Dice Tower Newsletter

Mike Austin

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.

Back in November, I wrote about Defiant Development working with Rule & Make to create a board game adaptation of their hit video game, Hand of Fate. Well, it’s finally here on Kickstarter! Hand of Fate: Ordeals is the official board game adaptation of the popular deck-building adventure game found on consoles and PC. 1 to 4 players can either compete or cooperate to build up their heroes, explore strange locations, encounter traps, and combat fierce enemies for fame. As described via it’s press release:

 “Hand of Fate: Ordeals is a strategic dungeon-crawling and deck-building experience set between the original game and its upcoming sequel. […] Players draw from a deck of cards and build dungeons on the board from their inventory. Much like its digital counterparts, the tabletop game’s open-ended design ensures no two games ever play out the same way.”

I mused before about what this game could possibly look like, since not everything from the video game could translate well to the tabletop. We now have more than enough information to answer those curiosities. Ordeals is incredibly flexible with player counts and game modes, and smooths the difficulties of transition by embracing it’s deck-building roots more than the original did. For those unfamiliar with the video game, the deck-building was  only used to create a communal deck where you could choose your boons, burdens, and any equipment you could buy or be gifted. While the board game doesn’t abandon that concept, it interestingly shifts most of the deck-building to a starting set of 10 cards that many board gamers are familiar with.

The deck-building in Ordeals isn’t run-of-the-mill, however, since buying cards requires you to explore and risk running into dangers, each of which involves most of the cards in your deck and not just your hand. The combat and the character building is pretty unique and what this game offers is very impressive, but you can find out more about that on their campaign page where they have a few videos and a rough draft rule-book to discover. For fans of Hand of Fate, this product has a lot that we could have wished for from the same excellent art to a promising, immersive experience. So if you’re interested, please check out the Kickstarter page and keep an eye on Defiant Development’s website for further information.

From Brotherwise Games, the creators of Boss Monster, comes a new dice placement game – Unearth. 2-4 players will control a team of delvers represented by 5 dice and place them on resources or ruins to uncover ancient cities or build new wonders, competing to be the best at reclaiming a lost era. The game features beautiful isometric artwork with adorable characters, an easy-to-teach 16 page rule book, and enough space in the box to sleeve all the cards if you want! More details via the press release:

 “Players take turns rolling dice to claim Ruins, using Delver Cards to enhance their efforts. High rolls help players claim Ruins to earn points. Low rolls allow players to uncover Stones, used to rebuild ancient Wonders that grant special abilities. Ruins and Wonders can each help you win, but players must decide how to balance these two paths to victory.”

It’s an excellently put together product that looks delightful. The artwork is charming, I especially enjoy how the D8 represents the “leader’s” crystal on his staff, and the D6s represent the heads of the workers hammers. The gameplay and rules as described give a distinct impression of a gateway game to the dice placement genre (which is my favorite genre, so I welcome it), but with two paths to victory which is equally appreciated. If you’re interested in Unearth, look out for it at Gen Con 2017 and at your local retailer on August 17th, and be sure to check out brotherwisegames.com around June 12th for more news concerning this game.

Welcome to the brutal world of underground fantasy monster fighting! In Underleague, 2 to 5 players play play breeders and handlers of dark dungeon denizens and pit their creatures against each other…and bet on the winners! Equip your team and play strategy cards to manipulate combat in your favor, or at least the favor of your bet. Now available on Kickstarter from Cogwright Games, the game features fantastic card art and enough strategy and variability to keep the game fresh and exciting. As described via press release:

“Underleague is a combat-based card game – but unlike many games in this genre, it doesn’t require a ‘lifestyle’ commitment to enjoy. The rules can be learnt and taught quickly even by those with no experience playing card games, and the pre-built decks in the box provide a huge amount of replayability.”

Fantasy creatures and underground fight clubs are not exactly new themes on their own, but Underleague earns it’s merits for combining the two in such a way that feels more fresh than a dungeon crawl or another wizard-vs-wizard game. The game certainly flirts within familiar Magic: The Gathering territory a lot, but the flavor, gambling, and bluffing set it worlds apart. If you are interested, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page for more details, images, videos, and the chance to support this campaign.

It’s safe to say that all of us here at The Dice Tower and Dice Tower News are fans of dice and I’m sure most of us have a favorite set hiding somewhere. I have a cobalt and black set, which reminds me of thunderstorms, that I’m very fond of. For gamers on the go, or those looking for some extra panache to their favorite gaming accessories, this Kickstarter is for you. Critit Dice Safes are hand-made wooden trays, fully customizable by wood, felt, engraving, and even feet if you want! As described on the campaign page:

“We all have that special set of dice…..maybe they were expensive, maybe your first set….maybe your only set! but what ever the reason you can be sure presenting them in these hardwood cases will make you the envy of your friends on game night…and who wouldn’t want that?”

Even if you’re not interested in dice cases, per say, there are other beautiful items available, including embroidered bags and coasters. All of the funds from the Kickstarter go to help creator and carpenter Dominic Marriott acquire better tools for his trade and hopefully start his own specialized RPG accessory store. There’s not much time left for the campaign, but we here at Dice Tower News want to give a shout-out to Dominic and his lovely work and hope we can spread the word and support. If you’re interested, please visit the campaign page and look over all of the wonderful options you can add to your gaming gear and, even after the Kickstarter has ended, be sure to check out critit.co.uk for more.

Coming soon from Looney Labs is a version of Fluxx you may have wondered why it didn’t exist already – Chemistry Fluxx. The newest entry to the series takes it’s propensity for educational, or at the very least informational, cards and themes them with elements and compounds. Definitely better than flash cards you’d have made to study up for a high school exam, this new set will add an introduction to the periodic table and how elements interact with each other while players attempt to bend the rules to favor their winning hand. As explained in the Looney Labs press release:

 “Chemistry Fluxx® is the elemental car game where the rules are always changing. Use atoms and laboratory gear to match the current Goal and win! Chemistry Fluxx® is the perfect compound of chance and skill, where you’ll not only be playing with elements and molecules, but you’ll also be learning about them! Chemistry Fluxx® is so much fun you’ll be playing it more than periodically.”

Honestly Chemistry Fluxx just seems like a no-brainer, for too many reasons and puns to count. For someone who wasn’t too great at learning the periodic table the first time around, I might have appreciated this version much more in my adolescence. Still, it’s never too late to learn more about science and the fundamental building blocks of our universe. If you’re interested, Chemistry Fluxx is set to release on May 25th and if you want see more titles from the education line (such as Math or Foreign Languages), please visit their web catalog for it and other varieties of the ever-expanding card game.

One of the most exciting and memorable events for Gen Con attendees during the past 14 years has been True Dungeon. This live-action role-playing experience allows teams of players to tackle challenging stories, puzzles, and NPCs with cunning, dexterity, and sometimes appropriately luck. While True Dungeon has certainly grown to offer new scenarios each year, it has also started to branch out to other locations throughout the United States and this year will be the events first time at Origins Game Fair. As stated in their press release:

 “At Origins 2017, True Dungeon will be offering two completely different two-hour, live-action D&D events that will immerse players in adventures featuring amazing sets, animatronic monsters, costumed NPCs and high-quality props.  The two adventures have sequential background stories, but they can be played in any order and enjoyed.”

This is a great opportunity for Origins attendees to get in on the remarkable action, and for dungeoneering veterans this is an excellent opportunity to get their hands on 2017 loot tokens before the main event at Gen Con 50. Origins 2017 will take place June 14-18 and is already shaping up to be a convention to look forward to. Be sure to follow the Origins website for more information and announcements, and visit the True Dungeon website itself for more information on other 2017 events, loot tokens, and more.

Press-your-luck is a very fun mechanism in board gaming, giving the thrill of gambling without any of the life-changing consequences. There’s a lot of themes that have worked with it over the years, from games about nurturing magical forests to parties of people trying to travel by aircraft. So how about a game that wants you to race your friends and family to the peak of a mountain inhabited by yetis? The risk and fun sell themselves in Dicey Peaks by Scott Almes (of Tiny Epic fame), a game for 2-6 players now on Kickstarter. Here’s the pitch from the campaign page:

 “Racing to the fabled flag atop Yeti Mountain, players take turns rolling dice and skillfully choosing whether to climb or rest. As you advance, you’ll reveal tiles that can help or hinder your progress. Avoid avalanches and watch out for the Yetis… for when they attack, you might lose more than just your turn!”

The big draw of this family-style game is that unlike many other push-your luck games, Dicey Peaks mixes resource management with risk management because here you can “bust” (or lose your turn) in multiple ways. You can always end up with your hands in your pockets by rolling too much of a bad symbol on the dice, but you can also yield your turn by rolling too much of a good thing. Then there are yetis who, while being a terrible danger when resting on your laurels, are also a heck of a motivator for your friends you’ve left behind, working as a sort of catch-up mechanic for opponents who haven’t fared well with the luck of the dice. So if you’re interested in Dicey Peaks, be sure to check out their campaign page to watch the excellent how-to-play video and to peruse updates as the project nears it’s funding goal.

Aeon’s End, from Action Phase Games, found fast popularity in 2016 as an excellent co-op deck-building game. Now it has a standalone expansion on the way which has surpassed it’s funding on Kickstarter. War Eternal adds a variety of similar, but different, content including new mages, new nemeses, and a bunch of cards. There’s also a healthy amount of extra content available, including a small expansion, The Void, an accessory pack, and an upgrade pack for the original game. As described via the campaign page:

 “Featuring a number of innovative mechanisms, including a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of an attack and deck management rules that require careful planning, War Eternal can be played alone or combined with other Aeon’s End content for a game experience like no other. “

Like all deck-building games, Aeon’s End will not shy away from more cards to keep the game fresh, but the dynamic use of nemeses and their respective cards means that any additional content will have inherently more mileage than typical expansions within the genre. Fans of the game have a lot of incentive to back the project now, given the very welcome accessory pack and the upgrade kit. Even if you don’t own the original game, the standalone nature of War Eternal gives an easy and attractive entry point for anyone interested in a new and well-received cooperative experience. For more information, visit the campaign page and keep tabs on the ever growing list of unlocked stretch goals and updates.

Conan the Barbarian, the Cimmerian, has seen a huge resurgence lately in both video and board gaming since the release of Conan Exiles and Conan respectively. The latter, having only been released a handful of months ago, now has a cool new expansion coming the second quarter of 2017. Nordheim will take players to the frozen north, where Aesir and Vanir hang out with giants who make a living being menacing and prone to smashing things. As described by Asmodee on their product page:

 “Through four scenarios deeply inspired by Robert E. Howard’s short story, The Frost-Giant’s Daughter, you and your friends will battle atop snowy, blood-drenched fields; cross swords with giants; and travel snow-covered forests in pursuit of the legendary Frost-Giant’s daughter.”

The expansion comes with 24 miniatures, a double sided-game board, a scenario book, and more cards, tiles, and tokens. A new dual-weilding hero is also included to partner with Conan as he charges headlong into more hordes and perils. All of that looks to be quality ice-ing on the cake for fans of the dauntless barbarian.  Plus, what game this year hasn’t been improved by the inclusion of vikings? Be sure to visit the product entries on Asmodee’s site for more information on this expansion and future Conan products.

While I can’t imagine the size of a Ouija board being a hotly contested record to best, it has been done by film-maker and novelist Blair Murphy, his family, and the help of several artists on the roof of the Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Pennsylvania. As reported by Guinness World Records, the outstanding work measures 1,302.54 square feet and is visible in Google Maps. The more interesting parts of this story as written by Guinness isn’t just the feat itself. Instead, what’s more fascinating are the people who accomplished it and why.

Blair Murphy had purchased the hotel, which had already been documented as a haunted site, and now lives inside it with his girlfriend and newborn daughter. The hotel has also hosted many invite-only guests, as it serves well as a place of artistic inspiration and a hotspot for heebie-jeebies. After having some residents among the living, the paranormal activity of the place began to wind down. That was, until, Murphy and his girlfriend bought a Hasbro-brand Ouija board in an attempt to rile up some ghosts. As they described it:

 “Things flipped out throughout the hotel.  Energies were swirling.  Guests were getting completely freaked out, it seemed to kick things up into an entire new level of paranormal activity.  We were seeing floating people and hearing voices and even the hotel pets were flipping out and reacting to unseen forces. Our dreams were pretty wild.  And it wasn’t just us.”

So the next step, of course, was to paint a giant Ouija board on the roof. The world’s biggest one. I must interject that I’ve seen enough horror films in my lifetime to assert that doing so may not have been adviseable. To Blair Murphy, however, it has been (by their own words) an ongoing, romantic adventure. Being a world record holder is a point of gracious accomplishment by Murphy and company, and their story is definitely inspiring. To read more, check out the write-up by Guiness World Records and be sure to visit the Grand Midway Hotel website where you can find details on all it’s ghostly properties.