I've been focusing on publishing the game overview videos that we recorded at FIJ 2019 in Cannes, France — all 110 of them have now been published in this playlist! — and at GAMA Trade Show 2019 in Reno, Nevada — here are three to start us off! — so the regular BGG News posts have taken a back seat for the past few days. To tide you over for now, here are a tetrad of teasers for future releases:
• Belgian publisher Pearl Games has posted another teaser image for Troyes Dice, coming later in 2019. (Here's the first image from Dec. 2018.) You can almost hear all the characters saying, "Join us inside this box. Become one with us..." No?
• Since 2013, French publisher Purple Brain Creations has released nine titles in its "Tales & Games" series of children's games based on classic fables and fairy tales. In 2016 it started a parallel "Purple Brain Classics" line of games based on classic literature that's aimed at slightly older players than the "Tales & Games" line. Around the World in 80 Days was the first title in the series, followed by Oliver Twist in 2017, and now PBC has revealed the third title in this series on Facebook, this being a gilded new edition of Alberto Corral's Michael Strogoff, which Spanish publisher Devir Games released in 2017.
On our new BGG Express YouTube channel, a channel devoted to publication of lightly edited convention coverage videos, I pushed out thirty game overview videos yesterday, with nearly all of those videos highlighting a new or upcoming game that we saw at the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes in February 2019. So many videos!
We used to worry about flooding the regular BGG YouTube channel with these videos, overwhelming subscribers with dozens of links all at once, but that led to me spreading out their publication to such a degree that I'd still be publishing SPIEL videos in January of the following year. Now our goal is to publish quickly, link all of the videos to their respective game/designer/publisher page, then let people discover things as they will. You might not even be aware that such-and-such a game is due out in September 2019, but ideally once it does interest you, you'll find an overview video waiting for you.
Namiji features gameplay familiar to that in Tokaido: Players are traveling along a path that gives them the opportunity to stop and do something, and whoever is at the back of the pack takes the next turn. In that overarching description, the two games are identical. The details are what differ, though, and that's what Claude lays out in this overview video.
I'm sure that some people will say that they don't need more of the same, yet that's not usually an argument people make against something like Dominion, possibly because all of the sets have components that can be mixed together, making the boxed sets feel like one game sold in multiple packages, whereas this will be two separate games (similar to Ganz schön clever and Doppelt so clever, not to mention many Carcassonne titles).
• Bauza visited the BGG booth separately to talk a bit about Last Hope, the working title for a new edition of Ghost Stories coming from him and Repos Production. The prototype for this game was in about as basic a form as you could get — text on black and white cards — and Repos didn't want to show the game on camera, but the designer could talk about what's changing in the game, so he did. The game will have a medieval fantasy setting to differentiate it from the world of Ghost Stories, and the rules have been streamlined to remove multiple pages of details and exceptions that would trip up new players, ideally allowing you to focus solely on your impending defeat.
• Tom Lehmann's Res Arcana from Sand Castle Games debuted at FIJ 2019 and has now been released in retail outlets in France, while the U.S. release should take place in March 2019. At FIJ 2019, Lehmann and publisher Cyrille Daujean played two rounds of the game with me on camera to highlight how it plays and emphasize how I will never defeat them in this game.
I had played Res Arcana twice in pre-production form at BGG.CON 2018, previewing the game afterward, so I had already encountered what it feels like to be thrashed by experienced players. Daujean repeated the experience on camera at FIJ, setting up a combo from the first turn while I was still trying to figure out what my cards did. We'll all get more experience with this game soon enough, though, so perhaps some day I'll be able to come in third...
• At FIJ, we had a somewhat more open schedule than we do at shows like GAMA Trade Show, Gen Con, and SPIEL. I had scheduled more time per game to account for language issues (more on that later), and even doing that I had filled only half the schedule prior to the fair opening. Thus, I spent a lot of my time off camera visiting publisher booths to see who was interested in showing off games that we hadn't previously seen, which led to us showing dozens of prototypes of designs that won't appear in print until SPIEL '19 or even FIJ 2020. Apparently French designers and publishers love to publicly playtest games for months and months, and we got to benefit from that, although it's also caused me to create janky BGG game pages that have next to no info so that I can link the videos to them.
Anyway, one of the benefits of having so much open time is that we didn't have to focus solely on gameplay presentation. Thus, I scheduled time with artist Julien Delval to highlight the art that he created for Res Arcana, while also talking about some of the other work he's done over the past twenty years. In retrospect, I should have been better prepared and lined up questions in advance, but that's a lesson for the next time that I have such an opportunity.
• Thomas Planete's pick-up-and-deliver game Turbulences, co-designed with Samy Maronnier, was something I spotted while walking the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, and given the elaborate nature of the prototype, I knew we wanted to put it on camera as a still photo wouldn't do it justice. Planete creates many interesting dice as well as other all-wood gaming bits, and I was glad to feature a look at this unusual game that will be heading to Kickstarter sometime in 2019.
• One of the highlights of FIJ 2019 for me was getting to host designer Claude Leroy, creator of the fantastic abstract strategy game Gygès, to talk about the new Cosmoludo publishing line that is re-releasing some of his older titles while also bringing new games to market — or perhaps all of the titles have been previously released and we just don't have all of them in the BGG database as French-only abstract strategy games possibly don't have a huge fanbase on this site. We recorded overviews of three specific Cosmoludo titles as well, and those are among the 22 FIJ 2019 videos that remain to be published on BGG Express.
I greatly appreciate Leroy coming on the BGG livestream to demonstrate the games. Every time we post videos that feature non-native English speakers, we see a few comments from folks offended that the companies didn't have someone "competent" in English on hand to present their game, but I am incredibly thankful for all the effort that designers and publishers make to present their games on camera. They're passionate about what they do, and often they want to be the ones who present the games. I'm happy to trade some amount of fluency for passion because while you can generally find fluency anywhere, it's hard to replicate the passion that creators have for their work, and I'm glad that we can showcase it in the convention coverage that we do.
Following the revelation of not one, but two forthcoming licensed versions of Talisman in the past few weeks, U.S. publisher The OP (née USAopoly) has now revealed that it has yet another license coming to tabletops in the near future thanks to the scheduled Q2 2019 release of Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game.
This game is based on the original Die Hard movie from 1988, and as you might expect, it's a one-vs-many design for 2-4 players in which John McClane faces off against a group of armed individuals in a skyscraper. A summary of the gameplay from the publisher:
Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game uses one-versus-many, asymmetric gameplay to pit protagonist John McClane against others acting as thieves who are co-operating to foil the hero's plan, which is to save the hostages in the iconic Nakatomi Plaza high-rise. Movie buffs and hobby game enthusiasts will appreciate the game's distinct homage to the 1988 film, which packs rules and gameplay to the air vents with callbacks to Die Hard's most memorable scenes, characters, and events.
The game follows a three-act structure similar to the movie itself, and we'll publish an overview video of the gameplay that we recorded at GAMA Trade Show 2019 once the embargo on that item ends. For now, I'll leave you with this example from the press release of why movie executives aren't necessarily the best people to quote when trying to get players excited about a game announcement:
Federico San Martin, Vice President of Global Toys and Hardlines, 20th Century Fox Consumer Products added: "The Die Hard board game from USAopoly provides an engaging touch point for fans seeking a nostalgic trip back to Nakatomi Tower and, three decades after the film's release, allows a new generation of fans to play a unique game experience showcasing this incredible property."
Update, March 19: Player count adjusted to 2-4 instead of 3-8 following a correction from the publisher; the box image now shows a playing time of 60-90 minutes instead of 20 minutes.
GAMA Trade Show 2019 ran from March 11-15. For those who don't know, GTS is a trade-only event in which game retailers attend seminars for business advice and news of upcoming game releases, while also getting a hands-on look at what's being released thanks to an exhibit hall filled with publisher and distributor booths and multiple game nights in which they actually play things. One of the best ways for a publisher's game to find an audience is for retailers to champion that game to their customers, and GTS aims to make that happen by exposing retailers to hundreds of new and upcoming games.
BoardGameGeek was at GTS 2019, and we did our part to expose those new and upcoming games to players by livestreaming demonstrations for about twenty hours over three days. Videos of those demonstrations are included below, and you can see an approximate rundown of who presented which games at which time in this broadcast schedule that I posted ahead of GTS 2019. (We added in other publishers when we got ahead of schedule, and some folks showed up early as their phones autoshifted appointments due to time zone changes.)
In the weeks to come, we will chop these videos into individual segments and post them on the respective game and publisher pages in the BGG database as well as on our BGG Express YouTube channel, our new home for all the convention coverage we do.
I missed out on day three of our coverage as a virus hit me hard, leaving me driving the porcelain bus for hours until I pretty much collapsed due to weakness and dehydration, which led to a trip to the emergency room courtesy of Jon Cox. Many thanks to all for covering in my absence, and I'm almost back to normal as that virus stuck around just long enough to make Thursday, March 14, 2019 the worst Thursday that I've encountered in my life. Fingers crossed that record will stand until my death...
• UK publisher Osprey Games typically has a literature tie-in with its game releases, but that's not always the case, as with Undaunted: Normandy, a two-player card-based wargame from designers Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson that's due out August 2019. Here's a summary of the setting and gameplay:
June, 1944: Through the D-Day landings, the Allies have seized a foothold on the beaches of Normandy. Now you must lead your troops forward as you push deeper into France and drive the German forces back. You will face intense resistance, machine gun fire, and mortar bombardment, but a great commander can turn the situation to their advantage!
Undaunted: Normandy is a deck-building game that places you and your opponent in command of American or German forces, fighting through a series of missions critical to the outcome of World War II. Use your cards to seize the initiative, bolster your forces, or control your troops on the battlefield. Strong leadership can turn the tide of battle in your favor, but reckless decisions could prove catastrophic as every casualty you take removes a card from your deck. Take charge amidst the chaos of battle, hold fast in the face of opposition, and remain undaunted.
• While I was away at multiple cons in February, Green Couch Games revealed its next release, with this being a bigger box than what they normally release. Here's an overview of the 2-4 player game Darwinauts from designer Chris Bryan, with the game hitting Kickstarter in Q2 2019 ahead of a planned Q4 2019 release:
Congratulations! After decades of hard work, scientists have opened a portal to another dimension filled with alien life. You are one of the few brave enough to venture into this exciting but dangerous new land to research and record new species. The world watches to see the discoveries that will be uncovered. The media has dubbed you and your comrades "The Darwinauts" for daring to go beyond to record the new origins of species. You must work quickly to bring back records of the most exotic lifeforms to secure your place in history, but be careful, the portal is unstable and won't remain open for long... The Rift is coming!
During the course of Darwinauts, a player takes two actions on their turn, selecting from five possible actions: place an explorer, place a tile, replenish tiles and remove explorers, discover a species, and record a species. When recording a species, a player immediately takes one of five possible bonus actions that allow the player to set themselves up for future turns or alter the landscape. Players continue to take turns until The Rift tile is revealed, making the portal to the new world unstable. Once The Rift begins, players add an additional phase to their turns, taking part in dismantling the landscape they have opened up for exploration. The game comes to a close as they race to complete their tasks and return home. When the game ends, players receive prestige points for their recorded species and bonuses are earned for specializing in specific sets of species.
Terramara is the name of the villages founded around 1500 B.C., mid- to late Bronze Age, in Northern Italy. People lived, travelled, and traded between the Alps mountain range and the river Po. The main occupations of the Terramara people were hunting, farming and metallurgy, casting bronze tools like axe heads in stone molds. The houses in the villages were built on piles, meaning each house is built above the ground, supported by wooden stakes.
In Terramara, you play as the chief of a clan living in one of these villages. Your goal is to develop your clan, exploring lands farther away to trade with other villages, and reach sacred places. You improve your battle strength and discover new technologies to create useful artefacts. The player who develops the best clan by gaining more development points becomes leader of all of Terramara and wins the game!
In this co-operative game for 2-6 players, everyone plays simultaneously, attempting to deliver as many goods as possible, with the color of a goods cube indicating its destination city. Players control one or more cities, and goods can be moved to neighboring cities only on trains run by personnel. To do this, you pick up and physically hand the train to your neighbor, ideally not dropping anything in the process. Personnel can't move more than one stop from their city, so the receiving player needs to swap in their personnel or move goods to a train in their city.
Everything happens in real time, and you have a lot to track all over the place. Game time is ten minutes total after set-up.
• German publisher Frosted Games is stepping up the number of titles it's releasing in 2019, with Andreas Odendahl's Cooper Island being targeted for a SPIEL '19 release. Here's an overview of this 1-4 player game:
In the age of exploration, the players arrive at a new home far away from their homeland. They try to colonize the big island, and each player tries to explore one part of it by placing landscape tiles. Landscape tiles grant resources and those are used to erect buildings with special abilities. Barriers on the island have to be removed in order to explore the island even further. Players build valuable statues and supply ships get them the supplies from the old world they need to be a successful settler on Cooper Island.
The special thing about Cooper Island is the way the players mark their victory points. They take small ship markers around the island to show their progress. On their way around the island, they find smaller islands on shore that grant valuable benefits. After six rounds, a game of Cooper Island ends and the player who developed the best and went on furthest with their ships will win.
• In the category of "games I missed months ago", we have Chad Jensen's Dominant Species: Marine from GMT Games, which is a standalone game similar in nature to the 2010 Dominant Species, but with the action taking place in the water as players use their chosen trait card to try to take control of their surroundings. The easiest and longest way to see what's going on in this design is to watch this two-hour tutorial and playthrough video from Paul Grogan. You don't have anything else to do right now anyway, do you?
Italy, late Middle Ages: The fabric merchants need to write down their contracts in a language that everyone can understand, and the literates are looking for an alternative to the elite of the traditional Latin language, so the Volgare, the language spoken by the common people, taken from the dialects spoken in the various Italian regions, starts to gain relevance. During this period, Francesco D'Assisi writes his famous Canticle of the Sun and Dante writes the Divine Comedy, both written in Volgare.
In De Vulgari Eloquentia, players have to do their part in the creation of this new language! But who will provide them the proper knowledge to understand the manuscripts in the different dialects? Who will successfully uncover the secrets of the books inside the Papal Library? Who will embrace the religious life, and who will remain a merchant? Some of the players can become a famous banker, someone else can climb the church's hierarchy to be the next Pope! But in the end, who will be the most appreciated and respected for their status and culture?
The aim of the game is to obtain more Volgare points. The players gain VP from reading manuscripts and looking for important documents like the Canticle of the Sun or "The Riddle from Verona". Players can also gain VP by improving their social status, for example, if the merchant becomes a banker or the Friar becomes a Benedictine Monk or the Cardinal becomes Camerlengo or Pope. Moreover, VP can be gotten with money and with the support of Politicians, Noblemen, Abbesses, and the Amanuensis.
During a seminar at GAMA Trade Show 2019 on Tuesday, March 12, Asmodee North America announced that it had a new distribution deal with CMON Limited in which it would distribute titles from CMON to retail outlets in North America.
CMON would still be responsible for running and fulfilling its own Kickstarter campaigns, but once a Kickstarter is complete, any remaining product would enter the distribution chain via Asmodee NA.
One odd thing about this deal is that in December 2018, CMON announced that it had entered into distribution agreements with GTS Distribution and Southern Hobby Supply, so that as of January 1, 2019, U.S. retailers would be able to order CMON titles from these distributors in addition to getting them from ACD, Alliance, and Peachstate Hobby Distribution. Asmodee, however, has an exclusive distribution deal with Alliance Game Distributors — a deal put into practice in August 2017 — so after only a few months of carrying CMON titles, GTS and Southern Hobby Supply lose access to those titles once again, with ACD and Peachstate also having the CMON lines cut from their catalogs.
While this change in distribution practices might seem like a radical departure from previous practices, it's not out of the ordinary as in many European countries one of the branches of The Asmodee Group is already distributing titles from CMON Limited.
• U.S. publisher Pandasaurus Games has already announced the 2019 North American release of puzzley games passtally and Arraial — first published by analog lunchbox and MEBO Games respectively in 2018 — but at GAMA Trade Show 2019 it's adding another such title to its catalog: Mental Blocks from newcomer Micah Sawyer.
In this co-operative game, players attempt to complete a puzzle using oversized foam blocks, despite seeing only one perspective of the design. You have to co-operate to complete the puzzle as a team, but you have a time limit, so don't just sit around staring at the pieces. In addition to the time pressure, players have other challenges, such as not being able to talk or to touch certain color blocks.
Mental Blocks features sixty puzzles: thirty "family mode" puzzles and thirty "challenge mode" puzzles that ramp in difficulty. For an even wilder game, you can add a traitor to the table to block your block-building... Yes, developer Jonathan Gilmour apparently must have a traitor in everything he touches.
I'm looking forward to this one as I love spatial puzzles in general, and these types of puzzles have a special appeal, perhaps dating back to high school architecture classes in which you were presented with a 3D image, then challenged to represent it properly from the front, side, and top in individual images. Learning how to see things from multiple perspectives is a valuable skill, whether you're talking about objects or more complicated aspects of the world...
The harvest is in, and now it's time to celebrate! The emperor has declared that this shall be the best harvest festival yet.
In Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky, players act as artisans, decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns and launching fireworks to light up the sky. The player who earns the most honor has made the best impression on the emperor and wins.
In more detail, roll dice and choose which colored lanterns players can fill on their scoresheets. Earn gifts to perform special actions, fill in additional colored lanterns, and create powerful combinations. Cover completed shapes with fireworks tiles to score points and put on a spectacular show!
• The other title coming from Renegade is The Aquicorn Cove Board Game, a tabletop adaptation of Katie O'Neill's graphic novel Aquicorn Cove. Renegade, along with designers Steve Ellis and Tyler Tinsley, already adapted O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Society in 2018, and now those two designers have been joined by Ben and Tim Eisner for this 2-4 player co-operative board game due out in late 2019:
When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a big storm, Lana remembers how much she's missed the ocean — and the strong, reassuring presence of her aunt. As Lana explores the familiar beach, she discovers something incredible: a colony of aquicorns, small magical seahorse-like creatures that live in the coral reef. Lana rescues an injured aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who may know more about these strange creatures than she's willing to admit. But when a second storm threatens to reach the town, choices made many years ago about how to co-exist with the sea start to rise to the surface. Lana realizes she will need to find the strength to stand on her own, even when it means standing up to the people who she has always relied on to protect her.
In the co-operative game The Aquicorn Cove Board Game, 2-4 players take on the roles of members of a small fishing village struggling to survive while maintaining a balance with the natural world. To win, the villagers must feed and grow their village, while helping to restore the health of the reef and aquatic ecosystem. The villagers are fortunate, though, and the waters of their cove are home to the beautiful and benevolent aquicorns, as well as the wondrous reef guardian Aure, who can help them both to understand the impact humans are having on the environment and to save the village.
Here are a few of those videos you might have missed, starting with three from Libellud, with Dice Forge: Rebellion having debuted at FIJ 2019, with the co-operative deduction game One Key coming in the middle of 2019, and with Obscurio due out at the end of the year.
FIJ is an unusual show as it highlights the nature of French designers and publishers to demo unpublished game designs in public long before they'll be available in a published form. Designer Cédrick Chaboussit presented Dice Quest, for example, even though the game won't be released by Bombyx until FIJ 2020. As another publisher told me, they typically test and promote prototypes in public for a year to ensure that the game is both well-known and developed as thoroughly as possible.
Time for another GAMA Trade Show announcement, this time from UK publisher Osprey Games, which has revealed an October 2019 release date for Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter, a Martin Wallace design based upon the gameplay in his own Wildlands, which was released by Osprey in 2018. Here's an overview of the setting and goal of the game:
Something in the multiverse has shattered, and now the universe is bleeding. Throughout Mega-City One there are reports of invaders wreaking havoc: Celtic barbarians in Ezquerra Block. Russian nobles in Apetown. And rumors of fragments of other universes scattered across the city, waiting to be claimed.
The worlds of Judge Dredd, Sláine, Strontium Dog, and Nikolai Dante will crash together on tabletops in the miniatures board game Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter.
The game brings some of 2000 AD’s most well-known characters to the streets of Mega-City One, fighting for the shattered fragments of their own universe! Faction-specific action decks and new special character abilities give each group their own playstyle, from the well-armed Judges with their explosive ammo to the bestial fury of Sláine and his Celtic allies. Playing to your faction's strengths and exploiting your opponents' weaknesses will be the key to claiming victory on the streets of Mega-City One.
While Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter features gameplay similar to Wildlands, with each player controlling a faction with special character abilities, the two games are not intended to be mixed together. The miniatures included in the game will be 28-32 mm in scale.