Mole Rats in Space

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.

Toy Fair 2017—Lion Rampant Imports

Lion Rampant Imports brings several Zoch (Zoch-Verlagg) games to the North American market. The one we were able to demo was Dreams (available now, $46), a game that’s as beautiful as Dixit and plays like A Fake Artist Goes to New York. In Dreams, the players are deities creating constellations in the night sky, based on a common image that is known to all players, save one. While the group places gem-like stars in the night sky, the one who doesn’t know exactly what they’re creating is trying to remain undetected throughout the game. Once all stars are placed, the single player tries to determine which of four images was being recreated while the others try to guess which one of the players didn’t know.

Later this year Beasts of Balance ($100) is coming to big box and specialty stores in North America. Currently the game was only available in mall-based marbles: the brain store, but they’re currently going out of business.

This app-driven dexterity game has you stacking cool sculpted creatures on a sensor, powering them up on the app by placing energy elements, interacting with the app while certain pieces are placed, and evolving and changing the creatures: Toucan and Octopus have formed OCTOUCAN! It’s a crazy fun game that’s been available in the UK for a while now.

Also at the show were two add-on creatures, the Omnibeast and (the Yogscast) Lalnalion, currently available on Sensible Object’s Beasts of Balance website for £15/$20 each.

This article was updated to reflect the locations Beasts of Balance will be available in later this year.

Toy Fair 2017—Gamewright

One of of the larger booths I visited at Toy Fair was Gamewright. Several small games were on display as were some games that are about to return to your game store’s shelves.

In the Port-A-Party line of small games, they had Think ‘n Sync and PDQ, both available in March for $10. PDQ, which we’ve discussed before, has been out of print for five years and returns in a box sized to fit in the Port-A-Party line. In that game, three letter cards are placed in a row and players race to create a word using those letters either left-to-right or right-to-left. Think ‘n Sync is a game that reminded me a bit of Family Feud, except everyone shouts out their answer. Matches gain points.

Rory’s Story Cubes, Fantasia edition, is on its way for a summer release ($8). Fantasia contains three Enchanted dice, three Myth dice, and three Medieval dice.

Cha-Cha Chiahuahua (summer, $16) comes with a bunch of little doggie figures and several disco dance floors for kids 4 and up. Do activities and place your dancing pups on the color-coded dance floor.

Go Nuts for Donuts (summer, $15) is a Sushi Go-like game with bidding instead of drafting. Donut cards are laid out and you select which one to add to your collection; if others are also going for your choice, you all lose out. Each type of donut has different abilities, such as a point reward for having the fewest cards, ability to steal donuts from the discard pile, or a significant number of points for having a large collection of one type.

Imagine (now, $15) is charades with clear cards. Transparent cards with symbols printed on them are layered atop one another to create images others have to guess. A clever way to use see-through cards. Can you tell what’s on the center of the box above?

Tiki Topple (summer, $20) is a reprint of a ten year old game. This new Mensa Select edition has players trying to assemble a totem pole with certain tiki heads nearest the top. Cards that reorder and remove some sections of the pole are used to move your sections up and opponents’ down. But can you tell which tiki heads your opponents are trying to get to the top? It’s a quick game that I really enjoyed playing a demo of — it reminded me a bit of Abandon Ship, but with simpler and shorter gameplay.

This summer, two new entries into the CardVentures line, Vanished and Time Raiders (each $10), will be released. These choose-your-own-adventure-like games join last year’s Stowaway 52 and Jump Ship!. The single-player game is played with oversized cards with story elements, allowing you to jump to additional cards based on your choices to tell a story.

Spiel Press is a new imprint of Nevermore Games (Chicken Caesar, Mars Needs Mechanics) focusing on roll-and-write games. That’s the kind of title, like Qwixx and Rolling Japan/America, that has players rolling dice and checking-off or marking boxes on a score sheet.

Spiel Press says its games will come in printed books with a new game on each page (not just copies of the same score sheet). As a player moves through one of these books, a story will develop out of the varying game rules.

The company plans a crowdfunding project for its first product this summer.

Brotherwise Games’ Unearth

From the team that brought you Boss Monster comes Unearth, a dice-placement game. Hitting store shelves in August for $34.95, Unearth has you exploring the world trying to unearth old ruins, build places of power, and restore the wonder of ancient civilizations.

Right now I’m on board for the art alone.

Hopefully the game is as awesome as it looks.

2-4 players
Ages 8+
30-60 minute play time

Toy Fair 2017—R&R Games

We sat down with R&R Games and saw several items that were releasing just after Toy Fair. In fact, all of the items we’re showcasing have just been released and if they aren’t on your local game store’s shelves, they’re on the way.

Hashtag Me ($16) is a storytelling game, where one person follows a prompt and, as they’re relaying the story, the other players start playing cards with hashtags on them: #ThatsGoingToLeaveAMark or #CRAZY. When the storyteller is done, he or she selects the best cards.

Coin Quest ($30) is a bidding game where all players use coins to collect bigger and better coins. It’s a thirty-minute long deck building game with coin tokens instead of cards.

In Ulm ($40), players take the roles of guild masters and patricians in a city where a cathedral is being constructed. A bit of area control, trading, and influence gathering are in this one hour euro-style game.

In Touria ($40), all players take turns controlling a common party of adventurers around an enchanted land, gathering treasure, defeating dragons, and preparing you to approach the castle to find the rulers. Actions you can take on your turn are guided by the 3d towers on the board’s corners. The sides you can see dictate which actions you can take, once taken, the tower is rotated to the left or right. No one player has all possible actions available to them and must plan based on what they can see. Clever.

Lastly, Pyramid Poker ($20) is an… interesting two player game. You’ve got dominoes with card symbols like Q [diamond] on them. You build a pyramid-shaped structure using the dominoes with the ones you place facing you. Once it’s complete, you start dismantling the structure, placing the tile into one of three poker hands. Now, I don’t care for games that “do” poker, and I don’t particualry care for domino-like games, but this was crazy fun. If you have the same reservations that I do when it comes to this type of game, try a demo at your local store. I’m thinking it’s going to be a hit for R&R this year.

Toy Fair 2017—Fat Brain Toy Co.

Three new games from Fat Brain Toy Co. are on their way, with one hitting retail right about now and the other two coming up in April. Farm Alarm (mid-March, $13) is a sequential memory game for preshoolers on up. Players have to remember a sequence of animal noises displayed on cards; if someone makes a mistake, the others grab the squeezable pig toy and make it squeal! Cute packaging, cute pig, silly sounds.

Crankity (early April, $20) is more of a logic puzzle than game, but it fits in the same space as Thinkfun’s Rush Hour line of games. A challenge card is shown with the starting position of colored gears and by placing the listed colored gears in the correct locations, you try to get the entire apparatus to turn. 40 challenge cards come in this travel-friendly brainteaser.

A rhythm party game, OffBeat (mid-April, $20) has a raised board with a spinner with colored discs indicating which motion or action to do next: tapping the box, clapping, snapping, or more. Fall off the beat or do the wrong action and you’re out of the round. Last player clapping wins.

Gloomhaven Returning to Kickstarter

For those of you who missed out on the Gloomhaven Kickstarter, or were one of the people who had their pre-order for the game canceled when the company couldn’t meet demand, you’re in luck! A new Kickstarter for the base game will be launching at the end of this month for a new printing of the game with updated rules. Originally the base game was going to be an add-on of the Founders of Gloomhaven Kickstarter, but Isaac Childres has decided to split the two.

So, don’t go spending $200+ on a copy of this amazing game. You just need a bit of patience and you can snag it for retail, as there’s no doubt the project will fund.

Toy Fair 2017—Mayday Games

Mayday Games brought one new game to Toy Fair, Macroscope (July, $35). This game has a deck of cards with images placed in a constructed steampunk-like device with covered windows displaying sections of the illustration. Roll dice to remove which windows you can open; can you guess what the image is?

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesJon Brazer Enterprises has bundled up every one of its Pathfinder ebooks (that’s more than 60 products) and is selling the package at a 90% discount.

For $5 off purchases of over $35 from Fat Brain Toys, use promo code “RO-2429”.

For 15% off “most items” from Hasbro Toy Shop, use promo code “SPRING17”.

And for 20% off Spin Master’s Toy of the Year winners and finalists (excluding Hatchimals), use promo code “TOTY20”.

Chanegling: The Lost makes an appearance at Bundle of Holding. The Player’s Collection is $17.95 and includes the World of Darkness rulebook, Changeling: The Lost, and three other sourcebooks. At the threshold price of $29, six more books are added.

Amazon deals:

EverythingBoardGames is giving away The Refuge from B&B Game Studios and Castle Dukes from Medieval Lords.

Flying Pig Games has Night of Man on-sale for 25% off.

For baseball’s spring training, Strat-O-Matic is offering 25% off select seasons of cards.

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