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What you should do in 2016

January 1, 2016

Follow these people on Twitter: @saladinahmed, @andrewducker, @tcarmody, @joannechocolat, @beatonna, @paullicino

Buy better quality meat and less of it. It’s better for you, the environment, the animals, and it’ll taste better.

Grow something.

Hand write a letter to someone. (Bonus: you can talk about “keeping up with your correspondence”.)

Make your bed every morning.

Play more games. Good, modern board games. If you’re not sure where to start try Tabletop or Rahdo, or check out SU&SD. (Or just pick up Ticket to Ride or King of Tokyo and take it from there.)

Moan less and laugh more.

Look up nearby tourist attractions. There’s almost certainly an obscure museum, park, or gallery on your doorstep you’ve always ignored or never knew about. Visit it.

Give things away

Drive a little slower. The time saved by speeding on your commute to work is negligible but it’s costing you money and stressing you out.

Buy a book from an independent bookstore.

Pay for something you get for free. You almost certainly use Wikipedia, pay the $3 when they ask, if you read a webcomic or follow a YouTube channel back the creater on Patreon.

And, most important of all: be kind. If we’re not kind to each other then we’re all fucked.

The Sixth Tribe

April 24, 2015

The first expansion for Five Tribes (Tabletop ep here) has been announced: The Artisans of Naqala. The artisans:

Represented by purple Meeples, the Artisans add a new layer of strategy in Five Tribes. With their help, players will be able to have precious or magic items crafted. Some of them are worth Victory Points, while others unlock special powers.

Although my copy of Five Tribes is criminally underplayed I had been thinking a lot about what the Sixth Tribe’s power might be. When you have such a well-balanced game you have to playtest the hell out of adding new mechanics but I’d been thinking about:

Thieves

For each thief you take that many coins/points from each other player. Pretty simple, thieves are thematically appropriate, it’s a bit aggressive (though you can already assassinate other player’s meeples so I guess it’s not a drastic shift). It’s more powerful the more players there are, you might need to balance it with a bonus from the bank with lower player counts.

Smugglers

For each smuggler draw that many cards from the top of the market draw pile, keep one, replace the rest. Maybe score some coin too? If it’s just a single card that feels a little underpowered.

Sorcerors

Introduces a sandstorm marker: if playing with Sorcerors at the beginning of the game a randomly selected tile is hit by the sandstorm, that tile it impassable, you can neither pick up nor place meeples from/on that tile and at game end and it is worth no points if someone has claimed it. For each sorceror you may move the sandstorm to a tile that distance from its current tile (similar to the assassination distance rule). As a variation it could be identical to the assassination distance rule in that it’s from the activated tile. An additional variation could be to ‘scatter’ any meeples on the tile hit by the sandstorm, they’re moved to adjacent tiles (you wouldn’t then be able to claim that tile).

Nomads

For each nomad you may exchange the places of that many meeples on adjacent tiles (so for the simplest example, in the case of two nomads you can swap the places of two meeples on adjacent tiles). I have a feeling this could cause serious AP but equally I think additional placement manipulation is a neat power. Not sure if Nomads makes sense as a name but I couldn’t really think of anything better!

What is a Roleplaying Game?

March 30, 2015

Outstanding. The text reads:

The GM describes the scene for the other players and adjudicates the results of their actions, often by throwing some dice. So, it goes something like this:

Player: I open the door into the next room.

GM: You see an orc armed with a battleaxe guarding a chest.

Player: I enter into a frank and meaningful dialogue with the orc, validating his right to guard chests but not pigeon-holing him into a stereotype, in the hopes of restructuring the traditional adventurer/monster antagonistic relationship into something more positive and mutually beneficial.

GM: Roll 1d20 against your Charisma skill.

Player: I succeed.

GM: The orc is moved by your rhetoric. Casting his battle-axe aside, he sits down on the chest and invites you to join him in a brain-storming session about ways to revitalise the decaying subterranean infrastructure and society of the dungeon, perhaps with a —

Player: While he is distracted, I stab him with my sword.

Dead of Winter

February 19, 2015

Watching this now: Wil Wheaton and pals play Dead of Winter (a semi co-op zombie survival game).

My copy arrived last week but I haven’t had a chance to play it, if anyone fancies a game let me know!

Edit: So… that wasn’t quite what I expected! Still super excited to play it but who’d’ve thought that a game in which most people in the world are dead, the people who aren’t are cold, alone, and on the brink of starvation, and you can’t trust anyone who’s not you would be so exhausting!

It’s clearly not going to be light fun but, yeah, I imagine you finish it feeling like you’ve had an real emotional experience but not necessarily feeling like you’ve had fun.

But it must feel amazing to beat.*

*TWSS

The 8th Voyage of Sindbad

February 14, 2015

So, last night was a busy one. I’d been having these dreams about a city in India so thought I’d go to see what it was all about. Along the way I was transformed into a hideous ape, kissed by an ifrit, I fed starving masses, discovered my hidden family fortune, was married, widowed a week later, sprung someone from prison, found a magical city, stole a diamond, saved a village, escaped prison myself, and finally returned to Baghdad to live out my days as a respectable citizen.

It was a pretty awesome evening.

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In the end all that wasn’t enough to win (if winning is even the right word!). That honour belonged to a former prison agony aunt turned sex-changed prince who angered the king of the merfolk with her zealous proselytising and the King of Thieves himself.

I ran a solo game myself, it meant tweaking the rules a little (it’s trickier without someone else to be storyteller) but I still had fun. I was a (wrongfully) disgraced royal cartographer fleeing the Vizier’s soldiers. I avoided cities, stuck to the wilderness, where I came upon a map to Stonehenge but that journey didn’t end so well. I saw terrible things and not long after my past caught up with me and I was imprisoned by the Vizier’s men.

I managed to escape and travelled to far off lands searching for a mysterious woman who haunted my dreams but my exile and imprisonment had made me a bitter and envious man. I never did find that woman but I did find salvation, I even saved an entire city of bewitched people and finished at peace, forgiven by the Sultan, with a whopping great diamond to boot.

The World of Imagination

December 12, 2014

The world of imagination is the world of eternity; it is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation is finite and temporal.

William Blake, spotted in an article about D&D that’s worth a read. I’ve never played D&D but I really really want to. Years ago I picked up the 4e Player’s Handbook and it was a fun enough read but I didn’t take it any further. More recently I’ve caught up with Acquisitions Inc, watched a buttload of Tabletop and I’m the slightly excited owner of the 5e Player’s Handbook (and Monster Manual). I have nobody to play with but I’m holding out hope.

Talking of Blake there’s an exhibition of prints on at the Ashmolean this Winter to which I’m definitely paying a visit.