The BGW Blog

Tabletop gaming news and reviews

Late last year we relayed the information what Wiz Kids would publish future D&D board games, and today the first one has been announced. Temple of Elemental Evil is the game’s title, and it follows in the steps of its predecessors The Legend of Drizzt, Castle Ravenloft and The Wrath of Aschardalon. According to Wizards:

“The Temple of Elemental Evil board game features multiple scenarios, challenging quests and cooperative game play designed for 1-5 players. The contents can also be combined with other D&D Adventure System Cooperative play board games.”

elementalThe title may sound familiar to old-school gamers, and for good reason. It draws from 1985′s The Temple of Elemental Evil, which was written by D&D co-creator Gary Gygax himself, along with Frank Mentzer. The board game isn’t the only forthcoming product that will bring gamers back to the temple, either. Here’s what Wizards of the Coast has in the pipeline for 2015:

  • A free PDF will be made available in mid-March, which will add new elemental spells and elemental races into the D&D tabletop game, including the return of the Genasi as a playable character race.
  • Princes of the Apocalypse, a D&D adventure by Wizards of the Coast and Sasquatch Game Studio.
  • Neverwinter: Elemental Evil, a new downloadable module for the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment.
  • A new line of 44 pre-painted collectible miniatures from WizKids Games.
  • A Dungeon Master’s screen featuring Elemental Evil art, as well as unpainted, resin miniatures that tie into the adventure, from Gale Force Nine. They’re scheduled for release beginning in March.

I can’t wait! My son and I love to play Drizzt, as it’s my favorite of the three existing games. Temple of Elemental Evil is scheduled for release on April 30, 2015, and will cost $64.99.

Matthew Inman of the online comic The Oatmeal has collaborated with Elan Lee and Shane Small to create a card game called Exploding Kittens. The campaign has 30 days to go, but don’t worry about funding. The team reached its goal of $10,000 within eight minutes of launch. Goodness me.

Exploding Kittens is a press-your-luck card game for two to four players ages 8 and up. Each round last between 10 and 20 minutes and the rules look very simple. Fans of The Oatmeal will love the artwork and humor. Players draw from the draw pile, one at a time, until someone gets the “Exploding Kitten card,” at which point they’re out. However, other cards like the Laser Pointer and Catnip Sandwich can protect you, will still others let you devise a strategy to protect yourself and endanger your friends. If you’re playing without the kiddies, check out the “NSFW Deck” that’s available as a backer reward.

I’m going to back this as I love The Oatmeal and card games. I only hope I don’t explode.

I love it when I see mainstream coverage of tabletop games, especially the old stalwart Dungeons and Dragons. This recent Australian news broadcast emphasizes the game’s revival among Aussie gamers, and draws parallels to the fantasy world of D&D with that of Game of Thrones.

At seven minutes long, it’s substantial for a local news story and does a good job of explaining how the game is played. There is some NSFW language, so be aware of that before you watch.

My favorite part of the video: just after the story finishes, when the camera comes back to the news anchor, she says, “You may be surprised at how many D&D players have outed themselves [at the station] since we put together that story.” Awesome.

Last week I installed Scrolls, the latest from Mojang, on my Mac. It’s a deck building card game, similar to Blizzard’s Hearthstone or Magic Online. I realize that it’s still early in its development, but for now, neither Blizzard or Wizards of the Coast have anything to worry about.

scrollsThe good is that much of the design is very pleasant. The cards look great, as does the battlefield. Card art is gorgeous and fun to examine. Presentation is something that Blizzard excels at and Wizards really struggles with (Magic Online is U.G.L.Y.). Mahjong is somewhere in between. The screen used for building a deck gets messy fast. But the real problem is in gameplay.

Look at the image to the right. Cards in play are represented by characters on the battlefield. That’s fun. What’s not fun is how each character’s stats are presented. As  you can see, it’s a jumbled mess. As the field gets more crowded, it gets very difficult to tell whose numbers are whose. And the image here depicts a relatively sparse field, with only seven characters represented.

For now, it’s unplayable. That’s a shame, as I love deck-builders. I hope this gets cleaned up soon, because for now, I can’t play or recommend Scrolls.


This week’s featured Kickstarter project is The Demise of Dr. Frankenstein from Joe Magic Games. In it, you’re tasked with sneaking off to the graveyard, procuring various body parts, learning the secretes of reanimation and finally assembling your own horrific monster. Don’t let the villagers get wind of your doings, however, or they’ll attack and burn down your lab. What I love here is that you get plastic “body parts” to physically assemble into your own walking abomination.

It’s already funded, so hop aboard if you’re interested in playing.

Sometimes a DM needs a hand. Other times, a campaign goes in a new direction or an impromptu get-together turns into a game session. In those instances, you need ideas fast, and that’s where Dungeon Dice come in.

This set of five, six-sided dice each feature various dungeon rooms, terrain and layouts, and they all connect via two routes. No two sides are the same, so they’ll be useful for a good long time. Just roll, assemble and begin you adventure! They’re also nice and chunky, and everyone loves rolling big, heavy dice.

For being clever and helpful, Dungeon Dice are our accessory of the week.

This post has two purposes. First, to introduce the new Board Games Weekly YouTube channel, and second, to introduce Magic Mondays.

Here’s how this works. Every Monday, Intern William and I will spin the wheel of booster packs and open the deck that it chooses, letting you look inside. At the end of the month, I’ll take the cards from all packs opened this way and attempt to assemble a playable, 30-card deck. Note that the wheel will always contain a variety of packs, including one mystery pack that will only be revealed if and when the wheel chooses it. This week’s selections were:

  1. Khans of Tarkir
  2. 2012 Core Set
  3. 2014 Core Set
  4. Dark Ascension
  5. Journey into Nyx
  6. ?

You can watch the inaugural video below. As a side note, I’m very much a student of shooting video, so roll for patience. Crit success!

Now, here are the cards that were in that booster:


I sense a disturbance in the For– OH MY GOD THAT’S AMAZING.

Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures game is a lot of fun. You get to fly classic ships in tactical format. There’s a lot of strategy and the minis themselves are beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that they deserve an equally-gorgeous playing surface. Fan Ruark Dreher answered that call by going way over the top.

Check out this incredible play table fan Ruark made himself. The star field on the regulation 36″ x 36″ surface is created by tiny holes that Ruark drilled, each lit from underneath. The table is edged with a six-inch, illuminated border, so there’s plenty of room for players’ cards and other gaming materials. LED lights underneath the borders can change color and are remote controlled.

This is about the best accessory we’ve seen yet. Great job, Ruark. Now I’m dying to play X-Wing.

A few months ago I was at my friend’s house for game night. We were having a great time until I decided to flail my arms wildly and spill beer all over myself. Fortunately, the game pieces were spared but I smelled like a brewery. If only I had been using a Drinklip.

These awesome things securely grip the edge of nearly any table or desk and can accommodate most typical glasses, bottles and cans. I have one on my desk at home, and find it to be right at home at the gaming table, too. Not only does it help prevent spilling on your precious components, it saves room. Imagine five people all with their drinks on the table. Things get crowded fast.

For being convenient, inexpensive and for helping to protect my game pieces, the Drinklip is our accessory of the week. I can’t find any pricing on the Drinklip site, but they’re available at Amazon for about six bucks.

Well, here’s what a one-dollar pack of Magic cards looks like.

Last weekend I was poking around the toy aisle in my local Dollar Store when I found these “genuine collectible trading cards.” “What is this?” I wondered. I turned the package over and lo and behold, there were Magic cards inside!

I had never seen Magic cards packaged like this and my curiosity was killing me. At one dollar each, I couldn’t resist and bought two. In the video below, I crack them open and take a look. What was inside? Watch to find out.

Dollar Store Magic Cards from Board Games Weekly on Vimeo.