Exciting times!

Hey everybody!
It feels like there is a lot of excitement in the air at the minute for anybody of a geeky disposition. We’re almost a month away from a new Star Wars movie, for starters, but the slide into December is always packed with so much awesome that I really should look to setting up a savings account specifically for the purpose…

I’ve been watching the second international trailer for Rogue One, which does subtly differ from the last official trailer released last month. It’s always cool to see new bits, and I’m certainly feeling pretty excited about this movie right now: I think, more than anything, it just looks fantastic. It has the Classic Trilogy sense of style but with today’s technology making more possible within that setting. Sure, I mentioned this in my musings on the first trailer, where I thought it would make the movie make the original films look shabby in comparison. However, I don’t think that will be the case any longer; maybe I’ve mellowed over the past few months!

While the story of the Death Star plans has been done to death in the old canon, I’m actually looking forward to this movie for giving us the definitive story around that. It’s a fascinating part of the Star Wars lore, and while some of the trailer seems to have some bits that look overly cheesy or cliche, I’m still looking forward to what promises to be an overall good film.

I’ve pre-ordered the lead-in novel, Catalyst, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it as it’s by one of my favourite Star Wars authors, James Luceno. I’d been thinking I might keep the book to read closer to Christmas, but I might not be able to wait that long, so there may be a review coming in sooner than you think!

Speaking of trailers, I’m still super hyped for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie next year! I won’t deny, I was kinda speechless when it first dropped, as it looks like it should be everything we could ever want from such a movie. I still haven’t seen Batman vs Superman, so have nothing to really go on (though by all accounts, her role was somewhat limited in that movie). But these trailers look incredible, and I heartily cannot wait for it!

But let’s talk about some games for a minute.

Picked this bad boy up today! #ArkhamHorror #cardgames #Lovecraft #Cthulhu

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I picked up the new Arkham Horror LCG the other day, and it does look kinda fantastic, I have to say. To date, all I’ve done is take the cards out of the airtight bags and quickly ruffle through them, but I’m hoping that, once I’m caught up with my degree, I’ll be able to try it out and see what all the fuss is about. I’ve been subscribed to the page on boardgamegeek since it had one, and have been astonished at the amount of new posts created for it, talking about the minutiae before it even landed. It was akin to the Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder ACG, and I’ve considered unsubscribing because of it! I’m sure it’ll die down in time, however.

Speaking of the Pathfinder ACG, the fourth box, The Mummy’s Mask, has apparently been released, though I have yet to see it for sale in the UK. Of course, I haven’t really been trying all that hard to find it, but even so! I’ve only recently made it to the end of the first adventure pack in the Rise of the Runelords game, of course, so I’m hardly chomping at the bit for the next box, but it does look amazing!

Android Netrunner Terminal Directive

Last night, FFG announced the next expansion for Android: Netrunner, Terminal Directive. The article doesn’t have a great deal of information for how exactly this expansion works, but it looks to be extremely similar to the Pandemic Legacy stuff that involves game components opened and used at specific points of the game/when specific conditions have been met. I’m not surprised that another company has used this idea, because it seems to be doing well for Z-Man Games, though I am surprised that it was used for a living card game rather than a boardgame.

The implementation aside, I think the idea of having a game of Netrunner where your actions have consequences for a campaign is really interesting, and I hope I can get in on this when it starts…

Along with the Arkham LCG, I also picked up the final packs for the latest Lord of the Rings cycle, as well as the final pack for Warhammer Conquest! I do feel kinda sad that the game is over now, but talking about it down at the local store, it sounds like the game isn’t quite dead yet, so I can still try out my Slaanesh demons deck now that we finally have a warlord for the Dark Prince!

I still haven’t played with any of the new Lord of the Rings cards, unfortunately – it doesn’t seem so long ago that I would eagerly be playing through the latest pack no sooner had I gotten my grubby little mits on it! I’ve mentioned it on this blog fairly recently how I want to get back into playing this game with more regularity, so I hope that I can make that a thing soon! All of my free time at the moment seems to be taken up with either working on my degree or painting up little plastic guys… I do feel like I need to get back into gaming though, that’s definitely been sliding of late…

Week off, day one!

Hey everybody!
I’ve got a week off work, so I’m looking forward to doing a whole lot of nothing for a week! Today has been a great start in that respect, and despite feeling like I’m coming down with a cold, I’m happy to report that I’ve had a really productive day for painting! Full details will be revealed on Sunday’s painting progress blog, of course, but hopefully I can continue in this vein and get a lot more progress with my ongoing projects!

Sat down with this bad boy today, and I've gotta say, it was fantastic! #GamesWorkshop #WhiteDwarf

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I also had a chance to catch up with the latest issue of White Dwarf, the first in the new monthly iteration of the magazine. Relaxing this morning with a coffee, I perused the pages and was pretty blown away by a lot of what’s going on in here! I mean, the Eldar Biel-Tan army of the month is just stupendous!! I really enjoyed the idea of the Tale of Four Warlords, and kinda wish I could do something similar, but I know I just don’t have the dedication for that. The blue Nurgle stuff was really interesting, though! There is a lot in this magazine, and I can highly recommend it to anyone looking for some hobby goodness – but it’s more than likely you’ll have gotten a hold of this already if you’re looking for that!

Lots of painting has been happening, which is really exciting as I’ve actually finished painting some guys. Aside from this, I’ve also been checking out the latest news coming from over in Nottingham, and the leaks around the Genestealer Cult stuff coming from this weekend!

I’m surprised to say that I’m kinda looking forward to this! Having a lot of the miniatures anyway from the Overkill boxed game, I think I might pick up the Codex anyway, but I’m not so sure yet. I’m also not sure if I’d want to pick up any of the additional kits, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see on that score. I think more than anything, I’m just excited to see some of the more side-event things happen for the main game, anyway!

I’m also excited to see the next Horus Heresy boxed game coming, from the leaked cover of the November WD. Not really a fan of Mark-III armour, but I do like the Thousand Sons, so I suppose I’m looking forward to it for that. I wasn’t entirely sure about Betrayal at Calth until I actually saw the unboxing, and eventually got two boxes, so I’m expecting that I’ll be buying this one when it comes out. Though if Blood Bowl is also coming out for Christmas, this may be a fairly tall order…

In other news, I’ve started to work on a new deck for Lord of the Rings LCG, which I haven’t played for a long while now. I haven’t really used a lot of the new cards – heck, I’ve not bought any of the new cycle yet! – so I want to really investigate what’s going on there. I’m hoping, as the week goes on, that I’ll get some games in with this thing, then who knows, maybe a future game day blog or something might feature a look at it!

So, a really productive start to the week, and yet also really quite restful, which is always a good thing. I hope this sets the tone for the week!

Time for a change…

Hey everybody!
It’s Tuesday Game Day here at spalanz.com, and time for a bit of a ramble, I think. Not that my other blogs aren’t a ramble, of course!

For over two years now, I’ve been writing about some of my favourite games every Tuesday, but I thought I might try something a bit different today and just talk about gaming more generally, see how that goes. I’ll keep doing game blogs, of course, but maybe once in a while I’ll do more of these, sort of casual things.

First of all, I wanted to talk a bit about what games I’ve been playing lately. I’ve not actually had a lot of time to play games unfortunately, though have had a couple with some 40k-themed stuff. Notably some more glorious defeats in Space Hulk: Death Angel, which is pretty par for the course with that game, and also Conquest – including my first victory with my Necron deck! I’m a bit behind with the latest war packs, so I’ve been using Anrakyr the Traveller rather than having the new Illuminor Szeras, who I’ve been looking forward to for a while, but managed to get in a victory a short while ago when I played at the local store against a Space Marines deck that was pretty badly put together. But it’s a victory, and I’m not going to deny myself that!

Fun fact: Anrakyr was the first #Necrons character I painted! #WarhammerConquest

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I’ve fallen behind with the expansions, though – I’ve only got the first two packs from the new cycle, while FFG have just announced the fourth is available! Eek! I haven’t really been buying a lot of games lately, however, and have fallen behind with quite a few things, Lord of the Rings also being a case in point. I haven’t gotten to play much of that game lately, so I guess it’s no big deal, but still!

While there doesn’t appear to have been much announced for Conquest – I believe there’s currently a conspiracy theory doing the rounds that FFG and GW are about to part ways – I am impressed with the next cycle announcement for Lord of the Rings: we’re going to Harad! Back when Heirs of Númenor was announced, I was hoping we’d be seeing more from the Southrons, and while it’s taken a while, we’re finally getting there!

The Sands of Harad

In terms of fantasy settings, I think the desert locale is vastly under-used, and so cannot wait to see what’s in store for us here. The mechanics sound really interesting as well – paired traits that buff each other sounds to me very much like the dual-colour deck thing from Magic, of course. The effects of the temperature sound really intriguing, hopefully it’ll be super cool, anyway! Something I found very interesting from the expansion’s announcement was how the article didn’t include any information about the upcoming cycle, which made me speculate at the time that maybe it was moving to a distribution model similar to that Call of Cthulhu adopted before it was finished, of deluxe expansions only. However, we’ve recently also had the first look at the new Haradrim Cycle, which sees us trying to capture Oliphaunts! Oh, my! I’ve been away from this game for too long, but I think this upcoming expansion is going to be exactly the thing I want to get me back into Middle Earth with aplomb!

Something else I haven’t gotten round to yet is the new Eldritch Horror expansion – I’ve been eyeing it up, of course, but my local store had a shipment that came without the character cards, and it seemed to take forever for them to send replacements. I think he’s only recently put it up for sale, but I haven’t really had the money to get it, what with spending on more Warhammer kits! Seeing as how there probably isn’t going to be a new expansion out for Christmas this year, however, I think I might wait and get that one for myself then – it’s hardly the same as a big box thing, but it’s Eldritch Horror, so it’ll do! I haven’t actually played Eldritch Horror for a long time, sadly, so will have to try and change that soon!

Since my two-year anniversary with the Warhammer stuff, I’ve been mainly focused on the building/painting of minis, of course, and I tend to go along with these things lately – particularly given how many kits I have unbuilt and unpainted! I’ve actually been super-busy on that front, as I think last weekend’s hobby progress blog shows. Just been on something of a production line for building and priming models, which is probably going to keep me going through the winter, anyway!

Which leads me to…

The main gaming thing that has been on my mind for the last few weeks has been getting properly into Warhammer 40k, though. I may or may not have mentioned that my local GW store has been running a sort of mini-campaign-type-thing that starts off small and allows you to build up your army over time – it sounded perfect for a beginner like myself, and I actually got myself a list prepared of a Necron Overlord and two troops of Immortals, but due to work commitments have so far missed both events!

I am, however, really keen to get going with this whole thing, so I’m trying to arrange a suitable time with one of the guys from the store to get me in a learning game soon – stay tuned for that!

Conspiracy 2

As I get back into Warhammer, I seem to have lost my momentum with Magic once more, though these games tend to wax and wane for me, so I’m not too bummed at having spent a lot of money on snow-covered lands lately! I’ve kinda been following the spoilers for the second Conspiracy set, though I’m not really planning to get involved in drafting that, primarily because Draft has never actually interested me, though. I still have a bunch of decks built up, including a lot of Standard decks that I’m still somewhat keen to try out, but haven’t managed to play much of the game whatsoever since the Eldritch Moon prerelease last month.

I’m still planning to go to the Kaladesh prerelease next month, however, as that was a really good time!

It saddens me a little when I realise, I have probably the two most expensive gaming hobbies ever: plastic and card crack. But y’know, they’re enjoyable, so I’m not going to complain too loudly!

Anyway, that’s probably it for this blog, I don’t like to ramble on too much of course! I think I might try to change up the feel of these Tuesday blogs in the future, though, as just blandly talking through a game’s components can be, well, pretty bland. Might try and get some kind of game-report type of thing (I did try it once, of course!) or something. We’ll see. Anyway, hopefully if you made it this far, you enjoyed it (don’t be afraid to leave a comment!), and I’ll see you all in the next exciting installment!

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!

New stuff! And not-so new stuff!

Hey everybody!

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

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

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

mec42-fan

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

whk09_cardfan

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

Speaking of Necrons…

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

Necron Lychguard

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

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

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

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…

The Game

Following yesterday’s look at the awesomeness that is Lord of the Rings LCG, I thought it might be nice to actually look at the Core Set itself!

Lord of the Rings LCG

As discussed yesterday, the game is structured around encounter decks, each of which give the expanding game an entirely new flavour. In the core set, there are three scenarios that work as introductions to the mechanics of the game.

Lord of the Rings LCG

Passage through Mirkwood is the first, and serves really just to introduce how the game works. The objective of the game is to, well, take a trip through Mirkwood – harassed by spiders and the like. It’s now thought of as a “training scenario”, with most experienced players using it to teach the game or test out new, outlandish decks. I do enjoy this one, all the same, and it’s always really nice to come back to after a break, some of these cards are classics! It’s also worth noting that the first scenario in the entire game was also the first to use the idea of multiple stage-cards, requiring players to choose a random one (such as Flight from Moria, for instance).

Lord of the Rings LCG

Journey along the Anduin is one of these scenarios that manages to hold itself up to the widening card pool. Again, some wonderful, classic cards – including the Marsh Adder, which dates back to the very first promotional article on FFG’s site:

Lord of the Rings LCG

Ah, memories!

Finally, we have Escape from Dol Guldur!

Lord of the Rings LCG

This is, again, one of the classics. During setup, a player chooses one of his heroes to be “captured”, and you’ve got to rescue the poor unfortunate. For quite a while in the meta, this scenario was the absolute worst, because of this impossible starting handicap. Even at the remove of three years, it can still be pretty brutal. There’s a really good blog here that discusses strategy, and another one here that details the cards you’ll be coming across, but it can still be an awful game – particularly solo.

Escape from Dol Guldur is the first scenario to use Objective cards. Over the course of the game’s development, the designers have used these Objective cards for a variety of purposes, so it’s interesting to see them here as real objectives that you need in order to complete the quest. To this day, I feel this third scenario is one of the most unique out there, and while I have yet to actually make good on my escape, I nevertheless hold this one in high esteem!

But the core set is only the beginning!

Of course, there are a whole host of expansions for the game (27 packs in general release, with 20 print on demand quests, as of October 2014), but I can’t take a look at each of the core set scenarios without looking at their Nightmare equivalents!

Back in 2012, Fantasy Flight brought Lord of the Rings into their organised play schedules through the use of “updated” packs of familiar scenarios. The initial idea seems to have been to make earlier quests harder, but the designers have since explained that Nightmare Mode is meant to simulate a growing card pool as would happen in a head-to-head game. From the summer of 2013, adjustable difficulty levels were introduced to the game, which makes it appeal to a wider group of gamers, I suppose. Anyhow – Nightmare Mode, while it was actually an official variant back in the original rule book, requires a set of cards that are produced on a print-on-demand basis, meaning you need to sleeve the encounter deck if you want to play. The cynic in me feels that players wanting a more testing experience are tested in more ways than one, but let’s not go there!

Lord of the Rings LCG

The three scenarios from the core set have all been updated, and all are suitably nightmarish in these new incarnations!

Lord of the Rings LCG

Passage through Mirkwood features a lot more spiders, so an arachnophobe such as myself has a whole other difficulty playing this one. I remember when I first played this in Nightmare Mode and being really shocked at how much the pressure was on, right from the off!

Lord of the Rings LCG

Journey along the Anduin sees yet more trolls, and generally more enemies to pile up in the staging area during stage 2b. And oh, the hilarity of the misprinted Brown Water Rats – I seem to remember a lot of players thinking the fact that virtually the entire game effect being missed out during printing card 8 in this deck meant you’d essentially have a free draw. Ah well.

Lord of the Rings LCG

Escape from Dol Guldur is even more vicious in Nightmare Mode, with a distinct flavour of its own. Nightmare Mode has seen a wonderful re-invention of many scenarios in the game, and this one is no different. What was already a brutal scenario becomes something of a race, as the mechanic of adding tokens to Dol Guldur locations is introduced – the Torture Chamber on the far left of this picture will cause the players to lose the game if four tokens are on it, for instance. Brutal!

The three core set scenarios are lots of fun, and are often maligned, in favour of the later releases, as being simplistic or whatever. But they’re the scenarios that helped to get all us fans into the game, remember, so they have something going for them! It’s always lots of fun to look back at them, whether a high-level glance as I’ve just done here, or getting the cards out for a game.

Which I feel I might just do now…

Buy it from amazon:
Lord of the Rings LCG
Passage through Mirkwood Nightmare Mode
Journey Along the Anduin Nightmare Mode
Escape from Dol Guldur Nightmare Mode