A team from Slovenia won the Red Bull Mind Gamers’ first Escape Room World Championship, which featured some really high-end set design (including a rotating tunnel) and challenges themed around quantum computing. The escape-rooms were designed by Prof. Scott Nicholson and his students at Wilfrid Laurier University. Held this past week in Budapest, the event ran more than 20 international teams through a series of timed challenges, with the top two teams, Slovenia and Ukraine, moving to the finals. There, the teams’ performance on a series of additional challenges—including one that surprised the competitors by needing to be solved cooperatively—determined the difficulty level assigned to them in a final puzzle.
The inaugural season of the PRO Chess League has concluded with the St. Louis Arch Bishops taking the championship title. St. Louis, led by the world’s number 2-ranked player Wesley So, faced in the final match the Norway Gnomes, led by number 1, World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. So also captured the medal for MVP.
Also hailing from St. Louis, the Webster University Chess team won its fifth consecutive President’s Cup Collegiate Chess Tournament in New York City (fondly known as the Chess Final Four). Coach Susan Polgar was quoted as saying, “This was an incredibly hard victory, and the students gave everything they had. The competition on Saturday lasted nearly 13 hours, underscoring the importance of both physical and mental toughness.”
At the Cubing Classic in Melbourne, Australia, Feliks Zemdegs solved a 7×7 Rubik’s Cube in a world record 2 minutes, 18.13 seconds.
A Michigan team by the name of Incredible Science Machine has broken the world record for number of dominoes (76,017) toppled from the center in a circle field. The circle was the final display in a longer domino-toppling series that started with a Rube Goldberg-type trigger and included separate sections dedicated to each of Earth’s continents.
IELLO just shot out a teaser for their new combat game, Arena: For the Gods. The game, premiering at Origins 2017 in June, is an arena combat game with a bidding mechanic that uses life points to purchase better equipment. There’s not a whole lot of information about the game right now, but it will come with a sweet looking King of Tokyo card, too!
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.
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Blue Orange Games is giving away Vikings on Board.
Brilliant PR is giving away a $333-value package of toys and games, which includes Word on the Street Junior and Kanoodle Jr. from Educational Insights.
OffWorld Designs is giving away five pairs of passes to Gen Con, with five pairs of Gen Con t-shirts.
Two deals are currently running at Bundle of Holding. One is for the 2014 edition of Space: 1889 and starts at just $6.95. The other, Designers, Dragons, and More, includes a variety of books about games, as well as a comprehensive series on the history of roleplaying games.
Osprey Publishings’s March Sale is 20% off Men at Arms, Elite, and Warrior series.
The Cardboard Republic is giving away Captain Sonar from Asmodee.
The Board Game Vault is giving away the winner’s choice of Santorini or Attack of the Giants.
Devetos Gaming is giving away a Star Wars Destiny Booster Box (36 booster packs) from Fantasy Flight Games.
Blue Peg, Pink Peg is giving away Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games.
Passport Games is giving away a copy of They Who Were 8 before it’s available in stores.
While there may not be much game to it, I had a lot of fun playing with Educational Insight’s upcoming Smash Pong ($22). It’s got an air-pressure canon, ping pong balls, challenge cards, and a bucket that doubles as target and storage. The canon (excuse me, it’s officially called a launcher) is powered by smashing your fist down on an air bladder. Of course, it’s really meant for much younger kids but that didn’t stop me from having a great time blasting balls across the aisles in to neighboring booths.
Providing more of an intellectually-focused experience but still for younger children, the company has Kanoodle Jr. ($15). It’s a challenge puzzle that like its senior counterpart involves fitting a variety of colored pieces in to a tray-base while matching the partial patterns on hint cards. What makes it more suitable for the junior crowd is its square tray and squared-off pieces.
For the very younger children (ages 2+), there’s Peekaboo Barn ($25). As you can imagine for that age, game play is quite simple. Press the chimney to spin the animals around, grab the closest animal, make its sound, and put it in the barn. If instead of a cow or sheep, it’s a rooster that comes up, the rooster’s cock-a-doodle-doo will wake up the last animal and draw it back out of the barn.
Sunrise Safari ($22) is, like the company’s Even Steven’s Odd, a fast-play dice-matching game. To make it suitable for players as young as 4, though, the matching process is slightly simplified and done with images of animals instead of typical dice with pips.
An introductory strategy game for ages 5+, Royal Roundup ($20) features a board with a bunch of mixed-up interconnecting paths. Each turn, players cross one path and collect a treasure. The idea is to think ahead, selecting the optimal paths for collecting the most high-valued treasures.
Another strategy title, Wiggle Waggle Whiskers ($22) pits cat player versus dog player, with each adding a new fence section every turn, and the first to surround all their cats or dogs being the winner.
Word on the Street ($20), formerly an Out of the Box Publishing game, plays kind of like tug-of-war with letters. Every time a letter shows up in a word used to respond to a question, that letter is pulled toward the answering team’s side of the street. There’s no right or wrong answers, only answers that pull more or better letters. Word on the Street Junior ($20) is exactly the same. It just comes with questions more appropriate for children.
Finally, another word game added to Education Insights’ catalog this year is After Words ($22). It’s one of those where players try to come up with words that begin with a specific letter. When they do, they can toss a matching letter card from their hand—getting rid of all seven is a win. The twist is they also have to match the final letter to the last letter marked on the board.
Recently resurrected under the Winning Moves label are original versions of Game of the States (a 1940 Milton Bradley title) and Cranium Cadoo (2001, last of Hasbro). Game of the States ($20) has players moving their truck pieces around a U.S. map, buying local products in one state, and selling them in another. Cranium Cadoo ($25) poses a variety of different challenges—acting, sculpting, solving puzzles, and more—with winning recorded by getting four-in-a-row across the game board.
For new titles, Winning Moves has two. In Sunk! ($15), players roll a die, dribble drops of water in to a floating bottle cap, and hope it doesn’t sink. They may also have to complete certain challenges, such as dripping the water with their opposite hand. Nibbled ($15) is for children ages 4+ and features a bunch of cute clip-on yellow fish. Players start the game with four fish clipped to their clothes or body and each turn they try to guess the color of the fish on the next card. If they guess correctly, they get to remove the number of fish showing.
Winning Moves also sells Rubik’s Cubes. New for this year are Rubik’s Build It Solve It ($24), a standard 3×3 cube that the customer assembles from parts, and Rubik’s Triamid ($18), which is a puzzle with non-moving parts but still has the goal of making every side a single color.
Beirut, Lebanon has two escape room locations, Exit Beirut and Escape the Room Lebanon, each with two individual rooms to escape. Also recently opened in Beirut is the game, pop-culture, and comic shop, Multiverse.
On Kickstarter, Keiran Franklin is raising money for a game cafe in Brighton City Centre, UK. At 8BitBoards, customers will be able to play both board games and retro console games.
Game Kingdom Games & Hobbies in Bullhead City, Arizona does sell some board games but is primarily a public play space for tabletop and video games.
Milwaukee-area retailer, Board Game Barrister, is opening its fourth location March 1st in the Mayfair mall. It’ll be a relatively small location for the chain but will still have play space.
Opening soon in Rochester, Minnesota with 1,900 square feet of retail and play space is D6 Games.
BlackWater Roasters and Gaming Cafe opened on the east side of Cleveland last week. It serves pastries, sandwiches, fresh roasted coffee, and of course, board games.
After running pop-up shops, convention booths, and special events, B&E Games recently opened a retail location in San Jose, California.
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.
Margaret “Margo” Georgiadis, most recently President, Americas at Google, will become the new CEO of Mattel effective February 8th. She will also join the Board of Directors.
Vacating the CEO position is Christopher Sinclair, who joined Mattel’s board in 1996 and took over the CEO position from Bryan Stockton in 2015. Sinclair is credited with helping turnaround the company, which in recent years lost its #1 position in the industry to Lego and the Disney princess license to Hasbro. He will stay on as Executive Chairman of the Board.
Stockton received good news recently when a Deleware court put an end to a Mattel shareholder suit that sought to force the company to seek the return of $10 million in severance that was paid when the former executive was let go.
In addition to Google, Georgiadis held past positions with Groupon, Discover Financial Services, and McKinsey & Company. Her hiring comes as Mattel puts more effort in to technology-based products, including a 3D printer and a personal assistant appliance.
The Google-sponsored AlphaGo computer program, which had previously defeated world Go champion Lee Sedol, racked up 59 wins playing anonymously online against a variety of masters.
Sergey Karjakin, who had lost the recent World Chess Championship to Magnus Carlsen in tiebreak games, managed to best his rival on tiebreak criteria to claim the top position in the World Blitz Championship. At the same tournament, Vassily Ivanchuk won the World Rapid Championship, while Anna Muzychuk won both rapid and blitz titles in the women’s section.
Wesley So won the London Chess Classic, putting him at the top of the four-stop Grand Chess Tour. His total prize winnings on the Tour: $295,000.
University students in Wageningen, Netherlands created the world’s largest Monopoly board, along with dice and houses all to-scale. Made with the support of Hasbro and certified by Guiness World Records, the board measured 900.228 m² (9,689.97 ft²). The previous record, set in the United States earlier this year, was 744.867 m² (8,017.69 ft²).
It was two Dutchmen who faced off in the World Draughts Championship. Roel Boomstra came away the winner.
Here’s a machine solving a standard 3×3 Rubik’s Cube in 0.637 seconds: