An old family-weight betting game is receiving a fresh modern facelift and premium treatment thanks to Calliope Games and Kickstarter. Station Master, designed by Chris Baylis and originally released in 2004 by Mayfair Games, is back with a new look and streamlined rules, and it’s seeking funding right now. In this game for 2-to-6 players, locomotives are arriving at a station awaiting passengers and train cars. Each turn players may add either cars or passengers to a train, with each car either adding positive or negative points to a line. Once a line fills up with cars and passengers, each player who has passengers on that line will multiply their passengers by the total value of the cars to receive points and the player with the most points at the end is the winner.
“We have restored this timeless train game, creating stunning all-new artwork based on classic locomotives, railcars, and railroad history. In addition, we have refined and streamlined the rules for modern audiences, as well as adding in upgrades and new material to create the greatest possible Station Master experience!”
It’s a surprisingly simple to teach and learn, but even more impressively quick to play as each turn is just a matter of adding a card or a passenger here or there. It boils bluffing and speculation down to easy-to-follow figures and formats, with a theme that disarms it entirely so that it may not seem to some that they’re even playing a betting game at all. This kind simplicity, ease of play, and well-executed theme is ideal for any family-weight game, and Calliope is taking it a step further by making it look great and giving this 15 year old gem the love it deserves. If you’re interested in learning more about this new edition of Station Master, check out the Kickstarter campaign page now for full rules, reviews, photos, and community feedback.
It’s funny, I was getting ready to title this article as “Gen Con Day 2” as it’s been my second day here…but today actually marked the first official day of the convention!
Today, I was able to get a round a bit more and spend some time at a variety of other booths. First on my trip was Calliope Games (booth 1901)!
Ship Shape, which has probably turned into my favorite game thus far, is a fun drafting, tile laying game that is quite unique. Each person has a pirate ship hold, made up of a 9×9 grid. You draw tiles that have certain areas of the grid missing from the tile and you are tasked with laying them on your storage hold so that as you look down onto the hold, whatever the top visible icon can be seen is what you score. Couple that with some fun drafting rules and you have a fun filler game that plays in about 30-40 minutes.
White at the Calliope booth I was able to also demo SpyMasters which was a bit of a welcome surprise for me. It is a “I pick-you choose” game in which you are agents trying to solve different missions around the board. It had a “Pandemic”-y feel to it only in that you had actions to take place that your cards you choose help to determine. You’re tasked with moving around the board and completing missions. This was quite a fun game that surprised me.
My next stop took me by the Funko demo room (141). Ever since Origins, I had heard quite a bit of buzz regarding the new Funkoverse system. There were several 4 character and 2 character sets (combinable) available for sale. Two DC sets, two Harry Potter sets along with a Golden Girls set and a Rick and Morty set were all available. Each sported the Funko figures that have become quite popular but the games sported some unique gaming qualities that were really intriguing.
Each turn, you select one of your characters and perform two actions. Each character has access to basic actions like moving and challenges as well as several unique abilities that may be performed only by spending ability tokens. Funkoverse uses an innovative “cooldown” system — the more powerful the ability, the longer it will take for the ability token to become available again — so players have to spend their ability tokens wisely. Each character in Funkoverse is unique, so players are encouraged to try out different combinations of characters and items in order to discover their favorite synergies and powerful strategies for all four game scenarios.
There are already new packs in the works scheduled to be released next year. There’s plenty available now to provide tons of fun and this game will definitely appeal to young and old alike. Having 9 children myself, I’m real anxious to get this to the table to get some quality time spent with the family!
Yet another stop took me to the USAopoly (The OP) booth (137). New this year and getting quite a bit of hype was their Die Hard game. However, what excited me quite a bit were several upcoming games they were demoing – namely Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising and a Toy Story deck-building game. For those familiar with Thanos Rising, you’ll see many similarities with this game however this game ramps it up a bit with Voldemort interacting more with the Death Eaters and making it quite a bit more difficult. This, too, is a cooperative game that is sure to appeal to any Harry Potter fans.
A game that I was most excited about was the Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures. This game is the spiritual successor to Harry Potter: Hogwart’s Battle in that it will be a deck-builder with similar evolving additions/boxes to the game over time.
Calliope Games are releasing a number of games from some very accomplished designers through the 2nd quarter of 2019.
“Ahoy, captain. Set sail for fun, adventure, and riches! Your savvy crew does your bidding, stacking your hold with the most profitable crates. Will you choose glittering treasure, colossal cannons, or perhaps some risky—but lucrative—contraband? Outwit and outbid all others to earn the biggest bounty…but above all, keep everything ShipShape!”[source]
ShipShape is a new game by the legendary designer, Rob Daviau (known for Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Pandemic Legacy), which has each player controlling a ship over the course of 3 voyages. During the voyages (rounds), players bid using numbered crew cards to claim unique crate tiles off the central stack. They then fill their holds with gold, cannons, and contraband, and cover up what they don’t want. At the end of each voyage, coins are scored when players compare what’s visible in their holds against each other. The player with the most scored coins at the end of the game wins. ShipShape caters for 2-6 players, aged 8+, and plays in roughly 20-50 mins.
Everyone Loves a Parade
“Everyone loves a parade! It’s a beautiful day, and your hometown is excited to watch all the fun, pageantry, and spectacle of the event! But first, the floats that will thrill the crowd must be built…and the one who crafts the most exciting floats will become the Grand Marshall!”[source]
In Everyone Loves a Parade, designed by the seasoned designer Mike Mulvihil (known for HeroClix, and Golem Arcana), players act as float designers. They select colorful decoration cards (flowers, balloons, and flags) to add to their floats and win over the crowd. The crowd is represented by dice showing colors and items they wish to see. Decoration cards allow immediate actions which allows players to move or re-roll crowd dice. Players reveal their secret order cards at the end of each round, which allows them to perform one last action, then enter their completed float into the parade in front of a crowd. Players gain points for giving the crowd what they want, and the player with the highest score after 3 rounds wins and becomes the Grand Marshal. Everyone Loves a Parade caters for 2-6 players, aged 8+, and plays in approximately 20-50 mins.
“Direct a vast network of spies all around the world! As the head of a clandestine spy agency, gather intelligence files that have been strategically divided, and use them to maneuver your agents across the globe and accomplish daring missions. Along the way, uncover secret directives and powerful spy gadgets to give your agency the advantage over your rivals. The mission awaits, spymaster!”[source]
Players are in control of intelligence agencies and manipulate their spies all over the world in SpyMaster, designed by Seth Johnson (known for HeroClix, and Golem Arcana). A spymaster deals intelligence cards into stacks of files then, in clockwise order, lets players choose a stock from them using the I-split-you-choose mechanism. The intelligence cards players gather allows them to move agents into position to control areas which meet mission requirements, then claim mission cards. After 5 rounds, the player with the highest value of accomplished missions, along with any bonuses from intelligence cards remaining, wins. SpyMaster caters for 2-6 players, aged 8+, and plays in about 30-60 mins.
Calliope Games has announced a new Tsuro game, Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, coming in 2019. Tsuro (2004) by Tom McMurchie, and its followup Tsuro of the Seas (2012) by Tom McMurchie and Jordan Weisman are well regarded abstract family games, in which 2-8 players take turns placing tiles in a grid. Each tile continues several curving paths. Each player has a token on one specific path, and must move along the path as it grows. Therefore, new tiles have the possibility of moving a token off the board, and eliminating that player. Little is known about the details of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, except that it will be featured soon during PAX Unplugged, November 30 through December 2.
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.
Calliope Games announced the release of The Mansky Caper on Kickstarter. It’s a prohibition-era, heist game for 2-6 players, designed by Ken Franklin. The game plays in 40-60 minutes and supports players aged 8+.
In this explosive press-your-luck game, you’ll be robbing rooms and dodging booby traps that go boom! Al Mansky, the most ruthless and illustrious Mob Boss ever, has never shown our Family the respect it deserves! Well… Big Al is away on vacation and it’s time to even the score! We are breaking into his mansion and absconding with all his loot! [source]
During The Mansky Caper players take turns navigating through rooms in Big Al’s mansion. Each turn a player opens a safe in the room and either draws shiny gems and coins, keys to unlock remaining rooms, plot twists, or explosive booby traps which can destroy the loot, or even the whole room. In order to protect your loot you’ll need to take a turn to stash it in the getaway car but during this turn your “associates” won’t be sharing any loot they find.
Each character has a unique skill and you can call in a favor to make another player help you. You can only call in favors after offering to help your associates which earns you a favor. At the end of the caper, when all of the safes are empty, and the mansion is falling apart, the player with the most loot is the winner and the new head of The Family.
The game features great looking components, including 3D safes, and requires a minimum pledge of $32 for the base game with free shipping within the United States. The campaign started today and runs up until Saturday, February 10th 2018, with them achieving 11% of their target on their first day. See the Kickstarter page for more details.
ShutterBug, by designer Mike Elliot (Dice Masters) and Calliope Games, pits 2-6 players in the back woods of America, looking to be the first to take pictures of the mysterious hidden creatures roaming there. Players take turns over 8 rounds, moving their pawns and collecting tip cards, leading them to their quarry. Trade tips with other players and score points, all while fulfilling side jobs and trying to achieve your secret assignment. Most points at the end of 8 rounds wins. Look for Shutterbug in November 2017.
In Capitol City, by James Ernest (Kill Doctor Lucky) and Calliope Games, players have 4 rounds (seasons) to build the best wild west town. Each season the train brings in new workers, some good and some bad, to help develop main street. Players bid for priority on the upcoming season, choose characters from the train and then purchase building cards. Attach characters to buildings to gain money or points, and gain special bonuses for related kinsfolk – either your own or other players’. Capital City is due for release in November 2017.
Press-your-luck is a very fun mechanism in board gaming, giving the thrill of gambling without any of the life-changing consequences. There’s a lot of themes that have worked with it over the years, from games about nurturing magical forests to parties of people trying to travel by aircraft. So how about a game that wants you to race your friends and family to the peak of a mountain inhabited by yetis? The risk and fun sell themselves in Dicey Peaks by Scott Almes (of Tiny Epic fame), a game for 2-6 players now on Kickstarter. Here’s the pitch from the campaign page:
“Racing to the fabled flag atop Yeti Mountain, players take turns rolling dice and skillfully choosing whether to climb or rest. As you advance, you’ll reveal tiles that can help or hinder your progress. Avoid avalanches and watch out for the Yetis… for when they attack, you might lose more than just your turn!”
The big draw of this family-style game is that unlike many other push-your luck games, Dicey Peaks mixes resource management with risk management because here you can “bust” (or lose your turn) in multiple ways. You can always end up with your hands in your pockets by rolling too much of a bad symbol on the dice, but you can also yield your turn by rolling too much of a good thing. Then there are yetis who, while being a terrible danger when resting on your laurels, are also a heck of a motivator for your friends you’ve left behind, working as a sort of catch-up mechanic for opponents who haven’t fared well with the luck of the dice. So if you’re interested in Dicey Peaks, be sure to check out their campaign page to watch the excellent how-to-play video and to peruse updates as the project nears it’s funding goal.
With August having come to a close, Calliope is reminiscing on the excellent August they had between GenCon, and one of their games being picked up by Target. That’s right, now included in the dozens of games recently announced as Target exclusive, the new editions of Roll For It! purple and red are now among those exclusives. Changes in the new edition are mostly cosmetic with inclusion of a drawstring bag, new colorful opaque dice, and a viewing window on the box. So if you are looking for a quick and fun dice chucking game, you only have to go as far as your local Target to find it.
What were some of the best April Fools jokes from board game publishers for 2015? Clever Move has an article with their top 5 of them here.
It includes the maybe not an April Fools joke from Dice Hate Me Games for a Kickstarter called ‘Meta games for Small Pockets’. It was a short run and is already over and funded. Backers will get two small games from Dice Hate Me Games Rabbits line of card games (their smallest and usually simplest games). The first game is called ‘Deck Building: The Deck Building Game‘, a deck building game about building decks.
Deck Building: The Deck Building Game combines the thrill of building your deck with the excitement of building your deck! It comes with 50 artisanally-crafted 70mm square cards, 15 translucent plastic “stain” tokens, and a rules sheet.
The second is called ‘Unpub: The Unpublished Card Game‘ in which players will combine cards with a theme, core mechanic, and game components to pitch games and the one with the best pitch wins.
Unpub: The Unpublished Card Game is a 20-30 minute party game for 3 to 8 players. The game comes with 54 cards, each featuring a possible game theme, a core mechanic, and game components that the players will use to craft a game idea. Each round, one player acts as publisher and uses an element from one of their cards to inspire the designers to pitch a game using two of the other three elements on cards in their hand. The best game pitch gets a publishing contract!
Also included in the list is a new faction for Imperial Settlers, a new game from Gamewright, a new version of Fluxx from Looney Labs, and finally Tsuro Soap from Calliope Games. If you looking for a good chuckle be sure to check out the article here.