Barnes on Games- Star Trek: Ascendancy in Review; Warmachine Battle Box in Review

Barnes on Games- Star Trek: Ascendancy in Review; Warmachine Battle Box in Review Hot

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Michael BarnesMichael Barnes   October 03, 2016  
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Star Trek: Ascendancy

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you GOTY 2016.

This is it folks. The Star Trek: Ascendancy review. And it's a triple header with myself, Charlie Theel and Dan Thurot. No bones about it GF9 has hit a grand slam with this one it is the best game they have released to date and it will be, barring something just completely extraordinary, my pick for Game of the Year. It's a masterpiece of setting and both new school and old school design sensibilities. There's no doubt that the game puts up two very difficult barriers to entry- the three player restriction (soon to be lifted thanks to the Ferengi) and the hour-per-player minimum. But if you can surmount those, you are in for a hell of a game. And if you are a Trek fan...this is the game you have been waiting for after all of the sloppy deckbuilders, TCGs, Mage Knight variants, that god awful Five Year Mission and so forth. It now makes the old Star Trek Adventure Game the second best Trek game ever made, and EON's Enterprise Encounter the third best.

In other licensed game news, I got Harry Potter in today and being a huge fan I was pretty giddy opening it up. USAopoly is usually known for novelty Monopoly games, but it looks like they actually put some effort into this one. It's really interesting how it is presented, with seven games already pre-sorted and with escalating complexity/difficulty. It's kind of a legacy-like thing where the contents are in these boxes, too. The illustrations, photos, everything looks top notch. Really looking forward to it- it is a pity that it looks like a pretty stock deckbuilder, but if it's fun, accessible and has a least a touch of the Wizardling World in it then it could be a winner. I love that they made Neville Longbottom the Fatty Bolger of this game. Playing this thing tonight.

There's another review up at MM from me, the Warmachine two player starter box. It's great, I really enjoyed getting to check out the new version and it's a good starter with plenty to keep you interested and with good units that you will be using in a lot of lists. The models sort of pissed me off because I don't like that awful "restic" stuff and some of them were quite difficult to put together. But in all, it's a great way to try Warmachine if you've never played it.  I'm resisting getting into it further...I don't think I could ever rebuild my glorious Khador army that got stolen.

Infinity is quite good, I've played a couple of games with the Operation: Red Veil starter. I especially like how it has this kind of always-on overwatch mechanic so that the firefights feel like a real back-and-forth exchange of shots. The dice system is good, I like how it's D20 based with a couple of modifiers and if you're making  contested roll, it goes to whoever rolls the highest AND ALSO doesn't bust their target number. But if you hit your target number, it's a critical. I also really like the look of the models- it's very Masamune Shirow, and I love the Haqq'Islam faction. Space Muslims. The starter set is quite nice it comes with these cute papercraft buildings and a terrain map so the whole terrain issue is sorted right there. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to go further than reviewing it because I've just got too many miniatures things going on right now. I still prefer Deadzone to it, I think it's a little looser and I like that it's a little smaller in footprint. But it is a good small squad skirmish game, no doubt.

Blood Bowl: Team Manager had a good three player outing this week, using Foul Play. Love the new teams, the stadiums just kind of add more stuff and restrictions but are good, the corrupt ref is fun. With both expansions, this game is just stuffed with content and lots of options. Too bad it is GONE FOREVER.

Still trying to get my OMG ALL OF TALISMAN game set up. Cataclysm showed up yesterday, which makes me wonder if OMGAOT should use IT instead of the main board or if Catacalysm should be played separately. So much Talisman.

My son and I played our first game of X-Wing, which was lots of fun. Just did a basic Luke vs. Vader thing, each with a couple of wingmen. No upgrades, limited order tokens. He picked up on it pretty well, mainly because some of it was familiar from Tanks.

He also started picking up Pokémon cards with chore money, so I got us a Trainer Kit set. I've never actually played the card game outside of the old Gameboy version. I'm going into this one completely blind, I am not doing what I usually do and learning everything about it and then getting everything there is to possibly get for it. I just want to kind of discover it with him. He's not quite reading, so I'm not sure how it'll go. Scarlett has zero interest in playing it, hopefully that will change because she does love the show and the stuffies.

Posted: 04 Oct 2016 17:52 by Mad Dog #235496
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Linked direct to the preorder page. You sly bastard. :p
Posted: 04 Oct 2016 17:55 by Brewmiester #235497
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I've played four games of Mk. III at one of our FLGSs doing the current narrative campaign with a 25 pt. Khador rumble army. Playing Butcher1 with a jack heavy list which seems to be the current thing in Mk. III. Nice thing about rumble is they play out quick, my last one Sunday night against Circle only took about an hour and a half. I never played Mk. I and just a few games of Mk. II so I don't know what all the changes are but so far I'm liking Mk. III.
Posted: 04 Oct 2016 18:54 by Michael Barnes #235499
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HA! I didn't mean to do that, I meant to link to the review itself. Well, the preorder is sold out anyway so I guess I won't get my Miniature Market Cadillac bonus.

You know, I played a lot of MkI but I couldn't tell you what the differences are other than apparently there are now "colossal" units and a couple of new factions that I think aren't really as fleshed out as the main four. It played pretty much the same as I remember from ten years ago and most of the units were just as I remembered as well. It's a really fun game, I like a lot of aspects of the system. I always liked it kind of better with low point battles, but for a while I was dead set on running a no jack list, the theme being "a bunch of Russians". I was trying to do this Russian folklore theme with Baba Yaga and all of that. All of my Khador stuff was painted Soviet green with red accents, gold emblems and stuff. Looked cool as hell. I was half tempted to go in on MkIII, but I just can't take on another miniatures thing right now.

And I have to be honest...after building, painting and playing the newer GW games...there really is no comparison. I just put Gorechosen together, and it was SUCH a more pleasant experience than putting together Warmachine. And then with Deadzone, part of the appeal there is that the play areas are small and the terrain is sort of built into the concept so I don't have to invest in a table, a bunch of trees, etc.

It did make me want to get back to Undercity though, I think that game was unfairly ignored.
Posted: 04 Oct 2016 20:12 by wadenels #235504
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You can use the Cataclysm board instead of the base game board with any mix of expansions; you can even steal the Denizens and use them on the core board. Just pick whatever appeals to you at the time.

Is there any viable way to play Ascendancy with two players? Is it worth just playing it straight with two players and missing out on the 3+ player dynamic?
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 04:09 by MattDP #235511
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In other licensed game news, I got Harry Potter in today and being a huge fan I was pretty giddy opening it up

I really want to play this, but it's US only. I find it both extraordinary and extraordinarily annoying that regional licensing is still a thing in 2016. :(

If anyone would consider finding out the postage costs for mailing a copy of the UK as a prelude to me providing funds for you to buy and send me a copy that would be appreciated.
Just did a basic Luke vs. Vader thing, each with a couple of wingmen. No upgrades, limited order tokens.

I have come to the conclusion that variations on this theme are totally the best way to play X-Wing, and Armada. No farting about trying to set up gamey combos. Just pilots with the odd thematic upgrade (Poe Dameron + BB8) getting in there to win the day with dice and maneuvers and good positioning.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 07:42 by Varys #235513
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You had me at Pet Shop Boys.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 08:10 by Egg Shen #235515
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Michael Barnes wrote:

It did make me want to get back to Undercity though, I think that game was unfairly ignored.

I think Privateer Press actually secretly shit out an expansion for that game recently. It's also apparently compatible with their kickstarted game "Widower's Woods". So it seems the system got a bunch of more content out/coming out for it.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 08:25 by Josh Look #235516
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I'm Josh Look and I approve this review of ST:A.

I was one of those rare people who ended up not letting the card combat in Rebellion bother me. The game doesn't work without it by house ruling them out (I tried several different options), and the amount of great stuff the game offered by far outweighed this one thing that really doesn't take up that much time. I love that game, and never did I think anything else coming out this year could top it.

And yet, here it is. Not only is this GOTY 2016 for me, but this is what finally becomes the game I schedule for instead of TI3. When Eclipse came along, I saw that it wasn't in the same niche as TI3 was. They're both 4Xs, sure, but Eclipse was an economic game a heart, a really good one, but that's not what I was looking for. TI3 is a bonafide space opera in a box. Space 4Xs were a dime a dozen for awhile, but no game came close to that immersive experience TI3 offered. Until now. It's cleaner, it's smoother, and ultimately more fun, but it has just as much character, theme, and dedication to its setting that TI3 has.

Yeah, it's 3 player only FOR NOW. I know there's plenty of people who will say they'd never play it with more than 3, but I would. The downtime, IMO, is being blown out of proportion. Xia, TI3, the later turns in Eclipse all have just about as much downtime or the potential for it. It also greatly decreased the more you play and become comfortable with what you're doing.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 08:46 by Delobius #235519
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I tried Warmachine for a while and hated it. The models were shit - not only were they hard to put together, they had horrific mold lines, and were low-detail to boot. The game mechanics were sound enough; I can see why people like the game, but I'm not those people. It felt like a math problem combined with a tabletop MOBA. Also, since the importance of terrain is so minimal, there's hardly any maneuvering in the game - it's all about lining up and sequencing your actions in a certain way.

Going back to 40K was like getting back with that crazy ex-girlfriend: you know it's bad for you, but it's so familiar and some things are so good...
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 09:08 by Msample #235525
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Josh Look wrote:
I'm Josh Look and I approve this review of ST:A.

I was one of those rare people who ended up not letting the card combat in Rebellion bother me. The game doesn't work without it by house ruling them out (I tried several different options), and the amount of great stuff the game offered by far outweighed this one thing that really doesn't take up that much time. I love that game, and never did I think anything else coming out this year could top it.

And yet, here it is. Not only is this GOTY 2016 for me,.

Hmm, after ST:A is out for a while, I smell a TRASHDOME between that and Star Wars Rebellion....
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 09:13 by Josh Look #235528
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Msample wrote:
Josh Look wrote:
I'm Josh Look and I approve this review of ST:A.

I was one of those rare people who ended up not letting the card combat in Rebellion bother me. The game doesn't work without it by house ruling them out (I tried several different options), and the amount of great stuff the game offered by far outweighed this one thing that really doesn't take up that much time. I love that game, and never did I think anything else coming out this year could top it.

And yet, here it is. Not only is this GOTY 2016 for me,.

Hmm, after ST:A is out for a while, I smell a TRASHDOME between that and Star Wars Rebellion....

They're not at all comparable, aside from the year they came out in.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 09:29 by JEM #235530
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Blood Bowl Team Manager and Sudden Death are back in stock at CSI.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 10:13 by Msample #235538
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Josh Look wrote:
Hmm, after ST:A is out for a while, I smell a TRASHDOME between that and Star Wars Rebellion....

They're not at all comparable, aside from the year they came out in.[/quote]

Showdown between two games of some of the biggest IP licenses out there . Yeah one is 2P vs multi.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 11:15 by Josh Look #235544
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Msample wrote:
Josh Look wrote:
Hmm, after ST:A is out for a while, I smell a TRASHDOME between that and Star Wars Rebellion....

They're not at all comparable, aside from the year they came out in.

Showdown between two games of some of the biggest IP licenses out there . Yeah one is 2P vs multi.[/quote]

There is that. But we also have that Reader's GOTY thing, too, and that's really what this is going to come down to.

Sorry for coming across as abrasive, it's just that I've often tried to snap people out of an illogical way of looking at games I see far too often (that being along the lines of, "Well, these two games play nothing alike, but they both take place in space, so I'm going to dismiss one of them"). That line of thinking is for...well, stupid people.

Now Rebellion vs Fury of Dracula or ST:A vs TI3...now there's some match ups.
Posted: 05 Oct 2016 19:37 by Brewmiester #235587
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Colossals came out during Mk. II.

They are trying to encourage players to use more terrain in the new edition.

I've built up my Khadorians over the years as our local shops have had sales on older stuff in stock. But they really are a pain in the ass to assemble and they aren't as good as GW.

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