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.

It is with a very heavy heart I report that we have recently lost a giant in the industry, Darwin Bromley. Darwin started as the co-designer of Empire Builder (1982), one of the first popular route connection games, and founded the company to distribute it, Mayfair Games. Later, Mayfair was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing European style board games to the U.S., distributing the English versions of Catan (then Settlers of Catan), Agricola, and many many others until Asmodee bought the company in 2016. Numerous outpourings have come from the gaming community, best summed up by famed Munchkin artist John Kovalic, who called Darwin’s passing “the end of an era.” I know that my life would be very different if Mr. Bromley had not made all those boxes, now in my shelves, available and popular on these shores. Thank you Mayfair Games. Thank You, Darwin Bromley.

Daily Magic is bringing the area control card game Songbirds (2016), from designer ゆお (Yuo) and artists ことり寧子 (Kotori Neiko) and Claire Donaldson, to North America in the coming year. In Songbirds, originally called Birdie Fight, has up to 4 players take turns placing cards into a 5×5 grid. The cards are comprised of numbers 1-7 in four different bird suits. Players put their cards in the grid one at a time, starting in the middle, and always playing a card next to an existing card. When the grid is full, all players should have one card left in their hand. Each column and row in the grid has a token defining its point value, and that value gets assigned to the bird suit which has the highest number total in that row or column. Now players receive points for their last card – both the number value and the total score for the suit. Highest score wins the game! For more details and images, check out Daily Magic’s website here.

 

Deep Water Games has announced they are bringing the excellent card game Claim (2017) to North America in 2019. Claim, by designer Scott Almes of no tiny fame and artist among artists Mihajlo Dimitrievski, is a 2 player trick taking game played in 2 distinct phases. Players first recruit followers using their hand of cards, which they then play against each other to win favor from the factions of the realm. At the end of the game, whoever has the majority in 3 of the 5 factions wins the game. For more information, check out Deep Water Games’ website here, and look for the game in March 2019.

Van Ryder Games, publishers of Hostage Negotiator (2015), Saloon Tycoon (2016), and the upcoming Detective: City of Angels (2019), have issued a press release announcing their first ever Vendor Awards, recognizing the best of their industry partners. According to Van Ryder Head Honcho A. J. Porfirio, the awards were based on excellence in communication, relationship, service quality and price. A special shout out to , and congratulations to The Dice Tower Convention for winning Top Convention, and congratulations to all of the winners:

Greater Than Games has just announced their new party game Medium, by designers Danielle DeleyLindsey Sherwood, and Nathan Thornton of Storm Chaser Games. In Medium, 2-8 players pair off into teams of 2, and each player in a team receives 5 word cards. Each player selects one of their cards, then link psychically and try to come up with a single word that ties the two words together. The pair then countdown and say their connecting words at the same time. If both members of a team manage to say the same connecting word, they win. If the pair are not yet mentally linked, no fear – they can draw new cards and try again. Medium is scheduled to come to retail in the second half of 2019.

WizKids has just announced Thrown by designer Adam Porter (Pikoko), a new spin on trick taking games, substituting dice rolling for traditional card play. In Thrown, the lead player rolls 1-3 dice in one of 4 colors. The color of the dice represents the suit played, and players follow the same rules as traditional trick taking games – you must follow suit, the highest of the lead suit wins, and off-suit dice do not count. Players can try for trump if they do not have the proper color, which means rolling a 6 of any color. Thrown also includes cards for player powers, allowing re-rolls, dice flipping, automatically winning with certain rolls, etc. Thrown comes with 40 dice, gold tokens, 26 cards, 4 cubes, and rules, and is scheduled for release in February 2019. For more information, pictures, and rules, check out Wizkid’s webpage here.

The Unlock series of card games from Asmodee and Space Cowboys each contain the essence of an escape room encapsulated into a coded deck of cards. Using an app and a timer, players look for clues on the cards, and solve puzzles. In Europe, these games are generally sold in packs of 3, and the newest collection has just been released, Unlock: Exotic Adventures from designer Cyril Demaegd. The stories in Exotic Adventures, which will likely be sold individually in North America at a future date, include Unlock! Night of the BoogeymenUnlock! Scheherazade’s Last Tale, and Unlock! Expedition: Challenger. Night of the Boogeymen follows a child William, who has been tormented by monsters from under his bed. Players need to fight off the monsters without waking William. Scheherazade’s Last Tale takes place at the last moments of the classic story. Scheherazade is about to tell the Sultan her last tale, but she is out of ideas and the scribe has gone missing. The players need to find the lost scribe and tell the final tale. Expedition: Challenger involves a Private Investigator, a woman with a missing friend, and a valley full of unseen monsters lost in time. Players need to find the mysterious Professor Challenge and the lost friend in time. Unlock: Exotic Adventures is available now in Europe. Previous trilogies included Unlock: Escape Adventures (2017), Unlock: Secret Adventures (2017), Unlock: Heroic Adventures (2017), and Unlock: Mystery Adventures (2017).

Power Grid (2004) by Friedemann Friese is one of the more critically loved games of recent years (BGG ranking #34), with a deep economic system, player auctions, and a crunchy route building mechanism. Rio Grande Games has just announced a new “Recharged” edition of the classic, the English 5th edition, and although details are scarce, the publisher promises “all the strategy and fun of the classic first edition, but adds some updates that improve the (already great) game play.” Power Grid has 2-6 players bidding for coal, oil or nuclear generators, in order to produce and distribute power. Resources are bought from a dynamic market which responds to supply and demand, and players need to expand their power grid to spread electricity across cities. Considered a must-play by many in the board game world, Power Grid Recharged Edition is expected in March 2019. For some more details, watch the Rio Grande Website on Power Grid, which sums up the game very modestly – “this game is perfect”.

Walls of York by Cranio Creations and designer Emiliano “Wentu” Venturini was one of the more favored games of Essen Spiel 2018, and publisher Cool Mini or Not has just announced that they will be bringing the title to North America. Walls of York is a 2-4 player game, which combines the feel of a roll and write game with the tactile joy of building blocks. Each game, players create their own landscape from 4 board tiles, after which dice are loaded into a “King’s Tower”, generating the three goals for the game. The start player rolls the Building Die, which dictates a shape of plastic walls all players then simultaneously place around their emerging city. The die will generally dictate 2 or 3 walls, which could be in a straight line, an ‘L’ shape, or a zig-zag. Players use these templates to gradually surround their city, hopefully enclosing the correct number of structures originally dictated by the King’s Tower during setup, then pass the die to the next player and continue. After players completely enclose their city, the Building Dice earn extra coins each roll. Once all players have all finished their city walls, the invasion occurs, and the player with the most Vikings within their walls is invaded, and receives a Viking Invasion token. After two rounds, players earn victory points from coins collected, and lose points for Viking Invasion tokens. Look for Walls of York in stores from CMoN in the first Quarter of 2019.

Greenbrier Games has announced they are about to release their successful 2017 Kickstarter project, the adventure game Champions of Hara, to retail. Champions of Hara, by designers Walter BarberIan VanNest, and Andrew Zimmermann, is an adventure game in the world of HARA, deep under the roots of the tree of life. In the center of Hara is the Dojo, surrounded by 6 fantastical worlds, filled with dangers and monsters. Champions of Hara can either be played competitively as a skirmish battle game, or cooperatively in a grand quest to close wild rifts and rid the land of the corrupted, former heroes.  Players choose from one of 6 characters, each with their own cards, play style, and resource system. For instance, Leaf the living tree, collects momentum to power up future attacks, while Kaoru the outcast warrior uses Grit as his resource. The cooperative game contains 18 possible scenarios, 3 per player and one single player story. Players gain levels as they traverse the land, unlocking new abilities and finding new powerful items. The core game comes with one Booklet, 138 Hexagon cards, 3 Large Cards, 162 Standard Cards, 20 Cubes, 2 Dice, 9 Miniatures, 4 Player Boards, 56 Tokens, a Day Tracker, and 7 Hex Flower World Tiles. Look for Champions of Hara in stores in January 2019. For more information, check out Greenbrier Games’ website here.