19 August 2010

Incursion, part 1 "Back in the olden days, Beta and pre-release"

I thought I could share the story of "Incursion", or at least tell the story from my point of view - take you back 2 years before I take a closer look and write a review of the game you can buy today.

"In the year 2000....." (Those of you who watch Late night with Conan O'Brien know what I mean). OK actually in the year 2008.

I had only been at the Grindhouse beta forum for a few months when Jim Bailey of Grindhouse Games hinted me that they were going to make a game set in the bowels of Gibraltar, with US special troops raiding a nazi scientist lair filled with V-gas zombies, and it would be kind of like Space Hulk (which I have not played) but still its own thing.

So not only was this my first time as a member of a beta team for anything, I would also be able to see the game grow and take shape on the beta forum for well over a year before it was released. And it was already half finished when it was posted for us beta testers to take a look at it. Models were already being sculpted and the board had a finished layout but no proper artwork.

Exciting process and a game that was new to me in its style - combining miniatures and board game elements. The game concept was easy but proved to be a lot of fun, I still think this game wouldn't be anywhere close of what it is if it wasn't for the battlecards and command points that add a extra layer of complexity and tactics as well as a lot of fun situations.

To be able to test the game we had sheets containing game components as well as the old pre-release rough gameboard. I think the components were the same when it was released for the public for a duration of time to allow people to try out the game for free, I know the gameboard was the same anyway.

Since most of the game takes place on the 1st half of the gameboard, or first side - I scrambled together a 3D gameboard- in retrospect it was a sloppy job that gave me a lot of insight and experience that I hope to use in the future should I make a proper good looking second attempt.

At least it served its purpose for the duration of beta testing up until the proper game release.

Most of the stuff remained the same from the 1st day of the beta phase up until the release, rules and missions were of course polished. Some things that changed towards the end was the amount of cards each player had in their hand. These were reduced a notch.

And then Reaction fire was implemented as an automatic "free" action, meaning that any friendly model without enemy models within LoS would end in Reaction Fire. Previously you had to pay 1 action point to go into this mode. The other change was the removal of "reloading" weapons. As you are firing at enemy models walking into your LoS when you are in reaction fire you are only allowed to fire as long as you don't roll a double result. In the release version your Reaction Fire ends, in the beta version you could reload for , I think it was 2 action points, and keep firing.

These changes took some time getting used to, for me at least, since I had grown accustomed to the old style. However I believe the intent was to streamline the game and not micro manage as much, it also made zombies able to get up close and actually do damage to the US APE suits once the APE rolled a double in reaction fire more frequently. It was almost impossible at the early stages, instead you had to block tunnels and try to flank the APE's with countless hordes of zombies. There were also occasions where the German player would enter the board into a never ending reaction fire creating an impossible situation for the German player.

As the game release closed in, all of a sudden GW decided to re-release their Space Hulk game, after 20 years or so of neglect. Release of Incursion was postponed, at one point it looked as if it would never be released in boxed form, rather it would be PDF download only.

Luckily GW in their "eternal wisdom" made the Space Hulk release a limited edition, it was also expensive as hell two things that annoyed a lot of people. The Space Hulk mania came and blew over within a few months. Most of the games were instantly pre-ordered and auctioned for twice the price on E-bay once it was released. Things looked better for Incursion, Jim Bailey had spent a lot of time and energy on looking for a place to print the game and for a distributor. The game was about to be released in boxed form after all. The rest is pretty much known, it was released in 2010, first wave was 1000 copies of which 700 were preordered and 300 were distributed to stores like West Wind. Since then a 2nd print has been ordered and the game lives on- and is praised by nerds, boardgamers and pulp lovers everywhere. Who can resist nazi-chicks with corsets and riding whips ordering crazed werewolves and zombies into battle against Detroit engineered US armored suits.

Since the release the game has been expanded with MI13 commandos and there are still stuff in the pipeline, like the floating brain-robot warrior "Drohne".

I also have a few comparison shots of beta components and the released product.

The stuff from my Incursion beta testing days all spread out. This kit was also used for demo games of Incursion during SydCon 2009.

Two pictures from the Incursion demo at SydCon 2009

I had to print the PDF file containing the game components and then glue everything onto a 1mm thick plasticard sheet which I then cut to proper pieces.

The cards have since the pre-release gotten a nice logo on the back, not to mention the thickness and quality is much higher than my beta-testing regular paper printouts.

The box has also changed haha

Since I had made the 3D board I didn't need to print out the beta tester gameboard. At this point I also had a full set of painted Incursion models so the little box "only" contained all cards, counters and the doors.

I also used my old 3D board for the Incursion demo movie I later posted on YouTube, you can see it if you follow the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRNPt7w32ns

In part 2 I will take a look at Incursion, the boxed game. 
Part 3 will take a closer look at the Incursion model range.

Be sure to check out Incursion on BoardGameGeek

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