Matt Kiser

My favorite games tend to be those that employ worker placement, engine building, and deck building, primarily because they provide strategic depth and interesting choices. I also enjoy teaching games to others; I'm a teacher (English as a Second Language and Russian) by profession, so it comes naturally. I've been known to read board game rule books for fun.

Hot on the heels of a Kickstarter campaign that will see The Reckoners board game hitting retail stores this fall, Brandon Sanderson has announced that his Stormlight Archive novel series will be the basis of an upcoming card game using the Call to Adventure game system.

The Stormlight Archive is a series of epic fantasy novels written by Brandon Sanderson, author of The Reckoners and Mistborn series. Three of the planned 10 novels have been published and are set in Sanderson’s Cosmere universe.

Call to Adventure: Stormlight will be released by Brotherwise Games in the fall of 2019, according to Sanderson. The system on which this card-driven “hero-crafting” game will be based is Call to Adventure, now on Kickstarter, which allows players to choose their path and achieve their destiny. Acquiring traits for your hero and facing challenges alongside your allies will be interwoven into an epic storytelling experience that isn’t just about victory points, although those are important, too. The Call to Adventure system is designed by Chris and Johnny O’Neal, who also created Boss Monster, a card-game homage to classic 8-bit side-scrolling video games. Visit the Dice Tower for a How to Play Call to Adventure in 5 Minutes video by the Rules Girl.

Brandon Sanderson posted the following in a Facebook announcement of the game:

“The team here at Dragonsteel have had a chance to play and really enjoyed it. It’s a fun game with unique mechanics and beautiful art. The Call to Adventure base game is inspired by classic fantasy tropes, but the Stormlight version will feature all-new cards that bring Roshar to life.”

Random factoid: Brandon Sanderson intended his Cosmere universe to be a “hidden epic,” where multiple fantasy novel series would be connected together through a shared cosmos based on the same rules of magic. The reality that his novels shared a universe was supposed to be clouded in mystery for years until the similarities began to come together as more and more books appeared. However, he credits his enthusiastic readers with figuring things out by the time his second book was published.

There’s another crisis in the DC Deck-Building universe, and the Teen Titans are responding to the call!

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products have announced release dates for the upcoming Crisis Expansion Pack 4 for the DC Deck-Building Game. The expansion will be available as a limited release at Gen Con, August 2-5, while the retail release will follow closely on August 8, 2018.

Crisis expansions for the DC Deck-Building Game can be combined with any base set to provide additional gameplay elements, including a cooperative mode, new keywords, and fresh mechanics. Crisis Expansion 4 focuses on DC’s Teen Titans, a team of younger heroes, as well as the Titans, original Teen Titans who’ve grown up. “Unity” is a new keyword in the set that encourages teamwork, benefiting from Ongoing Unity cards that your teammates have in play. The emphasis on teamwork is strengthened by Personal Crisis cards that affect only one player, but could threaten to bring down the entire team if not dealt with collectively.

Crisis Expansion Pack 4 is for 1-5 players, ages 15 & up, with a playtime of 60-120 minutes. The set was designed by Matt Dunn and Richard Brady, and requires a copy of the DC Deck-Building Game, or one of the other base sets (Heroes Unite, Forever Evil, or Teen Titans), to play.

The expansion contains 32 main deck cards, 12 Personal Crisis cards, 13 Super-Villains, and 14 oversized Super Heroes. The 8 Crisis Super Heroes showcase Teen Titans like Raven and Superboy, while the 6 non-Crisis Super Heroes feature the Titans: Nightwing, The Flash, Donna Troy, Arsenal, Omen, and Tempest.

If you are attending Gen Con, Cryptozoic’s booth (#601) will have limited quantities available for sale before the retail release on August 8.

Random factoid: the Teen Titans lineup (Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, and Raven) made popular by the 2003-2006 animated series is quite different from the earlier comics incarnation (Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl) of the Teen Titans in the 1960s.

Twenty-five years ago, Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs to life before our eyes with revolutionary visual effects in the original Jurassic Park. To celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary, MONDO is releasing Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene, an asymmetrical board game for 2-4 players, ages 14 & up.

Players of The Chaos Gene can choose from 4 different factions, each having unique play-styles and win conditions: Raptors, Tyrannosaurus Rex, InGen, and Park Visitors. The Raptors rely on their cunning and stealth to attack humans and other animals in the park. The T-Rex is loud and fast, rushing towards completing its own objectives. InGen must manage resources to keep the park up and running, despite the chaos wrought by the dinos. Finally, the Park Visitors bring unique character skills and potent faction abilities to the table, navigating the park’s dangers to accomplish their goals. The game comes with multiple scenarios and features modular environment tiles, which coupled with the asymmetrical faction options, should provide quite a bit of replayability.

MONDO’s lead game scientist, Luke Byers, spearheaded the development team for the game, which features the artwork of Matthew Woodson.

You can sign up for updates on the game’s website, with an expected release in fall of 2018.

For those attending San Diego Comic-Con, MONDO is offering opportunities to grab one of four Jurassic Park patches by visiting their booth (#435).

Random factoid: known for revolutionizing visual effects and CGI movie magic, Jurassic Park only contains about 14 minutes of dinosaur-related visual effects. And a whopping 4 minutes of those were computer-generated.

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.

–from Sonnet 130, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s sonnets 127-154 describe a love for a mysterious woman, named the Dark Lady by literary historians. These scholars have speculated about the identity of this woman for 400 years. In Black Sonata, available now on Kickstarter from Side Room Games, players are given the opportunity to explore this historical mystery themselves and seek out the true name of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.

Black Sonata is a game of “solitaire hidden movement and deduction” for 1 player, aged 14+, and takes 30 minutes to play. The setting is London, England, during the time of William Shakespeare, where the solo player will be pursuing the shadowy Dark Lady across a map of the city. Her movements are controlled by a stealth deck, which is arranged during setup according to sequences that can yield 56 possible paths, providing plenty of variability and replayability. Using unique keyhole cards to investigate the locations you suspect she’s been to, you’ll begin to glimpse traits and characteristics that allow you to home in on the true identity of the Dark Lady.

The game has garnered high praise already, with a number of positive reviews linked on the Kickstarter page, and was even nominated for a 2017 Golden Geek Award in the Print & Play category. The campaign runs through July 1, 2018, and still has a number of stretch goals waiting to be unlocked.

It’s a great time to be a solo gamer! With the rise of solo modes supported in multiplayer games, and a proliferation of quality solo-only games, like Black Sonata, the options are extensive and exciting.

Random factoid: a handful of scholars don’t believe that Shakespeare actually wrote his works solo, but argue that he was part of a group of writers that collectively produced the oeuvre attributed to Shakespeare.