Week Off, day one

Hey folks!
First of all, let’s just get this out there now: I’m probably not going to write a blog every day of this week. I know how much you all love these words of wisdom I spout, but it sadly won’t likely happen that way. However, it’s been such an awesome time so far, I’m hoping that at least a couple will see their way to publication!

Why has it been so awesome? I hear you cry. Well, I’ve already mentioned some of the wonderful stuff that’s been going on, but the good stuff continues today! See, I’ve gotten back into playing the Lord of the Rings LCG! Considering this is the game that I often cite as my absolute favourite, it’s one that I don’t get round to playing all that often. We’ve had a complex relationship over the years, from all-out love during the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, to growing ever distant during the Dwarrowdelf. While Against the Shadow did begin to rekindle the old flames, I still can’t really say that I’m back to that place in the winter of 2011, where I was all-out enraptured with the thing. At any rate, I’m back to playing it now!

I’ve had an Elf deck set up for quite a while – I think my original intention was to run Elrond, Celeborn and Galadriel together, but the latter hadn’t been released at that point, so I made it Elrond, Glorfindel and Legolas instead. Leadership is a sphere that I have been increasingly moving away from, as I find them too much of a support sphere to warrant a hero – last year, I replaced Theodred with Eomer in my Rohan deck, making it dual-sphere, and it works a treat.

So far, I’ve had six games with this deck, which partly came out of a desire to test the waters with the new Elves:

So we’ve got: Assault on Osgiliath, Road to Rivendell, Conflict at the Carrock, The Hills of Emyn Muil, Encounter at Amon Din, and The Fords of Isen. It was particularly pleasant to go for Road to Rivendell, as it’s a quest I haven’t really played a lot of – and the inanity of Elrond escorting his daughter to himself didn’t diminish that! Fords of Isen is a quest I played back when the Voice of Isengard box came out, but haven’t done anything else with, so it was nice to get to that, also.

The “Adventures with” thing came about last year, when I had a day playing through some of the Dwarrowdelf quests with a Dwarf deck that I’d made up with the new cards that came out of the Hobbit Saga boxes. It was tremendous fun to go back to some of those, which were quite tough back when they were new. So following last year’s Adventures with Dwarves, I’m hoping to extend my Adventures with Elves beyond the scope of just half a dozen quests!

 

I’m intending to make up a sort of general-purpose deck at some point this week, as I don’t currently have one set up, and then perhaps will tackle some of the new Ringmaker scenarios. I’ve only actually played The Dunland Trap once, where I decided to swap out Theodred in my Rohan deck, so it’ll be nice to play that again.

I’m not entirely sure when The Lost Realm is due out, though it can’t be all that far away now. Hopefully I can get to play some of the Ringmaker scenarios before it’s released, anyway!

Speaking of new releases…

Descent Bonds of the Wild

Another Hero & Monster Collection! This one looks particularly fantastic as it has some of my favourite heroes in it – albeit, they’re my favourite in their Runebound incarnation – Ronan the Wild and Vyrah the Falconer! However, the monsters are also looking pretty amazing – check out those leaping hellhounds! Awesome!

Descent Bonds of the Wild

I really like these collections, and currently have three of them. Descent itself is a game that I’ve sadly not managed to play an awful lot of, though the release of the co-op scenario Forgotten Souls really fired my imagination when I got my hands on it last year! I’ve recently taken delivery of the next co-op scenario, Nature’s Ire, so I’m intending to play that one at some point this week, too!

Exciting times are ahead, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m moving away from Warhammer. I’ve not really been painting that many things, and I’ve been selling off quite a lot from my pile of shame, keeping just a core of Necron, Lizardmen and Ogre kits. However, the rumours from Christmastime of the Adeptus Mechanicus actually becoming a thing seem to be true, and while I’m not about to rush off and throw money at them, I am finding myself faintly interested in what this will bring to the table. I’m interested, put it that way!

Five Tribes

And finally, this arrived! Five Tribes is something that debuted at last year’s Gen Con, which piqued my interest somewhat, though I hadn’t heard much more about it. However, last week I was given £100 of amazon vouchers following some work I did on a promotional video in work, so thought I’d invest in a new boardgame, along with some other bits and pieces, so treated myself to what my boardgamegeek stats have decided is my 700th game! (The real count is probably closer to 50-60; bgg, if you don’t know, allows you to add games to a virtual collection, but every expansion and promo is counted as a separate game). Reviews will no doubt follow, though if you enjoy a good Arabian Nights-themed game, make sure you check back in here tomorrow…!

Exciting times!!!

Hey everybody!
Exciting times are coming, as I’ve got the week off work! Couldn’t have come at a better time, either, given how crazy things seem to have gotten lately. So, lots of r&r is planned, and most likely you’ll all be treated to multiple blogs over the next few days – yes, I do spoil you.

The week off started really excellently, too, as I had an impromptu visit from my longtime gaming partner Tony on Friday night. What had up until that point been an evening of housework (so rock and roll) turned into this!

Games Night

New games for us, all – well, DC Rivals is just a different take on the regular DC game, but yeah! The Hobbit was my birthday present from Tony last year (we’re born on the same day; I got him Doomtown Reloaded), and Lords of War was from the year before. He has another Hobbit game that is even older, and has been a lot of fun for us, so we tried this and it was a really great experience! And, of course – shiny jewels! Lords of War is a great little game, much like Summoner Wars, very quick and enjoyable. I’ve been playing Alhambra a lot in the Android version, so it was great to finally play the game proper! No doubt all of these will make it to future game day blogs, anyway!

Speaking of DC…

Earlier in the month, I’d bought this pair of books in something of an effort to rekindle my love of comic books. See, Star Wars aside, I don’t read that many other comics, having spend thousands on Marvel and suchlike about ten years ago. So last year I bought one or two things, such as Buffy Season 8 and Judge Dredd, but having recently been enjoying the DC deckbuilding game, I thought I should get back to what’s probably my first love of comics, The Flash.

One of my first ever comic books was the Terminal Velocity series, which was just awesome! However, I somehow managed to lose the last issue, so had an incomplete series for years. When I managed to sell all of my comics, I didn’t really give it much more thought, but since Cryptozoic’s DC game, I’ve been off-and-on thinking about reinvestigating!

Is any of this interesting? Well, anyway. Last week, I read the first volume of the new series, Move Forward. For the uninitiated, DC had a massive shake-up in summer 2011, when they cancelled everything and pretty much relaunched themselves with 52 new series, each starting from #1 (previously, issue numbering had apparently remained unbroken since the 1930s). The New 52 was born, though it wasn’t a complete reboot, as internal histories were retained. Seems like a good idea, to me at least, as the DC heroes are so well-known they don’t really need origin stories being told again. The New 52 is set to end in May, however, with 25 books continuing alongside 24 new books. I’m pretty excited to see The Flash continue, but we’re set to get new books for Cyborg and Martian Manhunter, two of the more interesting heroes!

The Flash

So let’s move forward to the actual book I read last week! It’s a really enjoyable story that only presupposes you know that the Flash is a guy who can run really fast. The tale involves an EMP blast on Central City that sends the technology there back forty years, as Flash battles the clones of his old friend Manuel Lago, who collectively call themselves Mob Rule. The clones are eventually defeated just as another threat appears – the EMP-induced blackout has allowed the inmates of Central City Prison to escape, and Captain Cold is running amok! Turns out the EMP blast has caused the hospital equipment to be useless, where Cold’s sister is dying from a now-inoperable brain tumour. Cold takes on Flash, but is eventually defeated.

Something that’s really, really interesting here are the ideas around the nature of the Speed Force. First, we see Flash grapple with the fact that he can move faster-than-sound, but not think that fast. Then comes the problem of his moving around as a likely cause for wormholes opening up in space/time. When investigating this, Flash enters a wormhole and discovers the true nature – that he is in fact a release valve for the built-up energy of the Speed Force. Someone else stuck in the wormhole has been causing problems like the EMP blast, a new character called Turbine, driven mad by being trapped there for 70 years.

The story ends with Grodd defeating his father to become King of the Gorillas. Volume 3 of the graphic novels seems set to have him in a starring role, anyway!

I really enjoyed this book, I have to say! While there is still the sense of prior history there, most obviously between Flash and Captain Cold, it doesn’t feel like there’s anything in the way of telling what ends up being a pretty great story. As such, then, I think DC have definitely succeeded in making their stories more accessible to a new audience with this “soft reboot”. The art was a little sketchy at times, and I suppose I’m not that used to seeing so many double-page spreads that I sometimes got confused, but there’s little else I can say against it. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what’s next with this series, anyway!

Highly recommended!

Captain Cold

Finally, I’ve been doing another bit of painting to the Saurus Oldblood I started last weekend. It’s hardly my best work, but then I have had a month off!

GAMA Trade Show!

Hey folks!

After what has been a truly awful day in work today, I’m pretty chuffed to come home to the exciting news coming out of the GAMA Trade Show (and the Chinese takeaway I picked up on the way home!)

Very excited for a new big box of Marvel Legendary!

This one sounds interesting, I must say – always a fan of the cooperative games!

Lots of fun to see this happen – “Yeah, it’s a thing!”

While this one has been known for a while now, it’s still exciting!

Pretty interesting! Official release news can be seen here.

Lots of FFG Star Wars news coming out of GAMA, but this is particularly intriguing!

Very excited about this – even though I have yet to play the base game!!

Full details on Twin Shadows and the associated ally/villain packs here!

Wave 2 for Armada – and the base game isn’t even out yet! Exciting, all the same…

I’m a huge Hellboy fan, so this has really got my attention!

This could be interesting, but I’m not entirely sure how this will happen…

I really like Mage Wars, though not sure what Mage Wars Academy involves. Whatever, it’s interesting!

GAMA Trade Show is going on until the end of the week. Hopefully there’ll be more goodness coming out of that before the weekend – Flying Frog, anyone? – so I’ll keep this blog updated as and when!

UPDATE!
Finally – a peek at Flying Frog’s booth:

Nice!

Great to see some more stuff for Dark Gothic, as well! Good times are ahead, it seems!

Blood Rage kickstarter recently finished, just prepare for some awesome coming from this!

All aboard!

Morning everybody!
Today’s game day blog is a little different, as I turn my spotlight of awesome onto one of the modern classics of tabletop gaming – up today is Ticket to Ride!

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a stupendously successful game from Days of Wonder (it won the Spiel des Jahres in 2004), with really, really simple gameplay: you’re trying to claim railway routes in order to score points. Each turn, you can either draw cards, draw tickets with new routes to complete, or claim a route by playing a number of cards and placing some trains on the board. Each route is worth points, which you score as you place your trains, but your tickets are kept secret until the end – if you’ve completed specific end-to-end routes, you’ll score the points for them; if you haven’t, you have the points taken away. You can also score for having the longest single contiguous route.

While there is fairly high strategy involved in this game, where veterans can work out where everybody is trying to claim and aim to block you from completing those routes, I still feel like this game is something of a guilty pleasure for me, as it’s not the usual sort of game that I enjoy. I bought it when I was going through a phase of buying all the Spiel des Jahres winners, a phase that also saw me buy Dominion (and Tikal, Thurn und Taxis, and Alhambra). That said, I have almost every expansion for this game, neatly stacked in the corner of my spare room.

Ticket to Ride

However, I’ve only actually played the physical game twice!

Maybe it’s because I feel it’s such a guilty-pleasure game, or maybe it’s because I just have such bad luck convincing people to play with me, but this is one of these games that I specifically bought a tablet in order to play…

Ticket to Ride is available both for Android and iOS; being a google boy at heart, I have the former, though I believe the differences are minimal (please chime in if I’m wrong!)

ticket to ride app

The app is really quite beautifully done, with a clear and intuitive interface.

ticket to ride app

The app features pass-and-play, online play as well as solo play, though I’ve only made use of the latter. The solo player options are nicely scaled, so that if – like me – you only want to play two-player, the AI can be pretty devious and victory is never completely assured!

There is also a good selection of the expansions available, including Europe, Asia, and Switzerland, as well as the 1910 Big Cities card expansion – all available as in-app purchases. I often wonder why they haven’t made all of the maps available, which is a feeling common with a lot of digital versions of tabletop games (Carcassonne springs to mind!)

So yeah, the app is perfect for those times when you want to build some railways but nobody around wants to play with plastic trains – I’ve played it hundreds of times, and can’t recommend it enough! (And, in case you’re wondering, no bugs to report following the Lollipop update!)

It’s a really enjoyable game, and one that can usually be played with minimal stress. Why not jump aboard and see what all the fuss is about?!

Painting again!

Hooray! It’s a month (or thereabouts) since I last applied paint to some plastic, but I’ve kinda been inspired by a trip to the local Games Workshop to get a model painted again! Fabulous times, I’m sure you’ll all agree!

Saurus Oldblood

The Saurus Oldblood has been in the pile of plastic for a while now, but another competition at the store has inspired me to break it out.

I’d seen this when it was posted up, and was half-thinking about entering a Necron with some red bits, but I suppose a ‘paint it red’ competition really needs something more red than that. So! Lizardmen, right?!

Saurus Oldblood

Saurus Oldblood

It’s a nice model. It’s kinda small, I have to say – reminds me of those Blue Horrors all those months ago, in fact – though of course not the first Lizardmen model I’ve made up. I’ve primed up previous Lizardmen with Skull White rather than Chaos Black, as I want the colours to come out really vibrant. So!

Saurus Oldblood

Saurus Oldblood

Initial thoughts – I should’ve used a lighter red. Evil Sunz Scarlet, maybe. But anyway, persistence!

Saurus Oldblood

Right now, then, we have this chap with red skin, bronze armour, a golden axe, and a shield with blue scales and black edging (hoping that’ll turn out like obsidian), and the stone of the base. I’m stopping here because it’s late, but more because I’m getting a bit annoyed that I’m not doing it as neatly as I’d like. I’d forgotten how splayed my brushes had gone, too, so that’s a problem.

But still – painting again! We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

In other news, the End Times appears to have, well, ended today, with the release of the Archaon book:

Warhammer End Times

I feel quite lucky to have been able to get these books, given the anguish that was involved in pre-ordering hardback copies back in the day! They are beautiful, however, and while I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say worth it all, I am nevertheless pleased with the collection. Of course, I haven’t read Khaine or the Horned Rat, but now that I have Archaon in the mix as well, I think I ought to try to change that! With Easter coming up around the corner, though, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get the time. Well, we’ll see…

With the End Times finished, and the Warhammer world effectively broken, it’ll be interesting to see what’s next for the setting. Rumour has the next few weeks seeing 40k releases, so it could be a while before we see anything for fantasy. Hm!

Elder Sign!

Hey folks!

I’ve found myself playing a lot of Elder Sign again recently, which has been partly spurred on by rewatching a lot of the shows over on Geek & Sundry, primarily TableTop. For the uninitiated, here’s the Elder Sign episode that I’m mainly referring to here:

Elder Sign is a really great game, in case you skipped the video, and I can definitely recommend it if you’ve yet to experience it! I featured the game in my blog last year for Halloween week, which you can read here. It’s had two expansions released for it, the most recent of which – Gates of Arkham – has made it under my spotlight of awesome here, as well. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be making it to the first expansion on this blog, also!

Elder Sign

I’m a big fan of the Arkham Horror universe, anyway, but this is beginning to take over the big guy as my go-to Lovecraftian game, predominantly due to its ease of set-up. The new Streets of Arkham mode is the closest yet to bringing the Arkham experience to a card game, and I’m still really impressed at how well the designers have implemented this change while keeping the spirit of the base game almost intact.

This evening I had another trip through the Streets of Arkham, which ended in a victory, though saw the demise of poor Patrice Hathaway to the all-seeing Yibb-Tstll…the little devil! Streets of Arkham mode is definitely more difficult than the base game, and as already mentioned, brings an entirely new feel to the Elder Sign experience. I had initially thought it was a curiously hybrid experience, but after playing it some more, it’s actually just a really great way to play!

Of course, I still really enjoy the base game of Elder Sign as it is, with no need for expansions. The other week I had a game against Hastur, prompted by the TableTop video as I couldn’t recall the last time I’d played against the King in Yellow. It was a very close call, where a run of bad luck saw all manner of die-locks while seven doom tokens were added in far too quick succession, but good prevailed and the King slumbers still…

While there have only been two boxed expansions, FFG has released a fair few bits for this game as promotional material, such as for the Arkham Nights events. Four new Ancient One cards have come out in this way, and you can download them from boardgamegeek now:

Daoloth
Shub-Niggurath
Yog Sothoth (distinct from the new version)
The Dark God

There are also two location cards that were available through tie-in novels to the Arkham Horror universe. I’ll be taking a look at these novels in future blogs, but suffice it to say, a lot of people bought these books for the cards alone, though I can actually say that they’re really good reads in their own right!

Anyhow, Elder Sign remains in my top-ten all-time favourite games, and while I can wax lyrical about it all day, it’s so much easier if you just go out and get yourself a copy! You won’t regret it!

Roll some dice, and save the world!

New Star Wars stuff!

Lots of chatter over the internets the past couple of days about new Star Wars literature coming in the run-up to December’s new movie, headed up from this article over on EW. Here are some of my thoughts, which I know you value highly!

A few titles we can confirm are Del Rey’s Star Wars: Aftermath, which sounds like it may serve as an epilogue to the original trilogy—and perhaps a prologue to the new one. Meanwhile, Marvel Comics will put out one prequel called Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens and another preview story told from C-3PO’s perspective.

One book to cover the 32-year in-universe gap between episodes 6 and 7? This is pretty awful, and hopefully wrong! There are so many awesome novels in this part of the history that I love so much, it’s going to be extremely difficult to remain objective when I get to read this Aftermath item. I’m hoping that it is merely just a sequel to episode six, and helps to explain why the events of the entire original trilogy are just pointless, as the Empire appears to have survived its apparent annihilation at the end of Jedi. (This is still a strong bone of contention for me).

A comics prequel to the film sounds like it could be good, especially if it’ll be as high-quality as the new ongoing series. I was initially sceptical about replacing the amazing Dark Horse run, of course, but I was really impressed with that first issue, and am looking forward to the Vader series when those issues make it into my hot little hands!

Also intriguing, although not strictly part of the “Journey To …” the next movie: Look for a series of novels retelling the events of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi from the perspective of various supporting characters. Which ones? The publishers aren’t saying just yet. (Fingers crossed for a Behind the Music-style look at what Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band thought was happening in Jabba’s throne room.)

Okay, so I’m not particularly excited by this, but I remain open to being surprised.

However, the worst is this:

Those hoping to find out what Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo have been up to for the past three decades will find it first on the page, with Disney Publishing Worldwide and Lucasfilm confirming that the titles will be filled with Easter eggs foreshadowing events in J.J. Abrams’ Dec. 18 movie.

What is it with Star Wars needing to foreshadow itself all the time? Whenever this has happened before, it’s always been just so bloody awful. Something that leaps to mind is the eternal angst from Anakin during the Clone Wars multimedia tie-ins, where authors took pains to show us how he would so obviously turn into Darth Vader, to the extent that it made the character ridiculous. I’m not really looking forward to seeing endless “event b was inevitable because of event a in story x…”

But anyway. Lots of Star Wars stories coming up, surely the law of averages will mean some of them will be great…