Barnes on Games- Imperial Assault Expansions/Star Trek Five Year Mission Reviews, Moongha Invaders,

Barnes on Games- Imperial Assault Expansions/Star Trek Five Year Mission Reviews, Moongha Invaders, Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Imperial Assault

Better with Boba.

I have to say that I’m actually kind of impressed with the new Imperial Assault expansion, The Twin Shadows. I think it’s a big improvement in terms of setting and narrative over the base game, and I find myself almost wishing that they had done this “mini campaign” as the entry point. It feels more like SW and it requires a MUCH smaller time/group commitment. There is also some cool stuff going on it like how C-3PO and R2-D2 function in a combat-oriented game. The skirmish stuff is really kind of more of the same in terms of similar boring scenarios and new cards, but more diversity of units can do nothing but help that side of the design. The game has grown on me somewhat, and playing Twin Shadows has made me realize that a lot of the issues I had with the base game last year were due to it simply not having enough touch points with the expectations the source material creates. This set fixes that.

The new Ally/Villain packs carry on the same annoying tradition of just replacing cardboard tokens, but I mean come on…like you want Boba Fett to be a little flat disc in this game. It’s pretty galling that he’s on the cover of the expansion but you buy him separately, but there it is.

Reviews are up at Miniature Market’s Review Corner.

I’ve also filed my two star review for Star Trek: Five Year Mission. Do not bother with this one, it's bad. I actually thought about rating it one star, but that would not be fair given my editorial parameters for a one star game since it does work as advertised and it has no serious mechanical issues or problems. It just sucks. Talk about a game not having enough touch points- it’s about as “thematic” as some of you people say as one of those licensed Yahtzee sets that come out around Christmas time. Sure, there are tons of muddy-looking, low-res stills from both TOS and TNG and each crew member has a special ability…but in no way does rolling standard D6 dice to try to get a 1-3 straight to beat Q or whatever capture any theme present in Star Trek. This is definitely a game that was not designed as a Trek title from the ground up. I suspect that it was some kind of generic co-op adventure thing that Mayfair just stuck some Trek pictures found on Google image search all over. Avoid this one, it’s probably the worst thing I’ve played all year. There are three positives- it can play up to eight without it taking as many hours, those players can drop in and out at leisure, and it gets people talking about Trek.

I got the new edition of Moongha Invaders last night so I persuaded a couple of friends to come over to check it out. I was pretty excited because I really liked it a lot the couple of times I played it back in 2010, but was never willing to blow $100-$200 on it. Man, what a let down. None of us really enjoyed it. My friends both thought it felt slow to get going and I totally agreed. It just isn’t a cut-loose game. It’s almost like it’s designed to make you wait with all of these tiny, incremental turns leading up to a big play that may or may not even be all that great. The setting is cool and all, I like a lot of things about it (including, paradoxically, the “charging” mechanic where you build up attack chits for a big blow-out attack later on), but I kind of wonder if the appeal of this game in 2015 is different than it was in 2010.

So I dunno, I need to play it a few more times (and with four) to see if whatever it was I saw in it in 2010 wasn’t just a result of really wanting this kind of game to exist. But I actually kind of found myself wishing that were playing Monsters Menace America (the reprint) instead.

The production sucks. Noxious made-in-China fumes waft out of the box when you open it. The illustrations are OK, but the old black/white/red look was much more distinct. The miniatures are awful- bright primary colors, dollar store army man quality sculpts. And they are WAY too big for the board. You put Mechoor and a couple of the stupid rubble pieces in a space, and there’s no room for all of the Drakoors, hidden monsters, army pieces, heroes and other tokens. Let alone another Mechoor. But hey, it comes with a poster!

Interestingly, the two player variant included as some kind of Kickstarter bonus is a completely different game that just uses the hero pieces and one color of monster from the base game. It looks like a basic, grid-based skirmish game with some card activations and special equipment. It may be OK, but it also seems to be a value-add rather than a selling point.

Secret of the Lost Tomb is growing on me…it is a mess, but there are a few qualities about it that I really like in spite of some truly hideous graphic design (I think there are like five different fonts on the box cover alone). I wish that the designer had focused the content on ONE setting instead of trying to do them all and I would have liked to have seen the game go through professional development to sand off some of the more egregious amateur mistakes (like having custom D12s when standard D6s would have sufficed), but there is something here worth looking at. If the words “Arkham Horror dungeoncrawl” sound good to you, it may be worth looking at.

Mistfall is also really growing on me. I’m kind of obsessed with it in a weird way. It also is a mess, but more because it’s a quite complicated game. I think you guys that are really into LOTR LCG should take a look at it in particular, as well as those of you who were put off by Pathfinder’s simplicity. Mage Knight fans might also find this one very worthwhile.

Cube Quest came in the mail today…another one I requested like a year ago. Looks really fun.

Barnes on Games- Imperial Assault Expansions/Star Trek Five Year Mission Reviews, Moongha Invaders, There Will Be Games
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Posted: 01 Oct 2015 10:16 by hotseatgames #211707
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Cube Quest is a blast.
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 10:43 by wkover #211712
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Barnes on Moongha:

The setting is cool and all, I like a lot of things about it (including, paradoxically, the “charging” mechanic where you build up attack chits for a big blow-out attack later on), but I kind of wonder if the appeal of this game in 2015 is different than it was in 2010.

So I dunno, I need to play it a few more times (and with four) to see if whatever it was I saw in it in 2010 wasn’t just a result of really wanting this kind of game to exist. But I actually kind of found myself wishing that were playing Monsters Menace America (the reprint) instead.


The game's the same, with the same appeal. It's just that the hype wagon has thrown a wheel. (Rhyming bonus!)

I dredged up my 2010 comments on Moongha, which are pretty darn close to your current thoughts:

I only started having fun on the second-to-last turn (turn 7 of 8), which is when the board finally started filling up with monsters, heroes, and military units. That's a bad sign for a supposedly delicious monster killfest. Rating gets a one-point bump due to the fact that I successfully fired off the only nuke in the game.

Frankly, if I'm in the mood for a B movie, Monsters Menace America beats Moongha Invaders by an alien mile.


Edit to state the obvious: if you want a Euro-ish area control experience, Moongha might be your bag. If you want stupid fun, MMA is the way to go.


(Standard disclaimer: My tastes in games are four standard deviations from the norm. Any norm. Take your pick.)
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 11:00 by jpat #211713
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I got Twin Shadows and have had to fight my feeling of "doing it wrong" or somehow "spoiling" it by starting there with the mini-campaign instead of with the base set. The Descent problem is magnified in IA because of the ostensible lack of divisibility of the campaign; whereas Descent gives you adventures that can be played separately or strung together, IA is, in its own terms, campaign only, and a long one at that. I actually got Descent played again a month or so ago, but I haven't gotten that group back together again, and I fear that the same type of thing will happen with a long IA campaign unless it's just my wife and me (and even then it might).
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 11:08 by bfkiller #211716
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I would love to own Imperial Assault to play with the wife but goddammit is it ridiculously expensive, even without getting the minis to replace the tokens.
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 12:18 by SuperflyTNT #211728
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Cube Quest will likely let you down. I've gone rounds with Hotseat about it and we have agreed to agree that he's wrong, or something like that. It's so utterly simple, and if you play with someone who has any flick skills, the "game" lasts 3 turns, at most.

It's just bad. Great for kids, though.

Same with 5-Year-Mission. It just sucks. It has tons of faux-tension, where what you do doesn't matter but it is presented in such a way that you feel like it should, primarily because you 'care' about Star Trek. It's just poorly designed, and I would absolutely prefer Yachtzee to it, or if you want a more like comparison, I'd prefer Roll For It to it. Yuckwagon.

I'm thoroughly underwhelmed with Imperial Assault. A lot of it is so contrived that it takes away from the game. Well, maybe not a lot, but putting an AT-ST into a 10x10 room is just bullshit. Doom is better, IMHO. It's not horrible, but it's basically a dumbed down (read: streamlined, elegant) version of Descent, with some stormtrooper white paint slapped on. Unimpressed. If you like Descent you'll probably like it.

I've never played Moongha but it sounds like it wants to be smarter than it should be.
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 15:39 by SebastianBludd #211748
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
Same with 5-Year-Mission. It just sucks. It has tons of faux-tension, where what you do doesn't matter but it is presented in such a way that you feel like it should, primarily because you 'care' about Star Trek. It's just poorly designed, and I would absolutely prefer Yachtzee to it, or if you want a more like comparison, I'd prefer Roll For It to it. Yuckwagon.

I've been seriously eyeing Ancient Terrible Things after you spoke highly of it in another thread but it looks like both it and 5-Year Mission have Yahtzee mechanics. Why does ATT work but not 5YM?
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 18:51 by SuperflyTNT #211754
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It has much more flavor, to begin. With 5YM you basically draw cards and try to hit bogeys, and you have some character powers that can affect things. In ATT, it's much more like Quarriors or something in that you have places you move to and enact that space's powers. It may seem similar on paper, but 5YM is more like Roll For It: Advanced Version and ATT is sort of like Ghost Stories: The Dice Game, although it's adversarial.
Posted: 01 Oct 2015 23:18 by Grudunza #211761
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I should be the audience for Mistfall, as I do love both LOTR LCG and Mage Knight, but I recall trying to watch Rahdo's runthrough of it during the KS campaign and my head spinning. Granted, Mage Knight was a monster to learn, but it was worth it, ultimately. So I'll be hoping for a more detailed write-up on that before getting interested. It would take a lot at this point to sway me, though, as I'm feeling more content lately to just enjoy what I already have in MK, rather than thinking I need something else in that same kind of vein. That being said, I've already preordered the new Star Trek version of MK, but that should be a lateral move, and not learning some entirely new game system.
Posted: 03 Oct 2015 03:52 by Shapeshifter #211820
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Wow, didn't see that coming....Moongha invaders actually dissapointing. I played 2 sessions of this game back in 2010 and it was one of the few games were everyone at the table immediatly logged into an online gamestore to order a copy. We had very different tastes in games generally, so it was quite remarkable. Both sessions were incredibly tense affairs, with a building up towards an amazing crescendo (don't remember this being slow) with the final set of turns being almost unbearable: each move would totally change the situation.
I was impressed by the elegance of it all, and despite the short rules-set how much crucial decission-points it offered.

So now I'm very reluctant to delve into the new version.
All these years the original version was sitting on my shelve, and I almost always decided not to play it just out of fear it would suddenly dissapoint and blow away those fond memories of those 2 magical sessions. Kinda silly when I write it down like this...but still. And now it looks like the new version will also add some dissapointment on the visual front.
I actually was the only one at the table who liked the original art/board visuals. Everyone felt it was the weakes part of the game. I kinda thought they were very destinctive looking, full of character and charm. It had that underground comics vibe going...

Ah well...better keep my first edition copy.
Maybe I will give it a play one of these days...and maybe it will still blow me away. who knows.
Posted: 03 Oct 2015 20:36 by Chapel #211838
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Hey Barnes, don't dis the production. I was going to trade this version of Moongha for an original version, and I need people hyped about it!