The new game from Games by Bright of Sweden this year is Exeo Duo (May, $35), a two-player abstract strategy game. Each player has four sets of matching pieces with each half of a set restricted to their half of the board, in a puzzling conundrum of getting all the pieces off the board. Exits on the left and right of the board exist, but both pieces in a set have to exit off the same side and at the same time. (Once your last set is ready to exit, it must do so from the center.) This is made more difficult by the movement rules: one piece moves once per turn while the other moves twice. Getting attacked by a matching shape from your opponent’s side is brutal.

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Toy Fair 2017—Kess Games

Kess Games is releasing an updated edition of their super-hero deckbuilding game, Emergents Genesis ($30), this August. Effectively, you’re a new hero at superhero high school, learning your powers and battling each other to be the last hero standing.

Dance Clash ($30), a party game featuring short YouTube videos of Allison Holker and Stephen “Twitch” Boss from So You Think You Can Dance? and YouTube sensation WilldaBeast Adams. The celebrities do dance moves the players have to replicate. Succeed in dance challenges and ascend to the center of the dance floor.

Super Party Battle ($30) is a drinking game-themed game featuring student cards to fight with that include silly challenges (“Jock: You must refer to all players and cards as ‘Bro'”), take that mechanics, and other abilities that affect the game. Waterproof cards and shotglass-like point markers are included.

And of course, there’s a zombie game. But no! Wait! Come back! This isn’t your standard humans vs. zombies game, this is a 1950’s Housewives vs Zombies game. In fact, it’s actually called Housewives vs. Zombies ($50). So you’re all in the suburbs, the menfolk are out at work, and wouldn’t you know it? Your cul-de-sac is being overrun by zombies. Fight ’em off! Survive! Also there’s a squishy foam brain for use as a first player marker.

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Toy Fair 2017—HABA USA

HABA USA’s catalog is literally an inch thick. Each year the company comes out with several new products releasing around the time of Toy Fair, six of these in “mid-spring” and one of these — an upgrade to a classic HABA game that’s fun for all ages — in the fall.

We start off with Paul and the Moon ($35), a cooperative memory game for 3-8 year olds. Paul moves around a pond, skipping from stone to stone. When he stops, the player tries to match the symbol on his stone with one on a face-down star. A match? We add a fairy to the ever-growing ladder to the moon. If everyone can complete the ladder, the players win!

Three smaller box games will also be available this spring: Flower Fairy Dominoes, Cat & Co. Meow Meow, and Princess Mina: Junior Rummy (all $8). The Junior Rummy game is a lightly-themed rummy deck with princesses, stars, and numbers. Meow Meow is similar to UNO, with cute animals and colored backgrounds dictating the card following play. Flower Fairy Dominoes? A simple domino-card game with a flower garden theme.

The Princess Mina Jewel Matching Game ($12) is another memory game with jeweled artwork, but when a player matches the gemstones, they get to thread the tiles onto a necklace which can be worn after the game has ended.

Also available in mid-spring is Lumina, the Search for Lightning Bugs ($20). Moving around an island, this youth-oriented push-your-luck game where you play cards illustrating your next move. Move to a location with a lightning bug? Catch it — if it’s the fifth one in your collection, you win.

Lastly, this fall will see Rhino Hero Super Battle ($30) hitting North America. Think Rhino Hero, but larger: more heroes, more buildings, more… fighting? Yes, there are spider monkeys on the loose and other heroes to bonk: Giraffe Boy, Big E., and Batguin.

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Toy Fair 2017—Gale Force Nine

Gale Force Nine’s booth was a science fiction geek’s dream, with products for Star Trek, Dr. Who, and Firefly.

For Star Trek Ascendancy, the Ferengi Alliance and Cardassian Union expansions were delayed shipping from the manufacturer but should hit retail soon at $35 each. Both add new civilizations to substitute for one of the original three or to accommodate an extra player. Gale Force Nine was also previewing a third expansion, which works a little differently than the player expansion sets. Borg Assimilation (due in June) provides a universal enemy and substitutes Borg for discovered planets. However, the first player to be assimilated by the Collective then takes over playing the Borg.

Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks (April, $75) is a 2-6 player cooperative game where each person plays a different incarnation of the Doctor visiting planets and solving dilemmas. The game looks grand, has some beautifully-detailed miniatures, and includes all the Doctors and companions from the whole series but is supposed to play in just 90 minutes. Look for a special K9 miniature in the first print run.

Separate from Gale Force Nine’s existing Firefly series, Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats is an RPG-style adventure game due in September. Essentially a dungeon-crawl, the game comes with six double-sided map tiles, 15 bad-guy miniatures, and two versions each of five crew figures. The two of those are there to represent the development of additional skills that each character can go through during the game.

Gale Force Nine has another Dungeons & Dragons board game in the works. Thieves Guild, scheduled for an October release, will see the players as thieves, competing to complete quests, develop renown, and achieve the highest rank in the thieves guild. The game’s action will be set in the Forgotten Realms with the board a map of Baldur’s Gate.

If you can’t wait for October, Gale Force Nine should also have this April two expansion cards sets for Tyrants of the Underdark, Aberrations and Undead.

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While there may not be much game to it, I had a lot of fun playing with Educational Insight’s upcoming Smash Pong ($22). It’s got an air-pressure canon, ping pong balls, challenge cards, and a bucket that doubles as target and storage. The canon (excuse me, it’s officially called a launcher) is powered by smashing your fist down on an air bladder. Of course, it’s really meant for much younger kids but that didn’t stop me from having a great time blasting balls across the aisles in to neighboring booths.

Providing more of an intellectually-focused experience but still for younger children, the company has Kanoodle Jr. ($15). It’s a challenge puzzle that like its senior counterpart involves fitting a variety of colored pieces in to a tray-base while matching the partial patterns on hint cards. What makes it more suitable for the junior crowd is its square tray and squared-off pieces.

For the very younger children (ages 2+), there’s Peekaboo Barn ($25). As you can imagine for that age, game play is quite simple. Press the chimney to spin the animals around, grab the closest animal, make its sound, and put it in the barn. If instead of a cow or sheep, it’s a rooster that comes up, the rooster’s cock-a-doodle-doo will wake up the last animal and draw it back out of the barn.

Sunrise Safari ($22) is, like the company’s Even Steven’s Odd, a fast-play dice-matching game. To make it suitable for players as young as 4, though, the matching process is slightly simplified and done with images of animals instead of typical dice with pips.

An introductory strategy game for ages 5+, Royal Roundup ($20) features a board with a bunch of mixed-up interconnecting paths. Each turn, players cross one path and collect a treasure. The idea is to think ahead, selecting the optimal paths for collecting the most high-valued treasures.

Another strategy title, Wiggle Waggle Whiskers ($22) pits cat player versus dog player, with each adding a new fence section every turn, and the first to surround all their cats or dogs being the winner.

Word on the Street ($20), formerly an Out of the Box Publishing game, plays kind of like tug-of-war with letters. Every time a letter shows up in a word used to respond to a question, that letter is pulled toward the answering team’s side of the street. There’s no right or wrong answers, only answers that pull more or better letters. Word on the Street Junior ($20) is exactly the same. It just comes with questions more appropriate for children.

Finally, another word game added to Education Insights’ catalog this year is After Words ($22). It’s one of those where players try to come up with words that begin with a specific letter. When they do, they can toss a matching letter card from their hand—getting rid of all seven is a win. The twist is they also have to match the final letter to the last letter marked on the board.

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Toy Fair 2017—Winning Moves

Recently resurrected under the Winning Moves label are original versions of Game of the States (a 1940 Milton Bradley title) and Cranium Cadoo (2001, last of Hasbro). Game of the States ($20) has players moving their truck pieces around a U.S. map, buying local products in one state, and selling them in another. Cranium Cadoo ($25) poses a variety of different challenges—acting, sculpting, solving puzzles, and more—with winning recorded by getting four-in-a-row across the game board.

For new titles, Winning Moves has two. In Sunk! ($15), players roll a die, dribble drops of water in to a floating bottle cap, and hope it doesn’t sink. They may also have to complete certain challenges, such as dripping the water with their opposite hand. Nibbled ($15) is for children ages 4+ and features a bunch of cute clip-on yellow fish. Players start the game with four fish clipped to their clothes or body and each turn they try to guess the color of the fish on the next card. If they guess correctly, they get to remove the number of fish showing.

Winning Moves also sells Rubik’s Cubes. New for this year are Rubik’s Build It Solve It ($24), a standard 3×3 cube that the customer assembles from parts, and Rubik’s Triamid ($18), which is a puzzle with non-moving parts but still has the goal of making every side a single color.

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Toy Fair 2017—Resilienze for Life

Resilienze for Life is a roll-and-move, app-integrated, trivia, action game meant to promote emotional intelligence. Spaces on the board tell the player whether to answer a question via the app or undertake a meditation that plays on the app.




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In what the company’s PR people at Toy Fair said was a recognition of the growing strategy game market, Spin Master is making a bigger push in to hobby and specialty retail. To feed that push, Spin Master has acquired rights to Santorini from Roxley Games and 5-Minute Dungeon from Wiggles 3D.

Santorini is a three-dimensional abstract-strategy game patterned on the architecture of the cliff-side villages on Santorini Island, Greece. Each turn, players build out or up homes on Santorini island and also may move one of their builder pawns one space over, one level up, or any levels down. Whoever is first able to get a builder to the top of a third-level home, not capped with a dome, is the winner.

Besides the simple but engaging game-play, rocketing Santorini up the BoardGameGeek rankings are its beautiful components. Spin Master promises to keep the game and components the same, and sell it for $30.

5-Minute Dungeon ($20) is a fast-play cooperative card game. The idea is to throw down the matching symbols required to defeat each monster card in-order and go through the whole deck before time runs out.

Both games will be launched by Spin Master at Gen Con, where the company is planning a larger presence this year.

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Groot Bop It!

Coming from Hasbro for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a Groot Bop It!, voiced by Rocket Raccoon.

Bop It! is the game a player is supposed to pull, twist, and bop following the increasingly rapid instructions.

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