Dice Tower Newsletter

Brian Wells

Healthcare programming and IT by day, board gamer by night, astronomy after that. Live with my wife, 3 cats and 2 bunnies in MA.

As described by Nick Bentley (one of the developers of several of the Evolution games) on his BoardGameGeek blog, NorthStar Games is beginning the development of an oceans-based game. Following on the themes in their Evolution, Evolution: Flight, Evolution: Climate, and Evolution: The Beginning games, this one will feature species and species interactions that are water-based. As are all the games (except Evolution: Flight), this game will be a standalone game and not an expansion of one of the existing games.

As a “teaser”, Nick states:

Here are three key facts of ocean life:

the base of the food chain is plankton
ocean critters can get really big
most non-tiny ocean critters are carnivores

The Evolution games are mostly card driven games where you assign traits to your species, or discard cards to add new species, increase the population or the body size of a species.  The evolution theme is very much at the forefront of the game play.  As carnivores evolve, for example, this species needs to eat other species.  So you need to defend against the threats by adding traits that help your own species survive.

It is hoped that this new game will have the same beautiful art work and production quality as the prior games.

NorthStar hopes to introduce the game for play-testing at GenCon 2017 and release it at GenCon 2018.  It will be a Kickstarter project in February 2017.  NorthStar Games is also the publisher of Wits and Wagers, Say Anything! and other games.

NASA released radar images taken February 6 and 7 of an asteroid approximately 660 feet (200 meters) in size safely passing the Earth at a distance of 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers).

“The radar images show relatively sharp corners, flat regions, concavities, and small bright spots that may be boulders,” said Lance Benner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who leads the agency’s asteroid radar research program. “Asteroid 2017 BQ6 reminds me of the dice used when playing Dungeons and Dragons. It is certainly more angular than most near-Earth asteroids imaged by radar.”

The NASA news post can be seen here along with pictures of the die – or, what NASA calls it, an “asteroid”.  The photos are amazingly clear considering the distance, but not clear enough to determine the numbers on each face.

NASA actively searches for all near-Earth objects as part of its Asteroid Watch program.  This is also part of NASA’s Planetary Defense which has an “Asteroid Redirect Mission” amongst many other initiatives.  NASA did not announce if they are adding defenses against Orcs or Dire Rats.


Arcane Wonders has partnered with MESAboardgames to release an English language version of VIRAL.  Designed by António Sousa Lara and Gil d’Orey, VIRAL is a 2-5 player area-control game where players compete to infect and control organs in a human body.  As Bryan Pope, President of Arcane Wonders said:

“When Tom brought us VIRAL to play, we fell in love with it immediately! It has a fresh, original and clever theme; a territorial control game set inside the human body! The game play is simple and streamlined, yet it has lots of great tactical decisions and difficult choices. The game has a lot of flavor and personality, with great player interaction. My favorite part is the mutation cards; They allow you to mutate your viruses, changing how they behave, and develop your strategy.”
Each player is a deadly virus.  The object is to mutate and take over the host’s organs.  Other player’s viruses are sure to get in the way, and if too many viruses are present in an organ a Crisis occurs and the Immune System will wipe out your infection!
VIRAL will be released as one of the Dice Tower Essentials line of games joining Sherriff of Nottingham, Onitama, and several others.  These are games that noted reviewer Tom Vasel believes are essential for any gamer’s collection.
VIRAL will be first shown at Gen Con in 2017 at Arcane Wonders’ Booth.  It is planned for an August 2017 release.

Markorama Games, a game store located in Franklin, New Jersey, has sent out a letter to their customers and friends explaining that they unfortunately must close their store due to Asmodee‘s policy of not allowing brick and mortar stores to sell their products online.  In the letter they state:

“In January 2016, Asmodee changed their policies and forbid brick and mortar stores from selling online. We tried complying with this policy but within a few months got into a huge financial crisis and needed to do something or close the store. We decided to continue selling online for as long as we could and try to dig ourselves out of the financial hole we dug ourselves into. A few weeks ago, Asmodee discovered we were selling online and ordered us to cease and desist. We are currently complying with their policy, but as a result, we have no choice but to close the store.”

The full text of the letter is on Markorama’s Facebook page.

The Asmodee policy was described in an overview blog on BoardGameGeek (BGG).  There are also several active forum threads on the DiceTower forums on BGG discussing this policy in general (here and here).  Tom Vasel talked about it on DiceTower Podcast #440 at minute 55:40 where it was the question of the week which includes comments from several other reviewers.

ConsimWorld Expo (CSW Expo) will be held in Tempe, Arizona, May 27-June 3, 2017.  CSW Expo will feature MonsterGame.CON XVII which provides players a venue to participate in a “monster” game of their choosing.  Monster games are those that take many hours and are often not possible to play due to lack of players, access to out-of-print games, work and home commitments; in other words, life!  The list of games being played is extensive and can be seen online.  Many are old classics long out of print (oh the memories!). For players looking for non-monster games, there is also a 30+ list of shorter games.  The list of attendees is also available online.

CSW Expo also includes exhibitors, seminars, a game auction, speakers, door prizes, tournaments, a flea market, and more…

An overview brochure that also includes a free Expo shirt offer if one registers by February 3, can be read here.

Quadropolis, the beautiful city-building game from Days of Wonder, will have its first expansion this June.  Quadropolis:  Public Services adds 24 new building tiles such as Maternity Ward, Reprocessing Plant, and Police Station.  Each round, several of these new tiles are revealed face up next to the board.  As Mayor, you need to decide when to add these to your city – “which will best serve my population?”.  The buildings add in game bonuses and scoring options.

“With the Public Services expansion, players will add all new Public Service Buildings to their Quadropolis game. As a Mayor, will they choose to increase the population by building a Maternity Ward or protect their citizens with a new Police Station? But competition will be fierce, and being able to build the right Public Service at the right time will not be made easy by the other players.”

The game includes the 24 building tiles, 4 Helpers and a Rulebook.  More information can be found on Days of Wonder’s Quadropolis page.

Apocalypse Road is a race game that uses the engine from GMT‘s popular Thunder Alley and Grand Prix.  The goal of the game is to destroy your opponents cars.  GMT describes it as “somewhat like roller derby” and a demolition derby.  There is no mystery to the setting of this game:  it takes place in a future where our technological world has collapsed, society is ruled by strongmen, and mankind has been reduced to a pre-modern lifestyle.  Part of this lifestyle is competing in auto races with teams comprising 5 cars that can include machine guns, missiles, armor, targeting computers, and more.  GMT hints that “secret technologies” may make it into the final production!

There are three strategies to winning:

  1. Destroy the opposing cars
  2. Race to the finish line
  3. Combo of 1 and 2

The game includes four tracks but can also be played on the tracks from Thunder Alley and Grand Prix.  GMT describes much of the game’s mechanics on their Apocalypse Road page.

The game is being added to GMT’s P500 program which is akin to a private Kickstarter.  P500 games are available for pre-order at a discounted price.  If there are at least 500 committed buyers then GMT begins the final editing and prepares for production of the game.  If not, there is no charge to anyone who pre-ordered.  More detailed information on the P500 program is here.

The game designers are Jeff and Carla Horger

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sent a letter to Games Workshop asking them to consider removing fur from their Warhammer games.  PETA’s stance on fur is well known; in the letter they state:  “(fur) has no more place in 2017 than it would in the year 40,000.”  There are references to characters and the overall theme in Warhammer; this is not simply a form letter sent to other companies.  You can read the one-page letter on PETA’s site.


The Boss is a bluffing, social deduction game where you get to be an organized crime Boss!  You need to insure you get your “piece of the action” from jobs performed in the cities of New York, Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Memphis and Philadelphia.  The game includes 40 cards, wooden cubes, a score board, and tokens.  You better read the other players reactions in order to determine the card that scores the most points, or it could be curtains for your crew!  It is a 2-4 player game for 10+ ages and takes 30 minutes.

Blue Orange is releasing the game in January and pre-orders are already being taken.  A game you can’t refuse:  The Boss!