Games News! 13/07/15
The big story this week is the arrival of Games Workshop’s divisive, eccentric reboot of Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. The new ruleset scraps point values for miniatures, leaving players to guess at what a fair fight might look like. It also adds a ton of bonuses that players can earn by acting a certain way while they play. Own a stuck-up High Elf dragon rider? You can re-roll your dice if you don’t smile for the entire hero phase.
A lot of Warhammer fans are confused. Some are upset. Some are really upset. And then you have the guy who uploaded a video where he sets fire to his army.
I’ve been watching the fallout for a week. It’s nuts!
As to why they did this, the short version of the story is that Warhammer Fantasy wasn’t making Games Workshop anywhere near enough money (I’d guess that the sci-fi game of Warhammer 40k has been funding the company for a while), so a drastic reboot was in order.
The decision to veer wildly away from the tactical, complex side of Warhammer requires more explanation. This move towards simplicity and outright silliness (although more a more complex ruleset is believed to be coming out later) was obviously going to break the hearts of some of Warhammer Fantasy’s most serious fans. How could they do it?
The thing is, anyone who was interested in Warhammer Fantasy for the battles themselves was actually being very well served by third parties like Mantic selling far cheaper miniatures than GW. It’s also fairly well known Games Workshop has been transitioning towards selling its products to collectors and modellers, not competitive “gamers”, who have a habit of forming toxic and anti-social communities.
Age of Sigmar represents a startlingly effective way to remove humourless elements in your fanbase. This fellow, for example, now lets you re-roll your to-hits if you pretend to ride an imaginary horse, and re-roll your to-wounds if you talk to said imaginary horse. Though it would be disingenuous to say that this is all the hardcore fans are upset about (be warned, that link contains slurs against gays and other humanity-at-its-worst-ness).
Ultimately, I sympathise with both sides. I can’t imagine the disappointment at buying into a game and having the designers entirely abandon support for balanced play. On the other hand, I’ve seen the slurs my local game shop has received in its efforts to run X-Wing and Netrunner tournaments, stuff that ultimately led to them giving up on them altogether. Gamers are the worst.
Topically, two of my friends have just started a Warhammer Fantasy blog, with an emphasis on keeping the game silly, joyous and cheap. They raised a different point about Age of Sigmar’s silly rules- they make references to the players’ beards and bodies, thereby assuming their players are able-bodied male. That’s hardly ideal, especially not for a company in the middle of upsetting its existing player base.
We’ve news of two more licensed games this week, starting with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past. IDW, publishers of both board games and comics, is set to adapt its own comic series into a campaign-length turtles miniatures game! News that IDW has hired Kevin Wilson, the designer of Descent, offsets what is quite possibly the worst, most longest board game name of all time.
Shady-looking publisher River Horse has also announced that it’ll be releasing an official board game of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth! Just 29 short years after David Bowie’s crotch was the cause of sexual awakenings around the world.
I do quickly need to point out that just about everything in the movie Labyrinth is also hallmark of bad board games. They’re basically offering the opportunity to move stiltedly around an unfair maze.
Oh god. I just looked at how many Labyrinths there are on Board Game Geek. Who thought this film adaptation was a good idea? They need to go to jail.
Asmodee has announced the first expansion for their new edition of Mexican standoff simulator Cash n’ Guns (see our mugnion-stuffed review here). Titled Cash n’ Guns: More Cash n’ More Guns, the box will add more cash and more guns to the base game’s collection of cash and guns.
I want to be more helpful, but the press release isn’t much more detailed. We’re getting “four new foam guns, 16 new loot cards, 16 Surprise cards, 3 Power cards, a safe tile and rules”. I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it looks like sometimes the loot you’re fighting for will be hidden in a safe… ?
In any case, I’m thrilled! The base game is great, but felt just a touch content-light to me. I’ll happily buy this and flee my local board game shop like a bandit.
Fantastic news! Kickstarter now allows Japanese projects. The most alluring yet inaccessible corner of our industry just got a lot closer.
IKI: A Game of EDO Artisans is a beautiful game from designer Koota Yamada, and an updated version of a project that quickly sold out at the 2014 Tokyo Game Market. Players are wealthy patrons eeking out their lives in the bustling market district of Tokyo (then known as Edo). You hire and train artists and vendors, develop the street, and try not to lose too much property to fires.
The game’s available for $49, but $235 gets you a “Kabuki edition” of the game, contained in a paulownia wood box (“providing a great sense of strength and luxury”) with a handmade scroll for a board. There was a level above even this, with stunning hand-painted wooden player pieces, but they’re all already gone.
Personally, I’d wait for a few more reviews before backing this particular project. I’m just thrilled Japanese Kickstarters are coming. Direct sales to the rest of the world! Hooray!
Here’s something I can be a little more positive about- the Kickstarter for Microscope Explorer!
Together with Fiasco, Microscope is the one-shot RPG that people usually point to as a great place to start if you’ve not tried small-press RPGs before. Across just one or two hours of light-hearted invention, its players work together to create an entire universe that inevitably ends up surprising everybody. It’s funny, emotional, elegant- it’s whatever you want it to be.
Microscope Explorer is something like an expansion pack for Microscope, offering three new ways to play. You can now focus on spinning out an elaborate family tree, the history of a single object, or even time-travelling around your world to change the future. Very cool stuff!
AND FINALLY, a couple of location-specific announcements. A Tennessee SU&SD fan got in touch asking if we could spread word of his fundraising event! Board Games and Baldies is a volunteer-driven charity drive for childhood cancer research. A load of board gamers are getting their heads shaved at the Roll the Dice game shop just outside Nashville. Is that your neck of the woods? Maybe you can help out!
And here in the UK, we’ve got a Kickstarter for a new board game cafe in Exeter! Boards sounds like an absolutely phenomenal place, run by some very professional people. Are you an Exetan? Do you want a new board game cafe? Throw ’em some change!