Dice Tower Newsletter

Denis Yanishevskiy

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.

Mayfair Games announced a whole slew of new releases and exciting reprints for 2017 recently.

In Bärenpark, 2-4 players compete to build their own bear parks – including other animals might have just been too much – with enclosures, animal houses, and shops by combining polyomino tiles onto a grid, aiming to finish their parks the best and quickest for the most points.  This game comes from the mind of Phil Walker-Harding, of recent Imhotep fame, and the wonderful art of Klemens Franz.  All your questions about what it takes to house a 2,000 lb. Kodiak bear will be answered this year.

Iron Dragon, for 2-6 players, is a reprint of the 1994 classic crayon rails pick-up and deliver train game, designed by Darwin Bromley and Tom Wham.  Players build tracks across the fantasy-steampunk world of Darwinina by drawing them onto the board, traveling across the map to deliver goods and earn money.  Iron Dragon features random events, different regions that vary players’ progress, foremen who discount passage over particular terrain, and forest creatures attempting to put a wrench into players’ plans.  Excited by drawing on the board in all those new-fangled legacy games?  At least this time it’s erasable.

Glass Road, for 1-4 players, is also returning from Mayfair Games this year.  By designer Uwe Rosenberg, Players travel to the Bavarian Forest of the 18th century to produce glass by gathering and managing resources via the game’s resource conversion wheel.  The central mechanism of the game, however, is the simultaneous action selection of specialists that grant the players their actions.  Selecting a specialist no one else has picked grants greater abilities, while matching specialists with another allows a player to take more actions.  Read your opponents and take advantage of their successes, just like the Bavarian glassmakers of old.

Atlantis is another reprint from Mayfair Games and designed by Leo Colovini for 2-4 players.  In this game, each player is trying to get their faction of people to the mainland before Atlantis sinks, collecting the most artifacts along the way.  The game consists primarily of players playing cards to build bridges, but water gaps are created at the same time, increasing the journey’s danger and difficulty.  Can you save your people better than everyone else?

Mayfair Games will also be releasing Food Chain, a trick-taking type game with a twist.  In Food Chain, 3-6 players try to outguess each other in simultaneous card play, aiming to play animals higher up in the food chain to claim the other player’s cards as points for the end of the game.  This game is not about eating one another, just subtly asserting your dominance over the other creatures of the forest.  How like life.

A new party game has been announced by Mayfair Games, Party Bites.  This game, for 3-5 players, enjoys a bit of metagaming, pitting players in the roles of partygoers vying for snacks and drinks in a light push-your-luck game that supposedly takes 10-15 minutes to play.  The push-your-luck comes in the form of flipping cards over and taking a kind of snack, passing the rest to the next player.  Flipping too much can cause a spill, however, and the player to lose all of their snacks collected this turn.  Sounds very similar to a real party.

Run Bunny Run is a 2-5 player game that also cuts a little close to the bone, in which a band of wolves are trying to capture a bunny.  One player plays the clever bunny navigating the wolves’s strategic card laying and movement programming maneuvers in an attempt to reach the safety of his home.  In the real world, the bunny would probably stand no chance, but in this game, he only has victory points to lose.  Musn’t be late!

Mayfair Games also announced a brand new expansion for the popular Lords of Vegas, entitled Lords of Vegas: Underworld.  The expansion includes 56 cards with new game effects and the ability to score victory points off the board.

Even with all of these exciting announcements of new games and old, Mayfair is not stopping there in 2017.  Look for these additional releases later this year as well:

• Nuns on the Run Expansion

• Draftopolis

• Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small Reprint

• Songbirds

• Riverboat

• Nusfjord

Design/artist/publisher Ryan Laukat is going back to his roots.  His company, Red Raven Games, will be releasing a brand new standalone board game set in the universe of the studio’s first release, Empires of the Void.  Empires of the Void II is a 4x game set hundreds of years after the events of the first game and apparently requires no familiarity or prior experience with the first title.

By the time Captian Markan realized Earth was losing the war against the Znu, it was too late. Earth’s shield fell and the Znu scorched the surface to an irradiated wasteland. In desperation and for the survival of the species, she sent Earth’s massive worldship on a decade-long journey to uncharted space. Their destination was the fringes of the galaxy, where there was a chance to gain a foothold and grow in strength again, and perhaps find new allies for the fight against the Znu and Decima empires. Learning of this plan, the great empires sent their own worldships, following Earth to the edge, determined to stake their own claim and win the war for the fringe.

In Empires of the Void II, players take on the roles of explorers, warriors, diplomats, and architects to increase the influence of their struggling civilizations through the main action selection mechanism.  However, the game also features the ability for players to follow the main action of another, or pass and take a different associated action, keeping everyone engaged on every player’s turn.  A modular board, tile laying and exploration, and player interaction also contribute to the game’s replayability.  Empires of the Void II is for 2-5 players, ages 13 and older, and takes about 30 minutes per player.  For more information, check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

Pandasaurus Games, responsible for Machi Koro, Yedo, and Wasteland Express Delivery Service coming out this year, has begun its Kickstarter campaign for the newly announced Dinosaur Island from designers Jon Gilmour (Dead of Winter) and Brian Lewis (Titans of Industry).  As the name suggests, players will spare no expense in competing to build the most prosperous dinosaur theme park while researching and creating live (within the confines of the game, that is) dinos to populate it.  According to Pandasaurus:

In Dinosaur Island, players will have to collect DNA, research the DNA sequences of extinct dinosaur species, and then combine the ancient DNA in the correct sequence to bring these prehistoric creatures back to life. Dino cooking! All players will compete to build the most thrilling park each season, and then work to attract (and keep alive!) the most visitors each season that the park opens.

Players will use dice and workers to build up their parks and laboratories, while having to keep a watchful eye on security.  While all major theme parks have delays, in this case, the attractions do break out and eat the tourists.  Dinosaur Island’s true calling card is the technicolor ’90s artwork from Kwanchai Moriya and Peter Wocken.  Hold on to your butts!

Dinosaur Island is for 1-4 Players, playable in 60-150 minutes (scalable length regardless of player count), for ages 10 and up.  For more information, check out the Kickstarter campaign page here.

In the words of the visionary Benjamin Franklin, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except more Munchkin content from Steve Jackson Games,” or something like that.  Steve Jackson Games has announced a new expansion to their crossover title, Munchkin Pathfinder, coming in June 2017, adding the Gunslinger class and a new faction, Razmiran Vision.  These additions also work with the Munchkin Pathfinder Guest Artist Edition.  See the publisher’s page here.  From the description:

The Gunslinger class specializes in firearms (always the best specialty for a fantasy character), and the Razmiran Vision faction lets players benefit from backstabbing.  It’s a 112-card expansion that draws on the rich Pathfinder lore.

With the beginning of summer, Steve Jackson Games will also be releasing Ghosts Love Candy, a card game in which players use teams of ghosts to possess trick-or-treaters on Halloween night and eat all of their candy, which may just realize the deep-seated desires of many.  See more of the game, including some of card art, here.  The game does come with a warning, though:

The player whose ghosts earn them the most candy points after 8 rounds wins. But be careful! When a Trick-or-Treater eats too much candy they get sick and become your burden if you were the one to push them past their candy limit.  The game is over when there is no more candy left to hand out, which is 8 rounds with 2-4 players and 6 rounds with 5-6.

Look for these new releases from Steve Jackson Games this summer.



Already having almost tripled its goal funding on Kickstarter, By Order of the Queen, by designer David Gerrard, touts itself as a 2-4 player cooperative fantasy adventure game that emulates an RPG experience in 90-120 minutes through an abundance of whimsical artwork.  In this game, the Queen of Tessandor has a lot on her agenda and has tasked players, as their respective Guilds, to complete quests, slay monsters, and fulfill the eponymous Queen’s orders, vying not only to win, but also having to work together for the good of the kingdom.

By Order of the Queen mixes simple card play, strong strategy, and RPG storytelling in a promise to engage the whole family.  Junk Spirit Games, which previously released JunKing in 2015, estimates delivery in October 2017 for backers of the Kickstarter campaign.  For more information, head over to the Kickstarter page here.

Fantasy Flight Games has already released a number of additional characters, both iconic and lesser-known, for the hit campaign game, Star Wars: Imperial Assault.  The three new figure packs announced by Fantasy Flight this January are specifically focused on the robotic assistants of the Star Wars universe.  Per the company’s website description:

The BT-1 and 0-0-0 Villain Pack, the Jawa Scavenger Villain Pack, and the Hera Syndulla and C1-10P Ally Pack aren’t directly connected to any other Imperial Assault products, meaning that these characters enter the game for the first time in these expansions. Like previous Ally Packs and Villain Packs, however, these expansions offer detailed, sculpted plastic figures and new missions for your campaign and skirmish games. Finally, you’ll find an array of Deployment cards, Command cards, and Agenda cards designed to expand your options and increase the power of your droids!

The BT-1 and 0-0-0 Villian Pack introduces two droids ready to serve the Empire and a new campaign mission involving a prison rescue, as well as five new Command cards to make the droids even stronger.

Next, the Jawa Scavenger Villian Pack contributes a Jawa Scavenger and its Deployment cards, including a new campaign mission to Tatooine for a salvage operation.  The Jawa Pack further allows droids from other factions to be included in a strike team and a new skirmish map of Mos Eisley.

Lastly, to combat all of these additions to Imperial forces, the Hera Syndulla and C1-10P Ally Pack includes two valuable members of the Rebel Alliance.  This pack includes a new campaign mission to Tatooine (popular place) and a new skirmish map of the Chopper Base with two unique missions.

Look for these packs in the second quarter of 2017.  In the meantime, more information can be found on the publisher’s website here.

Several new titles are hitting shores in the first half of 2017, including both new games and new expansions:

  • Pandasaurus Games is releasing Wasteland Express Delivery Service to let players make the most of a post-apocalyptic wasteland economy by delivering food, water, and guns in customized trucks represented by detailed and unique miniatures.  The game comes from the minds of Jon Gilmour, co-designer of Dead of Winter, and Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, who are responsible for Fleet, and features comic-book-style art by Riccardo Burchielli.  The primary campaign progresses over 10 games, but random scenarios can also be generated for one-shot playthroughs.  The game plays 2-5 and is set to hit the market on May 15, 2017.
  • Looney Labs announces the release of a new version of Fluxx, this time with a science flair.  Chemistry Fluxx, for 2-6 players, involves playing atom and periodic element cards to match a certain goal, a common mechanic among the Fluxx series of games.  The game is set to release May 25, 2017.  More information can be found on the publisher’s website by clicking here.
  • Stonemaier Games will be releasing the Moor Visitors expansion to its popular title, Viticulture, this time with contributions by Uwe Rosenberg.  The expansion will add 40 visitor cards to any version of Viticulture, a promoter card, and a harvest machine card.  It is scheduled for release in February 2017.

Finally, lots of goodies are coming for Millennium Blades!  Level 99 Games introduces the first full-size expansion including over 400 cards, Set Rotation.  The expansion riffs off pop culture icons with 12 new card sets, and adds six new starter decks based on card type, four new characters, nine new promo sets, and four new decks for co-op mode!  Level 99 is also releasing five mini-expansions consisting of new cards for the game:

  • Millennium Blades: Crossover lives up to its name by including 54 new cards that feature characters from other games by Level 99.  Metagame within metagame!  Set to release in April 2017.
  • Millennium Blades: Sponsors twists the metagame even further by including 54 new cards with characters from other tabletop publishers and favorite games, such as Mage Wars and Neuroshima Hex!  Releases May 2017.
  • Millennium Blades: Futures follows Crossover and Sponsors by introducing 54 new cards featuring future Level 99 characters on them, able to be used in the base game.  Releases June 2017.
  • Millennium Blades: Final Bosses contributes four Master-Level card sets and accessory cards, to be released in June 2017.
  • Millennium Blades: Fusion adds two new characters: Raritti, a master of card fusion, and Shafille, a CCG archaeologist.  Set to be available in May 2017.

Set Enterprises, Inc., arguably most famous for Quiddler, has announced another card game all about creating words.  In WordSpiel, players play letter cards to make cards and try to be the first to rid their hand.  Each word must start with the last letter of the previously played word, however, so laying down all 10 cards may not be so easy.  The game also includes a timer for fast-paced play.  It is for 2-6 players and is set to release in February 2017.  You can hop over to the publisher’s page for more information here.

The board game world is certainly not hurting for another pirate game.  Even less is it hurting for a social deduction game.  However, it might still be wanting a pirate game that makes players truly feel like pirates, with a decent dollop of thematic double-think.  Could the key be traveling to Tortuga to battle Spanish Galleons and placate mutinous crew mates?

Tortuga 1667 pits 4-9 players, each embracing the identity of a famous historical pirate with a secret loyalty, against others in a battle of wits and treacheries for the most gold.  Each team of pirates is moored at the pirate haven of Tortuga, and based on their loyalties, is trying to retrieve the most gold from a circling Spanish Galleon onto their pirate ship at the expense of the other pirate crews.  Not only that, one player on each team is the Captain, with the ability to attack the Galleon or a rival pirate ship to steal its treasure.  Captains have to watch their First Mates, though, who can call for “Mutiny!” and banish their Captains to Tortuga if they can convince the other crew members of their ship to abscond with the treasure instead.

Tortuga 1667 is already funded on Kickstarter as of this writing, having acquiring more than 10x its requested goal with 23 days to go.  The game comes packaged in a beautiful fake book case, with a rubber mat, lovely illustrated cards, and wooden tokens fitting inside.  According to the design duo, Travis and Holly Hancock, Tortuga 1667 is also the first in a series of similarly styled games focusing on different locales and time periods.  Head over to the Kickstarter page to check out the project, anticipated to release in August 2017.



Cool Mini or Not (CMON) announces the release of a new competitive action selection game in Kingz, published by CMON and Ankama from designer Antonin Boccara.

Players enter a battle arena by simultaneously selecting and revealing action cards from their hands to have their chosen (and originally named with dry erase marker!) animals spar for the vacant seat on the jungle throne.  Anticipating, countering, and defending against other players by playing the right card is key, but players may nevertheless find themselves pinned to the ground on the precipice of defeat.  That player’s chances are not all lost, however, as the pinned player can try to strike a deal with the attacker to let them take another shot at the crown.  The most reputation points at the end of seven rounds will name a new king.  Click here for more information on Kingz from Game Trade Magazine and here for more information directly from CMON.  Kingz was released on January 20, 2017.