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Geek and Sundry

Comic Cover Mashups: RPGs That Deadpool Would Love

Apr 25 2018

Join Taliesin Jaffe, Amy Dallen, and Matt Key on The Wednesday Club, your source for everything comics! Watch live every Wednesday at 7:00 PM PDT on Alpha and Twitch.

In the early days of role-playing games, there were several different series that tried their best to convey the joys of navigating a story where the reader had the decision on how things went in their own hands. Many kids of the 80s experienced this through the legendary Choose Your Own Adventure books, but a few series went towards the deeper end of D&D emulation. Lone Wolf, Fighting Fantasy and Sagar the Barbarian were among the titles that included things like randomized combats, equipment management , nd character development.

The form lives on in several mobile apps, but the resurgence in the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons has given some big name publishers a chance to revive the form. Marvel Comics is releasing a miniseries next month called You Are Deadpool where readers take on the role of everybody’s favorite Merc With A Mouth. Not only is it a cool publishing experiment that just so happens to coincide with the release of Deadpool 2 in theaters on May 18th, it also allowed the creative team to whip up some alternate covers as a tribute to the tabletop RPGs that inspired them. We collected all five variants here along with the covers that inspired them, plus a little bit of discussion on why Deadpool would love to play these games when he’s not talking trash about the entire Marvel Universe.

Issue #1 – Paranoia

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The Game: West End Games’ Paranoia. This satirical RPG is set in the futuristic Alpha Complex run by a paranoid computer. The players are Troubleshooters looking out for Commie Mutant traitors…except every character in Alpha Complex is a traitor of some sort, including all the PCs at the table.

Why Deadpool Would Love It: Paranoia is a game of wanton violence and dark humor. It fits Deadpool’s sense of humor to a T, even allowing for several clones of characters to allow everyone multiple versions of spectacular deaths when their traitorous natures are exposed. Deadpool’s amazing healing factor would allow him to describe these deaths in detail because he’s probably gone through them all.

Issue #2 – Marvel Super Heroes

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The Game: TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes RPG. A beloved superhero game from the mid-80’s that allowed fans to lace up Captain America’s boots for four-color battles with Marvel villains, or take a moment to create their own heroes to protect the citizens of New York City.

Why Deadpool Would Love It: Playing other Marvel characters fits Deadpool’s M.O. and his snarky asides wouldn’t be out of place at most gaming tables. He probably has dozens of funny voices to use for his fellow Marvel characters and might even just have a conversation with himself in the corner while everyone else played the game. Plus, the game is known to fans by the acronym the main attributes spell out—FASERIP. That alone would amuse Deadpool for several sessions.

Issue #3 – Dungeons & Dragons

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The Game: TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons. This cover references the 1st Edition Expert Set that acts as a companion piece to the Basic Set. The wizard is spying on the scene from the first cover.

Why Deadpool Would Love It: Nearly everyone started out playing D&D in their RPG experience. Deadpool is likely no different. He might have even played it back when he was plain old Wade Wilson. Old-school D&D is often run in an adversarial style featuring puzzles that challenge the player and not the character. Deadpool seems to be the type who would frustrate DMs trying to outsmart their players and cause the game to end in a growl of frustration.

Issue #4 – Dice Man

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The Game: The Dice Man comic anthology. This is probably the deepest cut out of the covers, being a short series from 1986 released by Fleetway as a spin-off of 2000 AD. But it’s also the most directly relevant, as most of the feature stories in each book were gamebook style tales centered around Rick Fortune, a psychic detective using Atlantean dice to help the reader get through each story.

Why Deadpool Would Love It: These comics are in the same style as You Are Deadpool but their anthology styling also fit the wide variety of stories that Deadpool fits. One month could be a gritty shootout with mob thugs, the next could be a romp through the galaxy with a variety of spacefaring heroes. And Deadpool is likely to be one of the few people to successfully complete the impossible issue where the reader plays Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America.

Issue #5 – GURPS

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The Game: The Generic Universal Role-Playing System—better known as GURPS—was originally released by Steve Jackson Games as a way for gamers to only have to know one system to play multiple genres. It also is known for several great sourcebooks full of tips and tricks to help gamers get genres to feel just right.

Why Deadpool Would Love It: Deadpool’s genre flexibility fits here as well, but it also reflects the idea that this is a game where he could play himself. Deadpool the Barbarian one week, Captain Deadpool of the Starship Underpants the next. GURPS characters are also often built with a high amount of points that make them powerhouses that can stand up to anyone. Sound familiar?

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Image Credits: Marvel Comics, West End Games, Fleetway Games, TSR, Steve Jackson Games

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 all the way down 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. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

Beyond Scrabble – 5 Superlative Games For Word Lovers

Apr 25 2018

We love tabletop games here at Geek & Sundry, and we love to showcase the best games out there. If you want to stay tuned into what’s new and exciting in the world of tabletop games, be sure to tune into Game the Game hosted by Becca Scott, with episodes going live each week that you can watch here at GeekandSundry.com.

With approximately 150 million copies sold, Scrabble is the 800-pound gorilla of word games. Tournaments are held worldwide every year and millions of players continue to memorize lists of two-letter words.

Scrabble’s success has spawned countless imitators, from Boggle to Bananagrams, and it’s also inspired other word games that use modern game mechanisms. From deck builders to party games, there’s now a word game for everyone. Here are five great word games that any Scrabble fan will enjoy.

Word on the Street

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A terrific alternative to Scrabble, Word on the Street by Educational Insights is a word-based tug-of-war. Players split up into two teams and are trying to get 7 letters to their side of the road. The letters are the 17 consonants except J, Q, X, and Z. On your turn you’ll draw a card with a prompt like, “types of fruit.” Your team has 30 seconds to come up with a one-word answer and then move letters in that word toward your side. If you said, “banana,” then you’d move the B once and the N twice. Playable in only 20 minutes, Word on the Street is a good way for Scrabble fans to get their spelling fix.

Codenames

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Codenames by Czech Games burst onto the gaming scene three years ago and shows no signs of slowing down, with branded versions like Disney Family Codenames and Marvel Codenames making it to big-box store shelves. Two teams try to figure out who their fellow spies are within a 5×5 grid of single words. Each team is led by a spymaster knows the spies’ identity and they give a one-word and one-number clue on their turn. Teams guess words based on the clue and either reveal their spies, the opponents’ spies, or the dreaded assassin, who immediately ends the game. So, if two of your spies are located at “gas” and “pit,” your spymaster might say, “barbecue, two.” Of course, there might be the word “hamburger” in the grid, too, so which one do you choose?.

Paperback

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Dominion meets Scrabble in the excellent deck-building word game Paperback by Fowers games. Players start with cards featuring common letters and a few wild cards. You play five on your turn, trying to form words. The cards used for the word are tallied for their buying power and you’ll buy cards from the center tableau, just like in Dominion. These cards feature more valuable letters and/or special abilities such as drawing additional cards or doubling letter scores. The most expensive cards are the wild cards that also double as the game’s victory points.

Hardback

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For gamers who want less Scrabble in their deck building, this sequel to Paperback focuses more on the deck building aspect than the word creation. In Hardback by Fowers Games there are no wild cards; simply turn over any card to make it wild. You’ll still create words, but you’ll also try to match genres for additional abilities on your cards, much like playing similar factions in Star Realms and other deck builders. Instead of Paperback’s goal of finishing off two stacks of victory point cards, Hardback is a straightforward race to 60 points.

Word Domination

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Area control isn’t a mechanism typically associated with word games, but Word Domination by Fowers Games makes it work. Like Boggle, Word Domination offers a grid of letters for players to form words. Unlike Boggle, you’ll place tokens on letters you’ve used on your word. On subsequent turns if you use letters with your tokens, you’ll capture that letter and put it into your hand. The emphasis isn’t on word building, but on area control, so you’ll need to pay attention to what special powers you might unlock on your next turn. Of course, having a large vocabulary will benefit you as you try to score enough victory points for the win.

What’s your favorite word game? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

WANT MORE BOARD GAME GOODNESS?

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts about games on The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

Five Great Games to Play with the Older Gamers on International Tabletop Day

Apr 25 2018

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

The world of tabletop gaming has changed since our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. While they may not want to delve into the world of Gloomhaven or back the latest miniatures-filled game on Kickstarter, they’re usually willing to play something new.  Games that help us connect to generations that came before us are out there. Most elderly gamers are familiar with classic games such as chess, bridge, and Scrabble and have a great vernacular for gaming. Thanks to designers who’ve adopted these mechanisms into new games, it’s easier than ever for players of all ages to play together during International Tabletop Day.

Here are five great games that are great for elderly gamers. Go visit your grandparents or volunteer at your local senior center and introduce them to modern board games!

Onitama

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There are two ways to win in Onitama: either capture your opponent’s master pawn or get your master pawn to your opponent’s starting temple space. Each game begins with a random draw of five cards that determine each piece’s movement for that game. You play one card to move, then exchange it for another card for your next turn. Featuring top-notch components, lots of movement cards for replayability, and a 15-minute game play time, Onitama can be enjoyed by any gamer, but especially those with an affinity for chess or checkers.

Qwirkle

Qwirkle

Players who understand the Scrabble tile-laying mechanism will find similar game-play in Qwirkle. Instead of creating words using letter tiles, however, you’re trying to match shapes and colors. On your turn you place a single row of tiles while using at least one previously placed tile. After playing your tiles, replace them by drawing from the bag; the game ends after the last tile is placed. Best of all, there’s no need to memorize any boring lists of two-letter words or words that start with the letter Q.

NMBR 9

NMBR9

Puzzle lovers will enjoy NMBR 9, a spatial game with unique scoring rules. Players draw random oddly-shaped numbers and try to place them adjacent to each other. The only way to score points, however, is to place numbers on top of each other. For each level they’re above the table, the bigger multiplier you receive, but only if they’re completely supported by the numbers underneath them. Most games only take 20 minutes and it’s an excellent way to scratch that jigsaw-puzzle itch.

Diamonds

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Designer Mike Fitzgerald based Diamonds on the classic trick-taking mechanism found in bridge and spades and added a clever set of special abilities that are triggered whenever you can’t follow suit. So, if the current suit is hearts and you can only play hearts, then you take a diamond and put it in your showroom. If you break suit with spades, then you take a diamond from your showroom and put it into your vault. There are other ways to earn diamonds through the other suits and smart card play, and the player with the most diamonds wins.

Tsuro

This is another puzzle-like game with a simple goal: be the last dragon standing. Turns are simple: play one of three tiles onto the board and move your dragon token to the end of its path. As tiles connect with other, the paths will intersect and sometimes loop around in entertaining ways. Playing up to 8 players, Tsuro is a fast and easy way to introduce elderly gamers to the hobby.

Do you play games with your grandparents? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water. 

WANT BOARD GAME GOODNESS?

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts with The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

 

Go Through The Looking-Glass In ‘Wonderland’ – A 2-Player Tabletop Day Delight

Apr 25 2018

Wonderland is a new two-player game from Renegade Game Studios, releasing this Saturday – exclusively at game stores – for International Tabletop Day!

In Wonderland, players play either Alice or the Red Queen, and take turns placing cards in a six-by-six grid to earn points in each of the rows and columns. The trick is: each player only knows the value of either the rows or the columns, and the other is a mystery! This is because, at the beginning of the game, each player places secret cards face-down that determine the scores of the rows or columns, which will not be revealed until the end of the game. There are also potions and cakes on certain cards, which can help you increase your point values or undercut your opponent. Beautiful Alice in Wonderland-themed art was created for the game by Beth Sobel.

Wonderland is a quick-playing two-player abstract game designed specifically to be well-balanced, so one player can’t run away with victory immediately. It’s a great play for intense gamers, newbies, or a mix of both.

We sat down with the designer of the game, Daniel Solis, to ask him about Wonderland, his other projects, and what he thinks makes a good two-player game.

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G&S: Why did you decide to design this game? Where did the idea for these mechanics come from?
DS: I like two-player abstract games (like Onitama and the Duke), but I don’t like knowing who’s going to win five turns ahead of the end of the game. The two solutions I came up for that problem were to make the whole game five turns basically, and to have the players secretly determine the value of what they’re fighting for.

G&S: What do you think makes a good two-player game?
DS: A good two-player games feels like a tennis match. You are responding to your opponent while also setting up something for your opponent to react to. A game falls down when an opponent has no chance to respond, or no chance to set something up. I personally like two-player game when players are on their own parallel tracks, and occasionally bump shoulders with each other, but are not always in direct conflict.

G&S: What are your favorite two-player games?
DS: Targi is a worker placement game, feels very Euro-y. It has so much lovely engine-building in it. My wife loves Seasons as a two-player game. It is a deck and dice game, and she loves building engines—she can put three or four things together and become an unstoppable point machine. Lost Cities is an old classic that my wife and I both love. And of course, Jaipur is fantastic.

G&S: How do relate theme to mechanics when designing a game, like the theme of Alice in Wonderland for Wonderland?
DS: It’s kind of like ping-pong. Theme will bounce something onto mechanics, and then mechanics will bounce something back onto theme. Hopefully that happens enough times that you can’t even tell when the game began. Optimally, if I’m doing my job you can’t tell where I started.

Of course, sometimes the theme changes over time — Junk Orbit (coming from Renegade Game Studios this June) started as a game called “Penny Farthing Catapult,” about wealthy Victorian people hurling their wealth at one another using badly-constructed catapults that would recoil after shooting. By changing this game to be space-themed, I was able to add new mechanics that made it even better! I was worried at first that people wouldn’t be interested in a space game, so we had focused on the more steampunky theme, but fortunately, after the film the Martian came out, people were way more knowledgeable about astrodynamics.

Daniel Solis

G&S: You make so many weird and wonderful games with new approaches to game mechanics. Do you have any advice for aspiring creators?
DS: I think of a bit of advice an art professor gave me — it’s easier to do something good in a new space then something good in an old space. When you’re the first to do something, nobody knows if it’s any good or not!

What games will you be playing on International Tabletop Day? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

Want more two-player gaming goodness?

Image Credits: Daniel Solis, Renegade Games

Meet Some Of The Awesome Guests For This Year’s International Tabletop Day Stream

Apr 25 2018

It’s nearly here! International Tabletop Day is happening this Saturday, April 28th – and to celebrate we’re playing games all day and streaming the action to you on Twitch, YouTube, and Alpha starting at 9AM Pacific.  Here’s a quick list of guests and games you can expect on the stream!

The Climbers Guests (1)

We’re kicking off the gaming with an oversized version of The Climbers by Capstone Games. The goal is simple: climb to the highest level you can, as only one player can end up on top! Ivan van Norman will be hosting the game, and B. Dave Walters (host of Ask Your Black Geek Friend and friend of The Wednesday Club), Ross Thompson (founder of Kingdom-Con), Markeia McCarty (friend of The Wednesday Club), and Jason Charles Miller (host of Starter Kit on Alpha) will be seeing who comes out on top!

Grimm Forest Guests Final

At around 11 AM, we’ll be getting into our second game: Grimm Forest by Druid City Games. Players take on the roles of sweet little pigs, nieces, and nephews of that famous trio, ready to go to work and develop housing for the evil king. It’s a race to building three structures of straw, wood, or brick by heading to locations and scooping up resources. Becca Scott will be joined by Brittanie Boe of Be Bold Games,  James Hudson of Druid City Games, and Rodney Smith of Watch it Played!

Flipships Guests

After that, we’re warming up our flicking fingers to play the delightful dexterity game,  Flipships by Renegade Games. In this cooperative dexterity game, you get the arcade feel of a top-down scrolling shooter of old, with flip mechanics that help you destroy oncoming ships, with the ultimate goal of taking down the dreaded Mothership. Ashley Esqueda (CNET senior editor and Alpha host) will be joined by Mandi Hutchinson (of The Dice Tower), and recognizable Geek & Sundry/Twitch/Alpha personalities Erika Ishii (Game Engine), Kellar Knoblock (Dick & Johnson), and Hector Navarro (Shield of Tomorrow).

World wide wrestling

Geek & Sundry is getting ready to rumble with World Wide Wrestling by ndpdesigns. In this roleplaying game, it’s all about feuds, championships, betrayal, and righteous victory. Who’ll show up to be the face, and who will show up to be the heel? Find out which players will be taking on the roles of Ms. X, Local Wonder, Jack Slammer, Chuck Duncan and Minx by tuning in as the motley crew of Geek & Sundry bust out the chairs and ladders in this all-out-brawl.

Contest of champions guest final

Who better to oversee Upper Deck’s  Marvel Contest of Champions: Battlerealm game than Key Question and The Wednesday Club host Matt Key? At the table we’ll have Markeia McCarty, Brittany Wolloch (who you might recongize from her previous appearance on Game the Game), and veteran Geek & Sundry personality Amy Dallen.

What games are you busting out for International Tabletop Day? Let us know about it in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch, YouTube, and Alpha for our International Tabletop Day stream where you can help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

Image Credits: Rodney Smith, Brittanie Boe, Mandi Hutchinson, Ross Thompson

WATCH: Wednesday Club One Shot – Infinity War on Sesame Street!?

Apr 25 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.

The will of the Celestials is fickle and strange — so strange that they’ve dropped the Infinity Gauntlet into Sesame Street! It’s up to our noble heroes Matt Key, Amy Dallen, and Taliesin Jaffe to determine who best fits the six Infinity Stones/Gems among the classic television program’s friendly, felted cast!

What fictional realm would be the most interesting for Thanos’s Infinity Gauntlet to land in? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to join The Wednesday Club Live Wednesdays at 7pm PT on Alpha or Twitch.

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How To Make A Game: Four Great Online Resources for Aspiring Designers

Apr 24 2018

Love board games? So do we! Join host Becca Scott here on Geek & Sundry for Game the Game, where she breaks out the best games in tabletop and plays them with fantastic guests.

Have a great game idea, but no idea what to do with it? Want to geek out about game design, but don’t have a local convention coming up? We asked top game designers where they go online to learn about, teach about, and discuss game design. There’s all kinds of great discourse happening if you know where to find it. Check out these resources from the comfort of your computer!

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Cardboard Edison

“I’m surprised how much quality game design theory is being discussed on Twitter,” said Vee Hendro, the co-designer of Good Society: a Jane Austen Roleplaying Game. “It’s a great place to poke your head in and see all the big names!”  Of course, just logging onto Twitter can result in an over-inundation of information, not all of it useful, so it’s important to know where to start.

That’s where Cardboard Edison comes in! Daniel Solis, designer of Kodama and Junk Orbit, recommended following Cardboard Edison, which does a great job of curating game design blogs, threads, and videos on their Twitter and Patreon pages. If there’s a great thread about game design somewhere, chances are, Cardboard Edison will find and share it!

While you’re on Twitter, our experts recommended threads posted by Eric Lang about design and inclusiveness, and — speaking of Daniel Solis — a thread he wrote (and turned into a YouTube video) about graphing the arcs of different types of gameplay.

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This chart by designer Daniel Solis was part of a study on “arcs” in games he posted as a thread on Twitter and Youtube

Designer Blogs

The most recommended resource by our experts was Jamey Stegmaier’s Stonemaier Games Blog.  “He writes down his entire game design life,” said Jon Ritter, Operations Manager of Lay Waste Games, who created the board game Dragoon. “I don’t know many designers who haven’t read at least one of his articles.”

Marcus Ross, designer of Discount Salmon and Beeeees!, also recommended designer James Mathe’s blog, which covers design, Kickstarter, and more. According to Marcus, these two blogs are the “standard” for advice on design and Kickstarter.

Google+ Communities

“Game Design may be the only thing Google Plus is still used for by anyone,” said Avery Alder, designer of tabletop roleplaying games including Monsterheartsthe Quiet Year, and Dream Askew. Many of our game experts recommended Google Plus as the top social network for game design — the mix of social network and long-form blog options on Google Plus may just be the perfect mix for game designers looking to discuss their craft. Plus, hangouts allow folks to play games right on the same site!

Games On Trial is a Google+ community where RPG designers can not only discuss their in-development games, but also playtest them using Google Hangouts!

Board Game Design is just one of the several thousands-of-members community where game design is discussed among professionals and aspiring designers alike. Search around for a page that appeals to you, or find the designer of your favorite game and follow their progress, too! Just remember to be respectful, not entitled, when joining in on conversations.

GDC Vault

The Game Developers Conference is a gathering of game design professionals started in 1988, and though its focus has primarily been video game design, Daniel Solis said he finds their resources relevant for the design of board games as well. GDC Vault contains a wealth of information, including postmortems on “what worked and what didn’t” for indie games. “Learning from other people’s mistakes is useful, regardless of whether the medium might be,” Daniel said. GDC Vault offers lots of free content, as well as a subscription option for even more.

Additionally, the GDC YouTube page has free archives of talks, including some about tabletop games, so you can learn about design from experts without having to make a social media account or wade into a discussion board!

More Resources

Of course, there are many more than four online resources for game designers. Here are some recommended by our experts:

  • The Gauntlet is an online community for RPG design and playtesting.
  • Avery Alder runs a mentorship program for Indie story-game developers.
  • The Indie Game Developer Network has a large set of articles and resources for tabletop designers
  • Facebook Groups: “There are great Facebook groups that don’t cost money to join,” said Jon Ritter. “Of course, there’s always going to be bad advice because it’s the internet, so take everything with a grain of salt.”

game designers - article two

Our Game Experts: Cara Heacock & Marcus Ross, Hayley Gordon & Vee Henro, Daniel Solis, Avery Alder, and Jon Ritter.

Where’s your favorite place to learn about game design online? What did we miss? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join host Becca Scott on Game the Game every Thursday here on Geek & Sundry to watch the best board games played with fantastic guests!

Want more boardgame design advice?

Image Credits: Cara Heacock & Marcus Ross, Haley Gordon & Vee Henro, Daniel Solis, Avery Alder, Jon Ritter, Teri Litorco

These Gamers Built An App To Help You Find Local Gaming Events, Clubs & Groups

Apr 24 2018

We’re counting down the days until International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

Living in this current Golden Age of board games means more games, more players, and more ways to find each other. Gone are the days of hanging out at the local Game Keeper, reading handwritten index cards filled with information on players looking for games. Nowadays, gamers can turn to social media and various community sites to find each other, but even these resources aren’t always reliable.

That’s where GameFor comes in. Now available on iOS and Android, the GameFor mobile app connects gamers to game stores, events, and each other. It also supports gaming groups and clubs, and over 6,000 game stores worldwide.

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Designed by a group of six gamers who work for Milk Can Dev & Design Studio, a mobile app development and design studio based in Appleton, Wisconsin, Game For hopes to make life easier for finding like-minded gamers.

“We’re a small team of six tabletop gamers that make mobile apps and websites for business clients of all stripes,” designer Adam Loper said. “Through our personal experiences, we found there are real difficulties in finding game events, gaming groups and clubs, and even gaming stores in your local area. We decided to put our know-how to good use by helping to build the local tabletop community.”

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Originally conceived as a way to find local players to play casual games of Star Wars: X-Wing, GameFor soon became a full-fledged product and was launched last December. It’s been updated regularly ever since. “As gamers, we wanted all the features to be in the app from the beginning, but as designers and developers making a software product, we knew that we couldn’t have every idea we’d ever had in the app on launch, as it would cause enormous delays,” Loper said.

GameFor hopes to meet the needs of gamers that online resources such as Meetup andBoard Game Geek can’t meet.

“We are hoping to bring together the best parts of event and player discovery into one cohesive platform that is focused on all tabletop gamers,” Loper said. “Finding gaming groups, events or even other gamers who like to play BattleTech games should be easier than scouring tons of forums, websites, and store cork boards.”

It’s not surprising Loper would want to connect gamers, and even before GameFor he’s successfully run a miniature wargaming YouTube channel, Tabletop Minions, under the moniker Atom Smasher, and cultivated a community around the content. The channel recently hit 80K subscribers, and he continues to post regular content today.

Whether you’re looking for a local store, some organized play events, a gaming group or even an International Tabletop Day event to join, GameFor is an app that can help you with that.

What are your favorite gaming apps? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water. 

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Image Credits: GameFor

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts with The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

 

Here’s Your Games and Noms Menu for International Tabletop Day

Apr 24 2018

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

You’re all fired up for International Tabletop Day, but sometimes life happens and all of a sudden you’re faced with the harsh reality of not being ready for the big day.

With so many gaming and food options available nowadays, how are you expected to come up with an entertaining menu for your guests?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a five-course gaming menu that’s sure to satisfy any gamer’s appetite on the big day. We’ve even paired each game with a dish so nobody goes hungry.

Game and eat on!

Appetizer: Zany Penguins

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Most appetizers are quick and tasty bites to wake up your taste buds. Zany Penguins does the same thing for your gaming taste buds, offering a quick and tasty combination of card drafting, area control, and set collection. Players try to take over the world by collecting penguin cards, playing cards in front of them to control each faction. Each round you’ll pass cards to the players on your left and right. After eight rounds, whoever controls each faction scores points for the penguin cards left in their hand. It’s a delicate balancing act of playing and giving away your penguins.

Pair Zany Penguins with sweet plantain chips. They’re a nice change from regular potato chips and Trader Joe’s sells them by the bag.    

Salad: Harvest Dice

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Like a hearty salad, Harvest Dice is light but more substantial than you might expect. In this roll-and-write game each player drafts dice to plant veggies in their garden. Dice represent carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce and each round one will go to market, increasing in value for end-game scoring. If you can’t use a die, you’ll feed it to the Pig. As the pig fills up on food, it’ll give you special abilities such as changing a die’s color or increasing/decreasing its pip value.

Pair Harvest Dice with a robust salad that you can make yourself, like this one featuring marinated chickpeas, salami, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, Asiago cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette.

Main Dish: Terraforming Mars

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Terraforming Mars is a meaty and hearty game, a centerpiece of your gaming experience like the main course at dinner. You and your opponents represent corporations set on terraforming the red planet. Play is card-driven and give you nearly limitless options, from introducing plants to building cities. Each player builds their engines to produce MegaCredits and earn bonuses and those elusive victory points. This is a minimum two-hour game no matter what player count, but it is one of the most satisfying gaming experiences you can have on International Tabletop Day.

Pair Terraforming Mars with a good steak, cooked to perfection in a cast-iron pan. David Chang’s recipe is an excellent reference point.

Dessert: Go Nuts for Donuts

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Nothing’s better than a little sweet treat after a satisfying meal. Go Nuts for Donuts has a similar set collection mechanism as Sushi Go!, but its drafting mechanism is different: each turn you’ll bid on a community set of donut cards and if you’re the only one bidding on a card, you claim it. If you and another player bid on the same card, you both get nothing. You’ll build sets of donuts and the highest score wins.

Pair it with chocolate chip cookies. Donuts are the obvious choice here, but we prefer them in the morning. Cookies are easier to make, too. Go with this favorite from epicurious.com

Coffee: Happy Salmon

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You don’t want your guests to go home in a food coma, so a quick game or two of Happy Salmon will get everyone’s blood flowing. You and your opponents each have a deck of cards you’re trying to get rid of and you play one card at a time, trying to match someone else’s card. Each time you do, you perform the action depicted. So, if you and your opponent show the high-five card, you’ll do the high five and both lose that card. First one to get rid of all of their cards wins. There are four actions in total and after you play it once, you’ll always remember the secret Happy Salmon handshake.

Pair it with a nice cup of coffee. Support your local coffeehouse and pick up some of their house blend beans, grind them yourself, and send your guests home happy. And be sure to learn about our favorite bean on The Oatmeal

What are your favorite foods to eat while gaming? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water. 

WANT MORE FOOD AND GAMES?

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts with The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

7 Helpful Tips For New Players Embarking Onto The ‘Sea of Thieves’

Apr 24 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.

Whether it’s griefers or weapon glitches, Sea of Thieves isn’t without its flaws. But even though the co-op pirate adventure game gets a lot of flak, we still think it’s pretty awesome. From navigating rough waters with your closest friends to battling a colossal sea monster, these experiences are both unforgettable and unique. That’s why I want to help my fellow pirates get off on the right pegleg—er, foot. So, without further ado, here are 7 helpful tips for new players.

1. Need a pig crate, chicken coop, or snake basket? You can get them from the merchant NPC at any outpost.

Twitter / @SeaOfThieves
If you love the Merchant Alliance like I do, you probably know that these voyages require a great deal of patience. Unless you trust this list on Reddit, you’re basically stuck hopping from island to island looking for the animals you need. Luckily, you don’t have to travel around the world for animal traps, as you can get them from the merchant NPC at any outpost. Just don’t lose them because you can’t get extra ones. Cue the sad trombone.

2. Not sure which direction the wind is blowing? Check the flag!

Twitter / @TheDarkLoraxDM

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which direction the wind is blowing. Is it due west? Is it south-by-southeast? What do these nautical terms even mean? If you’re not sure, just look up at the flag atop the crow’s nest. You’ll want to angle your sails in that direction.  To turn the sails faster ask one of your crewmates to hop onto the other side. If there’s one thing you should remember, it’s this: full sails are happy sails.

3. Need to hide a valuable chest? Put it inside a less valuable chest.

Twitter / @SeaOfThieves
In the middle of a Gold Hoarders quest? Well, here’s a little trick. Treasure chests are like Russian nesting dolls in that you can stack them inside of each other. Whenever my husband and I set off for an outpost, we always hide the most valuable chest inside a less valuable one. It takes a moment to get the positioning right, but once you do, it’s a clever way to keep your chests safe from other players.

4. Use your spyglass sparingly.

Microsoft Screenshot / Star Intercept

Unless you want to light up like a Christmas tree, you should only use your spyglass only when absolutely necessary. It’s great for spotting shipwrecks and barrels (and zooming up on your crew mate’s faces), but it makes you highly visible to enemy players. If you have to use it, I’d recommend scanning the ocean first with the naked eye. If you’re really hungry for a fight and want other players to know you’re looking at them, go ahead and spyglass the crap out of them.

5. Turn off your lanterns.

Twitter / @SeaOfThieves
If you want your ship to blend in with the darkness, you should turn off all of your lanterns during the night cycle. This includes the ones inside the ship as well. Switching off your lanterns makes you hard to see. This is useful when you’re on a time-sensitive voyage and want to sail the seas relatively undetected. Plus, if you’ve got dark sails, you’re basically invisible to other players. My husband and I lovingly refer to this as “stealth mode.”

6. Snakes become docile when you play music.

Twitter / @shacknews

If you’ve ever tangoed with a snake in this game, you probably know how temperamental they are. I absolutely loathe the fact that they can spit poison at you from a considerable distance. Whether you’re just running by or capturing one, it doesn’t matter, they’ll always have a bone to pick with you. That said, you can put them in a trance by playing music. So, when the time comes to capture one, crack out that accordion and do what you do best.

7. Raise your sails when you get close to an island.

Twitter / @SeaofThieves
Unless you’re trying to crash your ship on purpose, you should always raise your sails when approaching an island. Whether it’s a sloop or a galleon, they go a lot faster than you think they do. Raising your sails decreases your speed and gives you better control over your ship. You can make much tighter turns, too. While it won’t stop you from careening into a sandbar, it’ll lessen the damage.

Have any additional tips? Tell us in the comments below and be sure to check out Game Engine (on Twitch and Alpha Tuesdays at 4 PM Pacific) to learn more about the coolest things in the world of games with Erika and Trisha.

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Image Credits: Sea of Thieves

WATCH: How To Play – Planet of the Apes by IDW Games

Apr 24 2018

 Join host Becca Scott as she breaks out some of the best boardgames the industry has to offer every week here on Geek & Sundry!

This week, Becca’s teaching us all how to play Planet of the Apes by IDW Games. If you’re a fan of the original movies, you’ll get a kick out of this take on it. Each player is a facet of Colonel George Taylor’s psyche and needs to work together to survive. The real beauty of this game lies in its flavor text to help set the scene, so don’t neglect it to rush through the game.

You’re working through major and minor scenes to get to the end of the story. Each of the major scenes has multiple encounters that need to be resolved. To resolve an encounter, you need to roll dice Yahtzee style to match the needed result. Action cards can be used to gain additional dice or rerolls as needed. If you don’t succeed, you get the bad stuff (usually moving the Ape or Statue of Liberty forward on the board). The scene ends when either Taylor or the Ape reaches the zero spot. Then it’s time to move on to the next scene.

On your turn, you can take three actions. Actions include: draw an action card (either face up or from the deck), clear face up action cards and refresh them, have an encounter, give a card to another player, spend either two or four of the same suit to heal, or spend four cards to move the Ape marker back a space. There are three more actions you can take at any time: turn in three matching cards to get a red (wild) dice, turn in three matching cards to gain a skill token, or turn in four cards to get a special card.

When your turn is over, you move the sunrise token to the next tick on its tracker. When it makes its way back to the sunrise spot, draw one of the Planet of the Apes cards and resolve it. Then check the active encounters to see if any of them have sunrise effects. Resolve them and continue to the next player.

All you need to do to win is make it to the eighth and final scene, the Discovery.  That that point, the game reaches its narrative climax, but unlike the movie, there are different endings to this story.

Don’t get too cozy, though, as there are two different ways to lose: have everyone have their cards flipped to defeated at the same time or the Statue of Liberty reaches the zero spot on the board. If it feels a little like Pandemic where the odds are stacked against you, but just remember that you are an endangered species on a planet filled with damn, dirty apes.

Ready to explore? Check out Planet of the Apes for your next movie and game night!

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‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ 5th Edition Is Coming This Summer

Apr 23 2018

Many fans of White Wolf Entertainment’s World of Darkness and Vampire: The Masquerade have been waiting… upwards of fifteen years for the next edition of the tabletop game. For better or worse, our vampire fix has been maintained by the 20th-anniversary edition of the books that spruced up some rules and compiled content but were never true revisions. We at Geek & Sundry are huge fans, and we’ve even run special a one-shot episode of Critical Role in the World of Darkness.

On Monday, White Wolf Entertainment announced that they would be partnering up with Modiphius Entertainment to distribute Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition (V5) worldwide in English. With pre-orders beginning this Saturday, the 28th of April, and will start shipping later in August.

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V5 is a return to Vampire’s original vision with a shift to the 21st century. The rules have been redesigned from the ground-up, with a focus on the new innovative hunger system. From someone who has played the Alpha Slice that was released earlier, fans of the genre can look forward to balancing their characters desire for power, with the hunger of the beast on a knifes edge once again.

The most important part of V5 to many will be the advancement of the deep story held in the original series, putting out any fears that it was a reboot of the world. According to the announcement, the metaplot will be advanced from where it left off, and detail exactly what has happened in the world of the Kindred up until tonight. The terror of the Second Inquisition, conspiracies behind the Gehenna War, and the rekindling of the War of Ages all set the stage to build a modern V5 chronicle.

The anticipated V5 launch will feature three main full-color hardback books. The V5 corebook, the Anarch and Camarilla source-books, and an accessory set of dice, storyteller screen, and V5 notebook. Of course, this leaves out a glaring omission of the most important sect in the setting, the saviors of the Cainite race the Sabbat*, but to be fair, we did mess up the whole Gehenna thing a while back, so we will have to be patient and wait for our glory to come.

All three books will also be available in high-quality slipcase for collectors, along with a special edition of the corebook, and all preorder options will feature bundles.

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Pre-orders will be shipping in August for the first release, in stores in September, and the Camarilla and Anarch setting books will be released at the end of the fall. Additional languages will be available by the end of the year.

If you want to follow the press-release or look more into this, you can check out White Wolf’s website, Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter, as well as Modiphius’ site.

Do you have any hopes or plans to restart your Vampire chronicles? Dust off your trench coats and dust off your cheesy copy of Machiavelli? Let us know in the comments below!

*Editor’s note: The personal expression of the writer’s Sabbat affiliation does not express the allegiance of Geek & Sundry.

 

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Featured Image: White Wolf Entertainment Diablarie
Image Credits: Toreador – Photo credit to Sequoia Emmannuelle, Model Indi Korth, Art Director Mary Lee, V5 Diablarie, and Animalism by White Wolf Entertainment

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: Critical Role – Where The River Goes (Campaign 2, Episode 15)

Apr 23 2018

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!)

Heading down an underground river, the Mighty Nein explore a long-abandoned research facility, uncovering dangerous foes and even more dangerous secrets…

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 Archer Danger Island and D&D Beyond for sponsoring this episode of Critical Role Archer Danger Island is premiering on April 25th at 10pm on FXX! 

A special thanks to D&D Beyond for being a long time partner of Critical Role! Check out https://www.dndbeyond.com for all of your D&D digital toolset needs!  D&D Beyond is offering 25% off of their Legendary Bundle with discount code “826LA”.

If you’re looking to catch the action live, join us every Thursday on Alpha and Twitch at 7 PM PT. If you’re not already subscribed to Alpha, you can get a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com.

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This video is sponsored.

Want To Run A One-Shot RPG For Tabletop Day? Micro-RPGs Have Got You Covered

Apr 23 2018

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them.  Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

If you’re looking for something special to do for Tabletop Day, one-shot RPG sessions are a great way to roleplay without starting a whole new campaign. Of course, that usually means that the GM has to spend a good amount of time prepping a session, and everyone playing needs to know the system you’re using, otherwise a good amount of time will be spent teaching the game. If that all works for you, great. If not, Micro-RPGs are the way to go.

Micro-RPGs are compact games that fit the entirety of their rules onto one or two pages. That means that you can learn the game in a few minutes and get started right away. Some of them don’t even have GMs, so there’s no preparation whatsoever. Those that do often encourage improvisation, so you won’t have to worry too much about writing a deep, compelling story beforehand. No matter what kind of RPGs you like to play, at least one of these should pique your interest.

All Outta Bubblegum

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Geek and Sundry fans should be well acquainted with All Outta Bubblegum, the system used by our resident crime fighters/good ol’ boys Dick and Johnson, and inspired by the most memorable line from cult classic They Live. If you haven’t seen the show, the rules are dead simple. You have one stat: bubblegum. It starts at eight (and you really should use actual gum if you can). You can do two things: kick ass (self-explanatory) or chew bubblegum (anything that isn’t kicking ass). If you want to kick ass you roll a d10 and have to get higher than your current bubblegum. If you want to chew bubblegum, roll lower. If you fail a roll your bubblegum goes down (chew a piece of gum to show this). As your stat goes down and your mouths fill with gum, fighting becomes easier but talking becomes much harder.

This game is objectively ridiculous and perfect if you have a couple of friends who don’t need complex rules to enjoy an RPG. If you’re GMing a session, just come up with some kind of problem, from the mundane to the apocalyptic, and let your players run wild trying to solve it.

Honey Heist

Honey Heist Sad Matt

After Critical Role’s Vox Machina campaign ended, the cast played a number of one-shots. One of which was Trinket’s Honey Heist. When playing Honey Heist, “you are trying to pull off the greatest heist the world has ever seen. Two things – One: You have a complex plan that requires precise timing. Two: You are a GODDAMN BEAR.”

The system uses two stats: Bear and Criminal, allowing you to do bear and not-bear related activities, respectively. When the plan goes well you get a little greedy, increasing your Criminal stat but lowering your Bear stat. When the plan goes south you get frustrated and the reverse happens. Having high stats make certain things easier, but if either stat gets to six, you’ll succumb to either your criminal or ursine nature and that means bad news for everyone.

If you want to prep a complex session of Honey Heist ahead of time, you totally can, but if you don’t, the rules have you covered. For the players there are random tables to tell you things like your bear type, role in the heist, and what kind of awesome hat(s) you wear. For the GM, there are even more resources to establish the HoneyCon setting, security features, and other surprises. And if you like Honey Heist, check out the other Micro-RPGs by designer Grant Howitt. I recommend Dr. Magnethands, an RPG/party game/drinking game that’s only ostensibly about Super Heroes, and Trashkin, a more traditional fantasy RPG system about literal garbage folk like Half-Possums and Pigeonkin who decide to go on a real life adventure.

200 Word RPG Challenge

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If your gaming group wants to try something a little more avant-garde, take a look at the 200 Word RPG Challenge website. This is a yearly contest where people submit RPGs with a strict word limit. Because of this, these games are usually very rules-light (more so than the ones we’ve already described) and involve a lot more interactive storytelling. Instead of winning or losing, these games are often more about the experience had while playing.

To give a couple examples: Time Travel Thaw is about superheroes fighting a villain who’s gone back in time to erase them from existence. Everyone writes their superpowers in sharpie on a paper towel. Then you place an ice cube on the towel and whenever the water reaches something you’ve written, you lose that ability as it is erased from time. If you lose all your powers, you are lost for all eternity.

Route Clearance is much more contemplative. Your group is a platoon of US Army soldiers clearing IEDs out of the road from Kabul to Kandahar. Each player describes their soldier, giving a short backstory of their training and motivations. The road is represented by twelve playing cards played face down in a line. Each turn a player flips a card and, using a table describing what each suit and number represents (danger, comradery, reflection, etc.), narrates the scene that takes place. At the end, each player describes how (and if) their soldier comes out of the experience.

One Page Dungeons

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We’ve talked about One Page Dungeons on the site before, and they’re still a great resource for one-shots. Like the 200 Word RPG Challenge, this is a yearly contest where people submit a dungeon, often with illustrations or layouts. These are usually system-neutral, so you can play them with whatever system you use or, if you want, play without a system and go pure roleplaying.

Some good examples of these designs (all of which can be found here) are Crimson Tide Tower: a haunted lighthouse with rumors of lost treasure; Griswald’s Shifting Dungeon: an enchanted dungeon whose rooms and walls are constantly moving; and Prisoners of the Gelatinous Dome: whose rooms are constantly being eroded and destroyed by gelatinous ooze, so any adventurers who want to abscond with the treasure within will have to do so before they become trapped themselves. The One Page Dungeon Contest has been going on since 2009 so there are many more to choose from. They’re a perfect resource for one-shots but they can just as easily be fit into your ongoing campaigns.

Are you planning a one-shot for Tabletop Day? Let us know about it in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

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Image credits: Geek and Sundry, Armand Kossayan, Jeff Call

As well as writing for Geek and Sundry, Shea teaches board games on his YouTube channel RTFM. You can also talk to/follow/stalk him on Twitter @Sheasayswords

The Critical Role Cast Played These Games and You Should Too (on Tabletop Day)

Apr 23 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.

When we are lucky enough to watch the Critical Role cast sit down to play a game, there are some rare occasions when it’s not Dungeons & Dragons. We’ve been treated to other role-playing games from the cast like Honey Heist, Vampire: The Masquerade, Deadlands, and more—and of course, they were all spectacular—but did you know they also enjoy board games from time to time?

International Tabletop Day is the perfect opportunity to play some of those tabletop games yourself! Here are four games they’ve played here on Geek & Sundry. If you’re a fan of Critical Role, be sure watch the cast play so you can learn the rules and see some of your favorite D&D players change the game.

Weave

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Like Mansions of Madness, Weave integrates smartphones and tablets with a free app that’s an important part of the gameplay. One player is the Storyteller, who chooses the setting and storyline. Cards are drawn and scanned with the app, giving you theme, locations, and a boss.

Every week on Weave Society, a different storyteller takes the reins and leads the players through amazing stories of kooky characters in strange places. Marisha Ray recently led the Weave players on a “Leaderboard Lockout” adventure set in 1982. It was her first time playing and leading a game of Weave, showing not only how easy the roleplaying game is to pick up, but how good she is at telling stories.

Dead of Winter

You and your friends will battle against zombies and the elements in the cooperative board game Dead of Winter. At least, you think they’re all your friends—there may be a traitor in your midst, thwarting your efforts to stay alive in the harsh winter.

Ashley Johnson teamed up with Grant Imahara, Dodger Leigh, and Wil Wheaton for a harrowing game on TableTop that mixed survival with suspicion. It seems like they’re all on the same side, but when (even more) terrible things start to happen, can they get out alive? (2-5 players, 60-90 minutes, Ages 12+)

Mansions of Madness

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(Video available on demand on Twitch with a subscription to view.)

Matt Mercer, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Talks Machina host Brian W. Foster, and Critical Role guest star Darin DePaul joined forces to enter the H.P. Lovecraft-themed board game Mansions of Madness (Second Edition). With characters to choose from, miniatures, and a well-developed setting, it feels like a mini role-playing game.

“Insanity is always a risk,” described Matt. “There’s creatures, and mystery, and mystique, it’s fun. I’m a big fan of [Mansions of Madness].”

The game is unique because of the detailed, robust app that accompanies gameplay. “It will auto-generate a board for you,” explained Taliesin, “that you only discover as you play the game… The app auto balances as things are added to make sure the game is fair.” (1-5 Players, 2-3 hours, Ages 14+)

Harbour

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Harbour is a competitive worker placement game from the creator of Tiny Epic Galaxies. It combines “marketplace strategy, resource management, and of course, clever worker placement with maybe the most adorable meeple you’ll ever see in your life,” described Wil Wheaton. He invited Critical Role Dungeon Master Matt Mercer, Nika Harper, and Kyle Newman to play.

Even when playing board games, Matt enjoys adding a narrative to the experience. “It keeps it lively and invests me even more beyond the mechanics of the game,” he says during the Harbour TableTop episode.

If you want to add even more fun to your Tabletop Day, encourage your fellow players to embrace their inner witches and other sordid characters so they can do the same. (1-4 players, 30-60 minutes, Ages 10+)

Be sure to join us on April 28 on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

NEED MORE GAME IDEAS FOR INTERNATIONAL TABLETOP DAY?

All Images: Geek & Sundry

‘The Resistance’ Board Game Becomes a Tabletop RPG In ‘Uprising’

Apr 23 2018

Each week here at Geek & Sundry we’re taking a look at new and upcoming exciting titles on Kickstarter! This week’s Kickstarter of the week is Uprising, a role playing game set in the Dystopian Universe of The Resistance, Coup, Rebellion, Grifters and other tabletop games. The Kickstarter has exceeded their $10K funding goal and is over $30K.  

It’s fun to see a game loved by players doing well. The Resistance was the introduction many board game fans had to games involving a hidden traitor working at cross purposes with the rest of the table. The cool futuristic artwork expanded the setting into other games centered around deception and lies, such as the bluffing of Coup and the byzantine loyalties of One Night Revolution.

It seemed like only a matter of time before a tabletop RPG would explore this world of high tech and low truths. Enter Evil Hat Productions, which is currently running a Kickstarter for a tabletop RPG titled Uprising set in the universe of these games. Will the themes of futuristic intrigue transfer? Let’s check out the backer PDF, available to anyone who pledges to the game!
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Evil Hat is most famous for its rules system called Fate. Fate has been featured on TableTop and has gained a reputation as a system known for mechanical flexibility and narrative focus. Uprising uses a variation of Fate, but right away the influences of other modern RPGs like Apocalypse World and Blades in the Dark can be seen. Players select one of several playbooks that plants their character as part of the resistance.

Each playbook has strengths and weaknesses, but they also quickly become customized thanks to questions whose answers turn into aspects to describe your character. Characters are defined by four skills they use to get things done for the resistance: Fight, Manipulate, Maneuver and Observe Instead of open consequences, each playbook has conditions which reflect the physical and mental dangers of standing up to those in power. The characters, in addition to the usual compels that complicate their lives, also generate blowback, which follows them from mission to mission. The Society wants to see those who stand against it punished for their crimes, so their long memories can follow characters through multiple sessions.

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The game is set in the futuristic city of Paris Nouveau, where the culture has separated into three levels: La Societe,  Les Citoyens and Les Exiles. All the PCs are members of La Resistance, but the tension between the haves, the have-nots, and the outcasts puts a tense element of paranoia into the game from the start. The book is full of details about the three castes, but it also leaves room for the players and GM to customize the game. The table creates a “character” for both the resistance and the government by defining what the resistance is trying to get and what the government is trying to hide.

Complicating matters further are the secrets that each character possesses. The group creates a common deck of secrets during character creation that everyone draws from at the beginning of the game. These secrets often set players at cross purposes but they also offer a chance for characters to advance more quickly for the players that play up to them. Many of them involve true motivations for joining the fight or reveal a character is actually a spy there to bring down the rebels!

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The backer levels for the Kickstarter include one for digital fans and one for physical books. Backing now also unlocks several digital goodies from Evil Hat including Fate Core, Fate Accelerated and previews up other upcoming games. Stretch goals have unlocked more information about the setting and easy to use elements that GMs can drop in to their games with a minimum of trouble. Thousands of board gamers have fought for the resistance. Now there’s a chance to truly see the struggle to the end with this RPG.

The Kickstarter ends Wednesday, May 2nd. If you think you can protect your secrets, you have until then to back this game.

Are you a fan of The Resistance? Tell us about it in the comments!

Interested in more amazing games full of intrigue and betrayal?

Image Credits: Evil Hat Productions

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 all the way down 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. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

Building A Star Trek RPG Character With The New Lifepath Generator

Apr 20 2018

Every Friday at 4:00 PM PT, a talented crew roleplays their way through the galaxy to fulfill a mission: to boldly go where no one has gone before. Follow the adventures of the USS Sally Ride on Shield of Tomorrow on Twitch and Alpha.

Playing tabletop RPGs are fun, but most people start the experience by filling out some paperwork. Different games handle this necessary process in a different way. Some offer templates to speed the process, while others turn it into a mini-game. Star Trek Adventures uses what’s called a lifepath system, which creates the history of the character in a way that also puts together the mechanical components of the character for play. This allows players to start thinking about their character stories as quickly as possible even as the crew is coming together.

To make things even easier, Modiphius has created a browser-ready generator that lets players make their characters with a few clicks of a button. Let’s use the new app to go step by step and create a new Starfleet officer!

Choose Your Era

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Since we’ve already taken the time to recreate William Riker using these rules, let’s explore a different era. We’re going to make an officer that served during the Original Series era!

Select Species

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The generator allows for random or selected characteristics. Humans are the most common type in Starfleet, but we want something a little more exotic. Let’s select a Trill—that way, we can still play the character if someone else decides to run a game in the Next Generation.

Environment

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We’ve chosen the first few parts of our character; let’s let fate decide a few pieces. We hit the random environment button and our Trill was born on a Starfleet vessel.  I think being an old soul gives our Trill some Insight, and it also gives the character some skill in Command. The Value we choose reflects our character’s nature as Joined: Born On A Vessel, Became A Vessel.

Upbringing

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Our random selection turns into Business/Trade as an upbringing. Looks like our Trill was part of a merchant family, possibly stopping at a Starbase to be born. I think our character rebelled against this upbringing, as their time on the Starbase as a young child gave them the Starfleet bug. They’ve got more Insight, more Command and a Linguistics specialty coming from all the different species encountered.

Starfleet Academy

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We’ll take control back for a moment as our Trill enters the academy. He’s going to school to become a communications officer and enters the Command School. We increase his Reason and Presence to reflect this and give him a Command major with a Science and Security minor. He’s going to need Science to decipher new languages and Security to protect himself when he’s brought along as a translator. This idea sparks his specialties centered around persuasion and diplomacy. What Value did he learn at the Academy? Careful Words Solve Big Problems.

Career

STAcareer

We randomly determine that at the start of play, our Trill is a veteran officer. We think he still has a bit of wanderer in his heart from his merchant upbringing that Starfleet hasn’t completely fulfilled.  Still Seeking Meaning adds a spiritual component to this idea. Trill’s are effectively immortal but don’t have all the answers. Why is that?

First Career Event

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We roll a random career event and we get a curveball. A transporter accident! Trill aren’t supposed to use transporters (even though Dax does all the time). Since this is the Original Series time period, perhaps the physiology of Trill and transporters are not as well understood and our Trill ended up going through an illness where various memories and personalities of the symbiont took over until the medical officer could restore the current Joined personality. That gives him the Small Craft focus and he only uses transporters when absolutely necessary.

Second Career Event

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Another unexpected random event, as this cool negotiator developed a New Battle Strategy. We’ve envisioned this character as something of a pacifist, but we also know that when innocent lives hang in the balance, they need to launch into action. Here, we envision an away mission gone wrong against the Klingons. They think our Trill won’t fight back, but he does, and protects his wounded commander until help arrives. That lets him Lead By Example as his focus.

Finishing Touches

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The time has come to finish up our character. We add some Daring and Fitness to reflect his unexpected heroics along with a little Security and Medicine to patch up and protect fellow away team members. We choose the character’s rank and role on the ship. He’s a Lieutenant Commander as a Veteran and Ship’s Communications Officer seems like a good fit. Out of the suggested names we select Torias Pohr. His final value shows what he’s learned from his experiences in Starfleet: Fear Is Not An Option. The final screen allows us to export the character to PDF, so without further ado, we present Lt. Commander Torias Pohr!

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How would you use this character in your game? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to tune into our Star Trek RPG show, Shield of Tomorrow on Geek & Sundry Twitch and Alpha every Friday starting at 4 PM PT, followed by our aftershow on Alpha, Behind The Shield, where the crew discuss the episode and other Star Trek topics.

Want more Star Trek goodness?

Image Credits: CBS, Modiphius (Screenshots by Rob Wieland)

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, where he is currently reviewing classic Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

Is Your Mini Hot or Not? A Brief History of CMON Games

Apr 20 2018

Geek & Sundry’s Painters Guild is our show where host Will Friedle goes on a journey to learn how to paint miniatures. Last season, he learned basic techniques, and in season 2, he’ll be improving his miniature painting skills as guests join him and teach him new tips and techniques. Join him on Alpha paint those #happylittleminis!

CMON Games is a titan of the tabletop. The company is a true behemoth of board game design and production. In the past four years, CMON Games has grossed over $38 million on Kickstarter, and has produced a number of critically acclaimed games. The company has gone public, and is now traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company has yearly miniature-painting contests with a first place cash prize of $10,000. Yet for all that, CMON Games started out in the most humble and surprising of ways: As HotorNot.com for miniatures.

Your Space Marine Mini is a 10

James Hong and Jim Young, a pair of Silicon Valley software engineers, started HotorNot.com in 2000. The site allowed users to rate each others’ attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10, telling users whether they were, uh, hot or not.

David Doust, who is now CMON Games’ executive director, thought the concept would work just as well with judging painted miniatures. Chern Ann Ng, who is now CMON’s CEO, took over coding the site, “as a hobby.” Ng said, “You have to remember this was before Facebook, Twitter, etc., so we became the de facto place to share your latest painted miniature work with everyone, swap tips and maybe pick up some hot imports from our online store.”

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The site grew, and over time, Doust and Ng considered using the site as a launching point to publish their own games. Ng said that the pair saw an opening in the market, a niche which they could fill. The pair loved miniature games, and had since they were kids. But the problem with miniature games was that they were a huge investment, both in time and in money. What 33-year-old with three kids a cat and a mortgage could keep up with Warhammer 40,000?

Ng thought, “Self-contained board games, with great miniatures, reasonable pricing, and two hours or less in game length would be an attractive product category that no one really addressed before.” The pair self-funded their first game, with advances from European distributors.

The company used Kickstarter to launch games beginning in 2012, and one of their most successful franchises, Zombicide, was born.

Zombies: Now with more artificial intelligence

Zombicide grossed over $781,000 on Kickstarter, but the game came about through a stunning series of coincidences, happenstances, and serendipities which, if gods of game existed, would look like them shaping the terrain of the tabletop for the 21st century.

Ng had played zombie-themed board games before, and all had the same deeply irritating mechanic. He said, “most (if not all) of them had to have an ‘Evil Mastermind’ controlling the ravening undead. Ng believed that no one sat down to a zombie-themed board game itching to play the undead. But the “Evil Mastermind” mechanic forced at least one player to miss the fun of the game. Ng observed, “No one wants to control zombies, everyone wants to blast them!”

Ng had a revelation. Zombies were “perfectly predictable eating machines.” Why not create rules to dictate zombie movement so that everyone could enjoy the fun of applying high-velocity rifle rounds to their skulls?

David Doust knew that David Preti, director of Guillotine Games, was working on a zombie-themed board game with just such a mechanic. Preti was Italian, but at the time he was living in Singapore, so close to Chern Ann Ng that the two were “practically neighbors.”

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In an example of globalization at its finest, Ng was able to sit down in Singapore and talk with Italian David Preti whom he had met through his American CEO. They discussed publishing Zombicide together.

In a further happy coincidence, Zombicide was on Kickstarter at the same time as Ogre: Designer’s Edition. Ng said, “Both of our companies had a fan base, so having two projects at the same time funding well generated a lot of buzz for both projects.”

The buzz led to the famous and geek-hallowed halls of Penny Arcade. Tycho (Jerry Holkins) wrote an editorial about Zombicide and Ogre which led to a spike in funding on Kickstarter.

In another happy coincidence, one of CMON Games’ employees lived in Seattle, and he knew a number of people who worked for Penny Arcade. To capitalize on Penny Arcade’s attention, CMON licensed one of Penny Arcade’s characters, the Cardboard Tube Samurai, as a special piece for Zombicide. As a result of the licensing of the Cardboard Tube Samurai, Kickstarter exploded for Zombicide. CMON originally was seeking a mere $20,000 in funding, and that would be used to pay for the tooling of the miniature pieces. The Kickstarter had already blown past that modest goal, but the last three days of the campaign would see hundreds of thousands of dollars in pledges streaming into Zombicide. The game brought in a total of over $781,000 on Kickstarter, with 50% of that coming in the last three days of the campaign. Ng described the experience as, “surreal.”

It was a series of coincidences, or perhaps luck informed by a number of savvy business decisions on the part of the CMON Games staff, which made Zombicide into what Ng today described as, “our most successful franchise.”

CMON Goes Public at the HKSE and Shows Geek Games Make Green

In December of 2016, CMON Games became a publicly traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Every time a game company becomes so successful that it goes public, it is a historic moment. It is a moment that says to every geek, dweeb, nerd, and poindexter that ever shuffled a miniature across a hex grid that in the great game of culture, we’re winning.

In addition to signaling the victory of geekdom, CMON Games going public means that nosey journalists like me get a look under the hood at the financials of a game company. They show a company growing at a quick clip, and getting more profitable over time. First of all, the company’s revenue increased by 41% between 2016 and 2017, approximately $21 million to $29.8 million. Secondly, net profits at the company shot up 34.6% in the same period.

Song of Ice and Fire Kickstarter

In addition to speaking to the dedication, talent, business acumen, intelligence, and the ability of everyone at CMON Games, it is also a testament to the stunning growth of the hobby gaming market since the Great Recession. Gaming is now in its ninth year of growth and appears to have truly broken into the mainstream of world culture.

Zombicide keeps growing, having explored zombies in modern day, in fantasy and with the launch of the Zombicide Invader Kickstarter, the franchise has taken to space. Moreover, CMON Games continues to grow, and this year will be launching A Song of Ice And Fire Miniatures Game based on the George R.R. Martin novels.

It’s an interesting start for a company that has come to dominate the landscape of boardgames, and we can’t wait to see more.

What CMON Games do you love? Let us know in the comments below!  For more tips and techniques for painting gorgeous miniatures for your tabletop games, check out Geek & Sundry’s Painters Guild on Alpha. Don’t have an Alpha subscription? Get a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com.

Want more miniature boardgame goodness? 

All images courtesy: CMON Games, Teri Litorco

Ben Riggs speaks five languages and has lived in four countries on three continents, but still manages to lose his keys in the bathroom. A friend to man, animal, and werewolf alike, you can discover more of Ben’s thoughts on game, the universe, and everything on Twitter, or on the Plot Points podcast. you can read his novel about the only good orc here.

How One Woman Living With Lupus Uses Board Games As Therapy

Apr 20 2018

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

For the last three years, Lexy Kendrick lived with chronic pain in her hips and legs. She spent entire days asleep and fought off pneumonia three times. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her until a round of blood work and x-rays at the end of last year.

She had lupus.

It was a bittersweet day for Kendrick. While devastated by the news that she had an incurable disease, she found solace in the fact that she now knew what’d been causing her so much pain. “I cried mainly out of relief,” she said, “because I knew I could get treatment for this.”

Lupus is a disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy organs and tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic so many other illnesses and ailments, but with proper treatment, most people with lupus can expect to live a normal lifespan.

After her diagnosis, Kendrick had to cut down her shifts as a veterinary assistant and her physical activity was extremely limited. She found herself at home, spending days in bed due to her illness. “It was depressing. I’d go on social media and see people posting about climbing mountains and stuff,” she said. “I’m 22 years old and I was like an old lady.”

That’s when she turned to board games.

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Her boyfriend had a copy of Fallout, a board game based on the popular video game. They enjoyed it so much that they sought out other tabletop titles. They soon stumbled upon a local game night, where Kendrick played gateway games like Ticket to Ride and Potion Explosion, which she brought home to her family.

“With how lupus has affected me, I didn’t know how to spend time with my family. I couldn’t do the things we did before,” she said. “But now we play games together and they’re hooked. I spend more time with my family than I did before and it’s easier to talk to them about my condition.”

This support from her family and friends has helped Kendrick as she deals with the daily realities of lupus, from regular doses of medication to the chronic pain.

“Sometimes I can’t get up and around the way I want to. That makes things hard,” she said. “You basically have a limited amount of energy each day. You can have all of these plans, but once that energy’s gone, that’s it.”

Along with the physical and mental toll lupus has taken on her, Kendrick has also faced the stereotypes associated with the disease. Because there aren’t any outward symptoms, people mistakenly believe that nothing’s wrong with her.

“I used to get really mad and angry about people not sympathizing with me,” she said, “but now I know it’s a lack of understanding.”

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With her increased knowledge of the disease as well as an improved diet and regular medical appointments, Kendrick maintains a positive attitude. She also recognizes the therapeutic role that board games have played in her life.

“There’s something called ‘lupus fog,’ where you start forgetting things and talking slower,” she explained. “Games like Terraforming Mars help me remember things and keep me mentally sharp. I don’t have to spend days asleep because there’s nothing else I can do.

“Board games are more than entertainment for me,” she said, “and they’re a welcome escape from not being able to do much.”

Do you know anyone using board games as therapy? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

WANT TO MEET MORE AMAZING PEOPLE WHO PLAY BOARD GAMES?

Featured Image Credit: Ruel Gaviola

Image Credits: Lexy Kendrick, Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts about games on The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: Death is Bae

Apr 20 2018

The Wednesday Club is Geek & Sundry’s weekly talk show chatting about all things comics. This week, hosts Matt Key, Taliesin Jaffe, and Amy Dallen went cosmic—Marvel Cosmic, that is. Learn all about Thanos, Adam Warlock, and what else the cosmos holds in the Marvel universe.

The stories known as “Marvel Cosmic” are some of the most epic tales Marvel tells. Set in, naturally, the cosmos, these are stories of gods, and Death, and even more death. “This is some of my favorite comic book stuff,” Matt said. “It’s so over the top and so just insane and ridiculous… It’s just imagination unfettered.”

The characters are one-of-a-kind and simply unforgettable, from the formidable Thanos to one of Taliesin’s favorite characters, the golden god Adam Warlock.

Marvel’s cosmic stories are definitely daunting in their complexity, but The Wednesday Club is here to explain some of the major stories and characters. “Cosmic Marvel is like a graduate level class,” Matt said with a smile.

With just one week to go before Infinity War, this is a great introduction to some characters we’ll be meeting as they take on the Avengers on the big screen for the first time.

Take a look at the gallery below for specific recommendations from this episode.

Matt, Amy, and Taliesin also mentioned Marvel Cosmic books like Warlock, Thanos Quest, Silver Surfer, and Infinity.

THE DAILY WEDNESDAY

Did you know The Wednesday Club has their own letters column with questions and comments from viewers? Send in your thoughts, comic recommendations, questions, and more to Matt, Amy, and Taliesin at thewednesdayclub@geekandsundry.com and you might just see yourself on the next episode.

Please mark your message “OK to read on air” so the hosts know what you’re comfortable with sharing.

GET MORE COMIC GOODNESS!

Hang out on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha every Wednesday night to catch the next spectacular episode of The Wednesday Club.

All Images: Marvel Comics

You Can Play a Critical Role in Kids’ Lives by Supporting 826LA

Apr 20 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.

Critical Role has supported the Los Angeles-based charity 826LA since the beginning of the livestream, and helping the organization has been an important goal of second campaign in particular. 826LA’s mission is to inspire and support kids ages 6 to 18 in their writing and storytelling endeavors who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do so.

Not only does the organization tutor and host workshops in reading and writing, 826LA also travels to under-resourced local schools to help both students and teachers.

This spring Critical Role and 826LA have teamed up to fundraise together, not only giving kids some incredible opportunities to learn about the art of storytelling, but also offering Critters the chance to unlock some amazing incentives for the entire community.

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In just about one week, the fundraising efforts have raised over $25,000–way to go, Critters!–rewarding everyone with special discounts at D&D Beyond and Wyrmwood Gaming, as well as with an upcoming Reddit Q&A with the crew.

(Take a look at the Critical Role Twitter to find out what those discount codes are, but they’re only valid for a limited time–so don’t wait!)

Not only is the cast of Critical Role instrumental in getting the word out about this fundraising campaign, they also have been generously donating their time and storytelling expertise at 826LA to inspire new tales in D&D and beyond.

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Critical Role guest star Darin DePaul even stopped by recently, and brought smiles to every face in the room.

Whoa! Guest star ogre @DarinDePaul joins the @CriticalRole team and takes our students into a new dimension of their seemingly perilous journey! https://t.co/vj7tqZTqsa pic.twitter.com/hEdh1RHuKO

— Joel Arquillos (@JoelArquillos) April 14, 2018

Donations are tax-deductible and will be matched by fellow Critter Mark Koro up to $40,000. (Thanks, Mark!) The fundraising campaign runs until mid-May, so don’t delay in adding in your support, whether it’s financial or just helping get the word out to the Critter community and beyond.

WANT MORE CRITICAL ROLE?

  • 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 updates about this fundraising initiative.
  • And don’t miss new episodes of Critical Role LIVE on Alpha and Twitch, Thursdays at 7pm PT.

Images: Critical Role and 826LA

Photo: Joel Arquillos

 

WATCH: Shield of Tomorrow – Inquest (Episode 13)

Apr 20 2018

Shield of Tomorrow is our Star Trek Adventures RPG show. GM’ed by Eric Campbell, the talented cast comprised of Sam de Leve, Amy Dallen, Hector Navarro, and Bonnie Gordon embark on weekly adventures aboard the USS Sally Ride.

Want to catch the show live? Tune in every Friday at 4:00 PM PT and follow the adventures of the USS Sally Ride on Twitch and Alpha. You can also catch the aftershow, Behind The Shieldon Alpha immediately after Shield of Tomorrow. Don’t have an Alpha subscription? Sign up now for a free 30-day trial at projectalpha.com.

Want more Shield of Tomorrow goodness?

What D&D Players Can Learn From Numenera

Apr 19 2018

You gotta start somewhere, so why not start now? Starter Kit delivers you to the world of roleplaying games in a fun and easy-to-digest manner! Join host Jason Charles Miller and special guests to help build up your Starter Kit and begin your own adventure!

We’re very excited for the new season of Starter Kit. Jason Charles Miller does a wonderful job exposing the minds of his new players to the awesomeness that is tabletop role-playing and also expanding the horizon of viewers looking for new games to try. Dungeons & Dragons is awesome, but there are a lot of other great games out there to play.

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This season, Jason introduces his players to the weird fantasy of Numenera from Monte Cook Games, with Monte Cook himself. The game shares many similarities with Dungeons & Dragons, but it is the differences that can teach tabletop gamers a thing or two about playing D&D should they decide to watch—or decide to take Numenera out for a spin!

A World of Clarke’s Third Law

5.Burrow-Town

Numenera is set in the Ninth World, which gets its name from the idea that humanity has risen and fallen as a great empire eight previous times. All of our history and our history yet to come is the First World, with seven more between us and the people of the Ninth World. Strewn across the face of the planet are massive technological remnants that players are driven to explore, understand and, in some cases, bring back. Imagine a dungeon that’s not the lair of a dragon, but the halls of an ancient transdimensional colony ship.

The Ninth World invokes a sense of wonder that fantasy worlds sometimes struggle to do with a lot of elements that are familiar to fans of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s still a world full of magic and danger, reflecting the famous quote from sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” D&D players will find a lot to discover in these ruins, bringing back unusual ideas to flavor their own campaigns to make them stand out.

Solving Puzzles With Cyphers

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The magic items recovered by adventurers also feel different in Numenera. These cyphers, as they are known, are meant to be disposable ways to break the laws of physics, and also tend to be disposable. The collection and use of these items is a central part to a classic Numenera game, but players often are unaware of their true nature. They only know what the item does without knowing its original purpose. This encourages using these items to solve traps and other problems in unusual ways different from the reasons they were created.

A frictionless gel, for example, can help an explorer slide a jammed door, move a massive sculpture or even be useful in avoiding the strikes of a strange creature. The lateral thinking encouraged through cypher use translates well to D&D for those magic items that don’t obviously produce a +1 bonus to something in combat.

Characters Created By A Sentence

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Every Numenera PC can be described by a sentence that follows this structure: “I am an adjective noun who verbs” It’s a stunning way to choose a class, background, and specialization featuring mechanical backing for each one of those words. A Proud Jack who Fuses Flesh and Steel certainly feels different than a Rugged Jack who Rides the Lightning.

While D&D requires a little more character definition in its first few levels, using this structure for a character concept lets the player focus on three things at first level without defining too much in play. A Loud Barbarian who Seeks Vengeance can go quite a few ways, but all of them sound like fun.

Have you played Numenera? Tell us in the comments! And if you’re looking for roleplaying tips, do check out Starter Kit on Alpha – you can get a free trial for 60 days at projectalpha.com in anticipation for the newest season with code “Numenera”!

Want more RPG goodness?

Images Credits: Geek & Sundry, Monte Cook Games 

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. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

GALLERY: Critical Role Fan Art – Puzzle Pieces

Apr 19 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.

It was truth or dare time for the Mighty Nein in their latest adventure, as they learned more about each other and about potential allies.

Check out the gallery below!

SUBMIT YOUR ART

Every picture in this gallery is hand-picked by the Critical Role cast. How does one get their prints in front of Matt Mercer and the rest of the Mighty Nein? Your best chances are to throw it on Twitter and direct your drawings at #CriticalRole and #CriticalRoleFanArt. (Sometimes it helps to include the Twitter handle of your favorite cast member).

You can also send your picture to critrole@gmail.com. Make sure you include your name, website, or Twitter handle with the art.

WANT MORE CRITICAL ROLE?

Featured Image Art by erionmakuo.tumblr.com

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