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.

Just as Toy Fair was starting, the news went out that Ravensburger, Wonder Forge, and BRIO were all being reorganized under a new Ravensburger North America division. Most of what we saw at the show game-wise is starting to be listed under the Wonder Forge brand line, but there were quite a few games that were coming out with a Ravensburger logo on them. Several items featuring Minions and other characters from the Despicable Me movie franchise were found in both brand lines.

On the Ravensburger side, Despicable Me Labyrinth (Spring, $32) is a themed version of their popular Labyrinth game line. The Despicable Me-themed Eye Found It! (Fall, $26) joins that game’s line with a six-foot board and a card game version (Fall, $6). Those last two were so new, that even though they had them for display at the show, they were waiting for the licensor’s artwork approval, so no photos as of yet!

Wonder Forge’s Despicable Me showings included Linked Up (a Fall Target exclusive, $15), where you place plastic “link” bars connecting character images on a tight board; Battle Matching (Summer, under $10), a cute take on a memory/picture matching game; and Surprise Slides (Summer, price TBD), a spin and move game that’s a bit like Snakes & Ladders if you could move snakes and ladders around during the game.

Wonder Forge’s other items this year mainly featured Disney properties. The Elena of Avalor Flight of the Jaquins game (Fall, $20) features sculpts of Jaquins, a player-assembled palace, and bilingual cards. The game also has different modes of play to scale for age ranges: your kindergartener can play with your fourth-grader, each with different objectives, to complete first. Mickey and the Roadster Racers Bump ‘n’ Race (a Spring Toys R Us exclusive, $20) features a very simple game element with four small cars representing racers from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a sloped playing surface, and movable barriers to bounce off of.

The trivia-with-images game line Pictopia has two new entries, a smaller sized Marvel Cinematic Universe-themed Pictopia game (soon) and a big box Harry Potter edition (Summer). Each game has similar game play with trivia questions on the back of a card that features four images. The Harry Potter game contains questions about all of the movies, including Fantastic Beasts.

Back on the Ravensburger side of the booth, we find Krazy Wordz (Spring, $20). Create words out of your letter tiles, and then players choose which word sounds like it would fit the definition on the term cards in the center of the table. Does a “Garbuna” sound more like an Australian marsupial or a brand of chocolate bar to you?

The tenth anniversary editions of Notre Dame and In The Year of the Dragon are coming! (Availability date and retail prices TBD.) Both games will come with expansions included.


Toy Fair 2017—WizKids

WizKids has a packed booth at Toy Fair with lots of items from their Dungeons & Dragons line on display as well as more Heroclix items and some standalone games.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the wall of unpainted Dungeons & Dragons miniatures. In the first wave of miniatures (this month, $2.99 each), sixty different miniature packs are available with some coming in with multiple figures. Also planned: Pathfinder miniatures! (No date or price on those as of yet!)

But if you like painted miniatures, they’ve got you covered with the Adventurer’s Campsite as part of the Icons of the Realms’ Monster Menagerie II line. This $50 box comes with a painted covered wagon, two saddled horses, three treasure chests, two kegs (of course), and all the little things: sacks, camp fires, bedrolls, spellbooks, scrolls, bags of holding…

And just released the day of the show, Assault of the Giants. This newest entry into the line of D&D boardgames comes in a standard edition for $80 or a premium edition with fully-painted miniatures for $130.

Coming soon in Heroclix are two new lines: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Return and Marvel’s Deadpool & X-Force. TMNT will come in blind bags for $3 each. Deadpool & X-Force will be available in a brick of boosters for $130, which is probably your best bet at obtaining that Deadpool riding the unicorn ultra-rare piece (one is available in approximately every four cases).

Recreating a classic oversized comic book I had when I was a kid, the Heroclix Superman vs. Muhammad Ali set comes with a boxing ring, the greatest, and a Superman wearing boxing gloves. Debuting in March, this set will retail for $50.

Three new games were also shown: The Banishing, Tower of London, and Tournament at Camelot. Relasing in March, the Banishing is a difficult strategy cooperative game where you’re banishing creatures. Tower of London is a zone control game available in April. Tournament at Camelot, a May release, is a trick-taking game with box artwork inspired from illuminated manuscripts. All three games will retail for $20.

Hasbro has announced for fall release DropMix, an app-integrated, music-mixing card game. Developed in collaboration with Harmonix Music Systems (creators of the video games Rock Band and Dance Central), DropMix assigns different elements of popular songs (such as the bass, beat, loop, or vocals) to individual cards. When a player puts one of those cards in a slot on the DropMix board, the app mixes that element in to the music it plays through the linked mobile device (iOS or Android).

Little information has been revealed on DropMix game-play. However, Hasbro and Harmonix have said there’s a fair degree of strategy in what they call “Clash Mode“, which is played 1-against-1 or 2-against-2 to 21 points. The app also allows players to save any mix for play later on their mobile device.

Just a few of the songs featured in DropMix are “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, “Sing” by Ed Sheeran, “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood, “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, and “It’s Tricky” by Run-D.M.C.

DropMix will retail for around $100 and come with 60 cards. Additional Playlist Packs and Discover Packs will also be available—the latter including a randomized selection of cards for about $5.

ThunderGryph Games has just announced their latest title headed to Kickstarter soon, Dead Man’s Doubloons. To celebrate the announcement their holding a giveaway on the game’s page.

Dead Man’s Doubloons has players’ ships skirmishing in the water while their captains scour a central island for map fragments and booty. In the end they battle it out to see who’s got the most riches.

I’ve actually had the chance to play an early prototype of the game over Tabletop Simulator with the game’s designer, Jason Miceli of Geek Fever Games. The game is pretty sweet, and can handle 2-5 players in roughly 45 minutes. It’ll be great to see this hit Kickstarter soon and finally come out in its final form!


Toy Fair 2017—Blue Orange

Dr. Eureka was a big hit for Blue Orange in 2017. The games company has expanded the line with two new science-themed puzzle games, Dr. Beaker (April, $20) and Dr. Microbe (just released, $20). Both games are shipping to stores this week. Dr. Beaker comes with four plastic Erlenmeyer flasks (not beakers) and plastic stir bars. At the bottom of the flask is a rotating ring with six colored marbles and an empty middle space; players race to match the pattern on a challenge card by rotating the ring with their stir bar, moving the “molecules” around. In Dr. Microbe, each player has a mini-petri dishes divided into sections and a big tweezer to pluck microbes pieces from a central petri dish. A challenge card is flipped over showing three different microbes; players use the tweezers to place those into their dishes, then find the one that doesn’t match any of the three microbe’s colors or shapes.

Zero (just shipped!, $10) is a card game where you’re trying to get the lowest score in your hand of nine cards by trading cards from a central tableau. When the game is over, each rank is worth only one card of that number, so if you happen to wind up with all seven 6s, that’s just six points.

Kingdomino (just shipped, $18) is a tile-laying game where you’re creating a 5×5 grid of terrain-themed dominoes around your castle. The really clever thing about this is how players choose domino tiles. Each is numbered from 1 to 48 on the back. In a four-player game, four are drawn and placed in numerical order. Four more are placed in a column next to it. Players choose which tiles they want, with more valuable tiles coming lower in the stack. The next turn, the order for choosing tiles is based on the previous turn’s order: you chose a low-scoring tile first? You have your pick of the next four. Choose that last one that’s worth a lot of points? You’re taking whatever is left over next round.

Designed by a pilot, Cleared for Takeoff (just shipped, $16) is a game about getting your fleet of planes off the tarmac and into the sky. Play matching sets of cards based on the plane you’re trying to advance through the boarding, taxiing, and takeoff process, to get all three of your planes off the ground. This game seems to have some of Take That-style of play involved.

A package of seven oddly-shaped six-sided dice are in Dice Stack (April, $10). The object? Roll and stack them in numberical order. It’s a cute dexterity game that’s easily portable (Dice Stack comes with a drawstring bag for the pieces) and can be played anywhere there is a flat surface, level or not. Plus: cool crazy-shaped dice.

Toy Fair 2017—Identity Games

I have a feeling that Identity Games has a hit on their hands with Who’s the Dude? (May, $25), a game that comes with a five foot and a few inches tall inflatable dude that you are forced to do charades with. Yeah, go ahead and read that sentence again. Okay? Good. So in Who’s the Dude? you might have to act out a scene from a movie and you’re manipulating this inflated dude and bending him around and it’s a bit crazy. Imagine having to perform North By Northwest with an inflatable dude as the biplane chases down Cary Grant or maybe you’ll have him hang off of your nose in the climatic Mount Rushmore scene. Or maybe you’re trying to get the others to realize that you’re Zeus and you’re throwing this dude like a lightning bolt.

This is quite possibly my favorite take on the “charades-in-a-box” game.

Dodgeball (summer or fall, about $25) reminded me a bit of Loopin’ Louie in reverse. You’ve got a spinning guy in the center that reverses direction occasionally, but you’re in charge of one of the guys he’s going to be hitting with a ball. As he swings by, you push your lever down, ducking your guy. If the ball tags your head, you’re out. Thing is, your guy? Ping pong ball head. So you might accidentally knock it off when ducking, or chase down the ping pong ball once it gets hit and honestly, nobody looks cool chasing after a bouncing ping pong ball. Idris Elba? Emma Watson? Matt Damon? You would laugh at ’em.

Play this in a carpeted room.


The new game from Games by Bright of Sweden this year is Exeo Duo (May, $35), a two-player abstract strategy game. Each player has four sets of matching pieces with each half of a set restricted to their half of the board, in a puzzling conundrum of getting all the pieces off the board. Exits on the left and right of the board exist, but both pieces in a set have to exit off the same side and at the same time. (Once your last set is ready to exit, it must do so from the center.) This is made more difficult by the movement rules: one piece moves once per turn while the other moves twice. Getting attacked by a matching shape from your opponent’s side is brutal.

Toy Fair 2017—Looney Labs

You couldn’t walk by Looney Labs’ booth without getting a copy of Math Fluxx thrown at you. I kid, ’cause the crew at Looney are fantastic. We picked up a copy of Math Fluxx (releases tomorrow for $16!) which is a math-themed version of Fluxx. They said it’s a gift for us to check out, but what the heck, a mini-review:

It’s good.

Personally, I don’t like Fluxx — it’s not fun unless there’s a theme involved, and the theme of “math” simply isn’t exciting as “Zombies”, “Batman”, or “Monty Python”. So I wasn’t expecting to like this one, but it was a lot more fun than anticipated! The keepers in this game are numbers, 0 through 10 with lots of the low numbers, thinning out until you get to the 10. Goals are things like combining digits to get numbers, but there are extra rules (including two meta rules) that allow you to use actual math to reach the number on the goal card. It was crazy fun and we’ve broken it out a few times to play. Yeah, Fluxx just has to have a theme to get the family interested in it!

Math Fluxx: It’s Good™

Chemistry Fluxx is coming at the end of May. Use elements and laboratory equipment to match the current goal. Like Math Fluxx, Chemistry Fluxx has some basic educational components, and lots of puns.

Non-Fluxx news: Just Desserts has been out for a while, where you make treats for customers. And you probably know about Better with Bacon, a 10-card expansion that was released in late January featuring Maple Bacon Donuts, Bacon Ice Cream, and Kevin. But at GAMA this year, they will be offering Just Coffee, a retailer exclusive expansion that’s meant to be a giveaway. Go bug your local game store and tell ’em you want one!

Oh, and there’s an exciting announcement coming soon that they told me about that’s going to knock your socks off. (Available this fall.)

Also in the works: Time Breaker, a competitive game where you are attempting to stop the Time Breaker. Not much is public about it except it’s still in playtest and Looney Labs is shooting for a 2018 release.

Meanwhile, over at Fully Baked Ideas, the “more adult” imprint from Looney Labs — this is where Stoner Fluxx now lives — they have three new games on the horizon.

Stoner Loonacy (May, $14) is the game Loonacy with art from Stoner Fluxx. Players race to be the first to empty their hand of seven cards by matching them to the cards on the table.

Adult Mad Libs: The Game (June, $20) has all the madcap wordplay from Mad Libs, but with much more innuendo, “full of tasteful, sexy fun without any politics or put-downs”.

Fluxx turns 21 this year, and Fully Baked Ideas celebrates with Drinking Fluxx (July, $25). Complete with plastic cards in case anything spills, this version of Fluxx just might require liquid refreshments to play.

A copy of Math Fluxx was given to us free by Looney Labs but they didn’t know we were going to do a quick review of it, ha ha.

Toy Fair 2017—Kess Games

Kess Games is releasing an updated edition of their super-hero deckbuilding game, Emergents Genesis ($30), this August. Effectively, you’re a new hero at superhero high school, learning your powers and battling each other to be the last hero standing.

Dance Clash ($30), a party game featuring short YouTube videos of Allison Holker and Stephen “Twitch” Boss from So You Think You Can Dance? and YouTube sensation WilldaBeast Adams. The celebrities do dance moves the players have to replicate. Succeed in dance challenges and ascend to the center of the dance floor.

Super Party Battle ($30) is a drinking game-themed game featuring student cards to fight with that include silly challenges (“Jock: You must refer to all players and cards as ‘Bro'”), take that mechanics, and other abilities that affect the game. Waterproof cards and shotglass-like point markers are included.

And of course, there’s a zombie game. But no! Wait! Come back! This isn’t your standard humans vs. zombies game, this is a 1950’s Housewives vs Zombies game. In fact, it’s actually called Housewives vs. Zombies ($50). So you’re all in the suburbs, the menfolk are out at work, and wouldn’t you know it? Your cul-de-sac is being overrun by zombies. Fight ’em off! Survive! Also there’s a squishy foam brain for use as a first player marker.

Toy Fair 2017—HABA USA

HABA USA’s catalog is literally an inch thick. Each year the company comes out with several new products releasing around the time of Toy Fair, six of these in “mid-spring” and one of these — an upgrade to a classic HABA game that’s fun for all ages — in the fall.

We start off with Paul and the Moon ($35), a cooperative memory game for 3-8 year olds. Paul moves around a pond, skipping from stone to stone. When he stops, the player tries to match the symbol on his stone with one on a face-down star. A match? We add a fairy to the ever-growing ladder to the moon. If everyone can complete the ladder, the players win!

Three smaller box games will also be available this spring: Flower Fairy Dominoes, Cat & Co. Meow Meow, and Princess Mina: Junior Rummy (all $8). The Junior Rummy game is a lightly-themed rummy deck with princesses, stars, and numbers. Meow Meow is similar to UNO, with cute animals and colored backgrounds dictating the card following play. Flower Fairy Dominoes? A simple domino-card game with a flower garden theme.

The Princess Mina Jewel Matching Game ($12) is another memory game with jeweled artwork, but when a player matches the gemstones, they get to thread the tiles onto a necklace which can be worn after the game has ended.

Also available in mid-spring is Lumina, the Search for Lightning Bugs ($20). Moving around an island, this youth-oriented push-your-luck game where you play cards illustrating your next move. Move to a location with a lightning bug? Catch it — if it’s the fifth one in your collection, you win.

Lastly, this fall will see Rhino Hero Super Battle ($30) hitting North America. Think Rhino Hero, but larger: more heroes, more buildings, more… fighting? Yes, there are spider monkeys on the loose and other heroes to bonk: Giraffe Boy, Big E., and Batguin.

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