Newly independent publisher Plaid Hat has teased an upcoming board game from Mice and Mystics designer Jerry Hawthorne, announced a second edition of Summoner Wars and revealed the potential return of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn.
Plaid Hat was previously owned by board game behemoth Asmodee, under which it published titles such as family board game Stuffed Fables. After five years as part of Asmodee, Plaid Hat founder and studio head Colby Dauch recently announced that he had reacquired the company, making it an independent publisher once again.
As part of the return to independence, Plaid Hat said that it had relinquished the rights to board games including Dead of Winter - which is now controlled by Arkham Horror studio Fantasy Flight Games - and adventure board games Mice and Mystics and Stuffed Fables, which have both landed at Pandemic outlet Z-Man.
Dauch clarified to Dicebreaker that Plaid Hat retained ownership of horror board game Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein, as well as card game Summoner Wars and expandable card game Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. While the Adventure Book Games brand - which includes Stuffed Fables and last year’s Aftermath - is owned by Asmodee, Dauch said that Plaid Hat held the rights to Adventure Book game Comanauts.
Asked about Plaid Hat’s first plans as an independent studio beyond April’s release of pirate co-op board game Forgotten Waters, Dauch revealed that Mice and Mystics and Stuffed Fables designer Jerry Hawthorne is currently working on a “charming narrative-driven board game” built on “a new game system for delivering those narratives”.
Another “near-future” project in the works is a second edition of Summoner Wars, the 2009 card game designed by Dauch that was later discontinued. Summoner Wars received a spiritual successor in 2018’s Crystal Clans, which was seen off by the publisher upon the release of the final Gem Clan faction in spring 2019.
Dauch added that Summoner Wars: Second Edition would serve as a test run for ideas that, if successful, could lead to the revival of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. Designed by Dead of Winter co-creator Isaac Vega - who departed Plaid Hat following the company’s independence - the expandable card game was declared “complete” in spring 2019, with no new releases since.
“Ashes has fans that are just rabid for it, but it runs into smallest viable audience issues,” Dauch told Dicebreaker. “I have some ideas about how to solve some of those issues so that we can continue to reach a passionate, but not necessarily large, player base and I've got ideas about how to grow and support the player base for these kinds of games.
“Some of these ideas we’ll be able to test on the Summoner Wars relaunch. If they turn out to be successful, I’ll have my eye on making more Ashes content.”
Any future Plaid Hat projects won’t be making their way to crowdfunding platforms, Dauch added, saying “we don’t currently have plans to use Kickstarter” and that the company would instead be offering pre-order incentives to customers and retailers.
Regarding the future direction of Plaid Hat as an independent studio, Daunch told Dicebreaker that the publisher would be focusing on “narrative-drive [sic] games and on building new worlds”, as well as “looking for ways to revive fan favourites like Ashes”.