Toy Fair 2013: Cryptozoic Has a Whole Lot in Store for 2013

By jason - February 15, 2013

We’ve seen some great-looking new games at this year’s Toy Fair, but no one could match the sheer volume of Cryptozoic’s output.  Showcasing a staggering amount of killer upcoming titles and expansions based on both established licenses and original designs, Cryptozoic is on point to really knock it out of the park in 2013.

Even though it was just released a few months ago, one of the first questions on my mind was, “when will we see an expansion to the DC Comics Deck-Building Game?”  Thankfully, I was informed that there is in fact a second game in the works – a standalone expansion in the same vein as Penny Arcade: Rumble in R’lyeh.  While the name of the set is still strictly under wraps, it promises the same fast-paced, fun gameplay we loved in the original.  Not only that, but unlike the aesthetic of the first set, which was pulled straight from comic panels, it sounds like this set will actually include original artwork.  While I loved the look of the game to begin with, the inclusion of new art could be amazing as long as they don’t make the same mistake Upper Deck made with their convoluted Marvel-based deck-builder, Legendary, which touted its all-original artwork but re-used it endlessly on different cards.  Cryptozoic also plans to offer smaller, themed expansion packs that are compatible with the games, which sounds like a great idea. Part of the charm of the DC Deck-Building Game is in its simplicity, but small additional card packs will be a great way to offer some more variety without bogging the game down with additional rule sets.  With so much source material to pull from, the sky is really the limit here and I can’t wait to see what new heroes, gadgets, and locations cards they have in store for future add-ons. 

Also working off the DC license is the Batman: Arkham City Escape Board Game.  This is a two-player title where one person takes on the role of Batman and the other plays as one of forty familiar villains.  Since the villain, each with their own set of special abilities, is drawn randomly at the start of the game, each playthrough will be slightly different.  Staying true to the Arkham City franchise, Batman will be able to zip around the play area using randomly placed gargoyles to grapple onto and use an assortment of gadgets which come into play through “Utility Belt” cards.  The villain, meanwhile, will be attempting to elude capture while taking hostages to score bonus points. Arkham City Escape sounds like a lot of fun, plays in around a half hour, and includes a pretty gigantic double-sided board that measures almost three feet long.  It also includes some awesome card art that was rendered using the video game engine.  Look for it to hit shelves between March/April.

You may already be familiar with the Walking Dead Board Game, a co-op adventure title based on the hit televison series, but now Cryptozoic is looking to expand the brand a bit.  The Walking Dead Card Game is expected to hit shelves by May and will be geared towards the mass market/casual gamer.  Based on Wolfgang Kramer’s popular 6 Nimmt!, the game will feature 104 numbered cards which all feature stills from the TV show.  These cards are shuffled and placed into four face-up rows.  Players then take turns placing cards from their hand onto these rows as long as the number on their chosen card is sequentially higher than the card below it.  Once a sixth card is placed in any row, that player gains the five cards below it and the newly placed card starts the new row.  Players will need to strategically try to gain as many cards as possible while making it more difficult for their opponents.  It’s an extremely easy mechanic that will lend itself well to a party-game atmosphere, especially when it can be played with many people.  The title supports 2-6 players in “Hero Mode” (where players complete to gain as many points as possible from the cards they gain) or 3-10 player in “Survival Mode” (in which players will try to collect as few points as they can).  And, of course, to put a bit of a spin on the classic game it’s based on, the set includes ten character cards which will grant each player with a unique advantage when played.  In addition, another Walking Dead board game is in the works, under the working title “Road to the Prison,” which looks to provide more co-op action but with mechanics that allow players to betray one another as well. 

For some more lighthearted fare, check out ROFL!, which should be in stores next month.  Designed and illustrated by the awesome John Kovalic, whose artwork also adorns Apples to Apples and a number of Munchkin titles, this 2-6 player game looks like it’s going to be a blast.  Basically, players will need to take turns guessing popular phrases from famous movies, shows, books, etc, in as few characters as possible.  Hilarity is almost certainly guaranteed with games like this and I’m really looking forward to trying it out with a group of friends.  With 200 cards in-box, there will be plenty of variety each time you play – even then, a game like this leaves itself open to nearly unlimited sets of fun expansions.

Also guaranteed to be a great time is the upcoming Archer Board Game.  I’m extremely excited that Cryptozoic secured this license and a game bearing the Archer brand has the potential to be so great.  The game designer is apparently a huge fan of the show, so here’s hoping this will live up to fans’ expectations.  Archer: The Game will allow 2-6 players to take on the role of ISIS agents and staffers who are all vying to gain the upper hands and complete their mission objectives.  At the same time, everyone will also be trying to sabotage other players’ missions.  We also understand there is a gameplay mechanic that will have players uttering popular quotes & catch-phrases from the show’s characters.  The game promises to be filled with the same irreverent humor we love from the show and any Archer fan will want to look for this one when it launches around September.

Speaking of television properties, The Mystic Warlords of Ka’a will launch this year as a direct translation of the fictional game of the same name featured in an episode of the Big Bang Theory.  Similarly, True Blood fans will recognize Night Eternal, a game mentioned on the show as having been played by vampires for centuries.  Now, in the form of a card game with outstanding artwork, everyone can get in on the action.  3-5 players can ante blood from their pools to two rivals factions and then play cards which determine which faction they are loyal to. Depending which cards every person plays each turn, they may prove to be more powerful than their opponents and be able to score by drawing blood from their factions pool.  Abilities that allow players to steal blood or move it to another faction come into play as well, allowing for strategic gameplay that’s not overly complex for the casual audience.  Yet another title based on a TV license, Castle: Murder Mystery Board Game allows you to play as characters from the show and try to solve a variety of cases before the other players.  Since this one is currently shipping for a release later this month, we even got some early photos of the quality components the box contains (see the gallery below).

On the more strategic end of the spectrum is the Assassin’s Creed Board Game.  Working closely with the game devs from Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed is a license that really lends itself to a board game – after all, in ACIII players spend a large portion of their time working to secure areas and expand their influence.  While Assassin’s Creed will no doubt cater to the hardcore gaming crowd, MOD X looks like a much more casual-friendly strategy title that plays like tic-tac-toe on steroids.  Players will take turns placing pieces in order to form a number of patterns while your opponents try to block your moves.  Look for it in the coming months.

Finally, Cryptozoic was showing off a trio of titles based on the Lord of the Rings franchise.  The newly-released Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game is another deck builder that’s easy to learn yet provides a fun challenge. Similar to the DC game, each player will be able to take the role of a hero from the film and battle an array of iconic villains.  Each card features great still shots from the film and the common backs on the cards mean that they are compatible with other Middle-Earth-related deck-building cards that the company will be rolling out.  There is also a Middle-Earth expandable card game and a Hobbit board game in the works which will likely launch in time for the next Hobbit film.  The board game, based on An Unexpected Journey, will be a co-op adventure in which Bilbo Baggins and his Dwarven companions will need to defeat foes and gather loot in order to accumulate points.

Cryptozoic isn’t just games, though – they also offer a large range of collectible trading cards.  This year, we’ll see Archer cards, complete with rare autograph and sketch cards randomly inserted into packs, as well as cards from the DC Universe, Castle, and The Walking Dead comic series.  While the Walking Dead (Series 2) cards will launch this Summer include special rare sketch cards, the cards based on TV shows like Castle (with cards based on seasons 1 & 2 hitting stores next month) will feature “wardrobe cards” that contain pieces of actual clothing used in the show – a very cool idea.

All in all, this was an awesome showing for Cryptozoic, who has a really strong year ahead of them.  They clearly know which licenses will work for them in that they have large crossover potential.  We’re very much looking forward to checking out 2013’s lineup and I’m personally anxious to see if more details are released on their DC and Archer titles during PAX and GenCon this year.

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