Restoration Games Fireball Island is launching on Kickstarter April

Fireball Island New Box Cover

Can you escape the Curse of Vul-Kar?

Way back in 1986, Fireball Island was a Milton Bradley monstrosity of a game.  Lots of plastic and a marble you would send flying down the various paths to knock over pieces, it was great fun.  For about 10 minutes.  Then you kind of used it like the backdrop of an adventure set, making up your own stories as the playing pieces became more like action toys in your story.

Fireball Island Original Box Cover

Come 2016, and Restoration Games as a company is announced.  Their mission – to reinvigorate these old classics and bring them up to today’s gaming standards.  Stop Thief and Downforce have been great additions to my library, and I am thoroughly enjoying both of these classic games.

When the library was being looked at, a vote went out for the next game for Restoration Games to tackle, and a lot of very valid reasons were given as to why they couldn’t do it.  Well, as far as I remember, I can’t seem to find the original voting page where I remember seeing all this, so it could be an old man’s memory playing up.

But in 2017, Restoration Games announced with a flourish that they would indeed be tackling Fireball Island.

Well, information has been scarce with little pieces being teased out little by little.  But the wait is all but over! Come April 3rd (4th most likely QLD time) the Kickstarter for the new Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar will be live!

What does this mean?  More plastic.  More bits.  Rob Daviau promises more actual game!

Fireball Island Comparison

I will be looking for this project with interest.  My memories and feelings are mixed to say the least on the original game, mainly due to the amazing amount of fun people have poked at it over the years.  But Restoration Games has so far come through, so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

As I said at the moment information is a bit scarce, but you can check out the active Board Game Geek page here for more information.

Oh and that people making fun of the original?  Check out my favourite Board with Life Halloween video starring Fireball Island below!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Zombicide: Invader is coming to Kickstarter April 10

Zombicide Invasion Box Art

CMON has announced that Zombicide: Invader is launching on Kickstarter April 10th at 3 PM EST (6 am April 11th QLD Time).

Normally a CMON announcement has me excited, but Zombicide as a franchise has me in a strange place.  A little history to explain.

When Zombicide first came out, it wasn’t a perfect game but I had a lot of fun with it.  It was a bit of mindless fun, even if it did drag on a little bit.  There wasn’t really anything like it at the time, and the CMON miniatures were glorious.

Zombicide Season 01 Minis Mixed

When Zombicide Season 2 came announced, the idea of new Zombies and new locations had me excited and I backed it instantly.  When it arrived I started playing as soon as I could.  It was then I realised that the new Zombies just added to the maintenance and dragged out the game even more.

Zombicide Season 02 Minis Mixed

Zombicide Season 3 had me convinced these issues would be fixed.  Spoiler – they were once again made worse.  This was the game that made me all but give up on playing Zombicide, especially as new games that had learned from the games were announced and being developed.

Zombicide Season 01 Game Setup

Then Zombicide: Black Plague was announced.  I cautiously had a look, and I was happy to see it looked like CMON had scrapped the previous games completely and started in a new medieval fantasy setting.  I stopped and waited and watched previews from groups like the Dice Tower to hear what they had to say.  And I liked what I heard!  The rules had been streamlined, feedback from the players had been listened to and addressed, so I backed it with glee!

Then the game arrived.  I played it a couple of times solo, then slipped it away.  Black Plague wasn’t bad at all, it had potential, but by then other games had started to take its place in my games nights.  Games days stopped being “Can we play Zombicide?” and became me trying to convince people to give the new Zombicide a try.

Zombicide Black Plague Came Setup

Largely because of all this, when Green Horde was announced, I looked at it and just kept flicking through the internet.  I just couldn’t see anything new that either interested me or that I could use to convince others to try it with me.

So the announcement of Zombicide: Invader only has me looking at it because it seems to be the latest series reset.  Zombicide: Invader now has the franchise in space, where the zombies seem to be replaced with an alien horde.

Zombicide Black Plague Minis Zombies

There are no rules to look at right now, and I am going to guess that game previews will be coming out over the next few weeks to show off how gorgeous the game will inevitably be.

Zombicide was one of the original Kickstarter Phenomenon back in the day and a CMON mainstay, so I have no doubt it will be a successful campaign.  Personally for me though, while I will be looking at Zombicide: Invader and trying to find out more about it, I doubt there is much CMON can entice me with.

Zombicide Black Plague Minis Survivors

There are just smoother and better implementations right now for the genre as a whole.  Fantasy Flight has made great strides with Mansions of Madness Second Edition and Imperial Assault.  Gloomhaven has a much better story campaign experience and is the number one game ever according to Board Game Geek right now.  Sentient Cow Games even has a Kickstarter right now for Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce that has me 100 times more excited than this announcement.

I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t buy Zombicide – if you’re a fan you already know you are.  If you don’t have Zombicide in your collection, by all means, check it out.  The Board Game Geek page is here, and I am sure it will be updated as the campaign gets closer.

I will be posting my thoughts probably in the last week of the Zombicide: Invader Kickstarter if you would like to know my final thoughts.  But in the meantime, check out some of the already available games (including Zombicide: Black Plague) before getting caught up in the hype.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce Live Playthrough Thursday

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

What’s always better than hearing about gameplay?  SEEING IT PLAYED!

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is currently sitting about 50{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} funded in only 4 days!  I am really hoping this trend continues because it looks like a great game.

If I had known about this game last year, I am confident it would have placed in my most anticipated games of 2018!

I won’t go on about it too much here.  If you would like to know what I think of Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce, you can see my initial post here.

So what am I talking about today?  On Wednesday, March 7th from roughly 7 pm PST (or Thursday 1 pm QLD Time) Sentient Cow Games is doing a live playthrough with the Unfiltered Gamer!

This will be a great chance to see the game in action, as well as talk directly with the creators with any comments or possible questions.

The live playthrough will be on the Unfiltered Gamer Facebook Page so wander over and have a look!  Hopefully, I can tune in live and see you there with work hours and all 🙁  If you can’t see it live, check out the recording when you can I am sure it will be worth it!

If you haven’t already, check out the Kickstarter project as well as the Board Game Geek page for more information.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

AuZtralia is coming to Kickstarter soon

AuZtralia Box Art

Martin Wallace adds yet another great twist to some well-known games and themes

UPDATE: The Kickstarter is live RIGHT NOW! Check it out here!

Well, if you read my Top Ten Anticipated Games of 2018, you know that AuZtralia is something I am looking forward to. I am a Martin Wallace fan, and Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald was a great twist on the Cthulu Mythos.

The time I have been looking forward to is coming close though – AuZtralia is set to launch on Kickstarter March 6th! Of course in Australia (correctly spelled!) this will probably be on the 7th, but it’s still going to be close!

By all accounts, the game is shaping up nicely, with overall positive feedback on the games and rules I have seen being tweaked before the project release. I think this is a game I would prefer to play either solo or with four players from looking at the rules so far, but opinions offered have suggested that three may be the best multiplayer count.

If you would like to give it a try yourself, you can try AuZtralia on Tabletopia here.

AuZtralia on Tabletopia
AuZtralia on Tabletopia

AuZtralia is a semi-cooperative game with a bit of a difference to games I have played like this lately. Many semi-cooperative games I have looked at or played lately tend to have a ‘work together until only I win’ element to it. AuZtralia doesn’t do this, and in fact, uses its semi-cooperative mechanism to fix an issue that can appear in a lot of bigger euro games.

In some games, one player can pretty much tank a game for a lot of the others by ending the game early, and this is usually done in response to that player feeling they can’t win. In AuZtralia, while this is still possible for a player to do and make the game harder on the others, other players can stop this from happening by defending the weak points that can end a game instantly.

AuZtralia Components
AuZtralia Components

One thing I am enjoying about this game is it’s not a Cthulu game. I know this sounds contradictory, but at its core this is a resource management, economic and area control type game. This is important as unfortunately the attitude of “oh no another Cthulu game” will probably stop a huge chunk of it’s intended audience from looking at the game.

If you like Trains, Railroad Revolutions or another Martin Wallace game Age of Steam I hope you will give AuZtralia a good look, as I think you will have another great game to add to your collection.

I will put up a link to AuZtralia when the Kickstarter is live. For now though if you’re interested in learning more about AuZtralia, check out the Board Game Geek page here, or have a look at the final thoughts of one of my favourite pull no punches reviewers Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham in the video below.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce – a weirdly fun dungeon crawl

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

Think of any escape type exploration game you may have played.  Now pretend it was designed by the guys from MST3K and RiffTrax.

Dungeon Crawlers have been coming on strong over the last 18 months or so. It has gotten to the point that it is easy to dismiss a lot of games now as ‘Just another Dungeon Crawler’. This oversimplification is pretty unfair, as the term itself has started to become so generic that some truly unique ways of approaching these adventures are being overlooked. Sentient Cow Games has decided to tackle this in a way that tickles my fancy with the newly launched Kickstarter Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce.

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is the first in a planned trilogy of games that all seem to be carrying very similar themes, with the second game being on the Moon and the last being adventures through Time. But that is jumping ahead of myself – let’s talk about this game a little bit.

The premise itself is nice simple – players play cooperatively to escape the top-secret Dulce base (essentially Area 51) so that they can find their freedom. You explore the base and conquer level by level trying to find both the route and equipment required to complete the challenge. This is done in a 3D environment with actual levels that are explored. The vertical board seems to have plenty of room and is a great way to allow large amounts of exploration while keeping table space requirements low – always a welcome design.

While the player boards look like walls of text, the rules themselves are also simple and straightforward. While there is an experience system to allow character growth and a variety of enemies and situations you can find yourself in, there are a minimal number of mechanics and caveats to remember as almost everything is shown on the boards themselves. This means you can have new players in a game within about 5 minutes as you can expand or clarify rules as you play.

On top of streamlined rules, the humour in this game is amazing. For example, player characters range from the cryo-frozen Amelia Earhart to the mutated nuclear Smith family, all the way up to Snippy Von Bell – a two-headed cow with heavy weapons.  All of the characters seem to be parodies of sci-fi characters, some popular and some a little more niche.

Also, replayability seems to be quite high as well. There are stand-alone or campaign missions, and all tiles are double sided allowing different combinations to be used to create new bases each time. The component quality looks great even at the prototype level, and the miniatures all look amazing as we expect these days.

At its core, this is a fun dice chucking game with dungeon crawler elements and looks like it will be a fun addition as well as probably a gateway type adventure. While there are many great and deep games coming out, Sentient Cow Games seems to have gone back to what makes gaming fun in the first place – a fun experience where everyone can enjoy themselves all the way through without having to worry too much about rule interactions in situation X.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information, or the Board Game Geek page here.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders
Secret Unknown Stuff - Amelia Earhart
Secret Unknown Stuff - Adam Starblaster
Secret Unknown Stuff - The Smith Family
Secret Unknown Stuff - Dr Donna Haskin
Secret Unknown Stuff - Hattori Hanzo
Secret Unknown Stuff - Raylock G'ylax
Secret Unknown Stuff - Reb Buford
Secret Unknown Stuff - Snippy Von Bell

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles goes live Tomorrow!

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Box Art

About three or four times a year, there is a Kickstarter guaranteed to make my wallet cry.

Batman is without a doubt one of my favourite comic book characters of all time.  As I previously posted, a new game from Monolith is coming to Kickstarter in the form of Batman: Gotham City Chronicles.

Quick Update: The Kickstarter project is now live!  Check it out here.

Batman Gotham City Chronicles KS Banner

Based on the generally praised but also heavily criticised Conan board game by the same company, Batman: Gotham City Chronicles sets out to correct a lot of issues from the original Conan game in both gameplay and message.

With scenarios from classic Batman comic history such as Hush, The Killing Joke and The Court of Owls, this 2-4 player game looks to be a great game addition to Batman fans and tabletop skirmish players alike.

Being developed alongside DC comics, I am really excited about this project.  The miniatures that have been released look amazing, and over 100 have been approved by DC already.  The game presentation and components look fantastic, even the prototype cardboard player boards seem a cut above a lot of other components.

There is also all of the planned expansion/add-on content available during the campaign as well.  At the moment I know of the following:

  • Arkham Asulym / Jokerland Expansion
  • Wayne Manor / The Batcave Expansion
  • The Batmobile
  • Skirmish Mode

The Skirmish Mode expansion at the moment I am hazarding a guess will be almost an automatic must have.  Being able to play different game modes and go head to head with another player is always a nice option to have.

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Boxes
Gotham City Chronicles In all it's Kickstarter glory

But wallet-busting this will be.  At the moment the base core pledge is expected to be USD$140, with the All In amount adding all extra content to be around USD$330.  This doesn’t include shipping either.

I need to look at the additional content and shipping hard, as this could easily end up costing around AUD$700 for a game I would expect to hit the table once or twice a year.

To help spread the message as Batman: Gotham City Chronicles is exclusive to Kickstarter, Monolith has joined the crew from Beasts of War with some preview gameplay and rule overview videos!

These videos work really well to show off the game and I am all but drooling over the beautifully painted miniatures being used.

Rather than try to sum up the contents of the videos, I have linked to the videos from the Beasts of War YouTube channel below.

Check out the videos below and I will post the Kickstarter Project when it goes live!

Will you defeat the Leviathan? Naval combat micro game on Kickstarter

Leviathan Kickstarter Cover

For all of those that would like to play out Moby Dick

Tabletop wargaming is still considered a niche area in gaming.  There have been attempts to crack the mainstream gaming community lately, most notably X-Wing and Armada from Fantasy Flight Games.  These games are all large affairs with a lot of pieces though.  Leviathan from Past Go Games is trying to change that with a unique twist.

Leviathan has 18 cards, and you play within in a set flat area.  The Kickstarter project does offer a vinyl mat which is attractive, but not strictly necessary, making this a very easy to transport and set up anywhere.

It is based on the story of Moby Dick, where one player is the titular whale and its pod.  The other player plays as Ahab himself.  The goals are simple – sink the Pequod, or catch the whale.  Both sides have other ships or whales to help, as well as some tactical cards to play.

At its core, Leviathan is an asymmetrical two-player game, where the whales rely on mobility and hidden information and the ships have more actions to achieve their goal.

Leviathan is a surprisingly deep tactical game that uses its simplicity to great effect.  Movement can be complicated in these sorts of games, usually with a dedicated flexible ruler and a set of rules.  Here though you use a card, and set its base against the movement arc of your card.  Combat is straightforward, and yet surprisingly deep.  It’s hard to explain in a quick summary, but the quick play of the Print and Play had me comparing this too much bigger games that take much longer to play.

Check out the Kickstarter page here, and grab the print and play version to give it a try.

You can also check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Leviathan Kickstarter Cover
Leviathan Cards 1
Leviathan Cards 2
Leviathan Cards 3

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

All Kickstarter projects hope to be The Big Score. Will this be one?

The Big Score Box Art

The Usual Suspects?

Van Ryder Games has a bit of a soft spot for me. Recently I posted about Hostage Negotiator, a great solo experience. Detective: City of Angels is one of my most anticipated games of 2018. And now The Big Score has hit Kickstarter, and it is growing on me very strongly.

The Big Score is a game that I would say about a quarter of my game group will not like. It’s a competitive cooperative game, where you don’t discuss your moves. A lot of players in my usual group don’t like this aspect, so The Big Score is a game I instantly put in the ‘not for everyone’ group.

That said, The Big Score is almost two games in one. The first stage involves deck drafting where each player gets to form their individual crews. The crew they are after depends on the locations that they want to hit. The catch is with the number of cards you have, your crew can maybe complete one or two places with guaranteed success, or spread yourself out and be a part of a lot of heists and get an equal share of those heists.
If another player adds one card that will contribute to the success of a location, all players involved will get an even cut of the job, so if a player always completes a mission themselves, a valid tactic will be to simply add one member to their crew for maximum profits.

It’s a unique spin on risk and reward, and not discussing your strategy adds an amount of tension to this. This stage only sets up an initial bank of money (points), so it’s not essential to excel but at the same time failing a job will cost you on the get-go, so it’s an interesting dilemma.

The second phase is the Big Score itself. Here, you reach into a physical bank shaped box and try to steal as much as you can before the police turn up. You can pretend to take a token and pull out of the heist, locking your amount for the end game. You can also pull out a Cops token, too many of these and it’s game over for everyone.

There is simultaneously a lot going on and an elegant simplicity to the game. A.J. Porfirio has also added a solo campaign to the game, and I am keen to give this a try as well.

The Big Score Box Art
Can you get away with the Big Score?
The Big Score Components
The Big Score Prototype Demo
The Big Score The Bank
The Big Score The Crew

If this sounds interesting, check out the Kickstarter page here for more information.

You can also check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Until next time!

JohnHQLD

Nanty Narking – it’s old Victorian for Great Fun apparently.

Nanty Narking Annioucement Image

What do you do when you can’t release your game anymore? Retheme the living Dickens out of it that’s what!

I am a major fan of the Discworld. That’s not a secret to anyone that knows me. It may seem like Firefly and Rick and Morty have a higher place in my heart, but no. It’s only that most of my friends don’t get the Discworld references. Martin Wallace originally had a trilogy of Discworld themed games. So when I heard that the first game was being rethemed and called Nanty Narking, I was instantly intrigued.

The first was Martin Wallace Discworld game is Ankh Morpork, a game that most closely resembles Lords of Waterdeep, but doesn’t. This game is the basis of Nanty Narking, and what I am excited about.

Then came The Witches that kind of but not really resembles Pandemic. This is a fun little experience with a number of ways to play it, and well worth a look.

Then, there was to be The Gods, the final in a trilogy. Due to Sir Terry’s passing, The Gods and pretty much all Discworld related licensing was pulled. And for the general public, The Gods were never to be. A piece of me does think that Sir Terry would have smiled at that little piece of irony though.

So what do you do when you have a fun game that you can’t print anymore because of lawyers? Retheme it and place it in a semi-fictional Old Victorian era, and call it Nanty Narking!

At the moment all I honestly know of the game is that it is coming to Kickstarter this year, and has some fun looking minis already 🙂

Based on Ankh Morpork gameplay, Nanty Narking has players competing to take control of what I assume will be London. This will be done with a mixture of area management, hidden roles and varying objectives.

I am hoping Nanty Narking will streamline and balance a couple of the roles that were found in Ankh Morpork, but like Restoration Games, this seems to be being handled by a group that genuinely love the base game and want to bring it to a new group of players.

If you know anyone with a copy of Ankh Morpork, have a game or two before the Kickstarter launch. I will be reviewing Ank Morpork formally around the end of March in the meantime. The gameplay and mechanics to me stand up well, and Ank Morpork was not a game that needed the Discworld theme to hold it up, so I am very excited about Nanty Narking!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Nanty Narking Annioucement Image Large

Viceroy: Times of Darkness is on Kickstarter!

Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Art

What do you do when the nobility is getting to you? Bring in the monsters of course!

Viceroy is an interesting but fun game. Based on a Russian Collectable Card Game, the idea behind it is to build a ‘pyramid of power’. This pyramid represents your fantasy empire and earns you influence. The player with the most influence at the end of the game wins.

There are things that Viceroy missed a little with me, but I do enjoy it very much. I enjoy the series of interconnected mini-games that creates the Viceroy experience. There is deck building, resource management, pattern placement, bidding and bluffing. It’s a game that sounds like a mess, but all comes together nicely.

The first round can be a little slow as with a lot of deck builders. This changes with the first auction phase. From here, you want to be getting nobles (cards) before your opponents. You always want to be getting these cards in one way or another, because all are useful for your empire in the end. The worst situation to be in with Viceroy is not being able to build your empire.

Now on Kickstarter, Viceroy’s expansion is coming in the form of Viceroy: Times of Darkness. This follows a modular expansion system allowing you to mix and match as you wish.

The Aristocrats have little initial value. They prefer to in higher positions in your empire, and their cards reflect this. For example on their base, they contain special bonuses instead of the colours of other tiles. This means to maximise their benefits, you need to place them higher for full effect.

The Invasion module brings monsters to the table. Three times a game at set intervals, players will be attacked by creatures. These creatures are faced with bidding and bribery. You can defend against attack, or pay more for special benefits turning your foe into an ally. Failure to defend your empire brings a penalty, so you need to weigh the costs.

Finally, the Underworld brings the criminal element to light. This is represented wonderfully by building their empire below yours. Instead of gaining gems, players may choose to take an Outlaw card and a random judgement penalty. The benefits of using these outlaws can range from financial in the form of wild gems to manipulating your empire mid-game, a new feature.

Viceroy was a game a little harder to get in Australia, but you can pick up the original game as a part of this Kickstarter. If you enjoy Viceroy, this is an expansion that should have you interested. If you haven’t played Viceroy, I encourage you to find a copy and give it a game!

Check out the Kickstarter page here.

You can also check out the original Viceroy on Board Game Geek here as well as the Times of Darkness expansion here.

Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Art
Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Back
Viceroy Times of Darkness Components
Viceroy Playmat

Until next time,

JohnHQLD