Bruno Cathala

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Grab your French fries, French bread, French dressing and Pay-roo, we’re going to Cannes baby! Cannes! What, no interest in the glitz, glamor and pageantry of modern film and documentary? Good, because we are going for the board games.
The French board game publisher Ludonaute has announced some exciting news. They have several booths at the Cannes Film Festival showing off their goods and previewing some of their upcoming work.

colt express 2
Colt Express, which made a huge splash last year for its unique theme and components, is being shown off at Cannes with the ‘over-sized version’ treatment! Perhaps like the oversized Mayfair games at Gen Con? I look forward to seeing the pictures of this!
Colt Express, for those that have not been introduced, sports a 3D cardboard train that caught many eyes. Players play as Old West bandits robbing a train and collecting riches using action cards.
In addition to the ‘Big’ novelty treatment for Cannes display, an expansion is being previewed at the film festival. This expansion will include:
– Horses!
– Prinsoners
– A New Car (not an automobile)
– Hostages
– Stagecoach
– A new way to play: a Marshall vs. all others!
This expansion will be released at Essen.

discoveries

Another of Ludonaute’s popular games, Lewis & Clark, is also discussed in Ludonaute’s news release. Lewis & Clark is an American West exploration themed game that features a bit of drafting, a bit of pool building, some resource management and a whole Corps of fun. Now the company is giving L&C the Race to Roll treatment, enter dice. This totally new dice game will be shorter than Lewis & Clark but the decision making is reported to still be deep and fun.
The game will be released at Gen Con but a playable prototype will be at Cannes.

“The Little Prince” is a French novella published in 1943 which is the most-read and third most translated book in the world (per Wikipedia). Well loved designers Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala gave the story a board game adaptation (The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet) back in 2013 which was published by Asmodee. Now, in anticipation for the new animated feature film based on The Little Prince, the same designers have created a new game. The company has given no detail on how this game will differ but has said it will not require the building of planets this time around and instead include traveling the stars. It will target the casual gamer and families yet still include clever play.
The new game can be previewed at Ludonaute’s boot at Cannes as well.

So see, even us board gamer geeks could have something to do at French film festivals! Adieu!

See Ludonaute’s news article here.

Blue Orange Games, publisher of games like Spot It! and Doodle Quest, will be releasing 4 games through April and May.

The games releasing in April:

Sushi Draft

This is a card drafting game where players aim to score the most points by eating the most of different types of sushi. Each turn, you will choose one of your sushi cards to eat, pick a card to keep keep in your hand, and pass the rest to the next player. This will continue until each player eats five sushi. Each player collects score chips after each round and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins. The game is for 3-5 players, ages 8 and up, and plays in 15-20 minutes.

Components:

  • 32 Sushi cards
  • 18 Score chips
  • 1 Rules book

Attila

This is a chess-like abstract game for 2 players, ages 7 and up. In this game each player is trying to trap the other by scorching the earth with flaming arrows and strategically positioning their troops in a way that leaves the opponent’s troops with nowhere else to run.

Components:

  • 6 Knight Tokens
  • 14 Scorched Earth tiles
  • 2 Small game boards
  • 2 Large game boards

The games releasing in May:

Armadora

The objective of this game is for 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, to steal the biggest portion of gold from the dwarven mines. The play time is about 30 minutes long, and players will be able to choose from 5 of the classic fantasy archetypes: orcs, goblins, wizards, and elves.

Components:

  • 64 Warrior tokens
  • 4 Reinforcement tokens
  • 6 Special power tokens
  • 40 gold cubes
  • 32 Palisades
  • 4 Games screens
  • 1 Game board

Dragon Run

This is a press-your-luck game, designed by Bruno Cathala, in which players are going through a dungeon in hopes of being the one with the most gold in the end. In each turn you will have thee actions to choose from:

  1. Charge: blindly into a room that may contain treasure or the dragon.
  2. Sneak: throw some treasure to distract the dragon, and try to hide in the shadows.
  3. Cry like a baby: Stay where you are and surrender some of your treasure for the rest of the turn.

In order to win you not only have to have the most gold in the end, but you must also escape the dungeon unscathed. The game is for 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, and it plays in 15 minutes.

Components:

  • 10 Location cards
  • 28 Treasure cards
  • 1 Ten-sided die
  • 1 Dragon tile
  • 1 Dragon token
  • 7 Character cards

 

Blue Orange Games has announced that they will be showing off their new European Games Collection.  Many titles within this new collection are new with a few seminal favorites.  This collection is their way of showing that they are committed to the hobby game market.  While known for their light family fare with titles such as a Spot It they do want to appeal to the the more “gamery” market.

After having tested the market in the US for some of their heavier titles last year 5 titles including Braverats, Niya, and Battle Sheep they will be bringing over 7 additional titles to start the collection off.

“We are excited to bring the best “gamer” games from Europe through our Blue Orange Europe product line with games from famous game designers such as Seiji Kanai, Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti, and Charles Chevallier.”

“Last year, we tested the waters by bringing over a few of the games from Blue Orange Europe such as Battle Sheep, Niya and BraveRats. When we saw how overwhelmingly positive the response was for these games, we decided to bring other games to expand further, and offer even more games in this spirit.”

– Martin Marechal, VP of Sales and Marketing.

They have stated that this line of games should be available in Spring 2015.

Publishers descriptions below

Longhorn

designed by Bruno Cathala

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 Players

Longhorn is a 2 player strategy game. You and your opponent play as two rival bandits, trying to make the most money from stealing longhorn cows and valuable gold nuggets. Each turn, you will take all of the cows of one color from your current location, and then move the same number of spaces away to a new location. The trick of the game is that each time you take a cow of a certain color, it will reduce the value of ALL cows of that color. So if you get too greedy, and forget to diversify your cow portfolio, you might end the game with a pile of worthless livestock.

Niya

designed by Bruno Cathala

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 Players

Niya is a 2 player abstract strategy game where your objective is to match the patterns in the garden tiles in order to arrange 4 of your tokens into formation (or leave your opponent with no legal moves remaining). Each turn, you will choose to place one of your tokens, in the place of a tile in the garden by matching one of its patterns with one of the patterns on the previously removed tile. The first player to arrange 4 of their tokens in either a straight line or 2×2 square wins the game.

Dragon Run

designed by Ludovic Barbe & Bruno Cathala   NEW

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 to 5 Players

Dragon Run is a push your luck game where players take the control of a group of adventurers, who after a long and profitable journey into the depths of a dungeon, are startled to realize that they are not alone. The dragon has awoken and is eager to protect her treasure! Each turn, you will choose to either charge forward into the dungeon in search of new treasure, or advance cautiously to try and avoid the dragon’s detection. Escape with your life while still carrying more treasure than your opponents to win the game.

Wakanda

designed by Charles Chevallier  NEW

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 Players

Wakanda is a 2 player totem pole building game. Your objective is to build and claim the totem poles worth the most points at the end of the game. Each turn, you will have to choose between increasing the value of one of the available totem poles, or claiming it as your own. Totems only score points if you can also claim the corresponding village tiles. So play smart, and build totem poles that will honor the old gods.

Armadora

designed by Christwart Conrad  NEW

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 to 4 Players

Armadora is a 2-4 player area control game. Your objective is to claim the biggest portion of the dwarven gold mines. Each turn, you will choose to either place one of your tokens facedown to claim territory, or place a palisade to divide existing territories in two. The player with the highest strength in each territory wins its gold at the end of the game. The player with the most gold wins.

Gobblet

designed by Thierry Denoual

Ages 7 to Adult / 2 Players

Gobblet is a 2 player strategy game similar to the classic game of Connect 4. Your objective is to line up four of your pieces in a straight line – but it’s not so easy! The twist is that pieces come in 4 different sizes, and bigger pieces can be placed on top of littler ones (gobbling them up!). You will need a clever strategy and a good memory to remember where your opponent’s pieces are hiding while cleverly positioning your pieces on the board!

Attila

designed by Bruno Faidutti  NEW

Ages 7 to Adult / 2 Players

Attila is a 2 player abstract strategy game, where your pieces move like the knights in Chess. However, your objective in Attila is NOT to capture your opponent, but rather you must outmaneuver him, trapping his pieces with no moves remaining. Each turn, you will move one of your horsemen, then let loose a flaming arrow, adding an impassible scorched earth token to the modular game board. The first player no longer able to move his pieces loses the game.

BraveRats

designed by Seiji Kanai

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 Players

BraveRats is a 2 player bluffing game. With only 16 cards, this “micro game” sure packs a lot of punch. Originally called “R” in Japan, BraveRats is now refreshed with new art and a beautiful tin carrying case. This clever twist on the classic card game of War will have you playing several games back to back, and each playthrough will add new complexity to your understanding of both the game AND your opponent.

Crab Stack

designed by Henri Kermarrec  NEW

Ages 8 to Adult / 2 to 4 Players

Crab Stack is an abstract strategy game for 2-4 players where your objective is to trap your opponents by moving your crabs on top of theirs, and washing them away with the waves. Players control 3 different sized crabs, each with their own movement rules. Each turn, you will move one crab to a new location, trapping whatever is underneath it. And stay alert! If you ever create two separate groups of crabs, the smaller one will be washed away and removed from the game board. The last player still able to move one or more of his crabs wins the game.

Wink

designed by Fred Krahwinkel  NEW

Ages 8 to Adult / 4 to 8 Players

Wink is a hilarious party game that will plunge you deep into an atmosphere full of crazy laughter, awkward stares, and a healthy dose of paranoia. Each turn, you will try to covertly wink at your new secret partner without being detected by the other players. Keep your eyes wide open, because if you catch an opponent in the act of winking you can use one of your Accuse Cards to steal their points! The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Battle Sheep

designed by Francesco Rotta

Ages 7 to Adult / 2 to 4 Players

Battle Sheep is a 2-4 player strategy game where your objective is to outmaneuver your opponents’ sheep and take control of the biggest portion of the playing field. Each turn, you will move your herd by dividing one of your stacks of sheep into two stacks, and moving the new stack in a straight line as far as it can go – hopefully trapping your opponents’ sheep in the process! The clever rules on movement make traveling across the board an interesting challenge, and the modular game board ensures each game feels fresh and exciting.

Sushi Draft

designed by Takahiro  NEW

Ages 8 to Adult / 3 to 5 Players

Sushi Draft is a card drafting game, where your objective is to eat the sushi worth the most points at the end of the game. Each turn, you will pick one card from your hands, one card to keep, and then pass the rest of your cards to the next player. At the end of each round, the player who ate the most of one type of sushi wins that corresponding scoring chip. And whoever ate the most VARIED menu (of different types of sushi) wins the coveted Dessert chip. The player with the most points at the end of the 3 rounds wins the game.

 

the escapist banner

Popular video game review site, The Escapist, is running a series of features in preparation for its annual The Escapist Awards. They have nominees in a myriad of categories ranging from games to movies to comics and more.

The most important awards are, of course, Best Board Game and Best Card Game of 2014. There are four nominees in the board game category and three for card games. Let’s dig in.

Board Games

Evolution by Dominic Crapuchettes and North Star Games

“Evolution charmed us and made us wish we could play game after game to explore all the combinations.”

five tribes board

Five Tribes by Bruno Cathala and Days of Wonder

“Days of Wonder don’t often create a game for ‘Hardcore Gamers’ in the tabletop sector, those seekers of games about points, scoring points, and nothing but the points, but when they do you should sit up and take notice.”

Shadowrun: Crossfire by Mike Elliott and Catalyst Game Labs

“Where Crossfire really excels is that it’s a consistently challenging experience in a world of milquetoast cooperative games.”

kings forge

King’s Forge by Nick Sibicky and Clever Mojo Games

“You get to roll giant double fistfuls of dice, and who doesn’t like that?”

Card Games

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest Core Set by Eric M. Lang and Fantasy Flight Games

“Conquest is a delightful game that balances quicker victory now against the possibility that you’ll deny your opponent victory in the future.”

doomtown premium

Doomtown: Reloaded Core Set by Mark Wootton and AEG

“It’s a harrowing experience that begs players to push their luck, attempt interesting plays, coming back to the game again and again.”

Magic: The Gathering Commander 2014 by Richard Garfield and Wizards of the Coast

“With five great decks, each really playable right out of the box and definitely including an obvious upgrade path for the deckbuilding-curious, this is a product you and a few friends can have a great time with even if you’re not Magic experts.”

Winners haven’t been announced yet, but given the interesting variety on these lists, we’ll be keeping an eye on The Escapist Awards throughout the end of the year. Head over to The Escapist to read more on their board game and card game nominees.

Don’t forget to check out Dice Tower’s reviews to learn more about these contenders.

Evolution, Game Boy Geek Preview
Five Tribes, Miami Dice Episode 147
Shadowrun: Crossfire Review
King’s Forge, Miami Dice Episode 145
Warhammer 40,0000 Conquest, Miami Dice Episode 146
Doomtown: Reloaded Review

trictrac

French gaming blog and community site, Tric Trac, posted its Tric Trac d’or 2014 awards naming the top three games of the year based on user submitted votes and Tric Trac’s own panel of judges.

five tribes board

Taking first place honors, and the Gold medal, was none other than Bruno Cathala’s Five Tribes, Days of Wonder’s first foray into heavy strategy. This unique Mancala-style game set in ancient Arabian mythology was the runaway winner from the start.

“At the opening of the vote, the game started to reap the points, escaping after a few hours.”

Second place was more hotly contested, but it was Cédrick Chaboussit’s Lewis & Clark that took Silver. This worker placement game set in pioneer-era America has players reliving Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition to the Pacific coast.

splendor pieces

The Bronze medal went to Marc Andre’s Splendor. Noted for its high component quality, this light set collection game has players collecting combinations of gems to attract patrons and score victory points.

“With 1,210 voters, we can say the thing is the opinion of many players who surf Tric Trac and the current trend of European games.”

Check out Tric Trac’s full announcement to see an analysis of the voting process and which games just missed the winners’ podium. The article is in French, but can easily be translated through a number of online resources (e.g., Chrome’s built-in translator).

For more information on this year’s winner, click the links below for Dice Tower’s reviews.

Five Tribes Miami Dice
Lewis & Clark Review
Splendor Review

league of gamemakers banner

Theme should be more than just inserting zombies, Cthulhu or scenery from the southern pacific into your otherwise well-developed board game. Designer Christian Strain at the League of Gamemakers brings some thoughts to the subject in “Stepping Up Your Game’s Theme.”

We have the opportunity as designers to make whatever we want, but in the end, we have to make sure others want it too. We are world builders. Build a world that is unique and interesting enough to make others want to explore it.

Picture Found at League of Gamemaker's Website

Picture Found at League of Gamemaker’s Website

Christian started his quest after realizing his pirate game in development might have a theme too well-trod to make it stand out in the ever-expanding board game world. With plenty of other pirate games already on the market, he wondered what else was out there. A suprise early morning call to legendary designer Bruno Cathala provided plenty of insight into the development of Abyss.

Bruno: During one year, we discussed about a lot of potential times, but without finding something exciting enough…

Until we had THE idea… Instead of allowing players to develop their civilisation in a concrete world, based on Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, etc, what if we created a complete new world. A kind of forgotten world, based only on our imagination. Something like if Atlantis have survived in the deepness of Oceans, with a completely unknown civilisation… Yes, this was exciting, and not too much exploited in games.

Christian then goes on to analyse theme in his own efforts at game development.

We created a new world when we made Asking for Trobils. I have to say, that designing the world was the most fun part for me as a designer. I can’t wait to dive into the next world.

Christian’s conclusion…don’t get too invested in an intial cookie-cutter style theme and instead try to find something no one has ever tried before. For anyone hoping to add something new to their game to grab the eye of gaming consumers, the post is a must read.

 

On the November 11/19/2014 posting of Bruno Faidutti’s personal blog, Bruno discusses the plethora of games that are being released in recent days, specifically at Essen this year.  With the constant flood of new releases, one would guess that a few gems would rise to the top above endless seas of chaff.  On the contrary, the bar for quality has been raised considerably.  “The overall quality of games, not only in production but also in design, seems to be paradoxically increasing with quantity – and it’s making their job quite tough for seasoned game designers like me,” Faidutti states.  “Many of the so-called groundbreaking games published ten or twenty years ago, some of which have become regular sellers, would pale in comparison to more recent stuff if they were published today – they just still have the good old charm of forerunners.”

Faidutti proceeds to then introduce a dozen (actually, 15) games that he has been enjoying most recently, listed in order from the lightest to heaviest in weight:

1.  Seventh Hero (Kuro, IELLO/AEG)

2.  8 the Liar (Odd Hackwelder, Swan Panasia Co., Ltd.)

3.  Dragon Run (Bruno Cathala, Blue Orange)
dragon run

4.  Tales & Games: The Hare the Tortoise (Gun-Hee Kim, IELLO)

5.  Wakanda (Charles Chevalier, Blue Orange)
wakanda

6.  Colt Express (Christophe Raimbault, Ludonaute, Asmodee)

7.  Ivor the Engine (Tony Boydell, Surprised Stare Games, Ltd.)
ivor

8.  Black Fleet (Sebastian Bleasdale, Space Cowboys, Asmodee)

9.  Cash ‘n Guns (Ludovic Maublanc, Repos Production)

10.  Sheriff of Nottingham (Andre Zatz and Sergio Halaban, Arcane Wonders)
sheriff

11.  Manifest (Amanda Milne and Julia Schiller, SchilMil Games, Ltd.)

12.  Sons of Anarchy (Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski and Sean Sweigart, Gale Force Nine)

13.  Five Tribes (Bruno Cathala, Days of Wonder)

14.  El Gaucho (Arve D. Fuhler, Argentum Verlag)

15. Lords of Xidit (Regis Bonnessee, Libellud)

As I read the article, the games that most intrigued me were Colt Express and its 3D cardboard train, The Hare and the Tortoise (looks like oodles of fun for my kids), and Black Fleet.  What sold me on Black Fleet was not only the big map, neat miniatures and pirate theme, but specifically Bruno’s comment, “I would have loved such a game when I was ten, and I still quite like it at fifty.”

What’s not love about a game like that?

Check out Bruno Faidutti’s blog HERE.

abyss box

It is always interesting to see the view from the other side when going to a convention like Essen.  So Bruno Cathala talking about his experience there is very fascinating.  With six games being either released or showcased at the convention one can say that he was likely having to move at a frenetic pace.  Additionally since most of these games were put out by different projects it was not as if he could just sit in one place signing games and talking to people he had to split his time in many different directions.  Additionally since he is an active designer he brought prototypes to show off to publishers.

FIVE-TRIBES-box-3D_smaller

This is not what most people imagine when they think of designing a game they just think about the admiration and not necessarily how consuming things like conventions tend to be.  I think one of the most telling things was that he did not have time to even go looking for games to buy and basically the only games he was taking home with him are ones that were given to him by people.

For his full experience head on over to his blog here. (In french)

titans

Titans releases next month from Asmodee Games and is designed by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc.  Previously reported here, this is the second expansion for Cyclades and features conflict around neighboring islands and 6 great, ancient Greek cities.  The game includes a double-sided game board, an offerings board, a large Kronos tiles, 5 Divine Artifact figurines & cards, 5 Special Metropolis cards tiles & cards, and 7 prosperity markers.

titans pieces

asmodee days

 

Announced today in various news sites, including Forbes, Days of Wonder (publisher of games such as Small World, Ticket to Ride, and the recent hit Five Tribes) is merging with Asmodee (publisher of 7 Wonders and Eclipse).

By merging with Days of Wonder, Asmodee increases its exposure to the US game market, and it also gets access to the company’s award-winning portfolio, which includes Small WorldShadows Over Camelot and the Ticket to Ride series. Days of Wonder has also made major strides creating digital versions of its games for iOS devices and personal computers.

Days of Wonder will continue to operate with its current team as an independent brand and studio within the Asmodee Group, according to the company, and will continue its mission to release a limited number of new games with high production values. Adrien Martinot, who has led the company’s European sales and marketing operations for the last 7 years, will be the new head of the studio; current Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont and vice president Mark Kaufman will continue in an advisory role to Asmodee CEO Stéphane Carville.

I found it interesting that Bruno Cathala had a recent release with both companies (Five Tribes and Abyss) at Gencon.