Boardgaming in 2020: the year of the, uh, post-minis era? We can only hope!

Coming May 15

So is this Betrayal at the House on the Hill: Scooby-Doo Edition?

Regarding the new Gloomhaven thing, I’m interested, but we only made it halfway through the original. So, like the Kingdom Death: Monster second KS, is feel weird about paying a bunch for more (standalone) content when there’s so much I haven’t played that I already own.

On the other hand, I just today finally took a look at the Vampire: The Masquerade: Chapters Kickstarter that has about a week left, and man, I’m tempted. It basically looks like Vampire: Gloomhaven- big, branching campaign, etc, but it also has options for other, non-combat event resolutions, including “40+ branching dialogue books (with over 200,000 words)” which just sounds wacky. I mean, sure, I still have the aforementioned Gloomhaven, KD:M (and others) to get through, and Etherfields and Sleeping Gods on the way on the next few months, but this isn’t availed to ship until summer 2021. I should have plenty of time to get through all that before then, right?

So is Fantasy Flight dead? They seemed to have collapsed into a red dwarf of nothing but collectible card and miniature games. You have to go 7 pages deep into their front page news before you can find anything about something that’s not CCG or minis. Wizards of the Games Coast Shop.

Arkham Horror 3 was thrown out half-baked but designed to be easily built on with expansions, and then they whiffed on the expansion, taking an entire year and only including TWO new scenarios before immediately going silent. Not one peep of new news for 4 months. Instead, resources were put into the only new board game they’ve put out for the last 7 months, the total dud Final Hour.

They appear to be cranking out plenty of product to me.

That they’re not cranking out product to support the games you’d like them doesn’t make them “dead” – though they have done plenty of layoffs lately.

Agreed. Their release schedule between now and April is packed.

Any word if they’re done with “board” board games and if AH3 is getting abandoned?

It certainly seems it, AH 3 was perfect for cranking out expansions and I thought they would have some in the hopper and just crank them out,

If it’s dead, then I wish they would just reprint the AH 2 stuff.

Looking at the upcoming releases, the majority of them seem to be minis or card-based. Not much actual board game stuff in there.

Well that’s unfortunate. While not technically “dead”, it’s like hearing that your favorite video game company is now going F2P mobile only.

I’ll miss old FFG. They were a big part of the forefront for kicking off the board game renaissance during the mid to late 00s. They showed you could have great production values and art back when non-Hasbro boardgames meant crusty cardboard chit & hex strategy games.

I guess ccg’s and minis only was the natural progression of their business model. Is that the only option now for established publishers in a post Kickstarter world?

Yeah, there was a time when a FFG game in a theme I liked would be a buy for me. Now, after AH3, I am not sure. I don’t mind AH3, and the story bits and the modular setup are great. I don’t think the scenarios have any more limited replay that AH2’s race to seal gates.

One criticism a friend had about AH3 is it would be nice if they either supplied enough monsters to create a scenario pack for each scenario, or sold them as an add-on. It would let me put each scenario in a zip log bag to set up quickly.

The gates were the objectives, and you couldn’t completely plan where they’d turn up or which other world they’d take you to.

AH3 you know exactly when and where each objective stage is going to pop up. The rumors are also fairly inconsequential compared to AH2/Eldritch so you don’t even have that shaking things up.

If they’re going to wash their hands of AH3, I wish they’d release some kind of “randomizer” pack for the existing scenarios as a swan song. Set up the objectives like the adventure decks in Eldritch. That way they could still retain the story nature of the scenarios by offering “acts” and randomly picking a card for each one from 3-5 possible choices. In fact, I’d prefer if they went with that system for any new scenarios going forward.

Also be nice if they expanded the starting equipment options. It was a neat idea but pretty anemic in execution.

I forgot the original designer left, so that accounts for some delay. I am holding out some hope they will release a new expansion this year.

Same with Mansions of Madness, I wonder why they just don’t release a ton more cheap downloadable e-scenarios (DLC, printable sheets) for $5 a pop. How much overhead could that possibly entail? It’d be almost pure profit.

They don’t even pay artists for new illustrations! :p

We’ve been over the MoM situation in one thread or another around here. Really what you should just do is get the Valkyrie fan-created App, that imports the official app assets for the full experience, and allows for fan-created material (and includes a construction kit/tutorials, etc) if you want to try for yourself. It’s a few years old now, and there’s a ton of scenarios, all rated and reviewed, multiple languages, etc.

Speaking of FFG…

Is anyone else excited about this:

It might be the exact expansion pack I wanted for this dumb game (that I still enjoy).

Not dead, but FFG is having a tough time:

It is with sadness that d20Radio communicates what we have confirmed is a large layoff of key personnel positions within Fantasy Flight Games. According to our sources, the decision was communicated to the affected employees on Monday, January 6. The two prominent areas of layoff we have confirmed are both Fantasy Flight Interactive (the company’s digital game studio) and the RPG department .

Tried Cataclysm: A Second World War yesterday. I thought I remembered Tom reviewing this, but I can’t find the article anywhere.

Well, we “tried” in the sense we parsed the (30 page) rulebook, spent half an hour setting up, and another 90 minutes going through a single turn. This thing is Twilight Imperium level of commitment, where it’s a requirement for everyone to read the rules ahead of time and set aside an entire day (4-10 hours).

So it’s an economic/diplomatic/war WWII grand strategy game. The twist is that it starts in 1930, when the name of the game is diplomatic developments and the conversion from a peaceful to wartime economy. War production and offensives become easier the higher level of war readiness your economy gets, but you get increasing penalties to internal unrest checks that could lead to the collapse of your government, which you have to offset with more and more effort spent to keeping the propaganda train going. You can even push your economy to a final “exhausted” state which makes costs and offensives even lower, but permanently lowers the maximum size of your military, a last ditch effort as your nation starts throwing cheap designs, synthetic fuels, and child soldiers into the fray.

So it mostly becomes a tightrope act as the Axis and Russians balance keeping up peaceful pretenses while trying to time when and how often they switch into higher gear. The democracies (US/UK/France) are severely limited in actions until the other players begin turning on the war machine, sort of like the forces of good in War of the Ring. The “baddies” have to decide if ramping up right now is worth the increased alarm from the West (Japan even starts off receiving extra production from U.S. scrap metal & oil shipments which get cut off as they become aggressive).

I could see this being a very interesting system, but good god does it demand commitment. It is NOT simple or intuitive (like Twilight Imperium 4ed. quickly becomes). It’s one of those games where one person is constantly asking “what’s the rule for…” while another flips through the 30 page rules trying to find the answer. It makes a lot of design fumbles for ease of play like no well designed individual player aid sheets (there are some, but they’re very hard to understand unless you already know the rules). The worst is that several essential to know nation conditions are all kept track of on a single separate sheet, not on your own. Want to know your own nation’s stability level? Alliances? THE CURRENT TURN? None of this is on your sheet or even on the board. Crane your neck and peer over the table as you squint to find your marker on the small, hard to read spaces of the separate sheet that keeps track of all this.

There are crazy rules about adjacency, supply lines, special one time historical powers for each nations, FIVE different kinds of attacks and half a dozen die modifiers for each one, and so on. I was getting BAD Hitler’s Reich flashbacks trying to make sense of them. It definitely looks better than the mess of HR once you learn it, but the hurdle is just as big, if not bigger.

On the plus side it’s fairly cheap (chits + paper sheet board) for usually under $50. You do need one damn committed group of 3 (other player variants look lame and tacked on) if you’re going to go at it though.

Game night last night (although only 3 of us). Played In the Hall of the Mountain King. Great piece of music. Pretty OK game?

Not unexpectedly, I got trounced since it was my first time playing and the other 2 guys had a bit of experience with it. Still enjoyed it though. I’d say it’s a perfectly cromulent resource-management Euro with some spatial elements and a wacky theme. Components are excellent, and I suspect, a big reason why the game is rated highly on BGG right now. I don’t think it’s doing anything particularly amazing. You move the pieces around and activate the systems and score points in one of several ways and then someone wins. Sound familiar?

I don’t want to be too dismissive. Sometimes I’m totally in the mood for a non-interactive Euro that presents complicated little systems for you to explore and unravel. They usually don’t blow me out of the water, though, like more confrontational games do. My favorite Euro is probably still Concordia, as I especially like its puzzles and level of interactivity. My guess is that people will forget about Hall of the Mountain King pretty quickly.

Played crystal palace last night. You manage a London football league… wait, no. Its 1849 and you represent your nation as you try to acquire pattons and inventors. The game is chock full of dice as you fight for the various spots on the boards, but no rolling here. you can set your die to whatever number you want. The rub is you have to pay at the start of the round before you place your dice . Money is extremely tight and players can place dice in a way that even if you place first you arent guaranteed you will get first choice, unless you slap down an expensive 6. The rules are fairly simple but it is very much a brain burner. Absolutely love it.

Private equity/greedy CEO/founder gonna private equity/greedy CEO/founder.

It’s been local knowledge that it is a shitty place to work for a long time.

That’s pretty unfortunate to hear.