My Top Ten Anticipated Games, Mid-2019 Edition

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

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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).

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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). 

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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.

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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.

A rendering of what the final rack may look like, courtesy of Fábio Fontes.

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!  

A rough look at the map board, where the players will choose their destinations between battles. The large numbers represent boss stages, while smaller numbers are exploration stages where you might discover new allies or keys to the story.

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).

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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

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.

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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.  The 5 is tilted and the 8 is upside down, which leads me to believe the Kickstarter launch date is actually going to be August 5 (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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

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…

Kingdom Death Pre-Update Update!

It has been 237 days since we have gotten an official Kickstarter update for Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5, which is… a while… to go without an update for a project.   After a very lengthy update on Black Friday 2018 (where Adam said that Wave 3 and 4 of the Kickstarter were indefinitely delayed until he was happy with them), Adam went more-the-less completely radio silent for the first half of 2019.   What little communication we got from him via Twitter and Kickstarter comments was that he was focused on getting Wave 3 content done, and the next official update would be in early August to coincide with Gen Con 2019.

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The average gestation period of a hippo is 237 days, just saying.

To my and others’ pleasant surprise, Adam actually logged on to Kickstarter a couple of days ago and ended up answering a bunch of questions people had.  While he didn’t get into any specifics had about the status of Wave 3 and 4, he did confirm that the big Gen Con update was coming and what we should expect in it, as well as answered a couple miscellaneous questions people had about upcoming expansions.  I went through each of them and categorized/summarized them here, and thought I would share them for your reading pleasure:

THE BIG GEN CON UPDATE

The Gen Con update is going to go live either right before the KD:M team leaves for Gen Con, or on the floor from Gen Con.   The update will have details on the status of Wave 3 and why it’s taking so long.  Adam said the update will have updates on every single expansion in Wave 3 and Wave 4, which by my count is 17+ expansions, more if you also include promo and crossover content.  The update may end up being so massive that he may split it into two separate updates.  If that’s the case, the pre-Gen Con update would focus just on Wave 3 content (Gambler’s Chest and Campaigns of Death), and a second update in August after Gen Con would focus on Wave 4 (the 15+ other things).

Adam posted this picture as part of his anemic Kickstarter update the night before Gen Con 2018 opened.

At the very latest, we should expect the update by August 4, which is 18 days away (likely earlier), the wait is almost over!

WAVE 3

Adam was hoping to have Wave 3 printed and on boats by now, but it’s not.  He will give more specific details in the big update.

The Gambler’s Chest has been expanded significantly beyond what was initially pitched.  Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster tells a specific story about an advanced group of survivors, it sounds like it is its own story arc campaign, and it may not integrate with all expansion content.  The Crimson Crocodile is 100% confirmed as a new Node 1 quarry monster that is part of Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster and comes in The Gambler’s Chest.  The previously to-be-revealed monster encounter that comes in The Gambler’s Chest is still a thing and they are called Smog Stalkers.

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Not a joke, like many people thought

 

The Strain System will track campaign-to-campaign changes on a meta layer sheet called a “death world”, so you can theoretically reset everything if you wanted to (no permanent changes like a legacy game).  The Strain system allows Adam to release smaller content that is more meaningful. Changes introduced by a Strain milestone could be as small as a new fighting art to as big as a new campaign story arc.

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Prediction: Unlocking Advanced Kingdom Death: Monster is a Strain milestone related to eating Black Lichen

Adam feels that both Gambler’s Chest and Campaigns of Death are must-haves, and set the stage for what’s to come.  There is no plan to make 1.5 reprints of the original expansions, you will need to buy Campaigns of Death for the 1.5 updates to them.

WAVE 4

Wave 4 may get broken up into smaller waves, with some of the smaller expansions and promo content coming sooner.  Some expansions are close to being done, while others have barely been started on. The Abyssal Woods is the furthest out, but Adam has promised that it and every other expansion will get made.  The Abyssal Woods is the expansion he is most excited about. There have been no major overhauls to what was pitched for the Wave 4 expansions, Gambler’s Chest and Campaigns of Death were the biggest changes.  They have gotten better at engineering for plastic production, so there may be additional models in some of the expansions.

Image result for crimson crocodile kingdom death

Adam also answered some miscellaneous questions about some Wave 4 expansion stuff:  

  • Campaigns of Death is not required for using Spidicules/Flower Knight/Dung Beetle Knight in the Abyssal Woods expansion
  • Super Saviors vs Perfect DBK takes place in a survivor’s dream, so it’s going to be more ridiculous than a standard showdown.  Dung Beetle Knight does not integrate with this expansion in any way.
  • Parasite Queen is an optional encounter in the Screaming God expansion, but may end up becoming a final encounter
  • There is a story related to the Survivor Satan model in the Ivory Dragon expansion

THE FUTURE

Future projects beyond the 1.5 Kickstarter are not a top-priority for him at the moment.  He might end up letting somebody else develop Kingdom Death: Titan (his deckbuilder) if and when that gets made.  He might revisit The Lantern Festival at some point in the future (haha okay).  No plans to make new dice variants.  He wants to update the FAQ for the 1.0 expansions after Gen Con.

MISC

Adam acknowledged that he has been bad about updates and apologized for the lack of communication, but we’ve heard this all before, so don’t take this as any sort of promise we’re going to see more regular updates.  For what it’s worth, he did log back on the following day and answer a few more questions.  

WHAT DO I THINK?

I’m guessing that the update on Wave 3 will get posted the night of July 31, the night before Gen Con opens, so he can include a picture of the booth as part of the update.  I do expect that he will split the update into two sections as he alluded to.  I’m alright with that, as all I really care about at this point is the status of Wave 3.  Given that he was hoping to have Wave 3 on boats by now, that gives me some sliver of hope that it may currently be at the printers and we might actually get it by the end of the year.  I’m not holding my breath for any sort of release date announcement, but if he gives us some sort of status update as to where it is in production/assembly, that would give us some insight into when to expect to get it.

I’m not really sure what to expect in terms of gameplay and content details of the expansions, since Adam typically doesn’t spoil much in advance.  He typically shows all the models in advance, so we should see renders/pictures of Atnas, Crimson Crocodile, Smog Stalkers, and any other monsters not yet revealed that are part of Wave 3.  It would be nice to get some updated manifest of what is in The Gambler’s Chest and Campaigns of Death, since they have changed so much since the Kickstarter.  It would also be great to get a high-level pitch of the changes being introduced to Spidicules, Dung Beetle Knight, Lion Knight, Dragon King, Slenderman, and Green Knight Armor, as he did with the other 6 expansions in the Black Friday update.

As for what’s beyond Wave 3, I fully expect it to get broken into smaller waves.  I think this would be a good thing, as that means we may get some content sooner than we would if we had to wait until it’s all done.  Specifically, I think it’s going to break up into 3 waves:

  • Wave 4 – This will be the promo/crossover content and expansions that don’t tie into the Inverted Mountain or Abyssal Woods campaigns.  First Hero for sure will be part of this wave.  I’m not sure if all of these would be part of this wave, but other candidates would be Screaming God, Ivory Dragon, Silver City, and Death Armor.
  • Wave 5 – Inverted Mountain, and all the associated expansions: Frogdog, Oblivion Mosquito, Nightmare Ram, Black Knight, Pariah, Red Witches, and Gryphon
  • Wave 6 – Abyssal Woods and Honeycomb Weaver

I’ll be sure to post my thoughts about the big Gen Con update and any other information we hear from the floor at Gen Con.  We’ve waited so long, what’s another two weeks?

Gen Con 2018: Top 10 Hype List

The doors to Gen Con 2018 are just minutes away from opening, and while I won’t be there (#GenCant), this is the shortlist of games that I am most excited about that will be available for sale or demo there.   I waited so long to make this list because I knew there would be a number of really interesting titles that wouldn’t get announced until this week.  3 of the games on this list were just announced in the past 72 hours.  My list is limited to just campaign/narrative games, but there are plenty of other games I am excited about as well!

 

#10 – ARKHAM HORROR THIRD EDITION
Designed by Nikki Valens
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Available for demo at one of Fantasy Flight Games’ booths 

To be honest, I was a little disappointed in Fantasy Flight’s Gen Con announcements this year, but Arkham Horror Third Edition did pique my interest a little bit.  The big difference that I’m seeing beside the modular board is that the game is scenario-based with branching narrative paths to them.  Based on the initial images, the branching narrative system looks similar to how Fallout: The Board Game handled it with a deck of cards that you seeded based on the choices you made.  A prototype version is available for demo at Fantasy Flight’s booth, and will hit retail in Q4 2018.

 

 

#9 – ULTIMATE WEREWOLF LEGACY
Designed by Ted Alspach and Rob Daviau
Published by Bezier Games
Available for sale at Booth 431, MSRP $60

Rob Daviau + Legacy = Interested.  A legacy campaign version of Ted Alspach’s “ultimate” version of the classic social deduction game Werewolf.  The game focuses heavily on a journal that guides the moderator and villagers through a branching narrative based on the choices of players and outcomes of games.   The game requires a minimum of 9 players to play, so I don’t know if I’ll ever actually have the opportunity to play this, sadly.  Only 300 copies were flown in to Gen Con, but the game will hit retail later in the month.

 

#8 – 1001 ODYSSEYS
Designed by Chris Cieslik
Published by Asmadi Games
Available for playtesting at ICC Room 142

1001 Odysseys is an episodic space adventure game inspired by choose your own adventure books.  Chris has been developing this game for a number of years, and at one point was a hybrid tabletop/app game, but it appears that the game may have moved back completely into the analog space.  1001 Odysseys tells the humorous story of humanity’s first foray into a sector of the galaxy full of “fascinatingly weird” aliens.  Asmadi Games will be demoing a special episode at Gen Con, at time of writing this they only had 9 seats available for demos.  1001 Odysseys is planned for an October 2018 Kickstarter, pending feedback from playtests at Gen Con.

 

#7 – THE RISE OF QUEENSDALE
Designed by Inka Brand and Markus Brand
Published by alea and Ravensburger
For sale at Booth 2113, MSRP $80

Legacy Euro-style game by German designer power-couple Inka and Markus Brand.  I love their EXIT series of escape room games, and I know they also have some pretty highly-regarded strategy games as well.  This game has been out in Germany since March, and early reviews have said that the core gameplay is really solid.  My only major concern with this one is that since the campaign ends when a player wins 9 games, it could take as many as 25 or 33 games in a 3 or 4 player game respectively.  Not sure my friends would be willing to commit to something this long.

#6 – COMANAUTS
Designed by Jerry Hawthorne
Published by Plaid Hat Games
Available for demo at Booth 1537

Just announced last week, Comanauts is the second title in PHG’s Adventure Book series, building on the mechanics and systems introduced in Stuffed Fables, but for a more mature audience (not sure if they mean “mature” in terms of complexity or content). I love Psychonauts and Inception, so I’m sold on the theme of exploring a dreamscape.  Game comes out later this year, but they’ll have it available to demo at Gen Con at their booth.

 

#5 – DETECTIVE: A MODERN CRIME BOARDGAME
Designed by Przemysław Rymer, Ignacy Trzewiczek, and Jakub Łapot
Published by Portal Games
Available for sale at Booth 1850, MSRP $50

I’ll be honest, after First Martians, I was a bit skeptical about Detective.  But the initial reviews and impressions of this game seem to be overwhelmingly positive, so I’ve slowly warmed up to it to the point of being excited about it.  I am a fan of mystery/puzzle games, and I’m curious to see how the digital integration works with it.  Portal Games will have copies for sale at Gen Con, and will hit wider retail later this month.

 

test

#4 – FIRE FOR LIGHT
Designed by Walter Barber, Ian VanNest, and Andrew Zimmerman
Published by Greenbrier Games
Available for playtesting in the First Exposure Playtest Hall

Just announced on Tuesday in Greenbrier Game’s newsletter, Fire For Light is a dark adventure game about survival and exploration.  The game is set during a nuclear winter, centuries after whatever initial incident caused it, and players take on the role of two sisters who leave the shelter of their home to explore their harsh surroundings.  The game uses an app  that handles as the storybook as well as tracks players choices throughout the games.  The story of the game is large in scope, but told in smaller quest-sized chunks in individual game sessions.  An early prototype was shown at on Twist Gaming’s stream on Tuesday (at the 3:11:00 mark), and the artwork has a cool comic book feel to it.  This one is still a little ways off, with a Kickstarter in February/March 2019, but they are doing playtesting at Gen Con.

 

Game Mockup

#3 – GEN7: A CROSSROADS GAME
Designed by Steve Nix
Published by Plaid Hat Games
Available for demo at Booth 1537

Just announced this week on Monday, Gen7: A Crossroads Game is the long-awaited Crossroads followup to Dead of Winter.  Players take on the roles of officers aboard an international colony ship to a distant star system.  A terrible 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.  No release date has been given yet (probably Q4 2018), but they will have it available for demo at their booth.

 

#2 – SCYTHE: THE RISE OF FENRIS
Designed by Ryan Lopez Vinaspre and Jamey Stegmaier
Published by Stonemaier Games
For sale at Booth 3019, MSRP $55

The final and biggest expansion to Scythe features 11 modules that can be added to Scythe, similar to what Tuscany did for Viticulture.  The expansion also comes with an 8-episode narrative campaign that lets players unlock the modules similar to sealed content in legacy games, but there is no permanent changes to components and the entire campaign can be replayed infinitely.  I really enjoy Scythe, so I’m excited to play through this campaign and unlock all the surprises.  Hopefully I can play through it with friends, but if not, I can play solo with the automa rules provided.  The game will hit retail August 17th.

 

#1 – KINGDOM DEATH: MONSTER – SCREAMING GOD AND BLACK KNIGHT
Designed by Adam Poots
Published by Kingdom Death
Available for demo at Booth 3003

Adam Poots is a very secretive man, and Gen Con is really the only one time a year that he makes a public appearance.  He’s kind of like if Willy Wonka was into body horror, miniatures gaming, and RPGs.  We have heard little from him in the past half year, but we do know he well have two upcoming expansion monsters, Screaming God and Black Knight, available for demo at his booth!  People have also confirmed that he is selling a promo mini-expansion, Echoes of Death, that adds a couple extra Fighting Arts to your game if you can complete specific achievements.  He should hopefully also have a lot of other sculpts and assets from upcoming expansions on display at his booth.  Kingdom Death: Monster is one of my favorite games, and I can’t wait to hear more information about The Gambler’s Chest and Wave 4 expansions!  And a life-size King’s Man statue!