I was given the opportunity to play the upcoming Farsight from Braincrack Games recently, a game of futuristic corporate armies battling over precious resources. I'm not very familiar with this particular outfit, so it was good to have a look at one of their designs and have a chat with Lewis Shaw, the head of the operation.
As you can see from the front cover, Farsight is in the giant mechs category of wargame. The battle takes place on a grid made up of 12, 3 x 3 sections. Each section has an outpost on it and the objective of the game is to maintain control of 8 of those sections for a full turn or the 3 nearest your opponent.
Each player's force is represented by 2 decks of cards: one of these has all the battlefield units in it and one has a number of specialists, we will get to those in a moment. Rather than drawing cards into hand every turn you have access to all the cards from both decks from the off, giving you a lot of tactical freedom straight away. Let's have a quick look at how a given turn plays out.
At the start of each turn the first player marker passes and a quick dice roll determines if an event occurs, a random card draw that affects the Battlefield. We only got one in our game but it slowed down all units with a Blizzard, substantially changing my plans for the turn. Stupid snow!
During the deployment phase each player can place one unit and a specialist: units are placed face down on your back line initially and specialists are placed face down in front of you. Apart from the Assassin, when you play a specialist you note it's location on your Shadow Map, a hidden Battleships style representation of the board. This will be on the underside of the game summary board, which is a nice piece of physical design.
|Game in progress on Tabletopia, main board on the left, Shadow Map on the right.|
Spies reveal face down units on the map and Saboteurs can stop a unit moving for a turn, both straight forward but powerful abilities. However each of these specialists has a restricted range and can't move once deployed, leading to an interesting deduction game for each player to most effectively use their assassins.
Once the Specialists are taken care of, it's time for the main thrust of battle to happen with units moving around and combat met! Unrevealed units can move up to 3 spaces, whereas revealed units can only move 2, barring some special cases. This 'Fog of War' style effect is another good use of simple mechanics leading to tactical depth, making spies not only powerful in seeing what is coming, but also slowing down the advance if used at the right time.
|A sample of some of the units that will appear on the Battlefield. Attack is the top number and defence is the lower. The Armour and Prototype both have the 'Armoured' trait. The Assault unit is fast and can move 3 rather than 2 once revealed.|
|The sides meet in combat, you can see some damage trackers on the mechs in the middle of the photo.|
The art throughout is excellent and the game presents a nice clear iconography to ease new players in and allow veterans to concentrate on tactics not rules. This philosophy shines through the whole game, presenting simple systems that interact to form tactical depth, something I really enjoyed. I am a sucker for elegance over complexity.