Monday, October 12, 2009

Arcane Legions

So while I wait for my Corvus Belli figures to arrive and I start assembling my Roman Legions, I've dug up a bag of stuff from the back of my room that excited me so back at PAX. Arcane Legions is a fantasy/historical game pitting (for now) the Romans, Egyptians, and the Han (Chinese) in a magic-filled battle for the fate of the Ancient World. I'm doing Romans (natch'!).

At first I looked at Arcane Legions and thought, "nah." I mean, the guys that did the Clix games, now back in the seat doing a historical/fantasy game? Clix were collectible miniatures with lame bases, and historical/fantasy is kinda cheesy. I like historical gaming (well, now I do), and I like fantasy gaming, but together can be a tough mix. However I really came around when I saw the demos at PAX (not to mention that the guys that did the Clix games did do Battletech).

I wish I had taken part in the demos, but instead I just watched, and spoke with a very helpful woman who worked for Wells Expeditions. Two things I still don't understand: 1) How the hell are these things sold? I know that some stuff is collectible, and some of it is non-collectible, but I'll be damned if I know which boxes are which, and I'll be damned if the website descriptions would help me with this question. As regular readers of this blog, or my friends, will attest, I'm no longer a fan of collectible gaming (with the exception of MonPoc), and so I'd like to know how I can go about collecting my Roman force.
2) What is the Centurion Club? It appears to be a subscription-based fan club that allows you to do cool stuff à la D&D Insider, like create your own stuff, and gives you limited edition, exclusive, stuff, but it never tells me how much this costs before it asks me for my credit card information.

The game looks very interesting. The models are a soft plastic that's bendy like many collectible figures, but the majority of them are grey plastic on a sprue! I clipped off the Romans and the Egyptians, and removed the pre-painted command/special models from their packaging and affixed them to the bases. The bases are pretty cool. They're these black rectangles and squares pock-marked with holes. Over top of this base you place a piece of card stock that takes up the whole top of the base. In this card stock are empty spots which reveal some of the holes on the plastic base underneath. On this card stock are numbers, directions of facing, and starting positions for your soldiers. You stick your soldiers (bases of soldiers are numbered) into the revealed holes with their numbers next to them and those are your starting positions. You're allowed to move the figs around on the base once the game begins and that allows you to access different abilities or skills.

For instance, the starting positions are ringed with dice, numbers, and symbols which represent defence, movement, skills, and hitting power. During a game I can re-organize my troops on the base, and for ever symbol with a soldier next to it, allows me to use that symbol (again, which represents a skill, ability, or movement value). Therefore my units can (and will) change during the game. It is a regiment-based game like Warhammer, and that appeals to me, it's also played on a 4'x6' (120x180 centimeter) battlefield, which is also appealing to a wargamer such as myself.

Pluses: The rules look simple, but smartly so. They look like they'll offer me many tactical options, but wont have me referencing the rulebook every turn like anything from Rackham (wow! What's with the Rackham burn, jerk?). The base mechanic is spectacular, and I think the way they did historical/fantasy is well done, and appealing to someone like me, who finds them both satisfying separate, but very rarely good together.

Minuses: The measurement in the game is done using a movement tray. There's something about that that irks me. I want centimeters, or failing that, inches; but to take a movement tray and measure my ranges with that? I don't know. I mean, it doesn't seem like a lazy last-minute choice, or an innovative mechanic, it just seems odd, and I can see it messing with my perception of the battlefield, especially when the battlefield's measured in feet.

The models also seem a little strange. They say they're 25mm, but they seem much smaller (~20mm), and they contained alot of flash. However, the most troublesome factor could be the type of plastic used. I'm hoping the plastic will take well to primer, and wont remain damp with it for ages like the figures from Last Night on Earth (which a friend painted, and while they look good, they feel sticky, and that's due to the type of plastic used, and how it reacts to having model paint on it). I know it's not necessary to paint them, but I'm excited to give it a shot. I'd like to add this point as a plus (even though, technically, I'm writing in the minus section); but for a pre-painted, collectible, miniatures game to allow most of the figures to be sprue-cut grey figures just begging to be painted, I think that's very cool.

It's at this point that I'd like to introduce my new rating system. I often speak of new games (especially board games) in terms of how excited I am to play these games. For the most part, I review games before I've given them a true shot. Usually a review is done at the time of a purchase, or a demo, and I've yet to finish the figures, or play a true game, so I'm often excited to get deeper into the game. Even when I'm deep in a game, such as Warhammer or Warmachine, I still may be excited to use something, or play a new version of the game, or whatever.

Therefore on the Wargamer Excitement Scale*, I'd have to say that I'm Excited to play this game.

That's all for now, I'm off to bed, and tomorrow I do some relaxing painting with friends after my hellish 9-hour school day.


*The Wargamer Excitement Scale
(1=best, 5=worst)
1 -Very Excited
2 - Excited
3 - Interested
4 - Not Excited
5 - Not Interested

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