Gen Con is all wrapped up now (meaning we can start looking forward to Essen) and the attendees will all be home recovering from four hectic days of gaming in Indianapolis.
As usual one of the most anticipated events at Gen Con was Fantasy Flight Games’ annual In Flight Report. Fantasy Flight, part of the Asmodee group are a behemoth in the world of modern board games and their annual update is where they announce some of their big releases for the coming year.
This edition of the report was a little different though. Breaking from tradition FFG offered a flurry of announcements in the weeks leading up to Gen Con rather than saving all the news for the convention. For many this meant that hype levels were higher than usual as it was assumed that they were holding something massive back for the convention itself.
While the announcements weren’t quite as earth shattering as some of the more excitable board game fans might have expected there was some big stuff in there that merits some parsing.
The first big announcement was that FFG would be opening up their own house dedicated miniatures team. Given the huge success of games such as X-Wing and Star Wars: Armada (the former in particular) this might not seem that surprising. However the announcement comes amidst a flurry of speculation that FFG’s licensing arrangement with Games Workshop might be coming to an end.
For those unaware FFG have, for a number of years, produced a range of products based on the Games Workshop’s Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes. These games included board games, card games and role playing games.
A dearth of news in recent months regarding the future of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, one of FFG’s Living Card Games, had lead many to assume Games Workshop wanted their Intellectual Property back. Given that G.W’s core business is the production of fantasy and sci-fi miniatures games it seems unlikely that they would be happy with FFG’s renewed focus on that market.
The presentation then moved onto a mixture of updates regarding current products and more details on the games announced in the run up to Gen Con.
First up was the announcement of a companion app for the excellent campaign/skirmish Star Wars game Imperial Assault. This was a widely anticipated announcement given their recent release of support apps for other games. If there was any criticism of Imperial Assault then it would have to be the weight of responsibility that rested on the sole Dark Side player had the potential to be overwhelming. Anything that helps ease that pressure will surely be welcomed by fans of the game.
Given the importance of the license to the company shouldn’t come as a shock that the presentation was very Star Wars heavy. Alongside the announcement of the app a new Imperial Assault expansion, Jabba’s Realm, was unveiled. Somewhat frustratingly the big slug himself isn’t actually included in the box to which he gives his name, but is instead sold as a separate individual miniature. However the box does come with an imposingly large Rancor figure which somewhat makes up for Jabba’s omission.
New waves were announced for both X-Wing and Star Wars: Armada featuring the high standard of spaceship minis we’ve come to expect.
And then there was Star Wars: Destiny. This was one of the new games announced before Gen Con. A two player dice and card dueling game Destiny will hit stores before the end of the year.
Notably Destiny marks FFG’s return to the collectible card/dice game format. The decision to go for that particular distribution model proved somewhat controversial. The word “shameful” was being flung about on social media.
While the random distribution model certainly isn’t for everyone the greatest anxiety among FFG fans was that this represented a threat to their Living Card Game format in which regular, non-random, packs are released to expand their respective games.
However FFG stressed the point that this format will go hand in hand the existing LCG model, including the current Star Wars card game, and thus put many nervous souls at rest.
With the Star Wars chatter concluded it was time to wrap up the show, and it became clear that the announcement of a miniatures studio at the start was to soften us all up for their final bombshell; the RuneWars Miniatures Game.
Launching early next year RuneWars will be a tabletop fantasy war game. The core set will include a range of unpainted minis which can be arranged into rank and file regiments. In classic FFG fashion it will include a number of command dials, movement templates (as opposed to a traditional ruler or tape measure) and large numbers of upgrade cards to customise your army.
Of course this announcement is probably very exciting for any fans of tabletop fantasy wargaming, but if those worried about the relationship between FFG and Games Workshop raised eyebrows at the start of the show they must have been positively terrified after hearing this news.
While no one outside the Workshop or FFG really knows what the future holds for their licensing arrangement the rumours that have been circulating for weeks now took on a new level veracity following the In Flight Report. The RuneWars Miniatures Game represents a direct challenge to Games Workshop’s main source of income and it really is hard to see how the partnership can survive.
And that was that. Almost as quickly as it came the report was over. The final flourish might not have been exactly what everyone was looking forward to but there can be no denying that it represented a big splash in the tabletop world.
Now, what can we expect to see in Germany come October?
If anyone would like to see some of the games mentioned above in action I highly recommend the demo videos from Team Covenant who managed to get a good look at many of the new arrivals.