Archive for March, 2012

2012 Origins Awards nominees announced

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Retailer attendees at last week’s GAMA Trade Show made their choices, and now we’ve received word: the 2012 Origins Award nominees are officially up. As usual, the awards ceremony will be announced during the 2012 Origins Game Fair, Saturday, June 2, 2012 in Columbus, OH, and Origins attendees will vote for the winners. And now, on with the list!

The 38th Annual Origins Awards Nominees

Best Roleplaying Game
Abney Park’s Airship Pirates – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – “Captain” Robert Brown, Peter Cakebread, Andrew Peregrine, Ian Sturrock, Ken Walton
Arcanis – Paradigm Concepts – Eric Wiener, Pedro Barrenechea, and Henry Lopez
Ashen Stars – Pelgrane Press – Robin D. Laws
Leverage: The RPG – Margaret Weis Productions – Cam Banks, Rob Donoghue, and Clark Valentine
The One Ring – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – Amado Angulo, Marco Maggi, Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Francesco Nepitello

Best Roleplaying Supplement or Adventure
Bookhounds of London (Trail of Cthulhu) – Pelgrane Press – Kenneth H. Hite
Dragon Age, Set 2 (Dragon Age) – Green Ronin Publishing – Steve Kenson, T.S. Luikart, Chris Pramas, and Jeff Tidball
The Great Clans (L5R 4th Edition) – AEG – Shawn Carman, Rob Hobart, Brian Yoon
Monster Vault (D&D 4E) – Wizards of the Coast – Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, & Matthew Sernett
Shadows over Scotland (Call of Cthulhu) – Cubicle 7 Entertainment – Stuart Boon

Best Board Game
Conquest of Nerath – Wizards of the Coast – Richard Baker, Mons Johnson, & Peter Lee
Automobile – Mayfair Games – Martin Wallace
Hibernia – Closet Nerd – Eric Vogel
High Noon Saloon – Slugfest Games – Cliff Bohm & Geoff Bottone
Pastiche – Gryphon Games – Sean D. MacDonald

Best Traditional Card Game
Cthulhu Gloom – Atlas Games – Keith Baker
NUTS! – Wildfire LLC – Matthew Grau
Red Dragon Inn 3 – Slugfest Games – Geoff Bottone, Jeff Morrow, and Cliff Bohm
Star Trek Deck Building Game – BANDAI – Alex Bykov
Struggle for Catan – Mayfair Games – Klaus Teuber

Best Family, Party or Children’s Game
BEARS! – Fireside Games – Anne-Marie De Witt
Faux-Cabulary – Out of the Box Publishing – Matthew Nuccio
Get Bit! – Mayday Games – Dave Chalker
Scavengers – Zombie State Games – John Werner
Space Mission – Schmidt Spiele – Matthew Worden

Best Miniatures Figure or Line
Forge Father Huscarl – Mantic
Giant Sized X-Men Heroclix – Wizkids/NECA
St. Luke – Dark Age
Storm Strider – Privateer Press
Zombie Wedding Party – Studio Miniatures

Best Miniatures Rules or Expansion
Battletech: The Wars of Reaving – Catalyst Game Labs – Ben H. Rome, Herbert A. Beas, Paul Sjardijn
Carnevale: The Miniatures Game – Vesper-on Games – David Esbri
Light Bikes – Glory Games – J. P. Trostle
Street Fighter Starter Set – Wizkids/NECA – Wizkids/NECA
Tomorrow’s War – Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games – Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter
Warmachine: Wrath – Privateer Press – David Carl, Bryan Cutler, Doug Seacat, Jason Soles, Matt Wilson

Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion
Legend of the Five Rings: Second City – AEG
Magic the Gathering : Innistrad – Wizards of the Coast
Pokemon Black & White: Emerging Powers – Nintendo
World of Warcraft: Dungeon Decks – Cryptozoic Entertainment
World of Warcraft: The Throne of Tides – Cryptozoic Entertainment

Best Game Accessory
Dungeon Tiles: The Witchlight Fens – Wizards of the Coast – Peter Lee & Jason Engle
Dice Earrings – GameScience – GameScience
Dungeon Masters Keep – Gale Force Nine – Gale Force Nine
Munchkin Zombies 2: Armed & Dangerous – Steve Jackson Games – Steve Jackson
Shadowrun Runner’s Toolkit – Catalyst Game Labs – Elissa Carey, Rusty Childers, Cole Davidson, Mark Dynna, Adam Jury, Robyn King-Nitschke, Adam Large, Drew Littell, Elizabeth Nold, Brandie Tarvin, Peter Taylor, Malik Toms, Michael Wich, Russell Zimmerman

Best Game-Related Publication
Cliffourd the Big Red God – Atlas Games – Kenneth H. Hite & Andy Hopp
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design – Open Design LLC – Mike Selinker with Rob Daviau, James Ernest, Matt Forbeck, Richard Garfield, Dave Howell, Steve Jackson, John Kovalic, Richard C. Levy, Andrew Looney, Michelle Nephew, Paul Peterson, Lisa Steenson, Jeff Tidball, Teeuwynn Woodruff, and Dale Yu
Designers & Dragons – Mongoose Publishing – Shannon Appelcline
Untold Adventures – Wizards of the Coast – Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson, John Shirley, Jay Lake, Sarah Zettel, and many more.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons – Wizards of the Coast – Shelley Mazzanoble

Best Historical Board Game
Strike of the Eagle – Academy Games -Brian Bennett, Uwe Eickert, Robert Zak
Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861 – Mayfair Games – Martin Wallace
Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles – Worthington Games – Jim Krohn
Lost Battles – Fifth Column Games – Philip Sabin
No Retreat! The Russian Front – GMT – Carl Paradis
World War II Barbarossa 1941 – Zvesda – Konstantin Krivenko

Best Historical Miniatures Rules or Expansion
SAGA – Gripping Beast – Studio Tomahawk
Waterloo – Warhammer Historical – Mark Latham
Flames of War: Cassino – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd. – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.
Command Combat: Civil War 1861 – Bandwagon Books – Jeff McArthur
Force on Force, 2nd Edition – Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games – Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter
Hail Caesar! – Warlord Games – Rick Priestley

Best Historical Miniatures Figure or Line
Bolt Action WW2 – Warlord Games
Italian Wars – Wargames Foundry
Sudan 1881-1885 – Perry Miniatures
Napoleon at War – Man at War
Tropic Lightning Vietnam War – Battlefront Miniatures Ltd.
Anglo Zulu War – Empress Miniatures

Best Play by Mail or Correspondance Game
Continental Rails – Production R Danard – John Van De Graaf
Hyborian War – Reality Simulations Inc -Edward Schoonover
Phoenix: Beyond the Stellar Empire – KJC Games
Cruenti Dei – Sardarthion Press – Thom Ryng
Heroic Fantasy – Flying Buffalo Inc – Rick Loomis and Steve MacGregor

Giving Cthulhu a G rating

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Cthulhu GloomIn an article in The Guardian today, a reporter reflects on the softening of Lovecraftian merchandise – not its salability, mind you, but rather its hopeless horror being glossed over a bit in favor of a fluffy, cartoony look. This is nothing new: the Great Old Ones have been presented with their hard edges sanded off for many years now, and it certainly wasn’t to teach kids about the Cthulhu mythos – it was to sell. One of the nerdiest properties after Dungeons & Dragons has always been Cthulhu (whether speaking of Chaosium‘s Call of Cthulhu, or just the works of H.P. Lovecraft), and if there’s anything us nerds love, it’s toys and collectibles.

(As an aside, when I ask my 12-year-old daughter what she knows about Cthulhu, she tells me he’s “like an octopus guy, who’s really big, and lives underwater, and eats people, and there’s only one of him.” H.P. Lovecraft? Never heard of him. Yes, I know – I’ve failed to teach her. I know. You’re missing the point.)

Is the “cute-ifying” of all-powerful Cthulhu the makings of controversy, or just clever marketing? These days, there’s cute/plush/Bratz/LEGO/Hot Wheels versions of nearly every popular theme, including zombies, vampires, and demons. An untapped market is hard to resist, especially when the burden of screening and/or explaining the eldritch content is so easily passed to the parents. A Mini Plush Cthulhu (from Toy Vault) was the hot item to send to new gamer parents for a time (Matt Forbeck received four at once a while back), and that (innocent?) trend has broadened considerably since those days. Now Lovecraft fans can select everything from children’s book parodies and dice games to fuzzy Cthulhu slippers and My Little Cthulhu (complete with victims).

Ultimately, selling cute Cthulhu isn’t a bad thing at all. If companies can support Lovecraft fans with products they (or their children) enjoy, more power to them. Just because my daugther grew up around a large plush Cthulhu (which she pronounced “Toolu” until she was 5 or so), it doesn’t automatically mean she’ll be playing through Mansions of Madness anytime soon, if ever. That’s okay. She’s aware of Cthulhu (a startling notion, if you think about it…), and has a vague notion of a larger storyline that she can investigate at her leisure.

If she ever does, though, I’d better teach her more about Lovecraft, or the guys at Chaosium will sic the gugs on me again.