Isaac Childres


During the recent Dice Tower Con 2019 festivities, I was given the rare opportunity to help playtest an early version of Restoration Game’s upcoming title Return to Dark Tower. The original Dark Tower game (1981) was a vivid Christmas memory for me, occupying my every dream when it released in my 13-year old world. The large, foreboding, rotating black tower, electronic buttons and lights, and fantasy story told a story of battle and conquest, admittedly with 8-bit beeps and boops. Plus it ate D cell batteries like a manic golf cart.

Return to Dark Tower (2020) by designers Justin Jacobson, Noah Cohen, legacy game deity Rob Daviau, and Gloomhaven creator Isaac Childres, is now a story driven cooperative game where heroes work to gain resources, strengthen their armies, and wage war on the powers within the tower. The board is reminiscent of the original 4 regions, each containing a player’s buildings. And in the center of the board will be the namesake tower.

The tower will be a marvel of engineering, a robotic cube tower with multiple rotating rings, designed by the team behind the exceptional Beasts of Balance. The game uses an app, which can communicate with the tower, turning rings to target players and regions. Each turn the tower rotates and changes, raining devastation upon the board.

The game I played went magnificently, and we quested throughout the land, eventually breaching the tower walls. The guardians within were no match for our group and we emerged victorious. From this early play test, I am personally excited to see how this game turns out in 2020, hopefully rekindling my 13-year old obsession with the Dark Tower.

Last year, Restoration Games announced their intention to bring back Fireball Island during the Dice Tower Live show at Gen Con. Their project erupted onto Kickstarter and funded exceedingly well, to the tune of 2.8 million dollars. It was no secret then that Restoration Games was going to set it sights to bigger and bolder projects. Today during the same annual show, we learned what the next one will be – Return to Dark Tower, co-designed by Restoration Games’ own Rob Daviau and Isaac Childres, multi-award winning designer of Gloomhaven.

This restoration project is based on the 1981 classic, Dark Tower, a competitive adventure game featuring an electronic tower that took inputs and tracked stats, battles, and equipment. Players would navigate the board to bolster up their forces and brave random encounters on their way to the titular tower in the center in the hopes of being the player to ascend it and quash the denizens within. It was no surprise why it was such a hot toy at the time, being this device-driven game in a high fantasy setting. It’s equally no shock that the game was so highly requested, and now it will get the full Restoration Games treatment with no less level of attention that Fireball Island got, with it’s own Kickstarter to boot in 2019 for a projected 2020 release.

“Daviau and Childres—along with Jacobson and Restoration’s Tinker-in-Chief, J.R. Honeycutt—have been working behind the scenes for months to develop the core game mechanics. The game strives to provide players with interesting choices about which quests to pursue, how to best use resources to keep the growing evil in check, and when to make that final decision to assault the tower. Jacobson revealed that, while the game is still early in development, one of the reasons for the announcement’s timing was to allow them to do significant playtesting without fear of the story leaking.”

The only detail we know that’s been set in stone is that this new iteration of the game will be cooperative. Rob Daviau is quoted via press release in saying, “We always believed that, had it come out today, Dark Tower would have been a cooperative game. The real threat is that imposing tower. It will take all of the players working together to defeat it.” This is a very cool development, and I agree, cooperative games like Legends of Andor have accomplished some of what Dark Tower originally set to achieve within a framework of one of the most classic fantasy tropes – an adventuring party. This shift is a good fit for Dark Tower, and with the team of rockstar game designers and developers at the helm there’s a lot here to be ecstatic about. For more information about this project as it unfolds, be sure to check Restoration Games’ website for updates.

Publisher Asmodee Digital have enlisted developer, Flaming Fowl Studios, to adapt the immensely popular Gloomhaven board game for PC. Its set to be released on Steam in the 4th quarter of 2018.

“Deep in the darkest dungeon, amongst the clinking chains and screams of their victims, Flaming Fowl and Asmodee Digital have teamed up to make you once again live through the epic journey of Gloomhaven… digitally!

Our development minions are working days and nights so that you can discover or rediscover this one of a kind tactical, turn-based RPG. 

In this rogue-like dungeon-crawling adaptation of the famous board game, you will journey through terrifying randomly generated dungeons, fight against increasingly horrific and powerful foes…or die trying.” [source]

The digital adaption of Isaac Childres‘ critically acclaimed board game will play out in a turn-based, rogue-like game with tactical gameplay. No longer do you need to imagine the world of Gloomhaven, as the dungeons and monsters are rendered in stunning 3D graphics.

It’s not clear if the mystery of unlocking the heroes and locations will follow the same system as the board game but it appears that they will all be available. The minimum PC requirements indicates that the game will only work on Windows PC and not Mac computers, though the hardware requirements are fairly minimal. See the Steam product web page for more details.

Isaac Childres and Cephalofair Games have announced that an expansion to Gloomhaven, named Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles. Gloomhaven is the legacy card-driven dungeon crawl that hit the market like a nuclear bomb out of Kickstarter  in early 2017. The 22 pound monster has since dominated the Hotness and Best boardgame lists on BGG, and even managed to crack into the #1 spot in Tom Vasel’s top board games of all time. Forgotten Circles will be released through normal retail channels in time for Essen Spiel 2018 (October), and will contain 20 new scenarios that take place after the main story of Gloomhaven. Forgotten Circles will also include 7 new monster types with 3 bosses, 14 new items, and a new character class, the Aesther Diviner.

After an excellent Dice Tower Con, it’s time to get back into the swing of things with another Wallet Kickers post.

First is a nice addition to any gamer’s wall, and that is Scott King’s Gaming Calendar for 2018.  On this calendar you will be able to choose a standard calendar with pre-selected pictures, or a custom calendar where you get to pick your own pictures and add your own holidays.  In the standard calendar you will get twelve stunning pictures taken by the talented Scott King to look  at throughout the year of games like Sagrada, Tiny Epic Quest, and Junk Art.  Selecting the custom calendar allows you to pick from nearly 200 photos he has taken over the years of many poular games and gaming components.  Personally I already have the 2017 edition hanging on my wall and I am looking forward to one being there in 2018 as well.  Check out the Kickstarter today.

Next is a game ending in the next week and that is Wendake.  In Wendake you are the chief of a native american tribe, trying to build up your tribe to be the best in all aspects.  Actions are taken by a unique 3×3 grid of tiles where you activate a row, column, or diagonal, taking all the actions in that line.  After you take actions you will flip the tiles over, giving a different action as well as showing what tiles have been used.  This grid will be constantly cycling, and over the course of the game you will get new actions to slot into the grid allowing you to do more.  Some of the actions include movement, harvesting, fishing, hunting, placing out new workers and canoes, and even mask ceremony cards which act as a set collecting aspect to the game.  At the end you score for the lowest position on the two pairs of “wampum” tracks, and whoever has the highest combined score wins.  To check out this great looking game, head on over to the Kickstarter page.

After that is Legendary Creatures, a deck building type game, with no relation to the Legendary system, where you are competing for renown in four different realms.  In this game you will be drawing and playing creature cards to perform different actions.  The order you play cards and which cards you play and which you send out on expeditions makes a difference and makes for lots of great choices.  You will also get the chance to add new cards into your deck, in typical deck building style, giving you more options and combinations to toy with.  Then there are spells, amulets, gifts, and landmarks which give you extra bonuses and you have too many combinations to count.  At the end your score will be your position on the four realm tracks as well as any points you earned throughout the game, most points is the winner.  You can head over to the Kickstarter page to find out more and pledge for a copy.

Following that we have TMG’s latest deluxified game, Crusaders, Thy Will be Done, a roundel action type game about crusaders in the middle ages trying to get the most influence.  In the game you have a roundel of 6 actions and actions tokens on each one.  When you pick an action, you get as many action points of that action based on the number of tokens on that wedge.  Once you finish the action you will distribute the tokens in a mancala like fashion around the circle.  Different actions let you building buildings, muster troops, fight the enemies on the board, travel around the board, or just gain influence.  Plus, as you build more buildings you uncover spots on your player board, you will gain the bonuses depicted on the board, giving you some extra motivation to build them.  There are also individual player powers and ways to upgrade you roundel to make things more interesting.  So if this crusade themed game sounds interesting to you, check out the Kickstarter today.

Next is the latest in the tactical card combat category of games, similar to Summoner Wars, called Stonebound Saga.  This game features absolutely stunning artwork, and the player cards seem to be designed to show off as much of it as possible while giving you needed info.  In the game you will be controlling different characters, each with their own specific set of moves and abilities powered by speaking stones.  You will be moving your character around on the board, and launching attacks in the hope of eliminating the other team.  There are also 7 different classes you can chose from which have different ways of playing, from healers, to bards, to powerful warriors and even rangers.  Needless to say, if you enjoy games like Summoner Wars, this game deserves a second look for sure, check out their Kickstarter page.

Next to last we have the latest game from Isaac Childres on Kickstarter, and that is Founders of Gloomhaven.  Isaac’s previous game, Gloomhaven, has positively exploded and is an adventure game that has legacy elements as well as being just a great game.  So you might be surprised to find that he has gone a different direction with this game and has created a tile laying euro game about building the city of Gloomhaven.  In this game you will be working to build up your prestige so that when the city is finished, you are the most prestigious race of them all.  But, lest you think this is a purely competitive game, there are actually elements of the game that require cooperation to achieve.  Each race has a certain element they produce, but in order to create the more advanced resources, you have to combine with other races, meaning you won’t be able to go it alone.  Add in a myriad of different action cards to choose from and a voting system to determine which point scoring buildings get added, and you have a euro style game with a Gloomhaven theme and feel.  Check out the Kickstarter today to pledge for you copy.

Lastly we have a lightning quick campaign, and that is Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin Special Delivery.  This box is another in the ever growing line of curated boxes that you blindly buy, and find out the contents on arrival.  One difference from the others is that this is just for one box, not a subscription, and you at least know it will contain the Munchkin base game.  Other things contained in the box include several different expansions and/or boosters, Munchkin accessories, a special rule printed in the box, and even Steve Jackson’s signature (while supplies last).  So if you want to gift Munchkin, or want to jump into the game with some hand picked extras, give this Kickstarter a look before it ends on the 16th of July.

GrandCon is in it’s 5th year and will be coming to Grand Rapids, MI in September.  They will be continuing their tradition of lots of gaming space, excellent guests and a whole slew of vendors for you to shop at.  Some of the notable guests at the convention are The Dice Tower’s own Tom Vasel and Zee Garcia, illustrators Beth Sorbel and Corinna Roberts, game designers Richard Launius and Isaac Childres, and many more.  The vendor list so far is also nothing to sneeze at with names like Broken Token, Renegade Games, and Smirk and Dagger, plus others both big and small.  So if you are in the Michigan area, or any area really, and want to attend, then head on over to their website to register.  And as a bonus, people who register before June 30th are also entered into a drawing to win a bag of goodies which includes:

  • A Dungeon Roll Bundle by Tasty Minstrel Games
  • A Copy of Steam Works by Tasty Minstrel Games
  • An Elderwood Academy wooden dice tray carrier by Elderwood Academy
  • A Vault of Midnight $25 Gift Card
  • An Autographed Copy of Star Wars Rogue One by Matt Forbeck
  • A GrandCon 2017 T-Shirt

SO what are you waiting for?  Register today!

gloomhavenBetter late than never right? Gloomhaven, designed by Isaac Childres and published by Cephalofair Games, was a game I meant to post about a little over a week ago as it not only ticked all the right boxes for me, but the components looked like they were going to be wonderful, the game was going to be stock full of goodies, and there’s quite a bit of information out there on the Kickstarter page. What a wonderful surprise, when I checked, to see that the campaign has nearly doubled it’s funding goal.

So what sets this apart from other campaign-driven games? Well, here’s a few things I found of interest:

  • There’s no dice. What’s that you say? Yes, NO DICE. Everything is determined by the cards.
  • New career paths, character classes, and sub-plots are unlocked through the many branches of the story-line.
  • Interactive map board
  • TONS of goodies

Here’s a glimpse of the components:

gloomhaven comp

There is TONS of information available on the Kickstarter page here. Once there you can watch video reviews, learn about online game play demonstrations, as well as read-up on all the stretch goals that have already been unlocked. Gloomhaven is definitely one of the hot games on Kickstarter!!