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Explore and Escape, Writhe and Spy, Quest and Kill in Eight WizKids Releases in Early 2018

W. Eric Martin
United States
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• In 2018, U.S. publisher WizKids plans to continue its policy of releasing a new game every time we have a third quarter moon, thanks to the efforts of game finder Zev Shlasinger.

In addition to a miniature line and board games based on Magic: The Gathering (as covered here) and the Q1 2018 titles Kung Fu Zoo, Team Play,, and Blade Runner 2049: Nexus Protocol (covered here), WizKids plans to release many more titles in Q2 2018, such as Fungeon Party, due out June 2018 from the designer quartet of Tom Jones, Brian Lewis, David McGregor, and Marissa Misura. You can already get a sense of the game straight from the cover, not to mention the title's portmanteau, but in more detail:

Stack dice on your forehead, bounce dice into the box, knock down a meeple surrounded by dice, balance a meeple on a stick — these and many more wacky quests await a traditional dungeon party in the nontraditional dungeon crawler Fungeon Party. Each quest adds 30 seconds to the game, and an average game uses six quests, making this a quick, easy, and fun game to learn and play!

• Another WizKids title that has snuck into Q1 is Letter GO!, a Marcus Ross and Cara Ryan title due out in March 2018:

Each round, players write words on their whiteboards using the available letter cards, but they score points only for the cards they are able to claim before their opponents — and words score only if the player follows the ever-changing rules.

The player who scores the most points at the end of five rounds wins.

• May 2018 will see Maiden's Quest, which I believe bears a player count of 1+, although we might need to wait for final cover design to know for sure. As for the gameplay:

In Maiden's Quest, a maiden — tired of waiting to be rescued — takes it upon herself to fight her enemies and escape.

Maidens use cards from their hands to attempt to defeat an enemy or obstacle. As you play, the game's difficulty grows as enemies of increasing ferocity become active! An innovative turn-and-flip mechanism allows each card to represent up to four items, encounters, or allies.

This fun and easy-to-learn game takes 10–30 minutes if you play non-stop. However, since each encounter is resolved separately, you can stop and stow away the deck at any time, returning to play when and where you left off at a later time! Since no surface is required, you can play while standing in line to get your morning coffee, while you wait for an appointment, or while sitting on the couch at home! Contents include enough for true solo play, co-op, or competitive two-player games, and, with multiple copies, more players can join in!

• Also due out in May 2018 is Curio: The Lost Temple, a 10- to 15-minute real-time game for 2-5 players from designer Ian Zang that presents a new replayable take on escape room games:

A sinkhole formed west of the Tigris river in the heart of Mesopotamia, revealing a large stone door with curious, unknown markings. A special team of archaeologists, from all over the world, ventured to the site to solve its puzzle, allowing them inside. Therein, a massive man-made cavern, stretching for what seemed to be a mile straight down, could be seen. But just as the team decided to leave, the door slammed shut, sand slowly started filling the room, and the team was faced with new puzzles to solve. Can they do it in time?

In the real-time cooperative game Curio: The Lost Temple, players take the role of the archaeological team as they try to escape the Lost Temple. To do this, they need to communicate and collaborate to solve an unending slew of puzzles.

Unlike other games in this genre, Curio: The Lost Temple is endlessly replayable, even by the same players. Using a unique module-based system, players manipulate, sort, rotate, and search puzzle components to arrive at a distinct answer.

Endless Pass from newcomer Núria Casellas is due out in April 2018, and it checks off the "viking" theme box for the year:

Enter the Endless Pass, survive the never-ending horde of the Endless, and compete with other vikings to claim the title of Conqueror of the Pass!

In Endless Pass, players fight the scaly Endless to gain glory. The pass is also filled with weapons and runes to aid in defeating Endless, while allowing you to heal yourself. Combined with your action cards like attack, defend, evade, steal, and hide, you have more ways to defeat, evade, or defend against the Endless. However, whatever Endless are not defeated continue to plague the other vikings as they walk the Pass! You may also battle the other vikings. After all, you are fighting for glory and a place in Valhalla.

The last viking standing or the first to acquire ten glory, while surviving the turn, wins the game. If none of the players survive, then the player with most glory is declared the Conqueror in Valhalla.

• And where vikings lead, surely Lovecraftian beings are sure to follow, as is the case with another April 2018 release: A'Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions, a design by Jay Treat that bears this description:

Summon the Great Old Ones by having them align their bodies over Arkham.

In the game A'Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions, players gather in teams of two. Each team consists of a cultist player and a Great Old One player. The cultist is assisting the Great Old One and attempting to summon them to our plane. To do this, the cultist instructs their deity, with great veneration, to place an appendage on top of an Arkham landmark to complete a specific pattern. The problem is that it is nigh impossible to have one Great Old One form this pattern by itself; that's why if another deity is touching any parts of your pattern, you can use that appendage to complete your own pattern!

Up to three teams of two can play in this contortionist battle of positioning.

• Another May 2018 release is Doppelgänger from Stephen Avery and Robert Burke, which is a hidden role game for 4-8 players that's described as akin to a "co-operative dungeon delve":

Each player takes the role of an intrepid adventurer who will help the group overcome great perils. However some among them are conniving doppelgängers who work against the party to bring their downfall.

Each turn the players confront a challenge requiring a combination of cards. The party leader selects which adventurers will help him win the encounter. Everyone selected contributes a card to the pool and others are added from the draw pile. Success brings rewards and moves the party closer to uncovering the hidden truth. Failure brings pain and moves the doppelgängers one step closer to victory.

• Finally — for now at least — is Susumu Kawasaki's Spy Tricks, which first appeared in 2016 from the designer's own Kawasaki Factory brand. Shlasinger published a trio of Kawasaki titles — Traders of Carthage, Stack Market, and the ingenious R-Eco — in the mid-2000s when he ran Z-Man Games, and now he has another clever Kawasaki design.

Spy Tricks is a trick-taking game, but the tricks are merely a tool as your real goal is figuring out which card has been removed from the deck, and winning tricks gives you more control in your guesses. Here's an overview of the game that I recorded in 2016 after the game debuted at Tokyo Game Market:

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