News Bits: 9/23/2013


Summer is gone; fall is here. The seasons change, but the NEWS stays the same:

Terra Mystica wins Deutscher Spiele Preis [Link] And surprises…no one. Other top winners are Tzolk’in, Bruges, and Bora Bora (yes, two Stefan Feld games in the top 4). Congratulations to the winners!

Fantasy Flight announces  Imperial Aces expansion for X-Wing [Link] This looks ho-hum to me (disclosure: I do not play X-Wing), and more like a money grab than anything. Yes, the paint job is cool (at least on one of the ships), but really? There are already TIE Interceptors released. A card expansion seems like it would have been more appropriate. Then again, when you’re FFG, and you have a license to print money…

Days of Wonder announces new Netherlands map pack [Link] Speaking of licenses to print money, Days of Wonder will release the single-sided Netherlands map pack at Essen this year. I think this pack sounds cool (and the fact that I’m not calling it a money grab reveals my bias, such as it is): players pay money to the bank if they are the first to claim a route, but they pay “tolls” to the other player if they claim the second side of a double-sided track. I think these map packs are a great way to expand Ticket to Ride. I just wish they’d wait to release double-sided boards, or reduce the price, because after buying a double-sided map expansion, it’s hard to justify spending nearly the same amount for a single-map expansion.

Bellwether Games interviews Corey Young (Gravwell)…again [Link] The last time Bellwether interviewed Young, he was unpublished. With two games signed (and one soon to be released), Young talks about his experiences as a published designer. I said before that Gravwell was the best new game I tried at Gen Con, and I stand by that assessment.

Mechanics & Meeples present the anatomy of a train game, part 2 [Link] This is a continuation of the earlier series.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Quicksilver review, Rialto review, Cosmic Encounter: Cosmic Conflict review, Cosmic Encounter: Cosmic Alliance review, Interview with Emil Larsen (Burning Suns)] Lots happened last week on iSlaytheDragon. This week is Press Your Luck week. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • 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…)
  • Drive Thru Review Gen Con 2014 coverage: Joel Eddy of Drive Thru Review is one of a very few video reviewers I watch. He does great work, and he’s raising money now to prepare for Gen Con 2014. Various pledge levels.
  • Ninja Dice: Just about every theme has its own dice game. Well, now ninjas will. Really cool packaging on this one. $25.
  • Shadows over the Empire: A new game from Artipia Games. As usual, the artwork is stunning. This one doesn’t look like a crowd-funding project as much as a preorder system (the game will be at this year’s Spiel). $32 gets the game shipped.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Innovation: I played a two-player game this week, and it was intense, a close contest for most of the game. I took an early lead in advancing through the ages, but my opponent got a jump on me in a few icon categories, which changed the game in his favor. We were coming on the end of the game, and my opponent had enough points in his score pile to claim the last achievement he needed to win, so I went for the hail Mary. I used a dogma effect that let me draw and meld a 10, executing its dogma when melded. I hoped for an auto-win condition in my favor, but alas! It didn’t come. The game ended via card draws, and I was a bit short on points. I love this game. (FarmerLenny)
  • Pandemic: My lunch games group played Pandemic this week. We spent too long treating diseases and not enough time finding cures. (I blame this on not having the researcher in our game.). We had found two cures, but the deck ran out. (FarmerLenny)
  • Trains: This deck-builder plus route-builder has been getting some good buzz lately so I decided to give it a try. Some quick caveats: It was a 2-player game, we were both playing for the first time, and I love Dominion. We ended up playing a pretty aggressive game with both of us starting in bordering cities (though they were separated). My opponent tried to cut me off from the main part of the board and eventually focused on buying point cards, I built right through his lines and tried my best to ignore the waste. I ended up winning by a small margin by sharing all of his stations while constructing some of my own. I’m going to withhold full judgement until I get to play with more players but I wasn’t particularly impressed with my first play. (Andrew)
  • Fleet: I just traded for this one and have been very excited to try it out since I love games with multiple uses for cards (among other mechanics). I got off to kind of a slow start when I kept spending most of my money for matching licenses and then didn’t have much left over to launch a boat with. I finally hit my stride near the end of the game by double launching and double captaining my boats but wasn’t able to catch enough fish in the last couple of turns to come back from my slow start. It worked great as a two player game, a big plus, but I really want to see it in action with more players. Hopefully this will become a new lunch time game of choice. (Andrew)
  • Power Grid: I’ve been talking about this one with my work buddies for quite a long time but it’s not the kind of game you can pull out over lunch. Luckily we had a weekend game day and finally got to play it. We had a lot of high cost power plants come out early and then ended up stalling out the auctioning for a last part of Step 2 while the board completely filled up. Luckily Step 3 hit just in time to prevent the game from completely grinding to a halt but it did lead to a anti-climatic ending as only one of the players had enough plant capacity to power 17 cities. Despite being a somewhat odd game everyone seemed to enjoy their first experience and requested to play it again next month. (Andrew)
  • Ascension: Darkness Unleashed: Since I had to miss Gen Con this year I was forced to wait to pick this up at the regular release date. I finally got it this weekend and played an initial game (plus Rise of Vigil) with my wife. Things remained pretty close throughout the game. my wife was hogging all the energy but didn’t have anything to use it with, I tried for a ruin/power hybrid strategy but couldn’t quite get enough energy to Transform my guys in the early game. On the last turn my wife banished a pair of Temporal Eyes for an extra turn and then proceeded to play an insane mega-turn that handily won her the game. This seems like a great addition to the latest set and retains the not-as-complicated-as-block-2 feel. (Andrew)

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

Discussion1 Comment

  1. The X-Wing expansion may be a money-grab of some sorts, but playing Imperial means having a large number of ships, so if you don’t already have 6 Interceptors, this new expansion is awesome. A slew of new pilots and upgrades rather than just the same 4 pilots of the original expansion? SWEET.

    However, this pack does give me the sense that the clock may be ticking on FFG’s ownership of the Star Wars license for board games. I can’t point to anything specific, but I just get the sense that it won’t last much longer… which is great for my wallet, but I still hope it doesn’t come to that.

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