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July 2004 Archive

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July 30, 2004

11:45 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Board breaking at GAMA, karate not involved

The new GAMA Board of Directors has hit rough waters already, after being appointed a month ago, and has lost two members. According to the press release sent yesterday (see below), Ryan Dancey has resigned as Treasurer of GAMA after revealing that he had been reading private emails from the GAMA Board of Directors email list for months before running for office. Confidence in the rest of the new board is severely lacking right now, as most of the new appointees were perceived to have run alongside Dancey, who could have provided inside information.

As if to add fuel to rumors already being flung, another press release arrived this afternoon, stating that Chris Watson, GAMA Managing Director since late last year, has been "laid off due to a reorganization of GAMA." And yet, the position is still deemed necessary, as "Anthony Gallela, GAMA's Operations Director has been appointed Interim Managing Director until the board of directors can hire a new Executive Director." Curiouser and curiouser.


10:19 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Pokémon gets up on soapbox

Seems like companies are all searching for that elusive advertising venue these days, that crowd of potential customers that haven't yet realized how badly they need to purchase games and toys. Or maybe I'm just hearing about the various promotional experiments more often, and they were happening all along. Most anything seems fair game, from WizKids' yogurt give-away figures, to Hasbro slinging action figures at a kids' event in Phoenix that featured, of all things, a big mud puddle. Now Nintendo of America is getting inventive with the latest Pokémon promotion, and joining the list of sponsors for the All-American Soap Box Derby tomorrow in Akron, OH (press release below). Makes sense, really. All those kids, at an all-day event with their parents, many of whom will have wallets.

July 29, 2004

01:32 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
The corpse of Twonky rises to feast on the flesh of its enemies

I just keep findin' em! (Confession: here's where - found via GGA.) RoboTournament is a cross-platform, networkable near-clone of RoboRally. The changes are improvements, in my view; at least they're improvements for the online domain. For one, I very much like that the default mode is Deathmatch - Rally was never the best game to be mapped onto RoboRally's system, in my view - but Capture the Flag is a lot more fun. I killed a good hour yesterday playing against the computer. The instructions are not as clear on how to get going as they could be, but be sure to download the server, client and maps appropriate for your OS and you'll do okay. Who wants to fire up some of this action?

July 28, 2004

03:44 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
WizKids' Pirates hit the streets, search for rum

Today's the street date for WizKids' latest innovation, Pirates of the Spanish Main, designed primarily by Mike Selinker and James Ernest. I've managed to get my hands on some packs of the game, and yes, every $3.99 pack has at least two ships, some crew members, treasure, an island, and a tiny six-sided die. The ships are a little more difficult to snap together than I'd like, but it gets easier with practice. Besides, how can you not be enthused by all those sweet ships in the figure gallery?


10:51 AM: Dave Chalker says...
A board game design convention only two blue cards away

This past weekend the first annual Pow Wow conference was held in Charlottesville, Virginia. Like its predecessor Protospiel, the idea was to get together a group of German-style board game designers and have them play each other's prototype games. Each game is then work-shopped, offering suggestions on what works, what doesn't, what could be improved rules-wise and production wise, and even given suggestions on possible publication. The event was hosted by Stephen Glenn (Balloon Cup) and included special guest recent Spiel des Jahres winner Alan Moon (Ticket to Ride). Attendees mostly came from the east coast, though there were a couple people from the Midwest.

July 26, 2004

11:21 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Extended Return of the King scenes online

For you Peter Jackson/Tolkien fans out there, this site has footage of the extra Return of the King scenes from this December's upcoming extended edition previewed at San Diego Comic Con this past weekend. Apparently, the Voice of Sauron appears briefly, and a good time is had by all. Follow the tab that says "Video" to find the download page.


12:21 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Steal a gene, go to jail: it's the law

If there is only one of you, according to the most careful accounting you have available, you can play Space Hulk second edition rules on Windows.

July 22, 2004

10:32 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Rumors of John Wick's death are greatly exaggerated

Hey, so look who shows up all of a sudden! Enemy Gods is the new style being rocked by the famed L5R and Orkworld author, who has a new publishing house and domain name, apparently co-owned by the author of the praised indie game InSpectres. Enemy Gods looks like it's in the same territory as Sorceror and maybe My Life With Master, but with more of a classicist/ass-kicking bent. Good times to be had by all, no doubt. It's good to see new companies admit that they are selling to the already initiated; I'd feel a little better if they didn't say they had print versions for Gen Con, but maybe they essentially just mean printouts. We'll see.

05:49 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
The kimono finally lifts on Doom board game

This interview with FFG's Kevin Wilson over at one o' them video-game sites reveals that, no, Doom: the Boardgame will not in fact be much like Frag. He describes it as "a cross between Heroquest and Space Hulk." Not only will play be scenario-based like the WarCraft board game, but one player will play the baddies, which will actually involve reading out "short bits of descriptive text ... at key moments." That's the closest I've seen a board game of the one-player-against-the-rest type hew to the D&D model in a while. Also, the cyberdemon figures are 3 inches tall. Think spawning one of those will get their attention? Yeah, maybe! This is still scheduled to hit in late fall.


04:00 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Paranoia XP cover posted

According to the development blog as well as the visual evidence, the cover artist of the original Paranoia is back and apparently in fine form. Whether the book is going to be at Gen Con Indy is a matter of crossing one's fingers at this point (and we don't mean crossing them behind your back while assuring your commanding officer of the integrity of the Bouncy Bubble Beverage shipment you were responsible for).

July 21, 2004

03:39 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
When the time limit expires, a giant sneaker fills the screen

So, while I'm thinking about virtual CCGs that cross card gaming with established computer-gaming genres: Magnant is a real-time strategy game driven by card play. The CCG haters among you will be happy to know that any and all actual trading is not implemented yet. The geeks among you might be interested to hear that the engine driving the RTS portion of the game is open source - the Mac users will note that the above means the game is cross-platform. Plus, it's got ants. You like ants, don't you? [Update: there is not, in point of fact, a Mac version yet. The engine is portable, so it should happen, in theory.]

July 20, 2004

03:58 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Werewolf relaunch delayed to February

Originally planned for a November release, White Wolf's Werewolf relaunch, Werewolf: The Forsaken, is now scheduled to arrive in February '05. Why the delay? According to Ken Cliffe, White Wolf’s Vice President of Editing and Development, “All of us have been working flat-out on Vampire, and it became clear to us that with Werewolf set to come out only two and a half months after Vampire, it was at risk of getting second-hand treatment. That wasn’t acceptable.” Bravo. Watch for teasers in the next White Wolf Quarterly, and keep your snarls of frustration to a minimum, Werewolf: The Forsaken will be along soon.


12:04 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Cue the Odd Couple theme: Palladium Books and Nokia share presence at Gen Con

Now this is just weird: Palladium will be sharing their Gen Con booth with Nokia - yes, the Finnish cell phone empire and makers of the thus-far lackluster game deck N-Gage. The form-factor problems with the N-Gage have been at least partially solved, but the bigger problem was a games selection so utterly mundane as to interest no one. Nokia appears to have swung to the other extreme - they'll be previewing a Rifts RPG for N-Gage. I think it's fair to call Rifts fans a niche market within a niche market - but I suppose if Nokia hits enough niches, and finally fires up the online play that the N-Gage cries out for, they might have something. (As an aside, I bet their new hire had something to do with this booth-share.) I think it's unlikely we'll see online play out of this game, or indeed anything other than a demo video, but one thing's for sure: Rifts for N-Gage will have characters that'd snap your neck like a toothpick if you so much as say "side-talkin'."

July 18, 2004

11:13 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Essen 04: if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere

GameFest has an Essen '04 preview that is mostly kind of perplexing. It's meant to collect all the details for all the pre-announcements of board and card games coming out this year at Germany's preeminent game fair, but sometimes the details are pretty sketchy. Some highlights: a European-map version of Spiel des Jahres winner Ticket to Ride, Eagle Games' less-combat-oriented Bootleggers, a new standalone Carcassonne game, and plenty of upcoming action from Rio Grande and Uberplay.

10:33 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
But running them down in a burnt-out Hummer is no challenge!

Phil Reed, who among his other fine qualities has the distinction of being the very first financial contributor to OgreCave (he gave us a dollar!), has released a new PDF RPG called MotoCaust. I was disappointed to learn that it has little to do with motocross, the retro sport of the decade. Instead, it's all about Mad Max crossed with Night of the Living Dead. Run and gun those zombies down, with a three-stat system (not to be confused with Tri-Stat) that appears to be d10-based. Peep the demo PDF, which mainly comprises fiction with dirty words in it, and some hot Christopher Shy artwork.

July 17, 2004

12:22 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
New Line snags Vampire: The Requiem option

ICv2 has reported that New Line Cinema has optioned the rights to make feature films based on White Wolf's upcoming release, Vampire: The Requiem. How this will impact that ongoing lawsuit between White Wolf and Sony Pictures over the movie Underworld remains to be seen. Hey, maybe the entire World of Darkness relaunch next month is just an attempt to recreate the game world as something that hasn't been ripped off by a Hollywood director... Sorry, don't mind me. It's the cold medicine talking.

July 16, 2004

08:22 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
The prequel to Catan... of Catan

Candamir: the First Settlers is a new game by Klaus Teuber, author of The Settlers of Catan. Candamir will indeed be a prequel - the story of the very first settlement in the land of Catan. Due in October in Germany and who knows when in the States, it's a standalone game with its own mechanics. It'd be particularly interesting if it also fed into Settlers somehow as a subgame or even a simultaneous-play thing, but maybe I have too much third-edition Talisman on the brain and just want to see something fit into the corner of something else.

03:37 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Laws harps on LARPs

In his latest installment of See Page XX, Robin Laws points out the enormous popularity of LARPs in Hollywood these days (go on, think about it. I'll wait). Laws goes on to compare TV's version to the game convention version, with some interesting conclusions. In particular, he makes this statement: "I can see the creation of a cash-prize LARP circuit as a serious business opportunity for someone with the capital and vision to make it work." Perhaps intentionally, Laws doesn't mention True Dungeon, which has had player eliminations and significant prizes for a lucky winner from the get-go. Of course, True Dungeon doesn't want to be called a LARP, so never mind.


12:10 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Then again, it works for Games Workshop

Open letter to whoever's in charge of the D&D Miniatures web presence: uh, it might be kinda good to have a PDF of the Quick Start rules booklet from the Entry Pack up there? You know, seeing as how the Entry Pack is now out of print, and the next packs that are going to have the rules in them have yet to be printed. Right now, the only way for a prospective new player to obtain the game's rules is to buy the hardback Miniatures Handbook for $30. This is what some might consider a disincentive. Just a thought.

July 14, 2004

11:49 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
My God... it's full of... well, you know

I don't think I ever mentioned that the Star Chamber folks had a booth at Origins, pimping the first expansion (at least I'm pretty sure the other title they toss around - which is "Origins," confusingly enough - refers to their starting card set) to their CCG/4X masterpiece. The new card set, "Incursions," even features two cards by Gabe of Penny Arcade. I had a great time playing this one back in the day and plan to peep out this new set. I remember back when those poor bastards who were trying to revive the old online-CCG Sanctum always had a presence at Origins... sorry, boys, but it does help when you have a coherent game to begin with. Star Chamber's first-play experience is so much better it's not funny.


11:38 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Well, we've got some, but it's a bit runny

This cute essay over on GameFest's GameWire is worthy reading for the game snob in your life. However, I am not sure its point is quite incisive enough to get over. People sure are having fun picking the low-hanging analogies in the comments, though. *sigh*

July 13, 2004

11:25 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
True Dungeon sells out for Gen Con Indy

The word is out, and as a result, True Dungeon sessions at Gen Con Indy next month have already sold out. Over 1,500 event tickets have been snatched up for the walk-through dungeon adventure game, at nearly $20 each. If the True Heroes sessions, themed around superheroes and backed by Upper Deck Entertainment, sell remotely as well, I'm sure we'll be seeing True Adventures Ltd. running these events for years to come.

July 09, 2004

11:33 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Blackmoor reveals more

The road has been long for Goodman Games as it has tried to publish Dave Arneson's Blackmoor, but the time is finally drawing close. To increase anticipation even more, a new PDF preview is available on the company's website, showcasing some of Blackmoor's new races, such as the Blackmoor 500 at the Arneson International Speedway. The full book, hardcover and all, will be out in September, though I'd keep an eye out for more preview stuff or even early copies at Gen Con Indy.


03:16 PM: Demian Katz says...
Rio Grande Report

Rio Grande Games has posted another newsletter announcing a wealth of new releases. Highlights include Jambo, an African-themed trading game, Dawn Under, a family-friendly vampire game that's quite popular in Germany, and High Bohn Plus, the first new Bohnanza expansion in a while.

July 07, 2004

12:43 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
We represent the Blood-of-the-innocent Guild, the Blood-of-the-innocent Guild...

Just when you thought the Munchkin money machine couldn't roll on any further without making an illegal U-turn, Steve Jackson Games announces Munchkin Bites!, a swing at the World of Darkness (or whatever they're calling it now) that may or may not re-introduce (ahem) some jokes from Chez Goth. Like all the other standalone Munchkin expansions, this Munchkin expansion will... stand... alone... yeah. Hits in October, of course.

July 06, 2004

04:23 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming mag Games Elite launching in August

Hoping to fill the void left by Games Unplugged, Shadis, and so many other now-dead gaming publications, Games Elite was announced today. Planned for an August release, the bi-monthly magazine will cover just about anything related to "the gaming world and culture." The first issue will be handed out at Gen Con Indy, but will also sell for $2.95 for those not fortunate enough to be attending the big show.

July 05, 2004

11:42 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Uberplay/Eagle merger, deep thoughts

We haven't commented yet on the recently-announced corporate merger between newish German-games reprinter Uberplay and conquest-gaming stalwarts Eagle Games. Both brands are going to continue as they've been, intact, although Uberplay is pushing more into straight family party games and Eagle is now publishing PC games that don't have anything to do with their board gaming line (the timely Texas Hold'em No Limit Tournament being the first example). I don't think the effect of this on the industry is gonna be too big - both companies will use the efficiencies that a shared infrastructure make possible to further their very distinct goals. So, sure, it'll be helpful, but I think whether Uberplay can kick it into high gear and whether Eagle can turn their PC-gaming connections into something larger (oh: they have the board game deal for the new remake of the classic Sid Meier's Pirates, it will allegedly hit in November) depend on a lot of other factors. Still neat, though, and we will certainly be seeing a lot more of both brands soon.

July 02, 2004

11:59 AM: Dave Chalker says...
Because Knizia needs more money

As evidenced by Origins, it looks like more and more American board game companies are reprinting older classic German games. I picked up the Modern Art reprint from Mayfair, which does come in a smaller box but didn't make the actual art any more modern.

July 01, 2004

05:11 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
First one to quote Monty Python gets a punch in the mouth

Wingnut has announced Bram Stoker's Tom Jolly's Camelot, a "pseudo-realtime" board game in which multiple families with fey sons named Arthur try to pull a sword from a stone. I was privileged to hear a great deal about the so-called Lightning system back at DunDraCon; it is sort of real-time, but not everyone will be able to play at once. I don't want to say too much more about it, but suffice it to say that it's hot and I think Jolly was wise to give it its own brand. This will hit in October.


11:44 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
GI Joe TCG appearing in Orlando

GI Joe fans, the hardcore ones, will get the first look at the full GI Joe TCG this weekend, at the GI Joe Convention in Orlando, Florida. My brother-in-law would kill to be at that show, having an attic filled with every GI Joe imaginable. As Mike mentioned in his Origins posts, and as I experienced at GTS, the abbreviated version of the game was very fast, and easy to pick up. The system should be just right for the feel of the show it's trying to capture.


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