board game news

According to Reuters, the board gaming super-giant, the 800 pound gorilla, Asmodee is investigating a sale to an unknown buyer. Asmodee, the France based company owned by private equity firm Eurazeo SE, is currently worth an estimated 1.5 Billion euros (almost 1.8 billion US dollars). Among other things, Asmodee owns the board game companies Fantasy Flight Games and  Days of Wonder, F2Z Entertainment properties Z-Man Games and Plaid Hat Games, and the French publishing rights to the Pokemon Trading Card Game and Wizkids!. This includes the rights to some of the most popular games on the market, such as  Catan, Ticket to Ride, and X-Wing. The identity of proposed buyer(s) has not been disclosed at this time, pending further deliberations. For more information, you can read the original Reuters article here.

Retailer Toys R Us has been battling problems for a while, and those now appear to be coming to a head. The game giant, once thought everlasting, has recently announced they will close all 800 of their US stores. The toy and game superstore declared bankruptcy six months ago, and despite efforts to reduce their sizable debt, Geoffrey the Giraffe’s home will soon be no more. Toys R Us currently owes $7.9 billion against their assets of $6.6 billion, mostly owed to Bank of New York, Mattel and Hasbro, although the list of creditors includes 100,000 entities. The Canadian arm of Toys R Us is in negotiations to be sold to a group of toymakers lead by Isaac Larian, chief executive of MGA Entertainment. You can read the full article from the Washington Post here.

Fans of the 2011 Calliope Games hit Roll for It! are in for a treat, because an app version of the addictive dice and card game has just been released. Roll for It! combined dice collection with playing cards, which dictate what dice are needed. Players take turns matching dice to target cards, or take a turn to reclaim dice, earning victory points dictated by the card. The app version is available for both iOS and Android systems.

In other digital news, the board game company IELLO has announced that they will be a sponsor of the eSports group Tuxedo eSports. Tuxedo is currently the only eSports organization to form out of the indie fighting game Rivals of Aether. You can read the full press release from IELLO here.

Eggertspiele has released a press release unveiling its new logo in the wake of being acquired by Plan B Games. Now inside Plan B Games Europe, Eggertspiele will be branding themselves as a publisher of “medium to heavy complexity European strategy games”. As part of their rebranding, Eggertspiele have updated their fox mascot Jeffrey into a more contemporary, cleaner design. Eggertspiele is the German publishing house behind such modern classics as Mombasa, Camel Up, Village and Great Western Trail.

For more details, you can read the press release on Eggertspiele’s facebook page here.

Pegasus Spiel has announced a partnership with Frosted Games, allowing Pegasus to distribute a selection of Frosted Games Titles, with more in negotiations. The first involved games will be Ausgespielt! Der Messe-Krimi, with its upcoming English language version Game Over!, 13 Tage (13 Days) and 13 Minuten (13 Minutes). Ausgespielt! Der Messe-Krimi is a unique murder mystery game for 7-8 players, taking place at the SPIEL Convention in Essen, Germany. Players can either be security guards, fair organizers or game designers, with one player taking the secret role of culprit. 13 Days: The Cuban Missle Crisis (2016) and 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missle Crisis (2017) are well regarded historic 2-player strategy games revolving around their namesake events.

Pegasus Spiel is one of Germany’s best known board game publishing houses, putting out hundreds of games including Great Western Trail, Mombasa, Camel Up and The Oracle of DelphiFrosted Games is best known for publishing the Brettspiel Adventskalenders and associated Easter Baskets full of board game promos, as well as the 2015 worker placement game Harbour. You can read the official press release on Pegasus Spiel’s website here.

Wizkids, publishers games such as the D&D board games series and Dice Masters, announced a partnership with Games Workshop today. Looks like it’s focussed on the 40k Warhammer license.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Games Workshop and the Warhammer 40,000 license,” said Justin Ziran, president of WizKids. “This beloved franchise is known the world over and our partnership will allow us to create amazing products and experiences for fans everywhere.”

The multi-year deal will span numerous categories and include the most iconic Warhammer 40,000 characters and more. WizKids will create two new board games, along with dice games based in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, with additional plans to republish classic board games Fury of Dracula and Relic.

To read the announcement in its entirety you can click here.

In America and Europe, board games are in a golden age right now and for the most part, enjoy wide spread availability and appeal, but now it’s spreading even farther.  In a recent article on ArabNews, the board gaming hobby is starting to take off in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf countries.  They talk to some purveyors of board game spaces in places like Dubai and Jeddah about why that might be.  In the article they talk about how board gaming has come a long way from the roll and move days of Monopoly, meaning games are far more interesting to play now and don’t require as much luck.  They also talk about how board gaming is a social activity that brings people together, as opposed to the other big hobby, video gaming.  And finally, with the focus on family in the Middle East, buying board games for family gatherings is becoming increasingly common as they are fun activities to bond around.

The article is a good read and shows that board gaming continues to grow and expand, and that growth can only mean good things for board gaming in the future.

February is almost over and more information is slowly starting to materialize about some of the most anticipated releases of the coming year. The latest Portal Games newsletter contains some interesting tidbits about two big names in particular:

51st state master

First, the popular post-apocalyptic card game 51st State is being reborn in the form of a new 51st State: Master Set that combines cards from the original game with cards from both of the expansions, all recalibrated for optimum balance. The Master Set is already available for pre-order on Portal’s website, (here), and although it isn’t a crowdfunding campaign and the game will be published either way, it does offer a system of pre-order rewards and ‘stretch goals’, two of which have already been unlocked, ensuring each copy will come with a 51st State Transfer Book (summarizing all the changes between the original game and the master set) and an original story set in the world of Neuroshima. Portal have also promised that the new rulebook is almost finalized and will be made available soon.

From the return of an old classic to what could potentially turn out to be the hottest new release of the year, the Portal Newsletter also included a link to a recent interview with Ignacy Trzewiczek himself (originally published in Polish here.) about the upcoming title First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet. First Martians, of course, is based on the extremely popular co-op Robinson Crusoe and is the next big thing in the recent trend of App-driven board games. Ignacy cites his experience playing X-Com as a major inspiration and motivation to move ahead with First Martians, because it showed him how useful an app could be in eliminating the boring overhead of games – “managing tokens, moving pieces and all that fiddly work which pulls us away from the essence of the game, from the fun.”

The interview also covers a variety of other topics including the game’s current development progress – the game system is finished, but Portal is working hard to create lots of great encounters, events and campaigns; how First Martians will compare to its predecessor Robinson Crusoe – despite very significant differences, including a huge new mystery mechanic that will be further explained in the coming months, Ignacy expects that players familiar with Robinson Crusoe will be able to jump right into First Martians with minimal rules explanations; and also the current state and expected features of the game app – the app is already fully operational (a necessity, since the game cannot be played without it), and completely manages the adventures, events, et. al. which occur in the game, allowing players to choose between several different game modes and difficulty levels, but some features have not yet been coded, such as the ability to save your current game progress and come back later.

Be sure to read the full interview here.

rather kalmbach

After a string of high profile business mergers and acquisitions in 2015, the board gaming world is starting off the new year with another company changing hands. Rather Dashing Games, the Kentucky based publishers of recent titles such as Dwarven Miner and Pirates, Ninjas, Robots and Zombies, has officially been acquired by the Kalmbach Publishing Co. Interestingly, Kalmbach has not had any previous involvement in the board game industry but instead is known for publishing a number of hobby/special interest magazines and books as well as organizing niche events.

Under the terms of the acquisition, game designers and Rather Dashing co-founders Mike Richie and Grant Wilson will remain with the company to design and produce the games while Kalmbach provides business support and resources for growth.

Read through the full press release below:

For immediate release: Jan. 5, 2016

Kalmbach expands reach with acquisition of Rather Dashing Games

Waukesha, WI – Kalmbach Publishing Co. today announced it has acquired Rather Dashing Games, creators of engaging and entertaining board games for all ages. The purchase marks entry into the world of board-game publishing for Kalmbach.

“Rather Dashing Games provides Kalmbach with an exciting opportunity to serve the passionate audience that surrounds the rapidly growing board-game market,” Kalmbach President Chuck Croft said. “We have more than 80 years of history of delivering quality products to enthusiast audiences, and we see a lot of similarities between what we do and the tabletop-game business. We look forward to entering into a new, growth area in publishing.”

Kalmbach publishes magazine titles such as Discover, Model Railroader and Trains and books, offers subscription video services and hosts niche events.

Rather Dashing Games, based outside of Lexington, KY, is the brainchild of longtime friends Mike Richie and Grant Wilson, who came together to start the company in 2011. Richie serves as president and game designer; Wilson is vice president and art director.

Since launching Rather Dashing, Wilson and Richie brought their creative energy to games ranging from fun family games such as Red Hot Silly Peppers to tile games such as Graveyards, Ghosts & Haunted Houses and creative strategy games such as Dwarven Miner.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Richie and Wilson will remain with the business, continuing to create the high-quality, entertaining games Rather Dashing is known for. Kalmbach will provide business support and resources for growth.

“Rather Dashing Games has always maintained its vision of bringing quality, fun and original games to the market that are accessible to both hard-core gamers and family gamers alike. Teaming up with a time-honored, creative and value-based company such as Kalmbach allows for an amazing future,” Richie said.

“We couldn’t be happier to partner with such a talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic team. Kalmbach not only shares our values, goals, and love of tabletop gaming, they perfectly match it and magnify it,” Wilson said.

KALMBACH PUBLISHING CO., based in suburban Milwaukee, publishes 11 special-interest magazines including Discover, Model Railroader, Astronomy, Trains and Bead&Button and related books, and produces websites and events based on those content areas.

RATHER DASHING GAMES, based outside of Lexington, KY, boasts a catalog of entertaining games such as X Marks the Spot; Red Hot Silly Peppers; Dwarven Miner; Four Taverns; Pirates, Ninjas, Robots & Zombies; and Graveyards, Ghosts & Haunted Houses.

Mike Richie, Grant Wilson and Tim Kidwell of Kalmbach Publishing are available for interviews to further discuss the acquisition. Please contact Jeanne Wieland at Kalmbach, 262-798-6647, to arrange interviews.

Impressions Game Distribution Services has announced their latest product update for the month of March.  They also have offered information about their upcoming Free RPG Day 2015, which is now open for retailer sign-ups by following this FREE RPG DAY 2015 link.

The following items are a sample of the many new items that are new and will be ready to ship to distributors on Tuesday, March10, 2015:

  • Dungeon Crawl Classics #35A Mini: Halls of the Minotaur
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics #67 Mini: Sailors on the Starless Sea
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics #79 Mini: Frozen in Time
  • Spielbox Magazine, Issue #7, 2014, English Ed.
  • Monkeys Need Love Too (Boxed Card Game)
  • Death in the Treklant (C&C Adventure)
  • Towers of Adventure (C&C Adv.)
  • Night of Spirits (C&C Adv.) 
  • Fantastic Adventure (C&C Adv.)
  • March of the Ants (Boxed Board Game) 
  • Fudge Dice (20 dice, Black, Blue, Ivory, Red, White) RESTOCK
  • Seven Card Slugfest (Boxed Card Game)  RESTOCK

More information on the above releases, as well as recent new releases and solicitation updates, are available for perusal here.