UK Board Game News – Chaos Publishing Press release – New 2012 edition of Medieval Mastery available at Essen!

News – Chaos Publishing Press release – New 2012 edition of Medieval Mastery available at Essen!

“We are happy to officially announce the new multi-lingual edition of Medieval Mastery! This edition will be released at Spiel 2012 and will feature high quality production values, a revised design and stunning new artwork by Gary Simpson and Miguel Coimbra… we even have a new description:

“Medieval Mastery is a board game of tactical conquest based on the feudal system that existed in Europe throughout the Middle Ages.
Set in France, during a time of turmoil, each player assumes the role of a provincial lord as the country erupts into a war of succession.
Send your brave knights forth to conquer the surrounding lands in an all-out struggle to claim the throne!”

After receiving such a great response from our initial print run, we have put a great deal of time and effort into preparing a second, refined edition that will allow the game to be distributed to stores worldwide.

Also, we’ll be setting up an indiegogo campaign in the next 2-3 weeks and will be looking to promote our project much as possible.”

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UK Board Game News – Richard Denning’s The Great Fire of London Game 2nd edition on Kickstarter

News – Pandasaurus Games have bought the rights to UK designer Richard Denning’s terrific game, The Great Fire of London and are raising funds on Kickstarter to publish a 2nd edition.

Pandasaurus Games plan to print 2000 copies of a new 2ndedition which will correct the colour issues with orange and white houses as well as presenting the game to a US audience.

From the Kickstarter page –

“Great Fire of London is coming to kickstarter because it’s the only way the game is going to get a release in the United States.  Despite great word of mouth, a strong showing at Essen 2010 and strong demand the game has never been released in the United States.

The game was also marred in production issues with it’s European print run.  A board that doesn’t lay flat, a box that is over sized and components of the wrong shape, size and color made the European release less than perfect.  We’re going to fix that with this new print run and finally give the game the look, feel and quality components that it deserves.

The kickstarter is going to help us raise money for the printing, shipping and distribution costs of Great Fire of London.  Without your support this game will continue to be unavailable in the United States. “

Richard will have copies for UK and Eu / worldwide distribution from about march and certainly in time for UK Expo 2013. RRP would be circa £38 plus postage for the new game.

If you are interested, Richard still has copies of the 1st edition at about £20 plus P+P available at the mo. Contact him on Twitter @RichardDenning

Here’s a link to the Kickstarter page – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/872179144/the-great-fire-of-london?ref=live

Why I think that the DiceTower Awards are important…

Why I think that the DiceTower Awards are important…

Boy we’ve got it good nowadays, we board gamers. There is a real wealth of games out there and the variety is terrific. There are literally games to suit every taste and every age. Quality games. Interesting games. FUN games. It’s really fantastic.

One thing we don’t do well enough as gamers is celebrate and recognize excellence. Too busy gaming I guess. Yes there are the Spiele des Jahres Awards which are recognized as very important in Germany. And it does mean that the winner of the 3 SDJ award categories will shift a lot of units. But to the general public outside of Germany, this is pretty much meaningless, although useful to gamers for sure. Also, there are only 3 categories which cover the Family game of the year, “Gamer” game of the year for more advanced games and Children’s game of the year. Useful as these are, the variety of categories is such that it leaves a lot of lost opportunities to inform regarding all the aspects that go into creating games. Like the Oscars and the Golden Globes recognize the many aspects of creating films and TV.

Yes, there are the Boardgamegeek Awards but to be honest, BGG is a relatively horrific website to negotiate unless you are familiar with it and also it is very prone to devolve into slanging matches over opinions over games rather than just celebrating the achievements. Also, it is not an inviting website for non-gamers in any way if I’m honest. You need to persevere.

Then there are various other smaller awards, usually associated with game conventions which largely require game companies to submit games for consideration and seemingly loose criteria to be considered. So they tend not to consider the whole range of games published across a given year and makes a nonsense of the awards. The Origins Awards, have been slammed as being completely irrelevant, for example. I would say that about many of the awards out there really.

So where does that leave us?

Well, I really think that the approach that Tom Vasel is taking with the DiceTower Awards is very helpful and certainly the most accessible. Tom is clearly trying to make these awards a useful guide to excellence in board games across many categories and has a large group of judges behind him to assess the many games published over a given year.

The purpose of the awards is to:

  • Encourage new developments and innovations in the board game industry.
  • Promote board and card games to a larger audience
  • Award the best games in different categories released each year.
  • Present a slate of games with wide appeal from a variety of genres.
  • Point out games that are simply fun!

The categories winners for 2011 are:

Best Game of the year – Eclipse

Best Family Game – King of Tokyo

Best New Game Designer – Flash Point Fire Rescue

Best Game Reprint – Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War

Best Production Values – Mansions of Madness

Best Small Publisher – Flash Point Fire Rescue

Best Party Game – Dixit Odyssey

Best Game Expansion – Summoner Wars Master Set

Most Innovative Game – Risk: Legacy

Best Game Artwork – The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Best War Game – A Few Acres of Snow

Best Game Theme – Flash Point Fire Rescue

Best Digital Board Game – Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

Its certainly not perfect but I already think this is the best of the awards and a great reference if you want to look for the best games available to spend your money on. Listening to Tom on his podcast, its clear that this is all still an evolving work in progress. The variety of categories is interesting and recognizes a number of aspects that go into board games.Its not limited to games submitted. Its not a popularity contest. Tom himself admits that the winners aren’t necessarily his choices. The Dice Tower podcast is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. The website is accessible and the approach is welcoming. These are all important points to help broaden board gaming’s appeal which neither the SDJ nor BGG awards do as effectively.

This is the kind of awards that we need as they are accessible, useful and I would not have any worries about pointing my non-gamer friends to. It’s an easy choice really.

Do we need more awards to raise awareness? No! This just confuses matters. What we need is a useful set of awards which is much broader and accessible than the SDJ and a lot easier to navigate and less insular than the BGG awards. I heartily recommend that we should do all we can to support and promote the DiceTower Awards as the best representation of our wonderful hobby!

Press release: Spiel 2012 announcements from White Goblin Games

Major Rattus announcement coming soon!

White Goblin Games announces new titles for Spiel 2012.

2e Exloërmond, The Netherlands – This past year, Panic Station has been a big hit in board gaming communities worldwide. The game got sold out even prior to its official release through White Goblin Games, at Spiel 2011, in October. But also other games from the company that have been released at Spiel 2011 have been very successful: Lost Temple, Dragon’s Gold and Rattus Africanus soon sold out after Panic Station and have already been in reprint. In the meantime the excellent 2 player game Revolver is getting really raving reviews from all over the world. Licensing rights of these games were sold to publishers in North America, Czech Republic, Germany and more. So what’s White Goblin Games up to at Spiel 2012? The answer can be found on their Facebook page really soon…

 

From Monday July 30th until Monday August 6th, each day, White Goblin Games will reveal a brand new title with a release being planned at Spiel 2012 on the company’s Facebook page. That makes 8 brand new games in total. The ‘big bang’ is expected on Monday August 6th at 7 pm CET, when the company will do a major announcement for all the fans of Rattus worldwide! The Facebook page of White Goblin Games can be found at www.facebook.com/whitegoblingames

For Twitter updates, go to www.twitter.com/white_goblin

 

Pre-orders for these brand new titles will be taken as of August 6th, with also some exclusive ‘older’ promo’s being available for the fans of games like Inca Empire, Norenberc and more. The company will for example offer the last few copies of the bonus sun event cards for Inca Empire, a former International Gamers Award nominee. Those will also be available from the pre-order page that will be launched on August 6th too.

 

Of course, like previous years, pre-orders can be shipped to any location in the world or be collected at Spiel 2012.

The White Goblin Games booth at Spiel 2012 can again be found at exactly the same location as the past few years: 5-01. Spiel will take place from October 18th until October 21st.

 

White Goblin Games

White Goblin Games is an international publisher of board games and card games, based in the Netherlands. The company is well known for co-developing titles like Rattus, Panic Station, Revolver, Lost Temple and Crooks, all being 100% White Goblin Games releases. While the company sold licensing rights to for example Stronghold Games, Z-Man Games, Pegasus Spiele and Rexhry, White Goblin Games also publishes games under license in the Netherlands and Belgium (like Forbidden Island, Mondo and Jambo). Under the moniker ‘White Goblin Distribution’ the company also distributes games throughout the world and also operates as a distributor for Cwali, Redakai / Spin Master and Pearl Games in the Benelux.

 

 

 

Ends

 

More information:

 

Media contact information (not for publication):

  • For questions and more information regarding this news item, please contact Bart Nijssen through bart@whitegoblingames.com or call: +31 6 31 96 27 59

 

Press release: Spiel 2012 announcements from White Goblin Games

 

Victory Point Games press release – The Battles of Aspern-Essling & Wagram, 1809

The Battles of Aspern-Essling & Wagram, 1809

http://victorypointgames.com/details.php?prodId=214

When the capture of Vienna failed to bring the Austrians to the bargaining table, Napoleon sought more direct means of ending the War of the Fifth Coalition. His first attempt was a nearly impromptu effort to force a crossing of the Danube, then in full spring flood, with the handful of forces that were immediately available. Almost predictably, the resulting battle of Aspern-Essling resulted in a crushing French defeat. Stung by the setback, Napoleon then spent the next month and a half preparing for another assault at the same site, this time concentrating all available troops to ensure his success…

Danube 20, by designer Kim Meints, features both the battles of Aspern-Essling and Wagram, allowing players to examine this pair of critical battles fought just across the Danube from Vienna. The use of “story-driven” random event cards and the tracking of army morale provide for operational pauses and the “friction of war” to give players a great feel for the parry-and-thrust of a Napoleonic grand battle as the armies close to bayonet-point to see which will break first!

Click here for all the details and to order Danube 20.

– Victory Point Games

Review – 1989: Dawn of Freedom from GMT Games

Review – 1989: Dawn of Freedom from GMT Games

Designers – Jason Matthews, Ted Torgerson

Art – Donel Hegarty, Rodger B. MacGowan, Leland Myrick, Mark Simonitch

GMT games provided a copy of this game for review purposes

Twilight Struggle… I’ve never played it, but I’ve read enough and spoken to other gamers to know you can say no more as GMT’s giant of a game about the Cold War set the bar very high in terms of card driven war games. So what next? Well, a new take on the Twilight Struggle system is available in 1989: Dawn of Freedom, a 2- player game for ages 12+ (I would recommend 14+) focusing on the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

I was very interested to try this game out, having watched the events on the news when they all happened. It was quite a time, I must say.

Unboxing

This game maintains and delivers the high standards of production that you would be used to if you have previously played a GMT game.

You get –

2 countersheets with mostly the SP counters and other markers

Rules booklet

22″ x 34″ map depicting Eastern Europe and the Balkans

2 player aid cards

110 strategy cards

52 Power struggle cards

2D6

The quality of all of the components is first class and a pleasure to use in the game. The size of some of the print on the cards is a bit small but readable.

The map shows the different countries and the boxes representing all of the cities where the fight for control takes place. It’s gorgeous!

The cards are sturdy and will survive much shuffling. There are three decks covering the Early, Middle and Late parts of 1989 and a Power Struggle Deck. The images depict many of the events of the time and give a strong sense of the struggle. Fascinating stuff and a joy for history buffs. Some of the events favor the Communists, some the West. The rules are laid out pretty well and there are example illustrations as well as more information regarding the historical events represented by the Event cards. Excellent!

Gameplay

1989: Dawn of Freedom, is not an entry-level game and may overwhelm new gamers but if you play with an experienced gamer, you will quickly be able to get into the flow of the game. Your first play, in particular will be a bit slower and I’d say that you need to set aside 3 hours minimum but its a very absorbing time as you will find yourself reading the cards to gain an understanding of the historical events. So its on the one hand, a game and on the other a history lesson.

The process is involved, but after a couple of turns, it is reasonably easy to follow. The key to understanding the gameplay is the Event Deck. It is really the heart and soul of the game.

From the rules:

In 1989: Dawn of Freedom, the players will recreate the momentous revolutions of 1989. One player is the Communist. He will need to use a wise combination of crackdowns, concessions, and reforms to try to hold onto power. The other player is the Democrat. He will try to use the leadership of intellectuals and the street protests of the students to generate a critical mass of opposition to the regimes in order to launch a revolution. Both players will try to swing the workers to their side. At the start of the game, the Communist holds power in each country. The Democrat will attempt to topple the Communist from power through the resolution of scoring cards. The longer the Communist holds power in a country, the more points he scores. The player most successful in advancing his cause wins the game.

The players set out their starting Support points in various locations (its all about support points) and prepare the 3 Strategy decks (early. middle and late year).

The turn sequence –

1. Deal strategy cards – each turn, players draw strategy cards up to a hand of 8 cards

– You start with the Early year cards and as the game goes on you will add the Middle and Late year cards

2. Play Action Rounds – each player takes an action which comes from playing a card’s event which could be beneficial to either side, or using the value of the card to place support points (operations).

– You will usually have 1 extra card to choose from each turn. Just make sure you do play any scoring cards or you will lose. The asterisked Event cards do go out of the game if the event takes place.

– There are some interesting choices and some tough choices to make as you will be playing cards for ops points that your opponent will benefit from the event.

– Placing Support points is very important and you will need to consider where and when to place your SP’s. You will want to place enough to take control of certain locations before your opponent does but its a tricky balance as you can’t be everywhere and spreading yourself too thin may backfire. Early in the game, the advantage is with the Communist player and they will have more opportunities to build up strength however the momentum will shift and if countries come under Democrat control early, the Communist player will be up against it for sure.

– You can also play 1 card per turn on the Tienanmen Square Attempt table. This is a good way to use a card that would normally benefit your opponent, delaying the opportunity for the benefit to take place until the card is recycled later.

– Various event cards will also give victory points

– When Scoring cards are played, a Power Struggle takes place resulting in one of the players having control of a country. The Power Struggle is a separate mechanic using the Power Struggle cards, comparing cards played first as attacker and then possibly as defender, basically to see if you can outwit your opponent by playing a card they can’t match. For me, this is the clunkiest part of they game and slows things down too much. I would have preferred this to be simplified using a table with die rolls and modifiers. I think it would have kept things moving better. I find the use of the cards adds an unneeded layer of complexity and time.

3. Make extra support checks (if applicable) – these are used to try and reduce the support available in a country for either side

4. Verify held cards – Very important! You must play country scoring cards in your hand on the turn they are drawn or you automatically lose! Playing these cards will determine how much power is available to each player and who takes control of the country.

5. Celebrate New Year’s Eve Party (if applicable) triggers the game end

6. Advance turn marker

7. Calculate final scoring (after turn 10)

Victory Conditions

– Automatic Victory
takes place if a player reaches 20 victory points or if a player is holding an unplayed score card at the end of a turn

– If the New Year’s Eve Party card is played, this triggers the end game and a final Power Struggle takes place and the player in the lead wins

– If neither side has achieved the above, then Final country scoring takes place with the leading player winning
Did it work for me?

To me a mark of a superior game, at least for me anyway, is that I become even more curious about it and I keep thinking about it. 1989: Dawn of Freedom does this for me in abundance. This is a game that gives the players a very rich experience. At first glance, it almost seems like the mechanics dominate, but as you start to see the story unfold, it really brings the game alive and the pressure and tightrope walking impacts both players. There’s loads of historical information on the cards and in the rulebook and its fascinating, riveting stuff. It brought back my remembrance of following events on the news.

I found that the game process was relatively comfortable although it took me a while for it to click as to where I needed to focus my SP build up. After a few turns I felt pretty comfortable. Having said that, I found the Power Struggle process a bit laborious and it felt like it could have been simplified. going through the Power Struggle cards and selecting which to play almost felt a bit like an unnecessary game within a game and stalled the momentum of the strategic picture too much. If this had been simpler, maybe a die roll against a Power Struggle table, would have worked better and made the whole turn more streamlined. It’s not a major problem really but I would it to have been done differently.

Having said this, I still wholeheartedly give 1989: Dawn of Freedom a huge thumbs up. And I say this, never having played Twilight Struggle which I am now looking forward to very much. The strategic scope, the war-game-like feel where you are playing Power Politics is very compelling and successfully gives you a real feeling for the situation. I would certainly think that Twilight Struggle fans would enjoy this game.

Can’t wait to play it again!

Boardgames in Blighty Rating – 8 out of 10

Family friendly?

This is not a family game

For more information, go to – http://www.gmtgames.com/

 

 

Review – Thunderstone Advance from AEG (a solitaire viewpoint)

Review – Thunderstone Advance from AEG (a solitaire viewpoint)

Designers – Ed Bolme, Mike Elliott, Mark Wooton

Art – Jason Engle, Erich Schreiner, Mark Tarrisse, Shane Tyree

Thanks to AEG for providing a review copy of this game

First there was Dominion, which brought deck-building to our attention in a big way. I struggled to enjoy this Spiele Des Jahres winning behemoth of a game, primarily as it offered theme in the artwork but failed to deliver on that level. And I do like my theme.

So along come the inevitable deck-builders to cash in and Thunderstone from AEG is the only one to catch my attention. Why? Because of a cool fantasy/dungeon bash theme which permeates the game. I’ve played a number of times since the first version came out and although not being great at it, have enjoyed it.

I managed to get a copy of the new incarnation, Thunderstone Advance, and thought I’d review the game, solely through the solitaire experience as this, for me is a nice feature.

Unboxing

Before doing that, let’s take a look at what you get inside the box.

For starters, a big difference from the previous versions is the double-sided game board. On slightly easier side, is the Wilderness. Easier in that you lose only 1 attack point (for not having enough light) per each of the 4 spaces in the hall. The Dungeon side has 3 spaces in the hall and you lose 2 points per each space. What a nice change to have spaces to lay out cards in the village. All areas for cards you can purchase are clearly marked. It looks great and gives a bit more of a nice look. There are spaces for the monsters as well as Spells and Familiars too.

Lots of cards, of course dominate the game. The artwork is top class and up to the usual high AEG standards giving you a good sense of the Thunderstone world. The rules are easy to go through and understand (although those new to Thunderstone will need a bit of time to digest the system, not not loads) and nicely laid out. The card text is clear and I personally found them easy to understand in terms of their usage. This games is definitely high quality and speaks to how an “upgrade”, when done well, can be a nice step forward for a game system.

You get –

95 Basic cards

132 Hero cards

103 Monster cards

152 Village cards

28 Special cards

39 Randomizer cards

plastic Thunderstone experience point pieces

What’s new in the Gameplay

The game process is generally the same as in previous versions of Thunderstone but changes have been made –

Bosses – The game is won, not when you pick up a rock, but when you defeat the Thunderstone Bearer, or when the Thunderstone Bearer escapes the Hall.

Dungeon – the wilderness board has 4 monster slots and simplified darkness rules while the Dungeon side has 3 slots and classic darkness rules. Monsters are rated at levels 1-3 to make set-ups more balanced. This helps avoid a stall and gets players into the dungeon faster.

Prepare Action – this additional action has been added and it allows players to put cards from their current hand back on top of the deck to be used next turn.

New Familiar cards have been added and disease cards have been changed to Curse cards.

New starting cards – Militia has been replaced by Regulars, Daggers with Longspears, Iron rations with Thunderstone Shard. These are designed to give more options and get players into the Dungeon faster.

Various minor rules tweaks.

Yes, you can use previous Thunderstone cards with Thunderstone Advance cards.

Solitaire rules

The game is set-up as normal except that the hall is left empty. You see, the AI of the game has a monster moving forward into a hall space at the end of each turn. If the hall is full, the newly revealed monster pushes the monster in rank 1 out of the hall. This monster escapes and attacks the village. This monster card is placed in a pile of escaped monsters which will cost against you at the end of the game. Defeated monsters are added to your own deck.

The main game plays just as well as in previous versions with the basic structure of choosing to go to the village to purchase stuff or helpers to build up your hand, or to go to the dungeon to smash monsters, or as in my case, nit :(. You also can choose to rest or prepare for the next turn.

The game ends when you either defeat the Thunderstone bearer (which is shuffled within the lst 10 cards in the monster deck), or the Thunderstone bearer escapes to attack the village.

You win Thunderstone Advance if your VP total is greater than the VP total of the monsters that have escaped to attack the village.

Did the solitaire version work for me?

I’ve played a number of games with solitaire rules through the years and usually there is a lot of structure required for the AI of the enemy and also for you as a player to get the game to fully work. Not so in this case. The solitaire rules for Thunderstone Advance are very simple and straightforward, and elegant. Don’t that fool you though. It’s screamingly hard, at least at first.

So far, I have continuously been well and truly given the smack down in the solitaire version. The 3rd level monsters are really tough to beat. I also think that I need to learn better which cards to keep, which to ditch to get an optimized deck. Trouble is, you need to do this whilst those monsters are headed for the exit and dinner at the village.

This is a very tense experience. The game play for solitaire is fast and moves along very well. Its easy to get fixed on trying to kill monsters instead of sacrificing, letting some escape, making good purchases and getting a stronger, meaner hand to deal with the monsters. Its going to take me a while to figure out the best choices. Smacked down or not, I found this to be a lot of frustrating, tense fun. The theme is strong as you do have the sense of a fantasy world and monster romp. I couldn’t wait to try again and I actually prefer playing solitaire best of all. The games are short enough that I felt energized to have another go. There is the basic set-up as well as scenarios with a reasonable amount of cards. Hmmm… I might have a go and play 2 separate hands of adventurer cards.

Yes, it is really tough to beat, so not for those looking for a quick win. You will have to earn it and this may be too frustrating for some. I do wonder if the level 3’s are a bit too tough and whether some will be put off. But for me, I just want to have more goes to try and figure out how to beat those rock hard level 3’s. I recommend players should give the solitaire version a go. It is a bit of a puzzle to figure out the optimal deck to win with a load of replay opportunity and divers set-ups. I’ve scratched the surface so far and I want a lot more please. I have to say that I think that I am hooked on the solitaire version of Thunderstone Advance.

Kudos to AEG for keeping the solitaire system very simple, very enjoyable (in a masochistic kind of way) and fun. Overall, this is a very nice upgrade to the earlier Thunderstone system.

Boardgames in Blighty rating for solitaire play – 8.5 out of 10

Family friendly?

No, its not a family game.

For more information go to – http://www.alderac.com/thunderstone/