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Hello and Welcome to Engaged Family Gaming!

My name is Stephen Duetzmann and I am the Editor in Chief. It has been a long time coming, and I could not be happier to have a chance to present all of this great content to you.

This whole idea started with an argument on Facebook a number of years ago. I was struggling to find my own unique voice as a freelance video game journalist. It is so easy in this industry to fall into the habit of being dude # 15 million rushing to cover the new Call of Duty announcement. Instead, I decided that if I was going to make a run at this whole “video game writing thing” I was going to try and add something new to the conversation.

We live in a unique time for video games, you see. The medium is still in its infancy as an artform, and it is constantly under attack from people who don’t understand it. These attacks have led to millions of dollars being spent on research regarding the impact of violent video games on our children only to find nothing conclusive. The airwaves and the web are filled every day with vitriol focused on video games and needlessly blaming them for society’s ills. It is no wonder that parents are often conflicted on the issue. The purpose of this website is to help correct that problem.

We’re going to do three things here.

  1. We are going to work hard to dispel some of the myths being spread around the web about video games and what they are.
  2. We are going to work even harder to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions in their children’s gaming.
  3. We are going to help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing. (Because we bet that they will not only be better parents because of it, but they might even have a little fun too.)

This is a pretty tall order, but the staff here at Engaged Family Gaming is up to the task.

I encourage you to bookmark us, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and come back often to see what we have in store!

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Top Ten Games from New York Toy Fair 2019

The Engaged Family Gaming team went to New York for Toy Fair 2019 and spent a day and a half looking at all kinds of new and upcoming games. We put together our top ten to highlight the best of what we saw.

Bunny Kingdom in the Sky

Bunny Kingdom in the Sky from Iello, is an expansion to the popular Bunny Kingdom game released in 2017 by Richard Garfield. The expansion adds a sky game board that connects to the base game by two rainbows. There are also additional cards, resources to collect, and the city tokens are larger covering a larger area. Iello is expecting an April or May release.

Dragon Realm

Gamewright is putting out Dragon Realm, which is the next chapter in the world of Dragonwood. Minimal details are available about the game. We know the name and there was a box for the game, but no specifics about gameplay or components. Gamewright is anticipating a launch of the game at Gencon in August.

Jedi Academy

Jedi Academy is the latest high tech light saber from Hasbro, with an corresponding app. For the first time you can select the color of the light saber, through a LED in the handle. The color also correlate to which Jedi master you select for trained. The light saber also has sensors and a gyroscopic technology which allows it to send details of your movements with the light saber to the app. The app shows the movements as you swing the light saber in different directions, and you can be “trained” in different offensive and defensive moves.

There is also a battle mode where you can duel another player. The screen shows the movements the players are making and corresponds them to hits and blocks. Each player has hit points, and ultimately one is defeated. Like previous light sabers from Hasbro, the intent is for swinging, and not actually striking.

Quirky Circuits

Asmodee and Plaid Hat Games have come together to make the next game to include an adventure book. This is a game for younger gamers, and the goal is to complete all the challenges cooperatively. There are 24 challenges, and the players use programmed motion to move the figure around the board. There is a twist however, and players lay their cards face down so it is a guess on what has come before in the programed motion. This is anticipated to be released in the third quarter of the year.

Snowman Dice

Snowman Dice by Brain Games is a fun, light, and silly dice rolling and flicking game. Each player gets five dice and play is simultaneous. Chaos ensues as player roll to try and get the three pieces they need to build their snowman: bottom, middle, and head. The snowflake represents a wild and used for any part of the snowman. Once your snowman is build, then you need to have an arrow dice to push your snowman to a center marker. The first player to reach the center with a complete snowman wins. There is one additional twist to the game. There are also snowballs on the dice, if your roll a snowball you can flick your dice at an opponent to try and knock down their snowman.

The current prototype has a box for the packaging, but Brain Games might be changing it into a snowball shaped bag to hold the game instead. Look for Snowman Dice to be released later this year.

SkyMagic

Sky Magic is a game coming soon from Peaceable Kingdom. Like most of the games made by Peaceable Kingdom, it is a cooperative game, and is for ages six and up. In Sky Magic players work together to get the magical creatures across the sky and back to their homes. This game incorporates some interesting elements players need to navigate, such as flaps on the game board. Flipped over a flap significantly change the path and options for the players. Sections also get covered by storm clouds and blocked, which adds a challenge to getting some creatures home.

Tic Tac Surprise

Peaceable Kingdom has taken a classic game and added an unexpected twist in Tic Tac Surprise. They created three different games: donuts, fairies and unicorns, and cats and dogs. In each version there are the regular pieces and the surprise pieces. The surprise pieces had a special feature on them, such as sprinkles on the donuts. The basic gameplay is the same as classic tic tac toe, but the surprise is with those special pieces! A special piece allows you to place your card on top of an opponents piece. Now a space is not truly unavailable once your opponent takes it. Tic Tac Surprise is available now on their website

Dirty Pig

We all love silly games to play with the while family, and North Star Games has a new game out in their Happy Planet series which fits those criteria. The latest game, Dirty Pig, has a June release. In Dirty Pig each player starts with three clean pigs and your objective is to be the first to have all three pigs dirty, since that is how they prefer to be. The cards give players the option to make their pig dirty, and clean an opponents pig. There are also cards to put your pig in the barn to protect it from the rain, have lightning strike the barn to remove it, and locking the barn so no one can go in and wash the pig. This silly game is lots of fun and has very quick gameplay.

Zombi Kidz Evolution


Legacy games are hot in the board game world right now. Iello in the Little Monsters game collection has created “baby’s first legacy game”. While the game is not actually for babies, it is perfect first step into the legacy genre. Zombie Kidz Evolution is for player ages seven and up and has fifteen minute play sessions. In this cooperative game you are trying to work together to protect yourselves and drive off the zombies. It is set in a school and has all the adults as the zombies.

Sushi Roll

For any fans of Sushi Go, Gamewright has re-imagined it into a brand new game Sushi Roll! In Sushi Roll each player rolls a set of dice and chooses which to add to their plate. The remaining sushi pass to the next player on a conveyor belt. Then each player rolls their new dice before choosing which to add to their plate. The player board lists the point values for each kind of sushi. Scoring tokens are included in the game as well, so players who enjoy Sushi Go, have the option to use them there as well.


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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Exploring “Ixalan:” the Newest Expansion for Magic: The Gathering!

Ixalan is a set of cards that was released on September 29, 2017  for Magic: The Gathering. Ixalan tells a story about the immediate aftermath of Hour of Devastation. The defeated planeswalker Jace Beleren finds himself marooned on a plane of existence that he cannot leave. It is a plane filled with adventure and mystery as four factions race to a mysterious golden city in the heart of a dangerous jungle. Ixalan features cards that represent the dangers of the jungle and the glory of exploration.

Why is it Awesome?

Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, Treasure, Exploration: These things light up the imagination of gamers young and old. I have not seen a set of magic released with more appeal to younger gamers. To further reinforce the appeal to younger gamers, Ixalan features four separate creature-based strategies to build decks around. With cards of all power levels and rarities, there are a lot of strategies that can be played at any level of investment.

You can see the full visual spoiler here.

Dinosaurs are all the rage!

Drover of the Mighty

Sun Crowned Hunters

Kinjali’s Caller

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

In this set, Dinosaurs are big scary creatures that come charging in early in the game thanks to their human allies. Dinosaurs span the red, white, and green colors of Magic as they represent three different ways to shake the ground and crush your opponent. Dinosaurs all share the enrage mechanic, which triggers whenever they take damage from a creature or a spell. Do not hurt them, you will only make them mad!

Vampires of a different color!

Queen’s Commission

Skymarch Bloodletter

Vona, Butcher of Magan

Vampires from a far away land sail to the island of Ixalan for honor and glory. White vampires make an addition along with their classic black brethren to the game of Magic, as the entire set focuses on creating lots of vampires, and gaining and draining life from their opponents. This excess of life then gets used to fuel powerful effects, where the only payment is blood.

Pirates be after the booty!

Pirate’s Prize

Deadeye Tormentor

Rigging Runner

Admiral Becket Brass

Pirates patrol the waters of Ixalan and are on the hunt for buried treasure. Pirates care about two things: attacking and finding treasure. Raid is an ability shared amongst the red, blue and black colors of Magic that gives additional value if you attacked this turn. Raid rewards players for casting their creatures and spells after combat, when their pirate crews have swung in for damage. Pirates also love treasure! Many spells and creatures create artifact tokens called Treasures that can be traded in for mana at a later time. It is uncommon for these colors to have access to mana creation, be sure to take advantage of it.

Merfolk weave growth and trickery!

Jade Guardian

Watertrap Weaver

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

Merfolk mix the colors of green and blue in Magic to create a theme of growth and trickery. The new addition of green merfolk place +1/+1 counters on other merfolk to make them permanently bigger, while blue merfolk continue to lock down your opponent’s creatures and fly or swim past those with a chance to block.

Should you buy this stuff?

If you are a family gamer who already plays Magic: The Gathering, heading to your local game store or internet card provider is a no-brainer. If you have been interested in coming into this game on the ground floor, there has never been a better time, as this set features four creature based deck building strategies. Combined with cards from the recent Ahmonket and Kaladesh expansion, you can take your deck to the kitchen table or local Friday Night Magic event near you.

Here are some great options for Ixalan products you can buy!

Planeswalker Decks: Jace, Ingenious Mind Mage & Huatli, Dinosaur Knight


The ease of accessibility for this set starts with the two ready to play constructed decks that Wizards of the Coast releases with every new set. This time around the deck features Jace with a force of blue and green merfolk and Huatli, a new planeswalker, who leads and empowers an army of red and white dinosaurs. These decks have always been very solid introductory products, and this recent addition does not stray from that standard.

The Ixalan Bundle Pack

Bundle packs are a great way to buy into a set of Magic: The Gathering cards. They include 10 packs of cards, a spin-down life counter, a pack of land cards, and a nice box to store your cards in.


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D & D Beyond – Taking Your Game to the Next Level

D&D Beyond at first glance is a collection of online gaming tools for Dungeons and Dragons 5.0, but the ease of use and friendly interface makes it more than the sum of its parts. D&D Beyond is an evolution of previous tools released by Wizards of the Coast for D&D 4.0 and improves on its subscription model, and improved stability by running everything in the browser instead of separate programs. All D&D Beyond’s best services are free with the creation of an account connected to Twitch.tv. Paid services include expansion of storage in the character creator and Dungeon Master related tools.

Why is it Awesome?

This is hands down the friendliest and most flexible set of tools for Dungeons and Dragons I have ever used.

The biggest features of D&D Beyond is its searchable databases and character creator. The D&D Beyond Website features not only an all-purpose search bar but a set of icons that lets you narrow your search through specific content, including content made by yourself.

It is important to note how much D&D Beyond supports user made, or “homebrew”, content. Every listing to search for a spell, magic item, or race, also give you the option to create or change an existing one in the same menu. While storage of homebrew content can get cramped with only the free subscription, the ability to play around with the tools was a creative opportunity all on its own.

Before I talk about the character creator, I wanted to point out the “Compendium”: Online access to purchase digital copies of every rulebook and adventure module for D&D 5.0. The Compendium, besides to the news updates posted to D&D Beyond, further supports a one-stop location for all things Dungeons and Dragons.

The character creator on D&D Beyond is not only the best character creator for Dungeons and Dragons by far, it is accessible tool for all levels of family gamers, from child to young adult to parent. The character creator has a “Show Help Text” option that starts turned on, so younger or less experienced gamers get additional information, while those with experience building characters can turn it off for a less cluttered experience. With the help text guiding you through the character creator, you will get detailed descriptions of every part of a character in Dungeons and Dragons as you make your choices.

Selecting the option for race, for example, starts with a simple list, but each selection expands into a full section with scroll-able text and full detailed description of your possible choice. Everything in the creator has collapsible text, which can help deal with the flood of information that can often come with character creation.

When you complete the character creator, which includes detailed sections for race, class, ability scores, background, and equipment, you have the option to either view and store the character sheet on your internet browser or download the sheet onto your computer.

Should you use this?

As a free service, D&D Beyond is the best set of Dungeon and Dragons online tools I have ever used. The Hero and Master subscriptions expand D&D Beyond with family-friendly services.

Hero subscriptions, which averages about three dollars a month, allow for unlimited character storage. This is useful for easy access and updating of a family’s worth of character sheets, as well an ad-free experience. Easy access to published homebrew content from other players is part of the subscription.

Master Subscriptions, which average about six dollars a month, while more expensive, allow you to share any purchased digital product with other players in the same campaign. This option would be best for many families of gamers to share access to one collection of digital books.

D&D Beyond is definitely worth every family gamer’s time to explore and use if they are fans of Dungeons and Dragons.

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Weekly News Update – September 18, 2018

Exciting things happen in the world of gaming every single day. Everything happens so quickly that it can be tough for a parent to keep track of. Between work, carting the kids to everywhere under the sun, cooking, cleaning, and maybe (just maybe) getting a chance to sleep for a few hours parents just don’t have the time to keep up with everything happening in their child’s hobby.

If the above paragraph describes you, then we have an answer for you. EFG will be publishing a digest of some of the biggest gaming news that your family needs to know every Monday night!

Nintendo Direct Brings Big Announcements

Nintendo posted a massive Nintendo Direct video last week that detailed a lot of the games coming to the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Switch through the end of the year.

You can see a list of the announcements in a wrap-up press release here.

We also talked about it on our most recent episode of Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast!

PewDiePie Messes Up AGAIN

PDP used a racial slur while streaming PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds last week. He has since apologized (for whatever that’s worth), but that hasn’t stopped several independent developers filing DMCA claims against PDP. One of those claims has been accepted by YouTube so far, which is a big problem for the streamer because he stands to lose his whole channel if he gets three of those claims.

I wrote about this incident because I truly think this is a teachable moment that parents shouldn’t miss. This is especially true if they have kids who watch PewDiePie.

Source

 

Thatgamecompany announces Sky for Apply devices!

Apple held their annual press event to unveil their new iPhones last week. They announced two new phones: The iPhone 8 and the iPhone X (ten), but the biggest gaming news came from Jenova Chen. He is the founder of thatgamecompany, the company who made Journey on the PS3.

He announced their newest game, “Sky,” will be coming first to Apple platforms like iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. We don’t know much else aside from the beautiful art style.

This is exciting because Journey is one of the best games ever made and all of thatgamecompany’s games have been interesting to play.

Okami HD announced for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Okami is a Zelda-like game that was released by Capcom on the PS2. It was later brought over to the Wii. It is highly regarded as an amazing game and its art style is tailor-made for an HD remaster.

Even better? The HD port is coming out very soon (December 12, 2017) and will only be $19.99. It will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It seems like a great fit for the Nintendo Switch, but they haven’t announced that it will arrive there at any point (yet).

 

 

Ixalan Full Spoiler is Available

The newest expansion in the 25-year history of Magic: The Gathering is coming out on  September 29, 2017. The set is called Ixalan and it is building a lot of excitement among MTG fans new and old.

This new set is bringing back merfolk as a major creature type and putting a heavy focus on pirates and dinosaurs (!) as well.

The full set has been revealed and a visual spoiler is available here on MTGSalvation.com.

 

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Weekly News Update – September 11, 2018

Exciting things happen in the world of gaming every single day. Everything happens so quickly that it can be tough for a parent to keep track of. Between work, carting the kids to everywhere under the sun, cooking, cleaning, and maybe (just maybe) getting a chance to sleep for a few hours parents just don’t have the time to keep up with everything happening in their child’s hobby.

If the above paragraph describes you, then we have an answer for you. EFG will be publishing a digest of some of the biggest gaming news that your family needs to know every Monday night!

A New Wizarding World?

Chucklefish Games, the company who published Stardew Valley, teased their next game this past week and it looks like it will be pretty captivating. The theme is a wizard school that is definitely not based on the Harry Potter universe. Nope. No siree. That would be bad. This one will likely be legally distinct, but have a lot of clever winks and nods to the source material.

We dont have any details yet, but we’re already excited.

Source

September 2017 Games With Gold

Xbox One

  • Trials Fusion (August 16-September 15)
  • Forza Motorsport 5: Game of the Year Edition (September 1-30)
  • Oxenfree (September 16-October 15)

Xbox 360

  • Hydro Thunder Hurricane (September 1-15)
  • Battlefield 3 (September 16-30)

Source

September 2017 Free PlayStation Plus Games (NA)

PS4

  • Hatoful Boyfriend
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • Rigs
  • Strike Vector Ex
  • We Are Doomed

PS3

  • Handball 16
  • Truck Racer

Vita

  • Hatoful Boyfriend
  • We Are Doomed

Source

Wizards of the Coast Announced MTG Arena

Wizards of the Coast has been trying to find a qay to bring its venerable CCG, Magic: The Gathering, to the digital space for years. It currently exists on MTG Online, but that service is difficult to follow and doesnt truly represent what the game looks like when played on a table. The answer to this problem appears to be MTG Arena. It was just recently revealed by Wizards and is currently in a Closed Beta.

Source

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Nintendo Miiverse to End In November

Nintendo has announced the Wii U and 3DS focused social media platform, Miiverse, will cease operations on November 7th, 2017 at 10 am PST.

The service was designed to allow players to interact with each other and share content relating to games on the platforms. Players could draw pictures on their Wii U gamepad or on their 3DS and those drawings would actually show up in some Nintendo exclusive games like Splatoon and Super Smash Bros.

Nintendo revealed the closure details in a Miiverse post on August 29th.


End of Miiverse Service Announcement

Hi everyone, it’s Tom at Nintendo.

I have an important announcement: On November 7th, 10:00 pm Pacific Time, we will permanently close the Miiverse service.

We thank you very much for your amazing support. It has been a great privilege for me to serve as your Miiverse guide, and to see people who enjoy similar gaming experiences connect with empathy.

After the service ends:

  • You will no longer be able to access Miiverse from the Wii U console, Nintendo 3DS family of systems or from an internet browser on PCs or smart devices. All Miiverse services will become unavailable, such as viewing or making posts, and messaging with friends. However, for a limited time, you will be able to make a request to download all the posts you’ve made up to the day of the closure.
  • For Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games that support in-game Miiverse functionality, these features and services will no longer be available.
  • Miiverse posts will no longer appear in the Wara Wara Plaza on Wii U.

Information on downloading your post history:

By making this request, you will be able to download your posts – plus any screenshots saved to your album – to your PC after the Miiverse service has ended.

To use this download service, you will need to have a Nintendo Account linked with your Nintendo Network ID, and must make the download request before the Miiverse service ends.

To find out more about this service or to make the download request, click on the “Information on Downloading your Post History” button at the top of the Miiverse website.

For more information on the Miiverse closure and the games it will affect, please visit the support site by clicking on the blue globe icon or the url below to launch the internet browser.

From all of us at Nintendo, we sincerely thank you for supporting Miiverse all these years. We hope you’ll continue using Miiverse until the service ends.

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Fe is the Next EA Originals Game and its Stunning

Fe was first announced back at E3 2016 and has been silent since. EA revealed more about the game during their GamesCom press event. It is being developed by Zoink Games and follows the story of a fox cub as learns to use his voice to help heal the forest of light.

We haven’t been able to get our hands on the game yet, but everything we have been shown so far is looking great! Fe appears to be a 3D platformer (like Super Mario 64, Yooka-Laylee, and other similar titles). Players will control a magical fox cub as he or she explores a forest and learns to use various songs to help befriend different animals. These animals will help unlock new areas for further exploration. The gameplay itself doesn’t really strike me as particularly new or interesting, but I am captivated by the sound design and the visuals. The heavy use of black in the background and the foreground really make everything stand out. It is tough to tell whether or not the art style will get confusing during combat or platforming sections, but we’ll obviously know more about that we get closer to launch.

EA will be publishing Fe in early 2018 on the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. The trailer is linked below. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments.

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The Final Fantasy XV Universe is Expanding!

Final Fantasy XV released last year. It was one of my favorite games of the year in spite of its flaws. Square Enix has been working since its release to update the game with continuous improvements. There have been consistent DLC releases that have included Power Ranger style exo-suits and individual story modes for two of the Noctis’s best friends.

Square isn’t done with Final Fantasy XV yet, though, not by a long shot. They’ve made several announcements since the beginning of GamesCom in Cologne, Germany that will expand the Final Fantasy XV Universe and give fans plenty to look forward to.

Final Fantasy XV Comes to PC

There were some who had given up hope that a PC release for FFXV would never come, but those days are numbered. The Final Fantasy Windows Edition will launch in early 2018 and will include NVidia Gameworks technology to improve the game’s visuals. The technologies that will be included are:

  • NVIDIA Flow – creates vivid, combustible fluid, fire and smoke.
  • NVIDIA HairWorks – creates dynamic, life-like hair and fur for characters, animals, and monsters that inhabit the game.
  • NVIDIA ShadowWorks – enables characters to cast shadows on themselves.
  • NVIDIA Turf Effects – creates life-like grass and vegetation in the game environment.
  • NVIDIA VXAO – adds depth and realism based on the physics principles shadows and light.

There is also support for both GeForce® Experience™ capture and share tools:

  •  NVIDIA Ansel™, an in-game photography tool that allows gamers to compose shots from any position, adjust with post-process filters, capture HDR images in high fidelity formats, and share screenshots in 360 via a smartphone, PC or VR headset.
  • NVIDIA ShadowPlay™ Highlights automatically captures the player’s greatest gaming achievements in video and screenshot, enabling seamless sharing through social channels.

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition

Final Fantasy XV is a very beautiful game. Its so beautiful, in fact, that porting the game to anything but PC would be almost impossible. The team at Square Enix figured out a workaround though. They have created a game that maintains the same story and 10 chapter structure but replaces the realistic visuals from the original game with a low polygon chibi style. It sounds silly, but it definitely works. Take a look at the trailer and see for yourself.

The simplified graphics make it to the Pocket edition with will be right at home on older phones and tablets, but it also leads me to wonder if it also means that there is potential for a Switch port of the Pocket Edition. Only time will tell, but one would think that Square would want to capitalize on the console’s success in any way they can.

Episode Ignis

We have already gotten two other individual episodes, one for Gladiolus and another for Prompto. Ignis will get his turn during holiday 2017. We don’t really have any idea what the game will be like, but I would make a serious bet that it is more of a stealth game just like Prompto’s episode was more of a shooter.

“Comrades” DLC

One of the most surprising announcements to come from the Final Fantasy XV Universe (and that is saying something) is the comrades DLC. This is a multiplayer mode that allows players to create their own avatars and play through a unique story with different locations. I don’t know who out there asked for a multiplayer Final Fantasy game, but here we are.

Monsters of the Deep VR Experience

Square Enix teased a Final Fantasy VR game built around Prompto last year. This has since been scrapped in favor of a fishing mini game set in VR. I saw this played at E3 and freaked out about it on one of our E3 2017 podcasts. Square Enix has announced that the game will be released on 11/21/2017.

Do any of these things look interesting to you? Sound off in the comments!

 

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Stuffed Fables

Plaid Hat Games has announced Stuffed Fables at Gen Con 2017. This is a unique adventure game where players control a group of loyal stuffed animals that battle to save the children they love, and are sworn to protect, from the forces of evil.

This is the first game in Plaid Hat Games‘ StoryBoard Game series. These are games where both the action and the narrative are driven by a special game book that acts as a rules reference book, a game board, and a story reference all in one neat little package! Each of the game’s adventure scenarios takes place across a pair of pages in the book. The book is spiral bound and opens flat for each scenario to show off a map, or piece of art that is related to the story.

Fables is an adorable game, there is no question about that. But, I think the most interesting part of this announcement is that it is the first in a new line of games from Plaid Hat Games. These Storyboard games provide a lot of opportunities for storytelling in their other franchises. Imagine, if you will, a Storyboard game set in the Mice and Mystics universe? That’s a great fit. Further, all they need to do to release expansions is release new books. This means cheaper production costs, faster releases, and fewer giant boxes on gamer’s shelves.

Are you going to be picking this one up for your family? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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