Assassinorum: Execution Force Review

I’ve been trying to get back on the wagon with hobbying, so I’m trying to steer game nights in the direction so that I actually get to play some 40k.  I’ve had very little success in that arena as of late, but I’m making small progress.  This week, we at least played games that were themed in the 40k universe: Conquest & Assassinorum: Execution Force.

I’ve played Conquest before, and even done a bit of a “review” on it before, so I won’t say much on that topic other than to say that Kurt brought it over along with some expansions and we played a game of it.  He won due to a combination of good play on his part, and bad play of my own.  It was refreshing to see the new cards/themes in the expansions, but we eventually put it away when Brandon showed up to play the new board game.

I should say that I always categorize these sort of posts as “product reviews,” but I don’t really do any sort of detailed review in them.  I don’t figure anyone is coming to this blog for a detailed review, and there are already a load of them elsewhere on the internet.  So, I’m really just giving my opinion on things at a high level perspective.

Component Quality:

GWAssassinEversorThe component quality overall was quite high.  The obvious winner here is the sculpts of the assassins themselves: they’re very dynamic and a vast improvement over the older models.  In particular, the Eversor is amazing.  It’s really a shame that GW has yet to release these as the new defacto standard for assassins moving forward.

Aside from the Assassins, the other models weren’t very impressive.  The cultists are the same as you’d get from the Dark Vengeance boxed set, so they’re fine quality and it makes sense that they’d reuse the sculpts/molds that they have on hand.  For whatever reason though, for the three chaos space marines, they didn’t use the cool ones from Dark Vengeance but packaged in some goofy looking static posed models from the late 90’s–which seemed like a real loss.  The chaos sorcerer seems like a simple conversion (also a static pose) of the CSM: Terminator Lord.  So, he’s pretty grand, but also a tad bit on the dated side.

Rules:

Overall the rules were fairly good.  Each assassin really seemed to have the rules you’d expect when translated from 40k, and they were simplified to be easier to grasp in the short amount of time expected when you play a board game (for instance, you no longer roll to wound by comparing strength against toughness: instead, each model has a “resilience” rating that indicates how difficult they are to wound: cultists have a 4+; CSM’s have a 5+; and the lord/assassins have a 6+.  Some weapons give you additional dice and/or modifiers to that roll).

One of the misses we found in the rules were that the eversor has to voluntarily give his own life to explode in the game (I guess this is so that you don’t inadvertently blow up your friends).  I wish they would’ve just said that when he dies, he can choose to explode or not to.

There are also issues with chaos models going on Alert due to the way line of sight works.  For instance, if you have two cultists side by side and one is killed, it doesn’t automatically alert the next cultist, as he’s not in his line of sight.  That seems like it should be changed.

Otherwise, there was some wonkiness with models that spawn in a room but don’t have directional arrows indicating how they exit.  We ran into situations where a model would spawn in a room, but not be in line of sight of an assassin, so he wouldn’t have clear guidance as to where he was supposed to patrol when he started moving (although, in hind sight, I’m thinking that they start stunned, and there’s another rule that says once a model loses stunned, he automatically goes on Alert: so maybe this isn’t a problem after all–perhaps we just played it wrong?)

Difficulty:

GWassassinorumExecutionForceThe game really seemed too easy until we made it into the final lair.  We all had separated and dashed through the larger board quickly, killing basically everything in our path.  It was rare for us to draw multiple event cards, as most cultists died shortly after they arrived (And certainly shortly after they went on alert).  We didn’t find the control room until the very last room (the game has a mechanic to make it likely that you don’t find them quickly), so then we ran into the inner sanctum to fight off the chaos lord.

At that point, the level of difficulty swung dramatically to the difficult side.  Immediately we had three space marines in our faces, and started spawning a number of cultists.  The board was smaller, so they started chain-reactions of alerts, and we were drawing 4-6 event cards per turn.  I was playing the Callidus, and darted into the summoning chamber, but didn’t pester the lord, until my crew had arrived.  Sadly, all except the culexus had perished without making it into the chamber, but I somehow managed to do two wounds to him before the timer ran out (without taking a wound myself–as he kept getting stunned).  I would’ve killed him had the game gone to turn 17, but that’s not how it works… and we lost the day.

Overall:

Overall, I’d say the game is fair.  The assassins look fantastic, and the game was moderately fun to play.  If I owned it, I’m sure I’d play it a couple of more times, but I really feel like I’d grow bored of it before too long.  GW did include a list of “Achievements” which are supposed to give it some replay value but, based upon my MMORPG experience, I’ve learned to view Achievements as a thinly veiled attempt to justify the grind.

With a sticker price north of $100, I’m glad I didn’t buy it, but I would love to own the models.  Of course, if GW releases them separately, you know they’re going to be $20-30 each anyway.  Oh well, not like I need more assassins…  If you’re looking for a great board game, I’d look elsewhere, but if you want those assassins, the price is pretty steep, but a couple of evenings of board gaming might justify the cost for you.

Image Credit: Games Workshop

 

Advertisements

Suburbia: City Building Board Game on IOS

I’m a bit of a sucker for good deals.  You may have already realized this if you’ve been following my Frugal Gaming updates, wherein I can’t seem to say no to buying anything remotely hobby related if I think I can resell it and make a quick buck (or a really slow buck, as it typically is, since I’m too lazy to list things on ebay).  So, when I found a recommendation to buy a game that was on sale and highly rated, I wound up jumping in–I mean, how fun does it really have to be to justify a $2.99 price tag?

Having never heard of the game before (and not knowing anyone who played it), and a real lack of an in-depth tutorial, it was a little difficult to pick up.  The premise of the game is that you’re a city planner (I guess) and are laying out various residential, commercial, and industrial areas to arrange a city (I’ve omitted whatever they call the gray areas, which consist of things like schools, municipal buildings, etc.  I guess they’re government zoned?).

Each town has three difficulty levels which, after unlocking, lead to expanding to more towns/difficulty levels.  Each town has it’s own mission that needs to be accomplished that typically involves some variation of ensuring a minimum/maximum level of:

  • City income
  • Population
  • Appearance
  • Cash on hand

SuburbiaGameThe easy level isn’t easy in most examples (in fact, some of them took me upwards of a dozen attempts to beat on the easiest setting), and the hard levels seem to be designed so that tiles have to come up in a specific order for them to even be possible to achieve (I’ve only beaten a couple of cities on that setting, despite my efforts).

In total, there are about 10 different cities (forgive me, I’m going from memory here), each with their own twists.  Beating them tends to unlock another city/difficulty level, and they culminate in a city in England (Essex, I believe).  The weird thing is that many of the cities seem to have nothing to do with unlocking a path to Essex, so I guess they’re just there for fun?

The weirdest part about the game is the scoring.  Each tile has stated ramifications to the various score tracks.  So, when you place a tile on the board, it may be affected by other nearby tiles.  But the scoring seems almost arbitrary.  If you place a tile with +1 appearance in one section, it might give you +1 appearance, but it might also give you +0 or even as low as -5.  I’m sure that the game is basing this upon other qualifications that I have no understanding of, but it almost seems whimsical how each piece/location affects a given score.  It’s because of this seemingly random behavior that I can’t beat the games on the hardest setting (I swear that when I put a +10 population tile in San Francisco at the end, it only gives me +2 population for some reason).

It’s also because of that factor, that I fear playing the game in real life would be completely unmanageable.  If I can’t grok the scoring at all through the digital game, how difficult would it be to manage in real life?

I find that I played it for a  few hours and am pretty much done with the game now (despite not beating every city/difficulty level).  Was it worth $3?  Sure, but what isn’t worth $3 anymore?  I would love to understand how the scoring system works, but I don’t think I could recommend this game as a board game.  If you’ve got $3 burning a hole in your pocket though, you could certainly do worse than this…

Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy for IOS

The last time my back went out (which happens all too frequently since I don’t exercise nearly enough), I found myself laying around with nothing to do, so I was perusing sales of board games on IOS.  In doing so, I stumbled upon Eclipse, New Dawn for the Galaxy.  It wasn’t on sale, but an old friend highly recommended it (to be frank, he was my best friend in high school, and though we haven’t talked in a long time, I figured I’d give it a shot.  As a matter of fact, we wound up reconnecting just this past month as he was back in town for his 20th high school reunion–have I mentioned that I’m old?)

Yeah, that was a bit off topic, wasn’t it?

Anywho, Rich had recommended the game, and I had listened to the review from the d6generation and they had some nice things to say about it as well (egads, was that really back in early 2012?).  Considering I couldn’t do much of anything, and the recommendations from those two respected sources, I figured I’d give it a shot.

EclipseNewDawn2Now, I won’t bother doing a detailed review of the game (I’ll leave the folks at Board Game Geek to do that), but I’ll give some overall general impressions.  It may be helpful to know that I have never played the board game version, nor have I played with a real person, so consider that when you read my opinions.

To start off, the game has a lot going on.   It’s what is considered as a 4x game, where you have to Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate. In doing so, you flip a series of tiles over to explore, and then move your ships and control markers into a territory to expand.  Over time, you earn resources for the planets you colonize and use those resources to buy ships, research technology and otherwise expand your empire.

I did wind up playing the tutorials, but they’re fairly long and I became bored of them before I finished–which lead to some confusion about how specific parts of the game truly worked (one of the trickiest parts to learn was that, since you can basically do as many actions as you want during your turn, learning when to stop doing actions so as to prevent you from running out of money in later turns.  For the record, this seems to be one of the most fundamental and difficult aspects of the game to master).

With all that going on, it was a little confusing, and it would probably go smoother learning from other experienced players.

There are a total of twelve races in the game, including six factions of humans (which, from what I can tell are all identical to each other), and six alien races that share a color with each of the human factions.  This allows everyone to choose between playing the generic human race and a different alien species.  I like that all of the different races have subtle differences, and none of them seemed ridiculously overpowered.  For the most case, they are very slight tweaks: one race may get to build an extra ship in a turn, but at the expense of researching slightly slower.  All in all, the tweaks make each of the races feel and play differently, but they don’t seem to be significant enough to make any one of them lopsided (though I don’t particularly care for the red aliens, whose only advantage seems to be that they start with extra money).

EclipseNewDawn

After playing through the game a few times, I started to get the hang of it, and I’ve wound up unlocking all of the single-player achievements.   The biggest downside to the game is that there’s no single player campaign, so I stopped playing because it all seemed pretty similar to previous games.  I’m betting if I played with real people, it could still be quite fun (though I’m curious how players deal with so many different tracks/components), but I haven’t gotten around to multiplayer on the tablet, because waiting for people to make moves in IOS is significantly less enthralling than doing so in real life.

In the end, would I recommend it?  I think it was worth the $6.99 price I paid given that I was incapacitated at the time.  If I had to do it over again now that I’m upwardly mobile, I think I’d pass though.  It was good for a day or two of entertainment (which is good value at $7, if you compare it to the price of a movie ticket), but I haven’t touched it in the month since.

 

 

 

Pandemic – Board Game Exercises in Futility

I use games as an excuse to socialize with people.  It doesn’t matter all that much to me what game we play, I just want to be able to spend time with like-minded individuals and enjoy ourselves.  So,  while the blog is primarily 40k focused, that does mean that I play a variety of card and board games.  So, when Brandon offered to bring over a new one called “Pandemic” that I’d heard of, I figured I’d give it a shot.

The game itself is a cooperative exercise wherein a team of researchers are running around the world in an attempt to contain and eradicate various diseases.  In essence, it’s kind of like Outbreak! the board game.

The game is won when cures are found for each of the four diseases, but it can be lost in multiple ways:

  • Running out of city cards (ie. running out of time)
  • Having an excessive number of outbreaks
  • Letting any one disease expand enough to outgrow the available components

It has some really basic rules with really intuitive mechanics.  It’s enjoyable to play, and even at the most basic difficulty level provides a challenge to everyone.

The thing is, the game is impossible to win.

pandemic

Ok, so that’s a bit of an overstatement.  Brandon had brought it over a few times, and in each time we played it, we got really close to winning, but ultimately lost in every game we tried.  He said that was pretty much par for the course, but that he had beaten it before, so it had to be possible.  Likewise, lots of people online seem to think it’s quite easy to win.

Well, when I threw my back out last time, I wound up buying the game on IOS to see if there was something fundamental mistake we were making in the way we played the game.  Maybe we had misinterpreted a rule?  Well, after the first thirty games played–and lost–on the easiest of settings, it seemed pretty clear to me that my original assessment of the game being impossible was pretty accurate.

In one particular game (on the easy setting, mind you), I managed to be completely defeated before each of my four characters had a turn.    Sure, it was an unfortunate set of random events, but that shouldn’t be possible for a game on EZ mode.

Anywho, after perseverance, I did manage to finally beat the game.  In fact, I found a particular set of characters (Scientist, Dispatcher, Constrution Worker, & Medic) and a strategy that seemed to work for me.  And now, I’d say I win a little over half of my games–though I haven’t manage to win it on any other difficulty setting yet (nor do I particularly care to try).

I do wind up playing it from time to time still, and it really isn’t a bad waste of time, but I don’t think it’s a great game.  I also went out and bought Pandemic: Contagion (a game where it’s not cooperative and you play as the viruses, so it isn’t anywhere near impossible to win).

So, this post isn’t so much a review, per se, but a rambling warning for those of you who are thinking about buying the game, and a virtual support group for those who think the game is impossible.  My advice though, would be to stay away.

 

 

 

Travel Games – Part 2

Ok, in my last post, I mistakenly said that I’m reviewing these in the order that I’d purchased them, but I apparently have the order reversed.   Since I purchased both sets of games within a week of each other, that seems an honest enough mistake.

Anywho, last time I reviewed Coup, Bang! (the dice game), and Mr. Jack Pocket.  In this post, I’ll be reviewing the final three games that I’d purchased: Zombie Dice, Hive Pocket, & Love Letter.  Again, the titles of each of these is a link to the BGG website entry for the respective game:

Zombie Dice

ZombieDiceOh wow, I lied earlier.  I said that I’d never even heard of any of the six games I’d purchased, but I did watch Will Wheaton play this game on Table Top.  Doh… Well, at least I’d never played it before.

This game is fairly quick and mindless.   The premise is that you’re a group of zombies, trying to collect brains and avoid being blasted by shotguns.  The first one to collect thirteen brains wins.

The game is a dice rolling, press-your-luck sort of game.  Each die contains some number of faces with brains, shotgun blasts, and scampering feet (indicating an escape).  You want collect brains, avoid shotguns, and the scampering feet just need to be rerolled.  There are three colors of dice (green, yellow, & red) that are increasingly harder to get positive results on.

Each turn, you roll three dice and try to collect brains.  At any time, you can stop and keep the brains you have rolled, or continue pulling new dice (adding them to any escapees to add up to three dice) and continue rolling.  If at any time during your turn, you’ve rolled a total of three shotgun blasts, you end your turn, forfeiting any brains collected that turn.

There isn’t much strategy in this game, other than figuring out when it’s best to press your luck and when you should stay put.  As a result, it was good for some mindless fun, but I don’t foresee me playing this all that much in the future.  However, if strategy games aren’t really your thing, and you just want to have fun rolling dice around the table, this is probably a good pickup for you.  I just don’t think it’ll get much play in my house.

Hive Pocket

Hive PocketThis is called the pocket version of the game because it’s smaller than the original, but is (apparently) otherwise unchanged.  It consists of 26 hexagonal tiles (reminiscent of Ma-jong) each with different insects on them (ignore the fact that some have spiders on them).

The object of the game is to encircle your enemy’s queen with your various pieces, each of which moves differently–so it remind me a lot of chess.  Like in chess, the queen (a la King) moves only one space per turn, and can easily get cornered in.  You have to use your other pieces creatively to block your opponent’s tiles to prevent being “check-mated.”

I’m not sure I can do justice to how the various pieces move, but I’ll try:

  1. Queen – Moves one space per turn
  2. Spider – Moves exactly three spaces per turn
  3. Grasshopper – Hops directly over all pieces in a line
  4. Ant – Moves to any available exterior space
  5. Beetle – Moves one space–can move on top of other pieces to prevent them from moving

The pocket expansion also comes with the Mosquito (clones nearby pieces) and the Ladybug (moves three spaces, two on top and one down), but we never played with them.

The similarities to chess and the fact that the game consists entirely of hard plastic pieces (and therefor could be played poolside) made this a fairly popular game.  At first, I wasn’t very thrilled by it, but after a while, I took a shining to it (and it eventually rekindled my interest in Chess during the cruise as well).

I’m surprised at how simple and fun it is.  If you like chess, you’ll probably like this game as well (though why not just play chess?  I s’pose because this game is far more portable).  If you don’t like chess, you might still like this game, as everyone in our group seemed to enjoy it to varying degrees.

Love Letter

Ok, this game is ridiculous.  During my review of Coup, I’d slandered a game that had only a deck of five different cards and a stack of coins.  This game contains a deck of 15 cards containing a total of 8 different options (some of which are as simple as “if you discard this card, you are out of the round”).  And that’s it.

LoveLetterWell, there is a bag of wooden cubes to keep score, but you could just as easily do that with a pad of paper.

The thing is, the game is ridiculously fun.  It easily stole the hearts of the group I was playing with (although that might have had something to do with the fact that the 8-year old loved princesses too).

The premise of the game is that you’re all suitors of the princess, and you need to get your love letter to her.  At the end of each round, the player with the highest scoring card (ie. the person closest to the princess) gets their love letter turned in and wins the round.  The first to four points wins the game.  Each turn, you draw one card (so you have two in your hand) and discard one of them to play it–following the directions on that card.

That’s it.  The cards are all fairly straight-forward (although we did have an issue with the Handmaiden on the first play-through before we realized that she only affects you).  It’s so very basic and has a silly premise (at least to us nerdy-gamer guys), but it plays quickly and fun, has a lot of randomness, but also a good deal of strategy.  It was very easily understood by everyone who played it, and we all enjoyed it immensely.  I definitely see myself playing this one again in the future.

So, there you have it.  In total, I  bought six games for the trip–all of which were relatively fun.  I’m really happy with my investment and, if after reading these two posts you still want to buy any of these games, I’m sure you’ll be happy with your purchase as well.