Help Me Out Here

One of the funny things about designing games is that the more I get to work on cool projects like DreadBall, the less I get to play all the many games I have piled up in my study. Perhaps I should have listened to the warnings about making my hobby into my job. These days, almost all of my gaming time is spent playtesting one of my own.

Now before you think that I’m off wallowing in self pity here, let me say that I’m not complaining. Sure, it’s a bit frustrating and I’ve got a huge list of stuff I want to find time to play, but it’s a long way from being bad and I’m not feeling self pitying at all. Quite the opposite.

However, as I’m up to my ears writing cool new games for you guys to play I thought that maybe you guys could help me out too. Vicarious thrills is the name of the game. What have I been missing in the last year with my nose buried in DreadBall? What new (to you) game have you played that has really made you sit up and take notice? So that I can focus on the cool stuff when I do get a minute, what would you recommend?

If you have a moment, let me know. Also, let everyone else know (it’s OK, I let other people read this too).

To maximise the usefulness of the comments, and because that’s what I do, let’s have a rule or two for comments πŸ˜‰

1) Tell me the new gaming experience that meant the most to you this year.Β Yes, just one. Think carefully. It can be any kind of game and, importantly, does not have to be a new game, just new to you. Way too many hidden gems from years gone by for that restriction to be sane.

2) Tell me why it is the best gaming experience you’ve had this year. Could be a really cool rule set, jaw-droppingly beautiful figures, delightfully brain burning strategies or just a wonderful social lubricant. You tell me.

3) No repeating an already posted game. So if you really wanted to say Warmachine or 40K you’ll have to get in quick. This is partly because I already know about the obvious and am more interested in finding out about the surprise delights that don’t normally get the coverage.Β I will be deleting duplicates.

So, don’t be shy. What have I been missing?

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117 Responses to Help Me Out Here

  1. I was going to say Deep Wars purely based on the underwater theme, but it would be presumptious of me as it hasn’t been released yet! Therefore it’s Bushido for me. I’m no expert on rules or game balance or clever mechanisms so I won’t comment too much on that sort of thing – the important thing was the game flowed and the rules didn’t get in the way. The main thing for me is how much character every model has. They are some of the nicest I’ve seen in years, particulary the Oni. It’s as if the designer reached into my brain and pulled out the oriental range I’ve always wanted.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The rule I forgot half way through writing the post was that you must have actually played the thing to recommend it. Thanks for reminding me πŸ™‚

      And Bushido is a pretty choice.

  2. Jass says:

    For me it was Infinity from corvis belli! The ARO system was to me a unique new concept and brings an extra dimension in the game.

  3. Leif Eriksson says:


    Fun and games during the Viking age. Innovative activation system with dice and battle boards.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I haven’t played Saga yet, though it is already near the top of a short list of things to try, not least because I was part way through writing some Norse rules when I first heard about it. Is it worth me finishing them?

      • Ben says:

        My first choice has already been taken so I’m going for the game that really kicked off the big crowdfunders, Zombicide. A very simple game but one which requires a lot of thought and co-ordination and one which really challenges the players. My one caveat is I don’t yet know how much replayablility it will have.

        • Ben says:

          Not sure how this wound up here :s

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I haven’t seen much of this beyond the hype, though zombies are always worth a try. I’m hoping that someone in my local gaming group was on the kick starter for this so I’ll see it at the club.

        • Ben says:

          Well, should you ever be in the Newcastle/Durham area you’re always welcome to a game.

        • Heya Jake, if you want you can pop over to Brum and help me review it!!! Like Ben, it’s loads of fun so far but longevity might be an issue.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Sadly, a lack of longevity is not an uncommon failing of games in general. An awareness of (and frustration with) this is why I aim for a bit more replay in what I work on.

        • Well Jake I got a few more games of Zombicide in last night and… it’s still a lot of fun. Admittedly once you get someone with the sniper rifle and plenty of ammo it becomes less of a challenge, but it’s still good fun. If a little simple. If it remains fun even after playing the missions multiple times then I guess it doesn’t matter that most of the missions are exactly the same and that there isn’t much variance in the zombies and how they act.

      • Laffe says:

        Well… Saga has got a huge following. It’s not entirely realistic and some of the criticisms are that it’s a bit gamey — it’s all about managing your dice pool, praying to the dice gods that you will get those icons that let you pull off a particular combo, while you do move groups of figures around the table. The fatigue mechanic is nice though and the games are quite cinematic.

        There are those who don’t like it because of the above, so I guess there would be room for another set of Norse rules, but you would have to sort of niche it differently for it to take off. I don’t know, maybe smaller size with proper skirmish rules for individual figures would do it, perhaps. You never know. Or do a set with proper campaign rules where you manage your warband, something Saga sadly is lacking.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I’ll have to give it a go myself. I don’t mind cinematic as long as you know that’s what you’re going to get. In fact, as long as they tell you in advance I’m happy to give any style a try. It’s only really a problem when you buy into something because they tell you it’s like X, and when you get it you find it’s all about Y…

          Equally true of books, movies…

  4. 1) Wow only one Jake? You know me I’m always playing new stuff. Played so many cool new games this year that it really is hard to pick one. Like Monkey’s Blood I’ve enjoyed both versions of Bushido, still not quite there as a game but it’s getting finessed into something fun. There have however been two wargames this year that have really made me smile just because of how much fun I’ve had with them. They are Freebooter’s Fate and Heavy Gear Blitz. If you twisted my arm and asked me to pick one then my love of mecha would steer me to Heavy Gear Blitz, but truthfully I can’t pick.

    2) As for the best gaming experience I’ve had this year… well that had to be playing Gears of War the boardgame while reviewing it. We got the rules for spawning things hideously wrong and the game turned into an almost impossible to manage onslaught of Locust. We braved on, but got wiped out just as we were about to complete the mission. Shocked that the game was so brutally difficult we sat down and re-read the rules. We soon realised the mistake we’d made, however we’d still had fun and the fact we got so close t actually finishing the mission when it was all but impossible shows how much genuine though we put int the game. the games also loads of fun when you play the rules right too!!! πŸ˜›

    No if I was a brown nose I might say Project Pandora or DreadBall… but I’m not a brown nose! πŸ˜‰

  5. estragonsfigs says:

    Not really maybe this blog’s topic, but I was really amazed and stunned by the very strange and exciting Czech origin game Innovation. A fast Civilization-themed cardgame of balanced, escalating mayhem of synergies.

  6. moocifer ( also in Nottingham ) says:

    As SAGA has been taken already and I really cannot choose between either of the these two may I suggest: Alien Frontiers & its Faction Updates (expansions) for a theme oozing dice manipulation & placement sci-fi board game -AND- The Manhattan Project a worker placement board game where you are trying to build stronger A-bombs faster than everyone else.

    Both were Kickstarter projects out of interest and both are extremely well packaged & presented offerings ..

  7. Douglas says:

    I’d say ‘Ancient Heroes’. πŸ˜‰ Seriously, it was this game that got me into miniatures war-gaming. Once I realised that there were rule-sets out there that only required a handful of figures (i.e. five) per side, I realised it was actually going to be a managable hobby for me. Also, being able to have fights with monsters from Greek myths is such a cool idea — I suspect this will be the game that will get my (currently) 10-month-old son into wargaming some day.

    Say, any news on the expansions yet?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Douglas. It’s a pleasant surprise to see Ancient Heroes here as it is, in many ways, a bit of a throwaway (even though it can be a lot of fun). The minimal requirements were all part of the brief I wrote for it, partly as a way of illustrating that you don’t need 300 models a side for a fun game. very happy it’s worked for you πŸ™‚

      With Foundry’s change of direction I have no idea what’s happening to the 4 books and dozens of articles I’ve written for them and which currently remain unpublished. Last I heard they didn’t want any more things from me as Bryan was going to do it all. It’ll be intriguing to see what he comes up with.

      So, what I’ll do at some point is go through my notebooks and see what there is left over and just post it up here. Obviously, stuff that they commissioned belongs to them, though there were other bits too. It’s not at the top of my agenda, but that’s all I can do I’m afraid.

      Oh, and your 10 month old? That’s what I call forward planning πŸ˜‰

      • Douglas says:

        Sorry to hear Foundry don’t want your stuff! :-S I’d love to see what else you have in mind for your Greek mythology games. I am really hoping that somehow Ancient Heroes can be adapted to include large mythological beasts such as the Pegasus, Hydra, Griffon, Chimaera or Cerberus.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          The irony is that they already have loads of it, they just haven’t published it yet. All a bit peculiar. Mind you, GW also have 6 board games I designed and which, I suspect, will never see the light of day either. In fact, if I’m entirely honest, I imagine that they’ve lost the originals years ago because the last person I know who looked through the archives found no sign of them. Hey ho.

  8. tornquistd says:

    I look at a few things to make sure you are writing the games I like best. I have been playing DKH 4 for some time now and it is still my favorite game. Hopefully you will get a chance to play test it in the near future. πŸ˜€

  9. Lex says:

    Looking back at the year, without any doubt Mage Knight: The Board Game, even though it’s been about a month since I’ve played a game.

    It’s really like no other game… it’s a hairy game, with tons of rules and exceptions, and it’s a loooong game. I should not have liked that game. But it’s a huge rush: The mix of all elements (cards, dice, miniatures, tiles, units, etc.) and the incredible theme are invigorating.

    The “high point” was actually my very first game… I strongly regretted buying the game (it’s expensive too), but said to myself “I have to play at least a game…”. It was 9PM, and 3AM found me hotly debating with myself the merits of attacking the Keep at night versus waiting until morning and sacking a monastery instead. I was hooked.

  10. Jason Moquin says:

    For me it had to be when the boys and I dusted off the Necromunda gangs and books, went about updating with the community version of the rules, and setup our own home-brewed league. There were 4 of us and we played 15 or so games each. It was a riot and there was many niggling injuries, outright deaths, and spectacular Juve rises to glory. What a fantastic game Necromunda is!!! It’s too bad that it’s mostly forgotten.

  11. Minitrol says:

    I have played embarrassingly few games this year. Spend most my time reading about games…and bugging games designers meh it’s a hobby ; P


    This was a limited edition game for charity. My friend backed it and popped round one evening (I tagged you in a FB photo so you can see it). I am not a fan of card games overall. I hate reading all the tiny text and the games don’t appeal to my neat tidy sensibilities but this game was really fun and quite tactical in how you play your protagonists against the zombies.

    I hope it gets released commercially but sadly I think if you missed it that’s it. Maybe he will offer the DL version again?

  12. Buhallin says:

    For me, hands down it’s Dropzone Commander. The why:

    1. Beautiful models. Truly stunning elements of design and consistency with an emphasis on vehicles that not many other games pursue.
    2. Minimal special rules. With my other main games being Malifaux and Warmachine, I sometimes feel like I’m in special rule overload. DzC is relatively simple, with only a few special rules of minimal complexity. This is also what attracted me to a certain upcoming sports game you’re probably familiar with πŸ˜‰
    3. True Science Fiction. Let’s face it, most “science fiction” games are more like space fantasy. For the most part, DzC stays well-grounded and has the major element of “What will things become?” that is lacking from space fantasy. This plays nicely into the rules, as the emphasis is on combined arms and rapid deployment of very mobile units. It’s not the only game that qualifies as pretty hard SF, but it is a pretty small pool.
    4. New materials. The resin Hawk uses is like nothing I’ve ever seen before – it’s sturdy, light, and slightly flexible, leading to models that are nearly indestructible short of actively jumping up and down on them.
    5. Full range of models released at once. This is both good and bad, as it’s combined with unexpected popularity to produce some truly hairy supply issues… but Hawk released every single model in the range on Day One. Partially it was their own fault – the game emphasizes combined arms so much that “The UCM will get their AA tanks in March” just really wouldn’t have worked. But that said, they committed to getting everything out at once and did so relatively on time, with something like 45 models released at once. I’m sure you can appreciate what a massive undertaking that was.

  13. killaminis says:

    Ok, I’ll be an smoocher here but it’s true….DreadBall has to be on the top of my favorite gaming experiences this year. I know I don’t actually possess a copy yet but I have proxies and have played a few scrimmages to test out the game. I’ve been dying for a sports game to come out that would take the gaming world by storm and I feel it’s finally arrived. Becoming the next sports game Standard to which all are compared is not an easy task but this game, the company’s fan friendly approach and the already established tournament community will make a long time dream of mine a reality. I’d be dishonest if I wasn’t so pleased because it spits in the face of the “other” company but I’m delighted. Mostly because the approach is so community and consumer driven, a concept that the”other”company so blatantly ignores time and time again.

    Anyhow, thanks for all your hard work and future efforts getting seasons 2-4 complete and true to the standard you’ve already set.
    I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but if you need any feedback on playtesting just give me a holler and I’d love to participate !! I think that might help you more than your original request on this post πŸ™‚

    • Lex says:

      You’re not alone: it also ranked in my top 3, by the way.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Killaminis (& Lex). GW’s abandonment of their Specialist games range is a real shame as there are some good games among them. Still, they are prone to making business decisions which commentators find incomprehensible so this is nothing new or terribly surprising.

      I hope that DB takes off too as the vibrant community aspect was always one of my favourite bits about BB. Cheery enthusiasm is infectious and makes for great events and a perfect gaming atmosphere πŸ™‚

      I’ll keep you in mind for future playtesting.

      And I almost had a rule 4 (not one of my games).

  14. mindg4m3 says:

    This has been a good year, but for me it has all been casual games mostly. The two that are excellent are Scripts and Scribes the dice game – it is fast (20 minutes with 4), easy to learn and deep enough options to keep you thinking.
    Takenoko. This game is what settlers of Catan should be, and entry level board game should be more like. Everything about this game is just right. The art is amazing, the theme is engaging and everyone asks for round 2.

  15. AHunt says:

    I’ve played a ton of new games this year. I’m recently divorced from a certain lass who’s initials are GW, and I’ve been testing the waters all over the place. I really haven’t had a bad game yet. My favorite though, since I’m being forced to choose, has to be the new X-Wing miniatures game from FFG. The mechanics are familiar to anyone who has played Wings of War but they are simple and elegant. Plus, they’re Star Wars. The minis are very nice, especially for pre-paints.

    The real reason this is so great though is that I’ve been searching for a game for my seven year old and I to play together, all year. He’s special needs, so the rules have to have a certain combination of traits to work for him. I’ve tried a bunch of options. X-Wing is a huge hit with him and even my five year old can play. We are still looking for the sweet spot, since what he really wants to play is Lord of the Rings.

    All things being equal though, this game is the best this year just because of the look on his face as he sits across the table from me and plots my destruction, maneuver dial in hand and pure evil in his laugh.

    • Lex says:

      +1 Here. My 5 y.o. son is a also huge fan.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve heard several good reports of X-wing, one of them being that FLG actually had the effrontery to playtest it properly ;P

      • I still am play testing it. Not sure it’ll work as a straight up pitched battle though. I think in that sort of scenario you’ll end up with an indestructible Luke Skywalker and a totally awesome never able to get your sights on hm Darth Vader and… meh. But with a mission to complete it’s actually quite good fun.

        • Minitrol says:

          A friend brought it yesterday. Had three games at the local games club and then brought it off the shelf as he left! Made quite the impression but he agrees with you it needs a good mission to drive it.

  16. Sunfyre says:

    This last year my wife and I have been buried into Heavy Gear Blitz for a tabletop game. Just Sci-fi enough to be futuristic, but toned down enough to be believable. I have a PRDF, and my wife has Black Talons and a Utopia forces. The scale is nice, much like DZC, You can get far more terrain on the table and make it look like a truly themed feeling, be it the Badlands, icewastes, or an urban setting.

    As for boardgames though, Super Dungeon Explore is the one game we’ve really been playing often around the house. My two young kids can play it alongside my wife and myself, or we can ramp up the challenge if we have more mature players available.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      FLG keeps telling me that HGB is nicely balanced and well worth a go, while another mate tells me it’s broken bobbins. I need to get it on the table myself and see what’s going on. They can’t both be right.

      I can’t say I much liked SDE myself, though the imagery has obvious kid appeal. I wanted to like it much more than I could bring myself to, which was a bit disappointing. Perhaps I just need to play it some more.

      • Ben says:

        I first played SDE in November else it would have topped my list for this year.

      • Honestly Jake, most people who think it’s broken aren’t playing it properly. I’ve come across a few people who say it either doesn’t work as a game or X, Y and Z is bent. I haven’t found that at all. If you take all the juicy toys you end up needing to complete harder missions to win. I’ll have to lend you the rules or something. However, having shown nayseyers what the game is actually like many actually end up really liking it.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          From our previous conversations, I take it that you’re referring to HGB and not SDE here. As I said, I surrender! It’s slated for table time! Just have to find someone with a set or read the rules and proxy something πŸ™‚

  17. For me the most criminally under-rated and ignored game has got to be “Iron Stars” by Majestic 12. Edwardian space combat…that was enough to sell me on it. But I was astounded by how bloody clever the rules were. Even – if I might use that over used expression – elegant mechanisms.

    The author simply uses different die types to handle all sorts of things, but without the player noticing. For example, larger calibre weapons find it easier to it hit larger, less-maneuverable vessels than small torpedo boats, without any modifiers or special rules; it is just less probable mathematically. Much superior to Aeronef (which, admittedly is not Edwardian SF, but flying atmospheric dreadnaughts isn’t terribly far from flying space dreadnaughts. And to be honest, I use my Aeronef miniatures for IS anyway).

    Having said all that, I must admit that Maurice by Sam Mustafa is currently my most played game system. Brilliant, brilliant system. Lots of decision points, quite unforgiving of errors…really makes you think and sweat…and wonder what the hell went wrong! Cards just add soooo much to a game, without any headaches at all!

    • squeakeasy says:

      His Excellency is quite correct, Maurice is a great system. I keep thinking it woulld also make a good system for fantasy battles (and obsession of mine is to find the perfect fantasy rules!) – note to Jake – sounds like the foundry fantasy rules have sailed over the edge of a flat world 😦

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I played a little of Sam’s first Napoleonic game (can’t recall the name), which was very intriguing. Not quite the game I wanted, but that wasn’t a reflection on the game – just not what I was interested in simulating at the time. He’s on my Watch List, but in a good way.

      Iron Stars sounds like something I might like too. More for the growing list πŸ™‚

      And Squeak – do you know something I don’t or are you just going off my comments on FOundry’s state of play?

      • squeakeasy says:

        Not sure if I know anything you don’t Jake.. I’d mailed foundry directly and had a response saying things where being kept close to their ‘collective chests’ but the project had been put on the back burner due to the recent changes there – a little contradictory I guess – first statement implying something was in the offing; the second saying it isn’t!

  18. I’ll go for something a little different to add a new element:

    “Kittens in a Blender”

    A card game with a fantastic theme which had the horrified kids yelling in excitement after 5 mins. But the mechanics are good too – you cant usually help yourself out without helping another player, but its also hard to stab another player without harming yourself either. Sets you up for some neat alliances and rapid changes of fortune. A fun, fast paced filler game for all ages – a blast for the family.

  19. Doug says:

    A friend picked up Tsuro after a demo at the FLGS:

    We found it a lot of fun and VERY quick, with constantly changing play. The thematic design is also gorgeous.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Ticks lots of boxes there.

      • Doug says:

        I think we played about 3 games in an hour. The more players the quicker the game. It reminds me of an old amiga game called inertia drive, where you continued in the direction you moved in until you run into something. You move along the same path you started on, but each tile has lines going in different directions that affect which way you go. You must follow your path until you either go off the board, run into another player or reach the edge of a tile. Last man standing is the winner. When someone else’s tiles mess up your path you can end up all over the place.

  20. kim vejlin says:

    Check Your 6! for me. I really like the way pilot skill is handled and that it scales well with high numbers of players

    • Quirkworthy says:

      A good name too. Seems like there are quite a few aerial combat games in this list, which is intriguing. I’m counting X-wing and even perhaps Iron Stars as essentially a similar idea. Hmmm.

      • I was quite interested in X Wing, then I saw the price. A bit steep for a game that contains (I think) three models. My intention is to find someone else who’s bought it and have a go with their copy πŸ™‚

  21. Sam Dale says:

    I’d love to be able to say Netrunner, but I’ve not even seen a copy IRL yet. And I’m another one waiting on Deep Wars.

    Think the best new game I’ve played this year is Chaos in the Old World, which is probably old hat. The one I enjoyed second best, though I’ve only played one game so far, is a board game called Evo. It may just be the stupid combination of evolutionary tactics I managed (parasitic diplodocuses…), and a second go may not be so entertaining, but I think there’s good game there.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      For some reason I’m imagining your parasitic diplodocuses hanging upside-down from trees and waiting for their victims to pass by underneath… though I’m not sure that would work terribly well.

  22. MMM says:

    King of Tokyo is the game I had my best fun so far this year.

    Hopefully DB will top it.

  23. Hum_Con says:

    A good source of new games to try for me this year has been the web series Table Top (, if only because you can actually see the games being playd.

    Probably the most enjoyable gaming experience for me this year has been Ticket to Ride Europe. I had been aware of the game for years, but Table Top prompted me to actually pick up a copy and I ended up playing it with my little brother, my Mum, my sister and her husband. A rare game that can be properly enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike, even if I did come last.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That looks like a very slick series. Another one for the “when I have a spare half hour” pile πŸ˜‰

      I know that lots of people like it, but I never have got on well with train games, and TTR was not an exception. I’ve played quite a few over the years, and have disliked most of them with an intensity which I find surprising.

  24. Andrew says:

    Unlike many of the posts above, this isn’t a happy story.
    I picked up Cubicle 7s new Doctor Who Card Game at GenCon. I didn’t have the time to sit through a demo at their booth, so I planned to read the rules before playing the game.

    Cut to a month or so later, I’m back home and our regular Monday night roleplaying session is in danger of being called as two of the players can’t make it. I remember that I have DWCG so suggest we play that instead. Sadly, I had still not gotten around to reading the rules, so we decided to read them as we played.

    The game is fantastically fun, has an unusual card-passing mechanic that makes it hard to stack your hand with good cards, and isn’t too difficult for kids to play. Once you’ve closely read the rules, that is. They’re not the easiest rules to get through, with many things presented in long form and not summarised on the Rules Summary sheet.

    We managed to make it through the game okay, but did get caught up on one major rule: If a location is successfully defended by the Doctor and his chums, aliens can attack it again to try and gain control of it again. Ignoring this rule means that once you’ve defended a location, it’s out of the game. There aren’t enough locations in the game for this to be a viable rule. Also, your hand fills up with enemies and defenders pretty quickly.

    How could this be one of my best gaming experiences this year? Easy. It was a strong reminder of why you should ALWAYS read the rules first, and get other people to read them too. They may spot something that you’ve missed, and vice versa.

    Also, now that I’ve actually read the rules, I’m looking forward to playing it again… properly this time.

  25. billops says:

    Okko, a french boardgame (based on a comic set in a alt-japanese fantasy setting).
    play demons vs. hunters with a streamlined yet subtle system, beautiful material and a variety of scenari. Well worth a try !

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve got a copy sitting in a pile where it’s sat for years now. I did get it out and push bits about, and may even have had a single game. I forget. It’s another one to (re)look at. IIRC it had a series of very nice (but relatively pricey) models that went with it to replace the card standees for the characters.

  26. Christer E says:

    Black Powder.
    There sight of huge tables with tons of 28mm Napoleonic troops is a sight to behold. The mere beauty in combination with very simple, straightforward and FAST-playing rules very suitable for multi-player games make the whole gaming experince something extra. I think that the key is fast. Especially if you are a group of player who wants to squeeze in an hour of “debriefing” after the game as well.

    • Minitrol says:

      I love Black Powder. Brought the book purely on a whim (it was a package deal actually with Jakes Tribe of Legends rule-set) and greatly enjoyed reading it. Sadly my recreation of the Crimea is a few years away yet but one day!

  27. Fenrir-Oton says:

    Squadron Strike was a great discovery for me this year. I was looking for a space battle game and I got amazed when I found this rules set for gaming in real 3D space battles. The games is not for everybody (it’s not easy to learn) but has a lot of options to recreate any universe (I have tried to replicate StarWars fighter combats and Battletech/Aerotech naval combats and both experiencies were fun).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I know the name from somewhere though I can’t think where. 3D combat is usually rather complex, so I can understand why it might not be easy to learn. After having a go at this myself I think it’s probably best left for computer sims. It’s lots of fiddle on the tabletop, and is just the kind of thing that computers do well. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth a look, just that they have set themselves a particularly hard challenge.

      • Fenrir-Oton says:

        The game is made by Ad Astra Games. They have an interesting system called AVID to simplify ship’s position and movement, it works very well. The rules aren’t too hard but not everybody catch easily the 3D concept. Once you learn how AVID system works you see the whole rules quite simple.

        Ad Astra has another game to simulate jet fighter combat in 3D and, in my opinion, it is less fun and more complex than Squadron Strike. In this case, I agree with you that computer sims are the best option, but Squadron Strike is a wonderful solution for people who want a space 3D system. Prior to reading the rules I also thought they would be too complex, but I was wrong. I have played four little battles so far, testing different types of ships, and I like the feeling.

  28. Von says:

    Mine would probably be Epic Armageddon. It’s the first tabletop game I’ve played at such a grand scale, which has sort of opened my doors of perception a bit; the Epic UK variant’s a viable fan-developed iteration of a ‘dead game’ that’s unlikely to be trashed for commercial reasons; it’s extraordinarily flexible in terms of what can be fielded, how it can be used, and how games are won with it; and the club which introduced the game to me is comprised of some fine upstanding gentlemen.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Fine upstanding gents is always a good company to start gaming with. Personally I appreciated some of the clever and slick rules in Armageddon, but preferred the 2nd edition of Epic. This too has a net following and NetEpic is the descendant of years of fan FAQs and clarification of it.

      Both excellent games, and as with all the other Specialist games, a shame that GW just leave them to gather dust.

  29. tornquistd says:

    I got a copy if Wiz-War but I am waiting for cold weather to play it. I am currently exploring what level of magic is practical for DKH war bands and I think the game will be useful for that. If nothing else it will give me ideas for spells. From my limited experiments it seems a wizard does not need many spells unless you looking for a nothing but magic game.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I think the important thing here is balance. You want the wizard to be an equal member of the group of adventurers, able to do his part just like the fighter, priest, thief or whatever. This doesn’t mean that he has to do the same thing (in fact that would be dull), but he should be balanced. Whether this feels better to you with him having one huge spell to use when all else has failed, many tiny spells to use all the time to provide constant slight modifiers (or “buffs”) or somewhere in between is a matter of taste. Personally I find the one trick pony version a bit boring to play, though it is spectacular when your moment comes and you save everyone. Very cinematic too. Most games go with some variation of the other options, and this is what I will probably aim for with DKH4. I’ve not got round to balancing spells yet.

      • tornquistd says:

        Currently I am taking the path of simple spells. For example levitation will not win the day but I have found creative use of it with a group to back the wizard up it can do a lot. For example: holding the opposing hero in the air so your group can use them as target practice. I am finding that it takes very little magic to have a large impact on balance and that even the little spells are a lot of fun when you find creative uses for them (the motive to keep tinkering). The only damage spell I have at this point is the classic lightning bolt so the wizard is not defenseless as I am focusing on spells as tools but not complete attacks. One spell that I am having to tone down is a wall of fire as it screws with the game to much if it can be maintained over several turns even if you can normally go around with a bit of effort in my open air setting.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I have broken more than one magic system in an RPG setting by being a bit too inventive with my use of nominally “utility” spells and magic items. Being pushed into a corner like that just makes me more inventive. You’ll also find them really hard to playtest enough to completely avoid loopholes – but that’s magic for you.

  30. Mike says:

    I’ve tried out a couple of other skirmish-level games this year, but always come straight back to Malifaux, which I still believe to be the best skirmish game out there. Unique card mechanics, an evocative setting and miniatures, and gameplay that requires you to constantly make interesting decisions and actively manage several different resources.

    That said, I’m just this year getting into board games (mainly off the back of the Tabletop web-series), and my favourite *new* game this year would have to be Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I’m new to co-op games, but love the social way they play, and this game perfectly captures the theme of being a firefighter and battling an unpredictable blaze.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’m not a fan of Malifaux on several levels, though I will save you the rant.

      Your other suggestion is a great theme. I don’t know the game but I can imagine it from your last line alone πŸ™‚

      Co-operative games are funny beasts, and often don’t quite work. I think this is partly because gamers are conditioned (and/or self-selected) to be competitive and out for themselves, so co-op games can involve too much adaptation of normal playing styles.

      Personally I’ve yet to find one that really works, though elements of co-operation can work brilliantly in otherwise competitive games (eg Kill Dr Lucky and Struggle for Empires).

      • Ben says:

        I’m a fan of Malifaux but I can understand why a games designer wouldn’t be as it’s very unbalanced and a bit of a mess. I sometimes wonder whether they playtested the game and got the book proof-read. They’ve already done mini-restart with the 1.5 rulebook but a complete system restore probably wouldn’t go amiss.

        I played a game a few months called (I think) Dungeon Run which was a strange hybrid of co-op game and PvP. It’s a tile-based dungeon crawl in which the dungeon is built as you go along. The players are meant to work together until the endgame is triggered at which the first player out of the dungeon holding a certain artifact wins. The result is that no-one works together at any point in the game, even when you’re supposed to.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I’ve played Malifaux a couple of times and watched several other scraps. I know quite a few people who have played it lots more, and different people on separate occasions have all moaned to me about how utterly broken the game is. Even those who claim to like it. What’s particularly unusual is that all of them explained in detail how one of more combos were completely broken and all of them were different. Seems a bit of a leaky bucket (and no, broken vs broken does not = OK).

          Dungeon Run sounds vaguely familiar though I don’t think I’ve played it. The co-op problem sounds very familiar from other games though. The examples of partial co-operation in games I mentioned all work because you are only ever “cooperating” for selfish reasons πŸ˜‰

  31. Mark Hackney says:

    Heres a vote for Fantasy Flights ‘a song of ice and fire’ card game: Game of Thrones.

    A brilliant rules set which brings fresh mechanics and strategy to ccg type games, manages IMHO to increase the ‘feel’ of complexity and choice rather elegantly, without burdening players with an exercise in advanced mathematics.

    Cards are beautiful and if you are a fan of the books they are also superbly thematic in their character and play style. FFG have also developed their LCG business model (infinitely less git-ish than the ccg format) which can have the occasional whiff of GW inspired practice, but not strong enough to be detected through your current sinus problems!! πŸ˜‰

    It can be a potential money-drainer… but only by choice – the core set alone is still providing my partner and I plenty of fun πŸ™‚

  32. The Kiwi says:

    Fav new game played this year for me was SAGA.
    My fellow gamers in typical gamer lag fashion got some armys completed for the game.
    I like the rules…simple but good. Battleboard booster abilities is a great twist.
    I like the size of the game. Affordable to collect and means you can spend even more time on individual minatures (building and painting them that is).
    Game length once you get into the groove for it as well is very good. Almost impossible to drag this game out.
    I am over games that require HUGE text books to learn or hold the rules. I am looking foward to playing some Kings of War but I still enjoy Flames of War a hell of a lot (even though it has a big rules book).

  33. Orkula says:

    For me this year it has been Dystopian Wars. I’ve never been a fan of steampunk, but when i saw the first few models on Spartans website, I knew I had to buy it. I’d already played Uncharted Seas, but Dystopian Wars has land, sea and air all in one game. I’ve only played a couple of games (and finally found a use for my Dreadfleet mat and islands) but loved it. Dysopian obviously uses the same basic mechanics as Uncharted Seas, and while the rulebook is a bit all over the place in terms of finding the rules, the rules when you find them are clear and leave little to ambiguity or roll-offs

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve played DW a few times (with friends explaining it) and it has been fun, but the rule book is one of the worst layout jobs I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty enough, but finding the rule you want is a nightmare, and even simply making sense of it from a read through is tortuous. I’ve tried twice and given up twice. Way too many good games with clear rules that I can play instead to be worth the effort fighting against it.

      There appear to be some balance issues as well, though it is hard to be sure given the opacity of the rules writing.

      If the rules had not been translated via the Russian, Chinese and Linear B before they got to English it might be a great game. As it is I’m unlikely to give it much table time.

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