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Cartoons, Comics, Cake, Cards, Cryptomium and Kitsch from Cryptozoic Entertainment

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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I attended two trade fairs at the start of 2016 to survey games coming from publishers located all over the world, including Cryptozoic Entertainment, which has now released more images and details of what's coming, starting with the March 2, 2016 release of DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 3. This expansion can be used with any standalone DC Comics DBG, and its description bears this instructive opening line: "The DC Universe is in peril...again!" Yes, superhero comics rarely feature more mundane activities, which is a shame as it would be great to have game cards like "Batman Gasses up the Batmobile" and "Flash Consumes 10,000 Calories".

Two other mini-expansions are coming for the DC Comics DBG line: Crossover Pack 5: The Rogues and Crossover Pack 6: Birds of Prey, the latter of which appears to feature a limbo contest or contortionist event as seemingly no one can stand upright.

• The Cerberus Engine at the heart of Cryptozoic's deck-building games is also to be found in Matt Hyra's Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game, which takes characters from many CN shows — Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball, Regular Show, Steven Universe, and more — and mixes them all together. (At NY Toy Fair, Cryptozoic's Adam Sblendorio said that due to licensing contracts, the publisher couldn't feature all of the CN shows that it wanted in this title, which explains why The Powerpuff Girls and other obvious shows aren't included.)

The twist in this Cerberus title, due out Q2 2016, is that every weakness card is unique and the event cards include crazy cartoon-appropriate happenings.

• Speaking of Adventure Time, Cryptozoic has had continued success with its Adventure Time Card Wars line, and game #6 in that line — Fionna vs Cake — is due out March 30, 2016. Since Fionna and Cake are the alternate-reality female versions of Finn and Jake, the characters in the first ATCW release, this release features another Cornfields vs Blue Plains as seen in that earlier game, but with all new cards. As always, each title in this line can be played on its own or a deck from it can be paired against any other ATCW deck.

• As is its forte, Cryptozoic has also licensed game rights for a different animated series — Rick and Morty on Adult Swim — and plans to release a pair of Rick and Morty games in 2016, each based the events in a particular episode. In Rick and Morty: Total Rickall Card Game, due out Q2 2016, players have to determine which friends and family members are actually parasites that need to be eliminated.

Rick and Morty: Mr. Meeseeks' Box o' Fun Dice and Dares Game, due out Q3 2016, is a party game in which players must complete requests, carry out dares, and summon Mr. Meeseeks for help - which might lead to you being forced to do embarrassing and foolish things, alas, depending on whether you can get rid of Mr. Meeseeks quickly enough.

Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game is another Cerberus Engine design, and naturally the players must attempt to attack those Titans by using Eren, Mikasa, Armin and others. The twist in this game, due out Q3 2016 is that the line of cards that players normally buy or attack now represent the walls that they're attempting to defend, and players move to different locations along this wall in order to take actions.

• Another take on the Attack on Titan manga and anime comes from Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc with Attack on Titan: The Last Stand, a one-against-many board game in which one player takes the role of a titan while everyone else throws everything they can against this figure, even climbing the titan itself during the game in order to strike it. This title is due out Q3 2016. We interviewed Bauza at Gen Con 2015 about the design, and while some details of the gameplay might have changed since then, you'll still learn the value of what can arise from a trip to the bathroom:

• Cryptozoic has a few non-licensed games coming as well, such as Sharang Biswas and Max Seidman's Mad Science Foundation, which was discovered at a publisher dating event during Gen Con 2015. Here's an overview of this August 2016 release:

Throughout the centuries, mad scientists have always encountered the same problem of very limited access to the dangerous resources they require. To solve this problem, the Mad Science Foundation was created. Now these "misunderstood geniuses" can finally get the access they need to the four vital building blocks of mad science: Lasers, Dark Matter, Cryptomium, and Sharks.

Unfortunately, for each mad scientist who seeks "funding" from the Mad Science Foundation, there remains the unfortunate fact of life that mad scientists do not play well with others. In the quest for infamy, directors will be bribed, resources will be reallocated, spies will be dispatched, inventions will be sabotaged, and big, ominous buttons will be pressed with catastrophic results. Welcome to the Mad Science Foundation, where everyone is ready to stab you in the back with overly-elaborate backstabbing machines.

At heart, Mad Science Foundation is a drafting game. You draft resources to craft wacky inventions and dispatch minions to help with your diabolical plans. Each round, one player controls the Crooked Director for that round. They then separate the available commodities into piles to be drafted. It's up to the scientist controlling the Director to determine the value of whatever resources are available and separate them into piles. Not all piles are created equal! Players then take turns selecting which pile of goodies to grab, with the Director's controller choosing last. Sizing up your competition is key! You know what they need; don't let them have it. Or give them two choices of equal terrible-ness! But each player also has a secret side objective that you may not figure out until it's too late...

By crafting new inventions, you might be able to put together an engine of cards that eventually fuel themselves. Perpetual motion in our lifetime! Or perhaps you might stockpile valuable resources for later exploitation. It's all done with the altruistic goals of megalomania and personal glory in mind. What could go wrong?
• The shorthand description of Ben Cichoski and Danny Mandel's Poker Assault, also due out Q3 2016, is special-powered poker. The longer description is this:

In Poker Assault, take control of the mysterious and maniacal Invaders, the ferocious and unrelenting Wolf Pack, the elegant and vicious Vampire Court, or the heroic aeronautical aces of the Rocket Patrol. Each team has its own custom suit theme and artwork. Play any deck versus any other deck, or even three- and four-player variants. While each deck is a legal 52-card poker deck, it's also so much more! Several cards in each deck have bonus abilities that can aid you while assaulting your opponent or defending against an assault. Additionally, if you can craft a Straight, Flush, Full House, or Four-of-a-Kind, you will earn an aptly named Power Card. These unique cards give you new strategies to pursue.

Chances are with your initial hand of five cards, you aren't going to have much of a poker hand. But by playing only one card at a time, and drawing a new card from your deck after each play, you can slowly build up to something great. How great is up to how risky you want to get. Craft a hand of at least a pair, and your assault is underway! Now your opponent must block your cards using the cards in their hand. The defending player likewise plays only one card at a time and draws a card from their deck after each play. To block an assaulting card, match the value (2 to Ace) or play a card of the same suit (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade), but with a higher value. Each assaulting card that gets through knocks your opponent's hit points down by one. Bring your opponent's health to zero and you win!

• Finally, we come to Internal Affairs, a hidden roles affair from Edward Chan, Dark Chan, and Zero Cheung that Capstone HK released in Chinese and English at Spiel 2015. Cryptozoic plans to bring the game to the U.S. market in July 2016.

BGG recorded an overview of the game at Spiel 2015, but if you prefer a written summary, here it is:

A team of infiltrators from the triad penetrated the police force. However, the police also has sent a team of undercover agents to infiltrate the triad. Ten years later, they are still undercover, but their minds have been twisted by the temptation of power, authority and money — and nobody is certain about their original roles anymore. Both groups learn that they have been infiltrated and want to ferret out the moles. Each mole has a secret code to lock their identity file, and once the code is cracked their identity is fully revealed. The battle of wits starts now. Either exposing the enemy or taking the chance to change the identity for good can save their lives as long as nobody knows who is who!

Internal Affairs is an intense elimination game between infiltrators from both the Triad and the Police Force Infiltrator. Each player has a set of secret ID cards which determine that player's allegiance. Each player also has a secret code, which when cracked reveals the player's real ID. At the beginning of the game, each player has five code cards and chooses three of them to be the secret code that locks the identity file. During their turn, players try to crack other players' codes to find out who is who and get their team to victory. Due to action cards, though, ID cards may be passed from player to player and this may change each player's allegiance. Players must be quick to win, as otherwise they may end up in the losing team when they least expect it.

Internal Affairs is designed for 5-8 players, but alternative rules have been included to allow for play with 2-4.

• That's it for the games, but Cryptozoic Entertainment is also ballooning the "entertainment" half of its release schedule in 2016, with tons of items coming out that take advantage of its licensing rights for DC Comics, Ghostbusters, Attack on Titan, Adventure Time, Bone, and more. You'll see dog tags, vinyl figures, pennants, meeples (as I tweeted during NY Toy Fair), cookie cutters, backscratchers, timers, banks, and much more, including a Harley Quinn hula girl statue. Ginchy!

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