Saturday, 31 December 2016

Past - 2016

Another year behind us and it's time to have a look back at what came and didn't come to pass during my 2016 gaming year (I'll simply refrain from talking about all the horrible non-gaming related stuff that has been going on and focus on the fun stuff!). As always the board games far outweighs miniature and roleplaying games, but that is only to be expected. So let's get stuck in with the top three!

Board Games

The big fat number one on this list is, of course, Star Wars: Imperial Assault. We started playing the campaign in August and since it's tricky to line everything up for the four of us to get together for 4+ hours to game we still have the last two missions of left to play. This is scheduled for next week so hopefully we'll be done with the core campain then, and since we started on August 7th that will be exactly six months from start to finish!

I think we've all had a good time with the game and at times it can be incredibly cinematic and you get that Star Wars feel, but it can at other times feel like a bit of a slog with a lot of minutea and careful consideration of every move. I played FFG's new edition of Doom yesterday (it is very good!) that uses a card play system similar to MYTH and I think it is just what games like Imperial Assault and Descent need to feel more... modern again.

Now don't get me wrong, I really like Imperial Assault and I think the newer campaigns will be a great step up from the one in the core box, which is very uneven. I'm especially eager to get my hands on Jabba's Realm as that kind of Star Wars underworld has always been close to my heard. And who don't want to sick a rancor at those pesky rebels!

Next up is MERCS: Recon by Megacon Games - another dudes on a map game but very different from Imperial Assault. Especially since I've played this mostly solo! While you can be up to five players it's also a great solo experience that most of the time has the right amount of shit hitting the fan as you try to exfil through and increasingly secfor infested lab while fires are raging and civilians are running all over the place! And now I have got all the extra kickstarter material that I haven't even touched yet, which really makes me eager to get back to this soon.

On place number three is Bios: Genesis from
Sierra Madre Games, again mostly solo plays! If you're wondering if I've lost all my friends it's simply that we've been focusing mostly in IA when we've played together. Haha! Anyway, Bios: Genesis might be my second favourite Eklund game after High Frontier as it has such an awesome theme that is well implemented, creating a game that changes as you play. At first it's all about creating lifeforms, but as life is starting to pop up the game changes to become a battleground inside these lifeforms as you parasitize and absorb other players. A great achievement by Phil!

Other games close to the top is Twilight Struggle, Sushi Go!, Forbidden Stars, Netrunner and Andean Abyss (again mostly solo!). If there's one thing to take away from my board game experience this year, it's that well designed solo games can be great fun and a great way to scratch that board gaming itch even when you can't find time to do some actual face to face gaming with your buddies.

Comparing my played games to my Future - 2016 post from a year ago it lines up fairly nicely. I've played MERCS, Imperial Assault and a Sierra Madre Game (although not High Frontier 3 as I had hoped). I haven't played a single game of Roll for the Galaxy though... need to remedy that.

Roleplaying Games

Not a lot of roleplaying, but 300% increase from last year at least. One of my long, looong time roleplaying dreams have been to play Jovian Chronicles and this year it finally happened! We started playing the Odyseey SEED campaign in early spring and managed another session during the summer. It's been on ice since then, again because it's hard to get people together, but I'm feeling session three coming along early 2017. One of our players has recently finished moving house, so hopefully it'll be a little easier to get it going now.

With the kickstarter for Jovian Wars - the new miniatures game from DP9 - I'm sure the interest for the setting in general will grow. I'm not holding my breath for anything new for the rpg, but it's still nice to have a "living setting", as it were.

I also got to play (yes, play not GM!) the new Coriolis by the Free League and Modiphius and we're looking to continue our adventures in the Third Horizon in 2017. Our group are explorators - archeologists to be precies - and we're currently investigating a rumoured artifact in the Erequ system. My character is a fugitive with mystical powers that has found employment as an articaft "specialist". We are currently on the run from the local secret police and seem to have become embroiled in a secret war between the current totalitarian regime and the old regime that lost its power in a coup. Good stuff all around!

Beyond that I've taken a look at Storium which is an online rpg medium which seems interesting. You take turns and write about what you do so a game can extend over weeks and months, which is a nice contrast and cool to just have humming in the background. I've even considered integrating it with our Jovian Chronicles campaign as an advanced form of blue booking. Maybe. It's an interesting concept anyway!

Considering I got to start playing Jovian Chronicles I'm putting a big checkmark on my January post on which rpgs I wanted to play in 2016!

Miniature Games 

Infinity again saves the year from becoming completely mini gaming barren! Me and Claes just managed to squeeze in the first two tutorial missions from Operation: Red Veil this week. Although he tried the game last year it didn't really stick so we both felt we might as well start from scratch, and also motivate each other to paint. Unfortunately none of us finished any figures for this game, but we still played to get our motivation going.

These are of course tutorial missions, with just three or four minis per side on a tiny battlefield with paper terrain and yet Infinity's core mechanics are so well designed that even this can become nail-biting experiences! Some highlights include; a shotgun blast, covering two of my Zhanshi and hitting on 17 or less, that missed with a roll of double 18! My nice big heavy armoured Zuyong being the first casualty, showing how lethal the game is. The final roll in the game with my last Zhanshi firing at the Khawarij, the last standing Haqq model, and critting - saving me from loosing the game and settle for a draw instead.

While I have some important other painting priorities to take care of first, this really made me eager to play the rest of the mini-campaign!

You might wonder what happened to Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander that I went on about a year ago. Well, I'm still waiting for my opponents to even put together their Dropzone models so I have kind of shelved that - even going as far as considering offloading my Games & Gears Dropzone table that finally arrived. Things might change if they get inspired by Dropfleet, but if not I simply need to focus on the games that actually get played. Fingers crossed though!

As for Dropfleet - it has arrived in all its kickstarting glory and it looks both fun and beautifull! However, as I mentioned above I have some other painting to take care of first, and I have also decided to wait until my opponents have at least built, and hopefully painted, their fleets before I touch mine. I know I can finish mine in a few evenings so I am not worried about falling behind. And don't worry, I'm not bitter simply pragmatic. I will build and paint things that I know will see play from now on.

Last year I also talked about Jovian Chronicles and Lightning Strike and I've shown some of my painted exo armours but.... you ain't seen nothing yet! Hehe!

That sums up most of my gaming year I think. As always I'll follow up this post with the Future - 2017 post soon about all the games I want and hope to get to play during the coming year!

Now, Happy New Year everybody!
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Star Wars: Imperial Assault Campaign - Part 3

Star Wars Imperial Assault AT-ST
And we're back with some high adventure from a galaxy far, far away! With only four(?) missions left of the core campaign the heroes are getting more powerful at the same time as the Empire is deploying more of its elite troops. If you need to catch up please check out part one and part two of the campaign.

I only needed to paint one additional model for this session - Carnor Jax, I mean the Royal Guard Champion. Yes, that really is Carnor Jax as can be seen on the cards from the Imperial Assault beta playtesting phase. For some reason they felt they had to change it, probably because of what Disney let FFG do (and don't do) with established characters. However it's just as obvious as General Sorin really being General Veers. Anyway, on to the reporting!

As always, there will be SPOILERS for the core campaign below so keep that in mind.

After one win and two losses in our last session the rebels were hungry for getting one back on the ole' Empire. Unfortunately for them things didn't go according to plan and they found themselves being sucked into an imperial stardestroyer! There was a small chance of escape though, if they could destroy four critical terminals controlling the tractor beams and then get back to their ship. It looked a little hairy from the get go though...

Star Wars Imperial Assault - Drawn In
I have a bad feeling about this!
While the stormtroopers didn't pose that much of a threat the E-web blaster cannon and the elite officer directing its fire proved a deadly combination! Diala moved toward the closest door and tried to open it to access the terminal beyond but rolled badly and lost a complete turn just getting it open, even with Gideons help! Jyn blasted stormtroopers left and right while ducking and weaving her way toward the other door. Fenn charged toward the E-web but quickly got pinned down and soon had to retreat back from the heavy fire. Finally, Gideon was so busy ordering people around that he forgot to move out of the line of fire and soon found himself wounded. And to make matters worse the door Diala had (finally!) managed to open shut close again!

I got to say that during the first two or three turns my dice were hot as hell while the rebels couldn't even open their doors. If it hadn't been murder it would have been funny how I just kept rolling four damage with my stormies and double that with the E-web while the rebel return fire proved mostly ineffective. Fenns assault on the heavy gun was beaten back and he and Jyn instead went the other way around, through the control room.

Star Wars Imperial Assault E-web
Charging an E-web with support is brutal!
Diala did finally manage to get in and destroy her terminal and Jyn and Fenn destroyed their closest one, while in a fierce battle with my elite stormtrooper squad just around the corner, close to the E-web. At that time the Carnor Jax spawned from a Doom-esque door behind them and proceeded to cut down poor Gideon. As more troops kept pouring in we had a little discussion about their chances and while they had managed to destroy two terminals and had one more nearby, the rebels simply didn't see how they could possibly take out the fourth and get back to the elevator back to their ship without all of them getting wounded. At this time Diala was the only unwounded hero but Carnor Jax was closing in so instead of drawing it out they held up their hands and let themselves be take captive.

Another Imperial victory! After this we should have played the forced Escape mission but after some discussion we decided to simply skip it in favour of getting on with the campaign. It's not that we didn't want to play the mission as such, but it would have meant the need for an extra session to finish the campaign, and it's not like the Escape mission has any juicy rewards you miss out on.

Instead we went to the next side mission and since Fenn's character mission, Brushfire, was available the heroes decided on that rather than trying to recruit Han Solo. It's a pretty fun mission where the heroes have to run around and disarm six bombs while avoiding fire from a huge AT-ST. It was of course extra fun since we got to use the painted model for the AT-ST which hadn't seen play yet!

Star Wars Imperial Assault - Brushfire
*Gonk-stom, gonk-stomp, gonk-stomp!*
They again brought their meat shields, getting me enough Threat to deploy my veteran elite stormtroopers who are... pretty scary at this point! I gave the Assault Armor to the AT-ST for some extra durability as I knew both Diala and Fenn could put out some nasty damage. The heroes raced forward and quickly took out the probe droid and the closest bomb. Fenn then rushed ahead toward the red bomb behind the AT-ST! A bold move indeed. While he did manage to disarm that bomb he had to retreat before using it on the AT-ST as the fire from the elite stormtroopers and the walker itself was overwhelming.

A squad of heavy stormtroopers caught the clumped up rebel forces in a crossfire and put some light damage on almost all of them. Diala ran after Fenn, trying to cover him as well as getting the other red bomb, while Jyn ran pas the walker and down toward the blue bomb. Gideon and the troopers stayed behind and Gideon got the other yellow bomb in the corner.

Star Wars Imperial Assault AT-ST attack
It was at this point that Claes, who plays Jynn, realized she had made the noblest sacrifice!
Jynn's dash didn't go unnoticed though and soon the AT-ST had shifted its attention to her. Backed up by another probe droid the wounded smuggler was running head over heels, with trees blowing up around her! A wounded Fenn barely managed to take out the E-web and then slowly tried to make his way through the muddy water to the blue bomb in the corner. Diala bravely used her Way of the Sarlacc to figh of the elite stormtroopers but was soon wounded simply because of the superior numbers!

Star Wars Imperial Assault - Trooper vs Trooper
I really liked this little vignette! Two grunts firing away at each other while their superiors take all the glory.
The heavy stormtroopers took out the last of the rebel troopers and the walker again shifted its focus back to Gideon - the only still healthy hero in the group! Fenn just managed to disarm the next to final bomb and the Diala avoided enough damage to move close to the final bomb and... disarm it! Which was in the nick of time as the AT-ST would have moved and fired twice on Gideon in the next activavion - probably giving the win to the Empire. As it was the rebels stood victorious instead, having driven the Imperial presence off Onderon! A great close-fought game - much more even and fun than Drawn In had been.

We finished with the regular post-mission book keeping of buying weapons and skills. All the heroes now have one of their top 4xp skills and Diala and Fenn are using Tier III weaponry (Fore Pike and Pulse Cannon respectively) while Jynn is still holding on to her DL-44.

The next two missions are The Source followed by the Finale! However, with birthdays and christmas coming up it will probably have to wait until the beginning of January. Until then, may the Force be with you!
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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Painted Grizzly for Heavy Gear

Grizzly for Heavy Gear Blitz painted by Fire Broadside

Last month Heavy Gear enthusiast and general nice guy Brandon Keith Fero organized a Heavy Gear painting competition over at the Terra Nova DMZ FB group (head on over if you are even remotely interested in Heavy Gear - it's a great group of people!). At first I felt too busy with Imperial Assault and Infinity to join up, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it! For me the main reason was the motivation to actually get a mecha painted (I've found proper, hard dead lines are what works best for me) and also come up with a new way of painting as my old system, from six years ago, was a bit slow.

The choice of model was easy - the Grizzly is one of my favourite gears and as I had a couple of metal ones lying around I prepped one and got to work. I wanted a fairly relaxed look that nevertheless emphasized the size and weight of both the mech itself and the heavy autocannon it carries. Normally you have to put the cannon much higher, across the chest/cockpit, to get the two handed hold, but that didn't give me the "relaxed" look I wanted so I modified the waist a bit. Well, modified is a strong word - I pinned the torso to the waist in a way that propped it up and allowed me to fit the gun (just barely!) under the chest. The only problem is you can see the gap from some angles.

Grizzly for Heavy Gear Blitz painted by Fire Broadside
I like this picture the best as it reminds me of Ghislain Barbe's art. You can see the gap thouh! Doh!

Painting wise I wanted something fairly quick - a wash probably. After some consideration i went with VGC Khaki followed by a quick, lighter drybrush just to get the first highlights on there and then a strong tone wash. After that it was simply a matter of using Khaki/Bonewhite/Off-White to build up the hightlights. The weathering was done by dabbing German Grey around exposed areas followed by pure Off-White highlights here and there.

The black/grey areas are VMC Basalt Grey with a Nuln Oil wash followed by hightlights with Basalt Grey and Sky Grey. At first the guns also used this colour but that became too bland so I decided to do the guns with VGC Bastalt Grey/Steel Grey/Sky Grey instead for a metallic effect. Of course the guns would be perfectly maintained while the gear itself was somewhat neglected. Hehe! The missile hatches are simply Off-White and Khorne Red with some tiny highlights. For the dust effects I used Vallejo pigments Burnt Umber and Dark Yellow Ochre. And that was it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Grizzly for Heavy Gear Blitz painted by Fire Broadside
Here's a good view of the Pack Gun and Grenade Launcher.
In the end I spent a little more time on it than I wanted, but I could easily cut back a bit on the weathering and the process would be much quicker. Then again, the weathering is what makes it pop I think. And it fits very well with the gritty Heavy Gear universe!

The scheme itself is fairly close to my old one although I would say it has been refined or rebooted. The old and new models could probably share a table without it looking weird.

Grizzly for Heavy Gear Blitz painted by Fire Broadside
Sorry for the slightly out of focus pictures. I'm still learning how to use my wife's new camera. :)
I really enjoyed putting this guy together and now that the Heavy Gear kickstarter box has arrived as well I have quite a bit of work ahead of me. I don't think I'll get right back into it just yet though as there are a number of games with higher priority waiting for attention. But now I have a colour scheme that looks good and paints quickly when it's time. Then again... I suppose I should really paint some opposition to my North forces so I can actually play the game!

Oh, and I was lucky enough to win that painting competition so now I have to decide on the grand prize - a tank or a gear strider. Hmm...

Monday, 10 October 2016

Star Wars: Imperial Assault Campaign - Part 2

Imperial Assault from FFG Fly Solo mission
Pew pew!
Time to chronicle the next part of the campaign! With time being quite limited for a few of us we have only managed to play another three missions, but we're still having fun and this means that there is (probably) only three more missions to go before the grande finale! If you need to catch up, part 1 of our campaign chronicles can be read here.

As I've finished everything from the core box (except the leftover heroes) my painting has slowed somewhat and now I'm painting what is needed for the upcoming mission instead. In other news I have started assembling my new Yu Jing miniatures from the Red Veil starter, so my focus might shift. However, I did paint the Heavy Stormtroopers from Twin Suns and two Hired Guns simply because I love the miniatures and they seem are fun. No nice close ups of them at the moment though, so you'll have to spot the in action.

Again, there might be slight SPOILERS below so if you are sensitive to that, stop reading.

After having lost the last mission, trying to retrieve Diala's lightsaber, the Rebels were eager to throw themselves back into the fray and go look for Han Solo who had gone silent after leaving for a mission on Tattooine. The mission was Fly Solo, where the heroes don't have much information up front and are simply told to go open a door, preferably as soon as possible.

Imperial Assault from FFG Fly Solo mission
The Rebel Troopers really didn't do much this time around. Jyn with her sneaky snap shot on the other hand!
They decided to bring their Rebel Trooper allies with them again, which allowed me to beef up my defences. And although they definitely made headway toward the door, I think the resistance was more than they had anticipated. They didn't manage to reach the door by the end of turn three which meant that Han Solo had to make a daring escape by himself, blasting at his pursuers even with his hands tied!

Imperial Assault from FFG Han Solo makes his appearance
Han rescues himself!
Now the objective became to protect Solo and get him to the entry point to win the mission. Problem was of course that I had spawn points at the two corners close to the entry point and there was soon a large number of Imperial troops (and their hired guns!) bearing down on the heroes and Han. Also, to add insult to injury, IG-88 made his first appearance and started relentlessly stomp toward the Rebel hero!

Imperial Assault from FFG Fly Solo mission
"Great rescue, guys!"
The Rebel Troopers were long gone at this point and the Heavy Stormtroopers now had the distance to make the best use of their guns. After much consideration and many a deep sigh the heroes decided to risk it by sending Solo out alone, and I agree that it looked like their only chance (as he was surrounded by Stormtroopers at this point). He did manage to dodge a couple of shots, but in the end the attackers simply swamped the smuggler and he went down from a nasty shot by a Heavy Stormtrooper.

Imperial Assault from FFG Fly Solo mission
In the end accurate heavy blaster fire brough Han down.
Victory to the Empire!

Next up was another side mission and I had put Means of Production into play, as it would give me a juicy attachment if they didn't do that mission next, or if the did it and lost. After looking at the alternatives the heroes decided to try and prevent me from bolstering my forces and went after the secret R&D facility to try and shut it down.

Imperial Assault from FFG Means of Production mission
Having learned a valuable lesson last time, the heroes were quick out of the starting blocks in this mission!
Reading through this mission I was fairly confident that it would be an easy win for me, as I had the ability to strengthen a number of critical doors that the Rebels had to get through. But in the first round they already rushed ahead and blew through the first door! While this gave my newly placed E-Web some free shots at the heroes (inflicting nasty damage!) it also meant that the Rebels had seized the momentum of the game.

Imperial Assault from FFG Means of Production mission
Diala and Jyn racing ahead.
While Jyn and Diala ran ahead to take care of the computer console they needed to access, Gideon and Fenn stayed near the entrance to hold off the reinforcements. This was another mission that really came down to the wire as there were several moments that were critical to the eventual outcome. All heroes but Fenn were wounded a the end and I just failed my chance to wound him as well. Back near the access terminal I actually did make three rather huge errors - 1) I failed to spawn my elite stormtroopers earlier (and instead spawned a probe droid. Bah! What was I thinking), 2) I moved one of the Stormtroopers clumsily which prevented me taking a shot with another trooper which would likely have won me the game, 3) I applied the wrong defence to the door in the penultimate round (the stun defence mechanism would have also won me the game).

Imperial Assault from FFG Means of Production mission
Elite Stormtroopers and automatic defences put Jyn out of action, but Diala just managed to complete the objective.
So in the final turn Jyn blasted open the door but was wounded a second time as she did it, leaving Diala with just one or two health left to go in and access the terminal, winning the game! It was a fun little scenario and it was about time the Rebels got a win in.

The next side mission was a choice of either trying to receive Han as an (expensive) ally or help Luke Skywalker with some recruite for a very situational ability card. In the end the heroes decided to go for the card and so we played Sympathy for the Rebellion.

Imperial Assault from FFG Sympathy for the Rebellion mission
It's nice to be able to use the big damn heroes now and again. Go get 'em, Luke!
This is a pretty interesting scenario where the heroes, and Luke, have to try and save as many recruits as possible as their meeting has become compromised and Imperial troops are storming the compound. The Imperial player has the opposite mission of trying to grab as many of the recruits with his Stormtroopers for interrogation. I was mostly excited to play this mission since Big D would show up in turn four to look scary!

Imperial Assault from FFG Sympathy for the Rebellion mission
Tricky position for the Heroes. Will Luke's inspiring presence be enough?!
It felt very thematic to have a couple of Trandoshan Hunters joining the Imperials and they started close to Luke and the heroes and during the first couple of turns proved a real thorn in the Rebel's side. In the second turn they gunned down Luke, point blank range, and once the heroes finally dispatched them I had enough threat, from grabbing recruits, to respawn them again immediately!

Imperial Assault from FFG Sympathy for the Rebellion mission
This picture was taken mere seconds before the demise of Luke Skywalker at the hands of some dirty, dirty Trandoshans!
In fact it was quickly apparent that the heroes were in a real pickle as they had only managed to get out three recruits, with one more being carried by Gideon. They needed to save one more to win, but each time I wounded a hero I got to remove one of the recruit tokens still available on the board. I had made a beeline for the recruits with my Stormtroopers as well, almost ignoring the heroes, which meant there was only a single recruit left on the board. I had my Heavy Stormtroopers attack Gideon, but even after three attacks (using some Agenda Card magic) he was left standing with one health away from being wounded! However, I had earlier spawned an elite Probe Droid, just for kicks since I had so much Threat at the time, and for the first time since the campaign started I had an opportunity to use its self-destruct ability! It simply sidled up next to Gideon, Fenn and Jyn and went boom, wounding Gideon and allowing me to take away that last recruit and making the mission unwinnable for the Rebels.

Imperial Assault from FFG Sympathy for the Rebellion mission
This brave probe droid, VP-44, gave its life so that the loyal soldiers of the Empire would prevail this day!
We will remember.
Another Imperial victory, and at the end of round two! Both me and the hero players were a little taken aback at how quickly it had escalated. And I hadn't gotten to use Vader! Well, hopefully in a future mission.

So there we are, another three missions down with one Rebel and two Imperial wins. To continue our 50/50 statistics the Rebels should win the next story mission - Drawn In - which we might get to play by the end of the month.


I don't really know what you're doing down here as there really isn't much non-spoilery to talk about down here. Hmm... well, thanks for scrolling down anyway. Oh, I know, I'll put a picture of the Hired Guns here!

Imperial Assault from FFG Hired Guns
Hired Guns, baby! Lots of fun to paint and play with. I used the cover of Beyond the Rim for inspiration as the clothes and pose are almost identical to that Rodian.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Which GW-based game to get from FFG before they're gone!

No more GW games from FFG

What has long been suspected by the community has now been confirmed by Fantasy Flight Games; they no longer has the license to produce games based on Games Workshop properties and will stop selling any of their current GW based games on February 28th 2017. So... panic and pandemonium among the (rather large) crowd who really like what FFG has managed to do with the different GW IPs. Still, we have about five months to stock up on what's missing and if we're lucky FFG will run some juicy sales before pulping their remaining stock next year.

There has been a lot of speculation as to why the split happened. Since FFG didn't show any sign of stopping the production of new GW-based games until earlier this year when they released the print on demand character expansions for Warhammer Quest. This seemed like a really odd move to me, as the game was a great success both commercially and critically. After that there were no new anouncements except for the current cycle of Warhammer 40k Conquest that was already set in motion. Then came Gencon and I thought "if there is no GW-based game announced at Gencon the relationship is over" and there wasn't and it is. So what happened?

It will probably be years (if ever) until what actually happens leak out, but my guess is that this was a decision made by GW, not FFG. Maybe because GW have been moving into board gaming themselves the last couple of years, and want to create their own market. Or maybe they took affront to the new Runewars miniatures game that is in direct competition with their own Age of Sigmar (neo-Warhammer). I actually read an interesting rumour that FFG had approached GW about making accessory pieces (markers? Terrain?) for both Age of Sigmar and 40k but got told to pretty much fuck right off, upon which FFG decided to make their own fantasy wargame. Just a rumour though. Or it could have been the other way around of FFG making Runewars and GW taking offence and yanking the license. Either way... no more great Warhammer games from FFT.

Now, there are a few months left so which games are worth getting and how should you prioritize and try and squeeze them into that already too small gaming budget? Fear not... I've made a lists...

Board games

1. Chaos in the Old World
Yep, I put this at number one rather than Forbidden Stars. It's not that CitOW is actually the better game (I'd say they're both equally brilliant!) however, it is quite a bit cheaper, has a more unique theme (you get to play as the actual Chaos Gods!!) and it can be played in 90 minutes easily. Those are going to be some mighty tense 90 minutes as the knife fight in a phone booth-type gameplay really amps up the action from round one. Highly, highly recommended!
What about the expansion? Get it if you can, but it's not essential unless you often find yourself with a group of five players. It does add some cool stuff and it's nice to have a completely alternate way of playing all the gods.

2. Forbidden Stars
Had it been cheaper and more accessible (read, shorter) this might have made the top of the list but it is nonetheless a superb game of space warfare with beautiful sculpts of all my old 40k favourites. I don't think I need to talk much about its merits as Forbidden Stars has received praise from all corners of the community. Get this is you prefer 40k over Fantasy and especially if you have a hard time getting together a group of four players. While you can play less than four in Chaos in the Old World the game really suffers from it, whereas Forbidden Stars work great with two and even three players! Of all the games we're loosing because of this deal, not seeing an expansion (with Tyranids!) for Forbidden Stars might be what I'll miss the most.

3. Fury of Dracula
Another sign that points to GW cutting ties - Fury of Dracula was released around the time of Gencon 2015 to much praise from the community who had longed for a reprint of this classic game. This has nothing to do with Warhammer but is simply a fantastic deduction game of many against one as you race through Europe trying to corner the most elusive and dangerous of prey - Count Dracula. The theme is marvellous and the components and board (as always) beautiful. I've also heard that in this latest edition FFG has fixed the combat system that sometimes felt a little clunky. The only, potentially, negative point is that Fury of Dracula can often run for two, three or sometimes even four hours which might be an issue for some people. I just find it a great way to spend an evening though. Hehe!

4. Blood Bowl: Team Manager
This is a small card game that kind of snuck up on me. I was certainly interested in it but didn't expect it to be as fun as it is! It plays quickly at around 60-90 minutes and it works well with two, three or four players. While naturally abstracted quite a bit from the gritty matches of the original Blood Bowl it nevertheless manages to capture the feel of the game. It's usually quite a bit of back and forth during the tournaments as you use your different players, and often a clever way to use an ability can turn a certain defeat into a win! For this I'd recommend getting both of the expansions as they add not only new teams but new rules as well, which might be needed to keep the game fresh for as long as possible.

5. Space Hulk: Death Angel
I was going to put Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game in spot 5 as I think it is probably a more fun game, it might even be better than Blood Bowl: Team Manager. But, and this is a big but, it was obviously made to have lots and lots of expansions providing more than the measly three included in the base game, and that is the crux of the matter - with no new quests how long will the base game actually last? I've heard people getting kind of bored with it after playing the same quest just two or three times. So even though I think Warhammer Quest is a better game as such, I'm going with Death Angel as it simply has a lot more replay value (and it's cheap!). The game is tense and really difficult (hey, it's Space Hulk!) with difficult tactical choices getting thrown at you every turn.

You'll see your nice big squad of marines systematically and unceremoniously being torn into little bloody pieces by the hordes of genestealers who simply love to camp out in abandonded old spaceships. It can at times run a little long for what is essentially a filler, but that might be down to me agonizing about my (Sophie's) choices each turn! It's an excellent solo game and very good for two players although I'm not sure how well it holds up with more players than that (besides becoming increasingly difficult!). As for expansions, get them if you can but they're certainly not needed to have many hours of fun(?) with this game.

Joker: Warhammer: Diskwars
Yeah... I have no experience with Diskwars, at all, and kind of discounted it when I first read the announcement from FFG - "this looks silly, I bet it is silly". Except, it seems like a lot of people really like it and that it might actually capture a lot of the feel of Warhammer Fantasy Battles without any of the hassles of miniatures painting or headache-inducing rules. Just read this review by Geosphere over at BGG called A Metric Ton of Fun in a Box! It also sits at a comfortable rating o 7.4 which is more than both Death Angel and Team Manager. Since I have no personal experience with it I can't recommend it myself, but do some research and see if it's your kind of thing.

Runners-up (or, left-overs)
There are some more GW-based games that didn't make my top five, namely Talisman (and its endless expansions!), Relic and Chaos Marauders. I really don't like Talisman as I find it just an endless affair with no interesting decisions and even if Relic improved on this slightly, it's simply not my cup of tea. No recommendation from me. Chaos Marauders I haven't actually played but from reading quite a bit about it a few years ago it seems like an ok filler, but not anything unique enough to warrant emergency funds.

Living Card Games

I'll talk briefly about the LCGs as I'm not that well-versed in them. I've played Warhammer Invasion a few times and while I surely enjoyed it it didn't give me that wow-feeling like Netrunner, or even Star Wars the Card Game, did. I guess if you are really into Warhammer Fantasy and LCGs it might be a good fit, but then again if that was the case you probably already own it.
Warhammer 40,000 Conquest is another matter though. Again it's a game I haven't played myself, but I have watched it played and enough people, whose judgement I trust, recommend it that I think it might be worth considering getting before the plug is pulled. Have a look at how it plays (plenty of videos on youtube) and read some reviews to see if it is for you.

Now, there's something to be said about a "dead" living card game. There won't be officially organized events, no new cards released and a much smaller community than, say, Netrunner. But in the same way these issues can be drawbacks for some, they can be boons for others! If you mostly want to play casually with your friends it might be liberating, in a way, to know that there aren't new packs to pick up each month and that the game is, in a way, "complete".

Roleplaying Games

FFG took up the reins after Black Industries were shut down and I think generally they did some good work, even though all of their rpg products are unessecarily wordy and can be a real slog to get through simply because the sheer number of pages and the very meticulous language with lots of repetition. Still, the background material is overall good and it's hard not to get inspired when flipping through the books. All of the core books are meaty beasts, so if you are strapped for cash but want to keep yourself covered, just getting these (and maybe the first sourcebook released for each line) would go a long way! Now, here is my personal list of recommendations:

1. Dark Heresy
Unless you have a very specific interest in Rogue Traders, Space marines, Chaos or the Guard just get Dark Heresy. It gives you the most freedom on both how to run your campaign and how the players can create their characters. You can play trench warfare or courtroom intrigue or anything in between and you rarely feel stuck in a rut with Dark Heresy. The sourcebooks released for the game (1st edition) are overall good, although I think Ascension and Daemon Hunter ups the power level more than I'm comfortable with. Scenarios has also often been a problem area for FFG - as a rule of thumb the first adventure book released for one of their roleplaying games (usually just after the core book, and usually containing three linked scenarios) is quite good, but then the longer, three-part campaign is kind of bad. So go for Purge the Unclean, but hold off on the Haarlock Legacy if you don't want to put in the extra work to get it up to snuff.

I haven't read the new second edition, but from what I've heard it is more of a revised edition than a complete overhaul. I'm not sure I would bother with it if it would make it harder for me to use the material in the old books.

2. Rogue Trader
This is my personal 40k rpg favourite! I love the grand scope of things and the freedom you can give your players to explore and create their own adventures, in a sense. The tricky bit is that it can be hard to get this grand scale across. When you have a ship with a crew in the tens of thousands it just feels silly for the captain to have a shootout in a dingy bar. Don't have a shootout, have a war! This was also a problem that plagued the official scenarios released - while they at times get the scale right it just as often feels off. This is also why I'm not putting it at number one, Rogue Trader does require more work from the GM. Or perhaps not more work, but it requires a flexible GM that can run a kind of semi-sandbox campaign with only a general skeleton framework that the players themselves flesh out. Or that is at least my take on it. I guess you could play it in a way similar to Star Trek, where the captain and the most important officers keep beaming down everywhere personally to take care of stuff even though they have a huge crew! But that would defeat the purpose of the insane scale of Warhammer 40k!

I think the different sourcebooks for Rogue Trader are of high quality and worth getting if you like the setting. The adventures might seem a bit lacklustre if you run them straight from the book, but could make for a good framework for a more player driven campaign, so don't discount them.

3. Deathwatch
For me, Deathwatch was really when the kind of giant-on-clay-feet that is the 40krp system started to show both its age and its cracks. With so many different mechanics layered on top of eachother it made the game... cumbersome to run. And keep in mind, this is coming from a person who likes crunch in his games! If I were to run Deathwatch again I think I would use a different system that fits the heroic, almost superhero, style better. Perhaps FATE. However, I still think it is worth getting the books simply for the lore and the many ideas you can get from them for your own campaigns, if you want to run a space marine game that is.

4. Only War
I was kind of excited for Only War as the Imperial Guard has long been a favourite faction of mine, when it comes to 40k. And although the game is certainly not bad by any means it doesn't really stand out as anything all that special either. Yes, there are tons of info on the imperial guard and the military machine of the Imperium. But so much of it is simply WWI/WWII/Vietnam in space it's rarely anything that actually feels new. If Deathwatch is a superhero game then Only War should be the gritty, down in the mud game about the stories of individual soldiers and how they fought and died. Sure, you can use the 40krp engine for that, but I immediately want to run it with the awesome USCM (Aliens colonial marines) hack for Torchbearer instead! It is also crunchy, but in a completely different way - instead of trying to be a bad simulator it instead goes full on gut punch and gravel in your eye while still having a laser focus on the personal stories. Again though, the FFG books can be good for the lore.

Jokers: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 3rd edition and Black Crusade

WFRP3 is a bit of an odd duck, both brilliant and flawed, and certainly intriguing. You might remember that we played through The Gathering Storm campaign back when the third edition was released in 2010, and while we had a lot of fun with it, toward the end we (or at least I) felt quite a bit of token/card fatigue as it kept growing with each expansion introduced. The system is really quite good, but a little rough around the edges - which FFG now have polished with the Star Wars rpgs. The cards are brilliant in the sense that you have all the rules right in front of you, however the drawback is that the players often sit and stare at their cards to try and figure out their next, most optimal action, rather than just going with the flow and simply describing what they do and asking what to roll. So, at times, it felt more like playing World of Warcraft than a pen and paper rpg. Part of me really like it and want to play it again, but another part of me just want to cut out the core bits and get rid of the cruft (like with Star Wars!). Or... I'll just use the first or second edition, or even Torchbearer for my Warhammer games in the future. Again, if you want to go for it, consider skipping the adventures as they are so-so. Certainly not bad as such, and they can absolutely be salvaged, but I think getting the source boxes (the different chaos god boxes, Hero's Call and Signs of Faith) would bring you more in the long run. Besides, there are so many really good adventures for the first and second editions to use!

Black Crusade gets put as Joker simply because I haven't read any of it and I don't really know if it's good or not. It didn't really interest me when announced, but I could see playing as a band of chaos marauders if you go with the much weirder, old-school chaos from the Rogue Trader era instead of the current spiky skull demon style. Still, check out some reviews and see if it's something for you.

I think that about covers it! Now get going as there is sure to be a rush...

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Monday, 29 August 2016

Star Wars: Imperial Assault Campaign

The Imperial Forces of Star Wars Imperial Assault

Helloooo! Long time, no see and all that! Well... let's get into it, shall we?

About a month ago I got the urge to try the Star Wars: Imperial Assault skirmish game. I've had the core box of SWIA for more than a year but had only got to play it with my nieces which was fun, but didn't really provide the full experience. I don't exactly remember why the inclination to try the skirmish popped into my head (had I watched Episode VII again perhaps?) but there it was so I took the big box and trotted over to Anders.

Vader is advancing
In this game we learned that Vader is just as much of a badass as you think he should be!
We played twice. First the scenario from the core box with the recommended forces and then with the scenario from the IG-88 expansion (cause IG-88 is awesome!). In the first scenario I played as the rebels, four heroes and Luke, against Vader and some of his cronies. In the next I took IG-88 and some bounty hunter scum versus Luke and a more balanced rebel list, including some troopers and saboteurs.

IG-88 and his hired hitmen
What IG-88 brought with him to deal with those pesky rebels.
I had been a bit sceptical about the skirmish game, wondering if the old Descent mechanics would really translate well to a full on competetive game like this, but I'm happy to report that we had a blast! Not only do the mechanics flow naturally after a turn or two, it actually feel really Star Warsy (well, as long as you field reasonably thematic forces I suppose). I would actually say that the Descent mechanics work better when you have mostly ranged combat like this - which is of course entirely natural as they were originally designed for the original Doom boardgame.

So, lots of fun! Both of us were all fired up to play more - both skirmish and campaign. I was excited enough to immediately go home and start painting and Anders was excited enough to run out and buy some Rebel Troopers and last week even investing in the Bespin expansion where he will be the Imperial player in the mini campaign. Awesome!

Jyn, Gideon, Diala and Fenn.
Jyn, Gideon, Diala and Fenn.
We rounded up another couple of players and started the campaign a few days later. For the first session (covering the intro scenario and one side mission) they played with one hero each but for the second onward we decided to add Gideon to the heroes to make it a full party of four as that extra activation can have some weird effects on game balance. Anders chose Fenn the soldier while Claes took Jyn the smuggler and Anna Diala the former jedi padawan.

If you are worried about Imperial Assault spoilers you might want to skip down a bit as I'll be talking a little about the first four missions we played. Not in detail, but still.

Even though I put up stiff resistance and swarmed the terminals with Stormtroopers they still managed to win Aftermath. It was a close fight though and I managed to wound two of them and they only destroyed the last terminal on the final turn. A good sign!

Stormtroopers storming the Troopers!
Yeah, that's right! I painted the real heroes before the rebel scum!
For the next mission they chose Brace for Impact as their side mission as that would allow them to field Trooper allies in future missions. Quite a fun scenario where a number of rebel troopers are being beseiged by Imperial forces and the heroes have to a) protect them and b) interact with a terminal. I had a jolly good time mowing down those troopers with my elite stormtroopers and it looked like the Empire would win. But in the last round Claes made a clever move with Jyn and Diala (who was far away from the exit) could use the double activation to move the 20 spaces needed. Again, a great, very Star Warsy experience that came down to the wire!

That was our first session and for the second I kept painting and we were able to play with all painted miniatures but for two exceptions: General Weiss and Vader.

Probe Droids everywhere!
Fenn ran off while the others kicked probe droid ass!
The next mission was A New Threat, the first proper Story mission, and a fairly big one at that. The heroes needed to split up and interact with three different terminals, all the while being hounded by Imperial forces and having nasty surprises sprung at them when doors opened. Fenn quickly took care of his terminal while Diala and Jyn (with Gideon) stayed around to kill some probe droids before moving on. In the end it came down to a dice roll by Jyn to see if she could slice the terminal she was at, but failed just barely giving the Empire its first victory. Oh, and general Weiss turned up at the last minute with his tricked out walker but he didn't really do anything except shouting for a bit.

General Weiss turns up
A Nexu ended up biting Jynn's face off, while General Weiss tried to stomp on Gideon.
Next up was Diala's attempt at getting her lightsaber! The mission was called Temptation and it has some cool mechanics for handling the dark and light side of the force. Diala can use the force to either get extra attacks (but loose willpower/time) or heal her friends and allow the enemy to attack (but gain willpower/time). The heroes are fighting of force ghosts in the form of past enemies and it culminates with a ghostly version of Vader, very much like in The Empire Strikes Back. While not at full strenght Vader is still a formidable enemy with great defence and strong attacks. The heroes managed to bring him down to one health but at that time he force choked Diala and defeated her, ending the mission with another Imperial victory.

Firing squad!
Even with ther Trooper allies the heroes couldn't prevail agains the Empire.
With two victories for each side we're all looking forward to the next session. Fly Solo is up as the coming Story mission and after that there will be two side missions back to back. Perhaps they can recruit Han Solo as an ally, or get a reward or two to help them out in coming missions.

End spoilers!

As I mentioned I've been a very (unusually!) disciplined while painting, usually putting in a couple of hours every evening at least. Right now there are only three minis left in the first wave to finish - Weiss, Chewbacca and the Royal Guard Champion. Then I have the new Heavy Stormtroopers and Tuskens from Twin Shadows to paint as well as a couple of Hired Guns that will fit right into the current campaign. I also have Boba Fett, R2 and 3PO and Leia, but as they won't be appearing in this campaign they're further down the line.

AT-ST saying hi!
I wanted to weather it a fair bit, but still not too much. It's more or less clean above the chin.
AT-ST back
I used some extra weathering powders for the back machine panel. Just felt right to have it gunky.
I just finished the regular AT-ST the other day and it was great fun to paint. One of the reasons I've been able to paint every day like this is because I've, roughly, been following the excellent painting videos made by Sorastro. While they don't really cover anything new for me, it's really nice to have everything figured out for you. For me most of the hard work of painting is composition and all the tiny decisions about what colour to use and how can be tiring. Now I could just follow his step by step, modifying as I went when I had a better/quicker approach, and it was all very nice and meditative. Also, Sorastro uses washes much more than I do, so I've actually learnt a bit there, as well as how to paint fur more effectively. Good stuff all around, highly recommended!

Anyway, here are the rest of the miniatures painted so far. Oh, and about the bases - right now they're all a beige grey and I haven't quite decided what to do with them. At first I wanted to try acrylic bases, but that might get tricky when you want to tell different units apart. I'm now leaning to regular scenic bases with sand and grass.

Han and Luke
You can see that I don't really bother with mold lines or filling in gaps. This is a board game after all.

Vader was easy and fun to paint. And just adding those small dabs of red here and there really sell the light saber!

Hoping for a proper rematch for these two!

That's it for now! I'll put up another report after our next session.