So its October, and I'm standing in a local hobby shop (a hobby shop with a SALE no less) and I must pick up a game for haloweeny month goodness. In previous years its been Arkham Horror, Betrayal At House On The Hill, Doom and other games of that sort.
I have a decision to make. I can purchase the starter set for Heroscape, plus some zombies for said game, or I can buy Tannhauser.
I know, I know, battle of the dicefests.
Both games I really want and I cant get both, familiar situation, eh?
So (obviously) I buy Tannhauser, me and my buddy grab a snack and head back to crack open this thing.
My initial impression when I opened the box can be summed up by:
"Wow, this board is large and black."
But with a little extra lighting I can make out the details of various catacombs and abandoned houses, and I can clearly make out the all important LOS circles that are part of FFG's much gabbed about "Pathfinder System".
But hey, I used to hate modular systems (All aboard the Heroquest Expansion money train!) but I liked Herocard, and besides, most "systems" usually end up just powering one game line anyway.
This pathfinder thing cant suck that much?
Well, it woulda' sucked a lot less if someone would have explained it better in the rules, because there was alot of "Hurr?" moments where I had to re-read alot of sections for clarity. But after perusing the summary on the back it was all good and our first game of "Deathmatch" began.
This is where I noticed something: This game is more WhiteWolf than any board game WW has ever made (I'm lookin' at YOU Prince Of The City). Pseudo horror theme? Check! Piles of D8's? Check! Undertones of pretentious superiority? Oh yeah.
So thats when this game became way better. I stopped thinking of it as "theme game" like Arkham and started to thing of it as more of a sort of WW combat-skirmish game with (very) light thematic role playing elements. The following game was very fun, we crept around corners and slowly positioned ourselves, we discovered the deadly power of TNT and realized the potential of guns that shoot around corners.
It was a lot of fun, and as a plus took only an hour and a half to play, which is pretty good for just pick-up and play.
In summary its just a really tense and deadly skirmish game, it has a load of strategy based on positioning and resource management. It just was presented (and marketed) in the wrong way, Its really going to take the next couple of expansions to see how the system is handled. If they take a more RPG angle, the line is probably going to flop, but if they start marketing it as what is a essentially better version of frag they might need their money rake.
So as a summary:
- Time tested Fantasy Flight Games production value
- Loads of theme
- A well made combat system that is simple, yet strategic
- Fast playtime (due to high fatality) especially on "Hard" mode
- Not as many tiny little tokens as most FFG games, tokens are also sturdy, colour-coded, and large (poker chip sized).
- Confusingly set-up rulebook
- Miniatures (at least mine) show signs of "glue burn" and fall apart
- If you have vision problems, this game will destroy your eyes
- The game doesn't give you enough dice (It gives you 6, you need 12)
- Lots of rules are "exclusive" to one team means lots of looking up
- High fatality rate means you really can't play with more than 4 players, because characters can be knocked out of the game quite fast.
The bottom line is really whether of not you like skirmish games, because if you go in expecting Arkam or Runebound you'll be very disappointed. But if you're looking for a fast and fun skirmish game, reminiscent of many famous "stalk and kill" or "twitch and fire" scenes from movies you'll have a good time.
Just pack some glasses or a good lamp.
May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
I disagree on the board darkness thing, but your review is excellent in all other respects.
The Pros and Cons section is a nice concise read.
A couple a for you
I agree with pretty much all your points, pros and cons (especially in regard to the low quality of the included minis...I bought my own unpainted ones from the TOY website and am much happier with them...well worth the extra £10) with a couple of exceptions....I didn't find the rulebook confusingly set out at all, it read through pretty much like any set of rules...the letdown was that there was no rules summary or flow at the end of them to cap them off (the back page summary is a bit useless and confusing...at least for that page I'll agree with you).... The other point I disagree with is regarding the darkness of the playing board. I've read a lot of negative comments about this but I gotta say I have had no difficulty with it and find it both easy to read and atmospheric (the last would be ruined by a brighter colour scheme)...
It really is just a better version of frag.
I'll be collecting the extra minis.
The boards are a bit dark but they wouldn't really work thematically if they were any other way.
The rules summary on the back is a godsend.
Thanks for a different and sincere review pointing out some interesting things about this game.