Eric M. Lang

“Play as a God of ancient Egypt, competing to survive as society begins to forget the old ways, so that only you and your followers remain. Ankh, the symbol of life itself, that even the Gods must fight for.”

GenCon 2019 was just chock full of incredible announcements, and just when we thought the big ones were in our rear view mirror, Cool Mini or Not has just dropped another bombshell. CMoN has announced the final game in Eric M. Lang’s strategic trilogy, Ankh: Gods of Egypt.

Blood Rage was without a doubt the biggest game of 2015, having just delivered after a million dollar, high profile kickstarter campaign. The game was almost universally loved, bringing full Viking rage and glory to board games. The miniatures by artists Mike McVey and Adrian Smith are beyond imagining, and still remain among the best fantasy sculpts our hobby has seen.

Blood Rage was followed up by Rising Sun in 2017, resulting from a record breaking 4.2 million dollar kickstarter campaign. Whereas Blood Rage demonstrated an all out berserker battle royale, Rising Sun had a calculated well-negotiated war. Once again, the art made everyone swoon, and the unique gameplay made this a modern classic game.

Now, the same team at CMoN, designer Eric M. Lang, miniatures supervisor Mike McVey, and artist Adrian Smith, have announced the third in the strategic trilogy, Ankh: Gods of Egypt. Although details are sparse, just the genealogy behind this release will ensure an incredibly high production, exceptionally well crafted board game to remember for years. Players take on the role of ancient Egyptian gods, summoning monsters, converting followers, and trying to become the sole god over Egypt. A Kickstarter campaign for Ankh will appear towards the end of 2019, and the game is expected to accommodate 2-5 players. For more details, check out the press release from CMoN here.

“Trudvang Legends is a storytelling cooperative board game where 1-4 players take on the role of Heroes determined to stop the forces of Darkness. Guided by the Book of Sagas and the Legends System, the story unfolds with no gamemaster in a rich fantasy setting where your actions and choices will directly affect the environment and its inhabitants in a Living World”

Cool Mini or Not, with designers Fel Barros (Gekido: Bot Battles) and Guilherme Goulart (Arcadia Quest), and Omega Level Board Game Visionary Eric M. Lang, have just launched a new crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the story telling magnum opus Trudvang Legends. Trudvang comes from the RPG system by RiotMinds, and is just dripping with Old Norse flavor and theme. The game itself is a branching campaign, spanning many individual play sessions, combining qualities of legacy games with the replayability of scenario based adventures.

Trudvang revolves around a central map board, a saga board, and points of interest board, each with clear plastic pockets to hold cards. These cards contain story elements, important decisions, new elements and lore, and make the very play surface an ongoing legacy of adventures past and present. Additionally, an immense book of sagas tells the story, and dictates decision points during the campaign. And make no mistake, all decisions will come back, for good or for ill, making the world of Trudvang a fluid and ever changing tapestry. This “Legends System” leaves a lasting record of decisions, since important cards are sleeved into the very board.

The combat system of Trudvang is equally unique, revolving around rune tokens, push your luck excitement, and a bag-building mechanic. Players start with a set of earth, wind, fire and water runes in their bag, along with demonic runes that confer failure. Runes are drawn from the bag one at a time to be assigned to weapons, abilities, armor, or whatever is required for the challenge. If runes cannot be assigned, or if they are demonic in nature, this counts as a failure. Players hope to complete the requirements on cards, and every completed set equates to one success. But three failures means the action is a complete failure, and all accrued successes are lost. Numbers of successes can drive the story in multiple directions. Special events can add or remove runes from the bag, equating to further character development.

Players can pick from one of 6 character classes – Bard, Vitner Weaver, Dimwalker, Warrior, Ranger, or Rogue. The mythos of the game is based around Old Norse mythology, and the theme explodes around the incredible art of Paul Bonner. Trudvang comes with over 30 base miniatures, but true to a CMoN Kickstarter, new miniatures and exclusives are being added constantly. The game comes with over 450 cards for items, upgrades, stories, bestiary, lore and much much more. Additionally, almost 150 tokens, 4 rune bags, 3 main boards, 4 player boards and the 100+ page Book of Sagas make Trudvang an epic story telling adventure. The Kickstarter Campaign for Trudvang Legends continues through August 14, and the game is expected to deliver in December 2020. For more details, check out the CMoN website, and the Kickstarter page itself.

The CMON Expo 2019 is hosted in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown hotel over 3 days. This year multiple panels were organized with a number of them hosted online by Gloryhoundd on both Youtube, and Facebook, and moderated by Director of Marketing, Rhea Friesen. The day started with a bang with the crowds registering then picking up their swag bags of goodies.

Creating a Legacy in Trudvang Legends – Designer, Eric M. Lang, discussed the hotly anticipated adventure game, Trudvang Legends, designed by himself, Fel Barros, and Guilherme Goulart, and revealed it to be a 1-4 player, co-operative, story-driven board game. It’s based on Norse mythology (though with its own pantheon of gods instead of the traditional Norse pantheon), with a strong emphasis on epic stories which change the gaming world based on the outcomes of those stories. The game begins with a single, unlocked story which is played over a session. Obtaining an epic ending unlocks future stories which affect the overall game world depending on the sequence they’re played in and their outcomes. Its solo friendly and scales well in difficulty across all player counts, but its best played with more players for the full experience. Combat uses a push-your-luck, rune based system (wind, fire, water, earth, and demonic) which affects the available abilities (such as bash, or block) a character can use based on the drawn runes. Demonic runes trigger enemy abilities and can fail the heroic abilities. The Bestiary is represented by cards, and creatures’ abilities can change over the lifetime of the adventure based on story outcomes. Trudvang Legends is based on the role-playing game, Trudvang Chronicles, by Riot Minds. Game components on display were all in prototype form and are subject to change.

What’s Over the Horizon for the A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game – Designer, Michael Shinall, previewed upcoming releases and gave some sneak peeks. First on the list was an update to the Umber Champion, Gregor Clegane, Sandor Clegane, Jaime Lannister, Twyin Lannister, and Tyrion Lannister heroes who weren’t seeing enough tournament gameplay and needed to be adjusted. CMON constantly monitors tournament builds and outcomes, and listens to the community. The adjusted heroes will be available as printable cards from the CMON website and available in the War Council app. New releases include heroes for the Neutral Faction, the Baratheon Faction, and the Targaryen Faction. The Baratheons are characterized by a heavy armored, sieged style of play. The Baratheon brothers also introduce a “Loyalty” mechanism where certain units are loyal to the brothers. The Targaryens represent Daenerys Targaryen as the Khaleesi during her days with Khal Drogo. As such, the army is composed mostly of the Dothraki Horde who are expert cavalrymen and are focused on speed and blatant combat buffs. CMON also spoke of increased organized play support in the form of kits in stores.

Stopping Ragnarok in God of War: The Card Game – Designer Alexandru Olteanu, along with Head of Game Development, Eric M. Lang, gave a sneak peek of the hit PlayStation game converted into a card game. Santa Monica Studio, designers of the video game, were delighted to have CMON adapt the game into its card game form. God of War: The Card Game supports 1-4 players, who co-operatively attempt to stop Ragnarok, in 60-90 mins. Kratos, Atreus, Freya, Mimir, and the Blacksmith Brothers (Sindri and Brok) are playable characters who take part in a branching storyline of the video game. There are 4 possible endings (with accompanying final bosses), as well as 6 scenarios on the path to the Final Boss. A scenario is represented by cards arranged in an art mosaic, with 4 columns made of 8 cards, where objectives are achieved based on player positioning in the columns, and card play. At it’s core, the game is an action/puzzle/deck-building game which is easy to teach, has few core mechanisms, but deep strategy. The designer also made it clear the solo gameplay wasn’t slapped on but had its own design focus, as players use an alternate version of Kratos as their sole character, with alternate Mimir and Atreus support characters to handle the increased difficulty of solo play.

At the final panel of the day, a Q&A with CMON’s Designers, they also spoke of more family centric games on the way as they branch into bigger markets.

CMON hosted multiple tournaments and events which included demos, and learn-to-play sessions. The Dice Tower crew (Sam and Roy), were also in attendance. While Friday has the least number of people in attendance, this sold out event had very few open tables and even the Quiet Gaming area, a separate room, was busy. The CMON Expo will continue to run until Sunday.

The all powerful hive mind that is American Mensa has once again assembled in their hollowed halls to rate the games of 2019. Every year, more than 300 members of Mensa spend a mad weekend of games and judgement to bestow upon a deserving few the title of Mensa Select Winner. So without further ado, the Mensa Select Winners for 2019 are:

Architects of the West Kingdom by designers Shem Phillips and S J Macdonald, Garphill Games and Renegade Game Studios is a wonderful twist on the oft used worker placement mechanism. In Architects, players can improve their actions by adding more and more workers to a single location on the board, but other players can capture a group of opposing workers, to later sell the gang for cash.

Gizmos by designer Phil Walker-Harding and CMoN Games is an elegant engine building game expanding on the Splendor model, centering on a delightful marble dispenser. Players take turns collecting colored marbles, all the while purchasing cards to improve their collection ability, marble color conversions, storage abilities and card building power.

Gunkimono by designer Jeffrey D. Allers and Renegade Game Studios is a re-imagining of Heartland (2009), transforming the original farming motif to one of war-torn feudal Japan. In this quasi-abstract tile laying game, players choose between expansion for points, and building up for future strongholds.

Planet by designer Urtis Šulinskas and Blue Orange Games is a tile laying, city building game on a grand scale. In a move that would have Euclid roll in his grave, players place magnetic terrain tiles on a 3 dimensional “planet”, creating vast areas of desert, ocean, forest, etc. in order to meet specific goals.

Victorian Masterminds by master designers Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang with CMoN Games is a breathtakingly beautiful steampunk worker placement masterpiece. Players each take on the role of super villains in the recent wake of Sherlock Holmes’ disappearance, trying to take over the world with their unique doomsday plots.

Bloodborne: The Board Game, is based on the dark and challenging Bloodborne video game which is exclusively available to the Sony PlayStation video game console, and developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment. In the board game, designed by Michael Shinall (known for Xenoshyft: Onslaught), and Eric M. Lang (known for Blood Rage), 1-4 players are Hunters who explore the town of Yharnam and fight through beasts, monsters, and frenzied townsfolk. Game play is intended for players aged 14+ and plays in 45-75 mins.

Players explore Yarnham, represented by tiles which form the board, and encounter threats as they make their way through the sprawling town. A card-driven combat system is used to defeat the Beast Plague across a campaign to discover the source of evil which besets Yarnham. There are 4 different campaigns, each with 3 chapters that have unique content and varying enemy behavior. Bloodborne: The Board Game features many detailed models, with more being unlocked as the campaign stretch goals are achieved.

The Kickstarter campaign for Bloodborne: The Board Game has already reached 10x its goal with over 20,000 backers, with almost all of the stretch goals already unlocked. The campaign will run until May 14th, 2019, with the estimated delivery happening in May of 2020.

Wizkids is adding a trilogy of new sets to the Dungeons and Dragons: Dice Masters line of collectible dice games, this time focusing on the city of Waterdeep. Waterdeep has become a wealth of legend and lore in the Dungeons and Dragons mythos, and now Eric Lang and Mike Elliott‘s classic Dice Master is incorporating characters and monsters from this iconic city.

D&D Dice Masters: Trouble in Waterdeep is a 2 player Campaign Box containing everything needed to play a complete game, including Sidekick Dice, Action Dice, rules and dice bags. This set includes over a dozen characters, including Xanathar, Manshoon’s spies, and Volo.

The D&D Dice Masters: Adventures in Waterdeep Team Pack contains 24 cards and 16 dice for those already familiar with Dice Masters, and can be paired with any Campaign Box or Starter Set. Characters in this pack include Brawlwin Chainminer, the Black Viper, Jarlaxle, and Durnan, as well as many others making their first appearance. Similarly, D&D Dice Masters: The Zhentarim Team Pack includes Manshoon, Istrid Horn, and Ziraj, as well as many other Zhentarim in its 16 dice and 24 cards.

Look for all three Waterdeep themed Dice Master sets at your FLGS in September 2019.

Cool Mini or Not has just started a Kickstarter campaign for a digital version of Eric Lang‘s 2015 mega-hit Blood Rage (BGG #27). The digital version is being produced by Exozet and looks amazing. Each region of the board looks different, with unique topology, climate and villages. All of the cards and figures are meticulously rendered in 3D, including new miniatures not seen before. The digital game includes network play for up to 4 players, solo play against the AI, and mixtures of the two. One of the most exciting aspects of the Kickstarter is the Physical Viking Pledge, which includes the actual miniatures for all of the new 3D assets along with the digital game. These include four new monsters: the Mountain Giantess, a new wolf called Garm, the Wolfwoman and the Seer Troll. Other models are the new Stag Clan with Mystics, 6 Golden Gods of Asgard miniatures, and new expansion cards for 5 players.

The Kickstarter for Blood Rage Digital continues through December 10, and is expected to deliver digital rewards in December 2019, and physical rewards in August 2019. Additionally, Kickstarter backers will be privy to a closed beta version of the game before release. For more information, check out the Kickstarter page or CMoN’s website.

Back in December we reported on a newly formed partnership between Steve Jackson Games and CMON in order for CMON to produce Munchkin themed board games.  Well now we have seen the announcement of the first fruits of that labor, and that is Munchkin Dungeon.  This is going to be a dungeon crawl board game set in the Munchkin universe, featuring the same classic Munchkin art, and includes a healthy dose of take that just like the other Munchkin games.  Art will be handled by Munchkin veteran John Kovalic, and the design of the game will be in the talented hands of Eric M. Lang and Andrea Chiarvesio.  In the game you will be exploring the dungeon and trying to gain the most treasure and levels, but you will have to take risks because whenever you flee you have to take shame which counts against you.  You will also have plenty of opportunities to try and through your fellow players under the bus so betrayal will be sudden and inevitable.  The person who has the most combined levels and treasure at the end will be the winner.

Look for this game to hit Kickstarter in 2019 and feature lots of Munchkin jokes, a pile of detailed minis (this IS CMON afterall), and hopefully lots of fun.  You can find out more on CMON’s website and follow their Facebook page for more updates.

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.

Cool Mini Or Not has a new Kickstarter Campaign for HATE, a brutal combat board game based on the “Chronicles of HATE” graphic novel by Adrian Smith. HATE is designed by Guillotine Games, the creators of Zombicide in all its incarnations, while being overseen by Eric Lang. In HATE, 2-6 players each control their team of 11 characters from a single tribe: 2 Youngbloods, 6 Warriors, 1 Shaman, 1 Champion and 1 Towering Prince, a massive character from a more evolved line of humans. Each character has its own stats and abilities, and each tribe also has a unique deck of 8 cards which add bonuses to battle.

Fallen characters, if captured, can be tortured to accumulate Hate, or can be consumed for resources. HATE is a game for mature audiences, and features dark violence, brutally detailed miniatures, as well as some nudity. Additionally, HATE will not be moving to retail stores, selling exclusively through the Kickstarter Campaign. HATE core set will initially come with 4 asymmetric tribes, although CMoN has stated the game will support 6 players as more tribes are introduced.

The Kickstarter campaign for HATE will continue through February 7, and is expected to deliver in January 2019.