Saturday, April 14, 2018

Legacy Games: A Double Edged Sword

I enjoy the video reviews at Shut Up & Sit Down. I often disagree with their assessment of a game, which merely shows that I look for different things from my games than they do, and that's fine. But I still enjoy watching the reviews. In part, this is because they're very informative, and in part because they're generally enjoyable to watch. This will be pertinent to the upcoming board game review, which I will post in two weeks' time: Near and Far.

You guys, I am so impatient to post the review for Near and Far.

But right now, I want to talk about one of SU&SD's favourite things: legacy games. The guys over at SU&SD tend to fall all over themselves when talking about legacy games. In their review of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, they refer to Risk Legacy and other legacy games using the following statement: 'So, in other words, Pandemic Legacy is just like Risk Legacy, but with one vitally important difference: Pandemic was a great game to begin with!' (This statement can be found at time stamp 2:32). This implies that simply making a game into a Legacy version makes it great.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Board Game Review: Terraforming Mars

A friend of mine recently acquired a copy of Terraforming Mars. She was very excited to try it out, so I played it with her and a couple of others. It wasn't the first time I'd played; I'd had a go at it some months prior when another friend got a copy. Having now played it twice, I think the time has come to do a review of it.

So here we go with another Game Dork review. As always, we start with the ratings:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, and makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take. Gamer Profile Ratings measures how strongly a game will appeal to players based on their interest in one of four areas. These areas are measured as High, Medium, or Low. Strategy describes how much a game involves cognitive challenges, thinking and planning, and making sound decisions. Conflict describes how much direct hostile action there is between players, from destroying units to stealing resources. Social Manipulation describes how much bluffing, deceiving, and persuading there is between players. Fantasy describes how much a game immerses players in another world, another time.
Strategy: 4
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 3
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Nice
Average Length of Game Play: 2 hours
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: Medium
  Conflict: Low
  Social Manipulation: Low
  Fantasy: High

Saturday, March 31, 2018

PinkFae Archive #11: Roleplaying: An Adventure in Imagination

As I work on reposting the articles that I wrote for PinkFae, we come to entry number 11. This post was originally published on 13 March 2016. Enjoy!

A hand hovers over the table, where several dice have just been rolled. The dice are of different varieties, including d4, d6, d8, and d10.

I have talked at some length about board games, and a little about one specific roleplaying game, but I haven't yet talked in general about my favourite kind of games: roleplaying games. It's not surprising that I enjoy RPGs; as I've mentioned here before, I am a storyteller player type, which means that I most enjoy games that follow Freytag's pyramid, especially if they involve character growth and the development of interpersonal relationships. Given the right gaming group, roleplaying games are the best vehicle for telling stories as a game that you can hope to find. So I'm going to talk today about this wonderful type of game.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

GMing for New Players

A local medieval re-enactment group recently held a special event, and I chose to take part. Specifically, the group hosted an RPG night; several people volunteered to GM a one-shot introductory game, and the others chose one of those games to play. The idea was to give veteran gamers a chance to play, if only briefly, and to give players an opportunity to experience a new system, and to give newbies the prospect of getting a taste of tabletop roleplaying games for the first time.

In case you're curious, there were six total GMs, running the following games: Dungeons and Dragons (because of course), Pathfinder, Starfinder, a Star Wars game using a modified Warhammer 40K system, Changeling: The Dreaming, and Fate Core. Surprisingly enough, I was not the one running Changeling: someone else had already offered to run that one, so I ran Fate instead.

But here's what I thought was interesting: a good friend of mine was very nervous about playing. She ended up joining my Fate game, but in the weeks leading up to the event, she asked me several times if it would be a problem that she had never really gamed before (technically, she had, but only in a limited way... more on that in a moment). I reassured her that I was very familiar with GMing for newbies, and had introduced quite a lot of people to the hobby over the years.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

PinkFae Archive #10: Board Game Review: Theseus: The Dark Orbit

We have come to another PinkFae Archive, and this one is another one of the board game reviews that I wrote for that site. I hope you enjoy it!

The cover of Theseus: The Dark Orbit. The art is dark, mostly blues, and shows three humans in space suits with weapons walking through a space station corridor, noticing several pods on the floor that appear to contain alien embryos.

Time has come for another board game review. This time around, I will discuss a really nifty game to which I was recently introduced: Theseus: The Dark Orbit. In Theseus, you control one of four factions (or more, if you have any of the expansions) trapped on a space station in deep space. These factions are fighting for control of the station; only one can be victorious! Let's look the ratings for this game:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Inclusive NPCs Volume 3: Da'kuan Newton

We have come to another Inclusive NPCs entry. As a reminder, the idea behind this series is to help promote inclusivity in the gaming community by featuring a diverse cast in our games. But as not everyone finds it easy to create interesting, dynamic, and plausible minority characters for their stories. So I am providing a number of NPCs from marginalised communities to be freely used by anyone who wishes to do so. The stats for each are provided in the D20 system, GURPS, the original World of Darkness, and Fate Core.

This week's NPC is Da'kuan Newton. He is a black man who was born in an area that is known for being ethnically segregated. He grew up in poverty, but his parents emphasised the importance of compassion and good will. He never really learned to fight, so he has suffered many injuries at the hands of others, but he still manages to maintain a mostly optimistic view of his fellow humans. He's tough enough that he can usually survive a fight with no serious injuries, but his real gift is in his words. He is a skilled diplomat, and often is able to talk his way out of a fight.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Game Balance

I have often heard people talk about 'game balance.' It's usually mentioned peripherally; I tend to encounter it when someone is complaining, and balance is mentioned as a flaw in a particular game. Although I often felt something buzzing in the back of my mind, just beyond the realm of conscious thought, as a glimmer of an idea that there was something I didn't quite like about the idea of balance, I'd never given the concept a lot of thought. But seldom have I found anyone devote an entire article, essay, or other body of writing specifically to the topic of balance.

Until now.

Back on 10 January, the blog 'The Angry GM' wrote an entire article entitled 'A Trifecta of Unbalance.' It is a bit on the long side, but I highly recommend that you read it if you have a chance to do so. The author addresses the issue of game balance head on, and describes concretely what had previously only been mentioned as a subset of a different topic. Specifically, he details what game balance is, what it is not, how precise it can be, the reasons behind these facts, and most importantly, the three different types of balance.