Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Geekish grab bag!

As I said on Friday, I want to celebrate the latest small landmark in the life of RD/KA! by looking to what the future might bring for this geek and his games.

Regular readers will know that Badger and I have recently taken a break from our 2½-year Combat Commander odyssey. We'll be returning to this great game for sure (there're scenarios still unplayed and more to come); and then there'll no doubt be a taste of Chad's next WW2 tacsim- Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Infantry Division; but not before we've indulged our taste for Conflict of Heroes.

Superior tacsims all though these games are (or promise to be), none are intrinsically more exciting than Memoir'44; nor do they relegate the game from its well-deserved status of light wargame to some nether region of little or no interest to this grognard. Days of Wonder themselves are doing their bit to maintain interest in the game, with their planned December release of Memoir'44 Battle Maps Vol. 3: Sword of Stalingrad, featuring:
  • 2 Overlord scenarios.
  • 2 Standard scenarios.
  • Summary cards for the previously published Battle Maps and Mediterranean Theater expansion.
  • Additional cards for in-game play - the new Combat Deck (see above) specifically designed for urban warfare (DoW News centre).
Memoir fan and longstanding completist that I am, I'll be picking this up and I look forward to checking it out. To be honest though, expansion in this direction neither scratches this grognard's itch untouched nor fills the niche unreached by the games listed above. With these games on my shelf, and light relief aside, Memoir simply wouldn't be my game of choice if I was looking for:
  • Detailed resolution of units and/or their interaction with terrain.
  • Multilayered and flexible command and control systems.
Nonetheless the strengths Memoir has always enjoyed have been developed by the range of expansions, making it a light wargame whose coverage of WW2, while perhaps not exactly as exhaustive of that of ASL, is certainly thorough enough to cover every major theatre and type of operation. More interesting here perhaps than new armies and terrain are the 3 different maps on which games of Memoir can now be played - pictures above and left:

  • Standard.
  • Overlord.
  • Breakthrough.
There is something very suggestive to me about the different maps and the scope of the operations each space might support. I think there might be another project here, although first I'd have to play some of scenarios on Overlord and Breakthrough maps, neither of which I've used before. More in due course I hope. :0)

Old hands might remember that just like Memoir'44, Battlelore- the 3rd game in my collection of Richard Borg's Command and Colours variants, went the way of all things in the face of the Combat Commander onslaught of 2007-09. It's fair to say that the game has suffered its trials and tribulations with publishers as well as on the table of yours truly:
  • It having turned out that DoW had bitten off just a bit more than they could chew, the rights to Battlelore were sold to FFG in August last year (Purple Pawn).
  • FFG told us that the long-awaited Heroes expansion would be available in spring of 2009 (Purple Pawn).
  • The Heroes expansion was finally announced by FFG on October 7th.
The point here is more than just the release of a product so delayed as to have been given up as vapourware by many, no doubt. As Purple Pawn noted on the expansion's release:
The set represents a new direction for the game...
Heroes includes 10 unique miniatures for 5 hero classes, more than 100 cards and 40 tokens, and a rules booklet with seven “adventures,” demonstrating its move toward a fantasy RPG-style game.
What we have then is the hope, held by more than just this fan of the Commands and Colours system as you can see, that Battlelore would be a boardgame that'd revisit the cycle which had begun in 1971 with the Chainmail tabletop miniatures game, and which went on to revolutionise gaming 3 years later when Dungeons and Dragons made its inauspicious appearance. This is not to say that Battlelore could or should become some kind of RPG. Rather it's to express the hope that the unique qualities of Borg's superlative C&C engine can be developed to combine armies' tactical battles with heroes' individual quests to bring new layers of narrative to the gameplay, so delivering something that is more than 'just' a boardgame.

Narrative boardgaming is a field in which FFG's track record is second to none- Battlestar Galactica: the Board Game being one notable example, as regular readers will be well aware. The existing Epic Battlelore and Call to Arms expansions provide a solid basis for this development. In addition, the 'Reluctant Allies' variant included in the former expansion- allowing for up to 4 players, means that the game is a good fit for a Sunday session. So yours truly is hopeful that Battlelore will soon reappear on the gaming table, and that we'll all have a chance to find out if FFG can deliver on the promise Battlelore: Heroes has held out for so long. As ever, fingers crossed I guess. :-)

Space Hulk
Two months ago now I wrote at some length about my first impressions of the shiny new 3rd edition Space Hulk. All sorts of goodies were in the offing I said. At the risk of making my own addition to the internet's ever-growing graveyards of vapourware, I can assure you all, dear readers, that the Space Hulk content promised here at RD/KA! will materialise.

On the right, posing as a genuine WIP shot (with the emphasis on the work, because it is both genuine, and in progess), is a picture of the first pair of Terminators I've assembled. Sooner or later I will sit myself down at the painting table and get to work with my brushes; once I can tear myself away from the computer that is.

And finally: there will be roleplaying
It's been 5 months now since I wrote about my hankering to get back to some roleplaying. I remain as keen as ever even though there has been no real action on that front since then. Still, the imminence of both WFRP3 and HERO6 might generate some movement. As ever, only time will tell; and, fingers crossed I guess. ;)

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