Friday, December 9, 2011

Will Mars Attack the Tabletop in 2012?

Topps is looking to bring their Mars Attacks property back in a big way in 2012. It's the 50th Anniversary of the creepily cool trading card series that was the inspiration of the 1996 movie directed by Tim Burton, and Topps wants to celebrate.

According to the press release "major product launches" are planned throughout 2012 and beyond. I, for one, am looking forward to what's coming our way. Already announced are a comic book series from IDW and a new toyline from Mezco.

But, the reason I am mentioning any of this here is the (completely unfounded) hope that Mars Attacks could make it's way to the tabletop in some form. Some may argue that it already has. Unofficially, anyways. Martians!!! from Twilight Creations and Invasion from Outer Space from Flying Frog Productions owe heavily to the original artwork from the trading cards. But, I'm hoping from something new. Something licensed. And, of course, something good (not saying the other games aren't good).

I think Heroclix would be a fantastic fit for Mars Attacks...but, given the history between Topps and Wizkids I don't know if that would happen. But, it could be very cool. A board game could be cool, depending upon the publisher.

All I know is that in 2012 I am going to be reading Mars Attacks comics, collecting a Mars Attacks toyline and wanting to play a Mars Attacks game. I just hope someone in the Topps licensing department is thinking the same thing!

Anyone interested in following the relaunch of this classic property should check out the official Facebook page found right here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

First off, allow me to apologize for the sporadic updates lately here at The Rural Gamer. I started working at a local bookstore, and after three years of not work it's taken some time to adjust to the schedule and managing that along with family life, and winding down livestock season here on our little farm. But, I'm striving to keep this place updated and relevant. With that being said...

There seems to be a glut of games coming out between now and the end of the year that I've been really excited about. That, of course, has it's good points and it's bad points. On the good side of things, it's more games! Yea! On the bad side of things, I need to have the money to spend on said games...and there's this little holiday called Christmas that's barreling down on us like a freight train. It can be a dilemma.

However, topping that list is the latest version of Wings of War, now called Wings of Glory. Wings of War, a game of aerial combat set in either WWI or WWII, was originally produced by Italian game company Nexus, and brought to the US market by Fantasy Flight Games. A year or so back the rights reverted back to Nexus, and they formed a new company NG International and distributed their games worldwide themselves. However, that was to be short lived as NG International and Nexus folded earlier this year.

Out of the ashes was born Ares Games. Ares, as I've previously blogged about, bought the rights to produce the War of the Ring boardgame, and then in September they announced they'd be bringing Wings of War back to the market under the new title, Wings of Glory. It was promised the new game would be fully compatible with previously released products.

The Starter Box for Wings of Glory was originally targeted for a November release, which slipped into December and currently the Ares website is listing it as coming out in January. While I can't wait to get the game in my hot little gamer hands, this is not a problem. It puts it past Christmas, which is a good thing financially. Also, I would rather wait for a game produced correctly, than something rushed to market prematurely.

The Starter Box is set in the WWII period, and features 4 planes. On the Allied side we have the Curtis P-40 Warhawk and the Yakovlev Yak-1, and for the Axis powers there are the Reggiane Re.2001 Falco II and the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien. Additional plane models will follow.

(Ares is also currently at work on the World War I version of the game, as well as a naval battle game called Sails of Glory due out in 2012. The initial focus of the game is said to be in the Napoleonic Wars era.)

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles to getting into any new game is finding other people with whom to play. Thankfully, that's where the good folks at the Wings of Glory Aerodrome come in. The Aerodrome is an absolutely fantastic site devoted to Wings of War/Wings of Glory. Through this site you can find other players all around the world. Fortunately for me there seems to be a veritable hotbed of Ohio-based players. So, if you are at all interested in this game, you need to do yourself a favor and check out the Aerodrome. You'll be glad you did.

Look for the Wings of Glory WWII Starter Set in stores in January 2012. You can download the new rulebook on Ares' website here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

There and Back Again

Gaming of all kinds gains inspiration from a variety of sources either directly or indirectly. Perhaps nothing has influenced gaming more than J.R.R. Tolkien's epic saga The Lord of the Rings.

The original Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, back in the 1970s, was heavily influenced by Tolkien's fantasy setting. Humans, dwarves, elves, orcs and halflings co-mingling in a fantastical milieu full of magic, dragons and the eternal struggle between good and evil can all be traced to the stories of Tolkien (which in turn had their own influences, but that's neither here nor there right now).

The latest game to be directly spawned out of the stories of Middle Earth is The Lord of the Rings Heroclix by Wizkids. While some may have rolled their eyes at the announcement, I was pretty darn excited by it. You see, back in 2003 Sabretooth Games (a now defunct subsidiary of Games Workshop) released The Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game. I was just starting to get back into gaming, and was already a fan of Wizkids' Heroclix game. Games Workshop had already released their Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, but I wasn't interested in painting up miniatures at that point. The Lord of the Rings TMG,with it's pre-painted miniatures, seemed right up my alley.

Through the Sabretooth forums I was able to find another local player, and we would meet up periodically at a local game store and have a great time playing the game. But, the game didn't last long and soon passed the way of many a collectible game.

So here we are a good 8 years later, and Wizkids is bringing out a new LOTR game feature pre-painted miniatures and using their Heroclix ruleset.

The only downside is it was originally supposed to be released next week, but got pushed back to the first week of December.

Wizkids also has a LOTR-based boardgame in the works where players take on the role of the black riders trying to track down the Fellowship and stop them before they reach Mount Doom. I believe this one is slated for an early 2012 release.

On the subject of Tolkien-inspired games, newcomer Ares Games is releasing an updated version of the classic, and well-regarded, boardgame The War of the Ring. This is another game that I've wanted for years, but it was out-of-print. So, I'm really happy to see Ares releasing a new edition of the game. Ares has been publishing a series of articles on their site chronicling the development of this new edition. War of the Ring is expected to be in stores in December. You can check those out here:

Between Lord of the Rings Heroclix, War of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game and The One Ring RPG it's a fantastic time for gamers who are fans of Tolkien, and gamers in general!

Friday, September 30, 2011

DC Fans! Wizkids Wants Your Input!

Wizkids is looking to the fans to see which character should be included in the next DC-themed Heroclix set due out in Summer 2012!

The first round of voting, which includes 12 characters, is open now and closes on October 5. Round One will narrow the field down to 6 characters. Round Two will narrow the choices down to 3 characters. Finally, the last round of voting will choose the character to appear in the next set.

The initial choices are: Big Barda, Amazo, Captain Atom, Fire, Kanjar Ro, Starfire, Red Star, Gentleman Ghost, Kyle Raynor (Blue Lantern), Red Tornado, Sand and Thorn. Who will make the cut? The choice is up to you! (Personally, I voted for Captain Atom).

Outside of the contest, we now know the next DC Comics Heroclix set is quite a ways off. Summer 2012? That's a long time! I'm willing to bet that the next set will be showcasing the new look sported by most DC characters as a result of the relaunch of the entire DC Comics line this month. I know the relaunch caught many DC-licensees, such as Mattel, a bit by surprise causing the shuffling of product release plans. I don't know for a fact that this is the case with Wizkids, but it seems to be a reasonable assumption.

In the meantime there's lots of other Heroclix to enjoy! And, don't forget to vote! To cast your vote go to:, select your favorite character and hit the submit button. Simple as that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet

Earlier this year Amarillo Design Bureau and Mongoose Publishing announced a partnership to produce a new game set in ADB's Star Fleet Universe and based upon Mongoose's popular A Call to Arms starship combat rules set.

The result is A Call to Arms: Star Fleet. It's due this November and it just be my most anticipated game of the year.


I love Star Trek, and have since it first aired back in the 60s. I wanted to love Star Fleet Battles, the venerable star ship combat game set in the Star Fleet Universe...but it just was for me. Too much minutia to manage for my tastes. It's a good game, but just not my style.

Federation Commander was released back in 2005 and it presented a simpler (but not simple!) set of rules, and brought in an entire new fanbase. I played one basic game of Fed Comm a few years back at my store, and have been meaning to get back to it but just never did.

But then, this year, two big announcements were made that piqued my interest. ADB and Mongoose announced A Call to Arms: Star Fleet and Wizkids announced Star Trek: Fleet Captains. Both were exciting, but I didn't really need two ship combat games...especially ones that were basically in the same setting ('though with significant differences). But, as details about each became clearer...and, especially after playing Star Trek: Fleet Captains at Gen Con...I learned that they were two entirely different games.

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is a pure star ship miniatures combat game, whereas the Wizkids game is more of a exploration/combat boardgame. Entirely different.

I never played a game of A Call to Arms, but got a review copy of the main rule book that I still need to review and post soon. However, from a cursory reading I like what I see. I'm really excited about the possibilities of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet as well as the all-new CAD designed resin minis that Mongoose is producing to go along with the new game. They're slightly larger that ADB's Starline 2400 series of minis, and producing them in resin is a nice move, in my opinion.

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet should be in stores in November, with the first miniatures arriving shortly thereafter in December.

Check out for more information

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ares Games Keeps 'Em Flying

Back in July we had some relatives come out from California to visit us here in Central Ohio. While they were here one thing they really wanted to do was visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. I've been wanting to go there for the past decade that I've lived here in Ohio, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The place was immense and so interesting. Well, this blog isn't about family's about gaming, right? Well, upon coming out of the museum I found myself really wanting to get into Nexus Games' Wings of War. Wings of War started out as a card based game (and was published in the US by Fantasy Flight Games), but over time morphed into a miniatures game as well. There's two versions of the game. One is set in World War I, while the other is set in the skies during WWII.

It was almost immediately following that visit to the museum that Nexus Games announced they were shutting down operations. Now, I know that there's a bunch of existing Wings of War product out there in stores...but, hearing the company was shutting down really put a damper on my enthusiasm. And, really, like I need yet another game to play? I don't have time for the games I already play, right?

Shortly thereafter a new player emerged in the European gaming scene: Ares Games. Ares announced that they'd be picking up the rights to another popular Nexus game: War of the Ring (based, of course, upon the classic works of J.R.R. Tolkien). Was this a glimmer of hope for Wings of War? Would Ares Games also pick up the pieces to this game as well?

Well, just yesterday, Ares Games issued a press release announcing they reached an agreement to produce Wings of War under a new name: Wings of Glory.

Ares Games reaches an agreement with Andrea Angiolino e Pier Giorgio Paglia to publish the game "Wings of Glory"

The best selling game of WWI and WWII aerial combat comes back with a new name

Camaiore, Italy – September 1, 2011 - Ares Games, a Tuscany-based games publisher recently established, announces an agreement with Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio Paglia, the authors of the best selling game that recreates aerial combat during the WWI and WWII, formerly published with the name "Wings of War".
Ares Games will publish the game under a new brand, "Wings of Glory". Wings of Glory will be published with a new rulebook, while maintaining compatibility with the previous Wings of War products already in the market.
"We are happy to be partnering with Andrea and Pier Giorgio to bring this wonderful game system to market." said Christoph Cianci, CEO of Ares Games, "Thousands of fans worldwide will be pleased to know that their planes and maneuver cards from Wings of War will be compatible with the new Wings of Glory."

Initially, Ares Games will focus on developing new miniatures for the game, but also plans to release new starter sets.

"This game has a very strong and loyal fan base around the world, which gave and will surely continue to give a great help to the success of our game with their support and creativity. They have high expectations of it, in spite of several attempts to imitate it with other settings and chrome," stated Andrea Angiolino, co-creator of the game. "We chose to partner with Ares Games because we believe they understand our game, and that they will take care of the wishes of its fans, as well as be respectful of its creators."

The first Wings of Glory products to be released will be four airplanes for the WWII game series: the American P40, the Russian Yak-1, the Japanese Ki-61 and the Italian Re-2001 Falco. Ares Games will publish a Starter Set with these four models, containing the introductory rules and all other elements needed to start play. The complete schedule of the next releases will be announced soon.
With this announcement, Ares Games now publishes two important games from Italian creators that have achieved international recognition. In July, Ares Games aquired the rights from Sophisticated Games to publish the award-winning board game "War of the Ring", based on the J.R.R.Tolkien's trilogy, "The Lord of the RingsTM", and created by Roberto Di Meglio, Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi. A new edition of the game, in English, will be available this Fall, with other language editions forecasted for Spring 2012.

So, there you have it. Wings of War lives on in a new incarnation. Mad props to Ares of saving these games from a far too early demise. Wings of Glory is back on my gaming radar. I'll be keeping my eye out for the new starter set, and maybe even check out the folks at the Wings of War Aerodrome to get some games in!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Seas of War

The rumors are swirling.

There's been rumors and hush-hush whispers for awhile now of a new boxed set release from Games Workshop along the lines of their Space Hulk limited edition a year or two back. Over time the rumors began getting a bit more specific and centering around a Warhammer Fantasy-based naval combat game.

Just recently an image surfaced from a German-edition of White Dwarf magazine (the house organ of GW) of an ad for an upcoming release. No details. Just a full-page image of an undead pirate, Count Noctilus with brief text saying "For more information contact Captain Jaego Roth of the Heldenhammer". Yeah. Not much to go on.

But, then, there's the "inside sources" leaking information. So far what has been leaked is:

  • boxed set with "lots of ships"
  • one time release, no supplements nor follow-ups
  • four fleets in the box (High Elves, Orks, Empire, Vampires)
  • Warmaster scale (10mm)
  • the name is, apparently, "Dread Fleet"

Well, dang, if these rumors pan out I'm sold. I've wanted to add a naval battle game to my gaming repertoire, and I've been casually looking at Uncharted Seas from Spartan Games, but as impressive as the Uncharted Seas models are (and only getting more so, especially with their new digital sculptures) my heart, I was wishing the game was set in the Warhammer universe in which I already play.

So, I am very enthusiastically watching how this plays out. Right now it sounds fantastic!

Hulk Smash Heroclix!

Life is funny sometimes.

I was just thinking the other day that one of my all-time favorite comic characters, the Incredible Hulk, hasn't been well represented in Heroclix lately. Hulk was one of the characters I grew up on. This was before the classic television series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. This was back in the day when the comic was written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Herb Trimpe (soon followed by Sal Buscema).

Well, lo and behold, mere days after thinking about the recent lack of Hulk in Heroclix, it gets announced that the set following the upcoming Superman set would be called The Incredible Hulk and featuring the Ol' Jade Jaws and his world. There will also be a sub-set of Hulked Out Heroes featuring gamma-irradiated versions of other Marvel characters such as Captain America.

So, thank you Wizkids for sensing my want before I even knew I had it and bringing The Incredible Hulk back to the Heroclix tabletop in a BIG way! The Incredible Hulk Heroclix will be in stores December 2011.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gen Con 2011: The Experience

I got home from Gen Con last night, and tomorrow I'm leaving with the family for a cabin in the middle of Nowhere, WV for a week. The dive hotel I stayed in while in Indianapolis didn't have internet, nor will the cabin we're at the rest of this week. So, while I could, I wanted to share some general thoughts about this years overall Gen Con experience.

Like most things of this nature, my time at Gen Con had it's highs and lows. The lows, however, were all things beyond Gen Con's control and the direct result of bad decisions on my part.

I drove from Ohio to Indiana early Friday morning. Not even an hour into the drive I got pulled over on Route 42 for speeding. This was extremely aggravating, as I actually was trying to be mindful of the speed limit. It was a very foggy morning in rural central Ohio. But, my mind must have wandered long enough for my foot to rest too heavily upon the gas pedal, and BAM! There were the flashing lights. Not good. After being issued a delightful speeding ticket, I was back on my way.

The rest of the drive was much better. However, between being pulled over, a breakfast stop and a...ahem...potty stop, I got into Indy a bit later than planned. Parking downtown was already almost completely filled up. I finally found a garage that didn't say "FULL" near Union Station and jumped on the opportunity! It was already after 10:00am, and I still needed to walk to the convention center, pick up my badge and event tickets and get to the D6 Generation's Play by Mob event at the Westin hotel by noon.

As I was walking out of the parking garage, I noticed the sign that said all cars had to be out by 7:00pm. 7? Really? One of the events I was most looking forward to (Street Fighter Heroclix Release Tournament) was being held that night only at 6:00pm! Sure, I could have risked trying to move my car at some point during the day to another garage, but that was a) a sizeable risk giving the crowds and b) would have incured even more parking garage fees. So, in the end, I missed the event. And, I'll admit, it put a bit of a dark cloud over the day for me.

However, I got my badge and made it to the D6 Generation event in plenty of time. I got to meet the crew (Russ, Raef and Craig) as well as Russ' wife, Nicole (be sure to check out Total Fan Girl). I also met John from the Game On! with Cody and John podcast. The event was a total blast as the amassed crowd took on the part of 4 Space Marines (from Warhammer 40K) and Craig ran us through a Deathwatch scenario. It was crazy, and a lot of fun. This was followed by a brief Q&A time. It helped to disperse the dark cloud a bit...

The D6 Generation (Nicole, Raef, Russ & Craig)

Following that I made my way to the Exhibit Hall. Now, the Indiana Convention Center has been undergoing some major expansion and renovation the past couple of years and the new areas were now opened up. The new Exhibit Hall was where the old RCA Dome was, and it was huge. It took a little getting used to the new layout. But, I pretty much started at one end and worked my way through the crowds and the booths.

Gamers were everywhere...

I'll go into more specific details by company next week, but as is always the case at Gen Con there was a ton to see! Honestly, it can be overwhelming. If you weren't already cognisant of the fact that there's "too many games, and too little time"...the Gen Con Exhibit Hall would drive that point home for you!

The Fantasy Flight Games booth was practically a convention unto itself. It was huge. But, again, I'll get into specifics next week.

My biggest disappoint from the convention was there was no Battlelore present in the Fantasy Flight booth. I spoke with an FFG employee who, without saying anything concrete, sure implied strongly that the game wasn't dead and that there would be announcements in the future. How far in the future? No telling. Honestly, I already have enough Battlelore stuff to play the game for years and years...but, I sure would like to see some new armies introduced to the game system (like Elves!).

The high point of the convention for me was playing in a Pathfinder RPG session being GM'd by Greg A. Vaughan (who's written a ton of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder material for Wizards of the Coast and Paizo, respectively) and playing alongside Anthony Pryor, who is another RPG industry veteran. It was a lot of fun. I admit, I am sold on Pathfinder. I haven't played an RPG since the mid-90s (except for a brief dalliance with the Star Wars RPG). But, again, more on Pathfinder later.

I'll end on this note. As I worked my way through the cavernous Exhibit Hall seeing all the new games being hawked by the various publishers, I realized something for myself. I found myself wanting to focus more on the games I was already playing, rather than giving into the gamer magpie tendency to gravitate to the latest and greatest. My one big purchase at the show was the High Elves Battalion Box for Warhammer Fantasy Battles that I picked up from The Warstore. I've been needing this for some time now, as it forms the backbone of my High Elves army. Now, armed with fresh birthday money it is finally mine! This gets me so much closer to a playable army. I also picked up the magic dice for the WHFB: Storm of Magic expansion, a new Pathfinder RPG Adventure Path (Jade Regent Pt 1). I picked up the Pathfinder Tales novel, Prince of Wolves from a local Borders that was closing up, too.

Of course, now I'm exhausted! But, it was totally worth it...

My apologies for this being so brief. Please be sure to check back next week for more from Gen Con.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Pathfinder Pre-Painted Minis Coming from Wizkids

In the wake of the recent announcement of the Pathfinder Beginner Box: Heroes set of pre-painted miniatures for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game, Wizkids and Paizo Publishing issued a press release today announcing they've got more miniatures in the works. Read on!

Paizo Publishing and WizKids Games announce Pathfinder Battles, a new ongoing prepainted miniatures brand to debut in December with Heroes & Monsters, a blind-packed, randomized set of 40 miniatures based on the smash-hit Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Additional sets will follow throughout 2012 and beyond, including a 60-figure Rise of the Runelords set scheduled for June 2012. These sets join the already announced Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes pack of four high-quality non-random prepainted plastic miniatures, due in October 2011.

“Response to our initial Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes set has been overwhelming,” said Lax Chandra, President of WizKids Games, “A full line of Pathfinder Battles miniatures will enable us to provide gamers with a huge variety of figures based on the award-winning imagery of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.”

WizKids continues to blow us away with their sculpts for the Beginner Box Heroes and Heroes & Monsters sets,” said Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens. “Every day we’ve been getting amazing images from the WizKids sculptors, and we cannot wait until these figures hit gaming tables all around the world.”

Pathfinder Battles prepainted fantasy miniatures will be available at and through WizKids distribution partners worldwide starting in December 2011.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yeah, I Admit It - I Bought the Smurfs Game

Last night after my monthly game night at The Guardtower with my friend Dan I bought a new game from Wizkids.

The Smurfs: No Smurf Left Behind.

I'll admit it. The 80s were a big time for me. It wouldn't be right for me to say that I'm a "child of the 80s" 'though. I was born in 1965. I'm more a child of the 70s, really. But, the pop culture of the 1980s was huge in my my life. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. GI Joe. Thundercats. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those were huge to me, and still are.

And, then there were the Smurfs. They were extremely prevalent back in the day. I watched the cartoon here and there, but never bought any Smurfs toys because they weren't articulated. I wanted my toys to be able to move and Smurfs were just cute, static little guys (and girl) that really didn't have any play value.

But, I did have a fondness for the little blue folk.

So, here were are in 2011 and there's a big screen movie, The Smurfs, opening today. I don't expect we'll be hearing much about The Smurfs come the time for the Academy Award nominations to be announced. But, I am still looking forward to taking my daughter to see it at our local theater tomorrow. I've made it safely through two Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, Hop, G-Force and Cats & Dogs 2. I think I'll be fine with The Smurfs. And, besides, my daughter is really excited about it.

So, Wizkids came out with a board game called The Smurfs: No Smurf Left Behind. So, always on the lookout for games to play with my daughter, I picked up The Smurfs. Here's the description of the game:
Smurf for your lives! The Smurfs are trapped in the heart of New York City's Central Park! The only way back home is through a magical Smurf portal that only opens once every Blue Moon. But wait! Gargamel has also found his way to Central Park, and he has ensnared Papa Smurf in one of his nefarious traps. Now it is up to the Smurfs to free Papa Smurf from Gargamel's grasp and find their way to the Smurf portal before Gargamel closes it with one of his magic spells. Will the Smurfs make it out in time or will Gargamel succeed and trap the Smurfs in the human world forever? Play as the Smurfs or Gargamel to find out!
The game come with 6 very nicely done pre-painted miniatures (Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Gutsy Smurf and Gargamel), a fold out game cardboard 12" x 12" game board, 25 movement cards and a rules sheet.

Gameplay is all about the movement cards, and the movement icon printed on each figures base. When you play your movement cards, you may move the characters depicted on the card the designated amount of spaces in any direction allowed by the icon on the corresponding characters base. Papa Smurf begins the game in jail (captured by Gargamel) and you have to get another Smurf character adjacent to Papa Smurf to free him. Then it is a race to one of the blue Portal squares marked "Escape!" When a character reaches a portal it is removed from the board immediately. If all 5 Smurfs escape, the game is over and the Smurfs are victorious.

Meanwhile, the Gargamel player is trying to prevent the Smurfs from escaping by closing the portal with his magic spells. Gargamel doesn't use movement cards. He can move 3 spaces in any direction indicated by the icon on his base. The movement cards do come into play for casting magic spells, however.

It's not a strategically deep game, but then it's not meant to be. It does look to be a fun game to pass the time with my daughter. And that's not a bad thing at all!

Hands on with Hasbro's Battleship Galaxies

I've been looking forward to Hasbro's Battleship Galaxies boardgame for some time now. Like many, I grew up playing the original Battleship game (along with many of it's variants and offshoots) over the years. So when this latest iteration was first announced it immediately caught my attention. The starship combat theme certainly didn't hurt, either!

Last night was my monthly game night with my friend Dan. Dan emailed me the other day asking what I was in the mood to play this month, and mentioned that he had just picked up Battleship Galaxies. Without hesitation I jumped on the opportunity to check the game out first hand!

First thing you notice upon opening the box is that it is just packed full of fabulous components. The board is nice quality cardboard, as opposed to a simple, folded paper map. The starfield artwork featured on the board is very attractive.

There's a bevy of cards used in the game. Some detail the information on each of the starships, while others feature special weapons or heroes that can be attached to certain ships.

The real stars of the game, however, are the 20 ship miniatures. These plastic minis are very detailed and well done, especially for a mass-market game from a company such as Hasbro. The ships fit atop hex bases of one of three sizes: single hex, double hex or the large multi-hex bases used by the capitol ships. The bases feature holes in which blue plugs are placed to represent the ship's shields or red plugs are placed to represent damage sustained. These plugs are one of the places where the game evokes it's Battleship roots.

Last night, Dan played as the Intergalactic Space Navy or ISN (the human good guys) and I had the alien Wretch (full name: Wretcheridians). We clunked our way through the rules, learning as we played. Dan had previous given the rulebook a quick read, and I had just listened to a detailed review of the game on the current episode of the D6 Generation podcast. So, we had a pretty decent grasp of the basics.

We just played through the first scenario from the rulebook which was pretty much a straight up combat encounter between our two forces. It was a good start to give us a taste for the game, and how the mechanics worked. Combat featured another nod to the original Battleship. The game comes with two D8 dice. One die features the numbers 1 through 8, while the other features the letters A - H.To determine whether or not you hit when attacking an enemy vessel you roll the dice coming up with a result something like G-4. The result is then compared to a diagram on the target's corresponding ship card. If G-4 matches up with a part of the diagram representing the ship (marked in grey) it's a hit. If it matches up with a while square on the grid, it's a miss.

Both Dan and I made the newbie mistake of forgetting to read the details on our ship cards or on our special event cards that are drawn on each turn. But, that's part of learning a new game. Most importantly, we had fun.

I definitely recommend Battleship Galaxies if you are looking for a relatively light starship combat game. Honestly, I am still on the fence about picking up a copy for myself, especially now that Dan has it. I'm still looking forward to both the upcoming Star Trek: Fleet Captains game coming from Wizkids as well as A Call to Arms: Star Fleet coming later this year from Mongoose Publishing. Time will tell. But, there is no denying that Battleship Galaxies is a good, solid game.

For more information on Battleship Galaxies check out, or go to Battleship (right now that redirects to Hasbro's general Battleship page, but I expect Galaxies content to be added soon).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spin Master Playing Big at Gen Con 2011

Spin Master is excited to make its debut at this year’s Gen Con with the launch of its exciting new Trading Card Game, Redakai™ as well as featured games from Spin Master Games; Stomple™ and the 50th Anniversary of Stratego™.

Spin Master has a strong history of launching hits. Their balance of innovation and love for classic gaming is a great fit for Gen Con. Seeing children react to Redakai™ is awesome; we are glad to have such strong support in the Family Fun Pavilion,” says Scott Elliot, senior director of sales for Gen Con.

Featured in the Family Fun Pavilion, Spin Master will be hosting a variety of events over the course of convention. The Redakai team will spearhead Learn to Play techniques, Sealed Pack Events, Constructed Events, and a Championship Tournament while The Spin Master Games team will host Adult and Junior Tournaments for both Stratego and Stomple.

Gen Con is extremely important to the game industry,” says Mark Sullivan, EVP of Marketing for Spin Master Ltd. “Supporting the Family Fun Pavilion will be a great opportunity for so many people to learn our new games, Redakai & Stomple as well as play old favorites, such as Stratego. After all, they say it’s The Best Four Days In Gaming.”

Redakai™ is an all-new boys action property, which features fresh new strategic gameplay, amazing Blast3D™ technology and a televised series on Cartoon Network produced by Spin Master Ltd and Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media.

50th Anniversary Stratego™ for half a century, the red and blue armies of Stratego have battled in homes across America. The Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition honors the heritage of Stratego with the original nostalgic theme, an elegant folio package and all the strategy and excitement that have made Stratego a family favorite. Experience exclusive never-before-seen cannon game pieces that allow you to name and destroy your opponents pieces. Enter the epic strategic battle with the 50th Anniversary edition of Stratego!

Stomple™ is a strategic marble stomping game. Outwit your opponents by stomping their marbles before they stomp yours and out maneuver by leading their stomper trapped with no escape. If you outstomp the competition, you win!

Schedule of Events:

Learn to Play
· All new players can stop by the Events area or their Booth in the exhibit hall to learn how to play the game.
Sealed Pack Events
· Any player who buys a structure deck or championship tin product at their booth or events area is eligible to participate for free in one of their many sealed pack events throughout the show
Constructed Events
· They will also have daily constructed events for Redakai experts to bring their custom collection of cards to take on all challengers.
Redakai Championship
· The whole event culminates in their first ever Redakai Championship on Saturday morning
· The winner will be named their first Champion and win an ipad2!
· Other exciting prizes, online coverage of the event and winning players/decks, and appearances by the design team behind Redakai make this an event not to be missed.
League Prizes all con long!
· Everyone who plays in any events in their Events area during Gen Con is eligible to win league exclusive prize cards just for playing!
· Earn stamps for each game you play and get achievement cards as you play more!

· Players win two rounds and they advance to the championship on Sunday (Junior & Adult)
· Winner of Tournament receives – $500 American Express Gift Card, Games Prize Pack and the EXCLUSIVE Stratego 50th Anniversary Edition
· 2nd Place – Exclusive 50th Anniversary Stratego Game & Stomple Game
· 3rd & 4th Place – Exclusive Stratego 50th Anniversary Edition

Daily gaming events culminate into a championship event on Sunday for Stratego

· Each Stomple game is a stand-alone tournament played daily
· Meet and play the inventor of Stomple each day
· Each day in the training room, play the giant game of Stomple every day!

All finalists get a t-shirt for the Stratego and Stomple events

For more information please visit and visit them at The Spin Master Booth #219.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Buckeye Battles V - Warhammer Tournament

Buckeye Battles V was held this weekend on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.

Buckeye Battles, now in it's fifth year, is a good sized Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K tournament event. Things kicked off on Friday morning and are just wrapping up as I type this. Friday was the 40K RTT (Rogue Trader Tournament), while Saturday and Sunday were the Warhammer Fantasy Indy GT (Independent Grand Tournament) events.

I was surprised to see 40K relegated to a one-day tourney, while Fantasy had two days as the general consensus is usually that there are more 40K players than Fantasy players these days.

We had family visiting from out of state this weekend, so desptite OWU being about 10 minutes from our house, I wasn't able to get there until today. I stopped by for a bit this afternoon to check out the action. Being new to the world of Warhammer gaming, and still in the midst of acquiring and assembling my army, I wasn't able to play in the tournament this year. But, I very much wanted to see what it was like.

As I approached the entrance to the Chappelear Drama Center I could hear the buzz of activity coming from within. It grew stradily louder as I made my way through the lobby and into the theater. Upon first glance it looked like there was quite a crowd...

...there was a nice banner bearing the name and address of Hobby Central, which is our friendly local game store here in Delaware. There was some merchandise for sale, as well as a smattering of snack foods, candy bars, etc. I could see tables laden with terrain and various armies from the Warhammer world. All the action was up on the stage of the theater.

As I got closer to the stage I saw the true breadth of Buckeye Battles V! I neglected to count the tables available, but there were a lot and they all seemed full. According to the last update on the website, they said they had 80 registrants and were only going to accept 6 more. I don't know if they got their final 6, but the place was packed. It was a very exciting environment. This is the largest Indy GT in Ohio.

Everyone looked to be having a fantastic time. Seeing the activity going on has really got me excited for Warhammer, and I really want to play in this event next year. That leaves me with a lot of work to do in the interim, but it's also giving me a goal to shoot for. It just looked like a ton of fun, and isn't that was gaming should be about? In fact, fun is a stated goal for the event. Check this out from the website:

We believe in a fun event, where everyone can compete and have a good time. Our banding format and scenarios lend itself to this belief. It’s a great compliment from our players, when they say that they don’t feel burnt out after our event.

Sounds great! It's so cool to have an event like this happening in my own backyard for a change. So, here's to Buckeye Battles VI in summer 2012. And be sure to follow my adventures right here at The Rural Gamer as I get my forces ready for next years event.

If you're a Warhammer player, 40K or Fantasy, in the midwest then you need to do yourself a favor and check out Buckeye Battles for yourself. You can find their website here, and also be sure to check out their Facebook page here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Writing a Game Off Too Soon

I'm a miniatures gamer at heart, and I know that sometimes that causes me to hold certain biases when it comes to new games (and even older games, I suppose). If I game doesn't feature miniatures of some kind it is much more difficult to grab and hold my interest.

Recently, Summoner Wars from Plaid Hat Games broke that cycle for me and got me to look at the card game. And, I'm glad I did!

So, awhile back one of my favorite companies, Wizkids, announced a product called Quarriors. It's essentially a deck building game (a la Dominion, Ascension, et al) but with dice. Here's how Wizkids describes the game on the official site:

A unique blend of strategy and chance featuring a revolutionary dice building game mechanic!

As a Quarrior - a mighty mystical warrior - only you have the power to capture dangerous quarry from the untamed wilds!

But your rivals plot against you! They will send their own Creatures and Spells to destroy your Quarry before you can deliver them to Empress Quiana and claim your reward! Summon your Creatures and protect them from your foes and you will earn Glory for yourself.

The first player to earn enough Glory will be hailed as the Champion of the Empress.

OK. I admit it. I rolled my eyes when I read the press release and, in my mind, I wrote the game off. Wasn't for me.

However, while I was at Origins I was speaking to uber-reviewer and game industry guru Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower. I asked Tom what game stood out for him at Origins and without a moment of hesitation he said, "Quarriors! I love it!"

Really? Quarriors?

Then this past week I was listening to the latest episode of the Game On with Cody and John podcast (episode 67). At one point the guys were talking about games they were looking forward to picking up at Gen Con in August and both said, "Quarriors".

Really? Quarriors?

So, I got to thinking. Was it just my own bias towards having minis in my game that was turning me off from even the basic concept of Quarriors? Quite probably.

While I'm not sold yet, I will check this game out at Gen Con next month. I'll get in a demo or two and see how it plays, and be better informed before I pass judgement. It's all part of being, as Cody and John would say, a well-rounded gamer.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Origins Xtra: Steve Cole of Amarillo Design Bureau

If you are a long-time gamer you have either likely played Star Fleet Battles or, at the very least, heard of it. The game has been around, in one form or another, for over thirty years. There's few wargames that can make that claim.

The Rural Gamer had the opportunity to interview Steve Cole, owner and head desiger of Amarillo Design Bureau about his product lines and his time in the game industry. In a very turbulent industry, Steve is one of the survivors.

TRG: Steve, could you give us some background on how you got into game design, and the beginnings of your company? An origin story, if you will.

Wow, that's a long time ago, and it's going to be a long story. Are you SURE you're interested? Ok, here goes:

Back about 1964, I went to a church party where people were all told to bring a game. A guy my age named Scott Poole brought Avalon Hill's D-Day and went around trying to find someone to play it. Nobody wanted to, until he came to me. I had seen one Avalon Hill wargame in a store once (my parents refused to buy it for me; that was back when kids didn't have money) and D-Day was the second one I had ever seen.

As my father was a reserve military officer who was using me as a practice student for his lectures in Command & General Staff School, I knew what all of those little boxes meant, something no one (including Scott) knew. (The ones with a "hot dog" were tanks; the ones with an "X" were infantry.)

So, I became a wargamer. Scott Poole had a great collection of Avalon Hill Games, and all through high school we met two or three times a month to play them. Very quickly, I started designing my own games, using the basic Avalon Hill rules system. (They had two dozen games that all used about the same rules. Scott and I would pick a game, then sort through other games looking for a combat results table that did not have "attacker eliminated" in the 2-to-1 column.) I just kept designing my own games. (The first game I bought was Anzio in 1972.)

About 1973, I got a letter from a guy (name forgotten) from the back page of the Avalon Hill magazine (the "opponents wanted" ads). We were planning to both go to the same college, so we decided to create a magazine (something dozens of gamers did in those days). Turns out, we never met (he went somewhere else) and he dropped out of the magazine company (JagdPanther) when we lost money on the first issue. I took over as editor and publisher and learned more than I wanted to know about the printing business.

2. Was Star Fleet Battles the first game you published? What year was that?

Star Fleet Battles was not the first game I published, not by a long shot.
I had run that small company (and magazine) called JagdPanther from, as I said, 1973. JagdPanther published several dozen games over four years, including Marine, Airborne, Jacksonville, Anvil-Dragoon, Zeppelin, Siege of Barad-Dur, Rigellian Wars, Crazy Horse, MP44, Cowpens, Paris Commune, World War III Super Variant, March on India, and, well, shucks, I don't even remember them all now. (I'm sure somewhere on Internet there must be some interview I did about JagdPanther when I still remembered everything we did.)

One of the local wargamers (Allen Eldridge) became my business partner in 1975. In November of 1976 we realized that we had created a business model that paid the bills but would never pay us, and decided we wanted to do something else with our time. (Free of the game business, I started looking for a girlfriend and got married shortly thereafter. Leanna and I have spent 34 years together.) Allen and I didn't stay away from the game business for long. By 1978 we were talking about starting a new company, which became Task Force Games. We decided to keep the workload down by doing only pocket games (something Metagaming started) and only selling to wholesalers (not mail orders). We published our first games at Origins 1979, including Star Fleet Battles. By 1983, Allen and I split the company (my design half became Amarillo Design Bureau, his publishing half remained TFG) and by 1999, TFG (three owners later) was dead but ADB continued on.

3. ADB's Star Fleet Universe products are officially licensed by Paramount/CBS Consumer Products. Yet, they're a bit different than other Star Trek products on the market. Could you describe the particulars of your licensing arrangement?

I first designed Star Fleet Battles back in 1975. As the legend goes (and it's true), I was playing Jutland while watching Star Trek reruns in college. We played it (a lot) in the JagdPanther offices. When my partner and I started Task Force in 1979, we dumb lucked into the phone number for Franz Joseph Designs, who gave us a license to print Star Fleet Battles. That was all before the first movie, at a time when Star Trek had been off the air (except as reruns in college towns) for a decade. By the time the movies and The Next Generation showed up, we had already printed dozens of products with a vast amount of newly created material. Paramount contacted us, figured out we were legal, and gave us an "agreement that includes a license" to keep printing the Star Fleet Universe. That contract notes that the Star Fleet Universe (SFU) is "separate" from Trek and that we are not an "official licensee" even if we are completely legal. We have Vulcans but not Spock, and while the Enterprise is on our official ship list, we never use it in fiction or scenarios. We have many new species, but not the ones created in TNG and beyond.

As our "agreement" never expires, unlike companies that get a two-year Trek license, we just keep going on and on while "official licensees" come and go.

4. What is your favorite part of working in the Star Fleet Universe?

All of the great people I have met. That includes Steven Petrick and Jean Sexton, who now work for ADB.

5. Within ADB there are several iterations of the starship combat game (Star Fleet Battles, Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, Klingon Armada, etc). Could you give a brief overview of what makes each of these products unique?

Star Fleet Battles is a starship combat game. Each "unit" is one ship, but battles can handle a dozen ships or so. Federation Commander is a new game on the same scale, starting with a much-simplified set of SFB rules and using some new concepts in some areas. It plays much faster, and is prettier since it's in color. Klingon Armada is part of the Starmada series done by Daniel Kast of Majestic 12 under a joint venture deal. It's designed for larger fleets, with much simpler rules than even Fed Commander, and easily handles 20-ship fleets. Federation & Empire is a strategic game, with thousands of ships on each side and a lot of economics. We also have RPGs for GURPS and PD20M, and a card game (Star Fleet Battle Force), a line of pewter miniatures, and the new Marines game.

6. Why do you think Star Fleet Battles has lasted this long?

I wish I knew. The subject matter must be part of it, but there have been other Trek games before and after SFB, none of which lasted as long, and none of which ever had the kind of player base we have. I must assume that I got the design "right" in regards to what players wanted to play.

7. How has the gaming industry changed in the years since you started Star Fleet Battles?

In more ways than I can count! Back when TFG began, there were 75 or so wholesalers, compared to less than a dozen today. Back then, there were about five real companies and everybody else was a "garage operation" whereas today, there are about 50 real companies with offices and professional printing (and 200 more that just do d20 RPG PDFs). Speaking of that, PDFs (and personal computers) didn't exist when we did our first games, but PDFs are now a big share of our profits.

Another phenomenon is the way the industry has grown. The original wargamers (which I call H. G. Wells Gamers) were middle-aged men with painted soldiers and expensive dioramas. Just before I arrived in gaming, there came hex-and-counter wargames, which expanded the industry tremendously, leaving the original H. G. Wells Gamers (the O.G.s, or Original Gamers) wondering why nobody paid them their proper attention and respect. Then RPGs arrived, quadrupling the size of the industry, but leaving the hex-and-counter gamers wondering why the "wargame industry" was suddenly called the "adventure game industry." Then came cards and clicks, greatly expanding the industry but leaving the previous parts (now much smaller parts of a much larger whole) wondering why nobody was paying attention to "the guys who started this thing."

8. Do you have time to play games from other companies? If so, what do you play?

Rarely. Other than playtesting and rare demos, I haven't played one of our own games in years, and not more than one or two scenarios in 20 years. Oh, wait, I have played our card games some. I probably get to play a game from another company five or ten times per year. We have a copy of Space Hulk that we play whenever we can (about six times so far in two years), and we've played Munchkin every time Jean Sexton comes to visit.

Thinking about this for a minute, I realized that the last three games I actually bought a copy of (over the last 10 years) were Tide of Iron and Memoir 44 (both World War II in Europe land combat games, and in both cases the rules had so little to do with World War II ground combat that I wrote new sets) and Space Hulk (which is, also, a ground infantry combat game).

Now, the one game I do play, a LOT, is an RPG called Die In Place. It's basically a leadership game based on the modern US Army. Steven Petrick and I play it two or three times per week, as we walk the two-kilometer hiking path near the office. It's like playing chess in your head, trying to remember who commands Company B and who is the mortar platoon sergeant. (After each session, we write down what happened. Someday, these campaigns would make great war novels. The first campaign, about Vietnam, went on for two years and ended in a titanic battle of the Tet Offensive.) We spent much of the last year playing a campaign to rid the US of zombies, and this spring we've been playing Battle: Houston as we try to defeat the water-stealing aliens who did amphibious landings at 20 cities around the world (including that movie about Los Angeles). Playing this RPG as we walk takes our minds off how tired we are and how much our feet hurt.

9. ADB has a presence every year at Origins, but not at Gen Con. Why is that?

Well, Jeff, going to a trade show is a major undertaking. It takes almost a month of hard work to get ready for Origins, and takes us out of the office (and away from designing new products) for a week. It also costs about three grand to go to Origins (and a bit more to go to Gen Con) counting booth costs, hotel, truck rental, and so forth. We make enough in sales at Origins to pay for the trip (and then some), but the one time we went to Gen Con (since we became the publisher in 1999), we lost money.

We see 200 of our customers at Origins (that's why we go), but maybe 20 at Gen Con, most of whom were also at Origins. (That seems to be because the two shows are so close together in space and time. The "locals" just go to whichever show we go to, and those who travel do the same.) We go to the shows to talk with customers and show the flag. Having done that very successfully at Origins, there seems no point in spending twice as much time and money for no more results. If we went to both shows, we'd just divide the existing audience into two smaller groups.

All of that said, there is much concern over the rumored plans to move Origins to a date in May (before the school year ends). Many of our players have expressed great concern over the idea, stating that they would be unable to attend Origins at those dates. If that becomes an issue, we may have to move our "presence" to Gen Con, but that would be instead of Origins, not in addition to it.

10. What product is coming up for 2011 that you are most excited about?

Star Fleet Marines, the ground combat system for the Star Fleet Universe. It's a very simple streamlined game. The biggest battles are battalions, with about 40 units on each side. You point to a unit, then to a target, roll the die, look at the chart, and the target is either destroyed, flipped upside down, or unaffected. Units that didn't move (and weren't upside down) then move to better firing positions. (You shoot so that you can move later, and move so that you can shoot later.) The whole rulebook is about 10 pages.

What's exciting for me is that I am a ground combat guy, having spent time in the US Army and the Texas Guard. On a personal level, ground combat at the operational level (a battalion on each side) is where I am most comfortable. It's funny that this is only the second game on this scale I have ever designed, the first being Jagdpanther's MP44, which I described as "squad-level PanzerBlitz." It came out a year or three before Squad Leader, and (if you ask me) was a better game.

Star Fleet Marines is going to be so completely different from Squad Leader that you won't be able to compare them.

I have to mention a runner-up in the "most excited" category, that being STARSHIP ALDO. This is a little 16-page adventure done for GURPS and PD20M which we whipped up for Free RPG Day. It's an "explore the deck plans of a wrecked starship" game, and I tremendously enjoyed created the deck plans, the die roll table for room contents, and the eight characters. (All of the characters are based on real people, six of whom went through the Terrorwerks gun run together at Origins 2010).

11. Where would you like to see ADB, as a company, in the future?

On Mars, publishing games from the Valles Marineris Dome City.

Until that happens, I'd settle for becoming one of the top 10 companies instead of the top 30 or 40. The problem is that retailers fill up most of their store with the top five or ten companies, and the other 40 hardcopy publishers get maybe one or two shelf spots each in 10% of the retailers. Every retailer has the products of my good friends at Steve Jackson Games. My games are as good as theirs, but retailers cannot find me in the crowd of 40 or so "smaller publishers" which is why my company has six employees, not the 30 or 40 it would actually take to do all of the jobs that need doing.

I'm quite proud to run a company that has no debts, writes me a regular paycheck, owns our own office building, and puts out a dozen new products a year, but I'd be a lot more proud if I was selling 10 times as many copies of each game. The only reason I am not selling more copies is that the retailers can't see my tree in the forest.

TRG: Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to share with us. We wish you continued success!

NOTE: This interview was conducted in late April, knowing Steve was going to be very busy shortly thereafter preparing for Origins 2011. In mid-June Amarillo Design Bureau and Mongoose Publishing annouced a joint venture: A Call to Arms: Star Fleet which takes Mongoose's popular starship combat system (previously used for a Babylon 5 setting and currently in the Fading Suns RPG setting) and tailors it for use with the Star Fleet Universe. Mongoose will also be producing all-new CAD-designed resin miniatures for the new system. This is a huge boon for both ADB and Mongoose. It provides greater visibility and retail presence for ADB and gives Mongoose an immensely popular new setting for their ACTA ruleset.