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Tag: Dust Tactics

Summer Gaming/ Restocking

Sadly the era of the Friday Frenzy is over… for this year at least. We hope everybody managed to grab some savings and got to play alot of old and new games. We do expect some sort of Frenzy-esque event to happen next year so keep your eyes peeled.

 

Restocks

We had a million

Survive Escape From Atlantis
Carcassonne Big Box
Zombie Dice
Dust Tactics
Super Dungeon Explore
Dungeons and Dragons – Dungeon Tile Set

and many more…

The new Loot


New Magic the Gathering Event Decks are in stock now. Expect some high powered cards like Vexing devil and Thragtusk in them. That should make
the lists quite valuable and a good stepping point to the zombies/Jund decks in the metagame.

Sydney Monopoly is in stock and is moving very fast. Expect alot of people to pick it up for Christmas.

Zombicide is there for all those people reeling from the The Walking Dead season finale.

Sentinel of the Multiverse Enchanced Edition is there for all the people waiting for some revamped Super Hero collab action.

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! 🙂

Gaming Marathon Session Report

Gaming Marathon

Two old friends. Time off from partners and children. A huge boardgame collection. The occasional beer or two (or three…) There’s nothing like an entire day and two evenings of gaming—yes, a marathon session of seven (count ’em, seven) different games, covering the gamut from WWII simulation to spaceship combat to post-apocalyptic skirmishes. In this little photo essay you’ll experience the highs—and in my case, mainly the lows—of the joy of boardgaming!

We decided to get the hardest game out of the way first while our minds were fresh, and brought out Tide of Iron. This game is a really satisfying simulation of World War II combat, but the rules are quite complex, and personally I wouldn’t even try to play without my own reference sheets! We played the first scenario from the excellent hardback book the Designer Series,which is called The Twin Villages and is set during the Ardennes Offensive. As the Americans I failed completely to hold back the German advance, foolishly moving my Sherman tanks into firing range long before I should have, and paying the price.

Tide of Iron

Tide of Iron: the gaming marathon gets off to an intense and complex start.

I’d been itching try out the new Hasbro spaceship combat game Battleship Galaxies (not least so I could write up a review for this blog) and the game definitely didn’t disappoint! As the human ISN fleet, unfortunately, I got my proverbial flagship kicked. Still, there’s quite a bit of luck involved and I refuse to take any responsibility for being wiped out and exposing the Earth to alien invasion. OK?

For an in-depth analysis of Battleship Galaxies, check out our articles: Part 1 and Part 2.

Battleship Galaxies

Battleship Galaxies of Iron: the first play of this new game proved to be a winner.

Pizza had been bought and consumed and it was getting late so we decided to give our brains a rest by playing a game from the distant past, Dark World: Village of Fear. This old 90s kid’s fantasy game is a fantastic example of the kind of over-the-top production that was popular in the wake of the success of Heroquest. It‘s quite a rarity on Ebay nowadays and I’d spent a couple of Sunday afternoons painting up the copious amount of plastic in the box. Unfortunately, despite looking spectacular, it’s not much of a game—very basic, poorly balanced, and somewhat tedious. We gave up before the end. Oh well, file that one under ‘play with young nephews’ then!

Village of Fear

Dark World: Village of Fear: ‘taking a break’ with this early 90s kid’s game wasn’t such a great idea after all.

The next day we started off with another new game, Conquest of Nerath, and this proved to be a highly enjoyable conquest game. The rules are easy to learn and you’re plunged into the confrontations right from the first turn. My opponent played the allied realms of Karkoth (uundead) and the Iron Circle (orcs and goblins) against my allied kingdoms of Vaillin (elves) and Nerath (humans), and he immediately began wiping out a couple of strongholds I held on isolated peninsulas. The game is very easy to pick up, and has an ingeniously simple combat system; basically each unit needs to roll a 6 to hit, but uses a different die, from 6-sided for footsoldiers to 20-sided for the dragons. Throw in a few easy to remember specialised abilities and you’re done. Your heroes can also take side trips to dungeons (some of which old Dungeons & Dragons players will recall, like the Tomb of Horrors) to fight monsters and gain treasures which may help during the battles. Each nation has a separate Event card deck tailored to its fighting style as well. It’s fast, furious and confrontational, and successfully does away with unnecessary ‘rules bloat’. Highly recommended.

Conquest of Nerath
Conquest of Nerath

Conquest of Nerath: easy to play, a lot of fun, this conquest game is just the thing for relaxed but competitive gameplay.

I splurged recently and bought the Dust Tactics premium pre-painted edition, and it’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite games. On the surface this looks like a ‘dumbed-down’ miniatures game, but in fact its simplicity hides some very strategic and enjoyable gameplay. The scenarios are well-designed, the figures are fantastic and we had great fun playing this one—in fact we played two games in a row. This game seems to have been a hit for Fantasy Flight Games, because they are releasing a revised core set (with a whole new selection of figures), various unit expansions, and soon a hardback book called Dust Warfare which details a set of tabletop miniatures rules.

For now, however, I’m really enjoying the simple rules of the Dust Tactics core set. Movement is simply from square to square, and line of sight is measured between the central dots printed on the squares. You have to keep an eye on the abilities of your units and walkers however, as it’s no good, for example, going up against a ‘Ludwig’ Panzer Kampflaüer II-B walking tank with just a unit of Recon Rangers—they won’t be able to so much as scratch its paintwork! Deploying and moving your units optimally is the crux of the game—and a healthy dollop of lucky dice rolling too, of course! Both of our games came right down to a last crucial dice roll, which to me is the sign of a really well-balanced and fun game.

Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics

Dust Tactics: definitely becoming a favourite. Note the cupped hands about to make that crucial dice throw!

It was time to tackle another new game and I brought out Earth Reborn, the huge new game of post-apocalyptic combat from Z-Man Games. It took us a little while to get our head around this one, but luckily the scenarios ease you into the game, introducing game concepts in sequence so you don’t have to deal with the entire ruleset at once. The only tricky concept is the assigning of Command points to Order tiles. This system gives you an incredible amount of flexibility and a lot of interesting choices, but is quite unusual and may take a few tries to ‘click’: this is a game for hobbyists, not casual Ticket to Ride-style gamers! Once you realise that you can assign multiple points to an order tile, and thus execute multiple types of actions in your turn, it all comes together and you realise how much potential the game has. The scenarios are very thematic and fun—the first one details the excape of a female NORAD agent from a mansion with the aid of a besotted Frankenstein-like creation, and has one of the enemies start in the bathroom! I can see many hours of good gaming in the future with this game, exploring all its possibilitiesa.

Earth Reborn

Earth Reborn: a bit brain-burning but interesting to play (figures in the game come unpainted).

So there you have it! The marathon finished off with a game of Merchants & Marauders, a casual and enjoyable pirate game which lacks a little bit of tension, but makes up for it with being very thematic and a fun experience, rather than a competitive game.

Not surprisingly, we were both pretty exhausted after playing seven games in a row—with breaks for food, conversation and sleep of course! It just goes to show however, what an interesting, fun and rewarding hobby boardgaming can be, and what a great way it is to pass the time. Even if you do have a bad habit of losing, as I do …

Tell us about some of your recent game sessions— do you prefer one-off games, long multi-game sessions, small or large groups, particular styles? Let us know!

The games shown may be custom painted or have personally added or modified components, and don’t necessarily show what comes in the box!

Dust Tactics Review

Dust Tactics

I finally got a chance to play the new miniatures boardgame Dust Tactics last night, and after two games, here are my impressions. The short answer? This game rocks!

Firstly, what is Dust Tactics? Well, some of you may remember a tabletop miniatures game with a sci-fi theme called AT-43. This caused a bit of a stir a few years ago as it was one of the first fully pre-painted miniatures games. The rules were relatively simple compared to venerable sci-fi game Warhammer 40,000, the miniatures were nicely sculpted and painted and ready to hit the table, and things were looking good for Rackham, the French company who had taken quite a gamble by plunging into the pre-painted world in such a big way.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take off quite as well as expected. There was an abortive distribution deal with Fantasy Flight Games, Rackam changed hands, and eventually they went under and AT-43 was pulled. While AT-43 is still my favourite miniatures game, and I made a large investment in the miniatures that will last me for many years of gaming, at the moment there are no signs of AT-43 returning to the market.

Which is a shame, but what’s it got to do with Dust Tactics? I’m glad you asked. Well, AT-43 was originally going to use the Dust licence, and be an ‘alternative WWII plus scifi and supernatural’ game based on that world, created by Italian illustrator Paolo Parente. But something happened along the line: AT-43 became far-future sci-fi (though still with a recognisable WWII feel), and Parente and his collaborators continued with their own miniatures game, which became Dust Tactics and—ironically—is now published by Fantasy Flight!

Dust Tactics Components

It’s possible that the Dust creators have learnt from the example of AT-43, because Dust Tactics releases are coming at a much slower and more careful rate. And instead of a full tabletop miniatures system, the core game is a boardgame/miniatures game hybrid. At first I thought this was a disadvantage, but after playing the game I can see that despite the very simple rules, there’s a lot of flexibility and possibilities for this game, and somehow it still manages to be ‘cinematic’ in feel despite the simplicity.

So how does it work? The key to the game is that simplicity. Games are usually played on nine terrain squares, each of which is itself divided into nine squares. Instead of using a tape measure to measure the moves of each miniature, you simply put the five man squad or robot tank in a square. Line of sight is then measured between central dots in the square, with some easy rules for soft and hard cover. When you shoot or engage in close combat, you refer to each unit’s card, which not only has a nice big picture of the relevant miniature(s), but a few lines detailing the weapons it uses, their range, how many dice they roll and how much damage they do per hit. Dice marked with hit symbols on two faces do the rest!

If it’s so simple, why is it so good? That’s the magic of gaming. It took just a few minutes to explain the rules to my friend, and after one round we were both starting to realise that the game had a lot more to it than had been immediately apparent. One of these surprising realisations is that the square movement grid, coupled with the differing abilities and specialisations of the units, gives the game an almost chess-like feel. Far from charging into conflict right away, we started identifying which of our units and which of our opponents were the long range specialists, which were especially effective at close combat, and how to avoid, or move quickly to engage, the appropriate units.

During each of your unit activations you get two actions: you can move and shoot, or shoot and move, or move twice, or shoot twice (actually shoot once and get a re-roll on misses). One of the units is a bit faster than the others, and the Allied robot tanks can jump over obstacles, so all in all movement wasn’t at all predictable, and good use of cover (you get two ammo crates for soft cover and two tank traps for hard cover) made a big difference to your long-term survival. Combat is quite deadly however, so one mistake can spell disaster! However with a healthy dollop of luck, anything can happen and the outcome was always in doubt.

But beyond all that, the game has that special something that got us laughing, cheering and most importantly, imagining the scene. On the table, a few plastic models were moving about on cardboard tiles, but it was very easy to imagine the real scene—as the Allied robot tank rumbled forward and let fly with a stream of napalm over the Germans, the German tank grabbed it with its claw, ripping its turret off while the squads let fly with laser rifles around their feet—and to me, that’s the hallmark of a great game that you are going to come back to again and again. I call it the ‘cinematic value’ of a game, and it’s there when the rules recede into the background and you feel like a movie is playing out on the table before you.

In the core game, there’s a series of eight scenarios that link together into a mini-campaign called ‘Blue Thunder’, detailing the invasion of an enemy base in Antarctica. There’s a nice range of challenges from ambushes, survival, demolition to straight-up slugfests. As you get to know your units you’ll be trying out different strategies and chosing different forces (especially armed with a few expansion units), so there’s lots of replay value even before you embark on the extra campaigns already available separately.

I highly recommend Dust Tactics. It’s the perfect game for those gamers who love miniatures wargaming but don’t have the time to get into more complex and extensive systems, but it also promises a lot for the gaming hobbyist, with two campaign expansions and several expansion tanks and squads available already. I hope this article has given you a little bit more insight into the game.

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures board game for 2-4 players. In an alternate 1940s reality, alien technology fuels gigantic machines of war as the forces of the Axis and Allies clash over rare mineral deposits that could inevitably decide the outcome of the war. With over 30 highly detailed miniatures, 9 double-sided terrain boards, 12 custom dice, unit cards, terrain, and plastic scenery, Dust Tactics delivers everything you need to wage battles in the world of Dust.

Game Contents:
One platoon of allies, comprised of 2 robots, 15 soldiers, and hero Captain Joseph Brown.
One platoon of the axis, comprised of 2 robots, 15 soldiers, and hero Colonel Sigred Von Thaler
4 Ammo Crates and 2 Tank Traps
9 two-sided cardboard Terrain Tiles
12 Unit cards (6 allied and 6 axis)
12 custom dice
18 two-sided Terrain Squares
Rulebook
Quick-start rules sheet
Blue Thunder campaign scenario booklet

Friday’s Gaming News Update

New Releases from Games Paradise
The new D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game is out—weird fun in an a savage post-apocalyptic earth! (Matt Drake has a great review here.)

The long-awaited Dust Tactics is finally here—36 fantastic figures for epic miniatures battles in an alternate 1940s reality.

Another Fantasy Flight release—Cadwallon: City of Thieves, a fast-paced game of cunning thievery and ruthless skullduggery in a fantasy city steeped in magic and intrigue.

For family fun, Smiley Face is a great card game for 4-8 players.

For fans of the original and other players who love a monster/horror/ghost-movie atmosphere, the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill is out.

Talisman fans won’t want to miss the latest expansion: The Sacred Pool.

News From the World of Gaming
Zuzzy Miniatures have added a Broken Blacktop urban gaming mat to their series of flexible tabletop gaming mats.

A photograph of the Storm Raven Gunship, a fantastic new Warhammer 40,000 plastic kit, was leaked online. It’s since been taken down from the GW site but you can check it out here.

Wizards of the Coast are planning to re-release the classic Richard Borg game Battle Cry, the influential original Command & Colors system game that later evolved into Memoir ’44, Command& Colors: Ancients, BattleLore and Battles of Westeros.

As always, lots of interesting articles from Fantasy Flight: overview articles for A Game of Thrones: The Boardgame here and a beginner’s guide to Battles of Westeros here, a new preview for the upcoming Mansions of Madness here, an article on using the new Dungeonquest characters in Runewars here (and a Dungeonquest FAQ), and finally, the first preview for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica expansion, Exodus, here.

Have a great gaming weekend!

Video: Dust Tactics

Dust Tactics_MPEG-4 Large

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures game of brutal combat for 2-4 players. Based on the popular universe created by artist Paolo Parente, Dust Tactics is set in an alternate 1940s reality in which alien technology fuels gigantic machines of war, and the world’s superpowers clash over rare mineral deposits that could ultimately decide the outcome of WWII. With over 30 highly detailed miniatures, 9 double-sided terrain boards, 12 custom dice, unit cards, terrain, and plastic scenery, Dust Tactics delivers everything you need to wage battles in the world of Dust.

Coming soon!

Game Contents:

One platoon of allies, comprised of 2 robots, 15 soldiers, and Captain Joseph Brown.

One platoon of the axis, comprised of 2 robots, 15 soldiers, and Colonel Sigred Von Thaler

4 Ammo Crates and Two Tank Traps

9 two-sided Cardboard Terrain Tiles

12 Unit Cards (6 allied and 6 axis)

12 custom dice

18 two-sided Terrain Squares

Rulebook

Quick-start rules

Blue Thunder campaign scenario booklet

Stuff From Essen 2010

The Internationale Spieltage SPIEL 2010 games trade fair in Essen, Germany, has just come to a close. Let’s have a look at just a few of the hot new games on the way.

Mansions of MadnessFor all you Cthulhu fans out there—and I definitely count myself one of them—Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight Games will be on your ‘must-buy’ list. Designed by Corey Konieczka, who was responsible for Runewars, Battlestar Galactica, and Starcraft among others, this Arkham Horror-esque adventure game puts the emphasis on plot threads and story while players, as brave investigators, explore the manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. It comes with investigator and monster miniatures, and a shed-load of cards, tokens and tiles. Great stuff!

We’ve already introduced you to Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game in a recent article, and we’ll be talking more about this impressive looking civilization boardgame very soon. In the meantime, check out the video.

Earth Reborn is the new game from Christophe Boelinger, maker of the very popular range of Dungeon Twister games. It’s a detailed game of tactical combat in a post-apocalyptic world, with a system driven by Command points and scenarios. The game comes with some very impressive miniatures. Earth Reborn is coming soon from Z-Man Games.

Merchants & MaraudersAlso from Z-Man Games, who has been churning the games out at a great rate of late, is the much anticipated pirate game Merchants & Marauders. Gamers have been looking for the definitive pirate game for a while now after the disappointingly complicated Blackbeard remake. Players seek glory on the high seas of the Caribbean, plundering merchants, completing missions, buying better ships, selling cargo, and of course stashing gold at their home port. The plastic ships look great, too. Cutlasses crossed for this one!

Cadwallon: City of Thieves should be available very soon now. This game was one going to be released by Dust Games until they and Fantasy Flight Games did a deal to release this and the new miniatures system Dust Tactics under the FFG banner. It looks like a relatively easy, fun game of thievery and burgulary in a district of Cadwallon, a fantasy city originally invented by Rackham for their Confrontation games. Fantastic art and wonderfully detailed miniatures are a feature.

Survive: Escape From Atlantis is a re-release by a new company called Stronghold Games. There have been many versions of this game over the years by some major manufacturers; in fact it has sold almost 1.5 million copies worldwide! For those of you who have yet to enjoy it, you try to evacuate your pieces from an island in the centre of the board that is sinking and breaking up. Your evacuees can swim or use boats, but beware the whales, sharks and sea serpents!

Alien FrontiersAlien Frontiers is a game of resource management and planetary development for two to four players. Those of you who enjoy Kingsburg will feel comfortable with the dice placement system used in this Euro/Ameritrash hybrid. Cleverly, the game was funded by players through Kickstarter.com, a site that allows creators to scare up funding for their projects. The game has had some great feedback and reviews.

Of course there are a lot more goodies: The Resistance, a Werewolf-like social game for 5-10 players; King of Tokyo, a giant monster smackdown game by Richard Garfield (of Magic: The Gathering fame); 7 Wonders, another highly-anticipated Civ-light game; and just too many others to mention!

Upcoming Games

I keep several boardgaming-related websites in my bookmarks list so I can keep an eye on the next batch of games that are in development or on their way. The big North American gaming convention GenCon has recently come and gone in Indianapolis, so a lot of new games saw their debut at the show. Here’s a quick look at some of the new games that should be out this year or early next year.

Fantasy Flight Games is, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now, my favourite publisher, and they have a stack of new goodies in the pipeline for release this year (hopefully). The two surprise announcements recently were Dust Tactics and Cadwallon: City of Thieves. These  were originally to be published by Dust Games, but that company suddenly found themselves short on the resources required, so have done a deal with FFG to hand over the games. Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures boardgame set in an alternative 1940s world created by the comic book artist Paolo Parente. It’s been in the works for a surprisingly long time; originally it was to be released by Rackham Entertainment, who then went on to release AT-43 instead. Dust Tactics is quite a spectacular-looking product, featuring over thirty detailed, individually-sculpted miniatures (including four huge tank/walker figures). The initial game consists of eight scenarios fought on a set of cardboard terrain tiles (with some model terrain), but later there will be a set of rules released for fighting battles on a tabletop, like a normal miniatures game.

The miniatures in the game come primed in a flat colour which you can paint, if you desire, but there is also a Collector’s Edition set on the way, with all the miniatures fully painted to an incredibly high standard. The Collector’s Edition will be pricey, but for the non-painters, I’m sure it will be worth it.

There are already plans for several expansion sets to the core game of course; introducing such things as artillery robots, strange creatures, new heroes, aircraft, and even an alien race, the Vrills. It’s all shaping up to be an amazing system, and it will be interesting to see the reaction to the core set and watch the future of this game.

The other game to arrive at FFG from Dust Games is Cadwallon: City of Thieves. This fast-paced boardgame of thievery and skulduggery is set in the Rackham fantasy city of Cadwallon, the subject of a short lived roleplaying/combat game. It’s a perfect addition to the FFG stable, with gorgeous art and miniatures dripping with character. You lead a gang of thieves sneaking about a district of Cadwallon, grabbing loot and avoiding the militiamen hot on your tail. Individual scenarios bring variety to the game play. Again, the miniatures are not pre-painted, but you’ll be able to buy a separate set of painted miniatures if you so choose.

Another exciting game from FFG in the works is a Space Hulk-themed cooperative card game set in the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 universe, called Space Hulk Death Angel: The Card Game. This will accommodate anywhere from 1-6 players, and sees you taking Blood Angel Terminator combat teams into the twisting labyrinthine corridors of an abandoned space hulk, to join combat with the horrific alien Genestealers. The game is playable in under and hour and comes in a small ‘Silver Line’ box. This looks like a great choice if you feel like a quick, theme-rich game experience.

Sticking with card games, there are two more on the way from FFG: The Lord of the Rings Card Game and The Blood Bowl Team Manager Card Game. There’s very little information yet about the latter but it’s certainly exciting news for Blood Bowl fans, and I certainly count myself a member of that group! Apparently it will be a frenzied game of deck-building for 2-4 players, and you can choose from Human, Dwarf, Wood Elf, Orc, Skaven, or Chaos factions and play through an entire season. The LotR Card Game will be another of FFG’s very successful Living Card Games, so they’ll be a long series of expansion card packs after the 216-card core set. 1-2 players (or more if you buy a couple of core sets) cooperate to select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts and complete quests in the land of Middle-Earth. Players can shape their decks to create their favourite combination of spheres of influence: leadership, lore, spirit and tactics. It looks like they’ll be lots of spectacular artwork and a huge amount of variety in this game, and hopefully it will be a must for any gamer who’s a fan of Tolkein’s world.

But wait! There’s more. The long-awaited return of the Games Workshop classic, Dungeonquest, is imminent. Anyone who played this cut-throat game back in the 80s knows that it’s tough work surviving that dungeon—but that’s all the fun. FFG have re-themed the game to set it in their world of Terrinoth (and cleverly cross-marketed the new characters by supplying components for them for Descent, Runebound and Runewars). Dungeonquest is a fast and fun game of dungeon exploration for 1-4 players.

Keep an eye peeled for some other FFG games on the horizon as well: Bruno Faidutti’s magnum opus, Isla Dorada, two army expansions for Battles of Westeros, various expansions for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games, a quick card game called Dragonheart, Kevin Wilson’s new game, Civilization: The Board Game (inspired by Sid Meier’s video games), a new small-box version of the classic Lord of the Rings Board Game by Reiner Knizia, the new Tide of Iron expansion Fury of the Bear, and a new expansion for Talisman called The Sacred Pool. Not to mention the usual regular Living Card Game releases.

Well, there are other game companies in the world apart from FFG I admit, and another company with a hectic release schedule for 2010 is Z-Man Games. The company is known for releasing an eclectic mix of titles of all different styles and themes. Check out this list of titles: Earth Reborn, Parade, Burrows, The King Commands!, Power Struggle, Magical Athlete, Malta!, Prolix, Kings & Things, Mines of Zavandor, Trollhalla, Inca Empire, Pocket Battles: Orc vs Elves, and De Vulgari Eloquentia. Whew!

There’s certainly been some buzz about the new game from Christophe Boelinger, the creator of Dungeon Twister. It’s called Earth Reborn and it’s a post-apocalyptic scenario-based tactical combat game. It’s also one of the first forays by Z-Man Games into the world of plastic miniatures, and the ones that come with the game are looking mighty impressive. Parade is a quick 30 minute curious card game by Naoki Homma for 2-6 players. Hansa Teutonica is a tense game of route manipulation and economics by Andreas Steding for 2-5 players; players are merchants jostling for position and standing in the Hanseatic League. Power Struggle is a game about becoming the top-dog in a corporate empire by reaching milestones in investing, corruption, influence and position. In Burrows, you’ll find yourself trying to keep a group of fussy Gophers well-housed, using tiles to build a twisted network of burrows. Bottle Imp is a trick taking card game by Gunter Cornett. And of course, don’t forget the car-racing mayhem of Road Kill Rally; the new game by the creator of Duel in the Dark, Duel of the Giants, a tank-battle game; pirate fun with Merchants & Marauders; and a real-time strategy computer game-inspired game called The Ares Project. Zev from Z-Man must be run off his feet!

As for other publishers, there’s a new game coming from Asmodee and Antoine Bauza (Ghost Stories, Mystery Express) called 7 Wonders, a a civilization-building card game. Wizards of the Coast are releasing a Dungeons & Dragons board game called Castle Ravenloft that looks to be a classic dungeoncrawler with a simplified set of D&D 4th Edition mechanics. And Flying Frog Productions, makers of Last Night on Earth and A Touch of Evil, continue their series of crazy, fun games with photographic art with their new one, Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game, which pits alien invaders against circus freaks in a Tim Burtonesque carnival.

Well, if that lot doesn’t keep gamers happy I don’t know what will! There’s obviously no shortage whatsoever of great games on the way—all we need do now is somehow find the time to play as many as possible …

by Universal Head

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit the publisher sites or BoardgameGeek (www.boardgamegeek.com). There is a Dust Tactics site at www.dust-tactics.com. Z-Man Games can be previewed at www.zmangames.com. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for many games at Headless Hollow (www.headlesshollow.com/freebies_games.html).

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.