Archive for January, 2017

Doom

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming
Tags: , , ,

I’ve always been a massive fan of the Doom franchise (barring the questionable movie tie-in) and I’ve enjoyed all of the games including FFG’s original Doom board game, which was based on Doom 3. So it is with great joy I see that hot on the heels of the 2016 Doom reboot (that is arguably one of the best videogames released last year), FFG have released a new board game to tie in with it.

My initial worries when first unboxing the game that this was just going to be rehash of the original Doom board game were quickly assuaged when I saw that the game mechanics had been altered, with more emphasis on action and speed than the original’s slow paced, scraping desperately for ammo feel. If the original game was made to feel like Doom 3, then the new game feels like the Doom reboot. It is also worth saying that as usual FFG have put some decent production values into the map tiles, tokens and especially the minis. The monsters all look brilliant and match their iconic looks from the most recent game, they are also correctly scaled so a Baron of Hell looms menacingly over a marine and the Cyber Demon looks truly terrifying to behold.


The game plays similarly to the likes of Imperial Assault but with some slight differences. Initiative and turn order in the game is drawn randomly from a deck so you don’t quite know who will action first, which adds a bit of chaos to the proceedings, as it can lead to you having to react on the fly when your initial strategy goes up in smoke. Actions and defence are also played out by the Marine action deck or Invader event deck, rather than having set moves and skills that you can play every turn. I liked this as it still provided strategy – as you had a selection of different moves that you could play to certain situation – but also adds a risk/reward feel to the game. You could have a bad hand that could make you take a gamble, which could then backfire as the Invader player draws a dodge card that would negate any damage you did.

Added features such as staggering and glory killing demons also add a risk and reward element to the proceedings; a Marine needs to place him or herself next to a demon to kill it outright when it is in low health which could place the Marine in a risky area, but is rewarded with bonus health and a random power through glory kill cards. Chuck in two campaigns with six missions each and custom variants for more experienced players and you have a game that gives good value for money and allows people to come up with their own scenarios if they wish.


Sadly, my playtime with the game did still feel like the Marines were the stronger team and therefore gameplay felt biased towards them, which is a shame as the game feels more competitive than typical dungeon crawl style games where the GM style player is normally weaker than the stronger hero characters. However, there are more abilities and strategies available to the Invader player that – once you get to grips with the role – can come up with some good kills and swarm the marine players.

This mild grumble aside, this game nails the feel of the videogame with fast and furious run and gun style action. Highly recommended if you are a fan of the franchise like myself, but still an enjoyable 4v1 action boardgame if you are not.

Blake Harmer is a regular contributor to The Crazy Train at The Gamescast at emotionally14.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @fucksakeblake, but there’s no real point in doing so.

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The bitch is back.


We’re all big fans of the Legendary line here at SuppFire, and the Alien game released back in 2014 is no exception – providing plenty of adventures, suspense and fun in the time since its release. The Predator game released in 2015 acted as a sort of expansion – although it offered more variations on ways to play, than totally new stuff.  This was understandable, of course. It was a stand-alone game with the option to be intergrated with Alien, not a true expansion. But now there is an expansion, and if you’re a fan of the original, it is 100% worth adding to your set.

Firstly – and possibly the biggest advantage to me – is the addition of extra characters to each of the four movies. The line-up was fine, but adding in Gorman, Kane and “85” to the playable character roster greatly increases the replayability of the game, as well as just giving some extra variation each time you play. The new characters synch in really well with the old cards, and those of you who like to explore ways of chaining characters and ability will have an absolute blast with the new combinations this opens up. 


Another nice feature is the chance for one player to play as the antagonist (much like the playable Mastermind introduced to Marvel in the Secret Wars set), taking on the role of the Alien Queen, with her own deck of cards to level up, and her own version of the Barracks and HQ to level up from. Be warned, though; this play mode is hard as nails for the Human players, and it’s not like the game was an especially easy one to begin with. It’s fun…but it is gruelling, too. 

Another really nice bonus is the addition of two brand new stories! That’s right, you get two movie length scenarios to play thorough, featuring all new challenges and monsters brand new to the Alien canon. This was such a boon for me, as I love seeing original stories unfold during a game, and the new “movies” really nail the feel of the 1990s Dark Horse comics that I read – nay, consumed – in my younger days. The only mild disappointment is that while there are new “avatars” to use with them, there were not new “characters”, meaning you have to battle through these new stories using pre-existing cards from the other movies. It’s an understandable compromise, as the game would have been conisiderably longer in production, more expensive, and physically larger to fill out these needs; but as a theme driven gamer, it does grate a little.


The physical components are all of the standard we’ve come to expect from Upper Deck. The card art is great, but their card quality is still so-so; you’ll need to sleeve all of them, or they’ll wear very quickly. The playmat and its artwork is nice, and the rules are clear, easy to understand and easy to reference.

If you own the base Alien Legendary Encounters game, and play it more than, say, once a year, then this is a 100% necessary purchase. Seriously. Buy it with your hands.

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, Emotionally14.com and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb.

I’m no stranger to Lovecraftian gaming. I started playing Call of Cthulhu almost as soon as I’d started reading any of his stuff. I play Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign and Mansions of Madness pretty regularly. Similarly, I’m a pretty big fan of the Lord of the Rings LCG from FFG. So, the promise of a game that could give me a mash up of the experiences that those two things give me? I’m on board for that. Could this be he game that finally fills the hole that Mythos left in my life all those years ago?  

Mythos is a game that sticks in my mind as it was pretty unique among CCGs at the time; being focused less on building up decks with which to crush your enemies with, and more one that was geared towards providing that narrative gaming experience that all of us at Suppressing Fire love so much. 

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a gaming experience that doesn’t quite gel with anything else that I’ve played before. While it’s ostensibly a card game at its core engine, it also brings in elements of role-playing, board gaming and even a choose-your-own-adventure game book. The game starts with you building your deck – which is incredibly easy at first, with the necessary fractions and quotas clearly broken down for each character. There are also Starter Decks for each investigator, so you don’t need to worry about getting bogged down into deck building if that’s not your thing – you can just dive straight in and start your adventure. 

Each scenario starts with a quick narrative description of what’s happening, and then you’re let loose. Much like last year’s second edition of Mansions of Madness, immersion is truly key here, and it actually feels as though you’re cast in a Lovecraftian mystery story, rather than just playing a card game. There are monsters to fight, mysteries to solve and houses and other locations to explore. It feels less like a solitaire card game and more like a really good “point and click” mystery game. Remember those? Good, because I loved them. 


The physical components of the game are pretty good…but they could have been better. I’m concerned that that the chits you’ll be regularly pulling out of a bag to manage your skill modifiers are going to wear pretty badly. Plastic or resin would have driven up the retail price, of course, but I think it would have been a better long term investment. The cards are pretty good quality – although not as good as FFG’s used to be. If you’re not a careful shuffler, then you’re going to want to invest in some decent cardsleeves. 

These minor quibbles about the components aside, there are HOURS of gameplay in just this core set. There’s several playable characters, and three scenarios, all of which can be linked into a full blown campaign system. In terms of playability and lifespan, the value for money is very high indeed; especially if you’re a Lovecraft nut like I am. Perfect for solo play, but the co-op provides a truly fun experience, too. 

Highly recommended. 

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, Emotionally14.com and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb.

The latest release for the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game comes in the form of the Heroes of the Resistance expansion pack. Focused on re-releasing both the T-70 X-Wing and the YT-1300 (better known as the Millennium Falcon) as they are represented in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is this pack a cynical cash grab, or something useful for the game that players both want and will use?

 

Physically, the pack comprises of two models, twenty-eight cards, and all the stands, tokens, dials and assorted gubbins that you will need to add these to your game. 

The models are of previously released ships, but they differ in some substantial ways. The T-70 X-Wing is completely repainted to represent Poe Dameron’s “Black One” fighter, as well as having a re-modelled astromech droid that supposedly looks more like BB-8. Whilst the paintwork is really great (even if droves of people had done their own re-paints, making us all feel a bit redundant) I’m not sure that that little plastic lump does look any more like BB-8. The Millennium Falcon, on the other hand, is a masterpiece. More than just a re-release of the earlier model with a new satellite dish, this has been completely re-sculpted, using 3D references straight from Lucasfilm, rather than just screen grabs from the movie and creative licence. This probably makes this model the most accurate in the entirety of X-Wing. It’s also the first model to feature engine glow as standard, and whilst it’s not perfect, it’s a lovely touch.

So, they look like much… but do they have it where it counts, kid?
In short, yes. Of the twenty-eight cards included in the pack, twenty-four of them are new and exclusive to this release, and some of them are priceless. I won’t break down every single card here, but I’ll offer up some highlights: 


Poe Dameron

A new version of an already released pilot, this card bumps Poe in his T-70 X-Wing up from Pilot Skill 8 to 9 (where he should always have been) at a cost of two additional points. Everything else, including his powerful pilot ability are the same, he just seems a bit better now. At 33 points, he isn’t cheap, 4 points more than his contemporary, Wedge Antilles, but he seems to be well worth it.


Nien Nunb

Formerly a Crew upgrade card, now a fully-fledged T-70 pilot, the PS7 Sullustan is an expert at flipping himself around the battlefield without receiving stress, with his pilot ability: “When you receive a stress token, if there is an enemy ship inside your firing arc at Range 1, you may discard that stress token.” Initially not the most powerful skill, people have been using him for all sorts of shenanigans since the pack was released.

Han Solo

Returning to fly his beloved YT-1300, the new Han pilot card represents his ability to slip past Starkiller Base’s defence shields. Costing the same points and having the same pilot skill as the original version, his new ability basically allows him to start the game almost anywhere on the battlefield, making him a dangerous wildcard if played correctly.


Chewbacca

Much like Han Solo, Chewie is back with the same pilot skill and point cost as before, but with a new ability that, again, represents his role in The Force Awakens, though this time with heart breaking accuracy: “When another friendly ship at Range 1-3 is destroyed (but has not fled the battlefield), you may perform an attack.” Oh, god, Uncle Chewie! Who equipped the “Crying like a child” upgrade card into my eyes!

Rey

The undisputed MVP of this expansion is Rey, flying the Falcon. If the PS 8 heroine has someone in her front arc, she can re-roll up to two blank results, when either attacking or defending. This combo’s up beautifully with:
Finn (Crew).


If you equip Finn in one of the Falcon’s two crew slots, he adds one blank result to the roll, if you are attacking, or defending from, an opponent within your firing arc. Pair this with Rey’s ability to re-roll those blanks, and you’ve got a hart-hitting beast of a ship that still manages to accurately portray the action from the movie.

Honourable Mentions:

Rey (Crew): She basically lets you save up Focus tokens and get them back later. Really useful crew that I keep coming back to. Feels like cheating.


Millennium Falcon (Title): New title allows you to basically use a “sloop” manoeuvre; recreating Rey’s flying in TFA, and making the Rey/Finn combo even more lethal.

Smuggling Compartment: For use on both the YT-1300 and the YT-2400 (my favourite ship), this upgrade allows you to utilise an Illicit upgrade, formerly exclusive to the Scum and Villainy faction.
So, is Heroes of the Resistance worth getting? Absolutely. The models are wonderful, the variety of upgrades and opportunities is almost in-exhaustive, and the fun to be had with the contents is boundless. Although this pack has given a very well needed boost to those, like me, playing with the Rebel/Resistance faction, there’s plenty of stuff in here to be utilised by every faction, unlike releases like the “Imperial Veterans”. 

My absolute favourite thing about this set is the love that has gone into it. Whilst it would be very easy to just make powerful cards that constantly win games, each character in this pack seems to represent the character that is portrayed on screen in The Force Awakens, and for me, playing “in universe” is very important. It’s why we all make laser noises when we play.

It’s True, All of It/10

As a bonus, here’s a 100 point squad I’ve been using, comprising mostly of the contents of this pack. It’s really fun, and it hits HARD.


Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work at Can’t Sleep, Must Paint.