Category: Board Games

Betrayal at Calth: on the cheap, or “how 40k is worth more than gold”

I’ve not really been that interested in 40k as a game, I’ve always had an appreciation for the lore and have put together some 40k stuff in the past, but the game itself was never much interest to me, I always preferred Fantasy and even then I got bored of that after a few years. Some of the more recent miniatures for me have fallen into two camps, 1. Utter garbage (space chariot) and 2. Nice but eye-wateringly expensive.

So when they announced the Horus Heresy game, I was impressed and interested, but ultimatley, fell into the second camp, nearly £100 for a board game for me was too much, given I have no interest in playing 30k, who the game is clearly aimed at. That being said, congratulations to Games Workshop on realising another license to print money ala Space Hulk.

Then, last week, after the game had been released, one of the guys on the Corehammer Facebook group mentioned that the boards, rules and dice were available on ebay for a tenner. So, with a bit of cash in my paypal account I decided I would pick up the rules/boards and then get some cheap marines / chaos marines to play the game.

So, I guess what we have here is, how cheaply can you play Betrayal at Calth?

All the minatures I amassed "on the cheap"

All the minatures I amassed “on the cheap”

  • Boards / Rules / Cards / Dice – £9.99 – Ebay
  • Blood Angels Marines – Squad of 10 – Donation
  • Dark Angels Marines – 5 Terminators – Ebay – £8
  • Blood Angels – Terminator Captain – £11
  • Chaos Space Marines – Squad of 10 – Wargaming Trading – £10
  • Chaos Space marines  – 5 in bits – Donation
  • Chaos Space Marines – 5 on sprue – Ebay – £10
  • Chaos Space Marines – Chosen / Lord from Dark Vengeance Set – Ebay – £2
  • Chaos Space Marines – Hellbrute – £8
  • Bitzbox order – £10

Total Spent: £68.99

So, given that the boxed game is £85 at Element Games, probably not worth it considering I needed two donations worth to keep it cheap. THAT BEING SAID, I bought all this stuff in one go, it might be better for a gamer looking for a cheap game to get 2 squads of marines and the boards etc for £30 and try the game before they commit.

Its worth noting that all this stuff was either undercoated or unpainted, buying pre-mainted miniatures could have gotten me some stuff a bit cheaper. But I like doing my own paint jobs. There was also a lot more out there for buying armies in bulk but people don’t like to split, so i’d have to spend more and then re-sell the stuff I didn’t need. But at the same time, I also needed to make a bitz order to get a few things like a Chaos Marine heavy bolter and Flamer to convert the Dark Angels terminator into a flamer guy.

So, how does the game play?

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The rules are very simple however there was still some badly worded rules and a few issues cropped up, we played the first scenario wrong as we were not correctly resolving the defence rolls properly, so it meant marines were dying VERY easily, however both players did manage to get a couple of marines through the blast door but it got one sided very quickly due to iniative rolls. The second scenario was a lot better however it did seem like there wasn’t a whole lot of time for the actual game, you effectively get 4 or 5 turns to move the Captain to a computer and switch it on, however the first 2 turns were spent mostly running into position.

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The command cards are a nice touch, and these are essentially a replacement for “unit” special rules, however there are so many in comparison to how many you get during a game that it was hard to base any real tactics around them. That being said, I can see how lots of different cards would give you more re-play options given that there are only 6 missions.

The other bug bear is due to a lack of points, you are restricted in what you take for the mission, after two games, I would find myself thinking a better force would be say 2 terminators and 6 tactical marines, but as there are no points, it upsets any potential game balance. So if Games Workshop were going to look to expand this, this is the first avenue I would look at, the other thing is that whilst I do like the command cards, I think another option would be a similar system to the Saga Dice system, so you have a vast range of special rules, but it is more random as to which ones “switch on” at a given turn.

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So, my thoughts. there are two ways to “buy” this game, the first is to walk into a retailer and drop £100 / £85 for the game in its intended form, and the other is to buy the game components from ebay for a tenner and use your own marines. It should seem obvious from above that its not really possible to buy 40k marines cheap enough to warrant building this game from scratch, so this avenue should be avoided unless you have an interest in going into 40k / 30k in the near future (which I don’t). As an introduction to the 30k world, this is a great value box set, however as a standalone board game, it suffers in comparison to say, Imperial Assault (which I found it to be very similar to, in terms of attack and defence dice).

Thanks for reading.

 

Heromeet 2013 Part 1 – Dominion

Greetings!

 

Sandy here again. As I mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend I was at a board gaming weekend in Bangor, Wales called Heromeet. This is something that has grown out of a group of University friends getting together once a year, and now seems to involve taking over a bar all weekend and playing loads of different games. Some people were Role-playing, some played WFB, some played War Machine, and my friends and I played a lot of board games! It was a fantastic weekend, and I had a great time.

 

Games Played:

Colosseum, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, Village, Discworld, Power Grid, King of Tokyo, First Sparks, Small World Underground, Navegador, 7 Wonders

 

I don’t intend to review all of these games, but to start out I’m going to pick one or two of my favourites to talk about – the first of which is Dominion.

 

Dominion is a card based game, rather than a traditional board game. It resembles a Collectable Card Game like Magic, however instead of building your deck in advance of the game, you build the deck as you go along from a limited selection of cards available to all players. It generally only takes about half an hour to play a game, so it is a nice introductory game and one I will suggest for people who haven’t played Eurogames before.

I’m going to break this review down into what I hope will become my standard five sections: Theme, Components, Game-play, Praise and Criticisms.  I don’t like the idea of arbitrary ratings, but I do intend to give each game a Replay-ability rating, relating to how often I would play this game again.

So, without any further ado…

 

Dominion – a Review

Theme

From the back of the box:

“You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.

But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents, on your mother’s side, would be delighted.”

Dominion’s theme is pretty much explained in the title. You play a Monarch of a kingdom, and you have to build your Dominion up to be as grand as you can make it. You may decide to build Villages and employ Woodcutters, or hire a Militia and build a Moat. How you build it is up to you, but only the grandest Dominion can ultimately triumph.

Components

The game consists of about 500 individual cards split into three types: Kingdom cards, Treasure cards and Victory cards. Kingdom cards are the bread and butter of this game and will see the most use, and the Treasure cards are what enable you to get the other cards, but it is the Victory cards that, as you may have guessed, determine the victor. Each type of card has its name at the top, the card type at the bottom along with its cost, and a picture along with its rules in the middle.

These cards are very pretty, and there has been a lot of effort taken with all the different art in the game. The Treasure and Victory cards all look very similar, but each set of 10 Kingdom cards has its own individual picture, sometimes in a very different style to the others.

 

Some of the Kingdom cards from Dominion

Some of the Kingdom cards from Dominion

The different cards also work very well with the theme of the game, and the name gives you an idea of what the card will do. The Thief, for example, steals cards from other players whilst the Moat protects you from such attacks.

Gameplay

To start the game, you have a deck of 10 cards – 7 Copper cards, worth 1 coin each, and 3 Estate cards worth 1 Victory Point each. These are shuffled, and 5 are dealt to become your first hand of cards.

There are then 10 different Kingdom cards that are randomly selected to be used in that game. These make up the cards that are available to build your deck from.

The overall game mechanic is rather simple. On your turn you have 1 Action and 1 Buy. As your Action, you can play any cards from your hand that has the word Action at the bottom. These allow you do to all sorts of things, such as draw cards, play additional actions, receive additional money or extra Buys, as well as many others.

After you have played all the Actions you can (or want to), you add up the value of all the Treasure cards in your hand, as well as any extra coins from the cards you have played, and you can Buy a card costing up to that much. The cost of the card is printed in the bottom left corner, and can range from free (Copper) to 8 (Province, and Victory card worth 6 VPs). Then you put this new card, plus all the cards you have played into your Discard pile and draw your next hand of 5 cards.

The winner of the game is the person who has the most Victory Points when the game end conditions are met. Generally, this is when either the pile of Province cards has been exhausted, or any other 3 piles have run out.

There are many different strategies to employ with this game, and as the Kingdom cards in use are different for each game, no two games will be the same. Despite this, it is important to strike a balance between buying useful Action and Treasure cards that will let you buy more cards in your turn, and buying Victory cards so that you score points at the end. All that Gold will be worthless when finding out who won! However, if you load up on Victory cards too early, you’ll be left with a hand full of them and nothing to do on your turn. A balance is key.

Praise

This is an excellent gateway game into the Eurogame genre. Indeed, it’s the first of these types of games that my wife and I bought together, having been introduced to it by a friend. Its short play time is one of its more enticing features, and it generally means we play through a couple of times before we pack away. The different Kingdom cards also mean that, as no combination of cards will be the same game to game, there is always a slightly different way to play.

Criticisms

Despite all of the good things I have said, there are a few negatives to bring to light. The Kingdom cards are not all equally useful, and there will be several times where you only end up buying two or three different cards in a game. The other strategic issue I have is that it is all too easy to focus on just buying Treasure and Victory cards, leaving the game to become more of an accounting exercise. However, this will always be a player decision, so it’s not a design flaw of the game.

The other small problem is that it can take a proportionally long time to set up for a game of its length. Before the game itself starts, you need to choose 10 of the 25 different Kingdom cards to play with, then find the requisite cards in the box, then hand out the starting deck to each player, then shuffle and deal your own starting hand. Doesn’t sound like much, but for a game only lasting around 20-30 minutes, taking 5-10 minutes to set up may seem a little over the top.

Neither of these issues is a barrier to enjoying the game though.

Replayability

This game comes out of the games cupboard a lot. We even have two of the different expansions that are available, and they each add something to the game as a whole. It is a very easy game to learn, and an excellent game to fill a lunch hour or in the break between other games.

9/10

 

That’s all for this blog post, I’ll be back soon with another review!

 

Sandy

An Introduction to Board Games

Hi there!

 

My name is Sandy, and Andy has very kindly let me use his blog to write up some thoughts about my hobbies. I am mainly a Warhammer Fantsy player, and it is through playing WFB that I met Andy. At present I play Lizardmen, though for a long time I was pushing around an Ogre Kingdoms army with limited success! I am currently painting a Vampire Counts army, and if there is a call for it I may post up some thoughts on Warhammer in general, and my armies and events I attend in particular.

 

However, it is my other main hobby that I am mostly here to talk about, and that is board gaming. Most people will imagine that I play things like Cluedo and Monopoly, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Board games have evolved leaps and bounds recently, and there is a trend to much more interesting and involved games. They are all very different, but the overarching theme is for more strategy and less reliance on dice rolls and chance. Typically these are collectively referred to as Euro Games or German Style games, and more information can be found on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German-style_board_game

 

What I intend to do with this blog is to give a rundown of the various games that I play, and a small review of them at the same time. Thankfully, I have a large stock of these types of games, so there are several I can go through! Last weekend I also attended a pseudo-convention in Bangor, Wales called Heromeet, and I played a huge number of games over the weekend. This will give me hopefully enough material for several posts.

 

So as not to overload this post with information, I’ll save my first review for my next post. Until then, if you are interested in these sort of games, I highly recommend you check out Wil Wheaton’s youtube channel called Tabletop. Each episode Wil plays a different sort of game with 3 other people and gives a rundown of the game rules and how the game plays out. Below is a link to the first of these videos, for a fantastic game called Small World.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9QtdiRJYro&list=PL4F80C7D2DC8D9B6C&index=32

Until next time!

 

Sandy