Ava: Quinns, is it getting hot in here, or have I just taken off all my clothes.
Quinns: Hopefully neither, it’s just that the site has been redesigned! And not unlike a person who’s taken off their clothes, the site is now smoother, sexier, and (most importantly) faster.
Ava: Ooh. It’s like you’ve snuck into my bedroom and tidied everything up. But not in a creepy way!
Quinns: I’m glad you’re feeling good, because it’s time for us to jump into the grand slurry of news which came out of GenCon. Hold your nose!
Quinns: Our absolute toppest story this week is Fantasy Flight’s announcement of Marvel Champions. This is a new co-operative LCG (“Living Card Game”) where players will create a deck representing their superhero, and then join forces with other friends to battle a villain, which is also a deck.
Fantasy Flight’s LCGs have been hit-and-miss over the years, but my Spider-Sense is telling me that this is going to be one of the better ones. It’s clearly building off of the fantastic framework of the co-op Arkham Horror LCG, and the announcement article shows Fantasy Flight doing what they do best, securing the theme in the very foundation of the game. In Marvel Champions, players will all start as their character’s alter-ego, whether that’s Tony Stark or [checks notes] Jennifer Walters, and during the game players will have to repeatedly change costumes, swapping into their superhero outfit to biff the villain and foil their schemes, and changing back into a shirt and a pencil skirt to recover health and play “Alter-Ego” cards.
Ava: I just spent five minutes googling, trying to work out if it’s Spidey-Sense or Spider-Sense. And my conclusion was ‘I don’t care’.
Quinns: Well, here’s something you /will/ care about- it looks like Marvel Champions will continue Fantasy Flight’s dedication to diversity. The five superheroes in the core set are (of course) Iron Man and Spider-Man, but they’re followed by Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and She-Hulk.
Ava: You’re right! I did care about that! Really got my ‘That’s Actually a Nice Thing’-Sense tingling.
Ava: Hooo-wee. What’s that coming out of the sky? It’s purple and ridiculous and unique, I love it! Do I?
It looks like worlds are colliding in the newly-announced third wave of decks for Fantasy Flight’s unique card game battler Keyforge. The new purple boxes will contain the first appearance of two brand-new factions, ‘Lizard Romans’ and ‘definitely not Star Trek’s federation’. The Saurians and the Grand Star Alliance will be knocking the Mars and Sanctum factions out of circulation, and bringing in a whole host of new cards to maybe be included in your algorithmically-generated archon deck.
Quinns: Oh my gosh. This is like Love Island! A savage process of stripping out the least popular contestants and replacing them with sexy new ones.
Designer Richard Garfield has said that in an ideal world Keyforge would contain thousands of rare cards, allowing every randomised deck to be that much more unique. But with the hasty announcement of Keyforge’s second and third wave of new cards, it looks like they’ve found a savvy way to create that exact situation. You see, Keyforge decks have a small chance of featuring cards from previous waves, so Worlds Collide’s algorithm will be pulling from a card pool of hundreds upon hundreds of rare cards. Lovely stuff!
If you missed our review of Keyforge, do check it out. It’s a one-of-a-kind game in more ways than one.
Ava: Taking the treacherous swim from Love Island, to Lovecraft island, I feel a bit spooky about this one?
It’s not because I’ve been taken over by a squamous otherworldly horror though, I promise. It’s because the newly announced Fantasy Flight game Arkham Horror: Final Hour has intrigued me more than an Arkham flavoured game has in a long while. Skulking within the standard adventure-horror narrative and the traditional ‘players take turns, then a demon makes everything worse’ structure of the Arkham Horror series are some really curious treats.
Players won’t be allowed to communicate as they wander the halls of Miskatonic University, except by placing priority cards to say how important they think their next move is. Investigators will be prioritising their secret, simultaneously-played action cards to take stabs in the dark or hit the books, with unique decks for each character. Where you place in the priority queue changes both what you do /and/ when you’ll do it. Will it still be the right move? As you play you’ll fend off monsters and find clues to find out what cards you should be saving for your final confrontation, adding a little bit of deduction to the ghost busting.
Quinns: Wait, what? It’s Arkham Horror meets The Mind?!
Ava: Just a little bit? With a soupçon of Magic Maze and maybe even a light dusting of Mastermind thrown in? Given the game’s promise to be playable within the titular hour, it may be trying to squeeze too many ingredients into too small a pot, but a series of smiles crept over my face as I read the preview.
Quinns: Wow. Did Fantasy Flight just make me interested in yet another Arkham Horror game? That’s some real eldritch craft.
Ava: CMON is heaving itself into the collectible card game market with a Cyberpunk hacking game that has nothing to do with recently ended behemoth Android: Netrunner.
Cyberpunk 2077 – Afterlife: The Card Game is tying in with the already-controversial CD Projekt Red video game, itself an adaptation of the classic role playing game. Afterlife will have you playing cyber-middle-managers, recruiting gangs of hackers and bionic ne’er-do-wells to gain something literally being referred to as ‘Street Cred’ which feels like a phrase I would use if I wanted to feel like I was 77 years old. The game has you drafting cards and deciding what to sacrifice to pay for them, so hopefully that’s a lot of crunchy decisions to chew on. But maybe I’m just hungry.
Quinns: I trust this game about as far as I can throw it. That analogy doesn’t work very well with a card game because you can frisbee the box quite a distance, but you get the idea.
Ava: That’s not even all that’s coming out of CMON’s news-pipes. CMON has announced the final part of Eric Lang’s mythical miniature trilogy. Following in the footsteps of Rising Sun and Blood Rage, this enormous box is going to walk like an Egyptian.
Ankh: Gods of Egypt will be coming soon from Eric, reunited with illustrator Adrian Smith and miniature carver Mike McVey. This means that we know it’s going to be a stunningly gorgeous presentation, with an enormous box full of miniatures and illustrations that outdo nearly everything else on the market. What we don’t know if whether building caravans, summoning monsters, and converting followers will actually be any fun. That box art is making me quiver with anticipation, but I’ve been burnt by the beating desert sun of kickstarter before. Am I going to weigh my cynical heart against a crowdfunded feather again?
Quinns: I’m reeling from this line on BGG- “Players will truly feel like Gods as they shake the very foundations of Egypt.” That’s perhaps setting yourself up for a fall, when your last game accidentally included a Wikipedia troll from New Zealand as a Japanese myth.
Ava: To be fair, if we’re in Egypt isn’t that the plot of Stargate?
Quinns: “Players will truly feel like Gods as they are accidentally included in the Egyptian pantheon.”
Ava: Is it too soon to make my Quintinkahmun joke again?
Ava: I’ll get my sarcophagus.
Quinns: …Moving on, CMON also announced a new 2nd edition of Zombicide. Considering the critical response to Zombicide was “It’s bad”, and the response to that response was “Who cares?” I’m amused by this underwhelming quote from the producer of the 2nd edition:
“We’ve gone through every aspect of the game, from making doors easier to work, to updating how the car drives on the board, to reworking target priority for ranged attacks and adding in dark zones that will hide zombies from survivor’s bullets, looking at where we could improve and make the Zombicide game experience all that it could be.”
That’s all you have to say? Because that sounds to me like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or perhaps, “If it prints money, don’t touch it.”
Ava: Honestly, there are so many new game announcements from GenCon I shouldn’t even be talking about something that’s already announced, that I’m unlikely to like, but this design diary of Machi Koro Legacy made me chuckle, so it’s going in the news-bag.
Rob Daviau describes Machi Koro as ‘”My First Craps Game”, which I genuinely say with affection because I don’t know how to play craps’. He goes on to explain some of the roads not taken in turning a light, dicey tableau into a larger narrative. I’m still not convinced I’ll take the plunge on Machi Koro Legacy, but there are a few details here that leave me curious. Not least that you can tilt your game away from the aggressive cards that I’ve always found to make the game take longer than it has any right to.
Ava: Thanks to Marty Demarest for sending in this link to a New York Times piece on playing problematic roles in board games. Focussing on GMT Games’ pulling of Scramble for Africa. As always, a mainstream news perspective on board games is interesting to see, and there’s some really chewy details in here. I particularly liked Cole Werhle’s description of games as ‘little sympathy engines’. It’s exactly how I think of games, and why they can be dangerous and useful, sometimes both at the same time. It’s a strong read. Though a tokenistic final paragraph about games developed in Nigeria could’ve done with some fleshing out. I’m super excited to find out what could be coming out of African design scenes.