Assassinorum Execution Force

Hey everybody!
It’s time for game day here at spalanz.com, and today I’m taking a look at a boardgame from Games Workshop that I’ve had hanging about for roughly two years, but only recently have gotten round to the building of all the minis in there. It’s time to assassinate some Chaos renegades!

Assassinorum Execution Force

Assassinorum Execution Force came out in 2015, and was the first actual boardgame Games Workshop had put out in a number of years. The game comes with a number of repackaged miniatures from the Chaos Space Marines range of Warhammer 40k, and four of the Officio Assassinorum assassin models that, up until fairly recently, couldn’t be found anywhere outside of this box/ebay. The Chaos models are primarily cultists, but also include three push-fit marines, and a Sorcerer Lord. There are obviously some other bits and pieces necessary for the game, all of which can be seen in the video I made back when I first got my hands on this thing:

So the object of the game is for the four assassins to stop an evil ritual the Chaos Sorcerer Lord Drask is trying to complete, by discovering a teleportation room within the Astropathic Sanctum (the main board) to travel to the Temple of Shades and then fight him. There is a 15-turn clock on the execution force, and if this track ever reaches the 16th space, the ritual is completed and the assassins have lost.

Let’s take a look at the game pieces:

Assassinorum Execution Force

The models are pretty old for the Chaos forces, and have some pretty awful mouldlines on them. In the interests of speed, I only properly cleaned the Sorcerer and the three marines, with the cultists just clipped off the sprue and pushed together. The assassins, however, are quite beautiful models, and definitely deserve some attention. I’m thinking I might leave the majority of these minis unpainted, although the assassins do really cry out for a bit of attention, so I might get round to those soon enough…

Assassinorum Execution Force

The board is beautifully illustrated, and shows the dark corridors of the astropathic sanctum that feel quite claustrophobic when you start playing. The thick red lines across the terrain denote walls that really serve to limit line of sight and movement, and it didn’t take long to really get into the theme of the game as you cautiously position the assassins for maximum advantage!

All of the Chaos forces are referred to as Renegades throughout the game, and move along an AI system that is actually quite hilarious at times. All over the board, there are small red arrows that denote how a Renegade will move, several of which have options between 1-6 for which you throw a dice. I think the idea is that no two paths will ever be exactly the same, but it can lead to models almost pacing up and down like some kind of Beefeater sentry, or just meandering around in a circular path. There are some great rules that determine how and when the Renegades notice the assassins, however, and while they can seem a bit fiddly at first (there are three pages in the rulebook devoted to this, including illustrations and flowcharts), it actually becomes quite straightforward over the course of the game and, while I might not call it intuitive, it’s nevertheless easy enough to deal with.

Assassinorum Execution Force

So the mission is kinda split into two sections: find the teleportation chamber within the astropathic sanctum, then teleport to the Temple of Shades for the showdown with Lord Drask. There are a number of sections across the board that have a light shading to them: these denote empty rooms that are placed from a Room deck onto the board whenever an assassin has line of sight to the space. A Chaos star on the room (like that one above) instructs you to place a cultist on there, though that cultist cannot act this turn. To counteract the random element of placing rooms that may be the teleportation chamber within the first turn or two, you actually draw a number of tiles indicated on the board, and pick the lowest-numbered tile (such as tile 2 in the above photo). While the teleportarium itself is tile 5, you need to spend a turn to activate it, which is done through tile 11, the control bank. So out of 12 tiles in total, it’s going to be a while before you can actually move to the Temple of Shades. Nice!

Assassinorum Execution Force

While you move around the board, you’ll inevitably end up fighting the Renegades. The combat system is actually really straightforward, and I was surprised there wasn’t much more to it. If you have line of sight and are within 6 squares of a Renegade, then you can shoot using whatever weapon is listed on your assassin’s card – in the Eversor’s case, he has his Executioner Pistol, which rolls two dice (the red blobs). The highest result is chosen from the dice rolls, and compared with the target’s Resilience. If the hit equals or exceeds the Resilience value, then that target takes a wound. If he has wounds equal or in excess of his Stamina, then he is killed. So in the above example, the Eversor has rolled a 4, which equals the cultist’s Stamina, so the cultist is removed as a casualty.

Assassins have a range of five actions they can take, but can only perform two on each activation. However, each also has special rules on the reverse of their card that can allow them to take extra actions, or perform the same action twice.

Once all four assassins have activated, it’s the Chaos phase. During this phase, the familiar miniature moves one space on the Temple board (that ritual track mentioned earlier), then a number of Event cards are drawn equal to 1 plus however many cultists are On Alert (more shortly), up to a maximum of four cards. These cards range across a variety of awful things, from global buffs to the Renegades, to deploying more Renegades such as the Chaos Space Marines!

The Renegades all then move along their pre-allotted paths determined by the board as mentioned earlier. All Renegades are generally said to be On Patrol, but if a model was just placed on the board as the result of a room being revealed in the previous assassins phase, he won’t activate until the next round. Any Renegades that have seen an assassin within their line of sight will go On Alert, as will any who were within 6 squares of an attack by an assassin in the previous phase. These Renegades will move towards the nearest assassin, and either shoot or fight it as necessary. All assassins only have two hit points before they’re out, though all can attempt to heal in the next turn (and the Eversor can ignore wounds on a 5+ anyway).

Assassinorum Execution Force

The game progresses back and forth like this while the assassins search for the control bank, then move to the teleportarium and swoop in to attack Lord Drask at his dastardly ritual. Lord Drask is a 3HP model, with some pretty horrible attacks. However, in my introductory game I managed to defeat him by the Culexus assassin getting a hit thanks to the animus speculum, then the Vindicare assassin using his deadshot ability to score two hits at +2 to the dice roll if he hasn’t moved this turn. Pretty decent, in the end! However, the Callidus assassin was offered up as a sacrifice in order to ensure the sorcerer lord didn’t target the Vindicare, beating the poor shapeshifting assassin with his force stave.

Operation Deathblow was a success!

Assassinorum Execution Force

This was a really enjoyable game, with a pretty straightforward AI for the Chaos Renegades, and a lot of tactical depth for how to deploy the assassins each turn. It didn’t take long to learn, so I wasn’t glued to the rulebook for the entire game, though some things did obviously require reference when they cropped up.

Each of the assassins also has a pair of Talents, which can be used by spending tokens throughout the game. I found myself hording these for the most part, and only expending them during the final battle, however they do seem to be quite useful, such as the Culexus’ psyk-out grenade that can stun the Renegades but actually wound the sorcerer, or the Eversor’s frenzon that allows him to perform an extra action as mentioned. I might try again soon with using these a bit more often to see how effective they can be throughout the game.

While replayability is often an issue with a variety of games, Assassinorum: Execution Force has a sort of built-in mechanism to entice players to once more go up against the sorcerer lord, through the Achievements on the last page. I mentioned Operation Deathblow above; this is the first in a group of ten achievements that rewards you for just completing the game. Other achievements include using only a single assassin all game, or only a single assassin for the final battle, or leaving no models alive on the astropathic sanctum board. GW has also published twelve more achievements, such as limiting your assassins to 1HP, or each assassin only being able to heal once for the whole game. (Without knowing it, then, I also managed to achieve the “Right Between the Eyes” achievement in my first playthrough, having the Vindicare use his deadshot ability to finally kill Lord Drask!).

Tired of playing against the sorcerer lord? How about trying out the game against Lord Drask once he has ascended as a Demon Prince?! These rules give Drask an extra HP, and allow him to shoot any assassin within the Temple of Shades with his Warp Gaze, regardless of walls!

Further, the new-look September 2016 White Dwarf also provided rules for all four of the Chaos Demons types to replace the cultists. These rules are actually really nice, and it’s a shame that, to date, they haven’t been made available online. Demons don’t have any ranged weapons, so only fight the assassins when they are adjacent to them, but they can be quite deadly in doing so! When it comes time to confront Lord Drask in the Temple of Shades, these demons are upgraded to one of either a Champion, Standard Bearer or Hornblower, which gives them area-affect powers or additional HP. As if that weren’t enough, this issue of White Dwarf also featured nine further achievements that work specifically with the demon rules.

Assassinorum: Execution Force is a real blast to play, and while it has now disappeared from the webstore, I still nurture some hope that we might get some rules for protagonists other than the assassins to go up against the denizens of Chaos. Though I guess that might be covered by Overkill…

Kickstarter Burnout?

Last week, I read this really insightful article on the place of Kickstarter games in today’s gaming culture, and was inspired to take a look at my own experiences and opinions on the pre-order system for today’s game day blog.

Now, I’m not exactly a kickstarter expert, although I have backed a modest number of such things over the years. A quick look at my boardgamegeek collection shows a total of 5:
Fallen
Ghostbusters
Journey: Wrath of Demons
Lagoon
Shadows of Brimstone

Along with 4 previously owned:
Blood Rage
Draco Magi
Nova Cry
Red Dragon Inn 4
(Additionally, I’ve bought games like Thunderbirds and Xenoshyft: Onslaught after the kickstarter backing period, though both of these games have since been sold on).

I’ve talked about quite a few of these games on my blog over the years, as it happens, and I’m still intending to feature Shadows of Brimstone at some point in the not-too-distant future (maybe when I eventually get everything that I paid for…) Looking at this list, however, after reading the article from The Opinionated Gamers, has made me think about my history with Kickstarter in general, from the heady days of 2013 when I was chomping at the bit for games like Fallen and Shadows of Brimstone. In particular, it’s made me consider how I feel about the system these days.

My brief history
So I actually used Kickstarter originally to support Christopher West, who made a lot of the maps for the Star Wars Miniatures game. I think I bought four of his map packs in total, and they were really nice, solid products that I was happy to include within my game collection. At the time, I wasn’t playing a massive amount of board games, having recently split up from my ex (who had initially introduced me to tabletop games like Carcassonne). I bought the maps, used them a couple of times, then slowly moved away from SWM anyway.

Then, somehow, I discovered Slugfest Games were making a fourth Red Dragon Inn game via Kickstarter, and so returned to the site to check it out. I think I managed to get in at the very end of the campaign, but still got all of the nice exclusive drinks and stuff. Score one for me!

It was RDI4 that seemed to set me off the rails, though, as I would browse KS for other tabletop games similar to those old stalwarts of my collection such as Runebound, and it was with no small measure of excitement that I discovered Fallen. There are a lot of issues with the company here, which I won’t get into now, but Fallen itself is actually a really good game. It has beautiful art, and plays fairly straightforwardly, though is really quite the immersive experience. Definitely a good card game.

Fallen

Over the months, I backed a series of other, progressively bigger games, including the behemoth that is Shadows of Brimstone. I’ve talked about this game extensively on my blog already, though still haven’t managed to do an actual game day blog on it. At any rate, you may already know that I dropped thousands of dollars on the game (I’m actually in it!) and yet, once the core games were delivered, I was distinctly underwhelmed. With the arrival of games like Blood Rage and Journey, I began to re-evaluate my relationship with Kickstarter and, while both these games have incredibly impressive miniatures, I found that there was a distinct lack of something to these games.

The Problem (I think)
The Opinionated Gamers talk about “the chrome” of these games, and the allure of the shiny, and I think this is a very valid point in this situation. A lot of successful games on Kickstarter have a lot of shiny parts. Be it the glossy fantasy art that graces the cards of Fallen, or the intricately sculpted miniatures in Journey, these games have gone all-in on their style. But how is the substance? Is it even there? Shadows of Brimstone uses a fairly simple game engine that Flying Frog Productions have used in pretty much all of their previous games, yet it has elements added on to make it slightly cumbersome. This is a bit of an exception, because by and large you know what you’re getting from FFP. Other games do feel a little bit hit and miss, and I think this could well be due to the home grown nature of Kickstarter games.

Journey Wrath of Demons

Take Journey: Wrath of Demons, for example. This is a co-op game where players have the option during combat of cleansing the soul of their demon opponent. It sounds like a really neat concept, and from what I remember of the couple of games I’ve played, it was quite interesting, but otherwise the game is the standard dungeon-crawl-style of game with an Oriental setting. Xenoshyft: Onslaught is a deck-building game where you buy cards and they go directly into your hand; otherwise, the game plays pretty much like Thunderstone. These games feel a bit like the designers came up with a cool idea during a game of something else, and decided to implement it on their own. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it does often feel like, once you’re past that shiny new mechanic, there isn’t really a great deal of substance underneath the game – certainly not enough to compete with those games from established publishers.

The Opinionated Gamers article also mentions playtesting as being more rigorous with established companies, though many Kickstarter games have the promise of “years of development and testing” and the like, and not just those from companies like FFP or CMoN. Being an optimist, I’m inclined to believe them, and I don’t think I’ve yet played a game that doesn’t feel playtested.

Of course, new companies using Kickstarter are – in my experience – more concerned with showing off their beautiful components for their games, and I think this is the major problem with a lot of these games, that they’re all about style over substance. Journey does look beautiful, down to its anatomically-correct bull miniatures, but the gameplay hasn’t been good enough to draw me into playing it any more since September 2015. I haven’t touched Shadows of Brimstone in two years, save to move the box into my closet. Once I’ve seen all of the shiny new stuff, I’m actually quite apathetic towards these games – largely because there isn’t much actual game there.

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

Cryptozoic’s Ghostbusters game was actually pretty decent, with some flavourful mechanics that did actually engage me enough to play a campaign with it, and while I’ve hardly been playing it every weekend, that’s probably more to a shift in my gaming life recently towards fewer large-scale games. Of all of the Kickstarter games that I have, Ghostbusters is probably the only one I find myself wanting to play more of. Though I freely admit that’s probably as much down to my nostalgia for the franchise.

Nowadays
These days, I avoid Kickstarter like the plague. I usually blame my burnout on Shadows of Brimstone, the game that I spent over $2300 on, as the parts that I have so far received, three and a half years after the campaign ended, were distinctly sub-standard. Tony, my regular gaming buddy and the chap who often encouraged my Kickstarter excesses, has completely embraced it and, together with his partner Lee, has backed dozens of projects in recent years. All of these games tend to be miniatures-heavy, though all of them tend to be consigned to the bottom of his pile of games, in favour of stuff like Last Night on Earth and Lords of Waterdeep.

This seems to be the problem with KS games for me. They look amazing, but looks aren’t everything, and I doubt anybody would want to play a dull-as-hell game just because it looks so pretty. There needs to be more than just awesome models to keep you wanting to play it, and even if you feel you need to keep playing it to get your money’s worth (like me and Shadows of Brimstone, for a while!) it’s eventually going to wear on you.

At the top of this post, I mentioned that I previously owned 4 games that I had backed via Kickstarter, and have bought more at retail that I’ve since sold on as well. In addition to this, I’m actually considering off-loading Journey, though I’ll admit that I want to try it again before I do. I think this attitude towards these games does say a lot for my current view, at any rate. There just isn’t enough substance to a lot of these things to make me want to keep them, despite the amount of money I spent in backing them.

I did back the second Ghostbusters game Cryptozoic put out last year, and am cautiously awaiting its delivery, but right now, I think I’m done with Kickstarter. I think I’m just not that interested in pledging my support for a game that is essentially something I already have, just with a couple of minor tweaks and a re-skin. I think I have enough games already, and I’m not really keen on adding more, even if they do come with a myriad of associated micro-expansion “KS Exclusive!” miniatures…

So much change!

Hey everybody!
It’s another week of Change over at Games Workshop, as we enter the third week of Tzeentch releases for Age of Sigmar! After the human cultists and the beastmen, we’re now in the realm of the daemons, including the previously previewed Lord of Change / Kairos Fateweaver.

Tzeentch Kairos Fateweaver

This week’s releases, while exciting, are predominantly re-packs, however. From what I can tell, we have the new Lord of Change, and the Blue/Brimstone Horrors that we’ve previously seen in Silver Tower, but the rest of the range is the pre-existing stuff from back in the day, such as Flamers, Screamers, and Pink Horrors. Bit of a shame that those two “new” Pink Horrors from the boxed game haven’t made an appearance, but I guess they have to keep something in these boxes to prompt folks to buy them! While I might sound a bit down on the release, I do actually like the fact that they’re slowly getting round to re-packing all of their minis in the new stuff, so we have a more consistent look and all the rest of it.

There’s also a new Start Collecting box for Tzeentch daemons, which is good to see! I’ve been toying with the idea of getting more bits to flesh out my Silver Tower enemies for a while, so it would be a good way to do that!

Stormcast Eternals Lord Aquilor

It looks like this is the end of Tzaanuary now, however, with February once more bringing new Stormcast Eternals to the Mortal Realms. I mentioned these the other day, the so-called Rangers of the Stormcast forces, and we’re seeing some more of these guys now, with another Lord Celestant type miniature, the Lord Aquilor (above). Gryph-hounds have always struck me as a bit silly, and I’ve previously used High Elf lions to replace them with my Lord Castellant, but with this new batch of releases… I don’t know. It looks to be a bigger release than last year’s Extremis Chamber, which only gave us the dracoth riders and the stardrake of course, but so many silly animals have left me feeling a bit disappointed, overall.

Unless I can somehow build that Lord Aquilor to look like he’s riding a Tauntaun. That might do the trick…

Reinforcements! #Warhammer40k #DarkEldar #GangsOfCommorragh #awesome

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I’ve picked up the new Gangs of Commorragh boardgame, and I’m very excited for more Dark Eldar, so expect a first look at that bad boy on this Tuesday’s game day blog!

I must admit, I’ve been really slow with painting stuff so far this year, and the purchases in the above instagram picture are kinda unnecessary really – I still have the first Venom only partly painted, after all! I think moving from weekly to monthly painting update blogs may have been a bad move, but keep your eyes peeled for the January update in the next few days, where I’ll talk about this more. While I may have been slow in getting anywhere with painting them, however, I am still very much enjoying the Dark Eldar miniatures!


Age of Sigmar isn’t the only thing to experience Change at the minute, anyway. I’d like to get a little more philosophical for a moment, as I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of late, as is often the case at the start of a year. In 2017, I’m going to be moving house, and while I’m currently renting the flat I’m in, I’ve decided to actually buy myself a house and move away from where I am currently. Naturally, then, I’ve been looking to downsize a lot of the stuff that I’ve managed to accumulate in the time that I’ve been here, to say nothing of what I’d accumulated prior to that! One of the biggest cuts, therefore, is the boardgames that I’ve amassed.

I’ve been slimming down the collection for a while now, and games that have previously featured here on my game day blogs have since been sold on ebay – who knows, you may be reading this having bought one of them! But while I’ve been doing so fairly infrequently up to this point, I think it’s time to really trim the fat now. While I have no intention of cutting back on game day blogs, as it’s one of my favourite aspects of my blog, I suppose it’s entirely possible that there may be a narrowing of focus as my collection shrinks. After all, pretty much every game day blog features a game that I personally own and have played. I think I might try and do more session report type blogs, though, rather than merely churning out review type blogs all the time, and see if I can mix things up a bit! I’d also like to do more news-y type game day blogs, which I did try towards the back end of last year, but haven’t really done that many since.

At any rate, if you’re a regular reader of this here blog – first of all, thank you very much! But let me know if you have any views on these thoughts, as I’m still very much in the sort of planning stages of everything!

For now, at least, the first look at Gangs of Commorragh will be coming up this week, so it’s not about to change overnight!

Signs of Carcosa

Hey everybody!
It’s the first game day of 2017! I’m hoping to have lots of awesome games on the blog over the next 52 weeks, and I think I’m starting with an absolute cracker! As per my Christmastime tradition now, I’ve been playing Eldritch Horror with the new expansion, though in this case, “new” is kinda pushing it a little. With no new big box expansion for the game until later this month, I’d been saving the smaller box, Signs of Carcosa, until the festive period – no mean feat, considering the game was released in June!

Eldritch Horror Signs of Carcosa

So, Signs of Carcosa is a small-box expansion that follows in the manner of Strange Remnants in that it includes new investigators as well as a new Ancient One, and a glut of new cards to support that ancient enemy. Signs of Carcosa is particularly exciting for me, because we have four investigators from the Arkham Horror base game, which is always something of an event in these circumstances – they’re investigators who have been a part of this mythos for so long now, after all!

Eldritch Horror Signs of Carcosa

Hastur is the big bad guy from this expansion, and while his subtitle there might be “the unspeakable one”, this is very much a King In Yellow-themed expansion, similar to The Yellow Sign expansion for Arkham Horror. Naturally, there isn’t a lot of focus thrown specifically on the play from RW Chambers’ short story collection, but its presence does loom large in many of the game pieces. Encounters in the various board locations focus on artists and seeing the Yellow Sign, etc, while all of the Other World encounters are focused on Lost Carcosa.

Much like Strange Remnants brought back the focus mechanic from Mountains of Madness, Signs of Carcosa brings back the impairments mechanic from Under the Pyramids, which has a lot of focus placed on it through Hastur’s ability, along with a lot of the fail conditions on the encounter cards.

Hastur is one of the more difficult of the ancient ones to defeat in other games such as Arkham Horror and Elder Sign, but his incarnation here seems at first glance to be much more simple – you only need to solve two mysteries to win! However, these mysteries have a reliance on spending clues, and there are a lot of Mythos cards that will force you to discard your clues, which makes solving even two of Hastur’s mysteries a lot more difficult than it perhaps might seem! I actually managed to win the match against him, but it was a close-run thing, and the eventual win was actually highly luck-dependent, as I’d had an Other World encounter that gave me the clues I needed to go on to solve the mystery. One of my investigators had already gone insane, and I was keeping another pretty much permanently in London in an effort to spawn more clues before they kept getting discarded!

Eldritch Horror Signs of Carcosa

We also get the now-usual batch of new assets and artifacts (mostly King in Yellow-themed, of course!), new spells and unique assets, and Hastur gets three sets of special encounters. Considering you only need to solve two mysteries to win, he comes with a total of eight – a nice touch for replayability! The new Prelude cards offer some interesting set-up options, including doling out copies of the new Promise of Power condition card, one that allows the influence of The King in Yellow to be felt even if Hastur isn’t the ancient one, and another that brings the Order of the Silver Twilight to the game through a fifth reserve slot. I really like the Order, and for years had tried to make a Silver Twilight deck work in Call of Cthulhu, so it’s always fun when they show up. Part of me hopes we’ll get something of a full-on expansion with them in or something, but I also like the way they insinuate themselves into other expansions.

All in all, this was a fun box. Didn’t feel quite as exciting as Strange Remnants, which has a lot of stuff going on of course, but anything that adds so integral an ancient one as Hastur to the game has got to be close to the top of anybody’s wish list!

 

Omens of Ice

Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day here at spalanz.com, and this week I’m taking a look at the latest expansion for Elder Sign: Omens of Ice! (This blog was originally slated to come out in Halloween week, where it would have made more thematic sense…)

Elder Sign: Omens of Ice

Elder Sign is one of my favourite games to break out for an evening of cosmic horror and dice rolling. The Gates of Arkham expansion from early 2015 introduced a new mode of play for the game, where we left the museum behind and ventured into the various neighbourhoods of the town. Omens of Ice is an expansion in the very same mould, as we venture into the Alaskan wilderness, following the mysterious goings-on in the wake of the discovery of a statue of Ithaqua…

Elder Sign: Omens of Ice

I love the snow theme in pretty much any game (The Frozen Wastes for Runebound being a prime example of this!) and was truly enraptured by the Mountains of Madness expansion for Eldritch Horror for the amount of theme that comes through in the gameplay there. Omens of Ice feels very similar to these games, as you need to ration your supplies as you face the biting cold.

Omens of Ice features a staged encounter deck, where the cards you encounter in stage one vary between the green (easy) and yellow (normal) difficulty, while stage two are only the yellow and red (hard) cards. I really like this because it allows the designers to make the game feel like you’re trudging into the wilderness, and passing into stage two actually means something. It really echoes the source material such as Algernon Blackwood’s The Wendigo, where the earlier part of the story feels ‘safe’ while the later parts in the wilderness are most assuredly not!

Elder Sign: Omens of Ice

The Expedition Camp card replaces the Museum Entry card, and acts like that card in every way. The Track card tracks both your supplies (based on the time of year) and the length of your adventure. Supplies are a new commodity that have an impact on the game that can, for instance, affect the stamina of your investigators if you don’t have any. The day track is linked to the clock, unsurprisingly, and advances whenever the clock strikes midnight. If the track reaches the end during Summer, you just add two doom tokens to the Ancient One track and move back to the Day 7 space; in Winter, however, if you take too long on your investigation, you’ll lose the game!

The day track also governs the Storm mechanic. Storm tokens act like penalties on encounter cards, and are placed on encounters through various effects, such as on the Ancient One track or through failing to complete an encounter, as well as through the day track. Some of them are blank, but some of them will cause you to lose health or supplies, etc. Some of them are blank, however, merely clouds threatening on the horizon rather than an actual threat for you to deal with!

Elder Sign: Omens of Ice

There is also a new deck of Alaskan Mythos Cards that features some horrible new effects to reflect the biting winter conditions.

Elder Sign: Omens of Ice

The new investigators are a mixed bag already in the Arkham Horror universe, while the Ancient Ones feature the iconic Ithaqua himself, naturally! The item and spell cards are the usual mix of giving your investigators bonus dice – including two items that each allow you to take the red or yellow die even if it is locked. Not sure how game-breaking that could be, as while it is a pain when you have a bunch of stuff you can’t use because the die is locked, it’s still a fundamental aspect of the struggle in this game. I haven’t yet had the specific situation come up to see how game-changing it could be, but the thought is there…

Elder Sign: Omens of Ice

Overall, I really like this expansion a lot. It’s difficult, don’t get me wrong – I haven’t actually managed to win a game yet, with the timed mechanic from the day tracker causing me a lot of problems – but it’s also super-thematic, which is something that I really enjoy about FFG’s Lovecraftian games. While I wouldn’t call the Call of Cthulhu LCG a misstep, I do feel that the co-operative struggle against the Ancient Ones is a much better way to implement mythos games, and was really pleased to see that avenue for the upcoming Arkham Horror LCG.

EDIT: Since writing this blog, FFG have announced a fourth expansion to Elder Sign, Omens of the Deep, again using the Gates of Arkham mode for gameplay. Looks like this is now the set manner for the game, and I can’t wait for both it and further ‘Omens of’ expansions to come out. Maybe Omens of the Sands for an Under the Pyramids-style expansion? We’ll have to wait and see!

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!

The Dreamlands!!

Well stop the panic about no new big-box expansion for Eldritch Horror on the horizon, because FFG have now previewed the upcoming Dreamlands expansion and it looks like it should be amazing!! I’m trying not to do too many game day blogs that merely look forward to upcoming stuff, but I’ve had this one on my mind all weekend, so need to talk about it!

Eldritch Horror The Dreamlands

This expansion brings us an Other World on the sideboard for the first time ever in an Arkham Files board game. At the start of the game, you place portals through which you can access the Dreamlands board, which is a fantastic way of mixing up the way in which you move between the boards. I really like this idea, not least it’s because it’s really quite thematic. All of the Arkham Horror boards, and both of those for Eldritch Horror thus far, have had the same mechanic: go somewhere, and access a new board. This idea of moving around like this just really appeals to me, and is the main focus for me wanting to write this short, excited blog now!

It is, of course, early days, but I’m wondering what kind of secondary mechanics we’ll be seeing in this box. Mountains of Madness introduced us to the Focus mechanic, and Under the Pyramids allowed us to decrease our skills as well as increase them. So I’m assuming we’ll see something more, but I guess it’ll remain to be seen…

At any rate, I’m really looking forward to getting this box. I find it really interesting that we’re now seeing Other Worlds on expansion boards, which really opens the door for all kinds of different expansion experiences, and the way we get there sounds super cool. I still hope we get to see something like a more expanded Europe, and an enlarged New England showing the traditional Arkham/Dunwich/Innsmouth/Kingsport locations, however!

Can’t wait!