Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.The folks at Dog Might sent us their newest wood thing to check out. The Component Collector is a set of eight wooden holders-of-things, each 3.25″ square, with magnets to arrange them on your game table. These are stored in a dice tray that’s about 4.5″ by 6.25″, secured with a strap. Ours was a Crimson-level backer pledge — yes, it’s on Kickstarter right now — with three Square token tiles, one Deck tile, one Double tile (for a few standing cards and two rounded wells for tokens or coins), a Quad tile (with four rounded wells for smaller tokens), a Bowl, and a Counter (with a dial numbered from 0-9).

As you may have guessed, these are for you to hold board game components in. For some games, these will hold everything — we tried this with our latest game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and it worked pretty well (although we kept the disease cubes in petri dishes). For other games, you can use these to hold your player-specific bits. “Using this at a complex game like Scythe, you feel like you have your own little command center,” said Michael Konas, Dog Might co-founder.

For the project, you choose the eight tiles included in your product. In addition to variety of different-shaped wells for tokens, they also offer tiles with a first player marker that you can pass around to other players, an angled deck holder, and one that is designed to act as a coaster for a can or bottle at the game table. (Not that I suspect the type of person to buy a high-end game upgrade like this would chance having a drink that could spill on the same playing space as a board game.)

Most of the games I have that could use a product like The Component Collector really feature small plastic or wooden tokens. For my games, the curved bowl were easier to use than the square. We didn’t try this with a game that required a deck of cards for the Deck tile to really be useful — most games we have with cards actually have multiple decks of cards (and we only had the one Deck tile) or there were dedicated spaces on the game board for decks. I could see us using the Slots tile (with four slots for standing cards) or the Card tile (one slot, plus a large rounded well for tokens.

I really like the dice tray the tiles are contained in. It’s a small component that’s there to keep the tiles contained and works great as a dice tray. Plus, like the tiles, the tray has rare earth neodymium magnets on the short sides (the tiles have them on all four sides), allowing for them to connect up to the rest of your command center.

Based on all that, should you get a set? These are cool, but you’d have to really look over your game collection and decide which combination of tiles will suit your game play best. For my collection, that’s probably one Slots (four standing cards), one Card (one standing slot + large token well), one Dual (two coin-like holders), three or four Bowls (rounded, for tokens), and maybe two or one Squares (square, flattened token well). And while they’re cool…I’d really be happy if I had just one set for common components, like the research stations and disease cubes in Pandemic, or a selection of them in multiple colors (which Dog Might offers) so everyone at the table can have their own set. It’s a cool-looking add-on, that’s for certain.

Currently on Kickstarter (ending in 6 days!), a base Component Collector (in Whitewood with a standard set of tiles) is available at $44. Five dollars more gets you a set in Kentucky Coffetree wood with a choice of tiles. There’s a large selection of other woods in the $54 to $64, and even more at higher price points made from luxurious wood types. Combo packs, extra large Collectors (with 12 tiles and larger dice tray), and more are offered.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesIn celebration of the company’s fourth anniversary, Board Game Innovation is running a sale on it’s board game overlays.

WizKids is also celebrating an anniversary, 15 years of HeroClix, and with that is running a video contest where the prize is 15,000 points of HeroClix.

GameWire, GTS Distribution, and Asmodee NA are giving away a free trip to Gen Con, including travel, accommodations, and badge registration.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Sagrada from Floodgate Games and CarCosa from One Free Elephant.

In honor of the game winning an Origins Award, Monte Cook Games is taking 10% off the price of No Thank You, Evil!.

One Small Step is holding a Summer Sale.

Escapist Deals, the online shop of Escapist Magazine, is selling Deception: Murder in Hong Kong from Grey Fox Games for 25% off and COGZ from RAEZ for 19% off.

Available from Bundle of Holding are two special package deals for King Arthur Pendragon and one for Cyberpunk 2020.

Amazon deals:

Hasbro has begun accepting orders for its quarterly board game subscription service. For $50 + shipping, Hasbro Gaming Crate comes in two varieties, each with three games.

The first Family Crate will feature Mask of the Pharaoh, which the company describes as a “cooperative virtual-reality board game.” One player describes what they see in a VR mask (mobile device and app required), while the other players, following that description, assemble game tiles in a path to the hidden treasure.

The first Party Crate will feature Joe Santagato Speak Out, an adults-only version of Hasbro’s mouthpiece game. Internet comedian Joe Santagato worked with Hasbro to develop their first Speak Out game but this one is described as “edgy” and “NSFW”.

Both crates are expected to deliver in August. Use promo code “HGCFREESHIP” for free shipping.

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.When I think of HABA games, I instantly think of cute, fun games in yellow boxes for preschoolers and the early school age set. So that’s why I was surprised when I saw Picassimo at the New York Toy Fair earlier this year. It’s a game for eight and up, fun for family members of all ages, and — what really threw me — the yellow HABA box branding was completely absent from the box. Let’s dig in.

The game itself is a variation on the “charades, but drawn” genre of gaming popularized by Hasbro’s Pictionary (1985) and re-implemented in several other party board games. Here, the big thing is the board you’re drawing on is broken into six tiles. Finish your drawing and then you swap two tiles, then two more, mixing up your clean, simple illustration and it goes from this

to this

Everyone draws, everyone rearranges the same tiles, and one by one the players try to determine what was drawn. Get ’em right? Drawer and guesser gets three points. Need to return some of the tiles to the original spaces? Fewer points. Once seven rounds are over, high score wins!

I ran the game with two ten-year olds, who both loved the game. “I want this game!” exclaimed my daughter’s friend. Playing with the wife and our daughter, we all had a hilarious time.

The only caveat I had is even though the game says it’s for ages eight and up, and there are over 900 things to illustrate, some of the topic cards featured things that weren’t familiar to the younger crowd. I know what “currywurst” is — mainly because I lived in Germany for a few years — but my 10 year old? Luckily, each card has six terms ready to draw, so this wasn’t much of a problem.

That last bit probably came about because HABA usually publishes language-independent games and this one is All Words. Published in six languages, they use a clever way to not have to do localized versions: each card is double-sided with colored backgrounds on each line. These are placed next to a language card: a flag with three similarly-colored arrows. English-speaking players? The green arrows on the English card lines up with the green English terms, so you know you’ll be looking at the line that says “bathtub” and not the ones that say “Badewanne” or “Baignoire”. (Oddly, the English line is the only one of six languages — German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Dutch are the others — that doesn’t capitalize the first letter of the word.) We found it very easy to find which word we’re to draw.

Drawing is quick, using dry-erase markers on the tiles, and rearranging the tiles to reveal that what you thought was an obvious drawing now looks crazy is fun. You’ll have to be a bit careful when swapping tiles to avoid accidentally brushing the drawing, but the tiles and drawing surfaces are designed to help moving the pieces around. Plus you’re playing among friends and family, right? Let people touch up anything they might have wiped.

Picassimo — did I mention it was fun? — was well-received by players of multiple ages. It plays from 3 to 6 players in about a half hour. The game retails for $44.99. Find out more about Picassimo at http://www.habausa.com/picassimo.html.

A copy of Picassimo was provided by HABA USA free for review.

Geek Chic No More

Geek Chic, maker of high-end custom gaming tables, has closed up shop. Four years ago, the company appeared to come out of the television show, Shark Tank, with an investment but that deal fell through. Two years ago, the company announced the launch of an exclusive event service that that never materialized. And a more recent arrangement with Crash Games also dissolved. Now the company’s core furniture-building business has ceased operations.

Though Geek Chic may be finished, the idea of there being a market for expensive add-ons for well-healed hobby gamers lives on with custom box inserts, hand crafted wood dice trays, and still several other companies making custom game tables.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesThis coming Saturday, June 17th, is Free RPG Day, when a variety of free products—quick-start rules, adventure modules, dice, cards, and tokens—will be available first-come-first-serve at participating local game stores.

The Family Gamers is giving away a set of Rory’s Story Cubes.

Osprey Publishing’s Father’s Day Sale means 25% off select general military and aviation titles, as well as all game titles released before May 2017.

Palladium is holding a Father’s Day Sale, though it expires tomorrow.

For 10% off purchases direct from Breaking Games use discount code “TAKE10NOW”.

Bundle of Holding’s latest offers put together various anime-inspired games, paper-craft scenery elements from Fat Dragon, and Malifaux from Wyrd Miniatures.

Comicbook.com is giving away a booster brick from the Marvel HeroClix: 15th Anniversary What If? set.

Right now in Print & Play Games’ Weekly Sale are blank wood discs for 20% off and plastic discs for 25% off.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Gondola from Big Kid Games, 12 Realms and an expansion from Mage Company, Electromagnate from John Rap, and Pocket Ops from Grand Gamers Guild.

Eagle-Gryphon Games is holding a sale on Defenders of the Realm products.

As a joint effort, Rathskellers and Oniro are giving away Scythe, Cry Havoc, a dice tower, and 200€ toward a gaming table.

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesFor tax purposes, at least, government officials in India have declared board games a luxury good and instituted for them a 28 percent import duty (versus the current weighted average of 6.5 percent). The move comes as part of a general realignment meant to replace state-level tax systems. Also defined as a luxury good in the new system is laundry detergent.

A media producer at the Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza is promoting a Snakes & Ladders-like board game aimed at “strengthening children’s military culture and love of jihad.” The game is titled Reaching Jerusalem.

In Washington Parish, Louisiana, a 38 year old-man was playing a board game with his mother and girlfriend. When the two others began fighting, he joined in, grabbing his mother by the neck, throwing her to the ground, and hitting her in the head with a cast-iron frying pan. Commenting on the case, the local sheriff was quoted as saying, “It is unimaginable to think that a grown man would physically assault his mother. The biblical command to love one’s mother is not a suggestion. It is a commandment that requires an unconditional love for our parents.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland has ruled against the Bulgarian Chess Federation’s appeal of its expulsion from the European Chess Union.

FIDE first suspended the Iranian Chess Federation for failure to pay money owed the world body, then reinstated it.

A 65 year-old Chess tutor in Deerfield Beach, Florida is charged with molesting one of his 7 year-old students during a session. Before the session, he had told the student’s guardian to leave so as not to distract her.

An online Chess app was the tool by which a 52 year-old Illinois man enticed a 15 year-old Connecticut girl in to a sexual relationship. Using the app’s chat feature, he convinced her to share photos and videos of herself. Then he traveled to Connecticut to meet the girl in person. The man has pleaded guilty in federal court to use of an interstate facility to persuade a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity.

Supposedly, one student at West Texas A&M recorded a group of other students against their wishes while they were playing strip dice. The allegedly-recorded students complained to campus police but police declined to pursue the case further after finding no such video recordings on either the student’s phone or social media.

In Hong Kong, the janitor of a Mahjong school was sentenced to 8 months in jail for his part in a cheating scheme. He had opened the door overnight for people that came in and switched some of the school’s regular tiles for ones marked with an ink visible to those wearing special glasses. What didn’t require special glasses to see, though, and the way the scheme was caught, was that the new Mahjong tiles were made in a different color than the original ones.

A $1,000 collection of Magic: The Gathering cards was stolen from an unlocked car in Peoria, Illinois.

After leaving the LaGrange, Georgia home of two strangers with whom he was playing dice, a man was allegedly attacked by those same strangers and cut with an unknown weapon.

Shots were fired during an argument over a dice game in St. Louis. One person suffered minor injuries.

Shots fired during an argument over a dice game in Louisville, Kentucky passed through the window of a nearby home and killed a 7 year-old boy.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand, an arrest warrant has been issued for a man accused of shooting and killing two others during an argument over a dice game.

Punching and shoving erupted during a Dominoes game in Jamaica.

In Bridgeton, New Jersey, robbers who were rebuffed when attempting to take on a front-porch card game just after midnight decided to turn and shoot while running away. The shots hit one of the players in the leg.

In Beaumont, Texas, robbers who held up a 20-person dice game found most of the players cooperative but were refused by one 56 year-old woman, so they shot her twice.

Secret Hitler, Secret Trump

From the I’m Surprised It Took Them This Long Dept., the people behind Secret Hitler, a social deduction game about fascists trying to pass legislation and install their heartless leader to a place of power. The Trump Pack swaps out Hitler and his fascist co-conspirators for members of President Trump’s administration. No rule changes were mentioned.

Five new secret role cars are supplied, including “a bonus Mike Pence card, suitable for use in case of impeachment or resignation.”

The Trump Pack is on sale for $5 with all profits donated to the ACLU. The Trump Pack is available only in the United States as the website states, “Trump is our problem”.

D&D’s Tomb of Annihilation

One of the things about Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is it’s a bit difficult to kill off adventurers. And if they do die, it’s somewhat easy to magically bring them back to life. The new adventure storyline, Tomb of Annihilation, looks at that and… makes it not so easy. The storyline kicks off with the discovery of a curse that afflicts people who have been raised from the dead: their bodies slowly deteriorate until they’re virtually corpses once again. All signs point far away from 5e’s Sword Coast setting to the jungle peninsula of Chult, where heroes must brave the uncharted where “a horrifying villain awaits with a familiar visage.”

But we all know it’s Acererak from Tomb of Horrors.

I mean, the name “Tomb of…” echoes the original Tomb of Horrors adventure, the advertising imagery is that green devil face with the Sphere of Annihilation stuck in it, and — let’s be honest — the adventure storylines pull heavily from past edition adventures for inspiration.

Also, he’s right there on the cover.

What’s confusing about this is a 5e-statted Tomb of Horrors was featured in recently-released Tales from the Yawning Portal (review). Will Annihilation contain an Tomb of Horrors-inspired dungeon, like Princes of the Apocalypse contained a re-imagined Temple of Elemental Evil?

What makes this interesting is the way the storyline was announced, via streamed gaming venues on twitch, where the D&D Twitch channel will be previewing “just how deadly the adventure will be” all summer long, starting in July.

Oh, and how easy it is to not die in 5e? Well, death saves will be moved up to DC 15 checks for ‘hard mode’.

Also announced is Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a supplement for the core game with expanded options for players and DMs, including more than 20 new subclases, dozens of spells, and more.

Somewhat related: There’s a D&D themed Betrayal at House on the Hill called Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, available on October 6th for $50.

Tomb of Annihilation will be released in September, in select game stores on the 8th, worldwide on the 19th. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything will be available November 21st, with a special alternative cover edition in game stores on November 10th.

The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming’s shortlist was announced this afternoon. The nominees are:

  • The Beast, a single-player unsettling erotic game of imagining you are having sex with the Beast by Aleksandra Sontowska and Kamil Węgrzynowicz
  • End of the Line, a LARP set in the World of Darkness’ Vampire setting, a “cross-pollination [of Nordic and traditional LARPing styles] proved rejuvenating for the twenty-five year old system” by Bjarke Pedersen, Juhana Pettersson and Martin Elricsson
  • Gen Con, a gaming convention in its 50th year
  • Gloomhaven, a legacy-style miniature boardgame with roleplaying influences by Issac Chidress
  • The Romance Trilogy, a series of roleplaying games and a freeform LARP by Emily Care Boss
  • Terraforming Mars, a long scope boardgame about making Mars habitable by Jacob Fryxelius

Diana Jones AwardThe award ceremony is considered the unofficial kickoff to Gen Con Indy, with the lucite pyramid trophy handed out during a gaming industry-only event the Wednesday night before Gen Con Indy officially begins. Past winners include Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop web series, Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco roleplaying game, and Donald X. Vaccarino’s Dominion deckbuilding card game

The award, named for the still-readable part of the burnt Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game logo encased in the pyramid, was originally awarded to Peter Adkinson in 2001. The Diana Jones Award trophy is returned each year to the DJA Committee for the next award ceremony. This is the fifteenth year for the award ceremony.

The trophy itself is a lucite pyramid mounted on a wooden base, created to “commemorate the expiration of [TSR UK’s] licence to publish the Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game and the subsequent destruction of all unsold copies of the game.” Within the pyramid are burnt pieces of the last copy of TSR UK’s Indiana Jones RPG logo and game elements, including the infamous Nazi™ cardboard tokens. The DJA site claims the award was liberated from the TSR Hobbies office by “forces unnamed” before winding up in the hands of the Diana Jones Award Committee.

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