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Blood Bowl Team Manager is Here!

Blood Bowl Team Manager

Blood BowlFans of the Games Workshop classic Blood Bowl—and gamers who love the crazy concept of fantasy football set in an ‘alternate’ Warhammer world—have been eagerly awaiting kick-off for the Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game, and it’s finally here! Yes, the whistle has been blown and it’s time to grab a copy of this fantastic foray into violence, cheating and, occasionally, goal scoring by your favourite Warhammer fantasy football teams.

For those of you who arrived late to the stadium, Blood Bowl is a game originally released way back in 1987, which has gone through several versions since then and still lives on as a fan favourite today—in fact the rules for the game are currently at version 6! The game pits teams of humans, orcs, skaven, elves, and other fantasy races against each other in vicious games of fast-paced and violent football—an unholy mix of American Football and Rugby, with a lot more injuries! Teams are represented by miniatures which you can paint in your team colours, and different teams have different abilities and strengths—orcs, obviously, are not known for their subtle play, elves tend to be agile, fast and light on their feet, and skaven just cheat!

From the simple first edition with a board and cardboard pieces, through the second edition with its spectacular polystyrene moulded board, to the sweeping rules changes of the third edition, Blood Bowl has always been a much loved game and one particularly popular in tournaments and league play. There’s even a World Cup tournament in England, with teams coming from as far afield as here in Australia!

There have been several attempts to bring Blood Bowl to the computer as a video game, culminating in the very successful video game released in 2009 by Cyanide Studio, which is now available for PC, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable and XBox 360.

Blood Bowl

Which brings us to the latest game set in the alternate fantasy universe of Blood Bowl; a result of the alliance between Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop that is bringing us such excellent games set in the Warhammer universes as Chaos in the Old World, Warhammer: Invasion, Space Hulk: Death Angel and Horus Heresy. Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game is a bone-breaking, breathtaking card game of violence and outright cheating for two to four players. Chaos, Dwarf, Wood Elf, Human, Orc, and Skaven teams compete against each other over the course of a brutal season. Customize your team by drafting Star Players, hiring staff, upgrading facilities, and cheating like mad. Lead your gang of misfits and miscreants to glory over your rivals as you strive to become Spike! Magazine’s Manager of the Year!

The season is starting. What kind of team will you build? You can choose from six teams: the versatile humans of the Reikland Reavers; the short, tough, well-armoured Dwarven Grudgebearers; the athletic Wood Elf Athelorn Avengers; the sneaky Skavens of the Skavenblight Scramblers; the violent Orcs of the Gouged Eye; or the even-more-violent, cheating, and downright nast Chaos All-Stars. You have five weeks (or game turns) to groom your team for the final Blood Bowl tournament in head-to-head highlights—accumulating fans, gathering payouts and rewards and upgrades.

For old Blood Bowl fans this game is a no-brainer, but if you’re after a fast, thematic, and highly amusing card game with a unique atmosphere, you can’t go past Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game. Let the season begin!

Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game includes: over 150 Player and Matchup cards; 4 Scoreboards; 2 Tackle Dice; Rulebook; over 50 Team and Staff Upgrade cards; and over 50 Customized Tokens.

What’s Hot: The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus

Pyramid of HorusDescend into an ancient Egyptian pyramid in The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus, a standalone board game of danger and exploration for 2-6 players. In this fast-paced and tense experience, whichever player escapes from the pyramid alive and with the highest treasure value wins. Will you emerge bearing priceless archeological treasures or will you succumb to the mortal dangers waiting inside?

Players can choose from eight different Adventurers, each with their own backstory and special ability, as they commence their expedition. Once inside the pyramid, you and the other Adventurers search for archaeological relics hidden or buried in four chambers or corridors. But beware! Each room carries with it unique perils that can hinder or ultimately finish you, from the bite of a cobra to the haunting touch of a wandering mummy.

The Pyramid of Horus

Once a benevolent god of the desert, Seth’s envious nature transformed him into the god of chaos. Unfortunately for you and the other Adventurers, the pharaoh dedicated his pyramid to Horus, Seth’s sworn enemy. To appease his dark god, pharaoh’s architect and secret cultist, Imhotep, consecrated the pyramid’s ceiling to Seth. But Seth cannot be appeased; he has decided to direct his fury at you and the other invading Adventurers hoping to seal you inside.

From the moment you enter, Seth shakes down the pyramid around you with his thunderous anger; stone blocks randomly fall during each turn. You are in constant danger of being wounded, crushed, or worst of all forever trapped in the pyramid if the falling stones obstruct the only way out. How much time do you have to explore the pyramid before there’s no escape? No one knows!

The game ends when all the Adventurers have either narrowly escaped to safety or been sealed inside by the stone blocks. Unfortunately, successfully leaving the pyramid is only half the battle: to win, you must also have the highest value of treasure looted from the tomb.

You can search for treasure everywhere in the pyramid, beginning in the antechamber, but the farther you descend the higher the value of treasure you find. The pyramid is home to necklaces, treasure-laden sarcophagi, and even sacred idols that are worth a fortune…but also cursed. Of course, you are only capable of carrying a certain amount of treasure which is symbolized by a load level that cannot exceed 12. An adventurer’s load level also determines his speed: the more treasures he carries, the higher his load level and the slower he moves. Sometimes greedy adventurers will be forced to discard some of their treasures to move faster. So do you ditch some of your prizes, or can you get out in time?

Nothing is ever free, and that includes loot. Beyond Seth’s falling stones you must also be wary of hidden threats that can wound you and living mummies who roam the corridors. Wounds will also affect your movement, slowing you down. A wound counts as part of an adventurer’s load level, and constricts the amount of treasure he can carry. Of course, a brave and wise adventurer doesn’t let physical injury stand in the way of fortune. Adventurers can heal themselves by searching for and using equipment. However, the equipment resources are limited—so use caution!

The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus has a tense and immersive playing atmosphere; racing against an unknown time limit pits you against your opponents in a cutthroat competition. What’s more, the beautifully-sculpted Adventurer and Mummy miniatures that accompany the colorfully illustrated cards and detailed game board will draw you into the thrilling danger before you.

Disturbing a cursed pyramid has its hazards, but there is no adventure without risk. Can you make it out alive and wealthy or will this ancient Egyptian tomb be your final resting place?

The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus includes: 8 unique Adventurer cards, 8 beautifully-sculpted Adventurer figures, 3 detailed Mummy figures, 9 easy-to-attach bases, 5 colored dice, and over 100 colorfully illustrated cards.

What’s Hot: Hey, That’s My Fish!

Hey That's My FishHey, That’s My Fish! is an engaging, award-winning board game of strategic fish hunting, in which 2-4 players control determined penguins hungry for their next meal on a bustling Antarctic ice floe. Since Hey, That’s My Fish! was originally published in 2003, it has become widely popular as an engrossing and strategic board game for casual family and tactical play, and it was nominated in 2006 for the Speil des Jahres award.

Your job seems simple: race across a random arrangement of icy fish deposits with a colony of up to four penguins, as you attempt to seize the most fish. But watch out! Competing penguins will try to block you off while the ice floe around you shrinks away. Grab the best fish and outmaneuver your opponents to ensure victory. Whichever player’s penguins collect the most fish by the end of the game is the winner!

Hey, That’s My Fish! is infinitely replayable. The 60 hexagonal tiles that each display 1-3 fish are used to randomly construct the board, which will have your penguins traveling a differently shaped path every game. As you hone your strategy with every new map, will the icy shapes lead to your demise or will you claim victory?

Hey, That’s My Fish! is frenzied fun for any setting, from a light and family-friendly experience to a tense and strategically satisfying face-off. Easy to learn, this exciting board game is accessible for players of any experience level, from casual to competitive gamer.

In this definitive edition of the game, Hey, That’s My Fish! has been repackaged in an easily storable small box. The new penguin miniatures are colorful, more detailed than ever before, and bursting with individual personality. The new art commissioned by Fantasy Flight Games for the compact set of ice tiles clearly displays the number of fish on each tile with lively and colorful renditions.

With plucky bands of penguin miniatures to choose from and high-quality hexagonal tiles with which to create your fishing grounds, players will be engrossed by this Antarctic adventure from their first catch. Outmaneuver the competition and lead your penguin clan to a full-bellied conquest!

Hey, That’s My Fish! includes 60 hexagons to create your ice floe with new artwork renditions of fish, 1 rules sheet, and 16 newly sculpted colorful and animated penguin miniatures.

What’s Hot: Gears of War

Gears of WarFor a time, the humans of Sera knew peace… then Emergence Day came. The Locust horde arrived without warning, and countless horrors spilled forth from their underground burrows. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) struggled to fend off the subterranean threat, but their defenses were quickly crushed. With billions dead, humans turned their weapons of mass destruction on their own cities to deny the enemy control. Now the long struggle against overwhelming odds approaches one final, desperate stand.

After a long, long wait Gears of War Board Game has finally arrived, and it’s landed here at Games Paradise! Fans of theme-heavy combat games like Doom and Descent will definitely want to grab a copy of this game from Fantasy Flight Games, designed by Corey Konieczka and based on the incredibly popular third-person shooter by Epic Games.

One to four players take on the roles of COG soldiers cooperating to destroy the relentless and virtually unstoppable subterranean Locust horde, and must work together to complete missions against an ingeniously challenging and varied ‘artifically intelligent’ game system. In Gears of War: The Board Game, you’ll relive classic moments from the video game. Roadie run into cover, spray your enemy with blind fire, or rip him in half with your Lancer’s chainsaw!

There are seven randomly constructed missions (and you can even play solo) with a variety of challenging objectives and a randomised map setup, so no two games of Gears of War: The Board Game will ever be alike. From scouting a path for future offensives to breaching the underground stronghold of the Locusts, your objectives will take cooperation and determination to complete. But if you want to test your mettle in the most challenging mission available, face wave after wave of incoming Locusts in the merciless Horde Mode! With adjustable degrees of difficulty for the truly insane, this relentless onslaught doesn’t stop until one side is utterly obliterated.

Featuring over 30 highly detailed plastic figures, and over 200 cards, Gears of War: The Board Game is the science-fiction combat extravaganza that thematic boardgamers have been waiting for. So what are you waiting for, soldier? Grab a copy and fight the Horde!!

Guest Video Review: Black Gold

Black GoldThe year is 1922 and the Texas Oil Boom is in full swing. Prepare to head West, surveying the Permian Basin for profitable gushers and gaining more wealth than your fellow prospectors. Are you part of a burgeoning oil family fixed on becoming a dynasty, or a shrewd yankee, tired of watching southerners making their fortune? Whatever your reasons, join the race to become the wealthiest son of a gun in West Texas.

Black Gold is a board game of drilling and discovery for 2-5 prospectors, and play can last from 1-2 hours. Competitors attempt to claim the best wells, bid wisely against their neighbors, and sell their oil at the highest price in order to finish the game with the most money when the Oil Baron’s train reaches the last track.

Our talented guest video reviewer, Drakkenstrike, brings us this detail review of an underrated and very different recent release from Fantasy Flight Games. Thar’s gold in them there hills!

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: Ventura

Ventura“Dove l’oro parla, ogni lingua tace.”
“Where gold speaks, every tongue is silent.”
-Italian proverb

It is an age of great battles, valiant leaders, and unscrupulous mercenary armies. The Italian landscape is littered with noble houses vying for economic and territorial supremacy. The most cunning Captains of Fortune (Capitani di Ventura) have the power to lead the most ambitious of these houses to victory.

Ventura is a new strategic board game for 2-4 players from Fantasy Flight Games. Each player leads a noble family, mustering armies, hurling them into battle, conquering territories, and managing their wealth and resources wisely. Whoever has the best army stands the best chance of conquering. But the best armies are also the most expensive!

Each player assumes command over a unique and historical noble family: Este, Gonzaga, Medici, and Visconti. The oldest of the four—the Este family—was known for their political importance. Ruthless in their scheming for control, they were rewarded by the pope, who bestowed upon them the office of vicar. The Gonzaga family, previously landowners, gained power through a coup d’état. They were known for their civil and intellectual splendor, and diverse skills. Arising from a lineage of bankers, the Medici family gained and consolidated power through cunning and charisma. With a multitude of supporters, the family overthrew the territory’s republic and established a dukedom. The Visconti family were preeminent and powerful artistocrats. They successfully spread their dominion over other cities through the ‘Visconti strategy’.

In order to lead their house to glory, players will have to balance their finances with the development of their armies, while also establishing control across the map. Gameplay unfolds over a series of rounds broken up into phases, with each player recruiting, annexing, expanding, conscripting, mobilizing, and managing their troops before moving on to the next round.

“E un gran pacier la morte.”
“Death is a great peacemaker.”
-Italian Proverb

Ventura

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Update

I’ve written a couple of articles about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the fantasy role-playing game by Fantasy Flight Games set in Games Workshop’s Warhammer world. Check out my Introduction to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and leanr all about the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Guides and Vaults. But what’s been happening in the world of WFRP since we last visited? With the release of the new Black Fire Pass supplement, it seems a good time to check out the range as it stands, and explore why this is one of the most attractive and innovative role-playing systems around.

FFG has followed an interesting format for their main supplements; each features one of the four Ruinous Powers as a framework for expanding a particular sphere of the game, and each includes a small adventure based on that Power and its diabolical machinations. The first of these was The Winds of Magic, which gives players important background and setting information on the Colleges of Magic, some expanded optional rules and additional tools for wizards to practice their art, dozens of new spells across all eight College Orders, and more suggestions and guidance for playing wizard characters. Of course the Ruinous Power Tzeentch is also a master of magic, and he is covered in detail here.

Next came Signs of Faith, a treatise on religion in the Old World and new rules for priests and blessings, and suggestions on playing priestly characters. The daemonic Power explored in this supplement is Nurgle, the Plaguefather, and rules for disease are included to make the setting just that little bit more grim and perilous.

Omens of War covers the art of war in the Empire, new martial options, rules for mounted combat, and new fighting styles—including over 50 new Action cards. The matching Ruinous Power is of course Khorne, and this supplement explores his plans and minions. Give your players a shock with new Severe Injury rules that threaten characters with grisly fates and debilitating wounds, making combat even deadlier.

You can preorder now the newest supplement, Lure of Power, which covers the insidious Ruinous Power of temptation, pleasure and corruption, Slaanesh. Since Slaanesh is especially favoured by the decadent noble classes, this supplement is the perfect opportunity to explore their world, along with supplying new rules for social encounters.

WFRP

A game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in full swing. Beer for the over 18s only of course! There are many different ways of setting up a game, so this is just one way of playing: I’ve added a map and miniatures, my own reference sheets, special character tins, and other bits and bobs to personalise our games. The most important ingredient is not shown—imagination!

Beyond this series has been several adventures to get you roleplaying in the Old World with a minimum of effort: the short campaign The Gathering Storm, the city adventure The Edge of Night, and an adventure in the Cursed Marshes near Marienburg, The Witch’s Song.

Black Fire PassThe newest release is of course a fascinating look into the dwarves and their culture in Black Fire Pass. The dwarf player in our game will be grunting with happiness at this release! Black Fire Pass presents a wealth of new information concerning dwarfs, the hold of Karak Azgaraz, and Black Fire Pass itself. The Book of Grudges features rules for runesmithing, dwarf engineering, ten brand-new dwarf careers, and much more; and also included are details on the history and geography of Black Fire Pass itself, with adventure and episode ideas for GMs and a complete adventure.

As you can see, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is still going strong. In fact I’ve played all three versions of the game since its release way back in 1987, and two of the players in our current group were playing the game when we started! If you’d like to read about the adventures of our group, our blog is here—but be warned, despite it being a fantasy adventure story, it’s not for children, has a language warning, and it’s also full of spoilers!

Games You May Have Missed

Conquest of Planet Earth and Isla Dorada

As gamers, we tend to be obsessed with the latest releases and whatever game is generating the biggest ‘buzz’ at the moment. But I find there are lots of games that get a bit neglected as a result, and don’t get the ‘table time’ they deserve. Games You May Have Missed will be an irregular series of articles looking at games you may have overlooked the first time around, but deserve some more attention. You may discover a lost gem of a game that grows to become a favourite of your collection!

Last night I brought out two games that have been languishing unplayed on my shelf for a while now—Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game by Flying Frog Games and Isla Dorada by Fantasy Flight Games/Fun Forge. Strangely, I’d found the time to paint the figures in both games, create a foamcore insert for one, and make rules summaries for both, but hadn’t yet played them! Both are really fun, luck-based, thematic games that possibly got lost in the cloud of hype surrounding other releases at the time. Let’s revisit them now!

Conquest of Planet EarthConquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game is a little bit different from other Flying Frog releases, and may have been neglected because it was released very close to their other game that features invading aliens, Invasion From Outer Space. That and Flying Frog’s other games: Last Night on Earth and A Touch of Evil, share a similar graphic style (retouched photos of actors instead of illustrations) and style of play (characters move about a map playing thematic cards and fighting). Conquest of Planet Earth, however, is a bit different, though there’s still a heavy reliance on cardplay and combat. The first thing you’ll notice is that it features colourful, cartoony art instead of photos! You choose an alien race (your ‘character’ in the game) that has several special abilities, and begin the game with four flying saucers on your landing site. The board is made up of a central board and one board for each player, each divided into seven locations.

During your turn you secretly bid for how many Action points you will spend during the turn, and the player bidding the least number becomes first player. You can then spend Action points on your turn, moving your saucers to other locations, replacing destroyed saucers, buying tokens to fuel special abilities, or playing event cards that cost Action points to play. When your saucers move to a new location, you draw a Location card, which may represent anything from a military base to a small town to empty countryside. If there is a Resistance value on the location, you draw Resistance cards one at a time, in number equal to the value, fighting each card as it is turned up in an attempt to conquer the location. Depending on how populous the location is, you get Terror points for a conquered location.

So the rules themselves are pretty basic and easy to pick up; but where this game really shines is the fantastic variety of Event cards and ‘Space Stuff’ cards, that cover probably just about every alien invasion B-movie situation you can think of—and then some. You can drop an Atomic Bomb on a location to clear it of rival aliens; spread a Contagion to wipe out the human resistance; try Eating Kittens (‘Now that’s just wrong!’) to increase your Terror level; or play We Come in Peace to automatically win a fight. You might be joined by a Giant Robot ally in your quest to conquer the humans, use Disintegration Beams or a Death Ray to increase your fight strength; or deploy a Massive Blob to wipe out resistance.

The game is hilarious and fun, and as an extra bonus it has rules for both Cooperative and Competitive play—and you can even play solo. We had a great time playing this last night, and I’ll definitely be bringing it out on the table more often when I feel like like a good laugh and a light game.

Conquest of Planet Earth

Painted Ally miniatures (front and back shown) representing classic movie monster aliens (supplied unpainted in the game).

Isla DoradaThe second game of the evening was Isla Dorada, designed by Bruno Faidutti (of Citadels and Ad Astra fame) by Fantasy Flight Games/Fun Forge. Faidutti considers it his best design, and I think it’s a very clever and very interactive game that is perfect for families, in the vein of Ticket to Ride—in fact it very much feels like a DOW game rather than a FFG one.

The main mechanic of Isla Dorada is a bidding one. You have a single expedition figure on the island map, and each turn players bid a number of cards to control the expedition for that turn and move it where they want to go. Different cards are used to bid for different types of paths—mountain, jungle, desert, river, and sea paths, and even air travel by giant bird or zeppelin. Of course there’s also a plethora of special cards that can do things like stop another player from bidding, convert cards to different types, and keep the expedition moving past the next location on the route. At first it all seems a bit daunting as all these cards have different semi-imaginary names in keeping with the ‘lost pacific island’ theme; but an excellent pictorial reference sheet helps you pick it up very quickly and before long you’re remembering which card is which with ease.

So why do you want to control the expedition’s destination? Well, at the start of the game, and at two points during it, you receive Treasure cards keyed to various locations. You also get a Destiny card, which gives you points for visiting a particular series of locations, and you can get Curse cards, which can reduce your points if you go to those places. So each player has very definite ideas indeed about where the expedition should go on the island! It’s a chaotic and crazy game with a little bit of what gamers call ‘screwage’ (ie, you have opportunities for making things tough for other players), all wrapped up in colourful and light-hearted artwork. There’s even three beautiful large miniatures incuded; one for the expedition and two for the Bigfoot and Leviathan, which can be played to block map routes.

Isla Dorada

Painted Isla Dorada miniatures (supplied unpainted in the game).

I thoroughly enjoyed playing these two games and they’ll definitely be seeing more table time in the future. It just goes to show that occasionally you have to step back from the ‘new stuff’ and have a look at what else is out there. That’s why these articles will be here to keep you updated with games you might have missed! Good gaming!

You can find rules summaries and reference sheets for both of the games at my blog if you follow these links: Conquest of Planet Earth and Isla Dorada.

Guest Video Review: Blood Bowl Team Manager

Blood Bowl Team ManagerThe highly anticipated Blood Bowl Team Manager card game is coming soon from Fantasy Flight Games! Fans of the Games Workshop classic Blood Bowl have been waiting for this one for a long time, and after the release of the video game, it’s a perfect time to see this much-loved setting brought back to gamers.

Our guest video reviewer, Drakkenstrike, presents this detailed and very professional look at the game’s components and play. Enjoy!

Keep an eye out here for more information on the game as soon as it’s available!

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