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.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Board Game Review: Plague Inc.

If you're looking for a fun game that's fairly simple to learn but pretty deep in terms of strategy, then Plague Inc. certainly delivers. As I've been able to play it twice now, I will review it for you that you may decide if you want to play it yourself.

One quick note before we get started: I have created a YouTube channel. There's only one video there right now: a How To Play video for the Red Dragon Inn. It's a little rough; I learned a lot in creating it which will allow my later videos to be even better. I plan to create and upload more videos in the future; I'm already working on a How To Play video for the new Dark Crystal board game. So if you're interested, hop on over and subscribe so you don't miss anything!

Now that that's out of the way, let's start with the numbers:
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, andmakes 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: 1
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Pretty
Average Length of Game Play: 1 hour
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: Medium
  Conflict: Medium
  Social Manipulation: Low
  Fantasy: Medium

Saturday, February 17, 2018

PinkFae Archive #9: Changeling: The Dreaming - Why I Love It So Much

Welcome, gentle readers, to another PinkFae article. This one refers to Archive #8, from three weeks ago. It was originally published on 28 February 2016, just one week after Archive #8.

The Changeling: the Dreaming main rule book, with the cover art representing a stained glass window of a gryphon holding a sword.

Last week, I wrote an article about the tabletop roleplaying game Changeling: the Dreaming. Included in that article were links to descriptions of the setting and in-game history. Anyone who is familiar with the Storyteller System (the original World of Darkness in particular) already knows the basics of the system. But what I didn't describe was why I am such a fan of the game. So I think I will do that today.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

New Resolution

A ten by ten challenge chart. The centre is a retro eighties image of light purple text reading 'ten by ten' of metallic letters that spell out 'challenge' with twenty eighteen in plain white italics below that, all over a glowing triangle emblem on a background of a starry night sky, hovering over a glowing neon grid. From both sides of this graphic, a five by ten grid in metallic texture extends, curving to become wider as it gets further away from the central image.

Very shortly after I had posted my Resolution: Failed article on 30 December, a friend invited me to partake of a 10×10 Challenge. I had never heard of it, so I did a bit of research. It turns out that a few years ago on Board Game Geek, someone created this challenge to counteract what she called 'the cult of the new' (more on that in a moment).

Here's how it works: you play ten games, ten times each, over the course of a calendar year. There are two levels of difficulty: Normal and Hardcore. In the Normal level, you are considered successful if you play any ten games ten times. Just keep track of how many times you play any game, and if at the end of the year, you have at least ten games in which you logged ten plays or more, you succeed.

In Hardcore, you decide at the beginning of the year which ten games you're going to count. You only log those games (and any plays you may have had before you accept the challenge don't count).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Board Game Review: Tiny Epic Galaxies

I got to try my first 'Tiny Epic' game recently. If you don't know what that means, I'll tell you. Gamelyn Games publishes a series of 'Tiny Epic' games which come in a small box, take up a small amount of table space, are easy to learn, but pack in a great deal of enjoyable gameplay. And if Tiny Epic Galaxies, the game that I played, is any indication, that description is very apt.

So let's get into it! Here are some numbers to look at:
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, andmakes 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: 5
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 1
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Useful
Average Length of Game Play: 45 minutes
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: Medium
  Conflict: Medium
  Social Manipulation: Low
  Fantasy: Medium

Saturday, January 27, 2018

PinkFae Archive #8: Transgender Changeling

It's time once again for another entry in the PinkFae archives. This week, we cover an interesting advanced technique for use with Changeling: The Dreaming. This article was originally published on 21 February, 2016.

The Title Logo for Changeling: The Dreaming—the title rendered as a slightly whimsical stained glass panel

As a gamer who is a fan of stories and storytelling, I tend to be drawn towards games that allow and encourage the telling of stories. This is why I became a fan of roleplaying games; they are the single best framework for telling stories as a game. Of all the RPGs I've tried (and I have tried many), my favourite is, without question, Changeling: the Dreaming. It emphasises creativity, and is set in a world which includes a vast realm made entirely of dreams. This allows you to play in any setting you can imagine. The important thing right now is that the characters in this story are faeries inhabiting human bodies. Normally, players assume that the human body in which a fae spirit is housed matches the demographics of the fae spirit itself. But as I find myself thinking more about Changeling as a result of the recent 20th Anniversary Kickstarter, I realise that nowhere in the rules does it say that this is necessarily the case. In fact, there are places where it hints that it isn't always the case; specifically, it mentions that the Eshu, an African kith, are not always born into host bodies of African descent. Thus, I begin to wonder if there are other ways in which this disconnect can be expanded. And my first thought is: what if the human body is of a different gender than the fae spirit born into it? And thus I find myself contemplating the possibility of Transgender Changeling.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Legitimate Complaint Concerning GURPS

I recently encountered an article about GURPS. In the article, the author outlines some of the problems he has with GURPS (and, in particular, with the 4th edition of GURPS). Many of the things he has to say on the issue are valid, and as I've recently done a bit of dabbling in GURPS again and had a number of thoughts on the topic, it helped me to crystallise what I was thinking. So today, I'm going to discuss my reactions to the article.

A quick summary of the article, for those who don't want to click on the link above (and it is a lengthy read, so I don't blame you if you don't):
GURPS 3rd Edition was great, but in translating the system into a 4th edition, they made the game incomprehensible for new players, and their ancient, arcane, and inflexible policies on intellectual properties only exacerbate the problem.
So, in order for my attitudes towards GURPS to make sense, I'm going to provide a little bit of context in the form of my personal history with the system.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

PinkFae Archive #7: Board Game Review: Alchemists

Time for another entry in the PinkFae Archive. This post was originally published on 13 February 2016.

The Alchemists box, showing the cover art of a man in wizard's robes holding a frog in one hand as he adds drops of a strange liquid to a brew from which small hands can be seen reaching, as an apprentice climbs out a window in the background to escape the insanity of his master.

Greetings, fellow gamers, and welcome to another entry in the Board Game Review series of Game On posts! This week, I shall describe a game that I learned to play at my local board game cafe's Kickstarter Backer Party! The game in question is Alchemists. Remember the system I devised for reviewing these games? Here it is again:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Inclusive NPCs Volume 2: Quahtli

It's time again for another Inclusive NPC. As you may remember from the last entry, these NPCs are presented here for you to use as you see fit in any campaign you run. The idea is that you can contribute to a more accepting world by exposing your players, even in games, to a more diverse cast of characters. And since I am aware that not everyone finds it easy to come up with interesting supporting characters, I will provide you with some that you may use as-is, or that may inspire you to develop your own character from marginalised groups.

As I did last time with Cedar, I will provide you with the character's stats in four different systems: D&D, GURPS, the original World of Darkness, and FATE Core.

So let's meet Quahtli.

Quahtli is of Quechua ethnic heritage, originally living in Peru, but having travelled the world to see many different places, and having many new experiences. A few years ago, she met and fell in love with a woman named Cecilia. Quahtli's natural wanderlust and sense of adventure subsided enough for her to settle down with Cecilia. At first, they would travel together, seeing new places, but Cecilia suffered chronic depression, and after a short time, their adventures together grew less frequent. Now, Quahtli stays with Cecilia full time to help care for her and treat her depression.