The tabletop game industry includes companies as diverse as museums, box manufacturers, and advertising agencies, as well as major publishers and retailers. If your company makes or sells (or helps to make or sell or play) even one tabletop game for profit, we’re interested.
Unlike previous years, Purple Pawn’s fourth annual tabletop game industry survey is available online! The survey asks you, on behalf of your company, to answer a few simple questions about your company and what it experienced in 2013. RESPONSES ARE OPTIONAL. Answers will be aggregated and summarized, and provided to the public for free on Purple Pawn’s website.
NO INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR COMPANY IS INCLUDED IN THE SURVEY RESULTS. The results include only aggregate information and do not specify ANY company or personal information. WE DO NOT SELL OR PROVIDE ANY COMPANY-SPECIFIC INFORMATION TO ANYONE. OUR COMPANY DATABASE, INCLUDING ALL CONTACT INFORMATION, IS NOT FOR SALE.
Click here to take the 2013 survey.
This survey will end on March 22. Results will be posted about a week after.
A Sotheby’s auction, Arts of the Islamic World, scheduled for April 9th in London, features three antique game lots. [Click the images for larger views.]
A rock crystal king Chess piece from the Fatamid Caliphate in Egypt (11th century), estimated at £80,000-120,000 ($133,000-200,000):
Another Fatamid rock crystal Chess piece, a knight, estimated at £40,000-60,000 ($67,000-100,000):
A set of 15 ivory, stone, and bone game pieces from Persia or Egypt (9-11th century), estimated at £3,000-4,000 ($5,000-7,000):
Meeples, those vaguely-human-silhouette wood playing pieces, have become the symbol of modern strategy board games. Originating in Carcassonne and later named by gamers, meeples have been adopted as the standard piece in many other games and have come to adorn a variety of gamer accessories, be a common element of game-related logos, and feature as characters in board game comic strips. Meeples have also over time taken on a variety of outlines, with animals and fantastic creatures joining the mix.
Sometime in this evolution, Meeple Source was established by two fans of the little people-ish pawns, Cynthia and Chris Landon. The company, in business for 3 years, has developed a product line that includes apparel, housewares, decals, jewelry, and of course, game pieces—everything an aficionado could want. It’s specialty, though, is character meeples—meeples in traditional shapes painted to represent various characters, such as knights, zombies, princesses, monkeys, jesters, pirates, mummies, cavemen, and others.
The picture above [click it for a larger view] gives you an idea of what just a few of these character meeples look like (with another meeple out of Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers for comparison). They can be used in games of your own design, as enhancements to a game you love, as toys, as decorations, as party favors. I’ve found meeples from Meeple Source to be not only cute but of high quality and durable.
In addition to character meeples, Meeple Source makes and sells a variety of wood resource pieces, victory point tokens, and money-replacement discs. Some are available in sets as upgrades for popular games. These include corn pieces for T’zolkin, animeeples for Agricola, and mini-meeples for Lords of Waterdeep. I can’t enumerate all the variety of shapes that Meeple Source has available. I recommend you take a look at the company’s website.
While the selection at Meeple Source is impressive, the company is underway with a Kickstarter project to fund production of character meeples that would more than double the number currently offered. Among those planned are: spy, minotaur, Cthulhu, dragon, police, skeleton, angel, frog, and yeti. Also planned are a set of germ tokens and character meeples for Pandemic (researcher, scientist, medic, etc.) and character meeples for Lords of Waterdeep.
In fact, the Lords of Waterdeep set will be available in male and female versions, while the Pandemic set has a mix of male and female professionals. Kudos to Meeple Source for that.
Though the Meeple Source Kickstarter project has already surpassed its funding goal, it’s still a great opportunity to get character meeples at a fantastic price. Or y’know, just go to the website and order something now.
Meeple Source is a Purple Pawn advertiser and provided a sampling of meeples and tokens free for review.
Get a Life ($12, available April) is a party game in which players assemble companion, accommodation, occupation, transportation, and location cards for either the best lifestyle or the worst. The thing is only a portion of a player’s cards are laid on the table, and also action cards allow players to steal or trade cards with each other. Thus, it can be a surprise when a player that appeared to be aiming for worst lifestyle ends up capturing best.
The cards that comprise UnNatural Selection ($11) have both contestant and attribute aspects. The contestant is a type of creature (e.g., hippopotamus and minotaur) and the attribute a wide range of adjectives (e.g., gassy, wearing a clown costume, and academic). Each round, players submit creatures of theirs to compete in a new contest (such as “winner of a potato sack race” or “fastest sausage stuffer”). Then they use their remaining cards to attach attributes to their and their opponents’ creatures. When all cards are played, the player who’s turn it is to judge that round, must choose one creature as the victor.
Strike a Pose ($20, available April) is a Charades-like action party game with a fashion theme. Players are supposed to pose in ways that represent clues within a category. For example, the Yoga Poses category includes “The Awkward Unicorn” and “The Angry Gamer”. The Trades category includes “Cook” and “Shepherd”.
With Guess the Mess ($20, available April) players make a messy pile of item cards, then have 30 seconds to grab as many items as they can that fit a location card. But that’s not the end. When the timer runs out, players pass their collected cards to each other and try to guess which of the locations was the intended fit. For example, do worms, chocolate, bullets, and scissors go in a bedroom or desk?
Plunder ($25) is a detailed deduction game with a pirate’s hidden-treasure theme. The goal in Plunder is to figure out on which island, at which marker, and protected with what trap is each other pirate’s treasure. As players draw cards, ask questions, and narrow the possibilities, they take notes with dry-erase markers. Cards marked with guesses are placed in a treasure chest.
Coal Baron ($45) is a worker-placement game about mining set in the late 1800s in Essen, Germany. For victory points, players need to fulfill contracts for particular types of coal. To get at that coal, though, they’ll first need to expand their mine tunnels and purchase coal carts. But the longer they delay at sending workers to mine, the more workers it will take to extract the needed coal.
Combining tile-placement and resource-management, New Haven ($40, available April) has players building villages in a New World colony. Stone, sheep, wheat, and timber resources are collected through the placement of tiles, and then used to attract tradesmen, build amenities, and entice more colonists.
Hearts of AttrAction ($20) is mostly alternative packaging to AttrAction. The rules are the same. The main difference is that the magnetic pieces are heart-shaped, which R&R reports make them more active.
Visiting Goliath Games I expected to see some goofy stuff—I mean, this is the company that sold 6 million games about a pooping dog—and I was not disappointed!
Dino Meal ($20) has players trying to steal eggs from the nest of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. They roll a die, reach under the leaf to grab an egg of the matching color, and hope that the T-rex doesn’t pounce. Batteries are not required but sound-effects will be added if you have them. Also, the box features a lenticular T-rex image.
Barbeque Party ($24), formerly an Asmodee game, is similar. Plastic food pieces are placed on a BBQ rack. Players then take turns removing food while trying not to trigger the rack springing in to the air.
In Jumping Jack ($25), players spin for the number of carrots to pull. One will trigger the bunny rabbit to jump, and when it does, the player who’s turn it is must try to catch it.
Googly Eyes ($24) is a Pictionary-like game. However, with this one comes a pair of glasses and a variety of vision-altering lenses. Spaces on the board indicate which set of lenses the person drawing the picture must wear.
Quiz A Majig ($20, available fall) is a trivia game built around a whacky-looking gizmo. Pull the lever and the gizmo spins two dials, pairing a category and first letter. The device also accepts marbles in a score-keeping function. When a player answers correctly, that player’s marble is directed to the visible score tube. The marble of a player that answers incorrectly is hidden.
Crazy Phrases ($20, available fall) is a party game in which players act, spell, draw, and describe idioms.
Catch It! ($24, available spring) is a straight-up action game—maybe more of a juggling toy. Battery-operated, the thing shoots foam balls in to the air for players to try to catch in it’s green funnel.
And finally, there is What the Cluck? ($20, available fall), THE most ridiculous, made-me-lough-out-loud game of Toy Fair! This game is charades with a rubber chicken. That’s right, Charades with a rubber chicken. In other words, players must find some way to incorporate the rubber chicken in to their acts. Now how can that not be funny?
The show afforded me my first opportunity to play with Squashed—a short demo, mind you, but the quality of the product looked just as good as the game design is smart. Not only is the game 3D but play, in a sense, takes on an additional dimension as well. As players move their pawns up and around the sides of the cube, they may also at times flip that 3D game board to squash (eliminate) the pawns of their opponents. The person with the last pawn remaining in play is the winner.
Another new game being demoed by Plasmart was Drop Shot. This one pairs up a simple race-to-the-top game with a Pachinko-like device that may randomly knock a player’s marble back down the track. However, the die that’s rolled for movement also has one face with a bar. When that bar is rolled, a player may place one of three gates anywhere in the race track, either in front of an opponent to block their way, or behind himself to limit how far back he may fall.
The Escapist is giving away some miniatures games: Star Trek Expeditions and two sets of Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Command.
Ares Games is giving away six copies of Inkognito for Mardi Gras. To enter, post a video, image, thought, or quote about Carnival, the Spies, or Venice to the company’s Facebook page. But enter quickly, the contest ends today.
DriveThruRPG is running a GM’s Day Sale.
Dan Verssen Games will include a free box of Girl Scout cookies with each order during the month of March.
Diaspora and Hollowpoint from VSCA are on-sale for 20% off via Lulu.
Precis Intermedia is having a Misprint, Ding, and Dent Sale. Softcover books are being sold for as little as $5.
Funagain Games is also having a Ding & Dent Sale.
GTS Distribution is giving away Cyclades and Kemet from Asmodee.
A Cambridge University student member of the Churchill Backgammon and Scrabble Society (CBSS) was arrested for streaking. He told a student newspaper, “I do not claim responsibility for my actions but instead pass on all liability to the institution of CBSS who were seriously out of control.” That’s some game club!
A year after prevailing in a patent infringement suit against MGA Entertainment, Innovention Toys has won another $2 million to cover its legal fees. A judge in the case found the additional award appropriate because of MGA’s “particularly aggressive tactics.”
For young Chess players in India who wish to participate in age-restricted tournaments but can not produce birth certificates, medical evaluations are being provided for a limited time in Chennai.
Bureaucracy destroyed a valuable antique Backgammon set. The set, which was purchased for $7,000 by an American visiting Europe, was inlaid with ivory. When the purchaser attempted to bring the set home, U.S. Customs confiscated it under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. However, more than 100 years old, the set should have been exempt. The problem was, when contacted, European Union officials wouldn’t issue an exemption certificate until seeing the box in person. U.S. officials, though, refused to return it without a certificate. So of course, their solution to the impasse was to destroy it.
The Oklahoma state House is considering a bill that would declare Dominoes the official state game.
Thieves stole £40,000 of Lego Legends of Chima off a truck in West Yorkshire, UK.
Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion and political opponent of Vladimir Putin in Russia and current candidate for the presidency of FIDE, applied for and was granted citizenship in Croatia where he owns a home and often spends time between his frequent international travels.
Kasparov’s run for the FIDE presidency is having fallout in the English Chess Federation. Nigel Short, a supporter of Kasparov, called for a vote to have Andrew Paulson removed as the organization’s president. Because Paulson is the owner of AGON, which has the current contract to promote the World Chess Championship cycle, some assume that he supports Ilyumzhinov. Paulson however, has stated publicly that he does not. On the other hand, he doesn’t support Kasparov either. In fact, he’s also stated that he’s considering running for the position himself.
Under the leadership of Ilyumzhinov, FIDE is now posting attacks against the reporting of events by journalists.
A Pacific Union College student was arrested for allegedly punching his roommate in the face and breaking his nose during a board game.
In Holly Hill, Florida, a man attacked his father with a sledgehammer—while the father was in bed—over board games played the night before.
In Brooklyn, a man was charged with the murder of his cousin’s wife and four children, which he says he did because the place they took him to live was too noisy from nearby Mahjong games.
A store tried to sell the championship of an X-Wing Miniatures Games tournament.
The World Draughts Federation adopted new rules against match fixing.
In Ukraine, Chess tournaments were held in support of political demonstrations.
The New York Police Department Demographics Unit labeled a Brooklyn park a “location of concern” because Albanian men gathered there to play “chess, backgammon, or just to have a conversation.”
Blizzard Entertainment filed suit in Shanghai, China against Unico Interactive Limited for copying its Hearthstone online card game.
A Kensington councillor spent a council meeting playing Backgammon on his iPad instead of discussing budget cuts.
The former head of the Backgammon Federation of America is suspected by some of strangling his wife. The death was ruled a homicide but the husband was never arrested. His parents have taken custody of the couple’s children and are now seeking access to their wealthy daughter-in-law’s retirement account.
A Wilmington, Deleware man admitted to killing his friend over a dice game as did a man in Dayton, Ohio. In the Bronx, a teenager was arrested for fatally shooting a man over a dice game. And in Tennessee, a man was indicted on first-degree murder charges for a dice-game murder last August. The victims of dice-game shootings in Annapolis, Maryland and Helena, Arkansas survived. A person accused of a dice-game murder in New Jersey lost his bid for reduced bail.
Four men were arrested for gambling on dice behind the York Recreational Center in South Carolina.
Two men in China were jailed for gambling and running cricket fights in a facility meant for Mahjong and Chess.
The owner of a Tokyo Mahjong parlor was arrested for arranging a fake marriage between one of his employees and an erotic masseuse who works in the same building.
First up on my tour of Gamewright’s booth was Pryramix ($24), a game played in three dimensions. The board—if you care to call it that—is formed by stacking cubes in the shape of a pyramid. On his turn, a player may pull any cube exposed on at least two sides. Obviously, if the cube taken is not from the top, the one’s above it will slide down. An ankh cube is worth one point, a crane two points, and an eye three points. However, when only one cube remains in each stack, the game is over and the player with the most ankhs of each color scores a bonus equal to all the cubes that remain on the board with the matching color.
Next up was Qwixx ($11), a European dice game that Gamewright is bringing to the U.S. market. Qwixx is a fast-play game, where the players roll dice of various colors and mark off matches on a score sheet. The more spaces marked off, the more points a player scores. The trick is that once a player has marked off a space, he can’t go back to any space further left.
After Qwixx was another push-your-luck dice game, but one where the goal is to be the player with the fewest points. Dodge Dice ($11) features dice with colored faces; a penalty die, which indicates the number of points scored for matching colors; and an action die, which includes a face that forces the player to stop rolling and take points, a face that converts points to negative, and a face that allows the player to pass the points to someone else. Also, all players start the game with three skip chips, which allow them to bypass taking points for a turn.
Over Under ($10) is part of Gamewright’s Port-a-Party line. It’s a number trivia game where the reader of the question guesses whether everyone’s answers are either more than or less than the correct number.
Sushi Go! ($12), another title being republished by Gamewright, has players passing cards around the table, while keeping those they hope will give them the most maki or a full set of sashimi. In other words, it’s a game of card drafting.
After these new games, I got a look at two extra-large reprints being planned by Gamewright, Rory’s Story Cubes Max ($20) and Super Slamwich ($16).
And finally, from the company’s Brainwright line, I looked at two challenge puzzles, Orbis ($17) and Collide-o-Cube ($20). The former sets up a board with several white marbles, one yellow marble, and an orange pawn. The goal is to push the yellow marble in to the center of the board using the orange pawn. The pawn, however, can only move when and in a direction that it is pushing a white marble.
Collide-o-Cube is one of those three-dimensional puzzles that challenges one to match certain shapes and patterns. What makes this one particularly difficult, though, is that the pieces of this puzzle are magnetic, and therefore attract and repel each other in ways that aren’t apparent until placed close together.
The business of construction block toys is heating up! Mattel has announced the signing of an agreement for the purchase of MEGA Brands for $460 million (total cash for equity and retirement of debt). MEGA Brands produces MEGA BLOKS, which places it as the number 2 company in the construction building sets category. Other businesses of MEGA Brands include Rose Art, MEGA Puzzles, and Board Dudes.
Construction toys have been a growing force in the toy industry. Lego recently surpassed Hasbro as the world’s second largest toy maker. Meanwhile, recent entries in to the category include Hasbro’s Kre-O line and Spin Master’s Ionix.
In a conference call following-up on the company’s announcement, Mattel’s CEO emphasized international distribution and advertising as two areas in which Mattel can assist MEGA Brands’ growth.