Archive for April, 2008

Roll the dice, win a lawsuit

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Who says the small guy always loses? Apparently, Crystal Caste just won a lawsuit against Hasbro over a dice design patent. Michael Bowling of Crystal Caste was awarded $446,182 in royalties for Hasbro’s patent violation, caused by the game industry giant’s use of a die patented by Bowling in a version of Monopoly – do not pass go, do not use patented designs without permission. Couldn’t Hasbro afford to buy a few? Certainly buying in bulk would’ve resulted in a great deal.

Seen and heard at GAMA Trade Show 2008, part 2

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Okay, I had to work this weekend, but I’ve finally had a chance to sit down again and really try to mention as many GTS ’08 releases as I can recall. If you’re just joining us, start with my first GTS post, then head back here.

By the way, GAMA seems to be sticking with the just-after-Easter start, proceeding with the theory that starting Monday instead of Easter Sunday itself will solve the scheduling problem. Never mind that many retailers and exhibitors will be watching over their kids for spring break… In all, the Easter timeframe still seems like a very bad plan for GTS 2009 and 2010.

To the games:

  • White Wolf is working away on Hunter: The Vigil for a Gen Con release, but I didn’t see any previews at the show. Meanwhile, WW’s other lines are going strong – Dogs of War for World of Darkness, some Exalted setting books (and an Exalted boardgame, Legacy of the Unconquered Sun, in June), Scion: Ragnarok this summer, and other RPG goodies. The Mwahahaha! boardgame of mad scientist mayhem looks fun as well.
  • Mongoose is about to hit with Traveller any day now, and start powering the return of Starship Troopers, Judge Dredd and others with the same system.
  • Though I mentioned this in the comments of my first show summary post, two of the biggest RPG releases on the horizon are Green Ronin’s George R.R. Martin licensed games. A Song of Ice and Fire comes out this summer, sporting a new game system and two support products in the fall. Wild Cards, a campaign setting for Mutants & Masterminds.
  • Games Workshop will have a boxed set later this year with over $300 of Warhammer 40K figures for a mere $60. They’ll also have an awesome Hydra figure, with custom head/neck pieces available through direct ordering. After all, you want to see two heads growing back where one was chopped off, right? Ah, if only I could paint…
  • The Indie Press Revolution booth had an assortment of new goodies on display: Spirit of the Season from Evil Hat Productions; the hardcover edition of Arc Dream’s Monsters and Other Childish Things; Greg Stolze’s Reign; and Profane Miracles for Pelgrane Press’ The Esoterrorists, among others. In the larger hall, roleplayers were also drooling over Mind Storm Labs’ Alpha Omega RPG, a 404-page full-color tome of dark futuristic beauty.
  • Days of Wonder was showing off the Ticket to Ride Card Game, due out next month. The Merlin’s Company expansion for Shadows over Camelot, which comes with Merlin and Sir Bedevere figures, was also on display well ahead of its July release.
  • Though I didn’t see them at the show, Smirk & Dagger’s flier announced plans for two more Cutthroat Caverns expansions – Relics & Ruin (around GenCon), and Tombs & Tomes (Oct).
  • Ninja versus Ninja, baby. Out of the Box Games has a hit with this two player boardgame of positional strategy, due out in August. John Kovalic’s ninja and sensei figures, hand painted for the game (though probably not by Kovalic himself), are perfect.
  • Atlas Games was proudly displaying Mad Scientist University (which we’ll have a review of soon). Michelle Nephew was kind enough to give me a look at Where the Deep Ones Are, Ken Hite’s “story of childhood terror”, illustrated in 32 pages of full color by Andy Hopp – creepy in all the right ways.
  • Speaking of Andy Hopp, Mutha Oith Creations will continue to explore the Low Life setting this summer in a card game called Dementalism: The Low Life Memory Game. For 2-12 players, expect this one to sell for $19.99.
  • Shadowcircle Press had one of the show’s little gems, the Adventurer Card Game. Special cards were designed by Gary Gygax, Tom Wham and James Ward, respectively. Gary’s card, a character named Shade the Trickster, is one powerful fellow. Expect to see this in distribution soon, with an expansion later this year.
  • Miniature Building Authority, intentionally or not, is playing into the excitement surrounding the next Indiana Jones movie – models like the Rope Bridge, the Old Temple, and the River Trading Post look like they came straight out of the films.
  • Catalyst Game Labs had the biggest tech manual Classic Battletech has ever seen, Technical Readout 3039. This baby is absolutely massive, and packed with every vehicle and mech you could need.
  • Griddly Games brought Wise Alec to the show, a younger-players’ trivia boardgame that had a crisp, bright-looking board, questions in history, science, and spelling, as well as two difficulty levels. They weren’t in distribution yet when I spoke with them, but GTS is the place they could score a deal.
  • I knew Dragonfire Lasercrafts had gone into creating laser-cut wooden ship templates for use with miniatures, but I had no idea things were so far along. The company has numerous ship designs now, and will have a Viking Longship in May, and a multi-deck Deluxe Galleon in June. This is in addition to all the useful wooden RPG tokens and medieval boardgames in the company’s collection.
  • Midnight Syndicate, the masters of RPG soundtracks, had the recently-released soundtrack to The Dead Matter, a horror flick coming later this year. As with all Midnight Syndicate releases, many tracks on this CD can add cool, creepy feel to your game sessions.
  • Bucephalus Games will have a metric ton of releases this year – 23 titles are listed on the handout for summer ’08 releases – from a variety of designers, including Mike Selinker (as he mentioned here). Three different Mad Scientist games (Frankenbuilder, Lab Rats, and Final Exam) prove the theme’s a popular one this year. The inkblot game Rorschach sounds like it will have gameplay similar to Apples to Apples. The two party games Top Ten: The Bill of Rights and Top Ten: The Ten Commandments have Selinker influence, and each involve achieving individual goals for the final set of rules players vote on. None of these games were retail-ready yet, so packaging style and production quality remain to be seen.
  • McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds had several themed expansion sets for You’ve been Sentenced, the only game officially endorsed by Miss Delaware (no, really – weird and unexpected, but any PR is good PR).
  • Chessex will be importing some sweet dice pendants, made by a company in Italy. Each holds a Chessex-sized die of a certain type, which can be swapped out for another die of the same type. Customizable dice jewelry seems like a sure-seller.
  • Darkson Designs was running demos of the AE-WWII Miniature Wargame, which stands for Alternate Events WWII. I nearly got crushed by some sort of cyber-gorilla, while undead soldiers charged my battle armored warrior. The figures for this look excellent.
  • Gozer Games brought Collateral Damage: The Anime Board Game. Players each take the role of a gang boss trying to take over Neo Japan, all while fighting, falling in love, and accidentally causing – you guessed it – collateral damage to sections of the city, making them less valuable. If I remember correctly, over 50 characters were available in the game.
  • Blue Orange Games had collector’s editions of Double Shutter and Bendomino (which we reviewed here), and a nifty penguin-themed kids game Pengoloo, as well as some new packaging for certain titles.
  • Red Juggernaut was showing off Battue: Storm of the Horse Lords, which we recently posted a review of here.
  • Chad at Your Move Games showed me the two-card Red Dragon, Hydra, and other beasts for Battleground, as well as the Rome versus Carthage historical sets (elephants!), and mentioned the fall release of the random mission deck for quickly creating campaigns. Good stuff.

In all, no earth shattering announcements this year, but a great time catching up with folks in the industry, and getting acquainted with the games we’ll be seeing throughout the coming year.

Seen and heard at GAMA Trade Show 2008

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Since I’m borrowing a machine yet again – man, I need a laptop – I’ll give you a quick braindump of things seen and heard at the GAMA Trade Show ’08 this year. I’ll post more when I can sit down longer, and we’ll discuss everything in detail next time we record an Audio Report episode.

Many of the show’s exhibitors and attendees missed the show schedule addendum, which explained room costs had been negotiated lower for next year (yay!) by agreeing to hold both 2009 and 2010 starting on and during the week immediately following Easter Sunday (What?!?). Nearly everyone I spoke with thought the move was beyond a bad idea – doesn’t anyone remember the final nail in Gen Con UK’s coffin a couple years ago? Reportedly, GAMA is now rapidly backpedaling on this announcement.

Now on to the games:

  • James Ernest and Mike Selinker have their fingerprints all over the show this year. Steve Jackson Games is bringing out Lord of the Fries: Third Edition, a boxed version which has a minor rules tweak and a new menu. Paizo Publishing was showing off a new version of Falling featuring the popular goblins from Pathfinder products. Paizo also plans a card game called Yetisburg, a comedic historical-ish design for two players by Mike Selinker and Joshua Frost, and yes, it has yetis wearing Civil War uniforms. Duncan Toys is working on finalizing Warball, another Selinker design. Not the game you played during PE in grade school, it’s a cross between Marbles and a CCG, with metal miniatures cast inside certain rare marbles. There’s at least two other Ernest and/or Selinker titles I’m forgetting, too.
  • Yes, Upper Deck’s World of Warcraft CMG looks outstanding. Especially the dragon. My players had better watch their backs, as I’ll be springing some of these goodies on them eventually.
  • Looney Labs will have Monty Python Fluxx this fall. Yes, it will use Creeper cards – including a lot of spam. Done deal.
  • Twilight Creations, the Zombies!!! folks, will bring us Humans!!! in July. The game will be playable alone or in combination with Zombies!!, which should be sweet.
  • Steve Jackson Games should have the Munchkin boardgame ready by Origins. Though I’m not a Munchkin fan, I’m cautiously optimistic.
  • Privateer Press’ Monsterpocalypse looks great, nearly ready for its fall release – two big monster figures and their powered-up versions, multiple buildings and support units, all in each collectible one player starter for $29.99. Kinda wish they were two player starters, but the game’s enjoyable enough that I might buy in anyway.
  • Fantasy Flight, quite possibly the show’s MVP, was showing off all sorts of lovely figures from Dust Tactics, while giving away starter sets of the Mutant Chronicles CMG – frighteningly gorgeous figures. Amidst other announcements, the company has plans for both a Battlestar Galactica boardgame and a Gears of War boardgame. The Anima RPG is finally due out this summer, after being delayed again to catch up with Spain, which just released the game’s second edition. As predicted, Talisman: Fourth Edition will be designed to receive expansion sets, which may not be a bad thing – after all, the game’s best version, Talisman: Second Edition, had plenty of expansion sets.
  • This fall, Flying Frog Productions will release A Touch of Evil, a boardgame with the same style as Last Night on Earth, that can be played competitively or cooperatively. An original CD soundtrack will come with the game, and the supernatural beast is randomly determined each session.
  • Yes, Valley Games had a pre-production version of Titan. Production value on this one is great, and will have some added reference charts to speed gameplay.
  • Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd has scheduled three books each for Serenity and Battlestar Galactica. Serenity Adventures comes in June, followed in August by Six Shooters & Spaceships, and the Big Damn Heroes Handbook in September. BSG fans will get Colonial Military in September, Ships of the Fleet in November, and Battlestar Galactica Adventures in January ’09. A new Tom Wham boardgame, Dragon Lairds, arrives next month, and the Demon Hunters RPG, based on the film by Dead Gentlemen Productions, will ship any day now.
  • D&D 4e is here. But since we all knew it would be, even Wizards of the Coast doesn’t seem to be making a big production out of it. Odd, that.

I’ll get more posted when I can, though at this rate, it may have to wait until after the trip home.

Long review, average-length Audio Report

Monday, April 21st, 2008

First, if it escaped your attention, Lee Valentine has an exhaustively thorough look at Ken Hite’s new Trail of Cthulhu RPG. If you’ve got questions about whether this latest complete game on the Mythos is the one for you, Lee probably has answers.

Second, our post-DunDraCon podcast is finally ready for your ears. Enjoy, and post your comments.

Because you weren’t confused enough: WotC modifies the D&D 4 license deal

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Announcement. The upshot as far as I can tell is that the SRD will now be free, to someone anyway, and the go date for publishing 4E GSL-licensed material will be October, not January 2009 or whatever it was. That is, the associated SRD will be free for download on 6/6, and a few hand-picked folks are getting it early. And guess what: something called a D20 license (in this case, a D20 GSL) will be coming back, for the benefit of third parties who’d like to do non-fantasy material. Still no word, from what I can tell, on what either GSL’s terms actually are.

OgreCave reviews: Battue, MagnetX, Marvel Heroscape

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

A trio of boardgame reviews just went live on the site, each catering to slightly different tastes. First, Lee has a detailed look at Battue: Storm of the Horse Lords from Red Juggernaut. Then I’ve thrown in my review of MagnetX by relative newcomer PsyX Games. Finally, Lee gets the heroes brawlin’ by checking out Hasbro’s Marvel Heroscape. Enjoy ’em, and we’ll see what else we can post before our GAMA Trade Show ’08 coverage takes over next week.

Traveller previews done, game imminent

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

The final preview of the new Traveller rulebook is up at Mongoose Publishing’s website, giving fans an early peek at a Scout ship. Despite the company’s aborted attempt at an in-house printing facility, the new edition arrives at the end of the month, so it’s almost time to try out the latest incarnation of the RPG that has had more versions than any other (by my unofficial count, at least). Due to the line on the Character Generation Checklist that prompts players to “Roll for survival on this career”, it sounds like Mongoose was trying for the spirit of the original character creation process, wherein a character could die before ever being played (which seems ridiculous when you first hear it, but not everyone has a happy backstory, ya know?). Mongoose promises to employ the Traveller system to power updates of titles that include Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, and Starship Troopers, so fans of those lines may want to get onboard for this month’s release as well. We’ll soon see how well the new version is received, and whether third party support will rally – either under its OGL or more defined Traveller Logo license.

April Fool’s Day at Wizards

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Normally, I wouldn’t comment on the April Fool’s Day wackiness – other than to say “duck and cover”, perhaps – but Wizards of the Coast managed to be fairly amusing with this year’s round of pranks. The day’s wackiness has been archived, but be sure to check out the mock 4E character sheet preview, where alignment has one checkbox each for Autobot or Decepticon. It doesn’t get any geekier than that.