Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 11 April 2017

Amy Previews Farsight from Braincrack Games

Farsight is an upcoming 2-4 player strategic wargame, from Jamie Jolly and Braincrack Games, set in a dystopian future where corporations run the planet. Each player picks a faction to fight for control over the 12 cities that dot the landscape, you can play 1-vs-1, 2-vs-1 or 2-vs-2 games. Farsight is a relatively light wargame which means it’s very accessible, with a rulebook that won’t scare off less hardcore gamers, and for advanced games even includes army building rules. Farsight is fairly quick to play – you should be able to destroy your opponent within 60-90 minutes.

Each turn you will deploy 1 combat unit and 1 specialist. As you might expect, the combat units do the fighting. They start face down to simulate radar blips, and are only revealed once they get into combat, or by being spied on. You get a combat bonus for attacking whilst hidden, so it’s well worth setting up ambushes. Once revealed you replace the card with a miniature, which look very impressive from the pre-production visualisations. Some people may find it a shame to play a game with detailed miniatures that end up sitting on the sideline half the battle as they sneak around as cards.

The 4 troop types, from left to right: Assault who move quickly but aren't good at holding ground, The Prototype who is good at everything and probably a bit snobby about it, Armour which is good at holding ground against withering fire and Infantry who are.. trying their best?

One of the things I like the most in Farsight is the importance of movement. Attacking an enemy from behind provides huge bonuses to your attack, while crippling their counterattack, and if you manage to get multiple units into one combat then the enemy can only defend against one of them! Most units actually move faster while they are hidden, so your artillery can quickly get into a good firing position and new units can race to the front line. However, this can all be disrupted by Specialists, who can slow or stop units from advancing.

I think my favourite part of Farsight was using the specialists to manipulate the battlefield. Each player places their specialists on a dry-erase grid that they keep hidden. Spies and Saboteurs can be used to provide intel and cripple enemy units that move within their range, but, if you use them, then your opponent will know that you have a specialist nearby. They would mark this down on their board, and then using their Assassin they can try to take a fatal shot! The Assassin chooses a grid reference to shoot - a hit kills a Specialist, but if they miss then your opponent tells you the number of squares away that the nearest Specialist is. This results in a game of triangulation, narrowing down where the enemy spy is before finally putting a bullet between his eyes, it’s a very satisfying and well fleshed out sub-game.

Some cards do seem very strong, for instance Supply Lines seem a little too crucial, and managing to assassinate your opponent’s will give you a huge advantage. There is also an event system which struck me as a little too rare - they are meant to add some extra chaos, but in the game I played they barely seemed to affect us. However, the dice-based combat system is well balanced with everything from infantry, that are weak in combat unless they can flank and use terrain well, to giant mechs which are far more powerful, but considerably rarer.

A 4-player game in play on Tabletopia.

While I only got the chance to try the introductory game with fixed forces, I was interested to see what different army decks you could build. (I desperately hope that there’s an option to take 2 Assassins.) I noticed at the back of the rulebook there was an option to remove dice from the game completely for those that aren’t a fan of dice luck, which added a couple of features like artillery having to fire in concert to cause damage.

The struggle that takes place on the board makes for a good wargame, but it’s what happens off the board that makes Farsight really shine. The blend of hidden information with tactical and strategic wargaming is extremely elegant and is something that should make the game appealing to a broader audience than just traditional wargamers. Perhaps the most important thing is that after an introductory game on the Tabletopia platform, Farsight left me eager for more, in conclusion I’d say it’s one to look out for when it’s Kickstarter launches soon.


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