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November 2003 Archive

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November 28, 2003

03:57 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
WarCraft: The Board Game reviewed

My playtest report just kept getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, so I decided it was a review. Some aspects of play are sketched out only briefly, but I'll be playing this one again (watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat - this time for sure!), so I'll probably be able to fill more stuff in as I regale you with tales of my victories. So click the friggin' link and get Ready To Serve, baby!

November 27, 2003

11:17 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Interview: Matt Forbeck

As a special treat this Thanksgiving holiday, we've got a new interview for you to tear into. This time around, our target is Matt Forbeck, freelance author and game developer extraordinaire. From Deadlands to Space Hulk, from Redhurst to Dark Sun, Matt's been there, done that, and still going strong. Come, pull up a seat and hear what Matt's been up to lately and what he has to say.

11:10 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: The Penguin Ultimatum

Demian's got a new card game review for us, appropriate for the long winter months ahead. The Penguin Ultimatum by Eight Foot Llama. Sounds like a company that could give an ogre a run for his money.

November 25, 2003

04:17 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...

I love when I can use that joke. Anyway, Fantasy Flight seems to be okay at making solid, sustainable CCGs from somewhat nichey source material, so this new entry, a non-Mythos-compatible new design for a Call of Cthulhu CCG due in the spring, certainly has a shot. Nothing on FFG's site actually mentions it yet, so I've put the whole release below. In a GR post, some amusing comments further reveal the conservatism of some Cthulhu fans - yes, as a matter of fact, they should fail in an original way, except given the amazing run FFG's had lately, they likely won't. But man, between this and that Cyberpunk game, it's like 1996 all over again.


07:56 AM: Demian Katz says...
Paper Pirates, Bouncing 'Bots and other Alliterative Amusements

Another Rio Grande Games newsletter has been released. Pirate fans (whose numbers have increased lately due to a certain film) should be pleased by Corsari, a crew-building card game due out in December or January. Those waiting for the reissued Ricochet Robots (complete with new boards) will have to be patient, as its release (along with that of Attika, Samurai and Alexandros) has been slightly delayed due to printing problems. Still, the flow of English-friendly editions of German games remains strong.

November 24, 2003

06:21 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Mystery at Redhurst Academy

The guys at Human Head Studios have released yet another free download for The Redhurst Academy of Magic. This time, the d20 goodness comes in the form of What's in Her Name?, a mystery adventure by Sandy Antunes. Human Head describes Sandy's adventure thusly: "If you like your adventures sneaky and thoughtful, this is the one for you. Can your players uncover the true name of a mysterious visiting professor before the clock runs out?" Well? Can they? Go download the adventure and find out.

05:00 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Conan RPG previewed

To start Monday off right (and give d20 gamers something meaty for Thanksgiving weekend), Mongoose Publishing has launched the Conan RPG section of its website. Among the goodies offered there are a close look at the Chris Quilliams cover art, and two PDF previews of parts of the rulebook. Written by Ian Sturrock, the 352-page RPG will arrive in January for $49.95.

12:04 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
And knowing is half the purchase

Wizards of the Coast has announced plans for a new CCG based on one of parent company Hasbro's biggest properties, G.I. Joe. The G.I. Joe brand turns forty next year, and what better way to celebrate the creation of the "action figure" than a collectible card game. The game will be based "on the rich mythology created for the 1980s G.I. Joe comics and cartoons." Yep, by Fall 2004 you'll be able to command Duke, Scarlett, and Snake Eyes as they battle Destro, Storm Shadow, and Cobra Commander. Expansion sets are scheduled to follow in 2005. This could either be seen as a damn good idea, or as WotC grasping at any idea for an uber-CCG to replace Pokémon. Better this than a Tonka CCG.

November 20, 2003

06:03 PM: Demian Katz says...
Confused Agent Doesn't Recognize Home

The latest of Invisible City's games of the month has arrived. In Quadruple Agent, a confused secret agent wanders around a board following instructions sent to him by multiple commanders (the players). The goal is to allocate resources and arrange orders in a manner that eventually leads the agent to your side of the board. Get out your cardstock and scissors and have some fun!

12:46 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
James Ernest to judge American Idol

You know you believed that headline for a second. But the real story is that Fleer has allegedly contracted him to design a mass market American Idol card game. Thousands sing, millions kill, one dies! Or something like that. This is still in rumor territory and we'll follow up. Update: Ernest has confirmed his involvement in a message to the Cheapasses mailing list. He added that Fleer has been good to work with and doesn't seem likely to instigate a Looney Tunes-esque disaster.

11:52 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Looney Labs ships Stoner Fluxx

This is not a joke. Stoner Fluxx is a new version of Fluxx with appropriately (or inappropriately) adjusted Keepers and Goals, as well as some special rules you can probably imagine. Looney Labs will be donating one dollar to organizations such as NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance for each copy of Stoner Fluxx sold. The Looneys originally conceived this product with the title NORML Fluxx... I wonder if they got negged on that. I also wonder if this isn't gonna backfire on them in a big way - their core audience of young-ish casual players probably has high overlap with those who would favor legalization in this country, but do they set foot in game stores often enough, and will they want to buy the game anew? And what about the families and schoolteachers that love Fluxx so much? And who has the Cheetos?

November 19, 2003

03:25 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
PIG releases Smuggler's Bane

Politically Incorrect Games has just released a new PDF adventure for Deep7's Arrowflight. Dubbed Smuggler's Bane (which evokes Star Wars images for me), the adventure includes full-color maps and paper miniatures from PIG's Disposable Heroes line, five of them unique to the adventure. If the $5 download had dice and players, PIG would have the complete package. The bandwidth would be a real pain, though.

12:32 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
GAMA running Origins trip contest

Apparently GAMA wants to flesh out its library of old Origins convention materials, 'cuz we just got word of a contest. Anyone who sends in photos from previous Origins conventions, or program book covers, or entire program books, will be eligible to win a trip for two to Origins. Or a sports bottle. See the press release below for details, and start scrounging through your garage for that old program you've got stashed away.

November 16, 2003

01:11 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
West End Games sold; Torg 2.0 gets new life

As we've heard whispered on various industry lists, the long-languishing company that is West End Games has changed hands again. This time, the new owner of WEG intellectual properties and such is "Eric J. Gibson and the still forming Purgatory Publishing Inc." Among the few projects already mentioned for the renewed WEG is Torg 2.0, which will hopefully finally see print. Reportedly, its first draft has been sitting at WEG as a 2" thick unedited manuscript for years. Frankly, as a Torg GM, it'd be nice to get some better closure than the hastily thrown-together War's End adventure. Wrapping up five years of storyline in one softcover adventure just didn't work.

November 14, 2003

11:49 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
More virtual cards for your virtual free time

If you're like me, you had no friggin' clue about Decipher Online Gaming, but lo, you can play both the Lord of the Rings CCG and the original Star Trek: TNG CCG in a manner similar to that of Magic Online. Also, look at this weird thing Sega is doing in Japanese arcades. Hold actual cards in your hand, but play with them on a touchscreen monitor? Brilliant, or the worst of both worlds?

November 13, 2003

11:18 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
2004 Games 100 announced; New England is Game of the Year

GAMES Magazine's 2004 GAMES 100 is up in its entirety at ye olde Funagain, and the veteran design team of Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum took Game of the Year honors with their tile-laying Pilgrim fiesta New England. Curiously, last year's winner Dvonn is listed again this year to fill out the Abstract Strategy top 10. Whatever. Further down, there are even more "returning guests." I guess it just underscores my theory that so little of interest happened this year that you may as well fill your shopping guide with standouts from years past. (OgreCave's upcoming Twelve Games of Christmas lists will not do this, incidentally. Also incidentally, yes, those Funagain links will kick back a percentage of resulting sales to OgreCave, disclaim disclaim. If you've supported your local retailer lately, feel free to support us by shopping at Funagain.)

November 12, 2003

01:46 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Game of Thrones Board Game Playtest Report

FFG's in-house board game designs are just looking really sharp these days: they aren't what you'd call mind-blowingly original, but they preserve the feel of their source material and keep the focus on fun, fun, fun. Game of Thrones: the Board Game is basically Diplomacy modified until unrecognizable. It has the standard starting board setups for each faction, which generally set your strategic direction; it has the tight board that's guaranteed to get you into trouble with someone rapidly; it has the emphasis on raw, naked bloodlust. Wait, Diplomacy doesn't have that so much.


01:21 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
New Cyberpunk CCG, because the last one sold so well

Yeah, I still pine for NetRunner. Cyberpunk the CCG is an entirely different design and may get some things right that NR, God rest its soul, got wrong, at least from a marketing perspective. The post-apocalyptic sci-fi thing seems to be riding a wave in CCGs right now - rumor has it that even Magic is going to start making good on its pan-planar promise and incorporating sci-fi themes. You can download the beta version of the Cyberpunk rules; they look pretty straightforward.

November 10, 2003

06:21 PM: Demian Katz says...
Rio Grande Update

Rio Grande Games has once again found the time to release another newsletter. In addition to the usual notes on release date changes and such, five new games are featured: Nero, dealing with the struggle for Rome following Nero's death; Age of Napoleon, a diplomatic and military strategy game; Alexandros, a game of economics in the wake of Alexander's conquest; The Prince, a card game about the struggle for Papacy; and Maya, a pyramid-building strategy game.

November 07, 2003

05:34 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Axis and Allies becomes one again in '04?

Avalon Hill has announced a new revision of good ol' A&A to hit in March. It's billed as the first major revision in 20 years, although splitting the thing into two parts seems pretty friggin' major to me. There's no word in either the press release (included below) or the web site on whether the Europe and Pacific versions of the game have a future. Announced changes include a reduced-size box, presumably along the lines of the new, svelte Risk 2210 form factor, and new territories on the board(!!). [Update: some clarifications are in the comments.]


12:40 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Redhurst contest winner announced

We've just announced the winner in our Redhurst Spellflag Season Contest. The lucky winner should be receiving their copy of The Redhurst Academy of Magic student handbook, signed by Matt Forbeck, very soon. (Am I jealous? Oh yes.) Thanks to everyone who entered, and special thanks to Matt and Human Head Studios for making the contest possible.

12:22 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
'Cuz it's just wrong enough to sell

Z-Man Games has proven it can play the "sick and wrong" game with the best of them with it's latest release. Baby's First Mythos is just what you think it is: an ABC book using the Cthulhu horror mythos as its examples. Plenty of excellent illustrations serve to show kids precisely what Dagon and Narlethotep are, and start the mind-warping good and early in their development. This is, of course, an instant classic. A warped, twisted classic, but a classic nonetheless.

November 05, 2003

12:02 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Mage Knight 2: the new hotness is under our control

We played as near to a "complete" game as we could muster, which was damn near - I was able to play a faction-pure 300-point squad of elves, and we even used the wacky weather modifier things on the PVC cards - and the higher point total did indeed make Allan feel a little better. He still bitched about not being able to spin and attack with a figure in one action, but that's the way the mace bounces; a move is a move, and when you finish one, you'd better think about your facing and keep tempo in mind. If you take turns, you're going to get situations where a figure can just stay one move ahead.

Overall, there is not much else to report. Elves kind of suck, but you all knew that already. We found our first utterly ba-roken figure: Caldera, a 136-point lizard guy who couldn't fit into our first game because, well, he was bigger than our squads could be. Homeboy has like seven or eight dominating special abilities right up at the front end of the dial, and high-ass stats. It's a good thing Allan forgot that we had a little thing called objective points, and that they were, you know, the objective.

So I won this time. We both like Mage Knight, and we are only about a year late getting onto that train. Apparently the attendance at local MK events has fallen way off; mileage may vary in your area, and I don't have any nationwide sales figures handy. What do you think: is it too late for the original clicky-base game to bounce back?


10:57 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Modern advice for today's gamer

For you d20 Modern fans, Wizards of the Coast has started a new online column, Bullet Points, to answer rules questions for the system. The "sage" providing the answers for the column is Charles Ryan, codesigner of d20 Modern. In the first installment, skills and feats are the main course, with subjects ranging from the Dead Aim Feat to Two Weapon Fighting to house rules for computer security.

10:49 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Free download for Dungeoneer

Dungeoneer designer and artist Thomas Denmark has created a downloadable guide on how to play the game. No, it's not the rules (though those are also available). Instead, it describes the color-coordinated clothing you have to wear and then shed as your character takes damage. Or not.

12:16 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
To those about to game, we salute you

Or, to put it in more detail, to those about to come out and game at the RPGnet Game Day: Oakland I've been coordinating, you rock. If you'll be in the San Francisco/Oakland area this Saturday, come out and win some stuff from Chaosium, Firefly Games, Goodman Games, Hero Games, Issaries, or Wingnut Games. Come out and see what Peter Adkison of Gen Con LLC has to say about next month's Gen Con SoCal. Come out and meet Chris Pramas, Aaron Loeb, or Thomas Denmark (or all of the above). All that is reason enough to make the trip, but if you're coming just to try out some new games being demoed, you're my kind of gamer. Hope to see you there.

November 01, 2003

10:27 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Online d20 community gets big scare

Early last Monday, fans of the preeminent d20 website, EN World, got one hell of a scare. Russell Morrissey, the site's administrator, posted a notice on the site explaining that due to hosting costs, EN World was $1,600 in debt, with another $400 being incurred each month. Despite the site's attempts to become profitable, if the ISP wasn't paid by the following day, EN World would have to be taken down for a while (an act that's usually the harbinger of death for a website). Worried they'd lose their online community forever, the fans of EN World took action, organizing donation methods through d20 companies and other individuals. Still, with less than 24 hours to get the money together, the situation looked bleak.


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