Dark Rituals: Malleus Maleficarum

Created by Dark Gate Games

1-4 Heroes battle the Witch Master in this miniatures based board game set in a magic infused Middle Ages realm.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

More Tiny Happy People
10 days ago – Thu, Jan 09, 2020 at 01:46:56 AM

Welcome Witch Masters!

Well, sometimes we hold up an update to include information coming “soon” and it comes much later. Other times we release the information we have, and the rest comes in immediately. This is one of those latter cases and we are releasing updates almost back to back, so I’ll keep it short.

The second batch of 20 production minis has arrived for our inspection. Of the twenty, we accepted 18 and asked for 2 to be adjusted. This means the totals look like this: 

We have word from the factory that they expect to get back to us about the 7 outstanding issues before the start of Chinese New Year. However, that doesn’t mean we’ll have the minis in our hands at that time, so our approval will come after that. We’ll keep you posted.

And here are some of the minis in the new batch.

We hope you will come and wish us well when Neo-Morphosis launches tomorrow. You can register for notification here:

 Coming Soon, Neo-Morphosis: Infestation!

Pick a side! 

Tiny Happy People
13 days ago – Mon, Jan 06, 2020 at 02:06:49 AM

Hello Heroes!

Let’s start with a little history. Back in October, in Update #49, we announced that we had finished sculpting and had produced a resin prototype of every mini. In the same Update and then again in update #51, we said that we had started work on the production molds. This is a long task, but it is coming to the end.

We can now say that all production molds have been created and we are well into the approval process for the miniatures. We have not finished the approval process yet but the few problems that we have seen only require small adjustments by the manufacturer.

A few days ago, we received a box of 63 production minis from China and there is a second box containing the remaining 20 in transit at the moment. These are sent to us as part of the approval process: we receive physical samples that are created exactly the same way as the miniatures that will be sent to you and we check that we are completely satisfied with the quality.

It’s a bit nerve-racking opening the box, knowing how important the miniatures are to everyone. But it was very good news; like a late Christmas present for us, really. Here is a quick summary: of the 63 different sculpts, 58 were accepted as final and we identified 5 that need some adjustment. If you are interested, here are the details:

But I don’t think you are here for the numbers! Here are some of my favorites from this batch of production minis:

You don’t get the full effect of having approved 58 minis until you see them all together.

Wow, that’s a lot of minis! Here is a picture of all 15 approved minis for the core game.  You can see the minis a little better.

So the next stage is to perform the same careful inspections on the 20 remaining minis that are currently in transit and then repeat the process for the few miniatures that need some adjustment. We have already started communication with the factory about the 5 issues in this batch and we expect this to be resolved quickly, before 25th January. Some of the problems may turn out to be very simple, for example a weapon that was manufactured correctly, but bent in transit – these samples are sent to us in a bag, not a nice protective insert like the one your game minis will have.

Finally, we can show a side by side photo of the original resin prototype and final PVC production mini. We are very pleased with the level of detail. Take a look and see if you can tell which is which.

The darker miniature on the left is the resin prototype.

At the same time we completed the last of the cards for your review. This PDF contains the Botanical Cards and the Plague Cards.

 Click here for the PDF of the Botanical and Plague cards.   

After seeing the lovely art on the ID and Item cards, I am afraid these cards are a little plain. However, they are very important in the game.

The Heroes draw from the Botanical Deck when they pick up a Botanical Token and use the Botanicals to fuel their Alchemy Spells. There are many copies of each Botanical Card in the Deck and a few harmful plants too.

The Plague Cards are used by the Witch Master to drain Stamina from the Heroes. As the Soul Track advances, the Witch Master draws Plague Cards from the deck. Then they can be played as an Action by Exhausting the Stamina shown on the card. Once in play, the Plague reduces each component of the Heroes’ Stamina, limiting the Actions they can perform each turn. Heroes can cure the Plague by killing the Witch that spread it.

We want to reiterate the status of the cards. We have had the cards you see here for some time now, but in a different form. Early on, they were hand-written, later they were plain printed cards. We have been using them in our play testing for quite a while. Although the simple cards are not so much fun to play with, they are much easier to edit as we make adjustments. We are still play testing and there may be some changes, but these should be limited to small adjustments to the numbers: we are not introducing new powers, abilities or effects at this stage.

Your feedback has been very useful and we look forward to hearing from you again. Typos and grammar will be fixed immediately and if there are elements that are unclear, we will try rewording cards and rules if we think we can significantly improve the game. However, we will only be making changes from feedback that is e-mailed to support, with “DR Feedback” as the subject.

We have posted many other PDFs of cards, check the last few updates if you missed any.

These are all the cards in the core game, all those added by Stretch Goals and cards for the Cursed Fjord Expansions. There are a few more cards in the entire product line, for example Solo Mode. We always intended to complete play testing on the core, SGs and Cursed Fjord components and then complete the Witches’ Sabbath and Solo Mode, for the simple reason that it’s hard to balance the game when many things are changing.

I do not want to give the impression that these last two packages are not started, far from it. You have seen Madra’s ID card and Grimoire and you know she is part of the Witches’ Sabbath. In fact, all the Witches’ Sabbath cards are done, they are in the PDFs we have been showing. I have a printed and sleeved deck of all the solo cards in front of me here. The art for all these cards is complete too. It is just that the play testing is not as advanced.

We understand that there is some concern over us starting the Neo-Morphosis Kickstarter before completing Dark Rituals and we know that, from the outside, this looks like it will cause delays. However, because different staff are active on these projects when they are at different stages, this will be less of a problem that you may think. For example:

Artists: All art is complete for Dark Rituals. Allowing artists to start on Neo-Morphosis will not cause delays for Dark Rituals. However, since the artists will be around, working for us on Neo-Morphosis, we can interrupt them if any last minute art requirements for Dark Rituals do come up.

Independent Blind Play Testing: This is one of the longest tasks remaining on Dark Rituals, but it is not done by in-house staff. We will not be ready for independent play testing for Neo-Morphosis for quite some time, so there is no resource conflict here.

Rule Book Layout: We are close to starting the professional layout of the various rule books and rule sheets for all the different products in Dark Rituals. We want to complete play testing first. However, this is done by outside contractors and we are not close to doing this for Neo-Morphosis.

Some staff will work on both projects, for example me! An advantage of an early start date for Neo-Morphosis so that its Kickstarter will be over before I am required to make the final edits to rules being used by the play testers.  This timing works well for other staff with tasks on both projects.

Which brings us to the schedule. Our plan was not to discuss this further until we had a firm manufacturing window. We did not want to give you dates that might slip and, once we have a manufacturing window, the dates are set in stone. Recently, work has been progressing well and we have been meeting internal milestones. We think it’s safe to discuss some dates.

The major outstanding tasks are:

  • Complete play testing on Core, SG and Cursed Fjord game play components and scenarios. This is very nearly complete.
  • Complete the Witches’ Sabbath and Solo game play components and scenarios. These are started, for example all the Witches’ Sabbath cards are done, but they are not as advanced as the items above.
  • Final edits of all rule books. Mainly updating the graphics to match the new components.
  • Rule book layout.

There are many other tasks to be done, for example reviewing the next batch of minis, but each of these tasks is small by comparison.

We have two important dates to pass on:

Late-February: We expect to start negotiation of a manufacturing window. Once that date is agreed, we will announce it. They will also tell us how long it will take them to make the game and we’ll communicate that too.

April-August: This is our best estimate of when we will be ready to send all files for manufacturing. We have a much narrower time frame internally, but we think it’s best not to over-commit with you at this stage.

Pick a side!

And a Happy New Year!
17 days ago – Thu, Jan 02, 2020 at 02:13:12 AM

Welcome Witch Masters!

We hope your holidays and 2019 were wonderful! Did you spend the last evening reviewing your accomplishments in 2019 and planning for new heights in 2020? Or were you out partying with friends and strangers? Perhaps you just had an early night. However you celebrated the change to the New Year, we wish you all every success in 2020!

On to the Demons! Demons are the most powerful creatures on Neemoss, and as cruel, heartless and impulsive as you would imagine. Just as the Witches use the Creatures and Minions for their own ends, Demons freely abuse the Witches. Luckily, there are so few of them on Neemoss that they are not drawn through the Conjunction at random.

 Click here for the PDF of the Demon cards.  

We have another batch of cards for you to review, or simply admire.

Here’s a pair of images for the Demon ID Cards, front and back as you would expect by now. When we presented the Demon during the KS, they only had one special ability each. You can see that we have added a second one for each of them, so they feel a little beefier in the game.

The Demons come with Demon Control Cards. When the Demons are summoned by the Witches, they are some combination of angry, spiteful and disorientated. As evil creatures, they may align themselves with the Witches, allowing the Witch Master to control their Actions for a Round or two, but they may chew the head off a Witch, to let them know who is boss. Here are a couple of simple cards that you won’t need much help interpreting:

As well as determining who has control of the Demon, the cards allow us to give them different personalities. It’s easy to look at Haborym and think of cards that give him wild attacks. Let us show you cards for Lujuria, the lust Demon, whose abilities are more centered on control than attack.

We’ve shown cards for a while now, but today we have more! Here are our internal rules for the Demons. This is the document that we use for play testing. It’s not the final rules you will see; they will be formatted in a fancy graphical document, and the Core/Stretch Goal content needs to be separated. But unless we find problems in the last part of our play testing, the actual rules here are the final rules. If you want to fully understand the Demons and the little symbols at the bottom of the cards, check out the rules.

 Click here for the PDF of the Demon Play Test Rules.  

Your feedback has been very useful and we look forward to hearing from you again. Typos and grammar will be fixed immediately and if there are elements that are unclear, we will try rewording cards and rules if we think we can significantly improve the game. However, we will only be making changes from feedback that is e-mailed to support, with “DR Feedback” as the subject.

We have posted many other PDFs of cards, check the last few updates if you missed any.

Pick a side!

Merry Christmas!
26 days ago – Tue, Dec 24, 2019 at 01:52:35 AM

Hello Heroes!

It’s going to be a busy Christmas for us, but I am sure it will be a merry one too. Whatever you are celebrating this holiday, we wish you peace and good cheer from everyone here in our virtual office. 

Work is continuing well. Because so many tasks are 80-95% complete, it’s not surprising that we are finishing a lot of work at the same time. In this update we are presenting a large number of cards for the Witch Master: the Witch ID cards, their Grimoires and the Witchcraft cards, one of the thickest decks in the game.

Click here for the PDF of the Witch ID cards and Grimoires. 

Click here for the PDF of the Witchcraft cards. 

The Witch ID cards will be familiar to you as they are very similar to the double sided cards we showed in the last update, where we mentioned the Witchcraft deck too. This deck has two very different types of cards, Spell and Summoning cards. The Spells are one-time use cards that give the Witches a far greater library of hexes than just the Combat Magic in their Grimoires. The Summoning Cards are used to pull Creatures through the Conjunction to Earth.

We often talk about trying to provide variety and here you can see two examples of this. The vast majority of Creatures are summoned to Summoning Circles, special locations marked with tokens placed on the modular game board. However, a few select Creatures enter play in different locations, for example Skeetor can appear near Bug Patches and Zombie Walls near Possessed Serfs.

Similarly, the symbiotic Horvath and Dagon are a slightly different type of Witch. Most of the evil characters start off using the weaker side of their ID cards and get stronger when they are flipped. Horvath and Dagon start off strong, as Horvath draws power from the symbiont. The first two wounds kill Dagon, the ID card and Grimoire are flipped and Horvath is left in a weakened form. Using Horvath and Dagon will present the Witch Master with an interesting dilemma. This Witch will be a powerful boost for the Legion of Darkness in the early game, but if the Witch Master uses this boost and puts the Witch on the front line of the action, then Horvath and Dagon may quickly take wounds and become crippled.

Your feedback has been very useful and we look forward to hearing from you again. Typos and grammar will be fixed immediately and if there are elements that are unclear, we will try rewording cards if we think we can significantly improve the game. However, we will only be making changes from feedback that is e-mailed to support, with “DR Feedback” as the subject. 

We have posted many other PDFs of cards, check the last few updates if you missed any.

With any luck, we’ll be back before the New Year with our final update of the year, all about Demons.

Pick a side!

My Beauties
29 days ago – Sat, Dec 21, 2019 at 12:15:05 AM

Welcome Witch Masters!

If only we had a flying monkey in the Legion of Darkness. Poor Skeetor will have to do. 

We continue to preview game cards, switching to some of the Witch Master’s cards this time. Every Witch Master needs a Dark Legion, so please take a look at the Minion and Creature ID cards. I must say, we are really pleased with them.

Click here for the PDF of the Minion ID cards.

Click here for the PDF of the Creature ID cards.

Here are samples: 

As you can see, the Minion and Creature ID cards are very similar, helping you to learn and play the game. I won’t review everything, by now the stats and actions should all be familiar to you. But it’s worth reminding you of some details.

Creatures are slightly stronger than Minions and they are unique, but the big difference is how they are summoned. Witches can summon any Minion they want to, any time the Witch activates. It’s not so easy to summon a Creature. The Witchcraft cards (coming soon!) are a mix of one time use spells and Creature Summoning spells. The Witch Master needs to draw and then play a Creature Summoning card to bring a Creature into this world.

This is the first time we have shown the flip side of the Witch Master’s ID cards. All the ID cards (Minions, Creatures, Witches, and Demons) are double sided and create the Witch Master’s experience mechanic. The Heroes gradually improve their stats by successfully using them, taking many small steps towards their full potential. On the other hand, while the Legion of Darkness works on their demonic rituals, they track their kills by increasing the Aura of Evil. They reach the height of their power when the Aura of Evil track is full and all their ID cards are flipped to the second side.

Your feedback has been very useful and we look forward to hearing from you again. Typos and grammar will be fixed immediately and if there are elements that are unclear, we will try rewording cards if we think we can significantly improve the game. However, we will only be making changes from feedback that is e-mailed to support, with “DR Feedback” as the subject.  

If you missed the previous cards, you can find them here:

Click here for the PDF of the Hero cards.

 Click here for the PDF of the Item cards. 

We are not going to flood you with Neo-Morphosis information, but it’s important to us that you get information before we release it to the general public. We are planning to start the Neo-Morphosis Kickstarter on 9th Jan 2020.  

Pick a side!