This is towards the end of Christmas ideas, because I know if you’re using of them, you need to plan for the shipping time. And I’m running out of different things to do these lists on. Today’s is like yesterdays where it’s more of a…
Tag: Lord of the Rings
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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I’ve talked with Dwarves and Elves about how they were inspired by Lord of the Rings. But there aren’t any Halflings in Lord of the Rings. There are Hobbits, obviously. So how close are Hobbits to Halflings? Very close, Halflings are the fun loving, food…
Now, last time it was basically games that only played two players. With three players, it isn’t often that you find a game that just plays three players. Most of the time games say 2-4 or 2-5 players, because that sells a whole lot better than a game that needs a very specific number of players. So these are going to be games that I’ve played that I like with three players best.
5. Dead Men Tell No Tales
A cooperative game on the list, this one you are trying to rescue treasure from a pirate ship, dealing with ghosts, skeleton crew (all puns intended), and fires breaking out on the ship. If you have three players you have a nice range of powers, and the ship expands fast enough that you feel like your running around and it’s less contained. This is a tough cooperative game, but it’s a lot of fun, and you get that kind of Pirates of the Caribbean feeling with it. Definitely a game to check out for cooperative game fans, and it has some interesting mechanics with it that I’ve talked about on the action point list.
4. Lord of the Rings
Now, this isn’t the LCG (Living Card Game), this is the old board game. I do think it plays well with four as well as three. But I like it for it’s fast turns, and with three players you feel like you have enough players to have a shot, but it isn’t too long between turns. You’re going to see this come up later as well, the amount of times between turns. Keeping it moving fast is important in games because no one gets distracted or forgets what they are trying to do. I know it’s an older game so it isn’t always the easiest to find, but for someone who is a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, the game does have that travelling feel, and I guess the advantage of playing with five is someone can play as Fatty Bolger.
3. Ticket to Ride
Now, this one is good at any player count, but at three players the board is going to be the most open. So that is going to be the friendliest way to introduce someone to a game that can end up being a little cut throat with routes being blocked. Ticket to Ride, the North American map, is going to play very open and free flowing with three players and is likely going to get another non-gamer to like the train game if played that way. If played with five, or two, the map becomes quite tight and they couldn’t have fun if they get routes stolen before they can get to them just because of card draws. There might still end up being some of that, but it’s going to be less.
2. Dead of Winter
Now, this game can be played with a higher number, but I like it around that 3-4 player range. With two players, I don’t feel like you should play with the betrayer, with four players, the game can drag out a little bit long. With three players there is only one turn out of the three players turns you don’t have something to do. Either your taking your turn, or you at least get to check to see if the player triggers a Crossroads card. Even if you know immediately that the Crossroads card won’t be triggered, sitting through two turns while waiting for yours isn’t too long. Also, the more people there are, the harder it is to coordinate and actually win tough scenarios even if there isn’t a betrayer trying to screw you over.
I think I’ve said this before, but as my favorite game, I have to say I like it at my favorite player count. The reason I like it at three is that with Gloomhaven if it’s only two, you can probably spend more time figuring out the logic of what is going to happen when and really plan it out. With three players, you have to plan what you want to do and try and puzzle it out, but you also need a contingency so that your whole turn isn’t a waste. It forces you to not always do the best move but instead what might be the most versatile move. I also think that with four, it’s going to push that randomness too far out and you are going to have a number of wasted turns, especially if you have a character who isn’t that fast. For that reason Gloomhaven takes the top spot on my 3 player list.
Now, these are my person opinions, you’ll see on Board Game Geek that they disagree with me some (the community there), but these should all be enjoyable at the three player count.
What are some of your favorite games that you think really work the best at three players?
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I always have to add in series, because a lot of the time, my favorite is because they are a series. And a good series can really take a good book and bring it to another level. I’ve also written about bad series before, but that’s it’s own article. Without any more ado, my top 5 Books/Series.
1 The Dresden Files
I don’t think that this will be a surprise for anyone, but I really love this series. Jim Butcher does a really good job creating an interesting urban fantasy world that has some of that classic pulp feel to it while having very interesting villains and characters. The series starts a little slow, but as there is more focus to it, Harry Dresden’s world really takes off.
I really like Stephen King and by far his standout work for me is It. I think that I’ve probably read the book a handful of times or more now. The story is just compelling and the interweaving of the past with the present to fill in the readers knowledge of what is going on works very well. I also like the fact that this book doesn’t fall flat at the end like some of his other books can do. The horror aspect is strong with this book, and Pennywise is a great villain and a valid reason for people to hate clowns.
3 The Reckoners
A series that I’ve talked about some and a game that I’m really excited to play, the Reckoners is a nice different twist on those with super powers. The Epics as the super powered are known in this series are all evil. And the Reckoners are a group of normal people who are trying to to bring some normalcy back to the world and take down the Epics who rule it. It’s a YA series and there’s a bit of it that’s not amazing at a few points in time, but overall, the series is really well done, and it’s just a good super power twist series by Brandon Sanderson.
4 Harry Potter
I’m done with JK Rowling in a lot of ways, she just needs to take her hands off the stranglehold she has on this world, but I really like the series still. There’s something nostalgic about them for me, though I am older than the average who has those feelings about them, seeing as I read them in college. There is just something so magical about the world that allows you to overlook some pretty obvious flaws with it. The story just stands up well, and while the movies might not, the first movie is rough, I will always enjoy going back to the books.
5 Stormlight Archive
More Brandon Sanderson for the list. This series is epic fantasy at it’s best. The leader who didn’t want to be the leader now has to save the people. The slave rising up to save the day, and so many more classic tropes put together, but it feels new and unique and so huge. I mean, the books literally are massive, and the audio books are great because they are 45+ hours long, so you have a good amount of listening time to them. This is the epic fantasy that I’m always hoping to find.
Of course, I’m going to do some honorable mentions as well. My goal will be to the finish off a top 10 with them, like I did with the board games. In no particular order, my honorable mentions:
Lord of the Rings
The Hunger Games
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Swallows and Amazons
What are your favorite book series?
When I was writing about fantasy last, see the Not Your Normal Fantasy article, I touched on a concept that I really didn’t have time to flesh out. That what the difference between high and low magic fantasy settings are. Let’s jump into the top…