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Tag: Asmodee

Quadropolis: An Aficionado Review

Greetings loyal readers, and welcome to my review of Quadropolis!

Days of Wonder (DoW) are easily one of the most recognisable names in the board game world. You’ll be hard pressed to find a hobby gamer who hasn’t heard of Ticket to Ride, and other games like Small World are certainly of widespread repute throughout the industry. The way in which DoW have cultivated such a prestigious brand is through two major factors: outstanding component quality, and a slow trickle of great games as opposed to a splattering of mediocre ones. When you buy a DoW game, you’re in for a great time from the moment you open the shrink wrap.

It should come then as no great surprise that it gives me great pleasure to bring you my review on the only completely new game from DoW this year: Quadropolis by new game designer François Gandon (this is literally his first release!)

Many of the colourful buildings of Quadropolis splayed over the box cover.

So many colours! Many of the buildings on offer in Quadropolis. What will your city look like?

A brand new game and a brand new designer from a well established company? It certainly sounds like they were confident with this one. Let’s dive into the role of the mayor of a city and see if this job is really as great as it sets out to be.

 

Components

DoW have once again delivered well on the production side; the thick cardboard bits, colourful (if a bit bland) illustrations and the high quality meeple and barrels certainly don’t disappoint.  The game is very colourblind friendly,  and contains some simple iconography which, while not overly helpful for in-game purposes, does make explaining scoring for certain pieces simpler. Overall, it’s the same quality we’ve come to expect, but there’s no standout components. Everything is good, but nothing is exciting, except for:

The box insert included in Quadropolis. It features a perfect amount of space for everything, and everything is divided appropriately.

How to do a box insert correctly.

I know it might be a bit silly to get so excited over something that’ just used for storing the game. The fact is, however, that storing and putting away a game can be made incredibly tedious by poor boxes (Fantasy Flight Games is often the victim of such criticism). By minimising excise you’re never gonna have that feeling of dread when you need to set up or pack away the game. In fact, resetting the game and packing it up took the better part of two minutes for my playgroup! My only concern is that there isn’t really room for expansions, and I hate carrying around multiple boxes for one game.

The Aficionado was also impressed by how easy the rules were to read and understand. Easy to understand explanation accompanied by diagrams make explaining the game a breeze. As such, Quadropolis is a very easy game to get onto the table and teach to new players, even those with short attention spans.

+Same high quality bits we’ve come to expect from DoW

+Amazingly set out box insert.

+Well set out rulebook, functional and elegant.

~Nothing overly exciting or standout. Bits are all fairly standard (meeple, octagons and cardboard squares)

 

Gameplay

Quadropolis is an abstract city building game, where players act as mayors of a city under construction. During each round, players will take turns trying to acquire the buildings they need to create the highest scoring city they possibly can. However, as players send off their architects to start building, it starts getting really crowded. This in turn makes it increasingly more difficult to build the buildings you want, both due to your own city filling up and players, intentionally or unintentionally, blocking you. It’s a pretty classic Euro-style game, but the Aficionado found that the tension and blocking in the game definitely plays a major part of the experience.

The heart of the game is that players will take turns placing an architect around a 5 x 5 board. Depending on where they place their architect and on what number the architect is, they will obtain a different building and have to place that building onto a space on their board corresponding to the number of the architect. If you’re not quite sure you understand, have a look at this helpful three step visual guide to understand.

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Got that? Well, there’s a little bit more to it than that. After all, who is this Urbanist fella?

Well, in short, the Urbanist is an unpleasant guy or your best friend, depending on if you’re placing them or being blocked by them. When placing an architect, there are two rules you must follow. Firstly, you cannot place an architect so that it would point at the Urbanist. In the example above, the next player therefore could not place an architect in the third column or the opposite side of the second row. Secondly,  architects stay where they are until the end of the round. This means that other players cannot place architects on top of others’. As the board fills with architects and empty spaces, it becomes more and more likely that you may be unable to take buildings you want. You may even end up taking nothing at all! Sometimes it’s tough being a mayor.

In the classic game, players will be placing architects numbered one to four, in an order of their choice. Play alternates clockwise until players have placed four architects each, at which point the board clears and the next round begins. After four rounds, the game is over and players score their buildings. How, you ask? Well, that depends on the building and whether the building is powered or not. I won’t go into excessive detail, as there are many different ways they score. For example, Factories like being near Harbours and Shops, while Tower Blocks like being stacked on top of each other.

Each of the buildings you can build in the game.

(Top) Park, Factory, Shop
(Mid) Public Services, Harbour, Tower Block
(Bot) Office Tower, Monument

When you select a building, it grants you the resources in the top left hand corner. Whilst these do nothing until the end of the game, I would advise that you collect them as you go. The life of a mayor is tough, and being able to visually manage your pieces makes it much easier. In the bottom right corner, buildings require resources in order to be powered, with only parks (and monuments in the expert game) not requiring anything. If you cannot power the building then that building will not score!

Stress not, however, as you’re not required to assign your resources until game end, allowing you to optimise in case you come up short. Interestingly, the game also encourages you to “waste not”; for every excess person or energy you produce, you lose a point. The people of Quadropolis dislike overcrowding and excess pollution, much like we do. After powering buildings and scoring points for them, as well as losing points due to your excess, the winner is the player with the most points.

A city in Quadropolis at game end. It scored 54 points.

My second ever city, which took the second game with a score of 54. It certainly is satisfying to see your city nice and finished 🙂

That’s already quite a bit of game, but there are actually two different game modes: Classic and Expert. The Aficionado is normally one to just jump straight into expert, but he found Classic to be more than deep enough already. In fact, Expert appears to be more of a hardcore variant than a more complete game. There are significant differences between the two, so much in fact that I can easily see both modes seeing play as almost separate games.

At first, in spite of Quadropolis‘ simple mechanics, it was really difficult to grasp exactly what to do. Early on, the Aficionado and his pals felt a bit overwhelmed, aimlessly taking moves with no sense of long term strategy. However, after two rounds, the gears in everyone’s heads began turning and the tension of each decision became very evident. In the end, the first game was very tight, with first and second needing a tiebreak, and third only a point behind!

One concern of Quadropolis is that it could certainly induce analysis paralysis. Every move in the game is crucial, and there are a lot of possible moves at any given time. I personally don’t find this to be a huge issue, but if you play with people prone to analysing every single possible move at all times, this otherwise short game may overstay its welcome. Other than that, the game features some well implemented tension and puzzle solving into an unimposing and relatively short game.

+Interesting and difficult puzzles to solve each and every move.

+City building is enjoyable, and long-term planning is rewarded.

+Easy to understand and learn, coupled with short playing time.

+Innovative core mechanic that creates a lot of tension.

+Two modes of player, but neither is lacking.

~Scoring is not obvious.  Keeps players invested, but makes decision making harder.

-Prone to analysis paralysis.

-Can feel surprisingly mean sometimes.

 

Conclusion

Much like DoW‘s other title Five TribesQuadropolis plays like a large, complex, multi-layered puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed what was on offer here, and this is  one  I’ll keep in my collection. The mechanics and depth of the game will keep me coming back for more, and the theme is very family friendly. For those who enjoy simple mechanics with deep replayability and puzzle style games, this foray by François Gandon will offer a tonne of fun.

The Aficionado was very impressed by this game.

Grade: A

Interested in some of the games mentioned in this article? You can find them here:

 

Fulfill Your Destiny with Star Wars: Destiny!

There has been an awakening!

For those of you who aren’t aware, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) released an article about an upcoming dice-based collectible game. Oh, and it’s from a pretty cool IP too.

Star.  Wars.  Destiny.

swd01_cardfan_1_good
I’ve taken the time to pull apart all the information from the original release article and the product page in order to extrapolate as much as possible about the rules of the game and what we can expect.  Without for ado, let’s get into it.

1. It’s collectible!

FFG is quite well known for creating new games using their existing LCG system. For those that don’t know, this meant that there were no randomised booster packs or collectible aspects to a game; instead, you simply purchase an expansion pack and bam, you have a playset of every card (most of the time). It’s a great system for fostering healthy game environments and keeping the cost barrier to card games lower than CCG counterparts.

I believe that FFG saw the incredible success of Wizkids’ Marvel Dicemasters (which literally sold out everywhere and became impossible to acquire initially) and began to ponder the viability of a collectible dice game. The strength of Marvel Dicemasters was definitely its license (some may say that designer Eric Lang was also a big drawing point, but lets face it; Generic Heroes Dicemasters would have faired far worse), and if FFG has anything going for it at the moment, it’s access to some of the biggest licenses possible (Game of Thrones and Star Wars most prominently). The little spiel by the designer about the game only working as a collectible game is certainly a stretch, as the success of Quarriors (of which Dicemasters was a successor) can show.

Regardless, I personally have no issue with FFG experimenting with a collectible game again, and from a business perspective, it makes absolute sense. I can see people easily going nuts over it, just as they did with Dicemasters.

swd01_mystery_booster

2. It’s NOT a Quarriors or Dicemasters Clone

Star Wars: Destiny has eschewed the Quarriors model of “dice-building” and replaced it instead with something more akin to a miniatures game. You begin with all of your characters in play, and as the battle goes on, you get rid of your opponents as they try and get rid of yours. You win the game by eliminating all of your opponent’s characters. Let’s take a quick look at a character card:

swd01_character-card_diagram

Now, the article mentions a few things regarding the cards in the game. There are three colours of characters (red for Commanders, yellow for Rogues and blue for Force Users) split between Heroes and Villains. Apart from the Hero/Villain divide, you are free to construct your force as you please. However, also note that there are point values in the bottom left (two in fact, separated by a slash). From viewing videos and thinking logically, I predict that the higher point value allows you to play a second dice of the same character (in one of the videos, you can clearly see a second Kylo Ren dice being rolled). Point Values also implies a build limit, again, much like a miniatures game. A key aspect of the game will be attacking the units which are key to the strategy of the opponent; do you focus on taking out lower health units to take them out of the game and cause your opponent to have fewer actions to take, or do you try and take out the bigger, more powerful units? Colour me intrigued.

3. Destiny is a hybrid card/dice game.

Continuing in their trend from Imperial Assault, Destiny features not only face-up open information character cards but also a deck of extra supporting cards, mixed with support and event cards. One of the dice faces in the game provides you resources which presumably you can spend to play these. Like the characters, they are also split into colour and faction. Note below the spoiled card “The Best Defense…” is a Red Villain Event:

The BEst Defence

This means that, like Imperial Assault, there are lots of hidden surprises just below the surface of what may appear to be a mostly puzzle-like experience (that is, simply calculating the best play given there are no tricks to be seen). I applaud this move; adding this extra element to the game not only vastly expands customisation options, but also adds tension and far more replayability to the game. I haven’t played Dicemasters at any competitive level, but I can easily see it becoming incredibly samey each and every game. Destiny, however, just like any other card game, allows you to see different outcomes and options each and every game.

4. It Features Characters from All the Star Wars Movies

Some may hate on Episodes I. II and III but no-one can deny that there are characters from it which are extremely popular. While it’s easy to cite Jar Jar as one of the most annoying characters in the series and a permanent stain on the series, it’s hard to find any fan who doesn’t think that Darth Maul and his double-bladed lightsaber, or Mace Windu and his purple lightsaber are not iconic parts of the franchise. Forget the flavour; I look forward to taking Jango, Boba and other villainous rogues into dice-chucking combat!

In summary, Destiny might look like the type of game that will be quickly be brushed aside (anyone heard anything about Warhammer Diskwars in a while?) but given the strength of the license, the excitement of finally being able to crack packs, and the simple yet innovative looking gameplay, I know that Star Wars: Destiny is something that’s going to be on my radar. As soon as I get my hands on some starters, there’s gonna be dice flying all over the place!

Excited about Star Wars: Destiny? You can pre-order it and check out some of the other games mentioned in this article:

9/100 Games in 100 Days: 7 Wonders

Is it just me or did they HIT the sweet spot with this game.

A tale of epochs and civilizations crumbling and falling.
30 minute play.
No player elimination?

and up to 7 players!

This is the weapon of choice during those long Saturday nights before games of Catacombs or Runewars. And I can’t believe its longevity.

The simple play and the clean mechanics are so enthralling.
It looks almost too easy.
Then it hits you. You start playing cards then look around…thats alot of green buildings there mate
Now you are trashing linen. Who needs linen anyways? Oh wait those bratty Greeks from Halicarnassus want the linen. ALL THE LINEN.

Too bad: Linen is now the left foot of the Colossus and now you have to change strategies.

One of my faves and a solid reminder to me that there is still innovation just out there.

Till Tomorrow x 7

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GenCon 2011 Roundup

GenCon 2011

GenCon Indianapolis, the largest and most well-known gaming convention in the US, has just closed for another year after four days of the latest and greatest in role-playing games, miniatures wargames, board games, live action role-playing games, collectible card games, non-collectible card games, and strategy games.

There were lots of new games and exciting announcements, so let’s round up some of the most important information so you can start drooling over the cool new games that are coming your way over the next six months.

Fantasy Flight Games just seems to be growing bigger and bigger every year, and this year they made some big announcements and launched some very cool new games at their huge booth. The big news is their acquisition of the Star wars licence, and at genCon they were already showing advanced prototypes of Star Wars: The Card Game, a new cooperative LCG, and X-Wing, a tactical miniatures game with pre-painted miniatures of Rebel X-Wing and Imperial TIE fighters battling it out in space. The Star Wars stuff all seems to be set in the framework of the original 3 films, which I personally think is a clever decision because the new films were terrible. You may heartily disagree with me in the comments of this post, of course! 🙂

X-Wing Demo

X-Wing demo (photo courtesy of The Hopeless Gamer).

Two unexpected surprises came in the form of a brand new edition of the Tom Jolly classic Wiz War, and the new version of the much-loved Dune, which has been ‘rebranded’ to take place in the Twilight Imperium universe and is now called REX. Another surprise was a new second edition of Descent, featuring 8 new heroes and 40 monsters in 9 different new types, plus campaign rules. Thoughtfully, they’ll also be a Conversion Kit so you can easily use all your existing Descent stuff with the new streamlined system.

Wiz-War and REX

Wiz-War and REX (photo courtesy of The Hopeless Gamer).

Of course advance copies flew out the door of such new games as Elder Sign and Gears of War, and other new games were on display such as Ventura, Blood Bowl Team Manager card game, Rune Age, The Adventurers: Pyramid of Horus, A Game of Thrones Board Game 2nd edition, Dust Warfare, the new tabletop miniatures system for Dust Tactics, and Black Crusade, the new W40K RPG.

Now, onto other companies! Asmodee released the new expansion for their excellent dungeon-crawler Claustrophobia, which is called De Profundis and includes a new 55-card deck, new demons, events, and objects; 10 new room tiles, 4 painted figures and 12 new scenarios.

Plaid Hat, makers of Summoner Wars, released their new game Dungeon Run, a fast-paced, dice-rolling dungeon crawler (or should I say runner?) They also have a new Summoner Wars: Master Set packed with six new factions and storage for your existing factions.

Flying Frog Games had their highly-anticipated new game Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game for sale. This is an Indiana Jones-style game of worldwide pulp action and adventuring and—you guessed it—cliffhangers set in the late 1930s. As usual for this company, the game is dripping with theme and in their trademark style of photographic illustrations of actors playing the characters.

Fortune and Glory

Fortune and Glory – back of the box.

Z-Man Games sold out of 50 pre-release copies of their new game Ninjato (for which, I’m proud to say, I created the graphic design) in the first five minutes of GenCon, so here’s hoping it will be a big hit! In the future I’ll have lots more information about this exciting game set in medieval Japan. They also showed off Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame, set in Sir Terry Pratchett’s fantasy city of Ankh-Morpork and featuring artwork by Discworld illustrator Stephen Player.

Whizkids had a couple of new releases, notably Quarriors, a deckbuilding, dice battling game, and Star Trek: Fleet Captains, a fleet exploration and combat game set in the ‘pre-new-film’ Star Trek universe.

Well there you go, just a brief look at all the fantastic new games that will be coming your way over the next few months. No shortgage of great gaming there then!

Now I want all my readers to start lobbying Games Paradise to send me to the convention next year so I can give you a ‘from-the-showroom-floor’ report next time! 🙂

What’s Hot: 7 Wonders Leaders Expansion

7 Wonders LeadersWithin the walls of cities, great men and women inspire nations and lead civilizations to their peaks. Choose them wisely and they will help your city achieve greatness. Neglect them and they will lead rival cities… or their armies!

The Leaders expansion for 7 Wonders offers you a new type of card which will bring an extra strategic dimension to your games: the Leaders. The expansion adds 40 new cards to the base game of 7 Wonders, comprising 4 new guilds and 36 new, white Leader cards. At the start of the game, each player takes a hand of 4 leaders and may play one at the start of each of the 3 Ages. Unlike the standard cards, leaders cost money (not resources). The expansion also comes with a new Wonder—the ancient city of Rome—and 17 value 6 gold tokens for more efficient money management.

Please note that the 7 Wonders game is required to play this expansion. The Leaders expansion includes 1 Wonder board, 1 Courtesan token, 1 Wonder card, rulebook, 36 Leader cards, 1 score booklet, 4 Guild cards, 1 blank Leader card, and 17 value 6 coins.

What’s Hot: Cash ’n Guns

Cash 'n GunsIn an abandoned warehouse, a band of gangsters is splitting their latest haul, but in classic gangster style—they can’t come to an agreement on the split! It’s time to let the guns do the talking, and soon everyone is aiming at everyone…

All you have to do is stay alive and have the most money at the end of the game! CA$H ’n GUN$ will have you reliving the best scenes from gangster movies and other modern detective stories, where the flimsiest excuse serves to let bullets fly! Fun, bluff and negotiations are to be had. The thing is, do you have enough guts to play?

Ca$h ‘n Gun$ is a completely unique and chaotic game experience, with players pointing their foam pistols at other players in a hilarious frenzy of double guessing, bluffing and ‘push your luck’.

Ca$h ‘n Gun$ contains: 6 foam guns; 6 sets of 8 bullet cards (one set for each player); 10 super power cards; 3 telephone switchboard cards; 6 secret role cards; 1 double sided phone card; 1 quick reference card; 14 wound markers; 14 shame markers; 40 banknotes; 6 characters with 2 stands for each; and game rules.

What’s Hot: 7 Wonders

7 Wonders is by designer Antoine Bauza (Ghost Stories) and is published by Asmodee Games.

In a game of 7 Wonders there are three ages. In each age, players receive seven cards, chooses one, then passes the remainder to an adjacent player. The cards are then revealed simultaneously, and players pay and collect resources and interact with the other players in various ways. Each player has their own (double-sided) board on which they can organise their cards, and which give them special powers. Each player then chooses another card from the deck they were passed, and this process repeats until players have six cards in play from that age.

7 Wonders is a card development, civilization-building game with similarities to Race for the Galaxy and Dominion. Cards may have immediate effects, provide bonuses or upgrades later in the game, provide discounts on future purchases, provide military strength to overpower your neighbors, and some cards give nothing but victory points. However, you’re receiving cards from a player who can see what you’re trying to build, and you’re passing a card to someone whose strategy you can see. This leads to difficult decisions, and you’ll need a strategy from the outset and some clever playing to win. And the cards get more powerful as the game continues …

The boxs lists 3-7 players, but there is an official 2-player variant in the instructions.

Check out this amazing review by Matt Drake: “With a nearly ideal combination of strategy, excruciating decisions, speed and constant tension, 7 Wonders is quite possibly about to join my top five games of all time.”

Friday’s Gaming News Update

It’s the last Friday before Christmas eve and time to wrap up (boom-tish!) the latest gaming news.

New Releases from Games Paradise
7 Wonders is the highly anticipated card development game by Antoine Bauza, designer of Ghost Stories. Fans of Dominion and Race for the Galaxy will definitely want to check out this stunning-looking game.

Also from Asmodee and a must for card game fans, Gosu has also been collecting excellent reviews. Players raise goblin armies and send them into battle. Check out the Drake’s Flames review here—Matt doesn’t beat around the bush, and he can’t come up with anything bad to say about the game!

Days of Wonder’s light-hearted favourite Small World has a new expansion: Be Not Afraid. It features five new races to add to your games (Barbarians, Pixies, Homonculi, Pygmies and Leprechauns), five new special powers, and a new storage tray. It also comes with a bonus Necromancer expansion!

Don’t forget to get your pre-orders in for the 15th Anniversary Edition of Settlers of Catan. Every dedicated gamer will want this deluxe wooden edition as part of their collection.

News From the World of Gaming
The website for Earth Reborn, the upcoming post-apocalyptic combat game from Z-Man Games, has posted new scenarios and a map editor.

WorldWorks Games make amazing papercraft terrain for gaming (you might even find the set that was created by yours truly)—be sure to take advantage of their Christmas specials.

The usual surfeit of riches from Fantasy Flight Games:

new hardback and Vault versions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are coming soon. Whether you get the core set or the hardcover books and separate components (or whether, like me, you’ll get both), this brings a lot more flexibility and clarity to the WFRP roleplaying game system.

Yet another expansion has just been announced for Battles of Westeros: Lords of the River, which brings the forces of House Tully to the battle. FFG are also making available premium plastic banners to replace the original game banners; yes BattleLore fans, they are the same design as the banners in that game.

Talking about BattleLore, you can find a link to the rules to Bearded Brave, the new dwarf expansion, here. And talking about dwarves, the new Reiner Knizia game The Hobbit should be available soon.

Tannhäuser fans will soon have another character to add to their Reich forces – the clairvoyant Hoss.

Battlestar Galactica just keeps getting better and better with the announcement of the new Exodus expansion. Check out the FFG designer diaries here and here to get all the details.

Enjoy your gaming this Christmas!

New Campaign for Claustrophobia

For those of you who play the excellent dungeoncrawling game from Asmodee, Claustrophobia, check out this brand new PDF download. Deliver Us From Evil is a four-scenario campaign that let’s players gain experience and skills.

Great to see this fantastic game being supported so well online!

Pre Painted Games

Miniature painting can be a time-consuming and challenging pastime, and it’s not for everyone. Luckily, there’s a growing number of games using miniatures that bring them to you pre-painted in the box (or for an additional purchase). So if you can’t be bothered spending hours hunched over little models with a paintbrush in hand, try one of these games out and enjoy the experience of gaming with painted miniatures—with no effort!

The great thing about pre-painted miniatures is that you can get them on the table and start playing a spectacular-looking game right after opening the box, but if you do like to do a bit of painting, you can add a touch of shading and highlighting to improve them even more. Check out my earlier article on miniature painting for some tips. Even the quick application of a wash can do a lot to define a figure’s detail; add a few highlights and it will look even better.

There are some great combat and adventure games that are coming out now with pre-painted miniatures. One of the most impressive is the dungeoncrawl game Claustrophobia (Asmodee, 2009). This comes with a bunch of troglodyte figures, three different sculpts of human warriors, and a fantastic demon figure. The paint jobs on these figures are really setting a new standard; they’re neatly done, and the colour choices are excellent.

Tannhauser (FFG, 2007) and its expansion Operation Novgorod is another game that comes with an impressive selection of pre-painted plastic character miniatures, and once again the quality is excellent. These miniatures really have a lot of character, from the demon-tainted Nazi Stosstruppen to the TNT-toting Corporal Tala Aponi. I recently had the opportunity to play the game with the new Fantasy Flight rules, and I can tell you the game is vastly improved and is a now really good, fast-moving combat system.

If you’re looking for the full tabletop miniatures experience but don’t have the time and inclination to do all the painting required, check out AT-43 (2006) and Confrontation (2007) by Rackham Entertainment. These sci-fi and fantasy (respectively) tabletop games use beautifully modelled miniatures that are all ready to do battle right out of the box. They can be a bit hard to find in Australia, but there’s nothing like buying a big tank for your scifi tabletop game and not having to spend ten hours or so painting the thing before using it to wipe out your opponent!

A game that’s been churning out the pre-painted figures for some time now is the Heroscape system from Hasbro. Starting with the base set, Rise of the Valkyrie (2004), there’s a mammoth range of figures available for this game, and because it incorporates all kinds of different genres and time periods, you can find everything from revolutionary war soldiers to werewolves to samurai warriors to robots. The paint jobs are generally pretty good, and there’s no lag time between buying your figures and playing a great game game (except for the time required  to set up that board of interlocking hexagons, that is). Don’t forget the various boxes available of trees, bridges, jungle terrain and of course the castle— and remember you can also get Marvel Superhero and Dungeons & Dragons variants of the system!

Some games ship with standard unpainted miniatures but then make available sets of painted ones if you don’t mind the extra expense. The Adventurers (AEG, 2009) has very characterful miniatures, and if you don’t feel like painting them, you can buy a pre-painted set direct from the publisher. The Days of Wonder game Shadows Over Camelot (2005) also has a set of pre-painted miniatures available under the product name A Company of Knights.

Wings of War (FFG, 2004) is a World War I airplane dogfighting game for which you can buy an series of really impressive pre-painted planes (along with a pile of expansions) and there are planes on the way for the WWII set, Fire From the Sky (2009), as well. There’s no doubt these planes really bring the game to a whole new level; I can’t imagine playing the game with just the original cards!

Occasionally a ‘normal’ boardgame comes with pre-painted plastic to enhance the experience. The Avalon Hill games Monsters Menace America (2005) and Betrayal at House on the Hill (2004) had some nice, simply-painted figures included. Even just a bit of colour added to the miniatures can make a huge difference to the visual appeal of a game.

Finally, no discussion of pre-painted miniatures would be complete with mentioning the behemoth that is the War of the Ring Collector’s Edition (2010). If you have the spare cash, this is the ultimate purchase for those non-painters out there. Personally, I’ve started on my original set, but the daunting task of painting all those plastic hordes is almost enough for me to thrown down brushes and just buy the Collector’s Edition … and you not only get painted figures, but a huge redesigned board, larger cards, redesigned components, and a big wooden box to store it all in.

The Nexus/FFG game Marvel Heroes (Nexus/FFG, 2006) had a nice selection of pre-painted hero figures, featuring all the Marvel favorites like the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, and the X-Men. Privateer Press has a great giant-monsters-ravage-cities game called Monsterpocalypse (2008); it’s a collectible miniatures game, and, you guessed it, there’s no painting to do. The big feature monsters are particularly impressive, whether it’s a tentacled Lovecraftian monstrosity like Cthugrosh or the green Martian Ares mothership!

It’s out of print now, but the collectible miniatures game Dreamblade (Wizards of the Coast, 2006) had a spectacular range of really unusual pre-painted figures. It’s also a fantastic game, and it’s well-worth checking out Ebay to get yourself a starter set and some extra figures. I’ve mentioned the Mutant Chronicles Collectible Miniatures (FFG, 2008) game before, now also sadly out of print. The collectible miniatures genre is of course full of pre-painted miniatures that can be used both for the game they were designed for, and with a bit of work—maybe just a bit of re-basing—for other games too. There’s a long tradition of rebasing figures from other systems for use in Heroscape, for example. Check out D&D Miniatures, Heroclix, Horrorclix and Axis & Allies Miniatures, just to name a few, but don’t forget to check to see if your scales are compatible.

So for those of you casting longing looks at your friends with the painting chops, don’t despair! You too can have painted beasties gambolling about your tabletop, and without the long hours, bad back and failing eyesight that inevitably come with years of miniatures painting!

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit the publisher sites or BoardgameGeek (www.boardgamegeek.com). You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for many of these games at Headless Hollow (www.headlesshollow.com/freebies_games.html).

by Universal Head


Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing for clients across the globe for more than twenty years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.