J.R. Honeycutt

Today Restoration Games gave what is arguably their biggest announcement yet. Unmatched is the restoration of Star Wars: Epic Duels, whose design became the basis of Heroscape. That’s not the only thing that makes this announcement so big, however, as Unmatched isn’t just one game – it will be a line of products featuring a variety of themes and intellectual properties. It’s such an undertaking, in fact, that Restoration Games isn’t doing this alone; They are collaborating with Mondo Games, the publishers behind The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31, who will be bringing their extended partnerships to bear.

“Unmatched pits two or four players against each other, with each player taking the role of their own hero. Each hero is represented by a unique ability and a custom deck of action cards, and each set comes with a double-sided board with different battlefields. The first two sets in the line are Battle of Legends, Vol. 1 and the eponymous Robin Hood vs. Big Foot. The Battle of Legends set includes King Arthur, Alice, Medusa, and Sinbad. Heroes from any set can be played against each other, making for surprising and exciting matchups and tons of replayability.”

These first sets will debut at Gen Con this year, but that’s far from all of it. There will be a Bruce Lee limited edition pack and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer set expected to release later this year as well. This is exactly the kind of thing fans have been clamoring for since Restoration Games started taking requests, and it’s fun to see it come alive at last and with so many cool characters to kick it all off. Unfortunately this one article alone won’t do it all justice, so to learn more about Unmatched be sure to visit Restoration Games’ website for further reading and updates.

Restoration Games has announced they are releasing Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit at Origins Game Fair on June 12, 2019. This modernized version of the original Conspiracy features a robust rules update by the Restoration design crew and stunning new art from the award-winning Matt Griffin.

The original Conspiracy, from 1973, was designed by Dr. Eric Solomon. It featured a unique mechanic:  Players move secret agents around the board, trying to bring the mysterious briefcase to their HQ and win the game. However, the trick is that the agents don’t belong to any of the players. Instead, players secretly pay the agents. Other players can challenge a move by revealing how much they had paid off, to decide the outcome. This mingles blind bidding with shared piece control – an intriguing combo.

The Restoration Games design team, consisting of Rob Daviau, J.R. Honeycutt and Justin D. Jacobson, kept the core concept from the original intact but made changes to accommodate the tastes of the modern gamer. Some changes include:

  • The number of agents has been decreased from 8 to 6 to increase player interaction
  • Train stations were added for easier movement
  • Each agent has a special power that activates when they are moved
  • A significant endgame change

The subtitle of the game signals the appearance of Dr. Solomon in honor of the game’s original designer who appears if no one has won after a certain number of rounds. Dr. Solomon enters the scene and at the end of each subsequent round, a die is rolled, which could immediately trigger the end of the game. If this happens, the player who has paid off the most to Dr. Solomon wins. This creates an interesting choice for players: Do I pay off the agents that can help get the briefcase to my HQ or do I pay off Dr. Solomon and play a defensive strategy?

Rob Daviau, Chief Restoration Officer for Restoration Games says: “It’s thinkier than most of our other games. You are playing cat-and-mouse the whole time. The core conceit – you aren’t sure who you are in control of – is magical.”

The announcement from Restoration Games was made in front of a packed audience at the Dice Tower Live Show on the Dice Tower Cruise somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

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.

Restoration Games just dropped a big announcement at GenCon, and that is their next restored game is going to be the highly sought after game, Fireball Island.  Those who know about this game know that at it’s core, it’s just a roll and move game (Surprise!), but what made it special was the toy factor.  In this game you are moving over this 3D plastic terrain and the angry idol in the center would sometimes roll “fireballs” down the path, taking out bridges and maybe even some players.  Manage to grab the idol’s ruby and get it off the island and you win!

Restoration Games definitely has found memories of this game, and after a long year of negotiating with the license holder, they have been given the go ahead to create a new version of the game.  Not much has been said about it other than it being worked on by the in house designers, Rob Daviau, J.R. Honeycutt, and Justin D. Jacobson, and will feature plastic elements molded by the talented Noah Adelman.  More information will be revealed as time goes on, and if you are at PAX Unplugged in November you will get to find out more at their “Blueprints” talk.  The rest of us can read the press release below for more information, and then patiently await the launch of the Kickstarter at some point in the future.

Indianapolis, IN – August 18, 2017. Today, Restoration Games announced they are releasing Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar in 2018. The announcement was made in front of a sold-out crowd on the Dice Tower Live Show at Gen Con, the show at which Restoration Games first introduced themselves last year.

First published in 1986 by Milton-Bradley, the game is remembered for its highly kinetic action and unique production. The original game board is a three-dimensional, injection-molded plastic tray, featuring peaks and valleys and chutes for marbles. Atop the board rests Vul-Kar, an imposing idol from whose mouth the titular red marbles careen. In the original game, the players are explorers, seeking to traverse the mountain, steal Vul-Kar’s gem, and return to the dock, all without ending up in a heap of ash and cinder at the bottom of some gulley. However, the game play itself was simplistic, little more than the straight roll-and-move, common in that day, with a little lose-a-turn take-that thrown in.

The restored version of the game, now called Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar, takes the players back to the island some 30 years later. Angered by the transgressors, Vul-Kar laid a dark curse upon the island, rent it asunder, and unleashed a host of terrible threats. What perils await and why the players are there now has not yet been revealed.

The restored version of the game features thoroughly revamped play, designed in-house by Rob Daviau, J.R. Honeycutt, and Justin D. Jacobson. The game will also feature all new art and a new model for Vul-Kar. Noah Adelman of Game Trayz, the man behind the lauded Mechs vs. Minions insert, is the architect of this new version of the island. Restoration Games indicated they would reveal additional information about the game in the following months, including at their “Blueprints” talk at PAX Unplugged, a tabletop game convention in Philadelphia on November 17-19.

The game is being manufactured under license from Lund and Company Invention, L.L.C. and Longshore, Ltd. Under the terms of the license, Restoration Games has complete control over the final design of the game and distribution rights in English for the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Australia. Longshore retains distribution rights for other languages and territories. Other terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Longshore, Ltd. is proving to be the perfect partner too. The project manager, Wai, had this to say, “I had a lot of fun and good memories with Fireball Island as a kid. This game has since become a classic and achieved a bit of “cult” status, and we are really excited to help bring this one back!  I look forward to playing the new version with my own son.”

“When we first reached out to Bruce Lund about acquiring the license, he said our timing was propitious,” said Justin D. Jacobson, president of Restoration Games. “But it took almost a full year to complete the deal. In the end, the hard work was worth it. We’re so thrilled to be able to bring this game back. It’s a cultural touchstone and a true icon of gaming. If ever a game deserved another turn, it’s this one.” 

Jacobson also revealed that Fireball Island was, by far, the most requested game for them to restore in surveys, website submissions, social media, and face-to-face interactions. Restoration plans to run a Kickstarter for the game. The date for the campaign has not yet been set.

About Restoration Games

Restoration Games is owned and operated by attorney Justin D. Jacobson. Design is overseen by their Chief Restoration Officer, the award-winning designer, Rob Daviau. Together, they find old games, modernize them, and bring them back for today’s gamers. Their first games, debuting at Gen Con this year, include Stop ThiefIndulgence, and Downforce.

Additional information can be found at www.restorationgames.com/fireball-island.

Restoration Games and the Restoration Games logo are trademarks of Restoration Games, LLC. Fireball Island is a trademark of Longshore Ltd., used under license.