Our friends at Casual Gaming Revolution are doing their annual award for the most fun, innovative, and unique casual game form the previous year. What makes their process particularly exciting is that they allow for the public to vote, the winner of which is added to the tabulations of their own panel of 12 judges. So they want YOU! Yes, you! You have a real horse in this race!
“Last year’s award resulted in a very close race — the winner by a razor thin margin was Sagrada by Floodgate Games, with Azul and Go Nuts for Donuts as the runners up. This year, we have another very tough race between three great games. So, let your voice be heard!“
Their nominees for this year are:
All you need to do to participate is visit this page and cast your vote at the bottom. That’s it! So what are you waiting for?!
The newest game from Quined Games and designers Paulo Soledade and Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, two men behind Nippon, Madeira, and Panamax, is now on Kickstarter. La Stanza is a tactical area movement game where 2-to-4 players move about a 16th century mansion collecting and enlisting the help of characters in order to specialize in a few key tracks of influence for points. The theme is a bit odd to say the least, because the characters are paintings, but then you can hire…the paintings, and you’re hiring them to do better at religion, or politics, or…sailing, all without leaving this house. However, theme aside, this is really close to (but not quite) a rondel game like Antike or Trajan, and that is awesome!
“A 16th century mansion is the setting for this game, you’ll acquire paintings of well-known individuals, like William Shakespeare or Michelangelo. Each of these paintings will give you a special action in one of five rooms. You need to have these paintings in your personal supply to perform the corresponding action.”
It’s hard to get that impression about this game at first, because this area movement mechanism is layered beneath an attractive classical look. Yet it’s there and very well implemented, as you will have to manage where you go to pick up resources (characters) to strengthen specific actions they’re tied to within other rooms (areas of influence), and you can only move clockwise 1-to-4 spaces each turn. Oh, and money and space are tight, so you’ll have to be very careful what you pick up and where you land, and you’ll need to specialize in only a few areas to do well while your opponents do the same. What’s more is that Quined Games has definitely given this game a look worthy of a deluxe edition with metal coins and custom wooden pieces, and that’s precisely what is available only during this Kickstarter campaign. If you’d like to find out more about La Stanza, be sure to check out the campaign page for the full rules, updates, and community feedback.
Sit Down! has three new products in the pipeline this first month of the new year, all having been shown off at the previous Essen show. All three are slated for initial release in European Markets, with future distribution unannounced. Their newest title is Gravity Superstars, a competitive game for 2 to 6 adventurers that emulates platforming games of old as each player jumps and runs along platforms to capture stardust . It’s a very cool and innovative design where each player deals with a different puzzle because their piece sits facing them in one of the four cardinal orientations of the board, a different perspective giving a different set of challenges.
“What is really original about Gravity Superstar is the manner in which the players’ pawns move: Each turn, they move one or two spaces, then they are affected by gravity, which makes them fall until they are stopped by a platform. This effect is made possible by the fact that the pawns are used lying down on the board. Thus, they move up (above their head), down (below their feet), left, or right. During its movement, a pawn can collect stars (to score points at the end of the game) or replay tokens (to take a second consecutive turn), and eject opponents’ pawns from the board.”
The next two products are for the Magic Maze line, starting with Magic Maze Kids XXL. It’s pretty much exactly what it reads on the tin, it’s a giant board (70 x 70 cm) compatible with Magic Maze Kids that also adds a few new rules, and that sounds like a lovely addition to an already excellent children’s game. Last is a much awaited expansion for the original Magic Maze hinted at during the Dice Tower Awards ceremony last July, Hidden Roles. This appropriately-named expansion (one that I have been very hyped for) can be added to any game of 3 or more players to allow for a potential traitor who doesn’t want the team to succeed, but if they’re called out they are removed from play and must give up their action to someone else. All of these sound amazingly fun in all their own ways, and if you are as excited as I am to see more from Sit Down!, be sure to check out their website for future announcements!
Dexterity games always catch my eye, and especially any that do something new. The beauty of dexterity games, and by extension the board gaming hobby as a whole, is it’s still a relatively dense yet not-fully-explored design space, meaning there’s a lot of room for innovation. That’s why Kickstarter projects like Stonehenge and the Sun warrant our attention, because it engages hand-eye coordination on multiple levels due to it’s unique use of gravity. This, my friends, is a competitive game for 2-4 players where not only will you be stacking blocks to increase tension and difficulty, you’ll be forced to swing a literal metal wrecking ball across the table trying not to bash anything over, for the person who knocked over the fewest pieces will be the winner.
“”Stonehenge and the Sun” is a game where you can enjoy the physical presence of gravity. The defining feature of the game “a metal ball hanging from the ceiling” is a characteristic that is unprecedented in the tabletop game world. To bring this game concept into realization is the goal of our campaign.”
The “wrecking ball” descriptor I used above is an easy way to illustrate how the game plays, but it actually does a disservice to the visual appeal of the game. The name of the game, Stonehenge and the Sun, plays homage to the way the stones at the world wonder were built up and collapsed over thousands of years, with the metal ball careening across the table a visual representation of the sun passing in the sky. It’s creates a really cool, deeply thematic, unique and pleasing table presence, it’s beyond easy to learn and plays very quickly, but what else would you expect from the people that brought us Tokyo Highway (which Tom recently reviewed). If you’re interested in learning more about Stonehenge and the Sun, check out Itten’s Kickstarter page for videos, rules, FAQs, and community updates!
Two new products are slated to arrive soon from Stronghold Games – Friedmann Friese’s Futuropia and the Piece of Cake expansion for Kitchen Rush. The former new game from prolific designer of F-named games, Futuropia is described as a “luck-free” economic game where players compete to build an ideal civilization – one where citizens no longer need to work but instead have enough food and energy to live in leisure for the rest of their natural lives. It’s a fun theme with some serious science fiction roots not entirely divorced from it’s predecessor, Power Grid, which is certainly reason enough to have a piqued interest. Futuropia allows for 1 to 4 players and takes roughly 90 minutes to play.
“To ensure you always encounter new challenges, we offer multiple game set-up variations, which create a variety of gameplay situations, ensuring new experiences and replayability. The solo game offers you an option to learn the mechanisms and processes of Futuropia before you play it with other players. See our hopeful future in…Futuropia!”
Kitchen Rush: Piece of Cake is, on the other hand, simply an expansion to the frantic real-time cooperative game slash restaurant simulator. It adds plenty more new options to the game, including board extensions, desserts, mini-orders, and a new hourglass for use as a specialist worker. Kitchen Rush is excellent and challenging on it’s own, but if perhaps you find it a bit stale or would like to broaden the types of actions in the game, Piece of Cake is there for you. Both products are scheduled to release to retail in January of 2019, so if you’re interested in either of these items be sure to check out your favorite store to pick up a copy.
While mergers within the board game industry are something we’re all becoming accustomed to, it’s interesting to see such a thing occur between two publishers that have both been making waves within the past few months. As announced via Facebook, NSKN Games, publishers of recently hot games Teotihuacan and Dice Settlers, have merged with Board & Dice, publishers of The Networks and Multiuniversum. They will continue forward under the Board & Dice brand, and games from both categories will feature this branding in future print runs. This move won’t come to any detriment to the quality of their content or their fans, but instead will help leverage both publisher’s abilities to broaden their catalog and bring about even more cool games.
“We have both worked together on many fields, we are friends outside working hours and what’s probably most important – both companies have excellent and successful games in their portfolios. We want to move to the next level in the board games industry and we know we can do this together by joining our potentials under one refreshed Board & Dice brand.”
In addition to this merger was an announcement of plans for the upcoming year under the combined brand’s Facebook page. This plan includes an expansion each for Teotihuacan and Dice Settlers, a new game in the Exodus series, a surprise design from Daniele Tascini, and the following new titles: INUIT, World Shapers, Dust in the Wings, Sierra West, and Escape Tales 2. It looks like there’s a bright future in store for the publishers, and their already extensive catalogs will certainly serve them well in the days to come. If you’re interested in learning more about Board & Dice, and this merger, check out their website for further updates, news, and product information.
Want to enhance any game in your collection quickly and easily without have to scour the internet for variants or house rules? Quined Games has you covered with their next release – The Game Changers. This is not a full game, of course, but more like an 80-card expansion for your whole collection. With these cards, you can add new end game scoring, turn a cooperative game competitive and vice versa, or even alter the flow of the game with fun solutions for analysis paralysis or making mistakes.
“The Game Changers box gives you the possibility to give more or other fun to any of your games. It can give the games that you know and love so well a new and fresh impulse, but it can also freshen up your worn and torn games and even give the boring evergreens a second life. It’s up to you to use, or not use, any of the Changers.”
Now of course not all of these will work with every game, your mileage will vary. Each card is essentially going to amount to the same value as a fun, harmless house rule, so if that’s something you already do then this pack of cards is a no-brainer. However, even if you aren’t into variants but have thought about it from time-to-time, this simple pack of 80 cards is a harmless way to dip your toe into the water and it may even inspire many more cool ideas. If you’re interested in learning more about The Game Changers, or other releases from Quined Games, be sure to check out their website for their product pages and articles.
Cool Mini or Not has a big batch of new products coming very soon. Announced via press release, CMON has updated their release schedule to show a large number of titles all being available for retail in time for Christmas. With such a wide variety of games suitable for players of all preferences, it’s safe to say this is one publisher ready to please for the holidays. The following list of games are all slated to release on November 23rd:
- Narcos, the cooperative board game based on the hit Netflix original, pits players as characters from the show trying to manage a growing narcotics empire.
- Newton, one of the hottest euro-games of the year, has players take on the role of young scientists following in the footsteps of the greatest minds of 17th century by traveling Europe, studying, earning money, developing new tools for the pursuit of knowledge.
- Both versions of Railroad Ink, a striking roll-and-write challenging players to build networks on an ever shrinking dry-erase board of options. Each version includes two unique expansions, and both versions can be combined to mix up the options and the fun.
- The Grizzled, Armistice edition, is the new CMON re-release of the favorite cooperative game now featuring a campaign mode and pre-painted miniatures.
- 5 new products for A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game. A Night’s Watch Starter Set brings many of the brave and grizzled watchers of the wall to the table, and they pave the way for 4 new add-on packs – The Sworn Brothers, the Ranger Hunters, the Stark Outriders, and the Lannister Halberdiers.
Victorian Masterminds, on the other hand, is an exception and is instead slated to release January 25th, 2019. The hotly anticipated game from Eric Lang and Antoine Bauza where players take on the roles of famous villains attempting to realize their nefarious plans is only a few months away yet I’m positive the wait is well worth it. Of course all dates listed here are subject to change, which is par for the course as many of the titles listed here have had their street dates revised at least once before. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these releases, or further release updates from CMON, be sure to check out their website for announcements and details.
Catacombs is back again, this time bigger and better in almost every way. The positively excellent dungeon crawling dexterity game is now on Kickstarter, this time featuring a bigger box, new insert, updated rules, better border walls, and most important of all – double-sided cloth playmats! Now the game is more streamlined, sturdier, with an improved premium feel and more attractive look, and it will all fit on a standard Kallax shelf. There’s also a new Wydlands expansion to boot, along with all the old expansion content available as add-ons, which means if you’ve missed the train on this exemplary flicking game you’ve got the chance to dive into the action.
“The surface of the playmats are a very fine cloth weave, which is smooth to the touch. This allows the wood discs to glide across with impressive precision, making every shot satisfyingly consistent. We removed the obstacle holes from the play surfaces, replacing them with obstacle icons, just like in Catacombs & Castles. This allows us to have different obstacle placements between the two sides. With no holes, you can even use your awesome new playmats with your other games!”
For those who already own the 3rd edition of Catacombs from previous campaigns, there’s an upgrade option on this campaign that offers all the new content descirbed above, including the bigger box and new expansion, so you won’t need to buy a whole new copy. As designer Aron West has said in commentary – this is the way Catacombs is meant to be played, as once you play on mats you won’t want to go back to the old boards. This is truly a one-of-a-kind game deserving of evergreen status in many collections, and this is just the kind of deluxe treatment it deserves. If you’re interested in learning more about this upgraded version of Catacombs 3rd edition, check out the Kickstarter campaign, which has successfully funded, for more information, visuals, FAQ, updates, and stretch goals!
Friedemann Friese is at it again with another “F” named game in the Fable Game system, this time using deck building, or rather…deck unbuilding? Fine Sand, coming soon from Stronghold Games, is a deck deconstruction game where players are competing to build sandcastles from the materials around them. These materials are represented by a starting deck of 30 cards, depicting anywhere from sand and stone to structures. Players will spend basic materials to build the structures, which in turn removes the cards from the deck and makes it more efficient at the same time, ramping up an engine until someone triggers game end by removing most of their cards.
“Fine Sand uses the “Fable Game System” introduced in Fabled Fruit, and in addition to a stack of starting cards, each player receives a presorted stack of Fable cards. With these cards, you change your card stack from game to game. Continue to play, or reset and play the game again with the same or different groups. Fine Sand includes an addictive solo campaign!”
It’s quite a fascinating system, a little sleaker than it’s fellow deconstructing title Valley of the Kings, that really turns the genre on it’s head and may prove to be the most impressive Fable Game yet. Even tried-and-true concepts like “trashing” cards have been twisted a bit, since constructing cards already removes them from the deck, trashing instead gives the card to the player on your left – gumming up their system! With the Fable cards, each players starting stack of cards will change from game to game, adding variety and demanding a different approach each time you play. If you’re interested in learning more about Fine Sand, keep an eye on Stronghold Games’ website. While it doesn’t have a product page just yet, it is on their release schedule and certainly they will have more information and updates the sooner we approach it’s retail release date.
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