Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, io9's regular column all about the latest in tabletop and roleplaying game news. The holidays have come and gone, and now we’re already well into the new year. What does that bring? A bunch of new and exciting games that are on the horizon for early 2020! This includes the first card game for The Adventure Zone, a psychic warfare game based on Mind MGMT, and an expansion for Dune, the board game that took decades to get the recognition it deserved.
News and Releases
Never Bring a Knife
Take One Night Werewolf and mix it with Fiasco, and you’ve got Never Bring a Knife. In the new social deduction game from Atlas Games, out next week, players are dropped smack dab in the middle of a heist gone wrong—half of them are criminals, while the other half are undercover cops. The goal is to figure out who’s on your team without tipping the other side that you’re not on theirs, because it’s only when one player is wounded three times does that player’s team lose and the other one wins. Cards are used to wound players as well as protect them, and to gather intelligence to uncover other players’ roles. Never Bring a Knife comes out on January 17 and will cost about $18.
Fantasy Flight Interactive Shutdown
Fantasy Flight Interactive studio head Tim Gerritsen announced on LinkedIn that the Fantasy Flight Games’ development studio designed to turn some of its popular board and card games into video games would be shutting down next month. The studio opened in 2017 but the only game currently credited on the website is The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game. Gerritsen said he and the others on his team are being laid off and will be searching for other jobs.
Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun
In this dice game, the luck of the draw can easily turn into a curse. The latest strategy game from Board & Dice, Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun, takes place in ancient Egypt. Six sections, each associated with a different Egyptian god, surround a giant obelisk that controls the shift in sun and shadow. Dice will change in value depending on how the obelisk casts its shadow at any particular moment. The goal is to find a balance in your dice between Pure (light) and Tainted (shadow)—but when the game keeps changing, that might be hard to do. According to BoardGameGeek, Tekhenu is set to come out July 30.
The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance
The new card game from the MBMBAM fam (and Twogether Studios) is now available for pre-order. The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance is a DM-less cooperative game where players work together as characters from the storytelling podcast to navigate a dungeon and all of the dangers inside. According to the press release, the game “uses a modular system to dynamically generate missions,” meaning that each game promises a unique challenge and approach. The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance will be on pre-order for $35 through January 24, and it’s expected to be released in August.
Mind MGMT: The Psychic Espionage Game
One of my favorite games as of late has been Jaws, because one player takes on the role of the shark while the others work together to try and stop them. That’s the general idea behind Off the Wall Games’ Mind MGMT: The Psychic Espionage Game, based on the Dark Horse Comics series. In Mind MGMT, one player takes on the role of the leader of a compromised government agency that wants to take over the world. The others play rogue agents who’ve left the bureau and are trying to stop them from recruiting more psychics to their cause. According to Dicebreaker, Mind MGMT will be hitting Kickstarter in March.
Court of the Dead: Mourners Call
USAopoly and Sideshow Collectibles have announced that the Kickstarter edition of Court of the Dead: Mourners Call is now available to the public. Based on the Court of the Dead original figures series from Sideshow, Mourners Call has players working together to unite the Underworld. Even though cooperation is necessary to complete the game, only one player can win. So you’ll be working together but also against each other, as whoever gains the most power and influence is the one who emerges victorious. Court of the Dead: Mourners Call is now available at USAopoly for $120 (the Kickstarter campaign was $90 or more).
Tleilaxu and Ixian House Expansion (Dune)
Last year, the classic Dune board game got a long-overdue reprint, just in time to get hyped for the 2020 film release. Now, it’s getting even bigger with a new expansion that adds the Tleilaxu and Ixian Houses, neither of which are in the original book but come into play in later installments. As reported by Dicebreaker, the Dune expansion comes out May 15 and will cost about $20.
Weaver of the Cosmos (Arkham Horror: The Card Game)
Fantasy Flight Games is closing out its Dream-Eaters cycle with Weaver of the Cosmos, the latest Mythos Pack for Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Presented as Scenario 4-B of The Web of Dreams campaign, it can be played by itself or with other expansions in The Dream-Eaters cycle. Weaver of the Cosmos arrives in April 2020.
Note: Kickstarter, a huge fundraising site for tabletop gaming, has come under fire for opposing its employees’ attempts to unionize under Kickstarter United. This includes firing two staffers who were members of the organizing committee. In a statement, Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan denied the company was engaging in union-busting but confirmed that the company is refusing to voluntarily recognize Kickstarter United and called unions “inherently adversarial.”
We do not support Hasan’s comments, and GMG Union stands in support of Kickstarter United. As of now, Kickstarter United has not yet called for a boycott of the company, so io9 will continue to showcase creators as we monitor the situation.
Deep Space D-6: Armada
Deep Space D-6: Armada is a cooperative game that serves as a sequel to Deep Space D-6, a solitaire dice game where players try to survive the harshness of deep space. In Armada, players work together to complete missions, recruit heroes, fight enemies, and destroy an evil federation. It’s recommended that players be familiar with Deep Space D-6 to understand the mechanics, though it is possible (albeit a bit tricky) to learn from scratch. Deep Space D-6: Armada will be on Kickstarter through January 23. The minimum pledge for a copy is $48 and it’s expected to come out in October.
Betwixt and Between
Betwixt and Between is a strategic adventure game that combines card placement with character movement, as players take on the role of mystics who’ve found themselves in a strange land and seek to “harness its magical essence” by exploring different parts of the map and coming across different magical entities. It features clever artwork that’s inspired by European folklore. Betwixt and Between will be on Kickstarter through January 25. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $11 while a print version is $24, and it’s set to come out in October.
Dragon Themed Polyhedral Dice
Who doesn’t love some awesome dice? Black Oak has returned to Kickstarter with its dragon-themed Polyhedral 7 Dice Set, offering different styles like Maelstrom (Sea Dragon), Silversinge (Cloud Dragon), and of course the classic Red Dragon. They boast a cool design, beautiful interweaving color, and glittery dragons embossed on them. And if you want to make a statement, there’s the Epic Sea Dragon and the Epic Red Dragon D20 dice, or the foot-tall Dragon’s Lair Dice Tower. Just some really cool stuff. The Dragon Themed Polyhedral Dice will be on Kickstarter through January 12. The minimum pledge for a set is $14 and they’re set to come out in June.
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