proceeded with a large number of enemies and meteor storms, and it wasn’t long before one player had about 3 tiles left of her ship… and then was completely wiped out… and then another player fell to the same fate.  The third player had to stop when he ran out of crew, which left my beautifully intact ship to score a boatload of points just by showing up up.  Fortunately, everybody ended the game with more than 0 credits, which means everybody won.  I just won a bit more than everyone else, thanks to experience.  I can’t wait to try team variants and play with more experienced players so there will actually be time pressure on the shipbuilding part of the game. (@futurewolfie)
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I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

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