Category: News

Gates of Antares getting dropped from Warlord Games and becoming a fan-supported project

I like Bolt Action and the sci-fi offering, Beyond the Gates of Antares is also a fun game using a similar system. GoA always had a sort of uneven rollout. It was first announced as a Kickstarter which got pulled, and Rick Priestley (the game designer) worked with Alessio Cavatore to put out Bolt Action instead, which pretty much exploded. However it was proof of concept that the core GoA mechanics (random activation and pins) were solid, I think it resulted in Warlord giving a nod to Priestly to get GoA out to the gaming public.

You are likely climbing an uphill battle with trying to spark interest in a platoon level, sci-fi skirmish game, as 40K is the wargame leviathan. Even worse you’ve got most of your armies available initially as metal minis. Over time core units for GoA were released in plastic kits, and another boxed set for GoA was put out to lower the bar of entry for new players. There were a few campaign books put out and the model range slowly expanded. Yet GoA just never seemed to get much traction like Bolt Action did for people.

I heard some rumors for a while a new edition was on the horizon, which ended up being somewhat true. However I was surprised to hear Warlord Games dropped support for the game. I first thought there’d be some future for GoA as Skytrex would be taking over the model line from Warlord. However the announcement from the official GoA blog looks like the future for GoA will pretty much be a fan community game. The devs are working on it part time as a side “hobby.” So there is a new draft version of the rules out there and there might be new stuff in the pipe, but it’s pretty much a system with severely limited resources for developing future content. I expect it’ll flounder along for some time and have a few dedicated fans, but looks like GoA will be forever doomed to be that niche system.

It’s such a shame as so many bits of it are solid. Bolt Action has some pretty gamey mechanisms and for a WW2 game, they can accumulate to become rather jarring. I drifted away to Chain of Command simply because lmgs and machine guns were badly implemented in Bolt Action. Along with truncated ranges, it all pretty much flew in the face of historical tactics. So much so, folks didn’t even bother using LMGs and MMGs for a platoon game at all. But in a sci-fi game, rules like this are fine. It’s odd that all the parts a lot of stodgy wargamers grumble about in Bolt Action would be embraced in GoA as fun design choices.

So it’s a shame to hear GoA being dropped from Warlord. It’ll still be around, but I don’t see much growth for the game at all. Especially so for the sci-fi genre as you’ve got so many choices that get solid support with new models. Time will tell, but I don’t expect Gates of Antares to ever expand from that small circle of die hard fans.

Painting Miniatures: Games Workshop Contrast paints

I am not a fan of Games Workshop paints. They are good quality paints but are overpriced. Additionally (and can say this after using a new set of paints recently at a convention) the design of the pots are poor. While the lids allow for applying paint to the brush, paint also pools up on the lip tab and it gets difficult to get a proper seal closing the pots. Seems after time you are either going to have to scrape out a bunch of paint from the lid seal or you’ll have problems with your paints drying out (who knows, maybe the pot design is intentional in that regard).

Nonetheless, GW has introduced a new paint line which has piqued my interest. For folks new to the hobby it might be worth checking out. It appears the paints have a glaze medium already mixed in. In effect you get a thinned coat of paint along with a wash all in one go.

I love this. New miniature painters should certainly be looking at these paints. There is a learning curve using them, one of which is using a specific type of primer. While I balked originally at this, I discovered not only are spray versions available but also primer that can be brushed on (providing a lot more functionality of the paint line).

There is some technique to working with them, applying darker colors, then prime and paint sections you want to have a lighter color. A good coat of varnish is needed. Lastly it looks like applying thicker, heavier coats for the contrast paints are the way to go.

You end up essentially applying both a base coat and a wash in one go. Throw in a light highlight or conventional drybrush, you’ve got a tabletop standard paint job. For a slew of rank and file models this looks like a great product. I’ve suddenly got a positive feeling about finally tackling all my Zombicide minis.

Honestly the results using these paints look promising. While it won’t give you a super fantastic paint job, with careful application you can get decent results and save a bit of time essentially cutting out steps to apply washes. I’m excited to see this out there and hope it opens up more people to taking a stab at painting minis.

New Fiasco in the works

Bully Pulpit games has offered a sneak peek into a new version of Fiasco. Now Fiasco is a game I like but it can be a little bumpy to get the most out of your first few games.

One thing that might be daunting is how wide open game elements can be. It’s interesting that the designer has thought about reining potential outcomes in some, and offering more concrete scenarios. I dig the idea that of sets of cards represent everything you need to play.

For uninitiated folks this might be a fun way to jump into the game and not have to wrack your brain over details of relationships and needs. As a product, it’s an interesting idea how to sell new content. You buy a pack of cards that can have everything in a playset. Even more interesting, you can mix and match playset elements, making games unique and add some replay.

It appears to be striving for a more structured, and a little more approachable, play experience. I always felt Fiasco was a solid introduction to RPGs for people that dabbled in gaming. You didn’t need to worry about character generation and learning any game mechanics like hit points, abilities, or skills. You could just think up a character and play out a scene. However it still could be too cerebral for some folks to get. This new version might offer an easier introduction (and faster playthrough) to the game.

I imagine the idea of cards and more structured game elements will put some off. There is still a huge number of free playsets available, even one done by yours truly though. Regardless glad to see Fiasco getting a potential face lift and maybe another release for more people to enjoy in the near future.

New mini-expansion for Arkham Horror LCG announced

One slight complaint I had with the base campaign for the Arkham Horror LCG was that after a few playthroughs things were going to get repetitive. You’d have the same location cards, the same agenda and act cards, nothing really would change and repetition would creep in. This is alleviated some in the 2nd and 3rd scenarios as there are excess location cards, throwing a little variety into the layouts for those scenarios. I mentioned a small expansion that could add some additional location cards would be great to stretch out the replay of the core set. Seems folks at Fantasy Flight had the same idea.

Return to Night of the Zealot is a new campaign that has just been announced. With roughly 60 cards, this mini-expansion supplements the original core set campaign, adding new agenda and location cards to provide a different experience. Additionally there are new monsters and encounter cards that ramp up the challenge. I’m happy to see this being explored for the core set. A small tweak like having additional location cards really opens up the replay potential for it.

In addition to the new scenario cards are new investigator cards. Most seems to be improved versions for those in the original box. Get a few XP and you can change out a couple of level 0 cards with better versions. On this point I am a little disappointed. It’s wonderful to have more investigator cards for the game, but I wish more were included to lessen the need for buying a 2nd core. Why not also include the full spread of neutral cards and a couple of key level 0 cards for every class? That could potentially allow 3 or 4 people to play and add a ton more value to this expansion.

It’s also alluded that there are challenges introduced into the game. Sort of some type of achievement which might offer additional rewards or player abilities. The details on that seem a bit murky, but might offer a fun side event to the main game. Lastly the packaging seems to allow for you to store all the core set encounter and scenario cards together inside this box, offering a better way to organize your cards. A nice touch to make the packaging more functional.

Despite my niggles, overall I am excited to see this. The jury is out, but I could see this as a solid ‘next step’ purchase for those wanting to get into the game a little more. I’m still working my way through the Dunwich Legacy expansion. Overall it’s great and the base expansion set adds a ton to the game, but I have a reservation with it.

The base expansion set only has 2 scenarios and essentially sets the stage for a full blown campaign. You really need to purchase all the mythos scenario packs to complete Dunwich Legacy. That is a huge buy in. Return of the Zealot offers additional play with just the core set and a smaller initial purchase. If you dig Arkham Horror but didn’t necessarily want to try out a long, extensive campaign, this product seems to be an ideal choice. Something to add to the core set experience, but not require you to purchase a ton of scenario packs to get an entire campaign.

We’ll see how it fares. Tad disappointed that more effort wasn’t made to expand the player count and open deck building options with this expansion. However I’m glad to see the campaign was revisited and some love given to it. Great to see cards added to offer a different play experience and stretch out the replay value of the core set.

New Netrunner core set announced.

I’ll be dipped in poop. Fantasy Flight is releasing a new core set for Netrunner.

On other social media I’ve been lamenting about Netrunner a bit. It was odd that GenCon came and went and the official Fantasy Flight presentation made no comment about the game at all. When pressed there was a non-specific comment about the last data pack being released and potentially rotation hitting before the World’s tournament, but nothing else.

Quietly as the game has evolved and errata crept in, the core set was in a little trouble. Most notable was that Astroscript Pilot was changed so that only one card was allowable in a deck. That really broke the box in a way, making it impossible for a player to make a legal NBN deck out of the core set. Mind you this wasn’t a change made to reflect any tournament games, this was a full out change to the card. So some type of product was needed to fix it.

Additionally rotation for Netrunner has finally hit. To explain for some that are scratching their head, Fantasy Flight introduced a concept of rotating out older expansions. Their expansion packs are released in cycles with each pack part of an overall theme. After a certain number of cycles, earlier expansion packs will drop out of tournament play. The cycles are typically 6 expansion packs, each full cycle being around 120 unique cards. The idea is that after so many years there is a bloat to the competitive game from a huge card pool. Allowing expansion cycles to retire reduces the overload of cards new players have to take in and allow new expansions to do different stuff (since they don’t have to be worried about how it will combine with abilities from card X in the very first card expansion released years ago).

Aside from these expansion cycles however are larger, big box expansions (Terminal Directive is included in this). They’re considered evergreen products. The cards in these expansions, along with the ones in the core set will never rotate out and always be usable for tournaments. A nice stepping stone if you will, that allows new players to expand their card pool on a budget and never have to worry about their cards being retired in 4 or 5 years.

So now it looks like instead of another evergreen expansion, Fantasy Flight decided to go all in and release a new core set. From the blurb on the announcement page, it will be 247 player cards split between 133 Corp cards, and 114 Runner cards. Interestingly, while it will be a new player introduction to the game they will not introduce any new cards.

Something notable is that players that have data packs (card expansions) from the first two cycles, Genesis and Spin will already own all the cards potentially in this set. So it won’t be adding anything new. It also appears to answer a burning questions many have had. What will be replacing staples from the Genesis and Spin cycles now that rotation has come?

Many considered the Genesis and Spin cycles were core 2.0. They had cards that filled in a lot of gaps from the initial core set. So much so that a handful of cards are considered standards to competitive decks even years later. Now it appears that they might have a second life as part of the new core set (and more notably will never rotate out of the tournament scene).

Another very interesting change is the core IDs and a few other cards will be retired. It looks like HB: Engineering the Future has been replaced with Stronger Together. The runner factions have also had a huge shift. The Anarchs how have Reina Roja instead of Noise, while Shapers now have Chaos Theory instead of Kate “Mac” McCaffrey. This is a big change, especially for Anarchs. Some folks have always mentioned Noise was a little too disruptive to the normal game and it looks like from an introductory perspective, Fantasy Flight decided to go in a different direction.

Along with this of course is the removal of some core cards. Looks as if a few icon standards for Anarch (Medium, Parasite, Yog) along with Criminal (Account Siphon and Desperado) will be removed from the game. Another big corp card to leave is Scorched Earth. There’ll be some replacements but not quite the same. I’m surprised by this but think the undercurrent is these core cards have slowly strangled the design space, especially Parasite as ice destruction will always be hovering over any future combos because of this card. Aside from a new distribution of cards and IDs, it looks like there will be new card art. On another small note it also appears the box is a tad smaller in depth, more akin to the Arkham Horror LCG.

I do wonder if some cards might get reintroduced as doppelgangers in function for future cycles. I’m curious if some’ll sneak in the new expansion that was announced. Certainly hope a few will, but maybe it’s been decided that those cards from the core need to be retired for good. Either way, exciting times ahead for Netrunner.

Spartan Games closes shop

It appears that Spartan Games is no more. I enjoyed their space fleet game, Firestorm Armada. But it looks like they couldn’t keep the company viable. A short snippet of their official statement:

“Rebel Publishing Ltd was formed in July 2002 and traded successfully for a number of years. Spartan Games was launched in 2008 and grew rapidly. However, the tabletop games market is challenging and has changed over recent years, and suppliers are predominantly a small number of large well-known names and several small, cottage industry, type businesses.

Initially the business outsourced production but following quality control and production management issues, manufacturing was moved in house between 2009 and 2011. Over this time and since, significant investment was made into machinery and infrastructure. The business also expanded to provide models for a well known video game, moving this into the tabletop games arena. However, significant new development costs, timing issues and the deflection of management time from the core games brands resulted in a significant trading loss for 2015/6. The business was able to continue to trade by raising additional finance and refocusing on core brands, and direct / online trading improved significantly. Results for 2016/17 were significantly improved.

However, despite this it continued to encounter challenging trading conditions and it became clear this month that the company could not continue to service its liabilities, particularly given the burden imposed by the amounts owing to finance companies.”

I wondered about them trying to expand too fast and dabble into too many systems. The Halo property was picked up and offered as another space fleet game which to me was sort of butting heads with Firestorm Armada. I heard there were rumors floating about having another trimmed down fleet ruleset for FA too. A reboot of sorts with Dystopian Wars also got a mixed reception with long time fans.

PlanetFall looked cool and appeared Spartan Games had some interesting ideas mixing it in with FA as a combined planetary invasion game. But makes me wonder with competition of Dropzone Commander, and Games Workshop always having Epic 40K in their back pocket, how the rule system would fare in the long run. It also appears some of their Kickstarter campaigns have been cancelled (see pic below).

I think fun, fleet game systems are sort of lacking and with the vacuum it looks like no one will ever take a real stab at them in the future. Either for fantasy or sci-fi, Games Workshop can just act as a market juggernaut with a re-release of old properties, essentially guaranteeing getting a chunk of cash from die-hard fans and out compete any newcomers. Shame.

If folks still have questions looks like email to spartangames@mail.com is your best bet.

Free Broken Earth Map

a7549-brokenearthA while back I reviewed Broken Earth, a post-apocalyptic setting for Savage Worlds. I liked it. It had a nice flavor of not being too out there as a setting with enough twists and weird mutant stuff to make it interesting. One big gripe I had was the maps however. They were pretty hard to navigate using the book.

Seems a free map is available at Drivethru RPG. It’s still a little sparse on details and certainly keyed for locations in the setting, but overall I think much of an improvement from what was presented in the physical book. Worth checking out, and a shout out to the folks that run the Savage Bloggers Network for circulating this.

Alleycon 2015 is coming…

I’ve been pretty fortunate over the past few years to get into a circle of local gamers. There seems to be a decent community behind a lot of them too. Alleycon will be running next month and what started out as an afternoon of gaming at a local expat restaurant has slowly morphed into a full fledged con. This year it’ll be 2 full days of gaming and geekery September 19 and 20, with a local meetup the night before for beer and trivia.

So if you are in Korea and keen to play some games, do some cosplay, or rub elbows with fellow geeks, be sure to check it out. From what they’ve got listed as events there’s lots to do (or plenty of space to run your own thing). Online registration is open now. Scoop up tickets before they sell out!
Alleycon2015

Jumped off the deep end of miniature Kickstarters with Reaper Bones

ReaperBones3I’ve avoided the siren’s call of Reaper Kickstarter campaigns of past. But the temptation to pick up a slew of minis is just too much. Their current Kickstarter campaign wraps up in less than 3 days. As usual, you get a ton of plastic minis. The bonus for me is that you don’t need to prime them.

I prefer to use tokens for my RPG sessions over using minis. But I am pretty deep into miniature gaming and been taking a gander to some different systems as of late. Pulp Alley looks neat and Frostgrave is certainly on my radar for something to pick up. As a back up, there is always Chain Reaction which is generic enough for a variety of light arms skirmish games. Yet, I’ve heard some cool things about Songs of Blades and Heroes too for fantasy melee. Yeah…. guess I’ll have plenty of games to run with these KS goodies.

6th Gun Savage Worlds Setting

6thGunRPGThose that check my blog out regularly know I love me some 6th gun. It’s a great comic and a setting I mined for my own Weird West game. Deadlands is cool but it’s a little too out there with spooky and steampunk stuff in the setting. I opted for an alternate history with some supernatural bits thrown in.

What I like about 6th gun is for the most part it’s the world today with a smattering of the supernatural. The players themselves are knee deep in it, but the world around them only occasionally steps into the boundaries of this alternate spiritual world. I see it as a little easier fit that Deadlands, which to me needs a bit more work conveying the setting. Deadlands is certainly the wild west, but there are a lot of changes to the landscape. 6th Gun doesn’t have this issue.

While people could dabble in the game setting, I expect it could serve as a great epic campaign too. For folks unfamiliar with the comic, the story revolves around the acquisition of 6 guns which give the wielders supernatural powers. I cant totally see a game where players focus on a single gun, or try to wrestle a larger story where all 6 come into the picture and the greater implications of their role in the fate of the world. There is a lot to toy around with here.

So the kickstarter campaign is running along and has reached it’s funding goal. It’s all extras from here on out and some look nice. I particularly like that there are add-ons that incorporate picking up the comic, and those minis look pretty cool too.

If you want to dabble in a supernatural western setting, this looks like a good fit. While not quite as gonzo as Deadlands, 6th Gun should still scratch that itch of the wild west with one foot firmly planted in creepy territory, and not sway too far into steampunk like Deadlands does. Might be worth a gander for folks.