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Detective: City Of Angels: The Kotaku Review

It was raining a hell of a storm outside, windows rattlin’ so hard I thought my teeth were gonna’ shake out. I was halfway through a whisky, thoughts spinnin’, when my office door creaked open. It was her. The dame. The trouble. “Luke,” she said huskily, “I need your help.”

Oh. Sorry about that. I was feeling very noir for a minute there, but then, that’s what happens when you play Detective: City of Angels, one of the most thematically powerful board games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. You sit down and open the box as a 21st-century gamer, and before you know it you’re wearing a trench coat, flicking open a rusted old zippo and wondering how you were gonna explain this one down the station, the third stiff this week and damn it I’m sorry there I go again.

Detective is for 1-5 players and can be played in a number of different ways, so this review is going to be spread a bit thin covering them all. The one thing they have in common, at least, is that they all involve at least one person playing as a detective, trudging around 1930s Los Angeles roughing up thugs, flipping joints searching for clues and, most importantly, interviewing/interrogating suspects.

The heart of the game, no matter how you play it, is that there are crimes that need solving, and the only way to solve them is to piece together what happened (or what you think happened) by uncovering evidence and talking with people. Detective is built on a complex choose-your-own-adventure style database of questions and answers, where every case has a certain number of suspects and a certain number of pieces of evidence, ranging from murder weapons to notes to people of interest.

Every time it’s a detective’s turn, they can ask one of the suspects about one of the pieces of evidence. Sometimes they’ll get an immediate and honest response, but many times they won’t, and it’s up to the detectives to work out whether a suspect is lying, and if so, whether it’s worth pressing them a little, which can get you the info you need

All of that is powered by an enormous volume of text that covers every possible question and every possible response. As detectives ask more questions and uncover more about the case, they scribble down everything on a big notepad (pictured), and as time draws to a close (each case has a limited number of turns), they’re supposed to think the case through, work out who’s guilty and then make an accusation.

All of which sounds pretty easy, but that’s most definitely not the (sorry) case. Even the easiest scenarios gave us trouble during this review, because you don’t solve cases mechanically in Detective, in that there’s a process you can complete after which the case is perfectly and automatically solved. You just have a bunch of people’s stories to go on and need to trust your gut.

It’s wonderful playing a game where your progress and enjoyment doesn’t come from its rules or systems, but for the platform it gives players to collaborate and solve complex puzzles. My best times weren’t on the board, they were over it as I and my fellow detectives leaned back in our chairs, the deadline for a case fast approaching, hammering out theories as to who killed the suspect and where, using which weapon, like we were up to our eyeballs in the world’s most saxophone-heavy game of Clue.

Detective has a few ways you can play, depending on how many people are involved and what type of game you want to try out. The main approach sees a number of players take control of one detective each, while another assumes the role of the “Chisel,” which isn’t a character so much as the city itself. The Chisel is like a 1930s Dungeon Master, responsible for selecting the answers to the detective’s questions (basically a choice between whether to read out the truth or a lie), and also just looking after general administrative work.

This mode is fine, but it also pits detectives against one another, which keeps things weirdly solitary. It’s also vulnerable to the whims of the Chisel, who could derail the entire game if they want to act like an asshole (indeed there’s a special section in the rulebook warning against this).

Another way is for two or more players to team up, with one person playing the Chisel and everyone else sharing a single detective. This is more fun, as it leads to more collaborative play, but it also triggers a more aggressive form of play from the Chisel, who is now motivated to beat the detectives, not just control the experience.

The highlight for me was the third and final way to play, Sleuth mode. Here there is no Chisel (their role is delegated to what’s basically an AI, the game’s case notebook), just a bunch of detectives roaming the map, working together to solve a crime. While this eliminates some of Detective’s “gamier” elements, I actually prefer the slimmed down experience because it gives the game’s interrogation system more room to breathe and gives players a chance to kick back, chat about their theories, and coordinate just where they’re heading and what they’re searching for.

I really felt like a detective sounding out my hunches, and it’s a thrill discovering new evidence and seeing how it impacted my suspicions. It’s rare that a game that puts you in a role actually has you feel like you’re doing that job, but Detective really succeeds on that front.

The art in Detective is glorious, some of the best I’ve ever seen in a board game. Vincent Dutrait’s pulpy comic illustrations leap off the table and are oozing with personality, right down to the big bright board itself, which is based on Karl Moritz Leuschner’s iconic 1932 map of Los Angeles.

Adding to the immersion are the game’s case briefings. While each one is written in a book for players to read aloud, if you’d prefer—and you really should—the publishers of the game went and hired a professional voice actor to read them aloud in a gritty noir style. You can listen to them here, and they really help set the tone for each case as you’re getting started.

While my experiences reviewing board games over the last few years have opened my eyes to all kinds of new and different kinds of game, from rules-heavy Euros to the simple joys of worker placement, my favorites are still the ones where player interaction and emotions are more important than mastering a system.

That’s definitely the case with Detective. There are rules here, sure, but the fun (and satisfaction from a job well done) comes from cracking some very human puzzles, and the teamwork involved in getting you there.

Source: Kotaku.com

The New Sonic The Hedgehog Monopoly Game Is About Going Fast And Battling Bosses

Photo: Mike Fahey

Debuting in 2017 with a Mario-themed set, Monopoly Gamer combines Hasbro’s classic real estate board game with iconic video game characters and unique game mechanics. Now it’s Sonic’s turn to race around the board, collecting rings, fighting for chaos emeralds, and investing in property, just like he does in his video games.

Monopoly Gamer: Sonic the Hedgehog Edition’s currency is rings. Its properties are stages from Sonic games like Speed Highway and Chemical Plant. Instead of utilities and railroads, there are ramps that propel players’ pieces across the board and spots for collecting rings. The tokens are Sonic, Amy, Knuckles, and Tails, each with their own special Super Boost ability, activated by rolling a special Boost die. Sonic’s Super Boost doubles his normal dice roll and causes every player he passes to drop rings on the game board. One can also imagine that sort of scenario playing out in a video game.

Instead of collecting money, landing on or passing Go initiates a boss battle. A boss card is flipped and players must beat the number value on the card by rolling a die. Should the player win the boss battle they earn the boss card and its chaos emerald. The boss card is worth points at the end of the game when scores are tallied. The emeralds allow players to reroll during boss fights.

It’s still a Monopoly game. The goal is to make it to the end with the most points. It’s just this one’s got Sonic all over it.

Monopoly Gamer: Sonic the Hedgehog Edition will be available for purchase on September 15 at Walmart (EBGames in Canada) and October 1 everywhere else.

Source: Kotaku.com

Playing Cool Games with Funko, The Adventure Zone, and More in Tabletop News

Clockwise from left: Cyberpunk 2077—Afterlife: The Card Game, Star Trek Chrono-Trek, Fiasco, and The Adventure Zone graphic novel.
Image: CMON, Looney Labs, Bully Pulpit Games, Carey Pietsch (First Second Books)

Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, io9’s column all about tabletop and roleplaying games. Gen Con 2019 brought us a bunch of exciting announcements for new and upcoming releases. We couldn’t possibly get through all of them, but here are some highlights!

News and Releases

An image of the starting heroes from Marvel Champions: The Card Game.
Image: Fantasy Flight Games

Marvel Champions: The Card Game

Fantasy Flight Games is entering the Marvel Universe with Marvel Champions: The Card Game, a cooperative card game where players work together as Marvel heroes to stop some of the franchise’s most dangerous villains. The Core Set has over 350 cards and starts with five heroes: Captain Marvel, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, and Black Panther. And since it’s a Fantasy Flight game, many, many more cards are on the horizon. In fact, the company says there will be new expansions every month. The core set is available for preorder at about $60, and comes out later this fall.

The Adventure Zone

The McElroys’ Dungeons & Dragons podcast-turned-graphic novel and nerdy phenomenon is now heading to the tabletop. Twogether Studios has announced it’s working with the McElroys on a tabletop game based on The Adventure Zone, a podcast that features the three brothers and their dad venturing through different D&D games, and has also inspired some fan-favorite characters and cosplay. No information or expected release date have been announced yet.

Sample gameplay from Star Trek Chrono-Trek.
Image: Looney Labs

Star Trek Chrono-Trek

Star Trek and time travel—they’re kind of a package deal. So, it only makes sense that Looney Labs has taken on Star Trek in its latest version of Chrononauts, called Star Trek Chrono-Trek. In this card game, players are trapped in an alternate reality and have to work to ensure certain events happen in the timeline…or maybe you have to prevent them! Either way, Tribbles are bound to show up. Star Trek Chrono-Trek is currently available for $25.

Broken Earth

Green Ronin Publishing has signed a licensing agreement with N.K. Jemisin to build a roleplaying game set in the world of the Broken Earth trilogy. The roleplaying game series will start in fall 2020 with The Fifth Season RPG—makes sense, since not only is it the first book in the trilogy, but it’s also the one TNT announced back in 2017 was being adapted into a TV show. In a statement, the three-time Hugo winner said she’ll be working with Green Ronin to “make sure the spirit and feel of the books is rendered successfully.”

Unmatched: Jurassic Park

Mondo Games and Restoration Games have announced that Jurassic Park is being added to the Unmatched head-to-head series of battle board games. The game’s first deck will feature “InGen vs. Raptors,” due later this year, with plans for a “Dr. Ellie Sattler vs. T-Rex” face-off and a solo expansion for Dr. Alan Grant coming out next year. According to Dice Tower News, Unmatched: Jurassic Park is replacing Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene, which is no longer in development.

Cyberpunk 2077—Afterlife: The Card Game

Cyberpunk 2077 has been a video game several years in the making, and that’s an understatement. Now, it’s getting not just one, but at least two versions. CMON and CD Projekt Red have revealed Cyberpunk 2077—Afterlife, a card game based on the upcoming cyberpunk video game. In the card game, players take on the role of Fixers working in Night City to recruit cyberpunks and send them out on missions. Afterlife is set to come out sometime in 2020, presumably around the video game’s release date of April 16, 2020.


The little figurines based on nerddom’s biggest characters are now getting a board game world of their own. Funko has announced Funkoverse, a series of board games based on its versions of characters from DC Comics, Harry Potter, Rick & Morty, and The Golden Girls (what?). The competitive, light-strategy games are designed to be family-friendly, and expansions are already available for some of them. The basic games run around $40, with expansions costing around $25, and are currently available on <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1836672341[au|5876237249235885598[b|gizmodo[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'gizmodo – Playing Cool Games with Funko, The Adventure Zone, and More in Tabletop News’, ”);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘gizmodo – Playing Cool Games with Funko, The Adventure Zone, and More in Tabletop News’, ”);” data-amazontag=”gizmodoamzn-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/58E59F84-64FA-4387-9006-A88070BDE441?ingress=2&visitId=bf8a1571-7b74-4d4c-895c-0c0b2255b259&ref_=bl_dp_s_web_2592291011&tag=gizmodoamzn-20&ascsubtag=5406e92173b8030e382a4664cd321e2f8fba27a0″>Amazon.


Bloodsoaked Fjord Domain Pack and more (Sorcerer)

White Wizard Games’ Sorcerer, a dueling mages game, is getting three new expansions that range from $5 to $10. As reported by The Gaming Gang, there’s the Character Pack featuring Virgiliu, a pyromancer; the Sylvanei Lineage Pack that focuses on druids; and the Bloodsoaked Fjord Domain Pack, centering around the trolls of the north. The expansions come out August 13.



Fiasco, a light GM-less roleplaying game that plays like a series of fun catastrophe films, is getting a version that’s more accessible to those who aren’t experienced with roleplaying games. The new card-based edition replaces the dice and index cards with playing cards, enabling players to create characters and change scenarios much easier. There are plans to roll out “old favorites and new surprises” in the future, ensuring a lot of variety and repeated gameplay. They’re also looking into developing tools for players to develop their own cards and future scenarios.

Fiasco is on Kickstarter through September 4. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $10 and a box set is $30, and the physical version is set to ship by December.


What if evil corporations were, like, actually evil? That’s the plot of Techlandia, a new 1-4 player tabletop game where players are undercover reporters attending a press conference at Techlandia Corporation, the world’s biggest smartphone company. You’re not there to learn about phones, you’re trying to uncover a secret cult that’s hell-bent on global domination. I’ve had a chance to play it myself, and it’s a fun mix of quirky social commentary and Lovecraftian horror. Techlandia will be on Kickstarter through September 5. The minimum pledge for a copy is $39, and it’s set to ship in April 2020.

HEXplore It: The Sands of Shurax 

The Sands of Shurax is the third game in the HEXplore It series. The cooperative game centers around heroes working together to battle the Ravager of Shurax, which is causing havoc throughout the land. Players battle, trade, explore, excavate, and do all kinds of cool shit. The Sands of Shurax is on Kickstarter through September 1. The minimum pledge for a copy is $64, and it’s set to come out August 2020.

Paws & Claws

Paws & Claws is a tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the animal worlds of Watership Down, The Builders, and the Redwall series. Taking place in the fictional realm of Wudlind, Paws & Claws has players take on roles within a thriving animal kingdom as you all work together to keep the balance…or perhaps you choose to seize power for yourself. The game will be on Kickstarter through September 1. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $20, and it’s set to come out September 2020. There’s also a free Quickstart Guide on DriveThruRPG for those who want to try it out before funding the campaign.

The Carniverse

For a hot second, I thought this was a roleplaying game set in the universe of Disney Pixar’s Cars franchise, and I was both terrified and excited. Instead, The Carniverse is a campaign skirmish system for two players that takes place in a Jurassic World 3-style realm where dinosaurs rule the Earth. Governments have fallen and humanity struggles to survive the new Age of Dinosaurs. There are no branded models for the game—instead, it’s designed to be played with your own 28mm miniatures. If you don’t have any, you can probably use whatever toys you have lying around the house. LEGO Dr. Malcolm, anyone?

The Carniverse will be on Kickstarter through August 29. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $12, which will be released in October. A physical copy requires a $23 pledge, and comes out January 2020.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Raiders Of The North Sea Is A Really Good Digital Board Game

As I’ve recently put on record here, I think Tokaido is the best digital board game. Its stay at the top might be short-lived, though, because Raiders of the North Sea, out this week on PC, Switch and mobile, is very good.

I reviewed the board game last year, and loved it; it’s since become one of my all-time favourites, a regular on my crew’s rotation to the point we’ve now got all the expansions and even a fancy game mat. All of which I’m saying to make this clear: I am starting these impressions from a position where I’m already a very big fan of the game.

Even taking that into account, though, this is still a terrific adaptation. Like Tokaido, it’s just the right kind of game for this type of conversion, complex enough that it has a world and characters to bring to life, simple enough that it’s perfect for putting on your phone and killing 20 minutes with when the opportunity arises.

And like Tokaido, it’s a game where the primary challenge is against the game’s design and systems rather than direct interaction, so you’re not missing too much by competing against an AI rather than a human opponent.

The best thing Raiders has going for it, though, is simply the quality of the adaptation. The worst board game conversions are lazy ones, that simply recreate the tabletop experience and do little more (Terraforming Mars’ recent outing being a big offender), and the second-worst are those where even if a bit of effort has been put into the adaptation, the board game was simply not suited to the particular strengths (and weaknesses) of a video game platform in the first place.

I’ve already explained how Raiders gets past the latter issue, and the former is taken care of with a beautiful digital conversion of Mihajlo Dimitrievski’s iconic series art, which brings the game’s coastal map to life with moving ships, animated sieges and flowing water.

Wait, what’s this game about again?

Raiders of the North Sea is a simple but elegant worker placement game, where the objective is to gather crew and provisions in your home region before setting out to raid the surrounding countryside. It’s played by putting a worker down on a building to perform its action, then picking up a different worker to perform a second action. That’s it, that’s literally all you do, and it’s great.

You can read our review of the board game here

Perhaps to make the whole package seem a bit more video gamey, Raiders has added a campaign mode, something the board game original doesn’t have. It’s nothing big, so don’t expect cinematic cutscenes or 3D action sequences. Instead it gives you ten missions that mess with the core game’s rules, giving you challenges like playing on a smaller map or adjusting the worth and scarcity of certain resources. Like I said, it’s nothing major, but for experienced players (or those looking for a bridge between the tutorial and a full game) it’s a fun little addition.

I’d imagine the bulk of player’s experience though will simply be playing sessions in the main, full game. Since I’ve already reviewed it I’m not going to go over it again, but what I will say is that controlling Raiders couldn’t be simpler. You just drag a meeple to drop it, then you drag one off the map to pick it up, while the UI governing your hand of cards, crew, resources and the overall state of the game is fast, clear and smart.

I’ve been playing both the PC and Android versions and, while the PC edition is fine, it’s also more expensive than the mobile editions, which play better anyway since dragging your finger across the screen is quicker and easier than dragging a mouse cursor. The nature of the game, and its quick-save capabilities, also lend themselves more to a mobile experience than setting in for a session on a desktop.

I’m going to give Tokaido some time at the top—both to see this game’s staying power, and whether Tokaido’s long-coming Crossroads expansion ever makes it to mobile—but for now Raiders is mounting a serious challenge as one of the best mobile board games out there.

Source: Kotaku.com

New Board Game Challenges Players to Design a Perfect Planet

This is how you prepare to PLAY.
Photo: Blue Orange Games

A new award-winning board game asks you to do a seemingly simple task: build the perfect planet for wildlife.

Planet, a board game by Blue Orange Games that dropped on Earth Day, is a fast-paced, beautifully designed, kid-friendly game that everyone, regardless of whether they are an environmentalist, can appreciate. It challenges players to build their own planets for whatever animals chance has laid out for them. Collect enough animals, and you just may win. The game requires players to be mindful of what sort of habitat is necessary to support a wide range of creatures—and in that way, it offers a lesson that couldn’t come at a better time, given our planet’s ongoing ecological crisis.

Such a pretty box.
Photo: Blue Orange Games

While new species—from deep sea corals to whales—are still being discovered, we’re losing a whole lot of species, too. In fact, dozens may be going extinct every day, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The main culprit is habitat loss. Planet may take place on fantasy worlds, but it reminds us that we, ultimately, have the power to shape habitats all life depends on.

That’s part of the point, said Urtis Sulinskas, who designed the game, in an email to Earther. Players can learn about “the beauty and diversity of the living species that are living on planet Earth” and “the importance of creating and preserving natural environments,” he wrote.

Here’s how you play: Up to four people receive a 3D planet they can stick landscape tiles onto via magnets. These tiles include desert, grass, ice, ocean, and mountain areas. Each turn, the players pick one of these tiles and, starting by the third turn, they can select animal tiles too. But you need to have the right habitats in place in order to do so, and every animal has its own requirements. For instance, the penguin needs its planet to be mostly ice, but that ice must touch water. The blue whale needs a planet with five ocean regions. The Fennec fox requires a planet with mostly desert that’s not touching any mountain land.

The players win points based on how many animal cards they grab, plus what type of habitats they accumulate. Having a variety of environments for all the different animals is important. When your globe runs out of space for more of them, you’re finished. The entire gameplay takes about thirty minutes.

“Choosing the right terrain combinations and placing them wisely while observing other players is the key to victory,” Sulinskas said. “However, in the end, there is a pleasant feeling for each player holding their own unique planet, that they have designed.”

The game’s concept is dope as hell. Players may come across animals they don’t recognize among the game’s 45 cards. There were definitely some animals I cocked my head at. My biggest criticism of the game is that the cards don’t include animal names—and I so wish they did. That’d add a new level of education, especially for the younger or less-informed players.

And the habitats for some animals didn’t make all that much sense to me. Like the meerkat needed mostly desert, which, OK, word. It lives in deserts throughout Africa. But the meerkat card also requires that the desert touch ice habitat, and, um, there is not much ice near the real meerkat’s deserts. The tiger card similarly confused me because while all tiger species do live near some type of forest ecosystem, they aren’t typically found near deserts, which the card lists as a requirement.

During the game, though, you’ll probably more focused on selecting the habitat tiles that suit the animals before you than how scientifically accurate each one is. Every player gets a “Natural Habitat Objective Card” that offers points for the amount of habitat you accrue related to the card, but the rewards are comparably small. Animal cards offer the most points, and without them, there’s no way you’re winning.

Before my defeat.
Photo: Yessenia Funes (Gizmodo Media Group)

Like most board games, this one takes some practice. My first two rounds involved a lot of back and forth with my roommates regarding the rules. I didn’t win any rounds initially, but by my second sesh when I played with my boyfriend (this is a two person-friendly game), I had my strategy down to a science, building my largest habitat regions around what the animal cards on the table demanded.

Next on my agenda is to play this game with my nephew. I’m curious how a 9-year-old would respond to its very specific rules, and I wonder how many of these animals he’ll recognize. Most of all, I hope he’ll get a hang of the game’s primary objective: build the planet our animals need.

Because that’s something future generations need to understand.

Source: Kotaku.com

Magic: The Gathering Star Disqualified From Tournament For Alleged Cheating

Japan’s Yuuya Watanabe, twice player of the year and a member of Magic’s Hall of Fame, was kicked out of Mythic Championship II in London over the weekend after judges found markings on the back of some of his cards.

Shortly after the discovery was made by officials during round 15 of the tournament, Wizards of the Coast released this statement:

During a deck check in Round 15 at Mythic Championship II, the judge staff noticed an issue with Yuuya Watanabe’s deck where the sleeves of his Urza’s Power Plants were marked in a specific way. Three Urza’s Mines and one Urza’s Tower had a different marking, and three Urza’s Towers and one Urza’s Mine also had a different marking. No other cards in the deck nor sideboard had any of these marks. The judge staff determined that the odds of this happening by accident were close to nonexistent, and disqualified Watanabe from the event.

This infraction will be further investigated by the MPL, according to Wizards of the Coast representatives.

The disqualification wasn’t the only time Watanabe made headlines during the tournament, as his match against Andrew Watts featured a blown call by judges that led to a reset board and an unlikely win in sudden death overtime.

In response to the disqualification, Watanabe tweeted that he didn’t realise the cards were in any altered state until judges pointed it out to him, before moving on to accept their decision and apologising to fans for letting them down.

Watanabe won Magic’s World Championship in 2012, was Player of the Year in 2009 and 2012, has seven Grand Prix victories, was inducted into the Hall of Game in 2016 and won the World Magic Cup in 2017 with Japan.

Source: Kotaku.com

Alien Is Getting a Tabletop Roleplaying Game

Someone’s creeping around the corner…
Image: Free League Publishing

At the gaming table, no one can hear you scream. io9 can exclusively reveal that Tales From the Loop creator Free League Publishing has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to create an original tabletop roleplaying game series set in the world of Alien. And it’s coming out this year.

Free League is currently developing its latest tabletop RPG, Alien: The Roleplaying Game, which will be an original story set within the Alien universe. It features an open-world campaign mode, a series of pre-generated “Cinematic” storylines, and gorgeous artwork by folks like Martin Grip, John Mullaney and Axel Torvenius. You can watch the announcement trailer below.

Alien: The Roleplaying Game is is the first tabletop RPG for the Alien franchise since Aliens Adventure Game came out in 1989. While that game was specifically based on the plot of Aliens, the 1986 sequel to the iconic original film, Alien: The Roleplaying Game is more open-ended, taking place in the Alien universe with original characters and brand-new stories. That means we won’t be seeing in-game cameos from movie characters like Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)—unless Game Masters choose to add them—but their actions play an important part in the story and world.

In an interview with io9, game director and Free League co-founder Tomas Härenstam shared that the world of Alien: The Roleplaying Game takes place shortly after the events of Alien 3,—which means Alien: Resurrection won’t technically factor in, as it takes place further in the future. Härenstam explained why they chose to set it during that time, how it affects the game’s world, and what it means for the prequels.

“We’re focusing more on certain aspects of the universe than others. I think the key thing there is we’ve set our game in the year 2183, that’s a very conscious choice,” he said. “The more recent prequel movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, those are part of the canon, part of the story and universe. But as they take place in a much earlier era, that era is not where our focus lies.”

Uh, you’re going the wrong way space people.
Image: Free League Publishing

Even though Alien is a hardcore and intense sci-fi experience, with decades of lore and expanded content, the roleplaying game is designed to appeal to both experts and newcomers. For people well-versed in RPGs, there’s a traditional campaign, where players can take on the role of blue-collar workers, marines, explorers, even androids, venturing into the Outer Rim and encountering lots of face-hugging aliens. For others who may be trying roleplaying for the first time, there’s the “Cinematic” experience, a series of pre-generated storylines that can be played in a single sitting. The first one is called Chariot of the Gods, written by sci-fi author Andrew E.C. Gaska (Death of the Planet of the Apes). Härenstam compared it to the pre-made stories made for Tales From The Loop.

“We wanted to make [Alien] an approachable game. Our most successful game to-date is Tales From The Loop. Of course it’s very different from this game, but there are some similarities to how we approach it,” Härenstam said. “In [Cinematic] mode, you play scenarios with pre-generated characters and sort of a core arc. They emulate the dramatic structure of an Alien film. It’s sort of built for one-shots and shorter play.”

The RPG only comes with Chariot of the Gods, but there are plans to release more pre-generated storylines in the future. They’re designed to be interconnected, like direct sequels of each other, meaning a group of players can continue their personalized storylines and characters. But, as Härenstam put it, not everyone is going to get that option, as the Cinematic stories can be brutal or even deadly.

“The [stories] can be tied together. Maybe not the same characters, because they might not survive, but they can continue the story and thread it all together,” he said.

“Might not survive” is right.
Image: Free League Publishing

When asked why Free League decided to take on a violent and intense series like Alien—especially coming after Tales From The Loop and the Things From The Flood expansion, which centered around kids—Härenstam said it’s because the team as a whole is really into hard sci-fi and has been yearning to take on a project like this. In fact, he said the team has been searching for a licensing partnership for a long time, and Alien was continually the preferred choice.

Härenstam also cited his personal fandom of the franchise, something that started when he saw the first movie when he was “probably far too young.”

It has sort of the darkness to it. Obviously, that was something I was drawn to. And the mystery, [which is] especially strong in the first movie. There are so many things that are not explained. That sense of horror and awe, but also that sense of wonder of what’s actually out there.

I also really like the blue collar aspect of it. The protagonists of the movie, they’re not super people in any way. They’re workers, hard workers in outer space. That idea of a vision of the future where everything is not bright and shiny, but there is an everyday type of feel, even in outer space. That was something I had not seen before.

Free League’s announcement comes on the heels of Disney’s purchase of Fox, which has opened the door for more films or shows in that universe. Alien: The Roleplaying Game is set to come out by the end of the year. Härenstam confirmed that there won’t be a Kickstarter campaign for this game, but it will be available for pre-order before it’s released.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.

Source: Kotaku.com

District 9 Is Getting A Board Game

Fresh off their success with last year’s GKR, Weta are now working to turn the studio’s 2009 sci-fi classic District 9 into a board game as well.

At first glance, it’s pretty similar! The same punchy art style is there, there are hexes to move on and loads of very cool miniatures included in the basic box.

The aim is obviously different though; rather than being a straight-up fight like GKR was, in District 9 you’re re-living the three days of the film, only now you’re playing as one of four factions that’s trying to scavenge for alien tech while trying to avoid rioting prawns and some crazy half-alien guy (Wikus, who is in the game as a miniature but isn’t controlled by anyone) running around with his own agenda.

Here’s how gameplay works:

District 9 is currently taking orders on Kickstarter.

Source: Kotaku.com

RPG Publisher Says Chinese Government Burned Every Copy Of Their Latest Book

Sons of the Singularity, a small publisher of RPGs, ran a Kickstarter last year for a Call of Cthulu sourcebook, successfully raising over $20,000. Called The Sassoon Files, it was finally printed last week, only for the publisher to claim that the Chinese government then stepped in and burned every copy.

Via Boing-Boing, here’s Sons of the Singularity’s Jesse Covner explaining what happened:

If you can’t watch the video, on the book’s Kickstarter page there’s a short statement that reads:

We have suffered an unfortunate and unexpected setback with the off-set print run. On March 20th, the Chinese government ordered the destruction of our books.

Covner says that, according to the manufacturers, a Chinese government official inspected the supernatural-themed RPG books, determined they violated Chinese law—despite being bound for a foreign market—and demanded that every copy be destroyed within 24 hours.

The Kickstarter will still be going ahead though; the Chinese company was able to refund the deposit, and Sons of the Singularity will be looking elsewhere to get the books printed.

Source: Kotaku.com

Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best

Five families begin their cursed journey that will last centuries.
Photo: Eric Ravenscraft

<a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B003HC9734" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833327946[a|B003HC9734[au|5739075076334263455[b|theinventory[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B003HC9734’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B003HC9734’);” data-amazontag=”theinventory-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-At-House-Hill-2nd/dp/B003HC9734/?tag=theinventory-20&ascsubtag=c74b4e5ea59e789341d66fa67071e36b24bdfb4d”>Betrayal at House On the Hill is a modern classic board game that’s different every time you play it. <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B07BSG7X56" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833327946[a|B07BSG7X56[au|5739075076334263455[b|theinventory[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B07BSG7X56’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B07BSG7X56’);” data-amazontag=”theinventory-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Avalon-Hill-Betrayal-Legacy-Board-x/dp/B07BSG7X56?tag=theinventory-20&ascsubtag=6d5371a466d9fd958428e16d6e6c284e2872ba6d”>Betrayal Legacy is one of those rare sequels that improves on the first, with a generational story that makes the game uniquely yours.

For the uninitiated, the original <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B003HC9734" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833327946[a|B003HC9734[au|5739075076334263455[b|theinventory[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B003HC9734’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B003HC9734’);” data-amazontag=”theinventory-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-At-House-Hill-2nd/dp/B003HC9734/?tag=theinventory-20&ascsubtag=c74b4e5ea59e789341d66fa67071e36b24bdfb4d”>Betrayal at House On the Hill featured five players exploring a mansion, finding new creepy rooms, artifacts, omens, and events as they play. You might find a crystal ball in the dungeon or a spirit board in the nursery. Depending on what omens you find in which rooms, you unlock one of 50 possible “haunts,” each a creepy tale of mummies, ghosts, giant snakes, and more. And at least one player is always set to betray the others.

It’s an exciting game that doesn’t take very long and is different every time you play it. However, the lore of the game raises some dark questions. Whose house is this? Why is it so many different kinds of haunted? And why would anyone explore such an obviously deadly home?

<a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B07BSG7X56" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833327946[a|B07BSG7X56[au|5739075076334263455[b|theinventory[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B07BSG7X56’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B07BSG7X56’);” data-amazontag=”theinventory-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Avalon-Hill-Betrayal-Legacy-Board-x/dp/B07BSG7X56?tag=theinventory-20&ascsubtag=6d5371a466d9fd958428e16d6e6c284e2872ba6d”>Betrayal Legacy aims to answer all these overly nitpicky questions. This follow up to the original features the same house, but with a more fleshed out backstory. A backstory you play through yourself. This one starts in the year 1666. Spooky, right? You and four other people play as members of five different families that have traded ownership of this elaborate, decrepit mansion for centuries. And each new generation has its own horror story to tell.

Legacy games—like <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B00TQ5SEAI" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833327946[a|B00TQ5SEAI[au|5739075076334263455[b|theinventory[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B00TQ5SEAI’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B00TQ5SEAI’);” data-amazontag=”theinventory-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Pandemic-Legacy-Season-1-Blue/dp/B00TQ5SEAI?tag=theinventory-20&ascsubtag=b551818f4fe3b9835824592f8ef759fc96d532c1″>Pandemic Legacy and <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B005J146MI" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833327946[a|B005J146MI[au|5739075076334263455[b|theinventory[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B005J146MI’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘theinventory – Betrayal Legacy Is Long-Form Board Gaming At Its Best’, ‘B005J146MI’);” data-amazontag=”theinventory-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Wizards-of-the-Coast-JUN118204/dp/B005J146MI?tag=theinventory-20&ascsubtag=9b2ac30e8844a4fa00d41a7754eeae2a47662e32″>Risk Legacy—have special rules and features that add to the story every time you play. Betrayal Legacy begins with a prologue, followed by a thirteen chapter story. Each chapter represents one typical playthrough, each one lasting 1-2 hours, depending on how quickly you finish.

Before you even enter the house, you feel the malicious presence of no fewer than three spirits, bound to this tile.
Photo: Eric Ravenscraft

The initial chapters are more guided than a typical Betrayal game, but have richer lore. Without spoiling the story (it’s really best to go in blind and experience it with your party), each chapter leaves behind elements that affect the next. When a character dies, for example, the tile is marked where their body lies. It doesn’t take long for the grounds to become littered with the spirits of those left behind. Those spirits can alter dice rolls or alter the effects of events that happen on those tiles in future games.

Each player isn’t just one single person, but a family. You start by creating a character in the family that may age or die by the next chapter. The 10-year-old child you created in one chapter may become the old crone a couple chapters later. The old man in one chapter may die and leave his possessions to his granddaughter.

What kind of possessions? Glad you asked. Certain items you acquire along the way become heirlooms. In future games, they bestow the same benefits they always did to other players, but if it’s kept in the family, they get a bonus. A weapon that does 1 damage for regular players may do 2 damage for the family that rightfully owns it.

Every new chapter is another chance to tell a story in your family’s legacy.
Photo: Eric Ravenscraft

Each game, ownership of the house transfers to the winner of that chapter. The winning player gets a special ability for owning the deed to the house the next time you play. We’ll avoid spoiling too much, but these game mechanics are just the beginning. Whole sections of the rule book are missing until you reach the appointed time, and even the box itself hides new, intriguing surprises.

With each successive chapter, you unlock new rules, discover new secrets, and unfold the tale of the world’s most haunted mansion. Legacy games in general have a sense of permanence to them. You’ll have to destroy certain cards or make permanent alterations that might make the obsessive game collector cringe.

What you’re left with at the end, though, is a tale (and a game) that’s thoroughly yours. Once you’ve finished the story chapters, the game can be played as much as you want just like a normal Betrayal game. Your copy will have unique traits that no other copy has. And now, you know the deep and disturbing history of every tile, every item, and every body haunting the house on the hill.

Source: Kotaku.com