Upcoming Ice Cool Tournament with support from Atalia

 

With the kind support of the distributor Atalia we will be hosting an Ice Cool tournament on 19 April 2017 at Outpost Gamecenter in Brussels. The winner of the tournament will receive a game box for free ! Head over to our Meetup Group page to register for the tournament (free participation).

 

What is Ice Cool all about ?

The game is published by Brain Games and the author is Brian Gomez and illustrator is Reinis Pētersons. The game has a 7.0 rating on BGG, but after playing this game a couple of times I can tell you this grade goes up easily to an 8 or 9 points.

Ice Cool is a flicking dexterity game for two to four players, although the more people that play the better it is. The game plays out in about 30 minutes, but it’s the kind of game you can dip in and out of and play for as long as you like. It’s fun with adults and kids and revamp the concept of pitching or flicking !

Game Components !

Let’s start with the gamebox who is neatly designed to unfold into the playfield you will use during the game.

These penguins are real rascals: if your flick is good enough, they can slide not only straight, they can make curves and even jump over the walls.

The artwork throughout the game is absolutely gorgeous. The classrooms are beautifully realized and really add to the experience, while the penguins themselves are delightfully dumpy and cute.

The cards are of good quality but I would still advise to sleeve them if you play with kids. The ID cards are especially well designed.

The rulebook is beautifully done and covers all eventualities and in several languages.

How do you play ?

Ice Cool is a flicking game in which each round one of the players takes the role of the Hall Monitor (also called “the Catcher”) – his aim will be to catch each other penguin and get points for that. The others (also known as “Runners”) will try to run through several doors, thus gaining fish (that give them points) on their way.

When either the Hall Monitor has caught each other penguin once or any of the others has gone through all 3 doors that have fish on them, the round is over. Each player will take the role of the Hall Monitor once and at the end of the game the winner will be the one with the most points on their fish cards.

The action is fun and frenetic, and the sliding penguin theme makes sense as well as being cute: the floors of the rooms are even made to look like ice rinks.

A short 2 minutes video is better than words:

If you want another look at this, have a look at the Watch it Played great Youtube video on how this all works.

It doesn’t take long for those good at dexterity games to start to get a hang of the various flicking techniques, but you’ll find even the best players having terrible turns. With a special attention to details from the artwork to component design. I highly recommend the game to any groups that love a clever little dexterity game! I hope to see you on April 19th for our tournament. RSVP now for free on our Meetup group.

 

Discovery of Urbion

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Having very much enjoyed Onirim (second edition) and Sylvion previously I was pleased to try out Urbion the other evening. Unfortunately this trip into the dream world wasn’t as rewarding as my others….

In Urbion you are trying to achieve balance in each of the cities. These four (of twelve total) cards in the middle must have equilibrium (the sum of the cards on either side of it must combine to make zero) in order for it to be claimed and scored. There may not be more than 3 cards on either side of a city. You must score all twelve to win, if you exhaust the deck then it’s a defeat.

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Half of the cards are dark and have negative values (-1 to -3) and half are light with positive values (+1 to +4). Like the other Oniverse games there are also a number of “oh shit” cards which are +/-5 and when drawn must be placed onto the side of a city that has the biggest imbalance. You could also not play these cards but you will have to either lose all cards of a currently balanced city or the top 4 cards of the deck, and if you draw anymore nightmare cards you will still have to resolve them the same! All cards also have icons on that must be matched to the relevant city card be placed.
The gameplay is probably the least fiddly of the 3 that was played so far, there wasn’t a need to keep referring to the rules for what certain cards did, or what the options were for nightmare cards. You simply draw a card and then place a card, or discard one to claim balanced cities (may also shed some cards on cities that sum to zero, a fresh city card is then placed out), or discard one to swap any two cards on the light or dark sides.

Even with it being straightforward I didn’t get on with it at all. The icons seemed to get lost in the artwork, which I found to be much less appealing than the bright colours of Sylvion and the simple and clear style of Onirim.
The game works well and is challenging (I lost 3 straight times) but it just wasn’t really as much fun for me as Onirim (which is a fantastic 10-15 minute solo game) or as intersting as Sylvion (an intruiging tower defence solo game with clever gameplay options).

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Overall it strikes me as a game that could really do with a Second Edition, a few more cards to make some variation to the standard gameplay (there is a mini expansion included, which I didn’t play) and the artwork, whilst not needing changing wholesale, could do with being made brighter (I have used a filter on the photo to enhance the colours) and the icons more distinct so that it “pops”

Gamer fatigue and the growth of the hobby

Formal Ferret Games

In a recent episode of Breaking Into Board Games, we discussed our predictions about 2017. One of my predictions was that we would start seeing a cap on attendance at larger conventions. I wanted to continue on that subject with a wider lens, looking at a possible scenario we may be facing in the coming years.

The board game industry is growing at an explosive rate (revenue from hobby board games grew 56% from 2014 to 2015; I’d expect similar numbers when the numbers come in for 2016), and I’ve heard a few pundits indicate that there’s no end in sight. As an independent board game designer/publisher, I certainly hope that’s the case.

But I always try to plan for contingencies, and part of that is planning for the possibility that this explosive growth slows, stops, or even reverses.

To be honest, I would expect the hobby to continue…

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Short News: Dice Forge (Libellud)

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Eric Martin took the 1st pictures at the New York Toy Fair of the upcoming game of Libellud called Dice Forge. First talks about this game are a year old; already in January 2016 the publisher was talking about it. Illustrated by Biboun, from the author of Seasons, Himalaya and Xidit (Regisse Bonnessée) the game will be a 2-4 players with a 40 min playtime due mid of May in stores for an MRSP price of ~40€.

The purpose of the game is to accumulate victory points and becoming half-gods (you start as a human hero) through the course of the game. You can throw your dice to do 2 actions:

  • Give Gold -> When you’re at a sanctuary, making an offer to the God will allow you to improve your sides and collect more and more resources (of that sanctuary type) or glory points.
  • Get Solar or Lunar Fragments -> this is used for achievements who will give you glory points when you accomplish challenges. By standing at the Solar or Lunar Gate you will be able to exchange them for immediate or permanent bonuses. You can also once per turn spend 2x Fragments to perform an extra action.

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Each side of the die will be replaceable, think about the concept of deck-building; everybody starts with the same set of dice which can evolve over the course of the game. You make offerings to the Gods to receive in return new sides to place/replace on your dice.

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Through the boardgame you’ll be able to meet, fight and collect artifacts and pets ! All that in a 10 rounds timing; so things can move along very fast.

 

Reminder on Painting Miniatures

Try to hold the miniature with the most touchpoints possible (like here 3 fingers = 3 touchpoints). Alternative is to glue them (I use Pritt poster buddies) on an empty medicine bottle or cork !

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Try to rest your forearm and holding hand on the table in order to limit your movement. Rest your arm holding the brush also on the table, if needed, even your painting hand holding the brush on the table so that only your fingers are doing the brush movements.

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It’s hard to paint details when your paint is “thick” so always water down your paint so that it’s easier to apply on your details. You can make a wet palette (see tutorial from Guslado’s Games) or buy one like I did; the Privateer Press P3 Wet Palette Model Kit (it has refill kits) that works great. Here’s how to work with it efficiently.

 

2017 Anticipation

Boards and Bees

In my last post, I looked back at 2016.  In this one, I look ahead to 2017.  But not before I look back and see what I was looking forward to last year:

  • Back to the Future: An Adventure Through Time – It came out to some pretty meh reviews.  I haven’t played, and am not as eager as I was.
  • Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks – Not out yet, but I hear it’s close.
  • The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game – Now scheduled for Summer 2017.
  • Gloomhaven – Should be out early 2017.
  • Millennium Blades – A big hit.  Everyone who has played this seems to love it.  I still haven’t gotten to.  Sadness.
  • The Networks – I demoed it at Gen Con, and really enjoyed it.  Hope for a full play sometime.
  • Quadropolis – Days of Wonder’s release for the year was pretty well received, though not…

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Game Buzz: Yamataï

Boards and Bees

Today’s preview covers a game that should be coming out in May called

image by BGG user W Eric Martin image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Yamataï is a new game by designers Bruno Cathala and Marc Paquien that is going to be published by Days of Wonder.  It’s for 2-4 players and takes between 40 and 80 minutes to complete.  Every builder in the kingdom of Yamataï has been charged by Queen Himiko to build up the kingdom into the jewel of the archipelago.  Your goal is to be the best builder.

The game comes with a board, four player mats, six turn order meeples, 80 wooden boats, 10 fleet tiles, 28 building tiles, 7 mountain tiles, 34 culture tokens, 8 sacred ground tiles, 73 coins, 24 prestige point tokens, and 18 specialist tiles.  To set up, five specialist tiles are revealed, as well as five fleet tiles.  Culture tokens are randomly distributed across the board…

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Handling Cheaters

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Over the course of the last year, it happens that a few times members came back to me explaining one or the other player was “cheating” at their table. Beyond the frustration they shared, they often asked me “what are you going to do about it ?”. I have to give it some thoughts before actually taking actions. Here’s some insight:

First of all, let’s take a look at why do people cheat:
– They do not know how to lose or they want to make sure they win,
– They have no moral compass and therefore do not care how they win,
– They want to win so badly that cheating seems the right path to take,
– They’re afraid of social exclusion because they cannot win and thus they cheat to improve their chances, etc.

moral-compassMost people have a moral compass and that they see cheating in games as acceptable because the stakes are low… at least the official ones. You play a game which is just a game, it does not come with any financial gain or punishment, it does not affect your future and it will most likely be forgotten in a matter of days, if not hours.

Our morality mechanism doesn’t really engulf board games properly and thus it keeps some of us in not-so-tight ropes and we allow ourselves to cheat. Why do people really cheat in a game with literally no stakes? First of all, that’s not true, there are stakes, even though it’s they do not seem life changing or material. It’s players’ self worth.

Here’s what I think makes people cheat in board games and other low stakes endeavors:
– they associate winning with higher intelligence,
– they need social recognition as they believe others see winners in board games as smarter that people who do not win so often.

Ask people not why they cheat, but what does their performance at board games tell about them and you will most likely get at least a few awkward answers, you’ll find some people who dodge the question and try to escape with a joke. I cannot say how do these people really feel, but I suspect that they suffer from low self esteem, they want to prove themselves in your (the smart gal/guy who does not cheat) eyes and they have no idea of how to deal with losing.

Your ability to win specific games or your ability to do well in certain genres tells this about you: you are good at that. There are things I noticed in my still rather short years of experience with board games:
– Genius level IQ does not necessarily make one good at board games, it might but it doesn’t have to
– Being very good at one game does not make you good at all games
– People with below average IQ and real problems in their day to day life can be brilliant at one or more games

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Losing and dealing gracefully with it is a matter of education and knowing your self worth. Cheating is the way of people to circumvent life questions such as “Who am I really?”, “Am I a smart person?”, “How do others see me and what do I do with their opinions?”. My only advice for those who cheat at board games is to… not. If you cheat, you will always know you did that, it will lower your self esteem ever further because you will never know if you could have done it without cheating. Even if you’re not caught (ever) and you get to win, people will only see you as a person who has a way with board games, but life is more complicated and cheating is not an option. You’re only cheating yourself.

c4b8fcb027a1031a20dec91fce35a329As for how to deal with people who cheat… that’s the real question. Aside of never playing with them again – there are a few alternatives to consider:
– First off, catch them and expose them, but…
– Do not make them feel ashamed and small (they probably do that already),
– Explain to them that winning is not everything, losing is OK, the experience matters and it is about having fun, learning and spending time with friends and family, make them feel human again and give them another chance. Show them that you do not think less of them if they lose, but you will think less of them if they’re cheating again.