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12:46 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Aberrations details surfacing from the depths
My gaming group knows the pain of facing hordes of scaled races - lizardfolk, yuan-ti, draconians, and the like - in our D&D campaign. It would seem the next D&D Miniatures expansion, Aberrations, will bolster the ranks of my reptilian army.
12:16 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
I, Robot. You, meat sack.
Steampower Publishing has posted a free download, Roleplaying Game Designate: Robots. Despite an earlier problem, the free electronic product is now of the printable variety, always a good thing. Go experience the machines for yourself, and let the lovely carnage begin.
11:27 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Greg Costikyan on Origins 04
The Paranoia XP creator delivers an incisive travelogue/rant about Origins 2004 on his weblog. The awards ceremony definitely had problems (although the Hall of Fame parade actually preceded the asinine LukeSki, contrary to Greg's recounting) - for instance, when you tell the crowd to hold their applause between nominees and the winners to please keep it brief, you'd do well to shave a sentence or two off of the four-sentence bios you're reading off for each of 50 or so Hall-of-Famers. And to axe the musical guest. To do otherwise smacks of a certain disrespect of the currently-working professionals who are your bread and butter, even if it is to benefit and promote a spectacular and honorable history. But I digress, and Costikyan's complaints and suggestions are probably more salient than mine.
12:23 PM: Demian Katz says...
Grey Star Goes Beyond the Nightmare Gate
Project Aon has just announced the release of the third World of Lone Wolf gamebook as a free online adventure. In Beyond the Nightmare Gate, you get to explore the dangerous Daziarn Plane in search of a magical item called the Moonstone. If you haven't played the first two adventures in the series, they remain available and have just had some revisions and corrections made. If you're a gamebook fan or if you just want to explore the world of Magnamund in preparation for trying out the new Lone Wolf RPG, it's definitely worth taking a trip to Project Aon's site.
11:11 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Spiel Des Jahres winner: Ticket To Ride
Brett & Board has the news (BoardGameGeek likely has it too, but seems overwhelmed with traffic right now) that Alan Moon's popular Ticket To Ride has taken taken top honors in Germany's annual Spiel Des Jahres competition. Tongue-in-cheek horror game Dicke Luft in der Gruft, Reiner Knizia's placement game Einfach Genial, Raja (published here as Maharaja), and St. Petersburg (just out in English from Rio Grande) were also shortlisted.
08:28 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: playing catch-up till the day I die
Steve Jackson Games and Atlas were sharing a booth, and SJG was making noise about GURPS Fourth Edition, hitting at or near Gen Con. GURPS Dragons, new at the show, featured conversion rules for 4th Ed., billed as a sneak preview. Also new at the show was Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes, a book all about information and info warfare. Soon will come the day when a sci-fi setting in any medium won't be able to get away with not having this kind of material. Finally there was the first sight (my first sight, anyway) of Chez Goth, which is, blessedly, exactly what you expect.
What did Atlas have, you ask? The only thing that caught my eye was the much more detailed look at Beer Money, much of which came from T-shirt vendors and such at other booths. That kid's having an interesting life, isn't she.
Also in the booth was a flyer for Pegasus Press' upcoming Cthulhu material. Worlds of Cthulhu will be a twice-yearly journal that'll follow in the footsteps of The Unspeakable Oath, even featuring a column from Pagan's Scott Glancy; first issue hits at Gen Con.
08:40 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: WEG rides again
You have of course read our review of D6 Adventure. It and D6 Space are here at the show. West End Games' latest owners Purgatory Publishing have a great deal planned, including a revised edition of Torg to be released both as a PDF and a small print run of books. They're also setting new terms for licensing the D6 system commercially - the publishers of the quirky superheroes-as-deities game Godsend: Agenda have apparently taken them up on this. And, as always, a whole lot more coming. While Torg has some problems, we at the Cave have always been big fans, so it'll be interesting to see what becomes of it.
08:32 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: best in show
I am giving it to Pirates of the Spanish Main at this point. It's simple, it's got some exception-based stuff in it but there's plenty of core gameplay for it to interact with, it's cheap, and it's ragingly fun. Even when you buy multiple packs per player, you are still in for less money than your average CCG (and I think you do want two packs per player - ships are much more effective when they travel in pairs, and while you get two ships in a pack, you want to be doing multiple things at once). Messrs. Ernest and Selinker have something they can be proud of here, and WK appears not to have blown it really. Fine stuff.
11:11 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: CCG attack
Played GI JOE. They're only running a kind of abbreviated game here - character cards only, with no way to bring new ones out - but that's enough to get a taste of combat. You trade off hand-to-hand attacks, using the Boost values on the bottom of a couple of cards pulled from the deck - then you pull more cards off the deck to use the Bullet values on their sides to do the firefight. Not too many of these people who are close enough to one another to fight hand-to-hand die in the firefights, which fits nicely with the series, wherein nobody seemed able to hit the broad side of a barn with their weapons. (Sadly, I lack any information on air units, but hopefully the rules specifically state that the pilot parachutes out automatically when the plane blows up.) So this game feels almost like the old 40K CCG, and not so much like any other Wizards game. I enjoyed it.
Played Call of Cthulhu at long last, and it's really strong. Fans of A Game of Thrones will see things they recognize, but this game definitely feels like its own thing. It's also over a lot faster than I thought, so the four-stage resolution of conflicts over the central Story cards doesn't get as convoluted as I feared. You'll probably only have to deal with battles over one or two of the four icons the Story specifies, and it goes quite quickly. Check the icons, check special rules, somebody goes insane, and boom! You're done. This should be big fun - I love the flavor, especially of the evil folks' cards - and it should be at Gen Con.
06:37 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: back to the corners
Well, I guess not the corners exactly. Social Games, having recently launched one of the only new CCGs that's at all gamer-y, is pretty findable. They have a whole new card set, Cyberpunk 2020, and were kind enough to give me some boosters. We've played a fair amound of the 2013 set, and it's good and solid, although, as I think I've said, awfully 1993 in theme.
I'm seeing some new starship combat games, which is nice. These guys have a game called Arclight which looks nice and simple and comes with the whole game on CD, so you can print out whatever you need without the demoralizing trip to Kinko's. The guys doing Battlestations are indeed here, but it turns out not to really be a roleplaying game even halfway - it's more of a mission-based tactical board game with XP. Or something.
Mongoose's presence here seems unusually small, and minis-oriented. They have a nice little B5 starship that's exclusive to this show and Gen Con, and they have Mighty Armies - a fantasy miniatures game that's atypical for being 15mm scale instead of the 28mm you and I and that guy over there are used to. One $25 box comes with a pretty decent-sized squad of barbarians and/or orcs. It'll be interesting to see how this one fares in the increasingly-crowded field of skirmish minis.
07:19 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins Awards winners, Diana Jones Award shortlist
We got 'em - a couple were missed initially due to lack of visual aids and fleeting moments of disgust, but we should be all set now. Here's how it went down:
Historical Minis Rules - El Cid, Warhammer Historical Wargames
Historical Minis Series - 28mm Ancient Celts, Renegade Miniatures
Abstract Board Game - Zendo, Looney Labs
Historical Board Game - Attack! , Eagle Games
Traditional Board Game - A Game of Thrones, Fantasy Flight
Board Game Expansion - Zombies 3: Mallwalkers, Twilight Creations
Graphic Design of a Board Game - A Game of Thrones, FFG
Gamer's Choice Board Game - A Game of Thrones, FFG
Gamer's Choice Historical Board Game - Settlers of the Stone Age, Mayfair Games
RPG - Angel, Eden Studios
RPG Adventure - Black Sails Over Freeport, Green Ronin
RPG Supplement - Redhurst Academy of Magic, Human Head
RPG Graphic Design - Redhurst Academy of Magic, Human Head
Gamer's Choice RPG - Savage Worlds, Pinnacle
Gamer's Choice Play-By-Mail - Middle Earth Play By Mail, GSI
Accessory - MK Dungeons 3D Tiles, WizKids
Gamer's Choice Accessory - Bag o' Zombies, Twilight Creations
Long Fiction - The Book of Final Flesh, Eden Studios
Short Fiction - "Podo and the Magic Shield," Mage Knight, WizKids
Graphic Fiction - "Everybody Loves Gilly," Snapdragons, Dork Storm
Periodical - Dragon, Paizo Publishing
Gamer's Choice Periodical - Knights of the Dinner Table, Kenzer & Co.
Gamer's Choice Electronic Product - Pyramid Online, Steve Jackson Games
Traditional Card Game - Bang!, Mayfair
Card Game Graphic Design - Bang!, Mayfair
Trading Card Game - .hack//ENEMY, Decipher
Card Game Expansion - A Game of Thrones: Ice and Fire, FFG
Gamer's Choice Card Game - Munchkin Fu, Steve Jackson Games
Fantasy Minis Rules - Warmachine, Privateer Press
Fantasy Minis Series - Warmachine, Privateer Press
Science Fiction Minis Rules - Shadowrun Duels, WizKids
Science Fiction Minis Series - MechWarrior: Liao Incursion, WizKids
Minis Accessory/Terrain: MechWarrior Dropship, WizKids
Gamer's Choice Minis: Warmachine, Privateer Press
Game of the Year: Indy HeroClix, WizKids
Feel free to join us in saying WTF below, or celebrating your favorite's victory. There were also some Hall of Fame inductees, in the form of two games and six folks:
Oh yeah - Matt Forbeck used some of his stage time as presenter to announce the short list for the Diana Jones Award to be awarded at Gen Con. And they are:
My Life With Master
The Scandinavian gaming scene
01:28 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: D6 Adventure
Back in the day, Merwin wasn't that thrilled by West End's d6 system. Has the new version, in the form of D6 Adventure, changed his mind? And what about Lauren? Will she ever be able to tell Dirk how she really feels? And is Timmy still trapped in the well? Find out some of these things (well, just one, really) in our new review.
10:09 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: the big boys
No Games Workshop booth that I can find, although I chatted with Chris Pramas about Green Ronin's upcoming new edition of Warhammer FRP, still in progress. Now that Warhammer Online is cancelled, maybe GW will change their minds and launch a 40K RPG first, although that's speculation on my part.
- Wizards' best schwag is the Eberron temporary tattoos. The magically-imbued "dragon marks" are one of the coolest things in the Eberron book in my opinion, so that was a good call. They have RISK Godstorm new at the show, which I hope to demo, and they have Star Wars CMG figures. Han looks cool. (The game doesn't differ a lot from D&D Minis from what I can tell, although there are no charging rules and no specific ties to the SW RPG.) The only unreleased product they are actually demoing is the GI JOE CCG; I haven't tried it yet but a friend says it's nice and fast.
- You already know I have some Pirates of the Spanish Main, but you might not have known that WizKids was also pre-selling HeroClix Ultimates boosters at the show. They are previewing, in one of those no-photos cases, some new MW figs that look rather dull on the whole. Jade Falcon Clan fans will be into it though.
- Does White Wolf still count as big? They have DragonMech new at show, and they have the big monitor with the big speakers, droning on about Vampire: the Requiem with big animated-text effects. This episode brought to you by the letter What and the number Ever.
09:27 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: dig those crazy napkins!
I have several proper packs of Pirates of the Spanish Main in my hot little hands now, as opposed to just the promo ship in the schwag bag. The 12-page card-sized rulebook is fairly complete, at least for a two-player game. I hope to get to play tomorrow. These were sold as previews, the game doesn't hit stores until July.
I am about to collapse, but first, some more quick impressions:
- I met a couple guys in the back of the hall selling hand-made wooden tables for a dexterity game called Kineti-Go, in which all the little wooden caroms have strong magnets in them. So does the small frame thingy which you use to help launch them. The board also has magnets in several key corners. Overall, it doesn't feel like the magnets are affecting play much, aside from the launch and the occasional wonkiness, but it was a lot of fun - somewhere between darts and crokinole - and exactly the sort of weird little find that I love Origins for. Plus, the tables had built-in cup holders.
- Twilight Creations is showing The Haunting House, and has announced a game due in October that features cute wind-up toys - zombies, of course - that fight each other (according to stuff you work out with gameplay, telling you how many winds you get, whether you get to adjust your facing, et cetera). It's called All Wound Up and I don't think I have to tell you that it's going to be the coolest thing ever.
- I played Bandai's chess-variant CMG Navia Drapt. It's more chess-y and not as simple as Creepy Freaks, but it also has lots of exception-based goodness that keeps it a little light. The most elegant thing about it is that using pawns gives you your money, so even though they don't have much power or flexibility, you need to keep them in the game. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, how cheap the handsomely-appointed starter sets were ($30... although the starter might be for one player), and how fetching the minis were. It hits in August, of course.
10:06 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Origins 2004: need sleep
First, I would like to thank the PR folks with GAMA for helping my registration go so smoothly. Second, I am not even going to try to estimate how big the crowd is compared to last year. It seems like more, but it also seems that I'm always wrong. I have been here a few hours and the exhibit hall is just about to open - plenty of folks in line - but I have already learned a few things:
- Third World is bringing out a Tom Jolly card game called Necromaster in the fall. The tagline is "play with dead things."
- WizKids is selling more damned Galacti, damn their eyes, and are also giving out sample Pirates of the Spanish Main ships. I have no idea if the game's for sale here, but I can attest that the things are damned hard to put together on two hours' sleep.
- Games Quarterly has piles and piles of their first print issue on a table in my hotel's lobby. My hotel is not conjoined to the con, but is actually closer to most of the action than hotels that are. A lot more events seem to be taking place "off property" this year, including some "sleepover" events in the different hotels.
- Sleepy sleep sleep.
11:54 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Warhammer Online pulls the plug
Games Workshop might have read the latest post on Greg Costikyan's site, or maybe reality finally set in. Either way, as ICv2 reports, the Warhammer MMORPG has been called off. The website has the following announcement:
07:19 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
There's this other collectible marbles game... it's called marbles
Normally we like to wait until we get the full press release in email, but this is too funny not to post.
07:09 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
An ultimate geek dream fulfilled: shiny, candy-like armored sleds away!
Good gravy, I think LEGO is actually, kind of, sort of selling a combat board game (only on an Epic Duels kind of level, but still), in the form of these things. You can buy me some now.
12:29 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
WizKids calls off LotR CSG
Looks like WizKids "has removed the Lord of the Rings CSG from its product release schedule. " Perhaps their product launches were getting too cramped again, which was one of the main reasons they cited for layoffs in the past. They'll reschedule it, no doubt.
02:36 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Nobly going where others have gone
Now entering the noble field of - um, nobles, is Mongoose Publishing's Quintessential Aristocrat. How will it compare to The Noble's Handbook and other d20 products on the subject? Go pick up the 3.3 MB pdf for $10, and have a look.
11:28 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Giants breaks the seal(ed)
Now, I don't care much for "sealed" tournaments (opening the cards/minis/whatever, and playing with whatever you get), but then, I don't care much for tournaments in general. But as at least one person has pointed out to me, the Giants of Legend expansion of D&D Miniatures is virtually impossible to use in sealed tournament play. Why? Because one of the huge figures is 393 points all by itself (the Nightwalker), far and away the biggest of the huge guys. Wizards has posted alternate sealed competion rules which basically do away with all the restrictions of faction, number of uniques, and even whether you have a leader or not (you simply declare your smallest guy a "Commander 0"). There's also a pair of links to a Lost Temple map, complete with larger spaces between the walls, to allow the big boys room to move.
11:55 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Giants on parade
Okay, now that we don't have to poke around on Ebay to get early glimpses of the Giants of Legend set (well, one day early at this point, but still...), let's have a look.
Okay, first, the complaints. Enough with the minotaurs already (there's a Skeletal Minotaur and another large Minotaur in the set). I don't use 'em, nor do I know anyone that needs more than one for an encounter. And should I care that Lidda, Regdar, and the rest are here on Gilligan's Isle yet again? Oh, they're modified, as in Lidda, Adventurer. What was the first Lidda figure supposed to be if not an adventurer? Lidda, Working Mom? C'mon, let's expand the line, not rehash it. And if a bunch of my uncommon figs end up being the tiny Quasit, I won't be happy.
03:50 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Game that is still not Pokemon resembles it slightly more
Those of you with GBAs already know that it's the only device resembling a contemporary "game console" that the busy, thinking adult needs to own. Thanks to its portability and plentiful array of high-caliber turn-based games, it's one of the best things a gamer can do with time that's otherwise unusable. But you might not know that all 120 cards in the first set of WotC's Magic-lite-done-right CCG Duel Masters (plus another 60 or so from the first expansion) are available to be played with in Duel Masters: Sempai Legends, a GBA version of the game (with "RPG elements," meaning you control a guy that walks around). If you hate the expense and randomness of CCGs but still fiend for the days when Magic was simple, give a shot to the, um, lower expense and randomness, and competent single-player AI, of this version.
11:38 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Take that wave motion protoculture to warp factor 8, Ensign!
That... actually sounds pretty dirty. But anyway, my eye was caught by the entry in this game's FAQ claiming that it "splits the difference" between a roleplaying game and a board game. Battlestations is a starship combat adventure game in which every ship action - firing the main guns, heaving to starboard, you name it - must be taken by a character. I love it when simulationist twists like that hold so much promise for stories... but then, I guess it's equally possible that this could get really tedious in the hands of the wrong GM. It's from a brand new company, so who knows about production values (although it looks like you could profitably combine their starship boards with the ones from Sucking Vacuum). I'll be peeping this scene out at Origins.
11:32 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Giants of Legend sightings
With the new Giants of Legend expansion of D&D Miniatures streeting on Friday, it's only natural we'd see more previews. There's the June and Beyond preview at the WotC site, which shows a picture of and talks about the Bugbear Footpad, Bronze Wyrmling, Dwarf Sergeant, Ghast, Basilisk, King Snurre (a Fire Giant from G1-3 fame), and the Storm Giant. However, you can learn considerably more about some of the figures by prowling around Ebay.
12:48 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
One gamer's luck at KublaCon '04
While most KublaCon 2004 attendees are probably thinking back on this year's show fondly, Merwin ran into a few difficulties. Well, several, actually. Read how even a good con can be painful with a run of bad luck, in Merwin's Convention Report: KublaCon 2004. Despite how it sounds, he did manage to enjoy himself once or twice during the convention. But the Force certainly wasn't with him.
09:24 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Dammit, I could have used this at game night last night
If you don't buy the rationale that it's only fair to get less player capacity in San Juan than in Puerto Rico, given the lower price point, you're in luck. This variant offers new role cards to take the card-game adaptation of PR all the way up to eight players. It has stuff to print out - you like printing, don't you? (Found via GameWire, which also serves up this hearty, evenly-caramelized index of Usenet posts about great German designers.)
05:04 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
GQ magazine goes online, no, not that one, the other one
Hey, someone else is stepping up to the money pit: Games Quarterly magazine has its first issue on shelves, and is making most of its contents available online as well on its newly launched website. There's a board gaming focus, with some RPG and CCG articles as well. Maybe this will make up for the shrinking focus of Dragon and Dungeon.
02:18 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Quick! Disassemble the duck!
We have noted before the tendency of LEGO to put really astoundingly good time-sucking games on their website. This one is the best balance between a turn-based puzzle game and "real time" strategy I have ever experienced. Give it some time, you'll be surprised how deep it can be. In a similar, but more action-y vein is this.
10:51 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Reinventing the download
I've been pondering the significance of DriveThruRPG.com, which recently announced an exclusive agreement with Malhavoc Press to "offer Malhavoc electronic products as secure e-Books." These e-Books will make use of Adobe's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology to keep the nasty pirates out there from copying the electronic game products so easily. A number of companies, including AEG, Chaosium, Eden Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, Fast Forward Entertainment, Guardians of Order, Sword & Sorcery Studio, and White Wolf have also signed on. A few of those aren't surprising though, when you learn that DriveThruRPG.com appears to be a White Wolf venture.
01:57 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Hey, check it out, you can vote on the Origins Awards
Or, you know, the Gamer's Choice awards, whatever.
UPDATE: As you've seen if you've gone ahead and voted, as I've now had time to do, the "Gamer's Choice" voting process A) reshapes your voting choices in some unannounced ways, and B) has more bugs than Kermit the Frog's refridgerator. Let the complaining
11:33 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Magic boosters now equipped with GPS signal
Okay, no, not really. But Wizards does have a new barcode on every English booster pack of Magic, starting with the Fifth Dawn expansion. The barcode will allow for easy authentication of Magic product, as well as help WotC track down "illegal parallel importation" into the European Union and elsewhere. So beware: big wizard is watching.
10:33 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Dread the PIG release
Politically Incorrect Games is bringing Dread to it's product line. In case you're now afraid of what that means, let me clarify: PIG has made an agreement with Malignant Games to bring back Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium under the Active Exploits Diceless Roleplaying system. Do away with your fear, and give Dread a try.
02:30 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Smugglers hide at KublaCon '04
Though I haven't had time to sit down and make a full report on things seen and done at KublaCon this past weekend yet, I should mention one of the gems I spotted there. Smugglers of the Galaxy is a boardgame of trade, piracy, and survival amidst the stars. From fledgling game company Playus Maximus, the game boasts a gorgeous board, lavish full-color cards, and an engaging system to boot. For 2-6 players, Smugglers of the Galaxy should be reaching stores soon, and carries a tag of $39.95. Fans of deep space exploration games, resource management games, or strategic games in general would do well to check this one out.