Disclaimer: This preview was written after a playthrough of Farsight on Tabletopia with the publisher Lewis Shaw.
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.|
After Deployment each player can activate Assassins, Spies and Saboteurs in that order. Assassins are not deployed on the Shadow Map but instead can ‘Hunt’ in a square for a particular Specialist. If successful that specialist is killed and removed from the game, if not the opposing player must say how close they came to a hit, giving a nice feeling of Cat and Mouse between opposing assassins, spies and saboteurs.
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.|
Combat is a relatively simple affair between two units. Each player will roll a number of the special dice that come with the game depending on the attack or defence value of their unit, see image above. There are other factors that affect your dice pool i.e. did you attack the flank, are you up a hill, is either unit Armoured etc. and once both pools are formed you roll off. Each explosion symbol you roll does a damage to the opposing unit. Once a unit has take 3 damage it is removed from the game, simple. Neat little damage trackers help keep everyone clear about what is going on.
|The sides meet in combat, you can see some damage trackers on the mechs in the middle of the photo.|
Although the decks Lewis and I were playing with were very basic, I always felt like I had an interesting choice to make: where do I deploy the big guns, can I feint my way to a new objective, where is that blasted spy! The full game allows you to customise decks as well, building an army to your specification and tactics, something I look forward to trying. Alongside this customisation is a dice less combat alternative, ideal for those who want to get down to a game of pure strategy and tactics, with no random factors. The team has done a great job of creating an interesting design space for future expansions, and Lewis mentioned they have a few ideas in the pipeline.
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.
Farisght will be coming to Kickstarter soon, and will include some rather nice looking minis to put on the Battlefield when your units get revealed. If you are looking for a pacey, simple to learn wargame with tactical depth that won’t take 4 hours to play out to a satisfying conclusion, I urge you to check the game out when it launches.