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.

According to a study by researchers with the Mayo Clinic, seniors who play games are less likely to experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an intermediate stage of dementia. Nearly 2,000 subjects, 70 years or older were followed for 4 years, interviewed about mentally stimulating activities, and evaluated for cognitive function. Those who played games at least once-a-week were 22 percent less likely to suffer from MCI.

Similar results were also found for craft activities (28 percent), computer use (30 percent), and social activities (23 percent).

The study, published in the January issue of JAMA Neurology, did not control for the same activities performed earlier in life and could not conclusively determine cause and effect.

Familiar Games recently launched Mageling on Kickstarter and was kind enough to send me a prototype of the game to get a feel of what the game plays like. Familiar called the game a “dice activation” game and says it plays like a deck builder without all the shuffling and sorting of cards. This is pretty spot on.

Mageling has you trying to beat 5 different locations by rolling dice, allocating the dice to earn Power, Mana, or buy cards, and using the powers on those cards to make yourself more and more powerful. Power is the currency used to purchase cards, while Mana is a type of banked power. Managing these two resources becomes critical, especially late in the game.

As far as cards go, players may have a Grimoire of up to 8 cards in front of them. These cards are always in play and can be activated by rolling their symbol one the dice during a turn. Cards can be damaged by location text of abilities from other cards which mean they have to be healed by a die roll, thus lowering your turn’s effectiveness. There’s also Spawns that attach to you that prevent you from beating locations and can have other adverse effects through the game. These must be removed by spending 2 Power.

The best way to wrap your head around all this is to watch a playthrough here.

The first person to beat the 5th location is the winner.

I played this with my 11-year-old son, the deckbuilding fan of the family, and we both had an amazing time playing. The game initially felt slow to ramp up, but I blame that on the learning curve since we decided to read the rules as we went along. Once we got the hang of things turns were really quick. The whole experience took about 45 for the two of us and that would probably drop to 30 now that we know how to play.

Mageling is almost funded. A pledge of $10 will get you a print-and-play copy of the game once it’s funded, while a pledge of $22 will get you a print copy. In my mind, the latter is the way to go. It’s an excellent price for an excellent game.

A prototype copy of Mageling was provided free for this preview by Familiar Games

Game Blotter

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesA man was mugged for his board games in Hull, UK. One, possibly two, discerning thugs (then again, I don’t know which games were grabbed) robbed the man of two board games and left him with life-threatening injuries. Said the local constabulary, “This was an isolated incident. Luckily incidents of this kind are rare and we don’t believe there is any threat to the wider public.”

Two men in Maroochydore, Australia, bored with “nothing to do at home”, grabbed an unspecified board game off the shelf of their local Target and walked out the front door with the box shoved down a pants leg. Stealth was not their strong suit, though. Police officers overheard them planning their caper, watched them grab the game, and followed them out the door before making an arrest.

In an incident made for headlines, a Florida woman stabbed her 18 year-old niece in the ear with a screwdriver during a game of Family Feud.

According to the website, eCommerce Bytes, in the Amazon listing for Hasbro’s Pie Face game, someone marked up boxes so the people appeared in blackface. That image isn’t there any more, nor was there any explanation available for how or why that image might have been part of the listing in the first place.

Petersen Entertainment is suing PayPal in Texas court. The game company claims that PayPal has improperly refused to hand over nearly $58,000 raised through Kickstarter for Cthulhu Wars. This despite Petersen providing documentation to PayPal that it has already shipped the product to the customers.

It seems that an apology and voluntary pay-cut wasn’t enough contrition for the president of the Japan Shogi Association after penalizing a player for cheating without evidence. He’s now resigned his position.

The mayor and deputy-mayor of Iizuka, Japan have resigned in the wake of public outcry over their habit of gambling on Mahjong during business hours. Also, the funeral business owned by one of the people with whom they played landed a municipal contract.

Two men in their 60s, one of them the president of the Hop Sing Tong Benevolent Association, were stabbed to death by an intruder while playing Mahjong in the association’s Los Angeles recreation center.

After several months of surveillance, police in Mallorca, Spain raided a location of weekend Mahjong games, where they believe €25,000-35,000 was illegally gambled on weekly basis.

“Most people who played Chess are liars,” said a Muslim televangelist in Turkey. “Playing Chess is worse than gambling and eating pork.” In response, the Turkish Chess Federation is suing.

A man died while fleeing from police who broke up a street dice game of Bầu Cua Cá Cọp in Binh Dinh, Vietnam. The police and coroner say he died from lack of oxygen caused by running. His uncle says the police beat him.

A man who just tried to walk away from a dice game argument in Waco, Texas, was followed out of the apartment by his host and stabbed in the parking lot.

In Cleveland, Ohio, when a man tried to rob a street dice game at gunpoint, one of the players, who had a concealed-carry permit, shot back and killed the robber.

In Ahmedabad, India, a dump-truck driver took to the wrong side of the road, killing a Chess coach riding a scooter on his way to a lesson. The driver’s employer then quickly began a dig on the street, attempting to suggest it was an active work zone.

Someone experiencing a seizure crashed their SUV right through the miniatures section of Deep Comics & Games in Huntsville, Alabama. Though the store was occupied at the time, no patrons or staff were injured.

According to police in Gainesville, Florida, a man grabbed a collection of 1,000 Magic: The Gathering cards from an unlocked car, then tried to sell them at a local game shop. The store manager, though, was a friend of the victim and, recognizing the cards, reported the seller to police.

An 83 year old man was beaten and robbed while walking home from a game of Dominoes in the Bronx.

Also in the Bronx, it was the Dominoes game itself that turned violent. An argument started, shots were fired, a woman was hit in the neck. The reports are unclear, though, whether she was participating in the game or hit by a stray bullet.

A former police officer in Cebu, the Philippines was shot and killed by a masked gunman while playing Mahjong. Authorities think the killing was retaliatory for something connected to the victim’s time in law-enforcement.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesThe latest deal at Bundle of Holding is for Fading Suns (2012 revised second edition). The starter collection ($14.95) includes the Player’s Guide and Game Master’s Guide, as well as the Worlds of the Realm setting supplement. The bonus collection ($25.13)  includes five more supplements.

For the month of February, any order of $75 or more from Steve Jackson Games’ Warehouse23 will receive a Valentine’s Day Munchkin Monster Box as well.

In celebration of Chinese New Year, Panda Express restaurants will be giving out Celebration Kits, which include a Know Your CNY card game, with every order of a Family Feast. Offer expires February 21st. is giving away a limited release Honda Monopoly.

For $10 off orders of $50 from, use promo code “SAVE2017”.

Fat Brain Toys is running a 30% off Just Because sale.

Inkwell Ideas’ 5e Fiendopedia: Assorted Humanoids, currently 20% off at $1.99, can be had for just $0.99 but there are some hoops to jump through.

Closing today is Passport Game Studios’ HOP to It contest, in which the prize is copies of Tokaido Deluxe, the Matsuri expansion for Tokaido, and Samurai Spirit.

Also closing today is USAopoly’s giveaway of a Yu-Gi-Oh! game pack, which includes Monopoly: Yu-Gi-Oh!, a Yu-Gi-Oh!: Millennium Puzzle Collector’s Coin Bank, and a Yu-Gi-Oh! Collector’s Puzzle.

A sale on Mattel’s Pictionary Man Double Draw by Toys “R” Us expires today.

Play Fair, which began as an open-to-consumers auxiliary event at New York Toy Fair 2016, is moving to a fall show and will take place this year on the weekend of November 4th and 5th. It will remain, though, at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

At the inaugural event last year, 20,000 people attended Play Fair. Among the exhibitors already signed on for this year’s Play Fair are LEGO, ALEX Brands, K’Nex, Snazaroo, SCS Direct, VTech, Mattel, Hasbro, and Safari.

Play Fair is hosted by the Toy Industry Association and LeftField Media.

Onitama Sensei’s Path Lands in May

Onitama is an excellent game. In fact, it’s one that should be in every gamer’s collection. We love it in our household, and it sees a lot of play from both myself and my kids. Imagine my excitement when I found out there’s an expansion to the game coming out in May.

Onitama: Sensei’s Path is a set of 16 new move cards for use in Onitama. They can be used as their own set of move cards or shuffled in with the previous cards to create a ton of new card combinations.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to base Onitama game to use Sensei’s Path. Sensei’s Path will retail for $12.99.

Penny Arcade, partnering with ReedPOP, is launching its first tabletop-focused game convention, PAX Unplugged. The event, which is scheduled for November 17-19 this year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, will join five other PAX shows with special attention to board games, card games, RPGs, and miniatures.

PAX Unplugged will take all the elements that have drawn millions of gamers to PAX – the chance to play and see the reveal of highly-anticipated upcoming games, attend game-inspired music concerts, participate in tournaments and watch panels with industry leaders – but with a renewed focus on fostering the best event for the burgeoning tabletop gaming community.

That makes the weekend before Thanksgiving a hot one for game events. PAX Unplugged is scheduled opposite BGG.CON and ChiTAG, though each serves different target markets.

Tickets to PAX Unplugged will go on sale in the spring.

Yesterday Gamelyn Games launched Heroes of Land, Air & Sea on Kickstarter, a 2-hour 4X style game that’s easy to learn and play. I believe that promise as the game being designed by Scott Almes, designer of the Tiny Epic series of games.

Heroes of Land, Air & Sea is a classic Orcs vs Human game. Being a 4X game, players will have to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate, grabbing territory, managing resources, and crushing their opponents. The game handles 2-4 players but can be expanded to with Faction Packs to accommodate 5-6 players.

Everything here looks like it’ll be top notch, including the pre-painted miniatures. That’s not something we’re used to seeing in Kickstarter projects. Of course you’ll need to pledge at the $100 level to get the game included with the miniatures. Pledges at lower levels will get you die cut, cardboard standies.

If you’re interested in the game, go make a pledge! It’s already funded, so you’re sure to get a copy when it’s completed.

Retail Games

The Nerd Cave was opened this fall in Lakeport, California as an alternative outlet for the non-electronic inventory of The Game Shop. The latter is located just up the road and was recently purchased by new owners, who decided to separate digital and analog product lines.

In Frisco, Texas, @Nerdvana serves coffee and board games.

Carolina Tabletop Games opened a few months ago on Main Street in Pineville, North Carolina, selling games and hosting gamers.

Utica has a new cafe in Wanna Play?, where the potato chips are fresh-made and the board games are $5.00 per person per day, or $2.50 with a meal.

Opening day of the D20 Board Game Cafe in Warford, UK was exactly 1 year from the day they came up with the idea.

The upstairs, public, cafe area of a Publix supermarket in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida has become a gathering place for people playing Mahjong, Bridge, and Canasta.

According to market research firm NPD Group, game sales in the United States grew 21 percent from the year before, reaching a total of $1.77 billion in 2016. The games category, in fact, was the third largest segment of overall toy sales, falling just behind collectibles and outdoor & sports toys at 8.7% of the total market.

Also of note, within the collectibles segment, blind pack sales grew 60 percent 2015-2016 and were six-times greater than in 2013!

Youth electronics were up 3 percent. Building sets were down 3 percent.

NPD reported similar growth in the U.K., where the games & puzzles segment also increased 21 percent year-on-year.

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