Archive for January, 2005

Rio Grande Begins the New Year

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

Rio Grande Games has just posted their first newsletter of 2005. Rather surprisingly, yet another Carcassonne expansion is on the way, this time with a fantasy theme. Carcassonne: The Princess and the Dragon is due out in March. I don’t know about anyone else, but even though this is one of my favorite German-style games, the expansions and variants seem to be coming out faster than I can afford to buy them all! Hmmm.

Endless franchises aside, several other titles have been announced: Around the World in 80 Days, a race board game inspired by Jules Verne; Louis XIV, a game of intrigue in the royal court; Tower of Babel, a Reiner Knizia design involving the construction of the wonders of the world; and Gone Fishing, a two-player affair in which one person controls two fisherman and the other controls a fish population. It’s good to see we’re starting another year with quite a bit of variety!

The fine line between stupid and awesome has just been erased for good

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

“Topps has scheduled The Dozens, the collectible card game created by the Wayans brothers and based on the ancestor-insulting contests popular in urban neighborhoods, for late April or early May.”

CyborGladiators built for speed

Monday, January 24th, 2005

The folks at Firefly Games want to bring more warriors into the fold, so they’ve made FastPlay rules for CyborGladiators freely available for download. The “futuristic arena mayhem” game’s FastPlay version comes with four pre-made cyborg warriors and an arena to slaughter them in. Naturally, the full version of CyborGladiators is still readily available.

Avalon Hill gets +5, trample

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

Yeah, that joke really doesn’t make sense, but, I mean, that’s a lot of stuff. I know it probably just means half of it will get postponed or killed, but still, this is kind of thrilling. A reprint of RoboRally is in fact on the schedule for an Origins-ish timeframe (but don’t expect it at the show), plus a revamp of Monsters Ravage America and at least three things that look substantially new (first on deck is the previously discussed Sword and Skull). And – wait for it – much, much more. Wow. War games, trad games, card games, new games, old games. This is hot.

Shut your mouth! Just talkin’ ’bout Solid!

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

After non-paying creditors caused OtherWorld Creations to announce the halt of production on nearly all products, a partnership with Wingnut Games has allowed the much-anticipated Solid! to approach completion. Using d20 Modern rules, Solid!: The D20 Blaxploitation Experience “allows players to experience the soul, power, and action of the movies that defined a generation.” At $17.99 for a 64-page hardcover, I’d expect Solid! to sell reasonably well based on novelty alone, and if the rules are — um, solid, the book should be a strong seller when it hits stores next month.

This is yet another example of game companies combining their efforts and resources to get a product into stores, after a year of sliding product release dates and decreased sales throughout most of the industry. Heck, if Mongoose is doing the upcoming WARS RPG for Decipher, and Green Ronin is doing the new Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for Games Workshop, why can’t the smaller guys join together and form a small Voltron too?

Invisible City Finds Dinosaurs, Explodes

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

It’s been a few months since I’ve posted an Invisible City update, but that hasn’t deterred them from producing several new free games in the meantime. If you need something new to do with your Icehouse set, be sure to check out SpellCycles, a strategic pattern-making game, or the more recent Blam!, a simple abstract strategy game with a forceful core mechanic. If you don’t have Icehouse pieces, you can still try Dino Dig, a simulation of paleontological exploration using printable pieces and a standard poker deck. As always, a spectacular value for the money!

Mike’s self-important year-end editorial: Do Market Research Or Die

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

Okay. We all know about the highest-profile product-launch disaster of the year. Let’s talk briefly about another launch, that of the Call of Cthulhu CCG. It went well, right? Sure it did. Well, except for that month or so when it wasn’t so easy for retailers to get starter decks. Before that month, the game had a level of enthusiasm behind it (at our local store, at least) that hadn’t been seen behind a new CCG in years. After that month, though? Virtually no starter deck sales to new players.

Could this have been avoided? Yes, if Fantasy Flight had known how many starters they should really have printed. But could anyone have known that? Yes, if retailers had preordered the product in quantities that reflected how excited their customers would actually be. But can retailers know that with any precision? Sometimes they can. Other times, they have to rely on the pre-release promotion efforts of game publishers.

How good are those efforts? Let’s just say that FFG’s promo work for CoC CCG was about good enough to make most retailers say, “ehh… I guess I’ll order a box.” In short, not good enough.

Publishers need more. They need to come to the battlefield armed with real knowledge about the people who will buy the game, how much they spend on games, what else they play, how old they are. They need to show retailers that they have a plan for the game’s success… which means they must in fact have that plan. Finally, they need a product that will have those buyers and will make that plan possible.

How do publishers get these things? By doing market research.
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Necromancer goes with Kenzer, stays with Sword & Sorcery

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

The march toward separation of development and publishing continues. Necro is apparently quite happy with S&S, but will be moving several of what look to be single adventures through Kenzer & Company beginning in June. I hope the industry fosters more of this kind of in-(or at least inter-)dependence.

Firefly wants haikus (gesundheit)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

The fine folks at Firefly Games, publishers of the not-so-miniature combat game Monster Island, have a new contest. The person who submits the best haiku (monster themed, of course) will be rewarded with a free 30-day membership in Firefly’s new fan club, and the haiku will be published in a future issue of Bottled Lightning, the company’s newsletter. The contest runs until the end of January.
So get to writing.
Your syllabic masterpiece
Could claim the big prize.
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Guardians calls for order

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

LiveJournal posts and RPGnet threads aside, the fact remains that Canadian RPG company Guardians of Order has had a rough time of late. Rumors have circulated that GoO was closing its doors, or had laid off its entire staff to become a struggling company of one member. Though the company has suffered considerable financial loss due to the declining strength of the US Dollar (“nearly a quarter million (Canadian) dollars,” according to President Mark MacKinnon’s statement, below), GoO has stated it will still be releasing anticipated titles such as Tekumel, Dreaming Cities, A Game of Thrones, and BESM Neon Genesis Evangelion. But to make sure that happens, the company is holding a Save GoO Campaign sale, with the stated goal being “to raise $50,000 in US funds in a short period of time so we can continue to publish the great books you have come to expect.”
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