Kickstarter Highlight – Kingdoms And Warfare

The oft-promised followup to Matt Colville’s Strongholds and Followers began it’s Kickstarter campaign on Monday, and simply put it’s a prime example of a creator with a great relationship with his fan/customer base.

Strongholds and Followers gives options for players to build fortresses and bases of operations for their party complete with class-specific annexes, a host of artisans, assistants, and military units to help maintain your stronghold and protect it from attack. Kingdoms and Warfare will go into rules about keeping political rule over your stronghold and environs, and how to assault your neighbours on a political and military front.

If you’ve followed Matt Colville for a while (I have) you know that he is incredibly learned on the nature of politics and war, certainly learned enough to introduce verisimilitude to nations in his campaigns, and that he has been practising on his friends during the streamed game on Twitch that was also funded as part of the Strongholds campaign, along with a few exclusive minis. Whatever rules come out the other side of this campaign will be tried, tested, and fun, and the book will also be building on a few other fan favourite elements.

New creatures, including new courts and more units for the existent courts, groupings of unique creatures aligned with one another to serve a greater power. My personal favourite – the court of All Flesh – was aligned to chaos, impermanence, and change, and I look forward to seeing new members join them… but the campaign is rather cunningly teasing its newer horrors…

A: Very pretty
B: Horribly tantalising
C: If you would like to see any of these pieces of art in full along with some lore behind each, there’s plenty of that on the Kickstarter page.

All of these will be available as miniatures that can be added to your pledge after the fact, as well as appearing in the new book. Following the success of the miniatures in Strongholds and Followers, MCDM will be working with the same company again to produce more high quality products, and the same will be true of the completed books. I have a lot of respect for the planned distribution times, because while they could use their experience and new business connections to promise a faster turnaround, kudos for allowing a bit “wiggle room” on their deadline to ensure that the final product is as good as it can be.

The rules will be scalable from the smallest of factions and guilds, all the way up to continent-spanning empires, making it useful for whatever style of campaign you’re running, and making it easier for DMs to manage large-scale activity without micromanaging the activity of every individual concerned, and I cannot emphasise how much that notion appeals to me.

Pledges will get you the book as a pdf, hardcover, nicer hardcover, a t-shirt, and of course an exclusive dragon miniature, most of the delights available above are purchasable with the pledge manager after the fact but it appears that they will also be made available on the MCDM shop.

At the time of writing the campaign is already a long way through its $300K goal as you can probably tell by the stretch-goal image above, so this is not a campaign desperate for your support. It may not see as monstrous a final figure as the two million dollar debut, but… well we can’t rule it out. What this will be is an excellent product worth pre-ordering, I highly recommend watching the introductory video and possibly skim-reading the rest of the information if you’re interested because I’m summarising heavily here.

Riot Games Go All Out For 10 Year Anniversary – New Games!

Riot Games have gone all out for their 10 year anniversary, which is a pretty exciting thing to be able to say. Riot Games made the Free-To-Play giant, League of Legends, which is a major title in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre. For years, they’ve run just the one game but this year, they’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and show how much progress they’ve made in their world.

Riot Games have gone all out for their 10 year anniversary, which is a pretty exciting thing to be able to say. Riot Games made the Free-To-Play giant, League of Legends, which is a major title in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre. For years, they’ve run just the one game but this year, they’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and show how much progress they’ve made in their world.

Continue reading “Riot Games Go All Out For 10 Year Anniversary – New Games!”

The Dungeon Master’s Curse

Ok, so we have another late article, but for once it’s not because I have very little to talk about, I have a great deal of RPG things I would love to be discussing right now. I’ve started a new home campaign, I have a Hallowe’en game coming up, and I’m staring at a list of plans for a whole year of games at Oswestry Library ready to submit some extra dates because people are desperate to start booking in advance… which sounds like a complaint, but I’m actually really pleased.

Add to that a long list of subjects that are bit-by-bit being turned into YouTube videos, I’m sitting on a lot of scripts, preliminary notes, and a folder of images for simple video creation purposes (not that it’s making the job much easier or faster), and I don’t want to duplicate too much work.

This is something I can’t believe I’ve not addressed in the past. I’m a Dungeon Master, most of my friends are players, most of my social circle includes players in various games and campaigns, so all of the ideas that I would really love to talk about, I simply can’t because if I do I give too much away. I mention a great idea for a narrative point or a trap, or clever monster design in anything less than the most general terms, then suddenly I have no surprises left in my arsenal.

But oh dear god do I want to talk about things! I can’t help that, I’m a writer with a lot of ideas that I want to talk about, and that’s a good thing! Narcissistic, sure, but talking about ideas helps you and other people because it encourages them to share their ideas with you, ultimately building better writers and creators, we’re all learning from one another ultimately, by reading, watching, listening to anything created by anyone you learn something from them… y’know what, I’m wittering, you get the idea, art is a collaborative and nebulous thing.

So here’s a shallow dive on some of what I’ve got in the pipeline with very little context:

Killing with Confidence – I’ve been playing some Call of Cthulhu of late, a game that one expects to lose, you can only strive to do enough before you lose your mind to… I don’t know, protect the world, keep a tenuous grip on reality. It takes conviction to kill a player character, one should never be afraid that a character’s death will impact their enjoyment, and it takes some practice and confidence to kill someone’s character. Depending on the game, the death could be a glorious, noble, and heroic, or perhaps gruesome and unpleasantly descriptive, so long as the fallen player appreciates what has happened and why.

Collaboration – An idea I rather blatantly stole from Matt Colville, because “Wooh! Sharing ideas!”. Some of us have players who have left us for the other side of the country or maybe to another country, or continent. And yeah, maybe you miss playing with those people but don’t like normal online role-play, or maybe time zones are just against you? Not a problem, employ them as a powerful NPC so that your villains have distinct motivations, and might kill your party with far less remorse than you might have. Delicious verisimilitude…

Roll for Knowledge – Most games with a list of skills include a diverse range of skills that describe a character’s studies and learning in particular fields, like history, anthropology, the natural world, technology, you get the idea. You can roll multiple skills while studying the same thing, and that can and should yield different results. For example, if you are analysing a mechanism, rolling technology when looking at a computer would tell you how it works and what part serves what function, rolling psychology might help you learn something about the person who owns the computer by perusing the files, rolling arcana would lead you to every kind of wrong conclusion but all of them involve magic in some way, and as a result is fundamentally flawed.

There’s a lot of these, I stop now or I give too much away. Besides, I have to get back to work on this…

Pokémon Sword & Shield Designs Look Great!

I’m going to preface this with “this is a short article”. Literally, I was sat up with Joel last night chatting about the new Pokémon designs and for the most part, we agreed that most of them looked fantastic. There are a few highly questionable decisions, but overall, I really am digging the way this new generation is turning out. The Galarian forms of old Pokémon look fantastic and I’m glad it’s a trend we’re continuing from the Alolan regional variants from Sun and Moon. As more gets announced, I’m going to be keeping my eye on Sword & Shield, because I think the Pokémon Company know how to laugh with their fans – and that’s a beautiful thing.

I’m going to preface this with “this is a short article”. Literally, I was sat up with Joel last night chatting about the new Pokémon designs and for the most part, we agreed that most of them looked fantastic. There are a few highly questionable decisions, but overall, I really am digging the way this new generation is turning out. The Galarian forms of old Pokémon look fantastic and I’m glad it’s a trend we’re continuing from the Alolan regional variants from Sun and Moon. As more gets announced, I’m going to be keeping my eye on Sword & Shield, because I think the Pokémon Company know how to laugh with their fans – and that’s a beautiful thing.

Continue reading “Pokémon Sword & Shield Designs Look Great!”

Bring Back Tamagotchi’s (and Virtual Pets)!

Let’s preface this with, yes I am a 90’s kid and yes, I had a couple of Tamagotchi in my life. It all started I believe with one from 101 Dalmations. I also then had a Pikachu one and I had a few smaller ones along the way, from monsters through to just ordinary pets. For the unaware, a Tamagotchi was a small device which you could carry on a keychain. On this device was a little virtual pet, or creature that you had to take care of, from feeding, playing with and even sometimes “cleaning up” after your pet. I, like many kids from that era, loved Tamagotchi… But why hasn’t it translated so successfully onto mobile?

Let’s preface this with, yes I am a 90’s kid and yes, I had a couple of Tamagotchi in my life. It all started I believe with one from 101 Dalmations. I also then had a Pikachu one and I had a few smaller ones along the way, from monsters through to just ordinary pets. For the unaware, a Tamagotchi was a small device which you could carry on a keychain. On this device was a little virtual pet, or creature that you had to take care of, from feeding, playing with and even sometimes “cleaning up” after your pet. I, like many kids from that era, loved Tamagotchi… But why hasn’t it translated so successfully onto mobile?

Continue reading “Bring Back Tamagotchi’s (and Virtual Pets)!”

Gloomhaven on PC

You may remember I chatted about this one, and about a year or two before that it was all over the board game social groups. In short it’s a leviathan board game in a box the size of a couple of breeze blocks, it has a foot firmly in the RPG camp in the same way that Diablo and Grim Dawn are RPGs, all the stabbing, easy on the character moments, incidental decision making with pretty direct fallout, but damn it does the hacking and slashing well.

Characters are diverse in appearance and collection of powers building to tactical combinations with the rest of your party, clever but frustrating action economy, and so many possibilities, status conditions, and moving parts that the whole thing is far easier to manage with an app or three on the side. And actually with that electronic assistance Gloomhaven becomes an incredibly fun game, without it you’ve really got to enjoy your bookkeeping.

Borne on its popularity, Gloomhaven now has a video game version, all of the heroes fully animated, the modular board pieces turned into deep, rich scenery, and all of the numbers handled for you from behind the proverbial curtain.

Almost.

The video game version is still in early access stages so that players can help test the hell out of the many features to make sure that every character is ready and waiting to go. Currently the only playable characters are the Brute, Scoundrel, Spellweaver, and Cragheart, and after a recent update, the Tinkerer, which means that of course, my character has to wait until last. It’s almost like the Mindthief’s deck is filled with complex strategies, different mechanics, and like huge swarms of rats are hard to animate! Vermlings will not be sidelined!! Although apparently he gets released some time before the end of the year.

The board game has a mass of other characters who are unlocked over time, and given the pace of updates we might not be waiting all that long for the full release as it’s the characters and their management who are the most intricate part of the game. If their actions can be managed properly then so can all of the creature actions.

Oh, and on the subject of the creatures, the creatures in Gloomhaven always looked pretty in the artwork, but seeing them brought to life is something truly incredible. Demons, elemental undead take on a far more haunting aspect when they float and shamble their way towards you to kill you. “Elite” creatures also take on a better visual aspect, rather than being the same cardstock token inserted into a different colour stand, cultists change robes, bandits gain subtle armour decorations, and while the differences are not dramatic, they do add a little depth to the design that sets it apart from the tabletop version.

The gameplay is practically identical, you have your deck of cards, each of which with two options, in combat you choose two cards per turn, and you execute the top of one card and the bottom of the other, typically the top half will be more offensive, the bottom will be more tactical. For a turn based strategy you can easily take your time mulling over your options, and because you can play alone you’re not rushing to ensure you’re not holding everyone else up. When using those abilities, there is always the extra step of “confirming” your moves, which can be skipped by double-clicking, and there’s also a lot of confirming the end of turn, confirming how you take damage, and while it’s all necessary, it does jar the flow of the gameplay a little. Better I think to have played the board game to appreciate the reason for each feature, or maybe in-game tutorials will help advise new players after the proper release.

Early reports are naturally mixed because this game is early access, but fixes have been swift, broadly successful, and expected features are being released at a respectable pace. Whether you decide to jump on in the early days or wait for the full title, I think it’s safe to say that this will be a worthwhile investment for fans of the original board game. Whether or not it will translate to a broader audience… I’m going to suspend judgement for now.

Ampharos VS Luxray: A Strangely In-Depth Comparison

Shinx, which evolves into Luxio and then Luxray, for Diamond. Mareep, which evolves into Flaaffy and Ampharos, for Soul Silver. How do these two evolutionary lines compare? Guest contributor Murray Butler is back to give his verdict on these two shocking Pokémon.

Due to a close friend of mine having done a playthrough of Pokémon Heart Gold, I decided to pick up my old copy of Pokémon Diamond to do my revisit of the fourth generation of these games… and then I did a playthrough of Soul Silver anyway, partially to see if any of the complaints I had lodged towards it actually stood up. (That’s a topic for another time)

When planning out my teams for both games, I decided to carry an Electric-type to deal with both Water- and Flying-types, especially as in both games I was using a starter Pokémon that is vulnerable to those (Cyndaquil and Turtwig respectively). Thankfully, both games have an Electric-type found in the wild very early on.

Shinx, which evolves into Luxio and then Luxray, for Diamond. Mareep, which evolves into Flaaffy and Ampharos, for Soul Silver. How do these two evolutionary lines compare?

A note before I start: I’ll be basing my comparison off their Generation IV movesets and stats, with a section at the end to talk about how they developed as the games go on.

Continue reading “Ampharos VS Luxray: A Strangely In-Depth Comparison”

Mobile Game Review: Mario Kart Tour

The first Mario Kart title, Super Mario Kart, was released back in 1992. In this time, we’ve seen many iterations, spanning many different consoles. Since the success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo has become a lot more interested in utilising mobile technologies. Super Mario Jump was great, but today, we’re going to check out Mario Kart Tour, which came out fairly recently. I managed to snap the game up on the day of release and hey, it’s another free title!

The first Mario Kart title, Super Mario Kart, was released back in 1992. In this time, we’ve seen many iterations, spanning many different consoles. Since the success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo has become a lot more interested in utilising mobile technologies. Super Mario Jump was great, but today, we’re going to check out Mario Kart Tour, which came out fairly recently. I managed to snap the game up on the day of release and hey, it’s another free title!

Continue reading “Mobile Game Review: Mario Kart Tour”

Top 10 Space-Themed Games

Space: the final frontier that we’re aware of, but among hypothetical frontiers, barely breaks the top 10. Oh and while we’re on the subject of top 10s…

Games, be they video or board, are so often inspired by the big black void that engulfs us and the possibilities that may await beyond, opportunities, horrors, exploration and adventure. While we had options beyond counting, we somehow managed to drill down to a mere ten games themed in and around space.

GeekOut Top 10s

Space: the final frontier that we’re aware of, but among hypothetical frontiers, barely breaks the top 10. Oh and while we’re on the subject of top 10s

Games, be they video or board, are so often inspired by the big black void that engulfs us and the possibilities that may await beyond, opportunities, horrors, exploration and adventure. While we had options beyond counting, we somehow managed to drill down to a mere ten games themed in and around space.

Continue reading “Top 10 Space-Themed Games”

To Meta, or Not To Meta, Is That Every Gamers Question?

Okay, I might have lied, I don’t think many gamers truly put a lot of thought into whether they should or should not follow the meta. All games have a meta for a reason; it’s established and it’s grounded in knowledge from other players. Indeed, some games are geared in such a way that the meta is something easily acknowledged. From Pokémon, to Elder Scrolls Online, meta exists and here’s a few thoughts on what following the meta truly means.

Okay, I might have lied, I don’t think many gamers truly put a lot of thought into whether they should or should not follow the meta. All games have a meta for a reason; it’s established and it’s grounded in knowledge from other players. Indeed, some games are geared in such a way that the meta is something easily acknowledged. From Pokémon, to Elder Scrolls Online, meta exists and here’s a few thoughts on what following the meta truly means.

Continue reading “To Meta, or Not To Meta, Is That Every Gamers Question?”