Understanding Character Attachment

 

Today we have a real treat. After reading my post regarding his research project, Tyler Beckett has graciously offered to expand upon the subject by offering a point of view from the researcher’s own mind. So please welcome Tyler’s debut on Melvin Smif’s Geekery!

Did you know that playing a taller avatar in a video game can trick you into driving a hard bargain? Did you know that players are more willing to help out women characters in video games, regardless of the gender of the player? That’s not the least bit rational, but it’s true. We are all affected by these tiny decisions that game designers make, and most of us don’t know or notice.

Video game research is well-funded when compared to tabletop research; it’s a bigger industry, and there’s more attention and money. So they get to explore all these connections, get to ask what exactly influences player decisions. For me that means I’m reading research about who plays WoW and why or how Dragon Age lets me sleep with my favorite characters, and I’m wondering how I can apply that to tabletop. Usually that’s enough.

But this time, folks, it is not, and I am here specifically to discover something about tabletop RPGs. Your usual host, Melvin Smif, was kind enough to talk about it in his own post, so if you haven’t already, go there to hear his thoughts. But the gist of this little article is this: I am conducting a research project into our amazing hobby, and I ask for your help.

Do players form strong bonds with their characters? To many of us, the answer may seem obvious. You spend hours playing and healing and leveling your kickass dragonborn fighter; how could you not? But I want to verify that it’s true for our community, and I want to go even further: do we form strong bonds with our characters even when they are dramatically different from us?

I am asking, specifically, about gender and sexuality. Do we become attached to our characters even when they are a different gender, or if they love people we would never love? Are we as attached to those characters as the ones that are more similar to us? Those are big questions, and like the rogue who thinks they probably know which vial is a potion and which is poison, I dislike uncertainty.

So let’s investigate. I have a survey here which will ask basic questions about your attachment and motivations in tabletop RPGs. Or if you’d rather, take this survey about times you’ve played characters with different genders and/or sexualities. Just one per person, please, and that will get us great research.

I started by discussing how subtle game design choices affect players, and I want to bring it back to that, because really that’s why this research is important. If video gamers are more likely to help female avatars than male, should tabletop games use more disguised succubus to trap us? If all video gamers, regardless of gender, frequently heal more when they have women avatars than when they have male avatars, should Wizards of the Coast and Paizo nerf women clerics? Those aren’t serious suggestions, intended more to point out how silly our own unconscious choices can be.

But what if game masters and game designers learn how to adapt to these quirks? What if, through this research, we learn that players can form attachment regardless of character identity, and we learn how that happens? Maybe our games could use these discoveries to enrich our experiences. Maybe they could incorporate the subtle mechanics so that when men play as women or lesbians play as bisexuals the differences help us become more attached, in much the same way we already love characters whose quirks are entirely different from our own.

It’s a big goal, and I don’t know for sure that I’ll pull it off. But I play tabletop, and if I’ve learned anything from those games, it’s how rewarding our adventures are when we take chances.

Tyler Beckett

Survey links:

https://t.co/s59nEApkTH

https://t.co/raNl8FSITG

Playing Against Type

I am a Roleplayer. When I play a tabletop RPG, I invest in my character & their relationships. When I GM a game, my NPCs have at least a thread of a backstory, or at least I’m ready and willing to invent one on the spot. Suffice it to say, I love to invest more time into characters and their drivers than I do the mechanics of the game itself. So when my good friend Tyler Beckett asked me to pass along the word of his research study into how people approach playing their PC’s and NPCs it got me thinking about the type of characters I’ve brought to the table as a player and a GM.

First and foremost I want to introduce Tyler’s research study, namely with the hope you will participate. I very rarely ask my readers to actually do something, basically I’m a “if you dig it, go for it” kind of guy, but this time I’m straight up asking you to take his surveys. Tyler’s research study is titled “The Effect of Gender & Sexuality on Character Attachment in Tabletop Role-Playing Games” and he is interested in how you approach playing RPGs. Whether you relish playing against your current standing in life (for reference I am a White, Heterosexual, Able Bodied, Male), or maybe you tend to adopt a similar character (or NPC) to who you are. Right below this paragraph I’m going to place two survey choices. I want you to answer one of them, if it isn’t too much of a bother. It will really help Tyler out!

Survey One: Have you ever played a Character with a different gender/sexuality? Take this Survey

Survey Two: Have you ever played characters who had the same gender and/or sexuality as you? Take this survey

With that out of the way, I want to talk a little bit about my own experiences.

I’m one of those people who will play the most interesting character (as I see it) for the game. If I encounter a game where the characters are pre-made I’m choosing who interests me the most, they don’t have to match my real life identifiers. I think this hearkens back to my days as an actor, as short lived as they were, I simply adore the improvisational storytelling that can lie at the heart of RPGs. I will say though, I’ve only once chosen to play against type when crafting a character of my own. More on that later.

When my core group and I play an RPG we typically play mostly along the lines of type. Our group is almost of the same sex that we identify with ourselves, and likely the same sexual orientation, if we ever really let that into the game. See, our RPG sessions have almost never allowed even the concept of having sex into the game. We are far more interested in the standard concepts of heroics to be our main drivers. I can’t point to a single gaming session where the love of a PC\NPC played any role in our gameplay. I haven’t even seem it in our casual side play. Keep in mind this is largely unrealistic but in core group’s RPGs we don’t always focus on realism, we focus on the parts that intrigue us as a whole, and a love life practically never figures into that.

As I have progressed as a player and GM, away from my core group, I’ve encountered a few situations where love\lust have been critical to the story. These situations were always really interesting to me, namely because they were a fresh perspective in tabletop gaming. Most notably was the game run by Mr. Hussman at Gen Con 2016. Love was at the center of the game and due to my relative inexperience with the concept “in game” it was wildly refreshing. Even when i had to take the mantle of a character against my real life “type”.

In the end I’d recommend anyone who plays an RPG to try and break the mold a little bit. It really refreshes the entire gameplay. Even if you find yourself more enthralled with mechanics than Roleplay, give it a try.

-Melvs

P.S. Please help Tyler by answering his surveys!

 

 

 

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

*March has not been a friend to me, but I am back in action folks. Hope you all didn’t miss me too much! Though it may be a bit tardy, here are some of the recent offerings from our friends at Privateer Press!

I’m excited about this month’s review items because I have long considered obtaining a Hordes faction and Legion of Everblight happens to be the one I’ve decide to go with. I’ve done plenty of research into how this faction works but, I’ll admit,  I’m also a little nervous approaching this review. We’ll see just how well I have a handle on things as I give you my thoughts on my first two Legion pieces eh?

First up: Fyanna, Torment of Everblight

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Available as of 03/22/2017

MP $17.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

Fyanna, Torment of Everblight is one of Legion’s fiercest forward commanders. She leads small strike forces of blighted Nyss against key targets deep in enemy territory to make way for more substantial Legion forces. Having received the ultimate gift in the form of a shard Everblight’s athanc, Fyanna combines her skill as a formidable assassin with the power of the dragon’s deadly spawn.

Fyanna, Torment of Everblight began life as a combat solo. From everything I’ve read Fyanna1 was a bit overpriced, and pretty much mediocre at best. As a Warlock though, Fyanna2 strikes me as a pretty solid, forward pushing, force to be reckoned with. Looking at her stats alone she stands out as a solid front line fighter. High speed, strength, and Mat mixed with Dodge, Overtake, and a range of 4 inches with her barbed chain makes her very deadly on her own. Fyanna2 isn’t a combat solo anymore though so she comes with plenty of ways to add potency to the beasts, units, and solos that take the field with her.

The Torment of Everblight packs some truly nasty spells, namely Fury and Iron Flesh. Fury is overwhelmingly good for Legion because, as far as I can see, Legion’s Heavy Warbeasts come with low DEF anyway making for the offset of -1 DEF for the additional 3 STR hardly anything to concern yourself with. Not to mention it’s very cheap, at only 2 fury, and it’s an Upkeep. Iron Flesh could serve to pad up the Warbeast or, better yet, beef up an entire unit with its additional +2 ARM and a very helpful immunity to blast damage. I can see a great jamming unit come from this mixture. Her Feat is all about beefing up your units’ inability to get hit, adding +3 DEF and Dodge, for that deep forward push into the enemies’ ranks. Considering she also brings Overtake for herself, and as a Field Marshal, your forces can get very close and personal quickly, and with minimal casualties.2017-03-16 11-35-48.8022017-03-16 11-36-52.429

The only potential shortcoming I can see for Fyanna2 I can see come from the mixture of low Fury and excellent upkeep spells. Also, on a personal note, I had one Hell of a time putting this model together. Tons of small pieces, that require very fine dexterity to glue together. I feel I did a pretty OK job in the end though, with only minimal profanities thrown about. 2017-03-16 14-22-36.6532017-03-16 14-21-56.155

Next up: Azreal, Legion Nephilim Heavy Warbeast

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Available as of 03/22/2017

MP $59.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

A marriage of blighted blood and Nyss flesh, Azrael is the personal warbeast of Kryssa, Conviction of Everblight and manifests the greatest qualities of the nephilim. He possesses a cunning intellect and wields more power than most of his kin. A muscular, serpentine body and full, leathery wings propel Azrael through the sky, and his ash and flame scour the battlefield of all who would oppose the Legion of Everblight.

From what I can see Azrael is a pretty standard Heavy Warebeast stat-wise, and is actually kind of expensive. There is one extremely potent addition to this winged beast though, it’s Thrown Spear attack. This thing really packs a wallop! Azrael’s good SPD and power of flight will get it within its range of 10″ quickly. Azrael has eyeless sight, thus avoiding most concealment from its ranged attack. The Thrown Spear itself has a huge POW of 17 and carries with it the additional benefit of having the “Thrown” rule making it possible to actually beef up the damage from this ranged attack by increasing Azrael’s strength.  To add icing to the cake Thrown Spear also includes a Critical Smite that can push enemies away on a Crit and lastly we add in Reload1 allowing for another throw!

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Azrael comes with a number of other useful tools, a Bond with Warlock Kryssa, the “It Burns!” rule to alight melee attackers with the Fire Continuous effect, and has the Serpentine Rule to protect it from knock down. This beast seems like a potent ally on the field of battle, if you can afford that 21PC that is. It was also a blast to put together!

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Lastly: The Forces of HORDES: Legion of Everblight Command Rulebook

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Available as of 03/22/2017

MP – Softcover $34.99

MP – Hardcover $44.99

These books continue to be solid investments for those who wish to field their armies. Honestly, the details on the Privateer Press page spell the offerings out immensely well.

Hailing from the frozen northern wastes, the Legion of Everblight represents many different races gathered and corrupted by the insidious power of the dragon Everblight. Led by preternaturally potent warlocks, each of whom holds within her breast a shard of the dragon’s own essence, endless ranks of blighted Nyss and ogrun march forth to spread the dragon’s corruption to the farthest reaches of Immoren and beyond. This formidable army is backed by twisted and terrifying dragonspawn born from the very blood of Everblight’s generals and shaped by his own nightmarish imagination.

Forces of HORDES: Legion of Everblight Command provides the foundation you need to unleash the destructive will of the dragon upon your foes with:

  • • Complete rules and profiles for the blighted warlocks and terrible warbeasts of the Legion of Everblight, including two new warlocks and a new character warbeast.
  • • Detailed history and background information, including an in-depth look at Legion warlocks and warbeasts.
  • • A painting guide full of tips and inspiration to help you create an army as individual as you are.
  • • Three new theme forces that allow you to create specialized Legion of Everblight armies with specific benefits.

EMBRACE THE POWER OF A DRAGON!

That’s all for this month folks! Hopefully I generate some steam here and get a few more articles churning out!

-Melvs

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

72102-kaya-the-wildheart

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

I Implore you, Kickstart this Geek: Bedlam Hall

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It twas merely a little over two years past that a small confederacy of role play designers, known under the droll moniker of “Monkeyfun Studios, LLC”, put forth a role playing game entitled Spirit of ’77. This bizarre little game placed an onus on its players of crafting stories one might find from that era of ill repute known colloquially as “the 70’s”. This game premise inevitably succeeded and procured more than enough funding to be a successful enterprise. Thus the myriads began to frolic as odd men and women from popular culture of that time. I even found myself dabbling in a distraction or two, once wearing the mantle of character similar to Colonel Sanders of all people. It twas naught but silliness, though I’d be remiss if I did not make mention that it could be said I rather enjoyed the experience. Let it not be said that I am without a sense of humor.

It appears that Spirit of ’77 will not remain the only production from this company however, as even now a new venture has taken shape. A member of this illustrious group, David Kizzia,  has designed a game entitled Bedlam Hall and placed its creation, once more, into the hands of potential investors via the website Kickstarter. Apparently it has generated some interest as it has reached already the agreed upon amount to which was needed for its funding. Were I one to resort to such base celebratory expressions as “whooping”, or “hollering”, now would be such a time as to exhibit such behavior. I will however simply offer a stoic nod and offer my felicitations.

What is Bedlam Hall you may ask? Well, if one cannot seek the answers themselves I suppose it behooves me to make it my duty to inform. I am but a servant in such regards after all. Bedlam Hall has the purpose of placing its players in the roles of much put upon servants in the great household of the Blackwood Family. They will then have the esteemed pleasure of serving at their masters’ beck and call diligently, and securing for themselves the prestige of being useful members of the staff. It is truly that simple, nothing else to worry one’s head about. What’s that? Rumors of the macabre? Well now, certainly every great family holds its own secrets and machinations. Who are we to question their day to day activities? We are there to serve and if that includes having to survive meager bouts of insanity or a run in with some eldritch horror, that strikes me as part of the job and need not be remarked upon! Honestly, you should be more careful not to besmirch the good Blackwood name!

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There are many ways to invest in this ghoulish enterprise but let me regal you with the price points that most intrigue me.

15

At merely fifteen dollars you can find yourself receiving this property in a digital format. This strikes me as the ideal manner to lay purchase on this product if you are of the same like as myself and fear overextending your meager, servant’s, earnings. It is at this level I found myself investing and I shall wait patiently to receive my earned reward.

40

 

If you’ve a mind to be a mite more spendthrift my suggestion would be to find your way to the transaction value of forty dollars. At this level not only would you receive a physical book and the digital copy, but it allows you access to all of the treacherous stretch goals I will go on to further explain if you’ll permit me to elaborate below. Keep mindful of the fact that this price point is by no means the most costly you can find yourself within. If you’ve the financial means to do so your potential rewards for backing can be quite intense!

 

As I made mention above this funding ask has already been met with success. Therefore if you were to wish to involve yourself with its investment you would find, with certainty, in receipt of a final product. At this point they are even successfully unlocking what many call “stretch goals”, or rather items in excess of the initial product itself. Currently those who have invested at a price point of fifteen dollars or more will also find themselves obtaining an adventure entitled Terrible Tale #1, my my no attempt to bury lede on that title eh? There are more terrible little goals in store in the event funding levels reach such heights. If, God forbid, they reach a level of funding that exceeds twenty thousand dollars we will all be subjected to a truly monstrous horror. There would be actual efforts made to create a roleplaying game surrounding the concept of a “Gruel Truck” in some fanciful setting. Why they would subject us to such a morbidly frivolous, indecent game is beyond me. It is simply out of taste! What improper individuals would want such a thing?! Alas, if things keep going as they are you may just see this come to fruition. Lord help us all.

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If it were put upon me to suggest whether or not to back this project I would be forced to lay bare my honest opine on the subject, and emphatically implore you to do so. It is with no regrets that I personally made purchase myself after all and it would be silly of me not to expect the same of you. Do yourself the justice of acquiring this offering will you? I do not doubt you will find yourself pleased. Now, off with you. You’ve a Kickstarter to explore!

Your humble servant,

Melvin

bedlam_hall_outside_butler

I suppose you’ll be wanting a “sneak peak”, if you will. Well, if you must. Here is an example of a potential character one might play.

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.

49-dollars

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.

65-dollars

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!

190-dollars

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

Thor is a Girl!?

I’m by no means timely to the news in the comic world that the wielder of Mjolnir is no longer Thor Odinson. Instead the current run of comics from Marvel have the hammer in the permanent grip of someone completely new, and female. When I first heard this news I thought it an interesting departure, and had some qualms (mostly I just worried about the fate of poor Odinson, truly a hero). However, I had never closely followed the actual comics so I paid little mind. I did watch with some bemusement as legions of boys had an utter meltdown over the news.

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Fast forward to about a week and a half ago when I found Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder in my local Library. Essentially this is how I read comics these days anyway. I picked it up immediately because I was interested in how they pulled the whole thing off, I was especially on the lookout for lazy writing. A part of me feared they had shoehorned in a female Thor just to do it. Granted that wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, comic writers have done far lazier, crazier things to try and drum up readership and at least this was a move that featured some well deserved representation for women in comic books. So, wary of lazy writing, but excited nonetheless I brought it home.

 

I breezed through it in one evening. I tend to get caught up in stories and forget to really take my time with the artwork (I’m sorry!). I ended up liking it a lot. There was a ton of mystery and intrigue surrounding who now held the hammer against the backdrop of a freaking frost giant invasion and even some some Thor vs. Thor action. It was a lot of fun to read, despite one story-line being rather cringe inducing. Overall I was eager for Volume Two. Which brings me to the actual story I have for you.

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The art is fantastic

As I was finishing Volume One my daughter came into my room and asked what I was reading. She is only seven but I’m pretty sure my love of books has rubbed off on her some (allow me a little father braggadocio as I inform you she’s already reading chapter books). She and my son also adore superheroes. I told her I was reading the new Thor comics and she wanted me to read them to her. I ran through the story in my head real quick to see if there was anything I recalled that would be considered inappropriate for a 7 year old and then decided eh, why not!

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She immediately felt terrible for Odinson. This was the Thor she’s always known. She asked me why he couldn’t lift his hammer and I explained that I frankly didn’t know, it hadn’t been revealed. When it was revealed that a girl was the new wielder though… “THOR IS A GIRL!?” she shouted and I could see that she was immediately entranced. She held onto every word throughout, we cheered as Thor beat up on frost giants, grew concerned together as she temporarily couldn’t get to her hammer and suffered some serious damage, and reveled in an excellent fight between Odinson and the new Thor (what better way for Odinson to accept the new holder than have her show him how masterfully she controlled the hammer eh?).

 

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We rushed out to the library soon after and picked up Thor Volume Two: Who Holds the Hammer. I read through it first in order to figure out if it was  appropriate or not, glad I did too, early on there’s a seen showcasing living severed heads on pikes asking to die, felt it was best to just skip over that. Together we read through Volume Two with the same fervor and by now my son was listening in too. It was awesome having both kids lay by my side trading my son’s toy Thor hammer back and forth as I read on. Sadly there wasn’t as much full on story in this volume, the back pages were some side stuff and a reprint of when Jane Foster became “Thordis” in an older comic (one I had to stop reading because it was basically just a bunch of will she and Dr. Blake ever declare love for one another…talk about dated).

Right now we are eagerly looking forward to reading Mighty Thor Volume 1: Thunder in her Veins which comes out later this month. Frankly the best part of this journey has been watching my daughter really fall in love with reading comics due to seeing some representation on the page. Since then she’s been asking about girl oriented graphic novels and comics. I’m doing my best to look into it (right now she’s ferociously reading Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier). If you all have some more suggestions my comment section is wide open :)!

I thank you Marvel, and so does Alli!

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-Melvs

 

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

What’s up, heathens?  Uncle Grumps here with another quick look at some of the latest releases from Privateer Press.  Today we will be focusing on everyone’s favorite group of religious fanatics: The Protectorate of Menoth.

First up this week is Sovereign Tristan Durant.

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Available as of 01/25/2017

MP $16.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

“Since becoming a full-fledged warcaster, Tristan Durant has been elevated to high station as a sovereign of the Protectorate. He serves the Creator by spreading the word of Menoth to all who would hear it. Though compassionate, Durant does not hesitate to unleash holy wrath in Menoth’s name upon his enemies, particularly when such foes threaten the safety of the growing flock under his protection.”

Durant has come a long way from being the Protectorate’s character journeyman warcaster solo.  He’s kept his middle of the road stat line with the exception of his STR, MAT, ARM, and CMD, which have all received a slight increase.  Durant has traded in his battle staff for Veritas, a moderately powerful spear with Damage Type: Magical, Critical Dispel, and 2 inch reach.  Not only did Durant keep True Sight, which allows him to ignore Stealth and cloud effects when determining line of sight, he also gained a Field Marshal ability that allows him to grant this benefit to warjacks in his battlegroup.

Durant’s spell list is where things start to get really interesting.  Chasten is a low cost, short ranged offensive spell with the same POW as his spear.  Upkeep spells and animi are removed from models damaged by Chasten.  Cleansing Fire is moderately costed, short range AoE attack spell that deals a decent amount of fire damage.  On a critical hit, all models hit are set on fire.  Hand of the Creator is medium cost spell that heals all friendly Faction models in Durant’s control range d3 damage points.  Inviolable Resolve is a cheap upkeep spell that gives +2 ARM to a friendly Faction model/unit.  Additionally, those models can’t be moved by a slam or push.  Manifest Destiny lets warjack’s in Durant control range roll additional die on melee attack and damage rolls and then discard the lowest die of each roll.  Durant’s feat, Prayers of War, gives each warjack in his control range a focus point and gives Durant one focus point, up to his maximum, for each warjack in his control range.

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Looking at Durant, it’s obvious that he’s a warcaster that wants a large battlegroup.  Between his feat and Manifest Destiny, Durant is a able to get the most out of the Protectorate’s already stellar warjacks.  Temple Flameguard make a good target for Inviolable Resolve, which makes them an extremely durable tar pit unit that can’t be pushed or slammed out of the way.  It’s worth noting that Hand of the Creator restores hit points to all models in Durant’s control range, not just warjacks.  Multi-wound units such as the Exemplar Bastions or the Flame Bringers will be more difficult to remove from the table unless a concerted effort is made to take them down.  In short, Sovereign Tristan Durant is a versatile warcaster that supports many different play-styles.

The next release we’ll be looking at is Feora, The Conquering Flame.

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Available as of 01/11/2017

MP $34.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

Feora, the Conquering Flame continues on her rising trajectory within the Protectorate. She has taken the reins of the southern armies like never before and has extended her participation in crusades abroad. Her aspirations have always been higher—to rule the theocracy—and the time has come when her flame may rise to its ultimate ascendancy as Feora continues to solidify her place at the heart of the nation’s dawning golden age.

 

Feora 3 ( F3ora? 3-ora?) is the latest epic Protectorate warcaster to mount up and become a cavalry model.  She boasts a decent stat-line with higher than average SPD, MAT, and ARM.  Feora has kept her weapons from her previous incarnation: a long ranged spray flamethrower and a magical spear with a decent POW and Critical Fire.  As a cavalry model, she also has a moderately powerful mount attack.  Feora has the assault ability, which allows her to make a free ranged attack while charging, and immunity to fire damge.  She also possesses the Flame Trail ability which makes enemy models she comes into B2B contact with suffer Continuous Fire.  Rounding out her abilities, Feora has Reposition [3] which allows her to advance 3” at the end of an activation in which she didn’t run or fail a charge.

Feora’s new spell list provides everyone’s favorite pyromaniac with some new tricks.  Banishing Ward is a low cost upkeep spell that protects a friendly model/unit from enemy upkeeps and animi.  Fire Step is a low cost spell with a range of SELF.  When cast, enemy models close to Feora suffer a moderately powerful fire damage roll and Feora herself can be placed anywhere within 3” of her current location.  Incite is an expensive spell that grants friendly Faction models +2 to attack and damage rolls against enemy models while they are in Feora’s command range.  Molten Metal is a cheap offensive spell that causes 1 point of fire damage to each column on a warjack’s damage grid.  Redline is an upkeep that grants +2 STR and SPD to a warjack in Feora’s battlegroup.  This spell also allows a warjack to run, charge, slam, or trample for free but the affected ‘jack suffers d3 damage points at the end of it’s activation.  Feora’s feat is Clash of Flames.  It allows Feora to immediately cast Incite without spending focus and grants her Flame Trail ability to friendly Faction models in her control range for one turn.

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This new version of Feora brings and interesting mix of abilities and spells to the table.  You’ll want to play her towards the front to get the most of Incite.  Fire Step can be used to get yourself out of trouble is Feora gets surrounded or just to extend her already impressive threat range.  Use Repostion to have her retreat to safety if necessary.  Redline can be cast on any of the Protectorate’s amazing melee ‘jacks.  Flame Bringers can help make the most of Feora’s feat.  Between Parry, Repostion, and Side Step, the Flame Bringers can spread the Continuous Fire effect to a surprisingly large number of your opponent’s models.  Feora, The Conquering Flame looks like a blast to play and I can’t wait to get her on the table!

Last but certainly not least, we have the Protectorate of Menoth Command Book.

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Available as of 01/11/2017

MP $34.99

The Command book contains the stats for nearly every model currently released for the Protectorate.  In addition to model rules, the Command book features two new theme forces.  The Creator’s Might which rewards you for playing ‘jack heavy and Guardians of the Temple which features buffs for various Flameguard units.  You can also find plenty of information of the structure and organization of the Protectorate military.  Like all of Privateer Press’ books, the Protectorate Command book is filled with gorgeous artwork.  This is in addition to gallery of painted models located near the back of the book.  It even includes a painting guide with tips on how to recreate the studio paint scheme and guides for variant schemes.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Protectorate of Menoth.

Looks like that’s all the time I have for this week.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some heretics to burn!  ‘Til next time, folks!

-Uncle Grumps

WotC Con Schedule Will Not Include Gen Con

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Wizards of the Coast has announced their convention schedule for 2017 and despite adding a few new conventions this year I am sad to report that Gen Con will not be among them. Here is the current list of conventions they plan to attend in an official capacity.

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JAN 27-29, 2017 PAX SOUTH

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
900 E Market St.
San Antonio, TX

Chris Perkins and Trevor Kidd will be at PAX South at the end of this month. Chris will have the honor of delivering the key note Story Time with Chris Perkins on Friday morning, as well as stepping onto the main stage to serve as Dungeon Master for Acquisitions Incorporated, live for the first time from sunny San Antonio. Many Dungeons & Dragons games will be playable in the open gaming spaces scheduled through the D&D Adventurers League. We definitely won’t be playing in the basement of the Alamo, thankfully.

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FEB 1-5, 2017 WINTER FANTASY

Grand Wayne Convention Center
120 West Jefferson Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN

Chris Lindsay will be returning to Fort Wayne for Winter Fantasy and will be available to speak about the D&D Adventurers League and Dungeon Masters Guild. We will debut a brand-new D&D Adventurers League EPIC by Will Doyle here, giving attendees the first chance to overcome new challenges and collect loot. Chris will be running unique D&D Adventurers League sessions with loot and magic items you can’t get anywhere else.

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MAR 10-12, 2017 PAX EAST

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
415 Summer Street
Boston, MA

Chris Perkins and Trevor Kidd will be in Boston at PAX East again this year. Chris will serve as Dungeon Master for another Acquisitions Incorporated live show with Mike, Jerry, Scott, and Pat. There will be many opportunities to play Dungeons & Dragons in the open gaming spaces of PAX scheduled through the D&D Adventurers League.

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MAR 23-26, 2017 GARY CON

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
7036 Grand Geneva Way
Lake Geneva, WI
We’re heading back to Gary Con in Lake Geneva again this year! Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, and Chris Lindsay will be panelists in a discussion of D&D Across the Editions. Mike Mearls will be DMing a celebrity game using his Greyhawk house rules for 5e in one of the deadliest dungeons he’s run in his personal campaign: the dreaded Path of Blades. Mearls will also run a home brew horror RPG based on the Avalon Hill board game Betrayal at House on the Hill. Chris Lindsay will head up a host of Dungeon Masters as we present the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan and the Tomb of Horrors as competitive events for the first time in decades. Also, don’t miss the EPIC designed by Chris Lindsay, featuring the Keep on the Borderlands.

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JUNE 14-18, 2017 ORIGINS GAME FAIR

Greater Columbus Convention Center
400 N High Street
Columbus, OH
Mike Mearls, Chris Lindsay, Chris Perkins, Trevor Kidd, and Jeremy Crawford will be returning to Origins for the D&D tabletop gaming event of the year: The D&D Open. Bring your favorite Adventurers League character and risk life and limb to bring glory upon your adventuring party. We’ll also have D&D board game tournaments, exclusive DMs Guild panels, exclusive Origins swag, and even more!

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SEP 1-4, 2017 PAX WEST

Washington State Convention Center
800 Convention Place
Seattle, WA
Chris Perkins, Trevor Kidd, and many more folks from the Dungeons & Dragons team will be at PAX West. Chris will be on panels and serving as Dungeon Master for the live Acquisitions Incorporated game with Jerry, Mike, Scott, and Pat. Many of us will be around in the Dungeons & Dragons area and there will be tons of opportunities to play D&D in the open gaming area scheduled through the D&D Adventurers League.

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SEPT 9-10, 2017 HASCON

Rhode Island Convention Center & Dunkin Donuts Center
1 La Salle Square & 1 Sabin St
Providence, RI
Join us in Providence for the debut of HASCON, a new convention event in September focusing on all of Hasbro’s brands including Transformers, My Little Pony, Magic the Gathering and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons! You will get to peek behind the curtain of our characters and stories through interactive experiences, exclusive products, talent appearances, panels and much more.

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NOV 2-5, 2017 GAMEHOLE CON

Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way
Madison, WI
Mike Mearls and Chris Lindsay will return to the Midwest in November for Gamehole Con in Madison. Mike and Chris will be attending panels, serving as Dungeon Masters in unique Adventurers League scenarios, and hanging out and answering any questions you might have.

Con list and descriptions courtesy of EN World & Wizards of the Coast Website

When I heard Wizards wasn’t attending Gen Con 2016 I somewhat got it, even if I disagreed with it. Wizards didn’t need to attend Gen Con to be “present” there. There will always be plenty of merchants hawking the newest D&D books, as always Dungeons and Dragons continues to have enough “word of mouth” power that they don’t really need to attend the largest tabletop gaming convention there is.

This year though? They aren’t attending Gen Con 50 in some capacity!? I find it frankly baffling. Why the biggest name in the game wouldn’t want to be present in some official capacity at the biggest con’s 50th anniversary is beyond me. Granted I’ve no special privilege to behind the scenes knowledge, but as a games lover… it rankles. I applaud the desire to spread the love to newer cons but Gen Con feels a bit hollow to some extent without Dungeons and Dragons having a full showing. Personally, I think they should have waited until after GC50 to make this move. At least it’s better they started last year then spring it on folks attending GC 50.

I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Am I being too unrealistic to want D&D at Gen Con in ways akin to years past, or am I spot on? Is it obvious I’m also simply saddened they won’t be attending the only con I can likely make it to this year? You be the judge!

-Melvs