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Calliope Games 2020 in Review

Welcome to 2021! Now nobody make any sudden moves! Seriously, in spite of 2020’s notorious difficulties and setbacks, there was still a lot that we accomplished, and a lot to be grateful for. Before we look to the future, we wanted to take a moment to look back on the year and some of our highlights. Even though we missed out on our favorite conventions, on seeing each other in person (Calliope Games’ team members work remotely in both the US and the UK), and most importantly, on playing games with each other, we still got to make new memories and learn new skills. And that’s something to be proud of!

In February we attended our first and only convention in 2020: New York Toy Fair! We had a wonderful time showcasing some Calliope favorites, and debuting Tsuro Phoenix Rising to the retail world. We even gave a sneak peek of Mass Transit, which got a shoutout in Forbes Magazine!

In March we welcomed Risa to the team as our new Social Jockey, and she was off to the races! We’re sure you folks have noticed an increase in blog posts and our social media presence since she joined the team (she is also currently pretending that she’s not the one writing this blog post.) Then in April we expanded the team again with the addition of Ken as our Senior Yeoman. Ken already had a wonderful history with Calliope Games as the designer of The Manksy Caper, and we were thrilled to bring him onto our team.

As we focused on staying home, and putting our plans for conventions on hold, we turned our attention to gaming with the immediately family, as well as online and remote gaming with friends we couldn’t see in person. We recommended movie and a game night, ran a contest for gaming at home, and set forth into the world of Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia! Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks, and our entire team took to the challenge like a duck to water. Ken worked tirelessly to adapt several Calliope titles to Tabletop Simulator, and soon we were not only playing games together online, we were also streaming. Which brings us to…

In the beginning of August we participated in Gamers Engaged for Food Lifeline with Mox Boarding House. We streamed for 12 hours on the brand-new Team Calliope Games Twitch channel, played 14 games, and raised $2,100 for Food Lifeline. That’s 10,500 meals for folks struggling with food insecurity. We gave away board games and swag, we raised awareness, and we had a wonderful time. We are so grateful to the Calliope Games community for joining us, hanging out during the day, and donating to such an excellent event.

The tail end of the year was our busiest yet. October saw the release of Station Master, which has been finding its place on more and more folks’ game shelves. We sponsored the Design Your Own Trivia Game Challenge with Legends of Learning, where students in schools across the country created their own board games. And in November we launched a highly ambitious Kickstarter comprising of not one but three new games! We brought Mass TransitEnchanted Plumes, and Allegory out to play, and used all of our newly acquired resources to make sure everyone had a seat at the table even without conventions to demo. 

For the very first time we had games available on Tabletop Simulator for folks to try out before backing. We had the games being played in livestreams, both in physical and virtual form. And 679 backers decided to make the Calliope Game Night Extravaganza a part of their gaming collection. Production has already begun on all three games and we can’t wait to get them onto game shelves in 2021!

So there’s the short (well, as short as we can make it) and sweet of Calliope Games 2020. We have some exciting plans for 2021, and a few things still to be determined. One thing we know for sure, we’re glad you’re along for the ride with us. Happy 2021 everybody!

Calliope Games You Can Play Remotely

With the holiday season being… for lack of a more original word, unprecedented, it’s not exactly easy to gather around a table and play games with the family the way you usually would. And that can be disappointing! I know it is for me; I have a handful of new game suggestions that I want to share with my father who loves lightweight games, but we have no plans to see each other in person for a bit. It’s okay to feel that sting. But the great thing about gamers is we know how to solve a puzzle. 

Calliope’s entire mission has been about gathering folks around a table to create lasting memories. So what do we do when we can’t gather around a table? In the illustrious words of Ross Gellar, we PIVOT! Between Zoom, FaceTime, Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia, apps etc., it’s really become easier than ever to play games remotely. And we want to share with you the best Calliope games to play remotely with your family to create some brand-new memories.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Tsuro has an award-winning app from Thunderbox Entertainment that plays up to 8 people and is available on Android, Apple, Steam and more. It gives you the full Tsuro experience, and can be played all at once or turn by turn (perfect for when you need a quick break from mashing potatoes for the very first time).

If you have just one person Skype-ing in, you can actually play Tsuro with the physical copy! Prop that one player’s tiles up so only their camera can see them, and make sure they have a clear view of the board. They’ll tell you which tile they want and in which orientation. I’ve played this way several times, and the laughter induced from the, “no not your left, my left!” interactions add a whole other level of fun.

Roll for It!

Roll for It! also has an excellent app from Thunderbox Entertainment that allows you to play the Red or Purple edition, and has a bunch of different dice that you can’t get in the physical version. You shake your phone to roll the dice, and the game plays exactly the same as the physical version.

Don’t want to play on an app? You could play with just one copy of the game and an impartial roller such as a dice tower, and let the players tell you where they want their dice allocated. Insistent on rolling your own dice and happen to have your own copy? Find the matching cards you’re trying to roll for, and roll your own dice! This game probably has the most versatility for playing remotely, so if you have another suggestion, let us know!

Hive Mind

Hive Mind is Calliope’s contribution to trivia and party games! Designed by Richard Garfield (of Magic the Gathering and King of Tokyo fame), in this game you’re not trying to find the best, funniest, or most correct answer, you’re trying to come up with the answer that the most people playing will also have given. So if the question is “Name 3 flavors of popsicle,” it doesn’t matter that “blue” isn’t a flavor, it’s a color; as long as you know other people playing will also give the answer “blue,” you’re going to get points. Hive Mind is our easiest game to play over Zoom with just one person having a physical copy, and it also plays the most players, with up to 12 people playing. Have more than 12 people? Play in teams! Or grab extra meeples from a different game and add more players. The more, the merrier!

Dicey Peaks/The Mansky Caper

As we learned this summer during our 12-hour streaming marathon raising money for Food Lifeline, both Dicey Peaks and The Mansky Caper are very easily playable remotely as long as one person has a copy of the game, and a camera good enough for people to clearly see the board. The person with the game will also act as everyone’s hands, moving dice, pawns, and tokens wherever the players decide; but all of the gameplay decisions are made entirely by the players. As far as The Manksy Caper is concerned, it’s almost like Big Al himself is pulling the strings!

Allegory/Mass Transit/Enchanted Plumes

These three games are the newest in the Calliope lineup, in fact they’re currently being funded on Kickstarter! Until December 11th, you can play all three of these games for free on Tabletop Simulator and they each play up to 6 players. Looking for a cooperative or even solo game? Give Mass Transit a try! Know some people who love poker and bidding, and want to show them the art of set collection? Time to try Allegory. Want to see some truly beautiful card art within a potentially cutthroat game? Check out Enchanted Plumes

The truly wonderful thing about having these games on a digital platform is being able to play with people you’d never be able to get at a table at the same time. We’ve had the chance to play with designers and friends to create some fantastic moments that never would have been possible otherwise. We highly encourage you to do the same.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours! And if you get the chance to play some of these games in any capacity, make sure to tag us. We love seeing those memories getting made. 

The Calliope Game Night Extravaganza Spotlight: Enchanted Plumes

In Enchanted Plumes, players strive to complete magical Peacocks by assembling plumes in sparkling rows from top to bottom, using multiple colors of Feather cards while matching cards of the same color from row to row. The player with the most valuable plumes wins the game and is bestowed with the luck of the Peacock!

Designed by Brendan Hansen, Enchanted Plumes is one part set collection, one part press your luck, and a little bit of everything in between. Anyone walking by who sees this game on the table knows immediately what is happening: players are creating triangular rows of peacock plumes using like colors and trying to maximize the point values of the cards they play. But there is so much more to the game than that! 

Players are swapping cards in and out of a shared pool called the Train, possibly giving their opponents a chance at a vital card. They need to be mindful of what color plumes other players are using in case they run out of that color for their own peacocks. And then there’s the strategy involved in building the triangular rows! The first row you make will count negatively towards your score no matter how long you choose to make it; but the bigger the first row, the more subsequent rows of positive points you can make. You can make as many peacocks as you’d like, and you can make the rows as big or as small as you’d like. So many choices!

Enchanted Plumes Rapid Rundown:

Enchanted Plumes plays with 2-6 players in about 30 minutes. Your goal is to attract the attention of the Peahen by having the most sparkling and enchanting plumes of all the Peacocks in the land. To do that, you’ll need the most victory points. To do that, you’ll need to be strategic as you play plume cards triangularly. 

Setup:

Players begin by setting aside the Peahen card, and then shuffling and dealing 9 cards to each player. Each player will choose the 6 cards they would like to start with, and return the discarded 3 to the deck. The deck is reshuffled, and players will shuffle the Peahen card into the last eight cards of the game; once the Peahen appears the game is over, and scoring begins. The number of cards you use in the game will vary depending on player count (removing the 7’s, 8’s, and/or 9’s for lower player numbers).

Flip and place the top five cards of the deck in a line extending to the right of the deck; this lineup is called the Train. 

Playing the Game: 

On your turn you will do two actions: 

1. Play one or two cards either to start a new plume or add to one of your existing plumes; the cards may be used together in the same plume or split up among different plumes.

2. Replenish your hand in one of three ways:
(a) Draw two cards from the Feather deck
(b) Swap two cards from your hand with two cards from the Train
(c) In either order, draw one card from the Feather deck and swap one card from your hand with one card from the Train 

Building Plumes:

Every turn as you play your one or two cards, you’ll be building rows of plumes. Cards that are placed on the top row will be scored as negative points, while cards played in lower rows will count positively. As you descend down the rows you can only use colors that have been previously used. So if a row has three cards: the blue, yellow, and red feathers, the next row will only have 2 cards, and they may only contain those colors. Once a lower row of cards is started in a plume, Feather cards can no longer be added to higher rows in that plume. You can always begin a new set of plumes before finishing a current one, and you can have as many sets as you like. 

Once you get down to the final row, which will hold only one card, you will play that card face down. This obscures your point value of that card, allows you to collect bonus points at the end of the game, and creates a beautiful peacock! The final card does have to follow the color constraints of your plumes.

Attracting the Peahen:

When a player draws the Peahen from within the final 8 cards of the deck, play immediately ends and scoring begins. The top row of each set scores negative points, and all subsequent rows score positive points. If you have completed any peacocks, flip over the last card and add it to your score. Completed peacocks also score 1 bonus point for each card used to build them. Incomplete Peacocks do not score bonus points. 

The player with the highest score is the most enchanting peacock of them all, and is allowed to strut around as they please. 


Enchanted Plumes is coming to Kickstarter as part of The Calliope Game Night Extravaganza! on November 10th, 2020. You’ll be able to get 3 fantastic card games that scratch three different itches, and together make for one incredible game night. You can check out the Kickstarter page here to be notified when the campaign is live, and if you want to talk more Enchanted Plumes you can follow the game on Board Game Geek.

Introducing the Calliope Game Night Extravaganza!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/calliopegamenight/the-calliope-game-night-extravaganza

Calliope Games is thrilled to announce The Calliope Game Night Extravaganza!  A Trio of games that takes you by feather, rail, and epic tale! Celebrate an evening packed with excitement and fun challenges for all!  During your game night, you’ll build peacock plumes of vivid colors!  You’ll cooperate to construct a transit system and deliver commuters home.  And in tales of epic lore, you’ll bid to win, but may lose if you do!

The Calliope Game Night Extravaganza! launches on November 10th and includes three amazing new card games: AllegoryEnchanted Plumes, and Mass Transit.  Each game is small enough to take anywhere! Bidding, set collection, cooperation, and hidden objectives! There is something for everyone – and every game night – in the Calliope Game Night Extravaganza! 

HIGHLIGHTS: 

  • A Whole Game Night In One Bundle!  All the games take less than an hour to play.
  • Easy To Teach And Play! The games entertain from one to six players ages 8 and up.
  • Unique New Card Games! Bidding, set collection, cooperation… there’s something for everyone!
  • Unbelievable Value! Get Allegory, Mass Transit, and Enchanted Plumes for only $40 USD when you pledge for all three games.

  • Unique twist on auction/ bidding games
  • Rich and striking artwork
  • 2-6 players, 30-50 minutes

An allegory tells a captivating story while hiding a deeper, meaningful moral underneath. In the game of Allegory, you’ll compete with others as renowned authors, each scribing a trilogy of Tales: Nature, Energy, and Spirit. Master the use of Lore to incorporate powerful Themes into your Tales. At the end, you will be rewarded for weaving a hidden Moral throughout all of your Tales—but only the most concise Tale shall become a literary classic for the ages!


  • Collect and play cards to build peacock plumes
  • Skillful decisions lead to big scores
  • 2-6 players, 30 minutes

In Enchanted Plumes, players strive to complete magical Peacocks by assembling plumes in sparkling rows from top to bottom, using multiple colors of Feather cards while matching cards of the same color from row to row. The player with the most valuable plumes wins the game and is bestowed with the luck of the Peacock!


  • Cooperative transportation game
  • Limited communication provides fun strategy
  • 1-6 players, 20 minutes

It’s quittin’ time in the Big City, and rush hour is about to begin! It’s up to you and your team of urban planners to get all these Commuters home to their families. You will need to skillfully work together to construct transit routes out to the Suburbs, but City Hall bureaucracy limits how much you can help each other! If you can manage the red tape, and your team works like a well-oiled machine in getting everyone home, you will ALL succeed at Mass Transit!


The Calliope Game Night Extravaganza will be going live on Kickstarter on November 10th, 2020. Be sure to click to get notified when it goes live: https://bit.ly/CalliopeGameNightKSPage

And if you would like to be included in the Kickstarter email list for first looks and early access, you can sign up here: https://bit.ly/CalliopeKickstarterSignup