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.
At the recent GAMA trade show, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with “Az” Drummond, the Communications and Community Manager for Mythic Games. Az is an incredibly charismatic sort, and the love of Mythic’s games just screams from his very pores, making conversation easy. The next time I am in Ireland, this is a man I need to visit.
The first game we discussed was Solomon Kane, by designer Jake Thornton, successfully Kickstarted in July 2018. Solomon Kane is a story driven game, starring the well known character from Robert E. Howard‘s short stories, a 16th century puritan looking to vanquish evil. Players each take control of one aspect of Kane, playing either his Courage, Temperance, Justice or Prudence, influencing Solomon as he makes choices in his adventures. Games are organized into scenario “Chapters”, 8-10 of which comprise a story arc, known as an Act. The game includes an immense 35 Acts in 14 Adventures. The word count alone on Solomon Kane exceeds 250,000, which comprises the original short stories and new material, including settings in the United States. The game will be a powerhouse of miniatures, with 107 unique sculpts in the 178 miniatures included in the game. The titular Kane alone will have multiple unique figures showing his various trials and tribulations as he progresses through the stories. Mythic Games holds regular “What’s Up Wednesdays” to publicly discuss their games in development, and Solomon Kane in particular has benefited from these. Az states that when Kane delivers it will be easily twice as deep and rich as it was in the Kickstarter, with more stories, more content and more options.
The next game we discussed was the Kickstarter powerhouseTime of Legends: Joan of Arc, which earned almost $2.2 million, and funded in 3 minutes. Kickstarter backers will be excited to hear that wave 1 is shipping this May, with wave 2 following later in the summer. Joan is a story intense game, with multiple scenarios that use strong narrative to emphasize the RPG elements of this miniatures heavy game. Mythic had samples of the miniatures available to see, and before people ask – the dragon was breathtaking. This particular sculpt went through 6 versions before the final was selected, a massively detailed beast with a 54mm wingspan. The scale is so impressive, one can place a standard human mini fully within the dragon’s mouth, and yes, I did just that. Joan is also playable in a skirmish mode, with 2 players selecting armies by point value in order to play a more traditional miniatures game.
Joan of Arc will be also be having a retail release in November. This core set is for 2 players, includes 5 scenarios newly made for retail, and a hand picked 73 miniatures. Az was sure to emphasize that Kickstarter exclusives will remain just that – exclusive, and that Kickstarter backers are guaranteed to receive their games before retail.
The newest game from Mythic shown at GAMA was Super Fantasy Brawl, by designer Jochen Eisenhuth. The rumor is that Jochen presented his game to Mythic in such a complete state that very little had to be refined, other than the final art, and Mythic signed him on the spot. Super Fantasy Brawl (SFB) is a card based miniatures arena combat game, with more than a dozen champions coming in the core game. Players pick 3 champions and shuffle their specific card decks together, creating a team to fight in the arena. Obstacles and arena elements can influence battle, such as pillars of magic which add abilities. SFB uses a beautiful cartoon fantasy style of art, made popular by games such as World of Warcraft. The included characters span all genres of fantasy, and include pirates, samurai, trolls, vampires, werewolves, and more. I even saw an early sketch of an Aztec warrior wielding a blow gun astride a raptor mount, and it looked fantastic. The plan is to bring Super Fantasy Brawl to Kickstarter this summer, followed by retail release, then monthly champion packs starting Q1 2020, each with one miniature and its own deck of 6 cards. For more details, check out Mythic Games’ website on Brawl here.