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Showing posts from May, 2014

It's Not What, But Rather Who.

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Most of my posts here have been about specific games, game mechanics, and other topics along those lines.  Today I'm going to deviate a little and instead talk about the players.  A key component to good gaming, is a good gaming group.  I have a few sets of players I get together with regularly, and they all have wildly different levels of geek cred, dedication to gaming, and styles of game they like. But I love playing with all of them.  The interaction is different in each case, but it is always good.

So what makes a good gaming group?
The first key is people who are willing to be social.  I am generally quite introverted.  It's something I've been working on changing over the last 10 years, and I've made some progress, but still if you take me to a party where I don't know anyone, I'll be the person sitting alone in the corner, or constantly on the hip of the person who brought me.  I don't choose this, its just the way it is.


However, I recently was…

The Worst RPG Covers of All-Time (Part 2)

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Last week my wife and I walked you through some of the most godawful terrible covers in the history of RPG artwork. How could we possible top such horrendous abominations as the sad goth beholder and Space Infanmry? Oh don't worry. We saved the best (worst?) for last.

Let's get down to business. We'll start with the worst RPG of all time which not coincidentally also has one of the worst covers:
This cover (much like the game inside) is just wrong on SO many levels. Was the chick having sex with the angel/demon-looking dude in a mine shaft when they were interrupted by smurfs? Why is said dude wearing a banana hammock? Wouldn't the inhuman guy be less modest? Why does he have such a homely head? Why do the smurfs have so much clothes on? Does clothes = bad guys in this game? To be fair, maybe the publisher is trying to do everyone a favour by driving them away from this terrible, terrible game with a terrible, terrible cover.


This next one requires a little context to …

If You're Going to Fail, Might As Well Do It Spectacularly

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My players were tasked with protecting a particularly sleazy and obnoxious actor to get him to (and through) an important performance. If the show did not go off according to plan it would bring great shame and dishonour to several important and powerful nobles. People might even die if this performance was ruined.

Unfortunately the actor owed many evil people large sums of money, not to mention pissed off several unsavory organizations, so he and the players have been hounded by assassins at every step. They eventually made it to the theatre and were trying to come up with a plan to protect the actor through the performance when I mentioned - repeatedly - that there were a number of veiled and masked priestesses performing rituals to cleanse the theatre of evil spirits. I also mentioned - repeatedly - that the priestesses faces were hidden and that they seemed a little suspicious. Two of the player characters even found and killed another assassin, and discovered one of the priestes…

Game Mechanics Part 3

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Today's post is about a mechanic I really enjoy: Simultaneous Action Selection.  You know, I'm not quite sure why I just capitalized that...  Anyway, there are a bunch of games that use this mechanic, but I'll stick to just 2 as examples, and the slightly different strategies they evoke.
The first is a game I've talked about before; Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game.  You can read about the basic premise here.  Today I'll focus specifically on the movement and initiative portion of the game.  Each pilot / ship has an initiative number.  The lower initiative moves first, but shoots last. This is something really important to keep in mind as the main point of the game is to get other ships in range within your firing arc, or to get out of range or firing arc of the enemy (typical dog-fight tactics).  The way movement works in this game is that all players lock in their chosen movement for each of their ships secretly.  Once all are set, they are all revealed at the s…

Game Mechanics Part 2

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On May 12th I had the pleasure of joining a great conversation about cooperative games run by
@boardgamehour on twitter.  It got me thinking about how many co-op games I've played recently and just how much I enjoy them.



First, let's see what can fall in to the co-op category.  There are true co-op games where everyone plays together to beat the game, like Castle Panic, Pandemic, and Forbidden Island / Desert.  Then there are "traitor" games where everyone works together until someone turns on the others, like Battle StarGalactica and Betrayal at House on the Hill.  Finally there are team games like TheResistance, MTG Two-Headed Giant, or 1812: The Invasion of Canada. Today I will focus on the true co-op games, because I think the Traitor mechanic deserves a post of its own. 
Co-ops can be great fun. With everyone working together they can be a great way to introduce new gamers to the fun of table top gaming.  Without the pressure to win, or the awkwardness of …

The Worst RPG Covers of All-Time (Part 1)

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(In honour of my Tenth Wedding Anniversary, my lovely wife helped co-author this post. She wrote all the funny jokes.)

With the recent deaths of HR Giger and David Trampier, I've been looking closely at the artwork in games. Sadly, I've found that a lot of it is not very good.
Failed proportion? Check. Perplexingly mismatched arms?  Check.   Defies dimensional physics? Check...
Moreover, the one place where game companies should strive to put their best art is on the covers of their books. I mean, this is the first thing the audience is going to see. It should convince them to buy the damn book. Instead, I've found that it compels them to run away screaming.

 Exhibit A: The very first D&D cover:


That "Fighting Man" looks like some kind of badass hobbit. My wife thought it was Axl Rose.  I suppose Axl Rose kind of looks like a hobbit.  I guess they could be excused on the grounds that this was the first RPG book ever published so they didn't exactly have a l…

Game Mechanics Part 1

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I've decided to write a series of  posts that deal with some of my favourite table top game mechanics.  To start, I'm going to go back to one of my favourite things about DnD: The dice.
There's always been something thrilling about rolling polyhedral dice other than d6's.  Maybe it was my little rebellious streak as a kid, or just a fascination with shapes other than cubes, but I really like funky dice.  So this leads to the first game mechanic to discuss: Custom dice.

There have been a lot of games in the last few years that have custom dice.  While these games could be played with regular d6, and then have you convert the number to some other meaning, the games tend to be... slicker with the customized ones.

My first example is King of Tokyo. The dice are rolled three times each turn . After each throw you choose whether to keep or discard each of the six special dice (a la Yahtzee).  Triples of the numbers score victory points.  The claw is an attack to other player…

What Makes a Good Game?

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How do you get people to play games with you?  Something I have discovered recently, is that a great game is essential to getting people to go along with you.


There are so many board games these days, it's hard to narrow down a choice of what one to play.  If I'm with a small group of hard-core gamers, we'll look through the pile and just pick something we all like.  But if I'm with a larger group, or we're trying to pick a game that not everyone has played, the game mechanic is usually the deciding factor.
So what makes a good mechanic?  One of the first things to stand out to me is how simple it is to set up and explain. 


The next thing I look for much strategy is required.  Can I master this game by the second playing?  Last is re-playability.  I don't want a game that has the same result time after time.  What can help here is creativity.  A game that involves some imagination will go a lot further. 
To illustrate I'm going to use a few games, and s…