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  • Barnes on Games- HABA's Family Game line-up in Review, Return to Hoth, Talon, Healthy Heart Hospital

Barnes on Games- HABA's Family Game line-up in Review, Return to Hoth, Talon, Healthy Heart Hospital

MB Updated
HABA Games
There Will Be Games

Kid approved!

Yes, I am putting the three new HABA games in top billing over the Imperial Assault expansion. Because these three games are outstanding family games that deserve attention. They are slightly  more advanced than HABA's usual offerings, geared more toward family play and for that purpose they are near perfect. None of these are going to impress your hardcore buddies down the FFG Event Center, but I bet they'd please most adults playing with children. They are all really kind of old fashioned too, hewing more to that classic "German Games" sensibility than to anything modern. And they've got pedigrees- Adventure Land is Kramer/Kiesling with art by Franz Vohwinkel, Karuba is Rudiger Dorn and Spookies is by the newcomer that did Beasty Bar and he's obviously working from a Sid Sackson template. I love these games and my kids do too, so this was a triple crown. Three in one review is here.

Now, Return to Hoth. Eh. It's good. *Shrug*. The new content is cool, Snowtroopers, HK Assassin droids (!!!), Wampas, et cetera but it's another long campaign and not a short one like in Twin Shadows. I'm not in favor of this, especially since there is no "official" way to run a one-off game if my friends don't want to play through another lengthy campaign. So the real value here is more in that side of the game than in the skirmish. There, you get more stuff (which is always welcome and always good to have), but there's a sameness creeping in outside of the unit differentiation. There's a new team play option, but I feel kind of so what about that. The Stormtrooper tank is stupid, please stop with the vehicles. I have all of the villain and ally packs as well, they're all worth getting. Especially Dengar. Here's the not-very-excited about it review.

No doubt, some of my lack of enthusiasm is because I'd rather my Star Wars gaming time be with Armada, which I think is the best SW game FFG has released, having not played Rebellion yet.

In other space battle news, GMT sent me Talon, and...drum roll...Jim Krohn has managed to make a playable, highly accessible Star Fleet Battles. I mean, it feels A LOT like SFB (or Federation Commander) what with its impulse activation/movement, power management, unloading fully charged disruptors at range 1 and so forth. But gone are the tax forms and the book keeping. You write all the important stuff directly on the big ship counters. It surprised me opening the box how relatively little it needs in terms of components. A board, a couple of ships and a handful of counters. That's it. Very lean, very manageable and really pretty quick. The scenarios are kind of bleh, but the combat is mostly fun. But it does feel like SFB/FedCom, so that means it actually kind of feels more like some kind of tank combat than spaceship combat. There's a cool campaign game you can play and you can also use it to resolve battles in Space Empires 4x.

As for the Armada comparison you are forming in your mind...I definitely prefer Armada over Talon. It is more detailed, more cinematic and more complicated. But Talon is almost a beer and pretzels sort of just happens to have some of that crusty old nerd stuff going on, albeit updated and made palatable by today's standards.

Got in a couple of games of Healthy Heart Hospital, VPG's new business game. It's a good one, not sure if it's one I'll be wanting to revisit often but it's a neat "hospital sim" sort of thing. Completely co-op. You triage patients, try to heal them and help them to not die on the premises. Because if they do, you lose prestige and you have hide the bodies. And pay death settlements! It's all very satirical and has a sort of snarky tone, which I like. For some reason, one of the hospital administrators is depicted by the English actor Terry-Thomas. And one of the doctors is Bruce Lee.

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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OldHippy's Avatar
OldHippy replied the topic: #221021 28 Jan 2016 18:56
I think vehicles could work and be really cool in Imperial Assault but you'd have to have different maps all together. I can see how in a skirmish, with large open territory, they'd be great fun to use but the way the maps are designed right now doesn't leave them any real room to move around and do stuff. They're just too big.

The only thing I really want for Imperial Assault is a designer series scenario book like they did with Tide of Iron and Decent. That would be an incredible platform for one off scenario's, something this game sorely needs right now. If they're worried about not making enough money off of just a book they could even package it in a box with some extra terrain tiles and a few figs just to up the cost. I would still buy that so long as it had the scenario's. I don't see that happening at this point though because they can pretty much just follow this campaign system for the foreseeable future and continue to sell tons of copies. There isn't any incentive for them to do it differently at this point. Such a shame though because that's what I want the most from this game.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #221022 28 Jan 2016 19:39
Yes, that is the issue with the tank and the AT-ST. THey don't work in corridor-based maps. You wind up with them in these...rooms. Even on the outdoors tiles, they are still in small rooms. I guess the thinking is that they are analogous to large monsters/dragons or whatever, but I think they just don't really work at the scale the game is at.

A scenario book would be GREAT. That would immediately make me like the game a lot more. Frankly, I think it's kind of shitty that the game is SO geared toward campaign, if you only want to do Skirmish, you are buying Hoth and over half of the components you may as well throw into the recycling bin. I think it was kind of a mistake to make everything SO the items/equipment cards, why aren't those used at all in Skirmish? I prefer Skirmish mainly because I don't really think the campaigns are all that great. There are some cool missions, and they are fun to play, but they are also something of a burden unless you've got folks focused on playing through it. It's almost like when you buy a game and find out that it's really built for multiplayer...and you want to play single player and the content that is there for that is compromised by where the focus lies.

But if you're all in on the campaigns...not much to complain about.
Sevej's Avatar
Sevej replied the topic: #221026 28 Jan 2016 20:42
I think the game's not for you. While the Skirmish is not a tacked-on feature (since they had a dedicated team of playtesters for that only), it's pretty clear that the game is pretty heavy on the campaign since the onset, particularly because it's a redesigned Descent 2.0. It's pretty great that they managed to cram a campaign and a skirmish mode into one box. I like it that they go full throttle with the campaign instead of just making single missions and then patch a campaign in.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #221031 28 Jan 2016 21:48
Very much looking forward to Talon arriving. Should be any day now.
Columbob's Avatar
Columbob replied the topic: #221041 29 Jan 2016 09:01
They recently released a NEW campaign book for Descent 2.0, just for use with the base game. So taking a cue from that, it could be what's in store for IA down the line. The Heroes/Monsters boxed sets add a couple of one-off scenarios featuring the stuff in the box if people want standalone variety, though the price is high if you only want the scenarios and don't care for extra minis, which are mainly new sculpts of D1 monsters/heroes and updated stats differing from those offered in the conversion kit.

That hospital game, it's a pretty unusual setting! My 5 year old is obsessed with medical anything, and were she older I'd probably get it to play with her.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #221050 29 Jan 2016 10:09
I agree that based on the handful of skirmishes I've played vs the campaign that the latter has more interesting gameplay. I have not played the big expansions but hope to soon. If nothing else, they offer varied starts to a campaign; even with using different character combos, the base game campaign initial scenarios would get tired after a few plays - I've done them 3-4 times in some case . The variety coming in the side missions.

If they had some sort of system for adapting the latter campaign encounters into standalones - " the Rebel player draws X random gear cards, spends Y credits, and each character gets 5 XP ) that would allow this sort of thing . Probably not hard to figure out for experienced campaign players after reviewing a few completed campaign logs to see how much of each you average per mission.