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At this point into my tabletop game reviews, it should be known that I like to weave my personal experiences into the reviews. I like to do this because it not only shows you how I find these games but the experiences I have with them. There are those out there who can write “cookie cutter” articles and be happy about it. Not me. I like reading material that has substance. So, a lot of these articles are full of little factoids and tidbits about my experience with those in the tabletop gaming industry and events.
Columbus, Ohio’s Origins Game Fair 2016 yielded a lot of contacts for me, that’s for sure. I went with a good friend of my and we were armed with our Magic: the Gathering Commander decks that we wanted to fine tune and tweak. And what better place than a huge tabletop gaming event? I felt like the fair was the perfect opportunity to network with professionals in the industry, to gain some insight on current and future games, and to gain some experience in the convention environment. I’ve been to many conventions before, but this time I had Boggsimus Games under my belt.
We walked around the convention, bought some cards, and optimized our decks, but it was apparent I needed to hit the booths hard by introducing myself and handing out business cards. I have found the being genuine with people gets you further than placing yourself on a pedestal and acting like you’ve accomplished great things. The truth is, Boggsimus Games, at that point, was a fledgling endeavor that would only grow if I marketed it correctly.
While patrolling the aisles of awesomeness at the convention, I happened upon a booth that was filled to the brim with incredible miniatures with bold and bright colors. It definitely caught my attention pretty hard. The booth was Cool Mini or Not.
As I was standing there practically drooling over the minis, an employee walked over and asked if there was anything I wanted to see and if I had any questions. Well, in fact, I had a million questions, but I thought it would be wise for me to give my card to someone and introduce myself; this was a company I wanted to deal with in the future! I was then led into the next room where game demos were being run. He told me to speak to ‘The Man in the Red Hat’. It felt rather cryptic, but I needed to introduce myself.
While over on this side of the event, I noticed a few of my buddies were helping with running demos for Cool Mini’s games, which seemed rather fortuitous if you ask me. Here I was, unsure of who ‘The Man in the Red Hat’ was because there were thousands of people walking around. I explained my situation to my buddies and they said, “Oh yeah, he’s over there!” And pointed me in his direction.
After waiting in line, I was eventually introduced to The Man. I said my normal spiel and handed him my card. He asked me if I had a website or any page that I post content on. I filled him in on my situation and let him know the website was forthcoming. He seemed rather impressed with my efforts and my honesty. He hands me a red ticket and tells me to take it to the booth in the next room and hand it to ‘The Man in the Kilt’. At this point, I felt like I was being led around by some rogues in a roleplaying game. I obliged.
The Man in the Kilt looked me up and down and said, “Just one minute, I’ll get your stuff.” I was caught off guard. I honestly had no idea what was going on. I replied, “what stuff?” But he quickly took off to find a box.
A box that he proceeded to fill to the brim with product. At this point, Boggsimus Games was somewhat a hobby to me, something I did on the side. But a major developer of tabletop games just gave me a box of product to review. I’ll be completely honest, it was overwhelming. And like all things in life, the timing became rather unfortunate.
After the fair, my web developer backed out of creating the site for reasons unknown, a few members of Boggsimus Games were dropped, and my day job’s workflow increased a thousandfold. It has taken months and months to get to a point where I am getting things back on track, and dangit, I am writing this review!
The Game: Impressions, What You’ll Need to Play, and My Thoughts
Cool Mini or Not’s Wrath of Kings is not only visually stimulating, it’s mentally stimulating. There is one word that encompasses everything Wrath of Kings represents: Intuitive. For those of you who are veterans of the tabletop wargames field, this game will seem familiar yet different in comparison to games you’ve played. If you are new to the world of miniature gaming, this game is a breeze to learn. You can jump over to the Wrath of Kings website and download the quick rules which will get you started.
Now, since Wrath of Kings is a tabletop wargame, you’ll need two armies in order to play. Because of this, Cool Mini or Not conveniently offers two player boxes that contain two opposing faction armies that can wage war against each other! What is interesting about Wrath of Kings is its choice in dice. Most wargames use the quintessential six-sided dice (d6). Wrath of Kings, however, chooses to make use of the ten-sided dice (d10). This slight change in setup gives the game an edge within its rules, which you’ll notice when you play. The increase in numbers increases the possibility of what can be rolled, which makes the experience a new one.
Once your armies are put together, you’re ready to play! Each miniature comes with its own stat card, which displays the rules for that particular model. These rules determine its effect in the game and what it can do. Some minis are going to be better than others, but remember, in groups, anything can be dangerous!
Now, movement and distance in the game are measured in inches, so having a measurement device, such as a tape measurer or a rule is needed. Models each have a certain length they can move, which will be represented on their stat card, so when advancing a model, you’ll be measuring its movement on the field. There are certain effects and abilities that also involve range, so you’ll be measuring for these as well. Again, if you’ve played a wargame, this is where most of the familiarity comes in.
Now, this game has a lot of design work behind it, which is its backbone. I am not saying the rules aren’t engaging and fun, I am saying that if you have a well-written game with poor design work, it tends to take the lustering glow of appeal off it. It is the game’s overall unique design that ultimately drew me in at Origins, so it goes to say that design goes a long way. I touched upon this fact in my review of Dungeon Crawl Classics. An aesthetically pleasing game draws people in and sets up a tone. We all imagine things in different ways and having a fleshed out the world helps with mental visualization.
Now, the game’s rules can be picked up very easily but what is interesting to me is the layer of depth and tactics that can be employed with them. Take Magic: the Gathering, for example, there are basic starter rules that can get anyone into the game, but there are sets and abilities in the game that add more depth and complexity to it, which can give the player who masters this tactical advantage.
Wrath of Kings is typically played as a skirmish style game; think of two factions having a small battle in the center of town. This mode of play allows for a quick game, which can be rather convenient with how busy our lives can get. However, there are different options of play that involve entire armies duking it out. Sometimes you just have to slap a boatload of minis on a field and spend the afternoon rolling them into combat.
What’s interesting are the Motivations that are added to the battles, which represent the reasons the battle is waging. Motivations determine the added rules and regulations to the encounter, which gives the game a more tactical edge. Adding these to the battles enhances the experience of the game so it doesn’t feel like you’re playing the same thing over and over.
I am a gamer who likes the flavor of a game; If a game has incredible art, story, and rules, then I am hooked. Wrath of Kings offers all three. It’s almost like they created a checklist and said, “Okay, we’re going to appeal to Boggs by having the following:
- Great Art
- Epic Storyline
- Intuitive Rules
And we’re going to set our booth up at Origins to rope him in and never let him go!”
Here we have a game that has appealing visuals, a battle-torn world of epic proportions, an intuitive ruleset, and elements of classic tabletop wargames merged with new concepts. All in all, I think this game hits a home run as it can draw in new players and veteran gamers alike! And to me, this is something that a lot of gaming companies should be striving for these days. There are a lot of new games emerging onto the market, so at times, things can seem rather flooded. However, if your product shines like a fiery beacon amongst the others, people are sure to be drawn to it.
It would be totally awesome if you jumped on over to Cool Mini Or Not’s Facebook page and showed them some love by throwing them a like. Also be sure to check out their website for more awesome gaming content!