Archive for February, 2010

PAX East on final approach, and selling out fast

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

One month from tomorrow, on March 26, PAX East, the second location for the Penny Arcade Expo, will hit Boston, MA full force. The new show, a spinoff of the original PAX in Seattle (dubbed “PAX Prime” by many), had already sold out of full-show passes over three weeks ago, and with only a few hundred single day passes currently left for Friday and Sunday – well, if you were on the fence about going, you’d better commit or forget. This inaugural show’s official schedule just went up yesterday, adding to the considerable excitement that resulted two weeks ago when Wil Wheaton was announced as PAX East’s keynote speaker. If you can’t make it out to Boston, OgreCave will have a representative at the show in the form of Lee Valentine, frequent Cave dweller and one of our staff writers. Actually, he’ll be there whether you attend or not, so… yeah.

Winter is coming, and branding fail is already here

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Fantasy Flight president and founder Christian Petersen on the upcoming “Battles of Westeros: A BattleLore Game”: “We acquired BattleLore to be our core brand for medieval tactical warfare games (in the scale represented in the classic BattleLore game). The BattleLore name is not necessarily tied to Richard’s ‘Command and Colors’ system.”

Right, right, Christian, because you’re the one who gets to decide what names are tied to in people’s heads. Yyyyyeahnotreally. Any competent marketer will tell you that brands don’t move like that (and yes, for those of you who begin frothing and spitting as soon as the M word crosses your screens, BattleLore certainly is already a brand as well as the name of a game; Days of Wonder’s brilliant launch campaign saw to that). But once a brand is tied to something conceptually, if you try to change that link, you’re vulnerable to all sorts of emotional reactions from fans (should your brand be lucky enough to have fans), including one of the worst: betrayal. I hope FFG is ready to hear BattleLore fans complain bitterly about Westeros no matter how it differs, and to watch more hardcore gamers turn up their noses just because the name BattleLore is there.

Elsewhere in the linked mini-interview is an enlightening tidbit on why DoW sold BattleLore in the first place; look for it. As for Westeros, I’m interested to see it for what it is on its own terms, but… no release date.

OgreCave Gaming News Update: Holy podcast! A Hero Games interview!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

What’s that you say? You remember when the Ogres used to have voices, echoing from deep within the Cave in podcast form? So do we. Now that some problematic software issues seem to be resolved, we’re going to ease back into some recordings of gaming goodness, starting a new episode of the OgreCave Gaming News Update. The relaunch episode kicks things off with my interview of Hero Games’ Darren Watts, recorded at DunDraCon 34 last weekend. In the episode, we briefly discuss Champions for Hero: Sixth Edition, which Hero sold preview copies of at the show. Darren also talks about upcoming 2010 releases, including early details of his Champions Beyond project, and fields unexpected questions from a young assistant interviewer (my daughter).

Have a listen, tell us what you think, and let us know if any glitches turn up. We’ll be hard at work getting the OgreCave Audio Report back up to speed as well.

OgreCave review – WEGS 101: Old Skool

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Just what the heck is WEGS? Demian had a close look at the Wickedly Errant Game System in his review of WEGS 101: Old Skool by Gamewick Games. In a rather saturated fantasy roleplaying market, does WEGS manage to rise above the pack, or does it blend in with the rest of its competitors? Read on to find out.

OgreCave reviews – Doctor Who RPG

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

To help ease you through the week, Demian sent in his review of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, the recent roleplaying release from Cubicle 7. Demian has experience with previous Dr Who games, so like many of us, he was curious about the latest system to take on the good Doctor. Click through to see what he learned about the game, and while you’re at it, feel free to browse.

Thunderstone Sells Out for Alderac

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Thunderstone has had strong sales for Alderac Entertainment Group. AEG is currently sold out of the product. They are planning another print run equalling the size of the first one. They also intend to print the game in 5 other languages shortly (via partners). Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements, the first expansion for the game, should have an estimated launch in the second quarter of 2010. Check out our recent review of Thunderstone.

DunDraCon 34: Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG in development

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Though Goodman Games hasn’t announced it yet, and Joseph Goodman’s only given vague hints of “something fun in the works”, a few of us at DunDraCon 34 this past weekend got a taste of this secret RPG project. Goodman was playtesting an early version of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, which was exactly what fans of the DCC adventures would imagine – a streamlined, deadly, 1st Edition D&D throwback with some D&D 3.5e influences. As already mentioned, no release date or details have been announced as yet, but I’d wager we may see it in stores early 2011, possibly sooner. In the session I joined, character building took less than five minutes, and cast each of us as not one, not two, but three 0-level peasants out to strike it rich as glamorous adventurers. You can probably guess why we made so many characters – yes, the mortality rate caused comparisons to a session of Paranoia, but we had some truly horrible luck as well. We’ll talk more about my preview of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG in the OgreCave Audio Report (which the Ogre shamans are casting resurrection on as I write this) sometime next week.

OgreCave review – Thunderstone

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Before I head off to DunDraCon for the weekend, I’ve posted Lee’s latest review. This time, Lee has provided us with his thoughts on Thunderstone by Alderac Entertainment Group. This new card game is a deck-construction title along the lines of Dominion, and hopes to tap into that game’s large fanbase. Have a look, or browse through our other reviews for more gaming recommendations.

OgreCave review – Dragon Age: Origins

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

For the first time, OgreCave’s review section includes a detailed look at an electronic RPG. That’s right, Dennis has provided us with his thoughts on Dragon Age: Origins, the gorgeous RPG release from BioWare for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. You’ve seen the previews and commercials – now click through and see if you need to pick up a copy for your gaming needs.

Things are super: BASH-ing the Marvel out of me

Friday, February 5th, 2010

A couple weeks back, and for the first time in over two decades, I joined in a superhero RPG session. This was big for me – I got burned out on comics long, long ago when Peter Parker was revealed as a cheap knock-off clone of the “real” Spiderman, or was revealed to eat babies in his spare time, or some nonsense. Sure, I dabbled from time to time thereafter, reading an issue or two of whatever my friends recommended, but for all intents and purposes, I had stopped pursuing comics as a hobby.

Anyway, in this case, it was BASH! Ultimate Edition by Basic Action Games that drew me back in – the invite was hard to pass up when it came from Chris Rutkowsky, the game’s creator. (My one-session impression: a clean, quick system with decent flexibility. We’ll have a full review soon-ish.) In all, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, and was surprised to continually flash back to memories of the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG, circa oh-god-I’m-getting-old (’84).

All of this is my round-about way of saying that, apparently, I’m not the only one reminiscing about the RPG of True Believers these days: earlier today, co-designer Jeff Grubb posted a nostalgic timeline-like list on the Marvel Super Heroes RPG that provides a glimpse into the secret wars world of designing not merely a spandex-clad roleplaying experience, but dealing with licensing issues (always a fun time). If you ever gamed in TSR’s version of the Marvel Universe, or wish you had, this is a must-read.

By the way, Basic Action Games just announced a print plus PDF bundle through IPR, so if you picked up a copy of the original edition from your Gamers Help Haiti downloads, and want to see more, this is your chance.

Steve Jackson tops gaming geek list

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Make no mistake – we applaud Steve Jackson‘s victorious rank of #1 on this list of 30 Great Gaming Geeks. But, wow, look at who Geekosystem placed him ahead of: Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (the Penny Arcade guys) are at #12, Richard Garfield is way back at #16 – hell, he even beat Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, and many other iconic gaming characters. Even Evil Stevie himself is shocked by the outcome. Still, congrats, Mr Jackson, just the same.

Gamers Help Haiti raises $178,900

Friday, February 5th, 2010

From the moment it started, it was clear the Gamers Help Haiti charity fundraiser at DriveThruRPG would pull in big numbers. Indeed, convenience and reward made for a very successful charity drive – to the tune of $178,900, far beyond similar game industry charity events. For you slackers that didn’t contribute yet, you can always go directly to Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross and donate yourselves silly.

OgreCave – Year Ten: Let it begin, again

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

On this day in 2001, OgreCave truly got rolling. The dot-com collapse suddenly gave me a lot of free time, and with my brother Mike as my partner, we invited several collaborators from my Gamers.com days (and earlier) to help with a new site. Others soon joined us, and with their dedicated help, the site has spent years surging from our cavernous corner of the net to club news, reviews, and interviews over the head to mount on the Cave’s walls. We’ve made our occasionally-insightful growls echo forth in podcast form, and traveled to numerous conventions and trade shows to hunt down fresh news.

This won’t be stopping anytime soon. In fact, we have big plans. We can’t reveal too much right now, but I want to assure everyone that we’re still on the prowl. In particular, the OgreCave Audio Report, which stalled out due to software problems, will be relaunching very soon. Other features will launch this year as well, hopefully within the next several weeks. We hope you’ll help spread the word when the time comes.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to join the Cave dwellers and help out around the site, drop me a line at sven (at) ogrecave (dot) com with the title “Joining the ranks”, and we’ll chat. As for the rest of you: stay tuned.