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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2014 Mensa Select Winners

Mensa Select Winner SealAt the 2014 Mensa Mind Games this past weekend in Austin, Texas, 250 judges played 56 different games over 44 hours to arrive at the following five Mensa Select winners:

Gravwell—A spaceship racing game from Cryptozoic with a unique gravity-based approach to movement.

Qwixx—A fast-play, push-your-luck, dice-rolling game from Gamewright.

Pyramix—Which, also from Gamewright, is played by drawing cubes from a three-dimensional, pyramid stack.

The Duke—Catalyst Game Lab’s Chess-like title where the tile-pieces flip between two patterns of movement and capture with each turn.

Euphoria—A dystopian worker-placement game, from Stonemaier Games, in which a player’s dice-workers may desert.


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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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The Duke

The Duke board in playNew from Catalyst Game Labs is The Duke, a Chess-like abstract with a few interesting features. First of all, there are more than a dozen types of pieces in the base game, each with its own movement and capture rules. Second, when a piece is moved, it flips over, changing its rules. Third, only a few pieces start on the board. One of a player’s options each turn is to draw a random piece from a bad and enter it into the game.

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