GenCon 2019 was immense and amazing, but has now wrapped up, closed her doors and bid us “adieu”. I was inspired to chime in with a couple picks from the show that really stood out for me among the crowd.
One of the best euro games of 2016 was the exceptional Lorenzo il Magnifico from Cranio Creations and designers Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, and Simone Luciani. I was able to see a demo for the upcoming card game based on this gem, Masters of the Renaissance by Simone Luciani and Nestore Mangone. In Masters, players still collect resources to buy cards from different tower “levels”, like the original, but now all cards have production ability: in other words, when production is initiated, players collect resources from all of their cards. Additionally, a “market” comprised of a 3×4 grid of colored marbles gives another, easier, source of resources. Players choose any row or column of marbles, and every marble in that line generates its own resource based on its color. After players gain their loot, they push a new marble into the line, bumping al old one from the back. Two things make this market both clever and diabolical: First, clear marbles exist that give no resources at all, clogging up the rows. Second, the resources generated at the market go to a separate storage area, which is severely limited in capacity. This card game version of one of my favorite board games retained the look and feel of the original, added unique mechanisms, but still felt elegant and simplified. Masters of the Renaissance is due to be released at Essen Spiel 2019, this October.
I was particularly impressed by Time of Legends: Destinies by designers Michał Gołębiowski and Filip Miłuński, a joint effort between Lucky Duck Games (Chronicles of Crime) and Mythic Games (Joan of Arc). Destinies is an app-driven fantasy exploration game for 1-3 people which takes place in the same universe as Mythic’s magnum opus Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, and even uses many of the same small scale miniatures as its big sister. In Destinies, players take on the roles of villagers living around the epic stories and battles from Joan. Each player is trying to be the first to fulfill their character’s hidden destiny. The cards in the game, including the character cards, have QR codes in the corner (those black and white checkerboard scanner boxes we see all the time), and scanning a card into the game app leads to context sensitive progression in the game – scanning an item uses it, scanning a character interacts with it, and scanning a weapon fights with it. This system is what made Lucky Duck’s Chronicles of Crime such a fantastic and intuitive story telling game. The game app additionally controls the map, made up of a grid of square cards, in a way reminiscent of the recent blockbuster Journeys in Middle Earth. If that wasn’t enough to make this a magnificent game, Destinies uses an elegant dice system I haven’t seen before for challenges, wounds, and level progression. Three colored stat tracks are on the player board – Knowledge, Strength and Agility, and wooden disks are placed on values along these tracks. To run a test, fight a creature, or even interact with characters, players roll dice, and count how many of these disk values they pass with the roll – this is the number of successes the character achieves. Items can add disks to the tracks, wounds can move the disks to higher, more difficult positions, and experience allows player to buy more disks. Time of Legends: Destinies is scheduled to have a Kickstarter campaign in September 2019.
Unlike the core Chronicles of Crime game, this expansion is family friendly as there are no murders to investigate. There are only strange things happening in a small town in Maine, USA, in the 80’s. The players take on the role of the 6 kids who rely on strength, guile, agility, and wit, to meet their objectives.
The expansion includes 4 new scenarios, 10 location cards, 15 special item cards, 25 character cards, 6 player boards, a die, and a rule book. It also requires the base game of Chronicles of Crime, and a device to run the app on Android 4.4 or newer, or iOS 8.0 or newer. Once downloaded, the app no longer requires an internet connection. Purchase of the VR glasses is optional and separate.
Expect the expansion to release in March or April of 2019.
Lucky Duck Games has launched a real-time, competitive puzzle game called Jetpack Joyride. Adapted from the mobile game, players join a disgruntled gramophone salesman as he steals jetpack technology from the scientists who would use them for evil.
Players need to escape from the lab using a route that gives them the most points by accomplishing goals and building paths over coins. Players simultaneously grab path tiles and build their flight path through 4 lab tiles. The first person to fly from their lab first ends the round, but finishing first doesn’t mean winning. You have to add your points from your escape path and activate your gadgets to get the real score.
Jetpack Joyride is for 1-4 players ages 8 and up and will play quickly in about 20 minutes played over 3 rounds. Great for a fast paced party game as well as a fun time family game. Jetpack Joyride’sKickstarter campaign runs until July 31st.
Mixing board games with required apps is a very hot topic in board gaming right now, some say it’s great, some march to the chorus of get your digital out of my analog. Either way you look at it, games are still going to come along that try to use app integration to make it better, and Chronicles of Crime aims to do that is a very unique way. In this game you are detectives trying to solve a case, but you aren’t some famous or classic detective, you are modern day detectives utilizing modern day methods and resources. Once you have selected a case you will start going from location to location, questioning suspects and looking for clues. You will also have the chance to talk to your experts to get their analysis of evidence, all while discussing the case and clues with your fellow players to determine the culprit.
Now if you are wondering where the app comes in, well it is used in every aspect that I just described above. You will select your case in the app so it knows what clues to give you, when you go to a location you will scan the code on the board in order to go there. Once there you will clip on a pair of VR glasses to your phone and then start looking around the crime scene, describing it to the other players and looking for key clues in the 3D rendered environment. Don’t have have the glasses or don’t want to use the VR function? That’s fine, the app supports also just displaying the environment on your phone and you can just tap and swipe to explore the area. So grab your friends, put on your thinking caps and get out there and catch that criminal!
If this game has piqued your interest like it has mine, check out the Kickstarter page for more information and to pledge for a copy. A base pledge with just the game and companion app runs $39 plus shipping, and the VR glasses add-on is additional $10, which also comes with an additional case. Or you can go full deluxe for $89 which include the base game, VR glasses, and two additional expansions putting you in a film noir type setting as well as a kid detective type setting. And one final thing, since the cases are app driven, you can play the same scenario over and over since the app randomizes the result for each game, making sure each case is unique.
Fruit Ninja, the extremely popular dexterity-testing app from Halfbrick Studios is coming to the board gaming scene with a bang. The Fruit Ninja Tabletop Game Series by Lucky Duck Games is now on Kickstarter and as it’s name suggests, there’s not just one game based on the mobile phenomenon, but three! A deck building game, a dice game, and a party game, which emphasize the prominent features of Fruit Ninja – speed, skill, and strawberries. As described on the campaign page:
“In order to build our dream game set, we contacted over 50 game designers from all over the world and opened our door to prototype submissions. We reviewed over 20 different prototypes and picked the 3 best games that were: Unique. Fast to Play. Fun and accessible.”
I do have to commend Halfbrick for coming into the board gaming scene as strong as they are, with a level of seriousness and sincerity apparent in a formidable set of games that together appeal to broad audiences. Their design philosophy behind Fruit Ninja is clearly represented in the games they chose, which have incredibly easy rules, a sense of speed and tension, and a distillation of fun. What’s even better is that these games can be backed individually or as a set, and impressively it appears that each one will still give you that authentic Fruit Ninja experience that fans enjoy while still being distinguishable from the other two. So whether you’re interested in any or all of them be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign page to learn more about The Fruit Ninja Tabletop Game Series.
Lucky Duck Games is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for a new large expansion for deckbuilding/resource managing game Vikings Gone Wild. Besides new Divine Favor, End Game Bonus, Mission, Odin’s Path, and Unit cards, Masters of Elements introduces various new additional card types to the base game, including:
The Masters of Elements (Nature, Water, or Fire) that give elemental resources to buildings;
Artefacts that grant asymmetric abilities to the players;
New Units with abilities that utilize the elemental resources; and
Gods with activated abilities upon reaching a certain level.
The Kickstarter is set to conclude on September 11, 2017, and is already fully funded. Deliver is set for April 2018. Visit the Kickstarter page here to see samples of the new cards.