GenCon 2016!

Hey everybody!
It’s GenCon 2016, the best four days in gaming, and this is my attempt to round up all of the stuff that I think looks particularly amazing as the weekend rolls on!

Warhammer 40k Death Masque

Let’s start with something not announced at the con, but is definitely worth a mention all the same – Death Masque, the new boxed game for Warhammer 40k that appears to be replacing the current intro box, Dark Vengeance. Games Workshop are really pushing Deathwatch stuff, it seems, following the Overkill boxed game earlier in the year. Along with the game, which features Harlequins vs Deathwatch Marines, they’ve got the new codex and data cards available for pre-order this weekend, to allow for quite the launch for the latest additions to the 40k line. I really like the whole Deathwatch idea and lore, so will no doubt be picking up the codex next weekend, though the box set might have to wait for a while. Especially seeing as how I’ve got so many other projects on the go!

Fantasy Flight Games are always the company I’m most interested in at GenCon, so let’s move on to see what they’re currently up to. In recent years, they’ve taken to making most of their announcements in the weeks leading up to the convention, saving just one or two showstoppers for the actual event itself, and 2016 is no different there. I’ve already talked about the new Star Wars dice game here, but let’s take a look at what else is going on…

Imperial Assault is getting a new small-box expansion later in the year, centred on Jabba’s Palace. Looks amazing, though this is a game I have unfortunately barely played, so I’m questioning the need to actually buy this when it launches. You can bet your ass, of course, if I manage to make this game into a regular thing, I’ll be snapping it up! Jabba is also one of the new hero/villain releases accompanying the game, as well as a new Luke Skywalker.

Mansions of Madness is a Descent-style game that I’ve owned for years but never gotten round to featuring on the blog. It’s a really great, thematic game, but there hadn’t been any news on it for a long time, until FFG announced the new second edition a couple of weeks ago. Looks to involve an app similar to the Road to Legend app for Descent, though I’m currently undecided – I’m not about to go buy the second edition, owning all of first edition anyway, but I’m not sure if it would be the same experience. The game launched at GenCon, anyway, and seems to be getting a lot of hype from folks across the internet, so there is that!

More exciting from my perspective is the new Arkham Horror LCG. I’d heard about this recently as a rumour, but the announcement last week really got me excited for what looks to be an awesome gameplay experience! Looks similar to Elder Sign in parts, though the RPG-like feel to the whole thing has got me incredibly excited, so this is definitely on the Christmas list!

Doom is a classic of the boardgame world, though I’ve never had the opportunity to play it previously. All I can say on this right now is, the miniatures look incredible! And speaking of miniatures…

Runewars Miniatures Game

I was honestly not expecting this, and I’m still not entirely recovered from my shock following yesterday’s announcement! The “original” Runewars is a game I’ve played but once, though it’s still fantastic, and I’ve been wanting to feature it on the blog for a while now. Set in the same universe as Rune Age and Battlelore, it’s a game I’d thought dead, especially given the popularity of Battlelore nowadays.

It’s not just the fact that this is a new game set in the Terrinoth universe, this is a huge deal for FFG. A rank-and-file miniatures war game is a huge thing for any company, and to see them do this really warms my heart, as it feels like we’re seeing more games that have that juggernaut feel to them from the company. Horus Heresy, Runewars, and Twilight Imperium are all games that fit the classic mould, and it looks like FFG are perhaps making a return to that style of game here.

Very exciting times are ahead, I feel!

What’s been going on at the In-Flight Report this year, then?

Interesting stuff there, looks like FFG are making a lot of these app-driven games since X-Com…

Announced a while back, Legend of the Five Rings has another year to go before it arrives, but that should allow for FFG to make it pretty awesome. I’m not slavering for it, but it’s probably going to be picked up when it comes out, so there is that! Any LCG from Fantasy Flight is amazing, after all!

Looks like a pair of “expansions” to second edition of Mansions of Madness, which feature content from the first edition core set and expansions. Seems like second edition might be worth looking into more deeply after all!

X-Wing Wave X

Wave 10 for X-Wing (sorry, Wave X!) is coming, with ships from Rebels and The Force Awakens. I’m genuinely surprised they’ve managed to keep going so long with this game, I thought they would have shifted to a cards-only supplement style of expansion before now!

This is here because I still can’t get over my shock!

I’ve been seeing a lot of positive vibes around this game across Twitter, so I’m thinking that I’ll definitely try it out once it’s released…

I still can’t get over this Runewars announcement…

While there was a lot of amazing stuff coming out of the In-Flight Report this year, I’m more surprised by what hasn’t been announced at GenCon this year – a new big box expansion for Eldritch Horror, and anything about Warhammer Quest the card game. I find this lack of anything fairly suspicious, so it’ll bear keeping an eye on in the future, I think…

But what about the other companies out there?

Star Wars and Carcassonne… I don’t even… I mean, why?! Carcassonne is a good game, but I feel that perhaps some of the expansions for the main game have shown just how far that game can be taken, so instead we’re getting a lot of re-skins, which I suppose are okay if you like the theme, but seriously, why don’t you just get the main game? Hm.

Having recently bought the boxset to rediscover my love for Buffy, this is perhaps some of the most exciting news to come out of Gen Con for me this year! A co-op game sounds super interesting, and I love the Legendary thing, so definitely going to snap this one up when it comes out, that’s for sure!

Okay, so I had the game Mythic Battles, and I sold it after having never played it in the 2+ years of ownership. These miniatures look so incredibly beautiful, however, that I may have to keep an eye on this bad boy…

Flying Frog haven’t officially shared anything (yet), but a few people have been posting up pictures of the stuff they’re picking up as part of wave 1.5 of Shadows of Brimstone, and it does look kinda neat, I have to say. I’m still a bit bummed by the fact that I don’t have a lot of the stuff that I backed, but as many others have pointed out, the kickstarter was a hell of a deal, so I’m not complaining too loudly!

What’s very interesting, to me, is this news:

It’s interesting to me because I don’t have a lot of games with this theme, but it’s something I would like to explore in more depth. The fact that it’s going to be a kickstarter is not exactly getting my juices going, but y’know, I think FFP might have learnt from the Shadows of Brimstone experience, and perhaps things will be better this time around. I’m cautiously optimistic, though I might pass until it actually hits retail, so I guess we’ll see how things pan out. Of course, I’m quite sad they’ve had to put all of their other games on hold while they fulfill the SoB pledges, as I’m keen to see where they take Fortune & Glory, and A Touch of Evil, next!

Of course, FFP don’t have the only Oriental-themed game coming soon:

My favourite game designer, Eric Lang, has come up with, well…

…with beautiful minis, as always!

I should try to contain myself, though that might be very difficult!

That’s all for now! I’ll be updating here whenever I find more interesting stuff to share, so don’t think it’s over yet!

Catching up with FFG

Some very exciting things have been coming out of FFG over the past couple of days, some of it already announced at GenCon, but some new. Let’s take a look!

Under the Pyramids

To start with, the very exciting news about Under the Pyramids, the new big box expansion for Eldritch Horror. Last year saw Mountains of Madness come out, which brought a sideboard to the game, along with a lot of additional bumph that you can see in my blog here. Under the Pyramids seems to be following that template, with a new board that depicts – unsurprisingly – the Egyptian desert. Two new Ancient Ones, of which only Nephren-ka has been spoiled, along with eight more investigators and a whole host of other new bits. I’m guessing Nyarlathotep will be the second Ancient One, though given the breadth of lore for him in the mythos, he may be better-placed in a box by himself. We’ll see, though.

Something that sounds like a lot of fun is the Museum Heist adventure – no idea how this will work mechanically, but it just sounds like a lot of fun!

Hoping we’ll get this for Christmas!

Descent Treaty of Champions

Just announced today is the seventh hero and monster collection for Descent – Treaty of Champions! Looks very much like more of the same, really, though take a look at those miniatures! Those demon lords look absolutely amazing. Interestingly, while I said this was more of the same, there is a new monster group, the Crow Hag! An interesting-looking mini, some strange cultist-like character with a huge mace of some sort… interesting!

Always great to have exciting options for a game, anyway!

Warhammer Conquest What Lurks Below

Have I mentioned the new cycle for Warhammer Conquest? I’m not sure…  At any rate, the next cycle is expected to begin at some point, and it mainly deals with interacting with the position of planets. Capitalizing on the fact the deluxe expansion, The Great Devourer, will be released by the time this hits, we’ll also be getting Tyranid cards, and the fourth pack, What Lurks Below, brings a new Warlord to the faction. In keeping with the first cycle, it also looks like the Space Marines will be focusing on a new chapter, this time Black Templars. Interesting, as I’d have thought we’d be seeing something like Blood Angels or Dark Angels first. At any rate, I wasn’t actually intending to keep buying Conquest packs after the Warlord cycle ended, but FFG are always so very good at keeping me hooked on their card-crack!

Imperial Assault Return to Hoth

I realise I’ve not mentioned the other big, exciting expansion announced back in GenCon, Return to Hoth! I’ve actually played the skirmish game once, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but have wanted to play more before featuring it on the blog. Anyway, it’s a really exciting game, and Return to Hoth looks like it has some very good additions to this! The miniatures include HK-droids, Wampas, and a Mon Calamari hero, all of which look excellent.

The associated ally and villain packs also look good – Princess Leia, Dengar, and some Snowtrooper chaps, all look fantastic! Interestingly, there is a lot in this box that seems to support the skirmish game, including a four-player variant, which makes me wonder if FFG are keen to support this aspect above anything else. It does kinda make sense, given the opportunity for organised play. The skirmish game is certainly the more popular aspect as far as what I’m seeing locally, at any rate.

Another one for the Christmas list, anyway – all four of these things are coming before the end of the year, anyway.

Finally…

X Wing Imperial Raider

The Imperial Raider is apparently in stock at my local store, though it is so overdue that I don’t think I’ll actually believe it until I’ve seen it with my own hands!

New Star Wars stuff!

Hey everybody!

After the heady excitement of my Birthday Week, and the exploration of the Indiana Jones franchise, it’s back to Star Wars, my original true love, and some exciting news for gaming, following the Anaheim shenanigans last weekend!

X-Wing Wave 7

Let’s start with Wave 7 for X-Wing! Releases for this game continue apace, as we get new ships for all three of the current factions. The K-Wing makes an appearance for the rebels, something I’ve been particularly pleased about since I’m a big fan of the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. It also gets a new move, SLAM, which basically allows it to move twice, so long as both movements are at the same speed. The Imperials get the TIE Punisher, though most people will probably know it better as the TIE Interdictor from the Galactic Battlegrounds game. It’s basically an advanced version of the TIE Bomber (from Wave 3), and both this and the K-Wing have some pretty snazzy ordnance they bring to the table. Very useful is the Advanced Ordnance card, which lets you use missiles and bombs twice, so that’ll most likely become a staple!

Scum takes up half of this wave, which makes sense, given they’re still quite far behind the other factions so far. Black Sun’s Kihraxz fighter makes its appearance, which has got me excited to build a Black Sun squadron, and Trandoshan bounty hunter Bossk’s ship Hound’s Tooth rounds out the experience. He has the ability to escape his destroyed ship in the headhunter Nashtah Pup, which is a nice addition – I was surprised at first that we don’t actually get a headhunter model, but it would most likely drive the price of the expansion up to include it and, as was pointed out to me, most Scum players will have Most Wanted anyway.

So it’s a pretty exciting release, and since I’ve started to play this game, I’m really looking forward to it!

X Wing Imperial Raider

Speaking of X-Wing, we’ve also had a more in-depth look at the Imperial Raider, which I feel has been on the horizon for months already!

Announced back in December (I think – it seems longer!), it’s something that I’m pretty excited to get my hands on, even though I don’t foresee any epic play on the cards anytime soon. There are some interesting bits and pieces there, though – and who knows, now that the Imperials have a big ship as well, maybe we’ll see more epic play games…

Imperial Assault reinforcements

More reinforcements have been announced for Imperial Assault, too. As someone mentioned on facebook, this is where the skirmish game really begins, and I can definitely see that. Up to now, we seem to have been having the lieutenant-like expansions similar to the Descent model, which basically replace tokens from the base game with actual miniatures, but with new chaps that we can bring to the table, it begins to feel much more like a miniatures battle game, much like the previous Star Wars Miniatures games from Wizards of the Coast and West End Games. Even though I haven’t been able to play with the base game yet, I’m hoping I can sell the idea to Tony with the skirmish side, then hook him in with the scenario-driven game. We shall see!

Imperial Assault Reinforcements

The miniatures do look great, though I’m not going to paint them – the manager at the local store has done his store copy, and that looks fantastic, but they’re too small and detailed for me!

Again, I’m pretty excited for these guys, even though I’ve yet to play the game. Star Wars Miniatures was one of my favourite games, back in the day – which is surprising, given that it’s got basically no story to it, and you’re just trying to wipe out your opponent before he wipes you out. But I played a lot of that game back in the day, and it’s really exciting to think we might get that sort of experience again, though on a much more sensible scale (as opposed to the blind-buy from Wizards).

And finally…

Making splendid use of my amazon vouchers, I’ve decided to go for the latest novels in hardcover. It seems Del Rey is moving to all their books coming out in hardcover now, so it’ll help to distinguish them from my now-Legends novels.

More Star Wars!

Well, this was unexpected…

So soon after the GAMA Trade Show stuff for Armada and Imperial Assault, we’re given yet more Star Wars goodness from FFG at this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim!

Yes, I still haven’t played Imperial Assault, and while the expansion model of lots of small packs of miniatures is a little worrying for the bank balance, it is nevertheless pretty exciting to see the game expand in this modular way, as you can pick and choose what you want – especially for the skirmish play, but also adding in actual miniatures for the scenario stuff is cool.

Next deluxe for the LCG is, of course, a welcome announcement, and by the looks of it, we’ll be getting Imperials and Smugglers. As a side note, Imperial Entanglements always reminds me more of the West End Games supplement than Obi-Wan’s line in A New Hope, and I always feel happy to see stuff like that 🙂

Wave 7 for X-Wing was a bit of a surprise, though a lot of folks will probably think it’s long overdue. My guess would be we’re getting one rebel, one imperial, and two scum ships, the Kihraxz Assault Fighter being affiliated with Black Sun of course (and already in the LCG, to boot!)

Anyhow, it’s good to see all the lines looking healthy, and the promise of lots more Star Wars games to come!

But wait – that’s not all!

The Lando story sounds like it could be good. Of course, I’m a big fan of AC Crispin’s Han Solo trilogy, and don’t really relish the idea of that being wiped away, but the comic is set sometime between Rebel Dawn and The Empire Strikes Back, so it’s possible that nothing will contradict the Bantam series there.

The Shattered Empire has already been briefly mentioned as part of the run-up to December’s film, and while I’m intrigued to see what Disney have decided to do with the post-Jedi era, the EU fan within me feels a bit insulted that the press release begins:

“The world has been wondering what happened after the fall of the Empire since the credits first rolled on ‘Return of the Jedi’ in 1983,”

We’ve known what has happened since 1990, and Heir to the Empire, thank you very much! Bah! So it’s with a degree of trepidation, and some scepticism, that I’ll most likely be reading this book when it comes out in September.

So while I’m still a bit sad about the loss of the EU as I knew it, the one bright spot on the horizon comes from this article on sw.com about the upcoming novel Aftermath, part of a trilogy that bridges the gap between episodes VI and VII with both new characters and “familiar faces”. Maybe Talon Karrde and Mara Jade live, after all? For all my love of the EU that I’ve just discussed, it’s something that I actually feel Bantam didn’t do all that well – the Empire fell at Endor insofar as the Emperor and Vader died, but what happened to the galaxy at large? Somehow, that epic sweep that the new trailer seems to sum up so nicely in the depiction of a crashed Star Destroyer was lost, and instead we got the X-Wing series, which was basically a set of novels showcasing just how awesome Corran Horn is as a person. But I’ve had that rant before. We do somehow lack that immediate sense of, just what the hell happened next?

Y’know, this may be the first Star Wars novel I buy in hardcover…

Star Wars: Aftermath

A sparse week

Hey everyone!

It has been a bit of a sparse week for gaming news, I have to say. The most exciting thing, for me, was a look at two of the upcoming ally packs for Imperial Assault, here. To my shame, Imperial Assault remains unplayed since I got it at Xmas, so just how excited I am for more content for a (currently) unplayed game is a bit of an issue. But we’ll see. Of course, I got another game of X-Wing in at the local games shop, a hilarious adventure among the asteroids that you can read about here!

Desperate Allies

I was pretty excited about this one, actually, which perhaps is a bit strange given the fact that I haven’t played a role-playing game in years!

I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia trip of late, started off by my D&D week earlier in the year, and since then, I’ve been looking back with fondness at my Star Wars RPG days. I’ve not properly looked over the latest incarnation of the game from FFG, but I recall feeling positive about it when Edge of the Empire first appeared, so even though my chances of playing soon are pretty slim, I’m nevertheless thinking of featuring a look at the thing here on my blog sometime soon.

While West End Games did an awful lot to make a credible universe, tying in very closely with the Bantam novels of the 90s, then Wizards of the Coast largely ignored all of that as they just kept churning out movie-related material, it seems FFG is going on its own way of providing adventures almost unconnected to previous material, and it looks pretty amazing for it!

On the subject of Star Wars, I read the first issue in the new Marvel series today!

Star Wars #1

Y’know, that was actually a really great book! I’ve been a Star Wars fan for decades, of course, and have grown accustomed to being a Dark Horse Comics fan, so was initially very wary of them moving back to Marvel. But a good story is a good story, whoever is publishing it, and this was a lot of fun! It’s not very long, almost half the book is taken up with previews and adverts for the other two comic lines promised from Marvel – Darth Vader (which looks superb, let me tell you!) and Princess Leia (artwork looks a bit cheap…)

Going back to D&D week, I also finished reading The Halfling’s Gem, which turned out to be pretty good in the end! Being pulled into Tarterus near the end seemed a bit extraneous, but maybe that’s just me. After, what, eighteen months or so of being left, it was good to finally finish the trilogy! I’ve since moved onto The Legacy, the seventh book in the series, and while I’m only a couple of chapters in, it’s definitely setting up a compelling story. I had kinda spoiled myself for this book through the adventure system game. [SPOILER ALERT!] In the game, Drizzt’s brother Dinin Do’Urden appears as a drider, and after starting to read the Dark Elf trilogy I was a little confused, before finding out that happens in the course of book seven. Plus, the cover does kinda give it away!

The Legacy

I really loved the Dark Elf trilogy, books one and two in particular were just too awesome for words, and a big part of my enjoyment came from the setting. Menzoberranzan is one of the most interesting locations I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about, and the whole adventures in the Underdark was a real joy, so the interruption on the surface for the last three books has been a bit unwelcome, really! Good to get back underground, even if it is currently only for part of the book. The Legacy takes place nearly twenty years after Drizzt left the Underdark in Sojourn, and it’s fun to see what has been happening with the drow characters in the time Drizzt has been away. Promises to be a good read, anyway!

I’ve also been painting more Necrons this weekend! I must admit, I’m quite pleased with myself! Having had such a slow start to painting this year, I’m glad to finally be creating again! I’ve made up a batch of Immortals, and have been painting them as Pyrrhian Eternals, the dedicated Immortals of Anrakyr the Traveller! I’ve recently begun to use my flickr account once more, where you can head over to check out my album here!

Pyrrhian Eternals

Off for the holidays!

Yep, I’m done for the festive period now!
It was my birthday on Thursday, and I’d bought the second Shield of Baal campaign book for myself, so picked that up today – that was exciting stuff! I mean: Necrons!

Shield of Baal Exterminatus

So far, I’ve been really enjoying this campaign. Of course, I’m still not a player of the game, as I’m taking my time with building up my Necron army while I wait for the new codex to hit (I think I’ve gone on about this for quite some time now), however I’ve been digesting the novellas that have been published to support all this bumph, and have so far been really impressed! I finished the Deathstorm novella this morning, which is one of the best tie-in stories I’ve ever read, to be honest! I also picked up the third novella in this series this morning, so once I’ve read that, I’ll be bringing some words of wisdom to you all on that!

Shield of Baal

On the subject of Warhammer, I’ve managed to do a little more painting today. I’ve currently got nearly twenty individual miniatures on the go, but have been finding it consistently difficult to get moving for any length of time with them. Today, anyway, I turned my attention to an idea for a scarab base that had excited me when it first came to me earlier in the month. I’ve not yet read Damnos, but I’ve nevertheless been somehow aware of the enmity between the Necrons and Ultramarines, so it really was a no-brainer to come up with the colour scheme…

Necron scarab base

The base colours are done, so I’m going to do some washing and highlighting soon (hopefully tomorrow), then glue those scarabs onto the poor bloke, and job done! For my second painting effort of a space marine, I don’t think it’s half bad, anyway!

Necrons

Imperial Assault

There was a minor flurry of releases from Fantasy Flight last week. Imperial Assault is probably the most notable here, of course – £80 of game, and it looks like you really get some bang for that buck! Down at my local games shop, the manager gave me a quick tour of the game on Wednesday – you basically get a game like Descent, with tiles and miniatures and cards and tokens, but then you get (I think) four rulebooks to suppose the other style of play, skirmish play. On top of that, you also get two mini-expansions, the Luke Skywalker ally pack, and the Darth Vader villain pack. These are apparently similar to the lieutenant packs for Descent, with cards for various bits as well as miniatures, which replace tokens in the main game.

It looks like an absolutely fantastic game, but kinda scares me as being a potential money-sink. It could just be due to the terms of their license agreement, but the game is also listed under “miniatures” rather than “board games” on FFG’s site, as X-Wing is, which makes me wonder if these ally/villain packs are going to be the de facto method of expansion… Hm! We’ll see if Santa has decided I’ve been a particularly good boy this year I suppose…

Mountains of Madness

Mountains of Madness has also been released, which kinda excites me much more than Imperial Assault – aside from the fact that it can be played solo, which is always exciting, I had the base game last xmas, so it’s a nice little repeat of that to have the first big-box expansion this year! It’s currently nestled under my tree, awaiting the big day, so I’m really very excited by this!

The next co-op scenario for Descent, Nature’s Ire, has also been made available, though it’ll most likely be a while before it makes its way over the Atlantic. Same for the next batch of Nightmare Scenarios for Lord of the Rings. I used to snap up the print-on-demand stuff as soon as it was released directly from the company, but postage has recently become ridiculous to get these things over here, so I’m now biding my time waiting for retailers in the UK to get them, though this seems to be taking much longer than usual…

Battlelore Hernfar Guardians

From new releases to new announcements, and we’ve seen a new preview for the upcoming Battlelore expansion, the Hernfar Guardians army pack. I’m not a big Daqan Lords fan, I admit, as I tend not to go for the Empire types where fantasy is concerned. However, I have lately begun to revise my position, and I’m looking forward to seeing this expansion hit the shelves. Of course, Battlelore is another of these games that is really lots of fun to play, but  never get to put on the table these days. So whether I rush to buy this – and the Warband of Scorn for the Uthuk, will remain to be seen…

Battlelore Hernfar Guardians

I was so impressed with the Imperial Raider news, of course, that I devoted an entire separate blog to it, but suffice it to say, I’m still getting fairly excited about X-Wing these days…

That actually brings me onto the subject of the other starship game from FFG, Armada. Take a moment, if you will, to refresh your memory of my earlier comments on the game…

However…

Let me take you back to Gen Con this August, where Armada was demo’d at the Fantasy Flight booth, a video that I didn’t even look at because I wasn’t feeling the love at that time:

First reaction, there are more nuances to this game than I was initially aware of. It’s not just a re-implemented X-Wing – while there are undeniably similarities to the earlier game, Armada does seem like it could be an enjoyable wargame rather than the dogfighting game of X-Wing. I mean, X-Wing feels like a really nice, well thought-out skirmish game between a group of starships, but Armada really succeeds with having the sense of the players being admirals in charge of rival fleets.

Star Wars Armada

I’ve been discussing it with the game store manager today, as he’s got his pre-orders up for the game, and I must admit, I’m beginning to think I’ll actually get it. Of course, whether I also get the expansion packs will remain to be seen, but they do look very pretty…

Star Wars Armada

The inevitable problem, of course, is scaring up someone who would be willing to play this game with me. My regular gaming buddy is no fan of X-Wing, so I doubt he’ll get into this one. It’s a hell of a lot of money to drop on something that might never actually see a play, of course, as well. So…hm. I’m at least feeling a lot more open to the idea of the game than I was in the summer, so that, if nothing else, is worth writing about!

Some weekend reflections

weekend reflections 2

Hey everybody!
So here we are, another weekend closer to Christmas! Whether you celebrate the holiday season or not, I hope you’re nevertheless planning some awesome times for midwinter! Personally, I’m leaning quite heavily toward getting more time with Eldritch Horror. Last year, I had the core game, and it has become such a big favourite of mine in the last twelve months, I think it’s only fitting! Of course, we’re also expecting the expansion very soon, which is just far too many kinds of awesome! I’ve not been following the spoilers all that religiously – I’m waiting to have it in-hand before I begin to look at mechanics and whatnot, but the news has certainly been showing some very interesting things for us to look forward to!

EH03-GameLayout

I actually read At the Mountains of Madness around this time last year, as I like to read at least one Lovecraft tale at Christmas. Having now finished the book I’ve been reading, I’m considering something Weird next…

The big news at the minute, of course, is the release of Imperial Assault. Still being delivered, according to FFG’s website, my local game store apparently had it in stock this morning – is this the merger of FFG and Asmodee declaring itself? They did say they’d benefit from Asmodee’s distribution network in Europe, but while I’ve occasionally had stuff in hand here in the UK when our US cousins are still waiting, it’s never been something this big before… That said, I don’t actually have it in hand, as I’m kinda passing on this one for now. Long-time readers will know my struggles with getting other folks to play games like this, so I’m thinking I might as well concentrate my efforts (and finances!) on games such as Eldritch Horror, which can hit the tabletop without a massive production of getting people together for a game day. I’ve no doubt I’ll get it at some point, but anyway…

The only other thing to really excite me from FFG this past week is the second preview of Gates of Arkham, the next expansion for Elder Sign. Another one of those games that I really enjoy, Gates of Arkham takes the action out of the museum and onto the streets in a move that had some mixed reception from the community initially. However, this seems like a genuinely awesome move, and I’m finding myself really looking forward to this – not every board game expansion can claim that!

Gates of Arkham

Let’s move away from Lovecraftian board games for now – for a change, let’s look at what’s going on in Warhammer! Last weekend, I built up some more Necron Immortals, adding to the two vehicles that were primed and waiting for paint, and the bunch of Lizardmen stuff I’ve still got hanging around unpainted. Yeah. Well, these Immortals are important because it means I now have the minimum army size with which to play a game: namely, a HQ and two units of troops:

Necrons

Exciting, but I still haven’t managed to do anything with them. I’ve made a start with painting, kinda, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m still waiting for the new Codex, which is now purportedly coming in two weeks. Once that hits, I guess the world’ll be my lobster, but we’ll have to see how that goes.

However, I’ve hit a bit of a wall over the painting. I have over a dozen figures in various stages of painting – and I really dread to think how many I’ve got still in boxes! But I seem to have shuddered to a stop. So yesterday I made a real effort to get somewhere, and managed to put on the base coat for the Immortals’ Necrodermis and pauldrons, nothing too glamorous, but it’s a start I suppose…

Necrons

Got to start somewhere I suppose.

Despite these painting problems, I feel quite excited by what’s happening now in 40k, I must say! Last night, Shield of Baal: Exterminatus went up for pre-order on the Games Workshop website, and is inexplicably still available at the time I’m writing this! The conclusion to the Shield of Baal campaign, I really sat up and took notice when I came upon this little tidbit in the description:

– an explanation of how the Necrons of Cryptus awoke to lend their aid to the beleaguered world along with the fleet of Anrakyr the Traveller

Oh yes! Anrakyr, in case you’re wondering, is the chap with the Immortals in the picture above, and the first special character I built for the Necron army I’ve been amassing. I kinda like the fluff for this guy – travelling from Tomb World to Tomb World, waking up the slumbering Necrons, and taking a small detachment for his own from among the ranks as his pay.

As well as the campaign supplements, Shield of Baal has also been giving us novels from the Black Library, and today a new short story has gone up as an e-book: Word of the Silent King.

I’m hoping to get round to this later tonight. As I recall, the Silent King (Szarekh, to his friends) was the guy who entered into the pact with the C’tan that bought them immortality at the price of their souls and who, as a penance for getting his people into that mess, willingly died to see the Nectrontyr put into stasis. Though I might have gotten that wrong. Well, anyway, Szarekh strikes me as an interesting chap, as he seems incredibly sympathetic as far as these soulless soldiers go. Perhaps he will be the Necron Lord that is rumoured to accompany the Codex release. Well, we’ll see…

A weekend ramble

Morning everyone!

Today’s the day the clocks go back here in the UK, so obviously I woke up at 2am. Bah!

It’s been a fairly lacklustre week, so far as gaming goes. I got to play a couple of games earlier in the week, which will feature here at some point in the coming weeks, no doubt – top of the list, of course, being Elder Sign, which is a great little game from Fantasy Flight that I’ve mentioned a couple of times lately, especially when the new expansion was announced not too long ago.

I’m finding myself seemingly unable to get the time for large-scale gaming lately though, and this saddens me quite a lot. Sticking with Cthulhu games, I’ve been feeling in the mood to play Eldritch Horror again lately, as I’ve not managed a game since May, when the expansion came out. So much for my summer of Yig, hey… Real life has got a lot to answer for! However, I suppose it doesn’t help that my usual gaming table for such big games has been taken over lately, by either the degree work or my painting adventures.

I haven’t really regaled you all with such things for a while, have I? Well, my painting miniatures has continued apace, with all of my updates being confined to tumblr. There is a link over on the right to my Necrons page, where I link to all of my tumblr posts as I make them, so you can always investigate further if you’re so inclined, anyway! This weekend, however, I’ve moved on to the first “big” model for my Necron army, the Tomb Stalker!

Necron Tomb Stalker

This is something that I got from Forge World earlier in the month, one of their resin kits. I’ve been painting the beast in segments, as it seems almost unnecessarily complicated, though I suppose all of the bits allow for greater customization and such. My original plan was to have the model swooping down onto a Space Marine, but during last night’s modelling this proved to be unfeasible (there are a lot of bits that go under the head, for instance, so the stalker needs to be raised up in the front anyway), so I’m now onto plan B.

Necron Tomb Stalker

I think it still looks pretty cool, however! There are twenty legs, each of which has a separate claw that needs to be attached, and an additional twenty “tertiary velocitators”, which are just small legs that I don’t think will be impacting much on the model’s final pose due to the fact they’re so small. Anyway. I originally had some terrain on the base, from which the stalker was swooping, but have since removed this as it was interfering with the pose. While my current plan doesn’t really call for any more terrain, just the Space Marine casualty, I think I may still do something when the time comes, as it could help to attach the model to the base.

Necron Tomb Stalker
Original base earlier yesterday

The whole thing should look pretty damn good when it’s done, anyway! The green carapace will be finished with a bit of a metallic look, along with the silver main body and gold details (such as the head) are intended to fit in well with the Lychguard colour scheme I have going on.

Necron Lychguard

The entire Necron army I have currently is also looking really good, I think! The recent additions include a squad of Deathmarks and some special characters. I’m quite pleased with my results, anyway – which you can see here!

In game news, anyway, there hasn’t been a great deal to write home about. We’ve had another preview of Imperial Assault, which talks about the missions and such, and looks like it’s shaping up into a great game. Like the campaigns in Descent, missions form an overarching series of games, but Imperial Assault also includes side missions, which are single-game affairs. Nice to see that the game will be supporting multiple styles of play, at any rate!

Armada has had another preview, also, though I must admit to being still less-than-enthused by this game. When it was announced back in August, I was slightly underwhelmed because I wanted a ground-based miniatures game, not another space battles game. Now that we have Imperial Assault on the horizon, of course, I had half-expected my opinion to change, but it really hasn’t. As it stands, I’m still feeling a bit meh about the game, so at this stage I won’t be dropping the £60 that amazon are currently asking for it (although I did do a double-take when looking at that, as I was expecting it to be more expensive!).

I think part of the reason for my reluctance to even entertain the thought of this game is down to having nobody to play it with. I got burned a little with X-Wing, which I have stopped buying for now, as I have managed to play it three times since its release nearly two years ago, all three of which games took place nearly two years ago. I dread to think how much I’ve actually spent on the game, and am seriously considering letting go on ebay, but I’ve sold games previously, only to berate myself for doing so, and then re-buying them anyway (Blood Bowl and Space Hulk: Death Angel are but two examples).

So, I think I’m going to avoid Armada for the time being, and likely won’t be rushing to buy it at release.

Something that has excited me this week, however, is the release of The Nin-In-Eilph, the latest addition to The Lord of the Rings. With all the hoopla surrounding The Road Darkens, it was almost possible to forget we were actually in the middle of an adventure pack cycle! So we have some interesting new cards coming our way, along with a quest that seems to be akin to The Dead Marshes but different. If that makes sense… It looks like it should be a really good game, anyway, so I’m looking forward to this.

The Nin-in-Eilph

To my eternal shame, however, I’ve not actually played any of the Ringmaker quests yet, and have only played the first scenario in Voice of Isengard once, back in March! How shocking. I should probably set aside a weekend to delve more thoroughly into Dunland.

I’m still feeling in a RPG mood, something that has been prevalent throughout the whole year, really. Bringing us back to Warhammer, I took delivery of The Outer Reach last week, a book I’d ordered weeks and weeks ago. If you checked the link, you’ll most likely see why – the Necron Overlord plastered all over the front should tell you all you need to know!

In the absence of a codex for the Necrons (that is, an updated codex), I’ve been hungry for knowledge of these guys that I’ve spent about two months building and painting, but The Outer Reach marks my first proper look at Necron stuff. The illustrations alone make this book invaluable for me, and indeed helped to inspire my golden Necron Overlord, but something that I particularly enjoyed was seeing RPG stats for almost the whole range of Games Workshop Necron models! Wonderful stuff. The secondary function of this book then began to appear for me, and I’ve been considering it as perhaps ‘my new RPG’.

The Outer Reach is a supplement for the Deathwatch role playing game, in which the players take on the roles of elite Space Marines from a variety of chapters, who have been pulled together to form a kill team and tasked with eliminating a xenos threat. The idea does sound pretty cool, and I imagine it would hook a lot of people in. Added to that is the fact that all of FFG’s roleplaying games for Warhammer 40k are compatible with each other, there is a whole slew of options! However, one of the strongest criticisms of the line I’ve read is that the actual role playing opportunities are somewhat minimal, as the game is very much forced along by the need to basically hunt out and exterminate enemies, with very little else involved. In that respect, I suppose something like Black Crusade (where you play Chaos Space Marines looking to corrupt people) or Dark Heresy (where you play members of the Inquisition looking to root out heresy) would be the more interesting option.

Each of these games has a starter adventure that you can try out, and that for Deathwatch is called Final Sanction. Having looked over the pdf, I think it might be worth taking a look at, especially given the pre-generated characters mean it’s very much a matter of gathering your people and your dice and playing the game. The recent flurry of Space Hulk interest might also help, as this adventure sees your kill team going after a genestealer infestation, much as in that game. Well, anyway, we’ll see.

Deathwatch

Also on the subject of Deathwatch, yesterday I read the short story The Infinite Tableau from the Deathwatch: Xenos Hunters. Again, I only got this because of the Necron connection. The story follows a kill team investigating the disappearance of a group of Adeptus Mechanicus (the technological subgroup in the Imperium) on an icy moon, and describes the horror they find when they get there. It’s pretty good; its appeal, for me, largely resting on an almost Lovecraftian Mountains-of-Madness feel as the kill team find the arcane piece of technology and so on. The story features the Necron special character Trazyn the Infinite, with some gore provided by a pack of Flayed Ones. Delightful!

I’m still reading Orion: The Vaults of Winter, on which I will provide more of a critique when I’m finished. For now, suffice it to say the story is heavy-going…

Anyway, I’m going to leave you with this video for Colt Express, a newly-released game of bandits fighting each other for the most loot…from a moving train…

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…

IMAG0901

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!