Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thank You!

According to Google Analytics, my readership is up about 40% this year when compared to last year. Last year was up 40% over the year before.

More of you are reading me, more of you are linking to me, and a few of you are even discussing me.

Either way, thank you. It's been a good year, and next year looks to be even better. With a bit of luck, I'll be at more conventions.

That said, here are my game-related New Year's Resolutions:
Play All Newly Acquired Boardgames Within A Month of Purchase - This is a re-run from 2009. With exceptions made for GenCon purchases, it went pretty well. There are a few games that got backburnered, but not many. In general, I've played more games this year than in prior years - and loved every minute of it.

Continue Tracking Games Played on BoardGameGeek - This year, I struck a good balance between obsessive attention to detail (there are people who track their scores and who they've played) and not tracking. This year, I've tracked every game played and where it was played. I plan to continue this.

Finish A Project - As I mentioned last week, I've got a lot of irons in my fires. This year, I plan to finish one.

Put Some Games In Storage - There are games that we just don't play. Usually because they're bad games, but sometimes because someone just doesn't like them. Or because they don't fit my group's demographics (I only get to play as many two-player games as I do because I make a specific effort to do so). Currently, my small apartment is filled with games. I need to make room for the living.

Continued My Weekly Update Schedule - I've been updating weekly with only a few hiccups here and there. I plan to continue because (as noted at the beginning), it's working for me.
I'm dropping my RPG one-shot resolution - I plan to do more one-shots last year, but I'm not letting them put the brake on my purchasing. Especially with the advent of the .pdf game book.

If you lack plans for New Year's Eve, we are still having our annual Game All Night gathering. We'd love to have some fresh faces with new games (and old classics).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Game Design and Next Year and Me

This year, I've had some interesting brushes with game design.

They are interesting enough to me that I've made a resolution for next year.

Next year, I am going to finish one of my game-related projects.

My solo play cards for Dungeon Twister are nearly done - I have playtesters looking at the first batch. I still need to come up with a few special abilities for some of the "classic" characters, but a lot of progress has been made.

I have two board games which are nearly ready. Both of them have rules, but I need to balance them and then ... playtest.

I also wrote a scenario for Claustrophobia, and I hope to have it looked at by someone official. If they don't want it, I'll probably throw it at BoardGameGeek.

I have a few RPG-related projects partially-completed, too. I'll probably end up using FUDGE, Cortex, or a hybrid of the two for at least one of them. One of them is being written with Cortex in mind.

My wife gave me the Amber Diceless RPG for Christmas. I can see why it became such a huge hit. It's still available in .pdf format (legally) if you poke around a bit.

My gaming next year: I have a Cthulhutech one-shot scheduled for January. Other than that, I'm wide open. Hopefully, we'll see some Dungeon Twister expansions this year.

Beyond that ... I don't know. My job allows me to accrue a maximum of 120 hours of vacation time per year, and it looks like I will be capping out in June. Perhaps I should find some conventions to attend earlier in the year - any suggestions?

I expect that next year, I will spend more money on RPG .pdf files than I have for the last few years. Once I get that Kindle DX I've been eying, my RPG purchases will explode. I should write about that sometime ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Sometimes, I grow hopeful that boardgaming is starting to gain more and more mainstream acceptance.

I see Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan on the XBox. I see Purple Pawn's regular "Game Pimping Roundups" which are lists of mainstream articles about hobby games. I see that my readership is up 40% over last year - mostly due to Google searches for specific games. This means that more people are using Google to look for some of these games.

Then I see articles like this. Purple Pawn linked to it on the 8th, and it's been picked up by several other hobby sites (including BGG) as well.

Purple Pawn summarized their reviews as follows:
•Loopit: Grade A. “Loopit is like Scrabble, only for people who don’t want to fight with their relatives over a word choice.”
•Clue: the Office: Grade A. “The weapons are all inside jokes for those who watch the show and kept us laughing.”
•WordQuest: Grade B. “Attractive, easy to learn and play.”
•Pandemic: Grade C. “Pandemic is too complicated. Just setting up the board took half an hour the first time, thanks to multiple sets of cards, cubes, tokens and pawns.”
•Pop the Pig: Grade D. “A few minutes of entertainment for smaller children.”
•Incan Gold: Grade F. “Our 16-year-old was writhing on the floor with frustration because after 25 minutes, we still couldn’t figure out how to start the game and play the first round.”
•Ticket to Ride: Grade F. “Unnecessarily complicated. There are no dice or “action” modes.”
When I read the summaries, I wanted so very badly to believe that the writers over at Purple Pawn were exaggerating. Sadly, they weren't. If anything, these summaries understate some of the original descriptions of the game.

I disagree with the vast majority of these grades. Well, on the games with which I am familiar. I don't know Loopit or Pop the Pig.

That said, however, the response from the gaming community has been exactly the sort of response that will keep us a niche hobby. Gamers have responded by attacking the writers, including attacks suggesting that the Goliath Games were rated highly because of writer bias. In fact, it has become the target of a great deal of "Nerd Rage." While some of the comments were genuinely calm and reasonable, many of them were not. And some of the calm posts contained subtle attacks.

Even people who I generally like and respect posted attacks on the reviewers. The most beautiful attack1: "There's a reasonable chance that this is the most misinformed review of anything ever." The rest of the comment is fine - but the attacking opening sentence means that the original writers are unlikely to ever see it.

To grow the hobby, we need to be seen as a welcoming group. Eight pages of (mostly) attack comments and mockery do not make us seem very welcoming.

1 There is a specific reason for this phrasing. If you don't get it, it's not aimed at you.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Geekiest Refrigerator Around

DT Magnets!

In October, I won some Bohnanza magnets in this lottery. The actual lottery item is down, now, but you get the point.

The GG lotteries, BTW, are addictive. You take fake BGG-only money and turn it into games! If you win. There is a subscription thread here, if you want to keep track.

But that's beside the point.

I asked the member offering the magnets if he could do other games as well.

"Sure," he said, "Just give me an image I can work with."

So I scanned some DT tokens. Sixty of them, actually - the Base Set and 3/4 Player Expansion (including the square action markers). I sent him the link, and he set to work.

The magnets weren't free, but you can see some of the results above. I'm very happy with the results.

I now have the geekiest refrigerator you are ever likely to encounter:


Oh - before I forget - someone on BoardGameGeek posted this link, which shows Games Workshop's stock prices. They're down 20 (British Pounds, I assume) since they issued the BGG C&D. Or, more accurately, since the C&Ds they've issued over the last few weeks became such significant news across the gaming blogosphere.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Why I'll Still Play Games Workshop's Games

The World's Ugliest Trophy

I'm sure a number of you have heard about the recent Cease & Desist letter received from Games Workshop.

A lot of users - myself included - are calling for a boycott of GW and their games. Yes, I said "Myself included." In fact, the discussion has already made me publicly angry, something that doesn't happen very often. So this post is the last word I'm going to have on this subject for now1. Because I do stupid things when I lose my temper.

Here is the letter I sent GW:
To Whom It May Concern,

I am a Games Workshop customer, and have been for many years, now. I had a great run with my Warhammer Fantasy Battle Undead (later Vampire Counts) army, as well as my WH40k Squats army (for the short time it lasted). I have also run several local leagues for Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Mordheim.

Recently, I have also enjoyed a number of GW-licensed products (including the Warhammer RPG, Chaos in the Old World Board Game, and the new Living Card Game) which were produced by Fantasy Flight Games.

I am not by any stretch your biggest customer, but I have been a reliable customer for well over twenty years, and have spent several thousand dollars over that period of time. I have also, by running leagues, encouraged a number of my friends to invest in GW products as well.

However, your recent actions towards fan-created materials on and other sites (see and are troublesome. For the last several years, many of these (now removed) resources have been nearly critical in the running of my leagues. They’ve provided a wealth of non-official ideas, variants, scenarios, and so on.

It is beginning to seem as though you have lost sight of the fact that gaming is a niche industry that is driven by hobbyists and enthusiasts.

To that end, I am joining the rising number of voices who are participating in a boycott of your products (and those products based on GW-licensed products), and I will be encouraging my friends to do the same. I have no beef with Fantasy Flight Games, and will continue to purchase their (non-GW-licensed) product.

I will be watching BoardGameGeek (and other sites) for signs of a change or reversal in your policy. Should that change come, I will end my boycott.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

Eric Franklin
So why do I say I'm going to continue playing their games? Simple: I sank a lot of money into them. There will be some changes, however:
I won't be buying any more GW product. This gives money to GW.
I won't play in GW stores. This serves as a "living advertisement" for GW. This gives money to GW.
I won't buy GW-licensed products. I was excited about the upcoming Blood Bowl game for the XBox 360, but I won't be purchasing it, now.
I won't be running any new leagues for Necromunda, Blood Bowl, Mordheim, Gorkamorka, or Battlefleet Gothic. Otherwise, one of my friends might spend money on GW product.

Are there GW games I still want to buy? Yes. But I'm not giving them any money until they learn not to attack their fans.

But I'll still play 'em. Because some of them are a lot of fun.

1 It's worth noting: Mr. Nikitas (Luftwaffe Flak on BGG) was correct. I should not have called out the dollar amount he donated. It brought nothing to the argument and made me seem like I was trying to seem better than him. My wife asked me point-blank what I meant by it, and what I meant didn't require calling him out. For the record: I already sent him a private apology by e-mail.