Games today announced the first expansion to Elizabeth
Hargrave’s mega hit Wingspan. Wingspan
took the gaming world by force when it hit in early 2019, combining a huge
variety of gorgeously illustrated cards with simple, elegant gameplay. Wingspan
was quickly the most talked about game, unfortunately making it frequently out
of print, and difficult to find. Winning the illustrious Spiel des Jahres
Kennerspiel award probably did not help matters either.
The European Expansion, also designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, still contains the fantastic art by Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas, and Beth Sobel. The new birds included in this expansion will use a variety of new abilities, including round-end abilities, more player interactions, and birds that benefit from excess resources. The plan for this expansion, and future additions, it to be seamlessly shuffled into the original cards, creating a larger, more varied game.
Stonemaier has also announced that future copies of Wingspan will include a “swift start promo pack”, which includes a first round walk-through, using specific new bird cards to demonstrate how to play. The back of the Wingspan box will clearly show whether the promo pack is included. This promo pack will be also available for separate order directly from Stonemaier. For more information on the Swift Start Promo Pack, check out Stonemaier’s website here.
The European Expansion for Wingspan will contain a new tray for holding the tremendous quantity of cards, 15 more eggs (purple!), more food resources, and a new scorepad. Pre-orders for this expansion will begin on November 6, and look for the game to hit shelves November 22, 2019. For those lucky enough to attend, limited copies will also be available at Essen in October. For more information, check out Stonemaier’s website on the European Expansion here.
The next big thing designed by Jamey Stegmaier is Tapestry, a 1-5 player civilization game that plays in 90-120 minutes. The game was revealed on Stonemaier Games’ weekly livecast video on Facebook.
In Tapestry, you start from nothing and advance on any of the 4 advancement tracks (science, technology, exploration, and military) to earn progressively better benefits. You can focus on a specific track or take a more balanced approach. You will also improve your income, build your capital city, leverage your asymmetric abilities, earn victory points, and gain tapestry cards that will tell the story of your civilization.
The game features art by Andrew Bosley, of Everdell fame, and sculpts by Rom Brown. The first English print run of 25,000 is complete and the game is sailing from production to fulfillment centers now, with each box individually numbered. Tapestry will be available for preorder through Stonemaier’s website in early September, and will be for sale at Essen Spiel.
Some tidbits from the video: Tapestry is not tied to real world history. The rulebook is only four pages long. The factions have asymmetrical starting points. The solo mode is by Automa Factory. The game includes a spatial placement element somewhat similar to A Feast for Odin.
On June 15, 2019, at the annual Origins Game Fair, the winners of the 45th Annual Origins Awards were announced. The awards are chosen not only by the Academy Jury, but by the fans.
The Best Board Game Award and Game of the Year as voted on by both the Jury and the fans is Root, published by Leder Games and designed by Cole Wehrle, with artwork provided by Kyle Ferrin.
In addition to announcing the award winners, the annual inductees into the Hall of Fame were announced: fantasy horror artist Gerard Brom and game designer Vlaada Chvatil were inducted, as were the games Mage Knight: The Board Game and Apples to Apples. There was a new award handed out this year for the first time, the Rising Star Award, and it went to Jamey Stegmeier of Stonemeier Games.
For further information on the rest of the award winners, be sure and check here.
One might not be able to tell from the consistent popularity of Scythe that it was ever in need of anything new, but Stonemaier Games has made it a habit of offering new gameplay experiences to Scythe fans. First it was Invaders from Afar, which gave fans two new factions. Then it was The Wind Gambit, which gave fans Airships and the Resolution module. The Rise of Fenris brought fans an 8-game replayable campaign and 11 interchangeable modules. The latest addition to the popular game is a Modular Board. This is not the first time Stonemaier has offered a different gameboard experience. The original gameboard is two sided, one side with the full game board map and the other side consisting of a portion of an enlarged gameboard that could be completed with a gameboard extension for a 70% larger gameboard. The enlarged gameboard did not change gameplay though. The new modular board for Scythe, on the other hand, does. The Scythe modular board adds a new level of variability to Scythe. The map is different on both sides and has spaces for 4 big double-sided tiles that change the landscape each game. Even the faction home base locations can change each game. No longer must the Nordic faction start in the north, or the Saxony faction start in the corner without easy access to the wheat fields that both neighboring factions have. Faction location and landscape can vary every game. No longer can faction strategy count on the consistent landscape around their home base. Additionally, the modular board adds a drafting element to setup, along with a variant for a tighter map at low player counts.
The Scythe Modular Board comes with 1 double-sided board
(624x818mm, same size as the standard Scythe board), 4 double-sided tiles (7
hexes per tile), 8 home base tiles, 8 structure bonus tiles, 1 rulebook (11
languages), and Automa rules for solo play.
Pre-orders from Stonemaier open on May 29, or look for the Scythe Modular
Board at your friendly local game store late this summer.
Stonemaier Games and developer Jamey Stegmaier have announced a new small box expansion for their mega hit Scythe (currently rated number 7 on boardgamegeek). Scythe Encounters started in June 2018 as an invitation to fans to design encounter cards for the game, those random events players find while wandering the countryside. The response was overwhelming, and Encounters represents the best 32 entries. Scythe Encounters is due for release December 8, 2018, however Stonemeier went one step further and had one palette shipped over to the US, so the first 1900 pre-orders will receive their boxes significantly earlier. Check out the Stonemaier Games Newsletter for more information, and as always, a great chart on the progress of new additions from the company.
Well, Jamey has announced the upcoming, and final, third expansion called The Rise of Fenris.
“While the exact nature of the episodes and modules will remain a mystery (some of these components are in secret tuckboxes), the components in this expansion include a detailed episodic guidebook, 13 plastic miniatures, 62 wooden tokens, 2 custom dice, 5 tiles, and 100+ cardboard tokens.”
So it appears that this expansion will feature a “Legacy” aspect to it! For more details on the announcement, you can head over to Stonemaier Games.
Jamey Stegmaier posted an article this week on his blog asking this question: when it comes to Kickstarter, Facebook, and other forms of communication: do you feel punished? This question was derived from some complaints and comments that he received from Stonemaier Games’ fans when he began to combine multiple threads and media into singularly focused Facebook groups (one per game) too keep things easier to update, follow, and converse. These complaints involved fans who did not have Facebook accounts to feel left out, in which the word “punished” was being used.
Jamey Stegmaier explains the situation this way:
I started to receive comments and messages from people saying that I was “punishing” them for not being on Facebook. They said I was excluding them from the conversation. Some were worried about not being in the loop about future releases, despite the many other platforms we use for communication (Twitter, e-newsletter, this blog, BoardGameGeek, Kickstarter, YouTube, etc).
But it was the comments about “punishment” that really stood out to me. That’s a strong word. It implies that I’m choosing to hurt you because of your actions. Yet the power is in your hands. The onus is on you to join Facebook. I’m not standing in your way.
Mr. Stegmaier is explicit in his article that he has absolutely no intent to alienate (and certainly not “punish”) any of his followers. Quite the contrary. Nor is he suggesting that anyone should join Facebook. He further explains that his “responsibility as a creator is to select an effective way to let backers and customers engage with me and with each other.” While he strives to achieve this high level of communication, there are human limitations, and that posting the same content repeatedly on every platform is a gargantuan task and, quite frankly, unreasonable.
It is a fact that Mr. Stegmaier has left footprints for many in the gaming industry to follow, both in his enormous efforts to communicate clearly and frequently with his fans and customers as well as his pioneering efforts in the Kickstarter approach and helping others in the industry create more productive, effective Kickstarter projects. This recent article entitled Kickstarter, Facebook, and Communication: Do You Feel Punished? was published on his blog on the Stonemaier Games website, and can be read here.
Welcome to our first installment of Heir Interviews, a new process we’re going to try out here at Dice Tower News. I am Bryan Gerding, though on BGG and elsewhere I go by HeirToPendragon, thus the title (also it acronyms to HI which gave me a good chuckle).
For our first installment we are talking with Jamey Stegmaier, co-owner and public face of Stonemaier games, and one of the most considerate members of our community. Their Kickstarters are known for their transparency and their backers-first structure.
Jamey, I asked to interview you because your company is getting pretty popular at the moment. Scythe is still one of the most anticipated games of the year and Charterstone is getting some buzz. You also recently put out the Essential Edition of Viticulture with its version of Tuscany on the way. And finally I hear stories about Euphoria getting more stuff for it and its world. Where to begin is probably the best question!
Let’s start with Scythe. When you were developing the game and piecing it together did you anticipate this much excitement for the game?
I really had no idea how people would respond to it until I posted the cover art on BGG in December 2014. I mean, I loved the art, and I figured I wasn’t alone, but to get that big of a response for a game still in early development based on the cover? Wow. That was pretty awesome. I think it was the number 2 most liked image on BGG in 2014, and it only had 1 month to make that impact.
As hyped as it is, do you feel more stressed to put out a stronger product than you were with previous releases?
To me, “hype” is people being excited about something, so sure, there was a certain amount of pressure to get it right. But it’s not like I don’t try to design and publish great games when people aren’t as excited in advance about them. The real reason I had to work harder on Scythe is the level of asymmetry in the game—I think games like that require a whole different level of blind playtesting than games with little to no asymmetry.
Where exactly are you with the completion? Do you expect to hit the delivery date? Should people map out their path and run to your booth early at GenCon?
(Reply given May 13th) Currently we’re about a month ahead of schedule of the original estimated delivery month of August. The games are fully assembled and have been loaded into cartons and pallets, and they’ll be transported from Panda to port next week. We don’t have a booth at Gen Con (just a conference room), so we’ll only be selling Scythe there if (a) all backer/pre-order copies have been fulfilled and (b) if our local friends at Greater Than Games decide they want to sell some copies at their booth.
There are rumors of a video game from the artist. Any comment on that?
I hinted at that in a recent project update, though I really don’t know much about it, and it’s totally Jakub’s thing, so it’s not my place to say. I can say that I’m currently waiting to get a sizzle reel back from a developer who wants to make a board game port of Scythe in Unity (for tablets, phones, Steam, etc). I’d love to make that happen. Also, the Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia versions of Scythe look great.
Fun Question: what about Scythe are you most proud of?
Hmm, interesting question. The first and biggest thing that came to mind is that I’m so proud that my game could have a positive impact on Jakub’s life (the artist). And, to give him credit, it’s had a great impact on my life as well. I feel like Jakub deserves to be famous for the level of talent he’s worked hard to achieve. I think it would have happened without Scythe, but I’m proud I could be a catalyst for that process. He’s awesome.
Onward, how far into development are you with Charterstone?
It’s still pretty early. I’ve been working on the design since December 2015, and it’s now in the second phase of early playtesting. The first phase usually involves me making a game that sucks, and then I take a break and try to make it suck less. That’s where I am right now. A ringing endorsement, right? 🙂 Seriously, I’m super excited about the latest iteration, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Are you putting it onto Kickstarter or is your company getting big enough to not need it?
That’s an interesting way of putting it. I think you’re asking if my company has enough money that I don’t need to raise funds to manufacture a game, which I think is a common fallacy about Kickstarter. There are many other reasons to put a game on Kickstarter: build community, generate excitement, make it better through stretch goals, and gauge demand. The latter is closely tied to funding. Like, with Scythe, we had enough cash on hand that we probably could have made the minimum print run of 1500 games, but that would have done a great disservice to the nearly 18,000 people who wanted a copy. Kickstarter is a great way to ensure that the people who want your product are able to get it.
What makes it different from other Legacy games?
There are a few key things. One is the core mechanism where you and the other players are building actions on the board for all players to use. Thus, it’s competitive, but you’re interacting in a shared space. You’re basically building a worker-placement game from scratch, and each copy will end up being very different.
Two is that Charterstone is a constructive legacy game, not a destructive one. Whenever you make a permanent change (like place a building sticker on the board), you’re adding to the game. You’re not tearing up cards. Not that I have a problem with tearing up cards—I’ve had a great time doing that in Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy—but that doesn’t align with the core aspect of building in Charterstone.
Three is that Charterstone is designed to be fully playable and enjoyable after you’ve unlocked all of the secrets and completed the story. At that point, it’s as if you’re playing any other worker placement game, complete with plenty of variable elements to keep it fresh.
It also plays from 1-6 players, and some of the games are relatively short (20 minutes or so). It does get longer and more complex as the village gets bigger, though.
What is the hardest part about developing a legacy game?
Prototyping and iterating are really hard. Like, every time I complete a playtest, if I need to make any changes, I basically have to throw away everything I’ve printed and cut and start over. And even little changes to one aspect of the game can have a ripple effect through so many other areas of the game. I’ve tried to take Rob Daviau’s advice and break the game into different eras—that way I can try to get the first era right before I design much of the next era at all, as I’ll probably need to redo all of that later-era work anyway.
Fun Question: How far into Pandemic Legacy are you and if you’ve finished what is your record?
Oh yes, my group finished it back in September or October of 2015. I think we finished 12-6.
Next games! Is the next Tuscany printing directed toward Essential Edition owners? Would you recommend it for people that own a previous edition of Viticulture?
The Tuscany Essential Edition is for anyone who owns Viticulture and doesn’t have Tuscany (most people in that category have the Viticulture Essential Edition). Yes, I highly recommend it. I loved what we originally did for Tuscany, but it was a very expensive addition. The Essential Edition is slimmed down—it only has the extended board, special workers, and structure cards—so we’re looking at a price point around $30-$35. That’s a more appealing expansion price for a $60 game than the $70 MSRP on the original Tuscany.
Are there any changes to the modules that will be in the next print? Are any modules being removed?
The only change to the three modules we’re including is that there are only 14 special worker meeples instead of 66. 66 was just too expensive—it would have increased the price to $50. Instead, each player will get 2 meeples, and there are 2 matching stand-ins to be paired with the 2 random special worker cards drawn at the beginning of the game. Thus the gameplay will remain the same. We’re removing the following modules because we don’t consider them to be essential: patronage, mafia, arboriculture, formaggio, and structure crossovers.
Is there a place for people to get the removed modules, meeples and coins once they buy Tuscany Essential Edition? Also, how will future printings of Viticulture and Tuscany play out? Will it only be Essential Editions from now on?
We recently started offering ala cart items from Tuscany (and some of our other games) on our website while supplies last. The metal coins were actually never in the retail version of Tuscany (only the KS version), but we’re currently making more of them, and they can be pre-ordered here. That’s correct—from now on we’ll just be printing Viticulture Essential and Tuscany Essential, and possibly the occasional small expansion or ancillary product like Moor Visitors or the metal coins.
What exactly is going on with Euphoria? I’ve heard of both an expansion and a side game using the same world. Can you clear any of this up?
You’ve heard a lot of things. 🙂 I wish I could clear it up, though I don’t exactly know! I’m not the designer. I’ve been involved with the development of it this year, but all I know right now is that Morten is working on it for the next month and then submitting his final version to me in mid-June. I’ll know better then exactly which path he’s taken.
Any other announcements you’d like to make?
I’d like to announce that my cats, Biddy and Walter, are the cutest of all cats.
Last Fun Question: What game outside your company are you having the most fun with right now?
The best new-to-me game that I’ve constantly wanted to play over the last 2 months is Ora et Labora. But if we’re talking right now, I played Millennium Blades for the first time last night and really loved it. It’s one of the most ambitious games I’ve ever played, yet Brad Talton was able to create some very clever mechanisms to help players reign in the information overload. I talk about that on my video here.
I’d like to thank Jamey again for the interview. If you’d like to learn more, you can always visit their website here. Jamey has a really interesting video blog as well, the front page of which you can find here.
I’d love to hear your feedback on the interview process and what you’d like to see more of going forward. Feel free to leave your feedback on the Dice Tower guild of BGG by posting here. If you’d like to contact me for an interview or discuss ideas for future interviews I can be easily reached through BGG Geekmail or through direct email.
Stonemaier Games today announced that they are working on their first Legacy style game, titled Charterstone.
Charterstone is a worker placement, Euro style game for where players will have unique, secret skills which they’ll use to build a village. Each building that players construct will become a permanent action space that all players can use and will carry over into future games.
Charterstone is for 1-6 players and, unlike most other Legacy style games, is less destructive and more constructive and will remain playable once the campaign is over – you will have a fully functioning game that is unique to you and your group.
There is no release date as yet, as the game is still in the early stages of development, but it is anticipated to be on Kickstarter by the end of 2016 with fulfillment sometime in 2017.
To view the official announcement, please visit the Stonemaier Games website here
“Think of it as Agricola meets Kemet with asymmetric factions.”
This quote came from Stonemaier Games November 2014 newsletter that announced a new game they were working on calledScythe and for almost a year board game fans have been talking about and waiting for it to make an appearance. Granted it wasn’t just the statement above that caused the stir but also the incredible artwork for the game from Jakub Rozalski whose 1920’s alternate universe art inspired the design of Scythe.
The time for just talk and buzz are about to come to an end as Stonemaier Games has announced that Scythe will be launching on Kickstarter on October 13th and end on November 5th. I for one will be a backer from day 1 as soon as I can get to a PC to pledge. Keep in mind there is no rush to pledge as Stonemaier Games never does early birds and everyone will enjoy the same prices throughout the campaign.
Scythe is a 4x board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europa who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.
Scythe will launch with multiple different options for backing ranging from just the game to a collectors edition tier with a beautiful hardcover book of Jakub’s artwork. Included in the collectors edition is a clever extended board that takes the reverse side of the regular board combines it with a board extension and creates a large version of the regular board. There is nothing unique about the extended board other than the size, Stonemaier has placed a .gif image on the Kickstarter project page that shows how this works and I have to say it is quite clever. Also included is a realistic upgrade to the resources that comes with the base game as well as metal coins.
The realistic resources that replace the wooden ones are made out of resin or zinc and painted to look like the items they represent. Those that are familiar with Stonemaiers’ ‘Treasure Chests’ will recognize these as the same ones that are found in them, those of you who aren’t are in for a pleasant surprise when you see them for the first time. The metal coins are made to represent each of the 5 playable factions in the game and will be available for purchase separately as well.
Stonemaier Games has created some magnificent games using Kickstarter including Viticulture, Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia, and Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture and they are known for running excellent Kickstarter projects and producing exceptional component quality so it is a safe bet that Scythe will deliver the same. If you interested in finding out more about Scythe you can find it here on BGG as well as on Stonemaier Games website here. Jamey Stegmaier himself has also recorded numerous videos about Scythe that you can find on BGG and/or YouTube.
So for those of you who have been following the news about Scythe there is just a few short weeks to wait for the Kickstarter launch and for those that are just learning about it welcome to the buzz. Fortunately there are a plethora of games waiting for us to play in our collections as we wait for Scythe to make it to our doorsteps.