board game

There is an endless war between the celestials of Heaven and Hell, and the only way to stop it is to unite the forces of the dead in the Underworld to defeat the celestials restore balance in the universe and accomplish your own ulterior motives in the process.  In Court of the Dead: Mourners Call, players are Mourners, an allegiant of Death, seeking to gain influence among the three factions – Bone, Flesh, and Spirit – and gain control of the strongholds and guilds in the Underworld.  Players will need to spend Elthera, a power within mortal souls, to build their influence among the factions, but Elthera is also needed to pay tribute to the celestials. Mismanaging the Elthera risks arousing the suspicions of celestials and invoking the Dreadsgrip, a destructive force that may weaken a Mourner’s influence in the Underworld.  Meanwhile, Death has a few tasks he needs his Mourners to accomplish. The game is a balance of cooperation and hidden objectives, area control and condition management.  The player who contributes the most to the goals of the Underworld wins and serve as Death’s right hand in the conflict with the celestials.

Court of the Dead is a new rich and immersive setting developed by Project Raygun, a designer collectibles division under USAopoly. The world in the Court of the Dead has undergone development over the past couple of years.  As Project Raygun developed the world, they created history, storylines, central figures in the world.  Large vinyl statues were built to bring the central characters to life.  Numerous comics and graphic novels told stories about the world.  More about this world of the Court of the Dead can be found here.

Court of the Dead: Mourners Call plays 2-5 players, ages 14+ in about 90 minutes. Contents include Game Board, 48 Guild Figures, 1 Death Figure, 1 Malavestros Figure, 40 Guild Mover Bases, 14 Court Cards, 27 Mourner Cards, 36 Wallows Cards, 12 Objective Cards, 4 Reference Cards, 4 Player Boards,    50 Etherea Pieces, 45 Unity Tokens, 12 Faction Tokens, 1 Dreadsbane Token, 24 Wooden Trackers, 14 Tracker Pieces, 4 Dice, and Rules.  The game is available for preorder now or look for the game in your friendly local game store in August 2019.

Era of Tribes is a civilization themed, strategy game for 2-4 players (aged 14+), based around an asymmetric worker placement mechanism. The game is set in Europe during the Neolithic period up to the High Middle Ages. The goal of the game is for players to acquire Influence Points (IP) by growing their civilizations, expanding, discovering, developing, and interacting with other civilizations. It’s designed by first time game designer, Arne Lorenz, with art by Marc Exner, and is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

The game begins where humanity is a handful of tribes led by chieftains. Players start by picking from 10 tribes, each with their own starting positions and unique special abilities, including The Britons, The Carthaginians, The Germanics, The Gauls, The Greeks, The Iberians, The Norsemen, The Egyptians, The Romans, and The Slavs. For example,
The Britons excel at fishing and have unshakable morale, while The Greeks improve technology more easily and excel at naval expansions. Play takes place over a large board which contains the map where exploration, combat encounters, improvements, and morale is kept track of. Players also have a Tribal Action Board which displays the tribe’s available actions. Each turn, players can choose one of 7 actions – Expansion, Trade, Taxes, Diplomacy, Improvement, Bread & Circuses, or Revolution. There is also a Battle Board where combat takes place using uniquely faced dice.

Solitaire play is mentioned as part of the project and the game comes with a tremendous number of cards, tokens, resources, coins and cubes. The Era of Tribes Kickstarter campaign has already reached its funding goal, with over 700 backers, and will end on Monday, June 3rd, 2019. The estimated delivery for the project is October of 2019.

Z-Man Games has announced the 2019 season of Pandemic Survival. Survival takes the classic game, but standardizes the roles played, the initial infected cities, the player deck and the infections deck. This means that each and every game session of the 2019 season will start at the same place, allowing for fair tournament play.  This is the 5th year Z-Man has organized Pandemic Survival, and once again players can compete for prizes and the elusive Pandemic Survival World Championship. The ultimate champion will win a trip to any city on the Pandemic board.

Pandemic (2008) by Matt Leacock is the poster child for all great cooperative games, dominating “best of” lists, sitting in BordGameGeek’s top 100, and collecting more awards than one can count. In this classic game, players act to stem the four diseases taking over cities all over the globe, as more and more infections relentlessly appear. Players take on specific roles, such as Medic, Scientist or Operations Expert, each with a special ability. The evil infections deck denotes which cities gain infection cubes each round, and cities with 4 or more cubes will “explode” into neighboring areas, quickly taking down the whole map. Players win or lose as a team by either allowing the world to succumb to infection, or curing all 4 diseases.

There are a few changes in this year’s competition – players must bring their own copy of the original base game, however the card decks will be pre-stacked and sorted, allowing for quicker setup, and “ease of assembly”. For more details, rules for this unique style of tournament play, and the schedule of games, check out Z-Man’s press release here.

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.

Cthulhu Wars is a strategy board game designed by Sandy Petersen, and Lincoln Petersen, where 2-4 players control the Old Ones and alien races who struggle to control the ruins of Earth. The Cthulhu Wars: Daemon Sultan expansion adds 3 Great Old Ones, Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis, to take on the likes of Cthulhu himself.

Chaos Gates are also added, and can only be controlled by the insane Daemon Sultan faction, which can displace and destroy ordinary gates. Unlike the other factions, the Daemon Sultan start with no units on the board, but quickly grow to compensate for this slower start. Their Spellbooks are also one-use per full Action Phase, like the core game’s Thousand Forms Spellbook. This expansion also includes the Elder Shoggoth, who is able to evolve any unit into any other unit, up to and including Great Old Ones.

The Cthulhu Wars: Daemon Sultan expansion is on Kickstarter up until Wednesday, May 5th, 2019, and has already hit 5x its funding goal with over 3,800 backers. There are multiple pledge levels which allow for additional add-ons, and allows backers to get the original Cthulhu Wars Core Game required to play this expansion. The estimated project delivery is June of 2020.

The Dutch East Indies, a successful Kickstarter from 2017, is a pick up and deliver naval game from designer Martin Looij and Keep Exploring Games. In Dutch East Indies, players have control of two ships, sailing around the Wild Islands, trying to trade for spices to bring back to their home. All trades have to use the resources on the ship, and the game comes with ships which physically hold coins and resource cubes. Ships have upgradable cannons, cargo space and speed, and of course players can attack each other to steal their valuable spices. Be careful, for pirates patrol the center of the board, and will attack any players passing through. The first player to take 2 of each valuable spice back home is the winner.

Keep Exploring Games has announced a Kickstarter Campaign for the first expansion to Dutch East Indies, Adventures on the High Seas. This expansion adds 6 small modules to the base game, allowing more ways to make money, collect spice, and generally cause mayhem. The home islands are no longer completely safe, and are replaced with Forts which can be attacked, but can also be upgraded. The pirates also have forts, but if a player defeats them, they can claim these bases for themselves. Once Wild Islands are cleared of trading opportunities, players can now build settlements, another source of income, but also a source of crew members, a new way to upgrade ships. Treasures and Events add some random boons and conflict to the game. Finally, Reefs are a hazard in the open sea which can cause a ship, player-owned or pirate, to become stuck and vulnerable.


The Kickstarter has options for a deluxe version, with detailed plastic ships, metal coins, wooden spices and plastic crates. The Kickstarter Campaign for Adventures on the High Seas continues through May 17, and the expansion is expected to deliver in October 2019.

Some players may have skipped the Mage Knight Ultimate Edition release because they already owned most of the game, and so would have missed out on the cards introduced with the new, collected edition. WizKids have now made those cards available as Mage Knight: Dual Color Cards Expansion which only contains the 5 new cards.

Four of the cards are dual colored which allow players to spend either type of mana shown on the card to play them or activate their stronger effect. They also count as both colors for certain effects. These are the Explosive Bolt, Chilling Stare, Rush of Adrenaline, and Power of Crystals cards. The fifth card is a new artifact called The Mysterious Box.

For more information on where to obtain this mini expansion visit the WizKids product website.

Lucky Duck Games are bringing the popular mobile game, Kingdom Rush, to the table top in Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time. Kingdom Rush is a fully co-operative, campaign driven, tower defense game for 1-4 players, aged 10+. Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time is designed by Helana HopeSen-Foong Lim, and Jessey Wright, with art by Mateusz Komada, and Katarzyna Kosobucka.

“Welcome to Kingdom Rush, where you and your allies must work together to fend off the furious onslaught of the mysterious Time Mage! Command Heroes and build Towers to defend the realm by placing damage tiles to attack your enemies and deploying soldiers to hold back the ever-advancing horde. Be careful, though! The Time Mage’s portals are wreaking havoc, causing all of the Towers to warp in and out of existence! Will you play your Towers to defend the Kingdom, or will you pass them to your compatriots so that the Towers can be upgraded? The decision is yours!” [source]

To win each game, players need to close all of the Time Mage’s portals while in combat with waves of their minions. Each player controls a hero who has asymmetric abilities. The heroes have different basic attacks, damage types, and special abilities that are acquired during a scenario. Players can choose between a ranger, a mage, a fire elemental, and a hammer-wielding brute. In the campaign, the Time Mage needs to be stopped before he achieves world domination. Campaign scenarios increase in difficulty as progress is made by adding new types of enemies and bosses. Estimated play time is 45-90 mins.

The Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time Kickstarter project has a Knight Pledge which includes the core game but the King Pledge includes the Deluxe Edition. The campaign has already handily surpassed its funding goal with over 3600 backers and the campaign is set to end on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019. Estimated delivery for this project is in April of 2020.

Sanctum is an epic adventure game for 2-4 players where heroes embark on quests to rid the lands of a demonic invasion. The game is inspired by the hack & slash genre (made popular by the Diablo video game), converted into a modern board game.

“Sanctum, once a great city, is now the last beacon of light in a world shrouded in darkness. The lands surrounding the city are home to the demon horde lead by the Lord of Demons. It’s up to a handful of heroes to rise up, battle through the horde, banish the evil that plagues the world and restore the realm to its former glory.”

Heroes will travel across the land, gaining better weapons and equipment, until they can face off against the Demon Lord and drive back the demonic invasion. Combat tactics will also have to be upgraded because more challenging foes confront the heroes as the game progresses. Sanctum is designed by Filip Neduk, with art by Jakub Politzer, (both known for their work on Adrenaline) and published by Czech Games Edition.

Expected play time is 60-240 mins, depending on the number of players, and is aimed at players aged 12+. Visit the Czech Games Edition release announcement on their website for more information and a teaser trailer video.Sanctum is set to release sometime during 2019.

Tramways is an innovative pickup-and-deliver game mixed with route building and is designed by Alban Viard (known for Card City XL). Art is by Todd Sanders (known for Pulp Detective), and Sampo Sikiö (known for Eclipse). Players lead a team of engineers to build the most efficient rail network in Small City. Games last about 30 minutes per player and caters for 2-5 players.

The Tramways: Dystopian Expansions release moves the setting from Small City to Mars and the Moon. Each planet is its own expansion. The “Moon” expansion adds a wraparound board construction mechanism and adds a night and day cycle which affect the actions that can be performed. In the “Mars” expansion, Martians are a new type of passenger to be transported who are trickier to move around than the average passenger.

Contrary to the name of the expansion, the aim of the game is to finish with the most Happiness points. These are earned by moving passengers, building new railways, and constructing new buildings. The more efficient players become the greater the stress level increases which is tracked in the game and negatively impacts the Happiness points.

The Tramways: Dystopian Expansions Kickstarter project has already raised 3x its required funding with over 400 backers. Project funding is set to end on Tuesday, April 30th, 2019, with expected delivery taking place in October of 2019.