News and Updates

Now Playing

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Film CountWe have added a new section to the site, Now Playing.

Our Articles page long ago lost most of its usefulness as the site grew in content. The Category folders and site search are generally more helpful for finding what you need. Our Top Picks section is dedicated to the top classic games in various genres. The site itself lists what’s new and what we are doing, but we decided that a permanent spot that highlighted the games we are currently playing would be useful. This serves two purposes: First it shows what currently has our interest and also acts as a central location for resources on those games.

We will only list titles we like of course but some games may appear and then drop off if they prove less exciting in the long run. But if we are currently playing them or they still hold our interest we’ll keep them listed here. We have only posted a few initial titles but will fill it out over the coming weeks.

You can always access the page via the site’s top navigation link.

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Flames of War – Fate of a Nation

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Fate of NationsBattlefront released its first Middle East module for Flames of War. Fate of a Nation comes as a free supplement with Wargames Illustrated Issue 312

Fate Of A Nation:
Arab-Israeli Wars, Six-Day War, 1967
On 5 June, 1967, Israel surprised the Arab forces massing on its borders with a pre-emptive strike. By the end of the day a hundred thousand soldiers and several thousand tanks were locked in battle — a struggle that would decide the fate of Israel.

Both sides had spent a decade preparing for this titanic struggle. Both sides acquired every modern tank they could, and upgraded those they retained from earlier wars. The opening battles saw more tanks in combat than the famous Battle of Prokhorovka between the Germans and Soviets near Kursk in 1943. The clash was swift and brutal. Within days a thousand wrecked tanks littered the battlefields and Israel was victorious..

There a number of supporting release for Fate of a Nation with certainly many more on the way. Here are some of the highlights:Isherman

Of course Battlefront is not the only option for Middle East miniatures. Most notably Khurasan Miniatures have a very nice range of both vehicles and infantry with more on the way. We’ll have a comparison between Battlefront and Khurasan soon.
FoW FoN

Combat Mission Battle for Normandy: Market Garden

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Market GardenBattlefront.com released the latest module for their Combat Mission Battle for Normandy WW2 tactical computer game. Market Garden covers the allied offensive to secure a bridgehead over the Rhein in 1944.

The module covers the entire battle from the run up the highway to Arnhem bridge. The manual is available for download.

Star Trek: Attack Wing — First Look

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Star Trek Attack WingWe picked up WizK!ds’ latest Star Trek: Attack Wing and a couple booster packs and thought we’d relay our impressions. WizKds licensed the same FlightPath game engine used by FFG’s X-Wing game. As a result, the rules are essentially identical but with different terms. This is of course good and bad. If you like X-Wing you will probably like ST:AW. If you didn’t you won’t. Whether or not the similarity is a turn off or not is certainly just a personal preference.

The game does have its differences from X-Wing. Each ship has a captain and add-ons such as weapons and crew. These are themed to Star Trek and give a unique flavor to the game. Those combined with the different ship models do give a bit of a different feel from X-Wing. But where we think Wizkids missed an opportunity is in not making the game feel more different. One easy example would be slowing movement down a tad and utilizing more fire arcs. Currently, the game essentially has the same feel as X-Wing with respect to maneuver and fire. Most weapons fire forward and a few special ones fire all around or aft. To us it seems like some sort of power usage mechanic could have been added to give players the choice of reinforcing shields, powering weapons or increasing speed but this was not really done.

Huge starships should not feel like fighters, right? Of course the problem with this opinion is that in the movies and even many of the TV episodes the ships are often shown flying around like fighters. So whether Star Trek ships should properly feel like fighters or naval ships is up for debate. A few TV and movie moments feed the naval ship impression but it probably really comes more from follow on games like Star Fleet Battles and of course just the size and general operation of the vessels in general. But if you fall into the naval ship camp the game will perhaps disappoint a little.

Ok, how about the miniatures? Well, again, comparing with X-Wing is hard to avoid. Both games utilize the same flying stands. The miniatures themselves are also roughly the same size but the scale is far different. The original Star Trek Enterprise is roughly 289m long and the A-Wing is around 12m long. In game scales both are about the same size. Of course Star Trek ships vary widely in size unlike Star Wars fighters. The Enterprise-D is three times the length of the original Enterprise and the new alternate Enterprise is supposedly even larger than that. Worse the Romulan D’deridex class ship is twice the size of the Enterprise-D. This large variance in size shows up in the game but perhaps not in the best way. Whereas X-Wing has the standard fighter size along with the somewhat larger ships and the new, probably ponderous, huge ships, Star Trek: Attack Wing instead has an almost ridiculously tiny 1.5″ Enterprise (smaller than an A-Wing) and a 3″ Enterprise-D. Of course this scale (somewhere around 1/3000 or so) does allow them to do the even larger ships, such as the Sovereign-class, without really even getting to the size of a Millennium Falcon but for some reason they chose to make the Romulan D’deridex a little smaller than the Enterprise-D. So if they mean to take advantage of the scale they seem to have already missed the opportunity. In addition, to choose a scale that puts one of the most iconic ships at 1.5″ in size seems perhaps unwise. The situation also does not help convey the feeling of fighting battles with large warships either. Perhaps the real tragedy is that one can not help but wonder what might have been if they had done the original Enterprise at 3″ and the larger ships similar in size to X-Wing’s Millennium Falcon. The price point would have been higher but I suspect fans would have been happier. Moreover, players are likely to field smaller fleets than in X-Wing so larger models, and a bit more game detail, would probably be a better choice.

Size aside, the miniatures themselves also suffer a bit in quality compared to the X-Wing miniatures. Physical quality does seem to be at least as good but the paint jobs exhibit no weathering at all, which then gives them more of a toy like appearance. But for those willing to do a little paint work themselves they could look very nice. But we do think they look better in person than they appear in photos and videos so that’s a plus. Even better, some of the models indeed are quite nice such as the Klingon Gr’oth.

Additionally, Star Trek fans have a number of good miniature options that could be used to replace the official miniatures if one wanted larger miniatures. There is the Starline 2500 line for original era and the AMT models for the classic and newer generation of ships. Both of those lines scale together somewhat closely depending on the model. Of course with the AMT 1/2500 scale ships the Enterprise-D is around 10″ long, which may not be ideal to say the least. There are also Hero Clix ST:Tactics models that are identical to the Attack Wing miniatures but pre-painted and based on the Clix bases. So no help with scale there.

If you are a Star Trek fan you might want to give the game a look. The Dice Tower has a nice review of the game with which we agree. If you are a huge X-Wing fan and want something a little different but that you already basically know how to play it could be worth a shot as well. It is really not a bad effort it just seems to fall a bit short of where it could have been and suffers a bit from direct comparison to X-Wing. But use some different models and add a few house rules and it could be a quick fun Star Trek game that is a lot lighter and faster playing than most out there.

Star Trek: Attack Wing Review

Star Trek Attack Wing: Federation/Cardassian Review

Star Trek Attack Wing: Romulan/Klingon Review

Also see our look at Star Trek: Fleet Captains. and look at Star Trek ship miniatures.

[Updated: 27SEP13]

Dropzone Commander — New Starter Box

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DzC Starter SetHawk Wargames made a big splash with the announcement of their newest Dropzone Commander starter set. Unlike their previous starter sets this one is for two players and contains the v1.1 rulebook, maps, card buildings, dice, tape measure, reference cards and plastic miniatures for the Scourge and UCM.

The miniatures look very nice. The detail is not quite as good as the resin miniatures but plastic is far easier to work with and will not have the random quality control issues the resin miniatures occasionally have. Moreover, they’ve made some minor changes to the miniatures such as the UCM Condor Dropship now has a clear canopy and the Bear APC has a one piece top hull so no more seams to fill!

Overall this is quite an amazing set. Considering it is coming from a new and small game publisher is even more surprising. Hopefully the plastic miniatures, as well as new sets, will be available separately in the future.

If you haven’t tried Dropzone Commander yet this is an excellent way to start. If you are a veteran it might be worth it for the miniatures and v1.1 rulebook (if you haven’t bought it yet).

See the Beasts of War unboxing video and the Hawk Newsletter for additional details.

For a nice intro to Dropzone Commander see the Blue Table Painting DzC videos;

Dropzone Commander: Full Game Overview With Its Creator

Dropzone Commander Intro

Shaltari vs United Colonies of Man Dropzone Commander Battle Report

Space Hulk Computer Game — Now Available

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Space HulkSpace Hulk the computer game is now available for PC and Mac on Steam. There is a video interview where you can see a nice overview of the game from the designer.

I have now finished all of the missions in the game. Simply, it is Space Hulk! The game is very close to the original board game. The minor changes are noted below. For many, especially veteran players, this is a good thing. But it can present a mild hurdle to new players. The game has a good introduction but one will still need to spend a bit of time reading the rules to fully understand what is going on — and some of the current bugs can cause new players even more confusion. Mission variety seems very good but there are only 12 missions in the campaign plus the training missions. The AI also seems quite good. It is not amazing but puts up a reasonable fight. Three levels of difficulty help players match their skills with the AI.

Changes from the Board Game: As noted by the designers,

“We have made a video game out of the board game, and not made a 1:1 translation. There are certain rules and mechanics that we changed to make it play as a video game.

These include:

  •  Flamer uses a template and does not target a section only (since those do not exist in a video game)
  •  As long as a unit has action points left, you can return to it and do actions on it
  •  We automated move+fire against visible enemies for Storm Bolters. Terminators will shoot while moving if they have an enemy in line of sight. Targeting doors is a manual process using the “Set move and fire target” button. Manual process is also required for limited ammo weapons like the assault cannon.
  •  You can move multiple units at the same time
  •  Space Marine timer is optional
  •  Reworked and automated the command point usage in the enemy turn. Jammed weapons will automatically unjam if there are command points left. Interrupting enemy turn is not possible
  •  Librarians charge their force axe automatically if they would otherwise lose a close combat fight
  •  Guard mode and parry rolls are automated”

I wanted to comment on one complaint that some are making regarding the changes. Some are claiming that the ability to intermix unit commands fundamentally changes the game. I disagree with this sentiment. While this change is certainly a departure from the literal rules of the board game it is a very natural change. In fact, I was on the second mission before I even realized I was mixing the actions of units because it is such a natural thing to do. Doing this in the board game would be tricky as one would have to track the remaining APs for everyone. This change is of course a departure from the board game but one can argue it makes it better and provides for more tactical choices. The change does perhaps make it a little easier for the Marine player because you can now see the outcomes of actions and decide on actions that in the board game you could not. But overall it still retains the spirit and fundamental play of the board game even if it is not a strict implementation of it. Moreover, this change does not force you to play that way. If you want to play with the board game rules of having to perform all APs on a particular Marine before moving to another then you can. So you have the best of both worlds.

The counter argument to the above is that the AI moves the Genestealers with the same intermixing of APs. True but I just can’t see how this really matters. Either a Genestealer is being fired at when it moves or it is not. If it is not under fire then all units are going to be able to move as they wish anyway. If it is under fire then either it is killed or not and the unit behind revealed. The one situation where this matters is when a group of Genestealers is advancing and being fired on by Overwatch. In the board game it would be one Genestealer at a time moving. So say you had three squares of movement under Overwatch. Each Genestealer would have to brave the full three squares of fire. In the computer game one Genestealer could move up behind another and thus get cover for the portion of that movement where the lead Genestealer survived. This can make it slightly harder on the Marine player but considering the AI could generally use a tad bit of help this seems like a good thing. Yes it is a departure from the board game and if you are concerned over whether the game is a literal translation of the board game then this is indeed a difference, but also one that simply does not matter to the spirit and play of the game. Lastly, in my last two missions I watched for this action specifically and did not see the AI employee the tactic even once. It sent the Genestealers at me one at a time. So if the AI does use this ability it is certainly not frequent.

Of course when playing against a human opponent the above changes make a larger impact. But considering both sides gain an advantage I, again, don’t think it fundamentally changes the game. Whether it changes the balance of some missions will only be known after dozens if not hundreds of plays. Again, both sides could agree to use all APs for each unit to emulate the board game so players still have a choice.

One could argue the flamer rule change is significant as well but we played with essentially the same change as a house rule to the board game for decades because the tile-based flame rule simply never made any sense to us. In fact, over the years we have made all sorts of house rules and balance changes as we’ve played. Does this mean we were not playing Space Hulk? It just seems like an argument without purpose. It is still Space Hulk. Enjoy!

Bugs: Version 1.03 is now available. I finished the entire game with the only bad bug being the Mission 6 bug fixed in 1.01.

  • Even in 1.02 there are still problems with the Manual. Some omissions and typos and many of the images are not visible.

Minor Complaints: The character animation is quite good but the Marines move very ponderously. Realistic and fitting perhaps but after a few minutes you’ll wish they’d just hurry up. Surprisingly, while I was very annoyed by this slow pace at first after a few missions it became a non-issue because you learn to give an order and move on to another Marine while the prior one is moving. Between that and just thinking of tactics the Marine pacing stopped mattering. But I do think there should be an option to speed the Marines up. I can understand how it will really bother some players. Panning the screen with the mouse is too slow but you can right-click and drag it around quickly. Keyboard commands work just fine. It can be a bit difficult to see doors in the 3D view and you have to sometimes pan/zoom around or jump to the strategic map to see what is going on. Door location and status is very important in Space Hulk so this is a concern. Animations can sometimes be off with shooting going off on a tangent yet still killing the target. It would also be nice to maybe be able to play as the Genestealers against the AI although the AI may not be able to pose a good enough challenge as the Marine player. Lastly, the inability to customize the look of your forces or pick other Chapters is disappointing, but I suspect this will come as an add-on later for sure.

A larger issue is the lack of a true campaign where you follow units through various missions and see them increase in abilities. This could hurt larger acceptance among some gamers. Ultimately Space Hulk is about sacrificing some units to achieve the mission so such a campaign system would need to be designed well and/or have unique missions. Of course XCOM showed you can have a good campaign even where units die a lot.

Graphics and Sound: I almost hate to comment on these because they really come down to personal preference. Space Hulk does not have the latest cutting edge graphics and effects. It is more than good enough for me but only you can judge that for yourself. There is a fair amount of clipping. I am enjoying the 3D view more as I play. Some of the levels are quite nice with walkways that go over seemingly bottomless pits and equipment that hums and glows. I’ve found myself just zooming around sometimes looking at things from different points of view just because it looks cool. Considering this is not a first person shooter it all seems more than adequate. Animations are ok with some better than others. If you are expecting amazing flawless animations you will be disappointed. Certainly some of the zoomed-in ‘action’ shots show some oddities. Sound, when it isn’t being buggy, is good but not great. There is nice ambient noise. The various sound effects are ok but not amazing. Overall I’d say graphics and sound are good and more than sufficient for a turn based game.

Conclusion: Overall if you liked the board game you will probably like the computer game. If you liked XCOM you should give the game a try. It is a bit slower paced and somewhat less varied than XCOM but it is still an interesting and tactically challenging game with good atmosphere. The ability to play over the Internet and hotseat (not to mention against the computer) should keep re-playability high. But Space Hulk has always been a good occasional pick-up game not something you play constantly over the long term and the computer version does not really change that. I look forward to seeing how they expand the game in the future.

For a somewhat more negative look at the game see Wot I Think: Space Hulk from Rock, Paper, Shotgun but this was written before the 1.01 patch. I think the current issues are minor annoyances at worst (unless you are suffering from a technical issue).

Tips:

  • Right-click and drag the map to move it around quickly.
  • You can stack orders, you don’t have to wait for one unit to finish before going to the next.
  • Don’t forget to check your Command Points at the start of your turn to see if you want to re-roll.
  • Clicking the square behind a Marine backs him up. Clicking more than one square causes him to turn around and walk to the spot.
  • Use the strategic Map (M key) to easily check for door location/status.
  • Don’t forget to check you have given orders to ALL your units before ending your turn; it is easy to forget a few Marines.
  • Consider saving a Command Point or two so units on Overwatch can clear a jam.

Space Hulk Corridor

[Updated: 23AUG13]

Flames of War Pacific!

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Rising SunWell it looks like Battlefront has finally pulled the trigger on the Pacific theater. Their July release schedule now shows,

In Shops 20 July
FW304 Rising Sun
JBX01 Hohei Chutai (Infantry Company)
JBX02 Type 89 Chi-Ro Platoon (x5)
JP706 Nikuhaku Teams

In Shops 27 July
JBX03 Type 95 Ha-Go Platoon (x5)
JP702 Hohei Platoon
JP704 Hohei Machine-gun Platoon

Rising Sun is obviously the army book. Type 89/95 are tanks and Nikuhaku is artillery. Looks like they will be extending their invasion and D-Day efforts further than we thought although considering it appears this release focuses on early war we’ll have to see.

The gents over at WWPD knew about this a few weeks ago.

So when will we see Marines?

For both the Pacific and Vietnam we hoped Battlefront would produce co-operative rules with the game engine running the non-Allied side. We’ll keep up some hope maybe as an island invasion supplement or something?

[Updated: 22JUL13]