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Tag: Last Night on Earth

Fortune and Glory, Kid. Fortune and Glory.

Fortune and Glory

If you’re a confirmed Indiana Jones nut like me (yep, it was even the theme of my 40th birthday party!), you’ll be over the moon at the release of Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game, a brand new, huge game by the masters of theme-heavy gaming, Flying Frog. Yes, it’s got everything we know and love from those 30s pulp adventure stories (barring the actual Indiana Jones licence of course!)—zeppelins to Nazis, mad professors to resourceful nightclub singers, whips to occult artifacts, ancient temples to cliffhanger endings—all done in that inimitable Flying Frog style. Fortune and Glory, Kid. Fortune and Glory.

Gamers have been waiting for ‘the’ pulp adventure game for quite some time, and this looks like just the ticket. I’ll have a full review as soon as I can get the game on the table, but until then, let’s have a look at some of the great stuff in this first ‘big box’ game from the Flying Froggers!

Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game is set in the late 1930s, with the world on the brink of war as imperialist nations in the Far East and Europe work aggressively to expand their domination. The Nazis have taken control of Germany and now spread darkness across the globe in their hunt for powerful occult artifacts that can give them the upper hand in the days to come. But the spirit of adventure and freedom won’t be stamped out so easily.

Heroic adventurers from around the world answer the call, racing against time to hunt down ancient artifacts, explore deadly temples, and fight back the powers of darkness from engulfing the world in flames.

Fortune and Glory is a fast-paced game of high adventure, vile villains, edge-of-your-seat danger, and cliffhanger pulp movie action. 1-8 players take on the role of a treasure hunter, traveling the globe in search of ancient artifacts and fending off danger and villains at every turn in a quest for the ultimate reward of fortune and glory!

The game features a beautifully rendered adventure map of the world as the game board, 8 pulp adventure heroes to choose from (such as Jake Zane the Flying Ace, Li Mei Chen the Night Club Singer and Martial Artist, or Dr. Zhukov Master of Science), an army of ruthless villains and thugs (including the Chicago Mob and the dreaded occult-hunting Nazis), ancient Mayan temples to explore with a zeppelin hovering overhead, a wealth of coins to horde as heroes collect fortune and glory throughout the game, and a unique mechanism of dangers to overcome and those classic cliffhanger moments of suspense.

Alpine TrailWhen the game is set up, Relic cards are drawn and paired with locations on the board. Your adventurers will be travelling to these locations and facing dangers in an attempt to collect—you guessed it—Fortune and Glory. The unique thing about these challenges is that if you fail a relevent skill test, the card gets flipped to its ‘cliffhanger’ side, and next turn you will have to face an even more terrifying challenge! For example, look at the card Alpine Trail: should you fail the skill test, the card will escalate into Over the Edge! Whoops! Another classic is Ancient Puzzle, which when flipped to its cliffhanger side becomes Walls Closing In!

Of course there are lots of other dangers to face as you race around the world: Nazi goons, dangerous mobsters, special villains who are racing for the relics themselves, and lots of unique events. Plus you can buy items and gather allies to help you on your quests. Sure there’s a lot of luck involved, but that’s what this kind of cinematic game is all about—hilarious stories and complete immersion in a fun theme!

Like most Flying Frog games, Fortune and Glory comes with rules for both competitive and cooperative play; players can race against one another or work together to overcome an evil organization bent on world domination through powerful occult artifacts. 39 highly detailed plastic 28mm miniatures include heroes, villains, enemy soldiers, Mayan temples, and even a zeppelin! And of course, there’s a CD soundtrack included to put you in the mood (though how anyone could resist playing the Indiana Jones movie soundtracks is beyond me!)

Prepare yourself for the epic adventure! Fortune and Glory is available now at Games Paradise.

You’re gonna get killed chasing after your damn fortune and glory!

Maybe. But not today.

Boardgames with Audio and Video

Game designers are always coming up with innovative new ways to make boardgames more fun and immersive, and adding audio and video is probably the ultimate extra! Here’s a look at some interesting boardgames that use sight and sound to enhance the enjoyment.

AtmosfearBack in the heady days when VHS won the battle of the video formats and people could actually rent and watch movies in the comfort of their own home, some clever designers began adding video elements to boardgames. One of the first was Atmosfear, and now that it’s back in a brand new DVD edition, it seems a perfect time to have a look at boardgames enhanced with audio and video!

Atmosfear was a revolutionary game when it first released (originally as Nightmare) and went on to be incredibly successful. The aim of the game is to collect a key from each of the six regions of the board before heading to the ‘Well of Fears’ in the centre and facing their worst fear in order to win the game!. This must be done before 49 minutes pass, or all players lose automatically.

Atmosfear uses a DVD that acts as a timer (and explains how to play the game), constantly ticking away to the end of the game. The Gatekeeper also frequently appears on screen and causes problems for any or all of the players. Just like its predecessor, Atmosfear features tense and stressful play—players rush to take their turn and pass on the dice as quickly as possible before the Gatekeeper appears and calls on them.

Unlike the original which used a VHS tape, the new version uses a DVD, which means that encounters with the Gatekeeper are randomized rather than in a fixed order, and you can’t predict when he will turn up next. It also means that new events can come up several plays on.

A recent game that includes an audio CD that is an essential part of the gameplay is Space Alert, an ingenious, chaotic and very original experience by Polish designer Vlaada Chvatil. Players are a crew of space explorers surveying a dangerous sector of the galaxy. During the ten minutes when the ship is mapping the sector, the crew must defend the ship against a host of threats, working together to defeat them as they’re announced by the robotic voice on the CD in real time!

It’s an innovative boardgame, and the CD means you’re under real time pressure to use your limited resources in the most efficient way possible. Experienced teams, once they’re comfortable beating the challenges of the core game, will be ready for the even harder expansion: The New Frontier.

Space Alert

Of course boardgames can have an audio component that isn’t actually part of the game play. Flying Frog has included a CD of original music with every one of their game releases, designed to complement the experience and put players in the appropriate mood for the game. It’s a fun extra and a nice way to enhance their very theme-heavy games. Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game, Invasion from Outer Space The Martian Game, A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game and Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game all play like sci-fi and horror B-movie films, so it seems absolutely appropriate that they all come with their own ‘soundtrack’!

Of course, it’s not all about boardgames! For something completely different, try Bedroom Boogie, and adult game that takes boardgames to a whole new level! Lay out the ‘Beat Sheet’ (I’m not making this up!), grab your partner and hit play on your Bedroom Boogie CD. The Boogie Dance Instructor will take you through the basics, guiding you around the Touch Hearts and Sexy Oohs and Aahs—it’s a bit like Twister, only with a whole heap of innuendo! There are 12 hot tracks to dance to including Flaunty Funk, Slinky Slow Numbers, Raunchy Rock and Hot Booty Shaking Beats.

As you can see, audio and video can bring a whole new dimension to boardgames. Next time you’re gaming with friends, try something different and check out these games!

Games You May Have Missed

Conquest of Planet Earth and Isla Dorada

As gamers, we tend to be obsessed with the latest releases and whatever game is generating the biggest ‘buzz’ at the moment. But I find there are lots of games that get a bit neglected as a result, and don’t get the ‘table time’ they deserve. Games You May Have Missed will be an irregular series of articles looking at games you may have overlooked the first time around, but deserve some more attention. You may discover a lost gem of a game that grows to become a favourite of your collection!

Last night I brought out two games that have been languishing unplayed on my shelf for a while now—Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game by Flying Frog Games and Isla Dorada by Fantasy Flight Games/Fun Forge. Strangely, I’d found the time to paint the figures in both games, create a foamcore insert for one, and make rules summaries for both, but hadn’t yet played them! Both are really fun, luck-based, thematic games that possibly got lost in the cloud of hype surrounding other releases at the time. Let’s revisit them now!

Conquest of Planet EarthConquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game is a little bit different from other Flying Frog releases, and may have been neglected because it was released very close to their other game that features invading aliens, Invasion From Outer Space. That and Flying Frog’s other games: Last Night on Earth and A Touch of Evil, share a similar graphic style (retouched photos of actors instead of illustrations) and style of play (characters move about a map playing thematic cards and fighting). Conquest of Planet Earth, however, is a bit different, though there’s still a heavy reliance on cardplay and combat. The first thing you’ll notice is that it features colourful, cartoony art instead of photos! You choose an alien race (your ‘character’ in the game) that has several special abilities, and begin the game with four flying saucers on your landing site. The board is made up of a central board and one board for each player, each divided into seven locations.

During your turn you secretly bid for how many Action points you will spend during the turn, and the player bidding the least number becomes first player. You can then spend Action points on your turn, moving your saucers to other locations, replacing destroyed saucers, buying tokens to fuel special abilities, or playing event cards that cost Action points to play. When your saucers move to a new location, you draw a Location card, which may represent anything from a military base to a small town to empty countryside. If there is a Resistance value on the location, you draw Resistance cards one at a time, in number equal to the value, fighting each card as it is turned up in an attempt to conquer the location. Depending on how populous the location is, you get Terror points for a conquered location.

So the rules themselves are pretty basic and easy to pick up; but where this game really shines is the fantastic variety of Event cards and ‘Space Stuff’ cards, that cover probably just about every alien invasion B-movie situation you can think of—and then some. You can drop an Atomic Bomb on a location to clear it of rival aliens; spread a Contagion to wipe out the human resistance; try Eating Kittens (‘Now that’s just wrong!’) to increase your Terror level; or play We Come in Peace to automatically win a fight. You might be joined by a Giant Robot ally in your quest to conquer the humans, use Disintegration Beams or a Death Ray to increase your fight strength; or deploy a Massive Blob to wipe out resistance.

The game is hilarious and fun, and as an extra bonus it has rules for both Cooperative and Competitive play—and you can even play solo. We had a great time playing this last night, and I’ll definitely be bringing it out on the table more often when I feel like like a good laugh and a light game.

Conquest of Planet Earth

Painted Ally miniatures (front and back shown) representing classic movie monster aliens (supplied unpainted in the game).

Isla DoradaThe second game of the evening was Isla Dorada, designed by Bruno Faidutti (of Citadels and Ad Astra fame) by Fantasy Flight Games/Fun Forge. Faidutti considers it his best design, and I think it’s a very clever and very interactive game that is perfect for families, in the vein of Ticket to Ride—in fact it very much feels like a DOW game rather than a FFG one.

The main mechanic of Isla Dorada is a bidding one. You have a single expedition figure on the island map, and each turn players bid a number of cards to control the expedition for that turn and move it where they want to go. Different cards are used to bid for different types of paths—mountain, jungle, desert, river, and sea paths, and even air travel by giant bird or zeppelin. Of course there’s also a plethora of special cards that can do things like stop another player from bidding, convert cards to different types, and keep the expedition moving past the next location on the route. At first it all seems a bit daunting as all these cards have different semi-imaginary names in keeping with the ‘lost pacific island’ theme; but an excellent pictorial reference sheet helps you pick it up very quickly and before long you’re remembering which card is which with ease.

So why do you want to control the expedition’s destination? Well, at the start of the game, and at two points during it, you receive Treasure cards keyed to various locations. You also get a Destiny card, which gives you points for visiting a particular series of locations, and you can get Curse cards, which can reduce your points if you go to those places. So each player has very definite ideas indeed about where the expedition should go on the island! It’s a chaotic and crazy game with a little bit of what gamers call ‘screwage’ (ie, you have opportunities for making things tough for other players), all wrapped up in colourful and light-hearted artwork. There’s even three beautiful large miniatures incuded; one for the expedition and two for the Bigfoot and Leviathan, which can be played to block map routes.

Isla Dorada

Painted Isla Dorada miniatures (supplied unpainted in the game).

I thoroughly enjoyed playing these two games and they’ll definitely be seeing more table time in the future. It just goes to show that occasionally you have to step back from the ‘new stuff’ and have a look at what else is out there. That’s why these articles will be here to keep you updated with games you might have missed! Good gaming!

You can find rules summaries and reference sheets for both of the games at my blog if you follow these links: Conquest of Planet Earth and Isla Dorada.

Braaaainnnnssss…!!!!

Zombies

I recently started watching the new series The Walking Dead on DVD, which I highly recommend for zombie fans out there, and felt inspired to write an article looking at some of the many zombie-themed boardgames available. The shuffling, shambling, brain-eating living dead just never seem to get old in popular culture, and the boardgame world has no shortage of games where you can try to survive during the zombie apocalypse!

ZombiesOf course the first game that springs to mind is the endless series from Twilight Creations called—you guessed it—Zombies!!! Kicking off with Zombies!!! Second Edition, which is justifiably famous for including 100 plastic zombies in the box. No one ever said Zombies!!! was a groundbreaking game, but when it comes to basic, straightforward zombie-killin’ action nobody does it better. It’s one of those games that cries out for variant rules and fan-made extras, and you can even find completely re-worked rules systems for the game online that make it a little less luck-based and, I think, even more fun.

The great thing about Zombies!!! is the zombies, and you get a pile of them, and for even more fun, you can get yourself a bag of glow-in-the-dark zombies and turn out the lights! The artwork on the cards and tiles is good, and with the number of expansions available you could probably built an entire city’s worth of zombie killing field. At last count there were nine themed expansions! Everything from classic trapped-in-the-mall scenarios (Zombies!!! 3: Mall Walkers) to high school madness (Zombies!!! 5: School’s Out Forever!) to undead clowns at the carnival (Zombies!!! 7: Send in the Clowns), and Twilight Creations show no sign of stopping..

For something a little more detailed, the king of B-movie zombieness has to be Last Night on Earth by Flying Frog Games. Set in the sleepy town of Woodinvale, players are B-movie hero archetypes—the priest, the prom queen, the farmer’s daughter, the drifter, to name just a few—banding together to fight for their lives. Eight different scenarios and modular board recreate classic scenes—the desperate race for the truck, the barricading of the manor house, the search for guns and ammo. All the time, unending waves of zombies spread over the town like a plague! So put down that popcorn, grab your shotgun, and hide your brain; the zombies are coming and this could be your last night on earth!

This hilarious and fun game has spawned some excellent expansions: Growing Hunger introduces new game mechanics and three exciting new scenarios to challenge players, as well as a two player mini-game. Four new Heroes and seven new red zombies, new modular game board sections, and new game cards are included, plus lots of new counters and extra bits so you can create your own scenarios. You can expand both your hero options and your zombie types with the Hero Pack 1 and Zombies with Grave Weapons. All the miniatures are really nicely sculptured and a fully painted game of Last Night on Earth is as immersive as you’d ever want to get!

Zombie DiceZombie Dice is a quick, easy-to-learn and fun dice game by the makers of Munchkin (I did mention Munchkin Zombies, right?) Each game only takes 10-20 minutes and includes 13 custom dice which are your victims—push your luck to eat their brains, but stop rolling before the shotgun blasts end your turn!

Steve Jackson Games also make Give Me The Brain Game, a fun and chaotic cardgame filler (excuse the pun) in which players take on the roles of zombies in a fast-food restaurant in hell. They all have to complete a number of tasks before leaving work, and the work keeps piling on. Even worse, some of the tasks require basic intelligence—and there’s only one brain to go around!

In All Things Zombie, players are survivors fighting tactical battles in a devastated world populated with zombies. It’s designed to appeal to both strategy gamers and roleplayers alike. Whether searching a police station for guns and ammo, gunning down hordes of zombies, or blasting through a running gun battle with other not-so-nice-survivors, All Things Zombie will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Which brings me to the exciting news: Z-Man Games have announced The Walking Dead Board Game! Based on the orginal comic by Robert Kirkman, this promises to be another worthy addition to a genre that just won’t lay down and die—zombies!

The Aliens Are Among Us!

Conquest of Planet Earth

Conquest of Planet EarthFlying Frog Games continue their habit of releasing excellent games with extremely long and unwieldy titles with the brand new Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game—available now!

This is the first time Flying Frog have not used their trademark photographs-of-actors illustration style—instead the game is full of colourful, comic-style illustration that goes well with the classic theme of alien conquest and conflict.

Fans of Tim Burton’s film Mars Attacks! (now that’s a much catchier title!) will feel right at home in this game. It is the 1950s, and a massive alien armada has emerged from the deepest reaches of space with a single goal… to conquer the planet Earth! But mankind will not be swept away easily. As wave upon wave of alien saucers descend from the heavens to unleash total destruction, Captain Fantastic, Earth’s mightiest superhero, rallies humanity’s defenses. Flying saucers dogfight with jet fighters over the skies of the capitol and heavy army tanks roll through the streets to defend against waves of robotic soldiers and tentacled alien fiends.

Though the primitive humans are ripe for defeat, the aliens may be their own worst enemy. Old rivalries flare and ambitions ignite amongst the varied alien races of the armada as they do anything to gain the favor of their Overseer masters, including undermining and betraying one another to ultimately achieve the sole glory of… the Conquest of Planet Earth!

Flying Frog are known for their atmospheric, immersive games based on classic fantasy and science-fiction themes—Last Night on Earth: The Supernatural Game, A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game, and the recent Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game. Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game marks a bit of a departure for the company. Instead of playing characters fighting zombies, alien invaders or supernatural monsters, each player is a different alien race—there are ten classic, campy alien sterotypes to choose from, from space amazons to robots to humanoid lizards—competing to create the most terror in the human population to score a victory. Your race will have a number of actions each turn to explore the modular board (discovering the size of the human population and the strength of their defenses), and fight the endless platoons of human soldiers and their primitive military technology. They do have a couple of tricks up their human sleeve however, including a superhero and the dreaded atomic bomb! There might even be time for a bit of alien backstabbing along the way to get ahead of the other invaders!

There are also two ways to play Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game: competitively and co-operatively. In the challenging co-operative game the alien races must work together to defeat the humans. A special Human Resistance track keeps track of the strength of the humans and their efforts to fight back. And finally, the co-operative game has a solo play mode!

Not only is there a lot of variety in the way you can play the game, but the box is chock-full of fantastic components of the quality we’ve come to expect from Flying Frog—glossy full colour illustrated cards, detailed plastic miniatures, and of course the ubiquitous CD soundtrack of original music!

Like all Flying Frog games, this is a random, crazy, fun game, so put your ‘Euro’ mechanics and deep strategies on hold, and plunge into the fast-paced raygun-toting, death-ray blasting, alien-invading fun of Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game!

Contents
1 Full Color Rulebook
5 Game Board Sections
20 High-detail Plastic Miniatures Featuring:
4 Green Player Saucers
4 Blue Player Saucers
4 Red Player Saucers
4 Gold Player Saucers
4 Unique Ally Figures in Grey
70 Card Event Deck
35 Card Resistance Deck
25 Card Space Stuff Deck
35 Card Location Deck
6 Card Human Tech Deck
1 Double-Sided Objective Location Card
10 Large Alien Race Sheets
1 Large Resistance Phase Sheet
4 Reference Cards
8 Small White Dice
8 Small Red Dice
1 CD Soundtrack of Original Music
3 Sheets of Full Color Die-cut Counters

Fantastic Flying Frog

If you think loads of atmosphere, a big helping of luck, and lots of laughs make great gaming, then you’ve probably already discovered Flying Frog Games, a relative newcomer on the gaming scene that has made a huge splash with its cinematic games and photographic art style.

Flying Frog first hit the gaming scene with a loud cry of “Braaaaaains!” in 2007 with the B-movie zombie fun of Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game, and the game was an instant hit. There have been a lot of zombie games over the years, but Last Night of Earth really focuses on re-creating all those iconic moments from classics such as the George Romero zombie movies and numerous 80s horror flicks. As the human player, you get to control sterotypical characters such as the local sheriff and the high school sweetheart, and as the zombie player—well, you get to control hordes of shuffling zombies, of course! They may move slowly at only one square per turn, but they’re relentless and they come in great numbers… and your hero may even turn into one if things turn nasty!

The rules are easy to learn. Hero characters move a number of spaces equal to the roll of a six-sided dice per turn, or can search and draw a card from the Hero deck if they spend their turn in a building. Heroes and zombies in the same square must fight, and the zombie player can draw new zombie cards each turn and spawn new zombies if he rolls higher than the number of zombies on the board on two dice. The zombie and hero cards are the meat—excuse the pun—of the game, and lead to all kinds of special events, frequently hilarious, along with providing the heroes with various items to aid them in beating back the tide of undead.

As for hero characters, you can choose from Becky the Nurse; Father Joseph, Man of the Cloth; Johnny, the High School Quarterback; Billy the Sheriff’s Son; Sheriff Anderson, Small Town Lawman; Jenny the Farmer’s Daughter; Jake Cartwright the Drifter; Sally the High School Sweetheart. They’re all represented on the board by high-quality plastic miniatures. As are fourteen horrible zombies in three different sculpts.

The game can be played with a simple ‘kill or be killed’ scenario, or there are four special scenarios that really enhance the gameplay: Defend the Manor House, Save the Townsfolk, Burn ’Em Out! or Escape in the Truck. The latter scenario is perfect for those ‘dropping the car keys just as the zombies are about to kill you’ moments!

Of course any successful game these days just cries out for expansions, and Flying Frog hasn’t disappointed on that score. In addition to new scenarios and villains available for download on their website, they released a first expansion the following year: Growing Hunger. Sam, the Dinner Cook; Kenny, Supermarket Bag Boy; Rachelle Winters, Detective; and Amanda the Prom Queen join the battle, along with more zombies of course—seven of them. Three new scenarios—Zombie Apocalypse, Plague Carriers and Burn it to the Ground!, two additional boards, and lots of extra cards and counters complete the expansion.

But the expansions don’t stop there! Last Night on Earth: Survival of the Fittest includes three new card decks that feature unique items, grave weapons and survival tactics (seventy-six cards in all), four new scenarios and four counter sheets. Last Night on Earth: Hero Pack 1 has four new heroes: Stacy the Investigative Reporter; Mr. Goddard the Chemistry Teacher; Jade the High School Outcast; and Victor the Escaped Prisoner; along with a new scenario and ten new cards. Last Night on Earth: Zombies with Grave Weapons Miniature Set features fourten new plastic zombie miniatures in seven sculpts: the Crawling Torso, Machete, Old Pitchfork, Rusty Axe, Wrapped in Barbed Wire, Bloated Body, and Sickle. Aaaargh!

Of course, if you have a bit of painting experience you can really enhance the appearance of the game. Here are my hero miniatures from the base set, fully painted (note the miniatures in the game come unpainted):

If you’re a fan of the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow—and it’s one of my all-time favourites—then you’ll love A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game (2008). Though keeping the photographic style, this is quite a different game from Last Night on Earth. It’s set in America at the dawn of the 19th century—an age of science, superstition and witchcraft—and the hero characters can either co-operate or act independently to track down and destroy the supernatural villain that is threatening the secluded village of Shadowbrook. There are several villains to choose from that give the game a different flavour every time: the Scarecrow, the Vampire, the Werewolf, or of course the classic Spectral Horseman. As for the dauntless heroes, you can choose from Karl the Soldier; Inspector Cooke; Isabella von Took, Noble Woman; Thomas the Courier; Victor Danforth, Playwright; Anne Marie the School Teacher; Heinrich Cartwright, Drifter; or Katarina the Outlaw. In addition, there are six Town Elders who may help or hinder you on your quest, and who may have dark secrets of their own that must be uncovered …

In the expansion A Touch of Evil: Something Wicked the terror reaches out into the countryside; with the help of new heroes (Valeria the Vampire, Brother Marcus, Eliza the Witch Hunter and Captain Hawkins), the players must confront villains such as the Unspeakable Horror, the Banshee, the Gargoyle and the Bog Fiend. The expansion features an additional board depicting Echo Lake and the locations around it that is added to the main game board, and of course a plethora of new cards and counters.

Finally, A Touch of Evil: Hero Pack 1 gives you even more heroes and their miniatures: Adrianna the Foreign Traveler, Harlow Morgan the Inventor, Lucy Hanbrook, and the infamous highwayman, The Scarlet Shadow; plus a new villain, the dreaded Necromancer.

Here are my hero miniatures from the base set, fully painted (note the miniatures in the game come unpainted):

The newest game from the Flying Frog workshop is Invasion From Outer Space: The Martian Game (2010). Creepy little Martians—complete with clear plastic helmets—invade a 1940s circus, and the motley crew of circus performers are the first line of defence for planet Earth. There are definitely some Tim Burton fans at Flying Frog, because the Martians are reminiscent of the ones in his film Mars Attacks.

The circus performers—in Flying Frog style, played by actors—include Angelica the Bearded Woman; Lucrezia the Contortionist; Cassidy the Trickshooter; R. J. Flannigan, Ringmaster; Carl the Strongman; Archibald the Human Cannonball, Hannah the Firebreather, and finally Jo Jo the Dancing Bear. Arrayed against them are eighteen Martian Soldiers, a Martian Champion, and the huge and intimidating Zard Beast. You can play the basic Invasion scenario to get started, then try out Abduction, where the Martians try and kidnap human allies from the various circus buildings; “Wipe Them Out!”, where Martians attempt to obliterate four groups of the crowds that are running screaming about the fairground; “Blow ’Em Out of the Sky!”, where the humans must destroy three flying saucers with the cannons placed around the board; and Unleashed, where a flying saucer has crashed and a Super Zard Beast is running riot!

Invasion features some new mechanics—the Martian player has several options on his turn, from receiving reinforcements to building new tech Like the Death Ray—and there are also additional rules for fires and crowds. The great news is there are comprehensive rules for combining Invasion and Last Night on Earth, so you can also play games of Zombies at the Carnival and Martians in the Small Town—or just mix and match the bits you like—if you own both games. No doubt further expansions won’t be long in coming!

Finally, here are my hero miniatures from Invasion From Outer Space, fully painted (note the miniatures in the game come unpainted):

As you can see, there’s a lot of variety and replay value in Flying Frog Games. Add that to well-sculpted miniatures that are perfect for painting, high quality components, and easy rules, and you’ve got some of the most entertaining games around. And as a bonus, each game comes with a CD of ‘background music’ composed by Mary Beth Magallanes to get you in the mood. When it comes to theme, Flying Frog can’t be beaten!

by Universal Head

For more information about these games, visit Flying Frog Games and BoardgameGeek. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for all of these games (Invasion coming soon!) at Headless Hollow.

Universal Head has been designing for clients across the globe for more than 20 years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for boardgames.

More Halloween Favourites

Halloween is fast approaching, and it’s time for another look at the best horror and supernatural-themed games out there for your special Halloween gaming night! We’ve already had a look at the Sleepy Hollow creepiness of A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game, and the B-movie zombie madness of Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game; now it’s time for a bit of classic haunted house mayhem with the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill (shipping this week!) and the classic Dracula-hunting fun of Fury of Dracula.

Betrayal at House on the Hill was first released by Avalon Hill in 2004, and the brand new second edition should be getting close to the virtual shelves of Games Paradise as you read this. If you’re a fan of those classic 80s horror movies like Fright Night, Poltergeist, Nightmare on Elm Street and Re-Animator, this will be just the thing for that scary Halloween gaming! The victims, sorry, I mean players, each play a character entering and exploring a haunted mansion built up with room tiles; encountering omens and gathering items. Pretty standard stuff so far. But at some point during the game, everything gets turned on its head as the Haunt begins! One of the players will be revealed as the traitor, and from then on the game is played according to the special rules in one of 50—that’s right, 50—different classic horror scenarios.

There were a few issues with some of the rules in the first edition—for example, the classic one where an underground lake could be encountered on the second floor of the house—but all that has been fixed and streamlined with the new edition, which upgrades the components and even adds a few new scenarios. The amazing thing about Betrayal is its replayability. While the initial phase of the game can be quite similar, once the Haunt begins all bets are off and you never know what particular blend of villain, beasties, and special conditions you might come up against. Also of course, with a game like this chock full of classic horror movie clichés and characters, there’s opportunity aplenty to share your favourite movie quotes, show off your bad accent, and generally extend the whole experience into a roleplaying game experience. Perfect for Halloween!

Perhaps you like something a little more serious however … a little more classic. And what could be more classic than Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the game based on the book—Fury of Dracula? Definitely one of my all-time favourites, I have great memories of playing this one (in the original 1980s Games Workshop edition) late at night with friends on the night of a full moon and by the light of flickering candles.

Luckily, Fantasy Flight Games re-vamped (you knew it was coming, didn’t you) the original and brought this fantastic game back to gaming tables everywhere in 2006. If you’ve ever donned a cape and plastic fangs, you’ll know the fun of playing Dracula, and this game lets you wield his evil influence over Victorian Europe as you move from London to Transylvania and everywhere in between, laying traps, setting red herrings and delaying tactics, gathering and unleashing your human and animal minions—all to thwart Van Helsing, Mina Harker, Lord Godalming, and Dr. Seward as they follow hot on your heels. You’ll use an ingenious system of cards to lay down your trail, but all your movement is done in secret. It’s that secret movement, and the fun of putting horrific obstacles in the path of the other co-operating players, that makes being the Dracula player in this game such a huge amount of fun. You’ll gloat, cackle and make mw ha haaa haaaaa noises as you set down each card, watching the other players desparately try and beat you to the next location to drive a stake through your heart.

Every gamer should have a copy of Fury of Dracula in their collection, and it’s my personal favourite for Halloween gaming. But next time, we’ll have a look another excellent contender for the perfect creepy game—FFG’s classic Lovecraftian masterpiece, Arkham Horror…

by Universal Head

For more information about these games, visit Fantasy Flight Games, Wizards of the Coast and BoardgameGeek. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for both of these games at Headless Hollow.

Universal Head has been designing for clients across the globe for more than 20 years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for boardgames.

Halloween Favourites

Trick or treating is all very well, but if you ask me the best way to pass the time on the night of All Hallow’s Eve is with some good friends and a creepy boardgame! Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at some boardgame favourites that are perfect for conjuring up the Halloween atmosphere.

In fact gaming is a time-honoured part of Halloween celebrations; for example bobbing for apples, or old semi-witchcraft rites to try to discover the name of one’s future spouse. Getting friends together to tell ghost stories is traditional, and would be an excellent accompaniment to a boardgame. Why not make a night of it and prepare some Halloween-themed food and drinks, and put up some decorations. Just don’t get the spider webs too close to the candle flames!

A great place to start your gaming would be with the Flying Frog game A Touch of Evil: the Supernatural Game (2008). If you’re a fan of the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow you’ll especially enjoy this atmospheric game. Set in the early 19th century in the small village of Shadowbrook, players take on the roles of unique heroes—perhaps Katarina, the outlaw, Victor Danforth, the playwright, or Cooke, the police inspector—trying to hunt down and destroy the villain, which could be either a vampire, scarecrow, werewolf or even the classic spectral headless horseman. You’ll be exploring the environs of Shadowbrook trying to build up your strength for the final confrontation and collect items to help you, and uncovering the hidden secrets of the town elders, who may help or hinder you in your battle with the supernatural villain.

A Touch of Evil can be played co-operatively and competitively, and the variety of villains, each with special powers and themed minions to do their evil bidding, makes for a different game every time. Things get even better if you add the expansion set,  Something Wicked. Not only does this add more heroes and more villains (the bog fiend, gargoyle, banshee and the Unspeakable Horror), but there’s also an additional board, a slew of new variants, and even solo rules.

Both games come with beautifully sculpted plastic figures for the heroes, which I highly recommend painting for the full experience.

While we’re looking at Flying Frog games, we can’t go past their debut game (and another perfect Halloween indulgence), Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game (2007). As well all know, zombies and Halloween go together like toffee and apples, and this game can’t be beat for the authentic B-movie zombie experience. The game is similar in many ways to A Touch of Evil: players are characters straight out of a zombie movie—Sally the high school sweetheart, Jenny the farmer’s daughter, Sheriff Anderson the small town law man, Father Joseph the man of the cloth—and depending on the game scenario, must survive the depredations of hordes of shuffling undead! Whether you’re trying to escape in the truck (“where are those keys!?”) or defend the manor house (“hold them off!”), you can guarantee that some of the players are going to get munched on before the night is over. It’s a hilarious game and perfect for Halloween laughs.

Of course, there are expansions—the big box Growing Hunger, which adds more heroes, zombies and scenarios, variants and special rules; and a series of small packs that add more figures: the Hero Pack, Survival of the Fittest, and Zombies with Grave Weapons. If you go the Flying Frog website here, you’ll even find a downloadable All Hallows Eve scenario. Perfect!

Come back next time for some more creepy Halloween gaming options; by the time October 31st comes around, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

by Universal Head

For more information about Flying Frog games, visit their website and BoardgameGeek. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for both of these games at Headless Hollow.


Universal Head, has been designing for clients across the globe for more than twenty years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

Upcoming Games

I keep several boardgaming-related websites in my bookmarks list so I can keep an eye on the next batch of games that are in development or on their way. The big North American gaming convention GenCon has recently come and gone in Indianapolis, so a lot of new games saw their debut at the show. Here’s a quick look at some of the new games that should be out this year or early next year.

Fantasy Flight Games is, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now, my favourite publisher, and they have a stack of new goodies in the pipeline for release this year (hopefully). The two surprise announcements recently were Dust Tactics and Cadwallon: City of Thieves. These  were originally to be published by Dust Games, but that company suddenly found themselves short on the resources required, so have done a deal with FFG to hand over the games. Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures boardgame set in an alternative 1940s world created by the comic book artist Paolo Parente. It’s been in the works for a surprisingly long time; originally it was to be released by Rackham Entertainment, who then went on to release AT-43 instead. Dust Tactics is quite a spectacular-looking product, featuring over thirty detailed, individually-sculpted miniatures (including four huge tank/walker figures). The initial game consists of eight scenarios fought on a set of cardboard terrain tiles (with some model terrain), but later there will be a set of rules released for fighting battles on a tabletop, like a normal miniatures game.

The miniatures in the game come primed in a flat colour which you can paint, if you desire, but there is also a Collector’s Edition set on the way, with all the miniatures fully painted to an incredibly high standard. The Collector’s Edition will be pricey, but for the non-painters, I’m sure it will be worth it.

There are already plans for several expansion sets to the core game of course; introducing such things as artillery robots, strange creatures, new heroes, aircraft, and even an alien race, the Vrills. It’s all shaping up to be an amazing system, and it will be interesting to see the reaction to the core set and watch the future of this game.

The other game to arrive at FFG from Dust Games is Cadwallon: City of Thieves. This fast-paced boardgame of thievery and skulduggery is set in the Rackham fantasy city of Cadwallon, the subject of a short lived roleplaying/combat game. It’s a perfect addition to the FFG stable, with gorgeous art and miniatures dripping with character. You lead a gang of thieves sneaking about a district of Cadwallon, grabbing loot and avoiding the militiamen hot on your tail. Individual scenarios bring variety to the game play. Again, the miniatures are not pre-painted, but you’ll be able to buy a separate set of painted miniatures if you so choose.

Another exciting game from FFG in the works is a Space Hulk-themed cooperative card game set in the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 universe, called Space Hulk Death Angel: The Card Game. This will accommodate anywhere from 1-6 players, and sees you taking Blood Angel Terminator combat teams into the twisting labyrinthine corridors of an abandoned space hulk, to join combat with the horrific alien Genestealers. The game is playable in under and hour and comes in a small ‘Silver Line’ box. This looks like a great choice if you feel like a quick, theme-rich game experience.

Sticking with card games, there are two more on the way from FFG: The Lord of the Rings Card Game and The Blood Bowl Team Manager Card Game. There’s very little information yet about the latter but it’s certainly exciting news for Blood Bowl fans, and I certainly count myself a member of that group! Apparently it will be a frenzied game of deck-building for 2-4 players, and you can choose from Human, Dwarf, Wood Elf, Orc, Skaven, or Chaos factions and play through an entire season. The LotR Card Game will be another of FFG’s very successful Living Card Games, so they’ll be a long series of expansion card packs after the 216-card core set. 1-2 players (or more if you buy a couple of core sets) cooperate to select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts and complete quests in the land of Middle-Earth. Players can shape their decks to create their favourite combination of spheres of influence: leadership, lore, spirit and tactics. It looks like they’ll be lots of spectacular artwork and a huge amount of variety in this game, and hopefully it will be a must for any gamer who’s a fan of Tolkein’s world.

But wait! There’s more. The long-awaited return of the Games Workshop classic, Dungeonquest, is imminent. Anyone who played this cut-throat game back in the 80s knows that it’s tough work surviving that dungeon—but that’s all the fun. FFG have re-themed the game to set it in their world of Terrinoth (and cleverly cross-marketed the new characters by supplying components for them for Descent, Runebound and Runewars). Dungeonquest is a fast and fun game of dungeon exploration for 1-4 players.

Keep an eye peeled for some other FFG games on the horizon as well: Bruno Faidutti’s magnum opus, Isla Dorada, two army expansions for Battles of Westeros, various expansions for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games, a quick card game called Dragonheart, Kevin Wilson’s new game, Civilization: The Board Game (inspired by Sid Meier’s video games), a new small-box version of the classic Lord of the Rings Board Game by Reiner Knizia, the new Tide of Iron expansion Fury of the Bear, and a new expansion for Talisman called The Sacred Pool. Not to mention the usual regular Living Card Game releases.

Well, there are other game companies in the world apart from FFG I admit, and another company with a hectic release schedule for 2010 is Z-Man Games. The company is known for releasing an eclectic mix of titles of all different styles and themes. Check out this list of titles: Earth Reborn, Parade, Burrows, The King Commands!, Power Struggle, Magical Athlete, Malta!, Prolix, Kings & Things, Mines of Zavandor, Trollhalla, Inca Empire, Pocket Battles: Orc vs Elves, and De Vulgari Eloquentia. Whew!

There’s certainly been some buzz about the new game from Christophe Boelinger, the creator of Dungeon Twister. It’s called Earth Reborn and it’s a post-apocalyptic scenario-based tactical combat game. It’s also one of the first forays by Z-Man Games into the world of plastic miniatures, and the ones that come with the game are looking mighty impressive. Parade is a quick 30 minute curious card game by Naoki Homma for 2-6 players. Hansa Teutonica is a tense game of route manipulation and economics by Andreas Steding for 2-5 players; players are merchants jostling for position and standing in the Hanseatic League. Power Struggle is a game about becoming the top-dog in a corporate empire by reaching milestones in investing, corruption, influence and position. In Burrows, you’ll find yourself trying to keep a group of fussy Gophers well-housed, using tiles to build a twisted network of burrows. Bottle Imp is a trick taking card game by Gunter Cornett. And of course, don’t forget the car-racing mayhem of Road Kill Rally; the new game by the creator of Duel in the Dark, Duel of the Giants, a tank-battle game; pirate fun with Merchants & Marauders; and a real-time strategy computer game-inspired game called The Ares Project. Zev from Z-Man must be run off his feet!

As for other publishers, there’s a new game coming from Asmodee and Antoine Bauza (Ghost Stories, Mystery Express) called 7 Wonders, a a civilization-building card game. Wizards of the Coast are releasing a Dungeons & Dragons board game called Castle Ravenloft that looks to be a classic dungeoncrawler with a simplified set of D&D 4th Edition mechanics. And Flying Frog Productions, makers of Last Night on Earth and A Touch of Evil, continue their series of crazy, fun games with photographic art with their new one, Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game, which pits alien invaders against circus freaks in a Tim Burtonesque carnival.

Well, if that lot doesn’t keep gamers happy I don’t know what will! There’s obviously no shortage whatsoever of great games on the way—all we need do now is somehow find the time to play as many as possible …

by Universal Head

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit the publisher sites or BoardgameGeek (www.boardgamegeek.com). There is a Dust Tactics site at www.dust-tactics.com. Z-Man Games can be previewed at www.zmangames.com. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for many games at Headless Hollow (www.headlesshollow.com/freebies_games.html).

Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing for clients across the globe for more than twenty years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.