RogerBW's Blog

Thirsty Meeples July 2014 02 July 2014

Another two-player session last night, trying new games at the boardgame café. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

We started with Star Wars X-Wing, just the basic set; I'd seen the TableTop video so already had some idea of the overall game play, but I wanted both to try it for myself and to see just what was available in the basic box apart from the three standard miniatures.

We played twice, the first time with the quick-start rules (no stress, no range modifiers), the second time with the full basic rules but no special extras. Game play is remarkably fast (with the use of manoeuvre dials, range rulers and turn templates, and very few modifiers), but still satisfying. It's a clear descendant of Wings of War but all the annoying and slow bits have been stripped off. With small numbers of damage points it's not long before someone gets blown up, but getting there is still tactically interesting, not just a matter of head-on charges.

Closing in on the luckless X-wingDon't do this. Especially in the TIE

I lost both games, but I still bought a copy of the basic box. I will be looking into selected expansions, probably to include my old favourite the B-Wing, but there's actually a decent amount of variation just in the standard box; one can swap pilots around and change upgrade cards even while using the same three miniatures. (I am fully aware that this sort of game can become terribly expensive if one lets it.)

It occurred to me as we were playing that this would be the perfect quick system to use for Crimson Skies (cinematic WWII-ish air combat). (I played quite a bit of the original boardgame, not the clicky-base collectable miniatures game, but while it was fun it also took rather a long time to play.) It wouldn't even take much modification. Asteroids replaced by tall buildings; a new set of critical hits and enhancements; a way of converting the aircraft into this fairly basic system of stats. I can definitely see that working. And will probably work on it. Artscow do decks of custom cards, right? (But they need Silverlight. Perverts.)

We'd heard promising things about The Walking Dead: The Best Defense, so gave that a try next. It comes with a very pretty game mat, but in play seemed very random. Equipment inevitably gets worn down and lost, you won't win a fight without it, and when you run through the Scrounge (equipment) deck you don't re-shuffle, so effectively there's a time limit, which we didn't realise when we started. So the world was lost to zombies. Not much thematic connection with the TV series, either; your character card has a photo of one of the actors, and you have a special ability that's vaguely related to the character, but that's about it. Not one I'll be coming back to.

Shiny matSelection of scrounge cardsDoomed

Next was Among the Stars, a game of space-station building (getting more points for having things in particular arrangements, such as putting an alien bazaar near a customs post, and with some of them needing to be close to power plants). The two-player rules involve constantly passing one's hand around the table, making it difficult to do any sort of planning, and I think this did it a disservice; having some idea of what cards one would be playing on one's next turn, as the three and four player games do, would make things much more interesting.

The score track is perversely complex, and it's a very big box for what's basically a large deck of cards plus some counters, but while I shan't rush to buy it I wouldn't mind playing this again. With at least three players, though.

(Later addendum: see related post for a three-player game report.)

Getting startedScore trackEnd game

We rounded off the evening with Mad Zeppelin, which didn't really work for me. The theme (you're controlling people who bribe guards and throw cargo crates off a zeppelin to their helpers below) is fun, but doesn't have a great deal to do with the game play (what I tend to call the "abstraction gap"). In practice it's one of those games where each role has a special power, and you can't do much with most of them unless you know what all the roles can do. (And what colours they match, which wasn't even on the quick reference card.) Not particularly objectionable, but I don't see myself playing again.

Mad Zeppelin

I think I lost every game we played. Hey ho. Still good fun.

[Buy X-Wing at Amazon] [Buy The Walking Dead: The Best Defense at Amazon] [Buy Among the Stars at Amazon] [Buy Mad Zeppelin at Amazon] and help support the blog.

See also:
Thirsty Meeples February 2015


  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:53am on 02 July 2014

    Ah the B-wing. I always had a soft spot for that too, it's such a strange looking configuration.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:09am on 02 July 2014

    One has to go by aesthetics, really, since the supposed tech is wildly inconsistent and I'm certainly not going to get into the competitive game.

    I'll admit I like most of the TIE fighter variants too.

    (A comment during the game: "This TIE has defences! That's not the Empire I grew up believing in!")

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