2017

Each year the Dice Tower and it’s contributors vote for the games worthy of an award among a variety of categories, not the least of which is the best game of the previous year. 2017 was an awesome year for gaming with lots of surprising games from new designers and independent publishers, so the awards this year have many deserving nominees yet only so many could be elected for each category. The nominees have been chosen, and the winners will be announced July 5th during Dice Tower Con. Congratulations to all the nominees, and good luck!! May the best games win! Without further ado, the nominees are:

Most Innovative:
Gloomhaven
Charterstone
The 7th Continent
Fog of Love
DropMix

Best Strategy Game:
Anachrony
Spirit Island
Near and Far
Gloomhaven
Dinosaur Island

Best Reprint:
Nemo’s War (second edition)
Colosseum
Stop Thief!
Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)
Downforce

Best Party Game:
Magic Maze
Word Slam
Werewords
Meeple Circus
Rhino Hero: Super Battle

Best Game from a Small Publisher:
Century: Spice Road
Sagrada
The 7th Continent
Gloomhaven
Azul

Best Game from a New Designer:
Gloomhaven
Photosynthesis
Spirit Island
Dragon Castle
Too Many Bones

Best Family Game:
Azul
Bärenpark
Century: Spice Road
Downforce
Sagrada

Best Expansion:
Scythe: The Wind Gambit
Terraforming Mars: Venus Next
Star Wars: Rebellion – Rise of the Empire
Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star
Champions of Midgard: Valhalla

Best Cooperative Game:
Gloomhaven
Flip Ships
Spirit Island
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
The 7th Continent

Best Board Game Production:
Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)
Photosynthesis
Azul
Wasteland Express Delivery Service
Charterstone

Best Game Artwork:
Near and Far
Lisboa
Charterstone
Century: Golem Edition
Yamataï

Although Steve Jackson Games does not have any shareholders (other than Steve Jackson himself), it does have a lot of people that take part in its success.  The company refers to these folks as stakeholders and their annual report is directed towards them (employees, distributors, retailers, designers, artists, volunteers, and people who play their games).  The annual Stakeholders Report gives a transparent look at some of the inner workings of Steve Jackson Games.

Munchkin and Zombie Dice, the evergreen games of the Steve Jackson Games (SJG) lineup, dropped to $5.5 million (down $500,000) from last year. Even with the drop in sales of these titles, SJG anticipates a break even or slightly profitable year. Due to the decline in sales, SJG plans to try and keep the top ten Munchkin games and expansions available at all times, but everything else will see out-of-stock times with the possibility of going away for the immediate future.

SJG is making slow progress with their employee manual and acknowledges the need to finish this to have more established processes in-house.  Additionally, the company is having a hard time meeting deadlines without involvement from upper management.

Those were the low points of 2017, but there were some high points, too.  The Fantasy Trip, a roleplaying game, is being worked on for Kickstarter.  This is Jackson’s first RPG from 1977, published by Metagaming.  When Metagaming went out of business, the rights to the game were in limbo, but SJG has since secured the rights.

Munchkin still receives a lot of attention from SJG and Munchkin Shakesphere, Munchkin Spell Skool, and the Munchkin Gift Pack all did well in 2017.  The Munchkin Collectible Card Game is set to go on sale on February 21, 2018, as well and is receiving a lot of attention due to the collaboration from Eric Lang and Kevin Wilson.

Steve Jackson Games also partnered with CMON and Asmodee Digital.  Their partnership with CMON allows CMON to create Munchkin-themed board games.  Their partnership with Asmodee Digital is aimed at bringing a Munchkin video game to fans.

In addition to all of these exciting things, the Ogre Video Game launched in October, Munchkin Valentines sold well, the forums remain active, and GURPS added on-demand printing to Amazon.

SJG saw mixed success/failure with the Ogre Miniatures Set 1 (behind on delivery), Ogre Reinforcements (slow sales), and Ghosts Love Candy (reprint was stopped).  SJG changed their staffing structure to try to focus the creative team on making games, but it didn’t work out as planned and the company is exploring new ideas.

Steve Jackson Games saw failure with the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (took a lot of time from upper management and is costly, but selling well), Port Royal (cheaper European copies are outselling SJG copies), and sjgames.com (it’s an old site that requires a lot of attention).

SJG’s priorities for 2018 are to support the Munchkin CCG, complete all outstanding Kickstarter commitments, maintain support of the original Munchkin games with a new tuck box expansion set and two or three new base games, and launch a successful new edition of Car Wars on Kickstarter with a 2019 or 2020 delivery date.

There’s more covered in the Stakeholder’s report, but this gives a glimpse at 2017 for Steve Jackson Games.

Casual Game Revolution is an organization all about bringing hobby gaming to the masses, and so has a focus on casual games which can be taught and played quickly.  Every year they give an award to what they consider to be the best casual game of the year.  This year had some good choices with the nominees being Sagrada, Go Nuts for Donuts, and Azul.  While the voting among the judges came out with Sagrada by 1 vote, the popular vote was no contest and so they crowned Sagrada as the casual game of the year.  You can see the full vote breakdown and announcement on their site, and then start hunting for this excellent dice game.

CMON has had a pretty good 2017, from new hires, to new Kickstarters, to released games getting a lot of attention, CMON has no shortage of reasons to be happy.  So for their feature Friday post they looked back on the various things that made 2017 an amazing year for them.

First on that list is Kickstarters, with four different games having been run through the crowdfunding platform.  Games like The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch, Rising Sun, Zombicide Green Horde, and the Song of Fire and Ice Miniatures Game.  Each game setting records and raising millions of dollars for CMON, so you can see why they are returning to the platform again in the new year with their Kickstarter exclusive game, HATE.

They have also had several changes in staff at CMON, with the biggest addition being the hiring of Eric M. Lang to be their Head of Board Game Design.  They have also hired Adrian Smith as their Lead Artist, Edouard Guiton as Senior Artist, and Jules Vautour was named as the Chief Operating Officer.  Of course there are more staff changes and many that weren’t big announcements, but the company is growing and changing, turning it into a powerhouse of board gaming.

And last they look back briefly on the many events that they attended and put on from CMON Expo, to BGG Con, PAX Unplugged, and even San Diego ComiCon.  Always making sure they are there with the best demos and showing off what they have and have coming.

To read the full article you can head on over to the CMON website, and then start reminiscing yourself about board gaming in 2017.

Picture from popularmechanics.com

It’s coming to the end of the year, and what does that mean, lots of people putting out their Top X for 2017 lists.  The Dice Tower does this themselves as they have already released their Top 10 Games of 2017 and Top 10 Pop Culture of 2017 on Youtube.  But not to be left out, Popular Mechanics has now released their list for the Top 50 Games of 2017.  What is interesting about their list is that they are a lot of great games on here from across the spectrum, from party games, to micro games, to heavy strategy games, and even Kickstarter games.  Although like any list, some maybe are not as great but get by on notoriety, but strangely also some games not from 2017 make the list.  Some of those games on the list include Star Realms, Quantum, and Codenames, which are great games, but odd choices for being included on a 2017 list.  Either way, check out their list to see the top 50 “new” board games for this year of 2017.

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

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.

Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new age: a new age of Twilight.  Twilight Imperium, that is, in the form of a fourth edition of the epic 4x space strategy game that has been loved and celebrated in the gaming industry for many years.  This new edition celebrates 20 years of this epic space opera board game of expansion, diplomacy, and war to control the galaxy, best explained in this excerpt from the official release:

For twenty years, the custom space operas created by Twilight Imperium have thrilled gamers like nothing else. Now, Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition builds on the grand space opera found in previous editions while streamlining rules and putting player interaction center stage…Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition aims to be the most complete version of the game ever printed. Seventeen playable races are included in the game, offering a wide variety of starting faction options. Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition brings a galactic space opera to your table, and no two games will ever be the same.

This new version of the game will include 350 plastic units, 51 system tiles, 561 command and control tokens, 80 action cards, 50 agenda cards, 40 objective cards, 59 planet cards, 184 technology and technology upgrade cards, 41 promissory note cards, and much more.

TI veterans will likely be asking (as I did!) what the main differences are between TI3 and TI4.  Some of the main changes include a stunning new graphic design and layout, but with the same great and familiar artwork flavor.  Additionally, changes will be seen in game mechanisms such as Trade, Technology, PDS Units, Space Docks, Politics, and the Imperial Strategy Card, to name a few.  FFG has anticipated the question of specific changes to the game in their product description, which can be read here.

The game is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2017.  To read the entire article that announces the new version of the game, click here.

 

Last year we reported on a unique event that happened in Nigeria, a board game convention, the first of it’s kind in the country of Nigeria, maybe even the whole of Africa.  While board gaming is well known here in the states and in Europe, in places like Nigeria they are playing with less than a dozen games and think that is the whole of the board gaming hobby.  So Kenechukwu Ogbuagu, creative director of Nibcard Games, put on a board gaming convention called ABcon.  It’s goal was to show everyone the wide world of games and to promote game design to people in his home country and continent.  The convention was a great success as they are now seeking funding on IndieGoGo to be able to put on the convention for a second year.  In the description of the campaign he talks about how he is setting up funding locally to be able to continue the convention well into the future, but this year remains a test year for that funding.

So I highly suggest you check out his IndieGoGo campaign and contribute, you can even get tables, game booths, or even game competitions named after you depending on how much you contribute.

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.