Author: Peder

Back or Brick: The Reckoners: Steelslayer

Back or Brick: The Reckoners: Steelslayer

We’re back for a special edition of Back or Brick as I look at the expansion for the superhero fighting cooperative game based off of the Brandon Sanderson series, The Reckoners. Pros Amazing Theme Amazing Components Cooperative Game Can get Base Game as well as 

Friday Night D&D – Waves of the Neon Seas

Friday Night D&D – Waves of the Neon Seas

The waters lap against the tranquil shores of the Neon Seas, their vibrant colors splash as each waves crests before it licks the shore. It’s feast day and the sounds of children splashing in the water and laughing can be heard as everyone around is 

Your Hero Has Done Too Much – D&D Advice

Your Hero Has Done Too Much – D&D Advice

So you’re starting out a campaign at level 1 and you’re rolling into your first session with your rogue. They’ve gotten a name for themselves, they helped steal the royal jewels of Hemenklot and the Dwarven empire. After getting that money, they went and sailed around the world with no crew except for their best friend Ethiel Batherain the son of a noble family and heir to their estates. When tragedy befell him and he disappeared at see you had to bring the news to their family and your finance, Merriel, Ethiel’s sister. To prove that you were still worthy of her hand, they gave you a series of five tasks which ended with you besting a Rakshasa in a game of wits. So you’re very well prepared for the campaign.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Session one, the first thing you have to do to show off your skills is use a rope, attached to a flag pole and swing with it to a balcony. And you fall in your face. You try it again, and you fall on your face. Somehow you managed to leap from roof top to roof top and then repel down into a secret chamber to steal some crown jewels, but this is impossible.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

There are probably a couple of things, but I want to talk about one thing in particular, and that’s having a backstory that is just too big for your level 1 character.

There’s a really strong desire to jump into an epic game and an epic moment with your epic character. But if the campaign starts at level 1, you aren’t epic yet. You might have had some small adventures, but to have big epic stories as to what’s happened in your past, it can be jarring when the reality of playing the character and the fickle nature of the dice end up causing your character to feel not like the backstory that you created.

So much of this is driven by wanting your character to be that end product of the dashing rogue who steals form the rick and gives to the poor, and can toss out a witty one-liner and insult the King and get away with it with a wink. Or to be Batman and the force in the dark keeping the peace. Or to be a powerful wizard hurling lightning bolts and calling down meteor storms on the heads of your enemies. But this is really the end product that you should be striving for.

At level 1, you are a hero, you are better than the average person, but there are so many bigger and scarier and more powerful things out there in the world than you. So when creating your backstory keep is scaled to who you are. Maybe you helped with the heist to steal the crown jewels, but you were just the lookout two blocks away. Maybe you did sale around the world, but you helped the cook on the ship and spent most of your time killing rats. Maybe you did have to prove your love and worthiness to your fiance and their family, and this is it. But it is about keeping your story in line with the level that you are at. You probably don’t have many big and grand adventures yet, and that’s why you are setting out adventuring now.

Now, I think to go along with scaling down your heroic actions in a game, you also need to shift the focus of your character concept. A lot of the time people end up with a way to big backstory because they start their character fully into the concept. Being Batman is an end goal, a bad one but one, so instead of thinking that you’re Batman from the start, think about the path that Bruce Wayne took to becoming Batman, you’re somewhere right after Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed at level 1, or Spider-Man before he was bitten by the spider. So your goal is to become Spider-Man or I guess if you have to, Batman. So what do you need to do to create those two backstories? If you’re Batman, be focused on revenge, be paranoid, and have dead parents, that’s the level 1 backstory for Batman. So, whatever your concept would be, consider where they would start at level 1 and when they hit level X where you want that concept to be fleshed out, what are the steps to get there?

Image Source: Wizards

Taking the approach of building towards and end character, someone who grows into that style of play you want over time, gives you a lot of motivation for what your character is going to do in the campaign, giving you clearer decision and role play paths. It’s also going to help keep that story from being too expansive or feeling like you should be better and leading to frustration because your character isn’t better or doesn’t match what you have in your head. Now, for some people they have a concept, they want to drop it into a game and play it immediately. So maybe you are Spider-Man, but you’re just learning the ropes, and consider how you want your character to grow more and more into that role so it feels more and more like your concept.

When creating a backstory do you just do something that has a lot of epic moments like I talk about, or do you build one that allows your character to grow into a concept? What’s the hardest part of doing it that way, because it is more difficult? What have you done to overcome challenges with a backstory?

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Coming to Kickstarter Vol 1: Frostpunk and 7th Citadel

Coming to Kickstarter Vol 1: Frostpunk and 7th Citadel

So I’ve decided as well as doing my Back or Brick and the Waiting on Kickstarter series, “Coming to Kickstarter” where I look at the announced games that are coming and talk about what is or isn’t interesting about them, and kind of why I 

Back or Brick: Die of the Dead

Back or Brick: Die of the Dead

Who will be the first to build a path for their ancestors to travel in the dice placement, push your luck style game? Pros Look of the game Weight of the Game Price Pretty Pretty Dice Cons Luck factor The Page This is a company 

Expansion vs New Game

Expansion vs New Game

So, when building up your board game collection, it can at times reach the point where you have so many games that you just don’t play them all that often, and that you have a core few favorites that you play all of the time, so the question always is, do you add more new games to your collection or should you get an expansion?

Now, both have benefits in terms of your game collection. So I’m going to talk about the pros to both, and probably some cons as well, but when it comes to gaming, for me getting more games you can play is never going to be a bad thing.

The Argument for Exapnsions

So the argument for getting an expansion or starting to focus more on getting expansions is that you’ll probably play their content more. For a lot of games, Small World, Pandemic, Sagrada, and others, you’ll often just find yourself always having the expansion in the game. So if you are playing those games often, you’ll get more use out of that content.

It also can increase the replayability of those games. Stuff like Pandemic and Small World are great for introducing new people into board gaming. But it can end up feeling like you are playing the same game over and over again. So getting new roles in Pandemic or getting new monsters and abilities in Small World that can create combos or new strategies to try, those things will freshen up a game for a player who plays those games a lot.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek

Sometimes you can also not increase the number of boxes for the games by getting expansions. If the expansion can be stored with the base game, or vice-a-versa, you don’t add any new boxes to your collection that take up shelf space. Now, this isn’t always the case so sometimes you’re just adding boxes like normal, but if you are tight on space, that’s one reason to consider an expansion over a new game.

The Argument for New Games

With a new game one of the big selling points is that you can try something new. Sounds obvious, but it might allow you to find a new type of game or a new favorite game by trying out something new. Or you might find an improvement upon a game that you already like, if you like something like Splendor, trying Century Spice Road or Century Golem Edition might give you a game that you like better or that people in your group will like better, even though the feel of the two can be similar.

A new game also allows you to fill in gaps in your gaming collection. Now, everyone will have different types of games that the prefer, but sometimes you might need a party game, and you might need it so that you don’t get stuck playing a party game that you really don’t like. Or maybe a euro or deck building, or whatever it might be. So filling in some of those areas that you might not have enough of for your gaming group and to keep it interesting is important as well.

The Arguments Against Expansions

While I talked about the added variability, one thing to be slightly concerned about with adding more is the addition of complexity to a game. So you might take a game that is relatively easy to get to the table and make it harder by adding in additional rules or roles to explain. So while technically the game has more replayability because of those things, it will see the table less because it’s harder to pull out with a group of new to the game players. I have a friend who has several expansions for Galaxy Trucker, but because it’s harder to teach with those in the box, they raretly get played with.

Also, an expansion might not add in that much more to a game, so kind of the opposite of the one above, but if it just adds in a few more cards or a modular board, or something like that, it might not feel like it changes up the game that much, so it doesn’t add to the game play or it getting back to the table again.

Image Credit: Game Base

The Argument Against New Games

The most obvious one is that you might not like the game, as simple as that. It’s an unknown commodity to you and there’s a risk/reward to factor in to it. Now, the more you’ve played games and played a variety of games, the odds of finding a complete miss aren’t that high, though it might not be something better than you already have on the shelf.

Speaking of shelves, space is also a concern. Because it is something completely new, it could take up a chunk of space and if you are limited in how much space you have, it might be the case where you won’t have room to store a new game. Now this can be rectified by getting rid of a game, but you might love all the games that you have, so then you have to make a choice if you decide to get any new games.

So, is there a better option, getting expansions or a new game? I don’t really think so. I think expansions can breath new life into an old game if you get them, but if you’re enjoying the base game, there’s no reason to. I think that new games can help you find things that you love and new favorites but probably have a higher chance of being a dud. It depends on how people play their games. Normally, I’m writing this mid Covid-19 Pandemic 2020, I play a lot of new to me games and a lot of different games, so having a good variety is great and something I really enjoy. But if you’re with a group who likes their handful of games, expansions are a great way to keep that feeling fresh.

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10 Minute Marvel Episode 61 – Top 10 Heroes – 10 through 6

10 Minute Marvel Episode 61 – Top 10 Heroes – 10 through 6

We have some Sony news as they look to create their own shows with Amazon, and I start going through my Top 10 Marvel Heroes with 10 through 6. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider subscribing and leaving a rating and review. Those 

Friday Night D&D: Tower of the Gods Session 7

Friday Night D&D: Tower of the Gods Session 7

When we left the group last Bokken was talking with Sanphire and learning how to use a throwing dagger. Thrain and Barrai are down in the tunnel getting ready to explore the area that they had found out about during the dragon attack when they 

The 7 Deadly Sins of Board Gaming

The 7 Deadly Sins of Board Gaming

So, this second post for today comes from a thread over on Board Game Geek called “The 7 Sins of Boardgaming” and I thought while reading through it, I should do that. I should write up some of my “rules” for board gaming. Obviously, each gaming table will be different, there are people talking about no food and drink at the table, which is common place for my game nights. But I do think that there are some things at least for me that are important for a game group and gaming.

1 – Not Being Ready to Game

Now this one might seem obvious, but I don’t think that some people get it or are ready to game. While there are certainly social elements to game nights, that is meant to be done in the context of while you are playing a game. So come ready to sit down and play again, not ready to talk for 30 minutes to an hour and then play a game at some point in time and then talk more after a filler game. I fairly often theme in filler game nights for those more social times, but sometimes you need to be prepared to play a bigger game and it’s a game night, so that should be the mindset.

2 – Quashing Fun

This really is #1 through #7, but I want to call this out specifically. It’s something that was talked about in the thread a fair amount. Don’t quash other people’s fun because something in the game offends you and the flip side of this as well, don’t pull out a game that you know will offend someone. If you aren’t sure, leave it on the shelf, if you are uncomfortable, sit out the game. You can always bring it up after the fact and do so respectfully. And if you don’t know, ask before pulling out a game if the person is fine with it. This also is true for conversation on a board game night. We’re trying to create an inclusive place. If you can’t shut up about the debate last night, don’t come, if you are wearing hateful or polarizing material on your shirt, or whatever it might be, don’t assume everyone is like you, and don’t assume everyone wants to talk about politics or whatever polarizing thing like you do.

3 – Alpha Gaming/Analysis Paralysis Gaming

Now, I’m lumping these two together, and really, like I said, this falls into quashing people’s fun. But while that is more specifically about your tastes and views on things, this is more about the game itself. Don’t tell people what to do on their turns, sure they might not be doing an optimal play, but that’s okay. It might mean you’re less likely to win a cooperative game, and that’s okay. By the same token, don’t take too long on your turn, that is how people checkout of games, and I’ll talk about that later. But slowing a game down makes it less fun for everyone. For AP players, they feel the pressure to go fast and not let everyone else get bored, for the other players, they don’t want to get bored. Here’s going to be an odd statement, but alpha gamers and AP gamers tend to have the same issue, they need to win. The issue is how they do it, one thinks they know what everyone should do, and one locks up to make the optimal play. Winning the game isn’t everything.

Image Source: Mythic Games

4 – Sore Losing/Winning

As I just said, winning the game isn’t everything, and losing the game isn’t nothing. But don’t be sore at either of them. Don’t huff and puff and say that the game isn’t fair, that people ganged up on you (even if they did), lose graciously. Again, this steps on people’s fun if you lose poorly. At the same time, if you win, don’t gloat about it. Also don’t deflect and say it was all luck and that you just happened to get lucky to win, because someone might have been playing their hardest and gotten crushed and feel now like they are a terrible player. Instead be gracious in both winning and losing and that’ll make the game more fun for everyone.

5 – Cheating

Simply put, don’t do this. No game matters that much that it’s worth cheating at, at a board game night. I don’t care if you’re playing poker for the last piece of Rhubarb Cream Pie, don’t cheat. Cheating if you get caught ruins the game for everyone. If you don’t get caught, it makes the whole experience more hollow. I’ve found that the people who cheat usually don’t cheat to win, or if they do, they’ll also cheat to win by more, which makes it less fun.

6 – Readily Getting Distracted/Checkout of the Game

This can happen for several reasons, but try not to. Firstly, again, it’s a game night, you’re hear to play a game, not to look at your phone, not to have a conversation with someone who is playing another game, or someone who just showed up at the expense of missing it’s you’re turn. It’s fine to chat, but don’t get so distracted you lose track of the game, hold it up by missing your turn, and then spend a while figuring out your turn because you weren’t paying attention to what everyone else did. Also, don’t checkout of a game because you think you can’t win. First, you might not be able to actually tell that. But also if you start playing worse than you were, you can king make or otherwise mess up the fun other people are having. See your strategy and plan through to the end.

Image Source: Haba

7 – Mistreating the Game

Now, as I’ve said, we have food at the table, so I’m not as strict about this as most people. In fact we’ve had Doritos and red wine (not the worlds tastiest combo) at the table before. But I’m talking about doing stuff intentionally to a game, or subconsciously. Don’t bend cards and throw pieces. Wipe off your fingers if you have Cheetos or Doritos’ dust on them before picking up pieces and cards. Just generally be respectful of other people’s property, it’s a common courtesy but be conscious of that, and resprect the rules the owner of the game has for their game.

So obviously some people in the thread were more clever than I was and created ones related to the actual seven deadly sins, but I thought it was an interesting topic for a gaming group and board gaming in general, so I wanted to write something up about it. Generally, I think that The RPG Academy gets it right with their motto, “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right”. So make sure that you’re having fun, and make sure that everyone at the table is as well and playing board games will be fun for everyone.

What are your rules for gaming?

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Board Game Mechanics – Real Time

Board Game Mechanics – Real Time

We’re back with another mechanic for a board game, not one that you see all that often, but one that covers what is really quite a breath of board games. If you are looking for fast paced tension, real time games are going to give