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Arcane Legions – New shift in gaming or just a gimmick?

07/13/2009

Hi, my name is Will.  And I’m a game a holic.  “Hi Will!”  I’m the guy who finds some obscure miniature game from France, buys the rule book, 2 starter armies and can never get anyone to play it with me.  My gaming ADHD is renown worldwide (well gaming friend circle wide at least) and you can be sure that from week to week I change my new “hot awesome game choice” frequently.

That being said, let’s talk about Arcane Legions.  Craig and Russ brought in the Origins demo copy to the game store for our game night.  I have been following these guys for a while and have been pretty excited about it.  I’m even their friend on facebook!  Anyways, it’s developed by some of the ex-Wiz Kid guys that were let go when Topps killed the company.  So Clixs fame.

Ok so let’s talk a little bit about the purchasing of the game.  So it’s a sort of collectible miniature, pre-painted, mass army, troop block miniature game!  Phew!  So you get a starter box with something like 115 figures for a really reasonable price.  There are currently 3 factions and the starter I belive comes with a little of all.  Then there are infantry and calvary boxes.  Each of these boxes contain the “common” fighters and are made of unpainted plastic and non collectible.  You know exactly what you are getting from each box.  Then they have the blister packs.  Now the cool thing is the blister packs are faction specific, so if you want a blister of Romans, you know everything you get from that blister will be usable for the roman faction.  Rares/Uncommons will come from this purchase plan.

But wait you say, I hate collectible miniatures games.  Believe me, so do I.  So if you buy the case of 8 blisters at one go, you are guaranteed to get every rare/uncommon in the set.  Oh did I mention that rares are painted?  Not the best paintjob in the world but comparable to other prepainted plastics out there not counting like Rackham stuff.  So for a reasonable price, basically the cost of a small warhammer army you can buy the entire line of a faction for this game including all rares etc.

Pretty freaking slick. 

Let’s talk about the miniatures.  25mm hard plastic and non heroic.  So they look kind of small against say a warhammer mini but in context they look great.  The commons are grey plastic, pretty detailed so the crazy hobby gamer in you can sit down and paint a squad and it will look pretty darn good on the table. 

The movement trays are bloody brilliant.  At first I was skeptical but now I’m a huge fan.  So each movement tray is the typical block infantry stand.  It has a bunch of holes in it though and special formations in which you can allocate the minis.  Each formation will differ and there’s even an online formation builder thing coming later.  Anyway, so the cool thing (and you can read more about it on their site) is that you allocate your troops to certain formations to give the formation it’s powers.  Sheildmen unit?  They can be put into marching orders which rearranges them for speed but not attack or defense.  Shield wall, they rearrange and form a block of shields so their defense is boosted but movement goes down.  Charge, change the formation one more time to forgoe defense for a spear wielding boost instead!  Bloody brilliant.  And as your unit takes damage, you pull of minis.  Pulling off the minis has your formation prowess go down bit by bit.  Love it!

Game Mechanics.  Well love the minis, love the movement tray thing but how does it play?  Well this was definately just a demo set and the demo mission was a bit dull and not very interactive but I can see the potential there.  Start doing some WHFB type setups and missions with objective points on the board and you can see this take off.  The dice comparison mechanic is pretty simple to understand and becomes real easy to do after a few turns.  The action point for orders thing is great as it combines the yougoigo and alternating activations into something that blends well.  You can order a unit to do 3 things, potentially exhausting it and causing a wound but having it really get out there or spread your actions across your army.  The metagame of combos will be super fun.  We don’t know what the point buy system will be like but with so many cool formations working well with others (Like the darn Eqyptian Necromancer touching the zombie platoon *shudder*) you will see some fun meta game and combos show up from game to game so I’m excited about that.

They have announced league play and supported play with prizes etc so the thing looks to have legs.  So, is it a new trend we will see or just a gimmick?  Personally I think it’s a solid purchasing model, a solid if a little “light” mass battle wargame, that we will enjoy for quite some time.  And at the price of 2 battalion boxes to get a full entire army, sign me and my gaming ADHD up!!

And here is the link to find out more info:  http://www.arcanelegions.com/news1.html

-Will

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