A look at a mound of games tormenting my table and a brief indulgence of Fury Road.
I consider myself somewhat of a film buff and I spend way too much time watching movies and TV. In the past couple of weeks I've seen Chappie, Elysium, Ex Machina, the first Harry Potter, even re-watched the fantastic Interstellar. However, my mind is 100% full-throttle affixed to Fury Road, despite seeing it over a week ago. I even found myself putting up with Spanish subtitles so that I could re-watch a few scenes on a janky stream. It's so fresh and new and I wholly believe it will be regarded as one of the best action films ever made, right up there with Aliens and Terminator 2. For now I wander around yelling out "MEDIOCRE!" when my wife suggests something for dinner, and mumbling "What a lovely day" when driving down my suburban block.
On the gaming front I've been knee-deep in releases and trudging through mountains of quality lately. I'm a pessimistic guy in general, but I'm still going to carry the flag for 2014 in particular as it's one of the better years in recent memory for new releases. 2015 hasn't been too shabby but not nearly as prolific thus far.
Star Wars: Armada
Like everyone else, Armada impressed me. It feels correct and it tows the company line of trust that Fantasy Flight has earned with me concerning Star Wars in particular. The large grey monsters waddle through the muck while the Rebels cut through the black like sharks on the hunt. Full broadsides, leaking reactors and fighters biting at the heels of the colossus are all there. It doesn't feel quite as on the nose as X-Wing in terms of capturing the feel of the classic trilogy, but it's certainly close enough.
This is kind of an odd duck from Academy Games. It sets itself up as a grand strategy game that takes a good chunk of time to dive into, and then it hits you with a random touch of the plague that kills off your entire noble line and half your troops. Jim's sitting off in the corner snickering because fate didn't release an arrow his way and all you can do is grind your fist into the cheap plastic folding table your mom left for you in the basement and drown your sorrows in a root beer.
Yet, I'm a huge fan. The narrative is engrossing as nobles rise from the charred land to claim titles and maneuver into the church hierarchy. If fate doesn't twist the dagger into Jim's kidneys then you surely can as you burn his cities and cut down his mills. It's an evil game and it's anything but dull. I dig games with personality and Fief is one of the most interesting people in the room.
I know you're all groaning but Eclipse is one of my favorite games and I'm willing to stand by that until I die. I think I've played it somewhere around 30 times and it continually delivers on what it sets out to do. I'm not a fan of the dreaded "spreadsheet" game or of managing the draining economies of a destitute nation, but this release just works for me on many levels. Eclipse is just so fluid and easy.
I took the opportunity to finally review this favorite of mine over at The Review Corner, and I'm sure it's a piece Michael had to grit his teeth to make it through the editing process.
Greed was the game I played the most at Geekway to the West this year. I had picked it up for very cheap in a recent sale and had just minimal expectations. It shattered those expectations and I kept finding myself suggesting we pull it out for a quick 30 minute game.
Like Eclipse, it just leaps from the shelf and fights its way into your gaming session. It's easy to setup, easy to teach, and extremely easy to play. It constantly rewards you in a natural and satisfying way that completely trounces the obfuscated façade of depth in 7 Wonders. This is a game I can see myself continuing to play over and over again throughout the coming months and it made my short list of titles to bring to Origins.
Shadows Of Malice: Seekers Of A Hidden Light
I shouted the praise for Shadows Of Malice a few months ago in my review of the base game. When Jim Felli gave me the opportunity to review an advanced copy from the printer for the upcoming expansion I leapt at the opportunity. Unsurprisingly Devious Weasel hit the mark again, as this expansion is excellent.
The addition of quests provides a new dynamic and natural tension to the game as you have another very rewarding element to devote your precious actions to. The shadows won't stop coming and bearing down on the simmering wells of light so you will need to make some measured decisions which will have an impact on the course of your story.
This is just a phenomenal game full of charm and the expansion fits expertly into the design.
On The Horizon
Right now I'm all about Camp Grizzly. This is the first release from Ameritrash Games and it's a doozy. Dan Thurot beat me to the scoop with an excellent review, but I will be delivering my counter soon enough.
I also am eager to get the new Shadow of Death expansion for Spartacus to the table. The new boast mechanic looks great and should add to the already hefty brinksmanship of the game. The new Sons of Anarchy Calaveras expansion looks solid as well; their gang ability is killer.
Aetherium and Specter Ops are further down the line. Both look to have great potential. By the time I get to those I hope to be smugly wallowing in the collective pain of Blackhawk nation. If they win the cup again, well, then you'll likely find me at the bottom of a glass.