Divination 101: Where the hell is it?

Unfogging the future of gaming is sometimes a trying experience. Some companies have a nasty habit of giving some big reveal about an AWESOME new game that’s sure to rock your socks at some gaming expo or convention; take your pick. They pull out their announcements and their fanfare, blitzing our brains with conceptual delights with colorful displays and candy-like boxes, hoping for us gamers to line up with the promises of giving them money. Then, of course, you’re hopelessly hooked, checking back on the designing company’s website day after day waiting for news that you’re frankly never going to see.

Th’ game’s but a walking shadow

That struts and frets its hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.

Okay, so bastardizing a soliloquy from MacBeth is a bit over-dramatic, but you get my meaning. All the bluster, and no payoff. What’s worse, some of these games never see the light of day! What’s the point of getting peoples’ hopes up and never delivering? If you keep people waiting for too long, their expectations become monolithic, and then when you release it…BAM! Congratulations! You’re the next Duke Nukem: Forever.

There are a couple of games I’ve been waiting for that seems to be eternally on the backburner that I’m rather sick of waiting for info on. Most of the game companies involved don’t have word one up on their news feeds, either. It’s irritating, to say the least. Let’s look at a few contenders for the top spot of Doctor Belmont’s list of “Wow! That looks cool! Now where the hell is it?!”

A photo taken at GenCon 2011

DESCENT: JOURNEYS IN THE DARK (SECOND EDITION)

Oh, Fantasy Flight Games, how I love you…but sometimes, you can be a real cocktease. I saw this beauty in a display case at GenCon 2011, and even then I was ready to say, “Shut up, FFG, and take my money!” It boasted streamlined play, a fresh new look, more immersive and story-driven gameplay, and best of all, it sports a built-in character development system to play it campaign style, not unlike HeroQuest, one of my favorite board games from my youth! I was sold immediately, and from the look of the display case, lots of components were finished. It must mean that it’s sure to be out soon, yes?

…oh, no.

No, you see, we were shown a treat at GenCon, and regaled with a FFG online announcement news feed. Then we were left to wonder for almost HALF A YEAR before we even heard a peep about any of the game’s details! Sure, we have plenty of news stories now, and there’s even rules posted online, and an upcoming preview event this weekend, but the bottom line is, we’re probably not going to see it until GenCon; a FULL YEAR after its initial announcement. Guess what else was announced for the first time at GenCon 2011?

Wiz-War, and Rex. What’s the rub? Rex has been released a few weeks back, and Wiz-War has been out for MONTHS!

Yeah, yeah, I know. It IS actually coming out; it’s confirmed. But, for as long as we’ve been waiting, I won’t believe it until it’s in my hands at GenCon.

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com

DUNGEON FIGHTER

Dufuq?

Fantasy Flight Games has a penchant of scooping up licenses and churning out games from other countries, like this oddity from Cranio Creations. I’ve never heard of them, but their website says they’re in Milano…which would be in Italy. Now, I have to admit that I’m starting to despise gimmick games. I hate games that depend entirely on their theme, or the use of props, toys, and gadgets. I do not want to beat my opponents with blow-up plastic clubs and jump around and grunt like a neanderthal, or juggle geese, stand on my head, or bray like a jackass to play.

On the surface, this looks like another gimmick game. Great; that’s all we need, FFG…another UGG-TECT. This game, however, is thankfully bereft of kindergarten block sets, plastic blow-up caveman beat sticks, and other clownshoes bullshit. No, this one has a target board that you chuck dice at!

Wait…what?

A target area you lay on the table and chuck dice at? Then, you have cards you draw that limit how you can throw said dice? Lovely! So this game is essentially dungeon beer-pong with dice. Look, folks, I have a hard enough time with my gaming group having the dexterity to be able to roll dice on the table without some falling off and getting lost, and now you want me to have them stand further away and try it? Of course, since the chances of dice going AWOL are much higher, the game will need CUSTOM DICE! Great, if one gets lost, you’re writing to FFG for replacement parts.

Maybe I’m being unfair to this game. Perhaps I was so turned off by Ugg-Tect that I was ready to condemn Dungeon Fighter to the likes of Candyland and Mouse Trap. There is a certain something about this title that still has me reading up on it, though. There is something else to it other than being “dice-darts.” I’m seeing dungeon maps, character and monster cards. There’s additional elements to this game that are keeping my interest. While I groan at the prospect of having to run and fetch stray dice for 90% of the game, it still looks like something I might actually play.

Here’s the thing, though. There are sites out there that are already saying that FFG has plans to release it this August (Oh, lookie there, another GenCon release!), and there isn’t even a paragraph about it on FFG’s website. No announcement, no listing…bupkis. What the Hell, FFG? If this thing is going to be available in August, you’re just going to wait until the day you start selling it to start marketing it? That sounds kinda backwards to me. You’re expecting everyone to buy it blind. Sure, it’s already available technically, but not everyone keeps up on foreign titles.

Please, FFG, give us some info! I guarantee it will not illicit the number of groans and facepalms that Ugg-Tect did!

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com

A pic taken at GAMA 2012

RELIC

What would happen if Fantasy Flight Games were to take Warhammer 40K and Talisman and put them in a nice hotel room with some fine wine, candlelight, and some Barry White and leave it alone for awhile? Well, I think the love child that would result would look like this. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. It’s being touted over the net as being “the Warhammer 40K palate-swap of Talisman.” Hey, to me that doesn’t sound too bad. I like Warhammer 40K and I like Talisman, and FFG is wise enough to not have the game play TOO much like Talisman to make it a different gaming experience. Other than that, we know little to nothing about it…and there’s the problem. AGAIN.

What’s my malfunction with THIS one? Well, we’re getting into a trend, here. FFG is making a bad habit of making “secret” promises and then hiding all info on the game like they’re trying to hide the One Ring from Sauron and his Nazgul. FFG shows it off at GAMA and says that it will be out “by summer.” (sigh) Really? Is this yet ANOTHER title that’s going to be a surprise at GenCon? At this rate, you might as well just get rid of your news section if you’re going to keep every game secret until the day that you release it. Granted, this title will have more power to demand a blind buy if you’re selling it at GenCon, but could you give us some heads-up? A simple announcement would be nice.

Please tell me that you aren’t planning on letting this one sit on the development board for three years until we no longer care like you did withGears ofWar.

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com

Prophecy: Water Realm

PROPHECY: THE WATER REALM

Z-Man Games, you got some ‘splainin to do!

I love Prophecy. I even prefer it over Talisman, even though the games are roughly similar in play style and game goal. Z-Man produced the English version of this great game, and even gave us the first expansion, The Dragon realm. It gave new depth and further adventure into the Astral planes, making it a journey unto itself rather than the simple 2-fight/collect artifact model the base game has. It comes with scores of new adventure cards, equipment cards, spells, prayers, skills, abilities, alternate playable races, and even a dedicated board for the realm itself; all of it neatly themed around dragons and fire.

Well, that wasn’t the only expansion Prophecy ever had. There was a Water Realm to explore, too, but that may have to wait indefinitely. Despite Z-man Games rep spilling on Boardgamegeek.com that we will indeed be traveling there soon; it’s only a matter of getting a few contractual things out of the way…it seems like said things pass like a bill through congress, because that was more than two years ago. At GenCon 2011, I inquired about the status of The Water Realm, and I was told “Oh, that! Yeah, it’ll be out sometime by Christmas!”

…uhuh… Christmas of what year?

It’s just over a month until GenCon 2012 and we’ve heard nothing of Prophecy at all. I’m still waiting, Z-Man, along with all of the other adventurers who are awaiting our time to pass through the astral portal and into the great blue depths. Throw us a bone, here! Are we ever going to see it or not? I certainly hope so, but if the answer is a concrete “no,” could you at least give us the courtesy of letting us down easy?

http://www.zmangames.com

MAGE WARS

The anticipation is killing me! I got the chance to demo this at GenCon 2011, and even got a free t-shirt for my “trouble.” I’ll come right out and say it; I LOVE this game! The premise is about as simple as it gets; you throw two or more magic-users into an arena and they beat the ever-loving magical soul stuffing out of each other! I think one of the most endearing aspects of this game is that each mage is unique with their own complements of creatures, equipment, and schools of magic to draw on for spells, all organized nicely into a “grimoire” that you can surf through at your leisure! No drawing cards hoping to get that spell you need; open up your book of magic and CHOOSE that spell! This automatically puts Magic: The Gathering‘s planeswalkers to shame.

Spells are cast using a renewable resource of mana every turn, so you can pick and choose when you want to cast smaller spells, and when you want to save up that mana for that tactical-nuclear fireball! Spells come in ATTACK SPELLS like fireballs and lightning bolts, CONJURATIONS like walls of fire, buildings, and other constructs, SUMMONS to call creatures to battle, ENCHANTMENTS to buff those creatures, and EQUIPMENT to pimp out your spellcaster, giving him (or her) extra powers and abilities. There’s a wealth of tactical abilities, too. Damaging spells may stun or hold, or perhaps drain life, or hamper mana recovery, or a wealth of other status effects.

All of this is topped off by the fact that this game is completely customizable! Spellbooks are customizable using a point-buy system, so you could have two completely different strategies used even if it happens to be two Warlocks on the battlefield.

The thing that makes all of this truly great, though, is the fact that this is not another damned collectible game. This is very akin to Fantasy Flight Games’ “Living Card Games,” in which you can get every card in a set by just buying each expansion that comes out…and oh yes, there WILL be expansions! I’m not kidding, Arcane Wonders (The makers of Mage Wars) has said as much…so SUCK IT, Magic: The Gathering!

The Mage Wars base set will come with four mages: The Spell-slinging tactician Wizard (my favorite for obvious reasons); the serene and protective Priestess of healing, the creature-feature Beastmaster, and the curse-calling Warlock. Expansions will see the inclusion of the Druid, Illusionist, Sorcerer, Necromancer, Paladin, Warlord, and Forcemaster. I really can’t sing the praises of this game enough. I eagerly anticipate the day I get this game in my hands to give it a proper video review that it deserves. When this baby hits stores, it will be a crime if it doesn’t sell out immediately.

There’s NO excuse in the world for refusing to add this instant classic to your game shelf! You heard me! Doc Belmont says “GET YOU SOME!”

So, do I have a problem with this game? Yes, and it’s unforgivable!

It’s the fact that I don’t have this game in my hands yet! I played this at GenCon 2011, we’re a month and a half away from GenCon 2012, and it still isn’t out! I get it; it needs to be perfect before launch, but this wizard grows impatient…

…so be warned, ye who man the Arcane Wonders booth at GenCon, if you see a wizard in a black and green robe and pointy hat heading your direction, have his copy of Mage Wars ready for purchase, or I swear I will rain down burnination with furious vengeance upon thee, and the survivors will be turned into toads!!!

Check out Mage Wars at http://www.magewars.com!

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Posted on July 4, 2012, in Board Games, Collectible Card Games, Conventions, Living Card Games, Role-Playing Games. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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