Gen Con 2019!

Having somehow missed my annual blog roundup last year, I’m back with a look at the hot new stuff coming out of GenCon 2019 – spoiler alert: some of this stuff is really hot!

There they all go! It’s almost a tradition or something these days to see the geek swarm as the doors open on a Thursday! Wonderful stuff.

Marvel Champions LCG

I want to start with what was, for me, the biggest, most awe-inspiring, and most shocking reveal of the event so far: FFG have got the Marvel license. Well, maybe. I’ve not been able to find any further details on precisely what they can do – I mean, crikey, this announcement just came entirely out of nowhere and I’m still not entirely sure what it means for games. Where does it leave Upper Deck and Marvel Legendary? Hm.

A co-op living card game, to go alongside Lord of the Rings and Arkham Horror, is definitely an interesting move. The cards look similar to the heroes in Lord of the Rings, with their attributes running down the left hand side, and abilities down the bottom etc. The villain AI side of things appears a little more like Arkham Horror and the act/agenda mechanic, with a deck that can either attack your hero or work to advance their schemes.

I am particularly impressed with the news that the core set of Marvel Champions actually includes full playsets of all the cards, going against the grain of all previous LCGs. It’s a complaint that I’ve seen since the dawn of time, though, so I suppose it’s good to see the company work out that niggle!

However. I just don’t feel like I’m in the market for another LCG right now, and given that it does feel like an amalgamation of two other games that I already own, play and enjoy does make me think that I’ll likely pass this one over. I enjoy Marvel superheroes for sure, though not nearly as much as I used to enjoy them, and the theme is therefore just not strong enough for me to want to get this for the experience of playing a game in a specific universe.

On the subject of Arkham Horror, though, we’ve got another game set in the Lovecraft universe – Arkham Horror: Final Hour! This seems to be designed as a quicker game than the others in Fantasy Flight’s stable of Arkham Files games, and focused much more on combat than any of their previous games.

I’m not sure about this one, if I’m perfectly honest! There is still the element of investigation and discovery, as we attempt to find the clues to stop the ritual while beating back a tide of endless monsters and gribblies, and there seems to be a lot of interesting stuff going on from the image of the board up there, but there’s just something holding me back. Previous games have almost been built around the narrative and storytelling of the lore, and bringing that to the fore, while this just seems to be a little more on the punch-and-run style. I’ve definitely got my eye on it, and I think I’ll aim to get in a demo at my local store (as well as finding some videos on youtube in the fullness of time!) before making a final decision…

What else have we seen from FFG?

I gave up with Armada almost as quickly as I picked it up, but I saw these being delivered at the local store and had to chuckle to myself. £165 for a “miniature”?! Blimey. Apparently the base is bigger than the deployment zone, which I find silly, but I’m sure for narrative play it is a lot of fun.


Fantasy Flight Games used to be my all-time favourite games company, with amazing games that I used to enjoy playing again and again. I suppose my own life has evolved and I don’t really have the time for huge afternoons with intricate games anymore, though I’ve also noticed that there is a marked reliance on licensed games rather than sticking with their own stuff. I suppose that’s where the mega-bucks lie, and names like Marvel and Star Wars will certainly bring in the $$$. While there is a small part of me that is sorry to see things like Terrinoth go by the wayside, it’s still cool to see the company have a presence on the scene, and they are still producing amazing products, which has always been a hallmark.

However, I just don’t seem to feel the love for these things anymore. I suppose that’s probably because Games Workshop has sort of replaced them in my heart as favourite games company – so let’s take a look at what they’ve got to offer us from GenCon 2019!

Having recently announced my intention to get into Blood Bowl, I’m really impressed with the timing of this! Lizardmen are perhaps my all-time favourite Warhammer Fantasy faction, and I had been hoping I could pick some up to start my fantasy football journey with them, but alas it was not meant to be! I’ll definitely be picking these up though, as I just love them all!

Some of these skinks do look a little bit silly, though I love that dude prancing across the centre with the sun headdress on! What’s not to love!

So the Mirrored City has been shattered by the necroquake, or something, and the various bands of adventurers have made it out to find themselves trapped within a mountain range known as the Beastgrave. Well, something like that… I’ve still never played this game, of course, but I’m not sure that I like the Beastmen warband, as cool as some of the Gor models are, and the updated Wardancers are really quite divisive, aren’t they?!

I can’t decide, so I think I might wait this one out for now.

The manager at my local store is really excited for this one, though I’m not really feeling the love, either! My first thought was, oh it’s X-Wing in the 41st millennium, but I’ve no real idea what to expect here. Much like Adeptus Titanicus, I suppose I just don’t have the pedigree behind me to want this sort of game when it is so out of whack with the rest of Games Workshop’s products. Necromunda, Blood Bowl, and all the others are at least infantry-based miniatures games, and I can get behind them in a way that titan legions or airplane squadrons just don’t excite me as much.


So far, then, I’m not doing so well out of this year’s Gen Con, am I?! Stay tuned as I update this blog over the weekend with more news and opinions – who knows, maybe I’ll find a game that I actually like the look of!!

Getting Started with Blood Bowl

Hey everybody!
So after a bit of a false-start late last year, I’ve decided once again to try my hand at Blood Bowl. Well, to tell the truth, I’ve been convinced to try my hand at Blood Bowl following the news of a campaign of sorts coming sometime in October. How much of this campaign I’ll be able to take part in, I have no idea, as I’m expecting the arrival of the heir mid-month, but we shall see.

However, I’ve been trying to find out a bit about the game online, and I’ve not really found a great deal of useful information, if I’m honest. It’s also confused with the fact that some info out there is dating back to the old version of the game, and it’s unclear (to me, at least) whether the rules etc are all compatible. So I thought I’d create a sort of sub-blog here on my blog to chronicle this fine journey, as I seek to find out just what on earth I’ve let myself in for!

What is Blood Bowl?
In the game of Blood Bowl, the roar of the crowd and the chance for glory brings together players and spectators from every race in the Old World. On the pitch, tactical finesse meets wanton, brutal violence in a game where anything can happen (and often does!).

That’s how the official site puts it, and from what I’ve learnt so far, that seems to be pretty true! The game was initially produced in 1986, with rules by the legendary Jervis Johnson, and was basically a parody fusion of American Football with Rugby. There is a typically 80s over-the-top vibe from the game, with references to ridiculous violence and outlandish cheating.

Blood Bowl went through four editions up until 2000, at which point the “living rule book” concept took over with updates running through to 2009, bringing some significant changes, mostly along the lines of official teams being added to the line-up.

In 2016, Blood Bowl became the first game to be produced by the newly-established Specialist Games division. Plastic Orcs and Human teams from the starter set have been followed by all manner of classic Old World races, from Dark Elves and Undead to, most recently, Halflings and Wood Elves.

There is a lot going on with this game, it feels. I know a few people who have said it’s like no tabletop miniatures game they’ve ever played before, which is an intriguing prospect for me. I suppose one of the defining aspects of the game is the “turnover” mechanic, whereby a coach’s turn is over as soon as an action they have attempted fails.

Blood Bowl teams, as far as I can tell, have been released alongside team dice, card packs and thematic pitches, all of which were one-off releases. I find this utterly bizarre; it’s a similar situation to the Necromunda gangs, which came out with cards and dice that have since been discontinued. It feels odd to me that they wouldn’t want to keep these sorts of things in stock, and available to gamers.

I’ve picked up the Shambling Undead team to get started with, seeing as how I’m currently on a bit of an Undead kick in AoS. While I’ve managed to pick up the cards and pitch for a team that was released last winter, I’m still a bit bummed that I couldn’t get the dice. The fact that I can’t get products like the pitch, cards and dice for teams like the Dark Elves has left me thinking that I won’t bother picking that team up now. Putting aside the foibles of the collector, it’s slightly annoying that the pitches and the card packs contain additional rules for the game – rules that cannot be accessed by players coming to the game late.

It’s a rant, I know, but never mind.

There is a lot that I don’t understand about Blood Bowl, and I’m planning to be back here with updates as and when I get through playing the game!

Jumping on the beast-wagon

Hey everybody!
Well, if you’re one of my instagram followers, not only do you have impeccable taste, but you’ve likely already seen the post from last week about being seduced by the lure of the Beasts of Chaos battletome for Age of Sigmar. The musk is obviously heavy with those fine gentlemen. Ahem, anyway.

I haven’t played Age of Sigmar in years. In fact, I’ve only played it twice, and that was in its first edition, and I was playing with the new Stormcast Eternals. I did like those chaps, and still have my army from back in the day. At any rate, while I’ve made no real move to do anything more with the fantasy setting of Warhammer, I have been keeping an eye on things, and have often felt myself weakening as regards to getting back into it all. See, Warhammer Fantasy is what got me into this mess in the first place, and I will no doubt always have a soft spot for the Old World, even in its new incarnation.

While I was almost won over by the Daughters of Khaine (I did buy a couple of things, but then returned them and bought loads of Tau, instead) and the Idoneth Deepkin (I do actually have a box of something from that line, though I’m planning to turn them into Mandrakes for my Dark Eldar army – though I have heard they’re not quite the right scale? Oh, anyway), I’ve always managed to keep myself back from pulling the trigger on getting into Age of Sigmar with a full army. But when the previews started coming out on the Warhammer Community website, I was finding myself increasingly drawn to the Beasts of Chaos, and the idea of once again getting into the whole Fantasy thing, and so I have cautiously begun to dip my toe into the pond on that. Well, we’re probably mid-calf at this point, but I’m digressing.

Beasts of Chaos are one of the classic armies from the World that Was, of course, and were incidentally the first army I played against in the AoS system. I remember at the time thinking they looked like great models, and around the same time I bought some Minotaurs (now called Bullgors). I never did anything with them, and I think I ended up selling them. Anyway.

With all the new stuff coming for the army, I’ve once again turned my focus to these delightful, hairy chaps, and have decided that here is the army that I’ve been waiting for to get my attention.

I’m hearing a lot of good things about Age of Sigmar 2.0, and there has always been a very vibrant Fantasy scene at my local store, so I reckon it’s as good a time as any to start getting properly into this stuff. For the moment, life seems to have settled a little, so I think it’s about time I looked into the other offerings from Games Workshop, and see what they have going on.

Endless Spells are something I have no idea about, but they do sound kinda fun, adding another level to the game. I’ve always played armies with no psychic ability in 40k, so magic and the like is something that I’m not 100% sure about. So that’ll be interesting to see where it goes. The fact that magic spells have models sounds great, anyway, and the flaming bull and magical horn look tremendous – not so sure on the birds, but they’ll make great Razorwing Flock proxies for my Beast Pack in my Dark Eldar army.

All in all, I’m really looking forward to trying my hand with the Beastmen.

But wait – there’s more!!

I’ve been talking with a mate about Blood Bowl, and we’re both going to give it a go at some point, with a bit of luck. Once again, it’s good to have the sort of game where all you need is one team to get going, so I think it’ll be nice to have something available to use should the opportunity arise. Naturally, I’ve chosen the Doom Lords, although I was also considering the Dark Elves at one point. I have no idea about getting into Blood Bowl, and have only today ordered the box of these chaps, so once I’m sufficiently along with the AoS Beastmen, I think I’ll start to look at the fantasy football team and see where I can go with them, also.

Stay tuned for more blogs where I ramble inanely about my adventures with Beastmen, as I get started with both Age of Sigmar and Bloodbowl!

Upcoming Games!

We’re rapidly heading towards Christmas, which can only mean one thing: big games are coming! Okay, so it probably means more than that, but still! There are a lot of interesting things on the horizon, some nearer than others, so I thought for today’s game day blog, I’d ramble a little about these upcoming delights!

Burning of Prospero

The Burning of Prospero is coming out this weekend, and it looks spectacular. Along with a mass of Mk-3 Space Marines, we’re getting some of the most exciting models to be released by Games Workshop in quite a while! I had the chance to look at the sprues at my local store on Saturday, and those Custodes and Sisters of Silence are both amazing. I was even surprised to find myself excited by the Space Wolves character – normally I don’t go in for those guys, but the level of detail on him was fantastic! Definitely looking forward to getting a hold of this one!

The preview video put out by GW last week spends a lot of time talking about the theme of the game, before really quickly glossing over the rules, which at first made me wonder if the substance is in the theme rather than the mechanics. I really like the idea of using more than just d6s in the game, but I think I’ll need to look through the box myself before forming a real opinion. It looks fantastic, but as a game, I’ll reserve judgement. Of course, most people will likely be buying this for the miniatures rather than to play the game, but I have heard some good stuff about Betrayal at Calth, so I think it would be good to look at it in both aspects. Being mark three marines, I’m not overly keen, so more so than with Calth, I’m thinking I’d probably keep this as an actual game. Though I may break out the Custodians and the Sisters for other purposes…!

I don’t think it’s technically right to call it an expansion or anything for last year’s Betrayal at Calth, but more another game – another starting point – in the Horus Heresy universe. And speaking of alternative starting points for games…

Shadows of Brimstone Forbidden Fortress

We’re also on the brink of the next game in the Shadows of Brimstone line from Flying Frog Productions: Forbidden Fortress! Turns out the wandering samurai hero class was a portent of things to come, as we delve into Feudal Japan and all sorts of weird goings-on there! We’ll be fighting Japanese spirits in the third core set for the game, which is kinda exciting that it can both be added to or used independently of the existing material. I also like the idea that they’re reviving one of the missed stretch goals, the Belly of the Beast other world, for this one.

However, Shadows of Brimstone has been a bit of a let-down for me, if I’m being completely honest. The latest update, which not only served to formally announce the upcoming kickstarter (after the GenCon reveal) but also detailed the ongoing work on several other aspects of the Brimstone stuff, such as the Blasted Wastes, and I’m feeling really excited for it once more. However, it’s been almost three years since the game was kickstarted, and almost two years since I took delivery of the two core sets. The game is okay, the components felt a bit rushed, but more than anything I’m kinda pissed that so much of this material is available to retail, while the actual backers have to either wait or pay more money to get. That attitude saddens me, though, because the kickstarter was so badly handled that the company made it too good of a deal, and so I completely understand that they’d want to make as much as they could off the stuff. But that knowledge doesn’t take the bad taste away for me.

Kickstarter in general has become something of a hazardous area for me in the last year or so, however, and I’m no longer willing to invest in anything from there, partially because of the poorly handled campaigns such as this or Journey, which is kinda sad really.

I’ll certainly be checking the campaign out, of course, and look out for my long-overdue game day blog on Shadows of Brimstone, which I intend to bring out early December!

Blood Bowl

I think most gamers are aware the quintessential Fantasy football game Blood Bowl is making its long-awaited return to miniature war gaming before Christmas, although if I’m honest, the first time I’ve shown genuine interest in the game was actually when I came to write this blog!

I’m a big fan of the card game from Fantasy Flight, Blood Bowl: Team Manager, so I’m not entirely ignoring this. However, certainly within my local area, enthusiasm for the game seems mostly driven by nostalgia for the original, which I can’t pretend to share.

I think the miniatures look really great, for sure, though unlike with pretty much any of the other games they’ve put out for me to see so far, these things don’t look like they’d translate into any other game system. I suppose the Orcs might, but they all look like they’re American football players, after all…

Overall, I’m not that convinced with this one, and might need to see more or even play a game or two before making my mind up on Blood Bowl. I’m sure it’ll be great, though it might just not be for me…

We’ve seen a lot of boxed games coming out of Nottingham this year, and it’s been a really great time to see Games Workshop returning to their roots of an actual workshop of games. While I’m not necessarily chomping at the bit for stuff like Epic or Necromunda, I hope that we’ll be seeing a lot of great stuff like Deathwatch: Overkill and Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower in the years to come!

Welcome to the Big Leagues!

This is Blood Bowl! The most popular sport in the Old World!

Morning everybody!
Yes, it’s Tuesday, so it’s game day here at spalanz.com! Today I’m going to take a look at an old favourite of mine, Blood Bowl: Team Manager! The Warhammer version of the Superbowl, crossed with fantasy football, with a great deal of violence thrown in.

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Where else can you see a minotaur drop-kick a goblin? Where else can you watch an ogre flatten the entire opposing line?

Published in 2011 by Fantasy Flight Games, Blood Bowl: Team Manager is a game for up to four players, who take on the roles of team managers of one of six teams – three teams in each of two managers’ unions, the Old World Association and the Chaos Wastes Confederation. The object of the game is to collect enough fans to be awarded the Spike! Magazine “Manager of the Year” award. To do this, managers need to use their players to win a series of Highlights during each week of the games, as well as potentially the Spike! Magazine tournaments, culminating in the Blood Bowl itself.

Blood Bowl Team Manager Blood Bowl Team Manager

Managers start the game with twelve players, which they can add to as the game goes on by drafting star players to add to their player roster:

Blood Bowl Team Manager Blood Bowl Team Manager

Managers commit their players to each Highlight and/or the week’s Tournament one at a time, before the the matchup is resolved in the scoreboard phase. Certain cards have specific abilities, such as cheating (which is mandatory), passing (taking hold of the ball from midfield – that is, from the Highlight card), sprinting (drawing another card) or tackling (a bit like combat, I’ll explain in a minute…)

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Once all these abilities have resolved, the winner of each Highlight is determined by comparing each team’s star power at each matchup. The player cards, as you can see, have two stars on them, a larger one in the top left corner, and a smaller one in the bottom left. If a player is still standing, the top number is used; if he has been tackled, the card is placed on its side and the lower number is used. If any players have successfully passed, they also add the star power of the ball. Then, the managers each receive the payout from their zones, and the matchup winner receives the central payout as well.

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Highlight cards (above) offer managers the opportunity to gain Staff Upgrades (the ball icon), Team Upgrades (the helmet icon), Fans (the flag icon) or draft Star Players (the star icon):

Blood Bowl Team Manager
Team Upgrades
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Star Players
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Staff Upgrades

The number of fans you gain is added to the scoreboard track.

The game ends when the Blood Bowl is revealed from the Tournament deck, though there are also other high-stakes games where managers can commit their players:

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Are the refs really going to let this slide?

Cheating is mandatory. When a manager commits a player with a skull icon to a Highlight, he gains a cheating token. During the scoreboard phase, the tokens are turned over and resolved; they have a variety of effects, from adding star power, giving managers more fans, or getting the player sent off (the whistle icon):

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Tackling (the burst icon shown on Headsplitter, above) is optional, however. When tackling, the manager declares the target of the tackle and the star power of each player is compared before the manager rolls the tackle dice to determine if it succeeds or not. If a standing player is successfully tackled, the card is downed – placed on its side, contributing less Star Power to the matchup. If the player was already downed, he becomes injured, and is removed from the matchup. However, tackling is not exactly cut-and-dried, as the tackle dice could mean the tackler himself becomes downed as a result.

Wow, I’ve never seen a nose bend that way! Did you see that, Bob?
Of course, Jim, how could I miss that? He’ll need to find a good apothecary!

I’m really not a sporty person, but I really like this game! If you haven’t got the impression already, this game is over-the-top hilarious, complete with snarky little comments from Jim and Bob, the Blood Bowl commentators! It’s lots of fun, and can be really hilarious when you throw yourself into it.

In case it hasn’t become obvious yet, I really like Fantasy Flight Games, and I also really like the Warhammer universe. That alone should be enough to recommend this to me, but it’s also unlike any other game I own. Rather than being some sort of war game, where you build up opposing armies and whatnot, it’s a sports game, but more like a combat sports feel to it, if that makes sense at all?! I find it’s a really awesome choice, and as I’ve said, it’s also really fun and rewarding when you get into the spirit of the game. It is quite tongue-in-cheek and stuff, but that’s something that I really like about it!

Blood Bowl Team Manager

There have, to date, been two expansions released for the game – Sudden Death in 2013, and Foul Play just a couple of weeks ago. Each expansion adds a new manager’s union – the Dark Sorcery Syndicate in Sudden Death, and the Putrid Players Guild in Foul Play. In addition, each one brings new mechanics to the table, such as Contracts and Enchanted Balls (*snigger*), Diseases, Penalties and Stadiums. I’ve yet to play with either of these, but nevertheless, I’m really impressed with the way in which the game has been expanding, and have been looking forward to trying these out for a while now – needless to say, when I do, there will be updates here!!

The base game has a lot to recommend it, and I can definitely suggest you all pick up a copy today!

Buy it from amazon:
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Sudden Death
Foul Play