OgreCave

Unplugged Gaming News and Views

December 13th, 2013

December 13th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
War of Omens digital deck-building CCG entering arena

There are almost too many crowd-funded game projects to count these days, but one in particular requires your attention: War of Omens by Fifth Column Games. If you read through the game’s KickStarter page, you’ll learn that War of Omens is a fantasy-themed digital card game with deck-building aspects similar to titles like Dominion or Thunderstone. Sound good so far? Here’s a few words about the game from Fifth Column’s Art Director, Colin Adams (who you may have seen on our staff page):

I have spent about a year on it, and we are super excited to finally promote it. It is actually really fun to play – we play it at work all the time (when we should be working). OgreCave speaks to the type of people that like this type of game, which is a deckbuilder kind of like Dominion.

The game provides three levels of AI opponent to face off with, and also allows 1-on-1 play. With 30 days yet to go, War of Omens is almost halfway to its $30,000 goal. If you want to get in on a new, digital constructible card game that has excellent artwork and a passionate development team fine tuning the gameplay, this may be your omen to pledge now.

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October 21st, 2013

October 21st, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: Boss Monster!

The Cave dwellers are lurking again, and have played a few things that need reviews. Therefore, let’s get started by meeting Chris and reading his review of Boss Monster! by Brotherwise Games. This dungeon-building card game is done from the viewpoint of 8-point console game boss monsters (hence the name) who must lure heroic victims into their carefully constructed deathtraps. Gaming culture references are everywhere in this game, and the art evokes the feel of old school videogames perfectly. See what Chris had to say about it here, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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June 14th, 2013

June 14th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming News Update podcasts: James Ernest, and Free RPG Day

We’re still having flashbacks to the great time we had at KublaCon 2013, and we’d like to share those experiences. To that end, we have two new podcasts for you to eavesdrop upon. In the first of two Gaming News Update episodes, we talk with James Ernest of Cheapass Games. The esteemed Mr Ernest is the designer of over 150 game titles, and he led the “cheapass” wave of publishing that swept the industry in the late ’90s. We talk with James about Cheapass Games’ return to the publishing arena, how a game’s theme and design are linked, KickStarting deluxe editions, and the design that’s kicking around his brain trying to get out.

Naturally, you have Free RPG Day 2013 marked on your calendar for tomorrow, Saturday, June 15. In our second new podcast interview, we sit down once again with Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions Advertising & Marketing (and Free RPG Day) to talk about the evolution of the event, how big companies sometimes get confused, flaming cargo ships, and more. From Paizo Publishing and Fantasy Flight to Lamentations of the Flame Princess, several fan favorites are participating in the annual celebration of roleplaying games, on once again at a game store near you.

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June 11th, 2013

June 11th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave reviews: Murder of Crows, Building an Elder God

Please welcome P.J. Cole-Regis (“Jude” to his friends) to the ranks of the Cave dwellers, as he has provided us with two new OgreCave reviews on this fine day. First up: Murder of Crows from Atlas Games. This quick card game has players compete to spell out “murder” before all others, and the winning card combo tells a random tale of murder most foul. Then we get a look at Building an Elder God by Signal Fire Studios. In the creepiest pipe-style game yet, players race to connect creature segments and make a twisting, turning Elder God before the other cultists. Click through and see what Jude thought of these two creepy titles.

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May 31st, 2013

May 31st, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
WildFire to release The Void RPG under Creative Commons license

WildFire, the company behind the stylish and award-winning CthulhuTech RPG, has been plagued with publisher problems from the beginning. Now WildFire has posted an update on its plans which don’t rely on a publisher to carry out. According to a press release from WildFire VP Matthew Grau (also repeated below), the long-awaited The Void RPG will be released for free download and under the Creative Commons license, allowing fans to generate their own materials for the game. Supplemental materials will be available for sale from WildFire as well at reasonable prices, but the core rules will be free online “within the next couple weeks”. A print-on-demand version will also be made available through DriveThruRPG. We’ll be interested to see how things develop in The Void community in the months ahead.

Read more…

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May 31st, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Diana Jones Award 2013 shortlist announced

Arguably the most interesting and best informed award in the game industry, the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming has just announced its nominees for the 2013 winner. Now, remember: Ms. Jones doesn’t limit herself to just published game items – everything from designers to companies to concepts are fair game. Here’s the rundown:

As you can see, that’s an RPG, a card game, a game convention, an RPG history book, and a YouTube channel show. Diana, you never disappoint us. As always, the winner will be decided by the Diana Jones Award committee, and announced the first day of Gen Con Indy at the end of this summer.

Read more…

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May 6th, 2013

May 6th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Tabletop game design contest at GenCon 2013

The guys behind Apples to Apples’ foul-mouthed cousin, Cards Against Humanity, have joined forces with Gen Con to present a game design contest. Dubbed the Tabletop Design Deathmatch, the competition will award $7,500 toward a first print run of the winning design, along with an exhibit hall table at Gen Con 2014. The contest/throwdown will take place at Gen Con 2013, where sixteen finalists will demo their games for judges, who will include gaming luminaries such as Mike Selinker (Lone Shark Games), Luke Crane (Burning Wheel), and the Cards Against Humanity team. The submission deadline is July 1st, so if you’ve been working on an awesome new game, you may want to jump in on this.

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March 25th, 2013

March 25th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming News Update podcast – Zombiesmith (DunDraCon 2013)

OgreCave newscasterToday we’re taking a look back at DunDraCon 2013, where far too much gaming pleasure was had by everyone who attended. Firstly, we have a Gaming News Update interview with Josh Qualtieri of Zombiesmith. It had been a while since we last caught up with Josh, so the conversation ranges from This Quar’s War and where the game is going next, to Kickstarter and why it isn’t always necessary, to the upcoming War of Ashes game and its factions – some already available to prep for combat. Have a listen, and tell us what you think.

DunDraCon 2013We’ve also posted a DunDraCon 2013 image gallery on our Facebook page, so be sure to take a look through and comment, if so inclined. If you become a fan of OgreCave while you’re there, in order to hear about everything we’re up to, that’s even better.

Other podcastery will be afoot soon, so keep an eye on our podcasts page for more info as it materializes.

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February 26th, 2013

February 26th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game releasing this fall

Paizo Publishing has enlisted the help of Mike Selinker and Lone Shark Games to create the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Based on the roleplaying game’s first adventure path, Rise of the Runelords, it will be a cooperative card game for 1-6 players. As the card game will attempt to capture the Pathfinder experience, Paizo says “As you explore and overcome challenges, you’ll improve and customize your character deck by acquiring new items, allies, weapons, and more.” The new card game will release at Gen Con 2013 at $59.99 for the Rise of the Runelords Base Set – nearly 500 cards. The base set will be followed bi-monthly by 110-card Adventure Decks at $19.99 apiece. This product line strategy seems similar to Fantasy Flight’s “Living Card Games” which continue to infuse their card games with new releases/expansions while shedding the frustrations of a collectible card game. The full press release is after the click.
Read more…

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February 14th, 2013

February 14th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Interview: James Wallis on Alas Vegas

Today OgreCave has a new interview with James Wallis for you, formerly of Hogshead Publishing. You know him and his games, like Once Upon a Time and The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and you’ve heard about the Diana Jones Awards he started. Wait, you say – didn’t he leave the game publishing business? Well, yes, but he’s back to Kickstart Alas Vegas, a new roleplaying game he’s designed. Just read the interview and all will become clear. Wait, you say – isn’t it Valentine’s Day? Yes. Don’t be weird about it.

2 Comments »

January 18th, 2013

January 18th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Lynn Willis, Chaosium designer and editor, dies

Earlier today Chaosium announced that Lynn Willis, the man who influenced countless gamers and guided a veritable sea of gaming products into their grateful hands, has passed away. His work on the Call of Cthulhu line alone reads like a greatest hits list of roleplaying. Here’s the press release:

We are sad to announce the death of Lynn Willis, a pillar of Chaosium, Call of Cthulhu, and of the roleplaying community. Lynn had been combating aging and illness for several years, and passed while in a hospital for treatment. He is survived by his wife Marcia, and a community of friends and admirers.

Lynn began in gaming as a board game designer, and entered Chaosium with Lords of the Middle Sea. He was the third employee of Chaosium, first as an editor and then as the mastermind behind the entire Call of Cthulhu line, as well as other projects, for the decades that he was among us. He loved his work and brought all his abilities to the job. He was incredibly smart, astonishingly widely read, detail oriented, and capable. He is largely responsible for the high quality, playability, and popularity of the leading horror RPG in our field. A complete list of his gaming accomplishments can be found at http://catalog.chaosium.com/pages.php?pID=10&CDpath=1&keywords=lynn

He will be missed. We trust that he is at peace. We give his wife Marcia our thanks and blessings for her devoted love and support for Lynn, and wish her joy and success in her future endeavors and memories of the past.

Charlie Krank, President Chaosium Inc.
Greg Stafford, Founder Chaosium Inc.

I only spoke to Lynn once or twice in my time working next door to Chaosium, but it was easy to get a sense of his passion for gaming – he was always tucked away in his office, cooking up more Chaosium goodness. He will certainly be missed. The staff of OgreCave wishes the best to the Willis family, and all the folks at Chaosium.

1 Comment »

January 8th, 2013

January 8th, 2013: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Forbidden Desert, sequel to Forbidden Island, announced

Earlier today, Gamewright officially announced the upcoming sequel to the hit cooperative boardgame Forbidden Island, entitled Forbidden Desert. As the press release (below) states, “In Forbidden Desert, players take on the roles of brave adventurers who must throw caution to the wind and survive both blistering heat and blustering sand in order to recover a legendary flying machine buried under an ancient desert city.” (Which, as you may have guessed, will be in four pieces, much like the four artifacts in Forbidden Island.) Designed once again by Pandemic creator Matt Leacock, the sequel game will release this spring, arriving first at the New York Toy Fair mid-February. Forbidden Desert will also imitate its predesessor with an attractive full-color tin while carrying a low price tag ($24.99).

If you missed it, our Gaming News Update podcast interview with designer Matt Leacock, from when Forbidden Island was released, is worth a listen for his insights on designing cooperative games.

Read more…

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June 8th, 2012

June 8th, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming News Update podcast – Free RPG Day (KublaCon 2012)

We’re getting the last bits of KublaCon 2012 out of our system at OgreCave by posting a podcast episode about Free RPG Day 2012. Since it’s coming up in just over a week on Saturday, June 16, you may be wondering what to expect from the annual event (now in its sixth year!). In this Gaming News Update interview, Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions Advertising & Marketing (and Free RPG Day) talks about the influence of Kickstarter on this year’s giveaway offerings, how Queen of the Demonweb Pits nearly got reprinted, melting candy dice, and more. Nearly twenty companies – from Catalyst Game Labs and Fantasy Flight Games, to Goodman Games, Paizo Publishing, and Wizards of the Coast – are contributing free goodies this year. Wouldn’t you like to hear more?

Free RPG offeringsDon’t forget to visit OgreCave’s Facebook page to check out our KublaCon 2012 image gallery, and while you’re there, become a fan of OgreCave to hear everything that echoes forth from the Cave. Also, we’ve been podcasting off and on for quite a while now – check out our other KublaCon interviews, or scroll back to even older episodes we barely even remember anymore.

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June 6th, 2012

June 6th, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming News Update podcast – Signal Fire Studios (KublaCon 2012)

It had been a while since we caught up with Signal Fire Studios, so we made sure to sit down with Jamie Chambers at KublaCon 2012 and hear what his company’s been up to lately. In this Gaming News Update interview, Jamie clues us in to the latest developments: the Building an Elder God card game; how the Metamorphosis Alpha RPG is progressing; makes a creepy mention of When Shadows Rise; gives us a description of the Pantheon card game; heck, Jamie even mentions the twisted children’s book The Very Hungry Cthulhupiller. And who could forget Ponythulhu?

Be sure to visit OgreCave’s Facebook page to check out our KublaCon 2012 image gallery, and while you’re there, become a fan of OgreCave to hear everything that echoes forth from the Cave. We’ll have another podcast episode up from KublaCon 2012 shortly, so stay tuned.

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June 4th, 2012

June 4th, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming News Update podcast – Crafty Games (KublaCon 2012)

KublaCon 2012 has come and gone, and OgreCave was there to get latest news from Crafty Games. In this Gaming News Update interview, Patrick Kapera of Crafty Games gives us the details on the Mistborn RPG, which has enjoyed an unprecedented level of involvement from Brandon Sanderson, the author of the popular fantasy novels. Then we hear about the SpyCraft 3.0-compatible 10,000 Bullets, a gritty modern setting along the lines of The Wire or Grand Theft Auto. Naturally, a quick mention of the game that started it all, SpyCraft, will be made. Patrick hints at even more as well.

Be sure to visit OgreCave’s Facebook page to check out our KublaCon 2012 image gallery, and while you’re there, become a fan of OgreCave to hear everything that echoes forth from the Cave. We’ll have a couple more podcast episodes up from KublaCon 2012 shortly, so check back soon.

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June 4th, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
2012 Origins Award winners announced

Gamers lucky enough to attend the 2012 Origins Game Fair this past Saturday got to see the winners in person (and apparently some chair balancing and other mischief from James Ernest). From all accounts, there was much celebrating and revelry in Columbus, OH, and the Calliope statue went home with many deserving companies. Our congrats to all of this year’s winners! (listed below)

The 38th Annual Origins Awards Nominees and Winners

Best Roleplaying Game
Abney Park’s Airship Pirates – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – “Captain” Robert Brown, Peter Cakebread, Andrew Peregrine, Ian Sturrock, Ken Walton
Arcanis – Paradigm Concepts – Eric Wiener, Pedro Barrenechea, and Henry Lopez
Ashen Stars – Pelgrane Press – Robin D. Laws
Leverage: The RPG – Margaret Weis Productions – Cam Banks, Rob Donoghue, and Clark Valentine
The One Ring – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – Amado Angulo, Marco Maggi, Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Francesco Nepitello
WINNER: Arcanis – Paradigm Concepts

Best Roleplaying Supplement or Adventure
Bookhounds of London (Trail of Cthulhu) – Pelgrane Press – Kenneth H. Hite
Dragon Age, Set 2 (Dragon Age) – Green Ronin Publishing – Steve Kenson, T.S. Luikart, Chris Pramas, and Jeff Tidball
The Great Clans (L5R 4th Edition) – AEG – Shawn Carman, Rob Hobart, Brian Yoon
Monster Vault (D&D 4E) – Wizards of the Coast – Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, & Matthew Sernett
Shadows over Scotland (Call of Cthulhu) – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – Stuart Boon
WINNER: Shadows over Scotland (Call of Cthulhu) – Cubicle 7 Entertainment

Best Board Game
Conquest of Nerath – Wizards of the Coast – Richard Baker, Mons Johnson, & Peter Lee
Automobile – Mayfair Games – Martin Wallace
Hibernia – Closet Nerd – Eric Vogel
High Noon Saloon – Slugfest Games – Cliff Bohm & Geoff Bottone
Pastiche – Gryphon Games – Sean D. MacDonald
WINNER: Conquest of Nerath – Wizards of the Coast

Best Traditional Card Game
Cthulhu Gloom – Atlas Games – Keith Baker
NUTS! – Wildfire LLC – Matthew Grau
Red Dragon Inn 3 – Slugfest Games – Geoff Bottone, Jeff Morrow, and Cliff Bohm
Star Trek Deck Building Game – BANDAI – Alex Bykov
Struggle for Catan – Mayfair Games – Klaus Teuber
WINNER: NUTS! – Wildfire LLC

Best Family, Party or Children’s Game
BEARS! – Fireside Games – Anne-Marie De Witt
Faux-Cabulary – Out of the Box Publishing – Matthew Nuccio
Get Bit! – Mayday Games – Dave Chalker
Scavengers – Zombie State Games – John Werner
Space Mission – Schmidt Spiele – Matthew Worden
WINNER: Get Bit! – Mayday Games

Best Miniatures Figure or Line
Forge Father Huscarl – Mantic
Giant Sized X-Men Heroclix – Wizkids/NECA
St. Luke – Dark Age
Storm Strider – Privateer Press
Zombie Wedding Party – Studio Miniatures
WINNER: Storm Strider – Privateer Press

Best Miniatures Rules or Expansion
Battletech: The Wars of Reaving – Catalyst Game Labs – Ben H. Rome, Herbert A. Beas, Paul Sjardijn
Carnevale: The Miniatures Game – Vesper-on Games – David Esbri
Light Bikes – Glory Games – J. P. Trostle
Street Fighter Starter Set – Wizkids/NECA – Wizkids/NECA
Tomorrow’s War – Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games – Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter
Warmachine: Wrath – Privateer Press – David Carl, Bryan Cutler, Doug Seacat, Jason Soles, Matt Wilson
WINNER: Battletech: The Wars of Reaving – Catalyst Game Labs

Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion
Legend of the Five Rings: Second City – AEG
Magic the Gathering : Innistrad – Wizards of the Coast
Pokemon Black & White: Emerging Powers – Nintendo
World of Warcraft: Dungeon Decks – Cryptozoic Entertainment
World of Warcraft: The Throne of Tides – Cryptozoic Entertainment
WINNER: Magic the Gathering : Innistrad – Wizards of the Coast

Best Game Accessory
Dungeon Tiles: The Witchlight Fens – Wizards of the Coast – Peter Lee & Jason Engle
Dice Earrings – GameScience – GameScience
Dungeon Masters Keep – Gale Force Nine – Gale Force Nine
Munchkin Zombies 2: Armed & Dangerous – Steve Jackson Games – Steve Jackson
Shadowrun Runner’s Toolkit – Catalyst Game Labs – Elissa Carey, Rusty Childers, Cole Davidson, Mark Dynna, Adam Jury, Robyn King-Nitschke, Adam Large, Drew Littell, Elizabeth Nold, Brandie Tarvin, Peter Taylor, Malik Toms, Michael Wich, Russell Zimmerman
WINNER: Shadowrun Runner’s Toolkit – Catalyst Game Labs

Best Game-Related Publication
Cliffourd the Big Red God – Atlas Games – Kenneth H. Hite & Andy Hopp
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design – Open Design LLC – Mike Selinker with Rob Daviau, James Ernest, Matt Forbeck, Richard Garfield, Dave Howell, Steve Jackson, John Kovalic, Richard C. Levy, Andrew Looney, Michelle Nephew, Paul Peterson, Lisa Steenson, Jeff Tidball, Teeuwynn Woodruff, and Dale Yu
Designers & Dragons – Mongoose Publishing – Shannon Appelcline
Untold Adventures – Wizards of the Coast – Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson, John Shirley, Jay Lake, Sarah Zettel, and many more.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons – Wizards of the Coast – Shelley Mazzanoble
WINNER: The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design – Open Design LLC

Best Historical Board Game
Strike of the Eagle – Academy Games -Brian Bennett, Uwe Eickert, Robert Zak
Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861 – Mayfair Games – Martin Wallace
Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles – Worthington Games – Jim Krohn
Lost Battles – Fifth Column Games – Philip Sabin
No Retreat! The Russian Front – GMT – Carl Paradis
World War II Barbarossa 1941 – Zvesda – Konstantin Krivenko
WINNER: Strike of the Eagle – Academy Games

Best Historical Miniatures Rules or Expansion
SAGA – Gripping Beast – Studio Tomahawk
Waterloo – Warhammer Historical – Mark Latham
Flames of War: Cassino – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd. – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.
Command Combat: Civil War 1861 – Bandwagon Books – Jeff McArthur
Force on Force, 2nd Edition – Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games – Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter
Hail Caesar! – Warlord Games – Rick Priestley
WINNER: Flames of War: Cassino – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.

Best Historical Miniatures Figure or Line
Bolt Action WW2 – Warlord Games
Italian Wars – Wargames Foundry
Sudan 1881-1885 – Perry Miniatures
Napoleon at War – Man at War
Tropic Lightning Vietnam War – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.
Anglo Zulu War – Empress Miniatures
WINNER: Bolt Action WW2 – Warlord Games

Best Play by Mail or Correspondance Game
Continental Rails – Production R Danard – John Van De Graaf
Hyborian War – Reality Simulations Inc -Edward Schoonover
Phoenix: Beyond the Stellar Empire – KJC Games
Cruenti Dei – Sardarthion Press – Thom Ryng
Heroic Fantasy – Flying Buffalo Inc – Rick Loomis and Steve MacGregor
WINNER: Heroic Fantasy – Flying Buffalo Inc

1 Comment »

April 11th, 2012

April 11th, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
A few Kickstarters to kick at

These days, everyone’s trying to fund their game projects with Kickstarter. Heck, it’s the hottest topic of discussion on the convention seminar circuit: take your project to the masses and let them decide if you’ll be able to publish it. Well, masses – here’s a few items that have come up on our radar:

  • Metamorphosis Alpha Roleplaying Game by Signal Fire Studios. Though we originally heard MA would return as a D&D4E setting, the new plan is to release a standalone 160-page RPG to relaunch the classic property. With 17 days left, this project is almost 50% of the way toward its $10k goal, so if you’re interested, check it out.
  • Got It! by Tom Jolly: a fun, sometimes frantic math game he’s trying to get back in print. We reviewed it here a while back. Got It! is nearly 30% funded with 24 days left, and with a modest goal of $3k, we’re hoping it succeeds.
  • Zpocalypse: An Epic Zombie Survival Board Game by Greenbrier Games. This detailed board game will have plastic figures, an interchangeable board, and is already nearly 400% funded! Jump in if you want to lend a hand (or get some backer rewards).
  • Dwimmermount: An Old School Fantasy RPG Megadungeon by James Maliszewski. Already 350% funded, backers of this epic dungeon crawl are continuing to unlock designer notes, an additional level to explore, and more. The challenging dungeon, long hinted at on Grognardia, will be available in versions compatible with Labyrinth Lord or the Adventurer Conqueror King System, both descended from the original fantasy RPG. This drive ends this weekend, so if you want in, climb aboard now.

5 Comments »

March 22nd, 2012

March 22nd, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
2012 Origins Awards nominees announced

Retailer attendees at last week’s GAMA Trade Show made their choices, and now we’ve received word: the 2012 Origins Award nominees are officially up. As usual, the awards ceremony will be announced during the 2012 Origins Game Fair, Saturday, June 2, 2012 in Columbus, OH, and Origins attendees will vote for the winners. And now, on with the list!

The 38th Annual Origins Awards Nominees

Best Roleplaying Game
Abney Park’s Airship Pirates – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – “Captain” Robert Brown, Peter Cakebread, Andrew Peregrine, Ian Sturrock, Ken Walton
Arcanis – Paradigm Concepts – Eric Wiener, Pedro Barrenechea, and Henry Lopez
Ashen Stars – Pelgrane Press – Robin D. Laws
Leverage: The RPG – Margaret Weis Productions – Cam Banks, Rob Donoghue, and Clark Valentine
The One Ring – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – Amado Angulo, Marco Maggi, Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Francesco Nepitello

Best Roleplaying Supplement or Adventure
Bookhounds of London (Trail of Cthulhu) – Pelgrane Press – Kenneth H. Hite
Dragon Age, Set 2 (Dragon Age) – Green Ronin Publishing – Steve Kenson, T.S. Luikart, Chris Pramas, and Jeff Tidball
The Great Clans (L5R 4th Edition) – AEG – Shawn Carman, Rob Hobart, Brian Yoon
Monster Vault (D&D 4E) – Wizards of the Coast – Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, & Matthew Sernett
Shadows over Scotland (Call of Cthulhu) – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – Stuart Boon

Best Board Game
Conquest of Nerath – Wizards of the Coast – Richard Baker, Mons Johnson, & Peter Lee
Automobile – Mayfair Games – Martin Wallace
Hibernia – Closet Nerd – Eric Vogel
High Noon Saloon – Slugfest Games – Cliff Bohm & Geoff Bottone
Pastiche – Gryphon Games – Sean D. MacDonald

Best Traditional Card Game
Cthulhu Gloom – Atlas Games – Keith Baker
NUTS! – Wildfire LLC – Matthew Grau
Red Dragon Inn 3 – Slugfest Games – Geoff Bottone, Jeff Morrow, and Cliff Bohm
Star Trek Deck Building Game – BANDAI – Alex Bykov
Struggle for Catan – Mayfair Games – Klaus Teuber

Best Family, Party or Children’s Game
BEARS! – Fireside Games – Anne-Marie De Witt
Faux-Cabulary – Out of the Box Publishing – Matthew Nuccio
Get Bit! – Mayday Games – Dave Chalker
Scavengers – Zombie State Games – John Werner
Space Mission – Schmidt Spiele – Matthew Worden

Best Miniatures Figure or Line
Forge Father Huscarl – Mantic
Giant Sized X-Men Heroclix – Wizkids/NECA
St. Luke – Dark Age
Storm Strider – Privateer Press
Zombie Wedding Party – Studio Miniatures

Best Miniatures Rules or Expansion
Battletech: The Wars of Reaving – Catalyst Game Labs – Ben H. Rome, Herbert A. Beas, Paul Sjardijn
Carnevale: The Miniatures Game – Vesper-on Games – David Esbri
Light Bikes – Glory Games – J. P. Trostle
Street Fighter Starter Set – Wizkids/NECA – Wizkids/NECA
Tomorrow’s War – Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games – Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter
Warmachine: Wrath – Privateer Press – David Carl, Bryan Cutler, Doug Seacat, Jason Soles, Matt Wilson

Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion
Legend of the Five Rings: Second City – AEG
Magic the Gathering : Innistrad – Wizards of the Coast
Pokemon Black & White: Emerging Powers – Nintendo
World of Warcraft: Dungeon Decks – Cryptozoic Entertainment
World of Warcraft: The Throne of Tides – Cryptozoic Entertainment

Best Game Accessory
Dungeon Tiles: The Witchlight Fens – Wizards of the Coast – Peter Lee & Jason Engle
Dice Earrings – GameScience – GameScience
Dungeon Masters Keep – Gale Force Nine – Gale Force Nine
Munchkin Zombies 2: Armed & Dangerous – Steve Jackson Games – Steve Jackson
Shadowrun Runner’s Toolkit – Catalyst Game Labs – Elissa Carey, Rusty Childers, Cole Davidson, Mark Dynna, Adam Jury, Robyn King-Nitschke, Adam Large, Drew Littell, Elizabeth Nold, Brandie Tarvin, Peter Taylor, Malik Toms, Michael Wich, Russell Zimmerman

Best Game-Related Publication
Cliffourd the Big Red God – Atlas Games – Kenneth H. Hite & Andy Hopp
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design – Open Design LLC – Mike Selinker with Rob Daviau, James Ernest, Matt Forbeck, Richard Garfield, Dave Howell, Steve Jackson, John Kovalic, Richard C. Levy, Andrew Looney, Michelle Nephew, Paul Peterson, Lisa Steenson, Jeff Tidball, Teeuwynn Woodruff, and Dale Yu
Designers & Dragons – Mongoose Publishing – Shannon Appelcline
Untold Adventures – Wizards of the Coast – Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson, John Shirley, Jay Lake, Sarah Zettel, and many more.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons – Wizards of the Coast – Shelley Mazzanoble

Best Historical Board Game
Strike of the Eagle – Academy Games -Brian Bennett, Uwe Eickert, Robert Zak
Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861 – Mayfair Games – Martin Wallace
Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles – Worthington Games – Jim Krohn
Lost Battles – Fifth Column Games – Philip Sabin
No Retreat! The Russian Front – GMT – Carl Paradis
World War II Barbarossa 1941 – Zvesda – Konstantin Krivenko

Best Historical Miniatures Rules or Expansion
SAGA – Gripping Beast – Studio Tomahawk
Waterloo – Warhammer Historical – Mark Latham
Flames of War: Cassino – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd. – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.
Command Combat: Civil War 1861 – Bandwagon Books – Jeff McArthur
Force on Force, 2nd Edition – Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games – Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter
Hail Caesar! – Warlord Games – Rick Priestley

Best Historical Miniatures Figure or Line
Bolt Action WW2 – Warlord Games
Italian Wars – Wargames Foundry
Sudan 1881-1885 – Perry Miniatures
Napoleon at War – Man at War
Tropic Lightning Vietnam War – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.
Anglo Zulu War – Empress Miniatures

Best Play by Mail or Correspondance Game
Continental Rails – Production R Danard – John Van De Graaf
Hyborian War – Reality Simulations Inc -Edward Schoonover
Phoenix: Beyond the Stellar Empire – KJC Games
Cruenti Dei – Sardarthion Press – Thom Ryng
Heroic Fantasy – Flying Buffalo Inc – Rick Loomis and Steve MacGregor

No Comments »

March 7th, 2012

March 7th, 2012: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Giving Cthulhu a G rating

Cthulhu GloomIn an article in The Guardian today, a reporter reflects on the softening of Lovecraftian merchandise – not its salability, mind you, but rather its hopeless horror being glossed over a bit in favor of a fluffy, cartoony look. This is nothing new: the Great Old Ones have been presented with their hard edges sanded off for many years now, and it certainly wasn’t to teach kids about the Cthulhu mythos – it was to sell. One of the nerdiest properties after Dungeons & Dragons has always been Cthulhu (whether speaking of Chaosium‘s Call of Cthulhu, or just the works of H.P. Lovecraft), and if there’s anything us nerds love, it’s toys and collectibles.

(As an aside, when I ask my 12-year-old daughter what she knows about Cthulhu, she tells me he’s “like an octopus guy, who’s really big, and lives underwater, and eats people, and there’s only one of him.” H.P. Lovecraft? Never heard of him. Yes, I know – I’ve failed to teach her. I know. You’re missing the point.)

Is the “cute-ifying” of all-powerful Cthulhu the makings of controversy, or just clever marketing? These days, there’s cute/plush/Bratz/LEGO/Hot Wheels versions of nearly every popular theme, including zombies, vampires, and demons. An untapped market is hard to resist, especially when the burden of screening and/or explaining the eldritch content is so easily passed to the parents. A Mini Plush Cthulhu (from Toy Vault) was the hot item to send to new gamer parents for a time (Matt Forbeck received four at once a while back), and that (innocent?) trend has broadened considerably since those days. Now Lovecraft fans can select everything from children’s book parodies and dice games to fuzzy Cthulhu slippers and My Little Cthulhu (complete with victims).

Ultimately, selling cute Cthulhu isn’t a bad thing at all. If companies can support Lovecraft fans with products they (or their children) enjoy, more power to them. Just because my daugther grew up around a large plush Cthulhu (which she pronounced “Toolu” until she was 5 or so), it doesn’t automatically mean she’ll be playing through Mansions of Madness anytime soon, if ever. That’s okay. She’s aware of Cthulhu (a startling notion, if you think about it…), and has a vague notion of a larger storyline that she can investigate at her leisure.

If she ever does, though, I’d better teach her more about Lovecraft, or the guys at Chaosium will sic the gugs on me again.

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January 31st, 2012

January 31st, 2012: Mike Sugarbaker says...
D&D Next and limits to growth

From a somewhat disturbing post over on Story Games:

And yet another different D&D freelancer friend said:

“This is why D&D 4E is called an indie game. It tells you how to play. Many of us know that the rules are better than they have ever been design wise but that’s not the point. Look at Iron Heroes designed by Mike Mearls. The same people who loved that game, a game which was similar to 4E in many ways, hated 4E. Why? They actually like the rules in many cases. But they don’t want to be told this is the way to play. These games are about people. They are about friends. And you don’t know my friends better than I do.”

Now, that’s just the opinion of one alleged freelancer, and even if we took it as truth, it doesn’t pose a large problem… unless you’re interested in the accessibility of D&D. The trouble with not telling people how to play is it limits the game’s growth to the oral tradition. A new group, as in people who don’t know (or don’t know they know) anyone else who plays, must fill in that deliberately larger gap between the rules and the table all on their own, which A) has a lot of known bad side effects, and B) simply fails more often – often enough that I’d guess it doesn’t replace players faster than they drop out.

By returning to not (fully) telling you how to play, Wizards is accepting that D&D is inaccessible from the outside and that the best it can do is reclaim some old players. As we’ve discussed, with D&D Next they’re likely really just aiming to win back recent converts to Pathfinder. That’ll do, corporately speaking; that’ll hold the line. It disappoints those of us who’d rather that D&D were closer to a living part of gaming culture than an archival piece, but it does suit Hasbro’s general M.O. and stated reason for investing in D&D at all: getting value out of a brand through an array of ancillary products. Hell, I kind of don’t know why they don’t just distribute the core RPG books for free. (They haven’t said they won’t, of course; in my view it’d be a smart way to return to the PDF market.)

There are ways, though, that Wizards could make the oral tradition more effective. They’ve announced that they are revamping the D&D website, which is good, but my confidence is a little low that they’ll be able to do what’s really required: utterly changing their online corporate voice. If they did manage it, they could be the oral tradition, the place people go to see and hear what this hobby is and what it looks like when people live it. The right selection of official YouTube videos alone would be a great step towards clearing away the annoyingly persistent confusion about just exactly what it is you do when you play D&D.

That would possibly reopen the door to the world at large. But from what we know right now, that isn’t a goal.

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January 20th, 2012

January 20th, 2012: Mike Sugarbaker says...
So I guess there’s also gonna be an old D&D

Yesterday Wizards announced they’ll be reprinting the 1st Edition AD&D core books in new collectible (in the pre-Magic sense of the word, thanks) editions this April. We can only assume that the choice of reprinting this particular edition, rather than the white box or something else you can’t readily find in free boxes on the curb, was chosen for reasons of rights and convenience on Wizards’ part. It would certainly speak volumes about the supposed commitment to embracing all editions in D&D Next if some other reprints got the same treatment.

EDIT Mike is a jerk: it makes a certain amount of sense that this is a reprint of the last major edition of D&D that Gary Gygax was personally invested in, since the books are a benefit for the Gygax Memorial Fund. Okay then.

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January 9th, 2012

January 9th, 2012: Mike Sugarbaker says...
So I guess there’s gonna be a new D&D or something

Taste the excitement. For those who missed, D&D Next (that’s all they’re calling it thus far) has been announced, and an open playtest set to begin in the spring can be yours if you go click on one of a selection of shiny red buttons. Here’s what I had to say on the Twits:

  • I don’t envy WotC right now. They can’t possibly do it right for most people, and most people will say so.
  • All WotC’s horses and all WotC’s men want to put the fractured play base together again. (4E didn’t start the breaks, but did worsen ‘em.)
  • And amazingly, they have something resembling clear messaging about just that! It’s all over this Mearls interview.
  • The danger now lies in how that openness comes across. 4E’s strength was you could come in totally cold and actually have a successful game.
  • A D&D-for-everyone has a hard job if it wants to be that accessible. (As I’ve written lately, I think Risk Legacy can be a guide here.)

On the “D&D Next” topic: this is significant. Everyone on Twitter, and I’m sure other places as well, is screaming about “5E” but no one at Wizards is saying the number 5. That’s because (turn back now if you fear rampant speculation) Wizards wants “editions” to go away. They create confusion amongst consumers. Wizards doesn’t much care about our nerdfights – there will always be nerdfights – but once it got so bad that Pathfinder actually made a dent in the consciousness of consumers outside the nerd bubble, that got their attention. By and large, the mass of D&D players (the ones who get it at Walmart-or-whatever) don’t even notice independent games, and certainly not fantasy ones; Wizards would like it very much if those folks never notice those games again.

And as far as listening to your fans… it can be done right, and it can be done wrong. For now, I’ll call it a good thing that it’s going to be done at all.

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January 4th, 2012

January 4th, 2012: Mike Sugarbaker says...
2011 in games (or: I resolve to remember to post)

Risk Legacy is the game of the year. I know, I know, but: even if the persistent nuisance of the core Risk die mechanic isn’t something you can overlook, think of the effect that Legacy will have on future games from (the wealthier amongst) other game publishers. Specifically, imagine what co-op games will do with it. More generally, look at how Legacy introduces new mechanics slowly over time and compare it to the Fluency Play model. Then think of those poor bastards who read about, say, Agricola in the newspaper’s annual board game review and decide to try to use it to institute game night with their family. They’re going to create a lot of confusion, and probably an impression that games in general aren’t for them. The same game, with most of the complexity initially hidden inside little “achievement” envelopes, would be many times more learnable and accessible. The problem isn’t confined to new or casual gamers, either; ask me how I’m doing at absorbing the rules of Eclipse. Better yet, don’t.

And that’s all leaving aside the sheer joy of playing the thing – which, to be fair, may be due in part to shock value that’ll fade once more games of this nature hit the market. (At the very least, I want to see Monopoly Legacy.) This is the new best practice for doing any kind of campaign play in a board game. Don’t just spell out a campaign in the back half of the rulebook, make it theater. Risk Legacy oozes theatricality starting when you crack the seal on the box, and going forward through just about every step (except the rulebook, which is more straightforward for obvious reasons). This is the essence of what a campaign is for, as role-players know; hell, it’s the reason role-playing was made.

This is just my pick. Allan may have a different one. Also if you don’t own Ascending Empires we can’t be friends, so don’t think you can slack off there.

So yeah, we didn’t do a gift guide. Let’s be real, you didn’t have any money to buy people things with anyway. Pook very kindly put some of his picks up in various categories; I don’t feel super qualified to make a call on RPG of 2011, in part because I seem to be doomed to stay 6 months behind, at least, on actually playing anything. I’m tempted to say that the RPG of the year is Kickstarter – if you get your build right, that’s one hell of a reward cycle.

Give us your picks in the comments. Just keep your damn Skyrim off my lawn.

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December 25th, 2011

December 25th, 2011: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from OgreCave.com!

While some of the OgreCave crew have been taking a little time off (call ‘em mental health days, call ‘em school/divorce/new baby recovery days – whatever), causing us to skip this year’s OgreCave Christmas Gift Guide, longtime Cave Dweller Matthew Pook has scraped together a quick list of gift suggestions that would make any Ogre proud. Anyone still searching for beyond-last-minute gift ideas – or wondering what to spend holiday gift certificates on – should head over to read Reviews from R’lyeh: The OgreCave.com Christmas List. The rest of the staff here at OgreCave appreciates the assist, Matthew. We’ll have your back next time, for sure.

Of course, if you really need a gift now, you can always resort to an electronic goodie or two. Pathfinder RPG fans might enjoy Hero Labs for the Pathfinder Beginner Box (Lone Wolf Development; Free!); and gamers in general are likely to find something worthwhile in the Super Indie Bundle, offered on Steam for a limited time – 10 games for $19.99 is hard to beat!

Be well, and happy holidays!

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November 18th, 2011

November 18th, 2011: Demian Katz says...
Perigon launches tomorrow

While there’s always some new Eurogame or RPG coming along, it seems less often that you hear about a new, interesting all-wood abstract strategy game… I’ll do my best to remedy that — I’m told that a new one is hitting the market tomorrow!

In Perigon from Clarendon Games, each player controls four pieces that live in grooves in the board and move by rotating around intersections of the grooves. There is also a neutral flag piece which can only be moved by connecting to it with your own pieces. The object of the game is to capture the flag and move it through your opponent’s side of the board and onto a goal line. Of course, like many simple but deep strategy games, it’s probably easier to play than to describe — you might get a better idea of how it works by watching this video.

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