Non-Wargames on your table right now

Started by bayonetbrant, June 20, 2017, 10:58:07 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


that's cool when they can just change a map and no other mechanics and get such a different play experience
The key to surviving this site is to not say something which ends up as someone's tag line - Steelgrave

"their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights'...and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure." Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Silent Disapproval Robot

One of the guys at my FLGS got his copy of the new game based on The Expanse TV series so we gave that a whirl last night.  I'm not sure why he decided to buy it as, of those of us who played, I'm the only one who's seen any of the show or read any of the books it's based on.  At any rate, it was a pretty interesting game. 

It's put out by WizKids and their reputation for churning out poor quality materials was reinforced further with this game.  The cards and counters are tiny and the cardstock is very thin.  A few of the cards and sheets weren't cut properly so some of the text was trimmed on one edge and a few cards had some warping.  Several of the wooden cubes were misshapen and we had more than a few rhombuses and trapezoids out on the map.

Speaking of the map, it's very minimalist and kind of bland yet it still manages to be a little confusing.  You see, the map is divided into 3 main zones (for some reason the outer planet zone is divided into 2 sub-zones but it's not clear on the map) but the background art has planetary orbital tracks that make it look as though there are more zones than their are.  You quickly get used to it but it's still poor design.

Poor component quality and ugly aesthetics not withstanding, the actual gameplay was quite engaging.  It's a 2-4 player game.  Each player chooses a faction (The United Nations, Mars Republic, Outer Planets Alliance, or Protogen) and places their starting fleets and influence markers on the map.  Each faction starts with a unique tech as well.

Game play is card driven and borrows a lot from Twilight struggle.  5 cards are turned over and the first player chooses one (and possibly pays to take it depending on how far down the track it is.  Oldest cards cost nothing to take, newest cost two VP to take).  The cards each have an Action Point value of 2 - 4 as well as an event.  The player can either use the card for the action points and conduct actions such as building or moving fleets or placing influence markers on the map in sectors where they have a fleet or they can use the card for the associated event provided that their faction symbol is displayed on the card. 

If they use the action points and not the event, other factions can then choose to play the event listed on the card provided their symbol is shown.  (Who gets to choose first is based on an ever shifting initiative track) or they can spend one VP to buy the event and hold it in reserve to be played at a later time.

Cards are slid up the track and a new one is turned over and the next player goes.  Interspersed through the deck are 6 scoring cards.  Players can draft one of these cards and then scoring occurs.  The player who elected to draft the scoring card gets to secretly choose one of the map sectors to be worth bonus scoring but each sector can only be selected twice and the bonuses get bigger as the game progresses.  The players who didn't play the scoring card get a chance to react by playing one of their saved events (if they have any) so it's possible to deny points to the one who elected to score.

After each of the first three scoring cards is played, each faction gets one additional new technology which gives them more options during play.

O.P.A. faction card

O.P.A. tech advances

Once the 6th scoring card is flipped, the game ends so it's possible that the game could end with only a small fraction of the deck revealed.

There's also a balancing mechanic represented by a ship called the Rocinante.  Whoever has the lowest VP total after a score card is played gets control of this ship.  The ship counts as a fleet and it also has 4 crew members with special abilities that the player can use during the scoring phase and it proved to be quite the spoiler in our game.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  There was a decent amount of depth and some tense decision-making.  The other players enjoyed it as well despite knowing nothing of the show or the setting.  To be honest, there wasn't a lot of theme present.  Nothing about the gameplay really reminded me of the show, the characters, or the setting. 

If you like Twilight Struggle or the COIN games, you might want to have a look at this one. 


Wow, that's cool, SDR. I do like COIN and I enjoy this show, too...I had no idea there was a board game for it.

Arctic Blast

Played a bunch of Mechs vs. Minions on Saturday. Holy Hell is that game's production through the roof good. It's also a blast to play. I'll try to grab a few screenshots the next time I get it on the table.

Basically, it's something like Robo Rally, only it's total co-op. Each player has their own little mech, and you're drafting cards in a timed draft and adding them to your command line. You can stack up to 3 cards of a like type in order to create more powerful abilities. Then, each player goes through their line from left to right and executes. Each mission has different parameters, but you're primarily focused on killing minions. Then they get a turn. Every time one of them ends their movement adjacent to you, you draw a damage card. Some will force you to re-arrange your command line, others will cause a one off effect to your mech, but most cover up one of the 6 slots on your line. You can use cards you draft to reorganize and repair, but then you aren't stacking up abilities.

Really well done game. You can only buy it from Riot (the League of Legends guys. It's based on that property), but it's just absurdly well made. Shows what a company can do when they have billions to throw around.

Silent Disapproval Robot

Tried out a negotiation style sci-fi game called Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant.  It's for 4-9 players.  Each player selects a race and each race comes with their own special rules, abilities, tech, and components.  Players vie to colonize planets, develop tech, and produce goods which they trade back and forth in order to complete production queues to gain VPs.  It's a bit like I'm the Boss meets Cosmic Encounters with some Terraforming Mars and Race for the Galaxy thrown in for good measure.  The basic mechanics are fairly straightforward but there is a LOT to keep track of, especially in the latter stages of the game and it turned out to be quite a brain burner.  We set a rule allowing for only 10 minutes of trading/negotiation per turn but people routinely went over.  With a five player game, this led to a fair amount of down time as some players were suffering from AP while others just would not stop trying to wheel and deal.

It was a interesting game but not one I'd want to play every week.  I'm generally not the biggest fan of bidding/auction type games but there was enough going on in this one to hold my attention.  There is a great deal of replayability as each race plays very differently and you do have a lot of options/strategies available to you.  I can't imagine a 9 player game.  It would be a nightmare.  We did a 5 player game and I think 5-6 is the sweet spot.  Some of the guys had played before and said that the 4 player game was a bit too cutthroat as there just weren't enough resources being produced for anyone to get their engines going effectively.  There was definitely enough in the 5 player game, it was just hard to get the attention of someone at the other end of the table at times due to all the shouted negotiations happening at once.


The key to surviving this site is to not say something which ends up as someone's tag line - Steelgrave

"their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights'...and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure." Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers


Sounds somewhat like AH's Civilization or Advanced Civilization. With 7 people it can get quite hectic during the trading sessions.

Silent Disapproval Robot

Quote from: bayonetbrant on December 06, 2017, 05:56:22 AM
thems a LOT of cards there

Yeah, it eats up a lot of table space.  That's a photo I cribbed from BGG although our game looked quite similar (minus the cookie).  I think the hardest thing to keep track of is the tech.  The purple cards are tech and you have to bid to buy researchable tech from a central pool. Then you have to commit resources to develop the tech.  The earlier you develop tech in the game, the more VPs you get.  If you do research a tech, you get to exclusive rights to it for a single phase (provided you've got the resources to use it after spending a whack to research it), then it goes into a common pool and everyone gets access to it.  Once certain techs are put in play, they allow you to enhance other techs you may have which let you upgrade more techs in a cascade effect. Trying to follow the cascade tree and work out which development path is best while someone's barking in your ear that they want all your food in exchange for the use of their fleet, half their quantum computing research output for two turns, and future considerations can cause a short circuit.

Silent Disapproval Robot

Quote from: Barthheart on December 06, 2017, 06:42:27 AM
Sounds somewhat like AH's Civilization or Advanced Civilization. With 7 people it can get quite hectic during the trading sessions.

It's a lot more chaotic in this one as there are many more things available for trade.  In addition to the different types of resources (3 minor, 3 major, 1 ultra as standard and one race has 2 unique ones), you can also trade ships, fleets, systems, access to your factories and research, and future considerations.  Lots of situations where player 1 was trying to get two of resource A from player 2 in order to get one C and two Ds from player 4 in order to get resource B and two ships from player 5 in order to be able to complete a research project and colonize an ice planet to lay off a debt from two turns ago.

Silent Disapproval Robot

FFG released an app for Star Wars: Imperial Assault that acts as a kind of AI similar to the one used for Descent and Mansions of Madness.  I'd played a few rounds of the skirmish portion of the game in the past but I didn't care for it all that much as the way movement and ZOCs work felt a bit off to me.  (Units have no ZOC so enemy units can move right through your melee unit's square as if they weren't there). 

Anyway, I do like the app control for Descent and the game was on sale for New Year's at a FLGS so I snagged a copy (and then went and ordered all the expansions because...weak). 

I ran through the tutorial solo and had a lot of fun with it.  A group of 4 of us are going to give the coop campaign a whirl starting tomorrow.


Quote from: Silent Disapproval Robot on January 04, 2018, 10:29:25 AM
so I snagged a copy (and then went and ordered all the expansions because...weak). 




Thanks for the reminder on that app, SDR. I have IA and three expansions and have YET to play the bloody thing.  :-\

Silent Disapproval Robot

Sidereal Confluence (mentioned above) has been getting a lot of positive buzz lately.  I ended up ordering a copy a while ago and it looks like it'll finally be arriving this week some time.  Hopefully in time for our usual Wednesday night session.

Silent Disapproval Robot

Well that took way longer than expected.  Always a pisser when you support a FLGS and you end up paying more to get a game and then it takes 3 weeks to arrive.

Oh well, got it now.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to play in a few weeks time.

Silent Disapproval Robot

Did a lot of gaming over the last week.  Played a 6 player game of Sidereal Confluence on Wednesday which was chaotic fun but I did quite poorly as I was playing the snooty elder civilization and nobody would take my condescending little award tokens from me.

Did Black Orchestra 2nd Ed yesterday.  It was fun but very frustrating.  We were only able to organize well enough to make two attempts on Hitler, both of which ended in failure.  We all ended up in prison just as the Normandy landings commenced.

We've been playing an app driven co-op campaign of Star Wars: Imperial Assault and we finally had time to get the group together to run the final mission today.  Lots of fun with an ending ripped right out of Rogue One for a finish.  Only two of our band made it out alive, the rest going down to lightsabers through the guts and force chokes but hey, at least the Wookie got a medal this time around.

We're going to try a co-op campaign of Descent next.