You don’t often think about board games and the Central Intelligence Agency together, except in the case of designing a game about the CIA. But for Volko Ruhnke, they go hand in hand as he has designed games specifically for the public and games specifically for training in the CIA. And he isn’t a light weight when it comes to his games, he has designed some highly rated games like Labyrinth: The War on Terror, Fire in the Lake, and the COIN series of games. So it’s not that much of a stretch to learn that he creates similar games for the CIA. The games are used to help train operatives on when to take action given the intelligence they have gathered, and what effects that can have on the situation. The most notable training game, or at least the one he can share, is about capturing the drug lord El Chapo, a game that teaches how to use intelligence to track someone down. One person plays El Chapo trying to escape, while the other plays the law enforcement agency tasked with capturing him and bringing him to justice. As the game goes on, both sides will be getting new information and have to make critical decisions based on that information, helping them learn critical judgement skills. Once time for the game is done then the players are debriefed back in the classroom to help them integrate skills from the game into real life.
Volko enjoys this style of training as it sets up a more informal atmosphere and allows for more interaction and connection than a classroom setting. Also when asked about if he finds it hard to differentiate between designing for the public and designing for the CIA, he says it’s “easier than than you may think“. The main reason being is that the CIA has the procedures and personnel in place to help keep him from putting anything sensitive in his historical games, just like when they prepare press releases and the like. Overall the interview was very interesting and you can read the full article on the Polygon website.
The big question in the board game industry right now is how to drive people to brick and mortar stores, and the current trend seems to be to institute a Minimum Advertised Price policy or MAP. So far we have had CMON and Iello both adopt such policies, and now two more companies add their names to the list; HABA and Asmodee. Asmodee’s policy is similar to CMON’s in that no product can be sold for less than 20% of it’s MSRP, online or in stores. What is good about this policy change is that in adopting a MAP, Asmodee has removed the restrictions to online sales, so online stores can now start carrying Asmodee products easily again. HABA’s policy is a little more strict in that all products must be sold for MSRP, and the only ones that can be discounted are the products that have been discontinued.
Will instituting these unilateral policies be good for the industry or will it lead to the bubble popping? We will just have to wait and see.
Iello has announced a new card game called Sentai Cats, and they are doing little to hide where they got their inspiration from. In Sentai Cats you are a team of cats who have been living a good life, but then Mecha Dog attacks and threatens to destroy the catnip factory. But the cats will have none of that, so they start training to be able to transform into Sentai Cats! Be the first to train your cats into powerful warriors for good, and you will be the winner. Not much else has been said about the game, but I am sure we will find out more as it’s September release date draws closer.
The winners of the Spiel des Jahres and the Kinnerspiel des Jahres have yet to be picked, but they have chosen the Kinderspiel des Jahres winner. And the winner is Ice Cool.
Ice Cool is definitely worthy of this title as it is a very fun dexterity game that works for adults and kids alike. In the game you have one person being the hall monitor, trying to keep everyone in class, and everyone else are students trying to sneak away for a snack. You will be flicking your weeble-wooble like penguin around the board trying to go through the doors with your color fish on them. The more fish you collect the more points you get, and for the hall monitor, the more students you catch and take their ID from, the more points you get. After everyone either gets their fish or the hall monitor catches everyone, the player being the hall monitor switches and you play another round. Once everyone has been the hall monitor once you count up points, and the most points is the winner.
Gen Con is fast approaching and so new game announcements are going to be ramping up, and here we have three games coming from dV Giochi. The first is BANG! Armed and Dangerous, an expansion to the card game that will bring some fresh new mechanics into the game to make it even more interesting. In this expansion you will get the usual extra characters, but also now there are Dangerous cards with special abilities on them. These Dangerous cards have to be loaded ahead of time before being used so you will know it’s coming, but the question will be can you stop it? Find out at Gen Con.
Next up is another set being added to the Dark Tales line, this time adding on the fairy tale of The Little Mermaid. Dark Tales: The Little Mermaid will add more cards to the game, giving you more opportunities to combo them together and score big points. But in addition to that, they are also adding a Sea Pact deck that contains 20 cards giving you new ways to score points. So if you want to add even more variety to you Dark Tales games, look for this expansion at Gen Con.
Finally dV Giochi will be debuting two games in their pocket room escape series, Deckscape, with Deckscape: Test Time and Deckscape: The Fate of London. Both will feature you solving riddles and puzzles in a deck of cards as you try to solve the final riddle and escape. In Test Time you have been selected by Dr. Thyme to help him with his inventions, but only if you can pass the test by escaping from his laboratory. The Fate of London has you working as an investigator, trying to find all the bombs hidden in London before they go off and cause all sorts of chaos. Give both of these games a try at Gen Con, and you can read below the press release from dV Giochi on all these games.
New releases at Gen Con 2017
dV Giochi will once again exhibit at this year’s Gen Con in Indianapolis—the biggest U.S. boardgame fair! The dV Giochi booth is number 2843, in the Exhibit Hall.
During the show, dV Giochi will premiere two games from the Deckscape series, the deduction card game 3 Secrets, a new expansion for the world-famous card game BANG!—Armed and Dangerous—and an expansion for the Dark Tales card game—The Little Mermaid.
BANG! Armed & Dangerous
This upcoming new expansion for the BANG! card game holds many surprises, deadly weapons, powerful gear, and lethal ammo: the new Dangerous cards. It also features 8 new skillful Gunslingers.
During the game, you can add Load tokens to your Dangerous cards and your character, which you can use to activate your Dangerous cards, use the abilities of some characters, or to upgrade the effects of some brown-bordered cards! To reload a Dangerous card, you have to play a blue-bordered card or discard a card from your hand at the end of your turn. Then it will be ready to unleash on your rivals!
- Game idea: Emiliano Sciarra
- No. of players: 4-7
- Ages: 8-99
- Artwork: Stefano Landini
- Language: Italian and English
DARK TALES – The Little Mermaid
The Dark Tales card game series keeps growing! This time, players will be immersed in the ocean depths, experiencing the adventures of The Little Mermaid.
From the old Sea King to the graceful Prince, from the loving sisters to the perfidious Sea Witch: in the world of Dark Tales, new characters appear to create new and unexpected combinations!
This expansion includes a deck of 20 Sea Witch Pacts. Pact cards offer a new way to score Victory Points, draw cards, or gain other benefits, but each one comes at a price!
You will also find two new setting cards which can be used with any Dark Tales game to make each play different and engaging.
- Game idea: Pierluca Zizzi
- No. of players: 2-4
- Ages: 14-99
- Artwork: Dany Orizio
- Language: English
DECKSCAPE Test Time
DECKSCAPE The Fate of London
Deckscape is a series of cooperative games inspired by real Escape Rooms, where a group of people are “trapped” inside a room full of puzzles and odd items.
The first title in the game series is Deckscape: Test Time: You have been selected by Doctor Thyme. If you are able to pass his exam and exit his Laboratory, you’ll get a unique chance to help him on his newest and greatest invention!
This game will be available in the U.S. for the first time at Gen Con.
The brand-new title in this “pocket escape room” series is Deckscape: The fate of London: A terrible threat hangs over London, and the Crown of England needs your help! Your mission is to find four devices hidden in secret locations and defuse them before midnight. A single mistake and the situation could degenerate quickly…
Deckscape: The Fate of London will make its international debut at Gen Con.
- Game idea: Martino Chiacchiera and Silvano Sorrentino
- No. of players: 1-6
- Ages: 12-99
- Artwork: Alberto Bontempi
- Language: English
3 Secrets is the new cooperative card game for aspiring detectives. The goal of the game is to unravel the three secrets of an unresolved case before time runs out.
One of the players takes on the role of an informant who knows the truth about the case: they know which secrets need to be discovered, and try their best to help the others guess them correctly. But the clock is ticking and clues are scarce. You must question the informant to gather useful information and find the solutions. If you grope around in the dark, the informant can reveal an important clue but this will cost you precious time! Use your best observing eye, lateral thinking, and deduction skills to unravel all the mysteries of the ambiguous characters that populate this game.
3 Secrets comes with a free app available for download at the Apple AppStore and on Google Play.
This game will be offered for the first time in the U.S. at Gen Con.
About dV Giochi
The Italian company, founded in 2001, is fully committed to publishing and distributing board games and card games worldwide. Its games, with the dV Giochi brand, have won great acclaim in Italy and abroad: the most famous dV Giochi card game, BANG! is considered an “evergreen” in the game market.
Origins has come and gone, and with it the announcements of various awards. We have covered the announcement of the Origins Awards and so the only one left is to announce who was inducted in to the hall of Fame this year. And that person is Mike Elliott, designer of highly popular titles like the Dice Masters line, Quarriors, Lost Legends and more. Mike Elliott has been designing for 21 years and is still going strong with new designs like Thunderstone Quest and Immortals coming soon from AEG and Queen respectively. The award couldn’t have gone to a better pick and we hope to see more and more great games from him in the future.
Kickstarter just launched a new way to find projects they like with the ‘Kickstarter Gold’ label, so lets get to some projects that may not be gold, but are at least silver.
First up is a board game based in the popular 7th Sea RPG setting and that is War of the Cross. War of the Cross is a “dudes on a map” type game similar to Risk, but plays very differently in that negotiation and alliances are key parts of the game. Each round has five steps to it beginning with negotiation, then orders, alliances, movement and battle, and finally spoils. Negotiation is where everyone at the tables negotiates and discusses the moves they will make on the board, this includes forming alliances verbally for that turn. From that phase you then place your orders secretly under your units and pick who you will ally with that round. If you both pick each other then you ally, fighting together as well as making it impossible to attack each other for that round. The fighting is deterministic with the army committing the most supplies being the winner. Winning the fights get you territories, points, and more supplies to use in later fights or to bid on story cards that give you special powers. First player to 25 points is the winner. So if this style of game sounds interesting, head on over to the Kickstarter page.
Next we have a cooperative miniatures game called Human Interface – Be a Better Human. This is both a stand alone game and an expansion to a previously Kickstarted game called Human Interface – Nakamura Tower. This new game maintains the cyberpunk setting and has you trying to escape form a black site prison that you were all thrown into. You will have to work together and fight both on the physical and the virtual fronts as you try to overcome the defenses and modified cyber soldiers blocking your way. Through the use of adrenaline cards to perform spectacular feats, and ‘Can Do’ cards to resolve battles, Be a Better Human is shaping up to be an interesting game. If you like this kind of cooperative style dungeon crawl game, check out the Kickstarter campaign today. And you can even back for an additional expansion module called Blood on the Floor for more characters, monsters, and tiles.
Looking for a light-hearted 4x game that is all about rabbits, well then Rabbit Island might be what you are looking for. The game plays out in three phases which have you exploring and laying out new tiles, building to convert camps into towns and cities, and finally scoring for what you conquered. The exploring part of the game is typical tile laying, but the tiles are uniquely shaped which allow for easy recognition of where you can place them, as the sides of the tile have to fit together path to path. Building has you playing cards to move and spending carrot tokens to build towns and cities. Did you run out of carrot tokens? Then stop by event spaces or carrot patches to refill on those all important tokens. In the conquer phase you will earn points for the towns you built and at the end you earn bonus points for the most carrots and the biggest harvest field. So if you are in the mood for this kind of 4x experience, head on over to the Kickstarter page.
Up next is not a game, but a book about gaming called GameTek: The Book. Listeners of The Dice Tower will no doubt recognize that the book is named after the segment put out by friend of the Dice Tower, Geoff Engelstein. This book compiles ten years of the GameTek segments into one single place, updating and illustrating them, creating a bit of a board game reference book on the math and science of gaming. The book will be broken up into seven sections; Game Theory, Math, Psychology, Science, Game Mechanics, Psychology Games, and History, with essays and examples of each. So if you want to support an exceptional member of the board gaming community, or if you can’t get enough of the math and science of board games, check out the Kickstarter today!
Last for have a project that has been certified as Kickstarter Gold, and that is Rival Realms, a two player variation on the deck building game Fantastiqa. The art of the game carries over with very whimsical and magical depictions of things, but the game itself is now very different. Gone is the focus on deck building and now the focus is squarely on the exploration aspect the bigger game offered. On your turn you can use cards to either discover new areas, or to explore an area on the board already. But exploring comes with a drawback because you have to discard cards into your opponents discard in order to do so, giving them access to cards they may not have had before. There are also quests that you are working towards and the first person to achieve the quest gets to take the card, the second person to achieve it gets nothing. Play keeps going until all the quests have been claimed, and then whoever has the most points is the winner. Check out the Kickstarter page if this sounds like a good two-player game for you.
Magic the Gathering is going to be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary next year and so there are lots of new things coming down the pipe in celebration. To kick it off they have their Community Mananger Nate Price interview several folks about the upcoming Hour of Devastation and Ixalan sets that will be releasing in July and September respectively. Also being announced are:
To read the full announcement you can head over to the Magic the Gathering site to help stoke that hype train for all these upcoming releases.
Hot on the heels of the announcement for the Tomb of Annihilation setting for Dungeons and Dragons, Wizkids have announced a new game and expansion. The new game was the rumored Adventure System game from before, and now we know it’s Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation Adventure System Board Game. This game will be released later this summer and will feature cooperative campaign play like in the previous games and will focus itself on the new setting. The biggest change though has nothing to do with gameplay though, but the minis, and that is the addition of a deluxe version of the game. So like with the Assault of the Giants game, you can purchase a standard game with unpainted minis, or the deluxe game for fully painted minis. Either way I am looking forward to this new game in the Adventure System line.
The expansion that was announced is the next set for the Dice Masters game, Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Tomb of Annihilation. This will expand the Dungeons and Dragons section of the game will more heroes, monsters, gear, and spells from the new setting. Best of all there is also a new basic action card you can get that will change gameplay significantly. You can look for this set to release this fall, and you can head over to the Wizkids site to read more about everything being released.
As convention season is in full swing, new game announcements are going to be coming fast, so lets get to it. First up is a new expansion to add to the innovative card crafting game, Mystic Vale, called Mystic Vale: Mana Storm. This expansion continues the trend of adding more of what you want, more cards, leaders, and advancements, while still adding something new to the game. This time around it’s leaders that can be upgraded, giving them more powerful abilities, and amulet tokens which are just like mana tokens except that have unique powers associated with them. So if you enjoy Mystic Vale, I am sure this expansion will just make the game that much better. Look for it on store shelves in October of this year.
Next is a monster pack for the second edition of King of Tokyo featuring King Kong. While this isn’t as exciting, except for the fact you can have a three way monkey showdown now, what is also coming in the box is a new way to win the game. What way is that you ask? Well, I don’t know, but we will all find out when this pack hits stores in October of this year.
Next we have the big box expansion for Legends of Andor that finishes out the epic story, Legends of Andor: The Last Hope. Krahder has ended his raid, and in the process has kidnapped many of the citizens of Andor, so it is up the heroes to rescue them. They will venture beyond the Gray Mountains to fight the hordes of skeleton warriors with Krahder leading them. Eventually you will work your way to Krahder himself to defeat him once and for all, bringing the overarching story of Legends of Andor to it’s conclusion. While the German version of the game has been released, the English version of the game will be released in October of this year.
After that is the latest set in the BattleCon series and that is BattleCon: Trials of Indines from Level 99 Games. This set brings an additional 10 fighters into the game with more new combos, moves, and strategies to give you greater variety in your BattleCon games. This game was previously Kickstarted back in October of last year, and so this year will see it’s fulfillment to backers, and retail release. No firm date yet is given but they do expect the game to ship this year to both backers and retailers, so look forward to it.
Finally we have an expansion to the popular tile based Cthulhu war game, Shadows over Nomandie, called Desert Wrath. In this set it takes you out of the typical theaters of war for the time and sends you to Egypt. There you will “follow the adventures of the Section M and accompany Captain Harris Badger and the Corporal Akhee Singh in their fight against the Black Sun in search of the legendary city of Irem“. This expansion includes the new Section M faction as well as the typical new units, spells, heroes, etc. that you come to expect in a big box expansion. So if you enjoy the game, and don’t mind the change of scenery, then this expansion will just bring more variety and replayability to the game. Check your local game store in late July for this expansion.