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!

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! 

5 Quick Questions About High Rise with Gil Hova

5 Quick Questions About High Rise with Gil Hova

Editor’s Note: As an avowed content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Gil Hova, clever designer of games like The Networks, Wordsy, and Bad Medicine, plus the Kickstarted and shiny new High Rise, does, shall we?

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

Gil Hova: I have two. The first is that High Rise is a strategy game of construction and corruption for 1-4 players, where you build tall skyscrapers around a one-way time track trying to supercharge your actions on a board that will change for each game.

Photo Credit: Michael Keller

The second is that it has elevators.

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

Gil Hova: I built the game around an auction mechanism that I’ve never been able to work into a game. Spoiler: this is not an auction game, as I wasn’t able to work it into this one either!

Once I removed the auction mechanism, the game sung. I think it’s the best game I’ve made so far.

(ed.note: Faulkner said “Kill your darlings!” as advice for fiction writers. Also good for game designers.)

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

Gil Hova: This is a one-way time track game that gives strong incentives to make big jumps. Lots of similar games incentivize small jumps, which makes them a bit easier to play, for better or worse. Like, I’m a big fan of Tokaido (ed. note: same here), and I think part of its appeal is that its decisions aren’t terribly difficult; most of the time, you want to make the small jump. But in this game, the big jump is very tempting, and the game is full of really hard and meaningful decisions.

High Rise on the table!

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

Gil Hova: There’s a difference between time tracks, one-way tracks, and rondels. A time track game has the action happen off the time track. You’ll choose some action, it’ll tell you how much time it costs, and you’ll mark it on the time track. The defining feature of the time track is that player order is determined by the player furthest behind on the track. Thebes, Patchwork, and Tinners’ Trail are games with time tracks, with Thebes and Neuland being the first time track games (that I can tell).

A one-way track puts the actions on the track. So you’ll move your pawn directly to the space on the track that shows the action. You can’t go backwards, or to an occupied space. Like a time track, the player furthest behind will go next. Glen More, Tokaido, and yes, High Rise are all one-way track games. I believe Knizia’s Tutankhamen was the first one-way track game. 

A rondel is a circular structure on a game board that your pawn will traverse. Each space will trigger a different action, like a one-way track. But your movement on the track is restricted; you’ll often have to pay resources to go further than 3 spaces or so. Player order is not determined by position, so it plays totally different than a one-way or time track. Imperial and Navegador are both rondel games. I’m not sure what the first rondel game was. It might be Antike, but only if you don’t consider roll-and-move games to be rondels!

I don’t want to tell you about this stuff because I find it gets pedantic and boring after a while! (ed. note: Gil is a great guy, but here, he’s just wrong…) Lines that define games are most useful when using them to figure out how to cross them and blend genres. Like, you could argue that Mancala is a rondel game, but I have no idea what that would accomplish.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about High Rise. 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?

Gil Hova: High Rise is for 1-4 players, playing in 100-150 minutes, depending on if you’re playing the intro, standard, or full game. Link here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gilhova/high-rise-0?ref=61r5jc

JOKE COMMENCES
A grandmother takes her baby grandson to the beach. She’s lounging on a towel with her kid cooing and gurgling next to her. Suddenly, a huge wave appears and drenches the beach. When the grandmother regains her wits, she realizes she’s okay, but her grandson is gone.

She looks up, shakes her fist at the sky, and shouts: “You call yourself a merciful God? This child had his whole life ahead of him, and you take him away from us? How could you be so cruel? How could you be so vicious?”

Another wave suddenly appears and drenches the beach. When the grandmother opens her eyes, her grandson is right back on the towel, grinning and giggling.

She looks up, shakes her fist at the sky, and shouts: “He had a hat!”

5 Quick Questions About Roland Wright with Chris Handy

5 Quick Questions About Roland Wright with Chris Handy

Editor’s Note: As an avowed content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Chris Handy, inventive designer of many games like Cinque Terre, Longshot and the gum-pack sized Pack O Games series, plus the Kickstarted and perhaps slightly meta game Roland Wright, does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Roland Wright: The Dice Game?

Chris Handy: You play as an obsessed game designer named “Roland Wright” in a 20-30 minute, simultaneous-play “Roll & Write & Erase” game about designing an award-winning “Roll & Write” game.

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

Chris Handy: Color for one thing. I really enjoy working with lots of colors in a game (Cinque Terre, Long Shot, HUE, RUM. BOX…) But also, I wanted to create a line of games within a theme of an “old time” game designer, while really pushing the boundaries for what’s possible in a Roll & Write format game. 

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

Chris Handy: We’re offering a creative gaming experience within 20 minutes in the R&W format. We’ve worked to make it a very tight competitive experience, while keeping it at a shorter length. Roland Wright is a game about game design integration, making mistakes, editing… and cramming as much into the box, while knowing what to exclude. This is the core aspect of the game.

Love the artwork on this game – ed.

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

Chris Handy: I’m not sure there’s anything that I don’t want to tell you, but there’s an interesting fact about the early stages of this brand. I had a few games developed for a line of Roll & Writes, and I happen to see a tweet from Daniel Solis (Graphic designer and game designer). He posted a picture of a box top of a Roll & Write game, with a faux brand called “Roland Wright”. I approached him about buying the brand concept, and within a few weeks, we made a deal. This really helped shape this game, and the games that will come next in the line…and I’m thankful for Daniel’s brilliant idea.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Roland Wright: The Dice Game. 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?

Chris Handy: Roland Wright is for 2-5 players, ages 13 and up. The game plays in 20-30 minutes. Go to www.RolandWright.com for more details.

JOKE TIME

A rope walks into a bar… the bartender says, “Hey, we don’t serve rope ‘round here…”  
The rope leaves and goes around the corner. He ties a loop near his head and whips out his hair on the tip.
He walks back in and sits at the bar.  The bartender says, “Hey, aren’t you that rope that came in here before?”
The rope says, “No!  I’m afraid not.”

Ed. Note: The editor has played an early-release copy of Roland Wright and enjoyed it a lot. Expect a preview review next week or so.

3 Rapid Reviews: Architects of the West Kingdom, Azul: Stained Glass and New Frontiers

Who has time for full-blown reviews anymore? If you want them, you can find them – a sea of them. But if you want something quick, here you go – quick takes on recent games I’ve played. Nah, I didn’t play them seven times, I won’t explain the rules in excruciating detail, 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. So – here we go:

3 Rapid Reviews

Architects of the West Kingdom

The Gist: The fine Raiders of the North Sea from Renegade Games (in the US) introduced us to the connected game systems of designer Shem Phillips, who has constructed a lot of different middle-weight games using his mix of worker placement, card deck variation, and tight resource management. While the others in his first trilogy may not be the strong winners that Raiders of the North Sea has proved to be, they have their charms and made me excited for Architect of the West Kingdom, the lead title in a new series. Architects hearkens back to Raiders in a pleasant way, in both its commitment to an interesting implementation of worker placement and snappy playtime that makes you feel like you had a pleasantly middle-weight experience even with relatively light play.
What’s Interesting: There’s much to like in Architects, but the compelling piece for me was the management of a large number of workers, some of whom are permanently removed from the game when you do build actions, and some of which you can claim back, both through ‘capturing’ them yourself, or when other people do it to break up your group on a space. Before I played, a friend of mine said, “Oh, you won’t like the ‘take-that’ element of the game.” Should couldn’t have been more wrong; this is an intriguing way to let a player stop a dominant component, but it probably isn’t worth it to just ‘mess with people’ (which is NOT fun, in my view). Architects is a really good design.
My Take: Architects of the West Kingdom is good enough that I’m in the market to trade for it, but not go splurge on it new. I think it’s a very good game and I’m keen to play it more, but it doesn’t add something so new and vital to my game collection that I need it RIGHT NOW. I think it’s good to modulate those urges.

3 Rapid Reviews: Azul - Stained Glass of Sintra

Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

The Gist: The original Azul from Next move and Plan B Games, is one of my favorite light games of the last decade. This gem from Michael Kiesling deserved took home the SDJ honors and I’ve gotten a lot of play out of this simple-to-explain and challenging-to-master title. While I expected an Azul Dice Game (surely coming), a card game, and more, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra showed up first instead (well, if you don’t count those Jokers and alternate tiles – yes, I have them all). ASGS gives you new scoring methods, with the distribution that is the centerpiece of Azul staying the same.
What’s Interesting: ASGS gives you a lot more choices in how you allocate the tiles you collect. With options to move your glazier around and put smaller and larger sets of tiles into your glass windows, ASGS feels like a more gamer-friendly version of the original. There’s certainly more to consider than the original game and it feels like a pleasant variant for people who love Azul but have overplayed the original game.
My Take: I quite like ASGS but I’m not sure it is a truly necessary purchase for the average individual who likes Azul and gets what they want out of that game. As a completist and lover of variants of games I adore, ASGS will stay in my collection. But for minimalists or Marie Kondo fans questioning the amount of joy brought to them by each game taking up precious shelf and life space, sticking with the original, more attractive Azul will work (the ‘glass’ tiles are less appealing, in my view). The game also doesn’t have anything to do with Sagrada, the nice stained-glass window game that is a trifle more gamer-y than Azul, nor will it replace that game.

3 Rapid Reviews: New Frontiers

New Frontiers: The Race for the Galaxy Board Game

The Gist: The wonderful Tom Lehmann finally brings the Race for the Galaxy story full circle in New Frontiers, new from the revitalized Rio Grande Games. If you know the history of RFTG and Puerto Rico, you’ll know that RFTG began life as the Puerto Rico Card Game. But then the designer of Puerto Rico did his own (San Juan) and we got RFTG. Now, New Frontiers brings its more compelling theme (IMNSHO) to the board game world. Yes, the similarities are there, but Tom has found touches to bring to the experience in both the logistics of tracking your progress and a new sense of freedom to the RFTG mechanisms. It’s like he Caverna’d his game.
What’s Interesting: Really, just enjoying the implementation one of the great game systems in modern board games. Tom is a precision designer of the highest order and it’s easy to see how he tuned this wonder to work so well, providing a different experience from RFTG, but one that also doesn’t just stand-in as sci-fi Puerto Rico. I find New Frontiers looser, which means it won’t get ‘solved’ in the way Puerto Rico was. Also – have you SEEN the components? (Keanu Voice): Whoa.

BIG cubes


My Take: You can always tell I love and was ready to buy the game after one play. That said, if you don’t love Race for the Galaxy, then what is wrong with you? I mean, sorry, if you don’t like RFTG, then New Frontiers may not be your glass of blue milk. Yet, if RFTG frustrated you because of the luck of the draw or the tempo, New Frontiers may be more palatable for you so give it a try.

5 Quick Questions About Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth from Peer Sylvester and Osprey Games

5 Quick Questions About Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth from Peer Sylvester and Osprey Games

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Peer Sylvester, excellent designer of many games (old favorite of your editor: King of Siam), including the new Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth, does, shall we?

Game Designer Peer Sylvester

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth?

Peer Sylvester:After getting killed in the Amazon with Lost Expedition you can now get killed (separately, cooperatively, or alone) in the post-apocalyptic world of Judge Dredd.

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

Peer Sylvester: Lost Expedition got inspired by the great book “The Lost City of Z” about Percy Fawcett’s last expedition in 1925 (ed. note: also a film on Amazon Prime). Exploration is difficult to implement well in a game (if you want to it to be surprising and yet not too luck-dependent) and I wanted to see how I would come up with a solution. I also wanted to implement the theme (of the story well). Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth was the opportunity to translate my original game into an interesting IP (ed. note: intellectual property). I couldn’t pass that up.

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

Peer Sylvester: There are not many game Judge Dredd games. If you like Dredd, you don’t have much choice. But if you don’t (know Dredd): It’s a quick, easy cooperative game, that can also be played solo or with two players, head-to-head, so there is a lot of variety. Plus the artwork is just great.

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

Artwork Copyright 2000 A.D.

Peer Sylvester: I actually didn’t design this one. I designed the original game and most of the mechanics are translated. This was developed in-house by Osprey Games. I only advised on the design (mechanics, cards, etc.) as a consultant.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth. 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?

Peer Sylvester (ed. note, added game info): The game plays with one to four players, in 30-50 minutes and is for ages 14 and up. The game is now available on Amazon and at game stores, online and brick-and-mortar.

Joke Time: I am German; I don’t do jokes.

Editor’s End Note: Judge Dredd is one of my favorite properties and I don’t think any game has yet captured the IP effectively (although I do still have a nostalgic love of Block Mania, the old Games Workshop title). As a fan of Peer’s original game, and this movement of Storytelling Games in general, I’m excited to see his mechanisms applied to Judge Dredd’s unique world. The Cursed Earth sequence is perfect for this concept.

To learn more about Dredd, watch the more recent film, Dredd. I cannot recommend the Sylvester Stallone film, although they did try to capture the humor of Judge Dredd (poorly). You can also read the comics, which are excellently illustrated and written. The Cursed Earth isn’t necessarily the starting place (this is), but it is a compelling storyline.

PRESS RELEASE: Gamewright Celebrates 25 Years

New games for this big anniversary include a fruity frenzy, a blooming bouquet, a rock -n- roll card game, and Sushi dice!

Newton, MA – Gamewright, a leading publisher of award-winning tabletop games, has been in the game of making “games for the infinitely imaginative” for 25 years. In celebration of this milestone anniversary, the company will roll out the red carpet for a pair of “rolling” releases based on two of their best-selling titles: Sushi Roll, a dice version of the hit card game Sushi Go!; and Rat-a-Tat Roll, a board game based on the million-selling Rat-a-Tat Cat. Additional new releases include This Game Goes to Eleven, a rock and roll themed card game that cranks up the fun; Whozit?, a cooperative “guess who?” party game; and Bloom, a new signature “roll and write” dice game where picking colorful flowers is the key to victory. These, along with six other new titles, will launch at Toy Fair in New York City this February 16-19. 

New Games at a Glance:

  • Guju Guju – a fast-playing “fruit frenzy” card game, sold in a tin.
  • Rat-a-Tat Roll – a follow-up board game to the best-selling Rat-a-Tat Cat.
  • Sushi Roll – A dice version of the million-selling Sushi Go! card game.
  • This Game Goes to Eleven – a rock ‘n roll themed card game that “cranks it past 10”.
  • Punto – a neat twist on “in-a-row” games, packaged in a miniature flip-top tin.
  • Bloom – a flower themed dice game, to complement the best-selling Qwixx.
  • Whozit? – a cooperative “guess who?” party game.
  • Hello My Name Is – a new Port-a-Party game designed around the well-known name tag.

Editor’s Note: Boardgame Babylon congratulates Gamewright on their Silver Anniversary. It’s a great game company that has made family games that delight casual gamers as well for a long time, and I appreciate the quality and ingenuity they bring to their productions. Here’s to another 25 years (and more) of success!

Guju GujuTM 
The Fruit Frenzy Card GameThis card game is bananas! And lemons! And strawberries! Take turns flipping cards and guessing which of four fruits will appear. When you guess right- it’s a fruit frenzy! Everyone frantically flips cards, racing to cover the matching fruit. Be the first to get rid of your cards and victory is ripe for the taking! Players: 2-5 Ages: 6+Time: 10 minutes S.R.P.: $15.00 Availability: Now Shipping
Rat-a-Tat RollTMA Fun Numbers Dice Game – Roll around the world with Rat-a-Tat Cat! The best-selling game returns with a fresh new spin-dice! Move around the board trying to collect low cards (cats) while avoiding high cards (rats). Choose one, two, or three dice, keeping re-roll tokens handy in case you miss your mark. All along, look out for peeks, swaps, and especially the chancy “wild” spots, where things could really get dicey! Get the lowest score and Rat-a-Tat Catapult to victory! Players: 2-5  Ages: 6+ Time: 15 minutes S.R.P.: $18.00 Availability: Summer 2019

Twin It! TM
The Double-Dashing Card Game – On the double! In this game of fast reflexes, quickly reveal pattern cards featuring over 100 dazzling designs. Spot an identical pair and race to grab the match. But beware – some patterns are deceivingly close and others can be stolen if a third match appears! Features three ways to play including head-to-head, team vs. team, and even cooperative mode, where everyone works to beat the clock. No matter which one you choose, you’ve got to be in it to Twin It! Players: 2-6 Ages: 8+Time: 10 minutes S.R.P.: $15.00 Availability: Now Shipping

Sushi Roll TMThe Sushi Go! Dice Game – Rice and dice! Roll with your favorite Sushi Go! characters in this dice version of the best-selling card game! Load up the conveyor belts with savory sushi dice – ­­­­ then pick one and pass the rest! Earn points for winning combos like two tempura or a set of sashimi. Grab a menu to re-roll your dice or use chopsticks to swap with an opponent. And of course –  save room for pudding at the end!  Pick up the most points and you’re on a Sushi Roll! Players: 2-5Ages: 8+Time: 20 minutes S.R.P.: $24.00 Availability: Spring 2019

BloomTM
The Wild Flower Dice Game – Flowers are power in this freshly-picked dice game! Roll the dice, choose a color, and then circle the number of matching flowers. Each roll offers a bouquet of possibilities: should you try to snag all of a certain color, or attempt to fill a “mixed dozen” instead? Choose wisely— the dice you pass might score for your opponents! With a little luck and a lot of pluck, you’ll be the blooming best! Players: 2-5 Ages: 8+ Time: 20 minutes S.R.P.: $11.00 Availability: Spring 2019


Punto The Point-to-Point Card Game – Get to the points! Flip your top card and add it to the grid – or cover an opponent’s card showing lower points. Be the first to get four-in-a-row and end up on top! Players: 2-4  Ages: 8+ Time: 20 minutes S.R.P.: $8.00 Availability: Spring 2019

This Game Goes to Eleven The Game That Cranks it Past Ten Turn it up! In this fully-amped card game, the goal is to crank up the volume and stick other players with cards. Play number cards to a center pile, adding up the total along the way. Make the pile hit exactly 11 and hand the whole heap to another player. But crank it too loud and you get stuck with the headache! End the game with the fewest cards and you totally rock! Players: 2-6Ages: 8+  Time: 20 minutes S.R.P.: $13.00 Availability: Shipping Now
                                                                                     
Whozit?TMThe Cooperative Guess Who Game – Six unusual suspects, two debatable clues, one hilarious party game!Take turns secretly picking a character from the lineup, then tip off your teammates by rating how well a pair of clues applies to your choice. Would Darth Vader drive an expensive car? Could Lady Gaga make a great babysitter? You’ll crack up as you crack the case, but your team can only win by eliminating all of the unlikely suspects and correctly guessing – Whozit?! Players: 2+Ages: 10+Time: 20 minutes S.R.P.: $20.00 Availability: Summer 2019 


Hello My Name IsTM Party Game – Meet this hilarious new party game that’s full of personality! Can you name an actor who’s short, blond, and musical? How about an athlete that’s bearded and married? Play trait and then race to name someone – real or fictional – who fits the description. Use your creativity to win the most cards and hello… your name is champion! Players: 3-8  Ages: 12+ Time: 15 minutes S.R.P.: $10.00 Availability: Summer 2019

New Year’s Resolutions and 2018 Snaps

New Year’s Resolutions and 2018 Snaps

Boardgaming has been in my blood forever and I’ve been in the hobby seriously since the early 80’s, but grew up on card games with the family even as a toddler. This deep into the hobby, exploring it further is part and parcel with staying engaged. All this time in, I’ve lost none of my love for the hobby but 2018 brought about some great things and lousy things, too.

In looking back, I usually like to review my resolutions and plays. I usually set two to three per year but take it easy. They are to direct things, not to be painfully rigid.

1) Play 100 New Games – I’ve done this for more than 10 years and it’s always fun. In the last two years, I’ve hit the number early on (game conventions help) and cruised well above the value while focusing on my other resolution. This will take place again in 2019.

2) Play 300 Different Games – Well, I failed at this one. I will end up topping out at around 240. But I will try again next year because I love a variety of games to play. With my 100 new ones, that means I can go 200 deep into owned games as well. This helps with managing the collection because some of those games get a final tryout and then off to the flea market or trade pile. So, I will attempt this again in 2019.

3) NEW RESOLUTION: Play all 100 of my top games. Late in December, someone started this funny thing of ‘If I could only keep 7 games.’ I don’t know what kind of crazy world that is, but I don’t want any part of it! Someone online asked me how many could I limit myself to…and I said 100. So, I tweeted out my 100 game list. I will play all of them this year to make sure they deserve their spot on the list.

Quick Review of the Overall Play List

Full disclosure: I record electronic plays, regardless of whether my opponents are carbon or silicon based. This is because the experience of the play still exists in my mind so trying to invalidate those plays like they don’t exist is not useful to me. If you told someone you’d never played Race for the Galaxy because you had never played it FTF, but you’d played Keldon’s brilliant app 1,000 times, that’s not an accurate depiction of your experience at all.

Quarters

Ganz Schon Clever – 32 plays (most iOS) – I hit the 300 mark on this meaty roll-and-write, then stopped playing. GSC has an addictive quality and I’ll admit many plays were after I said, “Oh, just one more play.” I narrowly missed acquiring the game over the holiday in a gift exchange so I’m not sure it will ever make the jump off iOS onto my shelf. What a year Wolfgang Warsch had with this game, The Mind, Illusions and The Quacks of Quedlinburg. Glad someone liked 2018!

Spite & Malice – 32 plays (all iOS) – A go-to train game while I am listening to books on tape. I can play this simple game with minimal attention and I haven’t truly tired of it yet. Spite is a perfect two-screen companion, I say.

Cribbage – 27 plays (most iOS) – Cribbage was the game I most played with my Dad and this year, I played it with my son (first time) and on iOS a lot because I lost my Dad in late January. I am writing up a separate note about Cribbage, my dad and me to come out in January.

Almost Dimes and Quarters

Glass Road – 22 plays (most iOS) – I love this Uwe Rosenberg game. In a fast-playing game that lasts 35-45 with experienced players, there is a lot of game. I have the out-of-production app on my old iPad but no longer on my phone so I expect my Glass Road plays will drop. I guess I will drop this number in 2019. That just means it will need to hit the table more often (it’s on my Top 100 Games List).

The Game – 21 plays (all iOS) – Another mindless game that I play on the train with an audiobook. That makes a 25 minute train ride feel like 5 minutes. Probably fewer plays in 2019 because Spite & Malice and Love Letter are more popular with me now.

Unpublished Prototype – 21 plays recorded (probably a lot more) – This tapered off in the latter half of the year due to sheer busy times. I expect it to pop back up in the New Year with some help from my buddy Ta-Te Wu.

Ascension – 18 plays – Another book companion that I can play on the train. The UGLY new update probably killed this one for me, which I’d say was an addiction before. While I deeply dislike what they did to the game’s UI, I’m kind of grateful so I could open up and play more different games.

Dungeons and Dragons – 17 plays – The headline for my 2018 gaming is my return to RPGs after nearly 30 years (last played seriously in 1989). This infringed on the board games a bit, but it made my son and friends very happy – and, thus, me. More on this in a separate post. Now is a great time to get back in, by the way, as Amazon has the $50 main books on sale for $20. It’s like the 80’s again!

The Mind – 15 plays – All in person and probably would have been higher if we’d not misplaced my copy. Will be high in 2019 as well. This game intrigues all of the people to whom I introduce it and I feel like it’ll get more attention in the future. I still agree that Azul deserved that SDJ win, but The Mind is a keeper.

Codenames – 14 plays – This might be higher because I tend to record for a session, but Codenames remains a wonderful pre-gateway party games. And with my homebrew holiday editions hitting (and one especially for my company), we’ll always play some number of Codenames games. My wife also got Codenames Harry Potter for Christmas and that will surely come out soon.

One Deck Dungeon – 14 plays (all iOS) – This is an attractive iOS game, much more enjoyable than playing the game in person, which I found fiddly. But I expect to buy the DLC for this one in 2019 and keep playing it as a pleasant second-screener. This is definitely the case (also with Friday, another high-play game for me) where I think the app experience beats the physical game hands-down – if purely on administration.

Azul – 9 plays – I’m surprised this isn’t higher. Azul is a wonderful old-school euro with gorgeous pieces that I’d always enjoy playing. No surprise it came from a master like Michael Kiesling, who also had one amazing year with the glorious Heaven and Ale. We also have the new version, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, which is a pleasant variant but won’t replace the original.

Four Against Darkness – 7 plays – Another sign of the return to playing more RPG-style games. I was intrigued by this solo-style game that you play and also draw out as a kind of art project.

Terraforming Mars – 7 plays – Well, it’s just a great game. Yes, the graphics are wonky. Yes, it’s swingy on luck and the variants are too numerous. But is there any more compelling theme? Not for this lover of science fiction and space travel. I even read Red Mars, the book that inspired the game, this year, with plans to hit the other two in the series in 2019 (it’s really hard-SF for those who might consider it).

Simon’s Cat – 7 plays – This simple game caught my attention after buying it on clearance. I didn’t know the charming cat-based web series, but it had a cat and it was cheap. As a pleasant, light trick-taking game, Simon’s Cat is a winner. It helps that Liam, one of the charming sons of my good friend, took a liking to it and he’s made sure Simon’s Cat is on the list for each game day. That’s always a welcome request.

Summing it up

I’ll be honest – I wish I’d played more heavy games this year. I wish I’d played more games head-to-head with my son, who is now away at college during the week. I wish I’d had more time to spend on game design. But 2018 was the hardest year of my life, in terms of loss, profession, and immediate family needs. I’ve forgiven myself for those things I didn’t get done this year and achieving board game goals is the easiest of the lot. As I used to say on the podcast, it’s only a game. That’s one thing I really love about this part of my life.

Yes, board gamers compete and play hard. But considered how much of the rest of my life has stakes that are ridiculously high, this hobby (and my reading) is the place where I can just have fun and spend time with people I like. It’s the way I refuel for the hard stuff. It’s the best method of relaxation and while some might feel the stress of gameplay, this is all good stress for me. Thank goodness for boardgames, I say – and for a New Year in which to work, love, achieve and – definitely – play.

Happy New Year! May your 2019 be grand! – EB