The Creativity Hub, the Irish firm responsible for publishing Rory’s Story Cubes and The Extraordinaires Design Studio is shifting focus from the educational market exclusively to tabletop games. With that comes a new name, Hub Games.

What the company will keep doing, however, is producing products with a unique sensibility.

Hub Games aims to publish games that foster discussion between players at the table and beyond; games with heart. By encouraging self-expression through play and having gamers reflect on the choices they make, Hub Games looks to push past the idea of games being simple entertainment.

Its two latest releases are Blank and Untold: Adventures Await. Blank is a card game reminiscent of Uno, except that the cards and game rules are modified by the players with each play. Thus, over time each card deck becomes a reflection of the people who’ve played with it. Untold: Adventures Await is a storytelling game, a kind-of cooperative RPG in which participants describe a series of adventures using Rory’s Story Cubes in a structure of scenes, episodes, and seasons.

The rights to Rory’s Story Cubes were sold by the company last year to Asmodee.

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Gloomhaven, Retail, Quick!

Gloomhaven, big-boxed, thick with theme, and standing tall from taking over the top rating spot on BoardGameGeek, is now available at retail. At least that’s the official word. In actuality, many retailers sold out their commitments through preorders. But for those late to the excitement, go ahead and check your local store. If they don’t have one, you can still find Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games at Amazon for around $250.

 

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It’s Rambo. It’ll have miniatures. For many people, that nostalgic excitement will be enough. Frankly, that was all I needed to volunteer for this preview. But the question, of course, is will the final Rambo: The Board Game product live up to the expectations of potential backers?

I, at least, expected a miniatures combat game. And while fighting is certainly the focus of the game’s mechanics, I was pleasantly surprised to find it more a cooperative adventure game. In fact, the highlight for me was how well the game differentiates and personalizes the individual characters—including Rambo himself—which players adopt to complete various missions. Successfully achieving objectives is not just a matter of plunging forward shooting at enemy soldiers. Instead, it requires players to coordinate and make use of their heroes’ unique talents.

Another nice aspect of the game is the scenarios, which not only advance the story but also provide players further development for their selected characters. As each scenario is completed, the players are afforded additional choices of gear and tactics.

In terms of gameplay, I particularly appreciated the individual “alert meters” and other features that focus players on keeping their heroes hidden from the enemy while moving about the board. Also special is the more cinematic approach that the game takes to combat. There are no dice or other random factors. If someone shoots, they hit.

Finally, though Rambo: The Board Game requires players to track a fair amount of detail among character skills, stances, tactics, and gear, plus a variety of enemy units, each type with its own programmed battlefield actions, the structure of the game and most of the rules are pretty straightforward. I rarely play this kind of game, yet one quick read through the rulebook was all I needed.

Still, my generally positive experience with Rambo: The Board Game comes with a significant caveat. The game I played was a prototype. Though I’ve seen much worse even in published games, the rules to this one are still rough around the edges. Some ambiguities and language issues remain. The graphics and design will improve, I’d hope. More scenarios should be added (the prototype only had three). And instead of standees, there are supposed to be plastic miniatures in the production box. The number and quality of those, I expect will be a significant factor for potential backers.

Rambo: The Board Game from Everything Epic Games launches on Kickstarter January 23rd.

A complimentary partial prototype of Rambo: The Board Game was provided by Everything Epic Games for review.

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Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesDriveThruRPG is running a New Year, New Game Sale, with discounts on over 5,000 items.

Steve Jackson Games is previewing cards for the upcoming Munchkin CCG, opening booster packs on video and then giving them away.

Toys “R” Us in the U.K. is closing stores, which is sad, but no sense in wasting a good closing-down sale.

Used game trader Cheap Cheap Games wants feedback on its website and service. Complete the company’s survey to get $5 in store credit and possibly $150 more.

At Amazon:

The Cape Cod Times is giving away a game. I’m not sure which but you can enter the giveaway by email or old-fashioned postal delivery.

Think Geek is holding a major sale on board games. Some are even 50% off.

Passport Game Studios is giving away an unspecified game from its back catalog. To enter via Facebook, comment with your favorite game night snack food.

Renegade Game Studios is giving away Castell.

At Bundle of Holding, the Hellfrost Essentials deal includes the Savage Worlds setting’s core books and the Hellfrost Atlas deal adds more recent supplements. There’s also a deal for Car Wars, the autoduel board game from Steve Jackson Games.

Complete ThinkFun’s customer survey to be entered in the company’s monthly game giveaway.

Subscribe to The Bridge World magazine and get a free book, Playing Suit Combinations.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Montana from White Goblin Games and Warriors of Jogu: Feint from Monsoon Publishing.

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World War Tesla

World War Tesla is a new alternate-history miniatures war game from Fat Dragon Games. Designed by James Ward and Thomas Tullis, the game presumes a world in which Nikola Tesla’s concepts for death rays and force fields have made a real impact on a world at war.

Giant walking tanks, soldiers with rocket-packs, and flying machines armed with death rays rule the battlefield!

The game is also 3D print-and-play. That is, buy the rules and models just once ($20), print figures as much as you want. Along with the rule book are included STL files for 15mm scale troops, vehicles, markers, template, and terrain.

Hasbro Takes on Board Game Cheats

According to Hasbro, in a recent survey of 2,000 people, almost half reported incidents of cheating during games of Monopoly. So to combat this problem, the company has launched the Monopoly CheatBot on Facebook Messenger. Answer a few questions about the problem player and how they cheated and Mr. Monopoly will generate a penalty card. For example, a player who steals from the bank may be sent to the Monopoly jail or someone who fails to pay rent will have to pay a $200 fine.

Cute. But Purple Pawn’s recommendation on how to deal with cheaters is simply not to play with them.

DropMix Country

The DropMix music-mixing audio card game was on display Tuesday at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas), where Hasbro and Harmonix partner NXP Semiconductors is hoping the demonstration will inspire additional uses of its near field communications technology in “areas like consumer engagement in smart toys, smart clothing, smart packages and more.” Fans of the game attending CES will be happy to note that the convention-exclusive Transformers DropMix cards are also being distributed at NXP’s booth (CP-25).

Shipping February 1st is the next DropMix expansion, the Country “Lucky” Playlist Pack, which includes 15 DropMix cards and one hidden track card. with music from Big & Rich, Carrie Underwood, Poison, Sam Hunt, and the Zac Brown Band.

For those interested but previously put off by the game’s full retail price, Amazon is currently offering DropMix at a 50% discount.

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Pitch Your Game to Target

Game and toy inventors hoping to see their design on the shelves of a major retailer have a unique opportunity over the next month with Target. The company has launched what it’s calling the Target Open Innovation Project and is taking applications for direct meetings at New York Toy Fair in February.

We want early access to inventors and companies with fresh ideas and in exchange, will offer the opportunity to pitch your idea to a panel of Target Toy buyers and get feedback from experts in Mass Retail. We intend for these meetings to produce a meaningful pipeline of innovation for our Toy Assortment.

Initial applications are due January 17th and require information on the product’s target audience and how it differs from current products. Also asked is whether the inventor has performed any market studies, patent searches, or cost analysis.

Target is looking for products in the following categories: games, dolls, activity sets, pre-school toys, and imaginative play.

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Scoreboard

Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresOpen source Chess engine Stockfish won Chess.com’s Computer Chess Championship, clearly leading the 10-engine, 90-game round-robin and then edging out runner-up Houdini in a superfinal that included 20 rapid, blitz, and bullet games.

Stockfish, though, may be on the way out as grand computer Chess champion. AlphaZero, an algorithm developed by Google’s DeepMind subsidiary, with nothing more than the basic rules to get started, taught itself Chess well enough in 4 hours to beat Stockfish handily over a 100 game series with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses. Though some questions remain about the conditions of the contest, AlphaZero’s play was amazing not only for its performance but also for its style.

Artist Ara Ghazaryan of Los Angeles has assembled the world’s smallest handmade Chess set with a board measuring 15.3 x 15.3 mm and a king piece standing 4.8 mm tall. Ghazaryan used Brazilian cherry wood, 18 kt. yellow and white gold, and diamonds in building the set.

The current general World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, won the World Blitz Chess Championship. The previous World Champion, Viswanathan Anand, however, demonstrated that he still retains the competitive spirit, taking home the trophy of the World Rapid Chess Championship.

Kacper Piorun of Poland won the World Chess Solving Championship for the fourth year in a row. The Solving Championship presents competitors with a variety of Chess-game puzzles, such as how to guarantee White a mate in a limited number of moves. There are also helpmate challenges, which require figuring both Black and White-side moves to arrive at mate in a set number of turns, and selfmate challenges, a kind-of suicide puzzle, where the goal is to move White such that it forces Black to mate.

At a Rubik’s Cube event in Chicago, Seung Beom Cho solved the 3×3 puzzle in a world-record 4.59 seconds. At an event in Plano, Texas, Max Hilliard did it blindfolded in 17.87 seconds (also a world record).

Carter Pfeifer Mattig of Chicago won the Merit Open International Backgammon Championship in North Cyprus, taking home a prize of €77,600.

In Sulaymaniyah, in Iraqi Kurdistan, two brothers played Backgammon several thousand feet in the sky, while paragliding.

Eight year-old Zack Barnett, the youngest player ever to do so, won the title of Top Trumps Champion.

There was a Klask World Championship (the first) in Copenhagen. The winner was Kevin Reder of Michigan.

A Pandemic Survival World Championship was held in Amsterdam, where the team of Sébastien Roy and Sébastien MacKenzie Faucher from Canada were declared the winners. Pandemic Survival is a scenario-based version of the game and the tournament rules limit player turns to one minute.

David Eldar of London claimed the top trophy and a £7,000 prize at the World Scrabble Championship in Nottingham, U.K., finishing 3-0 in the best-of-five final series. His last play was the word “carrels”.

Marty Gabriel of Charleston and Scott Garner of Memphis received recognition from Guinness World Records for the highest Scrabble score in 24 hours (two players). Over the course of 240 games (averaging just under 6 minutes per game), the pair scored a total of 216,439 points. As soon as each game was finished, assistants removed the just-played board for documentation and provided the pair a new board already set up for play.

A team in Michigan toppled 245,732 dominoes in a setup that paid homage to various board games. The project also broke the U.S. domino records: largest domino field, largest domino structure, and largest overall domino project.

In Germany, Sinners Domino Entertainment broke the world record for most dominoes toppled underwater, 11,466.

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Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesCMON is giving away two 3-day passes to the CMON Expo (May 11-13 in Atlanta). To enter, post your New Year gaming resolution to CMON’s Facebook page, but do it by tomorrow.

Save 20% on Geeknson game tables through the end of the month.

Also through the end of the month, Rogue Genius Games is offering a bundle of all the company’s Pathfinder RPG ebook products for $29.87, a discount of 98%.

Renegade Game Studios is giving away a prize package that include every game and expansion in its North Sea series. That’s six boxes in all.

Save 20% on all purchases through the 12th in Victory Point Games’ New Year’s Sale. Save an additional 10% on Gem Rush and High Treason.

Featuring the first edition World of Darkness is Bundle of Holding’s Chronicles of Darkness offering, now $28 for the rulebook and eight supplements (maybe more).

Coupon code “holiday2017” will get you 30% off orders placed before the 31st from the Jon Brazer Enterprises Shop.

Save 18% on orders from Mayday Games with discount code “welcome2018” but only until 11:59 MT tonight.

Compass Games is holding a Holiday Sale. Preorders and recent releases are 25-30% off. Select other games are 40% off through the 15th with coupon code “HOLIDAY17”.

Flying Pig Games’ Post-Holiday Sale means 30% off for Old School Tactical Volume I, ’65 Squad-level Combat, and Night of Man.

Buy two card sets from Strat-O-Matic, get one free.

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