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Tag: Z-Man Games (page 1 of 2)

What’s Hot: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Enter the world of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead! Take on the role of Rick, Shane, Andrea, and other favorite characters in a world suddenly full of zombies. With only one companion at the start of the game, each player must struggle to gather resources, find other survivors, and eventually find a refuge from the zombies that have taken over the landscape. Can you find enough resources and scout enough locations to find a safe haven to escape to?

Each player takes on the role of one of six key characters from The Walking Dead. With meager resources and only one other companion, each player must travel across north Georgia in search of food, ammunition, gas and other survivors. But… wherever a player moves, the zombie hordes are always right behind them. Who will be the first to scout three locations and find refuge from… The Walking Dead?

The Walking Dead boardgame is based on the original graphic novels of Robert Kirkman (not the recent television series) and features fantastic artwork from Charlie Adlard throughout. The encounter and location cards recreate scenes and events from the comics, so for fans this is a ‘must buy’. Zombie boardgame fans in general, however, will love this fast-paced, fun, luck-heavy boardgame of survival in the zombie apocalypse!

Game Contents: 4 Blue “Hero” Dice, 4 Red “Warrior” Dice, Green “Scavenger” Dice, 1 Black “Ammo” Die, 216 Zombie Tokens, 72 Fatigue Markers, 6 Starting Character Cards, 23 Follower Cards, 26 Location Cards, 90 Encounter Cards, 6 Starting Character Portraits, 6 Bases, 6 Player Sheets, 1 Game Board, 1 Rulebook, 18 Resource Markers, and 23 Follower Tokens.

No. of players: 1-6
Ages: 13+
Playing time: 30-60 minutes

What’s Hot: Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame

Guards GuardsIt was early in the morning in Ankh-Morpork, the oldest and greatest and grubbiest of cities. A thin drizzle dripped from the grey sky and punctuated the river mist that coiled among the streets. Rats of various species went about their nocturnal occasions. Under night’s damp cloak assassins assassinated, thieves thieved, hussies hussled. And so on. Terry Pratchett

In the heart of this wondrous metropolis stands the Unseen University. In the heart of the Unseen University stands the Library. And in the heart of the Library stands an Ape, although like most Orangutans its posture leaves a lot to be desired. Currently, however, the curvature of his spine is the least of the Librarian’s problems. The greatest treasure housed within the stark, aged walls of the Unseen University is missing. His first worry is how he will explain to the Wizards Council that the Octavo has been stolen. Especially since, as an Ape, he has a vocabulary of one word: “OOOK!” But he fears more for the consequences that may befall the entire Discworld if the eight Great Spells are not returned to their rightful place soon.

As word of the theft spreads through the streets and alleys, Captain Vimes of the City Watch assembles his men. “I’m sure you are all aware of my feelings on these matters, however it falls to us to ensure the spells are found and returned to where they belong. Nobody wants something that powerful to fall into the wrong hands. The Thieves Guild have denied any involvement in the theft and are offering to assist in finding the spells. The Assassins and Fools Guilds have done likewise. Even the Alchemists, possibly the only people to dislike magic even more than myself, realise the danger we are facing, and have offered their help.”

“I have given you all instructions on which of the Great Spells you are looking for, and need each of you to work with one of the guilds to find out what you can, and get me those spells.”

It’s that simple…

Or at least it would be if this wasn’t Ankh-Morpork. Pitted against the other players, who will be all out to return the spells first and will be just itching to use their new found Guild abilities on anybody who might get in their way, and the everyday perils of life in the busiest, most populated and least law-abiding city on the Discworld, things are never quite that simple. Throw in trolls, saboteurs, cut-throat street sellers and an 800 pound set of luggage thundering around the city on hundreds of tiny legs. Here begins an action packed, fast-paced adventure through the streets of Ankh-Morpork in which the players will need all their wits just to survive the day, never mind retrieving the spells and saving the Discworld from looming destruction.

In Guards! Guards! players are newly recruited members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. With the Eight Great Spells missing from the Unseen University, the future of the Disc hangs in the balance. Players are tasked to collect and return a number of the spells to the university before it is too late. Each player selects one of four Guilds to infiltrate: Thieves, Assassins, Alchemists or Fools. Their chosen Guild Card will give them a specific selection of the Great Spells to collect and grants them a unique Guild Ability which can be used to hinder their opponents. It is also used to mark the players Charm, Guild and Magic abilities, which can be developed throughout the game.

There are twelve locations on the board where players may charm (or bribe) volunteers to join them on their quest. The characters are split into three Volunteer Decks, each representing the range of inhabitants who might be found in different locations within the city: Lords & Ladies, Man & Beast and Shades & Shadows. Each Volunteer is assigned a set of skill attributes which can be used individually to protect the Spells, or combined with those of other volunteers and used to complete the Wizards Challenges—five tests of strength, brain, and worthiness which the runners must complete in order to enter the Unseen University with the Spells. A selection of enchanted scrolls, weapons, armour and magical items can be purchased by players to equip their volunteers and boost their attributes.

Are you a gamer who’s a fan of the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels? If you are, be sure to grab yourself a copy of the brand new Discworld boardgame.

Contents: 1 Rulebook; 6 Player’s Guides; 1 Playing Board; 1 8 sided die; 6 Coloured Playing Pieces; 18 Attribute Markers (red cubes), 25 Great Spell Markers (gold cylinders); 5 Plastic card holders; 8 Guild Cards, 4 Dragon Cards, 30 Lords & Ladies Volunteer Cards, 30 Man & Beast Volunteer Cards, 30 Shades & Shadows Volunteer Cards, 20 Curses & Cures Scroll Cards, 20 Odds & Sods Item cards, 36 Fate Cards; heaps of markers and tokens; 56 Silver 1 Ankh-Morpork $ coins and
39 Gold 5 Ankh-Morpork $ coins.

No. of players: 2-6
Ages: 12+
Playing time: 120 minutes

Guest Video Review: Ninjato

NinjatoIn 12th century Japan, the Minamoto and Taira clans vie for power while retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa plays his rivals against one another. One of the three factions will triumph to impose the coming social order. In the shadow of these elite powers, a few ninja scheme to exploit the chaos. Daring raids, skill mastery, and subtle intrigue are essential to establishing one’s honor. When the new era dawns, one ninja will flourish as the Ninjato, the Invisible Sword of the ruling family.

Joel Eddy of DriveThru Reviews is our guest this week, with this great video review of the upcoming Ninjato from Z-Man Games.

This game is particularly close to my heart because I did the graphic design for it! To celebrate its impending release, I’ll be writing a ‘design diary’ article on the creation of the graphics, plus featuring an interview with Adam West of Crosscut games, one of the game designers.

Adding to Earth Reborn!

Adding to Earth Reborn

I’ve been very interested in Z-man Games’s epic Earth Reborn lately. This is a game that hearkens back to the days of ‘big box’ games by Games Workshop in the 90s like Advanced Space Crusade and Warhammer Quest; a game packed with potential for enhancement, homegrown scenarios, and expansion—a big ‘sandbox’ of a game. Let me tell you a bit more about Earth Reborn, what makes it so much fun, and show you some things I’ve already done to enhance this fantastic post-apocalyptic combat game.

Firstly, the makers of this game have already provided the gamer with endless hours of gameplay, and there’s really nothing that has to be added to what’s in the box and what’s online. The game itself comes with nine scenarios that have a lot of replay value, but the included Scenario Auto Generating System (affectionately dubbed ‘S.A.G.S.’) means that by following specific rules, you can easily generate an infinite number of scenarios yourself. You go through the steps of building a map, assembling teams, selecting equipment, and then drawing a number of Mission cards from the supplied decks, and you’re ready to go. And there’s even a S.A.G.S. system specifically designed for 3 or 4 players.

There’s a lot more stuff for the game at the Earth Reborn website, where you’ll find an community of Earth Reborn players, online and offline map designers, multi-player rules, and player-created scenarios to try.

Anyway, back to the game. I must admit it took me a little time to get my head around the quite original activation and combat systems in Earth Reborn, but once I understood what was going on it all clicked smoothly into place. The basis of the game are Order tiles and Command Point counters. Basically, whenever you activate a character you draw an Order tile from the bag, add it to the selection of tiles and Command Points you have hidden behind your little player screen, then choose a tile to assign to your character. You then assign Command Point tokens to actions on the tile. Each tile has four order types on it—either close combat, move, interact, search, or shoot actions, with a number on each type shown.

You assign CP counters to the orders you want your character to take, as he takes them. For example, you may want to assign 2 CP to a move action, so if your character has a movement value of 5, he could move 10 squares. Then you could assign 1 CP to a close combat action, allowing your character to attack an adjacent enemy. Then you could assign another 1 CP to another move action so he could run off another 5 squares afterward!

You can easily see that this ingenious system gives you an incredible amount of flexibility during your turn—it’s not just ‘move then shoot’. However the selection of tiles and the amount of CP counters you have also give you built-in limits which can be incredibly frustrating and really get you thinking tactically! You may have plenty of options for running around at high speed, but very few for delivering accurate fire or strong attacks, for example. You have to manage your options carefully for the optimal result. This makes every game interesting and different.

I won’t go into all the specifics of the combat system—not to mention all the other possibilities for manipulating equipment, spying, searching for items or even capturing your opponents and torturing them for information!—but suffice it to say they all flow very smoothly and once you get the hang of the Iconographic Phrasing System (I.P.S.—these designers love their acronyms!) you can see at a glance how each special ability works.

In short, if you love an extremely thematic game with a lot of tactical possibilities, detail, and endless opportunity for expansion, you’ll love Earth Reborn. It’s definitely a game for ‘game hobbyists’.

Now, on to my personal improvements for owners of the game. Firstly, I’ve created a comprehensive rules summary and set of reference sheets: download them here. The game rules can be quite daunting at first glance, but the nine scenarios cleverly take you through the rules, adding concepts as you play through them and get used to the way the game works. But once you’re using all the rules you’ll find my summary very useful to give you all the information you need without all the detail and examples that are in the rulebook.

Another thing I did was to redesign the character cards that come with the game (you’ll find them in the above file). Now of course the original cards work just fine, but I decided I’d make them a bit bigger and a bit clearer, and actually write out the special abilities as well as show them with the icon system. These are just an optional extra, but a good example of how a game like this can bring out the hobbyist in some gamers!

Earth Reborn card redesign

Earth reborn character card design: just an example of the kind of thing you can do to modify and enhance your games.

Of course, I’ve already painted all the miniatures that came with the game, and you can check out my Earth Reborn Painting Guide if you need some tips.

Finally, I decided to replace the original box insert with my own, made of that incredibly useful stuff—foamcore. You can find foamcore in art supply shops and it’s very easy to cut with a craft knife and a metal ruler (watch those fingers!), and build with using white glue (and pins for extra strength). Now the plastic box insert that comes with the game is actually custom-designed and has a special place for everything, but I personally like to make foamcore inserts for most of my games. This one is designed with a removable tray for all the counters. In a future article I’ll tell you about the art of foamcore and how to build box inserts and game enhancements.

Earth Reborn box insert

My custom-made foamcore box insert. Note the custom character cards and removable counter tray. Note that the green plastic marker has been added by me as an Iniative token, and the figures originally come unpainted.

As you can see, Earth Reborn is not just a game, it’s a hobby, and I’m sure I’ll come up with even more ways to enhance the game as I play it more often. But then that’s one of the endlessly fascinating things about gaming in general; you don’t have to stop at what you’ve been given in the box!

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: Mermaid Rain

Mermaid RainIn Mermaid Rain, you explore the ocean and gather as many treasures as possible in order to win the heart of your Prince. Unfortunately, you can’t win the heart of the Prince while stuck in the ocean—you will need to spend some of your treasure to appease the witch, who can transform your glorious fish tail into functional legs! Then, hopefully, you will have enough treasure left to dazzle the Prince (you know, he really doesn’t sound like a guy worth going to all that trouble for 😉 Ed).

The main action of Mermaid Rain is divided into two phases: the ‘Surf predicting’ phase and the ‘Surf riding’ phase. In the ‘Surf predicting’ phase of each round, you make melds by using the cards in your hand to gain a Surf tile and determine player order. In the ‘Surf riding’ phase, you place the Surf tile on the board, move your Mermaid across the waves by using cards from your hand, and gather treasures. Gain enough treasure and win your Prince!

Fans of Taj Mahal and Elfenland will especially enjoy this challenging and original game with intuitive and elegant mechanics from the Japanese designers Keiji Kariya and Hitoshi Yasuda.

Contents: board, scoring board, 87 cards, 36 surf tiles, 72 treasure tokens, 6 scoring tokens, 6 mermaids stand ups with plastic bases, and rules.

Earth Reborn Painting Guide

Earth Reborn Painting Guide

Earth Reborn is a fantastically detailed skirmish game set on a post-apocalyptic earth that features an incredible array of scenarios and a rich, tactical system. Like all good skirmish games, it comes with some very cool miniature figures, and like all miniature figures, they look a lot better when they’re painted! In the tradition of my Mansions of Madness Painting Guide, allow me to take you through the process of getting your plain plastic figures looking like proper post-apocalyptic warriors!

There are a couple of things about Earth Reborn that make the miniatures easier to paint, and there’s one thing that makes it a little trickier. For a start, you won’t have to worry about the usual wash-in-detergent-and-water and undercoating steps. Your figures are already primed and ready to paint, and I had no problems painting directly onto the figures. As usual, however, I did do a little clean-up with a sharp blade (watch your fingers kids!), removing a few mould lines and imperfections.

Another thing that makes the painting easier is the excellent reference material—in the Earth Reborn Scenario Book you’ll find some large illustrations that are a good guide to colour choices. I chose to follow these pretty closely, but of course you can pick any colours you’re happy with. The Mammoth Mark II has a camouflage pattern, for example, that I didn’t bother to paint on the miniature.

What makes these figures a little trickier to paint are the bases. The figures come glued to bases that already have stickers attached to them (showing the different coloured arcs for line of sight and damage). This means that you’ll either have to remove the figures from the bases before painting, or paint carefully around the feet. I originally removed the figures, but I must admit it probably would have been easier just to paint carefully near the actual sticker, because you can damage it by removing the figure if you’re not careful—and lucky!

Remember, what follows is just my personal approach to painting these miniatures! There are many different ways of painting—lots of people like painting on top of a black undercoat, for example—but I’ve found this technique gives me a nice balance between good-looking playing pieces for my games, and getting them done relatively fast so we can start playing! Some painters may choose more careful, slower techniques, and there’s no doubt these are very detailed character pieces that would benefit from that approach.

My technique, however, is based heavily around a little product from Games Workshop that pretty much changed my life when it came to painting figures faster—yes, I’m talking about that wonderful wash, Devlan Mud! I can’t tell you how much this stuff speeds up my painting. For most figures, all you have to do is paint your base colours, wash the figure in Devlan Mud, then do one or two quick highlighting passes, to get a great looking figure. The trick with Devlan Mud is, after you’ve applied it, use a dry brush to soak up any excess wash in or on the areas where you don’t want it to pool (wipe it on a piece of paper towel each time you soak up some wash). That way you have lots of control over how the shadows and detail are brought out by the wash.

Remember, check out my earlier article A Beginners Guide To Figure Painting, which covers the basics of miniature painting you need to know to get started.

So, let’s have a look at my results, which hopefully will inspire you to get these great figures painted!

Earth RebornEarth RebornFirst we have some of the Salemite figures; left to right: Professor John Kendall Jr, Jeff Keeler, Franck Einstein (groan!), and Jessica Hollister. With all of these close-up photographs the individual brushstrokes tend to stand out more, but at a normal viewing distance the highlights blend in nicely. Remember, I’m going for attractive playing pieces here, not showcase or competition paint jobs! As you can see, the Earth Reborn figures are absolutely covered in fine detail, which really benefits from a tiny brush and a steady hand at the highlighting stage. Luckily your Devlan Mud wash will have brought out all that detail and made it easy to see!

Earth RebornEarth RebornNext up we have some more Salemite faction figures: Jack Saw, Cherokee Bill, and two zombies! Yep, the Salemites are very much into re-using the dead for their own nefarious purposes, and in fact poor old Jack Saw has been dead for quite some time as well. The two zombies took a little more effort to complete, because unfortunately the cards for them (Zombie 1 and Zombie 2) are mixed up. So I went to the completely unnecessary trouble of swapping the zombies on their bases. Then I discovered that this changed the facing of the figures a bit, so I cut and shifted the heads so they were facing the right way! That explains why these zombies won’t look like the ones you get in your game, and the right-hand one is looking like a bit of a reject from Saturday Night Fever! Still, I like the results …

Earth RebornEarth RebornFinally, it’s time for the good guys, who have the biggest, baddest figure in the game—the Mammoth Mk II! The NORAD faction may seem to be badly outnumbered, but nothing is quite what it seems in this game as there are traitors around every corner …

With our giant robot is Colonel Nick Bolter, Lieutenant Monica Vasquez, and Agent James Woo. I gave Bolter and the Mammoth the same base colour so they go together nicely. Woo has a pretty sharp metallic-and-grey look happening, and Vasquez is in no-nonsense browns.

The Mammoth may look like a slightly daunting figure to paint, but the same techniques apply. A thin coat of GW Dheneb Stone, and some Chainmail on the machine parts, all washed with Devlan Mud. Then I went carefully over the miniature with two stages of highlighting. For machines like this ‘edge highlighting’ is particularly effective. With a tiny brush just highlight the edges of all the shapes, imagining a light source shining down from above the miniature as a guide. Don’t forget to highlight the bottom of those little battle damage scars, it really brings them out and gives the robot that ‘in the wars’ feel. The Devlan Mud wash I left pretty rough on this figure, as it nicely represented the oily, used look I was going for with this workhorse combat robot. I bit of a black drybrush around the weapon ports adds to the effect.

The spotlights are easily done: a base blue, with a dark rim at the top, a light rim at the bottom, and a white dot at the top for a highlight and you’re done.

You’re ready for combat in the Earth Reborn! Happy painting!

Universal Head

(As always, head to my Headless Hollow site for a Earth Reborn rules summary and reference sheet. Enjoy!)

Great Games From Z-Man

Z-Man Games

Z-Man Games have been churning out fantastic boardgames for several years now, games that cover the gamut from hardcore Euro strategy games to Amertitrash-style themefests. Here’s a personal look at a batch of Z-Man games I’ve just received that I’m really looking forward to getting onto the gaming table!

Earth Reborn really takes me back to the 1980s and those halycon days of getting the latest big box Games Workshop game home, ripping off the shrink rap and pouring over the goodies inside. It’s chock-full of stuff (the box lid is literally bursting off the box!), both in components and gaming variety, and the official Earth Reborn website is busily creating new scenarios and variants as we speak. This isn’t just a game, it’s a modular sandbox system that is sure to see expansions in the future and will give the dedicated post-apocalyptic skirmish combat gamer many, many hours of gaming pleasure.

Earth Reborn doesn’t throw you in the deep end with a whole lot of complex rules however; it leads you through the rules in a series of nine linked scenarios, ranging from the basics of movement and close combat all the way through to assigning combined orders to your characters. Unlike typical skirmish games, there’s an interesting system of order tiles which players can assign to characters, and using command point markers, assign command points to various actions on the tiles.

The terrain your characters fight and complete missions over is a wide range of fully-illustrated modular board sections that can be combined in near-infinite ways depending on the scenario. Apart from the usual combat options, characters have a whole lot of interactions they can perform with the tiles—activating command consoles for example, or opening sliding doors with magnetic cards, or perhaps turning a cadaver into a zombie in the cryogenic chamber! There’s also an impressive selection of technological items and equipment to use: a deadly virus, a magnetic disruptor, smoke grenades, and a chainsaw—to name just a few.

One of the most impressive inclusions in the game is the set of 12 resin figures, including a huge robot miniature. They’re very nicely detailed and I’m really looking foward to getting them to the painting table to add the finishing touch to the game (look out for my results in a future article).

RattusFor something completely different, the role-selection game Rattus is a compact and beautifully designed little game set during the spread of the Black Death in Europe, 1347! For some reason this theme really appeals to me, but then I’m a history buff. Lovely illustrations and colours really set this game apart, but the gameplay is also a lot of fun, especially when combined with the extra options of the Pied Piper expansion (coming soon to the store hopefully—or ask us to get it in).

Each player chooses a class card each turn, but you can have more than one, and use the special abilities of all your cards. You can also take your class card from another player! Then you place cubes of your colour in regions on the map of Europe, and then move the Plague piece to a region neighbouring its current location. If there are already rat tokens in this new region, the rats spread to neighbouring regions. Then rat tokens are revealed in the region with the Plague piece, and the player’s cubes can be ravaged by the plague! At the end of the game when the rat tokens are depleted, the player with the most cubes still on the map is the winner.

Of course this is just the basics, and the class cards add all kinds of tricky variations to the basic rules, moving cubes and rat tokens, keeping cubes safe in the King’s palace, and adding more cubes to the board. It’s a game that Tom Vasel of the highly regarded Dice Tower reviews calls “a lot of fun” and ‘highly recommended”, and I can hardly wait to introduce it to some friends who enjoy less ‘heavy’ games.

Merchants and MaraudersFrom sc-ifi, to medieval Europe, to everyone’s favourite, pirates! Merchants & Marauders seems to have come closer than any other game so far to the ‘perfect’ pirate game that everyone seems obssessd with. Again, it’s a beautifully produced game—I can see those lovely plastic pirate ships being reused in any number of pirate games—with a stunning mapboard of the Caribbean, lots of cards, tokens and even 3D constructable chests in which to keep your secret stash of gold!

Merchants & Marauders is a true pirate adventure game wth many, many options to explore; you can choose to concentrate on merchant activities, buying and selling goods across the Caribbean, or you can raid other merchant ships and build up your Glory points and a reputation as the most ruthless pirate on the high seas—the choice is yours. Be careful however, as nations will be putting bounties on your head, and other players will be pursuing the glory of defeating you to collect them! Modify your ship—or buy a more powerful one—add special weapons like grappling hooks and chain-shot, follow rumours and react to events and non-player enemies. Curses, rum running, governor’s daughters, hurricanes—anyone who’s ever said ”argggghhh” and squinted through one eye is going to love this game!

Finally, there’s a lot of crazy irreverent fun to be had with Road Kill Rally, and if you’re a big fan of road rage games like me, you’ve probably been missing this chance to combine car racing, high calibre weapons and the fun of running over pedestrians to score points! Road Kill Rally uses modular board tiles to build a track of endless variety, and a card-and-dice-based system to cover everything from hitting the nitrous oxide to re-rolling a bad roll thanks to the luck of your fuzzy dice! Each player has a custom dashboard on which to record their speed, kills and damage, and the unique dice—big red splats on two sides—make it easy to see when you’ve scored a hit. I can see this game being a lot of fun and laughs—go on, who hasn’t ever wanted to whip out an orbital death laser when another car cut you off?

Even this short look at a few of the most recent Z-Man Games reveals the kind of variety in style and theme that the company is renowned for. Any one of these games will bring you endless hours of gaming fun—so grab one and get gaming!

What’s Hot: Earth Reborn

Earth RebornThe end of the world does not come suddenly. It is much more insidious.

500 years after the devastation of the Earth, two factions arise from their underground cities. NORAD, militaristic, scientific, paranoid. Salemites, occultists experimenting with the revival of the dead. Both factions meet for the first time and instantly clash.

Earth Reborn is a highly realistic, scenario-based simulation game which is rich in depth and possibilities.

Although it may seem complex at first glance, it is in fact quite simple and intuitive once you have learned the basics. The rulebook guides you step-by-step through the process of mastering all of Earth Reborn’s secrets as you play through the tutorial scenarios. Start with the set of core rules, then play through the scenarios, progressively adding rules and expanding your gameplay options. When you reach the final scenario, all that Earth Reborn is will have been revealed to you!

Earth Reborn has been called the ‘heavy metal music of boardgames’, and it certainly conjures up the old days of big Games Workshop boxes stuffed with miniatures, full-on art and full-tilt gameplay. It comes with 12 highly detailed miniatures and a heap of fully-illustrated board tiles, and the colourful characters can do everything from straight up combat to blowing up walls to even torturing their foes for information!

There’s also a dedicated website with more scenarios, a scenario builder and more!

What’s Hot: Road Kill Rally

Road Kill Rally

2035: The Road Kill Rally becomes a worldwide phenomenon, attracting contestants from throughout the world. Ratings exceed three billion for the Rally Cup Finals, making it the most watched spectacle in human history!

As a driver in the Road Kill Rally, you are racing against opponents eager to destroy you with guns, rockets and flame throwers. But the big points come from scoring pedestrians: running them over or blasting them out of the road. After all, you have three billion viewers to satisfy.

It’s Car Wars meets Death Race 2000 meets Carmageddon! Road Kill Rally simulates the fast paced action of futuristic motorized death sports where superstar drivers in weapon-laden cars race through the streets of America in search of blood, fame and fortune. Points are scored by killing pedestrians, destroying competing drivers and racing across the finish line first. The surviving driver with the highest number of points at the end of the race is the winner!

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