What have we been playing at the Sentry Box? May 7th – 13th

It has been a some what slower week for games this week for the staff with a fairly poor showing this week as aside from the regular RPGs from Gord playing 5th Edition D&D and Kris running his Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay session not a lot else was played…

Lucky Kris came to the rescue with a fairly busy week. (it is suspicious that his Wife has gone to the UK and he suddenly has lots of time for games…)

Image result for batman arkham asylum bookHe read Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth.  In this groundbreaking, painted graphic novel, the inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over Gotham’s detention center for the criminally insane on April Fools Day, demanding Batman in exchange for their hostages. Accepting their demented challenge, Batman is forced to live and endure the personal hells of the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and many other sworn enemies in order to save the innocents and retake the prison. During his run through this absurd gauntlet, the Dark Knight’s own sanity is placed in jeopardy. This special anniversary edition trade paperback also reproduces the original script with annotations by Morrison and editor Karen Berger.
“I thought it was a solid book with a very distinct art style, it is defiantly from the darker phase when they were making Batman a very gritty, flawed character.  I would give it a solid 3.5/5 Although this may be more due to me having picked up the 25th Anniversary Edition which included the original Script which I really enjoyed reading as the art style and font choices (especially for Joker) made it more difficult than it needed to be to follow through each panel.”

Kris hosted our Weekly Facebook live stream from his Basement this week, playing Alien Vs Predator: The Hunt Begins – 2nd Edition.

Image result for alien vs predator the hunt begins 2nd edition

“I read a lot of the Alien, Predator & AvP books during my teenage years so this franchise has a good amount of nostalgia for me, I was put off from buying the first edition because of the relatively high price tag and the thought of assembling the metal Aliens and having to bend their tails in to place horrified me (and I am a miniatures gamer!)
This Second Edition addressed both of those issues with a much reduced price tag [$78 at the time of writing] it was almost half the price of the First Edition and came with a host of improvements.
Firstly, the new box is a more reasonable size to fit on my shelf, and comes with pre cut foam to store all of the miniatures for the game.
Secondly, the miniatures themselves are Prodos Games new line of UNIcast single piece resin miniatures.  They have an absolutely absurd level of detail and I can’t wait to try to paint them!
Finally, the quality of the cardboard has improved and is on a thicker card stock.

That was enough to convince me to take the plunge but it took me 6 months to finally get it out to play on the stream, I wanted my first play to be a 3 player game with all of the factions in play. (the game supports 1,2 or 3 players) I took charge of the Predators and really enjoyed the asymmetric win conditions for each faction, and the very distinct play style that each faction has.
The Aliens have numbers and speed to get where they need to be and have a flood of activation’s once the other two factions have finished.
The USNC Colonial Marines have tactical flexibility and a good amount of combined actions and little bits of equipment that lets them punch above their weight.
Predators are absolute monsters with specific load outs that let them specialize in either close combat or ranges attacks, multiple wounds per model and the ability to heal themselves.  The do suffer for numbers and can get easily swarmed though so you have to play the patient hunter.

The game has a feel like  a lot of the dungeon crawl style miniatures games on the market at the moment and I was looking forward to seeing if it would have enough in the guts of the game to actually differentiate it in a potentially crowded market.  Mechanically it felt a little dated with the roll to hit, roll to wound, roll to dodge, roll Armour etc… The game sometimes felt bogged down by the combat which should be the heart of its system.  If you are used to playing miniatures battle games like Warhammer 40,000 than this may not bother you but if you are coming at it from a boardgame perspective it can affect the flow of the game.  The only other negative that springs  to mind is that the rule book is not the best.  It does not flow  that well and so is a hard read and the game could have benefited from player aids or hand outs.  Again, I think I have been spoiled by more modern games and my expectation level for a rules reference, learn to play guide and hand outs are quite high.

On to the positives, the game does an excellent job of being an Alien vs Predator game, the hidden Ping mechanic perfectly represents each faction with the humans being able to reveal any marine as any Ping token ensuring that they have the right tools for the job, Predators get extra Ping tokens to try to throw off where the real ones are and the Aliens just have so many that they can literally flood rooms with them making it impossible to move through without a very deadly fight.
Another aspect I really enjoyed was the Faction specific strategy decks, each deck had a very distinct feel and one of the best part of each turn was playing poker with what cards each player was able to play, the Environmental Deck also through up a lot of interesting problems during the game forcing you to adapt your plans from round to round.

All in all, I would score AvP a 4/5 (3/5 if you have no interest in the Franchise) The negatives of the rulebook will resolve themselves after multiple play throughs (or if you get someone who knows how to play to teach you) and whilst the combat mechanics do feel dated, it is not enough to ruin the game.
The game really does do an excellent job of representing each faction and them feeling like the do in the movies and books.

I have already picked up some of the UNIcast expansions and will be adding them in to some games and seeing how it affects the feel of each faction, but for now its Game Over man…”

Not content with playing games on stream (you can watch the unedited version here they fix the sound at 31 minutes in if you want to skip ahead…)

Kris also ran our Arkham Horror: The Card Game Invocation Party where we had Tea and Cakes whilst playing the upcoming Labyrinths of Lunacy scenario for the Arkham Horror card game.

Image result for arkham horror lcg

The Invocation event kits come with come cool prizes but don’t have a scenario attached but Kris and Greg managed to snag some promotional copies of the Labyrinths of Lunacy scenario pack whilst they were at the GAMA Trade showImage result for labyrinths of lunacy.  This pack allows for some really interesting, new ways to play Arkham Horror, introducing an Epic Multiplayer Mode.  Whilst you need 3 copies of Labyrinths of Lunacy to play Epic Multiplayer the experience is defiantly worth it.  With three groups of investigators plunged in to an interwoven scenario where each act it timed and they all advance together.  Players are not allowed to discuss things across different tables unless card effects come in to play and the mysteries unfold with amusing results as to if and when players help themselves or one of the other groups.
“I did not know what to expect when I created the event and as I knew I would be playing in it I tried to avoid reading too much in to how it all worked.  It was probably the best game of Arkham Horror: The Card Game that I have played, even though Skids O’Tool didn’t make it out of the Labyrinth alive…”

Whilst the Labyrinths of Lunacy is not yet available it is on the boat to FFG so make sure you get your preorders in as it is a really fun scenario.

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