For many, the current Kickstarter success of Catapult Kingdoms is their first exposure to Halifax-based publisher Vesuvius Media. In truth, I’d likely be in that same boat if I didn’t also reside in Nova Scotia, where I found myself in a unique position to watch this company evolve from idea nuggets to a fully mobile game development hub with an impressive roster of published board game titles.
Back in 2014, when I was managing Halifax’s Board Room Game Cafe, I received a meeting request from someone interested in using our cafe space as a playtesting hub for a new game. They explained their long-term plans for leaping into the world of game publishing, and to my ears, it all sounded like an overly ambitious pipe dream. Much to my surprise, it was only a matter of months before their first Kickstarter campaign launched – Centauri Saga, a space-themed 4X cooperative adventure game. The campaign nearly doubled their funding goal of $35,000 Canadian dollars, and their game publishing journey immediately was picking up steam, while I was picking up my jaw from the floor!
In the five years since that first campaign, Vesuvius Media has averaged a new product launch every four months, including nine full games, several expansions, and even a batch of fancy component upgrades. Let’s take a look at this literal zero to hero story, through a few of my personal favourite Vesuvius Media games:
Based on a game for mobile devices, the tabletop take on MonstroCity (1 to 4 players, 30 minutes) is a real-time, dice chucking romp of the cooperative variety. I find most real-time games to be unpleasantly stressful, but this is one that I’m able to enjoy without a rise in blood pressure. In addition to the frantic gameplay, the presentation of this game is positively stunning. Aside from the oversized monster minis that come in the box, the buildings that form the city itself really help to immerse players in this lightning quick smashy smash experience.
DWAR7S FALL / WINTER / SPRING
It would have been easy to fill this article with games illustrated and designed by Luís Brüeh. The Dwar7s series of games are separate titles that share a narrative journey. Starting with Dwar7s Fall (2 to 4 players, 30-45 minutes), players build up their realm by way of tile and worker placement, competing to carve out the most impressive corner of the kingdom. In the second game, Dwar7s Winter (1 to 4 players, 30-45 minutes), players are now bound together in a cooperative tower defence game, as the dwarves fend off the cold elements and cruel creatures. The newest game in the series, Dwar7s Spring (2 to 4 players, 45-60 minutes), is all about expanding the dwarven empire, through an engine building system that includes raising dragons from cute nublings to fearsome beasts!
Luís’ artwork is accessible and inviting, and his game designs are also clever and intuitive. These are my three favourite Vesuvius Media titles, and it’s a treat to watch friends and family be won over by their artistic and mechanical charm. I’m assuming that a Dwar7s Summer is somewhere on the horizon, but that’s just my speculation at this point!
Featuring artwork from Damien Mammoliti (Brass Birmingham/Lancashire, Sorcerer City), Nocturion (2 to 4 players, 60-90 minutes) is the first published design from George Skourtis, and is primarily a dice placement game. Although this title was met with mixed reviews, I enjoy Nocturion’s highly interactive gameplay, especially when playing with the game’s sweet spot of 3 players. The deluxe components available through the “Up Your Game” product series are quite stunning – metal coins, gold bars, crystal orbs, and a ridiculously ornate first player crown token. If you’re a fan of dark fantasy themes and are excited by games that allow you to bite at other players along the way, Nocturion may be a sleeper hit worth tracking down.
Thanks for following along with my Vesuvius Media fandom! As of the date of this article dropping, Catapult Kingdoms has about one week remaining on Kickstarter. Given my penchant for goofy dexterity games, I’m just a tiny bit giddy to see this one hit my table! However, if hurling cannonballs back and forth isn’t up your alley, perhaps you’ll take a chance on one of the other great games produced by this great Canadian publisher.