board games

Wizkids has announced Flotilla, a 2-5 player board game by designers
J.B. Howell (Reavers of Midgard) and Michael Mihealsick (Onimaru), taking place in a post-nuclear 1950s earth. After the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests, sea levels have risen dramatically, necessitating the Flotilla, a cobbled together floating city. Fleet Commander players start as Sinksiders, collecting resources from the Ocean Board, collecting ruins, trying to create a better world for their crew. Later, players can become Skysiders, flipping and attaching their collected watercraft to the Flotilla itself, in order to vie for control of the many guilds therein. The final winner is the most influential Fleet Commander within the Flotilla. Flotilla is scheduled to hit stores in October 2019.

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.

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.

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.

Roll Player (2016) by Thunderworks Games and designer Keith Matejka is a fantastic (BGG #234) dice placement game which themes around creating a classic d20 RPG character. Now the company has announced 2 new “Roll Player Tales” in the same universe, Lockup and Cartographers.

Lockup: A Roll Player Tale by designer Stan Kordonskiy (Dice Hospital) is a worker placement game taking place within a fantasy prison, originally funded on Kickstarter in 2018. In Lockup, 2-5 players need to assign members of their gang to sections of the prison and collect resources, all without attracting the ire of the guards, who are not beyond searching their quarters and confiscating their goods. Each round, the most powerful characters in a section get the prime resources, and can build the best items. After 6 rounds, the most powerful gang emerges victorious.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by designer Jordy Adan is a roll and write game, where players need to fill in their map sheet according to the Queen’s edicts. Exploration cards tell the players what polyomino shapes and terrain types to draw each round. Scoring cards communicate the Queen’s will, and tell what will score. Cartographers encapsulates the joy of drawing old RPG maps on graph paper, filling in forest, mountain, water, and even monsters, trying to earn the most points in 4 seasons.

Both Lockup and Cartographers are expected to deliver to stores in July 2019. For more information, check out Thunderworks webpage on Cartographers, and the Kickstarter page from Lockup.

The original Shadows of Brimstone dungeon crawler by Flying Frog Productions and Jason C. Hill (Last Night on Earth, Fortune and Glory) was a Kickstarter phenom in 2013, earning $1.3M and delivering a robust unique dungeon crawler. In Shadows, 1-4 players took on roles in the old west, and adventured into an old mine that housed portals to other realms. The game had great monsters, a fantastic exploration system that required no GM, and powerful role playing and leveling options, including a town expansion in which to rest and work on your characters.

Flying Frog added numerous other expansions to the 2 starting boxes for Shadows, then followed it up with Forbidden Fortress in 2016, a stand-alone feudal japan version of Shadows. Now Flying Frog has started a Kickstarter Campaign for 2 new Shadows of Brimstone Adventures, Gates of Valhalla and Valley of the Serpent King.

Valhalla has multiple viking character types for players, who travel back to the Targa Plateau from the City of the Ancients Core set to battle new creatures and search of elusive dark stone. The Valley of the Serpent King features Spanish Conquistador characters, and has portals to the Swamps of Jargono from the Swamps of Death Core set. Both games feature numerous high quality miniatures, including oversized elite monsters, dungeon tiles, cards, tokens and all you would expect from a Shadows of Brimstone game. The new Shadows Adventures are fully compatible with all previous versions, but can be played on their own.

The Kickstarter Campaign continues through March 9, and the games are expected to deliver in September of 2020.

Devil Pig is the publisher of the excellent tile-based war game systems Heroes of Normandie (2014) and Shadows over Normandie (2015), and in 2018 they released the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 licensed version, Heroes of Black Reach. Devil Pig has just announced their plans to continue supporting Black Reach, with 2 new P500 campaigns, each with 2 expansions. Specifically, the Orks will be reinforced with Goff Stompa, Bad Moons, and Evil Sunz factions, while more Ultramarines are also on the roster. These new campaigns and expansions will also be available in a new core box. The publisher also teased The Heroes of Valedor, adding Eldar and Tyrannid to the game in 2020. For more information, check out the press release from Devil Pig here.

It was previously revealed that USAopoly had acquired the rights to make licensed versions of Games Workshop‘s classic fantasy board game Talisman, but the teaser was that 3 unknown IPs were in production. The first of these was revealed today, so get ready for Talisman: Kingdom Hearts Edition. Following in the wake of the release of Kingdom Hearts III, Talisman KH will feature the multitudes of beloved Disney and Square Enix characters from the immensely popular series of video games, embedded in the classic 3 tiered adventure and exploration game of Talisman. Expect Goofy, Sora, Riku, King Mickey and others to explore locations including Neverland and Traverse Town. Talisman KH will include marbleized dice, Munny-themed currency, and specialized tokens and cards. Look for Talisman: Kingdom Hearts later this year, and for more information, check out the press release from USAopoly here.

Wizkids has announced the first English version of the popular Japanese horror game Hako Onna (“Box Woman”, or “Lurking Girl”) by designer 江神 号 (Go Ejin). In Hako Onna, one player plays the titular evil spirit, hiding in a randomly constructed house made of 9 tiles, waiting to kill the other players, who are unsuspecting visitors. The visitors have to search the house for items to help defeat the ghost, or keys to escape the house. The Hako Onna moves in secret, masquerading as an object in the room while the visitors close their eyes, except when she screams, revealing her location but allowing her to play a powerful card. Visitors on their turns use a dexterity mechanic to stack “noise tokens” while searching. If the stack falls or gets too high, the noise alerts the Hako Onna, who immediately gets a turn, much to everyone’s chagrin. For more information check out the press release here, and Wizkid’s dedicated Hako Onna page here. Expect the English version of Hako Onna to come to stores in September 2019.