January 11, 2008

Big Box of Eye Candy

by Susan Rozmiarek

Don't you just love that little "rush or "high" that you get when the UPS guy drops off a box of games on your doorstop? I guess this is what drives a shopping addiction for some people.

Yesterday's box of gaming goodness contained more wow!ness than usual buried in the pile of annoying styrofoam peanuts that I managed to spill all over the floor unpacking it.

First up were several new Wings of War minis, including the popular and hard-to-get Red Baron. This is Ed's addiction. I like the game but don't feel the need to shell out for minis. That's okay though; I just file purchases like this in the back of my mind to use to my advantage later.

Next, I pulled out the new Air Pack for Memoir '44. It comes in a nice box of the same dimensions as the base game except not nearly as deep. Inside is a fancy plastic insert with a lid and places for the cards, planes, stands and everything. Bit of overkill, there. I had trouble figuring out how to open the dang thing. (Hint: it's taped shut, stupid) There are eight little painted planes. Cute. I'd have been more impressed if I hadn't just fondled the much larger and detailed WoW minis, but these are still nice. There's a big, colorful book of scenarios. Mmmm. Smell the new paper and ink. A few sheets of terrain and obstacles to punch out and some cards complete the expansion. Most of the cards appear to be summaries of the various rules in the game which can be pulled out and used as needed like in Battlelore. This alone makes the expansion worth getting.

Zooloretto was the next game out with its big, content panda face looking at me. This is a game that I enjoy but am not crazy about. However, it's great with newbies and continues our collection of Spiel des Jahres winners.

And lastly, at the bottom, was the big monster, StarCraft. Good grief, this one is heavy. It had to be lugged to the larger dining room table for a closer look. Surrounded by our eager kids, the coffin lid was removed to reveal piles of colorful, plastic figures (alas, a few broken from their stands), stacks of tiles to be punched and oodles of cards. I grabbed the thick rulebook and confirmed my worse fears. This game is chock full of space geekiness to be endured and we are going have to slog through 48 pages of rules before we can play it. Ah, well. This was the price for Ed and me getting away for a weekend by ourselves. Yes, this game was a bribe for our disappointed son who wanted to go to Lone Star Fest just to try it. He'd seen it at BGG.con. We figured that the savings from not having to feed his voracious appetite at restaurants at the con would more than cover the cost of this game. We weren't planning on getting it yet, but a fabulous sale price at Boulder triggered this whole order. We'll see how I like it. I'm not crazy about space themes.

Tonight we are going to GITHOT. Session report with pictures to follow. (Hee, hee. Sorry to disappoint, but it's not what it sounds like!)

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 11, 2008 2:27 PM


Don't let the rule book in Starcraft frighten you, Susan. It's chock full of examples and they explain things VERY carefully. It could have easily been half the size, but I for one like the way they did things; you can always skim over the things you already understand. The game didn't seem that hard to figure out, although I'm sure it will take a couple of games to get all the unit and technology types clear in your heads. But probably not a terribly complex game.

As for the theme, it's hard to say how that will work for you. Have you played A Game of Thrones? That's the game that Starcraft most reminded me of, because of the way the orders are placed. Starcraft adds some tweaks to this and it has a more detailed unit construction system, but it isn't too far removed from that game. Anyway, it seems to be pretty much hack 'n' slash, except in a sci-fi setting and with enough design detail to keep it from being a standard dicefest. It's a game I'd like to play sometime, but I definitely want to try before I buy and no one here has ponied up the bucks to purchase it. Maybe another one to play at Gulf Games.

Posted by: Larry Levy on January 12, 2008 10:08 AM

Starcraft was well worth the price of admission and is a really fun game. If you've played the computer game years ago, you'll pick up the game and the "tech tree" advances for each race quickly enough (you'll also catch yourself making all the game noises and saying the catch phrases).

As far as what the game is like - its not like anything. It has tons of "similar" mechanics to other games, but its not really like AGoT (which I love). The orders are placed secretly using order tokens (vaguely like AGoT) and each player has certain unique abilities - that's the extent its like AGoT. It has tech "trees" for each race. There seems like a lot to take in at first, but once you play, you'll get the basics of the game quickly. Print off the teaching rules from the geek and use the outline for each step and you'll then spend your time deciding what upgrades to make.

Posted by: Charles Hasegawa on January 14, 2008 5:52 PM
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