Some records were made to be broken, and with the raging success of Kickstarter.com, crowdfunding high water marks have become an endangered species. Steve Jackson Games is the latest company to top the charts, and their reprint of the classic 1970's tactical combat game Ogre is the culprit.

Prior to Ogre hitting the crowdfunding scene, the most funded board game project had been D-Day Dice with $171,805 raised. To put Ogre's success into perspective, take a look at the current funding total: $289,144. The $20,000 initial goal was crushed in mere hours, leaving fans to wonder not whether the project would be funded, but just how far it would go.

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The Penny Arcade Expo is huge. Over the course of three days, 30,000+ geeks fill a building so large it could double as an aircraft hangar, with one sole pursuit: to enjoy the video game expo hall, concerts, tournaments, panels, lectures, and workshops. Yet even if you tried, you couldn't experience every facet of PAX in one weekend.

What about the tabletop gaming scene, though? Surely, one man could experience all of the board, card, miniatures, and role-playing games that PAX East has to offer. Not so fast. As it turns out, hobby gamers have been thriving in the halls of PAX, and the tabletop presence has expanded beyond previous years' highs.

According to head Tabletop department manager Father Fletch, tabletop represents "a section that offers a lot to do, for a longer period of time, than any other part of the show." Fletch went on to describe the increased scope of PAX Tabletop's play space, stating "we had some 400+ tables (rounds and rectangles) of playable space, some of it offering structured play in the form of game demos, others as tournaments, and yet others as free play areas." Add in a slew of new exhibitors and retailers, and conquering PAX Tabletop becomes a weekend task of its own.

A single photo cannot hope to show all of the space dedicated to tabletop gaming at PAX East, but this does the best job at showing off the freeplay areas.

One man can do it all, but not without some assistance. I enlisted the help of attendees, vendors, and enforces alike to get the answer to a simple question: what were the hot tabletop games of PAX East 2012? I've merged their pool of answers with my own impressions in a patented unscientific manner to present to you, readers, the definitive PAX tabletop experience.

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The life of an architect is full of hard work. Being a caveman architect is even harder, but at least when your construction crew messes up, you can beat them over the head with a spiked club.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. Ugg-Tect is a Pictionary-style party game where two teams of up to four cavemen each will have to build structures out of wooden blocks. The twist is that only the team leader (architect) can see the construction plans, and must communicate to the team using only grunts and stomps. Of course, when the team’s building goes astray, they’ll receive a few whacks from the included inflatable club to keep them on course. Read More...

The archangel Avacyn has returned! A bright, fiery dawn banishes Innistrad’s shadows. Humanity takes up arms and drives back the creatures of the night. With flights of angels overhead, the righteous band together and wield holy light and miraculous magic to restore the balance of their world.

Magic: The Gathering fans, prepare for the third an final set of the Innistrad block: Avacyn Restored. In advance of the May 4th release date, Wizards of the Coast has begun providing sneak peeks at some of the new cards included in this set. Read on to take a look at "Harvester of Souls," a fearsome black creature you'll surely want to have stocked in your deck.


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There's a trend in video gaming that's not as often embraced in the hobby gaming world: the production of direct sequels and spin-offs to commercially successful games. Board and card game publishers are much more prone to offer expansions that build upon (and require) the base game. So consider me surprised when Z-Man Games announced their plan to publish Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, a two-player spin-off of the popular European strategy title.

For those not already knee-deep in cardboard counters and wooden cubes, allow me to provide some background. Agricola is a prime case in not judging a book game by its cover, as at first glance,  it contains all excitement of hard manual labor: plowing fields and breeding livestock. That is enough to send a sizeable chunk of the board gaming community running for the hills, but those that stick around wind up loving what they find.

Agricola has become the second highest rated board game of all time in the BoardGameGeek.com database, and is a massive commercial success. This is primarily due to Agricola serving as the epitome of Euro-style gaming: tightly balanced competition where victory is determined by skill rather than luck. Yes, farming can get quite intense.

Yet Agricola already offers the option for a 2-player match, so why should gamers be excited about a new 2-player-only experience? Let's dive into the rules for Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small to find out.

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Axis & Allies and its logo are trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. and used with permission. All rights reserved  ©2012 Hasbro, Inc.

For gaming geeks who grew up in the 80's, Milton Bradley's Gamemaster series often served as an induction into the hobby. These were games for people who felt Risk and Stratego were too simple, but didn't know what else to play until this more complex range of games came along.

Thirty years later, Axis & Allies has made a lasting impression as the most recognizable entry from that Gamemaster series of classics, and publisher Wizards of the Coast is aiming to win over a new generation of fans with Axis & Allies 1941.

Touted as "a simplified A&A experience that will introduce players to the A&A mechanics and play style," Axis & Allies 1941 will be designed for setup and play in less time than any prior Axis and Allies title. The whole experience is expected to wrap up in 1.5 to 2 hours, which is pretty brisk for an average war game. The gameplay uses the same core system as Axis & Allies 1942 2nd Edition, but any changes to provide a more streamlined experience have yet to be revealed.

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After several months of tough competition, Mike Welham has emerged from a field of 32 other unpublished authors and won the title of RPG Superstar 2012. An amateur game designer no more, Welham will go pro when he is awarded the contest's grand prize: a contract with Paizo Publishing to write a 32-page adventure for the hit Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

The RPG Superstar contest put authors through a gauntlet of writing challenges. Over the course of five rounds, contestants were tasked with creating an item, organization, monster, encounter with map, and ultimately, a proposal for a Pathfinder module adventure. Welham's winning adventure, titled Doom Comes to Dustpawn, was selected over three other finalists in a week-long public vote.

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If a standard deck of playing cards was Kansas, then a Fluxx game would be Oz. Shuffle the deck, deal out your hand, and get transported to a land where the rules are constantly changing, nobody is quite sure how to win, and the game could turn upside down at a moment's notice. With a few friends to help you along the way, though, you'll wind up wanting to stay a long time.

Oz Fluxx is the latest entry in a line of casual card games from Looney Labs. There's Zombie Fluxx, Martian Fluxx, Monty Python FluxxPirate Fluxx, Star Fluxx, and more. In addition to the different themes, each has its own slight twist on the classic Fluxx rules set. Read on to see how Looney Labs handled the Oz theme, and how Oz Fluxx stacks up against the rest of the Fluxx family.

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 5-30 minutes
Age: 8 to adult
Publisher: Looney Labs
MSRP: $16.00
Release: March 23rd, 2012

 

The Gameplay:

Fluxx is a game all about collection. Throughout the game, you'll get "Keeper" cards that represent people, objects, or locations, such as The Scarecrow, a bucket of water, or the land of Oz. You'll collect these Keepers face-up in front of you and hope that what you have matches the Goal card. For instance, the "Welcome to Munchkin Town" Goal card requires you to have the Yellow Brick Road and Munchkins. If you have both of these Keepers, you immediately win the game! Read More...

Pirates. Ninja. Robots. Zombies. Aliens. Dinosaurs. Wizards. Gnomes and other Tricksters. No, this is not the recipe for a Reddit fantasy game, this is the roster for Smash Up, an upcoming card game from AEG.

It's not just the multi-genre theme that makes Smash Up a noteworthy release, though. If you look at the box cover above, you'll see the tagline "the shufflebuilding game of total awesomeness!" But what the heck is shufflebuilding anyway?

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Earlier this month, we previewed a new card from Munchkin 8: Half Horse, Will Travel, but that's not all that Steve Jackson Games had up its Munchkin-publishing sleeve. In fact, it's not even the only equine-focused set to be released this month.

Next up is The Good, The Bad, and the Munchkin 2: Beating a Dead Horse, the first expansion for the western-themed Munchkin set that debuted back in 2007. Prepare yourself for a second helping of monsters, loot, instants, steeds, and cowboy puns.

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Over 20 years ago, Sim City proved that gaming geeks enjoy playing mayor, and the theme remains a ripe source for future development. There are numerous factors involved in city planning: zoning, construction, management of politicians and local officials, etc., so why not attempt to translate this video game success over to tabletop gaming? After all, it worked out quite well for Sid Meier's Civilization.

The problem is that somebody already did attempt this. That was Mayfair Games, betting big on Sim City: The Card Game during the '90s CCG craze. Unfortunately, the game's reception was so poor that it nearly killed the company, so you can't blame today's designers for shying away from intricate city planning board and card games. Only recently, the theme has cropped back up in releases such as Chad Jensen's Urban Sprawl and the game we'll be reviewing today, Sunrise City from Clever Mojo Games. Read More...

These days, it's easier to ask what gaming licenses Cryptozoic doesn't have under its belt. The publisher has just announced plans to create a deckbuilding card game around Capcom's stable of fighting games: Street Fighter, Rival Schools, Darkstalkers, and Final Fight.

In their press release, Cryptozoic described their upcoming Capcom deckbuilder as "easy to learn and quick to play." This is in line with their recent approach, which uses high-visibility licenses such as Capcom's to offer a taste of the hobby gaming scene to a new audience of gamers. A good example of this is Penny Arcade: Gamers vs. Evil [full review] which used the popular webcomic to provide a perfect introduction to deckbuilding card games.

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By now, you've probably seen the news about Felicia Day's new YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry. Yesterday's announcement featured a lineup of six new original web series, but one in particular piqued the interest of hobby gaming fans: Tabletop.

Featuring host, executive producer, and all-around geek icon Wil Wheaton, Tabletop is described in Wheaton's own words as "Celebrity Poker meets Dinner for Five, " where interesting people and geek celebrities come together to enjoy tabletop games. Now, Wheaton has taken to his blog and provided fans a lengthy preview of what they can expect to see during Tabletop's first season.

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The new Timber Peak expansion sits atop previous Last Night on Earth games on the GAMA Trade Show floor. (Photo: Jack Scott Hill)

Where can you find zombies, space aliens, and a murder mystery in the middle of a desert? Only at the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Trade Show, held out in Las Vegas, NV each year. Flying Frog Productions is well known for thematic games using all of the elements listed above, but they've also got a bit of a reputation for making news at GAMA. This year was no different, as the majority of Flying Frog games had new content revealed.

Of the games in Flying Frog's stable, Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game is the most well-known, and rightfully so, it received the largest upgrade out of the new products announced this week. Last Night on Earth: Timber Peak commemorates the 5-year anniversary of the original Last Night on Earth with an expansion so large that it makes for an entire stand-alone game.

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Big news has not stopped rolling out of Las Vegas's Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Trade Show, but a definite theme is beginning to emerge: big name board games are getting a large helping of extra content in the form of expansions. The big announcement from Gary Games this week is that their hit deckbuilding card game, Ascension, will receive its fourth set of cards.

Titled Ascension: Immortal Heroes, this set is intended to be a direct expansion to Ascension: Storm of Souls, and is recommended to be played when combined with that standalone set. Immortal Heroes builds off of the new mechanics seen in Storm of Souls, but also a delivers a few new tricks of its own, such as new "soul gem" cards that represent some new form of weapon that players can wield during the game.

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