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News From GenCon 2019

When Chris and I were at GenCon this year, we had the chance to sit down with a few of our favorite publishers for some 1 on 1 interviews and get information on upcoming releases from their catalog. I wanted to share some of this info with you guys to aid you in planning your board game purchases. 

Japanime Games

Domina Anthology featuring Argot, Miraris, and Pralaya (2019 4th quarter or 2020 1st quarter expected Kickstarter delivery then retail release) .
This anthology of games from Japanime is illustrated by Qtonagi and features games originally released by Domina from 2015-2017. Argoat is a worker placement game in which players travel trough the land looking for pieces to get to Eden and escape the nightmare of their current reality (bonus – it’s colorblind friendly). Pralaya is  competitive press your luck set collection game reminiscent of Forbidden Island in which your island is sinking and you must collect relics and pay the boatman to get off the island before it sinks. Mirari…

Board Game Review: Teotihuacan

The team at NSKN names (now Board and Dice) sent me a review copy of Teotihuacan and I’ve had the opportunity to play several times in the months since, across all player counts, including solo against the Teotibot. Scholars tell us that Teotihuacan was, in its prime, the largest city in the Americas as well as the sixth largest city in the world. It’s only fitting that a prominent board game designer should make it the focal point of a compelling strategy game. Daniele Tascini is that designer, and in Teotihuacan, players take on the role of noble families working to build the great city and its Pyramid of the Sun while accruing wealth and glory. Odysseas Stamoglou is the artist behind the illustrations and tile carvings in this game. A casual glance from a player like myself (who is not steeped in deep knowledge of Mesoamerican art but has visited the Teotihuacan ruins) observes that the illustrations are reminiscent of the decorations found on structures and items from the famed ci…

Board Game Review: Black Skull Island

Black Skull Island is a quick playing 2-9 player card game from Strawberry Studio (now under the publisher Board and Dice).I was sent a review copy of the game and it only seems to make it onto the table when we need a filler game to serve as an appetizer before a meaty Euro. The gameplay is extremely simply: each player gets 2 pirate themed character cards and selects one of them to play during a round, keeping the other one in hand. Every card is numbered from 0 to 15. All players reveal their character cards simultaneously and then the actions on the cards are executed by the players who hold them in sequential order of the the card numbers. Most actions focus either on (1) drawing booty (treasure cards or coin cards), (2) stealing or deactivating other players’ character cards, (3) stealing or swapping booty cards  from/with another player or (4) an order for all players to pass a character card to their left or right. Over successive rounds, booty cards worth 0-4 coins build up…

Board Game Review: Shadows in Kyoto

That second slice of cheesecake when the Cheesecake factory was running their $0.88 a slice promo. The late night boardgame marathon when I had to work early the next morning. Hosting a dinner party every night for 12 days during the 12 days of Christmas. I fell in love with the idea of all these things, but once I experienced them, I realized they were mismatched to my temperament. They were so enticing, and they whispered to me with promises of fun, but I couldn’t love them the way I wanted to. That’s what Shadows in Kyoto did to me too. I picked up a copy of the game based solely on the artwork. It’s beautiful, as we have come to expect from Maisherly Chan. I should have known what I was getting into because we already own other games that lean heavily toward the abstract - such as Hanamikoji (another game for which Maisherly provided artwork; see my review for it here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1718238/what-jenni-said-about-hanamikoji) - and I have never come to love those…

Board Game Review: Cryptid

My favorite board game as a child in the early 1980s was Clue. Put the clues together, use your deduction skills, and solve the mystery before anyone else. Aha, now you’ve got it! Aren’t you the smart one! Board games have come a long way since then, with increasing complexity in structure and mechanics; deduction games are no exception. If you liked Clue as a child, you’ll probably love Cryptid.Released by Osprey Games, Cryptid is a deduction game designed by Hal Duncan and Ruth Veevers. Players take on the role of cryptozoologists searching for an unidentified cryptid (an animal that people claim exists, but which has yet to be verified) in North America.The geographic search area in Cryptid is comprised of six modular board tiles, which are arranged in rows of two tiles each stacked to form a 2x3 grid, which looks like this:Because the boards can be rotated and moved around, this results in around 46,000 different board set-ups. There are five terrain types possible for each hexago…

Board Game Review: Old West Empresario

T he kind folks at Tasty Minstrel Games (TMG) recently sent me a preview copy of Old West Empresario, which will debut at GenCon 2019 today. We already have about ten TMG games in our collection that we thoroughly enjoy (with Crusaders and Gentes being the most recent additions) and so my husband Chris and I were both feeling pretty good about the chances of this new release being a good fit for us as well. Old West Empresario  picks up its narrative where its prequel, Pioneer Days (also from TMG) left off. Players take on the role of Empresarios, settling the old west. They are charged with building new towns so prosperous and populated that one will be chosen as the state capital, winning the game for its Empresario. As with Pioneer Days, the  artwork from Sergi Marcet reinforces the Western theme and uses bright, appealing colors. I appreciated the racial diversity depicted in the illustrations.Components include double sided building cards, currency tokens, victory point (i.e. pop…

Board Game Review: Cartooner

Japanime recently sent me a review copy of their storytelling game Cartooner  from designer Jason Thompson, and as soon as I read the detailed description of this real-time drawing game I was a bit anxious about playing it. In Cartooner , players take on the role of cartoonists tasked with creating comic strips that carry their artistic vision and the narrative demands of their readers. I am a terrible artist. Stick figure level artistry, if we are being honest. My fragile ego doesn’t always react well to attempting tasks I am terrible at (hello shame and feelings of self-loathing). But all three of my kids love to draw and were quite excited about the game so I reluctantly brought Cartooner to the table one recent afternoon and we gave it a go as a family. In the first round of the game each player is dealt three theme cards which represent their core artistic vision and they must draw a comic strip with two panels during the allotted time period (in student mode, which we played und…

Game Review: Dynamite Nurse

Three years ago Japanime released an English version of Dynamite Nurse (originally published in 2011) via Kickstarter. Although we added this take-that deck building game to our collection earlier this year, it took a bit of time to find some friends from our various gaming circles willing to play the game given the boundary pushing artwork. The character illustrations are in the style of anime - colorful and detailed - but bordering on pornographic. In making a case for the game's merits, I pointed out that Dynamite Nurse is centered on strong female characters (sure, the nurses are barely clothed and poses provocatively but they’re the main focus of the game and hold all the power). Also, the game has an interesting storyline. In Dynamite Nurse, players take on the role of nurses competing to save patients who have been severely wounded while out exploring dungeons. Fun fact: in an odd parenthetical note, the rulebook states the characters are actually doctors that are simply re…

Cerebria: The Card Game

Given the reputation of Mindclash Games as a producer of well themed and sufficiently complex games, I was quite optimistic about getting Cerebria: The Card Game on the table. Designed by István Pócsi and Frigyes Schőberl, the game was released in 2018, and it was due to arrive on my doorstep in March.
Once the box arrived and I saw the cutesy artwork by Villő Farkas, Jamie Sichel, and Pedro A. Alberto, I prepared a little space in my heart for the love of the game that was already starting to develop. The illustrations are playful, family friendly, and reflect the theme very well.

In Cerebria: The Card Game, we are organizing and controlling our emotions while toying with the emotions of others. The theming overlaid on the gameplay here works well with regard to what we are doing with our actions, but there is no explanation of who we are or why we are in this situation we find ourselves. I would have liked to see a better developed contextual narrative for the game.
Thanks to bus…