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News Bits: 7/1/2013

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As we approach GenCon, there seems to be more and more NEWS available:

Z-Man unveils scenarios for Pandemic [LinkThis is an excellent way to increase the mileage of an already great and oft-played game. I hope they continue! (Also, check out the new Pandemic insert that will be available in the reprint of On the Brink.)

Supreme Court disagreement on the game Clue [LinkMany people (more than usual?) have been paying attention to our Supreme Court the last few weeks, and the result is this gem about the board game Clue.

Z-Man Games announces Glass Road, a new game from Uwe Rosenberg [LinkThis looks excellent. I really like Uwe Rosenberg’s designs, so I’ll be watching out for more news on this one.

Donald X. Vaccarino reveals Dominion outtakes and updates the secret history of Dominion [Outtakes, Secret history] Once again, this is very valuable from a game design perspective. It reveals a lot about what went into one of the hottest modern designs.

Hyperbole Games posts GenCon 2013 prototype preview [LinkQuite a lot of prototypes will be at GenCon 2013 if this list is any indication. Of those, I’m most interested in trying Scoville, Tessen, and Battle for York, though several others caught my eye as well. (I’ve already played an earlier version of Space Camel ’72 by our own Futurewolfie.)

Tasty Minstrel Games cancels City Hall Kickstarter, plans to relaunch [LinkThis game looks really good, but I was very skeptical of a ten-day “quickstarter” campaign for a new game. I hope the relaunched campaign goes better. (And I hope to try the game at GenCon…)

Theology of Games interviews AEG’s Todd Rowland and Paul Peterson (Smash Up) [Link] Why is the next Smash Up set Cthulhu themed? Find out this information (and more) in this  interview.

Stonemaier Games outlines how to provide “free” international shipping on Kickstarter [LinkTheir solution doesn’t seem like it will work for everyone, but it’s certainly an option for some.

Geek Insight bemoans first-world gamer problems [Link] It’s okay to use bemoans in a headline, right? In any case, check out his list. I can especially relate to the problem of someone wanting to learn a game and not wanting to explain the rules. (This happened Friday night with Glory to Rome–though in retrospect, I probably should have taught it anyway.) Read the list. What others would you add?

Cardboard Republic discusses the qualities of great games [LinkAn article like this pops up every once in a while (I wrote one a while back). This one is well written and hard to disagree with.

Ed P. Marriott discusses the benefits of pretty prototypes [Link] I know, I know: this goes against so much of what you hear, that the way a prototype looks doesn’t matter. And while that may be true to some extent, I don’t particularly enjoy testing ugly prototypes (one reason my designs usually don’t go anywhere). Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games, in his interview with The Dice Tower for Board Game University, said he expects prototypes that come to him to look nice. Anyway, give this a read. (And Ed’s own prototype for Scoville looks great.)

Voice of Experience review contest now posted on Board Game Geek [Link] The goal of the Voice of Experience contest is to solicit critical looks on board games beyond initial impressions and “should you buy this?” decisions. This year the twist is that the contest reviews will focus on light games–fillers, gateways, etc. Anyone out there entering?

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Through the Desert review, Unexpected Treasures review, Android: Netrunner review, Guide to worker placement games] Last week was an excellent week for reviews and guides. This week we’ll have posts every day except for the Independence Day holiday (though, to celebrate, I’ll be reviewing the cooperative Spiel des Jahres-nominated firework game Hanabi). Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
Here’s what I’ve found of interest on Kickstarter:

  • Council of Verona: This one really excites me. It’s a small-box game (which already have a special place in my heart), and it’s set in the world of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I like the theme, I like the look, I like the price. $12.
  • Princes of the Dragon Throne: I’ve been hearing lots about this game over the past year, and it’s now on Kickstarter. And oh man, is it a beast of a game. Tons of components. This is the rebooted version, with wooden components, a money-back guarantee, and a friendlier, $79 pricetag.
  • Kremlin: This is a campaign I’m very excited about (and hope to contribute to before it ends). Jolly Roger Games is Kickstarting the reprint of this satirical political game set in the world of Russian politics. $25 gets the game (and seems a very reasonable price).
  • Paperback: This is another game I think looks great. It’s a deckbuilding word game set in the world of publishing (a world I know and love). $25 for the game.
  • Wok Star: This was originally to be a Z-Man game, but apparently it’s not anymore. It’s coming to you via Game Salute and looks fantastic. This is another real-time cooperative game (in the vein of, but really preceding, Escape). $39.
  • VivaJava: The Dice Game: TC Petty III is back with a new coffee game, this time for 2-4 (instead of 3-8) players. VivaJava missed its niche for me, but this one looks interesting. $30 gets the game, with other levels available for additional swag.
  • The Realmsound Project: This project is seeking funding to provide atmospheric sounds for RPGs. $15 buy-in.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Ra: I don’t know why, but we don’t play this game at work very often. (I have a guess: Futurewolfie’s prejudice against it has endured.) The reason why I don’t understand is that everyone loves this game. In Friday’s game, I was pushed into a heavy monument strategy. (In fact, I scored more points at the end of the game for monuments than I ever have, I think.) I tried to avoid losing points, but I was almost always on the losing end of the pharaohs. At the end of the game, the 25 points I scored for monuments were not enough to overcome the Niles of the first and second player. This game gets better and better, and it gets even better still with players who know what they’re doing. I’ve placed this game in my top five, and it remains there still. I love it. (FarmerLenny)
  • Star Wars: X-Wing: This game cannot hit the table enough. With the addition of new ships to our fleets, we’ve had several heated battles. A complete 100pt game is definitely more satisfying, with a heavy reliance on tactics, backup, and support abilities that makes the setup a whole lot more interesting. In one game my rebels got a few lucky shots off and wiped out Darth Vader pretty dang quickly; in another heated battle in which I controlled the Imperial fleet, we had to call the game early but I managed to destroy a Y-Wing fighter, which can be fairly difficult. Those things are tanks, and it took a lot of concentrated fire to knock it down. Fortunately I had manuevered all my ships into great position. A whole lot of fun and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of the next wave of ships. (Futurewolfie)
  • Innovation: Friday night was the big game night at Futurewolfie’s, and we began the night with Innovation. Wolfie had suggested Glory to Rome, but we decided on Innovation because it’s easier to teach. In retrospect, I think we should have played Glory to Rome as it seems a better game for the group, and while the basics of GtR are harder to learn than for Innovation, the game itself follows a smoother arc. Oh well. I took an early lead in Innovation by using currency to load up my score pile, but having no castle icons on my board hurt me in the early game, keeping me unable to draw better cards. In the end, Futurewolfie beat the rest of us in a proper rout. I love Innovation, but I’m not sure I’ll suggest it again in a four-player context. I think the game is at its best with three players. With four players the game drags a bit. (FarmerLenny)
  • Dominion: The two other guys left early, so Wolfie and I played two games of Dominion. It’s been a while since I’ve played face-to-face (I’ve been playing a lot of Androminion, though). In the first game we chose divergent strategies. Wolfie went for a big money/lots of card draws strategy, which I think would have won had the game lasted longer. He thinned his deck with Count, dropping estates and coppers. I, on the other hand, went with a sifting strategy. Rather than trashing cards from my deck, I used Ventures and very few actions to find the treasures I needed. I won by three points–the estates that I didn’t trash. In our second game, we had the same initial buy: Navigator/Tunnel. (We both wanted early GOLD.) This was a Colony game, but the board was a little strange in that it was really pushing for fat decks. (There were no trashing cards available, there was a looter attack, and Gardens was available.) Wolfie went heavily after gold in the early game, while I decided to go after Cultists (since these were the only chaining cards on the table). I knew I was opening Wolfie up to Gardens, but I took the chance since I thought these might slow down his money. It turned out that it worked. His hands eventually got to the point where he was drawing money, but he usually got 10 coins instead of the 11 he needed for Colonies. This forced him to buy either Provinces or Platinum. In the meantime, I defensively emptied the Gardens and Tunnels piles, which ended the game. I ended up winning by a Colony’s swing. If the game had lasted, he definitely would have had me as he had more (and better) money in his deck. It was great fun to play the game against a real opponent. As diverting as the AI is in Androminion, it’s no match for an intelligent opponent. (FarmerLenny)
  • Hanabi: Apparently FarmerLenny was all about introducing new games to me. My third new-to-me game, this little co-op turned out to be… wildly interesting. I’d love to play it more with more players, but it did create some exciting tension. If you aren’t aware, Hanabi involves playing cards that you’ve never seen, relying only on hints from other players to have any idea of the cards in your hand, which you hold facing the opposite direction. If you don’t play an exactly correct card at the right time, bad stuff happens, and while it was not difficult to “win” per se, it was an interesting challenge to try and score a lot of points. We finished with a modest but not-bad-for-a-first-timer score of 18. (Futurewolfie)
  • Resistance: Avalon: My sister had a party, and at that party we played a good game of the Resistance. We had a lot of newbies so we stuck with “vanilla” Resistance (that is, no Merlin or Assassin), and it was quite crazy. I thought the Minions (which I was) were toast when my sister and I communicated badly and both tossed a fail card on a 4-person quest. It was a long struggle back up the hill, and the 5th round went through 3 teams before a 4th one approved. Fortunately I was somehow able to convince my wife that she and I had to be the good guys out of the 4 people, and I got on the last team by the skin of my teeth. Apparently I’m getting to be a pretty good liar, and my mom doesn’t know how she feels about that. (Futurewolfie)
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I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Man am I glad that you pointed out that Glass Road is by Uwe Rosenberg because I dismissed it as soon I saw a picture of that cover. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but I just can’t help it when I see box art that I don’t like. It took quite a few glowing reviews for me to even consider looking at Guildhall.

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