Gaming News and Notes

Second Look—Dog Might Dragon Sheaths

Purple Pawn - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 16:13

The folks at Dog Might sent us their newest wood thing to check out. The Component Collector is a set of eight wooden holders-of-things, each 3.25″ square, with magnets to arrange them on your game table. These are stored in a dice tray that’s about 4.5″ by 6.25″, secured with a strap. Ours was a Crimson-level backer pledge — yes, it’s on Kickstarter right now — with three Square token tiles, one Deck tile, one Double tile (for a few standing cards and two rounded wells for tokens or coins), a Quad tile (with four rounded wells for smaller tokens), a Bowl, and a Counter (with a dial numbered from 0-9).

As you may have guessed, these are for you to hold board game components in. For some games, these will hold everything — we tried this with our latest game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and it worked pretty well (although we kept the disease cubes in petri dishes). For other games, you can use these to hold your player-specific bits. “Using this at a complex game like Scythe, you feel like you have your own little command center,” said Michael Konas, Dog Might co-founder.

For the project, you choose the eight tiles included in your product. In addition to variety of different-shaped wells for tokens, they also offer tiles with a first player marker that you can pass around to other players, an angled deck holder, and one that is designed to act as a coaster for a can or bottle at the game table. (Not that I suspect the type of person to buy a high-end game upgrade like this would chance having a drink that could spill on the same playing space as a board game.)

Most of the games I have that could use a product like The Component Collector really feature small plastic or wooden tokens. For my games, the curved bowl were easier to use than the square. We didn’t try this with a game that required a deck of cards for the Deck tile to really be useful — most games we have with cards actually have multiple decks of cards (and we only had the one Deck tile) or there were dedicated spaces on the game board for decks. I could see us using the Slots tile (with four slots for standing cards) or the Card tile (one slot, plus a large rounded well for tokens.

I really like the dice tray the tiles are contained in. It’s a small component that’s there to keep the tiles contained and works great as a dice tray. Plus, like the tiles, the tray has rare earth neodymium magnets on the short sides (the tiles have them on all four sides), allowing for them to connect up to the rest of your command center.

Based on all that, should you get a set? These are cool, but you’d have to really look over your game collection and decide which combination of tiles will suit your game play best. For my collection, that’s probably one Slots (four standing cards), one Card (one standing slot + large token well), one Dual (two coin-like holders), three or four Bowls (rounded, for tokens), and maybe two or one Squares (square, flattened token well). And while they’re cool…I’d really be happy if I had just one set for common components, like the research stations and disease cubes in Pandemic, or a selection of them in multiple colors (which Dog Might offers) so everyone at the table can have their own set. It’s a cool-looking add-on, that’s for certain.

Currently on Kickstarter (ending in 6 days!), a base Component Collector (in Whitewood with a standard set of tiles) is available at $44. Five dollars more gets you a set in Kentucky Coffetree wood with a choice of tiles. There’s a large selection of other woods in the $54 to $64, and even more at higher price points made from luxurious wood types. Combo packs, extra large Collectors (with 12 tiles and larger dice tray), and more are offered.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Word Slamming My Way Through Origins 2017

Board Game News - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:17

by W. Eric Martin

My apologies for the quietness in this space since the end of the 2017 Origins Game Fair, which corresponded with the launching of the Gen Con 2017 Preview, but in the past three days I've eaten only a banana, a piece of toast, a handful of cereal, a can of soup (over two days), a handful of chips, and two bowls of blueberries — this after ending my Origins with the eating, followed by the rapid uneating, of a turkey BLT (botulism-laden-terrorwich).

I had hoped to jump immediately into Gen Con preview updates once Origins ended as I knew that my inbox would be flooded with messages from publishers who having now cleared the hurdles in Columbus could set their sights on the next obstacle ahead in Indianapolis, and lo, that flood did miraculously appear to test the gates of my Gmail dam, but I couldn't manage to do more than sit upright every so often and admire the light reflecting on the surface on my unusually untouched laptop. Now that I'm finally up again, I'll start draining the backlog, but let's start with something simpler: a recap of my Origins 2017 experience:

There you go. Word Slam. Origins recapped!

BGG's Scott Alden and Lincoln Damerst had raved about Inka and Markus Brand's Word Slam after seeing it demonstrated on camera in the BGG booth at SPIEL 2016, and when Thames & Kosmos donated an English-language copy to the BGG library for BGG.CON 2017 Spring in late May, Scott started playing it obsessively — yet somehow I caught only his simultaneously active Kreus obsession during that show. (More on that game another day.)

At Origins 2017, Scott asked, "You haven't played Word Slam yet? Oh, man, you have to." So we played the game on air once we finished the scheduled game demonstrations on Wednesday. Then he brought it to the Nerd Nighters fundraising event on Thursday, and I joined in after it had already been on the table an hour to play for three more hours, with people coming and going constantly as they often do with Codenames and Concept. We played again on camera on Friday; we talked about the game on Lone Shark Live: Origins by Night, a three-night podcast from Origins hosted by Mike Selinker, Paul Peterson, and James Ernest; we played on dinky tables on Saturday night with people once again coming and going; and we played yet again on Sunday night, with me leaving the table only because my sandwich has different plans for its future than I had intended.

Erin Dontknowherlastname, Paul Grogan, Mike Selinker, Scott Alden, Josh Githens, Chad Krizan

For those who don't know the game, Word Slam is played in teams, with the members of each team trying to guess the same hidden noun phrase. One member on each team knows this noun phrase — which can be anything from butterfly to mountain to the Golden Gate Bridge to Forrest Gump — and to get their teammates to guess it, they can use only a set of one hundred words that is provided to each team. Words are color-coded as nouns, adjectives, verbs, and other, and you can place words on your rack, point at words on your rack, move words around on your rack, take words off the rack, and otherwise do some combination of "word" VERB "rack" as long as you don't animate the cards to give clues. Those guessing must yell out answers so that their guesses can be heard by the other team, which is a secondary form of clue and something that your cluegiver might be able to take advantage of.

I think the rules specify that you keep the words in piles, but we often played otherwise, spreading them out in order to view everything at once, with word combinations popping out at me like strands of the Matrix being read by Neo. (New players can find this approach overwhelming and should be presented with stacks of cards as recommended so that they're not hit in the eyes with one hundred words at once. Even experienced players might prefer this approach if they don't like scanning the way that most of us did.)

As with the previously mentioned Concept, the beauty of Word Slam is the (restricted) openness available to players when trying to convey some idea to others. You don't have the freedom to do anything, but you have the freedom to do hundreds of different things. You have tools spread out on the table, and you try to make them work as well as you can. Sometimes you find a magic tool that unlocks understanding in a second — as when someone put up the single word "run" and someone else answered "Forrest Gump" — sometimes you create a word poem that does the trick (with "big" "up" "place" being correctly interpreted as "mountain"), and sometimes you labor at something forever, the clarity of the concept in your mind somehow not transmitting itself across the aether into theirs. I tend to tell stories with my clues, and my concept for "lawyer" took a while, with me moving around cards constantly, but finally getting across the notion of an event happening, then someone speaking the opposite of what happened.

Yes, that's a stereotype, but Word Slam invites you to take advantage of those stereotypes while also frustrating you with them at the same time. The game doesn't include a card for "person", for example — only cards for "man", "woman", and "child" — so any time you use "man" or "woman" in a clue, you risk misleading the guessers who might think that gender plays a role in the answer when it doesn't.

The frustration comes in many flavors: Sometimes you remove words from the rack because it turns out they were misleading, but sometimes you want to remove words from the rack because you needed them only to get guessers thinking along a certain line. Scott, for example, struggled with a word for a while until he finally had us guess Italy by clueing "country" "red" "food", after which he removed those words to work on the actual answer, which was something that originated in Italy. Will guessers understand why you removed those words? Maybe! Play with someone for a few hours, though, and you get a real sense of their clue-giving style.

Cheating comes into play because it's hard to fight human nature. You're not supposed to point to guessers when they say something close or dismiss a guess by waving your hand, but sometimes you can't help yourself. I was clueing "Golden Gate Bridge" with something like "vehicle on long red object" and circling "long red object" with my fingers to indicate that was the vital part of the clue when someone on my team shouted out "San Francisco". I jerked in response because those two things are so closely associated (and I lived in SF years ago, so something triggered there, too, I think), and while that answer wasn't correct, my response indicated that the person was close and they got "Golden Gate Bridge" almost immediately. Whoops. Thankfully we were not in the world finals of the Word Slam competition and were content to just move on to the next game.

Where Word Slam differs from Concept is that you compete against another team, so instead of simply being a fun activity that continues for hours, you do have a sense of winning and losing — even if you don't keep score, which we never did. One team wins, yay!, then the cluegivers give up their spots to someone else (or they don't), and you go again. The game includes easy, medium, hard, and ridiculously hard noun phrases to guess, with six noun phrases on each card. Over time you will run into repeats; Scott had already cycled through the cards enough that he encountered repeats, and if he was guessing, he could sometimes jump to the answer because he had heard it before. If he was giving the clues, he might reject one noun phrase and suggest that the other cluegiver choose another number from 1 to 6 since he would have an advantage on how to clue it. (If you know the one hundred words well, you'll still have an advantage on newcomers, but no sense compounding those advantages!)

I played one or two other games during the 2017 Origins Game Fair, but given that I played Word Slam for 7-8 hours and would have played it even more if possible, it's easy to see what my game of the show is!

Oh, and I also saw this lady at Origins: Best costume ev-AR!

Beauty and the Beast
Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Game Bandit

Purple Pawn - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 10:03

In celebration of the company’s fourth anniversary, Board Game Innovation is running a sale on it’s board game overlays.

WizKids is also celebrating an anniversary, 15 years of HeroClix, and with that is running a video contest where the prize is 15,000 points of HeroClix.

GameWire, GTS Distribution, and Asmodee NA are giving away a free trip to Gen Con, including travel, accommodations, and badge registration.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Sagrada from Floodgate Games and CarCosa from One Free Elephant.

In honor of the game winning an Origins Award, Monte Cook Games is taking 10% off the price of No Thank You, Evil!.

One Small Step is holding a Summer Sale.

Escapist Deals, the online shop of Escapist Magazine, is selling Deception: Murder in Hong Kong from Grey Fox Games for 25% off and COGZ from RAEZ for 19% off.

Available from Bundle of Holding are two special package deals for King Arthur Pendragon and one for Cyberpunk 2020.

Amazon deals:

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

More Details on Hasbro Gaming Crate Subscription Service

Purple Pawn - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 02:12

Hasbro has begun accepting orders for its quarterly board game subscription service. For $50 + shipping, Hasbro Gaming Crate comes in two varieties, each with three games.

The first Family Crate will feature Mask of the Pharaoh, which the company describes as a “cooperative virtual-reality board game.” One player describes what they see in a VR mask (mobile device and app required), while the other players, following that description, assemble game tiles in a path to the hidden treasure.

The first Party Crate will feature Joe Santagato Speak Out, an adults-only version of Hasbro’s mouthpiece game. Internet comedian Joe Santagato worked with Hasbro to develop their first Speak Out game but this one is described as “edgy” and “NSFW”.

Both crates are expected to deliver in August. Use promo code “HGCFREESHIP” for free shipping.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Gen Con 2017 Preview Now Live

Board Game News - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 13:54

by W. Eric Martin

The 2017 Origins Game Fair is over, so it's time to look ahead to Gen Con 2017, which takes place August 17-20 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I'd say more about one or both of these shows, or the rate at which titles will be added to the Gen Con 2017 Preview over the next two months (which starts at 146 titles while the previous two years had about 550 on them), but I got sick at the end of Origins — bad sandwich, I think — and can barely think straight, so just have at it!
Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Second Look—Picassimo

Purple Pawn - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 13:16

When I think of HABA games, I instantly think of cute, fun games in yellow boxes for preschoolers and the early school age set. So that’s why I was surprised when I saw Picassimo at the New York Toy Fair earlier this year. It’s a game for eight and up, fun for family members of all ages, and — what really threw me — the yellow HABA box branding was completely absent from the box. Let’s dig in.

The game itself is a variation on the “charades, but drawn” genre of gaming popularized by Hasbro’s Pictionary (1985) and re-implemented in several other party board games. Here, the big thing is the board you’re drawing on is broken into six tiles. Finish your drawing and then you swap two tiles, then two more, mixing up your clean, simple illustration and it goes from this

to this

Everyone draws, everyone rearranges the same tiles, and one by one the players try to determine what was drawn. Get ’em right? Drawer and guesser gets three points. Need to return some of the tiles to the original spaces? Fewer points. Once seven rounds are over, high score wins!

I ran the game with two ten-year olds, who both loved the game. “I want this game!” exclaimed my daughter’s friend. Playing with the wife and our daughter, we all had a hilarious time.

The only caveat I had is even though the game says it’s for ages eight and up, and there are over 900 things to illustrate, some of the topic cards featured things that weren’t familiar to the younger crowd. I know what “currywurst” is — mainly because I lived in Germany for a few years — but my 10 year old? Luckily, each card has six terms ready to draw, so this wasn’t much of a problem.

That last bit probably came about because HABA usually publishes language-independent games and this one is All Words. Published in six languages, they use a clever way to not have to do localized versions: each card is double-sided with colored backgrounds on each line. These are placed next to a language card: a flag with three similarly-colored arrows. English-speaking players? The green arrows on the English card lines up with the green English terms, so you know you’ll be looking at the line that says “bathtub” and not the ones that say “Badewanne” or “Baignoire”. (Oddly, the English line is the only one of six languages — German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Dutch are the others — that doesn’t capitalize the first letter of the word.) We found it very easy to find which word we’re to draw.

Drawing is quick, using dry-erase markers on the tiles, and rearranging the tiles to reveal that what you thought was an obvious drawing now looks crazy is fun. You’ll have to be a bit careful when swapping tiles to avoid accidentally brushing the drawing, but the tiles and drawing surfaces are designed to help moving the pieces around. Plus you’re playing among friends and family, right? Let people touch up anything they might have wiped.

Picassimo — did I mention it was fun? — was well-received by players of multiple ages. It plays from 3 to 6 players in about a half hour. The game retails for $44.99. Find out more about Picassimo at

A copy of Picassimo was provided by HABA USA free for review.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Geek Chic No More

Purple Pawn - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 13:10

Geek Chic, maker of high-end custom gaming tables, has closed up shop. Four years ago, the company appeared to come out of the television show, Shark Tank, with an investment but that deal fell through. Two years ago, the company announced the launch of an exclusive event service that that never materialized. And a more recent arrangement with Crash Games also dissolved. Now the company’s core furniture-building business has ceased operations.

Though Geek Chic may be finished, the idea of there being a market for expensive add-ons for well-healed hobby gamers lives on with custom box inserts, hand crafted wood dice trays, and still several other companies making custom game tables.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes
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