ASTRA 2017—Breaking Games

A recent release by Breaking Games, Aura ($25) turns four individual decks of numbered cards in to a head-to-head tactical battle game. Opponents’ cards are arrayed against each other with higher numbers eliminating lower numbers and certain cards empowered with special effects, such as trumps and blocking ability.

Coming in the fourth quarter of this year is Kawaii ($10), a Japanese/English crossover card game that’s essentially the same as Poop, except for a few extra action cards and more poop emojis.

Then just into 2018, Breaking Games plans to ship Convert ($30), a wood piece, three-dimensional abstract played in two dimensions. That is, though the pieces are blocks and when placed must be considered in three dimensions, the goal of four-in-a-row applies only when viewed from above.

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ASTRA 2017—North Star Games

North Star’s next party game is Blurble. Expected in September at a retail price of $20, Blurble combines The Name Game with the difficulty of saying one word while looking at a picture of something else.

The game includes 348 illustrated cards and each time one is pulled, all the players try to be the first one to name an object that begins with the same first letter as the pictured item. The tricky part, of course, is not blurting out the name of the pictured item itself.

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ASTRA 2017—Think Fun

Due in August from ThinkFun is something a little different for the company—actually, a little different all around. It’s a game for 2-4 called Fold-It ($18). Each player gets a cloth printed with an array of pictures representing different dishes of food. Then a card is flipped over with a 2×2 set of those dishes. Immediately, the players race to fold their cloths such that the only dishes showing match the ones on the card.

For September, ThinkFun plans a challenge puzzle for the cat fans, one that’s more logic than geometric or graphical. Each of the 40 clue cards in Cat Crimes ($13) features a series of story-oriented hints and through careful positioning and deduction, the player tries to figure out which of the pack committed the mischief.

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ASTRA 2017—Gigamic

Gigamic’s next upcoming products are planned for September release.

Yogi ($12) is an action card game that gives you a Twister-like experience while sitting around the table. On each player’s turn, they draw a new action card, adding it to the set of rules they must follow from all their previous cards. By the third round, for example, a player might have to hold a card on their head while keeping a thumbs-up pose and drawing new cards with only their elbows.

Hellapagos ($20) is a semi-cooperative game about being stranded on a desert island. The goal is to collect resources to build enough rafts for everyone. But because there are never enough resources, the players together must decide who starves and who gets left behind.

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ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s Marketplace & Academy, is an annual show focused on the needs of small, independent, local toy and game stores. This year’s event was earlier this week (June 25-28) in Philadelphia.

The marketplace aspect of ASTRA refers to an exhibit hall with approximately 500 exhibitors (a significant increase since the last time I attended in 2012). Among them I found on display a number of new products, which I will share with you over the coming few days.

ASTRA’s academy aspect features a range of professional development workshops for retailers, including lessons on predicting trends, managing employees, marketing to local communities, negotiating with sales reps, and much more.

Overall, the event feels like a smaller, somewhat more relaxed version of Toy Fair with a larger educational component—a good fit for the independent retailers, as well as the manufacturers and publishers looking for business in that market.

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