Mayfair Games

It is with a very heavy heart I report that we have recently lost a giant in the industry, Darwin Bromley. Darwin started as the co-designer of Empire Builder (1982), one of the first popular route connection games, and founded the company to distribute it, Mayfair Games. Later, Mayfair was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing European style board games to the U.S., distributing the English versions of Catan (then Settlers of Catan), Agricola, and many many others until Asmodee bought the company in 2016. Numerous outpourings have come from the gaming community, best summed up by famed Munchkin artist John Kovalic, who called Darwin’s passing “the end of an era.” I know that my life would be very different if Mr. Bromley had not made all those boxes, now in my shelves, available and popular on these shores. Thank you Mayfair Games. Thank You, Darwin Bromley.

Since Mayfair Games folded their hand earlier this year, we’ve been slowly learning the fate of the games in their catalog.  Now, we have some clarity on Lords of Vegas.  Z-Man Games will take over publishing for the Lords of Vegas line of games, which includes the base game and the UP! expansion.  It appears that Z-Man will start by selling the existing Mayfair stock of games.

“James and I are thrilled to have Z-Man continue the legacy of Lords of Vegas,” says Mike Selinker, the president of Lone Shark Games and co-designer of Lords of Vegas. “When we were presented with the opportunity, many people from Asmodee and Z-Man told us how much they loved and played the game. So it was a no-brainer. We think our fans will like what Z-Man plans to do for Lords of Vegas in the coming years.”

Perhaps the biggest part of this news for existing fans of the game is that the designers and Z-Man will continue development of the ‘Underworld’ expansion, which had been in the works with Mayfair.  Personally, Lords of Vegas is one of my favorite games, so I am glad that it gets to continue on with a publisher like Z-Man.  Hopefully Z-Man will take the opportunity to improve the production quality for future editions of the game compared to the Mayfair version, and possibly revisit the 1950’s era aesthetic.

If you are not familiar with Lords of Vegas, it is an area influence game, with plenty of push-your-luck and the kind of high stakes you would expect from a Las Vegas casino-building themed game.

You can read the full Z-Man announcement on their website.

According to Reuters, the board gaming super-giant, the 800 pound gorilla, Asmodee is investigating a sale to an unknown buyer. Asmodee, the France based company owned by private equity firm Eurazeo SE, is currently worth an estimated 1.5 Billion euros (almost 1.8 billion US dollars). Among other things, Asmodee owns the board game companies Fantasy Flight Games and  Days of Wonder, F2Z Entertainment properties Z-Man Games and Plaid Hat Games, and the French publishing rights to the Pokemon Trading Card Game and Wizkids!. This includes the rights to some of the most popular games on the market, such as  Catan, Ticket to Ride, and X-Wing. The identity of proposed buyer(s) has not been disclosed at this time, pending further deliberations. For more information, you can read the original Reuters article here.

The International Gamers Awards have been going on since the year 2000, celebrating and recognizing gaming a truly global scale by having a committee of judges from all around the world. Each year they vote for the best game within the General Strategy category, which is split into two sub-categories: Multiplayer and 2-Player. 2017’s finalists have been announced and it’s immediately noticeable that this year’s competition is fierce. So without further ado, the nominees are:

General Strategy Games – Multiplayer nominees

A Feast for Odin
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Feuerland Spiele

Century: Spice Road
Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher: Plan B Games

First Class
Designers: Helmut Ohley
Publisher: Hans im Glück

Designer: Isaac Childress
Publisher: Cephalofair Games

Great Western Trail
Designer: Alexander Pfister
Publishers: eggertspiele

Key to the City: London
Designers: Sebastian Bleasdale and Richard Breese
Publisher: R&D Games

Lorenzo il Magnifico
Designers: Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli and Simone Luciani
Publisher: Cranio Creations

Magic Maze
Designer: Kasper Lapp
Publisher: Sit Down!

Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Image from the English 2nd Printing

Terraforming Mars
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Publisher: Fryx Games / Stonemaier Games

The Colonists
Designer Tim Puls
Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Günter Burkhardt
Publisher: HUCH!

Designer: Hisashi Hayashi
Publisher: OZAKU Brand

General Strategy Games – 2-Player nominees


Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Designers: Nate French and Matthew Newman
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Caverna: Cave vs. Cave
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Lookout Games


Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft
Designer: Diego Ibanez
Publisher: Devir

Designer: Gordon Hamilton
Publisher: Roxley

Star Wars: Destiny
Designers: Corey Konieczka and Lukas Litzsinger
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Fantasy Flight Games is releasing a new skirmish map for Imperial Assault, The Nal Hutta Swamps Skirmish Map . Taking place on the homeworld of the Hutts, this new map will be available as a tournament skirmish, and comes on a 26×26 beautiful neoprene playmat. The Nal Hutta Swamps Skirmish Map should be available now, and you can read the press release here.

In a report of current projects, Czech Games Edition has listed That’s a Question!, the new party game from Codenames developer extraordinaire, Vlaada Chvátil. That’s a Question! has 3-6 players use color coded cards and interrogation to try and predict how someone will answer. All players bet on which answer will come up, tallying their progress on a scoring board. Look for That’s a Question! in September 2017.

Hawk Wargames has announced the second edition of their highly regarded 27th century wargame Dropzone Commander. Hawk Wargames has stated the update is intended to bring more balance, and allow every unit to be playable. Expect Dropzone Commander second edition in Q4 2017.

Steve Jackson Games has given some more details about the upcoming digital version of their classic wargame Ogre, being designed by Auroch Digital. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of this futuristic tank battle classic, the early screenshots look true to the original.  You can read the press release about Ogre digital here.

An expansion to Mayfair Games‘ Spiel winning tile building game Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King has appeared in some distributor’s pre-order lists, and confirmation has come from the designers. Isle of Skye: Journeyman Expansion adds mighty warriors, cunning merchants, and swift heralds. Players can turn agents, flip cards and fulfill missions, while trying to avoid being thwarted by their opponents. Isle of Skye: Journeyman is expected in stores November 2017.  A brief description is available on Alliance Distribution’s web page.

Origins is one of the biggest conventions in the US for gaming, and they have been giving out their awards for the best each year.  The different categories include family games, role-playing games, card games, game accessories, board games, collectible games (CCG, TCG, etc.), miniatures, and finally a Game of the Year.  Some of the past winners include great games like Codenames, Imperial Assault, and 7 Wonders Duel, so you know bad games aren’t getting these awards.  But that’s enough background information, here are the nominees for the 2017 Origins Awards:

Family Games (6 Nominees)

Role-Playing Game (10 Nominees)

  • 7th Sea: Second Edition by John Wick Presents (designed by John Wick, Mike Curry, Rob Justice, Mark Diaz Truman, Jesse Heinig)
  • Curse of Strahd by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jeremy Crawford, Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman, Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins, and Richard Whitters)
  • No Thank You, Evil! by Monte Cook Games (designed by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Fantasy Flight (designed by Tim Flanders, Corey Konieczka, and Sam Stewart)
  • Shadowrun-Seattle Sprawl by Catalyst Game Labs (designed by Raymond Croteau, Jason Hardy, James Meiers, O.C. Presley, Scott Schletz, R.J. Thomas, Malik Toms, Thomas Willoughby, CZ Wright, and Russell Zimmerman)
  • Symbaroum by Järnringen and co-published by Modiphius Entertainment (designed by Martin Grip, Mattias Johnsson, Mattias Lilja and Johan Nohr.
  • Storm King’s Thunder by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jenna Helland, Adam Lee, Mike Mearls, Christopher Perkins, and Richard Whitters)
  • Star Wars: Edge of the Empire-Special Modifications by Fantasy Flight (designed by Blake Bennett, Tim Cox, Jordan Goldfarb, Sterling Hershey and Monte Lin)
  • The One Ring: Horse: Lords of Rohan by Cubicle 7 (designed by Shane Ivey, Andrew Kenrick, T.S. Luikart, Francesco Nepitello, and James Spahn)
  • Volo’s Guide to Monsters by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jeremy Crawford, Ed Greenwood, Adam Lee, Mike Mearls, Kim Mohan, Christopher Perkins, Sean K. Reynolds, Matthew Sernett, Chris Sims, and Steve Winter)

Traditional Card Games (8 Nominees)

Game Accessories (4 Nominees)

  • Blood Rage Organizer by The Broken Token (designed by Greg Spence)
  • Dungeon Morph Dice Adventurer Set by Inkwell Ideas / Q-Workshop (designed by Joe Wetzel, Dyson Logos, Matt Jackson, Shane Knysh, Tim Ballew, Dave Millar, Sigurd Johansson, AJ Stone)
  • Flip ‘N Tray Mat Case by Ultimate Guard (designed by Adrian Alonso)
  • Improved D Total by Gamescience (designed by Dr. A.F. Simkin, Col. Louis Zocchi, Frank Dutrait)

Board Games (10 Nominees)

  • Blood Rage by (designed by Eric M. Lang)
  • Clank! by Renegade Games (designed by Paul Dennen)
  • Cry Havoc by Portal Games (designed by Grant Rodiek, Michael Oracz, Michael Walczak)
  • Feast for Odin by Z Man Games/Asmodee (designed by Uwe Rosenberg)
  • Islebound by Red Raven Games (designed by Ryan Laukat)
  • Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight/Asmodee (designed by Christopher Burdett, Anders Finér, Henning Ludvigsen)
  • Scythe by Stonemaier Games (designed by Jamey Stegmaier)
  • Star Wars Rebellion by Fantasy Flight (designed by Corey Konieczka)
  • Terraforming Mars by (designed by Jacob Fryxelius)
  • World’s Fair 1893 by Renegade Game Studios and Foxtrot Games (designed by J. Alex Kevern)

Collectible Games (5 Nominees)

  • Yu-Gi-Oh Breaker of Shadow Booster by Konami (designed by Konami Digital Entertainment)
  • Pokémon XY11 Steam Siege Booster by Pokémon USA (designed by The Pokémon Company)
  • Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh Booster Pack by Wizards of the Coast
  • Marvel HeroClix: Uncanny X-Men Booster Brick by WizKids (designed by WizKids)
  • Cardfight Vanguard Fighters Collection by Bushiroad

Miniatures (5 Nominees)

  • Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team by Games Workshop
  •  Konflikt ’47 by Warlord Games (designed by Clockwork Goblin Miniatures)
  • Dragon Rampant by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine
  • TANKS by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine (designed by Andrew Haught, Chris Townley, Phil Yates)
  • Dropfleet Commander by Hawk Wargames (designed by Andy Chambers and David Lewis)

Uwe Rosenberg and Mayfair Games have announced Caverna: Cave vs. Cave, the long anticipated 2 player version of Caverna: The Cave Farmers. Along the lines of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small and Le Havre: The Inland Port, Cave vs. Cave takes the core mechanisms of the original, and trims them down into a streamlined, 20-40 minute, 2 player experience. Players use worker placement to mine for precious materials, explore deeper into their cave, and build a cozy home using grain, flax and building materials. Cave vs. Cave comes with 24 room tiles, 12 action tiles, 12 goods indicators, 7 walls, boards and tokens for 2. Cave vs. Cave is due to be released June, 2017.

Mayfair Games announced a whole slew of new releases and exciting reprints for 2017 recently.

In Bärenpark, 2-4 players compete to build their own bear parks – including other animals might have just been too much – with enclosures, animal houses, and shops by combining polyomino tiles onto a grid, aiming to finish their parks the best and quickest for the most points.  This game comes from the mind of Phil Walker-Harding, of recent Imhotep fame, and the wonderful art of Klemens Franz.  All your questions about what it takes to house a 2,000 lb. Kodiak bear will be answered this year.

Iron Dragon, for 2-6 players, is a reprint of the 1994 classic crayon rails pick-up and deliver train game, designed by Darwin Bromley and Tom Wham.  Players build tracks across the fantasy-steampunk world of Darwinina by drawing them onto the board, traveling across the map to deliver goods and earn money.  Iron Dragon features random events, different regions that vary players’ progress, foremen who discount passage over particular terrain, and forest creatures attempting to put a wrench into players’ plans.  Excited by drawing on the board in all those new-fangled legacy games?  At least this time it’s erasable.

Glass Road, for 1-4 players, is also returning from Mayfair Games this year.  By designer Uwe Rosenberg, Players travel to the Bavarian Forest of the 18th century to produce glass by gathering and managing resources via the game’s resource conversion wheel.  The central mechanism of the game, however, is the simultaneous action selection of specialists that grant the players their actions.  Selecting a specialist no one else has picked grants greater abilities, while matching specialists with another allows a player to take more actions.  Read your opponents and take advantage of their successes, just like the Bavarian glassmakers of old.

Atlantis is another reprint from Mayfair Games and designed by Leo Colovini for 2-4 players.  In this game, each player is trying to get their faction of people to the mainland before Atlantis sinks, collecting the most artifacts along the way.  The game consists primarily of players playing cards to build bridges, but water gaps are created at the same time, increasing the journey’s danger and difficulty.  Can you save your people better than everyone else?

Mayfair Games will also be releasing Food Chain, a trick-taking type game with a twist.  In Food Chain, 3-6 players try to outguess each other in simultaneous card play, aiming to play animals higher up in the food chain to claim the other player’s cards as points for the end of the game.  This game is not about eating one another, just subtly asserting your dominance over the other creatures of the forest.  How like life.

A new party game has been announced by Mayfair Games, Party Bites.  This game, for 3-5 players, enjoys a bit of metagaming, pitting players in the roles of partygoers vying for snacks and drinks in a light push-your-luck game that supposedly takes 10-15 minutes to play.  The push-your-luck comes in the form of flipping cards over and taking a kind of snack, passing the rest to the next player.  Flipping too much can cause a spill, however, and the player to lose all of their snacks collected this turn.  Sounds very similar to a real party.

Run Bunny Run is a 2-5 player game that also cuts a little close to the bone, in which a band of wolves are trying to capture a bunny.  One player plays the clever bunny navigating the wolves’s strategic card laying and movement programming maneuvers in an attempt to reach the safety of his home.  In the real world, the bunny would probably stand no chance, but in this game, he only has victory points to lose.  Musn’t be late!

Mayfair Games also announced a brand new expansion for the popular Lords of Vegas, entitled Lords of Vegas: Underworld.  The expansion includes 56 cards with new game effects and the ability to score victory points off the board.

Even with all of these exciting announcements of new games and old, Mayfair is not stopping there in 2017.  Look for these additional releases later this year as well:

• Nuns on the Run Expansion

• Draftopolis

• Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small Reprint

• Songbirds

• Riverboat

• Nusfjord

One of Uwe Rosenburg’s classic games is finally coming back into print courtesy of Lookout Games and Mayfair, and that game is Le Havre.  The game itself plays very simply in that on your turn you have two actions you can take, grab a stack of goods being offered, or activate one of the many buildings on the board.  The buildings will allow you to sell goods, upgrade goods, and even use the money you gained to build new buildings or ships.  After seven turns the round is over, your cattle and grain will increase based on how much you have, and then you have to feed your people.  After a set number of rounds the game is over and you get one final action to maximize your money, and whoever has the most is the winner.

This game is highly rated on BGG and has also been long out of print, with copies on the second hand market getting as high as $160.  Luckily with this reprint the price to acquire this game will come down to something more reasonable, so look for it on store shelves in the new year.

Mayfair Games has just announced two new games and an unexpected expansion to a game.  The games are Portal of Heroes and Saboteur; The Duel, the unexpected expansion is for Agricola, and that’s to raise the player count from 4 to 6.  The Agricola 5-6 player expansion will be the first to be released and will be on store shelves this month, containing all the needed bits and pieces to play the game with up to six people.  It will also include 48 new occupation cards, all which take into account the higher player count so that a 6 player game will still feel like Agricola.  This is surprising in that it seemed Caverna was poised to make Agricola obsolete, but with the flurry of new expansions as of late it seems now to be the other way around.

Next is Portal of Heroes, a set collection and action point allowance game where you are trying to score at least 12 power points in order to end, and hopefully win, the game.  On your turn you have three actions to take out of four possible options, take a pearl, clear and refill the display, place a character on your board, or activate a character on your board.  To activate the character you will have to play the pearl combination they need, and it’s these characters that will grant you points and other special abilities to help you win the game.  Once you reach the threshold of 12 points the end game will be triggered, and whoever has the most points at the end of the round is the winner.  Look for this card game to hit shelves in January of 2017.

Lastly is another game in the Saboteur line and that is Saboteur; The Duel, a two player version of the “bigger” game.  The goal remains the same of being the one to make it to the gold, but now as a two player game you are trying to sabotage your opponent instead of one person being a saboteur.  You can break their tools, collapse their tunnels, or even play locked doors in their path to keep them from their goal.  But remember, while messing with your opponent is good, you still need to make it to the gold first!  Look for this two player card game on store shelves in January 2017 as well.