The best games, or perhaps these days, like movies, almost all games, end up with expansions.
That is actually a very good thing.
If you have liked a game then having something new to explore within that game get it back off the shelf and onto the table.
If you haven’t enjoyed a game, well you can pass on any expansions – with a little willpower.
When it comes to miniatures gaming expansions, additions, add-ons, etc., are basically part of the genre. They are not just expected, but generally highly anticipated. People who like playing with miniatures covet more minis to play with.
I like miniature gaming quite a lot, so when I first played Aristeia from Corvus Belli I was quite interested and ultimately impressed.
It is part of an emerging segment of the miniatures hobby where players each control a small number of miniatures, maneuvering across a board, bot so unlike chess pieces on a grid board. Such games are very easy for players to grasp in terms of movement, and are ideal as an entry game to freer form miniature game options.
With the background of a well-defined gaming world Aristeia has a build in heritage to draw upon. The rulebook ‘fluff’ notes from the original game, “… 175 years into the future, humanity has reached the stars. The nations of old coalesced into federated blocs who proceeded to carve up any star systems found suitable for human habitation. Technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams, but its benefits are still available only to those who can pay. Synthetic bodies, artificial intelligence, a data network connecting planets light-years apart, miraculous regenerative medicine … The presence of all these technologies has enabled the creation of Aristeia, the high-stakes contact sport that’s sweeping the Human Sphere.
“Tens of millions of fans keep their eyes glued to their holo-screens for the thrill that this match could be the last for their favourite fighters, some of whom enjoy an unprecedented level of celebrity adoration on Maya. Aristeia is non-stop action and top-level athleticism. Get connected and enjoy.”
The idea of a battle arena watched by fans is not new reasonably starting with the gladiatorial games in the real history of our world, but it still works here.
There were eight characters included in the base game of Aristeia.
And since the game released there have been a rather wide range of expansions by way of new characters.
With new characters of course come new in-game abilities, and the potential to create new synergies with characters previously released.
It is the exploration of what characters compliment others on the battle board that has players always anticipating new releases.
So today, I believe there are about 30 characters released for Aristeia, and more are likely to come, so you can imagine the diversity to game play available. That is a massive plus in favour of this game.
It helps as well that the minis generally come fully assembled, with fine detail, so no gluing and painters have nice sculpts to work with.
We recently got our hands on a group of recent additions; Master of Puppets and the Chemical Brothers, both expansion boxes containing two miniatures, and then Lunah, an Elven Ranger cast in metal, whereas other minis in the range are plastic.
If you pop over to the game website (www.aristeiathegame.com), there is some great fluff relating to each of the characters, which will be a plus for those who desire an immersive backstory.
Now it should be remembered that expansions tend to add at least some complexity to a game, or in the very least new abilities for the new characters that have to be learned.
The Chemical Brothers, for example, add the ability to poison others characters, something not in the base game.
The Master of Puppets add fire, which wasn’t in the base game, and its effects are really explained unless you have the expansion Smoke and Mirrors. Without that you are on your cellphones look for rules the first time fire pops up, as we were. I can say that is a frustrating thing mid game.
Just for information Smoke and Mirrors added a couple of things, although we have note played with the set as its not one we have.
Smoke affects Space visibility, blocking Line of Sight without hindering movement.
A new State is added; Burning. While the blue side of a burning token is up, the player rolls an Orange Dice. For every success, the Character receives one damage, while for each Special the Character receives a new Burning token.
So from the original game, and whatever expansions you might have players select a team of four.
Each character as special skills, its own movement limitations, and learning how work your team to best support other characters is the fun.
Aristeia uses cards to add some randomness to things, with good moves potentially being trumped by the cards of the opponent. Randomness is not a favourite thing for me in general, but in an arena battle it helps reflect a level of mayhem.
The cards are a tad ‘busy’ with a lot of iconography to grasp, so there is a learning curve which will send you to the rulebook checking what things mean the first game, or two, although experienced mini gamers won’t get bogged down too much. A new player though may find it a bit daunting.
“Throughout five game rounds, players direct their character’s actions to meet goals of the scenario, earning victory points to win the game. The first player to collect eight victory points wins. Failing that, the player with the most victory points at the end of the fifth round wins. If there’s a tie, the player with the most frag tokens wins,” explains the rules, and that sums up the game, although different goal-based scenarios are part of the mix as you get into the game in more detail.
There is definite strategic depth to explore here, and more is added with the expansions such as Master of Puppets and Chemical Brothers.
Aristeia is a game with so many possibilities in terms of abilities. There are so many amazing minis to choose from. The company has a long history that suggests support for the game will be ongoing. It all adds up to a can’t be missed game for mini game fans.
I know I look forward to seeing more characters and doing more reviews in the future.
Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.