Dice Tower Newsletter

Eddie Guida

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I'm an engineer manager by day, board game entusiast by night. I will play most anything once but I love adventure style games and cooperative games, which might explain my unnatural love for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game series of games. I can be contacted on BoardGameGeek.com under the user ID "burke4865"

Restoration Games just dropped a big announcement at GenCon, and that is their next restored game is going to be the highly sought after game, Fireball Island.  Those who know about this game know that at it’s core, it’s just a roll and move game (Surprise!), but what made it special was the toy factor.  In this game you are moving over this 3D plastic terrain and the angry idol in the center would sometimes roll “fireballs” down the path, taking out bridges and maybe even some players.  Manage to grab the idol’s ruby and get it off the island and you win!

Restoration Games definitely has found memories of this game, and after a long year of negotiating with the license holder, they have been given the go ahead to create a new version of the game.  Not much has been said about it other than it being worked on by the in house designers, Rob Daviau, J.R. Honeycutt, and Justin D. Jacobson, and will feature plastic elements molded by the talented Noah Adelman.  More information will be revealed as time goes on, and if you are at PAX Unplugged in November you will get to find out more at their “Blueprints” talk.  The rest of us can read the press release below for more information, and then patiently await the launch of the Kickstarter at some point in the future.

Indianapolis, IN – August 18, 2017. Today, Restoration Games announced they are releasing Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar in 2018. The announcement was made in front of a sold-out crowd on the Dice Tower Live Show at Gen Con, the show at which Restoration Games first introduced themselves last year.

First published in 1986 by Milton-Bradley, the game is remembered for its highly kinetic action and unique production. The original game board is a three-dimensional, injection-molded plastic tray, featuring peaks and valleys and chutes for marbles. Atop the board rests Vul-Kar, an imposing idol from whose mouth the titular red marbles careen. In the original game, the players are explorers, seeking to traverse the mountain, steal Vul-Kar’s gem, and return to the dock, all without ending up in a heap of ash and cinder at the bottom of some gulley. However, the game play itself was simplistic, little more than the straight roll-and-move, common in that day, with a little lose-a-turn take-that thrown in.

The restored version of the game, now called Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar, takes the players back to the island some 30 years later. Angered by the transgressors, Vul-Kar laid a dark curse upon the island, rent it asunder, and unleashed a host of terrible threats. What perils await and why the players are there now has not yet been revealed.

The restored version of the game features thoroughly revamped play, designed in-house by Rob Daviau, J.R. Honeycutt, and Justin D. Jacobson. The game will also feature all new art and a new model for Vul-Kar. Noah Adelman of Game Trayz, the man behind the lauded Mechs vs. Minions insert, is the architect of this new version of the island. Restoration Games indicated they would reveal additional information about the game in the following months, including at their “Blueprints” talk at PAX Unplugged, a tabletop game convention in Philadelphia on November 17-19.

The game is being manufactured under license from Lund and Company Invention, L.L.C. and Longshore, Ltd. Under the terms of the license, Restoration Games has complete control over the final design of the game and distribution rights in English for the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Australia. Longshore retains distribution rights for other languages and territories. Other terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Longshore, Ltd. is proving to be the perfect partner too. The project manager, Wai, had this to say, “I had a lot of fun and good memories with Fireball Island as a kid. This game has since become a classic and achieved a bit of “cult” status, and we are really excited to help bring this one back!  I look forward to playing the new version with my own son.”

“When we first reached out to Bruce Lund about acquiring the license, he said our timing was propitious,” said Justin D. Jacobson, president of Restoration Games. “But it took almost a full year to complete the deal. In the end, the hard work was worth it. We’re so thrilled to be able to bring this game back. It’s a cultural touchstone and a true icon of gaming. If ever a game deserved another turn, it’s this one.” 

Jacobson also revealed that Fireball Island was, by far, the most requested game for them to restore in surveys, website submissions, social media, and face-to-face interactions. Restoration plans to run a Kickstarter for the game. The date for the campaign has not yet been set.

About Restoration Games

Restoration Games is owned and operated by attorney Justin D. Jacobson. Design is overseen by their Chief Restoration Officer, the award-winning designer, Rob Daviau. Together, they find old games, modernize them, and bring them back for today’s gamers. Their first games, debuting at Gen Con this year, include Stop ThiefIndulgence, and Downforce.

Additional information can be found at www.restorationgames.com/fireball-island.

Restoration Games and the Restoration Games logo are trademarks of Restoration Games, LLC. Fireball Island is a trademark of Longshore Ltd., used under license.

First in our lineup is the dungeon crawl game from Greenbrier Games called Folklore: The Affliction.  This is an RPG style board game where you are playing characters trying to investigate and drive back the evil that is gripping the land.  The game is themed around the horror genre so you will be fighting things like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and more.  In an interesting twist for this game, if you are killed you will become a ghost yourself, being able to continue with the party and attack enemies from beyond the grave.  The scale of the game is on two levels, with movement between locations being done on a map board with one pawn denoting the whole group.  Then when you arrive at a location it will zoom in to all of your characters being on another board representing the location for you to explore and fight monsters on.  The game comes packaged with a campaign broken up into smaller chapters that can be played in one sitting, allowing you to tailor the game length to your desires.  Look for this horror dungeon crawl on store shelves next month.

Coming later this month is a new game from Breaking Games called Sparkle*Kitty, a quick card game that turns the helpless princess trope on it’s head.  In the game you each play a different princess trying to escape from the “Cursed “No Cursing” tower“.  Not much else has been released about the game other then it being released later this month, and that the art is fabulous.  So keep an eye out for the game and hopefully it’s good.

Keeping with the light-hearted theme we have the next release from North Star Games, Happy Salmon Blue Fish.  Those hoping for an expansion to this loud and crazy party game will be a bit disappointed, but if you wanted more players in a single game then look no further.  Happy Salmon Blue Fish contains all the same cards and components as the original, only this time the player colors are different than those contained in the original green fish edition of the game.  This makes it easy to ramp the player count all the way up to 12, making for a game that is even louder and crazier than before.  So if you want to have more players, or just prefer the blue color, look for this edition on store shelves in September.

Wizkids has announced their latest game, and it is the generically named Empires, a new trading and negotiation type game.  In Empires, 2 to 10 players will try to expand their kingdom across the land by acquiring support.  To get support “by supplying your people with goods; goods are produced when your people work in your territories.  Players can gain people, territories, goods, and supporters by winning wars. Wars will be won by the armies raised by paying gold. Gold can be earned by winning wars and by selling goods.”  So as you can see there is a lot of shuffling around of resources, but you won’t always have all the resources you need, that’s where the trading comes in.  You are allowed to trade anything and everything between players, goods, player powers, people, territories, whatever you have so that you can achieve your goal.  So if this kind of game intrigues you, look for it on store shelves in October of this year.

Next we have something that is exciting for Tom Vasel, and that is the impending release of the next game in the Dice Tower Essentials line, Critical Mass.  The game used to be known as Starborne, and is a two player card battle game with some deck building.  Each player will pick their mech, and each mech comes with it’s own unique starting deck of cards.  From there you will play cards against each other attacking, defending, and upgrading.  Attacking and defending as self explanatory, and the upgrading action is what allows you to get more cards into your deck.  However, as you play more cards you will start to run out, and you don’t get cards back until you do a reload action.  As you take hits you will lose armor, lose too much armor and your core becomes vulnerable, allowing your opponent to stun you for a turn.  The winner will be the one who destroys all the armor on their opponent’s mech first.  Look for this game on the shelves of your FLGS in November.

Finally we have two new games coming from Ankama games later this year in Dino Party and Stellium.  Dino Party is a party game at the end of the age of dinosaurs, where you and your friends are trying to grow your herd and get to the protected spaces.  But with disasters happening all around you, will you be able to make it?  This quick party game will be released next month.

Stellium is a new abstract game where you are creators of the universe in the midst of creating that universe.  On a turn you will draw a colorful marble from a bag and place it on the board, aiming to arrange the marbles in specific ways to satisfy contracts.  But since this is being done by everyone on the same board, you have to be careful not to setup your opponent to score instead of you.  An additional layer of strategy is added with variable player powers, allowing you to place a marble and then manipulate them in different ways.  Look for this game to be released in October of this year.

Dice Hate Me Game, in conjunction with Handelabra Games, is bringing the baseball themed board game Bottom of the Ninth to digital devices.  They announced the impeding release with a Youtube video showcasing gameplay from the app.  Some notable features to the game include multiplayer and cross platform multiplayer, which are always requested.  The game will also feature fun animated meeples playing the game and running the bases as the dice are being rolled to see if they make it or not.

So if you want to take your baseball board game with you, look for the games launch on both Android and iPhone on August 17th.

 

Room 17 Games is a newly minted company in Nottingham, UK, and so they want to get off to a running start with their game Museum Rush.  In Museum Rush you are some haphazard thieves trying to get the biggest score from the museum.  You will have to avoid guards and cameras, as well as do a bit of code breaking in order to steal the most valuable artifacts.  If you get caught then you get your loot confiscated, but manage to hold on to your stash until the last time card comes out and you will be the winner.

Playing is a simple task of picking a card to play and moving.  The are various cards that will help you distract guards, cover up cameras, or mess with your fellow thieves.  You will also have individual player powers giving each character it’s own feel.  And with the comical art you have a game that is fun and quick.  Look for this on store shelves soon.

In an effort to bridge the gap between RPG and board game, or to just produce a highly narrative game, FFG has announced Legacy of Dragonholt.  This game uses a newly created game system called the Oracle system, and promises to give the same thematic depth as an RPG, but without the need for a GM.  The start of the game is very similar with people picking a race and a class with choices like dwarves, elves, gnomes, and knight, sage, thief to just name a few.  From there you will embark on quests as you try to figure out the greater mysteries that have been plaguing Dragonholt.  FFG describes the first three adventures:

New Roads, your team ponders the strangeness of Celyse’s letter as you travel the road to Dragonholt. If lives are truly in danger, you have no time to waste. But the gnome who has decided to act as your guide seems blissfully unaware of any rumors regarding danger or treachery as she leads you through Eventide Forest.

Another quest, Paper Faces, will have you attending a strange and intriguing ball. Lady Regina Fairfax has invited both the villagers and nobles of Dragonholt to a grand masquerade where anyone can mingle without the boundaries of social class. 

…in the Whispering Leaves quest. First, the countess’s daughter and heir, Sonia, met her demise under dubious circumstances, bringing your party to Dragonholt. But now, her son Philip has gone missing as well.

The game promises to be ever changing and adapting to your decisions as you play, making for varied outcomes on multiple plays.  Plus there is also an experience system which allows you to level up and gain new abilities and items, making you stronger for the tougher tasks ahead.  So if this kind of game sounds interesting then head on over to FFG page to read more, and look forward to it’s release in the fourth quarter of this year.

Green Couch Games has announced a stand alone expansion for the treehouse building game Best Treehouse Ever. Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun can be mixed with the original game, giving more variety as well as increasing the possible player count up to 8.  But this can also be played on it’s own with 2 to 4 players and features some new mechanics not present in the first game.  First is the addition of player powers, giving each person something they can do that others can’t.  Another addition is that scoring happens in rounds instead of just at the end, and each round a different player will determine what scores that round.  This brings some tension to the game as now you have to build into the different colors to be able to score ever round.  Will these changes elevate this game?  I think they could.

We will find out more when the Kickstarter launches in the Fall, and when the game hits store shelves in the second quarter of 2018.  Read the press release below for more information.

(Grand Rapids, Michigan) – Green Couch Games grows a sequel with Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun!

It’s time to build another treehouse!

In the new stand alone sequel to the Golden Geek Nominated Best Treehouse Ever (Best Card Game, Best Family Game, 2015), Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun, players compete to build their best treehouse, outfitting their treehouse with cool rooms, and creating fun habitats for their favorite furry and feathered friends, while also making sure that their tree doesn’t tip over and that their rooms are more impressive than all of their friends’ rooms at the end of the game.

In addition, our treehouse builders have leveled up their experience by visiting new locations in the forest that provide special abilities to help them in their new build.

Building takes place over three weeks/rounds, and in each round, players use card drafting and spatial reasoning to add five new rooms to their treehouse. Players must pay attention to the other treehouses being built since they take turns determining which types of rooms score for everyone at the end of each round.

At the end of the third week, the winner is the player with the best treehouse ever!

But the best part? Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun can be combined with Best Treehouse Ever to play up to 8 players!

Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun will be the first “Big Box” game from Green Couch Games allowing owners of the original Best Treehouse Ever to store it all in one convenient box. The game includes 60 Room Cards with all art, 12 Animal Cards, 4 Starting Tree Cards, 6 Scoring Cards, 10 Location Cards, 4 Scoring Tokens, a folding Score Board, and 4 Balance Markers. The game will feature more great art from Claire Donaldson and Andy Jewett building on the foundation created by Adam McIver with Best Treehouse Ever.

Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun is a game for 2 to 4 players (or up to 8 when combined with Best Treehouse Ever), ages 10 and up and is designed by Scott Almes. The game is set for a Kickstarter campaign in Fall of 2017 with a Q2 2018 release.

Green Couch Games was founded by Jason Kotarski to release great little games that make great big connections. Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun will be their 10th release following Fidelitas, Best Treehouse Ever, JurassAttack!, Avalanche at Yeti Mountain, Wok on Fire, Rocky Road a la Mode, OutLawed!, Ladder 29, and Before The Earth Explodes. Jason is also a game designer and co-host of the  20 Minutes of Filler Podcast.

GenCon is only one short week away, so lets see if some of these Kickstarter campaigns can take your money before you leave.

First up is the fourth campaign for the Reaper Miniatures line called Bones 4.  Reaper is known for long waits from campaign to fulfillment, exemplified by the Feb 2019 delivery date, but also for high quality minis at an amazing price.  This time around your $100 will get you 85 different minis in a fantasy setting, with figures of things like dragons, goblins, wizards, knights, kobolds, and more.  Plus as more stretch goals get unlocked, more minis are added to the base pledge, sending it’s value skyward.  So if you can wait a couple years for your minis, check out the Kickstarter campaign.

Next is a dexterity card game where you are literally throwing weapons at your opponents, called Rise of the Exiled.  In Rise of the Exiled you are playing as a character from four different guild, vying for control of the city they live in.  To play the game you will select your character and place them on the table.  Each round you will move your character one card length, and then throw your weapon, depicted on a clear plastic card, at your opponent.  Where you are located is important because your hand can’t go past your character on the table when throwing, and where you hit your opponent determines how much life they lose.  You also have the option to use your character’s special ability to tip the scales in your favor, and if you are the last one standing you win.  With simple play like that and varying powers between the characters, this could be a fun, light, dexterity game.  Check out the Kickstarter page for more information.

After that is a deduction style game called Visitor in Blackwood Grove.  In this game one player will be playing the crash landed alien, and the rest either the local kid who found him, or the agents trying to capture him.  For this game the alien will make a “pass” rule for items that will pass through his force-field, and then in order the agents, kid, and alien will begin selecting cards and finding out if they pass through or not.  As more information is collected eventually someone will figure out the rule, at that point they prove it by drawing four cards and classifying them based on if they pass or not.  If they are right then that team wins, if they are wrong then play continues until someone does get it right.  There are more rules for the agents and kid but that is the basics of the game, keeping it a light deduction game.  Plus with nice looking art and good components, this project is worth it for you to look at.  Check out their Kickstarter page today.

Following that is a magazine being put out by Steve Jackson Games that is all about Ogre, called Ogrezine.  The Ogrezine is going to be a collection of articles about different ways you can change and modify how you play Ogre.  One example they have released is the article Dambusters, which details how to use and include a dam as well as flooding into a Ogre game.  This is all to celebrate 40 years of the game, and so in addition to the magazine you can back for other stuff for Ogre included the base game itself.  So if you are interested in more content for you Ogre game, check out their Kickstarter page.

Next is a fantasy fire fighting game from Red Genie Games called The Brigade.  In this competitive fire fighting game you are leading a fire brigade to help put out fires in the town of Tinderbox.  The cause of these fires is the pyromancer school in the center of town, and they are continually raining fireballs down upon the surrounding buildings.  It will be up to you to move your water carriage and fire brigade around town, putting out fires and spreading tales of your deeds to the surrounding population.  You will also have the option to upgrade your fire house, get more crew, and acquire special abilities to help you better fight fires.  The game will end in one of two ways, someone gets enough loyalty to the town or quarter, or the town is evacuated because of the fire, and at that point the person with the most loyalty wins.  With good art and gameplay that gives you good choices while not drawing the game, I think this one is worth a look.  Head to the Kickstarter page to check it out.

Another interesting game is coming from Green Couch Games called Before the Earth Explodes.  The Earth is in bad shape in this game, and it’s up to you to either find the resources to fix it, or find a new place to call home.  In this 2 player card game you will simultaneously select actions, with each action having different abilities and benefits.  Some of these let you draw cards, gets ships, get more resources, or damage your opponent directly.  And there are multiple ways you can win from eliminating your opponent, advancing all the way on the tech tree, colonizing seven planets, or satisfying the requirements for a ship card.  Any way you go you will have to try and out think your opponent, because each action card has another card that blocks it, so if you are too obvious in what you are doing next, your opponent can thwart you.  Plus if you take damage, you are out for the round, allowing you opponent to move forward on checked.  So if you enjoy these types of games, check out the Kickstarter page for more information.

And last, but not least, we have the expansion to the quirky themed game Feudum called The Queen’s Army.  What the Queen’s Army does is simply add a new AI player to the game working against the players.  With this new addition you can now play the game cooperatively against the Queen, while still have a single points winner, or if you are playing solo you now have someone to play against.  There are also options in this campaign to get the base game and other expansion in case you missed the original Kickstarter.  So if you are looking to get into Feudum, or just want to expand your copy even more, head over to the Kickstarter page.

Bananagrams, the company behind Bananagrams, has announced a new kids game called Cobra Paw.  This is a speed recognition game in that on your turn you roll two dice, when the stop there will be two symbols showing.  You then have to search the tiles on the board for the one bearing the same combination and grab it.  First person to successfully grab six tiles will be the winner.

The game is quick and easy so it can be played with a wide range of ages, and while the ninja cat theme is paper thin, it’s still cute and offers some nice art.  This game will be released this month so you will be able to find it on store shelves  soon.  Until then you can read the press release below for more information and a fun story.

August 2017 (Providence, RI)

6-year-old Sofia Stealthington from The Catskills NY, clawed her way to the top of the pride as she dominated her family in COBRA PAW, the all-new dice rolling, tile-snatching, challenge game from Bananagrams, Inc.

Derived from the ancient stone-snatching tournament of speed and mental fortitude called Clawfuku, COBRA PAW honors the legacy of the Grand Shidoshi Master Meow whose “cobra paw” technique made him the undefeated champion and most skillful player to saunter the earth…until now.

“It’s unreal to watch her play!”, said Sans Stealthington, Sofia’s dad. “Her laser focus and ninja-like reflexes just kept coming at us. Her mother, siblings, and I walk around the house on egg shells, waiting for her to pounce next! Whether it be the TV remote, the last piece of pie or little Mikey’s stuffed mouse—we don’t know what she’s going to ‘Cobra Paw’ next!”

“We are confident that Master Meow’s spirit lives within Sofia,” said Rena Nathanson, CEO, Bananagrams, Inc. “We hope that her strength, spirit and fearlessness will inspire COBRA PAW challenges amongst families and friends throughout the land.”

About COBRA PAW®
Ninja-like reflexes, sharp recognition skills, and mental fortitude steals the game in our new tile-snatching challenge known as Cobra Paw! Players take turns rolling the dice (featuring 6 unique symbols), spotting the tile with the matching pattern, then grabbing it before their opponents. The first player to snatch up 6 tiles wins the game and bestows great honor to the Grand Shidoshi, Master Meow!

Ages 5+, 2 to 6 Players, Available August 2017 at your at your favorite table top game retailer.
Visit www.bananagrams.com for more info.

About Bananagrams, Inc.
Bananagrams, Inc. is a family-owned Rhode Island company behind a range of innovative table top games, including the international word tile game phenomenon BANANAGRAMS®. Currently available in more than 30 countries and in multiple languages, classic BANANAGRAMS—in it’s distinctive yellow cloth pouch—has garnered millions of fans worldwide, with new ones sprouting each year via the annual Bananagrams School Challenge. Bananagrams, Inc. strives to help people everywhere rediscover a love for games that stimulate and enrich the mind as well as bring a few laughs—games that make them think outside the crate, so to speak! The brand continues to introduce new titles that they’ve grown in-house, as well those from friends that they’ve met along the way.

Sand timers are one of those board game components that you don’t see very many innovative uses of, but then again, what can you do with something that just tells time?  Time ‘n’ Space tried to use it differently by having it simulate travel and delivery time in a pick up and deliver game, and they did okay with it.  Now Wizkids is seeing if they can better utilize the sand timers in their next game, Wartime, a real time war game.  In Wartime you are playing as one of two sides, the Valyance of the Firebrands, each with their own unique army.  When you want to activate a unit you will perform it’s action, and then flip the timer on that unit.  That unit is now exhausted until that timer runs out, and different units have different times you have to wait, from 30 to 90 seconds.  The game also comes with a campaign that changes depending on who wins each battle, and each battle takes only 10 minutes so you can play a full campaign in one sitting.  Overall it might do well with the real time aspect in a war game, but we will have to wait and see.

You can find out more information on the Wizkids website, and look for it on store shelves when it released in September of this year.

Not too long ago, Asmodee North America announced that they, and all the companies owned by them, would be switching distributors to be exclusively with Alliance.  This news got some mixed responses as it was considered to be a good business move, but others thought trimming down to a single distributor was a bad idea.  Arcane Tinmen is in the camp of “bad idea” as they have ended a long standing partnership with Asmodee North America and Fantasy Flight Games in order to continue distributing through multiple channels.  This went into effect immediately so you shouldn’t see much change in how you get their products, and you can read the full press release below for more info.

Arcane Tinmen maintains broad distribution in the States

Arcane Tinmen has decided to discontinue their business cooperation with Asmodée North America (ANA) in order to maintain a broader distribution network of their products in the United States market. The change will go into effect on August 1st 2017.

Arcane Tinmen will continue to have its products distributed through many main distributors in the US, including Southern Hobby, ACD, GTS and PHD. Arcane Tinmen is thankful for many years of fruitful and prosperous relations with Asmodée NA, and Fantasy Flight Games before that.

Asmodée NA recently announced that they would be going from five distributors to an exclusive partnership with Alliance Game Distributors.

Michael Stehr Lilhav, CEO of Arcane Tinmen, states;
“I recognize that this is a solid move for Asmodée and their business, but the future for Dragon Shield and other Arcane Tinmen accessories lies within the wider distribution network.”

Michael Stehr Lilhav adds that Arcane Tinmen is thankful for the many years of partnership the company has had with Asmodée, and that he wishes both companies plenty of good fortune on each of their separate future paths.

Arcane Tinmen is known for their wide range of gaming accessories and high quality trading card game protection products. With the world renowned quality-brand Dragon Shield, Arcane Tinmen has been an important player in the gaming industry for decades.