tasty minstrel golden geeks

In Tasty Minstrel Games’ latest newsletter, founder Michael Mindes discusses three areas that are hot topics for TMG at present.  But before that, TMG encourages everyone to try AquaSphere, the latest game from Stefan Feld, and Village Port, expansion to Village, by Markus & Inka Brand.  Both of these games have limited availability.

Golden Geek Awards

TMG has 6 different titles that have been nominated for various categories of the Golden Geek Awards on  These titles are:

  • AquaSphere – Game of The Year  /  Strategy
  • Orleans – Game of The Year  /  Strategy  /  Innovative
  • Scoville – Artwork & Presentation
  • Eminent Domain: Escalation – Expansion
  • Burgoo – Abstract
  • This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us – Abstract


In the past year, TMG has been able to expand services to their customers through expanding their staff, resulting in 4 full-time staff and several key contract-based workers.  Mindes states that he is in the midst of testing many things within the company structure, and states the following things explicitly:

  • Everything we decide to do is for the benefit of our Customers. This is our guiding principle.

  • We strive to more directly interact with our Customers while being able to continually create fantastic games that they want.

  • We have a gigantic pipeline of games that is around 40 titles right now, and want to bring these to life quickly, steadily, and carefully.

  • We want to have deep and valuable relationships with our closest stakeholders, this includes game designers, artists, key retailers, reviewers, email subscribers, and so forth.


TMG lists its top 3 successful sellers:

  • Dungeon Roll – 40,000+
  • Village – About 16,000
  • Eminent Domain – About 15,000

For more information on Tasty Minstrel Games and this latest company news announcement, visit the newsletter here.


BoardGameGeek (BGG) has opened up nominations for the 2014 Golden Geek Awards, honoring the best in board games, roleplaying games, and video games. There are several awards within each of these categories, and like years past, it’s up to the BGG community to nominate their favorites.

Post your nominees for the best new games from 2014, and if you’re so inclined, there’s a category for Best Podcast and a whole list of Dice Tower Network shows to choose from. Nominations will be open until midnight on February 8, followed by voting through February 22.

For a complete rundown of the process and to make sure you voice is heard, check out the full announcement for more details.

El Grande Big Box

Ever since Dutch publisher 999 Games announced the El Grande Big Box in Europe, there has been much speculation as to whether this long-awaited reprint would get U.S. distribution. W. Eric Martin, over on BoardGameGeek, provided the answer to that question today.

Z-Man Games has confirmed to me that it will release El Grande Big Box in English in 2015.”

This confirmation that Z-Man Games will be handing American distribution is wonderful news for many board game fans who view El Grande as the founders of the area control mechanic that’s so prevalent today. The big box edition, which coincides with the games 20th anniversary, purports to contain all official expansion materials including:

  • Grand Inquisitor & Colonies
  • Grandissimo
  • King & Intrigue
  • King & Intrigue: Player’s Edition
  • King & Intrigue: Special Cards

El Grande layout

There is also a possible “anniversary extension” (“Jubileumuitbreiding”) that could find its way into the El Grande Big Box. Stay tuned for more details, especially when the Nuremberg International Toy Fair kicks off on January 28.

Thanks to W. Eric Martin and BoardGameGeek for breaking the story. Make sure to check out Dice Tower’s review for more on El Grande.

inquisitive meeple

The Inquisitive Meeple is a unique board game blog that began on BoardGameGeek, but has recently branched out to its own domain. What sets this site apart from the myriad of other gaming blogs is its focus on the design side of the gaming industry.

“The Inquisitive Meeple is a blog that is dedicated to interviewing board game designers.”

In 2014, they interviewed the designers of 88 different board games. So far their planned 2015 interview queue is just as ambitious. Luckily their new site offers several options for subscribing to new content so you never miss an interview.

Check out The Inquisitive Meeple’s new home and stay tuned for the next designer interview.

create board game

BoardGameGeek, a.k.a BGG, is the primary hub for board game information (second only to The Dice Tower of course), featuring a database with thousands upon thousands of games, publishers, designers, and more. As users, it’s easy to take for granted the process by which new items are added to BGG, but it’s more complex than you might think.

The folks over at This is the Front Games posted a comprehensive guide revealing the numerous steps they took to get their game Fiction or Diction added. It’s a fascinating read full of must-know information for any publisher or designer.

“The process is straightforward but, for a few reasons, surprisingly complicated. When I put Fiction or Diction up on Boardgamegeek it took almost a week to get everything done from start to finish. So these are the steps to putting your game up that I wish I had known.”

The guide has everything from creating designer and publisher pages to adding individual games and everything in between. Check out the blog post for all the details.

Image from Connected Digitalworld

Image from Connected Digitalworld

Oliver Roeder over at the political and social trend site, FiveThirtyEight, set out to discover why heavy political game Twilight Struggle, among all the classic standbys like Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan, maintains the top spot on BoardGameGeek.

“We may now find ourselves in the middle of a golden age of serious board gaming. The number of titles, and their average ratings by players, increase each year. Impressively, amid this renaissance, Twilight Struggle maintains its No. 1 spot despite having been published in 2005.

twilight strugle map

His exploration reveals an interesting series of changes in the industry, notably the increasing dominance of strategic games, and the decreased influence of simpler luck-oriented games.

“Games in this broad category are typically characterized by deep strategy, an emphasis on skill and the lack of player elimination. In other words, they’re not Monopoly.”

Roeder’s research brought him to Twilight Struggle’s co-designer, Ananda Gupta, currently working for video game studio Firaxis Games. Their discussion ranges from Twilight Struggle’s early days as a Spanish Civil War game concept to Gupta’s frustration with historical war gaming’s unnecessary rules complexity.

“Simplification, to Gupta and [Twilight Struggle co-designer Jason] Matthews, was the name of their design philosophy. Rather than overwhelm players with a fat rulebook at the start, the designers spread the information required throughout the gameplay, on cards.”

Gupta’s theory on Twilight Struggle’s enduring popularity is similarly simple. He points out the advantage a two-player game has in both length and player downtime, as well as the balance of skill and luck inherent in Twilight Struggle’s design. Gupta plans to bring to his next project, Imperial Struggle, and provides a bright outlook for historical games to come.

“Ninety-five percent of human conflicts are not covered by games. We’re seeing more games that are less focused on America. We’re seeing more games focused on struggles that are not of interest primarily for their aesthetics.”

Make sure to check out the full article for more of Ananda Gupta’s insights and to see Oliver Roeder’s industry data analysis.

summoner wars digital show down

If you’re a Summoner Wars fan, you’ve no doubt found the digital app from Playdek.  Well now you can watch the best Summoners from around the internet duke it out live.  Plaid Hat Games, creators of Summoner Wars, have teamed up with BoardGameGeek and Playdek to bring you the Summoner Wars Digital Showdown, streaming live on Twitch TV.  The schedule appears below.

– Top 8 Day 1 (A & B): Dec 11th, 2014 – 9pm to 11pm EST
– Top 8 Day 2 (C & D): Dec 12th, 2014 – 9pm to 11pm EST
– Semi Finals: Dec 13th, 2014 – 12pm to 2pm EST
– Finals: Dec 13th, 2014 – 2pm to 3pm EST

The first two games of the top 8 were yesterday, but today you can watch the final two top 8 games and you can catch the semi-finals and finals over the rest of the weekend.  You can find the Twitch stream here and the BGG page here.  The announcement from Plaid Hat is here.

bgg logo

As the 2014 BGG Con wraps up in Dallas-Fort Worth Texas, the organizers have announced that next year there will be a 2nd BGG Con held over Memorial Day weekend – May 22-25, 2015.  This new event is being promoted as a family friendly version of BGG Con and will provide discounts for active-duty military and veterans.

While registration is not yet open, there is basic information available as well as link to reserve hotel rooms in the announcement on the BoardgameGeek website.

BGG Con was first held in 2005, attended by 250 people gathering to play games.  Over the last 9 years it has grown to over 2500 people and includes gaming, a Puzzle Hunt, a Game Show, Vendors, a Poker tournament, and more.

The new convention will actually be the 3rd major event held in 2014 for BoardgameGeek; they previously announced a cruise to celebrate 10 years of BGG Con.

i hate zombies

Advertising Manager of,  Chaddyboy, announced that BoardGameGeek will be publishing a series of micro games.  The first to be released will be I Hate Zombies., designed by Kevin Wilson (Descent: Journeys in the Dark, A Game of Thrones, Arkham Horror).

I Hate Zombies. is expected to be on Kickstarter later this year and available in stores in the second quarter of 2015.  The game features a rock-paper-scissors mechanic that is influenced by different special abilities that players can use depending on which of the twelve included characters they choose to play as.

In I Hate Zombies., 4-12 players face off in a climactic battle for the very fate of the world that will last between 10 and 20 minutes. Some of the players will be the noble last survivors of humanity, while others will be dirty, wretched brain-guzzling zombies. To see who survives, they will engage in that time-honored tradition, that Sport of Kings…

Yes, that’s right. Rock-Paper-Scissors. To the Death!

Although the valiant humans each have a special ability to aid them in their struggle to survive, the zombies are tougher to kill, and humans they kill turn into more zombies, and certainly let us not forget the spleen-churning stench.

While the game could be succinctly described as Rock-Paper-Scissors with special abilities, the abilities add some interesting decision making for the zombie players as to which humans to focus their brain munching beam on, and when. So, while the game uses the RPS mechanism, there are real and interesting decisions to be made which will have the zombies debating their strategy (or at least as well as their limited mental capacity allows).

Robb Mommaerts (Food Fight, Word Whimsy) will illustrate characters and cover graphic for the project.  Early images have been posted to the game’s section on