March 16 2017
Board Game Geek
- Designer Diary: Firefly Dance
A few years ago, I saw an experiment on YouTube about how to light a lamp that wasn't connected to anything by placing it close to a small Tesla coil. While seeing this, I said to myself, "Hey, I'm sure there's a game hidden in here."
Following various tutorials, I bought a roll of copper wire, the right kind of lamp, and a 9-volt battery, and I made a coil by wrapping the wire hundreds of times. Then, very excited, I connected to the battery and gradually brought it close to the lamp, waiting for it to light up.
The effect was immediate, yet rather unexpected. Even today, I'm not sure whether it gave me an electric shock or burnt me directly, but, my goodness, it hurt!
I never did get that lamp to turn on, but I thought that if I could manage to do it, I could have small pieces that would light up on their own no matter where on the game board you placed them. As a magical effect, it would be really nice — the only problem was that I had no idea how to do it.
I kept wondering how to turn on a light without any kind of connection until one day a friend said: "You need to get a magnetic switch connected to an LED and a battery, then place it close to a magnet." Eureka!
I spent the following weeks testing how to assemble the pieces, while at the same time thinking about designing a game with them. It had to be a game with a magical theme, so while I was soldering and testing non-stop, it occurred to me that I could make four fireflies with a different color for each one. To light them, you would have to touch them with a magic wand that would show you which color each one was. I had it!
And if there were a magic wand, there had to be a fairy or a magician so that gave me the final component to create the story for the game: "Every night, a small fairy would go out to dance with her friends, the fireflies, to turn on their lights. Will you help them dance together?"
Depending on which square the fairy finished her movement, the fireflies would perform different actions such as moving or swapping positions, which would force the players to continuously memorize which color each one was.
When it was time to dance, the player had to take one of their dance cards, and to win that card, they had to turn on the fireflies in the order shown. The first player to correctly perform four dances would win the game.
With the prototype ready, it was time to test it on children — and wow, what a success! They loved moving both the fairy and the fireflies, memorizing their positions, and turning them on with the magic wand. And beating their parents, of course. It seemed that everything was ready to be presented.
I took the prototype to Essen, and many German, French, and even some American publishers liked it. Many copies of the prototype were ordered, and a large publisher even paid a thirty-day reservation fee, but in the end, no one decided to publish it. They really liked the game, but it was difficult to develop technically, and the components were expensive — too much investment and too much risk. Little by little, the prototypes came back.
Although I wasn't exactly joyous, a few years ago I would have been much more disappointed to see them back. By this time, though, I had already gone through a similar process with my game Go Cuckoo! (designed with Víktor Bautista i Roma), which was finally published by HABA after being rejected by a long list of publishers due to production problems.
I continued to show people the game until I met the Korea Boardgames team at SPIEL '18. It was love at first sight. They saw the game and requested a prototype, and in less than a month, the contract was signed. At the FIJ 2019 game fair in Cannes, France, Ivan from Korea Boardgames proposed some small changes to the game dynamics and components that, in my opinion, improved the game, so we implemented them.
Just before SPIEL '19, I received the cover and the photo of the final game, and what can I say? I loved the work done by Korea Boardgames and the illustrations from ZAO.
The game fair in Essen featured a giant version of the game and was one of the hits of the booth. At the end of the fair, copies were sold out, so I think it was liked by the players.
Now it's time to look for new publishers around the world who want some magic in their catalogs. Let's see whether the fireflies will fly far beyond!
Josep M. Allué Read more »
- NY Toy Fair 2020 II: Forgotten Waters, Patchwork: Americana, Sugar Blast, and Catan in 3D
We'll also have edited game overview videos from the FIJ 2020 game fair in Cannes, France in the next couple of weeks, so you will have more games to explore than you can possible imagine!
The Asmodee North America booth was showing a mock-up of a new 3D version of Catan. A representative from Catan Studio told me that with copies of the 2005 Catan 3D Collector's Edition selling for many hundreds of dollars over its original US$300 price tag, the publisher thought it made sense to bring this item back to market, although current plans call for the pieces to be manufactured from hard plastic instead of resin, which would likely lower the price tag from what a resin-based version would sell for these days.
The Catan Studio rep said that the water pieces will be made from the same material as the island tiles, and the ports will be represented by ship figures that feature the tradable good.
Fallout Shelter: The Board Game from Andrew Fischer and Fantasy Flight Games has all the players collectively building a shared fallout shelter, while personally tending to their people in order to maintain their happiness — while still sending them out to work in locations where they might be overrun by monsters, which are represented by plastic overlays that make a place impossible to visit while occupied.
Patchwork: Americana Edition from Uwe Rosenberg and Lookout Games features gameplay identical to ye olde Patchwork, but with graphics that match Americana quilting styles. I posted these pics on Twitter and saw many people saying they prefer the original look, but those people are not the customers for which this edition is intended. If I were to purchase this game for most people in my extended family, this is the version I would give as it would look more familiar and inviting to them.
Forgotten Waters — a design from Isaac Vega, J. Arthur Ellis, Mr. Bistro, and Plaid Hat Games — at an earlier non-public event, but now the game is out in the open, so let's put up a page and say a little about the game:Forgotten Waters is a Crossroads Game set in a world of fantastical pirate adventure. In it, players take on the role of pirates sailing together on a ship, attempting to further their own personal stories as well as a common goal.
The world of Forgotten Waters is silly and magical, with stories designed to encourage players to explore and laugh in delight as they interact with the world around them. It's a game in which every choice can leave a lasting impact on the story, and players will want turn over every rock just to see what they find.
Forgotten Waters features five scenarios and a massive location book that provides players with tons of choices wherever they go.
In the game, each player has a character (sheets shown at lower right) that they customize in various ways, and as you progress through scenarios, you can boost stats and gain bonuses, although different characters max out at different levels. You'll use these skills to overcome threats and continue your adventure. As your ship progresses on the water, you'll encounter new situations, such as the two depicted above. In an encounter, at least one player must visit a red activity, at most one player can visit a blue activity, and any number of players can visit a green activity.
Forgotten Waters will include an app to provide crossroad moments, and the design seems like a cross between a Crossroads game and an AdventureBook game like Stuffed Fables.
Rory's Story Cubes: Star Wars is pretty much what you'd expect it to be: nine dice that collectively feature 54 iconic characters, objects, and vehicles from the Star Wars films. Roll the dice, then create a story from what's visible. Can you craft a tale that won't have people rushing to Twitter and Facebook to complain?!
Tea for 2 from Cédrick Chaboussit and Space Cowboys is a two-player-only, deck-building game of sorts. On a turn, you each play a card from your deck, and whoever plays the higher card can use that card's effect or buy a new card for their deck with the difference between the two played cards being the amount you have to spend, although you can increase that amount by paying tarts.
You want to manipulate the clock that determines which bonus is available, with players having the long-term goal of winning points and being able to pick up bonus tiles along the way that reward them for collecting or doing different things.
Sugar Blast is a "match 3" style tabletop game from Leo Almeida, Matthew O'Malley, Ben Rosset, and CMON Limited. On a turn, you swap two adjacent pieces in the grid, then remove any rows or columns of three or more matching pieces. After doing this, you tilt the board in your direction to see whether you have any more matches. If so, remove those pieces, then tilt again! You keep at least one piece from each set you make, and the long-term goal is to be the first to satisfy the random goal card for that game, such as four different-colored pairs of tokens (as shown here) or a pair and a four-of-a-kind of different colors. Read more »
- Grab Your Scooby Snacks and Prepare for Betrayal at Mystery Mansionwrote about how three games based on the Back to the Future movie franchise will be released in 2020.
Turns out that's not the only media property being gamified in multiple ways this year as the recently announced game Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion from The OP will have to share shelf space in game stores with Betrayal at Mystery Mansion, a game from Avalon Hill and Rob Daviau, Banana Chan, Noah Cohen, and Brian Neff that will debut on May 15, 2020 — the same day that the Warner Brothers movie SCOOB! will open in theaters.
As for what's in the game, here's an overview:Read more »Based on the award-winning Betrayal at House on the Hill board game, Betrayal at Mystery Mansion is the mash-up fans have been clamoring for!
Play as Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, or Fred as you explore the mansion and its grounds, finding clues, encountering strange occurrences, and maybe even catching sight of a monster! When you find enough clues to learn what's really going on, that's when the haunt starts, and one player will switch sides to play the role of the monster! Will you be able to stop them before they carry out their sinister plan?
Betrayal at Mystery Mansion contains 25 new haunts based on popular episodes and movies from the Scooby-Doo oeuvre, with different monsters, items, events, and locations each time you play.
- Oriflamme, Res Arcana, and Dream Catcher Win As d'Or 2020; Pictionary Air Wins 2020 TOTYannounced, with first-time designers Adrien and Axel Hesling and first-time publisher Studio H winning the main As d'Or for the card game Oriflamme.
In that game, each player has a deck of the same ten cards, but three cards are removed at random from each player's deck, which means your cards will differ from everyone else's. Each player in turn plays a card face down in the queue, with each card being placed at the front or end of the line. After all players have played, starting at the front of the line a player has the option of placing an influence on a card or flipping it over, claiming all influence on it, then using its ability. Starting with the second round, you can play on top of one of your own cards, in addition to the usual front and back of the line. After six rounds, whoever has collected the most influence wins.
Runners-up in this category were Draftosaurus, Fiesta de Los Muertos, and Little Town.
Res Arcana from Tom Lehmann and first-time publisher Sand Castle Games won the As d'Or in the expert category, beating out fellow nominees Gloomhaven, It's a Wonderful World, and Root.
The winner of the children's As d'Or was Dream Catcher from Laurent Escoffier, David Franck, and Space Cow, a game in which players attempt to cover up nightmares on square tiles with cuddly toys on round tiles. You want to pick the tile that's just the right size since you score more dream tokens when you use a smaller toy, but if you don't cover the nightmare, then you get nothing.
Runners-up for the children's As d'Or were Hedgehog Roll, Yum Yum Island, and 2019 Kinderspiel des Jahres Valley of the Vikings.
Mattel won the 2020 Toy of the Year (TOTY) in the game category for Pictionary Air, besting seven other nominees: Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared, Funkoverse Strategy Game, Heist, Ms. Monopoly, Orangutwang, Throw Throw Burrito, and UNO Braille.
Read more »
- VideoGame Overview: Chili Dice, or Spicy Dice By Another NameChili Dice, a game from Andy Daniel and AMIGO. During that video overview, I mentioned that Daniel had previously designed and published a collection of dice games called Spicy Dice under the brand Enginuity that uses the same type of special six-sided dice found in Chili Dice — dice that feature a red face on one side, with the six dice in the game having one red 1, one red 2, and so on.
As it turns out, the story is more complicated than that.
At NY Toy Fair 2020, which I attended after recording the video posted below, I happened to run into Andy Daniel, who was running an Enginuity booth and selling Spicy Dice — except that he wasn't selling the Spicy Dice game collection from 2004, but a standalone game called Spicy Dice that was not included in that earlier collection, a standalone game that Daniel released through Enginuity in 2018, a standalone game that Daniel had licensed to AMIGO, which had changed the name to Chili Dice.
Daniel mentioned during our conversation at NY Toy Fair that he was much more of a designer than a marketer, which is a fair thing to say given that Spicy Dice — the new one — didn't have a BGG listing until I made one to accompany this posting.
In any case, here's an overview of Chili Dice, which is available in the U.S. under one name and in Germany under another. Either way, the game plays the same. In general, Chili Dice is akin to Yahtzee as each player will roll dice and score separately in multiple categories such as points for 1s, straight, and chance.
Where Chili Dice differs from that earlier game is that players have at most thirty rolls during the entire game, with them being able to allocate as many rolls as they want across the ten categories in which they'll score. Roll five 4s and want to press your luck rolling a sixth 4 to grab 75 points? Go right ahead!
The red faces on the dice are the other element that differs from Yahtzee. When you roll a red face, you can change that die to any number you want, which is great for creating a straight of six numbers or creating pairs and triples. If you keep a red face, however, you can gain bonuses in different ways. If you're collecting dice showing a single number from 1 to 6 and you have the red face showing that number, then the sum of those dice is doubled. Four 6s is 24 points, but if one of those dice is red, then you have 48 points. If you have a straight with a red 1, then you can score those 21 points in a straight like normal, or you can score 21 points in the 1 category, which normally doesn't net you many points.
If you fill all the categories, then you score 5 points for each roll unused — but winning scores in my six non-solo games on a review copy from AMIGO have typically been 300 points or more, which means that players are averaging at least 10 points per roll, which means you'd probably be better off rolling repeatedly to maximize your score in various ways instead of stopping early.
I go into more detail about the gameplay, the scoring categories, and why puzzle-based games aren't the same as puzzles in this video:
Youtube Video Read more »
- NY Toy Fair 2020 I: SpongeBob Meets Fluxx, and FoxMind Invites You to Chop More Wood
Some of those pairings make perfect sense, as with Looney Labs' announcement of Andy Looney's SpongeBob SquarePants Fluxx, which has a U.S. street date of May 21, 2020. The chaotic nature of both Fluxx and SpongeBob inspires a "Yes, of course, why didn't this happen earlier?" Like the 2019 releases of Marvel Fluxx and Jumanji Fluxx, this "Specialty Edition" from Looney Labs is packaged in a larger-than-normal box for Fluxx, with a poker-style coin and seven bonus cards. (Looney Labs didn't have a mock-up of the game on hand for NY Toy Fair, so I've included the cover image that the company sent to me directly.)
What Looney Labs did have on display were mock-ups of the four "Pyramid Quartet" titles being crowdfunded on Kickstarter (KS link) as they're showing these titles to retailers and explaining how they can serve as expansions for Pyramid Arcade (if the retailers are already carrying that item) or sold as standalone games that can serve as an entry point to the larger world of pyramid games (should they not be carrying that item).
Much of the work that goes on at NY Toy Fair and other trade shows is educational. Retailers can't see everything on the market, and new stores open all the time, so even when a title is old (or even "old" in the sense that it came out 1-2 years ago), that game is often new to whoever is approaching the publisher's booth. From the publisher's perspective, they need to show why this retailer would want to carry the game and how the retailer would introduce the game to potential customers. If you can help retailers sell your wares, you've effectively enlisted them as a salesperson in your company, but a salesperson who buys the game from you in order to spread it amongst the community.
At one publisher's booth, two fair attendees asked the company representative whether a Spanish version of the game existed. Yes, company A has a license and plans to release the game in Spain at time B. Okay, but what about in South America? No, we don't have that; let's set up a time to talk.
I heard representatives from France, Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, and many other places asking about the availability of titles, whether via direct sales from the publisher, through a licensee, or through a possible license. Business at shows like Origins, Gen Con, and SPIEL often takes the form of individual sales, ideally to those alpha gamers who will then introduce the game to others, spreading awareness of a design; business at shows like NY Toy Fair and Spielwarenmesse can be a half-hour meeting that results in five hundred copies sold — or fifty thousand copies, or nothing. The event can have a lottery-like feel as you don't always know who's going to show up at your booth and what might result from that first "Hello".
Anyway, more about games...
Canadian publisher FoxMind has a new version of Justin Oh's Click Clack Lumberjack coming to market under the name TacTac Jack, with the game due out "soon". In the game, you use the plastic axe to chop at the plastic discs, trying to knock them just far enough that the bark arcs on the sides fall off (as you score points from those), but not far off that you get the core as that's a huge negative.
FoxMind also has a new version of Andreas Kuhnekath's excellent abstract strategy game Kulami coming to market in April 2020. To play, fit the wooden blocks together in some manner, then take turns adding a marble to the board. After I place a marble, you must then place your marble in the same row or column as the marble I just placed, but you can't place it in the same block or on the block where you placed a marble the previous turn. If a player can't play, then the game ends. Players claim the blocks where they have a majority of marbles, then you score points for all the divots in those blocks, whether filled or empty. Whoever has the high score wins.
FoxMind's David Capon said that the only change to this edition is that it includes two "capping" pieces that you can place over your most recently played marble. In the late game, this makes it easier to see in which row or column you must play and where you last placed.
In Q3 2020, FoxMind plans to release a new edition of Alberto Corazón Arambarri's Secret Operation, a 4-10 player hidden identity game that debuted in 2019 from Brain Picnic and Zacatrus.
In the game, one or more players are working against the others to keep a robot from being constructed. On a turn, you place one of the three cards in your hand face down on any one of the unfinished robot spaces, saying what you're placing there or not as you wish. Once a space has as many cards as is indicated, with that number varying based on the number of players, you shuffle those cards, then reveal them. If all the required cards are included, that piece of the robot is built; if not, you discard the cards and learn that someone who played there is not working with the team. You must build all of the robot before the deck runs out, or the traitors win.
Another reissue from FoxMind is Alex Randolph's Figure It, first released in 1975 as Domemo. The game consists of 28 tiles, with one 1, two 2s, and so on up to seven 7s. After shuffling the tiles, players take 4-7 tiles depending on the player count and face them away from themselves. Some tiles are left face down, and some might be turned face up. On a turn, based on what you see and what others have said, you ask an opponent whether you have a particular number, and if you do, they reveal a tile with this number in your hand. Whoever first reveals their hand wins.
My friend Ken Shoda offers this "shoot for the moon" variant in which you can win the game immediately if you can name all of your tiles correctly.
Jeppe Norsker's Match Madness is a real-time pattern-building game in which each player has five rectangular blocks with domino-style markings on them, and during a round players race to assemble their blocks to match the pattern revealed on a target card. (The game has different variations in which multiple cards are in play.)
Match Madness: Extreme expands the game by giving each player a single cube that has four markings on it. Now you'll have a much tougher time figuring out how to replicate the patterns since not everything is chunked into domino shapes.
Slam Bluff is the second "game in a collapsible dice cup" from FoxMind. You shake the dice, then slam down on the cup with your hand, which collapses it and locks the dice in place. You then secretly look at the dice and Bluff-style give a number created by the dice (or just make up a number). The next player calls your bluff or takes the cup, looks at it, then says a higher number, with the subsequent player needing to call them out or raise.
Slam Words has a similar cup, but you smash it, reveal the letters, then race to name a word that contains those letters before anyone else can.
I had hoped to post more from this show, but the internet is junky in this hotel, and the fair opens again in a half hour, so I need to head back to the Javits Center to take more pics and notes. For now, I'll leave you with a full frontal Pikachu shot:
Read more »
- VideoThe BGG Show: Catching Up on the Past Four Months
1. I've now posted more than ninety game overview videos from the Spielwarenemesse 2020 trade fair on our BGG Express YouTube channel. Many of the videos are only two or three minutes long, giving you a quick taste of what awaits in the future. I have another eleven still to post and will do so in the next day or two. Lots going on right now...
2. We have a BGG team at the FIJ game fair in Cannes, France, and they will be livestreaming interviews with designers and publishers on Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23 on our Twitch channel. You can see the schedule of which titles will be featured on camera here, but that schedule was somewhat empty and the team has been dragging unexpected guests on camera to talk about their games. Who knows who will show up next?!
3. I'm heading to NY Toy Fair on Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23 to see what there is to see, and I'll be tweeting pics and notes on BGG's Twitter feed. Follow along, or wait for the round-up posts that will come in the next couple of weeks before BGG will run its next livestream at GAMA Expo 2020 on March 10-12.
4. After months of busyness following SPIEL and BGG.CON 2019, we have finally recorded another episode of The BGG Show. Lots has happened since our last show, and we summarize some of those events, with me giving a quick rundown of Man muss auch gönnen können, a somewhat involved roll-and-write game from Ulrich Blum and Jens Merkl that was recently released in Germany by Schmidt Spiele. I plan to do a thorough overview in the future once I've played a few more times, but this will give you a taste of the game:
00:15 Opening and intros
01:01 BGG News and Announcements: Moving
04:11 BoardGameGeek Express Channel convention coverage
07:52 GameNight! Live: The Wilson Wolfe Affair — George G Fox — Simulacra Games
08:36 Top 10 vs. 10
10:52 BGG Events — BGG Spring 2020: May 22nd-25th
12:19 Upcoming convention coverage
15:08 Dodo — Frank Bebenroth, Marco Teubner — KOSMOS
17:39 BoardGameGeek has exceeded 100,000 subscribers on YouTube!
19:57 News and New Releases: Repos Production purchased by Asmodee
21:27 New edition of Belratti
24:05 What Have You Been Playing?
Eric — Man muss auch gönnen können — Ulrich Blum, Jens Merkl — Schmidt Spiele
29:08 Nidavellir — Serge Laget — GRRRE Games
30:19 Steph — Maracaibo — Alexander Pfister — Game's Up
36:07 Scott — Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated — Andy Clautice, Paul Dennen — Renegade Game Studios
38:53 Lincoln — 5 Minute Dungeon — Connor Reid — Wiggles 3D
39:49 Video Vortex — Mitch Ryckman, Trevan Haskell — Mondo Games
43:55 BoardGameGeek turned 20!
45:43 Goodbyes Read more »
- VideoGame Overview: Nidavellir, or Drafting a Dwarven RainbowSerge Laget and French publisher GRRRE Games, a 2-5 player bidding-and-army-building game called Nidavellir.
Nidavellir is the homeworld of the dwarves in Norse mythology, and in this game you're building an army of dwarves, with the value of that army being determined by its collective bravery value, along with the sum of the coins you use to bid.
The game lasts two ages, and in each age you have 3-4 turns, with each turn consisting of the players visiting three taverns to recruit dwarves for their army. Each player starts with five coins — 0,2,3,4,5 — and you secretly place bids on your own player board for those three taverns, with the remaining two coins being placed in your purse. Everyone reveals their first bid, with ties being broken based on numbered gems, then players each draft one dwarf based on the bidding order, swapping gems in the case of ties. Then you reveal the second and third bids and do the same thing again.
If you reveal your 0 bid, you choose late at that tavern, but you sum the two coins in your pouch, then take a coin equal to that value from the bank, then discard the highest coin in your pouch. This boosts your bidding power in future taverns, and you earn more points at game's end for your coin stash.
When you have the first rank of all five types of dwarves in your army, you collect one of the heroes on the side of the board. In the image above, you can see that I took one of the orange heroes that adds three ranks with only one card. This both boosts the orange scoring — which is computed by multiplying the number of your orange ranks by the sum of your orange values — and makes it so that I don't have to worry about getting more orange cards in order to complete more ranks.
You want to get sets of all five ranks in order to collect more heroes, but you also want to specialize in colors since the more you get in a color, the more valuable (in general) those later cards are. A purple rank is worth 3 points, then 4, then 5, and so on, so you want lots of purple, but green is worth the square of the number of green ranks you have, so you want lots of those, too.
After the first age, a bonus is possibly handed out for each color. If one player has more ranks in a color than each other player, then that player receives the bonus in that color, which might allow them to upgrade a coin or gain a bonus card or acquire a permanent tie-breaker bonus. You then run through the second age — bidding, drafting, possibly grabbing heroes — then you tally your points.
I've played Nidavellir twice on a review copy, but only with two players each time which is a shame as the game will clearly play out differently based on the number of players. More players means more competition for the dwarves in each tavern, which means that bidding will be more important since you risk being locked out of the colors you need, whether for hero-worthy sets or for a points bonanza in a color. With only two players (or three), you draft more cards during the game, so you're more likely to complete ranks and get heroes, which means that scoring will be much higher than in games with four or five players.
In any case, I go further into the game in this overview:
Youtube Video Read more »
- Back to Back to the Future with Funko Games
Just ahead of NY Toy Fair 2020, U.S. publisher Funko Games has announced the first non-Funkoverse title in its line-up — Back to the Future: Back in Time, with this being a fully co-operative game for 2-4 players that plays in under an hour and that features a dice tower inside the Hill Valley clock tower.
Here's an overview of this Q3 2020 release from the in-house design team of Prospero Hall:"Wait a minute, Doc, are you telling me you built a time machine...out of a DeLorean?"
The photo of the McFly family is slowly fading... It's 1955, and you're wrapped up in a time paradox with Biff, Lorraine, George, and Doc Brown! Cooperate to move around Hill Valley to get the DeLorean ready, avoid Biff and his gang, help George and Lorraine fall in love, and crank the DeLorean up to 88 MPH — all just in time for the lightning to strike the Clock Tower, sending you back to the future!
The other BTTF titles due out in 2020, as covered in October 2019, are a Back to the Future title from Funko Games due out in July 2020 that will be part of the Funkoverse Strategy Game and a different co-operative dice-based game from Chris Leder, Ken Franklin, Kevin Rodgers, and Ravensburger titled Back to the Future: Dice Through Time that will debut at UK Games Expo in June 2020. Read more »
- Try Your Hand at Being a Meddling Kid in Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansionposted about Ravensburger's Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons. In that post I wrote "it's time to start seeing game announcements for licensed titles that will have their revelations timed specifically to this show", and here's yet another such announcement:
In mid-May 2020, Warner Brothers and Atlas Entertainment will release the animated movie SCOOB!, which will feature the fifty-year-old dog Scooby-Doo and his constant companions Velma, Fred, Daphne, and Shaggy trying to solve yet another mystery.
Not coincidentally, in late May 2020, game publisher The OP will release Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion – A Coded Chronicles Game, a co-operative game from Sen-Foong Lim and Jay Cormier in which players take on the roles of these characters and attempt to solve a mystery of their own. Here's an overview of how this game works:In Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion, players take on the roles of the teen sleuths and their courageous canine pal to solve a mystery! Work together to decode clues and find your way out of the haunted mansion in this co-operative "Coded Chronicles" game. Can you solve the mystery of Lady Fairmont's ghost with the help of Mystery, Inc.?
In more detail, more than fifty clues are hidden in the pieces and interactive game board to help you discover what happened in Lady Fairmont's haunted mansion! Players share five narrative booklets to be read as everyone works together to fill in the story's missing details. Different parts are kept in secret envelopes to be opened as the crew unlocks the answers.
"Coded Chronicles" is The OP's trademarked term for, to quote its press release, "the first at-home escape room-style activity that integrates storylines from iconic franchises into the foundation of a unique code-revealing mechanic, which players use to cooperatively and gradually unlock new parts of the game".
Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is for one or more players ages 12 and up, and it bears a 120-minute playing time. Read more »
- Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power Challenges You to Wield the Infinity GauntletMarvel Villainous: Infinite Power, a standalone game from designer Prospero Hall and publisher Ravensburger, the team behind the Disney Villainous line of games that has sold more than 800,000 copies since its debut in 2018.
Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power is for 2-4 players ages 12 and up, bears a playing time of 40-80 minutes, and carries a US$35 MSRP. The game features five villains, including Hela, Ultron, and cover star Thanos, and gameplay is similar to Disney Villainous, but with a few twists:Dominate the Marvel universe as an iconic comic book villain! Each villain follows a unique path to victory; each uses different abilities to face other villains and mighty heroes from across the universe.
In Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, players move their villains to different locations within their domain, carry out the actions there, and deal twists of fate their opponents from a shared fate deck. Three different game modes allow players to scale the difficulty of their game by facing more or fewer events — situations that extract a heavy toll on villains until they are resolved the only way villains know how. Specialty cards add to each villain's ability, making them even more formidable as more specialty cards are played. With beginner and advance options, this game is an adventure for the whole family!
Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power is scheduled for release at the start of August 2020, and unlike its Disney predecessor the game is not a Target exclusive and will be available at retailers both large and small.
(Disclosure: I was hired by Ravensburger to edit the rules and components of Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power. —WEM) Read more »
- Abandon All Artichokes as You Drop by the Gamewright Dungeon for a Marshmallow Test
In any case, U.S. publisher Gamewright has announced its game release schedule for 2020, and it plans to issue nine games in 2020. (Technically Gamewright is announcing ten new releases, but that's because it's including Darren Kisgen's Dragonrealm on the list. That title debuted in Q3 2019, but it wasn't previously announced to the NY Toy Fair audience, which means it's new to them. Anyway...)
• The top title on Gamewright's list might be Scott R. Smith's Dungeon Drop, which was crowdfunded in mid-2019 by Phase Shift Games and which started reaching backers in January 2020.
In this 1-4 player game, you set up the dungeon by dropping cubes on the table, with these cubes representing treasure, monsters, pillars, chests, keys, and other items. Each player has a fantasy class and race, with each having specific powers and life points. On a turn, you choose three pillars, then collect all of the items within the triangle formed by those pillars, with you trying to get gold (which is always worth points) and other items based on your hidden scoring card.
Hisashi Hayashi's flip-and-write game MetroX, which was previously available only from Hayashi's OKAZU Brand. In this game, you're trying to complete subway lines more quickly than other players to receive large bonuses, while also just filling in as many stations as possible. Gamewright already has copies of MetroX in stock, and it should be available at stores in Q1 2020.
Qwixx Card Game. Gamewright has been extremely successful with Qwixx, and now it's finally expanding the brand from NSV Games. In the game, players try to cross off numbers in four colored rows to score points, with you doing so based on (1) the number visible on the back of the deck and (2) the drafted cards played from your hand, with you needing to play sequential cards to maximize your score.
Abandon All Artichokes is a card game from Emma Larkins that challenges you to do just that. Here's a short description of this Q1 2020 release:A bumper-crop of prickly produce has overtaken your patch, and there's only one choice: abandon all artichokes! Prune your deck by harvesting fresh vegetables, each with a special power that lets you swap, discard, or compost cards. You need luck, strategy, and a green thumb to grow a winning hand!
Hi Lo Flip, a card game for 2-6 players from Garrett J. Donner and Michael S. Steer that plays as follows:In Hi Lo Flip, you want to ditch all the cards in your hand, while also keeping others from playing so that you can collect the discard pile for yourself.
Each round in the game, you start with a hand of seven cards from a deck numbered 1-100. The HI-LO chip is in the center of the table showing one side of it. On a turn, you play a card from your hand onto the discard pile that is either higher or lower (depending on the HI-LO chip) than the current top card. If you can't play, then flip the chip. If it lands on the opposite side, play a card, then end your turn; if not, then draw a card, playing it immediately, if possible. If you still can't play, then whoever played most recently claims all of the cards in the discard pile, then you play whatever card you want.
If you play a card that ends with a 1, then the next player draws a card and skips their turn. If the card ends in a 2, then you must play again.
When someone runs out of cards, they collect the discard pile, then players tally their points for cards collected, with cards ending in 0 being worth 10 points and all other cards 1 point. The player who went out scores a bonus of 10 points. Complete multiple rounds until a player scores more than 75 points, with whoever has the highest score at that point winning the game.
Marshmallow Test is a 2-5 player trick-taking game from Reiner Knizia that sounds like a new version of 2017's Voodoo Prince from Schmidt Spiele:It's a tricky-sticky situation: a game that rewards patience, but only for so long...
Win tricks in Marshmallow Test by playing the highest card in the established color. The longer you wait to go out, the more points you score — but don't delay too long or else you get nothing! Find the sweet spot and victory is your ultimate prize!
Shifting Stones is the only Q3 2020 release on this list, with this 1-5 player game sounding like a real-time puzzle game:Leave no stone unturned! Nine mystical tiles lie before you in a grid of rocky ruins. Rearrange the tiles to match one or more of the patterns in your hand. The catch is that you must sacrifice a card every time you swap or flip a tile. Carve out the most points in Shifting Stones, and your victory will be set in stone!
Hmm, more details needed, which is what a trip to NY Toy Fair 2020 will help provide...
Splurt! is another new edition of a previously self-published game. To play, shuffle the deck of cards, then flip over one to reveal the category on the back of the card, e.g., a nickname and the condition on the front of the next card, e.g., begins with A. Whoever yells out a valid answer first wins the flipped card. Can you name an animal containing five letters? A song ending in E? Collect the most cards to win!
Hit List is a party game for four or more players that may or may not be related to the 2016 release iKNOW: Hit List from Tactic. The premises sound the same, but again, this is something to figure out later.
I'll note that I run into Gamewright developer Jason Schneider at many conventions, and he has a good eye for what makes a design ideal for Gamewright. I've suggested that he check out this or that game as something that I think would be a good license to pick up, and inevitably when I see him later, he'll say, "Yeah, that sort of worked", then he'll name some element of the design that makes it a miss, whether the player count, the rules overhead, something in the graphics, or a detail I never would have noticed.
As for this design, the explanation of how to play is on the box itself: "1 clue, 6 answers, 30 seconds". That tagline gets you 85% of the way to playing, with only a few details yet to be discovered. That's what Gamewright wants in its party game line, and recognizing that would be a plus for designers pitching prototypes to them. As for this game, here are a few more details:Read more »Put this party game at the top of your list! Flip the timer, draw a card, and race to shout out answers that fit the category. How quickly can your team name ice cream brands? Vampires? Cartoon cats? Answers can be obvious or obscure, but they score only if they're on the Hit List!
- VideoWonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons Coming in March 2020 from Ravensburger
With that in mind, on March 1, 2020, Ravensburger will release Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons, this being a co-operative game for 2-5 players that's designed by Prospero Hall and illustrated by comic book artist Jenny Frison, who has created dozens of Wonder Woman covers.
The game description provided by Ravensburger is brief—The Amazons, a powerful tribe of warriors, have lived in peace for centuries on the tranquil island of Themyscira. That peace is shattered when their enemies invade. Now it's up to you to defend your home!
In the co-operative game Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons, you'll strategize together, face your foes on the battlefield, and rise to meet the challenge!
—but Rodney Smith of Watch It Played has already posted an overview video of how the game works should you care to check that out.
Youtube Video Read more »
- Stefan Brück to Leave Alea in Mid-2020alea publishing brand — and parent company Ravensburger — in mid-2020.
This news was first reported by Sebastian Wenzel on Spielen.de, and I've confirmed with Ravensburger that Brück is leaving at his own request. The two alea titles teased at the Spielwarenmesse 2020 trade fair — The Castles of Tuscany and a new version of Puerto Rico — will be released as planned.
The alea game brand debuted at Spielwarenmesse 1999 with the presentation of Reiner Knizia's Ra and Karsten Hartwig's Chinatown. Brück had joined Ravensburger when that company bought his previous employer, F.X. Schmid, in the late 1990s, and the alea line was established to present strategy games somewhat more involved than the family games published by its parent company. While Brück is mostly known for his development work with alea, he has also edited many games that bear the Ravensburger logo.
I'll note that I've played games with Brück several times, specifically when designers were pitching potential alea titles to him. After a single playing, Brück would present his understanding of the game back to the designer, boiling everything down to its core, akin to characters in The Matrix seeing through reality to the code underneath it all. Everything was boiled down to points, money, bits, and actions — the game world in its most basic elements — and Brück would lay out the issues that he saw in the design, effectively inviting the designer to pitch the game again in a year when all of those issues had been worked out.
Ravensburger states that the alea brand will continue, although a successor to Brück's role as editor, developer, and line manager has not yet been named. I asked Brück about his future plans, and he said, "Give me some more weeks for a more concrete answer." Read more »
- VideoGame Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2020 III: Beez, Flyin' Goblin, Last-Second Quest, and War of the Ring: Kings of Middle-earthKings of Middle-earth, a new forthcoming expansion for the second edition of War of the Ring from Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello, the latter of whom explains what you'll find in the box.
My apologies to Mr. Nepitello for butchering his name, which Lincoln pointed out to me later, and for not knowing a thing about War of the Ring, which I've yet to play. (Lord of the Rings has never held any appeal to me, so I'm at a loss in terms of what to ask about this expansion and what to summarize in this space: "So, um, more dwarves in this one, I see?" Thus endeth my confession for today.)
Beez from Dan Halstad and Next Move Games was much more my speed given that I didn't have to know anything about actual bees (or even "beez") in order to follow what was being said.
The gist of the game is that you want to collect pollen, and to make your movement through the flowers more beelike, you can never move in the same direction two turns in a row. You dart in one direction, then make a 60º turn, then turn around and rush the other way. Are you lost and trying to find your way around? No, you're just being a bee!
Last-Second Quest from Christian Giove and WizKids has a Galaxy Trucker feel to it, with players trying to stuff items into their backpacks — which come in various sizes from one round to the next — to complete quests quickly while leaving no space wasted.
Zoch Verlag's Rüssel raus! is an incredibly simple game from the design team of Inka Brand, Markus Brand, and Matthias Prinz, but sometimes you need a lot of brain power to get to the level of simplicity that's optimal.
Rüssel raus! presents a new take on rock/paper/scissors — sort of — is that each round players simultaneously put out either a fist or one finger, with the fingers then being summed and everyone placing one of the cards on display into their termite mound of the same number. Collect three termites of the same type into a mound, and you score; score twice, and you win. Pepper spray causes some complications but also another way to score.
Zen Garden from Queen Games is one of the few 2020 titles that I've played at this point, with the game having a very Queen feel to it. Players buy tiles from a display for 0-2 coins, then place that tile adjacent to others in their garden, slowly building a 4x4 display that tries to maximize points in several different areas, kind of the way you might look at several overlapping Venn diagrams and try to find whatever fits into the most of them as the answer to your troubles.
Flyin' Goblin from Corentin Lebrat, Théo Rivière, and IELLO will be launched soon at the FIJ 2020 fair in Cannes, France, and this quick look at the game gives you an idea of what to target as you prepare your goblins on the launch pad.
Youtube Video Read more »
- VideoGame Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2020 II: Dodo, Four Gardens, Castle of Mind, Moovz, and Die Wikinger Sagaone round-up of game preview videos that BGG recorded at the Spielwarenmesse 2020 trade fair, and now we have 44 such videos in place on our BGG Express YouTube channel in a Spielwarenmesse 2020 playlist. Lincoln and Nikki have been cranking through the editing on these videos ahead of a trip to Cannes, France to cover the Festival International des Jeux, and you can be the beneficiary of that work. Let me highlight a few of these videos here:
• I knew the basics of Dodo when we visited the KOSMOS booth — a co-operative kids' game in which you try to save the dodo's egg — and I assumed this would be a ridiculously difficult game intended to teach children about the meaningless of life and why you shouldn't bother trying to achieve your goals. After all, dodos are extinct, so clearly these children failed.
What I didn't expect was the bizarre, wait-a-sec-is-that-egg-broken-or-does-the-presenter-not-notice-it's-still-OHMIGOD-THAT-EGG-IS-WOBBLING-ALONG-LIKE-IT'S-POSSESSED effect of seeing the dodo egg in action. The gameplay is basic, with players needing to roll a die and find stuff (or remember where they saw stuff previously), with you being to increase the difficulty of the game if needed, but the production quality of the game is astounding, with action that will look like nothing in still images, yet be eye-catching in videos on social media.
Four Gardens from Korea Boardgames has a collect-stuff-build-stuff core that you've likely experienced in other games, but it features a four-level pagoda that depicts the stuff that you can collect, and on a turn, you rotate some level of the pagoda, with all levels above this also rotating, which can be good or bad since you have limited space in which to store that stuff.
The scoring part of the game has a neat twist as you move up four colored tracks as you complete buildings. If you reach the top of a track and score that color again, you don't gain any more points — you being at the top and all — but everyone else is knocked down one scoring level in that color. Keep scoring in that color, and you can knock them off that track completely with no chance of readmittance.
Castle of Mind is a two-player abstract strategy game and the first release from Hungarian company Fontanus Center.
At some point during the many discussions that Lincoln and I had while rushing between exhibitor booths, I mentioned that I found it surprising that publishers didn't create a set of thumbnail-proportioned images (640x360, 1,280x720, 1,920x1,080) to give members of the press so that videos wouldn't have so many odd-looking thumbnails that wedge a 3D cover in place awkwardly — and lo and behold, Fontanus Center was the first such company to deliver a thumbnail-proportioned image when I requested a 2D front cover for use on BGG. (I'd still like the flat front cover, but at least this video looks sharp!)
a short overview of Die Wikinger Saga from Schmidt Spiele in mid-January 2020, but that description didn't give me a sense of how the game was played. A much longer description is now in place on the BGG page thinks to co-designer Knut Happel, but I still feel like it doesn't capture what you're doing in the game — and the tricky thing is that I don't know how to properly summarize the gameplay either, even having sat in during this presentation.
Too many games in too few days perhaps. Time to watch it again to re-learn what's already fallen out of my head...
Moovz from Helvetiq, a two-player game in which each player sets up marbles in a pattern on the wooden board they hold in their hands. Once both players are ready, someone flips the challenge card to reveal the target arrangement of marbles, then each player must tilt and jostle their board to move marbles into the proper places. Part of the challenge is physical, but part is also seeing what you need to do in order to reach that target pattern.
Ideally we can shoot a better presented video of this game at SPIEL '20 as we'll then have an overhead camera and can do a better job of keeping things in the frame. Still, I hope you'll give it a look.
Youtube Video Read more »
- VideoPrepping for NY Toy Fair 2020 with Steven Universe, a Piece of Pie, and a Rip Off
• U.S. publisher Cryptozoic Entertainment will continue its association with Cartoon Network with the Q1 2020 release of Steven Universe: Beach-A-Palooza Card Battling Game, a 3-6 player game from designers Erica Bouyouris and Andrew Wolf that works as follows:At this year's Beach-a-Palooza, Steven has a surefire way to win: Recruit more Stevens from the timeline and have them all front their own bands!
Steven Universe: Beach-A-Palooza Card Battling Game is your chance to become a Steven and try to put together the best band and audience! But it's not going to be easy as party crashers — both Corrupted and Homeworld Gems — want to ruin your amazing performance. It's Beach City's event of the year and you're on center stage. Play your cards right, and your band might be the big winner!
In more detail, each round you draft three character cards that feature gems and various familiar characters, sometimes being able to recruit characters to your stage or audience to generate energy and other effects. Get the right characters on stage, and you can form powerful fusions!
• On Facebook, Cryptozoic teased the titles it will be showing at NYTF and the GAMA Expo in March, and aside from the title above and an Epic Spell Wars title that I can't make out, the publisher will be showing the next title in its DC Comics Deck-Building Game line — Dark Nights: Metal, presumably based on the comic series of the same name from 2017-2018.
• The U.S. division of Blue Orange Games will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2020 by releasing twenty new games. Sounds like a crazy plan! We've already covered a few of these titles when writing about releases from the European branch of BOG, specifically Maracas, Droll (under the name Draw'n'Roll), and Rose Ceremony (under the name Valentine's Day) in this Feb. 1, 2020 post and Cupcake Academy, Animix, and Gen Con 2020 release Dragomino in this Feb. 6, 2020 post.
Other titles coming from Blue Orange Games include:
Fréderic Moyersoen's Save the Dragon, a game for ages 5+ in which you're trying to climb steps and set up shields to keep you from knocked back by rolling boulders before you can reach the top to do what the title suggests.
—Bye Bye Mr. Fox! from Marie and Wilfried Fort, with 1-4 young players needing to incubate and protect eggs so that they're not snatched.
—Piece of Pie, a drafting game from Trevor Benjamin and Brett J. Gilbert in which 2-4 players take pieces of pie (as advertised) to complete objectives.
— David Wexler's Fish Club, which has players dropping their fish into a Drop It-style tank with the goal of having five of these fish touching.
—Rip Off from Urtis Šulinskas, with players needing to rip up "dollar bills" in order to cover expenses — literally covering them with the pieces of the bills.
• Many game pitches from non-hobby companies attending NY Toy Fair feature games akin to the one below:
In case you care for a description of this release from new publisher Far Out Toys, here you go:Players must choose wisely in this slimy new game, Snot Nose, or they will get #snotted! With Snot Nose, players take turns pulling a booger out of the oversized nose and if the booger pulls out cleanly they are still in the game, but if you get a Snot Gush, you're out! The game comes with a wearable snot nose and make-your-own slime packets.
The #UpsideDownChallenge Game from newcomer Vango, and yes, the hashtag is part of the game's name. Here's an overview of gameplay:Each turn, the active player draws a challenge card, which might be an individual challenge or a group challenge. Whoever the active player is dons glasses that flip their vision upside down, then they try to do what they've been challenged to do, such as giving someone a high five, pouring water into a glass, or drawing a picture.
You win and lose points along the way, and whoever first collects six points wins!
• Belgian publisher Smart Toys and Games makes fantastic logic puzzles, and for 2020 it's adding three games to its line (in addition to new logic puzzles). Froggit has 2-6 players ages 6+ racing frogs across a pond and sending one another back to start. Top Spot is a 3-5 player card game in which the cards have holes, and you score points by combining them in some manner. Cube Duel, shown below, is a two-player duel in which you're trying to have more of your color exposed once the game ends, and it includes eighty challenges for solo-mode play in case you still want a logic puzzle once the game is over.
Read more »
- Spielwarenmesse 2020 X: Previews of Games from FIJ 2020FIJ 2020 Preview.)
The BGG team will be on hand in Cannes livestreaming from that convention, with our broadcast starting on Feb. 20 during the "professional" day when designers and other game industry pros can walk the fair without the public being on site. I'm still working on the broadcast schedule at this time, and as in years past, the BGG team — in this case, Beth Heile, Rodney Smith, and Lincoln Damerst — will likely need to walk the convention center to find people to put on camera. Maybe my publisher contacts are out of date, maybe French publishers prefer to be lackadaisical about setting appointments, I don't know.
As with other posts about Spielwarenmesse 2020, video overviews of many of these games will be published on the BGG Express YouTube channel and the individual game pages before the end of February 2020. Note that the components and artwork shown in the images below is non-final and not necessarily representative of what you'll find in print once these games appear on shelves.
French publisher Ankama ran a Kickstarter campaign for Arkeis from Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, and Théo Rivière in November 2019, and the game probably won't be released until the end of 2020 at the earliest, but you can be sure that Ankama will keep showing these bits to remind folks of what's coming.
I didn't get an overview of Ankama's Dream Runners from Joan Dufour as the publisher preferred to wait until FIJ 2020 when a more presentable looking mock-up would be available. Until then, you have this image...
It's a Wonderful World: War or Peace from Benoit Bannier, Frédéric Guérard, and La Boîte de Jeu will be on sale at FIJ 2020, with the upcoming Ascension expansion available for demo. Scott Alden told me that I should play this one, so it's on the shelf for playing in the near future.
Another title on the "to be played" shelves is Nidavellir from Serge Laget and GRRRE Games, with this being a bidding game for 2-5 players in which you recruit individuals from taverns to build an army of dwarven defenders across five types, with you gaining bonus heroes and additional bidding coins along the way.
At FIJ 2020, Lumberjacks Studio will have the first two titles in its "Coffee Break" line of games for sale: Monster Café and Gold River. I had posted an overview of these two titles in early January 2020 in case you're curious.
I had also covered Mosquito Show from Bruno Cathala, Andrea Mainini, and The Flying Games in that same post. In short, you must eat a mosquito each turn or else you lose the game — and if you eat the right combination of mosquitoes first, you win.
Another title for sale at FIJ 2020 will be Wild Space, a combo-based crew-building game from Joachim Thôme and Catch Up Games. I hope to play this one soon as well, but if nothing else, you should be able to check out an overview video before the con opens.
Imagician from Olivier Mahy and BLAM ! features a dot-to-dot drawing system of sorts, with players racing to draw lines between spell ingredients in order to create an image that they can guess before anyone else. We'll have to get that on camera at FIJ 2020 as I'm curious to see this in practice.
Antonin Boccara's Fiesta de los Muertos from OldChap Editions debuted in October 2019, but it was new to me in Nürnberg — not that I got a description or anything. Snap, snap, zoom! Maybe I'll get to check it out in more detail at, um, SPIEL '20, but here's a short description: "Welcome to the Fiesta de los Muertos. On this sacred day, the dead are back! Choose a word to describe your deceased character, but note that this word will pass from hand to hand and change little by little. Can you find your character and the character of the other players?"
We had recorded a video overview of Ghost Adventure from Buzzy Games at FIJ 2019 when it bore the name "Spinlander" and was in far less complete of a condition. The basic idea is that you'll start a top spinning on one of the boards while you're holding it, and you have to navigate that top through the land, ideally flipping it onto a new board once you've traveled as far as you can go. Buzzy's Wlad Watine was kind of amazing demoing this game on camera!
Until a few years ago, Spielwarenmesse ran Wednesday through Monday, and every single person I talked to about that timeline said that it didn't make sense because absolutely no one visited the fair on Monday.
Now the fair runs only Wednesday through Sunday, and attendance is still sparse on Sunday, with many people vacating their booths the previous day or leaving behind only a token representative to hand out flyers and business cards. Many people I tried to book appointments with were not available on Sunday, and when we finished filming at 15:30 and I started touring booths to take more photos, I often discovered those booths being dissembled before the fair was even over.
Not sure how well this non-motored-cycle might roll, but it certainly catches the eye as you're walking through Hall 10!
Multiple jigsaw-puzzle manufacturers had booths in Hall 10, and I loved walking past the Cloudberries booth as that "Gradient" puzzle was mesmerizing. I might like the idea of doing that puzzle more than actually doing that puzzle, but for now I have only the idea to consider, and that's good.
Alas, you could not drive this monster truck back to your apartment in the evening, but it filled the role of "giant vehicle outside Hall 10 that greets visitors after they exit the metro", something that's been in place each year that I've attended since 2013.
I hope that you've enjoyed all these pics and the short write-ups that accompanied some of them. I'll be at NY Toy Fair on Feb. 21-22, so more such posts will come after that event since people keep insisting on publishing new games and I keep finding out about them... Read more »
- Game Preview: Glasgow, or Two People Make GlasgowThe Game: Quick & Easy (five times with Lincoln and others, and I've already covered that title in detail here, Zen Garden (covered a bit here), and Glasgow, a design from Mandela Fernandez-Grandon that will be Lookout Games' next release in its two-player game line.
I've played only once, and the graphics and art are unfinished — possibly the development as well — so let me keep the overview at a fairly high level. First, here's a basic description:In Glasgow, players travel the city (in an abstract manner) to collect resources, take special actions, and most important of all construct buildings. Build a factory, and you'll receive more goods from it when other buildings are constructed in the right areas in relation to it; build a train station, and you may or may not score from it depending on what else you build; build a monument, and you'll merely collect a lot of points — and in the end, points are what matters.
In slightly more detail, to set up the game, lay out a ring of town figures at random, with two of them being removed from play each game. Whoever is farther behind in the circle around town takes the next turn, advancing to whichever town figure they want to visit. Most of them give you resources — brick, steel, or money — and you have a limit on how many resources of each type you can hold. Some figures have two random building plans at them, and if you visit one with the right resources, you can pay them, then build something. If you pay extra, you can then build something else, too!
The first building is placed anywhere in the midst of play, then each subsequent building is placed adjacent to something already built, with the buildings eventually filling in a 4x4 grid of the players' own creation. As soon as the sixteenth building is erected, the game ends and players score points for what they built. Who has contributed more to the current state of Glasgow?
Glasgow has lots of elements you've seen in other games: a time track for movement, as in Lookout's Patchwork and many other designs, which forces you to waver constantly between jumping ahead to grab the thing you really need (at the expense of giving the opponent everything you pass) vs. trying to grab an extra item or two; resource management with a ceiling on how much you can hold so you must surf between collecting and spending, with both extremes being less than ideal since they'll force to make bad choices during movement; and scoring combinations on buildings that encourage you to collect all of this one thing or one of each of these other things or those third things in these places.
A few townspeople offer special actions that go beyond collecting and spending: One lets you trade goods in your hold, another grants you a barrel that serves as a joker item as beer is apparently a universal currency in Scotland; another lets you use the next card you land on twice, and still another allows you to flush building plans from an architect's hands, which is great for both stifling the opponent or pulling the slot machine lever for what you need.
In one sense, Glasgow falls in the same bucket as Lookout's Mandala, which I raved about here, as it feels like a classic, no-frills, well-honed design. You want a twenty-minute game that will deliver something fresh (thanks to the randomization), yet familiar (thanks to its design core) each time? Then here you go! Lookout has had a solid record of developmental success for more than a decade, and you can feel that knowledge at work in Glasgow as the game flows well and you can jump into it almost immediately thanks to iconography that tells you almost everything you need to know. Read more »
- Spielwarenmesse 2020 IX: Sneak Peeks at CMON, Cranio Creations, Capio, Capcool, and CARAPACES
Oh, and a game preview to write, then game preview videos to create. The end of my to-do list will recede forever...
While in Nürnberg, Germany, the BGG team (Lincoln and I) recorded video overviews of roughly one hundred upcoming games, and those videos will be published on the BGG Express YouTube channel and the individual game pages before the end of February 2020. Note that the components and artwork shown in the images below is non-final and not necessarily representative of what you'll find in print once these games appear on shelves.
Okay, that's a pretty sweet paint job on Cthulhu, but I think you'd expect as much in the CMON Limited booth. After all, you don't want a sloppy-looking spokesgod hawking your wares.
Speaking of nicely-painted miniatures, I wish that I could have shot these figures from Ankh: Gods of Egypt in a whitebox to better show off the detail, but alas, I could take a pic only in this glass case. I'm sure CMON will post such pics once this title heads to Kickstarter.
I did not realize that Zombicide was going to have a Washington Z.C. campaign expansion, but that's because I don't follow the majority of Kickstarter announcements, instead focusing on announcements of games heading to market the old-fashioned way: in the back of a truck to retail stores.
Thus, everyone who followed the Zombicide second edition Kickstarter campaign already knows about this item, and if you didn't follow that campaign, then you might not care about this item, so let's move on!
This game and the next might be as different from a miniature-filled CMON game as possible — Capio from biwo spiele is a real-time dice-grabbing game in which you're trying to complete task cards before anyone else can.
I first saw Calcool at the Deutsches Spielearchiv in Nürnberg on Friday night when we recorded a tour of the museum stacks and attended the Duali ceremony. Someone had handed one of the museum employees the game as a donation, and I spotted it in his hand as we were leaving, said, "I don't recognize that game!", then snapped a pic so that I could contact the company for info:
I wrote to biwo's Otmar Bettscheider and Karin Herrmann on Friday night, they responded on Saturday morning, and we filmed overviews of these two games on Sunday. Convention magic!
Italian publisher Cranio Creations had a handful of upcoming games on display, including a much more finished version of its new version of Kramer and Kiesling's Maharaja than we saw in 2019.
Aside from a mock-up cover for Golem, the only other item Cranio had on display for the game was an incredibly rough version of the action distribution device. I didn't even peek inside to see how it might work since it didn't seem to matter. We have a non-final cover and a somewhat thorough game description, and we'll have to live with that for now.
Late on Sunday I came across the booth for Italian publisher Dal Negro and gave a little sigh that Leo Colovini's tricky card game Corsari (lower right) is still available with its original pirate look in Italy, while the North American market had only the blandly empty version called I Go — and now not even that.
I wondered what else Dal Negro might have available, its most recent original release in the BGG database being from 2012, so I took a catalog and a business card and made yet another entry in my "to follow up" list for who knows when given that FIJ 2020 and NY Toy Fair 2020 and GAMA Expo 2020 and all sorts of other events are rushing toward me even now. Sigh...
Mostly I took this pic as I thought my wife would be amused by the idea of a game called Prosecco Queen. Only afterward did I realize that the game isn't in the BGG database. GeekGold awaits whoever wants to chase down this lead to discover all the party games from this publisher that await cataloguing.
We'll end this post not with a game, but with a 3D building system that I ran across late on Sunday afternoon in Hall 10 when Romain-Guirec, designer of the INSIDE3 rolling ball mazes, grabbed me to ask why they could not be included in the BGG database. We talked for a while about the distinction between puzzles and games — a topic I've also covered in this thread — then I realized that I was staring at something amazing: a 3D building system called "CARAPACES".
The system uses triangles in ten shapes — depicted in the center column — and in whatever colors are produced. Here's how they clip together:
You can see the male and female snaps along the edge of pieces in the strip below the skull. Romain-Guirec pointed out that while the system is widely flexible in what you can build, how you build is complicated by you building across three dimensions and needing to work out the angles of what fits where. (Yes, you build in three dimensions with LEGO blocks, but they mostly have you building at 90º angles, which is not the case here.)
Here's a closer look at that bear on the wall, followed by a rhino:
Very cool system! That said, I've seen plenty of things at Spielwarenmesse that I never hear of again outside the Messe walls, so I hope CARAPACES pans out for them on the market. We'll see...
One more post to go, with it serving as both a wrap-up of Spielwarenmesse 2020 and a peek at the future. Read more »
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