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 Apparently in “Brumancia”, the fantasy setting for the game, years of bitter war and conflict have been replaced by a brewing competition.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.

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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!

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

pretend-box

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

Kickstart that Geek! Sun Spots – A Call of Cthulhu RPG Scenario

The Sun Spots Kickstarter will run until October 9, 2016.

My aim was to write this review last Thursday, but life got in the way. Apparently Dave Sokolowski did not need my article in the least to get funded! First off, congratulations on funding Dave. Secondly, let’s see if I can’t garner just a tad more attention eh?

Lovecraftian horror/lore/gaming is a particular love of mine. Sadly, I rarely dabble in that third category though. I’ve read the rulebooks, and I’ve played in a Call of Cthulhu game from time to time, but never as much as I’d like. So naturally when Dave gave me the chance to dig into some of his material for this Kickstarter I loved getting the chance. What I didn’t know going into this review was the story behind it’s gestation. It would be unfair to say that this is the only Kickstarter I’ve reviewed that was a true labor of love, all Kickstarters are, but I found Dave’s backstory particularly endearing. The project was initially set to be handled with the assistance of famed Cthulhu mastermind Keith “Doc” Herber, whom Dave had only just begun a report with when his untimely death shocked all. So Sun Spots comes to us as a bit of a testament to Doc’s work, and what I see so far looks great! He Who Laughs Last Cover.indd

Sun Spots is a Horror themed RPG Scenario that uses the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition ruleset. Set in the 1920’s the adventure begins as a simple mission to find a missing person only to unfold into something far more grand, and terrifying. Rival powers surround the players who find themselves in the unseasonably warm town of Red Valley. Things seem normal at first but that is soon to pass.

What I have in front of me now could already suffice for a fully fleshed scenario were I to want to run the game myself. Frankly it seems this Kickstarter is mostly to round out the edges and fully realize the potential of Dave’s vision. As stated on the Kickstarter page itself the funding will help pay for more art, better maps, and even some last touches of editing.  I see no reason not to expect this project to be fully realized, especially because the thing has already funded.

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Currently the Kickstarter is at nearly $9,000, very close to doubling its original mark of $5,000. Already obtained are the following two stretch goals:

  • $7500: More Art — Add four more b/w half-page illustrations by our amazing artistReuben Dodd.
  • $8500: GM Kit Part 1 — Provide Playtest notes illuminating the various lessons learned throughout the years of playtesting this, as well as provide a full transcript of the first playtest from 2008. This will be available as a PDF with every pledge $10 and above.

At the $10000 mark we will see this stretch goal realized:

  • $10,000: Red Valley Visitor’s Guide — I will work with Gregory Geiger to incorporateJake Coolidge’s hand-drawn map of Red Valley into a 1920s-style visitor’s guide handout. This will be available as a PDF with every pledge $10 and above, and will be provided as a print copy for the Deluxe level ($70) and above.

As always I like to peruse things and see what levels I would be personally drawn to. Here are my picks for backer levels of interest.

Digital Spot – $10 or more

Receive a PDF copy of Sun Spots via DTRPG, plus all stretch goals. Also have your name added to the list of Kickstarter contributors.

INCLUDES

  • PDF Copy of Sun Spots via DTRPG
The Digital Spot is your typical PDF buy in offer, and I’d say you’d be getting you money’s worth and then some with this thrifty option. Perfect for those of us with a little less scratch in our pockets.

Deluxe Hard Spot – $70 or more

Receive a hand-signed, hardcover version of Sun Spots, plus a digital copy via DTRPG, all stretch goals, and your name listed as a Kickstarter Contributor. You will also receive hard-copies of the three maps and any scenario handouts.

INCLUDES

  • PDF Copy of Sun Spots via DTRPG
  • Hand-signed, Hardcover book of Sun Spots
  • Hard-copies of 3 maps & any scenario handouts
 The Deluxe Hard Spot is your go to for the luxury purchase in my estimation. Hard copies galore! The perfect purchase of a connoisseur.
Head on over to the Kickstarter when you get a chance, or at least spread the word to ensure your fellow Cthulhu loving friends hear about it. Looks like it’s going to be a great game!
If you want to know more about the project beyond what’s written here of on the Kickstarter page, head on over to Dave’s webpage Weird8.
-Melvs

Piracy in Theah! John Wick’s 7th Sea

“Let’s play a pirate game!” Who hasn’t either heard this exclaimed or shouted it themselves when contemplating their table’s next set of adventures eh? Over the years there have been a number of games suited well enough for a game on the high seas, generic systems like Savage Worlds, or maybe even a game that integrates the concept within like Iron Kingdoms. None have ever been quite as quick to the tongue as 7th Sea however and now, fresh from a successful Kickstarter run (and the starting of a whole new company, John Wick Presents) we have finally received a second edition of the game. Let’s be honest though, this is more of a re-branding of the titular title, utterly new and cinematic in nature, the new 7th Sea is upon us.

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The version of this product I will review is the pdf format of the game, available from Drive Thru RPG for $24.99. At this price point you will receive:

  • The Core Rulebook in a Low and High resolution format
  • Character Sheet
  • Two World Maps
  • The Quick Start rules

You’ll find zero complaints from me regarding the design, layout, and imagery of this product. It is flat out gorgeous. It really makes me consider getting my hands of the physical copy of the book some day, if for no other reason than to have it sit on my shelf looking pristine while I use the pdf for game-play so as never to touch it. As is evident from the style chosen to introduce those behind this book (a well drafted mock up of a movie poster) there is a push to showcase this work as a grand cinematic feature. This style choice does not disappoint, I had some real fun parsing these pages and loved all the artwork within.

After an introductory work of short fiction, the well written “A Day’s Work” by Jennifer Mahr, that goes a long way into giving its audience a feel for the world of Theah and its heroes (no worries I’ll not ruin it, great read) we get ourselves into the meat of the book.

Chapters one and two are all introductory pieces into the 7th Sea and an expanded introduction into the world of Theah itself. The continent of Theah is loosely based on our real world version of Europe and Asia of the pertinent time periods to the age of piracy. An interesting tidbit we receive right off the bat is an emphasis on how the world of Theah handles diversity, in that peoples of all nation, sex, and creed are to be treated equally. This is a great idea for the game table anyway, so including it in game (with a good rationale for why it is that way) is a nice touch. Further through chapter two we are introduced to the various nations (their etiquette, governments, and even food, clothing , and customs), Religion, Guilds, Pirates and Privateers, and more. Some of the items touched on here are broadened in their own chapters, like Secret Societies. Spanning just over 100 pages these chapters give you just what you need to have a feel for the setting.

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I adore every chapter’s two page splashes. Some utterly epic work.

Character creation, as described in chapter three, comes across fairly simple with enough choices to address even the most fiddly of players. An interesting process starts this creation off. A list of twenty questions helps to guide a player into fleshing out just who their character is. Questions like “How would you physically describe your hero?” might assist you in the mechanical aspects of the upcoming creation and yet there are also questions like “Is your hero in love?” that speak to more “fluff” related items. After reading through this section I can easily see how a veteran of the game might simply skip it but I’d urge any player to use this list as a jumping off point, it really looks like it might add some much needed depth!

Honestly, once you have a concept for your character (something the aforementioned section will produce) the remaining choices simply fall into place. Traits detail core strengths, next your character’s nation and background add bonuses to and Advantages, then you enhance Skills gained through your Background or add new ones, and add some extra Advantages. These are the major mechanical aspects, and your concept will help you choose them quickly. After that there are two items to add on to a character that I feel are pretty unique. Arcana is essentially a version of horoscopes that add extra bonuses to certain styles of play, and then you come to Choosing a Story. This last bit is much more abstract, as you aren’t bound by the suggestions they lay out, but as I mentioned there are suggestions (and a helpful template). Your story appears to be the mechanism for how your character advances in “level” or rather how one increases certain Traits\Skills or earns new Advantages. Complete your story, earn the pre-ordained reward. I will note that there is one last step of some finishing touches to work on after this though, wealth, languages, secret societies, etc.

Chapter four addresses the mechanics of play. There is a simple three step system to recall for any situation. The GM sets the scene, a player may decide to take an action and if the GM feels that action is what’s called a “Risk” the player will need to roll dice, lastly the results of those rolls to resolve the Risk. Obviously things may get more interestign than that but thems the basics. One thing I like is the section starting on page 172 that lays out a fictional back and forth between a GM and a player to showcase how such situations play out. I’ve seen this trick done many a time in RPG books and I always like it.

Once the die are cast and totaled, called the Approach in this book,  the GM must then decide if the player has succeeded and created an Opportunity for the players, a Consequence, or both. Great care is taken to ensure any GM knows that it is far more interesting to mix the two and to liven them up from a standard “You\They take wounds” situation where possible. Make it cinematic.

Getting deeper into this chapter the rules allow for all sorts of adjustments, from both the GM (ala something called the Danger Pool) or the players (Hero Points, Flair, Pressure). Details get rounded out about dealing with wounds, because sometimes the Consequence truly is taking a sword to the gut, and there is even a nice section on setting up a “rush of furious activity” known as a Dramatic Sequence. The mechanics can seem a heady at first, but the deeper you read (and after parsing the various examples) you’ll get the gist rather easily.

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All I’ve spoken on only encompasses the first two thirds of this book. The next four chapters cover various character options, the many styles of sorcery available, dueling maneuvers, how to sail a ship, and the various secret societies a player can belong to. Then, to wrap things up, we have a strong finale chapter dedicated to assisting GMs (from novice to veteran).

7th Sea is a very different game from its roots with its original Roll and Keep system, and it stands to be seen which players may prefer. The new system is well fleshed out though. Attention has been paid to the minutia, and we have a very complete game. It is an interesting blend of fiddly mechanics and emphasis on storytelling that I find myself interested to dive into. I get the impression my regular gaming table would not approve of the “leveling” mechanic in the game, but I honestly love the idea of setting out to actually complete story arcs and goals, and then being rewarded for doing so.

If you find yourself craving that cinematic feel of piracy on the big screen, this is your game. If you love the idea of taking a character along a storied path, this is your game. If nothing else the book is chock full of excellent artwork, and fantastic lore usable in any piracy game. There’s a reason this project raised over 1.3 million on Kickstarter, it is grand!

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Get out there and sail those seas!

-Melvs

 

 

Invisible Sun-Luxury Gamecraft in an Age of Minimalising

When Numenera burst onto the scene back in August 2012 it was apparent that Monte Cook Games endeavored to be different from the status quo, and ever since that day their efforts to bring us games that border on the surreal has been met with success. There is something about every project they’ve put out that screams “care and attention was paid here”. Certainly they aren’t the only company that does so, but anyone who has ever spent much time reading their thoughts on their games, watched a panel prior to introducing a new one, or even met the MCG team knows they put more than a little of their soul into a product. The Invisible Sun RPG is going to be an interesting beast to say the least. I have to imagine the Kickstarter campaign will succeed, it is already well on its way (currently $153,984 pledged of a $210,653 goal with 557 backers). I also feel it has a lot of potential to be pretty divisive, not necessarily in a negative way but it is definitely going to get a conversation started regarding the trade offs of quality game craft and the accessibility of your game. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

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That damn cat

WHY DOES IT HAVE HANDS!?

At Gen Con MCG announced Invisible Sun, and it was immediately apparent they were going gamble hard with some real innovation. Promises have been made to up the ante with modes of play (Action, Narrative, and Development), all things GMs may have utilized before but from what I can tell this game will have rules built into the system for such things.  Players, and their stories will take the lead here with a GM that guides them through a world they have “awoken” back into. The world we know is referenced as a “Shadow World” and the players are trying to get back to the “Actuality”. Other than that we know the game will be based in a “surreal” fantasy setting, & their marketing prior to the Kickstarter was filled with cryptic messages, hidden real life geocaches, and fantastic concept art (except that damn cat…*). Needless to say I have been very impressed thus far.

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Character Concept

 

The Kickstarter itself launched today and at first I was confused. Whenever I check out a Kickstarter for review my first step is always the backer levels (not uncommon), I like to have an idea of my preferred backer level and the best bang for your buck. You won’t get that from me this time. The Invisible Sun Kickstarter makes it plain, this packaging of the game is the luxury model. I have no clue if later iterations will be priced for the individual purchaser but for the time being it seems the lowest price point, the “Call the Black Cube” level, is set at $197.00.

My first reaction at this lofty price was to scoff, but I dug deeper and realized they intended the Black Cube to be something an entire game group can go in on and have ownership over. Not the first game company to encourage a backer level that involved multiple folks chipping in, but I’ve never seen someone make it their opening act. After that the price just skyrockets until it reaches a price just south of 6 grand (and someone has actually laid that grip down). When the inference was made that they were going to bring a lux product to the table, they didn’t disappoint. From the looks of things, even the $197.00 model will be packed with great stuff…and just what’s in that box you ask (perhaps with feigned terror as you quote a certain Fincher flick)? Well, they answered that just today, and, in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

Black Box

This is everything you get in the Black Cube

The Books: The box contains four beautifully, intricately presented rule and setting books called The Key, The Gate, The Path, and The Way. These contain everything you need to start an Invisible Sun campaign. You’ll also find them to be filled with hidden puzzles, codes, and mysteries all their own. While solving these isn’t crucial, it will enhance your experience.

Sooth Deck: A special deck of 60 round cards used to facilitate gameplay and inspire GM creativity.

Board: A durable, folding cardstock board featuring the Path of Suns, on which the GM plays the Sooth cards.

Testament of Suns: An imposing resin sculpture that holds a Sooth card that is active long-term for all to see.

Spell Cards: 200 cards detailing the spells characters will cast in the game.

Ephemera Cards: 300 cards detailing the minor magic and one-use incantations characters will use in the game.

Artifact Cards: 100 cards describing the magical accoutrements characters will obtain and create in the game.

Tokens: More than 100 tokens of different types to use for the different kinds of player rewards, Vance spell management, and more.

Dice: 4 gorgeous 10-sided dice marked with game-specific symbols. One is a “mundane” die, while others are special “magic” dice.

Secrets Envelope: A sealed envelope with some of the deepest secrets of the setting. This is different than the secrets that all vislae (backers) will get in addition to the game, tied to the active sun on the day that they cast their spell to summon the Black Cube.

Cloth Map: A gorgeous map of the City of Satyrine.

Poster Map: A two-sided map showing the Actuality and the fantastic realm of Indigo.

The Guiding Hand: A GM’s notebook that guides the GM through creating a campaign of their own, with ideas, suggestions, and prompts.

Player Handouts: Dozens of useful things, from quick-reference rule cards to a plethora of handouts and clue-laden props.

Character Tomes: The four orders of magic, plus the order-rejecting Apostates, each get their own unique four-page character tome. The game contains six blank copies of each type of tome, ready to use to create characters.

Grimoire Pad: A pad of 30 handy sheets for players to record their spells, secrets, and more.

Bookmarks: Four special bookmarks, each tied to a different book, not only help mark important pages, but list frequently referenced pages for important topics. And might they be part of a larger clue to yet another mystery? Everything’s fair game.

Pregenerated Characters: Five iconic characters for the setting, ready to use as player characters.

Sun Medallion: Every game contains one of eight metal medallions, each tied to one of the suns of the Path of Suns. Fate will decide which medallion you get, as there will be equal numbers of each made.

The Cube Itself: The Black Cube is a mystery box taken right from the game’s setting. This incredibly sturdy box folds in a unique design, and it includes a special compartment for the books and a plastic tray to hold the cards and components of the game.

Searchable Electronic Reference: Every copy of the game comes with a digital download of the rules and setting material. You can read it on a tablet or other screen and easily search the file to find what you need.

Secrets: Are there still more mysteries hidden in the box somewhere? Probably, for those who look carefully.

A hallmark of this Kickstarter campaign, and frankly the game itself, is mystery, magic, and secrecy. MCG started strong with ciphers and geocaches and promises that the game itself will contain many secrets to be unveiled. There is even a difference in what backer secret you’ll receive based on what sun, of the nine suns, was “active” during the time you backed the project. From what I understand the books will likely hold puzzles and ciphers as well. It all just sounds so cool!

literary geocaching

When referencing the game on the Kickstarter page the opening line reads thusly

Invisible Sun is a tabletop roleplaying game of surreal fantasy. It’s dark. It’s moody. It’s adult.

keys

This image here really grabbed me.

They play up the immersion factor, claiming it truly isn’t for everyone. This will be a game for a group to really dig their teeth into and develop some damn story arcs! It really seems to go about checking off every box in my personal list of desires in a game. One aspect I find very interesting is what I touched on above regarding the third mode of play the “Development” mode. Essentially this is something many of us GMs have handled on an ad hoc basis, a player may want to have their character accomplish some task or flesh out a bit more of their backstory away from the table. There’s been many times I’ve exchanged a few emails with my players about such things and we’ve come up with something cool that may effect the game once we get back to the table. Well Invisible Sun purports to have this as a far more literal aspect of play. I’m truly intrigued to see how this is actually implemented. It seems there will be at least some concrete rules surrounding this mode of play because, as mentioned in more depth here, Monte has explained that these actions taken away from the game table will have in game consequences. I love the idea, enough to have done it myself in my own way, so I’m fully on board to see how it can become a full on addition to a game.

Path of Suns

Really wish I’d caught on to all the cool Geocaching before the Kansas City one got found.

I’ve been digging around the internet all afternoon, researching the many aspects of this Kickstarter, and I could probably come up with far more interesting tidbits to bat around but honestly, do yourself a favor and check things out for yourself. Even if you’re currently priced out like so many others, it’s all worth looking into. I’d also like to say I’ve been very impressed with the reaction by many of those who simply cannot figure out how to afford to get in on this. It has mostly been a message of “I can’t afford your product, but I still believe in your message here, and wish you the best with this deluxe game.” It would be oh so easy to get angry, and frankly jealous, that you can’t afford to get in on the fun, but I’ve seen very little of that. I hope the tenor of feedback remains that positive. I even saw one commentor who believed in the vision so much, despite being unable to back at even the lowest level, that he paid in $10 just to help MCG succeed! I’m not recommending such an action, but hey kudos to that guy.

So if you are interested in a big, luxury, gaming product, in this era where new games on the scene have been marketing in a more streamlined fashion, Invisible Sun seems to be your bag. If you can afford to, I’d suggest taking a chance on this beautiful project. In just over a year’s time your players could be free of the Shadow and in the realm of the Acuality!

BAKER LEVELS OF NOTE

Baker 01

Initial level, that Cube does indeed come packed!

Baker 02

Here’s the real deal item. I say that because of that little bullet point in the middle. You know there will be Stretch Goals folks, you know there will be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Melvs

 

*The cat is actually really cool it just creeps me out.

KICKSTARTER REVIEW: Murders & Acquisitions RPG

Hey all! I’m deeply embroiled in board games today at Geekway to the West but through the magic of computers I’m speaking to you about yet another excellent Kickstarter run! This time it’s something most assuredly a bit more “indy”. Speaking of Kickstarters though, the Acadecon 2016 Kickstarter has run its course…and FULLY FUNDED! So I will hopefully see you in November. If you missed the Kickstarter have no fear, you can still get a badge and attend. Just head over to the website and buy one. It’s also a good place to check out details for Dayton, look up hotel rooms, check the special guests, and even the schedule of events.*

Logo

The Murders and Acquisitions RPG comes to us from Craig Cambell, you may have seen some of his work as a freelancer for various RPGs like D&D, Iron Kingdoms, or Gamma World. M&A RPG is his first foray into publishing his own work. The setting for the system is a high octane world of business where climbing that corporate ladder might entail some very devious and deadly means. In the world of M&A RPG such things aren’t frowned upon, but championed. As long as you aren’t sloppy and get caught that is!

termination

The system provide for quick character creation and a bevy of unique skills beyond your usual fare that utilize dice. The game really plays up the corporate structure with the skills available (i.e. Loss Mitigation ~ The ability to cover your trail). To determine your ability with these skills you’d associate a specific die with each skill, somewhat like you would in another favorite RPG of mine Savage Worlds, each skill ends up having some associated Areas of Expertise that can add some helpful perks to your skill rolls by allowing for re-rolls on failures. Your character starts the game with Employment Objectives that they attempt to succeed on too. With that, and very few other items I left out you have a character. Reading through I can easily see how quick the process can end up being.

The concept of M&A RPG and the simplicity of the system has me hooked. Especially because my day job has me well within the corporate world. The idea of being a truly crazed go-geter has me smiling. You should really try to get your hands on this unique entry into the RPG world, and the Kickstarter currently running will provide the perfect avenue for that.

conf room

The game is already funded, even unlocking their first Stretch Goal, so you needn’t concern yourself that the game will never get made. The money for the project goes to pay for some refined artwork and to help fund some additional layout and editorial work. Having seen their product sample I can say that any extra attention to detail will only serve to polish an already solid product.

BACKER LEVELS OF NOTE

HIRED ~ $15
This is the level you back at to get a pdf copy of the game, stretch goals, and any supporting pdfs. A great entry point.

FULL BENEFITS ~ $20 (best value)
You get everything from the HIRED level but also access to one “print on demand” copy from Drive Thru RPG

I’d like to congratulate Mr. Cambell on his successful Kickstarter and simply state that you should get in there and back it while you can!

-Melvs

KICKSTARTER REVIEW:FAITH: A Garden in Hell

*Hey guys! Melvin here. So, the Acadecon 2016 Kickstarter has run its course…and FULLY FUNDED! So I will hopefully see you in November. If you missed the Kickstarter have no fear, you can still get a badge and attend. Just head over to the website and buy one. It’s also a good place to check out details for Dayton, look up hotel rooms, check the special guests, and even the schedule of events.*

Burning Games is back on the scene after successfully funding their 2015 Kickstarter run for FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG. FAITH Core is one of the best example of blending your standard Tabletop RPG with board game elements like decks of cards and card stock character sheets. This time they are attempting to fund a Starter Set and full campaign path for FAITH named A Garden in Hell.

Cover

Typically I start plugging Kickstarters I like day one but I took a measured approach to this one because I had a good feeling from the start that they’d hit their fund mark easily. I’m most likely not wrong either. With 23 days to go they already sit at 87% funded, more likely a “when are they going to fund” than an “if” at this point. Given the quality of  the parent system, check out my unboxing video for more on that, I have no doubt that A Garden in Hell will be one solid game. A perfect addition to someone’s library of games that wants an intro into this system for their players.

This new addition to the FAITH line isn’t just a Starter Set for those new to the game, it comes packed with new content so those who already own FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG are by no means left out.

Items like:

What's in it

I had the opportunity to see a preview copy of the actual Campaign book. The 30 pages previewed were detailed and helped explain gameplay well. Not to mention filled with the excellent artwork I’ve come to expect from Burning Games.

Scene 6

BACKER LEVELS OF NOTE (all prices are originally in Euros):

Skilled Gardner $33 ~ This is the first level that gets you a copy of the game, in addition to some preceding digital items. I like it because it creates a cheaper selection for a physical copy by removing any stretch goal rewards.

Relic Harvester $56 ~ Here’s the best choice for those truly interested in the game. You get a physical copy, all the digital items preceding, a comic book explaining the basic rules, and the RELIC stretch goals

There were some backer levels that got you a copy of the core game but those got snatched up pretty quick! Who knows, maybe a few more might open up. Keep tabs.

boar

Please do yourself a favor and check out this excellent game system with A Garden in Hell!

-Melvs

 

AcadeCon 2016: Leveling Up!

2016 flyer

Kickstarter Link

More than a year ago I found myself lucky enough to have been introduced to Michael and Caleb over at The RPG Academy and, by happenstance, join them on a few recorded actual plays, namely featuring projects introducing themselves to the world via Kickstarter. At the time The RPG Academy was doing pretty well for itself as a Podcast, but it was also pretty apparent that these two guys wanted to do more. Honestly, as someone who barely keeps up with Melvin Smif’s Geekery and my games stewardship work I have a hard time fathoming the work put into “just” a podcast, let alone tacking more on top of that. They had the hunger though, that much was easily visible.

In late 2014 I made a promise that I’d attend their 2015 AcadeCon convention. It sounded great to me, even if it was set to simply be held in one of their basements. I mean, Ohio was only about 4-5 hours away and I wanted to meet these guys face to face. Then… the rest of 2015 happened. Suddenly I’m an early member of The RPG Academy Network, and soon following I find they have bigger and better plans for AcadeCon than I could guess. A date is set, a venue (beyond the basement) is chosen, a Kickstarter is set up, and AcadeCon 2015: Into the Wilds is suddenly upon me roughly a year after I started even speaking with these two guys who I now considered fast friends.

Acadecon

AcadeCon 2015 was wonderful, a perfectly secluded gaming retreat that the new AcadeCon attendees of this year and future years will always kick themselves for missing out on. Truly it will be the “I was there when” place for AcadeCon. I adored the Hueston Lodge and wish I could get a few more years there but, as I’ve come to find with Michael and Caleb, the bar needs to be raised. This year things are growing, not too fast but we are certainly going to see a bigger, better convention. I for one am more than excited for the growth.

They don’t have it yet though, that’s where you all come into play. You see, for a convention to be successful you certainly need the things they already have lined up, merchants, a crazy fine list of special guests, a dedicated staff, a great venue, etc. They just need one last thing…you. The last puzzle piece to making AcadeCon 2016 as fantastic as possible is to rustle up some actual attendees!

The Kickstarter can do the best job of detailing everything you need to know about the convention on a macro level, like its truly inspirational abundance of special guests (I know I mentioned this before but it is really staggering all the cool folks they have lined up), but I want to mention a few things Melvin Smif’s Geekery specific you can enjoy.

  • The number one thing is that I’ll be there in the flesh if you’ve every wanted to meet me…or use me as a gateway to meeting someone else I know :P. To add to this I’m going to run something or many things depending on how things shake out. Hell, this year I’m bringing my Warmachine faction so if you’d like to whoop up on some elves come fight my RoS!
  • I’ll be running a contest connected to AcadeCon again, though I haven’t decided what that will entail just yet. So keep your eyes on the blog! Attendance of the Con won’t be necessary of course but it’d be awesome to hand you the prize(s) in person!
  • I’m one of the folks you can choose to run a virtual game for you and some friends. You can see it on the KS page but essentially for $100 (up to 5 people) I’ll run at LEAST a one shot adventure online for you all. If you buy my services we’ll chat about what we want to play, I’m open to just about any system, and set a date! I’m willing to travel a bit for this too mind you, if you live close enough I’ll show up in person.

This year is going to be awesome, I just know it. Can’t wait to see you there!

-Melvs

 

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

 

 

 

 

Unboxing & Review: FAITH The Sci-Fi RPG

The Book

Last night I finally got around to completing my Unboxing of this unique RPG. I’ll jump right to the meat of it, here’s the link.

 

 

Now, this was a great chance for you to see some of the excellent craftsmanship that went into this game (and a little plug for AcadeCon of course). I make no secret in the video that I feel this product is of the up-most quality. However! Doing a blind Unboxing like that has its pitfalls, I couldn’t recall how to play the dang game… and it showed. A smarter Kevin would have gone back to his original review that came out during the Kickstarter run of FAITH, and done a little refreshing. That guy wasn’t around last night, he wanted to try his hand at the Unboxing and chose to dive right in. Well, for those who want to know a little more about the actual game, you’re in luck. The Kevin of today is feeling a bit more polished. Let’s review this thing shall we?

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Flip the gameboard over and the other side is in Spanish, nice touch!

The punch-outs mentioned in the video (which I’ve just now taken a break and gleefully punched all of them out, flipping love punch outs!) are all for the players. Four boards of punch-outs contain this game’s version of a character sheet, only here it is a game board. Almost all of these pieces you can punch out have homes on this character game board. Utilize them to change stats with adjustable numbers, add or remove upgrade tokens, or when starting any game use the various character portraits to choose a look. Highly customize-able and useful for streamlining various aspects of the game.

Another item I got a mite wrong last night was a side comment where I mentioned that the cards in the player decks might be something that works alongside your typical dice mechanics. This was wrong, there are no dice mechanics, only cards are used. The cool thing about this is it will allow players to manage their own luck in a way. They have a hand of cards to choose from, if they really want to succeed they likely can. That’s not to say they might not also take chances with lower valued cards, or even get a bad draw. There is still an element of chance, the players just have a bit more control. One of the only things I have a quibble with in this aspect is that there isn’t a GM’s deck of cards as well in order to get a bit of the same fun. I know why things like this are done, it streamlines the GM process, but I like it when I get to roll dice, or in this case deal cards. Some will very much appreciate the way the GM gets to run things though. We do get the NPC deck, that is a really cool toy, so maybe I should just be happy and shut it eh?

You’ve seen all these physical items already though, I spent 19 minutes showing them to you (despite a bit of terrible lag… man I’m kinda bad at this). I want to chat a bit about the world of FAITH. Very much the Sci-Fi game it claims to be, FAITH takes place in a setting rich with multiple planets, sentient species (many playable races), and gods. Travel through space is done via a group of wormholes known as the Labyrinth. This connective travel network is alarmingly well put together, allowing for many theories to suggest intelligent design. A myriad of planets make up the habitable worlds that the six species you can play as live, work together, war together. The gods of FAITH are ever-present and have little to do with faith as we know it (despite the title of this game). They are attached to a believer via personality rather than choice and the gods expect you to follow their commandments. You are still left a choice however, you just might run into a very real consequence for disobedience. Some really interesting role-play opportunities there.

If I had to compare FAITH to anything in its “feel” I’d go with the Mass Effect series or maybe even Destiny. Fully Sci-Fi with a hint of supernatural flair to it. The game is it’s own deal though, a ton of newness surrounds FAITH. Both the mechanics and the fluff turn some typical RPG tropes on their ear. I fully suggest you give it a chance. I know I’m going to get around to running a game someday, let me know if you’ve been able to or if you have any more questions about it below!

Want to learn more about FAITH The Sci-Fi RPG? Check their site!

Want to buy it? Here’s the Webstore.

-Melvs