Toy Fair 2017—Gale Force Nine

Gale Force Nine’s booth was a science fiction geek’s dream, with products for Star Trek, Dr. Who, and Firefly.

For Star Trek Ascendancy, the Ferengi Alliance and Cardassian Union expansions were delayed shipping from the manufacturer but should hit retail soon at $35 each. Both add new civilizations to substitute for one of the original three or to accommodate an extra player. Gale Force Nine was also previewing a third expansion, which works a little differently than the player expansion sets. Borg Assimilation (due in June) provides a universal enemy and substitutes Borg for discovered planets. However, the first player to be assimilated by the Collective then takes over playing the Borg.

Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks (April, $75) is a 2-6 player cooperative game where each person plays a different incarnation of the Doctor visiting planets and solving dilemmas. The game looks grand, has some beautifully-detailed miniatures, and includes all the Doctors and companions from the whole series but is supposed to play in just 90 minutes. Look for a special K9 miniature in the first print run.

Separate from Gale Force Nine’s existing Firefly series, Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats is an RPG-style adventure game due in September. Essentially a dungeon-crawl, the game comes with six double-sided map tiles, 15 bad-guy miniatures, and two versions each of five crew figures. The two of those are there to represent the development of additional skills that each character can go through during the game.

Gale Force Nine has another Dungeons & Dragons board game in the works. Thieves Guild, scheduled for an October release, will see the players as thieves, competing to complete quests, develop renown, and achieve the highest rank in the thieves guild. The game’s action will be set in the Forgotten Realms with the board a map of Baldur’s Gate.

If you can’t wait for October, Gale Force Nine should also have this April two expansion cards sets for Tyrants of the Underdark, Aberrations and Undead.

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Tyrants of the Underdark Preview

Tyrants of the UnderdarkThe latest Dungeons & Dragons board game, Tyrants of the Underdark, should arrive at retail within a few weeks and if I didn’t already have a copy it would be for me a must-buy. The game is substantive but not difficult and has a nice balance of interesting mechanics and thematic conflict. I played it with a friend the first time and we immediately wanted to play it again and again.

Despite its D&D heritage, Tyrants of the Underdark isn’t an adventure game. It makes use of the Forgotten Realms setting but instead of following the RPG style draws on deck-building, area control, and war game inspirations to represent the political maneuverings and intrigue of dark-elf drow society. Players work to place spies, control underground cities, recruit minions, and assassinate opponents. They do this in game terms with two resources: influence for deck-building and power for maneuvering on the board.

The deck-building portion works pretty much like you’d expect. There’s a six card market from which players purchase minion cards representing drow, dragon, elemental, and demon factions. Each turn a player draws five cards from their assembled deck, using the actions and resources on those cards to purchase additional cards, place pieces on the board, capture opponents’ pieces, etc.

On the board are a number of Underdark cities and the pathways connecting them. Control of a city goes to the player with the most troops inside. Getting there, though, normally requires deliberate expansion along the pathways. That is, until one manages to place a spy, which doesn’t exert any control itself but does allow a player to leapfrog intervening enemies and open spaces.

The winner is determined by victory points awarded from a variety of sources. Every city awards victory points to the player controlling it. So do most of the minion cards. One thing I found particularly interesting about the game is how cards a player has managed to remove from their deck (an important strategy in many deck-building games) go up in victory point value. Rather than being considered trashed, the game treats them as if they’ve been promoted to the drow house’s inner circle.

In terms of complexity, Tyrants occupies a middle ground. My friend and I figured out how to play pretty easily from a quick read through the rule book. Only after that first play-through, however, did we start to recognize some of the important strategies. For me at least, though, that’s exactly how the best games work.

Tyrants of the Underdark is a Wizards of the Coast design but is being published by Gale Force Nine. As I said, it should be available at retail within the next few weeks. MSRP is $75 and the game handles 2-4 players in around an hour.

Tyrants of the Underdark Cards

Tyrants of the Underdark Setup

Tyrants of the Underdark Playmat

Tyrants of the Underdark In Play

Tyrants of the Underdark Board Closeup

A complimentary copy of Tyrants of the Underdark was provided by Gale Force Nine for review.

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Tau KV128 StormsurgeBased entirely on what looks cool to me…

For Warhammer 40,000, the KV128 Stormsurge ($150) from Games Workshop holds two Tau crew and features ball-and-socket joints for a range of posing options.

From Privateer Press, the gargantuan Trollbloods Glacier King ($135, November) for Hordes freezes lakes, streams, and enemies with its passing. The heavy warjack Hand of Judgement ($60, December) for Warmachine wields an immolator cannon and mace for the Protectorate of Menoth.

Hordes Trollbloods Glacier King Warmachine Hand of Judgement

Among the Wyrd Miniatures releases for Malifaux 2nd Edition, there’s the pre-colored Swamp Cottage ($21) and the gun-toting Abuela Ortega ($16) in steam-powered wheelchair.

Malifaux Abuela Ortega

Malifaux Swamp Cottage

Gale Force Nine’s resin minis for the Dungeons & Dragons Rage of Demons campaign includes a five-piece Orcus figure ($75) seated on a throne of bones.

GF9 Orcus

In Reaper Miniatures’ Dark Heavens series there’s a new Temple Dragon ($33).

Reaper Temple Dragon

And for a very limited time, Reaper’s Bonesylvanian series includes the better-look-at-the-pictures-than-have-me-describe-them Jacques ($8), Howie ($8), and Lou ($11).

Reaper Bonesylvanian Lou Reaper Bonesylvanian Howie Reaper Bonesylvanian Jacques

Spartan Games adds two new forces to Firestorm Armada this month, including a Terquai Dreadnought Group (£25) and a Xelocian Imperium Dreadnought Group (£25).

Terquai Dreadnought Group Xelocian Imperium Dreadnought Group

And last-but-not-least, Dark Sword Miniatures recently released a Cat Paladin ($10).

Cat Paladin

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Firefly Fluxx

Firefly FluxxLooney Labs announced on Thursday plans for a Firefly Fluxx. The company is working with Gale Force Nine, which holds the Firefly license from Twentieth Century Fox.

Firefly Fluxx is expected at retail in “early 2016” with a suggested price of $20.

What else is there to say? The game will feature all the characters and other elements you know from Firefly and all the chaos you expect from Fluxx.

Gorram cards!

Wrestling Board Game

GF9_WWE_Showdown_BoxGale Force Nine has provided some images and additional detail for the WWE board game that I reported on in February. WWE Superstar Showdown will indeed include six miniature figures, for wrestlers Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Big Show, Randy Orton and Big E. However, the company seems to have revised its plans somewhat. In contrast to what I was told at Toy Fair, Gale Force Nine now describes the product as “a game of exciting miniature combat driven by specialized card decks for each WWE Superstar.”

Still, individual matches can be linked together to form an event, stipulation cards can be played to introduce special rules, and superstars may improve between matches with the addition of bonus cards to their individual decks.


D&D: Rage of Demons

What’s the biggest, baddest dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons? I’d have to go with the Underdark, the cavernous maze that spans an entire game world. This world under the world is the setting for Wizards of the Coast’s next storyline, Rage of Demons.

And yes, there’s a Drizzt.

Rage of Demons cover


The main concept behind the new storyline involves a demonic invasion of the Underdark with adventurers traveling “with the iconic hero Drizzt Do’Urden”. Like the previous storylines, Rage of Demons will be told through the tabletop roleplaying game and electronic (PC and Xbox One) games. The Neverwinter: Underdark expansion for the Neverwinter MMO will be released in 2015 (with the Xbox version coming after the PC version) while the Out of the Abyss adventure for D&D 5th Edition is scheduled for the fall. Partner companies WizKids, who have developed games for the D&D line; Gale Force Nine, who did the DM Screens for the earlier storyline adventures; and Smiteworks, who have developed Fantasy Grounds, a virtual tabletop product supporting D&D, are all on board for Rage of Demons.

Earlier storylines had their tabletop campaigns developed by third-party companies: Tyranny of Dragons’ Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat were developed by Wolfgang Bauer’s Kobold Press while Elemental Evil’s Princes of the Apocalypse was developed by Rich Baker’s Sasquatch Game Studio. Out of Abyss will be developed by Green Ronin, who have previously done the Dragon Age RPG, A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, the Freeport setting for D&D 3.5 (and Paizo’s Pathfinder game), among others. Out of the Abyss will be a single volume book, like Princes of the Apocalypse.

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gale-force-nineOf last year’s announced licenses, Gale Force Nine has just started shipping Homeland: The Game but has had to delay the Black Sails game to coincide with season three.

This year, the company announced licenses to produce Family Guy and WWE board games.

For Family Guy, Gale Force Nine plans a series of games, starting in the fall with Stewie’s Sexy Party. John Kovaleski, the company’s CEO, described it to me as a “Mad Libs-style scavenger hunt.” Players will be asked to find specific objects on cards featuring images from the television show. The loser of each round will be called “Meg”.

The WWE board game, Gale Force Nine hopes to release in time for Gen Con at a price similar to its other offerings (so around $50). Yes, it will include minis but don’t expect a map-based tactical combat game. Instead, it sounds like GF9 plans to emphasize the drama, meta-story, and antics typically involved in WWE wrestling events. The game will be team-vs-team. Each play will require the selection of a story card (for example, Royal Rumble or Cage Match) and the picking of coalitions. Individual WWE superstars will be represented by customized card decks and hits can be taken inside and outside of the ring.

Also of note regarding the WWE board game is Gale Force Nine’s plan for organized play, which the company says will be supported by the wrestling body and promoted to its existing fans.

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D&D Elemental EvilWizards of the Coast announced the latest Dungeons & Dragons storyline, Elemental Evil, which includes offerings across multiple project lines. The Elemental Evil storyline begins in March with a free download for the tabletop roleplaying game that includes new races and the player content for Princes of the Apocalypse, an epic adventure for characters levels 1-15. The storyline continues in a season of play with the D&D Adventurers League, WotC’s organized play program.

In addition to the tabletop RPG, Wizards of the Coast and WizKids Games will also release a Temple of Elemental Evil boardgame on April 30th (MSRP $64.99), compatable with the Adventure System boardgames The Legend of Drizzt and Castle Ravenloft. WizKids will also produce pre-painted collectable miniatures for the Icons of the Realms line. Miniatures that tie into the Princes of the Apocalypse product and an Elemental Evil-themed Dungeon Master’s screen will be coming from Gale Force Nine in March.

Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment’s D&D MMORPG, Neverwinter, will also have a new module added that adds a Paladin class and increases the level cap from 60 to 70 with an Elemental Evil storyline that will “compliment the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons tabletop adventure, Princes of the Apocalypse.”

Elemental Evil is loosely based upon TSR’s 1979 and 1985 adventure modules The Village of Hommlet and The Temple of Elemental Evil. While the TSR products featured a single temple for heroic adventurers to cleanse and destroy, the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure features “four corrupt prophets …[calling] a cadre of cultists and creatures to serve them in the construction of four elemental temples of lethal design.” The Princes of the Apocalypse adventure has an MSRP of $49.95 and will be released on April 7th.

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Firefly Resin Ships

GF9FIRE007Fans of the Firefly Board Game can soonget a package of resin ships to customize to your liking. In the box there’s 4 Firefly Class Ships, 1 Reaver Cutter, and 1 Alliance Cruiser. Each miniature is unassembled and unpainted, and reproduced from the original  with a higher level of detail.

I don’t even own the game and I want this box.

You’ll see these available for $50 in February of next year.

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