Welcome to Gaming Shelf, io9's column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. Things are looking a bit sad right now with news that a couple of key gaming conventions like Gen Con have been canceled this year. Luckily, there are attempts to bring these and more cons online, and we’ve got some information on how that’s all coming together. Plus, some exciting new games and Kickstarter campaigns!
The gaming con cancellations show no sign of slowing down during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Gen Con and the Internationale Spieltage (or Essen Spiel), two of the biggest gaming conventions around, have announced they won’t be holding their cons this year. The next Gen Con will take place in August 2021, while Essen Spiel has been moved to October 2021. Gen Con said hotel reservations made through its housing portal will be canceled, but badges will be automatically rolled over to 2021 unless the holder requests a refund.
Luckily, there are efforts to recreate the gaming con experience online. In a statement, Gen Con said it will be hosting a virtual streaming event from July 30 to August 2, called Gen Con Online. In addition, a few developers are planning their own conventions and get-togethers in the coming months, including Renegade Game Studios and Portal Games. If you know of any other game studios or developers who are holding events of their own, let me know in the comments.
For those who enjoy the world of Warcraft but think it might just be too darn big, Days of Wonder has announced Small World of Warcraft. This two-to-five player game uses the mechanics of the Small World franchise in the world of Azeroth. Players compete to establish dominance throughout the region, occupying territory and seeking out powerful artifacts. Small World of Warcraft is set to come out this summer and will cost $60.
Everybody loves a lazy egg! The adorable Sanrio character Gudetama is starring in his own card game from Renegade Game Studios. Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game is a two-to-seven player card game where players try to win as many tricks as they can—without winning the final one. Players can take as many cards as they want, but if you win the final trick you’re awarded lots of points (and that’s a bad thing). Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game is expected to come out in August and will cost $15.
CMON Games has announced it’s working on a new board game set in the world of Scooby Dooby Doooooooo. Scooby-Doo: The Board Game is a cooperative tabletop miniatures game where one to five players take on the roles of Scooby Gang members, riding the Mystery Machine around town to bust villains and munch on Scooby Snacks. However, the monsters (whose moves are controlled by the game) have their own agenda and can “make a move the players never expected.” No expected release date or price has been announced yet.
Funko is expanding its reach into tabletop games with Marvel Battleworld: Mystery of the Thanostones, a micro-collectible tabletop system that combines battle games, animated specials, and those surprise toys kids can’t seem to get enough of right now. Each Battle Ball includes two Marvel characters, along with hero and battle cards, for folks like Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Valkyrie, and Groot. Funko Animation Studios is also producing a short-form animated series inspired by the game, Marvel Battleworld, which will be available on Disney XD, YouTube, and other platforms. Marvel Battleworld is set to debut at Target in June.
Note: The covid-19 pandemic and Trump’s trade war with China have impacted board game production. We strongly advise you check with crowdfunding developers about possible delays, but don’t let that dissuade you from supporting these campaigns.
Prisma Arena is a grid-based arena combat game where players take on the role of fighters being trained in the art of Prismakata, or the ability to channel your inner light. Fighters work to “bounce” their opponents out of the arena, assisted in their fight by Mo’kon, creatures who embody individual emotions. It looks like a fun battle game that’s good for kids, especially in its cute character design and how fighters use emotions to enhance their gifts. Prisma Arena will be on Kickstarter through June 2. The minimum pledge for a copy is $31 and it’s set to come out in October.
While we’re all stuck playing Dungeons & Dragons while social distancing, it’s fun to find new ways to spice up the game. The Deck of Many Animated Spells, Tarot & More is a series of adorable and innovative 5E-compatible spell decks that animate when tilted up and down. Hit Point Press previously did a campaign for cantrips and spells from levels 1-5. This one is a follow-up campaign that features higher-level spells from levels 6-9, as well as a Tarot deck. They look like a great addition to any spellcaster’s repertoire—now if only they had a Rogue deck. I always end up playing a rogue for some reason.
The Deck of Many Animated Spells, Tarot & More will be on Kickstarter through June 11. The minimum pledge for a digital copy of all the decks is $20 and will come out in July, while the minimum pledge for one or more physical decks starts at $30 and is set to ship in January 2021.
Sheol is a cooperative one-to-four player tabletop miniatures game set in a world where a mysterious force called Shadows invaded Earth, killing almost everyone and covering the planet in eternal night. Players take on the role of Scouts who help protect the planet’s final outpost called the Citadel. Everyone works together to stop the Shadows, find resources, and protect their home from enemy invasion. The game features an ongoing narrative that unfolds with each mission, helping players grow in the story and as characters. Sheol will be on Kickstarter through June 10. The minimum pledge for a copy is $98 and it’s set to come out in October 2021.
Pirates are like Hansel: They’re so hot right now. With upcoming releases like Forgotten Waters and Sea of Legends, it seems like everyone is super into pirate board games. Gamelyn Games is getting in on the trend with Tiny Epic Pirates, its latest addition to the Tiny Epic game series. Armed with small, adorable ships, each player takes on the role of a pirate captain trying to find treasure or take it from others if that’s what you prefer. It’s all about gaining a fearsome reputation on the high seas. At any cost. Tiny Epic Pirates will be on Kickstarter through June 10. The minimum pledge for a print-and-play copy is $10 and is set to come out in August, while the minimum pledge for a physical copy is $25 and will come out in March 2021.
Correction 5.27.20: An earlier version of this article reported that Renegade Game Studios had released a free print-and-play version of Gudetama. There is currently no free print-and-play version. We apologize for the error.
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