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Barnes on Games- Space Cadets: Away Missions in Review, Zimby Mojo, Blood Rage, WHQACG

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Barnes on Games- Space Cadets: Away Missions in Review, Zimby Mojo, Blood Rage, WHQACG

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There Will Be Games

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Dan and Al's Excellent Adventure

Golly, I still haven't reviewed Space Cadets: Away Missions. Let's fix that right now. No High Scores is back up, and since I foolishly assigned Pete to it my coverage isn't at Miniature Market.

It's a great game. The golden age SF setting is great, I love the Saucermen and brains-in-a-jar and so forth, but the big takeaways from this design are a couple of really quite innovative mechanics that I hope, quite frankly, that other designers rip off. That's high praise, Al and Dan. Because Overkill is just genius- it's not dissimilar to the surges from Kevin Wilson's Doom system, but it limits hits to one and then gives up to three possible choices to spend your "heroic moment" on.I think it's smoother. I also really like the pacing, which keeps things escalating until the aliens get to that red alert point. And I like the crafting and item management. All of which feel very fresh, on top of the lighter SF approach.

So there, Stephen Bunocore. You squeezed about 9 ½ stars worth of reviews out of me between this and Survive! Space Attack. Jeez, F:ATties...y'all are making some good games these days...WHQ card game figures in there too.

Jim Felli, the guy that gave us Shadows of Malice, offered me an early peek at his next game Zimby Mojo. So I have a prototype of it sitting here by my desk. I usually do not have any interest at looking at anyone's prototypes, but this was definitely an exception- Shadows was one of the more interesting, original designs of the year and I had to see what this guy cooked up next. Apparently, the answer is "human flesh" because this is a game about rival tribes of cannibals seeking to usurp the current cannibal king. The catch is, they kind of have to work together to do so. But then it's every man for himself post-regicide. I won't go into it much, but this is another really unique, unusual design. It reminds me a bit of Wiz-War, but with some crazy rules for stacking and cooperation. Definitely keep an eye out in 2016 for this one.

Game three of Blood Rage... it is quite good. I'm not ready to commit to "great", but I think it is an outstanding piece of design work. I would definitely call it Lang's most assured, disciplined work to date and I am wondering if, six years on, it is a game that effectively replaces Chaos in the Old World. It is definitely more of a Eurogame on the hybrid scale, with guided decision points and strictures to keep things to a tight process and an almost shockingly tight timeline. Definitely looking forward to playing it some more…it is a contender, that's for sure. But I think I like Cthulhu Wars better. It's looser, wilder and more obnoxious.

Warhammer Quest is also making a very strong end-of-year bid for my covered GOTY shortlist. I would, at this point, say that it is probably the best game in its class. If there really is a class of card-based dungeoncrawl/adventure games. I think it blows Pathfinder out of the water, and I liked Pathfinder. I'm thinking that the Delve quest is the best of it, better than the five scenario campaign. You pretty much play with everything so it's hugely variable and the goal is just make it through to the end. I played that mode last night for the first time and it pretty much sealed the deal on the game. It's a keeper, and even though more would be nice it is 100% complete and dynamic out of the box.

Really enjoying Pixel Tactics too. Really cool card battler from Level 99, the kings of card battlers. It doesn't look like much with cards FULL of text and tiny pixel art characters, but the gameplay is really cool. Other than Argent, I think it is probably their best game.

Still loving on Heroes of Normandie as well, I've played all of the scenarios in the core box (Slaughterhouse twice) and I've got more on the way, including Shadows over Normandie. Barring ASL, this is the only game in its class I really care about these days. I love the looser, ahistorical approach that goes for a more cartoon WW2 approach. It's refreshing given the old folks home austerity of so many WW2 titles. Yet it still delivers a great squad-level game with tons of cool detail. The last scenario was a blast, the US deploys on opposite sides of a map with a Nazi HQ in the middle, protected by MG nests. The US needs to blow it up, but the squad got split up. One side has the detonator, the other the dynamite. This scenario really showed what the heroes do- Clint (yep) had the TNT, he rode a jeep up to the house under heavy fire and busted in through the window to hose the place down before the other guy showed up with the plunger. But there was also a Nazi sniper skulking around, taking shots and wiping out units. So much fun.

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes



Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

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charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #217137 11 Dec 2015 09:34
While I don't think Blood Rage will replace Chaos in the Old World for many people, it already has for me. The fun is more immediate and action more consistent. It feels almost as deep, but it's more direct and in your face. Chaos can have that buildup issue you mentioned when discussing Moongha awhile back. The action (except for Khorne), can be delayed and you need to earn what you take. Blood Rage starts filling Valhalla in the first 10 minutes. Much more drama in Blood Rage than in Chaos and that's what I love.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #217138 11 Dec 2015 09:39
At the risk of sounding like a complete shallow ass, I gotta tell you the title and branding on Blood Rage more or less nixed it for me before I even took a look at it. I shouldn't care about such things but it is what it is, and if I play it (and I may like it when I do) it will be in spite of its branding.

I avoid essentially everything GW related for the same reason. I just don't like the skin-deep impression it gives off.
JEM's Avatar
JEM replied the topic: #217139 11 Dec 2015 09:40
Currently I feel there is much more story in a game of Chaos in the Old World, than in Blood Rage. I'd be interested to see a variant with predetermined cards for each clan; right now it's all very generic, to the detriment of the narrative potential.
Columbob's Avatar
Columbob replied the topic: #217140 11 Dec 2015 10:12
Ha! By the end of the review, the game's title has Evolved to SC:AT!
VonTush's Avatar
VonTush replied the topic: #217141 11 Dec 2015 10:17
For me it's simply what I want to play compared to what gets played.
Would I rather play Chaos in the Old World? Yes.
Does my current gaming situation provide that opportunity? Consistency? Repeated plays? No.
Therefore Blood Rage is a better fit for me.
The fact that it is a damn fine game is icing on the cake.

Relating to SCAM - The other night I soloed the first mission to refresh myself on the rules. Ended up with the Sentinel at the north tip of the board stuck behind two doors, trapped in there, seething as his friends were blasted around him. After I cleared out the rest of the map I gave a few blaster rifle shots through the door using my X-Ray Goggles wounding him, reset the turn, opened the door and rained death onto him. It was just an odd game state and a bit of a busted session. Still fun and over the holidays I hope to keep this setup on the table to over the holidays and setup on the table hopefully saving some setup and take down time (the only downside to the game).
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #217170 11 Dec 2015 18:11
That's kind of where I am with it. Chaos has had about a year off the table, and now Blood Rage looks like it's got what it takes to replace it...and like you're saying, it's a matter of what WILL get played versus what MIGHT get played. Blood Rage is very nearly a 'pull and play' title, it doesn't require as much time/commitment as Chaos does. There are some trade-offs the other way too- like the really great powers and the irreplaceable Old World setting- but the game that plays stays. And if I want the more dicey, angry gods kind of play...Cthulhu Wars is sitting right there.
engineer Al's Avatar
engineer Al replied the topic: #217175 11 Dec 2015 23:47

Columbob wrote: Ha! By the end of the review, the game's title has Evolved to SC:AT!

Dammit Barnes, I knew you would zing us somehow!
Dutch's Avatar
Dutch replied the topic: #217280 14 Dec 2015 13:00

VonTush wrote: Relating to SCAM - The other night I soloed the first mission to refresh myself on the rules... I hope to keep this setup on the table to over the holidays and setup on the table hopefully saving some setup and take down time (the only downside to the game).

Very happy to hear folks are enjoying the SC:AM (and thanks for the great review, Michael), but listen: no gamer has any reason to play that starter scenario twice. It's strictly for newbs who have never heard of range, line-of-sight, or hit-points.

Gamers of your experience and knowledge should leave Mercury dwindling in your rear-view space-mirror and proceed directly to Venus and the Escape from the Slave Saucer mission. Honest! The extra 5 minutes of set-up time is well worth it.
Oatmeal's Avatar
Oatmeal replied the topic: #217799 19 Dec 2015 17:28
Blood Rage is better than something like Kemet, but not Chaos.

Chaos in the Old World already has a more dramatic cousin that spices things up, and it's called it's own Horned Rat Expanison, not Blood Rage.

Pretty impressed by Blood Rage but I can't imagine it enthralling me for as many plays as Chaos.
xthexlo's Avatar
xthexlo replied the topic: #221783 05 Feb 2016 10:07
If anyone is interested, I've posted the rule book for Zimby Mojo at deviousweasel.com/zm-rules/ . And its waaaay better than the rule set that I sent to Mr. Barnes (and includes a couple new rules that he'll definitely like).

Please note that I had to break it into two pieces to post due to file size limitations. Even then, the reduced resolution core rules file is pressing pretty hard against 20MB!