Friday, July 24, 2015

Halo, the miniatures game!

In lieu of another WIP update on my Teknes faction (coming along very slowly), I wanted to bring attention to what I think may very well be another landmark event for the hobby.

One landmark taketh away, and another landmark giveth back....

The landmark that taketh away, of course, is the demise of Warhammer Fantasy.  The landmark that giveth back is the exciting introduction of Halo Fleet Battles, the miniatures game!

This post is not a review of Halo, just my thoughts on the impact it's going to have on the industry.  For an excellent review of the game, check out the Beasts of War Weekender video.

At about the 29-minute mark, Lloyd and the Spartan Games guys show the mechanics of the activation system.  This feature is one of the things that sold me personally on buying yet another game that I may never play!  o_O  The mechanic is similar to SAGA, where you roll orders dice and place them on a battle board.  Different dice faces, and combinations/collections of dice, grant different orders.  And you can accumulate dice from round-to-round, at the expense of rolling fewer dice, in the hopes of building up more powerful effects.

So, while the gameplay is an exciting prospect for me, I'm even more excited for what the game may mean to the hobby at large.  Having seen how X-Wing has attracted droves of people to the hobby, I expect another major IP like Halo will double down on exposing tabletop miniatures gaming to a more mainstream audience.

I predict that by next year, regional-size miniature games conventions will be split evenly across 40K, X-Wing, Halo, Warmahordes, and the combined Infinity and Malifaux.

It will be interesting to observe how well Halo competes with X-Wing, particularly with regards to the ready-to-play factor.  Next to the IP, being ready-to-play is one thing that strengthens the appeal of these games to mainstream players.  However, X-Wing can truly be played out-of-the-box, with pre-assembled and pre-painted miniatures.  Halo requires some assembly, and the models are pre-colored, not pre-painted.  However, Spartan did a splendid job to make the assembly as straightforward and simple as possible.  With minimal fuss, a non-hobbyist can be up-and-running with as little trouble as playing a typical, modern board game.

Pre-colored plastic will aid the visual appeal of the game.  While the plastic is pre-colored, it is not pre-primed, like Dust models are/were.  However, I suspect the difference is inconsequential to the typical hobbyist who is already motivated to paint the models.  In the end, pre-colored is a good compromise to satisfy both hobbyists and non-hobbyists and bring the game to both communities at an attractive price point.

Finally, I'm glad that Spartan Games cut their teeth on their own games (Dystopian Wars, etc.), before taking on the Halo license.  Working through multiple iterations of a half-dozen games gave Spartan a chance to mature and ready themselves for something on such a larger scale.  Plus, they were able to work through some of their growing pains, with regards to tightening their rules designs and professionalizing their rules production, e.g. typography, layout, etc.

In any case, I am rubbing my hands in anticipation, as my copy of Halo is already on its way.

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