Three complex intro games that you shouldn’t be scared of.

There is certainly an art to choosing the perfect game to introduce your friends to board gaming and many thousands of people all over the internet either insist that they know the best way to do this or cynically offer up the meagre fare of games like Forbidden island or Love letter.

This is fine, if you want to set the expectations of your friends as low as possible and forever have the context of their gaming experience defined by insipid blandness. You may feel as if they need to dip their toe in, like an ill person in a grainy Victorian drama who can only eat dry white toast. I say aim high with the people you care about; Do some research and find a game made from red meat that will truly capture you and your friends’ imaginations. You’ll see that instead of having them come round for a laugh or two at the weekend, you’ll receive a message from them the minute they get home demanding a rematch.

The following is a modest list of my recommendations that truly shows what board games are capable of and opens the doors for groups of any size to become enraptured with the endless possibilities that this hobby has to offer.

strealms 2

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/147020/star-realms

Star Realms places you in a hostile galaxy facing off against your friends in a celestial cold war that will soon turn hot. Use your ever growing deck of cards to exploit, plunder and fight your way to domination. You start with a bare-bones fleet and through subtle use of trade convoys, logistics and fighters, you build up until each player controls a teetering armada pointed square at the other.

The base game is very inexpensive, probably one of the most value-laden propositions open to beginners with small budgets. There’s plenty in the core box and many expansions to it that will add new mechanics and interesting play styles to keep anyone guessing.

netrunner

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/124742/android-netrunner

Netrunner boasts one of the most consistently impressive reputations of the board/tabletop gaming scene. The asymmetrical style of play means that each player will have to think in different worlds while a corporation desperately tries to fend off a futuristic and well-equipped hacker hellbent on pulling the floor out from underneath.

The base game, while easily three times the cost of Star Realms, can be picked up cheaply if you shop around and comes jam-packed full of beautiful cards that allow you to build and revise several different decks of each side so each game can be fresh and challenging as you learn each factions’ strengths and weaknesses and scope out your friends’ strategies.

brage

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/170216/blood-rage

Blood rage is the last entry on my list and we’re ramping up the price point here. For the money, this is truly everything that you dream about when it comes to gaming. The box comes chock-full of exceptionally crafted miniatures to be placed on the expansive and busy board. The thick manual will guide you through the process of raising your Viking clan up to dominate the realm of the gods while utilising massive monsters and keen, often devious subjects and strategies that will see the claret flow and friendships strained.

Do you and your friends a favour by bringing them experiences that not only scratch the itch for shiny cardboard, but send them home unable to think of anything else but the bulging box you ceremoniously placed before their widening eyes.

Links to official pages:

Star Realms: https://www.starrealms.com/

Netrunner: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/android-netrunner-the-card-game/

Blood Rage: https://cmon.com/product/blood-rage/blood-rage

 

Why you should try Tales from the Loop…

2017 – Sweden

Are you ready to return to that (your) age of wonder?

Since 2011, Fria Liga (Free League), have released a host of interesting and unique RPGs. Their latest, Things from the Flood (TFTL) has a massive 2.79 million Krona pledged of their 100,000 Krona goal. They’re doing great!

So great, Fria Liga have won a guh’Jillion awards already. Shiny gold ones, too.

Based on the strange technology inspired artwork from Simon Stalenhag, TFTL is a retro RPG set in the “80’s that never was” complete with elements of Stranger Things, ET and perhaps even the Goonies.

After the completion of an underground particle accelerator in 1969, things start to get weird. Machines start to populate the landscape and unusual events pull you away from your family life.

You start the game playing as kids in a juvenile and private era of wonder, exploration and mystery. The secretive world of kids on the loose… are yours again.

There’s no death in TFTL – you just get too old and leave for your adult life of humdrum – but there are still dangers.

So why is it good and why should you try it?

The primary element of play-ability is that you play a child… again. Let’s say your character is 10 years old – hey you can role-play that already, you were there once! The concept is much easier to comprehend than playing a 300-year-old elven wizard in a culture you’ve never seen before!

I’m agreeing with Fria Liga; this game is newbie safe.

The adventures are more like mysteries in which the characters have to solve the enigma in a world that is only slightly different from our own. I think Stranger Things is a good way of looking at it.

Check out some of the art work:

my old volvo

And as ever, it gets better.

2018 – Things from the Flood.

So, it’s a decade later, you’re now in your teenage years and life is different. You’re growing up, changing not just in yourself but in a world that is rapidly developing. And the dark waters have risen.

Things from the Flood brings new elements of danger and “raises the stakes” to Fria Liga’s previous game.

I wonder if they’re going to go all the way into retirement?

With familiar iconic archetypes such as the outsider and the party animal (available in the Kickstarter project) you’ll not be in over your head for character concepts.

The Kickstarter is still open with just a week left to go.

Grab your copy for about £30 (not including the postage) with the extra bits for backing the Kickstarter project and seek out those mysteries!

I’m waiting eagerly to see how it goes!

TFTF book cover

Escape the Dark Castle – A game to introduce people to your hobby

It’s like a gateway drug.

You’ll want to play it with your friends, even your friends not into gaming. Then they’ll want to play it more, and before you know it, it’ll all be your fault they can’t stand the sunlight and hiss at passing cats.

2017…

Themeborne, an independent group of game developers based in Nottingham, UK, kicked off their new endeavour with the amazing Escape the Dark Castle – frankly, one the coolest games you can learn to play, and teach your newbie mates.

An elegant cooperative card game you’ll want to play / smash in the face again and again.

I’ll get to telling you why shortly, but first, let’s meet the gang.

Thomas Pike, games writer and critic; Alex Crispin, designer, illustrator and mask wearer also a musician and composer (guess that’s where the cassette tape came from); and James Shelton, co-designer with experience in film making (he did the promotional trailer).

Escape the Dark Castle (EDC) was successfully funded on Kickstarter at the end of June 2017, gaining a cool 2119 backers and smashing their £11K target with nearly £90K pledged.

What made it so good?

The game. Duh.

EDC puts you in the shoes of one of the several medieval citizens imprisoned in the Dark Castle, the cook, the smith and so on. Each character has particular strengths in one of three attributes; Might, Cunning and Wisdom.

Each character has a single special dice which they roll when the time comes and the combined rolls of all the characters determines their success or failure of certain goals in their epic escape.

You find loot, special items, magical googaws and the iconic GOLDEN AXE (which can backfire a little) which was available to Kickstarter backers and will be made available again in the upgrade box.

etDC Kit

The theme of the game is very much 1980’s fantasy – the artwork is black ink on white, reminiscent of the glorious Hero Quest days when artists couldn’t afford paints and printing technologies were not as they are now (it also explains the cassette tape bonus on the Kickstarter project, retro). The art, the concept tape and the amusing 80’s style trailer all add to that nostalgic feel – rekindling some long-forgotten childhood memories (which I embrace).

Trapdoor
Ahh, memories…

Here’s some tasty boasting from the Kickstarter which I can confirm, having the played the game extensively… the perfect selling points are:

  • Its super quick to setup, learn and play (you can go at your own pace though!)
  • It doesn’t exclude totally new players to the game, the genre or the hobby. The rules are that efficient.
  • It’s a totally social game – no one gets left out, most age groups can play it and enjoy it fully, and you can drink tea, eat biscuits or get smashed on looted grog.
  • It’s random each game, so you’ll never play the exact same game twice.
  • It’s actually hard. I think we win on average 25% of the time. There will always be a crux moment where you realise that the game just got much harder to do!

EDC does all of these things, and I can’t wait to play it by candle light on a stormy night in the middle of winter and feel that sweet cosiness.

And what is even better, there’s already an expansion out, Cult of the Death Knight!

Escape the Dark Castle is priced at around £30, with the expansion a pleasant £15 available on the Theme Borne website or your local retailers.

2018 AND IT GETS BETTER!

They are currently working on their latest Kickstarter which is due to ship sometime this year.

There’re 2 more expansions – Scourge of the Undead Queen and Blight of the Plague Lord.

Watch this space!

Orktober Begins! (Get Excited Ya Git!)

The time has come for every Ork player to both hold their breath in anticipation and quake in their boots a little bit at what Games Workshop is going to do with the Orks next.

The road has not been kind to us Ork players over the years: the edition before this one (Seventh) saw us having to retreat more often than not, causing your WAAAGH! to feel as anaemic white bread; coupled with the crap rules for vehicles, old kits, hardly any looted vehicles any more and stalled forgeworld releases, we haven’t been treated very well at all!

This month promises to at least let us know what we have in store for the future. Games Workshop have really turned it around in recent years: their new community site has allowed fans and newbies alike to keep in touch with the Warhammer world (and it’s associated specialist games) by giving us sneak peeks, news and hype leading up to new releases. Well, last month, to coincide with the NOVA open, GW published a post detailing the up and coming projects for this year and into the next.

https://www.warhammer-community.com/2018/08/30/breaking-previews-and-reveals-from-novagw-homepage-post-1/

And there it is; a whole section dedicated to our beloved greenskinned roustabouts, a new specialist game called Speed Freeks (owing to the focus on the Speed Freeks faction inside the Orks for the new releases). So we have some new, shiny vehicles to goggle over and add spiky bitz and more dakka to!

The game looks like GorkaMorka of old but simplified, which I don’t really mind, there are plenty of examples of complex games in the GW sphere these days. I’m sure it will be nice to have a simple and smashy good time game to whip out at the weekends.

buggy

We also had some new rules explanations and teasers for the new Ork codex (A long time in the releasing, we haven’t had a new codex since fifth edition in 2008), giving a tantalising and juicy look into what we can expect. Namely lots and lots of Dakka for our Boyz!

So this is just the beginning. New models are already teased and I fully expect a codex release in the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to bring you all the latest for our green guyz.

Keep Krumpin Ya Zoggin Gitz!

J.A.Steadman.

Speed Freeks Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v7QiQ9ika0

Why you should be excited for Iskloft…

banner for iskloft

Low there do I see my father…

I tend to peruse Kickstarter often these days, and I think you’d benefit from checking in from time to time too. It’s because of the amazing games that people are bringing to us…

I’m excited for Iskloft, a ‘brutal, low fantasy, Viking themed 5th Edition campaign.’

I’m reading it as D&D meets players as spongy sacks of leaky meat?

steak meat raw herbs
Mmmm… meaty… Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Iskloft is the blood spattered, one-eyed wild-child of Lloyd Collins, teacher and theatre director from Ireland who runs JarlDM on Youtube.

Now, if you take a look at the Kickstarter, it looks pretty small…

It’s secured just over 21K euros with less than 600 backers. But here’s the beauty of it, it doesn’t cost a heinous amount of cash to get a copy (at least for now). For 35 euros I’ve secured a hardback copy complete with pdf (so we can play around the table). This is a small but mighty game, and here’s why…

The artwork; it’s just the right balance between detailed depictions and abstract colours. Dominic Mayer and Brandish Gilhelm have really brought the vibrant reality of this world setting to life; check out some of their artwork featured on the Kickstarter project page…

Iskloft seems to be boasting about its unique spell system, which draws its inspiration from historical texts based on the Norse sagas, involving complex rituals and heavy folklore. I’m in!

We also think it’s going to be a different power dynamic to the likes of other 5th edition games – wandering through dangerous places means likely encounters with dangerous beasts. This isn’t a D&D bear attack, prepare to get owned by angry mammals!

I’m keen to see what this game will be like.

It is about time that I subjected my players to some serious Norse tutelage!

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play – 4th Edition! (It’s not quite out yet, but let’s froth, keenly)

So, if you’re like me and you sponged up all that well marketed Games Workshop (GW) content as an impressionable youth, you may be excited to learn that the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play (WFRP) game is due for release in its 4th incarnation.

WFRP goes way back (if you’re young, that is) to 1984. I didn’t know it then, but it was to be one of the greatest roleplay games I’ve ever played. Possibly the most loved 2nd edition was carried by Green Ronin Publishing, and overseen by GW’s own Black Industries… which lasted a mere 4 years before GW decided it wasn’t making enough cash (sound familiar?)

2nd-Warhammer-Fantasy-Roleplay
2nd Edition (THE edition)

Why is it great, you ask?

WFRP puts you in the soggy shoes of the regular people struggling to get by the in the dark and desperate world of Warhammer Fantasy, a much loved setting owned by GW.

It is purposefully set in a grim and gritty reality where horrible things happen to the best of people. Chances are you’re going to go through a good number of characters.

It’s not a game of hit points (like in Dungeons & Dragons) – getting critically hit by a monster is bad; there’s a good chance of dying or at the very least, carrying a horrific wound (assuming you survive). The damage tables give the game a very real, visceral and horrid depth – you really don’t want to get in a fight!

It’s easy to follow game mechanics may rely on the games master a little more, but it needs only ten-sided dice and maths from 0-100, making the game easy to pick up. Everyone knows how many pennies are in a pound, right?

There’s a tonne of different types of characters you can play, and I hope they’ve added more – the 1st edition had hundreds of class types to choose from. It’s a good one to start learning game mechanics if you’re new to the hobby.

History Lesson: WFRP has had its downs – the grand 3rd edition was released as a monster package and, well, people didn’t like paying all the money in the world for a complete set in one go (thanks Fantasy Flight!).

rpg-book-wfrp-pg
We don’t talk about it…

In 2010 Fantasy Flight released a thorough line of books which ended in 2014. They had changed the core system of the game (mainly because you need special dice for anything FF release). Let’s not say it flopped – it just wasn’t as popular.

We’ve been starving since, living off the scraps from auctioning sites for nearly 5 years…

Until now.

In a twist of something Tzeentch, a 4th edition was awarded to Cubicle 7. GW appears to have relinquished control over some of their specialised games (I’m good with this) and these particular developers have run with the earlier and popular editions to create a mega-corpulent Nurgle edition of extreme demoness.

THEY’VE GONE BACK TO THE PERCENTILE DICE!

And Oh Boy, Cubicle 7 seems to have taken it back to its 1st and 2nd edition roots. Check out the art work for the front covers, remind you of anything??

 

I’m more excited than a naked flagellant in a field of stinging nettles!

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play is already released in PDF format, you can get it here.

The core rule-book has all the information you need to enjoy the amazing, gritty and visceral world setting of antiheroes and ultimate evil with just some ten sided dice (y’know, like the good old days!)

The hard-copy of the books are due for release in October, you can pre-order. I’ve spotted copies from £35 – £45 so shop around!

And for those new to the game who are not sure if it’s for them? Well it’s your lucky day; you can buy the starter set to give you a feel for it too from £19 – £25.

It has a slightly later release date but the PDF is ready to go as of September (that’s now…) and comes with characters, an introduction game and 2 ten sided dice (aint that generous?)

Get stuck in and let us know what you think!