Sorry, Charlie - Armada, Fief, Eclipse, Greed, and Seekers of a Hidden Light

Sorry, Charlie - Armada, Fief, Eclipse, Greed, and Seekers of a Hidden Light

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A look at a mound of games tormenting my table and a brief indulgence of Fury Road.

 


 

 

I consider myself somewhat of a film buff and I spend way too much time watching movies and TV.  In the past couple of weeks I've seen Chappie, Elysium, Ex Machina, the first Harry Potter, even re-watched the fantastic Interstellar.  However, my mind is 100% full-throttle affixed to Fury Road, despite seeing it over a week ago.  I even found myself putting up with Spanish subtitles so that I could re-watch a few scenes on a janky stream.  It's so fresh and new and I wholly believe it will be regarded as one of the best action films ever made, right up there with Aliens and Terminator 2.  For now I wander around yelling out "MEDIOCRE!" when my wife suggests something for dinner, and mumbling "What a lovely day" when driving down my suburban block.

On the gaming front I've been knee-deep in releases and trudging through mountains of quality lately.  I'm a pessimistic guy in general, but I'm still going to carry the flag for 2014 in particular as it's one of the better years in recent memory for new releases.  2015 hasn't been too shabby but not nearly as prolific thus far.


Star Wars: Armada

Like everyone else, Armada impressed me.  It feels correct and it tows the company line of trust that Fantasy Flight has earned with me concerning Star Wars in particular.  The large grey monsters waddle through the muck while the Rebels cut through the black like sharks on the hunt.  Full broadsides, leaking reactors and fighters biting at the heels of the colossus are all there.  It doesn't feel quite as on the nose as X-Wing in terms of capturing the feel of the classic trilogy, but it's certainly close enough. 

Star Wars: Armada Review


Fief

This is kind of an odd duck from Academy Games.  It sets itself up as a grand strategy game that takes a good chunk of time to dive into, and then it hits you with a random touch of the plague that kills off your entire noble line and half your troops.  Jim's sitting off in the corner snickering because fate didn't release an arrow his way and all you can do is grind your fist into the cheap plastic folding table your mom left for you in the basement and drown your sorrows in a root beer.

Yet, I'm a huge fan.  The narrative is engrossing as nobles rise from the charred land to claim titles and maneuver into the church hierarchy.  If fate doesn't twist the dagger into Jim's kidneys then you surely can as you burn his cities and cut down his mills.  It's an evil game and it's anything but dull.  I dig games with personality and Fief is one of the most interesting people in the room.

Fief Review


Eclipse

I know you're all groaning but Eclipse is one of my favorite games and I'm willing to stand by that until I die.  I think I've played it somewhere around 30 times and it continually delivers on what it sets out to do.  I'm not a fan of the dreaded "spreadsheet" game or of managing the draining economies of a destitute nation, but this release just works for me on many levels.  Eclipse is just so fluid and easy.

I took the opportunity to finally review this favorite of mine over at The Review Corner, and I'm sure it's a piece Michael had to grit his teeth to make it through the editing process.

Eclipse Review


Greed

Greed was the game I played the most at Geekway to the West this year.  I had picked it up for very cheap in a recent sale and had just minimal expectations.  It shattered those expectations and I kept finding myself suggesting we pull it out for a quick 30 minute game. 

Like Eclipse, it just leaps from the shelf and fights its way into your gaming session.  It's easy to setup, easy to teach, and extremely easy to play.  It constantly rewards you in a natural and satisfying way that completely trounces the obfuscated façade of depth in 7 Wonders.  This is a game I can see myself continuing to play over and over again throughout the coming months and it made my short list of titles to bring to Origins.

Greed Review


Shadows Of Malice: Seekers Of A Hidden Light

I shouted the praise for Shadows Of Malice a few months ago in my review of the base game.  When Jim Felli gave me the opportunity to review an advanced copy from the printer for the upcoming expansion I leapt at the opportunity.  Unsurprisingly Devious Weasel hit the mark again, as this expansion is excellent.

The addition of quests provides a new dynamic and natural tension to the game as you have another very rewarding element to devote your precious actions to.  The shadows won't stop coming and bearing down on the simmering wells of light so you will need to make some measured decisions which will have an impact on the course of your story. 

This is just a phenomenal game full of charm and the expansion fits expertly into the design.

Shadows Of Malice: Seekers Of A Hidden Light Review


On The Horizon

Right now I'm all about Camp Grizzly.  This is the first release from Ameritrash Games and it's a doozy.  Dan Thurot beat me to the scoop with an excellent review, but I will be delivering my counter soon enough.

I also am eager to get the new Shadow of Death expansion for Spartacus to the table.  The new boast mechanic looks great and should add to the already hefty brinksmanship of the game.  The new Sons of Anarchy Calaveras expansion looks solid as well; their gang ability is killer.

Aetherium and Specter Ops are further down the line.  Both look to have great potential.  By the time I get to those I hope to be smugly wallowing in the collective pain of Blackhawk nation.  If they win the cup again, well, then you'll likely find me at the bottom of a glass.

Sorry, Charlie - Armada, Fief, Eclipse, Greed, and Seekers of a Hidden Light There Will Be Games
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Posted: 02 Jun 2015 08:34 by Black Barney #203237
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yay fun article!

Man, saying that Mad Max is up there with Aliens has really made me need to this now. I'm going to go today at 4pm I think.

The first Harry Potter movie is TERRIBLE. I hope you felt the same. It's awkward as hell watching Emma Watson at that age too. Have you seen the others? If not, just watch the 3rd one and the last one. Both of those are excellent, the rest are run of the mill. The first two are awful.

I love Eclipse and don't have it anymore. I think that's a game that plays better in a video game but I'm not sure.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 08:42 by charlest #203238
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I have the Eclipse iPad app and it's not better. It's a solid app but I'm annoyed with having to constantly check other's tech lists and having to mess around with scrolling all over the place. Trash talking is also integral to the experience in my opinion, including harassing people over making a move towards the center hex and warning a neighbor who appears as if he's about to attack me.

Oh god, yes. My wife and I quit Harry Potter half-way through. Having never seen any of them before I felt it was very weak. Terrible, clichéd plot and crappy acting. Nothing even interesting going on. I think I'll try and get through it again when my daughter's old enough if she's interested.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 09:02 by Columbob #203239
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Black Barney wrote:
Man, saying that Mad Max is up there with Aliens has really made me need to this now. I'm going to go today at 4pm I think.
So I spend a week away from this place and what do I see when I get back? Barney intending to see Mad Max a whole 4 days earlier than previously stated!?! I'd better leave again, this is just too much.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 09:11 by Gary Sax #203240
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Interested in Fief. Sounds kind of cool.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 09:41 by charlest #203245
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Gary Sax wrote:
Interested in Fief. Sounds kind of cool.

One of the reasons I really dig it is because I've kind of sworn off Game of Thrones due to the pace and length of the game. It just moves too slowly in my opinion and our 5 hour games weren't dynamic enough. Fief has consistently hit 3 hours with 5-6 and the map and situation changes more rapidly. It's a long game that doesn't quite feel long.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 10:10 by Black Barney #203249
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Columbob wrote:
Black Barney wrote:
Man, saying that Mad Max is up there with Aliens has really made me need to this now. I'm going to go today at 4pm I think.
So I spend a week away from this place and what do I see when I get back? Barney intending to see Mad Max a whole 4 days earlier than previously stated!?! I'd better leave again, this is just too much.

Hehe, there's still a floating plan to see it this Saturday and now some friend(s) want to see it next week. So I might end up having to see this 3 times in less than a week.

I still think I want to see it by myself today just to make sure I see it in case the other two plans fall apart. I need to start seeing more movies in theatres, I've been lacking as of late.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 10:35 by Mad Dog #203251
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I'd like to hear more about the benefits of discarding explored hexes. I've played a handful of times and don't recall anyone actually doing that.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 11:16 by charlest #203254
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Mad Dog wrote:
I'd like to hear more about the benefits of discarding explored hexes. I've played a handful of times and don't recall anyone actually doing that.

Sure, so performing an action in Eclipse is a cost, one that players of course easily recognize and cognizant of. The action economy is the main engine of Eclipse and the most important element to success. A player who is competent strategically and settles a ton of economy-granting planets will have a huge advantage over someone who downplays the economy.

So it's not surprising most people don't even want to remember the discard hex rule as it has an apparently significant cost of wasting an action.

Now, I'm not suggesting players should be discarding hexes all the time or that it's a huge strategy element of the game, but it's part of the depth and another nuance to be aware of. I'd say there's at least 1 instance every game where someone should have discarded a hex but didn't.

When exploring the inner ring (the 1 planets), you should be more willing to discard than when exploring the 3rd sector. The 1 planets are a huge boon to an empire and provide a potentially large amount of resources. If you draw a 1 tile that doesn't have a grey or an economy, I'd almost instantly consider discarding it unless the rest of your empire is setup to make up for this (economy flush). There are instances where you may want to keep it also if you really need some more science or if you're going monoliths and it has two brown planets, etc. Typically though, you NEED economy and I wouldn't accept an inner ring planet that didn't offer the most precious resource in the game.

Also, wormholes affect the quality of a hex. If you grab an inner ring hex that has tons of connections when you're race is not built for war (or the opposite), it may further be an impetus to discard. I would value the wormhole connections much lower than seeking out economy but it's another factor. I've seen players lose the game because they left themselves too open to invasion with too many connected wormholes to neighbors. Make your neighbors fly through the center hex exposing their ass to other players or pay out the nose for wormhole generator. Of course, reverse this if you're Orion Hedgemony with an Antimatter cannon and you want to blow the shit out of people.

The second ring, again, I'd be more likely to discard than a third ring. Not quite as much as the first ring though.

Third ring I will only discard if it's a planet without a discovery token and that only yields build and/or science. If it offers both build and science I'd have to think long about it. I'd always recommend grabbing the discovery token sectors though and just abandoning them with an Influence action or through tactical bankruptcy if needed. Those discovery tokens are huge (also, value the 2 points correctly as that's a large amount and you may not need that 8 science on the other side).

Another reason you may need to discard tiles is too many ancients building up around you. If you start out as humans or a weaker alien race (such as Planta) placing that third hex around you with ancients will hurt your momentum much more than spending an action to explore and then discard.

Back to the action economy in the game - if you drop ancients nearby you're going to need to spend actions to upgrade your ship blueprints as well as actions to build (usually a dreadnaught early). These are actions you could have used exploring anyway. Furthermore, these upgrade actions are wasted if in a couple turns you get improved hull and need to totally reconfigure your ships.

Don't get me wrong, ancient occupied hexes are great and if you can get one or two around your hex (and not exclusively) you will be fine. They generally yield greater rewards and the VP from combat is always welcome. Just make sure you will win and don't throw a cruiser and interceptor against them if you haven't upgraded. Typically I'll go with building a dreadnaught and upgrade it with another couple points of hull and send it with my interceptor. If you're fighting two ancients you'll need more.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 16:45 by stoic #203280
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I used to feel the same way about Eclipse until I purchased and played Space Empires 4X along with its Close Encounters Expansion. Now, I'd gladly just keep Space Empires 4X et al because you can scale it down for a small, quick game or you can scale it up in complexity for an all-day affair. Plus, Space Empires 4X is soon going to get a face-lift with its upcoming Replicators expansion which will make it look as chromed as Eclipse.
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 17:03 by Mad Dog #203283
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So Space Empires 4X is going to be the Eclipse-killer? Can I shit all over SE4 now like the TI3 fans did to Eclipse?
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 17:36 by stoic #203285
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Mad Dog wrote:
So Space Empires 4X is going to be the Eclipse-killer? Can I shit all over SE4 now like the TI3 fans did to Eclipse?

Not a killa, just becoming unnecessary in my collection. ;-)
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 20:33 by KingPut #203292
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charlest wrote:
Gary Sax wrote:
Interested in Fief. Sounds kind of cool.

One of the reasons I really dig it is because I've kind of sworn off Game of Thrones due to the pace and length of the game. It just moves too slowly in my opinion and our 5 hour games weren't dynamic enough. Fief has consistently hit 3 hours with 5-6 and the map and situation changes more rapidly. It's a long game that doesn't quite feel long.

Nice write up on Fief. I wasn't sure if I liked Fief 24 hours after I played the first time. But now that 4-5 days have gone by I'd like to try it again soon. It's that type of game that you just have to embrace the random craziness and go with it. I swore off Game of Thrones after a few plays. I think Uba's one sentence review of GoT was perfect. "You spend 7-8 boring turns arranging the furniture and dusting then you attack and back stab everyone and everyone goes home mad and grumpy except the person that won"
Posted: 02 Jun 2015 20:43 by SuperflyTNT #203295
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We should play Eclipse at Origins.
Posted: 03 Jun 2015 12:05 by jgriff #203340
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KingPut wrote:

Nice write up on Fief. I wasn't sure if I liked Fief 24 hours after I played the first time. But now that 4-5 days have gone by I'd like to try it again soon. It's that type of game that you just have to embrace the random craziness and go with it. I swore off Game of Thrones after a few plays. I think Uba's one sentence review of GoT was perfect. "You spend 7-8 boring turns arranging the furniture and dusting then you attack and back stab everyone and everyone goes home mad and grumpy except the person that won"

Fief is really an old school game. Despite the kickstarter and the Euro-style components, it's from 1981 originally. The zany "a player loses every single family member to the plague" from random die rolls from a random event is both the charm and bane of a game like that. It creates a memorable moment but it feels like shit when it happens.

The big issue in our group is the time commitment. I suspect it's alot like TI3 in the huge playtime at first and then it gets to a manageable timeframe after a few plays. Also, like TI3, I think the number of players is a huge factor in playtime. It's listed as 2 hrs and I've heard alot of people play it in 3 hours. Our first play was like 5 hours (5 player) and the one last week (6players, 5 new players) was over 7hrs. I think the full 6 player table extends the game significantly since the board is tighter and it's harder to get to the magical 3 or 4 vps. In a 3-4 player game, I imagine everyone is at 2 VPs rather quickly so the endgame is alot faster.

If it's a 2 or 3 hour game, then the randomness isn't a big deal. In a 7 hour slugfest, losing on a random event sucks.
Posted: 03 Jun 2015 15:21 by charlest #203350
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I wouldn't play Fief with 3-4 personally. Ideally 5 players (3 hours) but would do 6 players (3.5-4 hours).

I'd be up for that Pete if someone has it. I didn't pay for a board room ribbon and I'm not bringing it. Also, I'm with 3 other people so not sure how much I will be available. 6 player Eclipse is a bit long but do-able.
Posted: 03 Jun 2015 15:24 by wadenels #203351
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I got Fief with the expansions (but not the upgraded bits) from the Kickstarter but I haven't gotten to play it yet. Everything I read about it gets me more excited though. I like the old-school design pedigree, and I don't really get why nowadays "random craziness" is a bad thing even if it is a long game.