I know I’ve said before that I’m a total whore for free games. That’s why I’m here at all – well, that, and the love of my adoring fans, who call me clueless and stupid and insensitive and racist (that last one I still don’t understand). But mostly the games.
So when Petroglyph Games offered me the chance to write a preview of their next three board games, and then get review copies when they’re available, it took me less than two minutes to decide it sounded like a good idea. After all, it’s free games.
The idea was, I would ask some questions, and they would answer them, and then I would copy the whole e-mail interview into a post and all my work would be done, then I would sit back and wait for my free stuff. The problem is, e-mail interviews are usually slightly more interesting than reading the warnings on a carton of toothpaste, and so my inherent laziness had to take a back seat to my desire to post something that didn’t make me embarrassed to go out in public. So now, here’s a paraphrased summary of Petrogylph’s next three games, complete with some inappropriate sexual comments and maybe a joke about the handicapped.
By way of reminder (for those of you who don’t have photographic memories), Petroglyph makes Panzer General: Allied Assault, which I enjoyed very much and my wife hated like a yeast infection. It’s a card-based tactical game based on a video game you can download to your Xbox 360. The World War II theme is cool, as is the modular field, but some of the combat can get a little tedious if you’re used to just rolling some dice and ending your turn.
This is important because one of those three new games is Panzer General: Russian Assault. In case you’ve recently endured some brain damage, or are currently on under the influence of powerful narcotics, I’ll explain the theme – it’s Allied Assault, but with Russians. But in the tradition of late-night infomercials, that’s not all!
Russian Assault adds miniatures. It adds other stuff, but that’s specifically what I asked about, because in a game where the cards are the units, miniatures seemed like a superfluous choice. But as the guys at Petroglyph explained, the miniatures let you see where you have tanks, or artillery units, or foot soldiers, but not whores, because while they were definitely part of the war experience, they’re just not that useful in a fight. I don’t know what those miniatures look like, or the scale, or pretty much anything else, but I do know they’ll make it a lot easier to tell, at a glance, whether you’re going to get completely mutilated if you attack those infantrymen banging the hookers in the little village in the middle of the map.
Because you may not all have played Panzer General: Allied Assault, you may not get what an improvement those minis will be. In every game I played, the whole thing was slowed way down as I checked over every card to see if the enemy had artillery in range. These figures will improve the game a bunch. I’m assuming there are other cool things in Russian Assault, but I’m kind of a plastic junkie, so I got all giddy about the minis and forgot to ask about anything else.
If you dig the cards-as-tanks concept, but can’t really get behind an historical wargame, Petroglyph has you covered. Guardians of Graxia takes the modular board and card-based tactics and converts it to a fantasy theme. They have all the usual suspects that have been running around in tights and pointy hats since Tolkien - elves, dwarves, orcs and undead – but then it adds the Boneshadow and the Celethreals. You can tell from the names of these races that they are completely different from anything you’ve ever seen. Yes, that was sarcasm.
I’ll confess that the theme of Guardians of Graxia sounds like a complete retread to me, but the adaptations from Panzer General are going to be sweet. The board is built from the modular squares, but now they’re offset, creating a pseudo-hexagonal thing that should offer lots of new tactical options. Plus all the various dudes have different abilities, and you can build your deck to include the devastating combos that will make you the coolest kid at your Friday night Magic: The Gathering club. You’ll have physical and magical attacks, and shield spells to block damage, and all kinds of goobery fantasy abilities that will make you want to rescue princesses while wearing a battle skirt.
This Graxia place is also the center of the third game from Petroglyph, called Heroes of Graxia. Unlike the tactical wargames, Heroes is actually a deckbuilding game. Think Dominion or Thunderstone, but with beatdowns. The main reason you’re buying the cards is to use them to do bodily harm to your opponents (not literally – I don’t recommend you try to use playing cards as weapons. That could end in injuries to yourself, or worse, bent cards). I’ve said before that deckbuilding games are going to be the Next Big Thing, and Heroes of Graxia seems ready to show how psychic I am. Next thing you know, I’ll have a call-in hotline and a late-night cable show, and I’ll tell you where your uncle left his life insurance policy.
The Petroglyph guys tell me that the various games offer a wide variety of depth and complexity. They’re coming out with a pretty cool variety of games, and there should be a little something for almost anyone, unless you totally hate themed games and really just want to make farms with wooden cubes or deliver mail.
According to Petroglyph, their games should be available at GenCon, so if you’re going to the big show, you might be able to play some demos and see what you think. If my review copies show up before then, I’ll try to tell you what I think before you drop your hard-earned money for them at the con, assuming you’re going to the con, which I am not.
Unfortunately, we've come to the end of the preview, and I never did manage to shoe-horn in a gimp joke. I'll try harder for Friday's article.