December 6th, 2011
By CHEE YIH YANG
We’re about to bid farewell to another year. It has been a pretty decent 2011 games-wise, which is not bad considering how little I expected it to deliver on most counts.
Viva la crowdsourcing!
In terms of innovation, this year’s “Startup Fever” has certainly taken the scene by storm. The boardgame cleverly applies gamer-based crowdsourcing as its key tenet, by allowing people to chip in with their own donations, in order to fund the game.
The higher the donations, the more customised and unique your boardgame copy became. And, the game did not get produced until a minimum quantity was ordered by Netizens. This formula looks like one of the year’s new boardgame fads, as I’ve seen it repeated in a number of newer boardgames.
This is a solid concept that is likely to see more traction in the coming year.
The larger game companies continue to beat the electronic and digital mortar-and-pestle, in coming up with the more technologically-inclined “innovations” (sic). Hasbro’s Monopoly Live boasts a 10-inch electronic tower that “rolls” virtual dice, keeps track of player turns and money, as well as rentals.
Pretty nifty, but I guess I still like my old-school Monopoly – paper bank notes, real dice, et al. Still, do check these ones out if you need an RM200 stocking filler.
The collectible and trading card game (TCG) game market saw their flagbearers continue their fine run, with both Magic: the Gathering (MTG) and World of Warcraft (WoW) TCG clocking in awesome products of the year.
MTG’s Gothic and classic horror-themed Innistrad expansion was a clear hit, while WoW’s new Worldbreaker block expansions, Twilight Of The Dragons and Throne Of Tides were resounding sellouts.
Special sets that make it easier for players to “play” (that is, products that are playable straight out of the box) continue to be crowd favorites, too.
But what truly has my vote as the most impressive game of the year has to be Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game. An eagerly-awaited adaptation of the classic 1980s miniatures fantasy football – not the online kind, but real-deal Orcs-and-Elves kind of fantasy – done up by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG), the stand-alone card-based boardgame is deceptively simple, yet awesome especially since it’s easy to run a real-deal football league off it.
The rules might alienate miniature purists, but the FFG version does what it’s supposed to do: give casual gamers a chance to have frequent kick-a-bouts between Dwarves, Orcs, Wood Elves, Chaos, Skaven and Humans.
“Match-ups” are swift and resolved almost instantaneously, player downtime virtually non-existent and the action pretty fast. The aesthetics on this FFG is typical of the game company’s products – beautiful, stunning and simply gorgeous.
My only question to FFG is: When are we getting the other races? Last year’s video game adaptation had 20 races, so …
The Force is strong
Speaking of FFG, they scored a coup of sorts by scoring the right to make Star Wars games, namely Star Wars: The Card Game, which is a Living Card Game (LCG). FFG’s website describes the game as cooperative, with players controlling characters from the original trilogy including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa, as they battle Imperial forces.
LCGs are similar to TCGs, except that instead of expansions with randomly-packaged cards, the card expansions come in fixed assortments, making it less “expensive.” Though I’m personally wary of LCGs, seeing how they are ending up as not much different from TCGs, let’s see what FFG does with one of the more revered fan franchises. Let’s see if the Force is strong with this one?
FFG actually has another Star Wars game lined up next year called X-Wing, a pre-painted miniatures game that should excite both casual miniatures fans and sci-fi gamers.
As for other stuff that I’m looking forward to in 2012, surprisingly it’ll have to be one boardgame that I played less of, having preferred its “meatier” cousins such as Axis and Allies. Yup, I’m talking about Risk!
Having seen many variants and quite a few makeovers over the decades, get ready for a brand new Risk, called Risk Legacy.
The concept behind the game is simple – players get to remove and eliminate existing components, and then come up with their own enhancements and builds to Risk Legacy, making it a “living” boardgame of sorts.
It’s a pretty radical concept that’s generating lots of buzz online, so I can’t personally try this one out myself.
See you all next year – have a great year-end break, and a Merry Christmas in the meantime!
q CHEE YIH YANG needs to overcome his recent his team’s recent slump in form, in the Damansara Blood Bowl League. E-mail the esoteric gaming nut at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments, questions, hot gaming news and tips, and trading lists and deck ideas, for both Magic and World of Warcraft. Check out his blog at http://blog.rage.com.my/category/cards-and-boards, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/arcturus_mengsk.