Rhado Runs Through . . . A Burning Forest!

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Rhado reviews Hotshots

If you’re not familiar with “Rhado Runs Through” it’s a video series created by Rhado that takes a look at a board game from the player’s point of view and tries to really capture the feel of what it’s like to play the game. He talks through what choices he’s making and why, so it goes a bit beyond just a rules overview.

Recently, he sat down and played a rousing game of Hotshots, and you can watch that playthrough right here:

 

He then made a second video where he gives his final thoughts, and not to spoil anything, but he starts his video by calling it a “fun, very solid, cooperative, push your luck game.”

 

We’re thrilled that Rhado enjoyed the game, and we hope this gives you a fun peek at what it’s like to try to fight the fire!

Gearing Up for Gen Con

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Gen-Con-Logo

Wow, it feels like we were just at Origins, and it’s time for Gen Con! Our plans are coming together smoothly, and we can’t wait to see you all there.

Gen-Con-Logo

 

Drop by and hang out with us in booth 1349. We’ll have fun showing you our new games, giving out promos for those games, and offering you some special convention deals. We’ll even have limited quantities of both Hotshots and Kaiju Crush available for sale.

GenCon-Games

Demos: If you are looking to try out our new games, Hotshots and Kaiju Crush, we can set you up. We’ll also have demos of Here, Kitty, Kitty! and Dastardly Dirigibles, quick games that will keep you going.

GenCon-Promos

Promos: With a demo or purchase of our new games, you can pick up the special River Tile promo for Hotshots and the Oblique-Checkerboard promo card for Kaiju Crush.

Deals: In addition to all of the games in our catalog, we will have bundles, jewelry for Here, Kitty, Kitty!, a special discount bin, and promo specials.

 

Bundles

  • Panic expansion bundle: $45                                                                                                                                                                                    (includes The Wizard’s Tower, The Dark Titan, and Engines of War)
  • Small box bundle: $50                                                                                                                                                                                                (Here, Kitty, Kitty!, Dastardly Dirigibles, and Bears!)

 

Here, Kitty, Kitty!

Earrings and Necklaces

  • 1 for $15
  • 2 for $25
  • 3 for $30

 

Discount Bin

  • 1 for $15
  • 2+ for $10 each

 

Promos

  • 1 for $5
  • 2+ for $3 each

Events: And if that’s not enough, we’ll have ticketed events with all of the following games in Hall D through Double Exposure. (Thank you, guys!) Players will be given a coupon worth $5 on a purchase of $25 or more.

  • Castle Panic
  • Here, Kitty, Kitty!
  • Dastardly Dirigibles
  • Bears!
  • Dead Panic
  • Munchkin Panic
  • The Village Crone

 

We’re so excited to see you there! Safe travels!

International Panic Weekend

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International Panic Weekend 2017

(UPDATED 6/23)

For a variety of reasons, we had decided not to celebrate International Panic Day this year, but after a groundswell of requests, we thought a small-scale event would be nice. One thing led to another, and now we are thrilled to report that between June 29 and July 2, we will have 137 stores spanning 44 states and 3 countries opening their doors and teaching people how to play Castle Panic and Munchkin Panic.

For the event, we’ve created a new Castle Panic promo, called Fickle Fortune.  And for Munchkin Panic, we have the original Bookmark of Free Masonry.

Panic Day Promos 2017

To see if there is a participating store near you, check out the list below. Have a great time playing Castle Panic and Munchkin Panic. Enjoy the day and the promos!

 

Alabama

Quality Collectibles (Jasper)

Gamers N Geeks (Mobile)

Game Time Hobbies (Opelika)

 

Alaska

Gateway Games (Ketchikan)

 

Arkansas

Dragon’s Keep Gaming Room (Fayetteville)

Mena Game Lounge (Mena)

Imagine! Hobbies & Games (Sherwood)

 

Arizona

Imperial Outpost Games (Glendale)

WesterCon 70 (Tempe)

 

California

Paladin’s Game Castle (Bakersfield)

Games of Berkeley (Berkeley)

Crazy Squirrel Gaming Store (Fresno)

The Dice House (Fullerton)

Comic Quest (Lake Forest)

At Ease Games (San Diego)

Empire Collectables (San Diego)

Crazy Fred’s (San Diego)

Pair A Dice Games (Vista)

 

Colorado

Shep’s Games (Aurora)

 

Connecticut

Your Friendly Neighborhood Tabletop Shop (Newington)

 

Florida

Gods & Monsters (Orlando)

Kitchen Table Games (St. Petersburg)

 

Georgia

Tyche’s Games (Athens)

Quest Comic Shop (Carrollton)

 

Hawaii

Other Realms Ltd (Honolulu)

The Armchair Adventurer (Honolulu)

 

Idaho

Safari Pearl Comics (Moscow)

Infinite Heroes Games (Nampa)

 

Illinois

Castle Perilous Games & Books (Carbondale)

Da Sorce (Chicago)

Fair Game (Downers Grove)

 

Indiana

Reader Copies (Anderson)

Better World Books (Goshen)

Castle Comics and Cards (Lafayette)

 

Iowa

The Hobby Corner (Iowa City)

 

Kansas

Boom Comic Shop (Lawrence)

Collector’s Cache by Feral Events (Olathe)

 

Kentucky

Hobby Town (Bowling Green)

Comics 2 Games (Florence)

 

Lousiana

Plus 1 Gaming (Metairie)

Mechacon 2017 (New Orleans)

 

Maryland

Xpanding Universe (Aberdeen)

Canton Games (Baltimore)

Play More Games (Gaithersburg)

Dream Wizards (Rockville)

 

Massachusetts

Round Table Games (Carver)

Greenfield Games (Greenfield)

 

Michigan

Acropolis Games (Adrian)

Dreams of Conquest (Bay City)

TC Paintball (Traverse City)

TC War Room (Traverse City)

Imperium Games (Wixom)

 

Mississippi

maCnarB Gaming (Gautier)

Tupelo Sportscards and Games (Tupelo)

 

Missouri

Capital City’s Game Emporium (Jefferson City)

CCYDNE Hobbies (Lebanon)

 

Minnesota

Lionheart Games (Waite Park)

 

Montana

Orion’s Keep Games (Hamilton)

 

Nebraska

The Game Shoppe (Bellevue)

Game On – Grand Island (Grand Island)

Game On – Kearney (Kearney)

Hobbytown USA (Lincoln)

Gauntlet Games (Lincoln)

Game On – McCook (McCook)

Game On – North Platte (North Platte)

The Game Shoppe (Omaha)

 

Nevada

Little Shop of Magic (Las Vegas)

Games Galore (Reno)

 

New Hampshire

Double Midnight Comics (Concord)

The Relentless Dragon (Nashua)

 

New Jersey

The Bearded Dragon Games (Bernardsville)

Arcana Toys, Games, and Hobbies (Washington)

 

New Mexico

Zia Comics and Games (Las Cruces)

 

New York

Alterniverse (Hyde Park)

The Game Gamut (Pittsford)

The Arena (West Babylon)

Freakopolis Geekery Inc. (Whitehall)

 

North Carolina

Hillside Games (Asheville)

The Spot (Newton)

Red Door Games (Richlands)

The Comic Monstore (Salisbury)

DreamDaze Comics, Fun, & Games, Inc. (Wilson)

3 Blind Dice (Winston-Salem)

 

North Dakota

Force of Habit Hobby Shop (Minot)

 

Ohio

Sci-Fi City (Cincinnati)

The Rook OTR (Cincinnati)

Flying Monkey Comics and Games (Delaware)

Beyond the Board (Dublin)

Fun Factory (Mt. Gilead)

Barnes & Noble (Pickerington)

Checkmate (Toledo)

 

Oregon

Funagain Games (Eugene)

Guardian Games (Portland)

 

Pennsylvania

Mister J’s Asylum (Muncy)

Six Feet Under Games (New Holland)

AnthroCon (Pittsburg)

The Games Keep (West Chester)

 

South Carolina

Firefly Toys & Games (Columbia)

Boardwalk Games (Greenville)

 

Tennessee

Pair A Dice Games (Athena)

The Game Cave (Hermitage)

 

Texas

Wonko’s Toys and Games (Austin)

Clockwork Games & Events (College Station)

Cards and Comics Connection (Conroe)

Dragon’s Lair (Houston)

Ettin Games (Houston)

Flash Candy and Toys (Lockhart)

Three Suns Unlimited (Longview)

Sockmonkey Junction (Mansfield)

Fleur Fine Books (Port Neches)

The Gaming Goat (Spring)

Gerard’s Gaming and LAN Center (Webster)

 

Utah

Gunjah The Bead Forest (Cedar City)

Game Grid (Layton)

Blackfyre Games (Pleasant Grove)

High Gear Games & Hobbies (Salt Lake City)

Gameland World (Spanish Fork)

 

Virginia

The Island Games (Centreville)

 

Washington

Mox Boarding House (Bellevue)

Uncle’s Games, Puzzles, & More—CrossRoads Mall (Bellevue)

Diversified Games (Chehalis)

Fantasium Comics & Games (Federal Way)

Uncle’s Games, Puzzles, & More—Redmond Town Center (Redmond)

Shane’s Big League (Renton)

The Comic Book Shop (Spokane)

Uncle’s Games, Puzzles, & More—Downtown Spokane (Spokane)

Uncle’s Games, Puzzles, & More—Spokane Valley Mall (Spokane Valley)

Uncle’s Games, Puzzles, & More—Tacoma Mall (Tacoma)

 

Wisconsin

Lake Geneva Games (Lake Geneva)

Let’s Play (at the Gnome Games booth) (Appleton)

Pegasus Games (Madison)

 

West Virginia

Nerd Rage – Morgantown (Morgantown)

J and M’s Used Bookstore (Parkersburg)

 

Wyoming

Games of Chance (Riverton)

Games of Chance – Flying Eagle Location (Riverton)

 

Canada

Dragon’s Den Games (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

 

New Zealand

King of Cards (Auckland)

 

Origins Fun Planned

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We can’t believe Origins is next week! We’re so excited to see everyone there. Come by booth 106 for free demos of Hotshots and Kaiju Crush (our new games this year), free promos and coupons for $5 off each game purchased, and special discount and sale items. We’ll also have play events every night in the Gaming Hall.

 

 

Demos: Be among the first to play our new games Hotshots and Kaiju Crush! Although they won’t be for sale until later this year, you can check them out at Origins. We’ll also have easy, step-by-step, self-guided demos of Bears! and Here, Kitty, Kitty! if you haven’t played those games.

Promos: Stop by to pick up the special River Tile promo for Hotshots and the Siphon Portal promo tile for Kaiju Crush. We’ll also give away the following promos with the purchase of the games they support.

  • Here, Kitty, Kitty!: Milkshake
  • Dastardly Dirigibles: Smoke Bomb
  • The Village Crone: Silver coaster
  • Castle Panic: 2017 ITTD Tower
  • The Wizard’s Tower: Crossbow coaster
  • The Dark Titan: Agranok Level 6
  • Engines of War: Jury Rig
  • Dead Panic: Laser Sight
  • Munchkin Panic: Potion of Mwahahaha!
  • Bloodsuckers: Midnight Sun
  • Bears! and Trail Mix’d: Alarm Clock and scoring sheets

Deals: In addition to receiving $5 off coupons for every game purchased at our booth, we will have discounted games and special items for sale.

  • Dead Panic: $30 (reg. $40)
  • Munchkin Panic: $25 (reg. $40)
  • The Village Crone: $30 (reg. $50)
  • Bloodsuckers: $20 (reg. $40)
  • 2017 International TableTop Day Tower: $5
  • Fireside Games Mug: $5
  • Fireside Games Tumbler: $5

Events: We’re also hosting play events for the first time at Origins! We’ll be in the Gaming Hall from 6:00 to midnight, and here are the games you can get in on each night.

  • Wednesday: Here, Kitty, Kitty!
  • Thursday: Dastardly Dirigibles
  • Friday: The Village Crone
  • Saturday: Castle Panic with all 3 expansions

Hotshots Available September 20!

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Hotshots, our cooperative, press-your-luck, firefighting game is back on track! We took some time to revise some components, making them even better, and now we are super excited to announce that Hotshots will be available September 20!

The flame minis came out great, and they really need to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Here’s a photo to tide you over for now.

Hotshot Flame Tokens

We’ll be running demos at Origins this year, so come check us out at booth #106 to try the game for yourself. In addition we’ll be posting a video close-up, and How-to-Play video soon.

If you can’t wait until then, you can download the rules here and start your firefighter training now!

Kaiju Crush

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We are so excited to announce that Kaiju Crush is coming to a store near you this November! Tim Armstrong came to us last summer with an intriguing limited grid movement system with public objectives, and our own Justin De Witt thought it would be a blast to see giant monsters using those movements to stomp around a city. And of course, if you have giant monsters stomping around a city, you’ve got to have them fighting. After months of playtesting and iterative design work, we are proud and relieved that the files are off to the printer!

The premise of Kaiju Crush is that giant monsters have descended on the same city to fight for supremacy. On your turn, you’ll choose to use either your own Movement Card or a Shared Movement Card that’s accessible to everyone. Those are the only movement choices you’ll have on your turn. However, the Shared Movement Card will be changing throughout the game. When a player uses their own Movement Card, they swap their card with the shared one.

Using a Movement Card will land your Monster on a new City Tile (crushing it). You’ll pick up that City Tile and put one of your Territory Markers in its place. Both the City Tile and the Territory Marker help you gain points based on the Objective Cards. Some objectives give you points for the number of Territory Markers connected or unconnected, some give points based on how many or few City Tile Groups you claim, some give points for shapes you create on the city grid, and still others give in-game bonuses for the leader in City Tile Groups. So, although your movement is limited, your options are guided by the objectives you’re focusing on.

Then, there’s the fighting. I know, I made you wait 3 paragraphs before talking about the fighting! There are 2 ways to fight: 1) when you crush a building adjacent to another Monster and 2) when you land on a Territory Marker with another Monster. To fight, you’ll draw 5 Territory Markers and look at the underside. There, you will find 5 symbols that represent the way that you are fighting: firebreath, claw, tail, kick, and spikes. These symbols are part of an intransitive combat system, like so.

Each Monster has their own unique combat ability (as well as Special Abilities that change each game). The winner of the best of 5 rounds gets to choose a Combat Victory Token at random, whose value ranges from 1 to 3. If the challenger who landed on a Territory Marker with a Monster wins the battle, that challenger gets to replace the loser’s Territory Marker with their own. Very useful for meeting those objectives and/or preventing an opponent from meeting theirs!

When no Monster can move, the game is over, and the Monster with the most victory points is supreme! We’ve had a blast playtesting this game, and we can’t wait to be able to get out there and play it with you. In the meantime, we’ll be getting up our webpage for the game, posting rules, showing a how-to-play video, and all that good stuff!

Check Out the Rules for Engines of War!

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Engines of War Rules

Engines of War, the 3rd expansion to Castle Panic, hits stores in just a few weeks! Here’s your chance to check out the rules and prepare yourself for the next siege of your Castle. Learn how to build and fire Catapults, Ballistas, and deploy Spring Traps. You’ll want to learn about your enemy as well so you can better face the Breathtaker and Shaman. Don’t forget to ready your defenses against the Battering Ram, Siege Tower and War Wagon.

It’s all here, so download a copy now and prepare for battle!

Engines of War Rules

Star Trek Panic Reviews Are Beaming Up!

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Star Trek Panic Reviews Featured

Star Trek Panic Reviews GameWire

Lt. Uhura: Captain, we are receiving multiple transmissions. They appear to be Star Trek Panic reviews.

Mr. Spock: My sensors confirm they are positively charged.

We are super excited to have launched Star Trek Panic out into the universe and even Mr. Spock agrees it’s a hit. If you aren’t convinced by his cold, Vulcan logic, then maybe these great reviews coming in from around the web will sway you!

Let’s start with this hilarious unboxing video from GameWire, where Pep and Bebo crack open the box and look inside. With both of them being huge Star Trek fans, there is more than a little squee-ing in this one, and it’s really hard not watch this with a huge grin.

 

From there, Vincent Paone at Dad’s Gaming Addiction gives Star Trek Panic an amazing 9 out of 10, adding, “Star Trek Panic fires its phasers in true Trek fashion and then some.” You can read the short review at dadsgamingaddiction.com or watch the whole video with a detailed breakdown of components and rules right here.

 

Over at Bower’s Game Corner, Forrest Bower’s glee is palpable as he exclaims, “A home run, no-brainer. If you’re a Star Trek fan, absolutely check this one out.” He goes on to add, “This might be one of my favorite games of 2016.”

 

Joel Eddy from Drive Thru Reviews has a hard time containing his enthusiasm as well, stating, “It’s really, really fun. It just puts you right into that fun aspect of Star Trek.” He also says, “If you’re a fan of any of the other Panic games I would 100% pick this up.” We couldn’t agree more!

 

Trent Howell of The Board Game Family proudly declares that “Star Trek Panic is a blast!” As a long-time fan of Castle Panic, Trent has to admit “Star Trek Panic now tops the list as my favorite of the “Panic” board games.”

Star Trek Panic The Board Game Family

If you want to boldly go where no Panic has gone before, you can pick up a copy of the game in our store right now. If you’re still not convinced, make sure to visit us at Gen Con this year in booth #743 to play a demo, pick up the exclusive promo card, and get an extra U.S.S. Enterprise with purchase!

Live long and prosper!

Making Star Trek Panic

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Star Trek Panic Box Cover50 years ago, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise took us on voyages to strange new worlds. This summer the latest variation in the Panic line, Star Trek Panic, will beam down to your game table to continue the adventure. Read the entire behind-the-scenes story of how the game was created, straight from the designer, Justin De Witt.

 

Growing up, I was a huge Star Trek fan. I had a model of the original Enterprise and the Galileo shuttle hanging from the ceiling in my room. As a kid, I remember dragging the big chair to the middle of the living room, right in front of the TV, so I could watch the original series (in syndication by then) from my own “Captain’s chair.” I have an (almost) complete set of Micro Machine spaceships from every series, and a well-worn Technical Manual from The Next Generation. I was a Trekkie before they were called “Trekkers,” so it’s both amazing and a little surreal that I’ve been given this chance to work on a piece of Star Trek history.

 

First Contact

The project has its roots at GenCon 2014 when Anne-Marie met with Maggie Matthews, the Vice President of Licensing at USAopoly. In addition to their original games like Telestrations, USAopoly is famous for creating licensed versions of everything from Monopoly and Risk to Yahtzee. The year before, USAopoly had licensed Munchkin from Steve Jackson Games and combined it with the Adventure Time license from Cartoon Network. Maggie and Anne-Marie talked about what it was like working with Steve Jackson Games (great!) and compared stories about the process of licensing the games. Munchkin Adventure Time had been a great success. They were looking to combine even more hobby games with some of the licenses they had, and we agreed it might be interesting to work together in the future.

Munchking-panic-Flat-cover-artLater that year at BGGCon, Anne-Marie and I were being interviewed about Munchkin Panic in a quiet room away from the crowds. It was a common space set aside just for exhibitors, and at that time there were just a few other publishers in there. After we wrapped things up, we struck up a conversation with Andrew Wolf, the Project Manager for New Business at USAopoly, who had overheard the interview. As we talked with Andrew over dinner, he asked if we would be open to a similar arrangement for Castle Panic with one of their licenses. We agreed we might be, but whatever the license was, it would have to make sense for the game. While I knew we could be flexible with a lot of the mechanics, the Panic line’s core gameplay is about surviving a siege and fighting off attackers. I would want to make sure that whatever we paired it with was a good fit for both the gameplay and whatever theme the license brought. Andrew agreed, and we decided that he would take this info back to their office and see what they could work out.

Not too long aftStar-Trek-Panic-50th-deltaer GenCon, we heard from Maggie that their team was excited to work on a Castle Panic variation, and they already had some ideas of licenses that would make good pairings. One of the first questions we were asked was if we would be okay using photos instead of illustrations in the new game? We were, but that really sent our minds buzzing. What could it be? What license would only use photos? We had a lot of fun playing the “what if?” game in our office, and it went to some crazy places. A few weeks later, Anne-Marie met with Maggie and Luke Byers, head of Creative Development for USAopoly, at New York Toy Fair, and they asked, “How does Star Trek Panic sound to you?” It sounded unbelievable, but somehow Anne-Marie was able to contain any squeeing and assured them we were interested. What really sealed the deal was when we learned that because 2016 was going to be the 50th anniversary of the original series, CBS wanted this game to be set in that timeline. That meant we were going to get the chance to retell the stories of Kirk, Spock, and the whole crew in a new medium.

One key detail was that even though USAopoly would manufacture and publish the game, we weren’t going to be content to have this be just a reskin of Castle Panic. To that end, it was determined that I would do the initial concept and design, pushing the envelope of what we’ve done with Panic games in the past while playing on the strengths of what we could do with this license. Andrew and I would take that initial design and refine it before he finalized the design work to create the finished game. It couldn’t have been a better arrangement.

 

Star Trek Panic—Where No Panic Has Gone Before

As Anne-Marie started negotiating the details of the contract, I started brainstorming ideas for what the game could be. The first step? Get reacquainted with an old friend. Part of my job for the next few weeks was to watch every episode of the original series. (I know. It’s a hard life.) I camped out on the couch taking copious notes as I binged on the entire series start to finish and running with every wild idea they inspired. It was a hoot to go back and see all the classic adventures again. I have to say that overall, it’s still an amazing achievement. The good episodes are really good, and the themes and messages of that 50-year-old show are still very relevant today.

Star Trek Panic research
Getting started on Star Trek Panic required some very serious research. Now pass the popcorn!

As I made my notes, I had lots of inspiration on how I would convert the Panic mechanics to fit the world of Star Trek. I really wanted to capture as much of the Star Trek feel as I could, so I thought about different core game ideas. Maybe the center of the board would be a planet the players were protecting and the Enterprise could be a token that was moved around the board, similar to the Cavalier in The Dark Titan? Maybe there could be a space station in the center that warded off attacks, like Deep Space Nine? Cool, but that’s the wrong version of Star Trek . . . No, it really made sense to make the center the one thing Kirk and the crew always wanted to protect the most, their home, the Enterprise.

Converting walls to shields made sense, and treating hull sections of the Enterprise as towers followed naturally, but I wasn’t sure how we would show damage to the ship. We couldn’t just take chunks off without it being weird. What would happen if the only piece left was an engine pylon? That just wouldn’t make sense. I liked the idea of possibly showing a damaged ship underneath and covering it up with shiny, new ship pieces. That way when you removed a ship section, you would leave the banged up, burned out section in its place. I wasn’t sure if that would be done with just artwork on the board, but it would be really cool if we could make some kind of 3D model of the Enterprise! The downside was that it might make it a little difficult to handle having to load up the model with “good” pieces as part of setup. As part of my playtesting, I ended up building a prototype that showed a complete Enterprise and creating tokens that were placed on top of the sections, covering them up to indicate when a section was destroyed.

Star Trek Panic early Enterprise prototype
The very first playtest version of the Enterprise!

When it came to damage, I also wanted to expand the Brick and Mortar idea from Castle Panic and turn it into a system that would actually let players repair the Enterprise. This was kind of a big deal since that’s essentially the same thing as letting players rebuild towers in Castle Panic. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work and I knew it was going to need balancing, but considering how many times Scotty saved the day at the last minute with a quick bit of repair work, I knew it needed to be in the game.

I was starting to create a pretty big list of ideas I could put into this game, and I knew that not everything was going to make the final cut. However, there were some concepts that I felt were pretty much a sure thing. The enemies would be Klingon, Romulan, and Tholian spaceships. These enemies wouldn’t just approach the Enterprise harmlessly like they do in Castle Panic, I wanted them to shoot, doing damage as they got closer. After all, what’s space combat without some pew-pew? I wanted some ships to be able to cloak, making them temporarily invisible. I wanted to include the idea of boarding parties. (There were always troublemakers getting on board the ship!) I knew I wanted to have the crew be actual characters in the game. Players would get to pick who they wanted to be, and each character would bring their own skills to the game that related to their area of expertise on the show. That’s an idea I’ve been waiting to introduce to Castle Panic for a while now, and I knew it would work great here.

star-trek-panic-character-cards
TM & © 2016 CBS. ARR.

One of the biggest additions I knew had to be in the game was events that were based on episodes of the show. I wanted the players to be terrorized by NOMAD, face off against the Doomsday Machine, and deal with everything from transporter accidents to rapid aging diseases. The original idea for implementing this was split between Mission cards that would be the victory conditions for the game, and Event cards that players would draw at different times and would present challenges that the players would have to overcome together. (These eventually were combined into the Mission cards that you see in the final game.) These events would have to be dealt with in addition to surviving the waves of enemies that the game would throw at the players, so while they needed to be somewhat challenging, they would have to be balanced out so the game didn’t feel overwhelming. A lot of the episodes dealt with the crew having some kind of countdown they were working against, and I wanted to reflect that with a timer that provided a time crunch to some of the missions.

Experimenting with missions led to another new mechanic I wanted to introduce called “Command Points.” Some of the most powerful cards in the game would feature the same Division icons the characters wore on their shirts. Cards with these Command Points would act as a currency the players would need to pay in order to complete some of the missions. The cost would be higher than any 1 player could pay on their own, so the team would really have to work together toward the common goal. The catch was that a player could either use the card for its powerful ability or spend it toward completing the mission, but not both!

star-trek-panic-mission-cards
TM & © 2016 CBS. ARR.

As I spent a few months turning rough ideas into playable concepts, there were a few ideas that ended up being dropped from the game. I had really wanted to include planets and away teams, where players would beam down for a separate mini-game that would have generated resources. Scotty always seemed to be dealing with equipment that broke down right when the crew needed it, and I had created a system that would gum up players’ hands with Malfunction cards that had to be repaired to simulate that engineering challenge. I’d even experimented with the idea of the characters being injured and losing abilities until they could be healed in the Sick Bay. As fun as these ideas were, the added complexity didn’t fit with the simpler goal for this game so they had to be cut. We’ve talked about including them as expansions so who knows, they may return!

 

Ahead Warp Factor One

Before long we arranged to fly out to California and meet with USAopoly for our kickoff meeting. I spent the days before the meeting turning my pages of notes into a readable design document before we packed up and headed out. Meeting the crew from USAopoly was great. They even had a fantastic Star Trek Panic welcome banner on display right when we walked in the door! We met with Maggie, Andrew, Luke, and the rest of the staff, got a tour of their very cool office, and then got down to some very intense days of work. The first day we covered everything from contracts and production schedules to going over all the various Panic games with a fine-tooth comb. We dove into my design document which, while it was stuffed with a ton of ideas, was still very much a work in progress.

Andrew and I broke out into our own design meeting along with Rick Hutchinson, the Senior Creative Designer at USAopoly, and we started really tearing into the game. Ideas flew fast and furious as concepts were refined, edited, and refined again. It was an amazing day and a half, and some of the most fun I’ve had while still getting paid.

One of the coolest things we figured out was how to make the transition away from the castle and walls setup to a 3-dimensional Enterprise model! Inspired by an idea from another game USAopoly was working on, it involved die cut chipboard pieces that are put together via tabs and slots to build the classic hull, saucer section, and nacelles of the famous ship. This would allow damage tokens to hang off of the ship the way the fire tokens work in The Wizard’s Tower. Now instead of just being a static pile of towers and walls in the middle of the board, the Enterprise would be built on a base that the shields were attached to and the whole thing could now be rotated as one piece to its facing.

Star Trek Panic 3D Enterprise
TM & © 2016 CBS. ARR.

Star-Trek-Panic-making-of-Phaser-cardHaving the model of the Enterprise on its own movable base let us run wild with the idea of maneuvering the ship. We modified the ring and arc arrangement to be more like Dead Panic, using 3 rings instead of 4 (removing what would have been the Forest ring). The next big change was that we removed the use of colors. The Enterprise is aligned on the board so that its front faces 2 arcs, each side aligns with 1 arc, and its rear faces 2 arcs. We changed the Archer, Knight, and Swordsman cards to Phasers of Long, Medium, and Short range, limited each one to 1 particular facing of Front, Side, or Rear. Now, instead of playing cards to hit enemies anywhere you wanted to, the hit cards became directional, based on the facing of the Enterprise. The Phaser cards are not color-specific as Hit cards are in Castle Panic, and only let you hit a target that matches both the range and facing. Finally, we gave the players the ability to rotate the Enterprise one arc clockwise or counter-clockwise during their turn, while they were playing cards. This meant the players might be able to attack a target they would otherwise be unable to hit after they rotated the ship to change its facing. We were actually restricting the use of the cards, but giving the players even more tactical flexibility by maneuvering the ship.

We applied this idea of maneuvering to tokens outside the ship for the concept of moving “forward.” Obviously, the Enterprise couldn’t actually move on the board, so instead when players maneuver forward it brings all tokens in the 2 front arcs one ring closer to the ship. Tokens to the side and rear were unaffected. While it may not have been completely accurate from a physics point of view, it worked really well and allowed us to include maneuvering as a fun requirement for some of the missions.

 

Boldy Going

When the dust settled we had a pretty good idea of what the game would be and how it might play. We said our goodbyes, and I took this new version of the game home to make some adjustments and start playtesting to see what worked and what didn’t. Within a few days, Rick had created a mockup of the 3D Enterprise that was nothing short of amazing, and they shipped me a version of it to include in my playtesting. I can’t say I didn’t run around the house with it making spaceship noises, but you try not playing with this thing!

Star Trek Panic early prototype
An early version of the game with many placeholder components.

The mission cards now became the focus of the game and how players would win or lose. I knew we weren’t going to keep the same end game condition as Castle Panic, where finishing off the last enemy ends the game. Instead it was going to focus on the famous “5-year mission” of the original show. I had played with idea of having the game last for 5 “years” with each year being a certain amount of turns, but that didn’t feel right. I experimented with a point tracker and even making the missions worth different amount of points. In the end though, simpler was better and we decided to have the goal be to complete 5 missions before the Enterprise was destroyed. At first, mission cards were drawn when certain tokens were encountered, but because of how unpredictable the token draw can be, it was cleaner to have mission cards drawn as part of a turn, so that players were always facing a mission and never waiting for one.

As I continued testing and having phone meetings with Andrew, the core ideas became Star-Trek-Panic-making-of-Dilithiummore refined. Enemy ships fire after moving, damaging the Enterprise from a distance, adding damage tokens to shields and hull pieces before eventually destroying them. The ability to repair the ship evolved into a 3-way system involving Tritanium and Dilithium cards. Playing a Tritanium card on its own removed a damage token from the hull, where as playing a lone Dilithium card would remove a damage token from a shield. Play them both together however, and a player could rebuild a shield or hull section that had been destroyed. While this was a powerful (and incredibly satisfying) ability for the players, they would need it as the Enterprise is constantly taking damage from alien attackers.

Star Trek Panic Security Team card TM & © 2016 CBS. ARR.
A group of redshirts, ready to sacrifice themselves!
TM & © 2016 CBS. ARR.

Enemy ships that reached the Enterprise would become Boarders and cause the players to eject cards from the game permanently. The Security Teams found their use in fighting off these intruders. When an enemy ship becomes a Boarder, any player can play Security Team cards from their hand to reduce the amount of cards lost to Boarders. These Security Team cards are discarded in an homage to the famous red-shirted crewmen from the original show. It’s a fun way to work together, but it involves balancing the cards in your hand with the immediate and long-term threats on the board.

 

The Final Frontier

Within a few months I had a version of the game that was playable and felt very thematic. There were still a lot of details that needed to be worked on and a great deal of balancing, but at this point, I was ready to hand the game off to USAopoly. As progress continued, Andrew and I had multiple meetings where we would compare notes, discuss trouble spots, and work on solutions. The biggest challenges were in balancing the missions so that they were tough, but not too tough, and then refining the various methods used to complete these missions. We ended up including a timed element with every mission and even removing a few missions entirely from the game when they were too complex or unclear.

The Command Point mechanic was renamed Division Credits and we adjusted the distribution of these credits throughout the deck to better fit the desired tension. Character abilities went through several evolutions as we fine-tuned their effects on gameplay and ensured they reflect the character they belong to. Sulu, for example, can maneuver the Enterprise twice on his turn, whereas the other characters may only make one maneuver.

The cloaking ability of enemy ships took a lot of tweaking as well. It went through many incarnations, eventually settling on a system by which cloaked ship tokens will alternate their movement phases between cloaking (flipping over to be upside down, revealing just a starfield) and attacking. Players can’t attack a ship when it’s cloaked, but they can see where it is. The catch is that when a ship uncloaks, it’s movement is determined by a die roll and it immediately attacks. This means the players will only have a general idea of where a cloaked ship will appear and attack them from. It adds a great sense of tension and uncertainty, just like in the famous “Balance of Terror” episode.

Star-Trek-Panic-Enemy-Tokens
TM & © 2016 CBS. ARR.

Andrew and the USAopoly team continued to playtest and refine the game. We had many fun phone conversations about tension and theme, modifying smaller and smaller elements as the game settled into its final incarnation. After a few months, I had switched from design work to reviewing artwork and components. Using stills from the show wherever they could, USAopoly crafted a really great-looking game that is drenched in the look and feel of the original Star Trek.

In the end, I’m incredibly happy with the game we’ve created. As a fan of Star Trek, it’s important to me that this game stand on its own and remain true to what made the show such a classic. I think we created something enjoyable by fans of both licenses. If you’re a fan of Castle Panic, you’ll find an entirely new way to challenge yourself that will still have familiar elements. If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’ll reconnect with the original crew in an exciting, engaging way that you’ve never done before. Good luck to you all as you explore the Final Frontier. Live long and prosper!

-Justin De Witt

May Events – Where to Play Our Games

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Our games will be available for demos and Play-to-Wins at several conventions around the country this month, as well as being in many game libraries.

Of course, you can also always check out your Friendly Local Game Store to see what events they have planned and make some new friends over an evening of Castle Panic®.

PDXAGE Portland, OR May 13–15
ChupacabraCon Round Rock, TX May 13–15
Geekway to the West* St. Louis, MO May 19–22
MomoCon Atlanta, GA May 26–29
Evergreen TableTop Expo Tacoma, WA May 27–29
Nexus Game Fair** Milwaukee, WI May 27–30

* Play-to-Win
** Library

As Seen on TV! Orphan Black

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If you are a fan of Orphan Black, you may have recognized a few familiar “faces” in the new Season 4 set location, Rabbit Hole Comics.

In episode 2, “Transgressive Border Crossing,” formerly separated clones Sarah and Cosima are reunited in a secret lab in the basement of a Comic shop. When Sarah and Mrs. S enter the shop we get a good little “geek out” when they pan the shop and there is an eye-catching display of our favorite games.

Castle-Panic-expansions-Orphan-Black

We caught this quick picture to show off a little. Forgive our proud little hearts. :)

Games shown: Bears!, Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower expansion, Castle Panic: The Dark Titan expansion. You can even see a bit of Bloodsuckers and The Village Crone if you look closely!

2015 Holiday Gaming Recommendations

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2015-holiday-gaming-headerThe weather outside can be as frightful as it wants to be when you have hours of entertainment at your fingertips (and no, we aren’t talking about your smartphone).

‘Tis the season for gathering with family and friends and being thankful for the time you have with them. What better way to engage with those you love than over a board game?

Here is a brand new list of gaming recommendations for you to share with your nearest and dearest this Thanksgiving and on through the holiday season.

2015 Holiday Gaming Recommendations

the-resistance-game1. The Resistance – Indie Boards & Cards
Great for larger groups, this game of deduction and sabotage can accommodate 5-10 players. Work together to complete missions while trying to discover the spies hiding in your midst. This one was an alternate for last year’s list and is always brought up when we talk to other gamers, so you know it has to be good!

chopstick-dexterity-mega-challenge-30002. Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000 – MayDay Games
Play it like a Japanese Game Show for the maximum fun. Flip a token, find out what shape and color you are vying for, and try to move all the matching pieces from the main bowl into yours using only your mad chopstick skills. Get a family member to commentate and let the chopsticks fly!

the-village-crone-game3. The Village Crone – Fireside Games
Slinging spells around the dinner table seems like a fun way to spend the holidays. This one is ideal for the families who love telling stories. It can be played with up to 6 players, so no one gets left out. Command your Familiars, collect your Ingredients, and compete to be the town witch. You might just find yourself making up little spells for all the dishes you cook up.

graveyards-ghosts-haunted-houses-game4. Graveyards, Ghosts, & Haunted Houses – Rather Dashing Games
Create the board as you lay your tiles trying to connect the longest run of your color and thwarting the other players’s paths. Watch out for the special tiles that let players rearrange the layout or the tokens that can block your path. This one is a mind puzzle, so you might want to lay off the eggnog while playing.

hanabi-game5. Hanabi – R&R Games
Put your communication skills to the test in this cooperative game. Work with the other players to put on the best fireworks display by playing your cards in proper order. The catch? You can’t see your own cards. You must take clues from other players to lay the right card or watch your chances of winning go up in smoke!

lanerns-harvest-festival-game6. Lanterns: The Harvest Festival – Renegade Games
Compete to be the most honored artisan at the Lantern Festival by laying tiles to create the best display. Lay your tiles strategically to earn bonuses or block other players. This one plays in 30 minutes, so it’s perfect while you wait for the turkey to settle before digging into some pie.

space-cadets-dice-duel-game7. Space Cadets: Dice Duel – Stronghold Games
Picking sides at the holidays is always tricky, but add in the threat of annihilation and it gets downright frantic! In Space Cadets, you must protect your spaceship from the other team by performing your crew member tasks and launching counter attacks. There are no civilized turns in this game, just instinctive action to survive. Get in the spirit with your best Star Wars jokes.

codenames-game8. Codenames – Czech Games
Work in teams to decipher the clues and claim the right words on the grid for your team. Choose wisely or you may uncover the other team’s words for them. This one’s really popular this year so if you don’t already have a copy, you might have to wait and break this one out at Christmas after the next print run arrives in early December (we asked).

splendor-game9. Splendor – Asmodee
Strategy is the key in this game of Renaissance reputation. Collect chips and cards to expand your gem mines and shops all to increase your prestige and become the most prominent purveyor of jewels. This one has won many awards and is fairly easy to pick up for those non-gamers in your crowd.

double-feature-game10. Double Feature – Renegade Games
This one’s for the cinephiles and pop culture junkies. Earn points by naming a movie that marries the themes from two different cards. One round you might have to name a movie that involves “Gorillas” and “New York” and the next you might have to name a “Black and White” “Cowboy” movie. You’ll have fun and you might even discover some new Must Watch movies.

There are so many great games out there, we’re sure we’ve missed a few you would have added to the list. Tell us your favorite games to share with friends and family in the comments below!

Want more recommendations? Check out our 2014 Thanksgiving Gaming List and our Independence Day List.

Find a Friendly Local Game Store near you to pick up a few of these titles!

An NYC Legend, the Bermuda Triangle, and a Portal

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The Something Wicked Tour rolled along over the weekend with three more stores in two states and some crazy traffic!

sarges-logoOur visit to Sarge’s Comics and More in New London, CT was short and sweet. While setting up for the event I noticed they had this copy of the old Bermuda Triangle game. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid!

Something_Wicked_Sarges_Game

We gave overviews of The Village Crone to several customers and made many people happy with a free piece of Silver, which came in handy as an actual coaster as well.

StratLogo2On Saturday we braved Manhattan traffic to visit legendary NYC store of The Compleat Strategist.

For years we have heard about this amazing store deep in the heart of the Big Apple. It’s known around the world as “the” place to come see if you are a gamer in New York. It lives up to its reputation.

Not only is the store absolutely packed with games of every type, style and size, the owners Mike and Danny do a great job of matching customers to the perfect game they are looking for.

Something_Wicked_Compleat_Strategist_Aisle1

We were warmly welcomed and quickly setup right at the front of the store to show off The Village Crone. Within minutes we had people asking how to turn Villagers into Frogs, or what the binding rings did. In between giving overviews, we talked all kinds of business with Mike and Danny and learned a lot about what it takes to have run a game store since 1975!

Something_Wicked_Compleat_Strategist_Game

Before we knew it we were signing copies of games and wrapping up the night. It was a great event for us and a very cool opportunity to see one of the most unique game stores in the U.S.

portal-logoA sunny, fall Sunday in Manchester, Connecticut saw the Fireside Games minivan pull into The Portal’s parking lot and unload all our goodies. We made our way inside and grabbed a long table in the board game area to setup The Village Crone.

Sunday’s are board game day and before long it was standing room only in there and we had our first game up and running. 5 witches battled it out and we saw one of the best uses of scattering happen, sending almost every Familiar back to the Village Green! In the end it came down to just a few point spread, but we had our winner at 13 points.

Something_Wicked_Portal_Crowded_Green

In between games we took a few minutes to explore the store. In addition to a great selection of games and a ton of play space, The Portal has a massive demo game library! Hundreds of games stacked into bookcases mean that you can come here and play anything from an old classic to a brand new release. The hardest decision will be picking which game to try!

Something_Wicked_Portal_Game_Start

Our next game started up and was a quick 2-player battle that resulted in one of the most crowded Forges we’ve seen and to top it off, it gets Bound so no one can leave! The best part was that while 4 Villagers were in the Forge the other 2 had been turned into frogs, so that was all there was!

Something_Wicked_Portal_Binding

We had a great time and met a lot of great gamers there. If you’re anywhere near the Manchester area and are craving a game, The Portal is definitely the place to go!

We’re only halfway through the Something Wicked tour, so stayed tuned for many more store visits in another 3 states!

Knight Moves Cafe, Pandemonium Books, & Compleat Strategist Boston

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Over the weekend Anne-Marie and Justin made the first two store visits for the Something Wicked Tour.

Knight-moves-cafe-logoWe have started this tour in Boston and the surrounding boroughs and our first stop was at Knight Moves Cafe in Brookline, MA. Knight Moves is a game cafe that focuses on providing a friendly hangout for gamers (both new and veteran) to have a snack, a drink, and a good time playing games together.

We arrived early and the shop was relatively quiet. That would change as the night went on when it was standing room only and we got in several games of The Village Crone and earned some new fans for the game
The owner, Devon, was very helpful and kept directing gamers to our tables as well as serving delicious drinks and snacks all night long.

Their demo library is made of multiple bookcases that are literally overflowing with games. If you want to try out a game in the Brookline area, this is the place to do it!

While they don’t sell games at Knight Moves Cafe, they do work with Eureka Puzzles & Games, a game store down the street, to promote gaming in the Brookline area.

 

pandemonium-books-logoOn Sunday evening they ventured to the Harvard University area to visit Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge.

We played with all the local board game night attendees, squeezing in 4 games over the night.

The first game of the night had a tremendous finish with one player scoring all three of his Witches Schemes on his last turn in an amazing combination of spellcasting!

Thanks to all who came out!

StratLogo2

On Tuesday night we visited the Compleat Strategist in Boston.

Unfortunately we lost the video for this event, so we only have a few photos we grabbed while we were there. Must have been some of those ghosts we met earlier on the Trolley Tour!

Something_Wicked_Complete_Strat_Boston_Sign

We met some local gamers and showed them what it takes to become The Village Crone. They were pretty good at being witches as it turns out since Justin got trounced soundly!

Up next is our visit to Sarge’s Comics in New London, CT on Friday (6–10pm) and then we will be visiting the legendary New York store of the Compleat Strategist this Saturday from 1pm to 5pm!

GenCon 2015: Post-Show Wrap-Up

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Another Gen Con has come to an end. We came, we played, we conquered.

This year had record attendance, according to the official count from Gen Con, and the sea of people around the booth indicated they all made it through the exhibit hall at some point. Things went very smoothly for us this year, thanks to our awesome volunteers and staff!

Our demo tables stayed full with barely a lull. Players were scrambling to get in one more round each night at closing time and were snagging chairs minutes after the hall opened each day. Many thanks to everyone who came by to play with us, you made the con such fun for us!

The calm before the storm…
The booth in full swing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Village Crone debuted at this year’s Gen Con and we are thrilled so many people came by to demo, get an overview, and take an advance copy home with them. If you missed Gen Con this year, never fear. It is now available for pre-order on our website or through your Friendly Local Game Store. If you need help finding a game store near you, check out our Store Locator Map.

Some serious spell-casting going on in The Village Crone

You can also download the special 3D printer files we created for The Village Crone components on the product information page. They are FREE to download until the end of the year, so get them now and use them later!

Anne-Marie De Witt, designer of The Village Crone, signs a couple copies for fans

We are already brainstorming about how to make next year even better and we have several new games that will be coming your way in 2016. So, go get some sleep. Recuperate and rest assured there are big things coming your way at Gen Con 2016 and we invite you to join us for the fun.

Dead Panic got a lot of love this weekend as well. Who says zombie games aren’t still popular?

What were your favorite moments from GenCon? Tell us in the comments below!

10 Games for Summer Holiday Fun!

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The July 4th Holiday weekend is upon us once again and what better time to introduce your friends and family to some new games?

Here is our list of 10 fun, portable, family-friendly games perfect for the picnic table:

1. Bohnanza (Rio Grande Games) – Plant your bean fields and harvest your crops to sell them at market for top dollar. The art is playful, the theme light-hearted, and it’s easy to teach to non-gamers. Plus, it’s fun to declare yourself the Stink Bean Mogul.

 

2. Sushi Go (Gamewright) –A pass and play card game with deliciously adorable art and fast-paced rounds, this game becomes addicting and will surely be a go-to game for future family gatherings.

 

3. Red Hot Silly Peppers (Rather Dashing Games) –In this silly game of salsa-making, more is better. Play card combos to make the hottest salsa, but watch out for other players using more ingredients and stealing your points!

 

4. Telestrations (USAopoly) – Pictorial telephone is the way of this game. Illustrate your clue and pass the book, taking turns drawing and guessing what the clue is. At the end of the round reveal the hilarious interpretations from the group.

 

5. Gravwell (Renegade Games) – Use the elements to escape the blackhole and boost your spaceship closer to the safe zone. Watch out for dead ships and other players using the forces of gravity to advance their own ship past yours. There’s actual science behind this one, so go ahead and geek out a bit.

 

6. Bears! Trail Mix’d (Fireside Games – hey! that’s us!) – Add this die to your existing copy of Bears! for crazy mixed up fun and new ways to stump your fellow campers and survive the bear attack. (Don’t already have your own copy of Bears!? What are you waiting for??)

 

  7. Roll for It (Calliope Games) – Roll your dice and stake a claim to the cards that match your rolls. Go all in to score big, or go for the sure bet and watch your winnings stack up steadily.  Play as many rounds as you like with this portable, easy to learn, dice game.

 

8. Bang! The Dice Game (Da Vinci) – The Wild West is alive and well in this dice game of hidden identities and flying bullets. Roll the dice and play them against the bandits or the Sheriff, depending on whose side you’re on. Careful, there’s the quick and then there’s the dead, so stay on your toes to survive this standoff.

 

9. Citadels (Fantasy Flight Games) – Fortune and city-building, with some good old-fashioned intrigue, this game requires a balance between long-term strategy and short-term opportunity. Choose your identity carefully each round to secure the wealth needed to build your city with an and come out on top.

 

10. Mag Blast (Fantasty Flight Games) – Who needs diplomacy when you have laser-blasters? Captain your own fleet of inter-galactic ships, using your cards strategically to take out your opponents before they reduce you to space junk.

 

What are your favorite games to break out at the family picnic? Share in the comments below!