MERCS: Recon at the top of this list as it's on my mind at the moment - being in a container ship a couple of days from making port in Hamburg from where the two base game boxes will find their way to my doorstep. Yes, it's almost a year late at this point, and all the extra goodies won't be here until February-ish... hopefully... but it does seem like a lot of fun and I'm excited to stuck in painting the minis.
I've talked about the game before and it's basically Syndicate the board game where you play as a five man squad of highly trained and equipped
Another game, actually the first I played in 2016, that I'm very excited about is Roll for the Galaxy! Race for the Galaxy since I first played it back when I lived in Tokyo. Race is a super tight card game that's easy to take with you and quick to play with great mechanics! However, it can be a little tricky to teach as there are some concepts, like your cards also being money and goods, that often confuse people. Or at least make it harder for them to make good decisions until they've played it a bunch of times. So while fairly simple the actual learning curve is steeper than it looks so it hasn't seen as much play as I would have liked in the past few years.
I've been a great fan of
Now we have Roll for the Galaxy as well, which is a kind of reimplemenation of Race but with dice as workers that you use to scout, develop, colonize, produce etc. You also have a separate track for your money and breaking it out like this has made the game so much more approachable. Much easier to pick up decent strategies from the start and simply easier to get your head around for new players. I was really surprised at how well designed it was actually! I spontaneously put it as a 10 on BGG, which is rare for me, after just one play. I enjoyed it immensely and I hope to see it on the table often during 2016. Oh, and of course the lovely lovely lovely dice... they are lovely.
High Frontier! It was very successfully kickstarted in 2015 and I have actually been holding off on playing the current version with my friends as I don't want them to learn rules that are getting outdated. There are so many things to keep track of already! Also the 3rd edition seems to be the most streamlined yet and I'm very eager to get my hands on it! High Frontier being my favourite game and everything.
When I learned that Phil was adamant about using all his original art I was both relieved and a bit disappointed. If there's one area most of Sierra Madre Games' products could be improved on, it's the art design. On the other hand it's a delicate process as Phil's art has great impact and contains so much cool information that makes you appreciate the game more. I think Greenland 2nd edition and Neanderthal might have been able to pull it off, but I would much rather have Phil's original art than some bland space art that removes a lot of the flavour when it comes to High Frontier. Anyway... when I get the new edition I'll be sure to get my friends hooked and then I'll write more session reports like the two old ones.
As I was considering what else to put in this list MYTH and Star Wars: Imperial Assault came up as two strong contenders. Both miniature based board games that require a large investment of money and time (to paint) to really get the most out of. I did get my mittens on Imperial Assault last year but have so far only played a couple of test missions with my nieces. MYTH on the other hand saw quite a bit of play and I've managed to paint most of the heroes and all of the undead (except Bones), and while Imperial Assault is all kinds of fun I've always felt that MYTH provides a more unique experience and have much better miniatures. I of course intend to play (and paint!) both games this year, but I think I might be more excited about MYTH actually. Especially with Journeyman on the horizon. Speaking of Imperial Assault - anyone besides me who'd want to play an episode VII+ version of the game?
Some other games that are high on my to-play-list is Forbidden Stars, City of Iron, Panamax, Sekigahara, Fire in the Lake, The Battle of Five Armies and, of course, Netrunner! If it seems like I'm mostly talking about games I already own you're either a long time reader of the site or some kind of savant, but it's true. During 2016 I will try to spend less money on new games and focus on playing an re-playing the ones that are already in my collection. There will of course be new games, but recently most of my board game funds has gone toward smaller, cheaper games that are quick to play and that I can bring to play with my family and relatives. Basically I will try... try being the operative word here... to limit my big game spending this year in favour of playing all the games I know I already like.
The One Ring. Mirkwood has always had a special place in my heart so that's probably where I would set the adventures, but Rivendell is really good and I have just started leafing through Ruins of the North which also seems pretty damn cool. And then there's the Rohan supplement not far off. I might have to consult with my players to see what they would prefer.
I have also acquired the new revised edition (thanks Ville!) which is structured better than the original two books and have some updated rules here and there. Very much looking forward to getting this to the table.
Last year I put Genlab Alfa in this spot - the sister game to Mutant Year Zero focusing on the mutated (uplifted) animals - this year I'm putting in Mutant Maskinarium instead which is another Mutant sibling game but this time focusing on the robots of the setting and should be arriving in my mailbox in March/April. The players construct a robot each as their characters complete with special cards for chassi and mechanical options, and then they are let out into the great robot Collective. Many years ago the humans disappeared but the robots remained and are now finally starting to question what they are doing and if there is any point in trying to obey the last order of the humans. Just like Mutant Year Zero really dug deep into what it meant to be a mutant Maskinarium tries focus on what it means to be a robot, about "artificial" life vs "natural" life and free will. If it sounds cool to you I'm happy to tell you that it will be released in English at a later date, although you'll see Genelab Alpha first. Oh, and if the cover art feels familiar it's probably because it was painted by world famous sci fi artist Simon Stålenhag. ;)
Jovian Chronicles from Dream Pod 9. It has always been a favourite of mine in terms of setting. It is basically Gundam with the serial numbers filed off but it has a lot more to offer beside mecha combat. In fact, you could remove the EXO armors (as they're called) completely and you would still have a fantastically deep and broad hard sci fi setting to play around with. I'm personally really fond of the mecha and a fan of the parts of the Gundam universe that is actually good, so for me they're just a bonus. For a comprehensive review of the game I recommend the one by The Alexandrian. There are two reasons I'm pulling this game out of the freezer for 2016. One was the inspiration I got from watching The Expanse (if you haven't seen it yet, what are you even doing here?!!) and the other was the announcement from DP9 that they're releasing fleet scale fighters for Lightning Strike, JC's miniature based sister game, and that EXO armors and a potential rules update might be released in the future if there's enough interest.
More about that last bit later on but suffice to say it made me all giddy about the setting in general. I've been spending the last few evenings reading sourcebooks and watching the original Mobile Suit Gundam. It would take some prepp but what I really would like to do is play through the Odyssey as a campaign. That is quite an ambitious plan though so perhaps a shorter adventure to be played over an evening or two might be the better jump off point. I also need to decide if I want to go with the original Silhouette system that's in the book or hack it to something else. While I quite like the core of the system it does feel a bit dated in places. We'll see.
There are of course loads of other games that crave attention. Torchbearer is never far from my thoughts and I really would like to try it with a group that aren't really veteran roleplayers or haven't played for a long time to see their take on it. Speaking of the Wheel I got the 2nd edition of Mouse Guard and right now Luke is running a kickstarter for the Burning Wheel Codex which is basically an updated book containing the old Character, Magic and Monster burners. Count me in for that! Two other RPGs that will be arriving through kickstarter this year are Infinity and Blades in the Dark. I'm still a little bit torn on Infinity - I think it will be good (they have a great line manager in Justin Alexander!) but I have not got that wow-feeling that I need to really start working on a campaign. Perhaps when I can actually read the books. Blades in the Dark looks all kinds of cool though and I'm also looking forward to the different hacks that us backers will receive. Like changing the setting to Mad Max or Star Wars. The latest quick start rules are pretty much final so I should try and get a group together to try it out!
Considering the amount of board games featuring miniatures that I'm excited to play this year I think I'll avoid the more demanding miniature games to focus on games that are quick to paint and make terrain for. At the top of the list is of course Dropzone Commander. I got almost 1500pt of Scourge just ready to go so all I'm really waiting for is my partners in crime to catch up. Gille is going for UCM and Anders, who at first wasn't partaking but changed his mind during the Dropfleet kickstarter, will command the Post Human Republic. Last year we only managed a quick tutorial game but I hope to get some proper battles under my belt during 2016. The models are quick to paint and while you can spend a lot of time on the terrain it looks perfectly fine just using the stock paper stuff as well. Thumbs up for that!
Dropfleet Commander - the space combat game in the same setting with rules by veteran designer Andy Chambers. Actually, when I say space I should perhaps say orbital as the game is very much focused on the space/dirtside interaction with ships in different orbital layers and trying to land troops in cities on the planet below. Twenty years after Battlefleet Gothic Andy Chambers is again designing a space combat game and it seems like he wants to correct the mistakes in BFG but also bring something new to the table. While still following the rule of cool both Dropfleet and Dropzone are generally part of the hard sci fi school which shows in the design of the rules. I'm very excited to try this as everything I've seen and read about it so far has made it seem like a dream game come true. Hopefully it holds up to the high expectations.
Echoing my roleplaying list I'm putting another DP9 product in here: Lighting Strike - the miniature companion game of Jovian Chronicles. Another space game! Well, it's the easiest kind to make terrain for. Hehe! As I mentioned above DP9 have released the fleet scale fighters they teased more than a decade ago and they are kind of feeling the waters in regards to there being a market for Lightning Strike or not. I think the success of games like X-Wing and Armada as well as Dropfleet Commander is a great testament that people like to play space combat games. While Star Wars is of course a big pull there is more to it as there is more hard-ish sci fi in movies and on tv these days compared to the last 10 or 15 years. There's a growing excitement for space in general and I think the world is ready to go crazy for the first proper Mars mission! Anyway, I'm going to paint all my Lighting Strike ships as well as maybe some EXO armors, but what I'm really hoping to see is fleet scale Pathfinders, Wyverns and Syreens. While I actually don't mind the scale difference all that much I think fleet scale is definitely the way to go to attract new players. I'll play some battles and post some after action reports here to see if I can't help create some buzz for what really is a great space combat game. More on this in a separate article a bit further down the line.
X-wing is also very high on my to-play list this year. I really miss the quick setup and action so hopefully we'll see a come back in 2016. Maybe even one of the campaigns that come with the huge ships! Infinity and Dust Warfare aren't going anywhere but as they are more labour intensive (especially Infinity!) they might have to take a backseat for a bit. That's to say, I'd love to play either of them, but I'm not seeing much new content being generated for them by me. Of course, seeing as I will get the rules for the tabletop game of MERCS with my MERCS: Recon pledge I will try that out as well. I actually think it has the potential to see a lot of play if it turns out to be fun as you only need a 60x90cm area for it and the squad selection is super quick. I would also like to get to play and paint some historic games like Saga or Ronin (would LOVE to do a historical Japanese table!), but I don't see me having time to get into something completely new like that this year.
And I think that's about it for the games that are at the top of my head now during the beginning of the year. I'm sure a lot of things will get shuffled about before we get to 2017 but I feel that most of these games are close to my heart and I think they'll feature quite a bit during 2016...