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.

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.

Indie Boards and Cards has announced a new game from designers Travis R. Chance, Nick Little, and Jonathan Gilmour coming to Kickstarter this May.  The Path of Light and Shadow allows players to take the roles of the four great houses/nations of The Realms vying to regain control of their lands from the Tyrant Queen.

Path of Light and Shadow is a massive empire-building experience, combining area control, deck management, and civilization customization. As players vie for control of The Realms, they must enlist and promote supporters, outfit their burgeoning empire with powerful technologies, align with powerful leaders, and lay siege to rival exiles after the throne.  Above all else, each player must decide what type of leader they will become, cruel or merciful.  But choose wisely, for each path has its rewards and perils.

For more information about the game and its design process before the Kickstarter campaign begins, click here.  Otherwise, look for the campaign to launch in early May 2017.

Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new expansion for Runbound (Third Edition) that introduces cooperative play (and solo play with multiple heroes).  The publisher describes the expansion as a significant shift in the game:

Unbreakable Bonds is a new expansion for Runebound, and gives you the option to dramatically reshape the nature of the game.  Rather than competing against up to three opponents, Unbreakable Bonds invites you to journey through the fantasy realm of Terrinoth as part of a group, or even to strike out on your own in a solo game!  With a robust combat system to control the monsters, two new heroes, five cooperative / solo scenarios, and a wealth of new asset and skill cards, Unbreakable Bonds pushes the borders of Terrinoth further than ever and leads you into new adventures with every game.

The new scenarios consist of two brand new coop adventures entitled The Locust Swarm and The Red Death, and new cards for the Core Set scenarios and Caught in a Web, allowing these older scenarios to be played cooperatively or solo as well.  The expansion focuses heavily on presenting players with difficult obstacles that encourage forming parties of heroes that can move together.  It also includes a new combat system, with four combat boards used when facing each type of enemy, respectively: Warrior, Mystic, Savage, or Trickster.  For players not so interested in solo/coop play, the new heroes and other cards can be added and utilized in any (competitive) game of Runebound.  FFG plans to release the expansion in the third quarter of 2017.  For more information, visit the publisher’s page here.