Tag Archives: Miniatures

Galaxy Defenders – A Written Review



Designers:          Simone Romano, Nunzio Surace

Publisher:           Ares Games, Gremlin Project


X-COM: It raises hair on the back of thousands of gamers’ necks.  X-COM: It’s one of the finest sci-fi intellectual properties that’s full of nostalgia and imagination.  X-COM: It’s one of the most requested subjects for a board game since trading in the Mediterranean.  Long before Fantasy Flight announced the X-COM board game Ares brought Galaxy Defenders to Kickstarter, funded the hell out of it, and then delivered an enormous quality box stuffed full of thick cardboard and detailed plastic.  This is the closest thing we’ll get to an X-COM tactical experience and filling size 14 shoes can be quite the challenge.

Ares is the only company left doing massive coffin-box games that hearken back to yesterday and us Ameritrash gamers can’t help but eat it up.  This game comes with several large map boards, hundreds of tokens and tiles, and 28 quality miniatures.  The box is overflowing for the price and is leaking excellent engraved custom dice, two beautifully illustrated manuals, many player aids, and dozens upon dozens of high quality componentry.  The sheer volume and attention to detail is excellent and this definitely qualifies for that over-used labor of love cliché.




So is this a Jaguar and all chrome with a shoddy engine?  Hell no; this is a Ferrari, tearing the highway up as a team of Marines run roughshod over a horde of alien corpses.  This game excels on the back-bone of influences from previously released genre titles such as Gears of War, the D&D Adventure System, and even Doom: The Boardgame.  Players cooperate to control a team of Space Marines and are each assigned a specific character outfitted with gear, skills, and unique abilities.  Gameplay is scenario based as you will tear into a huge Story Book that contains a large quantity of scripted missions that all bear unique surprises and clever layouts.

Players will take turns activating their agent and then activating the aliens before play passes to the next agent.  On your turn you can move several hexes, attack, and perform an action in any order you wish.  Attacking consists of rolling either red or blue custom dice and looking for hits.  The defender then takes up a number of blue dice equal to the number of hits you scored and tries to roll shields to cancel them out.  There’s a few wrinkles and interesting tactical elements in that additional symbols trigger loss of ammo, jamming, and special weapon or character abilities.  Resolution is surprisingly fast once you get in a rhythm and wide array of effects are achieved with a streamlined and direct mechanic.

The system forming the artificial intelligence of the enemy is typically a crucial quality of cooperative shooters/dungeon crawlers and they can make or break a title.  This is another thing Galaxy Defenders gets just right as the invading alien force is activated via an AI deck that is reminiscent of the excellent Gears of War.  Some cards will activate specific alien types (Xeno Alphas, Aracnos, Spine Critters, etc.), others will activate all aliens that are wounded, and some will activate all aliens that are in close combat.  It’s dynamic and unpredictable and achieves a level of tension that many Coops struggle with.  Additionally, each alien has its own attack and behavior priority found on its stat card which grants personality and distinction.  Some aliens will prefer to keep their distance while others will want to charge in and hit multiple characters in melee.  It’s interesting and contributes to the mental wrangling of trying to assess the best actions for your team and how to approach the quickly devolving battle situation.




The single most important element this design has going for it when comparing it to its peers is the built in campaign mode.  This is the recommended mode of play as you begin at Mission 1 and will branch off into a series of different scenarios depending on your success or failure.  Specific events and effects will also change in a given scenario based on your previous mission and how well you did.  This is clever and a great way to create an over-arching narrative that gives each session purpose and meaning.  You find yourself wanting to push on and rescue that damn helpless scientist before a Xeno-Beta blasts him in the back of the head because you know they will be able to provide help and support on the follow-up mission.  I also am in love with the event deck that has you drawing a single card at the end of each turn.  This deck is pre-seeded based on the scenario and typically includes a myriad of interesting effects such as weather or erratic alien movement as well as a single card that has you reference the mission text to see a custom-tailored event.  This gives enormous flexibility and is where you find references to succeeding or failing the previous scenario and where that leaves you now.

The second facet of the campaign mode that is of prime interest is the experience system which has you ranking up in the middle of missions.  If you kill an alien you get to roll several dice at the beginning of the next round, looking for GD symbols to trigger a rank up.  This awards different benefits such as skills or tactic modules that provide special effects and powers.  It’s a simple and elegant level-up mechanic that still offers a wide array of options when selecting said skills without bogging down the game with huge class trees or an overwrought development system.  It’s sleek and fits snugly into the rest of the design in a perfect manner.



Galaxy Defenders features some of the most gorgeous and detailed map tiles of any game I’ve seen.


Galaxy Defenders is a mechanically enjoyable design with one of the best campaign systems for a game of this type yet it has an enormous monkey on its back which has kept it from hitting that next level. The issue is primarily that it’s a game which has been thrown into a backyard pond packed to the brim with sharks where it’s eat or be eaten.  Competition is fierce with a slew of tactical miniature games already filling the market as well as several monsters coming out soon.

Its biggest hurdle is the fact it’s based on a brand new intellectual property with no prior established setting.  It bears a strong resemblance to X-COM and certainly feels similar as signals move around the map which reveal aliens when they move into line of site, as well as signature elements like collecting alien weapon fragments to build energy weapons.  However, it doesn’t quite feel fully realized in scope or breadth here.   This release feels more like a solid pilot to an up and coming television show that’s burdened with having to lay the groundwork and establish the setting parameters before it can really break out.  It reminds me of my first viewing of the pilot for “The Wire” and how I was mildly intrigued but wasn’t hooked.  A few episodes later and a couple of Omar Little appearances in and I was stammering like a junky in need of a fix.  I hold out hope that Omar’s ‘coming round the block’ in the two recently funded expansions that look to introduce psionics and power armor.  The horizon certainly looks extremely promising in this regard.

Galaxy Defenders is a quality title that pushes nearly all of my Ameritrash buttons.  It provides tension and tough tactical decisions while framing the entire experience into an intriguing campaign story that features stellar character progression.  It has a high toy factor and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling of playing with GI Joes in your parent’s living room while still participating in the structure of a game and overcoming arduous challenge.  It’s not quite my perfect tactical shooter but it’s nearly a perfect dead ringer for X-COM and that should be enough to bring any thematic gamer to the table.

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Raid and Trade Review

Raid and Trade

Raid & Trade – a post apocalyptic game of negotiation and resource management for 3-5 players. From the ashes of a devastating third World War, a precious few golden cities emerge offering hope to those who struggle for survival in the wastelands. Players explore the ruins of the modern world completing quests, honing their skills and maneuvering for social status in order to claim a precious spot as a citizen with a Golden City.

To enter the golden city you must:

  • Become an expert: Reach 20 skill points.
  • Serve the city: Fulfill three secret quests.
  • Become a nobleman: Get the most possible character points.

In each turn, the players can spend action points to do several actions such as moving through the city, raiding buildings, attacking other players, and more. Each player has a specific skill — mechanic, trader, electrician, bodyguard and medic — and has his own unique items to build; those items can be traded off against other items or resources.

The board of the game is modular so that in every game you have a new map to discover. All over the map, the players find different buildings which they can raid. Each time a player raids a building, a raid card of this type of building is taken and read, which leads to specific circumstances taking place. The player will be made to make various decisions including important moral decisions! Upon resolving the various decisions, you will receive character points. The choices you make, for good or for bad, will lead to specific perks and advantages (or disadvantages) during the progress of the game. When raiding a building, you get resources (tools, scraps, mechanics, electronics, etc.). By combining these resources, you can craft items with special abilities. By doing so, you will advance your skill points.

Every player also gets secret quests of the golden city. To fulfill these quests, the players have to spend the resources mentioned on the card. To fulfill a quest will not only lead the players closer to victory but also give them advantages for the rest of the game.

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Slaughterball Review


Slaughterball is a competitive sci-fi board game simulating a brutal future sport where 2-4 teams of genetically-engineered super-athletes clash in a remorseless steel pit. Teams score points by making goals and inflicting carnage.

Three different modes of play give you control of how long the game lasts. Scrimmage games are the quickest, using identical rookie teams and a subset of the rules to help you learn how to play the game. Exhibition games add skills, edges, and unique pro teams to give you many more options. League games add support staff and let you improve your team over a full season of games.

The game includes rules for risk-based scoring, penalties, injuries, mascots, cheerleaders, physicians, assistant coaches, mavericks, 50 player skills (like Savagery and Immaculate Reception), 70 strategy cards (like Epic Fail and No Time to Bleed), and more. All of this adds up to enough strategic options to fuel hours and hours of thrilling victories and agonizing defeats.

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Armymals Review



It is a game of critters in tanks and they do “pew pew pew”. Our armymals are very special creatures: they drive tanks and have strong personalities just like the noble leaders of the past. In Armymals you will meet dozens of characters like Narwhaleon Bonaparte, Abrahamster Lincoln or Lionidas – each with its own unique artwork and thematic abilities. The game is an action packed, fast strategy experience. Brightly coloured tanks move across a hexagon-tiled battlefield filled with three-dimensional scenery representing trees, barns etc. The colourful board and the cute animals with a twist of historical characters make the game accessible to kids and hilarious to adults. We used the same principle while creating the rules, they have an increasing complexity to ensure fun for both beginners and hardcore players.


Armymals use an intuitive system based on a set of unique dice and cards to generate a different choice of actions each turn. Animals in tanks are able to carry out many orders: moving, shooting, accumulating energy, using character skills and more. To win players will have to collect Victory Points. They come from completing Operations, which are chosen at the beginning of the game and can be different each time. Depending on active Operations players will have to destroy enemy tanks, capture the flag, control strategic locations, complete crazy tasks from mission deck and more.

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Sails of Glory Review

Sails to Glory

Sails of Glory is a series of games that recreates naval combat in the Age of Sails (1650-1815). Based on the game system used in Wings of Glory (formerly Wings of War), Sails of Glory uses miniatures, cards and board game mechanisms, with a special deck of maneuver cards representing the different movement capabilities of each vessel. The game will be supported by a range of painted and assembled 1/1000 miniatures.

Players will choose their maneuver cards in secret, then reveal them all at the same moment. The card features arrows to be put in front of the miniature, then the latter is moved on top of the arrowhead. Several options on the same card are available depending on the wind and, with advanced rules, the sails used. After all ships moved, guns are fired from the sides of the miniature to targets in range.

The Wings of Glory game system has been modified and expanded to accurately represent battles at sea between the large sailing ships of the past centuries. The first series of Sails of Glory will be set in the Napoleonic Age. If the game is successful, in the future Sails of Glory will be extended to cover other historical periods, such as the Age of Discovery, the Middle Ages and ancient times.

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