Tag Archive: “Miniatures”

Dark Imperium (Games Workshop)

Don’t just sit there! Grab that bolt gun, throw on your flak jacket and get out to the front lines, soldier. The emperor needs you!

Warhammer 40,000 is back with a new edition and Games Workshop seems to have done the nearly impossible, mostly satisfied its gamers! Having suffered some dissatisfaction during the murky transition from the incredible End Times series for Warhammer Fantasy to the… wholly different Age of Sigmar, lessons seem to have been learned and applied. Point values are here right from the beginning and no new bases for all of your old models – bonus!

Dark Imperium is the new box set that introduces this edition and includes a nice starting force for the Primaris Space Marines and the Chaos Space Marine Death Guard. A pretty much undisputed leader in the field, the models are beautiful (and hideous, respectively) but what about the new set of rules?

Let me quickly say that the thing about Games Workshop’s games is that modeling is a large part of the hobby. Buying a boxed game or a box set of soldiers is just the start of weeks (or months) of basing, painting, and assembling. Of course you don’t need to paint your army, but the spectacle of a battlefield filled with painted models is a pretty amazing one!

As I’m still midway through assembling and painting my new army, I spoke with three longtime Warhammer 40,000 gamers from my local store to get their take on the current state of the Grim Darkness with the latest edition.

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Why do you play Warhammer 40,000?

Eric: I enjoy every aspect of the hobby; collecting, building, painting and playing. 40K is a great setting, with interesting characters and story.

Taylor: I play Warhammer because I’ve always enjoyed where the narrative intersects with player interaction. In books and movies we can only be spectators to the actions of heroes and villains. In video or board games we are usually given a set of shoes to fill and while the level of depth those shoes can have, whether player or studio created, there is a ultimately a path to follow when you come up to the invisible walls that remind you that this is someone else’s sandbox. With Warhammer the player is given freedom to play and explore the game as the wish. Create the army you want, play the way you like, experience the story you want to tell.

John: I play for a few reasons. First foremost I like to build and paint the models. As a child I loved to build model cars and tanks so when I heard about Warhammer it seemed perfect. Cool models to build, and then a game to play with them instead of just putting them on a shelf like a model car. I think the next big reason is the strategy aspect. Real time strategy video games have always been some of my favorite games, and 40k seemed like a perfect live action alternative.

What have you enjoyed about the new edition’s ruleset as compared to the last?

Eric: The game is easier to play; you no longer have to keep looking up rules.

Taylor: By and large I do enjoy the simplified rule set. Having any applicable special rules for a unit written in its entry is nice, as opposed to flipping through the main rulebook to find the one rule you need. The new strength vs toughness factor is great so that any unit can (potentially) damage any other unit with varying degrees of ease or difficulty. Broader army composition criteria allows for more varied and characterful armies. A lot of common sense rules have been added such as infantry being able to negotiate terrain largely unimpeded or squads and vehicles being able to select different targets. I understand that the setting is a grand space opera in a constant frantic pitch where post human super soldiers are battling sorcerer poets of a long dead empire, or dystopian aliens on a mission of cultural assimilation, or an other dimensional being who’s name is every sin you’ve ever committed and face is every nightmare you’ve ever had. There’s going to be a bit of abstraction in playing a game, but I also think even 40,000 years into the future guys know how to climb over a fallen tree.

John: I love the new datasheets. Every thing I need to know about how to play and use a given unit in on the data card. I no longer have to consult several different charts to see what a weapon does or what I need to roll to hit or to do damage. Everything is just on the card.

What do you miss from the last edition?

Taylor: I do miss a few of the more complex aspects such as the weapon skill (WS) and ballistic skill (BS) matrices going the way of the dodo now that all units hit on a static number. Things like that have the impression that certain elite troops and heroes were more deft and swordplay or crack shots of commensurate skill. I liked some of the randomness provided by things scattering such as late arrival units potentially being sent off course, though that one is a double edged sword since that same scatter could eliminate the same unfortunate squad. So it’s all give and take.

Eric: The only thing I miss has to do with vehicles. Vehicles no longer have a weaker rear armour, so there is no point in trying to maneuver around a vehicle to get a better shot.

John: I honestly don’t miss anything from the last edition. Starting toward the end of 6th edition I was getting fatigued with 40k, and was switching to smaller easier to manage and play miniature games like Warmachine and Hordes.

How have you felt about the new releases, rules and models, for the new edition?

Taylor: As you might be able to tell I’m a bit more of a hobbyist than a “gamer” in that I prefer the overall experience to simply chasing a competitive win:loss ratio. So I’m happy that all of the rules, for all armies, have been released simultaneously putting everyone on relatively equal footing where no one has figured out an “optimal” build for most or any armies. Related to that I like how habitually over performing units were brought a bit more in line while underperforming units were substantially increased alleviating pressure to lean on a single or handful of units and instead emphasizing the cohesion of an army as a whole rather than a delivery system for the all-stars.

Eric: The new edition is fantastic. It has brought people back to the hobby, which is great for small gaming stores.

John: Rules-wise I love the new edition. It seems faster and easier to play, which is fantastic. The models are still high quality and great, and this edition has done something I thought impossible. It makes me want to play 40k again.

Are you excited about the direction that Games Workshop seems to be going with Warhammer 40,000?

Eric: Very excited. Now the story is advancing, making it a much more dynamic game.

John: I do not like the direction that Games Workshop is taking parts of the 40k universe.Games Workshop has always seemed to favor Space Marines both from a rules and model sense. The new Primaris Space Marines are the latest examples of Space Marines getting better newer stuff and everyone else not or at least not until Space Marines get it first. Space Marines also got to keep all of their factions, but Chaos Space Marines got cut down again. That being said though this is a vast improvement over what they did to Warhammer Fantasy which got almost completely gutted and turned into a worse (in almost every way) version of Warhammer 40,000.

Taylor: Overall I’m very excited for the future of Warhammer 40,000. The level of involvement Games Workshop is showing to the setting, product and community is unlike any other point I’ve seen in the 18 years I’ve been a part of it. Support is moving at a fantastic clip, the narrative is moving forward but not sacrificing the “five minutes to midnight” feel for which the setting is renowned. As I said earlier players have more options than ever before when assembling and coordinating their armies due to the new keyword <faction> organizational system, which is very exciting for the plethora of different combinations and background options this makes available. This edition has greatly encouraged me to get my old models off the shelf, knock of the dust and grab the dice. It’s a great time to come back if you’ve been away or jump in if you’re brand new!

ORIGINS GAME FAIR, June 14-18 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

It’s Con time of year again and Ghettoblaster’s intrepid editor and gaming associate editor were thrilled to be out there in the crowds (well, maybe not always thrilled about the crowds) doing the hard and dirty work of demoing, demoing, demoing! With belly’s full of bourbon and Lan Viet’s delicious grilled pork ban mis we dove into the Columbus Convention Center once again for another amazing few days of gaming! Here’s the first of two posts of what we played.

 

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Lazer Ryderz (Greater Than Games)

Dave: Man, who gives a crap about how this game is played – look at that packaging! A Tron-like sci-fi game from out of what looks like a shelf worn VHS box set? Hell yeah! Thankfully, after you’ve spent hours dazzled by the game box and its components, getting to the rules proves pretty damn rewarding too! You’re riding your lazer bike around, leaving a trail of lethal lazer behind you and collecting power prizms for points and glory! With a similar move mechanic to Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game it seems quick to pick up on and play. Let’s go Lazer Ryding, boyz!

Kris: Excellent over-the-top 80s art direction and refreshingly straightforward game mechanics make for a perfect match here. As Dave mentioned, Lazer Ryderz takes the simple movement mechanics from the X-Wing Miniatures Game and turns it into a fast-paced race to claim Power Prizms. A healthy dose of randomness in Prizm placement ensures that every game is anybody’s game, and a relatively brief playtime makes this one a strong candidate for either a quick diversion or a lengthy tournament scene.

 

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Attack on Titan: The Last Stand (Cryptozoic Games)

Dave: Cryptozoic has finally found the perfect use for their ubiquitous cardboard stand-up! Included with almost every game from the publisher, the stand-up model for Attack on Titan: The Last Stand is the towering and terrifying titan! With multiple levels up and down the stand-up, and two more levels for the nearby castle, all but one of the players roll dice to cooperatively swing back and forth, fire, stab, and dodge their way to taking down the monster. The other player takes on the role of the titan, using sacrificed player dice to eat villagers, attack other players, and generally be a big jerk. As one of the two companies to continually surprise with their licensed games (GaleForce Nine being the other), Cryptozoic does not disappoint here!

Kris: As far as I’m concerned, this one was an early contender for cooperative game of the show. Knowledge of the Attack on Titan anime and/or manga isn’t required, but it certainly helps get into the spirit of things. I like the way each character has specific strengths that require good teamwork and communication in order to reach their greatest effect. The Titan is a constant threat, and its ability to grab other players’ dice when its face is rolled make for constant risk/reward evaluations. Licensed properties are good again? What a time to be alive.

 

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Vast: The Crystal Caverns (Leder Games)

Dave: A dungeon crawl unlike any other, Vast has players taking on the role of a knight and a thief (okay, still like others), goblins and the dragon (a little more uncommon), and… the cave they’re all in? Utilizing different goals and play mechanics for each, this really reinvigorates one of the most classic gaming themes out there. Vast is currently on their second printing, and the folks from Leder were also teasing an upcoming asymmetrical sci-fi 4X board game called Deep.

Kris: What a cool concept! This almost seems like a tool for better understanding quality level/dungeon design in games of all sorts. So rarely do most of us concern ourselves with thinking about the ecology of a game environment that when a game reminds us of such relationships we can’t help but think, “Why hasn’t anybody already done this?” Check out Vast to peer behind your GM’s screen and see just how much work they do for you!

 

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Castle Flutterstone (Lion Rampant)

Dave: Castle Flutterstone is definitely a family game. Players place lightweight bats on the bellows, line them up and then slam down to release a gust of wind that lifts their bats up to the game board. Go through the hole – move x, land on a platform – move y, first player to reach the end wins! Unfortunately the less than exact art of bellow-lifting will probably make this little more than a fun but short diversions for those without kids. Still, there are worse ways to spend 20 minutes!

Kris: I like dexterity games quite a bit. In fact, Dave and I had lengthy discussions throughout the weekend in an attempt to answer one question. “What game is this year’s Coconuts?” In other words, what game is easily-accessible for the youngest gamers but still offers enough strategy and complexity to maintain adult gamers’ interest? Castle Flutterstone may not fully meet those criteria, but it nevertheless appears to be a good time in short spurts.

 

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Paradox (Split Second Games)

Dave: I didn’t fully get the rundown of Paradox as I was in the back of a group and no amount of peeking through or wiggling to the other side really seemed to help me. That said, what I did hear (and later confirmed online) was about a cool game on a space-time disturbance that is fracturing entire worlds’ existences! As scientists trying to repair these connections in time, Paradox utilizes drafting, set collection, resource management and more. They also enlisted 15 different artists for the game, which was a cool way to showcase the vast difference of the unknown universe.

Kris: Sounds like Interdimensional Cable to me [ed note: nice Redgrin Grumble reference, Kris!]! A strong theme can either be that element that gives a game immediate curb appeal or that slowly pulls you into a bigger picture over time. Dealing with the problem of space-time getting wonky is a perfect setup for a chaotic game, and drafting is a mechanic that really jibes with such a narrative. Art can make or break a game experience, so kudos to Split Second for addressing that thematically with a myriad of art styles.

 

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Element (Rather Dashing)

Dave: For all of the promise of Element, the game did prove more than a little bewildering in our demo. Players utilize the four primal elements; earth, wind, fire and water in an attempt to trap the player counter-clockwise from them on the board. The only problem with that is as you move around the board it becomes a little hard to remember which player that was. Also, play advances counter-clockwise too, which… why not go clockwise as in almost every other game? It’s a shame these two issues proved as confusing as they did (especially because 4 colored cardboard tiles would solve one problem and omitting “counter-” would solve the other) because the different flow of elements and the rock-paper-scissors succession of elemental strength was really interesting.

Kris: Ah, how many times have I walked away from a game demo bewildered? Sometimes it’s the game itself that deserves blame. Often it’s the person running them demo’s attitude or personality that can turn one away from a game. Nevertheless, sometimes certain people and certain games don’t mix. Who knows? Element may be perfect for your gaming group. It just isn’t necessarily a good match for ours.

 

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Onitama (Arcane Wonders)

Dave: Simple rules can often make for strategically rewarding games. Taking inspiration from Chess, Onitama pits two player’s rows of four pawns and a king against each other. On their turn, players utilize one of two available moves on cards and then swap that card with another idled move to the side of the board. The next player then does the same, leaving the two players swapping between one of five available moves in a race to capture the other’s king or take their king to the other king’s starting position. No luck here, it’s all about getting out ahead of your opponent and forcing the finishing move.

Kris: This one quickly grabbed my attention with sleek, simple design and deceptively deep tactical play. I disagree with Dave in that I believe there is a single element of luck in Onitama. You don’t know which of your opponent’s two movement cards will be implemented. Enemies can be baited, but plan too far ahead or rely too much on access to that one card you desire and you’ll likely fail. A small and simple game with huge tactical possibilities, Onitama nears the top of my list at this year’s Origins.

 

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Lisboa (Eagle Games)

Dave: Designed by the creator of The Gallerist, Lisboa is a heavy Euro (and just pick up the box to see it’s heavy in every sense of the word) from Vital Lacerda – who actually walked me and my friend through his own game! #nerdout

Anyway, for Lacerda’s new game, players take on the role of rebuilding the capital of Portugal in 1755 after it was destroyed by an earthquake, followed by a tsunami, and finally followed by 3 days of raging fires. In the broadest strokes possible, this is done through courting the favor of the king, the marquis, and the royal builder. With a number of different interactive mechanics, the theme still relates well in the gameplay and the art helps to break up the charts to provide a breath-taking visual.

Kris: I’ve learned something about myself as a gamer over the last few years. It’s something that could immediately reduce my gamer status to pariah in certain circles. Oh well. Time to out myself. I don’t like heavy Euro games. I won’t go so far as to say I hate them, but that style of game will always be the last I want to play. Therefore, I ask you to please just read through Dave’s thoughts again. I’ll be over here checking out some Reaper Miniatures.

 

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Three Kingdoms Redux (Capstone Games)

Dave: Capstone Games are doing the noble work of re-releasing critically acclaimed European games Stateside. They started with Arkwright and my only issue with that game is the same issue that I have with Three Kingdoms Redux – the art. It’s not that either game is particularly unattractive, but both being dense Euros the boards end up looking like a set of charts that would intimidate even an accountant. After playing Arkwright I mostly got over this, and I hope the same would be true of Three Kingdoms Redux. The theme is captivating with the unification of Feudal China (the same as with Koei’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms) and the idea of a well-balanced three-player game is interesting too.

Kris: While Dave was checking out another “dense Euro” I continued to browse miniatures. A figure with pointy ears dressed all in black approached me. “YOU LIKE REAPER MINIS?” he asked in a booming baritone. “Sure,” I replied. “IS THERE ONE THAT YOU REALLY DESIRE?” the stranger inquired. “Not really. Just browsing,” I said, slowly backing away. Who knows what wonders I missed out on by cowering away from that conversation. This wondrous stranger may have gifted me the resin model of my dreams… or he could have tied me up in a van down by the river.

 

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The Climbers (Simply Complex)

Dave: I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve got a thing for building with blocks. You add in a set of rules and turn building blocks into a game and you’ve got me completely! Adding new blocks each turn, players’ goal for The Climbers is getting their meeple to the highest point possible. Did I mention this game also comes with ladders for climbing the blocks? Ladders that can double as bridges as you build up separate towers alongside the main one? Originally released in Germany, Capstone Games offshoot Simply Complex has also increased the quality of art and components for this new edition.

Kris: You are not alone, Dave! Building blocks remind us of our early years, of simplicity and imagination. They fulfill our need for play in the most primal sense. While I cannot claim to understand the popularity of customized meeples, I certainly get their utility as game pieces. The Climbers taps into that childlike wonder of creating something you know is only temporary. There is great joy to be found in building, destroying, and rebuilding in this game. The Climbers is a sure bet for kids of all ages.

 

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Dimension (Kosmos)

Dave: We’ve established that building with blocks is fun (or at least I think so), now we get to build with balls! For Dimensions, players take from the four colored balls at their disposal to build the biggest tower possible. For each round, new rules are introduced that penalize any transgression – white can’t touch green, orange can’t be on top of any other balls, all green balls must touch orange. You’ve got 60 seconds to build the best one possible! As a timed game, this one’s all about the adrenaline rules cross-referencing as you build to maximize within the parameters.

Kris: More building. More tactile feedback. More exploration of the deepest elements of play. Dimension is another dexterity game, only this one requires quick decision-making while the timer ticks down. Building one’s creation within the strict timeframe of only a single minute adds an element of stress that drives competition and keeps us coming back for more. Stacking spheres is rarely this fun!

 

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Unearth (Brotherwise Games)

Dave: As a fan of the great phone puzzle game, Monument Valley I was immediately drawn to Unearth. It features the same unmistakably modern take on Escher-esque geometric and mind-bending art… accept the same artist didn’t do it. Potentially murky inspiration versus replication issues aside, Unearth proved to be as fun in the playing as it was to look at. Players roll D4s, D6s, or D8s to add up your claim to ruins, but low dice rolls allow players to collect stones – yet another way to earn victory points. Brotherwise Games currently has a pre-order up too.

Kris: I sincerely thought Dave was going to get litigious regarding the similarities between Unearth’s visual design and Monument Valley. I’m just relieved he didn’t cause a scene. There’s a lot of potential here, regardless of your opinion of the game’s artwork. I’m a man who enjoys rolling big handfuls of dice, so there’s an immediate appeal for me when a game uses different dice to achieve different goals. Promising!

 

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Super Show (SRG)

Dave: I first saw this game at Gen Con last year, but it was in a shared space with another developer and when I went back through for a demo the table had something way less cool being played. What really caught my eye this year was a number of cool new promo packs for wrestlers like Colt Cabana, David Starr, Johnny Gargano, Lio Rush, Kenny Omega and more. They were a little pricey at $15 a pack, but apparently the wrestlers get a rub from that – so that’s cool! Anyway, Kris is the real professional when it comes to wrestling (I’m just a not-particularly-smart mark) so I’ll let him take this one.

Kris: It’s difficult to capture the unique intensity of a pro wrestling match in a tabletop setting. Many have tried, and only a few have succeeded. Super Show actually does a great job at merging the two worlds into one. It’s clearly made by people who love wrestling for people who love wrestling. Players choose a wrestler (or tag team) and enter the squared circle. Dice are rolled, stats are compared, and cards are played. Pins are handled well too, adding a heightened intensity to every match. Excellent attention to detail makes each wrestler feel unique, and officially licensed likenesses of independent wrestlers elevate Super Show to the next level! Kudos to SRG for taking wrestling games seriously and having a hell of a time while doing so!

 

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Macroscope (Mayday Games)

Dave: Mayday Games are masters of simple and fun. Two years ago they gave us monkey flinging action with Coconuts. Last year they gave us balancing trash in an overflowing bin with Garbage Day. I’m pretty sure both games were made with children in mind, but that didn’t stop them from being two of our favorites. This year we’ve got Macroscope, which features a beautiful 3D playing board that hides simple line drawings underneath small covered holes. On a player’s turn they lift a piece and determine whether they’d like to hazard a guess at what’s the drawing underneath. Without the dexterity element of Coconuts and Garbage Day, the “simple” is laid a little too bare for this to appeal to older audiences. Still, I’m sure this would be tons of good family fun!

Kris: I love this! Macroscope reverse engineers the pixel hunt games that eat up space on smart phones around the world. Instead of looking for minute details in big images, players try to identify a simple line drawing by revealing little bits of it at a time. It’s clearly geared toward young ones, but any age group can have 15 minutes of fun with a few rounds of Macroscope. The design is clean and appealing, and there are enough images on the included double-sided cards to play for a long while before repeating the same game twice. Keep it up, Mayday!

 

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They Who Were 8 (LudiCreations)

Dave: They Who Were 8 was a really unfortunate example of demos and walk-throughs being heavily reliant on who is doing the walking-through. On our first pass, we were given a somewhat distant and very tired run down of the game, complete with a few opinions on its short-comings. Granted, it was 20 minutes before the hall closed, so I get fatigue. But really enjoying the art I went back the next day to ask again with someone new behind the table. This time we were explained a really interesting game of bards telling tales of gods! For this, players were given two god cards, one paired up with the player to their left and one paired up with the player to their right. Glory and infamy tokens get piled on each god and the goal is to be in the most glorious pairing, but being the more modest of the two gods.

Kris: A fairly simplistic game with absolutely beautiful artwork, They Who Were 8 is a cool little game. As Dave mentioned, players are bards singing of the virtues of their two gods. Bards must interact with their rivals to either side, and gobbling up all the praise doesn’t guarantee a win. Enter modesty as the game-winning quality, and you have an experience unlike anything else we saw on the convention floor.

 

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Near and Far (Red Raven Games)

Dave: Racking up a ton of awards in 2015 and 2016 for Above and Below, and having a buddy who got it and won’t stop raving about it, I was really interested to hear more about Above and Below and their new game Near and Far. Unfortunately, Red Raven Games was only offering ticketed demos at Origins and didn’t have an open copy of either game to leaf through and marvel at. From what I could gather, Near and Far is a sequel to Above and Below and is run like a campaign as players try to reach the story’s end. Maybe like a choose your own adventure meets RPG meets board game? It all sounds very novel and cool, so I hope to find out more for you (and me)!

Kris: Like Dave, I’ve only heard tales and never had the opportunity to get my hands on this one. The only thing I can say for certain at this time is that I am intrigued!

We’ll be back with part two of our review with more games from Origins!

By David C. Obenour

For a long time miniatures gaming has been relegated to a niche community within a niche community. Numerous expensive models were required, complicated rules took up multiple books, battles could last for entire afternoons and the hobbying aspect of assembly and painting was fun for some but arduous for others. It wasn’t true for all miniatures games, but it did seem true for enough to scare off lots of potentially interested gamers.

But in 2012 Fantasy Flight released the wildly popular X-Wing game – introducing many new (and impressing many old) gamers with a small dogfight game set to understandable rules, scalable playing times and cool looking pre-painted and assembled miniatures (if you’re following along, that checks all of the previous paragraph’s concerns). They weren’t the first, but with a wildly popular licensed product they quickly become one of the most successful.

So with more people playing or at least open to miniatures gaming we’re taking a look at two tall ship games available, starting with Ares Games’ Sails of Glory.

 

SAILS OF GLORY (Ares Games)

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Other than Napoleon, the name most recognized from the Napoleonic Wars is Admiral Horatio Nelson. Releasing its initial line of miniatures from the ships of that era, Sails of Glory is a ship-to-ship tactical war game pitting admiral against admiral (or a number of captains against captains) for naval dominance.

The rules offer three levels of play for Sails of Glory: basic, standard and advanced. This is a great way to ease into the game and ultimately find your preferred balance of strategy versus simplicity as each level builds on what is established from before.

As recommended, for our first game we played the basic rules “Enemy at Sight!” scenario, a fairly straight-ahead battle using all four ships from the starter kit. The set up might initially frighten the casual gamer as the ship mat and log looks more complicated than it is for the basic rules and there are over 500 tokens that come in the starter kit, but again – most of which aren’t utilized for the basic rules. After the first couple of turns spent figuring out how the rules actually played out, Sails of Glory flowed easily. Movement is handled through a simple method of checking your ship’s attitude to the wind, picking from a deck of ship specific movement cards, and then putting the card in front of your ship. Combat range and damage is established with a color-coordinated measuring stick, measured from your stem stern or broadside firing arc – cross-referenced with your ship log to check for firepower (also one place where damage is taken, lessening your firepower with each sustained hit). For all of the game we weren’t experiencing within the basic rules, it was surprising about how much it still had to offer – to hold your fire in hopes of better positioning, the frigate’s mobility, ships-of-the-line’s firepower, being taken aback and trying to maneuver to a more favorable mast facing while avoiding your opponents firing arcs. It came down to a nail biting, one-on-one slugfest, decided with some fortunate (for me, anyway) damage tokens.

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This is all just the tip of Sails of Glory’s (hope my ship doesn’t hit it) iceberg too. Standard rules offer different options for ammunition (ball, chain, grapeshot), additional raking shot damage, the time to react rule (planning maneuvers ahead within the restriction of a ship’s veer rating) and collision rules. Advanced rules offer crew action options, different sail settings and special damage tokens (fire, leaks and broken rudders and masts). There are also additional optional rules for boarding enemy ships and rules that deal with entangled masting, exploding ammunition, changing wind strength and direction, and much more.

It’s a definitely a lot, but the beauty is that you don’t need to use all of the rules to play a game. Instead of unloading all possible variables and situations on players from game one, you’re able to build and customize your experience.

Finally, the rules also provide a number of ready-to-play scenarios as well as guidelines for helping to design your own. As you buy additional ships, a point guide is available online to help balance your fleets.

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Throughout this review I kept wanting to just fanboy out about Sails of Glory. The ships are beautifully done and reasonably priced. The rules are fun to play at all levels of complexity and offer a game that lasts for anywhere between just under an hour to a weekend afternoon. They also seem keen on supporting it with continued space at their convention booths (having a single naval battle with over 79 “captains” at 2015’s Gen Con) and new ship releases, including a few US Revolutionary War ships making good on their promises to expand into new eras. The historical aspect will undoubtedly limit Sails of Glory’s appeal, but really shouldn’t for a game this well designed. (Ares Games) by David C. Obenour

Part Two will be coming soon, featuring Zvezda Games’ Armada Invincible. 

GEN CON, July 30-August 2 at the Indiana Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

Gen Con is now but a memory, but it’s a memory you can continue to relive vicariously through part two of our totally awesome recap! So many games. So may gamers. So much social anxiety. So little time. Please enjoy this continuation of our summary of some of the highs, lows, and creamy middles of this year’s biggest event in tabletop gaming. We’ll catch you again next year!

 

CONAN: RISE OF MONSTERS (PULPOSAURUS ENTERTAINMENT, unreleased)

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Kris: C.R.O.M. (Get it? Get it?) is about halfway funded on Kickstarter at the time of this writing. It’s a pre-painted miniatures game played at the skirmish level. There are starter boxes for the two factions, Conan’s Circle of Iron and the evil Legion of Set. The minis look very nice and have incredibly detailed paint jobs, especially compared to most other pre-painted miniatures. Of special note are the monsters in each set. The oliphant and giant snake will definitely be centerpieces for each army. Pulposaurus even licensed artwork from the Conan comics for the game’s cards and more, making everything about this game a feast for the eyes. The rules are easy to learn, and games should be fast-paced with plenty of carnage. C.R.O.M. has a lot of potential as a skirmish miniatures game. Fingers crossed it gets fully funded!

David: Bad news – Kickstarter funding of Conan: Rise of Monsters was cancelled three days ago. Good news – Reaper Miniatures have entered into a partnership with Pulposaurus and will be delivering us the game by later this year! That’s better than just good news as partnering with a company as well-established as Reaper bodes well for the game’s continued support and availability.

 

THE CAPTAIN IS DEAD (The Game Crafter, 2014)

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Kris: The Game Crafter embodies a really cool concept that allows anyone to turn their great idea for a card or board game into reality. They do custom, on demand printing that can turn anyone with an idea into someone with a physical product to share. The Captain is Dead is their superstar. It’s a cooperative game for up to seven players that puts gamers in a spaceship just as everything goes haywire. Players have to work together with their fellow crew members to repair the ship’s jump core and escape the hostile alien threat by completing actions in the ship’s different stations. It kind of reminds me of Red November in space and should make for a lot of fun with a sizable group of gamers.

David: Red November and Space Cadets were the two games that came to my mind when we were getting the short run-through from the folks at The Game Crafter’s booth. A hostile alien ship has driven you into an asteroid field and now it’s your job to, as a team, get the jump core back on line so you can get the heck out of there. Also, the captain is dead. Well done art with high-quality pieces – definitely worth a closer look! Good on The Game Crafter for seeing this game’s potential.

 

BLOOD RAGE (CoolMiniOrNot, unreleased)

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Kris: Upon entering the exhibitor hall first thing in the morning on Thursday, it seemed as if everyone there immediately bought a copy of Blood Rage. I saw it over and over again and again in the arms and oversized bags of everyone around me. Viking battles, Norse gods, and the pursuit of a glorious death seem to be key elements of Blood Rage. I’ll hand it to CoolMiniOrNot when it comes to visual appeal. The miniatures are very well designed, and the game board is colorful and attractive. We couldn’t get through the throngs of people lined up to play it, so we’ll do our best to procure a demo copy soon. As Dr. Rick Dagless M.D. once sang, “One day we’ll all meet in Valhalla.”

David: Yup, it sure seemed to be all the Blood Rage of Gen Con this year. Thank you, thank you very much. Seriously though, even without playing this one I know everything I need to know. As Kris said, “Viking battles, Norse gods, and the pursuit of a glorious death.” It’s called Blood Rage for Thor’s sake. Welcome Ragnarök with open arms, brothers.

 

MYSTERIUM (Asmodee, 2015)

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Kris: I know very little about Mysterium, other than it was once named Tajemnicze Domostwo. Good move on the name change! It’s co-op, and involves a friendly ghost in a haunted mansion. Sounds like fun to me!

David: Asmodee definitely wins for best booth at Gen Con. The only drawback was that for all of the ambiance their secluded booth created for those lucky enough to demo Mysterium, it also limited the number of tables they had and the amount of people that were actually able to play through the game. Even without a playtest or quick overview though, Mysterium seems like it’d be a whole lot of fun. A cooperative game for two to seven players, one player takes the role of a ghost dealing out vision cards from behind their GM-like screen to the attending mediums (other players) in an effort to solve their murder and achieve peace. It sounds like a spookier, more involved version of Clue. Not getting to play this one was probably my biggest regret of the convention.

 

CTHULHU WARS (Petersen Games, 2014)

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Kris: The only thing worse than an unimaginable horror from another dimension devouring our reality would be multiple unimaginable horrors from another dimension slugging it out to determine which one will have the privilege of devouring our reality. Enter Cthulhu Wars. It’s a strategy game that pits four Old Ones against each other (up to eight with expansions). The core set contains dozens of slimy, tentacled beasts from your worst nightmares. They’re all nicely modeled and will likely look even better once players take a paintbrush to them. If you’re into Lovecraftian horrors and battling with brightly colored miniatures, this one has your name on it.

David: Though this game is a couple of years old it still seemed to be one of the highlights of Gen Con. With a ginormous box containing 64 high-quality Lovecraftian (right up there with zombies, pirates and Dr. Who in nerd appreciation) miniatures it’s no surprise why either. Also not a surprise surprise, it comes with a completely reasonable for what you get but still hefty price tag. That didn’t seem to stop people. Along with Blood Rage, lots of copies were seen in bags and under arms (two, not one), and playtesting this game required getting on a list as long as that of a Michelin 3-star restaurant.

 

NEFARIOUS: THE MAD SCIENTIST GAME (USAopoly, 2015)

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Kris: Who hasn’t dreamed of casting off the constraints of modern day society and retreating to one’s secret lair to construct a doomsday device? All of us, right? If you haven’t already walked away from your screen to phone the authorities, this just might be the kind of game you’ll love! Perform research, spy on rival scientists, and protect your own creations to conquer the world. Victory is never guaranteed, as unique Twist cards randomly assigned to players at the beginning of the game make sure that no two games play out in the same manner.

David: That’s me. Dr. Buddy with a PHD in Friendship studies. While I hoped to kill the world with kindness, my fellow play testers seemed to have better luck with deathrays and wide-spread neurotoxins. Oh well, to quote Jake Chambers (for wildly different reasons), “there are other worlds than these” and I’ll be damned if I can’t put this degree in Friendship to use one of these times. At past conventions the major gaming companies such as USAopoly didn’t seem to quite get the level and style of gaming that Gen Con attendees thrive on. Nefarious however is perfect for both family game night and beer and pretzel night with your pals.

 

POCKET IMPERIUM (LudiCreations, 2015)

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Kris: 4X style gameplay with only a handful of cards and less than an hour of playtime? That sounds incredible! Almost impossible, really. Designer David Mortimer must be one smart cookie. I’ll leave the meat of this one to Dave, as he was actually able to play Pocket Imperium. I’ll admit that I’m jealous and more than a little intrigued.

David: Sorry to say, but I was a little under-whelmed by Pocket Imperium. Admittedly, a 5-minute demo isn’t the same as a full game experience but what I did play felt a little too simple for its own good. As Kris said, the 4X gameplay of “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate” is what you’re promised and what you get. But not much else. Is Pocket Imperium like chess or checkers, where multiple plays would reveal more nuances? Totally possible. But in an exhibitor hall filled with the best of what’s out there it didn’t quite grab me.

 

SHINOBI CLANS (Posthuman Studios, 2013)

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David: This is just a game I sat down at because there was an open seat and I was waiting for someone else so why not demo a game? Boy am I glad I did too! Though Posthuman Studios might be better known for their Eclipse Phase RPG system, Shinobi Clans is a beautiful and tricky (in a good way) game. After drafting a hand of attacking, defending and wildcard ninja cards, the scene is set for – you guessed it – either attacking or defending any of the three dignitaries for that round. Ninjas, being ninjas, are placed in secret facedown, so you’re not sure if the other clans are assisting or clashing with your mission. With so many different card games out there it was fun to run into something so inventive while working so well within its theme.

Kris: When it comes to the whole pirates/zombies/ninja trifecta, I feel as if ninja get the short end of the nerd culture stick. You can’t turn around without seeing another zombie game, and thanks to Jack Sparrow there are still god damn pirates everywhere. Perhaps Shinobi Clans can change that. It’s a card game with couple of neat drafting mechanics, and the cards in question feature absolutely gorgeous artwork. There’s also an element of betting on who will survive and who will not after blades have clashed. I didn’t get to spend much time with Shinobi Clans, but I’m eager to dig deeper.

 

LUCHADOR! (Backspindle Games, 2013)

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Kris: Two great wrestling games in one convention? Have I died and gone to mark heaven? While both are inspired by wrestling, Luchador! couldn’t be more different from WWE Superstar Showdown when it comes to game mechanics. Luchador! skips the cards and goes straight to rolling dice. Players roll at the same time to see who gets the advantage and, possibly, the pin fall victory. The cool gimmick here is that dice are actually rolled inside a little cardboard wrestling ring. Any dice that fall out or are knocked outside of the ring by opponent’s dice are invalidated. It seems quite fast-paced with a good push-your-luck style of gameplay. I’m definitely interested in spending some time with this one.

David: The cardboard wrestling ring. I think even if this game proved to be a stinker (which it absolutely didn’t), that ring may have been enough to buy it anyway. We didn’t get to actually play this one, but we did get a great walk-through of it from a delightful English bloke who traded ridiculously obscure international wrestling references with Kris while I just stood back and nodded like I had some sort of idea about what they were saying.

 

BAD DETECTIVES (Forced Output, 2015)

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Kris: While I didn’t get the opportunity to play Bad Detectives, I love the idea of this game. Honestly, I’m kind of sick of so-called storytelling games that ask players to do all the heavy lifting. A lot of them feel half-baked in their attempts to creatively engage with their players. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. This isn’t just a matter of, “Tell the best story and everybody wins!” Instead, players play a detective who is horrible at their job. Everyone tries their best to muddle through a case, string evidence together, and connect victims to suspects and murder weapons. Only one detective gets credit for solving the case, so Bad Detectives seems to fit nicely into the odd competitive/cooperative genre. So stop bitching about season two of True Detective, and engage in some deducing of your own.

David: Hah! Oh poor True Detective, season two. Anyway, I was lucky enough to get the 10-15 minute spiel from designer, Zach Barton (in cop uniform) on how Bad Detective plays out and man, what a well-designed game! Taking inspiration from the well-known HQ tac-board, players string together evidence (or “evidence…?”) tiles between the victim and culprits, weapons and locations. You don’t have to be right, you just have to look right. Being right is one way of looking right, but discrediting your fellow detectives and their work is another. It’s not so much a story-telling game but a game that as it plays out tells a story – which means, sure you can just play it but you can also get into character and read out your tiles in a gruff “I’m getting too old for this shit” voice. Maybe a dozen donuts and a pot of coffee too. Damn, now I really want to play this game!

 

THE GRIZZLED (CoolMiniOrNot, unreleased)

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Kris: It’s a testament to the quality of The Grizzled that I still want to play more of it after having the worst play-testing experience of the entire con with this game. Despite our rude, obnoxious, task-master of a playtester, The Grizzled felt special. Perhaps it’s because both Dave and I have a passion for WWI history. Perhaps it’s the artistry and care and familial ties linking the game’s creators to the Great War. Perhaps it’s the fact that this game never asks players to fire a weapon or kill another human being. There’s something incredibly special here in a game about surviving the horrors of war through friendship and sacrifice. The Grizzled is not to be missed.

David: All due respect to volunteers, who are after all, volunteers, but Kris is not wrong. I really hope that our playtester wasn’t on the table too long for The Grizzled because she was doing it a huge disservice. After buying a copy (the last one – thanks to the random gamer who had it before me but took pity on my visible dejection) and playing through it a few times I can honestly say that this is the best example I’ve experienced of a game as art. Making that even more remarkable is how much The Grizzled is able to convey in such a short playing game with such simple rules. There are six kinds of threats, you’re dealt task cards that have different combinations of these threats, you’re never allowed to have more than three of the same threat showing or you as a team have failed that mission. In the half-hour playtime, you begin to feel a small bit of the anxiety, fear, hopelessness, but mostly camaraderie that made up the experiences of those who served in the Great War.

GEN CON, July 30-August 2 at the Indiana Convention Center

by David C. Obenour & Kris Poland

Oh shit, dog! It’s Gen Con time! Well, it was last week. It’s over now, but don’t fret. Your pals from Ghettoblaster were there and are back with impressions from the biggest gathering of gaming geeks in North America. After being packed into convention halls with over 61,000 other gamers, we’re both relieved to be back and excited about new developments in the tabletop gaming world. Please keep in mind that Gen Con is way too massive for just a few of us to cover everything that’s on offer. What follows is a list of things that caught our attention, explanations and demos that we were privy to, and some other stuff. Enjoy part one, and check back soon for part two!

 

FLEET ADMIRAL (Castle Games, 2012)

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Kris: I watched over Dave’s shoulder as he toyed around with this one. It looked pretty neat. That’s about all I can say with any certainty.

David: The thing about Gen Con – as I’m sure you picked up from the intro – is it’s insane how many people are there. Getting a demo can be hard and so can just getting a few minutes of an exhibitor’s attention. The guys at Castle Games came up with a pretty ingenious way around that for Fleet Admiral. As I looked down at their table with interest at the game before me I was greeted with, “roll a die!” and handed a dice to roll. Intrigued and admittedly, not one to really question orders, I did so and then played through a quick turn of this fun and inexpensive “push your luck” cooperative game. The whole thing was over and done in less than two minutes and while that’s a pretty small sampling, it was a really enjoyable one.

 

ONE NIGHT REVOLUTION (Indie Boards and Cards, 2015)

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Kris: Take The Resistance and condense it down into a single, paranoia-fueled round. That’s One Night Revolution. Rather than going out on multiple missions, the rebels get one shot at finding the informant(s) in their midst. Just like Mafia/Werewolf, this is a party game that gets more interesting and exciting the more players who take part. Not only are players assigned identities as Rebels or Informants, they also play roles that take different actions during the night. For example, the Investigator can look at a single player’s ID. Despite its name, there’s nothing really revolutionary here. However, this could be a good time if you have too many people over to play other games or are looking for a time-filler to play between longer, more involved affairs.

David: I’m a pretty horribly liar. I don’t mean that as some kind of, “Oh, I’m such an honest guy” #humblebrag, it’s just to let you know that I normally have a hard time keeping a straight face during games like The Resistance and Werewolf. I can, but I really need to psych myself out. A fun mechanic for One Night Revolution is that even though you get to see if you’re a Rebel or Informant at the start of the round, during the night your alignment card may have been switched by one of the other players’ abilities and you’re not allowed to check until the game’s over. Confusion, deceit, deduction, “Hey, my card was to the left of me when I closed my eyes!” – it all plays into it and it’s all a lot of fun!

 

COUP: REBELLION G54 (Indie Boards and Cards, 2014)

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Kris: Coup was always a good game, but with only a handful of characters its variety and extended appeal were quite limited. Rebellion G54 addresses that very issue expertly by increasing the number of characters from 5 to 25. There are still only 5 character types in a single game session, but they can be any combination of the 25 characters included. Where I would normally have had enough Coup after two or three 15 minute rounds, Rebellion offers enough variance to turn those multiple 15 minute rounds into an entire night of gaming. I guess it’s true that often the simplest solution is the best one.

David: Yeah, pretty much exactly what Kris said. While a lot of party games benefit from not having to explain overly complex rules, they also can get old way before someone finally says out loud, “So… do we still want to play this, guys?” Rebellion G54 gives you simple rules with added variety from a number of new characters and roles. Figured out how to win with the Farmer? Too bad! We’re not using the Farmer in the next round.

 

DEATHFEAR (Travesty Games, 2012)

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Kris: Deathfear traps players in a dungeon with a dismembered demon. The only way to escape is to collect powerful pieces of this demon’s body and murder everyone else in the dungeon. Movement is handled via rolling 2D6 and allows for a re-roll of one die if desired. It’s such a simple idea that really speeds up gameplay. Attacks are automatic when the active player lands on an opponent and result in stealing either demon parts or spirit items from one’s victim. There isn’t a ton of complexity here, but it certainly is an enjoyable romp. The good folks at Travesty definitely know good visual design, as exemplified in their hand-crafted wooden boxes for this game. The playmat is also screen printed on black fabric. These extra touches are what can make a relatively simple game such as Deathfear stand out from the crowd. Good show!

David: This game looks epically awesome. The demon parts adorning the top of its all black wooden box, the rolled-up cloth dungeon map, apparently it comes with a narrator DVD too that we didn’t get to experience at the con – the only thing that’s missing is a copy of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. Deathfear might be a little overly simple on repeated plays, but it’s nothing that a few thought out house rules couldn’t improve on (I’m thinking some sort of sanity cost as you attach more and more of these demon parts to your flesh).

 

WWE SUPERSTAR SHOWDOWN (Gale Force Nine, 2015)

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Kris: Dear god. The WWE have gone and made a tabletop game. They’ve also managed to somehow swerve us all. How? It’s actually incredibly fun to play! Gameplay is handled through an easy to understand rock/paper/scissors mechanic that keeps things simple but still allows for tactical planning. The included wrestlers are Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Big Show, Randy Orton, and (for some unknown reason) Big E. The miniatures are nicely detailed and their accompanying card decks to a decent job of covering each wrestler’s in-ring repertoire. Unfortunately, the free promo piece for those who purchased the game at the con was supposed to be Hulk Hogan. For obvious reasons, those promos never made it to Indianapolis. The good news is that expansions are already in the works. Play testers spoke in hushed tones about folding chairs in future releases. I’m most excited to play as legends like Savage or Flair or Mankind. I also want Cesaro and Owens and the entire NXT roster. There is huge potential for this to be a real cash cow for both WWE and GF9. Just give the people what they want: more wrestlers whom they love.

David: I’m always afraid when it comes to licensed products and doubly afraid of WWE screwing up something that could have been great (for the most recent example, see Kevin Owens’ current bewildering storyline and win/loss record). Those fears were immediately erased by the fun and simplicity of Superstar Showdown. Even Ghettoblaster’s lead designer (and my wife), who could barely care any less about wrestling, enjoyed it. The only drawback is for the 2 and 3 man tag games the players outside of the ring are left just watching. Still, there’s plenty of action within the squared circle to compel everyone. I’m holding my hopes for the Mick Foley’s Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind expansion!

 

PORTAL: THE UNCOOPERATIVE CAKE ACQUISITION GAME (Cryptozoic, unreleased)

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Kris: This is a triumph. Seriously. I was very cynical when I first learned about the Portal board game. Slapping the name of one of the most beloved video game franchises in the last decade onto a board game seemed like a guaranteed way to separate nerds from their money and nothing else. I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong. Players take turns sending test subjects into Aperture Labs, moving portals, a turret, and a companion cube across test chambers, all in an effort to get the most cake (and incinerate opponents’ cakes). Rules change as players activate different abilities, so tactics must be altered on the fly. It’s fun, quick-paced, and retains the fantastic deadpan humor of the video games. Plus, it comes with a free copy of Portal 2 on Steam! Simply put, this one is a no brainer. Buy it when it comes out this holiday season.

David: Spot on! Again, fear of licensed products, but Cryptozoic’s got a pretty great track record so far with their games based off of the Locke & Key comic book, FX’s Archer and Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time (sorry, haven’t and don’t have any plans on playing their Castle or Big Bang Theory games). One thing Kris didn’t address that I wanted to talk to is how aesthetically pleasing this game is. From the turret piece to the pieces of cake pieces, this game was sharply designed.

 

MONARCH (Tiltfactor, unreleased)

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David: Honestly, I was really drawn in by the gorgeous art and while Kris was paying attention to the explanation I was staring at the cards. I’ll let him handle this one.

Kris: Who will reign? It’s a simple question with an often complex answer. Players in Monarch attempt to answer that question by gathering favor, assembling the best possible court, and ultimately impressing their matriarch. The main mechanic involves pulling together the most glorious individuals and treasures to ensure one’s future rule, all while figuring out the most advantageous ways to tax and/or harvest from lands. Its playtime is less than an hour and should provide a good time for three to four players. Monarch’s most impressive trait is its scratchboard art by Kate Adams. There’s a certain beautiful darkness to her fantasy artwork that adds a lot of atmosphere to the game. Monarch should be available in September.

 

AGE OF SIGMAR (Games Workshop, 2015)

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Kris: Oh boy. Where to begin? I only started playing Warhammer Fantasy a couple of years ago. I’ve grown to love it, and now they’ve pretty much killed it. GW’s presence at Gen Con was pathetic. They had a tiny booth displaying the models from the Age of Sigmar starter set and two terrified employees who seemed desperate to sell people on this… thing. Ghettoblaster’s experience here can be summed up in a simple interaction. Dave and I asked what AoS meant for Warhammer Fantasy. One GW rep confidently said, “Age of Sigmar is its own thing. It’s totally different.” The other GW rep then approached us and stated, “Age of Sigmar is Warhammer Fantasy.” I expressed my dissatisfaction with that statement, and we walked away.

David: I keep typing things out, sighing heavily, and then deleting them. There’s no way around it, Age of Sigmar is a huge disappointment. I’m not saying Warhammer up until now was without flaws, major ones even, and if internet truth holds any water, it didn’t sound like it was staying financial feasible for Games Workshop – though the End Times campaign sure did seem to get a bunch of people (me included) very excited. But to so suddenly and seemingly so decisively change everything about the way the game plays and how the game looks even (put a new Stormcast Eternal up next to a High Elf spearmen and try to tell me we’re still playing the same game) and then refuse to give a clear answer about what Age of Sigmar is and about what that means for Warhammer? Sigh, just… just fuck you Games Workshop.

 

Stay tuned for part two of The Games of Gen Con, featuring Blood Rage, Mysterium, Cthuluhu Wars, Nefarious, Pocket Imperium, Shinobi Clans, Luchador!, Bad Detectives, The Grizzled and The Captain is Dead!