W. Eric Martin
While at NY Toy Fair 2014, I met with Steve Jackson Games' Phil Reed, and he presented an overview of some of the company's releases for 2014, which (not surprisingly based on SJG's sales history) consists of new Munchkin items; spin-offs and expansions of other popular titles; and a few standalone games. Let's start with the Munchkin monster:
• Munchkin Triple Play: Set 1 and Set 2, due out March and April 2014 respectively, each consist of three Munchkin booster packs that were previously sold separately and are now packaged together to make it easier for retailers to peg them in stores. (Yes, such changes are a positive thing when trying to convince retailers to place your product in stores.)
• Another March 2014 release is Munchkin Journal Pack 1, which consists of three 48-page pocket journals bearing various Munchkin images as well as one new Munchkin card.
• Munchkin Journal Pack 2 is a similar item, with different artwork on the journals and a different Munchkin card, but this item will be available exclusively to retailers who belong to the GAMA trade association. Each GAMA member will receive one Munchkin Journal Pack 2, while those members who attend the GAMA Trade Show (held March 17-21, 2014) will receive a half-dozen copies instead.
• Like Munchkin Level Playing Field, Munchkin Board of Health is a game board for use with Munchkin card games, specifically Munchkin Cthulhu and Munchkin Zombies. Munchkin Board of Health, due out June 2014, includes eight new Munchkin cards and tokens with in-game bonuses.
• When released in June 2013, the standalone game Munchkin Legends was available only through the Target retail chain. Starting June 2014, that set will be available through all retail outlets. What's more, it will be followed in July 2014 by Munchkin Legends 2: Faun and Games, a new 56-card expansion for use with that set or other standalone Munchkin games. (And should you be interested in this expansion, you can bug your retailer about ordering the Munchkin Legends 2 Launch Kit from SJG, as you and five others will be able to get the expansion a month earlier, while the retailer receives a free copy of Munchkin Legends as well as a dozen copies of a promo card unique to this set for use as giveaways or bonuses for those who preorder the expansion.)
• Also due out July 2014 is Munchkin Pathfinder Deluxe, which contains the cards and die from Munchkin Pathfinder while adding pawns and plastic stands for six players as well as a game board.
• The Munchkin Quest board game returns to print in July 2014.
• While not nearly matching the sales of Munchkin, Zombie Dice has been another success for SJG, selling nearly 200,000 copies from its debut in 2010 through 2013. Reed says that the only reason the company didn't sell more is that they kept running out of copies. After the game's appearance on Wil Wheaton's TableTop in May 2012, for example, the game was out of stock for months. To keep the player zombies happy, SJG will release Zombie Dice 3: School Bus in May 2014, with this expansion consisting of a giant 12-sided die and 14 counters for brains and shotguns.
• I already covered Mars Attacks: The Dice Game, due out September 2014, in this BGGN post about NY Toy Fair 2014. In short, players roll icons to try to claim city cards — either in a single go or by piling up icons over multiple turns — in order to earn points or special powers.
• September 2014 will also see the return of Knightmare Chess (last released in 1997) and Knightmare Chess 2 (1998) from designers Pierre Cléquin and Bruno Faidutti — but in a combined edition of 158 cards under the title Knightmare Chess. Yes, okay, I suppose some confusion might ensue between the original edition and the new, fattened one, but why throw away the perfect title?
For those who haven't played, Knightmare Chess is a set of cards that you can use while playing a game of Chess. Each player has a hand of cards, and they can play cards before, after, or sometimes instead of their turns, with some cards affecting only a single move, while others change the entire game. Each card is assigned a point value, so you can build custom decks based on an agreed point total or handicap the match so that the better player has fewer powerful cards.
• Still another September 2014 release is Toxic Zombies, a game you'll feel that you know how to play as soon as you see it. Here's a rundown of the game:
Toxic Zombies looks and plays like Barrel of Monkeys — but with mutated, clawed zombies replacing the friendly monkeys of decades gone by.
On a turn, the active player picks a zombie out of the dice cup, then chooses to use it to hook another zombie, and another, and another, stopping at any time he wishes. Should he drop a zombie, his turn ends immediately; otherwise, another player rolls the color die, and he scores two points for each zombie of the color rolled and one point for each other zombie. Whoever reaches a total of 23 points first wins!
• The last item in this round-up — but hardly the last thing you'll see from SJG in 2014 — is the August 2014 release of Hipster Dice. I'd tell you more about it, but I've got this thing coming up that I need to get to. Maybe later...