Source: Cashmoneys Price: £4.79 Where To Get It: Steam
Ah, the ancient board game Hnefatafl. Originally a Scandinavian game of unknown rules (although variants existed in different portions of Europe, especially the Irish and Scottish versions), there was, nonetheless, a version that we now know as Hnefatafl: Tablut, from Lapland. And the general idea is that there is a king, who sits at his table with his men, and… Whoops, turns out this was a pretext by another king to murder him, and he is surrounded on all four sides. Can the king escape, guarded by his men? Or is he fucked?
Well… That’s a common narrative interpretation, anyway. Nonetheless, it’s a competitive board game that is hard. Get hemmed in as the king? Lose. Get captured as the king, lose. (Depending on which rules you use, that requires a simple two capture, or completely surrounding the king) Don’t have enough pieces to capture the king? Lose. King gets to the corner, or edge in some rulesets, and is surrounded by men, so you can’t take him? Lose.
I love Hnefatafl, despite being atrocious at it.
So it’s a bit of a shame that, aesthetically, this isn’t all that strong. The main store image for the game is somewhat misrepresentative, as it isn’t 3D at all. It’s your standard top down deal, ala some chess games, and its UX is clear, but… Eh, it isn’t the greatest, really. There is online multiplayer for the game, so you could very conceivably play a friend (or play them with Steam’s Remote Play function.) It does, however, have most, if not all of the rule variations that exist of the game, so that’s definitely a plus, as is a chess like scoring system for online play, so… Plus?
And that, honestly, is the real choice here, when it comes to Hnefatafl games. If you want the most complete game with most, if not all of the rulesets, this is your choice, £5. If you want something older, with a little more flair, King’s Table, £4. If you want a 3D hnefatafl game with some visual polish, Hnefatafl: Viking Chess, £4. None of them will really go into the deep strategy of it, that’s for you to research… But they all offer different things, and this Hnefatafl game? It offers the variations.
Thud is, by the way, a hnefatafl variant. In case you didn’t know.
It’s been a while since I last looked at Posthuman: Sanctuary, not least because of a moderately long radio silence, but a recent update induced me to look, and I have had the most successful run to date.
…And my god, I wish I hadn’t done that before the update. I killed
over 400 clones of Karl Marx (the Doomsayer faction), presumably
because, being one of the few nonmutated humans in the post
apocalypse, I am the new bourgouisie. Sucks to be me, I guess.
But, close to the end of the run as I am (It’s taken several hours),
I’ve realised I have become the bourgoisie. I have more
backpacks than I know what to do with. Do I drop any of them,
considering I can use just one? NOPE. I’ve thrown away Camo Tents.
Already got one, don’t like the colour of this one. I’m passing out
mutation vaccine and food as if I’m some great philanthropist, while
hoarding the majority to myself. I have good guns, plenty of bullets,
and a steel baseball bat that has become a sight of terror among
mutant and human alike. And I’ve been a meddlesome fucker too.
But I’m tired. So tired. The goal is actually in sight. Except the
last three milestones have been a long way apart, I’ve killed so
many… And I just want to give up. I’ve stopped bothering to learn
new things, or improve myself. I did that long ago.
What I’m getting at here, is that once you’ve gotten a truly
successful run up and running… The challenge sort of fades away,
even with levelups stopping at level 25 or 30. And, as noted, the
further you get, the farther away the milestones get.
The game is best when you’re not successful, is what I’m
trying to say. When you meet the dread bankers of the soul, the
dealmakers. When a big brained mutant is cause for alarm, rather than
“Yup, target practice.”
The devs have, to be fair, added new creatures. New events. A fair
amount of them. And maybe this will improve things in the future.
Because god-damn, the game is pretty, with a cool visual aesthetic, a
nice combat tune, a contemplative event track, and relaxing music in
the overworld. The events are pretty well written, and they vary from
enjoying while predicting the outcome, to… Wait, what? Some of them
are, fair warning, pretty grim. Like the man who burns his wife.
There is no good option in that event. It’s pain and misery. The
option to turn off R Rated events is there, by the way, and this is a
good option to have.
Accessiblity wise, well, it’s turn based, everything is with the
mouse, and everything is pretty clear. The rules, also, are
relatively clear: Move, Forage, Scout, and Camp each have their
function (Moving blindly, trying to get new stuff at the cost of not
moving, seeing ahead two tiles from where you are, and recovering
health and stamina), and each turn, you have the option of paying 1
food per character, or taking the hit that results.
It’s an interesting wasteland, and I recommend checking it out… But it could do with more of a late game.
The Mad Welshman is not proud of his wealth of backpacks, but he states for the record that it was earned.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £5.19 Where To Get It:Steam
Talisman is one of those games that, honestly, shouldn’t really have been made as much as it has. It’s not at Blood Bowl levels of “Oh, that’s just milking it now”, but… When the main thing I can say about Talisman: Origins is that it’s “Talisman: Digital Edition, but single player, and with story”, or “It’s Talisman: Prologue, but more expensive and with story/quests” , I kind of have to throw my hands up a bit.
So, for those who don’t know Talisman, it’s an old Games Workshop
board game, with elements reminiscent of Warhammer Fantasy (Eagle
Lords, grim cities, dark magical artefacts), but its own, High
fantasy world. You travel around the board, looking to reach the
Crown of Power, the tile in the middle of the board, strengthening
yourself, weakening others, occasionally running into trouble, and,
because it’s not a game that really does progression
(normally), every so often running into a string of unwinnable
situations, swearing, and mentally flipping a table. It had a number
of expansions, each one alone with interesting twists and scenarios,
but, all together? A recipe for minutiae, and backstabbing, and many,
many dice rolls.
I tried Talisman: Digital once with all the expansions. That was…
An experience. See, the digital editions of the game have, with even
one AI player, a certain amount of waiting for them to decide what to
do. Even without, there’s dice rolling, waiting for animations, noise
cues… It wants to be as clear as possible, but no, you do not get
any option to skip said animations and cues and things that slow it
down. It is, generally speaking, a game you play with friends,
understanding friends who won’t get angry at you when its old school,
adversarial play gets the better of them, and where conversation
definitely helps it go smoother.
As such, you can maybe imagine my confusion. And this is as someone
who likes hotseat 4X games and board game adaptations where yes, you
can play by yourself. Talisman’s lore is… Not particularly
deep (It is, essentially, a “chase’n’race” board-game with
fantasy trappings and a lot of randomness), and adding lore
doesn’t really make any of its shenanigans make more sense. And this,
essentially, is where I find myself: Trying to work out where the
audience lies here.
Does it really appeal to the folks who already have Talisman: Digital
Edition? There’s nothing new animation wise, I’m pretty sure
there’s not much new card-wise, and, as I’ve alluded to, Talisman’s
expansions are… A lot. Does it, then, appeal to somebody new to
Talisman? I’d argue no, because the lore is mostly unreferenced
outside of this game (Apart, obviously, from the Crown of Power), and
its first tutorial alone took me about half an hour (And not, it must
be said, a terribly exciting half an hour.) It does, somewhat,
prepare players for the PvP core of the game with AI characters,
but… The same experience could be had hotseat. What it adds are
lore, quests, and challenges, and… Honestly, that’s not the biggest
So, overall, Talisman: Origins just… Leaves me confused. With other games, I can clearly point and go “Ah, here’s this interesting core” or “Ah, I can see where this is appealing to X”, and, with this… If there were no DLC for the thing planned, I’d say “This is a cheaper alternative to the main Talisman, as the DLC for that comes to around ninety quid”, but I’m not certain about that, considering how even Talisman: The Horus Heresy (It’s 40K themed, less visually readable cousin) has about 9 DLC. The biggest draw of Talisman has always been the social aspect to it, and so… All the “for” arguments I can think of are rather weak.
The Mad Welshman doesn’t enjoy being confused. It is his least favourite status effect outside of “Hangry-Thirsty.”
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £17.99 Where To Get It:Steam
Warhammer Quest has always been an odd one, for me, even among the many, many adaptations and games Games Workshop has put out over the years. A series they supported fairly well (From its earliest days as Hero Quest, to Advanced Hero Quest, to Warhammer Quest), it showed an aspect of the setting you’d think they’d have dealt more with, outside of some of the fiction, the groggy Fantasy Roleplay, and… I suppose Talisman counts: Adventurers.
I mean, you’d think Games Workshop would understand the appeal. But
despite a fair amount of support, Warhammer Quest is one of the
lesser lights of the studio. And the times it’s been adapted, it’s
been relatively faithful.
Funnily enough, this is another one of those times where that’s
precisely the problem. Because Warhammer Quest is a game that
loves its random encounter tables. More specifically, hot damn
it loves it ambushes. To the point where, very early in the game
(approximately the fourth story mission), I was travelling from the
dungeon to a town, got ambushed by around 12 Beastmen along the way,
killed a few, and… Then got the text that presaged the ambush
getting more ambushy with 5 more Beastmen. Considering one of my two
heroes allowed for the ambush was downed the round before this
happened, I noped the hell out. INJURY: Thankfully no permanent
Yes, if one of your characters gets downed during a quest, there is a
chance they will get injured, although this can be repaired by…
Levelling up. Healing items are relatively rare, and take time to
use. Taking time means more turns for the dreaded AMBUSH. More turns
for ranged enemies to plink away at you. And meanwhile, a lot
of things are beyond your price range, from better heroes, to better
equipment. It does get sort of easier by the end of the first
act, but characters will get downed, and the game seems to
take glee in arranging this. Yes, I know, games don’t have feelings.
But that is the feeling I ascribe to it. It does help that often,
side quests have vastly better rewards than main quests, but that…
Doesn’t exactly help, considering the main quests are what you’re
incentivised to do…
Still, you may note a 2 there, and while Warhammer Quest 2 inherits
some of the problems of its predecessor (The aforementioned Ambush
fetish, level design which means you’re often choosing between party
cohesion before the next door, and the chance of MORE AMBUSH,
expensive gear that makes the early game feel a lot more punishing,
partly perhaps from its mobile, microtransactiony roots, mostly from
the random tables Warhammer Quest was well known for), it would be
disingenuous to say that there hasn’t been improvement and change.
For example, while there are still some control frustrations
(occasionally clicking a space instead of ending your turn, having to
remember that the game thinks you’re looking at an enemy instead of
shooting it again if you’ve shot it with a ranged attack, then don’t
mouse away before clicking again), the UI is a little more clear, and
a little more visually interesting… Although the Town UI has taken
a slight dip from “Functional” to “Stylistic, but less
functional.” Camera movement is a definite improvement, although
walls obstinately refuse to get out of the way, meaning that you’re
mostly going to be looking downward anyway, and, setting wise,
putting the game in Warhammer’s End Times period (When Archaon, Chaos
Lord, royally screws things up) helps explain why such very
disparate adventurers are banding together. A Dark Elf Witch of
Naggaroth, one of your first two characters, is, at any other time,
perhaps the worst choice of travelling companion. Once it gets
going (about halfway through Act 1), it does feel easier, and,
as a result, your group feels more powerful, but ambushes remain at
best an irritation or delay, and, at worst, a very unwelcome addition
to an already dangerous fight. Finally, not every town has every
facility, and this starts being felt once you have to deal with long
travels (and thus, random events) every time you want to level
someone up, but a town doesn’t have the right facilities.
Model wise, some are better than others (It does seem women get the
shorter end of the stick, both in terms of how many women characters
there are, and the relative quality of models), but all are at least
okay, with the caveat that customisation choices are very limited,
and only the first weapon equipped seems to affect visible
representation (Armour does vis-rep.) The music’s alright, with some
tense violin led numbers, and other, dramatic choral pieces, and the
world’s stylisation does give it more character than the previous
outing, looking somewhat like a tabletop map, complete with layered
bits of terrain.
In the end, while Warhammer Quest 2 gets friendlier a little quicker than its predecessor, enjoyment very much depends on how well you deal with the dominance of the random encounter elements of the game. It’s definitely an improvement, and I can see myself playing it in short stints, but, sooner or later, an annoying ambush happens, or the game drops poor plot rewards once too often, and I peace out.
It is the End Times of the Warhammer universe. Brother fights against brother, the vile publishers seek to bleed the Empire dry. In this dark fantasy world, there is only… Game Reviews.
Scythe is one of those games where, for all that it added in the three all too brief months since I last looked at it, I can’t really recommend it without qualifications. Specifically, that it is definitely still better with friends, multiplayer or no… And that the Rusviet faction still causes colour issues, at two of the three distances you would normally look at them (Essentially, only up close are the workers easily visible.) Small text remains small, small icons remain small. Still some accessibility issues.
Spot the Rusviet Workers (DISCLAIMER: Difficulty *still* determined by colour blindness type)
Knowing this, let’s do a brief recap. Scythe is a boardgame set in an alternate history where a strange factory is at the core of a landgrab power struggle between six russian themed factions, where, unless you have the option to turn score previews off, you’re wondering whether ending the game is really a good idea, because there are multiple factors at play that mean the person to end the game (Getting six stars for various objectives)… May not actually be the winner.
Maybe one player has courted Popularity so well that their score multiplier takes them to first place. Maybe their winning several fights has boosted them slightly beyond you. It adapts its boardgame style very well visually, the card art is gorgeous, the music is great, and it now has both multiplayer and an extra reason to keep playing (some extra cards for play are now locked behind completing objectives in games.)
But none of this, unfortunately, gets around the fact that it still has those accessibility issues. Its addition of multiplayer was definitely a step forward, but it’s the only complaint of mine about it that was really addressed. And, as such, while it is an interesting game, I can’t really give a whole hearted recommendation. Nor, because it still has its interest, and definite fun from the diplomacy, and uncertainty that comes from playing with others, can I thumb it down.
There is, perhaps, a minor assumption here. An *understandable* assumption… But an assumption nonetheless…
The Mad Welshman is slightly amused it’s taken 3 years to get to the point where he hasn’t much to add on release.