Games News! 12/02/18

resin beans, my card wife, the brands
Quinns: We’ve got a whole mess(e) of news for you this week! That’s my very clever way of saying that most of this week’s stories come from BoardGameGeek News’ coverage of Spielwarenmesse, the world’s largest international toy fair. Through that link you can join those guys at the coal face, or you can stick with Shut Up & Sit Down as we collect the shiniest announcements.

And speaking of shiny, Coimbra is a 2018 release that I’m really excited about. That’s not just because this site has yet to try any games from notable Italian designers Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli (perhaps best known for Lorenzo il Magnifico and Grand Austria Hotel). It’s because this is a German-style resource management game that actually looks nice, with striking art by the inimitable Chris Quilliams.

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That said, it’s uncanny seeing Chris’ art paired with such a generic theme. Players in Coimbra will control 15th century Portuguese nobles who are competing to have the most prestige. They do this by working with powerful citizens and wealthy monks and by funding sea voyages.

More practically, the game’s going to involve drafting the game’s 13 dice and “optimising opportunities with every roll of the dice”. There are also cards and tokens and… To be honest, it’s not totally clear what the game is. My credibility has been utterly compromised by all of the pretty pictures. Let me try this game myself later this year and get back to you, ok?

Update: I showed Coimbra to Matt, the company art snob, in our Slack channel. He said it looked “pretty lush”. I am validated

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Speaking of dice management games that look exciting, more details are emerging on The Rise of Queensdale, the upcoming legacy game by troublingly clever husband and wife team Inka and Markus Brand (of Village and the EXIT series).

Players in Queensdale are all racing to build a tower to honour a dying Queen, which is apparently a pretty involved process taking multiple game nights. Like Seafall or Charterstone bits of the game will unlock as you progress through the story, with players placing stickers on their personal dice or even plucking individual hexes out of the map using the included mini-plunger. What lies beneath your board? You’ll have to play and find out!

Here at SU&SD we were massively disappointed by both Seafall and Charterstone, but if anyone can make the campaign-style eurogame work, it’s got to be the Brands. After all, they’ve made both award-winning eurogames and with the EXIT series they proved how imaginative they can be with games that can only be played once.

8-bit Box is an upcoming collection of video game-inspired board games, all of which use little cardboard “controllers” for players to simultaneously select their action. Unlike old video games, though, the 8-bit Box has controllers for a whopping 6 players. There’s something exquisitely dumb about using a board game to simulate a video game, and I think with a big table of players you could end up with a really giggly atmosphere.

The “console” will ship with three games, one of which will presumably be the Pac-Man-looking “Pixoid” in the above photo. If it does well I’d love to see different designers given the opportunity to make games for this, similar to the business model for Unlock! and T.I.M.E. Stories.

Who likes small box card games? That’s right! It’s me. In another life I’m sure I work in a small box card game factory, driving to work each day in a small box card game (with some wheels), snuggling up close to my wife – a small box card game – on cold winter nights.

This year Japanese card game Bakudan Takarabako is enjoying a global release as Nessos. It’s a game of bluffing that sounds a shade more complicated than Cockroach Poker. Essentially, players offer cards to one another that might be numbers, adding to your score, or might be bombs, and if you ever accept three bombs you’re knocked out. But unlike Cockroach Poker, Nessos lets players add cards to an offer before passing it on.

THIS YEAR: GET READY TO GO BACK TO S’COOL

Were you one of the people that went bananas for penguin flicking simulator Ice Cool? If so, hold onto your… fish? Ice Cool 2 is coming out this year as a standalone expansion, and by combining it with a copy of the original game you’ll be able to play with up to 8 people in a massive school.

This site would probably recommend PitchCar or PitchCar Mini over the original Ice Cool, but who knows? Maybe the embiggened game will change our minds.

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We’ve got a couple of Kickstarters competing for your hard-earned moneyola this week, starting with CO2: Second Chance.

Remember the Kickstarter for that insanely luxurious edition of Vital Lacerda’s game Vinhos? Well, Second Chance is a similarly improved edition of Lacerda’s game of green energy production, CO2, once again featuring new art from the talented Ian O’Toole.

As well as a host of tweaks and stretch goals, Second Chance will come with a fully co-operative mode where players work together to save the world through the rapid development of renewable energy power plants.

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If you were looking for something a little lighter (in terms of rules and theme), Seize the Bean caught my eye this week. A deck-builder about running a hip coffee shop with all sorts of lovely touches, including resin tokens for coffee, milk and sugar. The review tokens really made me smile, too.

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Finally, I guess I should write a bit about this weekend’s big industry story!

Continuing their venture capital-backed acquisition of hobby board game studios and publishers all over the world, Asmodee announced a merger with Mayfair and Lookout Games. This brings a range of superb German games under Asmodee’s vast umbrella, including Patchwork, Barenpark, Agricola, Caverna, Patchwork, Isle of Skye and a load of upcoming releases. Oh, and we didn’t cover it, but two weeks ago Asmodee acquired Polish publisher Rebel, too.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of online grumbling about Asmodee’s acquisitions being a bad thing for board gaming. I’ll even admit to doing some of that grumbling myself two years ago when this all started.

But in the last few years none of the companies that Asmodee have bought seem to be behaving any differently, let alone cynically. As for the recent upward trend of board game prices, that has more to do with the increased cost of manufacturing in China than anything else. Also, the idea of Asmodee ever having a “monopoly” on niche board games now seems silly to me. Thanks to crowdfunding, new board game publishers seem to spring up in this industry faster even than Asmodee can buy them.

I have absolutely no idea what the future holds, but I will tentatively say that Asmodee’s growth might even be good for the industry(!).

As far as I’m concerned, the best sign of success for the board game industry is more people playing. That’s literally the mission statement that we founded Shut Up & Sit Down with- to get more people playing these games. With Asmodee’s growth, this industry is getting a company with unparalleled powers of marketing and global distribution. In hindsight, the idea that Asmodee was ever going to look for bigger profits in the pockets of hardcore hobbyists seems a little silly. Why would you do that when the board game industry is growing by 15% every year? Doesn’t that mean that the way to get richer by selling your games to more people, rather than pissing off the audience you already have?

Think of it this way. This industry was growing by about 15% each year without a considerable marketing spend. What would it look like with someone investing money into accelerating that growth? Isn’t that how we finally crowbar Monopoly and Clue out of the public consciousness?

And so long as we’re talking about theoretically shady companies, let me state here that there are a handful of companies in the board game industry that I think really are shady. What I find interesting about Asmodee’s merger spree is that they’ve haven’t bought a single one of them.

So, yeah. Rest assured that Shut Up & Sit Down is keeping an eye on Asmodee’s practices. But right now, I really don’t think the sky is falling.