Review: War of the Ring

king of the bobbits, gothic seagulls, shut up and war of the ring
If you were looking for one game to rule them all, War of the Ring might be it. This magical game has more than 200 plastic miniatures, 40 pages of rules and a depth that most board games could only dream of.

But what will Matt and Quinns make of it? For one thing, this wouldn't be the first time that Lord of the Rings was accused of being too long.

Click play, and let their opinions seep into your very bones.


Review: 878 Vikings & Viking Age expansion

Rebuffing viking bobbins, A diddly hand of cards, A katamari made of axes
Who remembers Quinns' anciente video reviewe of 1812: The Invasion of Canada? Well, today we've got a redux for you! It's our review of the latest game in that series, 878 Vikings, as well as the Viking Age expansion.

And boy, those mechanics have stood the test of time. It's still tons of fun to invade a country with a buddy, rolling handfuls of dice together and stretching your armies too far, too fast. Click play and find out why Quinns calls this series the mac & cheese of wargaming.


Review: Rising Sun

twenty times as heavy, a nasty little pulp song, a happy and hairy fellow
Matt: Rising Sun is a big-box Kickstarter darling filled with frankly massive plastic things, with a hefty retail price of £75 / $80. Set in a god-powered version of feudal Japan, players act as one of six different clans vying for control of those lovely islands. But the plus-size map and plastic armies are slightly misleading: Rising Sun is not what it appears to be.

If you’re expecting a traditional game of nudging toy soldiers around a map, Rising Sun might leave players bored, confused, or quietly in a huff. But if you can get your head around what it is, and teach your friends what it is (and isn't), Rising Sun can be really very good.


Review: Star Wars: Legion

a sweary han, a forceful box, a noisesome backbone
Eric: Star Wars has always had a strange magic for me, a modern mythological mojo which transcends its contrived plots and sometimes stilted dialog.

I first felt the tingle of that power when I was seven years old. It was an open house at a local technical school. Back in a corner, away from the admittedly-modest crowds, was a little display for a “flat screen” television, cutting edge technology of that long, long time ago. The exhibit had just started, and as I walked up, two droids were surveying the blasted landscape of Tatooine. Perched on a ledge, I sat for the next six hours and watched the entire trilogy, lost in a galaxy far, far away.

That makes Star Wars: Legion, the new miniatures game from Fantasy Flight, hard to review. It tempts me to be too generous – just putting a lightsaber in someone's hand provokes the ghost of a chill. At the same time, it makes me worry I will set the bar too high. To have expectations no collection of cardboard and plastic could ever meet. I say this to acknowledge that I come to this game as the farthest thing from a blank slate. I am a fanboy, with all the enthusiasm and critical nitpicking that entails.


Review: Necromunda: Underhive

in memoriam lyv, an itchy brain, a timid lover, a beloved lasgun, a two-part head
[We once again welcome SU&SD miniatures correspondent Eric Tonjes for a report from some far-flung warzone. If you've not yet caught up on his work for us, do so on the double!]

Eric: A few years ago I had the chance to revisit the grade school I attended as a child. It was a jarring afternoon. The huge hallways were suddenly kind of small. I could see over the bookshelves in the library where I used to get lost. The teachers... several of them were younger than me. I walked in the door feeling nostalgic; I left a bit unsettled.

I found myself remembering that visit as I got ready to open Games Workshop's new remake of Necromunda. A skirmish game set in the collapsing underbellies of hive cities in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the original Necromunda one-upped the grim darkness of the 41st millenia by adding gangs, drugs, slavery, abject poverty and child soldiers. To a 15-year-old me, it was a thing of glorious joy. Yet I wondered, would this turn out to be just another narrow-halled school with five-foot bookshelves?


Review – Star Wars: Rebellion: Rise of the Empire

quinns' toothy heart, a sad birthday, 8 more complexity
Quinns: Matt, are you ready to review the Rise of the Empire expansion for Star Wars™: Rebellion? To bring everyone up to speed, Rebellion is a grand 2-4 player game set in the Star Wars universe, which I reviewed and said it was fun, but I couldn't quite recommend it.

What does the expansion add? Well, let me just quote the press materials: “Rise of the Empire isn't just inspired by Rogue One; it follows the movie's example, adding new depth and story to the Rebellion game experience just as seamlessly as Rogue One provided new insight into the Galactic Civil War presented in the original Star Wars trilogy.”

Matt: I just did a big vomit out of a window. In Real-World Terms™ it’s an expansion that adds quite a bunch of stuff: new leader characters, new cards, a whole new combat system, more unit types and plastic figures, and a brand new planet: EWOK-HOTH, HOME OF THE CHILLYBEARS.


Review: Warhammer 40,000 (8th edition)

19 organs, 90 dice, 400 of dollars, 7 previous editions, 1 life
Eric: For any of what follows to make sense, I need to take you to a place in my past. Imagine the house where I grew up. Follow me down into the basement, past the unfinished walls and pantry shelving and washing machine. Back here, hidden under the stairs. Do you see it?

That was my desk.

It isn't much to look at – an austere, industrial thing. The kind of desk I now imagine factory workers flipping over in some proletarian revolution. But I spent huge amounts of my late childhood and early teenage years here. Pouring through those roleplaying manuals stacked in one corner, drawing elaborate maps on that graph paper, and – as the spackling of color attests – painting the little figurines that line the shelf above.

Those were my first space marines.

About a month ago, Games Workshop released their 8th edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rules. Back when I was painting at that desk, it was 3rd edition I played. As much as those iterations between then and now can be seen as cynical cash grabs – partly because some of them were – there is something noteworthy about this new one. But more on that in a minute.


Miniatures Game Review: Bushido

mount your turtles, biting risks, bloated samurai, tasty details
Eric: I'm standing here, what feels like a katana in my chest, the bodies of my soldiers piled around me. I'm standing here defeated and absolutely delighted, a big grin on my face, trying to figure out what it's doing there.

That was the end of my second play of Bushido by GCT Games - the actual impaling being only metaphorical, if you're the queasy sort, but the defeat and delight being real. From my first encounter, what intrigued me about Bushido was that I found it immensely pleasurable even when I lost horribly. Let me try to explain why.

If the name and picture don't make it apparent, Bushido is a tabletop skirmish game set in a world inspired by Japanese folklore, or at least a western, Tolkein-filtered riff on Japanese folklore. Elves and Dwarves are replaced by Tengu and Oni, the heroes include snake-people and warrior pandas, and the outfits look like the result of a raid on a Kurosawa film's prop closet. All in the best possible way.


Review: Cry Havoc

a dead prince, a drifting stick, a strong spine, steve holt
Quinns: Oh my god. Where do we start?

Maybe just gaze into the above image. Try and take it all in. Crystals! Robots! Colours! Cards! Three dozen unique kinds of token, each with a different shape, as if they were all so scared of this primary-coloured scrum that they started to collapse in on themselves.

This is Cry Havoc, one of 2016’s most striking and well-received war games, and if you take anything from its Shakespearean name it shouldn’t be wry sophistication, but that this design is as wild and energetic as a pack of dogs.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" Let me tell you what I think of this grand box.

That was another quote from Julius Caesar, you see. I might even do another before we're done. Brace yourselves!


Double Review: Blood Bowl and Guild Ball

sport, sports, blood sports, mind sports, spoooooorts
Eric Tonjes, our esteemed miniatures game correspondent, has returned and the CROWDS HAVE GONE WILD! Vendors are sobbing into their hot dogs! Babies are being tossed in the air by baby-tossing machines! Everybody, let the man speak...

Eric: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we're here to talk about sports! Sports are perhaps the ur-games. Probably organizing alongside early militaries as tools for training and proving of skill, they have grown to eclipse armed conflict for many, serving as a sort of proxy for violent aggression. But what happens when sport seems unnecessarily violent, and we need a proxy for that?

Today we're looking at two possible solutions. Blood Bowl is the grandparent of sports miniatures games. It's a rollicking high fantasy version of North American football in which you can violently maim opposing players. Guild Ball, meanwhile, is a newcomer to the scene which has quickly gained a following. It is a gritty low fantasy version of soccer (or "actual football") in which you can violently maim opposing players. While there are nuances to the themes, both games are clearly competing for similar space. So, in true sports fashion, let's put them in a ring and see which one scores the most points. Or violently maims the other player.