Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Product Review - 'Strange Aeons: A Miniature Skirmish Game of Eldritch Horror'

The man himself: Howard Philip Lovecraft
As a little diversion I recently ordered a copy of 'Strange Aeons' which is a tactical skirmish game set in the disturbing eldritch universe of that wonderfully strange man, H.P. Lovecraft. 

The rulebook is coil bound which makes it great for accessing rules without breaking the spine after hard use.
Not wanting to simplify matters too much, but broadly speaking 'Strange Aeons' is akin to GW's 'Mordheim/Necromunda' except with tentacles, tommy guns and little chance of a happy ending. (So pretty much spot on for any fan of the nihilistic Cthulhu mythos!) The rules call for each player to create and equip a team of investigators, lead by a suitably courageous hero (usually 2-5 figures). Each scenario requires that one of the players run the forces of evil (the badies can be fine-tuned by players to fit the scenario) while the other player (or players) takes in their team to attempt to defeat the dark menace awaiting them.

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A Hound of Tindalos I poached from  'The Mansion of Madness' boardgame by Fantasy Flight Games.
The rules themselves are very easy to learn and fast to play, with a typical game lasting around 30-40 minutes (we've played four games back-to-back in an evening, no problem). This allows everyone to both take in their investigator teams while also getting a chance to play the evil side. Players keep track of  treasure, equipment, wounds, spells, etc. and basically try to keep their team of investigators healthy and reasonably sane. Fun!

There is a stripped-down version of the rules on the Strange Aeons website to allow you to try before you buy. Very civilized that.



The author of the rules, 'Uncle Mike', also provides an excellent range of 28mm miniatures  all cast in white resin. While some of them require some preparatory filing and cleaning they are all very characterful, well designed and paint up very nicely.


A Deep One from Strange Aeons.
As I was already in the midst of painting WWI figures for my other project I decided to make use of them and so bodged together several interlinked scenarios set in the opening weeks of the Great War. The premise is centered around a scholarly Belgian priest who has been driven mad with grief and rage witnessing the brutal sack of Louvain. As a consequence he has made off with a forbidden Dark Tome from the smoking ruins of the University Library. The poor insane priest has reasoned that since his god has forsaken both him and his country he will access this Dark Tome to summon 'another power' to protect his people. (Cue  here foreboding organ music) 

A Cultist High Priest from Strange Aeons
The heroes are the remnants of a Belgian Carabinier unit who have been recruited by one of the mad priest's colleagues, an army chaplain, to help foil this dark plan. Yes, yes, its all very overwrought but great fun.

A sample from Strange Aeon's grave marker pack (I mounted them on Litko pill-shaped bases). There are tombstones for Edgar Alan Poe and Charles Dexter Ward as well - nice touch.
I painted this group of Strange Aeon figures in greyscale so they would fit in with my Great War Belgians. Though I'm a bit torn, while I do like them in B&W, I think I might paint this diversion in glorious Technicolor to provide a little levity from the mountain of monochrome WWI stuff I still have to do.

Anyway, if you're a fan of the Cthulhu gaming universe and want a nice, fast scrum that doesn't require too much of an investment in figures then I highly recommend you give 'Strange Aeons' a try.

'Strange Aeons'
80 pages
$29.95 USD
http://strange-aeons.ca/


32 comments:

  1. Oh dear I feel another distraction coming on! I have made a note of the title; the question is how long will I be able to resist the temptation of buying more shiny new things?

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    1. Like those resisting Cthulhu, its all very pointless so just give in... ;)

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  2. Fantastic stuff, Curt. The gray-scale works perfectly no these guys. I love the background for the Great War setting of the game as well!

    The "Strange Aeons" game looks really interesting. There was a great interview with Uncle Mike in one of the episodes of the Jaded Gamercast podcast a couple of months back. Also, if you like Great War/ Call of Cthulhu crossovers, see if you can track down a podcast episode called "Dig for Victory" from RPPR - it's a cracker.

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    1. Thanks for that, Sidney! I'll definitely check that podcast out.

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    2. Found it, but its not available in Australia??? :-(

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    3. Yes, Uncle Mike is very much a single-man operation, mostly run out of his home I believe. Drop him a line and see what he can do for you for shipping.

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    4. Sorry if I was unclear - Uncle Mike ships to me here in Oz , as my credit card (and wife) can attest to! The "Digging for Victory" is on iTunes in the podcast section but isnt available to Australia.

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  3. Curt

    I have to say that it gave an enjoyable, easily played and goofy game. I also like that it uses a 2x2 game board. With a low figure count it makes a very portable game.

    Cheers

    PD

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    1. Thanks Peter. Yeah, it gives a nice game without too much investment of figures and terrain (there is only so much you can cram into a 3x2 playing surface).

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  4. I have a friend (yes really) who loves Lovecraft and has had a number of scenarios and campaigns published, will pass on the info to him

    Also agree the grey scale really really works with these guys

    Ian

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    1. Thanks Ian! Please, yes, have your friend take a look at the free rules - he might find it up his alley.

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    2. a friend who Loves Lovecraft... just sounds soo wrong

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  5. I am not the only one easily distracted by something new...

    The painting work is wonderful; you are really thinking in grey now, and these figures are NICE, very nice.

    Ah, thank you a lot for this "Product Review"... thank you a lot, I am becoming distracted...

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    1. Cheers Juan! I think you might enjoy the figures as they are very quirky and quite characterful.

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    2. I have visited the Strange Aeons page, and I´m thinking about to order a pair of Fishmen, only to paint them in soft tones of colour...

      I have been distracted!!!!

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    3. Brilliant! I look forward to seeing your work on them, Juan. They may put you off eating seafood for awhile though...

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  6. Cthulu now that brought back memories.. great figures Curt , very atmospheric

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    1. Thanks Dave! Yeah, as I said I'm a bit torn on what to do with these figures. Part of me wants to do them in colour but I also think they really suit the greyscale treatment as well. Maybe I need another poll!

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  7. This is a game I have thought about trying for some time...

    As for painting, I could look on this two ways:
    first up, the period is certainly set in the Black & White era, so will work well in grey scale as you suggest, and yet...

    secondly, the vibrant colour of the beasties of lovecrafts imagination, may well make them stand out more so against the 'regulars' if painted in full glorious technicolor!

    I'd be inclined to get the coloured paints ot again...

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    1. Funny, I was thinking along those same lines. Keeping the minor characters/baddies in greyscale and 'popping' the uber-monsters and heroes in full colour might give a neat effect.

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  8. Super figures and painting Curt!

    Christopher

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    1. Cheers Christopher, much appreciated!

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  9. Funnily, after reading your WW1 monochrome posts (and before seeing this one) I was thinking the same thing, but using sepia style colours. In the end I decided not to because all my terrain is in typical colours so that would look weird. But that is just my situation. Your figs look fantastic!

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  10. Thanks Paul. Yes, a sepia tone would be a very interesting effect, but you are right: one needs to have the terrain in the same context or it just doesn't work.

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  11. Nice write up Curt, and more great looking minis!

    Jason

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment, Jason!

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  12. Curt, did you know there's a Kickstarter going for Strange Aeons 2.0 right now? (In case you were interested in an updated version of the rules). Great idea to run your scenarios in a WWI setting too!

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    1. Forgot the link!

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/443527920/strange-aeons-2nd-edition

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    2. Haha! Yes, I've already jumped in with both feet, but thanks for thinking of me. In fact, I think Uncle Mike has featured this blogpost in his Kickstarter as one of his review articles.

      A great system for bump-in-the-night skirmish gaming.

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  13. "Uncle Mike" had a link on his KS page, back to this blog review, so that's what brought me here! :-)

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