Barnes on Games: Champions of Midgard and Survive! Space Attack! in Review, Cthulhu Wars, Thunderbirds, new VPG titles

Barnes on Games: Champions of Midgard and Survive! Space Attack! in Review, Cthulhu Wars, Thunderbirds, new VPG titles Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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A very good WP game and something made by a F:ATtie.

First up- Champions of Midgard. I'm kind of surprised this game isn't getting more attention here. It's a very fun, very approachable worker placement game in the vein of Waterdeep or Stone Age. It adds some fun monster fighting, dice drafting and lots of good fantasy Viking stuff. It's easy to play, but it lacks a sense of escalation and it may be a bit repetitive for some folks. It's kind of a meat-and-potatoes design, and I quite like that- very on the level, very cut-and-dried. But it also has a few neat tricks, like this awesome "Blame" mechanic where the person who whiffs the troll fight earns the scorn of the village...or if he makes the kill, he gets to effectively point at another upstart Jarl and say "well, where the hell were you?"

Second is Survive! Space Attack!, a review over at the Review Corner. F:AT's own Geoff Englestein and his family are the re-imaginers, and I think they did an outstanding job of preserving everything great about Survive! while gently introducing some new concepts that are totally in the spirit of the original. Stronghold games is definitely doing right by the classic Survive! brand, and although I was iffy about a change in setting I think it succeeds.

Cthulhu Wars is pretty much all I want to play right now. I absolutely love it, and I'm really quite stunned by how good a design it is. It's VERY stripped down, very highly editorial and refined. There is no fat or filler in the design, and it is one of those that doesn't put ANYTHING in the way of having fun. Except that price point. It's definitely a "Cadillac class" game, but at least it is an extremely good one that may actually deserve to be an expensive centerpiece for a collection. The figures actually made me laugh, they're so audacious. Review on this will be next week.

I put in a request at Modiphius for Thunderbirds and without notice it showed up like two days later. It's a new Matt Leacock co-op design, and I think it may be his best game to date. It's really well done, and like a GF9 game it's like he sat down to design and he started with "What does a Thunderbirds fan want to do in this game". Because presumably, everyone would say "pilot the Thunderbird machines around the world, rescuing people and fighting The Hood." The teamwork aspect is pretty neat, you have use the machines to get around and you can pick up anybody. You can also load pod vehicles onto Thunderbird-2 to take to disaster locations. The system is really very simple, has lots of fun die rolls, and I _love_ the way it stages the Hood's schemes so you have three crisis points throughout the game where if he reaches them on his track, the game ends. And you have to handle that while also dealing with the disasters, which can also end the game. It's a neat, colorful game that borrows a major gameplay element from...Life. The board game, not life.

I've also got a couple of new ones from VPG on the pile...one is The Hunt, a new Jeremy Lennert (Darkest Night) piece that sounds a little like Black Morn Manor. Up to six players go into a house hunting a monster, but one of them IS the monster. It's a deduction thing where you have to fight other players using magic weapons to try to deduce who is the monster and what weapon you'll need to use on them. Could be really neat. The other is Wings for the Baron, which is about aeroplane manufacturing in Germany during WWI. It's an esoteric subject, but I like that. It looks to be an economic game where you develop technologies to get contracts from the government, all the while the war is going on and things like morale, inflation and the effectiveness of allied airpower affects what you do. It sounds great, but I have to say that it definitely has a spreadsheet look. Which may be appropriate thematically.

 

 

Barnes on Games: Champions of Midgard and Survive! Space Attack! in Review, Cthulhu Wars, Thunderbirds, new VPG titles There Will Be Games
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Posted: 06 Nov 2015 19:46 by ubarose #214390
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Cthulhu Wars is pretty much all I want to play right now too.
Posted: 06 Nov 2015 20:00 by Michael Barnes #214393
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If it were more sanely priced, I think it would be all anyone here would want to play.

But you know...I kind of think it wouldn't be the same without those obnoxious figures. I read a comment from Sandy Petersen that he chose the colors because he wanted them to be like old fashioned plastic dinosaurs.

God, I love that.
Posted: 06 Nov 2015 20:06 by bfkiller #214394
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I've tried Cthulhu Wars twice. It didn't do much for me. I thought the pacing was off and it ended both times just when things started getting interesting.
Posted: 06 Nov 2015 20:50 by JonJacob #214396
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That's quite enough talk about Cthulhu Wars now thank you. It's prohibitively expensive, especially for someone off the market for now, so I can't even think about it and yet... here I am, thinking about it.

No.

I did love the Survive re-theme though. I was very impressed at how much it felt like Survive, the bones of that game are clearly very strong. I do prefer the original setting simply because it's less common, but I have to admit that the reimagining was fantastic. After having played for years it's refreshing to have the game feel new again and the tiny rule tweaks are so subtle the game doesn't change much... but it's enough to feel worth it. I can actually see a good reason to own both. If your group is like our ... ie: Survive addicts.
Posted: 06 Nov 2015 23:10 by SuperflyTNT #214400
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I liked it enough due to that one play to make me seek out a trade I could tolerate for it. That ~rarely~ happens.

You have to really like minimalist designs and old-school wargames to like it. Not hex and counter type shit, but more like something along the Supremacy line, kind of. Definitely unique, definitely fun.

The big monsters do add some gravitas to it, I have to admit. Playing with giant, evil little dolls is pretty much always awesome. If you can't agree with the last sentence, this game pretty much isn't for you. I think if it had 1/4 size big bosses it would still rock, but I would be less interested in owning it.

Fun damned game. Can't wait until it gets here.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 05:54 by drewcula #214408
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The hell with it. I'm going all in.
Between PM'ing Pete and Charlie, Michael's brief opinion of CW is sending me over the edge.

To subsidize the cost, I've been selling off some choice pieces from the collection. An added benefit is opened shelf space!

As an aside, I spoke with Sandy and Arthur at Gencon. Nice fellas. Sandy signed my CoC 2nd edition, and my Field Guide. When I criticized them both for their first KS, they assured me they learned a lot, and encouraged me to follow them in October. They gave me two CW minis and I was on my way.

While I'm not as impressed with the developing CW KS as I thought I would be, it's still an opportunity for me to get all this shit at once.
FYI - the new faction is going to be cast in pink.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 06:04 by ThirstyMan #214409
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drewcula wrote:
Sandy signed my CoC 2nd edition.

Sandy knows you VERY well then....
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 10:09 by JonJacob #214418
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ThirstyMan wrote:
drewcula wrote:
Sandy signed my CoC 2nd edition.

Sandy knows you VERY well then....

Nah, he lets everyone and their uncle sign that thing.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 10:30 by Michael Barnes #214421
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Get this- I get a package yesterday and its a 2nd copy of Cthulhu Wars! I have two now! I'm sure it was a mistake, I've contacted them to see what they want me to do with it...maybe if I sell it and agree to pledge that amount...

I'm not going to lie. I would totally go all in, $600 for all expansions if I could afford it. Yeah, I could buy like 12 other games for that...but a) I don't want to buy and store 12 games b) the next 12 games I get will be review copies anyway and c) out of a given 12 games, I would still probably rather play CW.

One thing that I think really distinguishes CW is that unlike just about any other collection "centerpiece", it is something that somebody can see on your shelf, say that looks cool, and you can have them playing it in 10 minutes. You don't have to say "we'll set aside a Saturday to play it" or "I'll have to go back and study the rules" or "we have to have six people for it". It's really accessible. The playtime is literally in Eurogame parameters, the component density is low, you don't have to know 20 different decks of mini cards, setup is minimal, and the action is immediate.

The cost is an issue, sure. But you know, you don't drive a Lamborghini and argue that it should cost as much as a Toyota. I never thought I'd be arguing for "luxury" games, but I kind of get it...at least in regard to this particular design and product.

In a way, this game being so expensive almost makes it sort of the antithesis of the Cult of the New...it's not a $35 one-and-done throwaway. If you put into this game, you are (hopefully) investing in something to play for years to come. It's not a product of the "churn". It's designed and sold to be THE game. I actually have come to respect that...do I get a 1%er t shirt now?
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 11:21 by wadenels #214422
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Michael Barnes wrote:
If you put into this game, you are (hopefully) investing in something to play for years to come. It's not a product of the "churn". It's designed and sold to be THE game. I actually have come to respect that...do I get a 1%er t shirt now?

I already have games that I've been playing for years and will probably be playing for years to come. They didn't cost $150 for the base and $700 for the whole package. I'm a little bit miffed about CW because it looks like the sort of game I would love, but in the Land of Sanity* over here there's no such thing as a $700 board game.

1%er t-shirts are so nouveau riche

* - Where Mega-Civilization is on the shelf...
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 11:21 by wadenels #214423
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duplicate post
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 11:28 by SuperflyTNT #214425
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wadenels wrote:
Michael Barnes wrote:
If you put into this game, you are (hopefully) investing in something to play for years to come. It's not a product of the "churn". It's designed and sold to be THE game. I actually have come to respect that...do I get a 1%er t shirt now?

I already have games that I've been playing for years and will probably be playing for years to come. They didn't cost $150 for the base and $700 for the whole package. I'm a little bit miffed about CW because it looks like the sort of game I would love, but in the Land of Sanity* over here there's no such thing as a $700 board game.

After seeing it and holding it in my hand, I can absolutely guarantee that there's no reason this should cost consumers 150$. The cost on the game is probably 35$, delivered to Sandy's fulfillment center. Make no mistake, this is the single most overpriced game I have ever seen. The idea that one could drop $700 on ~one game~ kind of baffles me. Now, to be fair, at that price point it's a complete gaming system, but it most assuredly will not provide the same entertainment value that a 36" HD flat screen, Xbox One, and a half ounce of kush would at the same price.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 11:56 by Michael Barnes #214428
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Whoa now, I'm not saying the game is worth the price. It is premium priced out the ass, which is a polite way of saying that it is intentionally priced over the market to create a gravitas of luxury, exclusivity and superiority. It's how Apple sells computers.

There are some things in the box where I am kind of shocked that corners were cut...like the plain 6mm D6s. Come one, everything has custom dice. A $200 game sure as shit better have them. The player mats are thin cardstock. I've played $20 games that had punch board ones.

It's kind of like clothes...you may be completely happy with a closet full of Wal-Mart t-shirts and you don't see the value in an Yves Saint Laurent shirt. Or you may value that YSL shirt more than all of those Wal-Mart shirts. They both do the same fundamental thing, but there are other elements- some personal- that assign worth to them.

Price is totally the issue with this game, no doubt about it.

If he did a $75 version of the game with "normal" pieces, it would be all you guys would be talking about. But he's made over a million bucks on the premium pricing, so there's that too.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 12:23 by wadenels #214429
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I would definitely look into a $75 version. Especially if I could get all the add-on content for a more reasonable price.

I get the premium pricing argument, but I guess I don't really get the motivation. Board gaming of this type doesn't have a massive consumer base, so pricing yourself out of large segments of the market doesn't seem savvy. Apple can get away with it because they provide something markedly different from the rest of the market and can continue to do so because of proprietary tech and IP. There's no such analogue in board gaming.

It's also strange to attach the terms gravitas and luxury to a thing that has CTHULU WARS printed in big-ass letters on the side.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 12:33 by ThirstyMan #214431
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Mmm. I really like my WotR CE edition which cost me $700 (including shipping).

It's a thing of beauty with all the painted figures, so I don't care. I guess this is the same kind of thing.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 13:05 by SuperflyTNT #214433
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Who's to account for taste?
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 14:47 by Ancient_of_MuMu #214438
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The thing that keeps me swinging back and forth on Cthulhu Wars is not the price, it is the fact that I have read a couple of times that, like Dune, it needs to be played with a bunch of players who all know and understand all the powers of the races, otherwise someone will do something unexpected and run away with the game. I can't guarantee it will be played often enough to reach that familiarity level.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 15:14 by Michael Barnes #214440
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It's just six spellbook powers and one faction power, really. As long as the most experienced player briefs everybody on how each faction can win, I haven't seen that as an issue. The rulebook includes very specific strategy tips for every faction too. It is a Dune-class asymmetry, but it's much simpler. "Shub, spread out and summon monsters. Cthulhu, use that submerge power to hit any weak point on the map. KIY- desecrate early and often. Nyarlathotep, focus on gates."

It's also a 60-90 minute game so it's not like investing in a 4 hour learning game. It's EXPONENTIALLY simpler than TI3...much easier to grasp than CitOW.

But I guess if you are playing with folks that don't brief you, you might have an instance where you don't understand how to approach a faction.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 15:48 by SuperflyTNT #214442
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I learned the game after being on a plane for 3 hours, being in a car for 2, after drinking.

The game is, as I said, very old school and basic. There's no CRT but there's a unit chart, to give an idea of the scope of the game.

Learning the factions is a BIG DEAL though. Had I known what my bud Jim's Hastur powers were I would not have gone after Al so hard, I'd have gone after Jim. I'd have defended the glyph spots more.

That said, I had a fucking blast. Van Morrison will forever be indelibly etched into my mind as The King In Yellow because of that game (Slim Slow Slider was playing in the background as the game began.

The odd and amazing thing about the game is that it is fun on a higher level. It's a fun game and solidly designed. But the design kind of fades into the background, sort of an invisible hand guiding the players' interactions. It's very subtle.

There really isn't a "learning game". No need for one. Maybe a "learning turn" at most. The best way to teach it is to break out a faction, show physically what shit does and how many points of Juice (as I dubbed the Power Track) things take to do. Show how the power and ritual tracks work. THATS IT. 10 minutes, tops.

Then, each player should read their spells and what their GOO's powers are, so everyone knows. 20 minutes from soup to nuts, and it can be done while playing. Seriously.

If you're worried about your group not liking it, don't buy until you've played. It's soooooo much money. But in my opinion, the game's price is justified because it is EXACTLY my kind of game. An updated, streamlined MB Gamemaster game with wicked sick models and over-the-top asymmetrical powers.

I despise that Barnes can get review copies so easily. I had to trade the equivalent of a kidney for my copy and this cunt gets two for free. THE HUMANITY!!!
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 16:11 by Michael Barnes #214443
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Two copies, Peter my boy. Two copies.

We are pretty much on the same page here. It also happens to be EXACTLY the kind of design I like the best and want to play the most. All things considered, it's on par with Nexus Ops and I would say that learning both games is about equivalent.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 18:29 by sagrilarus #214455
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Not that I care very much, but for those of you that indict games on such things, how 'bout that font on Champions of Midgard? Usually that kind of thing pulls out the graphically-oriented people around here.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 18:55 by Da Bid Dabid #214456
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I am not stating this just to be inflammatory, I honestly am just having a very difficult time with Barnes' positivity toward CW. Almost everything about this game seems to hit your complaints about game design decline over the last few years, naming a few: obnoxious kick starter model, overproduced miniatures (which you are lauding as a strength OUT OF NOWHERE for just this game), and being a game system vs complete package (even at $700 i promise you wave 3 will be coming). I'm blown away the positives you see overcome these things. I've read enough of your reviews to know its not simply that luxury aspect, which you now belong to, pushing you to pass over these things... but it is what my thought would be for such a drastic 180 if I wasn't as familiar with your work.

I myself would love to play this game, but I'm kidding myself already owning TI, Runewars, Dune, Chaos, and with Blood Rage incoming. Although, selling Blood Rage if its not my thing to fund a trial of CW is a very real possibility that has crossed my mind.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 20:21 by Michael Barnes #214457
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Well you know I appreciate criticism and frankly I'm surprised it took so long for someone to say something

You aren't wrong- there are issues about this game that irk me greatly- all of which are tied to how it is sold. My position on Kickstarter hasn't changed and I still think that it's a bad path to go down when we are getting to $200 MSRP games that people are backing practically sight unseen. One of the reasons that Psycho Raiders is so refreshing is that it is like counter-programming to the out of control Kickstarter miniature games.

But here's the deal. I requested a review copy of this game in part because I wanted to see what one of these "Cadillac" games was like. I wanted to see if there was something I was missing. And folks I trust spoke highly of it so I thought if nothing else, I'd be writing up yet another half-baked, decent but unremarkable Kickstarter title that if wind up selling or trading.

But I solo played it the day I got it and then with three that evening. And I loved the game- the design speaks for itself, I think, without the audacious miniatures and premium price.

So I have two options here. I can continue to rant about the cost, Kickstarter, etc. and ignore my feeling about the design, or I can come out and say "folks, this is a damn good game" regardless of politics or economics. If I were to be negative about this game, I'd be dishonest

And I like it enough- having actually played it and not putting $200 up front on it a year in advance or whatever- to be convinced that Mr. Petersen's work here with the expansions might be something I'd be willing to buy. I mean, this is not some random dude that came up with a generic, copycat game. It's the dude that made Call of Cthulhu and had a hand in making Doom, Quake and other foundational games.

But yeah, I honestly thought this game was going to be a derivative DoaM with big, silly figures. I didn't expect a highly refined, streamlined and editorial design that feels very studied, balanced, and tuned for maximum fun.

And yeah, I do kind of get the luxury thing now. I pulled out those figures with my friends and nobody tsk-tsked, frowned at the cost or questioned whether gaming needs an enormous vagina-mouthed Hastur molded in ridiculous yellow. Everybody laughed, wanted to hold it and look at its detail and play the game that it comes with.

That doesn't get around the fact that a full set of this game is $700...although you can buy just the core set for $125 or so, which is realistically about the cost of Space Hulk or that new GW Horus Heresy game. And it's not that much more than an X-Wing wave or what people spend when a new Magic set comes out.

I do wish the game were less so that more people could play it. And I think if a large publisher took it on and made 50000 copies instead of 10000, pacing the release of expansions instead of putting the entire line out at once it wouldn't have to be so expensive.

But there again...it's a small family run company that made over a million bucks and counting by selling a premium priced luxury game that people are willing to pay for. Can you really blame them?

TL;DR- I love the game, bottom line. Regardless of everything else.
Posted: 07 Nov 2015 21:34 by SuperflyTNT #214461
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Better hold onto that game for me, Barnes. Looks like I might've gotten robbed. Shit's not looking good.

I might be on my way down to Joplin, MO to go get some shit back.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 05:46 by Da Bid Dabid #214465
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Michael Barnes wrote:
Well you know I appreciate criticism and frankly I'm surprised it took so long for someone to say something

You aren't wrong- there are issues about this game that irk me greatly- all of which are tied to how it is sold. My position on Kickstarter hasn't changed and I still think that it's a bad path to go down when we are getting to $200 MSRP games that people are backing practically sight unseen. One of the reasons that Psycho Raiders is so refreshing is that it is like counter-programming to the out of control Kickstarter miniature games.

But here's the deal. I requested a review copy of this game in part because I wanted to see what one of these "Cadillac" games was like. I wanted to see if there was something I was missing. And folks I trust spoke highly of it so I thought if nothing else, I'd be writing up yet another half-baked, decent but unremarkable Kickstarter title that if wind up selling or trading.

But I solo played it the day I got it and then with three that evening. And I loved the game- the design speaks for itself, I think, without the audacious miniatures and premium price.

So I have two options here. I can continue to rant about the cost, Kickstarter, etc. and ignore my feeling about the design, or I can come out and say "folks, this is a damn good game" regardless of politics or economics. If I were to be negative about this game, I'd be dishonest

And I like it enough- having actually played it and not putting $200 up front on it a year in advance or whatever- to be convinced that Mr. Petersen's work here with the expansions might be something I'd be willing to buy. I mean, this is not some random dude that came up with a generic, copycat game. It's the dude that made Call of Cthulhu and had a hand in making Doom, Quake and other foundational games.

But yeah, I honestly thought this game was going to be a derivative DoaM with big, silly figures. I didn't expect a highly refined, streamlined and editorial design that feels very studied, balanced, and tuned for maximum fun.

And yeah, I do kind of get the luxury thing now. I pulled out those figures with my friends and nobody tsk-tsked, frowned at the cost or questioned whether gaming needs an enormous vagina-mouthed Hastur molded in ridiculous yellow. Everybody laughed, wanted to hold it and look at its detail and play the game that it comes with.

That doesn't get around the fact that a full set of this game is $700...although you can buy just the core set for $125 or so, which is realistically about the cost of Space Hulk or that new GW Horus Heresy game. And it's not that much more than an X-Wing wave or what people spend when a new Magic set comes out.

I do wish the game were less so that more people could play it. And I think if a large publisher took it on and made 50000 copies instead of 10000, pacing the release of expansions instead of putting the entire line out at once it wouldn't have to be so expensive.

But there again...it's a small family run company that made over a million bucks and counting by selling a premium priced luxury game that people are willing to pay for. Can you really blame them?

TL;DR- I love the game, bottom line. Regardless of everything else.

TL;DR - "I'm a huge hypocrite" ;)
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 06:03 by Chaz #214466
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See, I totally buy that the huge minis are fun to play with and add to the game.
BUT...
The minis are going to be the difference between me being able to justify the cost of the game and not. From what's been said in here (short playtime, simple rule set), this is a DOAM game that I'd absolutely love to have in my collection, but I'm 100% priced out of owning it because of what are, to me, totally non-essential minis. I bet you could get pretty much the same effect with smaller-scale minis, and cut the price in half.

To the point that it's in line with other big ticket games like Space Hulk, or a bunch of X-Wing/Armada, or a box or two of Magic boosters, then sure, that's true, and if you're already willing to drop that kind of money into a single game, then yeah, go for Cthulhu Wars. I'm not currently in the headspace that dropping that kind of scratch on one game is reasonable. Sure, I own Space Hulk 3rd, but I was in a very different place when that came out, and I wouldn't make the same buying decision now. It just sucks that there's no normal-priced option for those of us who'd rather have the Honda version instead of the Ferrari.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 07:23 by SuperflyTNT #214470
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That's the number. I don't look at this any differently than Space Hulk. Expensive but cool.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 09:14 by repoman #214475
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Cthulu Wars is in no way a $125 game. Maybe 20 bucks...maybe.

The resemblance to CitOW is not just mild. It's quite strong. Strong enough that I would call it not inspired by but derivative of that game. And it is a weaker game overall.
I'd even go so far as to call it dumbed down. It's Chaos for people that don't like to put as much thought into their game play.

I suspect it has no where near the longevity of Choas either and after several plays, the charm of the ridiculous "bubble gum machine" figures will wain. I mean sure you can continue to introduce it to new players so the "wow that's crazy" reaction will continue and we can all get the same kind of laugh we get watching Monty Python for the millionth time.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 09:17 by SuperflyTNT #214476
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You'd be wrong regarding this: "The resemblance to CitOW is not just mild. It's quite strong. Strong enough that I would call it not inspired by but derivative of that game." But I've been through that already.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 09:34 by ubarose #214477
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[quote="Chaz" post=214466...totally non-essential minis...[/quote]

Since I first played Cthulhu Wars and announced that I loved it and wanted it and would rather have it than 4 other games, I have had non-essential minis conversation with so many people I have lost count. I even had it with people who owned like $200 - $300 worth of X-wing and/or Star Wars: Armada stuff. You could play those games with cards, or flat cardboard cut out ships, but you wouldn't want to. Same is true of CW.

There's a toy factor to both games. I personally think it is fun to push around big monsters. Other people think it is fun to push around space ships. If either of these games had been produced as less expensive all cardboard games, I don't think they would have gotten the traction that they have.

We often admit that after many years of gaming, despite large collections, we continue to buy new games in part because we are seeking to re-experience that feeling of excitement and delight that we experienced when we first started playing games. When I first played CW I experienced that childlike wonder again. The simple, accessible rule set combined with the the giant "minis" was just like lightening in a bottle for me. When I unwrapped my birthday gift this past September, I felt like I was ten years old again. I was giddy with delight as I unpacked the box and set it up to play. I've played it several times since receiving it, and I still feel that way every time we play. I honestly and freely admit that most of that feeling comes from playing with those big ass monsters.

I, therefore, hesitate to recommend CW to anyone who isn't a Lovecraft fan, and who isn't instantly delighted by the "minis." Without the minis, it's a good game. However, there are several DOaM games out there as good or better that can be had for far, far less money. I do recommend that if you have the chance to play, don't turn up your nose at it, and blather bitterly about the price, the Kickstarter model, and unessential minis. Just play it and enjoy it for what it is. Also, if you only get one chance to play it, play Cthulhu. He's the most fun. His power is that he can submerge under the ocean, and on a later turn can appear anywhere on the board and devour opponent cultists. It's fun to just pop that big ol' monster down on the board, and yell, "Surprise! It's m****rf*****g Cthulhu."
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 10:36 by Space Ghost #214478
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
Better hold onto that game for me, Barnes. Looks like I might've gotten robbed. Shit's not looking good.

I might be on my way down to Joplin, MO to go get some shit back.

Heh, I'll be there tomorrow to pick the kids up from my moms house.

Let me know whose door to kick down to get your game :)
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 10:42 by Disgustipater #214479
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ubarose wrote:
It's fun to just pop that big ol' monster down on the board, and yell, "Surprise! It's m****rf*****g Cthulhu."

Posted: 08 Nov 2015 11:36 by SuperflyTNT #214481
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Take em' out, Ding (or..Space Ghost)
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 12:03 by Chaz #214484
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Uba, I'm on record as being annoyed at the price of X-Wing and Armada minis too, and I haven't gotten into either of those games because of the cost either.

Like, yeah, I totally get the toy factor, and if I ever got a chance to play it, I'd jump at it. Problem is that all of the people I game with also think $125 is way too much for a game too, so I doubt I'll ever get the chance. And yeah, I'll admit that there's an element of sour grapes that the price is higher than my personal acceptable level. Goddamit, self control!
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 12:32 by SuperflyTNT #214485
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Space Hulk was undoubtedly worth it. I think the Horus Heresy game will be too.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 13:54 by repoman #214486
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
You'd be wrong regarding this: "The resemblance to CitOW is not just mild. It's quite strong. Strong enough that I would call it not inspired by but derivative of that game." But I've been through that already.

Yah yah. In the same way I'm wrong about Stone Age and Eclipse.

Some day you'll join the chorus of people who wake up at 3am years from now and think to themselves "Remember when Luce said that shit and I thought he was crazy....but...but...he was right!"
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 14:17 by bfkiller #214488
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Michael, overall, you prefer the classic Survive! to Space Attack! because of the more unique setting (and I would think probably some nostalgia). But do you have a preference when thinking about the mechanical changes isolated from the change in setting? You do mention in the closing paragraph that the Engelsteins "add some great new dimensions." I'm wondering if you think these new dimensions (strictly the mechanical ones) are an improvement or just a lateral change.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 14:37 by Michael Barnes #214489
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Thanks, that's a good question. I'd say that they add some new options for play that just are not in the original design- like getting into a fighter to capture aliens and then you get to put them out on your next turn. And then there are new things like tiles that let you change aliens, so you may think an escape pod is safe until somebody uses one of those and there's a queen (sea serpent) next to you. So a little more surprise, a little more gotcha...is say the game is slightly more aggressive.

The key is that the additions are pretty specific to the new setting...I guess you could retroactively implement them in the old version, but they feel right in space.

As to whether they are an improvement...it's hard to say yes because the original that I've played since 1982 is just about perfect as far as family games go. So it may be best to look at them as "variant enhancements" if that makes any sense.

FWIW, My kids ask to play both versions.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 14:45 by bfkiller #214490
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Thanks for the response.

The reason I asked is because I've actually never played Survive! so I have no frame of reference for changes or preset expectations apart from a high level understanding of how the game is played. I would like to have one of them. I might opt for the 30th anniversary of the classic, though, just because it's $20 cheaper than Space Attack at my FLGS.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 15:01 by Michael Barnes #214491
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I would say get the 30th anniversary edition...it's like $25. If you like it a lot, then Space Attack is worth it. I would say that Space Attack is actually better for long time fans of the game.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 15:31 by Ancient_of_MuMu #214492
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Da Bid Dabid wrote:
Michael Barnes wrote:
TL;DR- I love the game, bottom line. Regardless of everything else.

TL;DR - "I'm a huge hypocrite" ;)
Weirdly I don't see this one as hypocrisy. The one thing that I think Barnes has been relatively consistent on over the last few years is trying to be open minded and admitting that a game is good regardless of theme/cost/etc. I think that he likes Cthulhu Wars in spite of all the warning flags on it (and off the top of my head other games that fit this category are Earth Reborn (graphic design) and Argent: The Consortium (fonts), plus the recent Knizia love).
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 16:45 by Da Bid Dabid #214500
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Ancient_of_MuMu wrote:
Da Bid Dabid wrote:
Michael Barnes wrote:
TL;DR- I love the game, bottom line. Regardless of everything else.

TL;DR - "I'm a huge hypocrite" ;)
Weirdly I don't see this one as hypocrisy. The one thing that I think Barnes has been relatively consistent on over the last few years is trying to be open minded and admitting that a game is good regardless of theme/cost/etc. I think that he likes Cthulhu Wars in spite of all the warning flags on it (and off the top of my head other games that fit this category are Earth Reborn (graphic design) and Argent: The Consortium (fonts), plus the recent Knizia love).

I was mostly taking a pot shot for fun... but these posts aren't even a year old.
Exhibit 1 & Exhibit 2
I'd say that constitutes more of a philosophical opposition, not a simple warning flag. Anyway I'm glad he's back on being a whore for minis, definitely a small step in the right direction of more closely matching my (obviously correct and superior) tastes in games.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 17:18 by SuperflyTNT #214502
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repoman wrote:
SuperflyTNT wrote:
You'd be wrong regarding this: "The resemblance to CitOW is not just mild. It's quite strong. Strong enough that I would call it not inspired by but derivative of that game." But I've been through that already.

Yah yah. In the same way I'm wrong about Stone Age and Eclipse.

Some day you'll join the chorus of people who wake up at 3am years from now and think to themselves "Remember when Luce said that shit and I thought he was crazy....but...but...he was right!"

No, I'm not saying you're wrong about Stone Age or Eclipse. Those are opinions based solely on what you like and don't like, so that's really not a matter of facts. You're totally entitled to your opinion, and to be fair, you're more often right than wrong when it comes to games, I'd say. In this case, you're simply wrong, from a factual level. The similarity is only there if you're looking for it, maybe from a "theme/vibe" perspective, a little more. But I'm with people who see it way closer to Nexus Ops, because that's basically what it is.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 17:19 by SuperflyTNT #214503
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Da Bid Dabid wrote:
Ancient_of_MuMu wrote:
Da Bid Dabid wrote:
Michael Barnes wrote:
TL;DR- I love the game, bottom line. Regardless of everything else.

TL;DR - "I'm a huge hypocrite" ;)
Weirdly I don't see this one as hypocrisy. The one thing that I think Barnes has been relatively consistent on over the last few years is trying to be open minded and admitting that a game is good regardless of theme/cost/etc. I think that he likes Cthulhu Wars in spite of all the warning flags on it (and off the top of my head other games that fit this category are Earth Reborn (graphic design) and Argent: The Consortium (fonts), plus the recent Knizia love).

I was mostly taking a pot shot for fun... but these posts aren't even a year old.
Exhibit 1 & Exhibit 2
I'd say that constitutes more of a philosophical opposition, not a simple warning flag. Anyway I'm glad he's back on being a whore for minis, definitely a small step in the right direction of more closely matching my (obviously correct and superior) tastes in games.

I think if one thing comes from this, I hope it is that Mike will shut his suck about Kickstarter being the bane of all humanity. I agreed initially, but Kickstarter is now the largest publisher (of sorts) of games on the market.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 19:23 by Shellhead #214511
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I'm still very torn about buying Cthulhu Wars. More than two years ago, I was actually serious struggling with whether or not to Kickstart CW, despite being about 95% certain that I was going to lose my job soon. IIRC, I had determined that if I was going to Kickstart it, I was likely to spend something like $280, in order to get the base game plus many of the bonus factions and dudes. I already knew that Sandy Peterson had done great work over a long period of time with the Call of Cthulhu rpg, but I just wasn't certain how much of that ability would carry over to a board game.

Pessimism won that day, and I decided to not Kickstart CW. And that turned out to be the right decision for me. I was unemployed for over nine months, and the take home pay on my new job has been $1,000 less per month. I have even been covertly looking for a better job for the last seven months, and still haven't gotten an offer, despite my significant experience in my field. Even at the Kickstart stage, Peterson and others were publicly comparing the game to Chaos in the Old World, so I figured that I would be better off just buying that some day instead of CW. I knew several local players that enjoyed CitOW, but I couldn't be sure if I would ever get CW on the table enough to pay for itself.

So it is galling and annoying to hear that CW turns out to be a great game that might just be worth spending $200 on, but that I would still ultimately want to pay even more to get some of those bonus boards and factions and stuff to extend the replay value. Fortunately, CW is now available retail, and probably the bonus material will end up in greater distribution as well. But there is still no way that I am spending that amount of money until my career gets back on track. That could be weeks, months, or possibly never.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 19:36 by bfkiller #214512
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
Da Bid Dabid wrote:
Ancient_of_MuMu wrote:
Da Bid Dabid wrote:
Michael Barnes wrote:
TL;DR- I love the game, bottom line. Regardless of everything else.

TL;DR - "I'm a huge hypocrite" ;)
Weirdly I don't see this one as hypocrisy. The one thing that I think Barnes has been relatively consistent on over the last few years is trying to be open minded and admitting that a game is good regardless of theme/cost/etc. I think that he likes Cthulhu Wars in spite of all the warning flags on it (and off the top of my head other games that fit this category are Earth Reborn (graphic design) and Argent: The Consortium (fonts), plus the recent Knizia love).

I was mostly taking a pot shot for fun... but these posts aren't even a year old.
Exhibit 1 & Exhibit 2
I'd say that constitutes more of a philosophical opposition, not a simple warning flag. Anyway I'm glad he's back on being a whore for minis, definitely a small step in the right direction of more closely matching my (obviously correct and superior) tastes in games.

I think if one thing comes from this, I hope it is that Mike will shut his suck about Kickstarter being the bane of all humanity. I agreed initially, but Kickstarter is now the largest publisher (of sorts) of games on the market.

Isn't that pretty much what he was afraid was going to happen? I certainly don't see that as being a good thing.
Posted: 08 Nov 2015 19:44 by engelstein #214514
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Mike,

Thanks for the write up on Survive: Space Attack!

Our main goal/fear about taking on this project was not to fuck it up. I have tremendous respect for Survive, and wanted to build on that.

After working on this I have an even deeper appreciation for the original design. We spent a lot of time looking for ways we could improve it, but as we tinkered with various changes we discovered just how many subtle design details are in the original that make it work so well.

One of these days I'd like to write up a case study on it, to bring out those details.

Geoff
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 07:03 by charlest #214529
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repoman wrote:
The resemblance to CitOW is not just mild. It's quite strong. Strong enough that I would call it not inspired by but derivative of that game. And it is a weaker game overall.
I'd even go so far as to call it dumbed down. It's Chaos for people that don't like to put as much thought into their game play.

I tend to agree that it's pretty close to CitOW but I don't agree at all with most of what you're saying. I think it is a different game at its core, jus the veneer and macro level structure mimics Chaos.

I don't feel it's dumbed down, I do feel it's much more streamlined. That's not the same thing at all.

I think Chaos is probably a slightly better game but I think CW is more empowering. That toy-like feeling of slamming down a big god just isn't there in Chaos. I'd love to actually field Khorne, jesus.


Pete - you mention it probably cost $35. You do realize games tend to cost 1/4th of the MSRP roughly, right? That's industry standard (and for good reason).

I'll bet it's closer to $50 with the extreme cost to ship it which would be right in line. Such huge miniature molds are crazy expensive. It was also printed by Panda which is not a cheaper printer at all.
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 08:17 by SuperflyTNT #214536
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charlest wrote:
Pete - you mention it probably cost $35. You do realize games tend to cost 1/4th of the MSRP roughly, right? That's industry standard (and for good reason). I'll bet it's closer to $50 with the extreme cost to ship it which would be right in line. Such huge miniature molds are crazy expensive. It was also printed by Panda which is not a cheaper printer at all.

You should remember that I have spent the last 22 years in manufacturing and distribution. Shipping from Asia is about 12 cents a pound, depending on season. Sometimes it's a little cheaper. At 11 pounds, freight is probably a buck and a quarter per unit, give or take. Especially with square boxes in square cartons on pallets, which this most assuredly was.

I do realize that 0.25% retail is the "standard" cost structure for board games in the US, but I also know that Kickstarter has broken these rules in large part because a crucial aspect of the supply chain has been removed: distribution. When you sell direct, the expectation is that the consumer will get a break because the producer isn't giving up 65% discounts to distribution or 50% discounts to retail. But no, with Kickstarter, you don't get that. What you get is (for producers) the best of all worlds: the client pays everything up front, as if it's a custom order, then you can deliver whenever you feel like it, and you don't have to give a discount to the consumer! So, no capitalization problems, no fixed delivery deadline, and you get to keep a shitload of profit from your first lot. Really, it could be argued that backers pay all the costs and allow the game to be made, which then goes to distribution and retail at a lower price than the investor-backer paid in the first place. It's an incredibly lopsided deal.

So, this game should've been $75 had they wanted 100% return on investment, more or less, assuming about a 37.50$ cost.

This is the ONE reason that Kickstarter pisses me off. Backers should get a discount for being in investor class, the ones taking the risk. Fuck stretch goals - that is a weak ass way for manufacturers to pretend to give backers more but, really, the backers are paying more than retail charges, so there's no discount.

/end rant about people being stupid and not understanding supply chain
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 08:28 by engelstein #214537
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As an actual data point, most games (especially big ones like CW) are shipped in a full 40' container, where the weight doesn't come into play unless you're shipping a container full of bricks.

Survive: Space Attack fits 8.316 copies per container, palletized. Containers from China typically cost $4,000 - $5,000 depending on how much you ship, etc. So it's about $0.50 in freight per unit.

I haven't seen the CW box, but I would guess it's 2-3 times the size of SSA, putting it at $1.00 - $1.50, which is in line with Pete's estimate.
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 08:29 by SuperflyTNT #214538
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bfkiller wrote:
Isn't that pretty much what he was afraid was going to happen? I certainly don't see that as being a good thing.

Why?

I see it as an awesome marketplace. The Cult of the New gets to pay all the up front costs to have all kinds of different games produced by all kinds of different people with all kinds of different ideas. I mean, it doesn't get better than that, for non-crazy consumers. We get to sit back and wait a year for the game to hit retail, and we get it cheaper than the original backers. More importantly, we get the benefit of a lot of opinions and tons of press coverage.

Sure, there's a LOT of chaff, but one guy's chaff is another guy's wheat. For every hundred Miskatonic School For Girls games, there's maybe five Cthulhu Wars. I'd rather wade through the rubbish to get to the gems that would not otherwise be made, personally. Plus, every single F:ATtie can design a game and have it made if they choose to, which never could've happened 10 years ago. I mean, the opportunities are tremendous. I'm all about giving people opportunities, because occasionally, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Xia, Cthulhu Wars, Dwarven Forge Dwarvenite, Reaper Bones....all things that may not have existed without the crowdfunding model.

It's a net good, but consumers just need to know how to use it.
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 08:30 by charlest #214539
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I'm with ya, but by shipping I more meant the cost for Petersen games to ship to backers. Shipping was free in the first Kickstarter I believe.

You're correct about cutting out middle man and earning higher margins, but it's not the standard on KS at all to discount. Rather, all that extra profit tends to go towards fueling the entire print run, leaving post-KS sales as pure profit.

This is why Stretch goals are so important for the large projects, to get that cost for the consumer down to a low level from a perception stand point. Blood Rage was only slightly cheaper on KS, but it came with a large amount of expansion content that would cost you big dollars at retail.

It's kind of similar to discounting off the single game's price but they make you chip in for a higher dollar total and get more stuff instead. This reduces their price per unit and allows them to print more probably.
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 08:50 by JEM #214540
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It's not a Lamborghini or a Toyota. It's a Caprice Classic with 28" rims, spinners and a trunk sized subwoofer. That is to say, it's an amazing toy for someone who loves it, but never a rational purchase.

Badonkadonk.
Posted: 09 Nov 2015 09:57 by SuperflyTNT #214545
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engelstein wrote:
As an actual data point, most games (especially big ones like CW) are shipped in a full 40' container, where the weight doesn't come into play unless you're shipping a container full of bricks.

Survive: Space Attack fits 8.316 copies per container, palletized. Containers from China typically cost $4,000 - $5,000 depending on how much you ship, etc. So it's about $0.50 in freight per unit.

I haven't seen the CW box, but I would guess it's 2-3 times the size of SSA, putting it at $1.00 - $1.50, which is in line with Pete's estimate.

I used to move several million pounds of ocean freight, and yes, you're right - container (40-45') is the way these things are shipped. But in my business I break everything down to the pound to determine cost. That's why I used that metric, because that's the one that I am most familiar with.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 11:24 by jpat #214666
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Is there a good middle path through CW between base game only and all in? My guess, reading around the KS and on BGG, was that it'd make most sense to get base plus factions first, and I'd maybe think of going with the wave 1 factions in this case (so $350 for base plus four additional factions), and it seems like it might be possible to get the base game more or less immediately and then wait-and-see on add-ons till the pledge manager in (I think) January. Part of the first-world frustration with this project is the difficulty of predicting what, if anything much, will be available post-KS even from the publishers' website. (I'm guessing there'll actually be a third wave at some point, or a third KS anyway, so I'm not that worried about missing out on something critical.)

Edit: Looks like the base game shipping is more like within a two-month window after the campaign ends rather than what I took "immediately" to mean. But there are still CW copies around $150, $160 in the supply chain.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 12:12 by charlest #214673
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I think the plan is to have much of this available in full retail, that's one of the goals of Onslaught 2. I think we'll see the additional factions and neutral monsters hit retail over the next couple years.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 12:15 by Michael Barnes #214675
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I think a good "not crazy" buy would be the core, one (maybe two) factions, the High Priests, and one map (probably Yuggoth or Primeval since Dreamlands has special monsters sold separately). The maps all support up to five players, so you could have up to five (or six) to choose from and not have four others sitting in the box every game. UNLESS you're going to be playing 6-8 players, that dramatically changes the equation. The high priests seem like a good inexpensive add.

The other stuff- the GOO packs, the Ramsey Campbell stuff and all- looks awesome but I feel like that is definitely more into optional content. The cosmetic add-ons like the gates are nice, but ultimately not part of a "middle path" option I don't think.

I would say that most likely, the core game and the main factions, probably the 2-5 player maps will be at retail. Everything else will likely be from them or maybe not available beyond an initial print run.

Another option is to get a used copy of the core and just back a dollar and use the pledge manager to get what you want in January. I have a $1 pledge in there just in case I get crazy.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 13:07 by SuperflyTNT #214686
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I'm going after 2 factions, the high priests, and the plastic gates, because plastics. Still not sure which factions, but I think Tcho Tcho and Sleeper are the most interesting.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 13:12 by charlest #214687
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Those do look the most interesting Pete. Sleeper can pass for 0 power and delay his turn (due to lethargy) and Tcho Tcho forms symbiotic relationships with other players so you can benefit from their actions.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 13:36 by Ancient_of_MuMu #214692
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
I'm going after 2 factions, the high priests, and the plastic gates, because plastics. Still not sure which factions, but I think Tcho Tcho and Sleeper are the most interesting.
Pretty much what I am going for. I may get a map later, but to me a big part of the theme is Earth being invaded so other locations don't interest me. Wind walker seems too much like Cthulhu so that is out. I think I like the sound of the Opener faction best, and think I will go for Sleeper over Tcho Tcho because it has passed more play testing.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 13:59 by SuperflyTNT #214694
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That's precisely why I think they'd be the best suited. I love the idea of the High Priests as well - very interesting, and a tough decision from the first turn.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 14:36 by Michael Barnes #214696
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I'm thinking Tcho Tcho too because they seem very different- primitive folks, and they have Ubbo-Sathla, one of the goofier GOOs. He's like a blob with tablets stuck in it. Should make for a cool figure. Also, pink.

I'm also thinking about Opener because Yog-Sothoth. The game doesn't seem complete without him since he's one of the big names. He sounds a little more advanced than Ithaqua or the Sleeper.

I am interested in seeing how Azatoth works though being neutral...I think there's some kind of way that you can control him as well as the monsters and spellbooks.

Maps, I want Yuggoth. Because it sounds really cool. Yeah, it does get away from the "what if you lost Eldritch Horror" scenario, but the map and features sound neat. I think for just $15 I'd probably get one of the 6-8 player maps, probably Primeval earth just to have a different one.

High Priests, definitely.

As for upgrades, I want the cardboard faction mats because mine are crappy looking already. I kind of want the Shining Trapehedron pack or whatever they added today, but it is a little too much for what it is. The gates, I dunno...do want, but I don't think they're essential.

All said, Shub-Niggurath is sort of becoming my favorite...I love using the Dark Young. They look bad ass and being able to go into an area with one lonely cultist, kidnap him and take the gate with the same figure AND have automatic defense on it is great. And with the discount spellbook, they're CHEAP.

About to write the review.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 14:41 by bfkiller #214697
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I'm interested to see what your GOTY 2015 will be: Cthulhu Wars or Loopin' Chewie.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 14:59 by Ancient_of_MuMu #214698
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Michael Barnes wrote:
I am interested in seeing how Azatoth works though being neutral...I think there's some kind of way that you can control him as well as the monsters and spellbooks.
By providing the ability to make the base factions neutral in the kickstarter they have killed any interest I have in the Azathoth faction, because there goes its unique selling point. It saddens me a bit as Azathoth is one of my favourite great old ones, and if it was a standard faction I would probably have gone for it.

EDIT: I just clicked on why I think I won't go for the Tcho Tcho faction. A description of them contains this: "It takes coordination and effort to expunge them, which is how they stay alive – the others are all reluctant to be the faction who spends all his time warring on the Tcho-Tchos, while other factions surge ahead." I really hate it when a DOAM is won by the person who convinces others to attack someone in the lead.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 15:52 by Shellhead #214700
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Sounds like the Tcho-Tcho faction might have been inspired by the Horned Rat expansion to CitOW. In the mythos stories, they were extremely creepy and degenerate cultists from Asia.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 17:02 by Michael Barnes #214703
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I really hate it when a DOAM is won by the person who convinces others to attack someone in the lead.

One thing that is really cool about this design- and it may be different with the Tcho Tcho, I don't know, but there are some things that make the "attack the lead" option not very viable anyway. The hidden Elder Sign points can make a BIG difference, and they help to baffle the "who's in the lead" calculation. You can still count up an estimate for how many points somebody MAY have, but ultimately you don't know. ANd things are very fluid, so in one turn if someone sweeps through and claims two or three gates more than everyone then they can do the Ritual and double their lead for the turn, possibly closing any gap in doom points. That said, you can have a runaway leader in early games where people are feeling out the faction abilities and not really clear on how to run the checks and balances built into the game.

Flying Polyps are SUCH a pain in the ass.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 17:56 by wadenels #214709
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Ancient_of_MuMu wrote:
I really hate it when a DOAM is won by the person who convinces others to attack someone in the lead.

I love it. I don't necessarily enjoy Munchkin-level bang-on-the-leader syndrome, but a victory negotiated is sweeter than a victory rolled.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 18:16 by drewcula #214711
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Michael Barnes wrote:
Flying Polyps are SUCH a pain in the ass.

Somewhere, there's a joke in this statement.
Posted: 10 Nov 2015 20:56 by Michael Barnes #214732
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It's subtle.
Posted: 11 Nov 2015 22:18 by ubarose #214877
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FYI, Cthulhu Wars core game is $130 at Coolstuff.