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.


Okay, this is strange.

So there’s Shut Up & Sit Down, a games review site that publishes game news, and they’re kind of a big deal. Like, crazy big in the general gaming otherspace that’s not actually involved in designing or publishing games. Over 50,000 people are subscribed to their YouTube channel with several review videos having over 100,000 views.

Now they’ve decided to leverage their brand to launch a quite small gaming convention in “annoyingly beautiful” Vancouver, Canada on October 6th through October 8th of this year. Aiming to sell 740 tickets to a board game convention based in a downtown hotel (The Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown), they’re bringing the Seattle Megagames Society to run a few events over the weekend and a few select publishers (some small people, like Fantasy Flight Games and Plaid Hat Games) to run demo areas. Mainly funded by ticket sales instead of exhibit hall rental space, Shut Up & Sit Down is hoping that the US$150 admission price will help fund this show and lay the groundwork for future SHUX shows.

In particular, they’re using the funds to pay for flights and hotels for SHUX’s special guests. “You would be shocked by how few conventions do this,” SU&SD writes. SU&SD co-founder Paul Dean responded to that thread on their website:

…We constantly get invited to speak at or put on events at other cons, ones with far bigger budgets, without any offers of accommodation or travel assistance or fees for our time/preparation/work. That basically boils down to people saying to us “Please be an attraction we can advertise at our con for free,” while we look at air fares and hotel costs running into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

That sucks and we don’t want to do that to other people.

The mainly UK-based media company said that one of the reasons they chose to debut SHUX in North America is that continent has about 70% of their audience. “The UK is 15% of our audience, and has been from day 1,” was posted on Shut Up & Sit Down’s twitter. “70% of our donors are US and CA. If anything, it was the USA that gave us our start.”

Crowdfunding Highlights

Cam Banks’ Magic Vacuum Design Studio has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Cortex Prime, the newest version of the Cortex Plus system. Cam was the lead designer and developer of the Cortex Plus system, which was used in the Smallville, Leverage, Firefly, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying games. Two different books are offered, a 152+ page roleplaying game, and a basic system reference guidebook. A $10 pledge gets you pdf versions of both books in January while physical copies begin at $25, arriving in April of 2018, with a hardcover Cortex Prime book only available during this campaign starting at $35.

Posthuman Studios has announced a second edition of Eclipse Phase, launching a funding campaign last week. The science fiction roleplaying game is set in a quite advanced future: your mind can inhabit different bodies, death is something that can be easily avoided, and need is alleviated. However, transhumanity has fled Earth following a war against artificial intelligences, dispersing thoughout the solar system (and beyond) for survival. The new edition features faster character creation and resleeving (switching from body to body), an updated ruleset for quicker and simpler play at the table, and a redesigned layout to minimize flipping through the book to find relevant rules. Already funded, a $60 pledge gets you a copy of the physical book around October; a pdf-only reward is available down at a $20 pledge.

The story of Brass is a long and troubled tale, but finally Brass is being reprinted in an updated version from Roxley Games. Brass, now titled Brass: Lancashire, is part of a funding campaign that also is producing a sequel game, Brass: Birmingham. Both games have updated artwork (the best art I’ve seen in any edition of Brass, frankly). Lancashire features updated 2- and 3-player rules to “provide an experience more consistent with [the 4-player gameplay]”. Birmingham has a dynamic board setup with new canal and rail scoring (plus an evocative nightscape map). Crazily over-funded and with several upgrade stretch goals already unlocked, you can get either one of the games for about $60 or both as a reward for backing at the $100 level. (Funding levels are in CAD.) Final versions of the games are expected in January of 2018.

Back when I was heading up a rather large monthly game day event, it seemed that every third attendee was a budding game designer. Gameplaywright and Atlas Games are creating a great product for these designers: The White Box. This project comes with components for prototyping and development, a book of essays about how to make games, and a gift certificate for The Game Crafter, a small press board game printer that is commonly used for prototyping. A $30 pledge gets you a copy of The White Box in October. Higher level pledges get you a consultation on your game design.

Sailor Moon Games

Dyskami Publishing has secured a license from Toei Animation for a line of board games based on the Sailor Moon Crystal series. The first game planned is Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge, scheduled for late summer this year. This one is being designed by James Ernest based on his Button Men game. The next release, planned for 2018, is a “tile-passing-and-bluffing game”, Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff.

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Selling to Walmart

On June 28th, Walmart is conducting an Open Call event at its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where potential suppliers will have an opportunity to pitch their products to company buyers. The theme of this event is made-in-the-U.S.A., meaning Walmart will be focused on identifying new products in all categories produced domestically.

Applications to participate in Walmart’s 2017 Open Call are due May 18th but space is limited.

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Eh. After watching three episodes of The Toy Box, the toy-focused, Shark Tank like television show on ABC, I’m not impressed. Though, perhaps I’m jaded from 9 years attending Toy Fair… Actually, some of the toys in the first three episodes of The Toy Box weren’t bad. But not bad just doesn’t cut it. I mean, Mattel, who promises to produce the winning toy, doesn’t need a televised national competition to come up with dolls that have ballet costumes and a couple of extra degrees of articulation.

Not that a decently made new doll, or nested foam sports balls, couldn’t find some room in the marketplace. These ideas, though, do nothing for a large established toy company like Mattel, which has many designers on staff, as well as existing relationships with experienced outside inventors. Frankly, I don’t think the average viewer either is going to be much impressed.

The concept, I believe, has a lot of potential but the first three episodes so far haven’t realized it. The mentors representing the first on-screen evaluation stage are far too calm and gentle. Here’s a guy who sold his house and moved back in with his mother to finance production of a kind of plush he didn’t realize was already in the market from a different company. Another contestant’s brilliant idea is to make a stiff curved swing-set seat specifically for kids to stand on. Does that really require $130 specialized equipment? Definitely not. But throughout, the panel of expert mentors is calm and polite and barely challenges the inventors other than to express “concerns”. Liven it up guys!

By the way, let me say from personal experience, with an emergency room visit and stitches to the head, that standing on a swing-set seat is not a safe activity for children!

The second evaluation stage in each episode—before a panel of four children judges—you’d think would be a lot more fun to watch. Unfortunately, it just isn’t. Eleven year-old actors paid to look young and recite adult lines are lacking in chemistry and spontaneity.

Now maybe you think differently. Maybe you have more confidence in what will come out of this series. If so, you should know that the final chosen toy—whatever that will turn out to be—is already in production and will be sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us beginning May 20th. Toys “R” Us is also running a sweepstakes, where the grand prize includes travel for four to Los Angeles, a tour of Mattel headquarters, $1,500 in gift cards, and a meeting with the show’s winning inventor.

Also, if you think you have the perfect toy or game for Mattel, MysticArt Pictures is already casting inventors for a second season. And a U.K. version of the show has been licensed to Electus International. Maybe that one will be better. I hope so.

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Badges for the newest PAX convention go on-sale next Wednesday, May 3rd. Other PAX events have sold out, so if you’re interested don’t hesitate.

PAX Unplugged takes place November 17-19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. The event is a joint effort of Penny Arcade and ReedPOP, and will focus entirely on tabletop games.

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Valerian: The Alpha Missions

A board game based on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has been announced by Ultra PRO Entertainment and should arrive at retail to coincide with the release of the film. Valerian: The Alpha Missions is a cooperative adventure game in which the players explore randomly placed hidden tiles representing a contested zone of the Alpha metropolis. By defeating encountered aliens and sacrificing various resources they can complete a set of missions and get to an extraction site before time runs out.

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Catalyst Game Labs announced today Dragonfire, a deck-building adventure game based on Dungeons & Dragons and set in the Forgotten Realms. The initial release, “coming soon”, will have players choosing from classic D&D races and classes and beginning their adventure along the Sword Coast. The company also plans future expansions with players leveling up their characters while visiting Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter, and Waterdeep.

Catalyst is building Dragonfire from the same system the company used for its Shadowrun: Crossfire game (though the two will definitely not be compatible).

Adapting that engine to Dungeons & Dragons is an exciting opportunity to build new ways for players to experience both quick adventures and long-term campaigns in this legendary high-fantasy setting. And at every step, Catalyst has worked hard to remain true to D&D lore. When players open a copy at the table, regardless of what they enjoy playing—RPGs, deckbuilder games, or both—they’ll find a complete box of fun.

Dragonfire will be priced at $60 retail and come with five decks of encounter cards, plus a market deck, magic item deck, character cards, adventure cards, an adventure book, sticker sheets, tokens, plastic clips, and a rule book.

Among the expansions planned are Wondrous Cache (more magic items), Heroes of the Sword Coast (more character cards with new classes and races), and Encounters: Dragonspear Castle (a new adventure with more encounter, magic item, and market cards). Several of the expansions are going to print at the same time as the base game.

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Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesFor 15% off games from HasbroToyShop.com, use promo code “GAMES2017”.

HasbroToyShop.com also runs an eBay store front where many games are discounted more than at its namesake web site.

Here’s a coupon for 15% off at Toys “R” Us that’s good through tomorrow.

Dog Might Games Huge Inventory Sale means 20% off all in-stock items.

Amazon deals:

Blog and podcast giveaways:

Dungeon Masters Guild Megabundle #2 highlights products from the top-30 bestselling community authors for 87% off.

Currently available at Bundle of Holding are two deals for 4th edition Champions, Essentials and Universe. To get the Bonus Collections of both will cost around $70 but between the two, you’d get more than 60 books. Also being offered by Bundle of Holding is Rocket Age, the RPG of retro-style science-fiction from Cubicle 7, and East Texas University, modern high school horror setting for Savage Worlds.

AEG is conducting two surveys. The company will send respondents promo cards for Mystic Vale and Smash Up.

CoolStuffInc’s 15th Anniversary Celebration features many games at significant discount, such as Pandemic Legacy for 52% off, SeaFall for 56% off, and a MtG Modern Masters 2017 booster box for 21% off.

Through the end of the month, furniture orders from Geek Chic qualify for free accessories.

ACD Distribution is giving away a Pokemon: Sun & Moon Elite Trainer Box.

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2017 Mensa Select Winners

At the Mensa Mind Games this past weekend in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, DC, member judges played through and selected the following games as 2017 Mensa Select winners:

Amalgam from Simply Fun—A game in which the players, as wizards, try to collect sets of potion ingredients but have to rely on their memories of the ingredients they’ve already collected.

Around the World in 80 Days from Iello Games—A Spiel des Jahres winner from years ago (Hare & Tortoise), reproduced based on the Jules Verne novel. Players race around the board, moving forward and back as they wish. However, they must carefully plan to arrive back in London with the least amount of cash left in hand.

Clank! from Renegade Game Studio—A dungeon delve fantasy adventure game built on deck-building mechanisms.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle from USAopoly—Another deck-building game, this one follows the novels with a series of cooperative games that get more complex and more difficult to beat as they progress.

Imagine from Gamewright—A party game where the giver-of-clues chooses an item from a card and then tries to illustrate the item by combining images and symbols with an overlay of transparent cards.

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