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Stephen Duetzmann

Nintendo released an Indie Showcase video today. It lasted around 20 minutes, but was FULL of great game announcements. I had a lot of fun watching it, but I grew more and more excited with each passing announcement as the number of family friendly games that were announced grew. Take a look below for a list of the highlights (and buckle in, because there were a BUNCH of them).

Baldo – Summer 2020

If you had told me a year ago that I would see a game get announced that combines Legend of Zelda and Studio Ghibli-esque animation I would have told you that you were crazy. Baldo (not to be confused with Balto. That one is about a dog) is an open world action adventure RPG that looks like it will be a wonder to behold. The colors are bright. The action looks sharp. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

B.ARK Bio-Interstellar Ark – Late 2020

B.Ark is pretty much made for us. It is an adorable couch co-op game where you play as adorable animals piloting cute spacecraft while battling aliens.

Play as Barker, a loveable and friendly pug who heals his friends and turns his enemies into frenemies! Or Felicity, a fierce leader who’s cat rage can really boost her firepower. There’s also Walker, the Bear with a protective spirit and Marv, the speedy rabbit that can zip around in his enemies with ease! Choose your fighter’s wisely, as different tactics can help your odds against the evils that await!

https://www.tictocgames.com/

Look at me with a straight face and tell me that doesn’t sound awesome?

Summer in Mara – Spring 2020

I love farming games and Summer in Mara looks like its going to be a great one! It features all of the farming, crafting, and ranching that we have come to expect. But, it also includes underwater exploration, light seafaring, and the ability to explore a large city nearby.

I had seen this game before in Facebook advertisements, but this was the first time I was able to see some of the colorful characters (many of whom are anthropomorphic animals). This one is coming soon and I cannot WAIT to give it a try.

The Last Campfire

The Last Campfire is a 3d adventure game being designed by a small team within Hello Games, the people beyond No Man’s Sky. We don’t know all the details, but after watching this trailer I desperately want to help these little pillow people.

Wingspan

Wingspan, from Stonemaier Games, has been a massive hit in the board game world. Each of its print runs has quickly sold out as soon as it hit North American shores. And now? A digital version of the bird watching engine builder is on the way to the Nintendo Switch. They didn’t give us a release date (or a release window for that matter), but the fact that it was announced is good enough for me. I love that game so I can’t wait to get my hands on it for my Switch!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Just about everyone is stuck indoors for the foreseeable future and many of us are going to be looking for new things to watch on our streaming services. If you are looking for something to watch and want to learn a little something about games, nerd culture, or any of the other things we love here at Engaged Family Gaming, then take a look at the list below!

The Toys That Made Us – Netflix

TTTMU is one of my favorite documentary series running right now. They deep dive into the origins and evolution of popular toy lines like LEGO, Transformers, and My Little Pony. I have learned a LOT about some of my favorite things while watching this show.

Thomas Games Docs – YouTube

This is a channel where you can go for relatively brief videos that either talk about a specific piece of gaming trivia or the development of an interesting character or game. This channel covers a wide range in topics so you should likely choose the videos based on the topics presented, but they are definitely fun. The video about Reggie Fils-Aime and his infamous “My body is ready” line is quite good.

League of Legends: Origins – Netflix

League of Legends is one of the biggest games on Earth. You might not play it, but you probably know someone who has played it. This Netflix documentary does a great job of explaining the history of the game and its transformation into one of the pillars of the video game world. This is a must watch for any family that is heavily into the eSports scene.

NoClip – YouTube

This is a YouTube documentary series that is fully crowdfunded and focuses on deep dives into games and their development. This series is definitely more for older kids or adults because some of the games they cover are rated M and the language they use is… unfiltered… in some of videos. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the channel. Their work is top notch and very informative.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Family game night doesn’t need to drain the family bank account. The board game industry has been growing for years! A lot of the press goes to $100+ Kickstarter campaigns and other expensive games, but there are plenty of great game that are also budget friendly! Take a look below for a list of 12 great family board games that could be yours for less than $20.

Codenames

Codenames is THE de facto party game in a lot of circles. It is simple to teach, can be played by groups of any size, and has a number of expansions that include everything from Harry Potter to The Avengers. Several of the expansions feature cards that have pictures as opposed to words so younger players can get in on the fun.

Exploding Kittens

This is an absurd card game that was a massive success on Kickstarter. The art was done by man behind The Oatmeal webcomic and the game itself, while simple, is easy to learn and fun to play. We wrote a review for the game a while back (Spoilers: We really liked it.)

Unstable Unicorns

Unstable Unicorns is a card combat game that features whacky unicorns. The art is adorable and gameplay loop as you pass between turns feels very similar to Magic: The Gathering (and I mean that in a good way). We enjoy it every time we play.

Apples to Apples

Cards Against Humanity is a non-starter for most families. This is especially true for families with younger kids. But, that style of game (The card game with a rotating judge) can be a big hit! Apples to Apples is the answer to that problem! It scratches that itch and is silly without being maddeningly offensive.

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

It’s silly. It’s fast. It’s challenging. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun. This is a card game where players slam cards onto the table while reciting “Taco, Cat, Goat, Çheese, Pizza” on a loop. The goal is to slap the cards your opponents plan that match what you just said. Sound bananas? You’re right! But, its worth it!

Kingdomino

Kingdomino is a tile laying game that can be taught in less than 5 minutes and is an incredible amount of fun. The idea is to try to build a perfectly square kingdom out of dominoes while trying to ALSO build large contiguous biomes (yes. Those are $5 words. But, trust me. This is a good game!)

Happy Salmon

Happy Salmon is really, really stupid. But, in the best ways. This is a great game for motivating your family to get up, laugh, and shout their way through a game. You can even buy two copies (there are two different color versions) so you can get up to 8 players. That is WILD.

Funky Chicken

Funky Chicken, just like Happy Salmon above, is also really, really stupid. But, it is stupid in the best possible way. The game play is similar enough that if you like one of them, then you should definitely get the other.

Dragonwood

Gamewright just has a way with games. They find these absolute gems and polish them until they gleam. Dragonwood is a combination of a set collection game and a dice game where players are competing to defeat monsters. The art is gorgeous and the theme is playful. I recommend this to just about anyone with kids who like to roll dice!

Sushi Go 

Sushi Go is the definitive card drafting game for families. The art is adorable. It is quick to teach. And playing it helps to lay the foundation for drafting games that you might play in the future. I can’t hardly count the number of times where I have said, “Well, its like Sushi Go except for…”

Forbidden Island

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice was one fo the first games we picked up after we started Engaged Family Gaming. We absolutely love push your luck dice rolling and the goofy zombie theme doesn’t hurt here. This is among the best values on this list.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Dungeons and Dragons has never been more popular! And I know that so many of you dream of running a wonderful campaign for your family, but are intimidated by the perceived cost. I’m here to tell you that you and yours could be roaming the countryside and venturing into dangerous dungeons without spending a dime.

The internet and a little ingenuity go pretty far nowadays, and, frankly, if the internet can teach me how to fix my furnace, then it can help you play D&D with your kids.


We wrote an article with tips for playing D&D with your kids. You can check it out here.


Imagination

At its core, Dungeons and Dragons is a shared storytelling game. There are tactical combat rules, but you can eschew or improvise away so many of them that they aren’t all that important. What *IS* important though is a sense of imagination. You’ve been telling your kids stories since they were born. This is an opportunity for them to tell the story with you.

I know some folks might think that’s cheesy, but it’s not. More than half of the fun of running a D&D game is watching what the players do and seeing how they react to your characters and actions. That is even more interesting when you are watching your kids. You’ll be amazed at the wild things they do and the stories they come up with!

Dice Rolling Apps

The internet and meme culture will tell you that you absolutely MUST have 15-20 sets of multicolored dice made from different materials. I’ll admit that they are fun, but they aren’t necessary to play. You have a bunch of different options such as:

  • SIRI (Go ahead. Right now. Ask SIRI to roll a D20.)
  • Free iOS Apps like Dice Ex Machina, Dungeon Dice, or Tabletop RPG Dice.
  • Free Android Apps like RPG Simple Dice, Dice Roller, and Dice – A free dice roller.
  • When in doubt Google it.

Rules

You do have the option to purchase the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual from Amazon or your local book store.

However, both the basic rules for Dungeons and Dragons and the SRD or “System Reference Document” are both available on the Dungeons and Dragons Website.

The Basic Rules

https://media.wizards.com/2018/dnd/downloads/DnD_BasicRules_2018.pdf

The System Reference Document

https://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/SRD-OGL_V5.1.pdf

Note: A System Reference Document(SRD) is a reference for a role-playing game’s mechanics licensed under the Open Game License (OGL). This document is published to allow third party publishers to create content using those rules.

Character Sheets

Another barrier that some people see to being able to play D&D are character sheets. They are important to the game, but they aren’t costly. Firstly, you could just make your own character sheets, but there are plenty of character sheets that you can print (or fill out digitally). Two examples from DMSguild.com are listed below. They are both great free resources that you can use.

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/266389/Sleepys-Simpler-5e-Character-Sheet

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/252711/DD-5E-Character-Sheet-editable-fillable-printer-friendly-auto-calculates-bonuses

Adventures

All of the tools don’t help much if you need an adventure to run! The first option would be to make up your own. Draw up some maps, write up some NPCs and make the adventure yourself. But, not everyone likes that (or has the time). Fortunately, there are plenty of free adventures you can download from websites like DMSguild.com. I’ve listed four well-rated adventures below, but there are TONS more available.

Follow The Lights

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/283932/Follow-the-Lights?filters=0_0_45381_0_0_0_0_0

On Her Majesty’s Pest Control Service

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/288956/On-Her-Majestys-Pest-Control-Service?filters=0_0_45381_0_0_0_0_0

A Trilogy of Shorter Adventures

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/208100/A-Chance-Encounter

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/208634/The-Mystic-Circle?src=by_author_of_product

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/209172/An-Urgent-Rescue?sorttest=true&filters=45469_0_0_0_0_0_0_

Miniatures

When you see pictures of people playing D&D on Instagram or Facebook they also ways involved gorgeously painted miniatures on beautifully detailed maps. This is NOT a requirement. I played for YEARS using miniatures that I pulled from old board games and chess sets. Bottle caps, Shopkins, and coins are all reasonable.

Maps can be a little tricky, but I guarantee that anyone reason this has a checkerboard or two lying around. You can form your dungeon rooms by placing index cards or construction paper over different parts of the board.

Another alternative is to eschew the tactical part of combat entirely and stick to descriptions.

No More Excuses

So. There we go. I just eliminated all of the objections. You don’t need to spend a dime to play Dungeons and Dragons with your kids. Now get out there and tell some stories (and make wonderful memories while you’re at it)!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to both video games and board games: Polyomino.

A Polyomino is a geometric shape made up of a group of equal squares touching on their edges.

These shapes are very important to the game design world because of all the different ways that they can be pieced together into a bigger puzzle.

The best, and most popular, example is Tetris. In Tetris, five different polyominoes that each contain four equal squares (called tetrominoes) fall from the top of the screen. Players are tasked with interlocking them at the bottom of the screen with as few holes as possible. Any complete rows that the player creates are cleared from the board as a reward.

The shapes in Tetris even have names. There was a meme that flew around in the last year or so that came just short of personifying them, but their names are straightforward.

  • Square
  • L
  • Skew
  • T
  • Straight

Polyominoes are also quite popular in the board game space. Part of this is because their shapes make great plastic and cardboard components. Their flat surfaces are also a great place to showcase interesting artwork or bright colors. The design reason is simple. The number of different available shapes is relatively small (especially if they are all made of a smaller number of equal squares), and the number of ways that they can be interlocked is vast. This leads to wide variety in game play situations.

Suggested Activities

Polyominoes are a great learning tool and there are all sorts of activities on the web that you can do with your kids.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Avalon Hill has announced the newest Betrayal at House on the Hill game and this time its going to be one for the family. to play together!

I know. I know. I had to look at it twice, too.

Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion is a kid friendly board game based on the award-winning Betrayal at House on the Hill board game. It includes twenty five all new haunts based on fan favorite episodes and movies.

Players each play as a member of the Mystery, Inc team as they explore a spooky mansion looking for clues and searching for a monster. The real action stats once you find enough clues to understand what’s going on. Once that happens one of the players switches sides and plays the roll of the “Monster” during the Haunt Phase.

I love that adaptation. Hidden traitor mechanics are problematic for kids because they aren’t very good at bluffing very often and it isn’t a great idea to teach them how to get better at it. The Scooby Doo version of Betrayal side steps all that by telegraphing the start of the haunt and having someone switch roles midway through the game as opposed to hiding it the whole time.

It will be available on May 15th in North America and we can’t wait to play it.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to it? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Shovel Knight was already one of our favorite games of the last decade.

The Shovel Knight Treasure Trove is one of the best values in games today.

Shovel Knight Dig is coming in the next year or so to provide even MORE Shovel Knight platforming excitement.

Yacht Club announced even MORE Shovel Knight today during their Yacht Club Games presents presentation ahead of PAX East 2020. Their announcement? The adorable block dropping puzzle adventure Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon.

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon follows the adventures of Shovel Knight as he is led on a quest by the mysterious new character Puzzle Knight!

Pocket Dungeon is a block dropping puzzle game so objects like keys, treasure chests, potions, and other objects fall from the top of the screen. While this is happening players slide Shovel Knight around the playing field picking up items and attacking monsters.

The puzzle element really shines in the combat. When Shovel Knight bumps into an enemy they each lose a life point, but if like types of enemies are adjacent to each other, then all of the enemies in that clump take a point of damage. Every step on the playing field ends up being a careful dance as you have to take out groups of enemies in between pickup potions to restore health using potions.

The is a bold new direction for Shovel Knight, but I’m pretty excited about the little bit we’ve seen so far.

What about you? What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Wizards of the Coast has announced that they are, once again, crossing the streams and releasing a Magic: The Gathering themed sourcebook for Dungeons and Dragons.

The Mythic Odysseys of Theros is a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition supplement that will be available on June 2, 2020.

Theros is a world in the MtG universe that is heavily influenced by Greek Mythology. It is a world where the gods literally walk among mortals and their stories become intertwined. It’s a perfect place for heroes to find adventure!

“Legends walk the lands of Theros, a realm shaped by deities and the deeds of heroes. From the temples of omen-speaking oracles to the five realms of the Underworld, the champions of the gods vie for immortal favor and a place among the world’s living myths.

Choose a supernatural gift that sets you on the path of destiny, align yourself with one of Theros’s fifteen gods, then carve a tale of odysseys and ordeals across the domains of mortals, gods, and the dead.”

Wizards of the Coast

Sourcebooks are a great source for new character-building options and Theros doesn’t look like it will disappoint. It will include:

  • Supernatural gifts are mechanically similar to character races. They give your character a set of unique traits. (It seems like these will also be
  • They will add new playable races like the Leonin and Satyr.
  • New subclasses include the Bard’s College of Eloquence and the Paladin’s Oath of Heroism.
  • The Theros campaign setting will feature mythic monsters like Palukranos the hydra that will provide a challenge for even the most brave adventurers.
  • Wizards will also introduce “God Weapons” that will have awesome powers. I can’t imagine that these weapons will be easy to balance, but they will make for great stories!

It wasn’t detailed in the press release, but these sourcebooks (The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica for example) also typically include detailed information about the lands, nations, and history of the world. Many of them even include an adventure set in the new world to help get players and dungeon masters alike interested and invested in the new setting.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. What about you? Are you going to pick this one up to play with your family?

Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Square Enix dropped the demo for the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 with no warning on Monday. Several members of the EFG staff dove in right away (because we couldn’t help ourselves).

Our impressions are below:

Stephen Duetzmann

Michael Melkonian – CardboardConsole.com

“It keeps everything that worked in Final Fantasy XV, and dumps everything that didn’t. This may be the best hybrid of action and menu-based combat I’ve seen in an RPG.”

Jeffrey Walker – Community Manager

The Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo pulled right at my nostalgia heartstrings as the title screen plays the Final Fantasy Theme.

The opening cinematic is beautiful. I have not played Final Fantasy VII all the way through, but I have played the opening of the game. The combat is nice and fluid. Going from battle to exploration took no time away and everything you need to know about character upgrades, items, and gil are posted on the side of the screen without a pause in playing. Switching from attacks to spells freezes the combat so that you can think about your selection.

One thing I really enjoyed is that you have to watch your surroundings. For example, I used a fire spell, but there was a pillar between the enemy and me. The fire ended up hitting the pillar instead of the enemy. The game is a bit difficult. It took all of my resources (phoenix downs, potions, and cure) to defeat the first boss and I only beat him with a lucky limit break at the right time. Overall, this game looks like it will be amazing and I cannot wait until it is released on April 10th.

Michael Duetzmann – Contributor

Star Wars, Lord of The Rings, The Album Rumors by Fleetwood Mac…

Final Fantasy 7

There are some things that just resonate when the opening beats play or the opening lines are spoken.

Final Fantasy 7 was a hand me down experience for me, I played a copy with the green [Playstation Hits] stripe along the cover. Somehow Square Enix has taken that experience I first felt in 1998 and made it better.

The demo expands the story of Final Fantasy 7’s opening scene: The bombing of Mako Reactor One. In both perspective, as the game is presented in real time and a full 3-d environment, and narratively as it features new dialogue, events, and a dynamic score.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 1’s nostalgic power comes from filling in the gaps from the original game. The PS1 featured beautiful backgrounds locked in place and loading times between battle and exploration that reset the pace at every switch. The remake is full of gorgeous 3d backgrounds and smoothly animated characters.

The best way I could describe the game flow was they replaced the start and stop flow of turn based game play with a tidal flow: real time action builds up a gauge that can be spent for powerful actions.

The game offers a “Classic Mode” that features a more turn based feel, and it puts the real time action under AI control. This is intended to cater to players could turn out to be a very powerful accessibility tool

The music shifts in and out of combat and creates a single continuous score instead of separate tracks. Every expected track is accounted for a supporting character Barret hums the tune of Fanfare after a well fought battle. Do yourself a favor and Listen to the opening theme before starting the demo before starting it up.

I could talk about this game for hours, but the best thing YOU can do is play it yourself. It was a 45 minute experience after a quick 15 minute download. What are you waiting for? GO!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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CMON and Spin Master Games are currently are currently using Kickstarter to fund and generate hype for an adorable cooperative card game set in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel United is a 2-4 player fully cooperative game designed by Eric M. Lang and Andrea Chiarvesio where players each choose a marvel superhero and work together to thwart a villains master plan. The base game was set to include five heroes (Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Black Widow), but the stretch goals that have been met through crowdfunding have added thirty one additional heroes and seven new villains to the base game.

The stretch goals have also unlocked six additional expansions that can be purchases add-ons. Each of them includes thematically appropriate heroes and villains as well as new gameplay scenarios. They are:

  • Tales of Asgard
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Remix
  • Rise of the Black Panther
  • Enter the Spider-Verse
  • The Infinity Gauntlet

How Do You Play?

This is a great how to play video that explains provides an overview of gameplay.

Our Thoughts

We haven’t seen this game in action yet outside of some videos and previews around the web, but Eric Lang and Andrea Chiarvesio are talented game designers. Eric in particular has never let us down before.

It is also hard to argue with the aesthetic for families. The Chibi art style looks great when applied to Marvel heroes and villains.

The giant stack of heroes that have been added to the original five is also a great boon. A base purchase of $60 plus shipping gives you more than 30 heroes to choose from. If you elect to go “all in” at $190, then the number almost doubles.

Another advantage to backing this campaign is that there is, quit literally, no risk. CMON has a great track record of delivering Kickstarter projects on time and with gusto. You can back this without hesitation if it sounds interesting to you!

What do you think? Are you backing this one? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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