Sadly when Spartan Games went under, one of my favorite space fleet battles systems also went the way of the dodo, Firestorm Armada. I heard some rumblings that Warcradle Studios picked up the properties of Spartan Games and wondered if the setting would ever see the light of day again. It appears that Firestorm Armada will be given a second chance.
They are doing an open beta and the rules and other files are available for free (for now). I find it interesting they are also embracing a hexagonal base too. Which looks like a good way to add some delineation of firing arcs. I liked the concept of the range bands for weapon systems and having more arcs of fire will allow for some deft maneuvering over the square bases of old.
Regardless, cool to see the game getting a second life and eager to see the models Warcradle Studios has in the pipe.
A nexus of trade on the periphery of an oasis buried deep within a sandstone canyon, this trade house is a place of rest and resupply for desert travelers and merchants alike. While merchants eagerly trade rumors and exotic goods from their respective regions, they also seek to pay their respects and offerings to an elusive, ancient oracle which resides in the upper chambers. She rarely makes an appearance outside her confines. But the merchants eagerly listen to her rasping voice dispensing visions of the future, parsing out her insights, gleaming what information they can on the most fortuitous routes to take through the surrounding inhospitable terrain. Link.
Deep within the jungle a group of pious researchers in the healing arts have carved out a laboratory and repository of knowledge within cliff walls of the river falls. The surrounding land holds a plethora of herbs and plants, many of which are not fully studied for their medicinal properties. This remote apothecary is a treasure of healing knowledge and a refuge for infrequent travelers that make the trek through the dangerous jungles. It is open to all, but those seeking aid are tasked with a simple request in lieu of payment. The staff of the laboratory only ask that written compilations of their works be deposited in the Grand Arcane Library. The wet and humid jungle climate is simply too harsh an environment for written tomes, and better locales for archiving the results of their medical studies are needed. Link.
The mangroves are cursed according to locals. A labyrinth of trees filled with saltwater crocodiles, venomous snakes, and dangerous to those who don’t know the shores well. But the most dire horrors are the sea hags. It’s said that during a full moon the hags are the most active. The moon’s rays cast the creatures as lovely nymphs. Many crying and wailing softly, their frail looking forms imploring men to come to their aid, only to transform into their true hideous forms and drag their victims under at the last moment. Woe is the lone fisherman that falls prey to their siren’s call. Link.
You’ve tackled the core set multiple times and finally want to look deeper into the abyss that is Arkham Horror. What do you pick up next? Unfortunately the product line for the Arkham Horror LCG has exploded over the years. While it’s great to see the game have tons of support from FFG, wading into the LCG as a new player can have your head spinning on how to expand your card collection. So here are some suggestions.
Do you need a second core? This is a resounding no, a second core is not needed. Maybe four years ago there would be a lot of conventional wisdom behind doing this. But the game is at a different point now. So no, you don’t need a second core set.
I could see years ago why folks felt this way. Sadly, my original criticism of the game still holds true. The core set gives you a taste of the game for up to 2 players. You really cannot do much deckbuilding with just a single core set. Even worse, you can’t explore all the investigator combinations as they rely on dipping deep into a common pool of cards for others.
There is also a dogmatic view it is required to have two copies of certain cards to make any deck viable (notably Machete and for mystic investigators, Shrivelling). Additionally there were neutral skill cards in the core set considered staples for deck building.
The card pool has greatly expanded since then giving you lots of other options. While some weapons might not be on the same efficiency scale of Machete, there are decent variants, and also other tools (Prepared for the Worst) to help a player dig through their deck to find that lone copy if needed. Lastly I’d argue that neutral skill cards are too limiting. You now have lots of other cards which can help bolster lagging skill icons and these have other abilities to boot.
Campaign Cycle Expansions – If wanting to get more bang for your gaming budget, this is a good way to expand your card pool. The campaigns are structured around a big box product that has 2-3 scenarios, new investigators, and encounter cards which are specific to the entire expansion cycle. It’s then followed by 6 additional scenario packs which also have more investigator cards. You can jump into this following a typical release schedule, playing the expansion box scenarios first, and then using cards from each scenario pack sequentially. However, I think it best to get the entire expansion cycle in one go, adding all the investigator cards to your pool from the start.
I would utilize resources to find out what cards would synergize well with investigators you’d want to play. Keep in mind not all campaigns are created equal. I feel some of the more recent ones (particularly the Forgotten Age) were designed for players that have a complete investigator card pool from previous expansions, and the overall cycle difficulty is increased to reflect that.
On the flip side, the Dunwich Legacy and Path to Carcosa don’t really stray much from the gameplay mechanics of the core set. Both have great investigator cards, but you might say Dunwich Legacy feels like a longer campaign akin to the core set. I enjoyed both, and the Path to Carcosa is a community darling. However if you wanted to play an expansion that utilized different game mechanisms, you might want to try out a more recent cycle.
Return to Expansions – To add some longevity to expansion cycles and the core set, FFG released small products titled ‘Return to: (campaign cycle)’ which are decent for adding some replay. However for expanding your card pool they are a poor choice. There will be some additional investigator cards which are commonly higher XP versions of cards in that cycle and/or core set. Another reason to hold off on the Return To expansions are the difficulty level.
If you’ve played a cycle to death and beaten it soundly at the expert level, the Return To expansions might be something you’d be interested in. They add more difficult locations and encounter cards to ramp up the challenge offered by the original versions. If you particularly enjoy a campaign, the Return To expansions add variety and small tweaks to offer more replay. But for expanding your card pool as a primary focus, they aren’t a solid buy.
Stand Alone Scenarios – This is another low priority buy if wanting to expand your investigator card pool. These are 1-2 scenarios intended for a one shot game. While they can be added to a longer campaign, they are really designed for a lone jaunt seeking answers to the mythos. The contents in these packs are geared towards scenario cards, where investigator cards (if any) are intended to be given as rewards for its successful completion.
Investigator decks – These are a wonderful, especially if looking to bolster the card pool for a particular type of investigator. All of them are designed to provide a complete investigator deck, along with additional cards to be purchased with experience as you wind through a campaign. I think that’s the primary strength of the decks. Want to add a 3rd or 4th player to your core set? You can buy these and each additional player will have a complete deck. More importantly, the decks themselves are pretty solid.
These have some good cards which can supplement the lack of duplicate cards in a core set. As an example Azure Flame is a great option to brace up that lone copy of Shrivelling. Sadly the guardian deck, while a good one, doesn’t quite have a replacement for Machete. You could argue that a fair amount of the cards really work best with the investigator they come with. However there’s a good number that’ll work with just about any other investigator. These decks are something to look into if you like a particular investigator class. As they are solely composed of investigator cards they are an ideal product to broaden your player card pool.
A lone keep overlooking a dangerous shoreline. Possibly a desolate outpost to ward off foul but thankfully infrequent, humanoid raiders. Or maybe the only outpost for respite and resupply to ships travelling the inhospitable coast. Link.
Nearly every port city utilizes air tugships to deftly navigate cargo tankers through crowded docks and neighboring industrial districts. Most are honest workers but a few have links to the underworld, either passing on information about choice targets for theft or stealing cargo themselves. But those well versed in the workings of airships know tugship crews are a key resource for information, and also adept at loading and unloading passengers who want to keep off official travel logs. Link.
Blogging was all the rage and jumping into 4E DnD certainly got me excited enough to share my experience. I had stopped playing RPGs for a long while. I drifted to board games and miniature wargames over the years in college (something I still play pretty regularly today). So a new edition of the RPG that got me into the hobby in the early 80s was certainly something to spark that interest again.
It seems that the gaming social media environment has moved on though. I’ve particularly noticed that podcasts and videos are what really captures folks. Gaming blogs of the written word are sort of old fashioned. I’m certainly one following the trend, as I just don’t seem to scroll through my blog feeds as much.
Where does that leave me? Likely not blogging much at all. For the past year it’s been pretty much on autopilot. I’ve enjoyed throwing together Saturday Gaming Spark, an inspirational image with some accompanying text to offer ideas of an adventure or fluff to fill out a GM’s world. That’s pretty much what’s been the content I’ve been regularly putting out.
The blog will still be around. I will once in a blue moon post something. But I expect that this blog will go silent for long spurts. It’s been fun. Time to think about other stuff to throw my creative efforts into.
Giants are unnerving but at least you can bribe a giant. Towering elemental titans, encased in vibrant plants, flowing with primal energy are another thing entirely. And they are absolutely terrifying. Link.
A while back I’ve moved and ended up relocating on the other side of the globe. I had quite a bit of trepidation moving all my miniatures. I use a fast and loose way of storing my figures in plastic boxes, layered on bubble wrap sheets. Good enough to keep the paint job protected but only if the box is kept upright. If I dump it on its side, the figures are going to shift around. Throw in a bunch of jostling of the box and you can expect figures to be clanking against each other (and on the inner sides of the container). I totally expected that my shipped stuff would be tossed around like a beach ball, and stacked sideways or upside down in a shipping container that would make any Tetris player proud.
So I had to try to work out a solution and stuck with bubble wrap. Cutting small sheets, I rolled each figure in wrap with a bit of tape to keep it in place. The key is to make sure it’s lightly snug and not wrapped too tightly. For plastic figures especially, you can inadvertently bend or snap off fragile parts like rifle barrels so don’t wrap too tight. Some figures can even be wrapped two to a sheet, particularly prone figures by having the bottom of their bases facing each other. I dumped them in hard plastic containers, sealed the tops in packaging tape, and was good to go.
It did take some time. Don’t expect to do this in a night. Set time aside to do it. At a leisurely pace, I was able to get about 300 figures completed in a week. I cranked out a lot of figures just watching TV an hour or so a night. You certainly want to get this on your to do list for early packing though. Vehicles and tanks were done similarly, but I made sure to remove turrets and wrap them separately.
How did they ship? Just fine. Granted you have to be prepared to snip tape and unwrap a ton of models (more things to do while watching movies). But I can say my figures, both metal and plastic, made it across the world in one piece.
So if you have the time, consider this a solution for packing your miniatures. While you can buy expensive cases that can keep your figures snugly packed individually in foam it can be costly. For a budget (and a ton of models), wrapping minis in bubble wrap is a cheaper workaround.