News: September 2018 Edition

September, that month between Gen Con and Essen where we are so overwhelmed with all our new games to play that we have little time to hear about the news.  Thankfully, you have me!


REVIEWS (OR RATHER, REVIEW)

Still working on being more frequent with reviews, but it was a busy month for both work and games!  I did get one review done:

Duct Tape Won’t Fix It: A MacGyver The Escape Room Game Review (4 out of 10)


NEW GAME RELEASES

Not a lot of new releases this month, as most big titles either already came out at Gen Con in August, or are coming out in October at Essen SPIEL.  But there are a couple to report on.

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy
Designed by Ted Alspach and Rob Daviau
Published by Bezier Games
Players: 9-16
MSRP: $59.95

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy hit retail in early September after a couple hundred copies were sold early at Gen Con.  Ultimate Werewolf Legacy is, as the title suggests, a legacy version of the classic social deduction game Werewolf, co-designed by Ted Alspach and Rob Daviau.  Players take on the roles of villagers in a New England village in the late 17th century that is plagued by werewolves.  Over the course of the 16-game campaign, aspects of the game will change based on the win-loss ratio of villagers from chapter to chapter, as well as story decisions that villagers must vote on.  Due to the high player count, I don’t think I will ever get it played, but I did buy a copy and read through the diary to see how the campaign plays out and evolves.  I may do spoiler-free writeup of that in the future.

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare
Designed by James Sheahan
Published by Modiphius Entertainment
Players: 1-8
MSRP: $79.99

The core set and several expansions for Modiphius’s Fallout tabletop miniatures game finally hit retail in late September.  The game can be played competitively or solo/co-op against an AI opponent, and can be played in a campaign mode where you build up a settlement from game to game.  The base game comes with a scenario book including 5 scenarios that link together, but it feels like for the most part its up to the players to build out their own campaigns and storylines.

Folklore: The Affliction 2nd Edition
Designed by Will Donovan and Nick Blain
Published by Greenbrier Games
Players: 1-5
MSRP: $69.95

The second edition of Greenbrier’s Folklore: The Affliction was shipped out to Kickstarter backers this month (along with the second edition of the Dark Tales expansion), and should hit retail soon.  Folklore is an DM-less “RPG in a box” boardgame in a gothic horror setting.  Players take on the roles of flawed anti-heroes and villagers trying to stop the supernatural afflictions plaguing the land.  The game is a hybrid of a pen-and-paper RPG game where you read through a story making choices and skill checks, and a tactical skirmish game for resolving fights in the story.  The game comes with 6 stories that players can make choices in how it plays out, and characters can be leveled up and carried from story to story.


 

CLOUDSPIRE FIRST DETAILS RELEASED BY CHIP THEORY GAMES

Chip Theory Games have been teasing their next game, Cloudspire, for months (including sending all Too Many Bones: Undertow backers with a promo chip with the Kickstarter launch date on it).  But up until very recently, little-to-nothing was known about the game aside from that it was going to be their take on tower defense games.  Chip Theory finally gave us a little more of a peak behind the curtain this month in their blog.

Cloudspire is inspired heavily by tower defense video games, and can be played competitively, cooperatively, or solo.  The game takes place in the floating realm of Ankar, featuring four unique factions that will have some degree of asymmetry among them.  The solo mode will feature a narrative campaign broken into episodes that follow each of the factions, telling the story from multiple viewpoints.

Cloudspire will be coming to Kickstarter soon on October 16.  Pricing details have not been announced yet, but they say this game is similar to Too Many Bones in its scope and depth, so it will probably be just as pricey.


 

ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD OF VENICE SNEAKING ONTO KICKSTARTER NOVEMBER 2018

Triton Noir is re-envisioning their stealth WW2 co-op V-Commandos in the Assassin’s Creed universe.  Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice is a simplified and streamlined adaptation of V-Commando’s stealth mechanics, focusing more on short range and melee combat.  The game will feature a narrative campaign of 20 branching scenarios, including sealed envelopes that players will unlock over the campaign containing new content (not a legacy game, everything can be reset).  Between scenarios, players can upgrade their equipment and headquarters.  As inferred by the name of the game, this takes place roughly during the events of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and it is teased that Ezio will make an appearance in the story.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice will launch on Kickstarter in November 2018.

Duct Tape Won’t Fix It: A MacGyver The Escape Room Game Review

MacGyver: The Escape Room Game

Designers: Nicholas Cravotta and Rebecca Blaeu
Publishers: 
Pressman Toy Corp
Players:
 1-4 (theoretically can be played with any size group)
Playing Time:
30-60 minutes
Campaign Mode:
5 missions, not replayable once you know the puzzle solutions, components permanently modified
MSRP: $29.99
Logged Plays:
5 games solo, all scenarios completed
Copy Purchased By Reviewer


 

NOT SURE IF THEY WERE INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE A GAME FROM THE 80’S/90’S, BUT THEY NAILED IT.

I’m a huge fan of “escape room in a box” style games, and I have played pretty much every one that has been released to date.  When I heard that there was a Target-exclusive MacGyver-themed escape room game, I was morbidly curious.  Mass-market games based on IPs usually aren’t great.  Furthermore, it was designed by the same duo that made ThinkFun’s two “Escape the Room” games, which I wasn’t a fan of.  But my curiosity got the best of me and I bought it upon reading that the game came with five separate missions that had to be played in order, leading up to a grande finale against Murdoc.  A campaign escape room game?  I gotta try that out!

“Campaign” is overselling what the game offers (note: the game does not advertise itself as a campaign game).  Each of the five missions must be played in order because some components unlocked in earlier missions are reused in later missions.  There is no overarching storyline that carries through the five missions, it felt more like just five random episodes of the series.  In fact, the first mission is based on the pilot episode of the series, I’m not sure if any of the other missions are based on actual episodes or not.  Aside from a few physical props carrying over from game to game, nothing about your performance in previous games will affect future games.

EACH MISSION COMES IN A SEALED ENVELOPE, WHICH IN TURN CONTAINS SMALLER SEALED ENVELOPES.

Each mission consists of six puzzles that you must complete in a fixed order.  I found for the most part the puzzles weren’t that challenging to solve.  The majority of them were actual puzzles where you had to arrange some tiles in a certain arrangement, and required little thought aside from just moving pieces around until you reached the solution.  Some were a little trickier, some were a bit obtuse even with the hint system, but none of them ever made me say to myself “that was really clever” like other escape room games and actual escape room games have me do.  Even worse, none of the puzzle felt like stuff MacGyver would do to solve problems.  Instead of combining items together to make gadgets to solve problems like MacGyver would, you’re just trying to solve codes to enter into an a webform.  I admittedly am not a die-hard MacGyver junkie, so I can’t speak for how frequently MacGyver spent solving codes on the show, but it feels like he’s much more iconic for his DIY skills, and the fact that the game failed to capture that essence of the character and the show in the game is a huge misstep.

I should point out that the game requires an internet connection to use a website that serves as your game timer, hint system, and how you enter answers to the puzzles.  The website will also instruct you on what envelopes to unseal as you progress through a mission.  I’ve played a couple escape room games now that use apps and websites for similar purposes, so I had no issues with it, but just something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a purely analog experience or won’t have an internet connection.

I should also point out that in the envelope for the first mission, you are provided with a small mirror.  This mirror has a protective film cover on it that you need to peel off, I didn’t realize this until the final mission of the game and struggled using an incredibly cloudy mirror to try to solve puzzles with.  While I don’t think this knowledge would have noticeably improved my overall impressions of the game, it would have at least made solving a couple of the puzzles a little more bearable.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Unless you are a die-hard escape room junkie or an even bigger MacGyver fan, I recommend passing on this.  There are dozens of far better escape room tabletop games out there to try out.  If you want to combine items together to solve problems ala an old school adventure game, try checking out the Unlock! series.  If you want more a collection of challenging and interesting puzzles to solve, check out the EXIT series.  They are both fantastic and even the most mediocre entry in those series is better than any of the missions contained in the MacGyver box.


REVIEW SCORE: 4 out of 10 (Below Average)

icons8-plus-24 PROS

  • Five escape room scenarios for $30 is a decent value

icons8-minus-26 CONS

  • Scenarios are short, typically only take 30 minutes to solve even solo
  • Puzzle quality is weak
  • Puzzles don’t feel like things MacGyver would do
  • Disappointing grand finale

 

News: August 2018 Edition

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


REVIEWS

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

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

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


NEW GAME RELEASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


 

NEW GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outlaws in a Strange Land
Designed by Stephen Gibson

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

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

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


 

BURGLE BROS LEGACY?

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


FEEDBACK NEEDED FOR SEAL TEAM FLIX EXPANSION

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