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Stronghold Games is starting 2019 off with a bang, and has announced 5 new games coming soon in the new year.

Ganz Schon Clever is a fantastic (BGG #295) roll and write game from wunderkind designer Wolfgang Warsch, which took the gaming world by storm last year. In Clever, 1-4 players roll dice in order to fill in spaces from 5 different tracks. Each track has checkpoints which allow bonus fills on neighboring tracks, allowing for some amazing combination moves. Ganz Schon Clever was nominated for the 2018 Kennerspiel des Jahres award, but unfortunately for Mr. Warsch, of the 3 (!) nominated games he designed, the only win that year was Quacks of Quedlinburg. The new english version coming from Stronghold Games will be called That’s Pretty Clever, and is expected to release in April 2019.

CO2 (2012) is a well regarded (BGG #585) heavy worker placement game from designer Vital Lacerda (The Gallerist, Vinhos, Lisboa), and Stronghold is bringing the remastered CO2: Second Chance to stores this March. 1-4 players take on the role of corporations trying to make the planet a greener place, correcting the pollution made standard in the 1970s. The second edition includes a new rulebook and iconography, a more balanced gameplay, a new events deck, and upgraded wooden components. Stronghold has stated that this edition will be printed once, then not reprinted, so get it while it is available.

Astro Drive is a “fast paced card driven spaceship racing game” from designers Mikko Punakallio (Dokmus) and Max Wikström (Space Freaks). 2-4 Players secretly pick movement cards from their hands, then simultaneously reveal. The cards have an initiative number, determining who moves first, movement points, compelling their ship to move forward, and control points, allowing side to side wiggle. Players also have a limited number of energy cubes, which can be spent for either 2 extra movement or control points. Players race over map tiles, avoiding crashing into obstacles, until someone crosses the finish line. Expect Astro Drive in stores in April 2019.

The Violet Morass is a new expansion for the skirmish board game Space Freaks (2017). In Space Freaks, 2-4 players combine different body parts to create the perfect team of freaks, then lead them into the arena for battle. The Violet Morass adds 2 new arenas, the perilous waters of the planet Azorax 5, multiple new head and body parts, as well as some terrifying equipment. The Violet Morass is tentatively scheduled for an April release.

Another anticipated expansion is the Meteo Expansion for the card driven bicycle racing game Flamme Rouge. Flamme Rouge has 2-4 players controlling the speed of their 2 person team up and down hills and around bends, trying to manage cards and jockey for position most efficiently. Meteo adds weather and wind management into the mix, adding more options into this strategic racing game. The Meteo Expansion for Flamme Rouge is expected in stores February 2019.

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On Thanksgiving Day, NSKN’s blog brought us some solid food for thought: how should game designers and publishers, not to mention gamers in general, consider the impact of thematic content in the games they design and play?  In this entry, NSKN presents the conflict that can sometimes arise due to various elements of theme in games.

It’s quite likely that every gamer has become involved in a game where some aspect of the theme struck a nerve with someone at the table.  A solid theme brings the mechanics of a game to life, allowing us as gamers to make connections that suck us in and immerse us in the experience of the game.  There are, however, elements of life, philosophy, morality, and the human experience, that we find unpleasant, disturbing, and sometimes quite revolting.  Whether the subject matter is as “in your face” as playing on a sheet of human skin in Chaos in the Old World, or something deeper and more subtle like the “colonists” in Puerto Rico, it’s difficult to be callous to others when a particular aspect of a game’s theme strikes that nerve.

A mature response in this area is to make one’s own decisions about a theme and to be careful to avoid pressuring others to play games with themes that are difficult for them.  However, even in this light, designers and publishers should carefully consider the impressions that will be left on others by the delivery of theme in their games, and be prepared for any negative reactions from thematic elements that come close to established social and moral boundaries.

The article makes observations about how a person can find one edgy theme acceptable yet be very bothered by another theme that could be considered controversial.  To read the article in full, visit the NSKN blog page.