Top Ten Fantasy Flight Games - PART ONE

Top Ten Fantasy Flight Games - PART ONE Hot

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Egg ShenEgg Shen   May 24, 2016  
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Fantasy Flight

As we all know, Fantasy Flight Games was purchased by Asmodee last year.  Well, as of April this year they are no longer a publisher, but rather a Design House within Asmodee.  They will be under the Asmodee North America umbrella or something.  So as a tribute to the FFG brand I thought it would be fun to run through their catalog and pick out their best games ever.  

Doing this was incredibly challenging because, like them or not, FFG is a powerhouse publisher.  Probably the closest thing to a new Games Workshop we will ever see.  Their games are known for being lavishly produced, having dense rulebooks, and for taking place in nerd friendly genres like space and high fantasy. 

Trimming this list down to ten games was almost impossible so I created a few rules.  First, this is going to be Part One.  It will focus only on original games that FFG designed themselves.  This list will be devoid of games made by other companies that they distributed and it will not include any reprints/reworkings.  Those will get their own Top Ten Lists in the following weeks. 

Alright I can tell I’m losing a few of you so I’ll get on with it.  Before we begin do me one last favor.  Open up a new tab and have this remix of the Spock vs Kirk Pon Farr battle music play while you read the list:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImV0CapjLIU  

 

Sound the trumpets!  Bring me the Human Beatbox!  Maestro…drop a beat.  Now, LET US BEGIN! 

10.  Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game (Jay Little, Corey Konieczka, Steven Kimball etc...) - Let's get this list started off right.  In hindsight, the X-Wing Miniatures game was the first salvo from a cannon barrage of awesome Star Wars stuff that rained down upon nerds worldwide.  Little did we know that eventually we would be smack dab in this unlikely Star Wars renaissance.  X-Wing is a game that succeeds on two very different fronts.  First the concept is brilliant.  Setting up squadrons with well known personas from the Star Wars Universe and dog-fighting is a can't miss concept.  Luckily, FFG didn't miss and the gameplay is simple and satisfying.  X-Wing also works because of it's toy factor.  When this is all set up on the table and you're pushing around your TIE Fighters and X-Wings it awakens this inner spark of child-like joy.  It's a wonderful feeling and I'm glad that there are products out that can remind us that being a kid at heart feels pretty good. Well that and the fact that the game lets you stuff Jek Porkins into an X-Wing and run amok.

9.  Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Justin Kemppainen, Corey Konieczka, Jonathan Ying) – So FFG went from the licensed game Doom, then to Descent, then Descent 2.0 and FINALLY Star Wars Imperial Assault.  I'd say the journey was worth it because this is the best dungeon crawl style game that the company offers.  Yes, despite being a flagship title, Descent: Journeys in the Dark did not make this list.  Imperial Assault is a dungeon crawl in the Star Wars universe and it’s great.  The system makes some subtle changes to Descent 2.0 and the end result is a much better experience.  Plus, they added a miniatures skirmish mode which should have been a throwaway experience, but it’s surprisingly robust.  The best way to play this is the short mini campaign expansions that they release.  They are the perfect length and tend to be more focused. The missions feel like Star Wars, your favorite characters show up and it all looks fantastic.  To quote an excited Principle Skinner, "There's Luke... And Obi-Wan! And my favorite, Chewie! They're all here!"  That's EXACTLY how this game makes me feel.

8.  Space Hulk: Death Angel (Corey Konieczka) – Don't look so shocked.  This game EARNED its place on the list by packing in the most DREAD it possibly could into the tiniest of boxes.  This card game version of Space Hulk is frightening to play!  The choice to make your Blood Angels only have 1 hit point was a stroke of genius by FFG’s resident madman de jour, Corey K.  You see every time a Genestealer attacks there is a roll of this cursed, bloody, red die.  As that thing click-clacks, rumble n’ bumbles its way to a skittering halt across the table your blood pressure SPIKES to an unhealthy level.  Death Angel is a great solo game and I’ve wasted countless nights catastrophically failing to command my Space Marines through the Genestealer infested Space Hulk.  Kudos to FFG for essentially creating Pvt. Hudson: The "Game Over Man" Simulator!

7.  Forbidden Stars (Samuel Bailey, James Kniffen, Corey Konieczka) – After losing the Starcraft license FFG didn’t pout or rest on their laurels.  Nope.  Years later they took the brilliant orders mechanic from Starcraft and bolted it onto a Warhammer 40K space conquest game.  If you love games with lots of miniatures and conflict then this is one of the best that FFG offers.  The previously mentioned orders mechanic has players taking turns dropping orders into delicious short stacks around the board.  As each one is agonizingly revealed the game erupts with subterfuge and combat that slowly covers the galaxy like so much syrup.  Then to add a cherry to this robust pancake of doom you’ve got faction specific upgrades galore.  This game makes you feel like Julia Roberts shopping with Richard Gere’s credit card on Rodeo Drive.  Except instead of finding a dress to go from prostitute to pretty woman, you're coupling the season's hottest heavy flame cannon with your blood encrusted power armor.  Don't forget to accessorize with a skull encrusted codpiece.  Who knew upgrades were so fashionable AND deadly?  For a company known for grand, epic games of war this is one of their grandest and epic-iest.  Sorry Runewars, dem Ork boyz stole your invitation to this fancy Top Ten ball and I’m afraid that a Chaos Marine made you grow an extra nipple.  WAAAAAAGH!

6.  Blood Bowl: Team Manager (Jay Little) – Of all the GW’s properties that FFG has used over the years I’d always hoped they’d do something with Blood Bowl.  Ever since I feel in love with the classic SEGA Genesis game, Mutant League Football, I've been obssessed with monsters playing football.  The Genesis game was clearly inspired by BB, but my 10 year old self didn't know that.  Knowing I would probably never get the chance to play in a BB league this card game was my best bet.  Thankfully, it abstracts playing an entire Blood Bowl season by using a successful combination of a few popular card games.  The result is a rambunctious, ruckus that never gets old.  If you always felt that Battle Line could have been enhanced by some cheating Chaos Goons then you're in luck. The game is easy to play, but each game feels drastically different thanks to multiple unique teams and players with differing stats/abilities.  I’ve had a ton of fun with just the base game, but I think it might be time to grab those two expansions before they disappear into the ether forever. 

5.  Battlestar Galactica (Corey Konieczka) – There is a reason why you see the name, “Corey K” dominate this list.  He demonstrated his mastery of matching mechanics and theme with one of his first big solo designs.  Battlestar Galactica the board game IS BSG the TV series.  The game perfectly captures the struggle, paranoia, and despair that the crew of Galactica went through in the first two seasons.  The game took the hidden traitor mechanism from Shadows Over Camelot and elevated it into something truly special.  For some it is arguably the king of this genre.  But it’s much more than a hidden traitor game.  It’s an ADVENTURE in the world of BSG.  The game allows you slide into the smarmy skin of Gaius or kick Cylon Raider tail with Star Buck.  Quite simply the game is the show.  If FFG were to ever lose the BSG license and this simply became a generic space game I don’t believe it would ever be the same.  Just look at REX to see how well that worked out.

4.  Eldritch Horror (Corey Konieczka, Nikki Valens) – FFG loves it’s Lovecraft games.  Many thought that this was going to be Arkham Horror 2.0, but it’s not.  This is more akin to Indiana Jones and the Sunken City of R’lyeh than an actual Lovecraft story.  And I’m totally fine with that.  EH plays like Tales of the Arabian Nights:  Tentacle Edition except it has more character development and onus over your choices.  You have less control of your character than you do in Arkham and you sort of need to be cool with that.  If you let it, this game will constantly produce some of the most entertaining nights of your life.  The absolute GREATEST thing in Eldritch Horror are the card effects that will trigger sometime after you acquire them.  You never quite know what a spell will do or what having a poisoned condition will trigger.  It's a big wild ride of a boardgame that will take you on an expected journey each time you crack open the box.  This is FFG crowning achievement in both adventure games and Lovecraft games.  

3.  Chaos in the Old World (Eric Lang) – There are few games unique and daring enough to walk into the Grand Discotheque of Gaming and dare flirt with perfection.  Well, while killing it in a little black dress, CitOW sauntered right on up to Mr. Perfect and let me tell you the dude was blushing...hard.  This game doesn’t seem to get discussed as hotly as it once did.  Well it should, because it’s a masterpiece! CitOW essentially put Eric Lang on the map.  His mixing of a cutthroat DoaM game with Euro mechanic sensibilities, asymmetrical powers, and Warhammer Fantasy is like some dark, twisted, equation that solves the riddle to the meaning of life.  Playing as a Chaos God looking to destroy the world is not just fun…it's down right addicting.  Some people could never get past the bloody Warhammer veneer or have since moved onto other newer and fresher games.  Mark my words, CitOW will go down as one of the greatest boardgames of this era.  If or when it goes out of print it will be a hotly sought after treasure.

2.  Twilight Imperium III (Christian Peterson) – Is there any other game that personifies what FFG was all about?  TI3 is a big, messy, glorious beast of a game.  It has no other peers and with boardgamers moving toward shorter, simplier designs, it likely never will.  This game literally takes you to a far off galaxy where you partake in war, politics, trades and domination.  When you sit down to a game of TI3 you’re going to experience something that is unlike anything else in boardgaming.  Yes it’s long.  Yes, it requires a person to skillfully mix expansion modules for it to shine brightest.  Regardless, it’s a brilliant game and hopefully one that doesn’t disappear with the new merger. 

1.  Star Wars Rebellion (Corey Konieczka) – It’s only fitting that the last big game released by FFG turned out to be their crowning achievement.  Sure it’s brand new, but I feel more than comfortable putting it here.  As a bonus here is my mini review of the game: 

In life there are certain experiences that make you sit back and say, “whoa”.  It might be a videogame, a movie, a book, or in this case a boardgame.  The first time I played Star Wars Rebellion it consumed my mind.  I literally could not think about anything else.  It was basically text book insanity of my brain.

It blows my mind that this game actually exists.  Do you all understand how incredibly LUCKY we are to have a design like this? This is the ULTIMATE Star Wars experience.  And it’s real!  It actually exists and we can play it whenever we want.  Games like this make me happy to be alive in this time period.  Well that and Totino’s Pizza Rolls.  Shakespeare missed out on those things. 

Rebellion doesn’t feel like any other boardgame ever made.  In this day and age that’s hard to do.  To do that AND have it be one of the best games ever made is practically impossible.  This game IS Star Wars.  If you ever wanted to play out your version of the Original Trilogy in some sort of interactive medium well this is it.  It’s a sprawling game of cat vs mouse…Empire vs Rebellion.  And yet it’s so cleanly designed.  Each and every turn you’re plotting your moves and scheming.  Yes, you're ALWAYS scheming in Rebellion!  There is bluffing, powerful cards to play and a ton of trickery. The Empire feels like a tiger hunting a field mouse.  Trying to hide is terrifying for the Rebels.  It feels suitably hopeless.

Don't be fooled by the size of the box and miniatures.  Rebellion is NOT a game about combat.  No, in fact the design feels more akin to Fury of Dracula rather than Forbidden Stars.  The hidden rebel base element coupled with a highly interactive workplace placement/leader deployment makes it feel truly unique.  In fact, what it feels like is Star Wars.  The game's mechanics and theme are so tightly intertwined that the theme of this game couldn't be anything other than Star Wars.  DAMN, that is impressive. Oh I love it, I love all of it.

Corey K please stand up and take a bow for creating this masterpiece.  I award you all of the stars in the Galaxy for your valiant efforts.  Rest easy each and every night knowing you have made the best interactive Star Wars thing EVER…in any medium. 

 

There you have it, the greatest games that FFG has ever produced.  Stay tuned as I will have the Top Ten FFG Reprints/Reworkings in just a short bit.  

Posted: 24 May 2016 06:09 by mads b. #227991
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I stopped reading when Starcraft wasn't in the top five.

No, seriously, great list and I like your arguments for the nominations. Starcraft should absolutely have been on, but you have compelling arguments for the ones you put in there.
Posted: 24 May 2016 08:43 by Mr. White #227996
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Great stuff, Egg! Lists are awesome and this is the perfect time for a FFG one.

I haven't played many of these, but here are my thoughts...

10. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - Hey...I thought reprints didn't count on this list! ;)

9. Star Wars: Imperial Assault - (see above)

8. Space Hulk: Death Angel - Love this game and I'm not convinced Warhammer Quest Cardgame is better. My favorite solo and co-op title ATM

7. Forbidden Stars - Haven't played. Even as a longtime GW (well more a classic GW fan), outside of Space Hulk and Necromunda the 40K universe never did anything for me. Heresy!

6. Blood Bowl: Team Manager - I consider this my favorite deckbuilder and think that adding cards to build your roster is a genius idea for the theme. I too, don't have the expansions yet. I'm sort of interested in the first one. Not at all in the second. Doesn't seem like a third is coming out, but with GW re-launching the parent title I wonder if FFG wouldn't cook up something to ride the hype.

5. Battlestar Galactica - Never played. Setting does nothing for me.

4. Eldritch Horror - Never played, but I have a hard time seeing this here but not Arkham Horror. I'm not an AH fan at all, but from what I understand that title is the one that made FFG what it is today. AH is considered a reprint maybe?

3. Chaos in the Old World - I've enjoyed every game of CitOW that I've played, but for some reason I never felt the urge to pick it up. Maybe because I don't think it'll get played as much as, say, Nexus Ops within the group?

2. Twilight Imperium III - I've only played the second edition, but like AH I would expect this to be here.

1. Star Wars Rebellion - Wha...? Shouldn't this be War of the RIng?

I expect to see lots of greats like Talisman, Condotierre, and Cosmic Encounter on the next list, but something that struck me on this one. Is this FFG 'in house' only designs? I mean what about first run through FFG titles such as LotR: Confrontation or..dare I say it...Beowulf? ;) Is it because those are 'Knizia' and not 'FFG'? Is that why War of the Ring isn't on the list because it was from off the farm developers?

My list of (non-reprint) FFG titles might looks something like (no order):
Citadels (was that FFG first?)
LotR: Confrontation (ahh...the new BGG is garbage...I can't tell if FFG or Kosmos was first. Maybe both?)
Beowulf
Space Hulk Death Angel
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Twilight Imperium
Android (just for the attempt and all the great discussion over the years)
Arkham Horror (give it its due)
Micro Mutants (not a FFG developed game?)
The Hobbit (that kids roll and move game from about 15 years ago...damn we played a lot of that with my son)

This was actually sort of a hard list for me to put together. Seems most of my favorite FFG games are reprints or revisions.

Side Note on X-Wing - I understand it has overtaken 40K as the top selling minis game. I'm not sure I would consider pre-painted, collectible minis the same as hobby minis, but whatever, I don't compile the sales lists. Either way, I'm not surprised. However, and I've mentioned this for years, licenses expire or cool. X-wing won't be around forever...if there's a GW, there's a 40k. FFG makes nothing off Star Wars movies, shirts, toys, video games etc. In fact, they lose a little in SW sales to cover their license fee. GW gets a nice cut of the profits for any 40K related item. In the long game it's better to own and grow your own IP, IMO. I wish all these recent Star Wars games where divvied up into the Twilight Imperium and Android universes. Sure it's not the short term cash infusion, but FFG could have used these refined systems to blow up their own IPs which could then be licensed out for comics, video games, novels, toys, etc. Seems they were coming into their own and could have gone this route. It's a shame that instead of exploring new worlds in new IPs...we now only get to quote the same tired SW lines across all these cash-in titles.
It's a Trap!
Posted: 24 May 2016 09:21 by Msample #228000
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Mr. White wrote:
1. Star Wars Rebellion - Wha...? Shouldn't this be War of the RIng?

Egg was only counting stuff done in house by FFG - WotR was done by NEXUS and distributed in the US by FFG.
Posted: 24 May 2016 09:25 by Mr. White #228001
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Yeah, I went back and re-read that.

His distributed/reprint/re-imagining list is going to be tough to nail down...that's a large pool of fantastic titles...
Posted: 24 May 2016 10:12 by jpat #228006
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I haven't played all of these, but the only thing I'd really quibble about is the inclusion of X-wing, not because it's not good but because it's, as I think Mr. White jokingly alluded to, a refined but still pretty straight yet uncredited port of Wings of War to Star Wars. BSG belongs at least that high, if not higher, because it not only contains legitimate theme but has you actually enacting the theme during the game.
Posted: 24 May 2016 10:29 by Josh Look #228007
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A solid list. I definitely agree with the top 5 100%. TI3 and Rebellion could be tied for me, though 10 games or so into Rebellion and I think I can call it my favorite game, so if it has the 1 spot, fine.

I might have had Runewars in here. And Armada over X-Wing.
Posted: 24 May 2016 10:41 by jpat #228008
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Looking again, I think I could also imagine a scenario in which one of these gets booted for the Game of Thrones board game, but maybe it's just an honorable mention.
Posted: 24 May 2016 10:43 by SuperflyTNT #228009
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It's clear that these aren't in order when Death Angel beats out X-Wing.

Its also clear that it's not in order when 2nd Edition Runebound and Talisman aren't in the top 10.
Posted: 24 May 2016 12:13 by Msample #228022
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jpat wrote:
I haven't played all of these, but the only thing I'd really quibble about is the inclusion of X-wing, not because it's not good but because it's, as I think Mr. White jokingly alluded to, a refined but still pretty straight yet uncredited port of Wings of War to Star Wars.

I'd say X-Wing is different enough from WoW that it can stand on its own. Different versions of the same ships, upgrade cards all make for a much richer game IMO.

I am still debating RUNEWARS being left off the list. Yes its not as streamlined as Forbidden Stars, but the latter felt a bit overwrought on the combat system and the map a bit more constrained. It does have the virtue of a better theme .
Posted: 24 May 2016 13:08 by Jexik #228027
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Surprisingly, I've only played three on your list.

X-Wing- My current favorite game. I have to keep myself off the wiki and enjoy what I've got. So far I've played all of my ships at least once, so there's that. I was born in 1985 and my dad is the type to watch sports, news, and live theater rather than sci fi stuff, so I've never been into Star Wars as much as some of you 35-45 year old set. List building is okay, but what I really like is the maneuvering aspect.

BSG I haven't played it in awhile and I never watched more than a few episodes of the show. (I jumped in in the middle of season 3 or something with a now-ex girlfriend). I didn't enjoy spending some of my weekend time that way. The game is actually pretty great and I'll still play it now.

CitOW I had an awful experience with this at GenCon when it first came out. We started explaining the rules at 11 PM and slogged through it with no one having a great idea of what they were doing. I think I was Nurgle, and I was... trying to corrupt stuff? I can see the potential but that soured me on the game. After that I refuse to play even moderately challenging new (to everyone) games during the evenings at a con. Codenames stole GenCon 2015 for me, for example.

I should give it a shot, but I'm not sure who I know that has it. The guys who might are real cult of the new types, so it's probably sitting on a shelf in their attic, never to be seen again.
Posted: 24 May 2016 13:50 by Southernman #228028
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RE: Mr White
Citadels is a redo of Ohne Furcht Und Adel by Hans Im Gluck while, of course, Arkham Horror is also a redo.

And I can barely get out, as I gasp in disbelief, where is DOOM !?

I also would have put A Game of Thrones 2e, Runewars, Middle Earth Quest and even a shout for Tide of Iron and Warcraft the Boardgame in that list in place of some of those games - but, like all fan lists of anything, this is purely subjective and whoever is in first gets to pick first !
Posted: 24 May 2016 13:58 by Space Ghost #228029
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Beyond, cheating and narrowing the list to be "original" designs and leaving off some of the reworkings (some of which have been significant), a pretty good list all in all :)

I think that Runebound (2nd Edition) and Runewars should definitely be on the list. Fury of Dracula and Arkham Horror are different enough from the originals they should be on the list as well. Almost a crime that Starcraft isn't on there. Tide of Iron and LotR: Confrontation are close contenders too. Trouble is, I don't know what I would kick-off. Star Wars is probably over-represented. Imperial Assault is good, but it is probably outclassed by other dungeon crawlers -- and maybe now by Descent that the App is out. BSG base game is good, but that thing has been weighed down by expansions versus CitoW which probably shouldn't of even had its expansion. Forbidden Stars could come out for StarCraft.

I like Rebellion a lot, but I don't know if it is that gushingly great -- "..doesn't fell like any boardgame ever made" is a bit of a stretch. I think there are enough similarities to War of the Ring that it at least puts them in the same genre of overwhelming force hunts small group trying to do sneaky things.
Posted: 24 May 2016 14:07 by Egg Shen #228032
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Man you guys are on point as always! Here is a peek behind the veil at the creation process of this list...

X-Wing was originally left off this list. When I first came up with ten games I thought for sure that X-Wing was a Wings of War reprint. So I originally had it going on the reprint list. Then I started doing some digging and found out that the game was claimed to be an internal design by FFG. There was some contention on this point between the WoW designer and FFG's Christian Petersen. I think in the end the game's are different enough and certainly no legal action ever came of it...so I ended up deeming it a FFG original design. If the head of the company went on a public forum (BGG) and made claims that they came up with the design it was good enough for me. So X-Wing made it back onto the list at the 11th hour.

In regards to other big games like Runewars, A Game of Thrones etc... this list could have been filled with just these big ass DoaM/4X style games. However I decided to go with what I believed to be the cream of the crop in Forbidden Stars. Feel free to put an asterisk next to the game and also include Starcraft in that entry. I'll also let you in a secret that Runewars was in fact #11 and just missed the list. I love that game and have been getting the itch to play it again.

Warhammer Quest the Adventure Card Game came into heavy consideration for me as well. It's an excellent design and worthy of the highest praise. I think if FFG gets some good expansion content out there the game might climb into the Top Ten at some point. Here's hoping that more content is on the way.

In regards to Imperial Assault...full disclosure, I wrote this article long before I played Descent with the Road to Legend app. Though I need to spend more time with it and see what the next campaign is like, I feel like Descent (with RtL) might have landed on this list. I'm really loving the experience so far. Still Imperial Assault is a tremendous design as well. There is a ton of value crammed into that box and it's one of the few games with an overlord that I don't mind still playing. If FFG gets around to releasing a RtL style app for Imperial Assault I would sell all of my Descent stuff before Han Solo could finish The Kessel Run.

One thing I will say is that going through FFG's entire catalog made me realize that their output of games over the past ten years or so has been nothing short of incredible. They've published many of my all time favorite games and I hate to think about the actually amount of money I've spent on their products over the years.
Posted: 24 May 2016 14:08 by Shellhead #228033
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Rebellion is a re-working of Freedom in the Galaxy.
Posted: 24 May 2016 14:10 by Shellhead #228034
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Jexik wrote:
BSG I haven't played it in awhile and I never watched more than a few episodes of the show. (I jumped in in the middle of season 3 or something with a now-ex girlfriend). I didn't enjoy spending some of my weekend time that way. The game is actually pretty great and I'll still play it now.

You jumped ship just in time. The second half of season 3 is downward spiral into stupidity. I jumped ship after the season 3 finale and never looked back.
Posted: 24 May 2016 14:36 by Jackwraith #228035
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Hm. Haven't played Rebellion, but I immediately look askance at any game listed as #1 after only a few weeks of release. The newness factor is just too prevalent. I also agree with other that the list feels a little too Star Wars-centric, but whatevs. I gave up on X-Wing when I decided that collectible games just aren't for me, anymore. I just don't have time to keep up with the meta and the only people in my area that play regularly are the tournament guys. I loved Netrunner, too but, alas... I agree with a lot of the list, otherwise, although ranking will always be hugely subjective, of course.

When everyone is saying "Runebound, 2nd Ed." do they meant the most recent version or the actual Second Edition, which basically just tweaked the first and changed the dice to 2d10 from 1d20? I will always love Runebound simply for the variety of adventures possible with the big and small expansions. That said, I'm not sure I would have put it in the top 10. I'll still play it anytime, but somehow it never struck me as something as transformative as games like CitOW or TI3. I probably would have added A Game of Thrones, as well, since the order system remains as unusual as that of Forbidden Stars/Starcraft, if different.

Similarly to Shellhead, I gave up on BSG after season 2, despite urging from several friends to give season 3 a try, since it supposedly really took off at that point (something about the writers collectively realizing that they took a wrong turn in season 2 and they were going to get canceled?) but I've never taken the time to go back to it and now it's off Netflix. We played BSG three or four times and my experience was that, unless you had a group really willing to engage the traitor mechanics, it wasn't as fun as it could've been. My group somehow just didn't grasp it so I ended up trading it away.

I think the expansions do nothing but make BB: TM better. More teams to choose from and more options to choose from (magic balls, stadia, contracts, etc.) It's definitely a favorite.
Posted: 24 May 2016 15:47 by Colorcrayons #228044
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Doom?

I know nearly everyone lauds the fantasy redesign in descent or refinement in rebellion, but with very very minor tweaks, Doom is a clean system. I don't think I've played a better video game to board game implementation from the viewpoint of how similar they feel and how easy it is to play.

I think as a two player game, this is my choice for best inhouse design by ffg, ever. From a design perspective, its brilliant. From a game play perspective, it could use refinement, but not to the degree they took it with descent.
Posted: 24 May 2016 15:50 by Chapel #228045
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Shellhead wrote:
Rebellion is a re-working of Freedom in the Galaxy.

That in itself is so meta.
Posted: 24 May 2016 16:31 by Mr. White #228048
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Egg Shen wrote:
If the head of the company went on a public forum (BGG) and made claims that they came up with the design it was good enough for me.

Love ya, Egg, but surely you're a bit more skeptical then believing in whatever some corporate head says in public...

Even if not, there was a lot of back and forth all over gaming sites when this came out. At the end of the day FFG and the legion of SW fans were able to shout down the designer of WoW/G. Ultimately, ethics don't really matter, so long as we get what we want (see also: the sharing economy flap). I was actually disappointed in several people who went along and rewarded FFG for their poor handling of this...theme we prefer or not.
Posted: 24 May 2016 16:36 by Michael Barnes #228049
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It really is unfortunate that FFG shit the bed with the Rebellion combat...if it had a resolution mechanic that was more in scope with the design and that didn't slam on the brakes, I think it would definitely be one of their top three in-house designs, easily.

I guess best then would be:

SW Rebellion
SW Armada
SW X-Wing
Chaos in the Old World
Battlestar Galactica
Blood Bowl Team Manager
Gears of War
StarCraft
Eldritch Horror
Rune Age

WORST would be:
Drakon
Horus Heresy
Civilization
Battles of Westeros
Mutant Chronicles CMG
Frenzy
Orcz
Delta V
Elder Sign

Not including reprints/distribution/licensed titles. If we figure that in, then Cosmic Encounter is the best thing they've ever released. And Rex one of the worst.

Android belongs in both the best and worst lists somewhere.
Posted: 24 May 2016 16:46 by el_skootro #228053
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With all due respect, Mr. Shen:

I read Chaos in the Old World as #3 and then TI3 as #2 and I got super excited for #1! And then .... hmmmm.

I'm starting to doubt your decision making skills.

Sincerely yours,
Skooter
Posted: 24 May 2016 19:39 by Chasch #228074
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I can only say what I like:

Android Netrunner is one of the best games I've ever played ever.

I've enjoyed every single game of Arkham Horror I've ever played.

I've enjoyed every game of Cosmic Encounter I've ever played, but I've never played with flares. Can anyone speak to how play differs with flares in the mix?

I've played BSG once and did enjoy it. From the point of view of theme, having a traitor in the mix works better by far with this game than any other game, such as the misbegotten rummy remake called Shadows over Camelot.

I've got Warrior Knights in the closet and CitOW, but I've never played the former and never busted the shrink on the latter. Maybe this year.
Posted: 24 May 2016 20:39 by Sevej #228078
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Mr. White wrote:
Egg Shen wrote:
If the head of the company went on a public forum (BGG) and made claims that they came up with the design it was good enough for me.

Love ya, Egg, but surely you're a bit more skeptical then believing in whatever some corporate head says in public...

Even if not, there was a lot of back and forth all over gaming sites when this came out. At the end of the day FFG and the legion of SW fans were able to shout down the designer of WoW/G. Ultimately, ethics don't really matter, so long as we get what we want (see also: the sharing economy flap). I was actually disappointed in several people who went along and rewarded FFG for their poor handling of this...theme we prefer or not.

I hate to bring this up everytime this discussion come up, but you guys should learn to remember this single fact: Wreckage was published by FFG in 2003 and they use what can be a precursor to WoW system. Face down cards to decide steering, using cards as 45 degree templates, even X-Wing damage system can be drawn to this game. So WoW copies Wreckage, then X-Wing copies WoW... I guess this is where you should say everything comes full circle?
Posted: 24 May 2016 20:58 by Michael Barnes #228080
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When I played WoW, I thought "hey, this is like Wreckage".

It also really chaps my hide how poorly FFG handled using dice to resolve combat in their games without crediting Risk. And for ripping off Heroscape by having modular dungeon tiles and one player being the bad guy in Descent. They are game mechanic burglars.
Posted: 24 May 2016 21:26 by wadenels #228082
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Warrior Knights! It really isn't a reprint of GW Warrior Knights; only a few ideas survived the redesign.
Talisman! They've done so much more with it than any previous edition I think we can start giving FFG design credits on this one.

It's interesting how many really good games FFG has in the Star Wars setting. I wonder what the FFG catalog would look like if they hadn't landed the license. FFG is putting out some pretty solid RPGs these days too. FFG is a gaming juggernaut and I'm a little sad that their HQ in Roseville says "Asmodee" on it now.
Posted: 24 May 2016 22:38 by Chasch #228085
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Well, is the FF Warrior Knights any good or not? I have an expansion pack for it too.
Posted: 24 May 2016 22:50 by wadenels #228089
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Chasch wrote:
Well, is the FF Warrior Knights any good or not? I have an expansion pack for it too.

http://fortressat.com/articles-analysis/5340-warrior-knights-two-different-games-with-the-same-title
Posted: 24 May 2016 22:56 by Jackwraith #228090
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Chasch wrote:
I've enjoyed every game of Cosmic Encounter I've ever played, but I've never played with flares. Can anyone speak to how play differs with flares in the mix?

Wait... wut? How do you play CE without flares?

Also, while I respect the design of Doom and the vision that basically brought the videogame to plastic life, the gameplay was so flawed that it just can't be considered among their best. If the Invader player isn't functionally retarded, there's basically no way for the Marines to win.
Posted: 24 May 2016 23:05 by Mr. White #228092
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Michael Barnes wrote:
It also really chaps my hide how poorly FFG handled using dice to resolve combat in their games without crediting Risk. And for ripping off Heroscape by having modular dungeon tiles and one player being the bad guy in Descent. They are game mechanic burglars.

I think you're confusing Heroscape with HeroQuest or something.

Heroscape has 3d modular terrain where armies battle it out over Valhalla.

Heroquest is a dungeon (not even modular) with a GM/adversary player.

C'mon, Barnes, I'll lose interest arguing with you if you can't keep your movies/games straight. :)

Seriously though folks, these are all the same arguments that came out last time. If you really buy Peterson's line that X-Wing to WoW is the same as WoW to Wreckage then there's nothing I can say that will sway you. Previous attempts years past, pointing out how it was designed to be similar to WoW until FFG lawyers stepped in and wanted the WoW crew unmentioned (I think this is when the Nexus/Ares thing was going down, so I don't know what legal particulars where happening due to that and the distribution deal with FFG) seems to have done nothing. Either way, to make the leap from Wreckage to X-Wing without giving any sort of acknowledgement or mention to what the WoW crew did (from gameplay, to packaging, to model design, etc) is completely blind at best and dishonest at worst. It's like if Screeching Weasel were like "What? The Ramones? No idea about that. We're just playing 50s tunes at a faster clip..." But whatever enables you to feel good about your hordes of Made in China plastic...carry on.
Posted: 24 May 2016 23:17 by Chasch #228094
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I have Doom and played once, really enjoyed. But my douchebag neighbor slammed the Doom box on the table until it burst like a cornfed pig tossed into traffic from the overpass. He said he was trying to help me. Anyway, I have the Doom expansion pack still in the shrink. Wonder if it augments the game well. I also Craigslisted the *old* Space Hulk and got an expansion for it as well, but I've only played the online edition.

Say, didn't FF do plain old Space Hulk? For those who played, was it not worthy?
Posted: 25 May 2016 00:50 by Sevej #228105
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Mr. White wrote:
Seriously though folks, these are all the same arguments that came out last time. If you really buy Peterson's line that X-Wing to WoW is the same as WoW to Wreckage then there's nothing I can say that will sway you. Previous attempts years past, pointing out how it was designed to be similar to WoW until FFG lawyers stepped in and wanted the WoW crew unmentioned (I think this is when the Nexus/Ares thing was going down, so I don't know what legal particulars where happening due to that and the distribution deal with FFG) seems to have done nothing. Either way, to make the leap from Wreckage to X-Wing without giving any sort of acknowledgement or mention to what the WoW crew did (from gameplay, to packaging, to model design, etc) is completely blind at best and dishonest at worst. It's like if Screeching Weasel were like "What? The Ramones? No idea about that. We're just playing 50s tunes at a faster clip..." But whatever enables you to feel good about your hordes of Made in China plastic...carry on.

Nice try, I don't even like X-Wing. While WoW has popularized the system, really, X-Wing is much-much closer to Wreckage when you think about it, in that they cards & templates. And also of course the damage deck. It could be reasoned that when they say it's similar to WoW, it's because that's the way people understand easily. No one knows about Wreckage. But that doesn't mean that it didn't exist. The same when WoW take some aspects from Wreckage, nothing mentioned.

And I don't see Ares game giving Doom or Descent any credits either when they're doing Galaxy Defenders...
Posted: 25 May 2016 01:01 by dave #228108
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Based on hours of play, the easy two winners for me are A Game of Thrones CCG and Vortex. Diskwars (and Range Wars) would of been up there had I had an opponent.
Posted: 25 May 2016 05:34 by Hex Sinister #228113
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Car Wars likely inspired Wreckage. What is the origin of the movement template? Historical naval miniatures?
Posted: 25 May 2016 06:04 by louisphilip91 #228115
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This is one of the most wonderful post and thanks
Posted: 25 May 2016 10:33 by waddball #228137
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I'm hoping that FFG becoming a "Design House" bodes well, but it could break the other way. Since they do the whole cycle, they have to hit their deadlines and ship it, regardless of whether the game is done. So we consistently see 80% of a great game--a lot to admire, don't get me wrong--but rarely one honed to perfection. Maybe they can hone more if production is elsewhere. Or maybe the deadlines get tighter.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting article. I've drifted away from FFG, in large part because of the things that dominate this list. I've zero interest in anything Warhammer/40K, X-Wing seems like a money pit (and I wish they would've acknowledged Wings of War; just a personal quirk I guess), and I'm surprised by the absence of A Game of Thrones (board game) and maybe Arkham.

Looking forward to the second list.
Posted: 25 May 2016 10:59 by Mr. White #228143
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Sevej wrote:
And I don't see Ares game giving Doom or Descent any credits either when they're doing Galaxy Defenders...

I haven't played Galaxy Defenders so I don't know what it cribs, but here's the difference. I'd wager if you asked Ares, they may say, 'Yeah, we really enjoyed [Game Here] and considered our favorite bits during the design process of Galaxy Defenders" or some such. Interviews with designers do this all the time. They may not list Doom in the game credits, and they don't need to, but if Doom was an inspiration I'd bet my bottom dollar they'd say so if asked.

X-Wing was handled totally differently. There was no "We really like where Andrea took dogfighting games and during our time publishing Wings of War we learned a lot about how to package a prepainted minis game of this nature. Having the honor of being the distributor of WoW for the past several years put is in a great position to leverage that experience when the Star Wars license fell into our lap."

Instead it was handled like so, "deny, deny, wreckage, deny, deny, other dogfighing games, deny, deny, list of differences", which is a bit poor form, IMO, but not a legal issue.
Posted: 25 May 2016 11:19 by Egg Shen #228145
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el_skootro wrote:
With all due respect, Mr. Shen:

I read Chaos in the Old World as #3 and then TI3 as #2 and I got super excited for #1! And then .... hmmmm.

I'm starting to doubt your decision making skills.

Sincerely yours,
Skooter

Don't leave me hanging Skooter...what should the number one game have been!


Also I wanted to discuss a few more games that didn't make the list a bit more.

Rune Age - This game keeps getting better overtime. It's a very focused deckbuilder and I really like what it does. The factions all play differently and each scenario feels drastically different. Though I'm convinced I will never be able to beat that Cataclysm scenario solo. So fucking hard. I'm also sort of glad that this game didn't get an endless parade of expansion material. With the base game and the one small box expansion it feels complete. There is plenty of game there and won't get stale for a while. While FFG is known for their big box stuff, many of their small square box games are terrific!

Runebound 2nd Edition - I hold this game in particularly high regard, but I couldn't in good faith put it on this list. It's a fucking mess of a game. When I play it use a combination of expansion rule variants, Mr. Skeletor's rules and others. It's an absolute blast when I playing it though. I really enjoy those character decks which let you specialize your hero. They add a bunch of fun and fuckery to the game. It's an excellent game for fantasy adventure junkies, and I'll never get rid of my copy. However, at this point Runebound 3rd Edition base game is WAY better than the base game of 2nd Edition. It's really good. It's not fair to properly compare them because 2nd Edition has so much expansion content that elevates it. However, if FFG properly supports the 3rd Edition it is going to be one of the best games in the genre. No bullshit Jack.

As for stuff like Arkham, Warrior Knights, and others...those MIGHT show up on the next list. Who knows? My approach was that if it was an outside property that FFG acquired and reworked/remade it didn't go on this first list. If it was one of their own IPs that got a new edition or morphed into something different it was fair game for this list.
Posted: 25 May 2016 11:48 by Ska_baron #228146
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Just wanted to take the time real quick to say, Egg, that this is a great article and reminds me of old school FAT content.

Coming out with a targeted list with parameters is a great conversation starter for us to discuss the finer points of an unarguably influential library of games.

Any other big titles you should comment on (why they made it/didnt for you)?
Posted: 25 May 2016 11:51 by stoic #228147
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Yes, great article. Thanks.
Posted: 25 May 2016 12:12 by Jackwraith #228149
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Egg Shen wrote:
Rune Age - This game keeps getting better overtime.

Good point. Forgot about this one because it's been so long since I played it but I really enjoy it, as well. It was the first really player-interactive deckbuilder I found (after the group solitaire experiences of Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, et al.) The fact that it takes place in the same world as so many of my other favorites (Battlelore, 2nd Ed.(!)) is just the crowner.

Egg Shen wrote:
Runebound 2nd Edition However, if FFG properly supports the 3rd Edition it is going to be one of the best games in the genre. No bullshit Jack.

Hm. I was OK with Descent 2nd Ed. because you could see the obvious flaws in 1st Ed.: Games could take a long time with little real progress. It was easy to spend an hour in just the starting area or even lose in the first room if the Overlord drew the right cards or the heroes made one mistake. So, even though I had everything for 1st Ed., 2nd Ed, was enough of a different game that I feel fine owning both. But I have everything for Runebound, as well, and despite being able to see the flaws in it just like Descent (We play with the Marketplace rules from BGG and Trenloe will never see the light of day, etc.), I still have SO much stuff for it and, since it doesn't turn into the set piece slugfests that Descent 1st Ed. would often become, I still feel like I don't really need 3rd Ed. The big expansions and some of the small ones create so much variety in the play experience that it's like I have my Runebound experience fulfilled. Descent 2nd Ed. was a very different experience from 1st. Can the new Runebound be that much different from the old? I guess it's possible. But I remain to be convinced.
Posted: 25 May 2016 13:13 by Shellhead #228153
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waddball wrote:
Anyway, thanks for the interesting article. I've drifted away from FFG, in large part because of the things that dominate this list. I've zero interest in anything Warhammer/40K, X-Wing seems like a money pit (and I wish they would've acknowledged Wings of War; just a personal quirk I guess), and I'm surprised by the absence of A Game of Thrones (board game) and maybe Arkham.

I'm with you there. I'm not interested in the licenses that FFG has been milking hard lately, though I am open to picking up a game or two with strong reviews, like maybe Rebellion. Maybe Arkham Horror isn't on this list because it is a new edition of the old game published by Chaosium in the late '80s, or maybe because people who have tried both Eldritch and Arkham tend to have a strong preference for one over the other. As for A Game of Thrones, I think it's worth a separate thread to talk about why nobody plays it anymore even though the show is a big deal now.
Posted: 27 May 2016 09:53 by waddball #228273
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Shellhead wrote:
I am open to picking up a game or two with strong reviews, like maybe Rebellion. Maybe Arkham Horror isn't on this list because it is a new edition of the old game published by Chaosium in the late '80s, or maybe because people who have tried both Eldritch and Arkham tend to have a strong preference for one over the other. As for A Game of Thrones, I think it's worth a separate thread to talk about why nobody plays it anymore even though the show is a big deal now.
I picked up Rebellion about a week ago and have gotten in a couple full plays (and several half-plays; it's long). Bit more gamer's game (as opposed to thematic but fundamentally light game, such as Queen's Gamit) than my daughters were inclined to like, so it's a limited audience for me. But seems really good at what it is.

Yes, agreed about Game of Thrones, weird that it's been so forgotten. But it is another example of what I referred to earlier, where every iteration isn't perfectly developed, so the design lurches around, fixing one thing while breaking another.
Posted: 27 May 2016 11:20 by SuperflyTNT #228278
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I'll tell you, Mike, what this list tells me (and what the missing games from the list tells me) is that FFG doesn't fuck around. They are easily the most reliable publisher when it comes to value vs quality.
Posted: 31 May 2016 09:50 by Shellhead #228392
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I hope that there will be a Part Three of sorts: top ten Asmodee Games.

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