I’ve got some news tidbits and some pretty sweet events to announce below. But first, Star Wars Rebellion. I finally played it, and I’m gonna call it somewhat of a masterpiece.
This game is a shining example of professional design, with the mechanics perfectly enabling the cinematic epicness that the designer clearly hoped to capture from the fiction. At the shop, whenever we ask customers who’ve played the game what they thought, we know we’re in for a 20 minute foamy mouth excited retelling of the stories that occurred during the game. This lead me to believe that I was in for a game of random card events and dice chucking.
Well, that those elements are surely there, but the game also has rich strategy and tactics, and the design beautifully intertwines the story elements with the tactical elements to become something very special.
Well done, again, Fantasy Flight, and kudos for making this the breakout game for Asmodee’s new ‘Brand Protection Program’ (my term, not theirs). Star Wars Rebellion does not deserve devaluation, play it if you can, and just try not to have epic moments.
Oh, and speaking of brand protection and Asmodee. Think a bit about the Harley Davidson brand. Here’s a company that only allows sales of their products through authorized retailers with no third party selling on Amazon. Does that make HD an evil company out to rip everyone off? Just found the analogy intersting, and perhaps it might be educational for other publishers struggling to mature.
Gamer Garage Sale (Saturday, May 28, 4pm): You know you’ve got some great games that need new homes because they are simply being neglected on your shelf. Let Cloud Cap be your social worker and help find those babies a new home. Actually, all we’re going to do is provide the space, you bring the games, you get the proceeds from your sales. Yep, this is a stupid crazy thing for a retail establishment to do, but who cares, we’re just hoping to get to hang out with y’all. We’ll also be having a game night that night in case you want to pull out some of your new used games.
$5 gets you an area to sell 10 of your games, a sale sheet for pricing, entrance to our Saturday game night and a $5 Cloud Coin (redeemable on any new non-discounted item) Not interested in buying or selling, just want to play games? No problem. $5 gets you a Cloud Coin and entrance to the Garage Sale Game Night, starting at 7pm.
March of the Ants Demo (Wednesday, May 18, 6pm): One of Portland’s own published game designers, Tim Eisner, will be showing up at our strategy game gathering to show off their upcoming expansion to their great game of ant survival, March of the Ants. I’m looking forward to revisiting the underground. Come check it out with me and Tim, and you can visit the Kickstarter campaign page here for more info.
Sol: Last Days of a Star (Wednesday, May 25, 6pm): Oh yeah, another Portland game designer will be in the house to show off his game on kickstarter this month. I have not tried this yet but have heard many great things. The kickstarter campaign is here.
A few new Stronghold game titles have been announced for the Great Designer Series. While you can preorder direct through Stronghold, we are offering our 20% preorder discount on these titles, which will actually be cheaper than going direct, we’ll just be getting it a few days later.
Matthias Cramer‘s Kraftwagen: V6 Edition is an updated version of his 2015 release Kraftwagen from ADC Blackfire Entertainment that now includes a new set of tiles that feature the next technology available at the time, the V6 engine. Kraftwagen: V6 Edition, dubbed title #3 in Stronghold’s “Great Designer Series” is due out in August 2016.
The Fog of War is a two-player grand strategic game covering the European theater of World War II from 1940-1945. One player plays the Axis forces, and the other the Allies.The game doesn’t have units that move around a map; instead the game focuses on the planning and intelligence aspects of the war. Each player has a deck of cards that represent the army, navy, and other assets of their nations. A map shows the 28 land and sea provinces over which the players are battling.
For Alexander Pfister fans, here are some tidbits about his upcoming projects:
My card game “Oh My Goods” really does well, currently I’m working on an expansion on this. In 3 weeks “Broom Service – The card game” will be available. It’s fast and fun and uses the brave/cowardly mechanic from Broom Service. I’m also working on a new expansion for Port Royal. Port Royal became very popular all over the world, I think it’s now available in more than 20 languages. It offers fun and easy rules for players new to our hobby. But also many different characters which makes it interesting for experienced gamers.
And finally, a few more preorders you may want to consider:
Splotter Games Titles: Food Chain Magnate, Great Zimbabwe, Indonesia (Pricing on these titles is a bit weird right now, it looks our retail price on these will be $125, which puts them in your hands for $100 with the preorder discount, but get your requests in soon, should be very limited quantities)
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy’s Mask. A whole new series!
Hero Realms. What everyone wanted Epic to be (except me) will be hitting kickstarter soon. The boys at White Wizard Games know how to treat their retailers, so we will be backing a sweet retailer package. So you can back the game through us and get invited to the release party, with swag!
Cheers all and happy gaming!
It’s a bit of a slow week for board game news, but still some interesting tidbits to take note of, especially if you want to preorder any of these titles through us (at 20% off of course):
The battle between Winter and Summer continues, with some great sunny days in between some dark soggy ones. It is not time to pack away the board games and bust out the lawn games just yet. Here’s a list of upcoming special events and some gaming news to help make the gloomy days brighter.
International Tabletop Day Saturday, April 30, 1pm-11pm: Wil Wheaton and his crew at Geek & Sundry have designated this Saturday as the day that the whole world should find a table, some chairs, and a bunch of friends to celebrate our wonderful hobby. We’ll be playing games all day at the shop, swing on by to run a game or jump in on one. And yes, we’ll have stuff to give away, but aint nothing gonna stop the gaming!
Dames & Games Saturday, May 7, 7pm, $3: No smelly boys allowed, this is a night for just ladies at the tables. Come join the fun, beer and wine service available.
Game Club Thursdays, 4:30-6:30pm, $10: Got some young minds at home interested in playing some board games? Send ’em on over every Thursday afternoon and we’ll get them thinking and laughing!
Tabletop Season 4 Lineup Announced: Wil Wheaton has announced the game line-up for the fourth season of Tabletop, an online series showing games being played by Wheaton and others. The titles being featured include Eldritch Horror, Codenames, Mysterium, Flash Point, Star Realms, Champions of Midgard, Steam Park, and Star Trek: Five-Year Mission. I’d expect a bit of role-playing in that last one, assuming they use The Next Generation role cards, which seems like a must. Filming begins before the end of April, and Wheaton expects to start publishing episodes in June or July 2016.
Origins Award Nominees: The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design has announced their nominees for the Origins hobby show awards (see the full list here). These awards are always a bit contentious among the hardcore hobby community because, although they are nominated by a jury, the final votes come from Origins show attendees, a group that can easily be swayed by great promotions on the show floor. Still, there are some great games in the nominee lists, any of your favorites?
MENSA Board Game Awards: The minds of the MENSA society have met, played many games, and voted on their favorites. Again, some fine titles in the list (which is here). New York 1901 is an Origins nominee and now a MENSA winner, and we are ashamed to admit that none of us have tried the game yet. Guess what I’m bringing to the table at the next game night?
Stonemeier Legacy Game Announced: The legacy game format has become crazy popular with its chaining together of successive game sessions into one larger story. Now the popular kickstarter publisher Stonemeier games will be producing their own title. For the most part, legacy games have presented players with extreme situations — global warfare, global pandemics, the dawning of civilization, a shortage of furry costumes — but designer Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games is taking a different approach with a legacy design of his own, one that isn’t so doomy and gloomy. In Charterstone — which carries a 20-60 min. playing time for 1-6 players — players compete to populate a village, a village that starts off with almost nothing, but which becomes larger, with more options available, in subsequent games. Look for us to be offering kickstarter packages to customers once Stegmeier gives the word!
New Game Announcements: (PS, we offer 20% off preorders of these products, though the discounts on kickstarter titles may vary):
Cheers everyone and happy gaming!
We’re back folks, we survived, and we had a blast. The entire full time staff essentially got a Vegas vacation, with a little ‘work’ thrown in, but the kind of work we do at GAMA hardly feels like work. We have to throw out a huge thank you to our friend Carissa, without her covering the shop not all of us would have made it to Vegas. If there is one advantage to being small, it’s the personal perks we get by being able to engage with all of our customers, and being able to establish long term relationships with many of them.
So what did we see at GAMA? Well there are two sides to the show. I approach the show primarily as a business guy, after all, this stuff is how I keep my heat on and feed my face, and I’ve also got a few people relying on me for paychecks to feed their own faces. Every now and then my inner child pops out, but overall I’m far too serious at these trade shows. Luckily, the rest of the gang helps balance me out. They are able to step much further back from the business than I am, and their passion for the hobby shines just as it would with any tabletop game enthusiast.
So from the hobby passion perspective, we saw and played some great stuff. Star Wars Rebellion was there in all of its epic glory. The miniatures, and they are truly mini, look amazing, but do we really expect anything less from Fantasy Flight at this point? Pandemic Cthulhu was on display, and we can attest to the fact that while it will feel like Pandemic, it will also be very different. Outbreaks now have character, in the form of old ones, each with their own unique way to drive you nuts. Z-Man also had Knit Wit to show off, and we’re all excited to get this very attractive Scattergories-style word game to the table. Tasty Minstrel had a fake Guild of London box on display essentially to say ‘yeah, we’re gonna make it.’ Iello had a handful of new titles, and I enjoyed each that I played, including Sea of Clouds and Happy Pigs. I actually really enjoyed Quadropolis too, by Days of Wonder, and discovered that it is far more into the Five Tribes end of the pool than the Ticket to Ride end. Finally, Onitama was awesome as a highly replayable 2-player abstract game.
So that was our GAMA in a nutshell, excluding all of the extracurricular activities. But really, we’re tame folks, we are still nerds after all. We may be a little more vanilla flavored, but we’re nerds nonetheless! Game on everyone, and stay dry!
GAME NIGHT CANCELLED March 16!!!
Hey folks, our entire crew will be in Las Vegas March 14-17 for the Game Retailers and Manufacturers (GAMA) trade show. This is a time for us to regroup, learn from some of the best in the business, and meet some great industry people, including publishers, designers, and podcasters.
The shop will be open normal hours except for Wednesday – we’ll be closing at 7pm instead of staying open late for Game Night. Sorry about that, but our amazing substitute game expert cannot work a 12 hour day.
We’ll keep everyone abreast of exciting news and just general fun via our social media sites, so stay tuned and see you on the other side!
2. Star Realms
4. Cardline Animals
5. Boss Monster
9. Sushi Go!
10. Forbidden Island
2. Adventure of Marco Polo
3. Oh my Goods!
9. The Game
10. Grand Austria Hotel
2. Merchants and Marauders Seas of Glory
3. Prodigal’s Club
4. The Gallerist
5. Voyages of Marco Polo
7. The Game
9. Epic Card Game
10. Flick ’em Up
So how’s that for very different lists? For many reasons, it’s sort of a bummer that Cards Against Humanity still tops the bestseller list. My biggest concern is the lack of crossover, that is, customers who come in looking for CAH have zero interest in other products.
I’m going with Codenames as the single most influential game of the year. It is an excellent party game that will sell for years to come, and has the opportunity to expose many people to the modern world of games. If we can get Vlaada a little tipsy, maybe he’ll make the dirty version of Codenames, and wham-o, we have the next Cards Against Humanity. Seriously though, the hobby needs more games like Codenames and Spyfall because not everyone wants to brain burn all the time, especially your non-gamer friends and family.
My list and Ben’s list would have more crossover, but I limited my list to games that were available on American retail shelves in 2015. We played some fantastic games that debuted at the Spiel convention in Essen, Germany, but some of those games did not ship to retailers in 2015.
As far as my #1, TIME Stories was the single most unique gaming experience I had this year. Yes, it’s $50 for one playthrough (three sessions though). Yes, the final puzzle bothered us a bit. Yes, the third session was a bit lackluster compared to our first two sessions. But despite all the quibbles, I enjoyed the heck out of it, and want to play more. There is no other game on the market quite like it.
Final thoughts for 2015, it was a pretty incredible year for the hobby. We had amazing releases across all genres. GenCon was fairly meh this year compared to previous years, but the Spiel was amazing, and we will see the fruits of that show during the next few months.
Hobby board game sales grew nationwide, for both online and offline channels. The hobby is becoming more and more mainstream, due in part to great games, but great game media is contributing in a big way. The increasing shift in purchasing away from brick and mortar towards the many online forms (Kickstarter, direct to publisher, Amazon) still threatens the longevity of the hobby, but there is plenty of time to shift the tide.
Asmodee made a bold statement at the end of the year about the importance of brick and mortar stores and the third place they provide. If more publishers embrace this mentality, and Kickstarter publishers find ways to include retailers, all sales channels benefit long-term. Think about your own regular game groups, how important was a third place (store, pub, cafe) in creating those groups? Hopefully 2016 will bring more interest in long-term growth over short-term gain, it starts with the publishers!
Happy 2016 everyone, enjoy your game gifts!