Classic board games are games played before 1900 or so, such as chess, go, backgammon, dice, dominoes, and pachisi.


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.

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.

Tony Go has a reissue of Deep Space D-6, which has packaging reminiscent of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, which is really what grabbed my attention. This is a slightly revised edition of a single-player game kickstarted a few years back, where you roll crew dice to assign them to stations on board your spaceship to complete a mission… in spaaaaace! “Slightly revised” as in “we’re reprinting the whole thing and adding a new mini expansion”. Check out the original campaign for details, then go and support the reissue campaign. A $20 pledge gets you a copy of the game in December.

If you asked me who the top three Cthulhu RPG developers are, Graham Walmsley is on that short list. Graham is bringing Cthulhu Dark to print. He describes it as a “tabletop roleplaying game of cosmic horror, with stripped-back rules that drive a bleak and terrifying story”, Cthulhu Dark is a 200 page book that focuses on the mystery and the bleak horror of Lovecraft’s work. The majority of the book is done, except final editing and layout, so the PDF will be available just after the campaign ends. Physical copies are estimated in December and can be yours for as little as GBP32 (roughly 41 USD).

Texas Hold’em with ZOMBIES. Because sure, why not?  A physical copy of the game in November is a reward for a $25 pledge.

unPresidented: Bigger and Better is a board game where an easily manipulated president of an unnamed country has just been elected and you’re trying to push your agenda by getting him to pass the policies you want. Get the buffoon to pass more of your policies than your fellow party members’ without having the approval rating of the figurehead dropping too low, and you win! While there isn’t much detail on how the game plays, it looks like there was some actual thought put into this game, unlike the dozens of other Trump-themed game-like objects that have appeared on Kickstarter over the past year. (Note: don’t confuse this with Unpresidented Biggerer and Betterer, which doesn’t look as good.)  55 Canadian bucks (about 41 USD or 32 GBP [see Cthulhu Dark]), gets you a copy in November.

First it defeated the World Go Champion. Then it took down the world’s top ranked player in straight games 3-0. Finally, it won against a team of five champions working together. Now, with no serious competition left, the AlphaGo artificial intelligence program is retiring from the game. According to its developer, Google-subsidiary DeepMind:

The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials. If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable.

As one last gift to Go players, though, the program was set to play against itself over 50 games and the results are being published for study. One 9 Dan professional player described them as, “Like nothing I’ve ever seen before – they’re how I imagine games from far in the future.”

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesA few days early for Memorial Day sales…

Along with 1,300+ other products at 15% off or more, DriveThruRPG’s OSR Extravaganza sale includes three amazing bundle offers for old TSR D&D products at 80% off. There’s the AD&D Core Rulebook bundle, the Planescape bundle, and the Known World bundle.

In recognition of the UEFA Champions League Final, Real Madrid and Juventus Subbuteo products have been discounted 25%.

Follow, like, and retweet Coiledspring Games (UK) for a chance to win Kingdomino.

Also giving away Kingdomino (from Blue Orange Games in the U.S., though the giveaway is also open to Europe), two copies, is The Giveaway Geek.

The East Texas University Collector’s Box Set (Savage Worlds RPG) contains book, bennies, and dice for 32% off the prices sold separately.

From Litko Game Accessories get $5 off purchases of $50, $15 off $100, or $40 off $200.

For 25% off the 7th Sea Core Rulebook or Pirate Nations, use coupon code “PIRATES5”.

To get a free scenery pack with a £50 order, or two with a £100 order, from Spartan Games, use coupon code “FREESCENERY”.

For 15% off regular-priced items from Toys “R” Us (online only), use coupon code “MAY15”.

Dog Might Games’ Massive Memorial Day Sale means 25% off and free metal symbols on Dice Chests, 20% off dice towers, 30% off Dragon Sheaths, free metal dice with Dice Guards, and free sculpts and lights on Adventure Cases.

Get $10 off orders of $50 or more from HasbroToyShop with promo code “MAYSAVE10”.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Flatline from Renegade Game Studios, Ravage Dungeons of Plunder from Beardy Brothers, a set of the Rone base game and two expansions, and Groves from Letiman Games.

Cardhaus Games is having a Memorial Day Sale. Cool Stuff Inc. is having a Pre-Memorial Day Sale. And Funagain Games is having a Spring Sale.

Our founder, Yehuda Berlinger, has secured a 10% discount code, “JERGAMES2017”, for the high-end Chess and Backgammon sets (and other items) from Made in Firenze.

Game Philia is giving away a copy of Night Clan. But what happens if Night Clan doesn’t fund on Kickstarter?

Amazon deals:

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Scoreboard

Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresTaking home the trophy and a $10,000 prize at the North American School Scrabble Championship was the team of eighth-grader Jem Burch and seventh-grader Zach Ansell, both of Los Angeles. Their final round score was 374-349 on such words as eugenia, infares, entresol, and steeping.

At the Xi’an Cherry Blossom tournament in China, Kaijun Lin solved a 5×5 Rubik’s Cube in a world record 4 minutes, 11.93 seconds. Then 2 weeks later, he broke his own record, solving the 5×5 in 4 minutes, 10.00 seconds.

Fourth-dan Sota Fujii, the youngest ever professional Shogi player, has extended his winning streak to 16 matches.

The final round of the Women’s World Chess Championship saw Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine, GM, 2558) and Tan Zhongyi (China, WGM, 2502) tied 2-2 after four games of classic time controls, and still even after the first rapid tie-break game. Zhongyi, though, won the second and the World Champion title.

Wesley So, now the world’s number 2 ranked Chess player, came in first at the U.S. National Championship but only after facing down Alex Onischuk 1½-½ in a rapid playoff round. In the women’s section, sixth seed Sabina-Francesca Foisor was the winner with an 8-3 score, one point ahead of the 2016 champion.

The German Bundesliga professional Chess league has finished its season with the Baden-Baden team reclaiming the title it had lost last year after 10 previous consecutive wins. In the 4NCL English professional league, team Guilford won for the fifth year in a row.

Keegan “Kelian-05” Tailleur was the winner of the 9th Memoir ’44 French Open, a 2 day tournament with special scenarios based on tanks.

A new world record has been set for most dominoes toppled in a single line: 15,524.

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For Asian Heritage Month, the Peel Art Gallery Museum & Archives near Toronto is hosting a special exhibit on the traditional board games of India.

Board games have a universal appeal that transcends language and culture. “The Art of Kreeda” means “the art of playing”. This exhibit entertains, educates and pays tribute to the iconic board games that India introduced to the world.

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesA 12 year old girl was ejected from the National Scholastic Chess Championship in Malaysia for wearing a dress whose hemline was above the knee. According to the girl’s Chess coach, an official at the event called her dress “too seductive”. The tournament’s director said that he was not there at the time but that four arbiters, including one woman, together decided that the dress was too revealing when the girl sat down. Since the allegations attracted international attention, the director has promised to sue the coach, as well as the girl’s mother, for defamation. He claims to have evidence that the picture of the dress being publicized by the coach via Facebook is fake. The whole situation is now being investigated by police.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office will not pursue charges against a Muslim televangelist who said that “playing Chess is worse than gambling and eating pork.” The prosecutor’s office refused a complaint from the public and instead sided with the televangelist, asserting that his statements fell within his rights to freedom of thought and expression.

A 1764-rated Chess player from India was expelled from the Dubai Open after an arbiter discovered that he was hiding a mobile phone in his sleeve. The player refused to show the arbiter whether or not the phone was running a Chess program but was still expelled from the tournament because carrying a phone is against the rules.

Thieves broke in to The Realm Games in Mansfield, Ohio early on a Sunday morning and stole about $8,000 worth of merchandise. Most of the value in stolen items came from Magic: The Gathering singles. Surveillance camera footage, however, shows that one of the thieves had no idea what he was doing and grabbed boxes of regular playing cards.

A woman in Japan who also had no idea about the potential value of old Magic: The Gathering cards took the collection her grown son had left at home (which included a Black Lotus) and put them up for sale as a bundle in an online auction. Someone who realized what was going on got word to her son, who was able to stop the sale before the transaction was complete.

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a woman and her boyfriend got in to an argument over a game of Monopoly. He punched her several times and stabbed her with a box cutter. She whacked him in the head with a liquor bottle.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a woman tried to break through her roommate’s door with an ax after an argument over a game of Dominoes.

A game of Dominoes in New Orleans also erupted in an argument, whereupon one of the players went in to his house, retrieved a knife, returned to the game, and stabbed another player.

During a Minnesota House debate of a law that would increase penalties for protesters who block roads, Democratic Minority Leader Melissa Hortman triggered a “call of the House” procedure to force the return of absent lawmakers. “I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room, but I think this is an important debate,” she said.

Gazdálkodj okosan is a Hungarian personal finance board game dating back to 1960. It’s manufacturer never trademarked the game’s name but did register it for copyright. When recently another party attempted to trademark a color logo for that same title, the manufacturer filed an opposition. Both the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office and Metropolitan Tribunal have now rejected the trademark opposition claim, finding that the original name lacked visual distinctiveness, nor was it sufficiently familiar to the public.

Though he only narrowly escaped ouster by the organization’s board a week before, and in the process was stripped of much of his real authority, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov promises to again run for FIDE president in 2018.

The president of the Zimbabwe Chess Federation committed suicide, jumping from the 9th floor of a building while under investigation related to his previous positions in the government.

A magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe board sold at Target has been recalled because if two pieces are swallowed they could clamp together “cause intestinal obstructions, perforations, sepsis and death.”

Upper Deck has applied for a U.S. trademark on the name “Splendor” with regard to trading cards. Can anyone think of an existing card game called “Splendor”?

In order to avoid running afoul of any gambling laws, the recently formed Poker Sports League in India does not require contestants to pay any kind of participation or entry fee or wager any money. It does, however, award cash prizes to winners. Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court is currently in the process of reviewing the status of Poker after an application by the Indian Poker Association, which seeks to halt a government campaign to shut down Poker clubs.

Senior citizens who regularly met at a community center in Richmond, British Columbia were told that their small-stakes wagering on Bridge and Poker (as in about 10¢ a chip) was illegal and would not be allowed to continue. They tried to move their games to the homes of individuals but that hasn’t worked out very well. Also, one of the group, a former police officer, claims that the wagering isn’t illegal as long as the house doesn’t claim a stake.

In Selina, Kansas, a man threatened his Walmart coworkers during an argument over a break-room card game. When he returned to the store 3 days later and threatened them again, they called police, who searched his car and found a handgun.

The robbery at gunpoint of a Jackson, Mississippi dice game resulted in the injury of two players and the death of one of the robbers. A second robber was later arrested, while police are still trying to identify the third.

An argument over a dice game inside a Harker Heights, Texas nightclub led to the shooting deaths of two men. A female suspect identified by eyewitnesses and surveillance video has surrendered to police.

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Spin Master is acquiring Marbles, maker and retailer of “brain-building” games, gifts, and gadgets. Marbles has been undergoing bankruptcy proceedings and the purchase, including proprietary and licensed games, warehoused inventory, and the Marbles name and website, has been approved by the bankruptcy court. Spin Master is not acquiring Marbles’ retail operations.

Announcing the acquisition, Spin Master touted the move as a continuation of its growth in the games category. Previous acquisitions included Cardinal Industries and Editrice Giochi.

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Okay, this is strange.

So there’s Shut Up & Sit Down, a games review site that publishes game news, and they’re kind of a big deal. Like, crazy big in the general gaming otherspace that’s not actually involved in designing or publishing games. Over 50,000 people are subscribed to their YouTube channel with several review videos having over 100,000 views.

Now they’ve decided to leverage their brand to launch a quite small gaming convention in “annoyingly beautiful” Vancouver, Canada on October 6th through October 8th of this year. Aiming to sell 740 tickets to a board game convention based in a downtown hotel (The Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown), they’re bringing the Seattle Megagames Society to run a few events over the weekend and a few select publishers (some small people, like Fantasy Flight Games and Plaid Hat Games) to run demo areas. Mainly funded by ticket sales instead of exhibit hall rental space, Shut Up & Sit Down is hoping that the US$150 admission price will help fund this show and lay the groundwork for future SHUX shows.

In particular, they’re using the funds to pay for flights and hotels for SHUX’s special guests. “You would be shocked by how few conventions do this,” SU&SD writes. SU&SD co-founder Paul Dean responded to that thread on their website:

…We constantly get invited to speak at or put on events at other cons, ones with far bigger budgets, without any offers of accommodation or travel assistance or fees for our time/preparation/work. That basically boils down to people saying to us “Please be an attraction we can advertise at our con for free,” while we look at air fares and hotel costs running into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

That sucks and we don’t want to do that to other people.

The mainly UK-based media company said that one of the reasons they chose to debut SHUX in North America is that continent has about 70% of their audience. “The UK is 15% of our audience, and has been from day 1,” was posted on Shut Up & Sit Down’s twitter. “70% of our donors are US and CA. If anything, it was the USA that gave us our start.”

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