Poking The Lion

Lion Johnson KS Banner

Games Workshop is famous for their efforts in protecting their intellectual property. My favourite is still their stance on ‘owning’ the term Space Marine, despite evidence of the name being in common use many years before Warhammer 40K. With this belief, Games Workshop lodged a trademark infringement complaint with Amazon about a series of books by M.C.A. Hogarth about ‘Spots the Space Marine’. Amazon complied with the complaint and pulled the series. Public outcry on the bullying tactics of Games Workshop got Amazon to reinstate the series, but in a lot of ways, Games Workshop won. There was tremendous publicity about Space Marines, and the formal message sent that Space Marines where their property and they have expensive lawyers.

So with this little bit of background, today’s little bit of interest is about a Kickstarter project. This one is for a single miniature (well, if 95mm is still a miniature?) for Leon Johnson, The Patriarch.  It’s a nice sculpt to be sure, not one I will probably back, but one I will probably keep an eye on. I will be keeping an eye on it for the Games Workshop response. I can’t see anywhere on the Kickstarter project ‘approved by Games Workshop’ or the like, and this is important.

Lion Johnson KS Banner

The Patriarch model is an obvious reference to the Warhammer 40K figure and Dark Angels Primarch (genetic founder) Lion El’Jonson.  According to the Games Workshop Intellectual Property Policy and while I am not a lawyer, this project seems to come dangerously close to hitting a few of these rules. The miniature isn’t intended for tabletop combat at the scale of it, but it is intended as a collector’s piece and for commercial gain.

The guidelines do state that your works should be clearly marked as unofficial, but the slight renaming from Lion to Leon (which is still just French for Lion) and obvious backstory parallels seem to be inviting trouble from the Games Workshop legal department.

While I wish Txarli Factory well and the project is already funded, after seeing Games Workshop go hard for less in the past, it will be interesting to see their response if any. Games Workshop has worked hard in recent years to improve their public image, and with a lot of new projects coming to light both in-house and in partnership with WizKids, this could be an interesting gauge to see how much the company has changed.

Shogun and Fresco are getting another Big Box run!

Queen Games Shogun and Fresco

Take over an empire, or complete a painting. The choice is yours.

So there is about a week to go on a different Kickstarter from Queen Games. Two of their most popular titles are getting a new Big Box limited print run – Shogun and Fresco.

Shogun keeps confusing me because it’s a game I used to play years ago but it isn’t the same game everyone keeps talking about. My Shogun was the last of the Hasbro Gamemasters series and is now known more as Ikusa. This Shogun is based on Wallenstein, and while by all accounts a great game, I haven’t had the chance to play it.

Shogun Box
Shogun Board and Clans

The one I have played though is Fresco, an amazing worker placement game where you are all painters trying to restore a Fresco for a church. It doesn’t sound fun, but Fresco is a surprisingly deep game with many choices and paths available to players to complete their goals.

Fresco Box
Fresco Board

The Big Box format is basically what you would call a Game of the Year edition in Video Games. Each Big Box comes with all expansions for the respective game in one box. Fresco comes with ten modules over three expansion releases that can be added to the base game individually or all at once for a crazy time. I cannot speak for Shogun, but the game is so popular that if you have ever been interested in either game, this is a great time to grab a copy.

This print run also includes various art and component upgrades, making the offer even more tempting. Shogun especially turns 452 cubes and tiles into custom wooden components, so we aren’t talking a minor upgrade here.

Shogun Component Upgrades

There is also the chance to grab the Kingdom Builder Second Edition Big Box, so the opportunity to grab a fantastic triple pack is amazing!

Looking at the project, Queen Games seems to be giving fans of the games the last chance to get a copy, and the upgrade in art and components could be a thank you or a test of things to come. If you look at the Queen Games site, neither Shogun or Fresco appear in their catalogue, so I don’t think they are pushing to bring back these titles overall, but this is a nice test of the waters maybe?

But if you ever had any interest in either of these games, this is the perfect opportunity to get everything in its entirety. I know I am getting Fresco just for this reason, and seriously considering Shogun as well.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Pacific Rim: Extinction is live on Kickstarter

Pacific Rim Extinction Promo

Will beauty be enough?

Pacific Rim falls squarely in the mindless pleasure category for me.  It’s beautiful to watch, fun to watch along with, and a surprising amount of lore if you’re interested.  Guillermo del Toro seem to have a knack for these kinds of films, and the imminent release of Pacific Rim: Uprising has fans excited.  It’s this excitement that I think the skirmish game Pacific Rim: Extinction is looking to tap into.

Normally I would be giving a little insight into why I am excited or interested in a project.  Instead, Pacific Rim: Extinction is a great example of Kickstarters I am very wary of, turning this into a case study of caution.  Just to be clear I am not trying to warn anyone against backing the project.   I am just pointing out the things that make me hesitant to back the project myself.

First off the good points – THOSE MINIS.  No one can say this isn’t going to be a beautiful experience.  Not only do the miniatures come pre-painted, but they stand more than double the normal height of most skirmish minis.

Pacific Rim Extinction Gipsey Avenger Scale

Visually they all look amazing, and at the end of the article, I have a gallery of all the add-on miniatures for your viewing pleasure as well.

Then we get into the card art.  They do remind me of the screens and outputs of the films, so thematically they seem to fit and again the illustrations are great.

Pacific Rim Extinction Player Board

On the Kickstarter page itself is a section for Videos including an interview with River Horse on Pacific Rim: Extinction.  Everything looks on the up and up.

That’s the hype working overtime, and everything looks great and I want to buy all of the things.  But where is the video on the actual gameplay itself?  The project mentions that the rules and all are complete and playtested for the best turnaround time.  So where are the rules?  What is the actual game I am being asked to invest in?

Without seeing actual gameplay or at least the ruleset, we are being asked to invest a not insignificant amount of money on shiny.  And it is great shiny!  I would be tempted to buy the game simply to set up a diorama of a Jaeger battle in my house.  Without being given any information on the game proper, this is a classic example of a gamble Kickstarter project.

There is also the legalise at the bottom of the project that gives me pause.  The Risks and Challenges sections at the bottom of most Kickstarters are good, but including a Terms and Conditions (especially this wording) seems very heavy handed.  Screen capture of the Terms and Conditions are here:

Pacific Rim Extinction TandC

The first paragraph is the most concerning to me.  Prototypes are prototypes, and Kickstarter regulars are used to rules revisions and refinements after a campaign changes.  But when the only true information being given is a visual representation of the miniatures, this almost says ‘custom painted miniatures displayed, yours will look different and probably worse because you have to agree to it’.

Now I don’t expect the final included play pieces to look like the ones included – you put your best pieces on display to show off your product.  I would expect a lower level of detail on the paint job in the final product, but I have backed a lot of Kickstarters and have experience in manufacturing as well.  This legal speak could be at the insistence of the Legendary Films Legal Department, but it still doesn’t feel right to me.

Without showing even the prototypes and rules in a ‘real game’ environment, this starts to come across as a product that the people involved don’t have full belief or support in.

Now this will probably be confusing, as yesterday I literally posted “I know nothing of this game, but I’m excited!”.  There is a big difference though.   I am not being asked to hand over up to £65 plus shipping on a promise that something good will be created – I just need to wait and see.  Unless something happens at the last minute, Magic: The Gathering: Heroes of Dominaria will be published.  If you don’t think WizKids will pull a game, try to find news on Blade Runner 2049: Nexus Protocol to see what I mean.

Pacific Rim: Extinction has met its funding goal, so really I just need to wait and see.  I understand that no Kickstarter benefits and possible availability issues are the cost of waiting, but at the moment it also puts me approximately AUD$350 better off if it’s a so-so game.

Check out the Pacific Rim: Extinction Kickstarter page, and see what you think of the project overall.  I would love to hear how you look at the project overall.

Pacific Rim Extinction Gipsey Avenger Alternate
Pacific Rim Extinction Obsidian Fury
Pacific Rim Extinction Hakuja
Pacific Rim Extinction Saber Athena
Pacific Rim Extinction Core Set

Now that I have said what I think some crowdfunding projects do wrong, see what Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce does right.  The project is still going on Kickstarter and is around 2/3rds of the way to their funding goal.

Rules up from the beginning, actual gameplay videos and prototype kits handed out and on display from the start of the project and community involvement with a great deal of transparency.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

An interesting Sci-Fi Concept for budding storytellers

Sci-Fi Concept Cards Examples

And then you meet this guy named… Bob…

Many years ago when I first got to play in a game based on the famous Dungeons and Dragons Red Box rules, my love of role-playing games well and truly became a part of me.  Even at that age, I wasn’t overly concerned about the general theme.  To me, Fantasy and Science Fiction are essentially the same setting.  One is based in a world of magical powers, and the other in a universe of magic like technology.

That said, this image still holds an awful lot of positive nostalgia and memories for me!

Dungeons and Dragons Players Manual Cover 1983

As I grew older, I then began to hold my own role-playing adventures.  The internet as it is now was a Sci-Fi fantasy in its own right, so they were variants on different stories I had read and what if scenarios.  In my defence I was about 12, even so, I don’t like thinking of what I put other players through at the time compared to what is available today 😀

And that is where today’s Kickstarter project comes in.  Creating an adventure for other players takes a lot of time, not something everyone has.  While basic plots and characters may be obvious, branches of stories or why certain things happen from a story perspective can be elusive.  This is all before your players look at the proverbial ‘Go in here’ sign and completely ignore it to see what else is happening.

To help with this, these Concept decks can be a great tool for beginner or veteran storytellers alike.  While they won’t exactly create a story for you, the inspiration for a character name or motivation is only a card pull away.  These cards can be used in a game to come up with some on the spot filler information, or used as a reference when crafting the adventure as prompts or lookups.

Sci-Fi Concept Cards Prototypes

There is also the added benefit of being actual playing cards if you decide to play something else!

The three card decks – one each for Characters, Planets and Locations – can be a great help to anyone that needs that little bit of a push.  I have never spoken to the creators before, but they previously had a Fantasy set as well I am sure that you would be able to get if you were so inclined as well.

If this sounds great but the idea of the physical cards sounds pricey, they have a data slate level pledge where you get the digital files for you as well.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Restoration Games Fireball Island is launching on Kickstarter April

Fireball Island New Box Cover

Can you escape the Curse of Vul-Kar?

Way back in 1986, Fireball Island was a Milton Bradley monstrosity of a game.  Lots of plastic and a marble you would send flying down the various paths to knock over pieces, it was great fun.  For about 10 minutes.  Then you kind of used it like the backdrop of an adventure set, making up your own stories as the playing pieces became more like action toys in your story.

Fireball Island Original Box Cover

Come 2016, and Restoration Games as a company is announced.  Their mission – to reinvigorate these old classics and bring them up to today’s gaming standards.  Stop Thief and Downforce have been great additions to my library, and I am thoroughly enjoying both of these classic games.

When the library was being looked at, a vote went out for the next game for Restoration Games to tackle, and a lot of very valid reasons were given as to why they couldn’t do it.  Well, as far as I remember, I can’t seem to find the original voting page where I remember seeing all this, so it could be an old man’s memory playing up.

But in 2017, Restoration Games announced with a flourish that they would indeed be tackling Fireball Island.

Well, information has been scarce with little pieces being teased out little by little.  But the wait is all but over! Come April 3rd (4th most likely QLD time) the Kickstarter for the new Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar will be live!

What does this mean?  More plastic.  More bits.  Rob Daviau promises more actual game!

Fireball Island Comparison

I will be looking for this project with interest.  My memories and feelings are mixed to say the least on the original game, mainly due to the amazing amount of fun people have poked at it over the years.  But Restoration Games has so far come through, so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

As I said at the moment information is a bit scarce, but you can check out the active Board Game Geek page here for more information.

Oh and that people making fun of the original?  Check out my favourite Board with Life Halloween video starring Fireball Island below!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Zombicide: Invader is coming to Kickstarter April 10

Zombicide Invasion Box Art

CMON has announced that Zombicide: Invader is launching on Kickstarter April 10th at 3 PM EST (6 am April 11th QLD Time).

Normally a CMON announcement has me excited, but Zombicide as a franchise has me in a strange place.  A little history to explain.

When Zombicide first came out, it wasn’t a perfect game but I had a lot of fun with it.  It was a bit of mindless fun, even if it did drag on a little bit.  There wasn’t really anything like it at the time, and the CMON miniatures were glorious.

Zombicide Season 01 Minis Mixed

When Zombicide Season 2 came announced, the idea of new Zombies and new locations had me excited and I backed it instantly.  When it arrived I started playing as soon as I could.  It was then I realised that the new Zombies just added to the maintenance and dragged out the game even more.

Zombicide Season 02 Minis Mixed

Zombicide Season 3 had me convinced these issues would be fixed.  Spoiler – they were once again made worse.  This was the game that made me all but give up on playing Zombicide, especially as new games that had learned from the games were announced and being developed.

Zombicide Season 01 Game Setup

Then Zombicide: Black Plague was announced.  I cautiously had a look, and I was happy to see it looked like CMON had scrapped the previous games completely and started in a new medieval fantasy setting.  I stopped and waited and watched previews from groups like the Dice Tower to hear what they had to say.  And I liked what I heard!  The rules had been streamlined, feedback from the players had been listened to and addressed, so I backed it with glee!

Then the game arrived.  I played it a couple of times solo, then slipped it away.  Black Plague wasn’t bad at all, it had potential, but by then other games had started to take its place in my games nights.  Games days stopped being “Can we play Zombicide?” and became me trying to convince people to give the new Zombicide a try.

Zombicide Black Plague Came Setup

Largely because of all this, when Green Horde was announced, I looked at it and just kept flicking through the internet.  I just couldn’t see anything new that either interested me or that I could use to convince others to try it with me.

So the announcement of Zombicide: Invader only has me looking at it because it seems to be the latest series reset.  Zombicide: Invader now has the franchise in space, where the zombies seem to be replaced with an alien horde.

Zombicide Black Plague Minis Zombies

There are no rules to look at right now, and I am going to guess that game previews will be coming out over the next few weeks to show off how gorgeous the game will inevitably be.

Zombicide was one of the original Kickstarter Phenomenon back in the day and a CMON mainstay, so I have no doubt it will be a successful campaign.  Personally for me though, while I will be looking at Zombicide: Invader and trying to find out more about it, I doubt there is much CMON can entice me with.

Zombicide Black Plague Minis Survivors

There are just smoother and better implementations right now for the genre as a whole.  Fantasy Flight has made great strides with Mansions of Madness Second Edition and Imperial Assault.  Gloomhaven has a much better story campaign experience and is the number one game ever according to Board Game Geek right now.  Sentient Cow Games even has a Kickstarter right now for Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce that has me 100 times more excited than this announcement.

I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t buy Zombicide – if you’re a fan you already know you are.  If you don’t have Zombicide in your collection, by all means, check it out.  The Board Game Geek page is here, and I am sure it will be updated as the campaign gets closer.

I will be posting my thoughts probably in the last week of the Zombicide: Invader Kickstarter if you would like to know my final thoughts.  But in the meantime, check out some of the already available games (including Zombicide: Black Plague) before getting caught up in the hype.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce Live Playthrough Thursday

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

What’s always better than hearing about gameplay?  SEEING IT PLAYED!

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is currently sitting about 50{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} funded in only 4 days!  I am really hoping this trend continues because it looks like a great game.

If I had known about this game last year, I am confident it would have placed in my most anticipated games of 2018!

I won’t go on about it too much here.  If you would like to know what I think of Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce, you can see my initial post here.

So what am I talking about today?  On Wednesday, March 7th from roughly 7 pm PST (or Thursday 1 pm QLD Time) Sentient Cow Games is doing a live playthrough with the Unfiltered Gamer!

This will be a great chance to see the game in action, as well as talk directly with the creators with any comments or possible questions.

The live playthrough will be on the Unfiltered Gamer Facebook Page so wander over and have a look!  Hopefully, I can tune in live and see you there with work hours and all 🙁  If you can’t see it live, check out the recording when you can I am sure it will be worth it!

If you haven’t already, check out the Kickstarter project as well as the Board Game Geek page for more information.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

AuZtralia is coming to Kickstarter soon

AuZtralia Box Art

Martin Wallace adds yet another great twist to some well-known games and themes

UPDATE: The Kickstarter is live RIGHT NOW! Check it out here!

Well, if you read my Top Ten Anticipated Games of 2018, you know that AuZtralia is something I am looking forward to. I am a Martin Wallace fan, and Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald was a great twist on the Cthulu Mythos.

The time I have been looking forward to is coming close though – AuZtralia is set to launch on Kickstarter March 6th! Of course in Australia (correctly spelled!) this will probably be on the 7th, but it’s still going to be close!

By all accounts, the game is shaping up nicely, with overall positive feedback on the games and rules I have seen being tweaked before the project release. I think this is a game I would prefer to play either solo or with four players from looking at the rules so far, but opinions offered have suggested that three may be the best multiplayer count.

If you would like to give it a try yourself, you can try AuZtralia on Tabletopia here.

AuZtralia on Tabletopia
AuZtralia on Tabletopia

AuZtralia is a semi-cooperative game with a bit of a difference to games I have played like this lately. Many semi-cooperative games I have looked at or played lately tend to have a ‘work together until only I win’ element to it. AuZtralia doesn’t do this, and in fact, uses its semi-cooperative mechanism to fix an issue that can appear in a lot of bigger euro games.

In some games, one player can pretty much tank a game for a lot of the others by ending the game early, and this is usually done in response to that player feeling they can’t win. In AuZtralia, while this is still possible for a player to do and make the game harder on the others, other players can stop this from happening by defending the weak points that can end a game instantly.

AuZtralia Components
AuZtralia Components

One thing I am enjoying about this game is it’s not a Cthulu game. I know this sounds contradictory, but at its core this is a resource management, economic and area control type game. This is important as unfortunately the attitude of “oh no another Cthulu game” will probably stop a huge chunk of it’s intended audience from looking at the game.

If you like Trains, Railroad Revolutions or another Martin Wallace game Age of Steam I hope you will give AuZtralia a good look, as I think you will have another great game to add to your collection.

I will put up a link to AuZtralia when the Kickstarter is live. For now though if you’re interested in learning more about AuZtralia, check out the Board Game Geek page here, or have a look at the final thoughts of one of my favourite pull no punches reviewers Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham in the video below.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce – a weirdly fun dungeon crawl

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

Think of any escape type exploration game you may have played.  Now pretend it was designed by the guys from MST3K and RiffTrax.

Dungeon Crawlers have been coming on strong over the last 18 months or so. It has gotten to the point that it is easy to dismiss a lot of games now as ‘Just another Dungeon Crawler’. This oversimplification is pretty unfair, as the term itself has started to become so generic that some truly unique ways of approaching these adventures are being overlooked. Sentient Cow Games has decided to tackle this in a way that tickles my fancy with the newly launched Kickstarter Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce.

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is the first in a planned trilogy of games that all seem to be carrying very similar themes, with the second game being on the Moon and the last being adventures through Time. But that is jumping ahead of myself – let’s talk about this game a little bit.

The premise itself is nice simple – players play cooperatively to escape the top-secret Dulce base (essentially Area 51) so that they can find their freedom. You explore the base and conquer level by level trying to find both the route and equipment required to complete the challenge. This is done in a 3D environment with actual levels that are explored. The vertical board seems to have plenty of room and is a great way to allow large amounts of exploration while keeping table space requirements low – always a welcome design.

While the player boards look like walls of text, the rules themselves are also simple and straightforward. While there is an experience system to allow character growth and a variety of enemies and situations you can find yourself in, there are a minimal number of mechanics and caveats to remember as almost everything is shown on the boards themselves. This means you can have new players in a game within about 5 minutes as you can expand or clarify rules as you play.

On top of streamlined rules, the humour in this game is amazing. For example, player characters range from the cryo-frozen Amelia Earhart to the mutated nuclear Smith family, all the way up to Snippy Von Bell – a two-headed cow with heavy weapons.  All of the characters seem to be parodies of sci-fi characters, some popular and some a little more niche.

Also, replayability seems to be quite high as well. There are stand-alone or campaign missions, and all tiles are double sided allowing different combinations to be used to create new bases each time. The component quality looks great even at the prototype level, and the miniatures all look amazing as we expect these days.

At its core, this is a fun dice chucking game with dungeon crawler elements and looks like it will be a fun addition as well as probably a gateway type adventure. While there are many great and deep games coming out, Sentient Cow Games seems to have gone back to what makes gaming fun in the first place – a fun experience where everyone can enjoy themselves all the way through without having to worry too much about rule interactions in situation X.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information, or the Board Game Geek page here.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders
Secret Unknown Stuff - Amelia Earhart
Secret Unknown Stuff - Adam Starblaster
Secret Unknown Stuff - The Smith Family
Secret Unknown Stuff - Dr Donna Haskin
Secret Unknown Stuff - Hattori Hanzo
Secret Unknown Stuff - Raylock G'ylax
Secret Unknown Stuff - Reb Buford
Secret Unknown Stuff - Snippy Von Bell

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles goes live Tomorrow!

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Box Art

About three or four times a year, there is a Kickstarter guaranteed to make my wallet cry.

Batman is without a doubt one of my favourite comic book characters of all time.  As I previously posted, a new game from Monolith is coming to Kickstarter in the form of Batman: Gotham City Chronicles.

Quick Update: The Kickstarter project is now live!  Check it out here.

Batman Gotham City Chronicles KS Banner

Based on the generally praised but also heavily criticised Conan board game by the same company, Batman: Gotham City Chronicles sets out to correct a lot of issues from the original Conan game in both gameplay and message.

With scenarios from classic Batman comic history such as Hush, The Killing Joke and The Court of Owls, this 2-4 player game looks to be a great game addition to Batman fans and tabletop skirmish players alike.

Being developed alongside DC comics, I am really excited about this project.  The miniatures that have been released look amazing, and over 100 have been approved by DC already.  The game presentation and components look fantastic, even the prototype cardboard player boards seem a cut above a lot of other components.

There is also all of the planned expansion/add-on content available during the campaign as well.  At the moment I know of the following:

  • Arkham Asulym / Jokerland Expansion
  • Wayne Manor / The Batcave Expansion
  • The Batmobile
  • Skirmish Mode

The Skirmish Mode expansion at the moment I am hazarding a guess will be almost an automatic must have.  Being able to play different game modes and go head to head with another player is always a nice option to have.

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Boxes
Gotham City Chronicles In all it's Kickstarter glory

But wallet-busting this will be.  At the moment the base core pledge is expected to be USD$140, with the All In amount adding all extra content to be around USD$330.  This doesn’t include shipping either.

I need to look at the additional content and shipping hard, as this could easily end up costing around AUD$700 for a game I would expect to hit the table once or twice a year.

To help spread the message as Batman: Gotham City Chronicles is exclusive to Kickstarter, Monolith has joined the crew from Beasts of War with some preview gameplay and rule overview videos!

These videos work really well to show off the game and I am all but drooling over the beautifully painted miniatures being used.

Rather than try to sum up the contents of the videos, I have linked to the videos from the Beasts of War YouTube channel below.

Check out the videos below and I will post the Kickstarter Project when it goes live!