Cardboard Cinema: Star Wars, Life Guards Versus Elder Gods, And Alice Is (Still) Missing

For the past month, news in the tabletop space was dominated by the battle between Wizards of the Coast and "Dungeons & Dragons" creators over the Open Game License (or OGL). That controversy has come and gone (at least for the time being), leaving us space to once more discuss other tabletop news that intersects with popular culture. It doesn't have to be all "Dungeons & Dragons" all the time around these parts! We are equal-opportunity cardboard lovers.

In the latest edition of Cardboard Cinema, we're looking at an update to the much-beloved roleplaying game "Alice Is Missing" and a few movie-inspired RPGs in February's ZineQuest celebrations. We also share distressing news about everyone's favorite board game brawler, and the latest and greatest "Star Wars" game to grace our tables.

Alice Is Missing Gets Bigger

If you've read any tabletop coverage at /Film, you already know we're big fans of "Alice Is Missing," the silent roleplaying game from designer Spenser Starke. Not only did we review the game back in 2022, but we also covered the announcement of an "Alice Is Missing" film last year and shared our thoughts on what could make the adaptation successful. But while the pandemic may have allowed "Alice Is Missing" to cross over into the mainstream, a new expansion ensures that there will be plenty more mysteries to solve with your friends.

"Alice Is Missing: Silent Falls" is an expansion of the original game -- not a new story set in the same universe. By adding new options to the character creation and gameplay, including new relationship and clue cards, the designers have promised 38 new cards to the game. As Kickstarter noted, the goal is to allow players to "rediscover the game," especially those who have played through a few times and have begun to optimize more than immerse.

Since "Alice Is Missing" is itself a love letter to community-based mysteries like "Veronica Mars" and "Twin Peaks," a new expansion for the game will also help drum up interest for the feature adaptation. Indeed, it remains perhaps the best introduction to roleplaying that I've ever seen. With a wealth of available new games and systems, convincing people to try their hand at more complicated tabletop games might be tricky. But with its phone-first design, "Alice Is Missing" is the perfect introduction to collaborative storytelling for people of every experience level.

Two More Unmatched Titles Enter The Vault

Speaking of games we love: Big news has dropped for fans of Restoration Games's "Unmatched" series, their wildly popular board games that pits iconic characters from literature and popular culture against each other in an area-based brawler. /Film's Jacob Hall has reviewed several versions of the game, including "Little Red Riding Hood vs. Beowulf" and the Marvel-based "Redemption Row," and the series remains a miracle of balanced mechanics and gameplay.

This is why it came as a surprise when Restoration Games announced that two of their original titles were about to be discontinued. According to their press release, "Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot" and "Cobble & Fog" will be shelved due to "the expiration of the publication rights," joining "Jurassic Park," "Deadpool," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and "Bruce Lee" in their roster of non-renewals. This seems to continue the slow phase-out of titles released in collaboration with pop culture publisher Mondo, which was purchased by Funko in 2022.

Given that Restoration Games's raison d'etre is to save good game systems from obscurity, it is a bummer to learn that perhaps its core title will be unavailable soon. Then again, the publisher has certainly given fans enough advance notice, and they have been explicit on social media that this is not a ploy for market scarcity but rather a desire to put their time and attention towards new expansions. If you've somehow managed to avoid picking up your copy of "Cobble & Fog" or "Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot" until now, let this be your motivation to visit the game store nearest you.

Enjoy A Cinematic RPG With ZineQuest

February marks the launch of Zine Month (also called ZiMo or ZineQuest), a coordinated effort by publishers and crowdfunding platforms to shine a light on independent game design. Over the past few weeks, writers and artists have taken to platforms like Kickstarter and Crowdfundr to share independent titles and standalone modules for more established games. As is so often the case, many of these games draw inspiration from our favorite films and television shows.

For example, you might enjoy "Dead Air," a solo RPG described as "'The Thick of It' meets 'Threads'" that will have you running a radio station in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Or you might try "Seven Murders Til Midnight," a game that borrows homicide detective concepts from movies like "Se7en" and "Memories of Murder." My favorite is "R'lyehwatch," a Lovecraftian adaptation of "Baywatch" that pits a party of lifeguards against an invasion of elder gods.

But no matter what games or crowdfunding sites you support, ZiMo offers independent creators and supporters an alternative to the new wave of licensed adaptations and high-quality productions. And while these games may not have the recognition of "Dungeons & Dragons," you may find that your group of friends is somewhat more willing to try a zany one-shot than jumping into a complex and expanding rules system. Sometimes, you just want to be David Hasselhoff and punch Cthulhu in the mouth.

Go Head-To-Head With The Star Wars Deckbuilding Game

While the quality of the "Star Wars" adaptations (film and television) remain slightly varied these days, there's no arguing against the quality of the "Star Wars" tabletop lineup. Games like "Star Wars: Armada" and "Star Wars: Outer Rim" offer board game fans an embarrassment of branded riches, and the options will only get better with the inclusion of "Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game" in March 2023.

Designed as a two-player card game, the new deckbuilder will allow players to take on the role of various characters and ships from the "Star Wars" universe in the age-old battle between the Empire and the Rebellion. Thanks to its $30 price tag, this is also a much more affordable option for players who want a more immersive experience than something like "Star Wars Villainous" but balk at paying $80+ for the more complex systems.

The official press release highlights several mechanics that Asmodee believes will separate "Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game" from other games of this type. This includes the bases system, which determines victory by bases destroyed and not overall points, and bounty-hunting actions for each player. The base element seems similar to Roxley Games's "Radlands," which also uses the destruction of a three-base system to determine victory. Of course, that addition is part of what makes "Radlands" great, and it's not surprising to see other developers perhaps borrow a page from that playbook.

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