Articles Gaming Scene Next of Ken, Volume 19: A Very Special Fantasy Flight Edition--Rex, Wiz-War, Star Wars, Descent 2nd Edition, and More!
 

Next of Ken, Volume 19: A Very Special Fantasy Flight Edition--Rex, Wiz-War, Star Wars, Descent 2nd Edition, and More! Next of Ken, Volume 19:  A Very Special Fantasy Flight Edition--Rex, Wiz-War, Star Wars, Descent 2nd Edition, and More! Hot

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The big talk this week has all centered around Gencon--namely, the bevy of FFG announcements made during the course of the convention.  Gamers from Perth, Australia to sunny LA have been weighing in their opinions in the form of lavish praise or scalding rants, just depending on who you ask.  So, seeing as Fantasy Flight is a company that is near and dear to the hearts of most of our readership, this week in Next of Ken, we'll be talking about all the latest FFG announcements and releases.

 

Descent_2nd_EditionDescent 2nd Edition: This is the one that is creating the more polarizing responses.  Basically, 1st edition Descent is receiving an overhaul and being released in a simplified form as Descent: 2nd Edition.  Less stuff, simpler rules, and a campaign system included right in the box.

There has been considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth as some Descent fans are outraged by the news.  They feel their old product is being obsoleted (even though FFG is releasing an upgrade kit that will let them use all of their old stuff with the new system.)

Fact is, games come and go.  Descent was released originally in 2005, when plastic was plentiful, labor was cheap, and a coffin box that full of goodies could retail for only $79.95.  I don't think that they could have released 1st edition without the price hitting at *least* $100.

Also, let's face some real facts here...there is a metric ton of 1st edition stuff out there; five expansions and a camapign book.  Two of those expansions provide campaigns that take ~80 hours to play through a single one.  It is highly, highly unlikely that there are that many people that have fully explored everything that first edition has to offer.  Your stuff isn't obsolete; that's sort of ridiculous.  Your Descent will still function, just as it is, for as long as you own it.  I understand the desire to get new stuff for your favorite game, but I know there are a lot of people who have shrinkwrapped expansions on their shelves and are still bitching they can't get more.  That's sort of become systemic of the boardgame collecting hobby, it seems.

Plus, you've got a lot of flailing of arms and the rulebook hasn't even been released yet!  You've got folks going off in a spiral of maybes and what-ifs and literally working themselves into a frothing mess.

You just have to keep it in perspective.  Descent 1st edition is done.  It's over.  They had a great run.  If you hate second edition, guess what?  You're all done collecting Descent.  Isn't that freaking awesome?  If you're still compelled to collect through griping and clenched teeth, well...that's sort of on you, not them, isn't it?

Fantasy Flight in the end is keeping the Descent line in print albeit in a new form, with reportedly faster-paced gameplay and a cool streamlined quest system.  They're creating a kit to let you use all your old stuff with the new.  Enterprising gamers will no doubt cook up fan-created supplements that will let you use the new stuff with the old.  More plastic, more tiles, more quests, and what appears to be a nice campaign mode.  Me?  I say bring it on.  I've got first edition and one of the expansions.  If I like the new version?  I'm all over it.  If not?  I still play my old one.  It's literally that simple.


Star Wars: The news about Fantasy Flight and the Star Wars license came to light just before Gencon, but they had demos

FF-plus-Star-Wars-300x102 for X-Wing and Star Wars LCG, proving that both were pretty far along long before gamers knew about the switch from Hasbro to FFG.

I know that I'm not alone in that when I heard the news about FFG and Star Wars, my mind immediately turned to the killer line-up of boardgames that could come of such a marriage.  The license has been laying dormant and rarely receives a good board game--it has been years since The Queen's Gambit and Epic Duels.  However, if you look at the fine print, FFG only has the rights to minis, RPGs, and card games.  That is kind of a bummer.  Everyone is waiting on the next great Star Wars boardgame; looks like the wait's going to continue for awhile.  Personally, the RPG stuff does jack shit for me, but the minis and card games do have promise.

Anyway, it is great that *someone* is going to do something with the Star Wars license.  What should be a license for Hasbro to print money has just been this dormant thing, with the only thing of note being the Star Wars Miniatures game that had a good run but came to an end last year.

star-wars-card-gameThe Star Wars LCG isn't one I'm super-hot on playing as it looks a LOT like Lord of the Rings LCG.  Lord of the Rings was special in that it was a cooperative LCG; the fact that Star Wars will be too just sort of makes them both less unique, less special.  The art is killer though, and I am a huge sucker for Star Wars, so I have no doubt I'm giving it a try.  It's not an inspiring choice for their first Star Wars release, though.

X-Wing I am a certainly more keen to try right away.  I never got into Wings of War really--it looked cool, but I'm not a big WWII buff at all.  The minis were off-the-charts cool looking, and I liked the sound of the card-based movement...but I just never took the plunge.

Now, they've ported the system to X-Wing, and now, I'm in.  Dogfights between TIE Fighters and X-Wings, with cool pre-painted minis, and a simultaneous flight system that has you trying to outthink your opponent?  It sounds good....damned good.  Now, I'm just waiting to see how much the base set will set you back, and how many ships you get.  A single TIE versus an X-Wing isn't a fair fight, so I'm hoping for maybe a squadron of TIEs to take on an intrepid X-Wing pilot.

With this system, they really will have a license to print money.  Think of all the named ships...the Falcon, Vader's TIE, Slave I...then you get into the obscure stuff that hardcore fans will eat up, like the Mist Hunter, the Outrider, Punishing One, Hound's Tooth....yes, please!


Rex:  Last Days of An Empire: Finally!  The Dune re-theme sees the light of day.  It had been a loooong time since

Rex_Final_Days_of_An_Empireanyone had heard a peep about this one.  Rex is a prequel to Twilight Imperium set 3,000 years in the past, using the Dune engine as multiple factions wrestle for control of the galaxy.

As someone who has never had the pleasure of playing Dune, I'm excited to see this new version come out.  I know the retheme bugs a lot of people; I get that.  But it isn't FFG's fault that the game has been rethemed; do you think that they preferred *not* to use the license of one of the biggest sci-fi franchises of all time?  (And hey, psssttt...ask the creators, they'll tell you the original game was *already* rethemed...into Dune.  Mind-blowing, eh?)

I've searched on ebay off and on and found I can't get a copy of Dune in the shape I'd care about having it in, for a reasonable price.  A game this good deserves an updated production with great bits, and it looks like that's exactly what we'll be getting.

I know that FFG would rather have the Dune license, even if they might spin it to say, "Hey! The Twilight Imperium universe is awesome!"  And besides...how difficult is it, really, to retheme this?  There's a ruling royal faction that controls the resources.  A trading federation.  An evil, power-hungry faction.  A faction with mystical powers.  A band of oppressed, scrappy rebels.  Yeah, they'll never pull that off.

I'm just giving some folks some guff there...yeah, I'd rather it be Dune, but I'll take what I can get.  If FFG could have gotten the Dune license but decided to retheme, I could understand the disappointment.  As it is, it's Rex, or nothin'.  I'll take Rex.

And plastic ships!  Lots and lots of plastic ships.  Woo-hoo!

Yeah, I'm easily swayed.  I am such a bits whore.


 

Wiz-War: Here's one that's not really generating much controversy--at long last, Tom Jolly's seminal classic Wiz-War will FINALLY be back in print!  And with great production values to boot!

I'm a big fan of the craziness that is Wiz-War.  I love the versus-style deathmatch gameplay, I love the crazy powers and situations that come up in every game, I love how the cards are sometimes so crazy broken that you have no choice but to laugh and roll with it.  It's the kind of game stories are created from; from the time you blasted another wizard completely crispy, to the time you ended up surrounded by walls, to the time some ridiculous power put the switcheroo on all your plans.

What I've always hated was the production quality.  I think mine's sixth edition, and the "cards" are thin business-card stock cards.  I have them awkwardly sleeved in larger CCG sleeves with another regular-sized card backing them.  I also replaced the little cardboard wizard tokens with appropriately colored Mage Knight figurines.

Am I upset that my old collector's item is going to plunge in value?  of course not.  I'll put it on the shelf as an heirloom or curiousity from gaming history.  And I'll gladly play the new version anytime.  I know that there's some concern that they'll muck this up the way they did with the addition of combat in Dungeonquest, but I have a feeling that after the feedback they got from that, we're going to see Wiz-War mostly unfiltered.  In fact, I hope they don't even try to balance it too much; let the craziness reign, man!

Wiz-War is a classic that has influenced so many of the games we play today (hint, hint about a future Ameritrash Hall of Fame induction), and it deserves a chance to be sampled by everyone, with production quality equal to its stature.  Seeing this coming out is great, great news.


 

fantasyflight_gameofthronesboxGame of Thrones 2nd Edition: The news for this also broke before Gencon, but it appears that instead of an as-is reprint of A Game of Thrones, we'll be seeing a second edition that incorporates some of the elements from the two expansions, along with new artwork for the board and cards, and new plastic bits (don't get too excited though plastic fans; these are shaped just like the wooden ones from before.  So if you want a Jaime Lannister mini, you still gotta go with Battles of Westeros.)

I know a lot of people were curious as to how FFG let this game be unavailable while the HBO series was so hot, and it turns out that this is why--they're cooking us up a new edition.

What do I think about this one?  Hey, this is a reprint of one of my favorite games of all time.  Like several of these other games, it deserves to be in print and available for anyone who wants it.

The fact that they're incorporating expansion elements into the base game is pure value for new owners--ports are just something you should always use, and there are a lot of cool new rules in the expansions that will liven up gameplay for sure.

I dig that you'll be able to play this without a board overlay, the only clumsy bit from using the 6-player Clash of Kings.

Am I bummed out about a new edition?  Not at all.  In fact, my only regret is not picking up a copy of A Storm of Swords while it was available, as I really want the four-player option.  Will I buy the new edition?  I may or may not need it considering I have the base game and Clash of Kings already, but if they do roll out a new expansion allowing four players, I'll gladly go for second edition.

I know this is different than Descent 2nd edition, but even if they had done some wild remake, my old version still plays just fine.  At any rate, this is good news for fans, although you do wish they'd had them in stores while the show was airing and the fever pitch was high.


 

FFG has so much coming out in fact, that I'm going to hit the rest of these as quickies, as I don't know as much about them:

 

Gears_of_War_BoxGears of War: Read the rules, looks awesome.  Gorgeous minis.  May be a replacement Doom, co-op style.  Popular license with a lot of crossover appeal--it will be interesting to see if it catches on with video gamers as well.

Elder Sign:  Dice game by Lanius and Wilson.  Roll dice to accomplish feats, fail and bad stuff happens.  Set in the Cthulhu mythos.  Both designers rarely disappoint; I do want to try before buy on this one, though, as I'm swimming in dice games right now.

Rune Age: This one's available now--deckbuilding in the Runebound universe.  I may be close to deckbuilt out in this type of format; A Few Acres of Snow has demonstrated that deckbuilding can be a part of a larger, cohesive whole.  Rune Age looks cool but also looks imitative rather than innovative.

Blood Bowl Team Manager: The Card Game: Not a deckbuilder as originally thought, just something with a little bit of drafting during gameplay.  I've read it described as similar to The World Cup Game; that has me intrigued as that is a GREAT game.  I'm not a Blood Bowler, so the game is going to have to be good, as the theme alone isn't going to carry it for me. I do love sports game though, so I'll be checking this one out.

 


So let's sum it all up--FFG has Star Wars, is reprinting Descent and Game of Thrones in new forms, and will be bringing back ReDune (Rex) and Wiz-War.  Plus a whackload of other games that are a mix of licensed properties as well as those set without their own universes.

I'll be honest, outside of a few offerings here and there over the past couple of years, I haven't been all that excited by FFG's lineup.  And I think you saw a waning in popular interest in some of their stuff.  Now?  They've gotten this entire portion of the hobby talking, buzzing, debating, and hashing out all of their announcements.  They have the ear of hardcore gamers, and I personally haven't been this excited for an FFG lineup since late 2008 (wow, has it been that long?!?)  They've always been one of my favorite game companies, and it's refreshing to see them coming out swinging.

These are almost all winners for me, and I'm looking forward to the holidays even more now.

That's going to do it for this "very special edition" of Next of Ken (now with 100% fewer creepy gym teachers!).  As always, comments and feedback are always welcome and encouraged.  'Till then, I'll see ya in seven.

 

 

Ken is a member of the Fortress: Ameritrash staff.  When he's not knee deep in playing games for review, he's most likely opening the boxes and getting high off of the plastic vapours.

Click here for more board game articles by Ken.

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Comments (18)
  • avatarKen B.

    And just an update minutes after I go to press: The X-Wing set will have 1 X-Wing and 2 TIEs and retail for $39.95. Little pricey for three minis, but apparently good pricing based on the Wings of War prices for starters.

  • avatarevilgit

    Man, I loved the old production values on Wiz-War. It really added to the Beer and Pretzels DYI theme. It was the punk rock of gaming, it didn't give a fuck.

    I generally like better components but I'm not sure this time. It looks so serious.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    I totally agree with you Daric- when I hear the phrase "beer and pretzels", I always thInk of Wiz-War...those brown cards and all..

  • avatarHex Sinister
    Quote:
    The X-Wing set will have 1 X-Wing and 2 TIEs and retail for $39.95.

    Ha ha ha. I'm glad I'm not into Star Wars.

    I figured they'd be six per set since they look so teeny. I'm looking at a photo and the TIE looks to be the size of a fingertip.

  • avatarEgg Shen

    Excellent write up...I agree I haven't been this excited in a FFG lineup in a LONG time.

    That's not to say that they haven't made some great games in the past couple of years, but hot damn...I've got my eye on just about everything in this article. FFG is positioning themselves to become the "go to" company for my gaming dollars. I like how they have a solid mix of old games, new games and new editions. FFG future is looking bright once again...

  • avatarmoofrank  - Got to play some stuff

    Made it to Launius last night, and got to play three of the new games.

    Elder Sign: This is definitely kind of an Arkham Horror lite. It is basically a bunch of oversized cards with a list of dice rolls to match things. It completely strips any flavor text, and so only really has theme for people intimate with Arkham Horror.

    Rune Age: I adore this. It LOOKS like it sticks to the standard deckbuilding schtick. But it uses three different commodities, adds an event deck, and has private troop decks for each of the 4 factions with different powers. And it kicks in a die for combat to add some uncertainty.

    The Event deck and 3 of the neutral decks are fixed for each of the 4 scenarios, so you don't get the mix and match sets of cards like other games. This of course limits the variability, but introduces a tightly focused design aspect in that each of the scenarios is crafted and driven by the event deck.

    Quest: Attack of the Orcs. Richard picked this up and we played the intro (30 minute adventure). The rules and writing are surprisingly vague in spots. The game owes a lot to The Fantasy Trip and Fighting Fantasy books.

    The 5 adventures probably are about 10-12 hours of play time. The basic mechanics are skill rolls (D10 + stat vs target) and contested rolls (D10 + stat vs D10 + stat), which help determine outcomes of choices.

    Combat is set up as my first minis game, which are where the rules seem a little vague. There isn't a lot: You move the length of a card and attack an adjacent figure, fire a ranged attack, or use a one-shot Gift card. The battlefields are built on open table using cute standees of mostly orcs and the 4 heroes. There are also some terrain tiles to scatter around.

    The first battle is very basic, but they promise more variability in later battles, along with an event deck from which the GM receives cards when players screw up.

    The end result is a very light game, but strikes me as one of the better RPG boxed sets I've seen. The adventure is pure fantasy cheese, but the paragraph structure of mixing story and combat. PRetty much every box set really skimps on story. The best bit over Tales is that stuff is tracked: Location Cards represent player knowledge of places, and there is a section of tick marks to track certain things in an adventure which may affect future outcomes.

    We did note one truly silly thing about the starter adventure. One player noted "This is very gay, isn't it?" I'm not sure what he was going for, but you won't be able to read the text with a straight face afterwards.

  • avatarGary Sax

    Runeage sounds good... Thanks for the check in.

  • avatarColumbob

    Pretty nice article and recap of everything good announced by FFG.

    A few comments:

    Quote:
    although you do wish they'd had them in stores while the show was airing and the fever pitch was high.

    Fever pitch will be just as high during season 2 next spring, if not higher (what's higher than fever?), and the game should be available then (and not waiting on a second printing hopefully for FFG).

    About the conversion kit for Descent 2, only the (substantial) plastic will be usable in the second ed, so all the cards (items, powers, monsters, threat) and cardboard floor tiles and tokens won't be.

  • avatarwaddball

    I sold AGOT + Clash of Kings recently, as I just wasn't playing it enough. If the new one is more tactically interesting (shorter would be nice, too), I'll get it. But I found this a game that reads better than it plays.

    Never played WW, but always wanted to. Seems like a no-brainer to get this back in print.

    Rex = indifference. I have the French edition of Dune, and it's sufficient. I am curious about what's changed, but I have a tough enough time getting Dune on the table: add in the TI gibberish and there's no way.

    Totally with you on the Star Wars license. I had visions of Queen's Gambit as well. I'll keep an eye on the LCG, but I'm not optimistic.

    I'm more and more skittish about FFG's games. I think they take a really hard line on the 80/20 rule: once it's 80% working, they're on to the next project. That seems a likely thing to happen when each game isn't a labor of love, but a new project for their in-house design staff. You can't afford to have a guy on the clock noodling around trying to patch up loose ends. Plus it's a totally different vibe between a mandate to design a game about X and an independent love of X that inspires a design.

  • avatarGary Sax

    I think your 80/20 rule is definitely true, waddball, unless someone really nails it on the first try early development or something(BSG,Chaos in the Old World).

  • avatarKen B.

    Well, to be fair, 80% (assuming we're rolling with that) is better than what you get from a lot of companies, particularly in this industry.

    Too many game companies are a couple of nice guys who start a company named after their first game, are surrounded by friends who say, "Yah man, this is great!" because they're nice people, and yet the game is "30%", if that. A year later, their game company is kaput.

    FFG was once small fry; now they're the biggest in this segment of the industry. Here's hoping their size (seriously, watching their Gencon videos, it was like, "How many people work for FFG?!?!") doesn't impact their ability to react and continue to bring out great designs.

    All of the stuff they're putting out there seems like good, solid reactions to any criticisms leveled at them over the past couple of years. That and a series of big-time licensed properties? They really are sitting pretty.

  • avatartin0men  - re: Got to play some stuff
    moofrank wrote:

    Elder Sign: This is definitely kind of an Arkham Horror lite.
    ...
    Rune Age: I adore this.

    Thanks for the updates on the above. It's all good grist for the mill on if/when to push the button on an order.

    Looks like they're both clocking in at the same price at coolstuff.

    REXDune is definitely an auto-buy, as WizWar will no doubt be.

    SW? Well, so far it's not quite pinging for me.

    AGoT: I'm one of the heretics that hasn't read the books, never played the prior ed, and refused to pony up more for cable to get to see the series (Hell, I wrote off Torchwood over the move to pay; AGoT was never on the radar. :P).

    A 3-player minimum and 3hour play time moves it back on the list a bit, regardless of raves, simply because I've been finding more and more stuff I buy gathers dust with the group if it's not highly flexible or can be trundled through quickly if needed -- well, that is, if at least the box under-quotes the play time. :P

    There's a lot of cool stuff I'd buy, given more dough, whether I'd play them or not. Unfortunately, the doughs not endless, and neither is wife-tolerance for accumulating dusty boxes. :D

  • avatarmoofrank  - More notes on games

    Elder Sign: We played this with 7 or 8. It was WAY too many. Kevin kind of says 6 or less. Richard likes it with 3-5. Because the flavor text is really reigned in, it doesn't benefit from being able to enjoy each other's misery and the overall story.

    A lot of the large chrome elements are there from AH, The event deck and the boss monster options, combined with surprisingly straightforward play convince me to like this. So it ends up being a light, fluffy games with JUST enough chrome.

    Rune Age: There are 4 very fixed scenarios with varying interaction:
    1. Kill the Dragon. (This allows you to claim cities from opponents and even attack their homebase to finish them off. There isn't a ton of reason to do this, because you still need to kill the dragon to win.)
    2. Kill everybody else.
    3. Pure co-op. With a nasty event deck and a ton of monsters beating the crap out of you.
    4. Pure Euro. You can still attack cities, but not homebases.

    The cards you can buy are:
    Your own 4 troop types (unique to each faction) are bought with gold. They produce strength and have other effects
    Your own strongholds are bought with gold or strength. They stay in front of you and you tap them to make influence. No powers.
    3-5 single Cities are like strongholds but can be stolen. No powers.
    Neutral cards (only 3 decks) are bought with influence.
    Enemies (brought in via the event deck) are beaten with strength, and often have a reward of some type.
    Gold is bought via influence.

    The odd thing here is the focus on special powers is possibly even more restrained than Dominion. So the nifty part is just the bootstrap economy. You start with 5 gold and 3 strength. And if you look at the weird cycle:
    Gold buys strength
    Strength buys influence
    Influence buys gold...and special things. And allows you to keep cards.

    But the games are not victory point based--so you really have to work out when to stop collecting one of the commodities.

  • avatardragonstout
    Quote:
    The odd thing here is the focus on special powers is possibly even more restrained than Dominion.

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaand the game goes from "barely on my radar" to "in an another country from my radar"

    Not really interested in converting various resources back and forth a la JAMBO again.

  • avatarwaddball

    Hey, no dissing Jambo. Great little game.

    But not, I agree, what I'm looking for from Rune Age. Still most excited about Core Worlds, of all the 2G DBGs.

  • avatarKen B.

    Rune Age definitely has that impulse buy thing going for it. $22 is cheeeeap.

  • avatardragonstout
    Quote:
    Hey, no dissing Jambo. Great little game.

    Beg to differ. I think that was the first game I traded for after discovering BGG that made me want to get rid of it as fast as possible. I honestly do not understand what people see in that game. Resource conversion, over and over, that's all it is.

  • avatarmoofrank  - Rune Age

    Would it help to say that while you are doing this, dragons fly out of the air and try to rip your city to shreds?

    In fact, the way I finally won was to take a risk, let an incoming dragon shred my city to almost certain death so I could take my one shot at the Dragonlord.

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