Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

I would like to be upfront from the start: I am not the biggest fan of Mantic games. Their multi-part plastic miniatures are durable, but fairly basic, and playing Kings of War felt like a more simplistic Warhammer. So far not good, and as first impressions last, I have not had any call to go back to check out any of their other products. So, then, they go and get the I.P. for the comics version of The Walking Dead. One of the best comic series of all time, loved by millions, it takes a brave move to attempt to bring it to the tabletop. Can they put out a decent game, as well as keping fans on side?

The short answer is: Abso-bloody-lutely!

Mantic have kept the rules simple, a basic skirmish level game with the now-obligatory custom dice, card events, and A.I. walkers to enable both solo and multi-player games. The starter box comes with everything you need to get going. A 20″ square coated paper gaming mat, eighteen miniatures, eleven dice, over forty cards, ten flat card scenery counters, a custom range ruler, thirty counters/tokens, kill zone marker and threat tracker. The miniatures are all single piece, so the only assembly required is the pointer in the threat tracker. Box to table time is about five minutes!


Once you’re there, what joys await you? There are actually two rulebooks in the set, the main book and the “Read Me First” quick-start rules. These start with a basic version of the game, and over two scenarios add new concepts and rules to bring beginners up to speed: perfect for the comics fan making his first foray into the tabletop world. Your hardened gamer will want to head straight for the main book, however. You will find four clearly defined phases (Action, Event, Melee, End), underpinned by two key concepts: Noise, and Threat. It is well worth taking the time to get your head round these, as they will colour everything you do in the game. 

In a similar way to Zombicide, noise is what drives the walking dead to move around the table and attack the living. There are two levels, NOISE, and MAYHEM. NOISE is caused by running, the “Make NOISE” action, or the “Scream!” action on the panic dice (more on this later), and will attract the nearest walker within 10″. MAYHEM is usually caused by gunfire, and will attract ALL walkers within 10″! There are ways to avoid the noise, by sneaking for example, but in a deviously simple twist of the rules, walkers start with their bases touching the scattered supply counters (your basic objectives), which prevents you from picking them up! Therefore choosing when and where to make noise becomes critical, requiring a balance between getting the supplies before your opponent and not getting swamped by the living dead.


Threat represents the mounting tension and danger as the game progresses, and works as a game mechanic driver and a timer. The threat tracker is numbered from 1 to 18, and divided up into four sections: All Quiet (1-3); Low(4-8);Medium (9-13); and High (14-18). As the game goes on, the threat level will rise quickly (sometimes alarmingly so!), and if it reaches 18, the game ends. In the meantime, if the level goes above one of your Survivor’s “Nerve” score, they panic, and can only be activated via the use of the Panic Dice. This is a six-sider with 5 available results, from a straight run away or quiet action only, to screaming like a schoolboy or going bananas and attacking the nearest walker with the strength of a madman! Threat level can go down as well as up, but this is pretty rare, and only brought about by a concious decision to calm everything down.

Setup is very straight forward and scenario based. There is only one scenario in the main book:-choose survivors, place scenery, place supplies, place walkers, go! Choosing survivors proves to be the only slightly confusing part of the process. Each character card has slots surrounding it to represent the amount of equipment they can carry and where, but the starter set is fairly limited and the only instruction is to play to a points value. The points values only seem to even out in one particular configuration with the cards available, and with only one of each weapon in the box this could seriously limit replay value. However, this is a starter set, so until you have some expansions just try not to get into an argument over who gets what! The number of walkers on the board at the start of the game is based on the points value of the survivor teams, so this can easily scale up or down as required.


The turn sequence feels slightly jarring at first to a seasoned tabletop skirmish player. The Action phase handles survivor movement and shooting, as well as hiding, searching, trading items, or making game specific actions (Make NOISE, Hold Your Nerve, Special Action). but not hand-to-hand combat. The separate Melee phase handles this, and after a couple of turns it becomes obvious that this is a big part of the mechanic that drives the game. Once the survivors have had their turn (two actions each, but must be two different actions), the Event phase determines if you have been unfortunate enough to get too close to the dead. A handy Kill Zone template is placed over each walker in turn, and if a survivor is within the template radius it will lunge into close combat. This phase ends with the drawing of an event card which may have different results depending on the current threat level. Once this has been dealt with, it’s on to Melee. This is probably the most complicated part of the system, but again, after a couple of turns it seems to work itself out. The melee itself is easy, but working out who fights who, whether to attack or defend, and the order of combat is a bit fiddly at first. 

All combat, ranged and close, is handled with the custom dice, with different colours having differing strengths. Character and equipment cards will give you your dice pool, with the same colours being used for attack or defence, with a straight roll-off to determine the winner. The difference in the number of successes gives the amount of damage taken by survivors, but walkers only have one point of damage and are immediately knocked down… only to get back up again in subsequent turns! This can only be stopped by head shots. Some of the dice faces have an exclamation mark on them to denote headshots. One of these lets you take out a walker, as long as you cause damage. Against survivors, they do extra damage, and if you kill a chartacter with one they won’t be re-animating any time soon. Oh yes, if a survivor is killed but not “dealt with”, they will be returning as a fresh walking corpse to attack the living! If a walker scores a headshot the character has been bitten, and the resulting infection speeds him or her to their early (but temporary) grave. 


As mentioned before, all walker movement is reactionary. The rules are fairly simple on this, it all comes down to “eligible” walkers, those not prone or touching a character’s base at the point when they are activated. The dead will only respond to action on the table or cards in the event phase, but this means they can actually move at any time, not just in the action phase. Too much noise in the melee phase therefore can lead to more and more walkers swamping your characters, which can be very bad news when you can only declare one attack per phase (all other combats will be defensive), and walker dice ramp up exponentially for each additional corpse in the fray! 

Most of the other happenings in the game are determined by a throw of the black Action Dice. 3 blank faces and 3 badge icons give you a 50-50 chance (effectively a D2 or coin-flip) on anything you want to do that’s not covered by the rules, plus a few of the basic actions. While it does feel a bit simplistic, there’s no denying it makes decision making easier, and keeps the game moving on at a rapid rate.


Overall, this game wins for me on both fronts. The very basic gameplay keeps it fun, but the rapidly rising threat and brilliantly simple walker mechanic keep the tension high at all times. No character is too powerful, even the important ones. In my first game, Rick Grimes died in turn three, only to re-animate and proceed to chase Carl around the map until the last turn ticked over. Thus ruining The Walking Dead continuity forever… What appears at first to be a simplistic turn sequence is actually quite cleverly designed to create the feel of the Walking Dead comics, with a lingering threat hanging over everything, and a corpse ready to reach out and bite you at any time. The comic art is used throughout, unsurprisingly, with everything from cards to miniatures adding to the theme, and for me the figures are one of the biggest selling points. Single piece, hard styrene, excellent sculpts, with hardly any flash marks or cleaning up required. These are some of the best tabletop miniatures I’ve ever seen in a game, better than (yes, I’m saying it) Imperial Assault, my previous benchmark. The sculpts have been bulked up a little to allow for extra detail, but this just adds to the comic style, and (I’m hoping) their paintablility!


The first expansion set is the scenery booster which basically gives you hard plastic replacements for all of the card scenery and supply counters in the box. I would happily use these in any post apocalypse/modern game settings, and for twenty quid I would recommend that anyone who plays in these settings gets a set. They are an absolute bargain that will enhance any battlefield, with the same crisp lines and hard-shell construction that make the miniatures stand out. 


There are a couple of niggles. The dice do look a bit shabby, not quite cheap-and-nasty, but enough to detract from the overall quality of the game. It could be a deliberate attempt to get that overall world-falling-apart feel, but I doubt it. Disappointing given the overall high standard of the rest of the box, and ends up looking like corner-cutting. Similarly, the paper map is a bit basic. Nice print, but would it kill you to make it double sided for a bit of variety? Ultimately this is a tabletop game, so you can create your own battlefield, and scale it up as large as you like, but for beginners I would want a little more. Maybe you can just pull out that old Mars Attacks! map for a bit of size/visual variation…


This is a core set, and expansions are heading out thick and fast. For fans of The Walking Dead Comics, or even the TV show (spoiler alert: Daryl Dixon does not exist in the comic world…) this is a great bit of kit, well worth a little investment, and for gamers who are not yet quite sick of all the living dead games on the market this has simple and interesting mechanics, and enough replayability to nudge onto your table on a semi-regular basis. But you will want to pick up some expansions to keep it that way, and to collect all your favourite characters. But make sure you save those Mantic points up.

Seriously, Michonne and Abraham only available as collect-and-exchange bonus packs? A bit naughty if you ask me!


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Dave “Not Using The Z-Word Today” Mustill


Brad Harmer-Barnes, Ian Harmer and Ömer Ibrahim inbox, review and discuss the latest Fast Forces set for TMNT Heroclix!

Half support vessel, half big guns, Phoenix Home has arrived in Star Wars: Armada. Another vessel first featured in Star Wars: Rebels, the Phoenix Home can be played one of two ways, both of which are equally valid, depending on your battle plans, and your personal playing style. 


The miniature itself isn’t too bad, but doesn’t look quite dirty enough for the “lived in” feel of the Star Wars universe. In Star Wars things are grubby, or worn, rather than hoovered and shiny like Star Trek. Perhaps it’s a symptom of being based on a cartoon ship, but Phoenix Home looks a little too much like a child’s toy, and not enough like a wargaming miniature…


…yes, I know that, but this just looks a little too much on the toy end of things. 

The two base load outs for the Pelta-class ship (that’s what the Phoenix Home is) are surprisingly diverse. For the main part ships in Star Wars: Armada either come as “the ship you want to use” or “the slightly shitter version of the ship you want to use, but, hey, it’s ten points cheaper”. Here, however, with only a four point difference, what you actually get are different styles of ship. The Assault Ship load out is…well, not exact an über heavy hitter, but it packs a reasonable amount of punch. 

The Command Ship load out, by contrast, forgoes firepower in favour of an increased Squadron statistic. So, with this in the thick of it, a good chunk of your Squadrons will become much more powerful. I love that Star Wars: Armada is focusing more on injecting some theme and narrative into a tabletop war game. It’s what the game was lacking at the start, and it’s much better for its inclusion. 

And, of course, there’s all the juicy upgrades that are so fun to tinker with. Fans of Rebels and The Clone Wars will be pleased to see Ahsoka Tano make her Armada debut. Her ability – to essentially switch one Command Token for another – isn’t particularly impressive, but at two points, it’s fun to add her to your force. “Shields to Maximum!” is a useful ploy to give your ships some shields back. The main drive, though, is on Fighter combat, with “All fighters, follow me!”, “Rapid Launch Bays” and “Fighter Coordination Team” offering some serious buffs to Squadrons. 

This is a great support vehicle for Rebel players, but looking forward, the buffs that it offers to narrative play and squadron heavy players is a welcome progression. 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


When comes to Star Wars: Armada, the massive dreadnoughts may be both the eye candy and the focus of play, but – much like the battles in the movies themselves, it’s the smaller, single-man fighters that can make the difference between victory and defeat. We’ve had all the usual suspects released in previous waves, so are these two new packs capable of offering something more, or is it time to get the barrel scrapers out?

The Rebel Fighter pack is led by the star of Star Wars: Rebels…the Ghost. Hera is the named pilot you get included, and she packs some pretty heavy guns, as well as a couple of extremely versatile abilities. Firstly, she has Rogue which allows the Ghost to move and attack during the squadron phase; but the Grit ability also allows the Ghost to move if it’s only engaged by a single squadron. The Ghost is built for big, heroic plays, which is exactly what you want to be ding with it. The cheaper version – the VCX-100 Freighter lacks the decent firepower of the Ghost, but it does have some nice…if more strategic and less combative abilities. 


Another vessel featured in Star Wars: Rebels is Ketsu Onyo in the Shadow Caster. Lacking the firepower of the Ghost, but featuring a few extra abilities, including the aforementioned Grit and Rogue, as well a being a Bomber. The cheaper version – the Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft is nice enough, but is just a Tesco Value Shadow Caster

The last ships included are the Z-95 Headhunters. Some people love Z-95s, but to me they’re just a cheaper, shoddier version of the X-Wing, and their debut in Star Wars: Armada has done little to change that opinion. At 7 points a squadron, you could use them to burn up some leftover points during squad building, but that’s about it. The only point of interest is that they possess the Swarm ability, which was previously only used by TIE Fighters and their ilk. How useful this ability will be to you depends on your playing style, but it could come in handy. 


The Imperial set similarly brings three new types of vehicle to Star Wars: Armada. The TIE Phantom originally appeared in the video game Star Wars: Rebel Assault II (nope, me neither) but has since develed a following among players of Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: X-Wing. These possess the Cloak ability, which allows them to get in a bonus move at the end of the squadron phase, even if engaged. They also carry a decent amount of firepower; both anti-ship and anti-squadron. 

Another X-Wing favourite, the Lambda shuttle, is also now available. While far from a combative vessel, its use as an ECM plane role – which never really works in the scale X-Wing operates at, is considerably better handled here, allowing orders from ships to squadrons to be sent further and more efficiently than previously. 

Last but not least, and another X-Wing bad boy, the VT-49 Decimator has arrived, and it brings a serious shotgun blast of close range damage to the table. With the a heavy weapons at its disposal and the Rogue ability, this has the potential to be a serious Squadron destroyer – especially if they’re full of cheap and nasty Z-95s. 

While both of these sets are not as strong as the squadron releases we’ve seen in previous waves, they’re still definitely worth picking up. The Ghost and the Decimator are great fighters for more aggressive players, and the others definitely add flavour, if nothing else. Armada just keeps getting better and better. 

The Rebel Flighter Squardons II and Imperial Fighter Squadrons II packs are available now. A base set of Star Wars: Armada is required to use the contents. 

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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


To celebrate the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, FFG released two new ships for X-Wing: The TIE Striker for the Imperial Faction, and for the Rebellion, the U-Wing. Being a predominantly Rebel player, let’s dive into the U-Wing!

As usual, the first thing I do is look at the physical model, and I’m glad to say that it meets the usual X-Wing standard. Like only a few releases before it, it has moving parts. The wings go from the forward “landing” position to the rear “attack” position in a very satisfying way, physically representing an in-game mechanic, as well as just looking really cool. The detail is as crisp as always, and the paintwork is nice, featuring the standard Rebel “used future” wear and tear. My only quibble is that it is a large-base ship, no longer than the K-Wing on its small base, and so looks a little diminutive on the table, but that’s really more of a game mechanic problem than a modelling one.

I’ve yet to see the ship itself make a massive mark on the game, but there’s plenty of promise in it. The expansion features four pilots, three of them unique, as well as fourteen upgrade cards, nine of them new as of this release. It boasts 3 Attack Dice, 1 Agility, 4 Hull and 4 Shields, and can take both the Focus and Target Lock actions. The dial is fair, with a nice range of motion. It cannot flip and turn around, but it can do a “0” manoeuvre, essentially not going anywhere for a round.
The highest skilled pilot is Cassian Andor, the only U-Wing pilot capable of taking Elite Pilot Talent upgrades, a 27 point, Pilot Skill 6 unique character. His special ability allows him to remove a stress token from any friendly ship, other than himself, at Range 1, at the start of the activation phase, making him a useful support in the current meta of ships handing out stress tokens.

Two other names pilots, Bodhi Rook and Heff Tobber are also included. Bodhi basically frees up the range that your squad can take target locks, by allowing them to use each other to lock on, meaning that you are not limited by only locking on to a ship close to you.

Heff is a blocking pilot, with his low pilot skill, he wants enemy ships to bump into him, and after stopping them taking an action, he gets a free action himself, allowing him to get multiple actions per turn if you put him in the right place. Give him something like Engine Upgrade, and when a ship bumps into him, he can then boost away from them, waiting for the next ship to touch him. That will cause chaos against swarm players.

More of the cast of Rogue One show up in the form of Crew Upgrade cards. I won’t do a detailed break down of each one, but as a quick list:

Jyn Erso can collate multiple Focus tokens if multiple enemies are bearing down on her.

Cassian Andor can take a sneaky look at your opponent’s dial, and change plan accordingly.

Baze Malbus allows you to shoot at another target, if you miss your first.

Bistan lets you turn hits into critical hits.

Bodhi Rook has the same ability as his pilot card, allowing you to target lock all over the place.

Another upgrade of note is “Pivot Wing”, a free dual title card for the U-Wing that represents its mobile S-Foils. In “Landing” mode you can, after performing a 0 “stop” move, rotate the ship 180 degrees, essentially creating the tightest turn in the game. On the other hand, in “Attack” mode, you increase your agility by one, bringing its attack and defence level with something like an X-Wing. After moving, you may flip this card, so planning for the next round is essential. 

And then there’s “Expertise”. Expertise is a 4 point Elite Pilot Talent upgrade, and it has made a huge impact on the game, both in its effectiveness, and in the fact that people are planning whole ships and lists to counter it. It’s beauty is in its simplicity: As long as you are not stressed, when attacking, you may change all of your eyeball results to hits. That’s it, and in the right hands it’s brutal. If you read my review of Heroes of the Resistance you’ll have seen my list for Rey flying the Falcon. That list was getting me to between 10th and 8th in tournaments. I dropped Expertise on Rey, and instantly came 4th. The only lists that beat me were ones specifically built to counter how my list works. And you get two of these cards in the box!

Expertise aside, the U-Wing is a great little expansion, even if not a complete “must have”, even for Rebel players. It doesn’t capture the ship or the characters quite as lovingly as the aforementioned Heroes of the Resistance, but isn’t exactly inaccurate either. If you liked Rogue One, particularly the awesome space battle at the end, you’ll love moving this ship’s wings and doing K-2SO quotes.

Rebellions are built on Expertise/10

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


When the Scum and Villainy faction was announced for X-Wing, it announced the first time that ships crossed into different factions. The Rebel Y-Wing, Z-95 Headhunter and HWK-290 and the Imperial Firespray-31could now be played in the new faction as well as their original factions. Since then, no ships have crossed over…until now. With the release of Sabine’s TIE Fighter, an Imperial ship is available to the Rebel Alliance. 

Slight spoiler warning for those not up to speed with the Star Wars: Rebels series, some of the cards in here reveal some characters that turn up, so tread carefully from here on in.

The model is, as far as I can tell, the same TIE Fighter that was released way back in the first Core Set and Wave 1, but with Sabine’s cool yellow paint scheme.

Stats-wise it is, again, a standard TIE Fighter, with 2 attack, 3 defence, 3 hull and no shields. It is able to take Focus, Barrel Roll and Evade actions, just like the Imperial version.


Four pilots are included in the expansion, all of them Unique, meaning that the Rebels can field not more than 4 TIE Fighters.

The highest costed pilot is the one-time apprentice of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano. Costing 17 points and having a pilot skill of 7, her interesting ability allows her, or a friendly ship at range one, to take an action at the start of the combat phase, at the cost of a Focus Token.

At 15 points, Sabine herself pilots a 15 point fighter with the same pilot skill and ability as her previous release, PS5 and able to take a Boost or Barrel Roll before taking a manoeuvre. 

The clone Captain Rex pops up for 14 points at PS4, and is the first Rebel to use the new “Condition” abilities. Basically speaking, after Captain Rex attacks someone, if that pilot attacks someone that isn’t Rex, they lose one attack dice. As long as Rex keeps attacking, this can stick around, so it could be a tricky card to use, but nasty if you get the hang of it.


Lastly, “Zeb” Orrelios has the cheapest TIE at 13 points, at PS3 and using the same ability to cancel Critical Hits before Hits as he had in the Ghost expansion. 

Five upgrades are included, four of them new, and each of those are Unique.


“Sabine’s Masterpiece” is a Rebel only title card that allows the ship to take Illicit and Crew upgrades, vastly changing how TIE Fighters behave.

Captain Rex also appears as a Crew card, and with him equipped, if you miss your target you can assign yourself a Focus Token.

“Captured TIE” is another Rebel only card, a Modification that means that until you make an attack, pilots with a lower skill than you cannot target you.

Finally, EMP Device is an Illicit Upgrade that can be used to support the Captured TIE Mod. Instead of performing an attack, you can instead choose to discard the card to deal 2 Ion Tokens to every ship at Range 1. This isn’t an attack, so enemy ships still can’t target you, but you’re going to receive Ion Tokens too, being at Range 1 of yourself.

Cynics may see this as a cheap re-paint of an already released expansion, but I think there’s enough in here to have some real fun with. It’s too soon to see if it’ll have any great effect on the game as a whole, but I expect to see a lot of this ship playing support to bigger ships. I myself cannot wait to fly this with my Ghost and Phantom.

Grand Theft Autoblaster/10

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

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.

Most people consider 2016 to have been a pretty crappy year.  Whether it’s global politics not heading in the direction you would like, the deaths of many beloved celebrities, or that thing with the gorilla, it’s not been the best year ever.

What is has been, though, is a really strong year for tabletop gaming.  So, with that in mind, here are the best games to have come out in 2016.

BEST PRODUCTION VALUES

Mansions of Madness

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There have been some really great miniatures released this year – Zombicide: Black Plague has some amazing figures, cards, and miscellaneous play aids.  There has been some truly stellar artwork on cards (the Lord of the Rings: LCG artwork is always incredible). Mansions of Madness takes it this year, however, due to not only having incredible artwork on its box, in its rulebooks and on its cards, but due to the AI app (about which plenty has been written elsewhere, so there is no need to repeat it here) it also has its own sound effects, narration and music.

Truly staggering, beautiful and horrific, and easily the most immersive game released this year.

BEST CO-OP/SOLO GAME

Mansions of Madness

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Co-op games are easily my favourite types of game, and account for the vast majority of my collection. Marvel Legendary saw three expansions released this year – Civil War, Deadpool and Captain America – and they were all super fun, with the Deadpool pack being head and shoulders above the others. Zombicide: Black Plague was a fun, hack and slash co-op. Hostage Negotiator is one of the greatest solo experiences ever made.  However, this year it has to go to Mansions of Madness.  The AI acts as a GM, regulating hidden information, moving the bad guys, and keeping you guessing in ways that it is simply impossible for a traditional tabletop AI to do so.  Mansions of Madness is not just the best co-op/solo game of the year, it represents a huge leap forward for solo and co-op gaming as a sub-genre.

BEST FANTASY RELEASE

Zombicide: Black Plague

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There are two types of game that have to be extra special to make me sit up and pay attention – purely because they’re both ridiculously oversaturated markets – and that’s zombie games, and dungeon crawls.  Previously, I was struggling to find a better zombie game than Zombie Plague, and struggling to find a better dungeon crawl than Castle Ravenloft.  What Zombicide: Black Plague has managed to do is to create an identity all of its own by merging elements of both subgenres into an Army of Darkness-esque action romp.  Highly recommended.

BEST SCIENCE-FICTION RELEASE

Star Wars: Rebellion

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Star Wars: Rebellion may look like one of those facelift Risk variants that Hasbro craps out every Christmas, but what it actually is is a wargame custom made and built to feel like Star Wars.  Sure there are Star Destroyers, and ground troops, and territories, but it is a game about the smaller people who make the stories happen.  By keeping all the strategy of the mechanics focused on correctly using your handful of characters, it keeps the whole game character focused.  At no point does it feel like “I’m amassing by Star Destroyers over Nal Hutta”; it feels like “Governor Tarkin is taking command of the blockade over Nal Hutta.”.  You make a story as you play, and that is something I love so much.  Fantasy Flight Games have done nothing but truly great things with the Star Wars licence, but this is their crowing achievement so far.

BEST HORROR RELEASE

Mansions of Madness

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I’ve long maintained that while a boardgame can do tense, it’s virtually impossible for it to be truly scary – that’s the realm of RPGs, LARPs and video games.  You can’t quiet buy into the story on the same level that you can with those other mediums.  Even Space Hulk – the pinnacle of tension on the tabletop – is never truly scary in the way the true classics of the genre are. Mansions of Madness has bucked that trend.  Now things are hidden.  Things are surprising and startling.  You fear darkness.  You fear the unknown.  Mansions of Madness is an essential purchase for the dedicated horror gamer.


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

Joe and Ian duke it out in this latest episode of Brick Fury! 

Ian Harmer, Brad Harmer-Barnes and Ömer Ibrahim review the new TMNT Fast Forces set for Heroclix!