Level 99 does it again.
This week on the Review Corner- Pixel Tactics! I adore this game. It's weird how it's kind blown around under the radar, with multiple standalone releases and sort of a weirdly vague public sense of what the game is all about. It's kind of a card battler, but it's very different. Two sides get a 25 card deck, each card QUINTUPLING as a leader with a special ability, three different ranks of hero, and an operational effect. You need to beat the other player's leader, which sits in the middle of a 3x3 grid that you build with the Heroes. Each rank (vanguard, flank, rear) identifies the function of the card where you play it, and a round is going through each rank and both sides taking two actions. There's tons of choices, melee/ranged combat, spells, traps, tactical movement, clearing corpses... it's really quite a lot of game, even just one of the little $10 sets will give you a TON of play value. But this review is for everything (apart from a couple of minor expansions like an Argent University set), and especially the new Pixel Tactics Deluxe set. Here at Review Corner.
I really love Level 99. They make great games.
Had one of the best games of Armada to date with a friend last night. It was a blowout, but it was one of those games where both players knew the game, the cards, and how to play smoothly. 400 point game, I had three Star Destroyers (one ISD and two VSDs) and a handful of TIE squadrons. I wanted size over everything else. Ryan went with volume- two C90s, two Nebulon-Bs, MC30c, a YT-1300, Dutch Vander (Y-wing ace), Tycho Celchu (A-Wing ace), some X-wings. The scenario was the minefield, so I got to set the terrain and lay mines right in his face. This really threw him for a loop. A couple of ships broke out around them, but he decided to blow through them with the Nebulons. I literally just moved forward, this massive triangle fleet of doom, while he tried to speed up and get angles on my ships.
He managed to just about bring down the ISD with some nasty attacks form one the C90s working with a Nebulon-B that just completely disintegrated after a shot from the forward arc of the ISD. It was just brutal. The MC30c did some great work too, especially with the special torpedos that give the left and right banks extra black dice. But he sped up too much and wound up with it in turnaround for turns 4 and 5, drifting ineffectually behind the scrum.
The fighter game was sort of odd, lots more interdiction and "pinning" than usual, much more use of the escort abilities of the X-Wings and A-Wings. We also used command tokens quite a lot more than we have in the past... which is partially why it just got ugly for the Rebels in the second half. I had the SDs just charged up. We went all five turns and the SDs had practically just decided to flip the shields off, but it was clear that was no hope with both Nebulons down, both C90s smoking and with one or more failing systems.
Took us about two hours all in. Once again, we just built the fleets with Fab's and tweaked them up. I kind of kept mine just like it came up with the random pick- Vader, lots of crew, some special weapons... he wanted Mon Mothma and more X-Wings so he fudged his around a bit and went slightly over, which is why I got the initiative.
Revisited Archipelago thanks to our F:AT Math Trade and Da Bid Dabid's foolish decision to turn loose of this weird, wild game. I have decided that it is definitely Boelinger trolling the entire Eurogames paradigm. From the concept to the mechanics to the fact that he completely pulls the rug out from under the entire concept with those capricious, sometimes brutally unfair winning/end game conditions. I love that it is a game that will tell you "sorry, you failed" and not give you anything in return. I love the market system, as contrived and overly complicated as it is (does it really need TWO markets? ) I even love how he made the huts hard to see on the map. It's like he just did not care about complaints, and just did his own thing.
The way the co-op-ish-ness works is really cool, between the rebellion and the way you have to sort of negotiate to get the crises taken care of... which is a pain in the ass if one player has monopolized the crisis good and there's nothing on the markets, no exploration tokens. And they are fomenting revolt.
It's funny, revisiting it after being away from it, it somehow makes more sense overall and it plays more smoothly than I remember. I thought I'd have to get back into the rulebook, but I somehow managed to pick it right back up.
Also from the math trade- Wade's copy of Chateau Roquefort. What a great game! This is a Zoch kid's title with a sort of Labyrinth-like sliding tile board... with trap doors that drop the mice into dungeons. My kids loved it, although the first game resulted in crying when my daughter lost. It's surprisingly mean. Really enjoying this one, and it's just right for their ages (4 and 6).
Lots on tap for the next couple of weeks. I've got Josh Look's old copy of Arkham Horror, so I'm going to try to get back to that with NO expansions after not playing it for... six years? Seven years? I've got a review copy of Mexica coming, looking forward to seeing how that holds up to ERP standards. Stephen Buonocore, in his infinite kindness, is sending me a copy of the 2nd edition of Stronghold, which I'm really looking forward to trying after failing to get into the 1st edition some years ago. Kyle Mann and I are doing the Head to Head on Talon, which should be a good review. And my son has insisted that I show him Big City after he pawed through it the other day so that will likely get on the table tonight.