A sparse week

Hey everyone!

It has been a bit of a sparse week for gaming news, I have to say. The most exciting thing, for me, was a look at two of the upcoming ally packs for Imperial Assault, here. To my shame, Imperial Assault remains unplayed since I got it at Xmas, so just how excited I am for more content for a (currently) unplayed game is a bit of an issue. But we’ll see. Of course, I got another game of X-Wing in at the local games shop, a hilarious adventure among the asteroids that you can read about here!

Desperate Allies

I was pretty excited about this one, actually, which perhaps is a bit strange given the fact that I haven’t played a role-playing game in years!

I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia trip of late, started off by my D&D week earlier in the year, and since then, I’ve been looking back with fondness at my Star Wars RPG days. I’ve not properly looked over the latest incarnation of the game from FFG, but I recall feeling positive about it when Edge of the Empire first appeared, so even though my chances of playing soon are pretty slim, I’m nevertheless thinking of featuring a look at the thing here on my blog sometime soon.

While West End Games did an awful lot to make a credible universe, tying in very closely with the Bantam novels of the 90s, then Wizards of the Coast largely ignored all of that as they just kept churning out movie-related material, it seems FFG is going on its own way of providing adventures almost unconnected to previous material, and it looks pretty amazing for it!

On the subject of Star Wars, I read the first issue in the new Marvel series today!

Star Wars #1

Y’know, that was actually a really great book! I’ve been a Star Wars fan for decades, of course, and have grown accustomed to being a Dark Horse Comics fan, so was initially very wary of them moving back to Marvel. But a good story is a good story, whoever is publishing it, and this was a lot of fun! It’s not very long, almost half the book is taken up with previews and adverts for the other two comic lines promised from Marvel – Darth Vader (which looks superb, let me tell you!) and Princess Leia (artwork looks a bit cheap…)

Going back to D&D week, I also finished reading The Halfling’s Gem, which turned out to be pretty good in the end! Being pulled into Tarterus near the end seemed a bit extraneous, but maybe that’s just me. After, what, eighteen months or so of being left, it was good to finally finish the trilogy! I’ve since moved onto The Legacy, the seventh book in the series, and while I’m only a couple of chapters in, it’s definitely setting up a compelling story. I had kinda spoiled myself for this book through the adventure system game. [SPOILER ALERT!] In the game, Drizzt’s brother Dinin Do’Urden appears as a drider, and after starting to read the Dark Elf trilogy I was a little confused, before finding out that happens in the course of book seven. Plus, the cover does kinda give it away!

The Legacy

I really loved the Dark Elf trilogy, books one and two in particular were just too awesome for words, and a big part of my enjoyment came from the setting. Menzoberranzan is one of the most interesting locations I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about, and the whole adventures in the Underdark was a real joy, so the interruption on the surface for the last three books has been a bit unwelcome, really! Good to get back underground, even if it is currently only for part of the book. The Legacy takes place nearly twenty years after Drizzt left the Underdark in Sojourn, and it’s fun to see what has been happening with the drow characters in the time Drizzt has been away. Promises to be a good read, anyway!

I’ve also been painting more Necrons this weekend! I must admit, I’m quite pleased with myself! Having had such a slow start to painting this year, I’m glad to finally be creating again! I’ve made up a batch of Immortals, and have been painting them as Pyrrhian Eternals, the dedicated Immortals of Anrakyr the Traveller! I’ve recently begun to use my flickr account once more, where you can head over to check out my album here!

Pyrrhian Eternals

Ring Raiders!

Hey everybody!

Following my blog post for D&D week on the cartoon series, I’ve been feeling very much in a nostalgic mood – so much so, in fact, that I’ve made a new category! Just how often this will get posted in will remain to be seen, obviously, but anyway!

In the vein of early-Saturday-morning cartoons, then, I hope you all enjoy this little bit of nostalgia!

Ring Raider

Ring Raiders were a toy line from the 1980s, that were expounded upon with five cartoon episodes that never managed to make it into a full series. I had the first episode, Ring of Fire, on VHS as a child, along with some of the toys and – I seem to remember – an annual, which was released following the cartoon series in 1990.

Looking back, Ring Raiders was quite probably my first geekdom. I mean, I knew the script for that episode like the back of my hand; my six-year-old self lived and breathed this stuff!

So sit back, and enjoy some cartoons…when 1998 seemed like so far away…

The command is in your hand!


Asteroids do not concern me…

Had another game of X-Wing today down at the games shop, another awesome time!


I changed up my squad a little from last time – I really wanted to use that TIE Defender, so took Rexler Brath out for a trip, along with Howlrunner and a pair of Black Squadron pilots. For the curious among you, Rexler led the elite Onyx Squadron during the Battle of Endor; Howlrunner (real name Civé Rashon) led Obsidian Squadron in pursuit of the Falcon over Cloud City, and Black Squadron was attached to the first Death Star.


Today’s game went pretty horribly, as I kept miscalculating and flying into asteroids. Rexler lost two of his shields (yes, a TIE with shields!) to one of these, and turned out to be the main target for Matt’s rebels – three A-Wings, Tycho Celchu, Arvel Crynyd and Jake Farrell. First blood was Rexler (nearly half my squad points!), but my three TIEs did a pretty good job sticking it out! However, asteroids…

To be honest, my defense rolls went really well, with lots of evades and whatnot. It was just those damn asteroids! Honestly…

I managed to take out Arvel Crynyd, though I feel it was more out of luck than anything else! Tycho hilariously flew off the board, very much in an attitude of giving up, as Howlrunner was shot down but the remaining TIEs flew into asteroids, causing one to explode. Jake scored a critical hit on my last guy, causing a Console Fire that blew the last guy up!

Hilarious, I must say – I think we worked it out that, of my 12 hull points and 3 shields, 7 hits were caused by the rocks, with an eighth caused by the console fire. Terrible times! But it was a wonderful game, I have to say!


I’m really not one of these people who plays games all for the win, I’m all about playing for the sheer enjoyment of playing. While it was fun for me to win last time, I think this game was much more enjoyable for the hilarity of my continual bad flying, and the fact the dice hate me!

Looking forward to my next game. Got Vader in that squad!


Rexler Brath (TIE Defender) – 37 points
Squad Leader – 2 points
Cluster Missiles – 4 points
Autoblaster – 5 points

Howlrunner (TIE Fighter) – 18 points
Marksmanship – 3 points

Black Squadron Pilot (TIE Fighter) x2 – 14 points each
-Determination – 1 point each



How to fix a problem with style!

Good lord!

Checking my email, I’ve just had this from Paizo, regarding the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game:

Due to a printer error, adventure deck 4 of Skull & Shackles, Island of Empty Eyes, included 6 copies of the henchman Gholdako and 1 copy of the henchman Ghol-Gan Obelisk; it should have had 6 Ghol-Gan Obelisks and 1 Gholdako. And due to our own error, it has 1 fewer Blink Spider than you’ll need when you have 6 players. We have solved this problem by making a pack of cards that includes 5 Ghol-Gan Obelisks, 1 Blink Spider, and—in the interest of turning lemons into lemonade—The Land of the Blind, a brand-new scenario that makes use of those extra Gholdako cards. We have just put that pack into your sidecart so it will ship along with your next subscription shipment. We’ll also be sending out copies through our distributors, and providing copies to customers who purchased Island of Empty Eyes from paizo.com but do not have subscriptions. Further, all copies of Island of Empty Eyes that leave our warehouse from now on will include this pack. (None of the cards in this pack have any value in the game without Island of Empty Eyes, as they all rely on other cards in that deck to function; there’s also no game value in having more than 1 pack for each copy of Island of Empty Eyes.) Until this pack arrives, if you want to play the scenario “Home Sweet Home”—that’s the one that needs the missing Ghol-Ghan Obelisks—we suggest proxying with Buccaneers (that is, set the Ghol-Gan Obelisk to the side, add Buccaneers to the location decks instead, and refer to the Obelisk whenever you find a Buccaneer). We apologize for this error.

Y’know, it’s things like this that give me a really warm feeling towards a company. Not only do they pick up on the error fairly quickly (I only got this scenario last week), they solve the problem with such flair and panache that I’m in awe!

Gotta love Paizo!

Through the Gates!

Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham

Morning everyone!

Here at spalanz.com, every Tuesday is game day, and recently I’ve been varying the format from simple looking at old favourites, such as my attempts to learn a new game and reviews of upcoming games. Today, I’m going with the first-thoughts on a new game, albeit a game expansion – the Gates of Arkham expansion for Elder Sign!

I was quite excited to receive this in the mail last week, as I hadn’t realised it was actually out yet! Seems our American cousins have yet to see it hit the shelves, but I hope they get it soon, as it’s a really good alternative to the base game.

In many ways, then, this is what I’d like to see a lot more from game companies. While it does largely depend on the type of game under discussion, of course, sometimes ‘more of the same’ just isn’t enough, and you want something more from a boardgame expansion. Gates of Arkham delivers this and more, as it comes with an entirely new game mode, Streets of Arkham, as well as providing additional content that you can mix in with the base game for an enhanced experience. Furthermore, it also builds on the previous expansion in at least one way, serving to integrate itself fully into the line.

Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham

The bulk of this expansion, then, is the Streets of Arkham mode. The museum adventure cards are replaced by Arkham adventures, three of which start the game face up, and three face down. These cards are double-sided, so you can’t simply ignore the face-down set as they’ll be having At Midnight effects going off, whether you like it or not! The adventures are very similar to those in the museum, at any rate, although I did feel like they were more difficult, but that could just have been the combination of new heroes and new game…

Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham

Some of the cards have Entry effects on them, which is a new effect that takes place as soon as you move to that adventure. Once you’re there, you encounter it as normal, and either win or lose as normal. Rewards and Penalties have changed slightly, in that there are now some that are split, giving you a choice of which you have (though you must be able to complete all of those you choose, especially important in the case of penalties).

You can also see on the picture above some new sigils on the cards. This is something that I really like about the expansion – you can become a member of the Sheldon Gang, or the Order of the Silver Twilight! How wonderful. Once inducted, you take a membership card, and when you encounter future adventures, some of them (such as the top task of the Inner Sanctum adventure, shown above) are considered automatically passed if you are a member of that group. You also get additional rewards for completing certain adventures. Wonderful!

Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham

The game also introduces Skills, the blue cards, which can be very useful, acting as more permanent items really. Events are denoted by the red symbol on cards such as the aforementioned Inner Sanctum, which are triggered during your resolution phase. A bit of a mixed bag, though most are bad news.

But what about the Gates? I hear you cry.

Well, Gates of Arkham introduces the mechanic of sealing gates to this game, which I thought was particularly neat! Gates open mostly when a doom token is placed on the yellow symbol of an Ancient One’s doom track, though mythos cards can also spawn a gate. When this happens, a gate marker is placed on an Arkham adventure card, with its corresponding token placed on a face-down Other World card. Investigators can’t encounter that Arkham adventure, but can move through the gate, whereupon the Other World card is turned face up, and they can encounter the card on their next turn. Once the Other World card is completed, the gate tokens are removed and a seal marker is placed on that Arkham adventure, preventing a gate from opening again (until a mythos card discards all seals, of course!)

While I thought it a neat idea, it does make the game somewhat laborious to get through the Other Worlds. Also, plastic stands are provided for the gate markers, but I didn’t really like these (though the idea of a gate standing up is certainly appealing!). There are new Other Worlds in this expansion, including many not before seen in FFG’s Lovecraftian games, which I thought particularly interesting.

As stated, there are new Investigators and Ancient Ones, as well as monsters, spells, common items, unique items, and allies, which can be mixed in with the regular game. We also get a new mythos deck which is specifically used for Streets of Arkham mode, and many of the components feature a small yellow exclamation mark, meaning they are only to be used with this expansion:

Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham

In the game I played at the weekend, I used Trish Scarborough and Akachi Onyele against Ghatanothoa. Both investigators were killed off fairly quickly, replaced by Tommy Muldoon and Finn Edwards, who were equally unable to prevent Ghatanothoa from waking. That said, the dice were suddenly with me and I managed to beat him back into submission, which is (I think) only the second time I’ve won this game with an Ancient One defeat! I was a little disappointed in Trish, as her Eldritch Horror incarnation is a really excellent one!

Overall, I’m very pleased with this expansion. The new stuff is all good (spells you can cast on another player’s turn!), the new game mode is very promising, and it’s the usual top-notch quality you can expect from FFG. It’s also an impressive weight, having an entire brick of new encounter cards!

I’m looking forward to playing more of this over the coming months, and can definitely recommend it!

Buy it from amazon:
Gates of Arkham

Enter the beasts!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Following yesterday’s excitement, I’ve actually started painting a Necron again! First one this year, in fact. It’s also the first time I’ve done anything with a new model on its release weekend!

I’m pretty pleased with this so far, anyway! I’m hoping, later on, to pretty much get this finished, anyway!

I also picked up some ‘regular’ games last week, expansions for Star Wars LCG and Elder Sign. I’ve only had a fleeting look through the new cards from Between the Shadows, but today took a stroll through the Gates of Arkham, which was actually pretty good! I’ll be talking about this more in next week’s game day blog, anyway!

new games

On the subject of FFG, though, there has been a pretty amazing announcement made last week:


This was totally unexpected, I must say!

Battlelore is a really great game, though I’ve only been lucky enough to paint it once so far. So along with the new packs of soldiers coming sometime soon, we’re also going to see these Reinforcement packs, which look to be akin to Descent’s Lieutenants, or Imperial Assault’s Allies, coming as they do with more content for the game at large, rather than just a plastic miniature. Very interesting stuff, anyway!

Though, what is it with FFG suddenly packaging everything in these plastic shells? It means there’s nothing really to keep these things in once you open them (because, y’know, the boxes for these things are rarely sufficient for so much content!). Makes me wonder if there’s a conspiracy that FFG will sometime soon be producing some kind of bespoke game storage system…

Unfortunately, they’re doing the same with the LCGs – of course, Conquest has already shown this, but now they’re doing it with Lord of the Rings! No! (In case you’re wondering, I keep each quest in its original packaging, ready to go, thanks to buying 3-4 deluxe expansions each time).

The Wastes of Eriador has been announced, anyway, and looks fabulous. I was part of the playtesting group for this cycle, which has spoiled the excitement for me considerably, but it’s really nice to see the artwork! Check out the preview here.

So I’m really excited about the Battlelore stuff, and am indeed hoping to get this more to the table. Look for a blog on this one soon!