Been a little quiet around here, huh? Christmas does that. Lots of family stuff going on, both for me and my gaming group. But I’m trying to get back to some more regular gaming – and blogging – now. And to start off, I’m going to do a bit of a recap of what I’ve been up to over Christmas.
- Castle Ravenloft – I demoed this boardgame at C4 this past year, but there’s a real difference between co-ordinating a demo and actually playing. It’s quite a fun game. Three of us played, and we got through two scenarios that evening, with time left over to play something else. The speed of play is a huge bonus, in my opinion, and the randomness of the game means there’s good replay value. In short, it looks like they’ve taken all the cool stuff of Descent and weeded out the things that made Descent ((To be clear, I like Descent, but it is a long game, and doesn’t quite have the cool to justify the length of play.)) take forever – prep time, convoluted combat, adversarial plan, things like that. The downside is that it’s only good for five players, currently, though the forthcoming Wrath of Ashardalon, which is supposed to be compatible with Ravenloft, should address that.
- Chrononauts – We got in two games of this card game after playing Ravenloft. It was so good that I went to the game store the next day to buy a copy for myself ((I also got the three supplements for the game, and am looking forward to trying them out.)). The rules are very simple, but the strategic play involved in trying to change the right lynchpins in the timeline so that the ripples bring about the future you need is quite deep. Again, fast play and great replay value, as everyone gets two different goal cards each time you play.
- Battlestar Galactica – I managed to get in two games ((In one of them, I finally got to be a cylon!))of this, finally getting a chance to try out at least part of the Pegasus expansion. In addition, I’m currently involved in a play-by-forum game with some friends. It’s still a fantastic game, but the urgency and tension that you get playing face-to-face is mitigated somewhat by the delay in playing online.
- Arkham Horror – Lately, whenever we play this, we play without the extra boards. Otherwise, there’s no hope of actually finishing a game with my group. But I have added the figures for the investigators and some nice little accessories from Litko to enhance the experience. We faced off against Ghatanothoa last time, and we kicked his ugly ass back out of reality. And only one investigator was devoured!
- Shadowlands – After a lengthy hiatus, my friend Clint got us back to his D&D 3.5 campaign, and it felt good to get back.
- Gammatoba – My Storm Point crew has voted to go with my Gamma World pitch, and we’re running a short game set in the ruined wasteland of Red Valley, where the brave initiates of the Fort LoGray Legion are venturing into Great City One to prove their mettle and achieve full membership. That starts this Sunday.
- Dread – After hearing a lot about this game, I finally bought it and am about half-way through reading it. It’s got some great ideas, but I’m a little concerned about whether it would fit my game group – specifically, the idea that players are out if the tower falls. In general, I don’t like elimination mechanics in games, and especially in RPGs, and having the chance that a character just dies and is out in the first five minutes of play is not something I’m comfortable with. That said, the recommendations for pulls make it look like one pull per five minutes of play making for things getting tense as you near the four-hour mark. I’d have to see it in action, I think, to judge it fairly, but it makes me uncertain.
- Leverage – I’m a fan of the TV show, and The Quickstart Job looked cool enough that I bought the main book ((I’ve received the .pdf, but no sign of the printed book yet. I’m anxiously awaiting it.)), and I was completely blown away. I’m putting together a group to run The Quickstart Job, and then I’m going to have much more to say about this game. One thing I’ll mention here is that, while The Quickstart Job seems to do a good job of introducing the style of the game, it leaves out a number of the really cool parts of the game ((In addition, it looks like the fight rules have changed between The Quickstart Job and the release of the main book. I like the new changes – they make things faster and more cinematic.)).
- Smallville – I picked this up on the strength of Leverage – they both use a tweaked set of the Cortex rules system. I had passed on Smallville earlier because everything I had read about said that it focused more on the teen soap opera dynamic than the superhero facet of the setting. And that’s right, but the way the rules have been tailored to do that is worth the read, even if, like me, you never intend to run the game. If nothing else, the character creation process, which creates the rest of the supporting cast, themes, locations, and basic plotlines as a byproduct of building the characters, is immensely lootable.
- Fiasco – I didn’t get to play as much Fiasco as I had hoped ((As in, I did not get to play any Fiasco.))over the break. But I did have several people express real interest in giving it a try when things settled down. So, there’ll be some games in the near future ((Yes, Karla and Ryan, that means you.)).
- Bookhounds of London – Picked up the preorder for this. I’ve only just scratched the surface of it so far, but it looks amazing. But you knew that, right? I mean, it’s written by Ken Hite, fergawdsake!
- Writing – I set myself a goal of 1000 words per day for the novel I’m trying to write. I didn’t live up to that, but I did manage about 11,000 words in total. That’s not too bad, and gives me a strong foundation for the rest of it. I just need to make working on it a more regular part of my day.
So, that’s the way the Christmas vacation shaped up for me. It’s got me pumped about gaming in the coming year ((Like any more pumping was necessary.)), so expect to see me going on at length about various things in the near future.