Catalyst Game Labs announced today Dragonfire, a deck-building adventure game based on Dungeons & Dragons and set in the Forgotten Realms. The initial release, “coming soon”, will have players choosing from classic D&D races and classes and beginning their adventure along the Sword Coast. The company also plans future expansions with players leveling up their characters while visiting Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter, and Waterdeep.

Catalyst is building Dragonfire from the same system the company used for its Shadowrun: Crossfire game (though the two will definitely not be compatible).

Adapting that engine to Dungeons & Dragons is an exciting opportunity to build new ways for players to experience both quick adventures and long-term campaigns in this legendary high-fantasy setting. And at every step, Catalyst has worked hard to remain true to D&D lore. When players open a copy at the table, regardless of what they enjoy playing—RPGs, deckbuilder games, or both—they’ll find a complete box of fun.

Dragonfire will be priced at $60 retail and come with five decks of encounter cards, plus a market deck, magic item deck, character cards, adventure cards, an adventure book, sticker sheets, tokens, plastic clips, and a rule book.

Among the expansions planned are Wondrous Cache (more magic items), Heroes of the Sword Coast (more character cards with new classes and races), and Encounters: Dragonspear Castle (a new adventure with more encounter, magic item, and market cards). Several of the expansions are going to print at the same time as the base game.

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Second Look—Wrath of Dragons

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.Wrath of Dragons is a Resource Destruction game by Catalyst Game Labs. I first got a chance to play at PAX East this year after seeing the dragon on the box and immediately requesting a demo. Filled with crunchy bits and amazing art, the game uses several popular Euro mechanics to provide a fun and satisfying gaming experience.

Played over the course of 6 centuries (rounds), players will place their dragons on actions, draft cards, and head to various areas of the board to pillage and destroy. The game has a great mechanic where one player will get the First Action token, while another gets a First Attack token. Both have their advantages, and no player can hold both at the same time.

Through clever play, proper resource management, and manipulation of the central action wheel, players will move around the board capturing nobles, burning crops, destroying cities, and eating livestock. Dragons can also level up, allowing them move flexibility over the course of the game. At the end of 6 centuries players will tally up their victory points to determine the victor. Conditions like having the most of a certain resource, having a full set of colored buildings destroyed, or owning the Terrorize Tile will add to your total.

dragonsIs Wrath of Dragons worth the $60 price tag? I think so. I’m a huge fan of dragons, so that’s a win right there. Combine that with a small learning curve, lots of choices, may paths to victory, and some really great art and bits and you’ve got a solid Euro on your hands.

It’s not a game I would have expected to come out of Catalyst, but I’m sure glad it did.

A copy of Wrath of Dragons was provided free for review by Catalyst Game Labs.

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Custom Dice

Ultramarines DiceBattleTech Dice House LiaoThe thing about these dice is you probably don’t need them. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the games they go with, you’re really going to want them.

Available now from Q-Workshop are BattleTech Dice with individual sets at $15 for Houses Kurita, Davion, Liao, Marik, and Steiner. Each set with two house dice plus one die for each of four combat commands.

Coming soon from Q-Workshop are dice sets for Cubicle Seven’s roleplaying games, Doctor Who, The One Ring, and Lone Wolf.

And direct from Games Workshop, a set of Ultramarines Dice, 20 for $20.

Doctor Who RPG Dice

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paxeast2Catalyst always has a table full of amazing looking books, miniatures, and games. This year there were several new products they were showing off. Three Shadowrun 5th Edition sourcebooks, and three tabletop games. Dragons, Deckers, Vikings, and more.

Shadowrun: Hard Targets

Hard Targets is a book about death. It’s got wetworks, gear, and tactical info. It also contains adventure hooks for an in-depth look at the city of Havana in the Caribbean League, a political and criminal hotspot that lends itself to all sorts of wetwork jobs.

Shadowrun: Data Trails

Decker’s delight in this sourcebook. Technomancer’s too. This book is all about the Matrix and the flow of information. There’s even a section in here for non-Matrix users, and how their actions can effect the digital world.

Shadowrun: Rigger 6.0

Vehicles. Jets, boats, and hot rods. This book is jam packed with everything a Rigger could desire, including detailed rules on vehicular combat.

Wrath of Dragons

Forget resource management. Wrath of Dragons is a resource destruction game. Players each control a dragon that constantly pillages and destroys various regions every century. The game features resource destruction, card drafting, and dragon leveling. I had a chance to play this one, and it was a ton of fun. I’ll have a more detailed review in the near future, but for now you can check out the rules here.


Based off the hit show on The History Channel, Vikings is a game of pillaging and plundering with all your favorite heroes from the show. Gather your resources in the Winter for your Summer raids.


Another game in the Vikings universe, Jarl is a tile laying, strategy game where the goal is to capture your opponent’s Jarl. Pieces move as indicated on their tile, and every time you move a tile it’s flipped, revealing a different move set.

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Data Trails, A Sourcebook for Shadowrun’s Matrix

Shadowrun Data TrailsThe newest Shadowrun supplement from Catalyst Game Labs, Data Trails, is a guidebook to the virtual world known as the Matrix. It includes background information on artificial intelligences, dissonance pools, electronic personality ghosts, and more. The book also contains options and material for characters adventuring in the Matrix, particularly deckers and technomancers. It has programs and gear, as well as intelligence on hacker culture.

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Comic Book Guide to Roleplaying

Valiant Universe RPG Comic Book Play GuideThe Valiant Universe RPG Comic Book Play Guide is an illustrated introduction to roleplaying. Though superhero-focused and written around the Valiant RPG from Catalyst Game Labs, it’s not a tutorial for those specific rules. Rather it’s a guide to the concept or activity of roleplaying—and in a form meant to be the least intimidating as possible.

Even better, it can be downloaded for free [PDF].

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Gen Con logoCatalyst hit the show this year with new products delivered just-in-time for every category. The highlight was Shadowrun: Crossfire, Catalyst’s new deckbuilding card game that’s also cooperative and progressive (meaning progress can be tracked from game to game). Crossfire should be available at retail in September for $60.

New Shadowrun roleplaying products available at Gen Con included the:

  • Beginners Box ($20)—An introductory product with essential rules, dice, a standard adventure, and a 1-on-1 adventure (GM and single player).
  • Runner’s Toolkit Alphaware ($60)—A campaign setting in a box with handouts, maps, background information, and job book—designed especially as a next step after the Beginners Box.
  • Street Grimoire ($50)—Book of advanced magic.
  • Run & Gun ($50)—An advanced combat book.
  • Stolen Souls ($45)—A campaign sourcebook for Manhattan.

Gen Con also saw the release of the first Shadowrun novel, Fire & Frost ($15). Five more novels will ship in the next 18 months.

More in the roleplaying category, Catalyst had Beyond the Gravastar ($25), a campaign setting for Cosmic Patrol, and the new Valiant Universe RPG ($40), which applies the Cue System from Cosmic Patrol to the superhero genre.

An advance shipment of the Bravest Warriors Encounters card game made it to the show, though it wont be available in general retail until October. A basic two-player set full of inside jokes from the cartoon sells for $13. By combining red and blue boxes, though, the game can accommodate four players.

For BattleTech, Catalyst finally had the Introductory Box Set ($60) back in print. This is the one with new higher-quality plastic.

Following up on Alpha Strike, the simplified faster-playing BattleTech rule-set that the company launched last Gen Con, this year Catalyst had BattleTech Alpha Strike Companion ($40), a supplement that adds some strategic-level options to the game, and a series of four Lance Boxes ($20), which include two new mechs and two previously released mechs (plus Alpha Strike cards) each. Four additional Lance Boxes will be released in September and October.

In the board game category, Catalyst had two new expansions for The Duke, Siege Engines (5 tiles for $8) and City Troops (12 tiles for $13). The tiles in Siege Engines are red and do not go in the bag. Instead, they’re available in a central pool to both players and can be substituted for certain other tiles already on the board.

Last but not least, Catalyst was previewing two new games tied to the Vikings TV show on the History Channel. The first is simply called History Channel Vikings and is a game of exploration, conquest, and resource management. Available for $60 in March (timed to launch with the new season), the game has a constructable map and sees players crewing a longboat as characters from the show.

The second Vikings game is Jarl ($45), which plays exactly like The Duke but includes new pieces made of an imitation stone instead of wood. In fact, though it won’t be advertised as such (license restrictions, I assume), Jarl can be played in combination with The Duke.

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BattleTech Box Set Reprint

BattletechI’ve always been a fan of mechs, and BattleMechs are no exception. Now Catalyst Game Labs has released and updated Battletech Introductory Box Set, $60 worth of awesome minis, streamlined rules, maps, and more. The total package includes:

  • 24 unpainted, ready-to-play plastic BattleMech minis
  • 2 unpainted, premium-quality plastic BattleMech minis
  • One 12-page full-color quick-start rulebook will have players into the action in minutes
  • 36-page book of pre-generated BattleMech Record Sheets
  • One 80-page full-color rulebook
  • Inner Sphere at a Glance, a 56-page full-color book of universe
    background and BattleMech technical data
  • One 16-page full-color Painting and Tactics Guide
  • Two heavy-duty cards of compiled tables
  • Two 18″ x 24″ game-board quality maps

So what are you waiting for, MechWarrior? Climb into a 30 foot metal beast and start tearing apart your enemies.

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Cartoon Hangover CCGs

Bravest WarriorsA recent announcement by Catalyst Game Labs provides additional detail on the company’s Cartoon Hangover license, a deal which I reported on back in August. Specifically, Catalyst is planning to publish Bravest Warriors and Bee and PuppyCat collectible card games.

Planned for release in 2014, the games will incorporate the LevelUp system, “a cooperative play card game with fractured story telling.” LevelUp challenges players with threats grouped into “episodes”. The players roll dice to overcome those threats, and when they do, they turn over the threat cards to see their rewards—at least that’s what they hope for. Sometimes on the other side is a trap or greater villain. During the course of the game, players may also advance their Bravest Warrior cards and flip them over to reveal advanced powers.

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Gen Con 2013 logoPremiering at Gen Con and attracting a crowd of eager fans were printed copies of Shadowrun 5th Edition. The book was available in three versions: Standard, a full-color, hardcover for $60; Standard Limited-Edition, with the same contents but a red leather and gold stamped cover for $100; and Deluxe Mayan Limited Edition, which for $200 comes with a red leather slipcase embossed with a golden Mayan calendar and is bound with 100# paper, gilded edges, and a dragon-textured red leather cover.

The recently released abstract strategy board game, The Duke, was also prominently featured in Catalyst’s booth, with several demo tables and a super-sized floor version. Five future expansions for the game were available early at the show: Customization Tiles, Robert E. Howard, The Musketeers, Arthurian Legends, and Robin Hood, each containing 4-8 new tiles.

For BattleTech, the main new product was Alpha Strike. This is a simplified, faster-playing version of the game. It doesn’t change the essential nature of BattleTech. The standard mechs are all there, for instance, but the stats and mechanics have been streamlined. This makes a Battletech version that should be easier to introduce to players of other miniatures games and a version that supports large battles (dozens of mechs are feasible). In addition to the Alpha Strike book, Catalyst was selling Ad Hoc Unit Cards, a quick-reference resource not currently scheduled for general release.

In terms of future products, Catalyst was demonstrating Crossfire, a Shadowrun card game that should be available in November. And I found out from Loren Coleman that the company has a new Asian-themed, tile laying game planned, Paico, and recently acquired a license to produce two games based on the web-comic and YouTube cartoon, Bravest Warriors.

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