White Wolf’s World of Darkness returns to digital with Vampire: Prelude (iOS, Android) and Mage: Refuge (iOS, Android) interactive fiction apps.

Support for Clank! has been added to the Renegade Game Studios Companion App (iOS, Android), providing “mini-quests” and a solo game mode.

GMT Games is working with HexWar Games on digital versions of Commands & Colors: Ancients and Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. Ancients will launch first in this summer, followed by Napoleonics in the fall or winter. At launch, the games will support PC and Mac. A couple of months later, there’ll be support for iPad. Android support will come eventually, probably.

The previous implementation of Dominion online is no longer. It has been replaced by one from Shuffle iT. Accounts, though, were transferred, supposedly with usernames and passwords intact.

Victory Point Games’ Hunt: The Unknown Quarry recently launched on Steam. It’s a “deductive combat game” for 3-6. One plays a monster trying to escape. The others are hunters. A whole group can play with just one purchased license.

Online accounts for Fantasy Flight Games, Days of Wonder, and Asmodee have been merged. If you had an account, you should have received an email.

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Yamataï Announced by Days of Wonder

Designed by Bruno Cathala and Marc Paquien, Days of Wonder’s new title, Yamataï, is expected to hit stores in Europe in March and in the US in May at a suggested retail price of €54/$60.

In the game 2 to 4 are competing to build the best city, the capitol of Yamataï. The full rulebook, along with some of the game’s beautiful artwork, can be found on Days of Wonder’s site.

A new Days of Wonder big-box release is always exciting, and Yamataï looks to be no exception.

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Ticket to Ride Off the Rails

Ticket to Ride Rails & SailsA new version of Ticket to Ride is on the way, one with ships as well as trains. Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails maintains the same style of game-play as the original but challenges players with an additional layer of strategy that trades off between steamships and locomotives. Each route on the board—the world on one side and the Great Lakes region on the other—requires one or the other. There’s a deck of ship cards for claiming routes separate from the train cards. And players decide how they intend to balance between the two travel options by selecting a number of trains and ships to work with at the beginning of the game.

Other new features of Rails & Sails include harbors, which players can build for additional points in port cities they’ve already connected, and tour tickets, which award bonus points for connecting multiple cities (more than just the two found on normal tickets).

Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails will debut at Gen Con and should hit retail outlets shortly thereafter. MSRP is $80 or €70.

Ticket to Ride Rails & Sails The Great Lakes Map

Ticket to Ride Rails & Sails The World Map


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Days of Wonder has just announced The Thieves of Naquala, a mini-expansion for the excellent Five Tribes. The expansion contains 6 Thieve Cards and 1 new Djinn Card. Thieves work similarly to Djinns, but are less powerful.

The expansion should be on shelves in June, and will retail for around $6. You can check out the rules for the expansion here.


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Digital Ticket to Ride India MapDigital versions of Ticket to Ride have undergone a major upgrade. Most importantly, all now support cross-platform multiplayer mode, so even us Android players can pick up live games with you iPad people. Also supported now are vertically-oriented maps. The first, of India, provides bonus points for looped routes. Digital Ticket to Ride is available on Android, iOS, and Steam.

Dominion, the original deck-building card game, has finally hit mobile. Both iOS and Android versions are free-to-play with the base set of cards. Expansion card sets are available as in-app purchases ($90 for everything). Beware though, even single-player mode requires a live internet connection.

Cogwind’s Revenge is an iPad app version of True Dungeon, complete with puzzles, combat, and even token-collecting.

Linkee, the trivia-ish party game of identifying commonalities, now has an Apple TV version. Instead of hitting a buzzer, the first to figure out a link is supposed to grab the remote and shake it over their head.

Defiant Development is in the process of releasing four separate new scenarios (three are out so far, one more will be before the end of the year) for the Steam version of its deck-building, action RPG, Hand of Fate.

Dragon+ via webDragon+, Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons mobile-app-magazine, is now also available via the web, so it can be read via desktop browser.

A Macau Challenge Pack has been added to digital Splendor. The twist with this one is that it requires players to capture specific cards.

Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest is now a thing and available for both Android and iOS (free-to-play but with in-app purchases). In the game, it’s match-3 puzzle play that produces mana.

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Ticket to Ride United Kingdom


Releasing at Esssen in October, the fifth addition to the Ticket to Ride Map Collection will be the United Kingdom. This set includes:

  • Map of United Kingdom (2-4 players)
  • Map of Pennsylvania (2-5 players)
  • New Train cards & Tech Cards (United Kingdom)
  • New Stock Share Cards (Pennsylvania)
  • Tickets & Rules for each Map

Both maps include unique rules, including technology upgrades for the UK map and stocks/investing for the Pennsylvania one. Price for the map pack is listed at $40.

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Gen Con 2015—Asmodee

Gen Con logoAt the Fantasy Flight Games In-Flight Report (which I’ll cover separately), Christian Petersen talked about Asmodee’s grand plans. The company, he said, sees the possibility of achieving a scale similar to the largest international toy companies but doing so by building on the best type of toy, games.

Asmodee’s presence at Gen Con was certainly consistent with that attitude. The booth and demo space was again even larger than last year, the number and variety of games more than I could cover.

One I was not able to try, Mysterium ($50), was also one of the hottest at the show. A limited supply brought people running to the booth with the opening of the exhibit hall doors. Mysterium is described as a combination of Dixit and Clue. It has a game-master of sorts but is played cooperatively. The goal is to solve a murder mystery with clues provided by art cards.

My favorite was one that Asmodee will be distributing for Queen Games, Treasure Hunter by Richard Garfield. Due at Essen, Treasure Hunter combines an easy card draft with a straightforward process that totals up the players’ cards in each of three color categories and awards the ones with the least and greatest values bonuses or penalties, as the case may be each round. In addition to value cards for each color, players are also drafting the occasional modification card, as well as dog cards used to fight off trolls.

Mafia de Cuba ($30, September) is Asmodee’s entry in to the social deduction category. It also comes with a beautiful cigar box, which is used in the game to hold the godfather’s diamonds, as well as a group of role tokens (faithful henchmen, driver, FBI agent, etc.). After the box is passed around the table, the goal of the godfather is to figure out who stole his diamonds. But say, for example, he accuses someone who turns out to be the agent, well then that agent wins the game instead.

Starfighter ($30) is a two-player card-based spaceship combat game played in columns. The concept is fighter screens making runs at opponents’ cruisers. However, the fewer columns a player takes advantage of one round, the more cards they may draw the next.

Barony ($50) has players trying to elevate their noble characters to the rank of Duke. This is accomplished by recruiting knights, moving them around the board, upgrading them in stages, producing resources, and eliminating opponents.

2015 has been a big year for dinosaur games. In this category, Asmodee will deliver at Essen Raptor. It’s a two-player tactical game in which one person plays the scientists trying to capture baby raptors and the other side plays the dinosaur mother protecting her young. Gameplay involves the simultaneous selection of cards. The person who’s card number is lower gets to play their card’s special ability that turn. The one who’s number is higher, receives the difference in action points.

Another Essen-scheduled game from Asmodee is Doctor Panic. An action party game with a medical theme, Doctor Panic incorporates eight mini-games, every one of which must be completed within the total time limit. The mini-games include such activities as matching the pose on an x-ray card or sewing thread to match a suture pattern. A soundtrack counts down the time limit and sometimes also interrupts normal play with sidetrack tasks, such as running around the table.

For Days of Wonder, Asmodee was showing the prototype of a new Ticket to Ride double-sided map board. One side features the British Isles, comes with a new deck of cards, and adds technology development to the game. For example, at the start, players can only complete length-2 routes. To complete longer routes, they must first upgrade their trains by playing wild-cards. The other side of the board has a map of Pennsylvania and adds company stocks to the game. Each completed route provides shares in certain companies. At the end of the game, the majority shareholder in each company earns a bonus.

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Splendor IconThe Splendor mobile app launches today on Android and iOS devices. Put out by Days of Wonder, the game offers two types of play. One is a faithful adaptation of the tabletop game and can be played against the computer or in pass-and-play mode. The other, called “Challenges”, is more of a solitaire puzzle experience.

Both have me hooked!

What’s the game like?

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.For those not familiar with this recent cardboard hit, Splendor supposedly has players developing their Renaissance merchant houses to earn prestige and recognition from the nobles. Really though, the theme is pretty thin. The gameplay however, while quite simple, presents some very interesting strategic challenges.

On each turn, a player can either take gemstone chips (available in limited quantities in five colors) or spend previously collected chips to purchase a development card from those on display. Every card provides a permanent bonus in one color, making it easier to purchase additional cards in subsequent turns. Some cards also provide victory points.

The cards are laid out four-to-a-row in three rows. As you go from the bottom row to the middle to the top, the cards get more expensive but are also more likely to provide more victory points.

A group of noble tokens work essentially like achievements. The first person to collect the number and color of cards indicated on each token gets certain bonus points.

Game-end is triggered when someone hits 15 victory points, and of course the player with the most points is the winner.

Splendor Android Game in Progress

How does the app play?

The mobile app works exactly the same way. The screen resembles a normal tabletop setup, with art derived from the physical version. And the usual digital options are provided: choice of avatars, volume control for background music, etc.

The only thing that Splendor doesn’t currently do is live online play. Instead, there’s pass-and-play and a choice of five computer opponents. These aren’t rated by difficulty level but rather by style of play: balanced, specialized, opportunistic, random behavior, and secret behavior. I haven’t tried them all yet but those I did I found to be worthy adversaries.

Days of Wonder promises to add an online multiplayer mode in a future update. In the meantime, players have the option to post scores to an online leaderboard.

Splendor Android Challenges Menu

What are Challenges?

Challenges are solitaire puzzle-like scenarios. With challenges, the basic method of play remains unchanged, though the specific parameters—for example, the number of chips collected per turn or the point value of various cards—may be different. In some cases, the goal is to hit a set number of victory points within a certain number of turns. In others it’s winning a specific card or collecting a particular combination of bonuses.

There are three sets of six challenges included with the base game, each associated with a center of trade from the 15th or 16th century.

Again, I haven’t played through all of them but those I did were, well, challenging. For most too, the cards that come out are still random. Thus even a completed challenge may be interesting to play again.

Where can I get it?

For its $6.99 price, digital Splendor is a good deal. The quality of the tabletop-to-mobile adaptation is first-rate.

If there’s one thing to quibble with it would be with the way the Challenge parameters are explained and displayed. For example, it took me a few minutes to figure out that in describing a Challenge, “value of Prestige Points” means the number of points needed to win. But once that was resolved, it certainly didn’t present any ongoing barrier to play. Nor did I find any such issues with the basic gameplay tutorial.

The underlying game too is much more than one of those mindless time-wasters. Yet it’s not so complex that it requires some high-level dedication to learn or play reasonably well. For me at least, that’s the sweet spot. I suspect I’ll be playing this one a lot.

Click here to purchase Splendor for iOS devices via iTunes.

Click here to purchase Splendor for Android devices via the Google Play store.

A complimentary copy of digital Splendor was provided by Days of Wonder for review.

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Logo_AsmodéeAsmodee Games, having acquired Fantasy Flight Games and Days of Wonder in 2014, has purchased Paris-based Ystari Games and Belguim-based Pearl Games, according to a news posting by Marabunta, a sub-brand of Asmodee. Products published by Ystari Games include Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Caylus, and Endeavor. Pearl Games publishes Troyes, Ginkgopolis, Deus, and others.

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2014 Ticket to Ride ChampionshipFollowing Days of Wonder’s public statements about the 2014 Ticket to Ride World Championship, the two players involved have issued public statements about the best-of-three match in question.

Erwin Pauelsen, the player stripped of the title, said that after playing eight Ticket to Ride games that day, he inadvertently picked up extra cards in the second game of the final (English translation), a mistake that went unnoticed by either player or the table judge. Tournament rules state that Days of Wonder has the right to reassign the winner of a match in case of any irregularity. As the recording of the match shows Mr. Pauelsen taking the cards, it provides Days of Wonder sufficient reason to not award the prize to him. “The organization wanted the trophy back and I agreed.” Mr. Pauelsen has consulted with a lawyer afterwards, “but she stated the pre-defined rules of the organization would render a case useless”.

On BoardGameGeek.com, Kenneth Heilfron, states that he was cheated against during the championship finals, pointing out the math behind the game. If no cheating occured during the match in question, with the number of turns played and the number of trains placed on the board, he should have had six extra cards in his hand at the end of the game. Mr. Heilfron suggests multiple explanations for this, which point to some purposeful action by Mr. Pauelsen. “It was no accident, and it is not something the judge or myself could catch easily.”

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