January 2023 retrospective

Hey everybody,
Just like that, January is over and we’re already one-twelfth of the way through the year. While I know for many people January is a long, long month, it somehow doesn’t seem to have been all that bad for me. I think I’m putting this down to the fact that I’ve tried my best to be organised about what I’m doing with my time, so that I have clear things to look forward to, and so on.

On a personal level, while I have lost the Christmas weight that I’d put on, I’ve not continued the downward trend yet. However, I’ve downloaded the Fantasy Hike app which tracks how far you walk and overlays this on Frodo’s journey to Mordor. So you get updates like Black Riders on the road, camping with the elves, and staying overnight with a farmer. It’s all pretty hilarious, and while I’m not yet projected to arrive at Mount Doom until Q3 2024, I have actually walked 70 miles in January, so I think that’s pretty impressive, actually! I want to take some time soon to try and plan more meals and stuff that would help me to lose weight while eating well, and then as the weather begins to improve (or at least, get more consistent), I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get out and about more, and with a bit of luck, I’ll keep going down from there!

Marvel Champions

Around the middle of the month, I had a day off to basically have a games day, something very indulgent I know. But that was one of the best things that I had going on, because it meant not only that I had that goal in my sights, but also I got to play with the Marvel Champions stuff that I got for my birthday and Christmas. It also prompted last week’s theme week, where I posted about the game every day of the week. It was really great to play some of the newer stuff, and it was a lot of fun to then have a blog go out at the same time each day with my rambling musings on it all. It’s definitely fired my interest in the game once more, which had somewhat waned during the Autumn last year, so that’s definitely a good thing now that I have almost the entire product line…

It’s also helped to really bump up my numbers for played games this year, as I’ve already played almost 20 games this year. That’s a fifth of my goal checked off already. I’ve also started on my third play-through with The Dunwich Legacy campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, which will of course go a long way to helping further with those numbers as a campaign is eight games. I’d spent part of my New Year’s Eve building up new decks, for Mandy Thompson and Tony Morgan, but couldn’t really decide in which campaign to play them. After vacillating over Dunwich and Innsmouth, Dunwich has now won out. However, I’ve also been finding myself thinking up which investigators I want to deckbuild for next, and so I don’t think it’ll be too long before I make it back to Innsmouth, after all!

January has seen 19 games being played, with Marvel Champions being the runaway leader here by far. I think there have been a few great games being played, though the real stand-out happened just yesterday, as I went back to Mutant Genesis and tackled the Project Wideawake scenario with Cyclops and Shadowcat. I love the X-Men, primarily from the Bryan Singer movies of the early 2000s, but I think in terms of overall superhero appeal, X-Men are very close to my heart. Which is probably why I was so disappointed after my first game with the new box. However, Cyclops and Shadowcat was a pretty good pairing, with only maybe a couple of cards swapped into both decks.

Marvel Champions

There is a lot going on in that scenario, and I think I had to play really slowly at times to make sure I was doing everything correctly. But it was incredibly enjoyable, as I was able to really experience the game, and it felt very much like the Sentinels were coming for my guys, especially with the Mk V Sentinel attaching that “marked for extermination” card to Cyclops. There was a lot of stuff going on with both heroes as well, and I think after the initial play with Cyclops, and then looking through his deck to try to make sense of what it is doing, I was a lot more prepared for this game. Shadowcat has some interesting things too, though without knowing a lot about both her deck and the scenario, it was difficult at times to know if I should be bothered by Patrol minions, for instance. Of course, all hell broke loose when her nemesis came into play, which I think is only the second time ever I’ve had that happen in a game, and towards the end I was almost drowning in side schemes! But I was able to get Cyclops’ Optical Blast off with the card that deals +8 damage to bring the Sentinels right down to 3 health, at which point it was almost trivial for Shadowcat to deal the final 3 damage for the win. It was by no means easy, but it was a lot of fun as the game went on! 

Even though I’ve almost completed my Marvel Champions goal of 10 games this year, I think this is well on track for becoming my most-played game of all time, the way I’m going with it!

In terms of the hobby, I have been really pretty productive here, too. I’ve painted up my Goliath gang for Necromunda, which involves seven gangers and two vehicles, so it works in both the regular game but also Ash Wastes. That was a really great result, especially as I’m still quite surprised that I’ve gone all-in for these guys. Since the game came out in 2017, Goliaths have definitely been at the bottom of the list for me, and with each subsequent gang to come out, they only went further down. But after building up the big lads and especially their ridiculously over-the-top bikes, I’ve really become quite the fan! My first time painting yellow hasn’t been all that bad, either, so all in all, I am very pleased!

Even more pleasing is the fact that we’ve been able to have a game of Necromunda, as well! My Goliaths vs James’ Orlocks, using the Prison Break scenario from Gang War 3. We were intending to use this as the start of a campaign, but James has decided to switch from Orlocks to Enforcers, but we’re still hoping to use that opening game as a bit of a scene-setter for the upcoming Law & Misrule campaign. So stay tuned for more on that one!

I am definitely fired up for more Necromunda though, and have not only also started to paint the Escher gang that I have had built since 2017, but also more Zone Mortalis scenery! The Eschers have got a bright red armour thing going on, although with all their hair and feathers etc, the colours are tending towards quite bright right now. I suppose that makes sense, but I do worry a little bit that they’re not Underhive-y enough… I’m also finding it quite difficult in general because of both the way they were built, in terms of actual gluing of parts and also the weapon choices, and additionally the grey primer which is quite thick and chalky in places. I had a similar issue with my Orlocks when I first tried to paint them, but stripped the paint and it all seemed to be okay, however with the Escher I don’t think they’re robust enough to withstand stripping! However, I do have another Escher gang sprue from the Hive War box I picked up ages ago for the Delaque and terrain, so I can always build the Escher gang I want that way.

In terms of Zone Mortalis painting, I have managed to get more walls and columns painted up in about a weekend, which has been amazing really! My total ZM painting now stands at eight wall sections and seven columns, with one platform so far. This is great, of course, though I would say I’ve still got easily half the Dark Uprising box still to paint! My colour scheme requires an undercoat of Mechanicus Standard Grey, of which I have currently run out, so I suppose for the time being I am stalled on this one, but hopefully I’ll be able to get some more of that soon and make more headway.

Something that I’ve been thinking about for some time is how literally all of my ZM terrain is modular, which causes some problems because it can all move during play, etc. So I’ve recently glued together two pieces to create a bit of an anchor in games. I’ve got a corner tower, which has been glued to that height with ladders to provide access up the top, and then I’ve glued a small wall section to a small door section, both of which are then attached to a column. I find that the doors in particular can be problematic because you are actually moving the door piece in-game, which sometimes knocks the wall a bit. So it’s good to have that kind of anchor to keep stuff in-line. As it stands, both of these pieces should be easy enough to fit into a larger landscape on the table, and they shouldn’t be too difficult to work into the other pieces that I have which involve the staircases. But I suppose we shall see!

Speaking of stairs, though, I find myself wanting to get another set of those, as I want to try and make a few more accessways to upper levels. Something that I have found with our games so far in the Underhive has been that they’re mostly one-level. It was nice in the Prison Break scenario to have the Orlocks starting up in a second-storey area, because it meant that we could interact with height a bit more, although as the objective was to flee the board, they were coming down the stairs very early. I’ve been thinking more about finally buying some of the plastic tiles as well, but with only a 2×2 area rather than 2×3 that we’ve been used to, it had always been my thought that it wouldn’t be as interesting. But without two full tiles, the only way is up, really! So maybe doing this could mean that we would naturally play on more levels as a result? We shall see. Obviously, the plastic terrain fits better on those tiles than on the cardboard ones, but I always find myself wanting to spend my limited hobby funds on miniatures, and not tiles! 

Anyway, that’s a lot of rambling about Zone Mortalis, but it has definitely been at the forefront of my mind this month, with the game and all, so I suppose it was inevitable, really!

Drukhari vs Imperial Fists

I also had a game of 40k this month, with my Dark Eldar against JP’s Imperial Fists, and once again, Toughness 3 proved to be the lesser match to marines. The amount of stuff that space marines can do is just ridiculous, and I am quite envious of the way the army almost runs itself, as opposed to having to actually fight to make things work for the xenos armies that I otherwise love! Of course, mistakes were definitely made on my part, but I think I can definitely play smarter in games, so I really want to try to develop my game plan in games going forward. So that will be a work in progress for however longer we have 9th edition 40k.

It has definitely been a productive time in the hobby so far this month, and already I have been able to check off one of my hobby goals for the year, by getting more ZM scenery painted! I don’t know if I will actually be able to get the whole box painted, of course, but it would be just lovely if I did end up getting the whole lot finished. I imagine that games would look so much nicer, if nothing else! I am very aware that 2022 started out really productive too, of course, with lots of Tau units being painted, only for me to falter around Easter time and stuff, so I’m hoping that by taking a much more measured approach to all this, I will actually be able to get somewhere this time. Well, time will tell I suppose!

As far as the hobby stuff goes, then, it’s a little difficult to quantify at the minute because I’ve not really painted up a proper squad per se, but I suppose you could call it one unit (Goliaths) and some terrain (the ZM stuff). That’s against the box of Escher bikes that I bought, so I’m definitely up on the whole bought vs painted thing so far!

This is getting extremely long now though, so I’ll call it a day here. Let’s hope that February is just as productive!!

Gaming 10×10

Goal of the Challenge:
As a counterpoint to the Cult of the New, this challenge encourages people to play each game several times to explore and experience them in depth. There is no rush to find the optimum strategy on your first play, or read all of the cards beforehand. Instead, each play reveals something more and something different, you get to try various strategies, and everyone’s strategies evolve with their understanding and learning of the game. If you are tired of constantly learning new rules when running after the latest hotness, never really learning various strategies to any game, and needing to relearn the rules of old games because it’s been too long since they were played, this is the challenge for you.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just play ten games, ten times each, over the course of the year. Well, I’ve tried it a couple of times, in 2015 and 2016, and both times I failed! However, this time I want to try to be more disciplined about the whole thing. I’ve talked about it a couple of times in recent weeks here on the blog, but I want to try and do something to really get the most out of my game collection. I have literally thousands of pounds of board games, so I do want to make more use of it!!

To that end, then, I am throwing down my hat early on in the year, to plan which games I want to play over the next twelve months, and then at each end-of-month retrospective I can track how I’m doing, much as I’m planning to do for my hobby goals that I talked about the other day, as well. I feel I need to emphasise though, it’s not about scripting my entertainment for the year, it’s just a way to keep me on track!!

Without any further ado, then…

I think everything here should be very straightforward to achieve, as it’s all stuff that either I know that I can play solo, or that I know my wife won’t roll her eyes at me if I suggest we play! Though hope springs eternal that she will try the Star Wars LCG again someday…

The three LCGs up there are all games that I played at least ten times in 2022, so I have no doubt that I’ll be able to accomplish that part of the deal fairly easily. I have four big games that can sometimes take some build-up, as I know they’re a bit of a time-sink, but they’re all very enjoyable so I’m hoping that won’t be too much trouble, either. Hogwarts Battle and Elder Sign are both games that Jemma quite likes (the Harry Potter game is probably her favourite of the lot), so I think it’ll be easy enough to get these played, too.

That does mean, though, there is one missing. It’s 10 games, after all! Well, the Challenge that I quoted from at the start has two levels, Normal and Hardcore, but both allow for some flexibility. In Normal mode, you can add in and swap out games if you’re finding it difficult, whereas in Hardcore you pre-select 11 games and have to play at least ten of them. I’m opting for a bit of a middle ground, where I have a couple of games in mind that could form the tenth slot, but it’s more difficult because I need people to play them with!

I’d like to play more Carcassonne, as it was one of my favourite games back in the day, but I’m not sure I’m in a majority on that one. I have been thinking about stuff like Hellboy and Ghostbusters, both huge kickstarter games that I’ve barely scratched the surface with, so it kinda makes sense to include those as well. Finally, there’s stuff like 40k, which could probably see a lot of time if I were to apply myself, or Necromunda, which still needs some evangelism to get people round here to play with me. I suppose I could always just play that solo scenario with the Ambot ten times, though!

So far, I have actually managed to play two games this month, Runebound, and A Touch of Evil. So I’m well on the way, already!! I’m feeling quite hopeful that I will be able to get through the challenge this year, as I have chosen some games that have a lot of new content for me to try, plus games that I haven’t really played in years, so it should be good to get back to them. I’m not really in the business of buying many new games these days – Marvel Champions last year was my first new game for years – so I can’t really see me getting sucked into the cult of the new, but it’ll be good to have something to focus my mind, and hopefully I’ll be able to smash through the list in no time at all! It is only one play of each game per month, after all…

December 2022 Retrospective

And just like that, 2022 is over. Well, I suppose there are a few more hours to go, but you know what I mean. It’s been quite the month, as well, with quite a decent spread of stuff going on!!

To start with, I was quite impressed with myself for not only building four investigator decks and planning to play the full Dream-Eaters campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, but then making good on the whole thing and just steaming through it in pretty short order! I think my recent track record with Arkham campaigns taking me months to complete didn’t really make me all that positive! But there we have it. I haven’t yet picked up The Scarlet Keys, and I have played most of the Innsmouth campaign, so I’m in the curious place now where I don’t really have any new Arkham content to play…

I really enjoyed playing this one, which I think was important because I hadn’t particularly enjoyed Innsmouth (because of my investigator choice, I think) or Edge of the Earth (because of the story, I think), so it was good to get the love back! I’ve talked a bit recently about going back and playing some of the earlier stuff again, as I definitely preferred those campaigns, so I can see myself making another run at Dunwich in the new year! I do want to retry my luck with Innsmouth, as well, so I think it will possibly be a while before I do actually get round to buying The Scarlet Keys, but equally I am looking forward to seeing how that one works. There’s a lot to be excited about right now!!

I’ve recently had quite a huge splurge on Marvel Champions stuff though, getting a hefty injection of content for my collection between my birthday and Christmas, so I should probably look at playing more of that in the future as well! It’s mad, when I think about it objectively, how I’ve gone from zero to almost a full collection of this stuff in the space of not very long. I’ve definitely been enjoying the game, though, and have spent a couple of evenings sleeving up the new arrivals, so I have the Red Skull and X-Men boxes ready to go now. I can’t quite decide which one to go for first, though!! I’m not really interested in playing them as a campaign, having tried the Thanos campaign but being really underwhelmed with it. I think I’ll probably go towards Red Skull for starters, though, as I have a lot of Avengers heroes that I want to try out still. It doesn’t feel right yet to move on to the mutants…

Marvel does seem to have been on the radar a lot more of late, though, as I’ve finally started to chronicle my thoughts on the Phase 4 stuff we were watching back in the autumn. I think of myself very much as a casual Marvel fan – I’m more likely to froth at the mouth where Star Wars is concerned, than any inconsistencies in the MCU. Yet another reason why my sudden all-out acquisition of the Marvel Champions stuff is a bit mad. But it’s fun, and doesn’t take a lot of concentration to watch this stuff, so I can have it on while building or painting miniatures, or whatever. I’ve got some more catching up to do, though, before I can get to the end of this Phase, so there’s more to come in the new year, hopefully before Phase 5 kicks off in February with the next Ant Man film.

I mentioned Star Wars just now, and I did spend a decent chunk of the month reading the recently published Shadow of the Sith, which was very good! The sequel trilogy has been maligned, much like the prequel trilogy was back in the early 2000s, so I’m personally looking forward to 2035 (or so) when I expect the fans to start enjoying it in favour of whatever other new thing is currently causing the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. For me, the sequels aren’t great, but it’s what we have so I’m trying to find the positives. Books like this one help to tie in the new landscape that Disney has blasted into being, so I’m glad that some effort is being made to actually give a backstory to the films. It’s a difficult position to take, but I’ve come to peace with the fact the movies exist, no matter how disappointed I am with the decision to sweep away the old EU.

On an unrelated note, I need to get my act together and finish watching Andor! I’ve watched the first six episodes, but it just dropped off my radar and I’ve not had the inclination to get back to it! Shameful.

At any rate, I’m currently reading The Wraithbone Phoenix, the latest book in the Warhammer Crime series. I started it on Christmas Eve, as an early Christmas present, but I have to say, it’s been a bit of a slog up to now. I think I’m around halfway through, so it shouldn’t be too long before I come back here with some more thoughts. It’s a bit of a shame, though, as I really loved the first book in the imprint.

Speaking of shame, let’s talk about my hobby projects from the month! I’ve really put this whole thing on the back burner, it seems, which is a bit sad really as I had high hopes for another hobby-ful festive period! I have completed the five sword-and-board Lychguard that I had begun to work on back when I moved house, more than three years ago. Considering Lychguard are my favourite Necron models, I’ve actually had some real trouble with these guys, and the warscythe group too, but I’ve finally put those to rest now.

Drukhari have been sneaking into the painting queue for quite a few months now, and I’m so glad to get these three finished as the models were just horrible to paint. Part of that is probably down to my prep of them, but a big part is just the poor finecast material. Again, I’ve had these hanging around for years (at least two of them were built before I moved), so it’s been good to reach into that backlog and just get stuff done. I had planned to get five Wracks finished, then get to work on some more Wych Cult stuff before the year end – Hellions, and another Venom. Well, suffice it to say that the Wracks are close, but not yet finished, so… yeah…

Interestingly, I haven’t done any work on the Grey Knights this year. I often think of them as “my Christmas army” and definitely enjoyed playing games with them this time last year, but they’ve kinda passed me by this year. However, I think there have been a couple of things going on that have perhaps been at work here. First off, I have definitely been playing more other games this year, and have been enjoying a far wider selection of things than I have in years gone by, which has potentially taken time away that would otherwise have been put into painting miniatures. I’ve also just felt like the days have gone by too quickly to really accomplish much of anything!! But also, both of my regular gaming buddies have moved slightly away from 40k, JP towards Middle Earth and James into Age of Sigmar. So my 40k outlets have diminished a bit, though neither of them refuses to play of course (I think both have had significant 40k projects from Santa, too, so they’re not going anywhere!) But it’s been five months since my last game of 40k, and I think it’s beginning to show on me…

I’m sure when I come to think of my 2023 hobby goals, however, I’ll be fired up to get stuff done once again!!


That’s December, so how has 2022 been, overall? I’m a word: odd. My WordPress stats tell me I’ve made 181 posts this year, which is quite good (I posted every day in May, which probably helped!) and my views are up 30% on last year. How wonderful! I know it’s easy to say, but I really do this for the hell of it, and not for the views – if you do read my drivel, I thank you! It’s not like this blog is any kind of revenue stream though, so the views don’t really come into play, I just post stuff regardless! (If you’re interested, my most-viewed post of all time is about Tau support systems, which dates back to 2018. Even all these years later, it keeps getting looked at!)

I touched on this earlier, but I seem to have had a bit of a balance-shift away from the hobby treadmill and instead I’ve moved back to more regular board and card games. Of all the games that I’ve played this year, the living card games have come out on top once again, probably because co-op, solo play is the easiest to effect, and I don’t need to arrange anything in advance.

In all fairness, it has been quite a productive year for me. I think I have benefited from the fact that the kids are just a little bit older now, and even though at 3 and 18 months they can be demanding, we’re in that sort of routine with them both where we can actually get stuff done. I’ve been able to play a lot of games, get a lot of painting done, and I’ve read quite a few books over the course of the year, so I’m quite pleased with that!

According to the stats on boardgamegeek, I’ve played 106 games this year, which doesn’t really seem a lot, I know. Almost nine a month? Hm. There are some very interesting titles among those games, of course, such as getting in a game of Warhammer Underworlds, trying out the Ghostbusters game, I even got to play Rune Age and Runebound once again! 2022 has definitely been a year or rediscovery for me, of breaking the run of games going unplayed. Looking ahead, I’m planning to initiate a bit of a plan to get more games played, but not something that relies on me playing three or four campaigns of Arkham Horror LCG to bump the numbers up!! It does irk me a little when I look at my games, and how much a lot of them have cost, but how many of them are going unplayed. I’m therefore not trying to set out some kind of stringent plan that must be adhered to, but instead I want to come up with something, a bit like the hobby goals blog that you’re all doubtless looking forward to reading tomorrow, that will focus the mind so that I can just make sure I do get to enjoy all of these games that I’ve bought!

Reading
My major project for 2022 was the Summer of Star Wars, where I re-read the prequel era stuff. There were a couple of things that I had never read before, but by and large I was reading stuff that I was fairly-to-very familiar with. I think it was a little over 5 months, in total, to read from Darth Plagueis all the way through to Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, and while it was a lot of fun to read some of these things that I hadn’t read for ages I think I went a bit overboard at times, and was reading a lot of stuff for the sake of it, etc. Normally, when I would re-read the prequel stuff, I had formed “my version” of the continuity, leaving out the boring stuff, and just sticking with the good stuff (like Cloak of Deception – yes, it’s an amazing book!)

I’d started the year with the new Thrawn: Ascendancy trilogy, which was a pretty good series if truth be told. I think reading it back-to-back like that was a good benefit, as otherwise I suppose it might have lost something. I had been surprised at how un-Star Wars the trilogy felt, and yet it remained great! I’ve also pretty much finished the year with Star Wars as well, reading Shadow of the Sith and being pretty impressed, I have to say! The sequel era is still like some kind of weird wasteland though, and I definitely want to have more of the timeline filled out there – more info on what is going on between the trilogies, especially. Mystery is good and all, but when it isn’t paid off, there’s just no point!!

In addition to all the Star Wars stuff, I’ve made a return to the Horus Heresy, and have made a start with reading The Witcher books with my fellow bloggers Jenn, Dave and Milou. We’re poised to start on book four in the new year, so it’ll be interesting to see where the series goes as I have no prior knowledge for what to expect, having never really been into the gaming side of it all.

Gaming
This year has been pretty spectacular in many respects. In addition to the usual stuff, 40k and Lord of the Rings, Arkham Horror LCG etc, which have made regular appearances for the last few years, I’ve really rediscovered loads of games, bringing a lot of old favourites back to the table such as Runebound, A Touch of Evil, Eldritch Horror and even the Star Wars LCG!

The game that has stood out for me by far is Marvel Champions, which was a fairly late discovery as I only started to play with it in August. It has proven to be really easy and really enjoyable to play though, and I’m surprised I hadn’t looked into it sooner. Over the latter half of the year, especially Christmas time, I’ve picked up almost the whole line for the game, with just a few odd packs still on the shopping list. By virtue of it being a quick game that is fairly self-contained, it is up there as one of the games that I have played the most this year.

Vying for the top spot of Most Played Game of 2022 is Arkham Horror LCG, which has seen a lot of table time by virtue of having played through three whole campaigns, plus part of a fourth, as well as giving some of the stand-alone scenarios a try. I talked about this recently, but I would like to play some of the early campaigns again, so have started to think about who I would like to take with me through Dunwich or Carcosa again – I have played Dunwich twice already, so I think I might try Carcosa again. And given the fact that I really like it when Arkham Horror takes place in Arkham, I think I might go for The Circle Undone once more as well. I’m planning to pick up The Silver Keys in due course as well, though, so I’m sure that will appear on the radar. 

I am planning to try to get much more regular gaming in throughout 2023 though – getting to play with some of those big-box classics has really made me want to play more, if for no other reason than to try and get my money’s worth from them! I have a lot of games, and they aren’t exactly cheap either, so it would be great if I could actually play more with them. I’m not really into discovering new games these days, as I know a lot of tabletop gamers can be, so I’ll have a blog about my plans for the coming year coming up early on in January!

Painting
Ah yes, the dreaded Hobby Progress 2022 update! Let’s remind ourselves, shall we, of the goals that I’d set at the start of the year…

  1. Paint more terrain
  2. Adepta Sororitas – paint more models
  3. Build & paint the Ossiarch Bonereapers units I have
  4. Continue to paint Genestealer Cults
  5. Paint up those Tyranids that have been primed
  6. Try to sort out the other armies!
  7. Start painting a new Tau army

Well, in going over those points, I was struck by how much I actually have done towards these goals. It’s not like I’m going to get some kind of bar chart out, but I think I have done a fair bit within every point to say that it has been a success, this year!

To start with, I have painted more terrain. I spent almost two-thirds of the year painting up the Galvanic Magnavent, but it’s finally finished, so that’s the second big piece of terrain that I can firmly tick off the list. To add to this, I’ve also finished off the Thermic Plasma Conduits, and the first Haemotrope Reactor. In addition, I’ve also painted up the entire box of Ash Wastes terrain for Necromunda! So I’m quite pleased with the first point there, getting a number of kits finished.

The Adepta Sororitas were something of a bete-noir for me for a long time, as I had gone through so many different ideas for colour schemes for them. After setting myself the goal this year of painting them once more, I floundered for a long time, and I think around Easter I did consider just off-loading the whole lot, as it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen for me. But then, during the Wimbledon final, I stripped the paint off those models that I had tried a few schemes on and, in very short order I was able to get the squad of ten finished. Since then, it’s kinda snowballed for me, and I’ve been able to get a good chunk of models painted up! I’m very pleased with this one, and would go as far as to say it’s been my biggest success of the year! 

As far as the Bonereapers are concerned, however, I have built up five cavalry models, and primed them. And that’s where it ends… Genestealer Cults have had the Nexos painted, which I know is just one model, but still! I do have quite a few models left to paint here, and I would like to try to get back to these guys at some point. Tyranids were a bit of a surprise, as they’re an army that’s always in the back of my mind, but I never seem to make any effort with them. However, this year I did get two carnifexes finished, which was a real delight – horrible models to assemble, but they look great when they’re finished!

In terms of my other armies, I have done some work to thin the ranks, getting the Blood Angels sold off. I still have my Deathwatch and Tempestus Scions, which I’ve just not been able to part with as I love the models so much, but we’ll have to see on that front. I have a good amount of AdMech to keep as a single army, so I might get round to finishing off painting some of those models at some point. I have actually spent a good chunk of the year painting up Drukhari, getting my Wych Cult models off to a better start, as well as that Raider, then the Grotesques and Wracks most recently. In terms of my Necrons, I have finished off the Lychguard and Tomb Blades, which have been projects in varying stages of half-completion for years, and I have done some more work on the Immortals to make their weapons look nicer. Chaos Marines have had some love too, with the Sorcerer and my first ten-man squad being completed. To top it all off, I’ve been able to paint two of the Kill Teams from the big boxes, as well. So within the catch-all heading of “other stuff”, it’s been pretty good!

Finally, my Tau army. It all started so well, but I think maybe I had been too blinkered in just painting Tau for the first few months of the year, and so I grew a bit listless and stuff. It’s a very exciting project for me, though, and I have recently begun to think once again about getting the brushes out for these guys. I think it’s a better idea to take more of a measured approach this time, though, and not just go all-in but try to keep things mixed-up for variety. Maybe a couple of Tau things, a couple of Sisters, some Drukhari or Necrons, maybe even some Genestealers, and see where we get to. But I have painted up a fairly decent amount of stuff over those first few months, so I think it’ll be nice to add to that once again.

All in all, then, I’m quite pleased with my progress during 2022. I’ve been totting up the bought vs painted figures, and in terms of boxes painted, the painted far outweighs the bought (14 bought and 37 painted), but in terms of the models, if we assume the distribution for some stuff like Kill Team boxes, I’ve actually bought 178 models, and painted 179! So that’s very interesting indeed!

This is all getting very wordy now, though, so I think I will stop rambling now. Have a wonderful new year, everybody, and stay tuned for more rambles in 2023! You know you love it!

Veil of Twilight

I tried to save the world from Yog-Sothoth, but I don’t think it went as planned…

Arkham Horror

I’ve been enjoying the Arkham universe once again lately, getting halfway through the Dream-Eaters campaign for the Arkham Horror LCG in fairly short order. I’ve not played the board game for a while, though, so decided to take the opportunity to try my hand at the third scenario from the core set, Veil of Twilight. This was a very interesting game, because I’m definitely starting to see how this game is less about picking an Ancient One to fight, and more about the unfolding narrative of the scenario, which may or may not culminate with a boss battle.

Very much as the rulebook says, we don’t really know what we’re trying to do at the start of the game. There are some bits and pieces, but we’re really trying to figure things out as we go. In this scenario, there are “scars” in the fabric of reality that, it seems, need to be mended. But you need to keep doom in check, of course, and there are lots of monsters in this one that interact with doom which, during the course of my game, meant I had something of a nexus of evil up at the top of the board!

Arkham Horror

I decided to use Agnes Baker and Minh Thi Phan as my investigators, as I am currently playing with them in the card game, so that was quite good. However, I hadn’t reckoned on their stats, so was left with two fairly fragile investigators going up against the denizens of hell. However, Minh constantly surprised me and was able to actually clear out that nexus of evil, while Agnes pretty much kept the rest of the board in check.

Arkham Horror

Partway through the scenario, more of these scars turn up on the board, and you need to spend clues from the scenario sheet to seal them up. Agnes became a powerhouse here, getting the clues and whacking them onto the sheet – I think Minh sealed two scars up, but it was mostly Agnes laying all of the groundwork. How surprising, then, when the time came, that I discovered that actually, I have paved the way for “the real work of the Silver Twilight Lodge” to begin! Minh had actually joined the secret fraternity, so I suppose technically she won, but jeez, I wasn’t expecting that!

Arkham Horror

It was a great game though, as I struggled to recall all of the rules. I was a bit distracted by my wife watching the new Cormoran Strike series in the next room, so probably took longer than normal to get going with it all, but impressively, the whole game only took about 2 hours – including set up and clean up. That’s a definite improvement on the 40 minutes of set up when I cracked open the box recently, I have to say!

The involvement of the Silver Twilight Lodge is very reminiscent of The Circle Undone, of course, and I seem to recall that I had the same result when I initially played that cycle, “winning” and allowing the Lodge to begin their “true work”. When will I learn that making a deal with the devil is not the best course of action?!

Arkham Horror

Still, it was a good game. There’s only one more scenario left from the core set now, and then I have the small expansion, Dead of Night, so I think it might be fun to crack open that box soon, and see what else is in store for me! I’m pretty sure it’s a “more of the same” situation, I think there are new investigators and two new scenarios? So that should keep me going for a while, though I am increasingly tempted by the other expansions, especially as (a) there are only two of them, and (b) the sky-is-falling attitude of the game potentially being dead meaning that supply might not always be there. It’s a great game, after all, and I think this year has shown that it is one that I keep coming back to, so don’t be surprised if I end up with more news on that before long!

Eldritch Horror: Cities in Ruin

Eldritch Horror

Well, after Friday’s post about playing more Eldritch Horror, here I am again! This time with another expansion that has only seen the light of day the once, Cities in Ruin! This one is quite the box, I have to say – there’s a lot going on with it, perhaps more so than we saw with the Hastur expansion last time. Shudde M’ell is of course the arch-Cthonian, so the box is themed around destroying parts of the world as these horrible monsters erupt from the earth. I remember playing the expansion almost four years ago now, and being impressed with how it changes up the game – you start at 15 doom, which feels like a walk in the park because it’s so far out, but there is so much that just advances doom, and when you add in the fact that the Mythos deck and other elements are working to destroy board spaces, things can get pretty wild!

Playing with expansion investigators, I took Roland Banks and Bob Jenkins on an unlikely adventure against the outer evil. Roland hilariously kept getting Debt or Detained conditions, while Bob actually solved all three mysteries pretty much single-handedly. He even managed to defeat the Worldrender epic monster thanks to an artifact that buffed him amazingly. Definitely wasn’t expecting that from the salesman, I have to say!

Eldritch Horror

However, this game did feel pretty easy, somehow. The combination of mysteries drawn obviously works towards that, and I think having some where you just need to have encounters, and some where you have to spend the clues but we’re getting lots of those regardless, all contributed to a pretty quick game – just over an hour, from set-up to finish! It’s all well and good having a quick game, of course, but I do prefer to explore a bit more, and I suppose I could have avoided the Worldrender to draw it out a bit longer, but even so! This is the second game, easily, where I haven’t been to the eastern side of the board at all, which I think is something of a theme for me overall. I was thinking that I would try to interact with the Expedition more on this game, but that didn’t pan out, either!

Eldritch Horror

All that said, I have since found out that I have actually been playing the combat rules wrong – I have basically been playing it as a slugfest between the investigator and the monster, but the rulebook is clear in that you only resolve a single encounter each round. Eek! I think I need to play this game a lot more, and get to grips with this side of things!

The Devastation deck is a nice addition to this expansion, and there is a Prelude card that allows you to use the mechanic without Shudde M’ell as the Ancient One. I think Preludes have been something that I have, in general, been avoiding for a lot of my games, so I should probably look into these more now that I have played through every expansion at least once. They’re a great way to pick-and-choose which elements, like the Devastation deck here, to include in your games, and I think I need to try them out some more.

Eldritch Horror

And that’s exactly what I did, almost immediately afterwards! I went on an adventure using just the core set and the Devastation rules, sending Trish Scarborough and Akachi Onyele up against Yog Sothoth! I thought this was a very interesting game, because I tried to focus on getting my investigators to be the best they could through assets etc, but also keeping an eye on the mission, as Yog Sothoth isn’t the most forgiving of the core set Ancient Ones. It was interesting, though, because even while the doom track ticked down quite a lot, and I think three Disaster cards were drawn, it seemed to have such little impact on the game overall. I mean, I was too busy with the main mysteries to really bother to have encounters with the Devastation deck, and without Shudde M’ell’s specific mysteries requiring those encounters, it became very easy to just ignore that aspect of the game going on.

I would imagine that the prelude cards which bring out the sideboards and all of their associated stuff would lead to a more involved game overall, as there are additional incentives to explore those boards thanks to the gates spawning there and so on, but it was quite interesting to me to see just how little an impact these things can have on the game. That said, I suppose it is slightly hit and miss, because there are Prelude cards that alter the game in more subtle ways, such as that one which adds a fifth asset slot courtesy of the Silver Twilight Lodge. I want to try and use these some more, though, as I see them almost functioning like mini-expansions for the game, somehow. The Masks of Nyarlathotep has some very interesting Prelude cards, such as one that adds spells to the reserve for regular purchase, or the zombie apocalypse-style game, or one of my personal favourites, where if the investigators win, actually they don’t – you advance doom to 0 and awaken the Ancient One regardless! I think every expansion except Forsaken Lore, which came instead with additional cards for the base game, has a selection of Prelude cards to choose from, so it could be fun to explore those more as time goes on.

Eldritch Horror

However, that’s not to forget about the actual expansions themselves, of course. As I’ve been playing more of the Edge of the Earth campaign in Arkham Horror LCG to try and wrap that up, I am thinking I’d like to try out the Mountains of Madness expansion once again! I haven’t played with that box for almost 7 years, so it would be nice to get back to these things!

Eldritch Horror

I talked last time about how I want to try to play more and explore the expansions more, and this is definitely going to continue for me as we go into 2023. I do enjoy the game so much, I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer really. Elder Sign is another Lovecraft game that I hope to get to the table again soon. I have all of those small box Omens expansions, but I think I’ve only actually played Omens of Ice once, and the others are still new. Hopefully they can come to the table soon, and I can see what I’ve been missing all of these years!!

I also think I’m going to aim for more Arkham Horror as well, as that’s another game that I’ve enjoyed, but have barely scratched the surface with really. I have recently picked up the small box expansion for it, Dead of Night, which increases a lot of the content we already have in the base game, so hopefully I’ll be able to play more games there as well. Both of these games are what I like to think of as Saturday afternoon games, where you can sit back with the entire table covered, and just enjoy the experience in an unhurried manner. Nowadays with the kids, of course, that isn’t quite so easy, but I used to really enjoy having game days with a stack of games to play, and at least one “big box game” like this. It’s not about trying to rush through and just get it finished in the short time I have when the girls are napping, but rather I’m trying to enjoy an expansive adventure! So I’m hopeful for more of this in the coming year!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Hey everybody,
Well, November has definitely seen an up-tick in the number of games that I’m playing, after the last few years really seeing that number averaging around 4-5 games per month. So far this month I’ve been able to get quite a few favourites to the table, such as Lord of the Rings LCG and Arkham Horror LCG, as well as a few of the classics like Runebound and Eldritch Horror! I’m very excited about these developments, because they’re games that I enjoy greatly, but which I’ve only been playing sporadically, in the case of Eldritch Horror, of which have been MIA for years, as is the case with Runebound!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Eldritch Horror holds a lot of good memories though, and it was one of the first games that I played with my wife back in the day. It’s something that I used to associate quite closely with Christmas, as I used to enjoy getting in a game either on the big day itself, or else soon after. Many of the expansions came out at that time as well, or I would keep them until I got to my festive play-through. Recently, I got to play it with the Hastur-themed small box expansion Signs of Carcosa, which I have only actually played once, years back when I first featured it here on the blog!

That seems to be another theme of my recent game nights, getting to play with games or expansions that have rarely seen the light of day!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Eldritch Horror, as we know, is a game where the investigators travel the world trying to stop the nefarious schemes of a Great Old One. The Hastur expansion very much gives us more of the same, as do all of the small-box expansions for the game, although the small tweaks that we see in this one can still help to make it feel really interesting. The impairment tokens are back, after first coming to the game in the big box Under the Pyramids, and a lot of the new encounters have skill impairments as a fail condition. There is also the new Blight condition card, which forces us to discard allies when we gain it, reflecting the madness Hastur causes. Interestingly, Hastur as an Ancient One only requires two mysteries to be solved for victory, rather than three, but it can be quite difficult to actually solve these mysteries!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

The first one that I had, The Yellow Sign, was the longest to resolve, as I had to spend sanity and gain a madness condition to claim an eldritch token and place it on the mystery. Needing four tokens, and requiring sanity for all sorts of stuff going on, it seemed to take a while. Unfortunately, I think I was one token away when I drew a mythos card which, by dint of the fact I had already used so much sanity in my investigators, drove both of them insane! I’ve never actually had that happen before, and was a bit worried that it might actually be game over. I had been using Jenny Barnes and Michael McGlen, the gangster and his moll, so they were replaced by Dexter Drake and Wendy Adams, the magician and his… assistant? Hm. Anyway, it’s nice to get to use all four of the new investigators – I don’t think I’d used Wendy before, and by a stroke of luck I was drawing all manner of things that made the little street urchin into a combat monster! Dexter gained all of Jenny’s items after sending her to the asylum, and he was similarly tooled up for greatness. That said, he has the very useful effect of being able to send monsters to another gate, so that came in handy!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Indeed, I don’t remember a game quite like this one for closing gates! Due to Hastur’s reckoning ability that forces sanity loss for each gate on the board, that was another thing to keep in mind as we went about our business! I was trying to use the asset inventory more as well, because I know in previous games I’ve tended to almost ignore that entirely. Often with Eldritch Horror, I find myself coming back to it like this and thinking, “right then, I’m going to try x this time” to get more out of it. I find there’s just so much going on with the game, usually, that some things do get ignored.

At any rate, Dexter and Wendy were able to solve the second mystery, which merely required each investigator to have an ally and a clue, but also to then spend clues to solve. Fortunately, Wendy had been on an expedition and gained quite a lot of clues, so that worked out well for us in the end!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

It’s a cracking game, and even with the built-in timer of the mythos deck and so on, there is still opportunity to explore the board and whatnot. I particularly enjoy the encounters when they allow for you to build up a bit of a narrative in your head, like Wendy gaining the help of a Vatican Missionary while she was in Istanbul. It all makes for some really good storytelling, and is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this game time and again! Unlike something like Runebound, which I enjoy greatly but hadn’t played for eight years, I have been steadily playing Eldritch Horror throughout this time. I suppose in part it is helped by the fact I had two big box expansions that I hadn’t played until recently, but pretty much all of the expansions have had little replays. 

My stats on boardgamegeek tell me that I have played Eldritch Horror 29 times now, but the most-played expansions are Strange Remnants and Forsaken Lore, each of which has been played 4 times. Cities in Ruin and Masks of Nyarlathotep have each only been played once, and it’s just terrible! Across all the expansions for the game (four big boxes, four small boxes) I have played them all 20 times in total. Considering it is such a good game, and considering that I enjoy it so much, you’d think I would have played it more often! I realise that it can take a lot of set-up beforehand, but it doesn’t actually take all that long to play – I think it was around an hour and a half for the most recent game, so it’s not that bad!

Now, I’ve always been quite the stickler for storing my games and expansions rigidly, with all the expansion material kept in its own box so that I can make that kind of conscious decision to include an expansion in my game. However, Signs of Carcosa does feature investigators that were from the core set of Arkham Horror, which has got me thinking about how I keep these kinds of things, going forward. Actually, it was my recent games with A Touch of Evil that first put this idea in my head, but I’m now considering storing some things all-in, and then when it comes to investigators, for example, I can pick one or two from across the whole line. It’s interesting to me because it’s quite the departure, really, but when there is a game with just “more of the same” content, does it really matter if that stuff is already in the base game? Sometimes, if an expansion gives a new feel to things, then you might not want to have all the stuff stored together, but it’s got me thinking. Another reason for storing it all in the same box is the location decks, which are really quite thin in the base game. I know Forsaken Lore did a lot to plump up the card content of the base game, but it might be useful to have some stuff just always there. I don’t know, I can’t quite bring myself to do it for this game yet, but I am very close to taking out the plastic tray from A Touch of Evil and having most of the stuff in the same box there, as the base game for that is quite choc-full of stuff now!

Anyway, that’s quite a tangent, there!! 

I realise that I often say stuff like, I hope I can play more of this soon, and then it goes unplayed for six months or more. However, I am intending to get more Eldritch Horror played as the weeks roll on towards Christmas. While I am sort of in the middle of three different campaigns between Arkham Horror LCG and Lord of the Rings LCG, I’m hoping to draw those to a close soon and then I can focus more on the sort of pick-up games, with board games making more of an appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the early Arkham campaigns, but I think they do kinda tie me into having to play that game when I get some spare time, rather than just playing what I fancy!

Old Games

I seem to be on a definite big game high at the minute, folks! Every so often, I really find myself in the mood for playing one of the big, table-covering games from my collection, and I think as we head towards proper winter, that is just intensifying. After it came back on the radar a few weeks ago, I’ve finally had a game of Runebound (my first since November 2014, as it happens!)

It was an absolute blast, and I was excitedly telling my mate Tony all about it as I was playing. It was like the carefree days of 2011, when I was playing this thing very regularly.

Playing just the base game used to feel like a lacklustre experience, but honestly, it’s been so long that it didn’t bother me in the slightest! I think there is just so much to enjoy in the game that it’s hard to have a bad time playing it. So much of it came flooding back to me, as well, that I was really quite surprised at how quickly I was actually able to play, rather than having to check every little move in the rule book.

I definitely want to return to Terrinoth, and soon, but I think I might do so with some of the small expansion packs involved. It surprised me, really, how big the card stacks were for each adventure colour, but I think it’ll be interesting to add some more variety in there, all the same. I have considered doing this in a sort of chronological sequence, as these packs came out in three “seasons”, almost, with a pair each of adventure decks, market decks, and adventure variants per season. But something as formal as that might be better left for the new year.

Runebound is definitely the sort of game that wouldn’t really see the light of day in the modern gaming age, it seems, but I’m very glad to have it!

At the weekend, I managed to make some time to play another favourite of mine, A Touch of Evil. What’s more, it was expanded with Something Wicked, which is my favourite board game expansion ever, I think – it’s very much more of the same, but it somehow manages to equal and surpass the core set, and I just love it!

I thought it was interesting that playing this one seemed to be really quite easy – almost accidentally, I was able to build up a powerhouse duo that killed off the Unspeakable Horror in a single showdown fight round, only sustaining a single wound in return. Interesting, because it almost felt like a let-down, really. I will freely admit that it’s possible I forgot a couple of rules. But all of the equipment that my heroes had was legal, etc, so I’m not sure how I managed to make a monk and a playwright into supernatural monster-slayers quite so easily!!

I want to play this game more, as well, but I also think I need to spend some time with the rulebook and check that I’m doing everything correctly. Just in case…


At any rate, while it’s lovely to be digging into the collection once more and playing these games, which I’ve not had the chance (or inclination) to look at for a number of years now, I think it’s really interesting that I’m playing these old games once again. The board game hobby seems to be plagued with the Cult of New like nothing else I know, and I constantly see online people who are (quite rightly) proud of a growing collection, who want to add new and different games to their roster etc, and who share shelfies of huge numbers of boxes. Impressive stuff, for sure, but when do you find the time to actually play them?!

There’s something really quite lovely, to me, about having a much smaller collection of games (I don’t count individual card packs as expansions, so by that reckoning my game collection is only around 20 distinct games) that I can actually get to play on a fairly regular rotation. True, some stuff like the Star Wars LCG might be going into storage until I can convince the kids of its greatness, but I like the fact that I am actually able to play these games now, and I can enjoy my collection accordingly!!

I’ve definitely been playing a much wider variety of games this year than in previous years, and I’m enjoying that aspect of things, as well. It’s great to be able to enjoy the collection – feeling like a game of Eldritch Horror, so just set up a game! It’s still difficult to balance around the kids, of course, and the game of A Touch of Evil at the weekend was cut a bit short by nap time ending prematurely, but even so!

My goal for 2023 is to increase my plays, anyway. I think it could be good to try to get at least ten games in each month, so that’ll be something to aim for! Of course, I don’t want to turn anything into a chore, but I’ve already exceeded that number for November, so it’s entirely do-able!!

Lord of the House Rules

This is a post that I’ve been ruminating on for quite a while now. I’m not the sort of gamer who normally goes in for house rules, they always struck me as a bit dirty, somehow! I mean, I like to play games within the confines of the rules that come in the box (or book), and stick to the “official” way to play stuff. I find that this is the way that the game had been designed and balanced, so deviating from this can cause chaos. In terms of 40k, this becomes a fairly difficult undertaking, given just how much there is to track between the FAQs and errata, but with more regular board and card games, such things can be much easier to deal with. I recently printed off the FAQ for Runebound, and the entire game line (five big boxes, twenty-four card packs) is just four pages. Kinda tells you something about game design in the early 2000s, doesn’t it?

FAQs are one thing, but I have forever drawn the line at trying to alter a game myself. Or so I thought. For a very long time, I was playing The Lord of the Rings LCG incorrectly, but some of my accidental alterations to the game, it turns out, are variants adopted by many folks. Indeed, the game is widely agreed to be quite difficult to play, especially considering the game’s theme attracts many narrative or thematic players like myself. So I have begun to do a bit of research into this phenomenon, and I’ve actually been trying out some suggestions from the global community!

One of the official suggestions for learning the game is to leave out shadow cards, something that I was doing for years, but which I would not think to do anymore. Aside from the fact that they’re quite an important part of combat, with a lot of player cards that interact with them, shadow cards are also quite a useful way to thin out the encounter deck – I know it’s all random chance, but I would much prefer to see a hill troll as a shadow card than have to deal with it normally!!

Lord of the Rings LCG

The game also has an easy mode, which removes some of the encounter cards, and also allows heroes to start with two resources instead of one. Now, I recently tried this, and had Steward of Gondor in my opening hand, meaning Boromir was just a powerhouse. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, because while the game is designed and balanced around its actual rule book, the variant is official, and it was just dumb luck. It’s equally possible to play the game as-is, yet draw Light of Valinor in your opening hand, allowing for Glorfindel to become a beast straightaway.

I think I’m a fan of starting with two resources, then!

Taking myself as the only player, even when playing two-handed, and so only revealing one encounter card per turn is, I feel, too easy. On reflection, I avoided a lot of location-lock while questing for around 12 points per turn, meaning it became really quite easy after a while. I did wonder if this was perhaps due to the fact I was playing The Hunt for Gollum, a scenario that I am very familiar with, but in all honesty, I don’t really think so. A lot of the difficulty around this game comes, I think, from how the encounters can snowball right from the off, and it takes the heroes time to build up. Encounter cards on an individual basis are not normally so terrifying, so playing in this way definitely felt a bit like the heroes ganging-up on the encounter set! Not a fan of this.

Lord of the Rings LCG

The next variation is something I’ve seen referred to around the web as “enjoyable mode”, which allows you to pick one card per hero to be in your opening hand. The cards you select must share a sphere with that hero. It sounds good, and in some of the discussions that I’ve seen around the internet, it does make sense: for example, a hero goes on the road prepared for what might come up, so of course they would come with a sword or an axe. Some variants take this further by limiting the cost of that attachment to cards costing 0, 1, or 2 resources. This makes some sense, and I do like the narrative idea behind it. However, in the game that I tried it, I decided that the attachment had to be a physical thing, not a title or whatever, which meant that it seemed to swing quite wildly as to what was useful and what wasn’t. Having Eowyn’s special horse and Celebrian’s Stone meant that I had two heroes questing for 8 between them, which seemed to be too powerful. Not entirely sure on this one yet.

Lord of the Rings LCG

In a similar vein, something I’ve thought about for a while is getting to start the game with a single ally in play, expanding the party and giving you more flexibility in the opening rounds. The reason for this is mainly due to the fact that I have played so many games where I have had a bad start and just couldn’t claw my way back from it. Even when playing Passage Through Mirkwood, the tutorial scenario! I understand that having three heroes allows you to quest, defend, then attack, so in theory you should be able to do everything required in the game from the get-go, but in practice it so rarely works out that way! There is the possibility of getting to start with a powerful ally which has been balanced to not be able to come out until turn 4+ normally, but I think without trying to abuse this, it could give the game just enough of an uplift that it isn’t a kerb-stomp straight off the bat. When I tried it, I specifically picked allies that wouldn’t be a massive benefit, but they had to be unique, named allies. It turned out to be pretty good, I thought, though it does feel a bit dirty to have 4-cost Elfhelm out right at the start, so I’m still debating this one with myself.

Much like the attachment thing, I think it could be a case of limiting this to starting the game with one card per player, rather than one per hero. Or even one card per party? Hm.

There are some very peculiar ideas out there as well. I saw something that suggested discarding multiple copies of the same location, which does kinda make sense for some places, it has always been thematically the case that you have multiple areas of the same place to explore, as some places are vast. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the rules that you can be location-locked with two or three copies of the same card up there taunting you! But I suppose the game isn’t meant to be easy, really.

So far, all of these things have been fairly straightforward things, which don’t really break the main rules of the game. Now, something that I’ve never really liked about the rules is the way enemies attack. Normally in the sequence of things, you need to defend against enemy attacks before you can attack, and this holds true whether you optionally engage that enemy, or if the enemy engaged you because of your threat level. It breaks the theme for me, to a point, where you have an enemy up there in the staging area, you shout a challenge and rush up to engage him, axes or swords swinging, but he can then strike first. As the game grew, there are cards that allow you to bypass the engagement, meaning you can straight up wallop an enemy still in the staging area, and there’s at least one card that allows you to fight before the enemy, but these still annoy me to some extent, because you’re relying on a card spot within your deck to do something that should be a rule.

I’ve read ideas to get around this where defenders, if they survive, can then attack back against the enemy, which isn’t bad really. The possibility to attack first does seem pretty strong, especially if you’re attacking en masse, but the only mitigation that I can think of for this basically makes everyone into Dúnhere – I do like the idea of a single hero being able to attack the enemy first when an optional engagement happens, then the fight is resolved as normal, but it does seem like you’re basically giving every hero Dúnhere’s specific ability. Even tacking-on a resource cost to it doesn’t help, in my mind.

Lord of the Rings LCG

One idea that I had come up with years ago, although I never tried it out, was to have almost a simultaneous fight, where you engage an enemy, declare “fighters”, and then everybody gets to go at it; the enemy damage is spread out as evenly as possible (but prioritises the highest-cost hero), and everyone can then have at the enemy card. It sounds like it would be way overpowered, but in reality, you might only have a couple of combat characters, alongside your couple of questing characters, so some enemies are still going to be difficult to shift, yet will still quite easily see off some allies, and even some heroes!

I never tried it, but now that I’ve come to write it up here, it’s got me thinking…

There are a number of other ideas out there that allow sentinel characters to not exhaust to defend, for instance, or ranged characters able to shoot into the staging area, which is another intriguing twist to things. I think these are principally variants for playing true solo (one deck to rule them all), but it’s an interesting idea that you could perhaps nominate one hero among your fellowship who doesn’t exhaust to do one thing, a bit like Light of Valinor but you could also apply it to defending or attacking in a single combat.

For the time being, though, I’ve settled on trying to have characters who survive an enemy attack as a defender can then deal their damage to an enemy, then the party can attack back as they see fit.

Lord of the Rings LCG

In short, I’d like the game to be not necessarily easier, but I’d just like to stand a chance against it, you know? Far too often, I’ve pulled early cards that have made it impossible to win, and even late game I’ve been sent back to the Stone Age with board wipes and similar. I’ve considered trying to maybe stack the top of the encounter deck so that I’m not starting from even further behind, or having at least one free pass where I just don’t reveal cards for the first quest phase. But all of that feels like it might interfere too much. The game is meant to feel like you’re playing against an actual player, and the purpose of Nightmare Decks was at first to simulate that player tuning their deck in the same way that us players do. However, with the encounter deck “able to play” powerful cards like hill troll on turn one, while us poor souls need to save up at least 3-4 rounds for our powerful cards does mean that we’re starting from behind, all the time.

I do love this game, I really do, but I’d like to be able to play it and enjoy it, not go through all the set-up just to then put my balls in a vice for a couple of minutes, then realise that I’ve lost regardless!

I think I’m going to adopt the 2 starting resources option in all my games going forward, and maybe I’ll sprinkle some other stuff into the game from time to time, as well…

A Touch of Evil

Hey everybody,
I’ve been really enjoying a return to some of the board games lately, almost like it’s some kind of return to my roots or something! I distinctly recall that it was around the autumn time that I really got into this sort of “serious” boardgame lark, starting with Carcassonne and moving swiftly into stuff like Runebound, Arkham Horror, and A Touch of Evil. There’s something that I really enjoy about playing a big, table-spanning board game in the evenings this time of year!

It’s that last that I’ve been playing again recently, after a six year hiatus. I suppose it’s only natural, with Halloween and all! A Touch of Evil is a game that I have talked about many times on the blog already (such as here and here) so I won’t be launching into a massive dissection of the way it plays again. The game is relatively simple, in fairness, and it kinda surprised me how straightforward the gameplay actually is for it. I think, now that I’m steeped in stuff like 40k, it’s a really refreshing change to have a game system where you just roll to move, automatically take actions, and combat is a straight-up slugfest. It really allows a game like this, which is steeped in theme, to shine.

Well before the Shadows of Brimstone kickstarter, Flying Frog used to be really good with their small stable of games, expanding them with regular boxes of great content. A Touch of Evil had two big boxes, two smaller boxes, and two small card packs to increase the content, as well as four web-exclusive villains to fight against. It was terrific, and the gameplay options that each of these brought to the overall experience were just immense.

One of my favourite gaming experiences is to string all three of the game boards together, and have a massive game where you have heroes travelling the length and breadth on an adventure. You can just settle down to a rainy afternoon of colonial horror, and it is often really quite cinematic! Of course, the game does go very long, and you risk diluting the overall experience by getting too much out at once. In that sense, then, having a game with just one of the expansions is usually preferable, and for me it would have to be Something Wicked, because that is one of my all-time favourite boardgame expansions. Dealing with a sinister cult while investigating such areas as the Monastery or the Inn, or maybe travelling to the mysterious island at the heart of Echo Lake… It’s really the stuff of board gaming legend.

Last year, the Tenth Anniversary edition of A Touch of Evil was released, but aside from one or two nice additions, it’s otherwise a blinged-out version of the base game and I think I am overall not impressed. I think the idea to professionally print the web villains was really nice, and the epic villain stuff is an interesting idea as well. Having miniatures for the four corner locations just seems a bit silly though, and plastic tokens don’t really appeal to me either. Plastic busts of the town elders? Hm. I think, if anything, I would have wanted plastic models for the ally tokens in the game. But I digress. The anniversary edition was accompanied by some small card packs for each of the big box expansions, and I’m really intrigued in getting hold of these at some point, maybe when they have a sale. Importing this stuff to the UK can be quite extortionate, and I think I’m looking at around £40 for two 15-card expansion packs. Not really a worthwhile investment at the minute!

The two card packs that I do have are both really quite nice additions, though I haven’t really used them a lot in-game. They sort of work together, in that The Madness is a bunch of cards that can really mess up your plans and cause problems, while The Allies is a nice bunch of useful stuff. Should probably get those to the table more often, now I think about it.

One of the great things about the whole product line is just how much extra stuff that is included in the game. The additional tokens are a bit of a staple for Flying Frog of course, and you’re almost encouraged to make more content for the game around them. I remember doing this a long time ago with some of the tokens from Something Wicked, getting a fairly convoluted mini-game inside the main game through use of the five journal pages tokens:

“More than she knew…”
Setup:
Randomize the Journal Pages tokens and place them in five Random Locations. Try to get as much of a spread as possible across the board(s) – feel free to fluff the card draw for this.

1. When encountering a space with a Journal Pages token, you may pay 6 Investigation to make a Cunning 5+ test. If you roll more successes than failures, you can pick up the Pages.
2. Having either Selina or Delani as allies reduces the Investigation cost to 2. Having Lucy herself as an ally reduces the Investigation cost to 0. The Cunning 5+ test must still be passed, however.
3. If you find Lucy’s Diary in the Windmill, and succeed at the test on that card, any further tests to pick up remaining tokens are reduced to Cunning 4+ tests.
4. During a Showdown, if you have more Journal Pages than any other player, you get to roll 2 extra fight dice during the first round. If you also have the counter with X on the back, you get 3 extra fight dice. If you have all five counters, you go first in the first Showdown round.

Some general points on theme:
1. I don’t think this variant will work with the Lucy Hanbrook hero, unless you take it that she is running around the countryside trying to recover her lost Journal Pages? I don’t like the idea, but don’t let it stop you!
2. I feel that it only works with some Villains, not all. The Unspeakable Horror is my favourite to use this variant with.
3. Selina and Delani are taken to know more about Lucy than the other Heroes, so help with the tests by their presence alone; their attributes don’t count for this purpose. Their ability to reduce the Investigation cost also doesn’t stack – having one or both will do the same thing.

Now, I’m not a game developer, but coming up with rules like this back in the day was a lot of fun, and given that games of A Touch of Evil can go on almost as long as you like means that you usually have the time to go faffing around the countryside on a weird kind of scavenger hunt like this! Of course, there is a lot going on in the game anyway, but I don’t think that adding in random bits and pieces necessarily breaks the game.

It’s overall one of the most immersive games out there, and I do love the fact that I have it in my collection. I just can’t believe it’s been six years since I last played it!

October 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
October has been and gone, and I can’t believe that we’re nearly at the end of the year already. Doesn’t seem like there’s much of 2022 left, so I think I need to get a bit of a move on if I’m going to complete the hobby goals that I had set for myself at the start of the year!

The month started really well, I thought, when I was able to finish off two projects that had been dragging on perhaps longer than intended – the Raider and the Tomb Blades. The Raider was really nice to work on, I have to say, and I have been thinking about getting to work on another one, though for now I’m working on a bunch of other stuff, but I could see myself getting back to the Dark Eldar soon enough!

The Tomb Blades were becoming very annoying, as they are quite difficult to paint when they’re fully-built, but thankfully they’re now done, so I just have the gauss blaster set to paint at some future date, then I’ll have all the Necron jetbikes I could ever want!

In a surprise move, though, I also painted two kill teams during the month, the Death Korps of Krieg and the Traitor Guard!

These models are all just wonderful, and I really enjoyed getting them finished during a week off. I think the success there was in picking fairly easy paint schemes. The objective, after all, was to get models painted so that I could play with them. I still haven’t actually played the game, of course, but it was really nice to actually get them finished!

The rest of the month was spent painting more Sisters – a Dominion Squad, a Palatine, an Imagifier, and the Penitent Engine. I think I have now finished painting the models from the launch box, which came out three years ago, so that’s good going, right?!

My painted Sisters army is now looking pretty impressive, even if I say so myself! I think that by painting it in stages as I have been doing, I’ve managed to do really well – hopefully I can keep chipping away at 5-10 models at a time, and I’ll get it all done in fairly short order!!

Going back to kill team, though, this month has been quite expensive for me as I have once more been buying models. I picked up the big Into the Dark box after going back and forth on it for a number of weeks – I think the desire for the terrain got me, especially when I realised that it can soon be used in regular 40k as well – but the lack of availability of the second space hulk-themed box has somewhat cooled me on that once again. I am very much in love with the Breacher models, I think they look tremendous, and I am looking forward to getting those painted up as well soon enough. I have also been digging into the backlog, and I’m vaguely thinking about getting the Elucidian Starstriders painted soon as well.

However, I also bought the big Ash Wastes box for Necromunda, and have been busy putting all of the new terrain together. We were quite lucky, and had some good weather during that week off that I mentioned, so I have been able to prime it all up as well. While I did initially think that I’d make a bit of a project of it, and try to get the stuff painted too, that has fallen somewhat by the wayside, as I’ve been working on all the other stuff this month. But still, it’s been great to actually get a good amount of stuff built and primed, so that I can then spend the winter working on actually painting it all up!

Necromunda Ash Wastes

It hasn’t all been about the Warhammer, though!

After sharing my #shelfie a couple of weeks back, I’ve really been in the mood for more games, and have been enjoying something of a board game renaissance right now! I’ve really been into Lord of the Rings again, after playing the miniatures game with JP last week, so have been enjoying a return to the card game, getting two new decks built up to tackle some of that once more. I have a Silvan themed deck, and a sort-of Gondor themed deck, although both utilise elements that I’ve not really looked at before. The Gondor deck in particular is using Hobbits for the first time! I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I do like these sort of Fellowship type of decks – having played Dwarves and Rohan so much, I like playing decks where we can see more of the breadth of Middle Earth.

Lord of the Rings

I am becoming a little obsessed with Middle Earth SBG though, so I need to watch myself there – I don’t think I have room in my house for many more models!

Runebound has been looming large in my mind for a couple of weeks now, as well, so I want to try to get that to the table soon. I haven’t played the game in years, so I feel almost like I need to plan it out so that I have enough time to actually devote to it!

It’s definitely good to get back into these other games though, as I do enjoy them a great deal. Hopefully there will be an influx of game posts here on the blog before the end of the year!