cooperative games

Awaken Realms, makers of massively successful Kickstarter projects This War of Mine (2017) and Lords of Hellas (2018), have started a campaign for their new game, Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon from designers Krzysztof Piskorski and Marcin Świerkot. Tainted Grail is a cooperative story driven adventure game which takes place in an alternate, dark Arthurian world, and features amazing art from Piotr Foksowicz. In Tainted Grail, 1-4 players work cooperatively, without turn order, to explore a growing map made of high quality tarot sized cards, in a manner reminiscent of the ground-breaking 7th Continent. These map cards can be flipped over as they are explored, or even replaced with changed versions of the land. Stories come from a printed book of more than 100,000 words, filled with choices, drama, characters and conflict. Each player chooses from one of 4 unlikely outcasts, each with unique stats and abilities which can improve over time, trying to avert the wyrdness from Avalon by healing the fading Menhir guardian statues. Each character comes with its own deck of combat cards and diplomacy cards, leading to a fascinating and unique conflict mechanism for both violent and non-violent interactions. Players lay down a chain of cards, linked by key symbols to first the threat, then to each other. A character can have as many cards in the combat as they like, as long as they are all linked, but if a card in the chain is lost, other cards may fall away. Characters use up energy to perform actions, exploring, fighting or negotiating their way through the campaign, chapter by chapter. Chapters can be playerd in a single session, and a robust system to save and store games is in the box.

Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon Core Game comes with 8 miniatures, 4 boards, 576 standard cards (encounters, items, events, secrets), 100 small cards, 72 oversized cards (maps), 100+ tokens and markers and a 220 page story book, but the stretch goals and add-ons are growing by the moment, dwarfing these numbers. The Kickstarter Campaign for Tainted Grail is set to continue through December 28, and the game should deliver in August 2019. For more information, and a preliminary rule book, check out the Kickstarter web page here, or Awaken Realm’s web page here.

Treedles on the Tree is a cooperative Christmas themed board game currently on Kickstarter from designer Mark Valenti and Erin Dean, featuring art by Sarah Lafser. In Treedles on the Tree, 2-6 players have 10 minutes to find the elusive Wackadoodle, feed him candy canes to get a Star Point. Once the players get 5 Star Points, the Christmas Tree is complete and Christmas has been saved. Players each pick one of the six Treedles, then roll dice to see which colored light they can move to next. One the back of the lights are either Ornaments, which collect at the bottom of the board, or the elusive Wackadoodle. Once a Wackadoodle bird is revealed, players must roll candy cane dice frantically, trying to collect 4 candy canes, so that the Wackadoo rewards them with a Star Point. The players must get all 5 Star Points before they collect 25 ornaments, or before 10 minutes run out.

Treedles on the Tree is based on an animated television idea “the Treedles”, which was to star Icelandic actor Stefan Karl, who sadly passed in August 2018, and the game is dedicated to him. The Kickstarter Campaign for Treedles on the Tree continues through January 2, and the game is expected to ship in October 2019.

Also, of interest, was a little bit more we were able to learn about the designers.

Mark Valenti has written, edited or produced more than 200 hours of family friendly content for television, projects that are seen daily around the world. He wrote the Christmas movie Like Father, Like Santa for the Family Channel, The Christmas Pageant for the Hallmark Channel and the annual Christmas special, Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Angel for NBC. As Head Writer for Nickelodeon’s LazyTown, he co-wrote the popular Christmas episode “Surprise Santa” and the holiday single, “I Love Christmas.” Mark has written for Back to the Future, Olivia, Gaspard and Lisa, Totally Spies, Julius Jr., Treehouse Detectives, and My Friends Tigger and Pooh.

On the network executive side, he was Story Editor for Nickelodeon’s animated shows including Rugrats, Catdog, Hey Arnold, Rocket Power, and The Wild Thornberrys. Mark also wrote the television movies Menno’s Mind for Showtime, and several film projects for Lifetime. Mark was Creative Manager for a team tasked with re-imagining Disney’s California Adventures theme park in Anaheim. He also served as Creative Manager for Disney Interactive.
Prior to his writing career, Mark was Vice President of Development for John Hughes Entertainment, during the production period of Home Alone, Uncle Buck, Christmas Vacation, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He has authored several books: The Hannibal Twist – A Tom and Huck Mystery, The Wolf and the Warlander, an adventure trilogy, and a coming-of-age comedy, Last Night at the Monarch Motel. Mark began his career as a Production Associate for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, followed by several years as Script Analyst for Ron Howard, Oprah Winfrey and Sydney Pollack’s production companies.
Growing up, Erin Dean played the traditional mass market games, like Monopoly, Life, and Clue. In high school, she was gifted Ticket to Ride and that is when she fell in love with the board gaming hobby.

In the past, she has worked at Pieces: The St. Louis Board Game Bar & Cafe as a Game Navigator, as well as, Genius Games, a St. Louis board game publishing company, as a Video Intern. In the Spring of 2017, Erin released a short board game documentary on YouTube called, “The Board Game Boom,” which now has over 30,000 views.

For the Love of Board Games is Erin’s first book and A book that explores how modern, popular games were created by interviewing the designers behind the games. The book was Erin’s first Kickstarter and it ended up raising over $55,000.

The official Harry Potter edition of Vlaada Chvátil‘s wildly popular and award winning game Codenames is now available in your friendly local game store. Codenames: Harry Potter is actually more a variation on Codenames Duet, being a cooperative puzzle game for 2 wizards. Players take turns trying to locate 15 hidden members of the Order of the Phoenix among a 5×5 grid of both picture and word cards, using their side of the key card. Players give single word clues, along with a number referencing how many cards relate to the clue. The clue receiver can pick multiple cards, but must stop after an incorrect pick. But beware, because the game is instantly lost if the Black Card is picked, leading the players down Knockturn Alley to the waiting Death Eaters. Players win if they find all 15 members before 10 incorrect guesses.

Codenames: Harry Potter is available now, and more information is available on the USAopoly webpage here.

Triton Noir, the publisher behind V-Commandos, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice.  Triton Noir describe the game as a mission-based cooperative tactical board game for 1 to 4 players.

“Live your new Assassin’s Creed® tabletop board game experience with your Brotherhood in a historical campaign that will focus on stealth and cooperation.”

The game is set in between the events of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.  The Brotherhood of Venice website and Kickstarter page tout a narrative campaign of more than 20 hours for the game.  It looks like players will be opening sealed envelopes at the start of each mission which will reveal new events, cards and other items impacting the game.

“The campaign will pit you against Templars, let you explore unknown events of the Brotherhood in Venice, and determine the fate of the Brotherhood in the famous City of Masks.”

The Kickstarter campaign has a single pledge level of CAN$158 and features more than 200 cards, custom dice and, of course, miniatures.  With an estimated delivery date of June, 2020, you’ll have plenty of time to play your Assassin’s Creed video games to prepare yourself.

Have you ever wondered how and why cooperative board games work? Well if so, this new book – Meeples Together: How and Why Cooperative Board Games Work – is for you. From Gameplaywright, the publisher of The White Box, the book is written for people who play, discuss, critique, design and just generally love cooperative board games.

Meeples Together is a 384-page, 6″ × 9″ trade paperback with more than 150 illustrated figures. It is also available in digital editions, including a tablet-optimized PDF version, an Epub version, and a Kindle (.mobi) version.

What’s in the book?

Meeples Together contains 14 chapters about the nature, mechanics, theory and frontiers of cooperative gaming. It contains 14 in-depth case studies of cooperative gaming’s greatest hits — from Pandemic and Battlestar Galactica to Contract Bridge. These case studies are used to demonstrate the concepts and ideas presented in the chapters.

Top level table of contents

Foreword by Matt Leacock
Chapter 1: The Basics of Cooperation
Chapter 2: Styles of Competition
Chapter 3: Styles of Teamwork
Chapter 4: Styles of Cooperation
Chapter 5: Cooperative Systems
Chapter 6: Challenge Systems
Chapter 7: Players Facing Challenges
Chapter 8: Players Undertaking Tasks
Chapter 9: Adventure Systems
Chapter 10: A Theory of Cooperative Gaming
Chapter 11: A Theory of Challenge Design
Chapter 12: When Games Go Wrong
Chapter 13: The Psychology of Cooperative Gaming
Chapter 14: Assembling the Puzzle
Appendix I: The Basics of Game Design
Appendix II: Game Design Dilemmas
Appendix III: Game Design Types
Appendix IV: Game Design & Social Theories
Appendix V: Cooperative & Teamwork Game Synopses & Reviews

Meeples Together is already fully funded and the Kickstarter campaign runs until November 18th. Stretch goals include extra case studies and a soft-touch cover, among others. Unfortunately, the campaign is not yet internationally friendly but depending on funding, it might become a possibility.

Multi-game sets have garnered a funny reputation over the years. Everyone knows of them, easily recognizable from their inclusion of Chinese Checkers and other such boards and pieces allowing anywhere from 3 to 30 abstract games to be played. Yet despite a decent value-for-money proposition they are never very popular products, often fated to wind up has coffee table pieces and rarely talked about within our board gaming hobby with any amount of affection. Playford Games seeks to change that a bit by making one such set that’s bursting with theme and uniqueness, and also bringing some new abstract games into the mix with their newest release, The Ancient World Multi Game System. It comes packed with 25 different games, supporting anywhere from 2 to 8 players, all the while showing off images and flair from the Age of Antiquity. As described via press release:

“The Ancient World Multi Game system was designed to capture the beauty and simplicity of classic strategy games like Chess and Go and infuse them with more player interactions to create a shared social experience.The system consists of modular sets of double-sided wooden game tiles that can be used to play up to 25 different abstract strategy games. Each game draws its theme from a different civilization or event in the Ancient World, from the wars of Ancient Egypt and Rome to the Silk Roads of China and the court intrigue of Byzantium.”

What’s even better is that these games support a wide variety of ages and learning levels making this fantastic for families. Each game with The Ancient World‘s 4o page manual is marked with a difficulty level and highlights the story, skills needed, and the level of competitiveness or cooperation required. Looking at it’s lovely, carefully designed aesthetic and uniquely crafted games reminds me of a lot of Looney Labs’ Pyramid Arcade and how unique and fun it accomplished to be, which is good news for Playford Games because that’s a good comparison to make and I doubt I’m the only one that will do so.  If you are interested in learning more about The Ancient World Multi Game System, check out their website where you can read about all the models and games included, and if you’re at Essen be sure to check out their 5H115 where they will be demoing and selling them.

Spirit Island (2017) by designer R. Eric Reuss has been one of the more interesting cooperative games in recent years, going so far as being a 2017 nominee for multiple Dice Tower Awards, and Golden Geek Awards. Greater Than Games has just started a Kickstarter Campaign for the second expansion to this great game, Jagged Earth. In Spirit Island, 1-4 players control Nature Spirits on a small island, influencing the native Dahan population to rise up and overthrow incoming invaders. And there are invaders aplenty – every round explorers show up on the coast of the island. These remaining explorers will build towns and cities if left alone, eventually creating a blight on the island, eading to the players’ demise. Each spirit type (and there are many) works in a very different way, having their own innate powers and abilities, income of energy, and power cards to instill fear in the unwanted explorers.

The new expansion, Jagged Earth, adds a number of extra features to the already challenging and thinky coop. Jagged Earth adds 8 new spirits to the mix, including Volcano Looming High and Grinning Trickster Stir Up Trouble. 2 of the new spirits come with new play mechanisms, including Badlands and Isolation. The original Spirits are given new life through “Aspects”, a way to swap in new innate powers for old ones. 5-6 players are now supported, using 2 new included island boards for a 6 piece giant board. Tokens are included for increased player count, 2 new scenarios, 2 new adversaries, 50+ new major and minor powers, 30 new events, 6 new fear cards and 6 new blight cards. For fans of Spirit Island, Jagged Earth adds more of what players love with enough new pieces to keep it interesting.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Spirit Island: Jagged Earth continues through November 16, and the expansion is expected to deliver in May 2020.

Mantic Games is poised to expand the universe of the The Walking Dead: All Out War Miniatures Game with the new Here’s Negan! expansion with a scheduled release in November of 2018.

Reputation is everything as you experience the untold story of how Negan and the Saviors cleared the Sanctuary.

Here’s Negan is a will be a co-operative expansion to the board game with a competitive element for up to five players. Each of the 12 included scenarios will help tell the story of how Negan originally cleared the ‘Sanctuary’ and become the tyrannical leader of the group known as the Saviors.

Mantic Games CEO Ronnie Renton pointed to the success of the original game when announcing plans to release this follow up expansion.

The Walking Dead: All Out War Miniatures Game is our most successful retail product ever and we’re delighted to be working with Skybound Entertainment to explore this untold chapter of Negan’s history. Here’s Negan is a totally unique game that sees players working together but also gives them the opportunity to screw over their teammates to impress Negan. It’s co-operative and competitive so you’ll need to watch your back!

In the new expansion, each player will take on there persona of one of Negan’s lieutenants, either Sherry, Dwight, Laura, John or Tara. In order to win Negan’s favor the players must clear the Sanctuary of all of the threats, including some that might not be Walkers. Successful players will impress Negan and reap rewards. Those who fail will face the wrath of Lucille.

In addition to the scenarios and rules, the expansion will come with:

  • 19 detailed, pre-assembled plastic miniatures
  • 16 double-sided game tiles
  • All the dice and tokens required to play.

The Walking Dead: All Out War

Published in 2016, The Walking Dead: All Out War base game was a tactical head-to-head miniatures board game set in the Georgia countryside and is based on The Walking Dead comic series. Groups will be pitted against each other in a fight for both supplies and survival as walkers roam the countryside. There’s nothing in the game that might not want you dead.

Playable 2 player or solo, each player will control a group of survivors made up of the characters from The Walking Dead storyline, such as Rick, Shane, Michonne and more. Each upgradeable survivor is represented by a miniature as well as a character card. Using a measuring stick survivors will wander the board attempting to sneak up on other survivors, raid camps, and get supplies. A game controlled AI system will send walkers your way whether you are playing against another player or solo.

The original base game includes campaign rules as well as guidelines to build your own survivor characters.

The original game was nominated for the 2018 Origins award for best miniatures game.

Upper Deck is making the biggest expansion for yet into the Marvel universe with the World War Hulk expansion for Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game arriving in stores this June (2018). The latest expansion will be based on some of the most iconic Hulk storylines published including Planet Hulk and World War Hulk.

Thrown off course and drained of strength, Hulk crash lands on the savage planet Sakaar. There, Hulk is chained and forced into gladiatorial servitude. Fighting for his life as his strength slowly grows,

Hulk forms a blood pact with an unlikely band of powerful alien gladiators: the Warbound. Together they rise through the ranks, pursue a death-defying series of journeys, and eventually rally the people of Sakaar to overthrow the tyrannical Red King.

For a moment, the newly-crowned King Hulk knows peace. But when an explosion from the Illuminati’s ship kills King Hulk’s new wife Caiera, Hulk is filled with a rage greater than ever before. He returns to Earth with his Warbound to punish the Illuminati for their crimes against him, even if he has to tear apart all of Earth’s super-teams to do it, and perhaps Earth itself. 

World War Hulk will be the 16th expansion for Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game and will be the biggest expansion yet with four hundred new cards including Heroes, Masterminds, Schemes, and Villains.

This big box expansion has Marvel’s biggest characters, including Sentry, Hulk (both Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho), and She-Hulk! It brings the new Warbound team faction to the forefront with plenty of new characters and some of the most exciting and challenging Masterminds and Schemes yet!

Players will be able to take on roles as Gladiator Hulk and the Warbound, or as other Heroes trying to hold Hulk and the Warbound back.

About Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is a semi co-operative deck building game set in the Marvel universe.

One to five players will choose a villain and scheme to battle and then face off using a mixture of hero decks featuring iconic characters like Spider-Man, Hulk, Cyclops, and Wolverine.

During the game players will recruit hero cards to build a more powerful deck and increase their ability to battle the villains that are revealed and cause havoc through the game. As players defeat villains they collect villain cards that will be worth points at the end of the game. Once all of the mastermind cards have been claimed and the player with the most points wins. If the mastermind is able to complete their scheme before the players have defeated them all players lose the game together.

The game has been included in many of the The Dice Tower Top Ten Lists including:

Ares Games have announced plans to release Darkness Falls in August 2018, an expansion to the epic Sword & Sorcery campaign. The newest campaign pushes the heroes towards their final destiny, recreating the final act of the legendary saga.

The darkness is covering all the land, the cemetery gates are no longer closed, and the immortal heroes must now face enemies who ignore pain and never sleep… the undead army! Skeletons, vampires and werewolves appear everywhere… Will the heroes accomplish their mission and finally free their souls from the soul gems’ spell?

In this expansion players can expect to find new soul rank powers and challenging new enemies, providing what is like to be an intense new experience for those who have been wandering in the Sword & Sorcery universe.

The new campaign will be played through seven new high-level quests, using a combination of Storybook, Book of Secrets and cards to drive players towards a story-driving end to the Immortal Souls campaign.

To get players to the end the Darkness Falls expansion will include includes 20 new enemies: Succubi, Skeletons, Death Knights, and Werewolves. The game will also include two new master enemies, new Act II cards for items, traps, treasure, events and enemies.

Darkness Falls has 1-5 brave souls ages 13+ playing for +30 minutes per scenario.

Number of Players: 1-5
Length: 30+
Age: 13+

What’s in the Box?
Darkness Falls will include:
  • 1 Storybook
  • 1 Book of Secrets
  • 1 Reference Sheet
  • 23 32mm Scale Plastic Figures
  • 14 Double–sided Map Tiles
  • 1 Werewolf Sheet
  • 2 Master Enemy Scrolls
  • 15 Enemy Scrolls
  • 109 Cards
  • 129 Tokens and Markers

About Sword & Sorcery
Released in 2017, Sword & Sorcery is an epic-fantasy cooperative board game for 1-5 players who battle together against the forces of evil. While evil is controlled by the game system, each player will control one or more heroes who have been brought to life through powerful sorcery yet have been weakened during their resurrection. Players will acquire soul points during their quests to gain strength and restore their legendary status.

The game was designed by Gremlin Project and is an evolution of the Galaxy Defenders game.