Thought I’d take a slightly different tack on this article and talk a little more philosophically about how I choose which games I play and some of the key considerations when choosing to start a new game. This may ramble at points, as this isn’t a neat science, more an art with a few guidelines.
The group I play with cycles through board games fairly frequently. I think there’s two key factors to this, we all purchase new games and want to get them to the table, as well as having Wednesdays locked in as game night, so we play consistently. This year we’ve played Star Wars Imperial Assault, Doom the Board Game, Lords of Waterdeep, The Others, Arkham Horror and Massive Darkness – each multiple sessions. Getting games to the table 42+ sessions over the year really lets you get a good amount of play in for a game.
With the churn coming from Kickstarter and FFG securing amazing property licences, we constantly seem to have a new stream of games to play. That said, I’ve purchased no new boardgames except Doom this year (colour me disappointed per this post), which was doubly disappointing being FFG and a video game I’d thoroughly enjoyed. I’d also consider board games to have a much lower buy in than my other gaming pursuits, so when I hit a disappointing game it’s generally not that big a financial or time impost.
Background (well, really just 40k)
So I played 40k pretty much exclusively for the better part of my life and I still think that from a model perspective Games Workshop is unparalleled. However, I find that the 40k ruleset no longer works for me for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
- The need to paint anything from 50 models upwards to play a game (leaving aside competitiveness), which is to time consuming for me currently (both to paint and play a game)
- Having to roll dice to determine both hits, wounds and armour saves seems clunky after experiencing other rulesets – it’s time consuming and feels unnecessary
- The D6 system doesn’t have sufficient gradations in it – if you want something more granular than 33%, 50% or 66% you need to move away from a D6 or introduce additional rolls, which makes roll less relevant and exciting
I fell out of love with 40k at the start of 7th edition, and have tried a few times to go back but it’s never grabbed me the way it used to.
But what do we do instead…
So, as readers of this blog could intuit, over the past 18 months I’ve played Warmahordes, Marvel Universe Miniatures Game and Wild West Exodus. Each system had very strong arguments in favour of it, and has it’s own unique attractions, which we’ll take in turn.
I like the hit/damage system against fixed armour in Warmahordes and the system as a hole seems to be well balanced. Using a two D6 system is clever as you know that seven is the magic number whilst having some further gradation a straight D6 system misses. Over the games I’ve played, I’ve pretty quickly identified misplays and weaknesses in my list, albeit in the latter case it can feel like rock, paper, scissors at times. That said, from an aesthetic perspective, the models outside of Trollbloods are of little or no interest to me, but, more importantly, I cannot stand the ‘kill-the-king’ mechanics which the game is based on.
For those who aren’t aware, in Warmahordes you have a Warcater or Warlock which is your effectively controls the whole army. They perform certain key actions, as well as having spells and abilities which affect the game (include a once per game ‘feat’ which provides significant benefit for the turn it’s used – a really interesting mechanic). However, their importance is similar to that of a king in Chess, so if they are killed, you lose the game. This mechanic doubly frustrated me, as my Ragnor list was entirely scenario driven. So I would often amass significantly more victory points than my opponent before having Ragnor “one shoted’ by an assassination list, seeing me lose the game. I understand that partly this is my skill as a player, however the saltiness at being able to outplay my opponent for several turns then losing to an assassination run over the course of a turn is infuriating to me and caused me to give up on Warmahordes.
Well, this is a game I love, but sadly it’s now discontinued. There was so much potential for cool stuff and the game balance seemed pretty good. I’m hoping to get it back to the table soon, and my friends are keen to play but being discontinued I assume the player base is going to shrink considerably.
Wild West Exodus
As I mentioned in a previous post, I Kickstarted the original first edition game and have thought the fluff and models were pretty cool since then. However, nothing in the second Kickstarter inspired me, and there seemed to be massive balance issues and holes in the rules so this game fell off our radar (despite the investment). The second edition seemed a good opportunity to crack my models out again, and we played it a few times and provided feedback on the beta. The game ultimately doesn’t have enough appeal among our group to achieve longevity. So whilst I think the ruleset is great and love having the two card decks in addition to dice rolls, the models and theme are too bespoke to get everyone excited (although I am…). I think for a brief narrative campaign in this universe or a an occasional hit-out this game is good but it’s unlikely to get a broad following with our group (which is a shame for me).
So let’s look for a new miniature game
So basically, I’ve worked out a bunch of things I don’t want in a game, which is a fine starting point as these things go I suppose. I’ll explore the flip side of this in the next post, where I discuss some of the things I do want in a miniatures game, stay tuned….