Purple Pawn’s 2013 Game Industry Survey is now online.

I collected information from nearly 300 companies from over 20 countries and from 40 US states. Of those companies that didn’t close, the overwhelming majority are doing fine or better than last year. 13% report doing worse than last year (down 2% from last year’s survey); this percentage doesn’t take into account companies that closed.

More than half of responding publishers use, or plan to use, a crowdfunding source such as Kickstarter to publish their games.

Among responding retailers, Hasbro’s Magic: the Gathering CCG, Game Workshops’ Warhammer miniatures and rules, Mayfair Games’ Catan board and card games, and Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG products were at the top again this year, as they have been for the last three years. Rio Grande Games’ Dominion games sales dropped; its place in the top five was taken by Konami’s perennially popular Yu-Gi-Oh CCG.

Pathfinder products outperformed Wizards of the Coasts’ Dungeons & Dragons products by 2.5 to 1 – even more than last year – while players wait for D&D 5th edition to be released later this year. Gaming accessories, such as card sleeves, and items consumed by gamers, such as soft drinks, continue to be strong dependable sellers. RPG and miniature products from smaller publishers were included in the bestselling product lines of some retailers.

Strong new sellers this year include Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars X-Wing miniatures, Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Edge of Empires RPG, and basically all Fantasy Flight Games’ living card games (LCGs), especially Android Netrunner (many retailers simply listed “Fantasy Flight Games” as their best selling products).

Another big new seller at responding retailers is Cards Against Humanity, a perverse alternative to more traditional and safe party games. Amazon already listed this game as a top-seller during most of 2012, but the survey respondents are now catching up.

An ad from Caterpillar ups the ante on giant Jenga:

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesThe Order of the Iron of the Crown is Iron Crown Enterprises volunteer program. Participants can earn points toward ebooks and branded products. For example, running a demo session and having two people sign up for the ICE forums as a result will earn $5 off an ICE product at DriveThruRPG.

paxeast2StoneBlade Entertainment

The creators of Ascension Chronicle Of The Godslayer have just put a new electronic CCG for the PC and iOS devices called SolForge. The game is a line-based battle CCG with Richard Garfield on the design team. It’s free-to-play, but you can purchase more cards and tournament vouchers as in-app purchases. I was able to fool around with it for a bit, and even try a draft tournament out. It’s very solid, with great art and gameplay. As you use cards they’re discarded, leveled up, and eventually brought back into your hand later. Combining this deck-building mechanic with traditional CCG play is a great combination.

Mantic Games

2493.1.368.368.FFFFFF.0One of my favorite games at the show that I saw was DreadBall from Mantic Games. DreadBall is a sci-fi sports games where players are trying to get a 200mph, weapons-grade ball into one of three goals. There’s a bunch of teams available to purchase and play, and an in-depth set of rules that can scale up or down depending on how complex you want the game to be.

There’s a couple ways to get into the game. There’s the base set, or you can buy one of the rulebooks and a few teams to get started.

I’m by no means a sports fan, but I can’t deny how much fun I had demoing this one.

Mayfair Games

IMG_0581Mayfair had a few things to show, but most has been seen before. What new game I did get to see and demo was Mad City. It’s a light game where you’re drawing 9 random tiles from a bag and trying to group the colors of the city pieces together to score the largest chains before the minute sand-timer runs out. There’s also bonuses for large parks and the longest road. It almost feels like speed Carcassonne where you’re only scoring the farmers. A single round plays and scores in 2-3 minutes, which makes this a great filler game.


Sails of Glory Scenarios Contest

sailsofglroyAres Games is holding a Sails of Glory Scenarios Contest where you can win 12 new ship models. Entries will be accepted untilMay 10th, 2014, and have to conform to the scenario format found in the Sails of Glory Starter Set rulebook and in the Historical Scenarios PDF booklet. Everyone can submit up to 3 scenarios.


Second Look—Voodoo Island

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.Voodoo Island is a light two-player tile-laying game coming to Kickstarter this week. In Voodoo Island, one player controls an explorer, stranded on a remote island, whose goal is to search the entire island and return to the shoreline. The other player controls the hungry zombies the explorer unwittingly disturbs.

We start with four piles of 3×3 island tiles, face down, to draw from. One tile in each of those piles spawns a zombie. Zombies chase the explorer; the explorer explores. Early in the game, the explorer only has one slow zombie to contend with and, with a large number of unrevealed island tiles, several paths for escape. In the late stages of the game, the island is pretty much well-defined and there are multiple zombies in play, trying to trap the explorer. The explorer also has some 2×2 tiles to place on jungle spaces as he uses his machete to carve new paths.

voodooThe playtest version we used only had the basic scenario: explore the island by placing all 22 tiles, then return to the starting location tile. Voodoo Island is quite clever in what it does with movement around the island, but the overall experience seems a bit simple. By that, I mean that the game plays just fine, but it seems that all one would do is go out, explore, and return – but we were hoping that there would be a bit more with the game. The setting blurb talks about an explorer repairing a boat on the shore while your family wandered off into the jungle and you have to “go explore the island and find them”. Presumably there are additional scenarios that involve actually finding these dumb relatives of yours, but the base set components doesn’t list anything that isn’t used in the “Welcome to Voodoo Island” scenario. (This scenario is the only one in the playtest version we received. I am assuming this scenario is one for teaching the game basics.) But without additional components, our guess is you don’t actually look for missing relatives, go in search of materials to repair that boat, scout around for hidden treasure, nor do anything else on this island other than go out, come back, and dodge zombies. While we did enjoy the game and want to play at least another time or two, I am not sure how often we would return to Voodoo Island.


The bottom line: As a simple fifteen to twenty minute two-player game, it’s just fine. It’s quite nice to lead zombies on a merry chase around the island. The puzzle created as the explorer tries to establish a course with multiple paths back home while the zombie player is trying to block and corner the tasty human is quite fun. But a bit more depth – which may lie in the other scenarios in the final version as with any unlocked stretch goal expansions – would get Voodoo Island out to the table more often.

The image above contains playtest components. Original image source

A copy of Voodoo Island was provided free for review by The Flux Capacity.


This year is the first year I’ve had the opportunity to attend PAX East in Boston, MA. Mostly known as a convention for video gamers, there’s a large, and growing, tabletop  component to the show. Though I only attended the show on Friday, I was able to see a LOT of great stuff for the tabletop, and even demo a few new games. Since there was a lot to see, I’ll be breaking this up in to several posts over the next few days so as not to overload everyone.

Wizards of the Coast

My first stop was the Wizards of the Coast booth were they were showcasing the 2015 version of Duels of the Planeswalkers. While none of the new cards have been added to the alpha build yet, I was able to check out the new UI and tweaks to the game overall. While 2014 was a vast improvement over 2013, 2015 is just a more polished, smooth update to 2014. The new deck builder is supposedly more robust, but wasn’t available yet. Overall I was impressed with what I saw, and can’t wait to get my hands on a finished version with all the new features and cards.

Wizards also had a demo station set up on the tabletop floor for Kaijudo, where they were explaining the new draft format, and had samples of their new competitive decks. These decks are constructed to be a bit more competitive than current pre-constructed decks, and make for much more exciting play. I was able to get one to bring home, and will soon be testing it out with the kids. One of the most exciting aspects of the draft format, coming out this May, is that the number of cards in booster packs is going up from 9 to 14. The price will stay the same. Now you’ll be able to buy 3 boosters per person to host a draft game.

Privateer Press

Privateer Press’s booth had several things going on, but the main two attractions were Zombies Keep Out and Warmachine Tactics.

IMG_0579Zombies Keep Out is a cooperative board game for 1-6 players where everyone is trying to keep zombies from breaking down the barricades to a goblins’ workshop. Players work together to try and build crazy contraptions to stop the zombie horde before they break down the barricades and invade the workshop. One of the cooler mechanics of the game is that players who suffer zombie bites have to slowly start acting like zombies. 1 bite means a player has to start slurring their speech while playing. They also can’t trade cards. More bites start making the player have to moan and point, instead of speaking.

Privateer was also showing off Warmachine Tactics, a PC game of the popular miniatures franchise. The game looks pretty amazing, and feels solid. The really cool part of the game will come to a future update of the build. Players will actually be able to paint their units. Not just color them, but paint them. Since the data will be stored procedurally, it takes very little power to send your unit customizations to another player over the internet, so any player you play against will see your custom units on the field. The game is currently still in development, but will see a release around the end of the summer.

Geek Chic

One of the most amazing things I saw at PAX was the Geek Chic book. We’ve covered their tables in the past, but I’ve never gotten a chance to see one in person. Flat out, these are some of the most amazing, beautiful pieces of furniture I’ve ever seen. They’ve got tables in every size and shape to meet the needs of gamers in all stages of life. From coffee tables and GM desks to kitchen tables and the famous Sultan, these tables just ooze class.



ScrabbleFor those who were hoping for another Q-word option, I’m sorry to report that it’s “GEOCACHE” that will be the fan-contributed word added to the new edition of Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. Thousands of other words are also being added this summer, however “GEOCACHE” is eligible for official tournament play in the United States and Canada immediately. Hasbro announced the addition after collecting fan input for 16 nominated words via Facebook.

In terms of gameplay, “GEOCACHE” is an interesting word to be selected. It’s an eight-letter word (as a reminder, players only hold seven letter-tiles at a time) but is worth only 16 points. Also to play it, a person will need both of the available “C”s.

Kobold Guide to Magic

Kobold Guide to MagicSummoning, invisibility, divination, and secret societies are just some of the subjects covered in the Kobold Guide to Magic. Kobold Press’ latest game design guide also includes chapters on “Making Magic Believable” and “Putting the Magic Back Into Magic”.

With chapters penned by 20 different game and fiction authors, the Kobold Guide to Magic is 160 pages of fantasy gaming advice.

Magic 2015 – Duels of the Planeswalkers will be released this Summer for Xbox One, Xbox 360, iPad, PC via Steam, Android via Google Play, and Kindle via Amazon Marketplace. Magic 2015 will put players at the center of the action as the deadliest hunter in the Magic Multiverse, Garruk Wildspeaker, shifts his hunter’s instinct away from beasts of the wild to the ultimate quarry—you!

This year’s edition of Duels of the Planeswalkers will include new features such as the ability to build customized decks, new booster packs with premium downloadable content, and an even more robust deck builder.

Fans attending PAX East in Boston this weekend will have the chance to be the first to demo Magic 2015Duels of the Planeswalkers in the Magic: The Gathering booth, #462. Additionally, visitors to the show will have the opportunity to earn an exclusive Garruk Wildspeaker Pinny Arcade pin by demoing the new game or participating in other in-booth activities.

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