Are you a hardcore gamer, but are just tired of playing the same games all the time? And when I say hardcore gamer, I don’t mean ‘triple prestige golden medals with honors’ in ‘Call of Honor’ or ’Medal of Duty’ or whatever video games you kids are playing these days. I mean hardcore gamers that are going out of their way to put out the effort to gather up a few friends to sit around in someone’s living room and play some real pen and paper role-playing games!

I spent this past weekend crammed into a convention center with around twelve-hundred gamers at DREAMATION 2014, and massive gaming convention held annually in Moorestown, NJ. While there I was able to talk to a number of independent game designers to talk about some of the coolest new games coming out this year, and even got to take hand in what was easily the most exciting and addicting game I have ever found myself able to take part in (but more on that later)! Here is a look at some of the coolest new games that were previewed!

  • The Game(s): ‘Dragon Chess: Arcane Battles’ and ‘Rampaging Jotunn’

Even with all the insanity going on around the convention floor, we were able to take some time to sit and talk with game designer Dave Simpson, Lead Designer and Head of Knighthawk Games regarding their two new games that were on display, ‘Dragon Chess: Arcane Battles’ and ‘Rampaging Jotunn’!

“‘Dragon Chess: Arcane Battles‘ is a tactical board game, and rides the line between board game and war game. Despite the fact that it has ‘chess’ in the label, it only uses a chess like board and the goals are totally different.” said Simpson.

“In Chess it’s strict, ‘checkmate’ and that’s it. ‘Dragon Chess: Arcane Battles’ allows you a few ways to win. You can either prevent the other person from taking their turn, complete elimination, or domination of the five arcane circles spread across the board. Each Arcane circle immunizes certain creatures from being attacked by spells, but it also gives them buffs. Every creature in every unit is different, and has special abilities. Some can shoot with range, some have gang up abilities, some can charge from halfway across the board and ram into your opponent, some are just big fat spell slingers! My personal favorite is the demon, who runs up to the enemy player and screams at them and their stats just DROP. He’s basically a big de-buffer. The game is modular, and in that you build your armies. We have a tier system, instead of just a numeric point system that you’ll see in most war games. This allows for a much more modular game and also a little bit easier of an introduction into the army and crafting system. Instead of saying “oh we’re going to play a 250 point game” we can just say ’oh we are going to play this scale, so build your army accordingly”.

“‘Rampaging Jotunn‘ is effectively a total war game where you play as Vikings. As Vikings, you’ve got your island, but some OTHER Viking tribe has also claimed a part of the island; but you don’t want them there because you want the resources to yourself. So you have your armies and you’re tracking them to try and take their villages and pillage them. There’s also a gigantic… well… giant! A massive titan Viking called a Jotunn, and he squishes everything. If it’s in his way, it’s now flattened into nothingness. The base game is a two player game, but the expansions allow for up to four players. We also have another expansion coming that is called ’The Jotunn Hunters’ which will allow the armies to actually fight back against the Jotunns, and allow the Jotunns to move freely on their own as compared to being directed more by the players.”

As of the time of this writing, both ‘Dragon Chess: Arcane Battles’ and ‘Rampaging Jotunn’ are complete but unpublished; the team at Knighthawk Games are currently seeking publishers. 

  • The Game: ‘Apocalypze’

What genre never seems to die off, regardless of how much pop culture is over saturated with it? Fittingly enough, Zombies! The genre for which our love will never truly die. We took some time to chat with Ivan Turner, Lead Game Designer at 9 Kingdom Publications, to talk about their newest game, ‘Apocalypze’!

“It’s a card game with a zombie theme. The gist of the game is that you have a stronghold, and you place survivors to defend your strong hold. You can also play raiders to attack your opponents stronghold. Those two things are really separate, as you interact through attacking your opponent and vice versa. The game really comes down to being about resource management, and ultimately the goal is not to run out of cards; The cards are your resources. There’s a convention every turn where you’ve got to feed your survivors and discard cards to your discard pile, then you can scavenge in other locations and find more resources and get cards back from the discard pile to use.”

‘Apocalypze’ is now out and should be hitting stores in the immediate future. If you can’t wait that long, you can purchase it directly from 9 Kingdoms Publications’ website!

  • The Game: ‘Secrets of the Lost Tomb’

Almost anyone who has ever seen an ‘Indiana Jones’ film or played the ‘Uncharted’ video game series has probably wanted to explore an ancient tomb for themselves. I mean why wouldn’t they? Well the newest game from Everything Epic Games, ‘Secrets of the Lost Tomb’ aims to allow players to do just that, and they won’t have to do it alone either! Christopher Batarlis, President of Everything Epic Games, sat down to tell us a bit about this new game.

“‘Secrets of the Lost Tomb’ is a cinematic action adventure-slash-science fiction co-operative game where we pull together a group of a adventurers, they dive into the tomb, and they follow a scenario which could potentially be an evil mummy or the pharaoh of the tomb himself! They’re exploring and searching and finding all these adventures and dealing with monsters all along the way. It’s kind of a cross between an ‘Arkham Horror’ and ‘A Betrayal at the House on The Hill’, so if you like games like that this is definitely a game for you. It’s got a ton of awesome art, over one-hundred-and-twenty tiles in the game universe, as it’s a tile based game. It’s really just a ton of awesome co-operative fun!’

‘Secrets of the Lost Tomb’ from Everything Epic Games is set to release this August, and should be hitting stores by September.

  • The Game(s): ‘How to Human’ and ”Level Up’

Not to speak ill of any of the other game creators showcasing new products at Dreamation, but this last team really seemed to capture the true spirit of gaming and focus it into what looks like gaming at its finest. Their next to newest game, ‘How to Human’ was created during this year’s Global Game jam, a contest where hundreds of people all around the world have only 48 hours to create a playable version of a brand new game! After creation, it launched a Kickstarter campaign and was fully funded within another 48 hours! Since going gold, the campaign has managed to fund the project nearly ten times over. The trio from Right After Then Designs of  Game Designer Luke Peterschmidt, Artist Jordan Martin and Game Co-Designer J.R. Honeycutt have stumbled onto something even more magical with their entirely addictive new game that was created in the span of a few hours at the convention this past weekend; ‘Level Up’.

“‘How to Human’ is an all new quick play card game where you play as Monsters trying desperately to learn how to pass as humans. Each player is a monster who really just wants to fit in to human society (because what monster wouldn’t?), so they’ve got to learn “How to Human”. Each turn, every player is trying their best to hide their more monstrous traits in order to become passable as a human. Their claws and stink aren’t exactly subtle! ‘How to Human’ is designed as fifteen card micro-game for three to four players, but it’s possible to ‘double-up’ your cards with a second deck for up to eight players! It only takes about 15 minutes to play a full round.”

“Then there’s our newest game, ‘Level Up’! It’s an experimental role-playing game designed to be played in an elevator! The players are whoever walks into the elevator, with the objective being to ‘kill the dragon’ within the set time limit. Players in the elevator take on one of four roles, a Rogue, a Fighter, a Wizard or a Cleric, and each role has two choices for an attack to use against the dragon. Whether this attack is going to hit or not is determined by the game master, who rolls a good old twenty-sided-dice to figure out what effects the players chosen attacks will have on the dragon. Once the elevator ride is over, the players turn is done, and the elevator lowers back to the bottom floor to await the next player to see if they can manage to chip away enough of the dragons life force to slay it before the time limit! The more players that contribute, the faster the dragon will go down! This game is practically made for conventions.

We came up with this whole thing this afternoon, and beta tested it tonight to astoundingly positive results!”

At the time of this writing, ‘How to Human’s Kickstarter has officially ended, although they are still taking orders for the game for the next few weeks. It should be shipping out soon. ‘Level Up’ is set to be released as a “print and play” downloadable game that will be part of the ‘stretch goals’ for the ‘How to Human’ Kickstarter now that it has reached over ten-times the original goal amount. Other methods of wide released for ‘Level Up’ are being co0nsidered.

With all these awesome new games coming out in the immediate future, it’s going to be hard to choose which one to play first! DREAMATION 2014 was a great place for game designers to showcase their newest projects. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next year already!

Which game (or games) do you think sounds the best? Let us know in the comments section below!