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


The winner of the 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming is Gen Con. Not only is the award totally deserved because Gen Con is a fantastically fun convention, but it’s also not so surprising that it was awarded this particular year, the show’s 50th.

Running this weekend in Indianapolis, Gen Con for the first time completely sold out of badges this year. And I hear that after just one day, so have several of the most anticipated new games.

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Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesThe Genius of Play, a program of The Toy Association, is holding a Back-to-Play sweepstakes, with nominations being taken for a school to win $1,000 in educational toys and learning materials.

Gamewright is giving away a copy of Jump Ship!, one of its Cardventures series of games.

During Gen Con (that is, this coming Thursday through Sunday), Asmodee will be giving away free Steam keys for Ticket to Ride and Mysterium.

Also in recognition of Gen Con, Jon Brazer Enterprises is running a sale on all print RPG books ($2 off everything under $10, $5 off everything over).

Turn One Gaming Supplies is giving away two copies of Space Invaders Dice.

Use promo code “SHIPAUG17” for free shipping in August from HasbroToyShop.com.

Modiphius Entertainment’s Month of Madness Sale means 70% off on Achtung! Cthulhu ebooks.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away two copies of The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire from CMON and one copy of Nexus: Scrapyard from Pawn Joker Games.

Save up to 30% in Osprey Games’ Summer Sale. Or enter the company’s Triple Sprue Challange (kitbashing Frostgrave figures) for a chance at the grand prize of Frostgrave books, accessories, and more figures, or runner-up prizes of 20% discount vouchers.

Board Game Revolution is giving away Feudum and Queens Army Expansion from Mark Swanson.

Available now at Bundle of Holding is BASH! from Basic Action Games. The $8.95 starter collection includes the Ultimate Edition (superhero), Fantasy Edition, and Sci-Fi Edition rulebooks, and an adventure supplement.

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Playthings in Early Modernity

Playthings in Early Modernity: Party Games, Word Games, Mind Games collects 15 interdisciplinary essays addressing play “not merely as a pastime, a leisurely pursuit, but as a pivotal part of daily life, a strategic psychosocial endeavor.” Published earlier this year by Medieval Institute Publications, the volume includes such chapters as:

  • “Mixt” and Matched: Dance Games in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Europe by Emily F. Winerock
  • Ludic Intermingling/Ludic Discrimination: Women’s Card Playing and Visual Proscriptions in Early Modern Europe by Antonella Fenech Kroke
  • Letter Games: Machiavelli and Guicciardini in Carnivalesque Correspondence by Sergius Kodera
  • “Sportes and Pastimes, done by Number”: Mathematical Games in Early Modern England by Jessica Marie Otis
  • Trading and Trick Taking in the Dutch Republic: Pasquin’s Wind Cards and the South Sea Bubble by Joyce Goggin
  • The Problem of Excessive Play: Renaissance Strategies of Ludic Governmentality by Andreas Hermann Fischer

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Upper Deck’s Legendary deck-building game is getting a digital version (iOS, Android, and Steam). Legendary DXP will feature a new fantasy setting, solo and match play, and a “gauntlet” mode for 5-player competitions and weekly leagues.

Magic: The Gathering is also due for a new digital version, this time in the form of a MMORPG from Cryptic Studios.

Codename Entertainment has licensed Dungeons & Dragons for a clicker game, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. The game will take players on a quest through the Sword Coast region and will feature at launch two characters from the Force Grey streaming series. Updates and additional features, including a tie-in to the Tomb of Annihilation, are scheduled to occur monthly.

For the hard-core board gamer, the Board Game Stats app, useful for tracking one’s collection and logging games played, is now available on Android.

Ports of solitaire favorite Friday are now available on Android and iOS.

Race for the Galaxy, already available on Android and iOS, is now also good on PC via Steam ($7). It can be played against AI or cross-platform multiplayer. Both the Gathering Storm and Rebel vs Imperium expansions are available as add-ons at $4 each.

Asmodee Digital has launched Spot It! on mobile as Spot It! Duel: A Dobble Game (Android and iOS). In this digital form, as players progress through various arenas, they collect Dobble characters, who convey special powers. Spot It! Duel is free-to-play, with in-app purchases.

The Renegade Games Companion App has been upgraded with support for Clank! Sunken Treasures. And another game from Renegade has been announced by Dire Wolf Digital. Lotus, the game about assembling flowers from individual petals, is due on Android and iOS later this summer.

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Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesTabletop Simulator via Steam is on-sale for 50% off.

Talisman and other PC games from Nomad Games are also on-sale via Steam—up to 80% off.

Eagle-Gryphon Games is running a sale on expansions.

Cool Stuff Inc. is running a 4th of July Sale through Sunday, almost exclusively on CCGs. Also, in celebration of receiving its 3 millionth order, the company is giving away a Twilight Struggle Collector’s Edition, a Magic: The Gathering Modern Masters 2013 Booster Box, and a $400 gift certificate.

For Independence Day, several of the 7th Sea ebooks are on-sale for more than 50% off.

Dog Might Games’ Independence Day sale means 10% off all in-stock items, 20% off all dice, and free shipping in the U.S.

At Bundle of Holding, there’s a deal for Colonial Gothic, a supernatural horror RPG set in the colonies and around the American War of Independence.

Today only, save 25% on orders of $35 or more from HexBug.

For 15% off from Toys “R” Us, use coupon code “JULY15OFF”, but do it today. It’s no good tomorrow.

For 20% off orders from HasbroToyShop, use promo code “JULYSAVE17” (also ending today).

Save 25% on Drink Trayz and get one free for every $20 spent at GameTrayz with code “4THDRINK”. (Drink Trayz are can and cup holders meant to resist tips and collect condensation at the game table.)

Use coupon code “CATALOG30” to save 30% on all in-stock games from Compass Games.

Fat Dragon Games has put six of their 3D printing model sets on pay-what-you-want pricing through July 10th.

The three (PDF) books of the Deadlands Dime Novel Series are more than 10¢ but still 50% off.

Giveaways:

Amazon deals:

…and from Stronghold Games:

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ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s Marketplace & Academy, is an annual show focused on the needs of small, independent, local toy and game stores. This year’s event was earlier this week (June 25-28) in Philadelphia.

The marketplace aspect of ASTRA refers to an exhibit hall with approximately 500 exhibitors (a significant increase since the last time I attended in 2012). Among them I found on display a number of new products, which I will share with you over the coming few days.

ASTRA’s academy aspect features a range of professional development workshops for retailers, including lessons on predicting trends, managing employees, marketing to local communities, negotiating with sales reps, and much more.

Overall, the event feels like a smaller, somewhat more relaxed version of Toy Fair with a larger educational component—a good fit for the independent retailers, as well as the manufacturers and publishers looking for business in that market.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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