Tabletop Tuesday: The Returnening


Greetings, fellow dice fiends!  It has been a few weeks since my last column and for that I owe you all an apology.  My greatest nemesis, real life, got in the way when I began a new job.  Now that I’m settled in, I’m back to bring you the best highlights from the world of cardboard.

Now, I’ve missed some big bits of news, but with GenCon around the corner, there’s no shortage of new info coming out.

hcommandFirst off, Privateer Press has announced Hordes: High Command.  This strategic deckbuilder will act as a counterpoint to Warmachine: High Command.  For those of you unfamiliar with Privateer Press’ main moneymakers, Warmachine pits powerful wizards in command of steam-driven robots against one another. Hordes, by comparison, is about large beasts under the thrall of potent warlocks.  The catch is that both of these games can be played against one another.  That’s right – your 20 foot tall steampunk robot wielding a flaming ball and chain can go toe to toe with the alpha of a werewolf pack.

But I digress.  High Command (in either the Warmachine or Hordes variety) promises to be a compelling deckbuilding experience that fully leverages the rich intellectual property that is Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms setting.  Players will be able to choose a faction and then draft units into their decks to compete for various objectives.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one for my personal collection!


Now if there’s one thing I like, it’s a good historical game (like Founding Fathers or Twilight Struggle).  If there are two things I like, then the other is a game that isn’t afraid to tackle an interesting and perhaps controversial topic for a game (like Pandemic or Archipelago).  Enter Freedom: The Underground Railroad by Academy Games.  This Kickstarter project blends a tumultuous time in United States history with compelling cooperative mechanics.  Players work together to gain funds and further the abolitionist cause while moving slaves along the Underground Railroad.  The game will throw pro-slavery events and slave catchers at you, though so you’ll have to be savvy with your actions and funds.

The game is already funded, so backing it at this point is a sure thing (or as sure as Kickstarter projects can get).  I have to admit that the title didn’t grab me at first, but the artwork did.  The graphic design choices for the component’s they’ve shown have me very intrigued.  The campaign has 25 days left, so give it a look!



Aaaaaaand finally, we come to Star Wars.  I’ve been playing a bit of the Star Wars card game from Fantasy Flight Games whenever I can get a chance.  In fact, a certain webcomic reviewer has been hounding me to play lately.  As if the game weren’t compelling enough, Fantasy Flight announced the game’s next big box expansion – Balance of the Force!

This new expansion adds mutliplayer modes to the game.  Two light side players can tackle two dark side players or a group of 2-3 players can tackle one super-powered rival!  If neither of those is your particular cup of tea, though, the box still has several new objective sets that can be added to your existing one-on-one decks.  Look for Balance of the Force in stores during 2013’s fourth quarter.


Tabletop Term of the Week:  Since we’ve got 2 card games in the news today, I figured I’d cover a fairly common term in the tabletop world that has come to have 2 distinct meaning – deckbuilding.  Classically, deckbuilding refers to constructing a deck from a pool of cards.  In the case of classic collectible card games like Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon this would constitute sitting down with your collection of cards and choosing which ones to include in the deck you plan to use against a given opponent.  The Star Wars card game from Fantasy Flight Games has this kind of deckbuilding component (though each game does it a bit differently and Star Wars’ method is unique – that’s a story for another time).

On the flipside, a more modern genre of card games has emerged over the last few years where players build a deck of cards while they play.  The grandaddy of this genre is Dominion by Rio Grande Games.  Players will start with a small number of basic cards (usually some form of currency) and use those cards to draft more options into their deck from some form of central supply.  As new cards get added, new abilities may be unlocked that will allow players to combo cards together to achieve the particular game’s victory condition.

Deckbuilding in either form is a bit tricky to explain in short, simple terms but that’s the basic idea.  Stay tuned because next week, I’m going to go more in depth with some of my favorite “traditional” card games and how deckbuilding works for them.

According to his peers, Ryan plays far too many board games, an awful lot of role-playing games, and occasionally makes time for video games. If asked his opinion, he would just laugh and wish for more hours in the day to create characters and place meeples. On the rare occasion he isn't rolling dice, he's reading comics or watching movies. He eats and sleeps between initiative steps

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