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September 2004 Archive

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September 30, 2004

05:42 PM: Demian Katz says...
The Glorious Sound of Cheapass

If you thought their forays into video games were unexpected, sit down now. Thanks to the band Beatnik Turtle there is now an official album of songs devoted to the wonders of Cheapass Games. Hey! Don't just sit there. Listen to sound samples!

05:35 PM: Demian Katz says...
More Rio Grande News

While it seems like it hasn't been long since the last one, Rio Grande Games has produced yet another newsletter. Most of the game descriptions have been seen in past announcements, but they have revealed more details on their forthcoming Carcassonne releases. The new expansion will be called The Count while the new stand-alone game will be called The City. If you're a fan of the tile-laying game and can't wait to find out more, there are more details available at BoardGameGeek here and here.

05:30 PM: Demian Katz says...
A Good Day for Arrowflight

Deep7 has just announced the release of a new issue of their King's Dispatch newsletter for the Arrowflight RPG. It's available, as always, in their free member's area. They're also offering a special sale on the game, so if you've been thinking of trying it, now is the time. In other news from the company, a PDF supplement on Casablanca is available for Mean Streets and a second Red Dwarf supplement is on the way!

12:45 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Also, this game is not about psychic little kids in Disney movies

I held off on posting this earlier because the link to the game itself was broken, but 20x20 Room has some very interesting comments about a new one-shot PDF RPG called The Mountain Witch. What caught my eye about this at first was that there's an actual stat for Trust - you assign points to it at certain junctures in the story and can use them later - just because of the whole systems-for-things-other-than-hitting-things, um, thing. But this isn't necessarily a Paranoia-esque betrayal-fest, oh no - the folks quoted in this post say they'd trust the other players more after playing this. You don't see recommendations like that every day. Besides the underexplored possibility space of what can be turned into a stat besides strength, maybe "mainstream" RPGs could stand to explore the kinds of psychological effects that arise from "role-playing" in other contexts - even therapeutic ones.

01:26 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
ARG: another acronym to embrace before it destroys you

Many of you likely know all about I Love Bees, the mysterious site the URL for which was flashed briefly at the end of an online trailer for Microsoft's upcoming first-person shooter Halo 2. You may also remember the promotional online puzzle games that tied in with Steven Spielberg's A.I., which games came to be known collectively as "The Beast" and whose community of players called themselves the Cloudmakers. Rich with game-world detail, convincing characters and sometimes-fiendish puzzles, these alternate reality games, or ARGs, are... well... basically just LARPs. I Love Bees recently took another step closer to LARPhood when it not only challenged players to find and answer pay phones being called by an in-game AI, but anointed the answerers of certain calls with membership in the "crew" of the AI's lost spaceship.

One player is not happy. Eric Burns laments that the collaboration with strangers in real time that made his experience in the Cloudmakers so compelling will be weakened and eventually destroyed by this singling out of a few lucky players. But collective-detection to unlock a story is basically How to Host a Murder - you can keep fiddling with the puzzles and the means of revelation, but you can't disguise the fact that, after all the fire and motion, you are still just waiting for the next piece of story to consume. A story is not a game. ARGs are now making the leap from that model to the model of Mind's Eye Theater - by adding actual gameplay. So far, it's just the game of Prisoner's Dilemma; do you, the individual, stick with the group, or do you defect? Other games are possible in ARGs, and we will no doubt see more than a few of those possibilities soon. The question is whether going from the How to Host a Murder model to the model of today's LARPs will come with the same loss of accessibility - and popularity.

September 29, 2004

05:20 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Rage addiction is apparently still a serious problem

Fans of the old Rage CCG have produced an entire expansion, complete with art, called Gauntlet. ("Red-- Werewolf-- is about to die!!") White Wolf appears pretty proud of this - they've even designated the new set tournament-legal. At first I thought this was another CCG Workshop deal, like for The Eternal Jyhad Or Something, but no, it's a downloadable PDF. It's not clear (to me, anyway) whether this set is for the original, slippery-cards Rage, which I remember as decently fun, or the later, Vegasized Rage, which I never played. I don't even remember if they're incompatible or not. Clearly I need to be devoured.

September 28, 2004

05:26 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Egyptian Adventures preview at Green Ronin

Looks like a preview is up on the Green Ronin site for Egyptian Adventures: Hamunaptra. An uber-setting in the Mythic Vistas d20 line, Hamunaptra is coming to you in full effect: a boxed, three book set. The press release has more details, or you can just jump directly to the downloadable goodies and get a closer look.

September 27, 2004

12:03 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
MSN's Catan page looks like something all of a sudden

Those who are interested in the challenges of transitioning the most popular board game of the last ten years to the screen (not that screen - stop being difficult) might want to have a look at the updates on the official Catan Online site. You can read a developer diary post, see a screenshot at one degree of separation, or even "Learn about the Klaus Teuber." More fun than a barrel of insert-resource-card-name-here.

September 24, 2004

10:00 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
The Fine Art of Ronin

There's been a veritable flood of releases from Ronin Arts in the past week, for all d20 occasions. Athenaeum Arcane: A Score of Malevolent Special Abilities, written by former Mongoose employee Patric Younts, presents twenty special abilities magic items can have, from saw tooth to corpse eater. In Athenaeum Arcane: Spells of the Vampire, Andrew Hind brings a dozen spells for the blood-sucking beasts into the light. James Maliszewski's Modern: Occult Heroes details five occult races, a great compliment to Cthulhu-esque campaigns. As if that weren't enough, three more releases became available for download this week, including a Modern: Character Dossier designed by Michael Hammes. Who knows when the Ronin Arts development machine will overflow with more d20 goodness? Soon, I'm sure.

September 21, 2004

10:56 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
All the joke titles I thought of for this post were too depressing

Election USA's marketing text begins with the following: "Why not run for President in this first boardgame from Mongoose Publishing? Remember, though, you have to be a Republican!" Yes, it's a bit of political satire from the other side of the pond (where maybe it's a little safer, commercially speaking). I'm always surprised that there aren't more satirical games, given that game systems can caricature economic realities the same way cartoons can caricature appearances. People seem to have figured this out in the video gaming arena, but there still isn't a lot happening of note, even there. Guess we're still too busy drawing babes with swords.

September 20, 2004

05:42 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Warpstone #22: Chris Pramas on WFRP2

Ever since Green Ronin's original announcement that it would develop Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play: Second Edition for Games Workshop, gamers have been itching to get more details. In issue 22 of Warpstone Magazine (shipping now), more details will be revealed in an interview with Green Ronin founder Chris Pramas. When asked what needs to be fixed in the WFRP rules, Pramas, personally revising the new edition, had the following answer:

The core of the system is a good one but it has been a long time since the first edition. A lot of my work is simplifying, clarifying, and streamlining. The three "big issues" were long-term character advancement, the magic system, and the old chestnut of "naked dwarf syndrome." I've addressed the first and third of those already and I'll be sorting the magic system next. There were also some things in the old rules that seemed to be there because they were in AD&D, like alignment and class. Those we just tossed.
Chris' words should reassure longtime fans of the game. Combined with popular WFRP authors and an ambitious release schedule (which you'll have to read the review to learn about), the new version should turnout to be exactly the improved version WFRP fans have been hoping for.

September 18, 2004

12:27 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Deep7 takes to the skies

Having just come back from seeing Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at my local megamovieplex, I find Deep7's latest release, The Aviator's Handbook, quite timely. A supplement for the pulp 1PG RPG Dime Heroes, this new 15-page PDF supplement includes new character options, rules for aerial combat, sample planes, and more. The Aviator's Handbook also includes a five-part adventure serial, Menace from the Stratosphere, and manages all of this without menacing your wallet at a mere $2.50 (or just $1.00 if you buy another 1PG title).

September 16, 2004

11:22 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
More ways to help former TSR artist

We've received word from Paul J. Stormberg, the fellow who is helping to run the Ebay auctions for ailing former TSR artist David Sutherland. In addition to the auctions, a PayPal account has been established to allow Sutherland's family to receive donations from his many fans (click "Read more" for the details). If even one RPG cover or module map by Sutherland has inspired your game sessions, consider offering your thanks for all the great adventure by bidding or donating.


10:09 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: Omlevex

Sounds like a futuristic shopping complex, doesn't it? But no, Omlevex by Z-Man Games is a multi-system superhero RPG supplement, and the latest addition to our reviews. Have a look at what Matthew had to say, and get into the proper mindset for some Silver Age comic book heroism. But put that cape away, it's not flattering on you at all.

05:13 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Ex-40k guy does Starship Troopers; Mobile Infantry goes "waaaugh!"

Well, now we know what former Warhammer 40,000 lead designer Andy "Return to the 36" Chambers will do next. He's co-designing the Starship Troopers minis game for Mongoose. It's still slated to hit early next year. Bugs vs. fascists, yummy.

03:28 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Sid Sackson's legacy

I was just playing a little online Acquire (a friend of mine hacked it up, and it's still aggressively beta so be gentle) and did a quick search to see if I remembered, back at Origins, to post about the Face 2 Face Games folks and their line of reprints of the work of Acquire designer Sid Sackson. It turns out I didn't. At the time they were already having great success with their version of Kohle, Kies & Knete, retitled I'm the Boss, and were previewing the card game Sleuth; their third "Sackson Signature" game BuyWord was previewed at Gen Con and will be hitting the channel soon.

At Origins I spoke to Face2Face's Lawrence Whalen about the Sackson line - he told me they were working closely with Sackson's family (and that the I'm the Boss character portraits were in fact of extended Sackson family members). Sackson's immense collection of games, split up and sold at auction after Sackson's death in 2002, apparently contained a number of prototypes of Sackson originals - many of them unpublished. When I talked to them, Face2Face was starting to work with the family to track these prototypes down, possibly develop them, and bring them to market. Naturally, we wish them all the best with that project. Their next planned Sackson reprint is Metropolis, due sometime next year.

As one of our commenters pointed out previously, it's sad when a collection goes to the four winds at the end of someone's life, but at least it's good for the collector to know that things are going to people who know and love them. Here's hoping that Sid Sackson's legacy gets a better end than it's gotten so far - better for the family as well as for gamers everywhere.

September 15, 2004

02:21 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Early TSR artist ill, auctioning game collection

Many in the industry have been saddened to learn that David C. Sutherland III, one of the first well-known TSR artists, has a terminal illness. An auction of Sutherland's gaming collection is currently being held on Ebay to help pay for his medical bills and supplement his estate for his remaining family. From the original Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide to the incredible castle map in the original Ravenloft module, and a fair amount of game development besides, many gamers are sure to be familiar and fond of Sutherland's works. Have a look at the auction and see some of the gaming treasures you have a chance to bid on, and help the Sutherland family out at the same time.


10:32 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Stealing an expansion

The new expansion for MLB SportsClix hits the streets today, according to the Wiz Kids press release below. Extra Bases brings another 104 figures to the popular miniatures game, including "hot rookies," which sounds a bit pornographic. What'll be the next set's title? Extra Innings?

September 14, 2004

07:19 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Saint Petersburg wins Deutscher Spiele Preis

The comparatively open-ballot, gamer-ish answer to the juried Spiel des Jahres award has announced Michael Tummelhofer's card-ish market board game Saint Petersburg as its top vote-getter for the year. Here's the whole list of honorees.


04:42 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave reviews: Hero Force, Disaster, & Snipe Hunt

We're going back to our Tuesday-Thursday pattern of review updates, starting with a batch of three fun little games. First, Demian gives us his take on two 1PG titles from Deep7, namely Hero Force: Super Adventure and Disaster! Survival Adventure: Third Edition. Then Merwin points out a lesser-known company, Pegamoose Games, and its new game, Snipe Hunt.

September 11, 2004

10:21 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: The Dragonfiend Pact

A new d20 product has entered our review library, compliments of Matthew. This time, it's Dungeon Crawl Classics #11: The Dragonfiend Pact from Goodman Games. Will the $2 module pull in new players and live up to the hype? Find out inside.

01:06 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Twonky's back and you're gonna be in trouble, hey na hey na

Rumors persist that Avalon Hill will be giving RoboRally its first stateside printing in many years in the first half of '05 - here is either a sneak of the cover or some (other) obsessed fan's hour's-worth of Photoshop labor. As much as I love the game, it really needs a new edition, not just a reprint. Some things in there need improving. There is also allegedly an unspecified Charlie Catino wargame design planned for next year, a sci-fi thing called (or codenamed) "Dragon Mount," which sounds like it will go nicely with Cow Poker.

September 09, 2004

12:19 PM: Steve Kani says...
Magic: the Gathering Worlds - A First Timers Perspective

For the first time in six years, the Magic: the Gathering World Championships was held in the continental United States. The 11th Annual Magic: the Gathering Worlds was held at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. As it was so tantalizingly close to us Cave Dwellers, we couldn't possibly resist checking it out. It turns out there was plenty to see.

September 08, 2004

07:03 PM: Dave Chalker says...
*Hats not included

Uberplay has posted commercials for some of their board games. Next up, the Happy Meals of Catan?

September 07, 2004

11:21 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Magic Worlds 04: yeah, we went

I don't want to sound too complain-y here; the event was professionally run, gorgeously produced, and left in the dust the nearest organized-play program behind it (WizKids, I'm looking at you). That said, for the first world championship held in the States since what I interpret as the game's rennaissance in this country, it was underattended and... there just wasn't much for people like me to do. I mean, my DCI judge friend gave me his one-free-draft coupon, but as a lapsed player with no knowledge of the current card set, all I would do in a draft is lose and piss seven people off. I spent my time on Saturday just hanging out with other people in my shoes: players from years back, been out of the game for a long while, not up for tournament play.

Where was the section where new players could get an introduction to the game from an experienced volunteer? Where was the "nickel tour of the current Type 2 environment" seminar? Where was the "game library" section where you could borrow, I dunno, some Spanish-language 5th Edition starters and play Two-Headed Giant with them? [And where, for the love of Mr. Suitcase, was the preview of Unhinged?]

Casual play is the elephant in Magic's living room. Still. Casual events like these, well-publicized ahead of time, could have been a watershed event for all that dark matter in M:tG's market. However, I will grant that Wizards' event staff is in the business of running tournaments, not conventions. That part they have down pretty well; it was a trip and a half to witness the setup for the finals first-hand, earpieces and all. (Not that the earpieces really work. They're there so you can sit in the audience and listen to commentary the players shouldn't hear... which is mostly, again, keyed on intimate knowledge of the current card set... and you can only see the cards on monitors anyway... and the earpieces fed back a lot... on the whole I began to wish I were watching the webcast at home. But it was still neat.)

September 04, 2004

06:45 PM: Demian Katz says...
It's a good time to be a bean farmer...

Once again, Rio Grande Games has unleashed a new newsletter upon the world. As always, there are quite a few interesting new German titles on the way, but the highlight appears to be more information on a pair of new expansions for Bohnanza, probably the best bean-farming card game ever. Bohnaparte adds a military conquest angle to the game, while High Bohn Plus adds buildings for sale, new point-scoring opportunities and a pair of new bean types. Of course, if beans aren't your thing, there are some other titles to look forward to, including Goldbräu, a board game dealing with the economics of breweries and beer gardens, and a mysterious new stand-alone Carcassonne variation.

September 03, 2004

01:45 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Finally, a coherent explanation of the war on Iraq

Just look at Rummy's face. Clearly he didn't make his save.

September 02, 2004

11:40 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Phythyon resigns from GAMA

So while ICv2 seems to be trying to find some closure with the multiple GAMA Board of Directors interviews (the first part has links to the other three), this new development was posted:

GAMA announces today that Public and Member Relations Director John Phythyon has left the company. Mr. Phythyon has elected to make a career change. In his letter of resignation to the board of directors, he stated, “I just feel this is the right time for me to explore other career opportunities.”
I might've decided to bail out after all the craziness too.

September 01, 2004

09:59 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Must be championship season

WizKids has announced the results of the 2004 World Championships of Mage Knight and MechWarrior (see the press release below). Funny how this is being announced on the same day that WotC's 11th Annual Magic: The Gathering World Championship kicks off out here in San Francisco. A couple of OgreCave staff are headed over there to check out the scene, by the way, and we'll have some sort of report back from them a bit later.


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