Top Ten FFG Games - PART TWO

Top Ten FFG Games - PART TWO Hot

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Egg ShenEgg Shen   May 31, 2016  
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Fantasy Flight

Welcome back.  This is part two of my "Ode to FFG".  In this week's episode we will be looking exclusively at games that the company brought back from the dead.  For a bunch of nerdy guys in Minnesota, their Necromancy skills are quite high.  Yes, FFG really started making a name for themselves by bringing many beloved games back to the market.  Some were really terrific.  They were games that made you weep a little because you never thought you'd get your hands on them.  Others were a little less well received.  Hey they can't all be winners! 

Just to be clear, this list will only cover FFG's reprint and workings of other company's games.  This list won't cover games made by other companies that FFG simply distributed.  With that little caveat out of the way... onward and upwards we go! 

10. Nexus Ops (Charlie Catino, Steven Kimball) – Alright, a bunch of you can grab your pitchforks early because this one is going to be SLIGHTLY controversial. You see FFG ported the game over properly and left the rules perfectly intact, where they pissed off unscrupulous gamers was with the presentation. Their version of the game featured muddy tiles and lost the cool candy colored glow in the dark minis from the Avalon Hill version. To that I say, "So what?". It's not like any of you ACTUALLY play Nexus Ops under a freakin' black light. AND at the end of the day, Nexus Ops is still the king of the DoaM genre. It's brutal , dirty, and fast. The game is like a bar fight where you just need to keep your head on a swivel and size up who you need to punch in the face. Except instead doling out uppercuts to drunkards you're melting Fungoids with Rubium Dragons! This game was damn near impossible to find for a reasonable price and FFG came in and delivered the goods. Sure the the end result looked like a guy who was wearing a suit crafted by a blind, lunatic, fashion designer. However, underneath that seizure inducing suit made of old slippers and faux raccoon hides is the most charming gentleman at the ball. Guess what? Stupid looking suit aside, he's still probably going to get the phone number of the chick you were interested in.  You know why? Because Nexus Ops rules.

9. Arkham Horror (Richard Launis, Kevin Wilson) – Way back before it was cool to namedrop H.P. Lovecraft, FFG was ahead of the trends with this big box revival of a little known 80s game with the same name. FFG's drastic re-imagining of AH has a reputation for being difficult, unwieldy, long, and hard to learn. For those not put off by its seemingly wormy, obtuse, and puzzle-box design are in for a horrific adventure. The game is considered by many to be one of the ultimate adventure games with its strong penchant for memorable, narrative, moments. Players grow attached to their characters and love to see where their actions take them in this hideous and grotesque town. If/When they die it's like a tiny, Siamese twin has been excised from your hip. You feel it. Other times your character turns out to be a useless twat and feels more like a benign goiter that you want lopped off your neck by a Gug as soon as possible. You never know what to expect when you set up a game of AH. It's a box of abhorrent wonders, that CAPTIVATES players even in 2016. 

8. Battlelore Second Edition (Richard Borg) – For YEARS the acquisition of Battlelore was one of FFG biggest blunders. They essentially purchased a game that was un-printable. Finally, out of the blue, the clouds parted and down came Battlelore Second Edition. Yes, they re-themed it to the wonderfully boring world of Terrinoth. Yes, they removed the historical stuff. Yes, it came with less stuff in the box. DESPITE all of that, the game became the proverbial Phoenix of legend. It not only rose from the ashes, but it has flourished to become one of the best two player, light war games on the market. This game has a hold on me like few others. I would play it all the time if I could. The new lore cards are faction specific and feel great. As the humans you feel like you've got planning, strategy, cunning and tactics at your side. As the Uthuk-whatevers, you're just dicks. They play like a bully on the playground that isn't above spitting, scratching and kicking someone in the nards. Pushing your units forward until one side is vanquished is really all you do in Battlelore. Sure there are tactics to try and sneaky lore cards to attempt. You're still chucking handfuls of dice and hoping to lop of your opponents head or shoot them in the retina with an arrow. I hope people have taken noticed because this is version of Battlelore that should have always been. They say that Memoir '44 makes grown men remember a time when they played with army men figures in their sandbox. Battlelore brings me back to the era of mass market classics like Battle Masters and Crossbows and Catapults. It's a visceral and bloody good time.

7. Android Netrunner (Richard Garfield, Kevin Wilson) – With Netrunner, FFG essentially got the rights to reprint crack to nerds. Besides Magic the Gathering, there are few CCGs that can make the masses perk up on high alert like a mob of slack-jawed meerkats. Netrunner is apparently one of them. This reprint was SO popular that it damn near became a phenomenon. For those people that have the time, money, and commitment to invest in Netrunner they must be in a euphoric state of gaming bliss. I'm not as well versed in this game as the others on this list, but the few times I've played it I was IMPRESSED. If I had the time for a lifestyle game like this I would spend an unhealthy amount of my life at local tourneys and game stores. Any game that can be THAT habit forming and bad for you MUST be amazing.

6. DungeonQuest (Jakob Bonds) – This is a game that almost didn't make the list because the first FFG reprint attempt was akin to walking in on your significant other tenderly smooching another person's left bum cheek. It was awkward, confounding, and pissed you off. Thankfully, we all dumped that cheating scumbag and fell in love with the Revised Edition of DungeonQuest. For those living in an actual dungeon, DungeonQuest is like an analog version of Don Bluth's classic videogame - Dragon's Lair. Much like that videogame, death is waiting for you around every corner, and in every monster battle. Also like Dragon's Lair, DungeonQuest is a divisive experience. I use this laughably hard dungeon crawler as my litmus test for folks I want to game with. If they get cut down by a swinging blade trap two turns in and get their panties all twisted... I'm pretty sure our gaming chackras don't match up. If they laugh, giggle, and want to experience it again, then I'm pretty sure I've found a cherished gamer and possibly a lifelong friend. Oh yeah, toss a score pad in the box. You'll want to record highscores to encourage maximum recklessness. If someone exits with a few coins and gets excited because they "won" kick them out of your house.

5. Talisman (John Goodenough, Robert Harris) – I have a hard time being objective when it comes to Talisman. It's a game that I adore. Oddly enough, I never played this when I was young. No, it wasn't until FFG put out the Revised 4th Edition that I discovered this sexy game. It was like walking into a bar full of available women and your heart gets stolen by a slightly older lady who checked off pretty much everything you've ever wanted in fantasy... um fantasy adventure that is. Wait, this is getting weird. OK, Talisman has antiquated design choices. It's roll and move. New players will have trouble getting past its seemingly cruel nature. Still there is NOTHING quite like it. The game hides decisions and depth that only become apparent after you've completely dived in. Intimate knowledge of the adventure deck, board locations, spells, and unique characters are paramount to getting good at the game. Yes, you can be struck down by dumb luck, but you can also weigh the risks vs rewards to get ahead while others blindly "roll and move". There is a reason why this game constantly gets expansion content and faithfully remains in print while several other FFG Fantasy Adventures died off. It withstands the test of time with easy to grasp gameplay, hidden depth, and game after game of memorable adventuring. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Talisman will outlive us all. In the year 2084 people will have no clue what the hell "Level 7: Omega Protocol" or "Glen More" are, but they will probably be enjoying Talisman 7th edition.

4. Merchant of Venus (Richard Hamblen) – Games that have you flying around in space ships and exploring galaxies are like catnip to me. I turn into a frenzied goober who loses his mind with excitement. Merchant of Venus is all about hopping into a space ship and discovering a galaxy. Along the way you meet crazy alien races and you sell them useless crap and SPACE COCAINE. It's essentially a pick up and delivery game with a sci-fi veneer and I'm totally OK with that. There is just something curiously addictive about racing around trying to find trade routes that are insanely profitable in a far off quadrant of space. Not to mention that FFG actually released components and rules for a completely different way to play. The new rules are more akin to something like Firefly and purist seem to hate them. I love the variety and the adventure aspects it adds. It makes you feel like you're playing Space Balls: The Board Game or something. Not a game that follows the actual plot of Space Balls. No, instead try to imagine a game where you're a down on your luck huckster flying in a spaceship Winnebago. You have runs in with shady aliens and take on awful jobs to earn a quick buck. If you've never given the New Rules a shot and you like Firefly or Xia... give em a once over and play FFG's secret design - "Lone Starr and Barf's Intergalactic Space Simulator: The Boardgame".

3. Wiz-War (Tom Jolly, Kevin Wilson) – Wiz-War is one of the most absurd, funny, chaotic, and ridiculous games ever made. Have you ever seen the Disney film, "The Sword and the Stone"? How about, "The Raven" with Vincent Price? Both of those films end with bizarre and awesome wizard duels. Since I was a child I've always longed for a game that would let you recreate that over the top showcase of wizardry. Sure there is Magic The Gathering, but it's too abstracted and serious. Wiz-War is the closest any game has come to letting me recreate this fantasy. Your hand of cards are literally fistfuls of magic for you to use in whatever creative way you can think of. You can morph into creatures, cast fireballs, stab people with knifes, or just straight up punch them in the face. The experience is unlike anything else and it really does feel like a demented wizards duel. FFG knocked this reprint out of the park with excellent cartoony artwork, cool components, and the ability to play the game as it was originally designed. This is easily one of their best reprints.

2. Fury of Dracula (Stephan Hand, Frank Brooks, Kevin Wilson) – FFG has taken many old Games Workshop properties and made them their own. None of them have been as impressive as Fury of Dracula. Hell, they've done it twice now. In its most recent edition the game is arguably at its sleekest and most playable. Gone are the silly fighting rules from the Second Edition as well as any other fat/bloat. FoD is the DEFINITIVE hidden movement game. The Gothic horror atmosphere, coupled with flourishes of the Bram Stoker novel make this one of the classier games in FFG's repertoire. Both of their editions have stunning, beautiful maps that just look spectacular on your table. The actual game is one of highs and lows. There are turns with elevated heartbeats and frantic hunter tactics, mixed in with quiet lulls as Dracula slips away in the night. It's great and a lovely way to spend an evening with friends. Pour some wine, dim the lights, put on the soundtrack to Horror of Dracula, and get ready to hunt down that dreaded vampiric fiend!

1. Cosmic Encounter (Bill Eberle, Jack Kitteridge, Bill Norton, Peter Olatka, Kevin Wilson) – It couldn't be anything other than Cosmic. Ever since FFG got their grubby mitts on this golden goose they've been making sure it stays happy and healthy. This is the definitive version of this heralded game. FFG has implemented the best rules from the past thirty years and made damn sure to only release fun content. It's also one of the easiest games to keep up with expansion wise, because it only gets a small box expansion every few years. The potential combination of playable aliens is literally absurd. You could play the game 1000 times and probably never have the same rogue's gallery of aliens at the table. For anyone living under a rock who doesn't know about this game... here's what's up. Imagine walking up to a smoke covered table in the Cantina on Mos Eisley. You see 6 bizarre alien races engaged in some sort of odd game. At a glance it appears to be a game about combat and war. However, you quickly realize that the whole thing is closer to poker. Each alien at the table can break the rules of the game, and needs to figure out how abuse that special power with the hand of cards they've been dealt. There is bluffing, negotiating, backstabbing, and lots and lots of swearing. It's like watching lighting crackle inside of a bottle - controlled chaos. The design is a thing of beauty and there is nothing quite like it. In 2016 it's less of a big deal for FFG since they're more about Star Wars and LCGs. That still doesn't lessen the impact or importance of what it means to have this title wedged in their library of games. Cosmic Encounter is so good, that I could literally sell every other game in my collection and only play this for the rest of my days. And I would die happy. 

Posted: 31 May 2016 11:18 by Josh Look #228395
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Spot on if your not including the "Euro Classics" line. Probably for the best for variety's sake since it would have been a guaranteed three slots for Knizia games.
Posted: 31 May 2016 11:34 by Michael Barnes #228396
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Heh, yeah. Tigris & Euphrates, Samurai, Ra (coming soon)...not to mention Kingdoms (Auf Heller und Pfennig), Through the Desert, both LOTR and LOTR: The Confrontation (originally Kosmos/Hasbro), Blue Moon (originally Kosmos), Loco (Flinke Plinke/Quandary)...

FFG's power as a reprint house is titanic. No other publisher in the history of hobby games has been the home of so many iconic, timeless games. They have made many, many missteps over the years but curating a portfolio of some of the world's best and most important designs is one of the best things Mr. Petersen and company have done. I think they have finally sorted out that despite the successes of Arkham Horror and Fury of Dracula, which both had major redevelopment work, it's best to leave these games alone. DungeonQuest revised edition and the inclusion of the full, original Merchant of Venus is testament to that. As is the failure of Rex and Gearworld.

Despite mangling two Eon games, Cosmic Encounter is probably the best reprint of all time. They did right by it, and I think Kevin Wilson's guidance really updated the game for a new generation. They kept everything as it should be, and then managed to add new material that was totally in the spirit of the original design. Talisman is right up there too, they completely picked up where GW left off and took the game into completely new spaces. Maybe too many. Wiz-War is just as good as those, really, but with more limited expansions.

Arkham Horror really may as well be a new game. I still haven't played 3rd edition Fury of Dracula.
Posted: 31 May 2016 11:42 by Josh Look #228398
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Looking the list over again, Battlelore 2nd edition is really great. I liked Battles of Westeros well enough, but I've liked the the rest of the C&C games on paper more than I have in execution. Battlelore 2nd edition got everything just right and managed to get setup time down by quite a bit. Only a matter of time before I finally cave on getting my own copy.
Posted: 31 May 2016 12:18 by Da Bid Dabid #228399
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Both articles were good Egg, really enjoy your contributions to the site.

That being said the best thing I ever did was trade Cosmic away, because it brought me Spartacus... maybe someday I'll give it another shot. I have actually not played quite a few of the mentioned games but it got me pondering the ones I do own or have played. After thinking about it and just ranking the games with FFG on the box without knowing adhering to your restrictions, this would be my combined list.

10. BB: TM
9. BSG
8. X- Wing
7. Starcraft
6. Runewars
5. Fury of Dracula
4. Akrham Horror
3. Android: Netrunner
2. Chaos in the Old World
1. Twilight Imperium 3rd

I have some more thoughts to add after my kids stop freakin' out.
Posted: 31 May 2016 14:43 by Mr. White #228416
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Awesome, Egg.

I think you can probably even do a third top ten with all those games that FFG have been the distributor for. Heck, you could probably squeeze a top ten licensed games as well and look at all those GoT, LotR, WFB, 40k, SW, etc games against each other.

As much as FFG has done well, there's also been a ton of clunkers. Add a top ten worst list to the fire...

Anyway, my thoughts on these ten.

10. Nexus Ops - I like this game a lot and part of the reason is the charm of those day-glow pieces and early 80s arcade cabinet art. I haven't played this new version, and not sure how much I would enjoy it knowing that kitschy other version is out there.

9. Arkham Horror - Played twice. Seemed long and fiddly. I wished I were playing Call of Cthulhu instead. A case where an RPG is easier to get going than a boardgame?

8. Battle Lore - After playing Manoeuvre, I got out of the C&C titles. Sold off M'44 and Ancients. Manoeuvre at least lets me move units if I don't have their card. Units just standing around in C&C and not ever able to do anything (without cards) feels lame.

7. Android Netrunner - Never played, but have recently gone back and forth on buying it. Been curious how fun it would be to play with my son and just focus on the base game and a few expansions. I don't want to detour his Pokemon love and fear only base cards would get old. Even if not, knowing there's a ton of new cards out there would make staying at only the base game hard to do. I don't want that psychological fight right now.

6. DungeonQuest - Still haven't played any of the new versions. I understand there still isn't the pre-battle option of waiting or fighting, so not totally sure if it's a straight up reprint of the original. Plus, no Phyll Madaxe or Azoth the Faceless...no sale!

5. Talisman - I actually think this is their crowing jewel in reprints. The changes they've made have been for the better and they've provided more obtions than ever. Sure, some aren't all hits, but I don't think the quality has dropped off as far as the later GW expansions did. Job well done here!

4. Merchant of Venus - I'm actually surprised this has placed so high. Are a lot of folks still playing this one? Seems like Firefly, Merchant & Marauders, or that Xia game have been preferred around here.

3. Wiz-War - Haven't played this edition either. Big fan of the original. Has 'Thumb of God' made an appearance yet?

2. Fury of Dracula - I haven't played the new edition, but did the one before this (from '05 or '06) I felt about that version the same way I did the FFG Warrior Knights. They added too many procedures to what was a cleaner game. Pass.

1. Cosmic Encounter - I've found my enjoyment of this game depends on the players and not a consistent good time. For this sort of Euro I prefer Citadels by a long shot.

Honorable mention to Chaos Marauders...outside of the art, a better package than the original.
Posted: 31 May 2016 14:51 by Egg Shen #228418
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Yeah I'm not sure why I overlooked the Euro classic line of games. Maybe because they were just straight reprints of games that have been sorta in print over the past dozen years or so. I felt like the games that really resonated with me were the crazy-hard grail games that they carefully brought back. For me getting a kick ass version of DungeonQuest was something I never imagined happening. Still, you have to commend the hell out of FFG for the job they're doing with that Classic Euros line.

I will say that coming up with this list was WAY, WAY easier than the original design top ten. I feel like from 6-1 those are all must include games to mention. From 10-7 you could probably make some changes. I'm sure a few folks would have loved to have seen Warrior Knights on there or Fortress America.

Another thing that stands out is that while the first list was dominated by Corey K, this one has Kevin Wilson all over it. I'm not a huge fan of his original designs, but the man does have a careful eye for resurrecting older games. I don't exactly remember when he left the company, but I wonder if there is some correlation between the quality of FFG's re-workings and his leaving the company? Was he there for REX? Not sure. It's interesting to see how he is no longer a household name after just a few short years away from FFG. Back in the mid 2000s he was on fire with successful reprints. I don't think I can name a single design he has done since leaving except for X-Files. Maybe the new TMNT game will be a return to glory for him.

Edit

@ Mr. White - The reason that Merchant of Venus is so high on the list is because it's such an incredible reprint. It's two great games from the price of one! They did a really great job with the classic game (though I've heard some folks still prefer the AH version), but the new rules are a trip! I think San Il Defonso is the only person I've ever seen that likes them. Two great games in one box. I think most people tend to sleep on this game. I like that it isn't a super serious sci-fi space game. It has character and soul. My gut is that it will soon be put out to pasture by FFG.

Also good call on Chaos Marauders. I love that little game. Lots of fun in that box.

I think I'm done with FFG lists for now, but I might do another one this time next year. At this point I figure you're all sick of talking about FFG games lol. Maybe not.
Posted: 31 May 2016 16:02 by Mr. White #228420
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i don't know about being sick of talking about them. I mean, their catalog is so broad we could discuss their euro line, the Rakham titles (remember those?), Dust titles, Mutant Chronicles, FFG's RPGs, top coffin games, etc.

I may have issue with FFG, but they do make up the bulk of the board/card games I have left and they have given the hobby much over the years.

Plenty to still talk about and I hate to see them absorbed into Asmodee...
Posted: 31 May 2016 16:30 by Egg Shen #228422
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Yeah they certainly have a HUGE catalog that can be discussed. Is there anyone else out there who really enjoys most of the Dust titles that FFG produced? The Adventurers Games, City of Thieves, Deadwood, and Arcana. Hell, I even mildly enjoy that oddball DoaM game where you use Da Vinvi-esque war machines - Magnifico.

Bruno Faidutti has some FFG stuff that seems to go pretty much unnoticed. Mission: Red Planet (almost made the reprint list) is one of his best games, Ad Astra is a really enjoyable Euro, Red November never seems to get much love, and Letter of Marque was a fun bluffing micro-game before those were even a thing.

The games that really get lost in the shuffle are many of FFG's own original creations like Battlemist, earlier editions of Twilight Imperium, Diskwars. Most have been eclipsed by newer editions with fancier coats of paint and refined rulesets. Then they had a slew of smaller games that never really made much of an impact like Orcz, Wreckage, Mutiny, Quicksand etc... They certainly have one of the most diverse portfolios in all of gaming.
Posted: 31 May 2016 18:16 by wadenels #228425
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I have a blacklight solely for playing Nexus Ops!
Posted: 31 May 2016 20:12 by Da Bid Dabid #228432
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White hit on what I wanted to touch on a few posts back. I find it more interesting to discuss FFGs failures more than their successes, being a fan of their style of design overall and knowing that many of my favorite games of all time come from them, seeing how they evolve (or regress) from title to title is pretty entertaining.

Although its already been mentioned I don't think anyone can sell short the importance of artwork toward the "feel" of all games, and a particular change in a design esthetic if not done right can really hurt a reprint. You take a half played game of DQ using the original Swedish version, the GW one, and the FFG one and I promise that for many folks the look alone WILL be the difference if they are willing to play or play more than once. Rex's map looks HORRID when compared to the surface of Dune, let me feel like I'm taking a planet for god's sake. Playing board games is done in a physical space and that makes these things matter more than in video games, it solidifies the actions you are making. Kinda like a pinball machine where great artwork and fun toy factor can push a good game to an all time great. Medieval Madness would still be a fantastic table design without that great castle in the middle, but I bet it wouldn't be so many people's number one game and would feel a lot less fun.

Enough rambling and a few snippets of why some of their stuff doesn't work for me.

DungeonQuest - Artwork WAY less fun and too serious. Give me coffin shaped decks, old school vibe, and most importantly SNOTLINGS. Making checks easier overtime goes completely against the spirit of the game which alone is enough to condemn the effort, get that 2D6 shit out of here. I do like their resolution of the catacombs.... but Revised Edition or not do yourself a favor and find a GW version.

Rex - Even though I love TI, I love Dune more. I've never played Rex and almost assuredly never will. It might even be a decent game, but there is no game and I dare say there may never be a game that so nails asymmetrical player powers while tying in with the source material in such a satisfying way. I personally think its the finest designed game of all time so any change really had no chance of doing anything but detracting.

Tigris and Euphrates - One of my favorite games ever getting reprinted? *Looks at the pieces and artwork* Nope. Too much attachment to old art and look I guess. This is how I imagine a lot of you feel about Nexus Ops.

Android - One of those failed games that is so interesting but not sure if its really fun. I haven't really played it enough, but just enough is off to likely not change that fact. Its tough to get rid of it though because you want it to be better, very experimental stuff.

Wiz War - This is another one where I think they did a good job, I'm just kinda meh on the game. There's other stuff I'd rather play with 4.

Cosmic Encounter - I'm just not a fan, on paper I should love it but it falls flat. I don't really have any major gripes, maybe wishing attack wasn't determined randomly, so I think its just not for me. Sure the right group would make it fun, but that is true of literally anything.

I kinda wish I had been into some of FFG's earlier stuff, but it doesn't seem to get the love that the early GW stuff gets (and deserves) so maybe I don't need to check any of it out. I did own Wreckage however and that inspiration to X-Wing thing is garbage.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 01:26 by Colorcrayons #228448
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I think this list is pretty spot on. I have no experience with the new fury of dracula and thus would place wizwar at #2.

But my eagerness to agree with this entire list reinforces my belief that, by and large, they make better reprints than they do in house designs. Nothing wrong with that. Reprints are their main bread and butter with ridiculous amounts of arkham horror sold.

And also, nexus ops is just fine, ....IF you can ignore or get used to the tiles. They really were an egregious design error on the art directors part.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 10:17 by Shellhead #228456
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My combined and unsentimental top ten FFG list:

1. Arkham Horror: With all the expansions in the mix, AH has nearly infinite replay value. The illusion of a cohesive narrative is enjoyable, and the components do a great job of conveying the distinctive setting. Although the ideal number of players is probably four or five, it can scale just fine up to nine. Scaling below three players doesn't really work, unless using extra characters.

2. Space Hulk: Death Angel: The base set is an incredible value, and most of the expansions add exponentially to the replay value. Every game is tense and exciting. The Deathwing expansion offers a great challenge because half the special characters are weak and there is less overall synergy with the special abilities.

3. Fury of Dracula (2nd ed.): I loved to play Hide and Seek as a kid, and FoD scratches a similar itch. The deduction element is engaging, though the combat system is a bit frustrating. I haven't tried third edition, and won't even consider buying it without playing first, because second edition is one of my favorite games.

4. Cosmic Encounter: I was a huge fan of Shadowfist, and also Magic for the first couple of years. I can totally see how those games were inspired and informed by Cosmic Encounter, which is a more accessible game because of the absence of deckbuilding. FFG did a great job on their edition, by anticipating and avoiding so many potential rules conflicts that plagued the previous editions. My only complaint is that it's possible for a game of CE to end before everybody has had at least one turn.

5. Battlestar Galactica: The base set really nails both the theme and setting of the show, and offers a great narrative arc. Unfortunately there is a scaling problem that is clumsily patched. I haven't tried most of the expansion material, but the expansions seem to be a grab bag of optional rules of variable quality.

6. Android: I remain very impressed by the bold experimental mechanics in Android. Both the setting and theme are realized in depth, and the overall game holds together well. However, the conspiracy puzzle feels bolted on, and can potentially derail the game from the murder investigation into a resource grabbing race. The attempt at incorporating personal stories deep into the structure of the game doesn't quite work for me, and trying to keep track of every opponent's current win/loss conditions can be a headache.

7. Blood Bowl: Team Manager: Aside from Slapshot, this is the only deckbuilder that I enjoy. Somehow the sports theme seems like a great match for a deckbuilder, as I can easily imagine the players not in my hand are currently injured. I like the level of focus for the overall game, covering just highlights in each game while addressing the overall arc of a season of play.

8. Twilight Imperium: Sometimes I am in the mood to spend a long block of time on a big, complex game, and TI3 is a great one. Epic scope and many interesting details. And yet I always find it to be an exhausting experience, more for the complexity of the evolving game state than the mere length of play. I wish that the game was less focused on Mecatol Rex, because sometimes TI3 feels like nothing more than an incredibly overwrought game of King of the Hill.

9. Citadels: The best of the old FFG Silver Line, Citadels is primarily interesting for the role selection meta-game. I don't love Citadels, but I like it well enough, and its presence on this list is in place of various others FFG games that I tried and didn't enjoy.

10. Chaos in the Old World: The visual design of CitOW is great, especially that brutal-looking board. But aside from Khorne's direct approach, I feel like there is a disconnect between theme and mechanics that impairs my enjoyment of the game. Instead of simulating doing cool stuff with game mechanics, it feel like I'm accomplishing tasks according to very arbitrary rules.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 11:12 by Egg Shen #228458
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If I had to do a combination of favorites from the two lists it would probably look like this:

10. BSG
9. Eldritch Horror
8. DungeonQuest
7. Chaos in the Old World
6. Talisman
5. Merchant of Venus
4. Wiz War
3. Fury of Dracula
2. Rebellion
1. Cosmic Encounter

It's a pretty decent mix of both reprints and original designs. Hell, if I only owned those ten games and their potential expansions I'd probably have enough stuff to play for the rest of my life.

I find it sort of ironic that as FFG is being assimilated into the ravenous Gelatenous Cube that is Asmodee that the new torch bearer for high quality, trashy-style games is actually Games Workshop. GW seems poised to make a massive re-entry into the boardgame market and so far things have been pretty positive. I'm looking forward to Lost Patrol, more Warhammer Quest and whatever else they decide to cook up and drop on us on at a moments notice.

FFG makes amazing games, but I think it was Barnes who said that they have their own category/style of game. It's not quite Ameritrash....it's like they design Hybrid Euros that focus heavily on the Trash side of the spectrum. They're design philosophy is almost mechanically obsessive to fault...always trying to figure out a way to re-invent the wheel when a die roll might have been appropriate. Still, I hope the shift to their new European Overlords doesn't have too much of an impact on their designs. I'm looking forward to what surprises they announce at Gen Con. Supposedly there is Arkham Horror: The Living Card Game that is going to take the place of Call of Cthulhu and be a co-op game similar to LotR LCG.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 11:40 by wkover #228461
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A testament to the eclecticism of FFG's line is that you can have multiple top 10 lists from different fans with almost no overlap.

Mine is very different top 10 from many others: (in no particular order)

Lord of the Rings co-op card game
Middle-Earth Quest (we live in our own pocket of insanity, as we're the only ones who seem to be fond of this one)
Space Hulk: Death Angel
Kingdoms
One of the Descents (either Descent + Road to Legend or Descent 2nd)
Ingenious (great as a partners game)
Eldritch Horror
Elder Sign (plus any/all expansions; I enjoy them all)
Lord of the Rings co-op board game (big box reprint)
Runebound 2nd edition (w/ all expansions)
Colossal Arena (#11 bonus)

And if we're tossing in kid/family stuff, Hey! That's My Fish! needs to make an appearance.

Runebound 3rd edition is a partial improvement over 2nd edition, but it also screws some things up.

Warhammer Quest Adventure Card game is really strong, but it's also a blend of Death Angel and LOTR coop card game. I don't think all three need to make the list.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 12:24 by Msample #228462
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Egg Shen wrote:
I'm looking forward to what surprises they announce at Gen Con. Supposedly there is Arkham Horror: The Living Card Game that is going to take the place of Call of Cthulhu and be a co-op game similar to LotR LCG.

On the one hand, AH is a pretty proven IP for them. On the other, I do wonder if a co-op format for an LCG makes sense. I would think a PvP would be more suited towards OP.

On a related note, I note that most of these lists omit any of the Game of Thrones games. Too bad, given how popular the property is. Anyone comment on the diff between first and second edition of the AGoT LCG ? From what I understand the reboot simplified a lot things.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 21:36 by Egg Shen #228495
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wkover wrote:
Runebound 3rd edition is a partial improvement over 2nd edition, but it also screws some things up.

I'm curious what your thoughts are about Runebound 3rd Edition. I've been playing it again recently and I think they actually did a good job updating it. It's got a few flaws and it simply can't compete with all the content of 2nd Edition, but I think it's a pretty damn good fantasy adventure game. I will say that I HATED it the first two or three times I tried it. It's gotten better though each time I've tried it.
Posted: 01 Jun 2016 21:55 by bigmop #228496
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We demand an explanation of why runewars was left off both lists!
Posted: 02 Jun 2016 11:40 by wkover #228512
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Egg Shen wrote:
wkover wrote:
Runebound 3rd edition is a partial improvement over 2nd edition, but it also screws some things up.

I'm curious what your thoughts are about Runebound 3rd Edition. It's got a few flaws and it simply can't compete with all the content of 2nd Edition, but I think it's a pretty damn good fantasy adventure game.

I've played 3rd edition four times (all 3-player games), and they were fun. At least for me. Might not have been worth a purchase, though - without more content, anyway.

Stuff I like:

+ Token-based combat
+ An increase in the number of actions per player turn (which, along with a smaller map, facilitates long-distance travel)
+ A satisfying skills menu

A "near plus" is the game's time limit. The brevity is good, but it creates balance/fun issues (see below).

Problematic stuff:

- Only good with 2-3 players due to downtime issues (same exact problem as the original)

- The time limit is a welcome addition, but it can make the game exceptionally tough to win. Some examples: Players are dependent on the right asset(s) becoming available for purchase at the right time in the right location; combat defeats, particularly in the early game, can cause negative swings in momentum that are potentially insurmountable. Not only does the losing player forego the money reward and the trophy, but s/he also has to waste precious time recovering health. "Rich get richer" has always been a strike against race-to-kill games, and time limits only exacerbate the problem.

- Late game quests are often pointless, as there isn't enough time to complete them. (Possible fix: Draw 2, keep 1 in the last 1/4 of the game?)

- Generally speaking, it's not clear that players can win without synergistic items/abilities that generate an overpowered damage effect. In the games that I won, I don't think anyone else had a shot at winning (not even close), which I find troubling.

- Money scarcity is brutal, particularly in combination with the time limit. (I like the suggested fix of giving everyone 2 more gold at the start.)

- A player defeated by the villain is permanently eliminated, and a player can get royally massacred if they flip poorly on the first round.

- There are only two scenarios, and one of them seems underdeveloped. The zombie scenario is a mess in terms of being unplayable (without variants) with lower player counts. Fewer players = fewer player actions to track down and eliminate zombies (particularly those in hard-to-reach places), which means that the boss is harder to kill for no good reason. Also, dispatching zombies is an unrelenting grind that isn't particularly entertaining. (Fix: For story events, the # of spawned zombies isn't set, but is instead based on the number of players.) Finally, players can spend an inordinate number of actions to obtain a companion, only to have it arbitrarily disappear on a later turn due to a bad die roll.

I'm always the Negative Nellie on F:AT, though, so YMMV. It's not a bad reworking at all, and the variants do plug up some of the more egregious holes.
Posted: 02 Jun 2016 14:39 by Egg Shen #228515
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I don't think you're being overly negative about the game. You pretty much have the same flaws that I do with it. I've played it 10 times now and have a good feel of it's strengths and weaknesses. The first big thing right off the bat is that I don't even compare the game to Runebound 2nd Edition. That's the first thing most people want to know about. They're so different from one another that Runebound 3rd Edition could have been named something completely different.

The base game scenarios are totally uneven. I really don't think the Necromancer scenario was meant to be played with less than 3 people. I've tried to solo it before and it's a joke. You literally run around the board wasting actions to murder zombies...there isn't enough time to level up. I fought the Necromancer on the last possible turn and he pretty much one shot my ass.

The time limit is something that I initially disliked but I've grown to love. It really ramps up the pressure and tension of the game. You have to have clear goals and agendas for your hero. Otherwise you'll be too under-powered when it comes time to put down the boss monster. I've seen it where a hero gets knocked out early and still recovered to win the game. Though I will agree there are certain games where the player lagging behind must feel like they're trying to scale a mountain...with no help or supplies.

I've found that a big (if not the biggest part) of the game is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your character. Each one is fairly unique and has some sort of powerful special ability that you need to be getting items/skills to make even better. If you're playing as Lyssa you want to be getting any item that will add movement dice to your pool for her "Stalk Prey" ability. You do mention that sometimes the correct items never show up and that can be problematic, but I've found it's always smart to have a second or third upgrade plan ready to go.

Money is super tight, but one of the best things about the game is that you can always sell your current items at full price in the markets. So it never makes sense to hold onto it. Buy small stuff and then upgrade it later. Gold is basically the most important thing in the entire game and you need to be trying to get some each and every turn no matter what. I hated this when I first played it, but it's something that has grown on me as well.

I'm fine with a player getting eliminated for good if they die on the Dragon or Necromancer. Those fights should be scary and do or die. Also since it's a race you might want to fight sooner than you might be ready because a stronger hero is just a turn or two away from winning. Not a deal breaker.

You're right in that questing feels limited late in the second act of the game. At that point Iv'e found the purple and orange gems are what folks should be going for. Unless you can zip around the map with your character the quests should be gotten early in your adventure and hopefully you complete them at some point during your travels. I found it makes thematic sense as well. If the Dragon or Necromancer is about to destroy the world you probably shouldn't be exploring Mad Man's Pass for some trinkets n gold. It's too late for that lol.

It wasn't until I realized that the game is essentially a pick and delivery game, mixed with a fantasy adventure game that the design really clicked for me. It's much closer to something like Firefly or Merchants and Marauders than say, Runebound 2nd edition. I really love how the skills and items work to upgrade your character. By the end you really feel like you've leveled up. Hunting down skill and item synergies is also really rewarding. Plus if things go right and you get something like the Runic Armor with the Family Heirloom sword it's friggin sweet. You feel like an unstoppable juggernaut.

The biggest complaint for me is still downtime and overall length. It's about an hour per player. So that means you're looking at a four hour game with a full table. Some people won't mind that, but at that length I might as well go play TI3 or Runewars. I'll play the game with 3, but I still think I prefer it at two. Which means the only playable scenario is the Dragon...which kinda sucks.

That being said, I'm ready for new content and hopefully some changes. The best thing about Runebound 2nd Edition was how malleable the system was. With all the expansions there were dozens of different ways to play it. I hope they follow that blueprint with this new edition. This isn't a game where I want merely more of the same.
Posted: 02 Jun 2016 14:54 by Egg Shen #228516
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bigmop wrote:
We demand an explanation of why runewars was left off both lists!

I stated in part one that Runewars would have been #11 on that list. I didn't include it on the reprint/reworking list because I didn't include FFG own reworkings.

Reasons why it just missed list part 1?

- I think it's the third best game of it's type that FFG offers. I vastly prefer both TI3 and Forbidden Stars. I like TI3 for it's space opera feel, tech tree, and diplomacy. I think Forbidden Stars trumps it in combat, mechanics (love that order stacking) faction upgrades, and how victory points work. I love that in Forbidden Stars if you get a victory point...it's yours forever. There is no tug of war with it. The other players failed in preventing you from earning it. It's a personal preference.

- FFG has sort of screwed up Runewars with the Revised Edition. I kinda hate that new rule where you have to announce you have the dragon runes to win and then you have to survive for a year. It's OK in a two player game. In a three and four player game I found it doesn't add anything enjoyable. I much prefer the original win conditions.

- I feel like the expansion is necessary to patch the game. It fixes a bunch of things with the base game (heroes, faction specific upgrades etc...)

- The combat is no where near as engaging as Forbidden Stars. I get that the game itself isn't just about fighting, but the battle themselves just lack a little something. I like the cards and how they function. In the end though I just really prefer how battle resolve in FS more.

It's still a great, great, game though. Despite these flaws I very much love it. I just think if you set up three tables with TI3, Forbidden Stars and Runewars...I'm doing whatever it takes to get a seat at those first two tables. I just think those two games slightly outclass Runewars.
Posted: 02 Jun 2016 14:55 by Columbob #228517
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I don't know if you're aware of the two upcoming expansions for Runebound. One new scenario, plus a bunch of new cards for every deck, and new heroes.
Posted: 02 Jun 2016 15:58 by Egg Shen #228523
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Columbob wrote:
I don't know if you're aware of the two upcoming expansions for Runebound. One new scenario, plus a bunch of new cards for every deck, and new heroes.

Yup. I'll be buying both of them as soon as they're available. They don't look like they're going to add anything drastic, but anything at this point is good. I really hope that they eventually release big box expansions in the same vein as Sands, Frozen Wastes, and Mists. Those drastically altered the game and provided some really awesome stuff to play with.

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