WOTC and Cryptozoic Settle IP Dispute

Hex Shards of FateWizards of the Coast and Cryptozoic Entertainment have settled a dispute that saw the former sue the latter in federal court with allegations of copyright, patent, and trade dress infringement. WOTC had essentially claimed that Cryptozoic’s digital trading-card game, Hex: Shards of Fate, was a copy of Magic: The Gathering.

Other than to say that “the parties have entered into a settlement agreement and license with undisclosed terms,” no further details of the deal were provided.

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Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.The computer game Portal is an interesting puzzle game with the player using a portal gun—a device that creates wormholes on walls—to navigate through a (usually) trap-filled testing chamber controlled by a demented AI who promises cake at the end. Portal is one of Valve’s award-winning games and a flagship product on the Steam gaming service. In 2012, the computer game company began to develop a tabletop game based on Portal, eventually teaming up with Cryptozoic Entertainment in 2013 to continue development of the game. Now available for pre-order, we’ve had a chance to play the game.


Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game is a game for 2-4 players, each heading up a team of test subjects. Three rows of hexagon-shaped test chambers are connected to form the board (the “laboratory”). Each turn, GLADoS (the active player) removes a test chamber from one edge of the board, and places it at the other end. The effect is an infinite board, much like Thunder Road. When a test chamber is removed, whichever player has a majority of test subjects on that tile gains the rewards listed on the tile which might be the ability to move a gun turret, adding one or more test subjects to the laboratory, or slices of cake. All test subjects are removed from that tile, so you’re sacrificing test subjects to possibly gain a reward. If there is any cake on that tile, it is incinerated. As soon as one player has no test subjects on the board, the game ends. The winner is the player with the largest number of cake slices in the laboratory.

The cards in Portal have “play now” abilities on the front (“Aerial Faith Plate: Move one test subject of any color to an adjacent chamber”), and characters with abilities to be used by all on the back (“Cave Johnson: To earn cake from an activated chamber, all test subjects in that chamber must be the same color.”). Play that card and it sits on top of the discard pile with a character from the game and a rule that stays in play until that character is covered up. So: how to best play the two cards in my hand to not give the other players a powerful ability they can use right away?


The game is all about positioning: With only three test subjects on the board, can I maneuver them to a position where they will be picked by GLADoS? Should I have a test subject pick up my opponent’s cake slice and merrily run a tile that will be incinerated or should I pick up one of mine and move it to a safer room? That’s where the puzzle of this game comes in: positioning and moving your test subjects around.

I can see a bit of analysis paralysis creeping up in this game. Even with a small number of test subjects for a player to manipulate, the player can only choose one chamber’s test subjects to move. Take Ticket to Ride as a counterexample: TTR has only a few things a player can do on your turn, just like Portal does. However, Portal has the chance to trigger AP in some players due to the size of the board and the immediacy of GLADoS removing test chambers.

portalgame_3dSpeaking of GLADoS, there’s a standee counter for it which you’re supposed to use to indicate which chamber is being removed, but in practice it’s completely useless. Also speaking of completely useless: throw away the insert. The insert is usable as long as you don’t actually remove anything from the punchboards: no place to store the useless GLADoS standee, the cake pieces, the test subjects, or the portal markers. (We’re talking the Asmodee edition of Mission: Red Planet bad.) Cool companion cube and turret figures for the game (even if one of the panels on the turret seems to have arrived broken).

Our two-player games were around twenty minutes long. We’re going to give this a spin with three players later this week.

The game itself is fun and filled with a lot of short-term strategy decisions. I was going to recommend it, but… the MSRP is $50. Quite frankly, it doesn’t feel like similar games at that price point. The packaging has a bit to blame for this: the box has faux-aging on it, like it’s been beaten up a bit and well-loved/used over the years. The back of the box features a bland photo one might see on a family boardgame from the early 1970s. While it all fits to recall the computer game, the boardgame’s exterior has that look from a time before games cost $50; the physical design of the game says “cheap”.

I’m also irrationally upset with that insert.

But that’s balanced by the gameplay. We found it fun. Gameplay is also strategic (which I really enjoy). And the game does come with a Steam code for Portal 2, so…consider this a $40 game with a $10 computer game bundle, I suppose.

A copy of Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game was provided free for review by Cryptozoic Entertainment

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Gen Con logoRecently released by Cryptozoic for its DC Comics Deck Building Game were Arrow and Justice Society of America Crossover Packs. These are $10 mini-expansions with 20-30 cards each. Next up in the series will be a Legion of Superheroes Crossover Pack in October for the same $10. And then later in the fourth quarter, or possibly the first quarter of 2016, will be a Watchmen Crossover Pack. This one will feature new modes of play, including individual hidden agendas and a traitor mechanic, retailing for $13.

Being demoed at Gen Con were two highly anticipated licensed board games, Portal and Ghostbusters.

The Portal Board Game is due in September for a retail price of $50. Not so much a reproduction of the video game experience as evocative of it, the cardboard version has players moving their test subjects through the game to earn cake. Included in the box is a Steam code for a free copy of Portal 2. And speaking of the box, it comes with this cool incinerator insert for dropping in pieces of cake.

For the Ghostbusters Board Game scheduled to ship in October at a retail price of $85, Cryptozoic had final production figures on display.

UPDATE: Somehow I forgot to mention the Portal incinerator and missed the pictures I had of it and the box.

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attack_on_titanA few years ago, an action adventure manga won the hearts of genre fans in a story called Attack on Titan. The book series spawned an international hit anime television show, more than half-a-dozen video games, two feature-length films, and a myriad of merchandise.

Thanks to a collaboration between Cryptozoic Entertainment and Don’t Panic Games, Attack on Titan will soon have a line of board games, too.

According to a press release, the first Attack on Titan board game, which is designed by award-wining game designer Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc, will be available internationally in 2016. It will be a cooperative style game with one person playing the roll of Titan and the others playing the heroes. ” The game features a revolutionary game mechanic, the Titan piece is a vertical game board element and the hero game pieces climb in an effort to take him down.”

Look out for a number of different Attack on Titan board games to launch over the next few years. Hopefully, the anime fan base won’t be as fickle with board games as they are with television shows.

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dc-comics-logoCryptozoic Entertainment’s superhero deck building game set in the DC universe is getting a new expansion pack this summer. The Legion of Superheroes Pack #3 will feature founding members of the original organization, including Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and more. Villains will include the likes of Time Trapper, Emerald Empress, and the Persuader. Plus, find new equipment, super powers, and locations to increase your options.

The 22-card set includes a new game mechanic called “Time Travel” that can be played in the line-up or on the Super Villain stack at the cost of discarding a card.

The expansion pack includes the following:

  • 22 game cards (eight Super Villains and 14 main deck cards)
  • 6 oversized superhero cards
  • 1 Rules card

The DC Comics Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack #3: Legion of Superheroes will retail for $10 and is expected to ship this July.

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A Kickstarter project for Ghostbusters: The Board Game was just launched by Cryptozoic Entertainment. The game, which the company hopes to ship in October, is described as a cooperative “episodic adventure” game.

Players take on the roles of the four original ghostbuster characters—Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, and Zeddemore—and pursue their supernatural quarry through four episodes in each of three campaigns. In the final episode of each campaign, the players will take on one of the iconic bosses, Slimer, Idulnas, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

For a pledge of $80 backers will get 10 double-sided game board tiles, dice, tokens, character cards, ghost cards, and at least 47 miniature game pieces—ghostbusters, bosses, galloping ghouls, gruesome twosomes, and boogaloo manifestations. Included in the $125 Mass Hysteria pledge level are the Kickstarter exclusive foil-stamped box, Sandman boss figure, Sedgewick Hotel tiles, glow-in-the-dark dice, and super-sized, impossible-mode Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Expect additional stretch goals. Cryptozoic is seeking $250,000 in funding.

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Love Letter: Batman


Being a variant of the original Love Letter, a card game by Seiji Kanai, Love Letter: Batman takes players into one of the most sought-after comic worlds. As Joker and Harley Quinn have escaped from the notorious Arkham Asylum, it is Batman’s duty to hunt these villains down with the aid of Robin and perhaps, Catwoman. To achieve this goal, players have to make use of the special effects on the cards to knock opponents out of the round, or to capture the most powerful card so as to receive Batsignal tokens.

Love Letter: Batman is a co-release from Alderac and Cryptozoic. It plays 2 to 4 players in about 20 minutes, and is expected to be released in March 2015.

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Cryptozoic Entertainment has announced their forthcoming pairing with Finn and Jake’s Adventure Time cartoon.

Once again, Cryptozoic scores a major IP, and it is Adventure Time.  Adventure Time Card Wars is four decks that can be played against each other.  Each deck is themed to a character (Jake, Finn, Beemo and Lady Rainicorn,) and  has standard fantasy card game themes – spells, locations, creatures and hit points.

The physical game will include a code for the digital game being released soon by D3 Publisher. They are no stranger to Adventure Time, having already published “Adventure Time™: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!” and others for Xbox, PS, and Wii platforms.  Card Wars will be a mobile game available for $3.99 and with In-App purchases.

Here’s to hoping that Flame Princess, and Peppermint Butler aren’t far behind.

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Thinking about new career options for 2014? Here are some current job opportunities in the game industry…

Fantasy Flight LogoAt Fantasy Flight Games in Roseville, Minnesota:

National Museum of PlayWith The Strong and National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York:

paizo_logoAt Paizo in Redmond, Washington:

Wizards of the CoastWith Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast subsidiary in Renton, Washington:

Hasbro logoAt Hasbro in Pawtucket, Rhode Island:

Spin Master LogoWith Spin Master:

At Cryptozoic in Lake Forest, California:

  • cryptozoicProject Coordinator assisting with production and distribution of trading cards and collectibles.
  • Marketing Manager responsible for web content, social media, web promotions, and advertising.
  • Graphic Designer to design art and layout visual media for print and digital.

Panda Game ManufacturingWith Panda Game Manufacturing:

  • Project Manager [PDF] in either Vancouver, Canada or Indianapolis to work with clients and overseas suppliers on the production of board games.

Today, Cryptozoic announced that the free to play game, Hawken, will be coming to your tabletop as a real-time card game.

Hawken has been a free-to-play first person shooter in ‘mechs up until now.  With this release, players will simultaneously draw and play as many cards as they like until one player grabs the “Fire!” card.  At the point players will have to see if their ‘mech overheated during the fury of slapping weapons down onto the table.

This two player game continues the trend of games playing in shorter amounts of time, with a playtime of 25-30 minutes.    MSRP comes in at a comfortable $15, and also includes $5 towards online upgrades.  Two versions will be available, Sharpshooter vs Bruiser, and Scout vs Grenadier.

For more information check out the Hawken product page, and make sure to keep your eye out for this at your gaming store this quarter!

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