Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GW Board Games

Like everyone else, I've been drooling over the pictures of Space Hulk, but I'm still torn as to whether to get it. The fact that GW's website has been having problems hasn't helped--in fact, it may prevent me from getting it as its problems may allow me time to come to my senses.

The game looks fantastic, and it undoubtedly it would be fun to play...but when do I have the time to play it? As it is, I barely find the time to play 40k. On the other hand, if I have the game, so long as I take care of it, it'll last a lifetime--and I'm sure to find time to play it someday. Speaking of which...

I still have all the floor tiles from the old Space Hulk game (I wonder if they'd be compatible with the new tiles...hmmm). I also have practically everything from Advanced Space Crusade as well.I've played Advanced Space Crusade all of once--the rules were pretty complex, and it just didn't seem as fun as Space Hulk.

The problem these days is that in my old age I'm married with a 6-month-old daughter. Getting to the FLGS is a 20 minute drive. At best I get together with gaming friends maybe once a month--and when I do, we play 40k. These are not the days of college/grad school where practically every weekend I could play 40k, participate in an regular RPG, try out lots of other games etc. But there are times when I get together with friends for an evening, etc--This is an opportunity for board games. Problem is, for the most part, these people aren't really into games like 40k--or rather, one person might be, but their SO is not. A game like Space Hulk is really geared for sci-fi nerds. While the term "sci-fi nerd" might describe many of my friends, it doesn't necessarily describe their wives.

What is needed is a game that bridges the gap--a game that satisfies the sci-fi/fantasy urges of the geeks while being tolerable to the non-geeks. In order to work for a mixed group, what would such a game need?
  • 1. (Painted) Miniatures. A big attraction for people who are normally indifferent to this stuff is the painted miniatures. I can't count the number of times people who I know aren't remotely interested the games nonetheless fawn over the miniatures I've painted, never having seen anything like them before. If the miniatures themselves attract their interest, they may stay interested long enough to play the game.
  • 2. Simple rules. It must be simple enough that anyone can learn to play very quickly. A downside to games like 40k is its complexity. For the geeks, they are so enthralled by the background that they'll put up with the rules complexities long enough to learn them. Someone not already invested in the background will have a shorter attention span. The sooner they are having fun, the better.
  • 3. Cooperative gameplay. Competition can be fun, but it can deter new players. Even if the rules are simple, a player who is new to both the game and the genre will probably feel intimidated, assuming that the uber-geeks playing the game will trounce them because they have so much more experience/knowledge of the game and genre.
  • 4. Quick gameplay. You need to be able to play a complete game in a few hours, even with distractions. It needs to be "light" enough that the game can continue if one person is taken away for a few minutes--getting drinks, using the bathroom, checking on the babysitter, etc.
A game that fulfills many of these requirements is one that I would like to see come back: Warhammer Quest.It had miniatures, simple rules (with potential for more advanced rules), cooperative and quick gameplay. New players even could play the game without realizing that they are (*gasp*) playing an RPG. If described to a skeptical new player that it's a cooperative board game rather than a "dungeon crawl roleplaying game", they may be more amenable to giving it a try. Once they've had fun, then you can break the news of what they were really playing.

Back in the day when Warhammer Quest first came out (1995), I was focused more on 40k and Space Marine (Epic 40k), and less interested in the fantasy side, and board games in general. So I passed on it. But a while back, in looking over some old White Dwarfs of mine, I found myself wishing I had gotten it. With time more at a premium nowadays, I'm wishing it would return. I'm wondering (hoping?) if Space Hulk sells well, that it might spur GW into bringing back some of its other games, if only in limited editions. If Warhammer Quest comes back, I'll be sure to get it this time.


eriochrome said...

I think a point to mention is that as a 2 player game it is hard to fit into a lot of situations. I have a group of high school friends who live about an hour away who get together every couple of months for a board game day but generally they get like 10 people there. Here you need a game that can have at least 4 players at the same time.

This was one of the things that drove me out of the GW games back in the early 90's. We would get together in groups of 4-5 people so need games where everyone could play together so RPG's were the dominate thing with some battletech or renegade legion thrown in.

Tristan said...

I as well have been lamenting the fact I missed out on WHQ. Recently I got a bunch of mini's from a buddy who used to play. Many were one off WHFB character figs. I've decided I'm going to paint them up for WHQ (using round bases so nobody tries to scam them for a fantasy game) and I've even picked up a couple more on the cheap.

Still debating Space Hulk. I plan a flesh tearers army and want all guys without helmets to have the fangs, so the sgt/character guy from Space Hulk could work. Also making a travel space hulk so having the rules would be a benefit (think I sold/lost my old copies).

Gotthammer said...

The tiles are basically the same, but are about 4-5mm thick - so while compatible they will looka bit odd.

WHQ was a good game, but it did suffer that XP wasn't shared, so if one player got left behind it was often a downward spiral. Also at higher levels you may need half a dozen bloodthirsters... Other than that it was great fun and pretty easy to pick up.

Badelaire said...

Although I've not played any of these games (only the main GW games), I'd be definitely interested in giving them a try.

In my mind, although it was much maligned by GW die-hards, the LotR minis game was a good example of what we're talking about here. Darkwing and I could play a game with maybe two dozen figures to a side in a couple of hours, and it wasn't terribly hard to figure out, either. A good rule-smith could probably distill things down to about a page of rules, and one box of plastic figures costs only about $25.

And I'll agree - the older you get and the more time you lose out on for gaming, the more simple games that you can get through in an hour or two become appealing.

Andrath said...

If you go back a few more years before WHQ, Heroquest is the ultimate game you are describing.

I lost my copy in the late 90's, but I found the rules on the internet and used my hobby skills to remake everything I needed to play.

It was a big hit with my friends and even my cooler younger sister loves the game.

I highly recommend it!

Elazar The Glorified said...

Space Crusade (not Advanced) was always better I thought. It was very much just the 40k equivalent of Heroquest and both of those games brought me into this hobby so have a fond place in my heart :) Space Hulk was great and I've pre-ordered this as the new one looks stunning and I can't help myself, I have to own it! :D

closet gamer said...

I actually wrote to GW about this very issue becuase the mass release of board games can only serve to bring more people through the doors and to empty their wallets. One such classic board game was Tyranid Attack which had a never ending element (6 large board tiles, when the first tile was empty it was moved the the last tile to create a longer hive) and it spurred me on to start a Tyranid army. This goes against the GW theory that board games don't bring in as much as another Space Marine codex.
On the issue of backward compatibility, from what a local GW store manager told me yesterday, the new pieces are slightly thinner and will not attach to the older pieces. Bugger.