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!

More Drizzt! More games! Just, more!

Hey everybody!
The last week or so has been filled with lots of awesome, predominantly from getting back to the amazing Legend of Drizzt series!

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Moving on to #Drizzt book 8! #D&D #novels

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I finally got back to this series, after a nearly two-year hiatus, back in March, when I read the end of book 6, and moved onto book 7, The Legacy. That was a really great read, you can see more on that here, but I didn’t move on to the next one until now. I don’t actually remember if there was a reason, but anyway. Spoilers incoming! Starless Night picks up the story of Drizzt and his friends in the wake of Wulfgar’s death, and begins as Drizzt decides to return to Menzoberranzan, to avoid any further drow incursions into Mithral Hall. Little does he know that Matron Baenre plots the destruction of the dwarven kingdom no matter what, of course, as we saw briefly in the last book. Catti-brie discovers Drizzt has gone and, determined not to see another of her friends needlessly die, heads off in pursuit. The two eventually meet up in the Underdark, and manage to escape the Baenre compound with the help of none other than Artemis Entreri, though their hearts are heavy with the knowledge that the drow are amassing for war against the dwarves.

While I enjoyed The Legacy, after all that time spent on the surface, I loved Starless Night. It is perhaps a little formulaic at parts, but as always with these Drizzt books, the execution is just amazing. Salvatore continues to develop the Underdark beyond what we have already seen from the Dark Elf trilogy, this time particularly as we get to see more inside House Baenre, the first house of Menzoberranzan. The Matron Mother is just as cruel and twisted as you’d expect, as are some of her children. Most interesting among them are Dantrag, the weapons master who wields a sentient sword. It was a shame that he didn’t make it through the book, but I suppose there’s little else you could do with a character like that. Triel Baenre, the mistress mother of Arach-Tinilith, is another intriguing character, and her scenes with the flamboyant mercenary Jarlaxle were always fun to read. Jarlaxle has a prominent role to play here as well, which serves to deepen his character.

The whole story was pretty great, with a terrific sense of foreboding, or “things are about to happen tonight”. Weirdly, I kept feeling a comparison with the finale to the third Harry Potter book, with that sense of wheels being in motion and whatnot. It was a great read, and I’ve since propelled myself into the ninth book, Siege of Darkness, which has been excellent so far – look out for that one to grace this blog very soon!

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The Beetroot Beefburgers, man they were good…

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Saturday was, of course, Independence Day, so to celebrate(?), I made burgers and watched American Dad. Not just any burgers, however! I came across a recipe somewhere for beetroot beefburgers and, being a lover of beetroot, had to give it a try! On reflection, I probably used too much, so they were a tad dry, but overall they were really good, and I will definitely be trying these again! Grating beetroot into the minced beef left my kitchen looking something like a crime scene, but even so! Very simple to make, just grate the beets into the beef (I used three with 200g of mince, one might be a better idea), mix in an egg, and away we go!

Marvellous!

Despite having multiple projects on the go already, this weekend also saw me make up some more Necron Immortals, along with Trazyn the Infinite. I’ve been slowly getting back into painting, as I’ve been trying to finish off the Canoptek Wraiths I started over a month ago. I’ve not gotten very far, unfortunately, but that seems to be the story of my life where big stuff is concerned – bigger than your average foot soldier, that is. I’ve had four Tomb Blades awaiting their finishing touches for ages now, as well. As I seem to be better at getting the smaller guys finished, I thought I’d make up some more, get them done, and then (hopefully!) get back into the swing of things that way. Miniatures painting is something that I really enjoy, after all, but has felt more akin to a drudgery of late.

Immortals

Trazyn the Infinite is perhaps the most hilarious of the special character models, with his backstory of wanting to preserve everything in the universe in his own collection. If I remember rightly, he has some weird ability that allows you to replace him with any other member of the unit he’s attached to when in combat, due to some kind of phase-shifting technology. He seems interesting, but more than that, I enjoy the special models for the fact that I can paint them with different colour schemes and such. That said, I’m considering doing something different with the Immortals this time, as well – the new golden paints coming out soon look very interesting, after all, so I think I might try something more special with these guys…

Immortals

This week has been pretty good for games, of course. Along with the announcements of new cycles for both Android Netrunner and Star Wars, we’ve had a new data pack for Netrunner as well as the inaugural pack in the Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings! There’s an interesting day/night mechanic in this one, and I cannot wait to try it out, but feel like I need to first play through the Lost Realm box. I’ve got all the quests sleeved now, anyway, so I’m ready to go on that front. No doubt there’ll be some posts here where I bemoan my performance…

I actually got a few games of Netrunner in at the local store again last week, with my tried and trusted Shaper deck, and lost both. But they were fantastic losses, so I can’t complain! Very thematic, so definitely lots of fun. I feel like I want to try out new decks now, however, as I spent one night reorganising my entire Netrunner collection. I usually keep LCGs in their expansion boxes, as it’s convenient and I like the packaging, but now FFG has moved to this horrible plastic nonsense, I’ve decided to change that, and have instead gone for keeping the entire cardpool in both core set boxes (I’m one of these who bought two core sets). So far it works, but I foresee a time very soon where I’m going to run out of space there, as well! Hm. At any rate, going through that reorganisation, and seeing the entire card pool for each faction all at once, has really opened up my eyes to the deckbuilding possibilities in the game, so I’m keen to explore with that, rather than continually playing my one Shaper deck.

We’ll see just how splendidly that works out, anyway…

Behold! The Dwarrowdelf!

Hey everybody!
It’s another game day, and time to look at some more of my favourite card game: it’s time to enter the Dwarrowdelf, in Lord of the Rings!

Dwarrowdelf cycle

This was the second cycle for the Lord of the Rings card game, published throughout 2012. Following on from Khazad-dûm, the cycle featured a thematic story whereby your fellowship begins the cycle escorting Arwen through the Misty Mountains, from Lothlorien to Rivendell, at which point Elrond asks you to investigate reports of unusual Orc activity within the Mines of Moria. The encounter sets use cards from the Khazad-dûm box, so there are lots of goblins here! The cycle also continued the theme from Khazad-dûm with increasing the Dwarf cards in the game, leading to a beautifully-synergised deck type. While the Hobbit saga boxes really rounded that archetype out for me, the cards from just this set are enough to make some very powerful decks that can be both fun to play as well as being wrecking-balls. I’m not going to talk much about the player cards here, as I tend to think of them as a separate issue – the cycle is all about the quests!

However, it would be remiss of me to do this blog without mentioning the Secrecy keyword. It basically lowers the cost to play cards, provided your threat is below 20. This seemed like such a difficult feat to accomplish for most of the cycle, and led to two-hero fellowships seeing a surge in popularity – particularly when packs one and two gave us the brothers Elladan and Elrohir, who have a wonderful synergy together. But then pack six hit, which I’ll talk about later, but which has a really hilarious built-in way to use Secrecy really well.

The Redhorn Gate

Dwarrowdelf cycle The Redhorn Gate

This one is pretty brutal.  The idea is that you’re moving through the tops of the Misty Mountains, escorting Arwen home to Rivendell. This is simulated wonderfully by having the tip of mighty Caradhras staring at you from the staging area from the very beginning, which you can’t travel to until you reach the quest card that makes it the active location, at which point it makes everybody -1 willpower. That might not be a bad thing, but there are so many effects here that remove people with 0 from the quest (or even, the game!), which makes this a really difficult one to overcome. Of course, you can use your Northern Trackers to place progress on it in the staging area and try to remove the threat that way, but that always just feels a bit like cheating to me. It’s a great quest, highly thematic, and one that I often find myself returning to for just one more jaunt through the mountains!

Road to Rivendell

Dwarrowdelf cycle Road to Rivendell

The second quest is similar to the first, as we’re still escorting Arwen to Rivendell. It introduces the new Ambush keyword, which sees enemies make an engagement check against everyone when they’re turned up from the deck – they’re usually quite squishy enemies, so you can usually kill them pretty handily, but their often-high attack might mean you won’t get to fight back! It also features what I think is the most controversial card in the entire game, Sleeping Sentry. This treachery card deals one damage to each exhausted character when it is turned up from the deck, then every other character is exhausted, so you can often see your fellowship fall apart when this card makes an appearance. If it’s played as a Shadow card, however, you must discard all exhausted characters – the potential for the game to end right there is huge, especially when the quest cards in this one have a massive amount of progress needed. It seems a bit lazy, but it’s also pretty thematic, when you consider the damage a sleeping sentry could cause to a small band of folks on the road. However, the almost arbitrary way it can cause the game to end if it’s turned up in that way has led to a lot of hate, but there are a lot of player cards that can deal with such things – remember, it’s When Revealed, not Forced, so you can cancel these things, but it can still crush your game, and remains my most-hated card in the game.

The Watcher in the Water

Dwarrowdelf cycle The Water in the Water

I won’t lie, this pack nearly killed my enthusiasm for the game back when it was first released, and in fact I would go as far as to say it has never returned to its former heights following the release of the Watcher in the Water. Having escorted Arwen to Rivendell as an Objective card, we now received the daughter of Elrond as an ally character that saw a lot of geekgasms back in the day. We also had our first repeat-hero, a new version of Aragorn that fits more with his persona as Strider.

This quest, however, was just a bitch to get through. I have since completed it multiple times, and while I wouldn’t say it was easy, it wasn’t as bad as that first attempt. There were just too many tentacles! I think I was completely enveloped within the first two turns, and just gave up in sheer frustration. There are two victory conditions here – either kill the Watcher, or solve the riddle on the Doors of Durin and enter the mines. The riddle here is to match the first letter of the top card of the encounter deck to any number of cards from your hand. If you have the Doors in your victory display, then you can win, which is perhaps easier than going up against the regenerating Watcher. Of course, if you’ve got a fellowship that can just tank its way through, then that might be the preferred strategy!

The Long Dark

Dwarrowdelf cycle The Long Dark

The fourth pack has gained a bit of a reputation for being a really easy quest, much like Hills of Emyn Muil in the last cycle, but it’s one of my favourites (albeit not, perhaps, in my top ten), due to the thematic nature of the whole thing. We’re back to the cave torch from Khazad-dûm, and lots of cards that once again emphasize the claustrophobic feel of the mines. There is also the Lost mechanic, which I find super-thematic here. Certain cards – mostly the new locations – make players take a Locate test, whereby you can discard a card from your hand to discard the top card from the encounter deck; if that card has a bold “pass” printed in the bottom-right, then all is well. If not, you can do it again, or else something bad will happen, and you’ll be forced to trigger any Lost effects in play. These effects are usually terrible, such as returning enemies into play or discarding allies, etc. It’s meant to represent losing your way in the dark, of course, and I find it comes together pretty well – the only thing I don’t like, of course, is how there aren’t many encounter cards in the deck to support it – much like the Escape test in The Dead Marshes, actually!

It’s a great quest, that also features an Objective boon that is the first since the Massing at Osgiliath. Durin’s Greaves give a +1 defense bonus to a hero, which can be really useful with the amount of goblins swarming around you! The idea of giving us useful stuff to find in the encounter deck would be reworked with style in the form of boons in the Saga expansions, of course, but while we have had such cards before, The Long Dark is, to me, the first time I’ve wanted to go through an encounter deck specifically to find something like this.

Foundations of Stone

Dwarrowdelf cycle Foundations of Stone

Without a doubt, the highlight of this cycle for me. Foundations of Stone sees our intrepid fellowships broken up, as we’re washed away part-way through the quest! There are essentially two encounter decks here – a sort of generic thing made up of cards from Khazad-dûm that you’re most likely sick of seeing by now, then, following the splitting of the party, the specific Foundations of Stone deck, which features all sorts of horrible things as we find ourselves in the very depths of the mines of Moria. It’s a terrific mechanic that sends each player to his own staging area, a mechanic that has been reprised a few times since in fact, though as I only ever play this game solo (by choice, actually), it doesn’t have much of an impact.

We get two more Objective boon-cards that make us work for them this time, but more important than that, we get the Lovecraftian Nameless Things in this scenario! When this pack was first announced, I thought it was a hilarious counter to the Zigil Miner controversy that I mentioned in the Khazad-dûm blog. If you remember, the Zigil Miner gives you resources equal to the cost of cards he turns up from your deck. At this time, the meta saw players pack their decks with expensive cards to maximise on this effect – only to then have these Nameless Things swoop in and attach cards from your deck to them, the cost of which dictating their attributes. So we suddenly see people facing Elder Nameless Things that can deal 15 points of damage, because you have expensive cards in your deck – it was great! Having never seen the point in being a power gamer, I permitted myself a hearty chuckle at that, I must admit.

Regardless, Foundations of Stone is just an amazing experience, and I highly recommend this one!

Shadow and Flame

Dwarrowdelf cycle Shadow and Flame

The final pack rightly has that feel of encountering the big boss in a video game, as we go up against Durin’s Bane, the mighty Balrog of Moria! This is actually a real pig of a quest, I’ve always found, and as such I have never really attempted it. The object of the game is to defeat the Balrog by pushing it into the Deep Pit, the only way to remove it from play. Indeed, the new keyword Indestructible was brought into the game specifically for the big guy, ensuring that he would never be killed, even if you managed to deal the enormous 30 points of damage it would take! Unfortunately, Deep Pit only enters play through quest card effects, so you need to quest as quickly as possible, but Durin’s Bane is considered engaged with every player and, with an engagement cost of just 1, will be attacking you each and every round. The one respite is that, upon setup, your threat counter is set to 0, kinda giving you a free pass – and, as mentioned earlier, giving you the perfect time to play those Secrecy cards!

As always, if the regular game doesn’t hold enough challenge for you, there are Nightmare decks available for all six of these scenarios, giving you more hurdles to overcome than ever!

Dwarrowdelf cycle Nightmare Decks

I had the dubious pleasure of beta-testing these, though the group was organised into six, with one person having a scenario – and lucky me, I got Shadow and Flame! However, it’s a trend I’ve noticed with a lot of the Nightmare scenarios for this game whereby the new deck improves greatly on the original design. That’s not just to say that the original deck wasn’t really that good, but the Nightmare cards merely bring even greater synergy to the deck, and increase that feel of playing against a real person, or whatever.

It would be easy for the game designers to make the scenario harder by throwing in some really tough enemies, some high-threat, high-quest locations, and a couple of treacheries like Sleeping Sentry. However, these 18-19 cards have a meaningful impact on the encounter deck as a whole, and serve to enrich the gameplay experience, even if they also feel much more impossible to beat. Shadow and Flame in Nightmare Mode is a great example of this, as it includes cards that can attach to Durin’s Bane like weapons, making him a much more interactive enemy than he once was. Of course, that’s probably not what you want to see, but I can appreciate a well-made deck even if it’s being used against me. The other scenarios also have more tweaks that make them play more focused and such, as well.


I’ve had my ups and my downs with the Dwarrowdelf cycle. When it first came out, it nearly quashed my enthusiasm for the game, as the quests would get ridiculously difficult to play through with the cards available at the time, should you play thematically as I do. Indeed, if I’d written this three years ago, I’d likely be ranting about how this game has been killed by the power-creep. Over time, this has naturally diminished – especially since the new Dwarf synergies that came out with the two Hobbit Saga boxes. As a result, I feel that I can now enjoy these games for what they are: some highly thematic games with some truly immersive experiences. Don’t get me wrong, these quests can still prove to be a real challenge, and I still get beaten by stuff like Redhorn Gate, but I don’t think I would talk anyone out of getting this cycle for their collection.

Shadows of Mirkwood is still my favourite, and I think the roleplaying aspects of Against the Shadow might mean that cycle is also up there, but Dwarrowdelf has some awesome and epic moments to commend it.

Definitely worth the time returning to the Mines of Moria!

4 months off!

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4 months off!

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Yes folks, I’m very excited to say I now have four months off from the degree, following what I hope was a very successful exam on Thursday! Considering I’d been very worried about the whole thing, I felt it went really quite well – hopefully I won’t be speaking out of turn, anyway… I don’t get the results until mid-July, then I start the third year stuff in October, so I’m hoping for a restful, though productive, summer.

Android Netrunner Data and Destiny

I was really excited by this coming up last week over on FFG’s website, though the website is currently returning a 404 error on what seems like every news link, which is… odd. The fourth deluxe expansion for Android Netrunner features cards for NBN and three mini-factions for the runner, which seemed like too much of an awesome idea, let me tell you!

Android Netrunner Data and Destiny

The designer interview talks about wanting to have different options for the Runner faction without creating a traditional Neutral Runner. It was really interesting, anyway, and I hope the 404 error is just a minor glitch and not part of some nefarious scheme following a negative backlash about this. Online, everyone seems to be really excited about this development, anyway! As someone who has only ever played the Runner, I’m excited by this, anyway!

This past week has also seen some more LCG packs released, which look pretty interesting, alongside a preview of the fifth adventure pack in the upcoming Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings. The final pack in the cycle is still my favourite, but even so, this whole cycle should be one of the finest they’ve ever produced.

Lord of the Rings has been on my mind a lot recently, too, as it’s a game I still don’t get round to playing often enough. Sigh, etc! I’m hoping I’ll have the time at some point to go over my decks and take a look at some of the adventure packs that haven’t seen any play yet – there are still plenty of them, disconcertingly!

On the subject of games, anyway, this Tuesday sees a very special game come under the spotlight of awesome – that’s definitely one to keep an eye open for!

At any rate, prepare for some exciting times as the summer gears up!

Hack into the future

Hey folks!

Welcome to another game day here at spalanz.com! Today is fairly interesting, if you’re a fan of card games, as I’m taking a look at another of the LCGs from Fantasy Flight Games: it’s the turn of Android Netrunner!

Android Netrunner

This was the, what, fifth LCG released from FFG, a spectacular game that really exploded onto the scene at GenCon 2012 and, from what I’ve seen, hasn’t really lost that momentum. It’s a game based on the Netrunner game from the 90s, a game that was created by Richard Garfield (of Magic: the Gathering fame) and gained something that sounds like a cult following. It’s not a game I ever thought I’d be interested in, but it won me over about two years ago, and it’s definitely something that I enjoy playing.

However, I wouldn’t call myself an expert, not by a long shot, so this blog is intended more as my assorted thoughts rather than anything particularly insightful!

And so…

Android Netrunner

Android Netrunner is an asymmetrical game for two players, where one person takes the role of a Megacorp and the other plays the Runner, trying to hack into the corp’s servers looking for agenda points to steal. The corp, on the other hand, is trying to score these agenda points, and the first player to gain 7 points wins.

The game really shines in how the theme is reflected in the mechanics. Rather than go through the game-play myself, I shall defer to the tutorial video from FFG, which does a far better job of things than I ever could!

As I said, it’s a game that won me over, primarily because of the theme that comes through here. I’ve not been able to play it that often, sadly, and in fact the last time I played it is getting on for a year ago. Shocking!

First of all, I really love the corp mechanics. Even though I’ve never actually played the corp, I love seeing the strategy evolve of putting down Agendas – or bluffing with Upgrades or Assets – and protecting the whole lot with Ice, which the Runner then has to try and assess where best to run at.

Android Netrunner

 

I play Shaper most often, because I love the whole ethos behind the faction and all that. Not that they’re a goodie-type of thing, but it’s just the whole idea of modding their deck, trying to make some really cool stuff out of what they have, and it’s a much more interesting way to play. The Criminal faction has its moments, but the whole thing about snagging credits lends itself more to a support faction to me, while the Anarch thing has always been really annoying for me to make it work. Anyhow!

Android Netrunner

Something that I found a bit confusing for a long time – and even now, because I don’t play it all that often – is the terminology employed. I play a lot of card games, if you haven’t noticed already, but because this game refers to everything by different terms, even the rulebook can be a bit difficult to follow at times. For instance, when playing the Runner, you don’t have a deck, a hand and a discard pile; you have a stack, a grip and a heap, respectively. Furthermore, the Corp has R&D, HQ and Archives! Play areas are called the Rig (for the Runner) and Servers (for the Corp), too. While these things do help with the theme immersion, I still get a bit confused and, consequently, frustrated when playing this, as cards will reference stuff that I need to stop the game to look up what it means.

 

There is a lot of strategy involved in the game, a lot of which I must admit goes over my head. I’m not the most strategic of players, especially in games like this where there’s too great a chance that what I’m building towards will just be destroyed. For instance, a common Runner strategy is to wait until you get a full rig of icebreakers installed before you run, whereas I tend to go for the more effective strategy of just running as much as possible, even if I don’t have the credits to buff icebreakers, or if I haven’t even got any icebreakers out. The corp needs money to rez cards, so if you can drain those resources then go for it!

Android Netrunner

Something else I like about the Shaper faction, however, is the ability to merge icebreakers, almost. So you can get your ‘breaks code gate subroutine’ icebreakers, but there are cards you can play that give the ice you’re running against the code gate type, which is really useful. Or the Alpha and Omega icebreakers, which just break ice subroutines, no matter what their type. Wonderful stuff!

Android Netrunner

It’s unusual for me that I actually really enjoy the deckbuilding aspect of this game, almost as much as the game itself. I play a lot of card games, as you may have gathered by now, and while I don’t particularly dislike the effort that goes into making a deck for games like Lord of the Rings or Call of Cthulhu, it’s definitely different for Netrunner, I have to say. It’s almost like there’s a level of artistry or somesuch that goes into putting together the perfect rig, and then seeing it all pull together (or, y’know, not…) And this is another aspect of why I like Shapers so much – while the other Runners feel like they concentrate more on tricks and altering the game to their own end, the Shapers are more focused on playing the actual game, and playing it perfectly, like a well-oiled machine.

There’s an excellent article over on the FFG site, Get What You Want, When You Want It, which explores the Shaper faction in more detail – I can highly recommend it for a look!

To date, there have been three full cycles of expansions, along with two deluxe expansions, the latter focusing on specific factions only. The cycles have been doing some interesting things, I must admit. I find it quite intriguing, actually, that the game was initially designed with three supporting cycles. The first cycle – Genesis – gives each faction a new identity, while adding more cards that strengthen the base game, while the second cycle – Spin – starts to explore specific tactics, such as bad publicity for the Corp, and introduces the ‘double’ event, cards that have really useful abilities but have two distinct costs, such as the credits cost and a click. The third – Lunar – cycle brings more new identities along with more tactics that the designers specifically tried to mess with the established game meta.

Some really great stuff is explored here, and it’s always pleasantly surprising to see how the game expands. We’re on the cusp of the fourth – SanSan – cycle (at least, I haven’t actually seen it released here in the UK yet!), which promises to have more exciting rules to create a deeper experience, though I’m not yet sure if I’m going to continue with it, as I’ve not really explored the cards from the previous cycles yet! However, the new Shaper identity does sound intriguing…

I really like this game, though I’m in no way an expert! It’s something that can be really rewarding, even when you’re the loser, and I can highly recommend it to anyone, though if you like dystopian universes and card games, you’ll love it. That said, if you like those things, you’re probably playing this already…

Android Netrunner

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!

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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!

New Games!

Hey folks!

Exciting times are afoot as we take a look at the latest round of updates and news coming from FFG this past week! Let’s delve right into it, starting with something that has me very excited: the next expansion for Eldritch Horror!

Eldritch Horror Strange Remnants

Strange Remnants is the second small-box expansion for the game, and appears to follow the example now set from Mountains of Madness by giving us something from left field. Rather than another mythos god to go up against, the ancient one in this expansion is Syzygy, the cosmic alignment. I find this still very fitting with Lovecraft, though, given his emphasis on “the stars align/are right” and whatnot, though like a lot of people, I was expecting something like Hastur or Nyarlathotep.

The expansion brings a “mystic ruins” encounter deck, which allows us to explore new parts of the board much like an expedition, from what I gather, and are linked to the main locations through new location cards for the main game. Always good when we get more to add in! We also have four new investigators, which I remember was a cause for disappointment in Forsaken Lore. However, I wouldn’t say it’s something I’d necessarily need from a small box.

Available in Q3 probably means no new big box this year, which, for me, is the only downside to this news! I’m very excited!

Talisman The Harbinger

Talisman is a game I don’t get to play too often, but really enjoy all the same, so it’s great to see a new expansion for this guy, too. I seem to remember a lot of talk, back when the fourth corner expansion had been announced, that the end would soon be nigh, but thankfully not! However, this expansion seems riven with doom and despair, as the players need to avoid the Harbinger and prevent the End Times! In this respect, it seems to be similar to the Reaper and the Blood Moon expansions, where you have a figure that interacts with the board and characters in a specified way. Interesting stuff, anyway, and definitely something to look forward to as the year goes on!

Star Wars Imperial Entanglements

Card games now, and Star Wars LCG has finally had the next deluxe expansion announced! Well, I talked about this a short while back, but it’s now here and beautiful! Focusing on the Empire and Smugglers, we’re getting lots of interesting stuff here, I must say. New Tarkin and new Chewbacca are showcased in the announcement, and look like they’re coming with some really powerful cards, so that should be interesting to see how the game changes once this hits in the third quarter.

Sadly, I still can’t convince people to play this one, and I can’t work out whether this is due to the fact the game isn’t very good, or if there are just better games out there. I remember a lot of talk about how people were more interested in Warhammer Conquest than this one, and I still feel that it was overshadowed by being launched so close to Android Netrunner. Given that they have the licence for Episode 7 material, I’m vaguely expecting to see a new card game launched to tie into that, and this one dropped. But anyway, it’s still one that I enjoy, and I still buy the Force packs for it in the hope that one day I can play it!

Lord of the Rings The Land of Shadow

No such trouble playing Lord of the Rings, which has had the next Saga expansion announced this week, mere days after the last one was released. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches! We’re back to Frodo and Sam, of course, as we follow the second half of The Two Towers.

I’m very excited about this one. I’ve always found the Gollum/Sméagol thing a tour de force in character development, and was particularly intrigued to see just how it has been implemented into this game. The answer, of course, is incredibly well! A double-sided enemy/objective-ally card, which can interact with the game for good or ill, this is something that I truly can’t wait to get my little hands on!

I’ve still only taken my first step in the Saga experience, of course, but we’re gearing up to a long Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, with traditional weather for such (ie, rain), so I’m sure there’ll be ample opportunity to come closer to the fires of Mount Doom…