Better with Boba.
I have to say that I’m actually kind of impressed with the new Imperial Assault expansion, The Twin Shadows. I think it’s a big improvement in terms of setting and narrative over the base game, and I find myself almost wishing that they had done this “mini campaign” as the entry point. It feels more like SW and it requires a MUCH smaller time/group commitment. There is also some cool stuff going on it like how C-3PO and R2-D2 function in a combat-oriented game. The skirmish stuff is really kind of more of the same in terms of similar boring scenarios and new cards, but more diversity of units can do nothing but help that side of the design. The game has grown on me somewhat, and playing Twin Shadows has made me realize that a lot of the issues I had with the base game last year were due to it simply not having enough touch points with the expectations the source material creates. This set fixes that.
The new Ally/Villain packs carry on the same annoying tradition of just replacing cardboard tokens, but I mean come on…like you want Boba Fett to be a little flat disc in this game. It’s pretty galling that he’s on the cover of the expansion but you buy him separately, but there it is.
I’ve also filed my two star review for Star Trek: Five Year Mission. Do not bother with this one, it's bad. I actually thought about rating it one star, but that would not be fair given my editorial parameters for a one star game since it does work as advertised and it has no serious mechanical issues or problems. It just sucks. Talk about a game not having enough touch points- it’s about as “thematic” as some of you people say as one of those licensed Yahtzee sets that come out around Christmas time. Sure, there are tons of muddy-looking, low-res stills from both TOS and TNG and each crew member has a special ability…but in no way does rolling standard D6 dice to try to get a 1-3 straight to beat Q or whatever capture any theme present in Star Trek. This is definitely a game that was not designed as a Trek title from the ground up. I suspect that it was some kind of generic co-op adventure thing that Mayfair just stuck some Trek pictures found on Google image search all over. Avoid this one, it’s probably the worst thing I’ve played all year. There are three positives- it can play up to eight without it taking as many hours, those players can drop in and out at leisure, and it gets people talking about Trek.
I got the new edition of Moongha Invaders last night so I persuaded a couple of friends to come over to check it out. I was pretty excited because I really liked it a lot the couple of times I played it back in 2010, but was never willing to blow $100-$200 on it. Man, what a let down. None of us really enjoyed it. My friends both thought it felt slow to get going and I totally agreed. It just isn’t a cut-loose game. It’s almost like it’s designed to make you wait with all of these tiny, incremental turns leading up to a big play that may or may not even be all that great. The setting is cool and all, I like a lot of things about it (including, paradoxically, the “charging” mechanic where you build up attack chits for a big blow-out attack later on), but I kind of wonder if the appeal of this game in 2015 is different than it was in 2010.
So I dunno, I need to play it a few more times (and with four) to see if whatever it was I saw in it in 2010 wasn’t just a result of really wanting this kind of game to exist. But I actually kind of found myself wishing that were playing Monsters Menace America (the reprint) instead.
The production sucks. Noxious made-in-China fumes waft out of the box when you open it. The illustrations are OK, but the old black/white/red look was much more distinct. The miniatures are awful- bright primary colors, dollar store army man quality sculpts. And they are WAY too big for the board. You put Mechoor and a couple of the stupid rubble pieces in a space, and there’s no room for all of the Drakoors, hidden monsters, army pieces, heroes and other tokens. Let alone another Mechoor. But hey, it comes with a poster!
Interestingly, the two player variant included as some kind of Kickstarter bonus is a completely different game that just uses the hero pieces and one color of monster from the base game. It looks like a basic, grid-based skirmish game with some card activations and special equipment. It may be OK, but it also seems to be a value-add rather than a selling point.
Secret of the Lost Tomb is growing on me…it is a mess, but there are a few qualities about it that I really like in spite of some truly hideous graphic design (I think there are like five different fonts on the box cover alone). I wish that the designer had focused the content on ONE setting instead of trying to do them all and I would have liked to have seen the game go through professional development to sand off some of the more egregious amateur mistakes (like having custom D12s when standard D6s would have sufficed), but there is something here worth looking at. If the words “Arkham Horror dungeoncrawl” sound good to you, it may be worth looking at.
Mistfall is also really growing on me. I’m kind of obsessed with it in a weird way. It also is a mess, but more because it’s a quite complicated game. I think you guys that are really into LOTR LCG should take a look at it in particular, as well as those of you who were put off by Pathfinder’s simplicity. Mage Knight fans might also find this one very worthwhile.
Cube Quest came in the mail today…another one I requested like a year ago. Looks really fun.