If ever you look upon geeks in hobby shops and coffee places, playing confusing card games and getting heated over nonsensical rules, and thought to yourself “They take a game way too seriously” then the creators of the biggest of those games has an answer for you. Magic: the Gathering, rich in story, wrought with impenetrable rules, and assailed with tournament laws that make all but the geekiest feel saddened, is about to release their first comedy set in thirteen years, the third of the so-called “UN-sets”, Unstable.
So while I wait patiently for my copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything… so very patiently… here’s Wizards of the Coast’s other big product release that has my attention. (more…)
“A Necromancer! I hoped I’d never have to lay my eyes on one of your kind again” – Gheed.
Yes, the Necromancer is a powerful spellcaster who is capable of bringing the dead back to life. With a penchant for the macabre, these dark magicians are able to manipulate bone, flesh and even go so far as to cause disease and further. Typically though, we’re going for those who bring the dead back to life. As such, we’re not focusing on disease or any of those aspects of this dark art.
So buckle up and get ready, for it’s time that we count down our Top 10 Necromancers. (more…)
The Righteous Hero is someone who has a rather strong sense of justice; to the point where you question how they can be so… Well… Righteous! They’re often overbearing, self-promoters who talk a big game. Worse still, typically these do-gooders know how to back themselves up.
But hey, you’re here to see who our favourite Righteous Heroes are – So buckle up, this is our latest Top 10!
Can’t afford the millions of cards required to get competitive at Magic? Don’t have space for a collection, or friends with decks? Well why not play Hearthstone?
I kid, I haven’t played Hearthstone either. I hear it’s free, but I look at a multiplayer game that big and I’m immediately put off, and to be honest I haven’t been enthralled by a Blizzard game in decades, the lore is lost on me and their style doesn’t draw me in like it used to when I was younger.
I had been dipping into Mojang’s card-game analogue Scrolls for quite some time, it had some great mechanics, but like everything that they try and do that isn’t Minecraft, it vanished in obscurity. Gwent sits firmly on my to-do list, but it does so along with the rest of the Witcher trilogy which I keep trying to get back into, alongside a few dozen other computer collectable card games that ought to be tried at some point, one day. (more…)
There are a lot of companies out there that promote gaming in all shapes and sizes; from video game companies, to board game companies, tabletop wargaming and oh so much more. Recently, Jake and I went for a trip to Cardiff, as we were just sight seeing, but we wanted to go and find a shop as per the suggestion of a friend through Facebook. We decided to seek out Firestorm Games, a shop that’s out of the way, but within a short walking distance of Cardiff station – and boy oh boy, was it ever worth the visit?
A very short article, as by the time you read this I will already be on-route to Kitacon Quest 2017. I think I’ve undergone more preparation for this convention than any before, and even as a non-cosplayer I’ve undertaken more work than one might call necessary for – what some might call a holiday.
In my hubris I have elected, not only to prepare a one-shot Pokethulu game, but to create a full Pokenomicon filled with horrors of my own creation, featuring alongside a handful of competition entrants from last month’s GeekOut Shrewsbury competition. And because I am the sort to over-do things when I’m organising a game for people whom I’ve either never met or see very infrequently, I had to invest in a better audio recorder to immortalise the game for all to hear, and high quality paper just to really finish the job.
If you’re interested, come find me today (Thursday) and volunteer. I have five places to fill, and once all are claimed and we have a quiet place to sling dice then we shall begin. If asked nicely a second game may be held over the weekend.
Disclaimer – If you join in the Pokethulhu game your voice will be recorded and you are likely to be photographed. Also I stand up while I run games, that’s apparently a thing I have in common with Patrick Rothfuss. You have been warned!
I’m currently finishing a few talking points for the DMing 101 panel. After last year – where I worked through my prepared material in about twenty minutes – I have more plans and more to discuss in order to give my second effort at hosting a panel the semblance of better organisation. We’ll try and keep the panel on topic until we run out of material and questions from you guys, and then I reserve the right to have the whole thing descend into story-swapping, which can be educational in its own right.
Tim and I will be completing the Top 10 for Sunday 27th in person! Based on the results of your vote in our last list, and we will be recording the efforts of compiling the list at the Warwick Art Centre this very weekend, meaning that you will get to hear the bitter arguing, the deliberating, the nitpicking and quibbling. The Top 10 will be based on your second place winner from the last poll.
I will also be coming equipped with Magic decks, Raid passes for Pokemon Go, and a general willingness to talk to anyone.
Time draws near, I will see you soon…
Chris covered some of the RPGs on show in his article last week but while he covered what was on the shop floor, I wandered the Hilton, who had mostly filled their rooms with tables equipped with DMs, GMs, Storytellers, and enough rulebooks, character sheets, dice and assorted other accoutrements to keep dozens – maybe hundreds – of people entertained all weekend. As someone who is obsessive over tabletop roleplaying it was amazing to see so many games going off at once, I mean just look at this:
Most of these photos may look like identical rooms, honestly it’s just the decor and layout. People were flooding into the sign up room, and I had to edge my way around the queue to get a photo inside.
Competitions and Tournaments
One of the NEC main halls was given over fully to competitions for the more popular games, on a national and international level. Wandering that hall I think I heard as much German, French and Polish cast around as English. There were games I expected, like the Magic tournament, the Pokemon tournament, I even fully expected to see people competing in the X-Wing miniatures skirmish game, but I wasn’t expecting to see Infinity or Dropzone.
I already talked about what these guys got up to, here’s a few images from the guys over at the Living History Camp, and the time they went to war against a pillaging horde of small children:
Yeah, the best part is just wondering around wherever we pleased (up to a point at least). This has only been my second occasion as a member of the press so I’m still never certain what I can and cannot get away with, but dammit if I’m getting all-access I’m going to work hard for it.
It was incredible wandering the hall before and after the horde joined us. The difference was simply astounding, the freedom to walk the floor reduced to swimming through a crowd; strange echoing silence turned to a cacophony of voiceless sound. These events are made by hard working people who put their livelihoods out on trestle tables to be judged, exhausted staff and volunteers fighting to keep every moment organised and controlled for the good of everyone involved, and by the people who keep coming back year after year to make it all worthwhile.
Here’s what we saw:
Pictures will be on Facebook soon enough, if you see yourself, tag yourself. In the mean time, so long UKGE, see you next year.
While I love Magic: the Gathering to an unreasonable extent – like a borderline addiction if I’m honest – I’m not under any illusions that the game is not without a rather glaring flaw, and it’s the erratic progression of the resources you have to spend. For those not aware, mana is spawned from land by tapping (turning) the land cards, to spend on the cost of a card, for example to play this card:
Would require the player to tap one each of white, blue, black, red, and green mana. Presumably if a player has built a deck with this card as a central figure they would have a wide variety of ways to either find the pertinent cards from the deck or to otherwise generate the mana through other means. Even so that’s no easy feat, and a lot of your deck has to be devoted to creating a wide variety of mana types. Now most people will build decks around one or two colours to make this job a lot easier but it’s still a possibility to find yourself stuck without enough mana of the right type, no matter how well you proportion your deck.
In short it’s a flawed system, essentially functional, but often as cruel and fickle as dice.
Which brings me neatly onto a game I sampled at UKGE as I was wandering the floor exchanging business cards and quietly gathering freebies. I was handed a carrier bag which I found later had two cards in the bottom for Dragoborne: Rise to Supremacy, they were very simple, immediately understandable, and featuring some truly epic artwork, enough to draw me in and drive me to find the stall again and try it out.
Dragoborne manages its resources far more effectively at the cost of some of the otherwise useful cards. Once you’ve drawn your first card in a turn you then draw a second which you commit to your resource pool. It means possibly losing a good card to resources, but it leaves you with a considerably better increment of resources throughout the game. You won’t be caught with an expensive card sat in your hand while your life slips away, just waiting for the resources to arrive. You always begin the fight with enough of your various resources to play any card you might possess, so long as you can wait a mere handful of turns.
Mojang’s CCG, Scrolls, has a similar incrementation method, where every turn you may choose to sacrifice a card of your choice in favour of either more resources, or more cards in hand, giving you an effective way of managing both key components of your game, and if my experience is anything to go by, leaving you screwed one way or the other.
Resource management is one of the hardest things in any given game to balance and still keep creative. With Magic: the Gathering, it’s something of a contract between players and designers, so long as they can produce cards that help manage your mana supply and we have the presence of mind to build our decks with due care and attention, we have a game. A resource management system gives us limited progression allowing for a game that grows organically and fairly. Making them balance well is a task that can bore you beyond tears, and I respect any game that approaches it with a different method.
I’m back to working on an old game design, spurred on by the many enthusiastic playtesters at UKGE, every one of whom had a full table and a captive audience. Management of resource in my game is going to be easy for the players… once I’ve gotten them balanced across several imbalanced factions. Wish me luck, see you next year.
Y’know what? For a first try that wasn’t bad at all. Quite the reverse in fact.
Let 30th March 2017 go down in history as the day we finally got round to bringing GeekOut to Shrewsbury! It sounds like we had a lot of competition for the day, and certainly lots of curiosity if not overwhelming attendance, but who cares about numbers when everyone had a damn good time? It’s worth mentioning that Shrewsbury does not want for board gaming groups, but for the first meeting there’s nothing wrong with falling back on familiar territory.
The party started at noon in the basement of the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, which was a little warm, extra air-circulation will certainly be brought in as the weather gets warmer, but damn if those brownies aren’t worth it. (more…)
To be inspired; to be led by someone you can look up to. Sure, their goals might not be noble, their vision might be distorted, or they might literally have light shining out of their butts, it doesn’t matter. These are people that should be looked up to, whether or not they are actually an effective leader, or a good or a bad leader makes no difference to us. They inspire their people to the best of their abilities.
So join us as we count down our Top 10 inspiring leaders. This is going to be quite a hard fought list! (more…)