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Review: Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 26, 2010

Game: Warhammer 40k: Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2010
Designer: Corey Konieczka
Topic: Fantasy / Sci-Fi (Warhammer 40k universe)
Game Type: Card Game
Contents: 1 rulebook, 18 Action Cards, 2 Brood Lord Cards, 30 Event Cards, 36 Genestealer Cards, 22 Location Cards, 12 Space Marine Cards, 8 Terrain Cards, 12 Support Tokens, 6 Combat team Markers, 1 die

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

 

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 7.5
Playability: 9
Replay Value: 8

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Easy game with interesting mechanics, captures the Space Hulk atmosphere, lots of tactical decisions, can be played solo or with up to six players, good artwork, can be played quickly…
CONTRA …but can also be quite long sometimes, possible quick elimination of players, rules suffer from necessary back and forth flipping, a few points not well explained

 

Introduction

Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game (SHDA) is a new game published by Fantasy Flight Games. It is set in the Warhammer 40.000 universe created by Games Workshop, also known as Warhammer 40K or simply 40K. This is a huge sci-fi gaming universe in a far distant future and several tabletop systems and roleplaying games as well as books are based on this specific setting.

Game components

Space Hulk is one of  the many spin-offs within this universe and a board game published by Games Workshop which deals with  the battle of the Space Marines (a Templar-like order of genetically enhanced super-soldiers who act as a special guard in the military ranks of the Imperium of Man, one of the factions in the 40k universe) against the Genestealers, an aggressive culture of aliens. Generally, the Space Hulk theme is very close to the story of the Alien movies, which are also about a troop of humans dealing with aggressive aliens infesting a space station. A Space Hulk in the 40k universe often is an ancient starship and it is supposed that many of these are drifting around in the far dark corners of the universe. Sometimes, such a vessel is found when it drifts through the territory of the Imperium, and the technology that can be found in these relics is often something that the Imperium is interested in, so when such a space station is found, squads are sent in to gather information, technology blueprints, or similiar things of interest.

But it seems that these old vessels make for a great breeding ground for the Genestealers, so such a trip into the Hulk  usually leads to some serious fighting before the Marines can find the secrets they are after. The aliens reproduce themselves by introducing their genetic code into a host of a different species which eventually leads to the birth of hybrids. More detailed information about the Genestealers can be found in this article.

The board game Space Hulk is actually quite expensive and hard to get (it contains 64 board sections or room tiles, doors, plastic Citadel miniatures and much more stuff ), and we don’t own it. We never played any game based on the 40k universe before and the only game in our collection that comes close to the topic is Doom – The Boardgame. From what I have read so far, it seems that Doom is quite similiar to the theme of Space Hulk, but is not as detailed and rich in gameplay.

Lately, we became very interested in the new LCG format of several card games published by FFG and when Space Hulk Death Angel was announced, we followed the game development very closely because it was announced as a cooperative game – which is something we like in both video games and board/card games. It turned out that SHDA was not another LCG but a ‘normal’ card game, so there’s no starter set followed by several expansions and no deck building involved here. Instead, it’s a stand alone card game, so you get everything you need in the box (although FFG is known for publishing expansions to many if not all of their games, so it might be possible that we will be seeing some add-ons for this game in the future).

Presentation

The game comes in a small box that contains a 31-page full color rule book in the size of the game box, two shrinkwrapped packages of 128 playing cards, a counter sheet with 18 game markers and a red die that has the numbers o-5 and 3 skulls printed on it. There’s no map included since the game uses a more abstract way to create the environment of the Space Hulk.

The strong cards are made of glossy coated cardboard - very good quality

FFG often uses big game boxes where the package is quite spacious compared to the content, probably making room for possible expansions which will follow the basic game, but the SHDA box is exactly of the size the content needs and that may be a sign that no expansions are planned.

The artwork of the box is great and shows the formation of Marines fighting their way through a horde of aliens in a tight corridor. The quality of the contents is very high as well, the cards being thin but nevertheless sturdy and their surface is somewhat roughened so they don’t stick together as it is often the case, especially with new cards. The cards have a good feel right from the start and are protected by a form of glossy coating.

The cards are divided into several card types (actions, Brood Lords, events, Genestealers, locations, Space Marines, and terrain) and they are richly illustrated, so they are able to evoke the specific environment and atmosphere where the game is supposed to take place. The markers, divided into support tokens and combat team markers are also of a good quality, using thick cardboard and nice artwork, too.

Great artworks and top-notch quality is something we actually expect from FFG by now, since every game we own by this publisher is of an excellent production quality – and that’s really where FFG gives you a lot for your money. Of course, a good-looking game doesn’t have to be a good game, so let’s start with the rules to get an impression of what to expect.

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Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Futuristic Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Reviews, Space Hulk:Death Angel, Warhammer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Gaming this weekend: Entering the Space Hulk…

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 4, 2010

The game box is rather small, but the contents of a very high quality and with an attractive artwork

Because I had a rather bad cold, Denny and I couldn’t actually meet and play for the  last 2 weeks (except online on XBox Live for extensive Halo Reach sessions…). This weekend was the first time for us to sit down at our gaming table again.

The week before, we had ordered the new Warhammer 40k game by Fantasy Flight Games: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game which is already out of print as I read recently (surely FFG will re-print  it again rather sooner than later, since it seems to be such a huge success). This weekend’s focus was to learn and play this game. To get into the mood of monster hunting, we also watched Starship Troopers on DVD in the evening, which kinda seemed to match the theme of the game nicely – elite soldiers hunting nasty aliens 🙂

So let me give you just a few thoughts about the game, the review will have to wait until we played a few more games, so stay tuned!

Death Angel is the card based version of the board game Space Hulk (which we haven’t played so far, it’s hard to get for a reasonable price and since we already own Doom – The Boardgame, which seems to be very similiar gameplay-wise, we didn’t have Space Hulk on our radar) but contrary to the latter, Death Angel is a cooperative game. Each player commands one or more teams of Space Marines (depending on the number of players, the game can be played with 1-6 players) which form a military formation that enters a Space Hulk (a term for the remains of an ancient starship or space station) to investigate what’s up in there and to reach and check out a certain location. Players form their formation, they start in a preset location and try to make their way through the Space Hulk, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

a Genestealer swarm

The station is not empty but filled with aggressive aliens called Genestealers and indeed watching the movie Alien gives you a pretty accurate picture of what the Space Marines teams can expect to find in the confined rooms and corridors of the space station.

The game is a bit tricky to learn at first, because the 32-pages-rulebook is often explaining things on several pages, referring to other paragraphs, so you have to flip through the RB  back and forth to get the hang of the mechanics. After the first game, though, you realize that the game is quite easy and not really complicated and you can enjoy the often tough decision-making required to keep your men alive without further referring to the rulebook. If you are curious about the game mechanics, the rulebook can be downloaded here from the official FFG support website (PDF, 1.9 MB).

Setup. The game certainly requires some table space

As you fight spawning swarms of aliens, which tend to come out of the usual ventilation ducts, doors, and dark corners or even sneakily flank you and attack you from behind, you try to make your way to the final location. In this destination location, there’s something you have to do, like activating the launch procedure of a space vessel to get out of there or whatever (usually a task that needs some time to accomplish…) and in the mean time, your number one priority is actually to stay alive.

Each team has 3 Action Cards, but no Action Card can be used twice in a row, so you have to plan ahead

Each player has 3 Action Cards (Support, Move & Activate, Attack) for each of his two-men-teams, and some of the Space Marines have  special abilities as described on the Action Cards – which often come in handy when the formation is in a desperate situation (and there will be many of such situations before you reach your destination…). But be careful – once you used one of the three possible actions, this action can’t be used again in the next game round. So everybody going with guns ablaze when some aliens get in the way isn’t such a good idea because then no one will be able to attack again in the next round – players are required to plan ahead.

The Genestealers spawn in the Event Phase, depending on the location card you are currently in and the terrain cards in play, so the players have to discuss their options and try to support each other  in order to keep the enemy off and to minimize casualties.

Combat is brutally short and simple – the Space Marines hit when they roll a skull on the die (the game uses one  special six-sided die with numbers ranging from 0-5 and 3 skull symbols), killing one alien card of a ‘swarm’ (one or more Genestealer cards in a specific position) – 50% chance of killing one swarm with the attack… Then the Genestealers attack and they will hit when the die is equal to or less than the  number of cards in the attacking swarm – and since the die ranges from 0 to 5, the larger the swarm, the larger the chance of a successful Genestealer attack, and even a lone swarm has a 1/3 chance of success because of the “0” side. Any Space Marine who is successfully attacked is… slain and out of the game immediately! No health bar, no hit points.

A Space Marine card

A swarm can easily move around the formation of Marines or follow the group to a new location, different swarms can merge into a larger swarm or flank a Marine, so it’s quite a task (but essential!) to make sure that such a swarm doesn’t grow too large. A swarm with 5 Genestealer cards will hit – and instantly kill – a Space Marine with every number rolled on the die. Even a swarm with only 3 cards will hit and kill on a 0,1,2 or 3…

Although combat is very brutal (and the game can be short because of this, but doesn’t have to, we played a good deal longer than the 30-60 minutes mentioned on the game box), luckily some Marines have some cool weapons or special abilities which modify the combat in their favour. For example, there’s  the guy with the flamethrower who doesn’t  hit on a skull but uses the actual number rolled to kill a corresponding number of Genestealers, the one with an auto-gun, someone with psychic abilities, or a Marine who is stronger in the defense than in the attack and so on.

If the Event Card has the keyword "Instinct", the current player has to decide alone which Space Marine will be the target of the card effect

Then there’s the Event Card deck which is the “AI” of the game, providing events and spawning and moving aliens. Events most often make the situation worse, but sometimes allow the players a bit of relief in all the tension by giving them more options to get rid of these nasty aliens.

So the formation of battle hardened Space Marines makes their way through the dark corridors of the Space Hulk killing aliens, supporting each other, discussing what to do next, while the players get silent when another brave soldier is ripped apart or they cheer up and laugh when that big swarm actually misses and Brother Claudio gets into berserk mode and kills the entire swarm with his claws.

The game plays very smoothly, has interesting mechanics, requires lots of decision-making  and coordination between players. All players can only win if they are working together and they must make good decisions to achieve that objective. The game provides a good atmosphere, especially if you are a fan of the Warhammer 40k  universe (but knowledge of this universe is not required). If you are able to get a bit “in-character”, it’s a great game experience you can find in that rather small (and inexpensive) box.

Our first impression is very positive and you may wait for our review of the game to learn more – or just go and get it yourself 😉

Posted in Gaming this weekend, Space Hulk:Death Angel, Warhammer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fantasy Flight Games announces new LCG: Lord of the Rings!

Posted by Denny Koch on August 10, 2010

Fantasy Flight Games recently added a new game to the very successful “Living Card Games” family: The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game.

Together with A Game of Thrones, Warhammer Invasion, and Call of Cthulhu, Lord of the Rings will be the fourth card game which will be published in the new LCG distribution format.

What is a Living Card Game?

Living Card Games are customizable dueling card games where players build their own individual decks (of their favorite faction, strategy, sub-theme, focus etc.) and pitch these decks into battle against their opponents’ decks. Deckbuilding, improving and refining the deck is as important as playing the game itself. Players get into the game by buying a Core Pack and then improve their decks by buying monthly expansions which add new cards, new themes, new tactics, and sometimes even new factions or rules to the game.

The card artworks are really nice!

In contrast to a Collectible Card Game (for example Magic: The Gathering), where players buy regular published randomized booster packs without knowing the exact contents of a game, the contents of the expansions for Living Card Games are public knowledge. There are no more “rare” cards which must be hunted by spending hundreds of Dollars for “blind buying” booster packs.

Instead, new contents are added regularly and you can decide in advance whether you need an expansion and whether it adds valuable content to your specific deck and deckbuilding strategy or whether you can skip an add-on. In the end, LCG players will buy all expansions anyway, “just to have them”, but the distribution model is much cheaper than buying lots of booster packs without ever getting the rare cards you are hunting for.

Besides from the distribution model, there is no difference between a Living Card Game and a Collectible Card Game. The card games published so far are all very good and very unique in their game mechanics. I think Lord of the Rings will be a very great addition to the line-up and won’t interfere with the other LCGs.

Plans for the Lord of the Rings LCG

The game layout

In contrast to the other the LCGs, Lord of the Rings will be a 2-player cooperative LCG. A 4-player variant will be possible by using 2 Core Packs. The Core Pack will be released for $39,95 (publishing date yet unknown). The cards will include the famous heroes from the books, artefacts, allies, attachments, weapons and an encounter deck which contains the foes and dangers the players will oppose.

There are only few information available about how the game will work in detail, but I think FFG will publish an introduction video (as they did for their other 3 LCGs). The Core Set will include 216 Cards and will allow for assembling various decks right out of the box (in contrast to the pre-built decks in the A Game of Thrones and Warhammer Invasion Core Packs).

The game appears to be scenario-driven; the Core Packs includes 4 scenarios and offers “near-endless replayability”, according to FFG. Add-Ons will add more stuff regularly in monthly 60-card “Adventure Packs“. The game focuses on four spheres of influence: Leadership, Lore, Spirit, and Tactics. How you build your decks and on which sphere your focus lies is entirely up to you.

Check out the FFG Micro Site for more information. So far, the artworks and design looks really cool, but I expect nothing less from FFG. Their other three LCGs are all great and I like them all.

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Living Card Games, Lord of the Rings, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Game of Thrones LCG: Chapter Packs

Posted by Denny Koch on August 4, 2010

A Game of Thrones is a Living Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games. This means, it’s a highly customizable dueling card game where players build their individual card decks and battle their opponent’s decks.

Players buy a Core Set or starter pack which provides them with the first cards needed to build their custom decks and then add more cards by buying monthly expansions.

The Best of Two Worlds

The only difference between a “Living Card Game” and a “Collectible Card Game” (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh) is the distribution model.

While the classic Collectible Card Games add more contents in the form of randomized “booster packs” with unknown contents, the contents of expansions for Living Card Games are public knowledge, you don’t buy the pig in the sack. Many players are addicted to CCG, just because of the thrill of not knowing what’s inside the next booster pack they buy and the adrenaline rush they feel when hunting for an especially rare card. The downside of this is that CCGs are an incredibly expensive hobby because you have to spend hundreds of Dollars if you need a specific rare card while you get 85 copies of the same cheap card by buying randomized boosters. This is the main reason why players drop out of CCGs, they can’t keep track with new rare cards, and if you are a competetive player, you are almost forced to be up-to-date.

Chapter Packs and Deluxe Expansions

LCGs have a different distribution model. They add new content each month (in A Game of Thrones, these expansions are called Chapter Packs), but each chapter pack contains the same cards. There are no more rare cards and all players have access to all cards anytime. It isn’t your purse and hunting skill which decides the quality of your deck, but your deckbuilding skills alone.

Each Chapter Pack adds additional cards for all six factions and neutral cards, characters, events, support cards, plot cards. In addition, they often introduce new effects, new keywords, new mechanics which allow building of theme decks or decks representing lesser houses or groups, for example the Night’s Watch, House Tully, or the Dothraki.

Chapter packs belong to thematic story cycles and are published monthly. The first packs consisted of 40 fixed cards and cost about 6-7 $. Since it is allowed to have 3 copies of each card in a deck, players often bought several copies of a Chapter Pack (which was still cheaper than buying entire booster stands, but not the idea behind the Living Card Game).

In 2010, Fantasy Flight games listened to the player’s wishes and changed the format of the expansions for all three Living card games (Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Invasion, A Game of Thrones). They now contain 60 cards with 3 copies of each card. This leads to a slightly higher retain price, but with around 10$, they are still affordable once a month.

Besides the monthly chapter packs, once in a while FFG publishes Deluxe Expansions. These are shipped in a larger box (similar to the Core Set) and contain additional factions and larger add-ons for themed decks.

Ownership of the Core Pack is always required.

List of Chapter Packs (CP) and Expansions

  • Core Set

De Luxe Expansions

    Chapter Pack "The Wildling Horde"

  • Kings of the Sea, adding House Greyjoy as a new major faction
  • Princes of the Sun, adding House Martell as a new major faction
  • Lords of Winter, concentrating on House Stark, adding new characters and deckbuilding strategies
  • Kings of the Storm, concentrating on House Baratheon, Storm’s End and the three brothers Robert, Stannis, and Renly, includes two new theme decks (Power Rush and Knights of the Realm) (not yet published)

Chapter Pack Subcollection: A Clash of Arms

  • CP1: The War of the Five Kings
  • CP2: Ancient Enemies
  • CP3: Sacred Bonds
  • CP4: Epic Battles
  • CP5: Battle of Ruby Ford
  • CP6: Calling the Banners

Chapter Pack Subcollection: A Time of Ravens

  • CP7: A Song of Summer
  • CP8: The Winds of Winter
  • CP9: A Change of Seasons
  • CP10: The Raven’s Song
  • CP11: Refugees of War
  • CP12: Scattered Armies

Chapter Pack Subcollection: King’s Landing

  • CP13: City of Secrets
  • CP14: A Time of Trials
  • CP15: The Tower of the Hand
  • CP16: Tales from the Red Keep
  • CP17: Secrets and Spies
  • CP18: The Battle of Blackwater Bay

Chapter Pack Subcollection: Defenders of the North

  • CP19: Wolves of the North, focus on Night’s Watch and the Wall
  • CP20: Beyond the Wall, adds Free Folk and creatures from the woods beyond the Wall
  • CP21: A Sword in the Darkness, new version of Jon Snow, adds Stallward Shield and Orell the Eagle
  • CP22: The Wildling Horde, adds forces of Wildlings
  • CP23: A King in the North, adds Margery Tyrell (Baratheon), Osha (Stark)
  • CP24: Return of the Others, adds Others, Mance Rayder, Melisandre, Old Bear Mormont, Balerion the Black

Chapter Pack Subcollection: Brotherhood without Banners

With this subcollection, FFG changed the format to 60 cards per Chapter pack. The cycle introduces the “Neutral house card”  and allows deckbuilding without a house affiliation.

  • CP25: Illyrio’s Gift, features characters Barric Dondarrion, Edric Dayne, Rakharo
  • CP26: Rituals of R’hllor, Melisandre of Asshai and Stannis, a new sect of zealots
  • CP27: Mountains of the Moon, mountain clansmen
  • CP28: A Song of Silence
  • CP29: Of Snakes and Sand
  • CP30: Dreatfort Betrayal

Chapter Pack Subcollection: Secrets of Oldtown

  • CP31: Gates of the Citadel
  • CP32: Forging the Chain
  • CP33: Called by the Conclave

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Introduction to A Game of Thrones – The Card Game

Posted by Denny Koch on August 4, 2010

A Game of Thrones – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. It is the successor of A Game of Thrones – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) which started in 2002 and was discontinued in 2007 when the distribution format was changed into a Living Card Game format.

The game is based on George R. R. Martin‘s “A Song of Ice and Fire” story circle, an epic story taking place on the fictitious continent of Westeros where several nobel houses struggle for the Iron Throne. The story is rich with intrigues, battles, espionage, treachery, and of course war. Many hundreds of characters, groups, organizations, sword brotherhoods, and secret societies shape the fate of the medieval world, combined with some low-fantasy aspects, for example dragons and other mysterious creatures.

Author George R. R. Martin is very protective of his universe and therefore the Card Game is true to the story. You can find your favorite houses, characters, and groups and all of them are represented in a very distinctive manner. As a side note, HBO currently produces a mini series based on the books which will be aired in 2011.

A Game of Thrones (“the only game that matters”) is the first book of a series of 7 books. Four are already published (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows), the release of the fifth (A Dance with Dragons) is scheduled for September 2010.

You can play the game without knowing the books and any of the characters, but you will miss a lot of fun and many important aspects of the game if you don’t know who’s who. You should at least read book No. 1, “A Game of Thrones” before starting, this will highly enhance the experience. You should keep in mind that you have to decide on ONE house, and only knowing the houses and their characteristics, their enemies and their affiliations from the books will reveal the true depth of the game to you. By the way, you should also read the books if you don’t intend to play the game… they are highly addictive 😉

What’s the difference between a Living Card Game and a Collectible Card Game?

(Please forgive me if I “steal” some information in this paragraph from my Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game. ;))

A Magic Booster, containing 15 random cards

The main game concept is identical: players choose factions and then try to build a powerful deck to “beat” other players’ decks. This genre is known as “Dueling Card Games“. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic rule set for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies in one deck etc.), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“.

In contrast to a traditional Collectible Card Game or Trading Card Game (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon), the Living Card Game breaks away from the Collectible model.

In a Collectible Card Game, you have to buy booster packs if you want to improve your deck and if you want to find rare and powerful cards. You don’t know the specific contents of a booster pack, though, so it can happen that you have to spend $100 for a very rare card while finding 85 copies of a cheap card. Since most game systems regularly publish new booster packs, you have to spend a huge amount of money if you want to stay up-to-date and if you want to improve your deck and counter other players’ new cards.

This “blind buy” purchase model is the most problematic aspect of Collectible Card Games. The collecting and the thrill of buying new booster packs without knowing what’s inside can be somewhat addictive, so often players are forced to quit the hobby because they cannot keep up the pace and spend too much money in buying useless boosters with multiple copies of cheap cards they already possess. If you want to play competitive, you are forced to invest your money in booster packs or to pay tremendous prices for specific cards sold on eBay.

The Chapter Pack "Ancient Enemies", part of the "A Clash of Arms" sub-collection

A Living Card Game (LCG) offers a new card distribution model. Instead of selling randomized booster packs, cards are sold in fixed add-on packs. The content of such a pack is public knowledge and fixed. In A Game of Thrones – the Card Game, these add-ons are called “Chapter Packs“. They are published monthly and belong to certain “sub-collections” which focus on different aspects of the game. They bring  in more characters and other aspects of the books (locations, groups, weapons, creatures, events). You don’t have to buy all Chapter Packs, if you don’t want to, but you can choose which packs would really improve your favorite faction, your deck focus or your strategy – and which packs are not really helpful for your individual style.

Most players buy all Chapter Packs nevertheless, just to “have them all”, but this doesn’t hurt as much as buying booster packs in the CCG format.

Chapter Packs are very thematic and deal with a major storyline from the books (Nights Watch vs. Wildlings, the events from King’s Landing when Eddard Stark became the King’s Hand up to the Battle of Blackwater, the Brotherhood without Banners…). They also allow for building very thematic decks, for example decks centered around the Night’s Watch, Kingsguard, minor houses, certain traits or characters.

Chapter Packs cost about 7-11 $, depending on the shop where you buy them, and that’s it. You don’t have to hunt a rare card anymore, you simply order the Pack with your favorite cards on amazon or buy it in your local game store. Even if you are a hardcore competitive player who duels on tournaments, you don’t have to buy more than three copies of each Chapter Pack because you aren’t allowed to have more than 3 copies of each card in a single deck anyway. Publisher FFG even listened to their fans – the newer Chapter Packs contain three copies of each card, so there’s absolutely no need to buy more than one copy of each Chapter Pack any more.

Besides from the different distribution model, a LCG still offers the same dynamic customizable game play as a CCG. You can customize and build your perfect deck, but without the blind purchase model. In the end, the LCG model gives you the best of both worlds.

What’s A Game of Thrones – The Card Game?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in A Game of Thrones, Fantasy Games A-Z, Living Card Games | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Warhammer Invasion LCG: Battle Packs

Posted by Denny Koch on July 27, 2010

Jump to “List of Battle Packs”

Warhammer Invasion is a “Living Card Game” (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. This means, it’s a collectible, customizable dueling card game where players build their individual card decks and battle other opponents’ decks.

The Best of Two Worlds

The only difference to a “Collectible Card Game” (CCG) – for example Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh-, is the distribution model for additional cards. In contrast to the classic Collectible Card Games, you don’t blind-buy randomized booster packs with unknown contents. Instead of that, you buy  monthly expansions called “Battle Packs” with fixed contents which are public knowledge. You don’t have to “hunt” for very rare cards anymore, probably spending hundreds of $ on blind-buying random booster packs.

Each Battle Pack adds some cards to each faction and some neutral cards and most of them deal with a specific aspect of the game (for example new sub-themes like Skaven, combat effects, keywords, locations, spells..). If you want more cards for your deck, you  can check out which Battle Pack offers the best contents for you and your specific playing style and strategy. If you want to counter a specific weakness of your deck, or if you need tools against a certain opponent, or if you want to create a theme deck with a certain focal point or strategy, you can check out which Battle Pack includes cards that will provide the desired effects to optimize your personal deck.

Ultimately, you will buy all expansion packs nevertheless, just to be more flexible and to “own them all” because also in a LCG the collectible aspect is quite addictive, but at least you don’t have to spend $100 in search for one rare card while getting 85 copies of the same cheap card in return. There’s simply more bang for your buck in the LCG format.

In a LCG, you always know what you get for your money, but you can still profit from the basic concept of deck building by choosing “your” favorite cards. The only difference to a CCG is that no cards are “rare” cards anymore, all players have access to the same cards and expansion packs and all cards have fixed prices. So it all comes down to your deckbuilding strategies, your gameplay and your choices of which characters, items, or events you take into the battle.

Core Set and Battle Packs

A Dark Elf from the Assault on Ulthuan de Luxe expansion

In 2009, Fantasy Flight Games released a “Core Set” which contained 4 pre-built decks (220 cards) and all components you need for the game (4 Capitals / strongholds, resource markers, burn tokens, damage tokens, a full-colored rulebook). The Core Pack includes 4 of the 6 factions; the last two factions (High Elves and Dark Elves) can be added to the game with a large De Luxe expansion, containing Capital boards and starter decks for the last two factions.

Players can get a first impression of the game by playing the Core Pack, by choosing one of the 4 balanced pre-built faction decks and by learning about their strengths and weaknesses. If they like the game and decide that they want to delve deeper into the hobby, they decide which factions or strategies they want to utilize in the future and start deck building by supplementing the core game with Battle Packs.

New Battle Packs are released regularly (roughly one per month). They belong to “Story cycles” which add more flavor to the game, add races, creatures, buildings, and weapons from the Warhammer Fantasy universe and allow for deep customization. Since their contents are fixed, players know what they get in advance and can decide whether a specific Battle Pack would be a good addition for their decks.

The first 6 Battle Packs (Corruption Cycle) consist of 20 different cards, 2 copies each (for a total of 40 cards). Since players tend to build decks containing multiple copies of a single card (the game allows for a maximum of three copies per card), they often bought each Battle Pack two times. This is somewhat contra productive to the “lower costs compared to a CCG” concept of a Living Card Game, so with the second story cycle, Fantasy Flight Games changed the contents of Battle Packs to 20 unique cards in triplicate copy (for a total of 60 cards), starting with the Enemy Cycle.

Battle Packs are not too expensive ($6-10 Dollars, depending on the shop) and can be bought in various game shops and from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, or amazon.de.

List of Battle Packs (BP) and Deluxe Expansions

  • Core Set

De Luxe Expansions:

  • Assault on Ulthua (Dark Elves & High Elves)
  • March of the Damned (neutral forces, Lizardmen, Vampire Counts, new keywords “Savage” and “Necromancy”)

The Corruption Cycle:

  • BP1: The Skavenblight Thread, introduces the Skaven
  • BP2: Path of the Zealot, adds zealots of Order
  • BP3: Tooth and Claw, adds Rat Ogres of Moulder clan
  • BP4: The Deathmaster’s Dance, adds Deathmaster Sniktch
  • BP5: The Warpstone Chronicles, focus on ancient relics of the Old World
  • BP6: Arcane Fire, focus on spells and arcane magic

The Enemy Cycle:

  • BP7: The Burning of Derricksburg, Battle for the town of Derricksburg
  • BP8: The Fall of Karak Grimaz, Orcs attacking the Dwarven hold
  • BP9: The Silent Forge, High Elves discover the Dark Elves’ secret forge
  • BP10: Redemption of A Mage, adds powerful Dwarves runes, “Mage” and “Knight” keywords for the Empire
  • BP11: The Fourth Waystone
  • BP12: Bleeding Sun

The Morrslieb Cycle:

  • BP13: Omens of Ruin
  • BP14: The Chaos Moon
  • BP15: The Twin Tailed Comet
  • BP16: Signs in the Stars

Excel Sheets, called “Spoiler Lists” are available for all Battle Packs. Check out the Warhammer Invasion File Section on Boardgamegeek!

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Introduction to Warhammer: Invasion (LCG)

Posted by Denny Koch on July 26, 2010

Warhammer: Invasion – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). In contrast to the other LCGs by FFG (Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game and A Game of Thrones), Warhammer Invasion isn’t the re-launch of a former Collectible Card Game but an entirely new series.

The game is based on the Warhammer Universe by Games Workshop and was designed by Eric M. Lang.

What’s a Living Card Game?

A Living Card Game is a fully customizable dueling card game, where players create their own custom decks which support their favorite tactics, and deck theme. They choose one or more factions and create a deck of a given number of cards. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic rule set for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies of each cord in one deck etc.), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“ which utilizes or exploits the different strengths and weaknesses of game factions. This deck is then pitted in battles against the opponent’s custom deck.

 

Battle Packs add additional cards to the Core game and allow for deck customization

In contrast to a Collectible Card Game (CCG) or Trading Card Game (TCG) (for example Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon) where new cards are added by buying so-called randomized “Booster Packs”, Living Card Games start with a fixed set of cards in a Starter Pack and fixed expansions. While you don’t know the contents of a CCG booster pack (thus probably spending hundreds of Dollars in search for a very rare card), you always know the contents of the LCG starter pack and all expansion packs. New booster packs are constantly added to a CCG card system, so you have to spend a huge amount of money if you are a competitive player who wants to be “up-to-date” with all-powerful and rare cards. This “blind buy” model of CCGs is somewhat problematic because it burns a lot of money while you find copies and copies of the same cheap cards over and over again while you are searching for the “one” powerful new rare card. Nevertheless, CCGs are quite popular, mostly because the thrill of “not knowing what’s inside” is somewhat addictive to many players.

The Living Card Game has a different distribution model – the expansions (=new cards) are not sold in booster packs with random contents but in fixed add-ons (called Battle Pack, Asylum Pack, Chapter Pack or Adventure Pack, depending on the game). These are published regularly (usually once a month) and the contents are public knowledge. You don’t buy the pig in the poke, but you know exactly which cards you will get when you buy a certain expansion pack. If you don’t want to buy all packs but are only looking for some specific effects in order to make your deck stronger or to counter an unbeatable opponent, you can do some research of which cards are available for your favorite faction(s) and then buy specific expansions which will support your deck and individual playing style. Since the costs for such an expansion are moderate (about 10 $ for 60 cards), most LCG players will buy all expansions anyway, but it’s still much cheaper than buying tons of booster packs without knowing if you will ever get the card you are looking for.

Besides from the distribution model, there is no difference in gameplay and deck-building and customization between a CCG and a LCG. You still buy more cards, you customize your individual deck and you want to find the “ultimate weapon” against your opponent’s decks. So LCGs give you the best of both worlds.

For more information on the Difference between CCGs and LCGs, you should also have a look at our  introductory article to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games.

I own Call of Cthulhu / A Game of Thrones. Do I really need another LCG, aren’t they alike?

If you are afraid that Warhammer: Invasion is just a Call of Cthulhu or A Game of Thrones clone simply in a different setting, you can rest assured that this ain’t the case. All three LCGs are actually very different from each other and they are entirely new games. Of course they share certain similarities (which all CCGs / LCGs / TCGs do), but their game mechanics, factions, objectives, and rules are absolutely different and not interchangeable.

Many players who like dueling card games play two or all three  of the LCGs – because they are all great and very special. All three LCGs are good  representations of their portrayed universe and you won’t ever confuse the games or the rules.

What’s Warhammer: Invasion – The Card Game?

 

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Review: Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG) Core Set

Posted by Denny Koch on May 31, 2010

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2008
Designers: Eric M. Lang, Nate French
Topic: Fantasy / H.P. Lovecraft Universe
Game Type: Living Card Game (LCG)
Contents: 1 rulebook, 140 faction cards, 15 neutral cards, 6 Cthulhu miniatures, 1 mounted mapboard, 24 Story markers

HFC Game-O-Meter: D


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 10
Rules: 6
Playability:
7
Replay Value:
6

Overall Rating: 7

Important! This review deals with the Core Set exclusively – and the question of how suitable it is as a standalone game played “out of the box”. It doesn’t rate the entire CoC LCG game system (Core Sets+expansions) or the general gameplay of the CoC LCG, only the contents of the Core Set “as is”!

PRO Introductory game for a LCG system that can be played “out of the box” without purchasing further cards, components are of a high quality, great artwork, Lovecraftian atmosphere, short playing time, 7 very different factions…
CONTRA …which cannot be exploited with the 20 cards per faction contained in the core set, no custom deck building, balancing issues with some combinations, official FAQ required (card errata, clarifications)

Introduction

Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game is an offspring of the Call of Cthulhu franchise. Initially, it was a Collectible Card Game where players had to buy random booster packs in order to build and improve their decks. In 2008, publisher Fantasy Flight Games decided to change the game concept into a “Living Card Game” where players still build and improve their individual card decks, but they don’t have to spend large amounts of money in buying randomized card packs with unknown contents in search for the rarest and most powerful cards.

Instead, the game is supplemented by the monthly release of “Asylum Packs” which contain cards for all seven factions as well as neutral cards. Their contents are fixed and public knowledge, so all players have access to all cards all the time. This provides for fair chances in deck building because there are no more “rare” cards as secret weapons and whether your deck is a success or an epic failure depends on your deck building skills and on how many Asylum Packs you buy.

If you want to start with Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game, you only have to buy the “Core Set” first, which serves as a starter pack. You can play it “out of the box” without buying further cards, if you want to get an impression of the game and if you want to decide whether you like the game concept. If you are a casual player and only want to play the game from time to time with friends or family members, you could probably be content with the Core Set alone, without ever buying any add-ons. It contains 20 cards for each of the 7 factions in the game, and 15 additional neutral cards which are divided between the two players. You simply choose two factions of your choice, combine their cards to a deck, add 7 neutral cards and you are ready to fight your opponent, who does the same. Combining 2 factions and fighting 2 other factions allows for 21 different decks with 105 different combat constellations.

This review deals with the Core Pack and how deep the gaming experience with the basic starter set – without any additional cards! – really is. It doesn’t deal with the “Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game” system in general!

If you are interested in more details about the Call of Cthulhu LCG, the game mechanics, Asylum Packs, and basic gameplay, please check out our introductory article: An Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG). I won’t repeat the basics here, but concentrate on reviewing the Core Set and its value as a standalone game.

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Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG)

Posted by Denny Koch on May 13, 2010

Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. It is the successor of Call of Cthulhu – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) which was discontinued when the new format was introduced in 2008.

What’s the difference between a Living Card Game and a Collectible Card Game?

The main game concept is identical: players choose factions and then try to build a powerful deck which will “beat” other players’ decks. This genre is known as “Dueling Card Games“. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic ruleset for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies in one deck), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“.

In contrast to a traditional Collectible Card Game or Trading Card Game (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon), the Living Card Game breaks away from the Collectible Card Game model.

A Magic Booster, containing 15 random cards

In a Collectible Card Game, you have to buy booster packs if you want to improve your deck and if you want to find rare and powerful cards. You don’t know the specific contents of a booster pack, though, so it can happen that you have to spend $100 for a very rare card while finding 85 copies of a cheap card. Since most game systems regularly publish new booster packs, you have to spend a huge amount of money if you want to stay up-to-date and if you want to improve your deck and counter other players’ new cards.

This “blind buy” purchase model is the most problematic aspect of Collectible Card Games. The collecting and the thrill of buying new booster packs without knowing what’s inside can be somewhat addictive, so often players are forced to quit the hobby because they cannot keep up the pace and spend too much money in buying useless boosters with multiple copies of cheap cards they already possess. If you want to play competitive, you are forced to invest your money in booster packs or to pay tremendous prices for specific cards sold on eBay.

A Living Card Game (LCG) offers a new card distribution model. Instead of selling randomized booster packs, cards are sold in fixed add-on packs. The contents of such a pack are public knowledge and fixed. In Call of Cthulhu, these add-ons are called “Asylum Packs”. They are published monthly and belong to certain “story cycles” with focus on different aspects of the game: focus on certain battle types (terror, combat, arcane, investigation), characters, locations, or skills. You don’t have to buy all Asylum Packs, if you don’t want to. Instead, you can choose which packs would really improve your factions or your deck or your strategy – and which are worthloss for your individual style.

Most players buy all Asylum Packs nevertheless, just to “have them all”, but this doesn’t hurt as much as buying booster packs. One Asylum Pack costs about 7-11 $, depending on the shop where you buy them, and that’s it. You don’t have to hunt a rare card anymore, you simply order the Asylum Pack with your favorite card on amazon or buy it in your local game store. Even if you are a hardcore competetive player who duels on tournaments, you don’t have to buy more than three copies of each Asylum Pack because you aren’t allowed more than 3 copies of each card in a single deck. If you play Highlander format (“there can be only one”, no more than one copy of each card per game), one of each Asylum Packs is more than enough. Publisher FFG even listened to their fans – the newer Asylum Packs contain three copies of each card, so there’s absolutely no need to buy more than one copy of each Asylum Pack any more.

Besides from the different distribution model, a LCG still offers the same dynamic customizable game play as a CCG. You can customize and build your perfect deck, but without the blind purchase model. In the end, the LCG model gives you the best of both worlds.

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Review: Marvel Heroes (FFG)

Posted by Denny Koch on May 11, 2010

Game: Marvel Heroes

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2006
Designers: Francesco Nepitello, Marco Maggi, Roberto Di Meglio, Salvatore Pierucci
Era: Alternative Reality (Marvel Universe)
Contents:1 Game Board, 16 Super Hero Figures, 4 Mastermind Villain Figures, 8 Dice, 12 Master Plan Cards, 24 Story Cards, 36 Headline Cards,12 Team Power-Up Cards, 50 Resource Cards, 10 Scenario Cards, 50 Villain Cards, 4 Team Reference Cards, 16 Super Hero Reference Cards, 4 Mastermind Villain Reference Cards, 1 First Player Token, 1 Archnemesis Token, 12 Combat Power Tokens, 1 Game Round Marker, 1 Action Round Marker, 4 Team Victory Point Markers, 13 Super Hero Wound/KO Tokens, 36 Threat Tokens, 52 Plot Point Tokens, 1 Trouble Level Track Marker, Game Rules

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9 (9*)
Rules: 6 (6*)
Playability:
8 (5*)
Replay Value:
8 (5*)
Overall Rating:
8 (6*)

*Note: Rating (1-10) game with fixed Fantastic Four and clarified rules; Rating in brackets: game “out of the box” with unfixed F4 and rulebook

PRO Great presentation, very close to the comic books with authentic Marvel flair. Detailed and hand-painted miniatures, clever mechanics. The most important super heroes and factions are included in the game; good overall balance between X-Men, Marvel Knights and Avengers with tricky characters; strategic/tactical depth and variety
CONTRA The Fantastic 4 are out of balance and definitely overpowered; the rules contain many “black holes” and use imprecise wording; game is in fact a 2-3 players game because the F4 override the mechanics, playing these “Über-heroes” isn’t funny and interesting at all, rules clarifying and fixing required in order to play the game

Introduction: What is the game about?

One of the 4 "Mastermind Villains": Dr Doom

“Marvel Heroes” is a strategy board game based on the classic 616-Marvel Universe. Two to four superhero teams (X-Men, Marvel Knights, Avengers and the Fantastic Four) compete against each other in solving “headlines” while simultaneously fighting their respective Nemesis (Magneto, Kingpin, Red Skull and Dr. Doom) and other major and minor villains.

The main task is to deal with threats appearing all over New York City; these threats are of different types and difficulty levels. Each team consists of four members with certain strengths, weaknesses, super powers and special areas of expertise. In addition, each team member can be used either as an active fighter or as a supporter, which has a strong impact on their special abilities and roles in combat.

If you decide to fight a threat, you first try to lower the “Trouble Level” by using your different talents and abilities in the respective NYC district. Based on the final Trouble Level, a prominent lead villain from the Marvel Universe appears at the scene, often supported by other villains. Your task is to fight these villains by using your special powers against the villains’ special powers and to beat them in the fields “attack”, “defense”, and “outwit”.

Some hero miniatures: Spiderman, Dr Strange, Captain America, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm, Cyclops

Sometimes, a “Mastermind” is behind a threat – i.e. the super villain and Nemesis of the respective team. He can boost his subordinates and give them more advantages. After finishing off his infantry, the superhero team has to face the Mastermind himself. Over the course of the game, these Masterminds try to achieve a “Master Plan” consisting of three parts, while the superhero teams try to amass victory points by solving threats. Each player controls a superhero team as well as the Archenemy of another team. Due to this mechanic, all players are permanently involved in the game and have many ways of influencing the events and developments on the map. The final victory condition depends on the current scenario. In most cases, the game ends when a team collects a certain number of victory points or after a fixed number of game rounds.

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