News Digest Episode 133

This is a copy of the “script” we used to organise Brainwaves Episode 133. It is not a full transcript but should give you an overview of the news as we reported it. Quotes are in italics.

Brainwaves Episode 133


Devil pig down the drain

  • On October the 26th, Arnaud Charpenetier, the CEO of Matagot, and owner of The Board Game Strategist sent this email to the rest of the team at Pig from Hell Games, publishers of the “Heroes of…” and “Age of Towers” series of games:
    • Gentlemen,
    • I would like to inform you that by judgment dated October 25, 2023, the Commercial Court of BORDEAUX has pronounced the opening of judicial liquidation proceedings against the company PIG FROM HELL GAMES. As a result, the company ceases all operations as of today.
    • The Court has also appointed SELARL PHILAE as liquidator. The latter will contact you in order to proceed with your dismissals on the one hand, and to request payment, by the wage guarantee agency, of your wages due on the other.
    • I wanted to inform you of this.
    • Kind regards,
    • Arnaud Charpentier
  • The Board Game Strategist bought Pig from Hell Games a few years ago, back when it was still called Devil Pig Games and was in financial difficulties.
  • The team at Pig from Hell Games have spoken to Boardgamewire about what’s happened and also posted on Boardgamegeek. 
  • From the Boardgamegeek post by the team of Yann Uhart, Clement Seurat, and Jules Kanou.
    • We can only imagine the “courage” it took for him to tell us in this way, with such humanity and compassion… Not to mention the lack of respect for the community he showed by not communicating with you about the situation.
    • Everything was done behind our backs, without keeping us informed.
    • But we weren’t surprised. Opacity and lies have been his way of running this company from the start. 
  • In a statement on Boardgamegeek, Clement says that Arnaud had shared concerns about the financial health of the company even going so far as to persuade Clement to get another member of staff to resign to ease the burden on the company. Instead Clement terminated his own contract till the end of November this year, while continuing to work on Heroes of the Pacific, the most recent Kickstarter the team had funded. That campaign had raised 147,098 euros. 
  • His co-designer Yann was then fired and is now in the process of suing the business. 
  • The statement goes on to say
    • With these three salaries saved, it seemed to us that the company’s financial situation would allow the delivery of Heroes of the Pacific and a light follow-up of the ranges. That’s why Jules and Clem didn’t slam the door and kept on working, encouraged by Arnaud, to deliver the files on time, which they managed to do at the end of the summer, just one month behind schedule.
    • Once this task had been completed, Arnaud insisted that we start preparing a Kickstarter campaign for Heroes of Stalingrad V.2. It was also decided that we should simultaneously carry out graphics and editing work for a 3rd party game, published by Matagot. This situation lasted throughout September.
    • Arnaud then asked us to stop working on Heroes of Stalingrad, and on September 29, 2023, he announced that Pig From Hell’s credit card had been hacked. He told us no more, but a few days later, the Pledge Manager was shut down without warning.
  • It goes on to detail the team discovering that orders on the Pigs from Hell Games website were no longer being fulfilled and were told by the company responsible for deliveries that they had been instructed to not deliver Pig from Hell Games. Orders were still being taken by the website and they do not know if those will be honoured. 
  • The website closed its doors on the 11th, again without any warning to the team. A message was posted in its place without the team’s consent. It said

“ Devil Pig Games is facing serious difficulties due to recent unforeseen and brutal events beyond our control. We are making every effort to find a long-term solution, but until this has been fixed we are stopping all operations. As soon as these troubles cease we will resume our activity and inform you”

  • When they asked Arnaud for more information he informed them that
    • “I can’t tell you anything before October 26th. By the way, can you deliver the files for that 3rd party game?”
  • The team refused and the saga seemed to come to an end with the email we read to you at the top of this piece.

Essen Hacked

  • Thanks to Giles Bennett from our Discord for bringing this to our attention. 
  • Messe Essen, the company that owns and runs the Essen convention centre has recently been hacked. The Essen convention centre is where the Spiel Essen fair, the largest boardgame convention in the world, takes place every year.
  • They sent the following out in an email to customers who have previously used the company’s website to buy tickets to events in the centre.
    • Unfortunately, Messe Essen has become the target of a hacker attack. So far unknown perpetrators penetrated our visitor ticket system and possibly attempted to carry out a so-called ransomware attack. The immediate measures included the commissioning of a certified IT security service provider and cooperation with investigative and data protection authorities. Despite these immediately taken protective measures, according to current knowledge, address and email data (no invoice or credit card details) of customers who have made purchases in our online shop could still be affected. We are working at full speed to investigate the exact circumstances, but can assure you that visitor tickets already purchased online for one of our upcoming fairs will remain valid in any case. We very much regret the circumstances and thank you for your understanding.
  • We did reach out for a comment from Messe Essen asking them about what steps they would be taking to prevent such occurrences in the future. At the time of recording we have not heard back from them. 

Tabletop Game Designers Association

  • Over the time Brainwaves has been around, we have touched many times on organisations of game designers across the world. They exist to guide new and seasoned designers through the potential legal minefield of signing games, publication, publisher relations and more. 
  • There are organisations in France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand with different levels of official status and the kind of support they provide. 
  • Now there is a move to start something in the United States called the Tabletop Game Designers Association. 
  • The three founding members of the association are
    • Elizabeth Hargrave: Designer of WIngspan, Fox Experiment, and the currently crowdfunding Undergrove
    • Sen Foong-Lim: co-designer of Mind Mgmt, and Jiangashi: Blood in the Banquet Hall and psychology teacher. 
    • Geoff Engelstein: co-founder of the Ludology podcast, designer of The Expanse board game, Space Cadets, and Super Pinball Arcade. 
  • The organisation introduces itself like this on its page
    • TTGDA is a new organization dedicated to supporting Tabletop Game Designers. As the tabletop game industry grows, and the number of designers, both independent and within publishers, skyrockets, the need for support has grown.
    • Launching in Q1 2024, TTGDA will support designers of all types of tabletop games, including board games, role playing games, card games, miniature games, and others, whether mass market, specialty, or hobby.
  • The organisation will be built on 3 pillars: Advocacy, Professional Development, and Community. 
  • At launch it will offer Contract Reviews, Advocacy and Dispute Mediation with Publishers, a Newsletter with Industry Updates.  and Model Contracts. Model Contracts are pre-prepared contracts that contain standard terms and conditions for specific contractual relationships, 
  • As the organisation grows it hopes to offer more services including discounts to conferences and peer mentoring. 


Handiwork Games theft update

  • Back in episode 129 we reported that Handiwork Games, a Scottish publisher of tabletop RPGs, had been the victim of a theft of close to $25000 worth of stock from the US shipment for one of their titles. 
  • Handiwork have recently put out a post laying out the whole story and it is quite the tale with some real heroes to be celebrated amongst the incredible stress and troubles that the Handiwork Games team endured. 
  • Give it a read for the full story but I would just like to quote from the last paragraph of this as it includes some shoutouts to people who need recognised for their hardwork in helping the team out.
    • I can’t fault anyone in the US who is wary of backing us again after such a long wait for Twin Seas. But we never gave up, and I’m very grateful to the people who have not given up on us. And huge thanks to Jamie at GMS Logistics (who was brilliant throughout), Mark at Nightfall, and Chitin at Last Mile: we’ve made it to a place where we can go back to Kickstarter and ask for the support we need to mend our damaged ship and push forward to the next adventure

Wizards of the Coast TV Channel

  • We covered the creation of the Wizards of the Coast TV Channel, D&D Adventures. At the time we didn’t know how viewers would access this channel. It has recently been announced that you will be able to watch it on Freevee and Plex. Both of these platforms will use marketing as part of their funding with an ad break about every 20 – 30 minutes. 


Othello solved

  • In a paper dated 30 October 2023, Hiroki Takizawa announces that the game of Othello, one of the world’s most complex abstract strategy games, has been solved – computationally that is. That means there is no proof that when both players play a perfect game, meaning neither of them makes any mistakes, Othello will always end in a draw. This proof has been eluding computer science for a long time, because Othello has around ten octillion (that is 10 to the 28th power, or a 1 with 28 zeros after it) game positions.
  • The paper says that it weakly solved Othello for a 8×8 grid, which means we now not only understand the value of the initial position of the game but can also develop a winning strategy with reasonable computational resources. So while traditional Othello software has used heuristics to play the game, solving the game now allows new software to play it perfectly.
  • The paper describes the method used to solve Othello, several findings as results and implications of the research. The raw data and programs to reproduce the results are available on GitHub, Zenodo and figshare. The paper itself is available on the Cornell University website as a PDF download and we have put a link to it into our show notes.

John Wick out of Chaosium

  • A recent update to the 7th sea 2nd edition Kickstarter made this announcement about the ongoing involvement of the lead designer and creative director for the game, John Wick. No not the film assassin, but the game designer.
    • John Wick recently posted on social media that he is no longer with Chaosium. That is correct. We agreed with John that he could make an announcement about his departure at a time of his own choosing, which he has now done. Everyone here at Chaosium wishes John well.
    • As per previous Kickstarter updates, Chaosium remains focussed on getting the two 7th Sea Kickstarters (7th Sea 2nd Edition and 7th Sea: Khitai) rewards shipped to backers. Mike Curry remains with the company, and we are evaluating our options about how to best proceed with the 7th Sea line after the Kickstarter fulfilment is completed.
  • John Wick came to the tabletop world’s attention during the height of Legend of the Five Rings popularity in the 1990s, being employed at AEG to make the well regarded RPG of that property. While at that company he was also the lead designer on the 7th sea RPG, a game set in a sort of alternative Europe full of swashbuckling, magic, and pirates. 
  • 7th Sea Second Edition funded back in march of 2016 and had loads of stretch goals, some of which remain unfulfilled at this time. 

Lin Codega and others fired from G/O Media

  • Lin Codega, who appeared on the cast at the start of the year as they had covered the OGL controversy is looking for a new job. 
  • They were one of 23 people who were fired across the G/O media portfolio a couple of days ago. 
  • If you are looking for one of the best writers we have read this year on gaming and pop culture then please get in touch with Lin.
  •  We will put links to their social media accounts in the show notes. 

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Sir Meeple


Gaelic Scrabble

  • Jamie couldn’t be with us tonight but I know he would want us to cover the latest addition to the Scrabble cannon. Scottish Gaelic is coming to the world-renowned word game. 
  • Although Gaelic is not widely spoken in Scotland, there are many efforts to keep the language alive. You can even learn it on language app Duolingo. 
  • Director of the non-profit organisation An Taigh Ceildih, Dr Tearlach Wilson, spoke to Scottish newspaper the National about how excited they are for the game’s release.
    • “I enjoy playing Scrabble and I have wanted to play Gaelic Scrabble for a long time. Because of the popularity of the game, I think it will give the language a much-needed boost.
    • “It will also be a welcome addition to our wee gift shop in the Gaelic café, and I think that will really help with our revenue and social impact.”
  • The game will be available from the organisations website at the start of December. 

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Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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