Monday, November 26, 2007

Miniatures Games: Battleground: Fantasy Warfare

First of all, let me apologize for the long delay between posts. The holidays snuck up on me.

The second miniatures game I'm going to discuss at length is Battleground: Fantasy Warfare from Your Move Games.

The first time I saw this game was at GenCon 2006. I'll be honest: it failed to impress me. It was a game that couldn't decide what it wanted to be. Was it a board game? A card game?

See, this game doesn't use plastic or metal minis: the units are represented by cards with their stats printed on them. They're also treated so that you can use a dry-erase marker on them.

A few months later, one of my local friends (and a regular opponent of two-player games) was ordering a few decks, and offered to order one or two for me.

I remember thinking to myself, If it sucks, it's not like I've spent a lot. The price is pretty good..

My first decks were Orcs and Elves. We met one Wednesday evening at our local game store, and played. It was ... okay. I know we missed some rules,and had a few other questions. It was enough that I was willing to play more.

It was about a week before I noticed that my decks had different versions of the rulebook. The Elves had the newer rules (if I remember correctly).

So I played a few times with several other friend as well - and started to like it.

Reading through the newer book, it felt more polished - and better. Every new deck has a newer rulebook. The Lizardmen have the newest book so far, and it's really well polished.

So here's how it stacks up:

Assembly Time: A
There is no assembly necessary. None.

Painting Time: A
Again: No work necessary.

Gaming Buddies: B
Even if you don't have any local buddies who are into the game, two starters are pretty cheap so you can get your friends involved.

Tournament Level Cost: A
Each army has a starter box and an expansion box. That's it. There are a few army-building restrictions, but most people will have no problem with just the starter and expansion for their army.

A category I left off my last entry (which was silly) that need coverage:
Rules Difficulty: B-
This game has a fe rules issues, and could be clearer in points. Don't get me wrong: I love the game, but there are a few rules which could use clarification. Thankfully, the designer is very active on BoardGameGeek, so clarifications are easy to come by.

Overall, I give this one a B+. It's a good low-cost way to dip your toes into the miniatures gaming pool.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Miniatures Games: Warmachine

The first miniatures game I'm going to discuss is Warmachine by Privateer Press

Warmachine occupies a special place in my heart. as it is the miniatures game that brought me back into miniatures gaming after a long absence. Games Workshop had burned me with one too many rules revisions and game cancellations, so I was tired of miniatures wargaming.

I saw the Warmachine figures, and thought they were pretty cool. But cool figures weren't enough to drag me back into miniatures gaming.

I have friends who play - again, necessary. But not enough by itself.

Then I read a bit about the setting (which was published as a d20 setting). Again, it was cool - but a good setting isn't enough to get me into a miniatures game.

Then I read about the "No Army Books" concept - every book has units for every faction. This allows players to buy only one book, and have enough information to decide which faction fit their style best. In fact, their plan was to have each additional book split up the same way - each expansion book would boost every faction.

This was enough to get me interested.

Then, they pledged that every piece currently in print would always be tournament legal (and balanced enough for future play). In other words: No obsolescence, no power creep.

That was enough to make me consider the game. For $25, I had a rulebook. After reading it closely, I decided that it sounded worth trying. The rules were simple, clear, and straightforward. Including a stat card with all necessary information (and serving as a damage diagram for some units) was brilliant.

Another $40, and I had a starter box worth about 300 points. A bit more, and I had 200 more points (most tournaments at the time were around 500 points).

A playable (and competitive) tournament force for under $100 is good. When you consider the lack of obsolescence in the game, I consider it a win.

I haven't expanded my forces much past that original purchase. I've purchased a few pieces for their cool factor.

Here is how Warmachine stacks up with my barriers to entry:

1. Assembly Time: C
Warmachine uses all-metal figures. As such, most units require assembly. Some units need more than others.

2. Painting Time: B+
While there is a great deal of detail on most figures, it's not a frustrating amount of detail like you see in some games. This balanced has left a great deal of room for customization.

3. Gaming Buddies: B+
It's popular enough locally, I had no problems finding opponents (and tournaments).

4. Tournament Level Cost: B-
I had a low-level tournament force for under $100. If I want to play in larger tournaments, it won't be horrendously expensive.

Overall, I give it a solid B. The figures are cool, the rules are straightforward, and the game is fun without costing an arm and a leg.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Miniatures Gaming

As I'm sure you've noticed, I enjoy a wide variety of games, and I write about a fair number of them.

But I don't write very much about miniatures gaming. It's not because I don't like minis games - I do. Very much. I just don't play them very often, because of the time investment involved.

There are several elements of minis games that make them harder for me to play regularly:

The first element is the assembly time. Most miniatures games have pieces which are supplied unassembled. It may be as minor a thing as gluing one arm onto a figure - but when your army has numerous figures, the assembly time adds up.

The second element is the painting time. I love painting minis, but the amount of detail we're starting to see on them is astounding. And my skills ... well ... aren't. So it takes me a LONG time to paint figures.

The third element is finding someone else to play. With the number of minis games on the market, it can be difficult to find people who want to play the same games you do. Unless you play Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, or Games Workshop's flavor of the week.

The fourth element is the "Tournament Level" factor - "Official tournaments for our game will range between X and Y Points." Most starter boxes are less than half of X, so you need to do your research to learn what combinations will work. You'll often find that very few tournament armies include units from the starter box, increasing the cost of building the army.

There's a real movement in miniatures gaming right now to make the games more accessible by bypassing one or more of the above steps.

I'll be spending several posts over the next few weeks talking about some of the games which are out there right now, and my impressions of them.

Friday, November 09, 2007


My wife is amused at me - I'm starting to get into AT-43.

So far, I've bought the rules, three army books, and the Operation: Damocles starter.

I get to play tomorrow. For the first time. The rules look good, and I like the figures. Several friends of mine are raving fanatics.

I'll let you know how it turns out sometime next week, when I discuss miniatures gaming in a bit more detail.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Spanish-Language Board Game Sites

My French-speaking friends refer to TricTrac as being the French equivalent.

I know this is a long shot, but does anyone out there know of a Spanish-language equivalent to BoardGameGeek?