Glenn Drover is a name known to most board game enthusiasts. He founded Eagle Games, designed many games, including Railroad Tycoon (AKA Railways of the World), Conquest of the Empire, and Age of Empires III.
The name Jason Kapalka may be less well-known in our circles, but his accomplishments are not. He is the co-founder and chief game designer at PopCap who make the insanely popular video games Bejeweled, Peggle, and Plants Vs. Zombies.
Those two luminaries are coming together to found Forbidden Games, and they are bringing their unique design aesthetic with them. PopCap Games turned casual gaming on its ear, investing as much into the lighter end of games as most companies did only with their premium games, and making their games visually and aurally superior to others in the same market in the process. Eagle Games made a similar mark, producing mid-weight board games with large, lovely boards, miniatures and attention to detail in components.
Forbidden Games promises to continue this trend, with a mission statement that reads, “We believe a great board game is something you should treasure and play for years to come.” For their first game, Railroad Rivals, which will launch on Kickstarter later this month, they have hired veteran Disney animator Brian Kesinger, who has worked on movies like Tarzan and Moana.
Gilgamesh Games introduces us to their first game, Hive Smashers, a 2-player card battle game that has players fighting with the advanced Bees against the primitive Wasps. The cards in this game are hexagonal, and each player begins the game by building a hive with 18 random clan cards with their Queen card in the center. A deck of action cards and a deck of clans cards are shuffled and placed between the players. Players win the game by building a path to their opponents Queen, then playing cards to defeat the Queen, or if neither player manages to accomplish this, by having more strength in your hive than your opponent at the end of the game.
Each turn you can play cards to increase the strength of one of your clan members locations, or if you have a card with a higher number, you can cover their clan member with yours, and you can even lower their clan members strength by player lower cards of their clan, all of this in their hive, or in your own. Doing this lets you gain Action Cards. You need Action Cards to build tunnels to your opponents Queen, to collapse Tunnels your opponent has built into your Hive, and to (eventually) defeat the opposing Queen.
The Kickstarter for this game closes on April 1st, so if the game sounds interesting to you, be sure to check it out soon.
Image from theatlantic.com
News articles about modern boardgaming often fall short of expectations of gamers, but The Atlantic offers up a new article that has had a fairly interesting response. They offer a fairly well-researched and informed article that nonetheless feels like it should have been written 10 years ago.
The author discusses the business end of things in a fairly straightforward manner, talks about some numbers and hits from Kickstarter, but quickly moves to a discussion of the “hobby boardgame” arena. Interestingly, they chose to present Phil Eklund and their example of a well-known-in-the-hobby designer and to talk about his development as a designer. It is a choice that will leave many non-plussed. Rather than go for a designer team like Inka and Markus Brand who won the Kennerspiel des Jahres for their EXIT games this year, or a solo designer of more mainstream even to the hobby games like Stefan Feld or Reiner Knizia, they chose a designer of niche-within-niche games.
Finally, they end the article talking about a few games and the modern values reflected in them, like keeping all players involved until the end Its an interesting read, and well worth the few minutes spent reading it. The devoted reader will even find many nuggets of gold in the comments, and I thoroughly recommend them, especially those by a certain M. Barnes, of Fortress: Ameritrash.
In 1920’s Arkham, you know what lies ahead of you: The sanity-wrenching horror of Lovecraftian terror. Mythos tales is a deduction game set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s quaintly chilling Arkham. Originally published in 2016, Grey Fox Games has produced a 2nd edition and included errata and corrections within to enhance game play.
Players use all the tools they can, sparse as they are, to piece together the macabre truth behind the many mysteries in Arkham. Newspaper articles, allies with knowledge they don’t realize is connected, residents of Arkham, and a map of the city help you follow the clues and find the hidden secrets. Each game you match wits with mad Armitage, trying to uncover the darkness before in time. Can you best him?
Mythos Tales plays in 1-2 hours and is for 1 to 8 keen investigators. There are 8 cases to solve, giving you plenty of hidden mysteries to enjoy. This new version features the same artwork as the original and should be in stores shortly. The first printing received the Dice Tower Seal of Approval.
Gamelyn Games and designer Scott Almes have just launched a new kickstarter for the latest game in the Tiny Epic series: Tiny Epic Zombies. Featuring the ITEMeeples first introduced in Tiny Epic Quest, but this time wielding modern weapons like Katanas, Machetes, various guns, chainsaws, even a rocket launcher. The players can choose to play in one of 5 different game modes (Solo, Co-op, Competitive, Co-op v. Zombie player, and Competitive vs. Zombie player) in a race for players to complete 3 objectives to win the game, but while still keeping the hordes of zombies at bay.
With variable player powers (for both survivors and zombies), a variable setup, and fast, easy gameplay, the game is already funded and breaking through stretch goals. The game is on Kickstarter until February 9th, so check it out, if you dare to face the hordes.
Codenames is already big among gamers, and can even can even be said to be big with a growing number of people that wouldn’t use that word to describe themselves. Well, it’s about to get even bigger.
Codenames XXL is set for release in Q2 of 2018. The primary feature of this version is the larger cards, designed for bigger groups to play more easily, as players won’t be leaning over each other and squinting nearly as much. The original’s cards were 2.6″ x 1.7″, but the new version goes big, not home, with 4.7″ x 2.8″ cards, almost 3 times larger (in terms of card area).
Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, from IDW Games, has arrived to Kickstarter. This is the first game featuring the stylistic art of Gris Grimly, best known for his line of darkly whimsical children’s books, the game features his art throughout, and captures well the sinister tone of the story. Game design is by Adam Wyse (designer of Head of Mousehold), and the game has been in development at IDW for the past 2 years after it was a finalist for the 2015 Canadian Game Design Award.
“Players are nobles attending an extravagant masked ball while a plague ravages the country. Players are trying to do what nobles do – feast, dance, celebrate –become as popular as they can. But rumors swirl as the night goes on, and everyone feels oddly nervous each time the clock chimes. The nobles might be wise to spend some time listening to these rumors. It is becoming increasingly clear as midnight approaches that something sinister awaits. At midnight, a horrible figure in the guise of the Red Death appears at the masquerade! It stalks amongst the rooms of the abbey, killing the nobles it comes across. The most popular noble wins… but that only matters if you survive the night.”
Masque of the Red Death is a 60-90 minute competitive deduction game for 4 to 7 players age 14 and up, where players take on the roles of Nobles at a party looking to increase their popularity while fraternizing with their host, the Prince, before the Red Death makes an appearance at midnight. Each player has to be careful to balance their actions between currying favor with the Prince, and trying to uncover which rooms the Red Death will visit, as the highest social standing will only matter if you manage to survive the party, and the night.
Click here to pledge and find out more information about the campaign.
Image from aandpcreative.com
Iello USA has appointed a new Social Media Manager. Dayanna Ramirez is the owner of the Florida-based A&P Creative, a digital marketing agency, and she will now be working with Iello USA to grow the brand in the US, and they will work together to introduce Iello games to more people.
Iello is the publisher of a large catalog of games, that span the gamut from light family games, to strategy games and War Games. In their press release, Stephan Brissaud, Chief Operating Officer of IELLO says, “We are excited to have Dayanna join our US team and bring her expertise and marketing skills to the promotion of our brand.”
Council of Four was originally published in 2015 by Cranio Creations, and designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini but in early 2018, CMON will be bringing it back to tables everywhere in an updated version with new art, a new box size, and their signature attention to detail. Oh, and of course, miniatures.
Council of Four has 2-4 players taking on the roles of rich merchants seeking to build lavish emporiums within cities in the Three Kingdoms. These Three Kingdoms are ruled by the Councils, each consisting of Four nobles. These Councils are, as might be suspected, easily corruptible and have a very fluid membership, thanks to wealthy merchants such as yourselves. You have to gain permits and build emporiums in the most lucrative locations to win, but don’t neglect the Emperor, as he allows you to build without permits.
With 4 different actions you can take on a given turn, 4 ways to score points, and 8 possible configurations of the modular board, the game offers differing strategies and a variable setup, two things that often lead to a great deal of replayability.
The game plays in 40-75 minutes, and is on the lighter end of the scale, is good for new players, and the new version looks great with pleasing art and well-sculpted minis.
In 1977 RPG’s were still in their infancy when Steve Jackson and Metagaming got together and published one of the first point-based systems out there, The Fantasy Trip. I recall playing it in 1978 or 1979 and being blown away at the flexibility of the system compared to the other RPGs I was familiar with way back then.
Characters in TFT were defined by only 3 stats: Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence (ST, DX, IQ). Humans started with a base of 8 in each stat, and 8 more points to allocate as the player wished. Demi-humans had different starting stats and some special abilities. Action resolution was handled by rolling 3d6 against the relevant stat and attempting to get equal to or lower (after modifiers) than your stat to get a success. It was innovative and successful at the time and my middle school friends and I played often.
Then in 1983, Metagaming shuttered its doors and Steve Jackson was unable to secure the rights to his game, and he began focusing his efforts on a new system that would offer more detail and be more universally applicable, eventually publishing himself as GURPS Basic Set (first edition). This game found even more love and more acclaim for many, many years.
Well, according to this post from the man himself, Steve Jackson Games has finally secured the rights to the eight The Fantasy Trip titles that he wrote. He is still deciding what exactly will become of TFT at this point, but having it back is certainly a cause for players and fans of the game to celebrate.
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