Announced at PAX Prime, the first expansion to Magic: The Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers will be bringing Zendikar love to the game. Two new Planeswalkers, Kiora and Ob Nixilis, join the battle with new squads and spells. The really cool part? Kiora is multicolor, allowing you to field a force of Blue and Green. Exact details are sparse right now, but I’ll make sure to post what I find as soon as I know more.

Second Look—King Down

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.

Just about a year ago I had posted a Kickstarter Preview for Kind Down, a chess-like game by designer Saar Shai. Well I finally got my production copy and had a chance to play the released version of the game. The game has changed a bit since I’ve played, but overall the feel is the same. I will say that the rulebook needs a bit of work, as it’s not the best way to learn the game, but Saar knows people’s concerns with this and is working to tighten things up. In the meantime he’s created the following video, which teaches you what you need to know to jump in and play.

I actually did my first real test of the final game with my 5-year-old son. He was able to fully enjoy the game and play mostly on his own with only a bit of help reading some of the spell cards. I hate to admit it, but he actually took the first victory, claiming my King in the Capitol for the final victory points needed to win the game. I guess I got a bit too greedy, trying to snag too many VP without thinking.

Anyway, the game has a great feel to it. The tension of getting the pieces you want activated and having enough cards to pay all the tolls you need to complete your plans all while your opponent is doing the same is a great thrill. My two main complaints with the game are the rulebook, which I previously mentioned, and the box. The box is basically a fancy shoe box. It’s very nice looking, and fairly sturdy, but is kind of awkward to store. Not a huge deal, but still.

There’s a lot under the hood with King Down, and once you get the swing of things it’s an very rewarding game. There’s plenty of choices and sacrifices to make, and the games I’ve played so far have been both quick, and close. We haven’t had any runaway leader situations yet.

Take the time to watch the video and learn how to play the game. I feel it’s a great add to my collection, and it deserves a look.

A copy of King Down was provided free for review by Saar Shai.

Hasbro Crowdfunding Party Games

Hasbro Gaming LabOr should I say crowdsourcing. Well, it’s probably more accurate to call it a combination of the two. Let me explain…

As Hasbro tries to engage more with fans, the company is turning to the public to find the next great party game. The effort is being led by a group in the company called “Hasbro Gaming Lab”.

Hasbro Gaming Lab is a team of passionate and game enthusiasts and designers, whose mission is to discover and develop great new games, connect with the growing gaming community, and bring fresh experiences to gamers everywhere.

Specifically, Hasbro is inviting the public to submit ideas for face-to-face party games. The folks at Hasbro Gaming Lab will select their five favorite, based on the following criteria:

40%: Gameplay (are there well considered rules, balanced mechanics, limited (if any) digital involvement)

20%: Story/theme (abide by a narrative to give dimension to the concept)

20%: Potential for Fun-ness (It should have the potential to bring people together, instigate laughter, or create good times)

20%: Viability (50 foot game boards sound awesome… but it’s unlikely they can be made into a game)

Then to choose the best from among those five, Hasbro is enlisting the help of Indiegogo. All five will be asked to launch their games as projects on the crowdfunding website. When the campaigns are finished, Hasbro judges will choose a single winner, again based on the above criteria—not necessarily the highest funding. The winning project gets a bonus $10,000 direct from Hasbro, as well as free consultation and mentoring sessions at Hasbro’s offices in Providence, Rhode Island (travel expenses paid for a team of three).

Here’s the real amazing thing. Participants, even the winners, retain all rights to their game! Hasbro only requires a right-of-first-refusal. That is, should the winner find a third-party publisher interested in acquiring the game, Hasbro will have the right to meet or exceed the offer.

The deadline for submitting initial ideas on the Hasbro Gaming Lab website is September 30th. Good luck!

[via Entrepreneur]

Chess Innovations?

In South Africa, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs, working with local International Master Watu Kobese, has published a standardized translation of Chess terms in to isiXhosa. The goal is to promote Chess among the nearly 8 million people who speak isiXhosa, a tonal language with click-consonants. Among the new terms, “uthinjiwe” serves for checkmate and a rook is called “umbhayimbhayi”, which means “big gun”.

In Israel, a diving instructor who was uninspired by Chessboxing, thought the classic board game would be better paired with swimming. Thus was born Diving Chess. The game is played underwater with a magnetic board (so the pieces don’t float away) and is kind-of like a game of Rapid or Blitz Chess. However, rather than using a clock, a player’s moves are time-limited by how long they can hold their breath. Lest you think I’m not serious, I’ve included some video below from the recently completed Diving Chess World Championship in London.

Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest


Wizards of the Coast and publisher D3 Go! have just announced Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest for iOS and Android devices. Coming out in the fall, this free-to-play game combines the match-three puzzle mechanics of the popular puzzle RPG, Puzzle Quest with the gameplay and lore of Magic: The Gathering.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Puzzle Quest series ever since the first one was released, so having this crossover with Magic is pretty huge. Unfortunately the game will be free-to-play but with in-app purchases. That fact combined with the type of game it is has me dreading how terrible that combination will be. I’d much rather pay $5 for a quality app than have to deal with all the in-app crap.

Here’s hoping it handles it as well as Magic Duels does.

2015 Pokémon World Champions Announced

The 2015 Pokémon World in Boston, MA just wrapped up over the weekend, and the champions have been announced. Here’s the winners, along with the runner up, for the TCG championships:

2015 Pokémon Trading Card Game World Finalists—Junior Division
(born in 2002 or later)
  • World Champion: Rowan Stavenow (Canada)
  • Second Place: Alejandro Ng-Guzman (United States)
2015 Pokémon Trading Card Game World Finalists—Senior Division
(born in 1998–2001)
  • World Champion: Patrick Martinez (United States)
  • Second Place: Jeffrey Cheng (United States)
2015 Pokémon Trading Card Game World Finalists—Masters Division
(born in 1997 or earlier)
  • World Champion: Jacob Van Wagner (United States)
  • Second Place: Mees Brenninkmeijer (Netherlands)

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesThe current Bundle of Holding offers several alternate and fantasy history games, plus the Timemaster time-traveling RPG, for just $9. Those who pay $22, get two additional games and two adventure ebooks.

Together, The Curated Tee and Peaceable Kingdom are giving away a board game, along with a t-shirt and stickers, via Instagram.

Passport Games is giving away a copy of Fool’s Gold before it hits retail.


Ticket to Ride United Kingdom


Releasing at Esssen in October, the fifth addition to the Ticket to Ride Map Collection will be the United Kingdom. This set includes:

  • Map of United Kingdom (2-4 players)
  • Map of Pennsylvania (2-5 players)
  • New Train cards & Tech Cards (United Kingdom)
  • New Stock Share Cards (Pennsylvania)
  • Tickets & Rules for each Map

Both maps include unique rules, including technology upgrades for the UK map and stocks/investing for the Pennsylvania one. Price for the map pack is listed at $40.

Crowdfunding Highlights

Christopher Ferguson revisits the old zip-top-bag micro war game format with his Kickstarter project for Star Patrol. It’s a hex-and-counter game of spaceship combat that embraces Newtonian space flight mechanics. During the course of the game, players must keep track of inertia and orientation for each of their custom-designed ships.

Also hearkening back to the earlier days of hobby gaming is the Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter from Earnest Gary Gygax Jr. Designed for AD&D (but with stretch goals also compatible with Pathfinder and 5th Edition), the campaign is based on the game Earnest used to run while managing the Dungeon Hobby Shop for TSR.

Another RPG project on Kickstarter turns the 1993 novel, Vurt by Jeff Noon, in to a tabletop game. The setting of Vurt is a cyberpunk world in which munching on color-coded feathers allows people to access an alternate reality. In game form, Vurt will use Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System.

Dingo's Dreams TilesAlternate realities of a sort also make an appearance on the board game front. Dingo’s Dreams from Red Raven Games and designer Alf Seegert has players guiding animals through a dream world. Gameplay involves manipulating a matrix of tiles so that as they’re flipped from landscape-side to animal-side, the animals fit a specific target pattern for the round.

Prime Time from Golden Egg Games is a board game about managing a television network. Players compete to develop shows, cast actors, and fill their weekly schedules in a way that will attract various viewer demographics, earn awards, and sell advertising. A somewhat more substantial Euro-style strategy game, this one nevertheless appears to marry mechanics and theme very well.

Shooting Averted at Pokemon World Championships

Pokemon Guns

Two men from Iowa, 27 year-old James Stumbo and 18 year-old Kevin Norton, have been arrested by police in Boston on various firearm related charges. After making violent threats against attendees on Facebook, the two were stopped from entering the Pokemon World Championships on Friday. A subsequent search of their car turned up a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a hunting knife.

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