Downtime Town On: Horus Heresy

By Kieron Gillen on April 28th, 2010 at 10:25 am.

He's a bad guy. Who'd have thunk it.

For those who’ve been following Alec, my and Mr Florence’s twitter, we’ve been rambling about the latest product of Fantasy Flight Games’ Games Workshop-licenced games. Specifically, a reimagining of the old Horus Heresy boardgame called – er – Horus Heresy. For those who don’t follow the 40k mythos, the Heresy isn’t one of those boring medieval ones where you get burned alive for suggesting hessian is better than hemp cloth or similar. It’s a Heresy which means THE ETERNAL CITY OF THE GOD-EMPEROR IS BESIEGED BY THE WARMASTER, CORRUPTED BY CHAOS. Which is a much better subject for a board-game than Hessian/Hemp comparisons, I dare say. Anyway, Rab’s gone and lobbed up his video review of it. No singing about Overwatch, Baby, but no-one reviews boardgames like Mr Florence. Video embedded below…

Earlier, talking with a friend of mine about playing 40k boardgames with understanding ladies lead to a serious consideration about how euphemistically that language could be used in a more intimate sense. As in “Go, slow – I’m on overwatch here”.

I’ll be quiet now.

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64 Comments »

  1. Saul says:

    I watched this an hour before you posted it, which means I can read your minds, which probably means I read too much RPS. Watching his review of Chaos in the Old World while drunk resulted in an instant Amazon purchase, but I don’t think I’m sold this time. His declaration that the game “isn’t fun to play” had something to do with it, which again brings up the argument about whether games have to be “fun” to be worth playing.

    I want to hear yours and Alec’s views on it, without having to resort to twitter. Can you tell us, please?

  2. Dominic White says:

    I’d be wondering what ol’ Rab had been up to lately. Guess I know now.

    Also, I want that game, unfortunately, I know nobody who’d be willing to sit down and actually play something like that without getting distracted after 20 minutes. Buggrit.

    The price is a bit offputting as well, especially as I hear it’s only about $60 in the US – closer to £40

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It says it’s 100 dollars if you order it from the actual creators. If there’s someone selling it for 60, they’re doing it at a very low margin.

      KG

    • Dominic White says:

      I saw a few places selling it for $60 over at BoardGameGeek
      http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/63543/horus-heresy

      But yeah, if RRP is higher than that, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • innokenti says:

      FFG tend to sell stuff on their site at a very large margin. The prices on Amazon and various specialist sellers tend to be much better…

      Still, Horus Heresy is, as a board game, doesn’t look as convincing as Chaos In the Old World I have to say. The latter has been very very fun to play. Deliciously evil. Horus Heresy looks a little more… tame and bland perhaps?

      Will obviously have to try it out if any of my friends get it.

  3. Monchberter says:

    First the tired Yahtzee and now Mr Florence,

    What is it about verbose game reviewers and the porkpie hat and Gordon Freeman beard combo?

  4. mandrill says:

    I seem to remember having a penis before I was a grown man…

  5. Jeeva says:

    I was rather interested when I heard my local shopkeep announce on twitter that he had it in, and more interested when I realised it wasn’t what I thought but something far better.

    Then I asked the price, and realised my bank wouldn’t allow me to play it. :( And was consequently sad.

  6. Latro says:

    This kind of thing makes me worried about the future where most of my reviews site go video.

    Cause I cant get past his accent :-/

    Not attacking him and whatever he is (Scot?), just that boy, if written articles are out and video reviews are in, I and I guess many other non-native English speakers are screwed.

    • Dominic White says:

      I recall seeing one of his earlier reviews on youtube, and someone had put up subtitles for Americans who had never heard a foreign accent before.

    • Dominic White says:

      Also, yes, he is Scottish. Full-on Glasgow Scottish.

    • RogB says:

      shock news: actual scots dont sound like Mike Myers doing Fat bastard, or shrek

    • Mr Labbes says:

      Absolutely. God knows I haven’t spoken to many people having such a thick accent, and it took me two or three minutes to get into that. Good thing that he only talks about “casual board gamers” at the beginning.

    • Finn says:

      I’m a non-native english speaker and I can understand him fine; unless he pulls some really obscure (for non-natives) slang I think everyone with a modicum of experience in English can understand too.

    • Latro says:

      I can understand parts of it. Some by context – the joke about the kind of game it was at the beginning, because he telegraphed it a mile away :-P

      But again, its more of my problem – “BBC English” I can deal with, this is kind of alien to me. And God knows MY accent would be awful. Thats why I like email and forums and blogs :-P

    • Zwebbie says:

      I always like such accents – I’m getting sick and tired of hearing American accents all the time.

    • Pod says:

      FUNFACT:

      Rab works for the BBC. He speaks English as well, so he’s tottaly 100% BBC English.

    • Rich says:

      @Zwebbie

      That’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked the voice acting in the Dawn of War games. The characters sounding almost exclusively British and the Orks using British slang makes it feel natural to me.

      Be they American or British, an effective way of destroying any immersion for me is using famous actors. Bethesda are terrible for it. I suppose it works the other way too though. The dad in Ugly Betty will always be Manny Calavera.

    • Jayt says:

      I hate this guy, he always makes me want to spend money on board games.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      While we’re at it with accents, what do native speakers think about the accent featured here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esTVVjpTzIY

    • Bret says:

      Manny Calavera makes you want to buy board games?

      I think there’s a pill for that now.

  7. Alexander Norris says:

    I will not complain about the current state of 40k canon. I will not complain about the current state of 40k canon. I will not complain about the current state of 40k canon. Despite the temptation to lament about how rubbish the current official version of the Heresy is compared to what it used to be, I will not.

    Anyway, glad to hear it’s a good game, but I’m not really surprised; FFG make very good boardgames. Sadly, they’re attempting to turn WFRP into one, which isn’t a good thing. :(

    • KikiJiki says:

      @Alexander it could be a lot worse, it could be as bad as the Soulstorm story.

      SPESS MEHREENS WE HAVE FEHLED THE EMPRAH comes to mind.

      That said, the ‘old’ 40k lore was pretty freaking sweet. It’s a shame that so much had to be retconned as it went, but to be honest who cares about space dwarves anyway? ;)

    • Eamo says:

      You can’t complain about 40k canon because there is no 40k canon. Everything about the setting can change or alter at will. Nothing is set in stone and players are encouraged to change or play with the setting however they wish.

      If you are trying to take everything that is published as canon you are kind of missing the entire point of the 40k setting. The whole point of the 40k background is to create a place where anything can happen, where nobody knows what is history and what is lies, where your allies are always suspect and your enemies are always heinous. There is no such thing as an official canon and bemoaning the state of a non-existant canon is a case of tilting at windmills if ever there was one.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      There’s lots of cannons in 40k!

      Wait.

      KG

  8. Magic H8 Ball says:

    Did you just link people to a demotivational poster?

    Also: I will not complain about the current state of 40k canon. I will not complain about the current state of 40k canon. I will not complain about the current state of 40k canon.

  9. Langman says:

    £70 for a board game? That’s an instant no-buy I’m afraid (even taking into account a few places will knock a few quid off that).

    Strange, in the current climate, that they didn’t reduce the production costs (making it all a bit smaller) and aim closer to the £35 mark.

    Shame, it does look good.

  10. Robert Florence says:

    ALEXANDER! I had to come in on this, on your “they’re turning WFRP into a boardgame” bit. I’m deep into a campaign with 3rd edition, and I must have gamesmastered about 15 sessions so far. 3rd Edition is NOTHING like a board game. In fact, it’s the most narrative roleplay heavy RPG you could ask for, outside Call of Cthulhu. Don’t let the chits and cards mislead you. They’re purely there so players can have all their rules in-hand and don’t need to reference books. I’ll have to write something up on the site about 3rd edition. It’s the best RPG I’ve played. The dice are an amazing innovation.

    Thanks for checking out the video, folks. I’m trying to speak clearly!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Totally missed that, Rab, sorry for not replying before –

      To be entirely fair, I base my impressions of WFRP3 solely on a 15mn demo I got of it at an expo and what a few people I know online have said. I’ve not been able to get my hands on a copy of it mostly owing to being broke, its high price and its complete lack of availability where I am (France).

      On a personal level, one of the things I dislike about boardgames in general and which does carry over to WFRP3 are the counters and cards. I’m not going to suggest they somehow “detract from the purity of the game” or anything silly like that, but one of the things I do love about WFRP and other dice-pool-based RPGs is that they require the smallest possible amount of setup/stuff to carry around. I can play WFRP2 with a piece of paper and a single d10, and on days where my brain is being particularly rubbish I might have to carry the core book with me. The rest I can just fudge midgame or design in 5-10mn before a session. Even D&D only requires a handful more dice and some more (admittedly a man-high stack of) books.

      So yeah, I suppose my point is even though FFG might not be turning WFRP into a boardgame, mechanically speaking (regardless of the first impressions I got from that 15mn demo), it’s still ending up with all the clutter I associate with boardgames, thereby making it less appealing to me.

      But yes, definitely please do a piece about WFRP3. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, in the absence of being able to give it a good whirl myself.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      WHRP has cards? We’ve been playing it just fine without them.

      I guess my GM didnt mention the cards existed.

      (see what I/he did there?)

  11. Robert says:

    He is crazy. In a good way.

    Needless to say, I now want to buy it. And then find new friends that would actually touch it.

  12. RogB says:

    why is *horus* bleeped? does he have a wierd pronunciation?

    ‘Horace?’ or ‘whore-us’ ?

  13. Chris Mac says:

    I think you need to rewatch the start of the video

  14. Sidorovich says:

    Rob Florence is a bloody brilliant broadcaster. All you southern jessies moaning about his accent need to check those comments at the door. More of Rob on RPS please!

    • Warduke says:

      No doubt, being introduced to his videos and website has been the highlight of my day! Well done.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Gah reply won’t work!

      More Rob please, I find him hilarious. Also, get Limmy on here, I always loved his bits in Videogaiden and Limmy’s show was freaky and brilliant.

  15. Gothnak says:

    I’ve been making computer games for 15 years, and i’ve been playing card and boardgames for about the same time… I own about 50 board/card games in total. After watching this review, i get the feeling that this game would work better as a computer game than a board game.

    Some games, such as Descent, Runebound, Arkham Horror, Tomb, War Of The Ring etc would just work so much better if all thr rules were computerised. Instead of each game taking 3+ hours, you’d have no setup, no checking the manual, no rules arguements and i reckon a game would be over in 1.5 hours, but you’d keep all the decision making.

    Now that computer gaming exists, i don’t think there is an excuse for making a boardgame that is too complicated. i know what he means about facing off against someone though, perhaps we need a hybrid with the touch screen table someone demoed recently. You get the social aspect of boardgaming with the rules/setup taken care of automagically.

    • Latro says:

      I agree, but unfortunately, we arent getting that kind of computer game either :-/

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I dunno – some of the things I’ve especially championed has been of this model. Take Cryptic Comet’s games – Armageddon Empire is board-game-derived, but is of a design which wouldn’t work as an actual against-humans game. As in, there’s too much for all the players to do, and the waiting for the other to finish would kill it – without even getting into the heavy maths. Solium Infernum has a simpler design in terms of rules, but would still drag as a board-game, I suspect – there’s a lot of Math in there, putting aside the hefty complexity anyway.

      But Gothnak – while Heresy is a complicated game, I’m not sure I’m not sure it’s one which really actually would speed up enormously – bar set up time – with the computer. It’s a game with virtually no maths in, for example – it’s all driven by choosing cards. What it does have is a series of oblique choices which means things can be a little counter-intuitive. It also pushes *back* its complexity – being card based means that while the rules which drive it are simple, the array of things which can happen inside the game isn’t – and you don’t really know what *could* happen until you’ve grasped all the cards.

      For example, combat is basically fought in a number of rounds. Each round, you play cards from your hand. The hand is basically half the strength of your units, rounded up. So if you’re a force of 1 fighting 10, you get 1 card to their five. You take turns using cards or using cards to block. Your options are always strictly limited to what you have in your hand. It’s a very tight, limited set of decisions…

      However, until you know what the enemy or you *could* have drawn, how to actually best play is illusive. It’s a very complex game, but not in a way which automation would help enormously.

      KG

    • Gothnak says:

      Solium Infernum has a lot in common with Diplomacy though, a case of working out your turn and then them all occuring at the same time. Tbh, if you were all face to face i think it would work even better, but i understand some of the maths would be pretty dull if you had to work it out yourself!

      Having Horus computerised would benefit it in the following ways:

      Being able to think about turns for much longer is you were playing over email. Also not having to clear up the dining room table if it overruns!

      Trying out moves and seeing the results without trying it just out in your head first. You’d be able to undo moves until you ‘submit’ them.

      Also, having the relevant rules directly to hand. If you are playing a card i’m sure it can pop up text explaining what different ruling mean, or where it can be played or what units benefit from it etc. Reduces complexity greatly.

      Finally, it means you don;t mess up the rules the first time you play. I know that i’ve done this far too many times to mention (Most Recently Marvel heroes where we got the mastermind rules wrong), which means the first play of anything is usually a test run.

      Ooh, meeting about combat… bye! :)

    • Dominic White says:

      One boardgame that WOULD be sped up immensely by having a computer version of it is the Doom boardgame. It’s remarkably good – kinda like a hybrid of Space Hulk and Hero Quest, but holy shit does it ever take ages to get all the map pieces out, set things up according to the campaign, lay bits down where the campaign book says, etc.

      Gameplay is relatively fast once it is going, but just eliminating the entire setup time would improve things vastly. It’d also speed up moving from one mission to the next – something that’s painfully slow on the tabletop.

    • Bret says:

      So, some kind of Doom… videogame?

      I dunno, I can’t see it.

    • Severian says:

      @ Gothnak

      I can completely empathize with what you’re saying, but it’s a hard one for me. Just last night, I decided I felt like playing a spot of solo Arkham Horror – and 60 min later, I was ready to take my first turn. Another hour later and I’d sealed a single gate. Uggg. Part of my loves the *feel* of a boardgame, seeing it layed out before me in all its glory – and part of me wishes I could automatize the infuriatingly mundane aspects of it.

      Side note: I played the Ipad version of Small World the other day and it was like an epiphany. Totally awesome. Not that Small World is a fantastic game, mind you (it’s good, but not great), but the Ipad opens up the world of computer-boardgames hybrids like nothing else before it, I think.

    • Dominic White says:

      @Bret – does Doom play like a hybrid of Space Hulk and Hero Quest? So no, not like that.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m sorry for being anal here. But I believe you mean that there is a lot of MATHS involved?

  16. Latro says:

    Oh, I got both Cryptic Games, and love them for being so board-gamey. But thats… 2. We have Blood Bowl, thats 3… and I’m running out of ideas. Any other clearly board game inspired games, anybody?

    • Gothnak says:

      CCG inspired are Shandalar (MTG) and Etherlords. Is Panzer General: Allied Assault on PC yet? Also there are a lot of competrised versions of German boardgames available from the boardgame manufacturers. Like Settlers, El Grande, Carcassonne.

      Finally, check out brettspielwelt which has tons of multiplayer boardgames to play for free, although not as polished as a full release.

  17. MadMatty says:

    i like robert florence, and also im a personal fan of the Scottish language :)

  18. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Warhammer 40k for small kids. That’s alright, I think.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I think you’ll find that Warhammer 40k for small kids is Warhammer 40k.

      KG

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      AndrewC says:

      At prices only big men can afford.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      At prices that small kids’ parents can afford and will gladly pony up to get TImmy to shut up about the bloody space marines.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I’d place my money instead on the 3rd edition if you can find it. Or, of course the 2nd edition if someone is crazy enough to want to sell it to you.

      But this whole plastic on cardboard Warhammer thing going on? I don’t know what that is. It sure isn’t Warhammer 40k.

  19. Jambe says:

    an reimagining

    Is this British English or just Silly English?

    I know, pedantic. But I’m curious.

    And this touches me in all the right ways. Even as a fan of 40k, though, I think I agree with Gothnak.

  20. Sucram says:

    This made me want to get out the original, but after climbing on my desk to get to my top cupboard I saw where it was and thought sod it.Persuading the Mrs that it’d be really fun to try would have been too much effort as it was.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      That’s much better.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Oh my god, that’s a gorkamorka box I see on the left. So much good memories, and the conversions you could do on the miniatures were endless.

      Ork vehicles ftw.

  21. wyrmsine says:

    I rather liked the space dorfs actually – got a squat biker on one of the local GW store’s give-away days. Thought it was the absolute dumbest thing ever until I someone pointed out I was fielded a harlequin army. That wee squat made it a proper circus!

    … I guess that was just too much fun for the grim darkness of the future.

  22. Magic H8 Ball says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    You can’t complain about 40k canon because there is no 40k canon.

    Dude, what.

    • Legionary says:

      @Magic H8 Ball: I assume his point relates to GW declining to outline what exactly is canon and what is not; their attitude is more or less that official literature, Black Library novels, comics, FFG background etc are all equally valid, or at least that they all provide ‘a view’. According to GW there is usually not ‘THE view’.

  23. Blackberries says:

    God dammit. I wish I had people to play board games with. Or RPGs for that matter. Or even local multiplayer computer games beyond Guitar Hero.

    :<