PRESS RELEASE: Promenade – The Game of Impressionist Art is live on Kickstarter

PRESS RELEASE: Promenade – The Game of Impressionist Art is live on Kickstarter

Become the most prestigious collector of paintings in a 2 to 4 player economic deck-building game filled with impressionist art.

Los Angeles, CA – April 9, 2019 – Sunrise Tornado Game Studio, publisher of the hit game Cat Rescue, has just launched a new strategy game called Promenade that combines gorgeous artwork and a unique take on the deck-building genre.

Promenade brings players into the art world, where they can purchase paintings for their collection to score points. Artwork gains in value based on a simple but intriguing market system, and by placing art in the right museums. The winner will be the one with the most valuable art and prestigious exhibitions in the finest galleries.

“As a painter and great lover of Impressionist works in particular, I wanted to design a game celebrating this style and offering players the chance to collect and speculate in the art world,” says designer Ta-Te Wu.

Promenade features original art and unique deck builder mechanisms in a game that plays in about an hour.

Featuring over 15 gorgeous pieces of original artwork, mostly painted by the designer himself, Promenade is an excellent and approachable game for 2-4 players that plays in under an hour. Early reviewers are already championing Promenade for its innovative and quick play:

“I enjoyed Promenade greatly. The design is clever and engaging. Your turn never comes round quickly enough and there is wonderful suspense as we calculate the game end holdings…Highly recommended.”

Mike Siggins of Ludememike (also know as Sumo)

“If you’re a fan of economic games and deck builders or just love games about paintings, check out Promenade.”

Meeple Lady

“It must be asked. Another deck builder? Does Promenade offer anything new or exciting? Is it worth playing? Yes. Yes and HELL YES!”

Jay Bernardo of Cardboard East

The Kickstarter for Promenade offers a unique $1 pledge level where players get something for their buck. To show appreciation for the support, Sunrise Tornado is including print and play games to all people who agreed to spread the word about Promenade. Cat Sudoku and Kiti-o-Tiki are both fun, quick games that will be made available to all supports at the $1 level.

The game is now live on Kickstarter:  bit.ly/2Ut8bKrand runs until May 12th.

About Sunrise Tornado Game Studio

Sunrise Tornado Game Studio is designer  Ta-Te Wu and his collaborators. STGS is responsible for over a dozen board and card games. Working with publishers like Z-Man Games and Cross Circle Games in the early days, Sunrise Tornado Game Studio now primarily publishes games through crowdfunding, having launched several successful titles on Kickstarter like Cat Rescue, Kung Pao Chicken, Di Renjie, The Battle of Red Cliffs, and Glory of the Three Kingdoms. Learn more at:  sunrisetornado.com/

Connect with us on Social

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PromenadeGame/

Instagram: Ta-Te Wu (@tatewu) • Instagram photos and videos

Twitter: @tatewu1

Press Contact

BGB Tabletop Media – bgbtabletopmedia@gmail.com

Travel Back Through Time In Time Chase

Travel Back Through Time In Time Chase
If you’re a fan of our small-box trick-taking game The Fox In The Forest but want a game you can play with more than 2 people, you will love Time Chase! 

In this game that accommodates 3-6 players and can be played in 30 minutes, you’ve cracked the code to unlock time travel, but some nefarious colleagues are trying to use your invention to travel back in time and take the credit for themselves!

With the technology of time travel in hand, you’re allowed to travel back in time to previous tricks, known as events, and change their outcome. The first player to control three events in the timeline wins!

We’re really excited about this game, and we’re not the only ones: Dan of Game Boy Geek called it one of his most anticipated games of 2019!

Thankfully you won’t have to wait too long: Time Chase will be available in August at your friendly local gaming store.

3 Rapid Reviews of iOS Board Games: Evolution, Castles of Burgundy and Doppelt Ganz Clever

3 Rapid Reviews of iOS Board Games: Evolution, Castles of Burgundy and Doppelt Ganz Clever

Who has time for full-blown reviews anymore? If you want them, you can find all you want – a sea of them. But if you want something quick, here you go – quick, hot takes on recent games I’ve played. Nah, I didn’t play them seven times. I won’t explain the rules in excruciating detail. I won’t give you the path to victory based on countless plays. I’ll give you the gist, something I find interesting, and what I think. Here we go:

Evolution: The Digital Edition

The Gist

Evolution is a gorgeous app from the get-go.

Evolution was the first ‘serious’ game that came from North Star Games, who were first known for their hit (and wonderful) party game Wits & Wagers. Since Evolution ended up feeling like, wait for it, North Star itself evolving, I was intrigued even though my first play was with a rough playtest copy that I demonstrated at Strategicon. Yet, the game was immediately compelling to just about everyone I met; the concept of multipurpose cards where one can create species and grow them with the ultimate goal of feeding (food = VP) appealing immediately to gamers. Bringing the game to mobile gaming seemed like a no-brainer to me and it’s finally here, allowing for AI and asynchronous play. The game is full of sparkling graphics, lots of flavor text, a solid (if sometimes overbearing) tutorial, and a complete port of the gameplay that made Evolution so popular.

What’s Interesting

Evolution on your phone takes care of some of the administration and card-reading. One knock on the original game is how much information you need to track. Can my carnivore eat any of the available animals? I need to read cards to confirm. The app just highlights which species I can snack on now, which makes life wonderful. Sure, you still need to look sometimes, which is easy enough with a click on the cards (easier on a tablet, and a choice to display all cards on a species would be cool). “Auto-feed” is also nice, quickly letting the species mack down on the available food as they would appropriately chose to do.

My Take

The game moves well with the smart UI.

Evolution is a good game that has a unique feel. I am quite fond of the app version because of the ease of administration and how it is giving me a chance to play the game more frequently so I can become more familiar with the rules. That way, when next I get it to the table, it’s all the easier to play the game quickly. The chance to explore the strategy of a game more is the key thing I seek in a longer iOS game (not the 3-5 minute chunk games like Doppelt Ganz Clever below), and Evolution: The Digital Game delivers that in spades. If you like Evolution, it’s an insta-buy. If you’re new to Evolution, you can find no better way to learn it.

Castles of Burgundy: The Digital Edition

The Gist

This is before the magic robot table yanks your player board into some underground storage chamber.

Castles of Burgundy is the finest game Stefan Feld has designed and it is one of my favorites of all time. Haven’t played it? Stop reading and go play this cardboard wonder. Back now? Okay, let’s continue.

It’s a perfect dice manipulation game. COB effectively makes good use of a wild list of different tiles in a way that isn’t quite as successful in Feld games like Bruges and Macao. I was thrilled for the iOS version to come out. Unfortunately, my first response to the game was that it was overproduced. I have been generally happy with Digidiced, the company behind this release. Yet, it felt like they had stacked this layer cake just a little too tall.

COB received criticism for the component quality when it was originally released, but no one took issue with the art. It’s not sacrilege to replace it with similar looking art, but the original work is recognizable for those of us who have played many, many games of COB. So, it irked me a little bit that the digital edition adds new, less appealing art. Add that to the fact that the game has a 3-D look and a quirky trick where in the game shows the current player’s board on their turn. I find the implementation overwhelming.

What’s Interesting

Once I started to play, I realized Digidiced had sensibly given players a number of choices as to how it is they might select certain pieces to take their turn. For example, you can select the die you want to play in order to start the process of selecting a tile to claim or take. You can also simply select the pieces. The game does a pretty solid job of being able to anticipate what it is that you’re going to do. Not rocket science but it’s still welcome that when I select a shipping tile that has a three on it, the game understands that I’m probably meaning to select a die that has a three on it or one that is pretty close for which I can use a worker to modify. As a software designer, I can appreciate the fact that the company made some good choices as to use ability in these cases. Kudos, Digidicers.

My Take

How does the game play on iOS? Pretty much like COB tabletop does, with a lot of the administration handled for you. That’s welcome, as the game does require a bit of set up each round. My experience so far has primarily been playing against the computer and the AI is a serviceable but the real joy is being able to have some asynchronous play with friends. And while I was initially frustrated with the art, I have grown accustomed to the different look. I still think that there is some lost definition with some of the building tiles in particular but that’s a small complaint against the joy of being able to have more COB in my life.One final note, The game is priced at $8.99 for the iOS version and a dollar more for Android. This is a significant increase from most of the games that come out these days which are starting to trail up into higher costs. While I understand the desire to make some amount of money from the mobile games, as well as the versions that are available on Steam, I do think that for gamers that have already invested in the game in physical format, it does seem like a bit high. Maybe I’m just naïve, and something of a cheapo when it comes to how much money I’m willing to pay for an iOS version of a game that I’ve already bought in physical form, not to mention the Card Game and the Dice Game, both of which are passable versions of the original. For me, $4.99 is an upper limit for these games when you play them on your devices like an iPhone or iPad. But if you love COB, and you should, pick it up when the sales hit…

Doppelt So Clever: The Digital Edition

The Gist

“Twice As Clever” may be true. Some people are flummoxed by this sequel.

Ghost-pepper-hot designer Wolfgang Warsch keeps dropping these excellent games on us. In the case of Doppelt So Clever, he’s following up Kennerspiel Bridesmaid Ganz Schon Clever (which missed out on the award because his other nominee won), a roll-and-write wonder that delights gamers and may intimidate the uninitiated.

The themeless dicey puzzle game allows for clever interaction between rolls in various categories and the forced limitation of lower die rolls. I find it a great app for the 5 minute iOS experience I tend to seek instead of longer games that will take an extended period of time to play. Doppelt ups the ante by introducing even less obvious interactions into the mix. The gray section in particular has baffled some players but the way you set up various rolls to give you extra rolls and placements is key (Blue and Pink, folks!) It’s a heady answer to the simpler roll-and-writes out there flooding the marketplace and I really enjoy it.

What’s Interesting

A fresh board is a delight. What strategy will I go for this time?

What’s truly interesting is the game. If Ganz Schon Clever kept me addicted for a few months as I worked my way up to scoring in the 300’s, Doppelt was knocked over a lot faster. While I think Doppelt’s strategy is more subtle, experience with GSC helped me a lot. Not that it plays the same way, in fact, you need to unlearn some things that GSC teaches you. The interplay of the Yellow section is more intriguing than Blue in GSC. Green can be a points powerhouse. Pink can deliver so much if you get in early. There’s plenty to explore and enjoy for the cost of this app.

The app itself is a port from Brettspielwelt, which are generally not too strong. Like Friday and Doppelt’s sister game, they are buggy and sometimes slow to respond. I won’t bore you with the technological reasons why I believe these apps don’t perform but it’s a thing. That said, I want BSW to make tons of money because I’ve spent MANY hours on their servers delighting in board game goodness.

My Take

These games are lovely puzzles but once you have solved them, they lose some appeal. I’d also suggest that solo play is just as appealing because adding other players doesn’t meaningfully change the game except when they are going to trip you up by refusing you a die you want. I don’t find that appealing anyway so the “Clevers” are perfect for iOS (dare I say, maybe even better than the physical copy). Give them both a buy.

What iOS board games do you love? I’d enjoy hearing about your favorites in the comments section. I think I have most of them out there but I am always looking for my next iOS addiction.

Disclosure: A code to download Evolution: The Digital Edition was provided by the publisher for independent review.

PRESS RELEASE: Hunters Entertainment Rolls The Dice With Altered Carbon Tabletop Role-Playing Game

PRESS RELEASE: Hunters Entertainment Rolls The Dice With Altered Carbon Tabletop Role-Playing Game
Skydance teams up with award-winning game publisher
for officially licensed tabletop games starting in 2020
Los Angeles, CA (March 29, 2019) – Skydance Media has reached a multi-year licensing agreement with Hunters Entertainment to produce tabletop role-playing games set within the stunning sci-fi universe of the hit Netflix series, Altered Carbon.

Based upon the best-selling novels by Richard K Morgan, Altered Carbon is set centuries into the future when the human mind has been digitized and the soul itself is transferable from one body to the next. Takeshi Kovacs, a former elite interstellar warrior known as an Envoy who has been imprisoned for 500 years, is downloaded into a future he’d tried to stop. Netflix recently renewed Altered Carbon for a second season, with Anthony Mackie (Avengers) becoming the new Takeshi Kovacs as the series continues to explore his journey spanning hundreds of years across many different bodies and planets.

The long-term agreement calls for an ongoing series of tabletop RPGs drawing from the full scope of the Altered Carbon series, with direct tie-ins to the highly-anticipated second season from executive producers Alison Schapker (Fringe), Laeta Kalogridis (Alita: Battle Angel) and James Middleton. David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross serve as executive producers for Skydance.

“Altered Carbon is such a rich and expansive universe,” says Ivan Van Norman, CMO and Co-Founder of Hunters. “We look forward to producing an equally ambitious and inspired line of games for years to come.”The games will begin with a crowdfunding campaign for the core RPG manual later this year, with plans for print and digital releases in 2020 through their global publishing deal with Renegade Game Studios.

The Skydance-Hunters licensing deal was brokered by Joe LeFavi of Genuine Entertainment, who will manage the license on behalf of Hunters and serve as an editor on the game itself. LeFavi is no stranger to tabletop, as he is currently managing the master tabletop gaming license for Frank Herbert’s Dune with Legendary and Gale Force Nine. Skydance Media is represented by Evolution.

ABOUT SKYDANCE MEDIA
Skydance is the diversified media company founded by David Ellison in 2010 to create high-quality, event-level entertainment for global audiences. The Company brings to life stories with immersive worlds across its feature film, television, interactive and animation divisions. Recent feature films include Mission: Impossible–Fallout and Annihilation.

Skydance’s upcoming feature films include 6 Underground, Gemini Man, Terminator: Dark Fate, Top Gun: Maverick, The Old Guard, and Ghost Draft. Skydance Television launched in 2013, and its current slate includes two Emmy-nominated series, Grace and Frankie and Altered Carbon, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Condor and Foundation. Skydance Interactive launched in 2016 to create and publish original and IP-based virtual reality video games; its library includes the mech-shooter game Archangel: Hellfire and the upcoming 2019 title The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners.

In 2017, Skydance formed an animation division to develop and produce a slate of high-end feature films and television series. The first slated movie is Luck, which comes to theaters March 2021. Visit: www.skydance.com.

ABOUT HUNTERS ENTERTAINMENT
Hunters Entertainment LLC specializes in the creation of tabletop games and engaging customers via Actual Play series, many of our products are featured in shows on platforms such as Geek & Sundry, VRV, Pluto, and Project Alpha. Responsible for the popular tabletop games: Outbreak: Undead, Kids on Bikes, and Overlight in which they carry the digital rights with Renegade Games, we also are also a licensee of Dungeons & Dragons with our children’s book The ABCs of D&D. Visit www.huntersentertainment.com for more information.

ABOUT RENEGADE GAME STUDIOS
Renegade Game Studios is a premier developer and publisher of original award winning board and roleplaying games, including Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival, Overlight, and more. Our mission is to publish games that are fun, challenging, and unique. We believe that gaming is for everybody and that everybody is a gamer; you just have to find the right game!Visit www.renegadegames.com for additional product information.

ABOUT GENUINE ENTERTAINMENT
Genuine Entertainment is an award-winning producer and paladin in genre entertainment, specializing in strategic licensing for entertainment franchises and fandoms that demand quality and authenticity in equal measure. It’s our mission to build brands by cultivating worlds and fan communities, making meaningful contributions with premium content and consumer products that extend intellectual properties beyond their core markets and genuinely connect with fans across multiple categories.

Recent collaborations include such genre greats as Altered Carbon, Avengers: Infinity War, Blade Runner 2049, Dune, Game of Thrones, and World of Darkness. To learn more, please visit: www.genuineent.com.

ABOUT EVOLUTION USA, LLC
Evolution has the expertise to fully monetize all forms of intellectual property through licensing and merchandising, digital monetization, promotions, location-based entertainment, retail development, and brand management on a global basis. Evolution is also adept at managing manufacturing and distribution, which enables it to develop intellectual property from concept to the retail shelf. Visit www.evomgt.com.

5 Quick Questions About 5×7 Dungeons with Dan Smith

5 Quick Questions About 5×7 Dungeons with Dan Smith

Editor’s Note: As an avowed content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our 5 Quick Questions interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Dan Smith, the L.A.-based artist and game designer of such games as Battle of the Bands, King of Crime and many cool RPG-like experiences, plus the recently Kickstarted solo game 5×7 Dungeons, does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for 5×7 Dungeons?

Dan Smith: Got no friends? No worries, now you got game!
(Seriously) You have a few minutes to kill, why not have fun? 1 card/1 marker/2 dice and you are good to go… into the 5×7 Dungeon!

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Dan Smith: I test myself. I give myself a premise and then I cripple myself to see if I can overcome the limitations in play. This one was: I have 1 card. Make a game using 1 card. I worked my way up from a basic playing card to 8×11 size, but that was like the one-page dungeon format and not wanting to reinvent that wheel, I cut the size in half. You do need a couple of d6s and an erasable marker, but 1 card is all you need.

All you need on a single card. Brilliant. – ed.

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Dan Smith: This game should go into your car. It’s the time waster you can use while you’re waiting at the dentist, in line at the drive thru, waiting for your other friends to show up for the function. Waiting for your significant other to get ready? 5×7 Dungeons has you covered. (Ed. note: This will be a lifesaver for me on this last point.)

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Dan Smith: It’s an easy game mechanic, once you get the game, you could make your own dungeons… but that’s what a brain is for. I would love to see what others come up with using the mechanics…

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about 5×7 Dungeons. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Dan Smith: Playing time 5-10 minutes per card. 1 player. We’re live on Kickstarter until April 29th. (ed. note: and this game is VERY reasonably priced! PDF available or get the real thing if you hate printers like I do.)

JOKE TIME

What is long, brown and sticky?

A stick.

For more 5 Quick Questions, check out this link. I didn’t realize we’ve done quite a few…

PRESS RELEASE: IBC Launches Potemkin Empire on Kickstarter

PRESS RELEASE: IBC Launches Potemkin Empire on Kickstarter
Indie Boards and Cards brings you: Potemkin Empire
Russia: 1787. Empress Catherine the Great is taking a surprise trip down the Dnieper River to survey her new kingdom. This will take her directly past your old, unremarkable village. You don’t have the time or money to make your village impressive, but with a few pieces of timber and some strategically placed facades, you could certainly make your village seem impressive. 
In POTEMKIN EMPIRE, up to five players attempt to impress Empress Catherine by convincing her that they have the most prosperous village in the land. You don’t have much time or money, so you’ll just have to set up empty building facades along the river to make your town look impressive.

Draft and assign interior cards to decide which of your buildings are real or fake. Score points by exposing your opponents’ fake buildings, or by passing off your fakes as real. Each building you can add to your town has a unique ability, so choose the buildings you construct carefully. Some will earn you points whether they’re real or not, but beware of your enemies’ spies!

Thank you for your support. We couldn’t make great games without you!

PRESS RELEASE: North Star Games Breaches the Board Gaming Surface with Oceans

PRESS RELEASE: North Star Games Breaches the Board Gaming Surface with Oceans
The Latest Offering in the Evolution Games Series Gets Kickstarted TodayKENSINGTON, MD. – March. 26, 2019 – North Star Games is positively effervescent to announce the release of Oceans – a stand-alone strategy game in the acclaimed Evolution game series.  Oceans represents the deepest dive into gaming that North Star Games has ever attempted. It literally takes the Evolution Game Series into uncharted waters. For those who dare, the Kickstarter page is officially launched here.
Oceans is a grand cumulation of effort by North Star Games to design the ultimate gamer’s game. All Evolution games are known for their vivid themes, easy rules, and hidden depth. With many thousands of play-tests, years of non-stop design, reimagined mechanics, and more content than we’ve ever put into a game before, we’ve topped ourselves in every way with Oceans. In Oceans, players create a vibrant web of marine life through millions of years of evolution.

Whereas the previous games in the Evolution series were bound exclusively by the science (and the core of this game is as well), Oceans expands upon it with a new set of cards called “The Deep”. This fantastical set of new cards stretch the boundaries of the game from science, to science fiction by including creatures like the Leviathan and the Hydra.
“We’ve designed Oceans (our most strategic game ever) to work using rules that are simpler, more intuitive, and easier to teach even than Evolution, which was already known for being easy to teach,” states Dominic Crapuchettes, Founder, and Co-President of North Star Games. “Nonetheless players will be delighted to find tons of hidden tactics and strategies…under the surface.”

LATEST UPDATE: Oceans‘ first day on Kickstarter (March 26) received over 300% funding in the first 10 hours! It will be shipping, and available in wide-release, in September 2019.  

About North Star Games
North Star Games is the publisher of award-winning party, family, and strategy games. Wits & Wagers is the most award-winning party game in history, Evolution is used in the Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Oxford, and Happy Salmon has become a gaming phenomenon. For more information on these games and more, visit www.NorthStarGames.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Palm Trees is coming from WizKids

PRESS RELEASE: Palm Trees is coming from WizKids

Flaunt Your Fronds in Palm Trees—Coming Soon!

Hillside, NJ – March 19, 2019 – WizKids is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Palm Trees, its new dexterity game of lush leaves and fabulous fronds!


In this dexterity game of quite literal “hand management,” players compete to grow the most verdant trees on a tropical island. To start, players will place their elbows on the table, arms straight up, forming the trunk of their palm tree.  Each player holds a number of cards, representing fronds and coconuts, in their hand. Each card indicates the way in which the player must add it to their hand. Frond cards are simpler, while coconut cards tend to have more difficult rules players must follow.

Each turn, a player will select one of three available cards on the table to have an opponent add to their tree. Each card has a rule on how it must be held: frond cards are simpler, while coconut cards have more difficult rules. Some cards require a player to hold them between two specific fingers, or potentially between their fingers and their palm. When a card is added to a player’s palm tree, they must continue to follow the rules indicated on all the other cards in their hand. Breaking any of these rules would be considered dropping a card, which ends the game.

If the game ends with a dropped card, the player who dropped the card will not score any points for that game. The game also ends when all cards have been placed in all trees. When the game ends, players add up the points on each of the cards in their respective hands, and the player with the most points wins!

The game can also be played teams of two, with one player acting as the tree while the other adds the fronds and coconuts. In this alternate way of playing, each team simultaneously builds their tree instead of taking turns. The game ends as normal. For extra fun, 6 tree trunk tattoo sleeves have been included with the game—these can be worn by players for extra immersion into the mind of an island tree. Palm Trees will release in June 2019, so be sure to preorder at your Friendly Local Game Store or online today!

My Year With Books: 2018, Part 1

My Year With Books: 2018, Part 1

2018 was the hardest year of my life. Work became more challenging, I lost my father early in the year and my mother had an increasingly difficult time with her cognitive abilities. There was more loss, including ongoing grief from losing an aunt and uncle with whom I was quite close the previous year. Add to that the fact that my sister, who is a source of a lot of support and joy in my life, was living in England for the year again and this was just a really tough year on top of all the usual stresses of having a wife and kids to support. My son left home for college, my daughter made another school adjustment for her final year in high school and both proved to be daunting for our family.

So my solace from reading was needed more than ever. Despite these issues keeping me so busy, it was clear that I sought peace in fiction and learning from the increased number of books I read throughout 2018. I enjoy summarizing my reading year because those intimate moments with the stories and just knowledge that I gain from my consumption of prose are deeply meaningful. Sure, a lot of the content is for work, or lighter fare to amuse me. Who cares? I don’t think what one chooses to read should be put under real scrutiny, but if I read something I can recommend and help someone else find a book that helps them or just delights them, more’s the better.

In 2016, I grouped the books as I saw fit, with no rhyme or reason. In 2017, I wrote about my books with some sense of chronology and that was too tedious – I don’t think I even finished. Now, I think I’ll summarize instead to group the books together.

Fantasy Makes a Comeback

During 2018, I was dragged back to role-playing games after nearly 30 years. In a separate post, I’ve written about this journey back to RPGs but suffice it to say that it led me back to reading more fantasy fiction in 2018 than I had in ages. The other key factor was the publication of a new book in the Black Company series after about two decades. While the story published (which I wrote a small bit about) took place between the first and second books, I opted to do the whole series to see if I liked the later books more now that I’m (much) older. That led to re-reading other books as well, and this will flow into 2019 because I’m still running that D&D game for my son, wife and oldest friends

The Black Company Series from Glen Cook

The Black Company Series – This series inspired me to run my own D&D campaigns back in the early 80’s. I had played but this is the series that made me want to chuck the modules out and create my own world. The Black Company is gritty, feels real and I know that George R.R. Martin says it was heavily influential on him when writing Game of Thrones. I can definitely see how he took a lot of elements of the book as inspiration: particularly, the focus on telling the stories of the bad guys.

I re-read the 10 original books in the series in 2018, from the first trilogy, which dazzled me as a young person and still held up pretty well now, through to the Books of the South, which got worse as they went, and the four-book cycle of Glittering Stone, which I found less and less appealing until the final book. The last portion, as Cook switched up narrators, felt like he was losing his way. Long sequences of boring going’s-on, and super-lazy cliched language that takes you WAY out of the narrative with its anachronistic feel (an occasional problem in earlier books) just took hold. The new one brings back his principal narrator, Croaker, also the best character in the series. While I gave it some praise in an earlier post, it was still not among his best. I’d recommend the first three to anyone, but you may lose interest after the fifth or sixth books.

Original Trilogy: The Black Company, Shadows Linger and The White Rose (Port of Shadows technically happens between The Black Company and Shadows Linger)

Books of the South: Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, The Silver Spike (this is an odd book that kind of happens out of sequence)

Glittering Stone: Bleak Seasons, She Is The Darkness, Water Sleeps, Soldiers Live!

Majipoor Series from Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg is an author that I discovered because of Harlan Ellison writing about him. They were friends and, if you believe the Ellison anecdotes, they were pretty rough with one another – in a cool way. Silverberg’s fiction is absolutely glorious, but I’d stuck with the science fiction up to this point. Tower of Glass, Thorns, and The World Inside were among some of my favorite sci-fi books that I read in college/high school. This year, I thought I’d check out his Majipoor series, including Lord Valentine’s Castle – a book I had acquired years ago, but never gotten around to reading. What a mistake! Like Silverberg’s other works, the Majipoor series are both modern in feel and classic in nature. Silverberg isn’t a ‘hard sci-fi’ writer at all. He was a talented composer of prose who knew how to pack an emotional punch in his work. I loved the first and third books in the trilogy, while the second, an episodic side-story, was good but just not as compelling. Majipoor is a rich world with interesting politics and creatures, but it’s not like your normal fantasy world with elves and the like. Silverberg crafts something uniquely his own. I highly recommend Silverberg, an author whose entire collected works are either on my read or to-read list.

Lord Valentine’s Castle, Majipoor Chronicles, Valentine Pontifex

Drizztland

Some years ago, I bought the Dark Elf trilogy for my niece, who was fascinated with them at the time. While most of the time, branded content can be pretty bad, the reviews on this series from R.A. Salvatore were solid. My wife had taken to playing a Drow Elf character (although she knew nothing more about them than what she learned viewing the enjoyable (if depressing) documentary The Dungeon Masters. So, I thought I’d read this series and get some background I could share with her.

Like so many other readers, I really enjoyed the main character, Drizzt, a noble person in a world that wanted him to be evil. Maybe it’s because in our modern day, we seem to over-love the antihero, the rogue, the broken character that I kind of found this throwback good guy (who was raised to be a bad guy) so appealing. I followed him through the first three books, enjoying his story and the exploration of the Drow elf culture. Salvatore is an author to whom I am returning in 2019, particularly to see where else Drizzt goes.

Homeland, Exile, Sojourn

Second Chances on Fantasy Classics

Most of my consumption of fantasy novels happened in middle and high school. There were times when I tried series that just didn’t work out for me and so I thought I’d give some of those another go. The ones that didn’t work out:

  •  Swords and Deviltry – Fritz Leiber was a huge influence on D&D, but I found this book of Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser to be unappealing and dated.
  • Dragonflight – Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novel didn’t really excite me as a teenager and it’s still not working now. The writing is pretty old-school hard-sf, and it hasn’t aged well.
  • The Swordbearer – Glen Cook’s one-shot book of this name was a bit of a slog, like his Dread Empire series that I also never got into.
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – This collection of George R.R. Martin stories were fine, but I mostly just wanted another of the main books. I didn’t find the stories of Dunk and Egg terribly compelling in the same way that the Harry Potter side-project books are also sub-Silmarillion.

On the other hand, revisiting some other older works were a joy:

  • Elric of Melnibone and Sailor on the Sea of Fate – Michael Moorcock’s series still resonated with me and I promptly encouraged my son to read them, who enjoyed them immensely.
  • The Princess Bride – William Goldman’s book was one I thought I might read one day, since I loved the film. I did so and it was fun, but I’ll still take the film over this perfectly enjoyable novel any day.
  • The Dresden Files – Late in 2017, I read the first book in the Dresden Files, which had been recommended to me a lot. I also watched two episodes of the television show and found out there was a board game based on the series. That was enough for me to give it a try. In 2018, I plowed through the next four books, with the 4th in the series being a definite highlight. Harry Dresden is a throwback, too, with a goofy chivalry that sometimes gets to be a little much, but I still find Jim Butcher’s novel to be like a can of soda – probably too sugary, but fun every once in a while.

That’s enough for now. Next up, biographies and history in 2018.

Renegade Game Studios Partners with Funtails to bring Glen More II: Chronicles to Enthusiasts Worldwide

Renegade Game Studios Partners with Funtails to bring Glen More II: Chronicles to Enthusiasts Worldwide

San Diego, CA (March 13th, 2019) —In partnership with German publisher, Funtails, Renegade Game Studios is excited to announce that the upcoming Glen More II: Chronicles, will be available in English worldwide. Renegade Game Studios, a premier board game publisher, works closely with an extensive network of distributors and retailers that can help Glen More II: Chronicles reach fans across the globe. It is expected to go to print later this year. 

In Glen More II: Chronicles, each player represents the leader of a Scottish clan from the early medieval ages until the 19th century, a leader looking to expand their territory and wealth. The success of your clan depends on your ability to make the right decision at the right time, be it by creating a new pasture for your livestock, growing barley for whisky production, selling your goods on the various markets, or gaining control of special landmarks such as lochs and castles.

Glen More II: Chronicles is a sequel to Glen More, expanding the gameplay substantially compared to the original game.


Features:

  • Lead your clan while expanding your territory and increasing your wealth in the Scottish Highlands
  • Create pasture for your livestock, grow barley, sell goods, and gain control of landmarks!
  • Includes eight expansions that are freely combined to add new gameplay to the base game.
  • Carefully crafted for 2-4 leaders ages 12+ to conquer in 90-120 min.

From the Media: 
Glen More II: Chronicles delivers a great new twist on the classic game.  There are some really smart tweaks to the gameplay as well as plenty of new additions to make this one a must own game for both new gamers and fans of the original.”
Jeremy D Salinas, Man Vs Meeple
 
“The original Glen More out of the gate already has tooooons of replayability even if you see the same tiles every time just based on the order they came out in but that combined with these Chronicles just puts it through the roof! It’s absolutely amazing.”
Richard Ham, Rahdo Runs Through

Glen More II: Chronicles will hit shelves late 2019.  Make sure to join the Renegade Society and be the first to find out more about Glen More II: Chronicles later this year!