Wednesday, August 31, 2011

KGS Podcast - Episode 00028 - Eclipse Phase RPG Review


Gaming Aide #1b - Tabbing Atomic Highway

As a promised, following up my post Gaming Aide #1this post, Gaming Aide #1b, is my second in a line telling everyone where I've put my tabs in some of my most used game books.

Atomic Highway has taken roleplaying in the post apocalyptic age to a new high. The V6 engine gives you easy mechanic with a system that drives you to being focused on having fun. For many of us in KGS this has become the standard on what a good fun game should be like. For myself this is my preferred game to run for game days at the store. In a 4 hour demo I usually have everyone make characters and for the rest of the 3 hours and 45 min they have plenty of time for an action packed adventure. The V6 engine lends itself to entertaining seasoned players while not overwhelming new players with a bunch of rules and confusing mombo jumbo.

If any book doesn't need to be tabbed it would be this one! Atomic Highway is only 129 pages and if you use it a few time you find yourself opening the book right to the right page without trying. Still I think you'll find that the few pages that I have tabbed will speed up your game.

Like I said in #1a , one thing to keep in mind about my list is that my books are tabbed for my use as a referee not a player. Here and there you'll find me marking a page for my players but not to often. So as a player in a Atomic Highway game you'll want most of these same tabs along with the tabs for any other thing that you end up using all the time.

What you'll find below is what page to put the tab on and what I wrote on my tab

Atomic Highway referee tabbing:

pg 19 - Character Creation
pg 23 - using exp
pg 47 - Weapons
pg 51 - Vehicle Customazation
pg 55 - Scavenging
pg 65 - Actions
pg 75 - Healing
pg 81 - Vehicle Combat
pg 101 - NPC's
pg 121 - Creatures

Yeah, I know its not very many pages but that's one of the things that makes us love Atomic Highway, it all you need.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Christianity and D&D

This is an essay that was written by my friend and KGS fan, Bill.

Among the Christian community, no game has created more negative response and borderline panic at the mere mention of its name than Dungeons and Dragons. Lumped together with Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible, Heavy Metal music, and violent slasher films, D&D has been accused of converting players to Witchcraft, Satanism and suicide. Images of dragons, devils and monsters adorn the covers causing Christians to forgo the age old saying, never judge a book by its cover.

Before we begin, I’d like to share a little about me. I am 39 years old, a Christian, and have been an avid fan of Role-Playing games for over 23 years. I was born and raised Catholic, and converted to a more Protestant, Non-Denominational faith around 14-15 years old. I am married, no children, and attend church regularly.

In both the Catholic Church as well as the Non-Denominational churches, I was amazed at the level of faith parishioners display. Not in our Lord Jesus Christ, but in the sermons and speeches from priests, pastors, travelling ministers and youth leaders. When speaking on the evils of the world, including music videos, fashion, and various pop-cultures, their word was unquestioned. No research or statement was ever investigated, argued or counterpointed. It seemed much of the testimony was taken at face value.

With my formidable youth spent in the 80’s, I was exposed to the “satanic panic” of its day. So prevalent was this panic that various Christian leaders couldn’t even agree on what was safe for Christian youths to be exposed to. For example, Christian Rock was praised as a spiritually healthy alternative to its secular counterpart. Others felt that the very nature of rock n roll, even its harmonies and tempos, were inherently demonic. The Catholic Church tried to offset Halloween with All Saint’s Day while other Christian faiths flat out refuse any celebration on Hollow’s Eve.  With so many mixed messages, and lack of seeking personal knowledge of the subject matter, what was one to believe? When it came to D&D, I was confronted with story after story about the evils of this game. More akin to urban legends, my youth group peers and Pastors told tales of young men and women who sold their souls to the devil. There were stories about those who accepted our Lord as their personal savior, and flinging their game books into the fire, only to hear unearthly screams of torment. Ministers warned parents that the game required players to cast spells, summon demons, and carry a spell book. There were stories of those who used D&D to trap players into Satanism, and forcing them into bizarre acts of sexual perversion and human sacrifice. Was this all true? Was there a hidden satanic conspiracy right under our nose? Could our next door neighbors be Satanists? Many of these stories were hearsay. Some were actual testimony from former “victims” of Satanists. In their testimonies however, they also mention that they’ve experimented with drugs and alcohol. Yet this part of their testimony goes largely unaddressed. Nor does anyone question mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disease. When they refer to human sacrifice, they produce no evidence of missing children, court documents or arrest records. Yet somehow it’s simply understood that these events have gone on, and all they’ve done to escape the torment is walk away. Accept the Lord Jesus Christ and they can’t harm you anymore.

So I set out for myself to uncover the truth. I wanted to know who was playing these games, what was involved, and see for myself if the rumors were true. At this point, I already began playing other Role-Playing games, or RPGs, such as Marvel Superheroes and Battletech. The people I met at various gaming tables and college also played D&D. They seemed normal enough, despite one or two eccentricities, so I sat in for a few games.

Before I go any further into my experiences, I’d like to back up for a minute and shed some detail on D&D, its history, and what inspired role-playing games. Where did they come from? How did they evolve? There are many RPGs on the market today. Even the out-of-print games can be found on the internet. But D&D is unmistakably the first.  Published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR), and designed by Gary Gygax and David Arneson. The game was inspired from miniature wargames.  Where D&D differs is they replaced the idea of a military formation to assigning each player a specific character to play. This of course had peaked the interest of game enthusiasts who have yearned for a more strategic, versatile game than the traditional games like Monopoly. In many ways, D&D was a progression of the classic board game experience. Both games use dice and playing pieces. Both games encourage players to amass influence and wealth. But for Monopoly players looking for strategic game play, little was found in games of this type. Consider the playing pieces of Monopoly, a shoe, a race car, an iron, or an airplane. These pieces represented you, but other than their shape, they offered no tactical advantage. In Dungeons & Dragons, your character mattered. Each character had specific advantages and disadvantages. Players no longer competed against each other, but cooperated in order to beat the challenges presented by the Dungeon Master.  Like “the banker” in Monopoly, it is the Dungeon Master, or DM, who oversees the rules, maps out the playing area, and distributes awards. While the banker also gets the dual role of fellow player, the DM must remain as the impartial referee. Like Monopoly, players are encouraged to amass wealth and influence. The difference lies in the next game of Monopoly, players start from scratch. In D&D, players can revisit their previous character. Money allows them to purchase better weapons, armor and equipment.  Experience Points, XP, is awarded to each player to bank on their character. Upon reaching a pre-determined amount of XP, characters “level up.” This gives players the opportunity to increase the characters attributes, skills and abilities. This will allow them to face even greater challenges.

As time went on other RPGs came out on the market. Games offered more depth of character, classes and an overall more enjoyable experience. It became less of a quasi-boardgame and more like interactive storytelling. But at its core they still involve the stand bys of gaining XP, amassing influence and increasing skills and abilities. D&D itself has gone under many revisions and even different publishers, such as the company Wizards of the Coast.

So now I begin attending gaming sessions involving D&D. Naturally, I am a bit apprehensive having been fed all these true stories about the game and stereotyping the kind of people who play them. In my 23 years of gaming, playing in my home and the homes of others, having played at college campuses, various gaming conventions, and even a corner booth late night at Denny’s, I have never encountered any of these truths. I never saw goblets of wine, black candles, pagan medallions or players adorned in black cloaks at any table (except once at a table other than our own at Denny’s. But if you go to Denny’s late at night, you never know what you’re going to see). I would now like to address a few of the more popular myths about D&D, and give you, the reader, a first hand, informed answer to these myths.
Myth: Dungeons & Dragons is morally inept. It encourages wanton killing by rewarding players with treasure and power.

Fact:  Not true. An important part of each character is determining his or her alignment. This comes in three categories; Good, Neutral, Evil. Good is, of course, good. Characters of good alignment behave in ways that are considered fair, just and honorable. They don’t steal, rape, pillage or plunder. They have an ethical code that they adhere to. Those of neutral alignment still have an ethical code, but aren’t afraid to bend the rules. Like Robin Hood, they may steal, but the ends justify the means. They still don’t outright break the law, nor do they engage in the more immoral acts. Think of the “bad boy good guy” archetype. Think of on screen characters like Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Good people, but somewhat roguish.  Those of evil alignment are, well, evil. They are morally deficient, selfish, and have no respect for life. The default stance in playing D&D is that players play characters of good or neutral alignment. Even the published adventures assume the players are of those alignments as the stories and challenges contained within are for player characters, PCs, to fight evilIt is possible to play evil characters, if the DM allows it. However, experienced DMs simply don’t allow it. They say it’s too unbalancing, and games quickly devolve into childish playing. Not fair to a DM who spent hours designing the story and maps for players to just run amuck and apply no strategy to it. Evil alignment is a necessary component for DMs who are creating specific characters to have them challenge the players. Sure, the D&D Monster Manual has write-ups on zombies for example, complete with gaming statistics. But who is the zombie Master? Is it an evil sorcerer? An undead barbarian with a magical amulet? That’s for the DM to know and the players to find out.

Myth: Dungeons & Dragons would have players casting spells and performing witchcraft.

Fact: Not true.  The character casts spells, the player does not.  Here is a following example of magic being used at a typical gaming table.

Brandon, Susan, and Anthony are playing a wizard, fighter, and thief respectively. As they investigate an abandoned keep on their search for the kidnapped princess they learn the keep is not as abandoned as they thought. Failing his attempt to check for traps, Anthony’s character accidentally sets off a trap incapacitating him. Susan’s fighter is attacked by a troll who gets a surprise attack and knocks her unconscious. It is Brandon’s turn to go.

Bandon: “I’m going to cast a fireball at the troll.”
DM: “Ok, your DC is a 15.” (this means Difficulty Challenge rating, and Brandon needs to score a value of 15 or higher on a 20-sided die to successfully hit the troll)
Brandon picks up the die and rolls a 12. He consults his character sheet. He has a +4 to his attack, giving a total value of 16, a success.
DM: “Ok, you hit. Roll your damage.”
Brandon again checks his character sheet, considering his level and skill in casting magic, he rolls 3 10-sided dice. 3+9+4, a total of 16. The DM checks his stats and sees this troll has only 14 hit points.
DM: “Ok, a flaming ball fires from your wand and impacts the troll with such force it knocks him off his feet. The smoke and fire quickly consume him.”
Brandon is now free to race up to the others and attempt to heal them.

What? Where’s the chanting? Where’s Brandon reciting some incantation? Doesn’t Brandon have to apply a drop of his own blood to the character sheet every time he casts magic? Does he consult a grimoire or something? Sorry to burst your bubble, but no. The example above is the extent to which one casts magic in an RPG.

Myth: It encourages paganism by having players worship false gods and deities.

Fact: Not True. In order to both add diversity among players of similar classes, as well as creating a moral guideline for players adhering to their alignment, characters are assumed to follow the edicts of their particular faith. While some like the fighter, thief and wizard may pay lip service to such a deity, others like the Cleric and Paladin are expected to be devout followers. Again, their characters are, not the players. This is merely a game mechanic giving players a frame of reference in how to have their players behave. Some may require a character to tirelessly seek out and destroy evil without question. Another may require a character to respect nature. Another question this myth raises is can Jesus exist in D&D? The answer is, of course, yes. Ultimately it is a fantasy world, and a DM is encouraged to be as creative as possible. With some effort, he can inject the One True God, and his son, into a D&D world. However, consider this; does Jesus belong in a fantasy world? God may be in all things, but a world that is not planet Earth? How would he address the many races of D&D. If Man is made in Gods image, are the Elves, Dwarves and Halflings inferior and unable to attain a state of grace? Would Jesus have enacted the same sequence of events on that world that he did in ours? Would he come from a virgin birth, became skilled in carpentry, performed miracles, have been betrayed, crucified, died for our sins and resurrect 3 days later? Such a series of events would have to take place in order to illicit the same set of values and beliefs that form Christianity here on Earth. Yet if we were to assume that Jesus does in fact hop from planet to planet reliving the same series of events, then it devalues what he did for us. We, as human beings become less significant if Jesus didn’t die for our sins and our sins only, but rather was reenacting a play he performed thousands of times. This all leads to the next myth…

Myth: This game is absent of Jesus Christ, Christian values, and detracts from his worship.

Fact: Mostly True. This leads to a fundamental argument in Christianity. Does anything that does not directly praise and acknowledge Jesus Christ a distraction from our focus, and ergo a sin? Extreme fundamentalism might suggest that merely watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond is sinful, for it distracts one from focusing on God for 30 minutes. Myself, I am not a fundamentalist. I do however have a set of ethics and morals I feel are in line with God’s word, I also acknowledge I am not perfect, just as I was designed to be. Therefore, I will indulge in activities and events that, while maybe not in the glorification of God, does not go against his commandments. For example, I may go to a football game and cheer my team for an hour, but I won’t attend a strip club. With that said, I liken this argument to the timeless classic of The Wizard of Oz. It has many similarities to D&D. Both are set in a fantasy world. Both have magic and sorcery. Both have a cast of non-humans. Both have witches. Heck, Wizard of Oz even goes so far as to suggest the existence of “good witches.” Nowhere in the film do they acknowledge God or Jesus. So the question remains, is this movie a gateway to Satanism? Does it promote pagan ideology? And what about Christian values? Doesn’t Dorothy ultimately learn the value of home and family? Are these not values Christians share? This is a personal question that Christians face daily. If Wizard of Oz is too distracting and threatens your faith, than D&D probably isn’t for you. However, if your faith is strong enough, D&D can be enjoyed at the same level as Oz. As long as things are kept in perspective, there is no harm.

To all my Christian brothers and sisters, I hope that this essay has helped shed some light. I certainly am not looking to convert you, but whatever your opinion on D&D is, if you have read this, than I am comfortable knowing that your opinion is at least an informed one. I also acknowledge that it would be hypocritical of me to ask you to take my testimony at face value while denouncing the others. So I encourage you to take this, like that of the opposition, with a grain of salt. Look into it yourself. Do your own research, blend your reason and your faith and arrive at a conclusion that is yours, and not merely adopting someone else’s.

God bless, and good gaming to ya.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tomorrow's War ~ Osprey's Sci-fi Miniature Battle Rules

If your a history buff of any sort or paint historical mini's I'm sure you've heard of Osprey who publish's some of the finest military history books on the market. Osprey is the goto for what happened and what it looked liked at the time.

Not to long ago they released their own miniature battle rule set, Force on Force, which allow you to battle it out in the Modern or WW2 era (I've heard lots of good things about but have yet to have a chance to play). Even better then battling it out today or during WW2 is battling it in the future! Osprey's now taken that step and Force on Force will been followed by a sci-fi miniature battle rule set named Tomorrow's War, due to be released in October 2011.

Dropship Horizon has recently posted a review on this much anticipated rule set. See if it sounds as cool to you as it does to me....

The Book

With a few notable exceptions, table top wargaming generally has been predominated by rules publications which, whatever the quality of the actual rules, have had comparatively low production values due to the relatively high costs of publication and the comparatively low numbers of rule sets sold. In contrast, and as you may have come to expect from Osprey, Tomorrow’s War is a very professionally produced and visually appealing rule book.

Following an introductory section (and a forward by Jon Tuffley which was also included in the pre-release PDF edition of the rules), there is a 24 page Background section which provides a potted history of the (optional) Tomorrow’s War universe and both humanity’s expansion into space and its continued warlike nature. For me, this was one the least interesting sections of the book, but I understand that many readers may require that a rulebook also provides a setting and it is therefore a necessary part of the book.

Similar to Force on Force, the book provides sections looking at the Turn Sequenceand The Basics of Play common to all Ambush Alley Games rule sets. Larger sections then go on to look at Infantry Combat and Mechanised Combat and then Close Air Support, Off-Board Artillery, Special Unit Types, Asymmetric Engagements and aTomorrow’s War Campaign. There are then several appendices that provide unit attributes, organisation examples, vehicle examples, scenarios, fog of war cards and finally that all important index!

If you've seen a copy of Force on Force, you'll know what to expect. This is a publication that really sets the bar in terms of quality. Tomorrow's War is a 260 page, full colour, hardback book. Tomorrow's War features specially commissioned maps and illustrations, as well as a good quality color photographs of 15mm and 28mm wargaming figures - just as we previewed on the blog back in June. There may be slightly fewer pictures and illustrations in Tomorrow's War then in Force on force but this is likely due to the space taken up by the additional rules content.

The Rules

Like Force on Force, from which it is derived, Tomorrow’s War will not be for everyone. This is not an ‘I go you go’ rule set; it seeks to capture a fluid combat situations through a creative and imaginative initiative system that hands one side the momentum in a battle, but at the same time keeps both players actively playing the game and allows all units to act (or react).

Initiative is determined by the scenario being played or by an opposed dice roll at the begining of each turn (with the player controlling the best trained force most likely to win the roll). The player with the initiative can have each of his units carry out actions (moving, shooting, etc.) and the player without the initiative attempts to interrupt or counteract each of those actions with his own units as they take place (firing first, returning fire, moving out of the line of sight, etc.).

As with Force on Force, the focus is on platoon / reinforced platoon sized engagements and (when scaled for 15mm sci fi) is played on 2 foot by 2 foot or 2 foot by 3 foot table.

Like Force on Force, Tomorrow’s War abstracts some elements of warfare (such as relative qualities of similar weapons such as assault rifles) in order to emphasise other aspects such as unit type (regular, irregular and robotic), troop quality, morale, confidence, supply and (new for Tomorrow’s war), tech level (weapons vs. armour and stealth vs. sensors).

The relative qualities of different units are reflected in different dice (d6, d8, d10 and d12) in opposed dice rolls giving a significant advantage to troops with better characteristics. You may need a few more of these dice than you currently own as you could be rolling one for each member of a fire team + additional dice for bonuses, etc. Throughout Tomorrow’s War the rules are illustrated with examples explaining how rule mechanisms work in a clear and concise manner.

Tomorrow’s War differs from Force on Force in providing additional sci fi specific elements, but this isn’t simply Force on Force with lasers and robots tacked on. I get the impression that the authors have carefully thought about how to integrate sci fi elements into the core structure of the game in ways that really work. The rules cover elements such as power armour, exoskeletons, combat drugs, advanced weapons such as energy and gauss weapons, anti-gravity vehicles, walkers, gigantic vehicles, dropships, robots and drones as well as advanced command and control on the battlefield.

One thing that may be lacking is a separate set of detailed rules for aliens. Tomorrow’s War essentially treats aliens and humans the same and a 4 page section suggests how to tailor alien forces for the rules based on their characteristics. Whilst this seems to work, it may not satisfy everyone. The other thing Tomorrow’s War does not include is a points system. This is a scenario driven wargame and not designed for tournament style play. Some wargamers like points systems and others (like me) don’t.

In summary this is a very well designed and well balanced set of rules and, for me at least, it sets the bar in terms of the quality and originality for science fiction wargaming rules. No rule set will please everyone, but I’d be surprised if Tomorrow’s War doesn’t come to dominate a large chunk of the sci fi wargaming market for some time to come. The very accessibility of the rules (distributed by Osprey to good bookshops around the world) may make it a great ambassador for sci fi wargaming and, potentially bring new gamers to the hobby.

There are, of course, lots of free sci fi rule sets available, but at £25.00 / US $34.95 a copy Tomorrow’s War offers good value for money given the price charged for other, often less well produced, commercial rule sets.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gaming Aide #1a - Tabbing Deathwatch

As a promised, following up my post Gaming Aide #1this post, Gaming Aide #1a, is my first in a line telling everyone where I've put my tabs in some of my most used game books.

The Warhammer 40k universe has always teased us with a background so rich and full that it begged to be a role-playing game more then the table top game we know and loved/love. Deathwatch gives us Space Marine fans the chance to be one of the Emperors Children (not the Chaos Chapter!) and fight the never ending hordes that are closing in on humanity.

The Deathwatch book is a beast. Even if you have your handy Referee screen in front of you your going to find yourself referencing the book over and over during a game session. My tabs have been the result of my initial read, running it for KGS and the Wednesday night games that I've ran for the last few months. If your running this game without tabbed pages...well, hey...more power to you!

One thing to keep in mind about my list is that my books are tabbed for my use as a referee not a player. Here and there you'll find me marking a page for my players but not to often. So as a player in Deathwatch game you'll want most of these same tabs along with the tabs for your class and any other things that you end up using all the time.

What you'll find below is what page to put the tab on and what I wrote on my tab

Deathwatch referee tabbing:
pg 33 - Demeanours
pg 58 - Rank - XP levels
pg 60 - SM Advances
pg 64 - DW Advances
pg 109 - Talents
pg 131 - Traits
pg 145 - Ranged
pg 151 - Grenades
pg 155 - Melee
pg 159 - Ammo
pg 165 - Armor
pg 187 - Psychic
pg 211 - Cohesion
pg 227 - Mission Preparation
pg 237 - Combat Actions
pg 255 - X explosive
pg 257 - I impact
pg 259 - R rending
pg 262 - Healing
pg 277 - Shock
pg 361 - Hordes
pg 363 - Chaos
pg 367 - Tau
pg 371 - Tyranid
pg 375 - NPC's

There it is, my life line to running Deathwatch. I'm sure that if your running a game or planing on it someday this will be one of your biggest tools to making a smooth game.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gaming Aide #1 - Tabs

I think that very few hobbies beg for tabs on its books more then role-playing game books. With endless table and charts for modifiers, actions, weapon damages and healing a gaming group will find themselves wasting time sifting through rule books instead of playing. Anything that gets you to the page you need faster is a bonus.

For years I've been using page tabs to mark portent pages in my gaming book. I've tried everything from thin brass markers (they won't bend or stain your pages) to sticky ended thin plastic strips. Finally, after all these years, Avery has heard my cries and made Note Tabs.

I've found that if you don't just order them online you might have to run to two or three staplemax's before you find the exact ones. DO NOT let the kid working there tell you this one or that one is "just as good" or "this is the same thing", hold out till you find the exact ones.

What you want is: Avery Note Tabs 16346, Primary, 1"x 1-1/2"

These tabs, and you can see it from the picture of them, are made so that the part attaching to your book is clear so it doesn't obstruct you viewing the page. The tabs themselves are coated with a paper pulp which allows you to write on then with any pencil or pen though I've found that your better of using a new tab then trying to erase what you wrote.

The tabs are also strong enough that you can use them to lift the pages open to the page you want. That might sound stupid or odd but tons of times I've lifted a tab to get to the page I want and end up having the tab yank out of the book. I even had a tab fall into my glass of water and after fishing it out and it drying off I picked it up to throw it out and found the adhesive still about as strong as it was before it got wet. So i really have no fears of them suddenly falling out of my book. With the adhesive so strong you would think that they would tear or damage your pages if you decided to move one but you will find that they when your pulling them carefully off a page they leave no adhesive on the page at all.

So there you have it, the newest wonder of our modern age, almost like it was made for us gamer's that still use books for our hobbies.

In the future I'll be posting follow ups listing what pages I've tabbed in my most used rule books. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moto Grand Prix with 10!!

I had the rare privilege to be invited to a guys night at Scott’s friend Kevin’s home. His place is the average American home with a pool table off the kitchen, while Air Hockey and Ping Pong own a garage bay each. It was a great time and good food but I have to say that the highlight of the evening for me was moving the 8 chairs away from his massive dinning room table and all ten of us playing a game of Moto Grand Prix!

I brought Moto Grand Prix to the party because of its simplicity and because I think its one of the best racing games I’ve played. Have a bunch of men and get them into a competitive race of anything and you have a formula for manly entertainment!

What is Moto Grand Prix? From Fantasy Flights website:
Moto Grand Prix is a fun and exciting game for all ages with a fast, realistic, dice-based system for playing multi-lap races quickly. Moto Grand Prix's beautiful, accurate models can lean and wheelie, and the modular boards allow a wide range of realistic circuits. This box includes 6 miniature motorcycles, 6 cockpit boards, more than 70 modular circuit components, and dice.

Now that you read that your thinking “Wait Sam said they played with 10 people and the set only comes for 6 people!” For our game I used my one set of Moto Grand Prix track with my constructed set of bikes and dashboards. With what I made I can run a game with 28 bike on the track at once!! Played Moto Grand Prix once you’ll realize that their recommendation that each player should have a team of 2 bikes is the way to go, 6 bikes is not enough.

In this pic you see an example of the bikes and dashboards you get with the set(right side of pic) and the laminated bikes w/standiee's and dashboards that I made myself.

Eventually I want to convince Ken of cast me bikes so I can have stuff similar to what comes in the box set.

When I started explaining the rules you could see some peoples eyes rolling back in their heads but I swore to them that the game was easy and in a turn or 2 they’d have it down. Sure enough within 2 to 3 turns our bikes we’re flying around the track.

The game uses what they call the ‘Flip Dice’ mechanic where if you roll a 2 and a 3 on your six sided dice you can flip the 2 to a 5 (If you add the 2 opposite sides of a die they always add up to seven. And yes I know that some bizarre companies have made dice that this isn’t true on but 99.9% of the time it’s true). So we’re you move was going to be a 5 (2+3) it can now be a 9(flip both dice to get 5+4)! If you ever use two 6’s you have to make a roll against how rough you’ve been on your engine. Roll to high and you’ll blow your engine and your out of the race.

Some of the highlights of our race was my amazing maneuver into first place only to be the first person to blow my engine. Around the same area of the track Scott pushed his engine to try to catch everyone and had to roll below a 4 on 2 dice to not blow up his engine. To the cheers and amazement of us all he rolled a 3! It still wasn’t enough to bring him out of last place and when he tried it a second time he ended up with me along side the edge of the track! In the last half of the last laps bikes were dropping like fly’s as everyone fought for the win. In the end Kevin maneuvered himself so that he make first place no matter what he rolled while Stacey crossed the line soon after. Miguel and Spencer followed them in while the rest had destroyed our bikes on the way to the finish line!

Everyone loved it and there was a consensus that there would have to be another man’s night soon and it’s going to include a game of Moto Grand Prix!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Marvel Super Heroes D100 - Gaming Notes #2

Continued from MSH D100 Gaming Notes #1...

Longshot, Beast, Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Storm, and Wolverine are standing over the unconscious Madelyn Pryor, still absorbing her warning to, "Beware the Juggernaut!" when thundering footsteps issue forth from Scott and Madelyn's burning Alaskan home. The Juggernaut begins walking toward the Blackbird where Colossus awaits. Juggernaut throws a tree, obviously targeting the Blackbird. The X-Men and X-Factor spring into action. At first they try to attack the Juggernaut but after Wolverine gets easily knocked unconscious they change tactics to simply delaying him long enough so they can get out of there. Storm blinds him with a snowstorm and the X-Men board the Blackbird with Madelyn's unconscious body.
Juggernaut emerges from the burning building...
Longshot gets the "drag-out" on Madelyne Pryor.
The X-Men race to the Blackbird (storm flying on poker chips).
  They rush to a hospital where Madelyn and the injured Beast are admitted. The doctors inform Cyclops that his wife is in a coma but they may visit with her briefly. Marvel Girl contacts Madelyn telepathcially and discovers that it was the Dazzler, working with the Juggernaut, that took her baby, Nathan. This is puzzling since the Dazzler is normally a "good guy." Madelyn passes along the information she gleaned from Dazzler's mind about Mr. Sinister's home base in Omaha, Nebraska. Marvel Girl also accidentally learns all about Cyclops and Madelyn's private lives... much to her great disappointment. Cyclops had never told Marvel Girl that his new wife looked exactly like her. In a fit of rage, Marvel Girl lashes out at Cyclops and storms out of the hosptial.

The X-Men once again race off in the Blackbird, this time to Mr. Sinister's secret HQ under an orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska. An orphanage that Cyclops grew up in! How odd...

The X-folks go in street clothes to the orphanage with Marvel Girl remaining on the Blackbird. They are jumped by the Marauders, the people responsible for the massacre of the Morlocks! Oddly, Ripcord is among their number even though Colossus had snapped his neck during the Mutant Massacre... A grand Melee breaks out! Citizens flee in terror as the two forces tear each other (and the city around them) to shreds. Storm conjurs a fog to hide most of the combat from the eyes of the citizens. The X-forces stand victorious, but not before Cyclops is knocked unconscious and Storm is badly injured.

What will the heroes do next? What is Sinister's master plan? To be continued...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Online Flash Games, Week 13: Penguinz

This weeks game involves penguins, eskimos, and a maner of other wildlife. Sounds like a nice, peaceful game, right? Well you must not know I'd never waste my time on a crappy game like that. In Penguinz, you kill other creatures that attack you from 2 sides. How does a penguin kill other creatures, you ask? With guns and, if you get far enough, a chainsaw. Yes, it is a very bloody game, so I would say anyone under 14 sound not play this game.

From what I can tell, every other animal has been brainwashed by an evil animal and serve him with the intention of controling the entire frozen world. And it is up to our hero to stop them. You start off with a simple pistol. You must shot and kill every enemy in that level to advance. Health, Ammo, and Money are dropped by enemies. A boss appeares every few levels. The farther you go, you come across new and tougher enemies.

In between levels, you can upgrade your weapon or buy ammo and health. The weapon system is pretty good, as you can either buy a new weapon or upgrade the one you have. You can also switch between the weapons you currently have during the game. Depending on which level of difficulty you are on, supplies will be more scarce on a harder difficulty level.

While I like the game, there are 2 glaring problems I have with it. The first and most obvious is that it is just too bloody. There is too much effort put into making the game look gory. There doesn't need to be so much blood and penguins falling into two pieces. Its just not needed. The second is the lack of attention to the game itself. There is no introduction to what is going on in the game, and when you beat the final boss, it just restarts without telling you. So essentially there is never an ending.

Penguinz is a violent, unending, simple game. Which is why I both like it and hate it at the same time. Mainly because it could have been much more than what it is if someone else had made it.

Penguinz was made by LongAnimals and Jimp

Play Penguins by clicking the title of this post.

Leave a comment on this post or message me if you have a game you would like me to review.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marvel D100 RPG - Gaming Notes #1

My Marvel Super Heroes D100 campaign just started the other night. We have seven players in all playing characters from the X-Men and X-Force teams from 1986 - Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Longshot, Cyclops, Beast, and Marvel Girl. We're following Marvel continuity up to right before the Mutant Massacre. In the comics, Longshot doesn't join the X-Men until later, but because he joins, the Mutant Massacre goes much, much worse than it did in the comics. Basically, X-Factor, X-Men, and New Mutants are all severely injured/missing/killed except for the seven PCs and Psyloche.

Our adventure starts off after Thor scorches the tunnels clean - sealing the tunnel behind our heroes. X-Factor and X-Men characters bark at each other for awhile until Storm and Cyclops settle a temporary peace of sorts. The characters proceed down the tunnel until they run into some crocodiles! One of the dead Morlocks, Pied Piper, had controlled them but now they are scared and angry! The PCs quickly dispatch the crocs (learning how to play the system as they go - many players are new to MSH) and continue on their way.

Arriving at the X-Mansion somed hours later, the characters rest and relax, trying to heal up.

Wolverine goes to Cerebro but finds that it has been destroyed! He smells Sabretooth! In a rage, he hits the alarm, pops his claws, and leaps out the window following Sabretooth's scent! The X-Men leap to action, but not in time to help Wolverine as he struggles in one-on-one combat with Sabretooth! Defeated and wounded, Sabretooth leaps from the cliff into the ocean but not before delivering a message, "Mr. Sinister sends his regards!"

The X-Men catch up to Wolverine but cannot find Sabretooth. Wolverine passes along the cryptic message. Noone has ever heard of "Mr. Sinister." Databases reveal nothing and Cerebro is beyond repair. Magneto calls from Muir Island where the mutants severely injured in the Mutant Massacre are being cared for. He wants the X-Men in the field pronto to look for their missing comrades and to find the Marauders responsible for the slaughter.

Suddenly, a massive psychic cry for help hits Cyclops and Marvel Girl - it's coming from Alaska where Madelyn Pryor, Cyclop's estranged wife and child, live! "They're after Nathan!" the urgent message says. The X-Men rush to the Blackbird and are in Alaska within the hour.

Cyclop's house is an inferno and much of the woods have been leveled. Clearly a massive fight took place here! Colossus lands the plane a 1/4 of a mile away while Marvel Girl carries her teammates to the ground. They quickly find Madelyn Pryor on death's door. As she lapses into a coma she weakly speaks telepathicly, "She took our son, Scott! A blonde woman dressed in white took our son! You must save him!" Madelyn warns, "Beware the Juggernaut!" Thundering footsteps come from inside the burning house as the Juggernaut steps into the light....

To be continued!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

KGS Podcast - Episode 00027 - Smallworld Underground Box Opening

Sam and Old Brian open the Smallworld Underground Expansion.

Online Flash Games Week 12: Gluey

After reviewing Cofffee Shop last week, I remembered another game me and my friend used to play called Gluey. Once again it was a game he could never beat my high score in, so there's lost of good memories of swearing and frustration from him and a cocky smile from me. Good times.

In Gluey the objective is to score points by clicking on blobs of the same color of glue. The colors are red, blue, green, yellow, and purple. The larger the blob, the more points you earn. You have to get a set number of points to unlock the next level. You are awarded 200 points if you can clear the entire level.

On some levels blobs contain different colored blobs inside them. Removing the containing blob unlocks the contained blob. Blobs can hold + that add new blobs, and arrows that reverse the gravity. The shapes of the levels can influence how they move and make it easier or harder.

I thought that I would have still liked this game like I still liked Coffee shop. But this is not the case. I feel that this is more up to chance than skill. The blobs stack on top of each other, and can fall in any direction. So planning on where they will fall is almost impossible. Its also somewhat stupid and really not as entertaining as I remembered it. So while you may like it, I've played plenty of this game.

Gluey is made by CoolMath Games.

Play Gluey by clicking the Title of the Post.

Comment on this post to tell me about a game you'd like me to review.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ashen Stars RPG - August 22 and 24 at Comic Store West

Ashen Stars RPG
Hosted by Comic Store West and Sam of The Keystone Gaming Society
August 22 and August 24 beginning at 6PM.

Look for our podcast review of the game later in August.