The Big Book of Madness (2015) is a cooperative board game by designer Maxime Rambourg, which pits 2-5 student magicians against the monsters escaping from the eponymous Big Book. Each player takes on the role of a student, each with unique powers and abilities. Players must turn the pages of the book, defeat the curses within, and eventually shut the tome for all time, all before succumbing to madness. Players use deck building to create a deck of elemental cards, spending these elements to buy new, more powerful spells, or to support their fellow students. For without cooperation between the players, all is lost.
Iello has announced the
first expansion for this well received game, The
Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element. This expansion includes 2 new
modules, Dark Matter and Phobias. Dark Matter adds Dark Curses, the Dark Book,
Dark Monsters and new characters to the game. Phobias adds new Phobia Cards,
which are madness cards with permanent effects.
IELLO has two new games coming to your favorite retailers this September. The first is the all new Ninja Academy, designed by Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, and Théo Rivière. The game pits 3-to-5 players against one another in a wide variety of dexterity challenges. Challenges are decided at random, and alternate between tests for the whole group or a duel between two players. There’s really quite an assortment of mini-games here, as per the game’s description:
“For example, try to be the first player to place a ninja meeple on each of your fingertips! Try to guess how many ninjas your opponent put in the box just by shaking it! Be the quickest to assemble 5 wood logs vertically! Be strong enough to collect points depending on your score, but also be strategic enough when you bet on the winner of each duel!”
The second new release is an expansion for 8-bit Box called Double Rumble. Designed by the same team as Ninja Academy above, this game emulates NES-era side-scrolling beat-em-ups like River City Ransom and is playable solo or cooperative with a friend! Players take on waves of baddies coming from left and right, and it takes timing, tactics, and special attacks to survive the increasingly difficult waves and reach the boss. Fans of 8-bit Box and the retro games it calls back to will really like the flair of this one. For more information about either of these releases, be sure to check out IELLO’s website in the coming weeks as their catalog updates and watch out for their retail release early September.
So day 3 brought bigger crowds for sure! Indystar.com reported over 70,000 attendees and the crowds in the corridors certainly seemed to validate that! So my first visit was to the Plaid Hat Games’ booth (823). Many that know me may know that Mice and Mystics is my family’s all-time favorite game and PHG certainly doesn’t continue to disappoint.
Aftermath, from designer Jerry Hawthorne, was available to playtest. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which players control various critters in a story-book cooperative game similar to that of Mice & Mystics.
” In the game, you play as a misfit band of critters known by their colony as “providers”. There’s the guinea pig with anger issues, a hamster that talks fast and drives faster, a small mouse with keen eyes and a lot to prove, and a mysterious vole who’s borderline feral. These characters each have their own personalities, play-styles, and personal goals. “
Also available to demo and purchase is a new release, Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein, designed by Dan Blanchett. The game pits you, competitively, against other players as you test your monster-building skills.
“Through worker placement and careful management of decomposing resources, you’ll gather materials from the cemeteries and morgues around the city, conduct valuable research at the Academy of Science, hire less-than-reputable associates, and toil away in your lab — all in an effort to assemble a new form of life and infuse it with a “spark of being”.
The artwork was phenomenal and it really combined a great set of mechanics – blending worker placement with set collection and a touch of variable player powers! Stop by the booth to give it a test!
It was next off to the iELLO booth to take a look at one of their newest releases – Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon, designed by Bruno Cathala. Ishtar was a beautiful tile-laying game that just rang of high quality! The circular tile pieces were of the thick card stock that we’re used to from iELLO and Cathala didn’t disappoint with game mechanics. Players are responsible for turning an arid desert into a flourishing garden by placing trees and flowers.
“Get them before your opponents, recruit apprentices, send them to earn points in the copses of flowers you have created, block others and think carefully of the upgrades to purchase if you want to become the best gardener at the end of the game!”
As you’re undoubtedly aware, there is much more to Gen Con than JUST board games….there’s board game upgrades! And one of the leaders in the upgrade business is Top Shelf Gamer (2051). The folks over at TSG offer a variety of upgrades from token and resource bundles to coins and gaming overlays and for tons of current and popular games!
My last stop of the day was near and dear to my heart. I’m a HUGE fan of the old Diablo game. Sanctum, from CGE Games (room 237) scratches a very large itch for me. I was able to see a demo of this game (due to release at Essen 2019). It’s a competitive game that fans of the hack n slash genre should feel very comfortable with. Supporting up to 4-players, Sanctum will have players hacking and slashing while obtaining lots of weapon and skill upgrades. With an inventive skill leveling system, Santcum will have players traversing the map and leveling up their character while eventually heading to a boss fight at the climax of the game.
“As one of the heroes, you embark upon a quest to rid the land of a demonic invasion, fighting your way through countless enemies and gearing up to face the Lord of Demons himself. In the process of venturing deeper into the land, ever so much closer to the Demon Lord, the heroes have to improve their equipment and adapt their combat tactics to face the increasing difficulty of combat.”
Also available to purchase in the CGE room was a fun-little word cooperative game, Letter Jam! I got to play this and, although the rules took a bit to pick up, once you had a solid understanding of the game it made for a fun word game that had players puzzling out different words to culminate in a final word scramble that led to a big payoff – or a realization at just what that word was you were trying to guess several turns ago!
Bunny Kingdom (2017) is a well regarded (BGG #456) card drafting and area control game from the magical designer Richard Garfield. In Bunny Kingdom, players draft cards to place resources, bunnies and buildings on the board, trying to create fiefs with the most influence. Iello has just announced In the Sky, the first expansion to Bunny Kingdom. In the Sky adds a new Sky board to the game with ways to link fiefs to the main board. Additionally, this expansion adds a new larger 5-tower building, the Carrothedral, supplies for a 5th player, and some new mechanisms to the base game. Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky is due to hit stores in April 2019, perchance timed to a certain rabbit themed holiday…
Our friends at Casual Gaming Revolution are doing their annual award for the most fun, innovative, and unique casual game form the previous year. What makes their process particularly exciting is that they allow for the public to vote, the winner of which is added to the tabulations of their own panel of 12 judges. So they want YOU! Yes, you! You have a real horse in this race!
“Last year’s award resulted in a very close race — the winner by a razor thin margin was Sagrada by Floodgate Games, with Azul and Go Nuts for Donuts as the runners up. This year, we have another very tough race between three great games. So, let your voice be heard!“
Nessos is a new card game from IELLO where players are Greek heroes who imprison mythological creatures into sacred amphoras. These are offered to the gods who will favor the most outstanding hero with the rank of gods’ Chosen One. Charon, the ferryman of Hades with a penchant for coins (what does he even spend them on?!), is out to stop the heroes from pleasing the gods and will try to send them on a one-way trip to Hell. Nessos is designed by 佐山貴亮 (Takaaki Sayama) and 荒尾 俊樹 (Toshiki Arao), with art by Miguel Coimbra (known for 7 Wonders). It supports 3-6 players, aged 8+, and plays in about 20 mins.
On a player’s turn they offer an Amphora card to another player who can then accept it, or refuse it by offering it to another player. Players collect Amphora cards in order to be the first to reach a specified number of points to win the game. If any player gets all 3 Charon cards, they lose the round.
Nessos is the latest addition to IELLO’s mini-games series and should be released on December 13th, 2018. For more information on how the game plays you can watch The Dice Tower’s Zee Garcia’s review of Nessos.
Everything about 8Bit Box hearkens back to the golden age of video game consoles. 8Bit Box is not just a game, it is a game system. Included in 8Bit Box are six Controllers, or player action boards where players will select their movement and action choices in secret. A bag of generic universal components come with the Controller box and they are used in all the other games. Like a video game console, 8Bit Box comes with three games (Pixoid, Outspeed, and Stadium) that can be played using the player controllers and universal components. Each game provides its own game board and additional components needed for the game. In Pixoid, one player is Pixoid navigating a maze to collect cubes while the other players are bugs seeking to capture Pixoid. In Outspeed, players are futuristic cars racing to the finish line. Each part of the course has special rules that affect player movement along the track. The first racer to reach the finish, or the last surviving racer, is the winner. In Stadium, players compete in teams in a variety of track and field events. Teams determine which player to compete in each event to gain the most points. Each event does exhaust the player’s energy, so teams need to work together to ensure they do not exhaust their athletes before the events conclude. The team with the highest score wins. While Iello has provided three games with 8Bit Box, there is room in the box for one more game and there is certainly room in the game console system for many more games. 8Bit Box players 3-6 players, ages 6+. Game length varies from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on which game within the console is being played. 8Bit Box is available for pre-order now. Look for 8Bit Box in stores near you on 25 October.
Rob Searing here, Manager of Dice Tower News. Often I am spending my time writing and editing articles. It’s not often that I get to share “in” the news. GenCon is one of the few conventions I get to cover and there’s always so much going on. I spent a bit of time in the Exhibit Hall today meeting with various publishers and wanted to post some highlights and tips on where to consider running to when the convention opens Thursday morning!
BREAKING GAMES – BOOTH 2329
Expancity, designed by Alex Cutler and Matt Fantastic, is a gorgeous city building game composed of some wonderful and stackable building blocks that are placed on commercial and residential tiles. Scoring is accomplished via numerous ways including strategically placing buildings near common structures. Expancity was demoed at Dice Tower Con and was a huge hit. You can view Tom’s review here.
Rise of Tribes, designed by Brad Brooks, is a civilization game composed of area control and dice rolling mechanics complimented with variable player powers. Players will take control of a prehistoric tribe and scoring will depend on how well you gather resources, build villages, accomplish goals and more. You can view a detailed review of the game here.
Rise of Tribes, along with Expancity, are of excellent quality and gameplay seemed fun and engaging. You can head over to booth 2329 to demo either or pick up a copy.
PEGASUS SPIELE – BOOTH 2013
Talisman is not a game unfamiliar to gamers (the 4th edition of the game was released in 2007). Talisman: Legendary Tales, however, is a completely new take on the universe. Legendary Tales is designed by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach and is published right here in the Unites States (right in Indiana to be precise). It contains elements of bagbuilding, variable player powers and is cooperative.
“In Talisman: Legendary Tales, the players must work together as an adventure party to recover the five legendary Talismans that have been lost. During each adventure, the party endeavors to recover one of the lost Talismans. The adventures must be played in order. You may repeat adventures, and you may play one or more adventures in a game session.
Over the course of this story, you will travel across a wondrous land and have exciting adventures in which you must make important decisions and defend yourself against cruel enemies. As an adventure party, you succeed in each adventure once you have completed the final task and have recovered the Talisman. Be careful: You have only a limited amount of time!”
Legendary Tales sports some really nice artwork, by Falk Holzapfel, and is bound to entice by reinventing this 30+ year old game.
LEDER GAMES – BOOTH 3043
Leder Games really hit the map with the release of Vast. This year they look to top the game with another asymmetrical player-powers game where players will contend for control of an immense wilderness. Root is designed by Cole Wehrle and was first seen on Kickstarter. Available for purchase at booth 3043, Root can also be purchased along with an expansion – The Riverfolk expansion. The game takes advantage of multi-purpose cards and is the next step in asymmetric design. Made to engage the entire family, Root is sure to thrill and spark your imagination. It was one of my most-anticipated games at the con this year.
NAUVOO GAMES – BOOTH 2007
The Reckoners is a game based upon Brandon Sanderson’s book series of the same name. It is a cooperative game designed by Brett Sobol and Seth Van Orden. Nauvoo Games, publishers of the hit Stockpile, is offering three different version of the game at booth 2007 – one that includes painted miniatures and deluxe components. Reckoners
“The Reckoners plays like a challenging, ever-shifting puzzle. If you like co-operative games where you carefully manage resources, build powerful action combos, create tactical plans with your teammates, and work together to take down the bad guy while on the brink of defeat, then be sure to check out The Reckoners.”
The Reckoners was Tom’s #1 most anticipated game at GenCon and a full review can be found here.
TASTY MINSTREL GAMES – BOOTH 1337
(Trays not included in the game)
Although not debuting at GenCon, Pioneer Days, designed by Matthew Dunstan and Chris Marling, is an American west drafting and dice game centered around the ole’ Oregon Trail. With absolutely beautiful artwork by Guille Longhini and Sergi Marcet, Pioneer Days will have you drawing dice out of a bag to roll and then draft the to collect money, hire people, or take action all with hopes of earning the most points. You can view a full review of the game here and pick up a copy over at TMG’s booth at 1337. There’s plenty of other reasons to stop by their booth (Trade on the Tigris, Jungli-La, and more).
IELLO – BOOTH 129
Last, but certainly not least, is IELLO. As always, IELLO has quite a bit they are featuring this year although my favorite is Raids, designed by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J Gilbert. In Raids, a viking-themed game, players will sail to tiles that are laid – vying for control of them or going to collect runes or goods…along with other vikings to bolster your crew. The components are fantastic – gold painted bits and metal coins – along with fantastic artwork by Biboun. IELLO is bound to be busy so make sure to stop by there early!
There’s bound to be more. Please follow our Tweets and Instagram posts throughout the convention and keep an eye out for exciting news announcements through the week!
Calling Dr. Frankenstein. Do you have an idea for a monster? A giant monster capable of being the King of Tokyo? Then head over to Board Game Geek where IELLO is running a contest right now for fans to create the next new monster for King of Tokyo. Eight finalists will be selected to compete in a head-to-head three round bracket of voting to determine the winning monster. The winner will be published as a promotional monster.
See contest rules for details, but hurry, the contest end May 22nd.
UK Games Expo is the premier event in the UK where all aspects of the gaming hobby are represented under one roof. It will run on Friday, 1st June to Sunday 3rd June 2018. The UK Games Expo Awards were developed and introduced in 2007 to recognize the achievements of manufacturers and publishers of eligible games in a variety of game genres.
This is a shortlist of the games nominated in no particular order.