So those that know me, also know I’m a complete sucker for anything mecha. BattleTech, Gundam, Armored Core, I love the idea of chunky bots piloted to war all guns blazing as they stride into battle. So when Farsight, the latest game from Braincrack Games designer Jamie Jolly and developer Lewis Shaw, came across my Facebook feed with glorious robo-minis, I knew I had to get involved. Cue a couple of emails to the developer and before I knew it I was signed into the online board game simulator Tabletopia to go a couple rounds.
So firstly, the art work. Farsight uses full-art cards to represent the various units and specialists that players use to win the game. In a word, it’s gorgeous! Set in a futuristic warzone, the art reflects a gritty dystopia where corporations battle to keep control of a disenfranchised population. The minimal use of intuitive icons keep both the gameplay smooth and enhances the overall aesthetic of the game. To top this off, Farsight will have optional miniatures that just…look…stupendous!
That’s the body work, so how does the engine run? Farsight uses relatively simple mechanics for the combat that drives a player to victory. However, this simplicity is in itself perfectly suited to the most intriguing part of the game; the specialists. Each player will have a ‘shadowmap’, a mini-map of the main board, onto which a player will be able to secretly deploy elite units. These will sabotage enemy units, or reveal those that are hidden, or allow better control of the events deck (these are random happenings such as blizzards, fogs or heroic last stands that can change the rules for the coming rounds). Each of these units are not immune to danger however. Each have a known zone of influence, meaning you’ll gain some insight into their location, which in turn allows the assassin specialist to take them out.
It is in this double-game that Farsight truly shines. My first turns were fuzzy as I learnt the rules of deployment, movement and combat. But once I’d grasped how these mechanics all connected, suddenly the game was transformed into more than a wargame. On the surface huge lumbering mechs stalked through the combat zones but not with impunity as underneath it all, saboteurs lurked to halt my advance, or spies revealed my plans to crush a flanking enemy with a pair of hulks. I in turn could then try to triangulate the location of these hidden specialists and try to pick them off with my assassins. This constant cat and mouse, these ripostes and counters added depth to what on the surface appears a straightforward game of ‘kill the other guys’. However, the game still moves along at a fair clip, keeping the back and forth between the players up and the downtime down.
So Farsight looks great on the table, runs smoothly and has a plenty of depth without being stodgy. This is a great board game in its own right whilst doubling a as a cracking way for wargamers and non-wargamers to crossover and play a game together. Look out for this on Kickstarter folks!