Rumours of the demise of Tabletop Tales have been greatly exaggerated!
The past few months have been hellishly hectic beyond belief for me, with a house move, holidays, upheaval at work and a lack of internet that has combined to allow very little time for playing board games, never mind writing about them! But normal service has resumed and I’m delighted to be back with my little slice of board game love here at That’s Not Current, a year on from my very first column on this awesome corner of the web.
To get us back up and running, let’s focus on a run-down of some of the top tabletop news from the past few months…and there is a helluva lot to cover, so bear with me…
Kicking us off with our news round-up, we now have some more details about Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, the follow up to the smash hit co-op legacy game from Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock. This time round gameplay evolves from trying to fight off viruses to now trying to supply and re-establish cities throughout the ravaged world. As with all legacy games, the game experience will change, twisting and turning into the unknown, opening up sealed boxes, altering the rules and repositioning the objective as you progress. The synopsis for the game sets the scene perfectly:
The world almost ended 71 years ago…
The plague came out of nowhere and ravaged the world. Most died within a week. Nothing could stop it. The world did its best. It wasn’t good enough.
For three generations, we, the last fragments of humanity have lived on the seas, on floating stations called “havens.” Far from the plague, we are able to provide supplies to the mainland to keep them (and us) from succumbing completely.
We’ve managed to keep a network of the largest known cities in the world alive. Things have been tough the past few years. Cities far away from the havens have fallen off our grid…
Tomorrow, a small group of us head out into what’s left of the world. We don’t know what we’ll find.
Shut up and take my money! Launching later in 2017…this is going to be massive.
And it’s not the only legacy game to provide details over the past few months. We now know a lot more about Charterstone, a medieval city building game from Stonemaier Games and designer Jamey Stegmaier, the creator of last years smash hit Scythe. Up to 6 players compete to populate a village, placing building stickers directly on the board. With over 75 sealed containers to open up through the journey of a dozen games, it will leave each group of players with a completely unique worker placement game upon completion of the story. That’s not all, should you wish to venture through the legacy system again, Charterstone offers a stand-alone “recharge pack” that will reset the game in order to let you play the legacy mechanic again. All sounds very promising, definitely one to check out when it arrives toward the end of the year. Here’s the promo video they released to whet your appetite a little further:
One of the most eye catching pieces of news to surface over the past few weeks is that of a fourth edition of the epic space opera Twilight Imperium, coming in the Autumn from Fantasy Flight Games. Regarded as one of the true behemoths of board gaming, Twilight Imperium is a truly massive 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) that promises that no two games will ever be the same, with the vast amount of options and variation seeing games last around four hours. While the game was originally released in 1997, the much lauded third edition came out in 2006. Now more than a decade on, this fourth edition will look to further refine the game, tweaking mechanics and balancing where required. With the third edition sitting in the top 50 on BoardGameGeeks overall rankings, this may have potential to break into the top ten. As a game I have never played, but one that has always fascinated me, this fourth edition will be a must own for me.
Fresh from their massively successful Dark Souls: The Game Kickstarter campaign (which you can read my take on here), Steamforged Games are also going to be bringing us a Dark Souls: The Card Game. Each player’s card deck provides various equipment, abilities and the means to defeat enemies, but also counts as the players health creating a very challenging balancing act in this co-op game for up to four players. Rich in a theme similar to its big brother, it will be intriguing to see if this can recreate the same vibe and difficulty of the iconic of video game franchise. Pre-orders are available until the 25th August at Steamforged website if you want to get your copy upon release in March 2018.
Another game publisher announcing a new game from a popular franchise they already hold the rights for is Gale Force Nine who are following up the quite special Firefly: The Board Game (my thoughts on it here) with Firefly Adventures: Brigands & Browncoats. As a co-op miniature skirmish game for up to five players, it promises to be a very different take on Josh Wheadon’s outstanding creation. Not only does it look quite superb, there are already plans afoot to expand the game with more miniatures of characters from the series. Given Gale Force Nine’s track record with licensed games (Spartacus being my number one game of all time and such), I’m really excited for another option to way to keep flying the ‘Verse.
Firefly and Dark Souls aren’t the only much-loved franchises to appear in board game news over the past few months. It’s been a very busy time for announcements on popular IP’s coming to the tabletop…
THE TABLETOP INVASION
Steamforged is going to be very busy indeed. Following on from a cryptic GenCon tease for a game called Trash Panda: Metropolis that many suspected to be a Resident Evil game, it has now been confirmed as Resident Evil 2 – The Board Game. Details are extremely thin on the ground just now, other than it will be coming to Kickstarter in Fall 2017. Given their previous work on Dark Souls games and with the Guild Ball series, it’s not a wild guess to assume that this will likely feature a miniature Leon Kennedy fighting his way through a city worth of miniature zombies and other Umbrella Corps creations. Watch this space.
As well as Gale Force Nine’s Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks imminent release, we are also being treated to a miniature Doctor Who game in the form of Warlord Games’ Doctor Who: Exterminate! The Miniatures Game, which is out now. The base game is labelled as Daleks vs Cybermen, but expansions galore are planned with an add-on set for Missy & The Cybermen and Davros & The Daleks already available. Doctor & companion packs are primed, along with planned sets for the Judoon, Zygons, Clockwork Droid and the Silence among others. Gameplay looks fine and all, but the real selling point is the outrageously detailed miniatures. A must have for all Whovians.
Kickstarter has recently gone crazy for a board game adaptation of Who Goes There?, the John W. Campbell Jr.’s 1938 book that inspired 80’s cult horror classic The Thing. Entitled Who Goes There?: A Game of Growing Paranoia, it is a semi-co-op game that is all about survival amidst plummeting temperatures and a rampant alien creature. Gather much needed supplies to let you build, trade and upgrade your way to survival. With over 6500 backers raising over $600,000, this looks very promising. While the campaign has now ended, you can still pre-order on the campaign page.
Sticking with Kickstarter, another cult classic of a film is getting its very own adaptation to the tabletop; Total Recall. Still, live on Kickstarter at the time writing this is a very different type of game than the predominantly miniature focussed nature of most licensed games these days. More in the vein of a party game, Total Recall: The Official Tabletop Game is a social deduction adventure for 4-8 players that is aiming to capture the schizophrenia of the 80’s Schwarzenegger blockbuster, with the goal of trying to determine who is a friend and who is foe, echoing the gameplay of The Resistance. Surprisingly, this has yet to hit its $20,000 funding which is disappointing given the wonderful recognisable design and such a refreshing mechanic for a licensed game. I hope it gets over the line in the remaining few weeks and predicts this could be a surprise hit when it is fulfilled next Summer. Pledge for your copy today from $26.
By the end of 2017, Fantasy Flight Games will be bringing a truly legendary video game series to board gaming with Fallout. Using Bethesda’s incarnations (Fallout 3, Fallout Vegas, Fallout 4) as the inspiration, the game promises a modular exploration of the wasteland, tasking up to four players with various familiar scenarios and quests from the games. Utilising the renowned S.P.E.C.I.A.L system along with many noticeable characters and locations from the series, I’m very much intrigued to get my hands on this to see how it translates. One thing is for sure, as you would expect from Fantasy Flight, the components and aesthetics of the game are really on point, with superb miniatures and a ’50s art style straight from the series.
And Fallout isn’t the only long standing video game franchise that has Fantasy Flight’s attention of late. A new game based on Sid Meier’s Civilization has been announced entitled Civilization: A New Dawn. Fantasy Flight last brought us a take on the popular simulation game back in 2010, but this is labelled as a completely new take on the franchise, streamlining the gameplay into a more condensed and accessible experience – both things that bogged down the 2010 version. The new art design is fresh, and this could be another huge seller for Fantasy Flight this Christmas.
Fresh from bringing Conan to the table, Monolith has now focussed their attention on to the caped crusader with Batman: The Board Game, which is scheduled to hit Kickstarter later in the year. While it was announced back in February, more details have emerged with it being confirmed as a straight re-packing of the very popular Conan, only set in Gotham. It will see a team of players control the Dark Knight and his sidekicks facing off against one player controlling an iconic villain and their minions in a miniature-driven area-control game, with objectives and missions set by a preselected scenario. All sounds very promising and may appeal to those not totally sold on the Conan theme.
IDW Games will be releasing a Planet of the Apes game based on the original run of films from the late 60’s. A series of games are planned to tie in with each film in the series, with the first set to arrive by October 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the franchise. From Arkham Horror designer Richard Launius, Planet of the Apes promises a new take on the co-op game with up to four players assuming different parts of Colonel George Taylor’s psyche and must navigate the apes’ planet and all they will face there.
Finally, with Game of Thrones being the hottest thing in the world right now, it’s no surprise that we are seeing a boom of games set in the Seven Kingdoms. A Song of Ice & Fire: A Miniatures Game from Cool Mini Or Not has just racked up over $1.4m dollars on Kickstarter, and we are starting to see a rush of licensed versions of classic games. While last few years we got the inevitable Game of Thrones Risk, Monopoly and Clue, we also got a re-imagining of Cosmic Encounter in the form of The Iron Throne and now Fantasy Flight will be giving us a Game of Thrones: Catan – Brotherhood of the Watch. While that might only whet the appetite of the most hardened of Game of Thrones enthusiast and casual gamers, for me it reflects the golden state of the industry that games such as Catan are getting the mass marketable licensed versions.
GAMES SO COOL THEY DESERVE THEIR OWN HEADING
Dice Forge was one of my most hyped games of the year (as the 5 TITTIES will testify from my 2017 preview) and I was over-joyed to finally get my copy last month. It is from one of my favourite publishers in Libellud, who have a real habit of making absolutely delicious games that are fun for all the family (such as the sublime Loony Quest). This game has customisable dice and it is…well…it is the subject for next weeks Tabletop Tales. Safe to say I like it, and it is very, very cool.
A game that caught my eye for just looking brilliantly bonkers is Gang Rush Breakout. It’s from publishers Ankama and CMON Ltd and is a gangster racing game that takes place on a included bridge, featuring a catchy tagline of “dash, crash and cash!” Set for release later this year, rules and reviews been put out there the past few weeks but just looking at the image below has me sold and there is something alluring about the fact that I haven’t really had a chance to read up on it as yet…and maybe I won’t until I get hands on to keep the awe alive!
A few Kickstarter campaigns to draw your attention to this week…
First up is Awful Fantasy Adventure, the second game from the folks behind Twitter’s very best source for the worst fantasy and science fiction. Following on from their successful Awful Fantasy The Card Game campaign, they return with a second helping of hilarious parody fuelled fantasy in the co-op card game. Each player controls a ridiculous hero who must venture off to explore the Awful Fantasy world and defeat all those that wish to bring it to ruin. Like its predecessor, the artwork is fantastic to look at and the humour is on point. The Card Game is great fun, and if this follow-up is anything like it at all then we are in for a winner. Pledges start at $25, and at time of writing they still had a bit to go to hit funding. So check it out!
Next, I want to draw your attention to Flippin’ Games Off the Rails, a strategic tile placement game for 2-4 players who have them control a team of gem-hungry goblins racing uncontrollable mine carts. The game looks really cool with lots of fantastic components, and with a pledge level starting at £30 including shipping, this is worth your attention. They are already funded and into the stretch goal territory.
I love a good dexterity game, and Rise of the Exiled from J&E Innovations looks like something really quite unique. At its heart it is a battle card game for up to a dozen players, with various weapon cards thrown over the table to land on your opponents hero card to inflict damage. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this before and think it will be a great fun-for-all game that anyone can pick up and play easily. At the time of writing they have a fair bit to go to hit funding, but I urge you to have a little look and with pledges from only $18 it could be a sound investment.
A charming little game has appeared from first-time designer Malachi Ray Rempen called Itchy Feet: The Travel Game, a hand management card game with a travel theme. Littered with humour, a really fun art style and very simple gameplay it’s labelled as a game made by travellers, for travellers. Yet, I’m not convinced it should be exclusively for them. Pledge $24 inclusive of shipping to get your copy in time for Christmas.
Finally, it’s third time lucky for designer Randal Marsh who has finally hit his funding target for the quite beautiful trick-taking area-control game Radiant. Set in the world of Perim, four races battle it out for control of the world using a deck of soldiers to form their armies and achieve victories that will lead them to glory. I absolutely adore the art style on this game, it reminds me of the Heroes of Might and Magic games – both visually and in terms of gameplay. I’m delighted it is finally achieving funding after backing the two previous failed attempts, and would urge you to go have a look. With pledges from $29 it is real bang for your buck as well.
Since the last Tabletop Tales, the coveted Spiel des Jahres awards have been bestowed, with Bruno Cathala’s Kingdomino taking the coveted Game of the Year award. When even a nomination for Spiel des Jahres can lead to a massive boost to retail sales of tens of thousands of units, winning is a real big deal. The Kennerspiel des Jahres (connoisseurs/expert game of the year) went to Exit: The Game and its first three scenarios. The Kinderspiel des Jahres (kids game of the year) was awarded to the very awesome dexterity game Ice Cool. All worthy winners for me.
Likewise, the Origin Awards were announced at the end of June at the Origin Games Fair, where the big winner for the game of the year was Stonemaier Games juggernaut Scythe designed by Jamey Stegmaier.
The start of June marked the 10th anniversary of the UK Games Expo, held at the NEC in Birmingham. With over 16,500 unique visitors it has established itself a the 4th biggest Games Expo in the world, just behind Origin. With no signs of slowing, the 2018 event will be the largest to date taking up over 33,000sqm of space. Gamewright’s Sushi Go Party was the big winner at their awards this year.
As second most attended games expo in the world, only behind Essen, and longest running, Gen Con 50 takes place from the 17th to 20th August in Indianapolis. Usually marking the beginning of the the industries busiest period of the year (running up to Essen-Spiel in late October), expect lots of news, announcements and previews to filter out from the “best four days in board gaming”.
Comic book publishing house Oni Press of Scott Pilgrim fame has announced the foundation of a board game division to deliver versions of their catalogue to the tabletop, as first reported by ICv2.com. Again it is yet further evidence that the traditional gaming industry is now very much seen as big business. Pretty sure Oni Press won’t be the last company to establish a board game division in the house for their IP’s. Exciting times.
Modiphius Entertainment has hit the news by announcing a Star Trek Adventures RPG Collectors Edition that retails at almost £400!! However, for that astronomical price not only do you get miniatures of both the Original and Next Generation crews along with Romulans and Klingons, but dice, rule books, tokens, player mats and a frigging giant Borg Cube to keep it all in! Even at £400, the pre-orders for this are going off the scale.
Talking about excessive game price tags, the very awesome Flick ’em Up old-West dexterity game is getting a giant edition, which will cost a staggering $300! This version will be on show at Gen Con and is nearly three times the size of the original game in which players play out classic cowboy showdowns with a flick of their finger. Bigger is not necessarily better, but in this case I think I’m convinced. Just gonna need a bigger table…and a bigger bank balance!
The twisted brilliance of Cards Against Humanity’s marketing team has struck again with the launch of Cards Against Humanity for Her, a limited edition pink box version of their game that is the exact same but costs $5 more. In a clear dig at the marketing and pricing of women’s products and accessories, where they have been found to cost on average 37% more than similar products for men, this tongue and cheek stunt saw them hit headlines across the world mid-July, with many missing the point of it. They even went one step further, by introducing a Period Pack expansion. Once again, this is a board game company leading the way in brilliant original PR.
Finally, to sign off the monster news update, just wanted to share a little self-indulgent picture of my new games cupboard following my recent home move mentioned earlier. It was one of the fundamental “must have’s” of any property we bought, a good cupboard for all my games (along with a pub within walking distance). Anyway, managed to get my collection out of storage, unpacked and piled into my new cupboard. Going to shelf it out and organise it better, but its pretty perfect. Although…may have to start selling some to make room for new ones. Either that or commandeer a new cupboard?!
NEXT WEEK: As mentioned, Dice Forge will take centre stage as I look at yet another utterly charismatic, fun-for-all release from Libellud.