PAX Australia 2017 Focus – Good Games Publishing

Independent tabletop game development in Australia is simply booming. What started as a rumble only four or five years ago has now evolved into a rapidly growing and expanding industry. Rightly so too! We’re a talented bunch here in Australia. Evidence can be found of this growth when I cast my mind back to my meeting with Kim Brebach last year at PAX, and just how much has transpired over the last twelve months.

I caught up with Kim not long after the doors opened Friday morning, and already there was a lot of activity surrounding the Good Games Publishing booth. Several tables and chairs had been set up, with players not only testing out the established games but also spending time with game developers and playing their upcoming releases. I really enjoy getting on the ground level with games and seeing how they develop over time.

Unfair was a huge success on Kickstarter.

The hugely popular Unfair (check out our review here) will be enjoying a new expansion shortly, which will feature four new theme packs: Aliens, Dinosaurs, Western, and (my personal favourite) B-Movies. Aliens will bring a new currency system, as well as a variety of weird alien super powers. Dinosaurs will bring some huge attractions to your park, but at a risk – so make sure you have an electric fence (à la Jurassic Park). Western will include things such as gold mining and similarly themed activities. Lastly, B-Movies looks to add… well, just a whole bunch of cliché fun to the game in a whole host of different ways.

Unfair is very much a modular game that allows you to mix and match different expansions packs, and Good Games Publishing are keen to explore this avenue. It sounds like a great way to keep the game fresh and interesting. Just remember, though, you are limited to one theme per player. This avoids the problem of things getting too chaotic and out of control, and also creates an even higher degree of replayability.

Expect this expansion and more Unfair product early to mid next year.

Next, Kim showed me Fairy Season, a card game where you play as a goblin tribe chasing and trying to catch fairies to obtain their fairy dust for your end of winter brew. You see, the fairy dust is what gives the brew its kick. The game is designed to be light and fun, and the artwork looked gorgeous, with the fairies taking on various seasonal looks and seeming much more akin to something from Dungeons & Dragons than Disney.

Being goblins, though, you aren’t simply content to capture your own fairies. Often, you’ll be raiding your friends pile of caught fairies. The fairies will fight back and the Fairy Royals will do what they can to hinder and slow you down. At the end of the game, the goblin tribe with the most fairies wins. The game is designed to take only 10-15 minutes to play, and is designed for the whole family. The rules are simple enough, and the artwork eye catching enough for younger players to enjoy – but at the same time the game does allow for some underhanded tactics, which older players will enjoy as they seek to thwart their rival goblin tribes.

Guild Master looks to be a much more tactical board game that will see each player playing the the part of (ironically) a guild master. Recruit adventurers, upgrade your hall, and become the most renowned guild in the land.

Scheme. Build. Adventure.

Trouble is on the rise. And for adventuring guilds this spells opportunity.

Start with a small group of adventurers with different skills. Plan and prioritise their every move. Hire new adventurers to build on & expand your strengths. Weigh the risks of taking on increasingly difficult contracts to earn fame and fortune. Hire labourers to upgrade your guild hall to expand your reach, but get in fast before their price goes up. Simultaneous action planning and sequenced resolution with prisoners’ dilemma conflict resolution helps you co-operate with rivals or contest them to win contracts.

You can’t do it all, so set your priorities and know when to take risks to get ahead.

The version of the game I saw was still a work in progress, though what I did see of the artwork looked lovely. Each of the players will have a screen to shield their scheming, with a central board that is home to various cards and dice. One of the really neat features of the game is its alternating round sequence via a moon tracker. As time passes and the moon changes from half to full to new, it also triggers various character abilities, adding another layer of planning and forward thinking. Timing is important. At various points, the moon will become a blood moon and allow for very powerful abilities to be used. The game takes place over a number of rounds and is expected to last anywhere from 80-120 minutes. Look for the Kickstarter around late February or early March 2018.

Last, but certainly not least, Kim took me over to Monstrous, Good Games Publishing’s first title and Kim’s own project (check out our review here). The expansion ‘Release the Kraken’ is finally on its way, bringing with it a new location and a swathe of beefy new monsters, including the enormous Kraken itself. For those who haven’t played the game or checked it out, Monstrous requires a degree of dexterity as you flick cards onto the table, something that Kim has perfected. He managed to hit seven out of his eight targets until he swapped to his off-hand, which I’m told his friends and family force him to play with now to keep the game fair. The cards have a really nice textured finish which helps them to catch each other and reduce slide; the game has also been tested with (and you’re welcome to use) card sleeves as well.

Lots of Kraken tentacles being thrown all over the table destroying things sounds like a whole bunch of chaotic fun, and is sure to lure both original players back to the game (and hopefully plenty of new players as well). Look for it on Kickstarter late November or early December. You’ll be able to pick up just the expansion itself if you own the original game, or a bundle which includes both the base game and the ‘Release the Kraken’ expansion.

Further to this, Kim assures me that Good Games Publishing have plenty of games lined up for 2018. So much so, that they’re really struggling to choose which games to publish with so much quality content coming their way. Sounds like a good problem to have.

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