Matt Leacock

One of the big hits from GenCon 2019 was Matt Leacock’s spiritual successor to Roll Through the Ages, the roll-and-build game Era: Medieval Age. People loved the tactile nature of gathering buildings and walls, and creating a city to score on their peg board. The one criticism people had about the game was that the yellow player boards were difficult to read.

Eggertspiel has heard the mandate of the people, and is now offering sticker sheets for the game to make the labeling more clear. By visiting the Eggertspiel webpage here, players can have these sticker sheets mailed to them for the cost of postage. The company wants to make it clear that retail versions of the game will be coming with sticker sheets attached, so please only request a sheet if your copy did not come with one supplied. Additionally, when Era was displayed at GenCon, the buildings and pieces were neatly organized on a custom mat. People were so enamored with this mat, that Eggertspiel has now made it available in neoprene through their web store. For more details on the mat, please visit Eggertspiel here

Courtesy KublaCon

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.

The game development and design scene is very strong at Kubla, prompting Scott Rogers (Pantone, Rayguns and Rocketships), game designer and co-host of Ludology Podcast, to call it “one event in the industry I will never miss.” The Protospiel room, spearheaded by Jeremy Commandeur, housed true greats of the industry, who showed each other extremely early designs in a safe, open environment. I was lucky enough to see Matt Leacock (Pandemic, Forbidden Desert) demonstrating a new dexterity game, as well as Scott Rogers showing off Rayguns and Rocketships the Card Game and Castle Climbers. Early designs available for the public to play also included Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky and Wizardz Bluff, as well as Kickstarter projects Papillon, and Fickle. Open the the public, the KublaCon Game Design Contest has 30-40 entries judged by greats in the industry, with the top 4 games open to play throughout the convention. Past years have all created published games, including critical success March of the Ants in 2014.

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 (Smartphone Inc) 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.

Z-Man Games has announced a new game in the Pandemic Universe, Pandemic: Rapid Response. Pandemic (2008), by designer Matt Leacock is the absolute gold standard among cooperative games, winning numerous awards over the years. However, this time around the game is a real-time dice chucker, and the designer is none other than the grand poobah of real time, Kane Klenko. Klenko designed the popular co-op games FUSE and Flatline, and is known for creating tension-filled, unique dice mechanisms.

“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.

Pandemic: Rapid Response will be exclusive to Target stores in the U.S., but will hit your FLGS in the rest of the world. Look for Rapid Response in stores on June 23, 2019, and for more details, check out Z-Man Games’ website here.

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.

Eagle-Gryphon Games has started a new Kickstarter Campaign for the reprint of Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age (2014), the followup to Matt Leacock‘s Spiel nominated Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (2008). The Bronze Age had some pretty big shoes to fill for a followup, and The Iron Age did not disappoint, being designed by heavyweight Tom Lehmann (Race for the Galaxy). Roll Through the Ages is a roll and write game, where 1-4 players roll custom dice, yahtzee style, and fill in spaces on their score pad for points. This new edition of the game comes in a more compact box, with wooden peg boards with pegs, 6 custom Empire dice, 1 Fate Die, and the previous Mediterranean expansion has been fully integrated into the score sheet. The Kickstarter Campaign also includes “personal stretch goals” – backers can receive free games, such as Dead Man’s Chest or SIXeS, depending upon how much they end up pledging to the project.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age continues through January 2, and the game is expected to deliver in February 2019.

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.

For more information, check out Z-Man Games press release on their website here.

Gamewright are at the New York Toy Fair and have revealed Forbidden Sky: Height of Danger by Matt Leacock. The reveal was done on their Facebook and Instagram accounts as well. Unfortunately, the game’s box cover is all that’s been revealed but we do at least know the game will be for 2-5 players, aged 10+.

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.