Welcome to the latest Gaming Shelf, Gizmodo's column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. This year’s Toy Fair brought a bunch of surprises and great reveals, like a new Marvel Villainous board game. Check out the latest stash of gaming news, where we’ve got a telenovela RPG, a Scooby-Doo dose of Betrayal, and a trip “back in time” with Back to the Future.
News and Releases
Betrayal at Mystery Mansion
Betrayal at House on the Hill is getting a little extra spoooooooky. Wizards of the Coast has announced a new Betrayal game set in the world of Scooby-Doo. According to a press release, Betrayal at Mystery Mansion has players working together as the members of the Mystery Inc. Gang, exploring a scary mansion, finding clues, and spotting that week’s creepy monster—of course, by that time one of the players will have become the monster and it’s up to everyone else to stop them. For those who are fans of the Betrayal series, it’s a family-friendly way to bring kids into the scares. Betrayal at Mystery Mansion comes out May 15.
Harry Potter House Cup Competition
It’s time to put those annoying [insert your least-favourite Hogwarts House] in their place. USAopoly has announced Harry Potter House Cup Competition, a two-to-four player worker placement game where each player takes on the role of a House at Hogwarts, sending their fellow students out to learn spells, attend class, and complete challenges. Whichever player scores the most points for their House wins the prize and serious bragging rights for the rest of the school year. Harry Potter House Cup Competition costs $US50 ($76) and comes out this winter.
Disney’s Jungle Cruise Adventure Game
Just in time for Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson to head out on the river, Ravensburger has revealed Disney’s Jungle Cruise Adventure Game. According to ComicBook.com, the two-to-four player game puts each player on their own riverboat, navigating obstacles and saving passengers while also trying to figure out which one of them will become the new leader of the Jungle Exploration Company. This comes after Ravensburger announced the Villainous series was expanding beyond Disney with Marvel Villainous. Disney’s Jungle Cruise Adventure Game comes out this June and will cost $US30 ($45).
Wolfenstein The Board Game
Archon Studio has unveiled the first look at Wolfenstein The Board Game, a cooperative game based on the video game series that pits players against a bunch of Nazis and Mecha-Hitler. According to Polygon, the dungeon crawler-style game takes place during the events of Wolfenstein: The New Order, with B.J. Blazkowicz and his fellow members of the Kreisau Circle heading to Castle Wolfenstein and stop Hitler by any means necessary. The game features over 50 miniatures, along with 10 missions that can be played as a single campaign or individually. Wolfenstein The Board Game is set to hit Kickstarter later this year.
Back to the Future: Back in Time
Funko Games is building a time machine out of a Dolorean with Back to the Future: Back in Time, a cooperative dice game based on the first film in the Back to the Future series. According to a press release, players work together as Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Jennifer, and Einstein (I call Einstein!) to defeat Biff and repair the space-time continuum, while also making sure Marty and his siblings aren’t erased from existence. Back to the Future: Back in Time comes out this winter and will cost around $45.
Note: Kickstarter, a huge fundraising site for tabletop gaming, has come under fire for opposing its employees’ move toward unionization under Kickstarter United. This includes firing two staffers who were members of the organising committee. In a statement, Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan denied the company was engaging in union-busting but confirmed that the company is refusing to voluntarily recognise Kickstarter United and called unions “inherently adversarial.”
As of February 18, Kickstarter United has successfully voted to unionise. GMG Union stands in support of the union, and we continue to oppose Hasan’s comments. As of now, Kickstarter United has not yet called for a boycott of the company, so Gizmodo will continue to showcase creators as we monitor the situation.
Beards and Beyond
ZineQuest 2 is winding down, but there are still plenty of fun zines to check out. The one that gave me a chuckle was Beards and Beyond from Tony Vasinda. An update on a small roleplaying game he developed earlier, Beards and Beyond has players creating whiskered and bearded heroes to do battle against the forces of darkness (who may or may not have beards themselves). Whether it’s the powers you wield, the charm you exert, or the strength in your blows...it all comes down to facial hair. Beards and Beyond will be on Kickstarter through March 11. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $9 and a print edition is $18, with both set to come out in June.
Knight Tales is a one-to-four semi-cooperative game where each player takes on the role of a knight helping defend a village from three nights of monster attacks. During each daytime phase, players go on quests and aid villagers to help build their supply of weapons and allies, then go up against a series of monsters (including one boss) during the night phase. If too many monsters survive the night, the village is destroyed.
What’s interesting about this game is the variety of difficulty settings. Not only are there three difficulty levels for the monsters, players have the option of making it a truly cooperative game or play so only one person can win in the end. Knight Tales will be on Kickstarter through March 20. The minimum pledge for a copy is $76 and it’s set to come out in January 2021.
In Ark: Awakening, players find themselves waking up on a semi-automated spaceship, each a member of their own alien faction that’s found a home on the Ark. It’s up to players to explore the ship, grow their factions, and accomplish their randomly assigned mission in order to win the game. As players explore the ship, they can choose to work together or fight each other for dominance.
Of course, only one faction can survive. The game is for up to four people, with a solo mode against an automated opponent. Ark: Awakening will be on Kickstarter through March 27. The minimum pledge for a copy is $50 and it’s set to come out in November.
Pasión de las Pasiones
It’s not just mages, monsters, and dragons—sometimes the most fantastical tales stem from reality. But only if they’ve got the right ingredient: passion. Pasión de las Pasiones is a tabletop roleplaying game from Brandon Leon-Gambetta all about a telenovela. Pasión de las Pasiones has three to five players embodying some of the typical characters one would find in a telenovela, filling their lives with terrifying secrets, dramatic reveals, violent confrontations, and of course an evil twin or two.
The game can be played as one-off stories or as a campaign-long arc representing a full season of a TV show. Pasión de las Pasiones will be on Kickstarter through March 21. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $23 while a print edition goes for $45, and both are set to come out in February 2021.
Journey Back, a solo journaling RPG
Last year, The Hero’s Journal was funded on Kickstarter, a 90-day solo journal where players could use questing tropes to address personal growth and productivity. Now, Journey Back looks to be taking it a step further. In this solo journaling practice, players create a character and embark on a sort-of hero’s journey—except it’s more about discovering the hero within than completing feats to turn you into one.
The roleplaying game uses a journal and a deck of cards, following prompts to help in the reflective practice. For those wanting to try out journaling and personal discovery, it might be a good way to venture into the unknown without feeling too exposed. Journey Back will be on Kickstarter through March 26. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $6 while a physical copy is $23, and both are expected to come out in May.