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Do you fear Settlers of Catan?
Yes, but only with my friends
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Christmas Gift Guide 2010 (11/26/10)
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Christmas Gift Guide 2008 (11/27/08)
Screams from the Cave 2008
Ogres' Choice Awards 2008 (9/12/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2007 (11/30/07)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2007 (8/17/07)
GAMA Trade Show 2007 report (4/27/07)
Christmas Gift Guide 2006 (11/30/06)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2006 (7/28/06)
Christmas Gift Guide 2005 (11/29/05)
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GAMA Trade Show 2008 report, part 2
GAMA Trade Show 2008 report, part 1
Frag Beta Capsule Review (4/14/01)
Battle Cattle Minis Preview (2/28/01)

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Unplugged Gaming News And Views
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
7:19 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Star Wars Attack of the Clones TCG First Look
So I bought the two-player starter because it was so damned cheap, for the sole reason of reporting on it... then I forgot to report on it! But it's okay because I'm pretty sure it's all still the same! Here's the deal: combat reminds me somewhat of Fight City. Cards act in descending order of speed, no matter who controls them. Your strength is how many dice you get to roll, and for each die that comes up 4 or above, you deal a point of owies. Allan worried that this would make luck dominate, but it feels to me (without having played) that luck will just be the main factor you weigh to make your tactical decisions, like in Formula De. And really, when you're rolling six dice at a shot, your odds of rolling really bad for very long are pretty low. Also, the dice thing lets them have Critical Hits, which always make the kids scream in nearly sexual glee.

Anyway you're having these combats on three fronts: characters, ground units, and space units. Shades of The Queen's Gambit, and possibly the only way a Star Wars game should be designed from here forward. I love it when games tell us valuable things about other cultural artifacts. Games as criticism? Huh. There's a Force track of points that you get reissued every turn, and those get slurped up by card special abilities, mainly. Looks like a strong game, slightly less complex than the fundamentals of Magic without being at all Magic-like. Are CCGs back in the saddle?

Monday, April 29, 2002
10:46 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Inner City Lemmings Going Online
Inner City Games has a new deal with Gametable Online to create a multi-player online version of Lemmings in Space. A beta version should be ready by mid- to late October. Soon, players will be killing their rodent space crews through their computers. Roast a few over a solar flare for me.

Excellent Non-Gaming News
Now that I've finally got a DVD player, this news makes me very happy. "This is mine, and this is mine, and all this is mine..."

11:58 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Confounded Furriners! Why Can't They Just Talk American?
Several readers emailed to let me know that The Dark Eye, the RPG mentioned yesterday, is probably Das Schwarze Auge, a popular fantasy RPG in Germany. I should have looked more closely at all the German-language stuff on the FanPro home page, seeing as how I linked to it and all. So apparently there's an English version coming out, maybe, which one reader claims was showcased last Gen Con as "Chronicles of Aventuria." Another reader says you can also get a taste of the game world in a computer RPG called Realms of Arcadia, though searching on that again turned up nothing. Thanks to everyone who wrote to school us. See, this is what I love about Internet journalism - it's really about aggregating the knowledge of the readers, as well as the editors.

Sunday, April 28, 2002
1:45 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Fast Forward To Distribute Shadowrun, BattleTech, Dark Eye
Missed this news earlier in the week: Fast Forward, FanPro, and FASA "announced together that they have entered into an agreement allowing Fast Forward to be the sales and distribution arm for the Classic Battletech game, the Shadowrun roleplaying game and The Dark Eye roleplaying game with all new releases in the future; and that existing FASA and FanPro inventory on those lines as well as Vor, Crucible, Crimson Skies, and Battletech/Shadowrun novels will be available from Fast Forward starting May 1, 2002." You don't see separation between developers and publishers too often in the paper-games industry, but it appears that FanPro's relationship with FFE will be analogous to what you see in video gaming: one company does the creation, another does the selling. Several diligent Google searches turned up nothing on what The Dark Eye actually is or was; maybe I'm clueless, but it looks like the rest of the world is too. Fun!

Saturday, April 27, 2002
9:41 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Silver Age Sentinels Mounts D20 Second-Wave Assault
Guardians of Order have announced that they'll be following up the release of their Tri-Stat System superhero RPG Silver Age Sentinels with a D20 version in time for Gen Con. If I were them, I'd pull a Godlike and throw them both in the same edition, but maybe Godlike's presence in the same genre is a good reason not to.

Friday, April 26, 2002
10:00 AM: Nathaniel James says...
This Is Sick With A Capital S
The first of the Four Horsemen has been found. In Canada. Some might remember WizKids Games' Find the Four Horsemen Contest. The basics of it are that WizKids has made a very few Mage Knight figures of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. Wizkids put these figures in its latest Mage Knight expansion, Sinister. Not only are the Horsemen incredibly rare in their own right, but the lucky gamer(s) that gets all four together first and gets a picture taken of them wins an all expense paid trip to Gencon. So what does the Canadian do?

He puts it on eBay. The auction is here. You can draw your own conclusions about Canada.

So the sum of it is that all I have to do to go to Gen Con for free is to buy four $1000 soft plastic figures on eBay?!? I'm so there!

A slight update. Technically, the one on eBay probably isn't the first. All four have been found in various parts of the country although no one has brought them together as of yet. For more information take a look at MKRealms.

8:06 AM: Nathaniel James says...
RPGs prohibited in Brazilian City
I found this thread over at the EN World forums. The situation is that recently a law banning all Roleplaying Games from the Brazilian City of Vila Velha was approved and signed into law despite the best efforts of a gamer named Tiago. There is an attempt to invalidate the law underway but until its success RPGs are banned from the city. A link was also provided to a Portuguese gaming site that Tiago’s story was first posted. Thanks to Claudio Pozas for first posting the situation at EN World.

Thursday, April 25, 2002
3:56 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
In The Grim Darkness Of The Far Future, There Is Only... Tango!
So I actually got to play the Warhammer 40,000 CCG last night. It's hard to describe why this game feels innovative, because it does, despite the fact that the tactics and battle mechanics all feel ripped out of other games, which themselves were not that innovative. I haven't wanted to say it, but I think it does boil down to the fact that you don't get to keep a hand of cards. Every time you fill your hand with cards in the 40K CCG, you pretty much play them onto the table immediately, or you use them for the secondary battle ability printed upside down on the bottom, then discard what you don't use. You also deploy a lot of guys face down, and you don't get to look at them thereafter. So it's blindness all the way around until you actually fight over one of the five territories on the table. This gives the game a rhythm of sorts, that feels very much like the kind of seat-of-the-pants thinking that a far-future general would have to do. So much of this game is very simple, but it has the potential for real depth.

The trick to that, though, is game balance. I played the Orks starter, against the Imperial Guard starter from the new Coronis Campaign set. I think the Guard pretty much owns. It didn't seem like Aaron even had to try to end up with cards that complemented each other perfectly. He'd played the game before and I hadn't, but still. The Guard is just infantry, infantry, infantry and tanks, tanks, tanks, and they all had special abilities to help each other out (these kinds of synergies are crucial - there aren't any really monstrous overpowered units in the starters, but you can pull some strong, strong combos with common cards). So I know which one I'm playing next time.

I don't really have the cash to be involved in a collectible game right now, but I am thinking about checking out another starter or two to see if there are other potential balance problems between factions. Yeah. That's it. Anyway, if you're looking for collectible kinds of action, you could do a lot worse than 40K. (And as an added bonus, you won't be sending any of that money out of the game industry in the form of enormous licensing fees.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2002
10:31 PM: Nathaniel James says...
As the new guy this'll be my first post. Let's hope I don't break anything. :)

Cyberpunk V.3 Delayed. Again
At R.Talsorian Games a recent rant by Lisa updates the status of a number of RTG products. Most noticeable is the delay (again) of Cyberpunk V.3. The reason given being creator Mike Pondsmith's 12-hour workdays working on the upcoming Crimson Skies XBOX game. Yeah, yeah, we've heard it before. ;) A new release date hasn't been set but Cyberpunk V.3 is still in the works and has been promised along with several supplements to follow up on the new edition. Also of note is a new edition of Castle Falkenstein in a mass-market paperback with select bits of Comme Il Faut included. That's incredibly cool (I'm not quite sure why, but it is...). On top of it all RTG will be releasing an Original Mobile Suit Gundam book. A combined RPG and sourcebook, the "timeline is considered definitive." I wouldn't know; Gundam just doesn't strike my fancy. However, for those of you who do love Gundam dearly, look for it in August.

Personally I'm holding out for Cyberpunk V.3. I want it. I want it now. If I have to to break out into a Veruca Salt song and dance number to get it I will. I swear. And no one wants to see that. Least of all me. :)

WizKids Updates
If you've somehow managed to miss them, here they are. A slew of updates for WizKids Games' upcoming Heroclix: Infinity Challenge. The Superhero Collectible Miniatures Game set in the universe of Marvel Comics. First on the list is a set of Play tips for Spiderman. Second is the actual Rule Book and Super Powers Card so you aren't able to say you didn't know what you were getting yourself into. And to top off the Heroclix news is the announcement of the release party at 11:30pm April 30th at WizKids Games itself. If you're in the area what's your excuse? Get down there. Take pictures. Send them to us. Coincidentally all of this arrives at almost the same time as Spiderman: The Movie. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

Excuse me while I drool in anticipation.

Also on the WizKids front is a picture of the Forestry Mech and a glimpse at the contents of the Starter and Booster box both from the upcoming Mechwarrior: Dark Age. And for budding game designers, there's also a job posting located here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002
4:40 AM: Demian Katz says...
Alien Abduction, Free of Charge
The Penny Games site has released a new free game: Alien Abduction, an entry in the Unequal Forces board game competition. This two-player strategy game pits a human player controlling two genetically-enhanced and well-armed individuals against a legion of replicating little alien monsters. You can play it with Chess and Reversi pieces or you can print out a special PDF-format board and piece set available on the web site with the rules. Either way, it looks like good fun for fans of Checkers-style games who are looking for a little more complication than usual.

Thursday, April 18, 2002
11:34 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Hard to get my mind around the idea that I'll be thirty in less than two hours. Hoo-boy.

Enter The Viking Enters Stores
This week, Atlas Games brings on the norsemen again with Enter the Viking, an 80-page sourcebook for Rune. With "ten cushion encounters and a plot encounter sequence," the vikings in your game will be busy for a while. Chris Aylott (Crouching Wizard, Smashing Hammer) and Michelle A. Brown Nephew (editor of multiple product lines at Atlas) both contributed to the mayhem contained within the tome, so I'll certainly be getting a copy. What better way to forget your age than smashing all who stand before you? Ooh, wait, now no one's going to come to my party. Forget I said that. ;-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2002
12:12 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
French People Threaten To Give Roleplaying Award
GROG stands for "Guide du Roliste Galactique" - "Roleplayer's Guide to the Galaxy," according to the press release. It also nicely suggests "grognard," a French term long used to describe hardcore wargamers, but that's neither here nor there. The point is that the nominees for the Grog d'Or, an award title that ought to remind you of a certain coastal film festival, have just been announced. This almost-totally-intelligible list of nominees features some names you should recognise, including a few that haven't made it to the US just yet. The award winner will be announced May 8th.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002
11:29 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Spelljammer D20. Be Afraid...
The May issue of Dungeon/Polyhedron dares to go back to the Spelljammer setting, revised for the D20 System. The 46-page section details prestige classes, feats, skills, equipment, different uses for spells, several planets, and a bunch of spelljamming ships to cruise through space in. But some of the stranger parts of the original setting have (thankfully) been removed. As Polyhedron editor Erik Mona puts it, this supplemental material "is not the Spelljammer of 1989. It isn't meant to be. It's a re-interpretation of material designer Andy Collins and I enjoyed the first time around." Thank goodness for interpreters.

Monday, April 15, 2002
9:34 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Shamans, Shamans Everywhere
Mongoose Publishing has announced details of the first book in their Encyclopedia Divine series, Shaman, due out in May. This seems to mirror the style of the Encyclopedia Arcane series, introducing new magic theories and prestige classes. The second in the Divine series, Fey Magic, will follow in June. As a GM, I wonder how my players will react to Mongoose's take on shamans as compared to Green Ronin's take on them (with their Shaman's Handbook, due in stores this month). Most likely, we'll end up using some details from both. We're gluttons for punishment. :-)

Roleplaying Tips Weekly # 119
In the latest issue, Roleplaying Tips Weekly takes on a rather fun-yet-difficult topic: GMing powerful characters.

Friday, April 12, 2002
11:33 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Atlas Spans Globe, Brings African Adventures
This August, Atlas Games will bring Nyambe: African Adventures to the d20 System. According to today's press release, the 256-page book (16 of which in full color) will have a variety of goodies. I'll give you their PR laundry list on it; too many weirdly spelled words for me:

  • Twelve new human tribal cultures and six variant non-human races, like the brown-skinned, tailed Wakyambi elves who meddle in the affairs of men from the depths of the bIda rainforest.
  • New core class variants and prestige classes change druids into shamen who worship the natural orisha spirits and are as comfortable in the skin of a panther as in humanoid form.
  • New skills and feats like Ancestral Blessing, Drum Dancer, Elephant Warrior, and Fire Blood are the heritage of every Nyamban, as well as new weapons, armor, and equipment designed for a tropical climate where the heat of the vast savannah is more dangerous than an enemy's spear.
  • The spirit-worship of the mortals has called upon the orisha for new spells and domains such as Darkness, Exile, Fertility, Lightning, and Plague ever since the Dark Time when the Overpower ascended into the sky on the web of a giant spider.
  • Mad omurogo wizards contemplate the contents of mojuba bags to prepare their divination spells, and new magic items like zombi powder turn fallen warriors into true zombis that keep a hideous memory of their former lives. Ritual masks let the wearer become an orisha, and vodou nkisi statues hurl powerful curses at those who dare to use them.
  • And in the dark interior of the continent lurk creatures never before seen by the men of the tamed north lands ... ravenous beasts of the jungle and desert are only the beginning of the danger that awaits those who walk the lands of Nyambe!
I had a look at an early draft of the book at GTS last month, and have to admit that Nyambe is the first book to make me think I might want to run an African-themed campaign. Stylish artwork, a rich setting, and a bright green cover with a dire lion on it! This just may live up to (or even exceed) the $37.95 MSRP.

Thursday, April 11, 2002
11:51 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
First Hostile Climes Approaching
You remember Pinnacle's announcement of the Hostile Climes d20 series, right? Well known writers doing cool settings that can be used with nearly any campaign... this ringing a bell yet? The environment will play a major role in each book -- ah, now you remember. Well, it's here. The first book in the series is Depths of Despair by Matt Forbeck, which dives into "a city at the bottom of a mammoth whirlpool." Lots of aquatic humanoids at war with each other, complimented by "rules for boats, underwater travel and combat, new skills, feats, classes, prestige classes, weapons, equipment, and monsters" (basically, everything d20 fanatics look for). The 128 -page setting goes for a mere $20. Buy me one. And yourself, if you like.

Shaman's Handbook Preview
The Green Ronin machine keeps crankin' out the d20 resources, and they've got a preview posted of their latest, the Shaman's Handbook. This one's been eagerly awaited for a while now, so go get yourself a taste of the Dreamer prestige class, plus a few shaman skills and feats, and stats for the Spirit Ogre Mage. Mmm... ogre mage...

11:44 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
"Last Chance" Auction At Precedence
According to an email we received, "A number of items of memorablia (many belonging to various Precedence employees) have been listed [...] for auction beginning today." Clicking on the auction link at the top of Precedence's site should get you there. Sure is sad to see the company go. Someone with deep pockets should buy them outright, whip their business model into shape and pick up where the company left off. Hey, it worked for TSR. :-)

4:37 PM: Demian Katz says...
Invisible City Files Early
Several days in advance of their April 15th release date, Invisible City Productions have added a new freebie to their just-redesigned monthly games page. The new release, Ice Market, is a sci-fi themed real-time trading game in which players take on the roles of crystal-collecting alien dolphins. It's an interesting-looking game, and it makes use of a wider array of components than usual; you'll need a poker deck, a five-minute timer, paper and pencils, and one of Looney Labs' Icehouse sets.

Also of interest to Invisible City fans is the introduction of a new discussion group at Delphi Forums.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002
2:08 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Cthulhoid Fun In Your Mailbox!
Not play-by-email, no. More like get-played-by-email. Delta Green creator John Tynes' "friend" Thomas Prendergast wants to send you some secret email communiques he's obtained. Hit up his website for the details. (No, the upcoming Delta Green computer game isn't going to be anything like Majestic. Thanks for asking, though.)

Monday, April 08, 2002
5:07 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Warhammer 40K D20 Conversion Rules
Poking through EN World's community news turns up something interesting every once in a while. If you have a copy of Inquisitor, which is already pretty darned close to a 40K role-playing game, and a copy of the Dragonstar Starfarer's Handbook, this site will hook them (and you) up. From the front page: "Expect this page to last only a short while. I do not anticipate tolerance from GW on this matter." Well, all right, then.

2:30 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Triple Threat Of New Reviews Up
To start the week off right, we've got three brand new reviews up for you. First, there's Demian's look at Arrowflight, the new fantasy RPG from Deep 7. Then, to continue the examination of Deep7 products, Matthew gives us a review covering two items, Dime Heroes and Jungle Adventures. Finally, Joe gives us the lowdown on the Palladium Fantasy supplement Eastern Territories. Read up, my friends.

Saturday, April 06, 2002
5:13 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Green Ronin Plot Invasion Of Retail Stores
Green Ronin's about to bust out all over store shelves near you: Shaman's Handbook, Armies of the Abyss, and Freeport: City of Adventure (with the highly detailed map I keep mentioning) have all gone to distributors earlier this week. Meanwhile, the manuscript for Secret College of Necromancy is going into layout this very weekend, so it should be coming along soon. In case none of those are coming out fast enough for you, Green Ronin also posted a free web enhancement for Arcana: Societies of Magic which should hold you for a little while.

Friday, April 05, 2002
2:16 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gratuitous Trailing Vowels Dept.
And then there's KillaCampaigns, a web application for storing and sharing characters and other campaign data and handouts. I'm still trying to figure out precisely what's going on in there, but it looks like it might be useful. But then, if my players have a harder time figuring it out than I do (which seems likely :-), that might indicate that it won't see widespread use. We'll see...

Thursday, April 04, 2002
11:40 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
When Gygax Speaks, People Listen
Troll Lord Games announced The Hermit, a new D20 module by Gary Gygax. The world still has yet to see The Canting Crew, the previously announced rogueish sourcebook by Gygax. Does the old master still have it? The Hermit will apparently borrow a trick from Atlas' Coriolis line, providing rules for two systems - D20 and Gygax's own Lejendary Adventures.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002
11:54 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Warchon Demo Available From Z-Man
With the Warchon PBG at the printers (no, that's Playmark Book Game, not Peanut Butter and Gummi bears), Z-Man Games wanted to give the gaming community a pre-release taste of the upcoming game system. To that end, a PDF Warchon demo is available for all to peruse. With a little setup of the materials provided, you'll be able to give the playmark system a test run. Get your bookmark warriors in formation and dogear your opponent into oblivion! (or something like that)

Delta Green D20
Apparently, John Tynes has posted on the WotC messageboards that the next printing of Delta Green will include D20 stats to be compatible with Call of Cthulhu D20. Naturally, the original CoC stats will also be included. No word on a release date yet, but we'll keep you posted.

3:06 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Citizen Games Hires Skarka As Mafia Guy
Citizen Games has just announced the addition of Gareth-Michael Skarka as their Mafia Line Developer. You know Gareth, right? He designed Underworld, the original Hong Kong Action Theatre! and has freelanced for several other systems. Well, now he'll be guiding the Mafia Role Playing Game, which, as the press release stated, "will specifically be designed to work with the new D20 Modern system." Few details have escaped WotC about D20 Modern thus far, but if Mafia and AEG's Spycraft dovetail with it nicely, we could see a second wave of D20 mania soon. Watch for Mafia this Fall.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002
2:17 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Ships And An Interrogation
We've been busy lurking in the background for a while, but we're starting April's barrage of new OgreCave tidbits with an interview and a review. First, Demian gets some answers out of Deep7 Publishing, the folks responsible for Arrowflight, the 1PG RPGs, and the upcoming Red Dwarf RPG. Then Matthew brings us his thoughts on Ships of War, the latest release from Mongoose Publishing. Additional tidbits will follow, so be alert, and check back at OgreCave regularly. Mind the pit traps, though.

Monday, April 01, 2002
4:00 AM: Demian Katz says...
Syzygy Reaches Invisible City
The latest monthly free game from Invisible City Productions is up and ready to be played. Syzygy, "the game of lunar connections," is a board game in which players travel around (or on) the moons of Jupiter, trying to position themselves so that they can gain energy from lunar confluences. The game can also be played alone, so if you're starting to get tired of the same old solitaire variants, this may interest you.


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