Cardboard Cinema: LOTR, American Psycho, The World Series Of Board Games, And Zine Quest

If you are a tabletop diehard with a little disposable income, then the months of July and August are something of a budgetary gauntlet. From Comic-Con in San Diego to Gen Con — the, uh, Comic-Con of tabletop games — in Indianapolis, these past two weeks have provided countless opportunities for you to spend money on travel and conference goodies.

Thankfully for the rest of us, the last week has also brought some exciting news for fans of board games and TTRPGs. From an "American Psycho" card game to the upcoming World Series of Board Games, here are all the best bits of tabletop news for your August. Now go capture a little bit of that convention experience by spending way too much money on Zine Quest titles.

American Psycho gets cardboard

In the rush to adapt every released film into a board game, I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone turned their sights to "American Psycho." After all, the Huey Lewis and the News scene perfectly captures the energy of explaining a set of rules to a new group of friends. Here you are, waxing poetic about evolving game mechanics and the undisputed masterpieces of Reiner Knizia, and that one friend who always drinks your expensive IPAs is barely paying attention. Hey, Paul!

Thankfully, the closest we'll ever have to an "American Psycho" bloodbath in my board game group might be "American Psycho: A Killer Game," the new trick-taking game from Renegade Game Studios. Developed by Dan Blanchett — creator of the much-loved "Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein" — "American Psycho: A Killer Time" is described as a game of "yuppie one-upmanship," where players compete for the most valuable elements of wealth while committing the occasional murder in the process.

And while board games have always been adept at showing the seedy sides of capitalism, sometimes you want something a bit bloodier and more thematic to show off the dangers of being a soulless corporate monster. "American Psycho: A Killer Game" does not have an official release date on the Renegade website, but it does look to retail at a very affordable $30 price tag. It should slot neatly next to adaptations of games like "My Bloody Valentine" in your tabletop collection.

Lord of the Rings goes 5E

Great news for all you dungeon masters out there: thanks to a new release from the team at Free League Publishing, you can stop retrofitting "Dungeons & Dragons" with elements of "Lord of the Rings" and just run a proper 5E Middle-earth adventure. Earlier this week, the Swedish publisher announced that they would be adapting their license for "The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying," a new add-on that allows players to build a custom D20 adventure from the Shire to Gondor.

This is the second prominent "Lord of the Rings" release for roleplaying developer Free League Publishing. Back in March 2021, Free League successfully launched a second edition of "The One Ring RPG," their standalone RPG based in part on the Year Zero Engine made famous in games like "Tales From the Loop" and the "Alien" RPG. But in an industry dominated by "Dungeons & Dragons," it is often much easier to change the setting than the mechanics. A 5E alternative will be a welcome addition to those who want to explore Middle-earth without learning a brand new set of combat rules.

According to Free League, the "Lord of the Rings" RPG will be available for preorder this fall, with physical copies of the adaptation shipping sometime in Q1 2023. That should give you plenty of time to convince your regular group to give this version a spin. Now that barefoot "gnome" can be the hobbit it was always meant to be.

Welcome to the World Series of Board Games

As someone who spent way too much time watching the World Series of Poker in my college dorm room, I've always fantasized about high-dollar stakes in games of chance and skill. But now, as a thirtysomething, I'd settle for a friendly game of "Terraforming Mars" with people who seem to be taking it as seriously as me. That's why I was so charmed to learn more about the upcoming World Series of Board Games, an annual Las Vegas tournament for the best and the brightest of the board game community.

Established in 2019, the World Series of Board Games – hitherto known as WSBG for word count purposes – invites participants to participate in tournament-style play, with one of 16 games being drawn randomly in each round. These games range from classics like "Carcassone" or "Catan" to more modern games like "Gaia Project" and "Wingspan." In total, the WSBG will hand out over $100,00 in cash prizes to the finalists, and players can choose from several packages (including a stay-and-play option that will allow you to keep playing for fun even after you've been eliminated).

So even if you're not someone drawn to heated tabletop competition, the WSBG might offer you a (reasonably) cost-effective way to meet others in the community and play a few of your favorite games. Be sure to make up your mind quickly, though — registrations are only valid through the end of August, and no tickets will be sold at the tournament itself.

Kickstarter launches annual Zine Quest

As the world of tabletop games has become more lucrative, the door often feels closed to truly independent creators. But with Kickstarter's annual Zine Quest, TTRPG writers and artists can band together and raise awareness for hundreds of smaller projects that might otherwise get lost in the crowdfunding shuffle.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of zines and willing to forgive my indulgence of acronyms, think of Zine Quest as a celebration of DIY RPGs. To qualify, creators must develop an "unbound, folded, stapled, or saddle-stitched" publication, with entries ranging from add-ons to established game systems (lots of "Mörk Borg") or standalone games. With lower stakes — think hundreds of dollars, not hundreds of thousands — there are more opportunities to gain experience with the platform and get your game to the market. According to Kickstarter, 383 zines were funded in 2021 alone.

Of course, the biggest hook for Zine Quest is supporting independent game creators, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice game quality. Part of the joy of zines is the sheer variety of universes and mechanics they offer players. For example, in this year's Zine Quest, you can support "The Devil in New Jersey," a found footage-style horror RPG that pays homage to movies like "The Blair Witch Project" and "REC." There's also "Notorious," a solo RPG about colorful bounty hunters making ends meet during the middle of a big space war — hint hint, nudge nudge.