Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, io9's regular column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. It’s Thanksgiving week for some, meaning there will be plenty of time to enjoy (or escape) the family with board game nights. We’ve got some suggestions for games to look out for, along with some exciting crowdfunding campaigns that could make unique holiday gifts.
Sadly, there aren’t a lot of good expansions coming out right now, so we don’t have any recommendations this time. But that gives us time to chat about good games for the holiday week! Be sure to leave a comment with games you’re playing with your family, and others you’d recommend. I’ve been getting back into Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game with my in-laws, as it’s easy to carry and even easier to set up.
News and Releases
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
Cephalofair Games has announced the name of its next Gloomhaven game, Jaws of the Lion. As reported by Dice Tower News, the main cooperative campaign for Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion takes place before the events of the original Gloomhaven, following a group of mercenaries known as the Jaws of the Lion tasked with investigating disappearances in the city. This version of the game is designed to be more accessible to appeal to casual players and bring new fans into the franchise. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is set to come out in fall 2020.
Game Designer Chad Jensen Passes Away
Kai Jensen announced on BoardGameGeek that her husband, game designer Chad Jensen, died this month from cancer. Chad Jensen was the person behind Dominant Species, a board game where players take the role of an animal species trying to survive in prehistoric times before the arrival of the Ice Age. He also made Combat Commander, which has been lauded for its complexity and intensity. In a statement, Kai Jensen thanked fans for their support during her husband’s treatment, which included a GoFundMe that raised over $26,000:
Chad passed this afternoon. His life was a blessing to have shared and I am deeply grateful to have been a part of it. And I am indebted to all of you who wrote, followed my rambling posts, or just threw a “Like” on FB comments from time to time. Knowing you were out there, caring and hoping along with me, made my burden lighter. Thank you all!
Red Outpost, a worker placement game from designer Raman Hryhoryk, is now available through Lifestyle Boardgames. It’s about settlers on a top secret Soviet space mission heading out to colonize a planet. Each player takes on the role of a group leader trying to keep their settlers alive and thriving on this strange, new planet. Think Fallout Shelter mixed with the alt-reality world of Apple’s For All Mankind.
The Gaming Gang recently profiled a new solitaire roleplaying game on PDF that, to be honest, I’m really tempted to try out myself. The Drifter, from Ken Kennedy, is a solo RPG that takes place in the Old West. You play an outlaw who wants to retire and live a simpler, crime-free life. But first, you need to raise $300 by any means necessary. It’s a fun premise that opens the door for a lot of exploration. Plus, I’m a sucker for any solo roleplaying game, as occasionally I like to play games by myself. It’s exhausting hosting game nights, folks! Sometimes I prefer sweatpants, a glass of red wine, and a good solo RPG. The Drifter is currently available through DriveThruRPG and costs about $10.
When wielding a fantasy war, the bodies start to pile up...and they’ve got to end up somewhere! That’s where Gloomy Graves comes in, a new game from Renegade Game Studios where players take on the role of a gravedigger in a “dark fantasy world where epic battles rage continuously.” Each player is responsible for a private crypt and the communal graveyard, as you try to keep corpses organized to ensure you don’t wind up in the ground yourself. Gloomy Graves is available to preorder for $20, and is set to come out in early 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.
Schrödinger’s Cat is a simple but interesting social deduction game. Every round, a series of players are tasked with determining whether Schrödinger’s cat inside the tin is, in fact, alive or dead. Two people in the group are given the real answer before voting, but there’s a problem: One of them always tells the truth, and the other one always lies. It’s up to players to figure out which player is being honest and answer the question that’s befuddled us for decades. Schrödinger’s Cat will be on Kickstarter through December 10. The minimum pledge for a copy is $20, and it’s set to come out June 2020.
City of Mist Starter Box
Curious to try City of Mist, the noir tabletop roleplaying game about modern-day versions of myths, legends, and fairy tales? Son of Oak Game Studio has unveiled a new Starter Box designed to introduce new players to the world of City of Mist. The Starter Box is a “learn-as-you-play” style game that gets players familiar with the world and rules of the game, with members of the All-Seeing Eye Investigations Agency looking into a mythic-powered mafia syndicate.
The set comes with five ready-to-play pre-generated character sheets, the players’ booklet, and an introductory campaign. City of Mist Starter Box will be on Kickstarter through December 19. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $15, and will be released in January 2020. The minimum pledge for a print edition is $28 and comes out in April 2020.
Necromolds: Monster Battles
Well, these take me back. Necromolds: Monster Battles is a new skirmish warfare game that takes inspiration from everything ‘90s by having the miniatures be created out of soft modeling clay, known here as “Spell Dough.” Players can then use their special Caster Rings to destroy the enemy’s monsters and smash them into the ground. Necromolds will be on Kickstarter through December 16. The minimum pledge for a single Monster Pack set is $20, with the full collection going for $99, and it’s set to come out in June 2020.
It’s an inter-dimensional, time-traveling version of Spy vs. Spy. Slip Strike is a competitive two-player card game from Junk Spirit Games where secret agents have traveled into another dimension and will use every tool at their disposal—including teleportation and time travel—to be the last one standing. It’s fast-paced, intense, and looks like a fun way to really get under someone else’s skin. Slip Strike will be on Kickstarter through December 14. The minimum pledge for a copy is $14, and it’s set to come out in August 2020.
Dawn of Madness
This game has exceeded its $100,000 fundraising goal at least eight times over, which means it’s definitely worth checking out. Set in the same universe as Deep Madness, Dawn of Madness is a story-driven cooperative horror game where one to four players play Wanderers who’ve been ripped from their own reality to find themselves “in a nightmarish Otherworld surrounded by things that, while horrifically twisted, seem strangely...familiar.” The campaign features 250,000 words of stories and scenarios, with 54 unique miniatures, promising hours of terrifying gameplay. Dawn of Madness will be on Kickstarter through December 17. The minimum pledge for a copy if $79, and is set to come out in October 2021.
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