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Spiel des Jahres 2014

Last week’s Dice Tower Awards went so well that it’s not surprising that other organizations have jumped on the bandwagon of naming a game of the year. No hard feelings though, I’ve heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But seriously, the Spiel des Jahres (German for Game of the Year) is probably the most important award of gaming. Without this award, the gateway greats that introduced most of us into this hobby (like Ticket to Ride, The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Dominion) may not have reached the level of popularity that they currently have. And now, joining that list of classics as this year’s Spiel des Jahres winner is Steffen Bogen’s Camel Up. This game about betting on racing camels beat the other well-received nominees’ Marc Andre’s Splendor and Concept by Gaëtan Beaujannot and Alain Rivollet.

The other big award that was given out was the Kennerspiel des Jahres, which is given to the best strategy game. Rüdiger Dorn’s Istanbul, a game about trading rupees with the help of your assistants in the Turkish city formerly known as Constantinople, won this award over Mac Gerdts’ Concordia, and Rococo by Matthias Cramer, Louis Malt and Stefan Malz.

If you’re interested in any of these games, the increase in publicity from these awards often causes them to become more widely available. For example, Z-Man Games has announced that they will be releasing Camel Up in North America before the end of the year.

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The Kickstarter Gold Rush

The theme of the old west is deceptively popular. On one hand, western themed games don’t seem to rake in nearly as much funding in Kickstarter projects as the zombie genre. Zombicide consistently makes well over a million dollars per campaign, and other recent games within the genre also are impressively well-received. For examples, check out the Kickstarters for games like Zombie 15’, Escape: Zombie City, and even smaller games like We Are Dead.

On the other hand, the article with the highest view count last week (other than the Spiel des Jahres announcement) was about the new western themed game on Kickstarter Wanted: The Outlaws. At the time of writing, the small game has been a modest success. Last week, Tom Vasel reviewed Spurs: A Tale in the Old West, which was another successful Kickstarter game. In an interview with Sean Brown, the president of Mr. B Games, he seemed surprised by how well the Spurs was selling. So, although these games may not receive the funding and press that more popular and bloated genres do, it’s worth noting that a lot of gamers are still interested in finding the next Bang!
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What’s New with the Dice Tower?

1. Sometimes we have to admit things about ourselves that other people may not like. Case-in-point: Tom Vasel loves destruction. Last year when Board Game Breakfast first took off, Tom’s initial opening sequences in videos were innocent enough. He would do something simple, like pour milk in a bowl of dice or Ticket to Ride trains. As time went by, those cheap thrills weren’t exciting enough. He began to boil Memoir ’44 army men over the stove and smear jam over Marvel Dice Masters cards. Some people have not taken it so well.

In last week’s Board Game Breakfast, Tom defended his “misuse” of components. While Tom has talked about his component drops in previous videos, his most recent explanation does an excellent job of describing why he cooks his components, as well as his views on the value of games. You may not agree with what he says, but it is an interesting argument. Also, he’s probably never going to stop. So at the very least, if Tom ever invites you over to play a board game in the morning, you know that you probably shouldn’t let him make you breakfast.

2. Tom Vasel hosted a special Q&A segment this week, and a lot of the questions he answered focused on the big events that would be coming up within the next few weeks. Perhaps the most exciting event to look forward to is Gen Con, which will be taking place from August 14 to 17. You can look forward to a lot of previews of new games and interviews with designers, similar to the content that the Dice Tower offered during Origins Gaming Convention last month. In the more immediate future, the long-awaited Top 100 lists from frequent Top 10 and Miami Dice co-host Sam Healey and Zee Garcia will begin to be recorded this week.

Speaking of Top 10 list, a few hints were given about what to expect within the next few games. The Top 10 Fantasy Games was already recorded in front of a live audience during the Dice Tower Con. Other upcoming Top 10 include the top Queen Games and the Top 10 Milton Bradley games. Also Tom’s lips are still sealed about a Musical Episode that he’s been hinting at for a long time. Forget turning components into sandwiches, if you’re looking for game-related spectacle, you should keep a look out for that episode.

 

 

 

Image from dominionstrategy.com

Image from dominionstrategy.com

Donald X. Vaccarino Madness

All eyes have been on Donald X. Vaccarino since he captured all of our hearts and our wallets with his deck-building titan Dominion along with its eight expansions. While his last effort, Kingdom Builder (published by Queen Games), may not have impressed all critics, this month has been especially exciting for Vaccarino fans. His mafia themed card-drafting game Greed (also published by Queen Games) has been reported to be arriving at the front doors of Kickstarter backers, which means that it should be available in stores soon as well. But is the game any good? Check out Ryan Metzler’s review to find out.

Earlier this week it was announced that Rio Grande Games will be releasing another new Vaccarino game entitled Temporum. In this hand-management card game for 2 to 5 players, you play as time travelers trying to change the past in order to improve the future for your own personal gain. While I can think of plenty of great uses of time-travel in other mediums, there aren’t enough board games that use the classic sci-fi invention. Temporum is expected to be available at Gen Con next month.

Speaking of Rio Grande Games, if you’ve watched our coverage of the Origins Game Fair, you know that the new Prince Promo Card for Dominion got a lot of screen time. To be fair, it is a really cool card. While only available for purchase at Origins, it is expected to be released to the public within the next week or two.

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Tile-laying Games Unearthed

Yeah, yeah, we may have gotten the new Carcassonne Hills and Sheep expansion last week, but the sad fact remains that there just aren’t very many tile-laying games being made any more. The tried-and-true mechanic may finally be getting the revitalization that it deserves with two new games that were announced this week.

New publisher out of Canada, Roxley Games, announced Super Motherload (by Gavin Brown and Matt Tolman) based off of the 2013 Xgen Studios video game of the same name. In the Jules Verne inspired video game, you play as a miner tasked with finding rare resources under the surface of Mars. You can sell what you find underground in order to get the funding necessary to buy fuel for your drilling vehicle, as well as upgrades that allow you to dig through the harder rock layers of the red planet. The announcement of the board game adaption states that the game will utilize a unique mix of tile-laying and deck building-mechanics. Super Motherload is expected to be in stores this November.

German Publisher TF Verlag UG has kicked off a Kickstarter campaign for another tile-laying game called Canopy Walk, designed by Dennis Kirps and Gérard Pierson. You and another person play against each other as explorers looking for elusive red diamonds in the rainforest by building the largest amount of completed trails of your color. The funding period ends on Sunday, August 10 2014. If funded, the game is expected to ship in October.

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What’s New with the Dice Tower?

– The wait is over, the winners of the 2013 Dice Tower awards have finally been announced! Each year the Dice Tower recognizes the games, developers, and publishers who best demonstrate how great the hobby can be. 14 awards were given out for categories such as Best Game Reprint, Most Innovative Game, and of course, Game of the Year. I won’t spoil the list of winners by posting them here, so do yourself a favor and check them out for yourselves.

– Board Game Geek user s4rc4st1c was not being sarcastic when he called out the Dice Tower for not having enough love for frequent Miami Dice and Top 10 co-host Zee Garcia. He noted that Zee has not been featured in any of the title sequences for Miami Dice and that he was not a playable character in Steve Avery and Tom Vasel’s game Nothing Personal. Zee fans rejoice! The Dice Tower has posted 5 new reviews with Tom and Zee including Imperial Settlers, Battle Sheep, and Shadowrun Crossfire. Also for anyone who is still wondering; a character based on Zee will be playable in one of the recently funded Nothing Personal expansions.

– Of course it may be a little bias to say that the Dice Tower News website leaving beta was one of the biggest stories in gaming this week, but come on. Have you seen how many articles we’ve published already? If that isn’t enough to keep you coming back, we also have a weekly giveaway; join our mailing list, and you’ll be in the running every week for $10 gift certificate for Cool Stuff Inc.