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Ex-Pandemic devs form new studio, announce co-op board game Leviathan Wilds

Former Z-Man Games and Fantasy Flight veterans reveal Moon Crab Games and release playable demo of debut release.

A group of designers who previously worked on board games including Pandemic, Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Love Letter have formed a new studio and revealed their debut release.

Moon Crab Games is made up of former Fantasy Flight Games and Z-Man Games staff, who founded the indie studio after leaving the latter Pandemic, Carcassonne and Love Letter publisher last autumn.

The veteran team includes lead designer Justin Kemppainen, developer Todd Michlitsch and creative director Sam Shimota, who collectively have credits on games including Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 - on which Kemppainen served as writer - last year’s World of Warcraft spin-off Wrath of the Lich King, app-powered dungeon-crawler Descent: Legends of the Dark and Star Wars board games Imperial Assault and Rebellion.

The studio’s first game will be Leviathan Wilds, a co-op board game that draws inspiration from acclaimed monster-climbing video game Shadow of the Colossus.

The upcoming board game takes place in a fantasy world inhabited by towering creatures known as leviathans, which have been driven into a destructive frenzy. It’s up to two to four players to ascend the creatures’ bodies and remove a series of binding crystals to heal the ailing leviathans.

Each creature is depicted across the spread of a spiral-bound storybook that makes up the game’s board. The book will also form the basis of a connected campaign mode built around the game’s story, with each of 20 included scenarios estimated to last around 45 minutes. Tougher difficulty levels will also be available for added replayability.

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Players’ characters can move around a square grid overlaid on the creature’s body by spending action points - the number determined by a card played at the start of their turn - and their remaining hand of ability cards to reach the crystals and reduce them to zero. Victory is achieved by reducing all crystals - which vary in strength - to zero.

Each character’s deck is unique, allowing them to climb, jump and glide around the board in different ways. The number of cards left in the slim deck represents their grip on the leviathan’s body - if the deck runs out, the player loses grip and begins to fall down the board until they’re able to reach a rest space, which resets their deck. Moving onto rest spaces also provides a way to regain grip without falling. Other spaces reduce a character’s health, grip or increase blight - a status that reduces their overall hit points.

The leviathan has its own deck of cards, which triggers various effects at the beginning of a player’s turn - from targeted attacks that reduce health to effects that move players between spaces or loosen their grip. As the game progresses, the leviathan gradually gains ‘rage’, which intensifies the effect of its event cards.

Leviathan Wilds is expected to launch a crowdfunding campaign in Q3 2022 ahead of a release date next year. Ahead of the campaign, Moon Crab has released a free Tabletop Simulator demo that includes two different leviathan scenarios and four starting characters alongside non-final artwork and story. The demo will be regularly updated in the lead–up to the campaign’s launch, the studio said.

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