Restoration Games announces Return to Dark Castle for 2020

Return to Dark Tower Feature

Restoration Games is turning their attention to another ‘Holy Grail’ game of the 80’s

Way back in 1981, Milton Bradley released an incredibly experimental board game – Dark Tower.

On the surface, it may look like fairly standard fantasy fare.  Search the four realms for three keys to unlock the Dark Tower.   Explore the board, fight monsters, buy items from the market – yep nothing really out of the ordinary these days.

But in 1981, the Dark Tower itself was the app that kept tabs on what was happening and directed play.  It had a small keypad that allowed players to input their moves, and the tower made various sounds or lit up various panels to show what was happening.

And the best bit (well, for some) – Orson Welles himself did the ad!

While Dark Tower was released over 30 years ago, there are still a lot of people that go to amazing lengths to have a copy in their collection – working or not!  This is very similar to another game released in the 80’s I have talked about on the site before – Fireball Island.

I have loved almost everything Restoration Games has released.  The only game I am not going out of my way to play is a game called Indulgence.  It is by all accounts a fine game, but I was never a fan on the of the DragonMaster (well, original for what I played), so the restoration did not hold a lot of interest for me.

Fireball Island New Board

That’s one game though.  Stop Thief! took another innovative design from the 80’s and made a beautiful deduction game with solo, cooperative and competitive game modes.  Downforce (which I got to play again last night actually) made racing games fun again, and I am looking forward to the new tracks and powers this year.  Even Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar lured me in, and I am looking forward to that appearing in the mail later this year!

And then during Gen Con, the following video was let lose on the world.

Restoration Games track record and nostalgia have once again combined to get me excited about an old game that by today’s standards is primitive and ‘not fun’.  And with Gloomhaven designer Isaac Childers working with Rob Daviau and the Restoration Games team, Return to Dark Tower should become something special indeed!

But there will be a wait.  A long wait.  According to statements made during Gen Con 2018, Return to Dark Tower won’t be on Kickstarter until 2020 sometime – and that’s all going well.

Until then, I will just have to track down a copy of Dinosaur Tea Party to keep my Restoration Games release anticipation in check 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Gloomhaven is coming to PC via Steam in 2019

Gloomhaven Digital Feature

It’s true – Gloomhaven is going digital

Gen Con has been going strong again.  By the time this article is up, the annual event will be wrapped up.  Wallets will think themselves safe for another week after the purchasing frenzy of new releases and wishlist additions grows ever longer.

It’s no surprise there has been new game announcements that have had me reaching for my credit card yet again.  There are a few games I have been waiting for, and a few that have come out of left field for me.  Nothing strange there, and you will be reading about some of these titles over the next few days.

Board Games in general though have almost taken a similar place in my game times as some of my Video Games.

The Witcher 3, for example, is a game I will play, and play at my pace.  This massive world will be explored fully, with every piece of lore I can find studied to the nth degree.  But right now, Octopath Traveler is being played in its place.

Nowadays I have board games that find themselves in similar positions.  Legacy of Dragonholt is a game I have been happy to put on hold, but will probably knock over for in two days.   Arkham Horror LCG is a game that is starting to get at least a fortnightly play session in, but it won’t take much to displace this.

And then there is Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven Box
It looks like a normal game box. Then you realise it's 10kg and takes up a shelf on its own.

Gloomhaven is a 10kg box of legacy adventuring goodness.  It is a game that is simply described – a dungeon crawler with legacy like elements.

And that description is somehow accurate but in every important way completely wrong.

It is a game that takes hours to punch and sort.  I ended up buying a wooden insert, making my game now closer to 14kg or now organised gaming goodness.

But it has the problem of I want to play the game and give it the attention it deserves.  Each game takes an hour or three?  Fine.  But each game is a part of an estimated 100+hour board game and from all reports a unique experience for each player.

Now there are plenty of times that such hype is given, however Gloomhaven has a few points going its way.  In its first year with a limited print run, it became the number 1 game on Board Game Geek of all time.  It has sold approximately 120,000 copies as of the time of writing, with another 60,000 being printed – and there is already concern that this third printing won’t be enough.

That’s right – a game that came to Kickstarter because its designer Isaac Childers didn’t think anyone would buy the huge expensive game that makes up Gloomhaven can’t stay on the shelves.

Well this Gen Con, Asmodee Digital has come up with an interesting halfway solution.

That’s right – Gloomhaven is going digital.

Now I know I called this a halfway solution, and for the moment I am going to stick with this.

Initially Gloomhaven Digital will be a solo dungeon crawling experience, with campaign elements and multiplayer to come.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is a quicker way to get it into gamers hands.

However, the huge box and cost of Gloomhaven is justified by the fact that a campaign that exceeds some video games is fully included in the box.

Gloomhaven Digital Gameplay 1
No table space or setup required - Gloomhaven Digital edition

With all this goodness comes the issue for players like myself where this much content makes the game difficult to just play.

Setup has been a good 20 minute affair, and then once everything is done and ready to put away up to 40 minutes to resort and put away.  The two initial games I have played were easily an hour longer hour than they had to be simply because I had to look up a bunch of rules again.

Taking Gloomhaven digital means that none of this needs to be.  No parts can be misplaced or lost, and the games bookkeeping elements are handled by the game itself.

And even better for a lot of people – no rulebook to read.  The game keeps track of all that itself, you can’t get a rule wrong that can have lasting impact throughout the campaign.

Gloomhaven Digital Gameplay 2
Playing through a dungeon will definitely move quicker though

So there is a lot to be said for the transition to digital.  This will open up the world of Gloomhaven to many new players for a much lower price point.  But Asmodee Digital have already said they are only aiming for the spirit of Gloomhaven, not a true digital conversion, so does this make Gloomhaven Digital a side game type of affair?

I have added Gloomhaven to my Steam wishlist and will be keeping an eye on it in the months to come.  But I would be keeping this as a new Gloomhaven experience until a lot more information comes out, rather than looking forward to a true Gloomhaven experience in digital form.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD