Archive for June, 2004

Aberrations details surfacing from the depths

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

My gaming group knows the pain of facing hordes of scaled races – lizardfolk, yuan-ti, draconians, and the like – in our D&D campaign. It would seem the next D&D Miniatures expansion, Aberrations, will bolster the ranks of my reptilian army.
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I, Robot. You, meat sack.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

Steampower Publishing has posted a free download, Roleplaying Game Designate: Robots. Despite an earlier problem, the free electronic product is now of the printable variety, always a good thing. Go experience the machines for yourself, and let the lovely carnage begin.

Greg Costikyan on Origins 04

Monday, June 28th, 2004

The Paranoia XP creator delivers an incisive travelogue/rant about Origins 2004 on his weblog. The awards ceremony definitely had problems (although the Hall of Fame parade actually preceded the asinine LukeSki, contrary to Greg’s recounting) – for instance, when you tell the crowd to hold their applause between nominees and the winners to please keep it brief, you’d do well to shave a sentence or two off of the four-sentence bios you’re reading off for each of 50 or so Hall-of-Famers. And to axe the musical guest. To do otherwise smacks of a certain disrespect of the currently-working professionals who are your bread and butter, even if it is to benefit and promote a spectacular and honorable history. But I digress, and Costikyan’s complaints and suggestions are probably more salient than mine.

Grey Star Goes Beyond the Nightmare Gate

Monday, June 28th, 2004

Project Aon has just announced the release of the third World of Lone Wolf gamebook as a free online adventure. In Beyond the Nightmare Gate, you get to explore the dangerous Daziarn Plane in search of a magical item called the Moonstone. If you haven’t played the first two adventures in the series, they remain available and have just had some revisions and corrections made. If you’re a gamebook fan or if you just want to explore the world of Magnamund in preparation for trying out the new Lone Wolf RPG, it’s definitely worth taking a trip to Project Aon’s site.

Spiel Des Jahres winner: Ticket To Ride

Monday, June 28th, 2004

Brett & Board has the news (BoardGameGeek likely has it too, but seems overwhelmed with traffic right now) that Alan Moon’s popular Ticket To Ride has taken taken top honors in Germany’s annual Spiel Des Jahres competition. Tongue-in-cheek horror game Dicke Luft in der Gruft, Reiner Knizia’s placement game Einfach Genial, Raja (published here as Maharaja), and St. Petersburg (just out in English from Rio Grande) were also shortlisted.

Origins 2004: playing catch-up till the day I die

Monday, June 28th, 2004

Steve Jackson Games and Atlas were sharing a booth, and SJG was making noise about GURPS Fourth Edition, hitting at or near Gen Con. GURPS Dragons, new at the show, featured conversion rules for 4th Ed., billed as a sneak preview. Also new at the show was Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes, a book all about information and info warfare. Soon will come the day when a sci-fi setting in any medium won’t be able to get away with not having this kind of material. Finally there was the first sight (my first sight, anyway) of Chez Goth, which is, blessedly, exactly what you expect.

What did Atlas have, you ask? The only thing that caught my eye was the much more detailed look at Beer Money, much of which came from T-shirt vendors and such at other booths. That kid’s having an interesting life, isn’t she.

Also in the booth was a flyer for Pegasus Press’ upcoming Cthulhu material. Worlds of Cthulhu will be a twice-yearly journal that’ll follow in the footsteps of The Unspeakable Oath, even featuring a column from Pagan’s Scott Glancy; first issue hits at Gen Con.

Origins 2004: WEG rides again

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

You have of course read our review of D6 Adventure. It and D6 Space are here at the show. West End Games’ latest owners Purgatory Publishing have a great deal planned, including a revised edition of Torg to be released both as a PDF and a small print run of books. They’re also setting new terms for licensing the D6 system commercially – the publishers of the quirky superheroes-as-deities game Godsend: Agenda have apparently taken them up on this. And, as always, a whole lot more coming. While Torg has some problems, we at the Cave have always been big fans, so it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of it.

Origins 2004: best in show

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

I am giving it to Pirates of the Spanish Main at this point. It’s simple, it’s got some exception-based stuff in it but there’s plenty of core gameplay for it to interact with, it’s cheap, and it’s ragingly fun. Even when you buy multiple packs per player, you are still in for less money than your average CCG (and I think you do want two packs per player – ships are much more effective when they travel in pairs, and while you get two ships in a pack, you want to be doing multiple things at once). Messrs. Ernest and Selinker have something they can be proud of here, and WK appears not to have blown it really. Fine stuff.

Origins 2004: CCG attack

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

Played GI JOE. They’re only running a kind of abbreviated game here – character cards only, with no way to bring new ones out – but that’s enough to get a taste of combat. You trade off hand-to-hand attacks, using the Boost values on the bottom of a couple of cards pulled from the deck – then you pull more cards off the deck to use the Bullet values on their sides to do the firefight. Not too many of these people who are close enough to one another to fight hand-to-hand die in the firefights, which fits nicely with the series, wherein nobody seemed able to hit the broad side of a barn with their weapons. (Sadly, I lack any information on air units, but hopefully the rules specifically state that the pilot parachutes out automatically when the plane blows up.) So this game feels almost like the old 40K CCG, and not so much like any other Wizards game. I enjoyed it.

Played Call of Cthulhu at long last, and it’s really strong. Fans of A Game of Thrones will see things they recognize, but this game definitely feels like its own thing. It’s also over a lot faster than I thought, so the four-stage resolution of conflicts over the central Story cards doesn’t get as convoluted as I feared. You’ll probably only have to deal with battles over one or two of the four icons the Story specifies, and it goes quite quickly. Check the icons, check special rules, somebody goes insane, and boom! You’re done. This should be big fun – I love the flavor, especially of the evil folks’ cards – and it should be at Gen Con.

Origins 2004: back to the corners

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

Well, I guess not the corners exactly. Social Games, having recently launched one of the only new CCGs that’s at all gamer-y, is pretty findable. They have a whole new card set, Cyberpunk 2020, and were kind enough to give me some boosters. We’ve played a fair amound of the 2013 set, and it’s good and solid, although, as I think I’ve said, awfully 1993 in theme.

I’m seeing some new starship combat games, which is nice. These guys have a game called Arclight which looks nice and simple and comes with the whole game on CD, so you can print out whatever you need without the demoralizing trip to Kinko’s. The guys doing Battlestations are indeed here, but it turns out not to really be a roleplaying game even halfway – it’s more of a mission-based tactical board game with XP. Or something.

Mongoose’s presence here seems unusually small, and minis-oriented. They have a nice little B5 starship that’s exclusive to this show and Gen Con, and they have Mighty Armies – a fantasy miniatures game that’s atypical for being 15mm scale instead of the 28mm you and I and that guy over there are used to. One $25 box comes with a pretty decent-sized squad of barbarians and/or orcs. It’ll be interesting to see how this one fares in the increasingly-crowded field of skirmish minis.

Origins Awards winners, Diana Jones Award shortlist

Friday, June 25th, 2004

We got ‘em – a couple were missed initially due to lack of visual aids and fleeting moments of disgust, but we should be all set now. Here’s how it went down:

Historical Minis RulesEl Cid, Warhammer Historical Wargames
Historical Minis Series28mm Ancient Celts, Renegade Miniatures
Abstract Board GameZendo, Looney Labs
Historical Board GameAttack! , Eagle Games
Traditional Board GameA Game of Thrones, Fantasy Flight
Board Game ExpansionZombies 3: Mallwalkers, Twilight Creations
Graphic Design of a Board GameA Game of Thrones, FFG
Gamer’s Choice Board GameA Game of Thrones, FFG
Gamer’s Choice Historical Board GameSettlers of the Stone Age, Mayfair Games
RPGAngel, Eden Studios
RPG AdventureBlack Sails Over Freeport, Green Ronin
RPG SupplementRedhurst Academy of Magic, Human Head
RPG Graphic DesignRedhurst Academy of Magic, Human Head
Gamer’s Choice RPGSavage Worlds, Pinnacle
Gamer’s Choice Play-By-MailMiddle Earth Play By Mail, GSI
AccessoryMK Dungeons 3D Tiles, WizKids
Gamer’s Choice AccessoryBag o’ Zombies, Twilight Creations
Long FictionThe Book of Final Flesh, Eden Studios
Short Fiction – “Podo and the Magic Shield,” Mage Knight, WizKids
Graphic Fiction – “Everybody Loves Gilly,” Snapdragons, Dork Storm
PeriodicalDragon, Paizo Publishing
Gamer’s Choice PeriodicalKnights of the Dinner Table, Kenzer & Co.
Gamer’s Choice Electronic ProductPyramid Online, Steve Jackson Games
Traditional Card GameBang!, Mayfair
Card Game Graphic DesignBang!, Mayfair
Trading Card Game.hack//ENEMY, Decipher
Card Game ExpansionA Game of Thrones: Ice and Fire, FFG
Gamer’s Choice Card GameMunchkin Fu, Steve Jackson Games
Fantasy Minis RulesWarmachine, Privateer Press
Fantasy Minis SeriesWarmachine, Privateer Press
Science Fiction Minis RulesShadowrun Duels, WizKids
Science Fiction Minis SeriesMechWarrior: Liao Incursion, WizKids
Minis Accessory/Terrain: MechWarrior Dropship, WizKids
Gamer’s Choice Minis: Warmachine, Privateer Press
Game of the Year: Indy HeroClix, WizKids

Feel free to join us in saying WTF below, or celebrating your favorite’s victory. There were also some Hall of Fame inductees, in the form of two games and six folks:

Squad Leader
Warhammer 40K
Ed Greenwood
Larry Bond
Loren Wiseman
Bob Charrette
Reiner Knizia
Klaus Teuber

Oh yeah – Matt Forbeck used some of his stage time as presenter to announce the short list for the Diana Jones Award to be awarded at Gen Con. And they are:

HeroQuest
My Life With Master
Savage Worlds
The Scandinavian gaming scene
True Dungeon

OgreCave review: D6 Adventure

Friday, June 25th, 2004

Back in the day, Merwin wasn’t that thrilled by West End‘s d6 system. Has the new version, in the form of D6 Adventure, changed his mind? And what about Lauren? Will she ever be able to tell Dirk how she really feels? And is Timmy still trapped in the well? Find out some of these things (well, just one, really) in our new review.

Origins 2004: the big boys

Friday, June 25th, 2004
  • Wizards’ best schwag is the Eberron temporary tattoos. The magically-imbued “dragon marks” are one of the coolest things in the Eberron book in my opinion, so that was a good call. They have RISK Godstorm new at the show, which I hope to demo, and they have Star Wars CMG figures. Han looks cool. (The game doesn’t differ a lot from D&D Minis from what I can tell, although there are no charging rules and no specific ties to the SW RPG.) The only unreleased product they are actually demoing is the GI JOE CCG; I haven’t tried it yet but a friend says it’s nice and fast.
  • You already know I have some Pirates of the Spanish Main, but you might not have known that WizKids was also pre-selling HeroClix Ultimates boosters at the show. They are previewing, in one of those no-photos cases, some new MW figs that look rather dull on the whole. Jade Falcon Clan fans will be into it though.
  • Does White Wolf still count as big? They have DragonMech new at show, and they have the big monitor with the big speakers, droning on about Vampire: the Requiem with big animated-text effects. This episode brought to you by the letter What and the number Ever.

No Games Workshop booth that I can find, although I chatted with Chris Pramas about Green Ronin’s upcoming new edition of Warhammer FRP, still in progress. Now that Warhammer Online is cancelled, maybe GW will change their minds and launch a 40K RPG first, although that’s speculation on my part.

Origins 2004: dig those crazy napkins!

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

I have several proper packs of Pirates of the Spanish Main in my hot little hands now, as opposed to just the promo ship in the schwag bag. The 12-page card-sized rulebook is fairly complete, at least for a two-player game. I hope to get to play tomorrow. These were sold as previews, the game doesn’t hit stores until July.

I am about to collapse, but first, some more quick impressions:

  • I met a couple guys in the back of the hall selling hand-made wooden tables for a dexterity game called Kineti-Go, in which all the little wooden caroms have strong magnets in them. So does the small frame thingy which you use to help launch them. The board also has magnets in several key corners. Overall, it doesn’t feel like the magnets are affecting play much, aside from the launch and the occasional wonkiness, but it was a lot of fun – somewhere between darts and crokinole – and exactly the sort of weird little find that I love Origins for. Plus, the tables had built-in cup holders.
  • Twilight Creations is showing The Haunting House, and has announced a game due in October that features cute wind-up toys – zombies, of course – that fight each other (according to stuff you work out with gameplay, telling you how many winds you get, whether you get to adjust your facing, et cetera). It’s called All Wound Up and I don’t think I have to tell you that it’s going to be the coolest thing ever.
  • I played Bandai‘s chess-variant CMG Navia Drapt. It’s more chess-y and not as simple as Creepy Freaks, but it also has lots of exception-based goodness that keeps it a little light. The most elegant thing about it is that using pawns gives you your money, so even though they don’t have much power or flexibility, you need to keep them in the game. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, how cheap the handsomely-appointed starter sets were ($30… although the starter might be for one player), and how fetching the minis were. It hits in August, of course.

Origins 2004: need sleep

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

First, I would like to thank the PR folks with GAMA for helping my registration go so smoothly. Second, I am not even going to try to estimate how big the crowd is compared to last year. It seems like more, but it also seems that I’m always wrong. I have been here a few hours and the exhibit hall is just about to open – plenty of folks in line – but I have already learned a few things:

  • Third World is bringing out a Tom Jolly card game called Necromaster in the fall. The tagline is “play with dead things.”
  • WizKids is selling more damned Galacti, damn their eyes, and are also giving out sample Pirates of the Spanish Main ships. I have no idea if the game’s for sale here, but I can attest that the things are damned hard to put together on two hours’ sleep.
  • Games Quarterly has piles and piles of their first print issue on a table in my hotel’s lobby. My hotel is not conjoined to the con, but is actually closer to most of the action than hotels that are. A lot more events seem to be taking place “off property” this year, including some “sleepover” events in the different hotels.
  • Sleepy sleep sleep.