Fresh To War: Uboxing the Warmachine & Hordes New Releases for February 2017

*Another month, another lineup of excellent miniatures from Privateer Press to showcase. This time hailing from those dark druidic denizens of the forest, the Circle of Orboros! As has become something of a monthly tradition I shall step aside and let Uncle Grumps chime in and tell you what’s what!*  – Melvs

What’s up, Jerks?  Uncle Grumps here again with another quick look at some new releases from Privateer Press.  Today we’ll be focusing on the Circle of Orboros.

First up is Una the Skyhunter

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Available as of 02/22/2017

MP $16.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

“During her time tending the far-flung griffon roosts of the Circle, Una developed an unparalleled affinity with the winged beasts and now employs them to cut down opponents without mercy. Having refined her arcane command over the elements, she is able to call upon the howling gales and updrafts of the highest mountain peaks to shape the flow of battle.”

Una the Skyhunter is the epic version of Una the Falconer, Circle’s character lesser warlock.  Through her transition to a full-fledged warlock, Una has kept her affinity for the flying Warbeasts of the Circle.  Una’s statline is fairly average for a Warlock with the exception of her lower that average MAT of 5.  She also boasts a Fury 7, 15 hitboxes, and 29 Warbeast points.  Una’s main weapon is her Wind Strike, a magical attack with decent range and POW.  Wind Strike has 3 attack types  you can chose from when making an attack.  Black Penny allows Una to ignore the penalty for attacking a target in melee, Snipe gives her attack +4 RNG, and Thunderbolt pushes models directly away from Una.  Wind Stike also has Reload [2] which allows Una to spend Fury to make up to 2 additional attacks.  (I don’t know how someone would go about reloading a magic staff but apparently it’s no problem for the Skyhunter).  Rounding out her weapons is Talonstrike, a magical, 2” reach melee weapon with a low POW.  Una’s abilities include Bird of Prey which gives griffon Warbeasts in her control range Flank with other griffon’s in her battlegroup and Hawker which gives Sprint to Warbeasts with Flight in her Command range.  Between the extra damage die from Flank and the movement shenanigans possible with Sprint, you’ll want to load up Una with as many griffon Warbeasts as possible.

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Una has access to four spells.  The first is Hand of Fate, a low cost upkeep that lets a Faction model/unit roll an additional die for attack and damage rolls and then discard the lowest.  Mirage grants a Faction model/unit Apparition, which allows a model to be placed 2” from its current location during the Control Phase.  Twister is a low cost offensive spell that creates a 3” AOE cloud effect for one round.  Finally, Wind Wall is a moderately priced spell that causes non-magical ranged attacks to automatically miss the caster and any models completely with 3” of the caster.  Additionally, models affected by Wind Wall cannot make ranged attacks.  Una’s feat, From on High, gives Faction models with Flight in her control range +2 SPD and prevents friendly light Warbeasts from being targeted by melee attacks for one turn.

Scarsfell, Rotterhorn, and Razorwing Griffons all shine with Una.  On her feat turn, these light Warbeasts can threaten huge parts of the board.  Including a Gorax Rager for its Primal animus will allow you to buff your Griffons to even more ridiculous levels.  Keep in mind that Una’s Warbeasts must be within 8” of her to benefit from Hawker.  This can leave her vulnerable to a counterattack if you aren’t careful with your placement.  Use Wind Wall to keep her safe from shooting and Twister to block line of sight.  Una the Skyhunter brings an interesting bag of tricks to the table.  She’ll have your opponents warily watching the skies for the whole game.

The next model we’ll be looking at is Kaya the Wildheart

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Available as of 02/08/2017

MP $29.99

From Privateer’s website:

“Atop her moon-white wolf Laris, Kaya the Wildheart rides at the head of swift forces fighting with fang and claw. She and Laris operate as one, Kaya skewering foes with her spear while the great wolf’s jaws clamp down on exposed throats. Any pack of beasts under Kaya’s command strikes with stunning speed and power, rendering the opposition incapable of counterattack.”

Apparently, Kaya is no longer content to just use Laris as a “barknode” and has decided to ride the poor doggo around the battlefield.  Kaya 3 has the similar stats to her two previous incarnations.  She has lost a point of DEF and gained +2 ARM.  Kaya’s weapon of choice is Mistral, a moderately powerful magical spear with 2” reach.  She also has a moderately powerful mount attack courtesy of Laris.  Kaya has the Pathfinder ability which allows her to ignore movement penalties from rough terrain and Reposition [3”] which allows her to advance 3” at the end of an activation in which she didn’t run or fail a charge.  On top of all that, she has Field Marshall Reposition [3”] which gives all Warbeasts in her battlegroup Repostion.

Kaya 3 has four spells to work with.  The first is Blood Spiller, an inexpensive, moderately power offensive spell that allows Warbeasts in Kaya’s battlegroup to charge or slam the model hit without being forced.  Next we have Fog of War, a moderately expensive upkeep that gives concealment to all models in Kaya’s control range.  Note that this includes enemy models.  Soothing Song is a dirt cheap spell that allows Kaya to remove 1 point of fury from each living Warbeast in her control range.  Kaya can only cast Soothing Song once per activation.  Finally we have Synergy.  This spell gives models in Kaya’s battlegroup a cumulative +1 bonus to melee attack and damage rolls (limited to +3)for each other model in her battlegroup that hit an enemy with a melee attack while in her control range.  Kaya’s feat, Moon Shadow, gives friendly Faction models +2 DEF, lets them ignore free strikes, and allows them to move through enemy models for one round.

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Just like her other incarnations, Kaya 3 is a warlock that wants plenty of Warbeasts in her battlegroup.  Synergy is an extremely powerful spell.  A Warpwolf Stalker that has warped strength and has the Synergy bonus is effectively MAT 9 and hits at POW 21.  Fog of War can help your melee beasts get into combat without getting shot up.  Soothing Song allows Kaya to take more living Warbeasts and lets her push those Warbeasts harder without fear of frenzy checks.  Any Circle melee Warbeast is going to work well in a Kaya 3 list.  Consider bringing a Gorax Rager or a Feral Warpwolf for the always useful Primal animus.  A unit of Shifting Stones can help with fury management and help keep you Warbeasts in the fight.  Kaya only has 6 fury to work with so bringing a Druid Wilder for the free upkeep might be a good investment.  Kaya the Wildheart brings a powerful set of abilities to the battlefield and she stands ready to lead your beasts to victory!

The last release we’ll be looking at today is the Circle of Orboros Command Book

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Available as of 02/08/2017

MP – Softcover $31.99

MP – Hardcover $41.99

Like the other two Command books that have been released, the Circle book contains the rules for the majority of the released models in the faction.  This book also contains a plethora of useful information about how the enigmatic Circle is structured and how its members wage war.  The Command book includes two new Theme Forces: The Bones of Orboros which focuses on the construct Warbeasts of the Circle, and The Wild Hunt which grants bonuses for bringing Wolf Sworn models and units.  The back of the book contains guides for how to recreate the look of the studio Circle paint scheme and guides for two amazing variant schemes.  I’d recommend this book to anyone who plays Circle or even has a passing interest in the Faction.

That’s all I’ve got for today.  As always, feel free to post any comments or questions you might have.  ‘Til next time, folks!

-Uncle Grumps

Kickstart that Geek! Dragon Brew Boardgame

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I’m fortunate enough to be friends with one of the team that worked on the development of Dragon Brew, Toby T. Gee.  You may recognize Toby from his blog, Roll and Groove, an excellent read that delves into his twin loves of board gaming and music. If you already follow his work, you may have noticed he hasn’t been as active of late (a loss to us all) but I choose to believe it’s because he has been diligently working with the team behind Dragon Brew to bring it to fruition. Toby helped them edit the rules and rulebook and has joined the rest of the team in marketing it to the masses prior to and during its Kickstarter run. It’s because of this welcomed relationship that I was able to play one of the prototypes of Dragon brew, back in May of last year, at Geekway to the West 2016.

Dragon brew mixes two of my favorite things, board games and craft brewing. Add in the perfect fantasy setting and you have a recipe for good fun. Apparently in “Brumancia”, the fantasy setting for the game, years of bitter war and conflict have been replaced by a brewing competition. If only our world were so noble. As a worker placement game you choose a fantasy race, each with its own special forms of brewing prowess (perhaps they start with more resources, or more gold, etc.). All the players then proceed through a turn of the game, brewing their special beers that they will eventually put before a panel of judges to win victory points for the place earned at each competition. When I played the game I was informed it was still in development but what I played felt pretty polished, and I had a blast playing. The only thing missing in the equation was a nice cold brew to compliment my gameplay (though, if I recall it was like 8am… I mean, I’ve started earlier… but still).

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This is August Games’ first product on Kickstarter but they’ve long been ingrained in the board gaming industry as lovers, and promoters, of the hobby. The man at the helm is Daniel G. George who was one of the founders of the Board Games and Brew podcast. Together with Kate Blevins, Jeff Cornelius, and Tom Lathos they’ve been podcasting about board games and beer since the fall of 2014. Daniel came up with the concept for Dragon Brew while chilling on the beach with his wife and a few brews on a rare sojourn from their children (I totally understand this). Reading his Designers Blog (an excellent read for those interested in the process of building a board game), things apparently just clicked in his head.

“Why not have a game where you take ingredient cards and lay them to make your own beers with custom names?  I grabbed my note book and sketched out cards lining up to create beers. I always ask myself “WHY” when I think of a new mechanic.  Why would players want to do this? What is the goal of the game?  To win prizes at a beer festival of course!  Judges with personalities and unique preferences!”

The wort was mashed, all that remained was a little fermentation of the core engine behind the game, and now of course we are at the bottling stage…ok, enough brewing puns, it might leave a bitter taste (ok, not sorry).

So let’s get into the pricing for the game, shall we? August Games keeps it simple. There are only three options remaining that get you the game.

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At $49.00 this is your best bet to get the game at a reduced price. From what I understand the retail price will likely jump to $65.00 post Kickstarter. So basically it’s a good time to buy.

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As you can see, buying in at the future retail price now will get you some extra goodies. Signed stuff is always cool, plus I dig the art!

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Getting four copies for $190.00 is a great way for your FLGS to get a head start on shelving the game for future sale. Let them know about it!

At this point the game is already 94% funded, and could very well fund before I hit the “post” button. Backers will get this game, especially considering they’ve also partnered with Quartermaster Logistics (the sister company to Cool Stuff Inc.) for backer reward fulfillment and warehousing. Let’s take a gander at a few of the stretch goals that, while not inevitable, are certainly the next step once this funds! Here are the first three.

I’m a huge fan of the third Stretch Goal. It’s always a lot of fun when a game can boast it’s own style of Meeple. So like its first two stretches, most of the goals focus on adding a variety of playable races to the game. There are already a lot to choose from but adding more sounds like a ton of fun, and likely something you’ll only be able to get as an expansion to the game later on. Another nod toward the solid move it would be to back during the Kickstarter.

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What’s in the box you ask?

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As you can probably tell, I’m geeking out about this game. Get in there quick folks and get a copy. I’d love to see this game shoot through stretch goals! Take care folks!

-Melvs

P.S. With only a little more than one hundred tickets to Geekway to the West 2017 remaining, you might be able to corner Toby and I and force Toby to demo this lovely game for you!

LINKS:

Kickstart that Geek! Dreamchaser

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Find the Kickstarter HERE!

I had a conversation with Pete Petrusha, creator of Dreamchaser and owner of Imagining Games, on twitter about his game. After getting the chance to play it, with notorious RPG Academy hosts Michael and Caleb, I stated that we had “played pretend with just enough crunch to make it a specific game”. I eventually followed it up with mentioning that “That’s all Tabletop games are right? Playing pretend with varying degrees of crunch”. Now, I’m not even the 100th person to say this, it is no special revelation, but there is something special about the Tabletop RPG Dreamchaser that call to mind the “let’s play pretend” aspect of these games more than anything I’ve played in recent memory.

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Dreamchaser is a Tabletop RPG that eschews a specific setting, concrete character classes, or even character abilities. The game outs the onus on the players and the GM to craft these things solely through their own imaginations. Players are encouraged to dream up simple scenarios they might have always wanted to do in an RPG that, for whatever reason, systems in the past haven’t been conducive to. Keeping things within simple phrases, maybe they’ve always wanted to “Climb the (mountain, world tree, tallest building)”, or defeat the (dragon, BBEG, evil god)” you get the idea…maybe even they simply want to “Make the perfect sandwich”, though that is not nearly as simple as it seems from what we found out! This then becomes how your story ends, and getting there requires some milestones and your own imagination.

Obviously it’s is an open system, and one that puts no small amount of pressure on the players to help with crafting the game the group plays. I have not always been a fan of this personally. Many players love it and you’d think I would as well given my background in Improv Theatre and general love of both playing and running games. Frankly though, when I play I like to react to my environment, and effect change to the narrative in that fashion, more than I like to be the impetus of everything going on around me. If I wanted to control the narrative, I’d simply run the game. For example, when I played G.I. Joe Wushu almost a year ago on the RPG Academy Podcast I had fun but the constant need for me to explain the details around me was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t think I’d like playing another game where the I had to be a driving force for so much of the plot itself, but I was wrong.

 

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Where Dreamchaser succeeds is how it handles these player driven narratives in a more collaborative fashion. Sure there are aspects of the game that only you can come up with (mostly character details), but even from the onset when people are adding their “dreams” to the pile of potential picks they get to play off each other’s choices and come together with the ultimate end game scheme. Throughout the game there are numerous times where everyone works together to drive the story along, but it is almost always collaborative. Every now and then, in a heated situation, a player will have to strike out on their own and relay the scene to everyone else but by then the player has developed skills and abilities that can be easily used to narrate the sequence. Add in a simple rolling system, 2d10’s where you are attempting to roll beneath whatever target number is being dictated by your skill and style of approach to the confrontation, and you have just enough crunch to ground the game into a pretty smooth flow.

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I think Pete has something special here. Granted if you’re a crunch lover who genuinely likes the rigidity of systems requiring tactical moves, group balancing, etc. you’ll not find as much of that here, and that’s ok. However, if you want to play a game that leans toward a player driven story-line with a strong enough mechanic backing it to allow for surprises and interesting challenges, you’ll find it here. Plus, the fact that Imagining Games found a way to incorporate starting from the end to truly make the game about the journey adds a remarkably satisfying gameplay element to it. For a game so new, it feels polished.

In my opinion, this game is a no brainer. Buy it, love it. Adore the amazing artwork! Here are my suggestions for levels to back at.

I personally backed this Kickstarter (something I don’t always do, even if I adore the product). I loved the game and I trust Pete to deliver. However, I don’t have a lot of capital so I backed at my reccomended “poor guy” level “Electric Dreams”.

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As you can see, it gets you everything you need to play the game. It just doesn’t provide that satisfying tangibility of a physical book.

If a physical copy, but don’t want to raise your cost much maybe the softcover version is more your speed at prices in the $24-$30 ranges. In my opinion though, if I had the money I’d hit up the “Pretend Box

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For a level that’s pretty much the “get it all” level, $65 is a pretty great price point.

So head on over to the Kickstarter folks! Let me know your thoughts below and, by all means, if you have any questions about the game you feel I didn’t address ask away. Having had the unique pleasure of playing I can likely give you an answer or I can always punt to Pete who I’m sure will answer quickly. Take care dreamers!

-Melv

Meatfist’s Painting Panel – Featuring Madrak 3

Today we have a very special treat. “Meatfist” Mike, most famous for the pictures of his work in my Warmachine\Hordes Gallery, has taken pains to document the painting of his latest project, one of the newest additions to the Trollbloods Hordes line, Madrak, Great Cheiftan (a.k.a. Madrak 3). I’ll not spend too much time setting the post up though, let’s jump straight into the meat…of the article (I’m not sorry for that). Enjoy!

Hey everyone, I’m getting ready to paint another Hordes model from Privateer Press. This time, instead of just posting the final results, I am going to do things a little differently. I have decided to make a series of posts detailing the process as I paint Madrak, Great Chieftain (Madrak 3)!


Put him together,

After assessing all the pieces, I make sure they are all present. For a smaller model like this one it’s typically as easy as laying them all out (pictured above). Once I feel I’m not missing anything I’ll use a super glue to bond the pieces together. Personally I prefer to use Gorilla Glue brand super glue.


Begin with a layer of Primer,

Most of the time I use black primer, specifically Formula P3, on my Hordes minis.

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I use black for my Hordes minis because I don’t want their colors as bright as my Warmachine unit (Khador). Plus, if I miss some deep recessed parts while painting they missed portions are less visible. If you do want a brighter pop to your miniatures a white primer is a must.


Let the painting begin

I start out slow, and then pick up steam (no apologies for the Warmachine joke).

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I painted the rock and stone part of the shield Ironhull Grey. The inside of his mouth and eyes are Skorne Red. I used Necrotite Green on the runes on his shield and gauntlet to get a bright, “glowy” effect. Hopefully I can navigate around the smaller runes well enough to preserve them on later steps.


For the next part I made the leather parts of his boots and pants Bootstrap Leather, his teeth ‘Jack Bone, and his skin Trollblood Highlight since Madrak is an albino.

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The part that was difficult was his face behind the shield. The challenge in these situations is to figure out the correct angle to approach with the brush.\


This next part I focused on Madrak’s lower body. I used more Ironhull Grey for the rune stones that hang from his armor. I used Iosan Green on his Quitari Cloth, painting a Tartan Pattern free hand is beyond my abilities. For the metal parts I break my brand loyalty and use Citadel paints. I use Runefang Steel and Sycorax Bronze.


Didn’t paint a whole lot this time. Just hit the bits of leather padding poking out of his armor, and finished up his Quitari Cloth. Most trollkin wear their Quitari like a sash, but Madrak always seems to like to wrap himself up in it.

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Added a couple more colors, Rucksack Tan for the scroll and Beast Hide for the leather straps.

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Lots done here, even if it was mostly intricate parts. I finished up the scrolls and painted his quiver. I started on the right gauntlet. I needed to leave the spears in the quiver for last since I tend to hold the model there. If you look closely you will notice that some of the primer has worn away as a result.


Painted Madrak’s right gauntlet and spear. Managed to preserve the runes.

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Next step will be his shield. Painting the inside of a shield is a pain, so that’s where I will start.


Finished Madrak’s shield and quivered spears.

With this the base paint job is done other than some small touch ups.


Time for the home stretch

It’s not a great picture but I finally finished my touch-ups and applied a wash. I once again dipped into the Citadel paint line and used a brown wash called Agrax Earthshade. It makes some of the small details “pop” and makes the model appear somewhat dirtied.

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If you’re ever in need of a wash but haven’t actually purchased one simply choose the color you’d like and thin it with water. This will create a very thin colored water that allows the color to seep into nooks and crannies. There are tons of opinions on what makes a good wash out there. Find one that makes sense to you!


Just painting the base in this last step to make the front and back halves easy to identify. Made the front Trollblood Base and the back Thamar Black. I made the little template under the base in the picture, to help with facing, using the witchcraft known as “math“.

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Finishing the base means Madrak is officially painted, thanks for following along with me! I put a layer of watered down glue and sprinkled on some fine ballast, the kind of stuff that would be used on a model train set. Then, I put down some more glue and add some meadow blend flock.

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I hope you enjoyed my step by step painting guide, and the final outcome for that matter. I also hope you learned a thing or two. If you feel you have a better appraoch to one or more of the steps I’d love to hear from you. Just hit me up below. Now, nothing left to do but move on to the next model, after a bit of a break of course. See you next time!

-Meatfist

The 2017 Geekery New Year’s Address!

Welcome 2017! Also, welcome back to the Geekery. I’ve been absent for quite some time, I know, but I feel refreshed and ready to bring you all the gaming news, reviews, and tidbits from my day to day gaming you desire. There are plenty of things in the pipe for this year for potential changes to the site, I’ll get to those in a moment.

GIFTS!

I hope all my fellow gamers, who celebrate the holidays with gift giving, received gifts as cool as what I received. I figured I’d do a little bragging about these right up front, this is my blog and all.

Dungeonology

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This book is an interesting little bird (big thanks to my awesome sis in law for getting it for me!). Obviously it’s more for beginners or collectors of cool D&D books than for the use of a seasoned Dungeon Master, but it has some really cool features on the inside that bring me back to the days when the concepts of D&D were shiny and new. I’ll be giving this book a more thorough run down in a later post but it’s certainly a fun book to own. A great way to introduce new players to the concepts and challenges of a good dungeon delve.

Board Games!

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Sarah and I love them, and you can never have too many. This year we received two and an expansion to one. Sarah made out huge in the board game arena, Machi Koro is one of her all time favs and as much as we both love Smash Up she typically has the edge on me so our good buddy Jake got her the Pretty Pretty Expansion. We also received Forbidden Island, which if you’ve never tried it it’s a great game for introducing others to the newer generation of games, especially because it’s cooperative.

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Chessex Gaming Mat!

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Thanks go to Uncle Grumps for this bad boy. My old mat was tiny, and stained to Hell. We’ve been using a dry erase board for a while now. Awesome to have this now.

Dice and Dice Bags

So my sister in law and my mother in law teamed up here. My mother in law is an enormously talented crafter, who actually has a crafting business now that she has retired. Well, she took some time to make me a bunch of dice bags and then they got me a Big Bag of Dice so I can put together some dice bags to hand out to the kids in my Library games who don’t have dice yet! Giving me the ability to gift to others makes this probably one of the best gifts I received this year.

Cool Notebook

I saw this cool little journal in a hole in the wall bookstore that Sarah and I love to visit near our church. I mentioned offhandedly that someone could use such a thing to keep notes on gaming campaigns, and look nerdily cool whilst doing so. She bought the thing right under my nose. I tried to take a pic of the note she wrote me but It’s hard to get it in focus. It reads:

Kevin,

With love and admiration, I give you this journel to keep your adventures, creativity, and words of a world full of wonder! Best wishes on all your journeys beyond our realms.

Love,

Your wife Sarah

I’m a lucky guy ♥.

Secret Gift

There’s one gift I’m not going to picture just yet but will at a later date. Suffice it to say it’s my favorite and I hope to premier it at Gen Con 50. May have tipped you off with that last sentence though ;P.

IN GAMING NEWS

I haven’t spent much time talking about it but I’ve been running a game of Storm King’s Thunder for my group. It’s been a pretty fun experience so far, even if we have been plagued by the inability to truly string together consistent play time (people have lives apparently 😛). Despite our issues getting together we’ve moved along at a decent clip, just now beginning the gargantuan chapter three. It’ll be a challenging portion of the game, for a pre-made, there’s a lot of information for the would-be Dungeon Master to digest and organize for the players but, it’ll also be the most sandbox portion of the adventure and my players will certainly dig that. After all, it took a lot of convincing to get them to take a ride in Zephryos’ Tower (and after they were aboard they mentioned if they’d know about the wizard hat that crowned the thing they would have flat out refused on principle lol).

A couple of cool things about this campaign in general is that one of my players, Nick (you may know him as Uncle Grumps from his previous contribution efforts), is running a descendant from a game we played together back in our High School days. In fact the way I got their party to board Zephryos’ flying tower was by having my old character (still alive because..elf) be already aboard and waiting to meet the grandson of Rizzen the Great. Another cool aspect of the game is the return of an old friend to our gaming group who’s been out of state for a long time as he is in the Navy. Somehow he landed a recruitment position here in Missouri and we are all very thankful to have him back with us.

I continue to run my once a month game at the local library for teens interested in learning about D&D and I’m happy to say that, despite the fact I still run the game for about 10-15 kids at a time, the legacy players are getting really adept at the game and are very capable of assisting newcomers. There were a number of times in the recent past I couldn’t make it to a session and they had no issue picking up the slack and running a game themselves. I’m now entering my third year of doing this and I’m happy to report that I’m probably not even necessary at this point. Still, I love going and the kids are enjoying my run through of Hoard of the Dragon Queen so I’ll keep at it! Now that I have some extra Dice Bags to hand out I can’t wait to see the kids again.

COMING SOON IN 2017

There are so many cool things coming this year that I’ll likely forget a bunch while putting them to print here. I’ll give it a go though.

CONS

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Right off the bat I feel I need to mention Geekway to the West 2017. The 13th Annual Geekway to the West is set for May 18-21, 2017 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri. If you love Board Games I can’t name a better convention to attend. They’ve only got a little over 400 badges remaining though, and considering badges went on sale on January 2nd they will sell out, and fast. For $60 you can attend the con all four days, you receive a random free board game (a quality one at that, twice now the game I received had a Market Price that matched my badge fee), and so much more. Seriously check out the site, make the trip and visit me in Missouri.

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Gen Con 50 folks. I fully intend to be there this year and, with a  little pressure and luck, I might bring a few buddies with me this time (buddies beyond what twitter and the blog have helped me garner that is).

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Really, Acadecon is one of the best little big cons out there. I truly wish I’d of been able to make it to Acadecon 2016, but I wasn’t going to miss the wedding of a good friend. Two of my best friends are getting married to some awesome gals in the fall of 2017, one wedding is in late October and then the other takes place the week after Acadecon 2017 so chances might be thin I can make it but I’m sure going to try! I love the good folks of the RPG Academy Network and the other attendees of this Con are fantastic as well. Here’s hoping!

GAMERSTABLE PODCAST COMING TO A CLOSE

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After years of podcasting, and 300 episodes, the Gamerstable Podcast is ending its run. Back when I first started really getting into the world of folks gabbing about tabletop RPGs on social media it seemed crazy to me that regular folks were coming together and podcasting about this game I love so much. First it was the Monkey in the Cage podcast who really welcomed me into the fold (I will always have a special place in my heart for Matt, Robert, Karen, and Ramses) but soon to follow was a crazy group of gamers who I was surprised to find lived just across the river in Illinois. Matt Fuller introduced me to them, and they didn’t have to give me the time of day. Instead they became close friends.

The Gamerstable Podcast has put forth some of the coolest content over its run. Frankly I find their style of taking actual play content and editing it to sound like a radio drama to be the best in the business. That’s beyond the discussion roundtable style they cut their teeth on though, and you can find a ton of great gaming advice throughout their many episodes. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed their bite sized chunks (most eps. are about 30 mins in length). Feel free to catch their last episode here, and when you’re done check the rest of the site.

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I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that this won’t be the complete disappearance of what I call the “Gamerstable Crew”. Eric Austley, the initiator and leader for Gamerstable, is going to pour more of his energy into his newest project that builds on the success of the Actual Plays put out by Gamerstable. Openly Gamer Theater currently houses a ton of great content and will more than likely feature many of the voices you heard over the years on Gamerstable too! Also, OGT is a yet another proud member of the RPG Academy Network, so you know it’s quality.

STUFF FOR MY SITE

So I need to pull this article to a close and nothing fits better than detailing a few things about the site!

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In late 2016 Privateer Press increased its level of involvement with my site for review of their materials and this means I will hopefully have even more Warmachine\Hordes models and products to review going into 2017. To help with this Nick, a.k.a. Uncle Grumps, has made mention of the desire to continue writing pieces on various items associated with WarmaHordes, and hopes to even run something big for our group of players. Also, if you’ve paid attention to the photo gallery on my Warmachine\Hordes page on the site you will have likely seen some of Mike “The Meatfist” Bortz’s excellent work painting his miniatures. Not only will he continue to send me photos of his art but he has promised me a step by step painting guide of one of the newer models to come out for the Trollbloods hordes unit, Madrak, Great Chieftain (Madrak 3). I hope to unveil this soon! Lastly, Topher has been talking about throwing a post or two on here about board games, an excellent candidate for such a thing. I hope he can get around to it (he is getting married this year, me might be somewhat busy).

Here’s to some great gaming in 2017! If you feel I missed some news, hit me up in the Comments. What are you excited about this year?

-Melvs

Fresh To War: Uboxing the Warmachine & Hordes New Releases for November 2016

*Hey everyone, I’m pleased to announce the debut article from a good friend of mine, Nick, a.k.a. Uncle Grumps. The guy simply knows more than I do about Warmachine/Hordes. He’s the guy who introduced me and he’s a driving force for why I still play. I think I even beat him once. So whether he’s Krushing you with Khador, Mincing you with Mercs or Minions, PLASTERING you with Protectorate of Meno… you know what… just please enjoy his article. – Melv

What’s up, Jerks? This is Uncle Grumps and I’m here to talk about Warmachine/Hordes.

First of all, an introduction is in order.  I’ve known Melvin since grade school, and yes, I do have an endless amount of embarrassing stories I could divulge.  I started playing Warmachine/Hordes in 2009 and immediately fell in love.  My main factions are Khador, Mercenaries, and Minions.  I also have a small smattering of Protectorate of Menoth and Cryx.  I would consider myself to be a casual player, although I have played in my fair share of local tournaments.  Since I’m a bit more knowledgeable about WarmaHordes than Melvin, I’ve agreed to help him out with a series of articles to showcase the game.  In other words, I’ve hijacked Mel’s website and he’s not getting it back.

Today, I want to take a quick look at two recently released solos.  First up is Major Harrison Gibbs, a mercenary model that works only for Cygnar and is a Partisan for that faction.  From Privateer Press’ website:

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Available as of 11/09/2016

MP $14.99

 “A natural survivor and ruthless pragmatist, the man known as Gibbs is as capable on the battlefield as any professional soldier. As a cook in a Cygnaran trencher company, Gibbs was stranded behind enemy lines and was forced to adapt to survive.  Wearing the uniform of a dead officer, he introduced himself not as a cook but as Trencher Major Harrison Gibbs and has become a vital member of the Llaelese Resistance.”

Quite a backstory, eh?  Major Gibbs’ model is full of small, characterful details that reflect this background, such as the frying pan and spatula tied to his pack or the holes worn in his scavenged overcoat.

A glance at the front of Gibbs’ card reveals a stat line that is thoroughly average.  His speed, MAT, RAT, defense, armor, and command are all middle of the road.  Gibbs wields a standard military rifle with one notable exception.  When you make an attack with his rifle you can choose one of two attack types: a standard rifle shot or an AOE 3 POW 10 grenade shot.  Gibbs is also packing a club with middling range and damage but crit brutal damage for a bit of extra oomph.  Top it off with Assault and Tough, and you have a solo that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

The back of Gibbs’ card contains a plethora of useful abilities.  Dodge allows him to advance 2” after an enemy attack misses him.  Feign Death means he cannot be targeted by ranged or magic attacks while he is knocked down.  Gibbs also has Reposition (3”) which allows him to advance 3” after an activation in which he did not run or charge.  His Leadership (Llaelese) ability grants Feign Death and Reposition (3”) to any Llaelese warrior models in Gibbs’ command range.  For now, the only models with the Llaelese keyword are Ashlynn d’Elyse, Anastasia di Bray, Gastone Cross, Groman Di Wulfe, Ragman, Sgt Nicolas Verendrye, the Thorn Gun Mages and Gibbs himself.  However this is likely to change once Privateer releases a Highborn Covenant-style Llaelese theme force.  Last, but certainly not least, is the Hot Meal ability.  This ability allows Gibbs fully heal all friendly, living, Faction, warrior models in his command range once per game.  Yes, this includes your Warcaster.

Major Gibbs is an interesting collection of survival and buffing abilities.  His synergy with Ashlynn is obvious.  Giving the speedy Warcaster Feign Death, Reposition (3”) and the option to fully heal once per game is huge.  He can also grant these abilities to key Llaelese support solos like Gorman or Ragman.  As great as his buffing potential is, you shouldn’t discount his combat prowess.  His ability to throw out 3” POW 10 AOE’s and then Reposition out of harms way can be devastating to clumped groups of warrior models.  As of right now, Gibbs has more to offer a Mercenary army than a Cygnaran force, but I foresee that changing in the future.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Privateer released a Cygnaran Trencher theme force that features Gibbs.

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A placeholder as Grumps paints

 

The other solo we’ll be taking a look at today is the Blighted Nyss Warlord from the Legion of Everblight.  From Privateer Press’ website:

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Available as of 11/09/2016

MP $14.99

“The warlords of Everblight’s Legion enter combat armed with the double-bladed claymore – a weapon requiring remarkable dexterity and coordination to wield. With it, a blighted Nyss warlord scythes through enemy ranks, severing heads and limbs alike with blinding strikes.”

The Warlord is a melee combat monster.  His stat line is average for a solo except for his low RAT and exceptional MAT.  His double claymore boasts the same range and damage as the swords of the Blighted Nyss Swordsmen along with the Weapon Master ability.  The back of the card is where things really start to get interesting.  The Warlord’s first listed ability is Blade Shield which gives him +2 DEF against ranged attacks.  This provides a slight increase in survivability but a concentrated effort can still take them down at range.  Next up is Cleave which grants the Warlord one additional attack if he destroys an enemy model with a melee attack.  When this is combined with Overtake, which lets the Warlord advance 1” after destroying an enemy model, it gives the Warlord to strike multiple targets at unexpected angles.  The Warlord also has Precision Strike which allows his controller to choose the column or branch damaged when attacking warjacks or warbeasts.  He also grants Blighted Nyss Swordsmen in his command range Precision Strike thanks to his Leadership ability.  Finally, the Warlord’s double claymore has the Decapitation ability.  This doubles any damage that exceeds the ARM of the target.  All of this combines to make the Blighted Nyss Warlord a veritable killing machine.

You’d hard pressed to find a Legion army that couldn’t benefit from a Warlord or two.  Thagrosh, the Messiah can empower Warlords to hit harder and more accurately with Manifest Destiny.  The extra attack and placement from Rhyas, Sigil of Everblight’s feat can help a Warlord to get even more out of Overtake.  You may find it challenging to deliver the Warlord into melee, especially after your opponent sees the havoc it can wreak on his or her models.  A Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew can help ensure the Warlord arrives intact and ready to rock.

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A placeholder as Grumps paints.

 

That’s all I’ve got for today.  I’m moving Gibbs and the Warlord to the front of my painting queue.  Hopefully I’ll have some photos to share soon.  Feel free to post any comments or questions you may have.  Complaints can go straight to Melvin.  ‘Til next time, folks!

– Uncle Grumps

Gaming in Gothic Horror

Gothic Fiction

Obviously this topic is on my mind of late, as my upcoming Ravenloft game lurks ever present in the back of my mind. A horror is tough to run at a table, let alone going further down the niche of Gothic style horror. So what sets this style of play apart from your regular gaming campaign? What kind of work behind the scenes and on game night must you do to correctly set the tone? Well, here’s hoping some of the ideas I have for my upcoming Ravenloft run might assist you.

UNDERSTANDING GOTHIC HORROR

I think the first step for something like this is to understand just what Gothic horror represents as a genre. While all your regular horror tropes may appear in this subgenre, your slashers, beasts, death, and despair, a truly Gothic setting must also up the ante on pure tragedy. It’s villains are best when served up as either heroes gone bad or someone who gave into their craven desires and then strive for said desires, never to be sated. Ravenloft is filled to brim with horrifying figures of tragic circumstances. Strahd von Zarovich is the prime example, namely because so few do not know his legacy, he forever seeks someone to fill the place of his one true love whom he will never again be with. His jealousy and rage caused his downfall and he became the horror he is to this date.

I think one of the best things in the Curse of Strahd Adventure Path was the fact that the vampire lord was not idle, true villains of Gothic horror rarely are. They are not eveil lords content to sit back in their strongholds awaiting the PC’s to storm the gates after conquering their minions. In a Gothic setting if you draw the eye of the monster you seek, you will become wrapped in their games.

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Gothics are often referred to as Romances, and with good reason. Even if there is not the physical love between two or more people it is all about “romantic” ideals. Look to the typical hero of a Gothic tale. Victor Frankenstein can hardly be called a hero but his romantic notion to bring the dead back to life created his own horror on Earth. The best of heroes in a Gothic setting are typically less capable than you would see in other genres. The hero of Dracula was Professor Van Helsing, not the crossbow wielding adventurous guy you may have seen in other depictions, but instead an older gentleman with his own set of flaws. He doesn’t discern the true nature of the issue until it is too late for one life and he is not capable of saving all in his care as he drives them to track Dracula back to Transylvania. Heroes in these stories are rare, they are also often flawed.

Essentially the truly Gothic tale will be one where the heroes clutch and claw about, looking for the cause of the dismay and confusion that surrounds them, only to eventually have all the clues snap into place. The best realization of the horror that surrounds them then should be a simultaneous feeling of dread and despair, sometimes even for the monster they seek.

HOW TO BRING THAT TO THE TABLE

To give a Gothic game that truly dreamlike grandness it deserves can be hard, both the players and the GM often need to be invested in the story. This isn’t the type of game that lends itself to a “battle a week” format very well. There needs to be a leadup to that point, and it can often work best when the fight isn’t even entirely fair. Though I will say I have no intention of going full on Lovecraftian on them, if I wanted them to have no chance I’d just run a Call of Cthulhu based game.

I know I’m already urging my players to have connections to one another but I think I’m going to go one step further and have them, for whatever reasons their characters have, residents of the same small village. In this move I plan to start their troubles somewhat small, get them involved on a personal basis early on. Their characters will know, and presumably care, for every member in the village. I can’t go too much further into this though because some of my players actually read this stuff.

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Potential game night location

For some of the ambiance, I plan to incorporate music and sound into my game as much as possible, utilizing Battlebards as I’ve mentioned many times over the last few articles. Hopefully I can even dim the lights or something but I have learned that D&D by candlelight doesn’t work well, people just can’t see a damn thing. I’ll ask that phones be placed away from the table, I can’t stand people on their phones while I’m running a game.

In game I’ll be pulling creatures from the Children of the Mists supplement I described in my previous article a lot. Ravenloft can be a place of straightforward dangers like banditry and such, but I want my enemies to have dark purpose and I hope to convey it.

IN CONCLUSION

There are a ton of things I could throw onto this page about my plans but it might ruin some of what’s to come. I hope the guys go for it, I’m pretty excited. Stay tuned to the site because I’ll probably work up a few post game write ups, or at least let you know some of the things that have worked\not worked for me. If you have advice for a burgeoning Gothic Horror GM, let me know in the comments! I don’t profess to be an expert yet, this is my first run at it.

-Melvs

Gen Con 2016

Just like that the thunderous rolling of thousands of dice has finally ceased as the 49th Gen Con has come to a close. Once again I had the privilege of attending, and once again I more than enjoyed myself as I dabbled in old traditions and fresh wonders. Every year has its reasons to be memorable, and maybe it’s simply because I am fresh from attending but this one feels like it may go down as one of the best ever, well… for me at least. I’ll try to unpack everything as best I can but to be honest, with so much having occurred, I’m certain to leave a few things out.

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WEDNESDAY

Once again I had the pleasure of hooking up with the gang from the Gamerstable Podcast (whom I understand will be ending their podcast run in roughly 20 episodes WHAT!?) for some shared driving, room, and board. After a lengthy goodbye to my wife and two lovely kids (I missed them terribly all con), I made the trek to Illinois for the carpool. We left mid-morning and made Indianapolis in good time and the first thing we noticed was dear sweet Drowzee was Indy a hotbed for Pokestops and ‘mons! After a quick check in at the Sheraton we were off to The Ram!

The Ram has become the go to watering hole for the yearly Gamerstable meetup, and historically I’ve always had something else to do that night. This year I was free and clear to join the festivities though and I’m certainly glad to have done so. Getting the chance to catch up with the guys and gals of Gamerstable was a highlight for me the entire convention. I live within and hour or two of most of them but typically during the year life gets in the way of spending all that much together. I spent the night meeting up with old friends and made a number of new ones. Highlights include having the entire Of Dreams and Magic (ODAM) team come by to pay a visit, meeting Pete Petrusha in person finally, and Toju…TOJU my awesome buddy, and fellow Vagabond Gamer, from Australia that I finally met in person as well!

The Ram was highlighting the new EATdition from Privateer Press this year! ;P

The Ram was highlighting the new EATdition from Privateer Press this year! ;P

The Ram was an awesome hangout spot but that was the only place I needed to stop by Wednesday night. So I took a leisurely walk down to the Union Station Ballroom to catch up with Michael Ross from The RPG Academy. It felt like I was walking into a pocket plane wherein AcadeCon lay within Gen Con. I happened to walk into numerous games already in progress and, not seeing an opening anytime soon, I made due with some brief “nice to see-yas” and made my way back to The Ram to finish the night. I had kind of ditched the ODAM team anyway, so I wanted to get back and resume chatting with them, and others.

The night ended with a glance at the Will Call line and a hearty “Hell no I ain’t standing in that!”. I made my way back to the hotel and collapsed, ready to awaken in like 4-5 more hours to jump in the Press line!

THURSDAY

Thursday morning came real early for me. I woke at 5 a.m. and quietly stole from my hotel room into the dark morning. This year someone made the decision to limit press access to the con floor to just the first 90 press badge holders to jump in line that morning at the press room and I wanted that early access. As I was walking to the line I noticed there was an absence of a line for Will Call so I walked up and got my tickets in less than five mins (looks like skipping it the night before was the right call). I was fortunate to get in line as the number 29th line guy and Michael Ross was number 27! He willingly slid back a spot in line so we could chat about our excitement for the convention. The press line is always a fun time, I get to see a lot of familiar faces. Later on a few other buddies showed up further down the line so Michael and I had some fun tweeting back and forth with Rohit from Gamersplane and Bryce. Bryce made a crack about my beardless face & it hurt me deeply.

Press Badge in hand I realized I left my camera back at the room (I’m really good at this “reporting thing”) so I hoofed it back to the hotel. The trip back and forth from the hotel clocked in at .6 of a mile one way. Perfect distance in my opinion, just far enough away to dissuade me from spending too much time there but close enough for a walk.

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The early access line(s)

After grabbing my camera I made it back to the early access line just in time to discover the snafu that had occurred regarding it. Two lines had formed, I had no way of discerning which was the “true line” so I made the call to just sit near a wall outlet and charge my phone figuring I’d get in early no matter what line I was in. This marks the only time at the convention I ever noticed people actually seeming frustrated enough to cast aspersions on others. I totally got it too, see most of the early access folks were VIG’s (Very Important Gamers), they had paid good money for the privilege of early access and they wanted to ensure they got to the booths they were interested in in order to buy the games they feared were limited. So this two line business meant that effectively many were cutting in front of others. I wanted no part in that, had no interest in buying things right away anyhow.

As and aside, and I’ve struggled with whether or not to even bring this up, I feel Gen Con has an issue with the various access levels that they give Press. Now, being a member of the press pool at Gen Con it may seem like I’m complaining from a bit of a “first world standing” but hear me out. Right now the best access the press has to those on the exhibit room floor is the one hour early access on day one of the Con. We are given the same one hour that the VIG’s and various other specialty groups are given, and this year only 90 of us were even given that. The VIG’s are there to shop, they are going to storm the doors and fill up lines and time with the biggest names out there the second they get through those doors. While I have no qualms talking with some of the smaller groups out there, this is an impediment to our ability to catch some of the bigger fish ad hoc. We are certainly capable of setting up our own interview times, mine you, but it just feels like we should have a bit more access. In my opinion Press should be allowed in an hour early or an hour later on some other day. Give the VIG’s their initial day and let press have a day all their own. Maybe even one hour early on Sunday. Right now, other than the novelty (though I really love and appreciate that novelty!), there isn’t a lot of reason for press to be in there with the horde of VIG’s.

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So lovely

Moving on. That first hour on the floor was nice, if not particularly useful. I got to take in the sights without the crush of people you usually run into. I also noticed immediately that the fine folks of Gen Con made huge efforts to lower the crowds with a large increase in exhibit hall space! Later on in the con weekend I noticed the extra space made for a much more open exhibit floor.  I did get to speak with the creators of one particularly interesting game I’d never seen before. Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok has actually been around in some way since 1993 but it’s most current edition originates in 2005 and now has a second edition that came out in 2012. The books are gorgeous and the mechanics rely on the pulling of runes rather than die rolls, this style is called the “Runic Game System” or RGS. Looks like they were there repping their new book FotN:Ragnarok: Denizens of the North on top of their older, core books. Man these books looked very cool and I wish I’d been able to lay down cash right then and there!

The early access hour evaporated very quickly and after watching the hordes descend onto the con floor I grabbed some lunch, headed back to the hotel to chill for a bit, and then grabbed my Orc Stomp 5k packet! I’m always excited about the 5k, despite some thinking I’m nuts for even doing it. It’s fun just chatting with others getting ready for it too, so packet pickup is a nice easy going experience. After that I hit the exhibit hall floor for just a little longer and then it was back to the hotel yet again to get myself all dressed up for the annual Gamerstable Award Dinner at St. Elmos Steakhouse.

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Eric presenting Monte Cook the coveted Gamerstable Award

This year’s award recipient was Monte Cook, and his plus one was none other than Shanna Germain. I am consistently impressed by the ability Eric Austley has to draw in big names for this award, his recipients all deserve the accolades too. Monte and Shanna were excellent dinner table companions, despite the fact Monte convinced Shanna and I to try a Sichuan Button.  Don’t get me wrong, I like trying new things but… let’s just say it was not for me, not big into “electrocuting” my tongue. There were numerous folks I enjoyed chatting with in attendance as well. I got to meet Chris Hussey, in fact I sat next to him having a pleasurable conversation for about an hour before I finally realized who he was! I was able to catch up with my buddy Scott, The Angry GM. Running back into Michael Ross & Pete Petrusha was great too. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this was the prime spot to run into Eric (and of course most of the Gamerstable crew; Shannon, Jayson, Mike, Dan, etc.) who was apparently super busy all con because he disappeared like a ghost after that night!

In the afterglow of the dinner I offered to run a pickup game of Savage Worlds: Sundered Skies for a group of us in attendance and I had a blast doing so. I witnessed a new friend of mine, Jason Butz, roll up one of the biggest exploding die continuations ever. His sorcerer meant to just freeze a railing in order to bust it and the grappling hooks attached to it but ended up freezing the entire side of the ship! They lost the cannons on that side of the airship but the pirates who were after them lost 3/4 of the men attempting to board. It was crazy!

Realizing it was midnight and Shannon and I both had to be up at 5 a.m. to run a 5k we called it a night.

FRIDAY

A mere 4-5 hours after going to sleep I found my eyes creaking open and somehow willed myself from my bed to get out the door and head to the Orc Stomp 5k. The second I was out in the cool morning air I found myself waking up instantly, it was a damn fine morning. As with every other time I walked to and from the hotel I casually had Pokemon Go running to grab stops and the myriad of Pokemon that crawled across the city streets of Indy. Many feel like you can’t truly enjoy your surroundings while playing the game but I find I can easily glance at the game off and on while taking in the sites quite well. not to mention I was made aware of some cool historical markers in Downtown Indy that I would have never paid any mind to before. Somehow I wasn’t even aware the Capitol building was right there near the convention center but, I know now!

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The Orc Stomp 5k was held, once again, along the White River Trail. Honestly this is one of the most gorgeous 5k runs I do every year. I met up with a fellow blogger friend of mine, Rob, who two years ago introduced me to the race by letting me run it under one of the free passes obtained by his sponsorship of the run. It was great catching up with him while we all prepped for the race. We had a few laughs about the last time I ran, where I overslept, drove frantically to the race, and then posted my best 5k time ever (something like 27 mins) just trying to finish the already started race! I enjoyed all the costumes immensely and reminded myself I’d like to dress up one year, I then found out that one of the costumed groups actually had a role in the run itself. The “Raptors” were associated with Exile Game Studio, specifically their game Hallow Earth Expeditions. As you can see in the image they dressed up like Raptors and “chased” us throughout the race. Essentially there were two main raptor types, fast and not as fast. If you beat the faster raptor you’d get a gold ribbon, and if you beat the next fastest you’d get a green ribbon. I loved this concept because I’m never going to win a 5k but I can sure beat at least one of them raptors!

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Waiting for the race to start was pretty fun. We discovered the starting line camped two Pokestops and we made use of them while chatting with fellow racers. I never got the name of the racer wielding the giant mallet, but I learned the next day after speaking with my buddies at Dog Might Games that the mallet was theirs, it was pretty damn heavy, and the guy who held it through the entire race had won the 5k the year before. Needless to say he didn’t win this year but man what an achievement to run 3.1 miles carrying that monstrous thing! Soon, the race was off. I made the mistake of running the thing as if I were actually in shape and earned myself a pulled calf muscle for my hubris. Still, I clocked a time of 33 mins, only three mins longer than my average. I was a blast and I even earned myself a green ribbon! I stuck around for the rest of my buddies finishing the race and then we headed back to the hotel.

I was very fortunate to have plenty of time to shower and ready myself for a very exciting portion of my day, the RPG Academy Network Panel.We had a decent crop of network folks at the con so Michael had decided to set up an open panel. It was a lot of fun, the podcasters fielded the majority of the questions early on because, let’s face it, podcasting is sexy as hell. Later in the session though we started delving into some blog, game mastering, advocacy, and regular old gaming questions that I was more than happy to jump in on. Little pleases me more than chatting with others who hold a reverence for this hobby and I enjoyed every moment of it (finally got to meet @theworstDM in person too!). Not to mention after the panel we got to get a little bit of gaming in as Senda and Emily introduced us to their 5 min RPG concept, and by “introduced” I mean slaughtering us mercilessly one after another…in 5 mins or less! This was recorded so you might later hear our downfalls.

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Left to right: Chris, Lucas, Senda, Michael, Emily, Myself

After lunch I stopped by the press room to debate drinking coffee or going back to the hotel for some sleep. While there I ran into Michael Long from Tribality and had a nice chat, then saw Rob Stith in the hall. By then the general lack of sleep had finally caught up to me and I trudged back to the hotel for a nap. Sadly this meant I ended up sleeping through the Phoenix Dawn Command & Shes’s a Super Geek panels that I wanted to attend but I know I needed it!

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I did make it to one of the panels I scheduled that day though. Privateer Press put on a development panel regarding Warmachine and Hordes. In years past I’ve attended panels by these folks regarding new upcoming products so it was interesting to listen in on one that comes on the heels of the major release of the third edition of the game. Many in the crowd, myself included, were hoping for a reveal of the newest faction that has been teased for some time now but we were left wanting. The majority of the panel consisted of some discussion regarding the way they go about creating a concept and the various channels it then goes through before becoming a retail piece. I could tell the room wanted to know more about upcoming items but frankly they didn’t have a ton to show off. If you recall two years ago, in the Unleashed panel, they had computer issues and luckily were able to use my computer to show off their images and such. Well, they had computer issues again and this time I did not bring my own so i couldn’t save the day. One tease we got for the new faction was that they intend to have them use feats completely differently from the other factions, but this is all still in development.  I asked about the Roleplaying Game (because of course I did) and I learned they want to expand on Piracy some more, which sounds fantastic!

Title

One thing I knew I had to do at Gen Con this year was visit with my friends behind Trapdoor Technologies and the Playbook app. In case you are unaware they have now aligned themselves with Paizo and Pathfinder (their app is even more polished  now than ever before). They were holed away in the Sagamore Ballroom with the rest of the massive Pathfinder realm. The place was truly daunting in size. It was great catching up with Chris and

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The last scheduled event I had for the night was the big one for me, the ENnies. If you are a regular reader you know this but this year I had the esteemed pleasure of actually being nominated for the Best Website category. I was pretty damn certain I wasn’t going to win even the Silver ENnie but I knew I needed to go to the event if only to see my site’s banner flash across the big screen in the front (which I totally neglected to get a photo of… luckily someone else did)! The best part for me was when my site popped up on the screen Kevin Kulp made the comment that my banner was the “Happiest he’d ever seen”, high praise to Wes of Nameless PC’s! Well folks, I didn’t win anything but I am certainly excited that I’ll forever be an ENnie nominated writer. Can’t take that from me eh? I sat there just long enough to see if Michael won Best Podcast for The RPG Academy (sadly he did not), and decided to catch the rest of my group at Giorgio’s Pizza for some excellent deep dish.

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We finished the night with a pick up game of ad-hoc Pathfinder run by Mike Bridges, of Gamerstable fame, where I was so slap happy tired that I ran a rogue modeled loosely after Emperor Norton , the first and last Emperor of these United States. His name was Vernon Lundman, he dressed in the finest of rags, knew everyone, and even minted his own currency known as the “Lundmark”. It was an awesome ending to a crazy day.

SATURDAY

Saturday was much more laid back than the previous two days. I spent most of my time running into friends and chatting a bit. Forgive me if you’re one of those I ran into and you aren’t getting a mention! I really had nothing planned until early afternoon. I ate an awesome Gyro from the Ali Baba’s food truck, which is starting to become a tradition for me. Then I spent some time in the park near the JW Marriott catching Cubones on Pokemon Go until I could evolve to a Marowak, as one does. Soon it was time for me to head to my scheduled game run by none other than Chris Hussman!

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Michael claimed this guy looked like Freddie Mercury

I was joined by Michael Ross and one of his podcast’s faculty members Brad. It ende dup being just the three of us as we weaved our way through a story filled with heartache, high adventure, and good old fashioned “end of days” stopping. I don’t want to go into too much detail, just in case some of you have the chance to ever play in this specific game. I really wouldn’t want to ruin it’s many twists. Suffice it to say it was my favorite game of the con. Michael, Brad, and I played really well off one another and in the end Chris even had some high praise for our roleplay and decisions throughout. I really got into character and loved every moment of it. Reminded me of why I love these games in the first place.

After the game we ran through a playtest of a neat game concept Michael is working on and I went looking for my crew for dinner. At this point, basking in the glow of completing all my scheduled fun I got to be a bit homesick if I’m to be honest. I missed my family a ton but knew I still had some fun times in store.

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Dinner was fun, we sat with the incredible Anna Myers at Champs where she had hung up her massive map of Greyhawk that she had crafted on her own. She is truly a master Cartographer. It was at dinner I where I was convinced to go to the Gencon dance, namely because Toju was going and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with him. It was one Hell of a way to end the day, I’ll tell you that. The Union Station was filled to the brim with scores of us nerds just dancing (and drinking) the night away. Tons of fun, I only wish my wife could have been there, some of the most fun we have together is hitting the dance floor!

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The dance ended and I hit the hotel, instead of going to sleep I sat up with a number of my roommates. Shannon’s boyfriend Brandon and I chatted about how Goku is kind of a jerk among other awesome anime talk. After that it was lights out.

SUNDAY

Hard to believe the con ever really came to a close. I wandered around aimlessly with Shannon, Brandon, and Jason B. for a bit, then tracked down Michael at his Post Con deal where I ran into Dani and John. We sent a little love via snapchat to our buddy Pierce, who should have been at Gen Con running a Ravenloft game for us (had some weak excuse about buying a house). I then headed back to the con floor to debate once more if I’d make my one purchase of a Hirst Arts Mold but decided against it as I figured I’d spent plenty that weekend already. Thus, I made it through all of Gen Con purchasing nothing but food and lodging.

Lastly the gang and I met up with Toju, where we quietly chatted in the back of the exhibit hall until they shut the thing down signaling the end of another great year. After that the car ride home seemed to take forever as I yearned to get back to my family. Man, what a great time though.

Last thought? Sure wish Wizards of the Coast had been there this year…

Feel free to share Gen Con stories in the comments! Also, if you’ve got a hankering for another con, check out AcadeCon (meet me there!)! There are still passes availiable

-Melvs

PICTURES!

So there were a number of things I now realize I forgot to mention, namely because I can’t recall what day they occurred! I’m going to be lazy and simply put the pictures up with some blurbs.

 

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The Porkchop Express was in town for the event

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Some cool cats eh? Left to right The Carpe DM, myself and Rohit from Gamersplane

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Always awesome catching up with author Hans Cummings

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The RPG Academy Podcast pre-con meetup

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Finally worked up the nerve to shake Jolly Blackburn’s hand

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The ODAM team drops by The Ram

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TOJU! We look eerily similar in the face in this picture.

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Toju and Shannon

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More shots of the Gamerstable meetup at The Ram

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One of many fine brews I had the pleasure of sampling

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Dan and Mike strike a cool pose

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Pete and Jayson.

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Shannon and Rob

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Be proud of carrying that thing man!

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THE RAPTORS!

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The Pathfinder room was HUGE

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Got to the ENnies early enough to get a picture of the empty hall

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Had great fun with this crowd all weekend

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I witnessed the CarpeDM win a goblet scoop of dice from these guys

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Dogmight Games always has me salivating over their products

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My actual roll at the Crit for Success booth

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Cardhalla

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Anna Myers’ full map!

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Brandi & Toju

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The dance was most excellent

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Toju & Mike

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Shannon and Babs got to meet Andy Looney!

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Shannon’s Ash Ketchum was great!

COSPLAY PICS

Here are some great cosplay pictures that Shannon’s cousin Brandon was more than happy to pass my way.

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Gen Con Schedule

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If you follow me on any social media you are likely quite aware that I will be in Indianapolis August 3-7 for Gen Con 2016! Just wanted to put out a little schedule of events in case you want to try and catch up with me somewhere, which I fully support you doing.

WEDNESDAY 8-3

Early Afternoon: Arrive in Indianapolis, check into hotel

Rest of the night: I plan to swing between two events.

  • A: Hanging out with the Gamerstable folks at The Ram
  • B: Playing some games with folks over at The RPG Academy Podcast’s Pre-Con Gaming event ZED16102815

 

THURSDAY 8-4

6:00 am (likely earlier): Get in line for my Press Badge and hopefully one of the early access passes to the Exhibition Hall

8:00 am-5:00 pm: At some point grab my Orc Stomp 5k Packet, other than that I’m free!

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Gamerstable Award dinner at St. Elmos Steakhouse. Every year at Gen Con the folks from the Gamerstable Podcast award one or more in the RPG industry for their contributions to the gaming world we love. This year they will be presenting their award to Monte Cook of Monte Cook Games. I look forward to sharing some good times and good food with this industry legend.

7:00 pm – Midnight (and beyond): I’m torn between two events:

  • A Deadlands LARP: I love Savage Worlds, I love Deadlands, and good friends are also set to play the game.
  • VIP Kickoff Party @ the Playbook Mansion: I met the Trapdoor Technologies folks at a press event back in 2014 for their then Project Morningstar…err project. So most of us know Wizards dropped the ball there but another company picked it right back up. Now they are with Paizo and they are kicking off their Pathfinder Gaming app, known as Playbook, in style. It would be really great catching up with them as I count them as good friends as well as interesting tech designers.

FRIDAY 8-5

6:00 am – 8:00 am: Orc Stomp 5k: Oh lord what was I thinking… why can’t I ever just see a run and not sign up for it? The BEST case scenario for the 5k is I choose the LARP the night before so I don’t have a hangover. Though… I will say that a three mile run has often kicked some of my hangovers to the curb. I have many friends running this with me. Shout outs to Shannon, Rob, and anyone else I might be forgetting!

9:00 am – 11:00 am: RPG Academy Network Panel SEM1686145! Join a group of us from the RPGAN, we’ll be fielding questions and generally just chatting with you all about whatever you want to know. Come ask me questions about starting a blog and learn how little I actually know about it!

2:00 pm-3:00 pm: All About Phoenix Dawn Command SEM1689664: I’ve been a Keith Baker fan since Eberron first appeared on the scene. It remains the Campaign Setting I’ve run the most games in. So naturally I’m interested in Phoenix Dawn. I’ll admit, I only know a little about it at this point. Excited to learn more!

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: She’s a Super Geek Panel SEM1689926: My friends, and fellow Network members, over at She’s a Super Geek are having a panel. I urge you to join me there too!

5:00 pm – 12:00 am – The ENnies & more: The ENnies starts at 5:oo pm and runs until at least 10:30 pm. You probably know this but I have been nominated for “Best Website” so even though I always go to this I actually have a vested interest in attending this year! Even if I wasn’t nominated though I have good friends nominated all over the place (even some in my own category) so I’ll have plenty of folks to root for!

SATURDAY 8-6

I literally have nothing scheduled except for a pickup game in the afternoon.

SUNDAY 8-7

Zero scheduled.

 

Overall I’m really looking forward to this year’s Gen Con. I’m very unscheduled so pickup games will be a must I’m sure! Looking forward to seeing a bunch of old and new friends, even a few that I’ve never actually met in person (looking at you Toju)! Hopefully I’ll get some great gaming in, because I know I’m going to get some great face time with buddies.

Take care and good gaming!

-Melvs

 

Pokemon Go

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Melvin Smif’s Geekery is nothing if it isn’t a weird amalgamation of various nerdy interests. So while I typically delve into Tabletop Gaming, I need to speak about my latest passion, Pokemon Go. This little app game has it’s claws in me so deep I can cite more than one late night excursion into the wilds of my suburban neighborhood seeking one of the more elusive Pocket Monsters. It’s a genuine worldwide phenomenon. Its popularity likely surpassing even the expectations of its creators, and we’ve really only seen the beginnings of this game.

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Pokemon Go is the team effort between Nintendo, The Pokemon Company, and Niantic, inc. that utilizes GPS tracking to pinpoint a player’s location within the real world to overlay an Augmented Reality fictional Pokemon universe. Pokemon are randomly placed throughout the world, often even generating based on regional types, water Pokemon tend to be near Lakes, Rivers, Ocean etc. & if you want a Scyther, head to the park. On top of catching these critters players are also encouraged to visit landmarks, derived from data gleaned from Niantic’s previous AR game Ingress, to collect items (from areas deemed “Pokestops”) or battle against other teams (in areas known as “Gyms”).

Augmented Reality can be fun.

Augmented Reality can be fun.

Pokemon Go’s mission seems to be to get people outdoors, visiting landmarks, and interacting with fellow players. There’s even a method for rewarding movement via the inclusion of Pokemon Eggs that react through a pedometer function to log the distance you travel, hatching a Pokemon when that distance is reached. I can say earnestly that, in my experience and via much of what I’ve seen online, this mission has been met, and exceeded! It is safe to say this game has been an overwhelming success.

Central Park in NY City

Central Park in NY City

I’ve had some truly great personal experiences since the game’s launch on July 6th. My wife and I have both been playing , it’s gotten us out the door walking more and our kids love helping us catch the Pokemon around our neighborhood. You can easily enjoy an afternoon stroll paying casual attention to your phone, via glances or awaiting a telltale rumble signifying that something is near. We’ve seen a bevy of others out walking and playing too. It has also been a blast taking on a Gym together!

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At the time of this pic it was lvl 8. Now level 9!

This past weekend my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a good friend’s 30th birthday party in Columbia, Missouri. Amid the usual activities like going to dinner and catching up with friends were sprinkled moments of “Guys! There’s a <insert Pokemon here> outside!” followed by the bulk of the party hitting the neighborhood streets in search of it. Later that night (and by later I mean midnight until 3 am) we drove through the downtown district catching Pocket Monsters and hitting up Pokestops. We also took on a number of gyms throughout the weekend, smartly collaborating early in the game to all choose the same team (Team Instinct baby!). We even crafted a monstrosity of a gym on the outskirts of town, pumping it up to level 9. That gym is still holding strong three days later. Some other great memories from this weekend are.

  • Watching someone from either team Valor or Mystic drive up to our beefy gym, see a carload of Team Instinct players then decide he was never going to do any damage to us and drive off with a wave of defeat.
  • My friend and I sprinting (unnecessarily) to add some extra Pokemon to another yellow gym we came across.
  •  Me yelling “Get that Puff!” to a stranger whom I knew was trying to catch the same Jigglypuff we were after.
  • Hunting down a Nidoqueen!
  • Me threatening to use my phone as a hammer “for all the good it was to me” because it wasn’t loading the game.
  • Driving a car full of happy, grown ass, adults around the same area we use to hit up bars at midnight so they can hit the various Pokestops (I had someone working my phone, I don’t drive and Go)
  • Having yet another shared interest with my wonderful wife 🙂

Honestly there are so many fun things I’m forgetting, I’m certain. It was all just a blur of gaming and friends.

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Now, Pokemon Go is a solid success, but it is far from a perfect specimen of gaming yet. I have plenty of issues with the gameplay and reward system alone but the true monumental task Niantic will need to be dealing with over the next few weeks and system updates will be simply getting the game to run correctly. Server outages are the main complaint people have, followed closely by the game freezing up and generally being difficult to get into. On multiple occasions over the weekend, and before, just getting into the game long enough to enjoy it was a hassle. Often at least one, if not more of our group, was blocked from getting into the game. Gym battles were always tough for me. For some reason I freeze up in those constantly.  The game also comes with a supposed tracking system for nearby Pokemon but it hardly ever works correctly, for a bit I would see one or two footstep Pokemon, but lately it’s always been a three steps away symbol. The game is sadly ripe with glitches and bugs, but honestly much of that is just a company attempting to meet overwhelming demand. It stands to be seen how well they do fixing these issues. For now, I’m content to deal with them.

My wife in Downtown St. Louis

My wife in Downtown St. Louis

Our home town... the wasteland

Our home town… the wasteland

The major issues to fix are bug and server related, obviously, but I’ve also been pondering the game-play itself. They do a lot of things right in the game. There is a pay to play aspect that the casual player, someone just seeking to catch Pokemon, can usually ignore if they wish. Items are plentiful at Pokestops, but you have to have Pokestops near you to make use of them. This isn’t an issue for people in heavily populated areas, or even rural areas with a lot of landmarks, but if you live somewhere very plain vanilla suburban (like me) you have a hidden cost, in gas, to playing the game. You have to drive to find Pokestops or you’re stuck purchasing Pokeballs. My city has a population of nearly 100k and I have only two Pokestops within a mile of me, and the next nearest one after that is easily five miles. Compare that to some towns around us we are a veritable wasteland. I was nearly dizzy with excitement to see the bevy of ‘stops in Columbia this weekend.

The gym system is fantastic fun, but if you aren’t someone who started this game week one, you’re not going to be able to even touch a gym for a long time unless of course you hook up with some buddies as there is incentive to start a gym with easy to defeat Pokemon that you then beat up to raise the prestige. The “Defender Bonus” you receive for owning a gym is paltry and makes capturing gyms more of a pride thing than anything else, the reward is so low that it’s more of a pat on the head than anything else. I also take issue with the fact you don’t get some kind of extra reward for having held a gym for the 20 hour time limit between reward collections. It really seems like they need either lower the time limit between collecting the Defender Bonus or give you more for it. Right now unless you luck into holding multiple gyms, it’s almost not even worth collecting.

One of my bigger complaints lies with the tone of the game. So much of the appeal of Pokemon in the past was about obtaining a Pokemon and then working with that Pokemon to level it up and watch it grow as you modify it’s abilities. In Pokemon Go the Pokemon you start with are quickly eclipsed and you simply cannot utilize the same Pokemon who were your starters later in the game. Hell, you can’t even use the same Poklemon from three levels ago. It’s a completely different style, and frankly a huge grind.

Sarah caught a lot of cool Pokemon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis

Sarah caught a lot of cool Pokemon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis

Other issues aside, battery draining and data soaring issues, Pokemon Go has captured me, my wife and family, and my friends in its talons and shows no chance of releasing us soon. I endeavor to catch them all, and train to be the very best, like…well… you know how this goes. I hope you all give this game a chance, and don’t let the haters get you down. Sure there have been accidents related to people behaving foolishly while playing this game but since when is that new to people in any hobby. If someone calls you silly for playing a “kids game” they are hypocrites and jerks, laugh em off.

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Have fun out there and (as my father always says) be aware of your surroundings! Gotta catch ’em all!

-Melvs

P.S. Fellow Team Instinct Trainers. Meet me at Gen Con! We shall rule the gyms of Indianapolis!

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