In the early 90’s, Games Workshop was the equivalent of Mel Brooks’ character, Yogurt, in Spaceballs: pushing every conceivable piece of merchandise. While GW waited until this year to release Warhammer, the Flame Throwa, they did release just about every divergent type of merchandise possible. I remember belt buckles, rock albums (D-Rok forever), and more failed computer games than you could shake a stick at. Yes, before Dawn of War, GW failed miserably in seemingly every possible way in the computer gaming field. They also did a short stint into tile-based games, like the company Avelon Hill.
I stumbled into these games through a White Dwarf example forever long ago (I’d say it was around Issue 160 or so), where there was a complete tile-based game that recreated the boarding of Horus’ ship by Sanguinus and other loyalist marines. It was an amazingly simple, yet captivating game, and I wish I could get my hands on it.
That being said, it was just another marketing tool to sell their other board games. One such game, Doom of the Eldar, was released in 1993 as a tile based predecessor to BFG. As any good fluffer (as in someone who reads fluff, not an extra on a porn set) knows, the Eldar are a doomed race–and it’s only a matter of time before they’re wiped out… and that’s where the game picks up. The premise of the game is that Tyranids are assaulting an Iyanden craftworld, and the Eldar have to hold out as long as possible.
The game is amazingly simple, has no minatures or models to buy, and though profit margins are slim, there was no hook to keep you buying things from GW. As a result, this game (and others like it) disappeared from store shelves long ago. Since I wasn’t able to play a game of 40k this weekend, I dusted off my copy of Doom of the Eldar and ran it over to a friend’s house to get some sort of semblence of a game in.
Being a devout bug player, Blaine took control of the tyranids, while I assumed the role of our hero, the Eldar. Rather than bore you with the details, it was a pitched battle that came down to the wire. It came down to a single die-roll in the end to determine who would win. Alas, our pointy eared protaganists were able to orkin away the bugs for one more time.
These games are amazing, and if you haven’t already checked them out, I’d highly encourage you to do so. It might also be a good way to get someone else into the 40k hobby, as the rule sets for these are typically boiled down to a single chart of rolling. You never roll more than one die at a time, and there are no rulers or line of sight needed. I find them to be a good way to mellow out and play 40k without actually having to build an army or setup a gaming board. I guess they’re like space-hulk in that fashion, but have even less setup and teardown involved.
If you’re looking for more information about the game, here are a few links that you might find handy:
Detailed write-up at BoardGameGeek:
GW’s new BFG Equivalent of Doom of the Eldar:
For those of you who are really interested, there seems to be an incomplete copy of the game up on ebay at the time I’m writing this (see link below). Ebay does seem like the best way to get a hold of these games if you’re looking. They’re quite rare though, so expect to pay in excess of $50 for one, and expect them to be few and far between: