Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Essen 2013: First Impressions #1 - The Russians Are Coming!

I’m following in Dale Yu’s footsteps here – and he has a long blurb on the start of his first impressions posts that explains his logic (which is sound) and intentions (which are good).

We’ll just skip that & get to the game previews – both from Hobby World, the Russian company who brought us my much-beloved Septikon – Uranium Wars.

World of Tanks: Rush

  • Designer: Nikolay Pegasov
  • Publisher: Hobby World
  • Main mechanics: Deck-building
Game Idea: Be awarded the most medals for destroying enemy tanks, capturing enemy bases & satisfying certain achievement awards (which work a bit like goals in Race for the Galaxy). It’s a deck-builder in the mold of Ascension with the changing tableau of draftable vehicles. The cards in your three card hand can be used:
  • as “money” to buy new vehicles/tanks
  • for their special power and/or assigned to base defense
  • to assault other vehicles & bases
You can only make one assault per turn – and all tanks in your assault must be from the same nation. (There are four in the game: Russia, Germany, France & the U.S.) Medals & bases clog up your deck while giving you endgame points. The game ends when one player loses all three bases or one set of nation medals runs out.

Thoughts: While there are problems with the rulebook (we had to house-rule the replenishing phase of the card tableau), the game is solid. This is not a difficult deck-builder – in fact, I think you could position this as a family-friendly introduction to deck-building. With three games under our belts, I think there may be a little more game here than at first blush – the achievement cards are worth enough to swing the game if you pursue them… and it’s easy to get distracted by beating on the other players.


  • Designer: Nikolay Pegasov
  • Publisher: Hobby World
  • Main mechanics: Flicking, asymmetric factions
Game Idea: Released in Russia this year with a name I can’t spell or pronounce, Desktopia was demoed at Essen 2013 (and at GenCon 2013) with plans for a Kickstarter campaign for the international version in January 2014. It’s a flicking combat game in the vein of Catacombs - except that the theme is delightful & different (you are actually tiny factions fighting over the surfaces & obstacles of the Giants – aka: humans! – with the options to use real objects such as books or pencils or glasses as terrain) and the factions each have very different powers & capabilities. There is an extensive book of scenarios & campaigns already included in the box – and obvious room for expansions and roll-your-own scenarios.

Thoughts: If you don’t like flicking games, this isn’t going to change your mind – but if you enjoy them, there’s some neat stuff in here. Accuracy & finesse is rewarded (there are penalties for knocking pieces off the battlefield) and you’ll need to combine your spells & passive powers along with your flicking prowess in order to win.

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