Archive for August, 2005

He’s played Tactics II? SEIZE HIM!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

In the Summer 2005 issue of Games Quarterly, Hasbro’s former CEO and still Chairman of the Board, Alan Hassenfeld, namechecked several old Avalon Hill titles (including his claim to have had a Tactics II “phase”) and described himself as a current player of contemporary titles like Duel Masters and Heroscape as well as Acquire. Less than two months later, it is announced that he will step down as a Hasbro employee (while retaining his seat on the board) at the turn of the year. “It is dismissed… as coincidence.”

Seriously, though, if he had lots to do with the AH acquisition, I think he’s left the hobby in a better condition than when he started. Good luck out there, sir.

Invisible City Offers Full Scholarship to Magic School

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

I’m a little late in posting about the latest free game of the month from Invisible City, but it’s just as well — I’d hate for it to get lost in the sea of GenCon posts. Magic Spell casts players as students of magic attempting to learn spells as quickly as possible. Spells are represented by cards with words on them, and letter tiles are drawn to construct the spells. Once spells have been constructed, they can be cast to cause special effects in the game. This one pulls together elements from a lot of different games, and it looks like it should have something to please several different kinds of gamer; as usual with this series of games, you have little to lose by giving it a shot — the price is right, as always.

Audio Report: slowly driving a stake into the heart of GenCon

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Yup. 45 minutes of action. We put plenty of links in the show summary this time, and you can have at the discussion here.

GenCon 05 aftermath: return of the Audio Report

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Back on the stick! Back in the seat! Back on maybe some metaphor that doesn’t sound as dirty! Here’s 28 minutes of good stuff from the GenCon show floor. We might paste some more into the regular on-mic podcast, which should get back on track for next week into the foreseeable future. Enjoy!

I am a rocker, I rock out

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Witness the all-out free RPG onslaught that is Metal Öpera!!!

GenCon 05 aftermath: the smallest game at the show

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

I didn’t find many little tiny small-press surprises at Gen Con… not the kind that I always find at Origins, anyway. Maybe the really tiny companies are priced out of Gen Con’s booth space, or maybe the smaller games are just always gonna be of the roleplaying persuasion (and hence either located at the Forge booth or probably forgettable). But by sheer chance I found I Win – it was sharing a booth with the Wench guy, and I sure wouldn’t have touched that booth with a ten-foot pole if I hadn’t been directed there by the woman who clued me into I Win. It’s 16 black and white cards, it directs you to the website for instructions, and it’s so beautiful it’s like a little poem. It’s like a very charming, baroque elaboration of rock-paper-scissors or something. It does, in fact, hinge on your playing one of the cards that says “I Win.” My only complaint is that when I tried to pull up the rules on my cell phone browser, I couldn’t because they’re a PDF for no damned reason. But it’s a tiny PDF so you can check it out with impunity. Go!

Halo movie plans confirmed

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

According to Variety, Microsoft’s hit X-box game Halo will see a movie adaptation in 2007. The rights to the film were up for grabs for some time, and Fox and Universal finally took the bait jointly. Now, while I’m a big Bungie fan, I’m still a bit gunshy after the Dungeons & Dragons movie. Here’s to hoping the movie studios put someone at the helm that has at least half a clue.

GenCon ’05 aftermath: WotC & Upper Deck pre-game shows

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

By request, Steve has uploaded video of the missing press announcements foreshadowed by Peter Adkison in his “State of GenCon” press conference. Here’s the (very) short press announcements on Indy’s first day, from Claire Vail of Wizards of the Coast and Claudine Ricanor of Upper Deck.

WotC and Upper Deck press announcements (Quicktime required)

GenCon ’05 aftermath: Travel the world to meet NPCs and kill them

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

All the roleplaying cognoscenti at the show were talking about this: Otherworld Excursions is an “adventure tour agency,” only instead of adventuring off to some real place in this world, you go someplace in America and have some kind of location-appropriate tabletop RPG experience with a legendary GM and industry luminary. Ken Hite, John Tynes (!!!) and Dwarven Forge’s Stefan Pokorny are the starting lineup, offering events in Chicago, Port Townsend WA, and New York respectively. It feels like this idea has been waiting to happen for a while – maybe it’s been waiting for a good tabletop session to truly become a luxury item. In any event I think it’s a stellar example of how the RPG industry will likely adapt to market change over the next ten years. (Hint: services, not products.)

GenCon ’05 aftermath: oh em gee, a playtest

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

Steve and I did finally get to play Clout Fantasy. It’s good. I would even venture to say that it is a better Diceland than Diceland. Thing with Diceland is that it’s both very random and very chaotic, which are not the same thing. The chaos in Diceland is made of the unrandom parts, the parts that are kind of knowable, in theory, but you’re never going to know them, without being some kind of savant or putting in way too much work ahead of time. The random factors in CF have been stripped to the bare minimum – there’s no directionality and one side – so all the cognitive load you have is the inherent qualities of the chip, and of course remembering what all the damn special abilities do. The set of abilities is pretty diverse up front, so that’s not inconsiderable, and I can see this game bogging down for some players as a result… but not as much as they would if you analyzed all the knowables in Diceland.

Anyway, it turns out that the price point is not a disaster – $15 gets you 30 chips in the form of two fixed, well-matched stacks that have very decent replay value. That price might have been a GenCon special but I don’t think so. I know that the boosters will be $2.50 for two chips. The boosters could have one more chip in them and I’d be happy, but having each player add four chips every week would not be an unreasonable way to grow the game.

Finally, playing on the carpet is fine as long as you are not anal about allowing rethrows for things that roll away to someplace inconvenient. Mind any furniture that you cannot reach under without injury or paralyzing fear. Clout safely, everyone!

Live at GenCon ’05: Dungeons and Dragons Online Demo

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

We stopped by the Turbine booth to check out their upcoming massively multiplayer online roleplaying game: Dungeons and Dragons Online. Check out the video.

Turbine Presents: Dungeons and Dragons Online (Quicktime required)

2005 ENnies winners announced

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

Amidst all the excitement of GenCon Indy, the 2005 Gen Con EN World RPG Award winners were announced. The winners are copied below, though all of the nominees are worth checking out.

Live at GenCon ’05: Jason Mical of WizKids

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

Steve’s prepping more video footage, so he asked me to point out Mike’s interview with Jason Mical, WizKids Marketing Director. Watch the video and learn more about WizKids’ current plans, including some tidbits on NASCAR Race Day and the Battlestar Galactica CCG.

Jason Mical of WizKids (Quicktime required)

D&D Minis news trickling out of Indy

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

According to numerous websites, there’s a fair amount of D&D Miniatures information coming out of GenCon. Here’s what I’ve been able to round up:

Live and mostly conscious from Gen Con Indy 05

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

Troll Lord claims to be doing really well with their OGL-adaptation Castles and Crusades. They mentioned how they let online fans in on the development of the game – Daniel Chenault specifically talked about how, no matter how smart a designer is, he’s never going to be as smart as the whole Internet. Good man – I wish more design processes would let fans in. C&C looks simple and sharp – a basic old-school fantasy RPG romp. Good times for those who seek good times in such.

Shifting Forest does what they call “Parlor LARPs” – live game books designed for four to eight players, which I can imagine would materially change the LARP experience by a lot. And they’re doing a lot of the darn things. They handed me The Queen of Hearts, a murder mystery with intriguing atmosphere, and an adultified, dark take on Snow White. They still look a little systems-heavy to me, but Steve says they’re the LARPs for people who hate LARPs. Because apparently Steve hates LARPs. I’d link to their site but they told me it was broken and to try in a couple days. Google is your friend.

Forge-a-mania! The great thing about the Forge booth is that whatever you pick up from that little stand full of books, some game designer standing nearby will point to it and go, “Dude! I love that game. I stole a mechanic from it for my game! Plus if you like that you should really check out this other guy’s game over here! And yip yip yip yip arooooo!” (Note: small-dog barking and howling added for emphasis) Thing about the Forge books is that each is small (good) and more expensive than you’d think (also good and sensible in my opinion), but so many of them look worth owning that you actually end up spending a hell of a lot. I picked up Emily Care Boss’ Breaking the Ice (“A Game About Love, For Two” – I was too scared of it to not buy it), Under the Bed by Joshua Newman (the spare, tiny visual design got me to buy it, and it looks similar to Puppetland), and the No Press RPG Anthology (eight standalone games in one big ol’ green book I’ve never seen in a store). Tomorrow I might go back for The Mountain Witch (phenomenal buzz on this), Dogs in the Vineyard, or, God help me, something else. It seems like half the RPG energy at the show is focused on the Forge (and stuff like it, such as Wicked Dead), with the other half split between the Serenity RPG and Green Ronin.

The Torg Revised-and-Expanded “1.5” edition is indeed in print at the show. Not so much energy there, but hey, yay for products on time.

Demoed the City of Heroes CCG. There is a tremendous amount going on in this game, even in slim 25-card demo decks, but the design still feels really elegant – probably as elegant as a make-your-own-super card game could be. I know I’ve said this kind of thing before, notably about the luckfest that was Initial D, but I was impressed and I think it might have legs (by depressed CCG standards anyway). Have not yet demoed WizKids’ High Stakes Drifter nor, I’m very sad to say, Clout Fantasy. I hope to at least fix the latter situation later tonight.

My legs hurt.