2019 In ReviewDecember 26, 2019
2019 was a bit of a whirlwind at Dire Wolf. With the year coming to a close we’re taking a step back to look at what we’ve achieved, and looking ahead at the year to come.
Eternal’s 2019 began in the throes of a coup in snowy Kosul, where the would-be-usurper Yushkov seized Korovyat Palace and installed himself as the new Oren. Defiance, the fifth card set, was our first major departure from the family politics of Argenport, and began to explore the wider world of Myria. Mercifully, Yushkov’s rule proved short-lived, as Svetya’s Homecoming in March put an end to the tyrant (and introduced the first new Scion that we’ve seen since Rolant met his end).
It was around that time that we also introduced the Eternal Community Store, where players gained Influence (Influence!) by watching Eternal streams on Twitch, that they could then redeem for a variety of in-game content. From the beginning, the Community Store was an experiment in how we could help foster community engagement outside of the game itself, and the feedback we received from streamers and viewers led to some pretty substantial changes to the system along the way. There were some ups and downs – it was a new idea on several fronts, and posed some unforeseen challenges – but remains a good example of our commitment to both innovation and exploring new ways to deliver content to players.
June saw the groundwork for our second major setting shift, as bold pioneers from Myria began to forge their way into the deadly Shadowlands. Dark Frontier, the sixth set, shifted the competitive metagame in advance of the first Eternal World Championship, where Adreus’ Rakano Valkyrie would rise up to cut down the competition.
The summer began to chart the road ahead for Eternal, with the introduction of the Expedition format to showcase a rotating selection emphasizing newer cards, the release on Nintendo Switch, the introduction of Practice mode, and the oft-requested release of the first wave of Eternal t-shirts, playmats, and merch. With the announcement of the second season of organized play, and new ways to qualify for the 2020 Eternal World Championship, the next chapter in Eternal’s story is coming into focus.
The summer also began to dive into the world beyond the Shadowlands for the first time. Trials of Grodov introduced us to the people of a new (to us, anyway) land, with traditions and values far removed from the backbiting politics of Myria. We’d see more of the people of Xulta, the strange threats they faced beneath a dying sun, and the stories of challenges they overcame in The Flame of Xulta and last week’s release of Promises by Firelight.
It’s a story arc and setting that we’ve been excited to discover alongside our players. We haven’t seen the last of Xulta – we’ll be returning there for the next set – and the time we’ve spent there has given us a wide range of new creative directions to explore in subsequent sets.
Digital Board Games
On the digital board game front, 2019 kicked off with the announcement of a wide-ranging slate of new publisher partnerships and new physical games that are making the jump from the tabletop to the video game world.
July’s Raiders of the North Sea was our first release on Nintendo Switch console, and aimed to raise the bar on the look and feel of cross-platform digital board games. We were thrilled with the response from both fans and journalists, and inspired to keep pushing for AAA quality in desktop and mobile board gaming.
Raiders is mounting a serious challenge as one of the best mobile board games out there. Kotaku
Smartly designed, with some wonderful visuals and enthralling entertainment, well worth plundering. (5/5 stars) Pocket Tactics
As it stands, this is one of the best all around apps out there…. A beautiful digital implementation, the game jumps to life on your mobile device. (4.5/5 stars) Pixelated Cardboard
This month’s Yellow & Yangtze – a masterclass in strategy game design from the legendary Reiner Knizia – doubled-down on the new standard of visual polish set by Raiders, all wrapped around a game that’s deep and subtle and wonderfully thematic. We’re excited to get it into players’ hands just in time for the holiday season.
With stunning graphics, Dire Wolf Digital continue to marvel with their digital adaptations. Gaming Trend
This Dire Wolf Digital port is excellent across the board, with solid AI players on the hard setting, bright graphics, and a very intuitive interface. Ars Technica
Dire Wolf Digital does great work, with this their second outstanding app release of 2019 (along with Raiders of the North Sea) and their Lanterns another favorite of mine for its animations; you can add Y&Y to the list, as I think it checks every box for an app, with challenging game play, great graphics, and high ease of use. The Dish
…because then it’s back to work! The gorgeous dice-drafting game, Sagrada, is first on the docket for the new year, with the much-anticipated digital adaptation of Root and more to come as 2020 unfolds. Digital adaptations of wonderful tabletop games is a growing part of our efforts here at Dire Wolf, and one that we’re passionate about expanding along the way.
Physical Board Games
Finally, 2019 saw a substantial expansion of our physical board game efforts, headlined by the release of Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated and the accompanying Upper Management Pack and “C” Team Pack. We’ve been friends with and fans of the folks at Penny Arcade for years, and began kicking around the idea of this project all the way back in 2016 with the release of the original Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure. So to get the game out into the world – to say nothing of the overwhelming response it’s received – has been immensely gratifying.
You need to buy it. This is a Legacy-defining game! This is probably the best experience I’ve had this year. Brawling Brothers Podcast
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated is fantastic. The narrative and story elements are great. The amount of new content each game is astounding but not overwhelming. There are a number of additions that constantly make it fresh! The bet Legacy game ever! Man vs Meeple
My number one was really, really easy, and that is Clank! Legacy. Hands down, number one. I love it! It is fantastic! Really strong story. –Tom Vasel The Dice Tower
Beyond Legacy, the Clank! family continued to grow in 2019 with the releases of Clank! Expeditions: Temple of the Ape Lords and Clank! In! Space! Cyber Station 11. Part of what makes Clank! so much fun to develop is how flexible the core system is; whether you’re looting an ancient temple, sneaking into a dragon’s lair, or running for the escape pods on an alien ship, there’s always some good noisy adventure to be had…and more on the way in the coming year.
This past spring, we jumped at the opportunity to inject some intrigue into the world of Westeros with Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker. As our first non-Clank! board game title, stakes were high as the world’s most popular TV show was coming to an end.
Light on mechanics and heavy on intrigue, Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker captures the essence of Game of Thrones like no other game. If like Littlefinger you love a little chaos, Oathbreaker is the best way to fight for the Iron Throne. Escapist Magazine
A rich and nuanced social party game, and a great pick for play groups Game Informer
Finally, at Gen Con we released Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne, a deck-building card battler that brought the world of Eternal to the tabletop for the first time. With the first expansion, Gold & Steel now available for international preorder and an in-store organized play program coming in 2020, it’s the perfect time to dig in for some fast, fun, competitive card game play.
The Game is Fun. The gameplay is simple and once you learn the game’s terminology, games can be played quickly. Definitely a game any board gamer would be proud to have on their shelves. Geek Impulse
I’m having a lot more fun with it than I’ve had with most of these dueling deck builders, by quite a margin. The game systems elevate it to something quite substantially different. Board Game Barrage
So…we’ve been busy. And that doesn’t even touch on the things we’ve been working on that we aren’t ready to talk about yet!
We may be biased, but there are some really great games on this list. And at the heart of each of them are the players who come together to share, to discover, to compete, and to enjoy the product of the work we do every day. It’s cheesy, but it’s true: our players are the reason we do what we do.
So thank you for the chance to occupy a corner of your hobby shelf, an icon or two on your phone or tablet, some slice of your headspace dedicated to brewing decks or building empires. 2019 was a hell of a ride; just wait until you see what’s coming next year. 😉
The Dire Wolf Digital Team