Barnes on Games: Portal of Morth in Review, SATOR, GWpocalypse stuff

Barnes on Games: Portal of Morth in Review, SATOR, GWpocalypse stuff Hot

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Michael BarnesMichael Barnes   September 22, 2016  
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Morth's the pity?

So this week (last week, actually) the feature review is for Portal of Morth, an oddball Spanish game that seeks to do a hero-based tower defense game on your tabletop. It mostly works pretty well, and it has quite a bit more game than something like Castle Panic. Despite the murky artwork (something that is oddly common with import-only titles it seems) t's a really neat production- lots of Dicemasters-style dice for the monsters and a veggie tray that you roll the dice into to distribute them among players. The mechanics aren't quite like anything else out there, kudos to the designers for not just doing a worker placement or deckbuilding thing and calling it a day.  It also features a nasty competitive mode with brutal take-that cards, a fully co-op version and a solo game so there's a lot of versatility built in. The problem with it all is that it feels like one of those wackadoo games that never makes it to the US because it doesn't quite get above its own novelty. I played it several times and enjoyed it, my friends liked it, but it also felt like after the review process that I wouldn't likely pick it up to play again. Outside of showing it to a curious friend or something. So it's a three star review that you can read right here.

Star Trek: Ascendancy will be next week. Charlie, Dan Thurot and I took the three player spirit of the game and did a triple header on it. It almost got a perfect score between us except for ONE Klingon sympathizer, who will remain nameless. I usually play coy about my GOTY pick, but I'm not going to this year. This is it, y'all. Even with the three player cap, the downtime and the length. It is Gale Force 9's best game to date, and it is the best Star Trek game ever made. I can't wait until Al and Josh get to sound off about it here.

Got some other things kicking around for review right now, I have the new edition of Medici which is, no surprise, destined for a five star review. It's classic Knizia and it is still one of the best auction games. Legomancer commented the other day in the forums here "remember when games just set out to do one thing really well?" Well, this is one of them, like a lot of great Knizia games. I am SO FREAKING HAPPY to be quit of the old RGG edition, which remains one of the ugliest games I have ever seen. The new edition is very nice-looking, and in some ways I prefer it to the recent FFG reprints. For one thing, it's only like $25 unlike the $70 Ra. And it looks more timeless and less bound to the FFG art style.

Sator Arepo Tenet Rotas (hey, a palindrome!) is another game like Portal of Morth. It's good! But is it something to play a lot of? I dunno. It's a cool concept- monks shift these magical walkways around to try to collect forbidden books- and the gameplay is very thinky and fun. Not to mention DIRTY. The first game I played, I was thinking "this is boring" until one of the guys I was playing with had a lightbulb moment and started using his cards to screw with the other players. Then I got it, and the game took on a new life. When we added the Malleus Maleficarium part, which adds an almost Wiz-War like mutually controlled adversary, it got even nastier. Which also makes it a little odd, because it's a borderline abstract and it requires some heavy thought but there's no use in any kind of planning. Because the board will be totally different and you will be somewhere else by the time it comes back around, especially in a three or four player outing. I like it, but I'm already sort of done with it. File in the "glad I got to check it out, don't want it though" bin.

Of course I've been hitting the GWpocalypse stuff pretty hard lately with it top-of-mind for everyone. WHQACG is coming out often, and I like the new POD characters a lot. $80 a lot? I dunno about that. But they are good, and it's a damn shame there won't be more. Still really love this game, especially solo or with two players. Not a first choice for three or four though, I don't think.

Had a friend over for Forbidden Stars, the game I miraculously bought at a FLGS for $30 less than retail the day of the GWpocalypse. He just adores the game, I gave it three stars back when I reviewed. I'm still just really iffy on it. There is a lot I love about it, but then that combat...yeesh. It just junked up silly for no good reason. And then FFG did the same thing in Rebellion. Anyway, the game was pretty fun, but I sort of struggled with digging back into it, especially the wonk-ass movement, so I was pretty soundly beaten. I really want to play it more, there is a lot to like there if you can come to terms with the things it does wrong.

I've gotten back into Space Hulk: Death Angel for what is now the third time. I've been sort of hot and cold on it, historically, and I kind of still feel that way about it. It's a good game that really has no business being a multiplayer design at all. I like the depth of working through situations by combining each team's card effects. I like that it gives you those heartstopping, do-or-die die rolls. And it does feel like Terminators lumbering around in cramped spaces fighting more nimble and numerous adversaries. If FFG were smart, they'd make a do-over of this with an Aliens license.

Trying to line up a MEGA TALISMAN game this weekend with EVERYTHING. Probably won't happen because it was sort of scoffed at and I still don't have Deep Realm or Cataclysm. Maybe next weekend.

On the painting scene, I've already cratered the value of my 3rd edition Fury of Dracula by painting those up and now I'm doing DungeonQuest. I'm getting the Infinity: Red Veil starter tomorrow so I'm looking forward to painting that Islamic army in particular.

 

Posted: 23 Sep 2016 08:51 by Mr. White #234850
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Tell me more about Medici. $25 knizia classic sounds like something I could be interested in. Anymore, if I'm not playing a minis game with the boyz I like a solid old-school euro with family and casuals. Ain't no shame in my game...
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 08:56 by Michael Barnes #234852
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How about you just pay shipping and I send you this "classic" copy- exact same game, ugly art.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 09:00 by san il defanso #234853
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Death Angel is totally a solo-only game for me. I've never enjoyed playing it with others, but it still works really well solo. The decision tree is just big enough for me to feel like I'm doing something, but not so big that I get bogged down. That said, I don't play it all that much.

Now WHQ is my kind of drug. I am really impressed by that game, both solo and with other people. I think I actually prefer it with 3 or 4, just because the game can be surprisingly brutal with just two players. Only have two explore actions available at a time, and two people to engage with monsters makes the game pretty tough. Winnable, but tough. If FFG decides to reskin the game in some other universe, I'd miss the license, but I'd still be all over that.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 09:12 by Mr. White #234858
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Michael Barnes wrote:
How about you just pay shipping and I send you this "classic" copy- exact same game, ugly art.

Not sure yet. The game warrants further investigation...

Nate, Barnes, I'm an odd duck who also enjoys SH:DA with others. If your hulks aren't gonna be played too frequently how about shaving those Tyranids out so a brother can cleanse the xeno with friends and family?
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 09:18 by SuperflyTNT #234859
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How does Ascendancy trump Fleet Captains?
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 09:25 by san il defanso #234861
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Mr. White wrote:
Nate, Barnes, I'm an odd duck who also enjoys SH:DA with others. If your hulks aren't gonna be played too frequently how about shaving those Tyranids out so a brother can cleanse the xeno with friends and family?

Well, I do actually play. As I've realized I'm not much of a solo gamer, I've also realized that Death Angel and WHQ card game are basically the only solo games I still play at all. Besides my copy is, shall we say, well loved. It doesn't even have a box anymore.

I haven't tried it with any of my friends in DFW, I should do that.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 09:28 by stoic #234862
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On the painting scene, I've already cratered the value of my 3rd edition Fury of Dracula by painting those up and now I'm doing DungeonQuest.

The FoD miniatures look hard to paint because the features aren't sharp and well defined. Please post your progress because I want to paint mine too.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 10:07 by Michael Barnes #234870
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Yeah, they are really, really shitty figures. When you paint miniatures, you REALLY see how shoddy board game minis are...muddy detail, detail that doesn't appear to represent anything, super fat limbs, very little definition between surfaces...you kind of have to cheat them and aim for a "arm's length" quality at best, trying to do a good highlight or pick out a focal point to distract from the crappier areas. The DungeonQuest figures were also awful (especially Hugo, my god), I just finished Lindel so those are done. I'll try to do pictures today.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 10:10 by Mr. White #234873
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I painted a 2nd ed FoD about a decade ago and I believe they are the same minis.

Here's what I turned out...







Posted: 23 Sep 2016 10:11 by barrowdown #234874
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Mr. White wrote:
I painted a 2nd ed FoD about a decade ago and I believe they are the same minis.

Here's what I turned out...

Did you use ink? The recess shading looks sharper than a wash to me.

And those look great!
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 10:16 by Mr. White #234876
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It's been a long time, but what I think I did was:

1) prime white
2) wash with black
3) paint but leaving space up to each detail so the black would act as a clear separator...if that makes any sense

You can see there's no highlighting on the colors. It seemed to me that too much shading and highlighting would muddle these figs. The minis and detail are small so I figured only black between colors/details would allow the figure to pop more at a distance. Less is more I suppose.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 10:37 by Mr. White #234878
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Keep in mind, if I were to ever own this game again, I would not paint the minis. I documented my idea to replace them a few years back (7!!).

fortressat.com/forum/34-pimp-my-game/457...acula?start=30#49310
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 13:55 by stoic #234886
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Mr. White wrote:
It's been a long time, but what I think I did was:

1) prime white
2) wash with black
3) paint but leaving space up to each detail so the black would act as a clear separator...if that makes any sense

You can see there's no highlighting on the colors. It seemed to me that too much shading and highlighting would muddle these figs. The minis and detail are small so I figured only black between colors/details would allow the figure to pop more at a distance. Less is more I suppose.

Awesome! Thanks!
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 14:30 by Mr. White #234890
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here's what I did for the base.

1) paint black
2) try brush/thin layer of a light almost yellow brown on most of the base...allow a little black to poke though...only a little though.
3) light wash/watered down dark brown

Keep in mind that that was designed to match the browns of the 2nd ed board. I guess something similar could be done for the 3rd board. I found the wash over a dry bush gave the base a neat marble like effect.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 15:07 by wadenels #234894
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Hey, we're doing Talisman again in October! We play everything except the the Dragon. I'm currently working out how I'm going to tackle my themed adventure decks idea for my own copy now that it's all here.

Interested to hear more about Infinity Red Veil. Infinity really looks like a miniatures game I could get into.
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 16:41 by Michael Barnes #234900
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Dang Jeff...those look better than mine. Maybe I won't show mine after all! What's weird is my Lord Goldaming doesn't have a monocle...I was like "WTF is that on his face"...it's not on my figure. And it's not on the picture on the card either. So it is...THE CASE OF THE MISSING MONOCLE.

The Dragon...ha ha...that is the red-headed stepchild of Talisman, isn't it. I guess it is the Timescape of the 4th edition, except that Timescape was fun. I've never even played a full game with The Dragon...we set it up, played a while and I was like "really?" Really looking forward to Harbinger and Cataclysm.

Infinity looks good, the new starter is quite nice. The figures are really well done (if I were going to start an army, it'd be the Islamic dudes) and they have a cool Masamune Shirow-like quality to the designs. It comes with a starter rulebook rather than the full rules, which I think is the right decision even if it means you have to buy a full rulebook later. It's five "tutorial" missions that scale up to use everything in the box. Very nice approach, well-written, and I especially like that it has a "next steps" sort of section that guides you further into the system if you want to go there with suggestions as to what to buy next. GW could really use some guidance like this in their starter sets. It comes with a mat and some cute cardboard buildings, very colorful and sort of anime-styled.

Really looking forward to checking it out...like I need another miniatures game right now...but I think I'm not going further with Warmachine, so maybe...
Posted: 23 Sep 2016 22:40 by wadenels #234911
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The Dragon is good for smaller games, but it isn't great for an everything game.

I didn't get into Warmahordes because it looks so tight and competitive. One of the things I like about the GW fluff is that there are armies that can be played for the storyline and the fun of it. I'm wondering where on the spectrum Infinity falls. I'm interested in fun more than competitive.
Posted: 24 Sep 2016 14:33 by Josh Look #234923
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Should be able to say something about Star Trek next Saturday. Looks like Michael Fralish (FlimFlam, aka The Original Assclown, destroyer of math trades) is getting his early and is up for making the trip to CT.

SO EXCITED.
Posted: 24 Sep 2016 21:36 by Mr. White #234932
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wadenels wrote:
I didn't get into Warmahordes because it looks so tight and competitive. One of the things I like about the GW fluff is that there are armies that can be played for the storyline and the fun of it. I'm wondering where on the spectrum Infinity falls. I'm interested in fun more than competitive.

Yeah, I've tried to get into warmahordes twice (Cryx and Oboros), both times were not fulfilling at all. It definitely falls on the more competitive side of the spectrum as you buy units based on the synergy of the units rather than any sort of fluff. It also doesn't help that you don't really get to name or create any characters or units...they all come pre-named with their backstories. Well, about 8 years ago when I last tried it was still that way. It wasn't like WFB/40K where you create your own heroes and characters by naming and equipping them. It felt like working creatively from within a straight jacket. Whether the 'game' is tighter or not...I couldn't care...painting and modelling was so much less fun in PP's universe.
Posted: 24 Sep 2016 22:27 by wadenels #234935
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See I don't care about the painting and modelling all that much. If characters have their own backstories that's OK too. I just want to make squads/armies that are fun because they're part of the fluff that I enjoy, even if the bottom line is that the army I created is in no way optimal.

That's one of the major reasons I like games like Armor Grid Mech Attack. It's a clean ruleset and all the units are nameless. It doesn't even have any background fluff. But I can put together things that are fun to try because it's a game that generates stories through gameplay. Mech pilots and infantry that survive a battle get names and reputation that means nothing but adds to the story we're creating on the table. Warmahordes wasn't fun to play like that, because I'd get slaughtered and told what I did wrong; fun seemed to be an occasional symptom of the game rather than the focus.

I like the WFB/40k fluff because it's so expansive that I can find something fun that appeals to me and play within that small theme, so it offers a lot of the things I like about Armor Grid with even more support for doing something interesting, even if it isn't optimal.

So if Infinity characters already have backgrounds and stories, that's fine. But can I play squads that have an interesting background (provided by fluff or made up on the spot) and are sometimes silly and have them be even close to viable? In my limited Warhammer experience the answer is "yes". In my many Armor Grid plays the answer is "yes". In my handful of Warmahordes games the answer is a resounding "no". That's what gets me. Over-optimization, net lists, optimal squads, and intricate interactions don't really appeal to me. I know there are people that tell me I can do the things I'm asking with Warmahordes, but my experience says that I'll get thoroughly trounced and and treated like a rube rather than someone who showed up with fun being the higher goal than winning.

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