Vlaada Chvatil

Fans of the classic Vlaada Chvátil game Mage Knight (2011) rejoice, for Wizkids has announced a new Ultimate Edition of the critically acclaimed exploration and adventure card game. Mage Knight has been an evergreen release, inspiring a Star Trek re-implementation in 2016, and staying in the top 25 at Board Game Geek.

With this comprehensive Ultimate Edition, we will be releasing Mage Knight in English, Spanish, Polish, Czech, German, French, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese, and Italian! Now you can get Mage Knight in your preferred language and make your playing experience that much easier!*

In Mage Knight, 1-4 players take on the role of  the Mage Knights, role-playing by drafting cards and deck building, in order to create an army to take over their corner of the Atlantean Empire. Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition contains the base game, expansions The Lost Legion (2012), Krang (2013) and Shades of Tezla (2015), a new comprehensive instruction set, miniatures with alternate paint jobs, as well as 5 new cards.  For more details, check out the WizKids web page here, and look for Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition this December.

The official Harry Potter edition of Vlaada Chvátil‘s wildly popular and award winning game Codenames is now available in your friendly local game store. Codenames: Harry Potter is actually more a variation on Codenames Duet, being a cooperative puzzle game for 2 wizards. Players take turns trying to locate 15 hidden members of the Order of the Phoenix among a 5×5 grid of both picture and word cards, using their side of the key card. Players give single word clues, along with a number referencing how many cards relate to the clue. The clue receiver can pick multiple cards, but must stop after an incorrect pick. But beware, because the game is instantly lost if the Black Card is picked, leading the players down Knockturn Alley to the waiting Death Eaters. Players win if they find all 15 members before 10 incorrect guesses.

Codenames: Harry Potter is available now, and more information is available on the USAopoly webpage here.

In August of this year the International Gamers Awards (IGA) committee announced the finalists for the 2018 IGA Awards.

“The International Gamers Awards were founded in 1999 for the express purpose of recognizing outstanding games, their designers, and the companies which publish them. The awards have gained widespread acclaim and have helped bring these outstanding games to the public’s attention.” [source]

The winner in the Multi-Player General Strategy category was Rajas of the Ganges. This game, designed by the husband and wife team of Markus and Inka Brand, with stunning art by Dennis Lohausen, was published by HUCH!. It has players represent powerful nobles who are gathering resources and wealth. Rajas of the Ganges also got the Seal of Approval from Tom at the Dice Tower.

The winner in the 2-player General Strategy category was Codenames Duet, designed by Vlaada Chvátil and Scot Eaton, with art by Tomáš Kučerovský, and published by Czech Games Edition (CGE).  In it, two players attempt to decipher the identity of their agents hidden behind a card with a word, by guessing those words based on one-word clues. Assassins are hidden in-between the agents which end the game when revealed. The crew at the Dice Tower have spoken well of this game numerous times as well.

You can learn more about the International Gamers Awards, the awards categories, and other nominated games, by visiting their website.

Released in 2012, CGE now takes Pictomania and dresses it anew with its second edition! With a brand new design and at a lower price point, families will get to enjoy the fast paced game of drawing and guessing at the same time with this brand new edition!

Pictomania gives each player a certain word or phrase, then, simultaneously, everybody tries to draw it. Are you an artist? Do you draw bad? It’s fine! This game evens out talent by being a real-time game! Everybody draws and guesses what the other players’ drawings are, giving out points to everybody who finishes fast and guesses correctly.

Curious to know when this game will come out or what the changes are? Head on over to their website here for more details.

WizKids announced the release of the ultimate edition of Mage Knight Board Game. If you’ve missed out on getting this game and its expansions this edition includes the base game and The Lost Legion, Krang, and Shades of Tezla expansions all in a single package which will dominate your board game shelf. Mage Knight Board Game is designed by Vlaada Chvátil and supports 1-4 players, aged 14+.

“The Mage Knight Board Game throws you and up to three other Mage Knights into the sprawling and ever changing world of the Atlantean Empire, a land that is but a distant memory since your transformation into a mysterious Mage Knight. Build your armies, defeat bands of marauding enemies, and eventually conquer cities in the name of the mysterious Void Council.” [source]

This edition also features comprehensive rules text for the base game and expansions as well as 5 all-new cards, alternate paint jobs, and a significantly reduced price. WizKids will also be teaming up with publishers around the world to release Mage Knight Board Game in English, Polish, Spanish, Czech, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian. Considering the heavily strategic nature of this game having the content in the players native language will greatly add to its enjoyment.

Mage Knight Board Game: Ultimate Edition is expected to release in English in September 2018. Release dates for other languages have not yet been made known. For more information check out the WizKids website.

Czech Games Edition has announced several new games and expansions coming in the next few months.

Pulsar 2849 is a new space based euro game from Vladimír Suchý (Prodigals Club, Shipyard). 2-4 players explore space, build megastructures and discover alien technologies, using a unique dice drafting mechanic. Each round, players roll dice and sort them according to value, and draft with each number corresponding to an action in the game. Expect Pulsar 2849 in Q4 2017.

Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends by Vlaada Chvátil has a new expansion coming, Etherweave. This third expansion brings a new faction and a new mechanic. Warp Effect allows a player to manipulate time, using the effect of a not-yet-summoned being right now. Be careful and do not destroy causality – once you use the effect, there are serious punishments for failing to summon the future being. Expect Tash-Kalar: Etherweave in Q4 2017.

Adrenaline, the 2016 hit FPS simulator by Filip Neduk, also has an upcoming expansion, adding a sixth player and several new elements. Adrenaline: Team Game Expansion promises a new player character, simultaneous team play, a new poison damage mechanism, and character specific weapons and gadgets. The new expansion is due to hit the streets in Q1 2018.

Finally, CGE has announced a digital version of their mega-hit game Codenames. The new computer version promises online matchmaking or play with your friends. CGE also promises the already large word list will be easily expandable. Additionally, a Codenames Gadget App is available for iOS and Android from CGE, providing random key cards and a timer. Interested players can sign up for future news about Codenames Online here.

 

Vlaada Chvátil’s fantastic civilization building game Through The Ages now has a digital version available. Through the Ages is easily considered one of the best board games of recent history, having its newest edition ranked at #2 on BGG. Czech Games Edition has made the mobile app available for both iOS and Android. You can read the full press release from CGE here.

Along the same vein, Temple Gates Games and Rio Grande Games have announced a digital version of Roll For The Galaxy. The popular dice game version of Race For The Galaxy hit the board game world by storm in 2015, and has consistently been at the top of the charts. The digital version will be made available for iOS, Android and Steam, and is being designed by Keldon Jones, who was responsible for the AI on the Race for the Galaxy app. You can read the full press release here.

Z-Man Games has announced the new 2018 Season of Pandemic Survival. Pandemic Survival is the competitive team version of the award winning cooperative classic, pitting teams of 2 against the same scenario: same roles, same cards, same infected cities, same situation.  Tournaments are held across the glode, leading up to the World Championships, with the grand prize being a trip to any city on the Pandemic map. For more information on the 2018 Survival Series, read the full press release here.

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.

The winners of the prestigious Spiel Des Jahres and Kennerspiel Des Jahres have been announced.

Codenames by designer Vlaada Chvatil published by Czech Games Editions won the Spiel Des Jahres (German for Game of the Year).  This team party game has seen great success thus far having one a number of Dice Tower Awards as well.  Having already picked up placement in Target stores this award can only aid in its uptake with the non-hobby gaming public.  This win was not overly surprising as a result of the overwhelming popularity seen by the aforementioned items.

Isle of Skye: From Chieftan to King by designers Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister Published by Mayfair Games/Lookout Games won the Kennerspiel Des Jahres (German for Connoisseur Game of the Year).   This game has received critical acclaim from many within the gaming community.  This win was more surprising as a result of the competition it received from both Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and T.I.M.E. Stories.

For more information you can visit the Spiel Des Jahres awards pages for Codenames here and Isle of Skye here.

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Mage Knight the Board Game was released in 2011 by Wizkids. It was designed by Vlaad Chvátil (Dungeon Petz, Galaxy Trucker, and the recently released and popular Codenames). Mage Knight the Board Game was based upon the previously-released Mage Knight miniature war-game (also released by Wizkids). The board game, however, packaged the theme into a fun exploration game that combined elements of deck-building and dungeon crawling (although based in an outside terrain). There were various missions and play was primarily cooperative (also allowing for solo play). All-in-all, Mage Knight has been one of my favorite games and definitely a keeper.

Wizkids has released several expansions to Mage Knight the Board Game to keep the game fresh and alive however only recently was a new “re-skinning” of the game introduced in the Star Trek universe. Star-Trek: Frontiers, announced last year, has recently been released and is available to purchase. One of the lingering questions has been whether this new release is worth the wait? Is it something that Mage Knight TBG players would want to pick up? Is it tailored to new players? Much like a previous article I did several months ago (comparing versions of the new Star Wars Risk games), I will attempt to illustrate the comparisons and answer, in my own opinion, the questions I raise above.

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Right from the start, Frontiers is boxed quite a bit differently from your standard “box-and-lid” board game. It features fold-out flaps that sport a lid that lifts (rather than detaches). Whether that is to your liking, I’ll have to leave that up to your opinion. Me – I prefer a removable lid. That aside however, the insert for the game is similar to that of its predecessor and is, I must say, amazing. It has removable trays with some of the trays even sporting lids. I realize this may be a minor point, but I was really impressed by the warning label on the rules bag that stated “This is not a toy” and that it could lead to suffocation of little children. Being a father of 8 myself, I thought this was clever (See first image at very top)

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The tiles are exactly the same in quality and thickness – with only the artwork, obviously, being different. That said, the artwork is amazing and the various elements (including the tile backgrounds) are intricately done. Unlike MK:TBG, where movement costs are based upon terrain of plains, mountains, forests, etc – ST:F movement costs are based upon things such as asteroids, planets, black holes, etc.

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An early question I had was as to how they were going to replace mana crystals in the game. Well, they achieved that by using data tokens (pictured on left, above). This was a bit of a stretch for me, personally. White data is meant to represent the “Captain’s Innovation” whereas purple data is meant to represent “risk and improvisation”. Although they don’t look as cool (IMO) to the crystals of MK, they suffice and are of good quality. That they represent “data” took a little getting used to but makes sense thematically and, at the end of the day, it’s just the currency of spells (in this case skills) and such. Below is a picture showing the difference in die sides (Note: I realized, after the fact, that I had shown the blue mana die side twice) with ST:F on the left and MKTBG on the right.

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Of particular interest will be the difference in miniatures. In lieu of the different knights, ST:F presents you with factions (each represented by a different ship and tokens – see below). Borg Cubes (which are an extremely nice feature) are added in lieu of castles/keeps. Players are captains of their own faction (Picard, Sisko, or either of two Klingons -represented by a miniature and associated tokens ). Missing in upper-right is the yellow Defiant/Sisko tokens. Each faction will be composed of both regular and special members (ie Federation officer vs William Riker).

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Play is similar in that turns will be comprised of movement and action with actions being fueled (as mentioned above) by data. Diplomacy can be used to interact with other races that are encountered. Combat will occur with Romulans, the Borg, and various other classic Star Trek enemies. Leveling is similar (using tokens) that will grant extra actions and, bonus tokens, and crew – all based upon gaining experience for your captain. Reputation is gained and lost based upon your actions and all this is marked on the game board (pictured below).

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There’s much much more to this game than using the components listed above. Combat, moving around (flying around), encountering enemies and allies, recruiting members, leveling up – all this just scratches the surface of the depth of the game. I played solo as well as with three of my older boys (cooperatively) and had a blast – and all this after having played Mage Knight. Interesting to us was that, even though “mechanically” the games were identical – thematically, it felt like a completely different experience.

So, should you purchase it? For those that are Star Trek fans – this is a no-brainer, regardless of whether you own MK:TBG. If you have neither and are curious which to pick up, I would suggest choosing whichever flavor of science fiction you prefer – space or fantasy. The big question that everyone’s going to want an answer to is whether to pick this up if you already own MK:TBG. My suggestion would be if you’re a big fan of the mechanisms used in the game, then yes, this is an absolute “have-to-buy”. If you’re more of a fan of the theme than the mechanisms in MK:TBG then this new re-skinning probably will not appeal to you (again, unless you’re a die hard ST fan). In my opinion, this is a gorgeous game and doesn’t, at all, feel like a slopily-pasted on theme just to make a buck. You can definitely tell a lot of time and effort was put in to this re-boot of the game and that cards, factions and enemies were carefully chosen. At first I thought that “Data Tokens” would be hard to swallow – but it really fits in thematically with the actions for which they are fueled.

For me, this is a definite keeper. The game system is fantastic and beautifully mixes deck-building with action-point system with exploration. It will satisfy those that like coop, solo, or PVP gaming!