New Stuff Saturday

It’s time to look at some new stuff!

I’ve not really had much time lately to be checking out the new offerings in the board game world, having been trying to find a house. Having now bought a house, I’ve probably not got the money to go investigating some of these new offerings as much as I’d like, either! But I thought I’d just take a brief look at some of the things that are being advertised and see what’s going on.

First up, there’s a new expansion for Ascension out, Gift of the Elements. Featuring all manner of weird and wonderful new (and returning) mechanics, it looks like this one changes up the game in a few interesting ways. Back when I wrote up my game day blog on this game, I mentioned that I played this one primarily on the app; currently a lot of the new expansions haven’t been made available for Android, but hopefully this will change soon enough!

Blimey, Carcassonne is really branching out now! It’s been ages since I last had a game with the classic tile-laying game, and it seems like all manner of things have been happening since then! Under the Big Top seems like it could be one of those fun expansions that infuriates the hard-liners, those who used to denigrate things like the Catapult and Wheel of Fortune. Personally, I think people should be allowed to have their own fun, and nobody is going to force you to play with this, though I won’t be rushing to add it to my collection. I think, for me, Carcassonne has become something of a nostalgia game, where I’m happy to remain at the point where I last enjoyed playing it, when Abbey & Mayor was a new thing.

This new Genesys RPG system is being pushed kinda hard by Fantasy Flight, don’t you think? It certainly seems like an interesting idea, though I’m getting tired of seeing it popping up on social media as a sponsored ad every so often!

Coming out towards the end of the year, the core rulebook features essentially a blank canvas for you to paint your games on. It’s built around the narrative dice system that is used by RPGs like Warhammer Fantasy and Star Wars, where you roll dice that don’t just tell you if you pass or fail a check, but rather how well you pass/badly you fail, and if there are complications. It’s a really great system, as it happens, so porting that over to a more de-restricted game like this is a great idea. The book comes with frameworks for five different setting types, from sci-fi to steampunk, so sounds like it could be a great way to start something new!

While we’re on the subject of RPGs, though…

The Call of Cthulhu RPG is something that I’ve quite liked the idea of getting into for a while now, but have never quite managed to pull the trigger. However, seeing this pop up as a new release has got me wanting to investigate more of what it has to offer! I enjoy a wide variety of Cthulhu games, primarily from Fantasy Flight, and this Two-Headed Serpent adventure sounds like a lot of fun akin to the globe-trotting Eldritch Horror! Though, I must admit, my first thoughts on seeing the artwork on the cover were of Fortune & Glory.

I don’t have a playgroup that could support RPGs anymore, though, so it’s probably something that will languish. I’m a bit gutted that I missed Free RPG Day a couple of weeks ago, as I could perhaps have sampled the waters at my local store! Ah well!

Catching Up with FFG

Hey everybody,

It’s been an interesting few weeks for games fans, and while I haven’t been all that regular with keeping up to date myself, I thought today was high-time that changed. So let’s take a look at what FFG have been up to the past few weeks…

Android Netrunner has seen the next two packs in the Mumbad Cycle previewed: Business First and Democracy and Dogma. I was really excited for this cycle back when it was first mentioned in the summer,  and it looks like it’s really shaping up to be something very, very cool. While I’m not usually a fan of the Criminal faction, the new runner, Nero Seven, looks like he might have a very nice synergy with the new cards that could well be worth investigating. It’s really nice to see the theme coming from these packs, I have to say. Makes me wonder if they’ll be publishing any new novels set in the dystopian future anytime soon…

I love some of the new cards being previewed in the new Endor cycle for the Star Wars LCG, and the recent The Forest Moon article has shown another card I’m going to definitely make room for in my Jedi deck – Outwit. It changes the priority in which Fate cards are resolved in the edge battle, then you draw a card – always good to have cards that let you do stuff then replace themselves in your hand. The new Fate card for the cycle, Battle for Endor, is also worth mentioning as (hopefully) seeing a lot of Ewok/Endor-based stuff going on, which should just be funny. I’ve not played with the Rebel faction nearly as much as I perhaps should have, but the new objective set previewed in the article has got me wanting to try them out, so that’s interesting… While I’m not a tournament player, rumours of a potential event at my local store have got me wanting to get into it, just to get to play the game some more…

X Wing Force Awakens

On the subject of Star Wars, this massive piece of news took up most of last week as FFG announced the new iteration of their X-Wing core set, to coincide with the new film coming out now on December 17 here in the UK. This isn’t any kind of revised edition, it’s important to note that: what we have here are two TIE fighters and an X-Wing that have been painted to look like the new ships in the new film, alongside the requisite new pilot cards and upgrades. So there’s a lot of new art, but the rules are the same. So you can basically field the new ships alongside your old, which is really useful to existing fans of the game. I assume there will be new versions of old friends like Luke and Han down the road, to recognise the change from the classic trilogy to the new, but it looks like the fundamentals of the game remain unchanged. Which I suppose is nice, but I’m still currently on the fence about getting this when it sees its wider release later in the month.

Warhammer Conquest is really looking great with the new Planetfall Cycle, especially with the new preview of the fifth pack, Wrath of the Crusaders. We’re getting the Black Templars in the Space Marine faction, which is pretty exciting stuff, with some great synergy around the warlord and his signature squad. Looks like there should be some amazing stuff going on in that faction once this pack hits, so I’m really looking forward to that! We should be getting the new Tyranid expansion soon, as well, so that’s yet more awesome to look forward to!

Legend of the Five Rings

Most of this post has been about the excitement coming in FFG’s LCGs, but I’ve saved perhaps the most exciting piece of news until last. We’re getting a new one! Legend of the Five Rings is one of the powerhouses of CCGs, with a strong Oriental theme and immersive mechanics borne of a long history of publishing. I’ve only actually played the game once, and while you can never really judge a game from your first play, I do recall it being a fantastic experience, and have been keen to try it out again since. Well, FFG will be publishing it as a LCG from summer 2017, so less than two years until we can see the newly-imagined game. I find it interesting that they’re being quite up-front about making mechanical changes to the game: ordinarily, whenever a beloved IP like this passes between publishers, the new one will make a lot of noise about preserving what the game is, but FFG are basically saying, “we’ve got it now, and we’re gonna be making changes, so get ready”. It’s quite a nice change, I feel, and whether I’m only thinking this from my very brief history with the game, but I feel it’s actually quite exciting to see just what they’re going to make of it.

Part of me is wondering whether this means the death-knell for Call of Cthulhu, however. Since the announcement of A Game of Thrones, second edition, Call of Cthulhu has become the oldest LCG currently in print. It was the first to move to a deluxe-only expansion distribution model, where we’ve seen faction-based boxes and theme-based boxes now merged into one, and with The Mark of Madness, all seven factions will have seen their own dedicated deluxe expansion (though whether the Order of the Silver Twilight will need a second deluxe is debatable, as their box came to introduce the faction in the first instance). Will the tenth box be the final one? It’s due very soon (though is curiously absent from the upcoming page), so I expect the “it’s here!” announcement will tell us more.

No matter which LCG you prefer, interesting times are ahead, I’m sure!

Weekend away, and other bits

Hey everybody!
I’m recently back from a weekend spent in the south of England, which was quite simply splendid! I went to Oxford for a long weekend, somewhere I haven’t been for years now, but it’s one of my all-time favourite places to be, so I was looking forward to that quite a lot! In the event, while I spent most of Sunday there, I don’t feel like I got to see enough of the place, having spent most of my time at the Ashmolean Museum, but even so, it’s a wonderful place, and I’m hoping that I can go back very soon!

I also went to Winchester, which has been on my to-do list for years now, but unfortunately was caught in the torrential rain on Monday, so didn’t hang around half as long as I should have. I managed to see the cathedral, and the statue of Alfred the Great, but sadly that was that! Thoroughly soaked, I abandoned the trip for another time – hopefully July!

I’d hoped to fit in so much while I was down there, but was sadly rained off. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being back there. Winchester looks like a lovely place, and Oxford is almost a spiritual home for me, so I’ll be planning that return soon, anyway!

While I was there, I also finished reading Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, which I actually posted about yesterday. It’s a tremendous book, and following my Heir to the Jedi excitement of last month, I feel on something of a Luke kick. Perhaps surprisingly, there aren’t that many stories that really showcase him, though, so I’ve resumed by reading with Darksaber, which will feature here soon, no doubt!

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t really been playing many games lately. In fact, I haven’t done so at all this month! Perhaps explaining the somewhat rushed game day blog yesterday. I’ve arranged for another game of X-Wing on Friday, though, so if nothing else, there’ll be that to look forward to.

There hasn’t really been a great deal of news on the boardgame front lately – not that much that interests me, at any rate. Except, perhaps, for this:

Call of Cthulhu Mark of Madness

FFG are churning out the Call of Cthulhu deluxe boxes, that’s for sure! The Hastur faction’s box, looks like a lot of exciting stuff will be coming from this one when it arrives in the autumn! I enjoy running Hastur/Silver Twilight, so definitely looking forward to this one!

FFP have a new ad for the upcoming Caverns of Cynder expansion for Shadows of Brimstone, which is looking really nice! Only one new enemy for the world, though apparently the hellbats from the Jargono box will be usable as “lava bats”, so that’s interesting.

But yeah, otherwise it seems to have been a quiet time on the game front lately…

New stuff! And not-so new stuff!

Hey everybody!

It’s been a pretty quiet week for me this past week, as I wrestled with the last essay for the degree I’ve been doing for a while now. That being said, it doesn’t look like there’s been an awful lot of game stuff about – so that was a totally misleading title, huh?!

You guys seen this? It was announced a while back, of course, but I’ve been a bit ambivalent about it all, if I’m honest. I mean, I have everything for the first edition of A Game of Thrones LCG, so I’ve been thinking it unlikely I’d want to get a second edition. Looking at all this stuff, it doesn’t really look significantly different enough to warrant buying anew. What do you folks think? Anyone eager to replace their first edition?

Perhaps more interesting in the LCG world are the expansions announced for Call of Cthulhu and Lord of the Rings. First of all, The Thousand Young is looking really intriguing. While previous big box expansions have introduced either a new setting, or buffed one of the eight factions. This one seems to be doing both, as we get Shub-Niggurath cards themed around New Orleans! Fantastic, very much looking forward to getting this, even though I don’t play the faction!

mec42-fan

The Treachery of Rhudaur, the fourth pack in the Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings, is looking great, too. As the article says, the cards in this cycle build on the Noldor theme, and those of this fourth pack really contribute to this. So far, I’m really impressed with how this makes the game feel like it has been really well-planned, as the Noldor theme of discarding cards for buffs has already been established three cycles back. The quest is also a good one, more Undead folks and shenanigans among the crumbling ruins of a keep. I seem to remember the quests getting better as the cycle moves on – at any rate, I’m looking forward to this!

whk09_cardfan

The third exciting thing in the LCG world is the announcement of the next cycle for Warhammer 40k: Conquest! The Planetfall cycle features cards that work off specific planet card icons, which should make for some interesting strategies. I’m quite surprised by this, as it will be featuring Tyranids following their arrival in The Great Devourer, though I’d kinda expected we’d see the Necron deluxe expansion first. Seems like the Necrons will be entering this game significantly behind the other races, unfortunately!

Speaking of Necrons…

Over the course of the weekend I’ve been doing more stuff with Necrons, following last weekend’s success with the Immortals. Lychguards are, of course, my absolute favourite Necron kit – the amazing poses you can get from these guys are just great. I’ve currently got two squads of these chaps – one with warscythes and one with hyperphase swords/dispersion shields. I hadn’t built up any of these guys since late last year, however, so it was nice to get back to these guys, and I’ve spent a few hours on both these and the tomb blades that I’ve had going on for a few weeks now.

Necron Lychguard

I’m trying to remember how I painted these up last time, as I want them to blend in with those I painted up previously. Something I’ve tried to go for with my Necrons is to have a shaded body for the Immortals, but a more shining body for the Lychguard – they are the bodyguards of the lords, after all! So I’ve left the Immortals with a Nuln Oil wash, but these Lychguard have also been “drybrushed” with Necron Compound (of course!) – I use the term loosely, of course, as rather than drybrushing as a highlighting technique, I’ve been using an almost polishing action to try and add that metallic matte finish to them. You can see one of my previous guys on the far right of the above picture, anyway – so far, they do seem to be blending, anyway!

I’ve also built up a fourth tomb blade from spare bits that I’d bought for that kitbash competition a few months back, as well as some other bits I’d managed to scrounge from ebay. Marvellous! So I’ve currently got two with tesla cannons and two with gauss blasters. The most recent addition is that with the golden sensor vane thing in the above shot.

I’m kinda enjoying this increased painting activity, I must say. I’m currently planning to do a Doomsday Ark as a summer project, but I’m also thinking of doing the Night Scythe soon as well. I’ve also got the Triarch Stalker built up and primed since before Christmas, so that’ll need some attention soon… I’m also interested in doing something with my Monolith. Oh, so much plastic!

My day off

Hey folks!
Happy Wednesday! I had a day off today, largely spent studying and moving furniture. An exciting day, indeed! The weather may have been awful, but even so, it has been an excellent inside-day!

I can heartily recommend Keemun tea from Twinings, incidentally. Lately, I’m finding that tea is greatly beneficial to my studies! You’ll remember, hopefully, that I’ve recently started on the next module of my OU degree, Exploring the Classical World? Well, I’m currently reading the Odyssey again, so today I broke out my A level notes and had a brief wander through to reacquaint myself. It is grand, I can highly recommend it to you all!

I’ve been looking at some more upcoming games, finally getting round to the next deluxe expansion for Call of CthulhuFor the Greater Good.

for the greater good

While I’m not an Agency player – in fact, the only time I’ve ever done anything with those cards is use them for Domains – but this box does look interesting. Not just because it might be reason enough to finally investigate this faction, but

each of the game’s eight factions gain inexpensive support cards that you can attach to a story to tilt the odds of its resolution not-so-subtly in your favor. Combined with a variety of powerful new characters, including a new three-cost Ancient One, these attachments allow you to play to your strengths even as they make the game more dynamic and horrifying.

Sounds good, no? So that’ll be something to look forward to early next year.

Summoner Wars Alliances

The next big thing for Summoner Wars, announced back in September (I think), is the Alliances master set. Summoner Wars is a great game, though I have yet to feature it on my blog here. The game is effectively a combat card game for two players, with sixteen factions (I think) to choose from. Last year, we started seeing Second Summoner packs, to make the deckbuilding a more rich experience. The Alliances master set blends two of the existing factions together, and further mixes up the deckbuilding aspect of the game. Looking forward to welcoming this one into the fold! Look for a blog on the game at some future date, too!

With regard to playing games, I had a couple of games with Lord of the Rings. Checking my stats on bgg, it’s been just over four months since I last played this game, but it feels like so much longer! In actual fact, I don’t really remember playing any of those games, but still. I decided to take my Rohan deck for a Passage through Mirkwood, the original quest in the box, and was surprised when I just couldn’t get it going, and threated-out! I don’t think I’ve lost that game since my very first plays! After a brief re-set, I did manage to complete the quest in ten rounds, but still, I was shocked!

Had a pretty excellent delivery today, too –

Forge World Necrons

I’m still enjoying the Warhammer life, though of course, I have pulled back a little since my earlier gusto with the IP. However, I am hoping to get involved with the tabletop game at some point once the much-rumoured new codex arrives. In the meantime, I’ve been building up a small army, links to which you can find on my Necrons page over on the right. Today I took delivery of four resin models from Forge World, along with the Imperial Armour book that features the rules for these miniatures. I’m not a huge fan of resin, and some of these models are incredibly intricate, but still!

Earlier in the month, I was beginning to feel a bit like I’d rushed a bit too quickly into the Warhammer world, which is still the case, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to write off the last two months of expense and drop it as fast as I picked it up, but I feel that I’ve focused perhaps a bit too much on the Old World, especially during September. It’s still my new favourite thing, but I’m trying to restore some balance in my life, so I’m definitely pulling back a little now.

Anyhow, I’ll leave it there for now. Until next time!

Some midweek thoughts

Hey everyone!
I know how you all enjoy my rambling thoughts, so I’m going to treat you all to some right now! Yes, you really are very lucky…

I’m currently watching House of Flying Daggers, which has a bit of a soap-opera-y story, but also has some truly excellent set-pieces. I draw your attention to the Echo Game near the beginning, and the sequence in the bamboo forest, for but two of these. I also really love the production design – and some of those locations, oh my! But yeah, it is a bit meh as far as the story goes. Can’t let that get in the way though!

Oh yes, and I’m enjoying a cup of lapsang souchong again. Fabulous times!

Speaking of tea, I was working on the degree yesterday evening, and enjoying some Chai tea. It’s something that I don’t go in for all that much, I have to say, but having not had a cup for a long while, it was actually really nice! So there I was, reading Richard Lattimore’s translation of the Odyssey – quite a high-flown translation, in my view, too; I much prefer that of EV Rieu, which I studied for my A level – and drinking Chai tea. Just when you thought life couldn’t be any more pretentious…

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Had a pretty excellent lunch today. I walked into my local game shop to pick up the new saga expansion for Lord of the Rings, and the manager had the Star Wars LCG laid out trying to learn how to play it. Being the gent that I am, I offered to help, and thus had a marvellous impromptu game! I lost, but that doesn’t really say all that much! But in my defense, it’s been a long time since I’ve played this… But anyhow, I’m hoping that I can play this game a bit more often, so have spent a small portion of my evening making up a pair of decks – Scum & Villainy, and Jedi – in the hope that they won’t just be there gathering dust for the next few months!

the road darkens

I’ve only briefly looked at The Road Darkens, and it does look quite fabulous, but I think I might keep it for a while yet. Since I wrote the Mirkwood Cycle blog last week, I’ve been really craving getting back into this game, but I want to start with my favourites. The new expansion doesn’t add a lot of player cards, as the bulk of it is made up of new encounter cards. In fact, this box departs from tradition by having each of the three quests use a single, 30-odd card encounter set. Finally! I usually find myself buying three, or even four copies of deluxe expansions in order to have all of the scenarios set up and ready to go from the start, so this is good news for my wallet! Anyhow, despite only the handful of new player cards, I do want to look at the decks I have set up, as I think there are five decks I have had made up now for about a year at least, with minimal tinkering as new expansion packs have come out, so I could be missing out on some good synergies and combinations.

Pathfinder arrivals

Monday was also quite the day for games, as I had a glut of packs for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game! The seven class decks, along with the Skull & Shackles Character Add-On deck, and the second pack in that path, Raiders of the Fever Sea, and all of the associated promo cards, are now mine! Oh, and I also had the replacement rulebook for the core set delivered too – a veritable tidal wave of cards! Oh, how we chortle…

I’m still only on part two of Rise of the Runelords, of course, and up until last night had been thinking that I’d wait until the end of that adventure path before wading out among the Shackles, but thinking logically about this, there’s no reason to do so, as one is not a continuation of the other. Plus, with the class decks, there is an almighty mass of new heroes to take on a watery adventure! So I might break it out soon. Especially now that I have the rulebook to know how it all works!

Imperial Assault

I was really happy to see this news last night, I have to say! Back when this game was announced at Gen Con this year, I was really excited – finally, a Star Wars board game from Fantasy Flight! My favourite IP from my favourite company! Of course, as part of the deal, they announced ally and villain packs for Luke and Vader which would be included in the core set, which was amazing. But already we’ll be seeing more to help bulk out the game soon after its release! Wonderful stuff!

Imperial Assault, as you no doubt know, is modelled on the popular Descent, so I suppose the closest analogy for these packs would the the Lieutenant packs for the dungeon-crawler. Part of me hopes that we won’t be seeing quite so many, of course, as the number of lieutenants available for Descent is quite scary (it’s 17, if you were wondering). But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…

Imperial Assault does bring up an interesting point that has been doing the rounds over the weekend, however. Over on boardgamegeek, a fairly hostile review of the new Warhammer Conquest LCG went up, spawning quite a stunning comments. The original review has been taken down, including some of the offensive follow-up points, but the conversation is still going on as I type. Anyway, while I personally happened to disagree on a lot of the points made, something has emerged as potentially troubling the gaming community. FFG do seem to be putting out a lot of games that recycle mechanics of pre-existing – and, often, ‘current’ – games, and Imperial Assault is a perfect example of this. Descent is still being published, with an expansion released not that long ago, and already we’re seeing this re-skin.

For me, I don’t really see this as a bad thing. One of the driving reasons for why I buy games is the theme: there are quite a lot of games that are respected for their mechanics and such that I have completely passed over simply because the theme doesn’t appeal to me, while I own one or two games that can be said to be almost clones of each other. But this doesn’t really matter, because I can invest myself in the theme which inevitably triumphs over the mechanics anyway. Let me explain…

Warhammer Conquest is said to be a re-skin of Call of Cthulhu, simply because the players are fighting over a central line-up of cards, be they planets or stories (comparisons have also been made with Blood Bowl: Team Manager). The comparison ends there, of course, as combat is handled entirely differently, to say nothing of card draw and resourcing, but the point still seems to stand. Now, I enjoy Cthulhu a lot (check out my blog for more thoughts!), and I have enjoyed my one game of Conquest so far. The fact that the two games bear a superficial resemblance to each other doesn’t really enter my head, as I’m focused on the theme the whole time.

My limited experience with Descent will likely inform my opinion of Imperial Assault in the same way that Cthulhu has done so for Conquest. I am aware that Descent is a good game, but have only really played the solo variant as linked earlier. Because I enjoyed Descent when I have managed to play it does not mean I will not like Imperial Assault “because it’s just Descent in space” – that, to me, is an extremely short-sighted opinion to have. First of all, while Imperial Assault does bear a strong resemblance to Descent, it is not simply a re-skin. However, I enjoy Descent (from what I’ve played of it), and I really enjoy Star Wars. As a reasonably intelligent human being, I can assimilate what I know of the Descent mechanics with what has been previewed of the Imperial Assault game thus far, and I come to the opinion that I will, more than likely, really like the upcoming game. So what’s wrong with that?

Well, creativity is said to be stifled, or game designers are encouraged to be lazy, or somesuch claptrap. I honestly don’t believe that applying a new theme to an existing game system is such a bad idea. RPGs do it all the time, and nobody seems to really care – indeed, it can often be a selling point, as players aren’t faced with the daunting prospect of having to learn an entirely new rules set before they can sit down and enjoy themselves. But I also don’t really see companies like FFG encouraging lazy design over true innovation, as there are plenty of new and upcoming games that they have on the roster that are entirely that – new.

What I feel is happening in the wider gaming community is a confusion of re-themes, or whatever you want to call them, with refining of game systems. Returning to the Cthulhu vs Conquest scenario again, I would say that Conquest has taken an aspect of the older game – the story card line-up – and moulded itself around that, while bearing in mind the source IP, and has produced a game that feels familiar, lowering the barrier of entry, but is nonetheless fresh and true to the Warhammer 40k theme. If Conquest had had four separate conflict stages at each planet; if only three planets were ever up for grabs, and any one of the three could be won after five successful combats there; if players had to build up a domain to manage their economy – this would make me think that Conquest was a lazy design. It has none of these things, of course, so take from that what you will.

In short, I have no real problem with companies taking successful game systems and mechanics, and tinkering with them to create new games. Hell – I am a huge fan of Flying Frog Productions, and count A Touch of Evil and Fortune & Glory among my favourite board games of all time, and they are essentially the same game with a new theme! Flying Frog are living proof, however, of the triumph of theme over mechanics – a common criticism of the company being that they have designed the same game five times. While not exactly true, they have a core “FFP engine” that drives their games, and this has led to players, myself included, being able to concentrate on enjoying the game rather than flicking through the rulebook after every roll of the dice.

To finish this rant, games are meant to be fun! If you have fun while playing the same game in different themes, that’s what it’s all about! If you don’t – well, just move on! It’s hardly like we’re living in a board game drought, after all!

Right then, I’ll put my soapbox away now!

If you haven’t already, and you’re looking for a fun game, then I can heartily recommend you check out this week’s game, Arcana – it’s a deck-building card game for 2 to 4 players where you take the role of a guild in the city of Cadwallon, attempting to gain control of the city by recruiting a number of the notable denizens before the Ducal Jubilee. Highly recommended, and you can pick it up on amazon right now for under £25! Fantastic!

Talking of cities, I’ve booked a trip to London in December. Something to look forward to, as my birthday looms! I do enjoy the capital, though – the British Museum being the main attraction, I won’t deny!

I’m going to stop typing now, anyhow. Hope you’ve all been having an excellent Tuesday!