My upcoming crowdfunded board games for 2023 - Part 1

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Read on to check out what games are on my crowdfunding-list for 2023!
I have a wide variety of games I am currently waiting for, although I've tried to keep within a "reasonable" amount for, uhm, unspecified constraints! (don't tell my wife about this!)
Did you look at any of these games? Feel free to share what games you are most excited about getting your hands on in 2023!


AracKhan Wars - The Card Game
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Original delivery: Feb 2022.
New delivery: Current timeline suggests delivery around mid 2023.
Pledge: Titan pledge (99 EUR).

The first thing that peeked my interest was the incredible art. They have truly done an amazing job with the design and style. I've always looked to find a card game that gave me some Hearthstone vibes in a board game format, and AracKhan Wars looks to tick that itch. I don't really have any true deck builders/tactical card battle games in my collection, so seemed like a great chance to test this out in my group.

The game can be played 1v1, 2v2 or even 3-4 player FFA (free for all, everyone for themselves), which is really cool. You select one of the 4 main factions, which has their unique traits and play styles. At first you can play the standard base 23 card deck included until you are confident in the game and then want to start constructing your deck. Place creatures on the map, cast powerful spells, and eventually win by having the largest amount of points on the battlefield after 9 rounds. The game boasts an easy to learn, but hard to master play, which is great for this type of game. You can also spice up the game by playing alternative modes with events, objectives and strategy cards.

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Example of art and style of the cards in AW.

HYPE-METER: 2.5/4.
I'm intrigued, and looking forward to trying this out. I don't own a similar board game, and just don't know how it will fare in our group (and how much play it will get), hence the slightly lower hype. But I think this can be a solid one, based on the extreme attention to detail and playtesting/quality assurance the team has done.

Valor & Villainy: Lludwik's Labyrinth
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Original delivery: Sep 2022.
New delivery: Current timeline suggests delivery around May 2023.
Pledge: Premium Bundle with Playmat (175 USD).

Valor and Villainy is a zany adventure RPG game with a colorful art style and great gameplay. It's a standalone successor to the original, V&V: Minions of Mordak. The first game is not required to enjoy Lludwik's Labyrinth, but they can be combined/expand each other. Lludwik's Labyrinth's largest addition compared to the original, is the introduction of a full fledged legacy-style campaign. (~20 missions). You can also play "free mode" as well of course. The game can be played as 1vsMany (also in Minions of Mordak) or as full cooperative/solo vs the AI (new). Upgrade your characters, explore the maze (which will change from game to game) unlock new bosses and other stuff in the secret envelopes throughout the campaign, create awesome spell combos with your friends and more.

You can also add lots of the new things in this game into Minions of Mordak (heroes, melee and ranged decks, items and minions). Then there's the optional Antagonist's Arsenal expansion. This will allow you to play Mordak in co-op/solo, or play any of the new villains in Lludwik game as 1vsMany. Just awesome flexibility!

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Game content comparison between the two games.

The things I'm the most excited about in Lludwik's Labyrinth is:
  • More villains.
    • In Mordak there is, well, Mordak. He's a cool villain, but having some more variety for the person playing the villain side (in 1vsMany) is going to be a huge uplift. Just having one or two more would be awesome, but Lludwik's Labyrinth includes 5 more!
  • More heroes.
    • The villain one was more important, but having more heroes is a close second! After many plays you do yearn for more variety. Another great thing with the LL heroes is that some them are more complex with dedicated spell decks. For example the druid and necro decks. Overall pumping the hero pool up to 17 heroes.
  • Ranged and melee cards.
    • Even though the melee/ranged primary characters were easier to learn for new players (less complexity), it was a bit of a downer for experienced players that "lost" some fun and complexity in using the spell cards. Thankfully Lludwik's Labyrinth solved this by introducing new decks for these traits as well!
  • The story/campaign.
    • It looks (based on previews) to be a fun and engaging story. It has secret stuff unlocked throughout, upgrades for the team that you must chose for the next game, as well as fun multiple choice events.
  • Tile-based map.
    • Reveal tiles as you explore and control their orientation, thus making new maces each game. Mordak map is also different each time, but tiles are grouped in various tiers. Here, the maze tiles are all random and anything can happen. It is also cool that you are able to control how the tiles are placed, so some strategy can be used.. :)
Bonus mention: The playmat.
I'm a sucker for a premium playmat, what can I say. The mat looks absolutely insane! (and it should, I paid "premium" as well for the shipping rate for this bad boy! *grin*).

HYPE-METER: 3.5/4.
Can't wait! I've had a lot of fun with V&V: Minions of Mordak, and this looks to be an absolutely massive game with so much more content than the original!

Waste Knights: Beyond the Horizon - Expansion
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Original delivery: Dec 2022.
New delivery: Current timeline suggests delivery in Q1 2023.
Pledge: Fearless Sea Dog with Playmat and dice tray (100 EUR).

RPG game set in the post-apocalyptic Australia wasteland. Adventure game where you follow a set scenario (one and done, not campaign over many games) with different mechanics, story components etc. Overall the stories has been fun, the gameplay is really good (but can be really punishing as well!) and with lots of stuff to do each turn. Level up your character, find new loot, help your friends by fixing their gear and so on. Be careful though, as the game can really punish you for example if you move around too quickly (encounter too many enemies/damage to your gear) or don't carefully assess the story elements as they are told. This was one of our biggest mistakes early on, just picking choices without carefully paying attention to what is being said, and what choices makes the most sense for my character/my gear/vehicle.

Actually, the first game we played was not great, but turns out it was just that scenario that was bad honestly. (We tested the scenario again many months later, and it was still the same experience). The gameplay was intriguing though, so luckily we wanted to try again. The other scenarios and plays we have done afterwards has been tons of fun! So overall Waste Knights was one of my biggest positive surprises from crowdfunding.

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Overview of some of the new content in the expansion.

The expansion adds new mechanics (water resource, ships), new areas to explore (new map), new knights, new scenarios, sandbox mode for a more "free" experience around the wasteland, as well as more variety in form of new items, enemies, upgrades etc. I'm most looking forward to the new map with more areas to explore and new stories to follow it. Being stuck out in the open ocean while something foul is haunting our ship from below... :) Also really cool with more mechanics (the water aspect) to make the game more realistic/challenging. More heroes for variety sake is of course very welcome, same as with V&V. Though the hero pool is smaller in V&V, so less critical in WK in my opinion.
I had to have the humongous playmat here as well..

HYPE-METER: 3.7/4.
A huge upgrade to WK that I am very extremely looking forward to getting my hands on, considering the success the game has been for me. I like expansions where it's just "more of the good stuff"!

Fractal: Beyond the Void
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Original delivery: Dec 2022.
New delivery: Current timeline suggests delivery in Q1 or Q2 2023.
Pledge: ALL-IN (182 EUR).

Finally. A 4X game experience packed in a ~2 hour package for 4 players. Awesome art, legacy campaign components, great combat system, AI system etc.. I'm in!
Fractal: Beyond the Void is a fast-paced science-fiction game where you can explore, conquest, find ancient artifacts, fight over resources, planets, prestige and power! You can select among 7 highly asymmetrical factions, as well as
5
secret factions unlocked through the campaign. Modular board (with events), various scoring objectives, tech to improve military/civil parts of your faction, play action and combat cards and outwit your opponents!

The second box is the modular legacy campaign framework. Huge book with 25 scenarios (different setups, story, art, rules etc), and every decision you make will affect what ways you can score victory points at the end of the game. At the end of the game, a check occurs to select which type of victory points the winner (and sometimes the loser to a smaller degree) favored. Based on those "aftermath" effects, it will push the story forward and shape the next game along that path. There is also a small third box, with the automata, which enables solo play or playing with bot players to fill in vacant seats/missing players.

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Production sample of faction elements.

The game looks incredible, I was immediately sucked in because of the art direction. After reviewing further the actual game details, my interest just continued to rise. I don't have any "true" 4X games in my collection (although I've tried some), so this fits right in.
The exploration is probably the "weakest" of the 4 X's, simply because the team wanted to focus more on building a balanced game with the short play time that is has. If the map was truly random with flip and explore tiles, then that would really affect how you can properly plan a strategy early on. The game is based more on open information and interaction, although some Aftermath modules (from the campaign box) alter setup rules, different tile layouts and some face down components. I think it can work really well, as I do like a combat focused game that has a focus on providing a great combat system and a balanced game.

HYPE-METER: 3.2/4.
The gameplay that I've seen and tested in TTS, is damn solid, so I think this will be a hit. I'm for sure hyped to try it out, but it has to come slightly below WK/V&V. The shorter playtime is very refreshing, as I have so many games that take 5 hours or more!


That concludes part 1, phew! Part 2 can be found here:
 
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