Monday, September 24, 2012

Star Wars: X Wing Miniature Game - Review

I am not a huge Star Wars fan, I like it. Light sabers are really cool and Harrison Ford as Han Solo is great.

Plus Admiral Akbar is priceless! But slapping Star Wars on something usually makes me not buy it just because, well, franchise games are usually lame.

 Suprisingly no one has said it in any game I have played yet! 

I certainly wasn't going to pick this one up. At the outset it, one might say, it flew under my radar. Unfortunately, a friend of mine really wanted to play with his new starter set on the release day. He was raving about the game even though he doesn't like Star Wars! Well that was all it took for me to to give Fantasy Flight more of my money...

So how did Fantasy Flight do it? Why is this game so awesome? One word, dog-fighting in space. Yes please. You really do feel like your in a Star Wars dog-fight. Sure, there aren't really any 3-D space rules in it, but the basic mechanics of the game do a great job of simulating 3-D space.

What's in the starter? 

Let's start here. You get some high quality stuff in this box. The quality of stuff you get for your 40 USD is great, and then when you consider the fact that they had to buy the licensing from George Lucas (grrrrr), it's an even better deal.

As far as minis go you get one X-Wing fighter and 2 Tie Fighters. Let me say this,  THESE ARE THE BEST PRE-PAINTED MINIATURES I HAVE EVER SEEN. The X-Wings have a wonderful grunge to them that is perfect for the rebels and the Tie Fighters have a nice clean feel perfect for that imperial sterile aesthetic.

Only three ships? you ask. Well here is the thing. There are pilots for these ships, and those are what give the ships their special abilities and point costs. In the set you get 8 pilot tiles that you put on your ships. These are double sided so you end up with 16 pilot/ship choices. That is awesome.

You also get a crap tone of nice cardboard tokens and "scenery". A set of custom dice is included as well, 3 attack and 3 defense dice. Of course you get the ship stands as well. In addition you get nice cardboard movement templates and range finder.

 Each of your ships can be given one upgrade and yes, 
R2 is as awesome as he should be. 

Ship and ship upgrade cards included also. Overall there are lots of fun things in this box to keep you occupied! 


So that sounds interesting but how are the mechanics? Great! The turn is broken into Activiation phase, Shooting phase, and Damage phase.

For the Activation phase each player secretly chooses the maneuver their ship(s) will perform using a really neat cardboard dial.

The movements are broken into: hard turn, soft turn, strait and u turn. There is also a number value to the movement. Then each player reveals their movement and, going from lowest ranking to highest ranking pilot, the maneuvers are performed. After moving each ship gets an action.

 You just move the ship so the back of the base is touching 
the other end of the move template

Your actions can let you lock on a target, focus your fire/evasion, perform evasive maneuvers or  barrel role!

The attack phase then happens. Pilots declare targets and fire from highest ranking pilot to lowest. So unlike the last game I reivewed, you can shoot someone before they can shoot you! This is done easily. You just roll your attack dice and every hit you score is a wound on your opponent's ship. You opponent then defends and rolls their defense dice. Every evasion symbol rolled negates one hit. Super easy and intuitive.

Your FACE Red Leader! 
Actions taken in the prior phase can alter the die rolls. For instance, if you focused your attack, every eye symbol rolled counts as a hit. This action can be used the same way for defensive rolls.

Finally you score damage. Every hit scored causes a wound to a ship or takes out their sheild. A hit ship draws a damage card face down and places it on their ship's card. If it is a critical hit, the card is drawn face up and the effects of the card are applied to the ship and or pilot.

What do I think?

This is a great game that is what I think. There is a great re-playability to it and scenarios are offered too. This makes the game versatile and fun. I ended up buying all 4 booster sets too ( you get one ship and 4 pilots in each pack). Fantasy Flight really did a great job of putting you on the edge of your seat while playing while playing this game. It's downright exciting when you play this game, which is a feeling I don't usually get when I play games. Today, we played Vader and two "honor guard" tie fighters against Luke and Biggs. It was a great game and I found that the more experience you accumulate in the game, the better you can get your ships moving. 

The miniatures are fantastic too. I don't usually give praise to pre-painted miniatures but these are exceptional. The sculpts are good and the paint jobs are wonderful for what they are. I would put them on the upper edge of table top quality.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures is definitely a game worth picking up. I know it has sold very well so far at my stores and will continue to do so. Best part is, it's not collectable! You get what you want so everyone is on an equal level. Honestly the only way I could make this game better is if you could blow up Jar-Jar Binks...

Bad Stuff?

Yes it does have a few draw backs but they are mostly nit picky. The first one is that it uses custom dice. Always a little annoying. Thankfully Fantasy Flight is selling extra dice. Second off, while the movement templates are great and necessary, there are a lot of them. This just makes it kind of annoying since sometimes you end up searching for the one you want. Otherwise though, it is a solid game. I would recommend Fantasy Flight sell a space battle mat for the game to complete the experince.

Eye Candy! 

SUPER DUNGEON EXPLORE!!!! It's comming back yo.

Until next time all you readers out there in internet land, keep dancing with those Ekwoks.

Signing off,
Steve (Blue Leader)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Leviathans: Monsters in the Sky - Review

Release the Kraken!

Oh S*** the Kraken can't fly....

Nope, these Leviathans are big massive airships. All you Final Fantasy fans can finally get your fix of real airship combat. Apparently, in this game anyway, Tesla Coils break the very laws of physics and make giant metal ships fly.... Yes it's a science fail but that's ok, it's still a smaller science fail than most republican politicians have on a daily basis. For those of you who don't have the company's inside scoop on this game you can go check it out here, while downloading a rules PDF.

I had a chance to play this game without, thankfully, having to drop the 99.99 USD on this, hehe, Leviathan of a boxed game. In fact, I even got to play a three player game! It was a mess of ships, sadly I did not cause as much wanton distruction as I wanted due to my ship's being captained by sensible pilots... These pilots are a little different than the insane Chaos Marines I am used to in Battle Fleet Gothic. Those guys used to run into a cruiser and blow up whole armadas... Ah! those were the days.

Anyway, enough of this you probably want my inside info about this game.

Lets start with the box contents

Well you get a decent amount of stuff in this box. First off are the maps, you get two of them. They are double sided and fold up neatly. However, all of them have one map that is glued on a little wrong with blue water spilling over the the other, green, side. All in all though they were beautiful maps. Saldy they do not allow a smooth asthetic if you try and combine 4 of them. In each game you uitilze both maps for play. Hexes as you can see are 6 sided, which is important for game play.

You also get a lot of Fluffy stuff. There is a short piece of fiction for the game as well as cards that have fluff for each of the ships ( I prefer to develop my own in game fluff). All of it is very beautiful but quite unnecessary.

What is necessary are the 8 ships and their bases that are included. There are 4 British and 4 French ships. Each fleet has a Class 4 ship, a class 3 ship and 2 class one ships. There are cards for each ship as well, with alternates so you do not always have to take the same ships.

The bases are included as well. Unfortunately there isn't a universal attachment to the underside of these ships. This means you have to go searching for the right base stand for the right ship. There are also elevation stands. Sadly there are no rules for elevation yet...

Some Gripes

I say some but I have quite a few. First of all the plastic quality of these ships is aweful. It's like they used rejected 70s plastic from some third rate airplane model kit. This stuff breaks so easily you wouldn't believe it. You would think if the Masamunes could make metal hard and flexible at the same time, we in the 21st century could make some decent plastic for our cool looking game, but no. We have this crappy plastic stuff that breaks at the drop of a had. Don't press too hard when assembling the bases or those will break too!

Also the paint job is just half-hearted. I almost wish they didn't actually paint the darn things. My Heroclix have better paint jobs than these and I get 5 in a box. And good luck telling your little ships apart, because (unlike in Battlefleet Gothic) there is absolutely NO distinguishing features of same class ships.

But the game itself is pretty cool

Thankfully game play was quite fun. There are lots of guns to shoot and the charts are pretty simple. Basically each ship has a card that shows its Bow, Aft, Starboard side, and Port side. Each side has equipment that can be lost if that slot is destroyed.

The game utilizes different types of D12s. So like most games these days the cards are color coded to tell you exactly which dice to roll when you attack. You get a dice for your target ships heading, based on if it moved or not and what side your shooting at, a die for your weapon, and if present a die for crew. You roll these die and a D6 and then consult the chart. The D6 tells you what slot you hit on the ship and if your D12 rolls add up to equal or greater than the ships armor number in that spot, you destroy that section.  You use a dry erase marker to see mark what has been hit.

Ships can take quite a bit of punishment before they go down. To blow up a ship takes a lot of work. To blow up a Battleship takes even more. To destroy a ship you must successfully hit a damaged slot, and then roll two red D12 and meet or exceed the ships structural integrity. Thankfully you get a + 1 for each damaged section of a ship, and an additional +1 to the die roll for each damaged section on the side you targeted.

The way the turn works is first all players roll initiative. Then the lowest player moves their biggest ship, then the other player moves their biggest ship. You keep alternating ship movements based on the size of the ships. This represents the smaller ships being able to outmaneuver the bigger ones.

Then shooting takes place. First targets are all declared by players, then ships shoot. This is all considered to take place at the same time. Thus if you get a gun, or heaven forbid, a ship blown up in a turn, that ship/gun still gets to fire. This step takes a long time because there are a lot of guns.

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?

There are a few other rules as well. Rules for torpedoes and ramming are among the most important. There are also a few rules that apply to equipment found on the ship such as guns with saturated fire or turrets. I however, will not bother you with those, and only say they make them game very unique. Torpedoes in fact, probably have the biggest strategic advantage of anything in the game.

My opinion

I will say that while playing this game pretty much everyone at game night said, "Hey I would like to play this when you are done." Unfortunately for them this game takes a really long time because of the shooting and the durability of the ships. Scenarios may reduce this time but I doubt it would be by much.

I had fun playing it though. As far as games go however, I have better things to buy with 100 USD. The quality and contents of the box just don't add up to that amount. Future expansions may change my opinion . I may even pick up a box of ships when the fleet add ons come out just to model them up like Castle in the Sky ships.

Right now the game is limited by only having two of the factions out, and having only a limited number of ships. You in the game you can choose from two class 2 ships, 3 class 4 ships and and 1 leviathan ship. It might have been nice to have another battleship option.

I suspect this game is perfect for some people. Not really for me though. I will content myself with playing with copies owned by friends. And a warning to buyers, if you plan to play this game with younger kids, it's probably not a good idea since the ships are fragile and the game is long.


So ya this has been happening. This is probably the greatest thing to happen to the gaming world since um, dice? I have been following a number of projects and acutally backed two! ( Sedition wars and, ya i bought in, Relic Knights). If your a gamer and your not looking at this, you probably should. You get great deals and pre-releases. It's quite reputable too. It's got my seal of approval !


Sadly I haven't been doing em! Ya I'm bad but I am also painting miniatures like a fiend, and applying to grad school while working full time. YAY. So I will no longer promise anything and slip into the ranks of blogs you wish were updated more ( Cough Cough, Hyperbole, Cough Cough). That's all for that.

Mmmmmmmm Relic Knights.

Till Next time, whenever that may be, keep stealin' those airships!
Steve (Switching to Polar Seltzer)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Flash Duel

I wasn't even aware that this game came out until Pax East. Thanks to a nice discount from my Yomi tournament winnings I managed to get my hands on this hot in demand game. Mr. David Sirlin has done it again with this one. Balance, re-playability and super cute fun.

So let's get right to it! Fast and furious just like the game. Basically the game is simulating two characters in the Sirlin universe engaging in a practice duel on a beautiful bridge. There are over 500,000 different combinations of characters you can play due to the inclusion of clockwork mode.

What do you get?
You get this!

That's right, 20 characters. 10 you haven't seen in game before. 
There will be a Yomi expansion soon....

You get 3 cards for each of the 20 characters, two 25 card number decks, the Deathstrike Dragon deck, a double sided high quality board, a travel version of the board, 4 tokens for characters, a token for the dragon, and 5 Win token. You can actually carry the travel version around in the deck box. Coming in at 35 USD this is the cheapest analogue Sirlin game you can get. Pretty good price as far as I am concerned.

So let's do this thing!

Woah Woah Woah. We need the rules first. Good thing it will be done in a Flash...

*crickets chirp*

Ok not funny. Anyway how do you play?

After you choose your fighter you start on either side of the board.

 Each character has 3 ability cards. They can use one ability per player turn. 
One ability will regenerate when it's that player's turn. So use them wisely.

Each player draws 5 cards from the same 25 card deck. The deck is made up of 25 cards each having a 1-5 numerical value with 5 of each number in it. Then on your turn you can do one of four things.

1) Move: you play a numbered card and move that many spaces forward or backwards.
2) Attack: You play a card that is numbered the exact distance between your opponent and you (not counting your space). You may play from 1 -5 of the same numbered card ( two three cards, three 1 cards ect.)
3) Dashing Strike: You play two cards, one to move and one to attack.

Chibi Lum the gambling panda? Yes please!

When you get attacked you must block. To block you must throw down the same numbered card your opponent used to attack you. No more no less. If they played 2 cards on the attack, or 3, you must play that many cards of the same number. Due to the deck composition, unless you have an ability that helps you, you cannot block a 3 card strike.

If you are attacked via a dashing strike you have another option. You may retreat. If you do you simply play a card instead of blocking and move backwards that many spaces. Then on your next turn, unless your character has an ability to let you do something, you simply draw up to your 5 card hand and pass your turn.

At the end of your turn you draw up to a 5 card hand.

If the deck runs out then you go to tie breaker rules, and the round is over. Tie breaking is usually simply who advanced along the bridge the farthest. So don't cower in the corner! 

Easy peasy. All you have to do is win 3/5 rounds. When you win a round you get a win token. It is quite satisfying.

Playing Modes:
Hooooo dang. Where do I even start. You can play this game so many different ways.
This is the dragon. Apparently he is a jerk.

-With the pre-made characters
-Team battles
-Play against the dragon in co-opt mode or traitor mode
-Play with a custom designed character.

I will be perfectly honest. I have not played a lot of different ways. I have been having so much fun playing through the pre-made characters that I have been content with that. I suspect dragon mode is coming up soon though.

What would I change?

The only thing I would change about this game are the counters. I suspect that the only reason for that is that I am a miniature gamer. I want mini figs of the characters I can paint. I would pay for that, hear that Sirlin Games? I will buy that ****t if you make it. Otherwise I would have preferred simple flat cardboard with a small image of the characters on it. For the custom characters maybe just a question mark or blank ones you can drawn on.

Otherwise, here is to you Mr. Sirlin. Keep designing the crap out of stuff and keepin it real. Your stuff rocks. Yes I am a fanboy, but that should say something about the games his company produces.

Until Next time all you readers out there in interweb land, keep mashing your buttons and using those quarters ( wait, what do you mean there aren't any arcades anymore? WTF!)


Monday, April 16, 2012

Pax East

Hey all. I think I finally recovered from my term paper and Pax East. Thus I bring you, with great fanfare, my thoughts, pictures and fun times at Pax East. It's getting bigger, and if you can't go I guess this is the next best thing (Unless of course you, you know, like video games more than analogue stuff).


My Journey began quite suddenly a month before Pax East when I decided to help my home boys ( and girls) from Cool Mini or not out. These guys are so much fun plus they got me in for free ( I even got to wear the coveted exhibitor badge for a little while so I could come in early and stay late for break down).

I have to tell you, the gaming convention is way cool before and after hours. The booths are all empty and all the exhibitors are hanging out with the press and playing each others games. You sooooo wish you were as cool as me right now.

Anyway I started my time out with the CMON guys at their booth. Anna, Travis, Ross, and Kevin were great. I brought my Super Dungeon Explore stuff to demo with and I actually got tired of people saying I was a good painter. That's right, those are my minis in that case!

This is how you know you've made it. 
When your miniatures end up in the Cool Mini or Not cases at a con.

Anyway I did rapid fire demos of Super dungeon explore and Relic Knights for people during my shifts. They seemed to enjoy it and I even got to kill a few Heroes (which if you are a consul player is one of the greater joys in life). We had some really great minis at the booth, and I even acquired a few relic knights minis.

You don't want to hear about my demos though, you want the hot cosplay girls right? 

Ross got really excited when Jessica said Hi to him at the CMON booth. 
But he had a fanboy moment so he didn't get a pic with her.

Too bad, Jessica Nigiri (did I spell that right?) was told to put on clothes and go somewhere else by Pax East people who have a strict no revealing clothing policy for "booth babes" (sorry to fling that term around Anna). But I must say these megaman cosplayers were my absolute favorite costumes (possibly ever!). They even had light up blasters and other LED bits!

Rock Man and Roll mega babes.

Some Ghost Busters made an appearance too just in case any pesky ghouls were around. Good thing too considering the Stay Puft Marshmellow man was wandering around. 

I ain't afraid of no ghost (Zombies are terrifying though!)

The video game area was always hopping. The league of Legends booth was packed to the brim with narrated battles on big screens and people wanting exclusive skins. I tracked down a few for my friends (since I don't play) and while doing so found $11 on the floor. Score! instant Karma, just add intentions. 

I was really excited to play this game called "Dino Go Home" but it really let me down. So I headed over to the Nintendo booth and tried out Kid Icarus 3-D. Awesome. If I played anything more than Galaga on my 3DS I would probably buy it....

Kid Icarus here was a great cosplayer. F you Medusa!

The Aliens booth was pretty cool too. 

I'd bring you more but I had a strict no lines policy at Pax 
and there was a very large line.

There was a great vendor there too. I wanted to buy something from them but I just didn't have the funds. Go check out there T shirts and pins. My favorite is a Zelda shirt that looks like the cover to the Giving Tree. It has Link under the tree and it says "The Deku Tree". They are here.

Geek Chic was also there sporting, as usual, the most amazing furniture I have ever seen. I would never do their products justice so just go check it out.

Now the stuff I really want to talk about.

The gaming area. Wow. This place was packed all the time. I didn't really understand what Pax East meant to gaming distributors. Apparently it is primarily used to recruit new players to games. New demographic and all. Talking to the guys at Steve Jackson Games I learned they only lose money going to Pax East. They don't sell anything, they just go to demo. That is some powerful branding right there.

Speaking of Steve Jackson Games, it is rare that I can bring you a truly inside scoop but here it is!

So Ogre was the very first game designed by Steve Jackson. He put it out in 1977. It is a two player game. One person controls a literal army and the other a single, very large ogre. They fight. It is epic. And everything in it (according to my sources) was very balanced. 
Anyway Ogre is slated for release. It is going to be a $100 dollar game that is packed to the brim with stuff! In fact there is so much stuff in it currently that the company will be losing thousands of dollars. Steve doesn't care though, in fact, he loves the game so much he wants to put MORE in the box. It is probably even going to go up on kickstarter for all you fanboys who might want to help the game out. No matter what happens though, Ogre promises to be a good release and definitely worth the money you put into it. Sorry I don't have any pictures for you but it wasn't at the con. Here are some Dino Hunt dice though! 
Dino Hunt, by Steve Jackson Games. Don't get stepped on.

Guess who I got to meet at the con. Nope, wrong. I met David Sirlin! The master mind behind Yomi, Puzzle Strike and Flash Duel! This guy is like my board game hero. He is totally indy and takes great care to balance his games.

On that note I managed to observe the Puzzle Strike tournament where my friend did abysmally ( you know who you are :P ) and then I almost won the Yomi tournament with Setsuki- speed of the fox!

 Ya it's from flash duel, wanna fight about it?

I was taken down by a first class gentleman named Noah who Agragared me (agragarargarararg). A shout out to Nate as well for his wonderful mirror dueling skills, all our games came down to single digit point values. I used the prize money to pick up Sirlin's newest game, Flash Duel. I'll be reviewing that soon so I won't say anything other than it is fast. It is also popular, so popular it sold out very quickly much to the fans' chagrin.

Sadly, I did not get a picture with Mr. Sirlin, he was only there Friday. Thankfully I did get him to sign my copy of Flash Duel!

Also got to demo Miskatonic School for Girls. Basically you and your friends at the all girl school are trying to stave off the insanity forced upon you by faculty who are actually poorly disguised elderich horrors. This was a fun quirky card game. It is a deck building game where your opponents basically build your deck. It's not a matter of who loses/goes insane, it's a matter of who does it the slowest. I had a great time playing this game and ended up with a copy utilizing my awesome connections.

You will lose your sanity. Just try to do it slower than others.

Well that was my time at Pax. I had a lot of fun, if you can get down to Pax East do it, it's definitly worth it if you don't spend all your time in line. As I was walking out the door (after helping to break down) I noticed this little gem of a cosplayer too. 

So long until next year Pink Ranger. Fly that Pterodactyl Zord high.

One thing I learned while at Pax East was that I am, at my heart, a retro gamer. My favorite video game booth was the stand up arcade console booth. I got to play Galaga, Extreme Asteroids, as well as some others. All for free. Yup, the arcade experience for free, with no lines. Guess everyone else was too busy waiting in line to play the Assassin's Creed demo. Atari and NES forever.

Until Next time all you readers out there in Internet land, keep on gaming. Be it analogue or video, it's all good in the hood. 

- Steve (Voltron is the better)