The Dice Tower 171

The Dice Tower episodes 171 & 172

I got caught up with The Dice Tower over the last few days.  I’m glad because it is one of my favorites and they had some interesting topics.  Here’s my feedback.

171:  Top 10 Board Game Companies

My first question to Tom and Eric is did you finish your Stone Age game on  How about a report?

Interesting games that they covered:

First is Cyclades.  This one attracted my attention because of the graphics and then the mythology theme.  I’m a mythology person.  I have always liked learning about myths and legends.  This game seems to allow you to jump into some of these myths and use the characters from them for your benefit.  That sounds neat.  It is about city building and contains a conflict element.  I like that.  GamerChris has this one on his radar too so I’m hoping to get to play it before the end of the year.

The other game mentioned that piqued my interest is Merchant of Venus.  Eric loves this game and that comes through in the podcast.  I haven’t played it (yet) but look forward to doing so some day.  It is an exploration in space game, a theme which I like.

In other news Tom announced that his family is moving to Homestead, Florida in July.  I’m very glad to hear that he was able to get what sounds like a very good position in that town.  While not as close as I would have liked, it is in the same time zone. 

Moritz covered 3M Games’ history in a very interesting article.  I like several of their games (Twixt in particular) and was glad to learn about 3M.  It also reminded me that I need to pick up copies of Twixt, Feudo, and a couple of others.

The question of the episode was “What attracts you to a game company?”.  Various contributors mentioned good customer service, good games, well made components, fun etc..  For me it’s fun followed by consistancy and quality.  By this I mean the company puts out well designed games that are enjoyable.  I may lose at a game but if I have fun doing so it is a quality game in my opinion.  Consistancy points to the companies ability to seek out and filter the good games from the not so good games.  And/or to improve/develop a good game into a great game.  So for me there are a couple of companies that do this.  Alea, Queen, Ravensburger, Fantasy Flight, and Gamewright all fall in this category.  Rio Grande and Z-Man do in that they are able to bring quality to the U.S..  I forgot Mayfair and Days of Wonder.   So I don’t have a single favorite.

My question for them is What are your favorite 10 small publishers?  Like Smirk & Dagger or Your Move.

Eric briefly reviewed the first English edition of Spielbox Magazine.  I am going to have to look into this.

Last impressions – Eric has come into his own on the show.  The show is smooth and professional.  Tom and Eric have synched well.  I enjoy the multiple contributors. 

Keep up the good work guys.

What I Played Last Night

It was Game Night at Hypermind so I played some games.

First was Pandemic with the mutation variant.  There were five of us and we won in a tight game.  This is such a fun game.  Why is it so fun?  It’s intense.  It is ever changing.  It sneaks up on you.  You’re working on one disease then bam! another one outbreaks suddenly and you’re in a crisis.  There is a time limit.  It’s hard.  It is one of the best designed games I’ve played.  Each play is different.  And adding the On The Brink expansion just makes it better.  Everyone should own it.

Next up was Princes of Florence.  This is a thinky game.  I like thinky games.  Most of the time I lose but I still like them.  I was doing pretty good.  My initial hand worked well together.  Only the buildings were different.  So I thought I was in good shape.  And I was until the second to the last turn.  I had 4 works in place and was in third place of five.  And I had a 19 point work in my hand ready to go.  I forgot that I couldn’t build buildings next to each other with only one builder!!  So I couldn’t do the work!!!! So What to do??  I lose.  I ended with 2 Prestige Points cards that were worthless.  The last Freedom had been bought out from under me in the previous round.  And because of my forgetful self I lost the Lake which would have given me 8 points, enough to get me into 4th.  Argh!

Next up was a 7 player game of Bang!.  I had played Bang! once and liked it.  And was glad to be able to get in another game.  The first outlaw blew herself up with dynamite.  The second revealed himself soon after and went out several hands later as Vulture Sam began blasting him with his Volcanic.  I was the last outlaw.  Great name for a Western.  We lost.  Vulture Sam had a mean on for me and made it his goal in life to make sure that I died.  I almost got him.  His bigger hand was my undoing as he held back a Beer to give him a life after out duel.  Come to think of it, he played that on my turn.  I had played the Duel card I think.  Can he do that?  Oh well it was a blast.  The cool thing about this game is that people role play and get into character.  Lots of fun.  And Kenny has Ennio Morricone music playing through out.

The last game was just Chris, Kenny, and I.  Chris was itching to play Pandemic with the Bioterrorist so that’s what we did.  It really changes the game.  The BT takes his turns after EACH of the other players take their turn.  So he gets double turns in this case.  And the way he infects a city is different.  He moves in secret too.  This is a very cool twist on the game that we will play again.  Kenny and I lost when we ran out of cards in the draw pile.  It was huge fun though.

All images are from GamerChris and are used with permission.

Fear The Boot 189

I’m a few shows behind on FTB but 189 was particularly good.  There is a good discussion of indie games and what ‘indie’ means.  Now I’m sure that there are probably a hundred threads on The Forge about this.  But this podcast kind of congealed the topic for me.  Chris was believes there is no such thing as ‘indie’ games.  By his definition, the market for games is too small for anything to be called indie vs. corporate(?).  At least that is how I heard it.  He compared the gaming industry to the movie industry.  He says in the movie industry there are several big players that put out the mass market movies.  While the independent film makers craft labors of love that see a smaller market. He says the game industry is different.

Personally, his comparison is a good one with the exception that the gaming industry is very much smaller.  The same paradigm or framework exists.  Larger companies producing games aimed at the mass market for the most part.  Smaller outfits aiming at niche markets.  Often these are a single individual producing his labor of love.  Just like an ‘indie’ film maker except his child is a pdf.  I see no difference.  And the rest of the FTB seems to agree with me.

Go check it out.

Blogs I Follow – Now With Linky Goodness!!

My blogging muse, GamerChris, has a great post on the podcasts he listens to and it’s a lot.  So I thought I would post which blogs I follow.  I use Google Reader to get the latest.  Here they are:

Evil Hat Productions – update from Evil Hat, makers of awesome rpgs like Spirit Of The Century

aka pastor guy – Mark Jackson, pastor, father, gamer.

anyway – Vincent Baker’s blog

Biotech News – because I’m a biotech scientist and like to keep up with the industry some

Boardgame News – super awesome site for gaming news

Bully Pulpit Games – makers of Fiasco and other fantastic games

Campaign Mastery – rpg advice and comments

Deeper In The Game – rpg inform and more

Fear The Boot – blogsite of the podcast of the same name, a very good rpg podcast

Fair Play – updates and blogging from Jason Morningstar

Game Design Is About Structure – Eero Tuovinen’s blog, excellent and insightful

GamerChris – of course!!  He is my good friend but he is also an excellent gamer with interesting things to say.

Gaming Brouhaha – more rpg goodness

Gnome Stew – one of the best rpg sites in my opinion.  lots of good advice, insight on gaming, and reviews

Indie Press Revolution – updates from IPR

Kenneth Hite – excellent ideas and talk about game design

Master Plan – Ryan Macklin’s fantastic game design/theory podcast’s site, seems to have faded of late.  Most likely because Ryan is working like a dog on umpteen projects

Parkerspace – the web home of my friend and comics writer par excellance, Jeff Parker.  You should be reading his comics.

Pharmaceutical News – I used to be in Pharma and still like to keep up.

Print and Play – blog site of the podcast that looks at print and play games

Purple Pawn – second best gaming newsite out there after Boardgame News

Biotech Weblog – interesting biotech focused articles that don’t appear elsewhere

The Blog of Michael Mendes – Tasty Minstrel Games’ founder.  He has some nifty talk about starting and running a game company.

The Dice Tower – updates from The Dice Tower, one of the top 3 boardgame podcasts

The Spiel – updates from this podcast, one of the best on gaming

Voice of The Revolution – updates on that podcast

Boardgames To Go – one of the oldest boardgame blog/podcasts and still one of the best

Canon Puncture – blog of the excellent podcast about role playing

Deadly Fredly – Fred Hicks’ super blog on lots of stuff, mostly role playing

DVD Late Show – looks at movies from the past, has a sci-fi, fantasy, horror bent

Explorersink – Foolster’s blog.  supporting a fellow Pulp Gamer satellite

Fantastic Places – sketches from artist Codexier

Gamer: The Blogging – Ron Blessing’s great blog on gaming, mostly rpg, with good discussion on game theory

GeekDad – all things geek, a really fun and interesting blog from the Wired crew

Grognardia – James Maliszewski’s very good blog on role playing mostly

Please Convince Me – updates from PCM

Paul Tevis – Paul’s latest web presence and as always great and not just games any more

Playing With Myself – a gamer without anyone to play with.  a very good blog on gaming

Smiling Jack’s Bar and Grill – The Savage Worlds podcast site, excellent for Savage info

Some Space To Think – Rob Donoghue’s fantastic site where he talks about game design and theory

Space 1970 – fun stuff with nostalgic look back at sci fi we loved

Story Games – gives me hits when someone posts on SG

The Free RPG Blog – just what it says – a free game with every post

Boardgame Babylon – updates from this fantastic podcast about boardgames

Game On! with Cody and John – another excellent gaming podcast site

OgreCave -new to me, rpg focused

Savage Bloggers Network – all things Savage Worlds and news

The Mighty Atom -another new one, indie rpg game designer John Harper

Wired: Wired Science – cause I’m a science geek too

I Have Powers – game designer Chad Underkoffler’s blog

The Core Mechanic – new, discussions about game mechanics

That’s pretty much it.  I check about twice a day to see what has updated and if anything is of interest.

Any suggestions?

Classic Games

One of my gaming goals this year is to play as many of the classic Euro-style games as possible.  I’m going to try to hit many of  the BGG top 10 over the course of the year.  Ra, Puerto Rico, Notre Dame, Agricola, Tigris & Euphrates, El Grande, and others.  I’m on my way as I have played Dominion and have zero desire to play Power Grid.

In addition, I hope to play some ‘classic’ indie rpgs.  On that list are Dogs In The Vineyard, Burning Wheel, Prime Time Adventures (again),The Shab-al Hiri Roach, The Shadow of Yesterday, My Life With Master, and a couple of others.  In addition to giving me some fun gaming experiences, I hope playing these will help me be a better designer.

Similar to the previous post about great games, what are some classics?  We all agree that Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, Risk, Battleship, Clue, and Life are classics.  Give me some Euro-style classics and some classic indie rpgs.