Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower - Deep Thoughts

Last Sunday I got together with a group of friends and we took my newly completed copy of Warhammer Quest Silver Tower out for a spin. We thoroughly kicked the tires of the game through the first two scenarios and had a grand time. I managed to get a great group play with and we had a lot fun laughing, teasing, cursing our luck and pondering the mysteries of the Silver Tower. If I only used that as a criteria, Silver Tower was a phenomenal purchase. But I'll try to look at some of the other aspects and you can draw your own conclusions.

The Pros

- Games Workshop continues to hold its position as the 800lb gorilla in room by producing premier components for its games. The miniatures are up  to the high standards you'd expect. They push the envelope of how thin they can get some parts - I had a few broken pieces in the kit before I even cut anything off the sprues - but the final products are incredible sculpts. Honestly, I don't think there is a model in the set I didn't like. For those who enjoy assembling and painting models, this kit is worth the price. Those looking for quick assembly and getting figures on the board quickly would be better served elsewhere.

- There's a lot of interesting mini-games and riddles that the players are confronted with rather than just rolling a die to see what happens during the game. Silver Tower takes full advantage of a sort of "choose your own adventure" design in the adventure book. to create an atmosphere of mystery and confusion. As we played the game, all of us really grew to appreciate these elements. They turned what could have been a typical dungeon crawl game into something a little more special.

- The game is highly co-operative but still gives players the chance to muck with each others' plans and keep the game fresh. I'm usually not a big fan of co-op games, so still allowing players to compete with one another in-game really makes the Silver Tower shine for me. The only thing better than defeating a room full of baddies is playing a card that allows you to reap the rewards alone!

- Once the game mechanics are understood, everything flows quickly. Nothing feels super complicated, but we did still need to refer to the rules quite a bit.

- The use of a "Destiny Phase" at the start of each turn was really novel. Not only does the roll give the possible addition of dice to a shared pool, but it can also act as a random event generator. The collective intake of breath waiting to see the outcome of the die roll was a great shared experience for our group. The shared pool and the ability to draw from it was a lot of fun if someone got greedy and their gluttony didn't pay off.

The Cons

- The game play book isn't laid out particularly well in my opinion. Certain key rules are "called out" in decorative panels, and they can sometimes be over-looked. Constantly pawing through the rules made things a little slower than they had to be.

- I'm not a huge fan of the dice pool mechanic used for the Heroes. It works just fine, I just don't particularly enjoy the reliance on luck and the extra step slows down the pace of play. The mechanic just seems to be a way to differentiate the game without really adding much, in my opinion.

The ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

- Is it better than the original Warhammer Quest? That all depends on who you are. If you want it to be a pseudo-roleplaying game with huge amount of monsters and story-lines, then probably not. If, like me, you are looking for a board game with a continuing character advancement; then its at least as good if not better. As I've gotten older, I find I prefer games with more streamlined rules and I don't require a total open-world concept for a board game.

- Even if you just assembled and don't paint the models, its a significant time investment. I consider that part and the painting of the models to be as big a part of the enjoyment as playing the game, so I roll that into my assessment of if it was worth the price.

- Re-playability? So this is a sticky question for me. It took us approximately 5 hours to play 2 scenarios: so if we can play through all 8 quests that would be 20 hours of gaming.  Considering I only get to play maybe once or twice a month, I think that's plenty of time expect from the game. The matrix for randomizing opponents in the game may add "some" re-playability, but if you have the time to replay a 20-hour game repeatedly, this probably won't be as good a value for you. Its just the right amount for me.

I had an enormous amount of fun playing and look forward to venturing back into the Gaunt Summoner's realm. Between the game and the hobby-time I've gotten out of this purchase, I can't recommend it enough.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Silver Tower Finished!

I finished up the last of the models for Warhammer Quest Silver Tower this week and am ready to actually play the game this weekend. In fact, I managed to get the last model done with a couple of days to spare! I figured I would be painting furiously until my friends were knocking at the door, ready to play; but somehow I did it. The last three models were all kits that I'd waited to tackle till the last minute because of their complexity, which was a foolish way to do it. I should have broken up some of the simpler models to do with a couple of these peppered in.

Hey, hey! The Gang's all here!
First up was the Tenebrael Shard - master assassin and huge fan of White Snake with that hairdo and those pants. Yikes! This model was everything that has turned me off from Dark Elves for years - thin parts, 80's hair metal aesthetics and self-indulgent silliness. He turned out fine, but I was really glad to be done with him.

He travels down the only road he has known.
Like a drifter, he was born to roam alone.
The Mistweaver Saih was the next model that I tackled. This is probably my favorite model of the set - the whole sculpt has a really nice sense of motion and flow and the design feels fresh to me. I know there has been a ton of hand-wringing that Slaanesh has been written out of Fantasy, but I'm hoping that the Mistweaver is the model for the direction Games Workshop takes the Aelfs, because she has a ton of Slaaneshi iconography on her. She, the Shard and the Darkoath Chieftain make fully half of the Heroes baddies and I think it would be interesting to have the forces of the Aelfs teetering on the edge of turning to Chaos.

Miiiiiiist Weaver, I believe you can get me through
the niiiiiiight...
I saved the biggest model for last - the Ogroid Thamaturge.  Again, he looked like an intimidating model to paint, but I managed to get him done in two evenings of work. I opted to ape the studio paint scheme to save some time - I didn't want to end up with something that just wasn't working with a hard deadline.

I've never heard a fart rock song that uses the words "Ogroid" or "Thamaturge".
Let me know if I've missed something somewhere.
So that's the second Games Workshop boxed set I've finished up this year. I'm now eyeing that new Horus Heresy boxed game "Burning of Prospero" so that may be in my future. I can't wait to play Warhammer Quest Silver Tower and I'll share my thoughts on the game next week.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

More Heroes for Silver Tower and The Gaunt Summoner!

I'm in the home stretch of finishing all the models in Warhammer Quest Silver Tower! Now that these three heroes and the Gaunt Summoner finished, I've only got a handful of models left to paint. Unfortunately, they are probably the most complicated models in the set - the Mistweaver Saih, the Tenebrael Shard and the Ogroid Thamaturge. Next weekend I'm hosting a get together to play the game, so it'll be a race against the Devil to get everything finished. I find that a hard deadline really motivates to keep working on a project and I need it at this point. I've got some projects lined up that I really want to get cracking on, but I need to finish Silver Tower first.

It's like Charlie's Angels, but with less hair and more Chaos.
First up is the Darkoath Chieftain. This guy is your quintessential Conan-type barbarian and was one of the models that really got me excited about the new editon. He's a huge step up from the old barbarians in Heroquest and the original Warhammer Quest. He painted up fairly quickly and is ready to cut a bloody swath through the Gaunt Summoner's minions.

"What is best in life?!?!"
Next on deck is the Excelsior Warpriest. "Excelsior" makes me want to say it in a Stan Lee impersonation, but I'll try not too do it too often for this True Believer. It is nice to see Games Workshop broadening the ethnicities of models rather than just scifi and fantasy worlds inhabited by English white people. It also gives me the opportunity to paint a variety of flesh tones and was a nice change up.

"Stop! Hammer -time."
I then grabbed the Excelsior War Priest's Demigryph side-kick to work on. For all the changes in Warhammer over the years, for some reason I've never been able to warm to the idea of the Demigryphs - I can't really articulate what makes me rebel against the idea, I just do. But the Warpriest's little bird-dog has me opening up to the concept. It was a fun little model to paint.

Talk about a Bird Dog.
The Fyreslayer Doomseeker is my first foray into Games Workshop's new Dwarf aesthetic, and I have to say that I like them a lot. The Fyreslayers have a kind of Aztec-meets-Norse feel to me that I find new and interesting.  This is a color palette that I don't usually use and it was fun to flex my painting muscles on something new. I'm not sure about how successful the protruding "brands" across the flesh of the model are - I like the idea, but it makes them a little busier visually than I think I like.

He's so hot.
Finally, I managed to get the game's main villain done - The Gaunt Summoner. He was a really interesting model to assemble from a technical standpoint. He went together super easily and logically. I was more concerned with how frail the model is and worried about breakage as I separated him from the sprue. In the end, I just took my time and it went more smoothly than I had anticipated. He was a ton of fun to paint and I'm really happy with the results.

"I must crush these mortal champions in time to star in Pan's Labyrinth Part 2!"
Wish me luck in finishing the last three models over the course of the next week.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Enter the Tzaangors and a Knight Questor!

The last 2 weeks have been a little slow for me, painting-wise. The final group of minions from the Silver Tower I had to finish up were the Tzeentch Beastmen, the Tzaangors. I knew these models were going to take me longer than all the others and boy howdy was that true. When I first saw the Tzaangors previewed, my inner 13-year old fat kid squealed with delight and it came out of my 43-year old fat guy mouth. The Tzaangors are just a super unique set of sculpts for a concept that's deserved it for long, long time and I was slightly intimidated about making sure that I did them justice.

Family shot! Or just 3 and you've had too much whiskey.
The wacky tentacle dreadlocks were a nice way to bring in some extra color.
I think the two-handed weapon guys were my favorite sculpts of the set.
Not making chicken noises when these guys are on the board is going to be practically impossible.

The Tzaangor are very intricate sculpts and were time-consuming to paint. I ended up painting each model on its own rather than as an assembly line and it slowed me down considerably. Each pair was unique enough that I did a test model and by that point I was half done the group. As a final thought, I will say that the assembly breakdowns of the Tzaangors felt a little needlessly complex and frail at a points. A friend who breaks models down for sprue casting described them as "GW just showing off at this point". They were much less "plug and play" than the rest of the set for only a slight gain in sculpting in my opinion.

I also finished up the first Hero from the Silver Tower - the Knight Questor. I will say one thing for the Stormcast Eternals - they are super fun and fast to paint. I wanted to continue momentum on the project so I chose the Hero that I knew would be quickest to finish.

He has the Power!
I am aiming to host a game of Silver Tower in Mid-October, so I'm trying to plan out what kind of time I need to budget to accomplish the goal of a fully painted set by then. On deck I have the Darkoath Chieftain, the Exemplar Warpriest and the Fyreslayer. Hopefully I can grind those fellas out quick so I have more time on the Aelf models, the Ogroid Thamaturge and of course, The Gaunt Summoner. Wish me luck!