Antoine Fortuin

Bitten by a common house spider, Antoine emerged with the uncanny ability to buy more games than he had time to play. While living in the hills of Tennessee, USA, he tries to balance software development, family, and his multiple, competing hobbies. He hopes to someday discover a pocket dimension in which to store his games.

Shape-shifting wizards battle in an epic magic duel to gain the famed title of Grand Master Wizard of Zoor in Wizardz Bluff. This competitive 2-4 player, trick-taking card game, is designed by Jason Smith, and Ron Smith, with art by Eisner-nominated Travis Hanson, and Ron Smith. Wizardz Bluff is published by Gold Cauldron Games, plays in 30-45 mins, and is aimed at players aged 8+.

Players aim to collect 12 Elemental Spellstones to win the game. They start with identical hands of 11 animal transformation cards, and one Alchemist card. Each turn, each player secretly chooses an animal form which will best match and be able to collect Elemental Spellstones, while also predicting what their opponents will play. Powerful spellcards can be won if players correctly divine their opponents’ animal form, which are special one-time use abilities. After they’ve been played, they are collected as sets which provide multipliers to endgame scoring.

The Wizardz Bluff Kickstarter project has already achieved its funding goal, and is expected to deliver to backers in June of 2020.

If punching a super villain in the face, or drop kicking a tank, sounds appealing to you, then Hour of Need may scratch that itch … if you immerse yourself in the theme. It’s a cooperative game of comic book action using the Modular Deck System (MDS), also featured in Street Masters, Brook City, and Altar Quest. Hour of Need is designed by brothers Adam and Brady Sadler and published by Blacklist Games. It allows for 1-4 players, aged 14+, and plays in roughly 30-120 minutes depending on the number of players.

Players are powerful heroes who combat villainous threats over the course of 10 rounds. Villains, and issues the heroes may face, are represented by decks of cards. Through smart hand management, clever dice mitigation, and efficient problem-solving, players must defeat the schemes and villains. The combination of a hero, villain, and issue deck allows for varied and unique adventures. Special minion, bystander, crisis, ally, and nemesis cards are all modular elements which can add further variety and difficulty to the gameplay. Hour of Need is based in an original comic book setting designed by Adam and Brady.

The Hour of Need Kickstarter project has reached 80% of its funding goal so far, and will run until Tuesday, November 26th, 2019. The project features the core game, along with expansions and other accessories which can be added. The estimated delivery date for Hour of Need is in November of 2020.

Hachette Livre entered exclusive negotiations with Black Games’ shareholders to acquire a majority stake in their company. Blackrock Games, based in Romagnat, near Clermont Ferrand, was founded in 2007 by Alain Ollier and Yoann Laurent, and is the 3rd largest boardgame distributor in France. They have 25 employees, a portfolio of 30 boardgame publishers, and around 90 new releases each year, with a product portfolio of over 400 games. Yoann Laurent, supported by Thibaut Quintens and Wladimir Watine, will remain at the head of Blackrock Games.

Blackrock Games are known for Spiel des Jahres 2017 winner, Kingdomino, Celestia, Spiel des Jahres 2015 winner, Colt Express, Taggle, Feelings, Juduku, and Blanc Manger Coco.

“We are thrilled to be able to accelerate our development with Hachette Livre and thus offer new opportunities to our publishing partners. We will continue to be committed to our teams and to our values.” -Yoann Laurent, President of Blackrock Games

“We are delighted to welcome Blackrock Games, whose know-how is widely appreciated in the world of boardgames. We expect this outstanding team and its leaders to continue the great work they have been achieving so far.” -Arnaud Nourry, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hachette Livre.

Hachette Livre recently acquired Gigamic and is implementing their strategic decision to explore the family leisure market which is adjacent to their book publishing business. Hachette Livre is now composed of Gigamic, Studio H, and Funnyfox, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lagardère SCA, the third-largest trade and educational publishing group in the world.

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“The Crew” is a cooperative card game which sets players as Astronauts on uncertain space adventures. The game is designed by Thomas Sing, with art by Marco Armbruster, and is published by Kosmos. Its designed for 2-5 players, aged 10+, and plays in about 20 minutes. A 2-player variant is also included.

There are over 50 missions where players undertake common, individual tasks in order to complete the mission. Communication is essential in order to overcome the more varied challenges. The team only wins when every single player is successful with their tasks. The game becomes more difficult with each mission but can be paused after the completion of successful missions.

“The Crew” was released as “Die Crew” in Germany, and made many want lists during Essen Spiel 2019, though it does not yet have an English version.

Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood is an RPG miniatures game set in a dark fantasy world published by Shadowborne Games . It combines a novel-sized, interactive audio book of rollicking , dungeon crawling adventure with tabletop miniature battles. Its designed by Jamie Jolly to be a cooperative experience for 1-4 players, aged 14+, with stories lasting 30-60 mins and encounters lasting 90-120 mins. The entire campaign is over 45 hours long with 15 chapters. It also features unique mystery chests containing giant, monster miniatures, which are only available as Kickstarter exclusives.

“Standing between mankind and the horrors of the Deepwood are the Free Companies. These individuals are sworn by oath to fight and to die in defense of humanity – who fear and respect them in equal measure. They carry the authority of the King with them and, although a wing of the military, are free to travel and live as they wish as long as they continue to take contracts. These Free Companies, commonly referred to as Oathsworn, are small bands of singular individuals. Some take the Oath for the power it gives, some for the money, some seek vengeance. Then there are the few who take the Oath because they know what awaits humanity if no one stands in the breach.” [source]

Players embark on a hunt through an interactive storybook which is presented in hardback, or can be read through a companion app. There are also beautifully rendered maps which let players choose their path to find foes, allies, or make decisions which affect the story. At the end of this journey, a table-top encounter occurs which is focused around a “boss fight”. Players can customize their Free Company characters, skills, and equipment before each fight, and learn enemy weaknesses along the way to best utilize their loadout.

The Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood Kickstarter project has a Basic Pledge (makes use of mystery envelopes with standees), Core Pledge (makes use of the mystery chests with miniatures), and Collector’s All In Pledge (includes tons of component upgrades and add-ons). The campaign has handily surpassed its funding goal by over 2,500% with over 8,357 backers, and is set to end on Tuesday, November 5th, 2019. Estimated delivery for this project is in December of 2020.

You can also catch The Dice Tower’s live play-through of the game for more information.

After the astronomic growth and resounding success of Dice Tower Con, The Dice Tower has decided to change the convention so that the team has more creative control and direction in running the event. In a live Q&A Session on The Dice Tower channel, Tom detailed the planned changes.

Dice Tower East will be shrinking in size to accommodate around 1800 people (subject to change depending on room available at the venue). The Florida Hotel, part of The Florida Mall, will serve as the new venue. It’s just off the turnpike in Orlando, very near the airport, and will retain the same event dates over the July 4th week. Several rooms will be available for Open Gaming (four ballrooms and a few smaller rooms). There are still plans to have a vendor presence there, though it may not be as big as in the past due to space limitations, as well as a Kids Area, Hot Games Area, and flea markets. Food options are abundant, with the venue being part of a mall, and parking will not be an issue either.

With The Dice Tower team in control of all four of their events, Dice Tower East, Dice Tower West, Dice Tower Retreat, and Dice Tower Cruise, it means that The Dice Tower library will be consistent at the different events they will run. There are some logistical issues to handle in order to make this possible but that is their plans. Plans are also afoot to double the current Dice Tower library catalog. Tom will continue to curate the library and will be working with publishers and accessory companies with the goal of making it the best board game library in the world.

Official Dice Tower events will also be reduced so that The Dice Tower team are more available to play games with. This means that The Dice Tower Awards will also be pulled from the convention and be run online so that the focus of the event can be on gaming. There will still be game shows, Pitch Car Tournaments, and plans for the return of Wits & Wagers.

Registrations will open on October 2nd, 2019. For more information, watch Tom’s Q&A Session on The Dice Tower channel.

Your bear park is expanding … because the grizzlies are coming! That’s right, some of the biggest bears on earth will be making their new home in your park. Their habitats are going to be huge though, so do your best to ft them in any way you can! And with a bigger park, you’ll also need to give your guests a way to get around: that’s where your brand new monorail system comes in. [source]

If you’ve ever felt that your Bear Park needed more bears, and a better way of getting around the park to see them, then the Bärenpark: The Bad News Bears expansion is for you. Designer, Phil Walker-Harding, has added two new modules which can be added to the base game independently, or in combination with each other. Bärenpark is a tile-laying game, where players build their Bear Park in their open park areas by adding attractions and facilities to their parks while trying to accumulate the most points in doing so.

The first module adds a new challenge in the form of Grizzly bears, who need more space than the bears from the base game and make the puzzle of laying tiles more difficult. A new park area is also added, to bring the total available building space to five park areas. The second module adds a monorail that can be added to the park which enables customers to experience the natural behavior of the bears without disturbing them. Monorails add a 3rd dimension to the game board as they’re built by placing towers, in a “zig-zag” pattern, across green areas. Finally, new achievements are also added to create new challenges for expert players.

Expect Bärenpark: The Bad News Bears to feature art by Klemens Franz with its release in August of 2019. For more information, read the original announcement at the Lookout Spiele website where you can also get an advanced look at the rule book.

A man uses a mobile phone in front of an advertisement board bearing the image of Pokemon Go at an electronic shop in Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

Sensible Object, the London based, augmented-reality board game company, has been acquired by Niantic Inc. While they’re best known for the Pokemon Go mobile game, they originally gained attention with Ingress, and are in the process of releasing the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite AR mobile game.

Sensible Object garnered attention with their augmented-reality board game, Beasts of Balance, where players utilize a combination of strategy and balance to build a tower of animals on their tabletop, then evolve the animals in a digital world. Founded in 2014, they were among the first companies to participate in Amazon’s Alexa Start-up Accelerator Program in Seattle in 2017, and even released an Alexa powered board game (When in Rome).

“Sensible Object will offer support for its existing slate of titles during a transition period at the end of which the team will focus its efforts on building all new real-world AR experiences with Niantic as the core of Niantic London. We’re excited about Sensible Object joining Niantic as it significantly advances our efforts in developing a wide range of gaming experiences that bring the physical and digital world closer together. The team’s deep roots in large-scale outdoor activations in particular is very complementary to the many Niantic real world events we host around the world to engage with our loyal players.” -Niantic Inc. [source]

For more information, see the announcement on Sensible Object’s website, and Niantic Inc’s website.

Dungeon Mayhem is a 2-4 player card game set in the world of Dungeons and Dragons where players aim to be the last adventurer standing. The base game had 4 characters (barbarian, paladin, rogue, and wizard) who battled in a dungeon full of treasure, all lovingly illustrated by Kyle Ferrin (known for Vast: The Crystal Caverns, and Root).

“With magic missiles flinging, dual daggers slinging, and spiked shields dinging, it’s up to you to prove your adventurer has the guts to bring home the glory!” [source]

In the Battle for Baldur’s Gate expansion, the first expansion for the game, 2 new characters from Baldur’s Gate are added. The ranger, Minsc, with his miniature, giant space hamster, Boo, and the shapeshifting druid, Jaheira. Dungeon Mayhem: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is illustrated by Jake Parker (founder of popular art challenge, Inktober) and is designed by Jordan Comar, and Roscoe Wetlaufer.

Expect the expansion to release on the 17th of September 2019.

Ubongo is a fast-paced, easy-to-learn, geometric puzzle game where players race to piece together interlocking tiles. The goal is for players to get them to fit perfectly on their own puzzle boards. Ubongo Extreme: Fun-Size Edition is a smaller, lower-priced, and more portable format of the larger game and adds a higher level of complexity by using polyhex tiles instead of the traditional tile shapes. Ubongo Extreme: Fun-Size Edition is designed by
Grzegorz Rejchtman for 1-4 players, aged 8+, and is expected to release on July 1st, 2019.

Inka Brand & Markus Brand continue releasing games in the popular EXIT series, with the latest iteration being EXIT: House of Riddles. The game is classified at a beginner difficulty level, caters for 1-4 players, and plays in roughly 1-2 hours. Players are detectives who are summoned to an abandoned house to investigate an unsolved mystery. Upon entry, the detectives hear screams and find the entrance shut behind them and need to crack the case to find their way out. Expect EXIT: House of Riddles to release on July 22nd, 2019.

Brainwaves is a series of games developed by neuroscientists and game designers where players challenge their episodic memory (memory of recent personal events). Thames & Kosmos are releasing 3 games in this series which are all for 1-4 players, aged 8+, and play in roughly 15 mins.

Brainwaves: The Astute Goose has players identifying a burglar hiding in a crowd and is designed by Reiner Knizia. Then, designed by Dirk Baumann, Brainwaves: The Brilliant Boar has players collect sets of various animal portraits on cards by utilizing their memory to match those in their hand (facing away from them) to those revealed on the table. In Brainwaves: The Wise Whale, players are collecting colorful sea creatures by matching either their colors or animal types, and is designed by Maureen Hiron. Expect all 3 games to release on July 8th, 2019.