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

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I’m Back!

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…and boy do I have some exciting articles\plans incoming over the next few days, weeks, and months!

I know I’ve been gone a while, but I needed the break. I’m a lone writer out here folks and though I endeavor to keep the posts flowing week to week I needed the downtime to recharge. You probably want to hear more about the teased plans mentioned above though right? Well, I can’t spill all the details just yet but I can offer a taste.

  • in just TWO days the Kickstarter for AcadeCon 2016 will launch. Most of you are aware that I am a proud member of the RPG Academy Network. Due to this I am heavily interested in seeing this convention fund. Though honestly I’m probably less involved in the process than you’d assume due to my membership and I stand to gain less than you likely believe from its funding. When I write my article later this week know that my cheer leading for Michael & Caleb’s little-big convention is coming more from a place of love for the convention and its leadership itself than from anything I actually stand to gain from its funding. I want it to succeed so I have an awesome convention to go to in November, and I want to see you there. As many of you as can make the trip. Let’s sell this thing out folks! I’ll be putting some of my hard earned money toward it even though I don’t have to, I believe in seeing it succeed that much!
  • I have an article to write for Wizards of the Coast. It has taken me a while but I finally finished looking over Curse of Strahd. You may have caught some of my thought’s on Twitter recently but they deserve a full spread.
  • Privateer Press is rolling out a new edition of Warmachine and Hordes. This is huge, the latest edition was released back in 2010 people, it is time for an update. Details are flying around about this new edition and I want to get on top of things and begin to parse down the nitty gritty that you need to know in case you’re interested in how it’ll effect your factions now or, even better, you are just taking notice of this tabletop skirmish game and want to know the best time to get into it (hint: soon).
  • Speaking of WarmaHordes. I’m currently embroiled in an exciting Map Based Campaign titled “The Battle for the Athanc” (basically a high octane version of Risk where actual battles are fought using our WarmaHordes factions). I and my buddy who is running the Campaign have been keeping some battle report type notes and if we actually get our business together I hope to set up a bit of a battlelog for what we’ve done thus far and for how the remaining turns play out. It’s been a blast, even if I’ve had some of the the worst die rolling luck ever throughout.
  • A few fastballs here. I’ll be back at Gencon this year, once more rising with the Gamerstable crew. I’ll be rocking some games at Geekway to the West with Toby from Roll and Groove. I hope to get a bit more serious about writing some helpful essays on how volunteering and\or just gaming with the youth in your community can help foster growth in our hobby. I might even sneak in a post about The Division since that game currently has its talons in me.
  • This last one is going to be vague and for that I’m sorry (well…only a little sorry). I have some plans for the site, I want to become a little more polished. The one thing I can say is I want to drop that pesky little “dot wordpress dot com” from the tail end of my web address. Other than that there are just some things I want to work at for making this site a better place to get gaming information, and more frequent information. Hopefully I can fulfill these self-imposed demands, but one good thing about not running a Patreon or some other form of “actually getting paid for any of this” is I am only really beholden to myself eh?

So there you have it folks. Hope you’re excited to have me back, I’m at least excited to be writing again whether or not you all are happy to have me! 😛

-Melvs

 

 

 

 

Geekway to the West 2015

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A little con in St. Louis, Missouri turned 11, and it did so in a big way. Perhaps it’s not even accurate to use “little” anymore as Geekway to the West smashed through all of its own numbers from years past. With this gathering Geekway has firmly placed its stamp of existence in the board gaming realm. I can’t think of a past year where I’ve seen more before and after buzz about the con on social media and even in dead tree form. Frankly, the biggest question that has to be on the minds of this con’s crew is whether to continue to grow, or decide on an optimum size.

This was my third year at Geekway, and easily my favorite. Not only because they put on their best con yet but this is the first year I actually got to hit it up every day. Add to that, the fact that I was finally able to bring my wife Sarah to Geekway and a number of good buddies showed up including Dave Ferguson, creator of The Great Debate, Topher, one of the contributors to this site, and my fellow blogger pal Toby Gee from Roll and Groove. I’ve enjoyed previous years a lot, because I enjoy gaming and have never had issues gaming with strangers, but there is something great about having a group of friends present. Also, it’s always good to have Sarah around in order to humble me. I’ve rarely seen someone pick up on the rules of a game faster than she, and thus she tends to beat me…a lot. I did get her good once though, more on that later!

 

ARRIVAL!

ARRIVAL!

I knew we were in for a good year when I noticed that Geekway sold out months ahead of time. In previous years there was always the option for people to walk up and get a day pass but that wasn’t to be the case this go around. 1300 badges were sold, over 100 badges were handed out to staff, volunteers, and guests, and even a handful of temporary badges were handed out to press and judges. One thing to note too, Geekway hands out a free board game to every paid attendee, well over 1400 games were handed out there alone. For those wondering, these weren’t simply packs of Uno Cards either (apologies to the Uno fans) these were full on Board Games. I received a copy of a game called Skyscrapers that I traded to another attendee for Privateer Press’ High Command. A few other attendee games I saw were Constantinople, King of Tokyo, Locke and Key: The Game, and many more.

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One needs to consider the fact that the con’s library of games stands at just over 1500, so the 1400 given away at check in would already be an admirable number to bandy about. They don’t stop there however. Geekway holds daily door prizes, where they gave away 75 games, and then there’s the Play and Win games. I’m not certain how long Geekway has had a Play and Win category but I’ve never seen it handled with more finesse or scale than this year’s iteration of the event. In the past the Play and Win slips were placed inside the game box and if you were privy to what games fit the category you, the other players, and anyone who helps teach the game were able to place these signed slips back in the box to potentially be drawn as a winner of the game. This year the con team set aside an entire room for the Play and Win area, games were placed on tables for ready play and a large bookshelf held copies of the games for people to grab and play within the room or check out if they wished to wander. The slips were placed into already crafted bins labeled clearly on one side of the room. Easily the best set-up I’ve seen thus far and it truly made the Play and Win area the place to be. In fact I don’t think I played a single game that wasn’t designated as a Play and Win, and I played roughly 30+ unique games over those four days!

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One stand out game grabbed my attention above all others, not to mention the majority of the Geekway attendees for that matter. The Polish game Tajemnicze Domostwo (Mysterious Mansion), or Mysterium as it will be named once it’s released in the States, was hands down the Bell of the Ball. This Play and Win was played over 200 times over the four days, easily the most played in the Play and Win category. The game is fantastic. One player takes on the role of a murder victim, now a ghost, communicating with the other players through symbolism within their dreams in order to whittle down a list of suspects, potential places, and murder weapons. If you call it “Better Clue” I wouldn’t argue with you. Take the fact that the gameplay is fun, unique, and co-operative and couple that with the intrigue of a game that isn’t even available in English yet and it’s easy to see the allure. I even got a chance to be the ghost once but, wpid-20150514_113930.jpgas Dave F. will tell you openly, I did not make for a good one. If you played the game at the con and were lucky enough to have English rules inside the box you can thank me for bringing it to the attention of the con staff by the way *winking face*.

 

I had a number of other stand out games at the con.

LanternsLanterns was a game where I initially beat Toby, thus giving me the false impression I was actually good at the game, only to be proven wrong by Sarah multiple times. The mechanics are simple, if explained a bit poorly in the rulebook, match colored lanterns to gain them and be careful because every tile you lay down could help a competitor!

ScovilleScoville was a really cool resource collection game where you plant and harvest different peppers to fuel the ever-expanding pepper market! It was made cooler for me because I just walked in on Friday morning, sat down, and played with two strangers. I won that first game of Scoville, we were all three new to it, but the second time around I wasn’t so lucky as, once again, Sarah crushed me on her first time ever playing the game.

Look at that Camel stack!

Look at that Camel stack!

Camel Up! was a blast, I didn’t even care that I never won. Betting on those camels was a treat! It has a really fun mechanic where you roll and drop your dice from a pyramid. Attempting to get just one die out of that pyramid did take a bit finesse but it was still fun stuff, the stacking mechanism of the camels and how that changes their place in the race really shook thins up often. Never won a game of it but I did have the pleasure of witnessing Toby’s eldest daughter take us to task with her camel betting skills.

My biggest triumph of the Con though came when playing The Worst Game Ever (actual title). The main game-play is simple, roll a die and make a bet that it’ll roll higher than you guessed and then take that many tokens away from whoever you were targeting. As soon as someone loses all their tokens the game ends and the winner is the one with the most (barring the humorous “if there’s a tie” rule). The cards are what shake things up, and it is here that I discovered Sarah’s weakness! You see, every card changes the rules somehow, and many times in humorous ways. Sarah likes consistent rules, she’d tell you this herself. Anyway, I had a card in my hand through most of the game where you play it if someone is caught “mooching’ food or drink from someone else. There was none to be had but I remembered they were selling food in the hall. When I excused myself to use the restroom (honestly fearing there was a card out there that someone could use when i did so) I purchased a cookie on the way back. Long story short, Sarah soon took a bite and I used the mooching card, ending the game. It was fantastic!

The winning card!

The winning card!

There were a ton of activities I didn’t get the chance to join in on.  Tournaments of local popularity like Crokinole and Battling Tops, or more widespread appeal with Settlers of Catan and King of Tokyo/New York. The latter gaining the victors free passes* to Gen Con (*Edit: The victors won an invitation to the Gen Con World Championships, not passes to Gen Con). There was a game design contest, which my good friend Toby was actually a guest judge for (I’m very envious of that fact but can’t say it wasn’t a well deserved nod to his board gaming cred). I’m sure he’ll be able to elaborate more on the contest in his post over at Roll and Groove. There was even a Guest of Honor I, sadly, never had the chance to meet. The one and only Zev Shlasinger, President of Z-Man Games!

You can barely see it but there was a rainbow over Geekway when my wife and I drove in on Saturday.

You can barely see it but there was a rainbow over Geekway when my wife and I drove in on Saturday.

Geekway to the West has some real potential to grow into a mighty con, I’m honestly wondering whether they will choose to do so. Their current venue can’t take much, if any, more, and I’m loathe to see it move because that would likely mean a move away from me, and into the city (St. Louis) to meet expanding space requirements. There is a part of me that wants nothing more than to see it grow to a size of behemoth proportions, just because it damn well deserves to! I only have a few complaints. First, the con takes place right in the prime of graduation ceremonies. I had to miss a good chunk of it last year, and narrowly missed it next year (yes I already checked). Lastly,…I didn’t win a single game from Play and Win or Door Prizes! I mean c’mon!.. Ok, that last one isn’t really fair because I guess I did win a game last year…but still! All joking aside I would suggest you get a jump on your badge next year because there is no telling if they intend to grow the con. It’s a lot of fun as is, and if it continues to garner the growth of popularity I’ve seen thus far and they decide to keep things small, you may start missing your chance to get in earlier and earlier!

It just keeps growin.

It just keeps growing.

Take care folks, and keep gaming! Also, just remember… Istanbul was Constantinople.

-Melvs