To Boldly Game

Writer_smallerTo seek out new board games . . .

“You’re a bigger Trek fan than I am” is an understatement. I was never much taken with Star Trek. The Next Generation, which was my generation’s Star Trek, passed me by completely. It already seemed to me to be dated by the time it aired, but lacking even that kitsch, novelty appeal of the original series, which also seemed to me to do a better job of the science fiction elements. The drama of the Next Generation always seemed to be set on the bridge, and seemed to me to be somehow distant from the alien life it supposedly explored. Of course, science fiction is just a speculative way of exploring human drama and issues, but the appeal of Next Generation always seemed alien to me (no pun intended). (Actually, of course I intended that pun, how could I resist?)

The only Star Trek series I ever did watch was Voyager, of which I was a big fan. I am given to understand that this is considered an even bigger anomaly amongst real Star Trek fans than not being a Trek fan in the first place.

So while not as excited about Star Trek: Frontiers as Aileen is, I am still excited about it. Because even if you strip away the license, this game is right in my orbit of interest. For starters, it’s sci-fi, so that’s a big plus. Mage Knight always looked amazing, but I just wasn’t willing to invest that much time in a fairly generic-feeling fantasy setting. Sci-fi is closer to my heart, and the idea of flipping hexes to uncover new systems, planets, and alien races seems exponentially more exciting to me than doing so to reveal hills, castles, goblins, and knights.

Eclipse is still a top ten game for me and, as a deep sci-fi strategy game, Frontiers feels close to it. But if you strip it down to its (warp)core, it utilises a wholly different set of mechanics than Eclipse does. Each player controls only one ship, but can still level that ship up with modifications and crew as the game progresses. I think this is where the deck building comes in, as you add to your abilities. Cleverly, if you are dealt damage, this is represented as damage cards that go into your deck. There are 11 scenarios in the base game, and these represent a mix of co-op, solo, and competitive play. The Dice Tower actually did an excellent and informative review you can watch here.

While we intend on going next year, we unfortunately didn’t make it to this year’s UK Games Expo. If you were there, we would love to hear about it. What was the big buzz at the show? What was everyone playing or talking about? What were the events like? Make us jealous!

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The Emperor loves skulls

Writer_smallerSpace Marines!

We’ve seen dude-bro Space Marines before, and the characterisation of humanity’s ultimate warriors as meathead jocks just feels right. And they are so much fun to write, I think we will see them again, eventually. Two things to note here: his fantastically awful hair was all Aileen’s design, and I love it. Also I mostly stole this joke from Ger. Thanks buddy!

As for the skull thing, if you’re not familiar with the game and its universe, a look through Games Workshop’s website will show a fearsome, dedicated army whose accessory and decoration needs are catered for in the local ossuary (Bones ‘R Us, up the street from Bones Brothers, and opposite Bargain Basement Bones).

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The favourite game

Writer_smallerThe favourite game

If anyone is wondering whether or not this week’s comic was named after the 1963 Leonard Cohen novel of the same name: don’t be crazy. Of course it is. Like any right-thinking individual, I love ol’ laughing Lenny. Like-minded literary readers will know that the novel has nothing to do with the noble pursuit of tossing dice, hefting counters and shuffling cards, but I’m still going to use it to segue into that very topic.

It’s been a while since I read The Favourite Game, and it’s also been awhile since I have played Space Hulk (smooth, right?). Aileen has never played Space Hulk, but she loves it just the same, for exactly the reasons detailed in the comic. Any situation that puts myself and Ger in any kind of conflict or even mild opposition is guaranteed, for her, to yield entertaining results.

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Star Wars: Armada

Writer_smallerStar Wars: Armada

A Star Wars ship combat game on the scale of Armada probably appeals more to me than X-Wing. The more salient concern, however, is all the X-Wings on our gaming shelf, unmarked by combat. Rarely ever flown at all, in fact. Turns out the downside of a collectible or a miniatures game is less the expense, and more the time required to play it over and again with all the additions and expansions. With so many incredible games being released all the time, it’s harder and harder to get replay value out of the games we already own. Of course, this is a problem entirely of our own making. And it’s a lack of restraint that is the main ingredient of that problem. There are just so many good games out there. We haven’t even gotten around to buying Imperial Assault yet, and our Risk: Legacy campaign is currently experiencing a ceasefire. Not a truce, or even negotiations. It’s just looking like we might be embedded for a while longer than first anticipated. Bloody great game, though.

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Legendary Encounters: Alien

Writer_smallerLegendary Encounter with an alien

This week’s comic is laid down exactly as it happened. No concessions were made to the story in order to facilitate a better punchline. By which I mean, I couldn’t think of a better punchline, so decided to make as close to life as possible instead. That’s something, right? Dialogue has been attributed correctly, and evidence of our defeat at the hands of Legendary: Encounters has not been exaggerated. Not in the slightest.  That game is hard.

It is, however, a little easier if you actually read the rules correctly. I find it is best practise to read the rules of a game, play it once, and then, after understanding how the game plays, read the rules again once more. The second reading will be informed how the game plays, and things will make more sense, and finer points will become clear.

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XCOM saga

Writer_smallerXCOM saga

Candy Crush Saga, if you are wondering.

And if you are wondering why Beirti is not allowed to have any devices at the table, here’s why.

I was hoping to have played XCOM by now, but it didn’t make it into stores before Christmas, and its release is still eminent. The comic is more about the melding of digital and analogue than it is the game itself, though, so I felt comfortable doing a comic with the XCOM board game in it. XCOM is a real time board game that requires the use of a free companion app, one that essentially acts as a form of DM for the game: advancing threats, keeping time, adjusting the game according to how the players are reacting and dealing with the threats it continually spews out, like so much green mucus at an alien autopsy.

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Descent into a galaxy far, far away

Writer_smallerStar Wars Descent

We had a lot of fun doing our last ‘Star Wars Descent’ comic, and figured a new year was a good enough excuse to return to our anachronically-challenged characters, and see how they were getting on in their dungeon.

We haven’t yet made the plunge and purchased Imperial Assault (the Star Wars themed dungeon crawler at the heart of this week’s comic), but there is no doubt that we will. I have talked about this game before, and if you’re not inclined to follow that link, I can sum up how I feel about it in one simple sentence:

I am very excited.

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Pimp my Power Armour

Writer_smallerSpace Hulk

The characterisation of Terminators as the meathead jocks of the 40K Universe is one that just … works for me. I had a lot of fun writing this, imagining them as though they were teenage boys talking about car mods. Once the idea settled in, it was quite easy to imagine Imperial troops at their barracks, all keeping their heads down, hoping that the lumbering, ‘roided out Marine walking across the parade ground wouldn’t catch their eye and bend their ear about how much he can bench, and what his Ork kill count was in his last battle. The idea of Terminators as dude ‘bros is, I think, that we will re-visit when the opportunity arises.

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A long time ago in a dungeon far, far away

Writer_smallerDungeon crawling

If you too don’t know what you are doing in the dungeon, read the help text here.

Dungeon crawling games aren’t my cup of tea (Early Grey, +1 to pomposity). In the same manner that MMORPGs like WoW give me a kind of existential dread, so the endless slog of fight the monster, loot the room, on to the next level holds no appeal for me.  Zombicide is the closest I’ve come to enjoying a game like this, as it essentially bolts a zombie theme onto a simple dungeon crawler. But it lacks ‘proper’ campaign and for reasons we have gone into before, I have been turned off it.

Imperial Assault, announced at Gen Con, is a Star Wars theme bolted onto Descent.

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X-Wing – Swarm tactics

Writer_smallerSwarm tactics

This week’s comic is about the X-Wing Miniatures game. In particular it refers to the Swarm army list for the game. More on that below, as I’d love to talk a little about the game itself first…

I do my best to avoid miniatures games. Games Workshop was my introduction to gaming, and growing up I loved the science fiction universe, the character of the armies, and the real challenge the game brought to the table. What I didn’t love was the expense (or the painting, if I’m honest). Spending more than €50 on a base game and then needing to spend 3-4 times that to then field a reasonable army was then, and still is, too much for me.

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