KublaCon is touted as the largest multi-genre gaming convention west of the Mississippi. My 5 days in San Francisco showed that the power of this gathering lies in its people. Mike Eckert, executive producer of KublaCon, expected his staff of 67 to cater to over 4000 people in this 19th year of the convention. Kubla is spread over 3 hotels south of San Francisco and includes Tournaments, Miniatures Gaming, Role Playing, LARPing, Board Games, Collectible Card Games, Painting and nearly every aspect of our strange little world. Special guests abounded, with the program listing nearly 20 designers, authors (I saw Andy Weir watching a game of Terraforming Mars), YouTubers and industry insiders.
One of the most impressive features of KublaCon is the community. More than once
I saw people leave their prized games with complete strangers, or even in an
empty room, with no fear of anything being stolen. Communities banded together
in the long lines, feeding each other and reserving prized places waiting for
events. The feeling of community was best seen in a tradition of call and echo,
where one person will yell out “Kubla!” and the entire hotel will roar with an
echo of “CON!” It just makes one proud to hear a sole 8 year old scream out his
war cry and be answered by thousands of supportive gamers. For the very young,
KublaCon hosts kids’ gaming and crafting rooms, occasionally dressing them up
in armor and weapons and marching the army of gamers-in-training throughout the
convention halls, intimidating the masses.
I was able to play great games at KublaCon, both rare and relatively unknown
and popular (you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting Wingspan or Terraforming
Mars). Impressive giant scale versions of favorites King of Tokyo, Shadows over
Camelot, Azul, Tak, and Captain Sonar
adorned the front room. I found fantastic deals in the flea market and dealer
hall. But the thing I will remember the most from this convention is that every
person I spoke to had the most amazing experiences and stories – from Disney Imagineers to Google Executives
to Game Designers to Cancer Survivors to long distance friends rarely seen, Kubla
truly was a convention of the people, and I look forward to next year.
“Pandemic: Rapid Response is a race against time. Set in the
beloved Pandemic universe, this real-time board game challenges players to
create supplies and deliver aid to cities in need around the world.”
In Rapid Response, players work cooperatively to fly their rescue
plane to troubled cities, and drop the supplies they require. The board
represents rooms within the plane, each of which specializes in a task –
generating supplies, dealing with generated waste, or controlling the cargo bay
in order to make the drop. Around the outside of the board is a track of
cities, with a token marking the plane’s current location. City cards sit on
this track and show what cargo is needed where.
Everything takes place in real time, and players take turns rolling custom dice, Yahtzee-style, with 3 rerolls allowed. One die of any face can be discarded to move the player’s marker one room within the plane. Airplane symbols on dice can move the rescue plane itself one city in either direction around the board. The rest of the die faces can be placed on matching boxes in a player’s room to generate that type of supply – either vaccines, food, power, first aid, or water. Once a resource track is filled with enough dice, players need to activate that room to generate resource cubes into the cargo bay. But making cargo creates waste, and dice need to be placed in the recycling center to reduce the buildup. Finally, activating the cargo bay delivers cubes therein, and as long as the plane is in the right city and the correct cubes are in the cargo bay, that city card is cleared. Remember, all of these actions are done during a 2-minute sand timer: When the timer runs out, a new city card is placed on the route, one time token is discarded, then the timer is flipped and the insanity continues. Players all win if all the city cards are cleared using their required resources, but lose if time tokens run out, or the plane becomes overwhelmed with waste.
Z-Man Games has announced the 2019 season of Pandemic Survival. Survival takes the classic game, but standardizes the roles played, the initial infected cities, the player deck and the infections deck. This means that each and every game session of the 2019 season will start at the same place, allowing for fair tournament play. This is the 5th year Z-Man has organized Pandemic Survival, and once again players can compete for prizes and the elusive Pandemic Survival World Championship. The ultimate champion will win a trip to any city on the Pandemic board.
Pandemic (2008) by Matt Leacock is the poster child for all great cooperative games, dominating “best of” lists, sitting in BordGameGeek’s top 100, and collecting more awards than one can count. In this classic game, players act to stem the four diseases taking over cities all over the globe, as more and more infections relentlessly appear. Players take on specific roles, such as Medic, Scientist or Operations Expert, each with a special ability. The evil infections deck denotes which cities gain infection cubes each round, and cities with 4 or more cubes will “explode” into neighboring areas, quickly taking down the whole map. Players win or lose as a team by either allowing the world to succumb to infection, or curing all 4 diseases.
There are a few changes in this year’s competition – players must bring their own copy of the original base game, however the card decks will be pre-stacked and sorted, allowing for quicker setup, and “ease of assembly”. For more details, rules for this unique style of tournament play, and the schedule of games, check out Z-Man’s press release here.
Eggertspiele has announced Era: Medieval Age, a new game from designer Matt Leacock. Not only is Era being pitched as a spiritual successor to Roll Through the Ages, but also, the first roll-and-build game.
In Era, players will be using three-dimensional pieces (churches, farms, mills, castle walls, etc.) to build up medieval towns on their personal boards. The dice represent different classes of medieval society.
“Era: Medieval Age is made even more challenging as players interact with each other in ways such as extortion, scorched earth, and, of course, disease!”
The other piece of the announcement is that Era: Medieval Age marks the start of a series of roll-and-build games from Matt Leacock and Eggertspiele. No specifics were provided about other games, but Era is planned to debut at Gen Con later this year.
Era: Medieval Age is designed for 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up.
An invasion of barbarian tribes can certainly feel like pandemic to the Roman world. Matt Leacock and Paolo Mori have teamed up to bring the Pandemic gameplay to Ancient Rome. In Pandemic: Fall of Rome, players are members of Roman society employing Roman legions to defend against invading tribes. Plays may also convert members of a tribe into Roman soldiers. Rome survives to continue its long history is they can defeat all the barbarian tribes, whether by absorption or eradication. Rome has five barbarian tribes threatening its borders: Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, and Anglo-Saxons and Franks. Each invading tribe follows their migration pattern that eventual leads to Rome. Pandemic: Fall of Rome will also feature a Solo Play mode and a challenge mode for season Pandemic players. The tribes are represented by wooden cubes like all pandemic games, but the Roman legion tokens are legionnaire shaped meeples. The game will include custom dice for resolving battles with the invading hordes. Pandemic: Fall of Rome is available for pre-order now with a projected release in Q4. Go to Z-man Games to learn more about Pandemic: Fall of Rome.
The Spiel des Jahres nominees for 2018 have just recently been announced (see Dice Tower News article here), and for the first time since 2010 the judges have awarded the “Sonderpreis“, literally a special award. The recipient is the innovative Pandemic Legacy Season 2 by Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau, published by Z-Man Games. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 uses amazing new mechanics and devices, and blends them with an engrossing story taking place 71 years after the original Season 1, creating a game “all future legacy games will have to be measured” against. Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy Season 1 were both nominated for Spiel des Jahres awards in 2009 and 2016 respectively.
Steve Jackson Games have taken mosquito DNA from amber and fused it with Munchkin to create their next expansion. Munchkin 9: Jurassic Snark will include dinosaur steeds, carnivorous baddies behind those doors, and some primevil loot to get you to level 10 for the win. You can mix this set with any base version of Munchkin. The new expansion features 112 cards drawn by John Kovalic and will be released in October 2018. More information can be found on the Steve Jackson Games website.
Ascension: Delirium will be the latest expansion for Stone Blade Entertainment‘s popular deck-building game, Ascension. Ascension is a fast-paced game designed by Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour champions with artwork by Eric Sabee.
“A new portal into the Dreamscape has been opened! The world of Vigil is warped by dreams and nightmares come to life. You must wield the power of the Dreamborn to battle the forces of Delirium to save the realm.”[source]
A Delirium die has been added which appears to affect the heroes’ sanity as they’re warped by it into new forms. Players can also use Insight to access powerful new hero abilities. This expansion is playable as a stand-alone game for 1-4 players, or can be combined with other Ascension games to play with up to 6 players.
When you talk about easy to learn and play cooperative games, you will often to hear Forbidden Desert or even Forbidden Island mentioned. Both of these games are Matt Leacock designs in conjunction with Gamewright, and both have the reputation of being well regarded cooperative games for families. However, since the release of Forbidden Desert was back in 2013, we thought that was going to be it for the Forbidden line, but thankfully Gamewright has proved us wrong. In no less than a movie trailer like fashion, Gamewright has announced a new game in the Forbidden line, Forbidden Sky, that will be released this summer. I for one am excited for this as I have loved both the previous games, you can check out the video on Gamewright’s Facebook, and start wondering just what this new game has in store for us.
Z-Man Games has announced details about the latest iteration of the award-winning Pandemic series of games, Pandemic: Rising Tide. In this new cooperative game by pan-legend Matt Leacock and Splotter Spellen great Jeroen Doumen (Food Chain Magnate, Roads and Boats), players must battle the incoming seas instead of disease, to prevent flooding in the Netherlands. Blue cubes represent water coming inland, and players construct hydraulic engines in connected regions of water to pump the cubes out to sea. Take control of hydraulic engineers, sanitation workers or builders, building and repairing dikes to control the movement of water. Construction of massive hydraulic structures can earn great reward, as you make one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
Read more about Pandemic: Rising Tide on Z-Man’s press release here. The game is due to hit game stores in late 2017. It should be noted that for each pre-order of Pandemic: Rising Tide, Z-Man will be donating to hurricane relief efforts.