We did it, guys. We survived 8 months without a Kingdom Death update! There’s a lot to unpack from the big Gen Con update, comments he made on Kickstarter, and interviews he gave on the show floor. Initially I was going to write up a big mega-post myself, but as it got longer and longer I took a cue from Adam and will be breaking it down into smaller bite-sized chunks/posts. Over the next week or two, I plan (hope?) to write posts about:
Wave 3’s status, expected delivery timeline, and Poots’ communication going forward (that’s this post)
A mini-review on Vignettes of Death: White Gigalion
The Gambler’s Chest Expansion – People of the Dream Feeder, new monsters, Philosophies of Death theorycrafting
Campaigns of Death – Overview and speculation on the five campaigns announced, new monsters, and potential other surprises hidden in that expansion
Wave 4 and Beyond – Not a lot of news about Wave 4, but a lot of speculation on what’s next for KD:M after this Kickstarter is fulfilled
The post-Gen Con update – Depending if and when Poots posts a post-Gen Con update, I might have a followup post(s) just about that!
INTERVIEWS WITH QUACKALOPE AND TWIST
To date, Quackalope and Twist have posted full interviews with Adam Poots from Gen Con. There’s a lot of cool stuff discussed in both of them, so I suggest if you have two hours to spare, sit down and give these a watch/listen. If not, I’ll try to hit the key points in my posts:
WAVE 3 TIMELINE AND COMMUNICATION
Let’s start with the biggest question on everybody’s mind: When are we actually going to get Wave 3 in our hands? The short answer is, unfortunately, probably not until Q1 2021. Yes, Adam said the game was delayed a year in the update, and I also initially interpreted that to mean a Summer 2020-ish release, but Adam clarified in the Twist interview that a Gen Con 2020 release would only be a six month delay, meaning a twelve month delay would be a late January/early February 2021 release if you take that literally. What Adam is saying is that he’s going to continue development and design of Wave 3 for another year, so printing and assembly of the games probably won’t start until this time next year. Ideally it will take about 6 months total to do that like it did for his previous initial print runs of 1.0 and 1.5, which would have production wrapping before Chinese New Year 2021. Add another month or two for the slow boat, loading it into warehouses, and getting it shipped out to backers, and we are probably looking at copies arriving on backers’ doorsteps around March 2021. It could go even longer if they don’t wrap by Chinese New Year, issues with customs, or any other changes being brought about in the current or future political climate.
They await… well, really anything new at this point.
I suspect that the main reason Adam has been so silent for the past eight months was that he was hoping to have design wrapped on Gambler’s Chest now and announce at Gen Con that production had started, but Gambler’s Chest still isn’t at a place yet that he’s 100% happy with. Adam acknowledges that Wave 3 is long overdue, and while he isn’t going to sacrifice quality or his vision to get it out faster, he is making this his #1 priority for the next year and finding ways to free up more of his time to focus on Wave 3. He has hired somebody in the office to manage some of the more logistical aspects of running the company so he can focus more on the creative side of things. He is deprioritizing content not in Wave 3. New sculpts and minis for the online store will be less frequent over the next year. He’s moving into a new office space with a door that closes, which may allow him to focus more on his own design work and not get as distracted by what other designers are working on for Wave 4 expansions.
I think Adam’s office is the room with the toilet…
Adam’s not delegating communication/PR to the new hire, but by freeing up some of his own time, he theoretically will also have more time to post updates and communicate with the backers and community. An example he gave Quackalope during the interview was that by delegating an issue with broken booth displays during transit to Gen Con, he was able to sit down and answer backer questions for a couple hours. He’s going to try a new strategy of focusing an update around a specific topic so that he can plan to write an update for that, prepare art and photos for that topic, etc. He has confirmed in the Twist and Quackalope interviews that there will still be a post-Gen Con Kickstarter update later in August. He had originally said earlier in July that the post-Gen Con update would be more focused on Wave 4 content, but I think it may just be a summary of the convention with links to interviews and pics of the booth. In late September we are going to get more of a design diary update on the current state of Encounter monsters. On Black Friday we will have another mega update with a focus on Wave 4 content (hence why I’m not sure if that’s still the focus of the post-Gen Con update).
Going forward into 2020, he has said that until Wave 3 is done, he will post quarterly, possibly more often if he has important news to share, and of course possibly less if he gets busy and changes his mind. If I had to guess, I predict the communication timeline to be:
Q1 2020 – Valentines Day? (historically, this is actually one of the more regular holidays he posts an update on, and is roughly 3 months past Black Friday)
Q2 2020 – Memorial Day? (while not something he has regularly done, but he has posted a Memorial Day update once before, and it’s a nice halfway-ish point between Valentines Day and Gen Con)
Q3 2020 – Gen Con
Q4 2020 – Black Friday
2021 – Probably more frequent smaller logistics updates as games start getting loaded onto the boats, then back to radio silence until Gen Con 2021
Granted, a promise of 4 updates in an entire year isn’t actually much better than what we got in 2018 (4 updates) or 2019 (3-4 updates it’s looking like), but at least they will be a little more focused and evenly spread out throughout the year.
Memorial Day is KD:M canon, clearly.
All-in-all, it’s a bummer that we are still a year and a half (at least) away from getting Wave 3 in our hands, but it’s good to see that Adam is finally in the right mindset to actually finish the project, and has made some level of commitment to communicate on a somewhat regular basis with backers (yes, we have heard similar promises in the past, and he already heavily caveats that he makes no promises). He also announced a ton of new and cool exciting stuff for Wave 3 that should hopefully make it worth the wait, and even stuff that we will get sooner than that!
Speaking of new content, next post will be about the Vignettes of Death: White Gigalion. I have it, I’ve fought it, and I can give you my thoughts what I think about it and Vignettes as a whole.
No huge Gen Con news this year or in the weeks leading up to it, but we had some new campaign games/expansions announced, and some updates on some games I’ve been looking forward to:
Kingdom Death: Monster Wave 3 Delayed To 2020
After 8 months of (near) silence, Adam posted a lengthy Kickstarter update right before Gen Con 2019 for Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5. Wave 3 (Gambler’s Chest and Campaigns of Death) is delayed another year to (summer?) 2020, but he’s adding a lot of cool stuff to it. I will be posting a much more in-depth article about the update and news/info that came out of Gen Con soon, I’m just waiting to see if any interviews with Adam get posted to YouTube in the next week or so.
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey Kickstarter Date Announced
Monkeys With Fire interviewed Marcin Welnicki, the creative director of Into the Unknown Studio, where he officially announced that Aeon Trespass: Odyssey will launch on Kickstarter September 9th. In the interview, Marcin talked about the lore and backstory behind the Aeon Trespass universe, gave a very high level overview of what the game is about and how player choice and narrative works in the game, previewed two new monsters, talked a bit of the Prelude experience (which will be incorporated at least partially into the main product), and more.
Marcin avoided talking about how combat works in the game, claiming that it is a “paradigm shift” for the genre that he doesn’t want to spoil quite yet. Marcin has promised to share more details about the game over the next month leading up to the Kickstarter, including a followup interview with Monkeys With Fire on August 22nd where he will demo combat for the first time. You can watch the full interview here:
Sankokushin: Five Sacrifices Announced
Axis Mundi Games announced their next game, Sankokushin: Five Sacrifices, which will be a story-driven cooperative campaign game set in a fictional medieval version of Japan. One half of the game is a dice and card-based dungeon crawler where players can customize their characters’ skills across 3 combat stances to fight AI controlled monsters that can learn and adapt to your strategies. Alternatively, players can try to be diplomatic with enemies when they feel fighting them isn’t the best option. The other half of the game is a city/hub management game where you will use resources gained in dungeon raids to build out your city. It’s by far their most ambitious design to date, and I’ll be keeping an eye on this one after seeing some of the interesting things they did with campaign progression and narrative in So Long, My World.
The Kickstarter for this project won’t launch until 2020 the earliest, I think they only announced it as early as they did was one of the characters in Sankokushin is a promotional cross-over character in the latest Middara Kickstarter. Axis Mundi Games has said they will post more details about the game over the coming months.
Fantasy Flight and Marvel Partner Up for Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Fantasy Flight Games announced Marvel Champions: The Card Game, a co-operative living card game where players take on the role of iconic Marvel super-heroes to fight super-villains. The core game is expected to come out in October 2019 and will have 5 heroes to play as and 3 villains to fight against. Fantasy Flight has promised that a single core set will have enough cards for up to 4 players to play with. A few more standalone heroes and villains will be released in the subsequent months, but in mid-2020 they will release the first campaign expansion. They didn’t go into details if campaigns will be cycles spread out across multiple monthly scenario packs, or just a single box purchase. I’m a fan of all of Fantasy Flight’s co-operative LCGs to date, so I will be keeping my eye out on this one, although I may not buy into it until some campaign content starts coming out for it.
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated Announced (Again)
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated was announced by Renegade Game Studios and Direwolf Digital. You heard me right, it was announced again, despite them originally announcing it at PAX 2018. This time there are some pictures, at least! C!L:AI is a standalone legacy adaptation of the push-your-luck deck-builder by the same name, with an additional thematic layer of a popular D&D podcast run by the Penny Arcade guys. From what little we have seen of pictures of components, it looks like you play at least part of the campaign on an open-world map as opposed to a dungeon. Don’t open that envelope with the “X” on it, double authentication required! The game will be hitting retail shortly in September.
Flamme Rouge: Grand Tour Announced
At the Dice Tower live show, Stronghold Games announced Flamme Rouge: Grand Tour, an expansion to the competitive bicycle racing game that allows players to play multi-stage campaigns/tours. It’s possible this is based on the free PnP Grand Tour expansion a fan of the game made a few years back. Campaigns can be as short as 3 games or as long as 21. The game will also come with new track tiles, special stages, and specialist riders that can be used in standalone and campaign games. I haven’t played Flamme Rouge, but it’s gotten good reviews, so it may be something I might check out in the future. Stronghold expects a mid-2020 release of this expansion.
Ongoing and Upcoming Kickstarters
Lots of Kickstarters running in parallel with or starting shortly after Gen Con:
Etherfields – A cooperative campaign-based narrative adventure “dream crawler” by Michael Oracz and Awaken Realms. It made my Top 10 most anticipated games list, and you can read more about it there. The Kickstarter has made over $3 million in funding, and has unlocked numerous free stretch goals, including two additional campaigns (there are even more campaigns as paid add-ons). The Kickstarter ends soon on Thursday, August 8th, and a base pledge is £75 (~$91).
Dice Throne Adventures – An expansion to Dice Throne that turns it from a competitve dueling game to a fully cooperative campaign-based dungeon crawler. While not a legacy game, sealed content will unlocknas you progress through the campaign, and beating the campaign will unlock new content that can be integrated into normal Dice Throne games. Being that this is an expansion, at least one 2-character pack of Dice Throne characters is required to play Dice Throne Adventures. The Kickstarter campaign has no stretch goals, but the Kickstarter edition does come with some free additional stuff not found in the retail edition. They are also offering a remastered version of all their Season 1 characters as part of this Kickstarter, and 2 new characters that can be purchased as a paid add-on. The Kickstarter ends soon on Thursday, August 8th, and a base pledge for this expansion is $69.
Trudvang Legends – A cooperative campaign-based narrative adventure using CMON’s new “legends system” to track persistent (but not permanent) changes from game to game, based on the Trudvang Chronicles RPG by RiotMinds. It also made my Top 10 most anticipated games list, and you can read mode about it there. Given it is a CMON product, the Kickstarter version comes with a number of free Kickstarter exclusive monsters, heroes, and sidequests as stretch goals (plus possibly the inclusion of a free non-exclusive Wildlands campaign). There are two additional campaign add-ons, one is a Kickstarter exclusive. The campaign has hit a bit of a funding wall at a little over $1 million dollars, so we’ll see how much further they unlock by the time it ends next Wednesday, August 14th. A base pledge is $100.
Sleeping Gods – A cooperative campaign-based narrative atlas book adventure by Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Games. This is also on my Top 10 most anticipated games list. Kickstarter goes live this Tuesday, August 6th, price point will likely be $50-$60 for the base game, based on historical pricing for previous Red Raven projects. Given an expansion (Tides of Ruin) is already listed on BGG, it will likely be offered as a strech goal or addon during the Kickstarter.
Dawn of Madness – A cooperative campaign-based narrative survival horror game that is the standalone prequel to Deep Madness. The game claims to be inspired from video games like Silent Hill and the miniatures look crazy, so I’m looking forward to seeing more. There is a Kickstarter draft page up for it with more information, albeit not a ton. The Kickstarter may go live at the end of August, but I’m guessing will slip to September. They will likely have some sort of 24-hour early bird pledge, so keep an eye out for when a launch date is announced.
I actually started writing this list about two weeks ago thinking it would be a quick and easy top ten list to ease me back into writing more regularly, but it turns out I have a lot to say about games I am excited for. 5500+ words worth of excited, apparently. Hopefully you learn about a game or two you hadn’t heard of!
#10 – SLEEPING GODS
Designer: Ryan Laukat Publisher: Red Raven Games Status: Kickstarter launching August 6th
Sleeping Gods is a cooperative campaign adventure game where 1-4 players take on the role of Captain Sofi Odessa and her crew aboard the Manticore, a steamship lost in The Wandering Sea (some sort of alternate world/universe that you got sucked into) in 1929. In order to win, you need to find eight totems of the gods hidden around the sea and islands to return home. How you go about finding these totems is a mystery, and you will need to explore an entire atlas book of maps that comprise the Wandering Sea. You quest and adventure in an accompanying choose-your-own-adventure storybook, all while trying to survive and stay alive (spoiler: if you die, you have to start all over, and you will die).
This game has obviously been inspired by The 7th Continent, and shares some similar elements of exploring and surviving in an unknown (but not random) land trying to figure out how to undo some sort of curse (it also plays like The 7th Continent in that it’s not so much a campaign as much as it is a single very long play session that you can quick-save your progress at any point and start back up where you left off). Unlike The 7th Continent, the world of Sleeping Gods appears to be inhabited by other characters that you will interact with, and the storybook choose-your-own-adventure elements will add more narrative than The 7th Continent had. The core gameplay also seems to be a bit more rooted in Euro-style strategy games, with a major focus being on building up an engine/tableau of items and allies that synergize well together, and a combat system focused around covering up spaces in a grid on an enemy’s card.
Another interesting twist about Sleeping Gods is that while it is not a legacy game, the designers are encouraging players to actually write and take notes on the atlas maps themselves (although I’m sure you could just as easily write notes in a notepad instead if you want to keep your copy pristine, but what’s the fun in that?). You will not beat the game on your first try through it, and much like TIME Stories and The 7th Continent, remembering where things are and taking notes will give you a leg up in subsequent playthroughs.
A writer on the team confirmed that there is 100+ hours of content in the game, and that there are many more than eight totems in the world, so there isn’t a fixed path you need to follow to win. It sounds like there is some amount of replayability in the game after you beat it the first time, and Red Raven also has at least one expansion planned for the game, Sleeping Gods: Rising Tides, that will extend the world further with a whole additional atlas book to explore.
Sleeping Gods will likely be on demo at Gen Con next month, and will launch on Kickstarter the week after on August 6th. Man vs Meeple already has a first look preview up on their YouTube channel that does a good job explaining the game with a lot of pretty visuals:
#9 – TAINTED GRAIL
Designers: Krysztof Piskorski, Marcin Swierkot Publisher: Awaken Realms Status: First act shipping to backers around September, expansions in mid-2020
Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon is a cooperative campaign adventure game where 1-4 players take on the roles of broken anti-heroes in a grimdark re-envisioning of Arthurian legend, exploring the secrets of a tainted island (presumably Avalon?). The island comprises of 60 tarot sized cards that fit together to form a cohesive landmass as you explore it, similar to how exploration works in The 7th Continent. Each card/location has unique story encounters that you can trigger and are read out of a choose-your-own-adventure style journal. Combat and diplomacy encounters in the game are played out with card gameplay where players try to chain actions together by linking up symbols on cards, which seems interesting. The game has a heavy emphasis on narrative that is told across a 15 chapter campaign, with a lot of branching in the story based on players’ choices in the game. Choices made in one campaign also have an effect on future campaigns/expansions as well (more on that in a bit).
Because of the $6+ million it raised on Kickstarter, Awaken Realms was also able to procure enough funds to produce the entire trilogy of games they envisioned for this series. Act II: The Last Knight takes place 400 years after Act I, and Act III: Age of Legends takes place 1000 years in the past, and the choices you make in previous acts carry over to future acts (they have said they have some clever plan so that the choices you made in the first two acts somehow affect the third prequel act). They also have a standalone expansion, Echoes of the Past, that adds a quasi-legacy element to the game, allowing you to unlock memories of the heroes by completing personal achievements in one campaign that unlocks special abilities for that hero in all future campaigns, which seems to imply they also envision people replaying this campaign multiple times to try different story branches.
Tainted Grail has the honor of potentially being the only game on this list to actually release this year, with the first act (The Fall of Avalon) slated to arrive to backers around September 2019, the rest of the content in mid-2020.
#8 – ETHERFIELDS
Designer: Michal Oracz Publisher: Awaken Realms Status: Kickstarter live now until August 6, base game expected to arrive to backers in March 2020
Awaken Realms’ next big project coming up after Tainted Grail is Etherfields, another big epic cooperative campaign “dream crawler” adventure game. 1-4 players take on the roles of dreamers (I suspect they are actually meant to represent you, the actual player of the game) trapped in some sort of dream world. They start off with no idea of how they got there or what they are doing there, and presumably will uncover this mystery over the course of the multi-chapter campaign. From what I have gathered, each chapter requires you collect a certain amount of keys, and a key can be obtained by traveling around the world map completing one of many scenarios/scenes in a chapter, each scenario taking about an hour or two to complete, factoring in random encounters you may also have while traveling to scenarios. Choices you make in a scenario can have lasting effects on the world and world map, and your character’s deck will grow and change over the course of a campaign.
Since this all takes place in a dream realm, all the scenarios are going to be wildly different from one another, feature all sorts of surreal environments and entities, and they can all introduce new rules/gimmicks specific to that scenario. The core gameplay focuses around deck-building and using cards in your hand to complete various skill checks, fight, and perform actions in a given encounter/scenario, and the publisher has said increasingly complex cards will get introduced over the campaign that you can add to your deck. The game also claims it will test a player’s “intuition, deduction, and emotional intelligence” in interesting ways. The example they give right off the bat is when you start the campaign, you are asked to pick two masks (which are represented as big cardboard tokens with beautiful artwork) based purely on their artwork/name, and it’s only after you pick them that you are allowed to actually see what benefits they give your character.
The base game appears to come with a 4-chapter base campaign and 2-chapter campaign centered around a character/creature named Belshazar. Each of these chapters consists of around 4-6 scenarios, and the core game comes with around 30 scenarios total. Additional campaigns have been teased as stretch goals and/or paid add ons. The Harpy campaign, which will be included for free as a stretch goal, focuses around building up a base. The Sphinx campaign, which sounds like it will be a paid add-on, focuses around navigating a labyrinth, both sound very cool.
Etherfields is live on Kickstarter now until August 6. For more details on gameplay, Rahdo has run through where he avoids going into any scenario/story-specific content to remain as spoiler free as possible:
#7 – TRUDVANG LEGENDS
Designers: Eric Lang, Fel Barros, Guilherme Goulart Publisher: CMON Limited Status: Kickstarter launching July 23rd
Trudvang Legends is a cooperative overworld adventure campaign game for 1-4 players that is based on the Trudvang Chronicles RPG. Set in the Norse mythology-inspired land of Trudvang, players take on the roles of aspiring heroes across a multi-story campaign that spans generations in a “living world”. While it isn’t a legacy game, the game allows for players to make persistent changes to the world over the course of a campaign via sleeved pockets on the world map and sideboard (CMON is calling this their “legends system”). As a hypothetical example, if you burn down a village, you slide in the appropriate “burned down village” card into the sleeve on the map for that village, and it will have lasting effects on all future games in the campaign. Monsters can evolve on the bestiary sideboard. Characters can reach a legendary status and retire, giving a permanent bonus to future characters on the sideboard. Even new rules can be unlocked and tracked on the sideboard. The game comes with 30 stories (scenarios), and the choices you make and the outcomes of these stories will unlock and close off future stories in the campaign. Going back to my hypothetical village, you burn it down, you’ll never get to play the story that starts out of there, for example. Combat in the game is diceless, and uses a push-your-luck chit pull system where you want to pull runes to activate abilities from your bag without drawing too many demonic runes.
I have always been a fan of legacy games, but it’s cool to see companies finding clever ways to emulate the things we love about those kind of games (persistence from game to game, choices made in a game session affecting future game sessions, evolution of rulesets, surprise sealed content, etc) without the need to actually permanently alter contents, allowing for easier replayability. If legacy games are hamburgers, then ideas like this are the Impossible Burger, and it’s cool to see CMON branch out and try new things besides dungeon crawlers and skirmish games with a ton of minis.
CMON just announced the Kickstarter will launch this upcoming Tuesday, July 23rd, so we will know more details about the game (and inevitable KS-exclusive stretch goals) then. Eric Lang did a bunch of interviews with board game media at CMON Expo last month, Tantrum House’s interview was one of the better ones if you want to give it a watch:
#6 – SAGA
Designer: Cole Wehrle Publisher: Leder Games Status: More details to be shared about this project in late summer and fall
Following up on the success of Root, Cole Wehrle’s next project with Leder Games is “Saga” (working title), which has been described as an economic legacy game that explores the concept of history, specifically exploring the concept of what stories get passed down from generation to generation (and which get forgotten).
From what little details I was able to glean from an interview Cole did with Heavy Cardboard, it is a legacy game with no scripted narrative/story/campaign. It sounds like each game you play represents a generation of history, and each game builds a new layer of history that carries over to all future games in some tangible way related to the gameplay. No details yet on how the game plays, except that it’s competitive and described by Patrick Leder as being an “economic” game. Based on Cole’s excellent design pedigree of deep and engaging strategy and economic games, I have high hopes that Saga will also be a great game at its core with the meta-campaign/legacy aspects on top of it.
What really excites me about this game is the idea of a sandbox legacy game that has no fixed storyline it’s trying to play out, and instead is effectively a board game that remembers what happened in previous games. Risk Legacy is probably the closest legacy game to date to achieve this, but even that sorta had a “story” that got told through the sealed envelopes. At a very high level, Saga also reminds me of the concept behind Chronicles, the “not officially cancelled but it’s been 3+ years since we’ve heard anything about it” legacy game series by Artana that was going to be about the history of mankind. I am sad those games never materialized, as the concept sounded amazing.
Patrick Leder said that we will probably start hearing more about this game in the late summer and fall, as Cole always writes excellent design diaries for his games. In the meantime, you can check out his interview with Heavy Cardboard for any additional details I may have missed:
#5 – SEVENTH CROSS
Designer: D Brad Talton Jr Publisher: Level 99 Games Status: Kickstarter launching in October
Note: This game has been in development for several years, and designer D Brad Talton Jr has kept a design blog going for it since early 2017, but there hasn’t been an update since late 2018, so it’s highly likely some details I have about the game are out-of-date.
Seventh Cross is a cooperative adventure/dungeon-crawler-esque game for 1-4 players, heavily inspired by games like Castlevania, Bloodborne, and Shadow of the Colossus. Players take on the role of inquisitors of The Church, a secret organization that goes around keeping the world safe from monsters and magic in some sort of alternate universe gothic horror 1929 (side note: both Sleeping Gods and Seventh Cross are both set in 1929, that is oddly specific). Players traverse through various haunted castles, making their way to the end of it and defeating the big boss monster. The game will have a heavy emphasis on narrative, as you explore rooms in the castle you will encounter and talk to NPC’s, find clues, solve puzzles, and read numerous story beats from the corresponding adventure book. And of course you will fight monsters and big bosses. Like other Level 99 games, combat will be all card-based, and each boss/monster will have its own unique AI. Monsters are very deadly and can kill a player in just a couple of hits, so a key part of the gameplay is planning your moves to avoid getting hit by bosses. Oh, and the combat takes place on a vertical board to emulate a 2D platformer. And you can transform into a monster yourself.
The game is expected to come with around 7 castles, each castle being its own self-contained campaign with its own unique monsters and combat mechanics, each taking around 7 play sessions each to get through. Players will start a character from scratch at the beginning of each castle, and will gain new skills and level up through that castle/campaign. I’m not sure if there is a meta-campaign or story that carries over from castle to castle, but the idea is that each castle/campaign is its own self-contained experience, and you would only need to play with the same group of players for a given castle. Given that campaigns are self-contained and “relatively” short (I mean, 7 play sessions can still be several months of planning game sessions with friends…), characters can die in a campaign, you can get a bad ending, or even lose mid-way through the castle. Castles will have multiple physical paths you can take through it, and there was talk of unlocking a hard mode to the castle, so there may be reasons to go back and replay a campaign again. One of the reasons may be Heirlooms, weapons and relics that you can unlock for use in all future campaigns by completing certain achievements/goals in castles!
Level 99 has been delaying launching a Kickstarter for this game for a while, but the last we heard was that it would be demoed at Gen Con 2019 with an October Kickstarter launch.
#4 – OATHSWORN: INTO THE DEEPWOOD
Designer: Jamie Jolly Publisher: Shadowborne Games Status: Kickstarter launching October 8th
I knew nothing about Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood about a month and a half ago, and now it’s my #4 most anticipated release! Oathsworn is a cooperative legacy RPG adventure game for 1-4 players, set in a dark fantasy world where players take on the role of the Free Company, mercenaries sworn to an oath to defend humanity from big scary monsters and reclaim the Deepwood. The game is effectively two games in one: half of the game will be a narrative adventure (which they call a “twisting tales” game), the other half will be big boss fights, and I love me some big boss fights!
Bosses will be 3-phase fights with unique AI decks, with the triggers for each phase being different for each boss (ie one boss may require hitting some damage threshold, another boss may require you perform some specific action to trigger the next phase). Bosses will have different hit locations and reactions based on what you hit/damage, so this is all sounding very Kingdom Death-ish (yay!). Player combat will be card driven. I’m not 100% sure how it all works, but a key focus of the cardplay is cycling cards in and out of your hand. Actual damage mitigation is determined either by the roll of dice or drawing cards from a fixed damage deck, your choice how you want to play, and you can even use both in a single attack!
The game will feature a large narrative story with legacy elements. Before you go out on a fight, you will explore locations on a map, resolving story events out of a storybook. Depending on how you traverse the map and the choice you make, the story will unfold in different ways. It sounds like there will be several locations/maps in this game, and they’ve hired a professional map artist to draw all the maps. The one we’ve seen so far looks gorgeous! Also, for those that don’t want to read, there will be a companion app fully voiced by James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont from Game of Thrones).
Shadowborne Games’ website has a countdown clock for their Kickstarter set to launch on October 8th. Until then, check out this interview the designer did with Beasts of War:
#3 – AEON TRESPASS: ODYSSEY
Designer: Marcin Welnicki Publisher: Into the Unknown Status: Kickstarter launching Q3 2019, likely September 9th
Aeon Trespass is set in the Greek mythology-inspired Ancient World where The Eschaton happened (think Ragnarok, the Apocalypse, etc) and all the gods on Olympus died. Players take on the role of the Argonauts aboard the Argo, adventuring and battling Primordial monsters with Titans (effectively giant monsters that you enslave/control). The Argo will serve as your base of operations, and you will be able to build it up via a tech tree over the course of a campaign. The game feels very inspired by Kingdom Death: Monster, at least the monster battle portion of it, but the designer assures us it isn’t just a straight clone. Aeon Trespass will have branching narrative, personal stories for player characters, adventures, questing, exploration, ship combat, allying with factions, and more. The game is set to have multiple campaigns, called cycles, each lasting about 40-50 hours long. The first one, which I assume will be part of the base game is called The Truth of the Labyrinth, with others being teased. They apparently have designed or are currently designing a standalone 6-8 hour long Prelude campaign to send to content creators for Kickstarter previews, not sure if that will be made available to backers or not.
The art and model design for the game is gorgeous, and I love the world-building they have done in all the lore they have written up for the various monsters and creatures in the world. Details have been pretty sparse on actual gameplay so far, which if I’m being honest is a little bit of a red flag for me, but they’ve started to tease some of the card art and the battle board on a more regular basis. They promise that we will have a much better sense of the actual gameplay when the Kickstarter launches.
The Kickstarter is planned to happen sometime in Q3 2019, and an exact date will be announced on or before next Friday, July 26th. The designer/publisher had hinted previously that they would announce the Kickstarter launch date a month out from launch, and the publisher has historically launched their Kickstarters on Mondays, so my best guess is that the Kickstarter will go live Monday August 26th. Hopefully as we get closer to the Kickstarter we’ll learn more details about the game (apparently a big interview about the game is going to be released on July 26th as well), and it will live up to the hype it has built up in my head!
Update 7/19 – The King of Average posted a preview video that has some additional details about the game, along with new card and title art we haven’t seen before! Also as part of this video is a puzzle for the launch date of the Kickstarter. If I’m solving the puzzle correctly, twelve points in the video are timestamped with a number from 1-12, and the timestamps are also listed in the description of the video. However, the timestamp for “9”, which is at 8:07 in the video, is mistakenly listed as 9:09 in the description, which leads me to believe the Kickstarter launch date is actually going to be September 9 (which still lines up with my theory that their Kickstarter would launch on a Monday)!
#2 – KINGDOM DEATH: MONSTER – GAMBLER’S CHEST
Designer: Adam Poots Publisher: Kingdom Death Status: In development, expected to get a status update the week of Gen Con 2019
My #2 most anticipated game actually isn’t a game, but an expansion to my favorite board game of all time, Kingdom Death: Monster. The Gambler’s Chest was part of KD:M’s 1.5 Kickstarter campaign in late 2016, and was effectively a “stretch goal box” where every day a new item was revealed for it. A lot of the reveals were just narrative survivor sculpts and promo sculpts, which are nice to have, but don’t add anything to actual gameplay. There were also some new gear cards, disorders, fighting arts, etc also sprinkled in with these minis, but the big gameplay additions boiled down to three things:
The Gambler nemesis monster
Atnas the Child-Eater nemesis monster
Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster rulebook
Let’s talk about the two new nemesis monsters first. The Gambler is the namesake of this chest, and is effectively a god in the KD:M universe. One can only assume this is going to be a tough fight, based on both his god-like status and his ridiculous god-like model. That’s 250+ humans sculpted in that ball!
Atnas started off kind of a joke encounter, the KD:M equivalent of Santa Claus that went around eating naughty children, but Adam has assured us that this will be no joke of a fight. In fact, Atnas may be the deadliest encounter we’ve ever faced, so deadly in fact that his body has been chopped up into pieces that you have to re-assemble over the course of a campaign in order to fight him. And you will deeply regret doing so.
Finally, we have Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster. Adam has kept most mechanical details about Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster very close to his chest, apparently even employees in his office knew very little of what he was working on, as he took all of the design and development work on for it personally. During the Kickstarter campaign, he teased out only a few details/subsystems, the two big things being what he was calling Philosophy of Death and Scouts of Death. Philosophies are an overhaul to Fighting Arts, allowing settlements to “level up” an ability for the entire settlement (ie, Timeless Eye doesn’t just get better for Zachary, it gets better for every survivor that has the Timeless Eye ability), to put more of an emphasis on the settlement and less on specific survivors. Scouts are an additional character that go along with the survivors on a hunt, allowing you to do things like reveal hunt events on the hunt track, pick terrain for a showdown, or even participate in the showdown as a fifth survivor (at the risk that if there is a total party kill, the party loses all their gear since the scout can’t bring it home!). Adam’s hinted that there may be some sort of tech tree system related to the scouts, but details are scarce. There was also going to be a new innovation tree related to cooking, and two new encounter monsters you might encounter during the hunt phase: Bone Eaters and Smog Stalkers (encounter monsters also show up in some Wave 4 expansions like Oblivion Mosquito). All the individual pieces sounded interesting, but it all sounded like a giant mish-mash of disparate sub-systems, it was never clear how it all integrated into the game.
In his Black Friday 2018 update (and just this week in the Kickstarter comments), Adam teased more details about Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster that make it clear that it’s entirely new way to play the game. Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster is it’s own unique story arc campaign that tells the story of an advanced settlement of survivors with super-charged brain cells. To earn the right to even play Advanced mode, you have to hit some sort of milestone/achievement in the core game to unlock it. Advanced KD:M might not integrate with all expansion content (ie, you may be able to add some quarry monsters to an ADKM campaign, but you likely can’t combine it with other campaign variants). The Fighting Arts deck is completely replaced with two new decks, Character and Knowledge decks as part of the Philosophy system, and there is a system of leveling up and unlocking new cards to these decks as you work your way through an advanced campaign. There’s some new game system called Collective Cognition that deeply incentivizes you hunting higher-level monsters, possibly used as a currency to unlock cards in your Knowledge and Character deck. There’s at least one new monster, the Crimson Crocodile, who has been confirmed as a Node 1 replacement to the White Lion. There are teases about further changes to monsters in the core game beyond what was in the 1.5 update. Based on how personally invested Adam is into AKD:M, and the fact that he is willing to delay the release of the Gambler’s Chest indefinitely until AKD:M is perfect, makes me think this could be the coolest campaign mode to come to Kingdom Death.
In the Black Friday 2018 update, Adam let us know that Wave 3 of the 1.5 Kickstarter (aka the Gambler’s Chest) wouldn’t be released until it is ready. Just this week in the Kickstarter comments, he said he was hoping to have had Wave 3 on the boats by now, but they aren’t yet. We’ll know more details about the status of Wave 3, what Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster is, what Atnas looks like, and more when he posts a big Kickstarter update in late July or early August (no later than August 4), so there is a possibility we may actually get it this year if it’s at the printers already.
#1 – KINGDOM DEATH: MONSTER – CAMPAIGNS OF DEATH
Designer: Adam Poots Publisher: Kingdom Death Status: In development, expected to get a status update the week of Gen Con 2019
I had a hard time deciding which of the two upcoming Kingdom Death Wave 3 expansions I was most excited for, but I am giving the #1 spot on my list to Campaigns of Death, if only because we have a little bit more concrete information on what it is, and I can confidently say that if it delivers on what it promises, it’s going to be amazing! Maybe it really shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that the guy obsessed with campaign games is most excited about the expansion all about campaigns.
Campaigns of Death is a rulebook with three new 30-year campaign storylines, similar to the People of the Stars and People of the Sun that came with the Dragon King and Sunstalker expansions. These new campaigns introduce unique rules, story events, milestones, innovations, etc to the game, adding a lot of variety beyond the default People of the Lantern campaign that comes in the base game. Adam has revealed the names of two of the new campaigns, People of the Eclipse and Slaughterhouse (sounds easy!). The expansion comes with only one new model, the Ancient Butcher, which I presume is the final encounter of Slaughterhouse. It also comes with two mini 3-5 year campaigns, perfect for introducing groups to the game without committing them to a huge campaign. Another big feature it comes with is the Node System, a formalized rules set for integrating expansions into campaigns.
Since this expansion wasn’t very heavy on plastic, a lot of people weren’t excited about it and passed over it initially, but not me! I love new campaign variants, so this was always one of my more anticipated expansions to come out in Wave 4. But then something happened that got people a lot more excited for Campaigns of Death…
Campaigns of Death has grown significantly in size and scope since the Kickstarter. In his Black Friday 2018 update, Adam revealed that Campaigns of Death would also contain 1.5 updates for all 12 original expansions. Examples of what this included:
Balance tweaks to monsters and gear
Cross-expansion content, such as gear and items that require multiple expansions to craft
“God Class” AI deck for Lion God on tarot-sized cards
Four different breeds of the Lonely Tree
Improvements to People of the Sun campaign
Adam only teased a couple examples from about half of the existing expansions, so there’s plenty more we don’t know about, but this all sounds very exciting! This will hopefully breathe new life into some expansions that don’t get a lot of love, like Spidicules and Lonely Tree.
Arguably the even bigger reveal Adam made about Campaigns of Death was the Strain System, an evolution of the initially pitched Node System. The Node System as envisioned gave players a framework for building custom campaigns, which assigned a number value of 1-5 to each monster and gave players some basic guidelines for building out a campaign such as “you can have at most one Node 5 monster in a single campaign”. The Strain System replaces this with a card-based system of procedurally (or deterministically) populating a story arc template in (ala Mad Libs style) with quarry monsters, nemesis, story events, milestones, etc by drawing/choosing cards from randomizer decks.
The Strain System also adds a quasi-legacy element to the game in the form of Strain milestones, which are optional challenges and side-stories that once achieved have a permanent impact on all future campaigns in some way. These campaign-to-campaign changes will be tracked via a sheet of paper called a “death world”, no actual permanent changes to components if you ever wanted to revert everything. This could be as small as adding a new Fighting Art to the game, or as big as unlocking a new campaign story arc (I actually suspect that unlocking Advanced KD:M is a Strain milestone). This aspect of the Strain System had actually been soft-launched as part of the Echoes of Death promo at Gen Con 2018, which added 4 new fighting arts to the game via Strain milestones. It sounds like the existing expansions will be retrofitted with some Strain milestones as well, as will all new expansions going forward. This reminds me a bit of the Heirloom system I talked about in Seventh Cross, and sounds very cool!
With three new 30-year campaign story arcs to play through, it’s likely going to take me years to fully experience everything that this one expansion has to offer, and the introduction of new cross-expansion content and the Strain system will add additional variety beyond that. If I could only buy one expansion for Kingdom Death Wave 3 and 4, this would be it, and for that it’s my #1 most anticipated release.
Given how much it enhances existing expansions, Adam moved the release of Campaigns of Death up from Wave 4 to Wave 3 alongside Gambler’s Chest. As I mentioned in the Gambler’s Chest entry, we should hopefully have more details about the status of both these expansions and more details on Campaigns of Death as part of the big Kickstarter update the week of Gen Con.
OK, I probably could have just ended this article with these 10 games, but I just wanted to briefly mention a few more games that I am very excited about, but left them off the list for one reason or another:
Kingdom Death: Monster Wave 4 – I am all-in on my 1.5 pledge, and am absolutely pumped to one day get to play through all of that (I’m most excited for the Abyssal Woods and Inverted Mountain campaigns), but given that we still don’t have Wave 3, it feels premature to get hyped about the next wave of content, which could be years away.
Pandemic Legacy: Season 3 – We know it’s happening. We can pretty safely guess it will release the first day of Essen Spiel, October 26. It will likely get announced at Gen Con 2019, or in the week leading up to Gen Con. This will be a must-buy and must-play for me, but given we know absolutely nothing about it, I left it off the list.
Post Curious’s next project – I’m currently finishing up the last chapter of The Tale of Ord by Post Curious, and I will almost certainly write up a review of it, but I will just spoil my thoughts a bit right now and say this is a 10/10 experience for me, hands down the best puzzle/escape-room-ish game I’ve ever played. Rita is currently working on her followup project, and has teased out some artwork for it, and this also will be a day-one purchase for me when it is available, but until I know a little more information I’m leaving it off this list.
OK, I’m done writing. Oh, what’s that, I finished Aeon’s End Legacy and should write a review for it? Back to writing…