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.

Crowdfunding Highlights

Clint and Jodi Black, whom I know from their work at Pinnacle Entertainment, are launching a line of gaming furniture on Kickstarter. Their Carolina Game Tables campaign funded in five hours with all their early bird pricing for luxurious 4′ by 6′ game tables nabbed on the first day. I hate KS campaigns with early bird level rewards because if you come to the campaign late and have just the “regular” levels left, it’s like paying a surcharge because the marketing didn’t reach you in time. Carolina Game Tables has a great solution for that — each Tuesday at 9PM EDT during the campaign, they’ll unlock another ten “early bird” slots, as long as those slots fill up by Wednesday at that same time. The tables look fantastic, the people behind the campaign are some of the nicest people in the hobby game biz. If you’re thinking of getting some gaming furniture, give them a look-see.

mint miniJust a half-hour drive away from my home, some madman was challenged to create a game that would fit in an Altoids Small tin. He came up with Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse, a worker-placement, resource-management, area-control dice game. You know Love Letter’s red bag? You can probably fit five copies of Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse in there. It’s the apocalypse and there’s a monster running around and everyone is trying to get to the fallout shelter (with a box of supplies). Get four of your guys inside, and you win! Not only does David Miller (no relation to Purple Pawn’s David Miller) provide a crazy little game about the apocalypse, you can play the game during the apocalypse: the rules are on a waterproof, tear-resistant paper! It’s already funded, so grab your copy for thirteen bucks!


I love pretty, pretty playing cards, and the Bellezza Bicycle Deck is so very pretty. Look at that King of Diamonds. Just look at it. $11 per deck. The design has already been approved by USPCC and they expect to have the decks ready for shipping in October. So. Pretty.

It’s no secret that most boardgame inserts are crap.* I’ve been replacing some with foamcore inserts (plans from The Esoteric Order of Gamers), but I’ve seen some laser-cut inserts for various games by various people and they look awesome. Thinker Tinker Maker recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to buy a laser cutter and bulk purchase materials for production and prototyping wooden inserts. If you help them achieve their goal, you’ll be able to pick up the awesome Elder Sign game insert (shown below), inserts for Surburbia, Imperial Settlers, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Dominant Species, and/or card boxes for card games (really for Magic: The Gathering, but I’m sure you can use them for really any CCG or LCG). These things look really good — they’ve got a bit to go to reach their goal, but they’ve got time to do it.



* Mission: Red Planet, Jamaica, Lascaux, and Lords of Waterdeep being my exceptions.

Champions of Midgard

GFX96736Champions of Midgard from Grey Fox Games is a game of worker placement and dice-driven combat. Build up your forces, equipment, and peek into the future. Once you’re ready, battle mythical beasts to earn the most glory and become the new Jarl of the land.

The game will be out on September 15th, and will carry a MSRP of $59.99.

2-4 players ages 10+. 60-80 minute play time.


Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresMatthew Tunnicliffe of Ottawa is the 2015 North American Scrabble Champion. He won that title, as well as a trophy and $10,000 cash prize, by defeating runner up Jesse Day 495-344, using words such as “huipil”, “bighead”, “nonelite”, “leucomas”, and “kiva” (only one of which passed my spell checker).

At the Rubik’s Cube U.S. Nationals 2015, the winner of the 3×3 was Drew Brads with an 8.33 second average. His achievement earned him a $1,000 prize. Keaton Ellis came in first place in the 3×3 one-handed competition at a 13.75 second average. Jakup Kipa of Poland solved the 3×3 with his feet in an average of 28.56 seconds.

The winner of the 40th World Backgammon Championship in Monte Carlo was Cihangir Çetinel of Turkey. Among his prizes was a Geoffrey Parker Backgammon board.

Arlington, Virginia was a hot-zone of Chess as the World Open followed just 4 days after the D.C. International Tournament. Both saw multi-player ties for first place (four at D.C. International and eight at the World Open) but the common element in the two groups was GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran.

The African Team Draughts Championship saw a semi-final match replayed after an appeal, allowing Senegal to reverse its loss to Ivory Coast. Nevertheless, the team came up short in the finals, where Cameroon finished ahead.

MTG Arena of the Planeswalkers Game Package

I just heard from Litzky PR, Hasbro’s PR company, that the first expansion to Magic the Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers will be out in January 2016. While they’re not ready to release any more information about the expansion at the moment, full details will be coming during PAX Prime (Aug 28th-31st.)

I’m super excited that we won’t have to wait too long once 2016 hits to flesh out a great game that feels like it needs just a bit more content. I’m hoping content will be released in waves, with at least 1 large pack and a few small packs. I guess we’ll find out soon in a bit over 10 days.

The team behind Kickstarter-phenomenon Exploding Kittens promised to deliver a surprise in the box to backers. And so they did! When opened, the game box meows—yes, the sound of a cat.

The sound-producing packaging was provided by AdMagic, which has applied for a patent and is offering similar products through Other sound contraptions (e.g., musical greeting cards) typically trigger with the pull of a tab. AdMagic’s sound-boxes are triggered by exposure to light.

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame is giving away a table.

For 40% off Golem Arcana Elite sets, use coupon code “ELITE”.

Sign up for ThinkFun’s newsletter and get a 20% off discount code.

Educational Insights is giving away a back-to-school care package and spa gift card. The winner can choose from among different versions of the back-to-school package with games appropriate for preschool through 3rd graders.

Toy Shop UK is giving away four copies of Nefarious from Coiledspring Games.

For free shipping on all new toys and games from, use coupon code “NewFreeShip”.

Games and puzzles are 20% off direct from Buffalo Games.

Deals on Amazon:

Blog giveaways:

So much licensed game news has crossed my desk recently…

Savage Worlds Flash Gordon

R. Talsorian Games has reached an agreement with CD Projekt Red for The Witcher Role-Playing Game. It’ll be based on the same rules system as Cyberpunk 2020 and is planned for mid-2016.

Two Dark Horse Comics series, The Goon and Fear Agent, are getting the Savage Worlds treatment from Pinnacle Entertainment. Also expect to see an official Savage Worlds Flash Gordon.

Star Trek board games are coming from Gale Force 9 next summer.

There’s going to be anniversary editions of Thunderbirds Monopoly and Back to the Future Monopoly.

From Upper Deck expect in 2016 a Big Trouble in Little China Legendary game. It’s the film’s 30th anniversary.

MegaCon Games is making The Banner Saga: Warbands, a cooperative miniatures game based on the computer RPG from Stoic.

The 1960s era Captain Action Card Game is making a return.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is getting a board game adaptation. Unfortunately, it’s planned just as a roll-and-move trivia game.

Gen Con 2015—Asmodee

Gen Con logoAt the Fantasy Flight Games In-Flight Report (which I’ll cover separately), Christian Petersen talked about Asmodee’s grand plans. The company, he said, sees the possibility of achieving a scale similar to the largest international toy companies but doing so by building on the best type of toy, games.

Asmodee’s presence at Gen Con was certainly consistent with that attitude. The booth and demo space was again even larger than last year, the number and variety of games more than I could cover.

One I was not able to try, Mysterium ($50), was also one of the hottest at the show. A limited supply brought people running to the booth with the opening of the exhibit hall doors. Mysterium is described as a combination of Dixit and Clue. It has a game-master of sorts but is played cooperatively. The goal is to solve a murder mystery with clues provided by art cards.

My favorite was one that Asmodee will be distributing for Queen Games, Treasure Hunter by Richard Garfield. Due at Essen, Treasure Hunter combines an easy card draft with a straightforward process that totals up the players’ cards in each of three color categories and awards the ones with the least and greatest values bonuses or penalties, as the case may be each round. In addition to value cards for each color, players are also drafting the occasional modification card, as well as dog cards used to fight off trolls.

Mafia de Cuba ($30, September) is Asmodee’s entry in to the social deduction category. It also comes with a beautiful cigar box, which is used in the game to hold the godfather’s diamonds, as well as a group of role tokens (faithful henchmen, driver, FBI agent, etc.). After the box is passed around the table, the goal of the godfather is to figure out who stole his diamonds. But say, for example, he accuses someone who turns out to be the agent, well then that agent wins the game instead.

Starfighter ($30) is a two-player card-based spaceship combat game played in columns. The concept is fighter screens making runs at opponents’ cruisers. However, the fewer columns a player takes advantage of one round, the more cards they may draw the next.

Barony ($50) has players trying to elevate their noble characters to the rank of Duke. This is accomplished by recruiting knights, moving them around the board, upgrading them in stages, producing resources, and eliminating opponents.

2015 has been a big year for dinosaur games. In this category, Asmodee will deliver at Essen Raptor. It’s a two-player tactical game in which one person plays the scientists trying to capture baby raptors and the other side plays the dinosaur mother protecting her young. Gameplay involves the simultaneous selection of cards. The person who’s card number is lower gets to play their card’s special ability that turn. The one who’s number is higher, receives the difference in action points.

Another Essen-scheduled game from Asmodee is Doctor Panic. An action party game with a medical theme, Doctor Panic incorporates eight mini-games, every one of which must be completed within the total time limit. The mini-games include such activities as matching the pose on an x-ray card or sewing thread to match a suture pattern. A soundtrack counts down the time limit and sometimes also interrupts normal play with sidetrack tasks, such as running around the table.

For Days of Wonder, Asmodee was showing the prototype of a new Ticket to Ride double-sided map board. One side features the British Isles, comes with a new deck of cards, and adds technology development to the game. For example, at the start, players can only complete length-2 routes. To complete longer routes, they must first upgrade their trains by playing wild-cards. The other side of the board has a map of Pennsylvania and adds company stocks to the game. Each completed route provides shares in certain companies. At the end of the game, the majority shareholder in each company earns a bonus.

Gen Con 2015—Iello

Gen Con logoMost of the new games being demoed by Iello at Gen Con were on their way from the factory and expected to be at retail in September.

Kabuki ($15) is a memory matching micro game with beautiful images of Japanese theater costumes.

Me Want Cookies! ($25) is desert themed with a twist. I mean that literally. The idea is to follow the twisting paths across three cards, starting on the left with the desert rolled on a die, to the final desert on the right-most card, and then be the first to grab the token matching that last desert.

The next in Iello’s Tales & Games series, Little Red Riding Hood ($30), is something of a racing game. Most play Red or one of her friends. One person plays the wolf. All are trying to be the first to get to grandmother’s house. Movement cards are helpful, however, once used must be flipped to the alternate side so they can be used by an opponent.

In Medieval Academy ($40) everyone plays student knights. The goal of players is to advance their tokens on each of the boards representing the various knight school subjects—chivalry, dragon-fighting, service to the crown, etc.

Sapiens ($45) was described by Keith at Iello as Dominoes with power-ups and that certainly seems apt. Thematically, the game is about leading a tribe of primitives. Mechanically though, points for shelter and food are scored by placing domino-like pieces with matching sides. Each board space on which a piece is played confers a certain number of points, while some also provide special bonus actions.

Not due until Essen, The Big Book of Madness ($50) is a cooperative game in which the players, as student wizards, are challenged to fight back an increasingly dangerous stream of monsters that they unintentionally released from a magical tome. Of course, as students, they’re ill-prepared to face the threat from a book they were never even supposed to touch. So while keeping the monsters at bay, the players must at the same time research and cast ever more powerful new spells.

Gen Con 2015—R&R Games

Gen Con logoR & R Games brought to Gen Con advance copies of three family-style card games currently making their way in to retail.

In Flipping Flags ($10) all players lay down cards simultaneously. Each has the flags of three different nations. The first player to find and call out a matching pair wins the round.

Panda Head ($10) is kind of a trick-taking game, except in each round, tricks one through six are just a set up for trick seven. Further, in trick seven the goal is actually to avoid taking the trick. As usual, the person who played the highest card takes the trick, but in this case the value of the highest card is the point value they score, and scoring points is bad. When a player reaches 21 points, their score is reset to the lowest score at the table. However, when they reach 21 a second time, they’re out of the game. The last player remaining is the winner.

The cards in Face Chase ($15—it comes with a board) are just a series of faces made from combinations of mouth, nose, eye, and hair styles. As soon a card is placed in the center, every player immediately tries to be the first to put down a card matching each of those characteristics. When all four are matched, the board is swiped clean and a new face is placed in the center. Simple enough, the first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner.

For the more advanced strategy gamer, R & R was promoting two titles, both priced at $50 and scheduled to premier at Essen.

Rome is a tile-placement game with triangle-shaped tiles. The points where tiles meet represent buildings and as more tiles are added to each point, the value of the building increases.

Mombasa, Dan of R & R described in very excited accounting terms. The game is about managing a plantation that produces sugar, coffee, and diamonds. It’s played by manipulating entries in public and private books, which Dan assured me is more exciting than it sounds.

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