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Beyond Monolith Project - Board game systems as a "console"

The other day Monolith (Mythic battles pantheon, Conan, Batman GCC) the Beyond monolith concept.

For clarity, I’m going to post the subject from Reddit as posted by user /r/Lavoisier21, as he cleaned up the post quite nicely:

So Monolith made this announcement today:

https://www.facebook.com/monolithedition/posts/2153445098093795

Basically, they want to make the Batman GCC/Conan system universal gaming systems (akin to consoles) to which you can incorporate minis (that you already own from other games or that they will sell in the future) along with new maps and scenarios they’ll be producing themselves. So they’re selling the “engine” of this system, consisting of various dice, 2 Overlord tablets, 4 Hero tablets, cards and Tokens. separately. Then you can pick and choose what universe of minis and scenarios you want to use it with.

To push this forward, they’re launching two new product lines:

1) Second life kits

With this you will get character tiles and scenarios and so forth for miniatures you already own from other games. This will definitely include their own titles that use other systems, like Mythic Battle Pantheons, but Monolith is also partnering with other companies. For example, Monolith could make a deal with CMON and produce a second life kit that will let you use your Song of Ice and Fire miniatures with new scenarios and tiles on the Batman GCC/Conan system.

2) Universe boxes

This would be Monolith selling you new minis and maps and so forth directly for use in the Batman GCC/Conan system. They could, for example, make a lovecraft themed universe box with Lovecraftian minis, tiles and scenarios and then sell it at a reduced price for use with the system that you have already bought separately. I mean reduced price, because you’re not having to purchase all the tablets and so forth again.

I thought this could lead to an interesting discussion, as it’s clearly going to be a divisive concept/idea.

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I can’t say that I’m surprised by this, I’ve always expected monolith to keep producing games using the Tactical Homeostatic System (the title they’ve given the system used in Conan and Batman GCC; it’s only slightly pretentious sounding! lol).

I’ll also admit that I may be slightly biased, as Monolith make 3 of my current Top 10 games (2 of which are likely permanent fixtures), so despite issues I may have with some aspects of their products, I’ll always watch what they’re doing next.

Anyway, given that outside of the themed Bat Tablets for heroes in Batman GCC, the remaining elements are fairly universal, I can see the appeal of this for those people that like myself, may enjoy having more than one game in a given system, if it has a different theme, and even slightly different mechanics.

I can understand that many will find this to be a huge turnoff; the idea of a cut-and-paste system, where you can drop in any theme and it “just works”, will turn a lot of people off. Many would rather a bespoke system for every game. That said, everything I’ve heard indicates that Conan and Batman play differently enough, that if you really like that genre of game, there is room in a collection for both, so I can see other games could find a place of their own.

All that said, I’m not sure how many games/themes in that system even I would want. However, I am very interested in the idea of using elements from my existing games in Conan/Batman/Mythic Battles/etc.; they noted at the end of the post that they have intentions to do a similar thing for the system used in Mythic Battles.

I’m curious where the community falls on this one.

Some additional points that may have been missed:

  • Monolith is outsourcing the rule books (finally!), so hopefully these start to get better.
  • There was a response to a comment on FB, that full-coop may be coming to Conan. They did hint at a third way to play beyond Adventure, and VS, so that would make sense.
  • Another response said that the Batman GCC hero tablets would work in the system, as long as users didn’t have an issue with them being themed more than the universal ones they will sell in the upcoming ‘pack’.

I find it hard to be too cynical about this since it seems like an actual value proposition for anyone who likes what Monolith does (I certainly count myself as one). I can’t say I’m the intended audience for this, quite frankly, but I think it’s a pretty damn smart idea and a natural progression for their brand. “System” games have been a thing for an awfully long time but, as far as I know, have been exclusively the domain of “true” miniatures/wargames, so it’s pretty neat to see this concept translated to the board.

I’ve only got experience with Conan, but the ruleset is comprehensive and explicitly left open-ended in a lot of cases, and Modiphius has shown us where things can go with a little creativity. I think there’s enough meat on the system’s bones to support this idea, yet enough leeway to ensure a given module/theme doesn’t just feel like a reskin—it should be easy enough to incorporate theme-specific rules and quirks for a given package.

My main apprehension, as with most of these Kickstarter behemoths, is just how all this plays out for the end consumer. Time will tell, but if it means more Conan I’m definitely interested.

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If they can manage to keep the core system available via ks each time they bring out a new box, it could work. In retail I think it would have problems as people don’t like either (a) re-buying common material or (b) having to buy two boxes to get a playable game.

The funkoverse thing seems like their obvious competition to me, and that is far cheaper and already has a bunch of licenced characters. But it’s also a much simpler game.

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@VictorViper I never thought of it in the vein of a true miniatures game, but that’s a great comparison.

I’m not sure I’ll keep buying into new editions/games in the system, beyond the crossover packs for games I already own, but it will be nice to have the option at a slightly lower cost.

@RogerBW That’s valid. I would expect them to offer two pledge levels going forward; one for just the new content and a second for the new game with the “control System” for a slightly higher price.

I also believe they plan to open a website at some point, possibly when Batman Season 2 fulfills, so that core system could become a regularly stocked product.

They also mentioned that they may license the system out to other developers, so that could be interesting as well.

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I think this is a very interesting way of couching an older concept in new terms.

I mean, we’ve had systems like GURPS and even D&D (and lots and lots of others, um…Burning Wheel, anyone? Oh heck, give me a while, I, or other people, will find some more. Does Mobile Frame Zero count?) that can handle thematic changes while keeping the core mechanics the same, and keeping your old stats in a new environment. Calling it a “console” is just another way of saying “Hey! We have a core game mechanic you can change to whatever scenario you like!”

I do applaud them for their efforts, more game devs should be interested in modular mechanics that anyone can use and adapt.

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That’s a fair point that I never considered, regarding other long existing game systems.

I’m really curious to see where this goes, and who they are already in talks with for cross-overs.

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I’m paying attention to this one, I can’t wait to see where this goes.

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I just want more damn dice for Conan, really. And to get access to that kind of stuff, add ons, etc. through normal channels like all reasonably successful and established companies make available in almost literally all industries the world over, including the hobby gaming space. What do these guys do with their profits?

Money fights??
I think they’re opening a web store next year, but I expect shipping will be brutal.

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