Saturday, 28 January 2017

Little House on the Scary Prairie

"The zombie in the hat is mine! See what I did there, pardner?"

Last weekend, my friend James and I played a couple of games of Shadows of Brimstone, a co-operative dungeon-exploring game in which a group of Wild West characters fight monsters from beyond in a mine, which seems to have opened a portal to another dimension. While the characters aren't all cowboys, and they don't literally do battle with Cthulhu, it's cowboys vs Cthulhu.

There are two parallel versions of the game that work together, much like Hordes and Warmachine, but on a much smaller scale. In the one we've been using, the players can choose from a sherrif, a gunslinger, a Mexican bandit and a saloon girl/piano player (in a nice touch, all the character classes can be male or female). You explore the mine, carry out missions, gain experience and improve your character, gaining profile increases and skills.

The balance between complexity and fun is pretty good. The levelling grants you access to a range of amusing skills and there is a real sense of increasing in power. Generally, the balance is well-done, although the final battle of each mission is clearly designed for four players rather than two, and we had to tone it down to make it possible to complete the missions. The missions were reasonably tough, and the second game was pretty exciting.

Shadows of Brimstone is very good, overall. My main criticism is that there are a lot of cards to be dealt to decide what happens next in the game: it's quite appropriate to a Western setting, but it also requires a lot of space. That said, I'm not sure how else you would do it: the cards are definitely preferable to rolling on endless tables. Also, while the cards and design are good, it seems that these big board games either have excellent models or excellent gameplay, and the miniatures in Shadows, while fine, aren't award-winning. I'd recommend getting hold of a few Black Scorpion cowboys to replace them. If you're a morally-compromised president, why not grab them by the posse?

On the left here is a man known only as The Gunslinger, (really Black Scorpion's Pat Garrett figure). Taciturn and deadly, the Gunslinger is feared throughout the West. Grown men have been known to break down when he utters his catchphrase: "I'm a rootin', tootin' son of a gun." On the right is Lorretta Lyne (really, I think, a Copplestone Castings model). Estranged daughter of evil railroad baron (is there another kind?) Bakerloo Lyne, she has returned to claim her inheritance, which probably involves a tablefull of 28mm trains.

I used a GW technical paint called Agrellan Earth for the bases. It cracks somewhat, giving a nice impression of parched ground. I suspect that it will chip easily, but it does look good.

In other news, here's H.P. Lovecraft the bartender, standing next to a Fallout sentry bot made from a Gates of Antares Ghar battlesuit.

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