Thursday, 23 January 2014

Future - 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

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Alright, so the end of January seems like as good a time as any to write about what I'm looking forward to and what games I'd like to play during the coming year. 2013 and its accomplishments are behind us, let's have take a look ahead...

Board Games

Here I'll talk both about board games that I'm looking forward to trying as well as games I already own and am hoping to play more of. Generally I've come to the conclusion that I really would like to play fewer board games more often - that is to say, not just mark one play and move to the next one but instead play the game several times to really experience it properly.

While I mentioned earlier that my interest in co-op games have waned as of late, I still couldn't help pre-ordering Plaid Hat's upcoming game Dead of Winter. In it you play as a group of survivors after a great apocalypse and you need to work together to keep your community going. However each player also has a secret personal goal that they need to pursue and their is a kind of traitor mechanic as well as there can be a "separatist" among the survivors. So far it sounds kind of like a mix between Battlestar Galactica and Robinson Cruose, but the story elements seem to be a lot stronger than any of those thanks to the "Crossroads" mechanic that Plaid Hat has introduced. It's a way of creating personal experiences for the different characters in the game, usually leading to a tough choice. Also, there are zombies in the game but it's not a zombie game.

Descent makes the list again this year! Which is kind of weird, but seeing as we didn't manage to get our second campaign going last year I think we should redouble our efforts this year. We have the large Labyrinth of Ruin campaign yet untouched and the upcoming Shadows of Nerekhall looks pretty cool as well, with the city theme! We really had a great time playing through The Shadow Rune from the base game and with that experience I think the heroes will make very different choices when questing and building their charaters this time around. Hopefully I'll actually get to switch seat and try out the hero side of things, but even if I don't I'd be happy to simply play more decent (and paint some minis!).

Next up is a game that I learned about for the first time yesterday. It's called Greenland (sorry, no link as it's
not on BGG yet) and is Phil Eklund's next(?) release. I had the fortune to meet the man himself and watch a prototype of Greenland being played. It's a card game and shares mechanics with both Pax Porfiriana and Origins. Thematically it's about the struggle of the three different cultures living on Greenland starting in the year 1000: the Thule, the Dorsets and the Norse. Instead of trying to amass victory points or actively knock out your opponents it's actually a survival game and the last player standing is the winner. As you play the climate gradually changes and makes it tougher to hunt and live off the land meaning that if you can't keep up you'll find your population dwindling!

Although the game is built on the foundation of two fairly complex games I think Greenland will actually be pretty quick to play once you've learned it. An hour or so is probably doable in the games current state, which is really cool as most of Phil's games are longish affairs. It's also worth mentioning that his paragraph might just as well have read "Any Phil Eklund game" as I really enjoy all of them, but I thought it best to focus on one... Greenland! Quite excited for this one!

Terra Mystica was one of those games that I thought looked pretty neat in previews etc, but by the time it was released I had forgotten all about it! However I've got my eye on it now again as I really like the combination of what is classically an Ameritrash theme and the mechanics of a solid Euro. Kind of like what Lords of Waterdeep did, and that was well received even by mostly Ameritrash players in my group. Speaking of Euroes I'd like to get Caverna as well, but seeing as Terra Mystica is a fair bit cheaper and don't have that tell-tale Uwe Rosenberg box layout it might be an easier sell. Hehe!

I also want to play more Expedition: Northwest Passage, Runewars, Archipelago, Earth Reborn, A Game of Thrones, Robinson Crusoe, Star Wars The Card GameDune and Twilight Struggle as well. To name a few!

Roleplaying Games

Every year I say in my Future post that I will play more roleplaying games, and I don't. Except... this year I will! I've pulled together a mixed crew and we've committed to playing in rounds of three or four sessions during a couple of weeks and then rest for a few weeks before the next round of sessions. Last time we played with any regularity it was once every fortnight and I always felt that that was too far between sessions, but at our age most of us can't commit to playing once a week. However, this way we'll be able to run through an adventure (or two, if short) and keep the energy level high while still having downtime in between to spend with family etc. Hopefully it'll work well and we can get a campaign going once we've narrowed down which system we all like best. Right now the lineup looks like this:

We'll start with Torchbearer this Sunday. I had a great time playing it last year and I want to keep exploring the game as I think it has a lot of potential. I'm not sure it's the right game for a long campaign as it's fairly narrowly focused, but then again... it might surprise us! Although Torchbearer is labeled as Advanced Mouse Guard I actually think it will be an easier sell to veteran roleplayers as the subject matter is so familiar. Some of the restrictions on when you get to roll that are in MG are also removed, except of course everything in Torchbearer takes time instead - a finite resource. One of the players didn't seem to keen on trying the game as it "seemed just like the D&D red box" which is ironic as he's right but also very, very wrong. Muahahaaa!

Then we have Star Wars: Edge of the Empire from FFG. I've talked about (and reviewed) the Beginner Game before and had been planning to run that at some point, but in the end I caved and bought the proper core book as well. This is certainly the most traditional of the four games on the line, and although that makes for easy running (but requiring more prepp) it also feels a little bit boring. Don't get me wrong, I really like what FFG has done with the Star Wars license and love the focus on fringe scum, but starting out I'd like to rock the traditional rpg boat a bit and try something different. Also, I really haven't had time to absorb the almost 500 page tome that is the core rulebook!

The One Ring has been one of my dream games to run (or play) since I got it Tales from Wilderland which has a bunch of loosely linked scenarios (getting more linked as they progress) that all really quite neat, but it seems it has been trumped by The Darkening of Mirkwood campaign that stretched over 30 years of game time! I haven't read it yet but people are saying it's the best thing since sliced bread so I'm getting excited. Apparently it's somewhat similar in scope to The Great Pendragon Campaign which is also very highly praised. Should hopefully get the PDF in the near future so I can check it out myself.
back in 2011 as it so expertly evokes the Tolkien feeling. I actually think TOR is probably the best candidate for long term campaign play as it feels like it was built for it from the ground up. I wanted to do it with

Finally we have Mouse Guard. The game that really made me realize the greatness that is the Burning Wheel! It's the game that every roleplayer should read, regardless of if they'll actually play it (or even like it) in the end. I thought it was funny that the player who is not that interested in Torchbearer most of all wants to play Mouse Guard - then again, they are quite different thematically. The reason I threw it in the mix, besides wanting to play it of course, was to have a low prep game available to me for those time where time might be short or one of the regulars is missing. It's a great game to simply pull out and play on the fly!

You might think that FATE, especially Diaspora, is missing from this lineup and well... you are right. Diaspora is also one of my (unplayed) cornerstone games but right now I want to focus more on actually getting to grips with the with Burning Wheel family. Although I think FATE is all kinds of awesome there's something about Luke's creation that really, really appeals to me and I want my friends to get that same feeling. I think this might take three or four sessions, which is why our round system is such a good thing! After the first round we'll talk about the next round and if we should continue with Torchbearer or switch to something else. I'm hoping for at least two rounds of TB to really get to grips with it, but of course it depends on how well received it is. Oh, and we'll play Mutant: År Noll for sure when I get that!

Miniature Games

Should I just cut and past from last year? Hmm... nah, there are actually a couple of changes!

Let's take a look at the big newcomer first. Deadzone arrived just before Christmas and I've managed to put together the Enforcers at least, and even test painted one! Besides painting the rest I need to get cracking with the terrain as there is... loads of it. Anyway, Deadzone is nice since it's quick to setup and play and since there are now a bunch of people in my expanded gaming circles who have invested in it. While the campaign game is not quite as deep or detailed as Necromunda it looks like a fun romp to get the most powerful force together!

Although Dust Warfare is resting for a bit at the moment I have no doubt that we will play it during 2014. It's been our goto wargame but I wonder if Deadzone might take its place in that aspect. Then again, Deadzone doesn't have big tanks, helicopters and stomping mechas! Battlefront just to sort out the Warfare support and I'll run out and get some Steel Guard. Also, it seems like we'll see the release of the Japanese this year which could be a big boost for the game! Apparently the Vrill is still some ways off.

Infinity is still on the list even though it's been a long time since my last game. Just like my cornerstone roleplaying games I feel that Infinity is one of my cornerstone miniature games and it will continue to be a focus of mine even when it doesn't see all that much play. Things are ramping up around these parts though and I've decided to start a Steel Phalanx force as a counter weight to my Yu Jing. So far all I have is Diomedes, but more are to come.

Another potential newcomer is Dropzone Commander! I'm not entirely sure on this one quite yet, but I was thiiiis close to ordering the new core box last year after having read Ferb's great coverage on his blog. Besides, now that I've pledged for a Games & Gears DC gameboard I guess I would be stupid not to get the actual game. Haha!  The models are simply beautiful and the gameplay seems solid as well. What really got me interested in it initailly was the default urban setting of the battles as that is something you rarely see in wargames these days. It simply looks really cool fighting among sky scrapers! I'm kind of hoping that DC could be something of an Epic alternative as I miss that kind of gameplay. I've considered painting my unfinished Epic Eldar army, but these days I find the more hardish sci-fi looking DC models more to my liking.

Of course, we will also continue playing X-Wing (Corellian Corvette and rebel Transport coming soon!!) which we all like and I hope I'll get to play some 15mm stuff like Tomorrow's War and Gruntz as well as spaceship games like Lightning Strike, Starmada and perhaps the new edition of Firestorm: Armada!

Hmm... yeah, I think that's about it. Or at least those are my main aims for 2014. I guess we'll see how it went in my next Past and Future articles next year!

5 kommentarer :

  1. Phil Eklund's Greenland actually sounds very interesting. Nice theme and I'm always interested in the depicted period of history whether its games, movies, comics or books. I have to keep my eyes on this one if it ever sees a release on this side of the gulf. When it comes to board games in general, there are many which I'd like to try but initial costs are usually pretty high. Not the most enticing scenario when the game might see only a single use. Games like Hobbit Tales are right up my alley as the price doesn't break the bank and are usable with other games, The One Ring roleplaying game in this instance.

    And speaking of The One Ring. The just released The Darkening of Mirkwood is an excellent addition to the game and I'd recommend it to anyone who plans to run The One Rings. It's should be noted that the The Great Pendragon Campaign as a whole is pretty huge and scope of Cubicle 7's campaign isn't quite so epic. The Great Pendragon Campaign's story moves forward in a few arcs, and The Darkening of Mirkwood feels like one of those arcs. Part of a grand narrative which starts with The Hobbit and ends with The Return of the King. The One Ring has been on my games-to-get list for quite some time and I bought the game just prior Christmas. The Mirkwood campaign came out just the right time and this game is most likely the next game we'll be running since I don't think we'll be running Dragon Age for while with the Set 3 delayed again.

    Star Wars: Edge of the Empire was a little disappointment for me too. It seemed to do many things right initially but in the end came out a little dry and boring. Or maybe Star Wars just doesn't hold the same kind of sense if wonder it used to have. I ended up running it only once as a pseudo-Traveller game set in the Third Imperium with liberal Star Wars seasoning added to the mix. I have a feeling I won't be running this again any time soon unless the Suns of Fortune turns out to be extremely good.

    Much more interesting setting and more refreshing system was offered by the FATE based Nova Praxis. The game has taken a bit of heat from the transhumanist rpg crowd as the setting is superficially very close to its thematic cousin, Eclipse Phase. But once you delve deeper, the similarities with two settings end pretty quickly. Nova Praxis was also the first FATE game for my group and they're liking it so much, I'm considering buying the book in hardcover. Definitely a game I'm going to run again this year.

    Torchbearer I ran only three time with two of them being published adventures. The first one was a test run of sorts to get the feel for the mechanics. Of all the games ran, Torchbearer got most mixed feelings. Mainly as it was so different from the games we usually run. You could argue FATE is different form the usual bunch, but my groups got the game's concept really fast. I think Torchbearer a challenge for the DM as well as for the players. And since I like to challenge myself, I'll be running Torchbearer again. I'm planning to use some modules (and maybe grab something else) from Dungeon Crawl Classics wit Torchbearer. The mood of the two games is very similar, but DCC tends to be very random on many things where Torchbearer is not.

    And or course there are a few other games like Numenera, Werewolf the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition, Demon the Decent, Mummy the Curse, the newly reimagined Vampire the Requiem which'll most likely make an appearance at our table this year.

    1. It seems like someone persuaded Phil to change the name to Greenland Saga while he was here, and I agree that it has a better ring to it. Anyway, I met up with him again and got to actually try playing it and while there are a couple of kinks here and there to work out (the Norse are qutie powerful atm, with their cattle) it's a really neat little game that manage to pack a lot of the typical Eklund stuff into a small card game that plays fairly quickly. Also, since Phil lives in Germany and Sierra-Madre Games is based there shipping is definitely reasonable!

      The One Ring has been very high on my list since... I first read it basically, but have yet to actually hit the table. I think it's not too far off now though. I imagine I'll run Torchbearer for another session or two (for three-four total, a good first outing) and then we might switch to Star Wars or The One Ring, depending on what the group wants and how much I feel I want to prep for The Darkening of Mirkwood. More prepp and I'll keep them busy with blasters and spaceships, less prepp and we might simply dive into Mirkwood.

      I'm not sure about Star Wars myself. It's a solid enough product, but as always with FFG rpgs, it feels a bit bloated. My friend thinks FFG writes suffer from word diarrhea and I'm inclined to agree with him. Just compare Torchbearer with the SW core book. At less than half the page count TB manage to be far ahead of SW in terms of innovation and general... enthusiasm! Granted it's not the game for everybody (that SW is trying to be) but it's a damn bit more exciting to read.

      Still, we'll try it out as I like the setting choices FFG has made and as I said the books are solid pieces, just a bit wordy. But I agree that they feel a bit... boring. It's all what you make it though and I think my players will have fun with it!

      Nova Praxis is on my list although I still haven't got it. I've wanted to play Eclipse Phase but the system seems a bit clunky. Perhaps NP is the way to go.

      Torchbearer IS difficult to get going and it will be polarising no matter what. My players (and I) are still getting to grips with it and I think the top thing I need to focus on during the next session is being much stricter with Describe to Live!

      Should have one or two session reports up before the end of the week.

    2. Word diarrhea :D Haha! But yes, FFG's books tend to be quite wordy and could be a little more condenced with their content. Might be that projects with multible writers tend to that way. Individual writers are given the subject and a max page count with the book planned as around 400 pages from the start.

      I think the New World of Darkness core books suffered a bit from the same problem. It's nice to see that the reimagined Vampire the Requiem as Blood & Smoke: The Strix Chronicle makes much better use of its page space than the original core book did. Writing is also much better.

      There is a Fate conversion guide for Eclipse Phase in the works as it was one of Posthuman Studios' stretch goals with the Transhuman Kickstarter. But if your familiar with the setting of Eclipse Phase, I'm pretty sure you could run it with Nova Praxis with no conversion. Not that there's anything wrong with the original setting of Nova Praxis, the focus on thematic elements is just a bit different to Eclipse Phase.

    3. Well, it's like all art/projects I think: higher budget (often) means bloat and a loss of innovation.

      Vampire and the whole World of Darkness is... a thing of my past I think. I've tried to go back and look at it now and then, but I think it's so strongly a product of its time that I have a hard time getting into it these days. Is it very different from the 1st/2nd editions?

      Nova Praxis is on my list! :)

    4. Well the New World of Darkness dropped the whole end-of-the-world -metaplots of the Classic World of Darkness (Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse etc.). The nWod also initially dumped the global conspiracy level of play and the core rules were made into one book with the supernaturals being templates in their own books. Character creation always started with a normal mortal human and the desired template (vampire, werewolf, changeling, etc). What was left was a game that was much more mundane, focusing more on personal horror. While the actually mechanical rules were much more streamlined and overall better, the toolbox approach to settings made them lose much of their old flavour.

      In the case of Vampire the Masquerade's successor, Vampire the Requiem, many of the clans were cut and the number of factions (or covenants as their called) was put up. This made the game much more political in my opinion. But since the not all clans and factions were constantly at each others throats, much of the internal conflict which made Vampire the Masquerade so interesting was subdued from Vampire the Requiem. The Requiem setting got better over time as the clan and covenant sourcebooks fleshed out many things, but original Vampire the Requiem core rulebook didn't make the best effort in describing the setting.

      Still. No matter how nostalgia fogged spectacles I look Vampire the Masquerade through, I still think Vampire the Requiem was much closer to the game what Vampire the Masquerade wanted to be. A game of personal horror, not global conspiracy. Not better, but different. But maybe not different enough.

      Which leads us to Blood and Smoke which could been seen as a 2nd edition of Vampire the Requiem. The clans and the covenants have been reimagined and right out of the gate they're much more appealing choices to players. The vampiric power have been revised and universal threat, the Strix, have been added to setting. Blood and Smoke also has the core rules in the same book which marks a return to the cWoD style with rules and setting in one book. Overall the game now feels different enough from Vampire the Masquerade which makes it much more playable.


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