The Purple Pawn blog is your home for game news across the board. Purple Pawn covers everything cool, sick, famous, infamous, down and dirty, up and coming, cultural, or just plain weird in the world of people and analog games.
Breaking Games’s catalog is diverse, with abstracts, Euros, and party games. For me, the highlight of the bunch at NY Toy Fair was We’re Doomed ($35, March), a game that combines resource collection with a kind-of social bluffing or auction mechanism. The idea is that the players must work together to build a rocket to escape a doomed planet. They must cooperate and contribute the necessary resources to get a functioning rocket but at the same time, they compete with influence to claim available seats. Also factors in the game are a 15 minute time limit and unique abilities for each player, representing a certain type of government.
Another title, It Dies With Me ($25) has one player writing a personal secret on a slip of rice paper. Then on every turn, each player chooses a number on a die and hides it under a coffin. When all are revealed, the player with the highest unique number gets to move their token one space up the board and the player with the lowest number draws a card. The first to claim four cards or move to the end of the board claims the secret, which they get to read but then have to eat.
Trellis ($25), a more casual game. has players laying hexagonal tiles, and for each pair of matching-colored vines, one of their own flower tokens. The first to put out all of their flowers is the winner.
Hypo Thetically Fun ($20) is mostly a deck of conversation-starter cards in five categories: ponder, silly, story, imagination, and you.
Carl Spies ($15) is a set of cards with pre-set I Spy game conditions.
For the first of its new titles based on the Games Workshop license, The OP (formerly USAopoly) today announced Talisman: Kingdom Hearts Edition. The game, available later this year, has players lead figures for Sora, Kairi, Riku, King Mickey, and Goofy on a quest for “Strength and Magic to seal the Door to Darkness and keep Heartless from consuming the communal worlds.”
The OP promises a game that combines the exploratory spirit of Talisman with lighthearted Disney nostalgia.
Winning Moves’ latest rereleased classic is is the 1990s Hasbro title Pretty Pretty Princess ($17). Spin to move and collect all the matching colored jewelry.
New titles include the mini stacking game Kozo ($20). Each turn, a player places one 3D piece, along with with one small blocking cube. Nothing, though, is allowed over the center square of the board. Points are accumulated over three rounds based on the number of cubes making up each placed piece but forfeited for the round by a player who causes pieces to fall.
Apocalyptic Picnic ($17) is a lighthearted zombie card game, where the goal is to convert all other players’ families to undead. Bite cards do the dirty work. Food cards protect. And there are many others cards to protect family from harm, return them to the living, and other effects.
Stink Bug ($17) is a card game where all the leaf-shaped cards are thrown in one loose draw pile. The idea is to make pairs of matching colors but only one of those loose on the top can be pulled by a player on their turn. Also, sneak-bug cards allow players to steal from each other, butterflies are wild cards, and love bugs make pairs for someone else.
Along with a few Warhammer 40,000 Funko Pops (due April-May), Games Workshop had on display at the company’s Toy Fair booth prototype mock-ups of three more entries in its series of introductory board games. These are expected to hit retail in the 4th quarter.
Combat Arena ($40) is a prequel to Warhammer Quest Blackstone Fortress and is similar in complexity to this past year’s intro game, Space Marine Adventures. This one is a dueling game representing a training scenario for one to four characters (one for each player but a total of five are included). Eventually, rules will be provided for integrating Combat Arena characters in to Blackstone Fortress.
Storm Vault ($45) is a cooperative adventure game in the Age of Sigmar for up to five players. The goal is to find the three keys required to unlock the vault. Every location on the board has a corresponding card, face down along the edge. When a hero stops in a location, the player flips the card, revealing either a key or some other possible benefit. Every turn, the players will also draw chaos cards, spreading foes around the board. Chaos foes are represented by cardboard tokens but for heroes there are Age of Sigmar minis, each with its unique special abilities.
Warhammer Underworlds Dreadfane ($50) is a trimmed down but compatible version of Underworlds. It has predefined objectives and no magic.
Lightsaber Academy, one of Hasbro’s offerings for Star Wars Triple Force Friday in October, allows kids to train as Jedi with their choice of master. A switch hidden in the hilt selects between several iconic characters, such as Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, with matching changes to the toy’s color and audio instructions.
The lightsaber’s audio and motion-sensor technology guides a user through a variety of training exercises and when connected by Bluetooth to a local mobile device can track and display performance. Progress also advances in a head-to-head game available when two lightsabers are connected.
Information, though, is stored in the toy, so that a player’s ranking carries with them when they visit a friend’s house and connect to a different device.
At release, a single lightsaber will retail for $50.
Presented by Hasbro at New York Toy Fair were three Stranger Things games coming to retail at the beginning of May.
Stranger Things Back to the 80s Trivial Pursuit ($20) includes questions about the show and 1980s pop culture. It also features a board that flips to an alternative movement track representing the Upside Down. When a player’s piece lands on a portal, they’re all sent to the Upside Down, where it’s possible to lose a wedge.
A publisher I often recommend for games with young children, HABA’s new offerings this year at New York Toy Fair did not disappoint, and even included one with some interesting strategic choices.
Luxantis ($50, spring) is a labyrinth puzzle with a lighted board, memory element, and tower defense section. Players roll the die and press the matching button to light up spaces on the board. Blue spaces are safe. Red spaces send pieces back to the start. Landing on the right spaces allows players to collect artifact used to defeat monsters as they move up another board attacking the castle.
Snail Sprint ($29, now) is a racing game, where players share the racing snails, scoring points (3 points for first place, 2 points for second place, 1 point for third place) only for the snails shown on their card. Each turn, a player rolls two dice and picks a snail color from one die and destination shape from the other. If a snail lands on top of another snail, the one underneath is trapped. Appropriate for snails climbing trees, though, the path of movement also includes the outer edges of the game box—the box is a tin and the snail pieces have magnets.
Honga ($50, March) is a strategic game of survival. The goal is to collect enough food and water, while keeping the tiger from stealing them. When placing the game’s round cards, players have a choice of orienting the printed hand symbols either toward the resources they need to collect or toward the tiger to keep it at bay.
Cardinal Games (a Spin Master subsidiary) and Looney Labs are partnering in the production of licensed card games. The first two, summer 2019 releases, will be Marvel Fluxx and Jumanji Fluxx. Both companies will produce versions of the games. Cardinal’s will be priced at $15 MSRP for the mass-market outlets. Looney Labs’ will be priced at $20 for hobby and specialty retail, and will come with seven bonus cards.
Mattel has signed a 3 year licensing deal covering the Despicable Me franchise. The company will produce a range of toys and games in time for the theatrical premier of the Minions sequel in 2020.
Far Out Toys has signed on kid-reviewer Ryan ToysReview for two licensed action games Splash Out and Head Splat. Both are due at retail in March.
University Games has acquired a license for games based on the Mog Man series of youth books by Dav Pilkey.
USAopoly has signed an agreement with Games Workshop to produce licensed versions of the latter’s Talisman board game. The agreement grants USAopoly international distribution rights for co-branded games. Two are planned for this year, though the specific properties have not yet been revealed.
Weta Workshop announced plans for a District 9 board game via Kickstarter project launching in late March.
Against that backdrop, Hasbro has reported that 2018 net revenue fell 12% compared to 2017, mostly due to the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy. The retailer was Hasbro’s third largest customer in the United States, second in Europe and Asia. Additional earnings pressure resulted from other retailers moving to leaner inventories and from political-economic events in Europe (particularly the U.K.).
The failure of Toys “R” Us meant not only the loss of a major retail outlet for Hasbro but also competition from a large amount of inventory being liquidated at significant discount. Excluding Toys “R” Us, however, sales at existing U.S. and Canadian retailers were up slightly, “mid-single digits” for the games category.
While Hasbro recorded an overall year-to-year drop in revenue of 9 percent in its franchise brands category and 12 percent in its gaming category, Beyblade, Dungeons & Dragons, Monopoly, and Magic: The Gathering all grew in 2018. Also on the upside among games were Jenga and Don’t Step in It, offset by downturns to Pie Face and Speak Out. When viewed as a broader category (MtG and Monopoly are normally counted in franchise brands), games were only down 4 percent to $1.4 billion compared to 2017.
Again, 2018 was a record year for Dungeons & Dragons. Regarding the future, CEO Brian Goldner said, “Our plans for an expanded universe of gaming behind D&D is taking shape in analog and digital game play.”
Noting that Magic: The Gathering Arena is still in the beta-testing phase, Goldner also revealed that the so-far-PC-only platform saw 350 million games played in the 4th quarter. Viewership on Twitch doubled. And Arena users are averaging 8 hours played per week.