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  • Barnestorming- Imperial Assault Ally/Villain Packs in Review, Thunder Blade, Star Wars Comics, "Home"

Barnestorming- Imperial Assault Ally/Villain Packs in Review, Thunder Blade, Star Wars Comics, "Home"

MB Updated
Michaels Review
There Will Be Games

DLC in cardboard form.

On the Table

Well, it’s time to review the Imperial Assault day-one DLC, I mean, booster packs. I mean, micro-expansions. No, that’s not it. “Ally and Villain Packs”, that’s it. It’s over at the Review Corner this week.

I think they’re a crap way to sell this game. The extra missions are non-essential (or even useless if you are between campaigns) and the skirmish maps/objectives…you could probably come up with better on your own. The figures are purely cosmetic, replacing cardboard discs in the base game. But since this is a 3D game, of course you want Han and Chewbacca figures. FFG isn’t dumb. And when you buy these, you are effectively completing your purchase of the base set. Which is almost despicable, except that nobody is forcing you to buy these.

The almost-saving grace is that the new cards for skirmish increase the viability of that mode. I think after the next expansion (and its set of DLC, I mean, villain an ally packs such as the sold-separately Boba Fett figure that you’re going to want even though Boba Fett is front-and-center on the box) it might be actually pretty good. Right now, it’s just really lacking a wide enough range of options and the scenario design is really pretty crap. I’ve enjoyed just playing deathmatches probably more than having some guy stand by a terminal for X turns or flip a switch, whatever.

Anyway, Imperial Assault is the most I’ve ever played a game I really don’t care for. Thanks to my friends, who foolishly want to play it over Super Fantasy. I do sincerely hope it gets more compelling with the next releases.

But then again, Super Fantasy is looking like it’s on the way out now that Temple of Elemental Evil is here and I adore it. It is not an evolution of the system so much as it is a refinement. The differences add up though, and it is the best designed, best considered game out of the bunch. The town adventures are sort of a disappointment though, but with that said, they tried to mix it up and expand it without getting into more rules and a bunch of different content and to that extent it works. But don’t buy it just for the town scenarios thinking that it will be a radically different game. I actually haven’ t even mixed ToEE in with the other D&DAS stuff yet, I may actually keep it separated. I think the next set is something to do with demons.

Fallen review next week. Very good stuff.

Oh, and I have the only copy of the Shadows of Malice expansion in the world right now.


On the Consoles

Mostly just making my way through Aria of Sorrow…thought I was going to get back into Bloodborne, but I still need some time away.

Just looked at Thunder Blade on the 3DS, the new Sega remaster. This line has been a total gold mine of great titles, and this is the best version of Thunder Blade released outside of an arcade to date. But damn, it's hard. The controls definitely take some getting used to. Not because it controls badly, but because it sort of-ish controls kind of like I would imagine a helicopter would. So it's very different than After Burner or Space Harrier. The 3D effect is great, as usual the option to be able to have the screen move around so you can see the cabinet is really fun. I'd still rank Outrun and After Burner II as the best, but this is definitely a great addition to the set. Can't wait for Gunstar Heroes.


On the Comics Rack

Our very own Josh Look summoned me in the forums to look at the Marvel Star Wars comics, and I have heeded the call. The good news is that they are very good across the board. The bad news is that there’s not any collections yet so it’s all issues. And waiting. Ech.

The main book is lots of fun, Jason Aaron has a good handle on writing a big SW story and hitting the right notes. Perhaps too many right notes and possibly a little grandstanding- like having Vader take on a AT-AT single-handedly. Not that it isn’t cool, but it’s a touch over the top. But that’s Jason Aaron for you. John Cassady is absolutely the right man to pencil these books.

The Darth Vader series (Kieron Gillen) is interesting because it is the first thing I’ve read, at least, that really digs into what he remembers from the prequels (for better or worse). There are lots of specific references, and when Droidekas show up, for example, it’s kind of surprising. I like the sense that the book is trying to connect the series in a meaningful way, even though I’m all for declaring the prequels non-canon. There’s a cool storyline here too, centered around Vader falling out of favor following Yavin and sort of going off on his own…to find Luke.

I haven’t read all of Leia’s book (Mark Waid!) but the first one was compelling- it also gets into an under-explored area. Namely Leia’s role as a princess of Alderaan and how that puts her into conflict with some of the rebels who feel like she’s not properly  carrying on the royal lineage following the planet’s destruction. It’s a chick book too, which is unusual in SW- Leia and a female pilot are the leads. It could be really good.

Kanan’s is only two issues deep but I like it a lot too. It’s written by Rebels showrunner Greg Weisman and it offers some interesting backstory into that character that is really kind of unexpected. Since it’s called “The Last Padawan”,  you can kind of sort out that Order 66 weighs heavily on what happens. I love Rebels and Kanan is a really cool character- I’m glad to see him brought into the comics universe. Wouldn’t mind seeing books about the rest of the Rebels gang.

So batting 1000 so far. All of the books steer well clear of the slightly janky, too-grim, too-gritty, too-not really SW feeling that a lot of previous SW comics have had. But the most important thing so far is that they’re pretty simple. Nothing too elaborate other than elaborating on what is already there. Will read all of them.

Also going to check out Jeff Lemire’s Descender, which looks gorgeous.

And probably Secret Wars, because…Secret Wars.

On the Screen

Finally got to the second Berserk movie. Whoa buddy. It’s even more “ultra-R rated” than the first one. It’s pretty rough, some of it. Lots more graphic sex too, which makes it seem even more like something fans of Game of Thrones could get into. It was really good overall, definitely interested to see what happens in the finale of this arc.

More X-Files…re-watched “Home” again, and was once again surprised at how rough it was for television at that time. It’s still pretty gnarly stuff by today’s very, very low standards of decency but I remember seeing that episode when it aired and just thinking “damn, this is some Wes Craven shit right here”. I remember it was mildly controversial due to the graphic content/subject matter and it still stands as the harshest and probably scariest episode of the show.

In retrospect, it’s definitely one of the show’s best episodes even though it doesn’t dig too much into the concept or the characters. It’s well-directed, well-shot and well-written and back when it came out, that kind of 1970s style “dirt road” horror was still not very mainstream.

It’s really interesting how strong the first season is…a lot of shows don’t hit their stride until later, but I actually think that the first episodes are among the very best.

Still going through Cowboy Bebop…man, that is a really great show.

On Spotify

Still letting the kids dictate the playlist mostly and trying to do a catalog review of Siouxsie & the Banshees between their picks. They insist on calling “Hong Kong Garden” the “tinkle tinkle song”.

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 and 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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wadenels's Avatar
wadenels replied the topic: #202495 15 May 2015 09:21
wadenels's Avatar
wadenels replied the topic: #202496 15 May 2015 09:25
Is Thunder Blade as frantic as Afterburner on 3DS? Maybe I'm just bad at Afterburner, but it seems a lot more difficult on the 3DS than I remember it being back when it was new.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #202503 15 May 2015 10:56
No joke on Cowboy Bebop. Watching it again since I got the Blu Rays for Christmas.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #202508 15 May 2015 11:18
Didn't X-Wing and most other miniatures game have separate miniatures sold from the start? IA isn't a boardgame its a miniatures game.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #202509 15 May 2015 11:30
Well, I was going to start in on you for IA, but then I got to the bit about the comics.

Vader is a strange book, but I like it. It continuously makes you think it's moving towards a cohesive whole, but each issue is far more episodic than I was anticipating. Only one more to on that one. Leia is really good (Mark Waid, so yeah, duh) and it makes me happy to see a badass X-Wing pilot who is a girl. And yes, I can't get over how good Kanan is. I thought for sure that would be the first missfire.

There's a Lando book on the way with Alex Maleev (BMB's Daredevil artist) and after reading Star Wars #4, I'm sure another old favorite will be getting their own book in the future.

But the waiting. Oh, the waiting.
ThirstyMan's Avatar
ThirstyMan replied the topic: #202510 15 May 2015 11:44
Micheal? Is that French?
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #202519 15 May 2015 13:19
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #202530 15 May 2015 17:38
Yeah Josh, Vader is really odd- totally unexpected. Kieron Gillen is such a strange choice to do that book, you'd think they would have put Aaron on it...

But there are some really compelling things about it. We've never seen Vader in this way- really kind of reeling, out of favor with the Empire, and dealing with...being that guy that was in the Clone Wars and all. I have to say that this was kind of the first time that I felt like that Anakin is the guy in the suit. He's alllllmost humanized a bit. And very nearly makes...allllmost a joke here and there.

I like revisiting Geonosis, actually. It's oddly touching that Vader's ship is Padme's old silver luxury yacht. The archaeologist is cool, and I like her "well shit, I'm working for Vader" attitude. The homicidal Threepio/R2 stand-ins are actually pretty funny, calling to mind HK-47 from KOTOR. The "heretics" are actually a really neat concept.

Princess Leia almost reads like it was written specifically to be a girls' SF book, and it's really quite well done (yep, Mark Waid). I like that we see her with the weight of royalty, something again that we've never really seen before. It's always just like "oh yeah, Princess Leia of that blown-up planet."

Kanan is written by Weisman (hello- Gargoyles, Young Justice, etc.) and it's about a great character so I thought it was can't miss opportunity.

I heard about the Lando book- can not wait. Very interesting choice with Maleev, I wonder if it might get a little gritty, maybe into some more seedy areas. I hope it does.

Also hoping they get around doing books about Dengar, Zuckuss, Maliki and of course- Lobot. People don't know yet how awesome Lobot is, I'm telling you.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #202535 15 May 2015 18:26
WK- Thunder Blade is much less in-your-face than After Burner II. It's a little slower-paced but it also has more complex controls...and that cool mix of top-down and behind-the-chopper gameplay. I probably like ABII better overall, but TB feels different enough from it (and Galaxy Force II) to make it interesting.

Did you get Outrun? That is definitely the best of the 3D Classics...I think that game has actually aged really, really well. Which I wouldn't have said before playing the new edition of it, I thought it was one of those games whose time had come and gone. Super Hang-On is great too. Love that whole line.

Mad Dog- No, Imperial Assault is a board game attempting to be sold as a miniatures game. Somewhere in there is FFG dodging the stipulations of their contract and what Disney has worked out with Hasbro. They're giving you "placeholder" components in the starter box and then getting you to buy the "DLC" of figures for those components and a couple of missions/cards that easily could have been in the main box but were parceled out to others SKUs.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #202540 15 May 2015 20:25
Look, I'm the biggest IA apologist on this site, and even I'll tell you Michael is right. The way IA is sold may look like a minis game, but it's a damn stretch to actually refer to it as one.

Descender is the only non-Star Wars comic I'm reading right now. I think I just got #3 last week? Yeah, I think you'll really dig it.
OldHippy's Avatar
OldHippy replied the topic: #202541 15 May 2015 20:37
I forgive FFG for selling IA as a mini's game when we all know it's a boardgame. This game would not happen otherwise is my belief and I really want this game. I don't think they have a license for the boardgame so whatever... at least I got the game. I'll pretend it's a mini's game if that's what I have to do. Ever since I sold Doom I wanted that system in a Sci-Fi world again, but a little faster and more balanced. IA is exactly that and I love it. The fact that it's set in the SW universe is somewhat incidental to me but also a bonus.

I like the tool kit feel to IA. I love the main campaign and how it's designed (although there should be at least two different introductory scenarios to give it more longevity) and I have a blast with the skirmish mode too. But basically I want two things from this that I don't know if they will ever do. I mean I know they're going to make expansions galore and all that but what I want is;

1/ An online scenario editor to make your own scenarios' easily. They did one for ToI at first but then it never got updated after the first expansion and just fizzled away, but it was a blast at first. I'd like to see that idea return. Put some power in our hands.

2/ A designer series mission book like ToI and Decent got. I love the idea of hiring a bunch of big name designers to each do a mission or two and it was the best thing about ToI, I could see a lot of great stuff coming out of a book like that for IA.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #202553 16 May 2015 12:27
I'd say that an online scenario editor is actually pretty likely. They have one for X-Wing now and there's some insanely cool scenarios up. Han Solo's escape from Hoth through the asteroid belt anyone?

I, too, am ok with FFG selling IA as a minis game, but let's call a spade a spade. I wish there wasn't so much of a problem Hasbro over the board game end of the lisence. I mean really, I'm going to buy pretty much everything both companies put out. No joke, I already have a time off request in for September 4, the day all the new merch drops, which will likely be the day that new Risk game and Loopin' Chewie (aka GOTY 2015) comes out.
mikecl's Avatar
mikecl replied the topic: #202823 22 May 2015 10:31
Did you realize that in TOEE's town scenarios the art matters? I missed that little bit in the rulebook because it's buried and treated the whole area as an arena for the first town adventure, but buildings and fenced areas are actually walls and your heroes have to follow the little paths etc, which makes the town adventures slightly, and only just slightly, more interesting.