Hello everyone, Abstruse here again with your weekly update on all things tabletop. Our hobby is growing. Specifically by 15% this past fiscal year, according to the study released by ICv2. The industry tracking company also released their list of the 2012 top 10 best-selling board (Settlers of Catan), non-collectible card (Munchkin), collectible card (Magic: The Gathering), and roleplaying (Pathfinder) games at hobby and specialty shops. This doesn’t reflect mass distributors like retail stores or Amazon, though, which is why Settlers of Catan won board game instead of Scrabble or Monopoly.
Speaking of expanding, that seems exactly what Steve Jackson Games plans to do, by posting an open submission request for established game companies looking to be acquired. This is for ESTABLISHED companies, smaller design firms that have released games but want the backing and stability of a company with an established track record, not just random people who “had this, like, awesome idea for this game a few years back”. This may be a great opportunity for smaller companies looking to join the gaming big leagues, so if you’re a small developer (and I know there’s at least a couple that read this column), you might want to see what offer SJG makes.
CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY released its third expansion at PAX East this year, and it’s available for purchase now (click on the picture if you wish to purchase). If you haven’t heard of this game before, it is the single most vile, most offensive, and most fucking hilarious games you will ever play. If you and your friends have a dark sense of humor, you have to look into this game. Gameplay is incredibly simple. Each player draws ten white cards. One randomly selected player called the Card Czar draws a black card and reads it aloud. The black card will be either a question or a fill-in-the-blank statement. Each player then plays one of their white cards, which will have a word or a brief phrase to either answer the question or fill in the blank. The Card Czar then decides which of the answers was best and awards the black card to that player as one Awesome Point. You pick a new Card Czar, draw back up to ten cards, and move on. Sounds a bit boring on the face of it, doesn’t it?
Yeah… except both the questions and their potential answers are designed pretty much to prove to the world what a horrible human being you are for laughing at something so offensive and inappropriate, such as answering the question “What gets better with age?” with “An Oedipus Complex” or filling in the blank of “In the new Disney Original Movie, Hannah Montana struggles with ____ for the first time” with “Eugenetics”. And surprisingly, neither of those answers even one in my game as something even WORSE got played. Oh, and it’s released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license, meaning you can make your own cards and share them online with others (so long as you credit the original creators and do not make money from it). If this game makes you realize what a horrible human being you are, you can console yourself with the knowledge that the developers donate a portion of their proceeds from the game to charity, including an over $70,000 donation of their entire profits from their special holiday line last year to the Wikimedia Foundation.
If you don’t know who Mark Rein-Hagen is, then you obviously never went through a goth phase while still being a gamer nerd. The original brainchild behind VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE has announced his first roleplaying game in 20 years that isn’t attached to the World of Darkness. I AM ZOMBIE lets you live the life of the other side of a zombie apocalypse with the unique mechanic of using cards and chips to define your character rather than a character sheet or stats. The project will be launched with a Kickstarter on June 20.
Fantasy Flight Games announced an expansion for the DESCENT: JOURNEY INTO THE UNKNOWN board game (click on the picture if you wish to purchase) titled Labyrinth of Ruin. I still haven’t had a chance to pick this game up, but it’s been long on my list as it looks to be FFG’s answer to the old HEROQUEST board game from the early 90s. Bridging the gap between RPG and board game, the gameplay is incredibly simple and streamlined like a board game, but there is still a story and a gamemaster running the antagonists.
FFG also announced the release of two expansions for two of their most popular licensed card games, both of which will close out an arc of releases. Escape from Hoth is the final expansion in The Hoth Cycle for STAR WARS: THE CARD GAME. If Middle Earth is more your thing, The Morgul Vale is the final adventure pack in the Against the Shadows cycle for THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE CARD GAME. But why focus on endings when there are always new beginnings? A GAME OF THRONES: THE CARD GAME is getting its first chapter pack for the Kingsroad Cycle called The Banners Gather. Whether you wield a lightsaber, covet the One Ring, or subtly plan to rule Westeros; your card game needs will be met in the third quarter of this year. Click on the above pictures if you wish to purchase.
Wizards of the Coast updated their DUNGEONS & DRAGONS NEXT playtest packet yet again, this time to include a new adventure called MINES OF MADNESS. This adventure is being played in the new audio podcast and looks to be an old-school meatgrinder. Dungeonmastered by R&D designer Greg Bisland, the cast this time around are Scott Kurtz (webcomic writer/artist), Molly Lewis (musician), Kris Straub (webcomic writer/artist), and Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse (writer). If you’ve listened to the previous podcasts, you’ll note that this one moves a lot faster, getting into the action in under two minutes rather than the 30 or so minutes it took the first Acquisitions Incorporated podcast to get going. So while you get less of the personalities of the players up-front, you do dive immediately into what D&D Next looks like when you run it like an old school 1st Edition game. And yes, there are poop jokes.
The new adventure was the only update to the playtest packet from the March 21st version, so if you’re not interested in running a TOMB OF HORRORS style adventure, you don’t need to download this new version since no rules changes or updates have been made.
Plaid Hat Games decided that the best way to announce their forthcoming board game adaptation of BioShock Infinite called The Siege of Columbia was to offer a $25 discount on anyone pre-ordering the game. The game is for 2 to 4 players with a playtime of 60-90 minutes and the box will contain a whopping 52 unpainted miniatures with a retail price of $84.95 ($59.95 if you take advantage of the pre-order discount).
Paizo announced the winner of the RPG Superstar contest for 2013 on April 2. The game design contest presented the over 1000 contestants with five challenges over four months to whittle them down to the finalists. The winner was Steven Helt, whose module TEARS AT BITTER MANOR will be published in November. The other three runners-up (Matthew Duvall, Scott Fernandez, and Pedro Coelho) won assignments on Pathfinder Society Scenarios.
Did you jump in on the massive Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter late last year? Then you need to start checking your mailbox because the first batch of the Bones line of minis is shipping out. Reaper has been one of the biggest names in gaming miniatures since its inception, but the market for metal minis costing $5 a pop has slacked in recent years. I blame people like me who can’t paint a mini to save their lives, and that’s counting my Ral Partha BattleTech minis where all I had to do was hold the can of silver spray paint with primer built in steady, yet managed somehow to muck even that up. The Bones line is an attempt to bridge the gap between the expensive to buy metal miniatures you have to paint yourself and the expensive to produce plastic pre-painted miniatures like the D&D MINIATURES and PATHFINDER BATTLES lines. The minis are high detailed unpainted plastic at rock-bottom prices. At least the Kickstarter prices were rock-bottom, as there’s been no announcement about retail prices. We don’t even when they’ll be available as of yet other than “after the Kickstarter backers”, whose orders should be fulfilled by May. This leaves many gamers like myself kicking themselves for not getting into Reapermas when the getting was good.
And what better time is there to get into our Weekly Kickstarter Round-Up. First up, a few Kickstarters that closed out meeting their goals.
KOBOLDS ATE MY BABY from 9th Level Games is the new edition of the classic humorous RPG putting you in the shoes of kobolds raiding villages for food and treasure. It met its final stretch goal before closing, meaning that John Kovalic will be drawing kobolds for Freeport after all. Speaking of Freeport…
FREEPORT: CITY OF ADVENTURE by Green Ronin Press barely squeaked past its funding goal at the last minute, so we will get to see the expanded 500+ page campaign guide for Pathfinder I wrote about last week.
ACHTUNG! CTHULHU by Modiphius is a supplement set in WWII for use in Cthulhu Mythos games that is compatible with the CALL OF CTHULHU rules system as well as the generic systems of SAVAGE WORLD and FATECORE.
ZOMBICIDE: SEASON 2 by CoolMiniOrNot is a cooperative zombie survival board game. This Kickstarter hit over $2.2 million and was the biggest tabletop Kickstarter that closed this week.
Upset that you missed out on any of those? Here’s a couple that are closing out this week.
THUNDERSCAPE: THE WORLD OF ADEN is a campaign setting for Pathfinder from Shawn Carman, lead writer and designer for both the CCG and RPG for LEGEND OF FIVE RINGS. This campaign setting is based on the 1995 video game THUNDERSCAPE, which seems sort of like a quasi-steampunk/magitek setting under attack by the Horrors from EARTHDAWN. Interesting premise, and even if it’s not something you want for your game, it might be worth looking into just to steal the new classes, races, feats, etc. for your own campaign.
WHERE HAS THIS BEEN MY ENTIRE GAMING CAREER?!! Acrylic markers for area effects. I’ve been using fucking pipe cleaners to do this for years! You know how hard it is to keep pipe cleaners in shape? It took me a while to figure out the way the pricing works on this, so I figured I’d help you out:
There are two scales, 1/4” = 5ft scale for graph paper and 1” = 5ft scale for battlemats/Dungeon Tiles. There are two different sets at each scale. The Circle Set is one circle template (Fireball) each at 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, 20ft, and 30ft radius. The Full Set is one Circle Set plus Cones (dragon breath) at 15ft and 30ft, one set “straight” and one “diagonal” (pull out your Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook or Pathfinder Core Rulebook and look at the area of effect diagrams to understand what I’m saying) and Lines (two 30ft straight lines and two 30ft diagonal lines). The Full Set at 1/4” scale is $20. The Circle Set at 1” scale is $25. The Full Set at 1” scale is $50. Colors available: Clear, Blue, Purple, and Red.
If you want a little more breathing room to decide on your Kickstarter pledge, a few interesting Kickstarters opened up this week.
Ever wondered what would happen if the Mothman fought the Jersey Devil? Yes, I’ve actually had this discussion before, and LEGENDARY MONSTERS may prove me right. The game is a tactical skirmish game using four to six inch tall plastic action figures based on the creatures of modern urban legends.
I love me some 3D terrain. There’s just something about adding elevation to even the simplest Dungeon Tiles set-up that makes it so much more engrossing on the table. This LEGO-inspired terrain system shows potential, as the pieces are interchangeable and you can build the terrain you want yourself. Each platform has several holes in it which are fitted to the pegs on the tops and bottoms of the wall pieces, allowing you to layer them as you see fit.
LORDS OF GOSSAMER AND SHADOW easily met its very modest $1000 goal shortly after launch. From Rite Publishing, this system is a “spiritual successor” to AMBER DICELESS ROLEPLAYING. If you’re curious how diceless roleplaying works, there’s an 18 page preview PDF on the Kickstarter page that reads like a very early draft of the first few pages of the rulebook (yes, there’s several Page XXs in there). The original AMBER fascinated me even though I’ve never gotten a chance to play it. The rulebook is currently slated at 160 pages, with a separate 60 page sandbox adventure as the first (and so far only announced) stretch goal. They are also working towards a 52 card NPC deck.
Fire Mountain Games has put up their second PATHFINDER adventure path, THRONE OF NIGHT. It’s an Underdark-set series of six related adventures, inspired by the D series of 1st Edition D&D modules as well as the Second Darkness adventure path from Paizo. As of Thursday, this Kickstarter has hit its funding goal and is onto the stretch goals.
Tangentially gaming related, the webseries STANDARD ACTION has put their third season up on Kickstarter for funding. I’ve only just discovered this webseries, but I’m burning through all the episodes. Very reminiscent of the webcomic series ORDER OF THE STICK in tone, this comedic series is set in-game in a class based fantasy roleplaying game world that in absolutely no way whatsoever infringes on Wizards of the Coast or Paizo’s intellectual property. The production values on this series are insanely high for a non-studio production. The special effects, costumes, and make-up are amazing in a first season of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or HERCULES/XENA sort of way. While it does have its flaws, they are far outweighed by the very sharp writing. Definitely worth a couple hours of your time to look into this show if you’ve ever played a game of DUNGEUNS & DRAGONS, PATHFINDER, TUNNELS & TROLLS, HEROQUEST, or any other fantasy roleplaying game.
Thanks for reading this week! If you have any tabletop news to report you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.