Dice Tower Newsletter

Denis Yanishevskiy

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Denis is an intellectual property lawyer who became addicted to board games in college. He now forces his friends and wife to indulge him as often as possible.

EPOCH: The Awakening is the first game from new company Orange Nebula, LLC and designer Marc Neidlinger raising funds on Kickstarter now.  As described by the designer:

The game begins: thrown overboard after a life of wretchedness, you wash ashore a hostile island ruins — completely alone with nothing except the breath in your lungs and an undaunted spirit. Through your advanced resource management, area control tactics, and freeform action selection, you’ll add companions to your party, acquire bizarre relics, attain potent character traits, and defeat a host of unusual monsters in the ultimate goal of mastering heroic attributes — and regaining honor.
 
In EPOCH, players enter a fantasy world filled with companions who can be recruited to join the quest, relics to be gathered on the journey, and areas to control with influence.  Players managing their influence obtain attributes that may be combined into more advanced character traits.
You may perform 3 actions on each turn in the order you feel is most advantageous: activate a companion, travel to a new location, and interact with a map tile. Many actions require the the use of your influence to gain attributes in a one-of-a-kind heroic attribute alchemy system, which is leveraged to gain the game’s most powerful rewards. For example, you can meditate at a spire to gain inspiration. You can train at a fort to gain strength. But then you can combine your inspiration and strength to gain the courage (inspired strength) which allows you to perform a bounty hunt. There are over 72 unique card abilities that can be merged in unusual ways for potent combinations, and fresh tile placement each game for high replayability.
EPOCH is for 2-5 players and advertises to take 15-30 minutes per player.  Delivery is currently set for March 2018.  For more information, check out the Kickstarter page here.

Coming fresh off of its nomination for the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres (German expert game of the year) award, Raiders of the North Sea is set to disembark on North American shores in wide English distribution by publisher Renegade Game Studios.  Renegade has also announced the release of the game’s expansions in English this coming fall.  Raiders of the North Sea was first released on Kickstarter in 2015 from Garphill Games.
According to Renegade’s press release:

Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey north to plunder gold, iron, and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!

Raiders of the North Sea is a very well thought out game. The unique scoring, beautiful art, and dynamic game play really draws players in,”  says Renegade President Scott Gaeta.  “We are excited to be the exclusive English partner and bring this Viking adventure to fans thanks to Shem Phillips at Garphill Games.”

“I am really excited to be partnering with Renegade Game Studios to see these games reach a much wider audience,” states Shem Phillips, designer of the Raiders of the North Sea series and owner of Garphill Games.

Look out for the Raiders of the North Sea this summer.  In the meantime, check out Renegade’s website for more of their games.

Today saw the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for a new game from first-time designer Luke Seinen of SAS Creative.  In Carthage, 2-5 players enter the arena of gladiatorial combat in a battle to the (figurative) death.  Armed only with a deck of cards, players will take turns playing action cards from their starting decks to move their gladiator miniatures around the arena and execute lethal moves on the other combatants.  In so doing, players will earn coveted favor from the crowd to better their starting decks with stronger and nastier actions, eliminate weak cards from their decks, or reuse global effects through Theater cards that set the conditions of each turn’s battle.

Each player starts with a basic deck of 10 cards, but can use favor to purchase better and stronger weapons and armor from the card market.  The game ends with pure elimination until the last player standing.  However, eliminated players are never totally out of the game because they can return to the fight as Arena Beasts and wreak havoc on the remaining fighters.

The Kickstarter campaign is set to conclude on June 17, 2017, with delivery of the game scheduled for March 2018.  Check out the Kickstarter for more information.

Fireside Games had previously announced the release of Hotshots, a new cooperative wildfire fighting game from Justin De Witt, who previously brought us Castle Panic.  Initially scheduled for release this spring, the game has been delayed due to manufacturing setbacks and is instead scheduled to hit stores this summer.  Fireside Games estimates the manufacturing process to be completed this month.

As a reminder from Fireside:

In Hotshots, crews of 1 to 4 players take on the roles of wildfire fighters (Crew Boss, Spotter, Swamper, and Sawyer) with special abilities and roll dice on burning terrain tiles to match the combinations shown on the tiles. The more faces they roll, the better they fight the fire. Players can choose to cut Firebreaks, which protect tiles from embers blown by wind gusts, or push their luck to reduce Flames and possibly even generate Reward Tokens. If players bust and fail to match at least 3 of the 6 symbols on the tile, the fire grows. Another option is to maneuver Vehicles (Air Tanker, Helicopter, and Brush Rig) to save the forest.

Flame tokens are added at the end of each player’s turn by the draw of a Fire card, which can bring about light or strong wind gusts, increase the strength of the flames on certain tiles, and start fires. Too many Flame tokens will cause a tile to Scorch and be lost. Losing a terrain tile could also affect the game play. Some tiles are tied to crewmembers’ special abilities, while others help the firefighters and still others cause the fire to spread in unique ways. If 8 tiles or the Fire Camp Scorches, the game is over and the forest is lost. But if the intrepid crew can extinguish the fire, the team wins together.

The press-your-luck mechanic with ratcheting rewards creates a lot of great tension, and the variety of ways to fight the fire makes for interesting choices. The modular tile layout and Fire cards bring high replayability to the game, and the beautiful acrylic Flame tokens provide an enticing table presence.

Look for more press on this game as its release looms closer this summer.  In the meantime, you can visit the publisher’s website for more information here.

Gamelyn Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its new big-box game, Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, from designer Scott Almes of Tiny Epic fame.  From the Kickstarter page:

Heroes of Land, Air & Sea is a 4X style board game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) for 1-6* players that plays in 2-3 hours (30m/player), and features 80 highly detailed miniatures and over 30 constructs!  *Plays up to 6 players with the deluxe expansion.  It is easy to learn, simple to play, and won’t take up your entire weekend.

The game promotes simple gameplay (players only take two actions per round) and bucket-loads of miniatures and cardboard constructs for the visual and tactile appeal.  There are add-on options to have the miniatures pre-painted as well.  The base game comes with four different factions, while the Deluxe Expansion for 6 players, Order and Chaos, adds four more.

Players will be vying for control over a fantasy realm by exploring an enormous board, building castles and towers to cement their influence and collect resources from the land, and of course, battling with the other factions through Tactics cards.  Each X also comes with its own victory condition, meaning players may be able to choose their style of play, or at least the best way to race to victory.

The campaign is set to end Monday, June 5, 2017, and delivery is projected for March 2018.  Much more information can be found on the Kickstarter page here.

A new strategy dueling card game is raising funds on Kickstarter from self-publisher Pelotology, called Village of Legends.  Players take control of heroes with unique skill sets, stats, abilities, and weaknesses, but will be able to strengthen their heroes throughout the game by earning experience (XP) and buying various enhancements from a market in the form of cards for the player’s deck.

Some of these items include:

  • weapons and heavy weapons that damage players around the table;
  • wandering monsters that may be sent to attack other players;
  • spells that may be cast once a player earns enough XP; and
  • treasure chests worth money to buy additional items.

One or two expansions can be added onto the base game, each including 2 new heroes and additional monsters to battle for XP.  Check out the full campaign, including how to go Berserk! from drinking beer, here.  The campaign is set to end on May 31, 2017, and delivery is estimated for September 2017.

In 2016, Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) released three standalone games under the Guildhall Fantasy banner, wherein set set was able to be combined with one or both of the others: Fellowship, Alliance, and Coalition.  In Guildhall Fantasy, 2-4 players play multi-colored adventurers with different professions to their respective Guildhalls, conducting increasingly powerful actions in pursuit of collecting sets of professions and trading them in for victory points for the win.

In the new upcoming Guildhall Fantasy: the Gathering, AEG includes 6 new professions for Guildhall Fantasy, as well as two mini-expansions entitled “The Chapter Masters” and “The Master Houses.”  This new set is completely standalone or may be combined with any/all of the previous Guildhall Fantasy sets.  Not a lot of information is yet available on the new professions or mini-expansions, but players won’t have to wait long.  The new set is aimed for release on July 12, 2017.

 

Raising funds on Kickstarter now is FARSIGHT: Corporate Warfare in a Dark Future (I think that goes without saying!) from Braincrack Games and designer Jamie Jolly.  This ambitious project promises to deliver a quick-playing and easily accessible war game in a particularly malleable package.  FARSIGHT definitely includes a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned, dudes-on-a-map combat, but also throws in a bit of deception and to everyone’s delight, mechs.

Each turn, players deploy units face-down to the battlefield, revealing them when they are spied upon, or enter combat.  On a parallel ‘Shadow Map,’ hidden specialists are deployed to help spy on the enemy, sabotage their units and help shift the course of the game.  As the corporations battle for control of the field, events ranging from weather to deadly plagues will encourage players to change their strategies as the game goes on.  The first player to capture 8 of 12 areas, or the 3 areas closest to their opponent, claims victory.

  

The Core Set supplies 2-4 players with everything they need to begin spying, sabotaging, and decimating their enemies for 60-90 minutes, but the publisher is also offering a supplemental War Chest of 40 scale model miniatures to enhance the experience.  On top of that, the game appears to include rules for diceless game play and modular rule sets for different modes of play, including a campaign mode.  Visit the Kickstarter campaign here for more information.

Every year since 1990, American Mensa has held the Mensa Mind Games competition to recognize recently released board games and card games, and that continued in 2017.  Over one intense, 46-hour-long weekend of gaming (of which, to be honest, many of us are probably jealous), Mensa members/judges select the top five games, which are awarded the Mensa Select distinction and seal.  The winners for 2017 are:

The Mensa Mind Games criteria examines the games’ originality, challenge, design, creativity, ease of comprehension and play, fun factor, and interestingly, value of game play for its price.  Past winners include Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Dominion, Yinsh, Magic: the Gathering, and Apples to Apples.   The list of this year’s winners can be found here and all of the winners can be viewed and filtered by year on the Mensa Mind Games page.

Several board games began their Kickstarter campaigns this week, and all with vastly different themes:

Tesla vs. Edison: Duel is a 2-player card game from Artana LLC, distilled from the original Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents and advertised to play in only 30 minutes.  Players can choose one of 8 famous inventors (including Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, of course) and take their respective sides in the War of the Currents.  The inventors all play differently, but players can also differentiate their electric empires by hiring famous assistants, completing projects, investing in minor companies, and spreading propaganda against the other side.  The game is set to ship in October 2017.  For more information, check out the Kickstarter page here.

Sentinels of Earth-Prime is a new standalone cooperative card game that uses the rules of the hit superhero game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, in a new setting.  This time, the heroes have to protect Earth-Prime, the setting of the Mutants & Masterminds RPG from Green Ronin Publishing.  They are partnering with the publisher of the original Sentinels, Greater Than Games.  The game includes 10 hero decks, 4 villain decks, and 4 environment decks.  It is set to be delivered in April 2018.  More information can be found on the Kickstarter page here.

Chariots of Rome comes from Victory Point Games, probably best known for their historical war games.  In this game, however, 2-8 players take instead to the Circus Maximus in Rome in what appears to be a brutal chariot race in honor of the Emperor.  Players can control one of 12 single charioteers (with special abilities, obviously) or one of 4 different factions consisting of two chariots, all of which will not only compete for every millimeter on the hallowed track, but try to hinder their opponents’ progress along the way.  And on top of all that, racers will be subjected to the whims of the gods through global Fate events that may enhance or hinder even the best laid plans.  Visit the Kickstarter here.