Archive for the ‘Tabletop Games’ Category

Most of you know that I supported Serpent’s Tongue on Kickstarter a few months ago, and I’ve contributed my writing and design skills to the Gabrielsons so that they can get their game off the ground. I really enjoy helping companies – such as Fantasy Flight Games and WorldWork Games – complete playtests and come up with new ideas for their initial game designs. So I keep an eye on Kickstarter, because some really good games are coming out through that site, and it’s great to get in on the ground level to help new game designers get their product to market. It’s win-win.

Which brings me to my new fascination – Story Realms. Here’s their Kickstarter. Story Realms is a new role-playing game that goes back to the basics in terms of playing games, in that it completely relies on players working together to tell a great story. It’s very family friendly and works with children at young ages. I find the system intriguing and the art breath-taking. The designers keep everyone up to-date using YouTube and emails. Their blog (which I linked you to first) is a great way to learn about their background and their love of gaming.

Most of you know I own about 70+ board and role-playing games, and I continuously look for new ways to spin out fun to people I play games with. I’m also the father of a three year-old that hopes that one day, my son will play games with me. Story Realms may be that one way I can connect with him and teach him the thrill and fun of role-playing. My wife will probably also play – she loves games that tap into the imagination. Being centered on the story-telling world itself, it has a lot of great potential for campaigns and adventures.

So if you’re looking for a game that is simplistic but full of potential, you still have a few days to invest. You might want to drop $100 on it so you can get everything they are offering – they have reached the $60k goal and are working towards getting $70k to make everything hardcover. Your participation would be greatly appreciated.

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I’m sorry I haven’t been more active lately, but I have a few things going on. The first is that I’ve been tapped to be a creative writer for the Serpent’s Tongue game, so I’m spending a lot of my free time working on that stuff. The second is that I am presently in the process of getting a new job – I have the offer, but I have to pass the ridiculously long background checks for it to remain on the table.

Two things, both Batman-related:

1. Rush Limbaugh – my favorite Republican idiot talkshow host – decided he, too, wanted to jump on the Mitt Romney Bane/Bain discussion. What I find funny is that he did it without a sense of humor. Most people are approaching this with a sense of humor. Hell, even the Obama people have hinted it’s a funny coincidence, on the humorous side of politics (which actually impressed me so I laughed). Anyway, Limbaugh took it seriously, and some people made fun of him in return. Of course, some of Rush’s douchebaggy fans are now bagging on everyone with a sense of humor, because they have none (like that dude JohnK in the comments). It’s really too bad, because the satire and humor of the entire thing is lost on these sourpusses. The rest of us can laugh, because Rush Limbaugh is a running joke himself.

2. Some fool in Aurora, Colorado went all Bain in a midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises. Killed 12 people. Booby-trapped his apartment. What a whackjob. But that’s about all I’ll say about that – no name dropping from me. Fucker doesn’t deserve to be recognized by the media, but lo-and-behold, ABC rushes to identify him to everyone. So he’s literally famous now. >_<



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I’ve actually been privy to the next incarnation of Dungeons and Dragons, and I can say that I am very receptive to what they are trying to accomplish. I like what I’ve seen so far, and having something to actually try out before it becomes the next ruleset is great.

I re-evaluated why I was so hostile to 4e and I realized that while I had reservations about the rules, it wasn’t the rules that made me dislike it. What made me dislike it was that I approached Mike Mearls with a few concerns shortly after launch, mostly hoping for a few errata clarifications. Instead, what I received from Mr. Mearls was a two page piece about why 4e was the greatest achievement in D&D history; why his vision of D&D made all other versions look like – and I quote – poorly written children’s games; and how my vision of RPGs was largely flawed in light of his own vision of RPGs. Here’s how he closed his letter, too.

I can say with absolute certainty that Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons is one of the most successful endeavors of Wizards of the Coast. With a designed lifespan of ten years, I think you will agree that it is a superior product designed for the gamers of this generation. I take great personal pride in knowing that my vision helped lift the game out of the jaws of oblivion, and that Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons will be around for another generation to play.

LOL! Ten years? How about three? How about 4e is having one of the SHORTEST runs in D&D history? Unless the next generation is playing it at 4 years-old, I doubt it will be around for them.

So what I truly hate about 4e is not the game, but the designer Mike Mearls. He can go fuck himself. Anything he writes for WotC will be critically evaluated by me from here on out, and I will probably avoid purchasing anything directly created by him.

Since his vision is so superior to my own.

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Jerry – you know him as Tycho from Penny Arcade – drew my attention to a new RPG/CCG on Kickstarter named Serpent’s Tongue.

One thing I was not going to do when I started surfing Kickstarter was pay more than $25 for any Kickstarter project. I made that a rule to my Kickstarter backing. I was resolved after looking at so many interesting and possible brilliant ideas not to spend over my set limit.

Serpent’s Tongue made me break my resolution.

If you donate $45, you get the game with the RPG expansion stuff. So I bought into that. It soared past $18k in like 2 days. Now, as there is only 5 days left, it’s at $96k. That’s 540% funded! I was like “Wow.” The guys making Serpent’s Tongue were so impressed that there’s now some SERIOUSLY powerful stretch goals there for everyone who buys in at the Adept level (that’s the $45 level). I mean, I’m getting at least 40+ more cards, better quality, a Founder’s pin, an electric timer, etc. now that they have 5x the amount of money to do these things.

Seriously, if anything, you should go check it out if just to see how Stretch goals will help you push your funding goals. I mean, we’re now looking at $125k to $140k goals (although they probably won’t reach the $140k goal). The $140k goal will allow Founders to update their order from a plain leather-bound book to a larger hard-bound book for $10. It’s like going from spellbook to spelltome. These guys were looking at maybe walking away with $2k a piece when done. Now they are looking at maybe $9k a piece. Crazy, if you ask me.

This is What You Got if It Just Made Its Original Goal of $18,000

If you are an RPG/CCG collector, I will go out on a limb and say you should probably jump in now if you like what you see. Otherwise you’ll have to pay $60 or more when it comes out in FLGS. Plus, you’ll miss out on all the Founder cards/stuff. I like having my name in the FOUNDERS list, too.

5 days. You have 5 days left to do this.

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Okay, this is awesome, because during a summer session in college, I played a lot of the Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator boardgame. My friend Bryce owned it and introduced it to us. After awhile, he enhanced the game with Hot Wheels Starship miniatures.  He kept logs of our battles, and ships actually leveled up as we played.

Now, Wizkids is making a miniature game where you pit Starfleet against Klingons. Just like the game I played in college. Except now we can have all the proper miniatures to run battles.

Star Trek Fleet Captains

I look forward to it. As Bryce reminded me, we had an awesome time whittling away the hot summer nights running combat simulations with starships.

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There are times when I have to just walk away from board game discussions because people with opinions totally wreck the fun of having these discussions.

For example: Michael Barnes of Fortress Ameritrash.

I’ve been a member of the Boardgame Geek for such a long time that at one point, I had forgotten my password since my browser had automatically logged me in every time. When my old computer died and I had to restart all over, I had to remake my profile and ask Audie to delete my old one (which he did).  Back to the point – I ran into Mike Barnes rather early in my tenure over there. My first impression was not a great one, but at least I thought he was somewhat original and stuck to his point. I also ran into Mr. Skeletor whose fate is similar to that of Mr. Barnes, and I liked that guy, too.

What happened was this – Mike Barnes began to literally rip into everything that didn’t fit his perfectly molded view of reality pertaining to  board games. He made gaming companies who were profitable by rehashing old fantasy cliches his mortal enemies, and by association, all those who liked those companies and their games became his enemies as well. I am a fan of the Descent/Runebound games by Fantasy Flight Games, and Mike hates those games and that company (for his own retarded, sociopathic reasoning).  So eventually, we began to bump heads a lot, usually the discussions falling into Mike using degrading insults and strong language to try and force me to stop arguing with him. He carried that same behavior across many threads and articles on the Boardgame Geek.

I can say that I’m not perfect, and I used to do that. I used to troll a lot. When I was an Internet forum noob, that is.

Eventually, as when dealing with tiresome people such as Mike, the moderators banned Mr. Barnes. And Mr. Skeletor (although I have a feeling that Mr. Skeletor didn’t really care and loved being the “blah blah blah go away” type of person) was banned a little while later. So they quickly hopped over to Fortress Ameritrash. Mike Barnes kept debasing and being belligerent while being self-righteous in a pompous scholarly way without fear of reprisal (since he is somewhat a moderator of the site). Mr Skeletor merely trolls him without fear of reprisal due to Mike’s rules, which – to me – is hilarious.

The Banning of Mike Barnes* apparently pissed off a few members of the Boardgame Geek. But as I always say – you are beholden to the owners of the site, and if they ban you, it’s within their rights to do so. Time investment does not give you any RIGHTS to control the direction of the site, i.e. even if you spent countless hours on their site, adding to their community, you don’t auto-magically get the right to tell the moderators/owners how to conduct their site. Audie and his chosen mods have the right to ban who they please, control material as they wish and write the rules.

So Mike Barnes and his “D&D clones are fucking pieces of s**t and I hope companies who make the clone games die in a fire,” attitude (and people like him) can suck it. That’s your opinion, and it isn’t any more valid than anyone else’s. Your pompous pseudo-intelligent babble and self-righteous attitude is abrasive and unnecessary. I’m glad you got banned, and I’m sorry that Mr. Skeletor got banned. Save that Mr. Skeletor is now over at Fortress Ameritrash making your life miserable. LOL


*The Banning has its own ballad on the Boardgame Geek forums, which sparked yet another discussion of how “heavy-handed” the moderators are on the BGG. Not that those people bitching have any sort of platform to stand on – at no point does Audie or the others say that they will be fair and balanced. They aren’t Fox News, dipshits.

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Fantasy Flight is releasing a role-playing game called Deathwatch.

Being Space Marines of different Chapters working together to complete missions that are both mentally and physically challenging?

Sign me up. Nuff said.

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Time out from the blah blah blah of political douche-baggery that I normally write about to talk about something I’m involved in:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game 3rd Edition

(or as some people are calling it, “Version 3″ or “WHRP v3″)

Apparently, there is a huge amount of purism pushing people to protest this game. Granted, it’s a new system and a new way of playing the game that draws from the successes of other popular RPGs in existence (D&D 4e, for example). What I’m seeing is a similar negative response from fanboys/girls that I saw in another re-imagined franchise.

Fallout 3

If you’ve read any of my previous entries about FO3, you’ll see that I basically was disgusted in the fantard reactions of old fans of the original series (for example, the negative Nancys of No Mutants Allowed). I’m starting to see the same problematic fantardism arise from the old WHRP fans. I understand some of the complaints, but there are others that just don’t hold water (and are basically people bitching about having to use a new system because they are old people sitting on their porch yelling, “Get off mah lawn!”).

Here’s what changed in WHFR 3e:

  • Instead of percentile dice (2d10), it uses a lot of unique dice to generate results. Most of the action/result can be determined directly from what was rolled.
  • Making a party an actual character with stats (and a meter to keep parties from bickering too much).
  • Cards to indicate what actions or talents the PCs are presently invoking for the round. Cards can actually gain tokens that can be used to do different options on the cards.
  • The four races available out of the core set is Reikland human, High elf, Wood elf and a dwarf.
  • Careers are limited to the cards in the box.
  • Skills work differently, much like the Dark Heresy system of progression (basic, trained, etc).
  • There’s a Stance mechanism that allows players to determine how aggressive they are. Each class has a different stance set up. However, green always = calm and red always = fired up. It can affect how certain talents and actions work. Built out of small chits that link together, and tracked with a counter.

So, what are the issues that I see with the game (the legit issues, in my eyes):

  • Price. The price for the core set is $100. Or $120 for the expansion that comes out at the same time that adds careers and more spells.
  • Space. I see the space needed to play the game is restricted to a large area, with cards, sheets, dice and stance meters. Lots of parts involved.

And that’s it. Those are legitimate inhibiting factors when you look at WHFR 3e compared to all the other RPGs that use unique stuff. In fact, WHFR 3e isn’t even all that unique. So here’s the illegitimate complaints:

  • It’s a boardgame. No it isn’t. There’s no boardgame mechanics in the game. You’re just bitching that it looks like one because you hate the fact that Black Industries isn’t producing the game and Fantasy Flight Games is.
  • It’s fiddly (too many cards, too many counters, etc) to be effective/speedy. We don’t know that, since we haven’t tried playing it yet. What I see are tools – the GM only has to look at the table once to see what everyone is doing. New players can read from cards instead of having to bust out the rulebook and flip through dozens of pages to find out what which talent/power does what.
  • The percentile dice system is better. I’ve never thought so, and a lot of GM’s agree with me. Here’s why – people who know the percentage of chance to succeed at anything will more likely weigh all their character’s decisions on that instead of roleplaying. Not knowing the chance of outcome forces players to instead rely on “what would my character do” decisions instead of “Oh, I have a 50% chance of failing so I’m not doing it.”
  • It was great the way it was, why change it? Uh, that’s never an excuse for anything. Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games are businesses, and – like other RPG companies – move their games in directions of the money. Right now, card-driven, unique game systems that make it easier for new GMs and players to play are huge. So the games move that way. The old v1 and v2 of WHRP was not drawing in a lot of players, and was a bit of a pain in the ass for GMs.
  • It won’t capture the gritty feel of Warhammer. That – again – is bullshit. GMs create and run the setting, so it’s the GM’s job to set a gritty feeling. Or maybe the players don’t want to play WHRP in the old gritty fashion, and want to run a more heroic, high fantasy version? GMs can do that as well. Even if the new mechanics are slightly tilted to a more dynamic, faster style than the old versions, it’s still the GM who sets the tone of the world and the other characters in it. The GM is also the final arbiter of the rules and how the world goes.

What kills me are all the “this is heresy!” and “it ain’t Warhammer if it has pretty bits and a more dynamic system” type complaints. These are aesthetic issues that have more to do with player and GM preference than anything else. Don’t like v3? Then play v1 or v2! You are the consumer, you tell the developer through your wallets! But don’t sandbag and boycott the fun of everyone else looking forward to v3. Stop being a complaining, threatening, annoying shitbird.

It’s not fucking rocket science people. It’s a role-playing game.

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Hark back to days when Scholastic and a few other publishers made these books that allowed you to plot your own course through the story. Best known as Choose Your Own Adventure books, these were the nerdy kids greatest wet dream. I had a few of the basic ones that allowed me to travel back in time to help General Washington at Valley Forge, or explore an Egyptian tomb, or survive a forest fire! Other publishers made CYOA books for Indiana Jones, Doctor Who and Zork. Fairly basic stuff – read an entry, pick a action from a given list, then go to the entry that was listed with your choice. Repeat until you win or lose.

Later, as I got older, these books got more … interactive, as far as books go. They literally got me involved in roleplaying games before I first laid eyes on a Dungeons and Dragons book. These books were CYOA with a twist – you managed your inventory and/or used stats to fight battles! There was a series for Car WarsSwordquest, Lone Wolf, the World of Lone Wolf, Way of the Tiger (ninjas!), etc*. Above all, there were Fighting Fantasy books that were written by soon-to-be well known RPG authors, such as Ian Livingstone.

I still have a few of my stack of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. I think Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Deathtrap Dungeon. I kinda go back through them when I stumble upon them every few years. Nostalgic, I wished that they still made the gamebooks of my early teen years.

And now they do! Fighting Fantasy books are being republished! As well as the Lone Wolf series! I’m so OMG! If you’ve never tried one, I suggest getting one. This is the analog version of video game RPGs. And it teaches kids to read and think through puzzles logically. It stimulates the imagination. I’d even suggest trying a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

I spent a month trying to beat the Warlock of Firetop Mountain fairly. In the end, I had flowcharted the exact actions you could take for each outcome, and learned the various different non-combat ways you could win (there were two). Great books.


* NOTE: All those books listed? I had/still have those books. I have two Car Wars ones, a few Lone Wolf ones, the entire World of Lone Wolf series, some of the Way of the Tiger ones, and one Swordquest (Quest for the Elf King) one. I used to have three Indiana Jones and one Doctor Who, but I lost them somewhere.

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