This category includes posts about games that don't fit into the other categories - such as about alternate reality games - as well as general game discussion and related news, such as TV shows and books.


ThinkFun has been acquired by international toy company Ravensburger AG. ThinkFun, perhaps best known for its logic puzzles, such as Rush Hour, also produces educational games like Math Dice and the new //CODE series, and recently acquired Khet: The Laser Game.

ThinkFun will join the Ravensburger North America division along with Wonder Forge and Brio. The company, however, will continue to operate out of its Alexandria, Virginia offices and will retain current staff.

When a mid-10th century Viking grave was excavated in Birka, Sweden in the 1880s, the warrior remains within were assumed to be those of a man, despite some contradictory skeletal traits. Using DNA analysis, however, researchers with Stockholm and Uppsala Universities have now established that the occupant of the grave was a woman. The individual carried two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome, demonstrating that the women warriors in Viking poetry and art were no myth.

As befitting such a leader, the individual was also holding a board game.

The grave goods include a sword, an axe, a spear, armour-piercing arrows, a battle knife, two shields, and two horses, one mare and one stallion; thus, the complete equipment of a professional warrior. Furthermore, a full set of gaming pieces indicates knowledge of tactics and strategy, stressing the buried individual’s role as a high-ranking officer.

[via EurekAlert]

Game Blotter

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with games

Someone pilfered uncut sheets of unreleased Magic: The Gathering cards from the factory and posted them for sale online with images. The alleged thief has been arrested and the card sheets recovered. However, with card images already circulating, Wizards of the Coast has ramped up previews for the Ixalan set.

A 31 year old man from St. Cloud, Minnesota was arrested for stabbing his 20 year old Magic: The Gathering opponent seven times in the neck, and for hitting him in the head with a mallet. The suspect has a previous conviction for possession of explosives with criminal intent.

Cary Young is suing Rob Elliot in Victorian County Court (Australia) over royalties he says are owed for contributing 4,000 trivia questions to the board game Smart Ass. Young is a master at trivia who had a legendary run on the television game show Sale of the Century. Elliot, creator of the board game, was also host of Wheel of Fortune.

James Damore, the Google engineer fired by the company after circulating a memo critical of the company’s diversity policies, claims to hold the Chess rating of FIDE Master but no evidence supporting this has been found or provided.

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines banned player Jomel Sinagula for life “for recidivist cheating and identity theft.” Sinagula adopted various aliases for team competitions in order to position himself against lower ranked players. Several of Sinagula’s teammates were banned for 6 month periods for collaborating with the scheme.

Chess player Fernando Alberto Braga has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport a decision by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) not to grant him the title of Grandmaster. Central to the question of Braga’s qualification is whether a rule change made in 2005 should apply to the counting of games he played in 1992 and whether his brief stint with a 2500+ rating in 1998 took place too long ago to meet the requirement.

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq has returned to the Ministry of Culture an antique Chess set formerly owned by Saddam Hussein and stolen in 2003.

At the 2017 Canadian Chess Championship, GM Bator Sambuev and IM Nikolay Noritsyn were in the second blitz game of a tiebreak series to determine the winner, when Noritsyn attempting to promote his passed pawn couldn’t find a spare queen next to the board. So instead, he called out “queen” and replaced the pawn with an upside-down rook (common practice in non-tournament settings). At that point, an arbiter interrupted and ruled the upside-down piece to be a rook, not a queen, noting the presence of a queen there at the side of the board. Later review of video recorded at the tournament, however, revealed that at the time Noritsyn was looking for the queen piece, it was in the hand of his opponent.

Effective July 1 under the FIDE Laws of Chess it became illegal to make a move with two hands (such as when castling or promoting a pawn). Making such a move has the potential to cost a player the game, though in several high-profile games (including the Canadian one mentioned previously), arbiters have failed to intervene over the issue.

A burgler was caught on surveillance video breaking in to a Bronx, New York apartment and stealing board games. Police are looking for help in identifying the culprit.

Recently released government records reveal that in the mid-1990s, conflict and accusations within a San Francisco-area group of Dungeons & Dragons players triggered an investigation by the FBI. Agents were looking for the Unibomber but found just “that the typical war gaming enthusiast is overweight and not neat in appearance.”

Eighteen people were arrested for gambling at cards in Anlong Veng, Cambodia. Police in the village, known for being the last holdout of the Khmer Rouge and final resting place of Pol Pot, took the players back to the station and “educated” them on the dangers of their habit.

A Muslim Cricket player in India suffered harassment online after posting to Facebook a picture of himself playing Chess with his son. The harassers apparently side with the Muslim televangelist in Turkey who said that “playing Chess is worse than gambling and eating pork.” Several Indian Muslim clerics, though, have come to the Cricketer’s defense, saying that there is nothing wrong with playing Chess as long as gambling isn’t involved.

A homeless man was playing Chess in Union Square Park in Manhattan at 3:30 AM when three other men approached and got in to an argument with him, and then one of them stabbed him in the chest.

In Santa Monica, California’s Chess Park, two players were assaulted by a couple of homeless men, who were apparently drunk and raving about some drug dealer. “I bitched to the police about losing our beloved chess park to these roving bands of dangerous homeless, but didn’t see the point in pressing charges given the reality of our legal system.”

Rubik’s Brand Limited is suing in U.S. federal court Duncan Toys and Toys “R” Us for trademark infringement. Rubik’s claims that the appearance of Duncan’s Quick Cube puzzle, sold at Toys “R” Us, copies the trademarked design of the Rubik’s Cube without permission and will cause confusion among consumers. There is no patent claim in the suit.

To fight the counterfeiting of board games, Ad Magic and Breaking Games have started applying 3D photopolymer authentication labels to their products. The labels are produced by De La Rue, a U.K. company, and include parallax images and unique 8 digit serial numbers. The labels can even be authenticated with standard mobile apps.

Reaper Minis was dragged in, or involved itself in (depending on how you look at it), some controversial social-media postings by one of its employees. Ed Pugh, Reaper’s CEO, said that the company was “reviewing the matter and taking appropriate action,” which made other people upset that Reaper felt it should have a stake in what one of its employees said outside of the workplace.

The number of private card rooms in Texas is growing. To avoid anti-gambling laws, instead of taking a stake in the wagers, they collect membership and seat rental fees.

The World Series of Poker has been having a problem with card quality, leading to complaints by many participants about card marking, intentional and unintentional.

Police raiding a Mahjong game at a home in Cape Town, South Africa ended up arresting fourteen people for possession of shark fins and abalone.

New York City Chess school Chess at 3 is suing Hugh Kramer, one of its former instructors, claiming that he violated the terms of his employment contract by taking with him 24 students. The school is asking for $100,000 in damages.

A Chess instructor in Malaysia is facing criminal charges for allegedly groping his young charges. In Mumbai, a Chess coach was arrested for molesting a sister and brother pair of students, 10 and 7 years old. Once in custody, charges were added for beating a student aged five.

The State of Florida finally settled its dispute with the Seminole Tribe over banked card games. Tribal casinos will retain exclusive rights to run card games for another 13 years and the state will get $340 million. To enforce the bargain, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has filed administrative complaints against the Sarasota Kennel Club and Pensacola Greyhound Racing for failing to comply with rules on designated-player games in their Poker rooms.

Cantina, a bar in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was fined for hosting dice games with gambling.

The proprietor of a martial arts gym in Singapore was arrested for renting Mahjong tables and allowing gambling inside his facility.

Police believe that a man who showed up at an Annapolis, Maryland hospital with a gunshot wound had gotten in to an argument at a dice game, took a taxi home to get his gun, then took the same taxi to the hospital after he was wounded. They arrested him on weapons charges, theft, and failing to pay the cabbie.

A man returning to the scene of a dice game argument in Birmingham, Alabama, brought in the car with him a friend and his 4 year old daughter. The friend pulled a gun, so did the person they were going to see, but it was the girl and an elderly woman in another vehicle who ended up shot. The girl later died.

stray bullet originating at a dice game in Louisville, Kentucky struck and killed a 7 year old boy eating a bedtime snack in his home nearby.

The 1 year old hit by three stray bullets from a dice game shootout in Washington, D.C. survived and was, in fact, discharged from the hospital the next day.

Other dice game shootings occurred in Riverdale, Georgia; Phildelphia; Brooklyn; the BronxJacksonville, Florida; Edwardsville, Illinois; again in the Bronx; Baltimore; St. Louis; Detroit; and Shreveport, Louisiana.

A man who shot three people in a Las Vegas home over a game of Dominoes forgot his car keys when he left the scene, then pounded on the door expecting to be let back in.

A man in Hanover, Jamaica was shot and killed while playing Dominoes.

In Stratford, Connecticut, a man pulled a gun on his cousin because he thought he was being cheated at a game of Dominoes.

In High Springs, Florida, a woman shot at her husband while he was playing Dominoes in the park. Why was not revealed.

In Owatonna, Minnesota, a woman was arrested for attacking her boyfriend and other players during a game of Dominoes, with a knife and a shard of glass.

Hot Jobs

Mattel in Frankfurt, Germany has an opportunity for a Marketing Intern – Brand Activation Games to support the company at Essen Internationale Spieltage, test and proofread prototypes, plan advertising, manage social media, and conduct market research.

Wizards of the Coast is recruiting for a Senior Game Designer to join Magic: The Gathering’s R&D team. Requires 3+ years design experience, passion for MtG, ability to lead teams, and familiarity with other CCGs.

Spin Master is looking for someone crafty, outgoing, and comfortable with social media to fill the role of Sand Castle Maker. The position is a 1 year, $50,000 contract to build “imaginative creations” with Kinetic Compounds. Must make at least one video a week, with children.

CENTRA Technology, a consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia (just outside D.C.), has an opening for a Wargame Analyst. The job of the analyst is to organize and implement simulations and exercises involving such topics as space policy, military technology, cybersecurity, and regional affairs.

Goliath Games in Plano, Texas needs a Graphic Designer to design game packaging and layout instruction manuals and game boards. Five or more years of experience is required.

Andromeda Simulations International, which runs board game based training programs on business, finance, and strategy, needs a Marketing Director. The goal is to “focus on solution design and content development,” such as blogging, social media campaigns, email campaigns, and trade shows and conferences.

Cartamundi has a number of openings at its board game manufacturing plant in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Some are shift-based production positions. Others are for IT and logistics.

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D&D’s Tomb of Annihilation

One of the things about Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is it’s a bit difficult to kill off adventurers. And if they do die, it’s somewhat easy to magically bring them back to life. The new adventure storyline, Tomb of Annihilation, looks at that and… makes it not so easy. The storyline kicks off with the discovery of a curse that afflicts people who have been raised from the dead: their bodies slowly deteriorate until they’re virtually corpses once again. All signs point far away from 5e’s Sword Coast setting to the jungle peninsula of Chult, where heroes must brave the uncharted where “a horrifying villain awaits with a familiar visage.”

But we all know it’s Acererak from Tomb of Horrors.

I mean, the name “Tomb of…” echoes the original Tomb of Horrors adventure, the advertising imagery is that green devil face with the Sphere of Annihilation stuck in it, and — let’s be honest — the adventure storylines pull heavily from past edition adventures for inspiration.

Also, he’s right there on the cover.

What’s confusing about this is a 5e-statted Tomb of Horrors was featured in recently-released Tales from the Yawning Portal (review). Will Annihilation contain an Tomb of Horrors-inspired dungeon, like Princes of the Apocalypse contained a re-imagined Temple of Elemental Evil?

What makes this interesting is the way the storyline was announced, via streamed gaming venues on twitch, where the D&D Twitch channel will be previewing “just how deadly the adventure will be” all summer long, starting in July.

Oh, and how easy it is to not die in 5e? Well, death saves will be moved up to DC 15 checks for ‘hard mode’.

Also announced is Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a supplement for the core game with expanded options for players and DMs, including more than 20 new subclases, dozens of spells, and more.

Somewhat related: There’s a D&D themed Betrayal at House on the Hill called Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, available on October 6th for $50.

Tomb of Annihilation will be released in September, in select game stores on the 8th, worldwide on the 19th. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything will be available November 21st, with a special alternative cover edition in game stores on November 10th.

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The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming’s shortlist was announced this afternoon. The nominees are:

  • The Beast, a single-player unsettling erotic game of imagining you are having sex with the Beast by Aleksandra Sontowska and Kamil Węgrzynowicz
  • End of the Line, a LARP set in the World of Darkness’ Vampire setting, a “cross-pollination [of Nordic and traditional LARPing styles] proved rejuvenating for the twenty-five year old system” by Bjarke Pedersen, Juhana Pettersson and Martin Elricsson
  • Gen Con, a gaming convention in its 50th year
  • Gloomhaven, a legacy-style miniature boardgame with roleplaying influences by Issac Chidress
  • The Romance Trilogy, a series of roleplaying games and a freeform LARP by Emily Care Boss
  • Terraforming Mars, a long scope boardgame about making Mars habitable by Jacob Fryxelius

Diana Jones AwardThe award ceremony is considered the unofficial kickoff to Gen Con Indy, with the lucite pyramid trophy handed out during a gaming industry-only event the Wednesday night before Gen Con Indy officially begins. Past winners include Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop web series, Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco roleplaying game, and Donald X. Vaccarino’s Dominion deckbuilding card game

The award, named for the still-readable part of the burnt Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game logo encased in the pyramid, was originally awarded to Peter Adkinson in 2001. The Diana Jones Award trophy is returned each year to the DJA Committee for the next award ceremony. This is the fifteenth year for the award ceremony.

The trophy itself is a lucite pyramid mounted on a wooden base, created to “commemorate the expiration of [TSR UK’s] licence to publish the Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game and the subsequent destruction of all unsold copies of the game.” Within the pyramid are burnt pieces of the last copy of TSR UK’s Indiana Jones RPG logo and game elements, including the infamous Nazi™ cardboard tokens. The DJA site claims the award was liberated from the TSR Hobbies office by “forces unnamed” before winding up in the hands of the Diana Jones Award Committee.

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Scoreboard

Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresTaking home the trophy and a $10,000 prize at the North American School Scrabble Championship was the team of eighth-grader Jem Burch and seventh-grader Zach Ansell, both of Los Angeles. Their final round score was 374-349 on such words as eugenia, infares, entresol, and steeping.

At the Xi’an Cherry Blossom tournament in China, Kaijun Lin solved a 5×5 Rubik’s Cube in a world record 4 minutes, 11.93 seconds. Then 2 weeks later, he broke his own record, solving the 5×5 in 4 minutes, 10.00 seconds.

Fourth-dan Sota Fujii, the youngest ever professional Shogi player, has extended his winning streak to 16 matches.

The final round of the Women’s World Chess Championship saw Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine, GM, 2558) and Tan Zhongyi (China, WGM, 2502) tied 2-2 after four games of classic time controls, and still even after the first rapid tie-break game. Zhongyi, though, won the second and the World Champion title.

Wesley So, now the world’s number 2 ranked Chess player, came in first at the U.S. National Championship but only after facing down Alex Onischuk 1½-½ in a rapid playoff round. In the women’s section, sixth seed Sabina-Francesca Foisor was the winner with an 8-3 score, one point ahead of the 2016 champion.

The German Bundesliga professional Chess league has finished its season with the Baden-Baden team reclaiming the title it had lost last year after 10 previous consecutive wins. In the 4NCL English professional league, team Guilford won for the fifth year in a row.

Keegan “Kelian-05” Tailleur was the winner of the 9th Memoir ’44 French Open, a 2 day tournament with special scenarios based on tanks.

A new world record has been set for most dominoes toppled in a single line: 15,524.

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesA 12 year old girl was ejected from the National Scholastic Chess Championship in Malaysia for wearing a dress whose hemline was above the knee. According to the girl’s Chess coach, an official at the event called her dress “too seductive”. The tournament’s director said that he was not there at the time but that four arbiters, including one woman, together decided that the dress was too revealing when the girl sat down. Since the allegations attracted international attention, the director has promised to sue the coach, as well as the girl’s mother, for defamation. He claims to have evidence that the picture of the dress being publicized by the coach via Facebook is fake. The whole situation is now being investigated by police.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office will not pursue charges against a Muslim televangelist who said that “playing Chess is worse than gambling and eating pork.” The prosecutor’s office refused a complaint from the public and instead sided with the televangelist, asserting that his statements fell within his rights to freedom of thought and expression.

A 1764-rated Chess player from India was expelled from the Dubai Open after an arbiter discovered that he was hiding a mobile phone in his sleeve. The player refused to show the arbiter whether or not the phone was running a Chess program but was still expelled from the tournament because carrying a phone is against the rules.

Thieves broke in to The Realm Games in Mansfield, Ohio early on a Sunday morning and stole about $8,000 worth of merchandise. Most of the value in stolen items came from Magic: The Gathering singles. Surveillance camera footage, however, shows that one of the thieves had no idea what he was doing and grabbed boxes of regular playing cards.

A woman in Japan who also had no idea about the potential value of old Magic: The Gathering cards took the collection her grown son had left at home (which included a Black Lotus) and put them up for sale as a bundle in an online auction. Someone who realized what was going on got word to her son, who was able to stop the sale before the transaction was complete.

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a woman and her boyfriend got in to an argument over a game of Monopoly. He punched her several times and stabbed her with a box cutter. She whacked him in the head with a liquor bottle.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a woman tried to break through her roommate’s door with an ax after an argument over a game of Dominoes.

A game of Dominoes in New Orleans also erupted in an argument, whereupon one of the players went in to his house, retrieved a knife, returned to the game, and stabbed another player.

During a Minnesota House debate of a law that would increase penalties for protesters who block roads, Democratic Minority Leader Melissa Hortman triggered a “call of the House” procedure to force the return of absent lawmakers. “I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room, but I think this is an important debate,” she said.

Gazdálkodj okosan is a Hungarian personal finance board game dating back to 1960. It’s manufacturer never trademarked the game’s name but did register it for copyright. When recently another party attempted to trademark a color logo for that same title, the manufacturer filed an opposition. Both the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office and Metropolitan Tribunal have now rejected the trademark opposition claim, finding that the original name lacked visual distinctiveness, nor was it sufficiently familiar to the public.

Though he only narrowly escaped ouster by the organization’s board a week before, and in the process was stripped of much of his real authority, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov promises to again run for FIDE president in 2018.

The president of the Zimbabwe Chess Federation committed suicide, jumping from the 9th floor of a building while under investigation related to his previous positions in the government.

A magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe board sold at Target has been recalled because if two pieces are swallowed they could clamp together “cause intestinal obstructions, perforations, sepsis and death.”

Upper Deck has applied for a U.S. trademark on the name “Splendor” with regard to trading cards. Can anyone think of an existing card game called “Splendor”?

In order to avoid running afoul of any gambling laws, the recently formed Poker Sports League in India does not require contestants to pay any kind of participation or entry fee or wager any money. It does, however, award cash prizes to winners. Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court is currently in the process of reviewing the status of Poker after an application by the Indian Poker Association, which seeks to halt a government campaign to shut down Poker clubs.

Senior citizens who regularly met at a community center in Richmond, British Columbia were told that their small-stakes wagering on Bridge and Poker (as in about 10¢ a chip) was illegal and would not be allowed to continue. They tried to move their games to the homes of individuals but that hasn’t worked out very well. Also, one of the group, a former police officer, claims that the wagering isn’t illegal as long as the house doesn’t claim a stake.

In Selina, Kansas, a man threatened his Walmart coworkers during an argument over a break-room card game. When he returned to the store 3 days later and threatened them again, they called police, who searched his car and found a handgun.

The robbery at gunpoint of a Jackson, Mississippi dice game resulted in the injury of two players and the death of one of the robbers. A second robber was later arrested, while police are still trying to identify the third.

An argument over a dice game inside a Harker Heights, Texas nightclub led to the shooting deaths of two men. A female suspect identified by eyewitnesses and surveillance video has surrendered to police.

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Spin Master is acquiring Marbles, maker and retailer of “brain-building” games, gifts, and gadgets. Marbles has been undergoing bankruptcy proceedings and the purchase, including proprietary and licensed games, warehoused inventory, and the Marbles name and website, has been approved by the bankruptcy court. Spin Master is not acquiring Marbles’ retail operations.

Announcing the acquisition, Spin Master touted the move as a continuation of its growth in the games category. Previous acquisitions included Cardinal Industries and Editrice Giochi.

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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.”

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