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Preorder announcements for July

We’ve had heaps of new preorders pop up on the site in the last few weeks, so here’s a neat little summary for you! Get peace of mind by ordering early, and we’ll let you know when your game is available to pick up.

Check out the rest of the games currently available for preorder here!

The Island of El Dorado + expansion

Available: May 2019

The Island of El Dorado was a big hit on Kickstarter last year, but if you missed out then here’s your chance! A new expansion has been released, and as part of the launch they are reprinting the base game too.

Get the base game here.

Get the expansion here.

Need both? Grab a bundle with both here.

The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls

Available: November 2018

The Binding of Isaac is a cult favourite video game, and it’s making an awesome translation over to the tabletop in the Four Souls card game. Full of the same sick sense of humour and adorable(ish) illustrations, the designers of the original game have done a great job at re-creating the feel in a card game.

Check it out here.

 

Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit

Available: August 2018

The newest game from the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling has you competing to capture the escaped creatures of Newt Scamander.

Find the fantastic beasts here!

Seal Team Flix

Available: August 2018

SEAL TEAM FLIX is a fully co-operative or solo tactical dexterity game that pits 1-4 players against an eco-terrorist group called, Gaia’s Hope. Players will travel modern through urban landscapes, such as an office building, warehouse, bank vault and three others.

Get your flick on here

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Wrapping up Flip the Table

Today is June 1st, meaning South Australia’s History Festival is officially over. While we didn’t get to a single event (we’ve been busy yo!), we’ve had plenty of people coming in to visit ours 🙂

If you managed to make it to the exhibition during the festival let us know what you thought. We really enjoyed having the space set up, and we got to talk to so many people about the games of old all during May.

Flip the Table may be gone for now, but at least we have plenty of photos. Thank you to everybody that came in to check it out. We’d also like to thank the History Trust of South Australia, Catherine, Pauline, Andrew, Sheryl and Chas for their help in tracking down so many cool and historic games.

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The 4 C’s of good game design

It’s time to get scientific. Today we’re going to look at the elements of a good tabletop game; Choice, Challenge, and Chance. Pretty much every game will include these 3 Cs in one way or another.

Choice

Let’s start with the obvious one. Choice is 100% a requirement for games. Choice is how you differentiate a game from an interactive story. Choice is the strategy, the thing that makes your playthrough unique from somebody else’s. A good game gives you the opportunity to forge your own path, follow your own strategy and see how it goes.

Rather than listing games as examples, let’s look at the type of chance you can include;

  • Strategy: Games like Lanterns have very little customisation. Your choice is in your strategy and how you play.
  • Abilities: One step up is games like Pandemic and Hot Shots where the choice you make at the start affects your whole game. The character you choose will affect the abilities you have and how you play.
  • Do what you want: Pretty much everything in Dead of Winter. Live your true self while trying to achieve your objectives. Cross road cards, turn actions, inventory management, sneaky manouevres.

The choices you make in a game is what makes it so fun, it’s how you show your skill and go from passenger to participant. Somewhere in-between Choice and Chance lies the perfect game.

Challenge

What is a game without a goal? Put simply, a toy. It’s something to interact with without a specific to-do list, like putty or a fidget spinner. Of course free-play has it’s place, but when talking about games you need something to do, an achievement to unlock, a target to aim for.

When thinking about your game think about what your players need to achieve, the objective they need to meet. For example;

  • Organ Attack: Be the last person standing
  • Dominion: Have the most Victory Points
  • Happy Salmon: Be the first person to get rid of your cards
  • Tatsu: Destroy all of one type of your opponent’s tiles

For a game to feel satisfying we need to have a challenge to overcome or an goal to meet.

Chance

You need chance in a game to make the obstacles more hazardous, and the challenge harder to achieve. Do you want to know what a game is if there’s no aspect of chance? A puzzle. It’s something that you can, with a little brain power and persistence, be guaranteed to be able to win. A game without any randomness is essentially a rubix cube.

When playing a competitive game “chance” is introduced through the other players’ actions. You don’t know exactly what they are going to do, so you can’t always plan for it. Even a game like chess integrates chance through your opponent. Players strategise, make assumptions, make mistakes, and generally act unpredictably. For their opponents all this can be summed up as “chance”.

Here are a few examples of randomness in games;

  • Hot Shots: The fire cards drawn after each turn
  • Lanterns: Another player taking the card you desired
  • Dead of Winter: Cross Roads cards, secret objective cards, dice rolls
  • Sagrada: The dice drawn from the bag

Be wary with this one. A game is a test of skill, and a game that is too chance-based can negate skill. Players enjoy using their skills to beat challenges, but if strategies are blown apart by the roll of the dice then their efforts may feel futile. Take Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time for example. You and your teammates can strategise, but Professor Evil’s actions are entirely based on the outcome of three dice. Your best laid plans can be squashed in an instant, making it a very difficult game. Some may enjoy playing the odds and fighting the randomness, but many will lose interest.

An extra benefit of Chance is that it introduces another C; Change. The randomness of dice rolls, card draws, and how people play the game is what creates replayability. If a game has zero chance then one play through will be the same as the next, just look at escape room “games”.

The honorary C

I was a little … conflicted about this one 🙂 Most games will have an aspect of conflict built in to them. Whether this is conflict between players, as in Tatsu, or between players and the game, as in Castle Panic. Conflict is often how players grow, increase their abilities and achieve their objectives.

Not all games have to include conflict. For example it’s possible to play through Dominion without playing the cards that impact your opponent. There are other games, such as Lanterns and Photosynthesis, where the conflict is so subdued that you almost forget that you aren’t all on the same side.

So that’s the 3 (and a bit) Cs. Next time you’re designing a game, or next time you’re playing a game, keep these in mind. You’ll be surprised how often they come up. The right combination can be a great game, but leave any of them lacking and you’ll notice.

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Game design showcase: Character and player card designs

As someone that sometimes gets distracted from playing games by trying to organise cards and components, I appreciate a well designed player board. Give me cool storage solutions, organisation tips, and a clear reference guide and I’ll be your friend for life.

We’ve been designing a few games recently and have needed to spend time producing easy to use player boards and references. Here are just a few of our notes on some of the better examples out there. We hope that if you’re designing anything then these notes can help you come up with something cool and super usable.

What makes a good player board?

Feel free to skip this part if you’d rather just get to talking about games 🙂

There are some boxes that need to be ticked to be on the list of great player boards. Not all of the examples in this post tick all the boxes, but there are things we loved about each of them.

Keep text to a minimum

Want your game to be more universal? Keep the text on your board to a minimum. If you rely more on icons and common conventions then you can avoid issues with speakers of other languages or players that aren’t as fluent in English.

Keep with the theme

No matter what type of game you have, be it abstract or thematic, make sure your board is in-line with the style of the rest of the game. Keep it consistent and you’ll have a big head start.

Help make things simple

If spending some extra time designing your player board means your players’ lives can be easier, do it. Look at King of Tokyo’s board. Sure, the same could be achieved through health and experience tokens, but their solution is much simpler for younger players to manage.

Clear organisation

Some of my favourite boards either give an indication on how cards should be laid out (Fallout) or outright tell you (Zombicide). For co-op games in particular it can be a big help for everyone to be organising their gear in the same way.

Be sturdy

We all know things get bumped and knocked around the gaming table. If your board is designed to keep things organised, make sure it’s sturdy enough that everything won’t go flying from a little tap.

Pandemic: Contagion

With slots for various attributes and gameplay instructions, the Contagion boards are well designed dashboards to play the game through. The petri dish in the centre holds all of your unused disease cubes, which suits the virus theme really well. The only thing missing is tweezers to move the cubes from your board to the game cards 🙂

Pros:

Fits the virus theme
Keeps all your pieces neat and contained
Easy to use for tracking your levels
The inset cube holes and petri dish makes it difficult to knock pieces off

Cons:

Soooo much text (but the game kind requires it)
The amount of text and the level markers makes the game look more complex

Photosynthesis

If you want an example of how to design a player board with minimal text that is still super easy to understand, look no further than Photosynthesis. The graphics are beautiful (as is the rest of the game), and the guide for players at the bottom of the board is easy to understand and refer back to. You can easily see that it takes 1 point to grow from a seed to a small tree, 2 to go from a small to a medium tree, etc. For a game that comes with a full English and French instructions, having zero text on the board is perfect.

Pros:

Gorgeous
Easy to understand once playing
Contains everything from reference guides to point tracking and a marketplace

Cons:

The board bends a little over time
Looks rather complicated at first

Zombicide

Zombicide’s player boards are a bit of a mixed bag. The skull tracker used to track experience is a nice touch, though a little too easy to forget to update every time you make a kill. There is a place for everything, which I appreciate as I try to keep my inventory tidy, however most of the components sit loosely on top of the board. More than once I have accidentally nudged this board and found myself struggling to remember where everything was.

Pros:

Includes everything a player needs
Experience tracker is easy to use

Cons:

Gets messy once your inventory fills up
Easy to knock and have to reassemble

Fallout

The Fallout player board is the epitome of “a place for everything and everything in its place”. The has built in spots for the perk tracking and effects that made the video game so fun, and the method for tracking health and radiation is great. The health is red, radiation green. If the two ever meet the player dies and respawns, meaning they lose their gear and go back to the start.

The only downside of this board is that it is essentially a punchboard, and inserting and removing the green and red pegs so often eventually starts to wear the board.

Pros:

Minimal text
Themed perfectly
Very functional

Cons:

Potential for wear and tear

King of Tokyo

I’ve included the King of Tokyo boards for one main reason, the dials used for tracking health and victory points are so dang cool! Whereas other games would introduce extra tokens and pieces to track such things (which often gets messy) here we have those metrics designed straight into the board. They are also built in seamlessly enough that they take up minimal space on the board, leaving plenty of space for the great artwork.

Pros:

Unique design
Plenty of space for graphics

Cons:

Dials sometime slip if not careful
Could benefit from a short player reference (there’s defo room)

Fog of Love

Fog of Love is a bit more unique. Being a two player game, a lot of the players’ components are actually integrated into the board. This makes each side of the board almost like opposing dashboards. This does make it a bit easier in that you have a clearly labelled space for all of these cards.

Pros:

Integrated into the board
Little fear of being knocked
Clearly laid out and labelled

Cons:

Not everything fits on the board (XP and traits are stored off-board)

If there are any other cool player boards that you’ve found in your travels let us know, we’d love to see other cool ones.

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Board game giant Asmodee may be on the market

Potentially big news for the board game industry today. Asmodee, the industry kingpin behind some of the world’s biggest games, is investigating a sale to an (as yet) unknown buyer. The company is currently owned by a private equity firm and is valued at 1.5 billion euro (roughly 2.37 billion in Australian dollaridoos).

In recent years Asmodee has almost become the Disney of board game companies. They have gained a reputation for buying up smaller publishers, merging with competitors, and growing their games library by leaps and strides. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, you won’t be unfamiliar with the games. Through it’s mergers and acquisitions Asmodee now own the rights to blockbusters like Pandemic, Dead of Winter, Ticket to Ride and Arkham Horror. They also own other board game entities like Fantasy Flight Games, Days of Wonder, Z-Man Games and Plaid Hat Games.

There’s no word yet on who the unknown potential buyer is, though some hobbyists have already started wondering if it might be Hasbro, the other tabletop superpower. The news has some concerned, as the firm that currently owns the company has always stayed out of the creative process and let Asmodee be Asmodee. New owners might not be so hands-off, especially if they are a company like Hasbro or Disney. With Asmodee being the powerhouse that it is, it is exciting that the world seems to be taking note of the massive potential for the tabletop games market. We can only hope that with the increased commercial interest in the tabletop world we don’t see the trend of games being watered down for more mass market appeal like has happened in other industries (hi Disney!).

For reference, here are just a few more games that Asmodee has under it’s belt…

  • 7 Wonders
  • Dead of Winter
  • Arkham Horror
  • Catan
  • Unlock! Escape Adventures
  • TIME Stories
  • Alhambra
  • Black Fleet
  • Braintopia/Cortex
  • Captain Sonar
  • Concept
  • Cyclades
  • Dice Forge
  • Dixit
  • Fallout: The Board Game
  • Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy
  • Spot It!
  • Splendor
  • Ticket to Ride
  • X-Wing
  • Watson & Holmes
  • When I Dream
  • Colt Express
  • Mysterium
  • Elysium
  • Kingdom Builder
  • Mafia
  • Takenoko
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International Womens Day 2018: Women in the games industry

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Being a board game store, we’re doing the obvious thing. Board games often seem like a male dominated area (both for designers and players), so we’re highlighting some of the great women behind the games we know and love. Let’s start with possibly the most well known game in the world.

Elizabeth Magie and Monopoly

Elizabeth Magie Phillips, in a circa 1937 portrait. (The Strong in Rochester New York)

Although it took years for her original design to be credited, Elizabeth Magie is now known as the original creator of Monopoly. Her game, The Landlord’s Game, was invented in 1903, decades before Parker Brothers released Monopoly.

Magie created The Landlord’s Game in protest of monopolist tycoons of the time. She created two sets of rules: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents. This was intended to demonstrate that the first set of rules was morally superior, although it was the latter that proved more popular. The monopolist version of the game caught on, and a man named Charles Darrow claimed a version of it as his own and sold it to Parker Brothers in the 1930s. Darrow made millions and struck a profitable royalty agreement, while Magie’s income for her creation was reported to be a mere $500.

Kristin Looney

 

One half of the husband and wife team behind Looney Labs (creators of games like Fluxx, Loonacy, Aquarius and Pyramid Arcade). Prior to starting Looney Labs, Kristin spent 13 years working in the aerospace industry, first as an Electronics Engineer at NASA, then later as the Manager of the IT department for a start-up company called TSI-TelSys.

The company was founded in 1996 when Kristin & Andrew Looney gave up successful careers as aerospace engineers to pursue their hobby business full time. While Andrew is credited as the creator of Fluxx, Kristin is described as the driving force behind the company.

Susan McKinley Ross

Susan McKinley Ross is a game and toy designer. Among others games, she is probably best known for designing the award-winning popular game Qwirkle.

“I hardly play abstracts … but my brain thinks in abstracts, and my brain thinks in color … when game ideas come to me they almost always come abstract.”

Leslie Scott

Leslie Scott invented Jenga, based on a game that her family played while living in Africa. The family’s original Jenga set was made from wood bought from a local lumber yard. Jenga was officially launched at the London Toy Fair 1983

The word jenga comes from the Swahili word kujenga, which means “to build”.

The Cards Against Humanity “Girl Gang”

The creative team behind smash hit Cards Against Humanity is very female dominated. Creative Director Amy Schwartz says that the teamwork that permeates the company is the direct outcome of so many women working together.

“The CAH Girl Gang are responsible for the bulk of shenanigans customers encounter, from witty customer service emails to organizing every aspect of our convention presence. We have matching knives and work incredibly well together. I barely believe I get to work alongside such smart people who are such experts at what they do. Their expertise and support makes my job a dream.”

There are obviously many more women working behind the scenes of the board game industry. Check out the lists on Board Game Geek if you want to see some more. If you’d like to find out any more about International Women’s Day check out the official site.

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Check ’em out! Our top games of 2017

To help wrap up 2017 (and bring in 2018 right) we took a moment to look back at our favourite games that came out last year. This is our greatest hits list for 2017, if you missed any of them then it might be time to catch up 🙂

Disclaimer: We may have made up some categories just so we could include our favourite games on the list 😛

If there are any games you think we’ve missed let us know in the comments!

 

Hotshots

Best co-op game

Hotshots is a cooperative firefighting game with elements of Pandemic mixed with … Yahtzee. Yeah, we said it. Yahtzee. But it’s still really fun 🙂 Work together with up to four players to save the forest from the blaze. Make sure you communicate, work together and don’t push your luck, or you could make things much worse. Full disclosure: My inattention during reading the rules before our first game led to the great forest fire of September 2017.

Rhino Hero: Super Battle

Best kids game

Now we’ve included Super Battle as a kids game, but with the knowledge that we’ve played it more with 25 – 30 year olds than anyone else. Rhino Hero was a great game to begin with, but bringing in more players, more heroes, and more complex structures and balancing has really bumped it up a notch. Great for kids to work on their coordination and motor skills, and great for adults to just have a damn fun game to play.

 

Debatable

Best language game

Debatable is one of our favourite games to come out of Kickstarter in 2017. In the spirit of Superfight, Debatable pits you against your friends in arguments on a range of silly (and sometimes serious) topics. You get assigned a topic, and a position (Yea or Nay) and have to argue your point until the vote. The difference with Debatable is that in addition to a position you also get assigned a quirk or eccentricity, such as not understanding the question, talking extremely fast or quoting Hitler. If you don’t fulfill your strategy goal then you’re disqualified, which adds an extra level of difficulty to each round. Great as a party game with people that can think on their feet.

Photosynthesis

Best nature game

Photosynthesis is a really unique game. In Photosynthesis you compete against other players by taking trees through their complete life-cycle (from seed to fully grown and ultimately death). Each round you gain action points based on how many of your trees are in direct sunlight (based on a sun mechanic that rotates around the board). The ultimate goal is to plant your seedlings in the richest soil, because the richer the soil when your tree fulfills its lifespan the more points you get. Throughout the game you are building up a forest with the beautiful tree tokens, making this the best nature game, and also one of the best looking games of 2017.

Codenames Disney

Best shameless cash in

While Codenames Disney is nearly exactly the same as the other games in the Codenames series, it is definitely fun playing with Disney content. Generally it doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen the movie featured on the card, because there are still other things in each one you can base clues off of. This is a great thinking game for kids, and the Disney content doesn’t preclude adults from getting in on the fun too. As usual, you can always mix the Disney (and Marvel) cards in with the other versions when playing.

As far as licensed versions of games goes, this one is pretty good 🙂

Bears vs Babies

Best party game

Bears vs Babies is the latest game from Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal comics and the Exploding Kittens game. Bears vs Babies may look a little complicated at first, but once you get into it (and with the help of the instructional video and tutorial rounds) it is a fairly simple game to get your head around. While the goal is to build your monster army to take down the evil babies, most times we’ve played everyone has been way more invested in creating the weirdest and most eccentric monsters then in the actual battling.

Kaiju Crush

Best monster smashing a city game

Kaiju Crush is a fun game that pits you and up to three other people against each other as you battle over control of a city. Sharing themes with King of Tokyo, Kaiju Crush is another game that might look a bit complex at first (the set up takes a while) but is really easy to play once you get the hang of it. There’s definitely enough in there to make for a fun light-strategy game. Not content with just destroying the city, one of the best parts of the game is battling other monsters by essentially playing advanced rock – paper – scissors 🙂

And finally…

Magic Maze

Best All Round Game of 2017

What can one say about Magic Maze, other than “sweet baby pumpkins this game is awesome!”

The premise is simple enough. 4 typical fantasy characters (an elf, a dwarf, a warrior and a mage) lose their weapons and all their treasure. What are they to do? They can’t get more treasure without weapons, and they can’t buy weapons without treasure. So they come to the logical conclusion of shoplifting new weapons from the Magic Maze Shopping Mall. Through the game, you need to get the four tokens to their respective weapons, at which point the alarm goes off and they need to hightail it out there.

The twist? Every player controls all four tokens. Each player gets a card that gives tells them what abilities they have. They might be able to move the tokens in a certain direction, open up new areas on the map, use escalators, or use portals to teleport the tokens around. The issue is that no one player with have all of the abilities, teamwork between players is a must, as even just walking from one tile to another might need two or more players.

The bigger twist? The game must be played in almost complete silence. No telling Benji that you’re waiting for him to move the dwarf up the escalator. Aside from an initial strategy phase and a brief moment when getting to certain parts of the map, there is to be no verbal of non-verbal communication allowed, save the use of a single red token that essentially tells a player “I’m waiting for you to do something but I can’t tell you what”.

Another cool tidbit: While it doesn’t affect the gameplay at all, my favourite part of the game is the accessibility focus. To help players with colour blindness, the designers made sure that every time the tokens colours are used, the corresponding icons are used as well. Tokens even come with little stickers so you can clearly mark that the yellow token is looking for the sword. That’s a really nice touch.

This is a great game to play if you and your friends like being challenged. There’s definitely a different skill set required to get through the nearly 20 scenarios the game comes with. You will need to learn to plan, communicate, and execute as efficiently as you can. Each new scenario also adds new rules, making each scenario slightly more difficult than the last. Because of the unique gameplay, Magic Maze can also be played individually, or with up to 8 people.

What do you think?

Is there anything you think we’ve missed? Any games we’ve listed that you’ve been hanging out to try? Let us know in the comments. We want to know what you favourite games of 2017 were!

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Name a bitch badder than Taylor Swift

Something brilliant happened this month. A Taylor Swift fan tweeted a screenshot from the singer’s “Look What You Made Me Do” video, along with the caption “Name a bitch badder than Taylor Swift”. What happened next was amazing.

Initially the responses included innocuous  jokes like “the cleaning lady from Family Guy”, but then things took a turn for the better. People in the Twitterverse started listing all of the women throughout history whom they considered to be “badder” than Taylor Swift, and they include war heroes, scientists, activists and more.

Not to speak ill of Taylor Swift, but these are the women that changed (and in some cases helped save) the world.

And a healthy amount of users listing their own mothers and grandmothers…

Every now and then Twitter does something right. If you want to see more responses, check out the hashtag #badderthantaylor.

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Join us for Adelaide Fringe game nights!

Have you heard? We’re running game nights every weekend of the Adelaide Fringe!

More than just our usual game nights, we want everyone to get into the spirit. Dressing the part is highly recommended. We’re expecting zombie hunters for Zombicide night, capes and tights for Superhero night, and we’re excited to see what you’ll come up with for Organ Donation night!

There is a $5 ticket price for our Fringe game nights, just to cover the cost of running an Adelaide Fringe event. Make sure to check the schedule and book your spot through the Fringe website.

$5 entry, 2-3 hour duration, every Friday & Saturday throughout Fringe

Many of the games we’ll be playing will be for grownups, so make sure to check the schedule before booking your ticket. Any children must be accompanied by responsible adult.

Games night schedule

We will be playing different games each weekend, so make sure to book the night that sparks your interest.

Zombie Game Night (Zombicide)
February 17th

Superhero Games Night (Rhino Hero, Superfight, Marvel Codenames, Rhino Hero: Super Battle)
February 23rd and 24th

Organ Donors Games Night (Anatomy Park, Operation, Organ Attack)
March 2nd and 3rd

Deception Games Night (Secret Hitler, Spyfall, Coup Rebellion)
March 9th and 10th

Escape Games Night (Escape Room: The Game, Unlock Escape Adventures)
March 16th and 17th