Thursday 11 January 2018

Future - 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

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Having looked back at the past year, it's time to gaze ahead and try to make out what games are hiding in the mists of tomorrow. Like last year, I'm going to try and think about which games I own that I really want to hit the table, and not just new, seductive titles.

Board Games

Ok, so let's start out with something new. At the moment there aren't that many must-get titles for 2018, but there are a couple for sure. One of those is Aristeia from Corvus Belli. CB is not well known in the board game world, as they're makers of the fantastic skirmish miniatures game Infinity. Aristeia takes place in the same world but not on the battlefield... but in the arena! Inspired by MOBAs such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 each player controls a team of four aristos (fighters) on a hexagonal arena called the hexadrome. You have a number of general cards and then each characters has special cards of their own you can add and you score by entering special zones. It's card driven area control combined with tactical combat and it seems like loads of fun!

It has a number of similarities to GW's recent title Shadespire, which is also card driven and objective focused. Shadespire seems a little simpler and faster, but the general idea is very similar. What draws me to Aristeia over Shadespire is the slightly deeper gameplay, the world of Infinity, the colourfull characters (it is very Overwatch inspired!) and the fact that you can pick and mix aristos freely - there are no set factions you have to adhere to. Oh, and it helps that two of my friends have already picked it up.

Let's mix it up with a game I already own - The Expanse from Wizkids. I got to try it out at a recent game day here in Tokyo and it is a great game! A nice mix of Twilight Struggle and COIN mechanics with a space theme makes for an extremely tight game where every turn is fraught with difficult decisions. From what I've experienced and read so far UN (Earth) seems to be the strongest faction right now, and I'm wondering if this is by design or simply because the game is new and strategies are still being developed. I'm kind of leaning toward the former, in that I could easily see UN being the "default winner" if the other three factions don't at least try to keep them in check. Either way, I'm really eager to get this to the table soon as I feel it could become one of my staples. Just need to be sure to keep a brisk pace as it is easy to let time fly as you think about where to put that final cube...

Finally we have something both old and new - Triplanetary, originally from 1973(!) is getting a Kickstarter campaign that is ongoing right now. This is a game I've read about and thought about maybe trying to print my own copy of, but never got around to. It's basically a vector movement space combat toolbox allowing you to play anything from a (literal) race in space to pirate hunts in the asteroid belt to alien invasions of the solar system! It uses simple vector movement on a hex map where you draw your course with a dry-erase marker. There are rules for reaction mass expenditure and refueling, combat, nukes, bogey ships, bases etc.
reprint thanks to a

While vector movement with counters on a hex map might sound like a headache, the game is surprisingly rules light and most of the scenarios (there are eight in the original game) have only two or three ships per player. Steve Jackson has said that there will be a few tweaks, mostly to the combat rules, but for the most part it will be identical to the original (and the original rules will be included as well). There will be an additional campaign mode though, which is new and sounds like it could be fun but maybe long. This is the kind of release that really makes me excited - a really old but solid game that is finally being made available again should be reason enough, but then it's about realistic space warfare and has a this amazing old school science fiction vibe to it that I can't help but love!

When it comes to new games I would also like to try Jordan Draper's new Tokyo Series that is currently being Kickstarted. Jidohanbaiki looks like a nice toolbox of quick filler games of all kinds and Tokyo Metro immediately got my blood pumping just looking at that awesome route map! I also have Empires of the Void II and Bios: Megafauna 2 which are both currently or soon shipping so more new stuff to look forward to! Turning to my current collection of games I would really like to play more Roll for the Galaxy (because it's always quick and always fun!), Leaving Earth (beacuse SPACE!), Myth (since it seems like it might still be alive!), Troyes (because it's the best euro with dice!),  Claustrophobia (because it's the new Space Hulk!) and A Few Acres of Snow (because it's the best deck builder!)... among others...

Roleplaying Games

There are always way too many awesome roleplaying games for me to ever have the time to read, let alone play! Even with all the board games that are produced these days I usually get more fire up by a cool looking rpg, even when the chances of playing a board game is much higher. Still when it comes to actualy play, our Jovian Chronicles campaign will likely be my top pick for years to come, as I'm pretty sure it'll take that long to complete and I refuse to let it just dissolve. I'm currently experimenting with Roll20, both to be able to play with my friends in Sweden here from Japan, but also to make it easier for us to get a game together even when we're in the same city.

Besides Jovian Chronicles I have my usual suspects of Torchbearer, Mutant: Year Zero and The One Ring waiting on the sidelines. They might pop up at any point, but since you already know that let's talk about which other games I've got a particular hankering for.

Something horrible! I read Dread ages ago, and Ten Candles about a year ago, but I still haven't played either of them. Although I used to play a lot of Call of Cthulhu and Kult back in the day I've never really been all that much into the horror aspect. Or I should say, the scary aspect of them. I love creating the creepy stories, but just like reading a Lovecraft story isn't really scary the games never reallt invoked fear at at. Which is of course extremely hard to do anyway, and frankly I don't think Dread or Ten Candles will do it either. However, they both use interesting ways to make the players tense and I would love to see how they actually work at the table. Since they require little prep and are built as one-offs this should really be doable during 2018.

Something cyberpunky! I think space and cyberpunk are my two favourite settings and recently I've been on a bit of a retro cyberpunk binge. The classic setting is really played out today since so much of it has either come true, or not, and the parts that are left aren't really enough to stand on their own legs. So either you try to update your cyberpunk, which can work - the new Deus Ex games are good examples of this I think - or you lean into the feel of it and see it as an alternative future rather than our future. As for specific games I'm thinking TechNoir used with FFG's Android setting or combining the mechanics of Brad Murray's Hollowpoint with the setting of Ray Winniger's (under appreciated) Underground.

TechNoir + Android seems like a perfect fit to me as both game and setting lean heavily into the noir trope. While technology and punks are part of both of them in the end it comes down to people and their actions and interactions. TechNoir even has a cool system for getting hackers into the game (as opposed to doing their own thing separate from the group) which I think would work well with the Netrunner part of the Android setting. With the announcement of the Terrinoth module for FFG's Genesys rpg system I'm expecting an Android version further down the road, but I think I actually prefer a different system.

Hollowpoint + Underground might require a bit more work but it feels like it would fit. In Hollowpoint each player is an über-competent badass agent that is way above us ordinary mortals. These agents are forced to work together to perform a task and usually does it through violence and mayhem. It sounds quite a bit like Underground where you're playing these super powered war veterans trying to clean up a dystopian USA. Or at least, it's close enough that you could tweak it to work. I see three main points that would need to be worked out: 1) Hollowpoint is mainly a one-off game, 2) You would need a system for the player characters mental status (they're semi-psychotic killing machines after all), and 3) There needs to be a system for changing your environment (block/city/state/country/world) as you play. Will keep this idea in the cogitator tank to see what pops out.

Something fantastic! Besides Torchbearer I haven't played or GM'd any fantasy games (does Mouse Guard count? Nah!) since we wrapped up our WFRP3 campaign in 2011 and I do feel the itch to swing a sword again. So besides my staples of Torchbearer/Burning Wheel and The One Ring, what else do we have that looks interesting? I think the big elephant in the room is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition from Cubicle 7. I've written about it here on the blog before and for me it's the big rpg release of 2018. Forbidden Lands from Fria Ligan is a close second though. I like most of what I saw in the alpha and I have the feeling that it could easily become my go-to game for semi-generic fantasy (the setting is actually quite unique in many ways, but you know, orcs/elves/dwarves).

This is by no means the only roleplaying games I would like to play, but certainly the ones at the top of my mind at the moment. We'll see what 2018 actually brings...

Miniature Games

Eightfold Path champion for The Legend of Fabled Realms.
If there's one genre of tabletop games where I really have no need to invest into new titles it's the miniature games. With time for painting and modelling lacking and the extra investment required to actually play a game it's actually kind of weird that I'm still clinging to them. On the other hand, I love the hobby aspect, which works as a kind of meditation for me, and when it does come together it's almost always a lot of fun! I will try to focus on what I already have, but there are at least one (or two) new games that I'm getting into.

As always Infinity is at the top of the list, and I don't expect this to change pretty much ever. During 2017 I made great strides in actually getting terrain enough to have a table of my own. Currently it consists of two Red Veil sets and a number of terrain pieces from Systema, Zen Terrain and Art of War with objectives from MicroArt Studios. Most of the scatter terrain is mostly painted so playing smaller battes using them and the Red Veil terrain works well. Next steps is painting the larger structures. Sooner or later I will need a way to make a proper 120x120 table though as I'm currently limited to 90cm in length. My Yu Jing are growing as well and last year I got my first sectorial army as I invested in some Corregidor - I could only resist those Geckos for so long.

Let's keep the skirmish angle going and have a look at... Necromunda! Yes, you read that right, I am going back to GW for a bit. I've read mostly positive things about the new version and the minis we've seen so far look kind of cool. Still, I won't be getting any of the gangs we've seen so far (although doing shaved heads on a gang of Escher and painting them like Imperator Furiosa does seem like fun!) as my favourites have always been Cawdor and Delaque. Before we get any of them though, it seems like we'll be getting the Genestealer Cult! I was tempted when GW first released the new cult minis and being able to actually use them in game seals the deal for me. I don't know if I will get the actual Necromunda boxed game, but I will absolutely put together a cult so I can play it!

The third skirmish game I'm getting into in 2018 is the upcoming Legends of Fabled Realms from 4Ground that was funded through kickstarter last spring. Gorgeous minis, a cool backstory and rules that kind of feels like fantasy Infinity made it very hard to resist, even though I tried! In the end me and my buddy Anders jumped in with both feet and we're looking forward to the release in (hopefully) September. The big reason I felt it was manegeable was of course the skirmish aspect. Only having to paint ten-ish minis is workable. The more I see and read about it the better it sounds and it's going to be fun to paint something else than scifi soldiers and space ships!

Speaking of space ships there will be space gaming in 2018 for sure! Jovian Chronicles/Jovian Wars/Lightning Strike takes top priority as we'll use the minis for the rpg campaign as well. You can also play complete games with quite few figures and I have more than enough to field two fleets which means I can simply pull it out and play with friends I invite home. Of course Dropfleet Commander is the other space game I have in mind, but since I'm reliant on someone else to at least build a fleet before I can play it I'm not sure when it will actually see play. It'll be interesting to see what TTCombat does with it in 2018 - hopefully they can breath life into it and Dropzone Commander.

Other games that might see play and/or a paint brush is Test of Honour, Dust Warfare, 15mm scifi, Heavy Gear and Rogue Stars. But really, considering the games I've mentioned above and the large amount of miniature board games I have I would be surprised if I had the time for these as well.

Quite a few repeats from years past, which I suppose is only natural as you find games you love, but there will be quite a few new acquaintances as well. At this very moment as I sit here and type this the game at the top of my mind stack is actually the 37 year old Triplanetary. Hopefully it's as much fun as I think...

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