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.

xino.phpLooking for an easy way to trade board games? BoardgameTrades Beta has just opened up, and trading games is as easy as sending a Tweet through Twitter. Direct from their site:

Just Tweet: @boardgametrades #iwant Name of Your Game #yourcountry

The website tracks all wants and offers, and has a search bar. Pretty simple. Pretty straight forward. Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that are the best.

I’ve take some time to search around the site, and it seems a lot of people are already Tweeting! I plan on listing a few of my own games soon, so keep an eye out if you want to help a Pawn trade some games ;)

Seal_of_New_Jersey.svgMany of the game tournaments that are held in New Jersey—from a regional Scrabble championship to a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix—may be illegal. As we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, the problem is tied up in laws meant to restrict gambling. According to the state’s constitution:

New Jersey Constitution (1947), Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2: No gambling of any kind shall be authorized by the Legislature unless the specific kind, restrictions and control thereof have been heretofore submitted to, and authorized by a majority of the votes cast by, the people at a special election or shall hereafter be submitted to, and authorized by a majority of the votes cast thereon by, the legally qualified voters of the State voting at a general election, except that, without any such submission or authorization.

To most gamers, that wouldn’t seem to be a problem. After all, the games we’re talking about aren’t gambling, they’re games of skill, right?

In fact, that is the differentiating factor in many states. A game of chance may be gambling, while a game of skill is not. However in New Jersey, a 1982 case involving a Backgammon tournament determined that games involving dice qualified as gambling, whether or not there was also a degree of skill.

Boardwalk Regency Corp. v. Attorney General, 188 N.J. Super. 372 (1982): But this recognition of the skill factor is not determinative on the issue of whether chance plays a material or immaterial role in the outcome of the activity. Indeed, the statute acknowledges that a game may be a “contest of chance” “notwithstanding that skill of the contestants … may also be a factor therein.” Thus, the proper focus of the inquiry here is not on the level of skill which may affect the outcome of the contested activity but rather on whether the element of chance is a factor that is material to the final result…

This report, offered by plaintiffs and admitted by the participant, Magriel, to be an accurate account upon examination by the court, removes all doubt from this court that the element of chance plays at least a material role in determining the outcome of this activity on which money is risked, no matter how much it is claimed that the role of skill predominated or allowed the finalist to reach that stage in the tournament.

Certainly, many game tournaments that charge an entry fee, award prizes, and use dice take place in New Jersey without interference. It would seem, however, that their freedom depends on a failure to enforce the law.

But government enforcement isn’t the only danger. Every year, a number of national amateur skill contests (like baking competitions) are closed to New Jersey residents. Risk-averse attorneys read the Boardwalk case and, afraid that any element of luck might land their clients’ contests in hot water, advise against allowing participants from New Jersey.

Ever so attentive to the plight of their constituents—for example, 16-year-old Patrick Carney, who was prevented from entering a National Geographic photography contest—New Jersey legislators recently passed, and the governor signed, “an act providing that participation by New Jersey residents in contests of skill does not constitute unlawful gambling”:

New Jersey Permanent Statutes, Title 5, Section 19: Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, participation by a New Jersey resident in a contest of skill in which a participant pays an entry fee for the opportunity to win a monetary prize or something else of value shall not be considered a game of chance, shall not constitute unlawful gambling under the laws of this State, and shall not subject the participant or the sponsor of the contest of skill, or any officer, employee, or agent of the sponsor, to any civil or criminal liability under the laws of this State that prohibit gambling.

But, you know how these things go. The new law further declares:

For the purposes of this section, “contest of skill” means any baking or photography contest, and any similar contest that is approved as a “contest of skill” by the Attorney General, provided that the winner or winners are selected solely on the quality of an entry in the contest as determined by a panel of judges using uniform criteria to assess the quality of entries.  A “contest of skill” shall not include any contest, game, pool, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance. A “contest of skill” shall also not include any casino game, any sports wager or sports wagering scheme, or any Internet gaming of any kind.

So now, any game tournament that charges an entry fee and offers a prize is unlawful in New Jersey unless the results are unaffected by chance (no dice, no card draws, etc.), the winner is determined by judges, and the game is approved the Attorney General.


Goliath Games recently released several new kids’ games:

Dino Meal — This hungry Dino has an eggstraordinary appetite. Roll the die to choose which stolen dinosaur egg to rescue first. Then carefully reach in and take out the egg, but watch out. You never know when this intimidating Dino might leap out at you for his next Dino Meal. Win the game by getting the eggs before the Dino gets you.

Barbecue Party — It’s Barbecue Party, the game that decides who will be grill master or dinner disaster! Choose your card to see what you get to put on the grill for dinner, but watch out! This temperamental grill may jump, causing all the food to fall off. The winner is the first player to get 3 items off the grill before the food takes a spill.

Pop the Pig — Pop the Pig has “popped” into the hearts of children around the world. After all, what child can resist an adorable pig who hungrily chomps so many hamburgers his belly pops? Everyone takes turns rolling the die to see how many chomps the pig will take. Push down the pig’s head to eat the burger. With every pump, the pig’s stomach will get bigger, bigger and bigger. But don’t feed him too much, because if he pops … you lose!

Skit LEGO 3They’ve also just released an update to Skit!, an Android/iOS app that lets kids create animated shorts, memes, remixes, etc… with all sorts of great characters and backdrops. The new update includes characters from The LEGO Movie and backgrounds such as CloudCookoo Land, Wild West, Bob’s Kabob Truck, and more. You can snag Skit! from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, or Amazon.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesPaizo’s PDF Love Sale has PDFs for selling for 30% off.

For its second blogiversary, Theology of Games is giving away games and other nerdy stuff every day in the month of July.

Get 20% off at Pocket Sports with coupon code “ENDER14″.

To celebrate the sale of Schmovie in Barnes & Noble, Galactic Sneeze invites you to submit a schelfie (a picture with the game on the store shelf). One person who does will get a squid trophy.

Grey Gnome Games is giving away one or more copies each of Neptune and Zogar’s Gaze via Facebook.

The winner of the Spiel des Jahres 2014 is…


Camel Up!

A big congratulations are in order for designer Steffen Bogen as Camel Up takes the 2014 Spiel des Jahres!

Camel Up sees 2-8 players betting on camels during a camel race. The game uses a pretty awesome pyramid dice shaker to release dice one at a time to move camels. Players can bid early to reap in huge rewards, or try to see how the race is playing out and play things a bit safer. Wacky hijinks ensue.

Camel Up is for players 8+, and plays in about 30 minutes.


ConnectiCon is a large, multi-genre convention held every year in Hartford, CT. Being only 30 minutes away from me, it’s become an annual tradition to attend. Every year the convention seems to get bigger and bigger, spilling over from the Connecticut Convention center into the nearby Marriott and Hilton.

The con used to be mostly an anime one, with little space for much else. Now there’s huge areas for video games, tabletop games, and other awesome events and panels. The special guests each year continue to amaze me.

Of course we’re here to talk tabletop games.

I spent a majority of my first day at ConnectiCon checking out the lay of the land and playing games. I was able to track down Jim Courtney of One Day Games and play Avarice, a prototype he’s been working on for quite some time. In the game you’re trying to snag a briefcase full of intel and make a quick getaway while everyone who doesn’t have the case is out to get you. It’s a faced paced game of back-and-forth with almost rock-paper-scissors mechanic. Only lasting a few minutes each play through, it can easily be setup and played again and again. Jim is currently still tweaking the rules, and doesn’t have an idea of when he’ll bring it to market. I’m hoping we’ll see it sooner rather than later.

phoenixcovenantWhile walking through the dealer room I caught a game being played in the corner of my eye. Further inspection revealed that game to be Phoenix Covenant, a game described as Magic: The Gathering meets Final Fantasy Tactics meets Fire Emblem meets Yu-Gi-Oh. After listening to an overview of the game, I got a chance to sit down and give it a shot. While still in its early phases, the game shows much potential. The crew hope to get a Kickstarter going soon, and will be sending me over a prototype to play and get more familiar with for a full preview.

Once back on the open gaming floor, I headed over to the game library to see if there was anything new from last year (and to see if my own game, ElementaliS, was still there. It was.) and found something that looked rather amazing. Serpent’s Tongue. A buddy of mine behind the table mentioned that the designers were at the con, and pointed me to where they were set up. When I got over there, I was blown away.


Serpent’s Tongue has one of the coolest gaming components I’ve ever seen. A faux-leather bound codex that is central to the game’s mechanic and theme. The game is all about casting spells, and has you translating the language invented for the game to make things happen. Translate the alphabet, pronounce the words correctly, and use your codex to cast spells. The coolest part is that the language invented for the game is a fully functional one, and learning it will greatly help your odds in the game. This is another one I’m expecting on my doorstep soon, so a full review will be coming.

Between playing 2 unpublished prototypes, a handful of other games, and geeking out a bit with other members of the press in the press room, my first day of ConnectiCon went by like a blur. The next day blew by much quicker, as I took my oldest son with me and held a CT Beyblade tournament through the World Beyblade Organization. Toss in a few games of Magic: The Gathering, and checking out cosplayers, and our day was over before we knew it. I’ve now had 2 days to recover, and I’m STILL beat.

While ConnectiCon may not have as much new stuff to see as Toy Fair or PAX East, I’m always able to catch something that I can’t at the other 2 conventions. Add that to the fact that I can sleep in my own bed at the end of the day, and it’s an event that I just can’t miss. I can’t wait until next year.

With that, I leave you a picture of my son with his very first press badge.



Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesThree men with axes attacked players in a Mahjong parlor in Xinjiang, China. The Mahjong players fought back and detained the assailants for police. Two of the attackers later died (from what has not been revealed), while the third confessed to pursuing the attack as a “holy war“. Video of the attack is available on YouTube.

Hasbro vs. Sweetpea (for claims over rights to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie) is going to trial. A date of September 16th has been set.

Someone is attempting to patent “a method of transforming a virtual entity from a first game to be useable in a second game” (US 13/567,629). This doesn’t sit well with others, who claim that such processes have been common in roleplaying games for years.

A website run by Ignatius Long, a supporter of Garry Kasparov for FIDE President, has reported allegations that the administration of the incumbent president is improperly registering the representatives of national Chess federations based on whom the individual supports in the campaign.

A recent update to the FIDE Laws of Chess (tournament rules) means that a player that brings a mobile phone anywhere in to the playing venue will be declared the loser of his game.

Three Americans in Mexico were hospitalized after allegedly becoming possessed by evil spirits while playing Ouija.

At the Cannes Film Festival, actress Pamela Anderson opened a charity Backgammon event that she organized by revealing that she was raped during a Backgammon game at 12 years of age.

Snohomish, Washington is preparing to make it legal for people to bet on card games but only where the venue has acquired a license and collects a 10 percent tax from participants.

Dominoes violence reared its ugly head in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where one man stabbed another in the back three times because he was upset over losing a game.

Either Hasbro is claiming rights to the term “Brony“, which is used for adult fans of My Little Pony, or Zazzle is doing so on their behalf.

Prison officials in Hong Kong have confiscated mahjong tiles, poker cards, dice, and chess pieces crafted by inmates from bread and other unusual materials. The officials were concerned that the game components were being used for gambling.

The latest move in a 2-year suit over the licensing of The Hobbit gambling games, sees Warner Bros. seeking to have the Tolkien estate’s attorneys disqualified.

Someone has been breaking in to toy stores in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia to steal Lego sets and then sell them for parts online.

In Kampong Cham, Cambodia, a killer remains at-large after beating to death the friend that gave him a ride to a dice game.

A Chicago man exonerated by DNA evidence after serving 32 years in prison is now facing a new murder charge, this time for allegedly shooting and stabbing someone over money lost in a dice game.

The national Chess champion of Guyana was arrested for assault with intent to rob.

The High Court of Bangladesh has declared Nipon Khela and Howji (dice games) to be gambling and therefore illegal.

A federal circuit court has affirmed a lower court invalidation of the Hide-N-Seek Hayley doll patent, siding with Jakks Pacific’s position that the doll’s interactive locator feature is obvious.

A federal court judge has refused to grant an injunction against NECA/WizKids’ acquisition of retailer Hastings. Finding that the issue could be resolved later with monetary damages, the judge allowed both the lawsuit by a group of Hastings shareholders and the sale to prooceed.

When police broke up a dice game at the Youtefa market in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia, violence erupted, resulting in the death of one officer and three civilians. Though the police have 23 suspects in custody, the dead officer’s rifle is still missing.

Police in Middlesex, Pennsylvania are warning the public not to wager against people running card games at truck stops. They say it’s a scam.

Five people were shot, one of them killed, at a dice game in Atlanta.

An Oakland, California man received a sentence of 15 years-to-life for killing another man in 2013, when the latter refused to pay up on $5 lost during a dice game.

In Racine, Wisconsin, a jury has convicted a man for a 2005 triple-homicide sparked by a rigged dice game.

Five Tribes Available for Pre-Order

ft-home_picture1Days of Wonder’s latest title, Five Tribes, is now available for pre-order through their site.

As a stranger in a new land, players are thrust into a competition for very control of the now sultan-less Naqala. Do your best to unite the five tribes and exert the most influence over the land to become the victor. Like most Days of Wonders game, Five Tribes is billed as being simple to learn, yet carrying enough depth for seasoned gamers.

The game is $60,  is meant for 2-4 players aged 13+, and should last from 40-80 minutes.


Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesShare a house rule with Mayday Games for a chance to win Coconuts.

Ascension small-box expansions are 50% off through the end of July.

At, use coupon code “JULY10″ for $10 off a purchase of $50 or more.

Ephemeris RPG is on-sale for 30% off.

Jon Brazer Enterprises’ Pathfinder RPG e-books are available at significant discount.

All Gold Rush Games RPG e-books are on-sale for $1-2.

Blog giveaways:

Second Look—Dreadball

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.I must preface this post by stating, with full intensity and sincerity, that I am by no means a sports fan. Most of my knowledge of sports comes from the fact that my kids play them, and the GFL series of books by Scott Sigler.

That being said, Dreadball has fast become one of my favorite games.

Miniatures? Check. Violence? Check. Sports?


Yup. Check.

In Dreadball you’re coaching a team of intergalactic sports players who’s goal is to get the weapons-grade ball into one of 3 scoring zones on the opponent’s side of the pitch. You’ve got 3 player types: Strikers, Jacks, and Guards. Strikers can run the ball. Jacks can run the ball and dole out hits. Guards can only hit. Your team is built of these 3 types of players, though only 6 can be on the field at once. The others are benched, waiting for another player to be switched out, injured or killed to come in to the game. There’s also rules for MVPs and Giants, but that’s a bit beyond the scope of the basic set.

dreadballPlayers take turns over the course of Rushes, each taking 5 actions each before the Rush counter is moved up and the opposing player takes their turn. Players run, pass, smash, and push their way towards goals. Everything is dice based, and actions can fail, succeed, or double, which gives you special actions that be taken. Through all this you’ve got fans to please, and a ref that can be caught off guard if you feel you want to cheat a bit. The rules can get pretty in-depth, though not in a complicated manner. You can peek at them here.

Something about this game just clicked with me right off the bat. I’ve already pre-ordered a new pitch, and am planning on getting some more teams, and the corresponding rulebooks for those teams. One of these days I’ll get my teams painted.

The game is much more accessible than a game like Bloodbowl, which may be why it scratches the right itch for me. It’s a sci-fi, customizable sports game that doesn’t take too much time or money to get into.

A copy of Dreadball was provided free for review by Mantic Games.




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