Gloomhaven Returning to Kickstarter

UPDATE: The new Gloomhaven Kickstarter will be starting on April 4th!

For those of you who missed out on the Gloomhaven Kickstarter, or were one of the people who had their pre-order for the game canceled when the company couldn’t meet demand, you’re in luck! A new Kickstarter for the base game will be launching at the end of this month for a new printing of the game with updated rules. Originally the base game was going to be an add-on of the Founders of Gloomhaven Kickstarter, but Isaac Childres has decided to split the two.

So, don’t go spending $200+ on a copy of this amazing game. You just need a bit of patience and you can snag it for retail, as there’s no doubt the project will fund.


Kickstarter Preview—Critters Below

Today Antler Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for their latest game, Critters Below. It’s a semi-coop set in a world where war has broken out and you’re an anthropomorphic critter hiding in a bunker trying to not die from various horrific means. Oh yeah, the lights in your bunker have gone out, making it pretty much impossible to see anything.

Every round you’ll have to search your pockets, shelves, and the facility as a whole for items to keep yourself fed and alive. The game uses a great mechanic where all the items, including the ones in front are you, are faced down for the entire game unless you have some light source to peek at them. This means you’ve got a to have a good memory so you can use the item you really need when you really need it. The game also handles character damage in an interesting way. There’s several different types of damage you can take in Critters Below, starvation, radiation, poison, bleeding, etc… Any of these cards placed face down in front of you are damage your critter has taken. Get 3 of kind in front of you and you’re dead. How could that happen? Throughout the game certain cards or events will have you take different types of damage into your hand. At the end of your turn another play picks a card out of your hand at random. Damage card? Place it in front of you and discard any duplicates of that type from your hand. Vigor card? Lucky! You take no damage, and all Vigor cards are in your hand are discarded. Regeneration? Even better! Get rid of a damage card from in front of you and discard any duplicate Regen cards from your hand. There are also item cards that can directly place or remove damage cards directly.

So what’s the goal of the game you ask? Surviving the war. After round, once all players have taken their turns, everyone votes to see if they should open one of 3 bunker doors. If a door is opened then a bunch of event cards from a timeline setup at the start of the game are turned over and their effects are applied to the players. If every player can keep themselves from taking 3 total damage during this phase, the war is over and all surviving critters win.

So here’s the thing. Do you want to work together to make sure everyone gets out alive, or do you want to sabotage the other players so you’re the sole survivor? Working together certainly has it’s advantages, but sole victory takes sooooo sweet.

Critters Below handles 1-4 players per set. If you buy both sets you can accommodate 8 players for an ultimate starvation-fest.

Antler Games sent me a prototype to test out  and my kids an I really enjoyed the game. A combination of fresh-feeling mechanics, tension, and the unknown make for a really exciting game where you never know if you’re going to be obliterated by bombs, tossed to he dogs by another player, or maybe, just maybe, make it out of this crazy war alive.

A single copy of the game will run you around $20 if the game funds. With the start Antler Games is off to, it seems pretty certain they will. The rewards just go up from there including a double pack of games, collector’s edition, and  a custom artwork edition. There’s also plenty of awesome stretch goals to be unlocked.

A prototype copy of Critters Below was provided free for this preview by Antler Games.

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Post-Truth Games

The current political climate in the United States hasn’t escaped the notice of game publishers. Breaking Games recently applied for a trademark on the term “fake news” with regard to board and card games. No details on game-play are available yet, just a Fake News Game website to sign up for a mailing list. Partnering with Breaking Games, however, is Cards Against Humanity, so I wouldn’t expect anything easy-going.

Another game in the making is Alternative Facts from Frog God Games.

You win [Opinion Points] by assembling sets of matching Alternative Fact cards from your hand. A matching set is called a “Trick” in most card games, but we don’t like that word. It sounds deceptive. Instead, we call a matching set of Alternative Fact cards a “Truth.” A valid Truth can be made up of 3 or more identical cards — after all, the more you repeat something, the truer it is.

This one’s about half funded on Kickstarter but…

We began accumulating awards for Alternative Facts before even writing it, and expect to generate many more awards if necessary.

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Familiar Games recently launched Mageling on Kickstarter and was kind enough to send me a prototype of the game to get a feel of what the game plays like. Familiar called the game a “dice activation” game and says it plays like a deck builder without all the shuffling and sorting of cards. This is pretty spot on.

Mageling has you trying to beat 5 different locations by rolling dice, allocating the dice to earn Power, Mana, or buy cards, and using the powers on those cards to make yourself more and more powerful. Power is the currency used to purchase cards, while Mana is a type of banked power. Managing these two resources becomes critical, especially late in the game.

As far as cards go, players may have a Grimoire of up to 8 cards in front of them. These cards are always in play and can be activated by rolling their symbol one the dice during a turn. Cards can be damaged by location text of abilities from other cards which mean they have to be healed by a die roll, thus lowering your turn’s effectiveness. There’s also Spawns that attach to you that prevent you from beating locations and can have other adverse effects through the game. These must be removed by spending 2 Power.

The best way to wrap your head around all this is to watch a playthrough here.

The first person to beat the 5th location is the winner.

I played this with my 11-year-old son, the deckbuilding fan of the family, and we both had an amazing time playing. The game initially felt slow to ramp up, but I blame that on the learning curve since we decided to read the rules as we went along. Once we got the hang of things turns were really quick. The whole experience took about 45 for the two of us and that would probably drop to 30 now that we know how to play.

Mageling is almost funded. A pledge of $10 will get you a print-and-play copy of the game once it’s funded, while a pledge of $22 will get you a print copy. In my mind, the latter is the way to go. It’s an excellent price for an excellent game.

A prototype copy of Mageling was provided free for this preview by Familiar Games

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Kickstarter Alert – Knight Light

POPsnacks, creator of the Knight Light, actually reached out to me today with some cool pics of this lamp/display shelf. After a bit of back and forth they linked me to their Kickstarter page where they’re trying raise enough money to make these available to consumers. They even provided a pre-written interview with Daniel Cytrynowicz. I mean, why not?

Can you talk a little on the process?

First we had to hand-make the acrylic trays right here in Los Angeles using a laser-cutting machine and also make a metal mock-up of the gear component, placed on the base. We then sent those parts abroad to have molds made. Finally, we received a couple samples, made a couple modifications and the base was ready for manufacturing. The shades are printed (high-res) and made in-house and in-demand in our studio/workshop in Los Angeles. The packaging is also made locally. The box turns into a waste-paper basket!

What gave you the idea of Knight Light?

We’ve been designing and manufacturing lamps for around 20 years. We always had special requests to make personalized lamps, lamps that spoke directly to customers’ tastes, lifestyles and passions. We finally decided to create a line of lamps that would make rooms brighter in more than the traditional sense. Light and dreams, style, memories, passion and smiles.

How did you make it?

We first created the shades, by printing translucent material with non-fade archival inks, using state-of-the-art printing processes. Ultimately customers will order shades printed with their own content for the ultimate shade! This particular base was created to house a small collection of treasures, in order to transport the customer to his/her favorite place, state-of-mind or hobby. Instant gratification and maximum pleasure!

What are your favorite games?

Although I do play some on-line games, I tend to favor old-fashioned board games such as Stratego, Battleships, backgammon and Chess.

Why are custom shades so cool?

Custom shades are cool because they are YOU! They are conversation pieces, they allow you to display your most prized artwork, they make you go back over and over again to your favorite vacation spot, they bring you closer to a geographically distant loved one, display your favorite game, or remind you daily of how much you love tacos. In any event, these printed shades are always communicating something…you’ll never feel alone!

The idea of the Knight Light is something I can get behind. As a lover of collectibles, miniatures, etc… this would be perfect to sit in my cubicle at work and display some cool goodies. I’m not completely sold on the shades, though. I’d have to create my own to fit whatever I was displaying and I’m not that great at that sort of thing.

Anyway, if you’re interested you can get in on the ground floor with $40 if the project gets funded.

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Margaret Weis ProductionsThis afternoon, Monica Valentinelli, the project lead for Margaret Weis Productions’ Firefly line and developer for their upcoming Cortex Plus Action corebook, announced she is no longer working for MWP. Her partner and publishing director for OneBookShelf, Matt McElroy, also announced that he will neither be developing the Cortex Plus Heroic corebook nor managing the Kickstarter campaign for the two books. “If MWP does go forward with those books they will be under different leadership,” McElroy posted on’s forums.

In March, MWP announced they would be going to Kickstarter for a campaign to produce generic Cortex Plus Action and Cortex Plus Heroic Roleplaying rulebooks. Originally described as coming during Spring of 2016, the campaign has yet to be launched. The MWP website was revamped in the past few months with a focus on novels; the announcement of the Kickstarter campaign is no longer on the website.

As to roleplaying games, only the generic Cortex Classic book and the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide are offered, although the entire Firefly line is available on DriveThruRPG. When asked in August if there were any more Firefly supplements coming from MWP, McElroy responded, “Firefly was always a limited license.”

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Table Tyrant recently launched Smiths of Winterforge on Kickstarter and has hit the ground running. Smiths has you controlling one of 6 Dwarven blacksmiths guilds vying to complete a royal contract and become the most renowned guild in the kingdom. I had a chance to play an extremely polished prototype of the game (seriously, it’s nice) to get some initial impressions for Table Tyrants campaign.

I played Smiths with my two older kids, my 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. Running through the rules there weren’t any major snags and we were able to setup and get the game going with very little fuss. There was an errata sent to us early on, so we got to play with the latest set of rules.

The Kickstarter page gives a great overview on how the game is played, so I won’t repeat that here. What I will say is that Smiths of Winterforge is well made, well designed, and it feels like a lot of care was put into the project as a whole. My kids and I had a great time playing. I will say that figuring out a good strategy takes some time, but in my opinion, that’s the mark of good design. I  already mentioned how nice the prototype was, but man, all the boards, and bits are top notch.

Smiths of Winterforge is almost fully funded with plenty of time left in the campaign. A pledge of around $37 gets you the game, which is an amazing deal for what you’re getting. There’s plenty of extras to be had at higher levels, but you won’t be disappointed if you don’t spring for them. Smiths of Winterforge is an excellent game, and it comes at an amazing price.

A preview copy of Smiths of Winterforge was provided for free by Table Tyrant.

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Kickstarter Preview—Zombies, Run!

Six to Start’s Zombies, Run! app (available on iOS and Android), is a running tracking app with a twist: there’s an ongoing narrative as you run where you’re collecting supplies for a safe haven during the zombie apocalypse. You’re jogging along, listening to the app and suddenly moans of the shambling undead! Time to sprint! The game has over one million players who have logged in over 40 million km run.

The company also loves boardgames.

Currently, on Kickstarter, Six to Start is offering a board game version of Zombies, Run! As this goes live, they’re halfway through the campaign (13 days left) and have doubled their goal. A pledge of £26 (roughly US$34) gets you a published version of the game. Six to Start has provided us with a prototype to see what the game has to offer.

Like the fitness app, Zombies, Run! The Board Game uses an app to drive the story. Hit play and listen for audio cues. Our initial (tutorial) mission has us escaping a hospital that’s overrun. While the audio plays, there are story moments: someone is about to get grabbed by a zombie, do you grab her arm and pull her along, distract the zombie, or just run? There are decisions to be made: cut through the lobby, closer to where the zombies are, or head up to the roof and down again, which would take longer? Meanwhile: “Zombies advance,” says the app. “Two zombies detected.”

There’s a track of cards, A through E, that shows how far away zombies are. When they show up, they’re at A. When they advance, they all slide over toward E. If they slide off E, they’ve bitten you. That’s bad. Bitten and you take a Death Card face down. At the end of the mission, name one of six body parts, like “head”, “left arm”, or “naughty bits”, and flip the card. It matches? You’ve been infected. In the prototype, this is just a scoring mechanism; in the final game, there’s probably more to it.


But the main thing you’ll be doing during the mission – and where the main part of the game is – is trying to escape zombies by creating Plans. You’re assembling opportunity cards like Talking, Thinking, Running, and Sneaking in order to evade a particular zombie. Most opportunity cards have one icon on the left (the type of card this is) and another on the right (the type of card that can attached to this one). Chain cards together to create a Plan. If your Plan is long enough and ends in the correct symbol, you’ve evade a zombie. For instance, Zombie Mia requires a chain of at least 4 cards that ends in a Thinking symbol. Play six cards that ends with Thinking and you remove them and Zombie Mia from the mission.

Everyone is scrambling for these cards while under pressure, and that’s where the tension of the game comes from. You’re looking over the zombies closest to catching you, trying to determine how to link three cards together to end in Sneaking while everyone is also grabbing cards, and the supply is dwindling, and ONE ZOMBIE DETECTED, and the person replenishing the cards just covered up the one card you needed with more draw cards, and maybe you should just use your cards to reload the shotgun, and ZOMBIES ADVANCING, and now you’ve got the shotgun loaded and can shoot a zombie over there or maybe you can wait for them to get closer when you can shoot more, and TWO ZOMBIES DETECTED, and oh crap that’s an incredibly tough zombie that just entered maybe you should just chain a few more cards together to take him out instead, and can we please please please just survive long enough to get to the police station?

zr-mapAnd there’s the map.

As you’re running to your destination, you might pick up a distress call asking for help. You might see a flare shooting off to the north. You might rescue a survivor that heard of a cache of supplies in town. Do you change your destination? Because you totally can. The map is 100 square kilometers, with a city, several towns, parks, woods, lakes, highways, roads, trains (including a tunnel that I’m never taking my survivors to), power lines, and even a castle. It’s a fictional slice of Britain that’s yours to run around in.

Oh, and because it’s an app, it remembers choices you’ve made: did you free that person handcuffed to a hospital bed? Did you go get those supplies? Did you find out what’s up with that flare?

Do I like this?

Oh yes.

Lots of short bits of pressure with the whole card combination planning. The puzzle of building those is simple enough to not overwhelm, but the pressure from the game makes it challenging. When I opened the package from Six to Start, there were all these envelopes, all these deck boxes to open. “Oh, it’s a legacy game,” I thought, but no – those were step-by-step instructions for the tutorial. But then there’s the map and the app that remembers what you’ve done. So yeah, it’s a legacy game.

Zombies, Run! The Board Game is a game for 2-4 players (well, you can play with one but that ramps up the difficulty) and plays in as little as 15 minutes, depending on the mission you’re taking. Recommended ages: well, there are zombies eating people and the voice actors use the s-word about as frequently as you’d hear it in a PG-13 film, so keep that in mind.


A prototype copy of Zombies, Run! The Board Game was provided free for review.


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Kickstarter Preview—Box of Holding

The Box of Holding from Aaron Cain is a hand-crafted wood carrying case for dice and miniatures—perfect as a gamer gift or self-indulgence. High-end and expensive it is but also beautiful and built with quality.

Inside the box is a caddy with slots for holding dice sets. Underneath the caddy is what Cain calls the mini chamber, a section for storing two or three miniatures protected in foam. Holding the parts together are some very strong magnets. This will definitely not come apart in your bag!

The pieces in my sample fit together perfectly. And Cain has incorporated some extra nice touches beyond the basics. Both underneath the foam in the mini chamber and above it on the underside of the caddy are layers of cushioned rubber for a further measure of protection. The box lid, lined with felt, also serves a dual purpose. Turn it over to use as a dice tray.

Is it weird to say I love how the box smells?

If I had any concern about the Box of Holding, it would actually be that the magnets are VERY strong. You’ll have to get a good grip on the box to open it or to remove the caddy.

If you’re interested in getting one of these beauties, Aaron Cain is running a Box of Holding Kickstarter project for another 22 days. Prices run $150-305, depending on the type of wood chosen.

A complimentary Box of Holding was provided for review by Aaron Cain.

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CT FIG—No Regerts

CT FIGA standout game at CT FIG, No Regerts is a game about badass tattoos, and lame tattoos. At its heart, it’s a game of hand management. You’re trying to get good tattoos on your body, which you have to pay by discarding another good tattoo while trying to use bad decision cards to play bad tattoos on other players. Bad tattoos are free to play on yourself, and sometimes can be helpful when combined with a card that lets your sever your own limb and swap it with someone else’s, or a card that turns that turd into a work of art for positive points. The game ends when a player fills all six body parts with three tattoos each. Points are added up and the player with the most wins.

I had a blast trying this game out. The art is amazing, the gameplay is fast and easy, and half the fun of the game comes from developing a sort of narrative about people’s tattoos as they’re played. David and Sam are awesome people and their passion for their game shows.

No Regerts is currently up on Kickstarter and is almost fully funded. All it takes is a $25 to make sure you get a copy of the game when it does and, if you’re feeling generous, you can pledge $3000 to make Dave get a real tattoo of your choosing.

No Regerts is a game you can feel good about funding without having Regerts of your own. No Bad Decisions here.

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