Archive for June, 2010

OgreCave review – Giants

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

GiantsSometimes you find a game that speaks to you, and really hits that sweet spot between strategic play and rewarding fun. For OgreCave reviewer Demian, Giants is one of those “sweet” games, forcing players to juggle resources – and even work together at times – to get those giant statues built and score the most points. Have a look at his review to find out what makes this Asmodee release from last year a great choice to add to your collection.

2010 Origins Award winners announced

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Though the news trickled out in other ways, the 2010 Origins Award winners have finally been announced. Among the highlights: the rerelease of Space Hulk beat out Small World for Best Board Game; Looney Labs continues its streak with a Best Party Game win for Are You the Traitor?; the return of WizKids and HeroClix gets a nod for Best Miniatures Line; and Eclipse Phase wins for Best RPG. (Click through to read the full list.)

Dixit wins 2010 Spiel des Jahres award

Monday, June 28th, 2010

It’s that time of year again, and we’ve learned Germany’s game of the year award for 2010 (better known as the Spiel des Jahres, but you knew that) is Dixit by Jean-Louis Roubira (Libellud/Asmodee). The storytelling-meets-Apples to Apples game is back in stock according to Asmodee, so if you want to grab a copy, it should be available.

I posted what I know of the nominees a few weeks ago, but here’s the list again, in case you want to test drive a couple selections for yourself:

  • Dixit, the winner (Libellud/Asmodee)
  • Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age from Eagle Games/Pegasus Spiele (by Pandemic designer Matt Leacock, who I recently interviewed for our Gaming News Update podcast)
  • Portrayal by William P. Jacobson and Amanda A. Kohout (Asmodee)
  • A la Carte by Karl-Heinz Schmiel (Moskito/Heidelberger)
  • Fresco by Marco Ruskowski and Marcel Süßelbeck (Queen Games)

Congratulations again to all the nominees, and to Dixit for winning this year’s award.

OgreCave review – Cthulhu Dice

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Steve Jackson Games knew all too well: dice and Cthulhu make a tempting combination for many gamers. At just $5, you probably have friends who’ve already given in and picked up a set or two of this recent game release, if only for the sweet Cthulhu die. But how is the game itself? Demian gives us the short-but-sweet answer in his review, after which you may resume your hunt for a glow-in-the-dark set.

Free RPG Day 2010 is here!

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

If you missed our interview from KublaCon, you didn’t hear Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions talk about today – that is, Free RPG Day ’10. Yes, it’s today. Hopefully, you’re at a participating store right now, or you soon will be. If not, listen to our interview, try not to weep over the fun and freebies you’re missing, and if we hear of any other free goodies today you can take advantage of, we’ll post ’em here.

Days of Wonder Approaches 20 Million Games Played, Plans Apple iPad Giveaway

Friday, June 18th, 2010

To commemorate the 20 millionth game that will soon play out on the Days of Wonder Online digital board games network, Days of Wonder announced its best Online Giveaway yet. In a nod to its recent release of the best selling Small World for iPad digital board game on the App store, Days of Wonder will be giving away a new Apple iPad Wi-Fi 16 GB, and a copy of Small World for iPad, to the winner of its 20,000,000th game. Additionally, all other participants in that 20,000,000th game will receive a nice consolation prize – an 8GB Apple iPod Touch. All Days of Wonder Online members are eligible to participate in this giveaway by playing any Days of Wonder Online games including: the Ticket to Ride series, Gang of Four, Fist of Dragonstones, or Queen’s Necklace.

Ticket to Ride World Championships Broadcast on June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The Ticket to Ride World Championship will take place on June 19 in the Musée de la Carte à Jouer (Card Game Museum) in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. Days of Wonder held national and regional competitions around the globe to find the best TTR player in the world. Seven total champions were crowned. They are from North America, the Benelux countries, France, Spain, Germany, Poland, and the UK. Those seven champions plus one additional runner-up from North America will compete head-to-head, playing several games on the various maps of Ticket to Ride. The one who performs the best will then be declared Ticket to Ride World Champion and win a trip for two on the legendary Orient-Express. The championship games will be broadcast live by the Tric Trac TV Team and on the Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride World Championship page starting at noon in the GMT+2 timezone. According to a handy internet time converter, this is the equivalent of 6:00 AM EST in the United States on June 19.

OgreCave GNU: Matt Leacock (Forbidden Island)

Monday, June 14th, 2010

We’ve all marveled at the elegant way certain games work, and the cooperative masterpiece Pandemic has impressed more than its fair share of gamers. In our latest Gaming News Update interview, I caught up with Matt Leacock, the man behind Pandemic, as he celebrated his new cooperative game, Forbidden Island. The new release was all the rage at last month’s KublaCon, and gamers came out to Dr Comics & Mr Games in Piedmont, CA to play GameWright‘s foray into cooperative games with the man himself. Have a listen for Matt’s thoughts on game design, giving “life” to games that defeat players, being nominated for this year’s Spiel des Jahres award (for Roll Through the Ages), and more.

Cooperative Space Hulk in the cards

Friday, June 11th, 2010

In my high school days, when free time was more plentiful and friends didn’t have jobs or families yet, it was common for us to spend all afternoon on a game of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk. Well, as common as I could make it – after a while, some of my friends grew tired of sending squad after squad of space marines to near-certain doom in genestealer-infested derelict ships. I usually got to play the genestealers, and as such, often ended up winning, which I didn’t grow tired of at all. In any case, years later, the end result has been that we all have less time to game together, and I seem to be the only one always down for some Space Hulk.

Fantasy Flight’s upcoming Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game, due out this summer, may help me get my fix, and convince my buddies to give it another try as well. Playable in 30 minutes to an hour, Death Angel lets each player control a set of two space marines as they try to destroy the alien threat. Location cards will determine how many critters the squad will face, Action cards will determine what marines are doing, and troopers’ facing will still be important. Since cooperative games are the growing trend lately, that’s exactly what Death Angel players will get – if even one marine completes the mission, everyone wins; if not, everyone loses. Up to six players can join in, and even if I can’t find anyone to help me quell the xeno threat, the game can be played solitaire (in which case, I’d control three sets of marines).

It occurs to me that cooperative is what Space Hulk always should have been. Yeah, we could make teams, but it’s not quite the same – if we had all played against the game, against the inscrutable, automatic advance of the game’s genestealers instead of against the genestealer player, it might have been even more exciting and memorable. This iteration of the the Space Hulk theme could be just what I need to entice a few volunteers to go into Overwatch and blast some ‘stealer scum.

Monsterpocalypse film in the works

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Hollywood’s been shopping for games again, and now DreamWorks may be courting Tim Burton to direct a feature film based on the Monsterpocalypse property. DreamWorks picked up the movie rights to Privateer Press’ collectible miniatures game last month, and is working on forming the right team to make big screen kaiju magic. My question: will fans be thrilled or worried by the idea of their city-stomping aliens and monsters potentially getting the Nightmare Before Christmas animation treatment?

2010 Spiel des Jahres nominees announced

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I’m a little behind on this, but since I’ve finally played one of this year’s nominees for Germany’s game of the year award (better known as Spiel des Jahres), I thought I’d research the others a bit and get to know them. In no particular order, this year’s nominees are:

  • Roll Through the Ages: a Yahtzee-ish strategic dice game by Pandemic designer Matt Leacock.
  • Dixit: a popular party game that plays similarly to Apples to Apples.
  • Portrayal: another party game known in Germany as Identik, wherein players draw an image based on a description before learning what criteria it will be judged by.
  • A la Carte: a lighthearted game of food preparation, with spice “cubes” that are shaken out onto dishes, and too much spice can ruin the food.
  • Fresco: a more strategic game where players manage a team of artisans as they work to restore a fresco in a renaissance church.
  • The Kinderspiel des Jahres nominees were also announced – Diego Drachenzahn, Kraken-Alarm, Panic Tower!, Vampire der Nacht, and Turi-Tour.

There’s no clear winner in the listed nominees, but of the shortlisted group, I’ve just played Dixit over the weekend. It gets described as having “gorgeous” artwork, and having looked through the full color cards, I can see why – but I found the game’s style more quirky and weird than most… like Salvador Dali was running the art department. Not bad at all, just weird. Still, a neat variation on the peer-judged mechanic made famous by Apples to Apples, with a touch of storytelling thrown in for flavor.

[EDIT]: I’ve just interviewed Roll Through the Ages designer Matt Leacock in our Gaming News Update podcast feed, so be sure to have a listen. – A

OgreCave review – Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

OgreCave reviewer Lee Valentine has fought through hordes of the walking dead, and returned to tell us all about it – namely, all about Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead. This zombie apocalypse board game revolves around resource management and worldwide doom, but what was Lee’s impression of it? Read on, and arm yourself with knowledge for the end of civilization.

WizKids/NECA to develop Star Trek Clix game

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Though I doubt it will be the final frontier for the game, WizKids/NECA announced today that it will make a Clix game using the Star Trek license. More specifically, the company will create “HeroClix branded miniature games to be sold both physically and digitally, set in the Star Trek universe, including all of the Star Trek television shows and Star Trek feature films.” The interesting bit (other than a new collectible Star Trek game) is the word “digitally” – could this mean a Star Trek Clix iPhone app, maybe? Time will tell. Gamers will get their first opportunity to boldly go where no Clix have gone before this December 2010. I say, tribbles versus borg, aaannnd… fight!

WotC PR breaks losing streak with D&D Encounters

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I never thought I’d hear first about a D&D organized-play initiative from CNN. (Well, I guess technically I heard from Mike Mearls’ Twitter feed, but that’s 2010 for you. I sure don’t mean to suggest that CNN is relevant in the bigger scheme of things.) This piece completely reads like it was pre-assembled and delivered in the manner that PR firms do, but A) it’s frankly reassuring to see that Wizards can still manage to get that done, and B) I’m actually impressed by the specific content they’re doing it with. D&D Encounters is a way more strategic move than it looks like.

Time has been one of the key things plaguing the public perception of D&D since the ’80s. Along with the need to study tomes of minutiae, the long playing time which D&D demands by default leads more or less directly to non-players feeling like D&D is either some sort of cult or an all-absorbing lifestyle rather than what it is: a fun hobby that doesn’t noticeably hurt anyone. Directly attacking the time issue is strategic on WotC’s part in a very specific sense of the word: it makes things better on multiple fronts. It makes D&D take an amount of time that people expect a game to take, and thereby says “hey, this is just a harmless game,” much more effectively than, well, saying so in a press release. It addresses the needs of older gamers, and thereby gets word out that D&D players are older than they used to be. It puts a very much non-digital D&D game into the media, to help repair the PR debacle that was the Virtual Play Table announcement. And on and on.

I think the fact that CNN picked up this story at all, even just on the web site, lends a lot of credence to the idea that playing time is, or was, a major squick factor for the mainstream. That is my theory, which is mine. And for the rest of us, hey, a series of bite-sized Dark Sun previews.

OgreCave GNU: KublaCon – Free RPG Day ’10

Monday, June 7th, 2010

We’ve returned from our annual pilgrimage to KublaCon (well, it was a week ago, but you get the idea), and we have a Gaming News Update interview to share from the event. Take a few minutes to check out our talk with Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions on Free RPG Day ’10. He gives us the rundown of what to watch for at this year’s event (at a store near you on June 19th), and we discuss Free RPG Day’s success so far, the state of the roleplaying hobby, and sweet dice towers.

Planning to hit your local Free RPG Day this month? Willing to write a couple paragraphs on how it turns out at your store, and maybe send a photo or two? Drop me an email at sven (at) ogrecave (DOT) com with the subject of “Free RPG Day recruit” to help us cover the fourth annual dice-rolling free-for-all. You could see your name up in lights on the Cave wall. Actually, it’s kinda dark in here…