Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, io9's column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. ‘Tis the holiday season, and with it comes an exciting set of Unmatched Marvel games, a brand-new Root expansion, and some possibly good news about Gen Con 2021.
Be sure to let us know in the comments what board games and RPGs you’ll be playing during the holidays! I plan on diving back into Root (I got inspired by the expansion news), and may finally give Arkham Horror: The Card Game another go. That is, if my husband doesn’t want to play another round of Jaws—not that I’d blame him, that one is really fun. So long as I get to be the shark.
Podium Audio has teamed up with Twogether Studios to develop a micro roleplaying game set in the world of Ascend Online, an audiobook series from author Luke Chmilenko. A mix between Ready Player One and Sword Art Online, Ascend Online is about a group of friends who’ve gotten more than they bargained for in an immersive fantasy video game. The micro RPG lets players create a party and explore the series’ world, creating their own collaborative adventure along the way. It’s free and available to download here, though it’s recommended that at least some folks in the party be familiar with the lore of Ascend Online.
Many board gaming conventions had to be canceled this year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but at least one looks to be on the horizon for 2021. In a press release, Gen Con announced it has hopes to host an in-person convention on August 5-8, 2021, but that it could be subject to change. To avoid complications, Gen Con has postponed badge registration and event submission for the time being “until we have a better idea of what the year will hold.” The con hopes to have more updates in the coming months.
When the going gets tough, it’s good to have a scoundrel on your side. Final Fantasy Games has announced that Lando Calrissian is coming to Star Wars: Legion with a new expansion—which plays on Lando’s past as a gambler and smuggler, as well as his role in the Rebel Alliance. The Lando Calrissian Commander Expansion is set to come out in February 2021.
Mondo and Restoration Games have announced they’re teaming up with Marvel for a series of four new sets in Unmatched, a tabletop miniature battle series. They include: For King and Country with Black Panther, Black Widow, and Winter Soldier; Redemption Row with Luke Cage, Ghost Rider, and Moon Knight; Hell’s Kitchen with Daredevil, Elektra, and Bullseye; and Teen Spirit with Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and Cloak & Dagger. This will add over 60 new in-world combat pairings to the ever-growing Unmatched series. They’re set to start coming out in summer 2021.
The competitive board game Root might be getting its last expansion ever. As reported by Dicebreaker, game designers Cole Wehrle and Patrick Leder have shared more details on a fourth, untitled Root expansion is in the works. It’s set to add more “militant” factions, like the rat Warlord and the Badgers, as well as expanded two-player rules. While not confirmed, the developers indicated that this could be the final expansion for the successful fantasy game—but sadly, there don’t look to be any plans to release a “big box” version with all the previously released expansions included. Leder Games is expected to debut a Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming expansion in early 2021.
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.
Valda is a tabletop strategy game where players take on the role of Viking war chiefs trying to “climb the steps to divinity” by performing actions and spells designed to assert their godlike status among the people. Bannan Games’ new expansion Rise of the Giants lets players discover the power of the Giants, with new spells, abilities, and tactics to grow their villages and become divine beings—it will be on Kickstarter through January 14, 2021. The minimum pledge for a copy is $43, while newcomers can pledge $68 for a copy of the base game or $121 for the entire set. The expansion is set to come out in December 2021.
Cuticorium is a tabletop roleplaying game where players take on the role of bugs living in a strange insect city called the Cuticorium. Akin to the city in A Bug’s Life, this city is a place where predators, prey, and decomposers can all live together in supposed harmony—but it’s only as successful as the creatures who live inside it, as they choose to spin “webs” of friendship, lies, or destruction. Cuticorium will be on Kickstarter through January 10, 2021. The minimum pledge for a PDF copy is $10 and is set to come out in April 2021, while a physical copy costs $18 and is expected to come out in May 2021.
Vindication is a strategy-based board game where 2-5 players “seek vindication after a life of greed and treachery” by regaining their lost honor through influence, companions, relics, and collecting adorable exotic pets. Orange Nebula is crowdfunding a re-release of the game alongside its Chronicles expansion, which has already more than quadrupled its fundraising goal. Vindication will be on Kickstarter through December 30. The minimum pledge for a copy of the expansion is $29 while the base game is $89, and both are set to come out in January 2022.
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