Silicon Valley meets Lovecraft in the tabletop game of smartphones and supernatural horror!

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Imagine a world where people are enslaved by their electronics. Where we willingly allow smartphones to spy on us, and even pay for the privilege. A world where a handful of all-powerful multinational corporations control the flow of information by dominating hardware, operating systems, social networks and search engines.

Oh wait, that actually kinda sounds like real life.

But, imagine all that stuff, plus the twisted CEO of one of these tech giants also using his power and influence to open the floodgates to another plane of existence, bringing ancient evils to Earth.

That's what you suspect is happening at the Techlandia Corporation, the world's biggest maker of overpriced smartphones. CEO Dexter Ward is announcing the company's newest phone, the top-secret Techlandia TX-1, at an invitation-only press conference later today.

You haven't been invited to the grand launch of the TX-1 smartphone, but you're not a tech blogger because you like following the rules. There's something strange going on here, and you're going to expose it all. Sneaking into the main building should be easy enough with all the other press milling around, but gaining access to the massive underground auditorium where the TX-1 is being announced is going to be tougher.

It's Silicon Valley meets Lovecraft in Techlandia, a funny+scary new tabletop game for 1-4 players.

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[Read the full game rules at BGG]

Techlandia is a modern dungeon crawl adventure, where 1-4 players attempt to infiltrate the high-tech corporate headquarters of the Techlandia corporation.

The objective of this episode is to gain entry to the invite-only Techlandia TX-1 smartphone unveiling being held in a subterranean auditorium under the Silicon Valley headquarters of the secretive Techlandia corporation.

You've heard of mysterious disappearances and dark doings surrounding this all-powerful multinational conglomerate. Getting a scoop on what's really going down would be a career-making move. So guess what? We're sneaking in!

  • In order to do that, you must get past the security checkpoint, which will allow you access to the elevators leading down to the event level.

  • In order to do that, you must present the proper QR code invitation at the security desk.

  • In order to do that, you need to collect four QR code fragments, then present the correct final code at the security desk.

  • In order to do that, you'll need to investigate rooms in the building for clues, discovering where the QR code fragments can be found and collecting them before anyone else.

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By fighting and defeating cultish Techlandia public relations employees, known as Tech Cultists, you'll be able to decipher the four QR code fragments and present the proper complete code at the security desk to gain access to the elevator.  

Fail at any of these tasks and you're likely to be arrested for trespassing. And the world might end, too. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  

All the while, a Doomsday Clock ticks down between rounds, from 20 to zero, unleashing new horrors at inopportune moments. 

In the game, a turn consists of a player taking up to two actions. A round consists of every player taking a turn, and ends with the Doomsday Clock counting down one number. 

A single action can include: 

  • Moving from one room on the board to another room directly connected to it.

  • Investigating a room for clues.

  • Picking up a QR code from a room.

  • Fighting a Tech Cultist or other enemy.

  • Reloading your Gear deck from the Press Room.

  • Submitting your QR code to the security scanner.

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Wait, not a video game?

Surprising, right? I'm Dan Ackerman, and you might (or might not) know me from the past 15 years or so reviewing tech and games at CNET, or as the author of the semi-critically acclaimed games history book 'The Tetris Effect,' or as a TV news talking head on everything from laptops to iPhones to virtual reality.

Despite literally decades of covering video games, I'm also a long-time tabletop gamer. Much of the most creative thinking in game design is happening right now in tabletop games like Arkham Horror, Gloomhaven, Scythe, Nemesis, One Deck Dungeon and other favorites.

In designing Techlandia, I spent month playing dozens of different games, and put together a list of what my ideal tabletop game experience would look like. I envisioned a game featuring:

  • A tile-based hex map with different possible layouts

  • Cool character full-color standees

  • Supports solo or multiplayer

  • Can be played in about an hour

  • Fits on a normal human-sized table (very important!)

  • Continuing narrative that unfolds as you play

  • Depth, but without overly fiddly rules or parts

  • Excellent component quality, but reasonably priced

  • Expandable and episodic, continuing the story with new content

I took all those ideas, and wrapped them around a ripped-from-the-headlines story based on my years as a tech journalist, covering companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Facebook.

That high-tech world is already absurd enough, so it made perfect sense to take a classic Douglas Adams satire vibe, add a dose of Lovecraftian horror, and combine it with our obsession over smartphones, spyware, digital privacy and hacking.


Stay tuned for more updates, including the Kickstarter launch, how you can help playtest the game, and more. Follow me on Twitter at @danackerman, and bookmark for the latest.

NEW: Looking for Techlandia media assets for editorial coverage? Grab the new media kit here!

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