Monthly Archives: September 2015

Plagues and Trains

Another mid week Fenland Gamers gaming session took place this evening. Tonight it was Mat selecting the games that we would be playing.

The evening started off with the game Rattus.

This game is set during medieval times (?) with plague invested rats sweeping across Europe. The aim of the game is to have the most cubes (I think they represent people) left on the board at the end of the game.

This game took a little getting into, maybe three turns before it clicked properly and I started thinking of tactics. I'm not sure how you would describe the genre. So I'm not going to attempt to categorise it.

Mat won the game comfortably. While Jonathan and I drew for last place. Mind you Jonathan and I spent a lot of the game duking it out for getting our cubes onto the only safe space on the board. Leaving Mat alone in reality to build up his winning population.

I enjoyed the game, but I think I need another game or two to make a final decision to see if it makes it onto my wish list. But even if it didn't make the list, I'd be more than happy to play the game on other occasions. It's an enjoyable game.

Next up was the worker placement game Russian Railroads.

This game has lots and lots of tokens! While Mat was setting up, Jonathan and I joked about how the game designers came to have so many tokens with such lines as “you know what's missing from the game? More tokens”.

When you first see the board and your player tableau it does look a little daunting. However game knowledge from other worker placement games soon kicks in speeding up the learning curve. After watching the others take their turn, and then taking mine everything was on familiar ground, with just the odd question over particular symbols, or placement of stuff.

There are some nice touches to the game. Like buying engineers that give you exclusive actions to take on a turn. Having multiple development tracks that you have to decide between developing, adds a nice little tactical decision making to your choices.

The end of round scoring seemed like a mysterious thing to Jonathan and myself. Luckily Mat was familiar with the dark art. Although I don't think it helped making Mat laugh a couple of times when he was scoring putting him off.

And boy do you score points. I think my final score was 287!!! Mat was over 200, and Jonathan was well over 150. Racking the points up is insane. I got 40 points at the end for collecting four engineers. At the end of a round you can easily be score 20 points or more. Then you get multipliers kicking in. It's crazy.

I really did enjoy this game, and not just because I won. There is a nice depth to this game, and worker placement games are becoming one of my favourite game genres.

I hope when we finally get Lords of Waterdeep to the table that it lives up to the others expectations. I love the game but sometimes a game can become bigger than the actually game is in the imagination. Then when you play the game it doesn't quiet live up to the hype and expectations. So no pressure!

Another great evening of gaming. I'm looking forward to the next one.


The Waiting Game

It's like torture waiting for stuff to come through the postal system.

I'm currently waiting for these two games to come through the post from the US of A.

It doesn't help that my friend Freddy had his copy of Epic two weeks ago.

I've also got a King of New York themed t-shirt from Kickstarter also in the post from the same continent.

I'm sure that the postal service sends my packages the longest route possible, giving me the biggest delay they can get away with. If not it certainly feels that way.

It's nice having the delivery email from the distributing company that the companies use to send out their games. But then every day I'm like a dog waiting for its owner to come home, excitedly hoping that when I get home from work that the postman has delivered my anticipated goodies.

Oh the waiting game, the one game I hate playing!


The Phoenixborn

In this the second post on Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn and the first of my posts looking at the content of the stunning box in more detail, we start off looking at the Phoenixborn themself.

In the base game, for that is what this gorgeous box is, we get six Phoenixborn. Additionally if you got the game direct from Plaid Hat (not sure if it also made it to retail too) you got an additional promo Phoenixborn.

In the rule book for each of the base game Phoenixborn there is a suggested pre-built deck for people to get playing with straight away. For the promo Phoenixborn you will have to make use of the deck building guidelines in the rule book to build a deck.

Naturally the art on the cards we are about to look at is stunning. You will probably get fed up with me saying this. But it takes my breathe away. I hope Plaid Hat games does an art book at some point.

Anatomy of a Phoenixborn card

So before we look at the actual Phoenixborn themselves it's probably best that we look at a card and what information is given on each one.

a) Name of the Phoenixborn – do I need to explain this? No really isn't it obvious?
b) Battlefield Value – this value determines the how many units a Phoenixborn can have on the battlefield at one time. In the example above that means Dimona can have a maximum of five units on her battlefield.
c) Ability – an effect that the Phoenixborn has on the game. It can be constant or needs to be activated.
d) Flavour text – oh come on I don't need to explain this.
e) Activation cost – the cost to activate the Phoenixborns ability.
f) Spellboard Value – similar in effect to the Battlefield value, the Spellboard determines the number of active spells you can have in your Spellboard. So in the example above Dimona can have a maximum of five spells in her Spellboard.
g) Life Value – nor should I have to explain this. If this reaches zero guess what? You're dead.
Ok so that is the anatomy of a Phoenixborn card. Shall we meet the Phoenixborn?

Aradel Summergaard – The Mist Guardian

Stat wise Aradel can have the largest battlefield of all the current crop of Phoenixborn. Aradel is one of the weaker life values of the Phoenixborn, so she needs to be a bit more careful and make use of that superior numbers on the battlefield to protect her.
Her Spellboard is on par with the majority of the Phoenixborn. But it's her ability that excites. Don't underestimate being able to do direct damage. This could knock out a potential defending unit before you swing your attack, or deliver that killing blow to the opposing Phoenixborn.
You can read the Plaid Hat look at Aradel and her pre-built deck HERE

Jessa Na Ni – The Bloodwoods Queen

Jessa has an ok Life Value, kind of in the middle. She also has the average sized Spellboard and Battlefield. So even though her Life Value is better than Aradel, Jessa still needs to be protective of that Life. Based on her stats I would describe Jessa as average.
Now Jessa's ability is interesting because as long as you have the dice you are able to chip away at your opponents Life Value even when it's not your turn.
You can read the Plaid Hat look at Jessa and her pre-built deck HERE.

Noah Redmoon – The Shadows of Viros

Noah is interesting. His Battlefield and Life Value are better than average, but his Spellboard Value is below average. So while he can take a little more damage, he has to think carefully about which spells he is keeping out.
Now I like it when I can mess up my opponents plans, and I like this ability precisely because of that. Interfering with your opponents plans like switching off a spell when they are counting on it for their turn could be enough to throw them off and give you that edge you need for the win.
You can read the Plaid Hat look at Noah and his pre-built deck HERE

Saria Guideman – The Cloudsea Siren

Saria has an above average Life Value, and average Battlefield and Spellboard values. These stats for me make Saria a nice all rounder.

Now you have seen my tactic for my Noise deck Windy, which is milling. I can't see why you wouldn't force a card from the opponents draw deck into the discard pile. It denies them valuable cards that could screw up their strategy, and it means them are getting through their thirty card deck quicker and to that point where having no cards to draw will hurt them. I can't see a downside at the moment because I can't see anything in the rule book limiting the maximum hand size. If you find anything out that gives a maximum hand size then I may have to re-evaluate how powerful this ability is. At the moment I love this ability.

You can read the Plaid Hat look at Saria and her pre-built deck HERE

Coal Roarkwin – The Iron Men

Good grief Coal has the lowest Life Value going of all the Phoenixborn. Luckily he has above average Battlefield and Spellboard values, because he is going to need them to protect his precious Life Value.

Coals ability is interesting. To use it you discard a card and use a side action. So as long as you have the cards you are still able to inflict damage. You aren't reliant on having the dice available. I'm not sure how Coal would fair going up against Saria and her ability, especially if they were trying to use it a lot.

You can read the Plaid Hat look at Coal and his pre-built deck HERE

Maeoni Viper – The Snakes in Silver

Ok I love this card theme wise. The art and name are so perfect. Snakes and a Cleopatra type character, brilliant.

Maeoni has the highest Life Value of all the Phoenixborn, an average Spellboard and the weakest Battlefield Value.

Her ability is nice and allows a nice boost to one units attack when you most need it.

You can read the Plaid Hat look at Maeoni and her pre-built deck HERE

Promo Phoenixborn – Dimona Odinstar

Dimona is another card I love because the art matches the name.

Dimona has an above average Spellboard and Battlefield, but not a great Life Value.

Her ability is a nice one. Being able to remove an exhaustion token is massive. It means you could attack more than once a turn with a unit. Or if a second exhaustion token has been placed on a unit, you could remove the second token meaning you can get that back the next round instead of losing it for another round. That's massive in my book.

So I hope you enjoyed this look at the games Phoenixborn. These really are beautiful cards. I'm undecided which one is right for me at the moment.


Windy Update

So after listening to some of the Netrunner podcasts, particularly Terminal 7 I've tweaked my windy deck.
In the current episode of Terminal 7 they were looking at the Old Hollywood data pack, and while looking at the runner side things they mentioned a card interaction between one of the new cards and a card from an earlier cycles data pack. The two cards were Paparazzi (Old Hollywood) and Data Leak Reversal (Future Proof). Paparazzi allows me to tag myself without having to rely on the corp to tag me to kick in the milling ability of Data Leak Reversal.
At the moment I've added one of each, plus a Film Critic (Old Hollywood).
Anyway here is my new Windy deck.



Noise: Hacker Extraordinaire (Core Set)


Event (10)

3x Déjà Vu (Core Set)

2x I've Had Worse (Order and Chaos)

2x Infiltration (Core Set)

1x Surge (Humanity's Shadow)

2x Test Run (Cyber Exodus) ····· ·


Hardware (5)

2x Cyberfeeder (Core Set)

1x Grimoire (Core Set)

2x Plascrete Carapace (What Lies Ahead)


Resource (14)

2x Aesop's Pawnshop (Core Set) ····

2x Armitage Codebusting (Core Set)

1x Data Leak Reversal (Future Proof)

1x Duggar's (First Contact)

2x Earthrise Hotel (The Source)

1x Film Critic (Old Hollywood) ·

1x Hades Shard (First Contact) ·

1x Kati Jones (Humanity's Shadow)

1x Paparazzi (Old Hollywood)

2x Virus Breeding Ground (Order and Chaos)


Icebreaker (2)

2x Crypsis (Core Set)


Program (15)

2x Datasucker (Core Set)

2x Djinn (Core Set)

2x Hivemind (Order and Chaos)

2x Imp (What Lies Ahead)

1x Incubator (The Source)

3x Parasite (Core Set)

2x Progenitor (Order and Chaos)

1x Scheherazade (Second Thoughts)


Cards in deck: 46 (min 45)

12/15 influence used

Cards up to Old Hollywood


Deck built with Net Deck

So that's my current thinking, what do you think? All I need to do now is test it!


Twin Shadows

I'm wrapping up the coverage of the wave two expansions for Imperial Assault with a look at the first expansion for the game Twin Shadows.

The contents of the box


So now you have seen the contents before they have been unpacked. Let's take a more indepth look at what we get for our money.


Naturally we get more tokens for the game. These tokens are made up from:
  • ten damage tokens (four fives, six ones)
  • Six device tokens
  • Six strain tokens
  • Five weaken tokens
  • Four ally and villain tokens (just in case you haven't bought the villain and allies packs that also came out at the same time).
  • Eight ID tokens

The game also comes with twelve more map tiles.


In this expansion we get ten new miniatures. Two rebel characters called Saska Teft (below left) and Biv Bodhrik.

There are also four Tusken Raiders.
And four Heavy Stormtroopers.
As usual these sculpts are up to FFG's usual high standards, and begging to be painted. And before you ask I haven't made any progress on the Stormtroopers I painted with primer.


For the campaign side of the game Twin Shadows comes with two hero sheets for the rebel characters.
There are nine cards that make up the hero class deck for Saska (below).

Followed by another nine cards making up a hero class deck for Biv.

There are also nine Imperial class cards for use by the Imperial player.
Two supply cards have been included.
You also get five reward cards.
Plus six item cards.
Four side mission cards also come with the expansion.
We also get six agenda cards.


Naturally the game comes with a skirmish map sheet detailing the map to use with the skirmish mission cards.
The two skirmish mission cards that go with the map sheet.

There are eleven deployment cards. However five of them are also found in the Ally and Villian packs that came out at the same time (these are used with the tokens if you don't have them). So I've just included the new deployment cards here.

And as expected there are deployment cards for the two new rebel characters also.

There are four weaken status cards (these are also used in the campaign).

We also get three command cards.


I like this expansion it adds new content to the base game. The expansion lives up to the FFG reputation for providing beautiful looking high quality games.

As a noob skirmish player I'm not sure I'd be playing with the new rebel characters. But that is mainly because I still think that the rebels are grossly under powered compared to the Empire. However the Heavy Stormtroopers I can see being used. I'm going to have to think about the Tusken Raiders.

Right I now need to play this more, get sleeve for the cards, and push on with my painting.


Small box games

This morning while I was taking a leisurely start to the day I came across a tweet by Bebo for her new vlog post. In this vlog Bebo talked about taking a small box game with you when visiting friends. Bebo saw this as away to expand the fan base for the hobby.

It may have come to your notice, possibly, that I like playing board games. It may have also come to your attention that I have a board game collection (that is growing). Well I do have the odd small box game in my collection.

Which brings me to the main point of this post. In Bebo's vlog she mentioned one or two of her favourite small box games. So I thought I would follow her lead and mention one or two of the ones that are in my collection.

However I didn't want to just list games in this post. Instead I've used a photo (above), and we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.

In the photo above I think I have a good mix of styles of game. Although it might be a tad biased towards card games. There are definite two player only games (Cypher, Pixel Taxtics and Star Realms), there are definite games that need to be played as a group only (Coup, Resistance, Bang the dice game).

Plus regular readers all know my love affair with Star Realms and Love Letter. So not much time will be spent pushing those games to you.

The great thing about these small box games is that they are not terribly expensive with the majority coming in under twenty pounds. Then there is the advantage that they are small enough to carry around with you, ready for that impromptu gaming session.

There are some great gaming experiences in the small box games above, I'd love to hear which are you favourites.


You can watch the vlog here –> Bebo Vlog about small box games


War huh!

Memoir '44 has been in my pile of shame for about a year and a half now. I'd originally bought it for Nath and I to play. But best made plans and all that, we haven't got round to playing it.

So I was really pleased when I found out that Jonathan at the Fenland Gamers group not only had Memoir '44 but also had almost everything for the game expansion wise with the exception of the odd map pack.

Last night finally saw me play Memoir '44 for the first time with Jonathan. Luckily for me Jonathan was in need of a refresher on how to play the game due to a long gap between this game and his last play of it.

Game One – Pegasus Bridge, June 6, 1944 I'm the Axis Player

Game one started off with me playing as the Axis power in the game. This was the first scenario in the manual, and sees the Axis player start off with a card disadvantage (two cards) to simulate the forces being taken by surprise.
Jonathan got an early victory point by capturing the bridge on the left flank, and also nearly wiping out the unit that was on the other side of the bridge. But I managed to get that unit out and manovered away from the Allied forces along with the other lone unit on that flank so that they did not become easy victory points for Jonathan.
While that was going on Jonathan sent his Allied forces to engage with my dug in forces on the right that were defending the second bridge and the town next to it.
I was more than happy to let the Allies come at me, it meant I was able to enjoy the benefits of my defences, which in Memoir terms means one less dice to roll for Jonathan.
So I had the victory point from the second bridge and good dice rolls and card draw got me the other three victory points I needed by allowing me to pick off the Allie forces from the safety of my dugouts.
Wow somehow I had won my first game.

Game Two – Pegasus Bridge, June 6, 1944 I'm the Allied Player

Game two and time to swap sides and see what the other side of the map looks like. Boy does it look different.

Having played the Axis first definitely helped me on this game. As did having an awesome card draw. My first card was an advancement order that allowed me to issue an order all my units, plus they could move two hexes and attack, or move three hexes and not attack.

So my first move was swamping the right flank, and rushing to the bridge. The thing with this scenario is that the Axis have two units on the right flank separate from each other. One is in the corner on the opposite side of the river. So overwhelming them quickly would net me two victory points, and a third can be gained taking the bridge.

This part of the plan worked perfectly, one turn I've cut the bridge off, and can pick off the trapped Axis unit. Surprisingly Jonathan's other unit is moved in to engage with the superior force. Which is exactly what I wanted. They were soon picked off also, and the bridge taken. Three victory points on the table, one more needed for the win.

My mass move to the right flank threw off Jonathan whose remaining forces were dug in defending the second bridge in the top left corner of the left flank. I don't think Jonathan had the card draw that enabled him to do much. Although he did start to venture through the barb wire to engage with me.

The second part of my plan after getting the “easy” victory points on the right was to just throw all units at the Axis lines on the left, all I needed was to pick off one unit to get the win.

With Jonathan moving units from behind their defences I soon finished off a unit to get the win.

I seem to remember this being a very short game.

Game Three – Sainte Mere-Eglise, June 6, 1944 I'm the Allied Player

On to scenario two, this time I starting off as the Allies. I remember seeing Tom Vassell doing a live play of this on The Dice Tower channel a while back. Can't remember the actual game but the having to drop four miniatures on the board from about twelve inches up to simulate a parachute drop by the Allies was the only bit I remembered.

My drop got me three additional units in a central position. I thought I'm going to need these units the Axis forces had a tank unit!

Those tanks were my biggest worry in this scenario. Once they were out of the right flank top corner they would be deadly.

I managed to take out the lone Axis unit that had dug in the little village in the middle of the board. By the time I had done that the tanks were close. With poor card draw for Jonathan (I'm assuming that is the case) the tanks failed to attack and do any damage. I had a window of opportunity here. I attacked his tanks with three infantry units, the rolls were with me and I wiped out the tanks.

Then the battle front moved to the left flank with our infantry units engaging each other. Some tit for tat exchanges and I've gained the final two victory points needed to win.

Below courtesy of Jonathan a picture of me (there really aren't enough of these on this blog) in deep thought trying to work out what I'm going to do about the bloomin tanks. Luckily after this photo I played just the right card to allow three infantry units to take out the tanks.

Game Four – Sainte Mere-Eglise, June 6, 1944 I'm the Axis Player

The final game of the evening. I'm now playing as the Axis forces. My luck was bound to run out at some point. My card draw was not going my way. I was just not getting cards that would allow me to issue orders to my left flank and get the tanks and supporting infantry units out.

I even sacrificed my lone unit in the middle to distract Jonathan to try and buy me time to get the cards I needed. But that only delayed the inevitable, Jonathan's forces attacked my right flank picking off units, and despite me trying to make an exit through the woods I was out of the game.

I had started to draw cards for the left flank, but it was too little too late. Before being defeated I did manage to score one victory point to stop it being a total whitewash.

Final thoughts…

Wow. I love this game. And I'm not just saying this because I won! I love the combat and the dice rolling. The command cards to issue orders is brilliant.

Yes bad dice rolls and not drawing the cards you want can be frustrating. But they do nicely simulate orders not getting through or the tide of battle going against you.

For me Memoir '44 is just right. Love the theme, I think with the bits of flavour text that you get with each mission is great. Components are great. This just works on all levels. The nice thing is it's not a heavy wargame. Ok it's a wargame “lite” which suits me perfectly.

I really can't wait to play more games of Memoir '44. Thanks Jonathan for a great evenings gaming and teaching me Memoir.



Autumn and Winter Hotstuff 2015

I did one of these style posts for the first time a the start of the Summer if my poor memory hasn't let me down. So I thought I'd give it another go of talking briefly about the new games coming out between now and this side of Christmas that have caught my eye.

  • Another deluxe expansion for Android Netrunner called Data and Destiny hits the stores mid October. This one gives some love to NBN and three new none faction runners. There are lots of spoilers out there for this expansion already because FFG sold some early copies to those lucky enough to get to GenCon. There is also a new data cycle starting also, this one is called The Mumbad Cycle. This cycle brings to life another part of the Android universe the Indian Union.
  • Ashes Rise of the Phoenixborn just made this list because it officially comes out on the 18th I believe, plus I have it already! But still I'm very excited about this game.
  • Epic card game is due out late September/October. By White Wizard this is another of their everything you need to play in a single affordable box. This time we get a fantasy themed game that supports two to four players in a draft based magic type card game. It has been getting some good buzz (lucky really because I backed it on kickstarter, and my copy is on its way), will it be as popular as Star Realms?
  • 7 Wonders Duel, the two player 7 Wonders themed card game.
  • Thunderbirds the boardgame. A co-op game by Matt Leacock based on the popular puppet TV series of the same name. You play as various members of International Rescue trying to foil the schemes of The Hood. Luckily I backed this one on Kickstarter, so I don't have to worry about if I can get a copy.
  • Fury of Dracula. This reprint/update by FFG will fly off the shelves. The previous printing has been going for silly money on the net, so when this was announced the market adjusted a little (downwards), although there was all of a sudden a rush of copies being sold trying to capture the old silly prices. This is a hidden movement game where one player is the count himself while the others are trying to track him down and stop him.
  • Risk Game of Thrones. Two maps based on Westeros, Game of Thrones theme, Risk. The whole product looks stunning. I'm looking forward to getting this.
  • Imperial Assault will be getting another big expansion called Return to Hoth, plus more Villians and Allies packs. It still seems like the Rebels are being under represented.
  • Pandemic Legacy Season 1. Another Matt Leacock game this one co-created with the designer of Risk Legacy. It's Pandemic with a legacy element. Which maybe a too basic description but should give you a good idea about the game. The game takes place over a year, with the board etc changing during and between plays. I'm hoping that the Fenland Gamers will be up for playing this.

Also keep an eye out for AGES coming to Kickstarter, along with Lunarchitecs the space themed version of Glen More also hitting it.

I hope the above have given you some ideas of something to try. I'm definitely excited about getting and playing them.


Hot New Arrivals Mid Sept 2015

Finally my pre-orders have arrived. I know most have been out for up to a month. But I decided to group all my pre-orders together into one delivery so I saved on the postage. The final piece of the jigsaw that the rest were waiting on, was the Legendary Encounters Predator game that came out last week.

I'm happy with the little delay in getting my games. As long as I knew they were coming I wasn't in a rush, and it saved me money. Sometimes patience is a virtue!

Other good news it looks like the Coup: Rebellion G54 and One Night Rebellion (was originally Resistance) that I backed on Kickstarter are just about to start shipping.

I'm looking forward to introducing the students to One Night Rebellion. I think they will really enjoy the game.


These aren’t the droids you are looking for

In this post I'm going to look at the contents of the third expansion that makes up the second wave. This time it's the Allie pack R2-D2 and C-3PO. Yep we get two miniatures for our money in this pack.

I have to admit when they announced this as an expansion I was puzzled. Then again I was trying to think just how useful would they be in a skirmish game. I couldn't see them being in many squads. Yeah if I was playing campaign maybe it would be nice to have them instead of the tokens. But still didn't the Rebels need some more options other than these two droids?

So in this expansion we get two sculpts one of R2-D2 and the other of C-3PO, the rule sheet with the skirmish map and campaign side mission, three deployment cards, a side mission card, five command cards, a condition card and two skirmish mission cards.

Let's look a bit more closer at the two sculpts of everyone's two favourite droids. I really do like the sculpts, they are up to the usual FFG high standard.
In this expansion there are two deployment cards for R2. One for skirmish games (left) and one for campaign play (right).

C-3PO only gets the one deployment card.

Here are the two skirmish mission cards.

Here is the side mission card.

Like Boba Fett this expansion comes with a Weakened status card, and these five command cards.

I can see “Hard to Hit” and “Single Purpose” making a command deck. They are nice general cards. I'm not too sure about the specific ones and how useful they would be.

Then finally we have the rule sheet, with the skirmish map, and the unshown campaign mission.

After looking at the expansion I can see a use (just about) for the droids, but would they make a rebel skirmish squad for me? No. I do feel that the rebels are getting the short end of the stick in the expansions. It looks like the Empire and Villiany groups seem to be getting all the love.

As a completionist I had to get this expansion. It's nice to have the extra skirmish map. But I think this is a weak expansion for me and wouldn't have been one I would have made available.