Sunday, March 20, 2016

Board Game Campaigns

Got to play the Forbidden Stars Board Game the past two weekends. It's got a bit of a learning curve, but once you get past it your in for an exciting game. My first time with it was basically a throw away since we were all getting used to the rules. There are layers upon layers of strategic depth here. That's why I'm just going to go over a few of the finer points of the second game, and how it ties into using board game / campaign mashups.


This first shot here is a close up of the cover photo up top. For those familiar with the 40k universe, you can guess who the boys in blue are - Ultramarines, played by Ultrabob. The yellow are the Eldar played by OrkBossJo, red is Chaos (me, of course), and the green are actual Orks played by Jonny3Suns.

The game starts with tile selection. There's a lot going on even in the set up. It allows for a different map every game. It not only determines your start position but involves a layer of strategy in deciding what planets, resources, and objectives you want to allow easy access to or make difficult. Ground troops can't cross void spaces without your ships to act as bridges between planets. Then once the game starts each turn you get to give four orders, chosen from Dominate (resource gathering), Deploy (building), Advance (attack/move), Strategize (purchase card upgrades).

As you can see in the pic above, I'm surrounded on all sides in the lower left corner. Luckily I have warp storms protecting me (this turn) and thankfully the orks are fairly weak in this area of the map. For all this game's complexity the victory condition is fairly simple: collect four of your faction's objective tokens. Jonny3Suns (Orks) already had two objectives. If you've played this game before, take a look at the pic above again. Can you see how they'll win? We didn't. All eyes were on the big fight between the marines and eldar.


The space marines took out the eldar ships and forced their planetary forces into a bloody retreat. Meanwhile, I stepped into the system for the Ork homeworld and took their factories. I've got it made, right?

Well, next the shattered eldar forces fled the system entirely, thinking they were getting out of the way of Ultrabob's warmachine. But in reality they left an Ork objective completely undefended. The ultramarines missed it, too. All Jonny3Suns needed to do was walk in there free and clear, while taking a lightly defended world in my home system in the lower part of the map. It's exactly how the orks would win a war. I could just imagine two Ork Boyz who managed to survive their army getting crushed, driving away in a salvaged trukk when one of them says, "Hey, ain't dat da thing we been fightin' for da whole time?"

What does this have to do with running a campaign? This experience was so fun, so juicy with strategic depth, that I'd like to not only play it again but resolve the combats with actual 40k tabletop play. A few years ago I came up with a ruleset for utilizing Catan as a map for 40k campaigns. Never got around to trying it, though it would seem like this is the board game to use for a campaign. I think I'll try my hand at not only updating the ruleset for 40k 7th edition but to utilize Forbidden Stars. Also, if you're gonna play this game - and you should because it's AWESOME - set aside about 6 to 8 hours. Trust me, it's so fun it'll feel like 5 minutes. I'd start another game right now if I didn't need to sleep. Dammit.

All this leads me to another question. I've already used a computer game for the world map of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. So are there any board games out there that'd work just as well?


  1. If you are looking for a board game map that might work well for a D&D campaign you might use the one from Divine Right. Divine Right was made by TSR. TSR was the company that Gary Gygax founded to sell the original books of Dungeons and Dragons as well as both versions of AD&D. Divine Right was basically a game similar to risk only the armies were orcs, goblins, trolls, etc. And there were a couple of wizards in the game as well. The map was basically a D&D type fantasy land that was fought over by these armies.


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