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 game...it 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.