Montag, 26. März 2012

Switching to German

That's about it. Nothing to add here, this blog will continue in German.

An meine (imaginären) deutschsprachigen Leser: ich habe dieses Blog eröffnet, in der Hoffnung möglichst viele Menschen anzusprechen. Letztlich ist dies bei der Fülle an Blogs aber nicht von Bedeutung, wichtiger ist mir persönlich mittlerweile, die deutschsprachige Szene zu stärken, der ich mich doch, trotz der Exkurse in englische Blogs und Foren, angehörig fühle. Aus diesem Grunde möchte ich alle meine Inhalte künftig auf deutsch vortragen, da nicht jeder des Englischen im selben Maße mächtig ist. Bei den oftmals doch sehr kuriosen Dingen die ich ausgrabe, hoffe ich für die deutschsprachige Hobbyszene einen größeren Mehrwert zu liefern, als für die ohnehin übersättigte englische.

Vielen Dank!

Dienstag, 13. März 2012

Super Quick Review: John Carter

You could make a drinking game out of any time John awakes out of unconsciousness in another place. Apart from that, a fun, solid Sci-Fi film. Doesn't live up to the books, though.

New Stuff! #2

With some delay, my complete order of Earthdawn books arrived directly from Mongoose. These are all I got, all that were interesting to me. Again, as you can see, they are beautiful and each of them cost me a mere 10 quid. You just can't go wrong here.

Next: the Arcanis RPG by Paradigm Concepts. I haven't heard of the game before when I picked up the Quick Start rules on Free RPG Day 2011, even though I knew that there was the Arcanis living d20 setting back in the days of 3E. This is the standalone game-system successor to it. The combat mechanisms and the setting (using the premise of a pseudo-ancient rather than a pseudo-medieval fantasy world) got me hooked, but the price tag of 50USD was a bit too steep for me back then. Some months later, reading about the game and thinking it through, I went on a wild price hunt through all of my usual channels and finally was able to get it for about 40 Euro including shipping. The book itself is beautiful, though sadly they didn't use coated paper as in the Quick Start Rules (a cost factor I guess, as the book isn't too densely illustrated, yet in full colour).

On my hunt for a "cheap" copy of the Arcanis RPG I was skimming through Paradigm Concept's back catalogue and found "Witch Hunter - The Invisible World"–a must-have for a fan of Solomon Kane like me. What struck me as refreshingly different is how many adventures there are for the game. Paradigm Concepts didn't focus so much on setting information but on actual stuff to play here, a big plus in my book. I have yet to read it, but the system doesn't seem to do anything new and that's a shame, because I am eagerly searching for an alternative to the Solomon Kane RPG.

And here you can compare the German Revised Gentlemen's Edition to the regular English Deluxe Edition of Savage Worlds. I like both of them for different reasons. First, the price: while being smaller in size than the Deluxe Edition, the German Revised Edition costs up to 15 Euro more. Everything is more expensive here and print runs are smaller of course. The format is a matter of taste: do you want to have a smaller, but thicker book or a bigger and thinner one? I can't decide, but while I love small rulebooks, the German Edition's a bit too thick for my taste. Content-wise the German Revised Edition is actually more up-to-date than the Deluxe Edition, as they have also integrated some of the errata, plus, there seem to be additional extras in the German Revised. Visually, I found both covers great, but the German one shows bigger craftsmanship (hey, I'm a designer, remember?). Also, the companion volumes just look better next to the Revised than to the Deluxe Edition, as the German ones are of the same size and hardcovers too. I think it all comes down to one question: do you wish to play it in German or in English, because both books are great and Savage Worlds is still–and rightfully–going strong.

Okay, I think I can tell you now: I've grown to actually like Lulu (I was close to write that I, you know, love them). There's always some sort of discount you can use on a purchase and their customer service is excellent. One time, I've messed up a coupon, opened a ticket for that issue and got another coupon, but this one actually gave me a discount of 90% on my order–what's not to like? The overall quality of the books is good for digital printing, it's not particularly great, but there are games I used a lot and they still hold up well. Lulu is great for small-press role-playing games and for someone like me, who still prefers printed matter over PDFs, a real option. In this case I've ordered both a hardback and softcover version of Crypts & Things, the new game by Newt Newport (of OpenQuest-fame). C&T is a Swords & Wizardry variant (itself being a very close cousin to OD&D) with focus on Swords & Sorcery fantasy. I like it a great deal, though I found the layout a bit too simple, because when you have a cover by Jon Hodgson, you're being wowed first and let down afterwards. I won't dig too much into it here, not before I have played the game. But there are lots of things to like and some that just bug me. Still though, this is the cost-efficient alternative to the upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

Here's the thing: I really dig the new-ish Lone Wolf Multiplayer Game Books by Mongoose. Yet, the setting books, while insightful and packed with information on Magnamund, are just dull endless wastes of text. So the day I found out that there was a Magnamund Companion from back when the original game books where made in the 80ies, I had to get it. Now that it is here, it's all I hoped it would be: 100% UK role-playing glory. Of course, the informations in the book can only cover so much that fits between its covers, but how they are presented (thanks Gary Chalk!) just really sucks you in. If you like Magnamund, this is the definite Magnum Opus on it. Note that there was a US edition of this book that has a cover more in line with their releases of the game books (only a matter of taste really).

A work of art. And it cost me only 35€ new from Amazon. Tears of joy are shed this very moment.

Here we have a game I have waited for a long time. In fact, I waited so long for it to be released, that I completely forgot about it, so that it now–almost three years after it's release–only accidently came to my attention at my FLGS. Space Gothic is a German Horror Sci-Fi RPG from the early nineties, it's not Hard-Sci-Fi, but not far from it either and sometime in the early to mid-2000s a re-release was announced that totally got me hooked on it (again). I have yet to dig deeper into it, the changes that were made–if any–but it's great to see this game revived, as there are many German systems out there that otherwise might be forgotten about. Thumbs up for the publisher Ulisses!

Mutant Epoch, a gonzo post-apocalyptic role-playing game by illustrator-autheur William McAusland, just hits the right spots for my gaming style. It's old school yet inventive, there are charts, mutations and a lot of crazy shit going on. Plus, it probably has the highest illustrations-per-page-ratio of any RPG ever. Rad. Must buy for any fan of Gamma World or Mutant Future.

Phew. This is by far the best introductional boxed set for any RPG ever released. It weighs almost as much as a boardgame, has two glossy, full-colour softcover books inside. Cardboard heroes in any race/class/gender (!) combination available, dice, maps and then some. This box does so much right it's hard not be impressed. The production values are top-notch. The price, while a bit higher than for example D&D 4E's red box, is a true bargain. The whole thing is laid out, so that you only get to the information you need, taking you from your starting point (player, game master, game master without group, etc.) and bringing you into play in no time. The pre-generated characters are folded out, with the character sheet being in the middle and all relevant information (checks, skills, etc.) printed to the left and right. If you want somebody to get into RPGs, this is the way to go.

Now: boardgames. I played the heck out of the (pitch perfect) Neuroshima Hex! iPhone app, but being a tabletop player through and through, I finally bought the boardgame too. There's not a lot to be said here. Simple rules, mutants, hexes and super-solid gameplay that will make your brains cry, especially with four players. 'Nuff said.

Another fine wargame-y boardgame with hexes. This is a Fantasy Flight Games re-release of a game previously from Avalon Hill. Sadly, the miniatures are not transluscent like in the Avalon Hill version–which added lot to the flair of the game–but it's great nonetheless.

Eminent Domain is a game that makes me happy that there's the internet. Because without crowd-funding through Kickstarter, the initial print run would not have been possible. I have yet to play it, but heard only good things about it. As a side note, I dig the art direction on this game very much.

A costy, small expension it is, but I just plain love Quarriors.

Yeah, I got it. It is the fantasy game right now, got raving reviews all over the webernets and I will finally play it next week, so fingers crossed it is as marvellous as everybody says (it better is at that hefty price tag–sheesh!).

Sonntag, 26. Februar 2012

Classics in Blogging: "20 quick questions for your campaign setting" by Jeff Rients

I love Jeff's blog, his style of game mastering reminds me so very much of mine and his output oozes creativity. Take this questionnaire he made every GM should answer for his campaign setting as an example–pure genius.

Donnerstag, 23. Februar 2012

New stuff! #1

Yay, I received some new stuff in the mail these days! To tell the truth though, I got more stuff than is shown here, but it's honestly nothing to brag about. Here are some of the highlights:

Let's start with RPGs first, as I've been talking way too much about boardgames in the last posts. Lately, Mongoose had this brilliant Earthdawn 3E sale, where all of the core books went for 9,99 quid each. Now that's a fucking bargain! And though I never was much of an Earthdawn player–not that I wasn't curious about it–this was my chance to get to know it better. I bought all of the core rulebooks, the Player's and Gamemaster's Guide, both Companions, a City book and a book about the main races of Barsaive. Of no interest to me were the fluffy setting books and adventures, though I have to admit that the books on Cathay caught my interest. To do these books justice I might have to write a proper review or something, but let me say this right away: they are bloody gorgeous. Beautifully constructed greyscale interiour design and layout, good use of fonts, but not overdone and vividly (and digitally) painted covers. Real eye-catchers, gotta love them!

In my ongoing hunt for bargains I finally was able to attain a new copy of the Dragon Warriors reprints. Sadly, this was the 2nd printing, which uses some bad digital Photoshop effects on the title fonts over the crisp yellow of the logo in the 1st one. I know, it's a small thing for some, but bad Photoshop effects are a no-go for me. As an owner of all the Corgi paperbacks and even the Dragon Warriors slipcase edition (holds the first three books), I must admit that Magnum Opus did a great job with bringing the game back, so nothing to object here!

What can I say? This is something I was searching for a long time, but only now could I get my hands on it: the Limited Edition of the RuneQuest 2 rulebook. Isn't it a thing of beauty? I'm a huge RuneQuest-fan, even though RQ2 is not my preferred iteration of the game. Yet, holding this book in my hands, I can totally see me running the game in its purest form again. Huzzah!

Next: boardgames. I'm a sucker for greek mythology and Cyclades got some raving reviews all over the web, so naturally I had to buy it. Can't wait to try it out, 'cause if it's nearly as good as its reviews suggest, I'm in for one heroic ride, as the artwork and production values are more than just top-notch.
BTW: Games like Cyclades make me realise over and over again that it was a wise idea to buy 200 zip-locks from Hong Kong in late 2011.

Love the series and–as it seems, with deck building card games being the craze right now–it perfectly emulates just that for your table.

Tanto Cuore is the odd one out in this list. I was big into Manga and Anime once ("before it was cool"), so from time to time things out of Japan scratch the right itch for me. Like many games these days, Tanto Cuore is yet another DBCG. For one, the novelty here is that it is Japanese-themed, and secondly, it has a very different premise than most of the other DBCGs on the market, being all about gathering and maintaining maids for your manor. Yup, it is the classic Japanese fetish. Thinking about it, this game is definitely up there begging for a review.

Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2012

Impressions: Thunderstone

You know, when people keep telling me how Thunderstone is similar to Dominion I usually say "So?". I have played Dominion once and one thing I can tell from playing Thunderstone: it is not the same game. There are similarities of course, things that are better, some that are worse, but to tell you the truth, I like Thunderstone a fair bit more.

For one, I think Thunderstone out-tops Dominion's artwork by far. It is dark, moody, just so unlike many of the newer fantasy-themed games out there. Alderac did an outstanding job here, for it stands perfectly on its own in a world where fantasy boardgames tend to be bright and colourful and desperately screaming for the potential customer's attention. Don't get me wrong, Thunderstone has quite the colourful presentation, but in nuances that is. There are shades of vicious greens, mystic purples and rusty reds that contemplate the scenario, surrounded by all-encompassing blackness. It perfectly evokes the undying darkness, the descent into the unknown. Sometimes I'm reminded of the grittiness that British games like HeroQuest brought to the table–and that's a definite plus in my book.

That brings me to the game's mechanics: even though it takes some liberties from the classic RPG-to-boardgame translation, it sticks to the right core ingredients. Darkness, gold, experience, heroes. All these are part of Thunderstone's resource management. If you wish to descend into the dark, better bring some light into your deck, if you wish to kill some monsters, don't forget to get fighters and weapons. Creatures that are only harmed by magical damage? Get clerics and magical artefacts. The more victory points you've gathered by the moment the Thunderstone card is revealed at the bottom of the monsters deck, the better. And I can tell you, that on your way you have to ask yourself some substantial questions. By slowly building a deck of cards to randomly pick 6 from each round, you are constantly chasing the right direction. What does the game demand? There are three tough monsters out there, one of them hasn't been slayed for rounds now because nobody has sufficient magical damage. Will you be the one to build the magical damage needed and if so, what other aspects of the upcoming cards are you missing on? To some degree, there is luck involved through the shuffling of the deck, but apart from that, the decisions you make carry the game. And that's just delightful.

Thunderstone is a game I can heartily recommend to any fan of dungeon-delving fantasy. It is playing at a furiously fast pace and if there is one big flaw, it would be that there is no direct player interaction happening in the game. No hindering, no p2p combat, just a competetive race for success. But that is something that can be forgiven in my eyes, since in Thunderstone you just don't have the time to think too much about such things.

Dienstag, 7. Februar 2012

Descent: Journeys in the Dark

I really want to love this game, but it takes WAY too long for a conventional dungeoncrawler. It's tiring me out as the Overlord to sit there for 4 hours just for the introductional scenario. How can a game of this genre, so far away from the depth of WarhammerQuest, take so long?
While I'm not too fond of the Art Direction (way too cartoony for my taste) and that the game's box is way beyond huge, I really like its underlying mechanics. It's a cool workable system, so I hope that its 2nd edition will do some good for it. As it seems, the box will be smaller and telling from the new dice, there will be some changes to the system, too. Count me interested.

For now, I will try my hands on Thunderstone–a game that's much applauded in the boardgame community. I bought it rather cheap on Amazon, although card game mechanics are usually a real turn-off for me. After trying it out on Saturday, I will write my experiences with the game down.