GenCon 2019

The sharp-eyed and -eared among you may have heard Tom Vasel, our illustrious leader, drop a bombshell on the latest episode of Boardgame Breakfast. The next game in the Dice Tower Essentials line of games, will be Smartphone, Inc. originally from Cosmodrome Games and designer Ivan Lashin. The Dice Tower Essentials are games that Tom himself has played, deemed extraordinary, and brought personally to publisher Arcane Wonders for retail publication. Smartphone was originally shown at Essen 2018, and despite having a very small print run, quickly became a darling of the show. Rumors of reprints abounded, but until now the game has been on the grail list of many collectors.

“Back when smartphones were only beginning to conquer the world, it was your destiny to lead one of the most promising manufacturing corporations in the world. Analyze and research customer demand around the globe. Get out of your comfort zone and try to get more profit by setting up new offices in nearby regions. Improve your production and research innovative technologies. Try to get local markets under your control. Find your own way to success—become the producer of an elite high-tech product or a manufacturer focused on the mass market. And don’t forget to keep your plans secret if you want to win this race. Other companies want the same thing you do: to become the most successful (and richest) smartphone manufacturer of all time!”

Smartphone, Inc. is often described as Food Chain Magnate lite, being a strong but elegant economic game for 2-5 players about manufacturing and selling cell phones around the world. At the heart of the game, players manipulate two double sided cards, creating their “pad”. Each half of the pad contains 6 squares of icons, and by overlapping them in specific ways, players create their plan for the round: Visible symbols give actions for the round, while covered squares add additional product for sale, but inherently limit a player’s turn. Players can gain Improvement Tiles from the market each round, more cardboard tiles that can be added to their pad, adding new icons, or flipped to create more phones for sale.

Available actions include changing the sell price of a player’s phones up or down, researching new technologies, spreading and selling to other areas on the world map, gaining Improvements, and making more product. Newer technologies and world expansion give players more locations to sell their product, and each player can only sell in one “slot” per round, creating fierce competition for the markets. Players can focus on creating large amounts of cheaper phones, which allows them to act first, flooding sell spaces and outcompeting their opponents, or they can make higher priced phones to simply make more money. The richest player after 5 rounds emerges victorious.

The components for Smartphone are exceptional, with the entire board using dual layered cardboard, creating recessed slots for player pieces. The pieces themselves are brightly colored clear plastic cubes (phones/goods), office buildings (for territory control), and smartphone bars (representing progress). Individual player storage boxes keep the pieces organized: plastics, the player’s “pad”, and starting innovations. A clean, minimalistic graphic design places the round structure and all rules in easy to understand proximity. Also included in the game is a strong A.I. driven solo mode.

Smartphone Inc. will be available to demo at GenCon, Origins Game Fair, and Dice Tower Con this summer, and Arcane Wonders has stated that the awaited Kickstarter Campaign for reprints will still occur later this year, with retail release to follow in 2020. For more details, check out Arcane Wonders announcement here, and the Cosmodrome official webpage for Smartphone Inc here.

Dice Tower News has previously announced the formation of Gamegenic Ingenious Supplies, a branch of Asmodee dedicated to creating board game accessories. Now, the proverbial elephant in the room has announced that the first project for Gamegenic will be accessories for the immensely popular collectible deck game Keyforge: Call of the Archons.

Keyforge, by designer and gaming demi-god Richard Garfield, hit the scene by storm in 2018, delivering on its unbelievable promise of a game based on completely unique card decks. Each and every pack of Keyforge has a one of a kind name, logo, and set of cards. The game itself is the next evolution of the one-on-one CCG card battle, with players summoning creatures, collecting Æmber, and creating the eponymous keys to win the game. The hook is that cards are based in one of 4 houses, and players can play as many cards as they like, as long as they all belong to the same house.

Gamegenic has announced they will be bringing official deck boxes, sleeves, and other accessories for Keyforge. CEO Adrian Alonso stated, “KeyForge has not only a unique game concept but also special requirements in terms of accessories, which we have incorporated into our product design. As we are all enthusiastic KeyForge players ourselves, we can promise that there will be some truly special products.” The new Keyforge products will be revealed at the traditional Fantasy Flight Inflight Report before Gencon 2019, and the official launch date is August 1. For more information, check out the press release from Asmodee here.

Fantasy Flight Announces Event for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Fantasy Flight Games will be letting players take their fellowship deep into the depths of the ancient halls of the Dwarves in ‘The Mines of Moria,’ a recently announced event at GenCon for its living card game The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.

In The Mines of Moria, players will be able to play with a new expansion pack of 78 cards that features new quests and encounters, as well as twists on familiar cards with new and unexpected abilities. Using the 7 new quest cards and 14 new encounter decks (consisting of 5 cards each), players will be able to design their own custom adventure for their exploration of Moria. Players have increased flexibility with how they design their scenario, with the quick-build option having players simply select 5 encounter decks or the advanced-build which allows players to select 35 individual encounter cards from the various encounter decks, giving even more options for customization.

Creatures that the players will face include spiders, cave trolls, goblins, The Watcher of the West Gate and others familiar from the novels, as well as new creatures such as savage werewolves.

In addition to the standard cooperative mode, players can also now choose to play competitively, with two or four players competing individually or in teams of two to be the first to overcome their opponent’s designed scenario.

Registration for this GenCon event is live now, with tickets priced at $30 per seat. More information about this event can be found here.

Board and Dice has announced Sierra West by designer Jonny Pac Cantin, a unique game combining deck building, tableau management, worker placement, multi-use cards; in short this game is a tapestry of many interwoven moving parts. In Sierra West, 1-4 players move pioneer workers through paths in the mountains, claiming cards and actions, collecting resources in their pursuit of the american west. Prominent in setup is a large mountain made of a pyramid of overlapping facedown cards, with the top cards visible. 3 cards from the player’s hand are placed in a notched board, revealing 2 rows of icons from the bottom of the cards, representing two different paths the pioneers can traverse. Each space on the path can generate resources, allow actions or present danger. Boot actions on the path allow the movement of the caravan along the road, or the frontiersmen up the card mountain. Frontiersmen allow players to claim new cards from the top of the mountain, while the caravan gives access to special cards below the wagon trail. Additionally, players can build cabins with resources, and place their pioneers on the cabins when they are not on a trail, generally helping the rest of the workers. The game ends when the 6th special card is added to the caravan trail.

All of this sounds like a great game, but Sierra West is a flexible kit, designed to make more interesting, more variable games with the included modules. Each module changes the starting cards, rules for play, type of cabins, and action spaces. The game comes with 4 modules: Apple Hill, Boats and Banjos, Gold Rush, and Outlaws and Outposts, with more expected to release in 2020. Sierra West is expected to be released at GenCon, in August 2019.