Games updates!

Hey everybody!
I may be in the middle of moving house, but I’m still trying to keep abreast of all the goings-on in the games world! There is, after all, quite a great deal happening in the world, and I feel like it’s a glorious time for us nerds as we move into the summer.

First up, I want to talk about Lord of the Rings, and the first pack preview for the upcoming Vengeance of Mordor cycle.

After your adventures in A Shadow in the East, Dorwinion seems to be bright and beautiful, free from the taint of evil that the mysterious cult had swept over the land. After a month of peaceful travel, your band of adventurers have made their way back to the capital city to enjoy one last night of the citizens’ hospitality before returning home. You are glad for the rest, but your thoughts cannot help but drift back to the horrors you witnessed in the shadow of Mordor, and wonder whether the evil has truly been rooted out. 

Your fears are confirmed when you awake in the middle of the night to the sounds of clashing steel and cries of fear pouring in from the streets. The enemy has gotten Inside the Walls. Thane Ulchor, a traitor to Dorwinion, has returned to the city with an army of Easterlings. His agents within the city slew the guards and opened the gate to let them in, and now the battle rages in the streets. It is up to you to defend the helpless citizens, support the city guard, and push back the invading forces before the city falls into the clutches of darkness.

I feel very much like this cycle is setting itself up a little like Against the Shadow, which was an urban cycle focused on Gondor, and began with a pack set in the city with the task of rooting out a traitor. While comparisons can be made with controlling locations and Assault on Osgiliath, I think this one could be quite interesting, with the locations you control having effects on them that remain in play even after the card has left play.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of this pack is the new Tom Bombadil ally card, which is shuffled into the encounter deck if you manage to play a copy of the Tom Bombadillo! card from your hand. It’s an interesting way to bring in an ally like this – previously, they’ve been included in the encounter deck as Objectives. It’s exciting to see that the game is still bringing us new ways to play, even this far in the game’s history.

I’ve not been playing Lord of the Rings nearly as much as I’d like to this year, though I have rediscovered my love for the adventure card game with Arkham Horror LCG, and recently picked up the Return to Night of the Zealot box from my local store. While I’ve finally made it to playing The Dunwich Legacy, I think it might be fun to give this one a try and see how much more difficult the additional cards make things!

I’m still not caught up with the current cycle, which I think has now seen the final pack released, but I am looking forward to the next box already, as it looks really interesting with its dual-planes of play. I’ve already talked about this in a previous blog, of course, but I really need to catch up with this game and put some time aside to really investigate what it has to offer. I mean, it’s really not that I dislike the game, it just doesn’t seem to have the table-time that I think it needs. Symptomatic of the times, of course, as I don’t seem to be playing anywhere near as much as I’d like. I guess I’m mainly painting miniatures these days, which brings me on to…

Warcry, the skirmish game set in the Mortal Realms, the game I’d nearly forgotten about with everything else going on, has had another warband revealed, and it is just weird!

The Unmade are just…well, weird! They look like some wonderful Drukhari experiment or something, and I can probably see myself getting hold of some of these models simply to paint, though I’m not sure if they’ve taken the spot of the Iron Golems as my favourite.

They look… I don’t know, almost too-40k. Especially that elongated champion-like figure. Very much John Blanche-esque, make no mistake!

They could also make some useful Cultists for 40k, thinking about it…

Model of the set is probably this chap with the chain, though. The models coming out of Nottingham these days are all pretty amazing, but the sense of movement in these warbands is just phenomenal, and I thought it just looks really, really cool!

Where the hell did this come from?! Talisman: Batman?! Not only a re-skin of the classic game, but a Super Villains edition, where you navigate the hallways of Arkham Asylum, evading Batman to free the inmates! Sounds hilarious, and it’s always interesting when you have the opportunity to play as the villains!

I’m actually trying to thin out the boardgames collection once more, as space is currently at a premium while we get settled in the new house and prepare for the arrival of the firstborn, but it is definitely very tempting, I have to say!!

Core Set 2020 is now out, with no real storyline as such (well, it’s a Core Set, so…) but focusing on the life of everybody’s favourite pyromancer, Chandra Nalaar. The set focuses on three-colour wedges, which I like because it’s the first time we’re seeing this since Tarkir block, the set that I really started playing in. I’ve not played in prerelease, of course, but I would like to get my hands on some of those cards for my decks!

There is always something quite nice about a new Magic set, and especially seeing a Core Set again. I’m really trying hard not to fall into the spiral of the cardboard crack, but Magic is probably the best one-on-one card game experience I can think of, so I think it will always be there in some form, and I enjoy collecting at least a few cards from each set and seeing what I can do with them!

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…

Talisman

Morning everyone!
It;s the first game day of 2015! I’d hoped to get this out before Christmas, but in the event life took over, so instead, I’m presenting to you all now: Talisman!

Talisman

It’s the classic fantasy adventure board game, as the box itself tells us all – it’s been around for decades now, of course, and the current iteration is the revised 4th edition of the thing. Having only played this edition, I’m not in a position to comment on the others, but wanted to share some thoughts with you all today all the same!

Talisman

Players choose from one of fourteen classic hero archetypes, such as wizards and assassins, and travel around the board building up this character before they can take on the central challenge – the Crown of Command! The board is divided into three regions – outer, middle and inner – with travel between them only possible when you’re at the appropriate level. While travelling around the board, you will most likely draw an adventure card that will often offer a challenge that, when defeated, becomes a trophy:

Talisman

Combat is determined by rolling a die and adding the strength value (or the craft value if engaged in psychic combat) of the two participants to the result – whoever has the higher score is the winner, with draws resulting in a stand-off. If the hero wins, the creature is killed and can be claimed as a trophy – the dragon above is worth 2 trophy points, as signified by the number in the bottom-right. If the creature wins, the hero loses one of his lives. Talisman can be quite brutal, and heroes can simply die, depositing all of their possessions on the space for another character to come along and collect.

Enemies aren’t the only type of adventure card you can draw, however –

Talisman

The talisman is of vital importance to the game, as without it, a hero cannot enter the central area to stand a chance of winning. Characters can also gain spells through encounters, which can aid them in combat as much as weapons or other items.

TalismanTalismanOther spaces on the board can be encountered with special effects, such as the city:

Talisman

These corner spaces sometimes allow players to buy items or heal, etc. All characters have an alignment, and some spaces have specific effects based on whether your hero is good or evil:

Talisman

Indeed, it’s not just spaces – some objects can only be used by good or evil characters, and some events have specific effects, such as the Devil pictured above. The game comes with double-sided alignment cards, as heroes can also change their alignment throughout the game.

As I said before, the object of the game is to make it to the central space of the board. First, players must cross into the middle region by defeating the Sentinel in combat:

Talisman

After this, the inner region is entered via the Portal of Power:

Talisman

You either try to pick the lock or force the door, with a failure resulting in a loss of 1 from either Craft or Strength. If you make it through, however, the inner region awaits!

Talisman

Heroes move through the inner region one space at a time, and can only access the Crown of Command space from the Valley of Fire, so there are at least four spaces to go through beforehand. Each space has a different effect, usually brutal, so you’ll want to make sure your hero is strong enough to survive! Finally, to enter the Valley of Fire, a character must have a Talisman, otherwise he is forced to turn back.

Talisman

The object of this game is essentially to be the last man standing. When on the Crown of Command space, a hero then casts the Command Spell, rolling a die. If the result is 4, 5 or 6, every other character loses one life, until everyone is eliminated. However, if another hero catches up to you, you must fight them on the space – yes, Talisman also has player vs player combat rules! Another way to fight and gain your opponents’ stuff!

Perhaps the most hilarious aspect of this game – for me, at least – is the opportunity for players to be turned into toads. Yes, people, you read that right!

Talisman

There are certain effects, such as an encounter with the Witch, which will turn your hero into a toad, a condition that will last for three turns. You take a replacement hero card, as shown above, as well as the miniature, and move just one space, encountering the board with your diminished, amphibian stats. When those three turns are over, you resume your hero, minus anything lost while you were in your amphibious state. Delightful!

Talisman

I love Talisman, I have to say! Unfortunately, the game can go on for quite a while. In fact, it can go on for hours on end… the box suggests an hour and a half, but my first game was virtually double that. Left unchecked, you can just keep going around the board, adventuring and the like, without heading for the real goal. Sometimes, I like games like that, as all-too-often I find myself a little cheated by adventure games that have a built-in timer that prevents me from really, well, adventuring. However, there has to be a limit, and in Talisman you’re largely reliant on other players directing the flow, as you race to be the first to level up, in order to be the first to the Crown. If you’re playing with folks who are more leisurely, then it can be a bit of a problem. Personally, my usual gaming buddy likes to attack other people, and has no interest in being first to the Crown. It’s not a problem, per se, it’s just a bit of an irritant.

But that aside, the game is nevertheless an awesome adventure. Originally a product of Games Workshop, Talisman was taken over in its fourth edition by a different company, with Fantasy Flight Games taking over in 2008 and revising that into the version we have today. Being FFG, there are of course expansions aplenty, including big-box expansions that add a new, smaller board to each corner (and the Dragon expansion, which has a new board overlay for the inner region), and smaller, card expansions that bring a new theme to the game. All of these come with new heroes, meaning there is a plethora to choose from if you pool them together. Whether anyone would pool all of the expansions seems a bit silly, as the game would be huge… (I’m sure some enterprising people have a table – or floor – big enough, of course…)

At the time of writing this, I have all but the latest (Woodland) expansion, though I’m sure that’ll be in my collection soon enough. As the year wears on, you can bet each of these expansions will be making an appearance on my site, anyway!

As far as fantasy games go, it’s pretty damn great. It’s not a Runebound, of course, which is still my absolute favourite of the genre, but it’s a game that you can enjoy with friends as you trundle around the board, fighting dragons and gaining strength before trying to kill everyone else on the adventure. It’s simple, straightforward fun!

Talisman