The first turn of "Nuclear Threat". The Salemites advancing towards the camera.
It's been a bit quiet around here recently as you might have noticed. I've been fairly busy at work and with general summertime activities so haven't had much time for blogging.
Thanks to some weird quantum mechanic time loop I have managed a decent amount of gaming though!
We've played Lord of the Rings: The Card Game quite a few times (appreciated by all so far!), Shadow's Over Camelot, Mansions of Madness, Gruntz 15mm and, of course, Earth Reborn. I'll make a post about LotR at a later date as this post will be devouted to the Earth Reborn "review" I mentioned way back when. Those who've followed this blog for any length of time know that my reviews are mostly just me letting my thought train spill onto the screen through my finger/keyboard interface. Hopefully it will be of some kind of valute to you. If only just amusement. :)
When I wrote that post I had only played the first couple of tutorial scenarios and though we hadn't even used firearms yet I was very impressed with the system! Since then I've played up until the two player scenario 6 and 3/4 player scenario 4 and it's been a blast every time! And there's still a bunch of rules we haven't tried yet like prisoners, interrogation (aka torture), large models like the Mammoth, combined orders, radio scrambling etc etc.
Nuclear Threat, the Salemites (played by me) were attacking a NORAD base in an attempt to launch a nuclear missile. Mats and Martin (the third) took control of two NORAD defenders each. They did what they could to fend off the attack but were overrun in the end. The combination of Frank Einstein and Jessica Hollister equipped with a kevlar vest and a shotgun proved too much. But although I won in the end the game was very tense until the very last turn. I had pushed through the most ardent defenders with Einstein and Hollister while Jeff Deeler and the professor took the back door to the missile control room.
You can see Cherokee Bill (upper left) making his way to the Generator room to cut the power while Einstein and Jeff Deeler are trying to get into the Missile Room to actually launch the missile.
Looking at these pictures reminds me that I really need to paint these guys!
I managed to start the missile countdown but Cherokee Bill and James Woo then cut the power, halting it temporarily. In the end it came down to if I would be able to stop Woo and Bill from disrupting the power again. Luckily for me (but unluckily ofr Hollister) they stood on either side of a mine so I made the slightly suicidal decision to have Hollister step on the mine to catch them in the blast. She survived thanks to the kevlar but it killed Woo and severely injured Bill. A final blast from her shotgun and the game was over. Like I said though it remained tense up until the very last turn as the NORAD side would have won if they'd managed to cut the power just once more.
Something that has impressed me every time I've introduced Earth Reborn to new players (third time now) is the reaction I get. It has been roughly the same every time; first some wrinkled foreheads as I start explaining the order tile system, then general comments like "hmm, that's pretty clever" as they start to get it. Then as we actually start to play there are very few actual rules questions. The system is so intuitive that once you've understood the basic concepts it flows very naturally. And the icon system, while perhaps not to everybody's taste aesthetically, is very easy to follow once you start playing. There are many moving parts in the Earth Reborn rules but they all interlock beautifully and when you introduce the rules gradually it's no problem at all learning the game. Also, while strict realism take the backseat to enjoyment in my book, it's still really cool that most of the rules feel like they make sense from a "realistic" point of view. There are exceptions made for playability's sake of course, but overall it has a nice feel to it.
I think if you like Space Hulk (more on this below) or Descent/Doom or small scale skirmish games like Necromunda then I think you will enjoy this game. If you've also played old turn based computer games like UFO: Enemy Unkown (aka XCOM), Jagged Alliance or even the first two Fallout games you will enjoy it even more! If you on top of that harbour any love for zombies and tounge-in-cheek characters and worldbuilding (again, like Fallout) you will love this game!
Naturally there are some with a different take on the game. I remember listening to The D6 Generation a while back and someone had emailed them and asked why they didn't review Earth Reborn, whereupon Russ said that he'd tried it on some con or other and that he "couldn't wrap his head around it" (I'm paraphrasing here). So there are some people out there who don't like it but as far as I can tell they seem to be in the minority. (Might be worth mentioning to people who don't listen to the show that Russ has a fairly conservative taste in games (in my opinion) and since his absolute top favourite games are Descent and D&D Ravenloft/Ashardalon I could see that the more... progressive concepts of Earth Reborn might have gone past him.)
Finally a word on Earth Reborn and Space hulk.
Chris Boelinger has stated that Space Hulk is one of his favourite games and he wanted to make something similar but better. Did he succeed? Short answer yes.
The long answer is a bit more complicated as Space Hulk is such a singularly focused game. It only does one thing, but it does it great! If you want a tense, almost chess like game with marines slowly moving down corridors fending off aliens then Space Hulk is the better game. In any other situation Earth Reborn is the way to go. I love Space Hulk and I have had lots of fun playing it, but you have to be in that special kind of Space Hulk mood to play it. It manage to create a great atmosphere and you can almost feel the heavy thump of terminator boots and hear the screeches of the genestealers, but this comes at he price of limiting the game to a needle point.
Earth Reborn on the other hand has so many more variables, so much more freedom and tactical possibilities that it doesn't suffer from that problem. You're always in the mood! I'm oversimplifying it a bit, but in the long run I think Earth Reborn beats out Space Hulk with sheer freedom of choice!