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.


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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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.

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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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Currently on Kickstarter: two review(ish) boardgame shows looking to do awesome stuff in their sixth year. Rahdo Runs Through is looking for funding for a sixth year of production, with most of his $30,000 goal reached. Rahdo’s funding comes through yearly campaigns like this: no YouTube ads are on his channel of gameplay videos. The Secret Cabal, a gaming podcast, looks to expand their offerings to video, additional programming, and more by making co-host Jamie Keagy a full-time media producer for the group. They’ve already hit this goal and offer several promo packs for a variety of games at a $45 pledge level.

I’ve always liked the games with transparent cards (see Gloom and Ren Faire from Atlas Games and Gamewright’s Imagine). XYbird is a monster-makin’ game that uses these cool components. Following your diabolical secret agenda (well, secret “breakthrough” cards), you build monsters from the lab with a combination of the 116 transparent cards to become the most infamous mad… no, genius scientist extraordinaire! The world will be yours! Or at least this cool game will be yours in November, for a $29 pledge.

Now I like the design of the ships in Star Eagles, a miniature spaceship combat game, and at $60 for a physical starter set good for two players, I don’t think the pricing of the game is off. But the lore or setting of the game is an original IP and isn’t spelled out on the campaign page apart from “here are some humans” and “here are the aliens” and “they fight”. The sculpts look great and the game system is said to adapt most small-ship fighting battles, so if you have some Cylon Raiders and Colonial Vipers handy… The pdf of the rules will be available in July along with files for your 3d printer, physical copies are to be available in September.

I have to recommend Lizard People: Lords of the Media for an interesting party game. I’m having a difficult time deciding if I should put it next to the “It’s just like Cards Against Humanity, except _____” graphic, because while it plays like Apples to Apples combined with Texas Hold ‘Em, somehow it looks… good? Like there’s an actual game here and not just like a fresh coat of paint on an already-acclaimed game design?

Here’s the deal: we’re all lizard people and we’re manipulating the media by pitching headlines for articles in the hopes of gaining favor with the editor so he’ll give us a human meat-suit disguise so we can walk among the humans and be One of Them. The editor plays three word cards from their hand (Horse, CEO, Uncovers) then the other players use at least two of those words in combination with their cards to create an article headline (Human CEO Discovers Teen Were- Horse). Editor picks the best, awarding a human body part covering to the winner. A $16 pledge will get you a copy of the game in December.

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