So it’s a bit later than I planned, but here is the next post on this somewhat haphazard blog of mine. I hope you have kept yourself distracted with the rather good podcasts and youTube channels in my absence. As with my normal posts on Kickstarter, I’m going to go through a few of the interesting projects that are out there at the moment. Certainly, in at least one instance this week, I’ve got myself all in a fluster over one of the options here. I’m pretty sure that people who knew me from back in my University days will understand why (considering it was a game we talked about a lot in the past). Once more, I’ve not play tested or looked at these things before, so this is completely cold in terms of a review of the Kickstarters and what they offer (as well as a little bit of person buzz as well).
So SLA Industries... Let’s just say that seeing SLA come back in any format is something just a little bit special. This was, back in 1999 when I got to Sheffield Uni, one of those games that myself and my collections of friends somewhat obsessed over. Now, it wasn’t something I ever actually got a chance to play until quite a few years later, but at the time we used to chase around eBay in the vague hope of finding a copy of the rules or the various source books in order to make sure we had everything we needed to play this game.
To be honest, my little RPG group were fairly obsessed with Cyberpunk/Dystopian future type games. SLA certainly fits that bill, but it comes at the genre with its own rather interesting twist. Unlike games like Cyberpunk and Shadowrun, characters weren’t part of the shady underworld (dealing in jobs that no one else would do). In SLA you were a celebrity, if you wanted to be. You got more money having sponsorship deals and selling TV rights to your missions than you might have earned from the job itself. Well that was one of the options anyway. It was a bit daft, having whole moments of trying to become popular and get more money from fans etc to keep you going in the field. At times it could be really daft, but actually it worked out quite well.
Daruma Productions and Nightfall Games are brining SLA back as a Skirmish level wargame, and I have to say I’m pretty excited by this. I first saw/heard about this from Straw and Parker over on the Battlehammer channel, and I think it is fair to say that they are also pretty excited about this as well. The miniatures do look really nice, they have certainly looked at getting the style from the original RPG out into miniatures form.
Now initially when I looked at this, it seemed like this was only for the rules and the faction cards (which I assume are useful), and I was wondering why there weren’t any models in the options. It seems like Daruma have decided to have the models build in over time with the stretch goals, some of which will be purchasable and some which will come in automatically as they are unlocked. I don’t mind that too much at all, because it gives you the option of having all the stats you want and not having to purchase additional boxes of models in order to have a game (after all, there are quite a lot of models out there which will make fairly good proxies for this sort of thing. The models then become a bonus, and as noted before, they do look like they are rather good.
If this can capture any of the RPGs original feel and style than I will be quite impressed. From what I can tell, it seems to be doing quite well at that. I’ll probably put a bit of money on this myself.
Ok, so after fanboying a bit, it’s now time to have a look at something which has popped out because of the concept of the game. Eschaton looks really interesting for this very reason. I mean, it’s difficult not to have a look at a Deckbuilding card game based on the idea of building a cult to take on the world. Now, before anyone says anything, this is the sort of fantasy cult you read of in books, with the pitchforks and the torches, living somewhere which is equally fantastical and NOT REAL. Though I’m pretty convinced some of those games exist as well out there.
Anyway, Eschaton has gone for a really dark and moody scheme. There are quite a few images of the cards on the Kickstarter page, and they look like old fashioned block colour sketches you sometimes get in RPG books (especially those in to old White Wolf Vampire books and the like). The basic premise appears to be that everyone starts with a default cult deck, and then slowly build up your deck over time (as with any other deckbuilder game).
The difference seems to be that you then use your new, more defined deck to start claiming territories on a map, rather than just gathering points cards or trying to knock your opponents out of the game. This seems to be a somewhat different approach at tackling the same problem, how to get someone to win based on the concept of a rotating set of cards and options. I kind of like the more visual concept towards this problem. I always got a little annoyed with things like Dominion, as ultimately you might feel like you are doing quite well, til that count up moment at the end when someone ends up actually being miles ahead. Now, seeing someone is miles ahead can be disheartening, but it also means you know who to go after and can start planning their downfall. That might actually make things more interesting for some people.
Anyway, Eschalon is here... go have a look
You might have noticed that a lot of the board games I look at are based on them having a bit of a quirky style or an odd premise in terms of the “story” of the game. Exquisite Beasts definitely falls into this category. In addition to that though, this Kickstarter also have a bit of an interesting set of pledge levels. So first off, I’m going to look at what it actually is.
In Exquisite Beasts, each player plays as a Mad Scientist. For a while now you have all ruled over the city of Pleasantville, perched in your magnificent castle, doing what Mad Scientists do. Well, the citizens are a little bored of this situation now, and a mob is forming. The only option is to build yourself a monster out of the various pieces of ancient creatures lying around, hope that it is a stormy night, and then go out and deal with the mob. While you are at it, perhaps you can knock down a few of your opponents castles in the process.
This is a multi-phase game. Firstly you see if it is a stormy night so that you can animate your new creation (unless you already have one out and about in the streets that is). Then the mob grows in strength, getting a bit more powerful. Finally you send out your minions to collect pieces, you fight, and deal with any damage being done. It really does sound like a very silly little game and I really like the look of it too. The art is definitely suitable for the sort of game they are looking at, with a slightly comic book/cartoon type vibe to it.
Now the Pledge levels definitely seem interesting. 35 Euro gets you the game, but you can also pledge less than that to get a Print and play package instead. Now, this isn’t the sort of thing I would look at (I like proper prints of games), but it is only 10 Euro to get that, which is a massive saving if you can do decent prints yourself. 100 or 150 Euros allow you to get your own “image” in the game, either as one of the mob or, at the higher level, one of the Mad Scientists that will be included. Now I don’t have that sort of money, but there is certainly some temptation to be “in” a game in that sort of fashion.
This definitely looks like a lot of fun. For me, I have to work out if I can afford this on top of SLA industries. Either way, I recommend having a look at this here.
Real life gaming calls
So, there we have it. I will likely get another something out next week. If I’m sensible about it, I’ll remember to write something about Curious Pastimes. CP is a Fest style LARP which I have been going to since 2008. This weekend is the flagship event for the year (called Renewal) and as such spans out over the entire Back Holiday weekend, involves two massive fights, and generally includes some of the best rounded plot I have experienced since I started poking my head at LARP systems.
Anyway, enjoy one and all.