The Muppets


I’ve been watching a lot of The Muppets lately.  Partly on YouTube, partly movies, and The Muppet Show from Netflix.  I had forgotten what genius The Muppets are.  The Muppet Show is one of my all time favorite shows.  I really enjoyed the ballroom skit and Muppet News Flash.  My favorites were Pigs In Spaaace and the Swedish Chef.  I can still do a good impression of him.  Sure The Muppet Show is corny.  Sure it’s hokey.  But that is part of its charm.  They consistantly produced a quality show with interesting guests.  It was fun seeing people who you may not see that much or in a while like Alice Cooper, Harvey Korman, Ruth Buzzi, or Vincent Price.  The coolest part for me though was the technical aspect.  I’ve always loved puppets and used to do them in church.  And it’s hard.  Try holding your arm above your head for more than 5 or 8 minutes.  All the while acting with your hand.  And staying out of sight.  So I was very appreciative of what was going on behind and under the scenes.

The movies.   I like the Muppet movies.  They are cute and funny for the most part.  My favorite is Muppet Treasure Island.  They did a good riff on the story and Tim Currie is fantastic.  And so is Billy Connolly though his part is brief. A Muppet Christmas Carol is a close second.  Michael Caine makes a pretty good Ebenezer Scrooge but Gonzo and Rizzo make it for me.

The Muppets haven’t been idle.  Check out YouTube.  There are some really fun Muppet versions of songs there.  In particular Bohemian Rhapsody.  There is other new content there also.  And fan made things.  So check them out for a lot of fun.

And you may not be aware that they are making a new Muppet movie.  I for one am glad to hear it and can’t wait for it to be released.  Check it out at IMDB here.

Feedback Is Back.


It’s been a very long time since I posted any podcast feedback.  Mainly because I had not been listening to any podcasts nor when I did, was not able to take notes.  Feedback was the reason for starting this blog.  It’s about time I returned to it.  So here we go.

A lot of these are old podcasts so bear with me.

I have to begin with Pulp Gamer – Out of Character.  Don and the gang were very supportive of me beginning Go Forth And Game.  I’ll begin with the ‘Games To Be Thankful For’ episode.  There was a lot of mention of ‘The Canon of The Game’ and sticking to or not sticking to it.  In keeping with the theme here are some games I’m thankful for:  Memoir ’44, Homesteaders, Macao, Fiasco, FATE.

They did an episode on Crime in Games.  Leverage was one that was mentioned.  I’ve never seen the TV show it is based on but from their description and those of others, this is one I need to check out.  When people talk about crime in games, especially rpg’s, I immediately think of Fiasco.  I LOVE this game.  I really need to do a review.

Narrative Control 56 covered change in your characters and how to deal with it.  Characters changing during a game or especially a campaign is something to expect.  Characters should grow.  Players should be willing to seriously consider change and where that change can lead.  Change can result in some really cool stories.  As an example my character Jind in our Diaspora game changed radically during character creation from my original idea of him.  And that change has had a major impact on the game.

Narrative Control 57 was about Apocalypse World, Vincent Baker’s newest game.  There has been a lot of buzz on this game, both good and negative.  One of the main points I picked up was that AW tells the players how to play.  This is an interesting thing and generated a lot of discussion in the show.  It seems so simple that we overlook or assume that the game has done this.  But some games don’t.  I appreciated them bringing this out.  I will use it for ‘comatose’ or what ever it will be called.  Another thing they liked about AW was the inclusion of examples of bad play or how not to play.  What a good idea.  All in all the show made me want to check out this game, if only for the GM advice and to see another way to write an rpg.  Note: AW seems like a good game to do a Thundarr game.

I rediscovered Reasonable Faith.  This is a podcast by Christian apologist William Lane Craig.  This is always an excellent podcast that makes me think.  I will do a proper feedback in another post.

I listened to a Please Convince Me show too.  I will cover it in the same post as Reasonable Faith.

The Game Kennel covered Tigris & Euphrates.  I have played it once and really like it.  The Pulpsters do a good job of covering T&E.  It is a deep game, a thinky game.  There is a lot to keep up with and remember.  They are right that you need multiple plays to get your head around it.  I like it and it is on the Buy List.

Voice of The Revolution covered Monsters And Other Childish Things.  This sounds like a fun game.  What really interests me is the One Role Engine (ORE) system it uses.  ORE is a rich dice system in which a single roll of the dice yields more than just a number.  It uses all aspects of the dice.  Pip number of each die, dice color, doubles, high/low – information you can garner from one roll of the dice.  This idea fascinates me.  Wringing all the information you can from your mechanics and props is an awesome idea.  I’m using it in a couple of game I’m developing – The Survivor, The Accused, and The Gold Rush.  This idea streamlines a game and enables you to do a lot more with what you have.  Look for more on this in a future post.

I’m listening more regularly now so more feedback is coming. That’s about it for now.

Go Forth And Game,

tomg

 

Memoir ’44 Online


Days of Wonder has their online version of Memoir ’44 in beta test right now. Z and I started playing today and I have to say it is a very good implementation of the game. The game play is excellent and really has the feel of the face to face game. The graphics, as usual with Days of Wonder, are fantastic. The player interface, the game itself, and the other sites are beautiful. I was very impressed with the intro animation. The games are quick and there are 16 available scenarios for basic play. So far we have only played the solo game against the AI. We are learning how it works. But it is easy enough that Z can play by himself. We should graduate to person to person play in the next couple of days. The beta test is free for the moment. When it goes live, there will be 3 levels of play (and cost) that allow increasing access to scenarios and other gameplay options. So far this is a extremely fun online game. We will be playing it quite a bit.

A Conversation With The Spiel


Today I’m joined by Dave Colson and Stephen Conway, the guys from The Spiel. The Spiel is one of the premier gaming podcasts. They also run The Spiel Foundation, which we discuss in the interview.

Tom: Tell us abit about yourselves first.

Dave: Music crept into my life when I was too young to know any better. Luckily, I was too stubborn to believe all the horror stories. As a result, I am now a professional musician at a small dinner theater. Note: professional means I get paid for it, not that I am any good at it. In my spare time, I am proud to call myself an aspiring wine snob. I also love disc golf, even though my age has made Ben-Gay a required post game ritual. And, last but not least, I do dabble a bit in board gaming.

Tom: What makes a good rpg and/or board gamer?

Stephen: Not sure good is the right word here. I’d say the qualities I look and hope for in players at my table are a willingness to have fun and the ability to give one’s self permission to play. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus had it right when he said, “Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” To me, coming to the table with this spirit of play trumps everything else. If you do this, you’re almost guaranteed to have fun and enjoy your time with others.

Dave: Although my answer should be applicable to both, I’m going to go with board gamers here since my role playing experience has been very limited. The single most important thing that every board gamer should strive for, yes even above seeking out that perfect strategy, or achieving a favorable win-to-loss ratio, or even being gracious in defeat, is to be aware of the other people at the table. All gamers are not created equal. Board games, being one of the purest forms of social interaction, demand that we connect for a time with other living, breathing life forms. No, an iPad is not living or breathing. If you can’t tell when it’s ok to let loose the “over the top trash talking” gamer or bring forth the helpful “sure you can take that move back” gamer, then you’ll soon find yourself limited to a very small number of gaming friends. This, unfortunately, will result in you missing out on the best part of gaming, which in my opinion, is to experience games with as many people as possible. After all, the same game played with twenty different people, is really twenty different games.

 

Tom: These are awesome answers. Leave it Mr. History to pull out a perfect quote from the ancient past. Sweet. What makes a great game?

Dave: This one is pretty easy. Dice! Just kidding. I think that beyond solid, well balanced mechanics, which every “good” game has to have, a “great” game must also be immersive from start to finish. And not just for the first few times you play it. The pieces have to feel good in your hand every time. The choices have to be difficult every time. The paths to victory, although well defined, have to be elusive enough to feel fresh every time. All of these things combined will give you a “great” game that always leaves you wanting more!

Stephen: A great game is one that enables folks at the table to have fun. There’s certainly no single recipe for this. I see board and card games as vehicles for social engagement and interaction. Any game that can create a sense of fun and memorable experiences at the table has succeeded on a very fundamental level.

 

Tom: What is The Spiel Foundation?

 

Stephen: The Spiel Foundation is an organization separate from The Spiel. It is 3 years old. It is a non-profit group (soon to be an official 501(c)3 charity) whose mission is to donate quality board and card games to children’s hospitals and senior citizen centers. We use our experience with and knowledge of games to select 5 specific titles and then purchase and assemble bundles of these games to donate. We have grown from 6-8 bundles in our first year to 64 bundles in year three. That’s over 300 games this year! We host an annual fundraiser, the Spiel-a-thon, to generate income for each year’s bundle purchases. We do accept donations throughout the year and are forming partnerships with game groups and conventions around the country for fundraisers. For instance, we are sending 48 game bundles to the Houston area thanks in great measure to the efforts of the fine folks at OwlCon. For more information about the group, check out thespielfoundation.com

Dave: The Spiel is a show where Stephen and I get to share our passion for board gaming with anyone willing to listen. It has never been our intent to tell people what they should or shouldn’t like, instead, we try to open up their eyes (and wallets) to the nearly limitless numbers and kinds of games out there. When you finish an episode of The Spiel, you should (1): have all the information you need to determine if a game we talked about is a game that gets your goat and (2): understand that the best part of gaming is the fun that these cardboard beauties can give us.

The Spiel Foundation is a non-profit organization we set up to make sure that good quality, fun games make it to the people who need them the most. Obviously, we can’t provide games to everybody, so we have focused our attention on children’s hospitals and senior citizen’s centers.

Each year we assemble as many five-game bundles as our funds allow and hand deliver or ship them to their new homes. It is our hope that these games will bring some enjoyment to the kids and seniors who receive them.

 

Tom: I think this is amazing. Gamers are giving people and I’m glad you all have found a way to channel that. I want to come back to this at the end. That’s an awesome logo too. Another question – What is your most memorable gaming moment?

Stephen: I grew up in a family that loved games. Some of my earliest and most fond memories are of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my parents laughing and playing cards until all hours of the night. In rural Indiana, where Euchre is King, it was considered a rite of passage for my grandfather to sit down and teach me the rules and take me on as his “apprentice” partner. For my Romanian grandparents on the other side of my family, their game was Pinochle. The day I was allowed to join the adults and play Pinochle, I knew I had found my new home: the game table.

Tom: This story is so familiar now. Almost everyone interviewed has a similar experience. Their gaming started as children. I’m no different. I can remember playing Uncle Wiggly when I was in first grade with my sister. And playing cards, Catch The Five specifically, with my grandmother and her friends and my cousins. I believe gaming in childhood definitely leads to a lifetime of gaming. You talked about gaming’s social interactions and that touching us on a fundamental level. This has been echoed by other guests. I believe that this is what bonds us to gaming. Gaming can teach us how to behave and interact with each other in civil and productive ways. The rules of a game control the interactions of the players. Or at least confine these interactions in a certain way. They allow us to engage with each other without having to deal with discovering ‘the rules’ of the interaction. They enable us to bypass those rules or delay them. We are able to learn them with a layer of protection, the game, so to speak. What do you think?

Stephen: On some level, all games are vehicles for social interaction. They give us freedom within well defined boundaries: the rules, the board, the actions of the other players. Games give us a chance to experiment safely with ways to interact, in other words. The price for failure is low and you can rebound for a more positive experience as quickly as your next turn. So many simple life lessons are reinforced or can begin at the game table: sharing, fairness, friendly competition, respect for one’s opponent, in addition to the more obvious academic lessons we might pick up. Probably the most important lesson we start to learn is that winning isn’t the only way to have fun with games – the process of play itself brings the real lasting joy long after the winners and losers have been forgotten.

What games are hitting your table/why?

Dave: Ok, you asked for it! In no particular order: Cribbage, Scopa, Robo Rally, Ubongo, Fits, Asteroyds, Egizia, Tichu, Assyria, Fresco, Roll Through the Ages, Tobago, Wok Star, and oh yea, I would never turn down a good game of Hide and Seek!

Scopa Cards

Stephen: I can’t pick out a specific title, but I can say more and more co-op games hit the table whether we are playing with people new to the hobby or seasoned veterans. From Pandemic to Shadows Over Camelot to Ghost Stories and newcomers like Witch of Salem and Wok Star, I have a lot of fun trying to eke out a rare win against these tough challenges.

Tom: What do you bring to the table?

Stephen: I hope I bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to the table and also a willingness to find fun in any game big or small old or new.

Dave: You mean besides dice? I hope the enjoyment I get from games is at least somewhat discernable

by the other people playing with me. If it is, then I hope what I bring to the table is contagious.

Tom: We’re playing more of those too. Forbidden Island has been hitting the table at often. And Castle Ravenloft very recently, though I have yet to play it. I’m very excited about Wok Star. It is in my top three to purchase this year. You all have been doing The Spiel for a while now. What is the coolest thing about doing the podcast?

Stephen: By far, the best part is the massive network of new friends I have met. By sharing our passion for games, we have been repaid in kind by getting to know so many great people from all walks of life and from all around the world.

Dave: Let’s start off with the un-cool part: We give away dice. Did you hear that?! We just give them away! I’m sorry, it’s my nature to grab a hold of every die I can find and pigeon-hole it away as if it were “My Precious.” So to simply give away dice willy-nilly is something I do not think I will ever get used to.

Now to the cool stuff: In our case, the coolest thing is also the most rewarding. Who would have thought that so many people would connect with what we are doing? Since day one, the emails started coming in. It didn’t matter that some gave praise and others were quick to criticize. All that mattered was that these people were passionate enough about their hobby and The Spiel’s part in it, to let us know what they thought. In my experience, people do not waste their time on something they don’t care about. That means a lot to us! We have been fortunate enough to meet many of these passionate listeners and think that it’s pretty cool that we now call them friends.

Tom: What’s on the horizon, game-wise?

Stephen: We tend to let inspiration take us where it will when planning and playing for the show. Look for an in-depth review of Tammany Hall before the end of the year. I’d also like to do an episode on “re-imagined” classic games. We try to keep a good mix of new, old, obscure and classic games on the show.

Tom: I’m hearing good things about Tammany Hall so I’m looking forward to that one. I think you do a good job of reminding us about classic games. Outside of The Vintage Gamer, The Spiel is the only show that does this regularly. Though I do believe The Dice Tower now has a reoccurring segment about this. Hearing about the unknown game and classics, particularly since I haven’t been into Euro games that long, is valuable to me. The Spiel seems to champion small press games. Can you name some gems you have discovered recently?

 

Stephen: From our most recent swing through the conventions, here are six games that really caught my eye:

 

Wok Star (Gabob Games)

 

Nile (Minion Games)

 

Innovation (Asmadi Games)

 

Founding Fathers (Jolly Roger Games)

 

Rowboat (Moosestache Games)

 

Letters from Whitechapel (Nexus Games)

 

Tom: I have Gabob on the list of companies to interview for Go Forth. I have a question set out to Asmadi right now. Jolly Roger is a good suggestion. Founding Fathers is getting some good press and JR has been around for a while. I don’t know the other three companies or games. I need to investigate.

 

Are there any links you would like to let the readers know about?

Dave & Stephen: Please visit us at http://www.thespiel.net. We’re a small quirky town full of misfits compared to the big city lights of Board Game Geek, but you’ll find a great community of Spielers there ready to roll out the welcome wagon.

The Return of Conversations With…


After a long break, Conversations With… returns with an interview that has been in limbo for a long time.  Back in August I invited Cody And John of Game On! With Cody And John to be interviewed for this blog.  They accepted and we proceeded to play email tag for a couple of months.  The first set of answers finally arrived and I promptly got too busy to compile my responses.  In the mean time I thought of some new questions for them.  So I sent them.  And we started email tag again.  Here is the first set of questions.

I’m joined this time by John Richard and Cody Jones of Game On! With Cody & John. Game On is one of my favorite gaming focused podcasts. Each show John and Cody cover a game in depth along with numerous other smaller reviews and segments on gaming. Their style is relaxed and fun. So let’s get to the questions.

Tom: What makes a great game?

John: A game that makes you think without making you OVERthink.  In other words, a game that rewards optimal strategy, but doesn’t overly punish those who don’t play with optimal strategy.  And, any game that you talk about weeks later is definitely a good one!

Cody: A game that produces great experiences and memories and keeps you coming back to the table.


Tom: What makes a good player, both rpg and boardgame?

John: Someone who is conscientiously invested in the outcome of the game, but not so invested that they lose sight of the social fun of playing the game.

Cody: RPG: Willingness to go with the story and let the GM run his or her game. Board Game: A humble winner and a gracious loser, and someone who balances “it’s just a game” with a meaningful, quality approach to gaming.

Basic social skills are a plus in both domains. 🙂


Tom: What is/are your current hot game(s)?

John: Founding Fathers, Runewars, Tichu

Cody: Lately, I’ve been playing the games that launched my gaming hobby – my old mistresses Talisman (with expansions), Magic: The Gathering, and D&D. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.


Tom: Who are your favorite game designers?

John: Christian Leonhard/Jason Matthews, Corey Konieczka, Kevin Wilson

Cody: Corey Konieczka, Kevin Wilson, Gary Gygax

Tom: What is the best thing about doing Game On!?

John: Interacting with fans!  Getting free review copies of games is nice, too, but getting e-mails and voicemails from listeners is the best!

Meeting fans at conventions that listen to the show – that’s when it really sinks in that we do have listeners!


To
m: What is the most surprising thing about that has happened as a result of Game On!?

John: The fact that we haven’t run out of things to talk about.  For me and Cody, the show is basically an extension our friendship, so it’s cool that after 2 years of podcasting, we’re still best friends!

Cody: That we’re still doing it! What started as a crazy thought on the road home from Origins 2008 is now a popular gaming podcast. Who knew?

Thanks for the interview guys. It was a lot of fun.

Please visit http://gameonpodcast.com/. It is an awesome podcast on gaming.

2010 in review


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 86 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 118 posts. There were 72 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 9mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 17th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was Six Questions With…Eric Summerer of The Dice Tower.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were gamerchris.com, bullypulpitgames.com, tastyminstrelgames.com, boardgamegeek.com, and Google Reader.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for go forth and game, fiasco playsets, fiasco playset, sacajawea, and tomgurg.wordpress.com.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Six Questions With…Eric Summerer of The Dice Tower July 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

The Tasty Minstrel Gets Kickstarted! October 2010
3 comments

3

Bad Movie Day – Tarzan The Wonder Supercar Redlines An Ultraman. It’s The Funda. March 2010
3 comments

4

A Conversation With…Jason Morningstar September 2010

5

RPG or Die!con March 2010