Dispatches:
The Latest News from Atlas Games

Atlas Games

Butt-Kicking Feng Shui 2 Bundle of Holding!

We've got a very special Bundle of Holding sale going on right now. Other Bundles have featured our classic RPG line Feng Shui, but this is the first one to offer the bestselling update, Feng Shui 2!

For just $14.95, you can get our Feng Shui 2 releases in PDF, and for just $10 more, you get some of the greatest books from the original edition. That's over $120 of high-flying kung fu action for just $24.95.

As an additional bonus, you can feel good about your support of The National Film Preservation Foundation's work with your purchase. You'll be contributing to make sure the best of Asian action cinema will inspire generations to come.

Run with the speed of a thousand feet to Bundle of Holding to get your books of mystical wisdom!

Improving Conventions for Everyone

Bright lights are shining on harassment in every part of society, and it's no different in the game industry. The time has arrived when victims and witnesses can seek justice for harassment at conventions and trade shows. I've got some pretty hair-raising stories I could share about creepy stalkers and inappropriate physical contact at game conventionsonce while holding my three-month-old son in my arms! Open secrets finally have consequences. And more fans and makers are insisting on the ethics of the industry we love so much.


San Diego Comic Con anti-harassment policy
(photo credit BleedingCool.com)
It's been more than a year since Atlas Games joined Pelgrane Press in requiring conventions to have an anti-harassment policy in order to receive our support for their events. We insist on a clear definition of harassment, a public procedure for violation, and a policy that's easy to find in the convention's physical space and online materials.

Overall, our stance has been well-received, and conventions have responded by adding and expanding their protections for attendees of all kinds. I've had productive discussions with folks about how a clear anti-harassment policy actually boosts attendance, since people can see before they even register that they'll be supported. And it feels great to support a con that's improving the experience for everyone.


Anna Kegler (L), Rochelle Keyhan (C), Erin Filson (R)
of geeksforCONsent (photo credit Brian van der Brug)
If this is a stance you support, you can bring it to the attention of your other favorite publishers. The more these become community standards, the more leverage we'll have. But don't forget that you can also have a major impact by asking your local conventions about their anti-harassment policies and encouraging them to post them prominently. Local organizations who are skeptical can look at the policies of large cons like the Origins Game Fair and midsize ones like CONvergence. Our conventions will only become more fun for more people with these efforts.

A PAX Primer

Convention season used to be a summer thing, but these days you can find a convention any time and place. One of the cons that's both spread out and sized up is the series of PAX shows across the calendar and the globe. Their next convention, PAX East, is coming up at the beginning of April in Boston, and since Atlas will be there, we thought it would be fun to look at the PAX family of cons.

The creators of the popular webcomic Penny Arcade started PAX in 2004, at a time when they saw disconnected fan conventions for everything from anime and comics to video games, but none that celebrated geek culture all together. They definitely found an audience for this unified approach, and attendance at the show doubled year after year, from 1337 in 2004 to over 70,000 in 2011. Fans enjoy video game previews, open play, LAN parties, tabletop gaming, panels, and performances. And with all those features, PAX has attracted a more diverse attendance in terms of gender and race, which has allowed them to take positive steps to build a safe, accessible convention.

PAX has introduced a number of shows in places beyond Seattle (whose event was renamed PAX West). PAX East, PAX South, and PAX Australia have expanded the brand successfully around the world. They launched PAX Unplugged in 2017, creating a new kind of tabletop-focused convention for a whole new audience. And there are even "Powered by PAX" events starting up in other places, like this spring's convention in Paris.

Whether it's your first PAX or you're a veteran, and say hi to your Atlas Games friends at PAX East this spring!

Interview With An Artist: Cursed Court's Lee Moyer

Ozma of Oz by John Neill
Distinctive art and design are a major factor in a person's choice to pick a game off the shelf. Artist Lee Moyer created the compelling look of Atlas board game Cursed Court, so I talked with him about his choices and inspirations.

There's a lot of Art Nouveau influence on your Cursed Court art. Why did you choose that style?

"Art Nouveau combines richness and theatricality in a clear recognizable style. I grew up admiring John R. Neill's illustrations of the Royal Court of Oz, but it's the poster work of Alphonse Mucha that best defines the style."

Mucha poster
for Lorenzaccio
The costumes don't conform to any one time period, but they each suit the character very well. How did you decide to focus on the look rather than historical accuracy of some kind?
Character image: The Merchant

"I think we ascribe a conformity to European courts and cultures that is drastically oversimplified. My goal with this court was to create characters that were archetypal, not specifically historical. This allowed me greater latitude than 'simple' Elizabethan or Venetian fashion. In this case, the Duke's costume is based on a real courtier (though radically different in color); the Jester is wearing motley that was sewn for me many years ago by the brilliant Yvonne Parham (though much toned-down); the Merchant's clothes come straight from a Mucha magazine cover. The rest are pretty much made up from whole cloth."


You feature a diverse group of races, ages, genders, and ability among your characters. Was that important to you?

"Absolutely. Games have a huge and diverse audience, and representation is crucial. And while this group of characters may seem atypical to some, history offers far more unusual examples, like Poland's female King Jadwiga and Pocahontas in London."
Period depiction of Pocahontas at the English Court


Do you have a favorite character? Do you bet on them more often when you play?

"So many of the models I chose for this game are friends. So asking me about favorites is asking whether I prefer Della over Baize, Kira over John, or Jay over Saamanta. I just love seeing them when I play, and imagining how they'll strike people I'll never meet."

Interview With A Designer: Cursed Court's Andrew Hanson

When we playtested Cursed Court at our Atlas staff retreat, I was struck by how different the game was from anything I'd previously played. So I went to Andrew Hanson, designer of Atlas' newest board game, for some insights on his creation.

Most people have played bidding and betting games of some kind, like poker or casino games. What changes did it require to turn that into a board game?

"My first attempts at making the game were similar to a normal game of poker. The big inflection point was when I added the game board and the 3x3 grid of characters. Almost all of the other changes came as a result of that shift. I described some of those challenges in another article."

Why did you go with the theme of palace intrigue?

"The palace intrigue really centers around the characters. When I first created the characters, I wanted them to feel familiar to players of traditional card games. The intrigue part of the theme is meant to go with the secrets and stakes atmosphere I wanted the game to have."

You made the connection with Atlas at a Protospiel event. What role did spaces like Protospiel play in Cursed Court's development?

"Protospiel events were a huge part of Cursed Court's development. The feedback you get from other designers is invaluable. In addition to Protospiel events, there is a local group of designers near me that meets regularly to playtest each other's games. If you're at all interested in board game design, I suggest you search Meetup.com or ask at your local game store and see if there are any design groups in your area."

Are any strategies unique to this game that differ from other betting/bidding games?

"The most successful strategies in Cursed Court require you to forget about other bidding and betting games. You only have a limited number of chips, and the board ends up having a small aspect of territory control. Players seem to enjoy that shift in thinking as they learn to do better at the game."

What exactly is the curse of Cursed Court?

"The original title of the game was Unlucky Kingdom. That was back when there were only 13 cards in the deck, and the game board wasn't even part of the game yet. Once the game got closer to its final form, it felt like it needed a new name. The alliteration of Cursed Court rolls off the tongue nicely.

"The other main reason for the curse was the different bidding spots on the board. Each of the sets of three or four cards has a name. For example, the Assassin, Sorceress, and Duke is called the Revolt. In fact, all the names involving the Assassin seem to end poorly for at least one of the other characters. Maybe we should have called the game Assassin's Court."