Tag Archives: awards

News & Stuff – 9th July 2010

What’s better than sitting outside in your local beer garden? This week’s Little Metal Dog News, of course!

It’s actually a bit of a slow news week, but what’s out there’s pretty interesting. First up – brought to my attention by LMD listener Roger Faires – is a top idea from TerrorBull Games to finance their next release as well as put a bit of money in the pocket of Amnesty International. The makers of the infamous War On Terror (as seen on everyone’s favourite geek extravaganza The IT Crowd!) are offering up the chance for members of the playing public to appear in the next edition of the game. The six different note denominations will each have a different picture chosen by the winners of a selection of eBay auctions that are currently running (and here’s a link to one of them!). They end next Friday (July 16th) at noon GMT – winners of the auctions will get their own collectors edition of the game as well as the fame and glory of being on the bank notes. It’s a great concept and I hope that TerrorBull raise a bundle for Amnesty – it’s an incredily worthwhile charity! I’ll get in touch with the guys at the company after the auctions are complete to see if we can show off who the winners are – so for now, go and bid! Bid now!

Next up, Summoner Wars. One of the most entertaining games I’ve played recently, Colby Dauch (who appeared on the show a while back) has released an onslaught of news from Plaid Hat Games regarding some new expansions. I recently got my hands on both the Vanguards and Fallen Kingdom decks and they’re both excellent additions to an already great game. The forthcoming premium board is also pretty much ready to roll and should be in the hands of those who pre-ordered by September at the very latest. While Summoner Wars is perfectly good with the included board, a heavy duty hard board will certainly be another welcome addition. For more regular updates from Colby, he’s updating the BGG page with alarming regularity.

It seems that a week can’t pass without mention of some awards, and this time you’re getting a double header. The recent Origins expo in Ohio, USA saw some interesting games get the nod in a range of categories. Check out these for a random bunch:

  • Best Board Game went to Games Workshop’s Space Hulk (seriously? Yes, it’s good and all, but you can’t buy it!)
  • Best Card Game – Poo: The Card Game from Catalyst Games (looks… interesting!)
  • Best Children’s, Party or Family Game – Looney Labs’ Are You the Traitor?  (simple Werewolf / Mafia style goodness) 
  • Best Historical Board Game – Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! from Academy Games (looks to be insanely well respected, but way beyond my brain!)
  • Best Historical Miniature Game Rules – Wings of War: WWII, Deluxe Edition by Nexus (a load of fun, even better with mini planes all over the table)
  • They’re actually a pretty good bunch, but the selection of Space Hulk surprises me greatly. What was basically a limited edition, uber-expensive reprint is worthy enough to be deemed Game of the Year? Interesting. Especially considering the Games Workshop aren’t the most popular company out there…

    Anyway, more awards. This time, the annual ENnies (aka the Gen Con EN World RPG Awards) nominations list are out as of today. While LMD mainly focuses on board and card gaming, I must admit to enjoying a bit of tabletop RPG action and there’s not much better than curling up on the sofa reading through a hefty manual. Looking through the list, there’s a fair few interesting looking games there, but I was particularly pleased to see UK based company Cubicle 7 up for their excellent Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space set – there’s a full review on this very blog too! However, if anything deserves to win, I really really want Lucha Libre Hero to pick up an award – building characters based around Mexican wrestling? Who wouldn’t love that?

    And that’s your lot for now. The next episode of the podcast is currently being edited and tinkered with – there’s an interview with Mathew Anderson from Petroglyph Games (makers of the upcoming Graxia releases as well as the Panzer General series) and a huge – and really entertaining – chat with Antony Brown from Dice Maestro. You’ve got to listen, it’s brilliant. Mental, but brilliant. As well as that, Chris will be returning to help me out with your questions, so drop me a line at littlemetaldog@gmail.com  – cheers as always!



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    News & Stuff – July 2, 2010

    The big news of the week, of course, is the announcement of this year’s Spiel des Jahres winner. The SdJ is one of the biggest prizes in gaming with nominees and winners able to expect a healthy boost in sales worldwide, despite the award only covering games released in Germany in the past 12 months. Former victors include classics such as Ticket to Ride and El GrandeDominion took the title last year. While complaints about the lack of ‘heavy’ games on this year’s shortlist were many – Fresco being the only game that could be considered so – the actual winner that the panel chose was Dixit by Jean-Louis Roubira (and art by Marie Cardouat). The premise of Dixit is that one player acts as a storyteller, choosing one of the cards in their hand and coming up with an esoteric sentence about it – other players then choose one of their own cards that they think would also fit, and the chosen cards are all shuffled together. The other players must then choose which image was selected by the storyteller – if everyone (or no-one) gets it correct, the storyteller gets nothing but the others get points. In the case of there being a split decision, points are awarded to those who were correct and the storyteller, and the role moves on to the next person. 

    A very very pretty game.


    I’ve got a copy on the way, and after a few plays I’ll let you know my thoughts on it. For now though, the forums that are exploding with bile because Dixit won should just chill out. The SdJ panel are notoriously random (Niagara, anyone?). Awards mean nothing if people don’t like the game (or even the concept behind it), and complaining won’t make them change their minds. If Dixit isn’t for you, then so be it – go play something you enjoy instead. There’s plenty of other games out there. Like Agricola

    Agricola has been one of the biggest names in games since it came out in 2007, hovering around the top of their best games list and regularly getting to the tables of gamers around the world. Naturally wanting to continue his success, designer Uwe Rosenberg has been keeping the game alive with extra expansions (like card decks) but now has gone full on with the announcement this week of Agricola: The Goodies. What was originally meant to be a small print-run of 2500 copies in English (with a further 500 in Spanish) sold out within a couple of days of being announced – to stop people from being ripped off, the producers have announced that more will be printed shortly. Most of the stuff that comes in the box is already available in Germany – hence the English / Spanish only printing, but if you’re lucky enough to pick one up, you’ll be getting four new decks (including the X-deck of aliens!), double sided player boards, a bunch of stickers and… you guessed it, a huge pile of wooden animals, vegetables and resource tokens to pimp your copy. 

    There are people who will sell their grandmother for this.


    Agricola: The Goodies is out soon, and will cost $60 / £40 – a lot of money for an expansion, but people will go mad for it. Knowing how popular the unofficial Agricola animeeples and veggieples made by the guys from Board Game Extras are (and how much they cost) it actually works out quite reasonably in comparison! However, think to the future… if this is The Goodies, how long will it be until we see The Baddies..? 

    I don’t think it’s actually possible for me to do a news post without mentioning Fantasy Flight Games somewhere. This week is no exception, as a bit more information about their upcoming re-issue of the classic DungeonQuest was released from FFG Towers. Yes, it’s basically a prettier version of the truly hardcore dungeon crawler that we know and love (even if it destroys us nine times out of ten), but one thing really grabbed my interest. In a fantastic bit of cross promotion, all the heroes that come with the new version of DungeonQuest will also be fully compatible with several other FFG releases; namely Runebound, Descent and Runewars. Sure, it’s pretty much just a way for the company to get people interested in their other releases, but I think it’s a rather interesting idea. Will this see a rise in cross-compatible releases from other companies in future? A Small World map for Ticket To Ride from Days of Wonder, for example? Only time will tell. 

    Yes, I'll invariably end up getting it, even if my last copy was cursed.


    And that’s it for this week. In case you missed it, Episode 5 of the podcast is available through iTunes right now. If that’s not to your liking, you can always grab it directly from the site by right clicking and saving on this link here. Comments and questions to littlemetaldog@gmail.com as always, please! Have a great weekend.


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    News and stuff – 11th June 2010

    While the eyes of the whole world are focusing on football (mine included, I’m writing this just as South Africa have taken the lead against Mexico) the crushing inevitability of The Little Metal Dog News Report arrives to the sound of a stadium full of vuvuzelas!

    Following last weekend’s UK Games Expo, the results of the Expo awards have been released. Voted by show visitors and a panel of selected judges, the gongs this year went to the Ragnar Brothers Workshop Of The World (Best New Board Game), Forbidden Island (Best Family Game), World Cup Card Game 2010 (Best Card Game, but there weren’t many others!) and Mijnlieff (Best Abstract). There’s been plenty of talk about the first two, not least on Little Metal Dog, and of course if you’d like to read more about the Expo, you can check out my thoughts right here. As the dust has now settled, there’s been a bit of discussion on how the show can be improved – people who pre-ordered tickets seemed to be a little annoyed that those paying cash on the day got in quicker, for example, but it looks like the organisers are taking things on board and will be continuing to do so when organising the 2011 event.

    Days of Wonder are a company who have really embraced their online presence, making great versions of their board games for online play through their website. It’s obvious that their customers enjoy them as nearly 20 million games have been clocked up on their servers since the launch a few years back. To celebrate reaching this momentous figure, DoW have announced a competition of sorts: the players of the 20,000,000th game – no matter what it may be – will recieve some rather nice prizes:  the winner of the game will be sent a brand new 16GB iPad, pre-loaded with one of their more recent releases, Small World. The other players won’t be left out though, as they’ll all get an 8GB iPod Touch to help them deal with the ignominy of defeat. Not a bad little deal at all, so what have you got to lose?

    Finally, a few mentions of interesting upcoming releases. Bruno Faidutti (who you’ll be able to listen to on the next episode of The Little Metal Dog Show) and Gwenaël Bouquin are putting out Smiley Face through Fantasy Flight Games later in the year. Another quick card game, players need to match up cards while causing mischief to others. There’s also an element of betting in there, as you can pull out of rounds while nominating someone you think will win – this will give you points as well as them. Bruno has also been talking about the upcoming Mr. Jack Pocket, due to be released in the summer. A portable revision of the excellent Mr Jack, one player must be cunning enough to escape the detective skills of the other – it’ll be interesting to see how it translates into a card game format. Last of all, Founding Fathers – the new game from the team behind 1960: The Making Of A President – sees the light of day in a few short weeks. Knowing how well respected games are, this is getting me excited – if only because I’m a new convert to studying American history. It’ll be nice to see how much of a change I can make!

    And that’s it. As I said on Twitter, the latest episode of the show should be available on Monday – there’ll be interviews with legendary designer Bruno Faidutti as well as the Marketing Manager of Esdevium Games, Charles Ryan. If you’ve got a question or comment for the show, email littlemetaldog@gmail.com – it’d be splendid to hear from you! Cheers for all your support, and thanks for reading!

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    Cards for sorrow, cards for pain – Dominion review

    For the balance of deep strategy against sheer portability, there’s little better than getting into a trading card game. You may choose to throw your lot in with the daddy of them all – Magic The Gathering, while not the first, is certainly the most popular. A worldwide phenomena, it has been running since 1993; however, even it’s most ardent fans will admit that it has issues. Perhaps you could choose something newer – I personally favour the World of Warcraft TCG, a tight game that draws inspiration from the MMORPG of the same name. Recently relaunched after shenanigans at original developers Upper Deck, it has now been taken (unofficially) in-house to Cryptozoic, a part of the Blizzard empire. Whatever you choose, though, you’re going to have one problem – updates.

    Card sets for all notable TCGs appear with regular abandon, usually on a three- to six-month rotation. Certain older cards are phased out, replaced by newer versions or even scrapped entirely from tournament play. What could well be an all powerful deck that has taken you ages to build (and cost you a small fortune in trying to accumulate rarer cards) can be worth little more than the paper it’s printed on by the time a few updates have rolled around. The only solution is to spend more, update your deck and wait until the next set comes out, where the whole process happens again. Alternatively, you could invest in a dead TCG like the brilliant but expensive Netrunner, but finding decent opponents may prove difficult. For sheer numbers, you need to be playing something current, and you need a good deck or you will be destroyed.

    But what about those of us who can’t afford a whole stack of glimmering rares? Where can we go for our regular card-gaming fix? Well, a few companies have realised the value of a decent card game, releasing new offerings that are entirely self-contained (or supposed to be, anyway). Some games have come out that require you to buy multiple copies in order to build decks you may want, thus defeating the purpose of getting it in the first place. If you’re looking for recommendations for a game that you only need to buy once, there is one word that you will hear again and again: Dominion.

    Now, I can already hear the moaners. “Dominion has expansions,” they cry. ” There’s Intrigue and Seaside and Alchemy and promo sets and there’s that new Prosperity one coming out before the end of the year!” – and this is true. But you don’t need them. For the outlay of the original set, you’ve got a game that will serve you well for ages – no need to get the other boxes at all. You can, of course, choose to splurge on the extra versions, but there is absolutely no need whatsoever. Everything you require is in the box. Everything and more besides.

    What you get are cards… lots of them. There are several different types. Treasure is split into Copper, Silver and Gold – you’ll need these to purchase others cards, or indeed more treasure. Twenty-five sets of Kingdom cards are included, of which ten are used in each game – already, you’ll see that there is a huge amount of variety in Dominion. In fact, there are thousands of possible combinations of Kingdom cards – more than enough to last a lifetime, in fact (see now why you don’t need the expansions?). These allow you to take actions, all of which are detailed on the cards, perhaps allowing you to buy extra things, grant you bonus money or even attack an opponent. Finally, you have the different Victory and Curse cards – these are the important ones, because they’re worth various amounts of Victory Points (or can deplete your score) at the end of the game. Quite simply, whoever has the most points at the end is declared the winner.

    Every player starts with 10 cards – 7 copper which you use to buy things and 3 Estates, worth one point each. Shuffle your deck, draw five cards and away you go. Turn order is easy to remember: just follow the ABCD rule. A stands for Action – play one action card, do what it says, and keep going until you can do no more. B is Buy, where you use money to buy whatever you please from the available piles of cards. C means Clean Up, where every single card you have touched in your turn is placed face up on your discard pile. Finally, D is for Draw, where you take 5 new cards. If there aren’t enough in your stack, shuffle your discards and start a new draw pile. Basically, that’s it – build up your money by using actions, buying new things, upgrading treasure and Victory points cards. The game ends when either three supply piles (any of them, not just Kingdom cards) are exhausted, or all the Province cards (the ones worth six points) have been bought. As soon as that happens, the game is over and players tally up all their Victory points to discover who is on top.

    Reading that back, Dominion sounds dull as ditchwater. Thankfully, when you’ve got the cards in your hand the game is way more compelling. There’s little downtime, and any spare moments are spent working out how on earth you can build up your own deck while scuppering your opponents’ progress. While it isn’t exactly the same as a regular TCG, it shares so many different traits with the genre it would be churlish not to include it with the likes of Magic – it just handles it in a slightly different way and actually makes deck building an aspect of the game. The selection of Kingdom cards at the start of the game can be selected at random and every different set-up will change the way the game plays. There are plenty of sites out there that suggest combinations, but the best I’ve found is Zack Hiwiller’s fantastic randomizer – set the parameters of the game you want and it’ll choose a set of ten for you.

    Dominion is, undoubtedly, one of my favourite games around at the moment. I have to admit that I was late to the party having only got my copy of the base game a couple of months ago, but man – I have fallen for it fast. The simplicity and purity of the design, the various levels of strategy and approaches you can take  to win, the insane replayability… it all adds up to a brilliant game. If you’ve not played it, I heartily recommend giving it a go – you won’t be disappointed.

    Dominion was designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, is published by Rio Grande Games (among others) and was a worthy winner of the 2009 Spiel des Jahres – along with many other awards worldwide. Between two and four people can play – it works well with however many – and it’s available here in the UK for around £30. Seriously, go play it. It’s aces.


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    News and Stuff – 4th June 2010

    After last week being a pretty slow one in news, this time around there’s loads to talk about – most notably, the biggie when it comes to awards. Yes, it’s that time of year again – the 2010 Spiel des Jahres shortlist has been announced. Five titles are up for the award this year:

    * Dixit – designed by Jean-Louis Roubira, published by Asmodee

    * Indentik (also known as Portrayal) – designed by Amanda Kohout and William Jacobson, also published by Asmodee

    * A la carte – designed by Karl-Heinz Schmiel, published by Heidelberger Spieleverlag

    * Roll Through The Ages: The Bronze Age – designed by Matt Leacock, published by Gryphon Games

    * Fresco – designed by Marcel Süßelbeck, Marco Ruskowski and Wolfgang Panning, published by Queen Games

    What surprised me about this year’s lineup is the simpleness of it all. I’d say only one out of the five is a reasonably hardcore boardgame (Fresco) and even I was able to play that without messing up too badly. Something else to note is the age of some of the nominees – A la carte first came out in 1989! The rule with the SdJ is that it needs to have been released in Germany within the last year, though, so original release dates don’t really matter. All five games have their good and bad sides, but for me… well, I’d like to see the nod go to either Dixit or Roll Through The Ages (and not just because RTTA designer Matt Leacock was on episode three of the show). There was also a special award (“Spiel des Jahres Plus”) for a game they felt deserved a particular mention – World Without End, the follow up to Pillars Of The Earth. The winner of this year’s prize will be officially announced on June 28th, and with luck you’ll be able to hear from them soon after on a forthcoming episode of The Little Metal Dog Show. Also, if you fancy giving Roll Through The Ages a go and have an iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad (you lucky bugger), it’s currently available on the App Store for £2.99 – bargain!

    Staying on the subject of the triumvirate of Apple devices (well, the smaller ones, anyway) – The official adaptation of Carcassonne app was submitted to the powers that be earlier this week and is now available for purchase. Adding to the rapidly increasing selection of board game adaptations (of varying degrees of quality) is certainly a good thing, and from the development team’s Twitter feed it looks like this version will be on the decent side. Very early reviews are also very positive. Online multiplayer with push notification when it’s your turn seems to be the order of the day, as well as games against the AI. An official iPad version is also planned for release later in the year, but this one seems to scale up pretty nicely to the bigger screen. Will it be as good as the Xbox Live version though? We shall see soon enough!

    Finally, this weekend sees the annual UK Games Expo taking place in sunny Birmingham. After starting small a few years ago, it has become the country’s biggest gaming event, covering everything from board and card games to wargaming, minis and even Live Action Role Playing. There are demos of games new and old, plenty of traders, talks, book signings and workshops, so plenty to do! I’ll be there on the Saturday, wandering around looking bemused – report to follow sometime this weekend.

    That’s it for this week, but don’t forget to grab the latest edition of the show – currently on iTunes, it’s got interviews with SdJ nominee Matt Leacock and ace filmmaker Lorien Green. Should you fear Apple’s behemoth, you can grab the show directly from here! Just right click and save. Anything you want to tell me? Then email littlemetaldog@gmail.com or grab me on Twitter – I’m idlemichael. Thanks for reading!

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