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.

Opened recently in Brooklyn, New York is the self-described hobby center, Nu Brand Gaming. It’s not a game retailer but rather an independent play space that caters to urban gamers with a shortage of room.

In wood-paneled and carpeted rooms, Nu Brand offers custom game tables, storage lockers, miniature-painting benches, terrain-building tools, and a snack bar. Clearly built with miniature war games in mind, Nu Brand also hopes to be a venue for board and roleplaying game gatherings.

Access can be purchased on an hourly basis ($3 for the first hour plus $2 for each additional hour per person) or as a monthly membership ($30, or $35 with locker space).

Nu Brand Gaming

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesDice Monkey is giving away two Dungeons & Dragons Starter Sets.

Grabbing attention for its Dead Man’s Draw Kickstarter project, Mayday Games is giving away multiple copies of the game, Amazon gift cards, and STEAM wallet gift cards.

Intelligent Domestications is giving away one of anything from Winning Moves.

Enter at Scooter Traffic for a chance to win $100 in HABA toys.

Imoni Joy is giving away the Rollors outdoor game.

Like PartyBell on Facebook for a chance to win a Super Mario Chess set.

Pawsitive Living is giving away two copies of Roll For It from Calliope Games.

The winner of a raffle by The League of Gamemakers will have the choice of three board game bundles.

And for Canadian residents only, Maple Leaf Mommy is giving away a prize package that includes Peanut Butter Cheerios and a variety of board games.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesNearly 20,000 products are 25% off in DriveThruRPG’s Christmas in July Sale.

Take a short survey from Gen Con and maybe win a free pass.

Check your local Barns & Noble. There are some games in the 75% off discount bin.

At Gen Con, Chevee Dodd will be giving away 100 copies of his pirate card game, Me Booty. Just find the guy with the hat and ask for one. He says that Me Booty is based on his earlier game, Scallywags, which was published by Gamewright.

Place an order of at least $50 with Fat Brain Toys and use coupon code “FD-3344″ to get %10 off that order and an emailed coupon for another 10% off October-December.

The price of meeple t-shirts has been reduced to $10 from $16 at MeepleSource.com.

xino.phpLooking for an easy way to trade board games? BoardgameTrades Beta has just opened up, and trading games is as easy as sending a Tweet through Twitter. Direct from their site:

Just Tweet: @boardgametrades #iwant Name of Your Game #yourcountry

The website tracks all wants and offers, and has a search bar. Pretty simple. Pretty straight forward. Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that are the best.

I’ve take some time to search around the site, and it seems a lot of people are already Tweeting! I plan on listing a few of my own games soon, so keep an eye out if you want to help a Pawn trade some games ;)

Second Look—Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.With the arrival in wide retail distribution of the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, Tuesday marked the official launch of the game’s much anticipated fifth edition. Also available to download completely free is a D&D Basic Rules ebook.

The Starter Set box includes a 32 page rulebook, five premade characters, a 64 page adventure, and a set of six polyhedral dice. The rulebook provides limited but fully playable options up through character level five. For example, the book does a good job of covering skill use, combat, and spell-casting but leaves out how to build characters from scratch. The adventure booklet, Lost Mine of Phandelver, features a selection of monster and magic item descriptions, advice for the fledgling dungeon master, a few additional rule tidbits, and a solid storyline that will see characters visit a variety of locations and advance through 5th level.

At a little over 100 pages, the Basic Rules book is spartan (no art) but features additional material to support creating custom characters and advancing them through level twenty.

D&D Starter Set

So what’s the game like? It’s like AD&D, polished with some modern sensibilities, which I think is a very good thing! Sure, there are aspects of this game that I can pick on—the skill list, for example—but overall it does a great job of reviving that classic D&D feel, while smoothing out the rough spots. It’s a game that will be comfortable to old-timers like me, yet also work well for new gamers just learning the ropes.

In game terms, the new version retains such traditional elements as character classes and level progression, while drawing hit point replenishment from the last edition. It revives old-style saving throws and spell levels but simplifies skills with a single proficiency rating and incorporates a bit of story-game style play with rules for deriving inspiration from ideals, flaws, and personality traits.

One of the most interesting new parts of the game has to be the rules for advantage and disadvantage. The idea is that instead of adding up all kinds of modifiers for each combat attack or test of skill, a player rolls two 20-sided dice and takes either the better of the two for advantage, or worse of the two for disadvantage. Multiple factors still only result in one advantage or disadvantage and any number on both sides cancels the two out. It’s an approach that mitigates against extreme results and simplifies the main die-roll mechanic tremendously.

Whether the new Dungeons & Dragons can draw back the many gamers who’ve moved on to competing products in recent years, I can’t predict. However, it’s a quality game that’s certainly earned my consideration and the Starter Set is something I’d easily recommend for new players.

A complimentary copy of the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set was provided for review by Wizards of the Coast.

The One Ring: Rivendell


Cubicle 7 will be starting pre-orders in the next few weeks for Rivendell, a sourcebook for The One Ring. One of the biggest additions to the game is the ability to play as a Ranger, something fans have long been asking for. Though they are included, both Rangers and High Elves are not recommended to be allowed into a brand-new company. Loremaster discretion should be used.

A full preview of Rivendell is up on the Cubicle 7 blog.

Rivendell is 144-page, hardcover, full-colour supplement written by Francesco Nepitello, with additional contributions from Amado Angulo, Shane Ivey, Andrew Kenrick, Marco Maggi, Thomas Morwinsky and James M. Spahn. It is lavishly illustrated by Jon Hodgson, Jan Pospíšil and Jeremy McHugh, with fantastic maps of Eastern Eriador created by Paul Bourne.

SUBSTRATA: Open World Dark Fantasy

Substrata In stores now, SUBSTRATA is an experiment by UDON Entertainment.

Over 80 creators from the world’s leading video game studios contributed and collaborated to create the ultimate dark fantasy game.

SUBSTRATA is a true passion project, where artists were encouraged to forsake conventions, inhibitions, and technological limitations to create something never seen before.

What resulted from this is SUBSTRATA, a book containing heroes, enemies, and landscapes of a hypothetical new game world. While the book isn’t a game in itself, it feels like the perfect place to get some ideas for any fantasy RPG setting.

The book is available from most book and comic stores for $44.95.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesPaizo’s PDF Love Sale has PDFs for selling for 30% off.

For its second blogiversary, Theology of Games is giving away games and other nerdy stuff every day in the month of July.

Get 20% off at Pocket Sports with coupon code “ENDER14″.

To celebrate the sale of Schmovie in Barnes & Noble, Galactic Sneeze invites you to submit a schelfie (a picture with the game on the store shelf). One person who does will get a squid trophy.

Grey Gnome Games is giving away one or more copies each of Neptune and Zogar’s Gaze via Facebook.


ConnectiCon is a large, multi-genre convention held every year in Hartford, CT. Being only 30 minutes away from me, it’s become an annual tradition to attend. Every year the convention seems to get bigger and bigger, spilling over from the Connecticut Convention center into the nearby Marriott and Hilton.

The con used to be mostly an anime one, with little space for much else. Now there’s huge areas for video games, tabletop games, and other awesome events and panels. The special guests each year continue to amaze me.

Of course we’re here to talk tabletop games.

I spent a majority of my first day at ConnectiCon checking out the lay of the land and playing games. I was able to track down Jim Courtney of One Day Games and play Avarice, a prototype he’s been working on for quite some time. In the game you’re trying to snag a briefcase full of intel and make a quick getaway while everyone who doesn’t have the case is out to get you. It’s a faced paced game of back-and-forth with almost rock-paper-scissors mechanic. Only lasting a few minutes each play through, it can easily be setup and played again and again. Jim is currently still tweaking the rules, and doesn’t have an idea of when he’ll bring it to market. I’m hoping we’ll see it sooner rather than later.

phoenixcovenantWhile walking through the dealer room I caught a game being played in the corner of my eye. Further inspection revealed that game to be Phoenix Covenant, a game described as Magic: The Gathering meets Final Fantasy Tactics meets Fire Emblem meets Yu-Gi-Oh. After listening to an overview of the game, I got a chance to sit down and give it a shot. While still in its early phases, the game shows much potential. The crew hope to get a Kickstarter going soon, and will be sending me over a prototype to play and get more familiar with for a full preview.

Once back on the open gaming floor, I headed over to the game library to see if there was anything new from last year (and to see if my own game, ElementaliS, was still there. It was.) and found something that looked rather amazing. Serpent’s Tongue. A buddy of mine behind the table mentioned that the designers were at the con, and pointed me to where they were set up. When I got over there, I was blown away.


Serpent’s Tongue has one of the coolest gaming components I’ve ever seen. A faux-leather bound codex that is central to the game’s mechanic and theme. The game is all about casting spells, and has you translating the language invented for the game to make things happen. Translate the alphabet, pronounce the words correctly, and use your codex to cast spells. The coolest part is that the language invented for the game is a fully functional one, and learning it will greatly help your odds in the game. This is another one I’m expecting on my doorstep soon, so a full review will be coming.

Between playing 2 unpublished prototypes, a handful of other games, and geeking out a bit with other members of the press in the press room, my first day of ConnectiCon went by like a blur. The next day blew by much quicker, as I took my oldest son with me and held a CT Beyblade tournament through the World Beyblade Organization. Toss in a few games of Magic: The Gathering, and checking out cosplayers, and our day was over before we knew it. I’ve now had 2 days to recover, and I’m STILL beat.

While ConnectiCon may not have as much new stuff to see as Toy Fair or PAX East, I’m always able to catch something that I can’t at the other 2 conventions. Add that to the fact that I can sleep in my own bed at the end of the day, and it’s an event that I just can’t miss. I can’t wait until next year.

With that, I leave you a picture of my son with his very first press badge.



Automated City Mapping

CityographerCityographer from Inkwell Ideas is an automatic city mapping tool for fantasy roleplaying games. Based on the demo video, the images it creates aren’t particularly impressive, but what the output lacks in graphics it makes up for in data.

Cityogrpaher doesn’t just create a map, it creates a detailed city database with each building tied to an individual business. Pointing and clicking on a business will tell the user who works there and what products or services they offer at what prices.

Running on Java, so compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux, Cityographer is available in a limited free version, as well as a Pro version that will generate larger cities and allow the importing of custom icons for $32.

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