Board GamesWe'll start with the easy, although ubiquitous, board games and which ones I look forward to playing during 2015. As always this is far from a complete list, and merely the (current) top of the iceberg. There are far too many games that I want to play to list them all. Just like last year I will do what I can to focus on a smaller number of games but play them a larger number of times.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault. When it was announced I thought "cool, Descent in space" and didn't think all that much more about it as I was more drawn to the excellent looking Star Wars: Armada. However the more I read about it and thought about what I wanted out of Descent I started to get giddy. After reading the rulebook especially, it seems to me like IA is basically the fourth edition of the Doom game engine and it takes the good stuff from Descent 2nd edition while (seemingly) leaving out or changing the bad. This plus a setting that we're all familiar with and like for the most part I think we're on to a winner! Had you asked me about it a month ago I would have said it's an insta-buy, but I've actually decided to hold off until I'm at least back from Japan. but I have to admit it's a great money and time sink as I of course would like to paint all the minis. Seeing as I'm hoping to get some other miniatures painted this year, adding yet another game to the list would perhaps not be very smart. Still, I'm sure I'll end up buying it in the end. :)
While we're on the subject of board games with a lot of plastic, let's not forget MERCS: Recon that I helped kickstart. Basically it's Syndicate the board game and it looks great! The projected release date is Q1 2015 and it has seemed from past updates that the game is on track so although I expect it to be delayed (most kickstarters are) it will hopefully be waiting for me when I get back home in April. I went a little crazy and got the OPFOR level plus the All In extra so have 15 MERC teams of each 5+ miniatures as well as the 80+ OPFOR minis to provide resistance to the MERCS. That's a lot of plastic to paint! Of course, the different MERC teams will be painted one at a time and as most only number six or seven miniatures total they should be quick. I actually think the OPFOR might take longer as you need more of them for a single game, then again I feel they can be painted to a lower standard which again should make it quicker. Very much looking forward to this as it seems like loads of fun!
Scythe is a board game set in an alternate-history 1920s. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. Think of it as Agricola meets Kemet with asymmetric factions.
In Scythe, players work as individuals (or pairs using a new communication mechanism that expands the game up to ten players) to lead their country to victory by conquering territory, recruiting new villagers and troops (each with a unique name, story, and skill set — these aren't faceless, generic soldiers), reaping resources (which stay on the map, thus drawing opponents's attention to certain areas if players stockpile resources), and building monstrous mechs. Scythe uses a card-driven simultaneous action selection mechanism to keep the game moving at a brisk pace, with players then taking individual turns to carry out those actions on the map.It sounds really interesting to me and I'll be sure to keep an eye on it. And again... the art! Let's see a couple of images right now:
I got Ryan Laukat's Eight Minute Empire: Legends as a birthday gift and have since then been looking through the rest of his games and not only are they all works of art visually, but they also seem like great fun to play! At the top of my list is City of Iron which is a steampunk deck builder where you have one deck to represent the civilian part of your budding nation and one to represent the military. From what I've read it's leaning toward the slightly heavier deck building games which actually suits me just fine. There is also his newer game The Ancient World and I actually like that theme a bit more as it reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus, however it is a bit lighter than City of Iron and although I'm sure I'll end up with both in my collection I'll likely get the heavier of the two games first. The only negative I've read is that there can be an issue with downtime in the game, but it seems like this can be solved fairly easily.
Mysterium is a cooperative game where one player takes the role of a ghost who try to help the other players who take the roles of psychics who are visiting the mysterious manor the ghost haunts. Trying to puzzle together the mystery of what happened at the manor is tricky as the ghost only have cards with visuals available to him to communicate. After having a lot of fun with Hobbit Tales from the Green Dragon Inn I thought another kind of light storytelling game might be fun to try and this both seems to have a fun theme (who doesn't like ghosts and murder mysteries?) coupled with a cooperative detective element. Asmodee is apparently preparing an English release for Gencon, but I might snatch up the Polish edition as there is no text on the (beautiful) cards and English rules are available online.
Some other games I really look forward to playing in 2015 are Dead of Winter (still haven't played it!!), Virgin Queen (a quicker, more approachable Here I Stand?), Clash of Cultures (which seems much more like Civ than the actual game by FFG), Space Empires: 4X (Jacob recently got this so I should read up on the rules), Panamax (something about ships and locks and stock looks like fun to me) and War Stories (block wargame with extreme fog of war and great art!). This is of course in addition to the games already in my collection, but I think you're fairly familiar with them by now. ;)
With quite a bit of roles being played during 2014 I'm dead set to see it continue in 2015! Paradoxically it might actually be easier to get my roleplay group together for regular games than board gaming.
Speaking of Mutant, there is also the new Mutant: Genlab Alfa (Gene Lab Alpha) coming in March that will re-introduce the mutated animals as player characters, complete with a new campaign and meta-plot. This time though my friend Jacob is taking the role as game master so I might finally get to take part as a player for once! For those wondering, this is only the Swedish release but as it seems like the English edition of Mutant: Year Zero is getting good reviews I think it's only a matter of time before Genlab Alfa is translated as well. Of course it is part of the Mutant: Year Zero family and will be completely compatible with the original game, making player groups constituting a mix of mutated humans and animals a possibility. In the future we'll see similar releases for robots and non-mutated humans so there is a lot to look forward to!
Savelvinter (Sulphur Winter) which is based on the books of Erik Granström which are in turn based on a legendary Swedish roleplaying campaign written by him in the eighties (so game becoming books becoming game, basically). The feel of the setting is a kind of pre-gun rennaisance (although there is black powder) where magic is very real and connected to the Narrators (gods). Both religion and magic is heavily influenced by ancient Summeria and brings another level of uniqueness to the setting. The system used in the game has a strong narrative focus and you can see influences both from FATE and Burning Wheel as well as other recent "indie" rpgs. Although it's not available in English, and would probably be hard to translate, there is a quick-start PDF available in English that includes the full introductory adventure The Last Days of Arhem available for download. It's certainly worth checking out!
Although I'll try and focus on these three games I would love to play some space and cyberunk rpgs as well. When I say space I'm mainly thinking hard-ish sci-fi like Diaspora, Jovian Chronicles, Traveller, Eclipse Phase or perhaps even Coriolis! But then again, I'd be up for either version of FFG's Star Wars games or some Ashen Stars as well.
As for cyberpunk, the primary game I'd love to try (perhaps as a one-off) is Technoir, but Cubicle 7's cyberpunk/horror fusion game Kuro also looks really interesting. Then there's the FATE powered Nova Praxis that kind of brings space and cyberpunk together in a way that seems really cool. So many games to play!
EDIT: Oooh! This just in: Luke and Thor brings us a magnificent new years present in the form of an Aliens hack for Torchbearer! Now this we have to play. Check it out here.
This is probably the hardest of the three categories to actually get to play. Although they are all two player games the space and terrain required make them prohibitive. Space games have it easier as terrain is quick and easy while Infinity is tricky since it really thrives on a fairly packed table. Still, with all the affordable HDF terrain out there, I should be able to make it!
With the release of N3 and my buddy Claes buying a Haqqislam force I really feel that 2015 will be the year of Infinity! At least so far as miniature games are concerned. My interest in the game has never waned but I haven't been able to play it as much as I would like, but this should change now that two of us in our local group are Mayanauts. I of course still have my trusty Yu Jing and the changes made to them in N3 has me more excited than ever to get them to the table! Finally our powered armour really are the best in the Human Sphere and close combat and Martial Arts have become actually valuable skills rather than once in a lifetime opportunities (not that it rivals shooting though. This is still Infinity we're talking about!). I'm really looking forward to the new Invincible and White Banner sectorials but those will have to wait for the next campaign book (Acheron Falls). In the meantime I'll keep painting my Yu Jing, perhaps focusing a bit on the newer heavy infantry, and I want to get my Assault Sub-Section table ready as well. I should get the starter, the Myrmidon box and maybe Penny and I'll be ready to go. There will also be an ITS tournament here in Tokyo next month that I will try to attend. Although I don't have my own minis with me some kind Mayanauts here in Japan has offered to lend me a force! Mmmm... I feel a lot of Infinity goodness in the near future...
I've talked about Star Wars: Armada at length here and I will try not to repeat myself, but basically I think it might be the perfect storm of (capital ship scale) spaceship gaming and accessibility that will make my local gaming group pick it up. Although I've tried to introduce various spaceship miniature games to my group before none have actually stuck. There are of course various reasons for this but I suspect the main one to be that most of them weren't neatly produced and marketed in a complete package. Although I have no problem with rule PDFs from smaller producers (like Starmada), or using rules from games long dead (like Lightning Strike) my group mostly prefer things slick, shiny and vibrant. Sure, it's nice that things are pre-painted (except for the fighters), but it really does get expensive. I could literally have a complete starter fleet of 13 ships for Full Thrust for the same price as one of the larger ships for Armada! That's pretty scary. Hopefully it's worth it. :)
Dropzone Commander made this list last year, and here it is again! The only reason I haven't bought the core box yet is because I'm still waiting for my Games & Gears battle board that I kickstarted a year ago. It was of course delayed, though at no fault of the G&G guys who have handled it very well, but should also be arrive before I get home. Basically, I'll have a lot of goodies waiting for me in Sweden! Anyway, my thoughts on the game haven't changed and I still think it looks like a real winner when it comes to army scale sci-fi gaming. The first expansion book for the game has been released and the new army, the Resistance, is absolutely awesome looking! As I'm still venturing into this alone I'll stick to the armies in the starter box (USCM and Scourge) for now. The gameplay seems solid, I like the concept of having to rely on dropships and the game looks spectacular even just using the cardboard terrain from the box. Will get!
Heavy Gear Blitz starter box with plastic minis. I went back and forth many times on this before I pulled the trigger, because although Heavy Gear has been a part of Fire Broadside since 2009 I have never actually got it to the table since I only had one faction and have been reluctant to get terrain for it since it was an odd scale. Things have changed now though as Dropzone Commander is the same scale and the kickstarter core set has enough miniatures for four starter armies; North, South, CEF and Caprice. With the change to plastic and the rules becoming a bit more casual friendly I simply couldn't resist. The projected shipping date is November so it could be a 2015 game (which is why I included it in this list) but more likely it'll slip to next year, which is fine by me as I'll be busy painting so much other stuff! Oh, and if you're interested you can still get in on the Kickstarter core box with all four factions by registering here.
Other miniature games that will get played are MERCS (I got the new edition of the skirmish game rules and cards as part of the MERCS: Recon kickstarter so will try it out), X-Wing (I must play the huge ship campaigns!) and Dust Warfare/Tactics/Battlefield (need to paint my Steel Guard). Also I will try hard to get some 15mm into the mix. Having read through No End in Sight from Nordic Weasel Games I'm very keen to try the sci-fi version of it, No Stars in Sight, as the core rules are really interesting and it seems to play fairly quickly.
And that's it for my Future games this year! I'll be back in December to see how much of this actually materialized and how much was the desperate dreams of a madman. :D