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We are coming up on GENCON 2015 and Calliope Games has announced a new game that they will be showing there. “Thieves” was originally published by 999 games in Europe and Calliope Games will be publishing it in the US market towards the end of 2015 or early 2016.

“In Thieves, players take on the role of bandits pulling off the heist of a lifetime. The safes have been cracked, the bags have been loaded, and the getaway car is ready. All is going smoothly… until someone trips the alarm. Eager to put an end to the players’ crooked ways, the cops give chase, throwing up roadblocks and seizing everything from the wealthiest thief each time a police raid is triggered. Players must gather loot without making themselves a target. The thief who flees the city with the lion’s share of the loot wins! -Calliope Games”

The game will be available for demos at GENCON and we’ll be reporting on some first hand impressions after the event and as we get closer to release!

 

 

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The Titan Series is a  product line being published by Calliope Games and funded through a massive Kickstarter campaign. What makes the project special is that each game is being designed by a legendary game designer.

Calliope Games has been publishing videos to YouTube on their channel featuring the different “Titans.” Take a look below!

Richard Garfield

(Yes. THE Richard Garfield.)

Zach Weisman

Jordan Weisman

Rob Daviau

Seth Johnson

Paul Peterson

Eric Lang

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Calliope Games is a board game publisher that focuses on “gateway games.” This means that they focus on games that are easy to learn, quick to play, and are accessible to players who may not have been playing hobby board games for years. Put simply, they want to build the board game industry by bringing more players into the fold. They assume that there are some players who need some coaxing, and by giving them a simple game to learn first they may open their eyes to the wild world of hobbyist gaming and hopefully the rest of Calliope’s games while they are at it. (You an read our reviews of some Calliope Games right here!)

It’s become my personal mission to introduce as many people as possible to tabletop games and the experiences they create.” ~ Ray Wehrs, Calliope Games’ president

Recently, they announced the Titan Series; a line of games developed by legendary game designers. This fantastic team of game designers is responsible for amazing games like “Magic: The Gathering, Shadowrun, King of Tokyo, Mechwarrior, HeroClix, Marvel Dice Masters, Quarriors, and many more!” Each of them will be designing their very first gateway games! Check out the graphic below to see some of the talented designers they have brought on board! (Head here to view some interview videos with several of them!)

Everything is being funded via a massive Kickstarter that will launch tomorrow March 31st! The games themselves will be staggered over a period of three years so they are, naturally, at different stages of development. We don’t even know their themes or genre’s yet! Its all a huge mystery, but that really is part of the appeal of this process. Calliope is planning to involve backers as much as is reasonable throughout development. This will give prospective backers behind the scenes access and a glimpse at the work these geniuses do as they take a game from concept to prototype to full retail release!

This is huge news for family gamers because each of these games is planned to be family friendly. We won’t have to worry about any of these games being inappropriate for our kids. Kickstarter projects can evolve over time and having a publisher commit out the gate that these games will be family appropriate is a boon.

Keep your eyes peeled on Engaged Family Gaming for more updates as we have them!

 

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Board games are such a great way to bring people together, and make wonderful gifts. The board game industry just keeps putting out amazing games. We have gone through many of the new games, and curated a list of games that have caught our attention, plus fit a wide range of ages, styles, and experience. Not to mention some themes that will grab your attention. We created a list with something for every member of the family in mind, plus gaming accessories that can be gifts alone or paired with a game.


Games for the Whole Family

These games are easy to learn and can be enjoyed by a wide range of players. We chose games are great for multi age game play as well, family members with a range of gaming experience. Plus we have included themes in a range of interests. Most importantly we chose games that would be fun to bring the family around the table and play.

Dragonkeepers

What can be cuter than herding little dragons? In Dragonkeepers you use the cards to create your “magic book”. This magic book tells you how many dragons as well as what kind you can take into your protection. On your turn you can manipulate the magic book, also known as playing a card. Throughout the game, you are trying to herd dragons, collect eggs, and amulet pieces.’

Dragonkeepers was the 2023 Toy Fair Game of the Show for the EFG team!

Qwirkle Color Blind Friendly

The well loved tile laying strategy game Qwirkle has come out with a new version that is color blind friendly. The game play has remained unchanged, but the tiles have some details added to mitigate for color blindness. First the colors of the tiles have been changed to provide better contrast. In addition to the contrast, there is a symbol in the center of each shape to indicate the different colors.

We have found that having features in games that mitigate the colors, such as unique shapes is helpful for anyone when playing where the lighting is less than optimal. My family often plays games at our camper and the light has a yellow tint, which can distort how colors look and make telling the different colors apart challenging. With the shape indicating color it removes some of that challenge.

Four Corners

In Four Corners, stunning artwork is paired with a strategic tile laying game with two different designs. You can choose the Galaxy with a space motif or Kaleidoscope with the colorful patters found inside its namesake. Calliope Games are the first publisher I have see used a tray to keep tiles in place during play. This was debuted by Calliope in Tsuro Phoenix Rising. This tray allows players to lift out the tiles and manipulate them without disturbing the tiles around them.

In Four Corners each player is manipulating the tiles to try to reach their own secret goal. This beautiful game has great table presence and with two styles can best match the interest of the giftee.

800 Pound Gorilla

Silly games are a perennial favorite for families. In 800 Pound Gorilla, players use a spinner to earn points either by being the first to grab a coconut or banana. The other way is to correctly guess the weight of the gorilla. In this fast paced ridiculous game, there are silly actions and utterances, along with the gorilla guessing. 


Small Box Games ( Perfect for a small container)

Around holiday time there are times where you need a small item. Whether it is a grab bag or a small container needing to be filled. Here are a few new games that will fit!

That’s Not a Hat

In the small box game, That’s Not a Hat, the deck is a series of picture card which are “gifts”. The gameplay is very simple. First players reveal a gift (card) and then flip it over. Then the cards shift based on the arrows. After the shift players need to remember what the cards are or bluff! How good is your memory or will you be able to bluff without being caught?

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza – 8-bit Edition!


The rules are in the name. For the game series Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza players are laying down cards as they say each word in the name. If the word spoken and the card match, there is a race to be the first to slap the pile. There are also special cards which require a specific silly action. In the 8 bit edition there are three new cards: fireball, beep boop, and barrel, each with their own silly action. The 8 bit game is great for fans of video games with the 8 bit style as well as those who hold nostalgia for the old 8 bit games.

For any soccer fans on your shopping list there is also Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza – 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Special Edition

Buy Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza Fifa 23 here on Amazon.


Games For the Experienced Gamer

Some of us have that gamer in our lives, or are that gamer, that loves more complex games . These are new games that will be a good fit for those who like more complexity and components to their games.

Horrified: Greek Monsters

Take on the famous monsters from Greek mythology in Horrified Greek Monsters.  This takes the well known game Horrified, where players fight classic monsters, and challenges the players to work together to save the Isle of Elysium. The monsters include: Minotaur, Cerberus, Chimera, Medusa, Basilisk, and Siren. They all have unique abilities and challenges so different combinations will change the game each time you play, and allow you to scale the difficulty. An additional lair mechanic has been added to this game, and you discover the lair of the monster before defeating them.

Casting Shadows

Battle your opponents with some adorable characters. In an enchanted world your battle takes place and you collect shadow fragments. Once you collect enough shadow fragments your character transforms into their shadow form. In this form you have additional powers. 

Casting Shadows originally was on Kickstarter, and has been a huge hit in our house. The artwork is absolutely wonderful, and what we have come to expect from Teeturtle and Unstable Games. Plus we find the battling mechanic easy to use, as we try and take each other out.

There is also a player board that is a good additional gift item. You can buy it here on Amazon.

Flamecraft

  • Age: 10+
  • Players: 1-5
  • Playtime: 60 minutes
  • Gameplay: Worker Placement, Hand Management, Set Collection
  • Publisher: Lucky Duck Games, Cardboard Alchemy
  • Buy Flamecraft here on Amazon

Take on the role of a Flamekeeper to place artisan dragons in the ideal shop location to optimize their skills and enchant the town. This beautiful game was originally a Kickstarter, and hit the gaming world by storm once it fulfilled. The artwork is adorable and the fantasy world these dragons live in is so engaging. By incorporating a few different gaming mechanics it makes it appealing for gamers who enjoy a bit more complexity, but remains easy to learn.


Our Favorite Themes

We all have favorite themes whether they are books, movies, shows, or other games. There is something about playing a game within your favorite world or with a beloved character. There have been a several games released in the past year that tap into a favorite topic.

Lord of the Rings Adventure Book

  • Age: 10+
  • Players 1-4
  • Playtime: 20 Minutes per Chapter
  • Gameplay: Cooperative, Strategy
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here on Amazon

Any fan of The Lord Of The Rings will enjoy playing through the different significant moments of the trilogy. The game plays over eight chapters, each being a critical plot point of the story. Through these challenges players collect story cards to complete challenges and try to advance to the next chapter. There is also a Corruption Track, so you need to keep an eye on the influence of the One Ring you are transporting. 

With the chapter format you can fit a session easily in an evening or gaming session with each chapter taking approximately 20 minutes. The adventure book guides you through each section with a map and beautiful art and miniatures. 

Villainous: Introduction to Evil

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes per player (40-80 minutes)
  • Gameplay: Variable Player Powers, Strategy
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here at Target:

The Villainous Series from Ravensburger has been a huge hit. In this Target exclusive, Ravensburger took the original Villainous game and streamlined it in a few ways. They only have four villains in this version, versus six in the original game. The villains included in this game are; Maleficent, Captain Hook, Ursula, or Prince John. The game is  asymmetric with each villain having different goals. The gameplay as well as the instructions have been streamlined. Plus videos have been created to make learning the game and getting started even easier. 

While the game has been updated, players can still take villains from other games and play up to four players. 

Scum and Villainy

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-3
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes per player (40-80 minutes)
  • Gameplay: Variable Player Powers, Strategy
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here on Amazon

In the first expansion to the Star Wars Villainous universe, Scum and Villainy adds a few more key villains for players to choose from. This can be a stand alone game, or the villains can be mixed with Star Wars Villainous. 

Buy Star War Villainous here on Amazon.

In Scum and Villainy, you can play as  Boba Fett, Seventh Sister, or Cad Bane. Just as in all the Villainous games, each villain has their own objective they are working toward to win. So players need to both work on their villain’s objective and try to disrupt the progress of the other villains.


Games for Younger Gamers

There are so many options for games for young children beyond the “classic” games everyone knows. What is great is the newer games tend to be more fun for the grown-ups playing with the kids. These are some of the newest games for kids age 7 and younger. The games below are organized from youngest to oldest.

Happy Marshmallow

Begin building skills with your toddler that will serve them in playing games and turn taking. Happy Marshmallow is an adorable two player game where the skills of turn taking and matching are reinforced as they pretend to cook marshmallows over a campfire. On their turn a player draws a card and places the matching marshmallow on their stick. The game is over and both players win when both sticks are filled.

Pete the Cat: Terrific Taco Game

  • Age: 3+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Gameplay: Set collection
  • Publisher: Briarpatch (University Games)
  • Buy here on Amazon

In this adorable game featuring Pete the Cat, players are helping Pete fill taco orders. Players are given three order cards. On their turn, players flip over ingredient cards (which stay face up) to try and find the ones they need to fulfill their orders. Watch out for the grumpy frog, if he is revealed all face up cards and flipped back face down. 

This game supports young games with their counting, matching, turn taking, and visual discrimination skills.

Exit Kids: Jungle of Riddles

  • Age: 5+
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playtime: 20 Minutes
  • Gameplay: Cooperative
  • Publisher  Kosmos
  • Buy here on Amazon

In the jungle you have found nine treasure chests, can you solve the puzzles to open all of them? The popular Exit Games now have a version for kids. Unlike the standard Exit games these games are replayable and none of the components are destroyed. The puzzles are designed without any reading, and the game contains escape room style puzzles and brainteasers.

Stomp the Plank

  • Age: 5+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playtime: 15 Minutes
  • Gameplay: Push Your Luck, player elimination
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Buy here on Amazon

Elephant pirates are on an adventure, and want the treasure. The elephants are trying to get treasure from Captain Giraffe. Players can draw as many treasure cards as they wish, but for each repeated card they draw their elephant moves forward on the plank. Who will be the last one remaining on the pirate ship?

Beat the 8 Ball

  • Age: 6+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Gameplay: Party, Dexterity
  • Publisher: Blue Orange Games
  • Buy here on Amazon

Challenge your patience and test your timing with Beat the 8 Ball. Players need to time when they will release their ball after the 8 Ball is sent into the funnel. If you beat the 8 Ball you score points, but landing after the 8 Ball will cost you. The challenge is to be the one closest without getting behind the 8 ball.


Board Game Accessories

Being a gamer lends itself to collecting. Sometimes it is challenging to find an amazing fit or you want to get something that is not a new game. Perhaps you need a small item for a small holiday container. There are great accessories that can enhance the gaming experience for a huge range of gamers.

Game Storage On the Shelf

Storage of board games can get challenging. Depending on your storage situation you may need to store them on their sides instead of laying flat. One item I have invested in are bands to hold the box closed and minimize the change of pieces falling out. This also helps with traveling with games where the lid is a smidge loose.

Click here for Silicone Rubber Bands on Amazon

Click here for Elastic Box Bands on Amazon

Traveling with Games

There are bags for carrying games, and then there are bags! You can get a more basic tote bag to bring your latest favorite to game night, or go all out on a special game hauling backpack or tote.

Click here for a USA Board Game Bag

Basic tote from Amazon

Game Box Storage

Ticket To Ride storage bins

Bins for game components

Jazz Up Your Game

100 Wooden Meeples

Keeping it Neat On the Table

Foldable bowls

Mini Silicone Pinch Bowls

Dice Trays

Simplifying for the Little Games

Gamewright Card holder


For More Gift Ideas

EFG Essentials: Great Board Games for Kids


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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On March 31st 2015 Calliope Games set out on a game development journey of titanic proportions (Yes. I went there.) They launched The Titan Series, a Kickstarter campaign, to help fund a dozen games designed by renowned game designers all at once. This was a difficult task, but it was a fruitful one. Their Kickstarter goal was satisfied relatively quickly and they set to work bringing this game shelf worth of board games to live.

A year and a half has passed and we are finally nearing the home stretch on the first three games to be released in the Titan Series. Take a look below to see if any of them interest you!

Running Of the Bulls

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Running of the Bulls is a race to the coast where players take on the role of tourists who are vacationing in the idyllic village of El Toro. The goal of the game is to help the tourists outwit a herd of rampaging bulls and make it to the tourist destinations at the bottom of the map.

The game is broken up into three rounds, called “days.” During each day players will use actions cards to help navigate the village streets and trick the bulls. Having your tourists reach their destinations earns you points. The player with the most points wins!

The game board for Running of the Bulls is bright and colorful. It features hilarious images of bulls being wild in this once peaceful town.

 

Hive Mind

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Hive Mind is an interesting take on the trivia game genre. The goal is for the person whose turn it is to guess the same answer to a given question as one or more people at the table. For example, the question might be “What are three things that are better when they are hot?” Every player will secretly answer the questions and compare them. The active player will take one step further into the hive for every person they match, and will take steps backwards if they fail to match anyone. The goal is to NOT get kicked out of the hive.

The game comes with 300 cards that each has 6 questions. That’s 1800 questions total within the box! That should be more than enough to keep your family or  gaming group (of up to 12 people) going for a VERY long time.

 

Menu Masters

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I am more familiar with this game because I have actually played it. I played a demo of the game with a prototype copy while I was at New York Toy Fair. 

Menu Masters is a clever game where player takes on the role of a renowned chef. The goal is to create the best menu that you can which earns you victory points. You do this by earning money and spending it on ingredients at various stores (A butcher, a bakery, etc).

On each turn you can choose to either get in line to purchase the ingredients you need OR forgo gathering ingredients in favor of opening the shop yourself. Identifying when it is a good time to take either action is key to victory.

The game components feature cheeky illustrations of various styles of chef. All of them look like caricatures of the kinds of chefs we might see on food TV or in movies. I really enjoy what I have seen of the art so far.

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The Connecticut Festival of Independent Games took place on September 17th and we were lucky enough to have boots on the ground there to get a look at some of the great games they had to offer.

It was a day-long event at the Friendly Neighborhood Tabletop Shop in Newington, CT.  We couldn’t even come close to playing everything that was there as there were dozens of games on display and several of them  (like Dragoon by Lay Waste Games) had long lines waiting to play them.

We didn’t leave without getting our hands on some great games though. Take a look below for a taste of what we played.

Awesomebots

Awesomebots is a card game that was on display with Geek Fever Games. It is one they had been trying to get in our hands for a review for a long time and it only took a few turns to see why. It’s a great experience.

The goal of the game is to earn victory points by converting resources drawn from your deck of cards into robots. In a two player game the deck of cards is divided out evenly between the two players and then play will take place simultaneously. On each turn a player will:

  1. Draw up to 4 cards in their hand
  2. Play a card from their hand ; paying for it using the resources they already have in their workshop
  3. Choose a card to “pass” to their opponent and place it in a pile in front of their opponent.
  4. Choose a card to keep for themselves and place it in a pile in front of themselves.
  5. Repeat

Players will repeat those steps until they run out of cards, at which point they will pick up the pile their opponent has “passed” to them and they will continue. Play continues until all of the cards have been either “upgraded” or “scrapped” per the instructions on each card.

The game was great fun and we can’t wait to get more time in with this one now that we know how to play.

Juxtabo

Juxtabo is an abstract strategy game by Funnybone Toys that is all about color and pattern matching. All of the game pieces are double sided, multicolored chips. The goal is to find (or create) certain patterns in an array of those chips. You do this by placing your own pieces on top of existing ones. The trick to the game is that you can only place a disk if the bottom side matches the color of the piece you are placing it on. This means you almost have to look at your pieces sideways as you think about your next move.

We played a few games and really enjoyed the time we spent with the game. A review is incoming as they were gracious enough to give us a sample copy for review.

Shadow Strike – Ninja Combat Game

Shadow Strike – Ninja Combat Game plays just like it sounds. It is a hex based ninja miniatures game that allows up to 6 players at a time to battle it out with a pair of crafty ninjas. The game is fast and all of the rules are simplified to allow players to get through their turns quickly.

Our favorite part of the game had to be the art style though. It was bright and colorful and featured chibi ninjas that were as adorable as they were fierce.

Cauldron: Bubble and Boil

Cauldron was probably the best game that we played all day. Each player takes on the role of a witch or warlock who is trying to be the leader of their guild. They decide their leader through a potion brewing contest!

Each turn players will have a chance to place hexes on their opponents, harvest materials from their gardens, and put new recipes in their spellbooks. The trick is that each card they draw is a spell, a piece that can be laid down as a garden, and a recipe and they can only be used for one thing!

Even  better? There is a memory aspect that adds a bit of randomness to the game. Once a player places their materials in their cauldron (or a recipe in their recipe book) they can’t look at them again until the game ends!

Unstable

Unstable is a game that will be coming to Kickstarter in February of next year. It is a unique take on the role and move genre that we all played to death when we were kids. The difference here is that while players are rolling to move around the colorful board and collecting blocks to help them get to the center of the board there are also a series of cards that can be used to change the game entirely.

We enjoyed our limited time with their prototype. We especially liked the wooden blocks used in the game. They gave the game a very solid feel in the same way that the chips in Splendor do.

Super  Weapon

Super Weapon was a lot of fun. It played similarly to Roll for it by Calliope Games, but it had a very different (and hilarious) twist. Players play the role of different countries trying to use their super weapons to destroy each other.

They do this by rolling dice to complete launch code cards. Once they complete both of their launch code cards (using 6 dice) they can they can target an opponent and deal damage to them. The goal is to be the last man country standing.

Two things make this game different from other dice rolling games. First each country is in control of an AI that has a specific power. They might allow you to reroll one die for free, or deal bonus damage. There are also Agent cards that players draw each turn. They also effect the game by allowing players to manipulate, reroll, or steal dice.

Mr. Game

Mr. Game is another interesting take on the traditional roll and move genre. This time the key is that the rules of the game are constantly changing thanks to a deck of cards that let you move the goal, add/remove spaces, etc. That by itself isn’t terribly different. What makes the game VERY different is that for each game one person is put in charge of the rulebook and is designated “Mr. Game.” Their job is, throughout the course of the game, to make any and all rules decisions that may come up as a result of vague wording or interesting situations. For example, they would decide what it means to “place a tile anywhere on the board” and so on. This can lead to some very interesting experiences. This is especially true if you get a group of very savvy gamers at the table.

We were also fortunate enough to get a sample game from the developer so we will have a review as soon as we can!

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GenCon 2015 is happening as we speak and board game publishers and independent designers alike are spread out across the show floor demoing some very exciting games. Below is a list of some of the more exciting family friendly games being shown.

 

Tail Feathers

Mice and Mystics is am amazing cooperative gaming experience. Plaid Hat Games knows that they have a great game world on their hands and are in the process of developing a miniatures based war game in the Mice and Mystics universe called Tail Feathers.  It is, without question, our most anticipated game of the near future.

Mysterium

We are huge fans of Dixit here at Engaged Family Gaming. Mysterium is a game that shares some similarities in that the game is driven by people’s empathy and understanding the potential meaning behind a given image. The difference is that Mysterium has a specific end goal. Players are each psychic mediums who are attempting to solve a murder with the help of a spirit who is sending them dream images to communicate who the killer was, where it took place, and what the murder weapon was (Sound familiar?)

This will likely be a bit difficult for younger players, but will be  a great game to have around as your family gets older

7 Wonders: Duel

This game shares a lot theme-wise with 7 Wonders. The difference is that instead of drafting cards from a hand that you pass from player to player you draft your cards from a pattern of cards placed face down and face up on the table between you. Also, as the name suggests this is a game intended for two players.

Two players games can be difficult for families as they often don’t allow for highly varied skill sets, but it is hard to ignore the pedigree. Stay tuned for more info as release comes closer.

Thieves!

Thieves_Calliope Games

We posted about this one the other day when it was announced. Thieves was originally published in Europe but it is finally making its way to the US. Calliope Games does a great job of picking amazing games to publish so we are looking forward to getting our hands on this one.

Ninja Camp

Maybe we jump have summer camp on the brain since our oldest just came back from one, but this looks like a very fun little game.

Players each take on the roll of a Ninja competing to be the student of a master.  Each player starts with two cards, each of which is a ninja move, and the rest of the cards are dealt face-up on the play area. Players progress across the board and add new moves to their hand.It looks like a lot of fun

Smash-up: Munchkin

This is pretty straight forward. It is a munchkin themed version of Smash-Up. Both of these are popular games that turn genres upside down in an attempt at random humor. This looks like a lot of fun.

Broom Service


This one was a Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee for 2015. Anything that is even NOMINATED for such a prestigious award is going to be worth at least a look.

 

Nefarious The Mad Scientist Game

 

This is the second edition of a game that was released several years ago.

What kid doesn’t want to play the role of a mad scientist? This is purportedly a quick playing game where players are racing to build crazy contraptions like freeze rays and attack robots before their opponents can.

Penny Press

 

I would never have thought that I would want so desperately to play a board game based on running a news paper during the early 1900’s, but this worker placement game is doing it to me.

Players each have a number of reporters that they can spread out throughout the city to cover different stories to fill up their paper. Different stories are worth different amounts, but take up different amounts of space on the paper. Its worker placement at what looks to be its finest.

Medieval Academy

 

This a game where each player takes on the role of a squire who is competing with the other players in an attempt to earn chivalry points. The art is hilarious and it is being published by IELLO who has done some really great games in the past.

 

This list is not even close to complete. we are certain that there are tons of games we didn’t have enough room to talk about. What did we miss? Sound off in the comments!

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The American Tabletop Awards are awards given to board games that were released in the previous calendar year. The awards committee is comprised of a number of talented and experience board games media specialists.

The awards are given in four categories: Early Gamers, Casual Games, Strategy Games, and Complex Games.

The 2020 American Tabletop Award Awards have been announced. Here are the winners.

Early Gamers

Winner – Draftosaurus

Designers: Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, Théo Rivière
Publisher: Ankama

Your goal in Draftosaurus is to have the dino park most likely to attract visitors. To do so, you have to draft dino meeples and place them in pens that have some placement restrictions. Each turn, one of the players roll a die and this adds a constraint to which pens any other player can add their dinosaur.

American Tabletop Awards

Casual Games

Winner – Ship Shape

Designer: Rob Daviau
Publisher: Calliope Games

Set sail for fun, adventure, and riches with ShipShape! This game is about outwitting and outbidding all others to earn the biggest bounty while keeping your hold shipshape! As a savvy captain, you must skillfully use your crew to fill your ship’s hold with the best combination of treasure, cannons, and perhaps some risky – but lucrative – contraband. Over three voyages, use numbered crew cards to bid for crates off the central stack. Score coins by comparing your holds with everyone else, looking only at what’s visible in your hold!

American Tabletop Awards

Strategy Games

Winner

Wingspan

Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Wingspan is a competitive bird-collection, engine-building Game for 1-5 players. You are bird enthusiasts researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your aviary. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). these habitats focus on several key aspects of growth: gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower. Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them the winner is the player with the most points accumulated from birds, bonus cards, end-of-round goals, eggs, cached food, and tucked birds.

American Tabletop Awards

Complex Games

Winner

The Taverns of Tiefenthal

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: North Star Games

In the village of Tiefenthal lies “The Tavern of the Deep Valley”. There, all citizens from the area gather, but it’s important to attract new, wealthy guests for only then is there enough money to expand the tavern, which will then lure nobles into the tavern as well. But which tavern expansion is best? Should you focus on money? Or rather ensure that the beer will keep flowing?

American Tabletop Awards

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I had the opportunity to meet with the staff at Calliope Games while I attended New York Toy Fair last week. I was excited to talk to them about their upcoming press your luck game The Mansky Caper. The game, designed by Ken Franklin and funded by Kickstarter, will be reaching stores later this year and I am super excited to play it with my family.

This game lived inside Ken’s mind for what sounds like decades. It was originally conceived as a thought experiment. Think about this:

Imagine that you are standing in a room. Inside that room are 300,000 boxes. All of those boses have an $5 bill. ONE of those boxes, however, contains nuclear device that would end all life on Earth. How many of those boxes would you open?

Interesting right? There is no right answer either. It’s going to vary for each person thinking about it. I don’t know what answer I would give, but I do know that I want to play an game that will help me find out!

The Mansky Caper is themed around an prohibition era heist. Players take on the roles of members of a family of thieves as they attempt to rob from Mr. Mansky. Gameplay consists of moving from room to room and breaking into an series of safes.

The key is that each safe has a set amount of loot in it, as well as trouble cards that will hinder your thievery, or set off the alarm and force you to leave. You will always know what was in the safe from the beginning as each room clearly labels the tokens that will be going into the safe as game setup takes place. This means that you have to pay attention to what your opponents have done and make your decisions appropriately.

Another super cool feature in the game is the way it handles variable player powers. Each player takes on the role of an member of an criminal family. They each have unique powers that can be incredibly powerful in the right situation. Unfortunately, they can never use their power for themselves. Instead, they can call in favors from their friends using favor tokens. This means that when players choose a character they’re actually choosing the power that they DON’T want to have access to. That’s an interesting concept.

The Mansky Caper will be releasing later on this year barring any logistical hurdles with the components. Keep your eyes on EFG for more information as we get closer to launch including a review.

 

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Penny Arcade has been running their PAX conventions all around the world for years now, but they have always been very broad. They have reached out to all corners of the gaming world and tried to bring them together. This wide net approach is great, but it isn’t a perfect match for the board game community. Board game culture is dominated by massive board game focused conventions like GenCon, Essen Spiel, Origins, and others. So it only makes sense that PAX would eventually expand in that direction. PAX Unplugged was their first attempt at doing so.

The EFG team has had some time to reflect on our experiences there now that we are home, unpacked, and survived the holiday season and I’m happy to report that we had a blast. Unplugged was a great show and it still has room to grow into a major event.

The event took place in the Philadelphia Convention Center. Its a massive facility located in the heart of Philly. It is also right across the street from the Reading Terminal Market for easy access (during the day) to all sorts of awesome food. I was impressed by the facility compared to some of the other convention centers I’ve been to in the past. It was sprawling, but I never felt lost while inside.

There were just too many games for us to cover all of them. We would have driven ourselves mad. Take a look below at our impressions of the games we DID get a chance to see.

Games we came home with

Eleminis 

Flying Meeple


Eleminis is a game for 2-8 players ages five and up.  This is a light set collecting game.  In this game you are trying to collect five different elements, but there are limitations to what you can trade and other players can use action cards to thwart you.  This game is reminiscent of Hoagie with building a set and the ability to spoil the other players’ sets.

Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs 

Flying Meeple


This is a very fast paced and simple game for 2-6 players ages 3 and up.  In Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs you are trying to be the first to collect a set of all the same pet, but you can only hold 7 cards in your hand.  Discarded cards are placed face up for other players to take.  This was super quick and easy to play, and a very simple game for the youngest gamers.

Down Force 

Restoration Games 


Downforce is a old game, know under other names which has been given a modern update.  In Downforce players bid on cars and each car the win gives them a power.  The cars are raced around a track using a deck for moving the cars.  There are choke points build in so you can block other cars.  Players also bet on the cars, and the winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game, regardless if you win the race or not.  The board is also double sided with two levels of play.  Suggestions for how to scale the game down to younger players is also included in the rules.

Stop Thief 

Restoration Games


Stop Thief is a revival of the game that was originally published in 1979.  In this game player take on the roll of investigators trying to catch several thieves to collect the reward money so they can retire.  This game incorporates an app that provides sound clues to the location of the thief.  The app provided different levels of difficulty in play as well as a retro mode with vintage sounds.  There is also a cooperative mode in development.  This is a great deductive reasoning game for the whole family.  

 

Indulgence 

Restoration Games


Indulgence is a trick taking game similar to Hearts.  In this game, which is set in Renaissance Italy players take turns playing the ruler and putting out three edicts (rules) to follow with which cards to collect or avoid.  One players per round can also decide to play the sinner and do the opposite of the edicts.  The risk is high and the reward great if you accomplish the sin.  The game has beautiful components that play up the opulence of the Renaissance theme.

 

Duck! Duck! Go!

Ape Games 


Duck! Duck! Go! is a game for 2-4 players for players 8 and up.  Using movement cards you move your ducky around the board so it makes the rounds and touches all three buoys.  The first ducky to do get back to the drain after touching all three buoys wins. The game board is build using two sided tiles so each game has a unique board.  

 

Games We Played

Bubblee Pop  

Quick Simple Fun Games


Bubblee Pop is an two player strategy game that attempts to mimic game play elements from match-3 puzzle games like Candy Crush and Puzzle Quest. It does remarkably well considering how Video Gamey I thought those mechanics were.

The designer managed to capture an lot of the strategy elements from the two player versions of these types of games and threw it onto an board game. This is interesting because it removes the sometimes frantic nature of the video game version and encourages deeper strategies.

Stuffed Fables

Plaid Hat Games


Stuffled Fables is easily our most anticipated board game right now. We’ve where excited about it since it was announced. Our hype intensified when we interviews Jerry Hawthorne on our podcast. We’re even MORE excited now that we’ve played it.

The theme is adorable. Players take on the roles of a little girl’s stuffed animals as they defend her while she sleeps. The game is played by pulling dice from an bag and rolling them to perform various skill checks. These things are cool, but they aren’t what sets the game apart.

Stuffed Fables is separated from the crowd by its Adventure Book. It’s an spiral bound, choose-your-own adventure style book where each

Shiba Inu House 

Renegade Game Studio


In Shiba Inu House you are matching pictures from a card with one two or three Shiba Inus sitting on a colorful dog house.  Using the cards you match the dog image and build a doghouse. The pictures can get mashed up as long as the image is correct of each dog with their house.  The graphics are very bright and colorful

Doggy Go 

Renegade Game Studio


Doggy Go is a speed  game for 1-4 player game for ages 6 and up.  Players are trying to complete a pattern on acrobat cards with their doggie tiles and acrobat item cards.  You gain the acrobat cards for correctly completing your pattern first.  The player with the most cards wins.

Castles of Caladale

Renegade Game Studios


Castles of Caladale is a tile laying game for 1-4 players ages 8 and up.  In this game each player is trying to rebuild their castle using the mixed up pieces left from all the castles being destroyed.  The player to build the largest and most complete castle, and scores the most point on their castle wins.  

Adapt 

Gate Keeper Games


Adapt is a card and dice game for 2-3 players ages 14 and up where you start as a guppy and your fish evolves over the course of the game, and then uses their adaption to battle at the end of the game with the other players.  The game has a reversible mat to simplify the game and make it a game for ages 7 and up.

Kaiju Crush 

Fireside Games

Kaiju Crush is a light strategy game for 2-4 players ages 10 and up.  Each player takes their turn as a Kaiju with unique powers and they move to crush a City Tile and fight other kaiju. Players earn victory points and when they run out of movements the player with the most victory points wins.


Dicey Peaks 

Calliope Games


Dicey Peaks is a 2-6 player game for ages 8 and up, and is the newest game from Calliope Games.  In this game players are trying to climb a mountain.  They need to manage their Oxygen levels by deciding when to climb and when to rest.  They also need to watch out for the Yeti. The first player to the top of the mountain is the winner.

 

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