Friday, August 31, 2007

GenCon Post No. 3a: Clarifying What I Came Home With

I realized in my last post that I wasn't clear what it was I brought home with me.

Here's the full list of what I purchased at GenCon and what I ordered after seeing/hearing about it at GenCon:

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game. I've played it three times, now. It's growing on me. Some scenarios are harder than others, but the game itself has maintained its Fun Level. I expect to play this one regularly for a while.

Torg: Revised and Expanded. I've always had a soft spot for Torg. I'm looking forward to 2E, even though I'm not a fan of the West End Games d6 System.

Battlestar Galactica: The Roleplaying Game, along with the quick-start guide. I also purchased the Demon Hunters quick-start and their DVD (which included a print and some temporary tattoos).

After seeing them or hearing about them at GenCon, I bought or ordered:
The Lizardmen for Battleground: Fantasy Warfare. I would have bought these anyhow, but GenCon made me aware that they were now available.

Dark Heresy (the Warhammer 40k RPG) has been ordered.

Shadow Nations has been ordered, as have a number of supplements for Apophis Consortium's OTHER game, Obsidian: Age of Judgement. These guys have really good e-mail customer support, which is something I need to talk about sometime.

Hopefully this clears up any question about what I spent my money on.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

GenCon 2007 Post No. 3: The Buzz and What I Came Home With

GenCon has traditionally been a big convention for releases. Publishers who could release early will frequently hold off until GenCon to release new product. Others will make big announcements at GenCon. Sometimes, you need to ask questions to get the news. Here's a quick overview of what I caught (which isn't even close to everything):

The BIG news this year was (and is) D&D 4E. Wizards did a great job keeping the news under wraps, and it caught a lot of people off guard. I expect I'll have more to say about this in the future, but for now just look around the internet. There's a LOT of buzz about this out there.

Fantasy Flight Games announced that they'd picked up the rights to a number of old Eon games, including Dune (Re-themed, because the Herbert Estate will not license the setting). FFG released Starcraft: The Board Game at GenCon, as well as Dust. Several of their small-box games were there as well, and they had demos of Tannhäuser.

As I mentioned a few posts back, it seems to be a good year for zombies and the apocalypse. Apophis Consortium released Shadow Nations (which I have ordered). There was a booth for Alpha/Omega: The Game (I may have the title wrong on that, but I have the URL correct). Eden Studios continues to sell All Flesh Must Be Eaten (which is a great game). Last Night On Earth: The Zombie Game was a bit of a sleeper hit - prior to the show, it was basically an unknown. I bought it. It's fun. I do think they were partially aided by their booth location - right next to WotC.

I picked up Torg: Revised and Expanded from West End Games. They're hoping to have Torg Second Edition (using a modified D6 system) for GenCon next year.

Margaret Weis Productions had their Battlestar Galactica RPG available for purchase - I picked it up. It uses the same system as their Serenity RPG, which will also be used in their Supernatural game and in their Demon Hunters game. It's the same system Sovereign Stone used before it went d20. They also had some pre-release quick-start goodies for Demon Hunters. Having enjoyed the films, I had to pick these up.

The Lizardmen army for Battleground: Fantasy Warfare was released (and sold out) at GenCon. I missed it, but will get it at my local game store once it hits distribution.

On the Games Workshop Front (via some of their third-party/smaller publishers), Talisman was available to the first 50 people to reach the booth each day. I'm not sure if the Warhammer 40k RPG (Dark Heresy) was available or was just being demoed, but I'm certainly interested.

I haven't followed White Wolf for a while, but I couldn't miss the lines for their new version of Changeling.

And, finally, Mr. Jack saw its official US release. And sold like mad. It's a good game and I hope it continues to sell like mad.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

GenCon 2007 Post No. 2: What I Demoed

What I Demoed this year:

Going in, we knew The Plan - My wife was going to focus on Wicked Witches Way, and I was going to focus on Dungeon Twister.

As they say, however, no plan survives intact first contact with the enemy customers.

Games I ran demos for:
Dungeon Twister - Big surprise, there. I know. I love this game, but didn't get to play it as much this year - the other games in the booth were more popular, and our booth was CONSTANTLY packed.

Wicked Witches Way - My wife was theoretically in charge of demoing this one. It ended up working a bit differently, but we sold a fair number. A lot of people saw this as being "a kid's game." Stephanie set them straight pretty quickly on that front - while kids can play it, it's got enough depth to keep grownups occupied.

Wooly Bully - It's a simple tile-laying game with a few twists. I only got to demo this once this year, but it led to a sale. I like this game best with three, I think.

Mall of Horror - My wife spent a lot more time playing this than I did. It wasn't new for this year, but it'd been sold out at distributors for a while. It drew a constant audience and sold like crazy. I love this game.

Mission: Red Planet - This game was supposed to be at GenCon last year, but hadn't arrived from the publisher, yet. I enjoy this game, but after playing it at GenCon this year, I like it a bit less than I did before GenCon. It's not a bad game, I just looked forward to the other games more than I did this one.

Jungle Speed - The most dangerous game in the booth. Also a game that doesn't sell unless it gets demoed (and then it's difficult NOT to sell). We didn't have our usual demo table this year due to a mixup at the warehouse. Which is both good and bad - we really didn't have room for the demo table, due to the crowds who showed up for Mall of Horror and Ca$h 'n Gun$.

Mr. Jack - Asmodee is distributing but not publishing this. There has been a lot of demand for this game in the US, and it's easy to see why. My wife and I have had this game for six months, now, so we had a natural edge. I played more games of this than any other game at GenCon. And my enjoyment of it just grew as I played.

Age of Gods - There hasn't been much buzz on this one - we had the printer's proof at the booth. I played it two years ago with some friends, and very much enjoyed it. The game itself is very simple, but setup can be slow, and it's not the easiest game to explain. It's a bit too long to be able to demo effectively, but if you have the time, it's a lot of fun. I'll write more on this one once it's out and I have my copy.

Frontiers - I love miniatures games, but I don't always have the time to paint, and finding an opponent can be a real pain sometimes. Battleground: Fantasy Warfare has become one of my favorites, as I can carry six or seven armies in my pockets. And there's no painting necessary. Frontiers is a good intermediary step between Battleground and actual metal. The rules are simpler than Battleground, and the play feels more like a board game than a miniatures game.

Ave Caesar - I only played this a couple of times, but I'm starting to realize that there is a fair amount of depth hidden in this extremely simple package. Every time I demoed it, it led to a sale. I freely admit it: I disliked this game when I first played it. It was too simple and not competitive enough for me. But this GenCon, there were several instances where I was blocked out of the Caesar Lane, and so lost for not paying homage! Another time, I managed to have a hand of all sixes at the end, and so had to pass my turn until someone else passed me. I was two spaces from the finish line. I'll be writing an entire entry on Ave Caesar soon, I suspect.

Iliad - Our focus game from last year. I only played it two or three times this year, but each time was different. My wife has a better grasp of this than I do, so she regularly defeats me when we play. With two, it's ... okay. With three or more, it's a much better game. It has similarites to Condottiere, but there are some rather considerable differences as well.

Werewolves of Miller's Hollow - The late-night large group Convention Game. Seriously. The game holds (out of one box) 8-18 players, and is all about reading people effectively (and bluffing effectively). I'd love to play this game with a world-class Poker player sometime. We had one game of 28 people. It took two boxes and nearly two hours to complete. And everyone stuck around until the end. Even the dead. It came down to the final three, too.

Ca$h 'n Gun$ - This is one of my favorite filler games. It's fast and fun. The rules are simple enough that the basic game can be taught in about three minutes. The ease of demoing this game led to LOTS of sales. And four to six people in the middle of the booth pointing orange foam guns at one another drew constant crowds TO the booth. My only problem with this game is the minimum of four players.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

GenCon 2007 Post No. 1

GenCon is too big to cover in just one post. It just is.

A LOT of exhibitors reported this as their best GenCon ever. In my opinion, a large part of that was how they arranged the exhibit hall this year.

In past years, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) was more or less centrally located. This year, they were located back in a corner. This meant that they only had neighbors on two sides, which caused less traffic congestion throughout the entire hall and the "distracted by the WotC Booth" effect hit a smaller number of exhibitors.

They also set up a specific area in the exhibit hall for video and electronic games. This also aided congestion (although there was a constant crowd around Pirates of the Burning Sea and the Conan booths, because their models were there to be photographed with the public).

I saw more and more boardgamers this year. Part of that was due to where I was working, but I saw fewer RPG booths this year. The booths I did see all seemed to be post-apocalyptic RPG's. Zombies also seem to be having a boom year.

A friend of mine who works for Warehouse 23 (or, more accurately, e23) commented on the growing number of women at GenCon. It was noticable, even to me - and this was only my third GenCon. And the "gamer funk" aroma associated with GenCon in the past was also noticeably down. I wonder if these two are related ...

I also saw more minorities this year - the vast majority of people attending GenCon were still Caucasians, but I saw more color in the crowd this year. Which is a good thing.

In my later post(s), I'll discuss what I demoed, who I demoed with and who I met.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Finally Home

I'm home, and I've got a lot to say about GenCon this year. But I'm totally exhausted, so it'll be a day or two before I can assemble my thoughts into a coherent whole.

Look for a post later this week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Layout Tweak

I've added the Technorati tag cloud at the bottom - just to see if it works. I tried it once before, and it hadn't worked. So if it doesn't work out, I'll end up just clearing it again.

Leaving for GenCon tomorrow, so don't expect any posts until I return next week.

I'll be keeping Twitter a bit more up-to-date, as it doesn't require an internet connection.

Monday, August 13, 2007

You Got Your Fandom In My Dungeon Twister!

I was asked the other day why I hadn't created lists of "custom" characters for use with DT - it's because I generally find that sort of thing silly. When Magic: The Gathering first hit, there were thousands of fan-created sets online, most of which were badly broken and nearly unplayable. With the advent of Heroscape, particularly Marvel Heroscape, people are doing the same thing again, in order to see their favorite character/setting/whatever in a playable form.

I also know that Chris has 20+ sets already mapped out in his head, so I won't run out of new and interesting characters - and I don't want to duplicate something he's already dreamed up.

Another problem is that Dungeon Twister doesn't lend itself as well to this sort of modification. Most Superheroes will be significantly more powerful than your average DT character - or else you need to ignore one or more of their powers to make them balanced. Can you imagine Superman as a DT character? You'd need to introduce Kryptonite as an item AND as a board element. And that's just for one character!

That said, however, my wife and I spent part of this weekend brainstorming. Just to see what we could come up with.

Please keep in mind: I am not laying claim to ownership or rights of any of these characters. I won't even pretend I have permission to use them. Nor are we suggesting these to Christophe Boelinger - he may come up with a character who duplicates one or more of these in some manner, but it will be his own idea, not mine. For all I know, he may already have used one or more of these special abilities in an upcoming set.

Obviously, these characters are not tournament legal.

Source: Marvel Comics
Movement 4, Strength 2
Special Abilities:
Wall-Crawling - All squares which are adjacent to a wall are treated as normal floor squares for Spider-Man.
Spider Sense - Spider-Man is +2 Strength when defending.

Source: The Princess Bride
Movement 2, Strength 2
Special Abilities:
Crowd-Fighter - Fezzik is +2 in combat for each adjacent opponent past the first.

Inigo Montoya
Source: The Princess Bride
Movement 3, Strength 1
Special Abilities:
Sword Master - Inigo Montoya gains +2 Strength when holding a sword, in addition to the +1 normally conferred by the weapon. This bonus applies both to attack and defense.

Source: Discworld
Movement 4, Strength 1
Special Abilities:
Wizzard - Rincewind may attempt to use Magical items. If he does so, flip a coin. If the coin is heads, the item is used normally. If tails, the item is removed from play.
Luggage - The Luggage may treat any square adjacent to Rincewind as though it is a normal floor square.

The Luggage
Source: Discworld
Movement: 3, Strength 5
Special Abilities:
Loyal - The Luggage may only attack characters who have attacked Rincewind.
Carrying Capacity - The Luggage may carry an unlimited number of items. It may not use or benefit from any item.
Property - The Luggage is worth 0 VP if it escapes the maze.


I could go on for a while.

Here's what I learned when doing this:
1) Chris has a tough job. It's not easy making characters who aren't 58/58 Invulnerable Monsters. It's also difficult keeping them balanced. I can't imagine creating eight unique characters PLUS objects PLUS rooms for more than a set or two at most. Much less coming up with the rules in the first place.
2) Special abilities are hard. You can't overload characters with abilities, but you can't short-change them, either. The "Decks" section here is teams people have created for use in DT. Not all of them are tournament legal, but it's still interesting to see which characters are getting use and which are not - based on their abilities and how they blend with the rest of the team.
3) The best fit for fan-created DT characters based on literature (or film or other fandom of choice) are those from a low-magic (or no-magic) setting. I can see potential for several Monty Python characters. Harry Potter, on the other hand, would be a pain to accurately model - there's just too much magic flying around in Harry's world.
4) Chris has a difficult job. I know this was point number one, but it was important enough that I thought it bears repeating. I don't envy him the hours of work he's put into DT, but I am a great deal more thankful (and aware) than I was a few weeks ago.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Game Snobbery

Last night, I had a chance to play Igor: The Mad Scientist's Lament. I was discussing it later with my wife, and I said, "It's a good filler, but gameplay could get pretty repetetive pretty quickly. I don't think I could play it more than two or three times in a month. It's just too light and there are too few strategic decisions to be made."

She used one of her standard responses, "Game snob."

I always argue with her that I'm not a snob. That I'll play nearly anything at least once.

But she does have a point:

I don't generally like light filler games. Party games are playable occasionally. There are three games that I've rated "1" on the 'Geek. Two of them are party games, and the other is a filler.

There are faster-playing games that I like better than these.

Here are a few filler games I enjoy:
Mamma Mia! - It's fairly quick and simple. My group enjoys it. I enjoy it. It takes less than an hour to play, even with the expansion (Sole Mio!) mixed in.

No Thanks! - It's very simple. And extremely cutthroat. My group gets particularly ruthless at this game.

Coloretto - It's quick and simple and cutthroat. There's a bit of push-your-luck to it, but there's a fair amount of screw-your-neighbor as well.

Mmm... Brains! - I'm a fan of Knizia's games. This is something I taught my co-workers to play in less than ten minutes, and we'd finished a game in 15.

Each of these games plays in less than half an hour, and they're small enough I can haul them with me anywhere. Each of them also includes genuine strategic decisions. There's a fair amount of luck in each of them, but you can make decisions w hich decrease the impact of that luck.

These are what I look for in a game. I'm not a fan of "roll-and-move" games unless there is choice or genuine strategy involved.

It may be snobbery, but I consider it a matter of preference.

Also? I love my wife, even if we don't always agree.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dungeon Twister Federation

Here's a question for you:

How many of you reading this have requested Judge status from Asmodee?

Anyone out there know how many of Asmodee's DT judges are in the US?

There is a list of 84 judges - I recognized only a handful of names (Michael Victorine among them - Mike, did YOU remember that you're a qualified judge?)

See, I've managed to fall in with a group who are trying to put together an international Dungeon Twister federation - something I wholly support.

And there's no central location for English speakers to go. The official site hasn't been updated in English for a while. Asmodee US has more games to promote than just DT.

So now I'm looking for some webspace. Possibly a domain. And some forum software.

I was also reminded: I can run tournaments as far South as Portland, without any problems at all. I need to do that.

I also need to convince my wife to register for the official forums AND request Judge status so SHE can run tournaments (and I can play).

Also need to convince Jim (in California) that he can run tournaments, too.

Lots to do.

GenCon is in just over a week.