New Games!

Hey everybody,
It seems like a very long time since I’ve really managed to catch up with the new games offerings from Fantasy Flight, but the last few days have seen a couple of things announced that have really gotten me excited for this stuff like I haven’t been in a long time, so let’s take a look!

Runebound expansions

Top of the list for me is this announcement from Wednesday, two new expansions incoming for the third edition of Runebound!

I picked up third edition when it was released, but it has been lying un-investigated for almost six months now. I guess a large part of this ambivalence is due to the fact I love the second edition so much. However, reading this announcement has gotten me excited for the game – more so, in fact, than the actual release! – and I’m planning to bring the game to the table tomorrow for International TableTop Day. It’s my intention to get a blog written up post-game with my initial thoughts, anyway, so keep an eye out for that!

The two new expansions look amazing, anyway, and a really nice way to expand upon a game. First up we have Caught in a Web, a scenario pack that seems to feature tons of theme in the form of Ariad, the sorceress nemesis that Descent players will be familiar with from the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion. From what we know of this Runebound implementation, Ariad will stalk the land in spider form, seeking to destroy four of the Free Cities of Terrinoth, which sounds like a super-thematic game experience, really exciting.

The Gilded Blade is an adventure pack that appears to be in the “more of the same” category of boardgame expansions, which I am more than okay with seeing. New skills and assets, and new encounter cards, are all more than welcome in this kind of game to keep it fresh and exciting. Both packs each come with one new hero – I say “new”, but both are veterans of Runebound second edition: Red Scorpion was in the older base game, and Jonas the Kind was one of the infamous four promo heroes. I love the fact we’re seeing old favourites in new sculpts (new for Runebound: Jonas the Kind can be found in Treaty of Champions in his new incarnation), as these heroes are the classics that I have enjoyed taking through Terrinoth on adventures in the past.

I cannot wait to try this game out tomorrow, and I cannot wait to get my hands on these expansions when they hit over the summer!

Elder Sign Grave Consequences

Something that may have flown a little under the radar is this print-on-demand expansion for Elder Sign that I’m really excited by! A deck of 50 cards split between Phobias, Epic Battles and Epitaphs, it looks like a totally awesome way to add in an extra bit or two to increase the theme of the game. I love it! I ordered it as soon as the news article went up, along with a game mat for Android Netrunner that I’ve wanted for a while, and at the time of this writing, these products have just yesterday landed in the UK. Can’t wait to get my grubby mits on them!

Android Mainframe

On the subject of Netrunner, I can’t not mention this game, which has been announced as now available. From having read the previews, it feels a lot like a re-creation of the LCG where all players are Runners going up against the Corp – I’ve been trying not to really look into it too much simply because I’ve grown to love the card game so much lately, but that very enjoyment is now making me think maybe this could be worth investigation. I’ve seen it available for £24, so it would hardly break the bank, but I just don’t feel a need for it right now.

Warhammer Conquest Searching for Truth

Warhammer Conquest is another LCG that I’ve been really enjoying since I began to play it with some gusto a month or so back, and I’m particularly looking forward to the Legions of Death deluxe expansion, which will bring my favourites, the Necrons, into the game! I’m feeling a little jealous that all of the other factions have so many cards while these guys will be entering the game following two full cycles, and their mechanic of using generic soldiers as chaff just makes that worse, to my entitled geek mind! I’m only partially serious – I wish they’d been able to bring the deluxe expansions for both Tyranids and Necrons out sooner, out of cycle if necessary, to ensure these factions aren’t left behind. But I suppose we’ll see when they eventually appear just how “left behind” they are.

The fourth expansion for the upcoming Death World cycle has been announced, Searching for Truth, and features a new Necron warlord – Illuminor Szeras! Of all the Necron named characters in 40k, I like him the most, as his model is just the right blend of creepy and weird that really fascinates me about the Necrons. My own attempt at the guy isn’t the greatest, but I enjoyed painting him all the same. In the game, he gains a resource whenever damage is removed from Necron units, and given the cards coming for the faction, this doesn’t look like it’ll be too difficult to accomplish! Looks like a more high-risk strategy than I usually go for in games, but definitely one that I’m looking forward to checking out!

Lord of the Rings Flame of the West

Finally, let’s take a look at the fifth Saga expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG that deals with the events of the actual book itself – The Flame of the West.

Long-time readers of my blog will probably remember that I’ve often called this game my all-time favourite game, yet I’ve barely played it at all for so long now, I feel like such a terrible person! In fact… the last time I played any of the quests was 7 September, when I went through the Voice of Isengard expansion. That is shocking! Recently, I’ve noticed I’ve been feeling in the mood for a game but, due to having my dining table choc full of half-painted miniatures, I’ve never gotten round to it. Hopefully soon I can get some more games in, and reacquaint myself with Middle Earth!

Flame of the West follows book five of The Lord of the Rings, and it looks like the quests will involve the bit with the spectres, a battle at the boats with the Pelargir corsairs, and then the pitched battle at the Pelennor Fields. I’m particularly interested in the second quest, The Siege of Gondor, which follows Aragorn et al as they take possession of the corsairs’ ships. I love the way this game has built up a whole library of side stories that have shown what happened just to the side of the main story of the books, and this looks like it’s going to be no exception! I’m also really intrigued by how the preview article describes the third quest as being heavily tied to the results of previous games…

The new Tactics Éowyn is worth mentioning as well – what a special skill! 4 willpower in a Tactics hero is going to be so useful anyway that she will definitely find her way into a lot of decks, but the ability to deal 10 damage for a threat-raise of 3 should be really handy in the multitude of quests we now have that time a boss-type enemy until late in the game. It’s also super-thematic for the hero, too, so a massive thumbs-up from me there!

Well that’s all I wanted to talk about today – so excited for some of these games, it’s just untrue! What about you guys? Looking forward to more for Runebound? Can’t wait to slay the Witch-king? Let me know in the comments!

Hack into the future

Hey folks!

Welcome to another game day here at spalanz.com! Today is fairly interesting, if you’re a fan of card games, as I’m taking a look at another of the LCGs from Fantasy Flight Games: it’s the turn of Android Netrunner!

Android Netrunner

This was the, what, fifth LCG released from FFG, a spectacular game that really exploded onto the scene at GenCon 2012 and, from what I’ve seen, hasn’t really lost that momentum. It’s a game based on the Netrunner game from the 90s, a game that was created by Richard Garfield (of Magic: the Gathering fame) and gained something that sounds like a cult following. It’s not a game I ever thought I’d be interested in, but it won me over about two years ago, and it’s definitely something that I enjoy playing.

However, I wouldn’t call myself an expert, not by a long shot, so this blog is intended more as my assorted thoughts rather than anything particularly insightful!

And so…

Android Netrunner

Android Netrunner is an asymmetrical game for two players, where one person takes the role of a Megacorp and the other plays the Runner, trying to hack into the corp’s servers looking for agenda points to steal. The corp, on the other hand, is trying to score these agenda points, and the first player to gain 7 points wins.

The game really shines in how the theme is reflected in the mechanics. Rather than go through the game-play myself, I shall defer to the tutorial video from FFG, which does a far better job of things than I ever could!

As I said, it’s a game that won me over, primarily because of the theme that comes through here. I’ve not been able to play it that often, sadly, and in fact the last time I played it is getting on for a year ago. Shocking!

First of all, I really love the corp mechanics. Even though I’ve never actually played the corp, I love seeing the strategy evolve of putting down Agendas – or bluffing with Upgrades or Assets – and protecting the whole lot with Ice, which the Runner then has to try and assess where best to run at.

Android Netrunner

 

I play Shaper most often, because I love the whole ethos behind the faction and all that. Not that they’re a goodie-type of thing, but it’s just the whole idea of modding their deck, trying to make some really cool stuff out of what they have, and it’s a much more interesting way to play. The Criminal faction has its moments, but the whole thing about snagging credits lends itself more to a support faction to me, while the Anarch thing has always been really annoying for me to make it work. Anyhow!

Android Netrunner

Something that I found a bit confusing for a long time – and even now, because I don’t play it all that often – is the terminology employed. I play a lot of card games, if you haven’t noticed already, but because this game refers to everything by different terms, even the rulebook can be a bit difficult to follow at times. For instance, when playing the Runner, you don’t have a deck, a hand and a discard pile; you have a stack, a grip and a heap, respectively. Furthermore, the Corp has R&D, HQ and Archives! Play areas are called the Rig (for the Runner) and Servers (for the Corp), too. While these things do help with the theme immersion, I still get a bit confused and, consequently, frustrated when playing this, as cards will reference stuff that I need to stop the game to look up what it means.

 

There is a lot of strategy involved in the game, a lot of which I must admit goes over my head. I’m not the most strategic of players, especially in games like this where there’s too great a chance that what I’m building towards will just be destroyed. For instance, a common Runner strategy is to wait until you get a full rig of icebreakers installed before you run, whereas I tend to go for the more effective strategy of just running as much as possible, even if I don’t have the credits to buff icebreakers, or if I haven’t even got any icebreakers out. The corp needs money to rez cards, so if you can drain those resources then go for it!

Android Netrunner

Something else I like about the Shaper faction, however, is the ability to merge icebreakers, almost. So you can get your ‘breaks code gate subroutine’ icebreakers, but there are cards you can play that give the ice you’re running against the code gate type, which is really useful. Or the Alpha and Omega icebreakers, which just break ice subroutines, no matter what their type. Wonderful stuff!

Android Netrunner

It’s unusual for me that I actually really enjoy the deckbuilding aspect of this game, almost as much as the game itself. I play a lot of card games, as you may have gathered by now, and while I don’t particularly dislike the effort that goes into making a deck for games like Lord of the Rings or Call of Cthulhu, it’s definitely different for Netrunner, I have to say. It’s almost like there’s a level of artistry or somesuch that goes into putting together the perfect rig, and then seeing it all pull together (or, y’know, not…) And this is another aspect of why I like Shapers so much – while the other Runners feel like they concentrate more on tricks and altering the game to their own end, the Shapers are more focused on playing the actual game, and playing it perfectly, like a well-oiled machine.

There’s an excellent article over on the FFG site, Get What You Want, When You Want It, which explores the Shaper faction in more detail – I can highly recommend it for a look!

To date, there have been three full cycles of expansions, along with two deluxe expansions, the latter focusing on specific factions only. The cycles have been doing some interesting things, I must admit. I find it quite intriguing, actually, that the game was initially designed with three supporting cycles. The first cycle – Genesis – gives each faction a new identity, while adding more cards that strengthen the base game, while the second cycle – Spin – starts to explore specific tactics, such as bad publicity for the Corp, and introduces the ‘double’ event, cards that have really useful abilities but have two distinct costs, such as the credits cost and a click. The third – Lunar – cycle brings more new identities along with more tactics that the designers specifically tried to mess with the established game meta.

Some really great stuff is explored here, and it’s always pleasantly surprising to see how the game expands. We’re on the cusp of the fourth – SanSan – cycle (at least, I haven’t actually seen it released here in the UK yet!), which promises to have more exciting rules to create a deeper experience, though I’m not yet sure if I’m going to continue with it, as I’ve not really explored the cards from the previous cycles yet! However, the new Shaper identity does sound intriguing…

I really like this game, though I’m in no way an expert! It’s something that can be really rewarding, even when you’re the loser, and I can highly recommend it to anyone, though if you like dystopian universes and card games, you’ll love it. That said, if you like those things, you’re probably playing this already…

Android Netrunner