5 Classic 90s Cartoons that NEED Board Game Adaptations

Now, you guys are gunna go ahead and tell me that all of these already HAVE board games, but I’ll believe it when I hear it.

So then what I’m talking about here are clearly just games that I am not aware of, but probably have been made already due to the fact that most of them are already popular and successful IPs in their own right. Make sense? No, probably not.

So if you can imagine this, me, being a child at one point in my life. Most probably a while ago but I was a child at some point, and during that short stint as a mentally underdeveloped adult there were amazing and incredible cartoons on TV (much as there probably are still now, I just don’t know what they are any more as I don’t have children and/or am not an 8 year old). These included small babies talking to each other and causing mischief, an even smaller child concocting experiments in a secret lab whilst his sister proceeded to ruin everything, and an overly macho and womanising douchebag called Jonathon.

Now, as a way to possibly relive my youth for an unsustainable and incredibly brief period of time I have decided to revisit some of them, and also imagine how they could be made into something that more closely fits my new, more adult hobby, of board games (YES it’s an adult hobby, no need to laugh!)

1. Pinky & The Brain

Imagine a world where 2 pesky rodents where always on the verge of becoming the leaders of a borderline   fascist dictatorship. THIS is the world of Pinky and the Brain. Now, if you havn’t seen it, I’ll simply explain it this way. One very smart mouse plots to take over the world yet  is always inevitably foiled by his unfortunately stupid companion. Presumably Pinky just wanted to feel like he wasn’t being left out but the lesson here was that you shouldn’t be nice to dumb people just because they want to  be part of your plans for world domination. That’s a surefire way to failure my friend, much as The Brain learnt repeatedly across a 10 minute slot of our Saturday morning TV programming.

Good moral lesson there though clearly.

Basically, I just want a 2 player board game that has you team up to execute a plan to conquer the world. It would play out as scenarios, involve a Sherlock: Consulting Detective level of investigating and planning, and culminate in you either taking over the world or failing miserably.

2. Dexter’s Laboratory

A wonderful fan favourite for those lucky kids that had Cartoon Network. For the rest of us, we just had to have sleepovers at friends houses and binge on Dexters Laboratory for 8 hours before heading back to the basic terrestrial TV selection at home. Oh, what a tough life! How dare our parents deprive us of the deeply educational nature of having access to a 24 hour cartoon channel. How dare they indeed!

Dexters Lab for those of you who don’t know, involved a tiny boy who was a science genius, having everything ruined by his annoying sister. Not dissimilar to the setup for Pinky and The Brain if I’m honest.

Imagine this; a game where you all play Dexter or one of his scientist friends, concocting experiments and robots to rid the world of an evil genius boy super  villain. Except one of the players is secretly Dee Dee, and plots to ruin all of the experiments, taking sides with the boy super villain for some super important reason like ‘he was really cute’ or something equally ‘Dee Dee’. Way to gender stereotype 90s cartoons.

3. Ed, Edd n Eddy

Sticking with the Cartoon Network (or maybe Nickolodeon) shows here, Ed, Edd n Eddy sees 3 idiot friends do dumb boy stuff and get away with it for the most part. It’s one of those shows where the parents are always too tall to fit on the cameras, their heads in the clouds and their ominous yet friendly voices resounding from the heavens. Go go gadget appealing to the key demographic!

Wouldn’t it be great to have a simple card game though, everybody plays an ‘Ed’, and competes with each other to build or construct the most ridiculous prank or contraption, before inevitably getting grounded. Last person standing without being grounded wins!

4. Rugrats

See, I never watched the rugrats much but I felt obliged to add them to this list simply for their cartoon pedigree. It was a staple of any 90s kid’s cartoon diet. A look into the minds and lives of small babies who each have very distinct and unique personalities and characteristics reminiscent of a sitcom. Or maybe even a soap opera for that matter. I can hear the them song in my head as I write this (also pretty sure 90% of kids from the 90s can play it on piano).

This game though is about a group of children being left alone or getting lost in various locations, and having to work together as a team to figure out how to get back to your parents. Cue typical traitor mechanic, cue etc etc.

Either that or you just all compete as babies in the baby ring to become baby king. Seems pretty cool.

5. Powerpuff Girls

Last but by no means least we have the classic and unforgettable power puff girls. Featuring no other than the best named bad guy in all of Cartoon history (don’t quote me on that)… Mojo Jojo.

So basically, you’re telling me the story is a guy who was sad about… something, biologically engineered 3 super human and superhero children, to you know, comfort him in life and also take on the worlds most notorious criminal and super villain, a giant green monkey with a funny name.

Cool! Got it. Totally on board.

Maybe the board game for this would involve hidden movement, one person plays Mojo Jojo secretly moving around some… place, crime scene or something. He is trying to steal the secret key for something important or where there is a lot of money, and you; the Powerpuff Girls, are working together (using your powers) to find Mojo Jojo and stop him before it’s too late!

Sounds pretty good to me.

Yours cartoonishly,

Chris

5 Board Games that sound like Bad Holiday Novels (you know, the crap ones you only buy at the airport)

Picture, this. You walk into the airport at god knows what time in the morning, on your way to a lovely package holiday to somewhere sunny because who the shit would want to live in this godforsaken place for any longer than absolutely necessary. It rains, it snows, it sleets, it winds, it storms and it lightnings sometimes. Gross.

Then, for a second as you make your way through the over handsy security check, you remember… a book! I don’t have a book to read! How else will you spend the precious time roasting myself alive in the sun without a good (subjective), cliched and trashy holiday book to read. And we all know you don’t have a kindle because those are a magical and fascinating technology that you both a. don’t understand, and 2. think are weird and don’t have the same ‘feel’ as book. Not to mention the fact that they take up far less room, how dare they! I want my suitcase crammed with kilograms of literally hundreds of sheets of paper obviously! None of that magic voodoo kindle shit.

Then there is a glimpse, a flicker in the corner of the room. The light from the moon (because it’s still the night, the cheap flights leave at 3am don’t you know) sends a glimmer off an overly glossy front cover in the distance. You have no idea what the book is called because the name on the cover is so gargantuanly (definitely a word) huge, that the only way to gauge what the book is about is by guessing from the overly graphic and erotic illustration on the front. It depicts a man with hair that definitely needs a cut, caressing a (normally very respectful I assume) lady who has accidentally let her silky nightgown fall to almost far enough to warrant it being soft core pornography.

The perfect holiday romance novel. I’ll buy it!

I would too.

(Just FYI none of these novels are real. I’ve literally just made them up for fun. At least I found it fun… tells you a lot about me really. Or not, I’ve honestly no idea.)

1. Russian Railroads

The Game: A train theme game that sees players compete to be totally industrious and very strategically minded railroad owners, competing to have the best most shiniest railroad in all of Russia (I assume, clue’s in the name there.)

The Novel: A murder most foul, on a train journey so long. Who could possible figure out whodunnit?! Except for everybody reading this book about halfway through of course! By jove, he’s killed him by coal poisoning (IT’S A THING OK, didn’t check it but definitely a thing.) With a strange and almost… randomly selected bunch of characters that could almost resemble someones actual friends and family in real life (yes, I’m looking at you, the AUTHOR OF THIS FICTICIOUS BOOK.)

When did the murder happen (the book tells you), and who could have possibly committed the crime (it’s the creepy looking guy  in the corner), we won’t possibly know until we finish reading… Russian Railroads.

Totally Buying it.

2. Santorini

The Game: An excellent and amazingly well designed 2-player abstract affair, designed around the theme of the actual place Santorini, and it’s history.

The Novel: A sordid love triangle unravels in fits of passion and lust on one of the most sun-kissed isles of the southern Italian coast. Who knows exactly where this incredible and winding story of romance and erotica could take us, except for maybe… somewhere, not very interesting. The characters all suffer from a sense of wanderlust and their dialogue is stinted and forced. Think of this as more… 50 shades of beige, with a bad package holiday backdrop. The only thing getting turned on here is the  self-indulgent author and their wildly inaccurate and flailing fantasies.

Hurray for holiday books!

3. Captain Sonar

The Game: Judging from the cover of this game it looks like you play a guy called ‘Captain Sonar’ (I assume), who can somehow balance a small submarine on one hand whilst simultaneously rocking a very solid crew cut. From the description on Board Game Geek, this is  actually a 2 team co-op game which sees 2 opposing teams (obviously), taking different roles on a submarine in an attempt to fire a torpedo in the right direction first, and blow the other team up. Fun!

The Novel: Man I sure do love superheroes. Especially when they are absolutely and completely made up just for the sake of a quick cash in with the current marvel/DC/comic book movie bandwagon! Captain Sonar, I bet his power is incredible! Like he can find out how deep in the sea stuff is by bouncing his sonar voice off of it. Or find out how deep a hole is by bouncing his sonar voice off to it. Wow! What an amazing power, I wish I could do that.

In fact he was the subject of a very terrible and gruesome ‘sonar experiment’ when he was in his early twenties. He was part of a environmental wellbeing activist group who were testing out some dangerous sonar experiments to find out some stuff about things under water and guess what! He was diving at the time! Oh gosh no! What a series of dramatic and noteworthy events! This led him to develop his crazy sonar power and go on to save many fish and find lots of cool stuff under the seas and oceans of the world.

Whilst also finding his true love (gotta get the sub-plot in there).

4. Navegador

The Game: Oooo it’s a euro affair alright.  I think. At least , it’s a fairly heavy strategy affair as games go, and sees players collecting things, trading things, hiring people to do things. All in the good old fashioned name of combining your privileges with your achievements. Easy!

The Novel: Ooo, what does the name mean, it’s so mysterious I bet this will be good! Actually the opposite couldn’t be any closer to the truth, but that’s why you bought it in the first place! I mean who cares if the name itself even means anything, or if it’s just a randomly selected group of seemingly illegible vowels and consonants. Not me!

Imagine, a far off land of mystery and intrigue. A desert with hot springs and a marketplace with camels and… other stuff they have in hot climates. The plot reminds you a bit of a cartoon version of almost exactly the same story, one where he’s, shall I say, ‘one step, ahead of the hoodwinks’, and he  ‘only steals what he can’t afford.’ Which in the life of this guy is really, pretty much everything. How can we possibly be convinced to root for such an untoward and generally quite scruffy thief you ask? Well, we can’t. That sort of thing is against the law don’t you know, and the writing certainly isn’t convincing anybody.

5. In the Year of the Dragon

The Game: Players play rounds (months) in a bid to try and survive through the ‘year of the dragon.’ That’s where the name comes from at least.

The Novel: A Borderline racist war thriller based in feudal China. The person who wrote this novel wears a kimono on the reg despite not having any family ties to the far east, and loves to tell everybody about their amazing Mandarin tattoo (not the orange you idiot). It means peace and love though. Sure it does…

For some reason throughout the book everybody keeps referring to ‘the emperor,’ despite the fact that we have absolutely no idea who this emperor is, or what purpose he serves the story, except for some bland historical rhetoric. The protagonist is a particularly moody fellow with no relatable characteristics and for some reason is seemingly willing to simply throw himself headfirst into any and every unstable conflict going. The book ends with him just straight up dying. Guess it should be emotional but to be honest I’m glad the moody bugger is dead.

The end.

Yours bookingly,

Chris

How Tabletop Video Play-throughs are taking over from Rulebooks

So what if there was some other magical and wonderful way of learning how to play tabletop games other than just simply sitting down and reading the manual like a normal human being?

Well, there is! And they are becoming more and more commonplace across popular video sharing  hub: Youtube. Check one out for yourself!

It seems that across the wonderful world of the internet, tabletop play through videos have become… a thing. And it works two-fold for game publishers, because these act both as a marketing tool AND an actual way of getting people to you know… understand the game you’ve made before buying it.

Plus they are just way more fun than actually reading through a manual, which brings me to the question that titles this post. Exactly how are tabletop playthrough videos slowly evolving into a key part of tabletop game componentry (totally a word, don’t google it).

Here’s how…

1. Play-throughs are generally way less boring

Yes, I just alluded to this literally a second ago! ‘You’re just padding articles with duplicate content’ I hear you cry.

Well, sure, maybe I am (I am). BUT, this point stands! It’s  true promise.

I mean I guess it depends on how you ‘learn’ as a person, whether you’re more of a practical or visual learner for example, as opposed to a… logical learner? Or whatever the other type of learner is.

All I know is that rulebooks and manuals can be REALLY boring. Sure you need them to actually understand the game properly, but for an initial gameplay and mechanics introduction, play through videos, that’s where it’s at.

Quote me on that.

Or don’t.

2. Play-throughs explain things in a human way

Yes. Gotta get a bit of JB into the article somehow you know. I reckon everyone into board games also way loves Justin. Those demographics just NATURALLY crossover amiright?!

No?

Sure. The first stage is denial.

Regardless of how human or not human the Beebs is, tabletop play throughs ARE more human. Than rulebooks at least. Not Justin. Don’t get confused here.

What I mean by that is that they explain the game in a human way, not just through mechanics or technicalities. My point here (and one of my bugbears with a lot of game manuals), is that the aim of the game is usually always up front, that gives the context that viewers need to all of the intricate and complex gameplay mechanics. Hurrah!

3. Play-throughs are generally way less confusing

It’s true guys, sometimes when you read a game manual you get ALL SUPER CONFUSED, because you’ve never played the game before, and now you’re being expected to understand things that HAPPEN in that game, without even seeing it happen in front of you.

Except now you can. Literally see people playing the game whilst explaining it, and probably even getting confused themselves. So you don’t have to!

And we all could do with a little less confusion in our lives.

Probably. Or maybe your life is just really really not confusing at all, in which case, congrats!

4. Play-throughs provide context

Ohhhh this takes me back!

To a comment I made about 2 paragraphs ago. CONTEXT. It is the key!

The key to the door of understanding that is. Hah! Jokes ahoy everybody, would you look at that. By jove and other old-timey sayings.

Context is watching a video explaining the super complicated rules of something, and being able to immediately understand it because you attach that explanation to literally somebody playing the actual game right in front of your face.

Context is watching a video where people play through a tabletop game and come up with all the questions you would have on the first play through, so you don’t have to!

Context, just gives you a better way of understanding basically.

Everybody loves context. All-together now; ‘WE. LOVE. CONT… no?’

Fine, don’t join in sheesh.

Yours play throughily (sure),

Chris

Tabletop & Board Game Coldness – Autumn/Fall 2017

*Drum roll please* …Introducing, the Tabletop COLDness! For Autumn 2017.

Very similar to the hotness, this instead is a list  of 5 of the more under the radar and lesser known games releases. So kind of the opposite of the hotness, in which case it’s not similar at all.

I mean, it’s a list at least, so there is THAT.

Thing is, and I know you’re going to say it whilst reading through, ‘Oh, I already know about these because I’m like a way super cool guy who knows ALL of the upcoming releases and these aren’t even CLOSE to underground!’

To that person I say so what, I admit it these might be a bit obvious… maybe. But I’m writing this list from me, to you, as a gift. And that gift is to divulge my most wondrous and excitably received, under the radar and only slightly lesser well know board game and tabletop releases for Autumn 2017!

Let it begin!

1. Someone has Died

This one’s only just gone up on Kickstarter, so if you’re into proving that you’re worth the inheritance of a tenuously connected dead relative then go back it right now gosh darn it!

This game clearly had me from the word ‘died’, which as a starting point is honestly a great backup theme for ANY tabletop game. Pretty much all good games involve death of some kind, pretty sure of that…

‘But lots of games nowadays are family friendly and have to specifically focus on themes that aren’t death related’ you say. Ok, sure you’re right. This doesn’t fit into that category though.

Essentially, you find yourself with an identity, and a strange and interesting connection to a dead relative, and are then pitched against  other players to improvise answers to a series of questions as to why  YOU should inherit the voluminous fortune of the deceased, and not them. You thieving bastard. How  could you!

Hilarity ensues.

2. Whitehall Mystery

Ok so this might just be the most ‘know about’ game on this list. Essentially a rehash of a previous ‘whitechapel’ title, this is a rework, and a MUCH better one at that.

Also, it’s a hidden movement game, which for me basically means that one person gets to go all ‘bond villain’ and periodically start to chuckle maniacally behind a dungeon master style screen whilst casually plotting to escape from a series of murders most foul. Exciting! Isn’t it just.

I love a game with secret hidden motives though, and this one proves not to disappoint. Just think of it as Dracula’s Fury but like, way less complicated and only slightly shorter.

Plus Jack the Ripper is just a way fun theme. You know, in a horrible ‘this could have been real and some actual proper nasty things did take place in some people’s lives’ kinda way.

3. Itchy Feet

Look at those tiny little travelling men! Holy baloney.

And the colour palette! Dreamy.

I’m having a design freak out over here, even the icons nicely reflect the overall tone of the game (even if the font is a little unreadable at small sizes).

Plus, travelling seems like a cool theme for a game because I never took the time in my youth to travel around all the places I wanted to go and I definitely don’t regret that. Honest.

Instead I’ll have an amazingly illustrated set of cards in a game about travelling where I can simply pretend to go globetrotting with my pals and make life long memories that will shape me better as a human being. Yeah definitely no regret there.

4. Yummy Yummy Pancake

Who is naming these games now come on. What a name though. Not just one yummy. TWO YUMMIES. That’s double yummy people. And pancakes are yummy, so this game is already a spot on accurate and realistic portrayal of life. I can totally relate!

If you didn’t  realise I’ve literally just put this on the list for the name alone. For all I know it could be nothing to do with pancakes. What can I say, I know when a theme just speaks to me.

10/10 no review needed.

Top tip for game developers. Name your games after yummy food. Then tell me again how yummy it is.

5. Potato Pirates

Oh I do love it when things string together so nicely. We’ve got a food theme here guys, this time though it’s swashbuckling potatoes. It’s another that’s currently running on Kickstarter as well!

Not only that, but they are TEACHING US CODE. Yeah exactly. Move over code academy and lynda.com, I’m gunna become a senior front end engineer simply from playing this card game ok.

Maybe not quite true, but for kids this is excellent! Games are fun, there are potatoes and pirates in it, I bet when you play you won’t even REALISE you’re learning about object oriented programming languages accidentally.

Win/Win if you ask me.

Yours coldly,

Chris

The D&D Tabletop Etiquette Handbook (aka how to not be a dick)

I can 100% understand that playing D&D for the first time is an incredibly daunting and potentially intimidating experience. At least that’s the stigma that surrounds it.

Thing is though, it’s not! At least, it shouldn’t be. We’ve come to the point in society now, where it’s no longer weird to sit down at a table together and play a made up fantastical character, with a group of other people in a bid to defeat evil (or whatever befalls your path), and emerge on the other side triumphant (or dead). Totally normal you guys! Don’t say you didn’t hear it here first…

It’s kind of always been normal though. Just that those who didn’t understand it for what it is felt somewhat ‘weirded out’ by it, or proceeded to argue about how football was cooler  before placing us in a garbage can and rolling us down the nearest hill. Either that or some other totally plausible and definitely not ficticious form of stereotypical youth related mistreatment.

Despite all of those wildly cliched acts of bullying however, all of us stayed the course and emerged on the other side at a point where lo and behold, this gosh darn hobby is actually popular for some reason! Maybe because it’s moderately to quite fun. That’ll be it!

Consider this then the definitive list, of all  the do’s and don’ts of being a productive and friendly, go-getting type of D&D player that everybody will totally love. The kind where everybody talks about what cool stuff you did together  after the session, rather than the kind where everybody wishes they hadn’t invited you to this campaign.

Don’t decide someone else’s actions for them

Woah! Calm down there angry generic office dude shouting at someone who clearly just picked the wrong tie for the day. This isn’t crazy tie tuesday Barry! Go back home and change immeeeeediately! Idiot.

Worst thing ever. When you’re playing D&D and somebody railroads your idea, or your turn, or your entire ENCOUNTER just to force everybody down a route that they don’t want to go down. Barry, I know it’s just a crazy tie, but that crazy tie affects EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE ENTIRE OFFICE. Stop bringing us down with your crazy tie vibes, trying to get every one to wear the same crazy tie as you. Some of us  like wearing a plain old boring red tie, ok!?

Basically, just don’t decide someone else’s actions for them. EVEN if it’s a life or death matter (of your character, not an ACTUAL life or death matter), never force another player to do something YOU think is right.

Do Bring your own dice

Or, crazy idea, MAKE your own dice. Simply cut out the paper above and voila, your very own rubbish paper d6. Amazing! Now, only the d4s, d8s, d10s, d12s and d20s to go. Oh wait, I forgot the percentage dice. That as well. Good luck!

Experience says bringing your own dice is just good practice and good etiquette. It makes everything smoother and easier, you don’t have to keep rummaging around for somebody else’s dice and interrupting the flow of the game. And you can rest assured that YOUR dice aren’t stupid and ridiculous like some people’s. Yeah I’m looking at you BARRY.

Do know your character

Firstly, who wouldn’t buy a magical talking dog. That would be like, the best thing ever to happen in D&D ever. A talking dog! Come on, you know you want one…

Knowing your character doens’t have to be hard though. This just means you should know kind of what abilities you have, kind of your modifiers, and kind of what sort of thing your character is good at, so that if you are put on the spot a bit in any situation, you kind of know roughly what to do in said situation.

That said sometimes not having a clue leads to the funniest stories. Not everybody can be the bumbling adventurer with no clue though. Or maybe they can actually…

Don’t Meta game

Yeah yeah, I go on and on and on about this one all the time. Hey, Chris, you talk about meta gaming in like, EVERY article ever. Why not write about something different for a change you over repetitive HACK.

Well, thanks for the personal attack but no, I will not write about anything different. Not at least until the WILL OF THE WORLD HAS CHANGED AND THE UNHOLIEST OF HOLY META GAMERS HAS BEEN SMOTE FROM THIS EARTH BY THE GOOD LORD METHUSALA AND THE WRATH OF A THOUSAND AGES HAS BEEN RAINED DOWN ON THEM…

I can skip the deception check there right?

Do make game decisions based on how your character would react

IF your character would enjoy ice cream, then GO GET SOME RUDDY ICE CREAM ALREADY.

It’s merely a coincidence that I also happen to like ice cream in real life as well, ok!?

Don’t be afraid to speak in your characters voice

This is literally why I always play the dumb dwarven fighter, it limits my vocabulary in game and thus allows me to get very very very drunk and still remain ‘on brand’ as it were.

Ok, well maybe I don’t always play the dwarven fighter… BUT it sure would be a good way to be able to drink too much beer and not piss the other people off at the table. Dwarven pale ale it is then!

Don’t take it too seriously

You can kind of forget all the other points I rambled on about to be honest because as USUAL with my blog posts, the last point is really the only one that matters in the entire piece. And that’s the case AGAIN with this.

Stop worrying too much people, D&D isn’t this big scary thing that’s really hard to be a part of.

All D&D literally is, is a group of friends, sitting round, having some food and drink, and fake playing some characters out to kill a big evil monster for some reason. Have fun with it!

Yours etiquettily,

Chris

I Played D&D for the First Time in Years and it was Enlightening (in a GOOD way)

It’s been a long time (ticky ticky), shouldn’t have left you (left you)… without a dope beat to step too.

Right, sorry, bad reference to a song nobody remembers from the 90s.  What I meant to say is WHY did I stop playing D&D? I mean, apart from the lack of a regular group and the extra lack of a motivation to spend time on something that clearly wasn’t a priority side project (like this is of course, can’t you tell? It’s  so well written and always published on time…).

My problem was that I always wanted to play DM, which sure, is maybe a little outside of the norm, but someone has to do it right? Nobody else wanted to so I jumped in head first. Which by the way is the correct way to jump in. Head first. Just FYI.

Legal disclaimer: I can claim no responsibility from any ACTUAL injury sustained from jumping into anything head first. Especially things that are not water or… air? (I’m looking at you, you base jumping, skydiving nutcase)

Something miraculous happened recently though. Someone in a D&D group that I had friends in was ill. Isn’t illness great! Three cheers for illness, I bet they felt terrible! Ok that was a bit harsh. But still!

What it meant though was that I could immediately step in to heroically ruin and destroy the very fibre and essence of the character that they had spent so long lovingly levelling up, growing and shaping, in the space of only a few hours! A challenge I jumped into… well, head first obviously.

I got 99 problems but DM ain’t one

For once I was glad I wasn’t playing DM, but to be clear DM doesn’t come without its unique challenges and prerequisite knowledge of a LOT of things. I’m talking about things BEYOND just knowing the rules here. Like how to successfully engage all players socially, or how to set an early precedent for role playing even when several people may have hangovers.

Our wonderful DM for the session took us through the Vestani encampment and a furiously burning (nothing to do with that fireball that hit a tree) forest  within the classic  D&D creepfest of the Strahd campaign. All the while we simply bumbled and fumbled our way through each encounter to the next. We were intrepid, excited but very very badly organised.

Now this is where I get to my first quandary with pre-created campaigns in that a large chunk of the encounters can sometimes feel random and pointless, but then again, isn’t REAL life just full of random and pointless encounters anyway… oh  LIFE, you prankster you!

Tony & Guy

One such instance had us bump into a shaggy haired fella (whom we affectionately named ‘Tony’), only for werewolves further down the road to attack us ferociously because we didn’t pay his ridiculous ‘anti-werewolf tax.’ I was always taught as a kid not to give any money to strangers no matter how many fantasy horrors or teen goth romance  novel characters I was threatened with. Apparently that BASIC and most well known of childhood lessons just doesn’t pan out  in D&D. Who knew.

I was especially miffed when Tony himself turned out to actually be the  werewolf he was attempting to ‘protect’ us from in the first place! The cheek. I’m chalking that one up to miscommunication on behalf of Tony. Dress up a bit nicer next time Tony and get some professionalism to your social interactions. THEN I might be encouraged to give you a few gold pieces, even if just for being a polite and dapper gent.

He’s Worth It

My character at least was fabulous. The infamous High Elf ‘L’oreal’, with hair like gold wavey… waving stuff, waving about in the wind. Ooo, so wavey, how do you get those waves L’oreal?

It’s just natural babe, I’m worth it.

Genuinely ok if you choose to stop reading there, I deserve it for that low hanging fruit of a joke.

My one fatal character flaw was that I at some point had caused the downfall of my tribe, which although being fairly nondescript, is also a pretty godawful thing to have done as a lawful neutral elf with amazing hair. Most people don’t even come halfway close to causing the downfall of even much smaller things, like for instance, the life and health of their pet dog ‘Biff,’ let alone the whole god freaking damn tribe. Fuck me L’oreal.

Our party was also composed of 3 other interesting characters, including but not limited to a Dwarf who just wanted to sell people his DPA (Dwarven pale ale FYI; which I proceeded to sneak out of his tent during an extended nap in order to drum up some business, but just ended up getting drunk with the locals and starting a tribal dance party through the camp. Standard).

The Imagination Frustration

The Imagination frustration is my name for one of the most common of problems when it comes to D&D campaigns: the encounters can get SAMEY.

Same dungeon, same monsters, same set up, same objects in the room, etc etc.

Fortunately that wasn’t the case for my brief time playing L’oreal.

Now in my opinion one of the areas where D&D always works well is in small and interesting encounters with monsters and bosses that are WAY out of your pay grade. I mean like; we need the Avengers to sort this out because we are just running around like idiots who like to play with magic and then very quickly die, whilst simultaneously the evil boss guy flies away, cackling maniacally having suffered basically zero damage.

And that’s exactly what happened, but it was great! Having tied ourselves to the subject of our boring escort quest, she proceeded to wake us up in the night, ask to go for a pee whilst we followed, only to see this bloody Count Vampire boss guy,  idly standing by a tree and  drinking her gosh darn blood. From the neck as well. I mean that’s just unhygenic for starters. Although, I imagine he carries some form of ‘vampire cleansing wipes’ around with him for these exact situations. No harm in being clean even if you are an abomination of pure evil. Priorities.

Gaming the System

As with all D&D sessions, there is a fine balance between meta, and just playing normally. This mostly only happens with those people who LOVE to min/max, and who can’t  HELP but always ask a hundred questions to try and wriggle around a situation, but it can creep into any session.

Just ask yourself; ‘What would my character do,’ the answer is usually ‘not ask about rolling a perception check for a certain aspect of a rule you just remembered that applied to some form of illustion spell.’ Unless you are playing a character who then also plays D&D within D&D, like some kind of weird D&D-meta-inception. What if the character you play is also a meta gamer.

Doesn’t bear thinking about.

The Situational Intricacies of not Dying

The only thing slightly worrying about playing somebody else’s character though, is an underlying sense of innate responsibility.

This on a surface level is about choosing the right abilities when they level up, using the right skills in battle, etc, but actually translates on a much more realistic level to: DON’T LET THEM DIE.

Initially a struggle due to my immediately getting bitten in the neck by a vampire in the first encounter and loosing 80% of my hit points… and then still a struggle in the second encounter. I got mobbed by werewolves, took almost my whole health in damaged, and then used my athletic prowess to jump up a tree and just sit still for a very prolonged period of time, kind of just bleeding all over the foliage. Picturesque.

Finding Fun in Chaos

And that’s what D&D stands for for me really. Finding fun in all of those ridiculous encounters and situations, and not feeling pressured to know EVERY bit of the rules but to just go with the game, get into character and really just be a bit of an idiot for a few hours.

Oh, and it helps to not kill your character in the process as well.

RIP L’oreal.

Kidding, he’s still alive really.

Or is he…

He is.

Yours vampirically,

Chris

Tabletop & Board Game Hotness – Autumn/Fall 2017

*Drum roll please* …Introducing, the Tabletop Hotness! (And coldness, to follow next week) For Autumn 2017 (or Fall if you’re from the other side of the Atlantic).

Yes, the name sounds a bit ridiculous, but what we have here is something a little special, something that only comes around once every season. Yes, it is in fact the wonderful and amazing news that I’ll be writing up a list of the both the hottest new games for the season (the hotness), plus a list of seasonal games I consider to be flying under the radar a little right now (the coldness).

A list of the best games coming out? ‘Revlutionary!’ I hear you cry. Well, sure it may not be revolutionary, but at least once every season, you’ll be able to see at a glance what the big releases are, and what games I feel you should be on the lookout for. Think of it like professional gambling advice, but for board games and tabletop games. Oh, and definitely not professional.

First up…

1. Unearth

This game looks STUNNING, and has 2 to 4 players ‘bending their luck’, with their ‘tribe’ of dice, to draft cards and claim ruins and stones and other fun things.

Said ruins look incredible, so naturally, you will WANT to collect them. This one has been receiving a lot of praise for a while and justifiably so. It’s simple, looks amazing, and also manages to incorporate dice in a way that doesn’t make people with commically aggressive voices exclaim  ‘WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DICE, AAAARGH DICEEE!’ and then flip the table. Which is nice in a way.

2. Lisboa

This one is a beast, but as much as Unearth looks incredible. The game is designed around such an overdone theme;  the rebuilding and planned development of a really old european city after the devastation of a particularly nasty earthquake in 1755. Be at least a bit original guys. Sheesh.

The hype around this one was huge again, except on the opposite end of the complexity scale to Unearth, this game is an absolute beast.  It’s a heavy game through and through, with strategy galore, and a board that features like, A LOT of pieces and things all over the place. They do look nice though, which is a bonus.

This one comes with a strong warning for beginner gamers or newcomers to the hobby, but if you love really complex and deep games, go nuts, this’ll be like Christmas but just not actually at Christmas. So just like, a really cool day where you get a fun new game. Hurrah!

3. Whistle Stop

Again with the overdone themes guys, SERIOUSLY.

I do love trains though, so let’s just let this one off this time.

Whistle stop was one of those games that was absolutely ALL OVER twitter during Gen Con. It’s a game that looks nice, has mini trains in it, and is also competitive in a fun ‘pick up things and deliver them to try and build your fledgling railroad company in the mid 1800s’ kind of way. Nice!

Playing in the oddly specific time of 75 minutes this game is a mid length, mid weight, middle of the board game night once everyone has polished off the doritos and beer combo and started chanting ‘TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS’ affair.

Just get it if you like trains.

4. Mountains of Madness

Cthulhu!? WHAT IS THIS, the ‘we’ve done this a million times before already’ brigade or something. Good one Chris.

Slightly different from your usual Cthulhu affair we have a game which sees players going up a mountain and slowly getting progressively more and more insane. And not  insane in a ‘I think that guy looked at me funny’ way, but more like a ‘I saw tentacles in the darkness and now I’m questioning the meaning of existence and god’ way. Fun!

This one is a coop deal, and you have to make sure to communicate on a mostly non-insane  level to successfully complete your mission up the mountain of questionable  intrigue and mystery.

I don’t even understand why you’re party is going UP the mountain in the first place, surely it makes more sense to head DOWN but then that’s just me I guess. It’s a good game though, so that’s a thing.

5. Trench (2nd Edition)

Oh but Chris, why have you put a game in here that already exists! Well, mostly because people are talking about it all over the place, and also because it’s having a SECOND EDITION printed and launched through Kickstarter soon.

Plus look at it. It’s beautiful, and I hate using that word  but it is. A gloriously monochrome glossy sheet of abstract and mind melting strategy goodness. Hell even if you don’t like the game it’s worth the buy to have it sit on your posh fancy coffee table and just sit there…  looking cool.

Coming Soon: The Coldness!

To follow next week, my top 5 under the radar games aka; games that I like the look of that not many people are really talking about that much. Check it out! Not now, but when I post it, obviously.

Yours hotly,

Chris