Saturday, August 18, 2018

PinkFae Archive #17: Board Game Review: Tsuro

This week, we have another PinkFae Archive (remember, the articles in this series are repostings of entries that I wrote during my time with PinkFae, which are being published here so as not to be lost). This time around, we have the review of the wonderful game Tsuro.

This article was originally posted on 16 May 2016. Enjoy!

A game of Tsuro in progress. The photo shows the board, with several tiles laid out upon it, and the players' pieces on the tiles ready for the next player's turn.

Another week, another board game review. This week, I'm going to talk about a simple but enjoyable game called Tsuro. It's a fun little spatial-awareness game with a bit of a zen theme. I first saw it played on Wil Wheaton's Tabletop, and got to play it myself a few months ago. I really enjoyed it, so I picked up a copy for myself. So let's take a look at this game now, shall we?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Inclusive NPCS Volume 5: Pilar

We've come again to the time for an inclusive NPC. Here, I provide you with another NPC that you may use to ensure that your games are welcoming, by including non-stereotyped minority characters. As always, I describe these characters from the viewpoint of a basic modern setting, but you are free to adapt them to whatever setting you need for your games. Are you playing in a fantasy game where modern countries don't exist? Adapt the character's origin story to fit your world (just remember with ethnicity to maintain the minority status as much as possible; that is, after all, the point of these characters). Is your game set in a distant galaxy? Add some ultra-tech gear to the character. Are you playing pirates on the high seas? Adjust the skills accordingly.

I provide stats for the D20 system, GURPS, the original World of Darkness, and Fate Core. But you are always welcome to adjust these stats for whatever system you are using.

This time around, we will be meeting Pilar Montes Rodriguez. She is courteous and honest, but with a tendency to be outrageously playful. She has big dreams, but is really too timid to try to achieve them. She's generally shy, but loyal to those she calls friends. Although she's not looking for romance, she can be flirty as a way to play and have fun. She's sensitive to the suffering of others, but not really brave enough to get involved in politics or other ways of trying to help.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Six Characteristics of a Good Game

As I was writing last week's review of Rampage / Terror in Meeple City, I started thinking about how I had only just recently introduced into my board game reviews the Six Characteristics of a Good Game. More to the point, I was thinking about how those six characteristics don't always map exactly to how well I like a game.

So, I thought that today, I would take a quick look back at all of the games I've reviewed on this blog in the past. I want to do this for two reasons:
  1. I want to go back and add these characteristics to those games that don't yet have them, on account of I wrote their reviews before I started including the characteristics.
  2. I want to compare the characteristics to my personal ratings of those games.
Note that in that last one, I'm comparing the ratings to my personal tastes. I'm only doing this for demonstrative purposes. I want to show that just because a game has all six characteristics, it won't necessarily be a game that you like. Contrariwise, if a game lacks most (or all) of these characteristics, it may still be a game that you enjoy. So whatever ranking you give to these games, similar to mine or different, the point remains the same.

Let's go!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Board Game Review: Rampage / Terror in Meeple City

In 2013, Repos productions released a game called Rampage. It was inspired by, and in part, based on the 1986 video game of the same name. Alas, Repos had not secured the rights to use this name, and so in June of 2014, the game was rereleased as Terror in Meeple City.

I recently got to play a game with a friend of mine. He had managed to acquire one of the original Rampage versions right as the new edition was being released. So the photos I have will look slightly different from what you can expect to find if you go out and buy the current Terror in Meeple City.

With that said, let's get on to the review, staring (as always) with some 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, 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: 1
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 0
Humour: Inherent
Attractiveness: Pretty
Average Length of Game Play: 30 minutes
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: Low
  Conflict: Low
  Social Manipulation: Low
  Fantasy: High

Saturday, July 21, 2018

PinkFae Archive #16: Object of the Game vs The Reason for Playing

Here we have another reprint of an article that I originally wrote for PinkFae. I'm excited to bring you this one, in which I discuss a topic of which I think a lot of people lose sight: what really is the object of a game? Enjoy!

A photo of the rules for Parcheesi printed on the inside of the box top. The object of the game is highlighted: it reads 'The object of the game is to be the first player to move his four pawns from his START to his HOME.'

Often, when reading the rules to a board game, you will find an entry listed as 'Object of the Game.' This tells you the conditions which a player must fulfil in order to be declared the winner. However, it is misleading to call this the 'object' of the game. The object of the game is to have fun! Obviously, I've talked about this some before. But I want to talk about a specific phenomenon that I see frequently in games, and that's confusing the object of the game with the victory conditions.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Clans Vs Fae - Comparing an Original and a Reimplementation

The boxes for Clans (artwork showing some prehistoric people on a hill looking down into a valley with several huts in various colours) and Fae (artwork showing a cloaked figure with a primitive staff holding his arm up towards a faerie creature).

Many years ago, I saw a game called Clans being sold in a game store. I read some reviews online, and thought it looked like a good investment, so I bought it. I played it, and I loved it. You can see what I thought of it in my review.

A couple of months ago, I noticed that there was a listing on Board Game Geek for a reimplementation of this game called Fae. I was apprehensive, yet excited. Clans had been out of print for some time, so I was pleased to see that it would be available again, although I was concerned that they had complety changed the theme.

I finally got my hands on a copy of it. So today, I'm going to compare the original game, Clans, to its reimplementation, Fae.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Board Game Review: Azul

It seems as though everyone who loves board games loves Azul. So when I had a chance to play it, I absolutely had to give it a try! And I must say, I can see why so many people enjoy it. It's very thinky-thinky, with a pleasant theme and some really nice components.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So let's go ahead and get started, with my review of Azul.

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: 5
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 2
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Pretty
Average Length of Game Play: 40 minutes
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: High
  Conflict: Low
  Social Manipulation: Low 
  Fantasy: Medium

Saturday, June 30, 2018

PinkFae Archive #15: Discrimination in the Geek Community

It's time once again for another article that I wrote for PinkFae. As we continue to reproduce the writing I did over there so as to ensure that it is not lost to the annals of time, we come to the post that I wrote on 20 April 2016.

Directional road signs, one labelled 'us' pointing left, and one labelled 'them' pointing right.

A friend of mine recently posted a link on facebook. This link led to an article about women experiencing harassment at gaming conventions. He also included a link to a second article discussing the same topic. Both articles were, I thought, well written, and described a common problem. The sad truth of the matter is that the geek community does include a lot of discrimination. Obviously, it's most commonly directed at women, but it's not limited to that demographic. There are examples of anti-LGBT+ discrimination as well. I would like to take a moment to discuss my thoughts on this matter today.

WARNING!

I'm going to be discussing some fairly bothersome topics in this post. In order to adequately talk about discrimination, I will have to provide some examples of that discrimination. This will include some language that will be offensive, as well as possible triggers. Please be aware that some of what I am about to say is going to bother some people. Use your best judgement in deciding whether to continue reading beyond this point.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Transgender Representation in Board Games

I recently found an article on Transgender Representation in Board Games. When I first saw it, I thought, 'I'm not sure how to represent any particular demographic in board games. For example, when I play Power Grid, there are different coloured pieces for each player. There's no gender involved in that in any way!'

What I was forgetting was story-driven games, such as Betrayal at House on the Hill. Apparently, I still suffer the old person mindset of someone who grew up in the 80s with games like Balderdash, Scotland Yard, and Trivial Pursuit, along with still-popular classics such as Monopoly, Sorry, and Scrabble. These games have only colours, no characters at all. Even games that did include characters, like Cluedo/Clue, the characters were not a big part of game play. Although I always knew that the yellow pawn, for example, represented Colonel Mustard, it never felt like I was playing him as a character in the game. The disassociation between the characters and the game itself was pretty strong.

The only game I can think of that really involved gender at all was Life, which boiled everything down to incredibly abstract concepts of 'pink pegs and blue pegs.' There were a lot of games that used characters from existing franchises, such as Star Wars and other movies.

So perhaps I can be forgiven for not immediately thinking of character-based games.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Board Game Review: Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal

The cover of the game. The title is displayed superimposed over the titular crystal, with the castle of the crystal visible in the background. Along the left side are the four main characters, each in a circular portrait. Along the bottom is a window covered with clear plastic allowing the four miniatures that are the game's playing pieces to be seen.

If you've been paying much attention to this blog at all, you know that I am a major fan of The Dark Crystal. I have been ever since I was a young boy and I saw it when it first released in 1982. So it's no surprise at all that I had to pre-order a copy of the board game the moment I heard it was being released.

Of course, the time has come to review that game. Mount up on your landstrider; we're adventuring in the world of Thra!

Warning: This game (and thus, probably this review as well) contains spoilers for the film. If you haven't watched the movie, you might want to do that before you read this review.

Of course, if you haven't watched the movie, why on earth not? Go watch this amazing film right now! This review assumes that you are familiar with the story and the setting, so if you don't know what skeksis, mystics, garthim, Aughra, or podlings are, this review probably won't make a whole lot of sense.

So, with that said, shall we start with the numbers? Of course we shall!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

PinkFae Archive #14: Children as Players in Roleplaying Games

We are slowly working our way through the archive of articles I wrote for PinkFae. This week, we come to entry number 14, about playing roleplaying games with children. I hope you enjoy it! This article was originally published on 10 April 2016.

Two children, a boy and a girl, each within a couple of years of age ten by appearances, smiling and laughing at a table covered with Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.

A friend of mine recently posted a link to an article about playing D&D with your kids. It was short, but had some interesting points. In particular, there was the part in which the author described a gaming session with his group that includes some parents who'd brought their children to the game. In this particular session, the three-year-old daughter of one of his fellow players was having fun with his miniatures. He states,
...as I was explaining what each monster was she began to ignore me and make up her own names and stories for them all. I smiled and played along with her. As we played however, I noticed that this was really kick starting her imagination. Stories of strange beasts and dragons with giant spiders as pets...
I don't have any children. My wife and I have chosen a different life path for ourselves. But I know several gamers who do have children. John Trobare, whom I interviewed recently, has a few, and he plays board games with them all the time. I don't know if he's ever tried to get them into roleplaying. But I have known other parents who have.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The End of the Golden Age?

I've written two articles now about the Golden Age of board games. One was published here on this site, and the other was written for PinkFae. The PinkFae article was number 19, so will be appearing here in a few weeks as part of the normal cycle of PinkFae archives.

This is important because in the PinkFae article, I referenced the beginning of the Golden Age. Specifically, I said:
...in 1995, a dental technician from Germany named Klaus Teber released the board game Settlers of Catan. This groundbreaking game combined the best elements of both American and Euro games... [and] sparked a revolution. Suddenly, game designers realised that board games could be fun for everyone without instigating feuds within families or groups of friends. The Golden Age was upon us!
The game was released in the English-speaking world the following year, by Mayfair Games, a company that had existed since 1981. Arguably, this company is responsible for the golden age of board games; by bringing Settlers of Catan to the English-speaking world, Mayfair Games paved the way for the best ideas in two different areas of board gaming to co-mingle and produce the amazing games that exist today. They also published the English-language editions of many of the staples of modern board games: Agricola, Bang!, Tigris and Euphrates, and Patchwork, to name a few.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

PinkFae Archive #13: Board Game Review: Area 1851

It is time once more for a PinkFae archive. This one is another board game review that I wrote for that site. This article was originally published on 27 March 2016.

The cover art of Area 1851, showing an old west style town with a banner across the street that displays the title, and in the foreground, a cowboy hovering by means of a jetpack shakes hands with an alien holding a pickaxe.

The time has come once again for a board game review. This week, I shall look at a new game that was only just recently published, with the help of Kickstarter, and was introduced to me by my good friend John Trobare. The game in question is: Area 1851. It is a game of 'UFOs meet cowboys.' Aliens and old west characters are competing to gain the greatest amount of reputation by constructing and delivering strange devices.

As always, we start with some numerals that are not at all randomly generated.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Inclusive NPCs Volume 4: Chadra

Once more, it is time to provide you with an inclusive NPC. If you want to include a wider array of characters with whom your PCs may interact, you are free to use the characters I describe here. You may use them as they are written, or you may adapt and modify them to meet your needs. As always, I provide stats in the D20 systemGURPS, the original World of Darkness, and Fate Core. If you would like to use these characters in a different system, you are welcome to do so; just convert the stats using whatever method is best for you.

This week, our NPC is Chadra. She is a muslim of Syrian nationality, though she moved when she was younger to whatever location you need for your game. Her background is somewhat tragic; she was discovered at a fairly young age (somewhere around 13 or 14) by a woman named Tamsin, who claims to have had a vision of the future. In this vision, an apocalyptic event was destined to occur, in which hordes of demons swarm across the world, killing everyone in their path. Tamsin insists that the only way to survive this cataclysm is to offer sacrificial victims to these demons in exchange for her own life. Tamsin recruited Chadra into this cult and had her trained as her enforcer. The young girl was taught to be proficient with a number of melee weapons, most notably the sword.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Do Lizardfolk Females have Breasts?

I know, that's a very strange title for an article. Bear with me though.

See, I was working on a prop for the new Fate game I'm running. It's sort of a crossover between Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, and Cowboy Bebop. But the important thing is that I was looking for images of lizardfolk to use in this prop. And I noticed that many of the images I was seeing displayed breasts on the females.

This struck me as odd, because reptiles don't have breasts. Breasts are a uniquely mammalian feature; in fact, that's where the word 'mammal' comes from: the Latin word mammalis, 'of the breast.' No other type of animal has mammary glands.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Board Game Review: Near and Far (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote an overview of the game Near and Far. But there was so much I wanted to say about it that I felt I had to split it into two parts. In today's installment, I will present my 'final thoughts.'

Final Thoughts on Near and Far

I have been enjoying this game so very very much. However, that being said...

I really enjoy watching the video reviews over at Shut Up and Sit Down. They're detailed, they're well done, and most of all, they're amusing. But one thing I've noticed is that I often disagree with them. They usually recommend games that I would not, and they frequently don't recommend games that I think really deserve to be recommended. Which, as I've said many times in the past, is fine; everyone likes different things from their games. 

But I was especially disappointed when they didn't give a recommendation to Near and Far

So my friend (who, you may remember, I'm calling Caroline) bought a copy of Near and Far and told me that I should play with her. Thus, the Dork Spouse and I traipsed over to the home of Caroline and her wife one evening, and we set up the game. We watched through a 'how to play' video, and then we began the game.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Board Game Review: Near and Far (Part 1)

Oh my goodness, guys, I am so excited for this week's entry. I've been waiting for this entry for a long time! I tend to write my entries weeks in advance, mostly so that if I'm busy during a week, I don't miss posting. But that means if something really neat comes along, I have to wait a while until I have a week with no entry posted before I can say anything about it. So I've had to wait for this one.

One thing you may notice about this entry is that it's listed as 'Part 1.' That's because there is so much I want to say about this game, I've decided that I'm going to do it in two parts. Today's entry, part 1, will be an overview of the game itself. Next week, in part 2, I will discuss my thoughts on the game. And that's the part that's going to take some time to get through. Because there's a lot to be said about how I feel about this game.

All right, enough dilly-dallying. Let's get started!

The cover art for Near and Far: a mountainous landscape with someone standing at the end of a rope bridge in the foreground.

This week, I am going to start reviewing the game Near and Far. As always, we're going to start by looking at some numbers. And as always, here's the chart that tells you what those numbers mean:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

PinkFae Archive #12: Interview with Board Game Designer John Trobare

This week's entry is a very special PinkFae archive. It's my first game designer interview, and even better, it's an interview with my good friend John Trobare. This interview was first posted on 19 March 2016, not long after he had successfully published his game Asphodel through Kickstarter. So let's get right into it!

The interviewee, John Trobare, with his son, enjoying a day outdoors.

My good friend John Trobare is an accomplished individual. He created the game Asphodel, which he self-published last year through Kickstarter. In addition, he opened his own pizza delivery business two years ago. All this in addition to being a devoted father and husband, and playing games several times a week, including annual trips to the Geekway to the West convention in St. Louis.

I decided to interview Mr Trobare for this week's entry. So one Sunday evening, we sat down with some family and friends to talk over dinner.

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.