Preview – Beer & Vikings from Albe Pavo- planned for Essen 2012 release!

Preview – Beer & Vikings from Albe Pavo- planned for Essen 2012 release!

Designer – Matteo Santus

Art – Jocularis

It all began last year with Sake & Samurai, a rather wild game about er… a bunch of Samurai sitting around, sampling the local Sake and then getting into a right old fight to the death.

The next installment in this series will be released at Essen and its called, Beer & Vikings, which is a standalone game and also compatible with Sake & Samurai (see my review). Yeah, a bunch of loud, raucous, muscle-bound Vikings are sitting in a pub, pints of beer generously flow and… you know the rest. Shouts of “In the name of Odin, I will send you to Hades!”and all that. It’s pretty violent and very messy, and in a cartoony way, funny. To me at least.

Let’s give you a taste of what you can expect (italics are quotes from the rulebook).


Is it better to have the cask full or the Viking drunk?
In BEER & VIKINGS you are a fierce and thirsty Viking, who will do anything to get the last pint of beer. The winner of the game is the drunkest Viking (in game terms, the player who has collected the most Beer drink counters) at the end of the Sudden Death round. Be wary, though, for drinking too much will dull your wits and martial prowess. Each drink of Beer prevents you from using one of your resources, be it a weapon or an item, or even your personal power! You must always be wary not to drink too much or you risk becoming a defenseless soak at the hands of your enemies. On the other hand, you will be able to burn up (thanks to the ardor of your martial spirit) some of the Beer you have drunk to obtain significant bonuses which may very well save your life. Show yourself as the wise warrior you are and plan your strategy with care, not burning up too much Beer at the risk of finding yourself left behind at the end of the game, when the mug is empty and the Sudden death round begins. Those who will succumb to their enemies’ blows won’t be eliminated from the game, but will become Spirits of Loki, the god of deceit, teaming up with the other Spirits to attack the living, aiming to steal their Beer. And now, let’s raise our mugs (and our axes)!

This is a further development of the Spirits and Warriors system begun with Sake & Samurai so if you have the earlier game, you will be able to kick off on this version very quickly as there are only a handful of changes. Also, you will be able to combine both games and pit Samurai vs. Vikings!

How does it look?

Well, if S & S is anything to go by, Beer & Vikings will be a gorgeous piece of work! A card game, you will find quite brilliant artwork here.

8 Warrior boards
The fierce warrior you portray in the fight for the last mug! Each Warrior board has on its front side the characteristics of the Viking alive.

98 playing cards Card which have two specific and independent characteristics: the Action Boxes in the four corners and the Card Text in the middle. All cards have three different types of back (troublesome, quarrelsome, drowsy) used only by the dead Vikings who have become Spirits of Loki. Icons indicate values for Attack, Defense, Movement and of course, drinking Beer! There are four different kinds of Card Text covering Events, Weapons, Minions, and Interrupts.

4 Location cards
Vikings can go anywhere on their drakkars. If you are tired of getting drunk in a smoke-filled inn, change location!

10 Valhalla Cards
Only the bravest can aspire to Valhalla. The Valhalla cards represent special powers only granted to those who eliminate another Warrior.

You also get Berserk counters, Steps counters (to measure distance between the fighters), and Beer counters (glug… glug… glug…) as well as a fold-able container representing a Beer mug.

The images in Beer & Vikings are very nicely done and have the same sense of humour found in Sake & Samurai.


I won’t go through the rules in detail as you can find them here but the basics are –

DURING YOUR GAME TURN The turn of each player is divided in the following 4 Phases:
1) WARRIOR PHASE: play up to 2 cards – you can Drink, Attack or Move or Play an Event or even chuck a Minion in front of you to take hits on your behalf. Combat is subject to how many steps the fighters are away from each other.

2) MINION PHASE: your Minions move and attack
Minions are less quick and nimble than the Warriors they fight for, therefore they move and attack only after the Warrior Phase.

3) CARDS PHASE: draw 2 cards
Draw 2 cards from the draw pile. If you have then more than 4 cards in hand, discard down to 4 cards.
4) DEFENSE PHASE: select a Weapon with which to defend yourself during the other players’ turn.

Remember: you must play cards to make Actions, even when you want to defend yourself!
During the turn of your opponents, you may:

Perform a Defense Action when you’re attacked

Sacrifice a Minion from your hand when you’re attacked – “Sacrifice”… love it!

Play Interrupts 

Skilled Warriors draw on their last resources if needed, wisely looking for any opportunity to win. They know that the gods favor only the bold Warriors.

Here is where the Beer comes in to draw cards and recover from wounds (dull your senses to the pain more likely).

One per turn (yours or another player’s), you may draw a declared number of cards from your Life Points pile!
Each time your Warrior or one of yours Minions kills an opponent Warrior, draw immediately 2 Valhalla cards, select 1 to place it in your Equipment area and shuffle back the other in the Valhalla deck.
If you lose all your Life Points, your Warrior’s life comes to an end. Will death really submit your spirit? As a ruthless and thirsty Spirit, you may yet win and get back at your opponents!

When a player takes the last Spirits drink from the Mug, the Sudden Death round begins. Each player, except the one who emptied the Mug, has a last turn to play! At the end of the round, the winner is the Warrior who has the most Spirits drinks on his board and cards. In case of a tie, the winner is the Warrior with the most Valhalla cards, other- wise the Warriors with the most Spirits drinks begin a new Sudden Death round, while the others are eliminated!

Even if your character gets the chop, you can still cause problems for the other players.

Golden rule for Spirits
Spirits are now in the afterworld and see everything from the opposite side. During his turn, a Spirit performs in order the following actions:

At any time, a Spirit who is attacked may Dematerialize.
Use the power of Elation Draw a card, Torment a Warrior OR Steal Spirits from the Mug

The victory conditions for the Spirits are the same as the Warriors’, the only difference is that Spirits count Spirits drinks as a team and lose or win together.


Comments from the Designers…

Designing SAKE & SAMURAI has been easy and smooth, the game came out fast and we had a lot of fun while playtesting it.

Roughly in the middle of the design we were considering about what to implement in the game. We talked about monks, ninja, geisha, but it seemed too much for the first release.

So we started thinking about expansions: the first we considered was SAKE & NINJA. But then we thought: “Why remain tied to Japan?”, “Why not change just the Warrior, but not the Spirit?”.

So many ideas came out, but we were sure about the first: BEER & VIKINGS!!!

We designed it wanting to insert new tasty things.

Vikings have axes, and axes can be thrown, so we decided to give a particular ability to axe weapons.

Then Iaido have nothing to do with Vikings. So we gave the Berserk skill to Viking instead the “sitting” counter.

And so on with any new cards that are totally different.

When designing a game, you have to consider two things: the taste and the mechanics. I believe that the first cannot exist without the second and viceversa and the two have to be tied together.

So our effort was to have our Vikings do “Viking things” with interesting, new and functional mechanics.

This is the way in which we design games: taste and mechanics with the same importance.



Many gamers have asked about mead, instead of beer (in the title of course..). But we chose Beer for many reasons.

The first is that beer is “international”, while mead it is almost unknown in many countries and it needs to be translated. In Italy, for example, mead has a completely different name, it’s called “idromele”.

The second reason was that beer was a sacred drink for Vikings and really representative too.

Last but not least, we decided to bring honor to the mead dedicating to it a new Valhalla card.


So there you have a taster of Beer & Vikings.

I have high hopes for this game as I enjoyed Sake & Samurai. In fact, I prefer the Vikings theme. If you are looking for a relatively easy close combat game with quick but thoughtful card play, and a good sense of humour, Beer & Vikings could be right up your street. It looks to be even more wild and crazy than S&S and doesn’t appear to take itself too seriously and this mix, which will play like Sake & Samurai, should be a fun game to play.

I will publish a review of this game once I can get a copy.

Preview – Winter Tales from Albe Pavo- planned for Essen 2012 release!

Preview – Winter Tales from Albe Pavo – planned for Essen 2012 release!

Designers – Jocularis and Matteo Santus

Art – Hide Art and Jocularis


Oh yeah baby!

Out of all the new releases planned for Essen 2012, I have been anxiously waiting for details about Winter Tales from Albe Pavo. Every year that I’ve been to Essen, so far anyway, there seems to be a proliferation of the same old Euro blandness and the list of games promised for this year’s new releases is no different. You know what I mean… yet another worker placement game, another economic stock ownership game, another resource collection game… oh yes, let’s not forget yet another City/Town builder. Yawn… Not my idea of fun.

I tend to prefer something a bit different than the same old Euro boringness and the boys at Albe Pavo certainly have caught my attention. 2 years ago it was Munera: Familia Gladiatoria. Last year it was Sake & Samurai, and this year the first of their two offerings is Winter Tales. Ok, let’s give you a taste of what’s involved by going through key parts of the rules. Italics comes from the rulebook…

Looks Amazing!

From the images I am showing here, you may notice that the art is a bit Tim Burton-like… dark and creepy, yet intriguingly cool! I find the art very interesting and designed to create a very specific atmosphere. Assuming I can get my mitts on a copy, I will talk about the components when I review Winter Tales.

Have a look!


Winter Tales includes 14 characters, 7 Soldiers of Winter and 7 Fairy Tale characters each represented by a card.


Overview From the rules –

Winter Tales is a storytelling game. It is neither a strategy game nor a resource management game. If you like to use your imagination and tell stories to spend a memorable evening with your friends, then this is the game for you. If you really want to appreciate this game, let yourself go and create with your friends a story to remember.

Ok, you had me at “story telling game”. I’m intrigued because I LOVE THEME and a good game narrative.

Winter Tales is a storytelling board game for 3 to 7 players. In each game, the players will recount the subtle but merciless war between Fairy Tale characters, who stand for hope and freedom, and the Soldiers of Winter, who embody wickedness and oppression. Each player will belong to one of the Factions in play and will take control of some of its characters, fighting either for the return of Spring or to snuff out all hope and to further the arrival of an everlasting Winter. Each game of Winter Tales is different, because each time you are telling a new story and creating a shared plot, in the first true social storytelling board game.

This sounds like a bit of a new attempt to create a social Story Telling experience for gamers. In fact, it sounds like there is a lot of effort in the design to give you a creative experience, not just a game experience.

Winter Tales involves the player… making him the author of a shared story. The rules include suggestions that will help make the game smoother and the story more plausible, in the end making the game more fun.

Storytelling in Winter Tales is a shared experience. As such, it is much more fun if players listen to each other, accepting suggestions and ideas from others and trying to merge all their plots into one common story. If each player were to concentrate on his own characters, not taking in suggestions and ideas from others and writing a different story, the game would be no fun at all.

So, social interaction seems to be really key to the game. I assume that you will need the right crowd to get the best out of Winter Tales. It sounds like a collective experience far beyond the typical co-operative game, perhaps more in tune with role-playing games, but it doesn’t sound like its about acting. More likely its about creating a narrative and the experience of the game is in the creation of the story. If you like stretching your creativity, this could be a game for you.


Choose the style…

Each game will be different. You can choose to tell a drama, adding touches of anxiety and desperation, or a pulp story, with violence and gore. Do you prefer comedy or horror? You may choose whichever style you prefer, which will give each story its own unique flavour.

The setting…

The game is set in Wintertown, leaning on a hillside facing east, protected from the fierce, cold winds blowing from the mountains, the Town was home to Fairy Tales and Dreams but now its in the grip of the “Regime”. However, Fairy Tales are staging their resistance, working in shadows to allow for the return of Spring.

Key locations where the story will unfold will be – The Fair of Wonders, The Winter Prison, Memory Lane Cemetery, Mad Hatter Asylum, Oaks Park, Dorothy’s Mansion, Nightmare’s Factory and Puppet’s Theater.

Characters come to life for the Fairy Tales of the Spring in The story of Alice after Wonderland, The Story of Pinocchio, the Puppetseer, The Story of the Scarecrow King, The Story of Grandma Dorothy, The Story of the Tin Man and the terrible Chill, The Story of Grumpy and the Ancient People, and The Story of the Return of the Little Match Girl. For the Soldiers of the Winter there are The story of the terrible tyrant Mangiafuoco, The story of Wolf, the veteran, The story of the Fox and the Cat, The story of Snow White, Queen of Winter, The story of the wealthy White Rabbit, The story of Candlewick and his resentment, The story of the Mad Hatter and his Asylum.

The game board contains a map of Wintertown. The Town is divided into several Locations, connected by streets that include Squares. Below the map there is the Memory Track, where cards will be placed to act as Memories. The rightmost space outside the Memory Track is used to place the Epilogue tile in a 7 Memory game.

From the Author: The game board may also give hints for the storytelling: if during a game you look closely at the Location where your character is, or at the illustrations of houses and blocks, you may find it easier to create the story.

Overview of Play

Each Chapter is divided into Turns, during which Players will activate their characters one at a time, trying to complete Quests. While one Player is having their Turn, the others will have the opportunity to step in, initiating Battles and springing Traps to try and hinder the Acting Player. Each successfully completed Quest becomes a Memory, that will have a significant impact on the rest of the game! The creation of the right amount of Memories will trigger the Epilogue, which will include all generated Memories in the story and determine the winning Faction.

It doesn’t sound like there is much downtime as even if it’s not your turn you will have the opportunity to engage with the active player. This is a GOOD thing.

Factions you say??? Yes. There are 3 Factions in the game.

The players will belong to one of the following factions :

Spring – This includes the Fairy Tales, who represent all that is good and positive in the world.
Winter – The cruel Regime that grips Wintertown in its evil clutches includes evil and ruthless Soldiers, who aim at crushing the Resistance and rule over the Town in an endless winter.
Writer – Used only in games with an odd number of Players, this Faction always includes only one Player, who’s goal is to keep the balance between the other two warring Factions, by controlling characters from both Factions. The Writer wants the story to go on, and thus doesn’t want any of the two Factions to win over the other. Now this sounds really interesting, I have to say!


Winning Conditions

The Faction that wins the Epilogue wins the Game. Spring and Winter win if the Epilogue ends in their favour, while the Writer wins if the Epilogue ends with a draw.

Number of players – 3-7

Suggested time – 90 Minutes – allowing for 3 Memories to take place. There are rules for making the game longer but I think that 90 minutes sounds like it is plenty.


I’m not going to walk you through the entire game process as the rules will be posted on Boardgamegeek at some point soon but here are some interesting aspects contained in the game.

1. Help one another – Players are free and encouraged to help each other while telling the story.

2. Set the scene and explain – Each time a Character is activated, the Player must set the scene and explain in the story how the Character intervenes.

3. A nice story comes first – Quality in Winter Tales is what matters most and it is what you should strive for when problems arise. If everybody agrees about some detail that would not be allowed by the rules, these may well be overlooked in the specific case, in order to make the story better.

Other Key Elements

Story Cards
Story Cards are the heart of Winter Tales and are used in all storytelling mechanics. The images were made by children and reflect pure imagination, hopes and dreams, be them good or bad.

From the author: the images depicted on the Story cards were created by two children of 5 and 9. These images give you as much freedom as you may possibly need. We have no desire to constrain your imagination! It is up to the Players (and mostly to the storytelling Arbiter) to stimulate a player to read in the Cards something that may help the story, should they have trouble finding it.

Story Arbiter
All players cooperate to create the best story possible, but it’s up to the Story Arbiter to decide what direction the story should take. The player who is nominated Story Arbiter always has the last word in matters pertaining to the flavour of the plots created by other players, whenever thy cannot agree on one common road


Wintertown is full of weird Locations. There you may feel strongest either the dark presence of Winter or the soft murmur of Spring. These Locations are where the conflict takes place, and from them Tales and Soldier get the strength they need to fight their war.


There is a time and a place to tell a story. But there also is a reason. Quests represent the chances that Characters may take to win against the enemy Faction and create favourable Memories. Quests are the most important inspiration for the stories of Winter Tales. Whenever a Quest is completed, it becomes a Quest Memory.

You want conflict??? There are Battles and Traps!

The Soldiers can initiate Battles to stop Fairy Tales from moving and even to incapacitate them.

Traps are sprung by the Fairy Tales to block the movement of Soldiers and to incapacitate them.

At first pass, the rulebook seems daunting but there are a lot of descriptive examples to help you get the nature of the story telling. The rules seem relatively easy to follow and for those of you who want more depth to your story, there are optional modules that you can add.

Don’t let the size of this rulebook scare you off: most of it describes the setting, and there also are many lengthy examples. Read through this booklet once and start playing using the Summary Sheet, and you will see that the game is actually quite easy to learn.

The basic rules are simple, but you may integrate them with the Modules you will find at the end of the rulebook, which add new mechanics, strategies and story ideas. If, at the end of a game, you are satisfied and think you have created a beautiful story, regardless of having won or lost the game itself, then our efforts will have been worth it.


Here are some notes from the designers…

WINTER TALES came out after a very long history. It will be too long to explain all the different games that WINTER TALES has been. But I will tell you our guidelines in designing it.

The goal was to design a narrative boardgame, something like a cross between a roleplaying game and board game, a game that helps you to create a brand new story with your friends beside a fireplace with a hot chocolate on a cold winter day, a game in which you are free to use your imagination, but not just by (and for) yourself. The imaginations of all players are the bricks with which the story is built. So the game has to help your imagination, and the other players have to help your imagination, even while fighting against you.

The great difficulty in designing such a game is that you have to give it the right level of mechanics.

With too few mechanics depth, it is difficult to tie the narration to something real and the story is too tied to the good will of players: just one lazy player could ruin the story and thus the game.

With too much mechanics depth, it raises the need for concentration, stealing mental resources from imagination and so from the story.

We passed both phases and in the end we reached what to us seems the middle path.

WINTER TALES is still a game in which you have to want to tell a story to receive all the game can give you, but I think that this is a game that helps to tell the story and will be enjoyed by players who aren’t necessarily lovers of narrative games. I can say this because we discovered this to be true during the long playtesting phase (also blind playtesting).

The game is like a tool that helps you to place the imagination’s bricks one near the other, a cement that ties them one to another and helps you to build up a cool and fun story.


So there you go for now…

I can honestly say that Winter Tales sounds different, certainly interesting and I’m looking forward to playing it. I think it will be a rich, fun experience!


Victory Point Games Press Release – Darkest Night now available!

Victory Point Games Press Release – Darkest Night now available!


Darkest Night by designer Jeremy Lennert is a fully-cooperative game for one to four players (up to six with variants), set in a kingdom broken under a necromancer’s shadow. Each player takes on the role of one of the kingdom’s last heroes (nine playable characters), each with a unique set of special abilities, just as they hatch a plan to save the realm.

Searching the kingdom provides new powers and equipment to strengthen you and your party, as well as the keys that can unlock the holy relics and defeat the necromancer. You can acquire many powerful abilities—unique to each hero—that can help to fight the undead, elude the necromancer’s forces, accelerate your searches for items and artifacts, and more.

But ravenous undead roam the realm, and as the necromancer continues to build his power base, he blights the land and his army steadily grows. As the game wears on, the necromancer becomes more and more powerful, creating blights more quickly and effectively. It’s up to you and your party to defeat the necromancer.

Strategize, plan and bring out the best of your abilities to end our Darkest Night!

Click here for all the details and to order Darkest Night.

– Victory Point Games

Victory Point Games Press Release – Boxed VPG Games are here!

Victory Point Games Press Release – Boxed VPG Games are here!


You’ve heard us right – boxed games are finally here! 

At last, the gameplay you know and love has finally grown up and is taking to the shelves. Now you can get your favorite Gold Banner game sealed in one of our boxes, affectionately called the “Crimson Container.” You can check out all the details of one of our Crimson Containers here.What you’ll initially see is an artistic sleeve wrapped around a box, with detailed information about the game and what you’ll get inside. After you’ve given your new boxed game a shake to assess the contents within, you’ll unwrap the plastic and slide the cover sleeve off for your eyes to feast upon the bright red box with our logo and motto printed right on the front. Don’t forget to read the little message printed on the “secret” inside flap of our Crimson Container just as you’re about to open up your boxed game for the first time for that new game smell.
Packaged with Gold Banner components, a mounted (jigsaw-cut) map (plus the paper map, when both are available!) and larger dice. You too can feel victory at your fingertips with a VPG boxed game!
Click here for all the details and to order Gold Banner Boxed Games.
– Victory Point Games

How can Local game manufacturers become more competitive to stop the rot Chinese production delays on KS projects? Post your thoughts and suggestions here…

I will pose the question…

How can Local game manufacturers become more competitive to stop the rot of Chinese production delays on Kickatarter projects (and others)?  

Having just received an update about delays (hopefully not huge…) that Albino Dragon is experiencing with their Chinese production company (apparently the best manufacturer there…) for our game, Ace of Spies, I find myself wondering what local game manufacturers can do to become more competitive and offer a viable alternative to those running Kickstarter campaigns and game publishers as a whole.

I’m no expert but from what I understand, it appears that to make the games being produced affordable, China production seems to be the only way to go. And with the volume of games being successfully kickstarted”, I am wondering out loud whether local game manufacturers need to do more to be more competitive, particularly for small publishers.There seems to be an opportunity for more business here.

Maybe you have some constructive ideas you could post here? There’s a win for supporting local manufacturing, especially in the current economic climate.

A thought I have is I’m wondering whether Kickstarters should cost out Local and Chinese production offerings and timescales and if the local timescale for delivery is sufficiently quicker, charge more for the Kickstarter levels to reflect this. Backers can then see that they will be paying more but getting faster delivery so its worth it. Just a thought anyways…

So, give it some thought and if you have any useful suggestions, feel free to post them.I will point publishers and manufacturers here.



Victory Point Games Press Release – Boxes, Posters and Boards, oh my!


We have rolled out a whole new line of accessories just for you! Now you can buy VPG game boxes (empty), collectible game posters, and mounted game maps (Gold Banner games only).

Game Boxes (Empty)

Our game boxes (the “Crimson Containers“) are assembled by us, folded from pre-cut cardboard (not unlike pizza boxes). These bright red boxes are sure to brighten up your game table and receive a second glance from anyone who passes by (dashing all hopes that it was actually pizza), with our logo branded on the top and a message printed on the inside flap when you open them up.

Our game boxes come in two sizes: Standard and Deluxe.

You can buy individual boxes, or save BIG when you buy a bundle of 6 (of either size)!

Click here for all the details and to order Game Boxes (Empty).

Mounted map sampleMounted Maps

Now you can get a puzzle cut, mounted map of your favorite Gold Banner game! The mounted game boards are affixed to standard counter stock (not the extra-thick stock we’re using for Gold Banner counters, but the standard stock we use for all of our other counters). They are not of the folding variety (hence they are “puzzle-cut”). The pieces fit close together, but they do not “snap” or lock so that they might cause each other damage.

Click here for the list of our Gold Banner games with Mounted Maps.

Collectible Posters


We’ve kept your drinks cool, and we’ve kept your game tables hot with our games and themed dice towers, but now you can really show your love for VPG with collectible 11″x17″ game posters.

Be victorious with these great game posters; 46 in all (and more to come)!

Click here for all the details and to order Collectible Posters.

– Victory Point Games

Boardgames in Blighty news – Press release from Columbia Games – Jerry Taylor interviewed on the “I’ve Been Diced” Podcast

Boardgames in Blighty news – Press release from Columbia Games – Jerry Taylor interviewd on the “I’ve Been Diced” Podcast

Jerry Taylor was interviewed recently on the “I’ve Been Diced” podcast.  The interview is nearly an hour long with details about the history of Hammer of the Scots, Crusader Rex, and Richard III.