Corey Thompson

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A retired veterinarian and ex-cell biologist, Corey spends his time with board games, computer history, banjo music and general useless frivolity. Corey can be found as doccabet on BGG.

“SHAKE IT UP! Dice™ Poker has something for everyone! It’s fast, fun, and easy to learn—yet has deeper levels of strategy to master. It’s the successor to Square Shooters®, the original cards-on-dice game. It’s Yahtzee-Meets-Poker with head-to-head bonuses that make every roll exciting and full of surprises!”

Burning River Games has a new Kickstarter Campaign for Shake It Up! Dice Poker, a cards-on-dice sequel to Square Shooters, by the late Carmelyn Calvert. Using 9 custom dice, players can simulate all 54 cards of a standard card deck (4 suits of 13 cards plus 2 jokers), and create all possible types of poker hands. In Shake it Up, players use Yahtzee mechanics to roll their dice three times, trying to achieve the best possible version of the target poker hand. Each round, players advance down the score sheet, aiming for a more and more difficult poker hand. Power Up cards allow extra abilities such as rerolls, extra turns and more wild cards. Players score points for accomplishing the target hand, and bonus points if they create the best version of that hand.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Shake it Up! Dice Poker continues through October 31, and the game is expected to deliver by April 2020. The Kickstarter offers extra add-ons such as leather dice cups and velvet bags, created in cooperation with Easy Roller Dice Co.

“Few know that whenever a rainbow appears, unicorns will start to race on it to dive into the pot of gold at the end. But all those who do, also know that it is a great chance to earn a humongous amount of gold!”

Horrible Games, the studio behind Potion Explosion, has a new Kickstarter project, the delightfully wicked Unicorn Fever. Designed by Lorenzo Silva  and Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino (the team behind Dungeon Fighter, Steam Park), Unicorn Fever has an evil comical look brought together by artist Giulia Ghigini. In the game, 2-5 players bet on a magical race between unicorns, as they speed down the rainbow, as unicorns are want to do. Players bet gold to win victory points, advantages, and more gold. The 6 comically bizarre unicorns advance down their lanes, controlled by an A.I. deck of cards, while two of the beasts receive boosts via a roll of the Sprint Dice.

However, Unicorn Fever is not as simple as just watching the narwhal horses run. The unicorn in last can catch FEVER, flipping its card and gaining special powers. Players can cast spells on the racers, manipulating the race in devious way. Assistants can be hired to tamper with the event. In general, players can mess with the unicorns in all ways imaginable.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Unicorn Fever continues through October 15, and the game is expected to deliver in July 2020. Unicorn Fever comes with 6 hysterical  unicorn miniatures, 2 sprint dice, rulebook and board, as well as 124 gold tokens, 80 victory point tokens, 40 assorted other tokens, and almost 100 cards. Plastic and wooden tokens, and metal coins are available in higher pledge levels. For more information, check out Horrible Games’ website on Unicorn Fever.

“Ladies and gentlemen, step right up – the carnival is coming to town! In The Grand Carnival, players compete to create the most impressive carnival this town has ever seen. You’ll need to carefully plan your carnival’s layout, build attractions, hire staff, and manage the crowds, all while learning a few tricks of the trade. “

Uproarious Games and designer Rob Cramer have a new Kickstarter project, the action selection and polyomino placement game The Grand Carnival. In The Grand Carnival, 1-4 players take turns trying to develop the best carnival, by planning walking paths, building attractions and guiding guests into their rides. Players mark one of the numbers 1 through 5 on their board before they select one of 3 actions – place a foundation, build an attraction, or move some guests. The number determines how effective their action will be.  Each marked number can only be used once per round.

The first action, placing a foundation, allows players to select one of the foundation tiles from the Railyard. These tiles show 4 squares, either green or brown, for guests or attractions respectively; Guests can only move along the green squares, and polyomino attraction tiles must fit on the brown squares. The selected number determines from how many foundation tiles the player can pick (from 1-5). The second action lets a player place an attraction in their carnival, again only over the brown spaces. Higher numbers allow players to pick bigger attractions. Finally, players can move guests among the attractions on the green walkways, with higher numbers allowing more movement. When a guest reaches an attraction, the player can place a ticket token on the site. Players can even hire barkers to help move more guests around their park. If players match conditions on their Tricks of the Trade cards, they can earn extra abilities that round.

At the end of the games, players earn points for barkers in their carnival, number of guests moved through, number of tickets on attractions, and sets of attractions in the park. Unfinished spaces in the carnival will cost players points. After 7 rounds, one week, the player with the most points wins the game.

The Kickstarter Campaign for The Grand Carnival continues through October 10, and the game is expected to deliver in May 2020. The Grand Carnival comes with over 50 polyomino tile attractions, 4 player boards, a Railyard board, over 80 foundation tiles, 6 Tricks of the Trade cards, 30 guest tokens, 60 ticket tokens, 8 carnival barker tokens, and 32 action tokens in 4 player colors.

The Big Book of Madness (2015) is a cooperative board game by designer Maxime Rambourg, which pits 2-5 student magicians against the monsters escaping from the eponymous Big Book. Each player takes on the role of a student, each with unique powers and abilities. Players must turn the pages of the book, defeat the curses within, and eventually shut the tome for all time, all before succumbing to madness. Players use deck building to create a deck of elemental cards, spending these elements to buy new, more powerful spells, or to support their fellow students. For without cooperation between the players, all is lost.

Iello has announced the first expansion for this well received game, The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element. This expansion includes 2 new modules, Dark Matter and Phobias. Dark Matter adds Dark Curses, the Dark Book, Dark Monsters and new characters to the game. Phobias adds new Phobia Cards, which are madness cards with permanent effects.

The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element should be available in stores in February of 2020.

“11 designers come together to bring you 10 new games with a range of player counts, complexities, puzzles and challenges. Every game is playable with a writing utensil and a variety of polyhedral dice! “

Inkwell Games has a current Kickstarter Project for Dice & Ink: A Roll and Write Anthology, a printed collection of 10 Roll and Write games, from 11 different designers. Each game can be played with components people most likely already have in the house: pencils, and standard dice, 6 sided in 3 colors, 4 sided, 8 sided and 10 sided. (Sorry, no love for our underrepresented dodecahedral d12. ) The anthology is being developed by Joey Schouten, one of the leading experts on Roll and Write games. Designers included in the anthology of games include several first time designers, as well as Sarah and Will Reed (Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture) Nathaniel Levan (New Bedford), Robin Gibson (Arcane Bakery Clash), and Behrooz Shahriari (Yogi).

The Kickstarter Campaign for Dice & Ink continues through September 27, and is expected to ship in June 2020. Pledge levels include a digital only version for Print and Play, a bound book, and a set complete with dice.

“The Space Race was a lie. From Pandasaurus Games (Dinosaur Island) comes a strategy game set in an alternate 1960s space race.”

Pandasaurus Games has just started a Kickstarter Campaign for Godspeed, a medium weight worker placement game designed by Clayton Hargrave and Adam Hill. In an alternate 1960s history, the Space Race has been a lie. It is not that we faked the moon landing, it is that we had already traveled to the farthest reaches of space, and just needed something to show the people back home…

Godspeed is a unique worker placement game in which each worker has its own specialty and an influence value. The game takes place over 10 rounds, comprising 3 “seasons”, each with its own objective. At the start of each round, a High Council is held, and players are confronted with an Event. Each player decides whether to commit a worker to the greater good, gaining benefits, or to suffer penalty from abstaining and keeping their worker. Next, players secretly bid for the first player marker and supply cards. Players bid with workers, using their influence value plus money and/or supplies. The top bidding player gets first choice of rewards, as well as a second claim from the pile at the end. Finally, players can place any remaining workers on action spaces to upgrade their nation board, build production buildings, gain materials, or collect development cards. Throughout the game, players are advancing on 4 prestige tracks, and at the end, these tracks, completed milestones, and completed objectives translate into victory points.

The Kickstarter for Godspeed continues through October 18, and the game is expected to deliver in April 2020. The game includes tokens for 200 resources, 25 team members, 25 Production Building cards, 144 development cards, 62 supply cards, 25 High Council cards, and more. Several add-on purchases are available in the project, including plastic token upgrades, custom bags, and a Dinosaur Island Add-On goodie.

Game of Phones is a card game where all you need is your smartphone to take on creative and unexpected challenges. It’s the ultimate digital scavenger hunt!”

In April of 2014, Luke Stern and Sam Wander initiated a successful Kickstarter for the original Game of Phones, a hilarious party game for people and their smartphones. And now, 5 years later, the dynamic duo has begun a new Kickstarter project for the second edition.

In Game of Phones, a group of players draw Challenge Cards in one of 4 categories, puzzles to solve using their phones. “Like” cards have players find photos in their camera roll or take new ones that match a certain category. One judge decides the winning photo. Similarly, “Unfollow” cards have each player eliminate one of the contender photos until only a single entry is left. “Download” cards have each player race to complete a challenge on their phone, such as text a selfie to a relative and get the first reply, or find the oldest message thread on their phone. Lastly, the “Upgrade” cards have all players work together in a group activity, usually to a hilarious conclusion.

The Kickstarter project for Game of Thrones continues through September 24, and the game is expected to ship in November of 2019. The game comes with a starter pack of 100 cards, the original pack, which contains 50 reworked cards from the first edition, and the offline pack, 50 cards that work even without an internet connection.

Yedo (2012) by designers Thomas Vande Ginste and Wolf Plancke is a classic game of missions, politics and subterfuge. In Yedo, 1-5 players bid for useful advantages, place disciples on action spaces within the board while trying to avoid the watch, and fulfill missions by collecting sets of assets. Consistently ranked in the top 500 games on BGG, this long out-of print gem is one many consider a spiritual successor to the likes of Lords of Waterdeep.

NSKN (Board & Dice) has announced a Kickstarter campaign for a new Deluxe Master Edition of Yedo, with upgraded components, new art, and a bigger organized box. This new edition comes with game board, 5 new player boards, hundreds of gorgeous cards with new art, and over 80 custom wooden bits and bobs. The box also is filled with almost 200 cardboard tokens. The new Yedo includes options to lengthen or shorten the game, and the Missions, Actions and Events now come in themed set for more game variety. Finally, new Specialist and Teahouse Modules change some of the core rules.

“Originally published in 2012, Yedo has earned its rightful place in the hearts and on the tables of strategy and thematic gamers around the world. With already a great game on our hands, we decided to update the components to modern standards, add extra polish based on seven years of community feedback and complete the game with extra content straight from the original designers.”

The Kickstarter Campaign for Yedo Deluxe Master Set is scheduled to continue through September 20, and the game should arrive on doorsteps in August 2020. NSKN has stated there are no plans to bring this new edition to retail after the Kickstarter fulfills.

Philosophia: Dare to be Wise is a new self-published game on Kickstarter from designers Joseph N Adams and Madeleine Cole. In Philosophia, 1-6 players take on the roles of famous Greek philosophers, trying to achieve monumental landmarks in debate and rhetoric across the whole of Greece before time runs out. Victory is achieved by amassing 3 labyrinth tokens, which can be accumulated one at a time by completing tasks, or all 3 can be awarded by finishing a player’s secret goal card.

Players can move to any marked location on the map of Greece, and take one of several actions. Players can tutor at a location to collect money, or place a follower (wooden block) at their location. Sophists can be hired for money, in order to convert other players’ followers to your own color. Schools can be built by spending 2 money, or tokens on the locations themselves can be gathered to place on a players board. At a Temple location, 4 money can purchase a study token, used to unlock one of your philosopher’s 3 locked Wisdom Cards. At Oracle locations, special ability cards can be collected, which can grant boons or obstruct your opponents.  

The Acropolis is a special location on the board, offering a further 4 actions. Players collect Sophistry and Syllogism cards by observing debaters, and these cards can be used in the second Acropolis action, to fuel public debate, an interesting card-on-card battle system. Players can progress the timeline at the Acropolis, hastening the end of the game, and finally players can initiate auctions for Athena Tokens, very powerful reward items.

Players earn Labyrinth Tokens by placing all of their followers, founding all of their schools, getting the correct Oracle tokens, unlocking all of their Wisdom Cards, traveling to and collecting each color of Location token, or winning 3 public debates. Once a player has 3 Labyrinth Tokens, they can participate in the final public debate card play to declare themselves victor. Of course, each player has a secret Olympic Card, which grants all 3 Labyrinth Tokens in one fell swoop if completed.

Philosophia is a beautiful, thematic game involving all the intricities that embodied active philosophy in ancient Greece, adding an educational element to varied game mechanics. The Kickstarter Project for Philosophia: Dare to be Wise is scheduled to continue through October 10, and the game should ship to backers by June 2020. For more information, check out the website for Philosophia here.

“At the turn of the 16th Century, King Manuel I commissioned Portugal’s greatest artisans to construct grandiose buildings. After completing the Palaces of Evora and Sintra, the king sought to build a summer pavilion to honor the most famous members of the royal family. This construction was intended for the most talented artisans — whose skills meet the splendor that the royal family deserves. Sadly, King Manuel I died before construction ever began.”

Azul by Michael Kiesling, artist Chris Quilliams, and Next Move Games is one of those games that was recognized as an elegant classic the moment it was released in 2017. The game combined intimately attractive, bakelite style (ie. candy-like) tiles with intuitive, simple gameplay into a package that gamers and non-gamers alike were simply drawn towards. In Azul, players take turns collecting colored tiles from communal piles (factories), however one must pick up all of a single color tile, placing the remainder in a leftover central pile. All collected tiles must be placed on the player board, and extraneous, unused tiles count as negative points. The ever-growing central pile can likewise be mined for tiles in the same manner in future turns.

A sequel, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, was released in 2018. Sintra took this basic framework and added variable player boards, a new mechanism for placing tiles on the boards, and in general more variability. In short, the new game was significantly different, but still felt like “Azul”, and gamers snatched it up in waves. The gorgeous clear square tiles (Jolly Ranchers, as opposed to Starburst) certainly did not hurt the appeal.

Now Next Move Games has announced a third game in the series, Azul: Summer Pavillion. In this edition, the tiles are elongated diamonds, and fit on the player board in 7 circular rosettes – Six in the six tile colors, and one composed of one of each color. Tile selection retains the old Azul feel, with players selecting all of one color from a pool of tiles on a single factory card. However, in each of the 10 rounds, one of the tile colors is considered wild. The wild color cannot be specifically picked, but if any are on the selected factory, these are also collected with the picked color. The tile placement in Summer Pavillion has taken an interesting new tact – players do not immediately place their collected tiles on their board, instead collecting them in a personal supply. Each turn players can place one of their tiles on their board by paying a certain number of same-colored tiles from this supply. The cost depends on which slot in the rosette is being filled, ranging from 1-6.

Azul: Summer Pavillion will debut as Essen Spiel this October, and pre-orders are scheduled to hit gamers’ laps in December 2019. For more details, check out Next Move’s website here.