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News, articles, and reviews by our editors and other contributors.

Z-Man Games releases new games just in time for Christmas, Casual Game Insider is reviewed by Today in Board Games, and several new games are looked at.

The inhabitants of the villages surrounding a dormant volcano were happily living in peace until — KABOOM! — the old volcano sprung back to life, unleashing rivers of molten lava in every direction and blasting volcanic rock into the sky. The villages, now faced with destruction, must do whatever they can to protect their homes from the incoming surge of lava. Your village is about to burn up — can you take the heat?

Here is a list of our favorite crowdfunding projects for December 2013. This month, we're seeing evidence of the growing trend of microgames, a subset of casual games that are intended to be as portable as possible while still maintaining fun and challenging gameplay. There are also several other casual games of a wide variety of themes that seem to be worth checking out.

Stronghold Games is having a December sale, Smash Monster Rampage is available for pre-order, and new "best board game" lists have been released by multiple sources.

A two-way interview between us (Chris and Melanie James of Stratus Games) and Rob Bartel, founder of Famous Games Co., about the history of our companies, the characteristics and importance of casual games, our future production plans, our game design and publishing processes, and much more.

When I think about what “casual” means, I usually envision a T-shirt with some silly pop-culture phrase emblazoned on the front or a nice family restaurant where little geeks standing up on the chairs is considered standard practice. When we consider the term in the context of games, things start to get a little cloudy. The opposite of “casual” is “formal”, but this makes zero sense in the world of tabletop games. You don’t, for example, play games formally, in business attire, in a corporate jet. Although, that would be pretty cool.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a delightfully devious game from Stronghold Games in which the goal is to move your survivors from the sinking island of Atlantis to solid ground located at each corner of the board. Each piece has a hidden point value that players do their best to memorize so they can prioritize their moves and maximize their scores, since only a few of the survivors will make it to safety.

Steve Jackson Games has a well established pedigree in the role-playing game market and Zombie Dice is a nice departure from the stat heavy books of their GURPS line.

Fill the Barn is a farming game by a newcomer to the industry, HoopCAT Games. Players attempt to earn the most money by planting and harvesting different crops that are stacked inside the barn. Space is limited, however, and the earlier the harvest, the more money will be earned.

Hooyah, by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., is a card game in which 1 to 4 players cooperate to complete a Navy SEAL mission. Along the way, players must prepare for and carry out several ops leading up to the final step of the mission. Random events occur during each op that can destroy health and provisions, so careful planning is a must. The number of turns available during each op is also limited, causing players to lose health if planning goes on for too long.

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