Because getting your butt kicked in the Battle of the Blackwater just once is not nearly enough, Game of Thrones fans will soon be able to take the reigns of House Baratheon and re-create the epic conflict again and again. Perhaps they'll even have a chance to write their own ending to the conflict between Baratheon and Lannister, or better yet, stage a fan fiction-esque battle of Baratheon versus Stark.
All of the above are possible with the Battles of Westeros tactical board game system from Fantasy Flight Games, which is about to receive its first major addition in the form of a House Baratheon Army Expansion. Game of Thrones may not be returning to HBO until March 31st, but with the luck of the dice and a skin of hot mulled wine, you just might yet survive the winter.
A group of Dungeons & Dragons players gather to create their own play experiences. Image by Jason Coleman, used under Creative Commons license.
Over the course of five weeks, we'll be chatting with Mike Mearls, Rodney Thompson, Bruce Cordell, James Wyatt, and Chris Perkins about their history with the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Last week, we asked the group about their favorite setting, but now, we'll go deeper into their gamer histories to hear the tales of their favorite play experiences.
Rodney Thompson: This is a really tough question to answer, because the great thing about D&D isn't that it's about individual moments, but about the stories that develop over weeks and months of being together with your group. For example, I'd be very tempted to call out the Age of Worms adventure path from Dungeon magazine as something that shaped my current view of what makes D&D great, and it still stands as one of my most successful campaigns I've ever run.
For one adventure, my girlfriend cooked a multiple-course meal that matched the weird feast taking place during the adventure. I had a good friend (who is also a professional illustrator) do character illustrations for each of my players' characters. I even have a little shrine to that campaign at my desk here at work, with that illustration (plus a matching illustration of the same characters by Order of the Stick artist Rich Burlew), and a signed art print of the cover image from the first adventure by Wayne Reynolds, all hung up on the wall. My players' character names from that campaign also occasionally creep into books I'm working on as the example names given for various character types.
I’m sitting in the Cryptozoic Store at SDCC 2012 before hours, sipping coffee and listening to the designer of the company's brand new DC Comics based card game, and I hear Yvette from Game of Thrones whispering in my ear: “You know nothing, Alex Zalben.”
One of the joys of Comic-Con is that there’s something for every single section of fandom. Like Cosplay? There’s a LOT of Cosplay. Love video games? You can preview the latest and greatest. Movie fan? Go home, you can’t get into Hall H. And one of the more unique fandoms is, of course, tabletop gaming. From card games, to board games, and beyond, there’s a ton of excellent geeky properties to play, and it seems like most of the best games are made by Cryptozoic. Read More...
A painted Beholder mini at DDXP 2008. Image by Flickr user Benimoto, used under Creative Commons License.
If you've been living under a rock, or simply don't read up on RPG-related news, you may not have heard about the upcoming changes to Dungeons & Dragons. Big changes. Currently in playtesting, the RPG's fifth iteration (codenamed D&D Next) is aiming to be the definitive version of Dungeons & Dragons, tying together the signature aspects of all prior D&D editions in a modular system.
With such a focus on leveraging the past to make a great new product, we felt it would be a great time to get inside the heads of the Dungeons & Dragons team to see just what sort of history they've had with the game. No two players are likely to have the same experience with a property as expansive as D&D, but looking at what inspires today's current crop of designers can give plenty of clues for the future. Read More...
Plan on waiting in this? Better pack some games. Image by Flickr user chrislee-cm, used under Creative Commons License
As geeks around the globe prepare to make their annual pilgrimage to San Diego, a common question will arise: what should I be packing? If you plan on spending hours upon hours waiting in line, hoping to enter Hall H for a seat at some celebrity-studded panels, then the answer is clear. You should be packing a few games to help you and your fellow con-goers pass the time.
But the floor of a convention center is no place for a full-size board game; this situation calls for an arsenal of card games and portable abstract strategy titles. You'll want to pack games that are lightweight, compact, and preferably, ones you can pick up and move with you should the line shift unexpectedly.
Without further ado, here are five options that cover all of the bases, from 2-player strategic duels to 8+ player party games:
The middle of 2012 may seem a bit late to be announcing the best games of 2011, but when it comes to board and card games, it takes time to really digest a title and gauge its worth. For the past few months, eleven German game journalists have pored over the slate of 2011 releases to decide who would win their country's internationally-recognized "Spiel des Jahres" award.
The votes have all been tallied and the winners now have their trophies in hand. Earlier in the year, I wrote about how the nine nominees were likely games most people had never heard of, but in the end, the winners were definitely the most recognizable. For the overall game of the year award, Kingdom Builder from publisher Queen Games and designer Donald X. Vaccarino took home the Spiel des Jahres award. A second award was also handed out for the best complex game (Kennerspiel des Jahres), going to Village from publishers Eggertspiele and Pegasus Spiele, and designers Inka and Markus Brand.
Hulk, smash? Roll some dice and find out. In a free downloadable supplement to their Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, publisher Margaret Weis Productions has given players several new character sheets: The Hulk and U-Foes team members Vector, Ironclad, Vapor, and X-Ray.
All of this new content is tied together in a "What If?" scenario that puts a new twist on the New Avengers "Breakout" story arc. In the new playable RPG scene, Bruce Banner is held prisoner at the bottom of the Raft in place of the storyline's actual prisoner, the Sentry. Read More...
“Make rapport with the paddle; pick pock how it go,
pop-lock as you wield it; feel the ball flow...
Ping pong, step up to the table
Ping pong, put the ball in play”
- MC Frontalot, Ping Pong
What do ping pong, a popular webcomic, and the Cold War have in common? More than you might think. The three have been combined to form Paint the Line, an upcoming card game from Penny Arcade. Stranger confluences of theme do exist in the hobby gaming industry, but you’d be hard pressed to find them. Paint the Line is unique, and its existence is owed to a single factor: the devotion of its creators to the subject matter.
Back in April, Wil Wheaton and the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel debuted TableTop, a show where celebrities gather to play board and card games. The concept sounded interesting, described by Wheaton as "Celebrity Poker meets Dinner for Five, where we got interesting people we know together for tabletop games," but one big question remained: would people actually tune in?
Nearly three months later, evidence is mounting that TableTop is a huge success. The first episode, featuring the game Small World, has racked up an impressive 628,000+ views. Some members of the gaming media have also begun digging into sales data to gauge the show's impact. The Starlit Citadel blog has dubbed this "The Wheaton Effect" after demonstrating that TableTop is actually boosting the popularity of the games it features.
Games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Munchkin are staples of the hobby gaming industry, so if someone is purchasing these titles, this is likely their first time purchasing a modern board game. Since TableTop is meant to draw in new gamers, it's definitely having that desired effect.
So where do they go from here? The internet is full of recommendation lists, but it's easy to get overwhelmed. These new gamers already have a few games they love; they just bought them! Instead of rushing to explore every corner of the hobby gaming marketplace, it may be worthwhile to take things slow and explore the expansions, sequels, and accessories for the games featured on TableTop.
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg. The roster is set, but if you want to play the DC Comics Deck-building Game, you'll have to choose one of these heroes as your own. Each has a unique ability, allowing players at the table to adopt different strategies from turn 1.
While we reviewed Cryptozoic's Penny Arcade-themed deck-building game as a great intro to the genre, their DC Comics Deck-building Game looks to be decidedly more complex. For starters, it contains five different card types: Villains, Heroes, Equipment, Super Powers, and Locations.
Deck-building card games are a delicate balancing act, as players carefully add new cards to their decks with hopes of consistently drawing powerful 5-card hands. The added variety of card types amps up the complexity of these decisions, but the goal of each turn holds a singular focus: defeat Villains.
Usually, trivia and parties don't mix. Have you ever been at a party where someone finds a dusty copy of Trivial Pursuit in a closet, and through the power of nostalgia, convinces a group to play? It ends with you drunk texting your grandparents questions about the Carter administration. At least they'll think you've taken an interest in politics.
Lucky for you, Wits & Wagers is not Trivial Pursuit. In fact, it's a trivia game where you don't need book smarts at all, just a bit of common sense. All of the questions have numerical answers, such as the actual number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, or the year in which People Magazine first name someone "Sexiest Man Alive." Success is not a matter of guessing correctly, but instead being able to bet on who was closest after everyone's guesses are revealed. As long as you can sniff out the truth, you can hack it in this game.
Wits & Wagers Party is a new version of the classic Wits & Wagers that uses lighter questions and sturdier components (to help it stand up to your intense partying). In order to celebrate the upcoming release of this new edition, publisher North Star Games will be holding an online launch party.
Tomorrow night, six of the web's top hobby gaming journalists will meet in an On-Air Google+ Hangout to play an inaugural match of Wits & Wagers Party. As far as board games are concerned, this is about as close as the industry is going to get to a true premiere event.
Celebrity photos used under Creative Commons licensing. Photo credit (left to right): Edward Liu, Gage Skidmore, Gage Skidmore, David Shankbone.
Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are just rich dudes, but they're rich dudes with crazy suits. The same can't be said for Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, Morgan Spurlock, and Harry Knowles, but starting next month, they can all fight toe to toe. The celebrities behind Comic-Con The Movie Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope will be receiving their own HeroClix figures, so if your table starts to look like "Wargames of the Rich and Famous," this should explain why.
Game publisher Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has issued a challenge to board and card game designers: we'll provide the theme, you bring the mechanics. AEG has been hard at work for over three years fleshing out their newest setting, Tempest, a fictional city-state that will provide a common world, cast of characters, and overarching plot line for an entire range of new games.
As a start, AEG plans to publish three Euro-style strategy games set in the Tempest world: Dominaire, Courtier, and Mercante. These three games respectively give players a Tempest-themed take on area control, set collection, and auctions, which are all tried-and-true mechanics for Euro strategy.
The first three Tempest games, from designers Jim Pinto, Philip duBarry, and Jeff Tidball, will be released during Germany's Essen Spiel gaming expo in October 2012.
But AEG doesn't want to stop there. They are looking for fresh ideas, and that's were you come in. Any potential game designer, experienced or not, has been welcomed to register for AEG's Tempest designer website, where the publisher will peel back the curtain on all of the characters and plotlines that can be incorporated into future Tempest games. After digesting the resources, designers have an open line of communication to pitch new game ideas directly to AEG.
If this sounds like your kind of challenge but you need a kick-start to your motivation, take a look at five areas where the Tempest setting might be a good fit for future game design:
The sales figures for this years Origins Game Fair have been announced, and while the event did experience a decline, the final tally surprised many attendees who expected worse. As reported by ICv2, Origins experienced only a 1.5% dip in badge sales. However, these numbers have been hard to swallow by a gaming community that insists this year's Origins had a distinctly different vibe, one indicative of a much larger drop.
But is the number of badges sold explicitly linked to the vibe of an event? The short answer is no, so I reached out to convention organizers and attendees alike to determine how both the sales figures and observed attendance can both make sense.
If you want to make your head hurt, play chess against an expert opponent. If you want a chess player's head to hurt, sit them down in front of The Duke.
Abstract strategy games such as these don't get a whole lot of love in most gaming circles, where engrossing theme or deep mechanics rule the day. The Duke has neither, but Catalyst Game Labs is Kickstarting this abstract game for its deceivingly simple design that packs a few tricks up its sleeve.