Tag: Harry Potter

Table Top Takes: Dominion

Table Top Takes: Dominion

Normally I do these reviews on games that I really enjoy. However, I thought it would be interesting to do a TableTopTakes on Dominion, a game that I have enjoyed but now that I don’t enjoy as much, and it’s still a very popular game.…

TableTopTakes: Bring Your Own Book

TableTopTakes: Bring Your Own Book

This is a different complexity of game than I normally review. Even when I talk about party style games, I normally don’t bring up the games that kind of play themselves. I’m talking about games like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. Bring Your…

GenCon Recap – The Con Games

GenCon Recap – The Con Games

Besides being a spot where a lot of new games are released, therea re also ticketed events that you can go to as well. In these, you can play board games, demo out new games, or play RPG’s. There’s never a shortage of things to do if you’re in these games or events. We decided to get into a few of these games, so here’s a quick rundown of how things went, and some thoughts on the game.

Image Source: GenCon

The first game that we played was a mid-Alpha version of a game called Roll Player Adventures. If you’re not as familiar what Alpha or Beta testing is, Alpha testing is when you’re testing out a concept and still fine tuning it. You’re seeing what works, what might not work, and taking notes on that, Beta testing is more focused. You have a professional or nearly professional looking copy of the game around and you can play through it, you’re just looking for those few flaws that are left, but the mechanics are generally locked in. This was the earlier stage, and there were things that were just pieces of paper, or the story book was just pages in a binder. With that said, this was one of the highlights of the con. The game play was already a ton of fun, the story in the game was good, and the table was great. Role Player Adventures is going to be a cooperative campaign game where you are winning the favor of different groups, fighting different monsters, and reading story as you go. The game it’s based off of Roll Player, is about rolling up your D&D character and manipulating the dice to get the best character possible, and this one allows you to use a character in a game for a real adventure. We had a good group, so it was a bunch of silly fun, and the story was well crafted so that it was serious, but also lighthearted at points.

The following day, we played an RPG to start our day. The game was run in the Savage Worlds system and themed around The Dresden Files. If you’ve read many posts, you know that I love The Dresden Files. It was an interesting game to play, and I definitely had a fun time playing it. However, I didn’t love the system that it was run in. Savage Worlds is meant to be that kind of setting agnostic system, where you can play a Dresden Files game in it, but you could also play a World War II game in it with no magic, or it could be a Sci-Fi game set on a far off planet. I don’t think that is a major flaw with the system, but as a person who played a magic user, I had spells that were all flavored with ice. The spell cards though, were just like “blast”, so my “ice blast” did “blast” damage, and it could have just as easily been fire damage, force damage, any sort of damage. It made the system too devoid of that flavor that would make a character seem unique. The game itself was fun, but I will knocked the GM for the game a little bit. We had the BBEG for the one-shot on the ropes in the first battle. Instead of just having this generic BBEG bite it, he had them escape after a lot of unlikely things happening. It would have been better to let us win, and then have the BBEG’s cousin show up later in the final battle to get his revenge. Overall, I had a good time, but it was lacking.

To end the day, we played Village Attacks. Village Attacks is a tower defense game. But as compared defense game where you are the heroes fending off wave after wave of bad guys. In this game, you’re the bad guys, who are fending off wave after wave of villager who is coming to your house with torches and pitchforks. We had a couple of different experiences with the game, but we both ended up liking it. I had a fun group to play with, and we bum rushed the objective of the game. The game played pretty fast, probably an hour and a half after being taught the game or a little bit less. And you feel the tension of the game as more and more bad guys are placed onto the board. The other cool thing was that we got the scenario, and the full set of scenarios that we played as well as some character sheets for moving some guys from another game into our game.The downside was that my friend got stuck in a game with a person who had slept 1 hour thus far for GenCon, didn’t pay attention to the rules, and then left for ten minutes to go get pop and didn’t actually help the team in this fully cooperative game. So that was frustrating, but my friend still liked the game a lot, and that led to the other downside, it’s hard to find the game right now. And both of us want it, because it’s a very fun game.

Image Source: Brain Games

The Saturday started out with the North American Championships for Ice Cool. And I love the game already, I learned a little bit from watching other players who were “better” than I was, and I made it to the semi finals. I won’t go into this too much, because I’ve already written about this game. Needless to say, it’s a game that I love, and playing in the tourney was a lot of fun. I might have been able to make it to the finals, but ran into a bunch of bad luck in the first round, which was just kind of funny. There were a few people who took this silly penguin flicking game too seriously, but overall, people where there to have fun.

Our other Saturday event wasn’t actually a game. We went to Hobbit Drinking Songs with Marc Gunn. That was just a funny old time, and even though he had some issues with his amp, the room was small enough that he was able to just play without the amplification and everyone could hear it. He’s a good performer and he has a lot of fun songs to sing. Also learned about ALEP (A Long Expected Party), Hobbit/Lord of the Rings event that happens in Kentucky. Seems like a small educational event and celebration of Tolkien’s works.

Sunday we were supposed to have two games. We actually skipped the first one, the Harry Potter miniatures game because the game just costs too much, so it wasn’t really worth the demo. We should have known because it was a miniatures game. But we did play in a win a box game with the new expansion for Marvel Legendary. That was a fun time, and I really liked the expansion. The most interesting part was that we were the only two people there, so that meant that one of us was winning the expansion, and with having spent $8 total between the two tickets, my friend who has collected most of Marvel Legendary, was able to get the game at a very discounted price. The expansion itself was a lot of fun, and we flew through the game, but just ran out of time at the end before dealing the killing blow, not because we were losing, but because we got started a bit late while seeing if other people would show up.

Overall, I think we planned out basically the perfect amount of gaming and events. With the Harry Potter Miniatures Game, I think that it would have been fun, but our Sunday would have felt a bit full. When we go back in the future, I think we’ll want to keep ourselves as busy as we were this time. A good balance of having things to do, but as you’ll learn in the next article, there is a lot to see and do on the dealer floor.

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GenCon Recap

GenCon Recap

There’s so much that I could talk about at GenCon, that I’m probably going to just be writing about it for the next week. But I wanted to start with a bit of recap, talk about some highlights, some things I’d do differently, and some…

GenCon Vol 2 – Events

GenCon Vol 2 – Events

Woo… we’ve reached the point where event registration is open for GenCon. Let’s talk a little about how the process went with getting registered for events. There are two big things to note that we did, since there were two of us, when when we…

Top 5: Deck Building

Top 5: Deck Building

So I normally do a lot of top fives at the end of the year in bigger categories, but I wanted to break it down for a few specific categories within board games so you can see what I really enjoy in the various genres and I’ll give my reasons why:

Magic the Gathering Background
Image Source: Wikipedia

5. Magic the Gathering
Normally I don’t have games on a deck building list like this. MtG, though, is a deck building game, you just aren’t doing it actively in the game. But I would argue that a lot of the fun of Magic, though I really do like the game, is trying to build out that crazy deck that just might work. I think that part of the game can become too much when people start to take the game too seriously and go all in on the pay to win model. But putting together a deck that just might work, that’s a lot of fun. Then you get to test it out, go back to the drawing board, and try again. I really liked to create decks that would build towards a big finish if I could stay alive long enough. Best way to describe it is building the ticking time bomb deck that you know will blow up, but you don’t know when.

4. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
A deck builder that has a good amount of theme. It feels, as you’re early in the game, that you’re playing through the books. The only odd thing is that you continue to add villains each game, so the further in you are, the more it feels like you’re playing through the series as compared to playing through a book. I wish that was different, but the cards themselves, and the characters as you open up more books and unlock more of the rules, feel like you’re playing as the different characters from the books and each has a different thing they are a bit better at, such as Hermoine with spells.

Image Source: Renegade Games

3. Clank! In! Space!
I really enjoy this game for the goofiness of the deck building. The cards are all references to various Sci-Fi shows, books, and movies. I also like it because it’s not something that is just a deck builder. You are building your deck, but you’re building it so that you can move around the space ship and gather the best treasure that you can. So the people you recruit and the cards you buy actually matter in the game for more than just something like victory points. The turns are also extremely fast in the game, which is great, because the game can take a little while to set-up with the modular board and all the different tokens and cards.

2. Xenoshyft: Onslaught
What you’ll notice about most of the games on the list is that they add a lot of plot to the game. Xenoshyft: Onslaught continues that as you are space marines fighting off waves and waves of bug monsters. What I like about this game is that you are using your cards and money to set-up your defenses for the next wave of bugs. So it has the theme of what you are doing, recruiting more troops and upgrading their equipment. I also like that you can help out your fellow players because if they are facing troubles in their lane of defense, you can help them prior to the wave of bugs or sometimes during the wave of bugs, so you can actually help build up someone else’s deck if you have your own engine working well already. It’s a very tough game, but I really like that about it, because you’re always feeling the pressure of getting the right pull.

Image Source: Fantasy Flight

1. Arkham Horror LCG
This game is amazing and I haven’t even played it a ton. It’s not your standard deck builder as you aren’t purchasing cards as you go, but between games you are gaining XP and upgrading cards or putting in new cards. Sometimes the scenarios even give you new cards you can add to your deck. This deck builder is closer to Magic the Gathering in the style you are building the deck because you build it prior to the game. But it is great because you have to build it in such a way to have some weaknesses that specific to your character(s) in the game, so each deck feels unique.

Now, just a few honorable mentions:
Century: Golem Edition & Not Alone, both great games, but they are really a hand builder versus a deck builder. The mechanics are pretty similar to deck building though, so can be HM’s
Marvel Legendary, I’m not the biggest fan of the game, some because there’s so much bloat that you end up just not getting the right combination of cards because you put together too odd a group of heroes. It can just be too swingy at times, but superheroes are awesome.
Aeon’s End/Aeon’s End: War Eternal/Aeon’s End Legacy, I’m going to be playing this soon, I’ve watched a playthrough of this game, it has enough extra going on with the monster you’re fighting and the spell slots, basically, that you can open up. It seems very interesting, and a deck builder that you don’t shuffle is very cool as you can theoretically stack the deck in your favor.

Image Source: Plan B Games

What’s missing from the list because I haven’t played enough or just didn’t like it that well:
Clearly there is no Dominion on the list. While Dominion is the grand daddy of them all, or at least the first super popular one, Dominion is a pretty boring game where the cards are themeless and could be anything. It’s a pure deck builder, but that’s about it.
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is also missing from the list, it’s a pretty cool epic game, however, it’s supposed to be RPG like, and leveling up is just too slow. The game just needs to move a little bit faster. The same thing is the case with Shadowrun: Crossfire. I love the setting, and the game is cool, but the original printing was also just too slow to build to the cool things. I think that Harry Potter is the game that could be like this, bu t you feel cooler much faster.

What are your favorite deck builders? Which games would you recommend to people?

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Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy, what is it? And how do you create good urban fantasy? I’ve mentioned Urban Fantasy before in some articles, but I wanted to delve deeper into it and provide some more examples beyond my normal one. Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has…

2018 Top 5: Books/Series

2018 Top 5: Books/Series

I always have to add in series, because a lot of the time, my favorite is because they are a series. And a good series can really take a good book and bring it to another level. I’ve also written about bad series before, but…

A Series of Unfortunate Books

A Series of Unfortunate Books

First, let me say that I’m not knocking a Series of Unfortunate Events, I actually enjoyed that series when I read it in high school. The option of using that as a title was just too good.

What I am talking about is how series are crafted and issues that can be ran into when creating a series. Like most of these topics, it’s come about because I read a book, watched a show, heard something about a game, or something along those lines that I thought is important and could be done better than it is often or sometimes anyways. I also want to get out of the way, I don’t think this book, Arsenal (Full Metal Superhero Book 1) was a bad story and poorly written and not worth anyone’s time, I just have some issues with the fact that to get a full books worth of story, you’re going to have to continue the series, Arsenal felt like an opening act.

Image Credit: Amazon

Let’s start out this article with wondering if you should even be writing a series. I do think there are multiple reasons to write a series and I think there are some that do it fantastically. For example, Harry Potter, that makes perfect sense to be a series and not just tell Harry and Voldemort’s story in a single book. It would have felt rushed and there is a lot to explore in the world that Rowling does a good job doing in that series, no comments about the other stuff she’s doing now. She had a clear vision for each book and a clear story to tell in each book as well as clear elements of the over arcing story that she was telling. The Dresden Files does the same thing very well with clear stories but after the first book or so, a clear plot running through all of the books. Maybe you just have to have a main character named Harry who is a wizard to write good series (if there’s any piece of advice to take, this is it, I’m sure).

However, in Arsenal, it didn’t feel like that was the case. The first book was the opening act of a larger story with no real tension to the story. You had an idea of what the overall story for the series is going to be, but the first book fell flat on delivering it’s own contained story. One could argue that it’s Arsenal’s story of her joining the superhero team, but there isn’t tension surrounding that part of the story as it’s resolved quite quickly in the book and her probationary period doesn’t seem like a situation where she’s ever not going to become a full member of the team.

Image Source: Amazon

Beyond having a number of self contained stories, it could also be that your story is just too epic to tell in a single book. There’s a danger with telling a single epic story like this, though, you have to have some sort of plot to drive the story for each book in the series. Again, Harry Potter and The Dresden Files do a good job of that. That’s actually one of the non-trope based knocks I have on The Warded Man as the first book of the Demon Cycle. While there is some plot that drives the book throughout that seems like it is the main plot of the first book, it falls into the trap of not having much of a plot for the book and focusing only on series plot instead. I think that is some of why it had so much exposition and backstory for all the characters that felt like it was overdone.

I’ve already talked about it some, but when you’ve decided to do a series, trilogy or longer really, there is one huge thing that you have to do to make sure that each book feels like a complete book. This is the part I really want to drive home. Even though you have the most epic story for your series, each book in the series is going to have it’s own complete story as well. An obvious example of something that most people know about that fails to do this completely is Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, after a smashing success with the first movie, they planned on several more of them and decided with Dead Man’s Chest that they didn’t need tell a complete story because they were going to wrap it up in At World’s End. Viewed together, they make a good complete story, however, when you were spending money to get see Dead Man’s Chest in the theaters you felt like you were ripped off because you had to come and see the next one to fully get the whole story.

Image Source: IMDb

This is actually why I haven’t continued Arsenal (Full Metal Superhero) yet, because I don’t know that I want to spend Audible credits to continue a story that I know I might have to listen to all of them to get the full story. It’s the idea that I have to do something to really get the story and that there is a very specific amount that I have to spend on the story. If you were to stop after book three of Harry Potter, sure you wouldn’t have the full story of everything that happens in that magical world, but you’d have had a good experience with those stories. It’s the same with the Dresden Files, now obviously, you’ll get more out of reading the whole story, and the same was true with Pirates of the Caribbean, but as an creator, it isn’t your job to force people to give you money to get a whole story. They should be getting a whole story every time, because that’s what they’ve paid for. Then if you’ve written your story well, people are going to want to come back and people are going to recommend your story to others. While I am mentioning Arsenal and that might get some of you interested in reading it, I’m not going to recommend it, because it fails at this tenant of creating a good series and I can’t with good conscience recommend that people spend their money on the whole series to get a whole story.

So quick recap as this wraps up. Make sure that you actually need a series to tell your story. If the over arcing story isn’t so big that you need to, don’t draw it out. You’ll end up with a lot of filler that people don’t want to read and turn people away from your series. Also, and most key, make sure that every book has a self contained story to it. Every book should feel like it’s reached a conclusion and that the consumer got their money’s worth.  And finally, if all else fails, name a wizard character Harry and go from there to see what happens.

What are some of your favorite series, either movie, books, or anything else that you think does a very good job?


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High or Low – Magic in Writing and RPG’s

High or Low – Magic in Writing and RPG’s

When I was writing about fantasy last, see the Not Your Normal Fantasy article, I touched on a concept that I really didn’t have time to flesh out. That what the difference between high and low magic fantasy settings are. Let’s jump into the top…