The Wish Wall: Star Trek: Frontiers

“They’re still using money. We need to get some.”

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

WizKids’ new tabletop game, Star Trek: Frontiers, hit game shops today with a stiff price that a Ferengi would appreciate:  $79.99 USD.  I would love to have Star Trek: Frontiers, and my daughter already called dibs on it, but even the online prices might give me pause in this case, so for right now it’s going to The Wish Wall.  Not that there isn’t a lot of eye candy on the table for this one:


Star Trek: Frontiers is described as being…

…designed for 1 to 4 players with multiple competitive, cooperative and solo scenarios.

Work together to defeat hostile ships or compete to explore and uncover hidden mysteries. Players will need to overcome obstacles to expand their knowledge and use their leadership as they adventure in order to be victorious in their exploration!

Star Trek: Frontiers Game

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Asmodee Announces StoryLine: Scary Tales

Earlier today, the game publisher Asmodee announced a new addition to its series of StoryLine games,  StoryLine: Scary Tales.

Now you can bring your own tales of terror to life with StoryLine: Scary Tales, the newest addition to the StoryLine series. In StoryLine: Scary Tales, three to eight storytellers collaborate to craft a hair-raising story, each taking turns at the role of narrator, contributing characters, places, and events to add spooky twists and turns to the frightfully fun tale. Like StoryLine: Fairy Tales, Scary Tales is easy to learn, and the perfect game for players of all ages. The whole family will enjoy spinning a chilling yarn together in this card-based game.  (Source:


Overall, it sounds just like a game of StoryLine, except for the new theme behind the illustrations and the collaborative story.  Each game comes with 30 narrator cards, 100 story cards, and 21 tokens.

Pre-orders haven’t opened on Storyline: Scary Tales, but Asmodee has this advance solicitation page which lists the price at 19.99 USD.

StoryLine: Fairy Tales Card Game

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Tails of Equestria MLP RPG & Goblins Expansion for Labyrinth Announced by River Horse

River Horse’s upcoming release of the Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Board Game is apparently already generating so much buzz and so many presales that the game publisher is already preparing their first expansion, Goblins, which they announced today in their e-mail newsletter and on their website blog:


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Additionally, River Horse has officially announced the upcoming release of a new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic based RPG, called Tails of Equestria.  The game has had its own Facebook page for some time, though, so those in the know have been waiting for this news to drop.

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The Tails of Equestria MLP RPG will arrive Winter 2016.  Game designer Alessio Cavatore, known for his long association with Games Workshop and tabletop games like Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and Lord of the Rings,  had this to say about creating Tails of Equestria:

I wanted to write this game because I both love My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, after watching every single episode of the TV show (repeatedly!) with my seven-year old daughter. As a professional geek, I also love role-playing games and the fantasy elements that permeate Equestria and its denizens convinced me that the two together would make a great game.

Cross posted on

Catan Blues: Three Dimensions of Tabletop Gaming

On our most recent viewing of Star Trek: The Original Series, my daughter, as interested in tabletop gaming as I am, was quick to point out all the three-dimensional chess sets on the Enterprise.  I have at times wondered if Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan producer Harve Bennett, in his three month screening of ST:TOS episodes, not only arrived at the episode “Space Seed” for his movie’s foundation, but also was inspired by Starfleet’s three dimension chess sets, as the moment of apotheosis in ST II: TWOK is when Kirk and Spock realize that Khan is a two-dimensional thinker and basically board gaming in space.

Since this movie came out in 1982, there has been such a paradigm shift in tabletop games that a similar change in consciousness could be imagined by more advanced tabletop gamers looking from above at Kirk and Spock’s simplistic three dimensional strategy.  In plain English, the tabletop games that people are playing and talking about today seem bigger than the games that were played before.

Settlers of Catan is probably the best example of what I see as three different ways to measure the size of games: Span, which is the duration or time-lapse of a game; Scale, which is the space that the game occupies in the material universe; and, Scope, which is the epistemological substance of a game, the space that it occupies in our minds.

Scope will obviously be the hardest to quantify, and sometimes Short and Little games can be Big in scope, e.g. chess obsesses its players to the point that an immense strategic literature exists. Usually the best sense of an overdeveloped Scope in a game is the production of literature associated with the game. There’s lots of volumes about chess, Bridge, and Dungeons and Dragons, but not so many books on Candy Land.

Until I develop subtler scales to measure these terms, I offer three simplified dichotomies, with Span being measured as Long or Short, Scale being measured as Large or Little; and Scope being measured from Big to Small.

While games are not necessarily better for having these attributes (the classic game of the ages, chess, is both short and small), Catan benefits from having them, and while a common complaint is that Catan games can be too long, many players enjoy games in which the other attributes of size are even more magnified.

And, in truth, most of the games that humans play tend to be hypertrophic in one of these scales, with Monopoly being Long in Span, classic wargaming from Kriegsspiel on being Large in Scale, and Dungeons and Dragons being Big in Scope. While modern tabletop gaming may be providing a more hospitable environment for quick games small in all three of these game measurements, one working theory of mine is that games that we bring along with us throughout history are typically sizable enough in one of these scales not to be overlooked.

What makes Catan a great example of all three qualities is that Catan is so overdeveloped in these terms as to be a caricature of them, especially in terms of measuring game time, as the source of most complaints about the game is that it at times occupies an extensive duration in time. However, Catan is not only Long, but also Large, as it takes up an extensive amount of the participating gamers’ visual fields, as well as the tabletop, and Big, as it continues to generate a respectable online literature due to the way that its strategies preoccupy gamers. In fact, one thing that looking at Catan makes me think is that one thing to consider going forward is the way that one measurement can feed into the others, especially the way that preoccupation with the Scope of a game, whether trading or other strategies, can influence the Span of a game.

Catan 5th Edition

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan [Director’s Cut] [Blu-ray]

Up To 70% Off Small World 2, Splendor, Ticket to Ride, and Ticket to Ride Pocket iOS and Android

Days of Wonder has dropped the prices of board game apps by up to 70% off on the Google Play for Android and iOS App Stores, including Small World 2, Splendor, Ticket to Ride, and Ticket to Ride Pocket Edition.

These are all excellent board game apps for you to divert or entertain yourself.  Splendor particularly is my personal favorite, not only among all board game apps, but among all game apps.

That said, Small World 2 and Ticket to Ride are excellent for having great options for online play, and local Bluetooth capability as well.  If you and your significant other have separate Apple accounts, all you have to do is link them in your settings so that they can download it from your purchased apps, and with one purchase both of you can play each other online.  If you have the same Apple account, you can still play each other locally via Bluetooth.

If you’re on Android, follow this link to Google Play.  Here’s the links to the iPhone and iPad App Store:

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Download Small World 2 on the iOS App Store

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Download Ticket to Ride on the iOS App Store

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Download Ticket to Ride Pocket Edition on the iOS App Store

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Download Splendor on the iOS App Store


Giant Connect 4 at Project Pop-Up: Play

Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh is hosting Project Pop-Up, a grant giving program that created some interesting permanent fixtures like Amazing Books and Records, and also has lent itself to making some temporary exhibits such as Project Pop-Up: Play.

We discovered the giant Connect 4, Jenga, and checker boards at Project Pop-Up: Play in our trip downtown yesterday.  This is my son’s first time playing Connect 4, so any tabletop version is going to be a bit of a let down.


Market Square is a good place for Project Pop-Up: Play, as on a good weather day like yesterday there are a number of chess enthusiasts playing on the metal bistro tables there.

I didn’t snap any pictures of chess players in their natural habitat, but here is a wild Jenga.


No, there was no giant Catan board, probably because making Catan into a life-sized competition might start a life-sized squabble.  But if you have suggestions for the group behind this pop-up, there’s an e-mail in the embedded hyperlink above that you can use to get on their newsletter and contact them with your ideas for future play.

Monopoly to Tread the Boards of Broadway

tread (or walk) the boards
informal Appear on stage as an actor:
‘the 1,500-seat theatre where generations of actors trod the boards’


Assume the existence of an iconic-to-the-point-of-being-monolithic board game that has been around for over a century. While this game is dead to tabletop gamers due to its reputation for being tired and monotonous, it lives on due to the undeniable clout provided, for better or worse, by its instantaneous name recognition. Hence this dead game has had a long afterlife due to being disentombed periodically from dusty closets and shelves and played by bored casual gamers. If you’re a publisher of this game, always one of the lowest ranked games on, how do you make it hip, new, and popular so that it isn’t just owned, but played? You can’t really change the rules at this point, as they have ossified over the century to be as unyielding as chess, checkers, or go. You could try to change the rules, but everyone would laugh at the result and go on torturing themselves in the official and canonical way.

If you’re Hasbro, and the game in question is Monopoly, there’s only one point of attack: the theme. And just how do you press Rich Uncle Pennybags‘ tuxedo so that it looks fresh and new after all this time? The theme of economic domination made sense in the early 20th century, a time when there was vast social inequity, economic depression caused by stock manipulation, and other forms of decadently refined money madness that rippled out in waves of poverty and want; a time when the drawn-out grind of Monopoly made intuitive sense to players that didn’t have the strength of soul to question whether they deserved to suffer this game.

Hasbro decided that, as making Monopoly relevant to millennials is a lost cause, they would make it hip, and they have teamed with The Araca Group to bring Monopoly to Broadway as a musical. In Playbill’s report of this partnership a few days ago, the initial premise for the show is that it will be “an immersive-style show, meaning that members of the audience take part in the action.”

Yes, for some reason, in a huge collection of intellectual property that includes GI Joe, My Little Pony, and Transformers, Hasbro has decided to bank on Monopoly as its winning horse in live theater. My first thought is that Mr. Potato Head may have been a more viable property for theatrical development. Simon Waters of Hasbro is more confident, being quoted as saying “…Hasbro is dedicated to delivering new and exciting ways for consumers to interact with all of our brands, and this stage adaptation will do just that….We are excited to work with The Araca Group to bring Monopoly to life on Broadway and across the country.”

The Araca Group is known for its winning productions and co-productions, including Wicked; Boeing, Boeing; A Raising in the Sun; A View from the Bridge; Urinetown; Disgraced; Skylight; and, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. With all these under their belt, they’re now going for the money, and recently launched Araca Media & Entertainment to adapt franchised entertainment into live theater. With this new initiative needing projects to justify its existence, it is very likely Monopoly the Musical will become a reality. While Araca CEO Matthew Rego says this opportunity is “almost too good to be true,” it seems that more realistic speculation would wonder whether Monopoly on Broadway will have as short a run as the 1990 Monopoly TV series (12 episodes), or will it stretch as long as Monopoly Millionaires’ Club (20 episodes)?

What board games would you like to see adapted into live theater, or what board games do you think would work as the theme for live theater?  Will we ever see a Catan musical in which The Robber keeps coming back to plague the other characters, like Javert in Les Mis?

Cross-posted on NerdSpan.