Mike Austin

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Mike is a graduate from Indiana University turned freelance writer and activist gaming enthusiast. He spends his free time discussing news and game design, watching youtube, and entertaining friends and his cat, Cicero. Mike can be reached by e-mail at mikeoflore@gmail.com or on Board Game Geek via the username Noblegrizzly.

Update: Originally this article reported that this International Edition would be an improved version of the original available everywhere. This is not the case, as told by Ravensburger the International Edition will be it’s own product under the new name El Dorado distributed only in regions outside of Ravensburger’s current reach. This has been corrected below.

Prolific and renowned designer Dr. Reiner Knizia announced via twitter that his hit deck-building design, The Quest for El Dorado, will be getting an International Edition. It will be distributed under the new name El Dorado later this year in regions Ravensburger does not currently serve and will have all new art by Vincent Dutrait featured on large format cards. Understandably there were many concerns about whether this would cause compatibility issues with future expansions and those concerns were quickly addressed. The new International Edition will stand apart from the English version of the game and will not interfere with expansion content that is still planned for release from Ravensburger. As tweeted by Ravensburger:

“This international edition of the base game will not be published by Ravensburger, but by other publishers selling into areas we do not cover. Future Ravensburger expansions will be compatible with the Ravensburger base game.”

The Quest for El Dorado is a deck-building racing game where 2-to-4 adventurers cut through thick, unexplored jungle to reach the legendary city. Each turn players will buy more cards that will help their deck run more efficiently, make travel across specific terrain types easier, or help with buying even better cards. The game made such a splash when it released in 2017 that it already has one expansion, adding heroes and hexes, and there’s a standalone expansion is on the way. It’s easy to see, from the pedigree and it’s following, why El Dorado deserves wider distribution and it will be awesome to see this on shelves in many more countries by the end of the year.

Backers of the previous The 7th Continent Kickstarter, and it’s expansion, have been receiving their rewards over the past month, and the creators at Serious Poulp have wasted no time in planning ahead for the system and world they’ve brought to life. For those who missed out on this last campaign and would still like to buy an exclusive copy, they confirmed that stock will be available while supplies last after they’ve completed their inventory in mid-July. Also, excitingly still, there will be a Classic Edition available from their online store in Q4 of this year, which will be a smaller box containing most of the original’s content sans Kickstarter extras (some of which will be sold separately). If all that wasn’t enough, they also announced an all new game on the horizon set in the same universe – The 7th Citdael.

“The 7th Continent adventure is coming to an end… but our desire to keep exploring and pushing all the possibilities offered by this system is not. Therefore, in parallel to following-up the end of production, we’ve started working on a new game based on the same system. […] The 7th Citadel will take place in a new unique “Dark Fantasy” world whose gameplay will be significantly enhanced compared to that of The 7th Continent.”

A Kickstarter campaign for this new title will be coming in 2020, with previews to be shared this fall. The teaser image alone is awesome enough to make waves as I’m sure there’s many details that didn’t escape notice nor hype. Most notably is how the tag line compares to the original – It’s identical except for having replaced the word “Survive” with “Build”, implying a much different shift in the backbone of the game than it’s predecessor. For more information about The 7th Continent, the upcoming Classic Edition, and the announcement of The 7th Citadel, look no further than the announcement titled “The Future” and that page’s comments and feedback.

A new distribution agreement has been struck to bring Horrible Games’ titles to the U.S. and Canada. The Italian-based publisher will have all games for the foreseeable future brought to North America by Canada-based publisher and distributor Luma Games. Horrible Games to be carried by this deal include hits like Potion Explosion, Dragon Castle, and Railroad Ink, but this will also include all future titles from the publisher as well. This is a mutually beneficial deal which will see more exposure for both companies across North America.

“Under the new agreement, Luma will distribute all our upcoming games, including Similo and The King’s Dilemma, and take over distribution of backlist games such as Potion Explosion, Dragon Castle, and Railroad Ink as existing stock sells down and new printings are done. Luma will also handle retail and event support for our catalog.”

Keen observers will notice that this is a huge boon for Horrible Games as Luma is taking over the exact same capacity that CMON did for all of their current catalog. While CMON will no longer be distributing the above-mentioned titles after the stock sells, the prolific publisher already has a release schedule and brand presence that is strong on it’s own. On the other hand, Luma has only been able to distribute a select few titles, such as Museum and Memoarrr!, and this partnership will surely escalate their outreach and footprint in the states through Horrible Games’ existing excellent catalog. If you’re interested in reading more about this distribution agreement, or want to learn more about Horrible Games or Luma Games, check out their websites for their own news posts and products.

If you or anyone you know has ever wanted a tabletop-themed shirt with a more sophisticated look, you need not look much further than Shirts by Shurts – embroidered polo shirts for gamers! While creator Garrick Shurts has been producing these for awhile now, they are back on Kickstarter with the inclusion of children’s sizes. Now game-loving kids in your life can sport a fresh ensemble with a polo that they can be fond of. All shirts are available in a variety of styles and colors, so even if you’re more interested in role-playing games or Cthulhu there’s something for you here.

“After 2 successful campaigns and numerous designs and colors, almost 1000 Shirts by Shurts polos are being worn all over the world.  I wear one to work at least once a week. And now I’m back because my kids wanted in on the action.  They wanted shirts just like Dad has.  So now the junior gamers in your life can look just as good as you do.”

Working in a professional environment in my day-to-day, I absolutely see the value in polo shirts that have more personality to them. Most nerdy or “gamer-themed” shirts are short-sleeved tees that just don’t work in the office environments I’m used to. This is a great time to fill that niche, or for the kid in your life that struggles to get dressed for picture day. If you’re interested in learning more about Shirts by Shurts, check out the new Kickstarter for more photos and a full list of sizes, styles, and colors.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Space Invaders, the officially licensed board game is on Kickstarter. This is the real deal, unlike a few other games in past years that have tried to replicate the same feel of the arcade cabinet. 2 to 4 players will move their cannon and shoot aliens competing for points in this deck-building-driven adaptation. Shooting aliens gives you upgrades, bunkers protect you from retaliation, and the player with the highest score at the end of it all will be deemed the best moon defender.

“As long time fans of tabletop games and electronic games alike, we were astounded that, during all this time, nobody had yet developed a genuine SPACE INVADERS board game. […] Our primary goal is to create a fantastic board game experience while remaining true to the original game’s visual presentation and atmosphere.”

While this isn’t an average video-game adaptation, it’s not an average deck-building game either. Really this is as thoughtfully produced and designed as modern board games get, and I justify that statement based on the excellent 8-bit graphic design, the appropriately-jagged components (especially the translucent deluxe edition pieces), and the palpable sense of fun from seeing waves of enemies get wrecked in demonstration. At the time of writing this the project has already funded and is already working towards stretch goals for both it’s standard and deluxe editions, and there’s a commemorative diorama available for purchase for super fans of the arcade classic. If you’re interested in learning more about Space Invaders – The Board Game, check out the Kickstarter page for more images, rules, and updates.

In an interesting turn of events, a popular card game is getting a subsequent board game version instead of vice versa as is typically the trend. Space Race, now on Kickstarter, is a more fleshed out version of it’s predecessor with more cards, a premium table presence thanks to it’s components, and more robust strategies. The gameplay is similar to what fans of the card game already know – this is a simultaneous action selection game where the actions to choose from dwindle over time as players compete for cards and points. What separates the two beyond the obvious physical differences is that scoring happens more often in the new one, changing how important breakthroughs are in comparison.

“Space Race is a unique engine-building strategy game for 1-4 players (5 with the Deluxe Bundle). You become a director of a newly formed Space Agency and your mission is simple: lead your country onto the pages of history as the nation that has conquered the Universe! Hire astronauts and scientists, develop technologies, initiate space programs, and celebrate astonishing breakthroughs.”

While this is a big step from it’s previous card game version, the same typical dynamic applies – one is a lighter game with a much smaller footprint while the other is the opposite. That said this new Kickstarter doesn’t so much reduce it’s predecessor as much as it embellishes it, and that’s a great thing for a game that really deserves attention drawn to it’s excellent core mechanic. There’s even two expansions on offer during this campaign that add more cards, projects, and rocket miniatures modeled after historical space-faring designs. If you’re interested in learning more about Space Race, check out the Kickstarter crowdfunding page to read the full rules, watch reviews, and see community feedback and updates.

The day has come, the final two decks have been released for the popular living card game Ashes: Rise of the PhoenixbornThe Grave King and The Protector of Argaia join the ranks of the other deck archetypes. With these last two marks the end of the series as we know it, as these Phoenixborn complete the remaining combinations of dice among the six schools of magic within the game. The story has finished, the game has been rounded out, and the end of the era is here, but Plaid Hat is very proud of this long-running LCG and has a proper send-off in mind. Along with these last two decks is the announcement of a reprint of the base game and one final tournament to rule them all.

“To celebrate all that Ashes has given our studio and fans, we’ve organized to have one last no-holds-barred tournament here in Dallas, Texas. In association with Common Ground Games, we are pleased to announce that the Ashes Complete Your Collection Tournament will take place on Saturday, June 22nd from 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. There will be participation prizes including one limited edition neoprene playmat for each participant, as well as several all-new alt-art Phoenixborn cards. The winner will receive one playmat for each of the original seven Phoenixborn as well as an Ashes poster signed by designer Isaac Vega himself.”

To participant in this tournament, there is a survey you must complete which is a fine investment for the chance to be a part of the history of this game. Collectors of this series can finally complete their collections by buying these decks right now through Plaid Hat’s website or by waiting a few days to pick them up from their favorite retailer. It may be a bittersweet end to the series for some, but it an ideal one that Plaid Hat has prepared for knowing this is the best time to do it. If you are interested in learning more, check out the release on Plaid Hat’s website for details about these new decks, the tournament, and future related announcements.

Great news for all – Ares Games will be bringing Ludus Magnus Studio’s games to worldwide distribution with English language support. This partnership will begin with the retail edition of the huge Kickstarter success, Black Rose Wars. This mage vs mage battle royale for 2 to 4 players, designed by Marco Montanaro, features some of the highest quality miniatures in the market and is just the sort of excellent product to be paired with Ares Games’ outreach. While this new version of Black Rose Wars will be different from the one backers received, mostly to fit a better price point, it’s gameplay will remain intact.

We love what Ludus Magnus Studio is doing– their games have amazing gameplay value and beautiful components. This young and energetic studio was very successful on Kickstarter, but their creations deserve to reach an even wider audience, and we will work together to make this possible,” said Roberto Di Meglio, Director of R&D of Ares Games.

Ares Games will also be distributing the retail version of Ludus Magnus’ current Kickstarter project, Dungeonology. Designed by Diego Fonseca and Danilo Guidi, this game flips dungeon crawling on it’s head by posing players as scholars who are studying the dungeon and it’s inhabitants rather than ransacking it. As of writing this, it has already been funded six times over proving that it’s novel concept is worth the look. If you’d like to learn more about Ludus Magnus Studio’s games, or more about this partnership, check out both companies websites for all current projects, details, and updates.

There’s a new Vampire: The Masquerade board game that will seek crowdfunding in June and it’s literally too big not to share. That’s because it’s a MegaGame – an appropriate name for such a large-scale thing, typically involving more than ten people split into teams around multiple tables or rooms. Publisher Everything Epic and designer Ben Kanelos want to bring that kind of experience to board gaming for ease of approach and faster play. Vampire: The Masquerade – Blood Feud, coming to Kickstarter, will allow 4 to 32 people to play as vampires or humans within teams, each with different abilities and group-dependent goals involving politics, diplomacy, trade, and combat across a big city map.

“Blood Feud uses a large room or two separate rooms with 2-4 tables. One game table features the Cityscape and Orders, the map where players move their forces around the city and order them to fight and take control of important territories. The other game table features the Council and Market where players use their best diplomatic and resource management skills to make sly trades, buy upgrades and player level-ups, as well as make large political decisions that will shape the destinies of teams to determine whether they win or lose!”

Some might read the above two paragraphs and think, “What makes this so different from Werewolf, really?” After all, they’re both occult/horror themed games of intrigue for large groups of people, right? That would be neglecting a huge part of what makes a MegaGame so fun and unique. It’s not just that it’s built for a huge group of people, but that it’s got so many points of interactivity that it feels more akin to live action role-playing with layers of decision-making and sudden consequences for every action and inaction.

This publisher and designer both realize the prohibitive nature of MegaGames (their difficulty in organizing) and what makes them great, so it’s fantastic that they’re bringing this in a more manageable format for our hobby to truly appreciate. Moreover, the history and nature of the Vampire: The Masquerade setting lends itself to negotiation, strong-arming, and role-playing. It’s a perfect theme to use as an entry point for a game this ambitious. If you’re interested in learning more about Vampire: The Masquerade – Blood Feud, check out the Everything Epic website for more information and be on the lookout for it on Kickstarter this June.

If you’ve ever liked low-budget films, have you also every wondered how fun it would be to make them? There’s a carefree joy to them that’s infectious. Movie Empire, designed by Karsten Schulmann and featuring art by Allan Ohr, reminds me a lot of that, and it’s now on Kickstarter. If you’ve every actually wanted to try your hand at making B-movies, or if you just like classic movies tropes and worker placement games, this project will be worth the look.

“Movie Empire is a mix of worker placement and set collection for 1-4 players. And as Hollywood is a shark tank, you have 2 styles of play with the (completely optional!) black dossier variant, that adds a take that mechanic to the gameplay. Let the clubbing and stabbing commence!”

Mechanically speaking, it’s built on solid tried-and-true mechanisms and proudly lacks an auction mechanic, so that alone is attractive to particular tastes. However, it’s not just all that wrapped up in a fun theme – It’s got a solo mode and optional variants too! The illustrations are fun and spoofy, so there’s a lot here to like. Seeing that this game has already reached it’s funding goal, there’s more than enough people who agree with me! If you would like to learn more about Movie empire, check out it’s Kickstarter page for more information, rules, FAQs, community feedback, and updates.