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Barnes on Games Catchup Post- DOOM, Ogre, TMNT, Acquire, Armada Wave 5, Dreamlands, Conan Expansions...

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Barnes on Games Catchup Post- DOOM, Ogre, TMNT, Acquire, Armada Wave 5, Dreamlands, Conan Expansions...
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There Will Be Games

"Monolithic and Unstoppable"

So I've gotten lazy about posting my reviews here...time to play some catchup with a digest post!

There's some good ones in here. First up, a H2H with my good friend Charlie Theel on DOOM. All caps. Because the game is awesome. Of the recent rash of Guys on a Grid games, it's my favorite. It's ruthlessly violent, it incentivizes close quarters fighting, and it has a lot of cool and fun things going on. I especially like how your weapon loadout determines your overall moving and shooting strategy. I think this is a MUCH better game than Imperial Assault and I wish that it was the chassis upon which Star Wars was built. It has the best minis FFG has ever produced and the whole thing is...a whole thing! There are no character packs or backer-only areas of the game. And it doesn't have that "needs an expansion" feeling. Which is all to say that it will probably be on the Christmas sale at the end of the year, which is a shame because this is one of FFG's best in recent years. Really like this one a lot. One knock is that it is kind of long-ish. But there is also more game here than in similar titles.

Charlie and I have another Hug 2 Hug over TMNT. I liked this one a lot too, but a couple of elements keep it from greatness. The production is half awesome- REAL comics art, cool comics-style presentation of scenarios...but then half terrible. The miniatures are horrendous and the component quality in general makes it feel like a typical mainstream licensed game. It looks cheap. But the game is really good, and I especially like that each scenario is presented as the climactic fight at key points in an ongoing story. I LOVE how it tracks the campaign...nope, no mountains of cards to show for your victories...you just flip this bookmark over to whoever won the last time so you know where to go on the next game. The dice sharing mechanic is near-brilliant, and there's lots of fun action in this one. Really hate that a lot of it is Kickstartered away, rendering it incomplete.

Speaking of Kickstarted away...I gave one star to the first two Conan expansions, Yogah of Yag and Crossbowmen. These $25 additions are a complete ripoff and should be avoided. Yogah is literally one really shitty, cheap looking figure and a card in a box big enough to put five of that figure in. There is no actual content in the expansion, it's just the figure. No scenario, no rules, no background information. The Crossbowmen you get ten figures but hey, they really aren't that much different than the archers in the base game. Not $25 different. Because of these expansions, I decided to ditch the game altogether. I wanted to see more, but if this is how they are going with it I can't be bothered with it. I hear that you can download scenarios for these but I shouldn't have to do that. The Imperial Assault expansions are like $8, you get multiple figures and you get two skirmish maps AND cards AND other game materials. Or, looking at GW, $25 gets you a really awesome hobby-quality figure or almost gets you to a unit box.

Further on expansion packs, Armada wave 5 is pretty great- the big winners are the Phoenix Home (a new large ship for the Rebels, from the show Rebels) and the new squadrons. The squadrons give you some of the more specialized ships like the Z-95s and TIE variants. I am, however, getting to the saturation point with Armada- I kind of wish they would just put the brakes on it. Well, maybe just the Hammerhead Corvette from R1 and then stop. I assigned the Corellian Conflict campaign expansion to my man Craig, because this is the dude that worked out a way to play the entire Battle of Endor using Armada, X-Wing and Imperial Assault. Plus I don't really care about playing campaigns like this.

And then there is the Dreamlands expansion for Eldritch Horror. A big "meh" on this one. I was excited to check it out, but just like with Mountains of Madness it adds a stupid side board (PLEASE GOD NO) and some super conditional content that may or may not have an impact on the game, particularly if it is diluted with other expansion content. There's new Dreamquest cards, whoopee. So much redundancy in this game at this point. As usual, the advisement here is to stick with the small box expansions and avoid the big ones.

Back on to the good stuff- Kyle and I talk about Acquire since there's a new edition. There are a couple of changes that may or may not cheese off longtime fans- the board is smaller and third place gets a dividend, but it is all still Acquire. I can't say that I'll be divesting myself of the never-bested 1999 edition, but at least the new version is better than the one before which was just ugly and chintzy looking.

Finally, Ogre. Yep, there is ANOTHER edition out. This time it is the same components and all from the Designer's Edition, but it's JUST Ogre. Which is kind of cool because it is back to basics and it avoids all of the idiotic excess of the Designer's Edition, but you get the cool cardboard Ogres and overall high quality components. But it is JUST Ogre. So none of the GEV content, which is IMO what makes Ogre go from great to Great. But then again, the classic MKIII versus Command Post scenario is iconic, and the thematic concept is the strongest in the bare bones edition. Still one of the best games ever published, and one that goes strangely underappreciated by modern gamers.

Coming up next- Escape from Colditz (another one with Charlie), Assault of the Giants and...maybe Gloomhaven?

There Will Be Games

Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

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

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #244462 24 Feb 2017 09:23
You've piqued my interest in Doom. When you say it runs a little long, would you care to put a rough figure on that?
Egg Shen's Avatar
Egg Shen replied the topic: #244463 24 Feb 2017 09:26
Good stuff Barnes. I'm glad that I held off on Conan. Despite my love of the original source material something about the KS for that one just rubbed me wrong. It sounds like the game does alot of cool stuff, but is also kind of a mess. And yeah the expansion model blows goats.

I REALLY wanna get that new DOOM game. It's pretty much the only thing FFG has released recently that I have any interest in. It sounds like a hell of a lot of fun...and honestly I don't mind that it runs long. As long as the pacing is fine and your having fun the whole time, I don't see a problem with a game that skitters past the 2 hour mark.

TMNT is kind of brilliant and I think its the best original design that Kevin Wilson has ever done. It perfectly captures the feel of the turtles and the dice sharing mechanic is a genuine stroke of genius. I actually don't think the production is all that bad...but I get what you're saying. And yeah it sucks that lots of cool shit was only offered to KS backers.

I know you hated The Others, but I still think it's the best 1 vs all game to come out in the last year or so. I don't think its in the same category as DOOM, Conan or TMNT...it just feels completely unique compared to those. Still as a big fan of 1 vs All style games I'm glad to see this type of game come back into fashion. Though at the end of the day I think most people still prefer co-op games.

Sucks to hear that the Dreamlands expansion is a bust. The only big box expansion I own is the Pyramids and I've barely played it. Honestly, EH has so much shit already that I sort of wish they'd stop. They already have another small box expansion on the way....
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #244468 24 Feb 2017 09:46

MattDP wrote: You've piqued my interest in Doom. When you say it runs a little long, would you care to put a rough figure on that?


I don't think it's out of the ordinary for a scenario to go 2 hours, when they seem like they should be about an hour. There ends up being a bit of a push and pull going on, even when it is fairly obvious which side will be the victor. I haven't played enough to give a better answer than that yet.

That said, at no point during the game that goes on longer than you think it will, is anyone not having fun. :)

My thoughts on Conan - I really liked this game mechanically. Kickstarter ruined it, and I'm glad I dumped mine.
TMNT - this game is great, and I don't mind the minis. The tiles are hideous though.
Motorik's Avatar
Motorik replied the topic: #244470 24 Feb 2017 09:50
I bought Ogre 6E after reading your review of it last week, although I cheated and bought it on Amazon instead of MM. Haven't played Ogre since the 90s and I somehow completely missed the Designer's Edition Kickstarter, but I'm pretty impressed by the production quality on this thing and I'm really curious to see how the gameplay holds up in 2017. I hope SJG goes the glossy, oversized resurrection route for more of the older classics.
Egg Shen's Avatar
Egg Shen replied the topic: #244472 24 Feb 2017 09:52

hotseatgames wrote: TMNT - this game is great, and I don't mind the minis. The tiles are hideous though.


Yeah the tiles are pretty much the only thing about the production that I dislike. When we played the first scenario I stared at the tiles for a solid 15 minutes before realizing we were starting on a rooftop. I felt like it was a fucking magic eye painting that all the sudden came into focus.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #244481 24 Feb 2017 10:45
You're aware Gloomhaven is a legacy game, right? You won't be able to resell it and it has about 90 hours of content. I'm really interested to hear your take because it's so far out there for what you typically desire.

Due to it being extremely allocated (all retailers got 8% of what they ordered and Miniature Market already receive and shipped theirs last week), unfortunately we may not get to hear your take.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #244486 24 Feb 2017 11:29
DOOM combat system sounds great, sounds like a bit of a refinement of Gears---and you guys know how much I love Gears. Should I give this game a shot given my Gears love? What I'd really like is if FFG took this an iterated it again on another popular property---heard any rumors about that?
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #244487 24 Feb 2017 11:33
I appreciate the update regarding the Dreamlands expansion to Eldritch Horror. That sideboard map of the Dreamlands looks downright boring. I've decided against getting into EH just for the sake of the Dreamlands, though I'm still open to giving EH a try at some point.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #244491 24 Feb 2017 11:43
btw, all the work you're doing over there (you, Charlie, others) is pretty great and I'm glad to hear about all these releases. My armada purchases are on hold for now but...
Motorik's Avatar
Motorik replied the topic: #244494 24 Feb 2017 12:01
Co-signing on Gary's comment. I don't buy a lot of new games (I mostly trawl eBay for old Avalon Hill stuff and OOP 90s Euros) but I still look forward to the Review Corner newsletter hitting my inbox every week. All of you guys are fine writers, as well.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #244496 24 Feb 2017 12:15
Is the new Doom much better than the old Doom -- I have (and enjoy) both the original and it expansion.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #244502 24 Feb 2017 12:36
It's pretty different. It's less innovative but better designed. It's less loose, better balanced (first scenario notwithstanding), has better miniatures, and allows the overlord to play balls out.

The original has more interesting scenarios (especially the expansion), is much more brutal, and was really crazy for the time.

I think I'd probably rather play the new one if given the choice but this doesn't exactly replace that. Unless you're only interested in one sci-fi dungeon crawler then maybe it does.
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad replied the topic: #244503 24 Feb 2017 13:58
After this review, I again feel very tempted to get Acquire.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #244519 24 Feb 2017 21:08
Glad to hear you're soon going to be talking about some games with plastic figures on a map!
CranBerries's Avatar
CranBerries replied the topic: #244579 27 Feb 2017 01:24
Now I want Ogre 6E and GEV 6E. Did Ogre 6E come out two years ago? How did I miss that? And when are we getting a working version of Car Wars with scenarios?
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #244626 27 Feb 2017 18:34
Yeah man, that was the big "Designer's Edition". It's MASSIVE. It has everything. It is virtually unmanageable. The 6th edition "Ogre only" edition I reviewed just came out, it is JUST Ogre and nothing else. Supposedly a GEV box like this is coming out, and if it does I might jettison the Designer's Edition I have sitting in a chopped-down box up in the closet.

New DOOM is much different, very much a new design and not a retread of the 2005 game. It's more detailed and mechanical, but also more fun to play and interesting. It also feels more like DOOM.
waddball's Avatar
waddball replied the topic: #244725 02 Mar 2017 12:50
I admit I'm a bit overboard on Eldritch. I actually printed out some nice fan expansions (King in Yellow, Children of Yuggoth, Masks of Nyarlathotep) and am enjoying those. So I'm a little too close to see through a more casual lens.

That said, I like Dreamlands, and I don't see this dilution problem. It's nicely modular. Perhaps too modular, in that if you go full random on setup you'll barely see all that cool stuff you paid for. But if you just grab the relevant preludes, Dreamlands is great: the sideboard is easy to get to, the stories fit the HPL Dream Cycle, and both new AOs are pretty cool.

My issue is with the value proposition. The small-box expansions give you way more bang for your buck. Dreamlands was particularly light on overall content. But what was there, was good (IMO).
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #244734 02 Mar 2017 16:11
Well, I probably should have stated in the review that if you are JUST playing Dreamlands, it's going to naturally have more impact and all of its additions are going to be more significant in general. That's the hard thing with FFG's expansion model...it gets to where you have to ask if you want to sort out/cycle four or five expansions worth of stuff to play JUST whatever is new.

I usually just stack the decks with something new like this though, at least to a minimum degree...just so some of that new stuff is guaranteed to show up.

I kind of wish they were more modular in that you could just plug in a set of cards rather than have this all-in orgy of cards from years' worth of expansions. That was what made Arkham Horror untenable.
waddball's Avatar
waddball replied the topic: #244775 03 Mar 2017 11:44
I agree, you're all in on some things, and almost never in on others. But I think they've done a mostly good job with the "all in" stuff, as it's what you don't mind more of (weapons, non-specific encounters, conditions, spells). Just deep stacks, but...a minor inconvenience.

I could wish that when they introduce something new that they would keep it in relative sync variety-wise. It's kind of weird to have 13 unique Debts, but only 4 Blights. But it's a hard call, as some people don't want any new Blights, as they never bought Signs of Carcosa. But as long as it's internally consistent (encounters don't reference things you don't have) I think it's fine, and they've been careful about that. That's where Arkham went off the rails, unless you do some curating and pre-game prep.

I think the way to look at the big boxes is that you get one very specific scenario, one generic scenario using the setting, and a bunch of extra general stuff you'll always use. So if you're not that into the scenario, avoid, as the small boxes give you the general stuff without the extra cost/overhead.