Dice Tower Newsletter

Mike Austin

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Mike is a graduate from Indiana University turned freelance writer and activist gaming enthusiast. He spends his free time discussing news and game design, watching youtube, and entertaining friends and his cat, Cicero. Mike can be reached by e-mail at mikeoflore@gmail.com or on Board Game Geek via the username Noblegrizzly.

A new entry in the Stone Age series, My First Stone Age – The Card Game is coming soon to impress both families and collectors alike. Following last years’ release of My First Stone Age, The Card Game version is set to come out later this year to distill the experience into a card and memory game. However, that’s not it’s only trick in it’s cardboard sleeve as it also acts as an expansion for it’s predecessor. As described by Z-Man Games’ announcement:

“Following in the footsteps of the 2016 Kinderspiel des Jahres Award winner, My First Stone Age — The Card Game returns kids and families to the dawn of civilization while they join Martin the mammoth and Guff the wolfhound on a quest to build a village. […] To complete their huts, players must locate the fish, arrowheads, berries, and other goods they need along a path of goods cards. Finding the right combination of goods to build a hut can be difficult. Luckily, Martin and Guff can help them along the way.”

 

The game uses an array of cards representing resources that can be kept or passed, but passing a card leaves it available for players face down so that those who remember it can seek it later for completing a building. The game encourages development of both memory and resource management skills, but the small box does more than that. For those who own 2016’s My First Stone Age, this newest addition acts as an expansion with the tiles being added to the original game and the tokens adding additional strategic options for gathering resources. This flexibility with the product is outstanding both for value and practicality, as it allows the newest edition to gain more legs as it’s outgrown the potential of it’s own merits and effectively add depth to a bigger game. If you’re interested in My First Stone Age – The Card Game, be sure to check out Z-Man Games’ website and social media accounts for more information.

The International Gamers Awards have been going on since the year 2000, celebrating and recognizing gaming a truly global scale by having a committee of judges from all around the world. Each year they vote for the best game within the General Strategy category, which is split into two sub-categories: Multiplayer and 2-Player. 2017’s finalists have been announced and it’s immediately noticeable that this year’s competition is fierce. So without further ado, the nominees are:

General Strategy Games – Multiplayer nominees

A Feast for Odin
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Feuerland Spiele

Century: Spice Road
Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher: Plan B Games

First Class
Designers: Helmut Ohley
Publisher: Hans im Glück

Gloomhaven
Designer: Isaac Childress
Publisher: Cephalofair Games

Great Western Trail
Designer: Alexander Pfister
Publishers: eggertspiele

Key to the City: London
Designers: Sebastian Bleasdale and Richard Breese
Publisher: R&D Games

Lorenzo il Magnifico
Designers: Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli and Simone Luciani
Publisher: Cranio Creations

Magic Maze
Designer: Kasper Lapp
Publisher: Sit Down!

Scythe
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Image from the English 2nd Printing

Terraforming Mars
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Publisher: Fryx Games / Stonemaier Games

The Colonists
Designer Tim Puls
Publisher: Lookout Games

Ulm
Designer: Günter Burkhardt
Publisher: HUCH!

Yokohama
Designer: Hisashi Hayashi
Publisher: OZAKU Brand

General Strategy Games – 2-Player nominees

 

Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Designers: Nate French and Matthew Newman
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Caverna: Cave vs. Cave
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Lookout Games

 

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft
Designer: Diego Ibanez
Publisher: Devir

Santorini
Designer: Gordon Hamilton
Publisher: Roxley

Star Wars: Destiny
Designers: Corey Konieczka and Lukas Litzsinger
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

The Steampunk theme is one that will forever remain endearing for some, and I’m no exception. However, nowadays it takes something a little more than a typical card game with a theme I like to grab my attention. So what about a game that has a Steampunk theme that does something really cool with cards?! That gives us Noxford, the newest game from Quick Simple Fun Games releasing this month. It’s essentially a tile-laying game that uses cards instead of tiles which everyone is placing in a shared space in a mad bid of territory control. Here’s a brief description from the publisher:

“Set in a Steampunk universe, Noxford gives you the opportunity to seize control of the Victorian city that you build over the course of the game. In turn, players place either cards depicting influence of their syndicate or neutral cards representing rich districts (victory points) as well as barracks (which cancel syndicate influence around those areas). Cards must be placed so that they touch at least two cards already in play and must have at least two edges aligned on the edges of the cards that it touches.”

We’ve seen this type of card placement before in a game called Honshu, which featured bidding for cards to place them in your own personal town for points and resources. Noxford, on its face, is quite a bit more sinister than that as it forces all the players to build one city, a city where points come from neutral cards that must be played and also protected and fought for in order to be scored. If it lives up to Quick Simple Fun’s namesake, Noxford will be a game that I will be looking out for when it releases. If you too are interested in Noxford and other Quick Simple Fun releases, please check out their website for more information.

If you’re anything like me, which since you’re here and most likely interested in board games that means you’re not far off the mark, you’re probably also interested in mobile and Steam versions of popular board games. Digital board games have been a growing market, apps flying out of their little digital shopping carts so-to-speak, and those licensed by publishers also tend to have extra polish and features which make them even more attractive. That’s why the word about several new releases coming from Asmodee Digital is particularly exciting. The list, announced at Gen Con and cited from their press release, is as follows:

Coming very soon:
Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Steam, Mac, iOS & Android)
Carcassonne (Android & Steam)
Smash Up (Steam, iOS & Android)

To be released before the end of 2017:
– Abalone (Steam)
– Milles Bornes (Steam, iOS, and Android)
-A new text adventure game set in the much-loved Catan universe, called Catan Stories (iOS & Android)

Slated for 2018:
Zombicide
Scythe
Terraforming Mars
Bananagrams
Gloom

Digital games are wonderful for their ease and convenience. I use them especially as tools to help learn and teach games very effectively, or to preview games before deciding on purchasing the physical version. I especially welcome digital versions of Scythe and Terraforming Mars which will allow a new audience of gamers to experience those games for themselves without having to invest too much into them up-front. If you’re interested in learning  about these and future app releases, be sure to visit Asmodee’s website and social media pages for more information.

Hungry for more T.I.M.E. Stories? The Sixth expansion, Estrella Drive, is slated for a 4th quarter release this year and drops players into 1980’s Hollywood. This time of vice, violence, luxury, and celebrity is an intriguing departure from previous expansions which have focused on much older periods of time. Yet what makes T.I.M.E. Stories scenarios special is that they tend to stray far from the ordinary for their setting. There’s some paranormal-esque shenanigans afoot and it’ll take some trained eyes to get to the bottom of it. As described via the Asmodee product page:

“The location of the anomaly appears to be a luxurious villa in the California hills. Science in the 20th century was incapable of correctly identifying time alterations, so the mansion is believed to be haunted by many natives of this era. […] Take careful note of these fissures in the time stream, but remember their true source lies in the damage being done to the Time Line, not in the supernatural.”

 

While 80’s Hollywood and “ghost” stories don’t immediately sound like they mix, part of the fun of this exemplary cooperative game is showing how one strange turn can pan out in the long run. Estrella Drive‘s fresh theme, while intended for mature audiences only, is enough to make the storytelling pop for a series where storytelling has been it’s greatest strength. Fans of the series who want to continue on their journey have something to look forward to this holiday season. For more information on this release and future T.I.M.E. Stories releases, please be sure to check out Asmodee’s official product page and news feed.

Originally published by Placentia Games and Post Scriptum and funded on Kickstarter, Kepler 3042 has now been picked up by Renegade Games Studios and looking at an Essen release this year. This new version will maintain all of the original game’s rules with only a few clarifications added, but will feature all new artwork by Kwanchai Moriya (who recently produced the captivating art for Flip Ships). Up to 4 pioneers will compete against one another, exploring, colonizing, and developing their way to victory. As further explained in Renegade Games’ press release:

 “You must carefully manage your resources as you colonize, exploit, and terraform the planets of the Milky Way, developing critical technologies along the way. Each round, you choose which action to perform and which bonuses to activate to further your goals. The nation with the most victory points at the end will be remembered by history as the greatest explorers in the galaxy!”

With Renegade Games producing quality light and medium weight games over the past few years, this step into a heavier 4X style game is a nice addition to their repertoire and the new art is a definite improvement. The advantage for them is that the game is already pretty well tested and positively reviewed, now with just enough polish to make the game really attractive to those that missed out on the original printing.  If you are interested in learning more about Kepler 3042, feel free to check out the previous edition’s campaign page and visit Renegade Games Studios’ website for more information on the new edition.

The winner’s of this round of Dice Tower Awards were announced this last week at Dice Tower Con, recorded live for YouTube as well. The nominees were selected by a panel of roughly 100 people, with voting shortly after managed by Jason Levine. A hearty thanks to everyone who participated. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, which made for a fantastic list of games who all deserved the award, but of course there can be only one victor in each category. So without further ado:

Best Game of the Year
Scythe
Jamey Stegmaier, Alan Stone

Best Artwork
Scythe
Jamey Stegmaier, Alan Stone

Best Board Game Production
Mechs vs Minions
Chris Cantrell, Rick Ernst, Stone Librande, Prashant Saraswat, Nathan Tiras

Best Cooperative Game
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Nikki Valens

Best Expansion
7 Wonders: Duel – Pantheon
Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala

Best Family Game
Ice Cool
Brian Gomez

Best Game from a New Designer
Terraforming Mars
Jacob Fryxelius

 

Best Game from a Small Publisher
Roll Player
Keith Matejka

Best Party Game
Captain Sonar
Roberto FragaYohan Lemonnier

Best Reprint
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Nikki Valens

Best Strategy Game
Terraforming Mars
Jacob Fryxelius

Best Theming
Captain Sonar
Roberto FragaYohan Lemonnier

Best Two Player Game
Star Wars: Rebellion
Corey Konieczka

Most Innovative Game
Captain Sonar
Roberto FragaYohan Lemonnier

Gen Con has often been a cannot-miss event for Stone Blade Entertainment and their fans, and 2017 is no different. Their popular deck-building series, Ascension, is not running out of steam anytime soon and is poised to receive it’s eleventh expansion this year, Valley of the Ancients. Featuring a bevy of new cards, this newest addition adds Temples which are powerful cards which can be both earned and stolen, as well as new card mechanics that use your discard pile. However, in addition to this new expansion there will also be a World Championship tournament, as said in the press release:

“Do you think you have what it takes to be the best Ascension player in the world and take home $2,500? If you’re attending Gen Con 2017, you can test your mettle against a sea of excited Ascension fans in our annual Ascension World Championship. Ultra PRO and Stone Blade Entertainment will host this Swiss tournament event on August 19 at 10 AM.”

To make sure all competitor’s have an even playing field, the tournament will be played using the newest expansion. There really is no better way to debut a new set to a competitive card game than with a tournament, and with the mechanics of the new set focusing on careful use of acquired and spent cards this year’s should be memorable. If you’re interested in the World Championship, you can find out more and sign up at this link. If you’re interested in learning more about Valley of the Ancients in particular, check out the official Ascension website where they will soon post more about it.

For a one-of-a-kind adult camping/convention hybrid, it doesn’t get much better than Epic Nerd Camp. Ever wanted to learn sword fighting, archery, horseback riding, while having a huge board gaming library available on the same campground? Look no further than Starrucca, Pennsylvania to find just that. 2017 marks the 2nd year of the event and tickets are on sale now. As described via their press release:

Annually held, Epic Nerd Camp is a camp/con experience that focuses on building community through social activities, learning hero skills, expressing creativity, and making lasting friendships that come from summer camp. […]There’s so much to entertain at Epic Nerd Camp. You just pick what you like and you can improve your skills and/or learn new ones.”

Available activities include Arts & Crafts, such as making chainmail or cosplay outfits, LARPing, swordplay, archery, wall climbing, juggling, swimming, and more. There will also be an air conditioned gaming room with an impressive board gaming library which will also host special events. The camp takes places across two sessions which either or both can be attended, from August 12th – 16th, and then the 16th – 20th. If you’re interested in Epic Nerd Camp 2017, check out their website and their YouTube channel for more information!

Potion Explosion, published originally by Horrible Games and later by Cool Mini or Not, invited up to 4 players into it’s zany Harry Potter-esque potions class for a fun time using marbles and chain reactions. The game is unique in how it uses marbles and gravity with resource management and set collection, and it’s quite fun if not at least delightful to see on a table. Now the game’s first expansion, The Fifth Ingredient, is coming soon and once again players will return to the classroom for potion mixing madness. As per CMON’s announcement:

 “Professor Humblescore is back, and he has some new tricks to teach. The Fifth Ingredient adds new Potions, Professor tiles, Reward and Scolding tokens, a Ghastly Cauldron, and a wild new ingredient: Ghost Ectoplasm!”

When I first got my chance to play Potion Explosion, I soon caught the rumor of an expansion that would add a wild ingredient to the mix and have been excited to hear about how it would affect the game. We know now that this new type of marble not only counts as any color of ingredient for potions, but it also consistently causes explosions when impacting with other ingredients to the dispenser. A cauldron is added that will mechanically work to exchange and carry ectoplasm, as well as allowing players to trade for them with certain actions. There are also new potions that can be made and imbibed throughout the game that interact with this new resource as well.

Perhaps the most interesting addition are the new professors. Each one comes with their own rules and tiles that affect a given game, some giving rewards or scolding depending on how well one adheres to their instruction. There’s a lot this expansion adds that can give a game with a good table presence and a unique mechanic the depth that it deserves and I definitely look forward to seeing it. Potion Explosion: The Fifth Element, will be releasing very soon (June 23rd by the CMON announcement) and if you’re interested in more information, be sure to visit CMON’s web page.