OgreCave

Unplugged Gaming News and Views

October 27th, 2017

October 27th, 2017: Allan Sugarbaker says...

Eleven Games to Play at your Stranger Things Party


Cast of Stranger Things (Netflix)More than anything, watching the kids on Stranger Things obsess over their favorite games hits us with heavy nostalgia for those classic games of the 1980s. When you celebrate this modern classic of kids against the supernatural, whether you binge-watch entire seasons or savor each episode slowly, you’ll want an ideal activity to symbolize that you stand with the citizens of Hawkins, right? Don’t be a mouth-breather – grab your Eggos and your wrist-rocket, and check our picks for the best games to capture the feel of Stranger Things.
Read more…

No Comments »

September 30th, 2017

September 30th, 2017: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Z-Man posts preview of Pandemic Legacy: Season 2

Z-Man Games has posted a preview of Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2015 boardgame. Designers Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock have created a game of both exploration and resource management in the anticipated co-op sequel, which per the “Legacy” line, will permanently alter the year-long game campaign depending on player decisions. In the preview, we learn a bit more about the fragments of civilization that remain in the post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden world. The teaser describes a bit more:

[Season 2] plunges you into a world torn apart by a virulent plague. Those who remain in this post-apocalyptic setting cluster in the few remaining cities, barely eking out an existence. In this harsh environment, antibiotics, food, medicine, tools, and other supplies are precious commodities. […] Only nine cities are on your grid at the beginning of the game, but the tantalizing possibilities of what lies beyond are on full display. Once you have established the appropriate infrastructure in select cities across the map, you can begin to explore some of the lost world by taking the Recon action.

As with Season 1, the game will come in two box colors, but the contents of each will be identical. For 2-4 players, Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 looks to arrive late in Q4 2017.

No Comments »

August 17th, 2017

August 17th, 2017: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gen Con game convention wins 2017 Diana Jones Award

At Gen Con 50, the winner of this year’s Diana Jones Award for excellence in gaming has been announced as… Gen Con itself! First organized in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin by Gary Gygax himself, Gen Con has grown to become an annual gaming mecca and affirmation of the gaming hobby, currently raging onward in Indianapolis. Other nominees this year were The Beast, a single-player card & journaling game; End of the Line, a hybrid LARP combining Camarilla-style Vampire and Nordic LARP; the fantasy board game Gloomhaven, which was a huge hit on Kickstarter; The Romance Trilogy, a group of relationship-themed RPGs by Emily Care Boss (the first of which, Breaking the Ice, made it onto OgreCave’s 2005 Christmas Gift Guide); and Terraforming Mars, a resource management board game. As always, OgreCave congratulates all the nominees, and Gen Con, “The Best Four Days in Gaming,” for its win this year.

No Comments »

August 12th, 2017

August 12th, 2017: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gaming News Update – Anna Meade (Uprising: The Dystopian Universe RPG)

In this Gaming News Update interview, we throw new OgreCave contributor Lars Roberts to the wolves and have her interview Anna Meade, co-author of Uprising: The Dystopian Universe RPG from Evil Hat Productions. Due to hit Kickstarter for a 2018 publication date, Anna tells us about creating the roleplaying setting based on the card games Coup, Coup: Reformation, and The Resistance. She also hints at some confrontational – nay, backstabbing, even – mechanics to the FATE system that Uprising will bring to the table. As bonus features, Anna mentions her novelization of The Dystopian Universe for Indie Boards & Cards, her upcoming appearance as a featured presenter at Gen Con 50 next week, and what fun she’s had expanding tabletop gaming’s inclusivity and representation. Be sure to listen to Anna before attending her seminars next week, and browse our previous podcast episodes for many other game discussions.

No Comments »

June 7th, 2017

June 7th, 2017: Allan Sugarbaker says...
KublaCon 2017 photo gallery – complete!

Cthulhu demands you view the galleryOkay, the flood of KublaCon photos has reached its peak, and all are now neatly contained in OgreCave’s KublaCon 2017 photo gallery (over at our Facebook page). Final attendee count was reportedly 3,321 – a good sized show! See if you can spot yourself in our gallery, or rather, see if you got spotted by our photo crew.

We’re working on a few things behind the scenes, but as soon as we have goodies to share, we’ll serve them up. In the meantime, enjoy the pics, and tell us what you loved about this year’s KublaCon.

No Comments »

June 2nd, 2017

June 2nd, 2017: Allan Sugarbaker says...
KublaCon 2017 photo gallery

KublaCon 2017 logoThose of you who follow OgreCave’s Facebook page have already heard, but in case you missed it, the first half of OgreCave’s KublaCon 2017 photo gallery is up and running. Have a look, comment, like, and see if you got spotted at last weekend’s KublaCon Game Convention. We’ll have the other half added to the gallery in a couple of days, so check back early next week. Share and enjoy.

We’ll have more site news soon, so check back for that as well. Much to do.

No Comments »

September 26th, 2016

September 26th, 2016: Mike Sugarbaker says...
MAID RPG, Tokyo Brain Pop, and why GTE couldn’t just fix their network

First, a public apology. A few years ago, Andy Kitkowski, publisher of Tenra Bansho Zero and co-publisher of MAID RPG, sent us a review copy of MAID and was very flattering in a note he attached to it. We’ve felt for a while that we let him down by not getting a review up. Not to put Allan on the spot, but Allan looked MAID over and couldn’t figure out how to approach it. [My players were just plain confused by it, honestly, and wouldn’t try it. – A] I have a feeling that a lot of you reading this are right there with him. We asked all our other reviewers if they wanted to take it on, and they all recoiled.

Now, I know the deal with MAID, because I happen to know this particular deal with anime culture and Japanese pop culture in general. Said deal is that a lot of stuff from Japan looks to us like it’s being presented sincerely, and is thus creepy and crazy, when it’s understood in Japan as being satirical. The original MAID game falls into that category, as does most of the maid-themed anime that inspired it. You can certainly still argue that attempted satire of sexist tropes just spreads sexism, particularly when the culture as a whole – ours in this case – doesn’t get the joke. I myself feel more or less this way, in fact, but the comparatively low-titillation presentation style of MAID does a lot to redeem it for me.

The failure of cultural translation was utterly predictable with MAID – enough so that its publication, the first of an original Japanese RPG into English to make it to print, was neither a great business move nor a good strategy for opening American minds to Japanese RPGs. That said, if you’re one of the many American nerds who understand anime tropes deeply, a game with MAID‘s themes can be hilarious, and MAID delivers. The execution is dead on. The players play the many stereotypical French-style maids of an aloof male master – you could run it as My Life With Master, only funny (comedy and horror are close cousins). The game runs beautifully and is a pretty amazing source of random tables (tragedy tables! Mental complexes! The mind-shreddingly massive Costume Table 2!).

But there’s no saving MAID in the Western market. You could possibly reskin the system and sell the conversion, but that’s not the same. And you could run and sell it at anime cons, but not outside anime culture. (I am not suggesting that any of this is news to Andy.)

A while ago, an RPG we’ve honored in the past did a sort of splashy relaunch; I mean, it debuted in an Asian-culture-themed round of Allen Varney’s indefatigable Bundle of Holding, right around Christmas, which is not bad. It’s called Tokyo Brain Pop, and it’s about Japanese schoolgirls amongst whom one or more has horrifying psychic powers. Its mechanics focus on social dynamics amongst teens and fighting evil demons in equal measure. It’s pretty great.

And if it sounds familiar, it should: it’s Panty Explosion, which OgreCave has honored in our Christmas gift guides in the past. It was renamed in response to long-building public resistance to the name, including its publisher getting blocked at one point from tabling at GeekGirlCon. Now, to my ear, the title Panty Explosion was always pretty transparently an ironic shot across the bow of anime tropes as they play in the US. But there was no saving it in the Western market either. Too many people, for reasons either respectable or reflexive, are just gonna do this.

Let’s talk about “branding,” and what it really means.
Read more…

Comments Closed

August 6th, 2016

August 6th, 2016: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Game Designer Eric Lang wins 2016 Diana Jones Award

At Gen Con 2016, the winner of this year’s Diana Jones Award for excellence in gaming has been announced as prolific and impressive game designer Eric M. Lang. Lang is known as the man behind Chaos in the Old World, the Living Card Game versions of A Game of Thrones and Star Wars, and more recently for the elegant Ragnarok-themed board game Blood Rage. Other nominees this year were ConTessa, an organization; Fall of Magic, a story-game by Ross Cowman, published by Heart of the Deernicorn; Larpwriter Summer School; and Pandemic Legacy published by Z-man Games. OgreCave congratulates all the nominees, and Eric Lang for his award this year.

Diana Jones Award press release follows:

THE WINNER OF THE 2016 DIANA JONES AWARD IS ERIC M. LANG

To say that Eric Lang is a prolific game designer is the punchline of a joke hilarious in its understatement. This year’s Gen Con, for example, sees the release of no fewer than four new Lang designs or co-designs: Bloodborne: The Card Game, The Others: 7 Sins, Arcane Academy (with Kevin Wilson), and HMS Dolores (with Bruno Faidutti).

A small sampling of Lang’s past designs include Blood Rage, Dice Masters (with Mike Elliott), 2010 Diana Jones nominee Chaos in the Old World, and Living Card Game designs for A Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Warhammer 40,000.

And these games are not sausage, vomited from an assembly line and rushed to market carelessly undercooked. Rather, Lang’s games are perennial inhabitants of lists that laud both evergreen sales and – in the parlance of BoardGameGeek – “Hotness.”

The variety and quality of Lang’s co-designers speak to the joy of collaborating with him. It’s telling that those who’ve worked with him in the past would not hesitate to do so again, whatever the project. The top-shelf media properties that Lang has adapted for the tabletop demonstrate the trust that publishers put in Lang’s insight, skill, and ability to deliver.

Lang’s ludography is worthy of celebration on its own, but Eric’s sincere love for games, gamers, the gaming hobby, and the art of game design are exemplars not only for his immediate peers, but for those who strive in literally any field of endeavor. If you ran marathons, or raised children, or played heavy metal music with the same spirit that Eric brings to game design, you would exemplify the best spirit of those callings, and the world would be better for it.

It is the opinion of the Diana Jones Award Committee that Eric Lang exemplifies excellence in gaming. We are proud to award him our trophy for this year.

No Comments »

October 26th, 2015

October 26th, 2015: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Guest column: Dungeons & Dragons as Story

Today, a friend of the Cave, Aaron Teixeira, offers up his thoughts on the ongoing Dungeons & Dragons discussion: can the original roleplaying game be used as an inspired, artful storytelling device? Or is it merely a game of “killing things and taking their stuff”? Aaron’s been playing and running RPGs of all sorts for decades, and has decided to weigh in on the debate, in Dungeons & Dragons as Story. See what Aaron had to say, and add your thoughts to the conversation in the comments below.
[…]

No Comments »

October 16th, 2015

October 16th, 2015: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave video: KublaCon 2015, Goodman Games, Cheapass Games

Because we got some great footage at KublaCon 2015, we’re doing our best to ambush you with some of it (Flashback Friday, anyone?). We’ve included a general look at parts of the convention, but also managed to talk with Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games, as well as James Ernest of Cheapass Games. Some of what we discussed has hit game stores by now, but Joe and James both reveal some plans for the future. In particular, Joe describes new features of Dungeon Crawl Classics and his plans for Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar setting, while James tells us about the Kill Doctor Lucky Kickstarter campaign (which just started and runs until November 13th – check it out).

We’ll have more vids posted soon, so if you have the chance, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and stay tuned!

No Comments »

September 5th, 2015

September 5th, 2015: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave video: Luke Laurie, CelestiCon

Around the Cave these past few months, Real Life (TM) has been busy, so gaming has suffered. But even hibernating ogres need to stretch, wake up, and hunt for good gaming now and then. To facilitate a good hunt for everyone, we have a new(ish) video from CelestiCon (going on this weekend in Fremont, CA. Okay, yeah, this is from the 2014 show – we’re way behind on posting this). Get a glimpse of this great convention for game enthusiasts of all varieties, listen to Luke Laurie from the League of Gamemakers talk of the League’s mission and CelestiSpiel, a haven for game developers to test game prototypes, and come out to the show this weekend if you can.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, or listen to our large library of audio podcasts. There’s more hibernating goodies dislodging every time the Cave Dwellers manage to wrestle them into submission.

No Comments »

March 15th, 2015

March 15th, 2015: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Audio Report 2.0 – March 2015

OCAR 2.0 logoWe’ve got a lot to say in the latest OgreCave Audio Report episode. First, we talk of DunDraCon 2015, wherein Allan describes some of the things he saw at the show. Then we hit Kickstarter hard, describing a variety of projects, both completed and upcoming, while voicing thoughts on what the crowdsourcing site should really be used for. Finally, one particular volunteer at PAX East is making the entire organization look bad, so they’d really better get a handle on the situation ASAP – and not by simply ignoring it.

Click here for show details and to listen to the new episode. Watch here soon for DunDraCon 2015 pictures, and everything else we’re up to as well.

No Comments »

March 5th, 2015

March 5th, 2015: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Audio Report 2.0 – January 2015

OCAR 2.0 logoIn our first show of the new year, we’re already covering a lot of ground. In just the first half of the podcast, we go from Allan’s first impressions of Dungeons & Dragons: Fifth Edition to Mike’s obsession with space games, and back around to enjoying Magic: The Gathering after many years of abstinence. Then we drag out a pair of surprise gaming artifacts, speak of upcoming conventions, and more.

Click here for show details and to listen to the new episode. As always, share and enjoy. We’ll have a report on the happenings at DunDraCon 2015 in our next episode.

No Comments »

January 23rd, 2015

January 23rd, 2015: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave video: DunDraCon promo

For the Cave dwellers, the start of convention season is heralded by DunDraCon. Now that the annual gaming event and its impending awesomeness are nearly here, this seems like the time to premiere our DunDraCon promo video. Take it away, Sparky! (Be sure to subscribe on YouTube to see all of OgreCave’s video goodness.)

No Comments »

December 29th, 2014

December 29th, 2014: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Audio Report 2.0 – December 2014

OCAR 2.0 logoWe’re back, and ready to talk all things gaming. To wrap up the year and prepare for new things, we have a brand new episode of our long-dormant (hibernating?) podcast show, the OgreCave Audio Report. Now redubbed 2.0, the relaunch episode has Mike and Allan talking of the holidays, Kickstarter goodies, interpersonal issues in game groups, and GamerGate, among other things.

A more complete write-up will follow, but for now, enjoy the new episode, and happy holidays!

If you haven’t already heard our other podcast show, OgreCave’s Gaming News Update, click through and have a listen – we’ve cornered quite a few game industry luminaries over the years.

No Comments »

Browse the archives