Monday, June 30, 2014


A really nice scene I caught on my phone the other night while out for a stroll.  The harvest is upon us!! 

Well it has been a wonderful spring and early summer, lots of hiking and generally being active and outside every day.  Hence my lack of posts.

That said the time of gaming harvest is upon me once again via my annual micro-con hosted at my house since 2009.  Yes this is the big LARRYCON V!! Five years and still alive!! 

My friend Scott Anderson from Las Vegas has just departed (he is driving up this year, normally they all just fly up) with a carload of Nevada booze, games, etc. and should be here this afternoon.  My friends Will and Rob are also trekking up later in the week and then all of my local friends residing up and down the Wasatch front will be making appearances throughout the week. 

The general format is basically I have time slots just like a real convention, we have a morning game slot, and afternoon and then an evening.  Generally we have a single game going the entire time and then in the evenings we have enough people for two and sometimes three games to be running simultaneously.   I have a converted garage that we normally game in but for LARRYCON week I ship the rest of the family off to the in-laws in Oregon and I convert the entire house into a gamer dormitory and have games running in the kitchen, front room and even on the back deck. 

Some of the games we hope to play are:

  • 7 Wonders
  • Agricola
  • Eldritch Horror
  • Castles of Burgundy
  • Eminent Domain
  • Flash Point
  • Hanabi
  • Firefly 
  • Spartacus 
  • Lords of Vegas
  • City of Iron
  • Power Grid: Japan Map
  • The Resistance
  • Russian Railroads
  • Smash Up
  • Timeline
  • Terra Mystica 
  • Brass
  • Eclipse 
  • Marvel Legends 
  • Pathfinder Card Game

In addition to that we might toss out a game or two of Warmachine and maybe get some wargaming in (probably some nostalgic Axis and Allies or perhaps Attack! ...).  There will likely be some party games and light fun little games (stuff like Love Letter, Zombie Dice, Kill Dr. Lucky, etc.) as well as some one shot RPG action (we are doing a Warhammer 40K Space Marine themed hack of the Margret Weiss Marvel system for example).

Again ... what most of my spring has been spent doing ... hiking and climbing.  Great fun, but this week I am ready for beers and games >:)
Lots of BBQin, BSin and Beer >:) ... ah life is good this week! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5th edition D&D

Is it really just schadenfreude?  For me I don't think so, for many out there probably.  I know many people felt betrayed/burned by WoTC/Hasbro somewhere between 3.0 and 4e.  I felt it early, I didn't like 3.0 era grid based D&D.  I've gone to great detail in past posts on that so I won't belabor that here.  But I still played my fair share of 3.5-4e. I played ALOT of 4e actually.  I played a fair amount of Pathfinder as well.  I don't dislike those games if they are run well with a good GM and group.  I will not run those games, it just is not my cup of tea.  I'm not built that way.  I love wide open story driven games where combats are quick and decisive, not long, drawn out and tactical.  If I want miniature based combat I'll play a mini game is my take on that.  Anyway I eventually made my peace with it all and moved on to Dungeon World and also just came to realize I don't have the kind of time to really be a serious RPGer anymore anyway.  I have too many other gaming/life interests ... too many kids ... too many papers to grade and write ... too many trails to hike to worry too much about a given RPG anymore.  
But I WILL SAY ... I dearly hope 5th ed is a smashing success! Why?  It would be good for the hobby, good for tabletop gaming, good for pen and paper RPGing.  D&D is too venerable to let die!
That said, sadly, I think WoTC is in an impossible situation, they need to please the Grognards, the new kids, attract people away from Paizo (which is a well-run, much beloved little company that seems to have a knack for getting things right and listening to its fans/customers) … WoTC is in one of those unenviable positions where they need to not just get on base they need to hit a home run … or it is game over.
I don’t see this ending well. They initially said they were going to create a “modular” system that would allow GMs/players to layer in levels of complexity, etc. and they initially had some really cool flexible character creation ideas (allowing players to have a healing fighter or a lock picking/trap disarming cleric, etc.) and those quickly got locked down and tossed out. As the playtests went on flexibility fell by the wayside. Somewhere in there I lost interest as it seemed the game was turning back towards fat 400 page rulebook levels of complexity, low flexibility, etc. and for that I’ll just play games like Pathfinder/Shadowrun/etc. pick a 400 page rulebook, inflexible monster of your choice. I’ll play those games with a very proficient DM but I really have no inclination to run them anymore, as who the hell has that kind of time?!?!
I’m sad to see the venerable old franchise fall this far, but with what happened between 3.0 and 4th I don’t see any other way for this to end than with the slow, painful death of pen and paper D&D. I don’t know why Hasbro doesn’t just license out the pen and paper to Fantasy Flight (or just let it go totally dormant) and then spend their time and energy developing video games with the IP. Pathfinder is too entrenched and all the Grognards are happy playing 1st ed./clones … stuff like Labyrinth Lords, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, etc. all the 3.5 guys are either still playing that or playing Pathfinder and any new players are just as likely to end up playing a new “indie/small press” title as not (Dungeon World, etc.) so what room is there at the table for D&D anymore … especially given most people are still pissed about 3.5/4e, etc.
Does WoTC have a snowball’s chance in hell on this one … personally I think not. But hey on this I’d honestly like to be wrong, I really would.

Monday, May 12, 2014

40k 7th edition ... too little too late ...

As they say:  Disappointment = expectation divided by reality ... 
This sums up where I am with GW these days! 
Ok so the world of mini gaming is abuzz with talk about a new edition of 40K (already?!?!).  
At first I thought ... wow ... maybe finally they will do something to the game to make it more accessible for me and the people I know who all used to love 40K but just don't have room in their lives for it anymore ... maybe ... just maybe! 
Then I see the descriptions and I see where this is going, as expected down the GW sales driving rabbit hole.  GW is just opening things up to more required spending, more time sink and more required space to stay in the game.  Nothing is changing for the better and pretty much things are just going to get worse.  Oh sure "unbound" lists give people more flexibility, yada yada, but the point levels, the gi-fucking-gantic, super expensive apocalypse models are here to stay in regular games, etc. 
I don’t have time, nor do I know anyone (that I’d care to hang out/play 40K with) that is willing to play 6th style, apocalypse 40K. Needing a 4×6 table, needing 100+ models, 3-4+ hours, etc. to play a single game against a single opponent.  All this means that a busy adult with kids, a significant other, a job, in short a life, is just not going to be able to play this monster of a game. I’ve been in that place for about five years now. There are all sorts of options for playing 40K on a skirmish level, but those rulesets are “fan” rulesets that aren’t very well balanced, not well playtested and of course not very well supported. Necromunda is super dated and getting new people into that is impossible, same with Mordheim. I still have a glimmer of a hope that I might be able to do some of the LoTR/Hobbit stuff sort of board game style with my gaming group … but even that is a long shot.
For years I’ve hoped that GW would see the handwriting on the wall, that people are now spending 10+ hours a week messing around on the internet, which means fewer people painting, playing, etc. due to the really stupid levels of cash and time someone would need to devote to 6th ed. style 40K., simple common sense dictates that there will be fewer players and those players are going to be unemployed kids, stinky store trolls/anti-social types, etc. The cool working professional 40K player is something that was common 10-15 years ago and something that is a exceedingly rare these days.  That means that any interesting players are either in small garage groups or they have just moved on to other gaming options.  I have hoped GW would realize this and create an official “option” for people to play the game at smaller point levels, but alas they have not.  Also I guess things in the UK and Europe are very different than they are here, their model with their huge number of stores in the UK, etc. is very different there.  In the US with our sparely populated gamer concentrations (at least out west) GW does no favors to those of us who would like to see more people get into the hobby in fact GW seems to be actively doing whatever it can to dissuade new players (or cool former players) from getting into the hobby.  
Anyway clearly nothing to address any of the core problems are going to happen with 7th ed. from everything I’ve read it is simply more of the same old GW. Their expectation is that 40K is your ONLY hobby, that you are going to spend 10+ hours a week on the game and spend thousands annually supporting your addiction. For me, this is the final nail in the coffin for 40K. It just isn’t viable for me personally and I will now continue to slowly eBay off my massive collection. I do have to say though that the silver lining of GWs endless price hikes is that I can sell all my old stuff off and get most of my money back. So there is that, and I can’t complain about that at all. I’ve been able to buy lots of board games and Privateer Press stuff (a game I enjoy at the boxed set level, on 4×4 tables, with game that can easily be played in under an hour … including BSing). I am sad to see the old friend that 40K is fade from my life … but it just isn’t viable anymore for me … best of luck to those of you who still have room in your life for it, I envy you …

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Well a great local game convention has come and gone, it was a BLAST!!!  I played wall to wall games from early Friday morning until Sunday afternoon with very little down time.  I think I played around 15-20 games.  I lost count and honestly can't remember everything I played ... its all kind of a blur ...

We had a four person crew that attended, mostly euro game fans. So that is what we played primarily, though we dabbled into some Ameri-trash, some war games and party games as well.  

The vendors at the con were a little sparse but many small press game companies were in attendance like Red Raven games, Gamelyn games, 5th Street Games, Crash Games, etc.  There was a huge gamer flea market, a math trade, game swap, tons of drawings, etc. etc. and I'd say several thousand total attendees during the course of the weekend.  Again no Spiel/Gencon/Comicon/Adepticon ... but it was a great locals con being hosted within ten miles from my house.

So here are my top 10 plays of the convention:

1) Russian Railroads
2) City of Iron
3) Eminent Domain
4) Belfort 
5) Marvel Legendary (I had never played this ... its a licensed title ... but for a deck builder which isn't really my normal cup o' tea ... I really enjoyed it)
6) Small World (I've played Underground before but never the core game)
7) Empires of the Void (great game, but a little too much like Eclipse for me to consider purchasing for my library)
8) Forbidden Desert (I enjoyed it more than Forbidden Island, which I like)
9) Council of Verona (reminiscent of Love Letter)
10) RAMPAGE!  (a fun little party board game involving buildings supported by meeples ... not a deep strategic game more a little dexterity/party/family game). 

Next year I think some of the guys from Vegas might trek up.  I think they might move the con back down to Salt Lake City.  Which means I'll probably get a room wherever they are hosting it.  Other than that I'll be back. It was a blast and a great little locals con! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Well this just looked interesting enough to take the plunge.  It looks like a fun sort of light RPG/story telling game.  It just sounds really fun.  The components look decent and for $23.00 US on Amazon (with free shipping thanks to Prime) it didn't break the bank.

I'm going to try to get it out once I get it and get a few rounds of play and then I'll be running it at my annual summer Microcon.  LARRYCON!  Which will be in its fifth year this year! LARRCON V!!!!!

Here is a lil' promo video: 

Here is a great unboxing video on it: 
Here is a round of play:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A beautiful spring day ... wonderful day to walk with the bison

Slightly unrelated topic here, but then again maybe not.  I mean perhaps one has interest in gaming in the old west, right?

So today was a splendid spring day, and a great day for a hike out at Antelope Island.  Many people were out taking advantage but we managed to have much of the trail to ourselves.

The bison seemed to be enjoying the day as well.  Lazily grazing as we passed on the trail.  Though when I stopped to take some pictures they seemed to take notice.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dreadball ... to back or not to back ...

So I tend to be pretty excessive when I go in on a Kickstarter.  I'm in at the Frenzy level of Dreadball.  I ended up opting not to go in on either Slaughterball or Guildball.  Both were fine looking games, I'm just more into mantic's stuff than either of those projects.  Though I really do for sure hope Slaugherball funds, it is a four player BB clone, which sounds way more appealing for my gaming group than a two player.

Anyway so the plan is to use this stuff to jump into Dreadball at some point, probably 2015.  I keep questioning my excessiveness though on this one, wondering if I can ever get this off the ground in the gaming group.  We'll see I guess and I still have a week to decide.  I could scale down my buy in, but it seems a good enough deal that if I'm going in at all I might as well go in at the Frenzy level. 

I'm pretty excited about the kickstarter itself, it is just dripping with awesome stuff.  I just worry about my own ability to get the group into this at some point ... 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Eldritch Horror Boardgame Night

So last night we fired up a game of Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight Games) and it was surprisingly fun!  I thought I'd just do a little intro post about the game itself.  This isn't a review, just my rambling about my experience.

To start here is FFGs blurb on the game:

Eldritch Horror

Across the globe, ancient evil is stirring. Now, you and your trusted circle of colleagues must travel around the world, working against all odds to hold back the approaching horror. Foul monsters, brutal encounters, and obscure mysteries will take you to your limit and beyond. All the while, you and your fellow investigators must unravel the otherworldly mysteries scattered around the globe in order to push back the gathering mayhem that threatens to overwhelm humanity. The end draws near! Do you have the courage to prevent global destruction?

Eldritch Horror is a cooperative game of terror and adventure in which one to eight players take the roles of globetrotting investigators working to solve mysteries, gather clues, and protect the world from an Ancient One - an elder being intent on destroying our world. Each Ancient One comes with its own unique decks of Mystery and Research cards, which draw you deeper into the lore surrounding each loathsome creature.

Discover the true name of Azathoth or battle Cthulhu on the high seas. With twelve unique investigators, two hundred-fifty tokens, and over three hundred cards, Eldritch Horror presents an epic, world-spanning adventure with each and every game.


So to preface my post here, I own Arkham Horror, and I really do not know what to say about that game.  For hardcore Lovecraft fans (who don't mind the typical commercialized cartoony/third party/ized offerings) it is something that one should own.  But the game itself is really a tall order to pull off in anything but the most dedicated board game group.  It can take as long as four or five hours (or more with expansions) it is fiddly, it is frustrating and it is at times drawn out.  Don't get me wrong I've had much fun with the game if I'm playing with a group who is really focused on the game and knows what they are doing collectively.  Yet I've had some very bad experiences with the game as well, with groups that weren't really into it and doing too much sideline BSing and not staying focused on the game.

SO ... what does that have to do with Eldritch Horror?

Eldritch Horror seems aimed at dispensing with the really steep setup, mechanics curve that Arkham throws at you.  It is much more like the game Pandemic than it is like Arkham.  That said there are more fiddly bits in Eldritch than in Pandemic.  But overall the game plays and feels like Pandemic.

It was my first play of the game and we managed to finish out in about 3 hours, which sounds bad but we had a player have to leave in the middle of the game, we had the inevitably fumble through moments, etc. and it still played faster than the fastest play-throughs of Arkham I've ever had.   

So here was our messy table after about 2/3s of the game(ish).

Above: this was my character the "reformed" cultist, who proceeded to become an insanely powerful sorcerer who stayed in Arkham the entire game, teleporting other players around, casting protective spells on them and using her dark powers to acquire items for others, etc.  I really enjoyed the character though I doubt that I'll ever get that many spells in a single game again .. lol.

We did win, but just barely.  Again this has a very similar feel at some points to Pandemic and things just start to "pop" in the game and you feel you are about to get overwhelmed.  In our case the tide changed in our favor right at the last turn of the game and we managed to pull out a nail biter of a victory.

The game does seem pretty challenging to beat, in a similar vein to Arkham.  I like that actually but that might not be for all groups, as it might be frustrating if your looking for more laid back and casual play.  Again though the game mechanics are simple, standard FFG style, so its not insanely complex or strategic really.  The party just has to work together and play to their strengths and if they do that, the average group of 12 year old players could easily put together a victory with this.  So it is something you can play with a mixed group of gamers, non-gamers, adults and older kids.  Game play is probably going to average 2.5-3.5 hours for most groups I would guess.  

Anyway it was fun and certainly worth a look if Cthulhu calls to you ...

Friday, February 28, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge Final Post

The Single Most Important Lesson I've learned from playing D&D ...

This is a very challenging question to be honest.  It is difficult to boil down the sum total of my D&D experience to a single lesson.   I honestly thought about this for a little while and I think my last post really sums up what D&D is about for me and what I have learned from it and why I keep coming back.

D&D is about fun.  

Yes that is an ultra simplistic breakdown of a role playing game.  Ya ya ... games are supposed to be fun.
But that is a zen like mantra.  When you play a bad game, sure the first time you play maybe it is sort of fun, maybe even the second, or the fifth time (I'm looking at you Monopoly).  At some point though bad mechanics are going to shine through and your going to get bored.  Stay with me here ... that never happened with D&D.  I caught the bug at age 10 and even though I left D&D for years and years, I came back to it ... 

When I did.  What did I find?


That simple.

D&D is one of the pivotal things in my life that taught me to just stop sometimes and have fun.  Just do something purely for fun.  Hell it doesn't have to be D&D it can be anything that provides you with pure unadulterated fun.  Again this is not an earth shattering revelation I'm giving here, but be honest.  As we age and acquire that mortgage, those car payments, that demanding boss/girlfriend/spouse/kids more and more of our time is claimed doing un-fun stuff.  It is easy to sacrifice your own happiness, take some time and have some fun for yourself.

For me I learned that D&D, with a little effort (not too much) is a source of fun.  That is why I keep coming back to it.  It has provided me with more fun than any other game I've ever played.  It isn't even close.  D&D hands down has given me at this point, probably several thousand hours of fun.  The fun to money ratio of D&D is amazing.  The fun to time ratio isn't honestly that bad either (given that so much of the time you invest is actually fun).  I could go on and on, rambling about this very simple concept that is so plain it doesn't really need to be said.  But I have a penchant for stating the obvious!  

I'll leave you now with amazing words of wisdom (appropriately unrelated) from one of the greatest thinkers of our age ... THE DUNGEON BASTARD!  The lesson here is, again, have fun and don't take any of this too seriously.  

D&D as an adult gave me a good reminder that fun is a necessary element of life! I really do believe that we all need fun in our lives.  Don't forget to have fun, every single damn day if possible! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge Post 26 -- Any regrets about D&D?

D&D ... if I had it to do all over again what would I do anything differently when I first started gaming?

I think I have no regrets at all about my early experiences with D&D.  In fact I think I was blessed with a near optimal entry into the hobby for so many reasons.  First it was the literal "golden age" of D&D, second it was the analog age.  I had no distractions of technology calling me away to spend hours on YouTube or on the latest Call of Duty title.  Third I had a great version of the game to start into D&D with, basic red box D&D.  I can't imagine being a ten year old kid today and just starting D&D for so many reasons I do not see how children could possibly pull off D&D the way we were able to as kids in the 1980s.

We approached the game with a sense of adventure, wonder and even a little awe.  We took it seriously, yet we let it be fun.  When we came together to game, we did so with the spirit of having a good time.  Our DM was serious and applied the rules, but he didn't let that get in the way of that spirit of adventure, or our collective fun.  Those are very simple things, but I cannot tell you how many times I've been in a game where those things just didn't materialize or weren't respected from the beginning.

So honestly I can say I have nothing I'd do differently when I first started gaming.  I have plenty of regrets with how we approached things in various games over the past five or six years, but nothing from my early years.  I think in general the biggest faux pas one can make with D&D or really any game is to take it too seriously.  I also think that when one plays and RPG they need to have a giving attitude.  By that I mean be you a DM or a player you are part of a shared, collective experience.  You are responsible for adding to the fun, for helping breath life into the character and world in which you are playing.  Respect your DM, respect your fellow player, respect the game and respect yourself and above all don't forget to have fun!  All simple fortune cooking kind of advice, but to me that is what it all boils down to.

Never lose your sense of wonder and adventure ... if you can hang onto that ... not just in gaming, but in life, I believe you will have a much better time of it all :)

Here is a great little video that sums it all up I think ...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fun oldhammer/pulp army - Kallistra PYGMIES!!

Today I got a cool package from the UK, my Kallistra Pygmies arrived!

Somehow 2014 has become the year of jungle gaming for me for whatever reason.  I have decided to revisit my old school rogue trader era Catachan army, I'm working on a lizardmen army and sort of as part of that project I decided to pick up a reasonably sized pygmy army.

That roughly 140 pygmies, roughly a unit with blow guns, a unit with hand weapons and shields and a couple units with spears and shields.   I have a couple of palm tree catapults and about 16 boar riding pygmies.

To give an idea of size here is a GW fig.  Honestly these guys could work as large sized 15mm figs (maybe ogre sized or some giant sized jungle warriors).

I am aware these figs are a little non-PC, but they are a fantasy range and did not acquire them in that spirit nor do I really see them like that.  I honestly really love them, they have so much character!  I can hardly wait to get them based and painted.

I'm a little on the fence about how to base them.  I think I'm going to avoid basing them on square bases and instead base them on pennies.  I'll then make square movement trays for them if I want to field them in blocks.

They'll probably see more play in Song of Blades and Heroes, etc. than in WHFB games, granted I don't see myself fielding 150 of these guys in any SBH games ... EVER ... but I wanted to have the option of using them in WFHB, Kings of War, Armies of Arcana, etc.

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge Post 26 -- What happened to my original D&D group

Sadly I've gone it my own way.  My first group I played with were a bunch of great guys.  I was twelve the last time I played D&D with that group.  When I was a kid we move around a lot as my dad worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and as he moved up in the company it seemed we had to go somewhere else. Anyway about every three years we moved.  So I lost contact with those guys pretty much.  I saw them in high school and had some quick emails to them here and there in early college.  But its been well over ten years since I've heard from any of them.  Last time I heard they were all off to the four corners of the Pacific Northwest, here and there doing different things. Again though that was well over a decade ago, I'm sure their all married with kids and whatnot now, working for the man, mortgages, car payments and life ... set in upon them. 

The funny thing is I think that experience caused me to do what I've done ever since I was done with my first round of graduate school.  That is to create a home gaming group that is more or less some recreation of that first group.  I don't mean literally, I'm not out searching for people who look like my childhood pals all grown up.  No I just mean that having that weekly group, no matter where I live, has sort of been a thing for me since my mid-20s.

I've never really thought about it but it is sort of me chasing nostalgia I guess.  I have good times for sure and I'm glad I do it ... but I can't help but feel like a loner sometimes chasing things that I might never find again.

But I sully on, and have no regrets.  I have a great group right now and we are making our own gaming fun and charging off in new directions.  So maybe this time around I'll create a new archetype for a gaming group for myself ... only time will tell I guess ...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Battle of the blood bowl clones!!

So all of a sudden we have this glut of blood bowl clones on Kickstarter!  What is up with that! I'm calling unnecessary roughness on this one!  Someone could lose their pants!!


I didn't back the original Dreadball and I do wish I had.  But I am currently backing Dreadball Xtreme at the crazy frenzy level (that might change though the project has awhile to go yet and if the math doesn't work out on it I'll drop down to the uproar level probably).  I don't know I'm somewhat excited about the project.  BUT ... there happens to be two other alternatives up right now which are both a little tempting.

So we have Slaughterball.  I'm backing it too.  Again I'm going to wait and see what the end payoff is ... right now it looks like they are going to struggle to get very deep into their stretch goals.  I think they should fund they have 19 days left and they are half way to their $40,000.00 goal.

Finally ...

 So the one that I am not backing, mainly just due to not getting as much for the cost, Guildball does look interesting and they have funded. 

Dreadball Xtreme is the clear frontrunner, they seemed to just automatically fund to several hundred thousand and could easily crack the 1 million dollar mark knowing how popular mantics offerings tend to be. I think Slaughterball and Guildball are going to struggle by comparison, which is sad because I'd love to see more games like these. 

I hope they do succeed because I think a good, very clean, fast playing Blood-Bowl-esq game could be really awesome. If the design has enough fun and doesn't boil down to too much random or just a total chess game. So we'll see ... right now I'm backing 2 of 3 and I'll likely drop one if not potentially both ... just depending on how the projects develop. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge Post 25 -- Longest Running RPG I've been involved with.

A years long D&D campaign is sort of like a marathon in the snow, but up hill both ways.

Well.  I have honestly been in far more 3-5 shot campaigns than not.  In fact I believe there is a "law of RPGs" that is something along the lines of never plan for more than 12 sessions.  In the span of 12 sessions there is always some sort of life changing event that occurs if you have say a five player group and a DM.  Someone's girlfriend/boyfriend has a work schedule change, one of the players or the DM has a work schedule change, a new semester starts with different class schedules, etc.  You get the point.  It seems that over the 20 or so active years I've had as a gamer that every RPG campaign I've been involved in seems to have had a maximum realistic trajectory of 12 sessions.  So as a DM I plan for only 12 sessions to start and then go from there.

So to answer the initial question.  The longest game I every played in was actually the very first a red box basic game.  It lasted about two years technically.  We played in the same home brew campaign setting.  The second longest was about 20 months I think, 2nd ed. D&D.   The longest game I've ever run is actually the one I just wrapped up, which was a mere 30 sessions (ish), Dungeon World.  We might pick up again in the game perhaps next fall.  The players have interest.  The reason the campaign ended was me.  I have some big stuff coming with school and work so I thought it best to have a nice "chapter 2" end point and allow someone else in our group to run a game for awhile.

I have some ambition to possibly run an Iron Kingdoms game over the summer and some one shot fun stuff here and there.  If I fire up a long term DW game again it will probably be next October and then I'd run it through the winter into the late spring probably. 

Say it ain't so ... Egon Spengler is gone.

Really very sad to hear that Harold Ramis passed away yesterday.  Sad news.

Rest in Peace Egon ... rest in peace ... if you don't you might end up in the containment unit.

May it be said you only crossed the streams when you had to!

Man I'm really busted up about this. I dearly loved Ramis, he was a true icon. More as a writer than an actor but those films were really a big part of my childhood. Probably as much as the Raiders or Star Wars films to be honest.


Unrelated, but sort of cool as Harold is interviewed here ... 

Gamer Archetypes according to Dr. Richard Garfield ...

Gamer ADD does it exist?

Having read a really cool article from of all places Vice Magazine with Dr. Richard Garfield the creator of Magic the Gathering (go read the interview it's good) I started thinking about "gamer ADD" that dreaded curse which can afflict a gaming group/club.

One of the interesting points Dr. Garfield brings up is this notion that there are three types of gamers; innovators, honers and champions.

The innovator is someone who tinkers with the rules, enjoys learning what a game can do and then experimenting with those rules in an attempt to innovate. Presumably though at a certain point though these people sort of hit the maximum amount of "innovating" potential and move on to other games.  Garfield's quote in the article that sums this up is "I take pleasure in trying to think outside the box in games," the innovator in a nutshell.  Figuring out how to use the rules differently or make the game play/feel different, etc.  
The honer, hones the rules.  They aren't so much concerned with the innovation part of things but more with complete rules mastery.  They seek to perfect the rules and master the game.  It seems like there is certainly overlap with the innovator, but I see his point that they are not one and the same.

Speaking of being one and the same, the third archetype Garfield lists is the champion can presumably combine both the qualities of the innovator and the honer to learn to both innovate with the rules but also master them.

I'm probably 90% an innovator, 5% honer, 5% champion.  I've had a few flashes of game honing and even combining the two and reaching the champion level with a game.  What I mean by that is back in the day with Warhammer 40K for example, and no I don't mean I just was a champion at tournaments.  I was incessantly reading the rules creating army builder lists, looking at the rules from every angle, practicing the game (playing as many as a dozen full games a week, etc.).  But my general MO is that  I get bored once a game gets to the honing stage and move on to other games.  It isn't that I can't continue to enjoy a game, it is that I need to have new challenges beyond just grinding out that last 10-15% of proficiency with a game.  Some people live for "honing" out that last big of game mastery and that is cool but just not my cup of tea.

This article really gets to the core of what many people see as gamer ADD.  For some people who can't play the same character in an RPG for more than a session, or people who just endlessly bounce from thing to thing ... yes there really is a gamer ADD.  But that is probably more a case of clinical ADD.  For me I do not have that (though if there is a powerful vector ... I can catch the contagion) with games so much, I think if a game is good and well designed it will hold my interest for a reasonable amount of time.  But I usually see pretty quickly if a game is deep enough to allow for some extended "innovation" and if it is it can hold my interest for months or potentially even years.  If the innovation potential is quickly exhausted though and I reach what I perceive as a "grind" ... in order to master this game you need to "practice" ... I'm out.  I don't like to have to do that with games, I just get bored at that stage.  Its is the same regardless of the game, from video games (RTS, MMOs, etc.), mini games, RPGs, or board games when I hit the honing stage I get bored.  

So open ended RPGs where things are really open and up to interpretation (Vincent Baker games are a good example, FATE is another example) tend to hold my interest.  Big mini games with regular releases does as well because the games constantly change but also there are other opportunities for innovation.  Even the elements of modeling, painting and creating terrain become opportunities for innovation.  So those hold my interest as well.

All this got me thinking about my own early involvement with games, particularly around the 5th grade I think, I played chess very frequently, I was pretty good, I'm not claiming I was the next Bobby Fisher or anything though.  I just won almost every game I played.  I was the chess champ of my school, I went to a regional competition and won.  When I hit the state level (Oregon) I got bored, I didn't want to practice and learn historical chess matches, learn individual opponents, etc. So I played in the one state level event way back in the mid 80's and then just quit (I did well actually though from what I recall, somewhere I have a little certificate) and just remember I really disliked it. I always wondered why I did that.  I really don't give up easily on things, I always stuck things out in sports, gods know I do that with academics ... I get obsessed with completing a course, degree, etc.  to such an extent I have two masters degrees, I'm heading into a third one soon and then I will finish out with my PhD.  I get obsessed like that.  I never knew why with games though I didn't seem to have the same attitude.  Well after reading this interview I think I do now understand it.  I like how he put things, a very interesting breakdown of different kinds of ways gamers see games.

Anyway great article it was really an epiphany for me.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge Post 23&24 -- First song and film I associated with D&D

So as a very small child, around age five I was for the first time exposed to the classic (either classic bad or good depending on your perspective) Rankin/Bass/Bakashi films.  I really don't know what order I saw them in

The Rankin/Bass Hobbit animated film was out in 1977 and the Bakashi Lord of the Rings animated film was released in 1978, and then Rankin/Bass did a Return of the King that is I guess sort of related to the first film (obviously it is all Tolkien and the same story, but the animation was different as were many of the voice actors I think) it was released in 1980.  I think it was probably 1979 or 1980 when I saw them for the first time.  I recall watching the Hobbit on my tiny 12 inch black and white TV in my bedroom when it aired on TV (yes I do have a vague recollection of black and white TV sets, rabbit ears and all). 

While it would be several years after that before I first encountered D&D, those films left an indelible mark upon my impressionable young mind.  No matter how bad they are I have strong nostalgia for them and really I am so very glad I encountered them as they made me want to read Tolkien, which believe it or not inspired me to want to read about history.  Those books inspired me to want to read more books, period. I know very odd as they aren't really great children books, I'd probably have been far better off with the Chronicles of Narnia or something.  But in terms of D&D and gaming, there is flat out no way I think I'd have ever really ended up wanting to play D&D.  The only reason I had a chance to play in my first game was because I had read Tolkien, my friends older "cool" middle school brother allowed me to play in his game because I could BS with him about Tolkien.  That lead me down the path of becoming a gamer.  Otherwise I think I'd have just been a sports fan and never been a geek.  Ya ya .. what  curse ... but seriously I cannot imagine how different my life would have been if I would not have encountered these cheesy films.

Now as for music.  I'm sure I could make up some musical connection somewhere else.  But really there is no other song that did not spring to mind first in terms of a connection to D&D.  I recall actually singing this song when we were captured by orcs in our first D&D game (which I'm sure our Tolkien fan, middle school, DM was just wholesale ripping off from the LoTR).

Where there is a whip there is a way ... terrible ... classic ... always has a special place in my heart!

Where there's a whip, there's a way.
Where there's a whip, there's a way.
Where there's a whip...

We don't wanna go to war today
But the Lord of the Lash says: "nay, nay, nay!"
We're gonna march all day, all day, all day!
Where there's a whip there's a way!

Where there's a whip, there's a way!
Left, right, left, right
The crack on the back says we're gonna fight
We're gonna march all day and night and more
For we are the slaves of the Dark Lord's war.

Where there's a whip, there's a way!
We don't wanna go to war today!

We don't wanna go to war today
But the Lord of the Lash says: "nay, nay, nay!"
We're gonna march all day, all day, all day!
Where there's a whip there's a way!
Left, right, left right!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge -- 1st D&D books I ever sold

The first D&D related books I ever read were the endless quest books.  The very first of those I read was the classic Dungeon of Dread  as you can see by the picture there by Rose Estes fantasy author extraordinaire (sarcasm there).  No it isn't Shakespeare but when I was ten this stuff was high adventure!   I owned hundreds of choose your own adventure books and this one was towards the top of my list.  I read this thing ragged.  Somewhere down the basement book vault I still have it I believe (I was too lazy to look for it before doing this post).

Anyway I would be very remiss if I didn't at least mention the Chronicles of Dragonlance as some of the most influential books of my early childhood.  I think I was 11 or 12 when I started reading them and devoured the first I don't know ... what ... 20 or so.  After that things fell of the deep end and I looked to other authors.  Even there though by the time I was in high school I had stopped reading fantasy and sadly haven't really been back.  For a geek who likes fantasy, Warhammer, D&D, etc. I am not very well read.  I guess its not a bad thing as when I hit college I majored in history and read hundreds of history books.  Then I went on to graduate school and started in on anything related to public administration, health care and general management.  

But most of my adult life I've just either been in school working on another degree or during the periods I wasn't in school (and thus experiencing the leisure time reading drought one usually does when they are being required to read metric shit tons ... technical term there) when I did read pulpy adventure stuff it tended to be GW black library stuff.  So to this day I've never read Jordan, Brooks, Eddings, Anthony, Goodkind.  I of course have read the hobbit, the Lord of the Rings and some random stuff by more obscure authors like Raymond E. Feist (who I turned to after my Dragonlance phase had run its course).

2014 Big Gaming project Update: Lizardmen army acquisition phase almost complete!

So I got a package in the mail from my friend in Las Vegas, Will  who I am trading off some sedition wars stuff and some other random WHFB stuff that I don't have a use for but he does.  We basically are just swapping stuff we aren't going to use anytime soon with each other ... lol.  Anyway this pretty much puts the finishing touch on my Lizardmen force.  The only models I really do not have are Kroxigors and I am on the fence about what to do.  I just can't find the GW models, old or new at what I feel is a reasonable price.  I'd like to have about a dozen just because.  Given that, at the best price I could get GW versions for that would be over $100.00 even with a great deal on eBay or something.  So more and more I'm leaning towards going with another range.

Anyway I am really excited about this model I got from Will.  He did some cool conversion work on it.   Hard to make out from my cruddy phone pictures but there is a cool little crown on him. Actually this whole lot is cool because he did all the assembly work, etc. so it is really pretty much ready to be painted (Lord Kroak not withstanding).   Not a single piece of failcast in the lot :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

The front porch is cluttered with packages today!

So FRP games was having a sale on a few things so I picked up my first Malifaux, Kabuki and Scibor minis.  I've been eyeing them for years and never have taken the plunge.  They are all pretty looking.  I just bought them to have, to maybe throw in with other projects.

I picked up the other Cyclades expansion, so I should have everything for the game pretty much now, including the promo stuff.

I also grabbed the Windigo stuff that I've been wanting from Crocodile (Wargods of Aegyptus/Hyperboria). I grabbed the starter group along with the giant awesome abominable snowman o' doom.  He is heavy as hell!

Anyway I was pretty happy that this stuff got here in one piece given the state of the box it arrived in.

More Warhammer Fantasy stuff ... the lizardmen pile grows!

So here is the hard to tell WTF this is pile o' bitz and whatnot.  A friend treked down to Strategicon and managed to pick up a bunch of WHFB stuff at a really good price.  So I snagged a bunch.  What is there is:

  • Skaven Hell Pit Abomination
  • Stegadon
  • Lizardmen Battalion 

When I'm going to get to my Skaven stuff I have no clue, but the Lizardmen are going to be my summer project.  I'm pretty much done with acquisition other than probably about $40-$50 on bitz, perhaps one or two other character models and a couple of big Schleich dinosaurs.  I have a final group of lizardmen coming in the mail from a friend in Las Vegas.  We worked out a trade.  So I'll throw some pictures up of that stuff when it gets in.

I am really looking forward to painting all this stuff up honestly.  I really want to do a bright army for a change.  I've done so many drab, dark, dip armies.  Which I've been happy with but they just all seem to blend together in my mind.  I am no master painter, but just working with some bright colors for a change sounds like fun.

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge -- 1st D&D books I ever sold

So yes.  That image sort of displays how I encountered the newer versions of D&D.  I felt really great about "grid" based D&D early on and then gradually came to really not that great about it.

So as for the question I can honestly say I've never really "sold" any D&D books.  Not some dyed in the wool D&D purist thing, no really they just don't hold their value.  You buy the stuff at a heavy discount on Amazon and as we all know the average RPGer doesn't spend anything on the hobby.  Its the DM who has most of the books and the rest of the people just mooch.  There are always a dedicated one or two players who owns a PHB.  So there just ends up being this glut of extra core books for pretty much every system.  Sure there was a spike with the core 3.5 books there for a brief while they were worth more than their initial MSRP but that was short lived.  Generally the average D&D book is pretty cheap (again not talking obscure/rare modules, etc.) so unlike my constant buying and selling mini gaming stuff on eBay I've pretty much never sold RPG stuff, it just isn't really worth my time and effort to make $3 or $5 bucks and though I'm not living fat like I did back in the six figure days, I'm still not so poor that I am going to spend all the time listing stuff on eBay hauling books to the post office, etc. etc. to make a couple of dollars.  So they've just sat on my shelf.

Books are easy to store as well.  With other hobby stuff like minis, for me anyway I get frustrated with all the stuff taking up space so I try to downsize occasionally.  With all my RPG stuff I have large bookshelves in the basement and they are there expressly to store ... books.  So my wife is never nagging at me to clean it all up, I'm never feeling like I could really do a whole lot more with that area, so I just don't have strong incentive to even pay attention to all that stuff.

Anyway I did give away my 4th edition stuff.  Which I just gave to a friend who was going to give all of his stuff to one of his childhood friends who was a little tight on money but looking to get into the hobby just with his son.  For whatever reason that person (who I don't know and who lives half way across the country) was apparently getting into 4th. ed.  So anyway long story short my friend Scott  gave all of his 4th ed. stuff to him and I chucked my stuff in with his.  I never saw myself ever, ever playing 4th again so it seemed like a no brainer ... help a fellow gamer out with something I was never going to use anyway (and really couldn't sell even if I wanted to ... lol).

Now this isn't a bash 4th ed. piece here, please don't see it that way.  I very much dislike ALL grid based D&D.  I really do not enjoy it.  To me it isn't D&D, it isn't even role playing.  I see grid based RPGs as a bastardized hybrid board game-skirmish wargame-RPG.  Its really a watered down board game, a watered down minis game all combined with a very watered down RPG.  The focus is always going to be on getting into combat really quickly, and then staying there for most of the session.  The mini game side of things is on one hand too tactical for my taste but then again, not really tactical enough.  As for being a board game, I think 3.5/4e would be fine "Descent" emulators.  In fact I sold off all my Descent stuff this last year when I cam to that realization.  So someday perhaps I will use my old Pathfinder shit to run a Descent game, I"ll just pre-gen up some characters for people and run them through railroady dungeons.  That could be fun with my kids I guess.

Overall though I had come to the decision that I really will never go back to the grid, after several different 3.0/3.5/4e/Pathfinder games with several different groups, at conventions, and just from reading blogs, podcasts, and message board posts.  Everyone who was playing at an "optimized" level sounded a hell of a lot like the guys on Bell of Lost Souls running "optimized" warhammer 40K armies.  Its all about the power game, its all about combat and it rarely was about having a good time gaming.  Of course most home game groups were playing 3.5/4e just like we used to play 2nd ed.  Hell half of the groups out there weren't using the grid or minis (which was so laughable to me) and I recall many arguing "you don't even need minis or the grid" which always made me laugh.  Sure you didn't but then you were fudging and hand waiving half the rules ... so why the hell not just go play basic, or any one of the the fine OSR options.

Mind you this was all for me in the pre  Dungeon World days so that was not an option yet.   I never took the plunge with Castles and Crusades or Labyrinth Lord though I own printed copies of both. I have a pretty massive collection of 2nd edition D&D as well.  I never could get anyone to really want to play 2nd.  I just knew that the groups I was playing with wouldn't have wanted to do it.  Most of the groups I've played with have honestly been 3.0era fanboys.  They all started in that era and so they think that is real D&D.  For some that is true, not for me.  Anyway I didn't mean to turn this into a bash any particular version of D&D.  All my ranting aside, I think that if people enjoy grid based RPGing more power to them.  I have enjoyed being a player in 3.5/Pathfinder/4e games.  I will never say never on being a player in a grid based RPG again I just know I wouldn't run one of those types of games.  Thus no need to own any rulesets.  I do still have my Pathfinder books which again I'm holding onto on the off chance I get a wild hair to run a home brew Descent campaign where we just do a series of one shot dungeons.

This post does have me now thinking about all those books though.  I have the better part of all 2nd edition White Wolf stuff.  I really should get rid of all that stuff. Hmmmmm ...