News Bits: 8/5/2013


Lots of news this week, including a development from last week’s story. Now, the NEWS:

The publisher that saved Atlantic City from doom [Link] After all the hubbub I mentioned in last week’s news about the failed Doom That Came to Atlantic City Kickstarter campaign, Cryptozoic has announced that they will produce the game–and provide a copy free of charge to backers. This is most certainly a gracious move on the company’s part. It’s also a brilliant PR coup. Still, let’s not forget what this costs the company: after all, they don’t receive the Kickstarter funds to print the game, and they’re starting off in the red for both producing the game and giving out free copies. I hope this doesn’t become the norm (failed Kickstarter campaign? Don’t worry–someone will bail you out), but Cryptozoic does deserve major kudos for this.

Days of Wonder opens preorders, posts rules for Relic Runners [Link] As I mentioned before, it is an event whenever Days of Wonder releases a new board game. They have posted the rules for their newest as well as opened preorders.

A cost analysis of indie publishing [Link] Hoo boy, is this grim… I appreciate the candor of Plankton Games in sharing this information (and the charts are helpful as well). I’m content to play, rather than produce, board games… (And here is another take from the designer of Corporate America.)

Tzolk’in on its way to Board Game Arena [LinkOne of the developers for the site posted this comment on their news list on Board Game Geek. I’ve not played Tzolk’in, but not because I haven’t wanted to. I’m excited about this upcoming implementation.

Metro News Canada features board game designer Jay Cormier (Belfort) [Link] The article itself isn’t great, but I like to call out when big media outlets talk about board games, and this is one of those instances.

MeepleTown interviews Matthew Dunstan (Relic Runners) [Link] This is an interesting read about many topics, including working with Days of Wonder as a “new” designer and describing a calculated approach to game design. 

Go Forth and Game interviews Cardboard Edison [Link] Cardboard Edison (designers Chris & Suzanne Zinsli) discuss just about everything with Tom Gurganus of Go Forth and Game–including their game Tessen, which is currently on Kickstarter.

Hyperbole Games discusses good theme in games  [LinkThe secret? Cthulhu! Minis! Zombies! Okay, not really–or at least, not fully. There’s some good advice here, but I think Grant’s especially on point with his suggestion to make mechanics exist for a narrative reason. I mentioned on Twitter that I think El Grande is a good example of this. It makes mechanical sense that every action must happen around the king but nothing can happen in the same region as the king. But the mechanism takes on thematic sense when the rules explain that the king doesn’t like change. “The King’s region is taboo!” is an easily remembered mantra, reinforcing the rules. This (aside from the window dressings of art and setting) are the purpose of theme for me. I don’t need to feel like a character; I need little devices to help me remember how to play.

Board with Life: The Series debuts this week [Link] A new web series following “the misadventures of a weekly game night comprised of dysfunctional geeks who squawk and squabble through episodes of gaming, arguing and fun” launches August 8 with its first episode. Check it out if you feel so inclined.

Grant Rodiek (Farmageddon) hosts “design your own card game” Skillshare class [Link] The class begins today, and it looks interesting. I’ve not seen any of the teaching sessions, but I know that Grant is a careful designer who takes his work seriously. The class is usually $20, but you can get in for $10 with code “ISLAY.”

Game design between two worlds [Link] Bruno Faidutti (Citadels) discusses game design in response to the Matthew Dunstan review (linked above). Is game design more mathematical or artistic? He suggests that there is a third way of thinking that captures game designers.

Prototyping tools of the trade [Link] Ed Marriott (Scoville) gives a good overview of some products that work well for assembling a physical prototype. These may come in handy for your other board game crafting needs. (Assembling my Dominion storage solution would have been easier with some of this stuff…)

Why We Play Games in My House [Link] Jeremiah of Theology of Games wrote this piece on the benefits he’s seen in his own family of playing tabletop games. Obviously results may vary.

Old is new: A new design contest using classic games
[Link] This is an open contest to create a new game out of a mass-market classic. Deadline for submissions is October 1. I’ve already started on a potential submission. Is it any good? I’ll let the judges decide.

iheartprintandplay News [EladrinHobgoblinsSpace Alert Star Trek Re-theme] A number of Eladrin minis have hit the site, following the addition of Hobgoblins. Also, if last week’s review of Space Alert on iSlayTheDragon peaked your interest, check out our coverage of a Star Trek re-themed print and play version of the game here.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Daft Dice preview, Viticulture review, Love Letter review, Guide on storytelling games] Things turned out a little differently than we had planned last week. This week we should have three reviews (including the Voluspa review postponed from last week) and a guide to Gen Con. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
Lots of stuff launched this week. Here’s what looks interesting to me:

  • Scopa: Gamer’s Edition: The Spiel podcast is printing its own Scopa deck with the customary suits replaced with gamer icons. $12 for the custom deck.
  • Casual Game Insider: The first year of the magazine was Kickstarted last year; now it’s seeking funding for its second year. It seems like a good resource particularly for publishers and retailers. Various pledge levels
  • PigPen: This is a family game by Kevin Kulp of penning pigs (and messing with your neighbors). We interviewed the designer here. $20 nets the game.
  • Firefly: Out to the Black: This was a surprise, but the new Toy Vault Firefly game is on Kickstarter through Game Salute. The Firefly license seems like a cash cow anyway, so I’m not sure why it’s on Kickstarter, but hey, it is, along with some promos. $25 nets the game.
  • Daft Dice: Custom dice and other gaming supplies (including dice business cards–very cool). These look awesome. Various pledge levels.
  • Codename: Oracle: I love the premise of this one, of CIA and KGB agents waging a psychic battle to win the Cold War. (Reminds me a little of The Men Who Stare at Goats.) This two-player card game looks interesting. $23 for the game.
  • Byzantio: A neat-looking game that plays in less than an hour. I love the look (and setting) of it at least. $38 for the game.
  • The Agents: This one has been getting a lot of buzz (everyone, it seems, is talking about it), and after looking at it, I can see why. The game uses a pretty cool mechanic where players play double-benefit cards, keeping one benefit for themselves but granting the other one to all other players. I’m intrigued, and the game has already way, way surpassed its funding. $18 for the base game.
  • Click Clack Lumberjack: This is a repackage of the game Toc Toc Woodman (which, actually, my wife and I have been enjoying quite a bit lately). $17 can get you this fun party/dexterity game.
  • Tessen: I’ve been closely watching the development of this game from Cardboard Edison. It’s a speed game (like Dutch Blitz) but with strategy as well. $12 gets the game.
  • King’s Forge: I’ve not played this one, but it looks awesome…at least if you like rolling fistfuls of dice at a time. (I do.) $39.
  • Fleet: Arctic Bounty: Lots of people seem to love Fleet. I’ve not played it. The expansion is up now on Kickstarter, and you can get the base game and promos through the same campaign. $25 for just the expansion.
What We’ve Been Playing
  • Dominion: I played four games of face-to-face Dominion last week, which is becoming a rarer and rarer occurrence. (It seems cool to have lots of expansions, but they are a pain to lug around…) Anyway, in my first two games, a friend had just bought Dark Ages, so we played with it exclusively. I’m revising my opinion of the set. I liked it before, but I’m really liking it now. I still maintain it’s more of a gamer’s expansion (as evidenced by one player’s lost expression throughout our games), but it’s fun for what it is. Later in the week I played two more games of Dominion, this time with most of the expansions mixed in. We played with five players who are all fairly new to the game (not my favorite way to play), but it was fun to be with old friends. Their play style is fairly erratic, and I didn’t budget for that in my strategy. It was interesting to see how the games shook out because of that. (FarmerLenny)
  • Xanadu: I played this Colombian worker placement card game for the first time this week. Honestly, I expected to like it a lot more than I did. Cards with multiple uses just may be my favorite game mechanic, but this game was much thinkier than others I’ve played (and I’m not sure why that is). I’m not giving up on this one, but I’m a little more guarded than I was about it. (FarmerLenny)
  • Glory to Rome: My Friday lunch group chose Glory to Rome, and I am always happy to oblige. We had five players, which was kind of awesome. One player took an early lead through the strategy of building lots of easy buildings, whereas some of the rest of us were trying to build better, larger buildings. Three of us had some decent combos going, but the early-lead player stole the game. The top three scores were 41-28-25. The bottom two were 9 and 7. This was a disparate game, but I still had a blast, even if I was decidedly middle of the pack. This game reminds me with each play why I love it so much. (FarmerLenny)
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I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

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