Haven’t been gaming lately. Missed the last S&W session, as the title mentions. No session tonight, postponed until next week. Can’t come quickly enough.

Haven’t been playing at home either. Been so long the girls aren’t even asking. Need to fix that. Immediately. Letting stress get in the way. And WoW…damn Pandas. I think tonight or tomorrow night Citadels is coming out for a quick game.

Picked up FFG’s X-Wing. Really need to play that. Will collect the ships even if I never do. Just love them. It’s a bit wrong.

So, point of this post: fallen off the wagon. Need to get back on.

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Forbidden Island!

Last Christmas (I think), Brian from my S&W group gave me a copy of Forbidden Island. 2-4 player, cooperative, and easy to get into. Perfect for the family. You play a group of adventures trying to claim 4 pieces of treasure off the island before it sinks. Tiles are two sided, one in color, the other in grey. All is good if the color side is up, if it’s grey, it’s sinking. Players move around the board shoring up sinking tiles (flipping them back to the color side) while trying to get 4 identical treasure cards to claim the treasure. When you get 4 copies, you head to a tile that has that treasure and grab it. Once all 4 treasures have been claimed you head back to the landing pad tile and take off to freedom, winning the game. At least that’s how you hope it goes. Cards can cause the water level to rise, making more tiles sink. If water rises on a tile that is grey, that tile goes away.

First go at this game, E, L and I ran through it to great success. Mainly because the wife was playing the strategist and telling everyone what to do! Hey, whatever works. Recently we played again allowing Q to take part, so nicely filling out all four player spots. She was particularly interested in grabbing the treasure. L was a bit frustrated by this…a sister thing. Again, follow the lead of my wife, we successfully captured all 4 treasures and made it to safety. The second saw far fewer tiles disappear as well. No one got dumped in water and had to swim to safety. Everyone had a good time.

You can adjust the difficulty of the game by setting the starting water level to a higher value, making it more important to shore up tiles and work with speed. We play easy mode, and probably will continue to for the sake of family enjoyment.

Great game, easily accessible to the younger crowd. A great grab.

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Confrontation with my Daughter

Last week I snuck in a game of Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, a 20-30 minute 2 player game, with my eldest. Think Stratego with cards that can affect the outcome of a face-off. Fellowship player wins if Frodo gets to Mordor, Sauron side wins if s/he gets 4 forces to the Shire. Move pieces around, fighting, etc. All pieces have special text to through a twist, Gimli defeats the Orcs immediately, if Balrog is in the right region, he can automatically kill any Fellowship traveling through the mines of Moria, etc. A fun game. Or at least I thought so. Shortly in, after quickly taking out a couple of her Fellowship, L quickly become frustrated and put on the “I’m not having fun face.” We play the game out, I kill a few of her people, she kills more of mine and gets Frodo to Mordor. Essentially she wins both ways as I didn’t have 4 people left at the end of the game.

Her review, “I don’t like it.” Mine, I enjoyed the game and the strategies behind it. Solid quick, 2 player game, more so if you are a Tolkien fan. I recommend giving it a shot.

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Hey, that’s my Citadel!

For the first game review post, you get a double-header. Spiffy, I know! I’ll talk about Hey , that’s my Fish! and Citadels, both Fantasy Flight Games.

The most recent game we’ve played is Hey, that’s my Fish! We did so because the youngest, henceforth known as Q, was getting frustrated with not being able to get on our Citadels games. More on that later. Hey, that’s my Fish! is a hex-based tile game in which players try to get the most fish. The rules are simple. Everyone starts on a single-fish tile (there are also two- and three-fish tiles). In our 4-player game, we each controlled two penguins. Movement is based on straight lines in any direction, much like the Queen in chess. When you move to a new square, you pick up your starting square. This continues until no one can move anymore and you count up the fish you’ve collected. My eldest, L, went straight for the 3-fish tiles. I moved around considering trapping my wife, E, but didn’t do that right away. Great ease of play, with some pretty cut-throat strategies if you so choose to employ them. We all had a good time. The one complaint is that we spent a lot of time rearranging the tiles after someone moved. A frame or grid could go along way in helping this, but a minor nuisance.

Now, the game that has seen the most play time recently is Citadels. This is the first game that my daughter will bug me daily to play and the first that the wife is willing to play regularly as well. That’s saying quite a bit. A city building game, which for our 3-player version, each of us took on the role of two characters a round, claimed gold, drew cards, built districts. Repeat until someone has 8 districts. Each round, the characters you can play can change based on which is randomly discarded, who the king is (they get first pick), strategies, etc. Quite a lot of fun. Our first game was very friendly. Assassin didn’t kill, Thief didn’t steal, Warlord didn’t destroy. This lasted one game. Totally my fault. I unleashed my wife’s wrath when I had the Assassin kill the Architect (which she happen to have). Citadels is a great little game, quick to pick up, quick to play. I’d say our games take about 20 minutes. Now, we aren’t excluding Q to be mean. We are having her watch the games to try pick up the feel for them. There is a fair amount of strategy involved and she could easily become frustrated. Working on that.

These past few months have been fantastic. I LOVE that my family is finally digging gaming together. I’m working on finding more cooperative games to drag them into to balance the “someone has to lose” games.

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Lots has been going on since the last post. I shall type up some individual summaries soon. On the list:

D&D Next
Lost Island

and probably some more! I’m slowly getting the family involved which is such a great pleasure. Gotta get the kids hooked now! Look for updates soon….

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A Return to the Tower (and the blog)

Holy cow, has it really been that long since I posted something? Yikes. Probably been that long since I was able to get my dice rollin’ on, too. Such painful times.

Tonight we see a return to our Swords & Wizardry group. We last we delved, our group had been split up by an awful halfling *cough*me*cough* and his curiosity. Our faithful thief and mapkeeper, Tibag, took a dive into some icy blue lava. We are done to four in this area now, and my poor Skwanky has been paralyzed by his “friend” Vinny (too prevent any more running away). The last session was pretty dark and gloomy, there’s no telling where this will end up for these guys. We’re supposed to finish up our little foray through this portal, either by returning to the surface or death. I’m sadly leaning toward the latter. Pretty sure they’ll never let me roll another halfling again if he ends up killing off more than half the group.

Time to dust off the dice and refill the lead. Can’t wait!

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Talking Traveller

Up until last night’s S&W session, we were coming up to a good end point. Run in with the big bad. OoooooooOOOooooh. Well, I kinda fucked that up (loooook  a pretty purple portal!!), but that doesn’t change the fact that our ever-patient DM needs a break. The group is looking at running a few one-offs this summer to get him out from behind the screen. Corey is thinking of running Paranoia and DC Heroes. Clay is going to be running the Tesla League, a Savage Worlds game. I’ve never had much confidence in my DMing ability but there seems to be a fairly strong desire to play Traveller. As such, I think I may see how badly I can butcher the art of storytelling. For preparation, I’ve been putting together an Appendix N list for Traveller. Here’s what I have so far, please let me of anything else to include.

Poul Anderson – Ensign Flandry, Volume 1
Arthur C. Clarke - Rendezvous with Rama
Robert A. Heinlein – Starship Troopers, Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Larry Niven – Ringworld
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – The Mote in God’s Eye
H. Beam Piper – Space Viking
Jack Vance – Planet of Adventure


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Gaming goals for 2011

I’m surrounded by a good group of gaming folk and really need to abuse that fact. Therefore, I’ve put together some gaming goals for the year. Starting small, let’s see what happens.

Play Dominion
Play Tannhäuser
Play at least a session or two of Dragon Age RPG
Play another round of Ravenloft
Play some Munchkin

That covers new games. But what about the existing Swords & Wizardry game? What are Skwanky’s goals? Well, for starters, we just took over this old tower. An easy (and obvious) goal for me there is to get a nice kitchen built. With lots of food. And a chef. I’d never need to leave. I’d also like to see if we can keep all the party members alive this year. That would be awesome. I’d also like to explore his increasingly dangerous behavior. Little bastard’s got an invulnerability complex. How far do I want to take it? It’s been harmless for the most part, so far, but that won’t last forever. Consequences will have to be attended to. Might the cafefree little guy actually be harboring something dark and destructive?

I have great hope for this year.

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RPGs are soooo retro

Wow, almost 3 months without a post. That’s just plain unacceptable. Sadly, that’s not too far from when my last gaming session was. Getting the jitters. Anyway, I was talking to a friend of mine regarding the different editions of Dungeons & Dragons as well as the retro clones and he was surprised by the sheer number. He always thought D&D was D&D. After briefing him on all the important keywords (OD&D, AD&D, Holmes, Moldvay/Cook, Mentzer) it occurred to me that I didn’t know where the game I was playing, Swords & Wizardry fit in on that timeline. Doing some research showed me I was also incorrect about what version Labyrinth Lord matched up to. So, mostly to give myself a quick reference of where things match up, I’ve created a little table. Maybe this will be useful to someone else.

odd OD&D (’74) = Swords and Wizardry

add 1st Ed. AD&D (’77) = OSRIC

holmes Basic – Holmes (’77)

moldvay B/X – Moldvay/Cook (’81) = Labyrinth Lord, BFRPG

mentzer BECMI – Mentzer (’83)

cyclopedia Rules Cyclopedia (’91) = Dark Dungeons

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Rules, what are they good for?

Most RPG blogs seem to have an opinion on which edition they like, be it OD&D, Pathfinder, Swords and Wizardry or “the edition that must not be named”. What’s the difference? Well, rules. But what good are rules? Personally, I think the fewer the better, but I can understand the appeal of more. Pick your set and run with it. Whatever gets the group together is a good thing. At the end of the day, though, I don’t find the rules to be the most important thing. What the hell is, then? A flexible DM. Dear god, they make a world of difference.

I don’t care what game you play, you will find things you don’t like. How could you not? You didn’t write it. But it’s a game, and it’s supposed to be fun. What do you do with these rules that you feel go against that? Nuke them! No, really. Let’s take S&W for example. It’s pretty damn rules-lite. We do a shitton more role-playing than we do roll-playing. For us, this is beautiful. But, if we played it by the book, our party wouldn’t exist. There are no halflings or amazons, no vikings or druids. Well, there goes half our party.

Our DM is pretty damn flexible. He really let’s us play. And boy do we. The scenes we come up with are pretty epic. Go read some of the recaps in his blog. (There, Paul, two links to you. I want some exp for that) We are allowed this type of game play not because of the ruleset we choose, but because of the DM and players we have. One of players, Corey, has mentioned bringing the Alchemist class from Pathfinder over. I’m pretty excited to see how this templates out.

Find a ruleset that has a half-elf, half-dwarf. I dare you. We have one in party. If we didn’t the following would have never happened. And that would have been a sad, sad thing. From Tibag’s journal:

10:15pm – “Last few” crotch goblins called their friends. These things must do nothing but breed. Thankfully we kill them faster than they can reproduce…just barely, though. It’s fun to watch hair guy and little guy kill three of them with one sweep. Nature guy skewered a couple at once. Twenty or thirty crotch goblins down. I worry sometimes that I’m enjoying this too much.

10:16pm – Not worried any more. Crotch goblin jumped on my face and started tearing at my head with his claws. I bit his junk off. Nobody teabags Tibag. Did NOT enjoy that. Crotch goblin blood tastes like evil and decay. Hope someone has some mead.

10:30pm – Other crotch goblins stunned, easy to dispatch. Victory! Still feel kind of sick. We decide to take a break.

Pure gold.

So, the tl;dr version: don’t sweat the rules. Do what it takes to have fun. After all, that’s why you’re playing.

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