Monday, December 9, 2013

News Bits: 12/9/2013

As promised, this week's NEWS is back to business and bursting at the seams. Without further ado, the NEWS:

Gravwell release date set for December 20 [Link] This according to the game's designer, Corey Young. For those not in the know, Gravwell was one of the best games I played at Gen Con. I've played it several times since on Futurewolfie's copy he purchased there, and I still like it quite a bit. Review forthcoming, closer to the release date, and it will be a nemesis review (that is, Wolfie and I will both provide an opinion). In the meantime, set phasers to "preorder."



Fantasy Flight Games' annual holiday sale [Link] I don't even like many Fantasy Flight games, and I'm tempted by this... Excellent prices on some tempting games. I'm guessing this one will end soon.

Stronghold Games launches Cyber December sale [Link] Some good-looking stuff here: Milestones, Outpost, Little Devils, and more, all 30% off.

AEG announces next Smash Up expansion [LinkAnd it's a sci-fi double feature! Cyborg apes, super spies, shape shifters, and time travelers will soon be mashed up with whatever other factions you have.

Greater Than Games restocks Sentinels of the Multiverse, other items [Link] Greater Than Games is offering free promos with any order in the month of December. They also have a new item--a plush Mr. Chomps--and have reissued Rook City and Infernal Relics as a double expansion (rather than two separate expansions. Sentinels of the Multiverse is a great superhero game worth trying if you haven't done so already. (Futurewolfie reviewed the enhanced edition here, and we both reviewed the first edition here.) It also sounds like good progress has been made on the Sentinels sidekick app.

MeepleTown interviews C├ędrick Chaboussit (Lewis & Clark) [Link] Another fascinating interview from MeepleTown.

Gaming Trend's play this, not that [LinkThere are all sorts of these lists on the Internet, telling newcomers to the hobby that the board games they thought were great are really terrible and in great need of replacement. Luckily, with this list, I agree with almost all of the replacements (especially the first one--Airlines Europe is fantastic).

Tom Vasel's Top 100 Games of All Time...of all time [Link] This might fall into the category of "curio." An intrepid BGGer has analyzed Tom's lists since 2008 and compared which games appear where to compile a master list ranking every game that has appeared on the lists. I'm not sure how scientific the process is, but it's an interesting exploration, anyway. I've appreciated Tom's reviews through the years (mainly because it's fascinating to see one person's tastes refracted in the massive volume of games he plays).

More 2013 Holiday Gift Guides [Dice Hate Me, Board Game Geek] I look forward to these two guides every year, and I was not disappointed. Some great ideas included herein.

Customer service tips for Kickstarter creators [LinkThis is an excellent post from Stonemaier Games, and really, it extends beyond Kickstarter. Great tips. And it's not just hot air. I've seen firsthand how Stonemaier has handled their Kickstarter campaigns and the subsequent support of their products. They're doing something right: they've got the nouns down (making great products), but they've also mastered the adverbs--how those products are delivered and supported. All that to say, if you care about top-notch service for your customers, you can probably learn something from this.

A 2014 gaming challenge: play ten games ten times each [Link] As a board game reviewer, I'm often forced into playing the new and shiny. It's probably because that's what I usually play that I crave a deeper exploration of games that I already know I love. This challenge encourages that deeper exploration while also pushing players to broaden their horizons (ten games instead of one or two). I'm still not sure I'll sign up for this (I will have 10+ games on my dimes list for 2013), but it's tempting.

Is Kickstarter a store? [LinkThis website seeks to provide the definitive answer to this question.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Click Clack Lumberjack review, FarmerLenny's holiday gaming session reportCandle Quest review, Dungeon Fighter review, Finesse of failure in game design, Click Clack Lumberjack giveaway] We had a full (and great) week last week, including a new giveaway and a new nemesis review (of Dungeon Fighter). This week we have three reviews and a guide scheduled, as well as (possibly) an interview. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note
  • The Manhattan Project: Digital Edition: The Manhattan Project is one of the best worker placement games I've played (see my review), and now it's on its way to iPad and Android tablets. $10.
  • Dark Horse: Rebels and Rogues: This Kickstarter is for the expansion to Dark Horse (reviewed here). Looks to add some interesting bits with reputation. $25.
  • Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age: Tom Lehman's sequel to Matt Leacock's Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age is here. It's very pricey, but might be worth it if you liked the original. (I liked the original, but if this is on a similar difficulty level, I find the price tag prohibitive.) $50.
  • Elevenses: This is a card game about morning tea. I like the offbeat theme and the matching illustrations, though the price for the game is prohibitive to me (one price for worldwide shipping, methinks). 20 AUD for the game.
  • Stak Bots expansion: On Kickstarter is an expansion to Stak Bots. I've not played the game, but it looks cool, and if you have the original game, this will add more to it. 12 GBP.
  • Star Trek: Attack Wing templates: I'm not a big fan of minis games, but I know Futurewolfie likes Attack Wing. These custom upgraded templates look sweet. $44.
  • Privateer: It seems in vogue these days to cancel, retool, and relaunch Kickstarter campaigns. I'm not a fan of this practice, but it seems to have worked for this pirate game, and the game does indeed look pretty cool. $55 gets the game.
  • Hold Your Breath: Another pirate game, but this time the pirates are silly. Yes, these are the same pirates from Walk the Plank and Get Bit. This time they're trying to hold their breath the longest in the water. Looks fun and light, and the price is right. $18.
  • Pixel Lincoln: Re-election: This is an expansion to the Pixel Lincoln game (successfully funded on Kickstarter and reviewed here). $35.
  • Argent: The Consortium: This "wizard-placement" game combines Euro mechanics with variable player powers. It looks dang cool and has already passed its funding goals with almost a month left to go. $50.
What We've Been Playing

  • Impulse: I bought the prerelease version of the new Carl Chudyk game, and I was able to play a two-player game this week. Impulse is a 4X space game that plays in less than an hour. (Our learning game took around 55 minutes, including rules explanation.) Impulse bears Chudyk's signature "cards are multiple things" stamp, with cards acting as sectors (hexes on the board), actions (in the impulse, a shared action track), gems (to boost actions), and reinforcements (to boost strength in battle). I played this game at Gen Con and thought it was brilliant; my second play left me feeling much the same way. The game hinges on choosing shared actions that benefit you more than other people around the table. It's very similar in this respect to Glory to Rome. I was a little foolhardy in this game, attacking my opponent and getting too close to his home sector with my defenseless transports. I lost, but it was still a lot of fun. I can't wait to play this more. (FarmerLenny)
  • Medici: I played Medici with my Friday lunch group this week. It was a five-player game, and I took an early (and commanding) lead. The game was mine to lose, and unfortunately, I took this as a challenge. In the final round, I bid way more than I should have for items that took up way more space in my ship than they were worth. I ended up losing the game by four points. Four points! Oh well. I still think this game is awesome, even though I don't win very often. Actually, I was just glad to beat Andy--this is the first time he's played when he hasn't won outright. (FarmerLenny)
  • For Sale: We had some friends over this weekend, and they requested to play this game. Honestly, I had forgotten I ever taught them this game in the past, but I was fine with bringing it out. We played two games, and after playing, I wondered why this has been sitting on the shelf for so long. For Sale is an auction game in two parts. It's also the best filler game I know of. I'm not sure why the game always involves raucous laughter, but it does, this time because in the second round, when each player blind bids for one of the checks on offer, three of us punted (bidding 2, 3, and 7), while the fourth player bid 28, the third highest card in the game. We all got a good laugh at his expense (including the player himself) and enjoyed our games immensely. (FarmerLenny)
  • Ra: Our visitors also requested Ra, another game I had forgotten I taught them. Ra is one of my top five favorite games, so I was, of course, willing to play it (especially since Futurewolfie hates it so much, so I don't get to play it often). It was quickly apparent that I was playing a different game from the other players. Whereas they were content to let the auction track fill up, I called "Ra!" on almost every one of my turns. My wife called me a shark for my "bullying" tactics, but I assured her that I was just playing the game as intended. I could see which tracks each player wanted, what I thought they might bid, and the dangers of letting the tracks fill any further than necessary. Ra is a cutthroat auction game by the nature of its rules. Well, in the second epoch, I was a little more aggressive than normal in my auction-calling strategy, and the other players all exited the round early, forced into bids by my constant auctions. I was the sole player left in the round with two suns left and four or five Ra tiles to go until the end of the round. I pulled way ahead in this second round (collecting almost all of my monuments--which provided 25 points of my final score--in this epoch), sealing the game in my favor. In the final score, I was far ahead of the others, outstripping any two of them combined. I still love Ra, but after this game, I'm not sure the others do. Ra is definitely the most unforgiving of Reiner Knizia's auction trilogy. I probably should have tailored my play style to reflect the group's, or insisted on a different game. (FarmerLenny)

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