So whats so big about the Spiel des Jahres? Think about it like this: one of the major reasons we're playing all of these cool new games and not reiterating over Battleship or college campus reflavorings of the same old Monopoly is because of the Eurogame revolution in the 90s (washing up on our shores more recently). That revolution all started when German families decided enough was enough, started shutting off the TV, and focused on spending quality time with their families. And thus a new generation of board games were born. Games that kept everyone involved from start to finish, and everyone interested on every player's turn -- even when it wasn't theirs. Almost all of the new classics have these qualities.
So when the judges on the graduation class of games comes out and says "this is the best of the year" then we take notice. For 2010 it's Dixit [Amazon, Funagain], a party game that has been fully endorsed world wide.
Here are the game's official details:
"Storytelling is the name of the game in Dixit, winner of both the French and Spanish board game of the year. On each turn, one player becomes the storyteller. This player makes up a sentence from one of the six interesting and abstract images in his hand. The other players select from amongst their six images the one that best matches the sentence made up by the storyteller. They each then give their chosen image to the storyteller who shuffles and lays the images down on the table. Everyone then votes on which image they think is the storyteller's. Points are scored (or not scored) based on vote tallies. The game ends when the last card has been drawn. The player who is the furthest on the scoring track wins Dixit!
Dixit makes a great party game and is perfect for family game night!"
Contents of Dixit:
1 Game Board
36 Voting Tokens in 6 Different Colors
6 Wooden Rabbits
Instructions in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian
We were traditionally computer gamers before we got sucked into the awesome world of board gaming, and so we keep our ear to the ground on the latest of computer and video games, too. This is especially true when computer games blend seamlessly with table top board games. Risk: Factions (Xbox Live Arcade) is looking to do just that. It sports the baseline fundamentals of Risk, but then adds layers onto it that way a computer game can easily do.
Features like controllable structures like barracks and cities that produce extra troops each turn. Or varying AI generals with different special powers. Hilariously tragic battle animations, involving robot armies, etc. There's also a short campaign that strings a series of different custom map challenges together, each map sporting themed mechanics and objectives.
For instance the quick look (above) includes footage of a short ranged controllable rocket barrage. If you can wrest enough control structures from your opponent then you direct direct attacks on your offensives, providing an extra die roll when attacking neighboring territories.
It's the little things like this that spice Risk up nicely without diluting the original core game. That's exactly what we look for in a computer game adaptation of board games, that and the multiplayer from the couch.
Risk: Factions is currently available on the Xbox 360 Arcade Marketplace. Enjoy!
The problem with the later is that it was also meant for a targeted release in Scandinavia only. The title sold like hot cakes there and gamers from around the world wanted in on the action, so in 2008 Days of Wonder printed another running for world wide distribution. Ooops.. they didn't print enough, and many gamers were SOL.
Now Days of Wonder is righting a wrong -- they're printing another run of this 2-3 player Ticket to Ride installment, and it's slated in time for the fall gaming season. It almost could make a nice stocking stuffer considering its holiday theme.
Here are the game's official details:
"Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries takes you on a Nordic adventure through Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden as you travel to the great northern cities of Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm. Visit Norway's beautiful fjords and the magnificent mountain scenery on the Rauma Railway. Breathe in the salt air of the busy Swedish ports on the Baltic Sea. Ride through the Danish countryside where Vikings once walked. Hop-on the Finnish railway and travel across the Arctic Circle to the land of the Midnight Sun.
Players collect cards of various types of train cars that enable them to claim railway routes and pass through tunnels and onto ferries, as they connect cities throughout the Nordic Countries.
As with previous versions, the game remains elegant, can be learned in 5 minutes and provides hours of fun for families and experienced gamers alike.."
We got word today that the upcoming Thunderstone expansion Wrath of the Elements is officially coming out in July. While this isn't that much of a surprise since June is just about done, it's good to know Alderac has at least tacked down a new shipping schedule.
Thunderstone is in second place when it comes to our ranking of games in the deck building genre. The veritable grand dad of all - Dominion - still leads th way. We thought that while the original Thunderstone laid the groundwork to something special, the variety and balance still wasn't the cool cucumber that Dominion was at launch, and continues to be through expansions.
So we have high hopes for Thunderstone to refine the deck building and dungeon romping experience in July with their first expansion Wrath of the Elements. Here are the official details:
"Thunderstone returns with all new monsters, heroes, equipment, and now... traps! Thunderstone brought dungeon crawling to the deck-building game genre, and Wrath of the Elements takes Thunderstone to a new level. With four new heroes, six new monsters, and many new village cards, Wrath of the Elements can be stand alone or mixed in with classic Thunderstone for a larger experience. Wrath of the Elements also introduces Traps. This new card type creates perlious dangers for your adventuring party when revealed from the Dungeon Deck. Can you overcome the new monstrosities and claim the Thunderstone?
Wrath of the Elements also features an attractive and durable card box large enough to hold both Wrath of the Elements and classic Thunderstone, and is even more compact and easy to transport! The box also comes with all new labelled card-type dividers for both the new cards and classic Thunderstone cards. Jason Engle returns again with more amazing art as well.
Board Game News has posted a great first-impression preview of the upcoming Battles of Napoleon. The article paints a pretty positive picture of the new historic war games system, and includes commentary on the turn order, rules, board pieces, and overall gameplay.
No Fantasy Flight strategy game is destined for gold medals. Sometimes their rules can be complicated for the sake of instilling a feeling of chaos (War of the Ring's fate dice). Or they layer systems onto other systems to breed deep levels of strategy, but only serves to muddle the gameplay (Warcraft Board Game, original). We've been hoping that Battles of Napoleon goes the Tide of Iron route which just simply nails it in beautifully. More complicated than your average board game wargame, but less mind numbing than your epic war simulation.
Publisher Days of Wonder has promised a free iPad to anyone playing in the 20,000,000 game in their online board game system. This was announced a while ago, back when the counter was pretty far off from the end goal. But now the counter is getting really dang close. So start doing the tough work of playing excellent games to get you chance to what will probably become the first home-electronic board game platform!
If you haven't played on the Internets through Days of Wonder then you're really in for a treat. Dust off any of your Days of Wonder games in your closet and look for your online play code on the manual. Punch it at the Days of Wonder website and you've unlocked the ability to play that game online, anytime, with strangers and friends, for free.
And this is a stand up service. Days of Wonder has some great coders working for them. Anyone who has played on the online service, or has downloaded the Small World iPad App, will agree with us.
It's Electronic Entertainment Expo again and that means all the news about this years releases for the PC gaming and console gaming market are hitting the newsstands right now. And as part of the show the game designing house Firaxis has released more details about the next installment in the Civilization series that's due out this fall.
Back in the early 90s Sid Meier's brought a turn based board game that put you control of a budding civilization that emerged out of the prehistoric age. Through your strategic planning of economies, population growth, scientific research and militaristic conquest, you could guide your civilization from the early age of horse back riding and writing to the space age. Every game was truly epic and engrossing, creating this well-known "just one more turn" addiction.
This upcoming 5th installment of the franchise streamlines the interface to allow players to focus much more on the tactical gameplay. Gone are the square spaces that dotted the land, and instead are the more wargame centric hex tiles, which should allow more free form and fluid movement. Also unit stacking is no longer allowed, so armies will need to take the field in carefully organized formations that guard each others backs, keeping those high priced catapults in the center of your army.
We'll have more news about all of the upcoming features of Civilization 5 before the release in September. For now just sit back and enjoy this sweet little Civ 5 Featurette.
In a change of pace publisher FFG has announced a family friendly card game. Smiley Face plays like your normal trump-based game like hearts or spades or Euchre, bu where different suits score a varying about of points.
The suits, in this case, are a series of emotions. While there is no overarching trump emotion itself, each of the emotions is randomly assigned a point level at the start of each round. Say the 'Happy' emotion is assigned the trump position and gets +1 point for each card played, and 'Sad' is assigned the bottom rank and simply doesn't' count for anything.
Players take turns playing cards of the various emotions in an attempt to score as many points in a round as possible.
Various 'mischief' cards will then throw a monkey wrench into the mix. Each of these little guys has printed instructions on an interesting way the card could be used to mix up the round. And because you have it in your hand to start the round you can lie in wait until just the right moment and then --- pounce!The one example mischief card revealed thus far will reorder the scoring ranks of the different suits. Suddenly cards worth points might be worth less points, or even no points at all. Who's smiling now?
Finally, as an interesting twist: if you feel like you're buggered and there's no way for you to win, then you back another player and pass a card to them in the hopes that it helps them win the round. If so, then you score some points.
Overall this seems like it's going to be a very dynamic game. Light on the rules (ages 8+) and high on the dynamics this could be a great title for family game night. You can check out more information on the official Smiley Faces website, or on designer Burno Faidutti's website. Here's the official description:
"SmileyFace is a card game of face-to-face family fun for four to eight players. This clever family game by Bruno Faidutti includes 82 cards featuring dozens of quirky and colorful characters based on popular emoticons. Over the seven short rounds of the game, each player tries to collect the highest total face value of cards of a single type. Each round brings new surprises as the values of cards change and the wacky Mischief cards come into play. Only the player with the highest score for a round (and perhaps the player who lent him a helping hand) will win points! All the other players are out of luck. :(
We'll keep you posted of any more details as their emerge, and we'll let you know when Smiley Faces hits shelves later this year.
We heard earlier this week that our favorite modern classic Carcassonne [Amazon, Funagain]" had finally made its way to the iPhone/iPod Touch. We held off pushing the story to the web so we could put it through our paces and decided to either endorse it or pan it.
Well good news! The Coding Monkeys have made a heckuva port of Carcassonne. The game is smooth, clean, intuitive, and polished. It even has voice overs in the tutorials! How about them apples?
You can play in a special solitare mode, or against AI. You could even create a game with your friends over the Internets and the the server will give you push notifications when its your turn. How cool is that?
Other features include online ranking, 8 different AIs to play against, and the promise of new expansions moving forward. Not bad for 5 bucks.
Finally something else worth noting: The Coding Monkeys are working on an iPad version of the game. If you order the iPhone/iPod Touch version now then you'll be able to download the iPad version for FREE later on. Now there's a nice consolation prize.
Carcassonne for the iPhone/iPod Touch is available from the Apple App Store, and it's definitely worth your time if you or your family is into Carcassonne.
Each episode of Downtime Town is an experience. Host Robert Florence seems to be a gaming muse for our souls -- he's always spot on the details and the game's essence, heck he sells us on games we already own. And this review of Dixit [Amazon, Funagain] is no different.
Those of you who've enjoyed numerous sessions of Apples to Apples should definitely give Dixit a gander. It takes the base elements from that ground breaking franchise and slabs a gorgeous layer of icing over it. Instead of static, bare bones words printed on cards Dixit treats you to gorgeous and interesting illustrations. The other players are then fully engaged, more so than A2A, in almost all facets of the game. ginally described.
"Each player at his turn plays the storyteller. He is given a single picture, while the other players get a hand of six pictures. The storyteller says a sentence or a word connected to his picture, then each player chooses one of his pictures to bet upon. All pictures are showed face up, and every player have to bet upon what picture was the storyteller's. If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer scores 3. Players scores 1 point for every vote gotten by their own pic. The game ends when the deck is empty. The greatest total wins the game. "
The line of Battles of Westeros previews continues. This latest installment "A Clash of Swords" delves into what you should expect from the games various scenarios.
The article provides an example of the components and flavor of an early battle between the House of Stark and Lannister. And while the game will feature a long line of set pieces between these two Houses lifted straight from the Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, with new Houses to come in subsequent expansions, this base set will also ship with the framework to create random skirmish scenarios, too.
The selection and placement of a balanced series terrain tiles, victory conditions and commanders will be determined with the random draw of cards from the skirmish deck. Very interesting stuff.
Please see our previous coverage for more information about The Battles of Westeros:
We'll check back in with you once the title gets an official ship date. Until then here are the game's official details:
"Unfurl the banners of the Great Houses of Westeros! To secure power in the Seven Kingdoms and to ensure the survival of their lines, the Houses of Westeros each follow very different paths. Some forge strategic alliances, some create complex political intrigues, and still others use deceit and betrayal. But there is no more direct or lasting path to power than taking to the field of battle.
In Battles of Westeros, two players recreate the military conflicts set in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, taking part in battles directly from the books... or designing their own. In this epic board game of battlefield tactics, players control either..."
The Summer is officially here. Every year the same thing happens. No, not that glorious Memorial Day weekend of BBQ and beers that denotes the passing of spring into summer for beach goers. That's too obvious. Plus we were supposed to be remembering our troops, not boozing it up for some sun, remember?
Nope, our new summer begins when the final chapter of yet another WoW TCG Cycle has been hoisted onto gaming shelves across the world.
We're excited for a a few reasons. There's the usual giddiness over any new WoW TCG set release ( there are only three a year after all) . That's just a given. After all it's two things we love well balanced and then jammed into one small package that's well-deserved of a nerd frenzy.
Wrathgate is also a few landmarks for this franchise. First it marks the survival of the WoW TCG from what could have been a cataclysmic event when Upper Deck got sued for counterfeiting earlier this year. But Blizzard stepped up and spun off a new publishing company to keep the card game alive and well. And as proof -- here it is on gaming shelves near you.
Finally, in the WoW mythos, this release marks the Argent Crusades push into depths of Northrend to defeat the Lich King himself. With that now complete the the WoW TCG franchise has finally caught up to the World of Warcraft MMORPG. We're crossing our fingers now, but we expect the next cycle next fall to coincide with the upcoming Cataclysm Expansion for both the card and PC format. Oh baby, think about that!
So what should you expect from Wrathgate? Well the official previews have told us that the Nerubian faction has been all but tabled for now. Instead expect various Unique heroes from the Argent Crusade to be the beef of your deck, with numerous cards buffing any and all unique allies that you control. Also expect less of a focus on Death Knights and more goodness for the old school classes.
There won't be any new keywords introduced in set, but the designers have crafted up some allies that use interesting combination of the existing mechanics, some even invoking Death Rattle which was previous an ability card mainstay.