Wednesday, January 29, 2014

500 Posts

According to Google, this is post number 500 for this blog.  When I started here a few years ago, I'd never have guessed I would hit this point.

While I haven't always been the best blogger on the internet, I sure have enjoyed the journey this far. And I appreciate every single pair of eyes to have wandered by. Through this blog, I have made a number of friends, many of whom I have later been able to meet in person. So thank you. I really appreciate you - even when you don't comment.

I'll be doing a bit of housekeeping over the next few weeks. The biggest change is the Google ads will be going away - they aren't really doing anything for me, and so I won't miss them. Most of you seem to be reading via RSS, so you shouldn't notice a difference.

I'm also going to go through and tune the "Key Posts" I have linked at the left - some of them are out of date. And there are a few newer posts that I'm rather proud of.

Next week, I'll be back to talking about games. I have a few that I can't wait to take for a spin ...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kickstarter Status Update

I'm going to try to update this quarterly so that I can keep you all informed without spamming you with a steady stream of Kickstarter information.

Recently Arrived/Shipped
Chronicles of the Void - funded 8/21/11.  The only part of this project still outstanding is the soundtrack, which is a low priority for me. I was on the verge of giving up on this one when we got the PDF a few months back.

Rivet Wars - and it's as cute as I thought it'd be. I hope to get it to the table soon. Of note, so far I only have the base box. There's a bunch of promo stuff to follow. The game itself is ... okay.  But it's very cute, and I bought it because I enjoy painting cute things, even if I am way out of practice.

Oh My God! There's An Axe In My Head! - The game I thought was cursed. I was sure I'd never see this one.  And, having played it ... it's going to go on the shelf. It's too luck-driven with several counter-intuitive strategy ideas and I find myself really disliking the treaty connections the more I think about them.

Twin Tin Bots - this game has restored my faith in Kickstarter as a place to find fun board games. Miskatonic School for Girls almost caused me to give up. Dragon Whisperer was mediocre.  This game, however, is a ton of fun. It's almost a Robo Rally lite - only it's not a race and there's no randomness to the game.  It's all about effective programming.

Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination - Based on the Machine of Death books (which I heartily recommend). I haven't even read the rules of this one, yet, but I'm looking forward to taking it for a spin.

The Card Game of Oz - this one was backed on my wife's account at my urging. I'm a sucker for Oz-related things which tie back to the books instead of to the movie (not that the movie was bad - I'm just a fan of the books).  Again, I haven't read the rulebook, yet, but it does look like fun. And - again - I'm a sucker for Oz.

Due Soon
Motobushido - the designer actually has this in his hands. It's my fault I don't have this one, because I told him I'd pick it up in person.  It just means getting to Portland. I already have the PDF, and I had a chance to play this with friends a few months back. It was the art that initially sold me on this one, but the meat of the game will keep me coming back.

Atlantis: The Second Age - I'll back Jerry's Kickstarter projects. Because he fulfills them, and (so far) the games have been fun.  This should be shipping soon.

Past Due But No Concerns
Alas, Vegas- I trust James Wallis. It's that simple.  When he ran Hogshead, there were delays on products all the time - but they made it to market and were worth the wait. I backed this as more of a "Yay! James Wallis!" than as a "I can get a game!"

Tales from the Floating Vagabond - Lee apparently spent some time in the hospital, so this is understandably delayed. I'm a fan of the original game, and I backed this out of nostalgia.  I honestly don't care if it ever appears - if it does, I'll be thrilled, but the original game is a ton of fun. And  - looking at the project, it's not due until April.  So it's not even past due, yet.

Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition - Chaosium will get this out. Eventually. I only backed for PDFs, and they were due in October. But I'll get them when they drop.

Tunnels & Trolls - Much like many other projects, this has been plagued by illness on the part of the project creators. But Richard Loomis has been doing this for a while, and I trust him.

Knight's Quest - It's a card game.  They suggested December delivery, so it's not that late yet - I would appreciate some updates, though. The last update was on October 31 and said they'd be shipping by December 7 (which didn't happen).

Ortus - this one blew up bigger than the designer expected.  It was due in November, but he's done a great job of keeping us updated. And there has been progress.

Guide to the Village by the Sea - As I said above: Not worried.  Lillian is a trustworthy person who has been very busy of late.  But she's doing a good job of keeping folks updated on progress.

13 True Ways - If this had been out on time, it would have been out before the core book it's a supplement for.  I've seen playtest material for this one, and I know they're working on it.  Another team I trust to get it done.

Horror on the Orient Express - another Chaosium project. This pre-dates the 7th edition of CoC, but, again, they'll get it. And it'll probably be worth the wait, too.

Nightfall - this was a horror setting for 13th Age, which is one of the best (if not the best) RPG books we've acquired in the last few years.  And the original writer realized he couldn't handle it and handed it off to Nocturne to finish.  And Nocturne has been doing a decent job of keeping backers informed and (apparently) of making progress on the book.

Formula E - Game Salute. So it'll eventually drop. Maybe. But they have been updating us - and, realistically, this game looks like it'll be worth the wait.

Starting To Worry
Synnibarr - I backed it half as a joke. Because it's Synnibarr.  The game is legendary in role-playing circles, and not for the reasons the designer wants, either.  But the PDF we have is art-free, and I have no idea if that's a final PDF or not. And there's been no peep about the finished books. And there've been problems with some backers getting T-Shirts.

Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide - I have the PDF. In fact, I've had the PDF for a good long while. The last word we had suggested print copies last November.  But nothing, yet.

Emperor's New Clothes - I spent $5 on this for a bumper sticker.  I'm not worried about my $5 - but other backers backed for more bits.  This project was, in part, Game Salute's kicking off a new "bits" program. Given the fact that this project was to give backers white bits, and it's not filled yet, I'm not so sure it was actually successful.

Storm Hollow - Game Salute has not exactly been fast at filling their Kickstarter projects.  In fact, I'm exceedingly unlikely to back any more of them because of their high speed of fulfillment.  This stuff is likely to just wander onto a back shelf when it gets here.  Which is sad, because it had potential.

The Reliquary - a book of magic items for 13th Age.  It blew up well past their expected target, and they've been scrambling to get it out. They have been hit-or-miss with updates, but their updates (when they give them) have been very informative and detailed.

Ruse - a Steampunk Murder Mystery Card Game.  What could go wrong?  Game Salute. As of the 20th, they are supposedly shipping from the manufacturer.  We'll see.

Where Is My Stuff!?!
Powerchords - This has, for me, become the poster child for Kickstarters gone wrong.  It didn't smash its goal. It wasn't a runaway success. It just ... hasn't delivered. The designer pops up every now and again to let us know he's working on this or that. We have a photo of a stack of paper that is reportedly the manuscript - but it's not edited or printed. And we don't have PDFs, yet.

Far West - This ... I ... I like GMS' other work. Hong Kong Action Theatre! was very good, for example.  And, in person, I like GMS. We've met a couple of times, and he's never failed to be polite, smiling, and talkative. Admittedly, it's been at a convention setting and he's been working a booth.  But this project.  Several times, he's said, "The PDF should be out by [DATE]" - and, obviously, it hasn't. It's been a long string of broken release dates. This last week, we did get a 65-page sample. Two days after the latest broken date. And the sample is good.  The game looks like it'll be solid. But he really needs to finish it. And get it to us.

Witch Girls Book of Shadows - He's offered refunds on Facebook, but not on KS itself. The last update was in June, where he reported that his previous printer had gone out of business. Has he found a new printer? Given up completely? This was due in October of 2012.

Top This! - This game is by Yves Tourigny, who is a good designer.  So I know it'll be fun. When it eventually appears.  They broke a four month silence last week to let us know that their first production copy should be to them any day now. I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gamethyme's Game of the Year - Early Front-Runners

So last week, I talked about what I was looking forward to in 2014.  Something else I do here, as you know, is give out my own personal Game of the Year award for the new-to-me game I most enjoyed in the year leading up to GenCon.

Since we're almost half-way to GenCon (seven months to go!), I thought I'd talk a bit about the games which I've played at (or since) GenCon that are likely to be on my short list:

Last Week's List - All of the games I'm excited about for this year are likely to make the short list for next year.  Assuming they make it out by GenCon (and they should). Especially Room 25 and Expedition: Northwest Passage.

Le Fantôme de l’Opéra is the latest in the Mr. Jack line of games.  And I've played it a dozen times at or since GenCon.  It's similar enough to Mr. Jack that it was quick to learn, but it's different enough that mastery will take time.

The Duke is the game I didn't see coming.  When I saw that Catalyst Game Labs was doing a board game, I was skeptical. Battletech and Leviathans are not really the kind of game I enjoy a ton of these days. High School Drama was not a game I enjoyed at all.  Poo was done by the Cthulhutech team, so I don't really think of it was being a Catalyst game.  Ergo was ... so/so.  So The Duke was a pleasant surprise.

Chicken Caesar was also a bit unexpected.  A fun game about Roman politics?  The Chicken theme is paper-thin, here, but that doesn't weaken the game.  The more I play this one, the more I learn about it (and the more I want to play again).

Twin Tin Bots is the game that restored my faith in Kickstarter as a place to find good games. I used to love Robo Rally, back in the mid-nineties.  I was pretty good at it, too.  This reminds me of a lighter, faster-playing Robo Rally. Saying this, I am all-too aware of the fact that saying this will turn Robo Rally haters away from this one - which is a shame.  I've played this half a dozen times so far, and plan to play it a whole bunch more.  And even Robo Rally haters have enjoyed playing this game with me.

Rampage is another fun one. It's a dexterity game that has some strategy to it. It almost takes more time to set up than it does to play. But you can't beat the theme of monsters smashing a city - and the theme is very well-integrated here, too.  I can't imagine this game with a different theme.

As with any game, there is always the fear of burnout if these games are played too much. And I may also find a flaw that one or two quick plays won't reveal.  But - as of right now - these are the games I'm most enjoying.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

2014: Games I Am Looking Forward To

Last year was filled with some really good games - both board and roleplaying.  This year looks like it'll be as good if not better.

Here's what I'm looking forward to playing in the next year:

Room 25 - I know this came out a while ago, but I worked on it and, for some reason, didn't get my copy when it first came out.  It was a surprise hit of sorts and the first print run sold out. This surprised the publisher, but not me - this was the game I worked on that I was most interested in because the rules just sounded fun. It's a game that handles co-operative play, semi-cooperative play, and team play.  My copy is enroute to me, now and I can't wait to get it to the table.

Concept - it's not out, yet. I read the rules and was only so-so on it, but the more I think about this game, the more I'm looking forward to it.  It's a "guess the word" game with a pretty cool twist - the board is covered with symbols, and you place markers and cubes to indicate what you want the other players to guess.

Corto - this game is based on a French comic strip. The first book is available in English. I'm not all that fond of the book - but the game has some interesting ideas that look like a lot of fun to play.  It's not out yet in North America, but I hope to have it by my birthday.

Expedition: Northwest Passage - Another game released late last year that is now on its way to me.  This is a game of exploration with a theme related to Franklin's Lost Expedition - one of many expeditions who went searching for the Northwest Passage.  In this game, you need to keep track of the season so you can best-use your crew to try to find the Northwest Passage and return home safely.

Nations - the first game on the list I didn't work on. This is another release from late last year that has been getting really good reviews. I asked for a copy, not expecting to actually get one - but it's on its way. In large part because I'll be demoing it at GenCon next year, I assume.

Odds are good that some (or all) of these will be on the short list for my Game of the Year which, as you know, I announce at GenCon in August. In the meantime, keep an eye on my Games Played for some or all of these to appear.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A New Year

Welcome to 2014.

I have plans and plans and plans for this year - let's see how many of them I can pull off, shall we?

I also have a sizable package of new games that I should have before you see this post. With a little bit of luck, I'll have played them last night.

I've seen rules for a fair number of games, and I have information on a fair number more.  I'm not going to say I haven't seen a few that aren't to my liking, but - for the most part - the games I've seen have been strong contenders.

If this year lives up to what I've seen so far, it's going to be a good one.

Thank you all - again - for continuing to read my scrawlings from this corner of the internet.

And, for those of you who are new, here?  I'm Eric.  I am often part of Asmodee's localization team, and am nearly always part of their demo team. My wife helps with both, and I am a very lucky man.

I like games where skill beats luck more often than the other way around, but I'm not completely luck-averse.  I love Chess (and its traditional regional variants), but I'm not very good at them. I am _really_ bad at dexterity games, but I love some of them.

I host a weekly game gathering at Phoenix Games in Mukilteo, Washington. Every Wednesday, we gather and play, and we generally have between twelve and thirty folks turn up.  The group has been together for more than ten years, now - since before Brian opened Phoenix Games, in fact.

My primary non-gaming hobbies are photography and snarking. I have a weakness for classic cameras, and have cameras that take five or six different formats of film. And by "take," I mean "require."  It means my film cabinet is ... diverse. And hardcore photography geeks like spending time with me because I like using the cameras (and letting my trusted friends snap a few shots here and there).

This blog updates on Wednesdays and is focused on non-collectible analog gaming. And - more and more frequently - my experiences with Kickstarter.