Jul 252014
 

Firefly1

Joss Whedon’s Ultimate Misbehavior Is Lifting Ideas From Other Games

By Peter Ruth II

The world of the TV show Firefly, and the fiction surrounding it, is quite a far cry from your average Sci-Fi, with an odd, kind-of-mystic, pseudo Western/Chinese vibe. As I’m sure you know, the show was incredibly popular, but apparently not so much that it could last more than one season plus a movie, but that hasn’t stopped a subculture of fans from reliving its short-lived glory. Enter Firefly: The Board Game, licensed to Gale Force Nine, who up until relatively recently pretty much made its name as a tabletop war game publisher. They seem to have a thing for licensed IP because they’ve made this and one other board game, based on another show, which is still incredibly popular and well-received by the hobby game community. Firefly seems to be doing the same thing, for the most part, and at GenCon last year people were going fully bat crazy over it. The truth is that sometimes people want something to be better than it is because they like the theme or license, as can be attested to by a litany of really crappy Star Trek computer games.

The thing about this game is that I feel as if I’ve played it several times before, but the oCardsther times it was called Runebound, Return of the Heroes, and Merchants of Venus. See, there’s nothing remotely new about this game, to be honest, because it’s essentially a portmanteau of a bunch of other games, with a Firefly-branded theme slapped on. As much as I liked the show, I really am a little disappointed because while the game is sort of fun, it’s just that it’s so much like other games I’ve played that it feels like I’m walking the same old ground. The base game, even with the “Breakin’ Atmo” expansion which is just a small deck of cards with more stuff to buy and people to hire, amounts to running around doing pick-up-and-deliver missions with a skill check at the end. With some missions, there’s not even a skill check, you just declare it complete and that’s it. All in all, it’s just not that engaging or exciting because it’s just not that different from other stuff I’ve played. There’s very little player-on-player action unless you get the latest expansion “Pirates and Bounty Hunters”, which I own, and I think that it’s omission from the game’s launch was either a huge misstep or a marketing calculation to sell you new stuff down the road, knowing that it’s like Tribble Crap…if it’s licensed, it will always sell.

That said, this latest expansion changes the base game profoundly, allowing you to steal other players’ crews, kill, murder, maim, pirate, and basically be a dirty, rotten scoundrel for a living. I was much colder on the game before I had this, but considering that I’m about $80.00 USD deep in the game at this point, I’m quite pleased to say that we really dug the game a lot more when we added it in. It quite ably brings CashMoneyBitchesthe game up to the level of “something new and exciting”, and more importantly, it does so without adding bullshit, chrome rules that add complexity for complexity’s sake.  It’s quite surprising that one little expansion could make such a difference, especially when it doesn’t change the basic premise of the game.

Pairing with the new PvP action are new cards and jobs that are indisputably criminal and nefarious, not to mention that it adds the single most interesting character from the entire show, the bounty hunter Jubal Early. Two new ships are in the mix as well, one of which is essentially a Firefly version of Slave One, with the other being a great big, slow, unwieldy cargo ship for doing a bunch of legitimate, or not so legitimate, cargo runs. All said, I would likely have traded Firefly and the first expansion away for something else had I not bought this expansion on the recommendation of the Grand Poobah of Ameritrash Criticism, Michael Barnes. So compelling was his argument that despite his continual execration of the Euro classic game, Stone Age, I could no longer demur and bought in, despite my lingering reservations about the play quality of the base game. I hate it when he’s right, and I hate it more when I agree with him.

Now, if there’s one thing that can be said about this game and its expansions, it’s that the components are top notch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen paper money that was so outstandingly illustrated, to begin with, and the little plastic ships are pretty cool too, despite the players’ ships being identical in all but color, unless you include the new ships from Pirates and Bounty Hunters. The cards are all illustrated well, with the backs being really nice looking and the fronts being printed with images from the show, and with legible, understandable text, complete with colored and highlighted key words. I wish more games would do that. The board is probably the weakest point, with it having a total mess of space delineations. Sometimes you just have to kind of wing it because there’s no real guidance as to which space is considered to be in a specific area, and it matters because some jobs require you to go to that area, but you’re not sure which planet is the target. All in all, they could’ve done better there, but that said, we just house ruled it and moved on.

Firefly_Leader_EarlyGameplay is quite brisk, and even then, the game can be an hour for a two player game or three hours for a four player game. Turns amount to players taking a couple of actions, in turn, which can include moving one space, moving several spaces and drawing cards each turn to determine if bad stuff happens, buying and selling, or completing jobs. Some jobs are legal and simple, but the illegal jobs such as hauling fugitives or contraband across the galaxy are not. There’s a sort of police force in the game, but it’s really just there to annoy you and screw your plans up, and honestly, the Alliance Cruiser which represents the cops doesn’t shot up very often, especially since it can only travel the inner part of the board. Now, the outer part of the board can be particularly nasty because there’s a Reaver ship, representing space anarchists of a sort, that also occasionally shows up at your doorstep to kill and steal everything you’ve got. The card-flipping mechanism is a little bit interesting in that there’s a tension you feel because it triggers the cops and Reavers, but it also tends to slow the game pace down a little. The whole card-flipping thing is removed in a two player game, and I think that accounts for the brevity of the game when playing in that format.

The real meat of the game, though, is doing jobs and earning a space buck. These are initiated by talking with contacts, strewn about the galaxy, and simply choosing them from the discard deck. This looking at the discards is a neat way to ensure that you know what’s available at all times, and this is a lot like Runebound in that sense, but with Firefly, this applies to jobs as well as items and people to buy. Once you’ve got the mission, you are told to go somewhere for the first leg, then go somewhere and do something else on the second leg, at which point you’re paid for a job well done. There’s a reputation system at play so when you do a job, you become “solid” with a contact, and end up getting more options. Some jobs, however, are highly dubious and require one or more skill checks, initiated by drawing a “Misbehave” card. Some require you to have certain items or skills just to start them, and many are incredibly tough because they have high bogeys to hit via a die roll and then adding your workers’ skills of a type. All in all, there’s not much new here but it works, is simple, and is pretty fun.

Basically, if you like Runebound, this will probably be a nice change of scenery while being a very similar game, eFirefly-Shipsspecially if you like Runebound and always yearned for a simpler, English version of Return of the Heroes. There’s a lot to like here, especially if you’re going to buy the base game and the expansions in one fell swoop. I can’t say that I’d be recommending this without the Pirates and Bounty Hunters expansion, because it’s such a retread of what I’ve already played ad infinitum, but I think the Circus as a whole is pretty split on that matter. Some players really dug it, and those were unanimously the same ones that never played Runebound. My wife and I both were very tepid, having played Runebound so very many times, but once I introduced the expansion, we both agreed that the “missing piece” that could make the game shine was now present. The short version is that we intend to keep flyin’ for a good long time, but we’re a little miffed that we had to have an expansion to get to that point. To add to this, there’s yet another expansion that’s releasing at GenCon, Blue Sun. It appears to add a new side-board of sorts to expand the space you can explore, which is a good thing, because once Jubal Early starts flying around, space gets very small, very fast.

Why I’d Wear A Brown Coat, Even If It Was Made Of Poo:

  • Production values are absolutely dynamite, especially with the paper money
  • Replay value is there, for sure, because there’s a ton of cards
  • Brisk pace ensures that there’s the perfect amount of downtime
  • Very few expansions have ever done so much with so little
  • Two Words: Jubal Early. Does that seem right to you?

Why That Brown Coat Is Probably Made Of Poo:

  • The base game is lackluster and feels very samey in relation to older games
  • The wee player ships are identical, except in color, which kind of sucks
  • Card-drawing during long moves mostly serves simply to slow the game down
  • How many pick-up-and-deliver jobs can you do before you just get worn down?
  • It’s really hard to fit everything in one box if you have both existing expansions

Overall:

The base game could be great for someone who hasn’t played similar games, but it’s certainly not going to replace Runebound in my collection anytime soon. The first expansion was also quite lackluster and uninspired, but does add a few interesting items and characters. The latest, though, is that whole “you complete me” kind of expansion that I can’t help but wish was in the base game to begin with. I can’t recommend the game highly based on the base game, but when you toss in Pirates and Bounty Hunters, all of the sudden this is a game that has some teeth, which is kind of odd, since it is essentially retains the same pick-up-and-deliver core, while adding a big dose of “screw you”, and making traveling near other players quite dangerous.

Rating (Base w/ Breakin’ Atmo expansion):

3/5 Stars

Final Rating (Base with all expansions):

4.25/5 Stars

Learn more about the Firefly game here, at Gale Force Nine’s page:

http://www.fireflythegame.com/

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Jul 232014
 

Revolver-Box-376x372[1]By Peter Ruth II

I know I’m late in reviewing this, but nobody has ever really talked much about this one, so here I am, a year after first playing it, talking about it. Let’s just get one thing straight: I really don’t like very many card games. I’m a board gamer, and these deck building games, trick taking games, and other card-based games just don’t do it for me, by and large. Some card games can transcend their disability (read: being a card game) with me because they’re not quite card games, really, such as Summoner Wars or Trick or Treat, and it’s that way because they’re not really card games as much as a poor man’s board game because the cards are really more like flat, rectangular units or locations.

Well, when “Dangerous” Dave Roswell, a dear friend I met at Fortress: Ameritrash, turned me onto it, my first thought was, “Crap. Another card game I won’t like.” It turns out that not only is the game very good, it’s so much different than many of the card games that I’ve played, both in style and play, that it might actually be one of the best card games I’ve ever played. It is so good, in fact, that I just bought a second copy to replace the one I got from Dave and subsequently loaned to my friend Chris, knowing I’d probably never ask for it back. Only a very solid game would cause me to own it not once, but twice, especially when it’s a card game in one of those abhorrent tins that doesn’t seem to fit well on a shelf full of games.

Revolver, from Stronghold Games, has an “American Wild West” theme which is both very different than the usual fare (read: not zombies or generic fantasy tropes) and truly exudes a Wild West feel. Being a two-player game, it pits the good guy”Colonel” player and his posse against the “Outlaw” player in a game that’s part battle and part racing against the clock. There’s several cards in the tin which represent locations and have a sort of timer mechanism printed on them. These represent the battlefields which the two players will battle over for around four turns, until the time runs out and you move to the next. You simply place cards with icons on them on your side of the battlefield, the other player does the same, and then you see who has more hits. If the good guys do, the bad guys lose one of their gang members, but if the bad guys do, they get one step closer to escaping across the Mexican Border. 

It’s a very simple game, mechanically, but there’s a lot of strategy that goes into it because many cards cause special effects to happen which bolster your side’s ability to make war upon the other. Some allow you to play extra cards, some block the opponent’s ability to place cards on a battlefield, some give you auto-kills of the bad guys, and a whole lot more. I was kind of surprised how much I liked the game, and it has a very different feel to it. It almost feels like a John Clowdus game in some ways (which is a good thing), but without the multiple-purpose cards. The best part is that it only takes maybe 30 minutes or so to play, and setup only takes about 3 minutes, if that. I’ve brought my wee tin all over the place, and I’ve played it with friends and the wife over dinner at restaurants, at the park while the kids attempted to shatter all the bones in their bodies on the jungle gym, and so on. 

From a value perspective, I think it’s a pretty slick deal because at around $20.00, it will provide you with a whole lot of fun. I’ve probably played it 10 times at this point, and I’m still all about playing it again. Carp, the kids are at their aunt’s house for the next couple of weeks, so me and the missus are going to be all over this at night when we’re about half in the bag thanks to Mr. Tanqueray and Stella Artois. It’s also worth mentioning thaRevolver Ned[1]t the art is actually pretty damned good, and the components are top quality, with well painted wooden blocks, thick cards, and great little punch-board tokens. There’s a handful of cheap expansions as well, two of which Fortress: Ameritrash’s Josh Look was kind enough to sell me on the cheap. I’ve not played them yet, but the first expansion changes the core rules a little, such as being able to set ambushes for the bad guys by placing cards underneath a battlefield, and the second expansion adds a new Prison location from which the bad guy player can free his defeated cronies.

As I said, it’s a good game that I, my wife, my 12 year old, and several of the Circus Freaks have enjoyed. Not a single person said anything untoward about it, although it was rated a little lower than I’d have expected when I polled them all. If I had to name just one flaw with the game, I don’t think I really could, to be honest, if we’re talking the game itself. Now, I hate those little tins that come with this, Panic Station, and the original edition of Quarriors. They never fit anywhere right, and the art isn’t nearly good enough to be a little display piece. Other than that, though, the game is solid, really fun, fast, and portable. I think, since I’ve been thinking about this game for an hour or so now, that I’m going to get the wife out of bed right now, set this up, and whip her ass at it. Or try, at least.

Why My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys:

  • Nice art and good components make this look nice on the table
  • Tons of replay value allow this to not end up a shelf toad
  • Just the right amount of randomness due to card draws make each session different
  • The price point is perfect

Why This Bronco Needs To Be Put Down:

  • Cremated bodies are the only thing that should come in embossed tins
  • I think it’s slightly easier to play the good guy side, but not by much

Overall:
Revolver, with its unique Western theme, fast play, portability, and price make this a game that is very good, although probably not great, and that is simple to learn, teach, and play. While it is the epitome of a filler game, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing because it’s not expensive and is so accessible that you can literally teach it in just a few minutes at best. We highly recommend it if you like quick-playing card games that don’t involve set collection or trick taking.

Rating:
4/5 Stars
Learn more about Revolver at Stronghold Games’ Revolver page:
http://strongholdgames.com/store/revolver-line/

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Aug 272013
 

gencon-logo-01[1]By Peter Ruth II

Folks, I’ve been working long hours to get this GenCon 2013 Special Edition Magazine written up for your enjoyment, and this 32 page extravaganza of game reporting is nothing short of a labour of love. I think it’s the best work I’ve done in a long time, and I’m really quite proud of it. I only hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.

It took a lot of time out of my gaming to do several hundred interviews with players, GMs, event people, and booth folks, but you’re worth it. I tried to get the big name stuff as well as some of the smaller stuff, and I also wanted to include a little bit of everything, from RPG to Euro to Ameritrash to Miniatures, and I really had to cut down from the 900+ photos I took in order to create a snapshot of what the con was about this year.

It’s a 65MB download, but it’s worth every byte. Hell, every bit. Here’s the link:

Link: Superfly Circus 2013 SE Magazine Download

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Jul 182013
 

Shuriken[1]I’m not sure if I’m getting some clout after all these years, but I was offered a chance to take a gander at a prototype version of the new Kickstarter project, Shuriken. I wasn’t paid to look at this, I wasn’t offered a free copy, nothing. I was just offered the chance to play a game that depicts a metric ton of funky ninja doing ninja stuff. So, while this is still a Kickstarter, which means that this review is only valuable if the 7/12/2013 draft of rules on their website remain the same. I can’t even comment on the components other than the dice (the same company is a dice company), because I have no idea if they’ll remain the same or, rather, as pictured on their Kickstarter page, which look really great.

Now, this game is themed about ninja, but it’s not really a ninja game. Ninjas stalk silently, and by the time you realize a ninja is about to jack you, you’re already jacked. Silent, deadly assassins dealing in ancient dark secrets of death do not run five deep into a garden and burn the place to the ground. If I had to characterize this game, it’s more like the scene in Big Boss when a gang of dudes are brawling, breaking things, and destroying pretty much everything. So, if you’re looking for a ninja game that is about stealth and silent infiltration, this is NOT the game for you. If you’re looking for a bad ass brawling game that is about strategy, making game decisions that matter, and chucking fistfuls of dice at the enemy forces, THIS IS YOUR HUCKLEBERRY.

MAsterninja[1]I really dig this game, as did my cadre of ninja warriors who played it with me. We played it as a 2-player and 3-player game and it played well with both, although I think I favour more people playing as there’s a lot more “screw you” going on, let alone more decisions to be made on whom to take out, and when.  I’m not going to bore you with a rules review, as you can read this article, so you can surely read the PDF rules online, but I will go over the game in a general way so you know what it’s about. Seriously, though, this is a really, really good game.

Unlike most brawlers, this game has several styles of play, but the main idea is to wipe out as many enemies as you can until the end comes, while accomplishing secret missions which give you points. Surprisingly, there’s little actual killing in the game, since beating an enemy doesn’t kill him, you simply capture him; captured ninja are worth victory points, as are the secret missions. The missions are quite varied in what you need to do, such as destroying a tile (very un-ninjalike) or repairing one (again, very un-ninjalike) but there’s all kinds of other missions as well.

One of the coolest things about the game is most tiles grant some sort of bonus, but when they get torched, they screw you over. Now, tiles are destroyed by rolling “flames” on the dice, which bear a one in six chance of happening, so it’s hardly easy to do, and more often than not, it happens accidentally. The bad news is that when a tile is destroyed, every ninja on the tile is killed (one of the few times) and sent back to their owners’ ninja pools.

Orchard[1]There’s a built-in timer in the game, so once the turns are up, you count the ninjas you captured, count the missions you accomplished that provide points, and the winner is the one with the most points.  It’s a very simple system at its core, but the way the game is designed, there’s a lot of choices to be made in deploying and upgrading your ninja units.

One of my favourite things in this game is the combat system; the combat setup is very much like Ikusa or Conquest of Nerath in the sense that certain units attack at certain times, in a certain order, and the defender chooses one of its attacked units to perish. This mechanic really adds to the game in a lot of ways, with the most pronounced being that it’s the main reason to upgrade base units to swordsmen, shuriken tossers, or master ninja, who attack during all phases but are limited to one per side.

Now, from the 10,000 foot level, this is simply a tile based brawler with a bunch of nice chrome to spice things up. It has variable player powers, secret goals, a mess of units in four different types, and the best part, destructible terrain. It’s a very fun, easy to learn, fast playing game, and I’m absolutely going to back it. It has some neat “stretch goal” rewards, although there’s a couple really dumb stretch goals such as “200 likes on Facebook” which just kind of stinks of “we need advertising badly”. They’re FortressAT.com advertisers, so if this sounds like your kind of game, then check it out and drop some money on it. I think it’s worth it, personally, provided it doesn’t stray too far from its current form.

Funding looks like it’s a little bit shy right now, so it may never see the light of day, which truly sucks. There’s a veritable sea of ridiculously crappy games out there that have been funded, so if this game doesn’t get funded, it will be because of FMC‘s who couldn’t recognize a fun game if it kicked them in the jacobs. As noted, it might look a little too simple, but this is just on the surface; it’s got plenty of decisions that matter, plenty of plays that will require good timing to pull off, and best of all, it plays very quickly, with turns taking no longer than 25 seconds or so, not counting combat resolution. My only beef with the entire product, as shown, is that it really doesn’t have the classic ‘ninja’ feel, it’s really just a lot more like a bunch of bad dudes fighting and breaking stuff. But, I like bad dudes, and I like breaking stuff, so I like the game.

Why Bruce Lee Approved This Message:

  • Fast play makes this a game that keeps you engaged
  • Really ace models and nice artwork gives the game huge “bling” factor
  • Well designed, time-proven mechanics make this easy to play but hard to master

Why The Ninja Are Extinct:

  • Ninja are stealthy assassins, not brawlers, so the theme it pretty tacked on
  • Some of the cards aren’t quite specific enough at this stage of development
  • Four styles of ninja is good, but I’d liked to have seen more poses per style
  • There’s very little actual death, just mostly capture

Overall:
As I said, I wasn’t paid to play this, as you know I’d never do, and I wasn’t bribed, coerced, or promised anything to review this. In fact, after a couple more plays, I’m returning this prototype copy. Furthermore, I don’t know Brian Wood in real life or even on a forum, and could not identify him in a lineup if he was the only one in it. I just saw this game, made a post on Facebook, and he contacted me to take a gander. It takes some balls to do that because you know how I can be if you read my articles. Luckily, it was better than I though it would be, and therefore, based on our plays, we can wholeheartedly recommend it.

I’m not going to give this game a score as I usually do because it’s not a “final product”, per se, and I don’t want to get caught up in a mess if it changes substantially. All I can do is tell you what I played as shown NOW, and how we liked it. Short version: every person here at the Circus gave it a big thumbs up, and I was told to spend my money on getting a release copy when it ships. So, there you have it – I’m buying into it, and I don’t buy many games that aren’t Heroscape these days, and especially not Kickstarter games, so it must be pretty darn special.

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Jun 032013
 

MissionCommandSeaBox[1]By Peter Ruth II

Alright, fans, this is going to be a good one, so strap on your seat belt and let me take you downtown where best stuff happens. You see, there are very few games that I think are a solid 10 rating based on factors such as production quality, value, and the most important aspect of any game, the level of fun it provides. Well, Mission Command: Sea isn’t a perfect 10, but it’s pretty damned close. The one thing that it lacks, the one thing holding it back from a destiny of greatness, is just a little more complexity. But aside from that, it’s nearly the perfect game. It’s fun, fast, brutal, has a body count, and the winner doesn’t win by amassing the most ubiquitous “victory points”, you win by blowing the other guy’s army up, hospital-hurt style.

As an added bonus, if you play break out this game at any game table in the world and get a dour look from someone, you have immediately identified one of the many plonkers of the board game hobby. The kind of person who could not identify fun with plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. The kind of person that others call “a wet blanket” or a “Debbie Downer”. It’s like a Geiger counter set for “dolt”, in the same vein of BattleBall and Thunder Road. I’m sorry, but if you don’t like bad ass little carriers, two full flights of F-14 Tomcats per side, little destroyers, plastic molded mountains, and a load of dice, you’re probably among the ranks of the plonkers. I’m not saying you have to love the game like I do, but to not admire it is a pretty good indication of your place in the world.

So anyhow, this game is not very complex, which is my only complaint in any way, shape or form. The object is to scramble fighters from the flight deck, loaded with Sidewinders or Harpoon missiles, and to put two hits on the enemy carrier. Defending each carrier are two destroyers bearing both close-in ABM weapons as well as surface to air missiles. It’s not an incredibly difficult game to learn, and while luck certainly plays a role, this is first and foremost a naval strategy game. Placement and movement of fighters is critical, as is the weapons load-out that you choose for each plane, which is represented by a face-down token on a plane’s base, so that your opponent doesn’t know what kind of weapon it bears. Top that off with the fact that the quality of the plane’s pilot is printed on the underside of the plane, and it is quite a lovely little naval combat simulation with all kinds of strategic subterfuge and tactical choices.

Above and beyond the fact that the game is simply the perfect Ameritrash filler game, that can be taught and played in about an hour, what cannot be overlooked is the quality of the pieces. Note that I didn’t call them bits, because that would not give them the respect that they’re due. People say, “they don’t make them like they used to”, and in this case, that’s absolutely true. This game comes with a huge board, four little islands with which to hide your beautifully modelled and painted carriers behind, four lovely little destroyers, sixteen wonderful little F-14s in two colours, and last, but not least, perfectly crafted flight stands to hold the planes in the air. I simply cannot envision the components of a game being so wonderful for such a small price today. To me, it’s sort of like when Space Hulk 3rd Edition was released, how we all marvelled at the beautiful wee beasties and noble Space Marines. Obviously, they’re not that good or detailed, but for a twenty dollar game, you cannot conceivably bitch about the contents today. This would be a fifty dollar game today, easily.

TheMaverick - MCSeaGamePlay[1]Back to my one complaint, which is more of a minor gripe than an actual complain, the game is just a wee bit too light in complexity. I wish that the carrier could move, but once you place it at the beginning of the game, it’s static; a sitting duck, as it were. But not only can’t it move, it can’t shoot, either, which it total silly. My bestie is a former carrier jockey whose sole job it was to launch planes off the deck of the Vinson, and he knows for damned sure that carriers are loaded with ABM and close-in defensive weapons. So, that part seems a little bit gamey to me, but considering that they had to draw a line somewhere to keep the game from dragging on too long, it makes sense why they did it that way.  We always play the house rule that carriers get one shot per turn to take out incoming Harpoons on the “destroyer move or shoot” phase, and it does add some length to the game as well as putting a focus more on batting down enemy planes than going after the carrier.

It’s worth mentioning that this is a remake of the classic Carrier Strike game, but I think that this game does some things better, especially considering it does away with the card combat dog-fighting. In that game, you drew some cards and essentially played ‘War: The Card Game’ for five rounds, counting victories, which always felt to me to be a bit overkill. It’s been simplified now where you roll the number of dice shown on the plane’s quality number, and keep the highest roll. This can be augmented by +1, or one die may be re-rolled, if the plane’s carrying a Sidewinder, and in the case of a tie, both planes crash and burn. It’s a cleaner system, with the only advantage going to Carrier Strike in that carriers can move.

Anyhow, every Ameritrash enthusiast should own this game, hands down, and I’ll stake what little reputation I have on that statement. I love naval combat, so I am biased, but good God in heaven this game is one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. This one is on the list of games I’ll never sell, trade away, and if my house goes up in a blaze, it’s one of the first games that will be replaced. Unless you’re a plonker, you will like it. I never have trouble getting this game to the table, everyone I have played this with has rated it very highly, and the only guy who didn’t like it is a verifiable card-carrying plonker.

Why I Want To Be Maverick When I Grow Up:

  • The components are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
  • Gameplay is fast, furious, and total fun
  • It’s easy to teach, easy to learn, and doesn’t require “a learning game”
  • It’s twenty dollars, even on Ebay, which is vastly under priced in my opinion

Why Milton Bradley Went Down With Its Ships:

  • No carrier movement or defensive guns takes a bit of realism away

Overall:
Why are you still reading this? Go get this game, unless you’re a plonker!

Rating:
4.5/5 Stars
Read the rules here:
http://www.hasbro.com/common/instruct/Mission_Command_Sea_Game.pdf

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May 132013
 

Pegasus Logo[1]By Peter Ruth II

Friends, I’ve decided that I’ve been remiss in not sharing with you the vast pool of knowledge that I’ve learned over the years regarding tabletop miniatures gaming, and so this is the first of many articles that will pass on some of the laborious research I’ve carved out of the Internet. The tag will be “Miniatures Gaming 101″ and I’ll be putting articles ranging from figure sources, game rules, painting tip sites, terrain building help, the best books to buy, and all manner of things relating to all things miniature. I’m not a great figure painter, though I can hold my own, but I am a very capable terrain builder, so I’ll likely share some of my projects with you fine folks as well. So, let’s begin with a great source of material to quickly and cheaply get a table going for a skirmish: Pegasus Hobbies (PegasusHobbies.net).

There was a time, so long ago, that I was playing Battletech, Mage Knight, and all manner of miniature game on paper mats. Yes, they do serve a purpose, but why would you want to if you didn’t have to, and further, if it wasn’t prohibitively expensive? It’s because I didn’t know just how many miniatures companies are out there, nor did I know just how inexpensive miniatures terrain can be if you know where to look. Well, I was at a game store just before I got sick a year and a half ago, and I saw this wonderful, detailed church sitting on a Warhammer table. After inquiring, it turns out that the guy spent all of two hours painting and assembling it, and the amazing part, he spent just over twenty dollars on it.

Gothic City Ruins Box[1]I immediately got online and found that this company’s products are both inexpensive and ubiquitous, and so I jumped in with both feet and got both a Gothic City Ruins and the same church set that I had seen at the store. As soon as I got it home I realized just how easy it was going to be to turn the box into what would be the ruins of the Esoteric Order of Dagon church, an ancient, decaying factory, the burned-out hulk of an old apartment building, and so many other terrain features. Within an hour I had glued it and assembled it, and because I tend to overthink things, three hours later I had the whole thing primered, painted, blackwashed, and three-color dry-brushed. It is simply amazing how wonderful these things look once you’ve got them painted.

I’m never one to do something half-assed, so I took it further once I’d had it for a year and really got interested in making beautiful landscapes to play on, so I then based the entire set, flocked it (including adding moss to the model), and put another ten dollar Pegaus set of rubble in the center to create the illusion that the top of the building had fallen in long ago. In all, it looks just like I hoped it would, and I’m out maybe a total of 6 hours time and forty bucks in materials. That said, it was very nice looking with a simple blackwash/drybrush treatment, and the flexibility of the sets are such that if you were to buy two, you could present them on the table as four sides of the same ruined building.

The second set I got was, as I noted, the church itself. The beauty of these sets is that you can make them in a great many configurations, and so I made mine a little non-standard, since I’m a pretty non-standard individual myself. I ended up making it an “evil church”, airbrushing the entire thing flat black and following with a grey drybrush treatment. I also airbrushed ~flame light~ on and around the lanterns but it didn’t turn out as well as I liked. It’s still got some work to go, a year later or so, but it’s been good enough for my table so I haven’t put effort into it to get it to what I consider “quality work”.

Pegasus Ruins Done[1]About a month ago I downloaded and printed the free rules for “The Skank Game”, otherwise known as Warlords of the Wasteland 2085, which is a post-apocalyptic skirmish game that includes vehicles and very light RPG elements. I was looking for a Fallout-esque game and therefore I needed to have some post-apocalyptic game pieces. Well, a forum member at Fortress:AT was talking about Pegasus’ Syberclicks terrain, which is the Warhammer 40K equivalent of the Hexagon terrain (shown left), so I bought both the large and small packs, which cost a total of $32.00. Well, let me tell you, it’s really quite modular in that you can build virtually anything you can imagine, much like Lego products, but with a very “hodge-podge”, scavenged feel to the buildings. As usual, I couldn’t follow the directions as listed, so with the small set I made something not remotely resembling the shown product, which integrated into the walled wasteland outpost I

Gothic Small Set 1[1]created using the large set. The wife likes it, and she’s a tough customer to please, so I’m content. It’s very lightweight, so I think it really will need to have a base on it to sturdy it up. It snaps together with these clips that I believe were sent by the Devil himself, because after 2 hours of modelling, my fingers were LITERALLY bleeding. They’re a real bitch to assemble, no doubt, but it’s worth it. As you can see from the photo of the frames, there’s a bazillion little rippy bits and each one is sharp as a razor, even after you’ve removed them from the frame. The clips come in six styles, from 90 degrees to multi-angle three-way, and there’s a lot of flexibility in what you can do. Again, these things bite into your hand like a spur when you assemble the buildings, so be advised that you will not get out of this without some serious finger damage. I’d argue that it’s worth it.

I spray painted the assembly after I glued it, and while you don’t need to glue it, I wanted this to be a permanent structure so I used some CA and with a fine needle tip, dispensed a small drop at each joint and let the capillary action draw it into the connector. It’s very durable now, and I left several joints unglued so that I can break it into two pieces for storage. I’ll base it using some small lengths of plasticard epoxied to the bottom and flocked with sand. I may even use some modelling clay or Sculpey to create small berms along the base to make it look as if the structure has been there a while.  What I was going for, in all honesty, is Hexagon Box[1]something like a scaled-down version of the”juice” refinery in The Road Warrior. This photo shows what I built, and in retrospect, I really should’ve primed it, but the Rustoleum Hammered Copper spray paint usually sticks to pretty much anything. This is just the first coat, and only sprayed from top down. I ran out, so off to the store I go after work for another to finish the job. Once I’ve got it coated, I’ll airbrush several layers of brown, grey, red, orange, and yellow on it to create a very rusty metal look, then I may or may not hand-paint some “hot spots” of dripping rust effect.

Along with the Hexagon stuff I also got the Pegasus Technobridge, which runs $15.00, and will save me a ton of time having to scratch build it out of Plasticard and balsa. It’s the same as the church stuff, very simple to construct and looks great right out of the box, although I’ll be painting it, probably to match the outpost, and then putting some sand on it here and there to give it a more realistic look.

Now, Pegasus also creates some pre-painted stuff as well. For fantasy, or even some early American settings, you can buy a lot of small buildings that come ready-to-play. These are made of a hard stone material, perhaps even dental stone, so they’re really rather heavy for their size compared to the Gothic stuff. This Small Stone Cottage cost me $13.00 and its larger brother cost me maybe five dollars more. They’re a single, solid cast piece, so these are really only good to create the feel of a village rather than actually allow you to have door-to-door fighting. I’ve used these for Strange Aeons, and they fit in passably with my 1920’s period pieces fairly well. It beats having to build and paint a Plasticville O-scale building, which I’ll get into in a another Miniatures Gaming 101 article, when all you want is a prop piece to sit on the table as a thematic line-of-sight blocker.

Outpost[1]In conclusion, you can get a lot of really great terrain, and I mean an entire city block’s worth, for around a hundred dollars with Pegasus, and the stuff is so easy to assemble, aside from the Hexagon finger-scourge stuff, that it’s a no-brainer. My only complaint with any of it is that they have only a few “lines” to choose from. I’d love if they moved into doing something like Plasticville, but in different time periods. It would certainly save me a lot of time in sourcing parts to kit-bash into what I want. Hope you enjoyed the article, and there’s much more to come.

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