Belfort sold out, D-Day Dice breaks records, and more...

According to the designers, Belfort is officially sold out from the publisher's warehouse, with the last copies going to Canadian distributor, Lion Rampant Imports. Meanwhile, feedback on the game has been extremely positive. Fans rated it the best game of BGG.con this past week and BGG power reviewers Ender Wiggins and Jeff Temple have given it a very positive and lavishly illustrated review (which is only to be outdone by a recent "Condo of Mystery" webcomic about the game being released page by page.

Here are some quick comments about Belfort from the BGG site:
  • "Beautiful board and components. Very good design on board. " - Paul Smith
  • "Solid combination of worker placement and area control mechanics." - Marc Buchanan
  • "One of the two best 2-player meaty, thematic, worker placement games that is fun and the only one that also has area control." - Jimmy Okolica 
  • "A simple, beautiful worker placement. There is a lot of replay in this little box and a ton of sexy components." - Wesley Kinslow
  • "Fun game. Fun art. Puts together a host of familiar euro mechanics, but in such a way that is stronger than the sum of its parts. Definitely recommended. " - David Siskin
  • "Great game. A much deeper game hides behind a pretty face. Worker placement, area majority, and resource management at it's finest." - Gustav Åkerfelt 
  • "This game is as good as it looks! The worker placement is stone age easy and the area control leads to some cut throat interactive gaming." - Zack Stackurski
  • "A nice mix of worker placement and resource management." - Andrew Mason
  • "Game of the Year 2011?" - Joel Eddy
  • "This is simple game that at the front seems like a family game, but it has quite a lot of strategy and agonizing decisions. Excellent components." - Paul Nomikos
  • "Such a fun game. A great blend of worker placement and area majority. It all seems to fit together well to create a fun yet challenging experience." - Mike Jones
  • "Wow! Worker placement, Area Management, and Variable Phase Order in a wonderful integration without being dry dry dry. Fun! Fresh! Addicting!" - Peter Elsenheimer 
  • "A great worker acquisition + worker placement + area majority game, and one of very few games I've playtested that left me aching to play again." - Matt Musselman

Remembrance Day

Another solemn Remembrance Day has come and gone. D-Day Dice, the "storm the beaches" Kickstarter war-game mentioned in our previous post, surpassed $50,000 in funding today. Designer Emmanuel Aquin and the publisher, Valley Games, will be giving out some additional content to commemorate the milestone but they're still waiting on information from the manufacturer before they announce it. At this rate, the funding milestones are being met faster than the quotes can come in from the publishers.

Congratulations Emmanuel, and all the best as the advance continues.

Kickstarting a Canadian Success Story is an innovative American crowd-funding site for a wide variety of creative projects. Boardgame projects have proven particularly successful there, however, generating over $1.1 million so far in 2011. Unfortunately, creatives from outside of the U.S. face a number of technical, logistical, and accounting hurdles when attempting to set up projects on the site.

Canadian publisher Valley Games has managed to overcome those hurdles, however, and this morning launched a $13,000 Kickstarter project for D-Day Dice, a cooperative dice-based wargame by Quebecois designer Emmanuel Aquin. Less than 19 hours later, the project is already 107% funded, a remarkable accomplishment. The project remains open for funding for another 39 days, officially closing on December 9.

Games Stores Across Canada

So how many independent boardgame stores are there across Canada (not including large chains like Chapters, WalMart, or Toys R Us)? When I first launched the Canadian Heritage Collection a little over a year ago, I counted a little over 300 online and brick and mortar retailers.

One of the resources I came across at the time was an excellent BoardGameGeek Geeklist by Shawn Woods of Halifax, where he maintains a running tally of Canadian Game Retailers. While it's not comprehensive, he's been updating it again lately and is currently sitting at around 130 stores. If you spot any gaps where your friendly local game store should be, you can correct the issue by sending him a Geekmail via the BoardGameGeek website.

Canadian Games at Essen

The giant boardgame trade show, Internationale Spieltage (aka Essen Spiele), is currently underway in Germany and Canadian games are there in force. We've been keeping an eye out for how various Canadian games are faring in BoardGameGeek's GeekBuzz metrics, which attempt to gauge the popularity of the various games present at the fair.

Most popular right now among the games we're tracking are Belfort (averaging 4.8 stars out of 5), Jab: Real-Time Boxing (4.6 stars), D-Day Dice (4.2 stars), Québec (4.1 stars), Undermining (4.1 stars), Quarriors! (3.9 stars), Ticket to Ride: Team Asia & Legendary Asia (3.6 stars), Alba Longa (3.3 stars), Pamplona: Viva San Fermin! (3.3 stars), and 1812: The Invasion of Canada (3.3 stars). That last one, by Ontario-based designers Beau Beckett and Jeph Stahl, is new to us so we're glad to now have it on our radar.

BoardGameGeek is also doing a great job of posting video interviews and rules explanations with the designers and publishers. Check out some of the Canadian Content below:

Canadians in the Awards!

Essen Spiel, the big German tradeshow for the boardgames industry, is just about to begin. A lot of awards are announced in the weeks leading up to the show as a means of celebrating the year that was before shifting focus on all the brand new games surging onto the market for the holiday season. As a result, now's an excellent time to get a sense of the many Canadian games that have been receiving special recognition over the course of 2011.

I'd like to start right here with some Canadian-specific awards. I spent last weekend at FallCon in Calgary, where the Canadian Heritage Collection is kindly recognized as an official sponsor. For the past two years, they've run the Canadian Game Design Award to recognize new, unpublished Canadian designs and ensure they get into print. A single finished copy of 2010's winning prototype, Octopus' Garden (Roberta Taylor / Valley Games), was was flown in hot of the presses for the show and was looking gorgeous. Ask your distributors about it - it's a wonderful family game and should start finding its way onto store shelves soon. As it turns out, 2011's big winner, Undermining (Matt Tolman / Z-Man Games) will be on store shelves around the same time. Newly Canadian publisher Z-Man Games signed it after the game's entry into the contest and launched the game this morning at this year's Essen. Congratulations to Matt and Roberta, Valley Games and Z-Man! Having played both games in their pre-published form, everyone's in for quite a treat with these two well-deserving designs. Interestingly, both games were also manufactured by Vancouver's Panda Games. So congratulations to them as well. Also note that the Montreal-based Ludor Prize is in the final stages and will be announcing a winner any day now.

2011 CHC Master Catalogue now available!

Welcome back, everyone! As you can see, I've been busy restructuring the site and giving it a fresh coat of paint. I encourage you to check out the new Gaming Canadian page for a big list of useful links that really highlight the depth and diversity of the Canadian board game industry. If you know of more links I should be adding, please let me know and I'll be happy to add them.

Even more importantly, the hard work of September is done and we now have a brand new 2011 Master Catalogue of Canadian Games. It's bigger than ever and full of plenty of new and revised "Did you know..." trivia callouts providing insights into the Canadian industry. A big thanks to all the advertisers who helped make this year's catalogue possible and I look forward to everyone's feedback on how we can continue to improve the catalogue in future years.

Happy Birthday!

Happy 1st Birthday, CHC!

I launched the Canadian Heritage Collection in September of last year and, as I compile the 2011 Master Catalogue of Canadian Games, I'm excited to see the project taking on a life of its own.

The 2011 catalogue contains another 50% more games than last year and lots of new and updated trivia about the designers, publishers, games, companies, organizations, and awards that make the Canadian specialty game market such a fascinating topic. We're currently tracking games from 25 Canadian publishers and almost 50 individual Canadian designers. Barring any last minute additions, the content is now largely complete and the advertising continues to come in. For those of you who've already spoken to me or who remain on the fence, a gentle reminder that the deadline for advertising assets and payment is the end of September as the 2011 catalogue will be releasing early in October.  Contact me if you have any questions.

The Games of Summer

Another crosspost from the latest "Canadian Made, Canadian Played" newsletter. In it, we cover the acquisition of Z-Man Games, provide overviews of some new and upcoming Canadian-designed games, and keep you informed of some upcoming Great Canadian Board Game Blitz tournaments in your area.... Enjoy!

Boardgames in Bloom

Dragon Age 2Happy Easter long weekend, everyone. In case anyone's keeping track, March pretty much slipped away from me. This was largely thanks to the fact that, in my new Operations role at BioWare, I've been overseeing the finalization, launch and patching process for our latest video game, Dragon Age II. The game has faced mixed reviews and its share of both fair and unfair criticisms but sales remain strong overall. The first major patch is out and improving the experience for a large number of users and we're hard at work on another, as well as a variety of other initiatives across the franchise. I try not to talk too much about work on this blog as I have to be pretty careful about what I say. Nevertheless, that should give you a pretty accurate high-level view of what's been keeping me busy lately.

The Perils and Possibilities of Going Digital

So What Do the Kids Think?
Before I dive into the main subject matter of this post, I thought I'd share a wonderful pair of recent Two by Two video reviews from actual children who've been playing the game. The first is by Brooke of The BoardGame Family while the second is by Hayden of Games with Hayden. A big thanks to both of them and to their families for sharing their insights and impressions on so many games!

Happy New Year!

The holidays are always a busy time. Somehow, between all the travel and turkey dinners, I've been able to take on a new Toy Fair kids game contract, assist publishers with some of my upcoming titles slated for later this year, make a final push on some top secret titles I have some interesting self-publishing plans for, and enter a new, busier phase in my day job at BioWare. More on all of that later. For now, I just wanted to point you to some of the exciting new developments that are still ongoing with Two by Two.