News Bits: 9/16/2013


Lots of good stuff in this week’s NEWS.

Chris Handy interviews Alan Moon [Link] This is a fantastic interview. Seriously. I planned to watch a few minutes and watched the whole thing. (A brief note: this was supposed to be a Kickstarter reward for the Adventures on the Tabletop documentary. If you feel so inclined, you can still support the project here.) When I wrote the guide on Carl Chudyk a few weeks ago, I mentioned that he was the only designer with two games in my top ten. That, however, was not true (whoops!). Alan Moon shares that title with him (for Ticket to Ride: Europe and Airlines Europe). Check this out.

Carcassonne joins the shelves at Toys R Us [LinkIt’s true: hobby gaming is growing, and Carcassonne is a great choice to get on mass market shelves. I’ve not played in a while, but I might have to pull this one out again.

R&R Games teases plans to bring Hanabi Deluxe to the US [Link] Frank DiLorenzo responded to a thread on BGG saying that he will import Hanabi Deluxe and have it for sale at Essen. In his post, he also estimated that the US retail price will be $79 and recommended preordering the set (for a possible discount), considering how quickly the card version sold out.

MeepleTown interviews Jay Little (Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures) [Link] This is a great interview showcasing the design process of working within a licensed IP with a strong theme. Very interesting, especially the “baseline” involved in creating both X-Wing and Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG.

James Ernest gives away Doctor Lucky: Ambivalence Pack [Link] Two boards for Kill Doctor Lucky that change the location. It’s a print-and-play, but if you have the version of the game that I do, there won’t be much depreciation in value.

Bryan Fischer details the box art for Captains of Industry [Link] I appreciated this look at design (especially as an outsider to the field). I appreciated it because the box is just. so. gorgeous. (Also, the game went live on Kickstarter this week.)

Mechanics & Meeples defines train games (part 1) [Link] This is a good exploration of the “connections” found in train games and is a good introduction to the series. (The other two aspects of train games, according to this article, are stock holding and pickup and deliver, though few train games include all three elements.) If you’re interested in this, you might also be interested in Andrew’s guide to network building and Jason’s guide to pickup and deliver games.

Painted Wooden Cubes on playing well and reviewing well [Link] Mark Taylor asks whether reviewers should disclose their win/loss record at a game in the review. He makes some interesting points, and this is one area where board game reviewers differ from reviewers of other media. I think more important is the point he makes about group dynamics (but really, read the whole thing): 

The board game – and indeed the video game – each offer a distinct challenge to the critic pretending objectivity: the experience these offer is largely generated by the players. Playing Agricola or Kakerlakenpoker with me is a different experience from playing with anyone else…. The game reviewer therefore relies on his or her readers, viewers or listeners to exert a greater faculty of translation than does the critic reviewing media which do not offer user-generated experiences. If I praise Kakerlakenpoker for the laughter it generates, the reader has to recognise that this is a feature of the game as my play group and I play it, and not fundamentally a feature of the game in itself. The reader, in effect, has to deduce through the evidence the review offers whether he or she and his or her play group would be likely to gain the same experiences.

Grant Rodiek offers tips for giving feedback [Link] I don’t usually give feedback at the prototype stage. Nevertheless, this is useful to me, and I’m sure it will be especially useful to those who are involved in playing and designing prototypes.

NPR’s MonkeySee blog interviews the Monopoly iron upon its replacement [Link] This is from Februrary, but I just saw it this week. Poor iron. I hope the off-Broadway show works out.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Interview with Ben Rosset, Guildhall: Job Faire review, The Lost Dutchman review, Interview with Jeremy Burnham, Tsuro review, Guide to Kickstarter] Last week was packed with two interviews, three reviews, the news, and a guide. This week we’ll have three reviews and a Kickstarter preview. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Infamy: This is a cool-looking cyberpunk auction game with a great start player token. $45.
  • Conquest of Orion: I have a soft spot for card games, and this one looks good. $19.
  • Belle of the Ball: It’s always an event when Dice Hate Me Games launches a new Kickstarter, and this is no exception. The art looks great, as usual. $25.
  • Havok and Hijinks: Cute dragons and a great tagline–“Don’t slay a dragon; be one”–make this worth checking out, even if we take issue with the tagline. $15.
  • Smash Monster Rampage: No, this is not the Antoine Bauza game Rampage (coming soon from Asmodee), but this is definitely within the genre. This is a cooperative game of trying to bring down the monster. $35.
  • Fantasy Frontier: Steam airships are the new Cthulhu? Okay, maybe not. This one looks cool anyway. The artwork is phenomenal, and Gamelyn has successfully delivered other Kickstarter rewards. $45.
  • Captains of Industry/City Hall: It looks like third time’s a charm for Michael Keller’s City Hall. Tasty Minstrel is offering a double feature Kickstarter campaign for Keller’s Captains of Industry (a very meaty economic Euro, from the look of it) and City Hall. City Hall is $40, Captains is $50, or both are $70. (Yes, TMG knows how to set competitive prices in their KS campaigns…)
  • Rarrr: Are Kaiju monsters the new Cthulhu and zombies? Seriously, so many games with this theme popping up. Oh well. This one has a cool hook, with players building monsters by syllables, each syllable granting special abilities. Love the concept, and $20 is fairly cheap.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Libertalia: I got Libertalia in trade after playing it at Gen Con. This Friday was my first full spin with the game, and I played with my lunch games group. The game combines two of my favorite mechanics–role selection and auctions–and layers a cool pirate theme on top. The first round went poorly for me as I wasn’t sure yet of each player’s play style (and I misread a role card in a bad way). But as the game progressed, I did a little better each round. In fact, the last round I scored a whopping 43 points (more points than one player earned the whole game!) through well-timed Granny Wata and Freed Slave cards. I think this game is a keeper. Tons of fun, especially as role cards that players are holding diverge from round to round. I can’t wait to play again. (FarmerLenny)

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

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