Puzzling Pixel Games have currently funded for their debut game The Abandons. Created by Michael Blascoe this solo game centers around a voice inside your head, calling you to go, to the abandons. In The Abandons, you start at the entrance to the abandoned, yet living labyrinth and hope to make it to the final card, the exit, by drawing a card each turn and navigating your way to the end, the exit. Along the way, you may encounter surprises or items to help you. What will you find there? Will you find peace and silence the voices inside your head? or will you spend your last days trapped? The game is $13 and is scheduled to ship May 2018. Soloists can check it out here.

Next up, as if it was raised from the bottom of the murky water from years of slumber is a reprint of Dragon Dice – Swamp Stalkers. Dragon Dice is a collectible dice game for 2 or more players. Originally made famous in 1995 by TSR, Dragon Dice has continued to expand and evolve under the reign of SFR inc. Players use colorful dice to represent armies of different fantasy races which battle to control essential terrain in this fast-rolling game. The first player to capture two terrains immediately wins the game. A total of 40 dice, two playmats and a copy of the 2-player starter set is $35. So begin your adventure. Shipping is scheduled for August 2019.

For the wargamer, I wanted to showcase this game I ran across. Glory Recalled: Hong Kong 1941 is a board wargame based on the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941. This is a unique choice for a military game for sure. Created by David Cheng. In his Kickstarter bio, David says “we can do something to recall people’s attention to this precious history and commemorate the forgotten heroes who sacrificed their lives for Hong Kong.” The game uses a semi card-driven system. Players take turns to play cards from their hands to activate a formation of units on the map. Cards may also be used to provide combat support like artillery and air support or for rallying disrupted units. There are also historical and what-if event cards which add replay value to the game. The game will run you approximately $41 The campaign ends August 14th with a shipping date of December 2018. Your defense starts here.

And last but not least, it’s Trogdor!! The Board Game. Now full disclosure I am a massive fan of Homestar Runner, the online webcomic the character Trogdor comes from. To give you a little history, Trogdor was a man, he was a, a dragon man! For centuries, the legendary wingaling dragon Trogdor the Burninator has terrorized the peasant kingdom of Peasantry with his scorching flames and greased-up beefy arm. Now, he has descended from the mountains once again and will not stop until he burninates the entire countryside and all those unfortunate enough to get in his way! Your goal is to burn everything in Trogdors path. Some people shockingly are not good with this in the village and will be trying to stop you (BOOOO!) This co-op game is very true to the spirit of the character and has rocketed past it’s stretch goal of $75,000 (at the time of this article it has raised 10 times that amount). $40 gets you the version with wooden minis and $60 gets you the wooden mins + plastic minis. What are you waiting for? get Burninating!

Kevin Siembieda, President of Palladium Books, posted a public update to the Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter stating they will not be able to produce the Robotech RPG Tactics Wave Two rewards following the expiration of the Robotech license. The campaign for the Robotech RPG Tactics game raised nearly $1.45 million in 2013 to produce a miniature wargame based on the version of the Robotech anime owned by Harmony Gold USA. The license, which was held by Palladium for thirty years, has expired and is not being renewed.

As part of the loss of license, Palladium is liquidating all Robotech products, including their roleplaying game book line and all pdfs of the original game line’s material on DriveThruRPG.

Siembieda writes about the many delays and the unseen costs Palladium encountered while attempting to fulfill the project: recreating 3d sculpts that were incompatible with the manufacturer’s production process and increased shipping costs. In January of 2014, the company decided to split the numerous sculpts and rewards into two waves of project. After having delivered the planned first wave, “the Kickstarter money was gone.” Palladium Books estimated that producing the second wave of rewards would have cost them up to $625,000.

The company is offering to substitute already-produced product in place of the second wave rewards they did not create, but say backers would have to pay for shipping. “We estimate shipping to all 5,000+ backers around the world will cost $120,000-$160,000; and, at this point, Palladium Books just does not have the resources to cover that expense.” This exchange is offered only while supplies last or March 20, 2018, whichever comes sooner.

In an earlier update to the campaign, Palladium wrote “By Kickstarter’s terms of service, we are obligated to deliver on the rewards we have promised, and we will do that…. If the time should ever come that Palladium Books cannot fulfill the terms of our Kickstarter project, we will of course offer refunds, as we would be required to do by Kickstarter.”

Expect a Sonic the Hedgehog board game on Kickstarter soon. The game was announced by Shinobi 7, previously a joint venture with Ninja Division Publishing but recently acquired in its entirety by Seven Seas Entertainment. Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers, based on the SEGA video game series, will allow players to choose between Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, Tails, and Dr. Eggman, each represented with 40 mm painted figures.

Up on Kickstarter now is Highlander: The Board Game from River Horse. This one naturally comes with a 32 mm figure for each immortal and has players dueling to the last.

All Things Equal, publisher of Loaded Questions, has acquired a license from NBC Universal to produce The Big Lebowski board games. At least two are planned, with details expected around New York Toy Fair.

Billing it as the first in a series of X-Files games (even though the company previously published one in 2015), IDW recently announced Everything is Connected: The X-Files Conspiracy Theory. As a story-telling party game, Everything is Connected has players inventing theories to explain case evidence and then attempting to convince the others of their theory’s plausibility. It’ll also include an alternative game mode, based on the episode “From Outer Space”, in which the players take turns trying to weave together in to a sensible narrative the invented eyewitness testimony provided by the other players. Everything is Connected is supposed to ship in March.

Pegasus Spiele has announced plans for a series of four new games based on Games Workshop’s classic title, Talisman. The first, due later this year, will be a children’s game. Following that, are planned an expandable card game, a roleplaying game, and a dice game.

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It’s Rambo. It’ll have miniatures. For many people, that nostalgic excitement will be enough. Frankly, that was all I needed to volunteer for this preview. But the question, of course, is will the final Rambo: The Board Game product live up to the expectations of potential backers?

I, at least, expected a miniatures combat game. And while fighting is certainly the focus of the game’s mechanics, I was pleasantly surprised to find it more a cooperative adventure game. In fact, the highlight for me was how well the game differentiates and personalizes the individual characters—including Rambo himself—which players adopt to complete various missions. Successfully achieving objectives is not just a matter of plunging forward shooting at enemy soldiers. Instead, it requires players to coordinate and make use of their heroes’ unique talents.

Another nice aspect of the game is the scenarios, which not only advance the story but also provide players further development for their selected characters. As each scenario is completed, the players are afforded additional choices of gear and tactics.

In terms of gameplay, I particularly appreciated the individual “alert meters” and other features that focus players on keeping their heroes hidden from the enemy while moving about the board. Also special is the more cinematic approach that the game takes to combat. There are no dice or other random factors. If someone shoots, they hit.

Finally, though Rambo: The Board Game requires players to track a fair amount of detail among character skills, stances, tactics, and gear, plus a variety of enemy units, each type with its own programmed battlefield actions, the structure of the game and most of the rules are pretty straightforward. I rarely play this kind of game, yet one quick read through the rulebook was all I needed.

Still, my generally positive experience with Rambo: The Board Game comes with a significant caveat. The game I played was a prototype. Though I’ve seen much worse even in published games, the rules to this one are still rough around the edges. Some ambiguities and language issues remain. The graphics and design will improve, I’d hope. More scenarios should be added (the prototype only had three). And instead of standees, there are supposed to be plastic miniatures in the production box. The number and quality of those, I expect will be a significant factor for potential backers.

Rambo: The Board Game from Everything Epic Games launches on Kickstarter January 23rd.

A complimentary partial prototype of Rambo: The Board Game was provided by Everything Epic Games for review.

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Hot Jobs

Kickstarter is looking for a Games Content Strategist to work at its office in Brooklyn, evaluating games projects, writing about them, and promoting them through various online outlets.. The company is also looking for a Games Intern for a 3 month research project. There’ll be a lot of detail work online and either previous academic study of games or 3-4 years of professional experience with games is required.

Recruiter Aardvark Swift is searching for a Marketing Manager to work at The Pokemon Company in London. The successful applicant will familiar with media for 4-14 year olds across Europe.

Steamforged Games (Guild Ball, Dark Souls) is looking to fill two positions: Commercial Brand Coordinator and Retail Support Manager, both in Tukwila, Washington. The former will focus on marketing, the latter on retailer account management.

Esdevium Games, part of the Asmodee Group in the U.K., has openings for a Finance Manager, an HR Officer, and a Sales and Customer Service Account Handler. The last of those is about sales to the hobby channel.

University Games, located in the Mission area of San Francisco, needs someone to fill the dual role of Receptionist and Office Manager.

The Stars Group is working to develop a state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence that could learn to play a variety of games. Toward that end, the company is recruiting for a Poker AI Research Engineer and a Graduate Poker AI Research Engineer.

Cubicle 7 needs an Office Assistant in Swindon, U.K. to help with customer service, order handling, and administrative tasks.

Tabletop Tycoon (Game Salute, Myriad Games, Ship Naked) is staffing up in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The company has job openings for an Account Manager, an Assistant Account Manager, full and part-time Fulfillment Staff, and a General Manager. The Account Manager and Assistant Account Manager will be responsible for sales and logistics for Ship Naked. Fulfillment Staff will handle packing and shipping. The General Manager, who will run everything, is expected on-site 7:00 AM-7:00 PM.

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Crowdfunding Highlights

Scott Almes’ Heroes of Land, Air & Sea is much bigger than the Tiny Epic games he’s designed, but retains the epic-ness. In this 4X boardgame set in a fantasy world, 1-4 players try to take over as much as possible, collecting resources, building structures, and conquering regions. The base game from Gamelyn Games comes with four factions, the 5-6 player expansion comes with four more factions. The base game is a reward for a $79 pledge while a $139 pledge gets you that and the expansion next March. Is it already funded? Each box comes with 80 miniatures: of course it’s already funded.

Are you a fan of the series of games where villagers trying to uncover werewolves in their midst? You’ll want to check out Werewolf Coins by Home Run Games, where roles are stamped onto twenty-eight (base set: more added as stretch goals) different quarter-sized coins, fitting in a synthetic suede pouch. Um. That’s pretty much it. They’ll retail for $30 for the base set, but you can get one as a reward this summer for a $22 pledge to make the product happen. Will it happen? As I type this, they’ve blown past their goal by 2500%.

Dude. Ties. With d20s on them. Do I need to write more? A $15 pledge gets you a d20 tie in red, black, or blue in July. Again, already funded, with about $2500 of the $1000 needed to make this product happen. If Kaleb Mankey gets up to $3000 in backer support, they’ll add yet another color to the line. Unsurprisingly, we’re hoping for purple.

Looking to upgrade those wooden shapes in your games? Meeple Source (a past advertiser on Purple Pawn, although that doesn’t weigh into us highlighting them this week), has painted upgraded wooden tokens and custom-shaped pieces for games such as Camel Up, Pandemic, Colt Express, Above and Below, Catan, Carcassone, and more. Reward levels start with pledges as low as $10 for a single-color set for some games with expected delivery times of October and December of this year.

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Crowdfunding Highlights

Cam Banks’ Magic Vacuum Design Studio has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Cortex Prime, the newest version of the Cortex Plus system. Cam was the lead designer and developer of the Cortex Plus system, which was used in the Smallville, Leverage, Firefly, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying games. Two different books are offered, a 152+ page roleplaying game, and a basic system reference guidebook. A $10 pledge gets you pdf versions of both books in January while physical copies begin at $25, arriving in April of 2018, with a hardcover Cortex Prime book only available during this campaign starting at $35.

Posthuman Studios has announced a second edition of Eclipse Phase, launching a funding campaign last week. The science fiction roleplaying game is set in a quite advanced future: your mind can inhabit different bodies, death is something that can be easily avoided, and need is alleviated. However, transhumanity has fled Earth following a war against artificial intelligences, dispersing thoughout the solar system (and beyond) for survival. The new edition features faster character creation and resleeving (switching from body to body), an updated ruleset for quicker and simpler play at the table, and a redesigned layout to minimize flipping through the book to find relevant rules. Already funded, a $60 pledge gets you a copy of the physical book around October; a pdf-only reward is available down at a $20 pledge.

The story of Brass is a long and troubled tale, but finally Brass is being reprinted in an updated version from Roxley Games. Brass, now titled Brass: Lancashire, is part of a funding campaign that also is producing a sequel game, Brass: Birmingham. Both games have updated artwork (the best art I’ve seen in any edition of Brass, frankly). Lancashire features updated 2- and 3-player rules to “provide an experience more consistent with [the 4-player gameplay]”. Birmingham has a dynamic board setup with new canal and rail scoring (plus an evocative nightscape map). Crazily over-funded and with several upgrade stretch goals already unlocked, you can get either one of the games for about $60 or both as a reward for backing at the $100 level. (Funding levels are in CAD.) Final versions of the games are expected in January of 2018.

Back when I was heading up a rather large monthly game day event, it seemed that every third attendee was a budding game designer. Gameplaywright and Atlas Games are creating a great product for these designers: The White Box. This project comes with components for prototyping and development, a book of essays about how to make games, and a gift certificate for The Game Crafter, a small press board game printer that is commonly used for prototyping. A $30 pledge gets you a copy of The White Box in October. Higher level pledges get you a consultation on your game design.

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Cheapass Games has just announced the Button Men will be rising from the ashes in a new Kickstarter campaign that upgrades the classic James Ernest game from pin-back buttons to deluxe cards. Set in Fight City, a fictional 1950’s gangster town located somewhere on the Gulf Coast, the new Button Men game features four warring factions, each with their own style of play. Even though Button Men is now a card game the name still works since a “button man” is a low-level gangster.

While the game is getting a facelift, the rules are pretty much the same. This means that the new card-driven game will still be compatible with your old button collection.

The new campaign should be up sometime today and will have reward levels from $15 all the way up to $485.

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An early adopter of crowdfunding, Tasty Minstrel Games is now looking to raise general operating and marketing funds through equity crowdfunding portal MicroVentures. The company says it has three games in development, 15 in production, and has sold over 400,000 units since 2010. It appears that any return on a crowdfunding investment could only come about through the sale of shares back to the company or if the company as a whole was sold at some point in the future. But equity crowdfunding is significantly more complex that your typical game project. Read those documents carefully.

Calliope Games has been doing a great job with its focus on easier-going strategy games. Next in that line is to be Dicey Peaks, currently funded and aiming for stretch-goals in its final hours on Kickstarter. I got a brief preview of Dicey Peaks at Toy Fair. It’s a push-your-luck dice game of mountain-climbing. To win, players must make their way to the summit while managing their oxygen and avoiding yeti attacks.

With Commands & Colors: Tricorne from Compass Games, designer Richard Borg takes his C&C card-driven system to the American Revolution. The game will include more than 300 wood blocks, printed dice, a mounted map-board, and separate decks of combat cards to represent the differentiated strategies of the British and Colonials.

On the verge of funding is another block war game, Combat Infantry. Columbia Games’s version of squad-level combat in World War II, this one emphasizes fog-of-war with blocks that are single-sided and rotate to record current strength. The box will include six historical scenarios from the invasion of Normandy, as well as four additional generic scenarios.

Tesla vs. Edison: Duel is an abbreviated, two-player card game that covers the same history of early electric utilities as Artana’s full Tesla vs. Edison board game. Most importantly, the company finally included Samuel Insull, my favorite personality of the period.

Kenzer and Company is on Kickstarter for the first time with Aces & Eights: Reloaded, a revised edition of its wild-west roleplaying game. Kenzer promises a second edition “chock-full of new rules, tweaks, art and other enhancements,” while maintaining the game’s unique shot-clock, a targeting overlay for fun old-west style shoot-outs.

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Phil Reed, CEO of Steve Jackson Games, published the company’s annual Report to the Stakeholders today. In it, the company revealed that they had a second year of decline from 2014’s high of $8.5 million to $6 million. The main reasons cited for the income slowdown were delays on planned releases of Car Wars Sixth Edition and the Munchkin Collectible Card Game. With the delay on Car Wars, Mr. Reed writes it was due to “an insistence on making the game exactly the way we want it. We would rather not ship the game than ship a game that doesn’t meet our standards.” They are also seeking to get the Munchkin CCG ready to print by the end of the year.

The company looks to have a difficult year ahead for it, with the Ogre Kickstarter campaign from 2012 still not completed. “We are still sinking time into the project,” he writes, even though “we’re seeing real progress; several outstanding pieces of the project are finally coming to a close. Whew.”

Issues with the GURPS line have been problematic for the company as well. Two hardcover books for the GURPS line, Discworld and Mars Attacks, were released but performed poorly at retail. “Today’s cluttered market, combined with our insistence on getting it right, made both books expensive experiments that tell us one thing: Do not produce more GURPS hardcovers until we have guaranteed that the sales are there.” Also tying up resources at the company is the Dungeon Fantasy GURPS introductory box set. Reed writes, “what would have been a profitable project is rapidly turning into a loss.”

But it isn’t all doom and gloom: Munchkin continues to do well with reprints, Guest Artist Editions, and expanding into Walgreens. In the top twenty products sold by dollar volume, all but three were Munchkin related. The company released five new games which appear to have done well at retail, and Zombie Dice had to go back to reprint due to “unexpected demand during the fourth quarter” of 2016. “A game from 2010 that keeps outselling our forecast is good and bad, but we’ll take this situation over the opposite problem any day.”

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