Discussion of Force Awakens, X-Wing, Imperial Assault, Luchador!, and more.
I've conformed and branded my article so feel free to pile on the hate. Just in case you were wondering - I'm not particularly fond of tuna, although it's fine in small doses. I prefer other alternatives for high-mercury content sustenance.
That trailer. It brought my twitter feed to its knees like a man taking an uppercut to the groin. I was a little slow on the draw and was probably the last person to actually view it, which had a rather strange psychological effect as my brain kept telling me not to fall for the con and buy into the hype. While I will continue to argue that Episode I has its moments, I can't help but realize that Star Wars has more recently let me down than its propped me up. If you offer a dog a treat and then batter its head with a newspaper when it reaches for it, the poor animal's going to be a little leery the next time you proffer. Thankfully J.J. Abrams is there to catch Lucas' hand and slap him in the mouth.
Here's the thing, I'm not really an Abrams fan. Lost was magnificent for a very short period of time before it was dreadfully awful. Star Trek wasn't my thing to begin with but the inclusion of lens flare along with a cameraman suffering from Parkinson's doesn't help. Super 8? Mission Impossible 3? Come on. Yet, there's something there in those 2 exceptional minutes. The prequel trailers never felt this way, not even close. Take off your helmet and head outside to take a deep breath. This is going to be special.
Coincidentally the past couple months have been X-Wing season for my group. I've gotten Wave 5 and 6 to the table repeatedly and really enjoying how the game still continues to grow and adapt while keeping nearly every ship in the fleet relevant and potent. Back in February we dug into Imperial Assault as well, enjoying it's imperfect resonance. Several reviews on offer here:
This game just gets it. "Real board games" don't have to be rooted in TI-83 mental simulations and they don't have to be high brow. Fun is such a simple concept and there's no need to make things difficult. Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice is unbelievably fun in the same exact way that titles like King of Tokyo and Witness are fun. Silly and over the top aren't criticisms, rather, they should be embraced and lauded in this context.
As others have intimated, a large chunk of the enjoyment comes from social interaction and playing off each other's infectious joy. What makes a game like this succeed so strongly is its abilities to push participants into those situations to elicit the drama and interaction that creates these moments. Luchador is primarily a facilitator and all it requires is the right attitude and a small amount of effort. I'm a big fan and you should be too.
My narrative here is a bit different, and over the top much like the game featured.
I name dropped this large box a couple months ago but I had to revisit now that my review's gone live. This expansion is so incredibly great that it's mandatory for fans of Cyclades. The price point can be difficult to swallow but the product is as enormous as the mythical creatures the subject depicts.
What Cathala and Maublanc handle so masterfully here is the concept of massaging the original game without changing its identity. They expand its horizon and refocus the image on the strongest elements without ever losing their identity or spirit. Cyclades is still an Ameritrash and Euro hybrid, but its gained a bit of gumption and brazen attitude. The scales were adjusted slightly with a healthy dose of red blooded brinksmanship and I don't think I'll ever return to the base setup.
Much like the previous expansion Hades, the new Titan units allow flexibility beyond that found in Cyclades proper. More maneuvering and combat means a tighter and more enjoyable pace. Heads butt, buildings are ravaged and the countryside is burned at a much quicker pace. Magnificent.
On The Horizon
Like everyone else I'm busy as hell. Currently I'm tearing into the choose-your-own adventure inspired Fallen like a starving rat coming across his first bits of scrap. This game is great, yes, even sans the mounds of Kickstarter exclusive content. Don't fork out tons in the aftermarket to grab this one, just go for the retail version and pat yourself on the back. I'll have a review posted very soon.
In early January I shot Ignacy Trzecewizckavkzk a request for a review copy of Mysterium. I was shot down due to distribution agreements in North America and Asmodee handling the future release, however, a couple of weeks ago I ended up with a copy of Neuroshima Hex 3.0 and the unfortunately named Uranopolis expansion instead. This package took 45 days to arrive from Poland and I want to insert some kind of slightly humorous jab at the postal system but I'm still kind of flabbergasted. I did enjoy my old Z-Man 2nd edition copy several years ago very much, but it left my collection due to its reliance on two players to really sing. Excited to try this one out and re-capture some of that past enjoyment.
Oh, yes also the huge ass plasteel covered elephant in the room, Star Wars: Armada, is sitting on my shelf in the process of being evaluated. I've played a couple of games already and I can tell you this: I give the FFG design team a hell of a lot of credit for their ambition. They could have mailed this in but they took a chance on this product and it feels like they've released something they can be proud of, even if it won't sell quite like X-Wing hotcakes. Beyond the fiddliness, I'm really loving it.