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.


Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresA group of senior high school students at the American British Academy in Muscat set a new record for computer processor built from dominoes. With 15,000 dominoes, they constructed a 5-bit adder that can sum numbers up to 63. [For a fascinating explanation of how this works, I suggest this video from the person who built the 4-bit adder.]

Keisuke Fukuchi of Japan took home the trophy at the World Othello Championship held in Prague, Czech Republic. At 11 years of age, he’s the youngest champion ever in the tournament’s 42 year history. On his flight home via All Nippon Airways, a congratulations was announced by the pilot, Kunihiko Tanida, the previous record holder for youngest Othello champion (which he had held since 1982).

The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis reclaimed the record for the world’s largest Chess piece. It previously held the record with a 14 foot tall king from 2012 to 2014 but was then eclipsed by a school in the town of Kalmthout, Belgium. The new record-making piece is a 20 foot tall black Staunton king with a base of 9 feet 2 inches and a weight of 10,860 pounds. It was hand carved from African Sapele Mahogany.

Magnus Carlsen of Norway successfully defended his World Chess Champion title against Fabiano Caruana of the United States by intentionally playing for a draw in standard time controls and then winning three straight in rapid tie-breaks. At the World Rapid Chess Championship, though, Carlsen tied with three others for second place. The winner in that event was Daniil Dubov of Russia. Following that was the World Blitz Chess Championship, where Carlsen again came out on top.

With a win at the London Chess Classic, Hikaru Nakamura of the United States secured first place in the multi-tournament Grand Chess Tour series.

Among artificial entities, Chess engine Stockfish won both Rapid and Blitz categories of the Chess.com Computer Chess Championship. Houdini came in second in Rapid, where the final match took place over 200 games, and Komodo came in second in Blitz, where the final was 300 games.

Nigel Richards won his fourth World Scrabble Championship with a final game score of 575-452, that achieved with such words as “groutier” (68 points), “zonular” (100 points), and “phenolic” (84 points). His opponent managed “maledict” for 95 points.

A new edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary makes legal play out of “sheeple”, “ew”, “OK”, “yowza”, and “zomboid”. It also adds another q-without-a-u word, “qapik”, a monetary unit from Azerbaijan.

Javier Dominguez of Spain, who last year finished in second place, managed a win in this year’s finals, taking home $100,000 and the trophy for Magic: The Gathering World Champion.

Akiko Yazawa of Japan, cancer survivor, won her second World Backgammon Championship title.

Topping a field of 76 contestants from 46 countries, Quetzal Hernandez of Mexico won the Catan World Championship in Cologne, Germany.

Elena Short of Ukraine finished first in both the women’s classic and women’s blitz sections of the World Championship in Draughts 64.

Wu Yiming, 11 years old, of China became the country’s youngest female professional Go player.

In late December 2017, thirteen year-old Que Jianyu appeared on Chinese television and solved three Rubik’s Cubes while continuously juggling them, and did so in a world record 5 minutes 6.61 seconds. Then in December of this year, he went on Italian television and broke his own record by just over 4 seconds. Between these two events, he also broke speed records for solving three Rubik’s Cubes simultaneously with hands and feet (1 minutes 36.39 seconds) and solving a single Rubik’s cube while hanging upside down (15.84 seconds).

At the Cube for Cambodia event in Melbourne, Australia, Feliks Zemdegs solved a 3×3 Rubik’s Cube in a world record 4.22 seconds.

Max Park of the United States set four new Rubik’s Cube world records. He solved:

Several new world records were set for solving Rubik’s Cubes while blindfolded. At the end of the year, the records stand as follows:

  • 16.55 seconds for 3×3 blindfolded, set by Max Hilliard at the Puget Sound NxNxN in Tacoma, Washington.
  • 1 minute 26.41 seconds for 4×4 blindfolded set by Kaijun Lin at the Please Be Quiet Beijing in Beijing, China.
  • 3 minutes 1.01 seconds for 5×5 blindfolded set by Stanley Chapel‎ at the Shaker Fall in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Grégoire Pfennig of Belfort, France built the largest order working Rubik’s Cube puzzle, 33×33. Imagine how long it would take to solve that!

A group of four in Moscow set a world record for the number of escape rooms attended in 1 day, 22.

At the World Rummikub Championship in Jerusalem, Kohei Numajiri of Japan came in first place, Sasha Erlich of Israel came in second, and Matthijs Delvers of Netherlands third.

Ankush Khandelwal of the U.K. won the Pentamind World Championship, a tournament that consists of matches in Quoridor, 7 Wonders, Acquire, Liar’s Dice, and Chess 960.

Brain Games held its first ICECOOL World Championship event at BaltiCon in Riga, Latvia, where Khanh Hung Dong of Canada took home the trophy and a prize of a weekend for two at Snow Village in Lapland.

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Crowdfunding Highlights

 

How do you like your Pathfinder? The Adventure Omnibus Kickstarter combines every single A, B, and C-series adventure released by Adventureaweek.com (AAW Games) from 2010-2018. And it’s quite extensive, which is to be expected for an eight year omnibus. A-Series dealswith the struggle of nature vs. civilization, with cause and effect as opposed to good and evil having a profound and lasting impact upon the world in which the players exist. The B-series has over 24 adventures designed for use in any campaign setting and a multitude of environments. And finally the C-series involves dungeons and exotic encounters with challenges which are more a battle of cunning and wits than might. You can find the path to adventure (see what i did there?) here.

The thing I love about the next campaign is the warning to not use them as oven mitts. These meeple themed stocking have five days to go as of this post and are set for delivery this year! Do you have a gamer on your Christmas list? (my bad of course you do) You can spread some holiday cheer by chcking out the campaign here.

 

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The card game Uno, along with pinball and the Magic 8 Ball, were Thursday inducted in to the National Toy Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. Selection for the Hall of Fame recognizes toys that have “inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period.”

Uno was invented in 1971 by an Ohio father as a variation on Crazy Eights to play with his family. He financed the initial print run of 5,000 games himself but later sold the rights to International Games, which itself was acquired by Mattel in 1992. Gameplay involves getting rid of one’s cards by matching color, number, or symbol, as well as playing wild cards or cards that affect turn order.

Other toys in the Hall of Fame include Etch A Sketch, jigsaw puzzles, marbles, and last year’s inductees, Clue, the Wiffle Balle, and paper airplanes.

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CMON has announced plans for Night of the Living Dead board games, accessories, and other items, such as figures, coins, and cards. The original 1968 movie is in the public domain but CMON’s products are being produced under license from Living Dead Media and will be approved by the original production company, Image Ten. No release date was mentioned in the announcement, however, the company is labeling Night of the Living Dead “A Zombicide Game.”

Directed by George Romero, Night of the Living Dead is credited with spawning the zombie genre.

CMON has also announced the opening of an office in Los Angeles. The new office, led by Geoff Skinner, will focus on relationships with television, film, and electronic game companies.

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Young Inventor Challenge 2018 Deadline

For the 12th year the Chicago Toy and Game Show (ChiTag) is hosting the young inventor challenge.

The Young Inventor Challenge provides an opportunity for children ages 6 to 18 to showcase their own original toy & game inventions to toy & game industry professionals, members of media and the general public and ignite their imagination, creativity and presentation skills.

The judging is split into two categories, Junior (6-10) and Senior (11-18). There is a $15 requested donation to help cover administrative costs when you participate in the Young Inventor Challenge. Anyone can participate, and you do not need to attend ChiTag. Participants and their immediate families however are invited to be guests to the Fair with complimentary admission to ChiTAG for the whole weekend should they decide to come.

The Young Inventor Challenge can provide a means of taking the inventions to even greater heights, with professional critiques from industry experts and the opportunity to show their work off to the public, toy industry, and members of the press.

Do you know someone who has been sitting on an idea and want to get it out there and show the world? This their chance.

DEADLINE TO ENTER IS OCTOBER 31, 2018! ALL ENTRY MATERIALS MUST BE RECEIVED BY NOVEMBER 2, 2018!

 

You can find out more information here.

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Crowdfunding Highlights

BattleCON: Unleashed – The Ultimate BattleCON edition has less than two weeks to go. Just a quick recap, BattleCON is a head to head card game for two players, based loosely around the mechanics and tactics present in 2D fighting games. In BattleCON, players choose characters with unique abilities and powers to test against one another in a battle of tactics, strategy, and intuition. When I think about Kickstarter Level 99 Games is one of the first companies to come to mind. Since 2011 BattleCON and all subsequent expansions (and other L99 games) have been successfully funded, and now comes the big kahuna. Maybe you want to see what all the hype is about and want to start with a couple of characters in the online game? Or you want to grab the newest physical version wanderers? Or perhaps your an experienced BattleCON player looking to obtain some promos and the enormous storage box. This campaign has a little something for everyone.

And now let’s switch gears, from a KS veteran to a newcomer. Wardens is a 1 to 4 player, post-apocalyptic adventure set in a Lovecraftian steampunk universe. Play as Cthulhu and his legion of Starspawn and spread madness over what is left of humanity, or play as the Wardens team as they face an epic, final journey across a ravished world. Wardens can be played 1 VS all, Solo and Co-Op. A bunch of games let you summon Cthulhu, but this game enables you to be Cthulhu (An 81mm Cthulhu no less).  Minis and, Metal coins, awesome art (including a creepy looking Mjolnir card). This, not just another churned out Lovecraft game, playtested at length for your madness… err pleasure, you can find the campaign here.

 

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Crowdfunding Highlights

Deus lo Vult is a board game for two to four treacherous and greedy marauders and murderers. Based on opulent European manuscripts of the 12th to 15th centuries, the game draws heavily on the military games played by the medieval aristocracy all over the world: shogi, xiangqi, chaturanga, and backgammon. You control an army of crusaders trying to loot as much treasure from the Holy Land as possible. At the same time, you hinder the progress of other players using the mutually shared army of the Saracens. God is watching the Crusades closely and often intervenes with Divine Will events that you may use to your advantage. I give the designers a lot of credit. It is not easy to approach a game where religion is involved. Get invading while it’s hot, only three days to go on this one at the time of this post. You can find it here.

 

Since I heart Japan, our next stop takes us to the RPG world of Oddity high.

Oddity High is a tabletop RPG about the life of a Japanese high school student – one who’s also got one foot firmly in the bizarre. It’s influenced from the ground up by anime, manga, and video games that take the life of a high schooler and drive it off the deep end: Haruhi Suzumiya, the Persona games, Hatoful Boyfriend, and many more. You’re a high school student that’s probably nowhere close to being ordinary. Whether you’re dealing with aliens, psychics, ghosts, demons, eldritch gods or sentient cats is up to you – but whatever it is, you’re in the thick of it. Fortunately, by happenstance or by design, you’ve got a gang of like-minded, equally-abnormal friends at your side – and with their help, you’ve got a fighting chance at surviving it. Just don’t forget that you’re also going to need to survive high school, as well. Oddity High is powered by the Apocalypse Engine, the system used by legendary and award-winning games such as Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, The Sprawl, Urban Shadows, Fellowship, and many, many more. It has 11 days to go and has already doubled its funding goal. If you back this project, just don’t pick vanilla.

The final project this week could use a little love if it’s going to make it. Dreeples are dragon meeples, and I think they look great! I think of the pictures shown their most practical use would be for Tsuro, but I do enjoy the picture of using them as replacements in monopoly. This campaign is also for an original a game called dreeple wars if your looking for a little more damage to inflict. The dragons are set to ship and burn villages near and far in December. 22 days to go in the current campaign.

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Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.“Thomas, would you like to review Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition?” they asked. Would I? I mean, I’ve never played Vampire before. I’ve heard things about it, sure, but played this game that’s been around for over 25 years, a game that changed rpgs, bringing in a new wave of gamers to the hobby? I haven’t. Friends have played it. I’ve seen Kindred: the Embraced. I’ve attempted to play the Jyhad CCG. I’ve thumbed though a few titles in the line over the years such as Hunter: the Vigil, Changeling: the Lost, and Wraith: the Oblivion. I’ve heard of years and years of world building, metaplot, and lore so thick White Wolf killed the line at least once to make it easier for new players to join in.

So yeah, let’s take this new edition from the position of a completely new player to the World of Darkness. I don’t have many assumptions about the setting or the game apart from you probably start a campaign with a scene as you, a mortal, before becoming a vampire; there are vampires from different bloodlines secretly running things; and there’s an official LARP that is simultaneously awesome and universally hated with a passion that burns like the sun.

I’m also eternally unclear about the differences between White Wolf, CCP Games, Paradox, and Onyx Path, but that’s something else. (This version is created by White Wolf, has graphic design by Free League, and is distributed by Modiphius. Disclaimer: Modiphus is a graphic design/layout client of mine.)

So. What does Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition (V5) look like to a first-time player?

Thick. There book is 406 pages long. Do I have to read all of that to play? Open book, Thomas. Dive in.

The art style of the book is centered around the use of digitally-manipulated photographs, which is… interesting. There are stock photo resources used here and original photographic assets, which is a technique I’ve seen (and used – I do layout and graphic design for other RPGs) in other horror role-playing games set in urban settings during contemporary times. (Chill and Unknown Armies are two I’ve worked on that use this technique, so to me, it doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary.) The layout is easy to read with a two- or three-column layout per page with plenty of whitespace and room for the copy to breathe. It’s light and open and suddenly those 400+ pages don’t seem like much of a threat.

We open with twenty-eight pages of in-world fiction presented as a collection of papers, screenshots on phones, and the like, collaged as if the reader is going through a stack of papers on someone’s desk. It’s very… clean? I recall in earlier editions of World of Darkness games, the front chapters were filled with hard-to-read in-world fiction, scribbles on notebook paper. Here, this serves to be an introduction to what vampires are in the game, that there’s a “masquerade violation” that’s got to be dealt with violently, and what clans are.

Oh, an early example of play before concepts are introduced. This is done rather well. It’s one of the best example of plays I’ve seen. A concept is introduced with a page reference to later in the book. We’re not just reading from a script like so many other games’ examples of play – we have a bit with dialogue, a summary of what’s going on, some decision points our game’s Storyteller is doing, a look at some of the mechanics, and a definite feel of how the game designers believe Vampire is to be run. Here’s a thing: players are adding world-building elements.

Onward: lots of quick overviews of clans and larger groups/movements. Rules seem simple: stat + skill to get a dice pool of ten-sided dice, 6s or higher are successes. Pairs of 10s are even bigger successes: 10s alone aren’t awesome, buckets of them are. You’re rolling against a target number; if you fail you don’t do the thing unless you want to, as long as something bad happens. Perhaps you took damage. Perhaps you were caught on a CCTV camera. Perhaps you didn’t notice you dropped your cellphone right there.

Combat in roleplaying games can take a long time to slog through. Vampire “strongly recommends” that you take no more than three turns to resolve an ongoing conflict. “Too much dice rolling slows down the drama and becomes harder and harder to describe creatively.” There’s an emphasis on getting more story in a game of Vampire than a second-by-second recording of blows and the whittling down of health stats. (Besides, there are plenty of other games for that.)

One third of the way through and it doesn’t feel like the size of the book is imposing. Continue through character creation and we see we’re using relationship maps, so yes, more emphasis on all the players helping to create the world you’re playing in. You should create your characters together, because that’s group play. First, create yourself as a human.

“And then, some monster kills you.”

That sentence is written in red with a lot of space above it and a lot of space below it. Yes, the game earlier did state that you’re not playing good guys in this game, but here, some monster kills you and now you’re going to play a monster.

Halfway through the book and we’re looking at life as a vampire and all the horrible things you must deal with: hunger, power, and your own humanity. A slew of optional rules come in (just in case you do want a blow-by-blow health attrition fight), and then we’re at Cities. Here’s how cities work. Here’s how domains work. Here’s several hunting grounds you might find. Here’s how to make your city into a city run by vampires.

We’re very close to the end of the book. There’s a whole section of Storyteller advice on how to run a game of Vampire. There’s a sample chronicle (campaign setting/storyline). A packet of opponents that might be thrown against your coterie of vampires. And we’re out.

All that lore, all that heavy weight of the past twenty-seven years of canon and metaplot? It’s not here. Just the basics of being vampires. Not a whiff of Werewolves, Hunters, Changelings, Mages, Mummys, or Wraiths. It feels like I, someone who knows nothing about the history of this game, could jump in and start playing a game where we’re all vampires.

So. For a gamer who hasn’t played Vampire, this looks… rather easy to get into.

A pre-release pdf copy of Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition was provided free for review by White Wolf.

 

 

 

Puzzling Pixel Games have currently funded for their debut game The Abandons. Created by Michael Blascoe this solo game centers around a voice inside your head, calling you to go, to the abandons. In The Abandons, you start at the entrance to the abandoned, yet living labyrinth and hope to make it to the final card, the exit, by drawing a card each turn and navigating your way to the end, the exit. Along the way, you may encounter surprises or items to help you. What will you find there? Will you find peace and silence the voices inside your head? or will you spend your last days trapped? The game is $13 and is scheduled to ship May 2018. Soloists can check it out here.

Next up, as if it was raised from the bottom of the murky water from years of slumber is a reprint of Dragon Dice – Swamp Stalkers. Dragon Dice is a collectible dice game for 2 or more players. Originally made famous in 1995 by TSR, Dragon Dice has continued to expand and evolve under the reign of SFR inc. Players use colorful dice to represent armies of different fantasy races which battle to control essential terrain in this fast-rolling game. The first player to capture two terrains immediately wins the game. A total of 40 dice, two playmats and a copy of the 2-player starter set is $35. So begin your adventure. Shipping is scheduled for August 2019.

For the wargamer, I wanted to showcase this game I ran across. Glory Recalled: Hong Kong 1941 is a board wargame based on the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941. This is a unique choice for a military game for sure. Created by David Cheng. In his Kickstarter bio, David says “we can do something to recall people’s attention to this precious history and commemorate the forgotten heroes who sacrificed their lives for Hong Kong.” The game uses a semi card-driven system. Players take turns to play cards from their hands to activate a formation of units on the map. Cards may also be used to provide combat support like artillery and air support or for rallying disrupted units. There are also historical and what-if event cards which add replay value to the game. The game will run you approximately $41 The campaign ends August 14th with a shipping date of December 2018. Your defense starts here.

And last but not least, it’s Trogdor!! The Board Game. Now full disclosure I am a massive fan of Homestar Runner, the online webcomic the character Trogdor comes from. To give you a little history, Trogdor was a man, he was a, a dragon man! For centuries, the legendary wingaling dragon Trogdor the Burninator has terrorized the peasant kingdom of Peasantry with his scorching flames and greased-up beefy arm. Now, he has descended from the mountains once again and will not stop until he burninates the entire countryside and all those unfortunate enough to get in his way! Your goal is to burn everything in Trogdors path. Some people shockingly are not good with this in the village and will be trying to stop you (BOOOO!) This co-op game is very true to the spirit of the character and has rocketed past it’s stretch goal of $75,000 (at the time of this article it has raised 10 times that amount). $40 gets you the version with wooden minis and $60 gets you the wooden mins + plastic minis. What are you waiting for? get Burninating!

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August will see the retail release of the Lego Ninjago Stormbringer set, a robot dragon programmable with Lego’s Boost system. Suggested retail price is just $40.

Boost is an icon-based programming system designed for builders as young as seven. Programming takes place entirely in a mobile app environment.

Stormbringer can walk, move its head, roar, and shoot bolts from its mouth.

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