I wanted to give more of an account of my time at Origins Game Fair so I decided to use most of this week’s column to talk more about it. I went through all the games I played off the list last week, but there was a lot going on that I just glazed over. Sadly I didn’t get to many of the booths this year – my gaming schedule forced me to miss a couple of days in the dealer’s hall which gave me precious little time to actually head to the different booths. For example, I wanted to make it to the booths for Stronghold Games & Z-man Games to demo a couple of games but just didn’t have enough time. I did get to see Myth at the Mercs booth, but I didn’t talk to them much – they were busy giving demos for Myth and since I own Myth and Kickstarted the Mercs board game, I felt that there wasn’t much to chat about (no they didn’t have any prototype of the Mercs board game there – much to my dismay).
Since the group of gamers that I normally play with was all back, we decided to play a couple of games of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (I tried a demo for the new Skulls & Shackles expansion coming out in August while at Origins – looks like more of the same with just a couple of tweaks so if you like the original, you will like this one as well). We won both scenarios we tried and are finally moving to the third adventure pack.
I did get a game off the list. I got to play Catacombs – this is a dungeon delving dexterity game. A single player takes control of the villain and monsters while the remaining players take control of the heroes. The game consists of three double sided boards that have cutouts for pillars/obstructions (which are invincible and get in the way). Once both sides are set up for the room in question, turns are simple – flick your hero’s disc into an enemy disc for a melee point of damage. There are a couple of special attacks – the archer may flick an ‘arrow’ (a disc about a quarter the size of a player) and the mage may cast a number of spells (everything to teleporting a hero to a massive fireball). If a monster is killed (some have only a single hit point, others have two), you collect gold which can be spent for additional items or healing in a later room. Once all heroes take an action, the monsters go. Some monsters have additional abilities found on their card (for example a troll will regenerate at the end of a full turn so just damaging it does nothing). Play continues on that board until all monsters are defeated and a new room is created and the process repeats. The final room has the main villain as well as its minions. If the villain is defeated before all the heroes are killed, they win! It a pretty fun dexterity game that honestly works well – there was an expansion a while ago that I should have bought but never did. A new edition completed in April of this year on Kickstarter so look for this one soon at your local game store.
Okay – back to Origins… I got to see/demo/play in a couple of games that I would like to talk about. The first one was a successful Kickstarter called Heroes of Normandie. I didn’t get a full demo unfortunately since I walked into the final demo of the day, but I did like what I heard and saw. I also talked to a couple of people playing it and in the end, it sounds like this game is a bridge between Memoir ’44 and Advance Squad Leader – it feels like it will be more in line with how Hollywood depicts WWII. After seeing it, I’m pretty excited to play a couple of scenarios. This is one that did so amazing on Kickstarter that there will be a ton of stuff available for it for years to come!
Moving right along, I got to play Evolution by North Star Games. When I got a demo of it (it was always full), I was amazed of how clean and fun the game played. I was so excited that I went ahead and backed it before the Kickstarter ended on the Sunday of Origins. Game play is easy to understand and there is a definite feel of competition against the other players in the game at all times. If it not designing the perfect species to outlast your opponents, it’s making a predator to actively attack other players or putting just enough food into the ‘watering hole’ so that your species can eat while others starve – and the list goes on! All of this in about an hour – I’m stoked.
I got to demo Folklore the Affliction – this game is going to appear on Kickstarter in autumn (no clear date yet). The game has four heroes moving about the countryside trying to stop an evil. The game consists of an overland journey (with a roll and move mechanic with an encounter after each move) followed by a more tactical scene once you reach your destination. It wasn’t a bad game and some of the mechanics were really novel, but a couple of things just didn’t sit for me very well. The overland movement was roll a single die and move than number of spaces – a mechanic that is shunned these days and encounter phases were a bit too simple for my tastes (roll a check on one of your stats and either succeed or not). Don’t discount it by my simple review – I believe they plan to be at Gen Con so check it out for yourself.
Lastly, I got to play Bios: Megafauna. This Sierra Madre game is a remake of American Megafauna and is not for the light of heart. It’s not a hard game to play once you know the rules, but getting to that level could take longer than most people want to devote to a game. Each turn, a player completes a single action (expand, mutate, change size to name a few). Once that action is complete, players ensure that the change doesn’t affect the delicate balance of nature (for example, if I take a card with a S code that grants me speed and the current predator who is feeding on me doesn’t have the S code as well, the predator is removed from the game board not being able to catch the prey). If a player took a mutation card, a random event occurs which can be as harmless as more biomes showing up on the board or a comet hitting the planet killing off any too specialized creature. We had someone teaching the game which made it a lot easier to play through it. I can’t imagine me trying to explain this game to new players… I have another game by the same company about space exploration and it’s the same level of complexity and I dread having to explain that one…
I’ve included a couple of cool pictures from games that I didn’t get to play, but wanted to show them off to everyone. First was the battle Alamo in 15mm which looked too cool not to snap a couple of pictures. Next a tomb made from Hirst Arts blocks (I have eight molds but can’t seem to cast anything without tiny bubbles – no matter what I do!). Third was a Kaiju war with tanks defending a small city from large monsters! Lastly, a large scale space fleet battle using the Full Thrust rules – these ships represent all the nations of earth going to do battle with the Berserkers, a race of robots keen on destroying anything that isn’t themselves!
Plans are already in the work to head back to Origins in 2015 – if you are there; we should meet up to play a game!
Until next time – Play a game!