Blue Orange Games

The all powerful hive mind that is American Mensa has once again assembled in their hollowed halls to rate the games of 2019. Every year, more than 300 members of Mensa spend a mad weekend of games and judgement to bestow upon a deserving few the title of Mensa Select Winner. So without further ado, the Mensa Select Winners for 2019 are:

Architects of the West Kingdom by designers Shem Phillips and S J Macdonald, Garphill Games and Renegade Game Studios is a wonderful twist on the oft used worker placement mechanism. In Architects, players can improve their actions by adding more and more workers to a single location on the board, but other players can capture a group of opposing workers, to later sell the gang for cash.

Gizmos by designer Phil Walker-Harding and CMoN Games is an elegant engine building game expanding on the Splendor model, centering on a delightful marble dispenser. Players take turns collecting colored marbles, all the while purchasing cards to improve their collection ability, marble color conversions, storage abilities and card building power.

Gunkimono by designer Jeffrey D. Allers and Renegade Game Studios is a re-imagining of Heartland (2009), transforming the original farming motif to one of war-torn feudal Japan. In this quasi-abstract tile laying game, players choose between expansion for points, and building up for future strongholds.

Planet by designer Urtis Šulinskas and Blue Orange Games is a tile laying, city building game on a grand scale. In a move that would have Euclid roll in his grave, players place magnetic terrain tiles on a 3 dimensional “planet”, creating vast areas of desert, ocean, forest, etc. in order to meet specific goals.

Victorian Masterminds by master designers Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang with CMoN Games is a breathtakingly beautiful steampunk worker placement masterpiece. Players each take on the role of super villains in the recent wake of Sherlock Holmes’ disappearance, trying to take over the world with their unique doomsday plots.

In Planet, designed by Urtis Šulinskas, with art by Sabrina Miramon (known for Photosynthesis), 2-4 players are super beings who compete to create perfect worlds in the palms of their hands. The game plays in 30-45 mins, and is suited for players aged 8+.

Player boards are 12-sided, 3-dimensional planet cores which, over 12 turns, have landscape tiles representing oceans, deserts, mountains, or frozen lands, arranged to create the best ecosystems. As a “natural habitat” is created, players are awarded Animal Cards, which allows them to win if they have the most populated planet in the universe.

Tom, at the Dice Tower, recently reviewed the game. Planet is expected to release from Blue Orange Games on Earth Day, which is April 22nd, 2019.

Blue Orange Games has two new games that will be released at this year’s Gen Con.

First is Blue Lagoon designed by award winning game designer Reiner KniziaBlue Lagoon is a set collection games with an area control mechanic.  Players manage settlers to explore the islands, collect resources, and build villages.  Points are awarded collecting resources and colonizing the islands.

Blue Lagoon plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in 30-45 minutes.  Contents include game board, 24 wooden resources, 8 wooden statuettes, 20 wooden villages, 120 settler tokens, 1 linen bag, score pad, and rulebook.

Next, Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc have teamed up again to design Scarabya.  Scarabya is an area enclosure game with a tile placement mechanic.  Players are competing archeologist on their own dig site (player board) attempting to place tiles around the golden scarabs on their player board. Each gold scarab enclosed is worth the size of its enclosure, up to four points.  The challenge is that the tiles to create an enclosure come in different shapes, is drawn at random, and is played in order.  All the players draw and place their tiles concurrently and the game continues until the last tile is drawn and played or discarded. The player with the most points in golden scarabs at the end of the game is the winner.

Scarabya plays 1-4 players, ages 8+, in 15-20 minutes.  Contents include 4 sets of 12 tiles, 4 sets of 4 boards, 4 sets of 8 rocks, 4 frames, 72 scarab tokens, 12 mission cards, and rulebook.

Lean more about both these games at Blue Orange Games.

ASTRA or the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has announced their Best Toys For Kids Awards for 2018. They describe their awards as:

“…the Best Toys for Kids Award is intended to heighten consumer awareness of the value of creative, open-ended play and the role that independent, locally owned toy stores play in providing children quality playthings that promote happy, healthy, and productive childhoods.”

A great goal to be sure! Let’s see what retailers around America have picked as their favorites.

Best Game Night Award  is ITZI by the makers of TENZI. Answer the given questions as fast as you can, but you can only use the letters in front of you! Be the first to use all 5 of your cards first and you win! Fast, fun, competitive and definitely great for game night!

Game Play Under 7 Award is Gnomes at Night a cooperative board game by Peaceable Kingdom-A Mindware Brand. For ages 6 and up use your skill and quickness to recover the Queen’s treasures in the twisty castle. The Gnome pieces are magnetic adding an element of dexterity and sensory development for the littles in your group!

Best Game for 7+ is Forbidden Sky by Gamewright. I am personally, really excited for this one! Not even released for retail yet this is the third installment in the Forbidden Series of games that started on and island moved to a desert and now soar to new heights as you investigate a suspicious air base. This game actually includes an electric circuit players need to assemble correctly before the platform falls to the earth! Coming Soon to your favorite game retailer!

Best Game Strategy is Photosynthesis by Blue Orange Games. Learn how trees grow as you play through the process of Photosynthesis. Plant your trees in optimal soil and expose them to the most sunlight so they grow the biggest and most healthy. Avoid the shade because no sun equals no growth for your little tree. This game is also environmentally friendly being made from 100% recycled cardboard.

 

Kingdomino: Age of Giants! is the first expansion for both Kingdomino and Queendomino, but it is actually several expansions in one.

First, there are the Giants! Certain dominoes cause a giant to appear on your kingdom.  Those giants stand on crowns in your kingdom and prevent you from scoring them at the end of the game.  Other dominoes allow you to get rid of the giant in your kingdom and send it over to an opponent’s kingdom.

Second, there are Quest that can be played with The Middle Kingdom rule.  Quests allow your middle kingdom to score additional points if the surrounding squares or the four corners of your middle kingdom fulfills the quest conditions. This expansion is played separate from the Giants.

Lastly, Kingdomino: Age of Giants! adds a fifth player.

A nice addition with the expansion is the distribution tower to hold all the dominoes.

Contents of the expansion include 3D castle, 1 distribution tower, 2 brown wooden kings, 1 starting tile, 29 dominoes (12 Giant dominoes, 17 Quest tiles), 6 “Giant” meeples, and a score pad.

Learn more about Kingdomino: Age of Giants!  from Blue Orange GamesKingdomino: Age of Giants! is available for pre-orders now and will be in stores in August 2018.

Each year the Mensa foundation, a group which fosters intelligence for the benefit of humanity, selects a handful of tabletop games that prove to be unique, challenging, and well-designed. This decision is made after the Mind Games event, a grueling 40-plus-hour board gaming marathon with more than 300 participants. The winners receive the Mensa Select award and are prominently featured on their website as games which promote the growth of critical thinking and are of particularly high quality. This year’s winners have been announced:

Congratulations to all the winners! I can attest that these games are deserving of the award, having played all of them. Renegade Games continues to demonstrate that they are a prominent publisher with an excellent catalog under their belt, Azul commands respect as a rock-solid masterpiece, Photosynthesis shows that it is as beautiful to look at as it is designed, and Constellations teaches us that a game can be as thoughtful about education as it is about being fun. If you’re interested in continued reading about the decision-making process or American Mensa themselves, or to check out past winners, check out their website for more information.

Blue Orange Games, well-known for publishing games for all ages, has announced its slate of 2018 releases. In all, sixteen games are coming out throughout the year.

“It’s a new year, and you know what that means- new games! This year we are excited to be publishing a diverse lineup that includes high-energy dexterity races, adorable cooperative games (a Blue Orange first!), playfully packaged smaller games, and unique brain teasers.”

Both Mindo and Mindo Zen are solo brain teasers that come in compact boxes so you can take them with you on the go. You flip double-sided tiles trying to recreate the pattern that’s on the challenge tile. Since the tiles will only fit one way, you will have to puzzle it out.

In the Family Game area, there’s Shaky Manor. This is a game where players are entering a spooky manor in search of a treasure that legend says exists hidden in it somewhere. Players will move their character and treasures into certain rooms that are on the challenge card by shifting and tilting the box around.  When you succeed, more creatures will be added to make it even tougher to get your  next treasure (and yourself) to safety.

In the Preschool Game category, there’s Happy Bunny, a cooperative game where players are trying to pick the best carrots out of the box for the bunny. Bitten carrots go to the bunny while the others will go to the farmer. This game will teach teamwork, motor skills, and simple counting.

Finally, in the Fun-Sized Games category, which consists of easily portable games, there’s Clouds. Clouds is a matching game where players turn over a card and then quickly try to find the matching halves that complete the picture. It can be played as a race with your friends or as a solo challenge. It even comes in a cloud-shaped pouch!

Details on these and all of the other upcoming releases can be found on the Blue Orange web site.

 

In 2017 Kingdomino won the coveted 2017 Spiel des Jahres award. Designer Bruno Cathala and artist Cyril Bouquet have returned to the -domino world with Queendomino. Blue Orange Games is scheduled to release Queendomino in October at Spiel Essen 2017.

In the award winning Kingdomino players took on the role of  a Lord seeking new lands in which to expand their kingdoms. Players took dominoes with a combination of the games’ 4 terrain types and built out their kingdom, ensuring that at least one of its sides connected to a matching terrain type already in play. When taking the tile they will place, players also choose what tile they will place in the next round. More valuable tiles will provide a later spot in turn order in the next round.

The game ends when players have (ideally) completed a 5×5 grid. Some tiles contain crown symbols on them. At the end of the game players multiple each of their connected terrain types by the number of crowns in that connected terrain area.

Queendomino builds on these simple mechanics. Tiny knights earn your coins. Use the coins to buy pieces from the marketplace which you can place on the new red terrain to improve your kingdom… unless another player has already played the dragon and destroyed that piece from the market! Place tower pieces in your kingdom in an effort to earn the Queen’s favor.

While Queendomino is a stand alone sequel to Kingdomino, the two games can be combined to allow 4 players to play towards a 7×7 grid or for 6 players to play towards a 5×5 grid.

Blue Orange Games is no newcomer to high-quality games. With hits such as New York 1901 and this year’s Spiel des Jahres winner, Kingdomino, Blue Orange has been diving deeper into the arena of family board games. Well, this year they hit a new plateau with Photoshynthesis. Photosynthesis is a strategy game in where you plant trees and harvest them at the right time to earn points. The sun will traverse the board providing sun points to those trees that have line of site to it (without being in the shadow of another tree).

The game has outstanding components with high-durable trees and beautiful artwork.

The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadows of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don’t forget that the sun revolves around the forest. Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis, the green strategy board game!

Come see this beauty over at booth 1811 at GenCon!

Blue Orange Games has two great new games coming in August 2017.

Following in the spirit of their Spiel winning Kingdomino, Fantastic Park by designer Brett J. Gilbert (Elysium) has 2-5 players using domino style tiles with one animal on each side to build a park. Whatever animals are left on your last remaining tile in hand are the animal types that score. Animals score according to the largest connected group of that type. If a player has a domino with matching ends in hand at game end, that animal type scores twice.

Photosynthesis has been getting a lot of buzz lately, and rightly so. Almost an abstract game, Photosynthesis has 2-4 players growing trees on a large hex grid board. Each turn, the sun moves around the periphery of the board, and trees will gather sun energy from that direction. Remember that larger trees will shade smaller trees, preventing the collection of energy. After collecting energy, players spend the sun to grow trees, plant new seeds, or complete the life cycle by removing large trees for points. The game lasts for 3 or 4 full revolutions of the sun around the board. Photosynthesis is a strategic balance of resource collection and spending, with gorgeous components and art by Sabrina Miramon (Quadropolis).