Jack the Ripper

Renegade Game Studios’ Lotus Hitting Shelves Soon


Lotus is a beautiful looking game coming out soon from Renegade Game Studios. Brick and Mortar stores should have this on shelves by September 21st, with online retailers getting it a week later.

In the game you’re building flowers petal by petal using a unique card-laying mechanic. You’ll also need to control the most of these flowers using insects and special powers.


Lotus is for 2-4 players ages 8+, and should play in 20-40 minutes. It’ll retail for $30. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this one, as it looks like something my whole family would enjoy.

pokemon_logoThe 2016 Pokémon World Championships will be hosted in San Francisco from August 19-21. The event will be closed to the general public since the response from invited players was so positive, but they will be shown live at  www.pokemon.com/live. Competitors from over 30 countries will be in attendance, and hundreds of players will be competing to become the Pokémon World Champion and for a piece of a combined prize pool of more than $500,000 in scholarships and travel awards.

Coverage schedule is as follows:

Twitch.tv/Pokemon – General Event Coverage

  • Friday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Finals Coverage for Pokémon TCG and Video Game)

Twitch.tv/PokemonVGC – Pokémon Video Game Championships

  • Friday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Twitch.tv/PokemonTCG – Pokémon TCG Championships

  • Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Twitch.tv/Pokkentournament – Pokkén Tournament Championships

  • Friday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (Last Chance Qualifiers coverage)
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Second Look—ZIPANG -Portable-

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.ZIPANG -Portable- is a quick little card game by Engine ID that’ll be hitting Kickstarter soon. It’s a precursor to a larger board game currently being developed by the company. It’s actually available now via The Game Crafter for those who want an early look at the game, similar to the experience I had with it.

ZIPANG plays a bit like Love Letter. There’s only a few cards, each of which has a special power. Unlike Love Letter, you can attack your fellow players to knock them out of a round. Of course there’s ways for them to defend themselves. The goal in the end is to have the most Mangoku Coins at the end of the game, which ends when one player is completely out of the coins.

e2e4c5e3c362f0dcae08d1eede05358e840371cfYou can see the full rules of the game here. These are the latest rules sent to me by the designer, but they are still a work in progress.

Gameplay is clever, the artwork is colorful and enthralling. There’s plenty of great card combos here, and lots of tough choices to make during play. Do you attack with a high powered card, or save that card in your hand to work as your defense? Do you play a great special power, or keep that card because it’s high Honor value might win you the round if the Emperor is played?

You can snag the early-release version of ZIPANG from The Game Crafter for $24. If you want to wait for the Kickstarter, a pledge of $19 will get you a copy of the game if the project is funded. If you want to go the print-and-play route there will also be a $5 pledge-level for that.

The kids and I really enjoyed this one. It’s quick, easy to learn, and has enough strategy to keep us coming back from more. I initially didn’t know what to expect from this one, and was pleasantly surprised with how good it really is.

A copy of ZIPANG -Portable- was provided free for review by Engine ID.

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesAfter a 51 year-old Welshpool, U.K. man was accused by his sister of stealing pieces from her Frustration board game, he followed her back to her home and pushed her against the wall. Then when confronted about the incident by his nephew, he punched him in the face. A local magistrate fined the man £635 and issued a restraining order.

Two people were arrested on drug smuggling charges in Northern Ireland after trying to pick up a children’s board game shipped via UPS from Canada that was stuffed with marijuana. Police say evidence leads them to suspect there were other such packages. They did not, however, name the game.

A group of four was photographed playing Mahjong around a table they set up in an MTR train in Hong Kong. However, by the time staff went to investigate, the game was gone.

Swiss Chess player, Yannick Pelletier, was initially refused a visa to attend the World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan because of earlier travel to Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenia. After signing a letter stating that the visit was a mistake and promising not to go back, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs relented and granted him that visa.

House-banked gambling on card games is illegal in California, except at tribal casinos. More than 70 non-tribal card rooms continue in business, though, operating under a 2007 letter from the former chief of the Bureau of Gambling Control, Robert Lytle, which declared that as long as the role of dealer was offered to to the whole table every second hand, the game would not be considered illegal even if all the players declined. (When everyone declines, as they usually do, the role of bank is given to a licensed and contracted dealer-of-last-resort. And in any case, the host card room makes money by charging a fee for each hand played.) Lytle left the Bureau, however, shortly after issuing that letter and went to work as a card room consultant. And just recently he settled a complaint that he illegally received information from inside the Bureau on an investigation involving one of his clients. So now, nearly 10 years later, the Bureau is rescinding his letter but has determined that it is OK for the card rooms to reopen the bank position only every 60 minutes, under the condition that if someone new doesn’t assume the role of dealer, the game takes a break for 2 minutes. Card room operators are concerned about what this break will do to their profitability. Tribal casino operators claim that one person acting as dealer for 60 minutes does not meet the statutory requirement that the position be “continuously and systematically rotated amongst each of the participants during the play of the game.”

Similar issues continue to be debated in Florida, where an administrative law judge found that a Jacksonville poker room’s contract with a specific player to act as bank effectively results in a house-banked game.

The former chairman of the Irish Chess Union (ICU) is suing the organization for defamation. At issue is an ICU blog post commenting on his job as an arbiter at a Chess tournament.

An Information Technology Agreement negotiated by members of the World Trade Organization eliminates tariffs on electronic products, including video games and games “operated by coins, banknotes, bank cards, token, or by any other means of payment.”

Steven Russell, CEO of Rite Publishing, was killed in an automobile accident.

In a concurrence on a case involving the regulation of mobile billboards, federal circuit court judge John Owens explained his problem with the controlling Supreme Court precedent by referencing a Monopoly board. He took issue with the fact that while a Los Angeles city ordinance prohibits mobile billboards, cars with equally ugly decals would not “go to jail” but would rather “treat my curb like the upper left corner of a Monopoly board” (a reference, I believe, to the Free Parking space).

New Jersey state Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli introduced legislation that would require school districts to offer varsity letters for all competitive extracurricular activities, such as participating on Chess teams, not just for sports.

Seven people were arrested on gun and drug charges after neighbors complained about a street dice game in Flint, Michigan. Patrolling detectives found “validated gang members” playing a street dice game in Richmond, California. They stopped, broke up the game, and ended up arresting one on gun, drug, and probation violation charges. Police arrested three for illegal gambling after breaking up a dice game in Monroe, Ohio.

Shooting broke out at a dice game in Dallas. Two people were wounded. Both are expected to recover. No arrests were made.

Two men in Washington, D.C. were shot (one of them died) when another two attempted to rob the formers’ street dice game at gunpoint. The assailants have both been arrested and are being charged with first-degree felony murder.

A former Director of Transportation for Toys “R” Us has pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.9 million from the company.

Gen Con 2016 logoIello’s latest is Sea of Clouds ($30, now), a set collecting card game in which the players are sky pirates gathering treasures, artifacts, and rum. They can also pick up pirate cards, which help them in combat against their neighbors. To collect the cards, players go through a type of draft, each on their turn looking at a stack and then deciding whether to keep it or add another card at random from the draw pile and move on to the next.

Shipping to retail later this month are Schotten Totten ($15) and Oceanos ($40). The former is a reprint of a well-known Reiner Knizia title (also published as Battle Line) but is new to Iello. The latter was designed by Antoine Bauza and has players collecting animals and treasures from the ocean in submarines that they can upgrade with better propellers, periscopes, fish tanks, and other features.

Looking further out, Iello has planned for September Aladdin & the Magic Lamp ($25), the next in its Tales & Games series. Game-play for this 20 minute, 2-5 player title incorporates set collection and secret action selection.

October will see release of Around the World in 80 Days in a beautiful gilt slip-case. I didn’t catch much about game-play, other than it’s for 2-6 players and takes about 45 minutes.

Then in November, Iello delivers The Mysterious Forest, a cooperative memory game based on the Wormworld Saga web comic.

And sometime later comes Farm Friends, an expansion for Happy Pigs with blocky cows, sheep, and chickens; Bunny Kingdom, a card drafting, area control game by Richard Garfield; and a Cthulhu Monster Pack for King of Tokyo.

Gen Con 2016—Blood & Plunder

Gen Con 2016 logoA miniatures game debuting at Gen Con was Blood & Plunder from Firelock Games. One of the nice things about this one is it’s a pirate game in a historical setting. No skeletons, sea monsters, or voodoo magic. Also, the game mechanics are relatively simple, but cover both hand-to-hand and ship-to-ship combat.

Firelock GamesFirelock is launching Blood & Plunder in to retail with starter armies representing a variety of nationalities at $55 each. Ship models, which can carry pirate figures for boarding actions, are generic in design but available in four sizes: longboats for $12, sloops for $40, brigantines for $65, and frigates for $90.

Firelock plans additional factions in the near future and is also contemplating expanding in to earlier and later time periods.



Rebel Minis Launches Iron Keep Press Imprint

Iron Keep PressIron Keep Press is the new publishing division of Rebel Minis, setup thanks to the success of their current line of rulebooks.  The current lines, Mighty Armies (Fantasy) and Red Ops 5 (Modern Horror) are based on miniatures they currently sell. Iron Keep Press will focus on rulesets for existing miniatures, but also ones that are stand alone in many different periods. All rulesets will be offered in print and PDF. Purchasing a print option will also entitle you to the PDF.

The first four releases will be: And a Bottle of Rum (Pirates), Colonial Adventures (Pulp), By Savvy and Steel (17th century Musketeers), and Joust (Medieval). Rebel Minis will also be releasing starter sets and boxed sets of minis for the titles that line up with their current miniature releases.

Gen Con 2016 logo Announced at Gen Con, Fantasy Flight Games is entering the fantasy miniatures category with a game set in the same universe as its Runebound series. Scheduled for release in early 2017, the RuneWars Miniatures Game employs a rules system inspired by X-Wing, with template-based movement (instead of rulers) and command dials for ordering units.

RuneWars Miniatures GameRuneWars miniatures will ship unpainted, though FFG is working with The Army Painter to develop matching paint sets.

FFG also promised organized play support for the game.




Gen Con 2016 logoDid Gen Con Indy seem even more crowded this year? That’s because of the turnstile attendance, which measures the number of people attending the show each day. The 2015 show had 197,605 admissions throughout the show; this year the numbers increased about 2.5% to 201,852. However, the unique attendance numbers were slightly down — instead of 61,423 people attending last year, Gen Con 2016 had 604 fewer people attend. Of the 60,819 attendees, a slightly larger percentage of them purchased full 4-Day passes than in the previous year.

Leonard Hoops — the head of Visit Indy, the city of Indianapolis’ tourism board — said that the gaming convention “drives more than $67 million in annual economic activity” to the city, with past conventions bringing in “more than $50 million” in 2014 and $47 million in 2013. This year, he estimated the impact of the convention at $71 million.

While still a large number, with the return of the Future Farmers of America’s convention to Indianapolis in October, Gen Con won’t be the largest show in town. “Indiana is ready and committed to support this event and welcome with open arms the 64,000 FFA members who will come to our capital city each of the next nine years,” said Governor Mike Pence. However, Mayor Greg Ballard stated that the National FFA convention has an “estimated $36 million in annual economic activity” for the city, about half of Gen Con’s.

Gen Con has a contract with the the convention center through 2020. The 50th Gen Con convention will be held in Indianapolis, August 17-20, 2017.

Second Look—Hanna Honeybee

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.Hanna Honeybee is part of HABA’s My Very First Games line, a line aimed at kids 2+ years old. Having a 2-year-old in the house,  I jumped at the opportunity to give the game a try. The game is very simple, with colorful components and a great little gimmick that had my little guy squealing with delight.

Let’s start with that. Hanna Honeybee’s box is also an important part of the game. There’s a cardboard insert that fits into the box with a slot on the top and a ramp on the bottom. In each game flower tiles are inserted in the top slot and flipped over to their honey side before being sent out the bottom. Every time we play my son exclaims “Honey!” whenever a tile comes sliding out. Laughter follows for a while and we can continue play.

There’s two ways to play Hanna Honeybee. The first involves rolling a die and moving the wooden Hanna token over to a flower of that color. Then the tile is inserted into the box and the honey that comes out is placed in the honey pot. Players work together to fill the honey pot with 6 honey tiles. Be careful, though! If you roll a wilted flower then one of the flowers is removed from the game. The goal here is color recognition, taking turns, and following mutli-step directions.

302199_4c_f_mes_hanni_honigbiene_usa_01The second way to play adds a little memory into the game. All the flower tiles are flipped to the honey side, and the players must try and find the color flower that they rolled. Didn’t find the right color? That’s OK! You can take another turn if you can successfully name the color of the flower you did turn over. Once you find the right color Hanna can take the flower, turn it into honey, and place it in the honey pot. Once again, 6 honey tiles in the honey pot wins the game, and a wilted flower roll removes a tile.

Like I said before, the games are very simple. However, they’re great for a 2-year-old. My toddler asks to play all the time, and always multiple times in a row. He loves moving Hanna to the flowers, and loves placing them in the hive to be flipped even more.

You can snag Hanna Honeybee for $27.99 from HABA’s site. I highly recommend you do if you’ve got children in the age range. I know we’re happy with the game, and will be gifting copies to family members this holiday season.

A copy of Hanna Honeybee was provided free for review by HABA.


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