Patrick Zoch

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A retired military veteran, father of five, and an avid wargamer, boardgamer, video gamer, and role play gamer. Now that his world traveling days are over, he spends his days working on training and education policy. In his free time (which is every other minute he is not working on the "Honey, Do" list), he draws his family, friends, and co-workers into the boardgame hobby. He can be readily found on BoardGameGeek.com as "pdzoch".

Barnes and Noble, the world’s largest book retailer, has long provided an assortment of toys, games, videos, music, gifts, and other accessories for readers and writers alike.  The knowledgeable staff at Barnes and Noble have a reputation for helping customers always find what they are looking for, so it is no surprise that they would be the first to publish their Holiday Gift Guide to help customers find just the right gift for everyone on their shopping list.

Toys and Games is one of the major sections provided in their Holiday Gift Guide, and it is conveniently broken down into subcategories.  Mass market games like Battleship, Connect Four, Clue, and Monopoly are present of course, but under the Strategy Games category, an excellent selection of hobby games can be found.  Hobby classics like Catan, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride have long been Barnes and Noble game staples, but the board game hobbyist will be pleased to find games like Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and Season 2, Azul, Photosynthesis, and Star Wars: X-Wing 2nd Edition.  Barnes and Noble clearly keeps up with the board game hobby because recent popular releases also top the list of recommended games: The Mind, Villainous, Hail Hydra, Axis & Allies & Zombies, and many more.

If you are looking for a board game for someone on your shopping list, Barnes & Noble’s Holiday Gift Guide is a good place to start.

Star Wars: X-Wing enters the Clone Wars with Fantasy Flight’s latest wave of expansions.  Wave III introduces two new factions for the Clone Wars: the Galactic Republic and the Separatist Alliance.

Supporting the Separatist Alliance is the workhorse of the fleet: Servants of Strife Squadron Pack. This squadron pack contains a heavily armed Belbullab-22 starfighter and two Vulture-class droid fighters (painted in General Grievous’s colors).  Of course, you can always add additional Vulture-class droid fighters (in traditional tan color) which have their own expansion pack.  Lastly, Sith Infiltrator Expansion Pack gives the Separatist Alliance an opportunity to make stealthy and deadly strikes by agents of Darth Sidious, including Darth Maul!

On the Galactic Republic side, the Guardians of the Republic Squadron Pack provides the workhorse of the fleet. This squadron pack contains one Delta-7 Aethersprite (painted in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s colors) and two V-19 Torrent Starfighters.  While clone pilots fly the Starfighters, the Jedi Knights pilot the Delta-7s.  The ARC-170 Starfighter Expansion provides superior heavy fighter support for the Galactic Republic, which can add plenty more Jedi’s to the skies with the Delta-7 Aethersprite Expansion (in traditional yellow and grey colors).

Wave III also includes updated versions of two classic starfighters for Scum and Villainy and Galactic Empire factions. The Z-95-AF4 Headhunter Expansion sports an awesome looking black and yellow paint scheme and will be an imposing starship in any criminal fleet.  Lastly, TIE/sk Striker Expansion provides the Galactic Empire a nimble and deadly starfighter.

To learn more about Wave III and these expansions, stay tuned to Fantasy Flight. Look for these expansions at your friendly local game store in the first quarter 2019.

Avalon Hill’s Betrayal Legacy is available in stores now. Ever since Dice Tower News covered the announcement last year, fans have eagerly awaited its release.  The original Betrayal at House on the Hill, designed by Rob Daviau, is a hugely popular and thematic game and has already served as the inspiration for re-implementation in the fantasy setting of Forgotten Realms in Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. Rob Daviau has made his mark in the industry as a premier legacy game designer, first with Risk Legacy, then with award winning Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (currently #2 on BGG), Seafall, and Pandemic: Season 2.

Rob Daviau returns in Betrayal Legacy adding permanent changes and a multi-game story arc that define the legacy game concept. It will not be enough to survive the haunted mansion for one game.  The game is told through a prologue and 13-chapter story where players represent specific members of a family, who age over time, and experience the events of the haunted mansion over multiple decades.

Betrayal Legacy plays 3-5 players, ages 12+, in about 75 minutes per game. Go to Avalon Hill to learn more about the game, or visit your friendly local game story today.

Eurydice Games has launched FlickFleet, a new finger-flicking game set in space, on Kickstarter.  In this two-player game, players command a fleet of spaceships made of laser cut acrylic.  Each ship has its own set of weaponry and abilities.  Players take turns making two actions with each of their ships, moving them by flicking them for the best angle to engage or evade the enemy, firing lasers and missiles at the enemy by flicking a dice at the target, deploying fighters and bombers, or repairing the ship’s defenses.  The dice used to attack other ships depend on the type of weapon fired, and the results of the dice after a hit determines the effect on the target.  Each type of ship comes with a dashboard card that displays the status of all the systems on the ship.  With this dashboard, players keep track of damage to the ship, available assets, and lost capabilities.  The rules support two styles of play: free play and scenario.  A handful of scenarios are included in the rulebook and more are promised online at Eurydice Games.

FlickFleet plays two players, ages 8+, in about 20 minutes.  Contents include 11 capital ships, 11 three-part fighter/bomber wings, 11 capital ship dashboards, 56 wooden discs, 49 wooden cubes, and a D10 and a D6 dice.  To learn more, check out their Kickstarter campaign, which runs through December 8 with an expected delivery of December 2019.

Eagle-Gryphon Games invites you to enjoy the nostalgia of the 1950s. No, not the Happy Days of the 1950s, but the fear and anxiety of a nuclear war!  In This is Only a Test, players must prepare the family for the coming end, but they do not know how the game will end or when it will end.  And how it ends determines how each family must be prepared.  Players may decide to invest in their survivability.  Or they may decide to invest in the stockpiles.  Or they may decide to take advantage of the panic to turn a nice profit and buy some nice stuff. There simply is not enough time or resources for players to prepare for everything.  Players may try to gather information to learn more about what fate awaits them or influence the timeline to an outcome that best suits their preparation. When the end does come, the player who is most prepared for the type of ending is the winner. There is a separate victory condition if this turns out to only be a test.

This is Only a Test plays 1-4 players, ages 10+ in 45-60 minutes. Contents include 4 nuclear families (meeples and player board), 3 leader cards, 12 player aids, 8 activation tokens, 1 timeline board, city hall board, 30 panic mini-cards, 24 equipment cards, 15 event cards, and 66 supply cards.  To learn more, check out the Kickstarter campaign, which runs through 21 November with an expected delivery in October 2019.

Firelock Games, known for their historical miniatures war game set in the golden age of piracy, Blood & Plunder, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Oak & Iron, a fleet-based naval strategy game set in the same period.  Blood & Plunder and Oak & Iron are not only set in the same period, the games are designed to work alongside each other allowing campaigns and scenarios in cross-over games.  In Blood & Plunder, players commanded a crew of a ship, local militiamen, or fierce natives in a tactical war game played with 28mm miniatures.  In Oak & Iron, players take command of an entire fleet represented by beautiful 1/600th scale miniature ships.  The choice of faction and leaders change the abilities of the fleet, and each ship is capable of being upgraded.  Fleet actions are determined by orders on initiative cards that also affect the initiative and bonuses to be applied in the following turn. Managing momentum is a key element in the game.  All ships move according to their orders, and then attack.  Successful attacks damage ships and fatigue enemy crew, which weakens their performance in following attacks.  When a player has accrued more strike points than remain ships, the fleet flees the battle leaving the remaining player victorious on the seas.

Oak & Iron plays 2-6 players, ages 8+ in 45-60 minutes.  Contents include six ships and their bases and cards.  A wind direction arrow, movement and range rulers and dice are included.  Among the tokens in the game are visually effective “wake” and “smoke” tokens to indicate respectively when a ship has moved and fired that turn.  The Kickstarter campaign, which was funded on the first day, runs through December 5 with an expected delivery in October 2019.

It happened again.  Another small publisher was robbed at the Essen Spiel Fair.  You may remember that it was only a couple of years ago that LudiCreations fell victim to an unscrupulous thief who stole their cash box at Essen.  The silver lining to the whole event was the rapid creation of and overwhelming support on Kickstarter for Steal This GameSteal This Game was a tongue-in-cheek theme reflective of the incident inflicted on LudiCreation at Essen.

This time, the thieves targeted Artipia Games, ironically while they were running demos of their new game, A Thief’s Fortune.  Like so many outstanding game publishers, Artipia’s personnel were being ever attentive to their customers and fans.  The thieves took advantage of Artipia’s customer engagement to create a distraction while an accomplice stole the cash register.  Artipia acted quickly, resulting in one arrest but not the recovery of the stolen cash. Thankfully, no one was hurt.  Artipia Games reflected on the incident:

“Our shock and financial loss left a very sour taste in our mouth. Artipia Games is a family indie game publishing business and the sales we make at the Essen fair play an important role in our survival.”

To cut their losses, Artipia Games is running a Kickstarter Campaign for five specially designed promo cards for A Thief’s Fortune, Fields of Green, Kitchen Rush, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Whoosh: Bounty Hunters.  In what is becoming a tradition in our hobby, the theme of these promos is also a tongue-in-cheek reflection of the incident. There are no plans to reprint these promos; there were made only for this Kickstarter campaign to offset the losses from the theft.  The boardgame community has always pulled together in camaraderie and compassion in times of need. Whether you decide to back the Kickstarter for the promos or make a small donation, your support will be greatly appreciated.

 

Grey Fox Games brings more goodness from Midgard. Set in the same universe as Champions of Midgard, currently sitting at #103 on Board Game Geek, Reavers of Midgard places players once again as leaders of a Viking clan in search for glory.  While, at first, this new game features some similar mechanics as its sister game – dice rolling combat, worker placement, and set collection – these mechanics are used differently along side a card drafting mechanism to build engines toward victory. One of the differences in Reavers of Midgard is the single worker each player may place that activates an action all the other players get to take, but the closer the other players are to the acting player, the more beneficial the action. Reavers are a new addition to the Midgard universe, and they are represented by beautifully illustrated cards that players can recruit.  Each Reaver immediately provides the recruiting player dice to add to their player board (which is depicted as a Viking Longship). Additionally, each Reaver can be used in one of three ways – Rally, which adds more dice to your player board; Lead, which activates abilities printed on the player board that aligns with the card’s faction symbols; and Specialize, which triggers special actions on the player board anytime a corresponding action is played by any player. Every decision has an effect on other players. The rest of the game features all the things that Vikings do: conduct raids, pillage farms, conquer territories, battle sea serpents, and fulfill prophecies – all to bring glory to the clan. The player with the most glory at the end of six rounds is the winner.

Reavers of Midgard plays 2-4 players in about 90 minutes.  For Kickstarter backers, most of the components will be upgraded to wooden tokens. The final design of the tokens for the retail version does not appear to have been completed as of this report.  The Kickstarter campaign runs through 20 November with an estimated delivery in June 2019.  Check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn more.

Wizkids announces K’uh Nah, a quick-playing, push your luck card game where players attempt to efficiently build a Mayan temple that will withstand the test of time. On a player’s turn, two cards are available for selection.  Each card represents a pyramid block and contains two colorful animal Mayan icons and a number. The number indicates the weight of a block.  Lighter blocks must be placed on top of heavier blocks unless the animal symbols on upper block is matched.  To avoid adding an unsuitable block to their pyramid, players may pass on the two choices available by placing one of their pieces of jade on the card. If they run out of jade, then they have to select a card and place it in their pyramid.  At the endo the game, a player’s score is the total value of all cards not supporting other cards minus the number of jade token. The player with the lowest score is the winner.

K’uh Nah plays 2-6 players, ages 14+, in about 20 minutes.  The game contains 50 cards, 48 tokens, and a rules sheet.  It is available for pre-order in mid-December and will be released in March 2019.

The Asmodee Group has entered into exclusive discussions to acquire ADC Blackfire Entertainment. Blackfire, founded in 1999, has been a longtime partner with Asmodee and has operations in the Czech Republic, Romania, and Germany.  The partnership will greatly improve the supply of games, from the Asmodee Group studios and from all Asmodee partners, and offer an even better service to vendors and customers all over Europe.

Stéphane Carville, CEO of Asmodee Group, had this to say of the acquisition:

“We are delighted to welcome Blackfire to the Asmodee Group. We have been working with them as partners for many years. We have always shared the same passion to provide our audiences with great games and entertainment experiences. Today the combination of Asmodee’s and Blackfire’s highly seasoned and professional teams will enable us to strengthen our operations and presence in Europe. Our key objective is to continuously offer the best products and services to our communities, consumers and retail partners.”

The CEOs of all three Blackfire operations had great things to say about the merger:

 “We have been successfully building Blackfire for almost 20 years and a good part of this path has been with Asmodee as a great partner. We are now happy to announce the next step in our relationship, a merger which I have no doubt saying will create an awesome synergy of experience, brands and products. Our ultimate goal and vision to deliver the best entertainment to kids, families and fans of games is going to be much easier to fulfill. We are looking forward to write the next great chapter of our story.” — Martin Polak, CEO of Blackfire Czech Republic.

 “Over the years both companies have become key players in their segments of the games industry – and now we are taking the next step forward to grow best in class, combining a comprehensive assortment of distributed titles and owned intellectual properties with state-of-the-art logistics and customer service. I am sure this will create game-changing synergies from which customers will benefit greatly.” — Alexander Dubynski, CEO of Blackfire Germany

 “I am thrilled that over just a couple of years Blackfire Romania, our youngest branch, has become one of the biggest distributors of toys and games in Romania and the preferred partner for major manufacturers and licensors. This merger will yield great synergies and benefits in the years ahead .“ — Loredana Orzață (Dobraniș), CEO of Blackfire Romania