April 30, 2012

Strange Aeons Test Drive

For the past 6 months or maybe longer Chris and Sebastien have been trying to get me to play a game called Strange Aeons. I have a love of horror and dark fiction, and have run games of both the Call of Cthulhu LCG, and Arkham Horror at various times. Both are excellent games, but are large in scale, difficult for new players, or perhaps just too niche to get some folks into. So I was interested in the premise, but didn't look into the game any further.

Having spent hundreds of dollars on Warhammer 40,000 and a only a little bit less on Hordes miniatures and books…I was reluctant to give it a try. Both of these games boast huge selections of miniatures, countless scenario and expansion books, and lots of room to exercise one's creativity when painting their figures. On the flip side however, they were expensive to acquire and build and it's time consuming to paint large armies for even a smallish battle. However, the biggest difficulty I have with both games is that I've really got no one to play them with. I've tried playing in a few organized events for each but just didn't enjoy playing against the power gamers, rules lawyers and nit-picky-obsessed strangers that seemed to be available as opponents.

Strange Aeons is a game that incorporates a lot of the facets of the Cthulhu Mythos into small skirmish-sized miniature battle. On Sunday, at the 2012 CCEE (I'll post a full article about the expo later), while helping out at the gaming area "Uncle" Mike dropped by. I've never had a game's designer and creator offer to give me a demo, so I figured it would be worth at least giving it a look.

The booth they had was small with some cool gates at the entrance. It looked a suitably gothic and dark place to be holding demonstrations of a game called Strange Aeons. They had a display case of some fully painted figures and a few demo-sized boards to play the game on. I chose to play "Threshold" (ie: the good guys) against Mike's "Lurkers" (ie: the bad guys). While the Lurkers can be all kinds of unspeakable horrors, in this case I was up against a band of cultists. Sounds simple enough, except that my agents were out-numbered by a little over 2 to 1!

While the demo was pretty fast, with Mike simply telling me how many dice to roll and when, I was starting to get a feel for things by the final turn. Two of my three agents had been destroyed and things were looking dark for my last one. Lucky rolls on my side turned the tide in my favour though and the final two cultists were torn to shreds at sword point.

I've only played a single demo game, but liked what I saw enough to buy a core rule book and a pack of Agents miniatures, as well as an Assorted Undead pack. Grand total for everything was $50, and I was given an exclusive H.P. Lovecraft figure as well. I'll likely end up buying some cultist figures, since they're cheap in terms of build points (BP) compared with the relatively high BP cost of the undead models I have; and they look pretty damn cool! Painting 6 to 12 figures for a complete game experience seems a lot more palatable, and affordable, than the 40k or Hordes alternative.  Also, in this game I can use whatever miniatures I have around the house to represent my characters...and no one will yell at me for it.

Will I like Strange Aeons enough to justify spending money on it? I'm not sure in the long run, but I'm willing to give it a shot. At least there's the possibility of actually having people I like to play against. So that's good.

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