Corey Thompson

452 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
A retired veterinarian and ex-cell biologist, Corey spends his time with board games, computer history, banjo music and general useless frivolity. Corey can be found as doccabet on BGG.

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has announced they will be starting a Kickstarter Campaign soon for a premium reprint of the popular deck building game Valley of the Kings (2014) by designer Tom Cleaver. This Premium Edition will include not only the original game, but also the subsequent Valley of the Kings: Afterlife and Valley of the Kings: Last Rites. Although Valley of the Kings was an early deck builder, using tried and true mechanics of buying new cards from a marketplace, using the buy power of other cards in hand, it introduced some novel ideas into the genre. The only cards to score points in Valley are those purposely culled from one’s deck into a special “entomb” pile, removing the card from play. The timing of when to use a card for its action, or when to use it for cash value to buy new cards, or when to give up the card for points, kept the game fresh and interesting. This new collection not only contains all 3 games, but also includes new graphics, new Pharaoh cards with unique abilities, and enough tarot sized sleeves to protect all the cards (over 300). The Kickstarter for the Valley of the Kings Premium Edition is scheduled to begin on April 2, 2019, and continue for 2 weeks.

Exodus: Proxima Centauri (2012) is a well loved 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) space empire building game for 2-6 players by designers Agnieszka Kopera and Andrei Novac, as well as a recipient of a Dice Tower Seal of Excellence. NSKN Games has just launched a massive reboot of this classic game along with its two expansions, Event Horizon and Edge of Extinction, on Kickstarter. The new Exodus Chronicles, designed by Rainer Ahlfors and Andrei Novac scratches all the right itches, with 6 different player factions, a robust tech tree system, 45 custom dice, 350 wooden cubes, 280 acrylic gems, 33 large sector tiles, hundreds of tokens and cards, and over 130 detailed ship miniatures. Exodus uses a lead-follow action system, minimizing downtime, while still competing with other well known space opera 4X games such as Twilight Imperium or Eclipse, often in a shorter time frame. This time tested game system keeps improving with each iteration, and Exodus: Chronicles is no exception, keeping the game tight, modern and involving. The Kickstarter for Exodus Chronicles continues through April 12, and the game is expected to ship to backers in April 2020. For more information, check out the live Dice Tower playthrough of Exodus Chronicles here.

Syther Gaming has announced a Kickstarter Campaign for OverBattle: The All War, an absolutely massive wargame-style area control board game where 2-4 players do 4X style battle for domination of the galaxy. In OverBattle, players take control of one of the 4 unique races, spend points to deploy troops and do battle over the planets and moons of the broken Unity. OverBattle comes with a metric tonne of miniatures, dice, crystals, and units (1000+), large modular game mats, and an involving scenario driven cohesive story arc. One of the more interesting parts of the game is the 3D CASy (Combat Assist System) for multi-level resolution of battles. The Kickstarter for OverBattle: The All War continues through April 20, and the game is expected to deliver in July 2019.

At the recent GAMA trade show, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with “Az” Drummond, the Communications and Community Manager for Mythic Games. Az is an incredibly charismatic sort, and the love of Mythic’s games just screams from his very pores, making conversation easy. The next time I am in Ireland, this is a man I need to visit.

The first game we discussed was Solomon Kane, by designer Jake Thornton, successfully Kickstarted in July 2018. Solomon Kane is a story driven game, starring the well known character from Robert E. Howard‘s short stories, a 16th century puritan looking to vanquish evil. Players each take control of one aspect of Kane, playing either his Courage, Temperance, Justice or Prudence, influencing Solomon as he makes choices in his adventures. Games are organized into scenario “Chapters”, 8-10 of which comprise a story arc, known as an Act. The game includes an immense 35 Acts in 14 Adventures. The word count alone on Solomon Kane exceeds 250,000, which comprises the original short stories and new material, including settings in the United States. The game will be a powerhouse of miniatures, with 107 unique sculpts in the 178 miniatures included in the game. The titular Kane alone will have multiple unique figures showing his various trials and tribulations as he progresses through the stories. Mythic Games holds regular “What’s Up Wednesdays” to publicly discuss their games in development, and Solomon Kane in particular has benefited from these. Az states that when Kane delivers it will be easily twice as deep and rich as it was in the Kickstarter, with more stories, more content and more options.

The next game we discussed was the Kickstarter powerhouse Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, which earned almost $2.2 million, and funded in 3 minutes. Kickstarter backers will be excited to hear that wave 1 is shipping this May, with wave 2 following later in the summer. Joan is a story intense game, with multiple scenarios that use strong narrative to emphasize the RPG elements of this miniatures heavy game. Mythic had samples of the miniatures available to see, and before people ask – the dragon was breathtaking. This particular sculpt went through 6 versions before the final was selected, a massively detailed beast with a 54mm wingspan. The scale is so impressive, one can place a standard human mini fully within the dragon’s mouth, and yes, I did just that. Joan is also playable in a skirmish mode, with 2 players selecting armies by point value in order to play a more traditional miniatures game.

Joan of Arc will be also be having a retail release in November. This core set is for 2 players, includes 5 scenarios newly made for retail, and a hand picked 73 miniatures. Az was sure to emphasize that Kickstarter exclusives will remain just that – exclusive, and that Kickstarter backers are guaranteed to receive their games before retail.

The newest game from Mythic shown at GAMA was Super Fantasy Brawl, by designer Jochen Eisenhuth. The rumor is that Jochen presented his game to Mythic in such a complete state that very little had to be refined, other than the final art, and Mythic signed him on the spot. Super Fantasy Brawl (SFB) is a card based miniatures arena combat game, with more than a dozen champions coming in the core game. Players pick 3 champions and shuffle their specific card decks together, creating a team to fight in the arena. Obstacles and arena elements can influence battle, such as pillars of magic which add abilities. SFB uses a beautiful cartoon fantasy style of art, made popular by games such as World of Warcraft. The included characters span all genres of fantasy, and include pirates, samurai, trolls, vampires, werewolves, and more. I even saw an early sketch of an Aztec warrior wielding a blow gun astride a raptor mount, and it looked fantastic. The plan is to bring Super Fantasy Brawl to Kickstarter this summer, followed by retail release, then monthly champion packs starting Q1 2020, each with one miniature and its own deck of 6 cards. For more details, check out Mythic Games’ website on Brawl here.

The award winning tile laying game Glen More by Matthias Cramer has been a classic since its release in 2010. In Glen More, players move their worker around a rondel, picking a tile to place in their growing village. Any tile can be picked from the rondel, although it is always to player in the back who gets the next turn, so farther away tiles mean a longer time until a player’s next turn. When placing a tile, all surrounding tiles activate, generating resources. Finally, a robust market system ties the game together. Unfortunately, Glen More has been difficult to obtain in recent years due to its age and lack of reprints.

Luckily for all of us, Funtails Games has announced a Kickstarter campaign for Glen More II: Chronicles, a labor of love from Cramer and his team, 3 years in development. Matthias Cramer was determined to keep what was great about the original, while adding enough to keep the game current, so the rondel, the tile placement, and the market have stayed. New additions include Person tiles, which befriend you to the neighboring clans, adding extra abilities, and Overbuild tiles which can be placed over existing locations. Finally, the namesake Chronicles are a set of 8 expansions, all fully mix- and match-able, adding almost limitless replayability. The Kickstarter for Glen More II: Chronicles continues through April 11, and the game is expected to deliver in October 2019.

Here is the second and final part of interviews and sneak peeks of what I was able to see at the GAMA Trade Show. Hopefully I’ve saved the best for last.

Frank West, designer of City of Kings, and one heck of a guy, discussed City of Games’ upcoming title Rising Blades, a competitive worker placement / tile placement game with RPG elements. In Rising Blades, players add tiles to a growing map each round, in which they can move, fight monsters and develop their unique asymmetric characters. Expect Rising Blades to hit Kickstarter at the end of the year.

Czech Games Edition (CGE) showed the unique cooperative deduction word game Letter Jam from designer Ondra Skoupý. In Letter Jam, players receive a set of facedown letters delivered from an app, and the goal is to deduce these letters. Each player places one of these cards facing the other players in a style akin to Hanabi, so that you can see everyone’s secret letter except your own. Players then make words with the letters, giving clues as to what other players’ hidden letters may be.

Forbidden Games confirmed an expansion for the popular auction stock market game Raccoon Tycoon by designer Glenn Drover is in the works. The expansion should include a 6th player, more buildings and a new railroad type.

Stephen Buonocore, the evil genius behind Stronghold Games was kind enough to reveal some further details about the 5th and final big expansion to their evergreen hit Terraforming Mars, Terraforming Mars; Turmoil. Turmoil, the only expansion to be released in 2019, will be labeled as an “expert” expansion, meant for more experienced players. In short, this expansion involves politics. Mars has established a Martian Senate, composed of several parties, each with its own agenda. The Red party is interested in keeping Mars pristine and untouched, the Green party wants full terraforming, the Kelvinists want more heat, etc. Players can place delegates, trying to gain control of parties, or even the entire senate. A face-up line of Event Cards show what influences each party will have over the next several turns. Expect Terraforming Mars:Turmoil to hit Kickstarter in April/May.

For years, the most common grail game among gamers, the one game that was the most desired and unattainable, was the infamous Dune (1979) board game from publisher Avalon Hill and designers Bill Eberle, Jack Kitteredge, and Peter Olatka. This classic game involved negotiation, area control, asymmetric player factions in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, and a hidden bid battle system. Dune had not seen a reprint since 1984, excepting a rare French release in 1993. Fantasy Flight released Rex (2012), capturing most of the elements of the Dune game, except for any actual Dune license or content. Last week all of this changed.

Dune had hit a lull of licensing, but recently things got exciting again. A new movie from Legendary Entertainment is due to hit in 2020, and last August, Gale Force 9 announced they had acquired a multi year licensing deal with the Frank Herbert Estate and Legendary Pictures to create Dune board games. Last week at the GAMA trade show, Gale Force 9 announced they were bringing back the classic game Dune, with later twitter confirmation by the designers.

The interesting part of the GF9 presentation was the slide used to show the game. For years, Dune has had an active print and play audience for people wanting to update the board, cards, and components of their old Dune copies. One of the most popular artists was boardgamegeek user Ilya, and it appears GF9 used this art in their presentation. If this is an indication that the official reprint will use this spectacular art, it would make many people very happy, but at this point it is highly speculative.

Tokaido (2012) is one of the most artistically beautiful games that has come out in the past many years, and now Funforge has announced Antione Bauza’s sequel to this masterpiece, Namiji. Like Tokaido, Namiji has players taking a trip, beautifully illustrated again by Xavier Gueniffey Durin, around the board, but this time players are taking a boat through islands, fishing and admiring the sights. Namiji uses the same movement mechanic as its predecessor, wherein the player in last moves as far as they like to an action space. Whale panorama cards replace the paintings from the original, but the rest of the spaces are unique. Shrimping spaces use a push your luck bag draw to gain points. Fishing locations have players flip fish tokens, one for themselves, then one for public draw, looking to build rows or columns of identically shaped or colored fish. A special fishing spot will allow drawing a double tile with two identical fish. Rock spaces give endgame scoring cards, and whirlpools allow players to remove their negative point origami boats, sacrificing them to the gods. Resting dock spaces exist, like in tokaido, but players can take any of the spaces instead of just the first. In addition, cards earned at the dock give a bonus to specific actions taken later. Look for Namiji in stores later in the year, and for more information, check out the press release for Namiji here.

Board game enthusiasts rejoice, for we will likely have a main stream television show all to our own. Producer/Director/Actor Travis Oates has been sneaking around behind the scenes for the past 9 months creating a television series called Above Board, targeted to hit one of the popular streaming services we all love so well. According to Travis (who, by the way, is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met), the show has elements of the popular car show Top Gear, combining real love of board games with comedic parody, and Daily Show type tongue-in-cheek interviews. Already included in the show are board game designers Jamey Stegmaier, Stefan Feld, and Dr. Reiner Knizia, companies like Broken Token, publishers Michael Coe of Gamelyn Games and Paul Saxberg from Roxely Game Laboratories. But wait, there’s more – celebrity guests, and a regular segment by our own Tom Vasel. Six episodes are under construction now, hopefully with many more planned. I was lucky enough to screen some clips, and found the humor witty and sarcastic without dumbing down the content. Keep an eye out for this exciting initial foray of our hobby into mainstream media.

I was lucky enough to be able to prowl around the GAMA trade show this past week, and have collected some early stories from some of the designers and publishers present. So without further delay, here are some of the stories I found interesting at GAMA.

Designer Keith Matejka talked about Fiends & Familiars, the next expansion for Thunderworks Games popular dice placement game Roll Player. Fiends are small cards attached to the initiative row, which give players a disadvantage when taking the more prized positions, but can be banished by using charisma tokens. Familiars give players 3 more spaces for dice placement, and unique player powers. Also in the expansion are two colored dice, very flexible in placement but only showing up to 4 pips. The Kickstarter for Fiends and Familiars is scheduled for Summer of 2019.

Breaking Games showed off Dwellings of Eldervale by designer Luke Laurie, a complex worker placement engine building game with unique player powers, miniatures, resource collection and card play. Special workers can be earned, and monsters on the board can be a source of both conflict and reward. Dwellings also includes a mechanism allowing players to have a worker “settle down”, and create a permanent dwelling on the board, represented by placing a great roof piece on the meeple. This worker is now lost to the player, but generates unique resources and abilities. Dwellings of Eldervale is expected to come to Kickstarter this summer.

I was able to look at a new, as yet unnamed, variation on an escape room game from the geniuses at Cranio Creations (Newton, Lorenzo Il Magnifico). The game is composed of a cardboard box frame, the size of a standard square board game box. Cards slot into the top of the box. The sides of the box have open windows to peer down, through which one can see the cards, revealing objects and clues. An app tells the player how these objects relate to the story, and how to react – is. Remove a certain card, peer down a certain hall. Look for this innovative puzzle from Cranio in the coming year.

Smirk and Dagger games founder Curt Covert discussed the Cutthroat Caverns Anniversary edition coming this August. The new edition will include the core set with new art and tighter rules, but will be fully compatible with the rest of this classic game. Concurrent with the new release will be the digital Cutthroat Caverns app, which includes several AI opponents, each with their own evil agenda.

Stayed tuned for the second half of breaking GAMA news coming soon.