According to Hasbro, gaming as a general trend has seen a 75 percent increase in 3 years, up from 1.2 billion gamers in 2013 to 2.1 billion in 2016.

In its presentation to investors at New York Toy Fair today, Hasbro revealed that 20 percent of its products in 2016 went to consumers 20 years of age and older. The hottest of those products, of course, was Magic: The Gathering, for which the company produced last year 117 million booster packs. In another interesting statistic, 5 million viewers watched 350 million minutes of Magic video online. To keep the trend going, subsidiary Wizards of the Coast will be launching a series of new events in local game stores called “Magic Open House”. At these events will be giveaways and how-to-play sessions for beginner players.

Magic Digital Next was also mentioned but the better information on it comes from a WOTC website article posted today. In it, Jeffrey Steefel described Magic Digital Next as an “internal umbrella term for the entire landscape for Magic: The Gathering experiences around digital games.” This includes:

  • Back-end technology upgrades to support both digital and tabletop play.
  • More and better ways to play Magic digitally.
  • Expanding the Magic experience and setting to “diverse platforms and genres.”

For the first time that I know of, a WOTC CEO participated in the Toy Fair presentation and gave some recognition to Dungeons & Dragons. Chris Cocks said that in 2016, D&D had its best sales in 40 years. He even mentioned that Duel Masters experienced its fastest growth ever last year.

On the board game side, 30 million Hasbro games were manufactured in Longmeadow, Massachusetts last year. The company claims 13 of the top 15 face-to-face games in United States—number 1 was Pie Face and number 2 was Speak Out.

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Magic’s Magic 2015

Magic The Gathering Hasbro 2016 Toy Fair Banner

Toy Fair New York 2016Though deposed this past year as Hasbro’s biggest brand, Magic: The Gathering still had a very strong 2015, according to John Frascotti, President of Hasbro Brands, its “seventh straight year of record-breaking results.” Speaking at the company’s Toy Fair presentation to investors, Frascotti revealed that the number of active Magic players grew 10.5 percent in 2015 and that the average player spent 16.7 percent more money on the game than they did the previous year.

Organized play too recorded significant growth. The number events was up 26.5 percent and the number of stores hosting those events up 8.5 percent.

Hasbro sees Magic: The Gathering as a competitor in the e-sports category, where the company says it ranks in the top-five. Last year saw a total of 850,000 competitive magic events. In the 55 classified as “global premier events”, more than 6,000 “premier” players participated and $4.1 million in prizes were distributed. Online video broadcast of tournaments attracted more than 1 million unique monthly viewers.

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Toy Fair 2016—Tactic

A new company for me, Tactic had on display at Toy Fair an eclectic mix of children’s, trivia, abstract, and party games, all of which are due sometime during the summer and priced at $20.

Totem is an abstract game for 2-4, played on a color-coded checkerboard with totem pieces that move like the rooks in Chess (any distance in a straight orthogonal line). While the goal of Totem is simply to get all one’s pieces to the opposite side, the challenge is to maneuver them around opponents’ pieces, as well as around a blocking color that changes throughout the game. That blocking color is initially determined at random by a “stop color” card, however, a player that lands on a black space also has the option to change it to any one they choose.

A new entry in the company’s iKnow line of trivia games, iKnow All In lets the reader participate in the guessing by hiding the answers to its multiple-choice questions with heat-activated printing. To reveal the correct answer, the reader only has to hold their finger on the designated spot for a few seconds. Another, iKnow Hit List, incorporates only questions with multiple valid answers. But what makes it tough is that for each question only the eight listed answers will be scored as correct. For both these games, getting the answer right yourself is good for points, but so is guessing who else will have the answer right.

X-Tiles is a Dominoes-type game with pieces colored and shaped in such a way that players never have a turn in which they can’t place a tile with an adjacent match. If, however, they can place a tile that matches two adjacent colors at the same time, then they get an immediate extra turn. The goal is to be the first to get rid of all one’s tiles.

Zombie Labyrinth is a spin-and-move game played on a modular board. The goal in this one is to collect the most brains. Every spin gives a choice of directions to move. One of the possible spin results, however, is the mad scientist. Moving his pawn allows players to steal brains from their opponents.

In Colorology, one player each turn plays the colorologist, secretly choosing a preferred color for the current item card. The other players attempt to guess the colorologist’s choice.

With Women vs. Men Alias, Tactic strays in to sensitive territory, creating separate decks of cards with women’s words and men’s words. Women play with the men’s deck, men with the women’s deck, trying to get each other to say the word on the card without actually repeating it in the clue.

For younger children, Tactic has coming out 3 Little Pigs. It’s a simple game that involves rolling a die and building up from a straw house, to a wood house, to a sturdy one made of bricks. However, a kid that rolls a wolf gets to squeeze the wolf-head thingamajig to try to blow someone else’s house down.

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Toy Fair New York 2016If nothing else came out of Toy Fair for Playroom Entertainment, it’d still be great news that production of Killer Bunnies has resumed and the whole line of murderous-rabbit card games should be back in-stock on store shelves soon.

But of course that wasn’t the only news from Playroom. The company is moving ahead with several new products in 2016.

Pass the Pandas (spring, $12) is a light, cute dice game with the simple goal of getting rid of all your dice. Everyone rolls. Pandas are passed. Water dice are out. Blanks you have to keep. And any that land bamboo go in to a kind-of roll-off to see with whom they end up.

Playroom’s Geek Out line of trivia games gets an edition, Geek Out Family (spring, $20), populated with questions that should be easier for kids.

Another trivia game coming from the company plays off the current obsessive concern with spoilers. In Spoiler Alert (June, $20), players attempt to get their partners to guess the names of movies, TV shows, books, and songs. Every one they can do within 60 seconds, not using a list of specific “spoiler” words, earns 10 points. Alternatively, they can go ahead and use one of those words, which will certainly make the guessing easier, but at a penalty of 1 or 5 points, depending on how good a clue it is (proper names are never allowed). For example, if the title is Star Wars, then “light saber” is a giveaway at -5 points.

Costume Party Assassins (spring, $30) has players trying to guess which character meeple belongs to which player based on how they move the other meeples around the board.

Three Little Birds (May, $20) is a cooperative game for young children. The goal is to get the birds back to the nest. But with every card offering two or more ways to move them, the players must discuss and come to agreement on which they choose together.

Sherlock Deluxe (May, $15) plays the same as Playroom’s previously published non-deluxe memory-and-move card game. This one, though, has a few additional cards and a cute Sherlock, dog detective, pawn.

Toy Fair 2016—Rocket Lander

Toy Fair New York 2016Coming in April from Griddly Games is Rocket Lander ($27). Played on a gridded board, Rocket Lander continues until one player has managed to place 25 points of rockets on contiguous spaces. Getting there, involves rolling three dice on every turn. Two are used for grid coordinates, one for selecting a rocket of that point value.

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Toy Fair New York 2016One of the brands Hasbro is making a big push with in 2016 is Yo-kai Watch. It’s based on a Japanese anime series that’s centered on the story of a young boy, his magical watch, and the yokai (mythological ghosts and spirits) that he summons with it to solve mysteries and do good deeds. Of course, with Hasbro part of that push had to be Yo-kai Watch games.

In the fall, Hasbro will launch a Yo-kai Watch Trading Card Game. A starter pack ($13) will include 40 cards, a play mat, and one exclusive Yo-kai Watch medal (collectible discs that fit in the replica watches also for sale). Blind booster packs will include 10 randomized cards for $4. And a collection box exclusive to Walmart will retail for $20 and come with four booster packs and one exclusive medal.

Before the TCG, though, this spring will see release of a Yo-kai Watch The Game of Life ($20), and already hitting retail is a Yo-kai Watch Monopoly Junior ($15). Player tokens in the Monopoly game represent the yokai Komojiro, Whisper, Jibanyan, and Komasan.

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Toy Fair 2016—R&R Games

Toy Fair New York 2016Though a company representative told me even more new games through 2016, four spring releases were being highlighted at the this week’s New York Toy Fair.

Showdown ($20) is an argue-over-famous-people party game with a tournament bracket sort of arrangement. To begin, players seed the bracket with the names of famous characters and personalities. Then for each round to narrow the competition, a challenge card is drawn and the players vote on which character fits the challenge best. Points are scored for correctly guessing who will survive each round, as well as for having contributed the character that comes out on top.

Swipe Out ($20) is a game of competitive pattern-matching. Players start each new round with a board filled with chips in a 5×5 grid. Then when a card is turned over, the goal is to pull chips, matching the card’s pattern of spots and spaces, and squeeze the rubber duck.

Pickle Letter ($16) is played with letter tiles but is not a word game. The tiles are initially just dumped on the table, with some naturally landing upside down. Players are then supposed to grab any matching pairs of letters they see (+1 point) but also call out “pickle” whenever the upright pairs appear to be exhausted. At that point, every player takes a pickle token (-3 points), 10 new tiles are turned over, and the process begins again. Along the way, anyone who makes a mistake also has to take a pickle token. The game ends when the pile is all pickled out.

And R&R’s wizard-duel card game, Spellcaster, is getting an expansion. Spellcaster Potions ($9) includes 20 new cards and a set of wood potion tokens. The new cards can substitute for some of the existing cards, with the potions used as fuel for some of the new spells.

Spellcaster Potions

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Toy Fair New York 2016The Toy Industry Association is launching a new event to take place concurrent with New York Toy Fair. Play Fair will open to 25,000 members of the public at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan this coming February. As Toy Fair runs February 13-16, 2016, I’d assume Play Fair will be the 13th and 14th, though no official announcement has yet been made. Ticket prices will be $30.

The idea behind Play Fair is to provide a venue for toy and game companies to directly engage their consumers, as well as to provide an alternative for the children every year denied entry to the business-to-business exclusive Toy Fair.

No doubt the move was also spurred on by the rise of social media, both in terms of tantalizing the public with behind-the-scenes peeks at Toy Fair and the significant impact kid reviewers and consumer-to-consumer networking can have on building buzz.

[via Fortune]

Toy Fair 2015—Mad Cave Bird Games

ToyFair15HorizontalYup, Mad Cave Bird Games is a real name for a company. I swear I’m not making that up. To prove it to you, I’m going to cover two of their games I saw at Toy Fair this year.

ColorKu – $34.99

ColorKu is bascially Sudoku but with colorful wooden balls instead of numbers. The game comes with 104 different puzzle cards that you need to solve. Just like in Sudoku, you can only have 1 of each color in every row and column. There’s 3 additional packs of 104 puzzle cards that can be purchased for $9.95 each.

Tic Tac Ku – $29.99

Tic Tac Ku

An interesting twist on Tic Tac Toe. Played on the game board as ColorKu, players play a game of Tic Tac Toe where they’re trying to win the different zones on the board by getting 3 in a row. The gimmick here is that each player controls which segment of the board the other plays their next turn in. By placing a ball in the lower right hand corner of a segment, the next player must now play in the lower right hand segment. Played a ball in the middle of a segment? The next player has to play a ball in the center segment of the board.  It actually works out pretty well. Also, if you already own ColorKu you can just buy a Tic Tac Ku pieces kit for $14.95.

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Toy Fair—Kosmos


It seems like a long time since I’ve seen Kosmos game around, but they’re back with a vengeance in 2015! Six new games were being shown, some great reprints among them. I wish I had more pictures from the booth, but for some reason they all came out incredibly blurry. The only clear shot I got was from Lost Cities.

Dohdles! – $39.95 – Ages 8+

A sculpting family party game for 3-6 players, Dohdles is actually a reprint of the Spiel des Jahres winner Barbarossa. You need to sculpt items and have someone guess what it is, but you don’t want everyone to guess correctly! You also don’t want to make it so no one guesses correctly. Find the right mix to score the most points. Available in May.

Ubongo – $39.95 – Ages 8+

A reprint of the excellent puzzle game where players race against a timer to solve a puzzle. The faster you solve the geometric puzzles, the more gems you get. This new version looks excellent, and it’s about time I added this one to my collection! Available in May.

Dimension – $49.95 – Ages 8+

Dimension is another puzzle game, but this one uses colorful spheres. Using rules from 6 cards, players need to build with the spheres while adhering to the constraints. Fast building is important, but so is following the rules. Available in April.

Lost Cities – $19.95 – Ages 10+

A favorite of my wife and mine, Lost Cities is back in all its glory. With a very slightly updated look, everything you love about the classic exploration card game is still here. Play expedition cards to earn points, but make sure you have enough to cover the cost of the journey! Available in April.

Lost Cities: The Board Game – $39.95 – Ages 10+

Just like Lost Cities, except bigger and supporting up to 4 players. Of course it’s a bit different being a board game instead of a card game, but all the mechanics are still there. Set out on expeditions by playing cards in a path’s color to proceed along. Available in April.

Kahuna – $24.05 – Ages 10+

Another faithful reprint of a classic Kosmos game, Kahuna is a two player game where you’re trying to gain dominance of 12 small islands. As always with Kosmos 2-player games, it’s deceptively simple yet very strategic. Available in April.

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