Archive for the ‘Ancient’ Category


Runewars: The Miniatures Game is Final Fantasy Games’ newest big game system, and it is looking to be huge. Set in the Runebound universe, players fight for dominance on the battlefield, using sword and spear, magic and huge beasts to vanquish each other, and rule the fantasy realm of Terrinoth.

First things first, I know absolutely nothing about the Runebound Universe, and so this review is likely to miss a few marks and infuriate some die-hard fans. Sorry! Feel free to track me down and message me incorrect facts about things I like!

Runewars is an interesting hybrid of a game. Mixing troop-based ground combat with the Flight Path System used in games such as X-Wing, it presents itself as something familiar to fans of existing games, yet different enough to not feel like a simple re-skin. Much like games such as X-Wing and both variants of Attack Wing, this starter set contains enough for two starter forces, one of the noble Daqan Lords (read: generic high-fantasy humans) and the other re-animated forces of Waiqar the Undying (read: skeletons, monster worms and other gooey nasties), and all the miniatures, dice, tokens and assorted gubbins needed to addict you and and a friend to your newest set of plastic crack.


Opening up the hefty box, we are presented with three booklets and some cardboard sprues full of token style things. We immediately fling those to one side, because Holy Tolkien, this thing has some beautiful miniatures! On a quick look, there’s forty-six assorted soldiers and cavalry and things, and two huge monsters. All of them have some exquisite detail, and I am immediately drawn to something called a Rune Golem. It’s a big rock-like man-thing with tasty looking swords and the box art tells me that it has an internal blue glow, and it is very tempting to just stop this review right now and go paint it. No. I won’t. I’ll finish this first. I hope you understand how tough this is for me.

Unlike some other FFG titles, the models in this set come unpainted and need some assembly. 

The tokens are nicely designed, all in cardboard, as are the movement templates and range ruler. The dice are 8-sided, and contain some nice custom symbols.

Back to the three booklets, we have Learn to Play, Rules Reference and Lore Guide. I’m a big fan of this format, as it’s a really good way to get into the game. Learn to Play gives you the basics of the system, how to build a force, how to move, how to fight, and a simple one-on-one skirmish scenario. It introduces some more complex elements, but focuses on getting you to grips with how to play the game. The Rules Reference is a wonderful idea. I’ve seen it in other FFG releases, and it’s the closest thing to an “argument settler” that you’re going to get. What happens is my Rune Golem flanks your Archers? It’s in the book. What if I can’t work out how many dice to roll? That’s in the book too.The Lore Guide is pure chrome, and if the other books introduce you to the game, this introduces you to the world that that game exists in, and the factions at war within it.


I’m not going to dive too in-depth into the rules, that’s what the rulebook is for, but I’ll try to convey the general ideas. 

Each unit in your army has a double dial thingy that sets what that unit will be doing that round. It doesn’t define what direction the unit will be moving in, like X-Wing, but defines what type of action that unit will perform, such as moving, attacking and shooting. The second dial can modify the first, adding attack dice, bolstering defence and the like.

Movement uses movement templates almost exactly like every other game that uses the Flight Path system, to guide the position of your troops. The difference comes when one unit meets another. All the other versions are based in space or aerial combat, and the aim is not to bump into your opponent, but to line up clever shots and angles on them. This is not so in Runewars. You actually want to crash into your opponent, charging into their forces and attacking them head on, or even forcing a flanking attack, catching a unit unawares. This is the largest difference, to me, from Runewars‘ contemporaries, and it adds a small amount of complexity. Troops perform a function called “squaring up” where they literally form lines against each other, and this doesn’t use any kind of movement template, therefor allowing for exact positioning, and a freer range of movement on the battlefield.


As is standard, troops are bought with points, and given upgrades such as special weapons and character traits. This set contains plenty of such upgrades, and it doesn’t take long to spot some great and effective combos.

Again, I’m really breezing over the rules here as I don’t have a tonne of games under my belt, but it also includes effects such as Boons and Banes, which can help or hinder your troops, panic reactions, and varying levels of magic, that can ruin the best laid plans, or pull victory from a seemingly definite defeat.

In summary, Runewars seems to be a very in-depth, rewarding experience. In terms of complexity, it definitely ranks above X-Wing, in a similar area to D&D: Attack Wing or Star Wars: Armada. It’s not, by any means, a difficult game to learn, but keeping track of the various multipliers and game effects at once will take some diligence, and I doubt the rule book will be far from hand for quite a while. If this sounds like a negative, it really isn’t, it’s actually to the strength of the game; you won’t feel like there’s nothing left to master any time soon, and it will keep you coming back to try new tactics time and time again.

Realistically, the price tag may seem a little scary to fans of X-Wing and Star Trek: Attack Wing, but the contents are not comparable. Both space games contain three miniatures. Runewars contains many multi-part, multi-size characters screaming for customisation. Which is what I’m off to do right now.

Can I Fit LEDs in a Rune Golem?/10
Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work on Facebook and Instagram.

Omer Ibrahim digs in to the new Conan board game, to find out what is best in life, but discovers just how little he really knows about Conan the Barbarian.

Tak, Tested

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Ancient, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming

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Tak was, until recently, a fictional, abstract strategy game depicted in The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, the other series that fantasy fans are desperately willing the author to finish, someday…please.

Well now, while you wait for The Doors Of Stone you can sit down in a tavern with your friends and get to grips with a real world version with Tak, A Beautiful Game, produced by the author in collaboration with Cheapass Games. While the game was described loosely in the book, Rothfuss initially refused an offer to develop the game, believing that it wouldn’t be possible to recreate what was in his head, and also be actually fun to play. However, his mind was changed on being presented with the prototype of the game, which impressed him with it’s elegance and simplicity while still maintaining strategic depth.

Physical versions of the game (there are multiple variations, from a basic set of pieces up to a super fancy board and game box made of bloodwood,) are available from the Kickstarter, which is still open at time of writing, but an early version of the rules is available to download..

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My improvised Tak set: LEGO bricks for the regular pieces and Gandalf and The Balrog from a The Lord of the Rings boardgame as capstones.

Tak is the Kingkiller Chronicle equivalent of Chess, or Go, and has been developed with the intent to convey the same sense of history of being a traditional game, with optional and variant rules, and a distinct flavour to games, depending on who is playing (the decorum of court players vs the cut and thrust of tavern Tak). The fact that the rules are already freely available is a smart move by the designers, as they are now effectively common property, with many players crafting their own Tak sets, which has very quickly given the game some borrowed legitimacy, allowing it to stand alongside truly ancient games as if it really were just as old.

The game itself helps with that, too. The rules are simple, you’re placing or moving pieces (called stones) to try and make a road across the board, while blocking the other guy,a bit like noughts and crosses, though I prefer to compare it to Blockbusters.

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Bob Holness is my Spirit Animal.

But things start to really hot up the first time someone stacks his stone on top of another, as these stacks can then be moved, depositing stones across the board as they go in a move similar to one of those brilliant moments in draughts where somebody skips over multiple pieces. The addition of placing blocking pieces called walls, or the single, all-powerful capstone, makes for a game that is easy to learn, yet is possessed of massive depth.

This would be a great game to play with friends at a party, or take with you to a bar, particularly if you have to teach them all the rules, as when learning, games seem to go very quickly. Though as players become more experienced and confident they can hold each other in a tense deadlock for much longer periods.

The rules and a printable board for Tak are available here [http://cheapass.com/games/tak], and a selection of lavish physical products are available on the Kickstarter. [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheapassgames/tak-a-beautiful-game]


Article by Spike Direction.  You can follow Spike on Twitter @BigBeat1985.

$_35

We are an astonishing species. Over the past millennium of plagues and exploration, revolution and scientific discovery, woman’s rights and technological advances, human society has changed beyond recognition.  Sweeping through the last thousand years of human development, Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth is a treasure chest of the lunar leaps and lightbulb moments that, for better or worse, have sent humanity swerving down a path that no one could ever have predicted.

But which of the last ten centuries saw the greatest changes in human history?  History’s greatest tour guide, Ian Mortimer, knows what answer he would give. But what’s yours?

Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth is really engaging.  The entire concept for the book itself is – as you can see – a very interesting one.  I don’t know of any another book that has tackled a side-by-side comparison of different eras before; certainly on so grand a scale.

As you would expect, the medieval era is where this book really shines; hardly surprising considering that this is Mortimer’s speciality.  The sections on the twelth and thirteenth century, in particular, are worthy of mention.

There are a few glitches along the way.  The pacing feels very off, with Mortimer very obviously playing favourites with the eras that particularly  interest him.  Understandable?  Yes, but a little off-putting.  Overall, it seems to work, though, as the pace of the book overall is a gentle and easy, but highly educational, read.

The plates/photos are okay, but are actually totally unnecessary, not really adding anything to the experience.  There are too few of them to be able to offer any real relevance, and – for my money – the book would have been just as good without them.

All in all, this is a highly enjoyable light read, that offers a very unique take on things, and presents lots of thought provoking observations and stories along the way.  Highly recommended for Mortimer’s existing fans, and worth checking out for fans of Bill Bryson and Tim Moore.

51ds2Ey7G5L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_How to Plan a Crusade is A lively and compelling account of how the crusades really worked, and a revolutionary attempt to rethink how we understand the Middle Ages

The story of the wars and conquests initiated by the First Crusade and its successors is itself so compelling that most accounts move quickly from describing the Pope’s calls to arms to the battlefield. In this new book, Christopher Tyerman instead focuses on something obvious but overlooked: the massive, all-encompassing and hugely costly business of actually preparing for a crusade. The efforts of many thousands of men and women, who left their lands and families in Western Europe, and marched off to a highly uncertain future in the Holy Land and elsewhere have never been sufficiently discussed and analysed before.

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How to Plan a Crusade is a great, fun read; and it’s certainly refreshing to see The Crusades tackled from a rather unique perspective.  We’ve seen military and religious analysis before, but I don’t know that I’ve ever come across something that actually tackles the…the business…of running a Crusade before.  The logistics and finances take centre-stage here.  While that may sound tedious, in the execution it’s actually very engaging and entertaining.  Tyerman speaks passionately on the subject, and it’s his writing style that is the main part of what makes How to Plan a Crusade so entertaining, though.

I will, say, though, that this is not a great book to pick up if you’re a complete newbie when it comes to The Crusades.  A lot of prior knowledge is assumed, with dates and names fired off with no introduction or context.  If you’re already interested in The Crusades, then this is highly recommended – pick it up for a fresh perspective on an aspect that you may not even has considered before…but if you’re a complete novice, you may want to do some other reading first.

105800 It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly two years now since Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium was unleashed upon wargamers the world over.  Now, it’s back, significantly cheaper, and significantly lighter…yet still bursting with all – if not more – of the content that made its original release so awesome.

There are many great things about The Wargaming Compendium that make it an essential purchase, but one of the things to strike me upon reading it cover to cover for the first time is how useful it is no matter if this is the first thing you’ve ever read on wargaming, or if you’re an old hand who’s devoted his spare bedroom over to a 32mm recreation of The Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Within are tips and guides for choosing which era you want to fight in, how to prep and paint figures, how to build and lay-out terrain…pretty much everything you could need. Complete games/rulesets are supplied, as well as a pretty comprehensive directory of conventions, websites, magazines and publishers.  All periods of history are covered, from Ancients to Ultra-Modern, with a fair amount of discussion also given over to fantasy and sci-fi games. I cannot recommend this book enough.

No matter what your experience level, or what aspect of wargaming you are interested in, there is plenty in here to make it worth your while.  And now it’s lighter, as well. Bonus.

Buy it with your hands.  Again.

Joseph Crouch is back with more news on Total War: Attila, and this time he’s been playing with the Longbeards Culture Pack

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The Longbeards DLC has only proven to me that beards are the way to go if you want to decimate half of Europe.

I begin my new playthrough as the Langobards. They looked pretty cool, appearing slightly Viking-esque, a culture which I relished pitting against Atilla’s horde.

The playthrough begins with a short cutscene detailing the beleaguered nature of the Langobard’s plight. From what I gather, a tonne of infighting and cultural shifts fractured the culture and left the Langobards largely weakened. Cue the player, and the countdown to Atilla’s birth. The first “Mission” so to speak.

Prepare.

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Now, at the start of this game I spent a lot of time calling these dudes the LangoBeards, and I’m expending a lot of energy to refrain from calling them that, though I find the name endearing enough to get me quickly attached to the plight of “my people”.

I’m quickly informed by my favorite gruff advisor that whilst the LangoBeards don’t have much in the way of land, they make up for it by having the gift of the gab.  I’m then told that I should focus on building my ties with the neighboring Saxons, Franks, Gauls, Alamans, Thrungians and other European staples of the time, all this, before being told to crush the Vandals.

A few things worth noting are some of the units, in particular, my new favorites the “young wolves”; bare chested thugs who don a wolf’s hide and wield sword and shield, inspiring fear in other units and…in general look fucking cool. Seriously, I saw these guys and gasped like an excited child. Now I make sure I always have a couple of units in each of my army purely to see them charge the enemy. I was interested to use the clubmen in tandem with the Young Wolves as, in general, I really love the image of a charging bunch of guys wielding wooden clubs.  It’s silly, probably not for any obvious reason, it strikes me as quite Pythonesque.  I might be a bit damaged actually.

Naturally I erroneously go for the Vandals first without first properly looking into sweet talking some trade routes out of my brothers from other mothers. They’re positioned south-east of our position, just underneath my friends the Macromans.

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One thing I immediately notice is the appearance of a dialog box at the start of every couple of turns detailing a kind of “choose your own adventure” style sub-game. I don’t know if this is a standard narrative for all players, but I was given control over the actions of a little chappie called Y’bor. A few turns in and I’ve safely seen him off on an adventure, having to choose which parting gift to impart on him and later on choosing who to save in a confrontation. These little subplots in Y’bor’s journey go some way into assigning his skills as a general, albeit in a protracted way that’s tied to the narrative of your playthrough in a much more substantial way than the normal “go fight an army – yay you’ve leveled up”. I really enjoy the extra immersion this brings and feel like it’s the right direction for further entries to take.

Back on track, and I quickly learn the errors of my ways. A quick reload later saw me engaging in diplomacy like I should have done, and this time I didn’t meet an untimely end. This time, in a few short turns, I manage to get a good portion of like-minded provinces on side, establishing strong links to the north for trade and military alliances. This gives way into my subsequent conquest of Europe via words. For the next twenty turns I sweet talk everyone and ultimately declare war on the ever encroaching Western Romans.

My little, one province, two army LangoBeards done good. Done real good.

Currently, as of the 19th March, the Beards are working hard to stomp out the Western Romans to the east, whilst protecting the eastern provinces from the Hun. I’m now quite invested in my force of Beards and very eager to see what happens next on Y’bor’s adventures.

In general, the DLC isn’t just cosmetic, though I really enjoy that aspect to it, there’s also some welcome additions here, ones that I would like to see continued with in future DLC.

Total War: ATTILA is out now. For further information visit www.totalwar.com

Greek Fire

Posted: March 8, 2015 in Ancient

A Pleb Plays…Total War: Attila

Posted: February 27, 2015 in Ancient, Gaming

For Suppressing Fire’s first foray into video gaming, we turn our heads to the man of the moment, Joseph Crouch, and his experiences with the fearful hun…

Disclaimer: This review will run as an every-man’s recounting on what I like and dislike about the game. I operate on a mostly ignorant kilter, with regards to previous entries in the Total War franchise, and the history behind each scenario, as such, you’re going to get pure, unbridled pleb speak.   

My first experiences with Total War: Attila are happy ones; I eagerly start the prologue campaign as some incredibly dramatic music entreats me onwards, promising the same glory I had relished in previous entries.

Suddenly I’m acutely aware of how I faired whilst playing Total War: Rome II; the feeling of many crushing defeats, but the somewhat half-hearted victories. In the few days I had poured into Total War: Rome II, I had managed to unify my Iceni horde and march them across France to ultimately take Rome for themselves, through a combination of luck, reloading and half-arsed social manipulation.  I had managed to take Rome. I felt good. Powerful even.

If my first ten hours into Total War: Attila are anything to go by, this is a game of attrition. A game of being pushed to the very limit and feeling desperate. This makes for exciting stuff! The basic set up being that the Huns are these super Mongolian raiders with no time for anyone…(I mean it, I tried to trade with these bastards and one of them said that I was effectively forcing his just eaten meal back up.).

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In playing the prologue section of Total War: Attila you are treated to a well crafted “mini-campaign” that presents you with any given scenario that you might find yourself up against in the main theatre of war and allows you to get to grips with each of the systems in play (trade and finance, factions, edicts etc.).
You are placed in control of a small tribe of, what I am led to believe, are called Visigoths, quite literally on the verge of being annihilated by invading Ostrogoths and an unknown band of raiders – the Huns. My band of ‘Goths have one stronghold left and are forced to defend it with their lifes!
There’s a few things I’d like to point out within this first scenario:
Firstly, the graphics are…much improved, I wanted to veer away from this kind of praise, but it needs to be said. The settlements and buildings in general are a lot more convincing and go a long way into immersing you in the battlefield. Shacks have smoke billowing from atop, fences and other objects are destructible, and in general you get a sense that the tiny little ‘Goths you’re moving about have some form of impact on the world around them.
The sound design is something to be celebrated too, Based on my dealings with Total War: Rome 2, I had already come to terms with the effectiveness the mix has in immersing you into battle, this time around however, things have changed. The clang of metal against metal, the screams of a wavering troupe of pikemen and the thrum generated by a group of ‘Goths hashing it out over burning corpse ridden battlefields is palpable, well executed, rip roaring stuff.
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The main thing I’d like to get across is this:
I had “that moment”, y’know, where the penny finally drops and you’re like “god…this game is goo…GREAT…I can’t believe how fun this is”. It came during my first siege, after my ‘Goths managed to quell a slave uprising and finally amount some form of rag tag band of ravagers. I had encircled…some kind of big town…bitterly for four turns, until the time was right and I was effectively told to attack by a stroppy A.I. How proud I was when on the fifth reload, I had finally worked out how to use the siege engines effectively and brought fiery ‘Goth thunder down upon the foul Ostrogoths. (The tutorial definitely showed me how to do this, I don’t pay attention when I’m waiting to destroy Ostrogoths) Destroying their watchtowers with hurlers and routing their feeling forces with my cavalry made me feel fantastic, and eventually I had pushed them from outer walls, through the lowlands and shacks, right up to the inner sanctum, where a lone group of pikemen awaited a speedy death.
Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I feel like it’s mostly The Creative Assembly’s fault.

This game is fantastic and you would do well to see it as part of your steam library.

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Wrath of Sparta

Posted: December 16, 2014 in Ancient

Pitting the fabled city-states of Sparta, Athens, Corinth and the Boiotian League against one another in a thrilling recreation of the Peloponnesian Wars, Wrath of Sparta is a massive expansion that lets you define the very destiny of ancient Greece.

Will Sparta and its allies martial their formidable military might to dominate Greece? Or will stately Athens retain its stranglehold on Greek politics, and assure victory with its unsurpassed navies? The dominant state must prepare for an escalating challenge, as the Persian Empire watches matters unfold, and drills its armies in readiness for a challenger to rise.

In addition, all-new technology trees representing Greek cultural disciplines such as mathematics and philosophy combine with a focus on Greek religious festivals and athletic events to bring the classical age to life. Wrath of Sparta is ROME II’s most flavourful campaign yet.

Available now, priced at £9.99 / $14.99 / €14.99