MIND-The Fall of Paradise

Modern board games are games created after 1900 or so, including early games such as Monopoly and Scrabble, to the latest games from Europe and around the world.

betrayal-at-house-on-the-hill-widows-walkHitting stores today is Widow’s Walk, an expansion for Wizards of the Coast’s Betrayal at House on the Hill. Perfect for the upcoming spooky holiday, Betrayal at House of the Hill has players exploring a haunted mansion until one of them turns on the others and tries to kill them.

Widow’s Walk includes new floor tiles, omen and event cards, and 50 scenarios developed by celebrities, such as Angela Webber from The Doubleclicks, Max Temkin and Eli Halpern of Cards Against Humanity, and cartoonist Pendleton Ward.

Scratch & Play from Notre Game

Czech publisher Notre Game is launching at Essen a new type of game designed around scratch-off cards. The first title, Planet Surprise, has players holding identical cards, each with a set of planets. On their turn, a player can choose from among various actions, such as exploring a planet by scratching it off to see how many points it’s worth. Other actions include peeking at what an opponent has discovered and directing an opponent to scratch a particular planet (remember, all cards used in a game are identical, both on the surface and in hidden values). Actions, though, are limited, recorded also via scratch-off. After 10 rounds, whoever has the most points of explored planets is the winner.

scratch-warsThe second title, Scratch Wars, is a fantasy battle collectible card game where each hero card is printed under the scratch-off layer with distinct traits (Notre Game says there are over 2 million combinations). As part of the game, players equip their heroes with weapons represented by discs. These are spun around a small plastic rod to determine the result during a fight. On every hero and weapon is also printed a QR code for loading the unique card in to a companion mobile app.

Planet Surprise is being sold at the show. Scratch Wars is available for demo, with sales in Europe expected to begin in January.

down-to-gameCalifornia’s first private cannabis consumption lounge, Harvest on Geary (San Francisco), will have comfy seating, antique styling, concierge service, and Chess sets.

Fanatix, a Michigan game and comic shop, has opened its third location. The new store in Troy has play space for tabletop and console games and maintains a close relationship with student clubs at Troy University.

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles in Washington, DC (my favorite local shop) has significantly expanded its space, now allowing for more gaming tables and also more retail display. Official celebration of the opening is October 22nd.

Two childhood gaming friends now in their 30s are opening a board game cafe in Derby, U.K. Along with the tabletop games, Game Knight will offer coffee, cupcakes, and a dedicated room for virtual-reality games.

Down to Game, offering play space and the usual retail assortment, opened this past summer in Starkville, Mississippi.

Common Ground Beer and Wine Bar in El Paso sounds more like a relaxing lounge. To complete the feeling, board games are also on tap.

Hamleys toy store of the U.K. opened its first location in China, with 7,000 square-feet of retail and interactive games, in Xinjiekou Sanpower Plaza in Nianjing. Hamleys is also opening up a new location in Resorts World, Birmingham later this month and opened an outlet in Scotland today.

As part of the Canvas Outdoor Museum Show in West Palm Beach, Florida, Narcissus Street will be turned in to a life-sized board game called Streetopoly. Canvas is scheduled just for November but Streetopoly will last for a year and include large movable game pieces.

Barnes & Noble will be hosting in-store game events at all locations October 15th. Participants will have an opportunity to win promo products for featured games.

Toy Design Reality TV

MattelABC Television and Mattel are partnering on a new competition TV series, The Toy Box, scheduled to premier in the 2016-2017 season. The show will feature toy designers developing their inventions through a series of trials. Judges on the show will be children.

Mattel says it’ll have the winning toy design in stores for the airing of the final episode.

[via Broadway World]

Storing Story Cubes

Two new storage options for Rory’s Story Cubes will be available this week at Spiel Essen: the orderly Collector’s Box and the easy Collector’s Bag.



Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesUniversity Games is running a speed contest for Rubik’s Race, remote via recorded video. The contestant who submits the fastest game wins a prize package of Rubik’s stuff.

Buy something from Len Peralta’s web store or contribute to his Patreon campaign and he’ll enter you in to a drawing for a bunch of Munchkin games that he’s illustrated.

Paizo is selling some Titanic Games at steep discounts, including for example, Key Largo at 88% off. Indications are, though, that the sale may be just for today.

The prize for October in Game Salute’s monthly giveaway is  a copy of Black Orchestra. To enter, tell the company what historic event would make a good basis for a game. But beware, try to come up with something unique. Duplicated suggestions will be disqualified.

Tokens in Australia’s The Advertiser and Sunday Mail starting October 15th can be used to purchase mini versions of Hasbro board games, and a collector’s box, for $3.50 each.

Get free tombstone and coffin tokens with the purchase of Bring Out Yer Dead from Upper Deck.

Get a free Halloween Munchkin Monster Box with a purchase of $125 from Steve Jackson Games’ Warehouse 23.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Clank! from Renegade Game Studios and three copies of Oh My Sheep! from Canvas Studio.

NSKN is giving away copies of Shadowscape, some to visitors at Essen and some to those at home.

Sign up for a Toys “R” Us credit card and get 15% off the first purchase and then 10% off in-store every Thursday.

Running at Bundle of Holding is a deal for Penumbra, the d20 fantasy setting from Atlas Games.

Operation BB-8

Imagine yourself repairing the BB-8 droid in this new Star Wars version of the Operation game ($20).


Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesBackgammon has become the latest battleground for Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The Cyprus Sports Organization is rushing to form a Backgammon federation, none too happy that a Turkish Cypriot Backgammon Association already filed with the European Backgammon Federation and could end up representing the island in a major tournament coming up in October in Denmark.

The next Women’s World Chess Championship is set to take place in Iran, where women are required by law to wear a hijab. This has many people upset. General media are certainly covering it as if many are upset. But how many of the contestants are bothered by the restriction is unclear. That is, other than the U.S. Women’s Champion, Nazi Paikidze, who’s threatening a boycott. No national Chess federations, though, have formally complained about the selection of venue, though individual officials from the U.K. and Denmark have voiced their personal disagreement.

Zev Shlasinger (founder of Z-Man Games, now with WizKids) and Paul Gerardi (also formerly of Z-Man Games) are suing Dan Yarrington (Myriad Games and Game Salute) in relationship to a game store that the trio set up in Staten Island, New York. According to the complaint [PDF], filed in federal court in New Hampshire, the three formed Zap’d Games to own the store and then contracted with Yarrington’s Myriad Games to operate it, with Gerardi as the manager. The complaint alleges deception and misdeeds by Yarrington, pretty much from the beginning. The filing claims that Yarrington mishandled Shalsinger’s $100,000 investment, failed to make his own promised investment, commingled Zap’d’s funds with those of other businesses, failed to provide appropriate inventory, and eventually, without authority, closed the store, took possession of all stock, and fired Gerardi. For his part, Yarrington denies the allegations.

Game designer Bruno Faidutti is under fire for misrepresenting native American cultures in his upcoming game, Waka Tanka. In his defense, Faidutti claims that the game represents a fantasy culture, not a real one. Except that it’s pretty obvious who it’s based on.

A Justice Department report found that Baltimore police disproportionately enforce anti-gambling laws against minorities. From 2010 to 2015, 99 percent of those charged with gaming or playing dice or cards were black.

The Malta Gaming Authority has decided that daily fantasy sports leagues are primarily games of skill and therefore should be regulated with a lighter hand than gambling. Coming to that decision, though, the MGA has also concluded that some games, such as certain card and board games, involve enough luck that the regulation of tournaments shouldn’t be entirely hands-off.

Nine people were arrested while playing Mahjong in Davao City, Philippines after someone texted police about possible gambling.

Students at Chinese University of Hong Kong were challenged by campus security guards for playing Mahjong on a public plaza after midnight. According to a student publication, no gambling was involved. The university’s vice-chancellor, however, responded, “If students play mahjong, write graffiti on buildings or have hotpot meals anywhere and at any time, they might one day even carry out disreputable acts.”

The government of Hong Kong is conducting raids on Mahjong parlors to put pressure on gangs after threats made to the life of the territory’s Chief Executive. The source of the increased conflict is a planned government housing development on real-estate controlled by the triads.

In Daping Village, China a 2 year-old boy drowned in a ditch just in front of his home. He was left on his own by his mother and grandmother, who were busy playing Mahjong.

Following a 2 year investigation, four companies, Viacom, JumpStart, Mattel, and Hasbro, have settled with the New York Attorney General’s office on charges that they illegally tracked the web browsing habits of children under the age of 13. The companies will pay a combined $835,000 in fines and have agreed to require compliance from their advertising vendors.

Former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld has been testifying at the trial of Daniel Doyle, accused of embezzling money from the Institute for International Sports, a youth service organization. Hassenfeld was a major supporter of the organization and ended up having to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans that he had cosigned for the institute. Among the incidents to which Hassenfeld has testified was a forged appeal for donations on unauthorized Hasbro letterhead.

Hasbro has joined the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, a group dedicated to improving “efficiency and social, ethical and environmental sustainability in the global supply chain.” As a member, Hasbro commits to auditing 25 percent of its high-risk facilities for human rights, conflict minerals, environmental sustainability, and other issues.

In Harlem, a woman was killed while playing Dominoes, shot in the head by a stray bullet. A teenager was killed and four men injured, the victims of a drive-by shooting while playing Dominoes in the Bahamas. A Mississippi man drove himself to the hospital after having been hit in the head with an ax handle during a fight over a game of Dominoes.

Dice game arguments led to shootings in Opelousas and Bridge City, Louisiana; Charleston, South Carolina; and Detroit. Police responding to another dice game incident in Detroit were fired upon by a man with an AK-47. A man in Little Rock, Arkansas was robbed at gunpoint while playing dice. Police in Buffalo raided a backyard dice game, arresting 12 people and charging them with promoting gambling and trespassing. While a dice game in Austin was being robbed by outsiders, one of the players shot and killed another of the players. Police did not say whether he was connected to the robbers but have arrested him on murder charges.

Murder charges have been filed in the case of a 2007 Manhattan dice game shooting involving gang members from the Crips and the Bloods.

In 1985, a Sarasota, Florida woman and her boyfriend were arguing over a game of Backgammon when the man stepped on her neck, leaving her paraplegic. Police were unable to apprehend him at the time, nor were state or federal law enforcement able to find the man for the next 30 years. Now, though, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has finally been able to close the case. After publicizing an age-progression image, they were led to records that positively identified him as having lived under a different name and deceased in 2003.

Remember Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of FIDE (World Chess Federation), who was the subject of sanctions by the U.S. government for alleged dealings with Syria, and had threatened to sue the United States for $50 billion in “moral and financial damages” resulting from the sanctions? Well, now Mr. Ilyumzhinov says that he has sent a letter to President Obama requesting U.S. Citizenship so that he might defend himself in a U.S. court. He also attempted to fly to New York to defend himself in person but was not allowed to board the plane.

At the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, players were required to ask permission to visit the toilet, while a team of special anti-cheating arbiters recorded the number of visits. Nigel Short of the U.K. team refused an electronic search by an arbiter. He was returning from visiting the bathroom during the middle of a game when Jamie Kenmure of Australia approached him with a scanner. According to his own description, Short just pushed past him and continued on to the game, risking a forfeit penalty. In the end, Short was just given a detailed scan after the game but the conflict didn’t end there. Short took great offense at being interrupted in the middle of a game, particularly since he was facing time pressure. In an interview he said that Kenmure “isn’t fit to clean my boots” and suggested that the arbiter might have picked him out in retaliation for disparaging statements he had made earlier about the man.

Peter Long reports in The Malay Mail that the Malaysian Chess Federation collected fees and lodging expenses from its members in advance of the Commonwealth Chess Championship (held in Sri Lanka) but then never paid out to the tournament organizers. The Malaysian players were therefore forced to pay up again directly before they were allowed to leave the country.

With the Court of Arbitration for Sport agreeing that FIDE has jurisdiction in deciding a complaint by the European Chess Union against Silvio Danailov, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF), FIDE’s Ethics Commission found Mr. Danailov “guilty of violating clause 2.2.3 of the Code of Ethics in a serious degree—Officials who fail to perform their functions in an impartial and responsible manner.” Though it acknowledged that it could not remove Mr. Danailov from his position as BCF president, FIDE nevertheless has banned him from representing the national federation [PDF] in any FIDE functions or with any other federations or regional unions for 18 months. Two others in the case were banned for 6 months and 3 years.

In another case involving the Bulgarian Chess Federation, FIDE’s Ethics Commission overturned 3+ year bans [PDF] that the former group had set against three players for publicly calling out corruption in the national federation. The FIDE commission determined that the Bulgarian Chess Federation “failed to prosecute the alleged violations in compliance with fundamental principles of law.”

And one more… The European Chess Union (ECU) has decided (with FIDE endorsement) to expel the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF) for refusing to cooperate with an investigation in to two tournaments that the BCF had falsely claimed were sanctioned by the ECU. Money from those tournaments that was supposedly paid to the ECU was actually paid to an impostor organization, the “European Chess Union LLC” registered by unknown persons in Delaware, USA.

FIDE overspent its 2015 legal budget by six times, largely because of cases involving Silvio Danailov and the Bulgarian Chess Federation.

The Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge, in which tens-of-thousands of students participate, may have to shut down after being handed a tax bill for £300,000. The government says that the tournament should have been collecting VAT on entry fees.

A Chess teacher in Toronto faces charges for alleged sexual assault of a 10 year old girl. The incident is reported to have happened during an instructional session.

When police arrested a man protesting the construction of an oil pipeline in Iowa, the man produced a Monopoly Get Out of Jail Free card. Still the police wouldn’t let him go.

A collector of error baseball cards (who is also a correspondent covering the law of trading cards for The Cardboard Connection) is suing Topps because, he claims, the company failed to deliver the individual card he ordered from its website. Instead, the company substituted an error-free card, despite the point of its online service being to sell specific cards.

During the night, someone kicked in the door of Multiverse Comics and Games in Grinnell, Iowa and grabbed $300 in cash and $1,300 of Magic: The Gathering Cards.

Police in Pleasanton, California have made a collectible card game as a way to reach out to community youth.

A Georgia schoolteacher is facing disciplinary action for using a dice game to teach 5th grade students about slavery. The game had the student taking on the role of slaves in the 19th century American South and rolling dice to determine whether they were able to escape or were forced back to the plantation.

Andre Diamant, a Chess grandmaster and former member of the Webster University Chess team, pleaded guilty to third-degree misdemeanor assault and was fined $300 for paying his 6 year-old son to drink sake with him in celebration of a tournament victory.

According to the mother of a 4 year old boy with Down Syndrome, her son was refused entry to the Mattel Play! entertainment center in Liverpool because staff considered it “unsuitable for children like him”. Responding to her negative review on Facebook, facility management claimed that the staff mistakenly thought the boy was a baby in a stroller and when they realized their mistake, offered the mother a tour of the facility.

Someone tried to scam Brainstorm Toys out of product by impersonating another business and requesting delivery of goods on credit.

Cards Against Humanity is suing an internet retailer, Skkye Enterprises, for allegedly selling counterfeits games.


Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresA group from France beat out a field of 64 teams to win the Hide-and-Seek World Championship. The event was held in the abandoned town of Consonno, Italy.

In one game at the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, Dana Reizniece-Ozola defeated the Women’s World Champion, Hou Yifan, despite being ranked 400 Elo points lower. Dana is no stranger to such lofty achievements, however. At 34 years of age, she is a longtime Chess competitor , holds graduate degrees in Translation & Terminology and Business Administration (in addition to further graduate studies in Law, International Business, and Aerospace Management), can speak six languages, and is also the Finance Minister of Latvia.

Grandmaster Timur Gareyev broke the world record for consecutive games of blindfold Chess. In fact, most of the 64 games (54 wins, 8 losses, 2 draws) he played while pedaling an exercise bicycle.

After declaring Monopoly an official sport, the Lagos State Sport Commission of Nigeria hosted a world record 1,300 people playing Monopoly at the same time in a single venue. That achievement was recorded at the state’s Under-17 Monopoly Championship, where also Elizabeth Braimoh of Top Field College took home the trophy and a NGN600,000 education grant prize (about $2,000).

Eight winners secured second interviews at an annual Mahjong tournament meant as a job recruiting event for university students in Japan.

At the Asian Rubik’s Cube Championship in Beijing, Kevin Hays of the United States solved a 6×6 Rubik’s Cube in a world record 1 minutes, 32.77 seconds.

Not for speed, Tony Fisher demonstrated in a video solving the world’s smallest Rubik’s Cube (5.6 mm on a side). To get one so small, he had a 6 mm one 3D printed by Shapeways and then filed it down further.

Among the activities that Cem Karabay of Turkey kept himself busy with during a world-record scuba dive of 142 hours, 42 minutes, and 42 seconds were underwater games of Backgammon.

Allan Silva of Brazil has won his fourth consecutive Pan American Draughts Championship.

The North American Scrabble Championship and a $10,000 prize was won by David Gibson, who in the final defeated his opponent 397-371 with words such as “drearies”, “serrano”, orcinols”, and “spelter” (none of which are recognized by my spell-checker).

Kickstarter Preview—Zombies, Run!

Six to Start’s Zombies, Run! app (available on iOS and Android), is a running tracking app with a twist: there’s an ongoing narrative as you run where you’re collecting supplies for a safe haven during the zombie apocalypse. You’re jogging along, listening to the app and suddenly moans of the shambling undead! Time to sprint! The game has over one million players who have logged in over 40 million km run.

The company also loves boardgames.

Currently, on Kickstarter, Six to Start is offering a board game version of Zombies, Run! As this goes live, they’re halfway through the campaign (13 days left) and have doubled their goal. A pledge of £26 (roughly US$34) gets you a published version of the game. Six to Start has provided us with a prototype to see what the game has to offer.

Like the fitness app, Zombies, Run! The Board Game uses an app to drive the story. Hit play and listen for audio cues. Our initial (tutorial) mission has us escaping a hospital that’s overrun. While the audio plays, there are story moments: someone is about to get grabbed by a zombie, do you grab her arm and pull her along, distract the zombie, or just run? There are decisions to be made: cut through the lobby, closer to where the zombies are, or head up to the roof and down again, which would take longer? Meanwhile: “Zombies advance,” says the app. “Two zombies detected.”

There’s a track of cards, A through E, that shows how far away zombies are. When they show up, they’re at A. When they advance, they all slide over toward E. If they slide off E, they’ve bitten you. That’s bad. Bitten and you take a Death Card face down. At the end of the mission, name one of six body parts, like “head”, “left arm”, or “naughty bits”, and flip the card. It matches? You’ve been infected. In the prototype, this is just a scoring mechanism; in the final game, there’s probably more to it.


But the main thing you’ll be doing during the mission – and where the main part of the game is – is trying to escape zombies by creating Plans. You’re assembling opportunity cards like Talking, Thinking, Running, and Sneaking in order to evade a particular zombie. Most opportunity cards have one icon on the left (the type of card this is) and another on the right (the type of card that can attached to this one). Chain cards together to create a Plan. If your Plan is long enough and ends in the correct symbol, you’ve evade a zombie. For instance, Zombie Mia requires a chain of at least 4 cards that ends in a Thinking symbol. Play six cards that ends with Thinking and you remove them and Zombie Mia from the mission.

Everyone is scrambling for these cards while under pressure, and that’s where the tension of the game comes from. You’re looking over the zombies closest to catching you, trying to determine how to link three cards together to end in Sneaking while everyone is also grabbing cards, and the supply is dwindling, and ONE ZOMBIE DETECTED, and the person replenishing the cards just covered up the one card you needed with more draw cards, and maybe you should just use your cards to reload the shotgun, and ZOMBIES ADVANCING, and now you’ve got the shotgun loaded and can shoot a zombie over there or maybe you can wait for them to get closer when you can shoot more, and TWO ZOMBIES DETECTED, and oh crap that’s an incredibly tough zombie that just entered maybe you should just chain a few more cards together to take him out instead, and can we please please please just survive long enough to get to the police station?

zr-mapAnd there’s the map.

As you’re running to your destination, you might pick up a distress call asking for help. You might see a flare shooting off to the north. You might rescue a survivor that heard of a cache of supplies in town. Do you change your destination? Because you totally can. The map is 100 square kilometers, with a city, several towns, parks, woods, lakes, highways, roads, trains (including a tunnel that I’m never taking my survivors to), power lines, and even a castle. It’s a fictional slice of Britain that’s yours to run around in.

Oh, and because it’s an app, it remembers choices you’ve made: did you free that person handcuffed to a hospital bed? Did you go get those supplies? Did you find out what’s up with that flare?

Do I like this?

Oh yes.

Lots of short bits of pressure with the whole card combination planning. The puzzle of building those is simple enough to not overwhelm, but the pressure from the game makes it challenging. When I opened the package from Six to Start, there were all these envelopes, all these deck boxes to open. “Oh, it’s a legacy game,” I thought, but no – those were step-by-step instructions for the tutorial. But then there’s the map and the app that remembers what you’ve done. So yeah, it’s a legacy game.

Zombies, Run! The Board Game is a game for 2-4 players (well, you can play with one but that ramps up the difficulty) and plays in as little as 15 minutes, depending on the mission you’re taking. Recommended ages: well, there are zombies eating people and the voice actors use the s-word about as frequently as you’d hear it in a PG-13 film, so keep that in mind.


A prototype copy of Zombies, Run! The Board Game was provided free for review.


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