GenCon is here once again… but then it isn’t. What we have is a virtual cacophony of announcements, YouTube channels, streamers, Tabletop Simulator games, and who knows what else. (Special note, there are quite a few publisher-sponsored Tabletop Simulator versions of upcoming games that you can play for free right now!) Every year I try to scour the convention as my big hoo-hah of the year and try to cover as much game-related stuff that I can. Well, there’s nowhere to go this year but I’m trying to make up for it by checking in with some personal contacts supplemented with a bit of web surfing. Thankfully, we here at OpinionatedGamers don’t have a need to produce any video content of things we can’t see. It’s old-school text-only (well, and a few pictures) from here on out. Long live the written word! I’ve dug up plenty of newish-game goodness so I’ve broken my post into three parts in roughly alphabetical order by publisher. All errors in dates, times or misspellings are my own, don’t go blaming the publishers. (Well, you can blame Dale Yu. Shame on you Dale…)
Today’s focus: Publishers A to C
No, Asmodee does not control the world’s stockpile of games (although there’s a rumor going around that they just acquired Rock-Scissors-Paper.) However, they do constitute a whole bunch of publishing houses. I’ve put most of them together here and tried to label their associated publishing name. Apologies again in advance for any errors, they’re all my own.
Star Wars Unlock [Space Cowboys]
The Unlock series of card-based escape-puzzle experiences takes on Star Wars. This box contains three different scenarios: rebels escaping from Hoth, smugglers breaking out of a star destroyer, and imperial agents trying to recover kyber crystals. Expect to interact with ships, weapons, and droids from the setting. Should come out in November 2020.
7 Wonders [Repos Production]
7 Wonders will be coming out with a new spiffed-up version. No rules or other changes but there have been graphic upgrades for flair as well as usage. The attack tokens are easier to tell apart, cards from each age have more distinct backs and have a more 7 Wonders Duel style iconography to help readability during play. The player boards are larger (and have a day/night side instead of the same image both. Look for it September 2020
Small World of Warcraft [Days of Wonder]
The rise and fall of empires game of Small World has come to the popular computer game MMO World of Warcraft setting. With 16 races (most new) and 20 powers, there should be plenty of variety. Races also fall along the Horde/Alliance factions from the game and some game effects will trigger off these. For example, you get extra points if you attack a race of the opposite faction. A new travel mechanic is also added to help move around. The idea of legendary places and special artifacts (placed on the board 1 per player per game) from Small World Underground has been included. My personal favorite race at the moment are the goblins who spread bombs around the board, not knowing whether they’re going to go off or not…. Look for it September 2020.
Pandemic legacy season 0 [Z-Man Games]
It’s Pandemic Legacy… that’s enough for most. Set as a “prequel” of sorts to seasons 1 and 2, players take on the roll of agents in the cold war of 1962. Rather than occupations you are and agent who now has an alias. These aliases build up assets over time, although be sure to not “blow your cover” and lose all your carefully laid plans. Hopefully we’ll see this in October 2020.
Spendor Marvel [Space Cowboys]
This is nearly a straight port of the engine-building gem collection game, Splendor. The catch here is that you’re collecting various gems for the Infinity Gauntlet. To win, players must get 16 points, but also need to have at least 1 bonus of each color and a green token (I think that’s the wildcard color). Should be out in October 2020.
Fantasy Flight (the following are all released under their label)
As usual, Fantasy Flight announced a barrel-full of miniatures that are releasing. Mostly stuff in the various Star Wars line. As a teaser, one thing I found was that there are two new factions coming out for Star Wars Armada – Galactic Republic and Separatist Alliance. Both have a “starter set” option to kickstart your growing collection.
Keyforge, the game for fans of combinatorics. The recent Mass mutation set contained decks with creatures so big they took up two cards! The Dark Tidings line will introduce a new house. It likes to control the board, penalizing opponents. There will also be a Tide card giving a high tide to one player and a low to the other. Cards can affect and be affected by the tide (you usually want the high tide.) Watch for “Evil Twin” decks that mirror decks that have been released in the past but the new versions of the card are slightly twisted – more powerful perhaps, but also more consequences.
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
The Shadowed Path expansion, coming in October, introduces a new branching campaign, along with the expected new heroes, etc.. The Haunting of the Dale is a digital campaign that can be run off a tablet, based off the Shadowed Path expansion. Look for it also in October. Finally, there was a slight teaser about the game “going off to war” next year.
Marvel Champions The Card Game
This card game should see a Hulk hero pack in early August and a Rise of th
e Red Skull campaign expansion in September. The Once & Future Kang is a scenario pack to compliment the Red Skull expansion. In November you’ll see a set of hero packs: Ant-Man, Wasp (both of which have “giant” card versions), Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch. The former two and latter two both work together well as their decks have some nice synergies built-in. Another campaign expansion, Galaxy’s Most Wanted, will release in February 2021 and contain both Rocket Racoon and Groot.
Twilight Imperium: Prophesy of Kings
If you think about playing Twilight Imperium and then say to yourself “yeah, sure, but I don’t know if it really takes enough time to play.” then you’re in luck. This new expansion to the 4th edition of the game can take the game up to 8 players. There are 7 new factions, 40 new system tiles, and each faction gets three new leaders. Oh, and there are some really cool looking Mech Units… gotta build me some of those bad boys. Start calendaring your time now, it comes out in November 2020.
Marvel X-men: Mutant Insurrection
This is a co-op dice game for 1-6 players. It’s a co-op so teamwork is important, but team members can “bond” with each other and thus sometimes just make things more complicated. (Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey anyone?) Players take turns, rolling their dice, moving their heroes to different location cards, etc.. etc… The game sports 8 different “plots” each with their own iconic threat. Look for it Q1 2021.
Arkham Horror Card game
Arkham Horror is all about the port town of Innsmouth this fall. The Innsmouth Conspiracy is a deluxe expansion for the card game. It sports the 1st two scenarios which will be followed by 6 more mythos packs later (1 per month starting in November.) This first expansion contains 5 new investigators which bring into play some new styles of deck possibilities. You’ll find keys, flood tokens, curse tokens, bless tokens, and even vehicles! You could get yourself a boat! Then you don’t have to worry about being flooded and can move about the cabin (I mean board) more easily. War of the Outer Gods is another scenario pack coming out later this year featuring a big multiplayer epic mode thingy. (it was supposed to come out at GenCon….)
Arkham Horror Boardgame
Fans of the Arkham Horror boardgame can get their hands on Under Dark Waves in September 2020. This is a big box expansion with 2 new tiles, 8 more investigators (I like “Ashcan Pete”) and four new scenarios. Once again you’re in the slimy, only slightly evil town of Innsmouth and trying not to wet your pants. It has the standard expansion pile of bits – assets, monsters, conditions, a terror mechanic. Time to buy another organizer.
Two Final Things:
First, almost all of the IP owned by FFG is being wrapped into novels by the folks over at Aconyte books if you want some additional reading to get yourself into the game playing mood. Second, FFG’s announcement video briefly flashed a giant box of Descent – presumably some version that includes many of the expansions?
What, you’ve only tricked out your CATAN game board? It’s time to put some money into stuff that’s not even the pieces. Let’s look at the options.
CATAN Trading Post
A handy folding box to hold all the cards. The top flips off to make a dice tray as well.
This bad boy is a hexagonal dice storage box that can Transformers-style turn into a handy dice tower. I’d get one but if I can’t even get my dice to land on the table, how am I going to get them into that little opening on top? (PS. It says there are “Powerful Magnets for a precise and secure closure.” You have been warned.
You have nice pieces (don’t use that as a pickup line) but you don’t have a place to STORE those pieces. Yes, you need a handy box to put in all your cities, roads, and towns. Let’s make that a cool hexagon box with a clear top. Why not! You can get red/orange/blue/white as well as the expansion colors brown and green! (No comments below on how CATAN marginalizes green aliens from outer space… they get their own house-box!)
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
Gloomhaven. Something with Gloomhaven in the name. Out in stores now. This entry writes itself. You’re either online buying it now or have skipped to the next paragraph, but let’s go through the motions anyway. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is basically a Gloomhaven starter set. It’s a nice idea. It contains just 4 new characters, 16 monster types, and 25 scenarios. Rather than map tiles, the maps are printed up in a book! Just flip open a page and smack down your pieces, what a great little way to speed setup. For newcomers to the game, like a videogame tutorial, the first 4 or 5 scenarios in the book gradually introduce new mechanics until you’ve reached the full game. You’re still reading? It’s out right now.
Chip Theory Games
Cloudspire – The Uprising and Horizon’s Wrath
Cloudspire is Chip Theory’s game based around the MOBA style of videogame (think League of Legends, DOTA, or Heroes of the Storm – although I fear that did not help most of you.) A Kickstarter in April supported a reprint of the base game as well as two new factions. The Uprising expansion actually contains only a few faction-specific chips. Instead it has many new market items, as the faction is primarily powered by recruiting from the market. Of course, with so many mercenaries, if left unchecked they may even turn on each other. Horizon’s Wrath puts mobility as a premium as they can even move their fortress (it’s a flying fortress) around the map. It’s spire spaces are replaced by cannons and their Morale ability lets them possibly gain command points for their kills. According to the Kickstarter last spring, it should be out Q4 of 2020.
Hoplomachus Victorum is a stand-alone title, providing a solo play experience using the combat system from previous Hoplomachus games. Focusing in on the heroes, it is designed for campaign play. Past Hoplomachus content will get a remaster as well, streamlining the base game and expansions into one box. Look for both to appear as a Kickstarter campaign sometime in 2021.
Czech Games Edition
Under Falling Skies
Out in Q3 2020, Under Falling Skies is a solo game with a multi-mission game arc. Using dice placement you try to protect your besieged city. Place your dice to take an action, but placing a die also triggers specific enemy ships to descend. So you’re getting good news and bad news each time… you just get to pick the news. Go big? And the aliens will come home (faster). You get to build up your base to create more powerful actions or get more workers, but be sure to spend some time on research or upping your energy supply or you’ll (not) live to regret it.
Lost Ruins of Arnak
Another Q3 release is Lost Ruins of Arnak. With a bit of everything, it has deck building, worker placement, and resource management. Put them all to work to explore the island. Cards can be used to place workers, and exploring the island reveals more new places to put them. If workers aren’t enough sometimes you have to spend resources, so stock up when you can. Players only get one action per turn so hopefully things move at a brisk pace. The decks of cards are small but (hopefully) the luck factor will be mitigated by the tactical decisions available on the game board. Random game setups will add variety or (for me) will give you something to blame when you lose.
Through the Ages: Leaders and Wonders
If you’re a fan of Through the Ages (I know I am) be sure to check out the recently released set of new Leaders and Wonders. You can use them to completely replace ones in the base game, or you can shuffle them together and randomly pick some out to seed a new game. They’re also available on the well-implemented app.
In other Czech Games news, there’s now free downloads for playing Adrenaline or Sanctum in a solo play mode (I don’t think you can mix and match them, though.) Another good note, you can now use an Official online app to play Codenames. Just head to Codenames.game to play. It’s free.