GTS Press Conf. #2: Chaosmos, Ares Games, North Star Games, CMON

After Arcane Wonders and Crystal Commerce spoke at the press conference, we heard from four more exhibitors, Mirror Box Games, Ares Games, North Star Games, and Cool Mini or Not.

Mirror Box Games: Chaosmos

Joey Vigour from Mirror Box Games presented Chaosmos. While still in development, Chaosmos is a science fiction board game wherein the 2-4 players search for the mysterious singularity, the Ovoid, in a “cosmic treasure hunt.” The game is still so new that brothers Joey and Danny Vigour are still deciding on its final components, but have a rough estimate of a $40-50 price. What’s clear to the Brothers Vigour and their two co-designers is that Chaosmos’s play style is “emergent”, with no particular path to victory. Whoever holds the Ovoid at the end of the game will be the victor. Players who have good memories and deductive powers though will be rewarded because the game has a Clue-like element with an envelope on each of the game’s 10 planets. Players have a maximum 7-card hand, but can trade out cards on the planets. The Pheromonic Harpoon is a potent weapon card in Chaosmos, but a player with the Pheromonic Recoiler card can resist its devastating effects. Keeping track of where the two device cards are is part of the challenge of the game, but the focus of Chaosmos isn’t really battles, says Vigour. Instead, battles are just a further way of obtaining information.

Three players trying new board game Chaosmos

Brothers Joey and Danny Vigour (center and left) Demo Chaosmos at the Mirror Box Games Booth

In addition to the 10 planets, there are also 10 aliens, each with its own unique powerful racial ability. These racial abilities combined with players’ hands of cards makes “every player begin to start thinking they’re invincible,” according to elder brother Joey Vigour. For example, the alien Drusu the Scryer can look at other players’ hands and into the planetary envelopes with his Scrying ability. A powerful ability, but the Scryer can also tip off his opponents by his probable knowledge of the Ovoid’s location, so discretion is advised. Mirror Box Games’ efforts at demoing the game at Game Night and in the Exhibitors’ Hall elicited interest from attending distributors and game publishers, with at least one prominent company making the brothers a serious offer at the show. Mirror Box Games has not rushed to a decision about how Chaosmos will be produced and released, but their experience goes to show just how powerful the connections made at the GAMA Trade Show can be.

Diagonal view of board game Chaosmos with 10 planets and play pieces at GAMA Trade Show with three players

Danny Vigour Points to Alien Playing Piece on One of Chaosmos’s Ten Planets

Ares Games

Model miniature ships battle in Sails of Glory on blue mat representing ocean

Sails of Glory: Still Kickstarting

Roberto Di Maglio briefly touched upon Ares Games’ past releases, Wings of Glory, Lord of Middle-earth, Aztlán, and Micro Monsters. The Italian native explained that Ares Games released World War I and World War II lines of pre-assembled and prepainted miniature planes “realistic enough for simulationists” for Wings of Glory in 2012. The game’s mechanic of a maneuver deck of cards to move the planes around has been a hit and Ares Games adapted the mechanic for their Age of Sail game, Sails of Glory. The first Kickstarter attempt for Ares Games, Sails of Glory is currently funded, but still open for backers. The game is set in the Napoleonic era. Kickstarter has also doubled the hits to Ares Games’ website, Di Maglio revealed.

Shiny plastic sci-fi miniatures for board game The Galaxy Defenders on hexagonal playing surface

Plastic Sci-Fi Miniatures from The Galaxy Defenders from Ares Games

Two other games Ares Games will be launching later this year are The Galaxy Defenders and Inkognito. The Galaxy Defenders is a cooperative game using sci-fi miniatures with the players taking the part of the Terrans and battling against the AI aliens. Di Maglio expects an August or September release for the game. Inkognito will remain close to the spirit of the classic game released by Milton Bradley in 1988.

Large round playing pieces for board game Inkognito by Ares Games

The Stylized Playing Pieces of Inkognito Which Ares Games Will Release Later This Year

North Star Games: Clubs

Luke Warren from North Star Games kept his talk quite brief, focusing on the company’s newest release, Clubs. Clubs marks North Star Games’ entry into the light strategy market with the trick-taking game for 2-6 players, which takes 30 minutes to play. Retailing for only $14, it releases in April and may appear in Barnes & Noble stores. Expect a review of Clubs on Craven Games in the near future. Warren also noted that Wits and Wagers – Party will be replacing the regular version of Wits and Wagers in mass markets.

Light strategy card game Clubs marketing artwork with box cover from North Star Games

Cool Mini or Not

Dave Doust wearing Cool Mini or Not shirt gestures with left hand at press conference

CMON Director Dave Doust

David Doust introduced himself as a director at Cool Mini or Not, then provided a little overview of CMON’s 11-year history, describing the CMON of the past as a place where he used to sell boutique miniatures and users would upload their own miniatures for rating. Now CMON has many partners and Doust referenced Rivet Wars as an example of the company’s success with Kickstarter and multiple brands, with CMON releasing 6-8 titles a year. Rivet Wars is also exclusively distributed by ACD, Doust noted. He then turned to another huge release, Zombicide, and pointed out that alpha gamer Kickstarter backers who receive the game tend to become salesmen for the game for retailers.

Cool Mini or Not in the Exhibitors’ Hall

CMON had a much more modest booth compared to their 2012 GTS booth or their sprawling 2012 Gen Con complex. The two glass display cases they brought though were packed with miniatures and they had a recognizable face backing up Sedition Wars in the form of Mike McVey.

Thin British painter Mike McVey with crossed arms in front of Zombicide poster at Cool Mini booth

Miniature Gaming and Painting Legend Mike McVey at the CMON GTS Booth

Some of the Zombicide miniatures on display were brand new, a CMON booth worker pointed out. He also showed the new mechanic whereby the survivors turn into zombies themselves by flipping over Amy’s character card, as well as the new survivor Derek, before slowly thumbing through the Toxic City Mall rulebook.

North Star Games: Wits and Wagers Party, Say Anything, and Crappy Birthday

Luke Warren is the P.R. Director of North Star Games as well as being a Sales Rep and a designer. I interviewed him on the floor of the GAMA Trade Show’s Exhibitor’s Hall on March 14. We had an unexpected third person join us towards the end.

Wits and Wagers Party

Cover for North Star Games Wits and Wagers Party game.

Image courtesy North Star Games

CG: Luke from North Star Games, what’s different about Wits & Wagers Party that’s coming out in July?
LW: Well, Wits & Wagers Party is a cross between Wits & Wagers Family and Wits & Wagers. It’s essentially an easier form of Wits & Wagers to allow people who are not as familiar with games to get into the Wits & Wagers brand. So if you’re familiar with Wits and Wagers at all, it’s a trivia game for people who don’t know trivia. Everyone answers the same question, the answers go on a betting mat and you bet on the answer that gets closest to the correct answer without going over. Depending on whether the correct answer is ultimately placed you get a payout 2 to 1, 3 to 1, 4 to 1, something like that. In Wits & Wagers Party we’ve eliminated the betting mat and the odds. So if you bet correctly you get a poker chip for each token you bet on the correct answer. On the seventh question, you can wager your poker chips, you can wager your winnings. The idea is that will increase your payout, but if you’re wrong you lose the chips. There’s only seven questions in the game, so on the last one, you can go all-in. It has a little bit of that gambling element of Wits and Wagers, but during the play of the game, it’s a lot easier. You just get that one to one, you’re collecting chips, much like you get points in Wits & Wagers Family. In the last question you get that gambling element, so kind of a hybrid between the two.
CG: The key part of Wits and Wagers is that everyone is playing at the same time.
LW: Yes, that’s still true. Well, what we find is that waiting around for your turn is boring. So all of our games everyone’s playing constantly. You always have something to do. So in Wits & Wagers, if you’ve ever played Trivial Pursuit, for instance, whenever somebody’s turn it is, you wait around, they answer all these questions, they go back and forth between the Roll Agains, they get a couple questions right, but they’re not the pie pieces. It could take 20 minutes to get back around to you. That’s boring. Nobody wants to do that. So in Wits and Wagers, everyone answers the same question, so you’re always playing. And you can bet on other people’s answers, so even if you don’t know, that doesn’t matter. You can bet it on other folks. So if you’re playing with somebody who follows sports and you don’t, bet on the sports guy.
CG: By knowing the player and his knowledge?
LW: Yes, so a lot of it is about knowing who the players are that you’re playing with.

Say Anything from Northstar Games

CG: Now what about Say Anything?
LW: Say Anything is kind of a similar mechanic, but is based on opinion, but all of the questions are things like “What is the worst thing to say to a cop after being pulled over?” or “What song would make the worst song for the first dance at a wedding?” or “What’s the best band of the 70s?” So some are more serious, some are completely, you know-
CG: What is the worst thing to say to a cop if you’re pulled over?

Say Anything from North Star Games box art.

Image courtesy North Star Games

LW: Oh, I can’t say that on a podcast, but depending on who’s playing it, they can go with a conservative answer, like “Oh, let me put down my beer” you know, to something about their daughter. You know, so it’s like it could run the gamut. So it molds itself really well to the audience.
CG: It comes with dry erase pens?
LW: Yeah, dry erase pens, answer boards, nothing added. The idea there is to write the funniest answer, because the person who asks the question picks which answer they like the most secretly. And everyone bets on what they think that person just picked.
CG: So you’re still wagering-
LW: Yes, you’re still wagering. So even if I don’t write the answer that gets picked, I can still get points, unlike say Apples to Apples. If I don’t have a good answer, there’s nothing I can do. So here, if I don’t have a funny answer I can still bet on somebody who I think did write a funny answer.

Crappy Birthday to You

CG: What else is coming out? Anything else?
LW: Well, Wits and Wagers Party is the only thing this year. Crappy Birthday came out the end of last year. And it’s literally the game where you try to give bad gifts. You get a hand of cards, they all have zany gifts on them. Whoseever turn it is, everyone else gives them a gift, and they have to pick which one they think is the worst. So very simple game. Exact same mechanics as Apples to Apples, but a lot funnier, because you’re trying to give bad gifts to people. And you can learn a lot about people that way. Great as a gift to take to a party or something. Just have people open it, play it, they’ll have a great time and you leave the game at the party. Like a bottle of wine. Instead of a bottle of wine, take Crappy Birthday.

Crappy Birthday box art from North Star Games

Image courtesy North Star Games

CG: What’s the price point?
LW: $15.
CG: So it is a little gift.
LW: Yeah. It’s in a gift box package. Gift box price. And it’s so simple. People literally, all your drunk friends can open this game and start playing, like Paul.
Paul: Even I could play this game drunk.
CG: Paul from?
Paul: Ohio.
CG: Ohio. And you run?
Paul: Spellbinders. I do a pop-up store. Some retailers hate me ’cause I’m only open for Christmas.
CG: You play Crappy Birthday? Are you a shill?
Paul: I’m not a shill. Well yeah, I am. Because I like this guy.
LW: The connection is only tenuous. It’s only because he likes Crappy Birthday.
Paul: I believe that Crappy Birthday would still sell at $25. It feels like a $25 game, but it’s only $15. That’s why I give it a thumbs-up.
LW: Yes, it’s definitely worth the price. We designed it on purpose to be something that people would buy impulsively to take to a party. That’s really what the game is about.
LW: Yeah! Thank you.
CG: Thank you!