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New releases : 28th July

Three new releases this week.

First of is Z man’s deluxe upgrade of the classic Tales of the Arabian Nights. If you have reserved a copy or pre-ordered it’s here on Tuesday, unfortunately I have sold out of my pre-order allocation. I will be getting some more on the 3rd of August, and am now accepting pre-orders for those.

The second is the long awaited Tulip Mania 1637.This debut design from noted game reviewer Scott Nicholson looks like a clever market manipulation game.

The third is RAF lion versus Eagle, an update of the classic solitaire game. This version allows for 2 player games as well as solitaire.

Added to the import section are 2 games from Japon Brand.

Cheaty Mages, a game where you control mages controlling fighting monsters – and employing some leger-demain to get your monster to the top. Gorgeous art work and English rules.

Robo-Tory, a two player abstract from R-eco, Fairy Tale and Traders of Carthage designer Susumu Kawasaki. Between me ordering and receiving the games Asmodee have announced they are releasing a ‘smart’ version of Robo-Tory. Such are the risks I take when importing games….

Other additions include Tiki Topple from the Schmidt Spiel Easy play line, Keltis Kartenspiele and Hoellenhaus.

Re-stocks include the sublimely silly Fluch der Mumie, Incan Gold (the Sunriver version) , Stone Age ,Acquire and the 5th expansion for the World Cup Game.

On the playing side, apart from an excellent prototype from Nigel Buckle (Incidentally now Tulip Mania has been published Ascendancy is one away from the top of the production queue at JKLM, behind Tinner’s Trail) I have mainly been delving into older Euro games, Stefan Feld’s Notre Dame and In the Year of the Dragon , Goa , Ra and my favourite horse racing game - Winner’s Circle.

Ra has been reprinted in Germany so I guess it’s likely to be getting an English reprint soon. If you are desperate to get hold of a copy I will happily import one. Another classic that has been out of print in English for some times is Princes of Florence. I am planning on importing a few German versions as it’s a game I’m often asked for and no English reprint seems to be on the horizon.

New Releases : 21 July 2009

New releases are thin on the ground and include:-

Midevil Deluxe – it includes the base set and two expansions for the game that starts where Zombies left off.

The second new release is The Hell of Stalingrad – a card game that recreates the …you got it.

Tales of the Arabian Nights is now due next week – I will put it on the shop as a preorder when i am 100% certain of the date. It will be £35.99.

Re-stocks include

All of the Pitch car expansions.

And a re-stock of the fantastic Warriors of God – I don’t expect this to last beyond the end of the week and there are no more at the distributors.

From Germany I have had a re-stock of Fauna (according to the ‘Geek an English language version is about 9 months away), Perry Rhodan and Burgen-land.

Later in the week I am hoping to see a re-stock of Fluch der Mumie, 6 Nimmt! and Im Reich der Wüstensöhne and some new additions to the range including games from Japon Brand. They should be on the website later this week.

I have not had too much time for playing games this week as I have been fitting shelves to expand the stock room. I now have the space for a much wider range and welcome any suggestions for games you would like to see boardgameguru stock.

I have been playing a lot of Uruk: Wiege der Zivilsation at lunch time. Fun and frustrating – my colleague Alec beat me every time we played. Alec has reviewed Mecanisburgo for Tom Vassel’s Dice Tower Podcast, I’m hoping his next one will be of the excellent Hexer Von Salem (hint hint Alec)

Best wishes and happy gaming all


New Releases : 14 July 2009

Most of the new the new releases this week are party games – it’s all about cracking open a party seven and putting aside the heavy stuff aside.( Note to self – must let Automobile sit on shelf for more than three days ….)

The first is ‘Gambit 7’, the rather uninspiring named ‘Commonwealth’ version of ‘Wits & Wagers’. I hope this is as good as the original, with a Lamont brother credited as a designer it promises to be good. ‘Wits and Wagers’ is the only game I have managed to get all my family (ages spanning nine decades) to play together. If you can guess which decade the person who thought ‘The Muppets’ was first aired on TV in 1856 it pays odds of 2 to 1……

The second is Tumblin’Dice (in a full and a medium sized portable version). This game sees 2 -4 players flicking or rolling dice on to scoring points on an attractive board.

Third is the fourth expansion for PitchCar – the ‘stunt car’ expansion adds a third dimension to the basic set.

Last of the party releases is ‘Are you the Traitor?’ from Looney Labs, a magical game of bluffing and deception.

There are also a couple of more serious games released this week.

The English language edition of ‘Sherwood Forest’ from Rio Grande will be with us next week.

And ‘Livingstone’ is released in an English edition by Playroom entertainment. I also have a few of the German (totally language independent) version from Schmidt Spiele left at a bargain price of. £19.99.

I have played Livingstone a few times – it shines as a game played with youngsters – they love the ‘Thebes’ like treasure bag.

‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ is scheduled for release on Tuesday 21st July. It will be available for pre-order from the middle of next week.

Musings on Steam and it's cousins

Boardgamers and trains seem to go together like ...train spotters and platforms. We do love a train game - all the way from Ticket to Ride to 18xx. I thought i had the train part of my collection sorted - Age of Steam, Railroad Tycoon, Ticket to Ride ,Steel Driver, Chicago Express, Canal Mania and Jet Set (the last two are train games masquerading as other forms of transport and 18xx a bit beyond me).

So when Steam was released i wished it well but assumed it was too similar to my other train games to be an essential purchase. Now i've read the rules i have changed my mind. It seems to fill a (small)gap that sits between Age of Steam and Railroad Tycoon (and it's expansion Rails of Europe). Actually the gap is small but quite important. Railroad Tycoon is lovely to behold, and in it's capital structure is forgiving enough for most boardgamers. However, the operation cards make it a bit of a lottery - especially in the base set. In a close game it can be very frustrating if the luck of the draw favours one player - whether a completed route bonus in the base set or a charter, hotel or build bonus in Rails of Europe that is more valuable to one player than another. In Age of Steam the game can be just too brutal to beginners. Goods growth, decided by dice, seems to to throw an element of luck into a game that demands crystal clear planning.

So Steam looks like the synthesis of design ideas and practical observations. For a start the prohibition on taking Locomotive as an action when maxed and the requirement to ship goods over at least half of your own track takes out two of the 'gamey' elements of Age of Steam. The change from Goods growth to City Growth also seems like an improvement of Age of Steam.

In basic Steam the brutality of the auction process and lottery of the operation cards has been replaced with an separate auction for roles - and this looks like a great middle ground for those of us who struggle with AoS but find RRT too simplistic and lacking some tension.

The other area i'm not unhappy to see changed is income reduction, again it seems too gamey. Having worked for eight years capitalisng the 'real' railways i have seen enough game playing at the expense of economic reality to want to see it in a board game. Instead we have a division in steam between victory points and income. This causes me a thematic problem - surely an economic game needs to reward money earned and invested? However, if i see the Victory points as the Net Present Value (in the same way that the final movement of goods cubes in Steel Driver is the Net Present Value of the companies networks) of my railway a the end of the game then it works.

I wonder how well my musings will stand up to actual play of Steam, but now having made them i am compelled to find out. There has been a lot of debate about the number of track tiles - that i most certainly can't comment on till i have played.

The Real Railway

The whims of government are the key to the real railways today. We can't do without a rail network but they can't survive in a free market. Hence vast public subsidy, a regulatory environment and decisions made on political expediency rather than the best movement of real cubes over a net work you have built. In fact there has been virtually no new track routes laid since the 19th century (CTRL excepted) - capital investment has been in signaling, renewals and systems to improve performance. Ownership of infrastructure and train operations have been separated into separate ownership and control. I wonder if there is a game to be made there?

New Releases : 7th July

There are quite a few new releases from Zman this week, unfortunately one of them is not Tales of the Arabian Knights I am hoping this is no more than 2 or three weeks away . Given the box weighs in at a whopping 4 kilos fingers crossed the ship is not slowed down.

The first of the new release is Bridge Troll. You play a Troll balancing the need to charge travelers for use of your bridge, the need to feed (those travelers are quite tasty) and fight off adventurers (including Billy Goat Gruff) who are out to end your custodianship of the bridge (and your life).

The second is Long Shot, a family horse racing game that is beautifully produced. In this game you own and bet on horses to win races and then try to steer your mounts to victory using tactical and strategic cards. According to the box it plays in about an hour.

The third is Court of the Medici, a two player card game that pits you as a courtier trying to curry favour with the Grand Duke of Florence and eliminate your rival faction.

The Fourth is Babel 13, an expansion for Neuroshima Hex. The expansion adds two new armies, terrain tiles and campaign rules.

Mayfair has re-printed the classic crayon rail game EuroRails. The game has received a face lift and the Channel Tunnel.

I have added the collaborative card game Anima: Shadows over Omega to the range and its expansion (also a stand alone game) Anima: Beyond Good and Evil is released on Tuesday

Also released next week, and the first Risk game I have stocked, is Risk : Balance of Power, a two player game that sees players fighting over a map of Europe. I have heard good things about this game.

A batch of import arrived last week including Cavum (this is an international edition and includes English rules). Burgenland came and went. Big points and Finito are still in stock. I have also added the Pegasus Spiel special edition of David and Goliath (it comes in a rather smart metal box) and Ziegen Kriegen (can’t have enough games about goats).

I am expecting a re-stock of Small World on Tuesday. Bruno Faidutti has named it as his game of the year.

I have also had a re-stock of Vineta – which I have played a few times recently. It’s a, ‘anti’ area majority game, in which players are Norse gods throwing waves at Vineta (the Atlantis of the Baltic) to sink it beneath the seas. As a god you want to preserve part of the city and homes from destruction. The trouble is the other gods are trying to do the same thing. By clever card play you aim the waves at parts of the city you have no followers or interest in. The version i have been playing is the Winning Moves Deutschland edition which is far superior to the ugly edition which was released in English. It’s a light hearted and fun game that plays quickly and I think deserves a wider audience.