Archive for October, 2004

Sports Gamebooks Reach the UK

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

It’s not often that a new gamebook series hits the market these days, but Fighting Fantasy publisher Wizard Books has just launched a new product likely to bring page-flipping to a different demographic. The Football Fantasy Gamebooks allow players to control the actions of football (i.e. soccer) teams, playing either solo or against a human opponent. Each book represents a different team and features a design by gamebook veteran Jon Sutherland and extensive visuals by Lone Wolf illustrator Gary Chalk. It’s hard to say whether these will get an American release in the immediate future, but British collectors can find them in stores everywhere while Americans can get them shipped in via amazon.co.uk or the overseas bookseller of their choice.

Eldritch Horror: The New Alternative to Red Meat

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

If you need some Halloween excitement and you don’t have time for one of our RPG suggestions, all is not lost. Thanks to the wonders of Invisible City‘s latest free Game of the Month, you can participate in a Cthulbeque. That’s right — if you have the strength and sanity to battle indescribable horrors from beyond, it turns out that they make mighty good eatin’. What better way to spend the evening?

HeroScape plans boosters, possibly less hobby-channel screwage

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

This ICv2 report taught me a couple of things I didn’t know: 1) that Hasbro had planned to ship its new gamers’ Milton Bradley game HeroScape to small game retailers a month or two ahead of the mass market, but shipping snafus forced them to go straight to the big boys, and 2) upcoming HeroScape expansion packs may ship first to the hobby market to make up for it. A date for those packs hasn’t even been announced that I can find, so I guess wait-and-see is the order of the day. And no, we still don’t have a copy. Dammit.

Warhammer RPG release schedule set

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

In a sort of publisher-developer deal thingie, Games Workshop’s new roleplaying imprint Black Industries will release Green Ronin’s new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in February of ’05, at a price point of roughly 15 cents a page. No, I don’t think you’ll be able to buy pages a la carte. A character pack, GM pack, monster book, and set of scenarios will follow it over 60 days or so.

Night of the Living Gamer: 13 Halloween RPGs

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

In just over a week, dressing in funny costumes without being in a LARP will be socially accepted (for the day, at least). To accompany our pumpkin-toting adventurer up there in the corner, Chris Morgan has provided us with his suggestions for a roleplayer’s Halloween. Have a read through Night of the Living Gamer for his creepy RPG selections.

Blue Rose opens the kimono, so to speak

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

(That’s a tech-business expression. Seriously, it is.) Up until today, Green Ronin’s website for the upcoming “romantic fantasy” RPG Blue Rose was a little frustrating, unless you like game fiction. This column from developer Steve Kenson, however, brings some details: an even more stripped-down d20 system than Mutants and Masterminds, an idiosyncratic magic system custom-tailored for the shoujo-ish setting, and a focus on new RPGers.

Rio Grande Picks Up the Pace

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Since the last update I posted, Rio Grande Games has produced not one but two newsletters. They’re fairly similar, though, both previewing the same new titles. We now have photos and descriptions of the forthcoming Carcassonne releases, plus there are first looks at Niagara, a gem-collecting canoe-racing game with a 3-D board; Heart of Africa, a simulation of 19th-century colonial trading companies; and Naval Battles, a World War II game which will presumably appeal to more than just the pure simulationists (unless its publisher has decided to head in a new direction, of course).

A distant deathknell heard

Monday, October 18th, 2004

A news update on the WotC website reveals that production samples of the next D&D Miniatures expansion, Deathknell, have reached the WotC offices. According to the story, “ettins, gold dragons, and a host of undead” are heaped on someone’s desk, as well as a mention of juggling big beholders (I’d imagine those are like petrified Koosh balls, at least where the eyestalks are). We won’t have a chance to check them out in person for a while yet, as Deathknell will be along in March 2005.

Warrior bugs ready to scuttle. Pixar not involved

Monday, October 18th, 2004

Mongoose Publishing has pictures of the Arachnid Warrior Bug for the upcoming Starship Troopers miniatures game and RPG. Coming in a number of poses and pieces, minis enthusiasts can be sure their 30mm scale bugs won’t all be identical. The game is still on course for an early 2005 release.

A rose by any other dice

Monday, October 18th, 2004

Today Green Ronin launched a new website for the upcoming Blue Rose: The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy. Expect fiction, PDF downloads, beautiful artwork, some rules variations brought in from Mutants & Masterminds, and male gamers shying away in hopes of maintaining (obtaining?) a masculine image.

An exciting advance in the “make things fight each other” field

Saturday, October 16th, 2004

The VsTank Micro IR Battle series is a line of small remote-control tanks, about two and a half inches long, the sort that you plug into the controller to recharge. They have a few features you might not be expecting, though – such as infrared sensors on top that detect when they’ve been hit by (oh God oh God) the infrared shooters on the ends of the tanks’ cannons. No joke. They are also equipped to shake when hit and eventually stop moving until reset if they take one hit too many. Tanks retail for about $20 each. Is this the future of miniatures gaming or am I full of crack again?

Aberrations loose on streets

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Since today is the street date for the Aberrations expansion of D&D Miniatures, it seems only fair that WotC has posted the official Aberrations figure gallery (though unofficial galleries have had the images for a while). Some figures in the Aberrations set, the first to have Starter sets since the game was launched, are being drawn from the Forgotten Realms supplement Serpent Kingdoms, making them particularly tasty for my D&D campaign. The sixth set, Deathknell, will arrive early next year with loads of undead. What else do we know?
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Betrayal at House on the Hill reviewed; millions tremble

Friday, October 15th, 2004

When I first got a draft of this review from our freshman staffer Dave Chalker, I had just gotten back home from watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back on Chris’ big screen, and I thought up this brilliant announcement post that had Dave as the young Padawan and all this other crap. I have since forgotten it. Also, I have not thought of anything clever regarding Halloween and the fact that it’s a haunted-house game. Whatever, anyway, he reviewed Avalon Hill’s Betrayal at House on the Hill and I guess he liked it, gimme a drink.

Dear current players of our remaining hit game: we’re smart. Dear everyone else: we’re still dumb

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

Or perhaps I should be kinder to WizKids and characterize their “Open Letter to HeroClix Players Worldwide” as merely mysterious. I mean, they must know that a focus on collectors and the most hardcore of hardcore fans is what almost destroyed the comics industry, right? And that you have to be pretty hardcore to attend a convention, right? And that the focus on things that casual players can’t get is the primary reason their casual players are dropping out like pregnant high-school students, right? So their motivation for drawing attention to all this in an otherwise content-free release must be subtle indeed. Fire up the conspiracy theories!

That’s a no-Go

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

I forgot to mention something else I noticed yesterday during my sojourn into the world of mainstream children’s retail. I idly picked up a copy of manga warhorse Shonen Jump and it fell open to what looked like a page of tips on playing Go. It turns out that Hikaru no Go is a Yu-Gi-Oh-esque tale of a boy who seeks to become the best Go player he can be. What possible commercial force can be driving a medium that usually props up trashy CCGs to start pimping a hard-to-expand (let alone copyright) classic game… albeit one that beats chess up and takes its lunch money? I don’t know but I’m glad to see it.

LEGO made a game that you need

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

So, they were out of HeroScape at Toys’R'Us, but they did have the X-Pod Collector’s Pack, which is exactly the box I wished they would make back when I first noticed the X-Pod Play-Off web page. Another thing I didn’t mention is that X-Pod Play-Off is designed by gamelab, the same studio that did Junkbot, World Builder and a slew of other great work you’ll find linked from their site. Eric Zimmerman of gamelab co-wrote a beautiful book called Rules of Play that features commissioned games by James Ernest, Richard Garfield, and others.

My current mood is always challenging

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

Allen Varney, who recently administered an exemplary game of Lexicon, presents a new spin on that concept, called Noteworthy. It has a GM and seems intended for LiveJournal communities (but adaptable to other forms of the weblog medium). Most LiveJournal RPGs I know of do fine without rules of any kind, but maybe with Noteworthy (or some revision thereof that gets made due to the original’s Creative Commons license), that world will meet ours in the middle.

OgreCave interview: Richard Garfield

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

OgreCave’s visit to last month’s Magic: The Gathering Worlds ’04 in San Francisco now has icing on the cake: Steve’s sent in his interview with game design guru Richard Garfield. Be a fly on the wall as Richard talks about dream projects, the card game scene, and “collectible” being a bad word.

GAMA names new Executive Director

Saturday, October 9th, 2004

In a quiet announcement that apparently wasn’t sent to its news announcement list, GAMA promoted Anthony Gallela to the position of Executive Director. Gallela served as GAMA Operations Director and GAMA Event Manager previously, and co-owns one of the biggest game conventions out in my neck of the woods, Kubla Con. So, I’ll voice what everyone’s thinking: Congratulations. Now, fix GAMA, and be quick about it. No pressure.

Joe Dever Captured by Mongoose

Saturday, October 9th, 2004

Well, perhaps that’s putting it a bit strongly… but Mongoose Publishing will be having an open house on November 6th which will feature a live appearance by Lone Wolf gamebook author Joe Dever. He will be chatting and signing autographs. Only one catch — you’ll have to be in England at the time. More details are available here. Speaking of all things Lone Wolf, Mongoose is also offering some nice new freebies for their RPG based on the gamebooks including character sheets and a D20 conversion of the first adventure. Check it out here.

OgreCave review: Dungeons of Doom

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

The latest map set from Green Ronin is in Matthew’s hot little hands, and he’s given us his impressions of it. See whether Dungeons of Doom scored well with him, or if he’d rather shelve it in someone else’s bookcase.

Taking in the scene

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

While I’m a big fan of Dwarven Forge‘s Master Maze sets for dungeon delving scenarios, and still have to budget for the new Fantasy Floors set, my outdoor and city terrain is somewhat limited. Sure, I’d love to load up on Miniatures Building Authority, but I’d like to keep my real house at the same time. So I’m looking into the latest releases from MicroTactix, the Ruins at Riverside Farm sets.
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HeroScape: you can also hit burglars on the head with the loaded box

Monday, October 4th, 2004

I’ve been wondering when this year’s successor to Epic Duels and BattleBall – that is, this year’s cheap, silly WotC game with a Milton Bradley logo on it instead – would come out. Turns out it came out in June and I just missed it. Oh, and it’s $50.

Heroscape looks to be a simple, flexible combat game, without any of the cool little gameplay uniquenesses that made BattleBall so appealing… but I guess Epic Duels was that way too… but Epic Duels was cheap. On the other hand, a lot of gamers will buy Heroscape just for the massive collection of plastic hexes. Even just one of these boxes will do you pretty well for Classic BattleTech; two of them and you’re stylin’ like the Dwarven Forge booth at Origins, for just a C-note. If I had other uses for the terrain I would totally jump on this, and the gameplay does seem to have its fans, but I’m not comfortable calling this a real successor to Epic Duels at this price point. When it comes to MB games, I want the game to be worth the dough, and the lavish bits to be all gravy. I guess I want too much. I will probably wear down and buy this eventually unless someone warns me off (hint).

Your executive decision to kill time

Friday, October 1st, 2004

I guess that if I spend the bulk of three days playing a web game, I should probably post about it. Nothing special about it, it’s just addictive like whoa. Or woe.