War of the Ring

Osprey Games has announced Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Board Game of English Magick, based on the popular novel by Susanna Clarke and subsequent television series. The board game, designed by Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello (War of the Ring) with illustration by Ian O’Toole, pits 2-4 players in a battle to be the most celebrated magician of their age. Speaking about the project, Francesco said “working with Duncan Molloy and the team at Osprey has been a fantastic experience. In their hands, our design was not simply transformed from a rough prototype to a beautiful, polished product, but it has been tweaked and improved in so many subtle ways that we cannot wait to get our hands on it. Real magic!”

Not a lot of further details are out on this new game, but initial images look fantastic. Look for Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell in June of 2019.

                                                                             

Ares Games and Polish board game company Galakta have announced a partnership to begin distributing Galakta products globally outside of Europe.

Ares games will begin distributing Galakta games including This War of Mine The Board GameAge of Thieves, Ragers Champions of the Arena, Zombie Terror, Andromeda, and King & Assassins.

Director of R&D at Ares Games, Roberto Di Meglio, expressed that Ares Games found strong brand alignment between the two companies and the benefits of the Ares Games distribution network:

Ares started developing a strong US and worldwide distribution for our products six years ago, and we now feel we are able to provide a good service to our customers, and to our partner Galakta, by promoting their games together with ours. Games such as This War of Mine The Board Game and Age of Thieves and the rest of Galakta’s releases are very consistent with our product and design philosophy, and we are committed to make them a success in the North American market and around the world.

Galakta owner Dariusz Waszkiewicz is excited to get these games to new markets:

For the last 13 years, we have succeeded in building a very strong position on Polish board game market and a few years ago, we started developing our own titles. We have worked several times with the Ares Games team on some of their great titles, and at the same time, we could see how they were growing outside Europe. We are convinced that thanks to this extended relationship our games will become available to many board game fans all over the World.

The Ares and Galakta partnership first started 5 years ago with Galakta publishing Polish editions of War of the Ring, with additional Polish editions of The Battle of Five Armies and Jolly Roger.

 

 

war-of-the-ring-2nd-ed

War of the Ring 2nd Edition Anniversary Edition was the latest edition to be released of this highly rated game, and included no less than 205 fully painted miniatures.  Needless to say, a game this popular with a special edition like that sold out in no time, but now Ares Games is offering something for those that missed it.  The Anniversary Release Deluxe Set will include the anniversary edition rule book, over-sized game board, and companion guide.  Essentially you will be getting the upgraded components of the game minus the game box and all the painted minis.  This is great for two reasons, the first is that miniature painters that already painted their set no longer have to shell out for a boatload of pre-painted minis.  Second, those who missed the original release can now get all the upgraded rules and map to upgrade their existing copy.  Cost differs based on where it is being shipped but will run you around $70 plus shipping, so hurry to Ares Games’ website to order before the window closes on October 5th.

warriors of middle earth

Ares Games is going to be at Origins 2016 and they will be demoing four of the new titles coming out later this year.  First will be the second expansion to the War of the Ring game, Warriors of Middle-earth.  It will expand your armies bringing in the Ents, Dead Men of Dunharrow, Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Corsairs of Umbar, Wild Hilmen from Dunland, and Giant Spiders.  All of these were previously only featured on event cards but will now be available to include in your armies and open up new strategies to try come August 2016.

last friday

Next they will be demoing Last Friday, this is a one vs. many type game which plays out like the horror movie Friday the 13th with one person playing the Jason character, and everyone else playing campers.  This is a campaign style game with 4 different chapters to play where at one point the killer dies, but then comes back from the grave for revenge.  Will you be able to survive?

behind the throne

After that you could try Behind the Throne from I-Games, a 2 to 4 player game where you are trying to gain power by controlling servants, nobles, and dignitaries in the aristocracy.  Play is quick and simple using set collection which gets you both points and special powers.  Whoever ends the game with the most points is crowned the one with absolute power.

dungeon time

Last is the real time game Dungeon Time, a cooperative card game of dungeon adventures and catastrophic failure.  The Kickstarter for this game will launch soon after the end of Origins on June 29th, so if you are at Origins you get to try the game before you buy.  Play for the game is fast and furious as time ticks down you are drawing and playing as fast as you can to collect the equipment needed to complete your quest.  At the end you will do a slower resolution phase where you will go through the story deck and see if you managed to complete all the objectives to win.

Also of note is the new series of Wings of War planes will be available for purchase for the first time at the convention, but even if you can’t attend, the packs will be available through your local retailer on June 17th.  You can read more the press release below to see what other games they will be demoing and will have for sale at the convention.

 

Origins 2016: Ares Games to preview Warriors of Middle-earth, Last Friday, Behind the Throne and Dungeon Time

New releases as the new series of WW2 Wings of Glory Airplane Packs and the Age of Conan expansion, Adventures in Hyboria, will be available for sale at Ares’ booth

Ares Games will attend Origins Game Fair 2016 (Booth #333, June 15-19, Columbus, Ohio) with four upcoming games to be presented to the public for the first time at this show – Warriors of Middle-earth, Last Friday, Behind the Throne and Dungeon Time – along with new products for sale, including the series six of WW2 Wings of Glory Airplane Packs and Adventures in Hyboria, the expansion for Age of Conan Strategy Board Game.

At Ares Games’ booth, visitors will also have the chance to try many other games already available, such as Odyssey – Wrath of Poseidon, Jolly Roger, Age of Conan Strategy Boardgame, Wings of Glory, Sails of Glory, Galaxy Defenders, War of the Ring, Battle of Five Armies and other Euro and Family and Card games, including the storytelling game Co-Mix, nominated for the Origins Awards, in the Family Game category.

A prototype of Warriors of Middle-earth, the new expansion for War of the Ring Second Edition due to release in August, will be showcased, while the upcoming games Last Friday and Behind the Throne, coming in August, and Dungeon Time, to be launched on Kickstarter on June 29th, will have pre-production copies in demo at the show.

The new series of WW2 Wings of Glory Airplane Packs featuring the Messerschmitt Bf.109, Republic P-47, Yokosuka D4Y Suisei, and Douglas SBD Dauntless will be available for sale for the first time at the show – they will start to hit the stores on June, 17th; other new arrivals are the recently releasedAdventures in Hyboria and the Sails of Glory Cloth bags. Promotional items will be given with some purchases – the promotions will be announced at the show and on Ares Games Facebook page.

In addition to the activities at the Ares’ booth, several events dedicated to Wings of Glory and Sails of Glory will be hosted by Buckeye Gamers in Flight, Wings of Glory Aerodrome, and Sails of Glory Anchorage, with prize support by Ares.

Upcoming new games

  • Warriors of Middle-earth is the second expansion for War of the Ring Second Edition board game. It will bring Ents, Dead Men of Dunharrow, Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Corsairs of Umbar, Wild Hilmen from Dunland, and Giant Spiders, previously featured only as special Event Cards. They will become essential part of the game, with unique figures and specific abilities to be combined with new mechanics to open up new strategies when playing the War of the Ringboard game.Warriors of Middle-earth is fully illustrated by John Howe, one of the world’s foremost Tolkien illustrators, and the main artist of the War of the Ring line.
  • Last Friday is a scary board game set in a cursed summer camp on which hangs a curse. This is a story of a maniac who died and rose again. In the role of young campers, players are challenged to survive a long weekend of terror or take the role of the undying psychopath hiding in the shadows of the forest. The game is divided into 4 chapters full of horror and suspense (Arrival at the Camp, The Chase, The Massacre and The Final Chapter) – each chapter plays out very differently, as the hunter becomes the prey, then comes back from the dead looking for revenge. Designed by Antonio Ferrara and Sebastiano Fiorillo (authors of  the horror-themed card game“Stay Away!”)  Last Friday is a hidden movement, hunt and deduction horror game for 2 to 6 players.
  • Behind the Throne is a simple and fast card game designed by I-Games – the team behind the popular “Mysterium” board game. Secret organizations are fighting for the right to rule over the Old Kingdom. Those who are struggling for power in the shadow of the royal throne are used to intrigues, blackmails and threats. The more servants, nobles and dignitaries they control, the closer to the goal they are. Players collect sets of cards gaining special abilities and victory points. Various abilities make it easier to collect the cards, with victory points determining the winner. The game is suited for 2 to 4 players.
  • Dungeon Time is a real time, cooperative card game of exciting dungeon adventures and catastrophic failures for 1 to 5 players, designed by Carlo Rossi. Players will enter a fantasy realm with only 5 minutes to complete their missions. As the sand falls in the sand timer, players must race through the dungeon deck to complete as many missions as they can, before the last grain of sand falls. Simultaneously, they draw, play, draw, frantically looking for all the items needed to complete their missions. They must get the items in play as fast as they can, then complete a mission by playing it on the story deck at the right time, when they have the right equipment. When time runs out, players check the deck, to find out if they fail or if they win… and level up to higher challenges.

 

For more information about the games, visit Ares Games website – www.aresgames.eu. At Origins Game Fair, visit Ares Games at booth 333.

About Ares Games

Ares Games is an Italian board game publisher established in 2011 to create quality hobby products for the international audience. Ares Games is the publisher of the award-winning “War of the Ring” board game, of “Wings of Glory” range of airplane combat games and miniatures, recreating aerial warfare in WW1 and WW2, and more recently, of the award-winning tactical ship-to-ship miniature game “Sails of Glory,” and the cooperative tactical Sci-Fi miniatures game “Galaxy Defenders.” Ares Games’ catalog also includes Family Games and Euro Games. For further information, visit the website www.aresgames.eu and the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/AresGames.

Picture of Snakes & Lattes in Canada

Picture of Snakes & Lattes in Canada

There’s something about the board game hobby that solicits compulsive acquisition. Many of us are able to tame those impulses through sheer force of will or financial necessity, but for the rest, learning about, commenting on, obsessing over, and ultimately acquiring board games is more than just a hobby.

Small World caught my eye

Small World caught my eye

Falling Through the Ice

My introduction to board games happened only a few years ago. I was already interested in roleplaying and comic books, and was a regular at The Source Comics & Games in Roseville, MN (highly recommended if you find yourself in the Twin Cities). Despite the floor space that board games occupied in that amazing store, I hardly noticed as I perused comic book back issues and the latest Pathfinder sourcebooks. I remember at one point Small World caught my eye for its whimsical fantasy art, but one look at the price tag and I was right back to the comic book bargain bin. I was sure those big pricey boxes just weren’t for me.

Like so many before me, it took just one great board game experience to open the floodgates. One of my good friends, someone I met though comic books and roleplaying incidentally, invited me over for an evening of board games. We played Dominion and Tales of the Arabian Nights, and I was utterly mesmerized by the clever designs and interesting decisions. It’s funny that neither of these games are really my cup of tea today, but at the time, I was truly spellbound.

Shortly thereafter, I moved away from Minnesota and found myself in a new city: Portland, OR. For some strange, wonderful reason, that evening of deckbuilding and storytelling stayed with me. Wanting to meet fellow geeks like me, I signed up for a local board gaming meet-up group and quickly got deeper and deeper into the hobby. Hours perusing BoardGameGeek lead to me to discover The Dice Tower and it’s wonderful network. I watched countless reviews and top 10 lists, obsessively consumed podcasts and articles, and began filling online retailer shopping carts with a dazzling array of games (Dominion and Tales of the Arabian Nights among them).

Paralyzed by the Cold

I definitely overextended myself in those early days. My collection grew more quickly than my discipline to make informed decisions about what sorts of games I really liked. It was all about theme then, and plastic bits. Some of those early purchases are still in my collection today, but the vast majority never even got a chance at my gaming table.

On top of pining after new games, I had discovered a hard truth: there were some really good games that came out long before I had even a passing interest in the hobby, and that some of those games were *gasp* sold out! Never to be reprinted again. I was devastated; my compulsive need to acquire could not abide something so tempting being so desperately out of reach. Game like Merchant of Venus and Fury of Dracula were the sort of theme-rich experiences I craved, but even on the secondary market, they were just too difficult or costly to attain.

My list of grail games grew long and longer: Endeavor, Age of Discovery III, Fief, Starcraft, War of the Ring: The Collector’s Edition, Kremlin, Dune, Glory to Rome: Black Box edition, and so many others. Occasionally I would get lucky and find one of these enigmatic lost treasures through a geeklist auction or a local seller, but more often than not, I was left to dream and lament my limited funds.

Fury of Dracula is being reprinted by FFG

Fury of Dracula is being reprinted by FFG

Swimming for the Surface

At the height of my frustration, I remember an episode The Dice Tower podcast in which Tom Vasel emphatically encouraged the board game community to be patient when it comes to difficult-to-find games. Whether they were out-of-print, temporarily sold out, awaiting domestic distribution, or missed Kickstarters, there were mountains of other available board games that deserved our attention. He was completely right, of course, and the last several months have really proven him out. For example:

It’s incredible how much previous editions of some of these games commanded on the secondary market, only to be replaced with, in many cases, superior versions. As Tom implied in that wise podcast segment: patience is a virtue.

Breathing the Air

Patience is exactly what helped me overcome my compulsive acquisition. I began making more considerate decisions about the games I order, and awaiting sales so that I could pay less even if that meant trying out the new hotness a few months later. I parted with a lot of the games in my collection that just weren’t good fits for myself or my game group (again, Dominion and Tales of the Arabian Nights among them), and began removing games from the grail list knowing that the cream of that crop would see life again in one form or another.

It’s not that I did something other gamers didn’t. In fact the bell curve of my board gaming addiction is very reminiscent of the stories I hear from my fellow game group collectors. They ramped up quickly only to learn that quality meant more than quantity, and that being part of this hobby isn’t a competition. I still get excited and place the occasional preorder, but I’ve gotten much closer to finding a balance and if you think you compulsive acquisition is out of control, you can too.

war of ring anniv 2

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of the 2nd Ed. publication of War of the Ring and the 60th anniversary of J.R.R Tolkein’s Return of the King Ares Games has announced they will be publishing an Anniversary Release of War of the Ring 2nd ed. It will consist of 205 hand painted figures, a larger board that will be hot foil stamped, and a unique hard cover strategy guide this is sure to be a beautiful work of art. It is set to be released in the Spring of 2016 and will be pre-order only due to the limited print run of 2,000 copies. Pre-orders will open on July 20th on the Ares Games website and will be limited to one copy per address.

War of the Ring Second Edition – designed by Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello – is widely recognized as the best boardgame based upon the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. This new edition of the game will feature a set of 205 figures, hand painted in a high quality style; a hot-foil stamped game board, about 20% larger than the normal board included in Second Edition; a unique hardcover strategy guide, the “War of the Ring Companion”, written by Kristofer Bengttson and featuring beautiful artwork by John Howe. The game board, cards and rules will be updated to reflect all the changes introduced by the Second Edition and to incorporate the latest rulings and frequently asked questions.

How this release will compare to the Collectors Edition is a bit uncertain but it is sure to be very well made and a collectors item on it’s own. If you’d like to know more about this you can head over and read the release on Ares Games’ webiste.

warriors of middle earth

The classic fantasy epic Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien can be experienced in a very immersive way in Ares Games’ War of the Ring, an epic board game in which players can play through Tolkien’s grand saga as they take on the roles of either the Free People of Middle Earth or The Shadow (forces of Sauron).  To date, War of the Ring has had only one smaller expansion, Lords of Middle Earth, but now Ares Games has announced a second expansion for the game, Warriors of Middle Earth.

In the core game, many additional characters appear other than the Free Peoples and the armies of the Shadow, but have not been “playable.”  Now, this new expansion will include Ents, Dead Men of Dunharrow, Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Corsairs of Umbar, Wild Hilmen from Dunland, and Giant Spiders.  Each of these character and creature groups will feature miniatures and special abilities.

In Warriors of Middle Earth, new game mechanisms will be introduced to the game, including Faction Dice and Faction Events.  As in the core game and first expansion, Warriors of Middle Earth will be illustrated by John Howe.  This new expansion is set for release in the Q4 of 2015, in or around November.

For more information on this new expansion for War of the Ring, please visit Ares Games’ website here.

Image found at: http://mothersofbrothers.com/crossing-the-streams/

Image found at: http://mothersofbrothers.com/crossing-the-streams/

Crossing the Streams

As fellow renaissance geeks, I’m certain that there are many among you who dabble in all sorts of tangentially related gaming activities that don’t necessarily involve quad-fold boards, colorful chits, and endless decks of cards. Video games, sports, trivia nights…any excuse to get together and have a good time is completely valid and makes us well-rounded social creatures.

Many of you also roleplay, an activity that is as near and dear to board games as peanut butter is to jelly. There are many reasons that the Venn diagram between these two hobbies overlap to such an extent. Many board games and roleplaying games have similar thematic and media influences. There’s also a collectible aspect to each that extends the life and replayability indefinitely. Both hobbies are also by definition social, and rather than offering a freeform experience that might turn off extroverts like myself, board games and roleplaying games provide a structured platform for social engagement and helps ensure that all participants have related interests.

There’s more to the overlap than just people sitting at a table chucking dice. Board games and roleplaying games evolved from a common ancestor: war games. Much like modern board game mechanisms, roleplaying spun out of an attempt to simulate many aspects of warfare. Roleplaying’s forefathers simply zoomed in on the action, designing experiences that simulated the struggle between one combatant and another. From one-versus-one, few-versus-few was the natural next step and thus was born the adventuring party that we’ve come to know and love.

As board games and roleplaying games developed alongside each other, each influenced the other. Today we can see roleplaying games like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition that actually includes cards and chits like a traditional board games. In the other direction, we see the proliferation of so-called dungeon crawl board games like Imperial Assault and the Wrath of Ashardalon series replicating some very common roleplaying elements: advancement, persistence, cooperation, tactical gameplay, and even the acquisition of wealth. Incidentally the publishers for both of these games, Fantasy Flight Games and Wizards of the Coast produce roleplaying games as well. The connection between these gaming styles is undeniable

So why should board gamers take the next step and dive into the crunchy world of Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and other lesser-known roleplaying games? The best answer, the only answer that matters really, is that they’re fun. Really fun! Roleplaying games are a platform for creative storytellers to weave grand epics and see those story beats come to life. They allow individuals to imagine strange worlds, evoke unique characters with interesting personalities, and work cooperatively with others to solve problems and discover hidden bits of story. As evocative as a theme can be in a board game, roleplaying games bring us even closer to living out our imaginations.

Getting Past the Gate

From an outsider’s perspective, roleplaying can seem extremely intimidating. Likely your friendly local gaming store has at least a few shelves of thick tomes full of complex rulesets and impenetrably detailed lore. Alongside those expensive books are miniatures, paints, gridded mats, weird dice in crazy configurations, and all the other trappings of the roleplaying hobby. It’s intense and can be more demanding on your wallet than board games.
war of rings figures

That’s a completely reasonable perspective, but I say ignore all that. Like board games, your investment can be as little as a $15 deck of Fluxx (not recommended) to a $2000 near-mint copy of War of the Ring: Collector’s Edition on eBay (also not recommended) and everything in between. You don’t have to go all in; in fact you can spend zero dollars on roleplaying and still have an amazing experience that will leave you wanting more. I’ll go into how to get started in another Playing Roles article, but suffice to say, price should not be a barrier to this incredible hobby.

The other element of roleplaying that intimidates many of the uninitiated is the perceived requirement to really get into it. Pop culture tells us that real roleplayers adopt their character’s personas like method actors. Accents, costumes, make-up, foam weapons, mock combats in parks populated by normal people- that’s a lot of geek to take on for someone who just thinks it might be cool to play as a Jedi for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. Well forget about all of that affectation. The only thing you need to roleplay is yourself, an imagination, and some basic social skills.

Roleplaying is really just a game of improv with some additional rules bolted on. It’s no different than charades or even the act of storytelling. It’s not hard and it doesn’t require an appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio to do well. Chances are you’ve already done a little roleplaying and didn’t even know it. Have a favorite role in Pandemic that you’re drawn to? Have you acted like a pompous jerk while playing the sheriff in Sheriff of Nottingham? Have you felt a bit of a sting when one of your survivors dies in Dead of Winter? At some level, that’s roleplaying. Just like telling your significant other about the crazy day you had at work and getting an appalled reaction. You did it! Now how would you have told that story if you were a Cleric of Palor and facing down the zombie king was your day at work?

Entering the Arena

On more than one occasion, I’ve heard roleplaying referred to as “poker for nerds”. There’s even a Dungeons & Dragons podcast called Nerd Poker hosted by comedian Brian Posehn.

nerd poker
This comparison to poker is referring to the commonality of weekly poker nights that perfectly normal individuals have all the time. They’re playing cards, telling jokes, talking about the latest episode of The Walking Dead, complaining about work…everything you would expect from adults engaging in an organized social activity. Roleplaying is no different, just swap out “playing cards” with “fending off a goblin ambush”. Which one sounds more fun to you?

I encourage anyone with an interest in roleplaying to check it out. Look for meetup groups in your area, or pick up a rules-light game like Fiasco and try it out with your friends and family. Roleplaying is an extremely rewarding pastime with a ton of variety and a very welcoming community. They can played with kids and adults, geeks and civilians, and for as long or as short as you like. Just be friendly, be open, and don’t touch anyone else’s dice. That’s a crime punishable by death!

battle of the five armies boar

An upcoming release for Ares Games, The Battle of Five Armies, will be published in seven different languages…French, German, Italian, Polish, Portugese, Spanish, and English.  Sorry, no Elvish, Dwarvish, or Entish.

The Battle of Five Armies is a fantasy, miniature game based on the climactic battle in the novel, The Hobbit and is designed by Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello.  All three all designed 2004’s War of the Ring.

Ares has partnered with IELLO (France), Heidelberger (German), Raven Distribution (Italian), Galakta (Polish), Devir Livraria (Brasil) and Devir Iberia (Spain).

Expected release is this year, July for the English edition and September for elsewhere.

From Ares Games:

The Battle of Five Armies – based on the climax of JRR Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit – pits the hosts of the Elvenking, the Dwarves of Dain Ironfoot, and the Men of the Lake led by Bard the Bowman against a horde of Wolves, Goblins and Bats led by Bolg, son of Azog. Will Gandalf turn the tide for the Free Peoples? Will the Eagles arrive, or Beorn come to the rescue? Or will Bilbo the Hobbit perish in a last stand on Ravenhill?

The Battle of Five Armies features a game board representing the Eastern and Southern spurs of the Lonely Mountain and the valley they encircle, and a number of plastic figures representing troops, heroes and monsters.

The Battle of Five Armies is a standalone game based on the rules for War of the Ring, which is from the same designers, but with the rules modified to function on a tactical level as they describe a smaller battle rather than the entire war. Ares Games plans to expand the Battles game system in the future, releasing expansions depicting other battles from the Third Age of Middle-earth narrated in The Lord of the Rings, such as the Siege of Gondor and the assault of Saruman against Rohan.