It’s been a while, but I’m back with all the latest board game news for this weeks Tabletop Tales feature. As we missed out March, we have a whole heap of exciting announcements to cover in a bumper edition of the most dicey column on the quite sublime That’s Not Current!
We will kick off April’s news with Gloomhaven, the legacy adventure and Euro-inspired tactical combat game that has surged to eighth spot on Boardgamegeek.com‘s overall game list following fulfilment of it’s very successful Kickstarter camping – which is pretty massive considering it’s relative newness and limited copies in circulation. Well due to massive demand, it is getting a 2nd printing and is back on Kickstarter right now if you want to check it out. Even with the hefty $99 price tag, it is shaping up as a must own that could make a serious claim for Pandemic Legacy‘s throne! Designer Isaac Childres is also hard at work on prequel Founders of Gloomhaven, which is a very different game set in the same universe and due to hit crowd-funding in the Summer.
Cool Mini or Not have appointed legendary board game designer Eric M. Lang as Director of Game Design, and the first release under this new formal partnership will be The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire which has been given a release date of 28th July. This “thugs on a board” confrontational worker placement game from Lang is sure to be another hit for both him and his new employers, and I for one can’t wait to get hands on! I did score 5 TITTIES in my 2017 preview afterall!
Staying with CMON, they have recently announced plans for a miniatures game set in the world of Game of Thrones. Based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire novels rather than the TV show they also inspired, it will see players assume control of one of the great houses of Westeros and battle it out for the Iron Throne. The first instalment will be Starks vs Lannisters and it will be hitting Kickstarter later this year.
IELLO are one of my favourite publishers about, simply for their wonderful art style and first class components. They have just announced more details for the upcoming Arena: For the Gods! from Maxime Rambourg, that shall be hitting retail on June 14th. This game present a epic dice rolling duel between two all powerful, mythical gods. If it is on the same level as IELLO’s sublime King of Tokyo, then we are surely onto a winner!
IDW Games had some very exciting news to share in early March when they announced a partnership with retro video gaming giant Atari to bring some truly iconic video games to the table. With Dead of Winter co-designer Jon Gilmour at the helm of the project, the plan will be to release games that captures the vibe and feel of its fun-filled source. Starting with Centipede later this year, development is also well under way for Asteroids and Missile Command as well.
Staying with cross platform franchises, Prodos Games 2015 release Alien vs Predator: The Hunt Begins has seen a second edition hit retail. The wargame mash-up pits three players against each other in a battle of wits and survival, one controlling the Xeonomorphs, one player the Predators and the other the cannon-fodder of the humans. Originally brought to life by a successful crowd-funding campaign, the second edition has improvements, updated rules and new miniatures. However, the key point is the RRP has come down a fair chunk from £75 to £49 in the UK (and $120 to $60 in the US).
Arcane Wonders Sheriff of Nottingham was the first game to be branded under the Dice Tower Essentials Line of games – a seal of approval if you like from respected reviewer Tom Vasel. And now this humours bluffing game is getting its first expansion, in the form of Merry Men. It boosts the player count and brings in some variations on the rules, new modules and different game modes. It promises to breath new life into a beloved card-driven party game, and its one I’m excited to get hands on. Expected to hit retail in August.
Kickstarter is quickly establishing itself as the number one outlet for new board games, and there is a lot of news from the crowd-funding platform this month to take note of:
Since the last news, we have had both the Rising Sun and The Terminator: The Game campaigns, and both smashed their funding goals as predicted . Despite having a pledge level of $80, Space Goat Productions The Terminator persuaded 2126 people to back the project. However, that is small potatoes compared to Eric Lang’s Rising Sun which scooped a cool $4.2million with 31,262 backers. Both promise to be massive hits when they are fulfilled in 2018.
As well as the 2nd print of Gloomhaven mentioned earlier, other well performing projects the past month have included 878 Viking – Invasion of England which is a 2-4 player area control war game focussing on the historic first Viking invasion of England. The games mechanics seem perfectly balanced to provide multiple paths to victory for both armies, and the components and theme really look the part. Worth keeping an eye on.
Rise to Nobility from Final Frontier Games is a city building, economic game set in a fantasy world – and looks gorgeous. Over 700% funded despite having three weeks left on the campaign, it will not doubt secure some tasty stretch goals. It features a great dice rolling/worker placement mechanic driven by a reputation track that is already being hyped up as something truly special. Check it out.
Maximum Apocalypse is another project that has caught my attention. Running until the 5th May, the game has already reached it’s target and is now into stretch goal territory. It is set in an zombie infested post-apocalyptic world where the goal of the game is surviving. As a rogue-like co-op survival game for 1-6 players that features hand management and pick-up-and-deliver mechanics, it is played on a modular board that allows for a different world for each game. Great art style as well, and with pledges from $45 including UK/US delivery, its worth a look.
There’s also a few interesting campaigns on the horizon this coming month. Here’s a few to mark in your diary:
Dead Man’s Doublooms is a pirated themed push-your-luck area control game for 2-5 players which launches on 11th April. I’m a sucker for a decent pirate themed game and this definitely looks the part, offering what promises to be engaging tabletop sea battles.
Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce turns the parody levels up to 11 in a co-op area movement game played out on a modular boards with some truly wonderful miniatures. Enriched with an enthralling 50’s cult sci-fi theme, it allows 2-6 players to play as prisoners held in a secret Area 51-esque base run by the government and their alien allies. It has piqued all kinds of interest in me and think this could definitely be something very special indeed! Landing on Kickstarter on the 15th April.
And it’s not the only sci-fi retro fest campaign to appear this April, as IDW Games will bring 30’s sci-fi tribute Rayguns and Rocketships to the crowd funding platform on the 19th April. This is a dice driven miniature combat game for 2-4 players. As the picture demonstrates, it just looks utterly scrumptious and surely it will be off interest to any sci-fi game geeks out there.
Much lauded economic strategy title Brass is getting a new incarnation, with a Kickstarter campaign for both Brass: Lancashire and Brass: Birmingham. Brass follows the fortunes of competing cotton entrepreneurs during the industrial revolution. Using hand management and network building mechanics, the original version from 2007 finds itself in the overall number 26 spot on Boardgamegeek and this new and improved implementation promises to be a roaring success. Check it out from 17th April.
And Brass isn’t the only legendary board game getting a reprint this April. The classic 1996 war-game Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage is getting a 20th Anniversary Edition and this project goes live on 19th April. This promises to be very solid polishing of one of the greatest two player games of all time, focussed around Hannibal Barca’s famous assault of the Roman Empire. Heavy on the strategy, rich in theme and history, this is another massive campaign for April 2017.
Finally, the very successful One Deck Dungeon has been one of the big hits from successful 2016 campaigns and the first stand alone expansion will be launching on the 25th April, with One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows. It is a card and dice driven dungeon crawler tailored for two players or solo play where players must upgrade their heroes in order to defeat the dungeon. With huge scope for variation and replay-ability, Forest of Shadows stacks with the original or plays on its own. Multiple copies increases the player limit by two. A truly igneous title, and this offers the perfect addition to the base game or the opportunity to jump on the band wagon.
The International Games Festival 2017 was recently held in Cannes where the prestigious As d’Or (Golden Ace) Awards are handed out. This years big winner was Unlock, a mobile app driven escape-the-room game. The award for expert title went to the worker placement juggernaut Scythe, while the Kerplunk-esque dexterity game Go Cuckoo! took top prize in the kids category. Securing an award for any game is always a massive boost commercially to the title, so good news for all three. Check them out.
Ars Technica published a fascinating story in March that revealed that the CIA use custom designed board games to train their employees. In what is another amazing statement of support for the merits of modern tabletop gaming, the games used seem to have a definitive resemblance to existing games, such as Pandemic. Check out the article, it is a fascinating read.
A recent Kickstarter campaign alerted me to a new company in town, Restoration Games. The brainchild of lawyer Justin Jacobsen, legacy-system maestro Rob Daviau and graphic designer Jason Taylor; the team have one of the most noble quests around. They are looking to take long forgotten games, bring them up to modern times and give them a second lease of life. Parker Brothers classic 1979 title Stop Thief was their first successful project, but there is more in the pipelines. 1974’s racing game Tempo (rebranded Top Race in the 90’s) is in the works, now know as Downforce. And a trick taking card game with it’s origins in the 1930’s, Barbu, is also being resurrected as Indulgence. Its a fascinating crusade and I look forward to seeing how modernising these games works and what other titles may get another go thanks to their work.
To round off this months news, and speaking of Rob Daviau, I have FINALLY got round to Seafall, the built-from-the-ground-up legacy game set in the age of sail. Upon release many of the reviewers and critics I respect were very much underwhelmed by the game, which somewhat shattered the ridiculous level of hype I had placed on the game following my experience with Risk: Legacy and Pandemic: Legacy, as mentioned in my feature on the system back in August last year.
However, it never put me off, only delayed my acquisition of the game and last weekend my regular game group sat down with it, to determine our own opinions. We played through the prologue and first two games, and I can safely say it is absolutely mesmerising. Complex, engaging, fascinating, strategic, thematically solid and simply an utter masterpiece of board game design. Sure, we are only at the beginning of our journey and my thoughts may change, but my group and I are all consumed by what could quite possibly be the greatest tabletop gaming experience we ever have and we journey into the unknown of the games world and lore. Can’t wait until it is on the table again, and bewildered at the percentage of negative press it has attracted.
NEXT WEEK: I will be reviewing a game that does exactly what it says on the box…plays in as little as five minutes!