No longer Standard: Innistrad

Hey everybody!
There’s a distinctly horror-filled theme to game day blogs this month, as we approach ever-closer to Halloween and, today, I thought I’d share with you all a deck that I’ve built for Magic the Gathering that sees a lot of stuff I never thought I’d use in a deck! We’re headed to the plane of Innistrad, where vampires and werewolves prowl the night, and it’s all the people can do to invoke the angels to keep them from harm!

Innistrad

Innistrad block came out across 2011-12, and features the expansions Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored. As per usual, we had several new mechanics featured in the block, the most famous of which being the double-faced cards. These cards have no card back, but instead feature a day and night side, with text that describes the conditions under which the card turns from its day to its night side (and sometimes, night to day). The card never leaves the battlefield, so any auras or counters remain on that card after its transformation. The mechanic was predominantly used on human cards that transformed into werewolves, though there were a couple more instances (including a knife that turns into a demon).

This really serves to highlight the gothic horror theme of Innistrad, which is perhaps one of the most flavourful sets ever released for Magic the Gathering. There are predominantly five tribes explored over the cards in the set, each tribe belonging to an allied colour pair: the aforementioned werewolves in red and green; vampires in black and red; zombies in blue and black; spirits in white and blue, and humans in green and white.

Innistrad

Innistrad, as a horror-themed set, also featured graveyard mechanics such as Flashback (first seen back in Odyssey), as well as wider graveyard strategies in general. Morbid was a mechanic that granted creatures benefits if another creature died this turn. Dark Ascension continued the horror theme by giving us Undying cards, which triggers when a creature without +1/+1 counters on it dies, bringing the creature back with such a counter. Fateful Hour is an ability that triggers if your life total is 5 or less, often providing a last-minute boost for creatures in some way. Despite often being overlooked, I think this mechanic is one of my favourites purely for the theme!

Finally, Avacyn Restored brought more new mechanics, including Miracle, a card that could be cast for its Miracle cost if it is the first card drawn that turn – the card frame was changed slightly to show that the card was a Miracle card, and led to players doing that weird sliding the card across the playmat towards themselves to ensure the card didn’t hit their hand before they cast it. Soulbond allows you to pair a creature with another creature, and both of them get a specific ability as a result. Both mechanics featured across all colours except black, which saw a return of the Undying mechanic and an emphasis on controlling just one creature (as the opposite of Soulbond).

Innistrad block is widely said to be one of the best in Magic’s recent history, with many people praising the theme as well as the play environment. There are a lot of notable cards from the set, though perhaps overwhelmingly worth mentioning here is Liliana of the Veil, the second Liliana planeswalker card, and a card that is widely agreed to be the second most powerful planeswalker in the game.

MTG Liliana of the Veil

Sadly, I don’t have enough kidneys to sell to afford a Liliana of the Veil, so the deck I’ve been tinkering with for a while is centred instead on one of the Angel cards from Avacyn Restored: Bruna, Light of Alabaster.

Bruna, Light of Alabaster

Bruna is a blue/white angel who can draw all of the auras to herself from across the battlefield, graveyard and your hand whenever she attacks or blocks. It’s an interesting mechanic that I had originally given some thought to much earlier in the year – back when I was in my Commander phase, as it happens! I do like auras, despite the fact that you risk losing them all if the creature they’re stuck to dies, and have collected up quite a few across my collection. In addition to this, I wanted to try out making a deck that focuses on Humans, a tribe that I usually don’t bother with as I prefer the more fantastical creatures on offer! So, looking through my Magic collection at the Innistrad-block cards specifically, I came up with this deck as a sort of Angelic Humans blue-white aggro thing:

Creatures
Alabaster Mage
Bruna, Light of Alabaster
Captain of the Mists
Elgaud Shieldmate (2)
Goldnight Commander (2)
Goldnight Redeemer (2)
Gryff Vanguard (2)
Herald of War
Lunar Mystic
Nearheath Pilgrim (2)
Tandem Lookout
Thraben Valiant (2)
Veteran Armorsmith
War Priest of Thune

Enchantments & Artifacts
Angelic Accord
Call To Serve (2)
Divine Favor
Holy Strength (2)
Tricks of the Trade (2)
Scroll of Avacyn (2)

Instants & Sorceries
Break of Day (2)
Ghostform (2)
Glorious Charge (2)
Inspired Charge
Mass Appeal (2)
Skillful Lunge (2)

Land
Forbidding Watchtower
Glacial Fortress
Island (7)
Plains (8)
Seraph Sanctuary (2)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster

It’s nothing special, but there are some fun things going on there that make me happy, so I can’t complain too much! I do want to look at the mana base some more, and there are a few cards I’d like to include to further help the strategy (Champion of the Parish is top of that list!) But I thought I’d play with this thing first, and see where it takes me from there!

Innistrad is definitely one of those sets that has stood the test of time, with plenty of flavourful cards that I find myself coming back to time and again. Well, I do love me some vampires!!

Planechase

Hey everybody!
It’s game day here at spalanz.com and, if you follow me on instagram, you may have seen that I recently bought myself the Planechase Anthology box that came out at the end of last year. (If you don’t follow me there, why not?!) While I don’t always like to have a glut of similar stuff on my blog in one go, I wanted to feature this on a game day blog despite Amonkhet being released officially at the end of this week, so prepare for cardboard goodness for a while!

Planechase is a variant format for Magic the Gathering that is similar to regular games in almost all respects, except for the addition of a Planar Deck of ten cards that each player uses alongside his or her regular constructed deck. These cards are usually Plane cards, featuring a location and artwork from one of the many iconic locations found across the Multiverse, though there are also Phenomenon cards that can crop up. Planar decks consist of ten cards, no two of which can have the same name.

Planechase was originally published in 2009, with four products that featured 60-card casual constructed decks, and four ten-card Planar decks. The constructed decks were almost entirely reprints from earlier Magic sets, but also included four preview cards for the upcoming Zendikar block. These decks were five-colour, red/white, red/green, and mono-black. In 2012, a new set of four products was released, with new Planar cards and the new Phenomenon cards, alongside four 60-card casual constructed decks. Unlike the 2009 set, Planechase 2012 introduced a slew of 21 new cards that were legal in eternal formats, several of which became popular enough to receive multiple reprints over the last few years.

Magic the Gathering Planechase

What is the Planechase format?

At the start of the game, the first player reveals the top card of his or her Planar deck, and that card’s effects take place across each player’s turn. Some cards, such as The Academy at Tolaria West, have an effect that takes place throughout the turn, whereas others, like Orzhova, only trigger when you Planeswalk away. To Planeswalk, you roll the special Planar die, and if you roll the Planeswalker symbol (that fork thing), the active plane is put on the bottom of its controller’s deck, and the player who rolled the symbol gets to reveal the top card of his or her own Planar deck. You can Planeswalk any time you can cast a Sorcery spell, and for each additional time you choose to Planeswalk on your turn, you must pay one additional generic mana to do so. There have been a total of 86 Planar cards printed for the game, all of which are included in the Planechase Anthology, and depending on how you’ve built your Planar deck, it could form a hefty part of your strategy to Planeswalk multiple times in the game to ensure you get to use those effects.

Four sides of the Planar die are blank, and have no effect in the game, but there is also the Chaos symbol (the weird colliding-planes thing), which triggers the Chaos ability of the active plane if it is rolled. I’d say that the Chaos abilities on the Plane cards can be the more beneficial reason to keep them in your deck, and sometimes, you might not want to Planeswalk away too soon. Chaos abilities use the stack, and so can be responded to if you need to.

Magic the Gathering Planechase

As well as including all of the Plane and Phenomenon cards ever printed for the game, Planechase Anthology includes four 60-card decks from the 2012 edition of the game. While the 2009 edition were all reprints, it would have been nice to have had both sets of the constructed decks, not least because those decks include hard-to-find things such as the Mirrodin Artifact Lands, Cabal Coffers, Phyrexian Arena and Master of Etherium (although Wizards has been reprinting many of these things in products like the Commander pre-cons).

At any rate, the four decks included are each led by a legendary creature, and I know that Maelstrom Wanderer at the very least is pretty much a Commander staple. The cards in these decks are really nice to have, and while I mentioned earlier that some of the newly printed cards have since seen reprints, there are still ten that have only ever been printed in Planechase 2012 or else here in Planechase Anthology (Elderwood Scion; Felidar UmbraFractured Powerstone, which is admittedly somewhat format-specific; Indrik Umbra; Krond the Dawn Clad; Preyseizer Dragon; Sai of the Shinobi; Sakashima’s Student; Silent-Blade Oni, and Thromok the Insatiable). In order to buy the four legendary creatures and the rest of these cards that have never since seen a reprint would cost just over £30 as of the writing of this blog – importantly, that’s the price to buy this printing of the singles, as well; some cards like Silent-Blade Oni and Maelstrom Wanderer have a significant premium attached to their actual 2012 printing. I feel really pleased, then, that I actually managed to pick up this box of cardboard goodness for £60 from my local game store in Wrexham, which is cheaper than every other place I’ve seen. They originally reduced it in January to £80, and I did consider getting it at the time, but I’m really glad that I waited!

While I’m sure that, in time, I’ll be pulling these decks apart and making all kinds of weird and wonderful things with the contents – or else adding in different things to change them up and whatnot – for now I quite like the idea of using it almost as a boardgame. Much like I have kept the duel decks that I’ve bought intact, I like the fact that I have a collection of decks that are designed to be played against each other, and require little more than pulling off the shelf and shuffling up before I’m playing.

Game stuff ahoy!

Hey everybody!
I’ve been missing out on a lot of new game stuff coming out over the last few days and weeks, so following the news about new 40k yesterday, it’s time to get caught up!

Magic the Gathering Commander

So first of all, we’ve got Commander 2017 coming on 25 August. August? I always thought these things came out later in the year! Well, anyway, Bank Holiday weekend will no doubt be full of digesting all of that stuff. Four new pre-constructed decks coming, based along a tribal theme rather than the usual colour-based design, I’m excited for this for a number of reasons. First of all, getting four will be cheaper than five, and since the C16 decks have sold out so quickly and I’ve missed out on at least the Atraxa one, I’m planning to buy all of them this time around just in case. Secondly, I love tribal stuff, so I’m sure there will be a lot here that I’ll enjoy. Definitely looking forward to seeing what’s going on here!

The Commander Anthology is of course coming out in June, and that’s something else that I’m feeling the need to pick up before it becomes impossible to find a Kaalia deck once again.

We also know the name of the next set after Hour of Devastation: Ixalan! It has that vaguely Mesoamerican sound to it that came through from the “leaked” packaging a while back, though with a different name. Hopefully it’ll still have that sort of aesthetic and will be wonderful, anyway!

Iconic Masters will apparently be a thing, but crucially the Reserved List is going to remain unviolated and intact. While I’m a huge proponent of allowing people to play the game rather than supporting people who want to hoard the components of a game and not use them for their intended purpose, I’ve recently changed my mind and have come to appreciate the fact that having a Reserved List adds a depth to the game that elevates it above its competitors.

And, I don’t think I want to actually play with cards like Kukemssa Pirates, Tracker or Boris Devilboon. I’m sure there are plenty of more interesting cards on the list (dual lands, anyone?) but by and large, I’m actually content to have the new stream of cards coming out.

Legend of the Five Rings

Let’s move over to FFG now, and their Legend of the Five Rings LCG!

Another famous CCG from back in the day, L5R is being reimagined as a LCG from Fantasy Flight and is due out at the end of the year. It looks like a really interesting game, a bit of a cross between A Game of Thrones and, well, Magic. I’ve noticed that I’ve been buying fewer actual games lately, partly because I’m saving up to buy a house, but also I’ve been throwing a lot of money at Magic singles. L5R looks like it should be a good experience, so I’m actually looking to get this thing and see what it’s all about!

We’ve got the next deluxe expansion for Arkham Horror LCG, while we’re on the subject of the living card games now, The Path to Carcosa. I mean, first of all this expansion has already been spoiled on the internet by a European game shop (I believe), so I suppose it’s about right for them to show it off here before too much thunder has been stolen.

I’ve not actually been delving too much into Arkham Horror LCG since I first played through the core set at Christmas, but I’ve picked up a couple of the expansions that have come out since, so really should get back into this game. It seems to have been really popular locally, and the boardgamegeek forums are lighting up daily with threads, so a part of me is slightly concerned that it might actually overtake Lord of the Rings LCG soon, because –

The final Saga expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG has finally been announced, and it looks splendid! We’ve got two scenarios that follow Frodo and Sam through the spires of Cirith Ungol and to the fires of Mount Doom, with the third depicting the clash on the Pelennor Fields. I am really excited to see this box, even might get me playing through the entire Saga at last!!

Ever since The Black Riders was announced, there have been rumblings about the future of Lord of the Rings LCG, with an almost consensus being that the game would lose a lot of momentum once we dump the Ring into Mount Doom. I’m hopeful that FFG will have room for two co-op LCGs in their stable but, given that they have previously cancelled one LCG in order to start up another (Warhammer Invasion for Warhammer Conquest, for example). If Lord of the Rings hasn’t got anything further to offer once we’ve been to The Mountain of Fire, and it will be retired in favour of Arkham Horror.

As much as I would love to see more content for years to come, and as much as I’m concerned that we might not see this happen, I’m sure my wallet will be relieved to have one less game to pick up each month!

Runewars Miniatures Game

Runewars has been released, and while I haven’t actually dropped the £80 on a core set, I have actually been tempted by that Rune Golem model. It does actually look pretty decent, though, and I’m concerned that my resolve will waver if I walk into my local store and it’s still on offer there! But the fact that I don’t know anyone who has even expressed a passing interest in the game has managed to keep me away from it for the time being. Maybe at some time I’ll see if I can get a demo in, and see what it’s all about.

FFG have already announced the Latari Elves expansion for the game, which I find funny, so I might actually be tempted to get it if they bring the Uthuk Y’llan out and they also look as good. For now, I’m resisting, though!

DC deck building game Rogues

It’s been a while since we’ve had anything new come out for the DC deck-building game, but finally the next Crossover pack is apparently out and available, so it’ll be time to try and sniff that one out soon enough. We’ve also got the artwork for the next Crossover pack, Birds of Prey. The Multiverse Box has recently had another preview over on the Cryptozoic website, showing some of the new content that will be coming out in the box, which is really exciting! Anything that just adds depth to the game is always welcome by me, anyway! Looks like there are elements from the Crisis packs being ported over into the more standard game, which I like, so I’m excited to pick that up, anyway!

Conquest of Nerath

Hey everybody!
It’s game day here at spalanz.com, and in celebration of my blog’s third birthday this Friday, I’m making this Fantasy Week! What better way, therefore, to celebrate, than with a game set in one of the most archetypal fantasy universes ever conceived: Dungeons and Dragons! Okay, so I’m not going to be looking at the RPG itself, having never played it, but instead, I’m taking a look at one of the stand-out board games from the product line: Conquest of Nerath!

War has come to the Dungeons & Dragons world! In the north, the undead legions of the Dark Empire of Karkoth march against the fragile League of Nerath, determined to sweep away the human kingdoms forever. To the south, the infernal Iron Circle launches its own goblin hordes in a campaign of conquest against the elves and corsairs of Vailin. From the snowy expanse of the Winterbole Forest to the sun-warmed coasts of ancient Vailin, four great powers struggle for survival.

Conquest of Nerath

I’ve only actually played with this game once, back in 2013, and had an absolute blast! It’s basically the sort of area-control game that is a lot like Risk for those familiar with more mainstream boardgames, where you control a faction from the D&D world and attempt to take over the board as much as possible. The board itself is beautifully illustrated, and each of the four factions comes with a whole host of miniatures that represent the hordes they can bring to bear, from foot soldiers and siege engines to warships and storm elementals!

Rather than me go through the rules of the game here, let me present Rodney Thompson, one of the D&D lead designers from back in the day, and who has presented a load of video tutorials on D&D games:

The game is a lot of fun. It looks deceptively complex, as there are a lot of pieces on the board, from all of those miniatures to all of the tokens and cards involved, but the rules are actually really streamlined, allowing you to focus more on the narrative and fun, than on game mechanics and such. There isn’t a great deal of magic involved, aside from the wizards’ First Strike rule and, I suppose, the way some Event cards work, which also helps to keep the game straightforward. Each faction has the same sorts of units, and yet feels quite different in the way they play, which also adds to the ease of gameplay.

Conquest of Nerath

Of course, what would a D&D game be without, well, dungeons or dragons? The dungeon delving aspect of the game is one that adds a lot of the flavour of the setting that I think is otherwise missing from the game. The four factions, while being traditional fantasy tropes, are just that – tropes. The dungeon guardians, however, include some of the more iconic D&D monsters and villains, including the Beholder and Drow Raiders. Defeating these guys will give you the gold to buy reinforcements, as well as treasures to use in your battles against your enemies, but the mechanic is crucial, for me, to keeping the game on-theme overall.

Conquest of Nerath was released in 2011, and aside from one promo treasure card released at GenCon that year, there has never been any kind of expansion for it. Which is absolutely fine, when you think about it! So many games in my collection have been expanded unto death, it feels oddly satisfying to have a game that is completely self-contained like this, and the strategic depth involved in your conquest is something that can keep the game going.

Highly recommended!

Aether Revolt

Hey everybody,
It’s game day here at spalanz.com, and today marks something of a triumphant return for me to Magic the Gathering, having taken almost the whole winter off from the game. I’m always quite conscious of the fact that I seem to have some extremely expensive hobbies within the niche of hobby games, but I still enjoy the fact that they’re by far some of the most immersive. With all that said, let’s get started!

Aether Revolt

Aether Revolt is the second set in the Kaladesh block, and the 73rd expansion for the game in total. It came out in January but, unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention until last week, when I thought I’d take a look and buy a couple of packs to see what I’ve missed.

Kaladesh has seen the Gatewatch confront Tezzeret for his corrupt dealings as head of the Consulate on that plane, as well as delving into the backstory of Chandra (being, as it is, her home plane and all). Whereas magic is fairly prevalent on other planes, here all of that is kinda replaced by the aether that is used to power all of the automata of Kaladesh. There are some corrupt goings-on between Tezzeret and the Gatewatch, and Ajani shows up to lend his aid, becoming yet another member of the team.

This whole Gatewatch thing is a bit… gimmicky, I feel. I want to like it, but it just feels like they’re trying to formalise things between the Planeswalkers in a not too subtle copy of something like the Avengers or Justice League. I get that, but I just think it could have been done better, if it had to be done at all. I mean, Planeswalkers have worked together before without needing to create some kind of grand alliance. But it does mean that we get new Oath cards for each Planeswalker that joins… Hm!

In terms of new rules, I’ve already discussed the Kaladesh stuff back in the day; Aether Revolt adds a couple of new mechanics, Improvise and Revolt. Improvise is basically the same as Convoke from back in the day, using Artifacts to tap for generic mana rather than Creatures. Revolt is an ability word that will have a specific effect if a permanent you control leaves the battlefield that turn. They’re interesting enough, without shaking things up too much – precisely the sort of mechanics we’re now used to seeing from smaller sets in a block.

Anyhow. Kaladesh looks like a very pretty plane, with a lot of filigree on the automata that grace the plane, and I remember seeing some of the promotional stuff going on back in September that really went to town with this, and it looked awesome. However, it does all feel a bit overwhelming, and I’ve not really delved too far into any of that stuff. What has been interesting to me, however, is the new Aetherborn tribal stuff from the block, and partly why I’ve chosen to write this blog today!

aetherborn

Aetherborn are a by-product of the aether refinement process, apparently, and only have a short lifespan as their bodies dissolve into the aethersphere. However, they can sustain themselves by leeching off of others, and thus naturally fit into Black. Indeed, some of them have the subtype of Vampire, which somehow has become my favourite kind of tribal deck to play in Magic! So I’ve naturally found myself drawn to these guys.

I’ve been half-fiddling around with a black-white Aetherborn deck, though it’s not quite there yet. I’ve since seen The Mana Source’s mono-black Aetherborn deck, which looks like it might be a lot better than mine, and I do have all of the pieces, so I might go down that route before long. There are some other things that I’ve been tinkering with, but I’ve not really looked into anything beyond this with any kind of seriousness right now. Bearing in mind that this is very much a first-attempt and hasn’t been played, this is the deck I’ve come up with for Standard right now:

Creatures
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Kambal, Consul of Allocation (x2)
Ironclad Revolutionary
Syndicate Trafficker
Aether Poisoner (x2)
Weaponcraft Enthusiast (x2)
Vengeful Rebel
Midnight Entourage (x2)
Aetherborn Marauder
Night Market Aeronaut
Maulfist Squad (x2)
Night Market Lookout (x2)
Gifted Aetherborn
Dhund Operative (x2)
Countless Gears Renegade (x2)
Noxious Gearhulk

Artifacts
Implement of Improvement (x2)
Renegade Map
Servo Schematic
True-Faith Censer
Mobile Garrison
Aethersphere Harvester

Instant 
Tidy Conclusion (x2)
Rush of Vitality (x2)

Enchantment
Hidden Stockpile (x2)
Call for Unity

Land
11 Swamp
5 Plains
Sandstone Bridge
Forsaken Sanctuary
Concealed Courtyard (x2)
Inventors’ Fair
Shambling Vent

It’s more black than black-white, which may make you wonder why I’ve got so many plains and dual-lands in there. Well, insurance. I’ve played far too many games of Magic with two-colour decks, and have been completely screwed on the right colour despite having what the internet has told me is “the right number” of the secondary colour. So I’m going more even than necessary, just to be on the safe side!

There’s a bit of a +1/+1 strategy going on with the Aetherborn here, as well as some classic black-white drain and gain style stuff. Deathtouch is a wonderful mechanic and I like to include it wherever I can, and so many people seem to dislike lifegain that I can’t help but include it whenever possible! This is by no means going to be winning me any notoriety, but I think it’s a decent enough starting point for getting back into the game after a couple of months off!

Speaking about starting points…

Aether Revolt

In addition to getting some packs of Aether Revolt, I’ve also bought one of these Planeswalker Decks, or whatever they’re called – the things that replaced Intro Packs back when Kaladesh launched in September. Back when these things were first announced, I was a bit optimistic, but I’m not so sure these days. Having bought the pack, it’s a nice way to get some interesting new cards, and I think the Tezzeret Planeswalker card in this pack is perhaps a little more useful than the two from Kaladesh, but even so, I don’t think I’m going to rush to try and build a deck around him.

While many people don’t seem to rate the Planeswalker decks, such as The Professor’s pretty damning review here, I liked Intro Decks, and I think I still like Planeswalker Decks, as you can pick up a bunch of cards for fairly cheap. One of my favourite things to do with Magic is build weird decks with lots of commons and uncommons, and I never really go too much for the splashy things that require me to spend a lot of money. Sure, you probably won’t have much fun if you buy these things and attempt to play them against other folks, though I always had a lot of fun playing Intro Decks against each other, and I imagine that these new iterations will have a similar experience. You can then use them as a base to trade up throughout the block, swapping out the “splashy” Planeswalker for the version that is part of the block and still benefiting from the uncommon card in the deck – for example, I can swap out Tezzeret, Master of Metal for Tezzeret the Schemer, and still benefit from the lifedrain of Tezzeret’s Simulacrum. (Tezzeret’s Betrayal would have to go, though). In fact, I think I might try and see how far I could take this Tezzeret deck!

Star Wars Miniatures

It’s not-quite May the Fourth! So in celebration, I wanted to showcase an old favourite of mine, Star Wars Miniatures!

Star Wars Miniatures

This tabletop miniature wargame was produced by Wizards of the Coast back between 2004 and 2010, partly in support of their RPG. The game featured 34mm miniatures, and was a collectible game that was distributed through blind-buy booster packs of little plastic minis. Sixteen sets were produced over the six years, featuring miniatures from right across the Star Wars universe, from Knights of the Old Republic to Legacy-era.

The game itself was fairly straightforward. Miniatures come with a stats card, which shows the abilities of each mini, along with the Hit Points, Attack and Defense ratings, and how much damage they deal in combat. Each mini also has a points cost, with which you can build squads for the skirmish game in something approaching a balanced manner.

Star Wars Miniatures

So, you assemble your guys, and pitch battle to your foes – the goal of the game is to wipe out your opponent’s entire squad, though three Ultimate Missions books were published for the game, along with a couple of scenario sets for Endor and Hoth that give some element of thematic gaming.

To wipe out your enemies, you need to attack them, obviously. I seem to remember that ranged fighters can shoot across the entire map at you, while melee characters need to be much closer, base-to-base. When attacking, you roll a d20 and add your character’s attack value. If it is higher than your opponent’s defense value, you deal damage to the figure based on your damage rating. If you roll a natural 20 you deal double damage no matter what the defense rating, but if you roll a natural 1 then you miss no matter what. If a model’s HP is ever 0, it is removed from the game.

Now, that’s combat at it’s most basic. The game ran for 6 years, producing almost three sets a year on average, so there are a ton of mechanics for the game that alter the ebb and flow of battle, and some of the combos I’ve come across in my time are just insanity made manifest:

Arica (Mara Jade’s alter-ego) has Blaster Barrage, which allows her to attack each legal target once in her activation. She also has Twin Attack, which allows her to attack each opponent twice. She also has Cunning Attack, which gives her +4 attack and +10 damage against targets who have yet to activate. She also has Sniper, which means other characters do not provide cover for any of her attacks. I was once on the receiving end of this, and had seven miniatures wiped out in one attack frenzy.

That’s a pretty standard operating procedure, however! Consider, Maris Brood vs Darth Vader, Scourge of the Jedi:

Maris, who has 80HP remaining, moves adjacent to Vader (40HP left) and spends a Force Point to make a Lightsaber Assault, giving her two attacks. She has Twin Attack anyway, so she’ll be making four attacks. She hits him twice on the first attack, but his ability Dark Armor reduces damage received by 10 if he makes a saving roll of 11, which he does, so is left with 10HP. Vader has the Lightsaber Riposte ability that allows him to spend 1 Force Point to immediately counter-attack, so he successfully attacks and reduces Maris to 60HP. He also has the Djem So Style ability, which allows him to make an immediate counter-attack when hit with a melee attack. He successfully makes this, and reduces her further to 40HP. But Maris still has two attacks left, which she makes successfully – ordinarily, Vader would be dead at this point, but due to the order of attacks in the rules, Djem So Style will trigger before damage is applied, twice, which means Vader kills Maris as Maris kills him. That was an awesome little aristeia on the battlefield when it happened – I don’t even remember who I was controlling now, I just remember it’s awesome!

There are all sorts of weird and wonderful interactions like this, and it’s part of what kept me playing the game for so long, I think! Another part, of course, are the awesome miniatures!

Star Wars Miniatures

Over the course of the game, things changed of course. The first ten sets came in sets of 60 miniatures, and featured a number of scenario packs and intro packs as a way of allowing entry into the game. Universe, the third set, introduced huge miniatures into the game, such as the Rancor above, and this trend continued in two further sets – Bounty Hunters and The Force Unleashed. Scenario Packs continued after the Clone Wars set shifted distribution to 40 miniatures per set and redesigned the stat card, however the quality seemed to drop off a little, with some truly horrific sculpts and paint jobs featuring in the last six sets. However, both Imperial Entanglements (the new set when I eventually went all-in on the game) and Dark Times do have some really wonderful miniatures, and the final set, Masters of the Force, is noteworthy for including the Dejarik holomonsters which, I’m firmly convinced, would have formed a side-game if Wizards hadn’t announced dropping the Star Wars license a couple of months prior to the set’s release.

Star Wars Miniatures

Of course, it’s not all figures – over the course of the game, there were vehicles and bigger droids produced, the massive Rancor figure from up there, and also the biggest “miniature” I’ve ever seen – the AT-AT walker!

Star Wars Miniatures

I remember having to import this from Australia, as I couldn’t find one anywhere for sale in the UK. This thing is huge, and I think it’s pretty much in-scale with the rest of these things – the AT-AT Driver mini above certainly looks about right, anyway! This was a really special event upon release, and I remember it advertised with annoying frequency in comics and the like. I’ve never actually used it in the game, as it just seems too cumbersome, but by god, what an amazing addition to the collection!

Star Wars Miniatures

I’ve talked before about Wizards and the way they went from fully supporting their game lines to almost-dropping the Star Wars licence overnight, so I won’t labour that point again here. Suffice it to say, it was a similar story to the Saga Edition RPG, where we had scenarios and map tiles produced that you could download from the site, then suddenly all of that just stopped. My favourite tiles include the Sarlacc pit, which is tremendous fun to use as a terrain feature!

Star Wars Miniatures

I absolutely love this game. For the longest time, it was the only tabletop game I played. I invested so much effort and time into tracking down chase pieces, importing the blighters from the US at exorbitant costs in order to have Darth Revan, or Quinlan Vos, and it’s been a cause of no end of frustration to me that I actually owned every single thing for this game officially produced – except for the fabled Taris Undercity map:

Christopher West is the cartographer for most of the maps and tiles available in the game, and once Wizards stopped producing the game, he continued to produce maps – albeit more generic maps with the sci-fi theme – via Kickstarter, and buying the first five of these map bundles was actually my first foray into the crowdfunding website! Many of the pictures in this blog – that with the Rancor, for instance – are games being played on these fantastic maps. The reason I’m harping on about them is they’re still available via his website, and are of awesome quality, and really useful not just for this game, but if you like running RPGs with maps and minis.

It’s not just Christopher West who provides maps, of course. There are plenty of fan-made map tiles and full-size maps available to download and get printed up. One of my prized possessions is the Jabba’s Palace map, which is just spectacular, so much fun to play on. It has all of the locations from the movie, leading to so much thematic play!

After all these years, Star Wars miniatures are still fairly available on the open market, which continues to surprise me. The minis are pretty well compatible with FFG’s Imperial Assault, which I recall drove demand up for the older, pre-painted figures for a time. Having so many of these things, I’ve often considered down-sizing my collection, though in doing the prep for this blog, and checking out all of those photos once again, it’s brought back so many awesome memories that I feel this game is something I never want not to have.

So much of this game is bound up with my enjoyment of the Star Wars universe at large, I will freely admit that I’m probably looking back on most of this far too fondly. As I mentioned, the adverts for the new sets were in every new Star Wars comic that month, and whenever a new thing happened in the universe, such as the Legacy era being opened up, a line of miniatures wouldn’t be too far behind to support it. They may be kept in boxes on top of the wardrobe under an inch-thick layer of dust, but one day I might get them down again and put a squad together, and re-live those early days of my gaming life… That would be awesome!

Star Wars Miniatures

All of the photos in this blog have been shared on boardgamegeek over the years – you can check out the full range of my contributions here.

Upcoming Games!

Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day extra, as I decided to catch up with some of the news around upcoming games over the weekend. So sit back and enjoy a look at three games that I’m really intrigued by, due out in the coming months!

Deathwatch: Overkill

Deathwatch: Overkill

Of course I’m going to start with something from Games Workshop! There have been rumours of a Deathwatch/Genestealer Cult boxed game coming out from GW for months now, but we finally have enough confirmation that I’m going to talk about it here! I am a huge fan of the Deathwatch – one of the first 40k novels I read was the short story collection, and I’ve always enjoyed the RPG from Fantasy Flight. I think the idea of a whole bunch of really great warriors from different chapters working together to purge the xenos just really captures my imagination! The pictures floating around of the Genestealer Cult are a little, erm, odd, but if it gets me some Deathwatch, then I’m in! It’ll be up for pre-order on Saturday, and released on 5 March, so I’ll no doubt have something to say about it then!

I’ve bought all of these boxed games they’ve released over the last few years, but this is the first one I feel that I really want to build up and paint to play the actual game, even though the details of it are still unknown. I simply want Deathwatch marines!

Star Wars: Rebellion

Star Wars: Rebellion

This has been the next big thing from Fantasy Flight for a while now, and a few weeks back they essentially had a publicity week where the only news published on their site was a series of previews for this.

When it was first announced, I wasn’t particularly chomping at the bit for it, I have to say. It looked a bit too messy, and I was worried it might be a huge time sink, the sort of game that you spend all night playing, only to feel like you would have been better off playing a lot of smaller games. At any rate, I wasn’t exactly going to drop £80 or whatever it turns out costing me on day one. However, the more I’ve seen of it, the more I’m beginning to revise that opinion somewhat.

The game looks like a juggernaut, there’s no denying this, but it looks like the kind of game that I would really enjoy sitting down for a few hours to pit myself against my opponent. There are actually very few games that I like that are both long and competitive. So while I still might not actually buy it on day one, I’m nevertheless changing my entire viewpoint on this one now, and may well be investing later this year!

Tyrants of the Underdark

Tyrants of the Underdark

A deck-building game coming in May, Tyrants of the Underdark pits players together as the drow houses of Menzoberranzan! This sounds really cool, as you play members of the ruling houses trying to control the most of the Underdark by the game end. I really like this idea, and while I’m not quite sure how it would work as a deck-builder – I think I’d prefer to see a more traditional CCG/LCG style of game, where each house feels different rather than just all being able to use the same cards – it’s still very exciting, I’ve got to say!

So those are three of the most-anticipated games, for me, that are due out in the coming weeks and months!