The Great Debate Review Friday, Aug 29 2014 

There are a lot of people in this world, and sometimes they see things differently. Whether you’re the kind of person who enjoys discussing ideas and ideals or you’re the type of person who sees the world in shades of “people who are right” and “people who disagree with me”, Castle Productions has a game you will probably love. It’s called “The Great Debate”, and it’s the type of game that will definitely start conversations at your next cocktail party. My group played this in place of Cards Against Humanity and it found a place with us.

The game play is simple. Each player selects the top card from the deck. There are 2 opinions on the card. The player who draws the card selects their position and the card determines who will take the opposing position. So, for instance, you may draw a card that says “A. The Beatles were the greatest band in Rock and Roll. B. The Beatles, while popular, are highly overrated. Opponent: 2 to the right.” The person who draws the card then has 30 seconds to convince everyone that the Beatles are truly the greatest rock band in history. The person who is sitting 2 players to the right then has 30 seconds to convince the group that they were just a band, and no better than U2, Tom Petty, or Justin Bieber. After each player has had their say, the rest of the group votes and the winner gets the card. First player to collect 5 cards wins.

There is also an icebreaker quality to the game as well. Sometimes instead of saying two right or left it will ask “Who owns a dog?” or “Last person to go hiking”. Which is a good randomizer and if played with strangers are great way to get to know the people at your table.

For the basic game, the topics vary widely in their sense of importance. There are cards about politics, pop culture, parenting style, sports, and other highly contentious topics. Game designer Dave Ferguson says that the plans are to have regularly released expansions to play on specific interests and current events. There is also a plan for an electronic version where the cards are generated for your phone, thus staying more timely as maybe a kickstarter stretch goal.

For the review, we were provided a prototype deck. The game will go into full production after a kickstarter in November. This is a great game that I will fund come November. For more details, go to https://www.facebook.com/greatdebategame and participate in the daily debates.

Patrick Gary

pwgary@hotmail.com

DND 5th Edition Analysis Monday, Aug 11 2014 

I got the new 5th edition because one of our players complained about 4th edition and wanting to go to a different system with faster combats. I can agree 4th edition has long combats about as long as Pathfinder and DnD 3.5 at the 11th level we are currently running.

The problem I had with the playtest is the monster math was not done during the playtest so we were testing characters based on false numbers of monsters. In my world of QA that would mean completely invalid tests. I picked up the 5th edition players handbook and have been going over and it looks like we went a little backwards in game design and did not learn all our lessons.

Here are the races and the points based on feats, abilities, and stats. For instance feats got 2 points since according to WOTC they are worth 2 stats. Abilities for the most part were given 2 points as well.  The drow are the winner in abilities given out even with a -1 for sunlight deficiency.  I gave this out as most organized play adventures are indoors so this could even go as far as -2 in home brew and of course being reviled.  However, that part does not come in at organized play but could in a home game.  You will see the human variant that allows a feat at level 1 comes in a total of 5 points.  The average points comes out to 9.8 or 10 points.  So, humans base are 4 points and 5 if they take the variant.

 

I see this as a huge disparity in a place where we have come with better game balance.  This balance before had each of these races taken negatives to stats so the gap was not as wide.  Especially things has -2 to con which affect hit points as we see in pathfinder and 3.5.

race stats base ability base skill base feat sub stat sub ability sub feat disad total
drow 2 5 1 1 4 2 -1 15
mountain dwarf 2 4 2 2 2 2 14
hill dwarf 2 4 2 2 1 2 13
high 2 5 1 1 2 2 13
wood 2 5 1 1 2 2 13
forest gnome 2 4 1 4 11
rock gnome 2 4 1 4 11
dwarf 2 4 2 2 10
half elf 4 4 2 10
half orc 3 6 1 10
lightfoot 2 4 1 2 9
stout 2 4 1 2 9
dragonborn 3 6 9
tiefling 3 6 9
elf 2 5 1 8
halfing 2 4 6
human 6 6
gnome 2 4 6
human variant 2 1 2 5

 

 

DC VS. Marvel Legendary Tuesday, Feb 4 2014 

I’ve been playing a lot of board games the past year.  It has been really a lot of fun learning about this whole genre of gaming and bringing new people into it as well.  I had to learn a lot of concepts that for the different types of games out there such as area control, deck builder, worker placement.  One of my past times is comic books and when I heard there was a Marvel and a DC deck building game I had to check them out.  I’ve been playing the Marvel game since it was released and have quite enjoyed it.  Then I kept hearing people tell me the DC one was better.  A game with Batman and better than Legendary, count me in.  So here is my breakdown of the two games after several play through of each with different people.

DC this game runs you about $45 and has no expansions currently.  It is a deck builder in that you all have a common market and build your deck from the same pool.  When you get enough power you from your cards you can buy from the market or defeat a villain.  Pretty simple concept that I think all the deck builders are based upon.  Nothing out of the extraordinary here.

 There other modifier is the hero card you start off with at the beginning of the game which represents how you should build your deck.  However, we saw many times that if the market did not have the type your hero used your ability was not so good. 

I will say I really liked the flavor of some of the cards such as Suicide Squad and collect 5 of X you get bonus points. The master villains that you defeat have some pretty interesting effects when they come into play. But they only do so once so it’s kind of a suffer a small setback and move on.

 The art is really great for the game and follows the New 52 style of costumes. However, there are several duplicates of cards so it’s the same art over and over, but to me this is not a huge detractor.  Since the mutual deck is so large you more than likely won’t see more than 2 or 3 of a card.  The other nice thing about this it takes about 30 minutes to play with 5 and is quick to breakdown.  However, it is a simple game and you really do not get a chance to engineer a deck concept. The replayability I also find lacking as well since you are really not building a deck as much as collecting cards and the master villains really only interact once with the players.  I will say I have won games of DC without every defeating a master villain.   This and the imbalance of heroes takes away from it for me.

Legendary is the other hero game out there I want to talk about with the base set runs $60.  It’s the same kind of setup start with basic cards and purchases hero’s powers and add them to your deck.  The trick here is that you have a mastermind you must defeat as well, a scheme that tweaks gameplay, and villains who are causing havoc to your game.  This leads to a cooperative competitive type of game.  The board it comes with to setup the game is gorgeous.  It shows the different locations of the city and also a the S.H.I.E.L.D hellicarrier so you can recruit heroes. 

Sure, you can just focus on the mastermind and getting points but you may lose the overall game because too many villains escaped or the scheme popped up and the negative zone came and destroyed the world.  The mastermind directly attacks heroes several times in the game and not just upon first being turned over with his master strike cards.  Also, upon defeat by a player the mastermind may also affect gameplay.

You select five to six heroes before the game and build a hero deck with thme.  Each of these heroes has affects that are similar to their comic book roots.  For instance Hulk hits hard but you gain a wound, which is a trash card in your deck that slows down your game play.  These can lead to a deeper game of deck construction.  Like any deck builder with a shared market you may not get to draft the cards you like but most of them will have a positive effect on the game instead of just plain +1 attack or buy.

 The replayability of Legendary is very high.  There are 8 schemes, 5 masterminds, and several villain combinations that you can play with. With just schemes and masterminds alone that’s 40 combinations of scenarios you could be playing.

The art for Legendary is good just like the DC game straight from comics.  The downside is each of the hero art of 14 cards is the same picture for each of the different cards.  So you can have time recognizing a really good card or just a basic attack.  The other down side is it does have a larger setup and break down time because your trying to sort out all the cards.  The game length is probably 45 minutes to an hour for a competent set of players.  This is a medium difficulty game because you’re not only deck building, but balancing between villain economy, and trying to keep the scheme in mind.

 The base game of Legendary was great but some complained it was too easy to win.  Well, the expansions help this quite a bit but I’ll leave that there since this only about the base game.  There are currently two expansions and a third coming out this February.  DC has one coming out later this year that is an expansion but can also be played alone that will have a new set of heroes and master villains.  To me DC is not better than Legendary.  They both have places on my shelf though depending on the experience of what my group is looking for. 

Back to basics? Monday, May 30 2011 

As I write this I am running my hot water in a locked bathroom to make a faux sauna. I am less than twelve hours from weighing in. Not for a fight or a wrestling match but for a weight loss contest at work. During the last twenty weeks I’ve lost twenty pounds and could stand to lose probably twenty more. I feel really good about my weight loss this period. All I did was add in daily exercise and making healthier choices with my food and beverage choices. As of last weigh in I had a 1.2 % advantage over my closest competition.

Why am I trying to cut weight like a fighter because of weigh ins? I guess it’s the competitive animal in me. I want to know that if I lose it’s because I got beat, not because I left any “weight” on the table so to speak. This attitude served me well while playing sports and all manner of competitive games.

This conversation was helped spawned by the 4e at will chat from Friday night.
What do I mean with back to basics? I recently started looking at Pathfinder and 3.x and remembered all the cool combat maneuvers we use to have. Now in 4e all we have is at wills and a melee basic attack mainly used for opportunity actions. Which we rarely see use of nowadays or at least in my campaign and various sessions of Encounters.  With the essentials release we see martial characters stripped of combat options now. All they can do is swing a sword with no cool additional effects. The encounter and daily powers represented a cool martial maneuver. Now I know wizards is going to say you can still sunder, disarms, trip as given by the discretion of the DM. Well how about you just give us rules for these options and make it simple for everyone

What if initially we did not get at-wills and were left with encounters, dailies, utilities. And not only melee basic attacks but the old combat manuevers much like pathfinder? I am sure every little mage fan boy just cried a little. Let everyone perform the maneuvers and such and if you want to have a better disarm take feats to allow such a thing. Or just leave the at wills as is and give actual possibility to manuevers for all.

I do understand the streamlined design of 4e and I do like it. Maybe giving back some complexity to the game will help with the audience you lost and are losing with the new direction. A little faith should be put into your customers in how smart they can be. There is no reason not to give out “advanced” options for us players who want it. Games use to have the simple rules and then added in advanced features to enhance it. No reason not to do the same thing here.

I have about five minutes left in this sauna so I will give a short review of The Hangover 2. The short answer is if you liked the first then you will like the second. And if you hated the first then ignore this because it’s more of the same. It will throw in your typical Thailand and Bangkok jokes so be prepared. Leave your brain at home and have a good time

Vampire theme & Assault Tuesday, May 24 2011 

I was planning on writing yesterday but putting my arm in a sling does not help one type. My goal was to give a first shot at a vampire theme for 4e. Then I began reading the uproar about lair assault. Seeing this reminded me about uproars in the miniature world and so I figured I would drop my two cents.

Let’s start with a fun subject first. I think just about anyone who saw heroes of shadow was a little disappointed with the shade and vampire. Sure the class is okay but for those of us who played WoD or even any other edition of D&D it seemed more Twilight then Stoker. The designers have said they built things like they did for layers of creation. So when we got what we got I wondered immediately why not use themes? I understand they did not want to let the newbie come straight in and play vampire without needing extra knowledge of the game. Which is understandable to try to hit the niche vampire r KeWl crowd. Hooray for Wotc, now how about a bone for your advanced players?

I’m not really going too far with my creation of this as I think they got the basics right. This will probably need to be playtested to make the best result.

Vampire template:

The bad

Lose half your surges. Patterning this after the only 2 surges the regular vampire has.

Gain Vulnerability to Radiant 5

If you end your turn in direct sunlight and lack a protective covering  you take 5 radiant damage (plus additional damage from your radiant vulnerability) from the sunlight, and you are weakened (save ends). If you drop below 1 hit point from this damage, you are instantly destroyed.
 

Gain

You are an undead creature.  No need to eat, breathe, sleep.  But still must rest to gain healing surges, dailies, etc.
You have darkvision.
When you are bloodied gain regeneration at your highest stat attribute.  (Going back to the different types of vampires.  This probably should be based on Charisma aka Willpower)

I do not know how to do make the cool encounter power stuff and I am sure someone can tell me how to do it very easily.  So bear with this.

Vampire Bite : Melee 1  Hit: Attribute vs AC if you have someone grabbed you autohit.  Dmg: 1d4 + gain a surge

This allows the whole stealing from party members to heal up to full.

Also, if you have more surges then your max lose surges and go to full hit points.

Utility powers: Just follow the progression from the vampire class

Next time I will tackle the shade. He is dear to my heart and I was disappointed with what I got from Heroes of Shadow. So, instead of complaining I will do something proactive and build my own version.

Now on to this whole lair assault thing that has people all in an uproar. It’s honestly just the flip side to the Encounters program. It’s there for people who want something a bit more then the whole level one to three intro adventure. Basically they want to give some of the challenges they have done at conventions and give them to the LGS’s to run and drive some sales and give extra exposure to the game. Not a thing wrong with that and it might be fun for a change of pace.  I know our own LGS has dropped the whole essentials only for Encounters because those of us who prefer martial characters think just swinging a sword is boring :).
If you don’t like it the idea then ignore it and do not play in it. Very simple don’t be negative especially when you have not even tried it. The program was not made for people like you. This is like how in miniatures such as Warmachine/Hordes you had tournaments and leagues. The leagues are balanced for people who want to try new things and can play tons of games. They are not for the hardcore tournament guys. Were tournaments are there for the players who get tactics and know there way around the game. Two programs that outreach to two totally different consumers of the said game. If one hobby can do it why can not another do the same thing without all the teeth gnashing?

I get that tactics appeal to some people and not all.  Why I personally come from a miniatures war gaming background as well as card game professional I also like the role playing side as well.   I’ve also played at conventions from 1e up to 3e and guess what there was no role play for the most part.  Why, oh because of a TIME CONSTRAINT!  If you want to roleplay do not go to Encounters, Lair Assault, or Living Forgotten Realms, or the new Pathfinder program.  Why because time will stop that from happening.  Do not get me wrong and think I do not role play at all.  My home groups will tell you sometimes I get carried away with it.  And one DM who will remain nameless gives me looks to keep me line with my bard.

So in the end play what you like and have fun!

It’s been a while Sunday, May 22 2011 

Like the title said it has been a long time since I have posted anything to this blog.  The real world has  back  over much of my life.  Fortunately the big project at work has been taken care of and now I can get back to other things that I enjoy more.  After  losing both my main machine and backup I lost a lot of work.  However, the only way to get back to it is just that start writing again.  So, this is my initial run of starting my writing back up.

My personal game has reached its one year anniversary.  I’m pretty happy with how its all turned out.  We will be approaching paragon tier very soon.  A couple of players have figured out their paths so that is going to help with the path of the campaign.  The next place I believe they will go is the Underdark or to the Shadowfell which I am fortunate Gloomwrought came out.

I finished up running the Encounters season of March of the Phantom Brigade.  It went really well for the most part.  I unfortunately had 4 TPKs for the season, which no other DM has done on now at the store.  The players seemed to be okay with that has they began to use better tactics throughout.   I will say that running 8 players in 4e just sucks as a DM.  It might be just as bad a player with that much time between turns.   Plus its hard to scale the encounter on the fly just right sometimes especially with all the insubstantial running around.

We got tired of the essentials characters so we will be playing anything goes for Evard’s.  The first couple of weeks have been interesting.  Hopefully they will continue this path and we will not see the frustration we saw with the insubstantial last season.  This has given me an opportunity to play around with the themes that WOTC has released recently.   So far I’ve only tried the Order of the adept for the extra aoe.  I’ll definitly will try more over the time.  I’m not so sure of the long term additions themes will bring and may not know for a while. 

 Upcoming posts will  give my theme for vampire and shade which is what I think all of us wanted to see.    

You may follow me at Saintdave22 on twitter.

Random Musings on a day off Monday, Feb 21 2011 

My wife is at the dentist and I’ve done my morning routine of knee exercises so I have time to put into the blog.  The problem is what to write about?  So, instead of having a topic I decided just to throw things that were coming to mind.

First, Dragon Age 2 will give us a demo tomorrow, 2-22.  This should give us a little bit of satisfaction while we starve for the real thing that comes out in March.  After playing the first rather recently I’m very excited to continue my time in the Dragon Age universe.

Second, I came across the new trailer for Game of Thrones on HBO, found here .  This looks to be coming along well.  Now if Martin would get off his duff and finish the books and not pull a Jordan on us.  I’m very excited to see the world come to life on-screen.  I wonder if Vegas has a prop bet on him finishing his book before he dies or not.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the Conquest of Nerath Boardgame.  This is supposed to played much like Risk from the information we have.  I would like to know more about it before I preorder it.  I mean $50 for a board game is nice chunk of change and would like to see a little bit more of the pieces or gameplay before plunking it down.  However, if I wait the preorder price goes up to $75 which might be hard pill to swallow if its not a good game.  So if anyone runs across something about it please toss it my way.

I have encounters to run in a few days and feel that I might be killing my players this week.  TPK because people refuse to use tactics are justified in this setting.  I’m not fudging dice rolls to make people feel good.  If these people want to do the extreme hard-core delves they need to learn now what to do because I’m pretty sure these will be WAY harder.

Clash of the titan Tuesday, Oct 5 2010 

In the latest installment our heroes slaughtered the last of the orcs finding the other pieces to bind stonefang. They went back to the ritual area and went to put the Titan back in his place. They meet up with one of the shadowed clan dwarves and got right into the action. Just as the dwarves had places the rib Stonefang threw a boulder and smashed them. This was to let the players know it was serious business.

They went right to it, by getting all the pieces bonded immediately. Stonefang wiffed his first round immediately. It was then a race to finish Stonefang and luckily only Roland got taken out but not dead. Well and a couple of summoned animals got killed too bit they don’t really count 🙂  The heroes quickly finished the ceremony with the last dwarf and put Stonefang to rest for a bit.

They then struck back out to Tilverdale to meet up with Thoren and let them know they had succeeded.  Flinka was happy to know they had found her sisters medallion communicator and gave them as a gift to the heroes.  After a brief respite they got  Thoren and his companions back to the pass and checked in on Shadowfell Keep.  They meet up with Lord Maxwell and saw the renovations that had taken place.  They got a bad feeling from Larak who is one of the advisors as well as ran into Ninnaran who happens to be a scout for Lord Maxwell.

This leads the heroes with several things to deal with and options to move on to.  And what exactly happened to Elfaba?

User error Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

I think  with technology as it is today everyone has fallen prey to this. everything to remotes not working because dead batteries to screen savers not coming on because you turn your monitor off before they come on in power settings. We see this in gaming as well. Some of it just happens and some of it is blatant.

The idea is to always play perfectly and make no mistakes. If you can go back and say I made all the correct decisions with the information I had then you can not fault yourself for losing. Playing perfectly means you doing all the right things even those that hinder you when you play. For instance remembering to take damage when you cut for fury, tap a painland, retrieve an encounter power via a feat. No one is perfect and errors will occur but with two or more people there to police inadvertent actions can be caught.

I’ve seen the rising of “simple mistakes” in competitive play recently. Now I do not know if it’s the rise of new players or people trying to play the system. I have seen cases of both recently. The best defense for this is not to allow any take backs in competitive play, no exceptions. I watched a player try this ploy in a tournament recently. They “forgot” to place focus during convenient times. After watching this happen in two different rounds I got wise to the situation. In my game my opponent did not allocate focus on the third turn after being perfect for two turns. I said no after he started moving his second jack to allowing him to add focus. Lots of whining from my opponent about how unfair it was and it ruined his game.  The easy answer is do not ask or give takebacks.

Footbal season is starting today and I’m sure makes lots of guys happy and wives miserable.  I’m just glad its back!

Labor day and D&D Thursday, Sep 2 2010 

I’m taking a nice four day weekend this week for many reasons. The main being it’s time for a nice break from work, get random errands done that are hard to do during the week, and to relax a little. I’ve been teasing third book of the fire and ice series and loving it. So I can take my car to get a checkup and read a book

Encounters this week was fun but very frustrating to me. We had two new guys which is great but lost two of other guys to school. I was lit up by chain immobilized by the gith. Not a pleasant place for a marauding ranger. Also unfortunately burned through all my surges because the new guys did not want to waste encounter powers. It’s fine they are new and it happens. The good news is I did take over 50 damage and revived a dying ally (thank you curious knack). So I am assured to make the magical sixty mark but will be pretty useless the next two encounters with thirteen hit points and no surges. This should pose an interesting challenge

Okay just found out that the immobilization was an encounter power and the dm made a mistake throwing it every round. Well that bites a bit but what can you do ? Everyone makes mistakes I know I have as the game master. Maybe I’ll catch some luck next week.  Heck I use to have affect wrong in 4e for while and unless it hit.  Something I learned from playing encounters actually.

A player of mine bought some gaming paper for me and I plan to bust some of it out this weekend. There are a couple of encounters that wizards did not supply maps for. So let’s use my present right? Everyone has raved about it so it should be excellent for what I need. I bet there is way to print up my own single sheets at home. That would probably work better for the places I am using this week.

Writing this blog has given me the itch to go back to the book I am working on. I need to read it and fix the obvious errors and hopefully get back to the flow. I feel this blog has given me an outlet to get unblocked.

I did a little jaunt on a podcast so those of you wanting to hear my voice take a listen.  I will also plug their podcast which is listed on the side of my blog, ZERO FORTITUDE.  Here is a link and go ahead and give me pointers about my wirting or my radio skills.

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