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Found 12 results

  1. Konami announced that the company had teamed up with IDW Games to create a tabletop game based on their popular Metal Gear Solid franchise. IDW has made a name for itself in bringing licensed properties to the table with projects such as a Planet of the Apes board game, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover with Munchkin, and even an adaptation of the classic Centipede arcade title. Metal Gear Solid will follow in the footsteps of those classics and become Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game. Metal Gear Solid stood as one of Konami's flagship titles for well over a decade under the direction of game designer Hideo Kojima. Unfortunately, Kojima left Konami back in 2015 following the tumultuous development process of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This left Konami in a bit of a pickle regarding the series he had personally overseen and imbued with his own quirky personality. His absence was later felt in Metal Gear Survive's lackluster release earlier this year. IDW Games revealed today that the tabletop has been designed by Emerson Matsuuchi which should be good news for fans of the Metal Gear Solid series. The game follows the story line of the first Metal Gear Solid game with each player taking the role of pivotal characters like Dr. Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, Meryl Silverburgh, Gray Fox, and, of course, Solid Snake himself. Each character possesses a unique skill that players will have to exploit to complete their objectives across each map. Missions can be completed in a variety of different ways as players contend with the open-ended gameplay and responsive AI of the enemies. IDW says that no two games will play out the same way. Matsuuchi is known for his work on Specter Ops, a well received stealth-action board game - very similar to Metal Gear Solid's core conceit. It also helps that Matsuuchi has been a longtime fan of the Metal Gear franchise. “Ever since playing the first Metal Gear Solid, it has forever altered the way I view games. The story it told was so memorable and the gameplay experience so rich that it has shaped my expectation of games as both a designer and gamer," said Matsuuchi in the initial announcement from IDW. "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the table has been an honor and dream come true. I’m excited to be able to capture the tactical stealth action that is the hallmark of the franchise as well as create a new experience and story for the Snake fans. Age hasn’t slowed him down one bit.” This step into board games isn't as strange as it might initially appear. IDW has worked with Konami in the past to create a line of Silent Hill comics that ran from 2004 until 2008. Those interested in seeing Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game in action can expect it to make its first hands-on media appearances at E3 in 2019. There's no word yet on when fans might expect the tabletop to release, but there's a good chance we could see it either at the tail end of 2019 or early 2020. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Konami announced that the company had teamed up with IDW Games to create a tabletop game based on their popular Metal Gear Solid franchise. IDW has made a name for itself in bringing licensed properties to the table with projects such as a Planet of the Apes board game, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover with Munchkin, and even an adaptation of the classic Centipede arcade title. Metal Gear Solid will follow in the footsteps of those classics and become Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game. Metal Gear Solid stood as one of Konami's flagship titles for well over a decade under the direction of game designer Hideo Kojima. Unfortunately, Kojima left Konami back in 2015 following the tumultuous development process of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This left Konami in a bit of a pickle regarding the series he had personally overseen and imbued with his own quirky personality. His absence was later felt in Metal Gear Survive's lackluster release earlier this year. IDW Games revealed today that the tabletop has been designed by Emerson Matsuuchi which should be good news for fans of the Metal Gear Solid series. The game follows the story line of the first Metal Gear Solid game with each player taking the role of pivotal characters like Dr. Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, Meryl Silverburgh, Gray Fox, and, of course, Solid Snake himself. Each character possesses a unique skill that players will have to exploit to complete their objectives across each map. Missions can be completed in a variety of different ways as players contend with the open-ended gameplay and responsive AI of the enemies. IDW says that no two games will play out the same way. Matsuuchi is known for his work on Specter Ops, a well received stealth-action board game - very similar to Metal Gear Solid's core conceit. It also helps that Matsuuchi has been a longtime fan of the Metal Gear franchise. “Ever since playing the first Metal Gear Solid, it has forever altered the way I view games. The story it told was so memorable and the gameplay experience so rich that it has shaped my expectation of games as both a designer and gamer," said Matsuuchi in the initial announcement from IDW. "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the table has been an honor and dream come true. I’m excited to be able to capture the tactical stealth action that is the hallmark of the franchise as well as create a new experience and story for the Snake fans. Age hasn’t slowed him down one bit.” This step into board games isn't as strange as it might initially appear. IDW has worked with Konami in the past to create a line of Silent Hill comics that ran from 2004 until 2008. Those interested in seeing Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game in action can expect it to make its first hands-on media appearances at E3 in 2019. There's no word yet on when fans might expect the tabletop to release, but there's a good chance we could see it either at the tail end of 2019 or early 2020. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. An isle shrouded in mystery and fire, a fearsome idol guarding a famous jewel, and a team of bumbling, backstabbing treasure hunters all converge upon a 3D game board. Fireball Island released to the world in the mid 1980s and has become something of a cult tabletop game. In 1986 Milton Bradley published a game designed around the idea of dimensionality. The prolific game publisher had been releasing a large number of different game concepts over the several previous years. They were attempting to enter the video game market through the acquisition of Good Consumer Electronic following the success of their electronic game, Simon. However, board games remained their major calling as they attempted to innovate the established gaming medium. To that end, designers Bruce Lund and Chuck Kennedy created a three dimensional map, one that modeled the rough topography of an island in the middle of an ocean. This was the beginning of Fireball Island. The simple addition of verticality captured the public's attention. Over 30 years later, people still remember the rage of Vul-Kar and the backstabbery of their companions. Fireball Island presents a very stylish aesthetic. Rolling hills and roaring river canyons, all lorded over by bubbling flows of magma that constantly present a threat of fireballs to the players. Atop the island's central peak stands a massive idol known as Vul-Kar. The idol houses a spirit that players can harness to set back their competitors with a well-placed stream of fire. Vul-Kar also guards an incredible jewel coveted by the rogue adventurers who have journeyed to the isle. As far as board games go, Fireball Island doesn't make any huge leaps in terms of gameplay. Players roll a six-sided die to move around the trails of the island and are able to move both forwards and backwards to suit their purpose. Each player can also play cards earned by landing on darkened parts of the trail. These cards possess powerful abilities that can tip the tide of the game at any given moment - and they can be played at any point on anyone else's turn. This leads to a real back and forth of players clawing their way to dominance over one another with dastardly maneuvers. Players jostle back and forth to be the first player to reach the docks on the other side of the island - with Vul-Kar's jewel in hand. Each time a player passes someone holding the jewel, they can steal the gem for their own. This can be prevented by a handful of cards or the clever use of fireballs. Every time a player rolls a one on the die or plays a fireball card, a fireball can be aimed toward someone on the island. These red marbles are placed at strategic points across the island's map and follow determined routes with the exception of Vul-Kar's fireball, which can be aimed along multiple paths. Being hit by a fireball brings a player back to the nearest smoldering pit down the path and also removes the jewel from their possession. The movement of the fireballs down the track represents the real reason for the 3D map - allowing gravity to operate on the fireballs to set them rolling down the various paths of the island. One of the things that surprised me when I revisited the treacherous Fireball Island was how simple it seemed. I remembered it as this larger than life game; a complex ecosystem of betrayal and fire. Of course, as soon as I opened the box, I realized the nostalgia I had for the game had altered my memory of it. The set up was far easier than I remembered or what the uninitiated might assume from the bulky box. A handful of tokens, two plastic bridges, the idol, a few marbles, a deck of cards, and a pair of dice make for a set up that only takes a couple minutes. Fireball Island itself remains fun, but it's one of those games that relies on the other players around the table. A good group of people can lead to a riotous time of backstabbing fun with the simple rules and unique setting. Now, it might seem strange that I've been talking about a game I enjoyed in my childhood that many might not even remember. However, I discovered that a small, but interested community has grown around the shared nostalgia of Fireball Island. After it's retail run, Fireball Island fell out of print, which has led to it becoming a sought after title. Obtaining a copy on eBay can cost several hundred dollars. However, the enthusiasm of the community seems to have begun a resurrection of sorts for Fireball Island. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of a recently rolled fireball, there are several efforts to revive the spirit of Vul-Kar. Justin Jacobson and Rob Daviau (known for his work on Pandemic Legacy: Season One) founded Restoration Games with the express mission of restoring old games to give them a second chance at success. To date, they've revived Stop Thief!, Down Force, and Indulgence. Now they are in the process of bringing Fireball Island to a new generation. However, Restoration Games doesn't simply repackage and release the original games completely intact; part of their founding mission is to modernize those forgotten gems while also addressing some of the deep flaws that might have prevented them from catching on with a wide audience. To that end, their vision of Fireball Island, fully titled Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar, imagines itself as a sequel taking place thirty years after the events of the first game. Players must contend with a dark curse while attempting to accomplish a number of different adventurous tasks. New dangers await even the most experienced Fireball Island players. The restored board game will be funded by an upcoming Kickstarter campaign that has yet to be announced. Interested parties can sign up for Restoration Games' mailing list to keep an eye on when the crowdfunding campaign launches. However, Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar isn't the only spiritual successor to the original Fireball Island in the works. A second project titled Yeti Mountain made its debut on Kickstarter back in March of this year. Yeti Mountain takes the same concept of Fireball Island and places the game world in the icy Himalayas with one angry cryptid. The crowdfunding attempt fell short of its target goal of $28,500, but the creators, Elementary Industries, are gearing up to relaunch the Kickstarter in the near future with new art and possibly a more refined prototype board. It feels a bit surreal to see so much enthusiasm for a game that I had always felt alone in enjoying. I've never met anyone else in person who remembers Fireball Island. That being said - if you find an old copy of this game sitting around at a garage sale or a thrift store or hiding in an attic somewhere, grab a few friends and get ready to shout at one another as you pass around a coveted plastic gem. I promise it will be a good time. I hope to see some revamped versions of Fireball Island or a spiritual successor coming to a game store close to me in the near future. To close out - look at this adorable snake painted on the mountainside of Fireball Island.
  4. An isle shrouded in mystery and fire, a fearsome idol guarding a famous jewel, and a team of bumbling, backstabbing treasure hunters all converge upon a 3D game board. Fireball Island released to the world in the mid 1980s and has become something of a cult tabletop game. In 1986 Milton Bradley published a game designed around the idea of dimensionality. The prolific game publisher had been releasing a large number of different game concepts over the several previous years. They were attempting to enter the video game market through the acquisition of Good Consumer Electronic following the success of their electronic game, Simon. However, board games remained their major calling as they attempted to innovate the established gaming medium. To that end, designers Bruce Lund and Chuck Kennedy created a three dimensional map, one that modeled the rough topography of an island in the middle of an ocean. This was the beginning of Fireball Island. The simple addition of verticality captured the public's attention. Over 30 years later, people still remember the rage of Vul-Kar and the backstabbery of their companions. Fireball Island presents a very stylish aesthetic. Rolling hills and roaring river canyons, all lorded over by bubbling flows of magma that constantly present a threat of fireballs to the players. Atop the island's central peak stands a massive idol known as Vul-Kar. The idol houses a spirit that players can harness to set back their competitors with a well-placed stream of fire. Vul-Kar also guards an incredible jewel coveted by the rogue adventurers who have journeyed to the isle. As far as board games go, Fireball Island doesn't make any huge leaps in terms of gameplay. Players roll a six-sided die to move around the trails of the island and are able to move both forwards and backwards to suit their purpose. Each player can also play cards earned by landing on darkened parts of the trail. These cards possess powerful abilities that can tip the tide of the game at any given moment - and they can be played at any point on anyone else's turn. This leads to a real back and forth of players clawing their way to dominance over one another with dastardly maneuvers. Players jostle back and forth to be the first player to reach the docks on the other side of the island - with Vul-Kar's jewel in hand. Each time a player passes someone holding the jewel, they can steal the gem for their own. This can be prevented by a handful of cards or the clever use of fireballs. Every time a player rolls a one on the die or plays a fireball card, a fireball can be aimed toward someone on the island. These red marbles are placed at strategic points across the island's map and follow determined routes with the exception of Vul-Kar's fireball, which can be aimed along multiple paths. Being hit by a fireball brings a player back to the nearest smoldering pit down the path and also removes the jewel from their possession. The movement of the fireballs down the track represents the real reason for the 3D map - allowing gravity to operate on the fireballs to set them rolling down the various paths of the island. One of the things that surprised me when I revisited the treacherous Fireball Island was how simple it seemed. I remembered it as this larger than life game; a complex ecosystem of betrayal and fire. Of course, as soon as I opened the box, I realized the nostalgia I had for the game had altered my memory of it. The set up was far easier than I remembered or what the uninitiated might assume from the bulky box. A handful of tokens, two plastic bridges, the idol, a few marbles, a deck of cards, and a pair of dice make for a set up that only takes a couple minutes. Fireball Island itself remains fun, but it's one of those games that relies on the other players around the table. A good group of people can lead to a riotous time of backstabbing fun with the simple rules and unique setting. Now, it might seem strange that I've been talking about a game I enjoyed in my childhood that many might not even remember. However, I discovered that a small, but interested community has grown around the shared nostalgia of Fireball Island. After it's retail run, Fireball Island fell out of print, which has led to it becoming a sought after title. Obtaining a copy on eBay can cost several hundred dollars. However, the enthusiasm of the community seems to have begun a resurrection of sorts for Fireball Island. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of a recently rolled fireball, there are several efforts to revive the spirit of Vul-Kar. Justin Jacobson and Rob Daviau (known for his work on Pandemic Legacy: Season One) founded Restoration Games with the express mission of restoring old games to give them a second chance at success. To date, they've revived Stop Thief!, Down Force, and Indulgence. Now they are in the process of bringing Fireball Island to a new generation. However, Restoration Games doesn't simply repackage and release the original games completely intact; part of their founding mission is to modernize those forgotten gems while also addressing some of the deep flaws that might have prevented them from catching on with a wide audience. To that end, their vision of Fireball Island, fully titled Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar, imagines itself as a sequel taking place thirty years after the events of the first game. Players must contend with a dark curse while attempting to accomplish a number of different adventurous tasks. New dangers await even the most experienced Fireball Island players. The restored board game will be funded by an upcoming Kickstarter campaign that has yet to be announced. Interested parties can sign up for Restoration Games' mailing list to keep an eye on when the crowdfunding campaign launches. However, Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar isn't the only spiritual successor to the original Fireball Island in the works. A second project titled Yeti Mountain made its debut on Kickstarter back in March of this year. Yeti Mountain takes the same concept of Fireball Island and places the game world in the icy Himalayas with one angry cryptid. The crowdfunding attempt fell short of its target goal of $28,500, but the creators, Elementary Industries, are gearing up to relaunch the Kickstarter in the near future with new art and possibly a more refined prototype board. It feels a bit surreal to see so much enthusiasm for a game that I had always felt alone in enjoying. I've never met anyone else in person who remembers Fireball Island. That being said - if you find an old copy of this game sitting around at a garage sale or a thrift store or hiding in an attic somewhere, grab a few friends and get ready to shout at one another as you pass around a coveted plastic gem. I promise it will be a good time. I hope to see some revamped versions of Fireball Island or a spiritual successor coming to a game store close to me in the near future. To close out - look at this adorable snake painted on the mountainside of Fireball Island. View full article
  5. Tower Defense. The very words evoke some deep-seated emotions in countless gamers. For fans of the genre, it’s always a joy taking your time to determine where to lay your chess pieces for optimal damage, cerebral, and calm in the same breath. For many others, it’s a nerve-wracking experience best left to the cluttered battleground of mobile gaming. While the genre is still largely dominated by mobile giants like Kingdom Rush, the occasional console and PC variant (Orcs Must Die! and Defense Grid) have come along to throw new blood into the mix in recent years. Oddly enough, however, the world of board gaming has been suspiciously devoid of standout tower defense experiences. Enter Defense Grid: The Board Game. After a warmly received sequel (the original’s development is a long and sordid tale) and even a virtual reality edition for Oculus Rift and Gear VR, developer Hidden Path was approached by the two-man team at Forged by Geeks with the idea to turn the franchise into a co-op tabletop game. “I’ve been addicted to tower defense [since Defense Grid],” says board game developer and Forged by Geeks co-founder Anthony Hanses. “I cannot get enough of tower defense games. If you name it, I’ve probably played it, whether it’s on mobile, console, Steam, whatever. On top of that, I’m a pretty heavy board game enthusiast. One of the frustrations I’ve had being a tower defense enthusiast has been that there just really isn’t an amazing tower defense board game. There’s been a few attempts. One I’ll give a lot of credit is “Castle Panic.” But to me, that’s not tower defense. It doesn’t have lanes. You’re not constructing the classic towers people are familiar with. I like having that feeling, and that’s why we said this is something we want to do.” (Note: Game assets shown are not final. Prototype materials were used for demo purposes) But adopting a well-known franchise for tabletop isn’t an easy process, from a development or legal standpoint. It makes sense that a huge fan of tower defense like Hanses would channel his own sense of determination to get the product off the ground, and convince Hidden Path to endorse it and provide support. Having grown up on the dangerous streets of south Chicago, worked as a firefighter, and worked at Microsoft, Hanses is no stranger to determination. “[Those careers were] a great growing experience, it was about about saving up money, and then finally being able to say ‘hey, let’s try this out,’” Hanses says. “I was advised by a bunch of people to make a simple card game – but ultimately, giving back to the gaming community is taking what I’ve learned, my passion, and doing something no one else could do. That’s where tower defense came in. Even if I never make another board game again after this, I’ll have possibly given something back to the community I love.” While certainly not the first tower defense board game of its kind (Orcs Must Die’s similarly Kickstarted tabletop edition is also still on its way to a public release), Defense Grid’s incarnation might be the first to really nail the various aspects of the genre that make it so appealing, particularly with its own unique brand of gameplay. I got the chance to experience it firsthand at PAX West 2016 in Seattle. Like most tower defense experiences, Defense Grid: The Board Game is played against ever growing waves of various enemy types. “Walkers” serve as your generic meat shield grunts, while tougher types like “Bulwarks” and “Swarmers” employ shields and armor to detract from your weapons’ attack points. Enemies walk in a single line from one end of the grid (made of flippable tiles for maximum replayability) to the other, where your power core awaits. If the aliens manage to walk back to the end of the map with all your cores, that’s game over. The only thing standing between them is a wealth of towers, like the all-purpose machine gun, area-of-effect Inferno, a concentrated laser beam, or a hard-hitting cannon, among plenty others. Strictly a co-op experience, up to four players must manage individual card decks to determine their available strategies. Cards are divided up into three basic categories. Attack commands for towers that are exhausted for the entire turn once used, support cards like “shrapnel bullets” that boost or alter attacks, and special cards that allow you to upgrade towers, temporarily boost their damage, or activate any tower you don’t already have a card for. Playing with friends, it becomes integral to coordinate and combine your strategies, as each player is only allowed to have four cards in their hand. When a card appears to be useless during the current wave, it can either be saved for the next (meaning you draw only enough cards to get back to four) or it can be scrapped for extra points to build and upgrade additional towers. Make no mistake. Despite the hand-holding a more seasoned friend might give you during gameplay, careful strategy is an omnipresent force in Defense Grid. Enemies move shockingly fast down the path towards their objective, making smart tower placement crucial to exploiting choke points and line of sight. Towers can’t shoot through one another, so spreading them out between various angles quickly became our favored strategy. While Walkers proved to be of little issue, the stouter Bulwarks, with their dense shields and armor, were particularly difficult to dispatch of. In true tower defense fashion, you’re at least guaranteed that your attack will strike its target. Unfortunately, an entire shot will need to be wasted to destroy one layer of the Bulwark’s shielding before any damage can be applied to its bug-like exterior. Thankfully, each player also has one special ability that can only be activated once per game. Did you guess giant laser? Because it was a giant bloody laser, that thankfully wiped an entire hex of aliens from the board. Like most enthusiast board games, the rules can be a bit tricky to wrap your head around at first. You’re managing both the mathematics of an enemy force’s health and your meager resources over a fairly lengthy playtime. For someone who nearly flunked high school math, it’s certainly a daunting idea, but as Hanses led me through the process, the game started to take on that pick-up-and-play nature that some of the best games have. I began to worry less about how many cards were left in my hand and devoted my attention to acquiring resource points. I also worried less about the armored Bulwarks, knowing they had to walk through my gauntlet twice. There’s nothing quite like seeing a bit of your future self in whichever player is currently holding a newbie’s hand through the process, invested and excited all around for more. Thankfully, if you’re the kind of board gamer that really enjoys investing in a particular playstyle or alternate game types, Defense Grid features multiple missions, with increasingly tougher enemies and more varied weaponry, all on differently choreographed grid maps. This means replayability not only comes from a normal game’s element of chance, but also as a built in feature to those who invest more time into the game. On top of that, players can individually level up their player character to increase their stats for the next game. For Hidden Path’s part, the support they’ve provided Hanses and fellow Forged by Geeks co-founder Rico Hall has been invaluable. After successful playtesting sessions with the team, the company provided the actual in-game models so Forged by Geeks could produce incredibly accurate miniatures of weapon tower and aliens. An entirely new alien will also make its debut in the board game. Perhaps most surprisingly, Forged by Geeks is taking their time producing a near-final game before debuting it on Kickstarter. Whereas many board (and video) games often showcase a minor amount of concept art and pre-alpha footage during their campaigns, Forged by Geeks want to leave players with a sense that they’re approaching this as true fans of the genre and franchise, rather than looking to make a quick buck. The funds acquired through Kickstarter will go towards production of the physical product, not the initial design and development costs that most Kickstarters ask for. “Ultimately, we decided that, being a first time Kickstarter studio, there’s a bunch of other risks,” Hanses said. “We haven’t proven our ability to get a game into consumers’ hands. With promising 23 unique miniature designs, 55 to 60 in the box, it’s a high risk to swallow. We’ve seen lots of Kickstarters fail that are now promising minis that just have renders. For us, we needed to get everything sculpted. We’re going to have the game done. When we go to Kickstarter, the rest of the game will just be done.” For Hanses and his colleague, whatever support they receive from genre fans could make or break their careers. Their minimum goal sits at $35,000 to cover production costs, while a stretch goal of $150,000 would cover the previous few years of work put into the game. An even higher stretch goal of $250,000 would allow Hanses and Hall to go into game design full time. Even if they just manage to break even, Hanses will leave happy. The Defense Grid: The Board Game Kickstarter is scheduled to launch on January 17, 2017.
  6. Tower Defense. The very words evoke some deep-seated emotions in countless gamers. For fans of the genre, it’s always a joy taking your time to determine where to lay your chess pieces for optimal damage, cerebral, and calm in the same breath. For many others, it’s a nerve-wracking experience best left to the cluttered battleground of mobile gaming. While the genre is still largely dominated by mobile giants like Kingdom Rush, the occasional console and PC variant (Orcs Must Die! and Defense Grid) have come along to throw new blood into the mix in recent years. Oddly enough, however, the world of board gaming has been suspiciously devoid of standout tower defense experiences. Enter Defense Grid: The Board Game. After a warmly received sequel (the original’s development is a long and sordid tale) and even a virtual reality edition for Oculus Rift and Gear VR, developer Hidden Path was approached by the two-man team at Forged by Geeks with the idea to turn the franchise into a co-op tabletop game. “I’ve been addicted to tower defense [since Defense Grid],” says board game developer and Forged by Geeks co-founder Anthony Hanses. “I cannot get enough of tower defense games. If you name it, I’ve probably played it, whether it’s on mobile, console, Steam, whatever. On top of that, I’m a pretty heavy board game enthusiast. One of the frustrations I’ve had being a tower defense enthusiast has been that there just really isn’t an amazing tower defense board game. There’s been a few attempts. One I’ll give a lot of credit is “Castle Panic.” But to me, that’s not tower defense. It doesn’t have lanes. You’re not constructing the classic towers people are familiar with. I like having that feeling, and that’s why we said this is something we want to do.” (Note: Game assets shown are not final. Prototype materials were used for demo purposes) But adopting a well-known franchise for tabletop isn’t an easy process, from a development or legal standpoint. It makes sense that a huge fan of tower defense like Hanses would channel his own sense of determination to get the product off the ground, and convince Hidden Path to endorse it and provide support. Having grown up on the dangerous streets of south Chicago, worked as a firefighter, and worked at Microsoft, Hanses is no stranger to determination. “[Those careers were] a great growing experience, it was about about saving up money, and then finally being able to say ‘hey, let’s try this out,’” Hanses says. “I was advised by a bunch of people to make a simple card game – but ultimately, giving back to the gaming community is taking what I’ve learned, my passion, and doing something no one else could do. That’s where tower defense came in. Even if I never make another board game again after this, I’ll have possibly given something back to the community I love.” While certainly not the first tower defense board game of its kind (Orcs Must Die’s similarly Kickstarted tabletop edition is also still on its way to a public release), Defense Grid’s incarnation might be the first to really nail the various aspects of the genre that make it so appealing, particularly with its own unique brand of gameplay. I got the chance to experience it firsthand at PAX West 2016 in Seattle. Like most tower defense experiences, Defense Grid: The Board Game is played against ever growing waves of various enemy types. “Walkers” serve as your generic meat shield grunts, while tougher types like “Bulwarks” and “Swarmers” employ shields and armor to detract from your weapons’ attack points. Enemies walk in a single line from one end of the grid (made of flippable tiles for maximum replayability) to the other, where your power core awaits. If the aliens manage to walk back to the end of the map with all your cores, that’s game over. The only thing standing between them is a wealth of towers, like the all-purpose machine gun, area-of-effect Inferno, a concentrated laser beam, or a hard-hitting cannon, among plenty others. Strictly a co-op experience, up to four players must manage individual card decks to determine their available strategies. Cards are divided up into three basic categories. Attack commands for towers that are exhausted for the entire turn once used, support cards like “shrapnel bullets” that boost or alter attacks, and special cards that allow you to upgrade towers, temporarily boost their damage, or activate any tower you don’t already have a card for. Playing with friends, it becomes integral to coordinate and combine your strategies, as each player is only allowed to have four cards in their hand. When a card appears to be useless during the current wave, it can either be saved for the next (meaning you draw only enough cards to get back to four) or it can be scrapped for extra points to build and upgrade additional towers. Make no mistake. Despite the hand-holding a more seasoned friend might give you during gameplay, careful strategy is an omnipresent force in Defense Grid. Enemies move shockingly fast down the path towards their objective, making smart tower placement crucial to exploiting choke points and line of sight. Towers can’t shoot through one another, so spreading them out between various angles quickly became our favored strategy. While Walkers proved to be of little issue, the stouter Bulwarks, with their dense shields and armor, were particularly difficult to dispatch of. In true tower defense fashion, you’re at least guaranteed that your attack will strike its target. Unfortunately, an entire shot will need to be wasted to destroy one layer of the Bulwark’s shielding before any damage can be applied to its bug-like exterior. Thankfully, each player also has one special ability that can only be activated once per game. Did you guess giant laser? Because it was a giant bloody laser, that thankfully wiped an entire hex of aliens from the board. Like most enthusiast board games, the rules can be a bit tricky to wrap your head around at first. You’re managing both the mathematics of an enemy force’s health and your meager resources over a fairly lengthy playtime. For someone who nearly flunked high school math, it’s certainly a daunting idea, but as Hanses led me through the process, the game started to take on that pick-up-and-play nature that some of the best games have. I began to worry less about how many cards were left in my hand and devoted my attention to acquiring resource points. I also worried less about the armored Bulwarks, knowing they had to walk through my gauntlet twice. There’s nothing quite like seeing a bit of your future self in whichever player is currently holding a newbie’s hand through the process, invested and excited all around for more. Thankfully, if you’re the kind of board gamer that really enjoys investing in a particular playstyle or alternate game types, Defense Grid features multiple missions, with increasingly tougher enemies and more varied weaponry, all on differently choreographed grid maps. This means replayability not only comes from a normal game’s element of chance, but also as a built in feature to those who invest more time into the game. On top of that, players can individually level up their player character to increase their stats for the next game. For Hidden Path’s part, the support they’ve provided Hanses and fellow Forged by Geeks co-founder Rico Hall has been invaluable. After successful playtesting sessions with the team, the company provided the actual in-game models so Forged by Geeks could produce incredibly accurate miniatures of weapon tower and aliens. An entirely new alien will also make its debut in the board game. Perhaps most surprisingly, Forged by Geeks is taking their time producing a near-final game before debuting it on Kickstarter. Whereas many board (and video) games often showcase a minor amount of concept art and pre-alpha footage during their campaigns, Forged by Geeks want to leave players with a sense that they’re approaching this as true fans of the genre and franchise, rather than looking to make a quick buck. The funds acquired through Kickstarter will go towards production of the physical product, not the initial design and development costs that most Kickstarters ask for. “Ultimately, we decided that, being a first time Kickstarter studio, there’s a bunch of other risks,” Hanses said. “We haven’t proven our ability to get a game into consumers’ hands. With promising 23 unique miniature designs, 55 to 60 in the box, it’s a high risk to swallow. We’ve seen lots of Kickstarters fail that are now promising minis that just have renders. For us, we needed to get everything sculpted. We’re going to have the game done. When we go to Kickstarter, the rest of the game will just be done.” For Hanses and his colleague, whatever support they receive from genre fans could make or break their careers. Their minimum goal sits at $35,000 to cover production costs, while a stretch goal of $150,000 would cover the previous few years of work put into the game. An even higher stretch goal of $250,000 would allow Hanses and Hall to go into game design full time. Even if they just manage to break even, Hanses will leave happy. The Defense Grid: The Board Game Kickstarter is scheduled to launch on January 17, 2017. View full article
  7. until
    Want to be in a bowling league, but hate the funny shirts? Interested in trying new games, but missing a player or two? Why not join the Malted Meeple’s Board Game League? Join us every Monday for League play, featuring new games each week. Earn points by playing, by winning (if applicable), for bringing a new friend, and maybe even for wearing a funny shirt! Prizes will be awarded each week, and for the overall winner at the end of each four week league season! The Malted Meeple Board Game League. No funny shirt required! For more information: http://maltedmeeple.com/board-game-leagues/
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    From the album: February Guild Game Day!

    A close up of Parade, a wonderful card game where more points are bad.
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