With Day 1 of Gen Con down, my main dealer hall day comes up and I have several games I want to see in action to judge if they are shelf-worthy.
First up was the Corvus Belli booth. As I said in Day 1 we wanted to check out Defiance, the upcoming Kickstarter due to start later this year. There was only one spot left so I had Colton join in and I’d get the notes later. Instead, I went and learned Aristea.
The game is quite good as a light skirmisher. It doesn’t seem to have the high complexity of Infinity and uses specialized dice. That is a little unfortunate as I like Infinity’s unique combat system. The combat system is the same in Defiance so you’ll see it there too. I may end up getting into this game but not yet. As I came to find at this convention, there are a lot of rival games releasing into this (already crowded) space.
Defiance seemed nice to Colton but the demoer was running the AI and that seemed like a full time job so I don’t know how fun that will be to play when a good chunk of your time is spent crunching through AI.
Speaking of AI, after an hour in the hall, our time was up for the opening bell and we had to get over to CMON’s booth to check out their electronic interface/board game combination, Teburu. They confiscated phones and had us sign a waiver before entering but I was still able to get a shot of their tricked out room from the windows on the outside.
The game setup was for their upcoming Zombicide: Evolution, an app-driven companion game set in the Zombicide universe. It featured a narrative story that took you through the normal rules of Zombicide and added some additional multimedia effects like cut scenes, music, and automated rules arbitration.
The biggest thing to me in the whole experience is that it just plain worked. There was no awkward fiddliness with the integration of the electronic components. At no point in our demo did the battery operated dice fail or do something buggy, the sensor on the bottom of our minis worked great every time, and I got no sense of barrier between players and the system. It was like the Descent app that we’ve used quite a bit but now you don’t have to tell the system what your dice results were or where you were searching/interacting. The placement of your figures or the rolls of the dice automated things seemlessly.
The biggest question is going to be price. I don’t care for Zombicide anyway so this isn’t going to get me into the system but I’m sure they won’t be limiting things here so I’m very interested in where they take it.
After Teburu, we were turned loose on the dealer hall again and we saw some interesting paint schemes for Kingdom Death. I don’t have any skin in this game but the simplified “marbling” was very appealing for this game’s setting and components. I took several shots to capture the technique.
The technique seems really easy and nice to bring out the details without killing yourself painting every model up to even a tabletop standard.
Next up, Marvel Crisis Protocol by Atomic Mass Games. The Atomic Mass booth had a lot of good tables and dioramas set up so I went nuts taking photos. Usually it was for the game itself but I always wanted ideas on my Batman boards as well.
So. Yep. Lots of minis and some good paint jobs as well. The figure sculpts look good and will be GW-like hard plastic sprues. While I took a lot of shots of the game, don’t mistake that the game actually appeals to me. Sadly, it really doesn’t due to some pretty big barriers to me.
The first and maybe biggest issue is the scale. They are going for 40mm scale (as measured to the top of the hero’s head, using Captain America is the standard sized “human”). 40mm is pretty big (aligns with “O” scale model trains) and basically prohibits these figures or the terrain needed to play crossing over from any of my other games.
I’m a stickler for scale’s matching as much as possible. If things are fantastic or mythical and have no real world equivalent, sure, the scale can get sloppy but the majority of Marvel’s characters are human and while the designers tried to spin it that they wanted the characters to seem larger than life, I just found the lack of a standard scale disappointing. The cynic in me also can’t help but wonder if they did it distance themselves from Knight Models’ Marvel game that go scuttled earlier this year. Mechanic’s wise there are a lot of similarities between the two systems but the same can be said of Monolith’s Batman City Chronicles and Knight Models’ Batman Miniature Game. I still say Knight Models has Monolith beat easily but I don’t know enough about either of these Marvel games to judge.
The designers lean on Star Wars Legion from Fantasy Flight Games in a lot of ways. From the little elbow measuring devices to the X-wing-style dials, I see a lot of FFG influence even though they are a separate publisher (but still under the larger Asmodee umbrella). Mechanically, they said the game was more complicated than the 4 page rules of GW’s Age of Sigmar but not quite the complexity of Legion. I’m not really sure what to make of that. I didn’t not think Age of Sigmar to be very simple nor did I think Legion was very complex so the bar they are setting has a pretty narrow range.
When looking further at the rules, it seems pretty simplistic. It has a Line of Sight mechanic similar to Mantic’s Walking Dead in that it is just a line drawn between bases and if anything overlaps, you gain some slight cover. It has one of my big pet peeves where the model does virtually nothing in the game except look pretty. They aren’t even using volume on a base and even the basing decision on sizes aren’t really that cohesive either. These things may get tightened down before release or before they fully develop their Organized Play, which, btw, sounds a little bizarre.
In the FFG presentation they hosted, the design team came out to say that they would have a robust Organized Play and Tournament scene and then went on to explain how they didn’t really want “winners” and “losers” so they were going with a sort of “everyone wins” approach. They said they didn’t want players to fall into the same model of preparing a force, getting trounced, retooling it for the better, and trying to win again later. They explained this as a negative but as a competitive player, all I could think of was that they wanted to put together some “participation award” new age nonsense. I really don’t know what that guy was trying to get across but I took as a bad omen.
And lastly, we come to the art. I can be pretty picky on art sense it ties in a lot of what I try to pimp out. When we saw the presentation, Colton and I both were a little skeptical on their art but gave them the benefit of the doubt since it was being hosted on dim projector screens. Seeing the art in person, I have to wonder what they were thinking. The art, while not terrible is also not that good. It seems like animation cells (not in a good way) and there isn’t much of the dynamic comic art that most of these heavy IP games are known for. It’s not like they even need a ton of art as there are no cards or extra art pieces per character. It is really just one character card describing abilities and stats. FFG, shortly before the Crisis Protocol announcement, showed off its new LCG in the Marvel universe and it has tons of good art. If not pulled straight from the comics themselves then imitated by an artist that knows how to achieve the look. Crisis Protocol art looks pale by comparison and seems like either a sad misstep or a deliberate (and bad) way to save a few bucks.
If you can’t tell already, Crisis Protocol is not for me. There is very little to like in this entry to another crowded and highly competitive field.
Wandering away from the disaster that was Marvel, we went and saw what Warcry from GW was all about. I had pretty low expectations going in since Kill Team really fell flat last year.
We got in at the right time and started up a brief demo. I quickly saw that this was not the over-bloated 40k Kill Team game but rather something new and more in line with what I was wanting. Warcry is a small (8-12 figure) skirmish game set in Warhammer Fantasy’s brutal universe. It plays quick and easy with no opposed rolls, just attack and deal damage. Things get beat down quickly and the game is simple and quite fun.
The game comes with a ton of stuff (and should with its $150 price point). It follows the modern trend of “everything you need in one box” that includes two factions, full set of terrain, rules and a play mat. While we didn’t stick around to run multiple rounds, we got the meat of the game quickly and it was enough to know that I really liked where this game was going and it pushed Aristea down on the acquisition list. Good on you, GW.
With a little bit of time left before I had to run out and get my stuff for the two events I was running, we stopped by the TTCombat booth again and saw they added a new model to the case. This oversized Wolverine seems interesting but there wasn’t any info and the booth people were keeping mum on the story.
Knight Models had a booth for the first time so we stopped by and checked out some of their minis including the upcoming Watchmen set. The models for that set look fantastic and I’m curious to see how they will be implemented. The awesome Dumbledore figure is pretty amazing too but seems more diorama than actual game piece.
With my dealer hall time spent, I set up for my first event, PitchCar Deathrace. I was able to get my Loop Kickstarter in time and while I didn’t bring the Loop piece, I did add the new split and size conversion pieces to my map.
As always, the event was a sellout and a lot of fun for all. I was able to time the game a bit better this year and it didn’t runover while still finding a clear winner. I’ll need to go back to the drawing board a little as some players found some loopholes in my custom weapon cards.
After a quick dinner, it was time for some Catacombs. I did a little better this year and preloaded the boards to make it easier for the players to run the games themselves (with guidance) and was a lot less stressful for me as I didn’t have to try to find pieces for everyone right away. We got up to three tables this year so the turnout was fantastic. Aron West, the designer and publisher, was able to stop by and say “hi” while also lending support to the game as well.