Topdeck Montcalm for the win!
OK, first off let's get that review of Empires in America filed.
Other than playing VPG titles quite a lot, I've of course been playing Star Wars: Rebellion, two games in with a buddy that pulled out his phone and ordered a copy halfway through the first game. It is pretty much exactly what you wanted this game to be, provided that you didn't expect it to be a TI3/4x style thing. It's kind of more of a worker placement game than a DoaM one, and in fact the weakest part of the design is the combat. I'm teetering on the brink of declaring the combat crap, to be honest. It's just overwrought, like how FFG resolution systems often are. It really doesn't need the +1 hit/+1 block tactics cards at all. It's just clutter. I almost think that it could be modified so that instead of drawing those stupid cards you just add hits equal to the difference in command for space and ground per leader ratings. So if you had 3 space command in a space versus 1, you'd just add two automatic hits. It would be cleaner and quicker. I do really like how it distinguishes between "light" and "heavy" damage, so that you don't have an X-Wing taking out a Star Destroyer. Unless you have something that lets you get that one in a million hero shot.
Overall though, I think it's one of the best games FFG has ever done, and it's the best thing Corey K. has done since BSG. Can't wait to play it more.
On the solo front, I've gotten in a few games of a couple of Thirstyman-maligned DVG titles and they were both pretty good. Warfighter is a modern spec ops thing that is really kind of a dungeon crawl in disguise. But it's a good one, with some fun gameplay and plenty of Call of Duty-style action. Some neat ideas in it- like having NPC-class characters that don't have hands of cards and can take limited actions. So far it's put up a good fight too, and I've enjoyed doing the loadouts and watching the cool narratives unfold. Thunderbolt Apache Leader is probably the best game of that series that I've seen so far. It takes a bit to get going, but once you've got a couple of AH-64s and A-10s kitted out and blasting through Iraqi armor, hoping that the AA guns don't stress your pilot out or fill his chopper full of bullet holes (which stress out the next pilot to fly it if you don't fix them), it's lots of fun. Definitely managerial, but in a solo setting that works.
Pax Porfiriana prompted me to check out Greenland, Phil Eklund's "other" tableau builder, and after reading through the rules and having no clue what to do, I finally sorted it out by just setting up and playing a solo game. I think I get it now. What a lot of words to describe a dice placement game. It's typical Eklund- TONS of detail, lots of rules that exist only to simulate something, inscrutable graphic design, bizarre icons, impenetrable strategy. But I feel like I understand what's going on in it a this point, and it looks quite interesting. There are some neat opportunities for negotiation and direct conflict, lots of elements that convey atmosphere and setting, and a real sense of challenge. Definitely looking forward to getting into this one more.