Showing posts with label GAMA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GAMA. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

37th Annual Origins Award Nominees Announced

The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Announces 37th Annual Origins Awards Nominees

COLUMBUS, OH (April 13, 2011) The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design is proud to announce the nominees for the 37th Annual Origins Awards.

The Origins Awards are presented annually by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design to recognize outstanding achievement in design and production of games and game related products.

The nominees were voted on by hobby game retailers at the GAMA Trade Show in March 2011 from a short list in each category determined by a jury of hobby game professionals and knowledgeable enthusiasts. The winner of each category will be determined by the votes of attendees at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus OH, June 22nd-26th. The winners will be announced and the coveted Calliope statues presented at the Origins Awards Ceremony on the evening of Saturday June 25th. Submitted games that were not nominated will be available to play in the Open Gaming Area at the Origins Game Fair.

In the next couple of days, I'll be providing descriptions and reviews of the products that received nominations this year as well as making some comments regarding those who opted not to submit their products for consideration. For example...Black Gate Magazine has published media tie-in stories and regularly publishes reviews. Why didn't they submit for game related publication? Let the retailers decide if you warrant a nomination, but submit for goodness' sake.

This year's nominees are quite strong. For the first time ever, I think that every nominee in the best RPG category deserves to win an award. As I wrote earlier, there will be more praise lavished upon the nominees in the days to come. For now, let's just have a look at that list.


DC Adventures - Green Ronin Publishing
Designer: Steve Kenson

Dragon Age, Set 1 - Green Ronin Publishing
Designer: Chris Pramas

The Dresden Files RPG: Your Story - Evil Hat Productions
Designers: Leonard Balsera, Jim Butcher, Genevieve Cogman, Robert Donoghue, Fred Hicks, Kenneth Hite, Ryan Macklin, Chad Underkoffler, Clark Valentine

Fiasco - Bully Pulpit Games
Designer: Jason Morningstar

Gamma World RPG - Wizards of the Coast
Designers: Rich Baker, Bruce Cordell


A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide (A Song of Ice and Fire RPG) - Green Ronin Publishing
Designers: David Chart, Joshua Frost, Brian Kirby, Jon Leitheusser, Anthony Pryor, Robert J. Schwalb, Owen K.C. Stephens

Our World (The Dresden Files RPG) - Evil Hat Productions
Designers: Leonard Balsera, Jim Butcher, Genevieve Cogman, Robert Donoghue, Fred Hicks, Kenneth Hite, Ryan Macklin, Chad Underkoffler, Clark Valentine

Advanced Player's Guide (Pathfinder RPG) - Paizo Publishing
Designers: Judy Bauer, Jason Bulmahn, Christopher Carey, James Jacobs, Steve Kenson, Hal Maclean, Rob McCreary, Erik Mona, Jason Nelson, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K. Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Owen K.C. Stephens, Lisa Stevens, James L. Sutter, Russ Taylor, Vic Wertz

Sixth World Almanac (Shadowrun RPG)- Catalyst Game Labs
Designers: Jason Hardy, John Heifers, John Dunn

Sunward: The Inner System (Eclipse Phase RPG) - Posthuman Studios
Designers: Rob Boyle, Brian Cross, Adam Jury


Castle Ravenloft - Wizards of the Coast
Designer: Bill Slaviciek, Mike Mearls

Defenders of the Realm - Eagle Games
Designer: Richard Launius

Fresco - Queen Games
Designer: Wolfgang Panning, Marco Ruskowski, Marcel Süßelbeck

Lords of Vegas - Mayfair Games
Designer: James Ernest, Mike Selinker

Nuns on the Run - Mayfair Games
Designer: Fréderic Moyersoen


Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer - Gary Games
Designer: Justin Gary

Back to the Future: The Card Game - Looney Labs, Inc.
Designer: Andrew Looney

Hecho - Glowfly Games
Designers: Brian Knudsen, Brent Knudsen

Hex Hex XL - Smirk & Dagger Games
Designers: Curt Covert, Justin Brunetto

Railways of the World: The Card Game - Eagle Games
Designer: James Eastham, Steve Ellis


Ligretto Dice - Playroom Entertainment
Designers: Inka Brand, Markus Brand

Telestrations - USAopoly, Inc.
Designer: USAopoly

Wits and Wagers Family Edition - North Star Games
Designer: Dominic Crapuchettes

Word on the Street Junior - Out of the Box Publishing
Designer: Jack Degnan

Zombie Dice - Steve Jackson Games
Designer: Steve Jackson


Color Primer: Dragon Red - The Army Painter
Designer: Bo Penstoft, Jonas Faering

Adventurers Tiles - Battle Bunker Games
Designer: Tony Ironmonger, Daniel Hinkle

Battlefield XP Swamp Tufts - The Army Painter
Designer: Bo Penstoft, Jonas Faering

Cthulhu Dice Bag - Steve Jackson Games
Designer: Alex Fernandez

BattleTech Hex Pack: Lakes & Rivers - Catalyst Game Labs
Designer: Randall N. Bills


Adventures in the Lost Lands - Two Hour Wargames
Designer: Ed Teixeira

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3085 - Catalyst Game Labs
Designer: Joel Bancroft-Conners

DC HeroClix Blackest Knight Starter Game - WizKids/NECA
Designers: Eric Engelhard, Jake Theis, Norman Barth, Drew Nolosco

Hordes: Primal MK2 - Privateer Press
Designer: Matt Wilson

MERCS Games Rule - MERCS Miniatures, LLC
Designer: Brian Shotton


Warlords of Europe - GameBuilders
Designers: Ken Griffin, Kyle Battle, Russ Rupe

Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour Poland 1939 - Academy Games
Designer: Uwe Eickect

Catan Histories - Settlers of America: Trails to Rails - Mayfair Games
Designer: Klaus Teuber

Panzer General: Allied Assault - Petroglyph Games, Inc.
Designers: Chuck Kroegel, George Chastain


No Quarter Magazine - Privateer Press
Editors: Matt Wilson, Aeryn Rudel, Privateer Press

Hamlet's Hit Points - Gameplaywright
Author: Robin Laws

Family Games: The 100 Best - Green Ronin Publishing
Editor: James Lowder

Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome - Catalyst Game Labs
Editor: John Helfers

World at War: Revelation - Lock ‘n Load Publishing
Author: Mark H. Walker

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GAMA Announces 2010 Origins Awards Nominees

This week the Game Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) announced their annual list of Origins Award Nominees. The Origins Awards are the most prestigious award in the Adventure Gaming hobby and the winners are determined by the members of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, a committee of GAMA. This year's list contains a wide variety of nominees, covering many genres within the gaming hobby. The nominees themselves are selected by retailers and industry professionals at the Game Trade Show based upon a selection of recommendations from category juries. The juries are made up, as they have been since the early 1980s, of a combination of industry professionals and serious hobby enthusiasts. This ensures that the Origins nominations have input from fans, retailers, and creators which helps give the awards their well deserved prestige.

I will have some more comments regarding this year's nomination process and my disappointment with some of the publishers who failed to submit their products for consideration, but I wanted to take the time today to congratulate this year's nominees and to provide my input regarding the games and books that have been nominated.

Here is the list of nominees for the 36th Annual Origin Awards followed by my own commentary regarding the individual products:

Today, I'll be commenting on the first two award categories and will comment on the remaining categories throughout the week.

We begin with card games.

Card Game

The Isle of Dr. Necreaux – Alderac Entertainment Group

The Isle of Doctor Necreaux is a cooperative card game where the players attempt to rescue some of the worlds top scientists from the nefarious Doctor Necreaux. This game combines several features I find almost irresistible -- Pulp Villains, Gargantuan Reanimated Cyborg Apes (Julius Schwartz would be happy to see this too), and cooperative play. Alderac Entertainment Group has made a real push to move into the non-collectible, non-rpg, hobby game market over the past few years and it is really paying off with games like Necreaux.

Looney Labs Fluxx card game engine is one of the great underlying mechanical systems in modern card gaming. The game starts with only two rules -- draw one card, play one card -- and from there anything can happen as each card play modifies the rules of the game. These modifications can be anything from altering the number of cards drawn to establishing the terms by which a player can win the game. The Fluxx engine is a perfect example of how to utilize exceptions based rules mechanics to create interesting play. The first game in the series Fluxx was an abstract card game, in the sense that it had no theme, but Looney Labs eventually expanded the line with themed versions of the game where the cards featured their own twists on game play. Martian Fluxx is the latest entry in the series and uses the classic 50s style martian invasion as the basis for playing mayhem.

Okay, how had I not heard of this game. A card game described as, "The Game of Monkeys and Poo Flinging" would quickly be added to my gaming shelf. This is especially true when the publisher responsible for the game is a company I trust for good game design and high quality components. It is also a company I hope will survive the year. Catalyst recently discovered, "that business funds had been co-mingled with the personal funds of one of the owners. We believe the missing funds were the result of bad habits that began alongside the creation of the company, which was initially a small hobby group. Upon further investigation, in which the owner has willingly participated, the owner in question now owes the company a significant balance and is working to help rectify the situation." This is a cautious way of stating that an owner/employee took money that belonged to the company for personal use, an occurrence that is all to common in the gaming industry. Catalyst assures its customers that the problem has been rectified. I hope so and I hope that the situation is handled in a way that prevents future damage to Catalyst.

Any time that Steve Jackson Games releases a game that isn't another in the long line of Munchkin related merchandise, it warms my heart and gives me hope that the company will continue to thrive. The fact that The Stars are Right is a fun game that whimsically plays around with eldritch horror is icing on he cake. SJG is currently suffering from what is often called the 80/20 rule where 80% of the company's revenue comes from one product line. Hopefully people will check out the great products that SJG has been producing over the past few years and realize that GURPS isn't dead and that SJG -- who started out as a hobby game company -- is producing great non-Munchkin games as well. While you're buying a copy of The Stars are Right, which you should, check out the new Pyramid online, Revolution, and the awesome new edition of Frag.

Thunderstone is AEG's second nomination in this category, a fact demonstrating their smooth transition into the broader hobby game field. The game follows the recent trend of games like Dominion and Fantasy Flight Games Living Game System in that it combines the customization of deck building with the non-collectible nature of a traditional game. For many gamers, I count myself among them, this is an ideal combination. Players can construct unique playing experiences and combine card abilities in interesting ways without having to take a second mortgage on the home in order to afford the ultra powerful "rare" cards in the Collectible Card Game secondary market.

While I have played, and still play, a wide variety of role playing games, my favorite segment of the gaming hobby is the board game sector. Like the card game sector, it includes great games that can be gateway games to other aspects of the hobby. How many Talisman players went on to become roleplayers or miniatures aficionados? How many people became D&D players after playing Heroquest or The Dungeon? I imagine quite a few. The post "German-Invasion" years have seen the quality of components increase in the hobby as a whole. Where one might once have found that the hobby industry production standards were often lower than those of mainstream games, that isn't true for the modern hobby game. Gone are the days where games as fun and worthy of replay as The Creature that Ate Sheboygan are released by major hobby manufacturers with second class components like "die cut counters" and a poorly produced map. If that game were to be produced today, it would be a lavish affair with sculpted minis for the monster and sturdy components representing the defenders of the city. To be fair, the Charles Vess cover on the original game couldn't be much improved upon, but the rest of the games components would be vastly improved.

Board Game

Castle Panic follows the recent trend toward collaborative/competitive games. The players of Castle Panic must work together to defend the castle from the invading armies of orcs, trolls, and goblins that besiege it. A player can only become the victor of the game if the players succeed at their goal of defending the castle -- the winner is the player with the most victory points after a successful defense. Castle Panic is coming close to displacing one of my two favorite cooperative boardgames (Lord of the Rings and Ghost Stories) as a game that stays on the bookshelf in the "game room" rather than being relegated to the closet of gaming goodness or the storage pit of doom.

Z-Man games is a company who has made the transition from small press company, whose games had nominal component quality, to one of the leading hobby game companies in the United States. Endeavor is a perfect example of why this company has been so successful in the past few years. The game features all of the desirable qualities of a Eurogame. It features an interesting premise, players of the game set out in search of new lands and new civilizations in an attempt to expand their trading empire. The game plays easily, has high quality components, and only takes about an hour and a half to play a full game.

Days of Wonder doesn't release a lot of games, but every game they have released to date has been a winner. From Memoir '44 and Battlelore to Ticket to Ride and Mystery of the Abbey all this company has done is release playable and high quality games for hobbyists to enjoy. Small World is a fantasy reworking of the classic game Vinci. Both games are about expanding civilizations, but Vinci featured a larger map that enabled some players to avoid conflict during game play -- especially during 3 player sessions. The game is similar to Brittania in that players civilizations change over the course of play as their old civilizations fall into decline and they need to adopt new civilizations to keep generating points for victory.

When Games Workshop announced that they were re-releasing an updated version of Space Hulk with a limited production run, the young child in me screamed with giddy joy. When I found out that the release would be an update of the first edition rules, that Matt Forbeck lauded in Hobby Games: The 100 Best, my heart nearly exploded from excitement. I have always enjoyed the first edition and its mechanics and preferred them to the second edition (I own both). This version of the game incorporates rules from the original game and the Genestealer expansion and contains some of the most beautiful plastic playing pieces of any Games Workshop game to date -- and that is saying something. These miniatures are awesome. If you love the idea of playing a game inspired by Alien this is the game to play.

Martin Wallace's series of train games are some of the best games in the genre and Mayfair games is the leading manufacturer of train themed board games. With Steam they have a game that demonstrates why the genre is so popular. Players of prior Wallace train games will recognize the mechanics of the game, but this package has a lot to offer with its depth of play and quality of components. If you have never played a train game before, this is a great place to start.

While that completes the analysis for today's post, here is a list of the remaining nominees.

Children’s, Family, or Party Game
Are You The Traitor? – Looney Labs
Duck! Duck! SAFARI! – APE Games
Pack and Stack – Mayfair Games
Ren Faire – Atlas Games
Word on the Street – Out of the Box Publishing

Roleplaying Game
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space – Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Eclipse Phase – Catalyst Game Labs
FantasyCraft – Crafty Games
A Song of Ice And Fire – Green Ronin Publishing
Supernatural Roleplaying Game – Margaret Weis Productions

Roleplaying Game Supplement
Big Damn Heroes Handbook – Margaret Weis Productions
The Day After Ragnarok – Atomic Overmind Press
Seattle 2072 – Catalyst Game Labs
Warriors & Warlocks – Green Ronin Publishing
Weird War II – Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Miniatures Figure or Line of Figures
Duke Rathar, Dragon Lord – Fantization Miniatures
Kings of War: Elves – Mantic Games
Marvel HeroClix: Hammer of Thor Expansion – WizKids
Monsterpocalypse Series 4 – Privateer Press
Warhammer Armies: Skaven – Games Workshop

Miniatures Rules
BattleTech: Strategic Operations – Catalyst Game Labs
HAVOC: Tactical Miniatures Warfare – Voodoo Ink Publishing
Larger Than Life – Two Hour Wargames
Warhammer 40K: Planetstrike – Games Workshop
Warmachine Prime Mk II – Privateer Press

Game Accessory
Arkham Horror Dice Set – Q-Workshop/Fantasy Flight Games
d20Pro – Mindgene, LLC
Forsaken Lands Poster Map – Maps of Mystery
Fortress of Redemption – Games Workshop
Knights of the Dinner Table – Kenzer and Company

Game-Related Book
BattleTech: 25 Years of Art and Fiction – Catalyst Game Labs
The Best of All Flesh – Elder Signs Press
Cthulhu 101 – Atomic Overmind Press
Deluge – Pinacle Entertainment Group
Legend of the Five Rings: Death at Koten – Alderac Entertainment Group

Historical Board Game or Expansion
The Hell of Stalingrad – Clash of Arms Games
Richard III: War of the Roses – Columbia Games
Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel – Academy Games
D-Day at Omaha Beach – Decision Games
Unhappy King Charles – GMT Games

Historical Miniatures Figure or Line of Figures
Wings of War Albatross D.III – Fantasy Flight Games
15mm Parachute Rifle Company – Battlefront Miniatures
15mm Ming Chinese – Old Glory Miniatures
28mm British Napoleonic Infantry – Victrix Miniatures
28mm World War I: Great War in Africa – Brigade Games

Historical Miniatures Rules
Flames of War: Open Fire – Battlefront Miniatures
Wings of War: World War II, Deluxe Edition – Fantasy Flight Games
Napoleon’s Battles, 3rd Edition – Lost Battalion Games
“La Salle” Napoleonic Tactical Wargame Rules – Sam Mustafa
Warlord Games Black Powder Rulebook – Warlord Games

Historical Miniatures Rules Supplement
Flames of War: North Africa – Battlefront Miniatures
Eternal Empire: The Ottomans at War – Osprey Publishing
Battles of the Seven Years War: Austria vs. Prussia – Test of Battle Games
Fields of Battle: Atacar es Vencer! – Spanish Civil War 1936 – Iron Ivan Games
Commonwealth Skirmish Scenarios – Southern Maryland Press

Monday, January 05, 2009

GAMA Executive Director Job Hunt: Missed It by That Much!

The Game Manufacturer's Association announced the hiring of their new Executive Director this morning. For the position, they selected John Ward who brings a wide array of management and retail experience to the organization. To quote the GAMA press release, "Ward...has over 20 years of government service in the criminal justice field, most recently in the juvenile system as the state of Ohio’s Bureau Chief of Parole and then Bureau Chief of Community Facilities. In this last role, he supervised 12 small correctional facilities and managed revenue generation for Ohio’s juvenile corrections agency, as well as working with 12 governing boards in a variety of endeavors. He enhanced volunteer programs, developed data and outcome measures, and was able to assist them in operationalizing both economic and procedural efficiencies. He still serves on a national level working and consulting in the criminal justice arena."

I wish him the best of luck and it sounds like the GAMA board's selection process last fall has brought a worthy candidate to the organization. It is my sincere hope that John is able to expand the size and scope of GAMA and that by next year's GAMA Trade Show, his positive influence is readily visible.

What many of you may not know is that I applied for this very position last fall and made it through to the final stage of selection (the final four if you will). GAMA flew me out to Columbus, OH where I had the privilege of meeting with the current board members in an in person interview. I had already had a "long distance" interview with Michelle Nephew of Atlas Games (she is a current board member) and was excited to have the opportunity to be considered for the position.

The trip out was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting experiences of my life. I flew out of Los Angeles the evening prior to my interview, arrived in Columbus early in the morning, and flew back the same evening I was interviewed. It was a grueling 42 hour day. I don't recommend 42 hour days, but it is one of the disadvantages of living on the West Coast that trips back East make for life draining journeys. Thankfully, I made my Fortitude Save and was coherent throughout my interview -- if a bit manic.

I applied for the position because it was one of those rare occasions where interests and talents align in an almost perfect manner. I have 8 years of management experience with a small staff at a non-profit. I have also managed several large -- not in comparison to Origins or the GTS (GAMA Trade Show) -- annual conferences in Washington, DC (for approximately 200 students) and a number of simulation elections, town hall forums, etc. Combining this experience with my overwhelming love of gaming as a hobby, and this was an opportunity that I could not overlook.

I wasn't certain that I would get as far in the process and I did. I was actually surprised that I made it into the final four individuals being considered. Especially, adding to my resume that I am currently working on my MBA -- my Ph.D. studies (2 courses -- qualifying exams -- and a dissertation are what remain for my fulfillment) are currently on hold -- which was likely a liability. No one wants to relocate someone who is in the process of accomplishing a goal. I am certain that was one reason I wasn't offered the position.

That...and the fact that John Ward is an awesome candidate. Looking over his background, I feel even more honored to have made it as far as I did.

Thank you for the interview GAMA and good luck John. Hopefully, I'll be able to go to Origins in 2009 or 2010 and I can congratulate you in person.