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.

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Cryptozoic Entertainment, the publishers of popular Intellectual Properties such as the DC Deck-Building game, The Walking Dead board game, and the Ghostbusters board game, will be launching a demo program through Publishers Services Inc. (PSI). Using this fulfillment service, they can better reach retailers across the country to introduce their games to prospective customers. As described via their own news release:

This exclusive program is for brick-and-mortar locations only and allows retailers to purchase select Cryptozoic titles at 75% off MSRP. Each year, retailers can purchase one copy (per retail location) of each available title at the discounted price directly through PSI.

The program will launch will a limited availability of products to start, with more to follow. Retailers will be able to choose from Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre, The Walking Dead board game, The Walking Dead board game: The Best Defense, Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game, and Ghostbusters: the Board Game. If you are interested in taking advantage of this program and offering your customers a quality game at a very reasonable price, visit this link to apply and find out more information!

From This and That Games, the publishers  of Comrades and Patriots, comes your daily dose of adorable – Sea Turtle Scurry is their newest game come to Kickstarter.

Sea Turtle Scurry is a game of baby sea turtle racing, from the nest to the ocean. Players lay tiles, play cards, and even hitch a ride on each other on the way to their new home!

Players use their tiles to create a path for the turtles to travel, choosing a side and facing to help their turtle and hinder their opponents. Cards are used as actions or to scurry and forgo a card’s benefit to charge across spaces after incurring penalties for terrain. Turtles can even crawl on another’s back and hitch a ride, unless the ridden turtle crawls onto a rock, which can dampen any hitchhiker’s plans. The game is educationally conscious, as each card features facts about the endangered animals, and made lovingly to spread awareness of one of the most precious marine species. Be sure to check out their Kickstarter on June 7th, going on until June 28th 2016, for more information.

knuckle sammich

From the creators of Kobolds ate my baby! and  Schrödinger’s Cats comes a take-that party game fresh on Kickstarter – Knuckle Sammich, which has proudly (as of writing) made it’s funding goal. Featuring artwork found in the full-color beer-and-pretzel’s RPG, Knuckle Sammich brings the fun and eclectic world into a mechanically interesting game for 2-8 players.

You have a card in your paw* that tells you your meat and what you taste like. On your turn you get to draw a new card, and then choose which of your two cards you want to play. You play a card face up on your plate. Some cards have an effect when played, others while they are on your plate, and a few while they are in your paw.

*Kobolds have paws, not hands.

The goal is to eat as much as you possibly can, and whoever has most cardboard sammiches at the end, after there  are none left to take, is the winner. Some cards let you eat other players, either outright or if you can guess what their meat or taste is on their card in hand. Eating a player  simply eliminates them for a round, but it still earns you a sammich. If the adorable kobolds, shenanigans, and the praising of King Torg interest you, be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign today!

my wu xing cards

My Wu Xing is a small card game for 2-8 players coming from Game Salute on June 3rd. Wu Xing, or the five elements – Metal, Water, Fire, Wood, and Earth, is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy that was used since before and exceptionally during the Han dynasty to explain the unexplained. Creation, dangerous phenomena, and even the basis for actions and emotions. My Wu Xing seeks to not just be a fun card game, but also teach players about the interactions with those elements as well as corresponding concepts within Wu Xing and how they affect each other and nature.

The game pits the player’s Wu Xing (water, wood, fire, earth, metal) against the universal elements and the other players’ elements.  There are also both auspicious cards (Infinite Dragon) or inauspicious cards (Destructive Star) which can change game play at any time. The last player who has elements in their hand wins. If no one has any elements remaining, the player with the most elements in hand wins.

The game is reasonably short and filler tier (max 30 min. estimated), accommodates a lot of players, and carries a lot of historical and philosophical concepts through beautiful illustrations. Definitely looks to be a solid product from Game Salute. Be sure to check it out this summer!

cthulhu ios

The fan-favorite Cthulhu Realms is coming to mobile due to the fantastic work of the same people that brought Star Realms to the digital scene. Cthulhu Realms is a deck building competitive game where players use conjuring power as currency to buy new cards and play minions and locations in order to damage your opponents sanity. If you go insane, you’re out! The last player remaining, or the player with the most sanity when the market deck is depleted is the winner. The upcoming mobile app is available now through Google Play and will be coming to iOS App store soon and will feature a slew of awesome content and multiplayer options for the paid version.

Full App Features: Drive people insane across the globe. Play the AI on 2 difficulty settings. 8 additional campaign missions. Battle your friends face to face with Pass and Play. Play against many more opponents online. Challenge a friend to online Player v Player combat.

Since Cthulhu Realms is mechanically very similar to Star Realms, which has seen impressive popularity on digital platforms, this newest game-to-application entry has a lot of experience behind it to be a worthwhile download. That experience, I expect, will come in the form of consistent patches and bug fixes, a very stable online environment, and a very challenging single-player experience you wouldn’t get from the physical version. Check it out on your favorite app store soon!

blood bowl mini

The fan-favorite fantasy football game is due for a new edition and modern polish, and Games Workshop is cooking one up as we speak. Blood Bowl, the Warhammer-infused tactics game of brutal sportsmanship had it’s 4th edition teased during the Warhammer Fest 2016 event in UK this past weekend. A lot of materials, including the cover art, are quoted to not be final, but the details thus far are solid and the sculpts were impressive regardless and prominently on display. The details, as described by Rictus of Recalcitrant Daze (a stoic reporter of all things Games Workshop), are as follows:

The release is hoped to be end of the year. Box set contains the first two teams, Orcs and Human in plastic. The pitch is double sided with a Human pitch on one side and an Orc pitch on the other. The rules have not been changed, they are the rules which has been around for a while now. In total there will be six teams in plastic (Human, Orc, Skaven, Elf, Nurgle and Dwarf).

The materials are still subject to the design process, as the availability of resin models will not be immediate. Niceties such as resin models or a different material for the pitches are being considered, but it all boils down to projected costs. Despite the lack of a confirmed release date and box details, the picture is still pretty clear – a new Blood Bowl is coming and it’s going to look good.

twister

Did you know that Twister hit the scene after appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? May 3rd, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of that fateful television debut. Did you also know that two years before being patented and marketed by Milton Bradly, Twister went through a few prototypes called Kings’ Footsie and Pretzel? I honestly can’t say which name is my favorite!

Twister has had a significant impact on pop-culture throughout the years, and today it still inspires variants, fun, and laughter. Hasbro will be celebrating the anniversary all over social media with #twister50. If you have any fun videos, or variants to the classic game, be sure to share them over Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday!

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Wizards of the Coast owns two of the most iconic brands in tabletop gaming, and now after many years fans of either game can now enjoy the rich lore of Magic: the Gathering along with the flexible toolkit of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing system. Plane Shift: Zendikar is a free PDF download that provides official rules, settings, and information needed to bring the world of the Planewalkers to anyone’s RPG excursion. Most notably, there are now Wizards-ordained racial modifiers and abilities for the Kor, Merfolk, Goblins, and more!

You can think of Plane Shift: Zendikar  as a sort of supplement to The Art of Magic: The Gathering—Zendikar, designed to help you take the world details and story seeds contained in that book and turn them into an exciting D&D campaign. The easiest way to approach a D&D campaign set on Zendikar is to use the rules that D&D provides mostly as written: a druid on Zendikar might call on green mana and cast spells like giant growth, but she’s still just a druid in the D&D rules (perhaps casting giant insect).

The two come together like ice cream and pie, and I feel like the timing is perfect given the steady progression of MtG’s story and settings as of recent years. Fans of one franchise are rarely stranger to the other, and I’m particularly glad to see the marriage of the two come in such a convenient PDF format. Check out the official Magic webpage for more updates and information.

heroes of air

Gamelyn Games, creators of the increasingly popular Tiny Epic series, has a new project slated for next year that will be just as epic…but no longer tiny.

Heroes of Land, Air & Sea is a 4X-style board game with miniatures that tells the epic tale of orcs vs. humans, dwarves vs. elves, battling kingdoms, and the individuals who turn the tides of war. […] Players must explore the territory around them, build up their work force, fortify their army, and develop their kingdom — all through careful action selection, exploitation, war, and resource management.

This is an interesting shift for Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games and you can tell they are taking this seriously; Despite the 2017 launch date for the Kickstarter campaign, the team has already set up a BGG listing and a youtube trailer! Some chatter among the community are nicknaming Heroes as the Big Edition of Tiny Epic Kingdoms, but a discerning eye toward their description of this newest foray suggests there’s a bit more going on. The exploration, combat, and economics have all been expanded to include more opportunities and risks. With the recent successes of Tiny Epic Western and House of Borgia on Kickstarter, it feels very appropriate for Gamelyn Games to ramp up their product line and shoot for a full-bodied 4X experience. More interestingly is that if they can make a good one in a small box…just imagine what they can put into a big one. Look out for their Kickstarter on January 26, 2017.

YAAH 6 COVER

From Flying Pig Games comes the newest issue of Yaah! Magazine! Their sixth issue features more articles and scenarios deftly geared toward popular war games. Whether they be previews or new scenarios to add to your games, war gamers and fans of Flying Pig Games alike all have something interesting to look forward to with the newest issue. Check out these details from the publisher:

This issue has articles on GMT’s Next War series, Stronghold 2nd ed, Waterloo 200, Airborne Commander, They Come Unseen, and more. Scenarios for Combat Commander, Night of Man, Sticks and Stones, and Shadows in the Weald. Then there’s this issue’s game. Designer Arrigo Velicogna’s Lion of Malaya finds a motley assortment of Indians, Australians, and Brits trying to hold Singapore and Malaya against the Imperial Japanese war machine.

Issue #6 is scheduled to ship in May. Flying Pig Games publishes a new issue of Yaah! Magazine every 4 months, so any new or avid readers should be able to expect issue 7 around September. More information about the highly-acclaimed magazine as well as other products from Flying Pig Games can be found on their homepage.