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Review: Cards of Cthulhu (DVG)

Posted by Denny Koch on August 12, 2014

CardsofCthulhu_boxGame: The Cards of Cthulhu

Publisher: DVG
Published in: 2014
Designer: Ian Richards
Era and Topic: Contemporary / Hypothetical / Cthulhu Myth
Components: 8 Investigator cards, 8 Follower cards, 10 Item cards, 8 Cult Gate cards, 4 Minor Horror Cult cards, 4 Major Horror Cult cards, 4 Unspeakable Horror Cult cards, 60 Minion Cult cards, 7 Custom Cthulhu Dice, 4 8.5″ x 11″ Cult (player) boards, 10 Metal Custom Cthulhu Coins, 1 player help sheet
Game Type: cooperative card game (1-4 players)

HFC Game-O-Meter: Ebullet1


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 8
Playability:
7
Replay Value:
6.5

Overall Rating: 7

PRO Cthulhu! Can be played as a solitaire game or cooperatively. Great artwork. Very simple and fast game for the Cthulhu quick bite. Fast game play, almost no setup time.
CONTRA Very high random element: game can be unbeatable or a stroll in the park. Very simple mechanics without surprising elements (like special events). Not all required information are printed on the cards, which unnecessarily forces the players to refer to the rule book during a game. All cults have the same cultist types, which appears somewhat generic.

Introduction

 Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!

As we already mentioned in our Hornet Leader – The Cthulhu Conflict review, we are Cultists. We are avid fans of Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones, so we love playing games about the Cthulhu myth. It’s always interesting to see how a game approaches the topic and how it deals with the signature features of this universe: Great Old Ones, gates, minions, cultists, investigators. There is a vast plethora of Cthulhu games on the market, monster games like Arkham Horror, quick and fast games like Elder Sign, or the Call of Cthulhu LGC.

So – when we played the new “Cards of Cthulhu” game in our HFC Test Lab, the most interesting question about “Cards of Cthulhu” was: is the game bringing any new angle or unique feature to the topic?

Why do we need another Cthulhu game and what sets the game apart from the other games?

Cards of Cthulhu is a quick, very simple game. It can be played as a Solitaire game as well as with 2-4 players who play the game cooperatively vs. the paper AI. Both options work without any adjustments to the rules. Each player assumes the role of an Investigator. The goal of the game is to fight 4 cults whose cultists try to awake a Great Old One by opening gates and raising minor, major and unspeakable Horrors. The time limit is set by the card deck; if the cultists don’t manage to overrun the world before the deck runs out, the players win.

The game was designed by first-time designer Ian Richardson and published by Dan Verssen Games (DVG). It was a Kickstarter game where all stretch goals had been reached by the backers, so the game offers some nice bonus features like mounted boards and metal coins.

Game components and graphic presentation

Box contents plus Bonus pack

Box contents plus Bonus pack

The game is shipped in a sturdy, solid box with cool Cthulhu artwork on the cover.

The box contains 10 Investigator cards, among which players choose their character. The other cards are shuffled into one large deck, containing all types of playing cards like Cultists, gates, Minions, items, Followers. The cards are of a good printing quality, but appear to be somewhat thin. Since we sleeve all our card games, this wasn’t a problem at all.

Generally, the illustrations on the cards are quite thematic and true to the topic. What we didn’t understand, though, was the simple fact why the Investigators and the Followers have the same illustrations. We know that each character is meant to be a “generic archetype” and not “Susan Miller, the journalist”, so that’s the explanation why each character can appear as an Investigator as well as a Follower. So you can “be” the Priest and at the same time recruit the Follower “Priest”. But to us, it would have been more atmospheric if each Investigator was a unique character with a unique picture. Playing a character and then getting the exact copy with the same illustration as a Follower simply felt awkward.

In addition, there are 4 mounted cult boards, representing one cult each (the Cults of Cthulhu, Arwassa, Chaugnar Faugn, and Yog-Sothoth, respectively). During our first game, the boards warped heavily and tended to turn around on the table when we touched them, but the warping was entirely gone when we unpacked the game for the second time. Since then, the boards remained plain and didn’t warp at all anymore.

There is also a Help Sheet which offers quick rules reference for the players. We always appreciate help sheets, regardless of how simple a game is (and Cards of Cthulhu is certainly one of the easiest Cthulhu games out there) – it serves as a rules reminder and is especially helpful when you didn’t play a game for a while and want to return it to the table without re-reading the entire rule book.

The game contains three types of special dice, Health dice, Body dice, and Spirit dice. These dice are used for combat resolution. The black dice are nicely done, but one of our players had slight problems in distinguishing some of the numbers, which are printed next to a colored tentacle-shaped object. Other players didn’t have any issues at all, so this doesn’t appear to be a general problem.

The currency within the game is “Experience” which is represented by golden metal coins. These were added as a Kickstarter stretching goal and we thought them to be really cool. Pure cosmetics, but much more evocative than counters.

3 types of special dice are used to resolve combat

3 types of special dice are used to resolve combat

Besides the full-color rule book, the game also contains an artwork book, which illustrates the origination process of many illustrations with comments and explanations by Cloud Quinot, the artist (who also did the artworks for Hornet Leader – The Cthulhu Conflict).

The overall production quality is, as usual with games published by DVG, very good. Especially the artworks are very atmospheric and true to the topic with painting-like illustrations. As in Cthulhu Conflict, the artist did a great job to convey a very special, very dark Lovecraftian atmosphere.

There is also a “Cards of Cthulhu Bonus pack” available which includes 7 more Cthulhu dice and 10 more coins. This is helpful if you play the game with more players, so players won’t have to share the dice – and you can never have enough coins. But the Bonus pack doesn’t include any additional cards, or rules, it isn’t a game expansion! So whether additional dice and coins are important enough for you to buy this expansion, is a matter of personal preference (you could also share your dice among all players and use coins of your local currency).

Rules

The 24-pages-full color rule book is very comprehensible with lots of illustrations, examples, and short, clear instructions. Only the first 15 pages are rules, though. After the rules section, you will find a sample game, and several Cthulhu short stories by renowned professional authors (you can download the rulebook here on the official DVG website)Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Misc. Fantasy games, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

News from Warhammer 40k: Conquest – the Warhammer LCG

Posted by Denny Koch on June 6, 2014

WHK01-box-leftSince we are avid LCG players who own and play all LCGs (“Living Card Games”) by Fantasy Flight Games (like Call of Cthulhu, Game of Thrones, or Lord of the Rings) AND fierce Warhammer 40k fans, the announcement of a Warhammer 40k LCG was long overdue! Warhammer Invasion was nice, but we simply prefer Chaos, Space Marines, and Orcs over Dwarves and Elves, so Warhammer 40k: Conquest sounds like the game we have been waiting for!

After a period of silence, FFG published a new preview about the upcoming WH40k game, introducing the combat system of the game. On first sight, from all LCGs, the mechanics resemble the Call of Cthulhu LCG most.

An interesting difference to the other LCGs is the fact that all factions can cooperate with “neighboring” factions within a kind of faction wheel, named “Alliance Chart” and build a strike force with them.

The "Alliance chart" allows interesting combinations between factions

The “Alliance chart” allows interesting combinations between factions

We are still wondering whether the game will be different and innovative enough to set itself apart from the other LCGs, but we are optimistic. The game description looks interesting enough to fuel our curiosity and impatience!

Alas, the publishing date is still unknown.

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Games A-Z, News and Releases, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Warhammer 40k LCG | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Hornet Leader – The Cthulhu Conflict (DVG)

Posted by Denny Koch on February 27, 2014

Cthulhuconflict_boxGame: Hornet Leader – The Cthulhu Conflict

Publisher: DVG
Published in: 2013
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: Contemporary / Hypothetical / Cthulhu Myth / Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground warfare
Components: Expansion to Hornet Leader, Basic game required!
Game Type: Mixed: Board, counters, card-driven

HFC Game-O-Meter: D


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 8
Playability: 
7
Replay Value:
9

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Cthulhu! Hornet Leader! Both combined in one game!! Combining both games is a very cool and innovative idea. Can be played as a solitaire game or cooperatively. Great artwork, includes many elements from the Lovecraft universe
CONTRA Higher random element and more luck dependent due to Chaos caused by the Great Old Ones (which fits perfectly to the setting, but could be a turn-off for conservative Hornet Leader players because your careful planning and strategies can and will be destroyed within minutes)

Introduction

 Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!

As you may have guessed (for example from reading our Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game articles), we are Cultists. We love everything dealing with Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones. We play games like Arkham Horror, Elder Sign, the Call of Cthulhu LCG, or video games like Dark Corners of the Earth. And, of course, we watch even the most esoteric movies like the modern silent movie adaption of Call of Cthulhu.

The game can be played solitaire or cooperatively

The game can be played solitaire or cooperatively

So, you can image that we were very happy when Hornet Leader: Cthulhu Conflict arrived in our HFC Test Lab!

We are also fans of DVG’s “Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations” game (which we play cooperatively, since despite the fact that it is marketed as a Solitaire game, it also works great as a Coop game). So when Hornet Leader: Cthulhu Conflict was published as an (quite strange and unexpected) expansion to a down-to-Earth realistic Air combat warfare game, we got very excited.

Cthulhu Conflict isn’t a standalone expansion; ownership of Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations is mandatory because the game uses all material from the basic game and adds new rules, cards, counters, and markers to the mix.

This review will not deal with the core game mechanics and the gameplay sequence of Hornet Leader, so if you don’t know what this game is about and how it is played, you should read our extensive HL review first. It will give you a good overview about how the game works and what kind of game to expect.

It is assumed, both by the expansion and by our review, that you have basic knowledge of Hornet Leader and know how to play the core game. In this review, we will focus on the differences, how the expansion works, and how (good) the setting is portrayed in the game.

Like Hornet Leader, Cthulhu Conflict is scenario based, following the same choice options (game length, difficulty level) you already know from HL. In addition, the game is suitable for Solitaire play as well as 2-player cooperative gameplay vs. the paper AI. Both options work fine and coop games don’t need any adjustments to rules or gameplay. 

Game components and graphic presentation

The game is shipped in a box which is smaller and lighter than the Hornet Leader (HL) box. The HL box, of course, is a heavy monster full of cool stuff, and remember: you will use the contents of both boxes.

Box contents

Box contents

The box contains 56 additional cards (additional aircraft, new target cards, new event cards), 178 counters (bandits, sites, phobia markers), 4 Campaign sheets, and a full-color rule book. All components have the specific “HL look & feel” and fit to the main game seamlessly.

The game includes a Player Log Sheet, printed on a somewhat stronger paper. This serves as a master copy sheet and you can copy it at your local copy shop (or any photocopier at home or at work). There is no pad with several sheets in the box, so if you want to take the box to a friend, you should make sure that you photocopied enough player log sheets. If you don’t want to make physical copies, there is also a PDF version of the log sheet available from the official web site for free download, which can be printed out. The combination of adding a physical photocopy master and offering a digital download version is very user-friendly (adding a full pad with sheets would be the friendliest version, but this is, of course, a question of cost).

The overall production quality is, as usual with games published by DVG, very good. Especially the artworks are outstanding – in contrast to the usual technical images on the cards, the artworks (especially on the target cards) are true to the topic and very stylish with almost painting-like illustrations of creatures and places. The artist did a great job here to convey a very special, very dark Lovecraftian atmosphere.

Rules

The 12-pages-full color-rule book (which is also available as a free download from the official DVG website) doesn’t repeat the original Hornet Leader rules but refers to the HL rulebook for basic gameplay purposes. It details only the differences and rules changes as well as descriptions for new units and additional rules.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Historical Games A-Z, Leader Series, Misc. Fantasy games, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Sentinels of the Multiverse (Enhanced Edition, Greater Than Games, LLC)

Posted by Denny Koch on April 2, 2013

SotM_box

Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse (Enhanced Edition)

Publisher: Greater Than Games, LLC
Published in: 2011
Designers: Christopher Badell, Paul Bender, Adam Rebottaro

Game Type: Cooperative, fixed-deck Card Game
Topic: Superheroes vs. Supervillains
Contents: 578 cards (63 x 88 mm):

– 10 Hero Character CardsOFFTOPIC_rund– 10 Hero Decks of 40 cards each
8 Villain Character and Game Text Cards
4 Villain Decks of 25 cards each
– 4 Environment Decks of 15 cards each

Number of Players: 2-5 (meaning: 3-5 hero characters)

HFC Game-O-Meter: E bullet2


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 9
Playability:
8
Replay Value:
 9

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Very thematic; perhaps the most “superheroic” superhero game out there; unlimited combinations of super heroes, super villains, and environments ensure a very high replay value; easy to expand; cool universe; very diverse heroes (tanks, supporter, damage-dealer, deck controller…), villains and environments offer much variety; very simple rules but demanding gameplay; almost no setup time; well thought-out gamebox (deck dividers provide a perfect storage system)
CONTRA Hard to win with certain hero / villain / environment combinations; two players are required to take 2 heroes each or the game will be unbeatable; storage system doesn’t work with sleeved cards; some important info counters are not included in the game but have to be crafted by the players themselves

Introduction: What is “Sentinels of the Multiverse”?

Sentinels of the Multiverse” is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game based on a (non-existent) Comic book universe – it’s not Marvel, it’s not DC, but nevertheless – it conveys the authentic feeling of a rich, living, complex Comic book world.

SotM_quote

Uttering the inspiring quote while playing the card is fun!

Players take the role of a super hero. Each super hero has his or her unique back story, super powers, and own agenda. The “character card”, which shows the image of the player’s chosen character, is drawn like a comic book cover, and you can easily imagine that your hero is the hero of their own comic book series. In addition, you can even find different drawing styles for different heroes.

The hero’s fixed 40 cards deck consists of special powers, items, equipment, instant actions and you can find inspiring quotes from “Sentinels Multiverse” fictional comic books on the lower half of each card, together with a fictional reference to a non-existent comic book – which is quite nice and strongly reminds of references to other issues in Marvel comics.

Ra

Egyptian Sun God Ra is a damage dealer

In other words – Sentinels of the Multiverse (SotM) does a very nice job in “simulating” a Comic book universe. This works so good that it actually feels very thematic, very superheroic (it soon became for us the most atmospheric superhero game currently out there!). The fact that it isn’t based on Marvel or DC characters has one additional advantage: the designers are absolutely free in designing the characters. There are no limits, no restrictions on how to develop a certain character. That makes it much easier to design a “damage dealer” character, or a “deck control and support” character than in creating a Captain America or Green Lantern deck, where players have certain expectations what this character does – and does not. If you are a comic book fan, you will even recognize some of the most famous comic book heroes in SotM characters – some are obviously influenced by their “real” counterparts, but they are never a cheap copy (for example, we discovered aspects of Iron Man, the Punisher, Batman, or the Flash) .

Each SotM character, each Super Villain is very distinct and strongly differs from the other characters in the game. So playing a different character is an entirely new experience each time and you have to adjust your teamwork and tactics according to this character’s traits, strengths and weaknesses. Trying out a new deck without knowing what to expect, and finding out what it’s about, is really exciting.

Hero "Bunker" has a special armor which can switch between various "modes"

Hero “Bunker” has a special armor which can switch between various “modes”

The rule book tells the background story of “Sentinels of the Multiverse”. You will learn about the “Freedom Five” and their mission, about the Super Villains who plan to conquer or destroy the world. In the Core Game, there are four different arch enemies (varying in complexity levels). You can choose to fight Omnitron, the sentient robot factory, an Alien Warlord, Baron Blade, the mad scientist (who is somewhat inspired by Marvel’s Doctor Doom) or Citizen Dawn (with some similarities to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). In addition, you can choose among four different environments where your game takes place, for example a hostile Mars Base, the Ruins of Atlantis, or Insula Primalis, an archaic tropical volcanic island with dinosaurs!

In addition, Greater Than Games began to publish little comic book episodes (the “Freedom Four annual #1”) in addition to the character biographies on their official Sentinels website which add some spice to the background story. If you want to learn more about the characters, the environments, and the back story, this website is highly recommended. After a while, you begin to believe that SotM is an existing, fully fleshed-out comic book universe. The official forum on the same website is also recommended; here you find in-depth strategies for all characters and a lively fan community.

The game can be expanded very easily by adding new decks, villains, and environments. Since all decks are fixed, you have to learn to play with what your hero has at his or her disposal. There is no deck building, no collectible element, and each character can (and must) be played out of the box. There are several expansions available which bring more complexity to the game by adding characters with very synergistic dynamics, who need much preparation time and optimized play.  New special rules can be included in decks very easily without inflating the very lean rule book.

In the Core game, the 10 super heroes play very differently and their decks offer varying complexity levels. Some characters are easier to play because they work quite straightforward. Other characters require preparation and the combining of various effects – Absolute Zero, for example, who had an accident in a sub-zero atomizer, has the special power of dealing fire or ice damage to himself. At first, this doesn’t make much sense, because a hero is incapacitated once his Health Points have reached zero. But over the course of a game, Absolute Zero learns to deal damage others whenever he suffers fire damage or to heal himself by suffering ice damage, so this leads to very nice synergistic effects.

Villains (handled by the game’s AI) also play very differently. They have a personality created by their special rules (elegantly included into their character cards and deck), and are all very dangerous and very serious opponents which are quite hard to beat.

Last but not least, each Environment (also handled by the game’s AI) is generally hostile (both to the players and to the villain), and surprises the players with dangerous events and interruptions which can’t be ignored and have to be dealt with while fighting the super villain, adding another danger level to the game.

Graphic Presentation and Component Quality

Unboxing the Basic Game

Unboxing the Basic Game

Sentinels of the Multiverse is shipped in a solid box with a plastic inlay which is optimized for storing all decks (even the first two expansions!), separated by their deck divider cards.

The cards are standard-sized, so they can be sleeved quite easily with default card sleeves. But watch out, if you sleeve your cards (as we did), you cannot use the storage system provided by the game box, because your cards become slightly too large. It would be perfect if the designers would have added just a few millimeters to their plastic holding inlay to satisfy all players who prefer to sleeve their card games.

The cards are strong and glossy, but since they are black, they are more prone to tear and wear than white cards (this was the reason why FFG printed their LCG cards on a white background as opposed to the black CCG predecessors). So sleeving the cards is highly recommended, regardless of the fact that the overall card quality is very good.

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Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Reviews, Sentinels of the Multiverse | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Review: Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game (DVG)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 8, 2013

Game: Rise of the Zombies – The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Game Review

Publisher: Dan Verssen Games (DVG)
Published in: 2013
Designer: Dan Verssen

Topic: Surviving in a  Zombie Apocalypse
Game Type: Cooperative-Competitive Card Game
Contents: 168 Game Cards, two 6-sided dice, 8 Plastic Stands for Survivor Characters, 1 Sheet of Counters, 1 Digital Timer, 1 Rulebook

Number of Players: 1-8OFFTOPIC_rund

HFC Game-O-Meter: E 


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 8
Playability: 9
Replay Value: 9

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Easy game mechanics, fast to learn, good written rules, lots of decisions, very thematic, good simulation, high replay value because it is difficult to win, cooperative, quality components (cards, rule book, box)…
CONTRA …but some of the components are less convincing (counters hard to read because of the chosen font which sometimes looks too cramped; plastic stands are ugly and don’t hold the counters in place too well; the timer looks a bit cheap and battery sometimes detaches from the electrical contacts so it stops working), no player aid, for some players the extremely unforgiving nature of the game may lead to frustration.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Introduction

RotZ_table

Zombies on the table!

There are so many Zombie games available on the market that it didn’t really awake my interest when Dan Verssen Games announced Rise of the Zombies, their new game funded by Kickstarter. We own several Zombie themed games and all of them are fun to play once in a while, but there was no reason to believe that a new game would actually bring some new game experiences to the table, so this game was not really on our radar. Then a review copy of the game arrived out of the blue and we did what we always do when a publisher sends us a new game – we quit playing the games we were currently playing for fun, took Rise of the Zombies into the HFC Test Lab and started our test sessions. 

So, what is the game about? It’s the usual setting you would expect from a Zombie game: the players are survivors in a world which was overrun by Zombies, no one knows what and why it happened, the world is just a looting ground and life is reduced to a constant run from a safe house to a new shelter, while trying to survive the walking dead. Actually, the rule book draws you into the story right away by letting you read a letter written by a certain “Gordon”:

The Howler is very dangerous because she attracts more zombies

The Howler is very dangerous because she attracts more zombies

“If you can read these words, there is still hope. On these sketch cards you will find my recounting of The Last Days of our World. Did it start in the water? The food? As a bio weapon? I never found out. 

I was touring Washington D.C. when the President declared a National Emergency and the Army barricaded the streets. Trapped in my hotel room, I watched Apache helicopters firing wave after wave of rockets into the shambling masses surging up Pennsylvania Avenue. I sketched what I witnessed on the cards you are holding now. For two days, the helicopters came, and my towering hotel shuddered from the ever approaching blasts. The third day was the worst. I awoke from a troubled sleep to silence.

Just before dusk of the fourth day, flames engulfed the White House. It burned throughout the night. At dawn, our flag over the White House had fallen. I raided the hotel’s kitchen for food and supplies and began my trek out of the city. For six days, I slept in sewers, slunk down alleys, and peered out of garbage dumpsters, sketching deep into the night to preserve my sanity. Seeing was never a problem. Something was always on fire. They were everywhere. Swarming. Searching with mindless eyes and rending flesh with outstretched hands. They never slept. They never stopped feeding. They mindlessly stalked the living. That’s all they did. 

I met other survivors along the way, but they each fell to the mindless hoards through carelessness or misplaced courage. On the seventh day, I found this house. I call it my Safe House. It was fortified with boarded windows and barbed-wire around the front yard. I met the guy who did the work. He was a construction worker before things went bad. There are more of them every day, and it is dangerous to sneak out for food. I don’t know how much longer I can stay here. I saw an Army helicopter circling the park on the other side of town yesterday. If I see another one, I’m making a run for it. I asked the construction worker if he wanted to come with me, but he said he’d stay here for a while and wait for the Army. I wish him well.

I’m leaving my sketches behind as a sign of hope. All is not lost. We will survive”

-Gordon

This letter explains the situation at the beginning of the game because the players start in the mentioned safe house, and since it’s not really safe there anymore, they will have to follow Gordon, who left the house to make a run for the rescue helicopter he saw.  This story introduction also gives the background for a very distinctive art style that is used in the presentation of the game: it’s a card game and all cards are sketches, pencil drawings that look interesting and fresh, and that’s what Gordon left behind to give other survivors some hope. It’s a nice touch, a great introduction for such a game and it did awake our interest and we wanted to know more…

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Sentinels of the Multiverse AAR no 1: “Machine Slaughterhouse On Mars”

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on February 19, 2013

An After-Action-Report of a 2-player game of “SENTINELS of the MULTIVERSE” by Greater Than Games LLC

Note, live from the HFC Test Lab: we only chose 1 character each because the rulebook mentions the “In a two-player-game, each player takes 2 characters”-rule as an “Advanced Rule”. We wanted to check out if the game could be won by 2 characters. This is an AAR of our third attempt to do so.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The sentient beings of the Multiverse were shocked when they heard about the brutal defeat of first Haka and Ra, followed by the defeat of their comrades Tempest and Bunker, who were sent out when the first duo of super heroes had been defeated.

Their mission: to once and for all destroy what was known as one of the biggest threats in the Multiverse – a former robot factory built on Earth: Aldred Industries XK 9000-Alpha, which eventually had become a sentient and thinking being due to corrupted upgrades of its inhibitor core.

Omnitron, the "Self-Aware Robotics Factory"

Omnitron, the “Self-Aware Robotics Factory”

This self-aware robot factory is now known as Omnitron and even has begun to duplicate itself!

It had been discovered that the so-called “Core 1” sent out drones, which started to build a duplicate of the factory on the planet Mars – and sadly this was done in such a way that it completely went under the radar of the ever-watchful super heroes of the Multiverse. Instead of having the chance to interrupt what was going on during the early stages of the factory building process, our heroes were informed about it when it was already too late to do anything about it – and now, Omnitron is controlling a good part of the planet Mars and we do not know what the machine brain is going to do next!

Quickly, two of our heroes – Maori warrior Haka and Egypt sun god Ra – decided to deal with the new threat on their own and made their way to Mars in order to destroy the new Omnitron presence, but as we know, they were defeated…

The idea to launch a quick counter attack by sending Alien warrior Tempest from outer Space and The Indestructible Super Soldier Bunker to Wagner Mars Base turned out to be a bad one, as these warriors were also defeated in what seemed little more than a swift strike by the sentient machine.

Not willing to accept this defeat, Psychic time-traveler Visionary and angelic Templar Fanatic made their way to Mars as well…  and, at first, all appeared to go well when they arrived there…

The Fanatic, the angelic templar, is one of the "damage dealers" in SotM

The Fanatic, the angelic templar, is one of the “damage dealers” in SotM

Omnitron appeared to be in a sort of maintenance mode, when the heroes started their attack… the factory stayed rather inactive at first (at least compared to what was reported by the other heroes about their arrival before).

So, after the self-aware factory realized through its sensors that sentient beings were present again, it only used its disintegration ray cannons to fire on Fanatic and then sent out an assault drone to finish her – instead of spamming her with drones and components, as it had done with the other hero teams.

Finishing Fanatic off wasn’t so easy, though, since Fanatic was perfectly aware of the various ways Omnitron was usually dealing with enemies. So she was able to suck up these attacks, then she flew high into the air to make a powerful dive attack on the drone, destroying it with the first blow and – using the gap in Omnitron’s defenses – to actually attack the machine complex itself. That was something the other hero teams had been unable to do, because they had been welcomed by many drones and heavy initial attacks at their arrival, and had never been able to get close to the core.

After landing on solid, red ground again, Fanatic used her Exorcism power and was able to hit Omnitron again, this time with a hard melee attack, followed by radiant damage. Visionary, seeing Fanatic already bringing the fight to the enemy instead of waiting for other opportunities, tried to calm herself down and used the fact that Omnitron was in combat with Fanatic to prepare for a demoralizing psychic attack against the machine brain. The idea was to actually get into the self-conscious parts of the machine to disrupt it – just like Visionary would do with any sentient and conscious opponent. She couldn’t be sure, though, that this would work out as she hoped it would, since it was still unclear whether Omnitron was actually feeling and thinking or not… what appeared to be a sentient self-conscious machine complex could still just be a sort of simulation of consciousness, a corrupted program running in the many computers of the factory.

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Posted in After Action Reports, Fantasy Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Sentinels of the Multiverse | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Horus Heresy (FFG)

Posted by Denny Koch on July 9, 2012

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2010
Designers: Jeff Tidball, John Goodenough
Game Type: Board Game / Miniatures / Card-driven
Topic: The Horus Heresy / Battle for Terra
Era:  31st century (back story of the Warhammer 40k universe)
Contents: Game Board, 3D plastic terrain (3 factories, 6 fortresses, 1 Imperial Palace), Playing Pieces (12 Space Marines, 24 Imperial Army, 12 Imperial Tank Divisions, 3 Adeptus Custodes, 3 Adeptus Arbites, 3 Adeptus Mechanicus, 3 Imperial Titans, 16 Chaos Space Marines, 4 Chaos Titans, 8 Chaos Thunderhawks, 8 Chaos Cultists, 8 Chaos Warbands, 8 Demon Hordes), 60 Imperial Bases, Combat Iteration Tokens, 6 Defense Lasers, 2 Reference Sheets, 32 Bombardment Cards, 30 Event Cards, 40 Imperial Order Cards, 64 Traitor Bases, 40 Traitor Order Cards, 32 Imperial Combat Cards, 32 Traitor Combat Cards, 8 Imperial Hero Combat Cards, 10 Special Tokens, 8 Traitor Hero Combat Cards, 10 Hero Markers and Bases, 10 Hero Damage Markers, 28 Legion Designators, 2 Initiative Markers, 36 Damage Tokens, 57 Activation Markers, 5 Fortification Markers, 12 Breach Markers, Rulebook (44 pages), Scenario Book (20 pages)
Number of Players: 2

HFC Game-O-Meter: E 


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 6
Rules: 9
Playability:
7
Replay Value:
 7

Overall Rating: 8

PRO Very thematic, interesting and astonishingly deep combat system, innovative initiative system
CONTRA Map too small, ugly miniatures, crowded 3D plastic terrain, there could be more variety in combat cards, very expensive

Introduction: What is the “Horus Heresy”?

Warmaster Horus, Primarch of the Lunar Wolves (Sons of Horus, Black Legion)

Warhammer 40k takes place in a dystopic science-fantasy universe in the early 41st century. In this universe, “There Is Only War” (the 40k catchphrase). The Imperium of Man, ruled by an autocratic God-Emperor, is at constant war with various alien (“xenos”) races and the forces of Chaos which consist of corrupted former Imperial troops and Chaos demons, ruled by the four Gods of Chaos Khorne, Nurgle, Slaneesh, and Tzeench.

The “Horus Heresy” was the key event and is the back story of the Warhammer 40k universe. It took place 10,000 years before the events portrayed in the Warhammer 40k system. In this time, mankind was still united and on the Great Crusade with the ultimate goal of conquering and “illuminating” the entire galaxy. With a vast Imperial Army and 20 Legions of genetically enhanced trans-human warrior-monks called Adeptus Astartes (better known as Space Marines), the Empire of Mankind sought to subjugate and unite all inhabited words, purging them of their own “heathen” beliefs, and converting them to the Imperial Truth. Worlds which failed or refused to comply were eradicated, including their often human inhabitants.

The Emperor of Mankind created 20 immortal superhuman beings as his “sons”, called the “Primarchs“. Each Primarch commanded a Space Marines Legion which was enhanced with their genetic material, so each legion had the characteristics, qualities, philosophy, and nature of their respective Primarch.In the 31st century, in the midst of the Great Crusade, the Emperor suddenly declared that he intended to return to Terra. He left the Crusade in the hands of the Primarchs and promoted Primarch Horus of the Lunar Wolves Legion to the new position of “Warmaster”, thus raising him above the other Primarchs. This led to envy from some of his brothers, who thought that they deserved the position of Warmaster. Others supported Horus and took his side.

The Emperor of Mankind, accompanied by his bodyguard, the Adeptus Custodes

Sensing this momentary weakness, the Gods of Chaos, who dwelled in an alternate dimension called “the Warp” (which is also used by the Imperium as a means of fast inter-stellar travel) intervened and managed to corrupt Horus by convincing him that the Emperor had abandoned them… and that he had to be removed. They also managed to corrupt some of his brothers and their Legions. In the end, Horus lured all Primarchs and Legions that didn’t follow his new path, into a trap . He even purged all soldiers and officers, who showed reluctance to renounce the Emperor, from his own traitorous Legions . In an unprecedented attack with mass-destruct weapons – banned virus-bombs -, he killed all loyalists within his own Legions and lured the other Imperial Legions into an ambush. Simultaneously, some of his traitor Legions went after loyal Legions’ homeworlds, to eradicate them and their bases. Space Marines never before fought other Space Marines, so the loyalist Legions were completely taken by surprise and suffered fatal losses.Over the time, the Chaos Gods completely corrupted Horus and the other Primarchs and their Legions who fell under their spell. Primarchs and Astartes began to change physically and mentally, slowly transforming into the infamous Chaos Space Marine Legions.

Eventually, Horus and his allies moved their vast fleets towards Terra and the Imperial Palace, where Horus wanted to confront and challenge the Emperor himself. This Battle for Holy Terra, which was the hallmark of the Horus Heresy, and the siege of the Imperial Palace are portrayed in the strategic board game “Horus Heresy” by Fantasy Flight Games.

The Game

Unboxing: The contents of “Horus Heresy”

I love the rich lore of the detailed Warhammer 40k universe and the Horus Heresy book series belongs to my favorite Science Fiction novels. The  dystopic universe is very complex and deep, and the story is dark, cruel, and full of surprising twists and turns.

My favorite faction is the Chaos Space Marines, I’m currently building and painting a WH40k army of Emperor’s Children, led by Primarch Fulgrim and corrupted by Chaos God(dess) Slaanesh. This Chaos Space Marine Legion played a key role during the Horus Heresy. Naturally, I was very happy when I got Horus Heresy board game on Christmas – especially since the Emperor’s Children are a playable faction in this game.In addition, the game was published by Fantasy Flight Games, a company which is famous for their high overall production quality and great artworks. We own lots of FFG games, and all of them are graphically very appealing and always very thematic and true to their topics, be it the Lovecraft universe, or Middle Earth, or Game of Thrones.

Horus Heresy was one of the last “big box” games published by FFG, so the gamebox is really massive and heavy with a high heft factor (and an accordingly high price)… and looks very promising with dramatic box artwork.

But does the game deliver what it promises? And can it be played by players who have no clue about the Warhammer 40k universe? Read this review and find out!

Don’t miss this cool official introductory video by Fantasy Flight Games:

Graphic Presentation and Component Quality

Initial preparations

The gamebox contains a strong cardboard map with holes where you have to slot in the 3D plastic terrain pieces. Also, the plastic miniatures have to be put on their respective bases (black for Chaos, grey for Imperial troops). Space Marine legions from both sides are also marked with a Legion icon.Fortunately, you have to put the miniatures and Legion markers on their bases only once; during the game, only few Imperial playing pieces (army and tanks) can switch sides; Space Marines and other units will never switch sides and thus will always remain on their bases. So after playing, you simply put them back into the box without separating the bases again.

The Game Board

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Posted in Horus Heresy, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Star Wars – The Card Game!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on August 3, 2011

FFG continues to create and publish games on big licences…after Lord of the Rings – The Card Game they now announce a LCG on Star Wars! Great news for all you solitaire and coop gamers again – you will be part of the Rebel Forces and fight against the evil imperium, it’s for 1-4 players. Hard to tell anything about gameplay and whether it is similar to the LOTR LCG gameplay since we don’t know much about the game beyond the fact that it is in the making. Head over to the FFG site for the game and read yourself what we know so far.

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Gears of War – The Boardgame!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 18, 2011

As fans of the Gears of War videogames, I remember that a good while back we were really excited to see a small section over at FFG that said there was a GoW game in the making. We read that little news years ago and although it was still there in the deep dungeons of the FFG forum, nothing happened for years…

…but now we are even more excited than ever before. The game lives! It will be published by FFG and from what we can read in the official announcement, it could become truly epic and glorious. It will be designed as a COOP game, something we greatly appreciate and which perfectly fits the nature of the videogames and it seems the Locust (the enemy species in the GoW universe) are controlled by a good paper AI.

So Gears all over the world, prepare yourself to be ready when the great battle is fought not only on the screen with the final episode coming this year, but also on your… gaming table!

Check out the recent information about the game here!

And if you want more detailed info on everything Gears then check out Gearspedia!

Update:

The rules can be found here and there’s a FFG video now available about the game…

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Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game… Expansions!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 29, 2011

Fantasy Flight Games recently announced that certain games will henceforth be supported with their new Print on Demand service. Games that normally would not have been supported with new expansions will get new game stuff called micro-expansions. The first two micro-expansions available are two card expansions for the game Space Hulk: Death Angel and here’s what the players who own this game can expect according to the FFG website:

Death Angel: Mission Pack 1 Expansion

Your mission is not over, and failure is not an option.

While you may have survived the harrowing challenges of Death Angel, the mission is far from over. The Mission Pack 1Print on Demand expansion brings twelve new Location cards to provide alternate missions for players. These cards are seamlessly incorporated into your Death Angel game – simply choose whether you want to use the standard Location cards or the ones found in this Mission Pack and build your mission as normal.

But beware! New terrors have emerged in the form of Adrenal Genestealers: deathly agile and relentless. These dangerous new foes will pop out from every dark corner, unleashing attack after attack.

Also included in Mission Pack 1 is an all-new Terrain card, that will threaten to thrust unfortunate space marines out into the cold embrace of space.

 

 

Death Angel: Space Marine Pack 1 Expansion

Rally your battle brothers with the Death Angel Space Marine Pack 1 expansion!

Space Marine Packs introduce brand new combat teams to your game, ready to blast their way into the carnage that is Death Angel.

The Space Marine Pack 1 Print on Demand expansion comes complete with two new Combat Teams and their respective Action cards. The deadly Chaplain Raziel brings his ironclad faith to the fight while Brother Adron readies his Cyclone Missile Launcher for absolute devastation. These new Combat Teams can be seamlessly incorporated into your Death Angel games to provide more versatility and more options.

Also included in the Space Marine Pack 1 are 8 Combat Team cards, which replace the original 6 Combat Team markers from the Death Angel game, making it easier to randomise and select your teams.

 

That’s an interesting idea and hopefully now good games that perhaps didn’t fulfill FFG high expectations regarding sales will now get cool new stuff for those players who own them and enjoy them. We would like to see Print on Demand expansions for example for games like Marvel Heroes – The Boardgame or Middle-earth Quest.

The Space Hulk expansions can be ordered here

 

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