Meeple Digest: Winter 2019

Meeple Digest: Winter 2019

December 20, 2018 0 By Ryan Sanders

A new edition of Meeple Digest that’s packed full of articles. We have interviews, Kickstarter highlights, news on a design contest, an article on resurgance of co-op in 2019 and much much more.

Welcome to the latest edition of Meeple Digest. We’re trying something different this time around with publishing Meeple Digest. We’re moving it to a seasonal publication with this issue being Winter of 2019 (Dec 2018 – Feb 2019). You may notice this edition is packed, with 13 separate subsections! With that in mind, we understand this digest may not be read in just one sitting, so we’ve added a table of contents (above), so you can jump right back in wherever you left off earlier or if there is a section you really want to get to. Don’t forget to bookmark the page if you decide to read in spurts.

If you do enjoy this little digest of ours, please share it with others on Facebook or Twitter, it helps us get the word out which is always helpful when you are running a small niche publication. If you have a favorite section, let us know in the comments so we can make sure to keep it going in the next Meeple Digest.

 


Meeple-Sized Interviews: Keymaster Games

Meeple-Sized Interviews: Keymaster Games

With the beginning of a new year upon us, we thought we would catch up with Keymaster Games and do a meeple-sized interview with the keymaster himself, Kyle Key. In 2018, they brought us Space Park and Kickstarted an expansion to (as well as a 2nd edition of) their Campy Creatures. So, let’s see what they have in store for us in 2019:

This being the first time I have interviewed Keymaster Games, could you tell our readers what your philosophy is when it comes to the games that your company signs and puts out?

Kyle:  Keymaster Games publishes board games with captivating experiences and elegant designs. Our games can be played with the friends and family around you in the hopes of creating deeper connections and fun memories.

PARKS being played at PAXU. Please note, this is a prototype and the components are not final in this image.

Keymaster Games has announced two games coming to Kickstarter in 2019. The first is PARKS  by Henry Audubon. Could you tell us a little bit about this game and why our readers may want to have it on their gaming buy lists in 2019?

Kyle: Our first release, PARKS, is a collaboration with the print-making company, Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series. They have been commissioning works from illustrators around the world to celebrate the National Parks and we are beyond excited to help them celebrate those parks with a game.

The collaboration has lead us to a game that really celebrates each park as a unique destination that players are trying to visit. The journey of collecting resources and photos as you hike down a trail is a gameplay experience that we hope will remind people that these places are real and that they can and should go visit them.

The second game announced for 2019, is a co-operative firefighter game by Charlie Hoopes, called Firebreak. How is Firebreak different from other co-op firefighting games out there (Flashpoint & Hotshots) and what stood out about the game that you had to be the ones to publish it?

Kyle: When we first played Firebreak, the theme is what first caught our attention. Yes, there a few co-op games that deal with firefighting, but after our first play we really felt like the game had some unique mechanics that really sets itself apart. We also loved how the theme was so strong in the mechanics of the game, but what sealed the deal in our minds was the storytelling of the game. With a modular forest board, the forest layout constantly changes between plays and sets the stage for the story of what you need to protect and defend. The fires continue to ignite and can catch players off guard. And what really increases the danger and makes the game unique is the way the fire spreads through the constantly changing wind mechanic. This constant threat doesn’t feel random and creates tense moments and hard decisions on what is important to save and what might already be lost to the fire. Players have to work together and use their unique abilities to contain the fire before it spreads out of control, and with a difficulty setting built into the setup of the game, there is always room for improvement on the next game.

A prototype of Firebreak at PAXU.  Please note, this is a prototype and the components are not final in this image. The photo was taken by Charlie Hoopes.

As we wrap up, first let me thank you for joining us to tell us a little bit about your future line up. Secondly,  is there anything else we should be looking out for from Keymaster Games in 2019?

Kyle: We’re really excited for 2019. It’s going to be our biggest year yet. We’ve been taking it slowly while we learn the ins and outs of game publishing and manufacturing. In 2019 we are working towards doubling the size of our catalog and hope to bring many more families around the table.


Essen 2018: Roll and Write Tetris

Essen 2019: Roll and Write Tetris 

 

Essen Spiel 2018, recently happened this past October. For those that may not know, Essen is perhaps the biggest and most important convention within our hobby, with many publishers releasing titles there. For those that were following along on Twitter with some of the pictures from the event, you may have noticed that one of the big trends at this year show there was ‘roll-and-write Tetris’ style games. Blending two mechanics that have been popular lately (roll-and-writes and polyominoes games) we saw the release of Tag City, Brikks, Bloxx!, Big Dig and the re-release of Mosaix as Te-Trix at Essen 2018. That’s six roll-and-write games that use Tetris-type shapes.

However, the trend is stopping there. In 2019 will seeing Iello’s Topa Toppa, along with not one, but two Tetris roll-and-writes designed by Uwe Rosenberg! Lookout Games’ Patchwork Doodle and Pegasus Spiele’s Second Chance. Both will use cards with Tetris shapes on them, and players will be drawing on 9×9 grids these shapes, however, their differences end there. In Second Chance, players will have two cards to pick from when drawing a shape from each round, if they cannot fit the shape into their grid, they will get a second chance card, if they still cannot fit the shape into their grid, they are eliminated from the game. Patchwork Doodle, on the other hand, seems to not feature elimination and will feature four one time use special abilities that players can use to help fill in their grid. Also, multiple cards will be out, and players will be rolling a die and then moving a rabbit along a circular path of cards. The card the rabbit lands on is the one that the players will have to draw in their grid, then that card is removed from the path. Players will lose points at the end of the game for every square in their 9×9 grid that is not covered. So in 2019 we will see at least 3 more of these type of games, bring the total to nine roll and write polyomino games to come out within a years time. 

Will this trend of roll and write Tetris continue, past what was released at Essen and the three games scheduled for 2019?  Maybe, though I am not fully convinced we will see many more of these titles. Though there is no doubt will continue to see both roll-and-writes as well as polyomino games still being popular at least for another year or two. And while we may not see many more ‘roll and write Tetris games’ outside of the games listed above, what we may see if the evolution of the roll and write further with the blending of other mechanics that we may not have expected. 

 


High Five!: Most Anticipated Games of 2019

High Five!: Most Anticipated Games of 2019

We are starting something new with the switchover to seasonal Meeple Digests when it comes to our Top 5 feature. Along with the re-naming to ‘Hive Five!, ‘ we will also now have a permanent contributor – game designer, Benny Sperling (@benny275). With each new High Five!, Benny will be joined by two different special guests. Who are our two guests in this issue? First up, is blogger Eric Yurko of What’s Eric Playing. If you are on Twitter or Instagram, you really should be following Eric (who takes amazing pictures of games), you can find at Instagram: @whatsericplaying and Twitter: @whatseplaying. Our second guest to contribute is Helaina Cappel of Kids Table Board Gaming (publisher of Problem Picnic and Wreck Raiders). Kids Table makes fantastic family games. Readers can find Helaina on Twitter: @kidstablebg. The question we posed to our three superstars of board games was: “What are your Top 5 most anticipated games coming in 2019?” Here were their replies:

 


Kickstater Highlights: Winter 2019

Kickstarter Highlights: Winter 2019

Like every season, Winter, brings forth a new batch of publishers, hoping to make their (and their designers) dreams come to life with Kickstarter. We thought we would highlight a few games coming Kickstarter over the Winter months of December – February.  We choose four games, featuring tea brewing, koi gardens, animals wanting to rule the five kingdoms, mining an asteroid and Popes in space… space… space. Of course, we are talking about the games, Chai, Kohaku, Animal Kingdoms, Planetoid, and Anthelion: Conclave of Power. 

 

Chai,  a gateway game for 1-5 players, and lasting up to an hour, has players stepping “…into the shoes of a tea merchant, combining tea flavors to make a perfect blend. Specializing in either rooibos, green, oolong, black or white tea, you will buy and collect ingredients to fulfill your customers’ orders.”  Participating tea masters will be busy fulfilling customers orders by going to the market to purchase fresh ingredients for their tea blends. In this (6×3 grid) market, older ingredients become cheaper, and if the same type of ingredients are connected together, they’re taken together not costing the player extra coins. If players would rather not go to the market, they can always go to the pantry for honey, milk, sugar, vanilla and the like or serve one of their customers. This being a modern hobby game, there is, of course, some special abilities that can come into play as well, as you try to earn the most points (via money and served customers) by the end of the 5th round.

Designed by married couple and first-time designers, Dan & Connie Kazmaier (of Deep Aqua Games), Chai is currently on Kickstarter until January 7th. It seems to be doing tea-rrific, on Kickstarter already funding and knocking out stretch goals. If Chai gameplay sounds like your cup of tea, or a ‘matcha’ for your gaming group make sure to check out the Kickstarter by clicking here.

Like to learn more about Chai?  Our very own Tom Gurg interviewed the Kazmaier’s on Chai for his Go Forth and Game podcast, you can check that out here.

 

Work-in-progress cover art & a recent picture of the prototype in action.

Another game, that should be launching on Kickstarter during this winter, is one that will have you thinking of not only spring but summer. Kohaku, coming from Gold Seal Games (publisher of Honey Wars and Steve Aramini’s Tricky Tides), will have players making their own personal koi fish ponds and is for 2-4 players, with a play time around 40 minutes. Andrew Smith, the man behind Gold Seal Games, describes the game as  “…a very zen, very peaceful tile-laying game where you are trying to build beautiful koi ponds! 

I (Ryan) had a chance to play this game, designed by Danny Devine (designer of such games as Ghosts Love Candy, Harvest Dice, and Topiary) once, before Gold Seal Games put it in development, even then it felt like a polished and streamlined game. It’s a cool little tile layer where players will be drafting from a market two tiles every turn, one koi fish tile, and one non-koi tile. The latter tile type will give you a scoring condition as you place koi fish in your pond around it. For example, a white lotus will score you 2 points per white koi surrounding it or 12 points if you can get all four sides surrounded by white koi.  It’s a great take on the tile placement genre, absolutely beautiful looking and one that I hope is now on your radar. Follow Gold Seal Games on Twitter (@goldsealgames) to find out when Kohaku launches.

 

Keeping with the animal theme, we venture into Animal Kingdoms, designed by Steven Aramini (Groves, Coin & Crown, Yardmaster, and Tricky Tides) and published by Galatic Raptor Games (a publisher team-up of Letiman Games and Weird Giraffe Games). Animal Kingdoms is a 1-5 player card game, that actually won the 2018 Cardboard Edison design contest. Mixing hand management with area control, “In Animal Kingdoms, each player takes on the role of a house leader, battling to gain control of the five kingdoms. Cards in your hand represent noble beasts that have pledged their allegiance to you. Over the course of three ages, you must deploy your beasts to the various territories – making sure that you adhere to each kingdom’s decree – to try and improve your influential position in the kingdoms. The house that gains the most influenced by the end of the third age is declared the one true leader of the realm.”

In Animal Kingdoms players will be playing cards (eight animal suits) in different sections to meet that section’s decree. Requirements for the decrees are things such as “Only Odd Number Cards” or “Same Rank or Beast.”  If you successfully put a card in one of the five kingdoms (decree sections) you can place a cube in the area control point above it. When the area control map for the section is full, you want to be the one was the last to place the cube on the map (in the castle area), so you can be sent to the Council, where your cube will remain throughout each round. However, when you place on a castle you are out for the rest of the round (age). The game is played over three ‘ages’ and the winner is whoever has the most influence of The Council at the end of the game. Animal Kingdoms, will be taking Kickstarter by storm on January 8, 2019.

 

Planetoid, designed by Jon Mietling (Palm Island) is a 1-4 player tile flipping game about mining an asteroid.  According to Jon, in Planetoid “players take on the role of a space miner and attempt to collect more resources or bonuses than their competition. Players may choose to either Drill: taking a tile and revealing all adjacent tiles, Sweep: looking at two tiles, returning them and charging their systems for later use or Move: Return all resources you have collected to the cargo bay. While returning resources to the cargo bay if your resources match those of one of the random bonuses you may collect those as well. Play continues until all tiles have been revealed or all bonuses have been acquired. The player with the most points wins.”

The main game board itself (there are also personal player boards) is circular and is put together from five interlocking pieces. It is also dual-layered in a special way that allows players to flip over face down tiles, as seen in the above gif. Besides the board, one of the interesting points of the gameplay,  as mentioned in Jon’s description, is when a player uses a drill action, they have to reveal all adjacent tiles, which of course will help your opponents, as they can see if there is anything good to take. The rules will also include a solo variant, as well as, an advance game variant that will introduce secret goals, advanced personal player boards with special actions players can take, and new rules like ways your equipment can get damaged and players will need to fix the damage in later turns. Have your space suits ready as Planetoid will be blasting its way on to Kickstarter on February 27, 2019, from Portal Dragon.

 

The Liberation faction in the base game of Anthelion: Conclave of Power.

Finally, keeping with the sci-fi theme, in January we will see a new wallet game from Button Shy fly onto Kickstarter. Anthelion: Conclave of Power,  a new take on their popular Avignon: Clash of Popes by John du Bois. This time, designer Daniel Solis re-imagines John’s game and sets it within Button Shy’s Pocket Universe series of sci-fi games. Anthelion: Conclave of Power will be a 2-player tug-of-war style game and will feature “variable factions, and unique characters.” 

 In the base game, players will be trying to try to bring either the Liberation or the Dynasty to galactic glory. There will be a third faction – the Rouges, but it’s a neutral faction. Button Shy, will also be releasing new neutral factions for Athelion in 2019 throughout the coming out all year via their Board Game of the Month ClubAthelion: Conclave of Power will be hyperjumping on to Kickstarter, right after the New Year on January 2, 2019.

 


Giant Hula Monster: Science Fiction Theme in Games

The Giant Hula Monster #1 – Science Fiction Theme in Games

I like science fiction. A lot. If I’m reading a book, most likely it’s science fiction of some sort. You should check out Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark series or anything by Robert Heinlein.  I enjoy pretty much all flavors in the genre – space opera, speculative, alternate history, hard science, sci-fi spy (James Bond). It’s all good. Fifty percent of the movies I watch fall into this category. Most recently I was in a ‘70’s science fiction mood so I got The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and Logan’s Run watched (man, Charlton Heston liked to take his shirt off!).

So what about games? There are a lot of science fiction based games. You have the standard 4X games like Eclipse, pick up and deliver games like Terra Prime or Junk Orbit, worker placement ones like Alien Frontiers or Dinosaur Island. You can’t fall down in a game store without landing on a space themed game. I searched BGG on this theme and there are 50 pages of science fiction games! Why is this? Why are there SO many science fiction themed games?  I have some thoughts on this.

First, and probably most important, it sells. If it didn’t there would not be so many games with these themes. People like science fiction. Science fiction, in general, is popular. Why? There are many, many reasons. I’m not going into this as it will take 20 posts to cover. Go search the internet using “Why is science fiction popular?” and you will get plenty of good opinion and stats. I’m talking a small crumble of the science fiction pie.

Because it is popular, science fiction sells. Go to Barnes & Noble and go to the science fiction section. It’s huge. Then go to the DVD department there. Again lots of movies and TV shows. Science fiction makes money. Game publishers are in the business of making money from the games they publish. It is logical that they would jump into this genre. I would be interested to see sales numbers for science fiction games. I bet they would be in the top two themes. So there is money to be made with science fiction themed games.

Another reason, I believe, is for the publisher it gives them their own intellectual property (IP). Unless it is a licensed property, the publisher owns the ‘world’ created for the game. They can do whatever they wish with that property. If the initial game makes money, they are free to do sequels or other games in that world/universe. And they could use some of the same art or at least artists and creators that they already have relationships with. It is sustainable. They can continue to build off of the property for years. For example, Button Shy Games has created its Pocket Universe. There are seven or eight games set in this universe. They all have similar art and their stories are loosely linked but play differently in mechanics. Locations, characters, and art are shared between the games to give the Pocket Universe cohesion and a unique identity. Games in this series include Pod-X, Twin Stars, That Snow Moon, Universal Rule, Liberation, and Anthelion (see more about the latter in Kickstarter Highlights section).

Some games set in Button Shy’s Pocket Universe.

That’s two or three good reasons why there are so many science fiction games. I will mention one more – escape. Ask people why they play games. It is very likely one of the reasons is it gives them a break from life, a little bit of time to think about something other than jobs, bills, etc… Science fiction adds another layer on top of that. And I think an active layer. By that, I mean that people can imagine science fiction themes better than say, medieval themes. Even though the latter theme is more factual I think people enjoy thinking about a science fiction theme. I know I would rather imagine myself zipping around in a spaceship delivering goods to planets rather than driving an ox cart between towns in Europe. Science fiction is snazzier. People like snazzy.

Those are just some of my thoughts on the science fiction genre in gaming.

Next time: I start my own journey into the genre.

 


Game Design Contests: Choose a Holiday

Game Design Contests: Choose a Holiday 

The Game Crafter recently launched a new design contest – the Holiday Design Contest.  Designers are asked to design a game based off a holiday. It doesn’t just have to be Valentine, Halloween or Christmas either. Lesser known holidays (even those celebrated in places other than the United States) are also encouraged, though it has to be a real recognized holiday.

Some of the design parameters besides the above are (see The Game Crafter page link below for all of them):

  • Player count may be anywhere between 1 and 6 players.
  • The total cost of your game must be less than $39.99.
  • Play time should be no more than 60 minutes, once you’ve learned the game.

The contest will be judged by The Indie Game Report’s, Cassie Elle. You may have seen recognize her name from some of her videos on Youtube and she too will soon be a published game designer with Wizard’s Shelf coming out in 2019 from Concrete Canoe Games.

The Holiday Contest winners will win not only an Indie Game Alliance 1-year Pro Membership but also $100 of shop credit on The Game Crafter, among other prizes. Interested game designers can find more info by clicking on this link: Holiday Design Contest at The Game Crafter. All entries must be submitted through TGC’s game editor no later than Noon UTC (6 am US Central) on March 18, 2019.

 


Cardboard Question: 2019 Designer Goals

Cardboard Question: 2019 Designer Goals

New year, means new year resolutions.  With this in mind, The Inquisitive Meeple recently reached out to some designers to ask, What are your goals as a designer for 2019?”  We asked designers Seth Jaffee (Eminent Domain series), Philip Walker-Harding (Sushi Go series) and Matt Leacock (Pandemic series). Here were their answers:

Seth Jaffe:  I’m trying to get some of my backlog of completed games through publication in 2019, and I’d like to make some progress on a couple of back-burnered ideas, possibly by taking on co-designers for them.

Philip Walker-Harding: One goal I have for myself this year is to design a game in a genre that is new and at least a bit unfamiliar to me. Sometimes I can feel myself slipping into common patterns when I work, particularly when I have to problem solve. So I think this could be a good way to stretch my design muscles and explore new areas.

Matt Leacock:  Here are some goals that come to mind:

  • Spend more quality time on fewer projects
  • Spend more time during the early phases of a project on experimentation – go broader before narrowing
  • Set up a playtester database; be more thoughtful about recruiting and screening
  • Spend less time on social media
  • Write and journal more; share something on my blog once a month

 


Game Spotlight: My First Carcassonne

Game Spotlight: My First Carcassonne

Title: My First Carcassonne

Ages: 4+

Player Count: 2-4

Publisher: Z-Man Games

For any parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents looking for a game for a young child, say ages 4 through 6, one of the best games for that age range is, My First Carcassonne. Children (and adults playing with them) take turns connecting oversized chunky tiles trying to complete paths. When a path/road is closed (both sides end in a dead end), children will look at what pictures on the tile, if their color is represented (via children is brightly colored clothes) they can play one of their bulky meeples on that tile. First to get rid of all their meeples wins. While elementary in rules and play, it does introduce children to tile-laying, and you may find they also are delighted to play the chunky meeples and oversized cardboard tiles.

While it may not hold children’s attention who are 7 or older, it is a good first step into modern board games for ages 4-6. At 4, it depends on the child, if they fully understand the rules, though they will grow into it and will still enjoy playing with the bits. My First Carcassonne is very simple compared to the normal various versions of Carcassonne, yet it still teaches rules, turns taking, how to deal with winning and losing, as well as the idea of tile-laying and placing meeples seen in some modern board games. Parents may also find this game easier to swallow than some of the mass market games geared at this same age group, which may be why it is currently ranked as the 26th best Children’s Game at Board Game Geek. This one has been a family favorite of ours with several of our children, since its release in 2009 (under The Kids of Carcassonne) and we highly recommend it if you are looking to get a game for younger children.

Editors Note: In Feb 2019, we awarded My First Carcassonne the Young Meeple Award


Go Forth and Game: Top Family Games to Give as Presents

Go Forth and Game: Top Family Games to Give As Presents

Recently Tom and I recorded a podcast of our Top Family Games to Give As Presents (here is the link)  for Go Forth and Game. Here is the break-down on the games we choose, and if you like to learn more about why we each picked the games that we did, give the podcast episode a listen.

 


Games On Our Radar: Diving Into Bugs and Rats

Games On Our Radar: Diving Into Bugs and Rats

Kids Table Board Gaming is bringing a new game to 2019, but it’s one you may have not heard of yet. Going straight into circulation, it will be the first KTBG game to skip Kickstarter. Bugs on Rugs is a family card game where each type of card scores differently in the same vein as Sushi Go or Go Nuts for Donuts, but with its own twists. The biggest being one card will be left over each round and it will be sent to ‘the wall’ where its wall power is activated, making players have to perform certain actions. Each of the nine bugs not only has a different way they score at the end of the game but have a different wall power as well.  Like Sushi Go,  Kids Table’s Bugs on Rugs is a drafting game, however, you draft from an open market that changes each round, instead of passing hands of cards. Bugs on Rugs is for 2-5 players and is designed by Jelly Beans Games’ Peter C. Hayward (Designer of such games as Dracula’s Feast, The Lady and the Tiger, and Scuttle!) and should be out sometime in May 2019.

Kids Table will also be releasing Wreck Raiders designed by Tim W.K. Brown and Joshua Cappel in April/May of 2019. Wreck Raiders is a set collection, dice drafting, worker placement game about underwater treasure hunters, seeking to collect treasure from shipwrecks and either selling them to museums or maybe keeping a few treasures for their personal vaults. However, there is a nice twist to this worker placement –  when you gain a treasure from a shipwreck your neighbor also gains something too! The Inquisitive Meeple, did an in-depth preview of the game before it was on Kickstarter, which you can find here: Meeple & Sons Review Wreck Raiders. We stated in the preview “…if you are looking to introduce your family to a worker placement game or a game that’s a step above the standard gateway, Wreck Raiders is a solid choice.”  Wreck Raiders’  Kickstarter knocked it out of the park, and added even more flavor to the game (like diver meeples with some stickers, and more underwater animals for the aquarium) and is set to be a very big hit for Kids Table once it is out on the market. As a final note, if you like to learn more about the history behind Wreck Raiders, you can read this interview we did with co-designer Tim W.K. Brown: Tim W.K. Brown on Raiding Wrecks

If you would like to pre-order Wreck Raiders or Bugs on Rugs, you can do so by following this link: Wreck Raiders Pre-Order. However, you better hurry if you want to pre-order, as it ends sometime in January. 

 

Every once in a while you will meet a designer that is amazingly passionate about their game, to the point that it’s so genuine and so deep that it can almost become infectious. Dawson Cowals is a designer like that with his game, Ratfink: Scurry & Scamper (co-designed with Jeff Huit and Joe Mistachkin.). A project that has been almost 3 years in the making and has been played and tested hundreds of times. Ratfink is based off the trick-taking game Knock-Out Whist at its core. However, it also adds more cards than your standard poker card deck ( which will have custom suits in the game). Players will also be drawing from a separate deck of cards – the ‘Scurry & Scamper’ deck. These 56 cards are there to not only help you deal with the luck of the draw when it comes to trick-taking but also to add some take-that to the mix.

Example of a Scurry, a Suit, and a Scamper card type in Ratfink: Scurry & Scamper. Cards are still works-in-progress.

The first phase of the game is the ‘Scurry Phase’ where players will play Scurry cards that do things like give you extra cards or challenge the dealer for this rounds trump suit. You use it to improve the odds in your favor before the trick-taking takes place. Then the next phase is the trick-taking phase and as previously mentioned plays out something similar to Knock-Out Whist, where each hand players progressively have fewer cards dealt to them.  For each trick you win a slice of cheese, but if you end a round not winning a trick, you must take a fink (rat trap). Finally, players enter the ‘Scamper’ phase, which allows a player to mitigate some of what just happened in the ‘trick’ phase. Scamper cards allow players to do things like give your finks to someone else or lets you pilfer with your little rat paws someone else’s hard earned cheddar. When this is through, whoever made the most cheese that round, becomes the new dealer and decides the trump (and if it will be high or low). However, remember the trump can be challenged with the Scurry cards! At the end of the game whoever won the most tricks or collected the most cheese is merely a tie-breaker. The winner is the one with the least amount of rat traps (Finks)! Ratfink: Scurry & Scamper is finally scurrying its way on to Kickstarter around March/April of 2019 and will be published by Cohort VIII Games.

Please note, this is a prototype and the components are not final in this image.

 


Tweet Back: New Year Game Resolutions 2019

Tweet Back: New Year Game Resolutions 2019

Much like the Cardboard Question section above, we thought we reach out to gamers on Twitter. We asked, “What are your board game related resolutions for 2019?” Here are a few of the responses that were given. Also as a quick aside, if you click on the speech bubble, you will be taken to the Twitter account of whomever the quote is from.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Check It Out: Buzzing About PNP Arcade

Check It Out: Buzzing About PNP Arcade

Recently launching (Nov 2018) its website, PNP Arcade (https://www.pnparcade.com/) is the brain-child of Jason Greeno and Jason Tamire. A website solely dedicated to collecting in one place highly quality print-and-play games. Already featuring games from publishers such as Daily Magic Games, Weird Graffie Games, Grey Gnome Games, Button Shy and more. Their current intentions are, that every Friday they will release new games for download on the site. Publishers or game designers that have an interest in offering pnp versions of their games (be it free or paid) can contact either of the Jasons at pnptagmire@gmail.com or pnpgreeno@gmail.com. If readers would like to know more about PNP Arcade, Tom Gurg and I interviewed the two Jason’s on our podcast about their endeavor, which can be found here:

Cutting Edge Game Publishing – A Conversation With… Jason Tagmire and Jason Greeno of PNP Arcade

 

Another noteworthy suggestion on things to check out if you haven’t is, The Inquisitive Meeple‘s most read article of 2018, which was our interview with John Yianni about his now classic abstract game, Hive. The written interview entitled The Mind Behind Hive –  though short, covers a whole range of Hive questions from the base game to the expansions and is one of my (Ryan) favorite interviews that I have ever conducted. Make sure to check it out.

 


The North American Meeple #1: The Revival of the Co-Op

The North American Meeple #1: The Revival of the Co-Op

What’s with the title above?  Of course, like many things, there is a story behind it. The short version of said story is – it’s very close to what The Inquisitive Meeple was originally almost called (The Great North American Meeple) – and it’s an homage to that. Much like Tom’s little corner above, I thought a silly title, would be a little fun for my thoughts section.  Which we now need to get to, before I go down more of a rabbit hole. 

What are we talking about this first time out? A possible game trend we will be seeing in 2019, the return of the co-op in force. Surely 2019 will continue to see solo games or solo modes in games continue to rise. However, we are starting to see co-op games start to become popular more and more again, as well. True, they never really went away and a new Pandemic comes out every year, and every year it’s popular. However, 2018 also brought us Sprawlopois, 5 Minute Marvel, Spy Club, Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, Forbidden Sky, and Batman: The Animated Series – Gotham Under Seige to name a few. These games seem to draw attention back to the family/gateway co-op, and it looks that trend isn’t going away in near future,  but don’t worry if you like your co-op with some dark flair there are plenty of those as well coming.

Back to looking towards the future and that surge of co-op games coming in 2019, either to market or Kickstarter. Scrolling through co-op games coming with the 2019 year attached to it at BGG,  I found myself clicking through 25 pages of stuff. While there will be plenty of Cthulu, zombie, and horror-themed type games coming, (we won’t be looking at those) there is still quite a bit of other stuff too. In fact, while won’t be covering 25 pages, we will list quite a few below, so you can hopefully see my point. There is a pretty great range of different themes in the batch below and perhaps after you read through you will agree with me that co-op’s are going to be a hot trend in 2019, or at least publishers will be hoping so.

Starting out my list is The Crusoe Crew from Van Ryder Games, a co-op graphic novel game. Each player will have a graphic novel for their character, that is geared towards their special ability and the group will go through the story together. Fireside Games will be coming out with a new standalone game in their Castle Panic series in the first half of 2019.  My First Castle Panic is aimed at ages 4 and up and requires no reading for the preschool crowd to play.  

What about some themes that deal with saving the planet?  Besides Firebreak from Keymaster, which is Charlie Hoopes’ co-op game that will have players fighting and containing wildfires (discussed some in Keymaster interview above and blazing its way onto Kickstarter later in 2019), there are a couple more. We will see in March, Shepard Kit’s family game Ocean Crisis swimming its way on to Kickstarter. In that one, players will be trying to clean up the ocean and rivers from garbage before it piles up too much. If you want to save some endangered animals, the is always Grand Guild Gamers’ Endangered coming to Kickstarter in 2019. That one looks like it will be a heavier experience with its 60-90 minute playtime according to BGG. Designed by Joe Hopkins players can take on the roles of a Zoologist, Philanthropist, TV Wildlife Host, Lobbyist, or Environmental Lawyer as they try to influence four UN Ambassadors to pass a resolution that will protect the animals before it is too late.

Magic Meeple will be paying homage to Super Metroid and the book The Martin with Incoming Transmission. That one has a single player playing a meeple on a space station that has limited communication with mission control (which is the other players) and must perform certain tasks before time (alotted amount of rounds) runs out. The second edition of Atlantis Rising is coming from Elf Creek Games with art by Vincent Dutrait. That one is described as a worker placement co-op in which players must work together to….you guessed it… save Atlantis. In the Spring Z-Man Games will bring out Aerion, a solo game that can also be played as 2-player co-op. Aerion is the newest title in their Oniverse series of games. We will also see also see Roll Player Adventures coming to Kickstarter which will bring co-op play to the Roll Player universe. 

When it comes to expansions to already existing co-ops, 2019 has you covered. Portal Games’ Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island will be seeing an expansion in Robinson Crusoe: Mystery Tales which will be packed with 300 new cards, 10 new characters and a campaign mode. Also Portal will be publishing a new expansion to its  Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game with Modern Detective: L.A. Crimes. Kane Klenko’s Dead Men Tell No Tales, will be seeing The Kraken expansion from Minon Games coming out either December of 2018 or January of 2019. Grey Gnome Games is coming up with an expansion to Desolate, Insurgence which transforms the base game from a solo experience to a multiplayer co-op, where players are trying to survive and get off the planet they crash landed on together. That one will be on The Game Crafter’s Crowd Sale on January 15th and will be coming with a box big enough to hold the base game, as well as previous expansions. Speaking of expansions, IELLO will have one for their 8bit box collection, that can be played either solo or 2-player co-op, called Double Rumble, harkening back to the days of the sidescrolling beat ’em up video games in 2019.  

Looking for licensed miniatures for your co-op experience? There is Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid from Renegade Game Studios, which raised over half a million dollars on Kickstarter in August/September of 2018. That one should be kicking its way into backers collection (and I assume store shelves) Summer of 2019.  Also, scheduled for 2019 is Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game designed by Emerson Matsuuchi (Century: Spice Road & Specter Ops) According to IDW Games: “Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game is a fully cooperative, miniatures board game. Following the story of the first Metal Gear Solid video game, players take on the roles of Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, Dr. Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, and Gray Fox the Cyborg Ninja. They’ll need to use their unique skill sets to avoid detection as they complete objectives across multiple campaign scenarios. Featuring a highly dynamic A.I. system and sandbox gameplay, missions can be completed in multiple ways and will always play out differently.” IDW Games will also be releasing not one, but two Ninja Turtles miniature games ( Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change Is Constant and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: City Fall), both will have full on co-op play (as well as 4v1) play. Then while not licensed, there is also something for those looking for some darker fare, in Legends of Sleepy Hollow coming from Dice Hate Me Games and Solomon Kane coming from Mythic Games, both are also miniature games.

Finally, no doubt we will see some new kind of Pandemic game – as Matt Leacock and Z-Man have released at least one Pandemic product every year since 2009. At the very least there will most likely be a Pandemic Survival Series game, which has been released every year since 2016. 

That is quite a bit of co-op games announced (or assumed in case of a new Pandemic) and who knows what else will be announced at Toy Fairs and Cons later in 2019. The question though for it to be a trend is will the games be any good, will they sell? If they sell then we will have a trend on our hands or at least the continued rise of one in 2019, if they don’t, publishers may very well stay clear away from co-op for while.

What about you, dear reader, do you cherish the idea of a resurgence of co-op games, or will you be staying clear of adding them to your gaming collection in 2019? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

Pandemic Survival Series’ 2016, 2017 and 2018 releases. These are limited edition takes on Pandemic’s system with their own twists and themes.

 


Well, that’s it for this issue of Meeple Digest, we hope you enjoyed this edition and we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  The next edition of Meeple Digest will hopefully post near the end of March 2019. 

 

As always, thanks for reading and remember to stay inquisitive!