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Tag: Arkham Horror (page 1 of 2)

A Very Gamey Halloween!

Halloween

If there’s one night of the year that’s perfect for getting friends and family together to play boardgames, it’s Halloween night! Boardgames are perfect for horror and supernatural themes, and there’s monsters and zombies galore out there if you like a few chills with your gaming. Prepare yourself, and together we’ll investigate a few …

Elder SignWhen it comes to horror on Halloween, Fantasy Flight Games has it covered. Of course there are the old classics Fury of Dracula and Arkham Horror, but the latest addition to the horror boardgaming pantheon is Elder Sign, and it’s perfect for fun, fast halloween dice-rolling fun! Elder Sign is a cooperative dice game of supernatural intrigue for 1-8 players by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson, the designers of Arkham Horror. Players take the roles of investigators racing against time to stave off the imminent return of the Ancient One. Armed with tools, allies, and occult knowledge, investigators must put their sanity and stamina to the test as they adventure to locate Elder Signs, the eldritch symbols used to seal away the Ancient Ones and win the game.

If you like Arkham Horror you’ll love Mansions of Madness, a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for 2-5 players. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find, and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact. If you feel like re-enacting an H. P. Lovecraft story on Halloween with some friends, this is the game for you. Comes with 32 detailed plastic miniatures of the investigators and the horrors that await them (check out our painting guide).

The stars are right, and terrors from beyond space and time or breaking through… when Cthulhu rises, we’re all doomed… but whose downfall will be the most entertaining? In Atlas Games’s Cthulhu Gloom you control the fate of your Lovecraftian protagonists, guiding them down a path of horror and madness to an untimely death. Meanwhile, you’ll play positive cards on your opponents to keep them happy, healthy and annoying alive. The transparent cards reveal or obscure the effects of cards below, and the totals showing through determine your score. When one group finally falls prey to the interdimensional doom that awaits us all, whoever has suffered the most terrifying tale wins! The Cthulhu mythos is a perfect fit for the hilariously dark card game of Gloom, a game that brings new meaning to the description ‘dark humour’. This new standalone version of Gloom features Transformation cards that mutate a character for the remainder of the game, no matter which modifiers might come its way later; and what’s more, the character’s image is replaced with ‘something hideous and slimy’. Perfect for Halloween!

Betrayal at House on the HillAnother Halloween classic is Betrayal at House on the Hill, and the second edition is here from Wizards of the Coast. The creak of footsteps on the stairs, the smell of something foul and dead, the feel of something crawling down your back – this and more can be found in the exciting refresh of this Avalon Hill favorite. This fun and suspenseful game is a new experience almost every time you play—you and your friends explore ‘that creepy old place on the hill’ until enough mystic misadventures happen that one of the players turns on all of the others! Multiple scenarios and a different layout for every game cover just about every B-movie horror situation you can imagine—and then some! Hours of fun and chills for all your friends and family, and the ideal laugh-out-loud game for Halloween.

In Eaten By Zombies!, the brand new deck-building game direct from Essen, players strive to survive as the horde of the living dead make it their goal to force you to join the crowd. You must work with or against the other survivors to be the last one standing. No… not standing, cowering in the corner crying for their mommy.

This well-reviewed game is a combination of card drafting, hand management and survival horror with a few dirty tricks and a healthy dollop of dark humour thrown in. With a set of over thirty different cards to start with, no two games will ever be alike. Every turn you must venture out from your safe house and scavenge for Swag. But not so fast, because the undead have other plans for your brains. Every day a horde of fresh zombies will be waiting for you, and over time the threat gets greater. With the help of your swag (the cards in your hand) you must survive any way you can, and if you can escape or kill the horde, you may scavenge the remains of the desolate suburbs for more swag. With the right stuff and a few good friends to outrun, you may just make it through this alive… well, no probably not. But being the last one to die a slow, painful death means you can claim sole victory!

There’s just a few of the many, many boardgames available that are perfect for a scare and a laugh on Halloween night. Plan your scary boardgaming evening now!

What’s Hot: Curse of the Dark Pharoah (Revised)

Curse of the Dark PharoahIt seems harmless enough. Just a room full of dusty old antiquities, dug up from some old tomb in Egypt. Miskatonic U’s faculty are all a tizzy, of course, but why did Professor Armitage go all pasty-white when he saw the Pharaoh’s sarcophagus?

The weirdness didn’t start until the next night …

Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh Expansion (Revised Edition) is an updated version of the original The Curse of the Dark Pharaoh expansion released in 2006.

The original Curse of the Dark Pharaoh was the first of Arkham Horror’s many successful expansions, and has seen a great number of printings since it was originally published almost five years ago. However, as FFG developed the Arkham Horror play experience over the years, this expansion came to become the one that deviated most from their later design vision for the game, and over time came to stand apart from the Arkham Horror family as a whole.

With this Revised Edition, the Arkham Horror design team has remade Curse of the Dark Pharaoh from the ground up, incorporated errata, re-balanced cards to better fit with Arkham Horror’s current ecosystem, and added new game elements.

Focusing on the thematic game play, amazing art, and strange tales that makes the original Arkham Horror game such a fan-favorite, this expansion includes 166 new cards:

22 Exhibit Items, ancient relics from the visiting exhibit.
18 Barred from the Neighborhood cards for unlucky investigators.
4 Benefit and 4 Detriment cards with new and intriguing effects.
45 new Arkham Location cards, 27 new Gate cards, 18 new Mythos cards, 21 new Spells, and 7 new Allies to make Arkham Horror bigger, scarier, and more exciting than ever before!

What’s Hot: Miskatonic Horror

Miskatonic HorrorA recent find at Miskatonic University has unearthed even more mysteries pertaining to the strange happenings in Arkham, Massachusetts. While the worshippers of the Ancient One grow in strength, the stalwart defenders of this sleepy town are put to the ultimate test.

It’s here, the new expansion for Arkham Horror! Miskatonic Horror builds upon the materials found in the ample library of other Arkham Horror expansions. While the components and rules found in Miskatonic Horror can be enjoyed with only the Arkham Horror base game, the more expansions you incorporate, the more aspects of Miskatonic Horror you can enjoy!

Miskatonic Horror adds nearly 450 new cards and several new sheets, including: new Skill, Gate, and Mythos cards for the Arkham Horror base game; additional Exhibit Item cards for Curse of the Dark Pharaoh; new Injury, Madness, Dunwich Location, and Dunwich Horror cards for Dunwich Horror, as well as an all new Dunwich Horror Herald sheet; more Blight and Act cards for The King in Yellow; new Kingsport Location, Epic Battle, Blessings of Noden, and Visions of Hypnos cards for Kingsport Horror; over 20 new Cult Encounter cards for The Black Goat of the Woods; new Innsmouth Location and Innsmouth Look cards for Innsmouth Horror; and additional Relationship cards and Reckoning cards for Lurker at the Threshold. Plus there are new Player Reference sheets and a new Institution variant!

With so much stuff packed into this expansion, Miskatonic Horror is the ultimate box of mind-bending goodies for the dedicated Arkham Horror fan! Grab it now—before not having it drives you insane …

Upcoming Fantasy Flight Goodies!

There are some great new games in the pipeline from Fantasy Flight Games, well-known publisher of high quality, thematic, exciting games. For those of you who haven’t been keeping an eye peeled on their website, let’s check out some of the goodies!

Rune AgeRune Age
This is FFG’s entry into the most popular game genre of recent times—deck-building games. Set in their fantasy world of Terrinoth (also the setting for games such as Runewars, Descent, Dungeonquest and Runebound), Rune Age is for 2-4 players and, uniquely, driven by scenarios that set the parameters of each game. So a game can be competitive or cooperative. Players develop their decks of cards as the game progresses, playing one of the four factions first introduced in Runewars: the Daqan Lords, the Latari Elves, the savage Uthuk Y’llan, and Waiqar the Undying and his undead hordes. Each of these factions has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each offers a wealth of different deck-building options. Definitely one to look out for if you enjoy deck-building games like Dominion or 7 Wonders!

Elder SignElder Sign
Arkham Horror, the game of investigation, combat and terror set in the horrific worlds of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, is a Fantasy Flight success story and has spawned many expansions. Recently we saw a new spin on Arkham Horror which concentrated more on storytelling with the very atmospheric Mansions of Madness game. But fans of Lovecraftian mystery and horror can never get enough! FFG’s latest announcement is a dice game called Elder Sign, in which investigators desperately search a museum for Elder Signs to stave off the coming of an Old One and the destruction of the universe as we know it! This is looking like a clever mix of card game and dice game. As in Arkham Horror, there’s a selection of Ancient Ones to defeat, a Doom track that ticks inexorably down to their arrival, and the imminent threat of sanity-blasting horrors around every corner. The museum the adventurers explore is built up using Adventure cards, and different investigators have unique talents, strengths and weaknesses which you must strategically manage in order to defeat the game’s challenges. Best of all, you can enjoy all the fun and atmosphere of a Lovecraftian game in just one to two hours!

Blood Bowl Team ManagerBlood Bowl Team Manager
A lot of people thought this one was vapourware, since it was first announced way back early last year. It seems it’s undergone some heavy development and changed from a deck-building game into something completely different! 2-4 players guide their teams through a series of head-to-head highlights, adding Star Players, equipment upgrades, new staff and gathering new fans, all in a lead up to the decisive Blood Bowl trophy match! There are 6 teams to choose from: the Reikland Reavers (humans), the Grudgebearers (dwarves), the Athelorn Avengers (wood elves), the Skavenblight Scramblers (skaven), the Gouged Eye (orcs), and the Chaos All-Stars (chaos); and they all have their own style of play to explore. This is looking like a must-buy for Blood Bowl fans!

Gears of WarGears of War
Another game that’s been on the backburner at FFG for some time is Gears of War: The Board Game, based on the very successful video game that is now up to its second sequel. I’m a big fan of the old Doom boardgame and this looks like a step up from that—excellent miniatures, beautifully illustrated floorplans—however this one is fully cooperative (and, as a bonus, can be played solo), with players working together to face off against the horrific Locust alien hordes. Apparently the aliens are controlled by an innovative and adaptable ‘AI system’ that keeps the monsters reacting in distinctive ways that are appropriate to the situation. And you have limited ammo … There’s nothing like a good tactical combat game, and this one should raise the bar!

Pyramid of HorusThe Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus
Fans of The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac will be excited to see another game in what possibly be a series exploring all the classic Indiana Jones-like locations. After exploring (and hopefully surviving) the ancient Mayan ruins of the Temple of Chac, we now move to Egypt to enter The Pyramid of Horus. It’s a new stand-alone boardgame that shares the basic mechanics of load level versus speed that defined the first game; but now a new set of adventurers will be encountering falling blocks, crocodiles—and of course, mummies! Great art, miniatures and fast-paced gameplay whould make this one a winner.

There are some other bits and pieces coming our way too: the new Talisman expansion Talisman: The Dragon; a revised edition of the card game based in Cadwallon, Arcana, an expansion for the excellent fantasy empire-building game Runewars called Banners of War, and of course the first new adventure packs for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: The Hunt for Gollum, A Journey to Rhosgobel, and Conflict at the Carrock.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of great gaming! As always, keep an eye on this blog for news and reviews, and we’ll let you know when all of these fantastic new titles hit our shores and the shelves of Games Paradise, your favourite online game store.

Mansions of Madness Painting Guide

MoM Painting Guide

You’ve bought the game and braved the dark corridors of the Mansions of Madness; you’ve solved challenging puzzles and tracked down hidden clues—you’ve even confronted the most horrific eldritch creatures and survived with body and mind intact! But have you faced the ultimate challenge…?

Have you—painted the miniatures?

Painting the miniatures in your brand new shiny (or slimy, in this case) copy of Mansions of Madness may seem a daunting task from which only the most experienced and skilled will survive with sanity intact, but I am here as testament to the fact that it is actually not that difficult! In fact, I managed to paint the entire set of 32 investigator and monster figures in the space of one weekend and two short evening sessions. So ready your workspace, clutch for your brushes, and let me pass on the wisdom of one who has been to the Other World … and returned to tell the tale…

I won’t be covering the basics of painting miniatures here; for that information see my earlier article A Beginners Guide To Figure Painting, which covers everything about miniature painting you need to get started: preparing your workspace and figures, shading, highlighting and detailing, basing and varnishing, and various painting styles. Here we’ll be looking at my painted set of MoM figures and pointing out some colour choices and techniques. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my choices and are in no way official—if you want a bright red shoggoth, you go right ahead! This is just the way I painted mine, and there are as many ways to paint miniatures as there are painters. Games Workshop paint colours are referred to here, but there are many other excellent brands of paints available, including Vallejo GameColor, Reaper Master Series Paints and Privateer Press Formula P3. Experiment and have fun!

Remember, prepare your figures by washing them in detergent and water to get rid of any oily residue from the moulding process; cut or file off any obvious mould lines or bits of extra plastic (watch those fingers!), and affix the miniatures to some suitable surface for ease of painting. I use long strips of foamcore to which I stick the figures with white glue. Undercoat as you see fit—I use Citadel Skull White spray. I use a white ceramic bath tile as a palette and it’s served me well for years. Completely optional but essential in my case were a couple of rainy days and some excellent BBC History podcasts to occupy the part of the brain you don’t use when you paint!

CharactersThe investigator figures were the most time-consuming step of the project, mainly due to the number of colours involved. The investigator character cards give you a guide for the basic colours used for each figure. In general, I quickly paint on the base colours, let them dry, wash (quite often Devlan Mud, though Gryphonne Sepia for flesh and the appropriate colour for greens and blues), and then highlight; first with the base colour then in progressively lighter shades—perhaps two, with a final edge highlight.

CharactersYou could use all manner of different shades for the various complexions of these characters, but I tend to stick with a blend of Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh for the basic skin tone, washed with Gryphonne Sepia and highlighted with Elf Flesh. The sharpest highlights—the tip of the nose and the knuckles usually—get a tiny spot of white. There are many ways to do eyes, but I don’t worry too much about perfection with such small figures. Two small dabs of black, and then two tiny dots of white on either side of the iris—usually with a tiny bit of black to clean up. The hair on these figures is the only place I’ve used the drybrushing technique; I prefer to highlight manually, but remember to mix water with your colour so it flows nicely from the brush.

For the bases, I made them a bit more interesting than basic black by stippling on a few shades of brown, from dark to light; it just adds a bit of visual texture to the base. However I didn’t worry about the monster bases, and in fact only stuck the monsters on their bases with a small dab of white glue, in case for some reason I want to interchange bases later on—for example if I choose to replace some of these figures with sculpts from other companies.

Now, on to the bad guys!

CultistsWhat would a Lovecraftian game be without some twisted degenerate Old One-worshipping cultists? I kept the basic cultists suitably drab with a dark brown cloak—Graveyard Earth mised with a bit of Chaos Black, basically—with a trim of Dheneb Stone (a steady hand and a small brush are required here, though you can touch up later). A few tiny dabs of Mithril Silver were used for their medallions, and a dab of Warlock Purple for the centre gem on their staff thingies.

ZombiesNot the most threatening bunch of zombie figures I’ve ever seen—they actually looking like they’re rather sheepishly saying “hi there”—but they’re easy to paint. Slap on some Rotting Flesh, wash with Devlan Mud, and highlight with Rotting Flesh and Skull White. In an attempt to make them a bit more scary I added a bit of Red Gore for blood splatters, plus some appropriately-named Graveyard Earth drybrushed over their feet. Dabs of Skull White for the eyes give them that dead-eye look. This shot also illustrates the importance of good figure preparation—there’s a rather obvious mould line on arm of the zombie on the left there which I should have removed before undercoating. Oh well, they’re just gaming pieces after all!

WitchesThese surprisingly modest evil witches were very easy to paint. A mixture of Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh for the basic skin tone, washed with Gryphonne Sepia and highlighted, and Dheneb Stone for the robes, washed with Devlan Mud and highlighted with white. A subtle drybrush of blue on the black hair makes the hair colour seem even darker. Viola! Evil 1920s temptresses!

ManiacsThese maniacs are in great poses, though I defy you to get that damn she’s a maniac, maniac I know… song from Flashdance out of your head while painting them. Simple white shirts, washed with Devlan Mud (use a brush to soak up any wash that builds up too much on the raised areas or in the crevices—always control your wash!), contrast nicely with an excessive blotch of Red Gore—and don’t forget the axes! The stain was made by dabbing on the model with the end of a Games Workshop drybrushing brush, which gives a nice stippling effect.

Cult LeadersSomeone always has to lead your cultists and who better than a cultist leader (or two). This colour scheme was nicked from the BoardgameGeek game listing photographs—always a good place to go for inspiration—and contrasts nicely with your cultist rank-and-file. Again, a simple way to get your whites whiter than white is a Skull White basecoat washed with Devlan Mud, then highlighted back up with white. Easy! The red is Blood Red, highlighted by mixing in a bit of Golden Yellow. The skulls on their belts are Bleached Bone, washed with Devlan Mud and highlighted with Bleached Bone and Skull White. The necklace medallion is Shining Gold—they are richer than your average cultist, after all.

Mi GoThese weird extra-terrestrial critters are Mi-Go, the ‘fungi from Yuggoth’, one of Lovecraft’s weirder creations (and that’s saying something). They appear to removing brains—charming—an Elf Flesh washed with Baal Red with sharp highlights of white (though perhaps brains should be grey … oh well!) The Mi-Go themselves are mostly the usual flesh mix with highlights; and I did use a bit of drybrushing on the wings, I remember. The strange masks they wear (not the most effective human disguise really) are painted with Bleached Bone.

Hounds of TindalosThe Hounds of Tindalos are immortal horrors from another angle in space, created by Frank Belknap Long, though Lovecraft mentions them in his story The Whisperer in Darkness. The base colour used is Graveyard Earth, with a wash of Devlan Mud, highlighted up to Bleached Bone. The long tongue and eye are a wonderfully contrasting Enchanted Blue, highlighted with Ice Blue and white.

ChthoniansAgain, these truly repulsive burrowing giant worm-like beasties were not actually invented by H.P. Lovecraft, but in this case Brian Lumley. The body is a mix of black and Hormagaunt Purple, the tentacles a suitably fleshy Dwarf Flesh. Reliable old Devlan Mud was used as a wash for the body, a bit of Baal Red wash for the tentacles, then highlights layered on— white added to the purple for the body, and Elf Flesh, then white, for the tentacles, right up to some big white highlights. Tiny white dots highlight the suckers. Urgh! The stone base was a simple grey up to white. Lots and lots of Gloss Varnish was used to make the nice and slimy; in fact the model on the left has a little clear blob hanging from the bottom tentacle. It’s details like that that make it all worthwhile!

ShoggothsAnd finally, the big bad shoggoths; shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us… Lovecraft would have been horrified to see his shoggoths given legs, and some gamers have chosen to pop them off and use ‘green stuff’ to putty over the gaps, but Lovecraftian accuracy doesn’t bother me so much. I used a mix of various greens and Chaos Black to get a very dark green basecoat, then highlighted up using smooth, thin strokes of various lighter shades of green. Mix in plenty of water with your paint to get a good flow from the brush, and loosen up a little; you can even use progressively smaller brushes. I kept the overall colour quite dark to contrast with the luminous eyes, which are Goblin Green with a highlight of Scorpion Green (I painted both on wet so the colours swirled together a bit) with a final dot or two of white. A generous coat of Gloss Varnish is de rigeur for your Lovecraftian protoplasmic horrors.

So there you have it! I hope this little journey through the miniatures of Mansions of Madness has not sent you gibbering and screaming into the black night. Hold on tight to that brush, it may be your last link with reality as we know it …

… and happy painting!

Universal Head

(As a last treat, check out my Headless Hollow site for a Mansions of Madness rules summary and reference sheet. Enjoy!)

What’s Hot: Mansions of Madness

Mansions of MadnessShipping Tuesday/Wednesday!

Horrific monsters and spectral presences lurk in manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. Some spin dark conspiracies while others wait for hapless victims to devour or drive insane. It’s up to a handful of brave investigators to explore these cursed places and uncover the truth about the living nightmares within.

Designed by Corey Konieczka, Mansions of Madness is a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for two to five players. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find, and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact.

Do you dare enter the Mansions of Madness?

For more information, check out our recent detailed article on the game.

Mansions of Madness!

Mansions of Madness

Mansions of MadnessHorrific monsters and spectral presences lurk in manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. Some spin dark conspiracies while others wait for hapless victims to devour or drive insane. It’s up to a handful of brave investigators to explore these cursed places and uncover the truth about the living nightmares within.

Mansions of Madness, the long-awaited new Fantasy Flight Games boardgame of horror, insanity and mystery based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, is now available for pre-ordering! It shouldn’t be long now before this much-anticipated adventure game hits our shores. So what’s it all about, and why should you get a copy in your tentacles as soon as possible?

If you love creating a story as you play a boardgame, if you enjoy the Arkham Horror boardgame, if you’re a fan of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft—Mansions of Madness is the game for you. It would seemFantasy Flight Games created it with the express purpose of making a game as closely based on the unique atmosphere on Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos as possible. Arkham Horror is a great favourite of gamers worldwide, but it’s generally accepted that it doesn’t quite capture the feel of Lovecraft’s work—there’s a big emphasis on combat, for example, and not as much on stories of investigation and creeping horror.

So exceptional FFG game designer Corey Konieczka, creator of such modern boardgame classics as Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, Starcraft and Tide of Iron, has risen to the challenge. Mansions of Madness is unabashedly a game that is all about an immersive story and atmosphere.

One of the players is the Keeper, a sort of roleplaying Gamemaster who controls the story; the other players are investigators (you’ll recognise come of the characters from Arkham Horror) trying to solve the scenario. Different Objective cards, different scenarios, and unique board tile setups, mean there is a huge amount of replayability.

Players choose from eight investigators in their attempt to oppose the Keeper player and stop him from completing his story objective. The gameplay is modified depending on the number of investigators, so the game scales well from 2-5 players. Investigators have three stats on their card: Health (how much damage he or she can take before being killed), Sanity (how much horror he or she can witness before going insane), and a starting number of Skill Points. Seven other attributes—Strength, Marksmanship, Dexterity, Intellect, Willpower, Lore and Luck are chosen by choosing from the investigator’s Trait cards, which also detail various special abilities. These attributes will be used during the game when you are asked to perform an attribute test, and you can spend Skill Point tokens to improve your chances of succeeding.

During each turn, an investigator may take two Movement steps and one Action step. You may have to unlock doors that the Keeper has placed in your way, and explore room locations in an attempt to discover items, spells, and most importantly, clues. When you explore, all the cards in the room are flipped over and resolved one at a time.

Clues are placed around the game board by the Keeper at the start of the game, and guide the players towards their ultimate objective; each clue leading them to the next, following the narrative thread and slowly building up to the game’s climax—which may or may not be combat-focused, depending on the scenario.

On the Keeper’s turn, the Keeper player stocks up on Threat tokens, which he can later spend to activate Keeper Action cards to play all kinds of nasty tricks on the investigator players. Some cards allow him to draw Mythos and Trauma cards, and some allow him to add Minions and environmental effects to the game. The Keeper receives a set number of scenario-appropriate Action cards, and he can spend Threat to activate them over and over during the game. Similarly, the story dictates the Mythos cards that are available; these are played during the investigator’s turn but must be discarded once played.

The Keeper also has an Event deck which acts as a ‘timer’ for the scenario; as cards are flipped from this deck the plot thickens and things may get more and more difficult for the investigators.

If an investigator is occupying a space with a monster in it during the Keeper’s turn, it may attack! Combat is dangerous and sometimes unavoidable, but luckily investigators can use the surrounding environment to barricade doors against opponents, or possibly hide and avoid conflict altogether. Of course, monsters can also drain your Sanity, and if you fail a Horror check you lose 1 Sanity and may become a target for the Keeper’s Trauma cards!

If you fail to evade a monster, there’s always the deadly option of engaging it in combat! Monsters are divided into the Beast, Eldritch and Humanoid categories, each of which has a specific Combat card deck. Combined with dice rolls, these cards give an exciting narritive feel to combat, describing in detail what happens when a monster is attacking or being attacked.

But wait, there’s even more to the Mansion of Madness experience. There’s also an ingenious and original system of representing ‘intellectual challenges’, in the form of puzzle tiles. The investigator receives a number of actions equal to his Intellect attribute to swap, rotate or discard pieces in order to solve an actual puzzle—rewiring a circuit, or picking a lock, for example.

Of course, this is a Fantasy Flight game, so the components are top-notch. There are 24 highly detailed monster figures and 8 investigator figures, over 300 cards, over 200 tokens, and nearly 70 puzzle tiles, not to mention 15 beautifully illustrated map tiles that make up the playing area.

I don’t know about you, but this awesome mixture of rich narrative, exciting combat, investiagtion and immersive theme is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for in a boardgame. Since I’m a long-time fan of H. P. Lovecraft as well, Mansions of Madness is a definite purchase for me. And i’m guessing that it’s the kind of the game that, like Arkham Horror, is just perfect for lots of exciting expansion material in future as well.

Visit the pre-order link and reserve your copy of this fantastic new game from Fantasy Flight right now! See you in the mansion—sanity intact, I hope …

iPhone and iPad Apps for Games and Gaming

More and more excellent games and game-related apps are appearing for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The iPad especially is a fantastic platform for boardgamers. Here’s a look at some of the better apps to grab if you’re a gamer!

Fantasy Flight Games have begun to release high-quality iPhone and iPod touch apps (they’re also compatible with the iPad, though at lower resolution) to complement their boardgames and roleplaying games. Their first app was designed for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay players: the WFRP Toolkit. This fantastic little dice roller is just the thing for getting fast results from of those complex dice pools. Also, results can be saved for future reference, and—if stats happen to be your thing—you can get extensive statistical analyses of all your dice rolls. It’s a very polished app and the rolling dice feel just right!

Fresh from the FFG factory is the brand new Arkham Horror Toolkit for the incredibly popular Arkham Horror boardgame, based on the dark mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. This is a really exciting release—especially if you’re using a few expansions and your table space is beginning to prove inadequate for holding hold all those decks of cards! The basic app includes a Dice Roller, an Investigator tracker, a full set of Location cards, and the Arkham Horror map.

There’s an amazing amount of functionality here, and you can add all the expansion sets separately as small in-app purchases, and then turn on or off that extra content at will.

The Dice Roller quickly lets you add up to ten dice, shake to roll, and then gives you your number of successes (and you can change the dice to Blessed or Cursed dice, for their different ranges of success). Click on Investigators, and you can choose, or randomly have chosen for you, an investigator, and then keep track of his or her stats, money and clues during the game. Best of all, the number of Clue tokens you have appears in the dice roller, so you can spend them to roll extra results!

The Location Deck section lets you easily ‘draw’ a random card for a particular location, which then gets ‘shuffled’ back into the deck—imagine the table space and game time that will save! There are also the Other Worlds decks included, which saves even more time by automatically chosing a card with the matching colour for the particular dimension you are visiting.

Finally, the Maps section gives you the entire map board (and the expansion maps if you’ve purchased that extra content, remember). You can pinch to zoom into the map, or double-click on a location or Other World to automatically draw a location or Other World card!

The Arkham Horror Toolkit really looks like the standard by which all other boardgame supplement apps will be judged. Here’s hoping that this kind of thing becomes available for a lot of other games that have complex book-keeping processes that would benefit from being streamlined in this fashion. Say … Tide of Iron maybe?

But what about actual boardgames? The king of the current crop of boardgame apps—in my opinion— is the iOS port of the classic tile-laying game Carcassonne. Carcassonne for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is an incredible slick and polished production that every boardgamer should check out. There’s a special new solitaire mode, or you can play against the computer (there are 9 different AI players), over a local network, or even with random players worldwide over the internet. The entire app, from tutorials to original art, smacks of professionalism. Apparently the developers are working on some of the expansions as in-app purchases, which will make the game even more fun. Highly recommended!

Reiner Knizia has had quite a few of his games transferred to iOS devices, but unfortunately I personally think the graphic and interface quality generally doesn’t seem to be up there with a port like Carcassonne. One of the best, however is the application of his game Samurai. In Reiner Knizia’s Samurai you place tiles trying to surround and influence several castes in medieval Japan in your bid to become Shogun. The app works very nicely, and while I still think the graphics could be a bit slicker, the game is a lot of fun and challenging.

Neuroshima Hex is a clever tile-laying combat game from Z-Man Games, and the app version is another must-buy: Neuroshima Hex for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The artwork is excellent, and while you’ll initially be intimidated by the many icons and special powers if you haven’t played the boardgame, stick with it as it takes very little time to get used to how everything works. There’s a lot of luck involved, but there are many strategic choices as well, and the application is very professionally made.

The Settlers of Catan is a much-loved classic, and of course it has come to the iOS as Catan and Catan HD. It’s a shame that the graphics are not higher quality, and the interface could do with a little more work, but it’s a good start for Catan fans. Not perfect, but still fun.

Of course for people who like boardgames but have never heard of Settlers of Catan or Reiner Knizia, there are some excellent applications recreating classic family boardgame experiences. Hasbro obviously have some money to put into app development and it shows in the quality of such apps as Monopoly and Monopoly HD, Scrabble and Scrabble HD, Risk and Risk HD, and Game of Life and Game of Life HD.

This is a quick look at some of the better boardgame and boardgame-related apps out there. Are there any you’ve come across that you think need a mention? Let me know in the comments below!

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers

It’s only a week until Christmas Day, and hopefully you’ve finished all your major present buying, and now you’re running about in a frantic hurry to grab all those little items to stuff the stockings and pad out the presents. Luckily for last-minute madness, there are lots of little games that are perfect to add that impressive last touch to your friend’s and family’s present haul. The great thing is, it’s possible to pack a lot of game into a little box!

The Fantasy Flight Games ‘Silver Line’ range is a perfect example. Little boxes, big games. Take for example Space Hulk: Death Angel The Card Game, 100 x 190 millimetres of alien-killing-in-deep-space-fun. It’s amazing how this game manages to recreate the tension and sudden violence of the huge Space Hulk boardgame with basically just a few decks of cards. This is the perfect little gift for the scifi fan, or perhaps something different for that Games Workshop-obsessed nephew for whom you’ve already bought an army’s worth of figures!

There are plenty of other excellent little games in the Silver Line range to check out. You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer, for example, to enjoy Bruno Faidutti’s classic Citadels. It’s a fantastic game of simple role selection and card play, and holds the record for the only game I’ve managed to get my mum to play—and she beat me, dammit! Ingenious Challenges by the world-reknowned game designer Reiner Knizia is another game that can be enjoyed by all types of players, and features three different games in the one small box—cards, tiles and dice—that focus on ingenious symbol matching.

Other games like Chaos Marauders, Cold War: CIA vs KGB, and Condottiere are all satisfying, fun games in small packages, especially perfect when you have limited time for gaming, or don’t feel like anything too ‘heavy’.

If you know your gamer is into Arkham Horror, why not throw in a set of two of Arkham Horror Dice. These spectacular and atmospheric six-sided dice are cast from hand-carved originals and feature sculpted number faces, as well as Elder Signs on the 5 and 6 sides to indicate successes.

If your gift recipient happens to like collectible card games (and you can find out which packs they already own), they’ll always appreciate another expansion pack for their games of Warhammer Invasion LCG or Magic the Gathering.

Summoner Wars is a card-based combat game that’s been attracting quite a following this year. Two new faction decks have recently been released, and for the existing player, the premium playing board is an absolute must.

Of course not everybody who likes games enjoys the more esoteric, thematic ones. Classics like Uno are perfect for the whole family to play after the present unwrapping and over-eating is complete, and can be enjoyed by all ages. If you enjoy the family favourite Pictionary, the Pictionary Card Game will be your last-minute present of choice. the Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game combines the well-loved classic with a wedge-stealing mechanic to make a great quick-playing game.

Finally, throw in a travel game or two for the Christmas holiday trip. The Scrabble Travel Edition is just the thing for gamers of all ages.

So start stuffing those stockings—and those turkeys! Happy Christmas from all of us at Games Paradise!

Friday’s Gaming News Update

Sample Dark Eldar armies from Games Workshop.

Obsessive Descent fan? Why not get yourself the unofficial Well of Darkness 3D board?

Sadly, Wizards of the Coast announce the end of the Heroscape line. Grab as much as you can before it all disappears …

Games personality Michael Barnes talks about Ten Games I Want To Play Again, Someday.

Tom Vasel, of Dicetower fame, reviews Castle Ravenloft.

Matt Drake Of Drake’s Flames reviews Heroes of Graxia.

Fantasy Flight Games release Arkham Horror pre-painted figures and City of Thieves pre-painted figures.

A new designer diary for Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Boardgame looks at the combat system.

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