North Star Games

North Star Games has launched Oceans, the latest game in the Evolution series, on Kickstarter, and it funded on the first day of the campaign.  Oceans is a strategy game that recreates the building of a marine ecosystem through millions of years of evolution. Like the other games in the Evolution series, players create and evolve species in a growing ecosystem in an effort to survive and thrive. Species will be defined by one or more of the 12 traits found among sea life.  At first, the only food source is plankton and predating species will be limited to few traits, but as life (and food) become more abundant, more complex creatures can evolve. But the ocean is a complex ecosystem and the deeper one goes in the ocean the stranger the ocean world becomes.  Oceans includes this mysterious world with The Deep, where 50 unique traits create powerful and strange creatures of the deep ocean.  Oceans features the same art style by naturalist Catherine Hamilton found in the other Evolution games.

Oceans plays 2-6 players, ages 12+, between 45-100 minutes.  Contents for the standard game include 1 Rulebook, 1 Reference Guide, 2 Player aids, 1 Reef board, 3 Ocean boards (2 small, 1 large), 120 Surface cards (10 of each type), 50-80 Deep cards (1 of each type), 25 Scenario cards, 35 Species boards, 215 cardboard fish (96 Light Blue, 42 Salmon, 30 Yellow, 18 Blue, 6 Midnight, and 23 White tokens), 6 Player screens, and 6 Bonus Score tokens.  The Deluxe Edition ugrades the fish to acrylic fish tokens, custom printed bags for storing points instead of player screen, and 220 custom Ocean card sleeves for both the core trait cards and The Deep trait cards. The Kickstarter campaign runs through April 26 with an expected delivery date of September 2019.  Check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn more.

Not to miss out on the blossoming digital games market like many of it’s kin, the award-winning Evolution from North Star Games is available now on Steam, iOS, and Android. This new desktop and mobile version boasts new artwork, animated cards and environments, a campaign mode with many A.I bosses, and all the same great gameplay that put Evolution on the map. Cross-platform multiplayer means you’ll be able to play anyone, anywhere, from any preferred device. After 4 years of development, North Star Digital Studios is confident they have made the experience as streamlined as possible so that online matches are ten minutes or less.

“Within moments of playing their first game, even new players will understand why the Evolution board game became an award-winning franchise with more than 1.6 million players around the world. Anyone can jump right into the diverse ecosystem on PC, Mac, iOS or Android.”

That’s not all though, as North Star Games is celebrating that launch in the best way manageable – by giving away 10 free copies of the physical edition of Evolution every day for 100 days since it’s launch. All you have to do to enter is play an online match each day to be eligible. It’s well worth it to not only support the game and it’s fresh online community, but to also snag some free games for you or your loved ones. If you’re interested in learning more about Evolution: The Video Game, or other North Star Games Products, be sure to visit the appropriate app stores or their website for photos, gameplay videos, and future updates.

Schmidt Spiele has announced the first expansion for their Kennerspiel Award winning board game, The Quacks of Quedlinburg, called Die Kräuterhexen (The Herb Witches). Quacks blew up the board game world when it hit in 2018, not only for being a simple yet engaging push your luck bag builder, but because it was super-designer Wolfgang Warsch‘s THIRD nomination for Spiel that year, joining The Mind and Ganz Schön Clever. In Quacks, players pull ingredient tokens from a bag and add them to their cauldron, knowing that too many cherry bombs will make the cauldron explode. When a player stops, they earn points and money to buy new ingredients. Kräuterhexen adds a much requested fifth player to the game, as well as higher value pumpkins, new ingredients such as the variable value “fool’s herb”, and the ability to request help from the witches. Players are given 3 Witch’s Pennies, which are worth points at the end of the game, but can be spent to get special powers, such as the ability to drink a potion after blowing up the cauldron, or reducing the drop advance price to a single ruby. Look for Die Kräuterhexen later this year, and for more information and images check out Schmidt Spiele’s webpage here. No information is currently available for the English version, expected to come at a later date from North Star Games.

Also from Schmidt Spiele and the ludological deity Wolfgang Warsch is the just announced title Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal (The Taverns in Deep Valley). This dice game takes place in the deep valley, where players need to attract new wealthy patrons, hopefully gaining enough money to expand, and go for the big fish – the nobles. Is it better to focus on a nice tavern, or to keep the beer flowing to keep the regulars happy? And which expansions are the best to build first? Players need to choose the correct dice, and develop their personal deck of cards. Five included modules allow each player to set their own difficulty. Given Mr. Warsch’s track record, Tavern should be an interesting game.

The winner of the 2018 Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel award, The Quacks of Quedlinburg, has an English edition coming to retail soon from North Star Games. Quacks is a combination push your luck and bag builder  board game from master designer Wolfgang Warsch (Ganz schön clever, The Mind), in which 2-4 alchemists draw strange ingredients from a bag to add to their cauldrons. Using the correct good ingredients can earn you money and fame, allowing you to buy better ingredients, however one ingredient too many can blow up your entire potion. Players need to know when to cut and run with the potion they have, and when one more draw from the bag can outweigh the risk of losing it all.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg should hit retail stores any day now, and you can learn more about this award winner on North Star Games web page here.

The Toy Association presented their 2019 Toy of the Year Award nominees. While they have categories for various nominated toys (eg. action figures, collectibles, tech) you are probably most interested in their board game category nominees.

They are:

You can vote for your favorite nominees in all of these categories at their website.

The Toy Association is the not-for-profit trade association, consisting of over 950 members, which represents all businesses that design, produce, license, and deliver toys and youth entertainment for kids of all ages.

Fans of Evolution and North Star Games can now anticipate an upcoming sequel to the richly scientific franchise. Designed collaboratively by Nick Bentley, Brian O’Neill, and Dominic Crapuchettes, OCEANS is billed as their most ambitious game yet several years in the making. While it continues to use Evolution’s excellent theme and art in fun new ways, it will also inter the figurative depth and denizens of the ocean into it’s strategy to create something altogether not for the feint of heart. The game is intended to hit Kickstarter in February 2019 with an anticipated release the following September.

“OCEANS is the latest entry into the Evolution Game Series and, a grand cumulation of effort by North Star Games to design the ultimate gamer’s game. […] Whereas the previous games in the Evolution series were bound exclusively by the science (and the core of this game is as well), OCEANS expands upon it with a new set of cards called “The Deep”. This fantastical set of new cards stretch the boundaries of the game from science, to science fiction by including creatures like the Leviathan and the Hydra.”

However, before the anticipated launch of the crowdfunding campaign, North Star Games is seeking outside playtest groups to ensure the design is as polished as it can be. This additional effort to put their game through more pressure before putting it to Kickstarter further shows the love and care they have in OCEANS and I think it’s a great sign of a good game on the horizon. If you are interested in participating in playtesting, you can follow this link for information and to apply. For even further details, screenshots, and behind-the-scenes looks for OCEANS, be sure to check out their blog and website for all that and more.

One word- many nuances!

Can you match the dude? In Dude,  a one word card game by North Star Games you try to match your dude card with the same dooode card. Or is it dewd? The most matches wins! Test your verbal aptness and your ability to hear intricate differences in the word dude- and add to it the 2 expansions to really test your discernment skills! In More Dude you throw your voice to sound like a pirate, robot, surfer duude and more! In One More Dude you get to add another dude to your game of dudes! Dooode! Definitely a great addition to your party repertoire! I’m laughing out loud as I write this!

Dude, More Dude and One More Dude are available at Target exclusively.

North Star Games previously announced Most Wanted, a poker and western-themed card game.  Now, North Star has provided an October 1st release date for the game.

In Most Wanted, the players are bandits competing to be the most notorious outlaw.   Players acquire notoriety (points) by participating in actions, like robberies or challenging fellow bandits to duels, then simplified poker hands are used to resolve the actions.   Those players that lose a particular action must pay bail, which means they forgo some of their points.  First player to 13 points wins.

Two of the designers of Most Wanted are Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir, which designed another North Star game, Happy Salmon.

Most Wanted is for two to eight players, ages 10 and up.  You can read the original announcement here and view the updated product page and release date information here.

Warsaw: City of Ruins, or Capital if you are buying the Granna edition of the game, is a game all about building and rebuilding the war ravaged city of Warsaw.  If you go to modern day Warsaw you will see that the city is an amalgamation of older buildings, modern buildings, socialist blocks, and more all jammed together in one area.  This makes things look like a mess but also speaks to the people’s resilience as parts of the city got destroyed in each world war.  In the game  Warsaw: City of Ruins you will be playing a tile laying game to build up, and then rebuild your city over the span of six rounds called epochs.  In each round everyone will get a hand of tiles that they will draft from, and once they pick a tile they can either pay it’s cost and build it, or turn it in for some money to be able to build tiles later.  At the end of the round each player’s city will activate and give out points and money based on which buildings you built.  At the end of third and fourth rounds though is when war comes and ravages parts of your city, so make sure to prepare for it.  At the end of the game it will be the person with the most points that will be the winner.

The art of the game is pretty minimal with the city blocks having  having clear colors and icons, and the monument tiles are photos of the actual monuments.  Also if the gameplay sounds family, that is because it plays similar to other drafting, city building games like Fields of Green or Among the Stars, but some new mechanics added in make this game stand out as a unique entry.  If you are going to Origins you will be able to check this game out there, if not then you will just have to wait for it to hit store shelves in August.  Either way you can check out North Star Games’ facebook page for more information.

As it seems to be the thing these days at game companies, North Star Games has announced a new imprint within their company, simply called Happy Planet Games.  The games under this name are said to “raise the happiness level of everyone playing”, which is a lofty and noble goal to have.  The first game that will grace this line is one that is already out, Happy Salmon.  The name Happy Planet derived from the fact that everyone who played the game commented on how fun it was and that they felt happier after playing.  So to continue the warm and fuzzy feelings North Star has announced two other games in the line, Funky Chicken and Monster Match.

Funky Chicken is a new party game n the style of Happy Salmon, but instead of different handshakes now you are performing different dance moves.  You might be bumping hips, spinning people around, or even doing the funky chicken to get your cards played out first.  There is even the possibility to mix Funky Chicken and Happy Salmon to have a really crazy game.

The other is a simpler, but just as fast paced game, called Monster Match.  What’s simple is that in the game you roll a die that gives you some attribute, like three eyes or four arms.  Then it’s a race to see who can find this monster and catch it first.  Each successful capture gets you donut points, and the person with the most points at the end is the winner.

You can find Happy Salmon on shelves now in two different colors, and look for Funky Chicken and Monster Match to make their debut at the New York Toy Fair.  You can find out more in the press release below.

North Star Games Launches Happy Planet Games

Raising the Happiness Level of All Who Play!

Kensington, MD (February 12, 2018) – Set to be introduced at this year’s American International Toy Fair in New York City, North Star Games is excited to announce its new line of games called Happy Planet. It’s not just a new line of games – it’s a brand-new breed of games.

Happy Planet games are unique because they all share one quality: they raise the happiness level of everyone playing. Yes, these games make people happier!

After countless hours of observing people worldwide playing the wildly successful Happy Salmon card game, a 2018 TOTY Game of the Year Finalist, the folks at North Star Games noticed something fascinating: players always commented on how much fun they had and how happy they felt after playing the game – they always had big smiles on their faces. Even those watching the game were laughing and having a great time. North Star Games realized that playing, and even watching, Happy Salmon increased a player’s happiness level. The plan quickly became clear: create games that make people happy.

“Many games are great fun to play, but do they really make people happy? Happy Planet games have the ability to increase a player’s level of happiness” states Dominic Crapuchettes, Founder and Co-President of North Star Games. “We’ve seen it countless times. These quick and extremely fun games instantly get everyone, whether playing or observing, smiling, laughing and feeling energized. As an added bonus, nobody really cares who wins – they just want to play again!”

Funky Chicken and Monster Match join Happy Salmon as the newest members of the Happy Planet line. North Star Games will be playing these games and more at their Toy Fair Booth, #6629.

About Funky Chicken

Take all the excitement of Happy Salmon, add funky dance moves, pack it in a chicken, and you’ve got… Funky Chicken! You’ll be spinning in place, hip-bumping, swinging with your partner and, of course, doing the iconic “Funky Chicken”. Play Funky Chicken by itself or combine it with Green Happy Salmon to create a n- apping, feather- ying good time! Players: 3-6; Ages 6+; Playtime: 2 Minutes

About Monster Match

Monster Match is the screaming-fast game of catching cute, donut-eating monsters. Players roll the special “Monster Dice” and race to find a monster that matches the dice rolled. How fast can you find a monster with 3 eyes…or 4 arms? Just be faster than the other players to win donut points! But watch out… if you go too fast, you might catch the wrong monster and lose your donuts!
Players: 2-6; Ages 6+; Playtime: 10 Minutes

About North Star Games

North Star Games is the publisher of award-winning party, family, and strategy games. Wits & Wagers is the most award-winning party game in history, Evolution is used in the Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Oxford, and Happy Salmon has become a gaming phenomenon. For more information on these games and more, visit www.NorthStarGames.com.