No Honor Among Thieves

RPGs are role-playing games, where components are usually dice and rulebooks, games are typically open ended, and story and playacting often take a large role.


North Star GamesNorth Star Games is hiring. The company is looking for a Content Marketing Manager and a Customer Service and Shipping Coordinator. The former will run the social media program and company website. The latter will be responsible for distributing samples, demo copies, and replacement parts. Both positions are located in Kensington, Maryland, just up the street from me. Get the job and we can hang out!

Among a few others positions, Asmodee North America is searching for an Organized Play Coordinator to run international Catan tournaments and a Licensing Coordinator for administrative functions related to licensing partners.

Open positions with Panda Game Manufacturing include Web Developer and Prepress Specialist. There are actually two of the latter, one of which requires fluency in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

GTS Distribution needs Account Representatives in Woburn, Massachusetts; Hauppauge, New York; and Jacksonville, Florida. Responsibilities include sales to retailers and representing GTS at industry events.

Paizo has openings for a Webstore Coordinator and a Technology Manager, the former to consider products and deal with suppliers, the latter to manage “internet operations strategy.”

MYMIC needs someone at the Pentagon with a Top Secret clearance to support war games and tabletop exercises.

SAIC needs two people to help with the “execution of analytic games, tabletop exercises, conferences, presentations, and reports,” one a Defense Policy Analyst with a current TS/SCI clearance, the other a part-time Student Intern.

Retail Games

bonus-round-game-cafe

Otherside Games opened a few weeks ago in Edwardsville, Illinois with the usual assortment of games and play space.

Tabletop Game Cafe is soon to open in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus. Despite the name, the business intends to focus on the cafe aspect with games a nice accompaniment to the meal. There’ll be no cover charge or rental fee for games.

Monopolatte in Ottawa is closing. The owner said that despite the restaurant and game-space doing a brisk business, it wasn’t bringing in enough money to pay himself and the employees a living wage.

Drew Lovell and Courtney Hartley are raising funds on Kickstarter with the hope of opening Bonus Round as Chicago’s first board game cafe.

Toy Hub, a High Street toy shop in Dunblane, Scotland, is running weekly Game Clubs in local restaurants.

Zander’s Game House, a game cafe (minus the coffee) in Camarillo, California, is focused on providing a family-friendly venue (so also no alcohol).

A new Toys “R” Us store has opened in Huddersfield, U.K.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesBoardGamePrices.com is giving away Food Chain Magnate from Splotter Spellen.

Mayfair is clearing out some of its back catalog, offering a variety of games 50-70% off. Some of the titles included are: Johari, Whitewater, Age of Industry, and Rocket Jockey.

Quiver is giving away one Card Case (U.S. of EU residents).

Because of a printer mistake there are extra APBA Baseball 1963 basic card sets and the company is selling them for $20.

Victory Point Games is clearing out inventory of discontinued games with discounts of 20%.

PDF products in Troll Lord Games’ Victorious RPG line are 25% off at DriveThruRPG.

Goodman Games’s digital products are also on-sale at 25% off but at Warehouse23.

The Iron Kingdoms roleplaying game from Privateer Press is the subject of a deal at Bundle of Holding.

The Cardboard Republic is giving away The Guardians: Explore from Reihon Games.

Kickstarter Preview—Box of Holding

The Box of Holding from Aaron Cain is a hand-crafted wood carrying case for dice and miniatures—perfect as a gamer gift or self-indulgence. High-end and expensive it is but also beautiful and built with quality.

Inside the box is a caddy with slots for holding dice sets. Underneath the caddy is what Cain calls the mini chamber, a section for storing two or three miniatures protected in foam. Holding the parts together are some very strong magnets. This will definitely not come apart in your bag!

The pieces in my sample fit together perfectly. And Cain has incorporated some extra nice touches beyond the basics. Both underneath the foam in the mini chamber and above it on the underside of the caddy are layers of cushioned rubber for a further measure of protection. The box lid, lined with felt, also serves a dual purpose. Turn it over to use as a dice tray.

Is it weird to say I love how the box smells?

If I had any concern about the Box of Holding, it would actually be that the magnets are VERY strong. You’ll have to get a good grip on the box to open it or to remove the caddy.

If you’re interested in getting one of these beauties, Aaron Cain is running a Box of Holding Kickstarter project for another 22 days. Prices run $150-305, depending on the type of wood chosen.

A complimentary Box of Holding was provided for review by Aaron Cain.

3D Printing Roundup

A number of sources are now offering 3D printing models (STL files) via DriveThruRPG or Wargame Vault.

dragonlock-buildingFat Dragon Games, a company that started with print-and-play paper models, has the Dragonlock line, which includes both monster figures ($5 for five figures) and dungeon terrain ($10-20 per set). The dungeon terrain sets include stone walls, pillars, stairways, natural caverns, and also hazards, traps, and accouterments such as a treasure chest and an altar. Dungeon levels are stackable and sections can be held together with printable clips. Fat Dragon Games, by the way, is also running a Kickstarter for Dragonlock models of above-ground buildings.

Dicey Ventures focuses on Chibi-inspired architectural terrain features in 28 mm scale. Prices range from $8 for the model of a small bubble-like Water Dwelling to $32 for a Fortification Bundle that includes tower, walls, and gate. My favorite is the Arcane Library ($15).

French minis manufacturer Via Ludibunda sells three different building sets: Basic Houses ($28), Specialty Houses ($28), and Drow Architecture ($30). The Basic Houses set includes models for a variety of components (floors, roofs, pillars) that can be mixed and matched to form custom buildings.

dicey-ventures-arcane-library      drow-architecture

Dozens of different monster figure models are available from mz4250 and all for free. Among the more impressive are a Manticore and a Hippogriff. There are also collections for Lycanthropes and Dragons.

Carnivorous Plants ($4) and Leeches ($6) are available from BSG Miniatures.

Rocket Pig Games offers a mix of monster figures, terrain features, and props. Example monsters include a Troglodyte and a Rust Eater ($1.50 for either). In the category of terrain, the company sells models for Marble Columns ($2) and Traps ($3.50). Among the prop models are Cage (50¢), Sundial ($1.50), and Cauldron ($1.50). But the best have to be the ones that combine prop with monster—the Mimics!

Axolite Gaming’s specialty is a system of interlocking tiles, walls, and doors. The company sells science fiction style and fantasy/dungeon style sets ($10 per basic set, $18 per expansion set). Also mini expansions for an inn and bar ($6 each).

rocket-pig-chest-mimic mz4350-dragon-model

Second Look – Storm King’s Thunder

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.When I reviewed Princes of the Apocalypse, I commented that the first half of the book “can almost be used as just a setting book for the Dessarin Valley”. But that didn’t prepare me for what I’d find when opening up Storm King’s Thunder: over a fifth of this 256-page book is devoted to quick looks at an area that makes up the Dessarin Valley, and areas north of Mirabar, south past Daggerford, and as far east as Anauroch. Those “quick looks” are anywhere from a paragraph of few lines to a full page, several with suggested encounters (most centered around the giant activities that drive this book’s campaign). In the section before that, two major locations in the Dessarin Valley are detailed (and one location far to the north). Combine this with Princes of the Apocalypse, and you’ve got a fantastic gazetteer for your campaign. A section of Mike Schley’s Forgotten Realms map is used in that 50+ page setting section.

Your players will be at one of the three locations very early in the campaign, defending the location from attack. However, you’re not just playing your heroes, each player at the table is given an NPC they’re in control of. While the battle rages on, your heroes and these others aren’t necessarily in the same location. The NPC survives? They’ve got some storylines your players can follow up on, things that require your heroes to travel quite some distance to complete – one has your heroes escorting the character to the next town over to meet their boss who then tasks them to safeguard a wagon to a town way the heck far away after which they get an anonymous bundle that directs them to a town even further away in the opposite direction where they’ll get their final reward which is pretty cool indeed.

Storm King’s Thunder seems to have a lot of travelling involved.

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It feels natural to compare Storm King’s Thunder to Princes of the Apocalypse. Both take place in the same general area (although this giant adventure can take heroes far afield from the valley). Both have a preferred story progression while including some free-form events. Both have a large section dedicated to the overall setting, tempting the Dungeon Master to make it her own. However, while Princes is set up assuming the heroes would tackle the elemental cults and temples in a level-appropriate manner, there’s nothing stopping a group of 4th level heroes from stumbling into an area designed for 7th level adventurers, complete with a staircase leading down to a place for 10th level heroes, Storm King’s Thunder has an adventure flowchart designed to avoid just that issue. This isn’t to say there’s a lack of choices for the players.

storm-kings-thunderThe adventure proper begins with a choice of the three locations mentioned earlier. If your heroes head to the major location far to the north, they don’t have the adventuring goodness that’s at the two different major locations in the Dessarin Valley. Likewise, the middle part of the campaign offers to take the heroes to multiple locations, but they only need to go to one to progress to the conclusion. This final act has some branching options as well. In other words, my group playing Storm King’s Thunder will most likely have a wildly different story to tell than your group playing the same campaign.

Storm King’s Thunder forgoes standard XP and leveling, opting to reward the players by completing goals. Each section of the book has a character advancement sidebar, giving direction for when the heroes gain levels. Thus, that middle part of the campaign where the players have multiple paths but only need one to advance the storyline, they all hit 9th level when completing that mission. Less bookkeeping, more adventure, if you ask me.

The cartography is all over the place within this product. However, unlike earlier storyline campaign books, none of the maps are signed, so it’s difficult to tell who did what. You’ve got some things that look more like general fantasy maps instead of something worthy of the word “cartography”. You’ve got small maps that incorporate hand-drawn imagery to stuff that looks like it’s built using basic shapes in Illustrator or thrown together using different terrain packages in Roll20. Then you’ve got the map of Triboar, which looks completely hand-drawn. There are six different cartographers listed in the credits, all with differing styles. This probably won’t bother you, but in my day job as a graphic artist working with book layouts similar to this, it bugs the heck out of me.

The artwork, also with some varying styles, is much more in sync. Those NPCs your heroes could control? There’s eighteen of them with a large range of body sizes, skin color, and ethnicity (if you translate all the fantasy races over to “human”). The collage of images on the cover is impressive – you can see the standalone King Hekaton on the first page of the book and the combined illustration collage before graphic elements were added to it on the second page.

Several tie-ins to this storyline are available and planned, including an Assault of the Giants boardgame from WizKids, Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds ready-made adventures, and more.

A copy of Storm King’s Thunder was provided free for review by Wizards of the Coast.

 

 

2016-national-toy-hall-of-fame-finalists

The National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong National Museum of Play has announced 12 finalists for potential induction in the class of 2016. The finalists are:

  • Bubble Wrap
  • Care Bears
  • Coloring Book
  • Clue
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • Fisher Price Little-People
  • Nerf
  • Pinball
  • Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
  • Swing
  • Transformers
  • Uno

Final selection of inductees will be made by a national advisory committee and the results announced November 10th. Usually 2-3 are chosen. Criteria include:

  • Icon-status—the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered.
  • Longevity—the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations.
  • Discovery—the toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play.
  • Innovation—the toy profoundly changed play or toy design.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesSpend $50 or more at Victory Point Games and get a free copy of Dragon Master, while supplies last.

Everything Board Games is running giveaways for five different games, some though for only a few more hours.

Funagain, again, offers a special Essen preordering service that enables U.S. customers get games that would otherwise only be available in Europe.

A bundle of everything in ebook format from Lamentations of the Flame Princess is available from DriveThruRPG for $169 (that is 33% off priced individually).

Buy one Pokemon card pack, deck, or tin and get the second 40% off in-store only at Toys “R” Us.

The Army Painter is offering a special bundle including one Mega Paint Set, one primer, one anti-shine mat varnish spray, and one Quickshade for $151.

Online, Toys “R” Us has a nice clearance section of games, which includes Loopin’ Louie at 40% off and Star Wars Box Busters at 75% off.

Russ Morrissey is running an alien race design contest for his N.E.W. roleplaying game. The prize is a hardcover copy of N.E.W. The Science Fiction Roleplaying Game.

Get a free set of dice with the purchase of any Adventure Case or Dice Chest from Dog Might Games. Also 20% off all in-stock items.

All DramaScape print-and-play products are 50% off this month.

Subscribe to HarnQuest from Columbia Games and get 50% off all Harn PDF products.

Starting in October, “mini” versions of Hasbro board games will be available for AU$3.50 with the purchase of a Sunday Herald-Sun.

Man vs. Meeple is giving away a choice of game from Renegade Game Studios: Lotus, Clank, or Covert. Watch the video and comment to enter.

A new indie games bundle deal just launched on Bundle of Holding with a starting price of $4.95.

Apt to Game is giving away Scythe from Stonemaier Games (Canadian residents only).

The Giveaway Geek is giving away Mansions of Madness from Fantasy Flight Games.

Essex Mums is giving away Pickin’ Chickens from Drumond Park (U.K. residents).

The Reading Residence is giving away Countdown from Rocket Games (U.K. residents).

Chronicle Books is giving away a package of snacks and three party games: Get to the Point Poker, Listography: The Game, and Guilty as Charged.

Chic Geek Diary is giving away Googly Eyes from University Games.

Quillable is giving away a choice of two games, plus coloring books from Raincoast Books (Canadian residents).

Hasbro Gaming LabHasbro has launched its third game design challenge, this time with a focus on family games and a celebrity judge, Daymond John, founder of FUBU and one of the investors on the television show, Shark Tank. Interesting choice considering how poorly board game pitches usually do on such shows.

In any case, again, five finalists chosen by Hasbro will pitch their designs to the public with crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo. And again the ultimate winner will receive $25,000 and a trip to Hasbro headquarters.

The first challenge focused on party games and picked The Mister Toast Card Game as the winner. The second, which asked for games that would also be of interest to game enthusiasts, awarded Hex Casters the top prize. This time, the Family Face-to-Face Game Challenge will judge submissions on the following criteria:

  • 34%: Gameplay for All (cross-generational gameplay that’s easy to get and easy to get into)
  • 33%: Theme (excellent content, narrative, and conceptual visuals to match)
  • 33%: Viability and Potential for Success (ability to be created and delivered to gamers, potential to appeal to all levels of players, likelihood to be the next hit game)

Entries are due by October 23rd.

fantasy-flight-gamesgamesworkshoplogo.jpgGames Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games have terminated their license agreement. According to an announcement by FFG, the company will end sales of all products based on GW properties—Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40,000, and Talisman—as of the end of February, 2017. All previously-announced products, however, will be delivered before that date. That includes a couple of Talisman and Warhammer 40,000: Conquest expansions.

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