An early adopter of crowdfunding, Tasty Minstrel Games is now looking to raise general operating and marketing funds through equity crowdfunding portal MicroVentures. The company says it has three games in development, 15 in production, and has sold over 400,000 units since 2010. It appears that any return on a crowdfunding investment could only come about through the sale of shares back to the company or if the company as a whole was sold at some point in the future. But equity crowdfunding is significantly more complex that your typical game project. Read those documents carefully.

Calliope Games has been doing a great job with its focus on easier-going strategy games. Next in that line is to be Dicey Peaks, currently funded and aiming for stretch-goals in its final hours on Kickstarter. I got a brief preview of Dicey Peaks at Toy Fair. It’s a push-your-luck dice game of mountain-climbing. To win, players must make their way to the summit while managing their oxygen and avoiding yeti attacks.

With Commands & Colors: Tricorne from Compass Games, designer Richard Borg takes his C&C card-driven system to the American Revolution. The game will include more than 300 wood blocks, printed dice, a mounted map-board, and separate decks of combat cards to represent the differentiated strategies of the British and Colonials.

On the verge of funding is another block war game, Combat Infantry. Columbia Games’s version of squad-level combat in World War II, this one emphasizes fog-of-war with blocks that are single-sided and rotate to record current strength. The box will include six historical scenarios from the invasion of Normandy, as well as four additional generic scenarios.

Tesla vs. Edison: Duel is an abbreviated, two-player card game that covers the same history of early electric utilities as Artana’s full Tesla vs. Edison board game. Most importantly, the company finally included Samuel Insull, my favorite personality of the period.

Kenzer and Company is on Kickstarter for the first time with Aces & Eights: Reloaded, a revised edition of its wild-west roleplaying game. Kenzer promises a second edition “chock-full of new rules, tweaks, art and other enhancements,” while maintaining the game’s unique shot-clock, a targeting overlay for fun old-west style shoot-outs.

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Mensa Select Winner SealFor those who don’t know, Mensa Mind Games is an annual tabletop competition open to games that are new to market within the last two years. Today they’ve announced the winners for 2016.

Sadly, the only game I’ve only played on the list The Last Spike, though I’ve heard good things about the rest.

The Tour of Hârn Continues

kaldorFollowing up on the free map of Hârn, Columbia Games continues the tour of the world by zooming in on the map. You can now snag a free, 60-page sample PDF that covers the Kingdom of Kaldor. You can get more info here about what the sample covers, along with links to the supplemental products here.

Columbia has plans to further explore Hârn, so keep an eye out for more free samples!

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Free Hârn Map

Hârn MapN. Robin Crossby’s original map of Hârn is available for free in PDF from Columbia Games for a limited time. The map, drawn in 1983, is 22″x34″ and has a letter/number grid that is useful for locating sites in the world.

What’s really cool is a lot of this map has been expanded on, so areas of the grid have been detailed in localized maps. These maps can be used for any RPG setting, so snagging this free map is a no-brainier.

Prints of the Hârn map are available folded (on sale for 50% off) or laminated.


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Second Look—The Last Spike

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.I’m a big fan of Columbia Games. I love the whole look and feel of their games, and Wizard Kings and Hammer of the Scots  both helped reinvigorate my love of board games in my mid 20’s. My kids are big fans of Slapshot, and it still comes to the table often with them. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant about The Last Spike. While I like train games, this seemed a bit more abstracted, and more focused on money management than anything.

That’s exactly what the game is…and it does a really great job at it. I sat down with my 10-year-old and 5-year-old to play, and I was surprised at the small rulebook and easy gameplay. Everything boils down to how you manage you money, how you purchase cities, and how you keep your opponents from earning more money.


In The Last Spike, you’re all working together to make a continuous railway from  one end of the board to another. You have to pay to lay tile, and buy city cards to earn money when tracks between that city and another is complete. More cards in that city equals more money. There’s also free cards you can get by being the first person to lay track next to a city. The person with the most money at the end of the game wins. It’s a race to make sure you have the most money while quickly completing the rail. You also need to be careful, because completing a segment of track completed may earn you money, but may earn one of the other players more money. Sometimes it’s worth trying for another route that may take longer, cost a bit more, but keep the other players from surpassing you in funds.

It’s a fairly quick game. I played with my two boys in about 45 minutes, my 5-year-old winning the game after stockpiling Saint Louis cards and cashing in huge towards the end of the game. The game keeps the same aesthetic of other Columbia Games with a cardstock board and wooded blocks with stickers for the pieces. It all boxes up in the same bookshelf format Columbia is known for.

This may not be a game for everyone, but it’s certainly a game that it’s audience will enjoy. That being said, it’s a Columbia game that has a broader appeal than their wargame line. The game had a successful Kickstarter campaign, and I’m hoping it spreads out further into the gaming community.

A copy of The Last Spike was provided free for review by Columbia Games.

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HârnWorld Bestiary


Now available from Columbia Games, the HârnWorld Bestiary contains the following beasts for your Hârn campaign:

Morvrin (Undead)

The Bestiary is available for $39.98, with a large of amount of supplemental material available from $1 – $20. With all those extra products, it almost makes me wish this was similar to the old 3-ring-binder Monstrous Manuals from Dungeons & Dragons.

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Columbia Games has just started a Kickstarter project for a cooperative game called The Last Spike Railway.

Of course the game isn’t entirely cooperative.

In The Last Spike Railway players must cooperate to build the Trans-Continental railway from St. Louis to Sacramento. Each player is also trying to make the most money before the last spike is driven into the ground.

Head on over to the Kickstarter page to get a peek at what the game will look like. I’m liking the 2-6 player ages 10+ range it’s going to have. A 45-60 minute playtime is also a plus.


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Victory in Europe New Rules Beta

victoryineurpoeVICTORY IN EUROPE: a strategic block wargame of World War II, for 2 or 3 players being developed by Columbia Games. Today a new beta of the rules have been released, and Columbia is looking for people to take a peek over them and point out any kind of errors they may see.

Drafts of the game artwork are coming soon.

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Second Look—Slapshot

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.When you of Columbia Games, you generally think of their amazing block wargames. That’s why when I heard about Slapshot, I was a bit taken aback.  A silly, family, card game from a company most know for historical wargames? Seems a bit odd.

It is. In a good way!

Slapshot is a simple game of wacky hockey. Each player plays a coach with a hockey team of 6 players. Each player has a number which indicates how effective they are. Each turn you can trade a player, draft a player, or call a game. Trading involves taking a card at random from another player, and giving them the same type of player you took. Drafting has you placing the player you want to get rid of at the bottom of their respective draw deck and taking a new one.

2701-slapshot-cover-smallThe meat of the game comes with the games. The player that calls the game gets the home stadium advantage, and automatically scores a point. The players then order their players into a pile, and flip them over one at a time. The numbers are compared and the highest number scores a point. A point can never be scored on a goalie, unless it’s another goalie or Tiny Tim, a special player. Along with those simple rules there are also players that are Bruisers. These players knock out the player they’re up against whether they score a point or not. At the end of the current game, the player who was knocked out is returned to the draw deck and a new one is taken.

Each game won progresses your token up the track to the playoffs. Win those, and you win Slapshot! There’s some additional advanced rules you can play with, and rules for playing in a league setting.

The game is a lot of fun with the kids, and they’ve already played it a ton of times since summer vacation started for them. It’s simple, quick, and portable enough to travel with you, too.

In the end, it may not be the best game for older players, but as a family game Slapshot really shines. It’s a fantastic game for me to leave on the kids’ shelf to play whenever they get the urge, and lately they’ve had the urge!

A copy of Slapshot was provided free for review by Columbia Games.

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