Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Wargaming Year in Review

By all accounts, 2016 has been a pretty awful year. So many people are ready for a new year - and hopefully 2017 will be better. In regards to wargaming, though, 2016 was pretty awesome.

I'm going to do a series on here about the best things that happened in wargaming - things that I've seen and been a part of, at least. This is certainly not all of the best things that happened, but as a person who has tried a ton of different wargames, this has been my experience this year. I'm counting down from ten to one from good to best in my opinion, but some of them were definitely interchangeable.

On to the first item!

Video Games

So this definitely isn't a 'miniature wargame' item, but this year has been great for wargaming related video games. Video games will never replace our exquisitely painted hobby miniatures - they're mostly there when you've lost your painting mojo or can't get together with friends due to weather or schedules. It's also sometimes the best way to interact with a world whose wargame has gone off the rails - which you'll see in the first two suggestions.

Total War: Warhammer

This eagerly awaited addition to the Total War lineup came with a ton of hype and fanfare. They put out videos for months, showing off all the units and campaign information.

It's a really good game, with an 87/100 on Metacritic, but it didn't come without problems. They forced players to pre-order the game by making the first DLC, Chaos Warriors, free only to those who pre-ordered it. The backlash was huge - pre-ordering meant you couldn't wait for reviews, and this is a $59.99 game, so you're just hoping its going to work out. To their credit, they did make the Chaos Warrior faction free for a week, but it still left a sour taste in gamers' mouths.

They've since released DLC for beastmen and wood elves, plus other small updates as well. These packs are somewhat expensive, but I'll definitely pick them up on a Steam sale.

The game itself follows the Total War formula in terms of the campaign and the gameplay itself - but it is flavored in the Warhammer Old World that we all dearly miss. There is tons of lore, voice work, and art that sucks you in.

Warhammer The End Times: Vermintide

I have put a ton of time into Vermintide. It is definitely comparable to Left 4 Dead, in that you have four characters, there are waves of enemies to fight, and you can revive your comrades etc. It is also a first person shooter game.

This game, again, is set in the Old World, so you can continue to make that connection to a dead tabletop environment. Every level is extremely well designed with a ton of flavor. The characters are all throwbacks to characters you'd recognize on the tabletop - a bright wizard, a witch hunter, an elf waywatcher, a dwarf ranger, and an empire man at arms. My favorite is the bright wizard. She's got a lot of utility for the group, keeping large groups of skaven stunned and dying instead of smacking the heroes with their nasty claws.

The game doesn't necessarily have a progression system, but you do earn items and keep getting better items as you can beat harder levels, so you're always trying to get new ones. They're also really tapped into their community - they've done a free item per day for the month of December just for logging in.

If I had one gripe about this game, and its a dumb one, but its only skaven as enemies. I'd love to fight orcs and goblins, chaos warriors, etc. However, they have done a ton to update this game. It actually originally released in late 2015, but most of the updates and enhancements have been done in 2016. 

Space Hulk: Deathwing

This game just released for PC and it is beautiful. Up front: it does have quite a few bugs right now, so you may want to wait a few months for it. I pre-ordered it without trying because I love Space Hulks, I love Genestealers, and I love Terminators.

It is another FPS game. It is somewhat similar to L4D in that you're four dudes just strolling through a level, killing waves of enemies, but there are a lot of other, different aspects to the game as well - you level up while you play, earning new weapons and abilities; when someone dies, they don't go to a 'jail' where you let them out, they respawn on your group later on (and each death makes the timer longer).

We played a few levels last night and the game is pretty challenging. The genestealers come in huge waves and from all sides. While you do have a radar screen, it isn't always possible to face all directions when you need to. There is a small variety of enemies - ones that shoot bio plasma, broodlords, etc. 

The terminators themselves come in five different classes - librarian, tactical sergeant, assault terminator, apothecary, and heavy support. The apothecary is an absolute necessity - he heals his buddies and keeps everyone alive. I don't know if its possible to do the levels as all melee classes, but I'm sure there will be a video out of it soon.

The downside to this game is obviously the buggy release. They have been releasing screenshots and videos for a few months and they've all been beautiful, but the beta and now the full release are rife with bugs. Game crashes, lockups, and other more bizarre bugs are being reported. I really hope the company can make good and fix all this stuff.

The only other gripe I have is that the Dark Angels are so borrrrrrrrrrrring.

Ultimate General: Civil War

This game is a sequel of sorts to Ultimate General: Gettysburg. It is a real time game where you direct your troops to fight some of the most famous battles of the American Civil War. I have been looking for an ACW game for a long time that is accessible, easy to jump in and out of, and fun, and this is it.

The Gettysburg edition came out some time ago, and this game is basically building on that one and producing a more fully-fledged ACW game. The graphics kinda remind me of a tablet game - they're simple, but really beautiful and effective.

The control is really easy - select some units and mouse click them to where you want them to go. I do have some gripes. Units are stacked three deep, which didn't really happen in the ACW, mostly being two deep or in column. There are no formations, which I would love to see. The last thing I'd really like is if it could be a turn-based game so you have more time to work with all your troops.

Tabletop Simulator

This video game is really just a tabletop game on your computer, which is awesome. I don't get to play X-Wing much so I can play this with people who live far away. I can also practice stuff like Ashes or Star Wars: Destiny!

When it first released, it was a bit rough. There was a lot of custom stuff you had to do to get a game to work. However, the community has come together and produced a ton of easier ways to play the game - a lot of automated movement, card playing, etc.

I really like it for X-Wing, and I'm sure once I try it for Destiny it'll be a great way to get in some more practice. It did release in 2015, but my particular experience with it has mostly been in 2016, so I chose to list it here.

What are some of the tabletop-related video games you've played recently and enjoyed? Let me know in the comments!

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