Several years ago, Martin Wallace brought us A Study in Emerald, a game based on the story by Neil Gaiman about the secret war by the Restorationists to free mankind from forces of the Olds Ones. It was a game that blended the worlds of Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft set in 1882 Europe. Now that the Old One have been banished from the northern hemisphere, where did they go?
Fifty years later, the Old Ones are awakening in the Outback of Australia! In AuZtralia, players are adventurers and explorers uncovering the riches and resources and colonizing in an 1930’s alternate reality Australian Outback. Players build ports, construct railways, mine and farm for food. Every action costs time, and at some point in time during the game, the Old Ones are awaken and become a player in the game attacking the players’ settlements. Players will need to recruit military forces to protect the settlements, and they might need to work together to defeat the most dangerous Old Ones. Players earn victory points from their farms, defeating Old Ones, and from their personalities. Old Ones also score victory points by blighting farms and how many are left at the end of the game. When all the time points are spent (or a player port is destroyed), the game ends and the player (or Old One) with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
AuZtralia is a military/economic/adventure game for 1-4 players, ages 13+, and take about 30 minutes per person to play.
Also coming in October is the latest expansion to Terraforming Mars. Terraforming Mars: Colonies expands the game playing world by adding new places to build colonies. While those places may not be suitable for terraforming, they can produce much needed resources and income. Build colonies on distant moons (even in the clouds of Jupiter) and send your trade fleets to them to build your resources to support your terraforming operations on Mars.
Terraforming Mars: Colonies requires the base game to be played but can be played with any of the expansions. Contents include 49 project cards, 5 corporation cards, 11 colony tiles, a reference tiles, trade fleets tiles, 8 markers, and 8 trade fleets.
If you’ve always wanted to have a more active hand in summoning Great Old Ones instead of playing cards, moving some miniatures, or listening to an app … then A’Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions is the game for you! In August, WizKids are releasing the game of body contortions (think Cthulhu mixed with that other twisting game) where players need to align their bodies over Arkham in order to manifest Great Old Ones.
Players gather in teams of two where one is the cultist and the other is the Great Old One. The cultist player instructs the Great Old One player (no, not your grandma) to place their appendages on various spots across Arkham in order to complete a specific pattern. Of course, since other deities are trying to enter the world at the same time, the competing deities’ appendages can be used as part of their own to complete patterns.
Up to 3 teams of 2 can play in this game of contortion (and backache for more veteran players). It comes with 20 mats, pattern cards, and various Great Old One roles. A’Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions was designed by Jay E. Treat, III, with art by Simeon Cogswell and J. Lonnee. It plays in 30 minutes and supports players aged 14+.
More information can be obtained from the product page on the WizKids website.
Fantasy Flight Games, courtesy of designer Nikki Valens, have completely redesigned Arkham Horror for its Third Edition. The original Arkham Horror, designed by Richard Launius, was released in 1987, and the Second Edition, which was co-designed with Kevin Wilson, was released in 2005.
While Mansions of Madness is set in specific locations in the city of Arkham, and Eldritch Horror spans the globe, Arkham Horror plays out its narrative across the entire city of Arkham. This Third Edition combines mechanisms from the other Arkham Horror: Files family of games, and adds some new twists not found in the others. It supports 1-6 players (instead of 1-8 in the previous edition), for players aged 14+ (instead of 12+ in the previous edition), but still plays in 2-3 hours.
Players take on the roles of investigators who cooperatively seek to drive back the darkness and defeat an unknowable evil before they’re either driven insane or ripped apart by monsters from the world beyond. Iconic investigators such as Jenny Barnes, Wendy Adams, Agnes Baker, and Calvin Wright, make a return with 12 investigators available for selection. Every investigator starts the game with their own, unique ability and a customizable starting kit, so that players can outfit them to suit their needs.
“Each game of Arkham Horror Third Edition sees you and your friends exploring one of four different scenarios in the dark and deadly town. Each adventure brings your investigators to the edge of their sanity and beyond.
These scenarios see a race between the investigators desperately searching for clues across the city, and the forces of evil spreading doom to further their cause. Finding clues can advance the narrative of each scenario, inching you closer to victory. Spreading doom not only produces effects that will hinder you, but can lead to a very different conclusion… one where the world isn’t so fortunate.
While this push and pull between uncovered clues and impending doom will often determine how the narrative advances, other factors can come in to play, including choices made by the players. The fate of the world is in your hands. Do you have what it takes to succeed?” [source]
Investigators will gather clues and overcome enemies over a number of rounds, consisting of four phases, which should feel familiar to other Arkham Horror: Files games. There are the Action, Monster, Encounter, and Mythos phases. Investigators act in the Action phase, the enemies in the Monster phase, while the Encounter phase tests the investigators as the world of Arkham comes to life, and the Mythos phase advances the narrative and pushes the city closer to its doom.
Expect Arkham Horror: Third Edition to release in the 4th quarter of 2018. Pre-orders can be placed at the Fantasy Games website which includes a deluxe, hardcover rule book as an exclusive promotion. See the Fantasy Flight Games website for more information.
CMON Kickstarter campaigns are often big and exciting, and this newest one is no less the case. Cthulhu: Death May Die is the newest big box game with the sort of high-quality large figures that CMON is known (and named) for. It’s a cooperative game for 1-to-5 players, designed by the rockstar team of Rob Daviau and Eric M. Lang, and artwork by Adrian Smith and Karl Kopinski. If a Cthulhu-themed cooperative romp sounds an awful lot like long-popular Fantasy Flight flagships Arkham Horror or Mansions of Madness, you wouldn’t be wrong. Where Death May Die differentiates itself is, unless the worst befalls your party early, you’re going toe-to-toe with a big nasty Old One in a really clever use of episodic materials that could only be designed by the master of hidden-things-in-small-boxes himself. As described on the campaign page:
“The Death May Die core box contains smaller boxes that hold the modular elements to create each unique game session. Players choose one of the two available Elder Ones and combine their contents with those of one of the six available Episodes. Each of these boxes contain unique figures, tokens, and cards that are only used when playing with those elements. The Mythos deck used in each game is a combination of cards from the chosen Elder One box and the chosen Episode box. Each Episode not only indicates the map setup using the various tiles in the game, but also new actions the investigators can perform in order to accomplish the tasks required to disrupt that episode’s ritual. They each also bring their own Discovery cards for players to explore, and the monsters’ behaviors and abilities are tailored to each unique story.”
While the use of tactile tools to create a narrative-driven experience in a world where app-based dungeon crawls exists may seem like a step backward, the application of the components is demonstrative of the innovation those tools have gone through despite the current ecosystem. It’ll be really cool to see how the game is received for it’s composition and table presence after it arrives to backers who haven’t been crushed under the weight of it’s intimidatingly large, detailed monsters. Between the publishing and design caliber behind it, the miniatures, and the deft application of theme, it’s no wonder that this Kickstarter has already (at the time of writing this) passed 600% funding and trending towards millions of dollars. Update: In fact, all of the early bird waves have sold out, but CMON has responded by creating more expensive waves of limited product to be released further into 2019. If you are interested in learning more about Cthulhu: Death May Die, check out the campaign page for previews, in-depth rules explanations, community feedback, and updates.
Two new WizKids games are on their way this April with interesting descriptions. The first is A’writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions – a team vs. team game where players must ” place an appendage on top of an Arkham landmark to complete a specific pattern.” One player cannot do that on their own, however, so they must touch an appendage of the opposing player to complete their own pattern. It sounds like C’thulhu meets Twister with a bit of puzzle-solving added in, which is a cool mix.
The second game is Endless Pass: A Viking Saga – A press-your-luck combat game with variable player powers. Players control vikings defending against a group of shadowy, vicious creatures known as The Endless, while also fighting against your fellow vikings for bonus points. As described in the product description, “The last viking standing or the first to acquire ten glory, while surviving the turn, wins the game. If none of the players survive, then the player with most glory is declared the Conqueror in Valhalla.” The guts-and-glory theme of the game really shines through with that description and with a 30-minute estimated playtime I can see multiple games of this being played back-t0-back, which is very good for push-your-luck games.
Both terrific uses of the C’thulhu and Viking themes. It’s good to see WizKids pushing more punchy titles like these for the Spring season and I expect we’ll see even more like these as the year continues. Both games will be releasing in April, so if you’re interested be sure to go to your favorite retailer to seek a copy. For more information on either title or for more releases from this publisher, please be sure to check out the WizKids website for more information as it’s released.
Smirk & Dagger Games and lead designer Curt Covert have announced a game they have been teasing for some time, Tower of Madness. 3-5 Players take turns fulfilling location cards in push-your-luck dice rolling, however if they fail their investigation, they must face the tower. The actual tower stands over a foot tall, and houses colored marbles held in place by 30 demonic tentacles, much in the style of the older game Kerplunk. Failing to fulfill a card means pulling a tentacle from the tower, possibly releasing colored marbles, which add to your discovery total but permanently affect your character. Even worse, the tower may release a DOOM marble, which is one more step towards summoning Cthulhu, and ending the game. The investigator with the most discovery wins.
Look for Tower of Madness on store shelves June 2018.
While the Green Horde continues to roam the countryside, gobbling up everything in it’s wake, lets see some other games on Kickstarter worthy of a second look.
First up is a game from Pandasaurus Games and Hisashi Hiyashi, designer of Yokohama and Trains, called Minerva. Minerva is being called a brain burning tile laying game where the location of the tiles being placed has as much importance as the tiles themselves. The reason for this is that each tile has an ability, but the abilities on the tiles aren’t triggered when they are placed in your tableau. It isn’t until you put down a residence tile that they are triggered, and then it’s only the tiles in that row. This is how you will gain resources, buy buildings, and eventually be able to purchase the temples to score big VP bonuses at the end. Needless to say this game has a lot of tough decisions going as you determine how to build your tiled engine so that you can reap the most victory points. Check out the Kickstarter today if this sounds like something you want to try.
Not enough Cthulhu in your life? Do you think Carcassonne is too boring just building out a normal city? Well Carcosa is here to answer the call and give you your cthulhu based Carcassonne game. And as you can probably guess, this game plays much like the quintessential classic where you are drawing tiles and placing tiles, and then placing your cultists to claim majorities on different features. Some differences come in the form of hidden information and the effects tiles can have when fully revealed. On your turn you will place a tile you drew and looked at, but that tile will be face down, which for most tiles doesn’t change anything. But, there are some tiles with a yellow mark on them, and these are the tiles which will have special effects when they are revealed, causing events like devouring several cultists on the board. Plus with your cultists going mad and needing to recover whenever they score, you have a very different feeling game to normal Carcassonne. Check out the Kickstarter today, and try to keep your sanity.
Next is a game which takes the Greek gods of old and gives them a high tech make-over for an interesting new take on territory control, called Lords of Hellas. Lords of Hellas’ look is very eye catching, taking mythological characters like Hercules, Helena, and the Minotaur and giving them a technology upgrade. This also carries over into the huge monuments in the game of various Greek gods like Zeus, Hermes, and Athena, each standing nearly 5″ tall when fully built. Gameplay for the game is territory control, but that alone would be boring, so changes and tweaks have been made to keep things fresh and new. Multi-use cards give you tough choices in a game with few resources, do you play them to help in battle or for their resources? Multiple end game conditions make it so that if you are losing on one front, you might still be able to win on another. The heroes of each army also bring asymmetry to the game with different abilities and start conditions, plus you can upgrade your hero throughout the game making them even better. Overall there are lots of things to like about this game, so check out their Kickstarter page to see everything it has to offer.
Finally we have something that is half game, half teaching tool called Turing Tumble, a name that plays on the famous Turing Test which tests for artificial intelligence. The board is vertical with lots of pegs on it for the placement of different gears, flippers, switches, as well as launchers and catchers for two sets of colored marbles. As you place the pieces on the board, you can get the board to sort or combine the colored marbles in predictable ways or do other functions. It can even be taken as far as creating a calculator for doing math, making this board a mechanical computer that kids will have fun playing with. The game aspect of the Turing Tumble comes from the included comic book which has you following the adventures Alia, a space engineer, as she tries to escape from a deserted planet. The puzzles in the game start out easy and get harder as they go along, teaching your kinds the basics of computers and helping them build more complex sequences. If this sounds as interesting to you as it does to me, head on over to their Kickstarter page.
Playroom Entertainment has announced a number of new games, both for children and adults.
BirdDay Party is a new cooperative card game for 1-4 players age 5 and up. Players want to help all the birds get to the party at the birdhouse, but must make sure each bird brings a gift. Players do this by matching card colors to peephole colors, encouraging memory and cooperation skills.
Three Lil Birds is another children’s cooperative game for 2-6 players. Players ages 3 and up must use simple math to progress around the board with cards depicting different numbers of colored birds.
Sitting Ducks Deluxe is a new edition of Sitting Ducks Gallery (2005) card game. In Sitting Ducks, players manipulate their line of duck cards to move the ducks down the row and avoid the line of fire. In this “take that” game, cards can target, shoot or move the line of colored ducks in various ways. The Deluxe edition plays 3-6 players and includes the “Birds of a Feather” expansion deck.
Claim to Fame (1990) has a new printing. Claim to Fame is a party game for 4 or more players that combines charades, drawing and verbal clues. Players guess five facts about a celebrity on their card, using a method determined from their space on the board.
In Costume Party Assassins, 2-6 players play assassins all invited to the same costume party. In a vein similar to AssassinCon, each player knows his own identity on the board, but not that of the other players. Try to eliminate your rivals and be the last surviving assassin at the party.
Spoiler Alert is a card driven party game for 4 or more players in which players try to get teammates to guess a title. But the clue giver cannot spoil the story, and like Taboo has a list of words they cannot say, each with a negative point value attached.
Geek Out Family is a new edition of the popular bidding and trivia game Geek Out (2013), with topic cards the whole family can enjoy.
Finally, Unspeakable Words Deluxe is a new edition of Unspeakable Words (2007), the Cthulhu themed word game. Words are scored based on the number of angles in the letters, and players must roll less than their word score on a 20 sided die to avoid going slowly insane. The Deluxe edition plays up to 8 players, contains upgraded components, a glow in the dark die, and new art by John Kovalic.
Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new expansion for Eldritch Horror, Cities in Ruin. Earthquakes, Typhoons and other natural (or unnatural) disasters are destroying the cities of the earth. Cities in Ruin brings in 4 new investigators to try to combat the Elder Gods, and the coming of Shudde M’ell, The Cataclysm From Below. Shudde M’ell was once imprisoned in the ancient city of G’harne, but the wards have weakened and the ancient one now stirs, bringing ruin in its wake. The game even starts with Rome wiped from the map when Shudde M’ell stirs.
Cities in Ruin is scheduled to be released second quarter 2017.
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has announced the latest iteration of Love Letter, Lovecraft Letter, featuring excellent art by Vincent Dutrait and Kouji Ogata. There are no princesses in this Cthulhu Mythos inspired game – instead you are trying to eliminate your rivals and understand the cosmic horrors that exist just outside our “reality”. Watch as madness consumes your enemies, or take the initiative and remove them yourself.
Read more about Lovecraft Letter here.
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