Model madness

The other day I shared a blog about the upcoming Shadows of Brimstone game, which largely consisted of the pdf rulebook of that game. However, for us kickstarter backers of that game, we had a large and involved update about the production, which included the news that the miniature figures will require assembly.

Hm.

I am not very good at crafts, I will freely admit. I love the idea, but I’m just not very good. Maybe the lack of faith in myself isn’t helping, but anyway. I do not relish the task ahead of me – there are reportedly 32 miniature figures per core set, and I am getting two of each core set. More than anything, I’m annoyed that this will not be a game where I can open the box, press out some cardboard tokens, shuffle up a bunch of cards, and then just play it. Suddenly, I have a game that requires assembly, which could take about a day to get done. Valuable gaming time will be lost! Argh.

But today, I had the idea that this could actually be an interesting sort of side-project. So I’m thinking of running a series of sub-blogs with detailed reports on my modelling endeavours as I attempt to assemble the game. Depending on how well it goes, of course, I may even extend the scope of this into painting them, but that will definitely remain to be seen.

In the meantime, I want to practice. Shadows of Brimstone has the potential to become my absolutely favourite game, and I don’t want to hash things up. So in that spirit, I bought a Warhammer thing to essentially practice on. As a prologue to the Brimstone stuff, I’ll be posting blogs showing what I’ve been getting up to with that, as well!

So…yeah… watch this space…

Shadows of Brimstone Rulebook PDF!

Looks like it should be a fantastic gaming experience! Can’t wait to get my grubby paws on this game! For my original thoughts, check here: https://spalanz.com/2014/06/20/weird-west-gaming/

Shadows of Brimstone

SOBS_Rulebook

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the official PDF of the Rulebook is now online for download:

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Lagoon

Enter the land of the druids…

Hey everyone!
Tuesday should, by now, only mean one thing – it’s game day here at spalanz.com! Aw, yeah! Unfortunately, I am feeling quite rough following a migraine that attacked me this morning; I’m dosed up specifically so I can come here and write something for my faithful readership, so it’ll only be short, but I hope it’ll be interesting for you!

Today’s little offering, then, is another kickstarter game that I backed earlier in the year but haven’t taken delivery of it yet: Lagoon.

Lagoon Land of Druids

The game is basically area-control, where players compete to tip the energy balance in a particular direction. At the end of the game, the person who has best-supported the dominant energy wins the game. During the course of the game, players explore the land of Lagoon by laying hex-tiles down to create a board:

Lagoon Land of Druids

Each hex has an ability that it grants, as shown above in the start-tile configurations. As the game progresses, players can use these abilities to alter the flow of the game and tip the balance in the way they want it. You can, apparently, also change your allegiance if things aren’t going all that well! It all sounds pretty good, anyway, and the fact it was 738% funded at the close of the kickstarter would tend to support this!

But aside from anything else, the game just looks so damn beautiful!

Lagoon Land of Druids Lagoon Land of Druids Lagoon Land of Druids Lagoon Land of Druids

Ah, wonderful!

There’s not a lot to excite the rabid kickstarter fans, in terms of add-ons and exclusives. Just one promo tile, so two new locations, and that’s that! Most of the stretch goals were all about making the components thicker, which in this sort of came would definitely be an advantage, but I must confess to having been a bit bemused at the time, as I wouldn’t have said that thicker tokens would be enough to drive up the pledges in the same way that additional content would, but it did remarkably well anyway, so what do I know?!

Lagoon Land of Druids

If you missed the kickstarter, keep your eye on the designer’s website for more details. The game is set for a September release, so I’ll report back once I’ve played a few games! Of course, it’ll (hopefully) be fighting with Fallen and Shadows of Brimstone by then…!

(As always, these pictures are not mine, but used for illustrative purposes only)

Fallen!

I shared this video a short while ago, when I first mentioned the kickstarter game Fallen, from Watchtower Games, but since the announcement that the game is now in full production, I’ve been almost-obsessing over it once again!

It’s not Tuesday, but I want to talk about games anyway. Maybe I’ll stop being so prescriptive with my blog, not sure yet. Anyway!

Fallen was the first kickstarter game that I got incredibly over-excited about. A rough count has my total games backed at just five, including the exceptionally exciting Shadows of Brimstone of course, but Fallen really deserves the credit for being the game that started me off in all this. The game looks ridiculously beautiful. I mean, if you haven’t watched the video all the way through – go back and do so, now!

The game will be quite unique in my collection, I feel. It’s a dungeon-crawler game, but it’s a card game, not a miniatures/board game. Out of the box it’s playable by two people, where one person takes the role of the hero, and the other that of the Dungeon Lord. Rather than physically moving a miniature figure through a series of dungeon tiles in the manner of, say, Descent, the game is played through a series of Story Cards which describe the rooms and challenges. The hero must fight his way through the creatures and spells of the Dungeon Lord until the two face off in a final battle.

The game also utilises a Shadow Track that provides some flux to the game, giving bonuses to the hero or the Dungeon Lord depending on how light and dark it is, respectively.

The more successful a hero is, the more stuff you “unlock” for that hero. There is a slight RPG feel to the game in this respect – along with magical items and power cards, experience points can give your hero new skills to help in the final battle. In a similar manner, the more successful the Dungeon Lord is against the hero, the more he can summon against that hero. The Dungeon Lord can also acquire Omen Cards that are particularly powerful. If the hero survives four Story Cards, that final battle begins and all craziness breaks loose in the showdown!

Fallen
I backed at Hero level

I’ve been following the progress since it was funded last July, and the demos at last year’s GenCon in particular showed the game to be extremely strong and fantastically-designed. It’s a bit of a shame that it has taken so long to come to full production, but at least we’re there now. I feel that I was a bit too harsh on the company when I first mentioned it, as I was feeling a bit frustrated that I don’t have the game already! But it looks like it’ll be a really solid game when it arrives, so I truly can’t wait to get it and start delving in the dungeon!

In addition to some awesome gameplay, the artwork is just gorgeous!

Chains of Ilthor Demon Lord Orc Shaman Sythean the Devourer

As usual for kickstarter games, there are a whole host of Stretch Goals and Add-Ons that came out of the campaign, which make me even more excited for it! The base game has a choice of three Dungeon Lords and three Heroes, but the ks extras add three more heroes and three more Dungeon Lords! Additionally, there are five new Adventure Packs, which include new Story Cards as well as cards for the hero and the Dungeon Lord, and an additional Final Battle Pack with new options for the endgame.

One of the biggest incentives I’ve noticed that people enjoy about kickstarter projects are the “exclusives” that make backing the game the more desirable option than simply waiting for it to hit retail, and Fallen delivered wonderfully in this respect with four additional Adventure Packs, so that’s even more Story Cards etc! Given the fact that the game is played primarily through the medium of these cards, that’s an unbelievable amount of content right out of the gate!

So roll on September, when I hope I will finally have this game in my hands, and maybe if I’m lucky, there will have been a couple of games played, as well! Can’t wait!

Fallen box cover

Gaming in the Weird West

Hey everybody! Welcome back to my blog! It’s been an exciting, history-filled week for me, but I thought I’d end on more of a gaming-geek note, following a very exciting email I had yesterday! For the 4000-odd of you who know – eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! For the rest, well, sit back and let me explain!

Shadows of Brimstone

Back in October 2013, Flying Frog Productions launched their first ever kickstarter project for a new game, Shadows of Brimstone. A massive dungeon-crawl game set in the Old West but with eldritch elements, the idea of the kickstarter was to launch an entire game line in one fell swoop, rather than bring out a base game with a series of expansions following for years after the fact. Anybody who understands dungeon-crawl games will appreciate having a mass of gaming components from the get-go is a huge deal!

Despite some controversy over the levels people could pledge at, not to mention a delayed start, the project was wildly successful, being fully-funded within 80 minutes of go-live. Stretch goals were no sooner added than they were reached, and the team blew through their projected goals for the project within the first week. But perhaps a lack of preparation from what is a really established company led to a lot of negativity, and indeed in the final minutes funding dropped as backers pulled out, making the project re-lock one of the stretch goals. But all that was back in November, so let’s not dwell on it!

From the word go, I was a huge fan of this idea. In the months leading up to the campaign I was admittedly dubious, largely because I didn’t really know what it was all about, but once I saw the kickstarter page I was completely sold, and backed it like I was a millionaire. Indeed, I’ve thrown thousands of pounds at this project, over-pledging ridiculously just to show my support for it! The upside, of course, is that I’ll have masses and masses of stuff to play with when the game arrives, so it’s a win-win for me!

Shadows of Brimstone

The rulebook is going to be posted soon, but back on TableTop Day the company gave demos and it looks insanely good. However, it’s Flying Frog, so was it ever not going to be? I never understood the amount of backers during the campaign who professed to play Last Night on Earth, or Fortune and Glory, and yet held some scepticism for this game. The lack of a gameplay video seemed to put many off, but I just didn’t get it. Some vindication has appeared in recent months, however, by people asking around online whether there’ll be any way they can get in on the game before it goes to retail. Muwahahaha!

Shadows of Brimstone

As a FFP game, it will play largely like A Touch of Evil. Rather than photographic card art, they are using a team of artists to produce art for the game, and it looks absolutely amazing! I’ve never had a problem with the photo art – heck, I’ve never had a problem with FFP! I just love their stuff, but this game is perhaps going to be the crowning achievement!

Shadows of Brimstone

The game’s premise is that you control a hero delving in the mines of the Old West in search of darkstone. However, other beings are also interested in darkstone, and are crossing the portals between worlds to find it! The game is being released in two core boxes, each with mine tiles, but with different heroes, enemies and Other Worlds to adventure in. I have two of each coming, because I pledged with two separate accounts to get the game twice. Ye-haw!

Shadows of Brimstone

The Other Worlds are simply amazing! From the swamps of Jargono to the icy Targa Plateau, the team have brought several others in stretch goals and add-ons such as the lava Caverns of Cynder, the war-torn land of Trederra, the Derelict Ship, and the Blasted Wastes. I think it’s these Other Worlds more than anything else that make this game so amazing to me, as I love the idea of exploring these places. However, there are also somewhat more generic mission packs that you can buy to give a different flavour to the base game of choice. As well as more monsters that can be slipped into any campaign, including the Ancient One!

Shadows of Brimstone

Once heroes have completed a mission, they can then level-up in the manner of a RPG, which is just far too cool for me to cope with right now! But as the mines are explored, you can get the opportunity to draw loot from the encounters you have that can potentially help you further down the line, but also XP, which allow you to level your character along one of your chosen talent trees in true RPG style! Fantastic stuff!

Shadows of Brimstone

I am basically really excited for this game – while A Touch of Evil is currently my favourite boardgame, I have the distinct impression that Shadows of Brimstone might in fact overtake this once it’s out. There is just so much that I’m looking forward to about this game, but I want to share some of the things that really tipped me over the edge during the campaign:

Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone

So, yeah! It’s looking pretty amazing! I just cannot wait to have it all in my little hands!

I’ll let you into a little secret, too. I’m going to be in the game! Well, not massively. There’s a map, apparently, that will bear a feature with my name. And my likeness will be used for a background character, apparently, too! Magnificent times! Maybe not as awesome as, say, having a hero personal to you, but I couldn’t afford that pledge level 😉

When August strikes (at least, I think it’s still on for August release), I’m going to do an immense blog on this game (mark your diaries, folks!). Well, I will once I pick myself up off the floor, because I’m going to be a gelatinous lump of excitement when it arrives, I just know it!

Shadows of Brimstone

 

I think it’s fairly obvious, but none of this material is my own property – I have shared it simply for illustrative purposes, for my adoration of the game, and for the fact it’s just so dang awesome! It’s definitely not my intent to breach any copyright, which remains with Flying Frog Productions.

It’s post 49!

Hey everybody! Welcome to my blog! Another Saturday is here, so it’s time for some more ramblings from me 🙂

I’ve got another week off coming up, so there’ll be lots of excitement to come! But first, a brief look at the exciting things that have been happening in the past week!

Empire and Rebellion

Yes, some completely unexpected news here from Fantasy Flight Games, who announced the standalone Star Wars card game on Thursday. Essentially a re-skin of the old Cold War: CIAvsKGB card game, it uses movie stills rather than original artwork. I quite like Cold War, as it’s a nice, quick game that is really fun. It’s also pretty cheap (I picked Cold War up for under a tenner), so it’s hard to say no, really.

SW01-cardfan-03

SW01-cardfan-02

The big and unexpected news this week came on Friday, when they announced Wave Five for the X-Wing miniatures game, but you can read all about that here.

Moving away from Fantasy Flight now, there’s another game that I’ve been looking forward to for over twelve months now that has finally had some exciting news – I’m talking about Fallen, by Watchtower Games. A Kickstarter project, I backed this game back in June last year and was absolutely overjoyed to see it funded to the extent that it was (598%, in case you’re wondering). At the time, it was estimated to have a December release date, then that was pushed back to February this year, then it was “summer”, but finally things seem to have firmed up again. It seems that the company, for whom Fallen is their first game, has taken an almost OCD-like approach to making sure the game is absolutely perfect. Fine by me, as I wouldn’t want a sub-par quality game, but it just seemed to get a bit ridiculous what they were doing. JUST GIVE ME MY GAME, ALREADY! So after weeks and weeks and weeks of email updates telling us that the card quality just wasn’t quite right, or the inlay wasn’t sufficient, or whatever, we finally had the email I’ve been waiting for on Friday – the game is being sent off to the printer! At last! I’ve backed this game as much as I could afford, as I was crazy-excited to get it in my hot little hands, so I’m now really excited. Only two or three more months to wait!

I haven’t mentioned my Star Wars reading of late. I’ve been reading the Jedi Academy trilogy by Kevin J Anderson, one of the earliest trilogies of Star Wars novels that I read. I have got to say, however, that I’ve not been enjoying it as much as I did when I first read it all those years ago. Primarily I suppose because it reads a bit too simplistically for me. Especially after the Zahn trilogy. While George Lucas had always said that he made the Star Wars movies “for young people”, the Jedi Academy trilogy seems to be aimed at an even younger demographic than George intended, I feel. When read in this respect, I suppose it’s not too bad, but otherwise, I do feel that it unfortunately misses the mark. Which is a shame, because I’m pretty sure I used to really like this trilogy!

The storyline follows Luke as he attempts to rebuild the Jedi Order following the resurrection of Palpatine and the discovery of more Force users during the Dark Empire shenanigans. He finds a remarkably high number of Force users in a short period of time, considering they were supposed to have been wiped out, and establishes a base on Yavin IV. Soon, however, he discovers the long-dormant power of Exar Kun slumbering within the temples, and when an extremely powerful student named Kyp Durron arrives for training, things take a turn for the worse. Kun seduces Kyp to the Dark Side, and with his help he incapacitates Luke and goes on a rampage against the Empire. Han eventually talks him out of it and everything seems to be resolved by the end. In the course of these events, Han also stumbles across a secret Imperial weapons-development facility near Kessel, guarded by Admiral Daala, a protege of Grand Moff Tarkin and the only female flag officer in the fleet. Daala goes on a rampage of her own before realising her outdated tactics are ineffective and she basically rides off into the sunset (though she will reappear later…) Leia has her own storyline where she tries to bond with her children, is given more and more responsibility in the government until an ailing Mon Mothma makes her the new Chief of State of the New Republic. And Lando goes to a blob race. I’m not joking.

Jedi Academy Trilogy

The events of the trilogy are actually really important, and it’s almost required reading for any Star Wars expanded universe fan if you want to know more about what happens later in the saga. However, I just don’t like the execution! Luke seems to be paralyzed by fear – while it’s likely that he would embark on training an entire Order of new Jedi single-handedly with some trepidation, I don’t think the hero of the original trilogy would be this down about it all. Leia is also reduced to being some sort of caricature – gone is the strong leader we saw in the films, this is a Leia who can’t do anything without her husband. I also thought we got a bit too much, I dunno, kiddie-time, as she tries to connect with her twins (who are now aged 2) and whatnot. While this sort of stuff is all necessary for character and whatnot, it’s not really what Star Wars is all about. I get the impression that, if Anderson had still had Vader to write as well, we’d see the Dark Lord as he struggles with oiling the joints of his mechanical legs, or something equally mundane. Star Wars shouldn’t be mundane, but we get too much of it here.

Kyp Durron…ah, what can I say? While every Star Wars author at this period seems intent on adding their own characters firmly into the storyline, most of the time this never really comes off. Tim Zahn’s additions of Mara and Karrde, Thrawn and Pellaeon just work, but there are others that just, well, don’t. Kyp Durron really rubs me up the wrong way, in a similar fashion to Corran Horn, who I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. Kyp is a teenager who has spent most of his life in the spice mines of Kessel, and when he declares some kind of aptitude for the Force he is tested by Luke and discovered to be absolutely amazing. Kyp turns to the Dark Side, flies around blowing stuff up, then it’s decided that actually, no, he didn’t turn to the Dark Side, but after a brief apology and some time spent looking more sullen than penitent, he is completely forgiven and, within the space of a few more pages, makes it to full Jedi Knight status well before any of the other students at the academy, who have been studying there longer. Basically, the impression I have is that Anderson loves Kyp Durron, and wants to put him into every kind of situation where he can show off just how awesome he is. The thing with him turning to the Dark Side feels like it was done just because Vader was a cool villain and Kyp needs to be cool, in a shimmery black cloak and crap. But then, no, he needs to be a Jedi so – I know, why don’t we say that it was actually Exar Kun who had such a powerful control over him, it wasn’t really Kyp doing all that bad stuff. So, uh, is Kyp so immensely weak that he can be controlled in such a way? Because, during Dark Apprentice, Kyp seemed to be pretty much in control of his own thoughts to me. Meh. It’s basically one of the worst Mary Sue characters in the universe. There are plenty more, of course – Bria Tharen instantly springs to mind – but perhaps the very worst part was the way Han was made to be his best friend/surrogate father. That just wasn’t the Han Solo we all know and love, no matter how much fatherhood might have softened him.

I feel that there is a way for authors to integrate their own characters into the saga with the movie characters, but this is definitely not it. If we look at Zahn’s books, we get to know these new characters on their own first, before we see them with the others. Plus, these characters aren’t perfect people, they have flaws – even Grand Admiral Thrawn needs to take time to think things through, for goodness sake! Xizor is another good example, from Shadows of the Empire. We see him within his own organization, we then see him with Vader and the Emperor, and it just feels natural, to the extent that we almost feel like we’ve known about Xizor and Black Sun forever.

But…Lando at the blob races… I just… urgh.

Anyhow!

I feel like my literary criticism is being a bit too harsh lately. First Dark Empire, now this, right?! I’m always really interested to see what other people think about these things, so please leave comments whether you agree or disagree with me!

I’m also currently in the thick of writing the next in my series of short stories set in the GFFA, which I hope to make available here tomorrow. I’ve spent seven and a half hours writing it today (according to the file properties tab), though it has largely been gestating for the past couple of days. I have some finishing touches I want to put to it tomorrow, but then it’ll be posted – as a sneak preview, it’s about an assassin…