Game Articles

Paranoia XP – Mission – Code Seven Cheap Shot

The following is a one-shot Paranoia mission that I wrote up to run in place of my normal Scion game for the day Scott was in town. It is basically a Zap game (as opposed to Classic or Straight – Classic being what I normally run) and was truly designed to be a Code 7, which is Troubleshooter dispatcher slang for a mission which will cost the Troubleshooters more clones than they have.

Paranoia XP RPG Cover

It would not be too hard to change a couple of things and make it a Straight game however. It isn’t the most amazing mission ever (the last game I ran which involved the TV show Wheel of Traitors and Vanna Bots conducting Unauthorized Turning was possibly more amusing) but feel free to use all or part of it in your own games or just shoot me some feedback about it.

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Scion – Chronical Concept – More Statistics (As Promised)

As usual with this kind of post I will ask my players not to look any further as the following is plot related.

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Carcassonne: The Discovery – Review

Carcassonne: The Discovery

I mentioned yesterday that I picked up two random games for my birthday, this was the other game.

Overview of Carcassonne: The Discovery

Carcassone: The Discovery is, in many ways, your standard Carcassone game with mountains, grasslands, and oceans in place of cities, farmland, and roads. You still draw one piece a turn and play one piece a turn and you still have little followers that you place on different aspects of the board to try to score points. The game is fast moving and can be taught to new players easily. The parts are all sturdy and the rules are fairly clear.

But What if I Haven’t Played a Carcassonne Game Before?

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Catan: Dice Game – Review

Catan Dice Game by Mayfair Games

So today is my birthday, which really only matters because my wife had me grab a couple of random games at the game store as an early birthday present. There were a lot of cool-looking games of course (I love random games, I’m usually willing to try anything) but I wanted something that would be fun and easy and not involve a lot of stress. Here I’ll review the first of two games I picked up.

Catan: Dice Game Basics

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Scion – Chronicle Concept – Explanation of Things Previously Mentioned

The following is yet another post about my Scion game and again it is the kind that my players cannot read. For the rest of you I hope you find it interesting and I welcome any comments about it.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – Skill Challenges

Yes, it’s me, talking about D&D again. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the game but this new edition really has me excited. I wanted to hate it. A friend mentioned that he had it pre-ordered and I scoffed at him. Then another friend mentioned how excited he was and I shook my head. Then I took a look for myself… and shook my head again. I had to admit, it sure looked cool.

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Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition – A Pre – release Perspective From a Long Time Detractor

Dungeons and Dragons Player
Cover of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Player’s Handbook

Most people that know me know that I don’t like D&D. I have played both 2nd and 3rd edition and I have run games for both (sometimes under some amount of protest… from me) but it has never been my favorite game and while I considered the move from 2nd edition to 3rd edition a huge leap forward I still came to dislike the game and find it lacking.

So, why should you care what I think about 4th Edition? Well, simply put, so far I kind of like it.

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Iron Dragon House Rules: “Good” Events

Iron Dragon Board Game Box - Fantasy Rail Building Game

Iron Dragon by Mayfair Games is a board game I was introduced to years ago and haven’t forgotten its fun rail-building, drawing-with-crayons gameplay. Out of print for a little while, Mayfair seems to have solved that problem and recently I picked it up.

Overall the game is a lot of fun, though quite long. My group has tested a few house rules that reduce the playing time considerably, which I’ll also cover. However one facet of the game that stands out as “needs improvement” is the events.

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Scion – Slight Change in Plans (Also Some Statistics)

I must again ask my players not to read this post. I apologize for the lack of posts that they can read lately but this week has been a tad on the busy side and I have not felt well. As always those who can read the post are welcome to comment and make suggestions.

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History of the World – Balance of Power Variant

The so-called Help the Little Guy Variant was essentially a building block for what I am now calling the Balance of Power Variant. I feel that this new Variant, which uses several of the same rules as the old one we tried, works fairly well to do the things we wanted it to do.

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Scion – Opening Gambit

Scion Demigod Cover

I am now reading Scion: Demigod to get a better idea of where the game should be heading. So far it seems like an interesting book although, as many people have already stated, the pre-made characters and adventure do take up a lot of room.

My group had our first Scion game this past Saturday and overall I feel it went fairly well. One of the players is new to our group but seems to fit in quite well and while first sessions are (at least for me) rife with distractions it seemed everyone had a good time.

So far only some small pieces of the story have unfolded. I won’t include any information the players don’t know here (and would also hope no one else would in the comments section) so that they may read this post if they so choose.

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Scion – Chronicle Concept – Locations

One of my flaws as a game master is my description of things. I have had this problem in my writing as well but that’s another story. I tend to rush to the next plot point or piece of dialogue (while we don’t usually call it dialogue in a role playing game it amounts to the same thing) and ignore the mood affecting descriptions of things.

Some of this comes from a desire not to take control of my player’s actions. For example if I say something like, “You approach the house” I am telling them what they are doing. While this is acceptable and is in fact inevitable I have, for some reason, always had issues with it. Thus one of the things I would like to work on is these details.

They say the three rules of advertising are Location, Location, Location and I think to some degree this translates to role playing as well. Give the players an interesting place to explore and you as the storyteller have reduced your burden as they will already be intrigued and involved. I hate to think how many times in the past my players have walked into an abandoned warehouse, for example. I would like to make sure that this doesn’t happen too often in the future.

Because of this I thought it might be good to write down some of the places my players may visit. That way I can have a general description of them to build off of and a place to refer to if I forget exactly what I wanted to do with them. Below are a few of the places that will become important in my Scion game.

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Scion – More Titanspawn Statistics

Expanding on the other post regarding Titanspawn, this post includes a modified version of one of my previous types as well as a new creature that hints at elements not yet mentioned in my overview.

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History of the World House Rules – Help the Little Guy Variant

As I previously mentioned in my Games I Play post our group has some problems with History of the World and yet lately we’ve played it a lot.

One of our problems is that there is too much of a chance of a person in last ending up with the worst Empire because while they get to pick a card to either keep or pass, if they draw a bad one and pass it they often end up with whatever is left over in the end (and that left over Empire could easily be pretty horrible or even the worst of the bunch).

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Scion – Titanspawn Statistics

What follows are some of the NPC statistics and descriptions, including a little bit of plot information, for my Scion game.

Again, if you are in my Scion game please don’t look.

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Scion – Chronicle Concept

What follows is a brief overview of the concept for my Scion campaign. I’m still working on fleshing out the details and would encourage any input. Obviously if you are in my Scion game you probably should not read any further. In other words… no peeking.

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Scion – House Rules

I have been trying to decide exactly what rules I want to change for Scion (it seems almost everyone feels that some rules need to be changed) so I have been tracking down places on the net that have information about different rules. I’m going to try to keep this post up to date and add the rules that our group ends up using. For now I am going to post the rules I plan to change and places that people can find information about what other groups have changed.

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Three-Dragon Ante – Games I Play

Three Dragon Ante – Game Overview

Three-Dragon Ante Box

Three-Dragon Ante is a simple non-collectible card game produced by Wizards of the Coast. At its core it is meant to be a poker-like gambling game that should feel like something a group of adventurers would play while sitting around the local tavern just after returning from an adventure.

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A Not So Innovative Look at Innovation

Innovation:
1: The introduction of something new.
2: A new idea, method, or device.

You want to know how great my wife is? For my birthday last year she hunted down a Wii for me. This was no small feat on several levels as she not only had to find one but she also needed to drum up money from my friends to be able to afford it (well, the Wii itself isn’t too bad but she knew I would want four controllers and that starts to get pretty pricey).

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What Veronica Mars Taught Me About Role Playing, or How to Use TV Series as Chronicle Archetypes

I began my role playing career by running games. To this day I find running games more enjoyable than playing in them (partly because I am very easily distracted and find that I am not the best player in the world because of this) and thus have run far more games than games in which I’ve played.

My game mastering style has changed a lot over the years and recently has gone through another major change. I’ve discovered TV is at the heart of the change.

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History of the World – Games I Play

History of the World – Game Overview

History of the World Game Box

History of the World is an Avalon Hill war game for up to six players. History of the World was originally published in 1991 while the most recent version came out in 2001. Players play through seven epochs, playing different civilizations (“empires”) each time.

The goal is to expand your influence across the map and then hope it sticks. Points are calculated for a player immediately after that player takes their turn and the number of units a player gets is not based on previous accomplishments (but rather is a static number associated with the empire that you are playing for that turn) which gives History of the World a very different feel than many other war-related board games.

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TinyWarz and Browser Game Design

TinyWarz 2.0 has launched, and I took a spin in this turn-based strategy browser game to see what it is all about. What I brought back are first impressions of the game, along with thoughts on the design and the browser games industry.

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Scion RPG First Impressions: Late to the party but I brought Pizzerias!

For those that don’t remember Pizzerias were a Doritos-like chip that were way better than Doritos. In other words, if someone actually brought them, that person should be excused for being late.

Yes that’s right, I’m late. Scion has been out for a good long while now and the follow up books to Scion: Hero (which is what this review is actually about) Scion: Demigod and Scion: God are already out as well. Perhaps if this was a review of Scion: God it would feel a bit less dated but since I have not read that book and I am writing about the game concept as I see it as a whole this will have to do. Now, I haven’t played a session of the game yet so this isn’t exactly a “review” per se but rather a collection of initial impressions. Most importantly I wanted to make statements as to what I think Scion is and what it is not and give you an idea of whether or not to look into the game further.

Scion RPG Overview

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Best Party Games, or How to Party Like a Gamer

So the past few weeks have been pretty stressful for me with work being a bear and the Holidays creeping up. I’m still playing Magic of course and for the most part that has been going well but I thought it might be nice to take this blog in a different direction for a change. (If it’s a different direction… it probably has to be a change.)

Last week I hung out with a couple of friends on Saturday. This happens almost every Saturday but on this occasion there was a slightly different mix of people and one friend in particular was not so big on playing complicated “gamer” type games. We ended up playing several party-ish games that I had lying around and that got me thinking about games that tend to be fun for my non-gamer friends but are still tolerated by my more hardcore friends. And so, as I mentioned above the holidays are coming up and a lot of people will be having parties, throwing parties or seeing family and I thought it might be good to write briefly about the more party-oriented games that I play.

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Through and Through with Blue: Lorwyn Draft Walkthrough

I was one of the lucky people that got Veteran’s Day Observed off as a holiday so I took some time to play a Magic draft and take enough notes to write up a walkthrough (I think I need to find an easier way to do this if I am going do it more often… typing all the cards out was a real pain in the butt). I hope that the result has enough detail to be interesting and useful.

Pack One

First Pick: Sentinels of Glen Elendra

Magic Lorwyn draft walkthrough first pick

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Werewolf: This Story is True…

I hit a bit of a quandary in my Werewolf game when it came time for the players to get a totem. I didn’t like the idea of forcing them to stumble around until they liked a spirit of my creation enough to make it their totem, but I also wasn’t sure I liked the idea of not role-playing the rather important event of finding and claiming one.

Since the group was new it seemed prudent to allow them to build their totem and then make the finding of the totem into more of a shared story than an actual role-playing session.

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Limited Impressions: How to Avoid Blue and Influence People

So it has been just over a week since Lorwyn made its way to the online Magic world. I am almost exclusively an online player so I have really gotten my first in-depth taste of Lorwyn in a competitive environment, and so far it seems decent. Maybe a few too many bombs, maybe one too many sick combos, or maybe I am still a noob.

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Jyhad/Vampire: the Eternal Struggle Deckbuilding Tips – The Crypt

Jyhad may be an old game, but it’s still one of the best multiplayer trading card games out there. I’m going to run down some basic deckbuilding tips for those seeking to start tuning their decks. This article focuses on tuning your crypt.

Being an old game you might think that new players are rare. Yet I was recently given a box of Jyhad boosters as a gift (now that’s a rare find!) and had the opportunity to introduce my gaming group to the game of predator-prey that is Jyhad.

Jyhad and V:tES card backs

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Rocketville Review

Rocketville is an Avalon Hill game by Richard Garfield.

What follows is a modified and updated version of a review I wrote for Board Game Geek back in March of last year. The review aims to tell the reader what type of game they are dealing with and does not get into the details of how the game plays. For information of that sort see Avalon Hill as they have a detailed and accurate description of the basic play of the game. I know this is a bit non-topical since the game came out a while ago but as you can often pick up Rocketville for a very reasonable price perhaps this review will convince some of you to give it a try (or show others of you that even for a very low price, this is not the game for you.)

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Werewolf Campaign Outline

This is the basic outline for my first Werewolf: The Forsaken campaign. The basic plot outline mirrors the demo adventure that can be found on the White Wolf web site in a few aspects as I used it so that I could steal a couple of encounters (for example the glass spirits that appear at the beginning of that adventure also appeared at the beginning of mine). The basic plot of my campaign begins with Roostam Petrov a Russian immigrant and leader of the most powerful pack in Orlando, FL putting together a pack of forsaken and placing them in a position to hold the small town of Hica Kitisci. Some members of the pack are familiar with the area but others are not (at a later point I may well put up a post that speaks to more of the specifics of the way things are panning out). Mostly the below information is meant to be an outline of the area. The Rail Man is the main adversary for the first campaign while Butcher of Angels may become a major antagonist as well depending on the actions of the players.

Again this is just a basic outline. I wrote it before the game even began and personally I am a firm believer in allowing the players to tell the story. I like to give them some options and I try to give them side plots and personal mysteries. Also there are a number of minor characters that are not listed here I can include them in future posts if people are interested. Statistics are also hopefully on the way!

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Time for a Little Big Deck Magic

So what does one do when one is the only person in a group of friends that has magic cards but that person wishes to play some magic with his friends? Why that person makes up a way to play and then writes an article about it!

So you have probably at one time or another played some form of Big Deck Magic. There are so many variants out there these days that the term “Big Deck” has lost almost all meaning. The way we use to play was to have one deck in the middle, everyone draws seven cards, and then can play a spell as a basic land that produces the same color of mana as the spell.

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Dragon Dice Spell Cards

Printable Dragon Dice Spell Cards

Printable spell cards for Dragon Dice in PDF format. A great way to keep track of all spells with lasting effects on the battlefield.

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A Tangential Story About the Lorwyn Pre-Release

First of all I would like to say I like this set. Lorwyn seems to have a lot to offer the kinds of Magic environments that I enjoy, namely casual and limited. Anytime you see me talking about Magic I would recommend you keep that in mind. For example I disliked Ravnica because in casual multi player games there were too many insane bombs and quite frankly the same held true for limited as well. I also felt that while needing to play three colors sometimes made drafting interesting it also meant that if you didn’t get any fixing, and never had any option to pick fixing, you may well be out of luck and there was of course more opportunity for mana/land screw. Welcome to my first tangent…

What I really wanted to write about was Lorwyn and my experience with it at the pre release. I managed to go 4 – 0 in the single flight I played in and didn’t even lose a game. I am however mostly a casual player that drafts a couple times a week online so I’m not a pro by any standards. On the other hand I must admit I am an avid spoiler reader. I pop around checking out what is coming long before the lists are complete and this tends to be what gets me excited about the pre release. For all of their rhetoric to the contrary I suspect our friends at Wizards know this as well and secretly do not hate the spoiler sites. I guess this could be tangent number two…

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Shadowrun 3rd Edition Character Sheet

Shadowrun 3rd Edition Character Sheet
Download Shadowrun 3rd Edition Character Sheet

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How to Succeed at a Magic the Gathering Pre-release

With Lorwyn days away, friends are asking me how they should prepare for the pre-release tournament of this new Magic expansion. The answer is essentially the same as for any other expansion set, and I’ll cover the bases for everyone looking to get the most out of the experience.

First of all tournament newbies often ask when to show up and what to expect. The details vary a bit by location, and the best way to find out is to check with your nearest tournament organizer. What I can tell you about is the tournament itself.

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Role Playing Game to Movie Matchups

Pen and paper RPGs have always had a strong relationship with movies. Play in some games (and with some gamemasters) tends to embody a heightened cinematic style. Most role playing games are influenced by at least a few cult movies, and some even state their influences openly. Then of course players often draw heavily on characters in books and movies for their own in-game persona, or when visualizing specific scenes.

One of the best uses of these rpg-to-movie tie-ins is to quickly communicate the style of a game to a new, or prospective, player. Relating a game to movies that share its themes can give the player an instant feel for what the world can be like, and immediately conjure images of cool characters and scenes that they will enjoy reenacting or using for inspiration.

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Magic: the Gathering Deckbuilding Tips

Here are some useful deckbuilding tips for novices I’ve learned over the years, generally applicable strategies for most any deck design, though some of these tips are slanted toward multiplayer Magic.

Creatures

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Wreckage Game Review and House Rules

Wreckage Board Game

Wreckage by Fantasy Flight Games takes place on post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style desert highways. The art and design of the cards and game pieces are superb, readily setting the stage for car combat mayhem despite the game’s threadbare story.

Playing the game with my group did not, however, unlock the fun that its impressive-looking components suggested. Rather it revealed another case of style over substance. Yet it feels like there is some potential within this game, unrealized by the rules, waiting to be released.

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