apples to apples

On June 15, 2019, at the annual Origins Game Fair, the winners of the 45th Annual Origins Awards were announced. The awards are chosen not only by the Academy Jury, but by the fans.

The Best Board Game Award and Game of the Year as voted on by both the Jury and the fans is Root, published by Leder Games and designed by Cole Wehrle, with artwork provided by Kyle Ferrin.

In addition to announcing the award winners, the annual inductees into the Hall of Fame were announced: fantasy horror artist Gerard Brom and game designer Vlaada Chvatil were inducted, as were the games Mage Knight: The Board Game and Apples to Apples. There was a new award handed out this year for the first time, the Rising Star Award, and it went to Jamey Stegmeier of Stonemeier Games.

For further information on the rest of the award winners, be sure and check here.

The Houghton Library at Harvard houses some interesting books, but did you know it also has a collection of some historical board games from over 100 years ago?  Some of the highlights include The Magic Ring, a spin and move game from 1796 where you are trying to reach the center of the ring first.  Or maybe you would enjoy The New Game of Emulation for the Instruction and Amusement of Youth from 1804, another spin and move style game that taught players various virtues, which could have been a prequel to The Mansion of Happiness, a similar game in both theme and play that Chaz talked about on Board Game Breakfast.  They even have copies of early paper games, one of which is a German language game which plays strikingly similar to the modern games Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.

Any way you slice it the collection is very interesting and showcases the history of board gaming over the centuries.  And as an added bonus, the library has even done high resolution scans of some of the boards so you can print out and play your very own copy of the game (yay?).  You can read more and see some of the highlights on the Harvard Gazette website.

dixit revelatios

Dixit: Revelations, the 7th and newest expansion to the enormously popular Dixit boardgame, has recently been announced by publisher Asmodee.

Dixit: Revelations brings all new cards to the game with all new cart art by French illustrator Marina Coudray.  Coudray’s art is full of hidden meaning with mysterious images pulling inspiration from classic art to world mythology to current online trends.  Whether you like a bit of whimsy to your art or prefer a more stoic layered look, there’s something in this set for everyone.

For those unfamiliar with the Dixit series of games, Dixit is a light storytelling game for 3-6 players.  Each player has a had of cards featuring beautiful art.  After the active player chooses a card from their hand, they come up with a word or phrase or song title, etc. that they think in some way describes the card.  Each other player then chooses a card from their own hand to go with the given phrase.  Once all cards have been chosen and revealed, all players except the active player vote on which card they think is the active players.  Points are distributed in an apples to apples fashion.

With many ways to interpret every card, the Dixit: Revelations set is sure to add to the enjoyment of the game.  If you talk to any fan of Dixit, you’ll quickly realize that the more cards you have and the more varied the artwork, the more fun can be had by all.  Dixit: Revelations is due out in the fourth quarter of 2016, and I for one cannot wait!

To learn more about Dixit and it’s current expansions, click <here>.

dark and stormy cards

Coming soon from Asmodee is an expansion to their StoryLine line of games: Scary Tales. Scary Tales, designed by Steve Kimball, expands the world of StoryLine by including new horror-themed story cards such as Haunted or Hideous alongside fresh narrator cards like “It was a dark and _________ night.”

StoryLine is a family-friendly game that has an Apples-to-Apples feel that is more story-driven. Played over fifteen rounds, players take turns being the narrator and flipping narrator cards that contain prompts for other players to fill in. These prompts will include suggestions for characters, features, actions, locations, and more. The suggestion preferred by the narrator will earn a token as a reward, which bears points to be revealed at the end of game.

This new stand-alone expansion includes:

  • 30 narrator cards
  • 100 illustrated story cards
  • 21 tokens

For additional information, visit Asmodee’s website.

The board game industry goes through cycles just like any other entertainment industry. With the recent influx of new gamers thanks to the hobby gaining mainstream appeal, new tastemakers are leading the industry in interesting directions. While not all of those directions are particularly healthy, the recent resurgence of party games is most certainly a tick in the win column.

Why are we seeing a party game boom? I think there are a few different reasons. The first, and probably biggest contributor to this shift, is an increasing crop of casual gamers. That mainstream acceptance I mentioned earlier brings with it new faces who’s entry point might have been simple social and party style games. It also seems to me that we’re coming out of a period of rapid heavy game adoption. Where there are peaks, there must come valleys, and even the most hardened gamer needs a bit of a laugh every once in a while.

None of that would matter if the games on the market were junk. I give a lot of credit to companies like Blue Orange Games and R&R Games for publishing some really great quality party games. The market created demanded, and these casual game stalwarts answered it. Did the people bring the games or the games bring the people? Whatever it is that has given rise to this party game-friendly confluence, it’s a really encouraging change of pace.  Let’s take a look at some of the recent highlights.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

But Wait, There’s More! from Toy Vault, Inc.

But Wait, There’s More! builds on the grand tradition of Snake Oil by asking players to sell increasingly ridiculous products to the other players. It starts innocuous enough with just a thing and a feature, but when additional features are added into the mix pushing players to really stretch their sales pitches, the game gets really fun. It’s easy to talk about a vacuum cleaner that can be used in 18 different ways, but now it cures acne as well?! There are already several minis expansions that add more cards, support for additional players, and even new games modes.

Cards Against Humanity

Love it or hate it, Cards Against Humanity is a perennial favorite among adult party gamers. The game revels in unabashedly off-color humor reaching into the deepest depths of offensiveness, so if your crowd is into that kind of comedy and isn’t easily offended, this Apples to Apples clone might be for you. In Cards Against Humanity, one player is a judge that draws a black card and reads it to the other players, normally with one or two blanks. The players have a hand of white cards with a myriad of soul-scarring phrases that they select from. The judge then shuffles and reads the responses, declaring one the winner and scoring that player a point. The judge’s role then shifts to the next player and on it goes often with alcoholic beverages in tow.

Concept from Asmodee

Concept is a clever deduction game in which one player draws a card with a series of words or phrases ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. That player then selects a word and uses the central board and a variety of tokens to illustrate their word or phrase nonverbally. The board contains a myriad of images and icons representing both concrete and nebulous concepts. By assigned the marker for the primary and secondary concepts, and using cubes to mark additional clues, players can deduce the word or phrase and score points. It’s a great set up for what boils down to board game charades. Will your teammates guess the word before time runs out or your sense of shame gets the better of you?

Monikers

The game at the heart of Monikers is actually pretty old. It’s been published as Celebrities and Time’s Up! most recently, but goes by a variety of names and forms. None of those versions are as attractive and broad as Monikers. Regardless of the edition, two teams of players draw from a pool of cards that all feature people or personas.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

These can range from historical figures to fictional characters to celebrities and more. In the first round, players attempt to describe as many of their cards as possible, in the allotted time, without using the cards’ name. Sounds easy enough. In the second round, that same deck of cards is used again but this time they must be described using just one word. Round three ramps things up even more by requiring that no words are used at all, only gestures. I won’t spoil what happens in rounds four and five, but suffice to say, it’s about as funny as party games get.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf from Bezier Games

The classic social deduction game, usually referred to as Werewolf or Mafia, has been streamlined into a shorter experience representing just one night of werewolves hiding among the innocent townfolk. Aided by a tremendous vocal track by the Dice Tower’s own Eric Summerer, players are assigned roles in secret and attempt to use their guile to uncover the werewolves or to throw suspicion on the humans, whatever the case may be. Add to that a whole pile of different roles with unique motivations, ensuring endless replay value.

Spit It Out! from R&R Games

Probably the newest game on the list, Spit It Out! is a deceptively simple game. The box comes with a whole bunch of cards and two regular dice, and all you have to do to win is answer some very basic questions correctly. Huh? Well there’s a twist. Those two dice are rolled to determine which two of the six questions must be answered incorrectly. Those answer not only need to be wrong, but they have to be in the same ballpark as the correct answer. What color is the sky? You can’t say that sky is “firetruck”, you have to answer with another color. It sounds easy, but with a timer ticking down and the conscious effort it takes to trick our own brains away from the correct answers, it’s great fun.

Spyfall from Cryptozoik Entertainment

Spyfall is a social deduction in which players are given secret roles and a secret location. One of those roles is the spy and unlike their fellow payers, the spy doesn’t know the location. Obviously not a very crafty spy. In any case, players take turns asking each other questions.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

The non-spies are trying to determine which one is the spy, and the spy is trying to figure out the location. The fun comes from the ridiculous questions. Knowing there’s a spy, the players will be pretty dodgy not wanting to reveal too much information. All the while, the spy is all-but grasping at straws trying to piece together the subtle clues found in the other questions. Though it rarely happens, if the spy can outwit the other players, it’s a pretty amazing win.

This is just a small slice of the party game pie, and you really can’t go wrong with any of these selections as long as your group is a good fit. Throwing a party game night is a great way to introduce non-gamers to our hobby. It’s also a nice way to break up your regular game events with something a little unexpected. Next time you plan a game night, consider shelving the heavy euros just this once for a night of goofball fun.

Courtesy Jonathan Lundberg

Courtesy Jonathan Lundberg

Best Choice Reviews dipped their toe into the world of board games with their 50 Greatest Card Games and Board Game of All Time, citing the growing popularity of the gaming hobby.

“Board gaming has experienced increases overall for the past several years, leading to many manufacturers and commentators to talk about the Board Game Renaissance. This list features the best of the old and the new in board and card gaming. These games are popular, influential, and loads of fun.”

Although we here at Dice Tower News are objective reporters and are able to push aside cognitive dissonance like professionals, it is important to remember that “fun”, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

With that out of the way, let’s reveal the contents of your next board game order:

  • #50 – Operation
  • #49 – Gin Rummy
  • #48 – Mouse Trap
  • #47 – Mancala
  • #46 – Metro
  • #45 – Battleship
  • #44 – Parcheesi
  • #43 – Yahtzee!
  • #42 – Carcassonne
  • #41 – Uno
  • #40 – Sorry!
  • #39 – Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • #38 – Pictionary
  • #37 – Chinese Checkers
  • #36 – Whist
  • #35 – Cards Against Humanity
  • #34 – Pandemic
  • #33 – Blackjack (21)
  • #32 – Cribbage
  • #31 – Snakes and Ladders
  • #30 – Candyland
  • #29 – Spades
  • #28 – Pokemon
  • #27 – Dominoes
  • #26 – Dutch Blitz
  • #25 – The Game of Life
  • #24 – Hearts
  • #23 – Connect Four
  • #22 – Trivial Pursuit
  • #21 – Diplomacy
  • #20 – Munchkin
  • #19 – Taboo
  • #18 – Axis and Allies
  • #17 – Ticket to Ride
  • #16 – Canasta
  • #15 – Stratego
  • #14 – Mahjong
  • #13 – Clue (Cluedo)
  • #12 – Scrabble
  • #11 – Apples to Apples
  • #10 – Settlers of Cataan
  • #9 – Backgammon
  • #8 – Magic: The Gathering
  • #7 – Poker
  • #6 – Risk
  • #5 – Draughts (Checkers)
  • #4 – Bridge
  • #3 – Monopoly
  • #2 – Chess
  • #1 – Go

There you have it, the 50 Greatest Card Games and Board Games of All Time. For more on these games and their ranks on this hallowed list, check out the full article.

Matt Kirby talks about Apples to Apples and more

matt kirby

Matt Kirby, designer for Apples to Apples talks with Joyce Johnson about Apples to Apples and his newly released game: Picaroon.

Apples to Apples has sold well over 15 million copies and counting and is thought of as a must go to game for people just entering the world of table top games. In the interview Matt talks about how we came up with the idea for Apples to Apples and how in someways he is a prisoner of his own success. The success of the game, though, has made it possible for him to pursue things he loves to do and Matt feels more than blessed by Apples to Apples.

Picaroon
On his new game release, Picaroon, Matt had this to say:

Picaroon was a mindful creation. Picaroon is a light, abstract, strategy board game with dice. It’s a 6 x 6 grid of 36 cards on a game board where players (pirates) are collecting certain treasures based on rolling the dice.

To read his full interview and to learn what his favorite board games are, visit here.