Tuesday, 7 August 2007

On the AT Radar

And now for something completely different....let's talk about games, shall we?

Is it just me or are boardgames becoming more like the videogame market? Anyone who is a fan of videogames knows exactly how drought-laden the summer months generally are. You spend your time looking for something, *anything* to play, but there's not much new out there. Naturally, the holiday season comes, and suddenly you are swimming in titles left and right.
Board games aren't quite there yet, but it does seem that major titles are more and more prone to slip until we see a Fall/Winter influx of all the stuff we've been looking for. That's primarily why I was suprised that Tide of Iron released when it did--I figured that sucker would just slip on towards Christmas. Then again, I think Fantasy Flight has other plans for this holiday season and probably doesn't want to compete with their own titles.
Here is a list of games that I'm looking for during the remainder of the year. I'm well aware that some of these will inevitably slip toward early 2008, but given the number of titles and the empty-wallet syndrome that will surely follow, that will just give me time to catch up.

Age of Conan

If you read the interview with the Nexus guys a while back (check it out at http://fortressameritrash.blogspot.com/2007/06/interviews-with-ameri-titans-volume-2.html if you haven't already), you'll know that we're looking at a game with the epic scale and scope of War of the Ring topped by Nexus' fantastic eye for production quality.
I was glad to hear that no one is actually playing Conan himself, but instead will be leading one of several nations. I've always disliked games that give everyone copies of the main characters (both Star Trek CCGs come to mind), as it's sort of a design cop-out. Instead of guiding Conan in his quest to crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and all that rot, you'll be trying to benefit from Conan's wildly unpredictable influences.

The only thing I'm worried about is getting a big-time "Groo" vibe when playing the game--"Conan's coming! Hide the livestock!" "Did I err?"--so I'm hoping that Conan's bursts of violence will be devastating as opposed to comical. CROM!
I'm thinking this one won't make 2007 after all, as pictures and other details have been very slim, but if it does, you'd better believe this one will be sitting underneath the "non-denominational holiday decorative item" of your choice come December.

Last Night on Earth, The Zombie Game

This is one that took me by surprise, having only heard about it within the past month or so. For whatever reasons, zombie and horror games have always had a tough time of things...I'm sure many of us have tried "Zombies!", and I'm almost just as sure that most of us have used or contemplated house rules or variants for that game immediately thereafter. Seriously, they should just rename "Zombies!" into "The Zombie Game Kit", and provide you a few pieces of paper to come up with your own rules.

When horror games are successful, they're often derivative (Horrorclix just being an extension of Wizkids' existing 'Clix lines) or at their heart, very thinly themed (Mall of Horror is a great game, but only a few steps removed from Lifeboats, the game that inspired it).

Maybe they'll get it right this time. One thing I really like is the fact that the game ships with scenarios--it's not just a zombie blast-a-thon, but your heroes are actually trying to accomplish something. Take the somewhat involved scenario that has been published--finding some gasoline for an old truck and getting it started so you can make your getaway. Top that off with characters with differing special abilities--not to mention fitting in to all the established character cliches from horror films--and hopefully we're looking at a zombie game that not only looks great but plays great, too.

The only concern I've had so far was seeing a weapon card for the revolver that instructed you to roll a die--1-3 was a "Miss", 4-6 was a "Hit". That sounds...distressingly familiar. The jury's still out on this one but it's definitely on my list of games to check out.

Starcraft: The Board Game

This one's the biggie that a lot of people are waiting for--not only are the typical FFG big-box junkies keenly watching and waiting for this one, you've also got the HUGE audience who are fans of the staggeringly popular PC game who are also anxiously expecting this title to release.

From the images released so far, it's obvious that we're in for a lavish production--those minis over there are practically whispering "come to me, my pretties..." That's something you can always count on good ol' FFG for--they know (and appreciate) the phrase plastic orgy.

There has been some consternation among fans of the license in regards to the scale that has been chosen, citing that it is much differrent than the PC game. My initial thoughts were that the game itself was going to end up too similar to Twilight Imperium to warrant the $80 purchase, a perception that FFG lately is vigorously battling (and they had to battle a similar perception about Tide of Iron and Memoir '44, so they're probably getting good at it by now).

What I'm hoping for is a game of the same epic scope as Twilight Imperium but playable in half the time and scales well. Twilight Imperium would still be the "king of gameday" but when time or gamers are in short supply a 'lighter' epic--relatively speaking--would be welcome.
I think I just read yesterday this has officially slipped into 2008, so hopefully FFG is taking their time to bring us something special.

Marvel Heroscape: The Reinforcements Arrive
Comic fanboys geeked out when Hasbro announced they were releasing a Marvel-themed version of their popular Heroscape game. Heroclix has been a successful title, but it can be difficult to get the popular characters due to many of the really desirable ones being Rare or Ultra-Rare. So naturally, the idea of getting your favorite heroes in the non-blind boosters that Heroscape features was pretty much gaming nirvana.

The initial release is out (though hard to find in many retail outlets just yet), and admittedly the seemingly small selection of heroes is limiting the excitement, if only a bit. There's only so much you can do with five heroes and five villains.

There was plenty of speculation about expansions for the game, as fans hoped to end their battles between Hulk and a horde of kung-fu monks and get on with the real comic book battles they were hoping to see. And on-cue, the expansion announcement has arrive, and it looks *sweet*. Filled with heroes and villains such as The Punisher, the Fantastic Four, Beast, Sandman, and others, a few packs of these will increase the number of team builds exponentially. No word yet on distribution, and I'm still wondering if we'll get the Common Army packs eventually (S.H.I.E.L.D., The Hand, Morlocks, the list goes on and on).

This is one that I'm surprised isn't out in the States already. I think the American release was being re-worked due to the dreaded "warping board" problem, so I'm hoping we'll see this one very soon.

Take the basic storyline from "Hellboy"--Nazis experiment with the occult and the arcane--and add in plenty of exposives and machine guns, and you've got the recipe for a action-packed two-player face-off. What I've found most intriguing about the game so far is the game's innovative "line of sight" system. Rather than have a grid-based map like most of the two-player skirmish games of this type, instead you have colored circles that the characters stand in. In short, you can fire on any other circle that shares a color with the one you're standing in. Some circles, such as those in doorways, have more than one color, indicating you can fire in multiple directions. That sounds like a great way to freshen up a game like this, and I can't wait to give it a spin. The pre-painted bits look great, the theme is rockin', and the gameplay sounds like a lot of fun.

Wars of the Roses
Shifting gears a little bit, here's a pure wargame that definitely has my attention. Here's a blurb from the publisher's official description:

"The game system employed in Wars of the Roses takes off where the award-winning Hammer of the Scots left off by greatly enriching the card deck. 'Holding your political cards close to your vest' has never meant more. With them, players can now launch or uncover political conspiracies, bring Scotland into the war, hire mercenaries for their cause, go into exile abroad, employ spies to reveal enemy plans, force neutral nobles off the fence, call up the standing army at Calais, mobilize the powerful Northern or Welsh March, lay-low the heads of powerful families, or even marshal the fickle winds of fate to undo the best laid plans of the enemy."

Does that rock or does that rock? Hammer of the Scots was a great Cinderella story in that it's a wargame that found tons of crossover appeal to several different audiences--turns out if you make a wargame with clean rules, a nice level of accessibility, and great theme (we've all seen Braveheart, right? Remember--before Mel went batshit insane?), you're going to have appeal to a lot of gamers. I personally enjoyed the "converting nobles" idea very much, just imagining the Bruce going home for the winter and finding an English garrison there--"Wot? No chaps, I was with you all along, you've got me all wrong!"
I'm interested to see how Jerry Taylor expands the political system for this, as politics in HotS were all by the point of the sword and clever maneuvering. Take the theme of bloodthirsty rivals willing to chop each other to bits and you've got all the signs of a winner here.

Mutant Chronicles Collectible Miniatures Game

Yeah, yeah, bitching about this game being collectible rather than a true successor to Siege of the Citadel is pretty much old hat and truth be told a bit out of vogue, so to speak. While we don't have a ruleset yet, bits and pieces of information on the game have trickled out since it was announced seemingly an eternity ago. Mostly, I think you can expect your typical CMG skirmish game here with enough touches of the Mutant Chronicles world to give it plenty of flavor.

The minis on this do take special notice...if they turn out as nice as their preview pics, then I doubt there are many AT gamers who will be able to resist picking up a few of these. I do wish they were the same scale as the Siege of the Citadel figs, as I had entertained thoughts of collecting a pre-painted set just for that use, but no luck.

Star Wars Miniatures

Anyone else here still surprised that this one's being made? WotC's attention for the line really waned once the final prequel hit theaters and the TCG died a quiet death not long after that, but a surprising thing happened--a year later the game kicked back into high gear and hasn't looked back since.

I'm a bit of a strange gamer in terms of "historical accuracy". For some reason, the only SWM gaming that appeals to me is scenario play. Sure, I'll play a wargame that has myriad historical inaccuracies, but if I see Darth Maul versus Boba Fett on Geonosis, I'm done.

There must be other gamers out there like me, because last year saw the release of the "Battle of Endor" pack, containing Stormtroopers, an AT-ST, and a map of Endor. I was hoping that the non-blind thing would catch on to make it even easier for scenario gamers to collect what they needed, and looks like WotC is paying attention--soon to be released is a much larger pack devoted to the Battle of Hoth.

I would like to think that Heroscape's success has also had something to do with this--gamers gobble up packs where they know what they're getting--and if the Hoth set is successful, look for this trend to continue. Trust me--nothing sucks more than buying a $15 booster pack and finding San Hill as your rare. Believe me, I've been there.

Descent: The Road to Legend

The two biggest gripes against Descent right now are that it's a.) too long and b.) has no campaign system. If I understand correctly, this expansion from FFG looks to correct both of those issues.

The heart of the expansion reportedly has to do with extensive campaign rules. I can understand the desire to have that because spending six hours with a character only to have them "reset" at the end of the game sucks. A lot of gamers who left RPGs behind are still looking for that pseudo-RPG boardgame to fill that void for them, and Descent looks to be trying quite admirably to be the definitive game to do just that.

The other major selling point--the overland map--I have no idea how this will impact play, but it's possible this will give gamers something to adventure on without having to set up the dungeon piece by piece, which admittedly is a strike against both Doom and Descent in terms of gameplay pacing ("hold on, I've got to set this up--you guys go get a drink or something.")

Other details on this have been pretty scarce, and this is another title that looks to be poised to slip into 2008 easily. I'm rooting for Descent, though...it's ambitious, it's old school at heart, and I like it.

Napoleon's Triumph
Speaking of rooting for, a game designer I'm really rooting for is Bowen Simmons. He's a guy who has vigorously provided support for his customers through frequent rules explanation and regular interaction. His Bonaparte at Marengo was another crossover hit in the same vein as Hammer of the Scots. Clean rules (except possibly for the somewhat opaque road movement rules, which due take some studying), nice production quality with a mounted board, and a innovative take on combat have all led to the game finding a solid audience. The deterministic, dice-free combat is just something that shouldn't work in a wargame, and yet it does here with flying colors. No CRTs, no terrain charts--everything you need is right there on the board.
Bowen's follow-up is available for pre-order right now and it looks as though he has taken his system to another level. Adding a much larger diversity of unit strength and types, increasing the scale of the battle, and adding commanders and corps to the action.
All that's left is for Bowen to come up with a clever name for his system a la "Commands and Colors" (it's already been suggested he use BaM = "Blocks and Maneuver"), and maybe he'll find his franchise just like Richard Borg has.

That's all I can think of for now, though I'm sure I've forgotten a few. Now is the part where I get to be lazy and let you guys do some work for me--what are YOU looking forward to the most for '07-'08?

(All images courtesty Boardgamegeek.com, with the exception of the Star Wars Miniatures photo, which is courtesy of Rebelscum.com.)


Dennis Ugolini said...

Now *this* is great content. I'm oddly drawn to Last Night on Earth; I've yet to find a zombie game that really works, and it seems like they intrinsically should.

Oh, and to borrow a phrase from Bill Simmons, Mel Gibson in "Braveheart" is like Tom Cruise in "Cocktail" -- already insane, and while we didn't realize it at the time, looking back, the signs are all there.

Shellhead said...

I too am interested in Last Night on Earth. Zombies!!! has gotten more playable with the latest expansions, but still misses the mark.

But there are some good zombie games out there. Mall of Horror is actually an outstanding game, but if players are looking to kill lots of zombies, this isn't the right game for them. I did recently download a print'n'play version of the classic Dawn of the Dead boardgame, but I haven't gotten around to reading the rules or printing up the map and chits. It got great reviews back in the day, so I have high hopes. And I'm happy to report that I recently gave some feedback to a fellow game designer who is getting ready to playtest his own game in this genre. The presentation of the rule book was extremely impressive, including pictures of very professional-looking components. And the rules included some very original and exciting ideas. Hopefully we will see that game on the market next year.

Ken B. said...

Oh man, I think Mall of Horror is great fun. But it comes up just short thematically; we're going to skittle from store to store, then we'll hold a vote while the zombies wait patiently outside, then we'll thrown them a treat (read: an unlucky victim), then they'll wander off for awhile.

Dig the game, though. It's been a hit with every group I've played it with, and that's a rarity.

433 said...

I talked to the "Last Night on Earth" folks at GAMA in April, and it looks like they have a hell of a game on their hands. Beautifully sculpted minis, photoshopped studio-shot art (they hired actors to portray the game's characters), and a CD soundtrack! I'm hoping to get a demo in at GenCon next week, and if I like it, take it home.

Ken B. said...

Yeah, the art is killer. Some have said they don't like the ubercheesy live-action photos but to me, that just shows even more that their head is in the right place.

I really like the one with the nurse holding a lighter and a revolver while zombies creep up on her from behind. I didn't know zombies had a stealth mode...of course, we didn't know they could run until a few years ago either, so it must be...


JoelCFC25 said...

Great preview, Ken. I am especially fired up about WARS OF THE ROSES after having leghumped HAMMER OF THE SCOTS so ferociously for the last couple of months since buying it.

I never played the previous incarnation that the upcoming version is intended to fix, but might GMT's upcoming BLACKBEARD fit your list? Or is it too Euro-ish...I really don't know. Anyway, what's not to like about pirates, right?

Ken B. said...

Note to self: do not trade for Joel's copy of Hammer of the Scots. Ever.

ironcates said...


2008! Man! Corey in his interview with Tom V. said something like, "I can't say exactly but it's coming." Then said, "Oh yeah, definately in 2007."

Michael Barnes said...

Definitely some good-looking stuff coming out...

I think STARCRAFT is going to surprise many- from what I've heard, it's a pretty progressive design, and I also think it will be a HUGE boon to retailers especially as we get close to Christmas. It's unfortunate that there's already a chorus forming complaining that the game doesn't attempt to replicate the RTS game on a 1:1 scale. Watch for the usual anti-FFG brigade to lob their typical complaints before the game is even released.

NAPOLEON'S TRIUMPH is probably the one game on there I'd take a human life for. BONAPARTE AT MARENGO is one of those rare games you play and you think "wow, this isn't just good...it's important". It's a brilliant, brilliant design that hit this incredible balance of historicity, playability, detail, and abstraction. TRIUMPH should cement Mr. Simmons' position as one of the premiere wargame designers working today.

WAR OF THE ROSES looks great, but I'm a Columbia Games whore. I'm looking forward to that good ol' meat-and-potatoes system with some new chrome. Sure, it probably won't reinvent the wheel but it'll be fun to see what they've cooked up this time.

MARVEL HEROSCAPE...I'm just not that excited by it...it's definitely a great add-on to the system but I'm not really rushing out to get it. It could be fun though, just don't feel like playing catchup with all the expansions.

AGE OF CONAN- can't miss, as far as I'm concerned. I'm also glad that nobody is Conan, it's much cooler to flesh out the titular Age of Conan. Multiplayer Nexus wargame? Come on, who isn't excited?

TANNHAUSER- having seen the French edition, I'll say that the line-of-sight system is stupefyingly great. With expansions, it will be a good step-up from HEROSCAPE.

LAST NIGHT ON EARTH- I'll believe it when I see it. It's got potential, but it could also go horribly wrong. I'd really like to see some of those scenarios take on some more interesting aspects of the zombie millieu rather than the typical "chainsaw/shotgun 100 zombies" approach.

DESCENT: ROAD TO LEGEND sounds amazing, but I am worried that it's going to bloat the game. The concept is solid and it stands to really revolutionize the way we play the game but I hope it doesn't turn into just more cards and chits. It could be the piece that puts DESCENT into an "imperial" phase and positions it as the premiere dungeon crawl of our generation.

MUTANT CHRONICLES...that's such a weird license to me, both for a CMG and for a motion picture. It's always been kind of the "poor man's 40K" and frankly, it was pretty much dead except for us folks hanging on to our beat-up copies of SIEGE OF THE CITADEL.

There's some other good-looking stuff around the corner as well...I'm actually pretty interested in RACE FOR THE GALAXY, I think if it holds its theme it might be a worthwhile card game. 1960: THE MAKING OF A PRESIDENT from TWILIGHT STRUGGLE designer Jason Matthews is looking to be a strong contender. DUEL IN THE DARK is pretty darn awesome, look for Z-Man to bring it over here in the next couple of months. And if that's not enough from Z-Man, how 'bout the reissue of bona fide AT masterpiece TALES OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS or their edition of the Czech PROPHECY?

And Ken...come on man...you left off TALISMAN!!!!!

Ken B. said...

I'd give you my honest opinion of Talisman, but then I'd get kicked off the blog, and I'm legitimately worried Matt won't refund the money I gave him so that I could post here.

Michael Barnes said...

Come on man, you just stand to lose $1.95. Tell us what you think! "Candyland for Geeks"? An "excrutiating roll-and-move exercise in luck factor gameplay that removes all of the interesting decisions from the players?" "Too many skulls?"

Rliyen said...

I'd give you my honest opinion of Talisman, but then I'd get kicked off the blog, and I'm legitimately worried Matt won't refund the money I gave him so that I could post here.

Don't feel bad, Ken. I received Runebound 2Ed in a trade and I thought, "Damn, this is what Talisman SHOULD have been." After playing this game several times, I took buying 4th edition off my wishlist. I'd rather save the money for Mutant Chronicles or Tannhauser than the new Talisman.

From what reviews I have read, it's nothing more than a slightly improved version of Talisman 2ed. If that's it, and nothing more, then I'm having a hard time justifying buying the game. I'm quite content with my old set. Add to that the fact that they're still using cardboard figures instead of plastic/metal and that really detracts from the urge to buy it.

Ken B. said...

No, nothing as artsy fartsy as that. Just that "Runebound obsoletes it". Completely. Absolutely.

I'll miss that $1.95, man.

ironcates said...

Is TITAN on the AT radar???

I know it's in preorder phase but let's promote it a little to get that puppy to print!

Will Reaves said...

Board games aren't quite there yet, but it does seem that major titles are more and more prone to slip until we see a Fall/Winter influx of all the stuff we've been looking for.

Don't neglect the role of the conference season in dictating when releases happen. Having the game or at least a demo ready by Origins or Gen Con is important for free publicity. But if production gets behind, that means the game that was going to be released in July/August doesn't come out until October or later. (Save for the advance copies available at the Con which sell out before Sunday and are the only copies available for months--curse you, Dunwich Horror!) The same holds for Euro games and Essen.

So I don't think it's (completely) a seasonal holiday thing. If Gen Con and Origins were held in April and May, there would be a larger summer influx.

Ken B. said...

Things have been TOO quiet on the Titan front. This is coming out, right?

Valley Games sure have put a lot of promises out there--I'm waiting on them to deliver.

But yes, I would like to try Titan, as I've never had the chance to play it. As is I have no idea when it's coming.

rizzo said...

I think that the Mutant Chronicles game will turn out pretty good because they have to put a lot of effort into it since the license alone won't sell it.

Jack Hill said...

Regarding Starcraft, the FFG blog says that they are hoping to have copies at Gencon and PAX.

I'm trying to beg someone to pick me up a copy at Gencon. Unless FFG wants to send a review copy--that's the problem of writing for a Euro-centric site. We never get review copies of AT games. (Except for Neuroshima Hex. That was a surprise.)

As to Talisman, I prefer Talisman to Runebound. Combat is just SO slow in Runebound. Prophecy is still my adventure game of choice, though.

Pat H said...

Being a fellow who doesn't have much game time - it's this sort of preview article that helps me to avoid endless scouring and blabbing to people to find games I may not have had time to notice. If I'm not mistaken TOI:Days of the Fox is due before year end also.

Last Night on Earth seems quite ambitious and I like the photo approach. Most of our modern zombie lexicon and imagery comes from low budget films - so if someone can capture that with photo's and not get overly campy, I'm all in.

I am ashamed that I haven't had the time or funds to dive into Columbia games. I'm still trying to find opponents for TOI.

Ken - when you interviewed Roberto Di Meglio what was the eta for their Napoleonic plastic mini-fest?

Rliyen said...


*gives Ken $1.95 when everyone's looking away*

Michael Barnes said...

There is a key difference between RUNEBOUND and TALISMAN. Runebound is boring and TALISMAN isn't.

It is a HUGE mistake that they're not doing figures for TALISMAN.

Probably the single greatest game session I've ever played was TALISMAN, 2nd edition with all expansions. This was about 10 years ago. At the end of the game, the leader got up there and drew the bottomless pit. After like six hours of gameplay. It was hysterical. The owner of the game gave the guy the entire game as a consolation prize. No, it wasn't me.

As far as TITAN goes...hopefully Valley Games isn't going to start announcing stuff they haven't sealed the deal on...I'd hate to see it turn into a debacle like, say, DUKE NUKEM FOREVER. Given the "July" ship date for HANNIBAL...

Ken B. said...

Ah, you're drinkin' Drano. Talisman is mindless, Runebound is a MAN'S adventure game.


Pat H said...

There is nothing wrong with Duke Nukem - it's right on schedule.

Ken B. said...

Incidentally, we'll know the jig is up when Valley Games announces their reprint of Full Métal Planète.

Michael Barnes said...

Wait a minute...did Dennis reference COCKTAIL?

Michael Barnes said...

I can see the announcement for it now:


dan daly said...

I'm another person looking forward to Days of the Fox for Tide of Iron.

I thought the general consenus among alot of the people on here was that Return of the Heroes blows Runebound away. So...if Runebound obsoletes Talisman, Talisman must REALLY suck? Right? I've never played any of the three games (RoH, Runebound, Talisman). I was leaning toward picking up RoH largely based upon Barne's and Martin Robert's feedback on BGG. So how do Return of the Heroes and Talisman fare when you put them head to head Micheal?

Mike said...

I'm looking forward to "Age of Piracy". I sure hope it's going to to wind up as the "Descent" of the pirate genre.

Rliyen said...

Ah, you're drinkin' Drano. Talisman is mindless, Runebound is a MAN'S adventure game.


He's also smoking the bad crack and shooting smack into his eye if he thinks that Talisman isn't boring and Runebound is.

Hey, this is coming from a formerly die-hard Talisman fan who, up until recently, was salivating at its re-release.

At the end of the game, the leader got up there and drew the bottomless pit. After like six hours of gameplay. It was hysterical.

That's me, the owner of the game who perpetually gets to the Crown of Command first, only to be sucked into the Horrible Black Void. It happened in so many games I played, it became a running joke at the shop I used to frequent. Don't be so anxious to get to the Crown, let's get Scott to clear the Void for us!

Clarissimus said...

You spend your time looking for something, *anything* to play, but there's not much new out there.

I'm not a collector; I tend to buy just a few games (whether board games or computer games) and play them over and over.

Tannhausser looks interesting, though.

Michael Barnes said...

TALISMAN and RETURN OF THE HEROES are apples and oranges. TALISMAN is ridiculous, chaotic fun- you play it to laugh at what happens to your friends and unleash torrential profanity when it happens to you. I don't know that it necessarily creates a game world or provides a rich gaming experience, but it's good stupid fun. RETURN OF THE HEROES is like a cross between MERCHANT OF VENUS and something like MYSTIC WOOD. It's really a pick-up-and-deliver game in disguise but it's a really good one. The expansions are very good as well, the dungeon one pretty much completely changes the game.

Now, if you want to do a serious side-by-side, put TALISMAN up against PROPHECY. Very similar, but PROPHECY is more streamlined and not as goofy. Both are great games with a place in my collection.

I'm really looking forward to the ToI expansion, for sure...go Rommel!

Oh, and how about the CA$H AND GUN$ YAKUZA expansion? Katanas, my friends...katanas.

Gary Sax said...

I should really buy bonaparte at marengo, but I think the sequel looks way more interesting so maybe I'll wait for that.

I appreciate the preview articles, *and* the fact you aren't afraid to put some light wargames on there as well. Nicely done.

The Euro Overlord said...

Guys who play games called "Age of Conan" will never get girl that looks like Red Sonia!

Grow up, get a life and GO EURO!


Jack Hill said...

Good summary on the Talisman games, and Prophecy is definitely the best of the breed.

The big downside to Runebound is that turns are so slow. The combat system is interesting, but you do not really make a lot of decisions in combat. To me, the only thing it has over Talisman is the town store shopping options and item variability.

Movement doesn't matter than much in Runebound (basic game), and you are mostly just picking up cards, seeing what happens, and leveling up. Pretty much same as Talisman, but the turns crawl in comparison.

In Prophecy, movement matters because most of the encounters are faceup, and you do not roll dice for movement. Like Runebound, all of the cards are unique (not quite as many), but combat is the simple D6 + attribute. Turns go fast, and a friend tells me he plays it 2 player in 45 minutes during lunch at work. I could see it, we've got 3 player games down to about 90 minutes.

Ken B. said...

Looks like I need to check out Prophecy, then.

Maybe I'm superficial, but the fact you're moving on an actual map instead of a big Monopoly square is a big deal to me.

Rliyen said...

Looks like I need to check out Prophecy, then.

Maybe I'm superficial, but the fact you're moving on an actual map instead of a big Monopoly square is a big deal to me.

As much as I hate to admit it, I never made the Talisman/Monopoly connection until it was brought up several posts ago when they were talking about Talisman and its progeny.

Now, after playing Runebound, I agree with the sentiment. Alas, I have fallen to the Dark Side.

Mr Skeletor said...

The combat system is interesting, but you do not really make a lot of decisions in combat.

I don't understand that argument. You certainly make a lot more decisions in Runebound combat then you do in any of it's peers.

Anyway here is my take:

AGE OF CONAN: Sounds promising.

LAST NIGHT ON EARTH: Looks great, but gameplay seems questionable. We will see.

STARCRAFT: Sold. Minis look much better than I expected. Even if the game sucks balls I'll use the bits to do a sci-fi version of Tide of Iron.

MARVEL HEROSCAPE: Bit 'Scaped out, so i'll be skipping this one.

TANHAUS: When are FFG putting the rules up for this? It's been a long wait.

WAR OF THE ROSES: Sounds good, and I have yet to buy a block game. This could be my first.

MUTANT CHRONICLES: The scale turned me off this one. Most likely I'll pass.


DESCENT: Getting, naturally.

NAPPY: Haven't been keeping up with it.

dan daly said...

"Maybe I'm superficial, but the fact you're moving on an actual map instead of a big Monopoly square is a big deal to me."

Well, after checking out Prophecy over on the z-man games website, I've got to say the board looks pretty monopolyish. Spaces are arranged in a big loop, and players have the option of (A) move right or (B) move left. I have no idea how good a game it is, but the board doesn't seem to capture an exploration/epic journey feel.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Shit - this is terrible, I'm a Kiwi and we hate spending money !
Lucky I have been doing well recently at BGG marketplace getting rid of older games and a lot of my euros (althoug'h that was meant to cover my M-44, Wings of War', Star Wars Risks and 'Fortress America' purchases - bugger) ... I'll just have to sell of more of my euros :-p

I too have not done a blocky yet, so 'War of the Roses' may have to be looked at and possibly Napoleon as I am congregating with some wargamers these days, while the kick-ass fantasy games with lots of plastic (Conan, Starcraft) will be drooled over, with possibly a look at the 'Star Wars' thing since me and my young lad have heaps of (unused) minis we just haven't got into yet.
And just having expended on a ton of M-44 and WoW expansions I am trying not too look at ToI, but there appears to be too many ready made opponents at this new minis/baordgames club I have joined ..... CRAP - new mortgage.

Russ Fade said...

I really hope Age of Conan lives up to the designer's true capability (War of the Ring) and doesn't fall flat again (Marvel Heroes). My biggest concern is my game group . . . none of them strike me as Conan fans and I've a feeling this will be a big part of the enjoyment.

I play both Runebound and Talisman and enjoy them both for different reasons . . . pretty much the same reasons Barnes likes Talisman and the rest of ya like Runebound. Neither replaces the other. They're different games for different nights. Return of the Heroes was kinda' boring for me but I need to give it another try. Still dying to play Prophecy . . . trying to wait for the Z-Man release (I think they're doing it?)

Great content, guys. This was a good read.

-Bootlicker Russ

dan daly said...

Hey Michael,

What are your thoughts on the game Imperial? It looks like an interesting combination of cutthroat military conquest and cutthroat financial conquest. I'd be interested in your take on it if you've gotten the chance to play.

Michael Barnes said...

I haven't played it but I've watched it, read through the rules, and I know ANTIKE. It looks pretty dull, but it's more involved than the typical Euro. It's definitely more of an economic game than a wargame from what I gather. I dunno, I'd try it but it's not something I'm anxious to play.

jon said...

Good thread. My take on the new stuff coming:

First, TITAN is not going to arrive in the next 12 months. It's at like 280 of 750 preorders (and this for a game with supposedly so much pent-up demand), and Valley Games is already getting a rep (*cough*FFG*cough*) as delivering well after their target dates. I figure late 2008, maybe 2009. Besides, TITAN isn't AT anyway, it's backgammon with a pasted-on theme.

And speaking of when...when is WIZ-WAR coming? Some people claim to've seen it at GAMA and an ad in Game Trade magazine said August 2007. This seems solidly AT to me, a game I missed the first go-round(s) but would like to rectify.

I'm surprisingly interested in STARCRAFT. I don't play the computer game, so it wasn't on my radar, but I love asymmetrical games, and if the playing time is kept down, I'm likely in, as there's a dearth of good sci-fi games.

But how about SUPERNOVA? Oops, Valley Games, so late 2008 at the earliest, looking at the preorders.

I agree with Barnes that BaM is a brilliant design, but I just can't get into that era, so NAPOLEON'S TRIUMPH is likely to be admired from afar.

I'm more interested in SUN OF YORK than WAR OF THE ROSES, and even more in UNHAPPY KING CHARLES (yes, time period is off, but...), but are any of these AT anyway?

I don't know about AGE OF CONAN...for me, Conan was the interesting bit, not Hyperborea. It just never felt fleshed out the way that, say, Lankhmar (Nehwon) did, and even that pales against other fantasy settings. I'll keep an eye out, but not sold yet, esp. after MARVEL HEROES.

No interest at all in TANNHAUSER. Am slightly interested in the setting, but it gets lost at this scale. DUST is the one I'm keeping an eye on.

Maybe LAST NIGHT ON EARTH will finally provide a good use for the plastic in that other zombie game with too many exclamation points. Not optimistic, but hope springs eternal. Seems more narrative-focused, which is a good thing.

RACE FOR THE GALAXY is going to rock, but that's solidly *not* in the AT camp.

I don't know what genre to assign to 1960 (or TWILIGHT STRUGGLE), but it's definitely not AT. Probably the game I'm most looking forward to, though.

Very stoked about TALES OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, but it seems very far off.

COLD WAR: CIA vs KGB looks very appealing as a quick card game with a strong theme.

And speaking of cards and strong themes, ILLUMINATI: BAVARIAN FIRE DRILL is coming very soon. Old school, but I'm in.

433 said...

The TANNHAUSER rules went up last night, Frank.

Michael Barnes said...

That's an interesting point about TITAN, that there appears to be all this pent-up demand that hasn't surfaced...I think folks forget how tiny the hobby board gaming community really is in the scope of things. I'm thinking that there are a lot more than 280 people (like maybe, 300 or so) out there interested that either don't know about the reprint or aren't preordering. Frankly, I'd be hesitant to preorder it myself since Valley's impulse to "update" it might make it DOA. If it ever comes out.

Muzza said...

I have owned the original Blackbeard for year and have played many times, it is one of my wife's favourites. I am very keen to see the new one and am considering signing up on the preorder thing. The original has one of the best themes I've ever experienced, the game play had a few problems but the new version claims to have addressed them all.

Having recently bought and enjoyed Hammer of the Scots (although not as much as Joel) I'll definitely put the War of the Roses on my wishlist.

Most of the listed games look pretty cool to me, except the collectible stuff which I could do without. I'm going to have to stop reading this list as I can't afford to buy all this stuff.

I'm going to have

Jack Hill said...

Tannhauser rules are nice. That probably makes my French copy at least playable. At a guess, I'd file it alongside Heroscape as a light skirmish game.

As to thinking Talisman combat has more depth than Runebound--I must have suffered a sort of derangement. I WOULD hold Prophecy's single die combat against Runebound, but not really Talisman.

In Runebound, you really have two sets of choices--when to run away, and when to use your various expendables--fatigue, and one shot items. There *IS* rather more thought that needs to go into the equipping part of your character--meaning that the town shopping is the cool part of the game.

Prophecy has mana instead of fatigue, and trims combat down to a single die roll (in most cases.) The town shopping aspect is replaced by movement that isn't that dissimilar to Return of the Heros, save that everything on the board can be taken by any player.

Talisman doesn't really have anything resembling fatigue, items also only come to you out of the blue. (Although the City Expansion allows you to shop--and adds a modicum of control. )

dgilligan said...

Coincidetally enough, one of our group members made a list of some of the games we were looking forward to and posted it over at boredgamegeeks.blogspot.com. Some similar items on both lists. Had I known more about Age of Conan, I may have put that down as one of my choices...so, here was our list:

Great Interest

Tribune: This game of political competition in ancient Rome is due from Fantasy Flight Games in November. It is designed by Karl-Heinz Schmiel, and all you have to do is say “From the guy who designed Die Macher” to see the lights come on in the eyes of an Appalachian Gamer.

Tannhauser: Another game from Fantasy Flight which is due this fall (Pro Ludo seems to be publishing the game in Europe). This one is designed by William Grosselin and Didier Poli. As best as I can tell, this is a tactical combat game set in an alternate universe in which the nations that fought in World War I have gained alien technology and magic from a downed flying saucer. Okay…

El Capitan: We’ve been seeing the Mike Doyle preview art work for this on his website, and it sure looks good. It’s a redesign of Tycoon, a game from Wolfgang Kramer and Horst-Rainer Rosner. The American version will be published by Z-Man Games.

Race for the Galaxy: This card game about Galactic civ-building is designed by Thomas Lehmann and will be published by Rio Grande. Lots of good buzz on this game. Due to be published in September.

Good Interest

Starcraft: the Board Game: Another Fantasy Flight plastic-figure binge. Designed by Corey Konieczka from the popular series of computer games.

Great American Railroad Game: Rio Grande’s American-themed version of Reiner Knizia’s Stephenson’s Rocket. About time a version of this game showed up.

1960: The Making of the President: Another game from Z-Man, this one designed by Jason Matthews and Christian Leonard. Mr. Matthews was one of the designers of Twilight Struggle, and this game promises to be another card-driven political contest. The designers claim the game has a shorter playing time than Twilight Struggle.

War of the Roses: Another strategic block game about medieval warfare from Columbia Games and designer Jerry Taylor, the guy who gave us Hammer of the Scots. That says it all.

The Price of Freedom: Another card-driven wargame about the American Civil War from Compass Games, and designer Renaud Verlaque, the guy who gave us Age of Napoleon. That also says it all.

Commands & Colors expansions: More ancient combat from Richard Borg and GMT games. That says…well, you get the idea.

Rails of Europe: A Railroad Tycoon expansion from Glenn Drover and Fred Distribution. I don’t really know what Fred Distribution is, but they had me at “Railroad Tycoon.”

Michael Barnes said...

I'm definitely interested in those C&C:A expansions...not in the least for the mounted board and the ability to hook two of the bastards together for even larger scale battles. If you think C&C:A is "just like" the other games in the sytem, you're in for a surprise...it's strange, but in an ancients setting it feels like the mechanics are _right_ instead of gamey.

I forgot about that RRT expansion...that should be pretty neat. FRED is a retailer distribution thing Funagain runs. I think it's kind of crummy that they're basically forcing other retailers to buy from another retailer, but there you go. They're also doing the THROUGH THE AGES reprint, which is a really damn good game that should be on your radar if you like Civ games.

How about DUST? Anybody heard anything substantial? It looks/sounds awesome...

jon said...

DUST info at:


Looks interesting, but not enough details yet.

Mr Skeletor said...

The TANNHAUSER rules went up last night, Frank.

Yeah, what the hell is up with that PDF? Took nearly 45 mins to print it on the super office printer! Thought I was going to lose my job for sure!

RE Titan: I'm interested in the reprint, but there is noway I am going to pre-order a game before it has been produced. Especially from a company as young as Valley Games.

Octavian said...

DAMN YOU! Putting yet another game on my radar. Must...resist...having too much...hope...concerning...zombie game.

vandemonium said...

Great stuff Ken! Conan does sound interesting. Starcraft could be my first big box FFG. I've just no interest in Tide of Iron but this looks pretty cool.

StephenAvery said...

I played Tannhauser a while back and though I love the theme and the minis, it reminded me of a bunch of CMG that are on the market. The units each have 4-6 special powers, you manuver to make the best use of your special powers then fight. We played deathmatch but there is a story mode which alters victory conditions. One of the cool things is that each figure has choices of skill pakages that change their special powers somewhat.

The line of sight rules while neat, are not that spectacular though it does speed up play considerably to move and shoot w/o measuring. The colors can be hard to distquinquish especially on spaces that have wide open LOS. One of the things I did like though were the paths were very curvelinear. After playing so many games on a grids and hexes its nice to follow curvy paths for once. The components are gorgeous and that heightens the dynamic feel of the board

One of the most striking things I noticed though was just how deadly the game was. With such small squads, (5 units each if I remember correctly)I was expecting melee and firefights to last longer.But the boards are very tight and after an engagement you'd be lucky to crawl away.
I look forward to playing it again in story mode this time but will probably not pick it up until I find it on sale.

Steve"Marquis General Hermann von Heïzinger"Avery

Andy said...

Starcraft rules online!

adrianbolt said...

Napoleon's Triumph: only discovered this a couple of weeks ago and immediately preordered. It improves the original groundbreaking system so it was the clear choice of the two.

Supernova: preordered.

Last Night on Earth: very interested and keeping an eye on it. Hoping it'll be outstanding.

Tannhäuser or Dust: watching, but yet to be convinced.

None of the rest are of interest, though I'm now looking at Tide of Iron thanks to Michaels' review.

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