Tabletop Gaming, thanks to Tabletop

You do know tabletop, right?  Wil Wheaton?  If you don’t, but are into board games, you need to start watching his show.  Like, right now.

Back?  Never left?

If you are like me, you’ve been watching this show which has also led to your wallet becoming suspiciously lighter as you start buying board game after board game.   Not only does this show give you an idea if the game is any good, it makes you have a decent overview of the rules of the game, which helps if no one has played the game before.

Below, I’ll share a couple of shows that I enjoyed and my reactions to playing these games.

Last Night on Earth

Last Night on Earth is a fun game.  Needing an even number of players, two players play as the soon to be victims of the zombies, and two play as the zombies.  In the video, it seems like most people at the table are having a good time, except for Felicia Day, who appears to be very bored and ends up playing with a zombie in the corner.

We had a good time with it, and in some ways the humans played like a “Arkham Horror”-lite game.  The zombies were fun, and it was great to get characters cornered by the zombies, with no way out.

My friend Michael owns this, and while I’m not buying it anytime soon, I’m not bummed when he brings it over for game night either.

The Resistance

God, I loved this episode.  My friends and I used to play epic, massive games of mafia back in the day (think 20+ people), and I’ve wanted to play it again, but it’s tough to do unless you have a decent-sized group.  This card game fixes that, for a very reasonable price.

Our game ended similarly to the episode, with one of the players making a massive blunder and approving a mission that caused my side to lose.  I had a blast, other people weren’t so sure.  I’d love to play it again, when I have a chance and see if it can improve for other people.


God, this is a beautiful game.  Just a beautiful, beautiful game.  It’s got pretty decent mechanics too.  It’s a resource gathering game, in the vein of Lords of Waterdeep or Agricola, but the scoring is done on cards (which are like missions) and the game doesn’t have a defined end. Instead, it’s when a player completes a certain number of cards.

We never seemed to play this just right, as there are a number of small rules that can be easily forgotten, but every time we played it we had fun, and it’s not an incredibly long game, either.

My brother, myself and my friend Brad had a long discussion about this game after we had played it a couple times, and we really wonder if one of the colors are worth playing.  There are three different colors of bamboo and tiles, and there are different amounts of each color.  The most common color scores nearly 50% less than the least common color.   I have a feeling, as we play the game more and get better at playing against each other, rather than just play for our own goals, the more common colors will become more valuable.   The least common color will be hoarded, and protected to prevent others from scoring with them.

To be continued…

There have been other games I’ve gotten or played since watching a Tabletop episode, but those will have to wait for another day.

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SF Book Review: Silo (Wool) Series, by Hugh Howey

So, over the break, I fell hard for ebooks.  I had been flirting with them.  Appreciative of the fact that I could get a book without having to go to the store. F or a person who is terrified of ever being without a book, this is a godsend.  Loving the fact that they are usually a few bucks cheaper than the physical book.

By brother, though, had purchased a surface RT for cheap at a post-thanksgiving sale and was reading the Divergent series (sort review: decent, not great, third book stunk, the books were still addicting).  That made me rethink my ebook reading.  I had read a couple of soccer books, one that I reviewed on my sister blog, but hadn’t really gotten into it.

This series has made me rethink my trepidation.

The first “book”, Wool, originally released as kindle singles and then collected, was excellent.  A story about a community living in a silo sunk into the ground and the layers of deceit that keeps the silo working.

Then the second book, Shift, blew my mind.  Intertwining two stories, it showed how the Silo came into existence.  The final one might have been a bit too dark, but ends hopefully.

Seriously, for a couple bucks (just like it used to be when you could by cheap SF paperbacks), you can get the first book, Wool and appreciate what a talent Hugh Howey is.  I definitely will be reading anything else he puts out.

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Narrative Control: Why Abstract Dungeon scratches the gaming itch for me

As we begin the play-by-post over at gameplayers of titan, I started thinking about what makes Abstract Dungeon such a great game for me.  Sure, the quick combat resolution is appreciated, but I think ultimately it is the narrative control afforded to the players.

As a GM, the greatest joy I get is when the players value the world enough to try explain something about it, even if it doesn’t fit with what I had planned.  I find myself as a player doing the same thing.  I enjoy being given small pieces of the story, or narrative, that I have control over.  D&D struggles to allow that sort of play, but it is inherent in Abstract Dungeon.  That is because the players decide what each die represents each time they use it to defeat an obstacle or enemy.  I could use a strength die to state that I bash an enemy in, or a spirit die to state that I weakened the enemies resolve and they have surrendered.  The player has narrative control for that instant and decides how the play continues.

As the GM, I then get to react to this choice in how the player resolved the conflict.  If they bashed the enemy’s head in, they now have a bleeding enemy that is unconscious.  I can either consider that encounter resolved, or raise the stakes by adding additional complications to what they have done.

This is the itch that I’ve needed scratched.  I needed control again in the stories I tell as a player, and I needed a way to engage the players in helping to tell the story as a GM.

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Link of Holding, issue number 1

What is hopefully a new feature will be a round up of good blog posts and news articles about gaming and rpgs.  Below you will find links to some of the articles I found interesting this week.

The D&D Brand, by Monsters and Manuals

“There is something odd about this notion. We are living in an age of booming popularity for nerdiness…So why on earth can’t somebody make a play at bringing D&D into the mainstream in the same way?”

Great post about how nerd culture is dominant right now, and yet D&D and RPGs are becoming more of a niche market because they don’t represent the stories that people want to tell.  I happen to think it’s also related to the rise of board games.  Board games allow you to tell a story with rules that are designed to be quick and easy to pick up, but we create RPGs to be the opposite, with 500 page rulebooks.  More games should be designed like Apocalypse World/Dungeon World.  People should be able to sit down, get a quick idea of the rules, and be able to start playing within 15 minutes.  I love me some D&D, but you won’t see me mastering rulesets for 500 page RPG books anytime soon.

30 Days of Gaming, by Polar Bear Dreams via Tim Brannan via Armchair Gamer

This is a great idea, and I’m going to try and do it this in September.  Great idea!

The Paintings of Dune

These are simply beautiful.



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Play By Post – Bellona, The Autumnal City

At my sister site, I’m starting a play by post.  We’ll be using abstract dungeon, whose beta rules can be downloaded for free!  I’m looking forward to it, because I think the rules will allow a lot of fun, freeform roleplaying while also providing a structure for resolutions.

Come on over, create a character, and post a connection your character has to the mysterious city of Bellona.

The way it’ll work is I’ll post an encounter or event each Sunday based on the previous week and what people want to do, and we’ll spend the week playing out the action.

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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Game Review

Brothers is a fabulous game.  For 15 bucks, it’s available on the xbox arcade and playstation 3.

It follows two brothers, who are controlled with each joystick, as they journey to find a cure for their father.  The graphics are unbelievable, and it does a fabulous job, like Shadows of the Colossus,  of presenting a complete world without words.  You slowly begin to fill in the back story as you climb higher and higher up the mountain.

It’s emotionally intense, and short.  Both of which I find to be a value.  In these days, I find it hard to play a game long enough to beat it.

Seriously, if you have a chance to pick this up, do it.


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The Fastest RPG Ever – Abstract Dungeon Kickstarter

My friend, Matthew Hanson, has been hard at work on a new gaming system called abstract dungeon.  This gaming system scratches an itch for gaming that I’ve had for a long time.  The system allows for quick and easy resolution, allowing the gaming to be spent more on roleplaying, worldbuilding and exploration.

It’s pretty simple.  Enemies or challenges are represented by a die or dice.  You have a pool of dice that you roll at the beginning of play, and then apply to each challenge as you see fit.

He’s running a kickstarter, and you should check it out.


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Twitters about Gencon

General News

Genconbot: reposting anything that includes gencon in the tweet.

Gencon: office twitter feed.

This Just In From Gencon

Morrus: from Enworld

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Hey everyone, each year I try to keep up to date with the goings on at Gencon as I will again (sadly) not be able to attend.  Below are some of the interesting news and events that I’ve heard about so far.


Indie RPG Awards will be announced at 3 PM on Friday.  While not necessarily a part of Gencon, apparently they will be posted at the con.

The Ennies will be announced with a big award ceremony on Friday night.  You can also check out a live stream if you aren’t able to attend.


Wizards is hosting a sundering partyWish I could be there, as the invitation looks super cool.  


Boardgamegeek has a list of all the new boardgames releasing at Gencon this year.

20 Board Games to check out at Gencon.

Suggestions on things to do and buy

Story Games has a discussion about games to check out and buy.  Jason Morningstar (Fiasco) popped in and talked up his new game Carolina Death Crawl.  IPR will be there with games like Fate and Dungeon World as well as the Seattle Doomsday Map (which I will be sending my minions to pick up for me).

Other interesting info

A list of where designers and other people will be during Gencon.

Apps for Gencon over at Enworld gives some good suggestions for what to bring on your smartphone, particularly because Gencon is not releasing a phone app this year.

I’ll be posting a twitter list later today of people to follow for gencon news and events.  If you have any suggestions of things to include, that would be great!

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Review of In Hero Years

After 4 chapters, I was ready to give up.  My copy of the ebook was poorly edited, the main character a string of cliches and too many mysteries.  Thankfully, I didn’t give up on it.  The mysteries started to be answered, which in turn revealed other mysteries, and each success by the hero was met by a ante being raised and something else going wrong.

Ultimately, the big twist in the end failed.  The big bad guy, suitably called Mr. Big, did things that seemed pointless and trivial and the actions that were explained to be done by Mr. Big in the end were driven by petty desires.  Mr. Big’s actions didn’t fit with the type of character he was in the comic books, although his changed backstory did help explain some of his behavior.

Still, I really enjoyed this book.  I like almost any alternative take on the mythos of superheros, and the book created a really amazing world, focusing on some of the more interesting ideas in the DC world, namely, the relation between Superman and Batman, and nature of the tiers of superheros.  There was even a fantasy league for superheros (and supervillians) that allowed citizens to play along.

Ultimately, a satisfying read.  Would I have bought it if I hadn’t gotten it as part of the Science Fiction Bundle?  No, probably not.  But I’m glad I read it, and for most of the middle part of the story, I definitely couldn’t put it down.

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