6 Wonderful Board Games to Buy Your Kids Instead of the ‘Classics’

6 Wonderful Board Games to Buy Your Kids Instead of the ‘Classics’

Board games are a wonderful way to spend quality time with your family and friends but it pains me to see people buy the same old board games for their family if they didn’t really enjoy them as a child. While the hobby is getting more popular, the vast majority of people don’t know how many amazing games exist just beyond the half-dozen that get heavily advertised by the toy conglomerates.

While any time spent with your children away from screens is a very good thing, I can speak from experience as a parent of two now-grown children that there are reasons to bring modern board games to the table instead of yet another night yelling at one another about whether you really get money when you land on Free Parking.

1) Modern board games teach more decision-making. Too many board games of old rely on randomness and chance to determine outcomes. While all gameplay helps children learn rules and follow directions, when consequential decisions are involved, children learn to make decisions in a safe play-space that helps them feel confidence ahead of a time when they need to make them in the real world.

2) Games on this list evolved from earlier games — and solved many of their problems. Shorter play times are welcome in our busy age. Modern games usually don’t eliminate players as you go, so everyone gets to play the whole time. They have catchup mechanisms so you have a chance to win even if you fall behind. They’re often optimized to give kids a chance without having to ‘let them win’. They include cooperative games you can work on together. These changes help make games more about time well spent than frustration and the feeling of being left out.

3) Modern games that are more fun for everyone also means you’ll have a better time and young players can tell. Kids are sharp. They watch you, emulate your actions and detect falsehood. Your fake enthusiasm for that game with nasty-looking candy all over it? They can see right through it earlier than you think. Play a game you will all enjoy and your kids will love it. You might even find yourself more willing to play again and more often when everyone is having a great time.

So take a look at this list of alternatives which have delighted tens of thousands and really should delight millions. When you go to buy that a gift for the kids in your life, remember there’s a reason why Wal-Mart sells the ‘classics’ for $5. Instead, buy a modern board game that will truly delight your family.

Winning Alternatives To the ‘Classics’

Sushi Roll is a great new game from Gamewright
  1. Buy Sushi Roll instead of that game with rent and hotels — We are so busy these days, does anyone have time for a game that seems like it never ends, that has player elimination, and a confrontational air? Instead, try Sushi Roll, a delightful dice-game from Gamewright that can be played in 20–30 minutes and will delight everyone at the table. Everyone gets to play the whole game, you get three rounds of play to even out the luck of the die rolls, and a chance to swap and re-roll helps kids learn to make choices to mitigate luck and pick the times when it matters most. Instead of being directly confrontational (I take money from you), it’s competitive (we compete to acquire the most of some elements, while I collect sets independently in other cases). Add to that the charming look and intuitive game play, and you have a winner that will come out a lot more often than the Game That Takes All Night. Buy Sushi Roll on Amazon.

2) Buy Animal Upon Animal instead of that one with the ice — Dexterity games can be a blast, but when it’s mostly about luck, it can get a bit boring. Animal Upon Animal is a stacking game where you roll a die to set the stage for how you perform your turn, while still giving you a chance to pick what you will use. Even the younger players here get a chance to make choices about what animal they’d like to play each turn and how they would stack them. With small, nimble fingers used to this kind of activity, my kids would frequently beat me badly in Animal Upon Animal when they were young, try as I might. That’s part of why I’m saving it for my grandchildren one day. Grab it and enjoy the 15-minutes of laughing and fun. Buy Animal Upon Animal on Amazon.

So much fun stacking Animal Upon Animal with the kids.

3) Buy Qwirkleinstead of that one with all the words — Often called “Scrabble for Everyone”, the award-winning Qwirkle levels the playing field for kids and adults alike, allowing you to build lines like in that word game we all know, but using colors and symbols. It’s a charming way to let everyone play with the same level of knowledge by removing the significant advantage one with massive vocabulary has in that other game. Available in the original, a Travel Edition, and with variants, Qwirkle will hit the table more often when everyone feels like they get a chance to win. Ages 6 and up. Buy Qwirkle on Amazon.

Qwirkle has hit the table hundreds of times with our family.
The comic is some good fun, too.

4) Buy Simon’s Cat instead of that ‘one’ one — Simon’s Cat is a cute online cartoon but what I’m talking about here is the card game from Steve Jackson Games. This plays like THAT card game a bit, but the decisions are more interesting and there are not nasty cards that make children frustrated because they lose turns, draw a bunch more cards or when the rotation shifts. Simon’s Cat replaces that with variable numbers of cards in each suit, a manageable play-time, and charming artwork. For the ailurophiles out there, this is a huge treat! Buy Simon’s Cat on Amazon.

5) Buy Codenames Disney, Marvel or Harry Potter instead of that memory game — Memory games have limited educational value, but coming up with words to associate multiple concepts is highly useful. That’s what Codenames will teach your kids. While the regular version is a hit with teens and adults, your kids can enjoy the same great experience with editions themed to Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter. Using the pictures or images, you and your family come up with one-word clues to get members of your team to guess multiple cards on the board. In the Disney version, you might clue “Cat-3” to get them to guess Shere Khan from the Jungle Book, Raja the Tiger from Aladdin, and Figaro from Pinocchio, with the ‘3’ denoting that there are three that cat references in some way. Get the version that suits your kids’ favorite franchise — they don’t get more popular than Disney, Marvel and the Boy Who Lived. The Harry Potter one is fully cooperative, which can add to the experience, too, and can be played with as few as two players. Buy Codenames Disney, Codenames Marvel, or Codenames Harry Potter.

The Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter Editions use pictures and words.

6) Buy Forbidden Island instead of that mystery game — As with Codenames, cooperative games are a modern wonder of board games that brings the family together. This fun game of searching for treasure and stopping an island from falling into the sea is a family-friendly take on the same designer’s co-op hobby game, Pandemic. While that game is wonderful, Forbidden Island works best for the younger set, allowing you and your family to explore the island, work together to discover the cool artifacts included with the game, and to escape before the island sinks. Buy Forbidden Island on Amazon. Sequels Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky are also a good time if you enjoy the original. Ages 6 and up.

A treat for all players, Forbidden Island lets you work together to save the island and escape.

Don’t Limit Games to the Holidays

Make playing board games a regular event. Plan a family game night, even if you can help yourself and you buy the ‘classics.’ Any time spent playing board games with any age-appropriate board game is an investment that benefits everyone in your family.

Keep playing them after your kids are off to college, too. They’re so good for you, a welcome respite from your day and they help keep the mind active. This is a modern tonic for our screen-obsessed culture; time to look at faces, talk and interact with people IRL. I believe you will find it to be time well-spent.


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5 Board Games for Any Party Anywhere

5 Board Games for Any Party Anywhere

Photo courtesy — twenty20.com/duangbj from Reshot

Everyone loves a party but what do you actually do there? Not a birthday or anniversary — just a gathering. Sure, you talk to people. But if you don’t really work the room, you can miss the chance to connect with most of the people there.

That’s why the party game exists — to bring people together. Party-style board games give you an excuse to interact and laugh with people you like, love or even you just met. These days, we spend nearly a quarter of our time in artificial social spaces. Do I even need to quote research to say that’s not a good thing and we need more time with friends IRL? (okay, here you go.)

The great news: Party games have gotten so much better than even just 15 years ago. If you pick the right ones, you get half-hour experiences that can wonderfully bring a party of people together.

So let’s get to this list of excellent party games that have given me hours and hours of joy with friends both old and new:

Telestrations

Not so much a game as a fun activity, this drawing game doesn’t require you to be an artist at all. In Telestrations, players draw a picture of representing the word on their card into a dry erase book with multiple pages and passes it to the next player. That player looks at the drawing and writes a word or two to describe it. Then, books are passed again and the next player draws based on those words…and so it goes, varying between a word and a picture. When the books reach the original player, they are revealed and everyone gets to see the hilarious interpretations. Telestrations is a riotously fun experience for up to twelve players.

The 12 player pack, also available in an 8 and 6 player edition.

Codenames

This award-winning game from Vlaada Chvatil is a team-based word game, but one with minimal ‘word nerd’ pressure. Like the classic game Password, each of the two teams has a clue giver providing a word to their team to elicit one word responses. The catch in Codenames is that the clue giver can clue more than one word each turn, in a race to identify all your words on a 5×5 grid before the other team guesses theirs. You need two people willing to come up with clues, but the rest of the team can enjoy the game without feeling any pressure. There’s no upper limit on players if everyone can see the cards. You can even get bigger cards with the XXL edition.

Codenames also comes in Pictures, Disney, Marvel, Harry Potter, Adult and Duel Variants

Wits & Wagers

An award-winning trivia game that won’t frustrate people without a Trivial Pursuit mind. Every question in Wits & Wagers is a number you can guesstimate. Furthermore, if the question is just not your thing, the second part of a round involves betting on who got it right. This excites the gambler in your players and gives people a second chance. Wits & Wagers is enormous fun and it has been a hit at our parties for many years.

Just One

The newest game on the list, Just One is probably the easiest of these games and it’s also cooperative. That means everyone is just working together to do well and laugh it up. Each turn, the active player has to guess a word based on one word clues from everyone else (written on individual display stands). However, if the players come up with the same clue, they aren’t revealed and that limits the information the active player gets. You play to see how many of thirteen words you can get. While Just One requires a little thinking, it’s noto so much that you can’t do it after a couple of glasses of wine. A definite winner for up to 7 players.

A clever new entry in the party game genre, Just One will not be played just once.

Dixit

— Maybe you know Apples to Apples (or its NSFW cousin Cards Against Humanity). A wonderful similar game is Dixit, which has the same “judge picks the one they like” concept but uses gorgeous and unique images on each card. The active player plays a card and gives a creative word or phrase to describe it. Everyone else puts a card from their own hand into the mix, and players then guess which one the active player added. The goal is to not be too on-the-nose so everyone picks your card. Ideally, you want just one person to get your hint. Poor guessers can still get points for people picking the card they submitted instead of the original. Dixit is a blast and has many expansions available.

Dixit is full of gorgeous cards.

Why We Party Game

Let’s be clear on one last point: Party games are not about winning! They are about having fun in a shared experience, not crushing your competition. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time competing, it just means that you should focus on the fun and the people first. It’s a party, folks!

So toss out the old Trivial Pursuit (unfair advantage), Bunco (boring), and Taboo (tiresome) and replace them with the winning choices above. Turn your next party into a great experience for everyone and build those real-life friendships that we all cherish so much more than a zillion “friends” online.


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Low Effort Creativity in Tabletop Games

Low Effort Creativity in Tabletop Games

When you’ve been playing games all your life like I have, maybe it’s a foregone conclusion that new mechanisms are a big deal. Sure, I love an interesting theme that is well-implemented. Most of the time, though, it’s not enough. I like to see new ideas and I can admire them even when the game isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. For example, I’ve often spoken about my admiration for the design of Power Grid even if I do not find playing the game to be much fun.

Thankfully, I like all the games on this list that pleasantly embody a concept I call “Low Effort Creativity” (LEC). As a marketer and product designer working in social media-focused technology, I have used this term to describe apps like Instagram where the simple application of a filter onto an image makes users feel like they had created something special. And maybe they have; what mattered is that sense of creativity being expressed, which is more important than what others think of their creation.

People do the dumbest stuff on Instagram and think they’re being clever.

In game design, I see LEC manifesting as a way of giving players something that engages their creativity without building from the ground up. Instead, they’re empowered to make a contribution that gives them an output that is uniquely their own.

Dungeons and Drawings

Despite my passionate love for board games, I first thought about this concept after playing a role playing game. Strictly speaking, it’s not a proper RPG, where high-effort creativity is common. There, players come up with their own characters, a back story and maybe even act things out in a bigger way. Four Against Darkness brings the dungeons and maybe some dragons, but is short on the acting and storytelling.

What it does bring into the mix, however, is a pleasant solo experience with an outcome I didn’t expect. I’m not speaking of the success of my band of four adventurers who delved into the cave of some kobolds. No, I was surprised to find out that the process of wandering in the dungeon was going to lead me to creating something mildly artistic.

4AD, as the serious players call it (a moniker which throws me off as a fan of the British record label with that same name), gives the player a chance to quickly put together a four-person adventure party and start into a dungeon with the simple roll of two dice. Those values tell you the type of entrance, corridor or room you are entering, and another roll or two will tell you if there are monsters and loot to be had. It’s not very “RPG” but it is a pleasant pastime, especially with the solid adventures written by andrea sfiligoi (the designer) and his online cadre of creators who are taking the game in a variety of directions. This concept in itself is admirable and I really love to see such deep community involvement in creatively expanding what can be done with this light game system.

The most compelling part of the 4AD experience is drawing your dungeon on graph paper. Sure, the dice tell you the shape of the room, and what’s inside, and all monsters and such are cleverly denoted by certain symbols. The player gets a chance to show off their artistic side in the depiction of the map.

While I’m no artist, I find this part of the game a lot of fun as I track my progress through dungeons, caves, and castles. My own drawings are just lousy but I’ve seen gorgeous renderings online by talented folks who have brought their own flair to the design and decorations of their dungeon. With the game and its mechanisms as inspiration, players get a chance to engage in some low-effort creativity to make their final map a creation worthy of keeping around to enjoy.

A Conspiracy of Cartographers?

A similar tack is taken with Cartographers, a fine new game that released at Gen Con 2019 to popular acclaim (due out to stores Labor Day Weekend). Like 4AD, Cartographers (from Thunderworks Games) asks its players to get out the pencil and fill in their map with renderings of the different types of terrain designated by turns of some game cards.

Like roll-and-write games, Cartographers players pick where the selected terrain goes but unlike most of those games where I box is filled in, X’d or checked off, here players get to draw trees, water, and other terrain types onto their boards to score points based on designated parameters each quarter of the game. As you progress, your map gets filled with your artwork and, again, while I didn’t have the best looking map, I had a lot of fun with the drawing and wanted to play again promptly. While the variations on goals and terrain offers the replay value, I think the little bit of creativity you get to express helps make the game more enjoyable.

The Creative Call

While both of the aforementioned games ride on your drawing skills (or enjoyment drawing regardless of your skill, as in my case), Brotherwise Games’ Call to Adventure instead engages one’s storytelling skills. In fact, the very name of the game is attractively drawn from the first stage in Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, from a book that should be ready by all writers and storytellers.

I don’t know about that sequel, the First Threshold.

As with the other games, players are given some parameters on which to hang their creative efforts; Call to Adventure (reviewed here on BGB) asks players to acquire cards that collectively tell the story of their character, from their origin and early days, through the driving force that motivates them, and ultimately to their destiny and the crowning achievements of their quest to get there.

This is played out in simple but clever game play, using throwing runes to acquire various traits, defeat certain challenges, and foil the plans of villainous adversaries as you collect the stories components of your character’s life. The mechanisms are clean and well-implemented but the fun begins when the game ends and you are encouraged to tell your character’s story.

The nine cards you collect, three each for the three stages of the character’s life give you plenty of material with which to work. This isn’t for everyone but I’ve really enjoyed the fact that you can come up with something special by selecting what kind of character you want to be from the various options that come up. You might want to be a hero but find the road hard. You can focus on being an anti-hero, making choices that could be interpreted different ways.

Or you can go flat-out evil and try to be a force for the dark side of life. The choice is yours and it allows you to tailor the story you want to tell at the game’s end. Yes, there are points to count at the end and someone ‘wins.’ But like many of the best games around, it’s most about how you play, what your individual experience delivers, and your own creative way of conveying your story at the end.

Creative Energy Engaged

All three of these games are tapping into the concept effectively, letting players have a bit of a say in the experience they get while gaming on the tabletop. Yes, Legacy games can feel like your own thing because the order in which you experience things and sometimes what you discover versus the next person might vary. Yet, it’s a story you are following. Similarly, the attractive Crossroads mechanism in some Plaid Hat games makes the game experience vary strongly, but it doesn’t engage one’s creativity as the previously mentioned games do.

Was this already present in Pictionary or Telestrations, games that had you drawing up a storm every turn? Maybe, because you could enjoy the artwork produced. But since both of those games have a time element going on, they don’t offer the players a chance to focus on the art instead of the answer delivered at breakneck speed.

I feel like the games I referenced offer the opportunity to truly engage the artistic spirit, both in the slow individual play of 4AD that allows one to take their time drawing up the elements of their dungeon or the chance to build up a story in Call to Adventure over the course of the 45-60 minute play time.

I am excited to see more opportunities for board game and tabletop designers in general to come up with new mechanisms that tap into the notion of this low-effort creativity, which unlocks the fun of owning part of the game experience beyond just the decisions of how to spend cubes each turn or which spot to drop a Meeple on. Let’s see what you’ve got, designers…

PRESS RELEASE: Education Board Games Win Serious Play Award

PRESS RELEASE: Education Board Games Win Serious Play Award

LOS ANGELES – August 20, 2019 – Seven Board Games designed for use in education have been cited for excellence in the 2019 Serious Play Award Competition.
Gold Medals were awarded to:

  • Complexity, a game that offers a window into the fascinating machinery of life. With mnemonics and solid game play, students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of human anatomy and health. Created by TechnoNature.
  • Feeding 9 Billion: The Card Game, for high school teachers to use to introduce students to basic concepts around food security, agriculture, nutrition and climate change. Developed by Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph and artist Christine De Vuono.

Silver Medal status went to:

  • Roots of Power, a game to help clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts. Developed by Seriously Entertaining Education.

Bronze Medal recognition went to:

  • Alembic, a game where players will learn chemical properties of common metals, all in the form of experimental chemistry. Created by Catlilli Games.
  • Critical Strengths Engine, a game set that includes four pre-written stories designed to support teens as they explore social and emotional skills such as cooperation and empathy. This engine can also be paired with a diverse range of stories and campaigns. Developed by iThrive Games Foundation.
  • Miner Madness: Dig into code theory, a game to help students develop critical thinking skills, logic and systematic cognition while learning code theory. Created by the EPIC Project @ KCAD.
  • +PLUSOUT!!: Battle Points a strategy game designed to help students improve their mental math skills, as well as their abilities to add to, take from, combine and compare numbers. The game can be customized to share across multiple grade levels. Created by Brandon Bell.

Winners are given a chance to attend Serious Play Conference Events and display their games. The locations for the 2020 conferences will be announced in November 2019.

For more information, go to www.seriousplayconf.com.

Education Board Games Win Serious Play AwardWinners are given a chance to attend Serious Play Conference Events and display their games.
For more information, go to www.seriousplayconf.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Renegade bringing Vampire: The Masquerade back as a ECG

PRESS RELEASE: Renegade bringing Vampire: The Masquerade back as a ECG
Renegade Game Studios Partners with White Wolf Entertainment and Paradox Interactive for the upcoming Vampire: The Masquerade – The Expandable Card Game
San Diego, CA – Renegade Game Studios, a premier tabletop game publisher, in partnership with White Wolf Entertainment and Paradox Interactive, creators of the immersive World of Darkness universe, are proud to announce an expandable tabletop card game set to release in 2020. Vampire: The Masquerade – The Expandable Card Game will offer tabletop gamers a new way to experience the intrigue and politics of Kindred society, as well as the hunger pangs of The Beast within.Vampire: The Masquerade and the World of Darkness in which is it set is a seminal tabletop game universe that first hit the tables of tabletop gamers in 1991. It revolutionized tabletop roleplaying games by focusing on internal and interpersonal struggles of the immortals that inhabited its world. Vampires hide their true nature from humanity while trying to control the hunger for human blood that fuels their supernatural existence while also navigating a society filled with powerful and immortal allies and enemies whose relationships have been built over centuries, all to varying degrees of success.

The World of Darkness has since become the backdrop for innumerable stories told and experienced across every medium: from tabletop stories and video games enjoyed by gamers around the world to novelizations, television shows, and new media shows consumed by gamers and non-gamers alike. The Masquerade, the challenges of controlling The Beast, the politics and intrigue of the Camarilla, and The Eternal Struggle are a rich backdrop for immersive and narrative game experiences.

“Vampire: The Masquerade revolutionized the landscape of tabletop games,” said Renegade Game Studios President and Publisher, Scott Gaeta. “We’re excited to create a new game that explores the beauty, conflict, and horror of the World of Darkness for tabletop gamers.”“Renegade Game Studios is well known for its innovative game design and high quality standards” said Jason Carl, World of Darkness Brand Marketing Manager and host of L.A. by Night at Geek and Sundry. “They are the perfect partner to bring Vampire: The Masquerade into this format. We are thrilled to be working with this award-winning team, and we know our Vampire community is going to be as excited for this new game as we are!”  

Vampire: The Masquerade – The Expandable Card Game is slated for release in 2020.Make sure to join The Renegade Society newsletter and Facebook Group and be the first to find out more about Vampire: The Masquerade – The Expandable Card Game later this year!

Silver by Ted Alspach and Bezier Games: Session Review

Silver by Ted Alspach and Bezier Games: Session Review

Silver Amulet (also known as Silver, since it introduces a new line) is a card-shedding game for 2-4 players newly-released at GenCon 2019 from Ted Alspach and his shingle, Bezier Games. You can learn a bit more about the game by watching my recent 5 Quick Questions session with Ted (or read it – we are all about the options at BGB now). If that’s TL; DW, basically this is a more ‘gamer’ development of the game Cabo, which Bezier Games brought back into print earlier this year.

Silver
Witchy Woman: One of the lovely cards in Silver

Since Ted is involved, Cabo wasn’t just given more interesting new elements, it’s seemingly going to grow some werewolf fur. More on that later.

Card-Shedding? What?

Like Cabo, Silver provides players an initial set of face-down cards of which they only get to view a couple. The object of the game is to optimize the cards in front of you to get the smallest total value.

One does this by drawing from the draw pile to activate them, swapping with those cards or one from discard pile and using some special abilities. Players keep taking turns like this until they feel they have the lowest raw card value among all players. If they do, they use their turn to declare the round is over, giving each other player one last shot to optimize before comparing scores. After four rounds of this play, the player with the lowest value wins.

The difference from Cabo (which is, itself, charming and enjoyable) is that Silver gives every card special powers instead of mostly just values. Different cards allow you to swap, reveal or peek at cards, or gain a power on your turn like drawing extra cards.

Shedding cards from your tableau isn’t easy, though. The main way to shed cards is to trade them for another one in a many-to-one trade. This is done by matching cards on your tableau; if I have two 6 value cards, I can trade it with the top card from the draw or discard pile, hopefully reducing my value. Be careful, however – if you flub an exchange because you try to trade a card (even as part of a set) that doesn’t match, the trade is cancelled and you take an extra card for screwing up. Boo.

Cards number from 0 to 13, but the special powers make some cards more attractive than others. For example, the Doppleganger can match the value of other cards so she’s easy to trade out. Yet, she’s the highest value card in the game so you’ll get stuck with her if you don’t trade the card away before scores are compared. Many of the game-changing powers are on higher-value cards, but even the lowly 2-rank Empath lets you view face-down cards on your tableau. The 3-rank bodyguard (and cover star) protects another good card from being swapped or discarded, so most of them are good in one way or another.

As mentioned above, the game has a Bezier Games-signature Werewolf feel. While the initial set has some of feel of those games with Villagers and Seers, we will probably have to wait for Silver Bullet (the first expansion) later this year to get actual werewolves into the game.

Ted’s Going To Need You To Vote

So if you think you’ve got the lowest value cards, you can declare the round over or ‘call for a vote’ because Werewolf. Really, this is just to compare the total values of your cards. If you called for the vote, you best be right. If not, you get not only your card total in points, you get a 10 point penalty.

However, if you do get it right, you get 0 points for the round. You also get that nice bit of metal, the Silver Amulet. This item can be used by the round-winner to protect a card from other card activations.

The Silver Amulet, which has a nice Game Trayz slot, too.

After four rounds, compare final totals (which you can do on the provided score pad).

Silver is a Lovely Production

Silver’s cards are gorgeously illustrated in a Pixaresque style (they feel a bit like the film Brave to me) and this immediately excited the folks who have played the game with us.

Equally exciting for game geeks like me: Bezier Games worked with Game Trayz to create an insert that fills my heart with joy. While essentially simple in design, it’s highly functional to hold the game’s cards and those from future expansions. The amulet is a pleasant additional touch, even if its ability is the least appealing part of the game for me. I’d call that a minor complaint, this little rich-get-richer element, but it’s a quick game so those kind of balancers are less important.

Silver is a Good One

I quite like Silver and it was enjoyed by everyone with whom I played it so far. My wife was already a Cabo fiend and, indeed, she dominated the first play of Silver, winning three of four rounds. I thought the need to remember the cards (you cannot keep looking at them) would throw her off but it’s not too much of a weight on the mind.

In the end, it plays in 30 minutes or so, includes some interaction when it’s not your turn because you are watching to see what other players might reveal about their hands, and the learning curve is shallow. Additionally, Bezier was clever enough to release an app of the game (previewed in my video podcast) that is completely free. This lets you try the game out in solo play mode so you can learn the game, and see it in action. While I am enjoying the solo play, it’s no substitute for in-person play and the chance to see people surprised when you somehow slipped below their total when the cards are revealed.

Some might ask: Do you need Cabo and Silver? I’d say probably not. Silver is more fun for me, as the special powers make the game. Yet, Cabo is even more approachable than Silver (and the theme is less, um, ‘geeky.’) So maybe there’s a reason why, but I’d go with Silver over Cabo any day.

We quite enjoy Silver and we’re looking forward to Silver Bullet’s Spiel 2019 release so we can add more cards to the mix this holiday season.

Silver Bullet

Silver is available NOW on the Bezier Games site and will soon be in stores near you.

PRESS RELEASE: Asmodee Digital Launches Pandemic on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch

PRESS RELEASE: Asmodee Digital Launches Pandemic on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch

Discover the Launch Trailer: As the Infection Goes Viral and Spreads Worldwide, Only Collaboration Can Stop the Pandemic!

PARIS – August 1, 2019 – Asmodee Digital, a leader in video game entertainment inspired by board games, is proud to announce the release of Pandemic on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch™. In the digital adaptation of the cooperative strategy board game, players will need to combine different roles and skills in order to save mankind from the biological horror threatening its very survival. Pandemic is available now on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch™ for $19.99.

The Launch Trailer highlights the critical stakes the players will face, mixing live action with actual gameplay to showcase Pandemic’s unique cooperative strategic game mechanics.

Already an excellent adaptation of the wonderful game, you can now play on TV…

Between the base game and its expansions, Pandemic has become a million-selling board game. Designed by Matt Leacock, the board game’s popular success was confirmed by critics, as Pandemic received the 2009 Golden Geek “Best Family Board Game” award.

The digital experience stays true to the core identity of the couch cooperative turn-based strategy game. Developed by Z-Man Games, Pandemic is a mainstream cooperative game that can be enjoyed by a wide audience, even during short game sessions, while rewarding the best decision-makers.

Acting as disease-fighting specialists, players engage in a race against time to contain four epidemics threatening to wipe out different regions on the globe. Players can choose one of the seven specialist roles: contingency planner, dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher, operations expert, or quarantine specialist. Each role features unique abilities that players will need to combine as efficiently as possible in order to overcome the 5 difficulty levels.

Pandemic differs from a lot of games as it rewards cooperation rather than competition. Players must join their efforts, using their complementary skill sets, in order to discover the cures before it’s too late for mankind.

The game can be experienced as a single player, by managing multiple characters, or with friends, using local cooperative multiplayer. The latter allows up to 5 players to play together using the couch cooperative mode for both Xbox One and Nintendo Switch™.

In late September, players will be able to activate a free DLC on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch™:

  • On the Brink – Virulent Strain will spread a new kind of virus into the world.
  • On the Brink – Roles & Events will offer players new roles add new events to help save mankind.

In October, Pandemic will be featured in the growing library of great games available through Xbox Game Pass, along with other acclaimed Asmodee Digital titles, including The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game and Munchkin.

The Pandemic Launch Trailer is available here.

Pandemic is available now on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch™ for $19.99.

For more information about the game, feel free to visit:

https://www.asmodee-digital.com/en/pandemic/

PRESS RELEASE: Tasty Humans Board Game Launches on Kickstarter

PRESS RELEASE: Tasty Humans Board Game Launches on Kickstarter

Become a Monster, Eat Villagers in Puzzle-Solving, Tile Placement Game for 1-4

Tasty Humans is the latest board game from Pangea Games. In this puzzle-solving tile placement game for 1-4 players, insatiable monsters fill their bellies with unsuspecting villagers. Gameplay will feel familiar to fans of Azul and Sagrada.

Tasty Humans is coming to Kickstarter soon to secure funding for printing. It is a joint project from Brandon Rollins, Tyson Mertlich, and designer Ryan Langewisch.

The game began life as the winner of the 2018 Pangea Games “Panjam”, a 48-hour board game design contest. Players take on the role of fantasy monsters competing to satisfy their hunger by feasting on the local citizenry. Food comes in the form of tiles labeled peasant, archer, wizard and so on, each with unique effects. When eaten, these tiles form unique shapes of body parts which drop to the bottom of the player board stomachs in Tetris-like fashion. At game end, whoever has satisfied their beast best takes the win.

As Tasty Humans players seek to maximize monster satisfaction and score, players face a compelling puzzle with difficult choices. Designer Ryan Langewisch explains, “Each bite leads to difficult decisions with tradeoffs that impact the whole game. These choices also vary game by game as each monster has unique goals and unique leader tiles change up scoring.”

Tasty Humans is launching on Kickstarter on Tuesday, June 25 with copies of the game available for a $25 pledge plus shipping. With crowdfunding veterans behind the project, Tasty Humans debuts following rigorous playtesting and careful development. In addition to art and other assets being established before crowdfunding, the game has been available for months as a print-and-play game and is available on Tabletop Simulator.

Tasty Humans Details

Player Count: 1-4

Playtime: 30-60 Minutes

Ages: 14+

Tasty Humans

Kickstarter Preview: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tastyhumans/1194387965?ref=1phxk0&token=00d317a5

Website: https://tastyhumansboardgame.com/

BoardGameGeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/262310/tasty-humans

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PangeaBG

Facebook: http://facebook.com/PangeaBG

Instagram: http://instagram.com/PangeaBG

About Pangea Games

Living by their tagline “big worlds in small boxes,” Pangea Games aims to bring compelling experiences to the tabletop. With previous crowdfunding experience, including War Co.: Expandable Card Game, Pangea’s team is familiar with the unique challenges of crowdfunding and bringing games to market.

5 Quick Questions About Silver with Ted Alspach of Bezier Games

5 Quick Questions About Silver with Ted Alspach of Bezier Games

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 Ted Alspach, founder of Bezier Games and game designer responsible for Castles of Mad King Ludwig, SDJ 2019 nominee Werewords, and the newly-announced card-shedding game Silver, does, shall we?

BGB:Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Silver?

Ted Alspach: We are so excited about this one, we’ve been working on it for two years and we are finally launching it here at Gen Con (2019). Silver is a surprisingly interactive hand management card shedding game. The concept of card-shedding doesn’t happen too often; there are some small games like Golf, Cabo and Rat-A-Tat Cat and little games like that. Silver is its own unique thing in that it’s a littler heavier, more for gamers.

Killer artwork all around.

In Silver, each card has a number of werewolves on it. And you start with five face down; you note just two of them at that point. Your goal by the end of the games is to have as few werewolves as possible by trading cards with higher numbers for those with lower numbers. However, each card also has a special ability so you try to shed as many as possible until someone says they have the lowest value.

There’s this great amount of tension because at any time, someone can call for a vote and say they have the lowest amount of werewolves. Everyone else gets a turn at that point, because there are interactive cards and they can screw with someone or drastically reduce their cards. But if they can maintain, they get zero points, which is good since you want the fewest points, they also get to go first the next round and they also get this special silver amulet of protection to use on the next round.

Very Bezier Boxey, but thicker.

Of course, if they miss it, everything goes awry and they get not just the sum of their cards but also ten points, and that’s rough for them. So that happens four times here and then whoever has the lowest score wins.

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

Ted Alspach: So, a couple years ago I played tons and tons for game called Cabo, which is, in a lot of ways, a predecessor to Silver and it is basically you work at getting rid of cards, reducing the cards in your hand. I did like it but it is really light and I discovered there’s this whole genre of these hand management and card shedding games. Looking into those again was looking for something a little more meaty with some interesting decisions. I didn’t see anything, so I started working around some ideas. No one has taken it to the level that I thought gamers would want, with each card doing something special. So, it’s balancing that aspect and it’s really a lot of fun. And, as a game designers, you are looking for these special abilities to balance with the points on the cards. While we were looking into it, we thought we should contact the people who did Cabo to see if they were interested in a more involved game and they ended up letting us publish a new copy of the game since they did it like 10 years ago, which we did and it includes some rules updates based on our play testing with Silver. So, Silver is a result of all that playing these other games and seeing what we could do to develop it into this big beast!

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

Ted Alspach: It’s a middleweight filler, 30-45 minutes and it fills that spot. It is just as easy to learn as Cabo. Silver isn’t any more difficult to learn. You don’t need to know everything just to play the game, so it’s really easy to pick up. And we’re doing an expansion called Silver Bullet that can switch out with cards from the original. (ed. note: This is also available for pre-order and releasing at Gen Con 2019).

Also available at GenCon 2019

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

Ted Alspach: Okay, I have two exclusive things for you. I’ll tell you one and then I will show you something else. So, NEWSFLASH: We have four other Silver decks that are under development for Silver and we plan to release them in the next couple of years. We also have about a dozen original cards to fit into it. One of the cards in the upcoming decks is the Mad Bomber. So, points are bad in Cabo (ed. note: and Silver) and if you have the Mad Bomber, everyone ELSE gets points. (Ed. Note: To see the other secret, check out the video version of the podcast here):

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Silver. 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?

Ted Alspach: The game plays in 30-45 minutes, for 2-4 players and it available for pre-order RIGHT NOW to be delivered at Gen Con 2019.

Joke Time

This is exclusive for the blog version of this show. Thanks to Ted for our first cartoon response to our joke question:

PRESS RELEASE: The Official Dungeons & Dragons Acquisitions Incorporated Sourcebook Available in Stores Now

PRESS RELEASE: The Official Dungeons & Dragons Acquisitions Incorporated Sourcebook Available in Stores Now

SEATTLE — June 18, 2019 —Acquisitions Incorporated, the first-ever official third-party property Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook from Penny Arcade and Wizards of the Coast, invites adventurers to maximize their plentiful profits and enhance their awe-inspiring exploits today.
Due to a recent surge of deceased workers open positions, Acquisitions Incorporated is currently offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create Fan-chises™. The Acquisitions Incorporated sourcebook, compatible with the Forgotten Realms or anywhere else in the Multiverse, has everything a budding replaceable cog valued employee needs to keep themselves both profitable and alive1.

This manual contains 224 pages of insider secrets including a never-before-seen adventure for characters levels 1-6. Franchisees can learn the ropes with this gripping tale that is 100%2 safe. Discover completely new content including new spells to master, an introduction to an all-new race, and our patented character positions to help anyone join the company and push us well into the black.

Acquisitions Incorporated

“Seeing our Acquisitions Incorporated campaign enter the canon of the Forgotten Realms is a dream come true,” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder of Penny Arcade. “The book is stuffed with content for Dungeon Masters and players alike, and I can’t wait to hear about their adventures.”

1. We at Acquisitions Incorporated are not responsible for any bodily harm that may occur when using the manual.
2. 60% of statistics are 100% made up on the spot.

The Acquisitions Incorporated book is available now for $49.95 and can be purchased from the Penny Arcade store, Amazon and hobby stores.
For more information on Acquisitions Incorporated, the D&D sourcebook, please go to the official webpage.
For more information on Acq Inc, please visit the official website.


About Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade is a webcomic focused on video games and video game culture, written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik. With over 3.5 million readers, it is the most popular and longest-running gaming webcomic online. Penny Arcade is also responsible for the Child’s Play Charity, the PAX gaming expo in Seattle, Boston, San Antonio, Philadelphia, and Melbourne, multiple video games based on the brand, and multiple online video series.