Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, Gizmodo’s column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. Things are…complicated right now. Some game companies have had to shut down production, while others are releasing free games to help folks out during social distancing. We’ve got all of that plus some exciting announcements and cool jigsaw puzzles.
News and Releases
Production and Shipping Delays
Several board game companies have announced production or shipping delays because of the covid-19 pandemic. Fantasy Flight Games has announced it won’t be releasing any new games until further notice (Geek Dad is reporting the same for River Horse). In addition, Renegade Game Studios is unable to ship games for the time being, as its warehouse is closed. If you’re looking to purchase any games, we recommend checking in with gaming companies to find out their current shipping situations.
Times may be tough, but some of these companies are trying to help during this time of need. For example, last Friday saw a massive “Free Content Friday” event where several board game companies released free print-and-play games (more information on that below). In addition, Mayday Games has temporarily changed its services to become a distributor of KN95 masks. According to a local news report, one-tenth of proceeds will be donated to healthcare workers in Utah, where the company is based.
Free Content Friday (and Every Day)
Many board game companies have been stepping up to provide free content for people stuck as home during social distancing. Asmodee has made free print-and-play versions of several of its biggest games, including Catan, Dixit, and Unlock! Escape Room Adventures. Wizards of the Coast is giving out free Dungeons & Dragons materials. For those wanting a little family bonding time, Cards Against Humanity has released a free family-friendly version of its typically vulgar card game. In addition, Renegade Game Studios has released a free copy of Wonderland, previously only available as an International Tabletop Day Exclusive. Be sure to check out your favourite board game companies for more (and try to support them if you can). For anyone without a printer (meaning most of us), FedEx’s online printing looks to still be operational, though I’d double check before ordering.
Love Letter: Sender
I’m giving this one a special shout-out because, well, it’s kinda hilarious. Z-Man Games has released a free print-and-play copy of Love Letter: Sender, which the company announced as an April Fools’ joke that you could actually download (because faking people out right now should be a crime). It’s a “modern” version of the classic game based on online dating, where players vie for the attention of the perfect match based on their dating profile image. Watch out for the Catfish! Love Letter: Sender is available as a free print-and-play here.
Mondo Jigsaw Puzzles
Mondo is famous for its gorgeous movie posters, and now they can fall apart before your very eyes! But don’t worry, you get to put them back together. As reported by Bloody Disgusting, Mondo is releasing some of its iconic movie posters as 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles. They include posters from Jurassic Park, Gremlins, Die Hard, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re all available from Mondo’s shop here.
In a statement, Z-Man Games said it will not be announcing any new Pandemic games or expansions for the time being “out of respect for those affected by the current situation.”
Smash Up: Marvel
The Op has unveiled its first venture into Alderac Entertainment Group’s battle royale franchise with Smash Up: Marvel. The move follows last year’s partnership to bring licensed characters to Smash Up, the “shufflebuilding” game franchise where players battle with their ideal fictional armies, created using powerful characters and character tropes. This latest instalment brings Marvel characters like Captain Marvel, Spectrum, and Red Skull to the battleground. Smash Up: Marvel is set to come out this fall, though that release date could change because of the pandemic.
Note: The covid-19 pandemic and Trump’s trade war with China have impacted board game production. We strongly advise you check with Kickstarter developers about possible delays, but don’t let that dissuade you from supporting these campaigns.
Tales From the Loop: The Board Game
Free League Publishing is releasing a tabletop miniatures board game version of its Tales From the Loop roleplaying game. Coming after the debut of Amazon Studios’ Tales From the Loop series, the board game has players taking on the role of teenagers investigating strange happenings all around the Loop. The game features several gorgeous miniatures based on Simon Stålenhag’s robotic creations, as well as specialised scenarios for gameplay. Tales From the Loop: The Board Game will be on Kickstarter through May 8. The minimum pledge for a copy is about $95 and it’s set to come out in May 2021.
Fan-Made Jumanji Board Game Replica
Pandemics, tornados, locusts: OK, who left their Jumanji game going? We’re kind of living a real-world version of Jumanji right now, so it only makes sense to have a copy of your own. Funky Aliens Art is raising funds to produce high-quality fan replicas of the Jumanji board game. This thing is gorgeous, featuring hand-carved design, magnetic board game pieces, and even an interior screen with animations that look like the ones in the movie. It’s no surprise its creators have raised over $155,000…when they’d originally asked for $7,700. The replica game will be on Kickstarter until April 24 and the campaign is currently accepting pledges for the third batch. It costs $458 and is set to come out in October.
Omega: The Ritual
Omega: The Ritual is a resource management game where players are neophytes trying to be initiated into a secret society. The game takes place during a secretive ritual, where you have to call upon the power of the egregores, or spirits, to traverse the 12 phases of the ritual. Players combine runes and summon spirits to guide them in their quest to become a member of the Order of the Omega—after one, they’re only accepting one of you. Omega: The Ritual will be on Kickstarter through May 3. The minimum pledge for a copy is $57 and it’s set to come out in October.
Veilwraith is a solo fantasy card game set in the world of the Kilforth series. Each round is played over a series of “vignettes” that combine to make up the campaign, where the player (aka the Veilwraith) has to collect five keys and defeat all of the enemies, using memories to aid in their fight. In a statement on its Kickstarter, the company said because of the covid-19 pandemic it has done away with all Kickstarter exclusives and stretch goals, and it will to try and make the game available later to those who cannot afford to fund the Kickstarter right now. Veilwraith will be on Kickstarter through May 1. The minimum pledge for a copy is $59 and it’s set to come out in December.
A group of aliens have descended upon Earth for one important reason: To make money through art deals. Excavation Earth is a resource management game where players take on the role of aliens trying to excavate a bunch of human artifacts to sell to art museums…an important step in vying for power from the Union of Free Races as they work to colonise Earth. Players have to juggle artefact excavation with power struggles on the Mothership. Spend too much time on Earth, another alien race may try to take your place. Excavation Earth will be on Kickstarter through April 30. The minimum pledge for a copy is $78 and it’s set to come out in November.