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GAMA Expo 2023: Halloween, Factions: Battlegrounds, Emerge, Forges of Ravenshire, and More

by W. Eric Martin

More from GAMA Expo 2023, which took place in April 2023:

• The Halloween movie franchise might be over, but Michael Myers will live forever in our hearts — as well as in Halloween: The Board Game, a 2-4 player game from Emerson Matsuuchi and Trick or Treat Studios that plays like a reverse Specter Ops according to publisher co-founder Chris Zephro.

In the game, one player takes the role of Michael Myers and stalks the neighborhood trying to attack others, while they need to either harm Myers enough to disable him (which seems unlikely) or locate Tommy, Lindsey, and a set of car keys so that they can escape. Myers is visible on the game board only when within view, and if he kills someone, that player returns to the game as a new character from the first Halloween film…until time runs out.

• Trick or Treat Studios also showed off more finished-looking versions of two games that it had first shown at Gen Con 2022: Scott Rogers’ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Game and Chris Cold’s Shadowgate: The Living Castle.

• The publisher is also releasing a jigsaw puzzle line since it works with a number of artists for various horror-themed products.

Forges of Ravenshire, the second title from Sam Stockton and B.A. Games, is funding on Kickstarter until mid-May 2023.

In this game, each player has a trio of dice workers, and on a turn you place one worker to get resources, then remove another worker from the board to get resources and activate the guild of that die’s color/guild. Once you’ve used your initial three workers, the season ends with a production phase in which you use those workers to transform resources or complete contracts, and after four seasons you see who wins.

• I first covered Peter Ferry‘s self-published Factions: Battlegrounds in December 2020 when it was being crowdfunded, and the game is now available through the creators’ website and a number of retail stores.

In the game, each player chooses one of the six factions, build part of the battleground with their terrain cards, then bring in starting units that cost up to ten gold. You can bring in more units over the course of play, with the goal of eliminating opposing units, with more powerful enemies being worth more points to you.

Atomic Mass Games was running demos for the Star Wars: Shatterpoint miniatures game over multiple days.

Jamey Stegmaier‘s Expeditions, due out Q3 2023 from Stonemaier Games, was catching lots of attention from retailers, both in the media room and in the exhibit hall.

• I covered Shreesh Bhat’s trick-taking game Aurum from Pandasaurus Games in an April 2023 post, but now you can see what some of the cards look like in this August 2023 release.

• Another Pandasaurus Games release, this time in July 2023, will be District Noir, a design by Nobutake Dogen and Nao Shimamura that first appeared in 2016 as 聖杯サクセション (Throne and the Grail), then was re-released in 2019 as Fabryka czekolady (Chocolate Factory) before appearing in 2022 from French publisher Spiral Éditions in this current form.

Whatever the setting, however, here’s how to play:

To set-up the game, remove three face-down cards from the deck of 45 cards from the game, then lay out two cards face up to start a line. Each round, each player receives five cards in hand, and each turn you either play one card from your hand to the end of the line or — once per round — collect the most recently played five cards. Once all the cards from hand have been played, deal out five cards to each player and start the next round. After four rounds, the game ends.

Some cards have positive or negative numbers on them, and you score those points directly. Other cards are numbered 5-8, and you score 5-8 points for a value if you have more of those cards than the other player. Additionally, you score 5 points for each set of 5-8 that you’ve collected. And while normally points decide who wins, if you collect all three special cards — each of which are worthless on their own — you win immediately.

• Another small July 2023 title from Pandasaurus Games is Beacon Patrol, which German designer Torben Ratzlaff initially self-published in 2022.

In this co-operative tile-laying game, you want to explore as many tiles as possible, with “exploring” being achieved when a tile is surrounded on all four sides. You can place tiles only adjacent to your ship, so you need to keep moving smartly — or use bonus propellers — to keep your options open. The game includes two mini-expansions.

• Other titles coming from Pandasaurus include Florian Sirieix’s deck-building game After Us in late 2023 (preview here) and Emerge, a game by Adam DeYoung in which you attempt to build up islands in the ocean and populate them with critters. If you’ve ever wanted a game with an ambitious turtle, this is the game for you!

• And given this prompt, I will share the delightful Fischerspooner song “Emerge” for those who might not have previously heard this 2001 track. Wow, twenty-two years old! Funny to think how this will be grandparent music in my house at some point…

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