Mike Austin

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.

Heart of crown

Japanime Games announced via press release that the English edition of Heart of Crown, a hotly anticipated deck building game, will be coming to retail in 2016 and anticipates even greater things for the series. Having concluded a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the publisher hopes to release the game at retail in September after the initial shipments due to Kickstarter backers. Not to rest on their laurels, Japanime Games is very excited to share news about expansions, a PC release, and a special event at Gen Con this year.

Japanime Games is also producing the first two expansions in the series, Far East Territory and Northern Enchantress, as well as the Heart of Crown PC Game. Late backers can contact Japanime Games to pledge at http://www.japanimegames.com/hoc-list.html. Japanime Games is celebrating the release of Heart of Crown at Gen Con in Indianapolis, IN during their company Princess Party at The Rock Bottom Brewery August 5th.

Heart of Crown has a lot to offer fans of deck building games or Japenese Pop-culture. The artwork is unique and lively, and leaves room for surreal locations and people without looking too “toony”. The game itself, and it’s mechanisms, offer unique twists that distinguish it from it’s closest comparisons in the same genre – from both Dominion and Tanto Cuore. It’s achiles heel has always been it’s incredibly limited audience due to lack of localization, but hopefully it’s fans, both old and forthcoming, will benefit from it’s English release and proper Gen Con exposure.


The winners of the 10th annual Golden Geek Awards were announced this Monday, and both the winners and runners up were outstanding titles deserving of the reward. Pandemic: Legacy, the smash hit of 2015 which swiftly climbed the top games list, collectively walked away with 4 awards, including Board Game of the Year! Congratulations for Codenames and Mysterium for winning their most appropriate categories. I’m VERY surprised that 504 did not win most innovative title, but I suppose that’s a discussion best left to the BGG forums.

Hit the link to view the full list, including the RPGGeek and VideoGameGeek winners or, if you’re curious who came close to podium finish, click here to view the full list of nominees.

Colony, a new city building game from Ted Alspach, Toryo Hojo, and Yoshisa Nakatsu and Bezier Games, Inc., is available for pre-order and will be coming to Essen 2016! Check out this description from the press release:

In Colony, each player constructs and upgrades buildings, while managing resources to grow their fledgling colony. In a clever twist, dice are used as resources, with each side/number representing a different resource. Some resources are stable, allowing them to be stored between turns, while others must be used right away. Buildings provide new capabilities, such as increased production, resource manipulation, and additional victory points. Using dice-as-resources facilitates a dynamic, ever-changing resources management mini-game while players work to earn victory points by adding building to their tableau on their way to victory.

Each game of Colony is different depending on a limited array of buildings and modular options such as trading or attacking. Markets and dice-as-resources are not terribly new mechanics, but Bezier Games is no stranger to terrific city-building games, such as Suburbia, and I’m sure this newest game will be a big hit at Essen this year.

Fast & Fhtagn, a furious card game of racing in a Lovecraft-inspired world for 3-6 players, is coming out this April. Atlas Games is promoting the game to any willing FLGS (Friendly Local Game Stores) with exclusive promos (via this submission flier). Custom promos are awesome! Check out it’s description from their product page:

Fast & Fhtagn is a component rich card game where players jockey for position on crowded, dangerous city streets. As the pack hurtles through an ever-changing urban landscape, racers must squeeze out their adversaries, accumulate style points, and keep their vehicles running smoothly even as dangers rain down and other drivers plot inhuman violence against them.

From what details I can find, Fast & Fhtagn seems to be a spiritual successor to another Atlas published game – Cthulhu 500, and is presumed to be a remake with better components and rules. In being forward, I think the name is great! I hope the game series takes off, just so we might see 7 sequels. 2 Fast, 2 Fhtagn, anyone? Check it out this April!



Kickstarter news is storming through as the success of board game crowdfunding continues to climb, and it can be hard to keep up with it all! Which is unfortunate for games with unassuming titles like Victoriana, because I have to be honest – the Victorian-era is beloved and ripe for use in theme and artistic licence (Steampunk notwithstanding). It is easy to assume a game is pasting on a theme to create easy appeal, but that would be a mistake as assuming often is. I’m here to state the record that Victoriana is doing something special.

Victoriana is a cooperative board game for 1-4 players. In Victoriana, players take the role of famous Victorian characters. Following a trail of clues through sprawling 19th century London, these characters must investigate a dire conspiracy that threatens Queen and Country.

victoriana components

What is spellbinding about Victoriana isn’t the theme per say, but it’s inspiration. The game is designed as a sort of love letter to Victorian-era literature, both fiction and non-fiction, and everything about it draws from that romance – the aesthetics, the heroes, the villains, the schemes, the feeling. Admittedly, the board reminds me of Arkham Horror, another cooperative game of chasing a big villain and combating it’s minions. However, Victoriana is making a soulful appeal to a major part of literary history in a deeply unique way to really make it stand out in the cooperative genre. I can’t deny that my love for the source material draws me in, makes me curious about the game and wish it the best of success – not just as a funding campaign, but as justice to that fantastically classic and enchanting period of English literature. If you too are charmed by Victoriana, follow their Kickstarter and Facebook page for it’s progress and updates.



Fireside Games announced a new airship building game for 2-5 players coming Summer 2016 known as Dastardly Dirigibles. Check out this description from the press release, or follow the link to their official webpage for more info:

This game features tarot-sized cards that are played in a constant action format where each time a part is added, ALL players MUST add the SAME part–which may replace an existing one. Build your airship from different parts of 9 beautiful suits, using Special cards to your advantage or to thwart your opponents. The round ends when the first airship is complete. But you score only the suit used most in your airship. The player with the highest score after 3 rounds wins!

The Steampunk theme is sure to please, and it has a force-to-follow card format similar to classic Euchre but with 9 suits and special cards. Certainly interesting and worth looking out for this summer!

immolation banner

The crowdfunding campaign for Xenoshyft: Dreadmire is alive and well, currently over 600% of their goal and climbing! In the middle of shattering most of it’s established stretch goals, Cool Mini or Not announced via campaign update another expansion for Xenoshyft, currently as an optional purchase and presumably available for future retail. Xenoshyft: Immolation is a fire-themed expansion that, like Dreadmire has showcased, adds it’s own unique mechanics to your opposition – in this instance, dealing with mounting fire.

When facing these deadly adversaries, the players will not only have to worry about their raw strength and cunning, but the level of Immolation around the base as well- Enemies will gain unique and special abilities based on how hot the crucible has become. Should players allow it to become too high the very Base itself will begin to suffer damage as slag and fire run rampant!

Adding an expansion during a Kickstarter campaign is not new territory for Cool Mini or Not, and in the past has been a successful way of “turning up the heat”, driving up funding, ramping up campaign attention, and adding more bang for the backers buck. It’s interesting that Immolation is continuing the design trend of not just adding more monsters, troops, and items to the game, but also having it’s own unique mechanism to have to deal with and manage – a new spice for every addition, as it were. Xenoshyft is an awesome cooperative experience, and I for one welcome adding a bit more kick to it.

Asmodee catan

Asmodee and Mayfair just announced via press release that it has bought the English-Language publishing and brand rights for Catan from Mayfair Games. To facilitate this purchase, Asmodee has created a new branch, known as Catan Studios Inc., for the future development of the Catan series and it’s products. Peter Fenlon, former CEO of Mayfair Games, and a team who has worked intimately with Catan for years have moved to create the backbone of Catan Studios Inc.  Mayfair Games is still otherwise intact, with responsibilities of it’s acquired employees being impressively spread among existing staff. Mayfair Games still holds a controlling interest in Lookout Games, and will assist Catan Studios Inc. in the promotion of the Catan brand in all of it’s continually held events, such as the 2016 Catan tournament Schedule, Catan Day 2016, and the World Championship. Guido Teuber of Catan GmbH, the family-run studio founded by series creator Klaus Teuber, had this to say about the acquisition:

“As we celebrate Catan’s 20th anniversary, we are proud to announce this very strong partnership with Asmodee Group. We are excited about the prospect of adding Asmodee’s special talents, strong crew, and deep, global structure into the Catan program. Alongside Catan Studio we will focus on an even closer collaboration with international publishing partners, especially Kosmos Verlag and USM, to strengthen and broaden the overall Catan story and experience worldwide.”

pandemic languages

Popular across all platforms and skyrocketing up the BGG charts with it’s newest Legacy release, Pandemic the app has now made itself even more available than ever before. Z-man Games announced on Christmas day that the digital version has been updated with a massive list of language availability. As announced via Z-man Games news:

As of Saturday, December 26th, though, your favorite digital game will also be available in Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese! That makes it for a grand total of 16 languages!

Previously only available in English, French, and German, Pandemic is now reaching out to much broader audiences so that they too may experience one of the most popular board games today.

carrier assault gif

The X-wing Miniatures Game is going strong with consistent, new content, and has just dropped another release in time for Christmas. The Imperial Assault Carrier is another large ship ready to join anyone’s arsenal. As described on Fantasy Flight’s release news:

Designed for use within the game’s Cinematic Play and Epic Play formats, the Imperial Assault Carrier Expansion Pack contains one Gozanti-class cruiser miniature, two TIE fighter miniatures with a variant paint scheme, eleven ship cards, twenty-six upgrade cards, and all the maneuver dials, damage decks, tokens, and game pieces that you need to fly your Gozanti cruiser and its escort fighters.

Not to be confused with the transport ships of waves past, the Imperial Assault Carrier has docking clamps that allow it to begin with up to 4 of a TIE-series ship type in tow. The Carrier, outside of it’s typical combat options, has it’s own unique rules for releasing the docked ships which allow for incredible tactical engagements. Take a look at the Fantasy Flight release page for more information, including detailed examples of what the ship can offer your Imperial fleet!

I’m very excited to see this game getting more innovative options, both mechanically and visually, amidst the growing number of ships and products that Fantasy Flight has graced the gaming public. For the fans of X-wing minis, the game publisher has certainly not taken their foot off the gas, so to speak, in regards to miniatures quality and worthwhile expansive content. While that effort may be necessary amidst the insatiable hunger that we Star Wars fans have, one cannot deny the “cool factor” represented here.  Check it out at your favorite retailer!