Geek and Sundry

 

Geek and Sundry

WATCH: You Must Save the Day… with Fruit Pie (#WednesdayClub One-Shot)

Dec 19 2018

The Wednesday Club is Geek & Sundry’s weekly talk show chatting about all things comics. Hosts Taliesin, Amy, and Matt discuss comics history, trends and mythology – offering a deep-dive into the illustrated world that’s suitable for newbies and seasoned readers alike.

It was a day like any other in the Clubhouse… until Taliesin, Matt, and Amy realized they were out of their favorite Unbranded brand fruit pies! Faced with a sucrose shortage, they had no choice but to fruitfully fantasize about their favorite superheroes saving the day with the coveted confection!

How would YOU save the day with fruit pie? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to join The Wednesday Club Live every Wednesdays at 7pm PT on Alpha or Twitch. Don’t have an Alpha subscription? New members get a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com!

MORE COMIC GOODNESS!

The Mystery and Magic Behind Ray Fury’s KINGDOM Series

Dec 18 2018

Each week on Twitch and Alpha, hosts Erika Ishii and Trisha Hershberger talk video games with special industry guests, insightful coverage and a ton of audience interaction on our show Game Engine. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday starting at 4 PM PT to learn about what’s new and cool in the world of video games.

I’m kind of obsessed with Raw Fury’s Kingdom series. The latest game, Kingdom Two Crowns just released and I’ve already lost an embarrassing amount of hours to it. These micro-strategy, pixel-art games are simplistic in playstyle, yet strategic and challenging and I CAN’T seem to stop playing. This fact is truly bizarre since most of the games are rogue-likes, a particular genre of game where death is permanent and often there is no end and I am NOT a fan of these kinds of games. So what is it that keeps drawing me back like a moth to a pixelated flame?

Let’s investigate.

Kingdom

Like I said, the original Kingdom and its sequel, Kingdom: New Lands, are rogue-likes. You play as the monarch of a land that has seen some rough days. Your people are beggars and your city is nothing but a campfire, but you can work with this. You pay your few followers to work as builders or archers and start constructing walls to keep you safe. The night is long and dark and there are creatures which scurry within the shadows; doing their best to bring about your downfall. The main aim of Kingdom games is to see how long you can survive the onslaughts of these creatures known only as the Greed, before they burst through your defenses and steal away your crown.

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Playing the game is simple. You move left or right and can throw money. That’s it. As a monarch, your only method of interaction with the world is to toss gold coins. Back and forth, coin purse in hand, there is nothing I’ve described so far that could explain why the game is as compelling as it is, right? Well for me, the essence of the lure is the mystery of it all. The game only tells you the bare essentials (how to move, build, and hire), but there are a lot of clues to found that hint a deeper story. These tidbits of information keep me asking questions and playing along to see ifI can discover any answers.

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For instance, when you first start the game you meet a ghostly figure who leads you to your camp. Who is this ghost? Well as soon as you die the first time and start again, the ghost seems to be of your old character, so it seems to suggest that the first ghost was a previous ruler. There are some online theories that suggest more to the story however. As you run yourself back and forth, growing your Kingdom, you’ll eventually come across a particular armored horse  that stands in the middle of a battlefield. Perhaps this past king or queen did not perish at the hands of the Greed, but instead to an invading army? Who were they? What happened? These questions feed into another interesting theory which might be answered by discovering more about the Greed.

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What are the Greed? These strange goblin-like creatures enter our Kingdom via portals and their goals see to be to steal anything of value; coins, important people, and your precious, precious crown. You can kill greedlings and close their portals, but eventually, they always find their way back.

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The newest installment in the series, Kingdom Two Crowns, changes things up by allowing you to finally defeat the Greed once and for all, but even in your victory you never learn much more about these sticky-fingered creatures. My running theory is that there was once two kingdoms and, in their lust for power and resources, they waged a bitter war against each other. Ultimately all involved were either slain or became penniless wanderers, leaving behind the battlefield mentioned above. The spirits of the dead were transformed by their greed into monsters and inhabit an alternate realm; something akin to the Treasure Goblins of Blizzard’s Diablo series. Always wanting, always waiting for nightfall so that they might prey those that survived… or maybe they’re just creepy little goobers who like shinys. Who can say?

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One more question to ponder: What are the statues? In the woods reside statues filled with magic that can make your walls stronger, your soldiers more effective, and make your crops more bountiful. Some fans believe these were built by a previous monarch and are representations of the gods of the land. Each bringing for a blessing when you sacrifice your only resource, gold. There is one statue though that leaves me wondering. On the last island of the 2nd game, appropriately known as Skull Island, sits a statue holding an hourglass. Sand pours forth from the glass and, if you don’t continually sacrifice to it, the sand will eventually run out and you will lose. Is the statue of an angered god? Is it cursed? I crave knowledge of these things!

Many of my questions, oh heck probably all of them, will never be answered, but the open nature of the story lets me come up with my own ideas about the lore of Kingdom. As long as Raw Fury keeps the mini-mysteries coming, I’ll keep running to and fro throwing gold coins like Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth. Now I feel compelled to yell “Booker catch!” as I play.

These are just a few questions and theories, but there are plenty more to discover in the series. Are there games with questions that make you crave more? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tune into Game Engine on Twitch and Alpha for more video game goodness every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT.

WANT MORE VIDEO GAME GOODNESS?

Image Credits: Raw Fury

Hailing from New York, Jessica Fisher is a writer, artist, and all around geek. In addition to Geek & Sundry, she writes for Gameosity.com and produces the Gameosity Reviews Youtube Channel. Find her talking about all things geeky on Twitter as @miniktty.

These Contest-Winning D&D Monsters Are Not For the Faint of Heart

Dec 18 2018

You may remember in October when we told you about the incredible monster design contest sponsored by Wizards of the Coast and Adobe Photoshop. The winner and honorable mentions are here, and they are terrifying!

The top prize monster is something you never want to come across in a dark cavern. Or anywhere. Winner Will Kalkanis created a massive, glistening, spine-crawling monstrosity that will now lurk forever in the Undermountain–and in your nightmares.

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Will is taking home a $5000 prize, an upcoming trip to Seattle, WA to meet the Wizards themselves for some creative brainstorming, and a one-of-a-kind unpainted miniature of the Terror of the Undermountain he created.

What set Will’s monster apart from the rest? Here’s Wizard of the Coast’s Mike Mearls, Kate Irwin, and Richard Whitters to announce the winner and give some insight into the judging process.

Honorable mentions were also announced:

  • Dylan Pharaoh-Whitney
  • Keisuke Shibata
  • Thomas Chamberlain-Keen
  • John Tedrick
  • Dave Wolf
  • Toni Bell
  • Richard Sashigane
  • Christina Qi
  • Tiffany Chiu
  • Cornelius Cockroft

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Visit the contest website for a complete gallery of the top ten monsters from all entries received, which contains more creepy creatures than you could possibly imagine.

MORE D&D GOODNESS!

All Images: Wizards of the Coast / Adobe

Feast on These DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Podcasts Over the Holidays

Dec 18 2018

This holiday season, you’ll probably need a moment or two to take a quiet break from the chatter and bustle of a packed house. Five actual-play Dungeons & Dragons podcasts, all helmed by women, have prepared four special crossover episodes just for those escapes! It’s their gift to you this holiday, and you can download and listen to the first “Feast of the Moon” episode right now.

Venture Maidens, d20 Dames, The Broadswords, Fate and the Fablemaidens, and Roll Like a Girl have teamed up to create four crossover episodes. Releasing on December 16, 24, 29, and 30, the episodes are one-shots that everyone in the family can listen to–if you feel like sharing.

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The first episode, “Troubles in Twinkley Town,” features Venture Maidens DM Celeste Conowitch as Dungeon Master. It’s almost time for the Festival of the Moon, a celebration during the heart of winter with family and gift-giving, and each of the adventurers are relaxing on a hard-earned day off. Suddenly their surroundings shift around them, and the strangers find themselves in another… jolly?… world.

Stay tuned to the groups’ social media for more information and links when episodes are released for sweet, holiday-themed adventures.

What D&D podcasts or livestreams are you listening to over the break? Tell us in the comments.

GAMES FOR THE KIDS!

Images: Feast of the Moon / Artwork by Jen Vaughn

WATCH: Game the Game – BETRAYAL LEGACY – Part 3 (Playthrough)

Dec 18 2018

Join Game the Game host Becca Scott as she gathers awesome guests to play fantastic tabletop games here on Geek & Sundry!

In part three of this week’s Game the Game, players take on Betrayal Legacy by Avalon Hill. In this extended format, players craft the house’s iconic history to tell a new scary story.

Learn more about Betrayal Legacy on the Avalon Hill site, and pick it up at any quality game retailer.

More Gaming Goodness!

This video is sponsored by Avalon Hill.

Honesty Is the Most Provocative Policy in PRIVACY

Dec 17 2018

The provocative and potentially scandalous Privacy from USAopoly is an adult party game of loud and boisterous fun, with a no-secrets-barred attitude and easy-to-learn set of rules. With questions like “Do you sleep in the buff?” and “Do any of your exes have incriminating photos or videos of you?” your game night will never be the same after Privacy.

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In Privacy you score points by guessing the exact number of players who answered yes to the current question. Do so and earn two points. If you’re within one of the correct answer you’ll receive one point, otherwise, you get zero. The first player to 20 points wins.

To start a game round, draw the top card from the deck. The number shown on the new top card indicates which question you’ll read out loud from the drawn card.

Players choose a yes or no chip from their secret stash of answer chips and place them into the ballot box. After everyone’s chips are in, each player will guess how many players answered yes to the question. They’ll adjust their voting dials to their number and place the dial face-down.

Now, the active player empties the ballot box and counts the yes answers. Players who answered correctly reveal their dials and move their marker two spaces on the board. Players who are one number off reveal their dials and move one space. Nobody else must reveal their dials and they score zero points. Play continues until someone reaches 20 points to win the game.

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Privacy is not for the shy or wallflower type of crowd. You’re going to be asked personal questions, with many of them being sexual in nature. Of course, you’re secretly answering yes or no, but it’s good to be aware of what you’re getting into before joining a game. Questions like “Do you think there is life on other planets?” and “Have you ever been nude in a hot tub with strangers?” are two of the tamer examples from the game.

For those worried that their answers will be deduced by their fellow players, there are two variants to allow for more privacy and less possibility for people to figure out who answered what. First, if there is exactly one yes answer from the ballot box, only those who guessed one or two are required to reveal their dials. This way, anyone who answered zero doesn’t have to show their dial, thus implying they answered no.

Second, if there is exactly one less yes answer than the number of players, only those who guessed correctly or one less than the revealed number must reveal their dials. So, anyone who answered the number of players doesn’t have to show their dial, thus implying they answered yes.

It’s this provocative and risque spirit that will spark loud laughter and conversation late into your game night. If you’ve ever wondered if any of your friends have had sex at work or if they’ve ever picked food out of the trash and eaten it, then Privacy will get those answers out of them. Watch the game played on this episode of Game the Game:

What are your favorite party games? Tell us in the comments!

WANT MORE PARTY GAME GOODNESS?

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

This post is sponsored by USAopoly. 

Ruel Gaviola loves board games, books, food, travel, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes about games for iSlaytheDragon and tabletop-test.com, podcasts about games for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

WATCH: Critical Role – The Stowaway (Campaign 2, Episode 45)

Dec 17 2018

The Mighty Nein find a stowaway on the Squalleater, who carries a mysterious item that holds dangerous consequences for the curious

If you’re new to Critical Role, each week a group of talented voice actors embarks on a D&D adventure. Players Marisha RayTaliesin JaffeLiam O’BrienLaura BaileySam RiegelAshley Johnson, and Travis Willingham jump into the world created by fellow voice actor and GM Matt Mercer. (Check out this primer for newcomers to the show. You’ll be cursing Gil with the rest of us soon enough!)

Episode Music Credits:

Battle Bards
Midnight Syndicate 
Platemail Games
Kevin McLeod
Pillars of Eternity – Obsidian Entertainment
World of Warcraft – Blizzard Entertainment
Elder Scrolls Series – Bethesda Entertainment
The Witcher Series – CD Projekt Red
Shadow of Mordor Series
And a huge thank you for all of our community music contributions!

Thanks to D&D Beyond for sponsoring this episode of Critical Role! 

WANT MORE CRITICAL ROLE?

  • Check out Critical Recap, where OG Critter and Critical Role producer recaps episodes in less than five minutes!
  • Catch up from the very beginning of the first campaign, and keep up with the new one with the Critical Role Podcast.
  • Tune into our official after show, Talks Machina, live on Alpha and Twitch, Tuesdays at 7pm PT.
  • Follow the Critical Role crew on Twitter for news about events and signings.
  • And don’t miss new episodes of Critical Role LIVE on Alpha and Twitch, Thursdays at 7pm PT

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the New Critical Role Opening

Dec 17 2018

Critical Role is a live Dungeons & Dragons show featuring Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and his troupe of fellow voice actors. Catch them every Thursday night at 7:00 PM PT on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha.

Episode 44, “The Diver’s Grave,” gave Critters one of the best surprises of this Critical Role campaign with a brand new animated opening! The anime-inspired opening credits featured a brand new song, jaw-dropping character and background design, and more hidden details than you might expect. Kami Areopagita, whom you may remember us chatting with earlier this year about the unforgettable D&D Beyond animated ad, is graciously back again to share some of those details you may have missed even in your repeat viewings.

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The song is written and performed by your favorite nerdy-ass voice actors.

Sam Riegel wrote the lyrics (have you memorized them yet?), and you’ll hear Sam and Travis Willingham as background vocals in the first moments of the opening. Most Critters can likely recognize Laura Bailey and Ashley Johnson as the main vocals. The music is once again by Jason Charles Miller, talented composer of the original Critical Role theme, and he also co-wrote the song with Sam.

There’s also a violin performance by Critter Colm McGuinness soaring through the song, the fan composer who also wrote and performed the “Welcome to Wildemount” music you hear every week before the Critical Role livestream begins.

The song is called “Your Turn to Roll.”

And you can buy and download it right now from iTunes!

It also has over a million views on YouTube.

Yep.

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The entire opening was animated by hand, by a team of just three people.

Kami and Kevin, a sister and brother team, handled the main animation duties. Kami drew and animated the characters, and Kevin focused on colors, special effects, and creature design. Additional backgrounds were drawn by Corinne. Together they created an animation that Critical Role fans will be talking about for years to come.

It took five months of hard work to complete.

In fact, the original storyboards for the opening had Mollymauk sitting in the cart. And Travis and Sam kept it a secret from the rest of the cast during that time!

There are tons of hidden details and Easter eggs in the animation.

Although Kami and Kevin weren’t afraid to put a few in plain sight.

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See if you can also spot:

  • The Gentleman toasts Leonardo DiCaprio style.
  • Calianna, Nila, Keg, and Shakäste make quick appearances.

“Ha!” you might say. “Those are so obvious!” Well, Kami herself let us know a few more details you may have missed:

  • Every mushroom on the zombies cast by Caduceus’ spell are based on real mushrooms. (“We watched so many mushroom time lapse videos that we started dreaming of mushrooms,” Kami tells us.)
  • The artists’ initials are signed in one background.
  • Every unicorn in Jester’s army does something different, each with their own personality.
  • The minotaur drawn on Jester’s wall is Blude, Marion Lavorre’s bodyguard.
  • Watch Yasha when she rages. “Yasha’s eyes and hair turn black, and if you watch closely, the shadows on Yasha shift to help create her Necrotic Shroud,” says Kami.
  • There is a very well hidden reference to Vox Machina. (And one that’s obvious.) Did you see it?

Bonus: Marisha Ray sang a very… special version of the theme song.

So, I had a dental appointment this morning, and made a little gift for the #CriticalRole squad that I thought the greater public might enjoy. pic.twitter.com/IAEsKpUVu8

— Marisha Ray (@Marisha_Ray) December 10, 2018

WANT MORE CRITICAL ROLE?

  • Catch up from the very beginning of the first campaign or keep up with the second with the Critical Role Podcast.
  • Tune into the official aftershow, Talks Machina, live on Alpha and Twitch, Tuesdays at 7pm PT.
  • And don’t miss new episodes of Critical Role LIVE on Alpha and Twitch, Thursdays at 7pm PT.

All Images: Critical Role / Kamille and Kevin Areopagita

WATCH: Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night | Episode 5: What I Am

Dec 17 2018

Twenty-seven years ago Vampire: The Masquerade was released in 1991, and it’s been through a few iterations thus far along its journey.  Our RPG show, Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night is diving into the Vampire: The Masquerade’s Fifth Edition and the World Of Darkness it resides in.

In this episode, Victor’s claims to the barony of the Valley may be harder to enforce then he thought, and a mysterious guest threatens to throw the coterie into chaos. Guest starring Taliesin Jaffe and Bex Taylor-Klaus.

L.A. By Night is a dark tale of personal horror and inhuman conspiracy that sees four vampires doing their best to navigate the macabre affairs and terrifying realities of the night. Check out this episode’s playlist on Spotify:


Salivating for sanguine storytelling? All 8 episodes of L.A. By Night are available ad-free on Alpha, with more on the way! Head on over to www.projectalpha.com to sign up for your 30-day free trial!

LEARN ABOUT VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE!

WATCH: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Smash Bros. DLC, & Tony Hawk! (#GameEngine Quick Bytes)

Dec 17 2018

Each week on Twitch and Alpha, hosts Erika Ishii and Trisha Hershberger talk video games with special industry guests, insightful coverage and a ton of audience interaction on our show Game Engine. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday starting at 4 PM PT to learn about what’s new and cool in the world of video games.

Fresh from signing his second mortgage skateboarding legend Tony Hawk drops by to tell us what to expect from his new game and late-middle age. Plus, this week’s gaming news!

Be sure to tune into Game Engine on Twitch and Alpha for more video game goodness every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT!

Deborah Ann Woll’s Upcoming D&D Show & More – G&S Weekly Wrap Up

Dec 14 2018

Welcome to the Weekly Wrap-Up, where we highlight some of the articles and videos that have gone up over the past week that you might have missed!


Relics And Rarities With Deborah Ann Woll

Prepare to enter a fantastical world with Deborah Ann Woll. She’s the Dungeon Master and storyteller for Geek & Sundry‘s new weekly RPG series, Relics and Rarities. Based on Dungeons & Dragons, the episodic show is set in a world created by Woll. As the DM, she’ll guide the story and take a crew of bold players on a quest to stop an unholy prophecy from coming to fruition. She’ll be joined by a core cast including Julia Dennis, Tommy Walker, Xander Jeanneret, and Jasmine Bhullar, with surprise celebrity guests stopping in for each installment.

Check out the trailer above, and get ready as Relics and Rarities premieres exclusively on Alpha on Monday, February 4. Members will get first access to new episodes before anyone else. If you don’t have an account, you can get a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com.


The Walking Dead Hits the Tabletop As a Dungeon Crawler in Here’s Negan!

As contributor Charlie Theel put it, “When I heard they were taking a bite out of that line and hitting us with a spin-off dungeon crawler, I was certainly paying attention.”  Here’s Negan! does not disappoint.” Check out his hands-on overview.

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Candidate Wins Election By Literally Rolling A Natural 20

Let’s set the scene: two candidates, Larry Enos Jr. and Milan “Pete” Petrovich were running for the seat in last month’s elections, and each earned 51 votes of the 110 votes casts in the election. (There were 147 registered voters eligible to cast ballots, which is a darned high turnout.)

As per California state law, such ties must be decided by the drawing of lots: a random contest of some sort. Check out the full story here.

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GM Tips For Handling Troubling Topics at The Table

As contributor Rick Heinz points out, “There is no right way to handle tough issues in games, but there damn well is a wrong way—and that’s ignoring it. While gaming is one of our greatest forms of escapism, storytelling and tabletop gaming are (by their very nature) multi-party events. Your local tabletop game may be filled with like-minded individuals, but if you’re running larger events or at cons, you’ve to handle a wider variety of people.”

Check out his tips for handling situations here.

Tricky Topics Featured


Dining in the Wastelands: How to Cook Fallout-Inspired Food

Contributor Eric Ravenscraft chatted with Victoria Rosenthal about her new cookbookFallout – The Vault Dweller’s Official Cookbook and how to cook for post-apocalyptic themed game nights.

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Be sure to keep up with Geek & Sundry by following us on TwitterFacebookInstagram! You can also subscribe to us on YouTube, and watch our streams on Twitch and on Alpha, where you can also watch Alpha-exclusive videos (new Alpha subscribers get  a 30-day free trial at projectalpha.com!)

More Gaming Goodness!

 

Image Credits: Mantic Games, Teri Litorco, Beau Caleb Hug by Hugo Cardenas. Art and animations at: Takayuuki.deviantart.com and Youtube, Victoria Rosenthal

 

Candidate Wins Election By Literally Rolling a Natural 20

Dec 14 2018

It certainly isn’t the most glamorous political post, but last Monday the outcome of the election for the District 1 seat for the Byron-Bethany Irrigation Board was determined by the outcome of rolls on a d20 (from somebody’s Dungeons & Dragons set, no less).

Let’s set the scene: two candidates, Larry Enos Jr. and Milan “Pete” Petrovich were running for the seat in last month’s elections, and each earned 51 votes of the 110 votes casts in the election. (There were 147 registered voters eligible to cast ballots, which is a darned high turnout.)

As per California state law, such ties must be decided by the drawing of lots: a random contest of some sort. In this case, Scott Konopasek, Contra Costa County’s Assistant Registrar didn’t pull a coin out of his pocket to flip but instead procured a 20-sided die from someone in the office. As he put it, “It minimized the chance of them tying again,” presumably because of the 20 faces on each die.

To further prevent another tied result, each candidate took turns and rolled the die three times. They weren’t rolling opposed checks, as the results were tallied, but after the 2nd round of rolls challenger Enos’ total was 31 and incumbent Petrovich’s total was 32.

It was the last roll that determined the final outcome, with Petrovitch rolling a 13, and Enos rolling a natural 20, to win the election.

CBS reported on the story:

I’m not going to lie: I’m a little envious of how well they rolled, as across 6 rolls the lowest result was a 13 (a moderate success). The player who volunteered that die must keep that particular one in their “keep” roll.

Tell us the story of a die roll you won’t forget in the comments below!

More Gaming Goodness!

Image Credits: Teri Litorco

Teri Litorco is Geek & Sundry’s contributing editor, author of The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming (a survival and etiquette guide for gamers), and a  YouTuber who can be found on social media: TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

Build Your Empire During the Industrial Revolution in BRASS: BIRMINGHAM

Dec 14 2018

In Brass: Birmingham, you and your opponents attempt to build your empires in London, England, during the Industrial Revolution. With so much of society changing due to advances in manufacturing, transportation, and other industries, it’s not an easy task to build during this tumultuous time.

You’ll build your industries, from cotton and coal to iron and pottery, and establish a network of routes to deliver your products to the markets that demand them.  Do it more efficiently than your opponents to score the most victory points and lead your empire to victory.

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From designer Martin Wallace, Brass: Birmingham from Roxley Games is a hand management and route building game that’s a standalone sequel to his highly regarded Eurogame, Brass.

Brass: Birmingham is played over two eras: the Canal Era (1770-1830) and the Rail Era (1830-1870). During each era, you’ll use your hand of cards to perform one of six actions to develop industries and establish routes on the map of London.

Like Wallace’s other games, you start with no money and you’re soon managing and manipulating the market as you try to earn income to complete certain actions. You may use one of your actions to take a loan (empire building ain’t cheap, after all), but eventually, you’ll have to develop your industries for a steady source of income that’ll allow you to expand your holdings.

On your player board, you’ll uncover the different industries you can build to earn income and victory points: cotton mills, manufacturers, potteries, coal mines, iron works, and breweries. When you develop them, you’ll place their tiles on the board as you attempt to sell your goods.

Of course, you won’t be able to sell those goods until there’s a network to transport them to the markets demanding them. First, you’ll build canals then rails to connect your industries to markets. Victory points go to those who can build industries and establish routes and the most points after the two eras wins the game.

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There’s a sandbox-like nature to the gameplay in Brass: Birmingham: you can go almost anywhere and do anything on the board, with a few restrictions. Everything’s neatly tied into your six basic actions, but the game’s depth is apparent from the first turn as you begin to figure out the ways to be more efficient and connect routes to sell your goods.

There’s also a slight race element since you’re trying to sell your goods first to take advantage of market conditions. Certain industries will give you more ongoing income while others give you more points when you connect them on your routes. Of course, some industries become obsolete after the Canal Age, so you might want to focus on others that will pay off later in the Rail Age.

It’s this balancing act that makes Brass: Birmingham one of the best games of the year. There are a lot of moving pieces in the game that may lead to brain burn so if you’re prone to analysis paralysis, you’ve been warned. But it’s a wonderful game full of tough decisions on nearly every turn.

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Brass: Birmingham is a remarkable achievement. Wallace, along with designers Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman, have not only improved on the original game, but they’ve also managed to exceed it, making the Industrial Revolution a fun and engaging world. New players may be overwhelmed at first, but investing time into the game will reward you with one of the best gaming experiences of 2018.

What are your favorite Eurogames? Tell us in the comments!

WANT MORE BOARD GAME GOODNESS?

 Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola loves board games, books, food, travel, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes about games for iSlaytheDragon and tabletop-test.com, podcasts about games for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

Connect More Than Four in CINCO LINKO

Dec 14 2018

One thing that we gamers love to do is take our games on the go. Whether it’s to a friend’s house for a game night or for something to do at the local pub over beer and pretzels, portable titles ensure a good time no matter where you’re at. Of course, not all games are easily transported. Board games continue to get bigger in size and scope, with more bits and components to store and possibly lose. It might not always be a smart thing to lug your copy of Twilight Imperium or Gloomhaven to your favorite watering hole during happy hour.

Thankfully, Big Potato Games solves this conundrum with Cinco Linko, an easy to learn, quick to play, and easily transportable game that will satisfy all types of players at all kinds of venues.

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Originally known as OK Play, Cinco Linko finds its inspiration in two classic mainstays of the board game hobby: Connect Four and Carcassonne. The goal couldn’t be simpler: two to four players race to be the first to connect five of their pieces in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line. You can see how simple it is to play in this super quick episode of How to Play:

On your turn, take one of your tiles and lay its edge against the edge of another previously placed piece. If you ever run out of tiles, then the real interesting part of the game begins: take one of your previously placed tiles and move it, while ensuring that your other tiles still adhere to the placement rules.

You’ll face tougher decisions than your typical Connect Four game once you begin moving your previously placed tiles. It’s not always easy to choose a piece to move since other tiles must still be legally placed; moving a tile and leaving untouched tiles behind isn’t allowed.

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With its simple ruleset, Cinco Linko is a terrific way to spend time with a wide range of gamers, from newbies eager to learn something new to the more discerning gamer looking for a quick filler between other games.

It’s more satisfying than Connect Four, thanks to its malleable format; you and your opponents build the board as you play, with the game changing as more tiles are added and moved around. And it’s easier for new players to learn and play; while the tile-laying is reminiscent of Carcassonne, there’s no need to track points or learn how to score those tricky farmers.

Best of all, the game is designed perfectly for the gamer on the go. All of the player pieces are neatly stacked on a tray and hooked into its carrier. The sturdy components and ingenious design make it look like a multi-colored cube that you carry around to any location, ready to get your game on. It even has a carabiner you can use to hook onto your backpack or luggage. Or, for maximum gamer geekiness, hook Cinco Linko onto your belt loop and bring game night wherever you go. Check it out in action in this episode of Game the Game:

Get your copy of Cinko Linko online or where you can find quality board games.

WANT MORE BOARD GAME GOODNESS?

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola 

This post is sponsored by Big Potato Games.

Ruel Gaviola loves board games, books, food, travel, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes about games for iSlaytheDragon and tabletop-test.com, podcasts about games for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Playing OVERLIGHT RPG – Character Building

Dec 14 2018

The world of Overlight is chock full of bright colors, weird creatures, and kaleidoscopic fantasy. We’ve been having a blast exploring the world in our Overlight: Fractured Paradox series and hope that gamers have been playing the game and creating their own adventure across the different shards of the universe. We’re posting a series of articles to help get you starte. Previously we covered dice & tests, and in this article, we’ll go over how to make a character. (If you haven’t read this article where we explore the universe of Overlight, you’ll want to start there first.)

Character Concept

Anyone reading our Overlight articles might already have an idea for a concept in mind when sitting down to make a character. Staring at a blank character sheet can be a little intimidating, so a flip through the book can help generate some ideas too. A player might key to a specific piece of artwork or might find a power or background that sparks something. The breakdown of the Virtues on page 79 are also a good central place to start. Choose which Virtue will be the character’s strong point and build out from that.

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Folk

Each of the playable Folk comes with a Virtue associated with their people. These elements can play into a standard type of character, like a Pyroi warrior or a Teryxian historian.  The background of a people are not stringent classes, however, and a moment to consider what makes a character unique can help players make interesting choices as they build their characters. Perhaps the historian loves ancient arms and armor and has read up on forgotten fighting techniques (even if they’ve never used them in the field) or the Pyroi warrior is searching for her lost love that everyone else believes is dead. These hooks might come at the concept stage, at this stage or even be sparked by something in a later stage.

Background

Every folk has seven backgrounds that tie into the common occupations and conceptions of their culture. Overlight strives to make each one interesting and playable, but notice that some of them have access to Gifts. Gifts offer a bit of extra mechanics unique to a character and they are only unlockable at character creation. If you are sold on a concept at this point, choose a background with a Gift is a wise choice. Players wishing to discover their character during play might do better choosing a background that isn’t quite as locked in.

Core Virtue

What makes the Skyborn unique are their dual Virtues. Each possesses the Virtue associated with their Folk but also another one that awakened their Chroma. This choice determines which powers the character has access to but it also is an interesting character choice. How does someone embodying Might also value Compassion? How would a creature known for Wisdom tame their ambition and Will? The tension or alignment of these virtues give a character depth and also suggest potential relationships within the heroes. Two characters who value Logic might get into spirited debates or perhaps attended the same institution of learning, for example.

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Purchase Abilities

Characters are given points to increase abilities and purchase additional Chroma beyond the first at this point. These points also form the initial Spirit pool, so leaving some leftover (between 5 and 10) is a good idea.  Characters can increase their skills, Virtues and buy additional Chroma with these points. It can be a little intimidating to walk into a point build without any ideas on what to spend them on. If nothing’s calling out from the get-go, spend at least 10 points in each of those sections. That means, on average, a character can upgrade one skill to a d10, one to a d8 and one to a d6. They also can upgrade a virtue to a d10 and a d8 (likely their core virtue). And, finally, they would choose two more Chroma powers. Doing that method costs 29 out of the 45 points. If the player does one more thing, like another power or another high skill bump, that puts their points right in the proper range.

Choose Your Name

This is the hardest part of character creation; a proper name! The book has plenty of suggestions but a quick search for baby names or words in other languages can prove endless inspiration!

More gaming goodness!

WATCH OVERLIGHT: FRACTURED PARADOX

Join the adventure and watch Overlight: Fractured Paradox Fridays at 4PM PST on https://twitch.tv/geekandsundry and https://www.projectalpha.com. New Alpha members receive a 30-day free trial.

Images Credits: Kwanchai Moriya, Renegade Game Studios

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

WATCH: Shield of Tomorrow – Insights (Episode 47)

Dec 14 2018

The Federation is on the brink of war with the Dominion. In the shadow of this cold war, the crew members of the USS Sally Ride must work together to not only protect the Federation, but protect its soul as well. This licensed, live RPG is an epic return to the Star Trek universe that you know and love.

As the Dominion War rages on the USS Sally Ride, off in a distant expanse of the galaxy, begins to unravel one of the greatest scientific mysteries of the time. A mystery that could change the fate of not only her crew, but the future for all life in the Milky Way…

Want to catch all the episodes of Shield of Tomorrow and the after aftershow, Behind The Shield? Log into Alpha! Don’t have an Alpha subscription? Sign up now for a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com.

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WATCH: Critical Recap – Episode 44: The Diver’s Grave

Dec 14 2018

Critical Role is Geek & Sundry’s live Dungeons & Dragons show, featuring Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and his troupe of fellow voice actors. Catch them every Thursday night at 7:00 PM PT on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha.

OG Critter and Talks Machina Segment Producer Dani Carr recaps the Mighty Nein’s spooky underwater dive into Critical Role Episode 44 “The Diver’s Grave“!

THE CRITICAL ROLE PODCAST

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For those of you who prefer to consume Critical Role in podcast form, or for those who may have missed it, the full podcast version of the episode Dani recapped above is available for download at 8 AM Pacific every Thursday.

Whether you’re looking to catch up on the full action, or just want to have something to listen to as you drive to and from work before the newest live episode, you can always download the latest podcast episode at criticalrolepodcast.geekandsundry.com!

Don’t forget to tune into our official aftershow, Talks Machina, live on Alpha and Twitch, Tuesdays at 7pm PT, and episodes of Critical Role LIVE on Alpha and Twitch, Thursdays at 7pm PT!

MORE CRITICAL ROLE GOODNESS!

Dining in the Wasteland: How to Cook For Your Post-Apocalyptic Game Nights

Dec 13 2018

You’ve prepared your post-apocalyptic campaign and now you’re about to have a half dozen or more people over to your house for hours. They’re going to need something to eat in the wasteland you’ve created. Victoria Rosenthal of Pixelated Provisions and author of Fallout: The Vault Dweller’s Official Cookbook has some advice on how to fit your meals into your game’s theme.

Just like a good GM, Victoria knows that immersion is key. While writing the official Fallout cookbook, she dove deep into the game’s lore to find recipes that not only taste good, but would be right at home in the wasteland. “I started my recipe research with a giant study of all the recipes I could find in all of the Fallout Games. I’ve played a good majority of the games, but I had to go back over a lot of things I may have missed,” she said. You can emulate this approach in your own games by finding foods that are mentioned in your lore and storybooks that you can use as a basis for the meals you make for your players

Finding real foods that can act as stand-ins for your game world’s food can, in some cases, be surprisingly easy. “I started to translate all of the fictional flora and fauna into real life ingredients,” Victoria says. “Some proteins like Brahmin were easy. Since Brahmin is a mutated cow, I used both beef and bison and worked with seasoning to come up with a flavor that matched.” For the food that doesn’t exist in present day, pre-destroyed Earth, you can make some clever substitutions. “The iconic Deathclaws were certainly the hardest decision to make… Since there aren’t any pigs walking around in Fallout, using things like pork belly as a translation for Deathclaw meat fit perfectly with keeping the book balanced.”

 

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GMs face a similar challenge while creating the environment for their games. Crafting stories, characters, locations, and events to fit inside the world you’re creating for your players is a fulfilling challenge. But everyone has to eat. Rather than ordering a pizza, cooking your own food gives you another opportunity to bring your players further into the story.

Even if your game isn’t specifically Fallout-themed—though there are plenty of Fallout-specific RPGs that are worth checking out—the Fallout cookbook can still be an invaluable tool. “Most of the recipes [in the book] work wonderfully for a post apocalyptic themed game night,” Victoria said. As an example, she suggests the Mystery Meat-Wrapped Nukalurk as an appetizer.

In the Fallout universe, Nukalurks are a mutated form of Mirelurks, a gigantic crustacean that bears a resemblance to crabs and other marsh-dwelling creatures. Since there aren’t any crabs the size of humans walking around in real life, Victoria used scallops instead. The recipe also calls for wrapping the scallops in bacon. Or, as the book puts it, “Mystery bacon from the Raiders at Nuka-World. At least, they told me it was bacon. I don’t think I saw a single pig while I was there.”

 

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Recipes like this give you another avenue for world-building. Just like Victoria did, you can use the recipes to expand on character backstories, flesh out the world your players are inhabiting, or even use them as quest rewards. For example, if your players are in a tavern, you could offer their characters food in-game and then serve the dish in the real world.

The best part about working with a wasteland theme is that if things don’t look perfect, if you have to improvise some parts, or if not everything fits, then it just helps the immersion more. “If someone wanted to host a Fallout party, the key to capturing the universe’s feeling would be chaos and disorder,” Victoria said. “Everything in Fallout is messy and disorderly so your food should look the same way! Mismatched plates, random objects adorning the table, messier plating, etc. Be creative with how to present your food and don’t be afraid to make things messy!”

The post-apocalyptic setting is fun because it lets you imagine what it’s like to improvise survival in a world more hostile than our own. Food is key to that survival, which makes it one of the best ways to immerse your players into the game. Next time you get your players together, try making your meal out of the materials (or real-world equivalents) that your characters can scavenge in the ruins of the old world.

What kind of foods do you use to help immerse your players in the world of your games? Have any recipes you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

More Wasteland Gaming!

Images credits: Victoria Rosenthal

 

GM Tips For Handling Troubling or Tough Topics At The Table

Dec 13 2018

GM Tips is our series to help Storytellers and Game Masters improve their craft and create memorable roleplaying experiences. Last week, we talking about turning botched rolls into wins, and this week we pivot gears to talk about handling tragedies and tough issues in games.

There is no right way to handle tough issues in games, but there damn well is a wrong way—and that’s ignoring it. While gaming is one of our greatest forms of escapism, storytelling and tabletop gaming are (by their very nature) multi-party events. Your local tabletop game may be filled with like-minded individuals, but if you’re running larger events or at cons, you’ve to handle a wider variety of people.

The nice thing about being humans, is that we can empathize, change, and evolve ourselves. When times change and new techniques are discovered, we update our tool sets and move along. Storytelling is no different, even though these tips aren’t exhaustive, they might save your table from becoming embroiled in out-of-game drama that nobody signed up for.

Creativity Always Wins

Urban fantasy as a genre thrives off taking modern day events and incorporating supernatural elements into them. Things become offensive and problematic when you erase the victims or criminals involved, or minimize any impact of the event. World War II has been twisted in so many game lines and at this point it has become history, but it holds up as good vs evil every time. Modern day events like politics, financial crashes, genocide, and terrorism are rough topics to include in your game. I myself, dabble in thinly veiled Union propaganda in some of my tables and even I’ve had players crack jokes at it. Yet all of these things are the affairs of humans, and in our games, we don’t need to write ourselves into corners of specific events.

Rather than twist a setting about the real-life atrocities dealing with sexuality, robbing it of its purpose—the affairs of the supernatural can be far more alien. Create far more world — or even setting-specific — tragedies and play off those.

Eclipse Phase is filled with great writing about tragedies that happened in their fictional universe (you even play people dedicated to stopping more). Real-life bigotry and hatred can still be called out, but leave it as what it is, bigotry and hatred. Your villains should have motives according to them, not cookie-cutting a real-life event and chopping it up. In the Eclipse Phase example, an Immortal CEO who owns multiple Hyper-Corporations and is throttling the oxygen of several space stations for an experiment is far more immersive than knocking off a real-world event.

Quest for an Editor

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As a long time storyteller, I’ve been blessed in seeing gaming (and LARPing) rise and fall in attendance over the years. Currently, we are on a massive upswing and I hope it keeps exploding like it is—gaming is more diverse and widespread now than it has been in years. If you’ve got a killer storyline in your brain, bounce it off a friend for feedback first! Pick someone outside of your normal group if you can, and someone with different backgrounds and tastes than you. When you’re a writer, you are used to having editors tear through your work (hi Teri!), but as gamers—we forget.

Storytellers are all content creators. Pound-for-pound, table-by-table, every game you run is the generation of content for an audience. Organizations like The MES, or Adventurer’s League may try to streamline it and incentivize GMing, but it doesn’t detract from storytellers being content creators. When you look at it this way, you’re beholden to provide your audience with quality content instead of a wet fart. Before you unveil this storyline of fascist wizards to an unsuspecting audience at your local game store—ask a friend. Get your work edited and you may find that your storyline is enhanced, but also highlights tragedy and sticky topics the right way.

Respond to Your Players & Pivot Instantly

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The past two tips have been ideas that can be prepped before gameplay starts. But what about during the game? The X-Card, by John Stavropoulos is one tool you can use at your table to better read your players when the content of your story is making them uncomfortable, and it’s extremely useful as a tool that allows you to edit whatever content is making your players uncomfortable in realtime. It’s empowering for them, as well as for you. Here’s how the guide for the X-Card suggests you introduce it to your games:

“I’d like your help.”

“Your help to make this game fun for everyone.”

“If anything in the game makes anyone uncomfortable…”

[ draw an X on an index card ]

“…just lift this card up, or simply tap it.”

“You don’t have to explain why.”

“It doesn’t matter why.”

”When we lift or tap this card, we simply edit out anything X-Carded.”

”And if there is ever an issue, anyone can call for a break and we can talk privately.”

“I know it sounds funny but it will help us play amazing games together…”

“…and usually I’m the one who uses the X card to protect myself from all of you!”

There’s more guidance available for using the X-Card, but it’s a very useful tool for GMs.

For example, instead of a late-night vampire feeding scene that has made players uncomfortable to the point where they’ve raised the X-Card, you can edit out that moment from the story and instead pivot to have a flash photograph go off. Suddenly the paparazzi are on the character’s tail and the ensuing chase scene and now conspiracy cover-up alters the mood, the problematic content has been edited out of the scene, and you can continue in a different direction rather than you creating a larger snowball.

When the game session ends, you can take stock of what happened – RPG aftercare is a thing. Turn those moments into learning moments and build trust and connections instead of walls.

Has any troubling issue ever crept into your table? How did your GM handle it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Featured Image by: Beau Caleb Hug by Hugo Cardenas. Art and animations at: Takayuuki.deviantart.com and Youtube

Image Credits: Vampire: The Masquerade Second Inquisition, Critical Role

Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn, and a storyteller with a focus on LARPs, Wraith: The Oblivion, Eclipse Phase, and many more. You can follow game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or Facebook.

WATCH: Game the Game – CINCO LINKO (Playthrough)

Dec 13 2018

Put your tiles to good use! In this week’s Game the Game, host Becca Scott and guests play Cinco Linko by Big Potato Games! In this tile placement fiesta, players must utilize their stack of pieces to get 5 in a row.

Get your copy of Cinco Linko online or where you can find quality board games.

More Gaming Goodness!

This video is sponsored by Big Potato Games.

Deborah Ann Woll’s New D&D Show: Relics And Rarities (Trailer)

Dec 13 2018

Welcome, adventurers. Prepare to enter a fantastical world with Deborah Ann Woll. She’s the Dungeon Master and storyteller for Geek & Sundry‘s new weekly RPG series, Relics and Rarities. Based on Dungeons & Dragons, the episodic show is set in a world created by Woll. As the DM, she’ll guide the story and take a crew of bold players on a quest to stop an unholy prophecy from coming to fruition. She’ll be joined by a core cast including Julia Dennis, Tommy Walker, Xander Jeanneret, and Jasmine Bhullar, with surprise celebrity guests stopping in for each installment.

The world of Relics and Rarities is immersive with sets designed especially for each adventure. Players will have unique puzzles and props to make their gameplay even more exciting. And though the world is established and rich, none of the gameplay is scripted. A roll of the die could change the direction of the quest or a character’s fate. That means you want to tune in every week to be present for any and all surprises. The players are going to need all the luck and best wishes you can spare.

Relics and Rarities Featured (3)

Relics and Rarities premieres exclusively on Alpha on Monday, February 4. Members will get first access to new episodes before anyone else. If you don’t have an account, you can get a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com.

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CHRONICLES OF CRIME is the Detective Game That Blends Tabletop and VR

Dec 12 2018

Chronicles of Crime from publisher Lucky Duck Games is the epitome of innovation through iteration. This is a game of sleuthing that closely parallels the most influential Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. It’s a narrative design of solving a central crime by visiting locations and interrogating peculiar individuals. As stated, we’ve seen this framework before–so what’s the fuss?

Well, the ado is all about that $500 piece of hardware warming your pocket. Chronicles of Crime is an app-driven game, its cardboard muscle running off the electric guts in that mobile. Much like Sherlock, it presents a mystery requiring a solution and you need to tease out the solution through mounds of text.

That text takes the form of chatting with witnesses and bystanders. You’ll head to locations and talk to colorful muggles by scanning QR codes on the cardboard components. Want to question that sassy woman with a devilish grin that says, “I murdered the old hobo”? Sure, just scan the Hyde Park location and then sassy woman’s card and you’ll have your answers.

There’s a pretty wide latitude in the implementation. You can ask people about specific pieces of evidence you’ve collected, again by scanning the person you wish to ask and then the evidence card. You can also approach several specialists working with the London police department to get their take. That blood you found innocently splashed across the carpet? The forensic scientist will have something to say.

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The goal here is to reconcile the evidence and witness testimony to form a narrative. After an hour or so of hardboiled detective work you head back to the station and wrap things up with a questionnaire; this is the government, after all. They like their paperwork.

All of this questioning and subsequent dissecting of text can be a bit taxing. You’ll find yourself constantly scanning components and scrolling through dialogue. This also places a burden on a single member of the group to handle the heavy lifting and act as the game’s facilitator. Often, you’ll pass the phone around and share duties, but it’s a slight shame you can’t all follow along on your individual devices to remain in the thick of it.

In this regard, the single phone running the show is identical to the case booklet in Sherlock. The advantage here is that the phone can respond to your actions. Events will fire off occasionally and your train will get derailed. Maybe that man you were talking to at the last pub was offed while you were making your next stop at an apartment complex. This uncertainty and ability for the script to seize you by the scalp injects a lively spirit into the experience that enhances the atmosphere greatly.

This innovative system is anchored by an excellent dogleg courtesy of virtual reality. When you hit upon a crime scene you can enter a VR mode and look around your surroundings. You will need to call out to the rest of the group every little detail you spot, careful not to miss a single element. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew is combing through this large stack of evidence cards and pulling out anything that may match.

It goes like this:

You lift the phone up and start looking around a confined flat. A woman sits dead in the corner, blood on her scalp and a stained baseball bat lying nearby.

You’re quickly shouting this all out to the group. Your time is limited and you need to physically turn and angle your head every which way to investigate each nook and cranny something may be hiding.

As you’re narrating your surroundings everyone else is thumbing through a section of those cards. Someone happens upon “Blunt Object” and tosses it out onto the table. Another finds “Blood and DNA” and slaps that down.

When your time runs out you scan each of the cards you’ve isolated. The app then tells you which apply and which do not. Each card you scan eats up some of your in-game time, reducing your final score so it’s not all peaches and cream.

This is a really enjoyable process of picking up breadcrumbs and seizing progress. It helps shake up the normal proceedings of reading gobs of verse.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that Chronicles of Crime is an innovative twist on an established blueprint. Just as its tethered to its predecessors, it suffers some of the same limitations. While it makes ample use (and re-use) of its many generic cards detailing peoples, places, and things, it is inherently limited by its included content. Each scenario can only be played through once and the game only ships with about five sessions worth of material.

This actually is a reasonably curated volume sized against the price. The best moments of this style of game arise in the back and forth of discussion and theorizing with your fellows. That adds weight to the experience and helps to de-emphasize the cost when engagement is spread across multiple individuals.

The application, of course, includes reasonably priced content you can acquire. This method of electronic expansion and re-using the physical bits you purchased in the core box has great potential. Instead of throwing a larger wad at a robust deluxe set, you can take a smaller bite and pick up new cases as they’re needed. Publisher Lucky Duck Games appears committed to this model and it looks as if we will have a long line of options for many years.

Chronicles of Crime accomplishes a delicate balance between electronic and analog. It justifies its existence beyond merely an app by facilitating a rich cooperative experience. There are limitations inherent in the structure, but the game delivers on its promise and stands tall alongside its peers.

Are you excited for Chronicles of Crime? Let us know in the comments!  

More Tabletop Goodness!

 

Image Credits: Charlie Theel

Editor’s note: A sample of the game was provided by the publisher.

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Ars Technica, Tabletop Gaming, Player Elimination, and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on Twitter @CharlieTheel.

A Beginner’s Guide to SMASH UP – The Multi-Genre Card Game

Dec 12 2018

Ever wonder who would win in a fight between robots and dinosaurs? Better yet, what if you combined them into one super-fighting team against a squad of zombie-ninja warriors?

In Smash Up, there’s no limit to the awesomeness you can throw into battle. With crazy card combinations, eye-popping art, and a ruleset designed to get you playing faster than other card games, Smash Up is a favorite amongst casual and heavily-invested gamers alike.

If you’re new to Smash Up, look no further than this guide. We’ll show you what the game is all about and you’ll be ready to grab a couple of factions to crush your opponents in no time!

How To Play

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In Smash Up you’re trying to rule the world by smashing bases via your personal deck of cards. There are two types of cards: minions and actions. On your turn, you may play one minion and one action, in any order. Then, you draw two cards. That’s your turn. Easy peasy, right?

Each base has a breaking point of a certain number of points and each minion card has a point value. Players may play minions on any of the bases; if the total minion points from all players is equal to or exceeds the base’s breaking point, then the player with the most minion points smashes it and gains the victory points listed. Other players may receive points as well, depending on the base.

Bases are replaced after they’ve been smashed, and players continue playing and drawing cards and smashing bases until the first player to 15 victory points wins the game. You can check out the ins and outs of the game in this How to Play video:

Fun With Factions

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Everything you need to begin playing is included in the base game: eight different factions of 20 cards each, from zombies and dinosaurs to robots and pirates. Simply choose two factions, no matter how odd the pairing may seem, and shuffle both sets together.

Once you get the itch to try out different factions (and you will), there are plenty of expansions that bring more factions into the Smash Up world. In fact, half the fun of Smash Up is exploring all of the different factions and discovering the crazy combinations.

For example, you can pick the Time Travelers and Zombies factions. Play the Repeater Perfect minion to place an action card from your discard pile on top of your deck. If the They Keep Coming action card is in your discard pile, put that on top of your deck and on your next turn you’ll be able to play an extra minion from your discard pile. If you have another Repeater Perfect minion, ta-da! You’ll be doing it again next turn.

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For those of you into the spooky worlds of H.P. Lovecraft there’s the Obligatory Cthulhu Set. Or, if you’re into classic movie monsters, there’s the Monster Smash. My personal favorite: the Cease and Desist set of cards that are similar-to-but-not-enough-to-be-sued characters from Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Transformers. No matter which factions you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a blast at the tabletop.

Pro tip: It can be a chore keeping track of everybody’s minions scores for each base, so print out the scoring mats from boardgamegeek.com to keep a running tally on each base. It’s much easier than re-adding all of the minions every time you’re trying to figure out if the base has been smashed. Super handy!

See what it’s all about!

If you want to see the game in action, check out this episode of Game the Game:

What are your favorite Smash Up factions? Tell us in the comments!

WANT MORE SMASH UP GOODNESS?

Feature Image Credit: Alderac

 Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola 

This post is sponsored by Alderac Entertainment Group.

Ruel Gaviola loves board games, books, food, travel, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes about games for iSlaytheDragon and tabletop-test.com, podcasts about games for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

HERE’S NEGAN! is the Walking Dead Dungeon Crawler We’ve Been Waiting For

Dec 12 2018

Mantic Games is doing great things with the Walking Dead comic license. Their miniatures game All Out War is a fantastic singular experience that plays out as if the terrain itself is out to get you. So when I heard they were taking a bite out of that line and hitting us with a spin-off dungeon crawler, I was certainly paying attention. Here’s Negan! does not disappoint.

Let’s be clear – this is not just a repackaging of some figures and porting of the existing game system. This is really its own unique thing inspired by mechanisms found in All Out War. I was somewhat shocked to discover this is a very thoughtful and expansive board game with a great deal of content. It would have been easy for them to throw three or four scenarios in the box and mail it in, but Here’s Negan contains 12 and even lays out the groundwork for campaign play and linking your results.

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Describing this game as a dungeon crawler is absolutely correct. Players take on the role of Negan’s top lieutenants, vying for his favor while clearing out the factory that would become the Sanctuary. You lay out a series of tiles according to the scenario and then push forward to clear the walkers out of the tomb.

There’s a strong sense of exploration as you throw open a door and reference a random card draw to see what’s inside. Usually, there are undead vagrants for you to bash, but there’s also environmental hazards such as a specific instance where the room is flooded and the Walkers are submerged and hidden. As you push forward there’s a sense of mystery that is satisfying to unveil as you frolic through the carnage.

Enemy clusters of zombies are populated via blips in homage to the classic Space Hulk. Each marker will be revealed when you gain line of sight and contain a variable amount of zeds. The range here is relatively constricted, however, and you can plan appropriately.

There’s even loot as you find slick weaponry and munitions to upgrade your starting supplies. This will help you more efficiently clear out the denizens and elevate the pace. It’s important to keep your foot on the gas, as Negan’s skulking in the background and tossing out insults.

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Negan is the centerpiece of this game and the most compelling mechanism. He’s represented by a figure on the board, menacingly brandishing Lucille and ready to wreak some havoc. Each turn you will draw a card to handle his activation as he pushes forward towards the map’s exit. His movement and behavior is erratic and unpredictable–just as you’d expect.

It’s time to pull on your shitting pants.

The goal here is to clear a path for the brutal leader. If you hang back or push too slowly he will give you the bat. You literally lose health as he bashes you aside and becomes enraged. This system of punishing the weak and pushing the tempo is utterly fantastic. It offers a very unique personality and separates this design from other dungeon crawlers.

Negan’s wrath also combines with the variable room contents to make up for the obvious lack of enemy variety. I was initially surprised to see a lack of different Walkers types as we’ve seen in the miniatures game, but this disappointment faded somewhat as I embraced the knife’s edge of trying to satisfy a maniac.

There’s also a bit of a controversial approach as the game embraces a semi-cooperative philosophy. While you will want to work together and help a fallen Savior sometimes, other times you will want to slam the door shut or draw a herd to a hapless stooge.

This is primarily because there is a single player at end game declared top dog. You track reputation earned mostly through killing Walkers and the brawler with the most cred gets to puff out their chest and talk shit at game’s end. It is a little awkward in that everyone wins but one player “wins better.” Yet I wouldn’t trade out this format as it leads to betrayals and selfish gambits with a properly calibrated group of misfits.

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Synthesizing selfish aggression is just one of many ways fidelity is achieved. One could make a checklist and their wrist would get sore. You can be bitten and infected, Negan can shove your face into the furnace, noise is a key component to manage or exploit, and Walkers gain ferocity in numbers.

Here’s Negan! is better than it has any right to be. It’s a full-fledged semi-cooperative experience that aligns with the dungeon crawl ideology yet veers hard off course. As you’re cutting through winding hallways and braining forgotten souls, keep an eye over your shoulder and brace yourself for Lucille.

Have you played The Walking Dead: All Out War? Let us know in the comments!  

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Image Credits: Charlie Theel, Mantic Games

Editor’s note: A sample of the game was provided by the publisher.

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Ars Technica, Tabletop Gaming, Player Elimination, and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on Twitter @CharlieTheel.

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