Top 10 Anticipated Campaign/Narrative Board Games of Q4 2018

We saw a ton of amazing campaign, narrative, and legacy games released at GenCon 2018 this year, but even more are going to get release over the next 90 days.  So many, in fact, that I was able to populate a Top 10 of my most anticipated, and even had a couple more that didn’t make the list!


 

#10 – ADVENTURE ISLAND
Designed by Michael Palm and Lucas Zach
Published by Pegasus Spiele
Release Date: October 2018

This one could have potentially been higher on my list if we knew anything about it.  Based on the BGG entry and back of the box, Adventure Island is a co-operative narrative campaign game where players take on the roles of shipwrecked survivors on a mysterious island that must explore the island and make their way home.  It appears to primarily be a card-based game.  LudoCreatix has been teasing card art on their Facebook page, but no details about actual gameplay have been given (sounds like they will give more details this week).  I’m a big fan of games like Robinson Crusoe and The 7th Continent, so I’m hoping this scratches a similar itch.  The game is expected to release at Essen SPIEL at the end of October.

 

#9 – HOLDING ON: THE TROUBLED LIFE OF BILLY KERR
Designed by Michael Fox and Rory O’Connor
Published by Hub Games
Release Date: October 2018

Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr is a fully cooperative narrative game about an dying man in a hospital with a mysterious and troubled past.  Players take on the role of the nursing staff for Billy Kerr, a man who suffered a heart attack on a flight from Sydney to London, and has been diagnosed with only days to live.  Players must balance keeping Billy comfortable (and alive) while also trying to figure out more about him and his past over the course of a 10-scenario campaign.

It’s always interesting to see games try to tackle more “serious” subject matters, I’m hoping that Holding On is able to pull it off.  I have some major concerns going into this game regarding the treatment of the subject matter, the premise is a bit shaky (has anybody ever been diagnosed to only have days to live after surviving a heart attack?), and the whole mechanic of having to choose whether to keep a patient alive or pry into their past doesn’t sit right with me.  We’ll see.  The game is going to release at Essen SPIEL at the end of October.

 

#8 – GLOOMHAVEN: FORGOTTEN CIRCLES
Designed by Marcel Cwertetschka Isaac Childres
Published by Cephalofair Games
Release Date: December 2018 (hopefully)

Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles is a “small” expansion for Gloomhaven that introduces 20+ new quests, 1 new character class, new monsters/bosses, and more.  Scenarios will contain branching paths, “choose your own adventure” moments, puzzles, and alternate endings.  I love Gloomhaven, but I still have like 60-70 unplayed scenarios between the base game and solo scenarios, so it’s not like I really need more Gloomhaven… but I’ll take it!

Originally planned for a retail release at Essen, the game is now expected to come in December, possibly January.

 

#7 – COMANAUTS
Designed by Jerry Hawthorne
Published by Plaid Hat Games
Release Date: December 2018

Comanauts is a fully cooperative narrative campaign game about an old man in a hospital with a troubled past… wait, is that you Billy Kerr?

Dr. Martin Strobal, one of the greatest scientists to ever live, has fallen into a coma.  One of his inventions has malfunctioned and threatens to destroy the world, and only Dr. Strobal can stop it.  The only way to revive him is to enter his subconscious and help him defeat his inner demons.  Over the course of a campaign, players will travel through various comazones based on Dr. Strobal’s memories and imagination.  The game is an adventure book game similar to last year’s Stuffed Fables, but aimed at a more grown-up audience.

Plaid Hat’s website switched its status to “On the Boat” last week, so it should be available sometime in December by my estimates.

 

#6 – DAWN OF PEACEMAKERS
Designed by Sami Laakso
Published by Snowdale Design
Release Date: October 2018

I know cute cuddly creatures fighting each other is all the rage in boardgaming in 2018, but what if instead they made peace?  Dawn of Peacemakers is a cooperative narrative campaign game set in the same world of Dale of Merchants (although about a thousand years in the past), where the armies of the scarlet macaws and ocelots are at war with one another.  Players take on the roles of adventurers attempting the quell the hostilities between the two factions by effectively weakening both sides’ morale so that they don’t want to fight anymore.  The game is played across a 12-chapter evolving campaign with unlockable content (not a legacy game, it can all be reset) that will introduce new rules, components, and other surprises.

Warehouses in various countries should be receiving their copies and shipping out to backers this month, so hopefully backers will be getting their copies by late October.  Not sure what the plan is for retail release.

 

#5 – AEON’S END: LEGACY
Designed by Kevin Riley and Nick Little
Published by Indie Board & Cards
Release Date: December 2018

Aeon’s End is a cooperative dark fantasy deck builder where players take on the role of “breach mages” trying to defend their home Gravehold from The Nameless.  The game and countless expansions feature various bosses each with their own unique rules and mechanics to them, something I always love in games like Kingdom Death: Monster and Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Aeon’s End: Legacy is, as the name would suggest, a campaign/legacy adaptation of Aeon’s End.  In the legacy version, players take on the roles of students in training to become breach mages.   Over the course of the 7-chapter evolving campaign, new rules and components will be introduced, and other aspects of the game will be permanently modified.  At the end of the campaign, you will have developed your own custom breach mage that can be played in normal games of Aeon’s End.  A number of other aspects of the legacy game can be integrated into the base game as well as expansion content.

The latest update is that the game will release in December 2018.

 

#4 – DISCOVER: LANDS UNKNOWN
Designed by Corey Konieczka
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Release Date: November 2018

Discover: Lands Unknown was teased by Fantasy Flight Games leading up to Gen Con, but strangely wasn’t revealed until a week after Gen Con wrapped.  The premise of Discover is similar to other cooperative/solo survival games such as The 7th Continent, where you must explore and scavenge the wilderness to survive, eventually finding a way to escape.  The game is a campaign played across a 4-chapter story, but also comes with a competitive scenario.

This is also the second title in FFG’s new line of Unique games, meaning that each individual copy of Discover has a unique combination of characters, enemies, environments, items, and even the story chapters themselves, making no two copies of the game the same.  Some people cracking open their copy may find themselves trapped on a deserted island, while others may find themselves stranded on a mountaintop.  I have been trying to keep most of the details of this game a surprise to me, so the thing I’m most excited about is cracking my copy open and seeing what I get!

FFG set the status for Discover to “On the Boat” in early September, so we should expect to see this game hit retail in November by my estimates.

 

#3 – THE WILSON WOLFE AFFAIR
Designed by George Fox
Published by Simulacra Games
Release Date: October 2018

I don’t know if I would define The Wilson Wolfe Affair as a “boardgame” in the traditional sense, but it is a tabletop experience that I’m super excited about.  Part puzzle hunt, part “escape room in a box”, part mystery, The Wilson Wolfe Affair is a giant box of memorabilia from a fictional 1920’s cartoon series that you must search through to solve an underlying mystery about messages hidden in the cartoons.  I love escape room games like Exit and Unlock!, but a lot of them lack the physicality you would get in a real escape room experience.  Wilson Wolfe has you digging through articles, books, photos, toys, and other memorabilia looking for clues and solving puzzles.  Everything looks gorgeous.  Promising 50-75 hours of gameplay at the full platinum level, this game is going to keep me busy through 2019 most likely!

The designer/publisher has finally gotten all components for the games, and is preparing to package all the copies of the game up and ship them out to backers.  It’s a lengthy process, but he hopes to have them shipped out in October.

 

#2 – GEN7: A CROSSROADS GAME
Designed by Steve Nix
Published by Plaid Hat Games
Release Date: December 2018

Gen7 is the long-awaited followup to Dead of Winter in Plaid Hat’s series of Crossroad games.  Rather than fighting off the zombie apocalypse and potential traitors in the frozen north, Gen7 is set on a interstellar colony ship in the far distant future.  Players take on the roles of officers in the seventh generation of a 13-generation journey to a new star system.  A mystery has emerged that threatens the entire mission, and the fate of humanity rests on the choices you make.  The game is played across a 7-episode campaign with a wildly branching narrative.  New elements will be unlocked as the game progresses, but can be entirely reset and played again.  The game uses the Crossroad card system where certain actions taken by players in the game will trigger story events that will require the player or group to make difficult choices.  Unlike Dead of Winter, the game is fully cooperative and has no hidden traitors, but players are given incentives to be greedy by completing personal objectives to gain merit points.

Plaid Hat’s website switched its status to “On the Boat” last week, so it should be available sometime in December by my estimates.

 

# 1 – BETRAYAL LEGACY
Designed by Rob Daviau
Published by Avalon Hill
Release Date: November 9, 2018

Betrayal Legacy is the much-anticipated legacy adaptation of Betrayal at House on the Hill, designed by Rob Daviau.  Betrayal Legacy plays across a 14-chapter campaign starting in 1666 and ending in 2004 (when Betrayal at House on the Hill was released).  The game comes with 50+ haunts, but in a particular chapter you will only encounter one from a subset of haunts specific to the time period of that chapter (ie, you might see a Frankenstein-inspired haunt in the time period when Mary Shelley was alive).  At the end of your campaign you will have a customized and fully-replayable copy of Betrayal, with a number of scenarios that can only be played post-campaign.

Besides being a legacy version of the game, it feels like Rob and JR took this as an opportunity to also improve some user experience elements of the game.  Clearer and better laid out rules and scenario descriptions, common terminology between scenarios, etc.

I have a group of co-workers ready to play through this campaign with me, and I am super-excited to get started on it.  The game hits retail on November 9th, so not that much longer of a wait!

News: August 2018 Edition

Gen Con feels so long ago, but it was actually less than a month ago.  Sad, I know, but that means we have a lot of great games to play, and even more to get excited for in the future!


REVIEWS

This was the first month I started putting out reviews, be sure to check them out if you haven’t already!

Stacey and the Mystery at the Spooky Cabin – A Spy Club Review (8 out of 10)

A Demonic Magical Cat and His BFF Fight a Dinosaur Witch God –  A Grimslingers Review (8 out of 10)


NEW GAME RELEASES

Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame
Designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek, Przemysław Rymer, and Jakub Łapot
Published by Portal Games
Players: 1-5
MSRP: $50.00

Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame was the big Gen Con 2018 release from Portal Games, and hit retail shortly after.  Detective is a cooperative mystery-solving game that requires players using the internet to research and solve aspects of the crimes.  The game comes with five cases that are played in order to form a larger story.  Initial buzz has been really positive, and I’m looking forward to trying this out myself.

The Rise of Queensdale
Designed by Inka Brand and Markus Brand
Published by Ravensburger and alea
Players: 2-4
MSRP: $80.00

The Rise of Queensdale is a Euro-style dice placement legacy game from Inka and Markus Brand.  The game has been out in Germany since March, the English edition came out at Gen Con and is available in retail now.  The legacy game is played across nine epochs, with each next epoch unlocking the first time a player has won 1, 2, 3, etc games.  The campaign ends when a player has won 9 games, so a 4-player campaign could last as many as 33 games!  Initial reviews have said games last about an hour and that the core gameplay is solid.  It also comes with a tiny plunger!

Scythe: The Rise of Fenris
Designed by Ryan Lopez Vinaspre and Jamey Stegmaier
Published by Stonemaier Games
Players: 1-7
MSRP: $55.00

The final and largest expansion to Scythe, The Rise of Fenris, features 11 modules that can be added to Scythe, similar to what Tuscany did for Viticulture.  Most importantly, the expansion also comes with an 8-episode narrative campaign that lets players unlock most of the modules over the course of the story and campaign.  Some of the content comes in sealed boxes, but there is no permanent changes to components and the entire campaign can be replayed infinitely.   The campaign includes an automa variant to support solo play.  One of the modules not used in the campaign is a fully cooperative variant of Scythe.

Too Many Bones: Undertow
Designed by Adam Carlson and Josh J. Carlson
Published by Chip Theory Games
Players: 1-2
MSRP: $84.95

Too Many Bones: Undertow is a standalone expansion for Too Many Bones, the “dice-builder RPG” from Chip Theory Games.  Undertow comes with a 3-game campaign mode that lets you build up your characters from game to game with campaign-specific rewards.  The game comes with 2 new gearlocs, which you can use in the base game or bring in gearlocs from the base game or expansions to play with up to 4 players.  Kickstarter backers are getting their copies now, and limited quantities are available for sale on Chip Theory Games’ webstore.

Too Many Bones: Age of Tyranny
Designed by Adam Carlson and Josh J. Carlson
Published by Chip Theory Games
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $24.95

Age of Tyranny is an expansion for the original Too Many Bones that links the 7 tyrants together into a campaign.  The campaign plays different from Undertow’s, you can fight the tyrants in any order you want, and characters can gain scars that carry over from game to game.  Kickstarter backers are getting their copies now, and limited quanities are available for sale on Chip Theory Games’ webstore.

Street Masters Kickstarter Bundle
Designed by Adam Sadler and Brady Sadler
Published by Blacklist Games
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $109.00

Blacklist Games has opened up their webstore with a limited quantity of Street Masters Kickstarter bundles from their 2017 Kickstarter campaign, and are selling them at the same price as the original Kickstarter pledge level.  The bundle comes with the core game, Legend of Oni Kickstarter-exclusive expansion, and all Kickstarter-exclusive stretch goals.  It’s unknown if the upcoming October 2018 Kickstarter for the Street Masters: Aftershock expansion will have these available or not.  Their online store has other expansion content available for sale as well.

MacGyver: The Escape Room Game
Designed by Nicholas Cravotta and Rebecca Blaeu
Published by Pressman Toy Corp
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $29.99

MacGyver: The Escape Room Game is part of Target’s exclusive line of board games, and came out around Gen Con.  It’s a series of five “escape room in a box” scenarios inspired by 1980’s MacGyver episodes.  Scenarios are played in a specific order, as some tools unlocked in earlier scenarios are saved and reused in future scenarios.

Kingdom Death: Monster – Echoes of Death
Designed by Adam Poots
Published by Kingdom Death
Players: 1-6
MSRP: $60.00

Kingdom Death had a surprise mini-expansion release at Gen Con, Echoes of Death, which introduced four new challenge milestones that players can attempt to achieve in their campaigns.  Achieving each of these milestones permanently adds a new fighting art to your game’s fighting arts deck for that campaign and all future campaigns.  Poots is calling this new system the “strain system”, and hinted we may see more of this in future expansions.  2400 additional copies of Echoes of Death went on sale on Kingdom Death’s webstore later in August and sold out within an hour and a half.


Root: Riverfolk Expansion
Designed by Cole Wehrle
Published by Leder Games
Players: 1-6
MSRP: $40.00

I would be remiss not to mention the hotness of Gen Con 2018, Root by Cole Wehrle and Leder Games.  The Riverfolk Expansion adds an AI opponent that players can play against in a solo, cooperative, and competitive mode.  In solo/coop mode, there is also a campaign mode where the AI opponent gets gradually more difficult every time you win.  It’s admittedly about as lazy of a campaign mode that you can tack onto a game, but Root is an amazing game, and this might just be a reason to get you to revisit this game multiple times.  Kickstarter backers have received their copies of Root and The Riverfolk Expansion, the base game of Root is currently for sale on Leder Games’ webstore, but The Riverfolk Expansion is sold out.


 

NEW GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Machi Koro Legacy
Designed by Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, and Masao Suganuma
Published by Pandasaurus Games and IDW

Remember last month how I mentioned that Rob and JR were working on another legacy game?  They announced at the Dice Tower Live event at Gen Con that it is Machi Koro Legacy, being published by Pandasaurus with a Spring 2019 release.  The game is a 10-game legacy campaign that at the end of you will have a unique copy of Machi Koro that you can keep playing after the campaign is over.  People were a little cynical online about its announcement, but Rob said that he only took this project up because he had a good idea for it.   Rob mentions in an interview with Jason Levine that the storyline to Machi Koro Legacy is inspired by Japanese fairy tales and folklore, and is going to be cute, whimsical, and approachable for families to play.

Bloodborne: The Board Game
Designed by Michael Shinall and Eric Lang
Published by CMON Limited

Also announced at the Dice Tower Live was Bloodborne: The Board Game by Michael Sninall and Eric Lang.  This is a separate game from the card game also published at CMON, and aimed towards a more “hardcore” audience.  The game is a “really really hard” cooperative campaign game.  Players are trying to hunt down the final boss, and must defeat other boss monsters along the way to gain insight of who/what the final boss is.  Players will get to join one of the 6 covenants that will each have their own storylines, so the campaign can be replayed multiple times without getting stale.  A campaign consists of up to 5 games (4 “dungeons” and the final boss fight), with each game lasting around 60-90 minutes.  Bloodborne: The Board Game will go on Kickstarter in Q2/Q3 2019.

Discover: Lands Unknown
Designed by Corey Konieczka
Published by Fantasy Flight Games

Fantasy Flight was teasing Discover: Lands Unknown previous to Gen Con, but it wasn’t until over a week after Gen Con that they officially announced it.  Discover is a solo/cooperative survival and exploration game in which over the course of several scenarios are trying to survive and eventually be rescued.  Discover: Lands Unknown is the second in their line of Unique games (Keyforge, announced at Gen Con, being the first).  Each copy of Discover is unique from every other copy, your copy will have a unique combination of environments, characters, storylines, items, and enemies, making ever group’s experience unique.  I’m always a sucker for procedurally-generated stuff, so this is on my wishlist for sure. Discover: Lands Unknown will release in Q4 2018 witCheck out the announcement trailer here.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage
Designed by Babis Giannios
Published by Nice Game Publishing and White Wolf Games

Another legacy announced this month was Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage, a light card game based in the RPG of the same name.  The campaign starts in the 1300’s and ends in the 1990’s, with players taking on the role of ancient vampires trying to shape and influence historic events.  Players will be able to recruit vampires into their clan, and turn mortals to vampires.  All cards in the game come pre-sleeved (presumably with opaque backs), and you won’t know how a mortal will turn until you take the card out of the sleeve and flip it over to its vampire side. The game touts that it is quick-playing, 20-40 minutes, and supports 2-4 playes.  Heritage will be demoed at Essen 2018, crowdfunded in early 2019, and released at Essen 2019.

Outlaws in a Strange Land
Designed by Stephen Gibson

Stephen is going to be publishing a new game in the Grimslingers universe called Outlaws in a Strange Land.  Stephen has said this is a prequel of sorts to Grimslingers, and is a narrative-driven solo/cooperative adventure card game with deep character progression for 1-4 players.  The game uses a companion app.  At the moment the game will be independently published by Stephen, not Greenbrier Games.  Look at that art!

Defenders of the Realm 2nd Edition
Designed by Richard Launius
Published by Eagle Gryphon Games

Eagle Gryphon Games are creating a second edition of Defenders of the Realm.  Richard Launius is adding a number of new elements to the 2010 game, including a campaign/story mode.  EGG has slyly hinted there may be a legacy expansion as well.  Defenders of the Realm 2nd Edition will launch on Kickstarter in early 2019, no release date estimate given yet.


 

BURGLE BROS LEGACY?

In an AMA thread on /r/boardgames, designer Tim Fowers confirmed that Burgle Bros Legacy is still something he is exploring: “We have put a lot of work into it, but no official announcement yet. I want to make it something special, so I’ve been workshopping a lot of ideas and trying to pare it down.”


FEEDBACK NEEDED FOR SEAL TEAM FLIX EXPANSION

SEAL Team Flix designers Mark Thomas and Pete Ruth are already starting to work on a sequel expansion, and are looking for feedback from players that have played the base game at least three times.  Be sure to let them know what you think if you’ve played it!