Oh my goodness!!!

It’s still games day here at spalanz.com, and I am absolutely thrilled to share this latest piece of news with you all! Another expansion for Elder Sign!

Gates of Arkham

I haven’t gotten round to featuring this game on my blog so far, but it is one of my favourites, so it won’t be too long before it makes it here. News of this expansion has got me really excited – it’s due out early next year, whereupon it’ll be about 18 months since the last expansion.

Gates of Arkham

Anyhow – the new Streets of Arkham mechanic sounds absolutely amazing, and more heroes and Ancient Ones are always welcome. Though from the look of the above spread, we’re getting another Yog Sothoth? Hm. Well, anyway, it will be extremely welcome, so I can wait for next Easter…!

For my battle brothers!

Space Hulk Death Angel

Hey folks!
Tuesday is game day again! Today I’m going to share my first thoughts on the card game Space Hulk: Death Angel, which I got round to playing for the first time this weekend. I first bought this game two or three years ago, couldn’t figure out how the hell it worked, so decided to sell it. Well, I wasn’t able to get any fun out of it! This is because the rulebook is notoriously badly-written.

Space Hulk Death Angel

Anyway! Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I have now developed an interest in Warhammer 40,000 and also bought the legendary Space Hulk board game. After a little look around online, I managed to find a really useful youtube video that explained the whole gameplay, and lo! Excellent stuff.

Space Hulk Death Angel

So you control a team of Space Marines from the Blood Angel Terminator Squad, tasked with clearing the space hulk Sin of Damnation of an infestation of Genestealers. Each player takes control of two Space Marines that make up the combat team, and must move through a series of rooms killing the genestealers to the end.

 

Space Hulk Death Angel

Each combat team has a set of three action cards that can be used each round (shown on the left). When setting the game up, you place the space marines in a vertical column called the Formation, where they face either left or right, which becomes important for attacks and the like. Above the Formation is the room currently exploring. Each room has a specific set-up for terrain, the cards placed either side of the Formation.

Space Hulk Death Angel

The locations are numbered on the back, and the Void Lock you start on tells you which number to use. There are three each of each number, so the set-up is randomised each time. You can see the terrain each room requires down either side, the icons corresponding to those on the terrain cards. The numbers on the bottom of each location card denote how many genestealer cards are placed in the blip piles to either side of those cards.

Space Hulk Death Angel

The genestealers are spawned by Event cards, which have coloured icons to show at which terrain cards the genestealers spawn at. Furthermore, the initial Void Lock card has two triangles on the bottom, in yellow and white, which indicate how many genestealers are spawned – yellow for major spawn, white for minor spawn. The Event card will tell you which terrain cards have major or minor spawns.

Space Hulk Death Angel

Is all this sounding a bit too complicated? It’s not, honestly – if you checked out the youtube playlist earlier, you’ll see what I’m on about, anyway…

So on your turn, you choose which action cards you’re going to use:

Space Hulk Death Angel

These cards are one of three types: Attack, Move & Activate, and Support. Attack cards allow you to, well, attack the genestealers – marines can only attack genestealers they face, which is why facing is important. When you attack, you roll the die and, if you roll a skull, you slay one of the genestealers, discarding it from your location. The move & activate card allows you to move marines around the Formation, then activate any terrain your marines might be facing. Support cards allow you to place a support token on any marine, which can be discarded to reroll the die.

Space Hulk Death Angel

After that comes the Genestealer phase, where they basically attack you by throwing the die and, if the result is more than the number of cards in the swarm, the attack misses. However, if it equals or is lower than the number in the swarm, the marine is killed! Brutal.

The fourth location card features the win condition, which is either eliminating all of the genestealers, or slaying the Broodlords, or whatever.

I’ve only played this game once so far, so take from this what you will, but I really enjoyed it! I mean, the flavour coming out of the game is just brilliant, but it’s also really involved, trying to determine which action cards to use each round and stuff. There’s a lot more to it than it first seems, at any rate! One of the things I love about Lord of the Rings, my all-time favourite card game, is that it is hard, and it is almost masochistic to even play. So the fact that this game feels the same is definitely in its favour!

When I say there’s all this flavour coming out of it, I mean you really feel like your guys are in a column walking down the cramped corridors of the space hulk, and you’re being assailed by genestealers at every turn, and you’re twisting around each turn trying to cover them all. The action cards are closely aligned to the combat teams, and one of them allows one marine to slay I think three genestealers before possibly dying himself. It’s all just fantastic and well-themed, I’ve gotta say!

Obviously, I’ve only played this once, so it might get easier, or it might not. Certainly, one of the other videos I’ve seen on this game leads me to believe it won’t. But that’s okay, because it’s still fun trying!

It’ll also be interesting to see how this compares to the board game!

But wait – there’s more!

Fantasy Flight have released four print-on-demand expansions for the game, which I bought at the same time as the base game.

Space Hulk Death Angel

These packs, being print on demand, have a different feel to them than the regular game, so they only include cards that don’t get shuffled together with the base game. Luckily, each deck in Death Angel is pretty self-contained, so it’s fairly straightforward to produce these packs, I suppose! The first one was Mission Pack 1, which is made up of new locations. Despite the fact that it looks very much like a “more of the same”, there seems to be a nice new feel to come out of this mission pack. It adds four Adrenal Genestealers, who are spawned in specific places when you travel, and move around when they attack and miss. Good stuff!

The next expansion was a set of new Space Marines. Two new combat teams, along with their associated action cards, are in this pack. However, usually when you set up for the game, you pick one of the team tokens at random, so in this expansion they have given us combat team cards to use, instead. So two cards for the new teams, and six cards for the six teams available in the base game. The new marines look pretty good, too – the grey team looks to be most useful, but I’ll have to try them out before any further remarks…

The next expansion is a new enemy deck – Tyranids!

Space Hulk Death Angel

For those of you who don’t know, genestealers are something like the vanguard of the Tyranid army, which moves from solar system to solar system basically eating anything in its way. They have something of an Alien xenomorph look to them, but still. The expansion looks incredible, and is one that I’m really looking forward to trying out! It replaces the genestealer deck with a Tyranid one, and as well as some general enemy cards, there are four types of Elite Tyranids within that have specific actions that are taken either when spawned, after the action phase, or after the genestealer attack phase. Even more exciting than this, however, is the new level 4 location card deck included, which features one “boss” Tyranid!

Yes, they’ve really mixed it up with this game! Each of the Hive Lords includes a different way for the players to win, continuing to add to the diversity of the game. The expansion was designed by Brady Sadler, who has also done some work on FFG’s Warhammer Fantasy RPG, and has done an absolutely amazing job on this. All in all, this looks like a fantastic addition to the game!

And last, but not least…

Space Hulk Death Angel

Yes, Deathwing! The first expansion to the first edition of the board game, this expansion is a full set of twelve new Space Marines, and looks fabulous! Pretty much every combat team in this expansion has some awesome abilities on their action cards, and it looks like another truly excellent expansion for the game!

Each of the print on demand packs brings something new for the game, though I think the bigger (later) two look to be the best. I’m definitely going to be playing more of this game, I think, anyway!

Buy it from amazon:
Space Hulk Death Angel
Mission Pack 1
Space Marine Pack 1
Tyranid Enemy Pack
Deathwing Space Marine Pack

Sunday

Evening!
Another weekend over – time really does fly when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?

I’m currently drinking lapsang souchong tea while watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so it’s become something of an Asian evening. That’s good, though – I really enjoy Asian cinema, and there are some absolutely awesome films in this vein that I really enjoy. A few years ago, it became something of a tradition for me to spend my Sunday evenings watching martial arts films, so it’s quite pleasant for that!

Anyhow!

Necrons
It’s been a quiet few days since I last bothered you all. Remember my Necrons project from Thursday? Well, I finally finished them yesterday, so that was a bit of a labour of love! I’m quite pleased with the results, on the whole, especially the feathering technique, which I tried for the first time. You can read all about it on my tumblr here and here, anyway.

Dark Eldar codex

 

I’ve spent most of this weekend agog at the upcoming Dark Eldar releases from Games Workshop – I got really excited by the wonderful stuff that is the new Wracks kit, and that really has proven to be the tip of the iceberg! However, a Dark Eldar player I am not – well, I’m not a Warhammer player at all (yet), but anyway. It’s all interesting stuff, along with a new kit, the Voidraven, which does look kinda nice, I have to say:

Voidraven

In addition to the codex and the new models, a Painting Guide has been announded, Raiders of Commorragh. This was originally teased by Duncan in his Wracks painting video, and I’m a bit torn over whether to get this. I do like the painting guides GW put out, after all, and I am intending to get a Wracks kit, so it’s not like it’s going to go unused, but £20 for a book, it’s a lot of money for a faction that I don’t intend to play.

In any case, I’m going to be saving my money for the Necrons. If the rumours hold true, the Necron codex should be expected around December/January time, along with possibly one or two new models to accompany it as we’ve seen here with the Dark Eldar.

On the one hand, it’s slightly annoying, as I’m slowly building up a Necron force at random, with the intention of finally getting into the game when the codex is released. But on the other hand, the wait means I have plenty of time to collect up the models I want and get them built and painted! So yeah.

I’ve been surprised by the comparative lack of game news lately. Of course, my wallet will no doubt appreciate it… Apparently, the long-awaited Shadows of Brimstone is due to start shipping mid-October, while Fallen continues its battle through god-only-knows-what. I hope these games are worth it when they turn up!

Seriously, how nice is lapsang souchong?

Long-term fans might remember that I’ve been on something of a summer hiatus from an Open University degree? Well, the next module begins on Saturday, so that four months sure went fast! Exploring the Classical World, so it should be lots of fun, anyway!

I started reading a Warhammer novel last Wednesday called The Return of Nagash, which was released a few weeks ago as part of the hoopla surrounding The End Times, and I’m currently halfway through it. So far, it’s been really very enjoyable, I must say! The characters are nicely rounded and interesting, and it’s particularly fun to see chaps who I know from the LCG, among other things!

Anyhow, I’ll leave you to your Sunday now 🙂

Thursday thoughts

Hey everybody!
It’s Thursday, and I’m going to share some thoughts with you all, so spent ages thinking of a cunning title for such a blog before coming up with this one. I’m sure you all love it.

This week I was going to go to Durham. Well, I did, but things didn’t turn out quite as well as I’d hoped. I mean, I went up there, all was well, aside from the fact that I forgot to bring my camera. I managed to get some pictures with my phone, but sadly not many. The room I had in the hotel had a pretty bad smell to it, and within about an hour I had a terrible headache. I mean, really, really bad. I tried to ignore it, I sprayed some deodorant, but it didn’t work, and after about three hours I felt like I was going to be sick. So I came home. Wednesday was, therefore, a crazy day…

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St Paul’s Monastery, Jarrow; and Marsden Bay, South Shields

Anyway! I’ve been to Durham lots of times before, so I’ll share some pictures with you soon.

On Monday, my friend Tony came round for the first time since he moved house earlier in the summer, and brought a new game he’d got called Naruto Shippuden. It’s a deck-building game that uses the Cerberus engine, the same as Street Fighter and DC, but with some new mechanics and twists. Based on the successful anime of the same name, it was really very enjoyable. It’s nice to see how the engine has evolved, from DC through Street Fighter to Naruto. I actually considered getting myself a copy, but decided against it. I am, however, considering investigating the show upon which it is based.

On Tuesday I had the Skull & Shackles game delivered, the next box set in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game series. However, it came without a rulebook, so that isn’t exactly ideal – fortunately, Paizo are an awesome company and will be sending me a replacement book in the next shipment of my subscription! Fabulous.

The game looks interesting enough, anyway – there are ships added to this one, almost like a new type of location it seems. Some of the characters seem familiar, not sure what’s up with that, but anyway, it’s not a bad game, so when I get the book delivered I might take it out for a spin, despite only being partway through the first adventure deck of the Rise of the Runelords box!

I’ve had a fairly quiet day today, anyway, partially to help recover from this headache and all the driving yesterday. After sleeping late, I spent pretty much the whole afternoon building Necron warriors – well, I’d say about four hours, all told. They look pretty damn good, so I’m looking forward to painting them tomorrow!

Necrons

This has got me thinking, though, about things like the recently-developed obsession with Warhammer, and just why I like it so much, why I spent my entire bonus money in July/August getting into the hobby and so on.

I find the whole process of building and painting these miniatures quite relaxing, almost therapeutic really. It’s always gratifying to see something take shape, from odd bits of plastic to a recognisable thing. I’m still very new to all of this, of course – it’s nearly seven weeks since I walked into Games Workshop and built that Beast of Nurgle – but whether I’m good at it or not, I’m enjoying myself all the same. That’s the most important thing here. I’m enjoying the process, and I’m enjoying learning new stuff and building up some level of skill. With these Necrons in particular, it’s going to be interesting to see how this second batch turns out, nearly a month after I painted the first group of guys.

Necron Lychguard

 

Moving away from Necrons now, I’ve also been developing an interest in Tyranids, those delightful space bugs that simultaneously fascinate and repulse me. I picked up Space Hulk, of course, and have since been looking at the parent bugs for inspiration for how to paint them. I’m not a big Alien fan, just thought I’d get that out there to start with. However, it does seem to be quite strongly modelled on the xenomorph thing.

Some almost-repulsive stuff is available from these chaps, I have to say.

I don’t know if they’ll be enough to take me away from my beloved Necrons, of course… but you never know!

Have an excellent rest-of-Thursday!

Dark Forces

Hey everybody!
So I’ve been reading something new lately – new, that is, for me – the Dark Forces saga. Released back in the late 90s, the trilogy was written by William C Dietz and featured full-page illustrations along with the text. The novellas are a bit of a departure from Dark Horse in this way.

Dark Forces

A tie-in to the 1995 FPS video game of the same name, the most important thing about this series is the introduction of Kyle Katarn, who has become something of a legend in the expanded universe.

Dark Forces

There is a whole slew of new characters introduced in this series, including the rebel Jan Ors, and the Dark Jedi Sariss, Yun, and of course, Jerec.

Dark Forces

The story follows Kyle as he moves from training in the Imperial Academy to joining the rebellion when the Empire kills his father. The rebels don’t entirely trust him, however, and assign Jan Ors to ensure he does the job he is assigned – steal the plans to the Death Star. Weird, right? Why would they send him on such an important mission if they didn’t trust him? I don’t know, but anyway.

The next book, Rebel Agent, sees him on another mission, to discover the Valley of the Jedi, the purported location of great power. Again, the rebel hierarchy doesn’t trust him, though Luke appears to have some degree of belief in him, but anyway. Lots more dashing about and whatnot, and Kyle and Jan begin their awkward romance. Whatever.

The finale, Jedi Knight, continues directly from the last, with Kyle and Jan racing Jerec to the Valley. After some shenanigans with the locals, Kyle and Jerec face off in the Valley.

An iconic series in the lore, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by this series. Dietz has some annoying habits in his prose, the most annoying being the fact he changes POV characters very quickly, which can be really very disorientating. Something else that was hard to cope with was his use of “the agent/the rebel” instead of character names, which is too confusing when he’s referring to both Kyle and Jan with “the agent” in the same sequence. It was just annoying.

The story itself was actually quite disappointing. I mean, it was quite fun to see some classic Star Wars once more. There was definitely that sense of the original series of Star Wars here, and I must say, it was really nice to finally read all about the Kyle Katarn origin story. And Kyle is a pretty good character, really. Okay, so he’s a bit like Corran Horn in that there’s the whole “he’s just a regular guy no wait he’s a Jedi” thing going on, but it’s not as obnoxious as that. The awkward romance with Jan was a bit, well, awkward, but it’s nothing too major so it’s not much to moan about.

Jerec was a bit underwhelming, I thought. He seemed to be all mouth and very little substance. I wasn’t particularly impressed, I have to say, but I suppose he wasn’t all that bad as an opposing force. But still, not exactly a three-dimensional villain.

Dark Forces

To read the Dark Forces storyline, after all these years, was a bit of a disappointment if I’m honest. I suppose this is because of the iconic stature it has taken on within the EU. I get the impression that I would perhaps have enjoyed it a lot more if I’d have played the video game back in the 90s, but I didn’t. So, yeah…

Currently, the Dark Forces novellas are really hard to find, and some places have them priced ridiculously highly. Hopefully, Marvel will reprint them in due course.

Anyway, such are my thoughts on this…

Tip the Wench!

The Adventure’s over, but the party’s just getting started!

Red Dragon Inn

Red Dragon Inn is one of those games that’s great fun, and perfect for the end of a gaming night. The premise of the game is that four adventurers have finished their escapades, and have gathered at the Red Dragon Inn, where all manner of fun and frolics are just about to begin!

Like Runebound, Red Dragon Inn is one of those games that I first encountered with the ex-girlfriend about six years ago, and was immediately hooked. It’s pretty straightforward – each player takes a character to play, and tries to either take everyone else’s money, or get everyone else drunk.

Red Dragon Inn

You start the game at 20 fortitude (the red jewel) and 0 alcohol content (the clear jewel), and play cards to force other players to either lose fortitude or gain alcohol content: if a player’s jewels meet, then they lose. It’s really that simple!

Red Dragon Inn

All the action cards have got hilarious titles, which you’re meant to read aloud as you play them – such as Deidre the Priestess‘ “My goddess made me do it!” (pick another player to lose 2 fortitude); Gerki the Sneak‘s “Have you seen my poison? I left it in a mug right here…” (pick another player to lose 3 fortitude); Zot the Wizard‘s “Oh no! Not again! Pooky’s on a drunken rampage!” (each other player loses 1 fortitude), and Fiona the Volatile‘s “Hey guys…Can I borrow some gold? Armor repair isn’t cheap, ya know!” (each other player pays you 1 gold).

There’s also the option to start a round of gambling with your action.

Red Dragon Inn

Gambling is a way to get other player’s to part with their money – if a player loses all of his money, he’s out of the game. When playing a round of gambling, play goes round the table with each player taking a turn to play a card, which can give you the chance to take control of the round, raise the ante, etc. If nobody else can play a card, the last player to take control wins the gold.

After the action phase, it’s time for a drink!

Red Dragon Inn

For me, this is possibly the most hilarious part of the game. During this phase, the active player “buys a drink” by giving the top card of the drinks deck to a player of his choice, before then “drinking” the top card of his “drink me” pile. Turning it over, you gain (or, perhaps, lose) alcohol as per the card’s text. However, some cards in your deck might be able to counteract the effects of drinking:

Red Dragon Inn

All the drinks have a bit of text at the bottom of them that always makes me chuckle, such as Light Ale (“less filling!“), Elven Wine (“The elves drink it, so it must be good!“) and Dragon Breath Ale (“Brewed under the direct supervision of Real Fire-Breathing Dragons!™“).

Play continues as the players lose (and gain) fortitude, lose (and gain) gold, and gain (or lose) alcohol content. The last person left standing wins!

It’s a really fun game, not requiring an awful lot of thought or strategy. After a game day that involves something like the aforementioned Runebound or something adventure-y, it’s perfect! Definitely something that you want to just throw yourself into and have a good time playing!

But wait! There’s more!

Red Dragon Inn

Slugfest Games have released three additional sets for the game, each with four heroes, a drinks deck, and all the other bits and pieces you need to play. Also, four “allies” packs have been released, which bring a new character and all the bumph needed to play. As the game line has increased, some of these heroes have become a bit unwieldy with all the additional game mechanics they introduce. Don’t get me wrong, of course, I really do enjoy all these guys, but sometimes it’s just a bit too distracting. Anyway. Finally, there’s a box called “Gambling? I’m in!” that has a selection of actual in-universe gambling games you can use to play instead of the basic mechanics of gambling described above.

Red Dragon Inn

All these gambling games are fairly basic card games, though of course you get a special card deck to use for them. It’s a nice idea, though I haven’t actually used them personally. Gambling is something that I tend not to focus on when playing this game, instead just trying to get my opponents either drunk or lose their fortitude.

But anyway, it’s a really fun game, and as I keep saying, perfect for the end of a game day. It’s perhaps slightly disingenuous of me to suggest that it’s simple, or there’s not much to it or whatever, because I’m not trying to imply that it’s “not serious” or whatever. I enjoy it in very much the same way as I enjoy Smash Up – gaming is about getting together with friends and having a good time, whether that’s trying to stop Cthulhu from destroying the world, or trying to get everyone really drunk.

The implications of the latter are also perhaps something to mention here: I don’t drink, and I’m not trying to condone some sort of alcohol-fuelled orgy or something. But the mechanics of the game are such that it is just really fun, it’s not meant to have any designs on morality or whatever. It’s a really fun game, and it’s not meant to be anything more than that.

Just get it!

Buy it from amazon:
Red Dragon Inn
Red Dragon Inn 2
Red Dragon Inn 3
Red Dragon Inn 4
Allies: Erin the Ever-Changing
Allies: Pooky
Allies: Witchdoctor Natyli
Allies: Cormac the Mighty
Gambling? I’m in!

My weekend reflections

Hey everybody!
It’s the weekend! It’s been looking like rain all day here, which is a bit disheartening as I’m now off for the week, but hopefully the weather will pick up and we’ll have one last hurrah from summer!

I’m planning to go to one of my favourite places in Britain this week: Durham. It’s one of these cities that I find myself returning to time and again for its stupendous cathedral – in my opinion, the best in the country. It’s also a perfect base for exploring Hadrian’s Wall, which I hope to do while I’m up there, also!

The big news of the day, however, is that I managed to resist the temptation to buy the new Space Hulk game from Games Workshop. Not that it was all that tempting, given the price tag, but even so, while I have no real desire to play the game as such, I do find myself admiring those genestealers. However, £75 just for twenty genestealers is a bit extravagant, even by my standards…

20090822231138780 GS

I wandered into the local GW store this morning, where they had nine of these things available, but good sense prevailed! I think…

I’ve recently been reading the Dark Forces trilogy from Dark Horse, which is something that I had not managed to get to previously. I suppose it’s nice to see there are still some things from the Star Wars universe that remain undiscovered! Of course, I’ve been aware of the Dark Forces saga for a long time, and the names of Kyle Katarn, Jan Ors and Jerec have been as familiar to me as any number of other EU characters. I’ve read the first two parts of the trilogy so far, and plan to finish it off this weekend, whereupon I’ll no doubt be sharing some thoughts in a separate blog…

It has been really pleasant to get back to reading Star Wars, I must say. I’ve spent most of the summer reading the fantasy stories from David Eddings, The Elenium and The Tamuli. While I do enjoy fantasy, for the escapism if nothing else, Star Wars is something I will forever find myself returning to, I feel! Once I’m done with the Dark Forces saga, I think I’ll make a start back on some of the newer literature.

IMAG0625

I also had this bad boy delivered earlier in the week. You may remember me mentioning it back around GenCon last month? Well, I managed to pick it up really, really cheaply thanks to a gift voucher I had, so am looking forward to giving this one a go! The entire game looks absolutely beautiful, at any rate. Really looking forward to this one.

In other board game news, Talisman has received its final corner expansion in The Woodland, which was released in the US on Friday. Looking forward to getting this one, but I am left wondering just what’s next for the game – maybe just smaller-box expansions? Maybe nothing at all? I was half-expecting FFG to come out and say something to the effect of the latter, and was vaguely surprised when they didn’t. Well, anyway.

Smash Up will also be getting its Monster expansion this week, which looks like it will be a lot of fun. Something really exciting that is still on the horizon, however, is yet another hero/monster pack for Descent, Crusade of the Forgotten. I’m really impressed by those Golems, I must say! Looking forward to that one!

 

Anyway, such are my weekend reflections for you all this week!

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