Arriving August 1st, Arena of the Planeswalkers: Shadows Over Innistrad is stand-alone set instead of just an expansion to the popular Arena of the Planeswalkers game. While the box image isn’t clear, we know we’ll be getting 5 Planeswalkers: Sorin, the Innistrad version of Jace, and what possibly looks like Arlinn and Nahiri. I can’t really make out the fifth one.
MSRP will be $29.99.
I’m really glad Hasbro is still supporting the game, though I miss the wave-style releases of figures that Heroscape used.
UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that both the 4th and 5th Planeswalkers in the box are Arlinn in her human and werewolf form.
Available now from Q-Workshop are BattleTech Dice with individual sets at $15 for Houses Kurita, Davion, Liao, Marik, and Steiner. Each set with two house dice plus one die for each of four combat commands.
Coming soon from Q-Workshop are dice sets for Cubicle Seven’s roleplaying games, Doctor Who, The One Ring, and Lone Wolf.
And direct from Games Workshop, a set of Ultramarines Dice, 20 for $20.
Today I’ve got a trio of HABA games to go over: Mix and Match Robbers, Tambuzi, and Space Planets. My thoughts on the three vary a good amount, but overall my kids really enjoyed all three. Myself? We’ll get to that.
First off if Mix and Match Robbers, a game of speed matching. Each round a new head, torso, and set of legs are flipped over from 3 separate decks. These three cards will show you the robber that needs to be caught. The players then search all the face up characters and try to find the one that matches the revealed robber. The player who finds it first get that card as part of their victory pool. The game ends when there’s no more combination cards left, or no more matching character cards in the pool. The player with the most robbers wins the game.
It’s light, fun, and I was even able to play this one with my 2-year-old son (though he’s a bit slower than the older kids). It’s fast, and only costs $7.49. Will it have much staying power in my household? I’m guessing the kids may take it out now and then over the summer, but will probably tire of it quickly. It’s a great game for me to take out and play alone with my youngest, so I can see it getting more play that way. I’d recommend this up to age 6, max.
Next up is Tambuzi, a larger game with an electronic component that plays sounds, dictates how players move, and signals a round’s end. We we really excited to play this one, but it kinda fell flat for me. Each player has two tokens that they’ll move around the board while trying to get the animals to shelter, or at least not outside the board when lightning strikes. The electronic component has a button that players press to dictate their movement, or allow them to enter a hut if they’re next to one. After a while it’ll also emit a crack of thunder. Whichever player is off the board (the player currently moving) will have that piece removed from the game. Play continues until only 3 animals are left on the board, and then points are added up.
The trick here is that you need to play really fast. When you hit the button you get a movement number between one and three. You can also get a hut. When you move, you move outside the board in a clockwise motion. If you land next to a space with an animal on a door mat you swap with that animal and that player then hits the button. If the other animal is already in a hut, you hit the button and move again. If you happen to be next to a hut and get the hut icon, you move inside, swapping with the animal already in there if there is one. If you’re on a blank space, you go again. The goal is to do as much as you can, as fast as you can, so another player gets caught outside when lightning strikes.
You keep playing, with the highest scoring player getting a water token, until all the water tokens are gone. The player with the most tokens at the end winds. To tell you the truth, the game feels way too long playing that way, so my kids and I basically just played until the end of one round, and the person with the highest score won. My 6-year-old son and 10-year-old son enjoy the game to a point, but usually stop after a couple of times. I really didn’t like this one, as it’s purely luck, with nothing really happening except hitting the button as fast as you can. Basically musical chairs with a savanna theme. At $35.99, personally I’d skip it. It’s probably the first HABA game I’ve ever suggested to skip.
Last, but most certainly not least, is Space Planets. This one really hit all the right buttons for me, my 6-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, and 10-year-old son. It’s a dexterity game where you’re trying to roll a die onto a card in a 3×3 grid. If you’ve got enough fuel you can snag the card, and maybe even get a bonus if there’s one listed on the card. Can’t buy it? That’s OK, you can use the roll to refuel.
Each card is worth a certain amount of points, and like I said earlier, some let you take special actions. Once one player has taken five tiles each player takes one more turn and the game is over. The player with the highest points wins. Plants are worth what they say, and any extra fuel you have left over can be converted to 2-1 for points, too. It’s really quick to set up, simple to learn, and a whole lot of fun.
Space Planets may be one of my new favorite HABA games, and I can see this one coming out for play time and time again in our house. At $11.99, this one is a no-brainer to purchase if you’ve got kids in the house. If you were to get only one of the three games I’ve covered here, this would be the one to get.
Anyway, there you have it. I always love getting the chance to play HABA games because you generally can’t go wrong. While Tambuzi wasn’t my cup of tea, my kids did enjoy it. Mix and Match Robbers provides a good amount of play for the price, and Space Planets is a gem.
Copies of Mix and Match Robbers, Tambuzi, and Space Planets were provided free for review by HABA.
Qatar has its first game shop, Cheeky Camel, opened by a pair of gamers who have day jobs in the petroleum industry. Though on weekdays it’s only open in the evenings, the store seems to host a pretty active gaming scene in its upstairs play space.
Stay2Play is a service in Calgary that sets up restaurants and bars to host board game events. The company provides a library of games, training of staff, and publicity. So far, there 16 locations participating.
There’s a business in Milwaukee that’s planning to open a single venue to serve both video gaming and Chess tournaments… I don’t even…
The Game Boutique in Youngtown, Arizona is relocating to a larger space, with expanded hours, and a different name. What’s now called The Orc’s Lair will have a grand opening event July 1st.
Also opening in July is the Playopolis board game cafe in Rochester, UK.
A new game store will be part of the revitalization of the Bradford Mall in Bradford, Pennsylvania.
Brewpoint Coffee Company in Elmhurst, Illinois already had small selection of board games for its customers but is now partnering with local Tyton Games shop to run weekly board game nights.
For nightly Ramadan break-fasts, the Almaz by Momo restaurant in Dubai serves up board games along with a North-African themed buffet.
The Ampersand Hotel in London has a game room with a variety of board games.
At The Den, a cafe in Sebastian, Florida that from the description seems to define “eclectic”, board game nights feature live music.
There are Backgammon sets in the guest rooms and giant-sized Connect Four and Jenga in the outdoor lounge of Hotel Zephyr on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
Posted by David Miller as Modern Board Games
Goro Hasegawa, inventor of Othello, died this past Monday in Kashiwa, Japan at the age of 83. A variation on an earlier game, Reversi, the modern Othello was developed by Hasegawa as a youngster in the schoolyard but then pitched to a local toy maker about 20 years later.
Othello has sold millions of copies around the world and is the subject of a trademark for the phrase, “A minute to learn… a lifetime to master.”
[via The Japan Times]
Indie Boards & Cards is merging with Action Phase Games to create “a single games publishing behemoth.” Most of the company’s products will carry the Indie Boards & Cards name, though the Heroes Wanted line and certain other products will continue under the Action Phase brand. Distribution will remain managed by PSI.
Funnybone Toys has signed on with Lion Rampant for distribution in Canada. Previously, the company was handling Canadian sales directly. Funnybone says the move is the first step of a global expansion.
Ninja Division Publishing (Super Dungeon Explore) and Seven Seas Entertainment have formed a joint venture, Shinobi 7, that “will focus on producing tabletop games that are based on hit anime, manga, and pop culture brands.” The new company’s first title will be Space Dandy Galactic Deck-Building Game.
Superstore chain, Hastings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy while owing PSI, Ultra PRO, and ACD Distribution each hundred of thousands of dollars.
Spin Master is opening an office in Australia and will take over the distribution of its own products currently distributed by Funtastic. The company is also expanding its operations in Mexico and Central and Eastern Europe and recently purchased children’s app makers Toca Boca and Sago Mini.
Posted by Robert C Kalajian Jr as Modern Board Games
Breaking Games is a fairly new company, only about a year and a half old. This week they hit a major milestone. The Game of 49, a bidding/bluffing 4-in-a-row game, just hit Target shelves. This is a major win for Breaking Games, and hopefully will open the door for more of their great games to be picked up by the retailer. I’ve heard some rumors that Poop may be hitting shelves soon.
The Game of 49 should be well stocked, and I was able to check and find that most Targets within 25 miles of me had at least 5 copies in stock. It’s a great game, and well worth the $25 and drive to Target.
Afternoon tea at the St. James Hotel and Club in London was put together by Executive Head Chef, William Drabble around a board game theme.
Snakes and Ladders: Dark chocolate filled with milk chocolate mousse topped with cherries marinated in Kirsch, snakeskin print chocolate, chocolate ladder, passion fruit marshmallow snake.
Monopoly: Top Hat Dark chocolate hat filled with a blood orange mousse, set on a gluten-free dark chocolate sponge, topped with a blood orange jelly, finished with a dark chocolate and silver glaze.
Chess Board: Chocolate and vanilla shortbread looking like a chess board filled with a dulcey ganache (caramalised white chocolate) topped with a dulcey chocolate chess piece.
Dice: Gluten-free Battenberg sponge cake with apricot jam, wrapped in luxury marzipan, finished with white chocolate crispy biscuit pearls (contain gluten), topped with a white chocolate dice.
Scrabble: Bramley apple mousse set on a genoise sponge finished with white and dark chocolate scrabble pieces.
Dominoes: All butter shortbread biscuit, topped with a white chocolate cheesecake, glazed with a white chocolate jelly, topped with dark chocolate crispy biscuit pearls.
All the games are also available to play.
The latest Dungeons & Dragons board game, Tyrants of the Underdark, should arrive at retail within a few weeks and if I didn’t already have a copy it would be for me a must-buy. The game is substantive but not difficult and has a nice balance of interesting mechanics and thematic conflict. I played it with a friend the first time and we immediately wanted to play it again and again.
Despite its D&D heritage, Tyrants of the Underdark isn’t an adventure game. It makes use of the Forgotten Realms setting but instead of following the RPG style draws on deck-building, area control, and war game inspirations to represent the political maneuverings and intrigue of dark-elf drow society. Players work to place spies, control underground cities, recruit minions, and assassinate opponents. They do this in game terms with two resources: influence for deck-building and power for maneuvering on the board.
The deck-building portion works pretty much like you’d expect. There’s a six card market from which players purchase minion cards representing drow, dragon, elemental, and demon factions. Each turn a player draws five cards from their assembled deck, using the actions and resources on those cards to purchase additional cards, place pieces on the board, capture opponents’ pieces, etc.
On the board are a number of Underdark cities and the pathways connecting them. Control of a city goes to the player with the most troops inside. Getting there, though, normally requires deliberate expansion along the pathways. That is, until one manages to place a spy, which doesn’t exert any control itself but does allow a player to leapfrog intervening enemies and open spaces.
The winner is determined by victory points awarded from a variety of sources. Every city awards victory points to the player controlling it. So do most of the minion cards. One thing I found particularly interesting about the game is how cards a player has managed to remove from their deck (an important strategy in many deck-building games) go up in victory point value. Rather than being considered trashed, the game treats them as if they’ve been promoted to the drow house’s inner circle.
In terms of complexity, Tyrants occupies a middle ground. My friend and I figured out how to play pretty easily from a quick read through the rule book. Only after that first play-through, however, did we start to recognize some of the important strategies. For me at least, though, that’s exactly how the best games work.
Tyrants of the Underdark is a Wizards of the Coast design but is being published by Gale Force Nine. As I said, it should be available at retail within the next few weeks. MSRP is $75 and the game handles 2-4 players in around an hour.
A complimentary copy of Tyrants of the Underdark was provided by Gale Force Nine for review.
A new version of Ticket to Ride is on the way, one with ships as well as trains. Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails maintains the same style of game-play as the original but challenges players with an additional layer of strategy that trades off between steamships and locomotives. Each route on the board—the world on one side and the Great Lakes region on the other—requires one or the other. There’s a deck of ship cards for claiming routes separate from the train cards. And players decide how they intend to balance between the two travel options by selecting a number of trains and ships to work with at the beginning of the game.
Other new features of Rails & Sails include harbors, which players can build for additional points in port cities they’ve already connected, and tour tickets, which award bonus points for connecting multiple cities (more than just the two found on normal tickets).
Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails will debut at Gen Con and should hit retail outlets shortly thereafter. MSRP is $80 or €70.