Archive for February 15th, 2013

Sexy new airplanes might not be the best thing about Airland Battles

, | Games


The fine folks at Eugen Systems, one of our latest greatest hopes for real time strategy, have been awful at thinking up names for their games since their debut with Direct Action, which was clearly not about fighting wars through proxies. I would be hard pressed to come up with a more generic and uninteresting title than Wargame: Airland Battles, their next game. All I can deduce from that title is that there won’t be any naval units.

The main bullet point for Airland Battles is the addition of aircraft (pictured) to the same basics from Wargame: European Escalation. Which is another awful title for how all it tells you is that you won’t have any battles on continents that begin with the letter A.

But for me, there’s something even sexier in Airland Battles than the sexy airplanes. European Escalation appealed to me partly as a collectible game in which you unlocked awesome Cold War units. But one of the problems with that game was the “deck building” that followed the unlocking. There were no meaningful rules about how to arrange your deck. You just chucked stuff into the box. There. Deck built! There was no incentive to use the less useful units. Of all the toys in that very generous toybox, most of them go unplayed with.

Eugen has a very different idea with the deck building in Airland Battles, which gives your deck bonuses if you restrict your cards — err, units — to certain themes.

For example, if you create a Marine infantry Deck from 1980 with 100% Russian troops, you will receive very high bonuses, compared to a Deck made up of little bits from all nations on your side.

Read more here, where the developers spell out in detail what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Airland Battles is due out this spring. It’s not soon enough.

The ten best cards in Ascension: Immortal Heroes

, | Game reviews


Immortal Heroes is a pretty terrible name for this latest expansion to Ascension, the deck building game that has effectively ruined most other deck building games for me. But it’s a title that gets to the main new gameplay mechanic, a deck of cards representing soul gems that sits off to the side of the table. Each card in the soul gem deck is from the previous Ascension sets. So when you draw a soul gem, as many of the new cards allow, you’re basically invoking an immortal hero. Hence, Ascension: Immortal Heroes. It’s a touch of randomness within the randomness. Draw a card that lets you draw a card. I like it. Let’s hurry up and get this puppy onto the iOS version!

There are two more gameplay tweaks in Immortal Heroes. Ongoing trophy monsters are the equivalent of constructs that cannot be destroyed. And placeholder event cards let you control the frequency of the global events that shake up the rules and bring fanatics into play, which are now a fundamental part of Ascension’s combat dynamic.

Immortal Heroes works great as a standalone set of cards, but loses its punch when shuffled into the other decks and your soul gem deck can go untouched for so long. But it demonstrates that the developers at Gary Games haven’t yet run out of good ideas.

After the jump, ten reasons to get Immortal Heroes Continue reading →