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

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesDriveThruRPG is in the middle of its annual New Year, New Game sale. Among the 948 items discounted, a few highlights:

A Humble Book Bundle for Pathfinder Worldscape features the comic, Pathfinder rule books, and a complete adventure path.

Bundle of Holding features Adventurer Conqueror King for epic-scale adventures in and old-school RPG.

The first edition of King Arthur Pendragon RPG is free on DriveThruRPG until the 31st.

Osprey Publishing’s January Sale includes more than 400 items at up to 70% off. The company is also running another modeling competition, this time for work based on ancient Rome.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away a Vikings Gone Wild Ultimate Set from Lucky Duck Games.

Get a free pack of A.J.’s Toyboarders (toy skateboarding figures) with the purchase of either Ramps & Rails or Skateboard Madness board games from Mindtwister USA.

Through February, new and renewed premium memberships to the U.S. Backgammon Federation will get free access to the GammonSite Backgammon server for 1 year.

Subscribers to HarnQuest can get any of Columbia Games’ Harn titles in PDF form for 50% off.

To celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary, Reaper Minis is giving out free Grim Reaper figures, one for each $40 of product ordered.

Operational Studies Group is holding a Winter Sale.

Dog Might Games’ new Fiery Dice Chests are an introductory 20% off.

Shogi de Chocolat

From Isshindo Honpo Co. in Tokyo, it’s a set of chocolate Shogi pieces, one each king, rook, bishop, knight, lance, pawn, gold general, and silver general. The pieces are regulation shape and size, and endorsed by the Japan Shogi Association. Though made of the same chocolate, the different pieces are said to present different textures, mouth-feel, and scent.

Available January 26th, a set of Shogi de Chocolat will retail for ¥1400.

When developing a game, American game designers often weigh the advantages of printing locally in the United States with printing overseas. Overseas printing is usually cheaper, but slower to produce. For small companies or individuals fulfilling their first Kickstarter campaign, this can be a simple decision to make. For larger companies, overseas printing can result in substantial savings as current U.S. corporate tax laws can allow toy and game manufacturers to deduct the cost of imported goods from their profits. But a proposal to apply a broad adjustment to tax law would strip larger companies of that ability.

“The border adjustment, part of the Republicans’ plan for a revamped tax system, would apply taxes based on where a product is sold rather than where it is made or where the maker’s operations or executives are based. Imports couldn’t be deducted as a cost of doing business, while exports would be exempted,” reads an article published in the Wall Street Journal. Timothy Conder, a toy-industry analyst for Wells Fargo, stated that Hasbro generates about half its revenue domestically but manufactures about 95% of its product overseas. Under a worst-case scenario, he estimates Hasbro’s 2017 earnings would drop from $4.76 a share to $4.14 with the tax code change.

Additional reporting can be found at The Wall Street Journal.

New fellowships are available for research at the The Strong’s National Museum of Play. The idea is to support researchers accessing the museum’s library; collection of toy, doll, and game artifacts; and video and electronic game resources. The G. Rollie Adams Research Fellowships will provide academic professionals, independent scholars, museum scholars, and advanced graduate students at the masters or doctorate level with $500 per-week stipends. Applications are due April 20th.

Pro Chess League

Today sees the first games of a new Pro Chess League with competitions online by some of the top-rated players in the world, including grandmasters Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Participating in the league are 48 teams from five continents, and divided in to four divisions for the convenience of scheduling games.

The inaugural season will feature 7 weeks of regular play with most games taking place on Wednesdays. Games are to be of the rapid format, meaning time controls of 15 minutes plus a 2 second increment per move. Matches will follow the Scheveningen system—each team will post four players and each player on one team will face each player on the other team—so that even the not-so-highly-ranked members will have an opportunity to play against the top grandmasters.

In fact, every week, teams are required to put up four players with an average FIDE Elo rating under 2500. Also three of the four must be from the team’s local area.

At the end of the regular season, half the teams will proceed on to a single-elimination playoff, the top-four of which will enter a championship match scheduled for March.

This first season of the Pro Chess League carries a prize fund of $50,000. Most of that is to be divided between the winner and runner-up of the championship.

All games will be broadcast live online with commentary at

Go Miami!

Hasbro has announced the Monopoly Token Madness Vote, which leaves the fate of all eight current Monopoly tokens in the hands of the fans for the first time.  Yes. That means the car, too.

From January 10 – 31, you can head to to choose eight tokens they’d like to see in the next Monopoly game. There’s a total of 64 tokens, including the current eight tokens and 50+ new contenders such as a penguin, sliced bread, hashtag, emojis, and more. This is the first time all eight tokens could get voted out of the game. The winning tokens will be announced on World Monopoly Day, March 19, and the fan-picked tokens will be updated in the Monopoly game hitting shelves this August.

You can see a full gallery of the new tokens below:

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In 2014, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity the game of Mongolian Knuckle-Bone Shooting. The game is played by flicking sum (tiles made from deer horn) along khashlaga (wood guides) to knock down khasaa (dice targets made of sheep bones). The khasaa are stacked in a stage-like backdrop called aravch. Another common tool for the game is the havchaakhai, a crossbow-like device that elderly players can use instead of flicking. Instead of free-form cheers and jeers, a regular system of songs and chants exists, with players from all teams, even competitors, joining-in for specific tunes based on a shooter’s performance.

To help maintain cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region, UNESCO in Bangkok has collected a catalog of 90 traditional children’s games with advice on how to use them in an educational setting.

In Djibouti, a UNESCO project, “Safeguarding Traditional Games of the Afar and the Somali People in the Horn of Africa“, worked with local authorities in 2007-2008 to survey the games of regional nomadic societies. Kits were produced for three traditional board games—Bub, Riyo ka dhalis, and Shax—and distributed in three languages to all high schools and ministries in the country. A national tournament series was even held, with over 300 hundred participants.

More recently, UNESCO has begun working with Chinese IT company Tencent to create a digital library of traditional games.

UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage program has additionally recognized the Sportimonium, a museum in Belgium, for its cultivation of “ludodiversity”. Much of the institution is focused on the preservation and study of sports artifacts but it also pays significant attention to traditional tabletop and garden games, which are on display, as well as available for borrowing.

The German Commission for UNESCO maintains its own Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, on which it lists the Chess traditions of Ströbeck village and the playing of Skat. Chess in Ströbeck goes back to the year 1011. The village for much of that time played its own variant with 96 squares called Courier Chess, has mandated Chess education in primary schools since 1823, has held games of living Chess since 1688, and requires grooms to play Chess against the mayor in order to win their bride. Skat is a trick-taking card game for three players (or four with one sitting out each round) originating from 1813 and now popular across Germany.

While I may not be a huge fan of Monopoly in general, but my kids are. Not only are they fans, but they really like licensed versions of the game. USAopoly’s MONOPOLY: The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition as been a huge hit in our household for quite some time.

How excited was I when Hasbro said they had mailed me out a copy of USAopoly’s MONOPOLY: Pokémon Johto Edition? Not as excited as I knew my kids would be. Pokémon is huge in our household, and my kids were in even more of a Pokémon froth with the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon.

So how is it? Really well made. It’s colorful, dripping with Pokémon artwork and theme, and has really nice Pokémon tokens that the kids constantly fight over. It’s hours upon hours of Pokémon MONOPOLY fun.

Seriously, though. If you like MONOPOLY, and you like Pokémon, this edition of the game is for you.

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesIn the Hunan province of China, a mother allegedly locked her 3 year-old son in a dog cage so she could play Mahjong undisturbed. The woman admits she put her son there because he was being noisy but says she wasn’t playing Mahjong and someone else locked the cage. The person who found the boy said, “I don’t know who his parent is. After I shared the news on social media, I hurried to get someone to open the cage.”

In Hong Kong, a 62 year-old man is under arrest for allegedly stabbing to death the friend with whom he often played Mahjong. Police suspect there was a debt involved.

The Japan Shogi Association, which had previously banned 9th-dan-ranked Hiroyuki Miura for possible cheating (noting that he had left his seat an unusual number of times during a tournament), has now apologized for the action and reinstated the player. A third-party investigation found no evidence of cheating. The association’s three executives also promised to take a 30 percent pay-cut for 3 months.

Someone broke in to All Aboard Games in Kamloops, British Columbia and stole X-Wing Miniatures figures. The getaway was caught on video.

A man who robbed a Mahjong parlor at gunpoint in Zhengjiang, China claims that he intended to get caught. Police traced his getaway vehicle and in his home found the 10,000 yuan he stole, as well as the gun he used, which turned out to be fake. The man then told police that being sent to jail was the only way he could figure to avoid a 300,000 yuan debt to a loan shark. The money he borrowed, by the way, he used to finance his own high-interest loan. It was after his debtor failed to pay up that he concocted this brilliant plan with the fake gun.

The government of Venezuela raided the warehouse of toy distributor Kreisel, confiscated its inventory, and then promised to give the toys away free to the public. As explanation for the action, the government claims that the company was hoarding toys during a period of rapid inflation.

In 2012, professional Poker player Phil Ivey, along with a woman, Cheng Yin Sun, who had learned through many hours of study to spot subtle variations on the backs of certain playing cards, managed to win $9.6 million playing Baccarat at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. Relying on the same skill, they later also did well at a London casino. The London casino, though, withheld their winnings and a British judge ruled their actions cheating. After hearing of that case, the Borgata sued to recover its money. Now, a U.S. federal court judge has ruled that what they did in Atlantic City wasn’t fraud because it didn’t break the rules of Baccarat. However, the judge did find them to have violated New Jersey’s Casino Control Act “in complete contravention of the fundamental purpose of legalized gambling” and he’s ordered the pair to return their winnings.

Military police in Phuket, Thailand raided a townhouse that was set up to host illegal gambling on Mahjong. Eleven people were arrested.

After a Lords vs. Commons Chess match several MPs in the U.K. are resurrecting efforts to have Chess recognized as a sport and, therefore, exempt from VAT. Some say they would accept the alternative of defining Chess as a “mindsport”, so that it would not conflict with the Council of Europe’s Sports Charter.

Someone stole the Franklin Mint Civil War Chess set that a woman inherited from her grandfather. It was taken from the trunk of her car as she was preparing to move out of West Jordan, Utah. About a week later, after the theft was reported on local TV news, the set was anonymously turned in to local police.

A 39 year-old man is under arrest in South Carolina for showing up at his girlfriend’s house drunk, throwing her board game to the floor, and flinging the pieces around the room—also for allegedly putting her friend in a hammerlock when she asked him to pick up the mess.

A Bristol, UK jury has cleared a man of sexual assault charges. A woman had claimed that he attacked her during a game of Scrabble.

The Kansas City area, already blessed with several really nice game stores, now has another in the Shawnee Mission area. Mission: Board Games represents the realization of a dream for owner Mason Hans, who’s also a native of the area.

New in the small town of Peace River, Alberta is Tapped Out Gaming and Trading, a shop that focuses on Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon.

Board game cafe, Alchemy, opens soon in a 17th century building in Derby, England.

Game On, which carries tabletop games, video games, and comics, has opened a fourth location in Grand Island, Nebraska.

D20: A Bar With Characters has just opened in Kettering, Ohio. It’s open to 1:00 AM (midnight on Sunday) with a large selection of craft beers, or family-friendly mocktails during daytime hours.

New at the Three Rivers Mall in Kelso, Washington is Mythic Escapes, a game shop with in-store escape rooms. This is Mythic Escape’s second location, the previous one in Vancouver.

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