This weeks episode of #10MinMarvel takes a look at some news coming out of GenCon. The creation of a new Marvel board game. We also talk about the Wolverine Podcast, The Long Night and The Lost Trail. I look at how it compares to the […]
Tag: Fantasy Flight
I’m on the road to GenCon! So I’m writing this ahead of time, and I’m excited to be getting there. So disclaimer like before, I don’t know anything that Fantasy Flight might be talking about on their In Flight report. But what are the expansions […]
Board Game Battle – Star Wars Imperial Assault vs Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth vs Mansions of Madness
We have a triple threat match this time as we have three heavyweights from Fantasy Flight facing off. The reason that they get to face off is because all of them have app integration.
What this means for all these games is that you don’t need to have someone playing the bad guys. Too often in a pseudo dungeon crawl you can have a situation where it feels like the one person running the monsters is up against everyone else and more facilitating their fun than having as much fun themselves. There are then games like Gloomhaven where no one has to run the monsters, but everyone still has to do stuff on the monsters turn. In these games, you get an app that does that, it tells you the rules for moving the monsters and what you have to deal with them. Or where to place tiles and what the puzzles are.
Let’s meet the contenders.
Imperial Assault is a Star Wars game where you are playing adjacent to the main characters, since you wouldn’t want to play as Luke and have him die before he can blow up the first Death Star. You, instead, play around the edges of the Star Wars world and the big stories that are happening in the original trilogy. It uses it’s app to help you know when to activate storm troopers and other troops out there, but you still have to go through, when someone activates and see which of the moves that they need to do.
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
JiME, as I’ll shorten it to, takes place between the movies, I believe, and it gives you an interesting combination of characters to play with. You can play as Gimli, Legolas, Bilbo, or Aragorn from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but they also have created two separate characters for the story as well whom you can play as. In my opinion, I get why they picked some main characters, but I’d have preferred if all the characters were side characters who no one has heard of because they aren’t in the books, and you run across characters like Gimli, Legolas, Bilbo, and Aragorn. The app, in this case, runs a ton for you. You build your board, you put down markers, and you have you cards and character information in front of you, but when you’re interacting with a marker or fighting a bad guy, the app helps walk you through what you need to know. With the map, it also will be unique each time.
Mansions of Madness
Welcome to the world of HP Lovecraft. It’s almost impossible to a Fantasy Flight Board Game battle without mentioning something to do with Lovecraft. In this one, you take on a role of an investigator and you try and find your way through a mystery as you’ve been called to a mansion or somewhere else where something mysterious to do with the elder gods is happening. The app helps create a unique setting every time you play through the game or at least a few different ones, for each scenario. It also gives you those tokens to interact with that you place on your unique board and as you delve into the story being told. It also controls the monsters, letting you know what they can do or whom they will go after. It also keeps track of when the end game is coming up for you.
I should point out that all of these borrow from each other, though, Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, borrows a lot from both of them. You can kind of tell the order that Fantasy Flight put them out because of that. JiME works well, and I like the campaign aspect to it, which you get in Imperial Assault, but you don’t get in Mansions of Madness. I also like the combat in JiME, it works well, and comes directly from Mansions of Madness. It’s simple and clean and lets you know what to do, whereas with Imperial Assault there’s more that you have to dig through to make the combat work.
I do think what separates them the most is the story. Now, I like all the worlds that they are set in. Lord of the Rings is a great fantasy setting. Star Wars is an iconic Sci-Fi . Lovecraft is synonymous with horror. So Fantasy Flight has basically everything covered that I like. I would say that JiME, thus far, seems to have the weakest story. Now, I don’t think it’s all that week, I guess I should say, JiME feels like you should be playing something more epic than you are because you have Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn, and to a lesser Bilbo, you want to play through the trilogy or The Hobbit, but instead you’re off dealing with bandits. Imperial Assault would have had that feel, but you get to see moments with Vader, you are playing through parts of the movies, but because you’re the E-Team (not even good enough to be the B-Team), it doesn’t matter if you die, and it doesn’t matter if you orbit out from the main Star Wars story for a while. And with Mansions of Madness, you’re playing a single story at a time, and there isn’t a particular story that people really expect when they are getting something from Lovecraft, they just know Cthulhu.
JiME gets the early advantage because it takes mechanics from both and it’s able to counter the moves. However, it ends up throwing some predictable moves when it comes with the characters that it has. It gets bounced, but puts up a good showing. We get down to Imperial Assault which throws some strong nostalgia haymakers but eventually tries a complicated move with it’s bad guys and gets caught.
1…. 2…. 3….
Mansions of Madness
The champion of the app companion Fantasy Flight games is Mansions of Madness which has done so much creative with it’s game and it isn’t just in Mansions.
Now, I will say, I’d always be glad to sit down and play any of these games. These are three of the top contenders out there to take down Gloomhaven, Gloomhaven is just too good, but I’m going to be getting these to the table coming up here on Malts and Meeples.
Have you played these games? Which one is your favorite?
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Between campaign building, I want to go back to some of the board game lists. And this is probably my favorite mechanic for a game, where people can do things just a bit differently than other players. 5. SmallworldThe lightest game on the list by far, […]
I’ve talked a lot about theme in board game before and how I like board games with a good theme on them. Instead of talking so much about why I like themes in board games, I think I’ve covered that decently well, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite themes in board games and why I like them.
Now, that could be less exciting, because there are a lot of generic themes out there, and a lot of games that are using themes over and over again. Especially now with copyrights not being extended to kingdom come, there are more works that are now public domain. A few years ago Sherlock Holmes became public domain and HP Lovecrafts work some time before that.
So what are some of my favorite themes on board games?
Epic Fantasy –
Super generic, but I really do enjoy a good fantasy game. Especially since a lot of them have a better developed story than most. Now it helps that I’m a big fantasy fan, so I can quickly understand what is going on with the various fantasy tropes and it allows me to get quickly into the story being told. Games like Gloomhaven and Legends of Andor do a good job of baking story into the actual game play themselves. I think what I like about the fantasy theme on board games is that it gives me a bit of that feeling of playing an RPG in a lot of the games and I can make my decisions like I am that hero. In a lot of ways it scratches my itch to play an RPG when I can’t be in a game as a player or as the GM.
I did a big board game battle post about all of the Fantasy Flight games that I’ve played with the HP Lovecraft world theme on them. I’m a bit surprised with how main stream Lovecraft is in board games, but it works in most of the cases. I will say that it gets slapped onto a lot of games that don’t need it. Like in Unspeakable Words, you’re just doing a pretty standard word game, but it has the Lovecraftian theme and cute Lovecraftian artwork on it. Now, that’s fine because it takes a game that wouldn’t have artistic direction and gives it some, but it’s kind of silly. Then there are games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Arkham Horror LCG that are just steeped in theme. Those games seek to make you feel like an investigator of some background who is really going through this world, dealing with the monsters, progressing the story, looking for clues, and sometimes dealing with the events of the normal world. It also does a good job of setting an aesthetic that is generally pleasing to play in but also being a horror focused game. It really doesn’t rely on blood and guts like some horror games would.
Another super generic option, like epic fantasy, but I figured I should say more than just Star Wars. While the Star Wars games are great that I’ve played, Imperial Assault and Star Wars: Rebellion, there are other sci-fi games out there that I’ve liked as well. It’s interesting because you have a wide variety of scope with games in the Sci-Fi genre. Games like Star Wars: Rebellion, Battlestar Galactica, and Cosmic Encounters are planet level Sci-Fi games. And while Cosmic Encounters doesn’t feel like quire as grand a scope as Rebellion, it’s still a bigger game in some ways. Compare that to Imperial Assault and Clank! In! Space!, those games have a focus that is much more on a smaller part of the world. You’re on a planet or in a space ship dealing with things, but you aren’t as worried about the whole cosmos. Having that variety is what makes Sci-Fi such a strong genre to me.
Now, there are so many more genres out there, but you’re not going to have that much issue finding games in these genres, and I tend to gravitate towards them. There is one that I want to see more of though.
Weird West –
I really enjoy the weird west setting. Some might say that it’s a bit Lovecraft mixed with the wild west, and that’s probably pretty accurate. But when people say a Lovecraft game, that’s generally meaning 1920’s and Arkham area. Weird west can be a lot more than just that, and I like Shadows of Brimstone for that, though I’ve only gotten it to the table once. I need to go back and fix the monsters and hopefully stream that game at some point in time so I can actually play it some more. But the game is interesting and has some cool big moments to it.
Now, some might say this is part of fantasy, but I think I would qualify it differently than “Epic Fantasy”. Theming of games like Lords of Hellas, which I haven’t played or Santorini which is really an abstract game, but has the Greek mythology added to it, that’s a theme that I can get behind. What makes it generally pretty thematic is that all the deities have their own powers which really do track with the mythology that you’re in. Even if you aren’t going the standard Greek, there are now a lot of games with Norse Mythology. Blood Rage on the cards you draft does a really good job of creating that mythological feel for each deity that you can draft cards from. In fact, those cards are where you really get the theme of Norse Mythology in Blood Rage.
I could go on talking about more themes in board games. There are games with a heavily influenced theme by Japan and/or Anime. There are games t hat have cool adventuring themes that give you the Indiana Jones feel. There are a few themes that I’ll generally avoid though. If a game has the “trading in the Mediterranean” theme, that’s a hard pass for me. I’m also kind of done with the zombie theme at this point. I do like Dead of Winter, so I’m not opposed to it, but a zombie themed game isn’t all that interesting to me most of the time.
What are some themes you like in board games. What are themes that you want to see more of in board games?
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This is a game that I’ve talked about some in previous articles, but I wanted to do a proper TableTopTakes review of it. Legacy of Dragonholt is a combination of an RPG and choose your own adventure book. However, it does feel different from something […]
If you go into Fantasy Flight Game Center (or to their website), you see loads and loads of board games that have Star Wars on the side of the box. They have X-Wing, Armada, Rebellion, Imperial Assault, Legion, and Destiny, and I’m probably missing a couple, not to mention the RPG where they have Force and Destiny, Edge of the Empire, and Age of Rebellion. It’s really cool to see them because they all give you different feels for games, Rebellion lets you feel like you’re controlling the over arching saga of the original trilogy. X-Wing gives you space dog fights, and Armada gives you big interstellar combat. Imperial Assault gives you quick hitting rebel missions and Legion pits larger forces against each other. And Destiny gives you a card game with Star Wars art and a lot of fun dice.
These are all games that Fantasy Flight has taken from a license and turned into a ton of products. I’m pretty sure I’m evening missing a game. There are also other games like the Game of Thrones living card game or the new game that came out from CMON, Song of Ice and Fire. There’s a whole system of games, the Legendary Encounters based off of Marvel Legendary (another licensed property) for Alien, Predator, Firefly, Big Trouble in Little China, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now X-Files. The point of writing all of that was that there are a ton of board games that have cool properties behind them and there are more coming out all of the time.
Unlike Robin Hood and Lovecraft’s work which can be slapped on anything because they are public domain, there are a lot that need to be licensed. So, what are some of these other stories that I can to see board games made out of?
I’m going to give the title of the book, TV show, movie, and some description of what I think would make it an interesting game or how I might go about building a game. I’m also going to be avoiding things that I know are already board games, you might not know there is a Kung-Fu Panda game, but there is, so I won’t be making my own for that.
R.I.P.D. is a movie and comic about a cop who dies and then becomes a cop in the after life taking crazy bad guys. I like the theme for this one and think that with a bunch of minis and different cops who you could play, it could be a fun game playing against a scenario(s). You’d be trying to defeat different bad guys, or maybe a scenario would have you get information while trying to survive long enough to get back out. There’s a good number of stories that you could do with it, and while it is a lot of the current meta, I’d lean into the supernatural. Give the players and monsters abilities that they can use that are a bit game breaking, but come at a cost to the monsters of the players. That would then give the game a unique feel as compared to other scenario based games because it’s the last ditch sort of move instead of other variable player powers.
Now, there is something coming out that can have some tie in to this series by Patrick Rothfuss, but I want to take it in a different direction than that game. That one looks like it is more about the whole fantasy world, and like I said, it isn’t an actual game on the series, it just has a module for it, so it counts for me. I’d focus on the time at the university. People could take on different students, doing different things for different classes and the game would be split into four or five parts which would be different years at the school. Each turn you’d take an action to either study, go to classes, make money, or if you are playing a character who has money, just get money. You’d play as different characters who are studying at the university and at the end of each round you’d score points and depending on how you did and your income, you’d get your tuition set for the next year which would take money from you, and you’d repeat the process. If you didn’t have enough money, you’d be limited to actions in town or going and taking out a loan to be able to stay in school, but that would be costly for you. I think you could make this game interesting by having characters increase in skills, do sneaky things, and complete missions for teachers. I think I’d then have the players try and get as many points as they could in completing their education or at least advancing in it.
Killjoys is a space television series about a crew who picks up criminals and turns them in and deals generally with all the problems that are going on in their world. I don’t think I’d make my game as dramatic as the show, but I do think I’d set it up so that it really focuses on bringing in those criminals like the earlier part of the show does. It would somewhat be a pick-up and deliver game where you fly to a planet, pick up what you need, and deliver it back for money. However, the longer you go, the more troubles you are going to run into completing missions and also the more events and worse events that will be happening to the Quad, the area of planets you are working in. In the end, the winner would have the most money at the end of the game from bringing in criminals, but you have to decide how to use it because you might want to upgrade your ship, weapons, or crew to make the jobs easier.
I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard of one besides some company branding an ouija board with Stranger Things, because of money. For those who don’t know, Stranger things is about a girl who escapes from the grasp of an evil company that is messing around with her abilities and is also looking into another dimension, the Upside Down where there are monsters that start bleeding over into this small town. I would make this as an asymmetric game for up to five people as that’s about how it works in the game. There are the kids, the teenagers, the adults, the company, and the upside down. The upside down and the kids would be required to play the game, but the rest could be optional. As the kids, you are trying to keep Eleven safe and close the portal to the Upside Down, as the Upside Down, you are trying to capture all the kids or get enough monsters into the world that you win. If you were the adults, your goal would to find one of the kids who gets lost in the upside down, and as the teens your goal is to kill as many monsters as possible. Finally, as the company, your goal would be to keep Eleven alive, but have her under your control, and not have anyone else win for a certain number of rounds. I could also see cutting it down to three factions and having the people of the town, adults, teens, and kids, all be the same person. But I think it could be interesting, each group having their own special powers and goals that they are going for in the game.
What are some stories that you think would turn into a good board game? What are some of your favorites that are already board games?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
Yes, this is a four way showdown between the heavy hitters that I’ve played of the Lovecraftian world. Now, there are lot more Lovecraftian/elder god games out there, including Eldritch Horror that could have joined the list. In fact Eldritch Horror would have made a […]